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The Death Tank
Help! I am having major tank problems and am at a loss. Sorry this is long
but hope to cover everything.
I have a 26 gallon tank that has been set up for around 3 years. It is a
low-tech tank. No CO2, 2 fluorescent bulbs above it(one ultra-tri-lux, and
aquari-lux type), TMG 10ml with water changes. Recently, I started adding
Seachem Potassium to stop the holes developing on everything. No substrate
additives, just 2-3 mm plain gravel. Plants were doing great and then
everything seemed to stop. Should have realized it... Ironically, out of
habit from raising African cichlids, I had put a big mesh bag of pulverized
coral in my tanks upon startup. Maybe as much as 2 months ago I took it
out. This awful, soft water got all out of kilter and stuff started. First
the adolofo cories started dying one by one over a period of a month or so.
It was awhile between deaths. They were fine, then I would find a dead one.
Their barbels were not perfect and one of them had some fin damage but the
tank was not heavily stocked and I attributed it to the hypancistris zebra
Then I discovered I had lost a big ramshorn and apparently a bunch of MTS's.
Their shells were dissolving. Didn't know anything died initially and this
would account I think for the high nitrate. Obviously I had a calcium
deficiency. So I went and got a bunch of new test kits and checked
everything on 12-11-00 and got the following:
I couldn't find a GH kit and mine was 10 years old so I didn't have that
I had been doing water changes all along but adding nothing to water.
I added a 1/2 dose of Seachem Equilibrium and 1/2 dose of Alkaline Buffer.
It jumped up to pH of 6 and KH of 3.
By 12-20 I was up to pH of 7.1, KH 0, GH 3, Nitrate 2, Nitrite 0 (couldn't
keep the KH up and it comes out of my tap at 0)
Since then I have added back 2 tablespoons of crushed coral and am adding
Alkaline Buffer and Equilibrium in 1/8 teaspoon increments when pH, KH, GH
starts dropping (every few days). I can't seem to maintain a buffer and
both hardness readings keep dropping. The addition of the crushed coral
seems to have stabilized it to the point where neither hardness levels are
dropping below 2 now. It seems more detrimental to me to have the stuff
bouncing around rather than stable at a lower level.
Near the end of this saga, stuff was still dying. 2 of the remaining cories
appeared to have the slightest blood streaks in their fins and died. An SAE
had blood in his dorsal with cloudiness and it started moving into the top
of his body. His other fins started getting blood as well. He got really
pitiful and I euthanized him. Lost a bunch of cardinals, 2 rams, 1 otto,
the SAE, 5 corys and 5 furcatas. Other fish didn't appear to have any
problems, just fine one day dead the next. Treated with Maracyn 2 thinking
perhaps there was a bacteria issue although I also wondered if I had just
messed up the osmotic issue. Weirdly enough, the hypancistris zebra,
remaining furcatas and remaining SAE and ottos seem ok. Finished the
antibiotics last night and one of the cardinals was spinning upside down and
was about gone this morning. One from yesterday afternoon is still
BTW, I didn't have all these fish initially. There was a lull where I
thought everything had stabilized (before I realized the real severity of
the problem) and added more furcatas/cardinals. The tank was not that
Before I added coral back, the KH kept dropping back to zero within about 24
hours. Since I have added the coral (2 tablespoons) my KH and GH haven't
dropped back below 2 which is either being prevented from coral or additions
of Equilibrium/Alkaline Buffer.
I added the drugs out of desperation/last ditch effort. I always take the
approach of water changing first whenever anything seems wrong and drug as
last resort. Another APDer was having issues with his tank and was messing
with hardness levels also. We both buy fish at same place, we both were
altering hardness levels. His fish were dropping as fast as mine and the
Maracyn 2 (he also added Marcyn) seemed to fix it. That was another reason
I thought perhaps we had both gotten stuff with a bacteria.
Is it a weird disease or osmotic issue or everything bottoming out/jumping
around or combination? Plants seem to be doing ok. A crypt balanse started
looking bad and part of a leaf just disintegrated.
This is supposed to be a learning tank for my big one (hi-tech) that I want
to set up in the next month or so. I can only imagine...
One other thing, before all this started, I only had tiny little light green
spot algae on stuff. Not bad, not huge amounts. Now it is getting to be
larger spots and dark green. Seems to be alot more of it. Wondering if I
am getting ready to have an explosion.
I am sorry for eating up so much bandwidth but I have lost more fish in the
last couple months than in all my years of this stuff and am clueless. (Man
I hate this soft water) Thanks alot for any help.