Neon Tetra Fatality

Sadly I awoke to discover that my male Neon Tetra had not made it through the night, I had moved him to the larger better established tank but despite all my best efforts to save him he didn’t recover. This fatality changes things for me, as left with only one Neon Tetra remaining I will be unable to breed them unless I purchase more and grow them to maturity in the right conditions. I have learned from this experience and this fatality was more than likely down to my intervention in adjusting the water parameters to create better breeding conditions. Tetras are very susceptible to sudden water changes and the dropping pH and changing water conditions would have been a major factor in the cause of his death.

I have since removed the female Neon Tetra from the breeding tank and placed her in one of my larger tanks along with my Bristlenose, Guppies and Platys. She has no companions of the same species now and as they are a shoaling species this will not be good for her. I really want to purchase more Neon Tetras so that she will at least have some company again and I will again have the possibility of breeding them.

Algae bloom

Having noticed a bloom of hair algae in one of my 60 L tanks, this morning was spent doing a partial water change in that tank and also my breeding tank. I believed that high nitrate and light levels were responsible for the algae as I had forgotten to switch the lights off overnight a couple of nights ago. I used test strips in both that tank and the breeding tank. I expected to find a high nitrate level in the larger tank but it was not overly high, the test just indicated that it was present. I then removed all the plants from the tank and painstakingly removed the algae by hand, trimming choked leaves, stems and roots off them at the same time.

My algae eaters don’t tend to feast on the hair algae as they prefer to graze off the kind that grows on the glass sides of the tank but all my algae eaters are in the other tank just now. I am considering moving my bristlenose or ottos to the problem tank to help clean the glass. The algae bloom was a nuisance as it was choking my aquatic plants and hindering their growth. I did read somewhere that a peroxide dip would kill the algae without damaging my plants too much. As I would have to buy the peroxide first, I have just done the best I could without it. It may be worth a try at a later stage though. I also read that bleach will kill snail eggs and not just adult snails. I don’t want them in my larger tank so that also may be worth trying. Everything would have to be treated with water conditioner afterwards before being placed back in the tank as the bleach would also kill my fish.

The pH in the breeding tank was quite low which prompted me to do a partial water change with tap water in an attempt to raise it slightly. The test strip results for that tank looked quite good though. I have been feeding the Tetras a little from sachets of Tetra Delica which is foods such as brine shrimp, blood worm and daphnia suspended in red jelly. The other fish have been getting the remainder of this combined with flake food since the source of fresh Nauplii ran out. I have not started another batch of brine shrimp for them yet but will start that very soon.

Lowering the PH

Today has been very eventful for my fish. They have had peat introduced to their community tank both in the filter and partially dissolved in the replacement water during the water change. I was worried about stressing or shocking them but decided drastic action was required.

I calibrated and replaced the batteries in my digital pH meter yesterday as I wasn’t altogether happy with the test strips and how vague the readings were. I was shocked to discover the pH of our tap water was above 8. It used to be around 7. I then tested all my tanks, the breeding tank read the highest at almost 9 with the water change tank coming close to the tap pH around 8. The larger empty tank was higher too. The community tank that is occupied by all of my fish just now and overcrowded was at 7.1 yesterday but had climbed 0.4 up to 7.5 by today. This could have put my fish into shock and the Tetras did appear to be suffering. They were a much paler in colour than usual.

I took action to try and bring the pH down a little. I added peat to a filter and placed it in the tank but there was no immediate change after several hours so I then crushed the peat balls into the water change tank to bring it down in pH, measuring it constantly until I got to 7.1, then I did a water change that resulted in lowering the pH by 0.2 back down to 7.3. The Tetras began to look a little healthier almost immediately but having just measured the pH again tonight it appears to have climbed by 0.1 now up to 7.4. This will most likely be due to the buffers naturally present in the water.

I believe that the very high KH reading in the breeding tank was possibly down to boiling the water first. According to the test strips our tap water is soft with lower GH and KH readings but I have already decided the test strips cannot be trusted and are unreliable as they did not pick up on the pH fluctuations the same way my digital meter did. If I am to have any faith in the readings I got then the tap water should be adequate for the Tetras and breeding them. Boiling the water certainly hasn’t helped my breeding tank parameters at all. It just sky rocketed the KH and pH readings.

Lowering the pH in the community tank will be tricky as it is occupied and the shock if I get it wrong could prove fatal to my fish. It will need to be done gradually over time using water changes twice weekly and only lowering it by 0.1 at a time. The other tanks should be easier to adjust but will need to match the community tanks parameters very closely when introducing the fish to them and the cycling of the tank will also bring about fluctuations.

