cordreyba

Fish Death

30 posts in this topic

Hello all,

 

I have a newly upgraded system and having issues with my temporary goldfish going belly up.  

 

My System has 1000L FT, 30 Gal RFF, 30 Gal GB, 4- 26 Gal GB Filled with Lava Rock and Clay Media, 30 Gal Sump and about 30 FT of PVC NFT tubes.  I cycled with pure Ammonia(No Detergents).  Water Temp has been between 60-75 F.  Levels before fish PH-6.2, AM- .25, NO2- 0ppm, NO3- 20-40ppm.  I waited over a week after last AM dose and added 2 dozen goldfish, all died with in 12 hours.  I did 3 30 gal water swaps over the corse of a week.  PH went up to about 6.8 and everything else stayed the same except the NO3 would climb as high as 120ppm before a water change.  I find that strange because I was not adding an AM...  Also, all the dead fish were accounted for.   Well I added 24 more goldies and 3 days later and 12 are dead.  I just did another 30 gal water swap. My Catfish should be ready in a week the supplier said but I won't be ready if I keep killing Goldfish.  What could be causing the mortality of these little fish.  My water was cloudy after cycling before the first set of fish but not now its crystal clear.  I am using city water but treating with Vitamin C for Chloramines and letting it sit for at least 24 hours before adding it to the FT.

 

I need help before my Channel Cat Fingerlings are ready.  What could be the problem?

 

Help, 

 

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HI Ben,

 

The first thing to do is to determine if the ammonia is as pure as you think it is.

 

Shake the bottle vigorously.  If that produces bubbles, then your ammonia contains something other than ammonia.

 

Are you absolutely certain that your system cycled? 

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Gary, it is pure I did the shake test at like 10 stores. I found a not bubbling ammonia at the hardware store closest to my home of course. So I am sure it is fine. As far as the cycling being complete, I am sure it is done. I watched the numbers and logged daily. It took about 8 weeks. I did another 30 gal water swap and the last 12 fish seemed fine this morning. I will do another in 2 days. When I ran my previous system I only ever did water adds never drained water. But the swaps of water seem to be helping. I am going to try to salt the water to see if that helps with anything.

Thanks for your input,

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your nitrates going up without any ammonia added could mean your water still has the ammonia component of chloromine, which is feeding your nitrites and of course raising your nitrates. (As you probably know it consists of ammomia + chlorine). Perhaps the type of test you are using is not showing the ammonia?

Or for whatever reason your Vitamin C is not doing the job?

No experience using Vitamin C so...

The only other possibility is your goldfish are not healthy. Although tough, goldfish are notorius for carrying disease and parasites. I would never ever cycle a system with goldfish. But then all my cycling has been fishless.

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank Cecil, 

 

That makes sense actually.  I went through my notes and the day that I took that the AM was as high as 120ppm was 3 days after a water change and the vitamin C added to the tank.  So that actually is probably what causes the spike from the AM the vitamin C inadvertently made.  But my test kit is almost empty so maybe it is not working properly in its old age.  I know that happens to me.

 

As far as the goldfish,  I was just filling the gap from fishless cycle and no fish available due to an extra cold spring here in Virginia and the catfish hatchery unable to get Catfish fingerlings.  But I am kind of glad as I think I have encountered an issue.  Feeder goldfish are as about as cheep as they come the Catfish will be soon eating them as small meal.

 

A possibility is I just got 4 unhealthy dozen goldfish form 2 different LPS.  I will continue to watch the levels and do water changes.

 

Thanks again for the help.  I am also going to Salt the tank, as I forgot about that trick, but hopefully that will help as well.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben,

 

Another thing to consider is that the toxicity of ammonia increases with pH.  At pH 6.2, it's unlikely to impact your fish but, at PH 7.8, it could be very different.  This table shows the relationship between ammonia levels, pH and temperature.

 

Gary

Edited by Gary Donaldson (see edit history)
Cecil likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The salt will help with stress and nitrites.

