My South American puffer is sick. One death already. - Puffer Fish Information - Pufferfish, Boxfish, and Cowfish
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 07:32 AM Thread Starter
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My South American puffer is sick. One death already.

Hi everybody, I'm having some problems with my tank and wondered if anybody had any more advice than that I've already been given.

I have a 40 litre tank in which I kept 2 SA puffers, a sunshine plec and 4 corydoras. I've had the tank running with no problems for about a year and a half, but it is my first attempt at keeping tropical fish.

On Sunday (today is Weds) I did my usual every couple of weeks tank clean, taking out a third of the water with a gravel cleaner, cleaning the glass with a sponge, and filter (in the water I'd just taken out of the tank) and replacing everything as soon as I was done. I treat the new water with tap safe and usually everything is fine.

On Tuesday morning I woke up to find the puffers gasping at the surface, along with the plec. The corys were coming to the surface more than usual but didn't look as desperate as the puffers. I went to the local aquarist shop and spoke to them. They said they thought I'd cleaned my filter too thoroughly and gave me some live bacteria to put on the foam inside and said to do another part water change.
After the water change the fish looked happier. Plec returned to his cave and the puffers swam around as normal. I switched off the aquarium light to help de-stress the fish.

Around 8pm, I switched on the light to check on the fish and plec was back at the surface, along with one of the puffers, who looked more desperate than ever. I searched for the other puffer and eventually found him, nose down in the gravel. I'm not sure how long he had been there for. I was really upset. He was my favourite and always seemed the healthiest and strongest. I did another part water change and desperately tried to call an aquarist friend to ask advice. When I got through to her she advised me to take out the fish I was most worried about but I didn't have another container to transfer them too, nor another heater. By this time my puffer was just sitting on the bottom of the tank looking very sorry for himself. My friend said he would have more chance if I floated him in a bag in the tank overnight as she suspected my filter wasn't performing properly. I took a little water from the tank and some fresh water with tap safe in it and filled the bag to about 4 or 5 inches and then caught my puffer (which was easier than ever before) and popped him in.

This morning, unbelievably, my puffer was alive and well. The plec was suckered onto the glass near the surface but not gasping. I did another part water change and put the puffer back into the aquarium. I then went to the aquarist shop and bought some aquarium salt, a nitrite and ammonia testing kit and some ammolock, on the recommendation of my friend. I have tested the water and it looked very yellow which according to the chart means 0 for ammonia and nitrite but i'm wondering if this is because i did a part water change a few hours before. I have also added 2 table spoons of aquarium salt and 5ml of ammolock to the tank.

My plec is now back in his cave and the puffer is back swimming around the tank. He hasn't stopped moving but he is just swimming around the bottom of the tank and he usually hangs out mid-way so i'm wondering if he is still feeling under the weather. The corys have been fine - I'm not worried about them. I just don't want the plec and the puffer to die because of some mistake I've made.

Can anybody advise me on what to do next? I was thinking of monitoring the tank throughout the day and doing another test on the water this evening to see if the levels have changed. The instructions on the ammolock say to retreat in two days.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading.

Kat
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by katmandoobie View Post
Hi everybody, I'm having some problems with my tank and wondered if anybody had any more advice than that I've already been given.

I have a 40 litre tank in which I kept 2 SA puffers, a sunshine plec and 4 corydoras. I've had the tank running with no problems for about a year and a half, but it is my first attempt at keeping tropical fish.

On Sunday (today is Weds) I did my usual every couple of weeks tank clean, taking out a third of the water with a gravel cleaner, cleaning the glass with a sponge, and filter (in the water I'd just taken out of the tank) and replacing everything as soon as I was done. I treat the new water with tap safe and usually everything is fine.

