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Thread: Discus dying, please help

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    Default Discus dying, please help

    Ive got a disaster on my hands. I recently purchased 10 healthy discus from Discus Hans and they are all now dying. The fish were purchased for a new 150G tank setup and I did a fishless cycle before receiving the fish. No other fish have lived in the tank. I suspect I have a water problem, but am totally puzzled by it. First the equipment:

    Tank: 150G (72L x 18W x 28H)
    Filters: 1.) Eheim 2217, 2.) Eheim 2028, 3.) Spongefilter on a powerhead
    Heaters: 1.) Visitherm 300W submersible, 2. Hydor 300W ETH
    (both heaters controlled by a Jehmco controller)
    Temp is kept at 85 Fahrenheit
    Substrate: Pool Filter Sand (was well rinsed, no cloudiness)
    Decorations: A few rocks, Manzanita driftwood, plastic plants

    Here's the Chronology

    October 18: Started cycling my tank in a fishless cycle. Carefully monitored Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. Tank was finally ready (Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate -10) at the beginning of December. I continued to dose with pure ammonia daily (bringing the level to 5ppm) until just before the fish arrived. Ammonia would always go to zero by the next day. The night before the fish arrived, I did a 75% water change.

    12/19: Received 10 discus and 6 BN Plecos from Discus Hans. All discus larger than 3-inches, the BNs were just under 1-inch. After a day or so, all the discus were swimming well and eating. By the end of the first week, the discus would eat frozen bloodworms from my hand. I had no fish prior to this and have added none since.

    From 12/19 until 1/14/09 everything was fine. All the discus appeared healthy and ate like pigs. I fed about four times daily mostly FBW, but I would mix in some OmegaOne Flakes and TetraColor Tropical Granules. They far preferred the FBW (I used both Hikari and San Francisco). I performed 50% W/Cs twice weekly. Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate steady at 0ppm/0ppm/5ppm. PH measures 7.8 to 8.0.

    1/14: The discus showed no interest in eating during my afternoon and evening feedings. The next morning, most of the FBW clump was sitting on the bottom uneaten by the next morning.

    From that point onward, the fish just did not eat. I would feed and the food would sit. I started doing 50% W/Cs every other day.

    1/19: First discus found dead (a Blue PB). It was looking sick the night before and was on the bottom in the morning. All the other fish looked good and were swimming normally. Still no eating. When I got home from work, I found a second dead discus (a Blue Snakeskin) and another Blue PB dying on the bottom. According to my wife, the PB was on the bottom most of the day and the Snakeskin stayed with it. Suddenly the Snakeskin started swimming rapidly about the tank and banging into the sides. It later settled into a plastic plant where it died.

    Since 1/19, I have performed 50% W/Cs daily.

    1/20: Came down in the morning to find the second Blue PB dead. The other fish were actually looking a bit better and swimming around more, rather than hiding in the corners.

    1/21: Fish all looking poorly and hiding in corners again. In an attempt to remove possible contributing factors, I removed all driftwood and rocks and all but two of my plastic plants. Tests hold steady at 0/0/5 with PH at 7.8.

    1/22: With morning I found a Red Scribbelt discus on the bottom near death and my other Blue SnakeSkin looking poorly. All fish hiding in the corner. Did my normal 50% W/C and vacuum. The Red Scribbelt died in the afternoon.

    1/23: The Blue Snakeskin is dead. This makes a total of five dead discus out of the original ten.

    Im at a total loss to explain the cause. Ive been in constant communications with Hans and he has been incredibly helpful - he even sent me some food!. I could not ask for better support than what he has provided. I am sure that I received healthy fish, but something in my water or setup is killing them. The fish show no outward signs of disease, except their color is a bit faded. Any suggestions?

    roadracr

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    Silver Member MostlyDiscus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Hi RR,

    Where are you located. The water here in VA changed within the last week. I can smell the clormaine the water comp is pumping into the system. What are you treating your WC water with before adding to your tank. No sense feeding them right now if they wont eat and leaving it in overnight is just not needed. Rule of thumb is if they dont eat within 15 mins vaccum it out. PBs are a bit harder to see the signs comming as they dont darken up as much as other strains. My first advice is dont bombard them with unneeded meds. I would start with the water first though and make sure you use something like prime that takes out cloramines. Hans is very good and his fish are awesome for sure. Did you feed any live foods? Ed

