Is hard water causing fish to die?

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by broozersnooze, 10 Oct 2015.

  1. broozersnooze

    broozersnooze

    Joined:
    10 Oct 2015
    Posts:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    florida
    Set up 110 gal sw tank (after it sat idle for about 10 years due to a lengthy illness).

    Guy at aquarium store sold me water test kit (Tetra 5 in 1 Easy Strips). Nitrates, nitrites were well within normal limits. Specific gravity was right on the money. Water temp 82. GH, PH & KH were all maxed out but the guy at the aquarium store said that was "okay". Bought 5 Chromis damsels & within 5 days all were dead. Would the hard water & alkalinity kill the fish? I've had wonderfully tasting well water for 40 years now (clear, no odor or smell) &, when I had my tank set up before, never had a problem keeping the fish.

    Is there something else I should be testing for? If so, any recommendations? After struggling through such a long recovery, am eager to get back to enjoying my tank & fish as before. :m32:
     
  2. AdS Guest




    to hide all adverts.
  3. Ricky W

    Ricky W

    Joined:
    2 Mar 2014
    Posts:
    236
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    port elizabeth
    How long has ur tank been running fpr
     
  4. TaahirS

    TaahirS MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    10 Jul 2014
    Posts:
    2,585
    Likes Received:
    284
    Location:
    Cape Town (southern suburbs)
    Did you condition the well water in any way? Do you know what the parameters of it are?

    Secondly, get proper test kits. Salifert, red sea, Seachem etc. Strips are notorious for being innacurate.

    What were the actual readings of nitrite and nitrate. Saying they were OK doesn't help. Did you test for ammonia?

    Has your tank cycled. How old is it?

    Did you acclimate the Fish properly?
     
  5. 459b

    459b Moderator MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    12 Mar 2008
    Posts:
    9,745
    Likes Received:
    787
    Location:
    Cape Town
    Those strip kits aren't very accurate. They ok to give an indication of what's going on, but if there's a problem you need a dedicated test for parameter to show what's going on.
    If I recall the max value isn't very high, so maxing out the kit could be one unit over or ten units over.
     
    Krushto likes this.
  6. CameL

    CameL

    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    1,042
    Likes Received:
    120
    Location:
    Primrose Hill, JHB
    You didn't mention testing ammonia, did you do a test for that?
     
  7. broozersnooze

    broozersnooze Thread Starter

    Joined:
    10 Oct 2015
    Posts:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    florida
    WOW! You guys are totally awesome. Thank you VERY much for your kind replies & valuable feed back on types of test kits to use.

    Checked out some of the pics y'all provided and feel dwarfed compared to what you guys are running.

    Tank is a 110 gal Oceanic (3.5' H x 4' W), purchased used around 1980 something & installed it in living room wall, no live rock or live coral but have lots of nice coral decor pieces, sea whips, sea fans & beautiful shells with sand substrate. Using the original wet/dry system & pump as before but added a large round air stone & a long one that has LED lights for bottom of the tank.

    When I was able to maintain the tank (before the injury) it was up & running for a good number of years. Being a career person with children I didn't preferred a tank requiring minimal maintenence so I stuck with hardy fish like very flashy damsels, yellow tangs, clowns, blennies, etc. & had relatively few problems.

    Suffered catastrophic illness in '99 & barely able to care for myself, needless to say everything died & tank wasn't used.

    Answers to all y'all's questions:
    1. No. Well water wasn't conditioned. Never conditioned it all the years the tank was up & running so didn't think it needed BUT things could have changed, I guess.
    2. Nitrite & nitrate readings were almost negligible.
    3. Didn't test for ammonia because kit didn't have that. Took water sample to aquarium store before buying the fish & used the test kit that the guy at the aquarium store told me to use to test the water.
    4. Went home & tested the water & told the guy at the aquarium store that my PH, & KH were maxed out & the GH showed a bright orange/red (the highest color on the strip was a BROWN). He said that wouldn't matter.
    6. I vaguely remember something about the tank needed to be up & running about 4 weeks before putting the damsels in but this guy insisted that it was okay because the damsels will help get the ecosystem established.
    7. I floated the bag of fish in the tank for about 30 minutes then poked holes in the bag to allow the tank water to gradually seep into the bag before introducing the fish into the tank. (This is as I always did in the past.)

    Looks like I've learned the hard way to make sure I deal with the OWNER of the aquarium store instead of trusting the 'help'.

    All your valuable help so far has been wonderful and appreciated. Thank you all again.:thanks:
     
  8. TaahirS

    TaahirS MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    10 Jul 2014
    Posts:
    2,585
    Likes Received:
    284
    Location:
    Cape Town (southern suburbs)
    There's your problem.

