Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

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Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Kuhli » Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:02 am

Hello, everyone.

I am losing kuhli loaches left and right, and I don't know why.

One died out of the blue, with no prior symptoms of sickness or stress. A few weeks later I went and bought another to replace the other. It died the next day and the folks at the LFS informed me they had a bad batch that suffered KUSS (I picked it up the day after they shipped in).

A few weeks later, a friend of mine who works at the LFS informed me of an unusual kuhli. A Pangio shelfordii! I went and got it. He was fine. Then another, one of my older kuhlis (quite sure it was P. semicincta) died as sudden as the first. No prior signs of sickness or stress, just dropped dead. The next day, another one of my older ones. I checked and rechecked stats, all was ok. No ammonia, no nitrite, moderate nitrate. I run Purigen. No other fish in the tank exhibited stress or sickness, and no other fish besides kuhlis have died. I performed a small water change after every death. No harsh chemicals are used around the tank (air freshners, window cleaner, etc). A week later I went and got two more kuhlis, a P. kuhli sumatranus and a P. anguillaris. Everything seemed perfectly fine. All well adjusted.

Except this morning, the shelfordii was dead. I'm devastated. He was such a small juvenile. I feel terrible. Checked stats, all good. 0ammonia, 0 nitrite, ~40ppm nitrate. No other fish are stressed/sick. All other kuhlis accounted for and outwardly healthy.

I cannot figure out why my kuhlis are dying. A friend suggested they may be victims of fish herpes or a similar virus that lays dormant until the immune system is weakened.

Stats:
20g tall, planted with sand substrate. 78 degrees Farenheit, weekly water changes of 50%+. EI liquid dosing daily with Excel. Tanks been running for almost three years now. Stocking: Six kuhli loaches, four cardinals (letting them age out, not buying more), a honey gourami, a nerite snail, an assassin snail, two amano shrimp, and three harlequin rasboras (not planned, letting age out, not buying more. father's coworker dumped them on us when I was away)


Any and all advice greatly appreciated. I just want my little noodle babies to stop dying :c

(Edit: before anyone says something about my stocking, yes it's a bit of a mess. I was away at college for one semester and my parents kinda globbed it up. I am currently saving up for a 55g expansion and all the critters in the 20g are going in it.But that's for a different thread!)
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Bas Pels » Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:40 am

While your stocking might be odd, what's important is how many fishes you have in the tank, and that is not too much.

When the tap water changes, water change can be the reason fish die, but in most cases, such changes are not that big.

Most likely, the fish you got after it was only 1 day at the store had something with it - and that desease is now killing fishes. You can try and cure the desease, but it might be hard to kill.

I would, most certainly, not add any fish to the tank for at least a month after the last fish died - but I can imagine that would come donw to an extinction policy. That is, you might face the risk of loosing all your fishes. In thant case, I would drain the tank, and let is stand dry for a week, after which I would fill it and let it stand for another week. Then I'd drain it and fill it again. As all material is old, I would not assume you need to cycle the tank, but you might want to measure nitrite and ammonium before getting new fishes. But obviously, satart with only a few

The dry week is intended to kill all bacteria, but some might be able to encapsule themselves. Thus the wet week - meant to starve them out.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Greek » Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:55 am

Yep, it happens to kuhlis quite often, but IMO we can do a lot to prevent that.
First thing is stress - those fishes are very shy. Of course we can't do much while transporting them, but then - of course we can. The most important factor are places to hide in aquarium. I can't see Your tank so it is difficult to say anything. But what's more - they are typical social animals - they need mates to avoid stress. And here's a first fault which I see - You have bought one shelfordi, one kuhli sumatranus and one anguillaris - without any mates those were more stressed than they would be with some support. That's unaccettable to keep those species in an amount lower than 6 specimens.
Next issue is a level of nitrates - <20ppm is reccommended.
I'll also increase temperature to at least 81F.

What are the dimensions of the tank?
What is the value of pH and general hardness?
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Kuhli » Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:56 am

Bas Pels wrote:While your stocking might be odd, what's important is how many fishes you have in the tank, and that is not too much.

When the tap water changes, water change can be the reason fish die, but in most cases, such changes are not that big.

Most likely, the fish you got after it was only 1 day at the store had something with it - and that desease is now killing fishes. You can try and cure the desease, but it might be hard to kill.