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by MostlyDiscus View Post
    Hi RR,

    Where are you located. The water here in VA changed within the last week. I can smell the clormaine the water comp is pumping into the system. What are you treating your WC water with before adding to your tank. No sense feeding them right now if they wont eat and leaving it in overnight is just not needed. Rule of thumb is if they dont eat within 15 mins vaccum it out. PBs are a bit harder to see the signs comming as they dont darken up as much as other strains. My first advice is dont bombard them with unneeded meds. I would start with the water first though and make sure you use something like prime that takes out cloramines. Hans is very good and his fish are awesome for sure. Did you feed any live foods? Ed
    Thanks for your quick reply. I am located in the Indianapolis area (Westfield). I am on city water. I age my water 24 hours in a 75gallon plastic storage tank (purchased new for this setup). I have a 200 watt heater in the storage tank which brings the water to about 80 degrees F by the time I do my W/Cs. There is minimal temperature shock with the W/Cs - the temp goes down to about 82.

    I use Prime as my water conditioner - usually 2 capfuls from the 250ml bottle when I fill the 75 gallon storage tank. The dosing instructions say 1 capful per 50 gallons, so I go a bit over especially because I suspect the chlorine/chloramides are high with this very hard water. Just because I am desperate, I have used 3 capfuls of Prime for the last three days (should be a double dose).

    roadracr

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    One more thing. I have never used live foods, only the ones I listed above.

    roadracr

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    The problem lies in the water it seems. Something had changed. As ED had mentioned it could be the chloramine.

    How do you heat the water that is added to the tank? Is it possible that copper is responsible?

    Suddenly the Snakeskin started swimming rapidly about the tank and banging into the sides.
    I wonder what caused that. I guess it could be a parasite irritating it, drinving it crazy.

    How are the Plecos doing? Are they completely healthy and acting like usual?

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    I agree with Ed. Don't stress them with meds.
    I live in Seattle and due to the recent severe flooding I too have noticed a change in the water. They tend to over-clorinate because the flooding causes mass contaminents to the watershed.
    I would continue the water changes using a conditioner (I also use Prime) Offer food as usual but syphen out if not eaten in 15 min or so.
    Are the fish pooping? (for lack of a more graceful word) and if so is it dark colored or white/clear? I would also consider a salt bath and feeding only frozen bloodworms. I've done this when mine are not quite right and it seems to give the digestion a jump start. Can't remember the salt per gallon ratio, if you search here you will find it.
    OH and I didn't catch if you said what temp your tank is at but raising it to 86-88 will help with appetite.
    What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    I read your reply as my post went through.

    About prime 3x the usual dose, that is fine.

    The recommended dose of Prime (1 ml per 10 gallons) is capable of removing up to 3 ppm of chloramine or up 4 ppm of chlorine. I suspect that the recommended dose will suffice. 3x the dose is also acceptable although may be a bit wasteful. As a general rule it is usually not harmful to slightly overdose dechlorinators as they are not very strong reducing agents. An extreme overdose could lead to problems as it could bind oxygen depending on the situation (this holds true with any dechlorinator).
    Quoted by a Seachem certified tec support specialist from http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...-overdose.html

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by Autumn Wind View Post
    I agree with Ed. Don't stress them with meds.
    I live in Seattle and due to the recent severe flooding I too have noticed a change in the water. They tend to over-clorinate because the flooding causes mass contaminents to the watershed.
    I would continue the water changes using a conditioner (I also use Prime) Offer food as usual but syphen out if not eaten in 15 min or so.
    Are the fish pooping? (for lack of a more graceful word) and if so is it dark colored or white/clear? I would also consider a salt bath and feeding only frozen bloodworms. I've done this when mine are not quite right and it seems to give the digestion a jump start. Can't remember the salt per gallon ratio, if you search here you will find it.
    OH and I didn't catch if you said what temp your tank is at but raising it to 86-88 will help with appetite.
    The fish have not been eating, they have not pooped in days.

    I keep the temperature at 85.

    I heat the storage tank with a submersible heater (also a Visitherm).

    roadracr

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Hi ,
    As mentioned I would suspect water as main issue...I would contact your water company and see if anything has changed recently ....you never know.

    Another thing to consider is spoiled food. When you look at the fish...are their stomachs bloated at all?

