Cichlids keep dying after around 2 weeks

duanes

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So, a year ago, the OP bought fish and they died after 2 weeks, except the cat and snail
Then bought some more fish, and they died, and then bought more that died?
How many times over the year? Just the tiger barbs and oscar, or more?
I wonder if the first fish were infected with something, and died leaving an infective agent in the tank..
But the cat survived (some diseases are species specific), or because it built up, or has an immunity, or may be an asymptomatic carrier.
The snail is probably not relevant, because most fish diseases don't effect mollusks, although it could also be a carrier..
After the 1st batch died, was the tank torn down and sterilized, along with everything in it?
Were any of the subsequent additions quarantined?
I suspect. that....
What ever the something was that killed the first fish, (bacterial?, viral?) is still in the tank.
And every time new fish are added, they become infected and die.
Are there symptoms? or do they just drop dead?
Although the pH is on the high side, I also doubt that it is acutely relevant.

What I would do before adding any new fish, is tear the tank down and sterilize everything the tank water has touched with bleach, including tubes, nets, filters everything and start over. Start a new cycle, sterilize the filter media or buy new.
I would not add the cat of snail (each could be be carriers) , I'd put them in a separate tank.
Add to that....
Since your tap water is high pH, I would only choose fish that are evolved to live in high pH water.
Oscars are not (and get too big for that size tank anyway), tiger barbs, possibly(they can take pH up to 8)
If it were me, once the tank was sterilized and decontaminated, I'd choose some of the smaller rift lake african species because they prefer high pH water, above 8.
I would also do enough frequent water changes to maintain a nitrate level under 10ppm, which would also maintain a stable pH.
 

Marekj

Black Skirt Tetra
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Jul 19, 2013
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I personally think that pH is not the problem here. You have a tank with an extremely low bioload most of the time (1 catfish, 1 snail). When you add a couple of fish, depending upon their species and size, you could be doubling or tripling the bioload, but the population of beneficial bacteria in the tank is at the very low level supported by the "normal" bioload. Increasing filtration area won't really help, unless perhaps you throw in a fully-matured sponge filter at the same time as adding the new fish.

Many people seem to forget that the population of bacteria that a tank will support is dependent upon the bioload, i.e. the amount of ammonia available for them to utilize. Adding more surface area will change nothing, the total bacterial population of the tank will grow only when more food (ammonia) becomes available. If the added filtration already has an established bacterial population, it must be added when the new fish are; otherwise, the bacterial population will drop down to the level the tank will support.

A tank of X gallons with one fish has enough bacteria to survive on the ammonia produced by that one fish...regardless of filtration surface area. Adding another identical fish doubles the bioload, and there will be an ammonia spike until the total bacterial population catches up with it. The same tank established with 10 identical fish has 10x the bacteria. Adding one more fish increases the bioload by 10%, a barely noticeable blip that is quickly corrected. Bear in mind that the situation you are describing with this tank sounds very much like the first scenario rather than the second.
This was very helpful
 
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Marekj

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Jul 19, 2013
19
8
18
Ny
So, a year ago, the OP bought fish and they died after 2 weeks, except the cat and snail
Then bought some more fish, and they died, and then bought more that died?
How many times over the year? Just the tiger barbs and oscar, or more?
I wonder if the first fish were infected with something, and died leaving an infective agent in the tank..
But the cat survived (some diseases are species specific), or because it built up, or has an immunity, or may be an asymptomatic carrier.
The snail is probably not relevant, because most fish diseases don't effect mollusks, although it could also be a carrier..
After the 1st batch died, was the tank torn down and sterilized, along with everything in it?
Were any of the subsequent additions quarantined?
I suspect. that....
What ever the something was that killed the first fish, (bacterial?, viral?) is still in the tank.
And every time new fish are added, they become infected and die.
Are there symptoms? or do they just drop dead?
Although the pH is on the high side, I also doubt that it is acutely relevant.

What I would do before adding any new fish, is tear the tank down and sterilize everything the tank water has touched with bleach, including tubes, nets, filters everything and start over. Start a new cycle, sterilize the filter media or buy new.
I would not add the cat of snail (each could be be carriers) , I'd put them in a separate tank.
Add to that....
Since your tap water is high pH, I would only choose fish that are evolved to live in high pH water.
Oscars are not (and get too big for that size tank anyway), tiger barbs, possibly(they can take pH up to 8)
If it were me, once the tank was sterilized and decontaminated, I'd choose some of the smaller rift lake african species because they prefer high pH water, above 8.
I would also do enough frequent water changes to maintain a nitrate level under 10ppm, which would also maintain a stable pH.
If the condition of the Cuban Cichlid worsens I will take your advice remove all tank members, strip down and sterilize everything and start from square one but until then I will continue doing water changes and using prime. Thankyou for your help
 

duanes

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Cuban cichlids should be able to take a higher pH, mine spawned and raised lots of fry at a pH of almost 8.
If it doesn't survive, I believe you should take this as a cue, that there is some infectious agent present in the tank, and you need to start with a clean slate instead of dropping new fish into the contagious soup.
How many times did you add new fish that soon died?
And were there symptoms before death, like ....
Bloated stomachs.....whiteish patches that look like fungus......spots....blotches on the head....near the dorsal......frayed fins?
in order to diagnose things like this, info that is too general is often not helpful, and lead people that try to help down dead ends.
If you are not concise and detailed its too hard to respond.
I looked at this thread yesterday, but decided it was too vague to give an answer.
Not until others drew out enough info, could I venture to respond.
But specifics like, appearance changes of fish, all the water parameters like pH, nitrate, these things other responders asked for and mentioned before, the parameter numbers before and after water changes especially if the are different, and frequency and volume of water changes are all relevant to get accurate answers.
 

