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Quarantine tank mystery


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Two hillstream loaches now rest in a sandy grave.

I was inspired by a couple of Youtube videos on hillstream loaches and instantly thought that they would be the awesome next members to try add to my aquarium.  I filled 10 gallons of dechlorinated tap water into my Sterilite (held clothes before, cleaned with tap water and my hand then out in sun for 12 hours) translucent tub/quarantine tank (QT), added a couple of cycled sponge filters (because it is said that hillstream loaches need good oxygenated water), a heater (set to 75'F), a couple plastic plants, and silly or not, I added some glass marbles to the bottom of the tank to give the bottom more surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize (as I had the dickens trying to get the barebottom tub to cycle).  Parameters, pH 8.0 (tap water's pH), KH 240 ppm, GH 30 ppm.  Using a master test kit, made sure no ammonia, nitrite in tub.  Nitrate was 40 ppm (level in tap water).  Got a juvenile hillstream loach (about 1 inch in size) from the LFS who stated their pH was 7.2-7.4 and temp at 74'F.  Typically I drip acclimate new additions, so I set up a bucket, added an airstone (again for the oxygenation), and started a long acclimation period.  Perhaps I went a bit overboard. . .. 6 hrs later I decided that the loach was probably acclimated and so I put it into the main tank.  Less than 24 hrs later. . . . lifeless loach.  Tested the water the loach was in. . . ammonia and nitrite were zero, temp at 75'F, all filters working.  What gives?  Now, I know the IDEAL pH for hillstream loaches are less than 7.5 but I have heard from others that they were doing just fine in 8.0 pH.  

Maybe it was just that the juvenile couldn't acclimate because it was so young?  Ok.  Let's try again.

Just to be sure there were no residual bad "voodoo" or whatever was in the previous tanks water, I siphoned out some of the water from the QT into a bucket, put the filters in, exchanged 100% of the QT tank water with fresh dechlorinated water, put the heater back in, got temp back up to 75'F (took about 12 hours) then added the sponge filters back in.  Checked tank parameters.  Again, pH 8.0, no ammonia nor nitrite, nitrate at 40 ppm, KH 240 ppm, GH 30 ppm.  All the same peripherals, 3 plastic plants, about 2 lbs of bluish glass marbles on the bottom.  

Got a more mature hillstream loach (this one about 2 inches long) from a different LFS.  Put it in the bucket with airstone, and did a faster drip acclimation (maybe the long acclimation process stressed the prior loach out too much?).  1.5 hours of drip acclimation later, pH in the bucket with the loach was 8.0 so I figured it's time to introduce to the QT tank.  Checked the QT tank parameters, ammonia and nitrite zero, water at 75'F.  In it goes.  AGAIN, LESS THAN 24 hours later. . . lifeless loach.  Tested the water, ammonia and nitrite zero, pH 8.0, nitrate 40 ppm.  ????

Pictured are set up with loach in bucket to drip acclimate, then pictures of the 2nd loach when just added into the Sterilite QT tub, then when I took out dead loach #2 into a cup.

Is it just that the loach can't survive in a pH of 8.0?  Is there something that leaches out from the Sterilite tub that is toxic to the fish?  Is there something I'm missing?  Where did I go wrong?  Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

acclimation1.jpg

Fresh in1.jpg

fresh in2.jpg

dead loach2.jpg

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Crazy,  maybe the PH

You said you kept clothes in this container?  Do you use Dryer Sheets?  Or fabric softener?  Moth Balls?
For the price of a new plastic container from the dollar store or a new 5 or 10 gallon, I think before you try again I make a purchase.

with the way they hold, suck or cling to any surface maybe this container isn’t safe.  
also why is your PH 8.0? And local stores 7.4?  Just curious.

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In my experience sudden changes in pH and temperature are far less stressful than imagined.

When I get a new fish home, I cut open the bag and pour the fish and the water it came in directly into the aquarium. Not a quarantine tank but instead an aquarium that is that fishes permanent tank.

While none this sounds good on paper, in reality plop and drop works very well for me.

