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Problem with my neon dwarf rainbows
March 18, 2013
9:58 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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Hi forum!!!  This is my first post.  I am a new aquarist.  Started researching last August and had my 75 gal FW tank cycled on 12/20.  I run 2 AC110s, 2 Aqueon Pro Heaters 250w each and a Beamswork 48 inch single brite LED.  

On 12/20 I added 8 neon dwarf rainbowfish, 6 zebra danios and 4 scissortail rasboras.  Lost 2 danios within 24 hrs and 3 more within the next 24 hrs.  One of the rainbows had an injury to the right gill during transport and I lost him 3 weeks later. Water params were 0/0/10, pH 7.2 , temp 77.2, GH 4, TDS 0.  Water level is at the bottom of the AC110 waterfall.  I use the API master test kit and have used an RO/DI unit right from the start, as my tap water cannot be used in an aquarium.  I add Seachem Replenish to bring the GH to 4.  Water changes are done weekly (30%) and one of my 2 AC110s is cleaned each week (right one this week, left one next week) - so each one is cleaned every 2 weeks.

On 1/26 I added 1 more scissortail (5 total), 3 zebra danios (lost 2 again within 24 hrs, total now 2), and 4 gold pristella tetras.  

On 2/10 I added 7 more gold pristella tetras (11 total) and 1 calico BN pleco.

On 2/24 I completed my stocking with 2 more neon dwarf rainbows (total 9) and 1 more calico BN pleco (total 2).

 On 3/6 I noticed one of the original rainbows at the top of the tank, breathing a bit hard at the surface.  Within 24 hrs he was dead.  No marks, bumps, red gills, scales all nice and flat against the body, color good.

I now have 2 more rainbows (both females) doing the same thing.  They look the same as always.  It is only the rainbows who are having a problem, all the other fish are fine.

Water is 0/0/10 pH 7.0 - 7.2, temp 77.2, GH 4, TDS 0.  As I use RO/DI water, the parameters are consistent from week to week.  Just did a 40% water change yesterday and cleaned the left side filter.

I thought maybe these were older fish when I bought them.  They have been very healthy, very active and with good appetites - until now.

Any ideas what could be happening?  Your opinions would be greatly appreciated.

 

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

March 18, 2013
10:37 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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Hi there.

Either your GH test or your TDS meter isn't working! If TDS is 0, you cannot have a GH value of 4! 

Eventhough TDS (total dissolved solids) meters are working mostly on dissolved salts and can hence be converted with some degree of accuracy only into conductivity (micro Siemens) it should be clear that a TDS of 0 cannot result in a GH of 4!

Regards

R.

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
March 18, 2013
10:49 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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Thanks for your reply.

GH of 4 is after adding Seachem Replenish to bring the GH to 4.  TDS of 0 is the RO/DI water as it comes out of the unit, prior to adding the Replenish.

 

 

 

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

March 18, 2013
11:50 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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What you need to test is the water in the aquarium, as well as the water you add(after the replenish has been added)

 

You're losing zebra danios that quickly there's something wrong. Are you acclimating them? How and for how long? Test your aquarium water and get the water parameters from the shop where you buy them and compare. The difference may give you a clue.

IMO you should stop buying fish until you get to the bottom of this. After you do get things under control and are ready for more fish, QUARANTINE ALL NEW FISH!

For rainbowfish info begin by reading Adrian Tappan's book. I can't find the link!

March 19, 2013
5:41 am
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mikev
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IMO you should stop buying fish until you get to the bottom of this. After you do get things under control and are ready for more fish, QUARANTINE ALL NEW FISH!

Great advice here... but let me add: one should not use R/O (or any even slightly nontrivial technology) on a larger tank right away, but get things tested on a small setup for a few months first.

A couple of things on RO systems to notice (I hopefully know a little about the subject, having 150+ tanks running on it):

As I use RO/DI water, the parameters are consistent from week to week.

Hmm.. .not true at all. Parameters depend on how much of mineral salts you add.... and if you use a measuring spoon your TDS will jump around. In most places tap water would be more consistent.

(This is not what is killing your fish, likely. But if you are not equalizing temperature on 40% W/C, this can be deadly.).

TDS of 70 (gH=4 should translate to about it, but you should measure!) is too low for m.praecox.

(but ok for danios)

And another one: there are two products that are generally used by RO/DI people: Kent's R/O Right and Seachem's Equilibrium. I use Kent myself, since my trust in Seachem is limited...for good reasons. Now, here is a snippet from Seachem's writeup on Equilibrium:

Unlike competing products, Equilibrium contains NO SODIUM CHLORIDE. Both sodium and chloride are not rapidly depleted elements in a planted aquarium, and, in the case of chloride, can do more harm than good.