I would, most certainly, not add any fish to the tank for at least a month after the last fish died - but I can imagine that would come donw to an extinction policy. That is, you might face the risk of loosing all your fishes. In thant case, I would drain the tank, and let is stand dry for a week, after which I would fill it and let it stand for another week. Then I'd drain it and fill it again. As all material is old, I would not assume you need to cycle the tank, but you might want to measure nitrite and ammonium before getting new fishes. But obviously, satart with only a few

The dry week is intended to kill all bacteria, but some might be able to encapsule themselves. Thus the wet week - meant to starve them out.


Thank you for the reply. I will have to do this should all fish die, though I don't think they will, as the sudden deaths are only affected the kuhlis. All other fish are healthy and do not exhibit stress symptoms. I've had no random deaths there.

Yep, it happens to kuhlis quite often, but IMO we can do a lot to prevent that.
First thing is stress - those fishes are very shy. Of course we can't do much while transporting them, but then - of course we can. The most important factor are places to hide in aquarium. I can't see Your tank so it is difficult to say anything. But what's more - they are typical social animals - they need mates to avoid stress. And here's a first fault which I see - You have bought one shelfordi, one kuhli sumatranus and one anguillaris - without any mates those were more stressed than they would be with some support. That's unaccettable to keep those species in an amount lower than 6 specimens.
Next issue is a level of nitrates - <20ppm is reccommended.
I'll also increase temperature to at least 81F.

What are the dimensions of the tank?
What is the value of pH and general hardness?


Thank you for the reply. I will bump the temperature to 81 degrees. The tank is a 20g tall, 14.5"L x 26"W x 18.5"H. pH is around 7.6. I unfortunately, do not have something to measure gH with.

The nitrates were probably a bit high a it was near water change day and my Purigen has exhausted. It's currently being regenerated. I did a small water change that day anyway.

I had 7 Kuhli Loaches. Three were confirmed Pangio kuhli sumatranus, the other three were a mystery as they came from a different LFS. Probably either sumatranus or semicincta. And one lone Pangio cunneovirgata that I got from the same LFS as the semicincta/sumatranus. At the time, she was very small and the employee informed me she was just a baby Pangio kuhli spp.. Well, she's mature now and barely 3 inches. I did research and found out she was simply a cuneovirgata. I'm always on the lookout for more cunneovirgata so I can get her some friends, but no luck, online or otherwise.

When the first loach suddenly died, I waited a week before getting another from my primary LFS. I got another sumatranus but was not informed that the loaches had come in the previous day and the little guy died of KUSS shortly after, as did the rest of the batch back at the LFS. A friend, who is an employee, alerted me to the shelfordii and knowing I had lost a loach, told me to get it as she thought I would take better care of it than any other regular joe that came in. I took the shelfordii, with the intention to get more shelfordii once I upgraded to a 55g. Then, two of my older loaches (from the other LFS, probably semicincta) passed away. Again, no signs of stress of sickness. Acted perfectly normal night before, ate and noodled around, then in the morning were dead.

I returned to the LFS a week and a half later, with the intention of getting two sumatranus. My friend was working, and alerted me to an anguillaris that ended up with their oblonga. While I was waiting for my 55g to get oblonga, she once again told me to take the anguillaris. I too, then planned to get more anguillaris once I upgraded. I never intended for these guys to be the lone of their species.

And then a week later, the shelfordii died. And now I'm afraid of loosing all of my kuhlis.

Current stock is four sumatranus, one cuneovirgata, and one anguillaris. Should the two outliers survive this mystery disease, I will definitely get them more buddies when I upgrade (should I be able to find some).

Edit: here is a picture of the tank
Image
I have four PVC pipes, one stone cave, two driftwood pieces with lots of holes through and under, as well as plants. I've had no "doggy piling" going on or super stressed/easily spooked kuhlis.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Diana » Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:22 pm

With a mystery death I would do 2 things:
1) Increase water changes to keep NO3 under 10ppm. Including vacuuming through the substrate as much as the plant roots will allow.
2) Add UV sterilizer.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Kuhli » Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:50 pm

Diana wrote:With a mystery death I would do 2 things:
1) Increase water changes to keep NO3 under 10ppm. Including vacuuming through the substrate as much as the plant roots will allow.
2) Add UV sterilizer.


Thank you for the reply.

