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asylumdown
08-16-2010, 10:26 PM
Hey folks,

Been a while since I've checked in here. Hopefully someone can help me trouble shoot the cause of a recent melt down of my 40 gallon.

It's at my work so I only see it during working hours and if I come in on weekends to take care of it, otherwise I do most of the maintenance over my lunch break. Over the past few months I will admit that my maintenance routine has fallen a little behind as I now have two saltwater tanks at home that get most of my my time in my off work hours, so instead of getting water changes every 7 days, it's been more like every 10-12 days the past few months but until recently everything was doing fine.

The tank:
Fully planted and mature, it was set up about 14 months ago. Large gravel base with finer gravel spread on top for the plants to root in. Filtered by a Marineland C-220 external canister. It's doesn't move much water so there is a small koralia in the tank for extra circulation.

Temp: 81.5 F
Fish: 2 Boesemani Rainbows, 1 Blue Diamond Discus, 1 Yellow pigeon blood discus, 2 flying foxes, 2 praecox rainbows, 8 cardinal tetras, 3 oto cats and 5 ghost shrimp.

I know it's an odd mixture of fish, but that stock list hasn't changed in about 7 months so everything seems to have adapted to each other and the slightly higher temp for the discus.

The Crash:
Tuesday: at lunch I did a thorough clean, thinned out some over grown plants (and used the opportunity to do a massive vacuum of the gravel that I couldn't do with the plants in the way), did 40% water change and cleaned the filter (using tank water to rinse all components, like always).

Wednesday: everything was fine, fish were happy, water was clear.

Thursday: everything was fine again, fish showed no signs of stress, left work at 5:45 and all equipment was working normally.

Friday morning: both Boesemani rainbows, both discus, both flying foxes, 1 praecox rainbow, 5 cardinal tetras, 1 oto and all 5 shrimp were dead. The surviving praecox rainbow and the cardinal tetra's were clustered near the surface gasping for air. Unfortunately on Friday I was working off site so I got the news via phone call and I had to immediately leave town for a function over the weekend so I couldn't come in myself to see what had happened. The person who discovered them 'thinks' the filter was off, so he unplugged it and plugged it in to a different socket and the filter came back on, but the filter was plugged in to a working socket of a power bar so I can't imagine why it would have died. The temp was a solid 81.5 degrees friday morning and the heater doesn't appear to be broken. I wasn't able to come in before I left town and the person who found the tank forgot to take a water sample for me to test (grrrr). I tested the water today and other than a slight colour change on the ammonia test (the guys at the office removed all dead fish except one flying fox, which rotted in the tank all weekend) and unusually high nitrates, nothing appears to be out of the ordinary, though with the filter running properly all weekend an ammonia spike would have been cleaned up by now I suppose.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what could have caused that dramatic of a crash? Even if the filter did somehow mysteriously fail after the office closed (it appears to be working just fine now), I'm having a hard time getting my head around the idea that 12 hours (max) with no filter would kill EVERYTHING, there has to be at least some filtration happening within the substrate, on the plant leaves and on the driftwood in the tank and the koralia never stopped circulating water. Could my aggressive gravel vacuuming a few days before have started some sort of reaction? All of these fish had names and the people in the office were pretty devastated to have them all die like that so I'm nervous to restock the tank without a cause.

reefwars
08-16-2010, 10:38 PM
could someone have dropped in something like cleaners or any other chemicals???

dsaundry
08-16-2010, 10:38 PM
I think you may have answered your own question when you said the fish looked like they were gasping for air, they probably were, years ago I had a similar crash and lost 22 Koi angelfish, all my water parameters were perfect, fish were all plump and happy the night before, sometimes when you go and service the tank when you refill after stirring everything up, it depletes the oxygen and they litterally suffocate. I had been doing fw tanks for years and never had a problem, until that happened. Took a while to figure it out as well.

JonT
08-16-2010, 10:51 PM
Also something to consider, Plants produce O2 all day with the lights on, but at night, they are using it. Wonder if they had something to do with it.

Wingin It
08-16-2010, 11:26 PM
I think you may have answered your own question when you said the fish looked like they were gasping for air, they probably were, years ago I had a similar crash and lost 22 Koi angelfish, all my water parameters were perfect, fish were all plump and happy the night before, sometimes when you go and service the tank when you refill after stirring everything up, it depletes the oxygen and they litterally suffocate. I had been doing fw tanks for years and never had a problem, until that happened. Took a while to figure it out as well.

+1 If you don't already have an airstone or bubble bar in the tank i'd definately put one in.

asylumdown
08-16-2010, 11:53 PM
So you think it's likely an oxygen thing? The tank hasn't had any major changes in it for about 7 months so it was just so shocking to have this happen now. Other than an airstone is there anything that can be done to prevent it from happening again? Every so often I try and take out most of the plants so I can properly clean the gravel, is this something I need to worry about every time I do that (I know way more about salt water systems I'm afraid)?

cale262
08-17-2010, 12:12 AM
I don't vac the substrate in any of my planted tanks,...that's why I have plants,..But if the filter was down for any amount of time the BB could be toast, I always keep a bottle of seachem stabilty on hand for just such occations.

dsaundry
08-17-2010, 12:31 AM
Air stone is probably best and agree with fellow member, maybe less vacuuming as planted tanks require less...:biggrin:

Wingin It
08-17-2010, 01:00 AM
certain gasses can become trapped under the sand (i'm assuming you have sand) and if it's not dispelled regularly and then suddenly released it consumes the oxygen and the fish suffocate. By adding an airstone you guarantee oxygen for the fish...the only other thing you can do is add an annoying HOB filter that tricles into the tank and creates oxygen that way.

I personally never vaccum my sandbed...the plants are so numerous and the trumpet snails are everywhere so I don't do anything for it. Just the normal water changes and even those are few and far between because it is a heavily planted tank.

ElGuappo
08-17-2010, 03:05 AM
I use an aquaclear filter because it agitates the water and adds oxygen.
Now i also added a koralia incase the aquaclear stops. In the past
in heavilly planted tanks I used an air stone but only at night. I don't
care for the bubbles that much. I just ran the air pump oposite
to the lights.

othicx
08-19-2010, 04:00 AM
like Wingin It said, i can almost say for sure that it was the vacuuming of the gravel that released ammonia and what not into the water which starved the fish of air. I personally do water changes 2 times a month. and have a bubble stone in the tank to keep the water airated.

reef-keeper
08-19-2010, 07:00 PM
Had the same happen and after tested the water and the ammonia spiked to over 30ppm. The guy I spoke to is a marine biologist and he said that when I stirred up the gravel that much I took out all the bacteria that controlled the ammonia causing it to spike to toxic levels killing most of the inhabitants. Now I never stir the gravel during water changes.