 

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I would suggest a float acclimation next time or just a plop 'n drop like @Daniel said. A lengthy accliamtion period can be stressing for fish. Cory sated in one of his previous videos that he lets the water in the bag get to room temp, and then poors him into the tank. So techinically no acclimation. 

PH won't usually play a big effect in fish, unless they are wild caught. So I don't think the ph was the problem. 

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I hope the LFS is warrantying these fish.  The problem is most likely with the LFS. 

The entire purchase and relocation process is stressful, from the initial netting to the final release.  I would eliminate the QT.

My acclimatization procedure is to float the fish and store water in the store bag, in the aquarium, slowly adding small amounts of aquarium water.  I might stretch this out for up to 1 hr.   The water chemistry and temperature will equalize over the time it takes to fill the container, and the other fish will usually try to check out the new comer.

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4 hours ago, Brian said:

Crazy,  maybe the PH

You said you kept clothes in this container?  Do you use Dryer Sheets?  Or fabric softener?  Moth Balls?
For the price of a new plastic container from the dollar store or a new 5 or 10 gallon, I think before you try again I make a purchase.

with the way they hold, suck or cling to any surface maybe this container isn’t safe.  
also why is your PH 8.0? And local stores 7.4?  Just curious.

I don't believe the tub/container had any dryer sheets in it, definitely no moth balls, the clothes that we washed and put in the tub may have been dried with a fabric softener?  Maybe washing the tub with my hand and water and drying it in the sun for a day wasn't enough to get out the residue?  

Here's a curveball in the whole story. . . I recently finished quarantining 4 tetra glo-fish in the tub before I tried with the hillstream loach and they survived a 4 week quarantine.  The only things changed with the tub were fresh water, an additional sponge filter, the extra plastic plants, and the bluish glass marbles.  Not exactly sure if the new items brought with them something or I inadvertently did something new.

Yes, the pH from the tap is 8.0.  Go figure.  Maybe it's whatever the local municipality adds to the water?  Not sure though.  The first fish store that I got the first juvenile loach said their pH was 7.2-7.3 and the 2nd LFS that I got the 2nd loach from said their pH was 7.4 but when I did a test strip on their water it was >7.5 but less than 8.0 if I read the strip color correctly.  

So, one long success story with the tub but recent bad failures. . . .  

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3 hours ago, Daniel said:

In my experience sudden changes in pH and temperature are far less stressful than imagined.

When I get a new fish home, I cut open the bag and pour the fish and the water it came in directly into the aquarium. Not a quarantine tank but instead an aquarium that is that fishes permanent tank.

While none this sounds good on paper, in reality plop and drop works very well for me.

 

Wow, even if the LFS's pH is significantly off from the pH that you have your main tank at?  Or is your main tank at a more reasonable pH than mine so there isn't as much disparity?  

Again, the pro's make it look and sound so easy.  But I guess these are the "hard knocks" that newbies most figure out.

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1 hour ago, James Black said:

I would suggest a float acclimation next time or just a plop 'n drop like @Daniel said. A lengthy accliamtion period can be stressing for fish. Cory sated in one of his previous videos that he lets the water in the bag get to room temp, and then poors him into the tank. So techinically no acclimation. 

PH won't usually play a big effect in fish, unless they are wild caught. So I don't think the ph was the problem. 

I can definitely try the float acclimation for a shorter period, and then pour into the QT.  From a biochemistry standpoint, though, it just boggles the mind that a little fish could regulate the pretty significant change in pH (7.3-7.4) to 8.0 so rapidly (plop and drop) without an adverse outcome.  But, since it has worked for experienced fishkeepers, who am I to argue with success, and maybe I am overthinking things and should have more faith in the biology of the fish?

But if it wasn't the pH, that lends itself to what was the culprit? hmmmm. . . . 

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5 minutes ago, crashnburn55 said:

Wow, even if the LFS's pH is significantly off from the pH that you have your main tank at?  Or is your main tank at a more reasonable pH than mine so there isn't as much disparity?  

Again, the pro's make it look and sound so easy.  But I guess these are the "hard knocks" that newbies most figure out.

I wouldn't want to take fish from pH 5 water and put them in pH 8 water. But that is almost never what is happening.