On Tuesday morning I woke up to find the puffers gasping at the surface, along with the plec. The corys were coming to the surface more than usual but didn't look as desperate as the puffers. I went to the local aquarist shop and spoke to them. They said they thought I'd cleaned my filter too thoroughly and gave me some live bacteria to put on the foam inside and said to do another part water change.
After the water change the fish looked happier. Plec returned to his cave and the puffers swam around as normal. I switched off the aquarium light to help de-stress the fish.

Around 8pm, I switched on the light to check on the fish and plec was back at the surface, along with one of the puffers, who looked more desperate than ever. I searched for the other puffer and eventually found him, nose down in the gravel. I'm not sure how long he had been there for. I was really upset. He was my favourite and always seemed the healthiest and strongest. I did another part water change and desperately tried to call an aquarist friend to ask advice. When I got through to her she advised me to take out the fish I was most worried about but I didn't have another container to transfer them too, nor another heater. By this time my puffer was just sitting on the bottom of the tank looking very sorry for himself. My friend said he would have more chance if I floated him in a bag in the tank overnight as she suspected my filter wasn't performing properly. I took a little water from the tank and some fresh water with tap safe in it and filled the bag to about 4 or 5 inches and then caught my puffer (which was easier than ever before) and popped him in.

This morning, unbelievably, my puffer was alive and well. The plec was suckered onto the glass near the surface but not gasping. I did another part water change and put the puffer back into the aquarium. I then went to the aquarist shop and bought some aquarium salt, a nitrite and ammonia testing kit and some ammolock, on the recommendation of my friend. I have tested the water and it looked very yellow which according to the chart means 0 for ammonia and nitrite but i'm wondering if this is because i did a part water change a few hours before. I have also added 2 table spoons of aquarium salt and 5ml of ammolock to the tank.

My plec is now back in his cave and the puffer is back swimming around the tank. He hasn't stopped moving but he is just swimming around the bottom of the tank and he usually hangs out mid-way so i'm wondering if he is still feeling under the weather. The corys have been fine - I'm not worried about them. I just don't want the plec and the puffer to die because of some mistake I've made.

Can anybody advise me on what to do next? I was thinking of monitoring the tank throughout the day and doing another test on the water this evening to see if the levels have changed. The instructions on the ammolock say to retreat in two days.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading.

Kat

It is definitely a chem question. Ammonia and Nitrite are 2 separate tests. Are you using a liquid test kit?

Also what is the brand of the additive you are using? I usually recommend Seachem's Prime but there are others out there as well. One thing of note is that the tank is a tad small for 2 SAPs. These guys (as if you haven't noticed) need lots of space and high flow. 55 liters is the minimum tank size for an individual.

I have a feeling it could have been either the chlorine in the water or an ammonia spike.

Kudos on the filter cleaning technique. Yes always use tank water to clean the internal parts of the filter. Especially the biomedia.

Other side questions:
How are you going about keeping their teeth trimmed or not over grown?
What is their staple diet?




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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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It is definitely a chem question. Ammonia and Nitrite are 2 separate tests. Are you using a liquid test kit?

Also what is the brand of the additive you are using? I usually recommend Seachem's Prime but there are others out there as well. One thing of note is that the tank is a tad small for 2 SAPs. These guys (as if you haven't noticed) need lots of space and high flow. 55 liters is the minimum tank size for an individual.

I have a feeling it could have been either the chlorine in the water or an ammonia spike.

Kudos on the filter cleaning technique. Yes always use tank water to clean the internal parts of the filter. Especially the biomedia.

Other side questions:
How are you going about keeping their teeth trimmed or not over grown?
What is their staple diet?
Hi and thank you for replying to my post.

I realise now that the test kit I had was only for ammonia but I went out and got a nitrite test soon after I posted the previous message. Both are liquid dropper tests. The ammonia level was low and the nitrite level high. I've done a lot of reading while I waited to see if anybody would reply to me and come to understand that if the nitrite is now high and the ammonia low, my tank cycle could be on the mend and soon nitrate should return the balance and as there is nothing much else I can do. Is this correct? I have continued to do water changes two or three times daily, testing the water each time first and then afterwards.

