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Old 03-13-2012, 12:04 PM   #1 
SVC
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Water Conditions!!

Hi everyone,

I have not been on in a while since everything had been going well with my Betta and of course kids running me ragged! Anyway, not to prolong the subject, I have come across a dilemma.

My betta was previously kept in a 10g filtered, heated tank with neon tetras. Tank went through some wonky cycling issues and I lost the tetras and nursed the betta back to health a few times. Problem was that the tetras were harassing the betta all the time and I got tired of him getting nipped so I bought a 5 gallon fluval chi and put him in there alone. He was SO happy! You should have seen how he started flaring again and swimming around like he was the king of the castle with his fins all fully displayed! Everything was fine for a month and a half or so, and then I noticed he started hanging around the top corner all the time. He didn't look sick, and he was eating fine, but as the days went on, he would always hover around the top corner of the tank. Then last week, one morning, I went in to check on him and noticed that his anal fin was ripped to shreds and he was all pale, and the section above his anal fin looked kind of black, as if the blackness was on the inside. He was also curled into a C shape and could not straighten himself. There was nothing wrong with him the day before! I quickly took him out of there and into some water with salt, assuming he had gotten caught somewhere and mangled his fins. Unfortunately, he must have been too far gone because he didn't make it the next few hours! My poor little guy had been through so much and recovered, that it amazed me that he succumbed so quickly to whatever had happened. He had a habit of always getting bloated but it would always go away eventually. By the way, I had used water and some media from his original tank in the chi so it wasn't like it was a new setup. All readings were good for water quality and I hadn't been testing it on a regular basis after the first couple of weeks he was in there.

Now here is the thing. Normally, my water readings are as follows:

Ammonia - 0
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 20ppm
pH - 7.8
KH - 5
GH - 11

This time, when I tested the water, the readings were the same, except that KH was now 8, and GH was 19! That is a drastic change. After some research, I realized that since the chi has no lid, the rate of evaporation was a lot. Pretty much, every two days I would have to top up about 4-5 cups of water as it would get below the minimum water line marked on the filter. I didn't know at the time that topping up water would cause the hardness to increase because the minerals did not also evaporate with the water so I am guessing that is why my hardness increased so much. Of course I did water changes, but not that frequently compared to the amount of water that needed to be added on an every second day basis.

My questions are:

1.) could this have been the reason my betta just took such a turn for the worse and died? It makes sense, although it doesn't explain the mangled fin.

2.) How do I safely bring down this level of hardness? I doubt there are many fish that prefer this condition of water. Since the betta died, I didn't want to keep it fishless so it would uncycle so to speak, so I bought a couple of balloon belly mollies and 4 ghost shrimp and with it came a teeny tiny hitchhiker trumpet snail baby. I am holding out for another betta, this time a crown tail or half moon but my store didn't have any just yet. My plan was to leave the aforementioned mollies etc. in there till I bought a new betta and then move those guys to my 10 gallon tank that has 3 danios in it as well as a rock shrimp and pond snail. This way I can QT the new fish before putting them in my bigger tank and keep the chi going too until a new betta comes.

That said, I don't want to kill the mollies with such a high hardness. Any advice out there?? I know technically a stable level is better than a lot of instability trying to get to a correct number but isn't 19 way too high? I was advised by pet store to maybe top up the chi with distilled water that way I wouldn't be adding anymore minerals to the already building up amount there is. I was also told not to do water changes with distilled though as that would remove the buffer quality of water. Am I on the right track here? Also, should I be adding any salt for the shrimp and if so, which kind?

Sorry for such a long and involved dilemma. I always seem to encounter these strange things!

TIA for any help!!!

SVC :)
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:44 PM   #2 
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I think you should get some sort of lid to prevent evaporation.. Topping off with distilled water seems like a good idea, since you aren't adding more minerals. Distilled water is not recommend because it has no minerals, but in your case you want to reduce it, so I think it should be okay.. Not totally sure. Just trying to give you some sort of answer since you haven't received one :)
Also, a 5gal with mollies is a bad idea- mollies need a lot of room since they make a lot of ammonia. 10 gallons is already small for danios, let alone mollies..
The shrimp do not require salt.. they are totally fresh water.
How many mollies do you have?
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:01 AM   #3 
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Hi Olympia, and thanks for your reply. I know it's a bit long and involved but any help helps. lol

In answer to some of your questions,

1.) I wish I could find a lid for the chi tank. It's really dumb that it doesn't come with one by now, or that at the very least, you can buy it where you buy the tank. As far as I know it is only available online or something, and being in Canada, it will probably cost me as much as the tank by the time it gets here. I may ask my Petsmart where I bought my tank and see if they can't order one in.

2.) From what I've read, and been told, topping off with distilled water should be ok as long as the water changes are not done with distilled water. I think the important thing is to keep things stable and not have big jumps at once which is what I am trying to do.

