Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Things That Will Kill You: Tap Water


Monday, March 10, 2008

Cloudy fish tank / how I killed my fish

Right after I got rid of the ick, just a day or so after reducing the copper medication, salt, and beginning to reduce the temperature back down to normal, my fish tank's water began to get cloudy. After 24 hours it was bad. After 48 you could barely see the back of the tank. For the next 3 weeks I did water changes every other day trying to get rid of whatever was in it.

According to the searches I did, I first needed to decide if it was white or green. Well, it looked white from the front, but greenish from the side. So, I decided to try one of those medications that make the particles in the water stick together so that they can be filtered out easier. At the same time I turned 1/2 of my lights off in case it was algae. It didn't work.

I posted to a couple of forums for some help and ended up getting useless responses like "it must be a fungus from your driftwood" -mmm no. The driftwood's been in there for over a year. "Then it must be because you have too much gravel" or one of many other excuses, no real help.

So, I was left to sort it out for myself. Although it started right after the medication was stopped, I was pretty sure the biological filter was okay because the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite tests were fine, so it wasn't cycling. I've also been very careful about not overfeeding, so an algae or bacterial bloom didn't seem right either. I decided to clean out my filter instead. I found an improperly installed foam pad, and hoped that would fix it. It did not.

Again, I posted for help (on a different forum), but again I only got answers from people who didn't even read the post -they blamed how long I left my lights on in my tank (12 hours) even though they've been on like that since December without any issues, so again I dismissed the advice.

I had one last idea -I pulled all of my plants out of the tank thinking that the dead leaves may have been feeding a bacteria bloom. I put the plants in a bucket and waited. I thought it had improved a bit, but I was still having to do water changes every 3 days.

Then last week on Wednesday I started another "every other day" water change by draining 75% of the water out of the tank. The cichlids were all at the bottom kindof stressing out as they had been doing while I was doing such big changes -but they had to be done or I couldn't see anything at all in the tank! So, I started refilling the tank and then I noticed that I was out of water conditioner. I had a choice to make -leave the fish stressed out in a tiny bit of water while I ran out for more or just go without it. I figured all it did was get the chlorine out, so I kept filling, but made sure the water was really splashing upon entry to try to aerate it more so the chlorine would diffuse out faster on its own. Then Ed came home and we went out to eat. When we came back all but one fish was dead, and the remaining fish was on the bottom breathing hard.

I removed the fish and put him in a quarantine tank that I was readying for some new cichlids, but it was too late -he died soon after. So, I killed all my cichlids in about an hour by not using water conditioner. The plecos were okay, we ran out and got water conditioner and added it to the water right away.

A water test from before adding the conditioner revealed 2ppm of ammonia! The water conditioner cut that down to zero. I tested the tap water straight and it was 4ppm! I don't know if this is temporary or if it's always been like this, but I'll definitely keep an eye on it from now on and I won't ever do a water change without water conditioner again!

Oh, and on Saturday I got 12 new cichlids. And on Sunday I picked up some Algaefix to give that a try to remedy the cloudy water and as of Monday night the tank is clear again! -I'll have to see if it comes back. If it does I'll have to cut the lighting back to see if that helps. I definitely don't want to continue the algaefix forever -my pleco's would starve!