Oscar doing poorly, lethargy and not eating/pooping

JSlead

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Oct 17, 2020
9
1
3
46
Have you tested your water?
Yes
If yes, what is your ammonia?
0 or 0.25
If yes, what is your nitrite?
0
If yes, what is your nitrate?
20-40
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?
41-50%
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.
Hi All, brand new member here. I did read the sticky post concerning info and I hope to not miss any points.

I am not new to aquariums but am new to monster fish. Two months ago I adopted a tank with some inhabitants. That tank was a 60gal and came with a 12” Oscar (I believe female), a 10” Jack Dempsey (I believe male) and an 8” common pleco. I was able to move the tank and all its setup without crashing the cycle. The fish however were listless and not eating. After much research it was clear that this was not enough tank space.

Two weeks ago I bought a brand new 90gal tank for these three fish. Here are the contents: 2 HOB filters (Emperor 400 and 350 with sponges, no carbon). There are two programmable heaters (500 and 300w) set currently to 79°. There’s a bubble bar and a power head well. Lots of plastic plants, two midsize pieces of driftwood, and a huge plastic root system for hiding.

Water comes from our well. It comes out at PH 8 and is rather hard (8). I treat it with Stress-Coat when filling the tank.

API Master Test Kit params: PH 8, Ammonia 0 or .25, Nitrites 0, Nitrates I try to keep to 20 but before WC it gets around 40. I want to do 50% WC weekly but have been doing them more frequently.

Fish problem: Oscar is lethargic (to my eye, dangerously so). She’s very timid and hides in the corner most of the time. I can get her to eat a little each day (cichlid pellets, thawed krill, Monster Medley). She enthusiastically ate some feeder shrimp last week but these are not readily available here. Also she ate a Tetra I put in there. I have tried thawed, peeled frozen shrimp many times but she simply refuses to eat them.

She almost never poops. Tiny tiny little bits of red-brown poop occasionally.

Worried about constipation, I did an Epsom bath for 30min in a 20-gal tank. No poop. I then treated the whole 90 tank and that night she pooped a little. But that also raised the KH considerably so I did a 50%WC today.

Also worried about possible parasites (no white poop though) so I did one treatment of API General Cure yesterday.

bottom line: lethargic, listless, refuses food, no poop, no physical symptoms: no bloating, spots, injuries, anything like that.
 

Dalfrey86

Candiru
MFK Member
Apr 8, 2020
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That’s a small tank the prior owner had them in. How long was that 60 gallon up and running?
 

JSlead

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Oct 17, 2020
9
1
3
46
Some details I forgot- there is also some Java moss in the tank. The substrate is natural river gravel (very smooth rounded gravel).

There is some natural sunlight, but not direct. I have led lights on a 6-hr. light cycle (40% brightness) and then they go blue for moonlight for 3 hrs in evening.
 

JSlead

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Oct 17, 2020
9
1
3
46
That’s a small tank the prior owner had them in. How long was that 60 gallon up and running?
Hi. I do not know that. The prev owner (wife) suddenly became hospitalized and had to give up the tank. The husband we got it from knee nothing about caring for them.
 

kno4te

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Think it could be just stress from being in a new tank versus hard water. I’d increase the water changes to twice a week. Do this and see if it improves.If not better then I’d lean toward the hard water. Gotta try and reduce with rodi water if or add some peat moss to lower the ph slowly. Try and keep a constant ph. Watch the poop as stringy and clear poop is the concern. Just IMO.
 

JSlead

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Oct 17, 2020
9
1
3
46
Think it could be just stress from being in a new tank versus hard water. I’d increase the water changes to twice a week. Do this and see if it improves.If not better then I’d lean toward the hard water. Gotta try and reduce with rodi water if or add some peat moss to lower the ph slowly. Try and keep a constant ph. Watch the poop as stringy and clear poop is the concern. Just IMO.
Thank you. I actually have been doing WC twice weekly; I was hoping to get down to one.

I did put a little Fluval peat moss pellets in my filter media holder. So far I’ve seen zero change. There’s probably half a cup in there. Should I double that perhaps?

thanks. JS
 

JSlead

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Oct 17, 2020
9
1
3
46
Hi folks, anyone have some ideas for me? I feel like I’m going to be dealing with a beautiful dead fish soon... absolutely listless today. She’s been motionless in the corner all day. She’ll occasionally perk up, swim a lap of the tank, and back to the corner.
Based on the previous comment I bought 15gal of distilled water (its PH was 7.2 and hardness was near zero) and did a partial water change again last night. I don’t believe it changed my PH at all (how is that even possible?!?) but I have to admit, I can’t figure out exactly which color tab goes with the PH color I’m seeing (API High Range PH test). My test water comes out a very very pale tan color. Doesn’t look like anything on the supplied color chart. I ordered a digital PH meter which I think will help.

Should I do even MORE distilled water today? So far I’ve put 15 gal into this 90gal tank.

Thanks again for any possible ideas!
 

kno4te

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MFK Member
Dec 24, 2005
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Hi folks, anyone have some ideas for me? I feel like I’m going to be dealing with a beautiful dead fish soon... absolutely listless today. She’s been motionless in the corner all day. She’ll occasionally perk up, swim a lap of the tank, and back to the corner.
Based on the previous comment I bought 15gal of distilled water (its PH was 7.2 and hardness was near zero) and did a partial water change again last night. I don’t believe it changed my PH at all (how is that even possible?!?) but I have to admit, I can’t figure out exactly which color tab goes with the PH color I’m seeing (API High Range PH test). My test water comes out a very very pale tan color. Doesn’t look like anything on the supplied color chart. I ordered a digital PH meter which I think will help.

Should I do even MORE distilled water today? So far I’ve put 15 gal into this 90gal tank.

Thanks again for any possible ideas!
Wouldn’t add any more today. Large ph swings can bother fish. I’d recheck the ph before doing anything and slowly add distilled over a week or 2 to bring the ph down.
 

JSlead

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Oct 17, 2020
9
1
3
46
Wouldn’t add any more today. Large ph swings can bother fish. I’d recheck the ph before doing anything and slowly add distilled over a week or 2 to bring the ph down.
Thank you so much. Yeah- I hope she lives that long. Looks terrible today; worst day we’ve ever had.
It’s a 90 tank and currently at PH8. The distilled water I bought was 7.2 I think. What if I exchanged in 15 gallons every other day, seem reasonable? I’m shooting for middle 7s I think. Thanks!
 
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