And now for a fish nerd interlude. Those of you who aren’t fish nerds, you are dismissed to go eat more Thanksgiving leftovers. 😉
So I need to confess to making a big mistake. For the last six months or so, I’d added fish to my underwater garden tank without quarantining them, and nothing bad happened. (Experienced hobbyists now know exactly where this is going.) Some of those fish included some relatively expensive, pretty ones – neon dwarf rainbowfish.
My quarantine tank was in storage.
I decided to get some more livebearers.
I decided not to get the QT out of storage first.
I put the livebearers in the main tank without quarantine.
They were sick. Whatever they were sick with killed off all the rainbowfish and all the older guppies. (Oddly, the tetras and the rams were apparently immune.)
I failed to save any by setting up a QT bucket with heater and filter and dosing symptomatic fish with antibiotics: the symptoms were extremely vague (mostly just “distressed and dying” – google research failed to find anyone who’d successfully figured it out and fought it off) so it was hard to figure out what to do. And antibiotics for a 55 gallon tank are prohibitively expensive, so dosing the main tank when most of the fish weren’t even showing any distress or symptoms with antibiotics was right out. I did have a guppy showing some signs that could have been fin rot or some kind of fungal infection, and the medication for that was reasonable so I did dose the main tank with meds – just not the hardcore expensive antibiotics.
Lots of plant leaves melted in response. (Doncha just love that?) However, I don’t think I’ve lost any plants and there haven’t been any new fish falling ill for the last couple of days, so I think we’re out of the fish-smallpox crisis. It was strange how it only seemed to affect the rainbowfish and the livebearers! My new Finnex LED light is working out well so far and I’ve got new growth going on a lot of the plants – it was primarily the old growth that melted. The sacrificial anubias in the cichlid tank is even putting off another leaf so we’ll see if it gets eaten up the way the last four attempts did. There’s more plant matter in there now, though, and the autofeeder is all topped up, so hopefully they’ll let it put out a new leaf!
I was quite distressed for a few days while the worst of it was happening. It’s awful to be helpless when your pets are getting sick – especially when it’s your fault because you didn’t go through the QT procedures thinking everything would be fine like it was the last few times. I need to figure out how to keep the filter media for the quarantine tank active – I set it up again, but the media I used for the bucket had to be sterilized, of course. My bottle of Stability was past its useful-by date; I was not going to trust fish to an uncycled 10 gallon so I dosed some pure ammonia last week and got out the test kits. Unfortunately I recently cleaned the canisters and didn’t have used compatible media for the little filter (cue more beating myself up for being a moron all those months ago when I broke down the 10gal.) but I did swap out a prefilter sponge two days ago and I think that did help, because I’ve actually got signs of cycling happening now. I’ve never been so happy to see nitrite results before!
I don’t know how quickly the cycle will complete – it may be too soon to hope that the jumpstart from dumping all the leftover bottle of Stability in at once (several days of testing at recommended dosages showed that it was not, in fact, working – not surprising since it’s been kicking around in my supply bin for quite a while) and the slightly-used filter sponge (from a non-diseased tank) will clear the toxins by tomorrow so I can go shopping for replacement fish and have a proper habitat for them.
In other fish news, predictably the fish I don’t care all that much for are successfully breeding without my intervention while the fish I really want to breed are totally failing at producing a younger generation even with my help. Sigh. I need to put more pebbles in the tank even if it is kinda ugly to have them there. I mean, I’ve got baby rusties, and the three acei I’ve currently got are babies from the colony I sold AGES ago (and are probably getting big enough to start breeding themselves now) but none of my little golden babies have made it. I think one of the girls is holding again with a small clutch, though.
Also I kinda want to see if my ram pair will breed for me, but I hear having a pleco in the same tank means the eggs will get eaten. But I like my little spotted bristlenose and I’m not sure I can move him to a different tank safely, the others all have cichlids in them!
Ah well. Time to pull the pond gloves out again. Maybe after I finish washing the Thanksgiving dishes!