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Listen very carefully to my tale of waterchange woe...
January 22, 2016
5:11 pm
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Gaina
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March 8, 2015
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Hello Everyone,

Hope you're all well.  Time for an update from Rasbora HQ, and I'm afraid it's a sad one (with a happy ending!). I think I made a rookie mistake which I feel a bit stupid about and I want to share it for the benefit of others (sorry, it's a long one) ...

In May last year I got 8 Harlequin Rasbora after cycling my tank fully.  All Summer they gallivanted around the tank like they should, until about November, when they started spending more time nearer the bottom of the tank. However, they were plump and colourful and behaved normally after 'lights out' and all my water tests were normal so I was truly stumped.

I posted video and photographs on a Tropical Fish group I joined on a well known social media site and when I provided details of my weekly water change I was kindly informed that it was too small and I should go bigger and more often, 30% twice a week to be precise (looking back that does seem crazy but when you're new to something you tend to defer to people who've been doing it longer, especially when a living thing is involved and you want to keep it as happy and healthy as possible).  So, I tried one and my fish seemed to take well to it, so that as the new routine from November to last week (I always use tap water conditioner and add good bacteria when I do water changes).

Last Thursday morning, the day after my water change I had a fish jump out of the water and end up on it's side at the surface.  I gently turned it the right way up and helped it to move forward, getting water over it's gills and it seemed to perk up and got about it's normal business.

Next morning I woke up to a dead fish.  It was my tiniest fish which I had always suspected was a bit runty so I was sad but had half expected it and didn't connect it with the behaviour of the fish the day before.  What happened next was possibly the most distressing day I've had in a long time - one by one five out of my group of 8 started acting confused - like they had neurological problems - and dying. 

I went to my LFS the next day and told them exactly what had happened, including the new water change routine and whilst it was agreed that it was a bit big, the guys couldn't figure out what had happened, though they did note that when they did their water change in the day I started having problems there was a noticeable smell of chlorine from the water supply.  Armed with this information I looked up Chlorine Poisoning on Youtube and the fish exhibited the very same behaviour mine had before dying.

My next task was to contact the local water company (which services me and the LFS) and ask them what they have treated their water with, if anything and also asked for details of water hardness.  They hadn't treated the water with anything but the hardness chart they sent me was very interesting.  At the point I got my fish last year there was an algae bloom in the local reservoir which softened the water, then the GH gradually climbed towards winter, when I noticed my fish becoming less active.  The more I thought about it though, the less likely GH seemed to be the culprit as they are acclimatized before they go on sale.  Also when I had my water tested at the shop this week, the GH was spot on for Rasbora.

So, I think the crash my have been partly my fault for increasing my water change volume too quickly.  Very painful lesson learned.

Anyway, now to the happy ending.  I now have 3 Trigonostigma hengeli. My remaining 3 heteromorpha seem to have found a new lease of life and coloured up beautifully with the new company.  :-)   I'm going to let these little guys settle in then get some more hengeli and gradually build my shoal back up again.  If I have the room, I would also like some male guppies in due time.

 

EDIT: According to Aqadvisor, I don't have the filtration for a decent groups of Hengeli, Heteromorpha AND guppies so I think I will just stick with the Rasbora - they're entertaining little fish so I'm happy at that until I've got room for another tank. :-)

 

January 22, 2016
6:15 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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My first thought to your initial problem, the fish staying at the bottom but returning to normal after lights out, is that your lights are too bright.

When doing water changes it's important to know the chemistry of both your tank water and the change water. If there is a substantial difference it could result in osmotic shock. This could be what cause the big dye off? Is it possible that some contaminate made it's way into the tank? Get some means of testing gh/kh and monitor both until you get them figured out. Liquid test kits or tds meter work for me. You shouldn't need to add bacteria with water changes. I use prime but many don't use anything. It depends a lot on your water source, whether they treat with chlorine or chloromine.

Good luck going forward!

January 23, 2016
6:03 pm
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Byron Hosking
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We would need more specific data in order to possibly narrow down the issue, so what I suggest will be more general in nature.  First off though, when dealing with issues involving water (which is most of the hobby) always give the numbers.  You mention the GH being high, and then normal for rasbora...but without the actual numbers we don't know what this may mean.  

Part of diagnosing an issue is to test pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.  These tests are easy with the API or similar kits.  A sudden drop or rise in pH for example could cause serious issues.  And ammonia or nitrite above zero is an immediate problem.

As for GH, while this does certainly affect fish it is not likely to cause the symptoms you describe, by which I mean the sudden reaction of fish to a change...though again, without the actual numbers there may be something else here.  Chlorine certainly will kill fish within seconds, and here you would see the fish at the surface, gasping, then possibly jumping to escape; but you say you always use a conditioner, and these work immediately for chlorine, though chloramine may be a bit different and require more.  Do you have chlorine and chloramine in your tap water, or just chlorine (the water authority can tell you this, don't mess with test kits)?  And what specific conditioner do you use?

Plaamoo mentioned the issue of water chemistry changes before/after a water change.  Test tank water pH prior to the water change, and test the tap water, then test the tank water about half an hour to an hour following the change.  Temperature is important here too, a slight cooling is fine for most fish, even beneficial, but not more than a couple degrees.

