3 out of 9 dead fish.. New hobbyist.. Thoughts on my situation?

MattMilly730

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Hi all, Im having issues with my 55 gallon tank. 3 of my fish just died. Hippo, Sailfin, and a raccoon butterfly.

My tank has been up and running since May 17th. I started with a Midas Blenny and 2 mocha clown fish (added them about 2 weeks after the tank was set up and running a couple days apart) Water was fine and well.

About two weeks ago (almost a month of the tank running) my brother brought home (3 chromis, the Sailfin, Hippo, and Raccoon) Water was fine, fish were eating fine and active. On June 24th I did a slight water change as my gravel was a bit dirty, and felt a water change was necessary. Things went well and fish seemed to adapt well. 5 days later (Friday the 26th) The hippo tang had Ich. The hippo was still being active and eating well. Saturday the 27th I added "Ich-x". Sunday the 28th (Last night) the ich was disappearing, the medicine showed great results. Heres where I believe I messed up. I tested my water, my nitrite and nitrate were high. I took out a bit of water maybe close to a third, My gravel was dirty again, so i figured do a cleaning to bring down the levels and to take out any medication or parasites that can be in the water. I tested my water again and still the nitrite and nitrate was still high. I added more "Ich-x" (i hope you all do not tell me this was dumb to do lol) I did this because I figured the medicine produced great results the first night, the second night it will be gone if I add more (Is this too much medicine?)

Today I woke up, the Sailfin, hippo and Raccoon were dead. Im assuming this could be due to the nitrite and nitrate levels. But it could be so many things. im hoping you guys can provide some insight or info about this. I wonder if I put too much medicine? Did I add all the fish too fast and this caused my water levels to go bonkers?

The ich was completely gone from the hippo this morning but unfortunately we lost em. Why didnt all the fish die? Where could I have went wrong?

im running a Fluval FX4 and an Ehiem 2215 filter. I have one carib sea rock in the tank so far. my salt level is 1.022 and my temp is at 78.
 
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That tank is too small for that tang, your tank was prolly to young to handle all those fish. Bioload Could not keep up what is your ammonia reading?
 

Fred2482

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That tank is too small for that tang, your tank was prolly to young to handle all those fish. Bioload Could not keep up what is your ammonia reading?

Agree. Check ammonia. That's a lot for a 55 gallon.
 
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MattMilly730

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The tangs weren't fully grown. The hippo was about 3 inches while the sailfin was larger at maybe 6 inches. Is the size still a possible factor?
 

andrewey

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You've got a lot of issues. As to your question of what went wrong, almost everything. Don't be hard on yourself- this is how you learn. You won't make the same mistakes again ;). I'm really sorry about your dead pets. Let's try and save the remaining fish!

I'm not going to go into the finer points of nitrite toxicity, but suffice to say, if you are reading high nitrites, I'm more concerned about your ammonia. Either way, you have too high a bioload in that tank or your biological filter is not mature enough to handle the fish and certainly not the die off! You also shouldn't be keeping those fish in your tank, but that's a discussion for another day- let's save your fish first, then you can look at rehoming some of them or getting an appropriately sized tank or properly cycling the tank you have.

First, can you set up a QT? The ideal situation is that you want to all of your fish for treatment. Rock and substrate can absorb many medications including copper and make dosing difficult. Any large container will do- we can walk you through setting up a QT.

As for the disease, it could be ich. It could be velvet. It could be ammonia toxicity. I'm not going to badget you with questions yet, but suffice to say, there could be other issues in addition to either ich or velvet. Either way, you're going to want to act quickly. Assume the worst first.

I personally think you should abandon ich-x. Go with proven treatments that will work. Do you have a LFS nearby? Do you have any medications on hand? Do you have prime available? I'm going to link a couple quick primers on ich and velvet. I'd read them while I summon some of the experts that can help direct you. Ultimately you're going to need to focus on proper nutrition, aeration, detoxifying ammonia, and proven treatments of the remaining fish to prevent their death.


#reefsquad
 
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josvanmeer

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Nitrites should not ever be present in your tank, I don't even think it's cycled at your stage.
You mentioned you have one rock in your aquarium, that is a huge no-no. Your tank is 55 gallons big and only one rock?
The bacteria, good ones that grow in your tank, will populate mostly on the rock. You simply do not have any surface area for good bacteria and hence your fish are dying, they expel waste like no tomorrow and there is literally nothing in your tank that can handle that load immediately. It takes time to travel through a filter, way too long to effectively deal with all the waste those fish are creating.

You need more rock and bacterial growth in your system if you want to be able to have a stable aquarium.
 
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Cell

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I believe new data confirms nitrite is not an issue in reef tanks. I defer to the expert @brandon429 though.

I will say if the tank has been up since May 17th, it should be cycled. I think Brandon will confirm it likely wasnt an ammonia spike event if only 3 fish were affected.
 
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MattMilly730

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You've got a lot of issues. As to your question of what went wrong, almost everything. Don't be hard on yourself- this is how you learn. You won't make the same mistakes again ;). I'm really sorry about your dead pets. Let's try and save the remaining fish!

I'm not going to go into the finer points of nitrite toxicity, but suffice to say, if you are reading high nitrites, I'm more concerned about your ammonia. Either way, you have too high a bioload in that tank or your biological filter is not mature enough to handle the die off. You also shouldn't be keeping those fish in your tank, but that's a discussion for another day- let's save your fish first, then you can look at rehoming some of them or getting an appropriately sized tank.

First, can you set up a QT? The ideal situation is that you want to all of your fish for treatment. Rock and substrate can absorb many medications including copper and make dosing difficult. Any large container will do- we can walk you through setting up a QT.

