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Series of disasters after returning from holiday (long)
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Zowie72
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Joined: 10 Feb 2011
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)1:43    Post subject: Series of disasters after returning from holiday (long) Reply with quote

I have had a 100 litre community tank since my hubby bought me the tank for my birthday 2 years ago. I thought I had been doing sort of OK, tank was set up with smooth gravel, a piece of drift wood, skull ornament, a selection of plastic plants and a few real plants. I changed some of the water every week or so, checked the pH and ammonia levels (as advised by my stockist) and cleaned the filter and media about once a month in tap water. I did have a few unexplained deaths, but thought this was to be expected.
We went camping for a week just before Christmas so I put in a couple of feeding blocks to keep them going. On our return there was a horrible smell, the whole fish tank seemed to be rotting the water looked like milk, all the plants had rotted and all but one fish was dead!

So it was a rather tearful farewell to: 3 large bristlenoses, 2 peppered corys, 2 small angelfish, 6 platys, 9 glolight tetra and 8 neon tetra. The only survivor was an orange speckled platy, I don't know how he was still alive! I scooped him out as he was gasping for oxygen at the top of the tank and dumped him in my daughters tank (which had just been set-up before we left ready for her to choose fish for Christmas) and he was soon swimming around again looking just fine, thank goodness the tank was already set up, don't know what I would have done with him otherwise.

I still don't know what happened, but after looking around it may have been something to do with the feed blocks I put in, combined with too little knowledge on my part and my hubby closing all the blinds leaving the tank in the dark the whole time!

Thankfully my daughter was pleased to rescue the platy and decided to keep him, he now has 4 females to look after and a hillstream loach for company, I don't think it'll be long until we've got a few more to look after.

Continuing the saga the only thing I could think to do with my tank was to completely strip it down give everything a good scrub and start all over again as it all smelt so bad. This time I was going to do it right! So I got it all set back up without any fish or plants and just left it for a few weeks not having the heart to start replacing my lost fish just yet. It was round about now that I came across this site.

So having bought test kits for nitrite, nitrate and KH I got to work selecting fish. I started with 6 harlequin rasboras and a few of plants and kept a check on levels until the tank had cycled. Next in were 4 Kuhli loaches, followed by 6 cherry barbs then 3 albino corys.

Now came the second disaster! A leak in the tank! Couldn't believe it... the fish and plants were all transferred to three scrubbed out buckets with a little substrate on the bottom, just hoped they'd be alright whilst I emptied the tank, removed the old seal along the back and resealed. Next day the seal was dry and tank passed the leak test so I set everything back up again. Fish had survived the night in their buckets, all except 2 harlequins which had managed to jump right out of their bucket onto the carpet.

Finally I thought everything will be alright now, but no, a couple of days later I noticed a couple of the cherry barbs were scratching themselves on the drift wood. On closer inspection they had a few white spots on them. So one trip to the shop later and I'm treating the tank for Ich. Two of the cherry barbs seemed to come down quite badly, thought I might loose one of them, but they have all pulled through and have been clear for 5 days now. I can only assume the out break had to do with the stress of being moved about so much.

So that's round about where I am now, hoping nothing else untoward happens and I can finish stocking the tank. I've also invested in a 25 litre quarantine tank which I am currently doing a fishless cycle on.

Thank you to anyone who managed to read this far, I know it's rather long, but I needed to get that off my chest. Do you think I'm right about the toxic tank? It doesn't matter too much now but it would be nice to know what happened.
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KhiaraFish
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Joined: 18 Aug 2010
Location: Saint Paul, MN

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)9:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard very bad things about those feeder blocks, some people have had them introduce various funguses to their tanks, and it has drastically boosted the pH in others. How long were you gone on vacation? Most fish can go several days to a week with out food. When I'm gone on a long trip I portion out the food for the day into little mix your own tea bags, and then ask my neighbor if she would be willing to tear one open and dump it in each day.
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pchsncrm0812
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Joined: 24 Jul 2010
Location: New Jersey, USA