I agree there should be no need for adding bacterial supplements once the tank is initially cycled.  Some of these can do things, though from your description I would not suspect this here.

Finally on water changes...one of the first things I and many others do when something is obviously amiss is a water change, and usually a substantial one.  The only detrimental issue with water changes are if the chemistry/parameters are vastly different, and depending which parameters.  A water change once a week should normally be sufficient (except when issues arise), and I tend to do 50-60% of the tank.  However, this may be an issue depending upon your water so sort out the chemistry first.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA Vancouver, BC Canada
January 23, 2016
8:03 pm
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BillT
Eugene, Oregon
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Another possible problem associated with water changing is the introduction of supersaturated water to your tank.

This can happen if your tap water is coming to your house cold in the pipes under pressure. Large amounts of trapped air in pipes can be forced into solution in the cold water because cold water can hold much more dissolved gas than warm water can.

If you want to get an idea of how much gas can be dissolved in cold water, consider what happens when you drop a Mentos into some Pepsi.

Taking the water out of the pressurized environment of the pipes and then warming it up will result in the excess air in the water coming out as small bubbles, either in the water, on surfaces or in the tissues of fish. CO2 is a special case but it gets the idea across.

Besides seeing bubbles, you may notice the fish may going down to the deepest part of the aquarium where the water pressure is greatest. This will somewhat counteract the forces driving bubble formation in their tissues.

Aeration will help remove excess air from the water in the aquarium. Spraying the water (lots of surface area and turbulence) before putting in to the aquarium can reduce supersaturation.

Larger water changes can make the effects of this condition worse since there is more supersaturated water going into the aquarium and less normal water to dilute the excess air in the supersaturated water.

This is often more of a problem in the winter when tap water gets cold before getting to your home.

Bill Trevarrow [email protected]
January 24, 2016
4:33 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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BillT said
Another possible problem associated with water changing is the introduction of supersaturated water to your tank.
This can happen if your tap water is coming to your house cold in the pipes under pressure. Large amounts of trapped air in pipes can be forced into solution in the cold water because cold water can hold much more dissolved gas than warm water can.
If you want to get an idea of how much gas can be dissolved in cold water, consider what happens when you drop a Mentos into some Pepsi.
Taking the water out of the pressurized environment of the pipes and then warming it up will result in the excess air in the water coming out as small bubbles, either in the water, on surfaces or in the tissues of fish. CO2 is a special case but it gets the idea across.
Besides seeing bubbles, you may notice the fish may going down to the deepest part of the aquarium where the water pressure is greatest. This will somewhat counteract the forces driving bubble formation in their tissues.
Aeration will help remove excess air from the water in the aquarium. Spraying the water (lots of surface area and turbulence) before putting in to the aquarium can reduce supersaturation.
Larger water changes can make the effects of this condition worse since there is more supersaturated water going into the aquarium and less normal water to dilute the excess air in the supersaturated water.
This is often more of a problem in the winter when tap water gets cold before getting to your home.

That's all new and very interesting to me Bill, Thanks!

February 11, 2016
7:26 pm
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Gaina
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March 8, 2015
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Hello Everyone
Thanks for your thoughts on this.  I do apologize for not replying sooner, I'm not getting any emails to say the thread has been updated.
 
I have now lost all but one of my Original Harlequins and one of the new fish I bought 3 weeks ago (Rasbora 'hengeli').  Again, all water parameters and temperature normal and no signs of disease or deformity on the body.
Just over a week ago (last Tuesday to be precise) discovered two fish with a white fin each (not diseased, just like opaque glass) but they had good body condition and were otherwise eating and acting normally (there was no indication that anything was up with them the day before).   I rang my LFS, who asked to email them a photo of the fish and within half an hour they rang me back with a diagnosis of Velvet, and recommend a treatment. One fish did die that same day (Harlequin) but this was a surprise to me because it wasn't either of the one with the white fin and I don't believe the death was connected to the treatment as the instructions stated it was perfectly safe for healthy fish that are in the same tank as the ones to be treated.

Fast forward to Saturday night just gone (Feb 6th) and I found another of my Harlequins dead just as I was heading off to bed.  On Tuesday night (Feb 9th) I saw one of my Hengeli coming to the surface seemingly to breath. I recognized this behaviour in the fish I had lost so I switched the filter to the Venturi spout for the night to get some extra oxygenation going and hoped, but obviously it was to no avail.

So now I am left with 5 Hengeli rasbora and 1 Harlequin.
 
As far as the hardness goes, I'm still puzzled because the API test strip puts my water (both tap and tank) at a hardness only suitable for Goldfish and Cichlids (KH and GH 180), whereas my LFS put it at 12 degrees when I had it tested before I got the Hengeli which should be fine for them (!?).
With regard to water temperature and profiles, I always make sure the water going in is as close as possible to the temperature of my tank, and when I do my weekly water tests I always log the results for both tank and tap water so I can easily spot any major discrepancies.

I'm not getting any more fish for at least a month as I want to figure this out (also to be honest I'm wavering as to weather I ever want to keep fish again!).

Thanks for giving me so much information. There's a lot for me to digest here, so I probably haven't addressed everyone's comments in this thread, so I'll read it all thoroughly and let you know if anything sticks out.
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