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Help! I recently got a 55 gallon fish tank from a friend. When I set it up, I put in my two year old pictus catfish, my two year old pleco and I inherited his two irridescent sharks. One is 13 inches long and the other is only 3. (I dont need lectures about keeping the sharks, they already have homes lined up for when they outgrow my tank).

My fish were doing great. My water stats were that i had safe nitrates and nitrites, ideal alkalinity, hard water, and an alkaline Ph. I tested my water and everything was normal. The next morning both of my catfish were dead and the Ph had plummeted down to super acidic. Now there is nasty snot looking fungus growing in my gravel in only 24 hours and my fish have developed ich really badly. My 3 inch shark is dying as I type this (he keeps swimming upside down and his gills are all red). I dont know what to do and honestly im devastated. The catfish have been with me a while and their loss was felt.

My pleco seems to be doing okay, minus his skin getting a bit more prickly looking than normal. The big shark seems sluggish, but is still eating and his ich seems to be going away. I tried salting the water or raising the tempature but nothing has worked.

Help me, please!
 

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The first thing I would do is put the fish in another (isolated) tank with fresh water to hold them (or use a 5 gallon bucket if you have to).

Totally clean out the tank you inherited to include washing the gravel, refill with water, and test the PH.

I would ask your friend what he had in the tank prior to his giving it to you, & what he used to clean it (if I had to guess I would say that some sort of acidic cleaner was used and a film was either left on the glass or it was possibly absorbed into the seals & released back into the water).
 

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The tank was set up for about 2 weeks before this happened. Does it normally take that long? And thanks so much for responding. The little shark did die last night so the only survivors are Big Shark and the pleco.

Little shark right before he died developed bright red gills right underneath his head. Could he not breathe or something?
 

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Big shark has developed white globs on his eyes and the eyes themselves are cloudy. What is happening? *H2
 

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So sorry about your cats and the shark; reading these posts made me sad for you.
There is something seriously toxic and extremely stressful going on in your tank and it sounds like it needs a massive overhaul. What are all your current water quality parameters? Were there fish in the tank during the two weeks it was set up? I agree entirely with shocktrp that the tank might have been cleaned with something nasty that is still in the water. If you have nowhere else to put your fish (I'd really try to find them a different tank or a friend's tank for the time being), do a massive water change and start adding Cycle to your tank to boost the level of beneficial bacteria in the tank to try to mitigate excess stress. Also get some carbon for your filter (or new carbon if you have some already) to try to get rid of any detrimental water contaminants. And keep us posted
 

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All I have are those test strips, which I know arent the most accurate, but all I can afford right now.

It says that I am safe for Nitrites, at a caution level for Nitrates, have hard water, ideal Alkalinity, and a Ph hovering the dangerous line between Acidic and slightly neutral. (So says the strips, which I found confusing since I thought acidic water = soft water). I have a liquid test kit for ammonia, and it comes up fine.

The fish will be moved back into a 20 gallon tank this afternoon that I had them living in while it was cycling for the first week, and since then all of the fish have been living in the tank until this big disaster happened. (the sharks were added first, the two cats and pleco two days later from their smaller tank) I thought we did a good job of scrubbing the tank when we got it, but maybe not. It was covered in dark green mold-looking spots and white calcification and I made sure to only clean it with water.

When I first noticed the Ich and gross snot looking material growing in the gravel I vacuumed the gravel, and did a 50 % water change. I then added salt and tried to turn up the temperature to kill the ich, but it seems my heater wont go above 70 degrees. I also tried a bit of stresszyme, even though it doesn't normally work.

I'm super attached to my Pleco since I work as a cashier at a supermarket that sells pets. Someone decided not to buy him and abandoned him in his little plastic bag to die. I found him and brought him home (he was 1 inch at the time and now he's about 8). I would hate for him to die after all that. Big Shark came with the tank, and I would hate for me to tell my friend I killed his shark after only having him for a short while.
 

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Huh. This whole thing is rather perplexing. Well, I'm glad they'll have somewhere else to live temporarily. In the meantime, sounds like the tank needs an overhaul
 

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Do you add any thing to get rid of chloramines when you are doing this 50% water change like Prime? Is his water different from yours (city vs well..etc)

Can you say a number range that the pH has droppedn and what the nitrite level and nitrate level is at? (7.0....10ppm...etc)
 

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Acid water is a pH below 7. Basic water is a pH above 7.

Soft water means less "ions" Kh is carbonate ions, GH is other ions like calcium and mangesium.

There is no relationship directly between pH and gh but there is a relationship between pH an dkH and carbon dioxide. At lest i think that is the way it is. *n1

It is possible to have hard, medium, or soft water and all values of pH.

I think you may have some aggression going on plus the tank is not balanced out with plant life. Which may be hard to do with the fish you have but not impossible.

I would add anacharis and vals (plants) and protect them with a partition to seperate the fish and the plants.