Marekj

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Jul 19, 2013
19
8
18
Ny
Cuban cichlids should be able to take a higher pH, mine spawned and raised lots of fry at a pH of almost 8.
If it doesn't survive, I believe you should take this as a cue, that there is some infectious agent present in the tank, and you need to start with a clean slate instead of dropping new fish into the contagious soup.
How many times did you add new fish that soon died?
And were there symptoms before death, like ....
Bloated stomachs.....whiteish patches that look like fungus......spots....blotches on the head....near the dorsal......frayed fins?
in order to diagnose things like this, info that is too general is often not helpful, and lead people that try to help down dead ends.
If you are not concise and detailed its too hard to respond.
I looked at this thread yesterday, but decided it was too vague to give an answer.
Not until others drew out enough info, could I venture to respond.
But specifics like, appearance changes of fish, all the water parameters like pH, nitrate, these things other responders asked for and mentioned before, the parameter numbers before and after water changes especially if the are different, and frequency and volume of water changes are all relevant to get accurate answers.
No patches bloat frayed find or any signs of external parasites or diseases. The changes started to occur after a week they would first stop eating, then become lazy until just laying on the bottom breathing heavily with a quick of dashes here and there against the substrate until finally floating to the top and dying. Tiger barbs Oscars and other tetra's have all me the same exact fate some last longer than other's but only by a couple of days. Tried this several times with 5 barbs each time and twice with one Oscar Sorry about the vagueness this is one of my first posts.
 

duanes

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Isla Taboga Panama via Milwaukee
Most tetras are not good in high pH water ...that said, laying on the bottom and breathing heavy could be symptoms of many things including disease.
Have you asked your LFS what the pH of their water is, does it coincide with yours? Do they add partial RO to soft water fish tanks?
If your water is drastically different pH than theirs, this could easily take tetras out, especially some of the more sensitive ones like cardinals, or other Amazonian species
Also a high pH often makes even small amounts of ammonia acutely toxic.
Just a few more things to consider.
For experienced fish keepers, water is not just water, and to certain fish it may be a matter of health, or illness.
MFK is considering adding a bit of a questionnaire that needs to be filled in, when asking these types of health related queries.
If it was there for you to fill out, it would have made life easier for you, and for those who tried to help.
Your post is a perfect example of why it would be important.
Inadequate information
 
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Marekj

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Jul 19, 2013
19
8
18
Ny
Most tetras are not good in high pH water ...that said, laying on the bottom and breathing heavy could be symptoms of many things including disease.
Have you asked your LFS what the pH of their water is, does it coincide with yours? Do they add partial RO to soft water fish tanks?
If your water is drastically different pH than theirs, this could easily take tetras out, especially some of the more sensitive ones like cardinals, or other Amazonian species
Also a high pH often makes even small amounts of ammonia acutely toxic.
Just a few more things to consider.
For experienced fish keepers, water is not just water, and to certain fish it may be a matter of health, or illness.
MFK is considering adding a bit of a questionnaire that needs to be filled in, when asking these types of health related queries.
If it was there for you to fill out, it would have made life easier for you, and for those who tried to help.
Your post is a perfect example of why it would be important.
Inadequate information
This is what I found in the "inadequate information" thread.

-- ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH by a liquid test tube kit, such as the API f/w master kit
-- ideally KH, GH, and TDS or a general indication of water softness / hardness and TDS
-- temp
-- description of aeration and stirring
-- filter type, size, flow
-- tank size and time of running
-- fish size, tank mates, size, interactions, time of owning
-- whether the fish are wild caught, dewormed or not, treated against other parasites or not, prior health history of fish, of tank mates
-- photos of the entire tank and closeups of the fish

I believe I answered more than half of the guidelines of this checklist in my original post to the best of my ability. Sure I could have been more detailed but I don't believe it was by any means inadequate. However I will contact my lfs tomorrow and ask about there parameter.
 
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jjohnwm

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Mar 29, 2019
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Actually, the original post was one of the better ones with respect to providing relevant info. It's still easy to miss some items, so having a template with a complete list of questions to answer still saves a lot of time; inevitably, the one piece of data I often think I need or want is the one that has been missed or forgotten. Then the first dozen or more posts are wasted asking and answering further questions.

Another forum I once frequented had this feature, and it was useful...although the quality of the answers didn't approach MFK even with that added info.
 

esoxlucius

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Dec 30, 2015
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Actually, the original post was one of the better ones with respect to providing relevant info. It's still easy to miss some items, so having a template with a complete list of questions to answer still saves a lot of time; inevitably, the one piece of data I often think I need or want is the one that has been missed or forgotten. Then the first dozen or more posts are wasted asking and answering further questions.

Another forum I once frequented had this feature, and it was useful...although the quality of the answers didn't approach MFK even with that added info.
I agree with this. Firstly M Marekj did a way better job than most in his opening post but that said, important info was missing so it's more difficult to join the dots when they're not all there. And as you've picked up on on jjohnwm jjohnwm , it's usually the real nitty gritty data that you need that is often missing.

The real big problem with a questionnaire type solution is that once we've all brain stormed as to how many questions are needed, we wouldn't have a questionnaire to fill in, we'd have a booklet!!! First time posters and rookies who come here for advice would probably not even bother posting if they saw the firewall they had to get through first.

But as we speak this problem is being mulled over by the site.
 
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