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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all; First time writing at your forum. I'm writing for my wife who is the fish keeper. For many years in two different cities here in TX we had our 60 gallon tank (freshwater) going fine with several fish that survived a long time. (Back around 5 years ago there were a large tin foil barb, large plecostomus, and a few other large fish. They lasted at least eight years. Then they died out and we bought two extra large Oscars, and they lasted for at least 2 years and then died. But in another city, my wife had more luck with longevity.)

In the past 2 years, in our new city of Granbury, TX, we put new fish in, at least 4 times. And these fish varied widely between Goldfish and African Cyclades (but not together). The PH tests normal, ammonia was normal, but one Nitrate tested very high but one didn't. Also ran basic bacteria test which tested normal.

The water here, as tested by a Culligan water person, was said to be soft, but with allot of chlorine and high in diluted solids (but not hard water, which comes from iron, copper, etc content.)

My wife is diligent at changing out the water when it needs it or cleaning out excessive algae if it accumulates. I bought a Culligan filter that hooks up to a clean hose to the sink that filters out all of the chlorine and has a bacterial filter. She also has a second 15 gallon tank with similar care and a couple of similar types of fish.

Ultimately though all of the fish die far too fast (sometimes they will last a couple of months and then suddenly seize and die within a day). It seems as if they all die within a week of each other. And then the routine starts again. We also have quality filtration and oxygenation systems.

Color us stumped and my wife upset by this mystery. Please help if you can. Thanks in advance.
 

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Welcome to the forum.

Could it be a environmental change such as weather? Do you heat or cool your tanks?
My initial thought was a difference in water, but it sounds like you have looked into that already. Though I am a bit curious what "diluted solids" means.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Welcome to the forum.

Could it be a environmental change such as weather? Do you heat or cool your tanks?
My initial thought was a difference in water, but it sounds like you have looked into that already. Though I am a bit curious what "diluted solids" means.
Hi. Well, environmental...no. We have a heater that keeps the temp at 75 to 78 degree range. And this is typical for both tanks.

The Culligan report shows 580 ppm of total dissolved solids. (I think I used the word "diluted solids" by mistake).Per this link Total Dissolved Solids Drinking Water Quality

"Total dissolved solids (TDS) comprise inorganic salts (principally calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides and sulfates) and some small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water."
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just to add a bit more; My wife says that another fish died in her second smaller aquarium so all those fish are gone. But in the big aquarium, a single survivor is still alive, and that's the one that survived the last death rally several months ago. Hmmmm. So ultimately both tanks are suffering from similar deaths and at very close to the same time.
 

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Hmm well I don't know.
Is there any other changes that happened when you moved?
Food changes?
My only other thought was air quality?
Nope. Food same. Air better.

We are convinced that it is something with the water here. Our neighbor has a small bowl with a goldfish but only uses bottled water and her fish is fine.

We are tempted to get the water analyzed by A & M University. But if they find it to be bad, then what? Not going to use bottled water. What is amazing is that there is a store that sells fish in this city and also Walmart that sells fish. Yet we cannot get any solid suggestions from either. It's ridiculous. I wonder if they are just barraged with people complaining about dead fish.

We are almost ready to bail on fish and put a reptile in or something. This has been going on for two years and my wife gets very attached to these fish. I would have given up long ago and put a lava lamp in instead. *r2
 

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This email after I surveyed about 12 of my neighbors:

"I tried to help my daughter start a fish tank when we moved here a few years ago and without luck, all of our fish kept dieing as well. When I talked to the people at Green's (local aquarium store) they said that we needed a bigger filter pump, so we got one that was for a tank twice the size of our tank. It didn't work and the fish kept dieing. So all I can say is that I have had a similar problem but have no solution and i am sorry!"

The only consolation so far is we're not alone.
 

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Its the water, if its from the tap get the municipal report, they have to produce it when you ask, culligan is a bottled water company, so its only natural to have those extra minerals in there for human consumption.