The good news is the higher pH is perfect for hatching my Brine shrimp which is happily bubbling away in a plastic drinks bottle submerged in empty larger tank. I adjusted the heater to raise the temperature and it is directly under the lights which have been left on throughout the night recently to stimulate the aquatic plant growth. I rinsed the filter from the community tank earlier in the empty tank to make sure some of the bacteria needed for cycling would be introduced. So hopefully I will be feeding my fish live freshly hatched Brine shrimp within the next couple of days.

Water Testing

Well my water conditioner, testing strips, infusoria culture and spirulina arrived yesterday.

So I duly tested the water in all three tanks and the Chlorine levels all came back completely fine. So I haven’t added any water conditioner yet.The Nitrate and Nitrite Levels in the lesser established larger tank and breeding tank were nominal, both of these tanks are empty of fish just now. I did do a partial water change in the mature tank as the levels were slightly raised but still not enough to cause any real harm to my fish. They were just high enough to show up on the lower range of the test strip.

It became a little more difficult when attempting to interpret the test results for the water hardness and PH. The results were a little confusing. It was difficult to ascertain which colour block on the chart was closest to that on the test strip so they were just giving me a very rough approximation or range to work with. The PH is around neutral and is within completely safe parameters in the two larger tanks but it is difficult to tell if it lies slightly acidic or slightly alkaline because the colour on the test strip looked as though it could be either.

The Carbonate hardness KH was in the low to mid range. Again difficult to say if it were around three or six percent, perfectly safe and unlikely to bother my fish much. The General hardness was what was really confusing though because it appeared to be high in my mature tank which would indicate I have hard water that is possibly more alkaline but the same test was inconclusive in my other two tanks because although the test strip had some brown indicating ok levels it also had a shade of green which is 0 level on the scale. You would expect the PH in these tanks to indicate soft acidic water which may be true in the case of the larger tank. The breeding tank Carbonate hardness shot up to the highest level on the scale and PH seemed slightly higher. I believe a definite water change is required in the breeding tank, if there were any Tetra eggs in there they are unlikely to have hatched in those conditions.

Testing the water doesn’t seem to have helped that much other than to reassure me that the parameters in my larger tanks seem perfectly healthy and safe for my fish at the moment. The test strips do not indicate a level for Ammonia which is a little disappointing. It may be an idea to invest in some that do.

The breeding tank does concern me a little. I spotted a snail in there today, it was probably introduced with the Java Moss. I haven’t started my infusoria culture as I couldn’t see anything that may resemble fry and it’s looking more and more likely that I need to overhaul the breeding tank and start again. I decided to leave it overnight though.

I placed the filter, bog wood and aquatic plants back in what used to be the Tetra tank and am leaving the lights on overnight just now to help establish the plants again. I boiled most of the water first before adding it but topped it up with water from the established community tank.

I gave my fish in the community tank a thin slice of cucumber to play with last night. This morning when I got up I noticed the middle had been eaten out of it. I have decided to experiment with different foods in an attempt to vary their diet even more. I am looking forward to raising Brine shrimp for them. It may help with breeding the Tetras and will benefit all of my fish.


Loss of an Emperor

Yesterday was not a good day. I discovered one of my Emperor Tetras deceased and floating upon the surface of their community tank also shared by my three otos.

Upon further observation I noticed that all the Emperor Tetras had lost most of their colouring and were very pale and sick looking. My Otos had shoaled together and were hiding behind the filter not something they usually do if they are happy. They also didn’t look as healthy and plump as they usually would. I couldn’t see all of the Emperor Tetras either as some of them were hiding too.

I can only assume the water quality was so bad it was poisoning them. The tank had been completely overhauled over a week ago.The plants had not reestablished themselves yet and there was a lot of decaying plant matter in the tank I noticed. I immediately did a partial water change with water from my established Live bearer community tank but was still concerned as the levels had obviously been fatal for one of my fish at least. They didn’t appear to be recovering quickly enough. So I stressed the poor things even further by attempting to capture them and placed them in my Live bearer tank. Possibly the best thing I could have done for them in fact because within minutes of being introduced to the better established tank the Emperor Tetras had their colours back and the Otos were behaving better, happily ignoring each other and grazing in different areas of the tank.

So a speedy intervention was required but why?  There are a couple of different factors that could be at work here and both would poison my fish. One theory is the cycling process was not mature enough and that when the tank was overhauled not enough of the friendly bacteria needed to break down ammonia was introduced back into the tank. My next theory is that the change from chlorine to chloramine in our water supply poisoned them. I never used a water conditioner in my tanks before because the chlorine would disperse just from allowing it to stand for 48 hours before adding it to my tanks. The chloramine however will not. I got round this with the breeding tank by boiling and aging my water but had not done so with the larger Tetra community tank. I have since done many hours research into chloramine which has told me this is highly toxic to my fish. I have now purchased water conditioner and testing strips. Although I am a big fan of doing things as naturally as possible and not adding lots of different chemicals to my tanks, it appears I cannot afford to be complacent with the recent change in our water supply.