3.) As for the mollies being in a 5 gallon, I don't plan on keeping them there. They are just in there until I get a new betta and then they will be moving to the 10 gallon. However, you are saying that 10 gallons is barely enough for 3 danios. I thought it was an inch per gallon? My danios are only about 1.5" each and the mollies are about the same or less and I only have two of them. I plan on getting a third (a female) because the two I have are males. That should put me at the limit for a ten gallon, no?

3.) So the ghost shrimp don't need salt? I read that they needed some salt to help when they molt. Speaking of the shrimp, I lost two in two days. I am now down to 2, and fear they will go next. Do you suppose the water hardness is too much, or were they just stressed coming to a new tank? I know one of them molted the day it came home because it's shell was there getting eaten, but I don't know why they keep dying.

Again, thanks for the advice. I will make sure to test the water more often to make sure the ammonia doesn't build up too much. The mollies don't seem like they make that much mess. The danios on the other hand, are a different story!
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:18 AM   #4 
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The gallon per inch rule is kind of silly. 10 gallons is small for danios, because they are very active fish and enjoy a lot of room to swim around.. I'm sure your mollies and danios could survive there fine, your danios would just appreciate more room to zoom around. You two mollies are males? I wouldn't get a female. Mollies are live bearers and before you know it you will be overcome with babies.. So unless you have a plan for what to do with tons of baby fishies, I'd just keep the two boys.

The shrimp do not need salt to molt from what I am aware... Another thing about shrimp, you seem to have a lot of hardness issues.. Do you know if your water contains copper? Shrimp are easily killed by copper in the water, that could be the issue.. I know for me if you use hot tap water, it has a lot of copper, while cold tap water doesn't have copper. Just a thought. I have never kept ghosties for more than a few days because I always lose them too.
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Old 03-15-2012, 10:49 AM   #5 
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Ah, I see. I am not a very experienced fish keeper. It has been less than a year since I got my first betta so I am trying to learn as much as I can from those more experienced, and from what I read for myself. Sometimes there is so much info, you get lost in it all.

Yes, the danios are hyper little things, and from what I've seen, the mollies can be as well. Hmm, I will think about adding the female molly. I was told actually that it is better to put them in groups of male and female otherwise just males would be too aggressive to each other. The day I bought them, there were no females left so I took the two males and figured I'd get a female with the new shipment. Surprisingly, I have had one female, two male danios for months and so far nothing has happened. I don't have any babies! The female looked really big about a month ago and I thought she was pregnant, but nothing has happened and now she's not so big anymore. I just assumed it was the same with other fish. I figured you had to give them the right conditions to breed like with bettas otherwise they wouldn't. Lots to think about.

On the subject of the shrimp, you raise some interesting facts. I have about every test for water that exists but I don't have one that specifically tests for copper. An interesting point you made was that hot water has copper sometimes while cold may not. I do mix hot and cold when refilling my tanks to get the proper temperature so if my water has copper, maybe it is getting in the tank that way? Wouldn't Prime get rid of that though? I thought it removed metals as well as chlorine/chloramines etc. Anyway, I am going to go in to the fish store again today and I'll take a sample from both tanks in with me. Maybe they can test for copper too and see what's up and what to do with this hardness.

Thanks so much for your help!!
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Old 03-15-2012, 11:35 AM   #6 
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Well the thing about live bearers is that they don't lay eggs, they have live babies (hence the name). They reproduce MUCH more easily than other fish, and the young tend to survive since there is just so many. Your danio might have been pregnant, but danios just scatter their eggs wherever, and they probably at their own eggs before you could notice.. You could try adding another male mollie so the aggression is spread out (like in a betta sorority).

The reason copper isn't really counted in tests and such, is because I believe there is copper in fish medications of some sorts.. copper isn't harmful to fish (or humans), just to shrimp.. Now that shrimp are becoming more popular this is becoming more of a concern to people. For pretty much every fish medication, taking your shrimp out is a good idea.. They are crustaceans, so their bodies are different from a fish's. I know when your water heats it puts copper into the water somehow..
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:40 PM   #7 
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I see. I think I read about the danios that you had to separate them so the male could fertilize the eggs or something and that if you leave them in the main tank they won't do it and the eggs would eventually be reabsorbed into the body. I looked it up after I thought she was pregnant and then I left them alone since I don't have another tank to deal with babies and such. Who knows though? I guess with live bearers it would be different.

Yes, I do realize that there is copper in many fish medications and since I got inverts I am conscious to not use that stuff. I've already bought the natural version of rid ich and have it handy in case I ever need it.

Last edited by SVC; 03-15-2012 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:55 PM   #8 
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Well that's good to know. I'm not to sure if you can test for copper in water at a petstore.. Maybe a hardware store would be more helpful in this case? Either way keep an eye on your shrimpies:D I didn't know about the copper thing till after my ghosties died, and I'm planning on trying them again when my new tank cycles.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:42 PM   #9 
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Will do. If the pet store can't help I'll try the hardware store.

So far my remaining two shrimps are alive. Let's see how long they'll last. At times like this I wish I had a bigger tank, there are so many beautiful fish out there!

Good luck with your new tank. Hope your next shrimpies will fare better.
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