A good point here. Now, let's check just what are the ingredients of Replenish:

Ingredients: calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, potassium chloride

.
A load of chloride ions and nothing else. OMG!

I have no idea just what was the Seachem's intend with this product...especially when they have one that seems to work.

It is quite likely that you got kH problems too, if Seachem's ingredient list is to be believed, kH is 0, and this would result in unstable pH, deadly too.

I'd suggest to first recheck that you indeed must use RO/DI --- lfs' would often try to sell unneeded expensive equipment. Then, regardless of the results, I'd try running a 10g single species tank *ONLY*, for instance with a small group of zebra danios and nothing else, for at least 6 months, preferably for a year, to make sure you are doing this right.

Hopefully this is of some use to you.

March 19, 2013
5:21 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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I appreciate all the replies and help.

I do drip acclimation on all fish, over a 1 1/2 to 2 hour time frame.  I test my water prior to and after water changes, as I have to get the GH right.  I must use RO/DI water as my tap is 1.0 ppm ammonia, 10 nitrates and a pH of 8.4 to 8.99.  It is city water and is full of chloramines, as it is a combination of river and well water and water quality varies greatly depending on the weather.  I can't even mix it with the RO/DI water.  Also, I match the RO/DI water to my tank water temp of 77 degrees.  I control the temp thru my kitchen faucet. 

The loss of the danios was from stress.  The girl at my LFS had a horrible time netting them - it took her 25 minutes to net 6.  I wanted 10, but told her to stop as the fish in the tank were so stressed.  I should not have taken the 6 danios home - I learned a hard lesson.

The Replenish was recommended by my LFS.  They also use RO/DI water (not the same water source) and use the Replenish.  I can pick up the RO Right at another LFS.  Do you really think that after the tank has been up and running for 3 months, this could be the problem?  What is the correct GH for this fish and will it be okay for the rest of my tank?

Another forum suggested gill flukes or columnaris.

 

 

 

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

March 19, 2013
5:31 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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Also, I did not buy the RO/DI unit from my LFS - bought it online.  On Seachem's website it says Equilibrium is for planted tanks - I have all artificial plants. 

If I start to use the RO Right, can I use it with my next water change?  How many degrees of hardness should I raise it with each change and how often - once a week at PWC time?

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

March 19, 2013
6:24 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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Hi Laura,

first I'd lie to say that I second every bit of advice Jim and Mike have given. It's still a bit of guess work to figure out what's actually happening to your fishes! I would like to suggest an alternative to your RO/DI unit or at least a sensible addition.

From what you've been "unveiling" bit by bit, it seems that the only real problem wit your tap water is the Ammonia level. I had to struggle with that once myself when I had water, which read close to 2 ppm of Ammonia.

Then, I just set up a separate tank, including biological filtration, holding about double the volume of my fish tank, (doesn't necessarily have to be an Aquarium). You don't even have to seed it with Ammonia, when it comes straight from the tap. Add a bucket of leaf litter or some peat to that tank or filter, which will bring down the pH at the same time.

This way, you can do your water changes straight from that tank. Replenish the used water with tap water and you should be able to do regular water changes about every 10 days without having to experiment with the dosage of chemicals to replenish what you have taken out of the water in the first place!!

You might want to give it a thought.

Regards

R.

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
March 19, 2013
7:35 pm
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mikev
NYC
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gronlaura said
I must use RO/DI water as my tap is 1.0 ppm ammonia, 10 nitrates and a pH of 8.4 to 8.99.  It is city water and is full of chloramines, as it is a combination of river and well water and water quality varies greatly depending on the weather.  I can't even mix it with the RO/DI water.  

RO is still not necesserily the requirement. Ammonia and chloramines can be dealt with Prime, this is what most people do. High pH is acceptable for some fish (m.praecox) and can be lowered too.

What you need to do is to locate fishkeepers in your area and see how they deal with water. Not lfs people who rarely know what they are doing, not novices, but ones who have some sense. Your local fish club if one exists is a good place to start. where are you located, anyway?--perhaps someone can point you in the right direction.

Stressing danios to death by catching them? Hmm... Probably, not.

Do you really think that after the tank has been up and running for 3 months, this could be the problem?

I guess *this* means using Replenish? Quite likely, water with chloride being the only negative ion is rather questionable... normal fresh water contains a mix of negative ions. Where is S? Where is C? *CHECK* kH.

R/O Right is insufficient by itself (and ditto for Seachem's Equilibrium)... you also need some buffers.

