Geophagus cichlids are dying?

Bobby2415

Jack Dempsey
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Aug 12, 2019
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Have you tested your water?
Yes
If yes, what is your ammonia?
0
If yes, what is your nitrite?
0
If yes, what is your nitrate?
20
If I did not test my water...
...I recognize that I will likely be asked to do a test, and that water tests are critical for solving freshwater health problems.
Do you do water changes?
Yes
What percentage of water do you change?
51-60%
How frequently do you change your water?
Every week
If I do not change my water...
...I recognize that I will likely be recommended to do a water change, and water changes are critical for preventing future freshwater health problems.
I have a 90 gallon SA cichlid tank that has some angels, electric blue Acaras, serpae tetras, silver dollars, giant danios, and had (2) red head tapajos geos and (2) surinamensus geos.

I have had the tank up and running for over a year and this particular stocking for almost 2 months.

Im running (2) penn pax cascade 1000 canister filters and the temperature is between 78-80F.

——Ammonia and Nitrites are 0.
——Nitrates are between 20-30.
——PH is between 7 and 7.2.
—— Not sure on water hardness (on city water).

I do a 50% Water Change every 3-4 days (use Prime).

I first had a surinamensus begin breathing very heavily while laying on the ground, eventually dying. It had its normal colors and showed no physical signs of illness that I could see. A week or so later the other surinamensus did the same thing. Now here I am a day after the second one died and one of the red heads are lying on the ground breathing heavily, looking like it is about to die. They all look healthy (other than the heavy breathing), all the other fish seem fine, and I don’t notice any bullying going on.

Any ideas of what I might have going on?Possibly Columnaris or not having enough oxygen in the tank? Appreciate any input.
 

NilusFishFamily

Black Skirt Tetra
MFK Member
Nov 7, 2018
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It sounds like it might be overstocked. Your dissolved oxygen levels too low. Check http://www.aqadvisor.com/
You need to keep it stocked below 80% for healthy fish...

This is why they aren’t floating, staying at the bottom because there literally isn’t enough air to keep them buoyant.
Frequent water changes/frequent testing doesn’t make up for being overstocked.

in an emergency you can drop water from the tank back into the tank from some height, but with so many fish I’m not sure what that will really do. (Don’t use tap water!) Colder water also helps the water maintain O2 levels, as does an air stone and other things that break the surface tension of the water. Avoid adding salt as that can decrease dissolved oxygen in the water.

good luck. I hope they make it.
 
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phreeflow

Aimara
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Nov 19, 2007
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I had the same thing happen with my albino heckeli group that I recently purchased. Kept losing them one by one...no external symptoms but they would breathe heavy and die. Turns out they had a bacterial Gill infection...used furan and it cleared up. No more deaths or heavy breathing
 
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Bobby2415

Jack Dempsey
MFK Member
Aug 12, 2019
133
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I had the same thing happen with my albino heckeli group that I recently purchased. Kept losing them one by one...no external symptoms but they would breathe heavy and die. Turns out they had a bacterial Gill infection...used furan and it cleared up. No more deaths or heavy breathing
How did you end up coming to the consensus that they had the bacterial infection?
 

Bobby2415

Jack Dempsey
MFK Member
Aug 12, 2019
133
52
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It sounds like it might be overstocked. Your dissolved oxygen levels too low. Check http://www.aqadvisor.com/
You need to keep it stocked below 80% for healthy fish...

This is why they aren’t floating, staying at the bottom because there literally isn’t enough air to keep them buoyant.
Frequent water changes/frequent testing doesn’t make up for being overstocked.

in an emergency you can drop water from the tank back into the tank from some height, but with so many fish I’m not sure what that will really do. (Don’t use tap water!) Colder water also helps the water maintain O2 levels, as does an air stone and other things that break the surface tension of the water. Avoid adding salt as that can decrease dissolved oxygen in the water.

good luck. I hope they make it.
I do agree it will probably be overstocked when all the fish get full size. The fish are all pretty small still though. Nothing is over 4”. Most are closer to 2”-3”. Does that change your opinion or do you think that still could be the problem? Thanks for the reply.
 