    How are the plecos?

    -al
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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by brewmaster15 View Post
    Hi ,
    As mentioned I would suspect water as main issue...I would contact your water company and see if anything has changed recently ....you never know.

    Another thing to consider is spoiled food. When you look at the fish...are their stomachs bloated at all?

    How are the plecos?

    -al
    I'll call the water company today. I don't think it is spoiled food, but who knows? The fish do not appear to have any bloating. I looked for that early on and was prepared to use epsom salts, but there is just no sign.

    Two of the plecos died in the first two weeks. I suspected they were not getting enough algae (new tank). I have tossed in algae wafers, but they don't seem to go for them. The other plecos appear normal and they wander up and down the glass.

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    Registered Member Sandy W's Avatar
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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    I'm new at this, but I would suggest you take a large water sample to your LFS and have them check for more unusual stuff like heavy metals. We found copper in our water as well as ammonium. I switched from Prime to Ultimate (recommended here at SD) as it also chelates heavy metals like copper. Added a resin to the wet/dry and NovAqua to the tank. That, daily WC, plus raising the temp to 90 has made my poisoned fish look better.
    It appears we are getting copper breakthrough from our R/O and Watts is doing a full scale analysis for me for free (it's their R/O unit).
    Send a note to Graham. He is the water guru and is very helpful!
    Good luck.
    Sandy

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Wow im very sorry for the problems youve been having and your loss of fish.
    I have no wisdom to add and as others suspect a water issue .I just wanted to add that you have done everything so right in setting up ,cycling,buying all at once from quality supplier,it really sucks when you do do everything right and things go wrong.
    despite the rise in the cost of living it hasn't lost its popularity.

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy W View Post
    I'm new at this, but I would suggest you take a large water sample to your LFS and have them check for more unusual stuff like heavy metals. We found copper in our water as well as ammonium. I switched from Prime to Ultimate (recommended here at SD) as it also chelates heavy metals like copper. Added a resin to the wet/dry and NovAqua to the tank. That, daily WC, plus raising the temp to 90 has made my poisoned fish look better.
    It appears we are getting copper breakthrough from our R/O and Watts is doing a full scale analysis for me for free (it's their R/O unit).
    Send a note to Graham. He is the water guru and is very helpful!
    Good luck.
    Sandy
    Sandy, I'm sorry to hear you are experiencing a problem.

    Here's my latest. First, another dead discus this afternoon (a Blue Snakeskin). I'm down to four and they all look horrible now.

    I called my water company and they came right out to perform some tests. They checked my source water (right from the spigot) and my tank water.

    Source readings: Ammonia = 0, Chlorine = 0.3 mg/L, PH = 7.0

    Tank readings: Ammonia = 0.04 mg/L, Chlorine = 0, PH = 6.72

    I am guessing that the Ammonia in the tank is residual and is constantly being eaten by the biofilters.

    I called PetLand and PetsMart and both of them only test for the basics (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, PH). One of them sells a test kit that can detect metals so I might go out an purchase it.

    My other question is why the water company is measuring PH of 7.0 and below when my API kit consistently measures 7.8 to 8.2? Not sure if this is important.

    By the way, Hans has been great! The amount of personal attention I have received from the guy has been incredible. To think, he has thousands of fish and hundreds of customers to take care of and he has been following up with me constantly to see how things are going and giving advice. He's great.

    These poor fish!

    roadracr

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Just another update. I just now checked my tank PH with my API test kit. I did both the regular freshwater PH (3 drops) and the high range PH test (5 drops).

    The regular PH test went to the bottom of the scale (blue color, or 7.6). the high range PH test came out at 8.0.

    So, I'm still measuring above the level the water company just calculated (6.72). Still not sure if this is significant.

    roadracer

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    Default Re: Discus dying, please help

    Hi sounds like a real Pita...unless the water has something really toxic in it that isn't obvious, some AC would help here, and The water company knows what they introduce and if it would be fish toxic or not....so
    with fish continually dying I'd go down the possible parasite route.


    All fish carry ambient parasites and normally they would show up quite early with a stressed fish and a lowered immune system. It is not uncommon though for a problem to show up dowm the road from the shipping stress and this may be the problem here.

    A scope would be very handy at this point but I don't think you've got anything to loose if you shotgun them with a chem.

    G

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