 What is the correct GH for this fish and will it be okay for the rest of my tank?

Around 6 should be ok but you have bigger problems than ideal gH.

Another forum suggested gill flukes or columnaris.

Oh, I think we can almost take it for granted that if one adds a load of lfs fish a few times, without quarantining, your tank has some deadly diseases going. But why specifically these two? Why not TB, or velvet, or internal parasites, or all of these at once and a few more as well?

March 19, 2013
7:42 pm
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mikev
NYC
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R,

yes, your ammonia removal technique would definitely work, but chloramines would remain an issue...they are worse than ammonia.

Here is the spec for default dosing of Prime (incidentally, Seachem, but this time a good product):

Use 1 capful (5 mL) for each 200 L (50 gallons*) of new water. This removes approximately 1 mg/L ammonia, 4 mg/L chloramine, or 5 mg/L chlorine. For smaller doses, please note each cap thread is approx. 1 mL. May be added to aquarium directly, but better if added to new water first. If adding directly to aquarium, base dose on aquarium volume. Sulfur odor is normal. For exceptionally high chloramine concentrations, a double dose may be used safely.

March 19, 2013
7:54 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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March 18, 2013
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Doesn't Prime just detoxify the ammonia for 24 hours till the beneficial bacteria can handle it?  It doesn't remove it.  Also, my water supply is not stable - it varies greatly as it comes from the Fox River.  

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

March 19, 2013
7:57 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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March 18, 2013
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What buffers?  I assume this is for a stable pH?  Why is the Replenish or RO Right not sufficient?

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

March 19, 2013
8:08 pm
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mikev
NYC
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gronlaura said

Doesn't Prime just detoxify the ammonia for 24 hours till the beneficial bacteria can handle it?  It doesn't remove it.

this is good enough, an established tank will eat 1ppm of ammonia (or ammonium) within 2-3 hours.

 Also, my water supply is not stable - it varies greatly as it comes from the Fox River.  

This is why you want to talk to local people.

What buffers? I assume this is for a stable pH?

yes

Why is the Replenish or RO Right not sufficient?

because replenish does not seem to include any carbonate ions at all and RO right contains very little (only enough for very light stocking).
I use Seabuffer but Seachem's alkaline buffer or even baking soda should work too.

March 19, 2013
8:46 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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No local fish club - closest one is in Milwaukee.  The guy at my LFS has a degree in chemistry and biology - they are about 25 miles from me and also use RO/DI water at the store.  No one locally that I can talk to.  I am a member of the Aquatic Community forum and they have helped me a lot.

 

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

March 19, 2013
11:01 pm
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mikev
NYC
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Milwaukee... so WI/MN water.

A couple of my nicer rainbow groups come from a breeder in your area.... indeed, very hard and alkaline water, but this did not stop him from keeping, breeding and raising healthy offsprings... and he did not use R/O. He is not the only rainbow person in your area I know of either.

Now, danios/rasboras/tetras in your type of water may be a problem... or not, this is why local experts are so valuable.

March 20, 2013
8:33 pm
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gronlaura
Elgin, IL USA
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I have northeastern IL water from the Fox River and 7 local city wells.  Milwaukee is about 2 hours northeast of me and the club meetings are Friday nights.  Unfortunately, I can't get there for the meetings.  

 

Last night I did a 25% PWC, vacuumed the sand and refilled the tank to the level of the AC110 waterfalls (a little above the filter’s waterfall).  What a difference in the amount of surface agitation!  I also added an airstone to make sure there is enough aeration.  I now have really nice water movement at the surface.

I added Seachem Replenish to bring the dGH to 5 and added Seachem Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer to set my pH at 7.5.  I will do bi-weekly PWCs and add 1 dGH at each change to bring the dGH to 10.  I will also get veggie flakes today after work.  Until now, I didn't know they were such an important part of the rainbow’s diet.

Water after PWC and this morning is 0/0/5, dGH 5, dKH 2, pH 7.4 and temp 77.2.  All tests were done with the API master test kit.  I am very pleased with the results. 

This morning my rainbows were more active and the 2 who were breathing at the surface are in the top 1/3 of the tank, but not at the surface.  I watched them for quite a while this morning and they seem more comfortable than before the PWC and water treatments.

Thanks to all for your help and guidance.

75 gal freshwater with artificial plants and sand substrate 
11 Gold Pristella Tetras, 8 Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish, 5 Scissortail Rasboras 
A lone Zebra Danio survivor and a small Danio friend to keep him happy 
And 2 extremely cool Calico Bristlenose Plecos

 

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