duanes

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You should probably go to your cities water department web site and get hardness parameters your tap water (or it may be listed on your water bill).
Soft water species like northern S American Geo's, are often more susceptible to bacterial diseases in hard water especially if nitrates are high (that is if your water is in fact hard).
I consider 20-30 nitrate ppm high, and those high nitrates suggest to me you are either, not doing enough and large enough water changes for the amount of stock in the tank, or not cleaning filters enough, so they are spewing back nitrates.
Most common angels, the acaras, and those tetras can handle harder water, but Geo's are not as robust under certain less than perfectconditions.
Here are some collection point water data parameters for northern S America.
B24ECD52-7DFD-4AEF-AE57-94DC44E98715_1_201_a.jpeg
F4743C82-2314-439D-89DC-B243A12BE111_1_201_a.jpeg
58D5FF9B-7535-49F4-AEAA-3FFC11DC0A2B_1_201_a.jpeg
Note that although pH on the first 2 are close to yours, the water hardness (mineral content) and conductivity are very low on all 3.
Fish from these waters have not evolved immunity to the kind of bacteria present in hard water.
In many cases this shows up as chronic disease such a HLLE in soft water species as they age (common in oscars and soft water Geo's).
But can be acute if conditions such as nitrate is also out of their normal range.
 
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NilusFishFamily

Black Skirt Tetra
MFK Member
Nov 7, 2018
87
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An api test kit will tell you the hardness for your water- it’s a solid investment. much more accurate than strips and will last about 5 years...

NONE of this tells us how much dissolved oxygen is in the tank. There are expensive meters that will measure it but just google not enough dissolved oxygen aquarium and you’ll see the list of symptoms - with the non float being a red flag.
Salt decreases O2. Higher temps decrease 02. Overstocking decreases 02.

I DO still think it’s possible that it’s overstocked.
the 1inch rule I’m sure you know is a myth, if you check that link I gave aqadvisor.com it should take into account their current size. I recall when I entered specs on my pleico inputting information relative to his size/age.

Your tests are coming back zero? When are you testing and how often? How long before and after water changes?
Even 2ppm can be toxic to cichlids (link-highlighted on 2nd pic)
3D84F2E4-EE0A-4B82-998C-3F56592402C9.jpeg

524994A3-120A-4251-B551-E37B3D2E24A3.jpeg
 

Bobby2415

Jack Dempsey
MFK Member
Aug 12, 2019
133
52
31
27
You should probably go to your cities water department web site and get hardness parameters your tap water (or it may be listed on your water bill).
Soft water species like northern S American Geo's, are often more susceptible to bacterial diseases in hard water especially if nitrates are high (that is if your water is in fact hard).
I consider 20-30 nitrate ppm high, and those high nitrates suggest to me you are either, not doing enough and large enough water changes for the amount of stock in the tank, or not cleaning filters enough, so they are spewing back nitrates.
Most common angels, the acaras, and those tetras can handle harder water, but Geo's are not as robust under certain less than perfectconditions.
Here are some collection point water data parameters for northern S America.
View attachment 1423576
View attachment 1423577
View attachment 1423578
Note that although pH on the first 2 are close to yours, the water hardness (mineral content) and conductivity are very low on all 3.
Fish from these waters have not evolved immunity to the kind of bacteria present in hard water.
In many cases this shows up as chronic disease such a HLLE in soft water species as they age (common in oscars and soft water Geo's).
But can be acute if conditions such as nitrate is also out of their normal range.
I called the water department and it looks like my water hardness is in the low 6dGH.
 

phreeflow

Aimara
MFK Member
Nov 19, 2007
476
529
130
ca
How did you end up coming to the consensus that they had the bacterial infection?
I don’t know for sure but all my water parameters were in line and there were no external signs of illness at all. None of my other fish, including my other geos were affected. It was just the group of albino heckeli that I just purchased that would look fine one day, then start breathing heavy and die. I don’t typically run to the medicine cabinet unless I know what I am treating but I was losing too many so I looked through the meds and on the box of furan, it mentioned bacterial gill infection. I took a chance and sure enough, they recovered and no more losses. Definitely not scientific but sharing my experience which solved a similar issue. Good luck
 
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Bobby2415

Jack Dempsey
MFK Member
Aug 12, 2019
133
52
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I don’t know for sure but all my water parameters were in line and there were no external signs of illness at all. None of my other fish, including my other geos were affected. It was just the group of albino heckeli that I just purchased that would look fine one day, then start breathing heavy and die. I don’t typically run to the medicine cabinet unless I know what I am treating but I was losing too many so I looked through the meds and on the box of furan, it mentioned bacterial gill infection. I took a chance and sure enough, they recovered and no more losses. Definitely not scientific but sharing my experience which solved a similar issue. Good luck
I definitely appreciate the input. I have never had to medicate any fish up to this point since having my tank up. So I’m new to it. On the furan, it say to remove all filter media when dosing. So does that mean I have to take all the mechanical and bio media out of both my canisters? I have seachem matrix bio media, does that mean I’m just going to face time buy all new media when I’m don’t dosing?
 
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