    Nitrite shouldn't barely be detectable. Should always be 0. Your ammonia is probably also high. ANY ammonia or nitrite is lethal to fish.

    Read up on cycling a fish tank. Yes, you have to wait around 4 weeks (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter) before adding ANY fish.

    Also read up on drip acclimation. The Fish were probably also shocked as the Fish store probably keep their salinity lower for their fish.
     
  9. TaahirS

    TaahirS MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    10 Jul 2014
    Posts:
    2,585
    Likes Received:
    284
    Location:
    Cape Town (southern suburbs)
    What I'd do now if I was you :

    1. Buy proper test kits for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

    2. Buy pure ammonia and dose your tank to 2ppm.

    3. Wait a week or two and test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If ammonia and nitrite aren't 0 wait another while before testing again.

    4. Only when ammonia and nitrite read 0 add fish. Even 0.25 ammonia can be lethal!!!

    5. Start adding fish and enjoy your tank
     
    Krushto likes this.
  10. TaahirS

    TaahirS MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    10 Jul 2014
    Posts:
    2,585
    Likes Received:
    284
    Location:
    Cape Town (southern suburbs)
    And another thing. What filtration are you running?
     
  11. broozersnooze

    broozersnooze Thread Starter

    Joined:
    10 Oct 2015
    Posts:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    florida
    Awesome response. Everyone has been very helpful. Have been taking notes. Yes, thanks to all of you, I WILL get better testing supplies. As far as the nitrites/nitrates - the reason I said "barely detectable" is because the only color on the test strip that matched was exactly same as the lowest reading on the label used for measuring BUT I agree, MUST have more accurate method to test & WILL get some BEFORE any new fish.

    Previously all I did was keep specific gravity in check, did regular partial water changes & had water checked at aquarium store (different one - gone out of business now).

    Due to career demands, all I was interested in was having a nice looking tank requiring low maintenance. Would have loved to have been able to graduate to the more exotic life forms but life happens and one must learn to be content with their circumstances.

    Frankly, seeing the pics you guys post on here make me a little envious but really enjoy seeing them & reading the comments which is nice, too. Great job! It will be a major blessing just to get the environment worthy of some damsels then take baby steps to expand my horizons. Feel blessed to have had your paths cross mine.

    I just now saw one of the chromis swimming around so I know I have at least ONE left. Hopefully it's not too late for him. Thanks much. :m106:
     
  12. TaahirS

    TaahirS MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    10 Jul 2014
    Posts:
    2,585
    Likes Received:
    284
    Location:
    Cape Town (southern suburbs)
    Just something. If you still have that one chromis then adding ammonia and cycling the tank will most likely kill it. Isn't there anyone who could keep it for you so long? Couldn't the lfs keep him for you?
     
  13. broozersnooze

    broozersnooze Thread Starter

    Joined:
    10 Oct 2015
    Posts:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    florida
    I don't know anyone with just a small freshwater aquarium let alone a SW one. Have a 30 gal. Rubbermaid trash can which was always ear marked specifically for holding salt water mix for partial water changes (and mixing the SW upon initial set up). That's the only thing I can think of. I keep a pump (no filter) in the bottom of the trash can for circulating the water. When I'm ready to pump the water to the tank I connect the hose from the pump to the tank.

    I'm also getting ready to do a partial change & run out for some proper water testing supplies.

    Thanks much for your concern. I will be estatic if this little chromis lives.
     
  14. Ricky W

    Ricky W

    Joined:
    2 Mar 2014
    Posts:
    236
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    port elizabeth
    To save on buying the nitrite and ammonia test kits which will only be used in the beginning of the tanks life u can normally ask a pet shop to test for u works out cheaper. I wouldn't go back to that one tjough
     
  15. CameL

    CameL

    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    1,042
    Likes Received:
    120
    Location:
    Primrose Hill, JHB
    Are you florida in the US?
     
  16. broozersnooze

    broozersnooze Thread Starter

    Joined:
    10 Oct 2015
    Posts:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    florida
    I'm in Florida, Camel. The one damsel left is still alive. YAY! Thanks to much help from all the kind people at MASA . . . Previously the nitrities barely registered and now don't register at all. The nitrates, according to the test kit, previously were in the "safe" range although a helpful MASA member advised me there is NO "safe" range for nitrates. Ammonia is zero. PH, GH & KH are well within limits now.

    Ditto on getting the aquarium store to test the water, Ricky W, but, after the misinformation I've been given by this one worker there, I think I'll wait until the owner of the store is there & get him to do it.

