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Ailing neon tetras and water quality

Hi all,

I while ago I wrote with  problems affecting my neon tetras. It did not 
appear to spread to others in the tank, including cardinals, otocinclus, and 
a few flagfish. The cardinals were becoming somewhat faded in color, and were 
hiding a bit and not eating well, but as they tend to follow the neons, I 
thought it was just group behavior.

I bought into the idea that it may be neon tetra disease, though I was 
leaning towards thinking water quality was affecting them in some way. I 
recalled that I was using a lead plant fastener to attach a hose buried in 
the back of the tank somewhere. Water in this tank is kept acidic, never 
higher than about 6.7, and hovers generally between 6.2-6.6. I began treating 
with nalagram, even though I felt I was adding insult to injury (worsening 
water quality further). By the second dose, NONE of the fish were eating. 
Nearly all the cardinals and tetras had lost color. I did not wait the full 
48 hours after this dose. I changed large amounts of water, added carbon to 
the filter for 48 hours, and for several days did large water changes. (After 
having removed that lead plant fastener). I believe I replaced water 
entirely, over the few days. (Fortunately, it's a small one--20 gallons).

By this time, I'd forgotten how beautiful these fish can be. It's been almost 
2 weeks, and they've regained their color, are eating well, and are swimming 
around. They had declined so gradually that I didn't take notice. I did still 
lose another neon, and another one has a severely bent back and that rugged 
red color, and I don't expect him to fully regain his health. I believe the 
neons were more susceptible first, because they are perhaps weaker fish. Just 
a thought.

I just wanted to mention this. We talk about the importance of water quality. 
I always go to the trouble and expense of using pre-filtered water for the 
fish, for this reason. And yet here I was using a small piece of lead, which 
I believe was poisoning the water. (And it's sold for fish tanks, duh). 

Just wanted to post an update . . .