As for the disease, it could be ich. It could be velvet. It could be something else. I'm not going to badget you with questions yet, but suffice to say, there could be other issues in addition to either ich or velvet. Either way, you're going to want to act quickly.

I personally think you should abandon ich-x. Go with proven treatments that will work. Do you have a LFS nearby? I'm going to link a couple quick primers on ich and velvet. I'd read them while I summon some of the experts that can help direct you. Ultimately you're going to need to focus on proper nutrition and proven treatments of the remaining fish to prevent their death.


#reefsquad
I knew it was everything! You are absolutely right, will try my hardest not to make the same mistakes.

So since the nitrites are high? Whats one way to combat this? If Nitrites are high would ammonia be high as well? Ammonia read fine. Interesting.

I do not have a QT, would I need a 55 gallon QT? Or would something with decent size suffice?

I do have two LFS I can hit, Thanks for the links, deff going to read into them and continue to do my due diligence. Thanks the info!
 

andrewey

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I believe new data confirms nitrite is not an issue in reef tanks. I defer to the expert @brandon429 though.

I will say if the tank has been up since May 17th, it should be cycled. I think Brandon will confirm it likely wasnt an ammonia spike event if only 3 fish were affected.
Unfortunately most of that information doesn't apply in this situation or is inaccurate, to say the least. Let's go with what we know to be true at this point and not muddy the OP's post with speculation or pet theories about cycling. Let's focus on what we know and what we can do to save the fish. No disrespect meant to you or @brandon429, but when animal's lives are on the line, let's go with validated information first and leave theories for less critical times :)
 
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MattMilly730

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Nitrites should not ever be present in your tank, I don't even think it's cycled at your stage.
You mentioned you have one rock in your aquarium, that is a huge no-no. Your tank is 55 gallons big and only one rock?
The bacteria, good ones that grow in your tank, will populate mostly on the rock. You simply do not have any surface area for good bacteria and hence your fish are dying, they expel waste like no tomorrow and there is literally nothing in your tank that can handle that load immediately. It takes time to travel through a filter, way too long to effectively deal with all the waste those fish are creating.

You need more rock and bacterial growth in your system if you want to be able to have a stable aquarium.
I was planning on adding rock through out time, I now assume doing it this way is wrong lol
 

Cell

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How would this not apply if high nitrite is being blamed? How is the cycle and ammonia effect not relevant if 3 fish died and ammonia is blamed?

I'll go with the guy who provides the data and evidence supporting the theories over those blindly following the theories without question.
 
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andrewey

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I'll start with some basic procedures that will help or at the least, won't interrupt any future plans.

1) Pull the dead fish from the tank
2) If you have any forms of aeration, I would start those now (oxygen stone, skimmer, pointing powerheads at the surface of the water).
3) Read up on a freshwater dip. You may or may not receive the suggestion to FW dip the fish depending on if they think this is ammonia vs. ich vs. velvet, so I would hold off, but read up now so you have that tool in your back pocket if needed.
4) Be ready to have a QT set up. Do you have acess to more SW? You may want to drop a heater into it now so you can use down the road for QT or for water changes if need be. Worst case scenario is you waste 30 cents in electricity warming that water. If you don't have water ready, start making some water if you have a RODI.

What foods do you have on hand? Frozen? Nori? Do you have any vitamin supplements on hand by chance (e.g. selcon)?
 

andrewey

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How would this not apply if high nitrite is being blamed? How is the cycle and ammonia effect not relevant if 3 fish died and ammonia is blamed?

I'll go with the guy who provides the data and evidence supporting the theories over those blindly following the theories without question.
Shoot me a private message and I'd love to explain. I don't want to muddy the OP's post.
 

aydemir

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I don't mean offense by this, but are you using RODI water or tap water? Just asking because my friend who is new to saltwater aquariums is going to use tap water even though I've told him very strongly he should try to use RODI or some form of distilled water.

But if you did use tap water and did a lot of water changes, you may have actually raised the nitrate level (among other things) depending on the quality of your water supply.
 

josvanmeer

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I was planning on adding rock through out time, I now assume doing it this way is wrong lol

You can add rock at any time, just make sure it is dry rock so you won't have any dead organisms creating more problems in your tank.

I think what is happening in your tank, is that the bio load was too much, you feed the fish, they eat and poop, it creates a spike in the water because the bacteria that IS present in the tank cannot deal with it fast enough and the filter is in the same predicament, as it takes time to filter all the water effectively. Rock is by far the fastest way to filter your water, microfauna is extremely effective. With it not being present your water parameters are jumping up and down, and not every fish can deal with that, some fish are hardy enough, some fish are not.

Also an easy way to test this "theory" is to test the water multiple times a day for a few days in a row, your water parameters in a stable well filtered system always gets the same results, with mostly nitrates showing up slowly higher most commonly, but nitrites and ammonia will always read zero in an established tank.

I am by no means an expert, I have held mostly fresh water fish in my lifetime, and not saltwater, but water quality is the same concept in both those environments. Ammonia is highly lethal to fish and nitrite is less lethal but if its present in high enough quantity, still lethal. Same goes for nitrates, but has to be even higher in volume to be lethal to fish.
 

Fred2482

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Could you let us know exactly how much ich-x was applied over what time frame? From my understanding this can be lethal to fish. As far as the remaining fish, are there any signs of disease? If there was ich, I would also recommend getting the fish to a cheap QT tank and putting them through a full treatment. While being treated you can worry about the biological filtration of the display if needed.

If I read correctly you have chromis, blenny and clowns still alive? If so no need for a large QT, cheap petco/petsmart tanks will work great.
 

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