    Have "The Marine Aquarium Reference - Systems and Invertebrates" book by Martin A. Moe, Jr. Unlikely I'll need most of the information in it as, although I've always admired those of you who could grow live coral & rock & have exotics, that was out of my league. Losing a few damsels was bad enough.

    Will continue to monitor the tank & hopefully be able to add some swimming buddies for the surviving damsel in a few weeks. Once the ecosystem is well established some different varieties can be added.

    It seems all is on an even keel now. Apparently I'd been so ill for so long I'd forgotten a lot about what was entailed in getting my tank started back up &, although unintentional, I accept responsibility for that.

    Thanks for everyone's sincere interest & all your valuable input.:thumbup:
     
  17. 459b

    459b Moderator MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    12 Mar 2008
    Posts:
    9,745
    Likes Received:
    787
    Location:
    Cape Town
    Think you mean Nitrites, having some nitrates isnt a problem, some corals actually like some dirty water.
     
    TaahirS likes this.
  18. broozersnooze

    broozersnooze Thread Starter

    Joined:
    10 Oct 2015
    Posts:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    florida
    No, 459b, I meant nitrates. Just going by what another MASA memeber shared with me. I trust all the information I've rec'd so far as it has made a world of difference for my tank. The one remaining damsel thanks you guys, too, I'm sure. :m14:

    Had the 110 gal. SW tank since the '80's but, remaining within my limitations, the only "live" stuff it had was the fish. All else was decorative dead coral & artificial decor - not like you 'big guys' with all the awesome live stuff. A lot of the knowledge for properly caring for the tank had faded from having a lengthy devastating illness. I didn't realize how much I'd forgotten until this event but you pros helped me get back on track now. I am very grateful for MASA and such knowledgeable members so willing to help others.

    That's what life's all about - helping others. Things have no meaning unless they're shared.
     
  19. TaahirS

    TaahirS MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    10 Jul 2014
    Posts:
    2,585
    Likes Received:
    284
    Location:
    Cape Town (southern suburbs)
    No, nitrates can be high.

    Nitrites and ammonia have to be 0
     
  20. broozersnooze

    broozersnooze Thread Starter

    Joined:
    10 Oct 2015
    Posts:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    florida
    Then I REALLY relax, then. I mentioned to a member here that the nitrates & nitrites were in the low range & the reply was that there is NO safe level for nitrates which confused me because on the water test product label is a "safe" range for nitrites reading as well as nitrates. Oh, well. They're both excellent now. The hardness of the water is the only thing that remains at the top of the chart but at least it's not OFF the chart like before. I added a conditioner which must be what helped it come down a little.

    I guess I need to wait 3 more weeks before adding any new fish? The tank has been set up for 5 or 6 weeks now. The guy at the aquarium store told me the water test results were fine & sold me the damsels 9 days ago. 3 days later is when the first fish died. That's when I realized there was a problem. The water has been stable for about 4 days & one damsel is thriving. He seems a little lonely without his buddies. They'd all swim to & fro in a group.
     
  21. CameL

    CameL

    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    1,042
    Likes Received:
    120
    Location:
    Primrose Hill, JHB
    Again, there is no set time limit to wait before adding fish. Have proper water tests done, for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, when ammonia and nitrites are 0, then the nitrogen cycle is being carried out and it is safe to add fish.
    When you add fish, do it slowly to allow your biological filtration time to play catchup and grow to compentsate for the new bio-load.
    The fish you added from the LFS could have had any number of things wrong, before adding to the tank. Maybe they weren't eating at the LFS and you bought them and three days later they just had enough and gave in.

    There are so many avenues in this hobby, the best thing to do is read and learn about the core fundamentals of reefkeeping. The rest is easy.
    The most core fundamental for you to understand right now, is the nitrogen cycle.
    One of our members, DallasG did a very good article, read it here:
    R.E.E.F Methodology: What is this thing called cycling? - Marine Aquariums South Africa
     
Recent Posts

Loading...
Similar Threads - hard water causing Forum Date
Richards bay people doing water change this weekend General Discussions and Advice 7 Nov 2014
water hardness affects skimmer negatively. Protein Skimmers, Mechanical Filtration 26 Feb 2011
water quality for hard corals General Discussions and Advice 30 Mar 2010
hardware battery Majestic Pets Solutions Monday at 14:10
price on hardware Majestic Pets Solutions Monday at 14:06
Majestic Pets Solutions Hardware Specials Sponsor Specials 20 Oct 2016
[wtd] Hardware Wanted 29 Sep 2016