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HELP! Sudden SAE death!

Hi all,

What could cause previously healthy SAEs to die suddenly? As in a matter 
of hours?

What's happening:

I (used to) have five SAEs in a heavily planted 125-gallon tank with a 
UV sterilizer. These guys are three years old, fat, healthy, bright, and 
3-4 inches long. They stay very busy doing their SAE thing. No signs of 

Friday morning I wake up and one is dead. The night before he was 
healthy, swimming well, etc.

I do tests. pH is normal (6.6-6.8), no nitrate, no ammonia. Noontime 
oxygen is good. Because I've been concerned about nighttime oxygen, I 
install an airstone for those hours, just in case.

Things appear to be normal until Monday night, when I watched one, who 
was previously healthy, roll over on his back and die. No warning. Just 
dead, almost within a matter of minutes.

There are only three clues:

1) A pH spike Monday night to about 7.2
2) Added 7 rummy nose early last week. Lost one or two.
3) The four dubawi cats are looking peaked. They'll lie on the bottom as 
if about to die, then return to normal a few hours later.

What is going on? Some kind of catfish plague? All the delicate 
cardinals and rummy-noses are fine. The CAE and clown loach are fine. 
The three shrimp are fine. A sick, ancient bleeding heart left over from 
another tank in another era refuses to die. The three or four neons with 
neon tetra disease keep hanging on.

I've added nothing but fish food, the rummy noses, and two five-gallon 
buckets of water in the past week. No chemicals, no fertilizers. The 
last 1/2-tank water change was about two months ago (the plants hate it).

I need as many opinions as I can get on this, so fire away. I'm afraid 
this isn't over.


amyh at attbi_com