I think you will find you fish will do much better with the plants consumeing the ammonia and especially the carbon dioxide. Absorbing the carbon dioxide will also rise the pH. In my tanks to 8.4-8.8 with the api liquid high range test kit.

I highly suspect that your fish are in a high carbon dixoide environment. Which makes it difficult for them to exhale carbon dioxide. And after a few weeks results in all kinds of health problems.

just my .02
 

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Normal tank aerating will get rid of residual CO2 that might be found in water. This amount will be small, and should result in the pH going up as the water ages, not going down.

The quick growing dark green that he is seeing is probably blue-green "algae". This thing grows when there is poor aeration and low nitrate levels. He is also seeing a host of diseases popping up. To me this proabaly means his tank is still cycling and he is having a ammonia/nitrite spike. If there is no bacteria that can break down the nitirite to nitrate yet, his levels will be low resulting in BGA. If water conditions are bad this often leads to fish diseases, red gills, and heavy breathing.

I recommend a better test kit for ammonia, nitrite, and pH over strips and Prime to condition the water.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I moved the big shark over to a 20 gallon tank (his inbetween home) and something terrifying happened. The temperatures of the two tanks are exactly the same, the water parameters are the same, but he became super stiff, and was shaking/floating nose up. We had to hold him belly down in the water so he could breathe for several minutes until he finally began swimming on his own. He is prone to playing dead when he gets stressed, but this is a bit more severe than Ive ever seen before. He keeps sort of flipping over, righting himself, and then doing it again. Hopefully he'll be okay, Ive just -never- seen a reaction like that and I've had fish for five + years. Right now he is laying against the gravel and the glass, breathing and making small adjustments to keep himself in the same position, which is closer to his playing dead routine.

There are no love plants in my tank, as I wasnt sure how to add live plants without totally screwing up the tank or sickening my fish. (ive never used live before).

Also, due to financial problems I cant afford to buy a new motor for aeration since mine broke.

The blue/green stuff was on the tank before I got it and we scrubbed it all off. This new gross stuff is translucent creamy white with white concentrations in the inside of them, almost looking like eggs. It has a snot like consistancy.

The guy who had the tank had city water just like I currently do.

The pH dropped from 7.8 to about 6.2 in 24 hours (when this all started).

If the tank is just cycling, then how do I know it's done in a tank this size?

I do add a solution to the water that clears ammonia, chloramine, and chlorine.

Nitrates and Nitrites both appear to be within "safe" parameters. I dont have numbers since my kit doesn't give a numerical scale. I know I need a better kit, but again, finances have been a little tight lately.

p.s. you all keep saying "he". I am a "she"
 

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new tank, huge bioload, guess what, you got ammonia poisoning as well as what sounds like slime algae(worse then hair algae IMO) you need to get those fish into a QT tank, they will all die in these conditions.

What decor is in the tank?


blue-green is cynobacteria......

you said the tank is 70 degrees, that is also a problem for these fish. What heater is in there? what filter? take some water to the LFS they test for free, ask them to use the drop test. My strips tested fine, I drop tested the tank with two different tests and I had 8.0 ammonia levels, very toxic I did lose a few fish but it happens when tanks crash.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
My algae eater died, even after I moved him to the 20 gallon tank.

I did an ammonia liquid test and the big tank and it was .50 ppm. I added salt to the tank for the shark, but can't for the life of me get the heater to go higher than 66 degrees. The shark is now almost entirely covered in ich, even in what was supposed to be the healthy tank.
 

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There is no decor in the twenty gallon tank, just an inch or so of gravel. In the big tank there were a few silly decorations like a sunken ship with silk plants, and a plastic formation with other silk leaves. There is also a medium size plastic plant and natural gravel.
 

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How big of a heater do you have?

A 200w should easily be big enough to get a 55 gallon over 80*. Is the heater cracked? Can you see water on the inside of it if you take it out of the tank and wipe off the outside?

You can get a 300w on E-Bay for $20+shipping (the same one Petco sells for $46+tax).

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You should add the ich medication to the little tank to see if you can clear it up before the shark dies.

As for the big tank, you should probably break it down, clean everything, and start over with new water - nothing else is working and the water is obviously contaminated with something.

Did you friend ever use the big tank to house reptiles or was it just for fish?

Also, where are you located? Maybe someone is close by & can help you re-cycle the tank properly.
 

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So sorry to hear =( It's terrible to lose that many fish, very depressing. Don't get discouraged. Things like this happen to all of us at some point
 

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I know, I was just so attached to my catfish and especially my pleco. Theyve been with me for like 2 years. I'm not discouraged, I'm just emotionally exhausted and frustrated.

Im planning on cleaning all of the gravel and decorations as well as the tank itself with boiling water. Is there anyhting else I can do to make sure there is no more sickness in my tank? I also plan on potentially getting feeder fish to help my tank cycle for awhile before considering buying fish I'll get super attached to again.

Any advice?
 
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