You either need a tap filter or an RO unit. also especially with large tanks its a PITA to do this but if you can "season" the water overnight and try again it might help.

we had a storm here and a few days after I did a PWC, my ammonia spiked to 8.0+ and I lost 4 of my bigger, breeder fish, called the city, they said the levels were human safe the human safe levels were toxic to my fish.

Distilled or spring water works the best with fish. Sorry for your bad luck with the water, chicago aint much better.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Its the water, if its from the tap get the municipal report, they have to produce it when you ask, culligan is a bottled water company, so its only natural to have those extra minerals in there for human consumption.

You either need a tap filter or an RO unit. also especially with large tanks its a PITA to do this but if you can "season" the water overnight and try again it might help.

we had a storm here and a few days after I did a PWC, my ammonia spiked to 8.0+ and I lost 4 of my bigger, breeder fish, called the city, they said the levels were human safe the human safe levels were toxic to my fish.

Distilled or spring water works the best with fish. Sorry for your bad luck with the water, chicago aint much better.
Thanks. Culligan sells "whole house filters" and RO filters systems. High dollar, so we didn't buy that. But I installed a Whirlpool inline filter under the sink, so if I shift it to full cold the filter is in use. Add to that another inline filter from Culligan that attaches to a hose and is connected inline to the faucet. So two faucet filters. And even that isn't good enough. And yes my wife knows about seasoning and does that too. Maybe the darn RO unit is the only way to go. Sorry you lost some fish too.
 

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I use them in one of my tanks right now, and its quite possible my new 45g is going to run one too, its has one but unsure I want to use it or not, I am thinking sumps, but no Paul B on here has had one running for 30 years, mines been on a year and under plate is quite clean for what it could be. I think we are both running RUGF system though, I know I do.

RUGF, reverse the flow, go under and up thru the plate rather then down and up.
 

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How long have these 2 tanks been set up since you got your newest fish?

Can you give some exact readings in terms of pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?

How much water does your wife change and how often?

What kind of filtration are you currently using?

Is this a new house?

Do your fish show any signs of stress prior to death?..and what were the fish that were in the tank/ how many?

I would take your neighbors problem with a grain of salt. It seems like they were fairly new to the fish hobby and probably did not have a cycled tank and then overstocked it with fish.

Instead try talking to your local fish store and see what problems (if any) they have had with the local water. Hang on the back filters (HOB) work just as well as undergravel ones if you buy the correct size for the tank. I would discard any carbon filtration and just work with biological (bacteria) and mechanical filters (filter floss).

Activated carbon found in many fitlers and even your water purifiers are only good if you stay on top of them and change them regularly otherwise the begin to leech the impurities back into the water at a higher dose.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
How long have these 2 tanks been set up since you got your newest fish?

Can you give some exact readings in terms of pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?

How much water does your wife change and how often?

What kind of filtration are you currently using?

Is this a new house?

Do your fish show any signs of stress prior to death?..and what were the fish that were in the tank/ how many?

I would take your neighbors problem with a grain of salt. It seems like they were fairly new to the fish hobby and probably did not have a cycled tank and then overstocked it with fish.

Instead try talking to your local fish store and see what problems (if any) they have had with the local water. Hang on the back filters (HOB) work just as well as undergravel ones if you buy the correct size for the tank. I would discard any carbon filtration and just work with biological (bacteria) and mechanical filters (filter floss).

Activated carbon found in many fitlers and even your water purifiers are only good if you stay on top of them and change them regularly otherwise the begin to leech the impurities back into the water at a higher dose.
I'll give you some answers (since I'm at work) and the balance when I get home.

The specific chemistry info will be up to her. I don't know how sophisticated the readings are but I'll get back with you.

The water change method she has used is unchanged for many years. Quite honestly I don't know the volume of water exchange though. Again, I'll get back to you.

What kind of filtration are you currently using?

Is this a new house?

Do your fish show any signs of stress prior to death?..and what were the fish that were in the tank/ how many?
As I mentioned, we have two inline filters that feed the tank. The filter itself on the tank is a good quality one designed for aquariums of our sizes. I'll have to ask her about the specific model/type.