I will add a freshly recharged Purigen to help keep the nitrate down, as well as a 75% water change, less feeding, and I've been thinking about getting Seachem Hypersorb or Renew.

My substrate is sand, I can't vacuum through it as I'll end up sucking it all out.

As for the UV sterilizer, I don't see the need? It will only kill free floating pathogens, and we don't even know what's killing the kuhlis. It may be a sedentary or substrate pathogen.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby atmichaels » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:06 pm

Kuhli wrote:I will add a freshly recharged Purigen to help keep the nitrate down, as well as a 75% water change, less feeding, and I've been thinking about getting Seachem Hypersorb or Renew.

Rather than adding more "stuff" to remove nitrates I would focus on reducing the cause of the high nitrates in the first place. Are your nitrates high out of the tap? If not, reduced feeding might be your solution. What is your feeding schedule now?

My substrate is sand, I can't vacuum through it as I'll end up sucking it all out.
In my sand tanks I use a standard siphon with a gravel vac and just reduce the flow by putting my finger over the outlet. This lets me clean the sand without removing it.


As for the UV sterilizer, I don't see the need? It will only kill free floating pathogens, and we don't even know what's killing the kuhlis. It may be a sedentary or substrate pathogen.
True, but as you don't know what's causing your current die-off, you can't rule out free floating pathogens. A sterilizer is a good suggestion.
Currently keeping: gastromyzon spp., hypergastromyzon humilis, pseudogastromyzon sp., sewellia spp., ambastaia sidthimunki, homaloptera spp., serpenticobitis octozona, Yaoshania pachychilus. As well as various catfish, loricarids, livebearers and tetras.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Greek » Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:28 pm

I would also reccomend lowering pH - value in Your aquarium is the next stressful factor. Pangios comes from habitats with many natural acids, even from blackwater. 7,6 is definitely too high for them.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Kuhli » Sun Dec 06, 2015 7:40 pm

atmichaels wrote:
Kuhli wrote:I will add a freshly recharged Purigen to help keep the nitrate down, as well as a 75% water change, less feeding, and I've been thinking about getting Seachem Hypersorb or Renew.

Rather than adding more "stuff" to remove nitrates I would focus on reducing the cause of the high nitrates in the first place. Are your nitrates high out of the tap? If not, reduced feeding might be your solution. What is your feeding schedule now?

My substrate is sand, I can't vacuum through it as I'll end up sucking it all out.
In my sand tanks I use a standard siphon with a gravel vac and just reduce the flow by putting my finger over the outlet. This lets me clean the sand without removing it.


As for the UV sterilizer, I don't see the need? It will only kill free floating pathogens, and we don't even know what's killing the kuhlis. It may be a sedentary or substrate pathogen.
True, but as you don't know what's causing your current die-off, you can't rule out free floating pathogens. A sterilizer is a good suggestion.


My feeding schedule is either a single, small defrosted cube of Repashy Grub Pie, or a pinch Hikari Micro-Pellets or New Life Spectrum five times a week and defrosted bloodworms or freshwater feeding frenzy twice a week. Once a month I will throw a slice of blanched zucchini or lettuce in and leaving it overnight and removing it in the morning.

I did a large water change today doing the method you described. Couldn't see any large debris or mulm or such. Lifted the PVC pipes and driftwood to suck up the mulm underneath.

Out of curiosity, I checked my tap water for nitrate. This was the result, using water straight from the tap, nothing added:
Image
Image
Image
Image

Can't really tell the level but clearly I have nitrates from my tap.

As for lowering the pH levels, how would I do that safely? I have some IA leaves and bark I can throw in there but wouldn't that rotting just raise my nitrates?
And the UV filter, I found a relatively good priced one: http://www.petco.com/product/114522/Green-Killing-Machine-Internal-UV-Sterilizer-with-Power-Head.aspx
However, it is completely internal and I fear that putting it in my tank will clog it up as it is already quite small and the whole back panel is covered with the filter intake/outtake and heater. What are your suggestions?

Thank you again for the help.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Diana » Sun Dec 06, 2015 9:26 pm

With that much NO3 in the tap water, I think this is the source of the high NO3 readings in the tank.
Continue water changes (you are removing other things besides NO3), but you may want to treat the tap water before using it to refill the tank. Store the water in a bucket or garbage can (depending on how much you need) and run a filter on it with some nitrate removing media.