I have been using Interpret's, "Bioactive Tapsafe" as an additive with my water changes and never had any problems before.

One of my puffers, the one which died before I posted, had no teeth problems. I only ever saw them start to grow once and they either fell out or he ground them down. The other one was trickier, and I had to trim his, although only once. He was a fussy eater.

I used to feed them all sorts; blood worm (live & frozen), cockles, muscles and baby snails, which I was breeding in another tank. The puffer with no teeth would crunch up the snails, whereas the fussy one would suck them out and discard the shells. He was clever. I sometimes soaked cuttlefish bone in blood worm and put that in the tank in the hope they would nibble it and help with the teeth. I don't' know if they ever did but like I said, I had no big problems.

Unfortunately my other puffer died early this morning. I did everything I could to save him with the bag floating being what I think kept him hanging on for the last few days. I guess it was too much. I'm absolutely gutted. My sunshine plec is still hanging on so I just hope I can get him through. I'm really going to miss my little puffers though - they were so entertaining.

Please could you explain what causes an ammonia spike?

Last edited by katmandoobie; 12-02-2011 at 12:15 PM.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-03-2011, 10:22 AM
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Sorry to hear about the death.

There are a number of things that can cause an ammonia spike:

Having an overloaded tank is 1. The fish produce ammonia as a by-product of respiration and waste excrement. If the biofilter can't keep up you get an ammonia bloom.

Having a chemical such as chlorine and or chloramine will also kill off any beneficial bacteria if the water hasn't been treated properly. Another chemical that will kill a tank quick is Lysol or any ammonia based cleaners. I have caught my wife using these in the same room as my tanks and that is a serious No-No.

Uneaten food is a third. Unless all the food is cleaned up immediately rotting food will produce ammonia to a point where it is lethal for the fish, and puffers are VERY messy eaters.

Once the ammonia is taken care of either via water changes or chemical additive, the beneficial bacteria converts that into Nitrite which is is still deadly to the fish but it is not as quick a death as being done in by Ammonia. This is also treated by water changes or chemical additive.

Since puffers are scaleless fish these problems are compounded.




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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-03-2011, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry to hear about the death.

There are a number of things that can cause an ammonia spike:

Having an overloaded tank is 1. The fish produce ammonia as a by-product of respiration and waste excrement. If the biofilter can't keep up you get an ammonia bloom.

Having a chemical such as chlorine and or chloramine will also kill off any beneficial bacteria if the water hasn't been treated properly. Another chemical that will kill a tank quick is Lysol or any ammonia based cleaners. I have caught my wife using these in the same room as my tanks and that is a serious No-No.

Uneaten food is a third. Unless all the food is cleaned up immediately rotting food will produce ammonia to a point where it is lethal for the fish, and puffers are VERY messy eaters.

Once the ammonia is taken care of either via water changes or chemical additive, the beneficial bacteria converts that into Nitrite which is is still deadly to the fish but it is not as quick a death as being done in by Ammonia. This is also treated by water changes or chemical additive.

Since puffers are scaleless fish these problems are compounded.
Ok, so do you think that my spike maybe wasn't because I over cleaned the filter after all?

I'm really confused as to what happened. I'm almost positive I did the same as I always do with regards to water treatment, I only had 6 small fish in the tank and they had been together over a year and, as far as I'm aware, there wasn't a lot of waste food hanging about as I always check. Maybe there was something I didn't see, I don't know. I'm so sad this has happened.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-03-2011, 01:00 PM
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well option #2 would have been the issue. As far as your description went you did nothing wrong with the filter cleaning portion went.

maybe too much of the tap water was still present in the sponges?

There are many many variables. I am sorry for your loss. There is one solid underlying truth in all this:

"The solution to pollution is dilution"

An adequately sized and stocked tank "might" have avoided this. Might, being the key word.




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