Brand new house (2 years old),.

There was one fish in the small tank and 4 in the 70 gallon one. The varieties were purposely chosen for being harmonious with each other. I think she said, at various times, there were goldfish or cyclides (sp?) , and placostumus. Yes, at time of death they would behave radically and swim to the top and slam their head into the plastic. And shortly after this behavior they would hang out near the bottom and die. One of the signs, my wife says, of water issues is where the fish would hang out in the tank (top/middle/bottom). I'm going to try and get her to join in here instead of me being the middle man.

Instead try talking to your local fish store and see what problems (if any) they have had with the local water. Hang on the back filters (HOB) work just as well as undergravel ones if you buy the correct size for the tank. I would discard any carbon filtration and just work with biological (bacteria) and mechanical filters (filter floss).
As I understand it, the local fish store doesn't use the city water at all. I told my wife to try and figure out how they do it then. (As you can tell, as an engineer I would be asking way more questions instead of trying to second guess. It's one of the reasons I'm here at this forum.) I'll let her know your filter info. Thanks.

Activated carbon found in many fitlers and even your water purifiers are only good if you stay on top of them and change them regularly otherwise the begin to leech the impurities back into the water at a higher dose.
The filters inline are brand new. The ones in the tanks I can't answer for. Another one I'll have to get back to you on.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The answers I promised in the prior message:

How long have these 2 tanks been set up since you got your newest fish?
2 years

Can you give some exact readings in terms of pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?
No, the testing kits I use have color ranges and everything is within the normal range.


How much water do you change and how often?
Before we moved to Granbury I could do a partial water change every couple of months. Now I'll be lucky if I can get by with once a month or even sooner. The big difference? I used to have an undergravel filter (not running) in the tank before we moved here and I didn't use it after we moved. Needless to say, I'll be putting it back in...

The newer, 10 gallon tank did not come with an undergravel filter and it gets very nasty in about two weeks. I'll be putting one in it too.



What kind of filtration are you currently using? (MFG, MODEL)
I've had it awhile but I think it's a Tetra Whisper 60 Power Filter
 

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Update from my wife:

I found the problem with the aquarium.

When I was pulling gravel out of the big tank to use in the little tank, I found a rusty nail. I've had a tank die of this very type of thing 20 or so years ago when a friend gave me an aquarium plant that was weighted with metal and the sealant around the weight had cracked to expose the metal to water. Every time you remove the water and expose it to air, the metal rusts. The syptoms and cause of death in those fish 20 years ago are the very same as this time around.

And there you have it.

How I found a rusty nail in 80 pounds of wet gravel that is basically the same color, that's another story entirely...
I hope this is the end of this miniseries. :fishGreen:
 

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uh huh, sounds like a consipracy to me......


glad you found the problem, I just found 30 dead fish in a tank I just took in, 200 pounds of eco complete the people ran on the house and left the tank, sad sad, some rather large skulls I found in 200# of gravel.
 

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Problem definately was not because you stopped using your undergravel filter. This type of filter hides the "crud" better because it sucks it under the gravel but it is just as dirty if not more. Your nitrates continue to increase and the only way to keep it in check is with water changes...unless you have a heavily planted tank.

I would seriously consider doing a 10-25% water change weekly or at the least once every 2 weeks from now on. Good luck!
 

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uh huh, sounds like a consipracy to me......


glad you found the problem, I just found 30 dead fish in a tank I just took in, 200 pounds of eco complete the people ran on the house and left the tank, sad sad, some rather large skulls I found in 200# of gravel.
*r2



Problem definately was not because you stopped using your undergravel filter. This type of filter hides the "crud" better because it sucks it under the gravel but it is just as dirty if not more. Your nitrates continue to increase and the only way to keep it in check is with water changes...unless you have a heavily planted tank.

I would seriously consider doing a 10-25% water change weekly or at the least once every 2 weeks from now on. Good luck!
I passed on your info to wifee (of course she already bought the filters off of Amazon). (sigh)

Thanks all for the input!
 
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