Hope you get it figured out. No fun when fish die!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gary, that brings up an interesting point, and may be the root of the problem. Could something in the system be causing my PH to decrease as 6.0 is as low as the ph test goes. Maybe it is lower and then that causing a higher toxicity of my AM. Maybe decomposing roots, leaves or build up of the dust from my lava rocks or clay media. I have noticed that the grow beds have a small about of red dust that has settled on the bottom. I did rinse everything but it still had some on it. My RFF had a lot and I vacumed a lot out. Just a thought, I don't want to have to clean my bio filter but if I have to I will. Maybe only rinse with FT water to preserve good bacteria. Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually your ammonia is more toxic at a HIGHER ph as Gary said.

Could the "red dust" be precipitated iron?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you posted it, I may have missed it. I dont see a KH reading or alkalinity.  There are minor variances in the readings. The main thing is to have a reading  greater than 40 ppm or 3 degrees if using that scale.   

 

As far as feeder gold fish, a 50% mortality rate seems to be pretty common. They are often kept in horrible conditions and just moving them to good conditions can be a shock for them. They are sold with the idea that they will  be consumed quickly.  The pet stores that double as aquarium stores are horrible places to get clean stock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cecil, sorry I mis read the chart, and was thinking higher number higher ammonia, I guess looking at pictures and not reading words is not the best. As far as the dust it is just the residue from the lava rocks. I don't think it's harmfull but may be affecting something else.

Ravnis, I didn't post those readings looks like Amazon prime will be getting me some more test kits on the way. I just use the master kit now, but I am about out of solution on a few tests. As far as the goldfish it is possible that they are just a unhealthy fish and I am over thinking this. My cats are only .43 US dollars a piece so it's not going to make me go broke. I am told that my LPS does water testing for free so maybe I will bring in a sample to see if they find different results.

I am now wondering if my bio-filter is harboring something that is bad. It is the same media from 1 and half years ago when I ran the system last. It was all rinsed wrung out. But it sat in the elements for at least 9 months. I am honestly thinking of draining the system and starting over with the cycle. I am pretty sure 8 more weeks will put me past the availability of channel cat in my area.

Is there a particular thing to look for if I have something growing in my bio filter that shouldnt be? Maybe just rinse everything in top off water and reinstall, ring out all the sponges and stuff. I won't add the top off water to the tank after word of couse.

I am down to 4 fish today. They are all at the bottom swimming around until they are swimming sideways. My ph have gone to 6.8 everything else is stable. Water temp 72, greenhouse temp 71 to 83. I salted the tank with about 3.5 cups and will see how that does.

On a positive note veggies are looking great! Havested a fresh salad today tonight to go with dinner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Salting  should help with pathogens outside of the fish if there are any.  The reading from the LPS might be worthwhile if nothing else to confirm you're test kit readings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Cecil. So found the problem at the LPS. Off the chart AM. I guess my test kit went bad bought a new one and tested with both side by side and old one read .25 ppm and the other read off the chart. I am now impressed with the goldfish. I am now draining about 325 gallons from the system. But am now wondering where the AM is coming from. But I was probably over loading the system when fish less cycling. Maybe the system has never caught up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you were dosing ammonia for fishless cycling with a faulty test kit, then there is no way of knowing how high it really got. The bad thing is that the ammonia probably killed off your other bacteria. After your water change, check again and see where you are.   You're readings of nitrates suggest that some of the cycling bacteria are still there and the system may go through a quicker recycle.

 

  A sudden change in ph has caused me problems with  elevated ammonia levels for a day up to a week.

 

What I did, was dilute the fish water with tap water till I got a reading I could measure and then extrapolate what the level really was.  After your water change you could fill 1/2 tap and 1/2 tank water and then double what reading you have.  It looks like your maxed out, but it could just be the color setting on my monitor.

 

Did you by any chance get an alkalinity or KH reading as well at the LPS?

