Four out of Five clown loaches dead

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Four out of Five clown loaches dead

Post by sparkle801 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:02 am

Hi....I am new to the forum. Please excuse me if there has been a post about this before as I do not have the time to hunt it down right now and am needing information. I had to take my husband into the city a couple days ago to the Dr. and spent the night. My mom was tending to the fish while we were gone as she always does. Upon our return, I went to feed them and 4 of them lay dead on the bottom. They all looked fine when we left. I've had these guys for 15 years and they were quite large....some larger than others. There appeared to be nothing wrong with marks or fuzz or patches. It is a 55 gallon tank and I have read here that is not big enough for them, but they hid so often it sometimes looked like an empty tank. Lately though they have been staying out where I can see them and none looked in distress. I am thinking it had to be the water quality after reading some of the posts, and I'm sorry I cannot tell you the readings as I've just done the same thing for 15 years and never had a problem (partial water change every month as well as changing the filters). I changed the filters before leaving but did not have time for a water change. But....why is the one clown loach still alive and looking well. He acts totally fine. If he had died also or even looked sick, I could understand this better. Now I am faced with either giving him away.........which would be difficult after this many years...and getting him friends. Trouble husband will not let me get a larger tank so will have to stay with this one. I would appreciate any advice or suggestions. Please don't tell me I've been a bad "mom". My heart is hurting already. I know I must have killed them. But why is the one so healthy looking? What am I overlooking? Thank you in advance....... :(

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Re: Four out of Five clown loaches dead

Post by Diana » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:39 am

Without testing the water it is very hard to say what happened. I can make a few suggestions, however.

A water change once a month is nowhere near enough. The toxins (primarily nitrate) slowly build up, and the fish get used to it. But it is a low level stress. Then something else happens, and that low level of stress, going on so long, has left them with less recovery potential and they die.

A filter change throws away the beneficial bacteria that have been growing on the filter media. There are still some bacteria living on the other surfaces in the tank, for example on the substrate, on decorations, on plants and other things. Still, that loss of bacteria from the filter media allows ammonia to spike. This may or may not be a problem. If the pH of the water is low (under 7.0) then most of the ammonia will be in the form of ammonium (NH4) which is a stress, but not as deadly as ammonia. If the pH is over 7.0 then the ammonia is in the form of ammonia (NH3) which can kill the fish pretty fast. Older tanks with insufficient water changes tend to have a lower pH, but not always.
An ammonia spike is often followed by elevated nitrite levels. This is because the bacteria that remove ammonia grow pretty fast, so convert the ammonia into nitrite. But the nitrite removing bacteria are slower growing, so the nitrite lingers. Read about Brown Blood Disease to see how toxic nitrite can be.

Other things could have happened, too, and we have no way of knowing.

Suggestion: Give away the lone Clown Loach.
Get a test kit. Read up about water chemistry, and what happens with insufficient water changes.
Do the fishless cycle while you are researching fish. This will keep the beneficial bacteria alive. (Fishless cycle is at the top of the Health forum)
When you are ready to restock you will need to do a very large water change to remove the nitrate that will build up during the fishless cycle.

Fish ideas for a 55 gallon:
Maximum adult size: 6", and that only if it is a fairly sedentary fish. 4" for an active species.
Get something that lives in the upper area, perhaps a single Gourami, or a school of Hatchets. (Covered tank!)
Get something that lives in the middle area, perhaps a school of Tetras, Rasboras or Barbs.
Get something that lives in the lower area, Loaches or Cories. A good Loach for this tank might be the Zebra Loach.

If you want to stick with Asian fish, then...
(1) Pearl Gourami
(15) Harlequin Rasboras
(6) Zebra Loaches
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

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