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Stripped Down Tank

 Kenny Song wrote:
>Subject: Stripped Down Tank (Long)
>I have a 150-liter tank using a 150 watts MH lamp and CO 2 dosing. My
>substrate had a 1 inch laterite base and 2.5 inches of gravel. All my
>plants were doing well, some flowering, others sending out lots of runners
>with no algae problem. I removed all stemed plants like cabomba as they
>were growing too fast and shading out others. I have 50 cardinal tetras. 4
>clown loach, 4 Corydoras, 4 black mollies, 2 Siamese suckers and 6 male
>guppies. I did weekly change of 40% fresh water. My tank was 4 months old
>when disaster striked.

Two things I notice. Removing all the fast growing plants all at once
probably lowered the oxygen content of the water by quite a bit. I did this
once without thinking of the consequences and lost fish due to oxygen
deprivation. Second thing is that 40% water changes once a *week* sounds
like way too much for a heavily planted tank. You kept your water unstable
by doing that. 25% every 2 weeks should be plenty.

>Both my suckers died without me noticing. Next morning, I saw my live
>bearers were gulping for air but I thought it was not serious and will look
>into it when I come back from work (didn't know 2 suckers missing).

Fish gulping for air is always serious. Siamese algae eaters (I presume
that is what you mean by "Siamese suckers"?) seem to need lots of oxygen as
they will be the first to gasp.

>Evening and 4 of my guppies were dead covered with white velvety stuff, 2
>clown loach dead under a driftwood and 1 molly dead. I took out all fishes,
>drained tank and refilled with fresh water. I treated the fishes and all
>was saved.

But you do not tell us if you tested the water for high concentrations of
anything harmful. What is the pH of your water, the temperature, the KH and
GH? How do you add CO2? Do you use fertilizers and if so, what? Is there
chlorine in your water and do you remove it when you do changes? Do you
make pH adjustments?

>I did complete change of tank water for the next 3 days. Then I tested by
>puttng in the 3 Mollies, off the Co 2 and added aeration. By morning, they
>fell ill again.

I doubt if complete water changes everyday for 3 days would help anything
and you must buy and use test kits....not use fish to *test* the water.

>My remedy.
>Out of frustration, I removed all substrate, dipped my plants for 10
>minutes in diluted pottasium permanganate, disinfected the tank,
>driftwoods, all powerheads and nets with strong pp.

I find it hard to believe that all this was necessary. From the information
you gave us I suspect that simply adding some aeration and replanting with
some fast growing plants would have been all you needed to do. I suspect
the fungus is due to stress. Fish stress very easily and your's have been
through hell with all those water changes.

It's too bad you did not ask for advice when the fish were gasping for air
and I suspect that all this could have been avoided. This is a case of
panicing and learning the hard way. Do not dispair. Everyone makes mistakes
in this hobby. If you don't have any, buy some test kits and make sure that
you have some good books that explain the water chemistry going on in an

in Vancouver