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Discussion Starter #1
First things first:
Tank size: 5 gallons
Filtration: one HOB filter with bio medium and filter wools, one sponge filter.
Water specs: Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: between 5-10 ppm water hardness: 100+ PH: 7.6 - 7.8
Aquarium type: freshwater
Livestock: one nerite snail, 5-10 pest snails, one plakat koi betta

Some history:
First months of setup, did a fish-in cycle unintentionally. Fish survived.
Stock was two nerites, two khuli loaches, and one betta. I moved three months later. A nerite died. My betta began flashing and stopped eating. There were no white spots, nor visible lesions. There appeared to be labored breathing. I tried raising tannins with black tea. The betta and a khuli loach died. One loach and a nerite survived. Moved again almost six months later. Tank was somewhat neglected. Tank is planted. One khuli lodged in my hob and died. Cue nerites and pest snails. Took on an ill betta. Began flashing, same symptoms as first betta. Stayed on the bottom of tank, labored breathing, flashing, but no lesions or spots. During both of these instances of disease, I checked water quality once every couple of days or every day. Readings were the same each time: low nitrates, no ammonia/nitrite. Now I have a new betta (see above) and it began flashing as well. I have repeatedly checked water quality and found no sign of imbalanced stats. The only things that have changed are PH (was 6.9-7.2 before I moved) and water hardness (from 80 before move to 100+ after). I did a slow acclimation with this new betta, adding my aquarium water slowly over a two hour period. (Not drip; I poured small amounts, waited 30 minutes, repeated) he did well for a week. I did a 50% water change: two days later, cue flashing. I treated the water with paraguard last night, and again this morning. No flashing since, and color has improved.The persistence of this pattern of illness in multiple fish leads me to suspect a ciliate parasite of some kind, but with no lesions or fuzz or ich bumps, I have no way to identify the illness without a microscope. I cannot tell if the fish was incubating an illness when I bought him and it revealed itself during the stress of acclimation and moving to a new home, or if my aquarium is infested by some kind of ciliate fish parasite. Perhaps my water is too hard. I do not know for sure. That is why I'm asking for help from anyone who might have some advice. I want to troubleshoot my whole tank, not just my sick betta, so this never happens again. Any help would be VERY appreciated.
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