Edited by Ravnis (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just got done draining roughly 300 gallons from the system. I ran the tests after only 30 min of the water cycling and I got:

PH 7.6

AM- 8ppm exactly not off the chart this time.

NO2- .25

NO3- 160ppm

KH- 3-4 degrees, it went blue to green at 3 and yellow at 4 so 3.5 degrees

I will test tomorrow as I know this is not a very good representation of the water in the system.

I also throughly cleaned the RFF with a shop vac. I disassembled the bio filter and gave everything a good rinse. I did find some organic material (leaves and roots maybe some small twigs). I am confident that I have got this figured out. I will continue to monitor it, hopefully I will have a drop in AM and NO2 will spike tomorrow. Fingers crossed. I hope that the nitrifying bacteria didn't get killed, but my high NO3 makes me think its working still. I also hope I didn't disturb the bio filter too much.

Thanks for all the input. Maybe someday I will be able to contribute to help other people from all my mistakes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Ben,

 

Stale test kits have trapped more experienced players than you, so don't be too disheartened.

 

If you can remove the goldfish and put them into something a bit more amenable that will help them to survive.  At that pH and ammonia reading, they are probably "dead men walking".   If they were to remain in the system, I'd suggest you drop the pH......but, as things are, it's best to remove them and euthanise them.

 

As far as the system goes, leave it as it is.  Wait for the ammonia levels to drop below 4ppm.  You will, within a day or two, see nitrite levels start to increase.  Then, several days after that, the ammonia levels will drop to ZERO.  Soon after that (a day or two), your nitrite levels will also drop to ZERO.......and that's when your system has cycled.

 

Then you can add fish.

 

If you do as I've suggested, you should be about a week away from cycling.  It goes without saying that you should not add any more ammonia....until cycling is complete.  You will only add ammonia after that time if you are looking to hold the system in a cycled state pending the arrival of the fish.  In that eventuality, discuss it here before you actually add any more.

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Gary,

I will let it be for sure, there is only one lone swimmer left when I came home from the LFS. And started this whole cleaning water swap evolution. I will monitor and post my results. I will talk it out before dosing again if my fishes aren't ready when my system fixes himself.

Ben

GaryD likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like I am like 6ppm!!! I think am headed in the right direction. In 24 hours not bad.

post-2287-0-31427200-1430518795_thumb.jp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben,

 

Watch it continue to drop…..and suddenly the backside will fall out of it and it will drop to ZERO.  Then you can anticipate an increase in nitrites…..and then it will drop to ZERO.  Then you're cycled.

 

It's a really easy way to cycle a fish system…..if you don't make the mistake that you made and overdose it.  Actually, not even that would have been an issue if you hadn't made another mistake in using a stale test kit.

 

The upside is that you've made the mistakes and you've learned two valuable lessons…..and all it cost you was a few days and five dollars worth of feeder fish.

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So things are progressing, AM is down to 1 ppm. So I am happy. Should be cycled in a few days. My concern is my PH has dropped to 6.0. My Tap water is 7.6 so I assume the system is what is lowering the PH. Any ideas on how to maintain the PH at a more optimal level?

Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps the intense nitrification is driving down the ph. Perhaps some water changing will bring it back up since your source water is 7.6? Or you need to slowly add something to bring it up?

Never had this issue so I can't advise you from experience. I do know your nitrification will work better at a higher ph.

Someone else?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nitrification bacteria consume carbonates during the conversion process.  One reason to monitor the KH as when it drops the ph will shift lower. Water changes will add alkalinity or you can add hydroxides or carbonates.   You can test your KH and if it is below 3 degrees you should consider raising it.

I personally prefer carbonates as less likely to overshoot the ph.   A small amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is typically easiest to get ahold of. I use Potassium bicarbonate as the potassium will be used by the plants.   Some use calcium hydroxide as it will add calcium to the water.   Whatever method you choose.  Add it to a bucket and test the bucket ph prior to adding to the fish tank. Too much of a rise will hurt bacteria and fish.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now