In my aquariums with pH probes the daily cycle of photosynthesis moves the pH a full point or more. When I move a fish from a tank with pH in the low 6s to a tank with high 7s, there is never any ill effect. When in Peru Cory took measurements and saw fish move back and forth between extreme pHs and temperatures with no ill effects. As much as it boggles the mind from a biochemistry standpoint it is what happens in the wild.

As @James Black black says, the most beneficial thing is to get the fish in to high quality water in the least amount of time. If the fish is in a transport bag with excess ammonia, dripping clean water in isn't as helpful to the fish as immediately getting them into clean, happy, ammonia free water.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Tanked said:

I hope the LFS is warrantying these fish.  The problem is most likely with the LFS. 

The entire purchase and relocation process is stressful, from the initial netting to the final release.  I would eliminate the QT.

My acclimatization procedure is to float the fish and store water in the store bag, in the aquarium, slowly adding small amounts of aquarium water.  I might stretch this out for up to 1 hr.   The water chemistry and temperature will equalize over the time it takes to fill the container, and the other fish will usually try to check out the new comer.

Unfortunately, both places had no fish policy. . . essentially all sales are final . . . . I tried two different LFS to see if it was a problem with one of the LFS.  But since there were casualties in the fish from 2 different places. . . it is sort of pointing toward something wrong with the thing that ties them both together. . . me or my QT tank.  I wish that wasn't the hypothesis, but the evidence is pointing toward that.  

I definitely can try to the float the bag with the fish in it and add some water into the store bag as a different method of acclimation.  

Perhaps it's just paranoia after watching so many Youtube videos but all the videos and blogs on fish infection/disease combined with the nightmare and cost of having to treat the entire display tank was what drove me to opt for the QT process before addition to the main tank.  Maybe it's overkill?

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And take all advice with a grain of salt. I know I am very skeptical (I didn't believe Cory at first when he said how cool rice fish were🙂).

That is why I try and frame my advice as 'this is what I have done' and 'this are the results I get'. Who knows what else I do that I might not even be aware of that makes my method work for me. What works for me might not work for you or anyone else.

There is never a golden path, there are always many methods that achieve the same result. The best thing is to keep experimenting (while having fun)and find out what works for you. And then of course, post back here so we can benefit from your experiences.

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4 minutes ago, Daniel said:

I wouldn't want to take fish from pH 5 water and put them in pH 8 water. But that is almost never what is happening.

In my aquariums with pH probes the daily cycle of photosynthesis moves the pH a full point or more. When I move a fish from a tank with pH in the low 6s to a tank with high 7s, there is never any ill effect. When in Peru Cory took measurements and saw fish move back and forth between extreme pHs and temperatures with no ill effects. As much as it boggles the mind from a biochemistry standpoint it is what happens in the wild.

As @James Black black says, the most beneficial thing is to get the fish in to high quality water in the least amount of time. If the fish is in a transport bag with excess ammonia, dripping clean water in isn't as helpful to the fish as immediately getting them into clean, happy, ammonia free water.

 

 

Hmmm, that is awesome food for thought.  I can see how what you're saying does make a lot of sense.  Well, I definitely can try the quicker, float method.  How long do you think you would typically float the bag before adding to the QT tank?

And if I still have the same outcome, maybe it's the tub itself or something in the tub?    

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I had two out of three Hillstream loaches die the first time I bought them from my LFS.  I noticed that one of them had a pink blotch on its underside before even floating the bag.  It shortly after releasing it into my tank. The second one got the pink blotch the second day and died.  When I bought them they were in the same bag that the wholesaler shipped them to my LFS in because I arranged to pick them up from the store right when they arrived so they wouldn’t have to be released in their tanks and then be caught and bagged again.  They are hard to net—so can get injured by that procedure.  They also could have suffered from ammonia from the three of them being in the bag so long.  They seem to suffer from poor water quality or oxygen depletion easily.

I now ask that they be bagged separately when shipped and if the temp is vaguely similar, I pour them into a net over a bucket and rinse them with my aquarium water and plop them in the tank.  I have had no trouble with them since.  I love those loaches.  They are fun to keep and I am hoping that they will eventually breed and multiply.

I hope this helps somehow.

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