The UV you link works well, but has a very small intake with just a small sponge. Clean the sponge daily.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby atmichaels » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:01 pm

Agree with Dianna's suggestion of setting up water source for your tank changes. However, to get a truly accurate reading of the nitrates in your tap water you should let it off gas for 24-48 hours and then check it. There are a lot of additives in city water that can impact the pH that breakdown within that time frame. Another way of testing is to bring some tap water to a boil to speed up the off gassing and then test it when it cools.

On the UV filter, I know it will clutter the tank but it is just a temporary measure. You will not need to run it all the time.

Austen
Currently keeping: gastromyzon spp., hypergastromyzon humilis, pseudogastromyzon sp., sewellia spp., ambastaia sidthimunki, homaloptera spp., serpenticobitis octozona, Yaoshania pachychilus. As well as various catfish, loricarids, livebearers and tetras.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Kuhli » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:10 pm

Diana wrote:With that much NO3 in the tap water, I think this is the source of the high NO3 readings in the tank.
Continue water changes (you are removing other things besides NO3), but you may want to treat the tap water before using it to refill the tank. Store the water in a bucket or garbage can (depending on how much you need) and run a filter on it with some nitrate removing media.

The UV you link works well, but has a very small intake with just a small sponge. Clean the sponge daily.

gree with Dianna's suggestion of setting up water source for your tank changes. However, to get a truly accurate reading of the nitrates in your tap water you should let it off gas for 24-48 hours and then check it. There are a lot of additives in city water that can impact the pH that breakdown within that time frame. Another way of testing is to bring some tap water to a boil to speed up the off gassing and then test it when it cools.

On the UV filter, I know it will clutter the tank but it is just a temporary measure. You will not need to run it all the time.

Austen


Thank you both for the replies. I will try and get the UV filter as soon as possible.

How long should I run it in the tank for? A week?

As for the nitrate situation, storing the water somewhere for filtration will be difficult. I have a spare filter but nothing to hold all the water i need for a water change. I live, unfortunately, in a small townhouse and have limited space. The only thing I can think of is a barrel or plastic tub but I have no where to store it :c

And the ph? Shall I add some IAL/bark to the tank to lower it?
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Greek » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:20 am

Kuhli wrote:And the ph? Shall I add some IAL/bark to the tank to lower it?

Leaves and bark won't do much with values like that. You firstly have to lower KH with mineral acids (hydrochloric or sulfuric) and than acidify water with tannins.
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Kuhli » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:56 am

Greek wrote:
Kuhli wrote:And the ph? Shall I add some IAL/bark to the tank to lower it?

Leaves and bark won't do much with values like that. You firstly have to lower KH with mineral acids (hydrochloric or sulfuric) and than acidify water with tannins.


And I can do this by doing....?
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Re: Kuhli Loaches Keep Dying Suddenly

Postby Bas Pels » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:09 pm

I would suggest you start with a bicket of water from the tank. Measure the pH

To this you add something which would acidify the water, such as oak leaf extract. A little, such as 1 ml. Then measure the pH again. Most likely, the pH is a lot lower, perhaps it went from 7.5 to 6.5. If it is more or less 1 point, calculate how much larger your tank is, and add this amount. Diluted, off course

if it is not more or less 1 point, calculate how much more you would need for the bucket, and add this.

Obviously, you get the point: find out how much of the extract you need to lower the pH 1 point and add this to the tank

Measure the pH and the next day do so again. In almost all cases the pH is back to what it used to be.

That is, the water in the tank is in pH equilibrium with the tank itself, and when the water becomes a bit more acidic, the tank will compensate. Therefore you will need to add more extract the next day. The same amount as the day before.

Were you to lower the pH more than 1 point, the fish might be harmed, so you cannot lower the water pH more than 1 point. Therefore lowering the pH in a tank is Always something which will take time. Lots of time.

I will be turning a tank for South American cichlids into a tank for Tanganjica cichlids soon - pH will raise from 6.5 to 8.0, and although I can do this without any fishes, I assume the pH laise will take me a week. After which the algea will start dying, so it might take a month to repopulate the tank.

So, good question - inquiring how to lower pH. I't's a lot more complicated than most people, including most chemists, would think (I'm a chemist myself, and found out the above about the tank pH equilibrium myself)
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