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.