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disappearing tetras


CT_
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A few weeks ago I got 11 cardinals.  In the first couple days I lost one.  Like it just disappeared.  Then I lost another after 3-4 more days.  Now I lost a third one yesterday.

 

The tank is in the kitchen so if they jumped I'm pretty sure I'd find a body as there's not a lot of places for a body to hide.  I do have a lid but it doesn't cover the back 2".  I've not seen any nitrogen spikes, my nitrates are 5 before fertilizing.  I don't have pets other than fish.

 

Is there an explanation I'm missing?

 

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13 minutes ago, CT_ said:

A few weeks ago I got 11 cardinals.  In the first couple days I lost one.  Like it just disappeared.  Then I lost another after 3-4 more days.  Now I lost a third one yesterday.

 

The tank is in the kitchen so if they jumped I'm pretty sure I'd find a body as there's not a lot of places for a body to hide.  I do have a lid but it doesn't cover the back 2".  I've not seen any nitrogen spikes, my nitrates are 5 before fertilizing.  I don't have pets other than fish.

 

Is there an explanation I'm missing?

 

What other fish/inhabitants do you have in the aquarium?

Could the bodies have been sucked up by the filter?

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I agree with @tolstoy21  if you set up a tank for fish to live you will have lots of hides and spaces for things to end up. Between that anything in your tank eating a dead fish, because I am pretty sure nearly all aquarium inhabitants will snack on a body given the chance, i think the chance finding any thing smaller than a guppy or tetra that dies is slim unless you don’t have a lot of decor or hardscape in the tank. 

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Yikes.  That's grim.  I guess the question is then why did they die.  everyone looks happy and healthy.  Some or all of the cardinals are wild caught, perhaps they just couldn't handle the journey to my tank.  my pH is 7.8, which is pretty high relative to what i heard the wild areas they come form.  gh is 6 so not super soft but not that hard.

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Wild caught fish often come to you as adults. It's what those catching them caught, so you get old fish that may be near the end of their lifespan. Add in the stress that goes along with being wild-caught and going through the shipping process, and it's something of a miracle any ever live. I wouldn't stress out about it too much. 

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24 minutes ago, CT_ said:

Ok another one gone while I was sleeping!  How fast can 7 tetra 3 otos and 3 guppies dispose of a corpse?

 

This time I looked around the tank and moved hard scape and found nothing.  Nothing on the floor either.

Do you have snails. They come out of the woodwork in the dark and can make quick work things. 

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Oh man I've had this happen with a lot of fish, but especially tetras (neons to be exact). I had 18 about a year ago and I've got like 8 or 9 now. The population has stabilized after some bad luck, but anything from neon tetra disease to stress or some other random cause might be putting them out. And believe it or not the other tetras will devour dead brethren in a hurry (which is partly how the disease is spread and why it can happen so fast).

Sorry to hear this, I hate it when fish start disappearing without a clear explanation 😢 

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AH! so they are cannibals then!  They are vicious at feeding time.  its a good thing they're competing with guppies and not a slower fish.

 

They all seem so happy and healthy color is good. 

 

Internet says an average cardinal tetra weighs 130mg, so that's probably only 5-10 feedings worth, so I may not even notice the extra nitrogen released if they get digested and broken down slow enough.

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1 minute ago, CT_ said:

AH! so they are cannibals then!  They are vicious at feeding time.  its a good thing they're competing with guppies and not a slower fish.

 

They all seem so happy and healthy color is good. 

 

Internet says an average cardinal tetra weighs 130mg, so that's probably only 5-10 feedings worth, so I may not even notice the extra nitrogen released if they get digested and broken down slow enough.

Oh yeah, once a fish is dead it becomes protein for other fish even in the same species. It's one reason to avoid buying from tanks with dead fish because it indicates both that the tank isn't well cared for but also that any disease may be left to spread. Smaller fish have a tendency to disappear. In fact I've found just some fleshy husks of dead platys (and even one corydora) in my community tank if I overfeed and inadvertently kill a few. Fish will not miss a chance at a meal.

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I agree that fish can get devoured really fast once dead, but I wouldn’t discount the jumping theory either. When I got my school of neon tetras I quarantined them in a shallow tub with a 2inch gap on either side of the lid. In the span of maybe two days I had thee jump out. Two I found crisped on the floor, and one had actually jumped into the bowl where I was quarantining plecos! 😆

Do you have a cat or a dog? They may be taking care of the bodies for you. I lost several neon tetras from my 55 ages ago and I only ever found one body. I believe the cat found the others.

Or you may have a portal in your tank. It happens to advanced fish keepers, you know!

 

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Can confirm your shrimp are eating your tetra bodies. I have a tank with NTD and Amanos. I can't do anything about the NTD but give them their best life, but I haven't had to scoop one out despite my population dwindling from 9 to just 6. The shrimp (and probably the cories) are just too fast to clean up the bodies. That and I have a heavily planted tank so a "hiding" and "dinner" tetra are difficult to distinguish. The good news is that it doesn't sound like anything in your tank is hunting your tetras just disposing of the bodies. Fishy bodies can also be really good at hiding. I once found a nearly completely decomposed molly between two anubias leaves. Scared the dickens out of me when I was cleaning and it finally popped out. It's grim, but this is what these animals do in the wild. It's what they are going to do in our tanks.

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Yeah I recently had a shipment of tetras start disappearing 1 by 1, to the point that I soon needed to buy more to keep up their numbers.

Important to keep in mind, too, that even brightly colored fish can be really good at hiding, especially when they're small. And when they die, they seem to be even smaller and harder to find. So you'd probably have to tear apart your tank looking for tiny bodies that may not still be there.

I wouldn't worry too much. As fish keepers, we try so hard to do everything "right" and it sounds like it should be easy, but fish can have any number of unseen problems, especially small and mass-produced fish like tetras. Sometimes they're just weak to begin with and the inherent stress of moving does them in. It happens, and it's not necessarily anything you could have prevented.

Just keep an eye on their population and keep it from getting lower than 5 or 6, and keep testing for ammonia to see if you need to do a body hunt.

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