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)13:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

So sorry to hear about the troubles you've been having!! I'm no expert, (just started the hobby about a year ago) so I can't come to a conclusion about what went wrong. I just wanted to comment on you saying that you rinse your filter and media out in tap water. One thing I do know is that the chlorine in the tap water will kill the bacteria build up in the media that is needed to break down the wastes. I don't bother with my media unless it's either falling apart, or looks to be clogging the water flow. Even then, I'll just rinse it in the aquarium water while I'm doing a water change.

I was also wondering how big your daughters tank is? Is it possible to move all the fish to that tank so that you can do a fishless cycle on yours also, rather than just the quarantine tank? It would definitely help the fish you have if they didn't have to go through the stress of a cycling tank. Good luck with things from this point out!
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Zowie72
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Joined: 10 Feb 2011
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)13:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

We were only away for 6 days, normally I would have my neighbour come in, but they were away as well this time. Sounds like they would have been better off with no food! I hate thinking that I killed all those lovely fish. Crying or Very sad

I won't let it be in vain though and I'm learning lots now so that my new fish will have the best care I can give them.
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Zowie72
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Joined: 10 Feb 2011
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)13:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

pchsncrm0812 looks like we were posting at the same time...

You're right I now know it was wrong to rinse the media in tap water and I am using some of the tank water to rinse when it starts look clogged up. My tank was cycled with just the Harlequins in it and I've been slowly adding the other fish. It was then that I knew I really needed the quarantine tank if I wanted to add more fish without the risk introducing any diseases.

I didn't want to stress any more fish which is why I went for the fishless cycle, it's seems to be working nitrites are picking up and I've now got a trace of nitrate. When it's done I'm going to get some more Harlequins and they don't look right with just the 4 of them.

Thank you for your reply and good wishes.
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Topper
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Joined: 22 Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)15:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I still don't know what happened, but after looking around it may have been something to do with the feed blocks I put in, combined with too little knowledge on my part and my hubby closing all the blinds leaving the tank in the dark the whole time!



It was the feeder blocks. They are notoriously unreliable. Two of them in a 100 litre tank is a recipe for disaster. I can't believe that these things are still sold in stores. I have heard exactly what you describe in the past from folks who used the "pyramid feeding blocks" when I worked at a fish store. Even though we sold hundreds of them, I can recall quite a few (ten?) customers who had the same experience.

One man had to be removed from the store by two policemen as the owner of our store recommended the feeders and when the guy came back from his vacation all of his fish were dead and his house smelled like "a swamp". I thought the guy was going to kill the owner.
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Zowie72
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Joined: 10 Feb 2011
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)16:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Topper, at least I now know to never use those blocks again. I'm not surprised the customer was a bit angry, but that sounds like taking it way too far, must have been a bit scary with someone acting like that!
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Topper
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Joined: 22 Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: 2011.02.11(Fri)17:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm not surprised the customer was a bit angry, but that sounds like taking it way too far, must have been a bit scary with someone acting like that!


Believe me, it wasn't the worst I witnessed. Even though it was more than twenty years ago, these memories are still quite vivid. I completely understood (and still do) the anger. There are so many products on the market that simply don't do anything and in some cases are harmful to fish. Unfortunately fish stores need to make a profit and most will tell you anything to sell you anything. If you had gone into the LFS and said that you were going on a holiday for six or seven days, the response should have been, "The fish you have can easily go that long without a feeding. If you are concerned, maybe a friend or neighbor can pop in one day and feed them". But then you wouldn't have purchased anything.

I recently read that there could be as many as 60 million people in the world with fish tanks (incl. ponds, bowls, etc.). There is a lot of money to be made in this hobby with "devices" and "gadgets". It is not an easy hobby and people tend to trust manufacturers and store employees more than they normally would. I am very sorry you had this experience.
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