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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some thoughts on what caused this. . .

On Saturday I did a complete rescape of my 90g tank--took out all the plants, added another bag of eco-complete, and added ~1/2-2/3 of the plants back.

I did a 50% water change and everyone seemed happy. The next morning I came out to a bunch of dead fish and shrimp.

The casualties:
--all of my tiger barbs (5 total--they were old and had symptoms of dropsy in the past and were not the healthiest as they were my first fish and had been through the wringer as I learned about the hobby)
--alll my SAE's (3 total--full grown but younger than my flying foxes)
--all my Amano shrimp (10 total--the shrimp were all upside down and white with a bright orange mark on the tops of their heads).

All the rest lived (12 dwarf neon rainbows, 5 swordtails, 2 clown loaches, 3 zebra loaches, 2 clown plecos, 4 harlequin rasboras, 2 flying foxes, 6 odessa barbs, ~6 ottos). I can't really recall if they were stressed (more worried about getting the water changed asap) but they were not gasping at the surface.

I immediately started a water change and tested the water expecting to find high ammonia from all my disturbance of the substrate but found none (used a test strip). The other water parameters were usual as well.

After the water change the fish seemed fine while the lights were on. After the lights had been off for a few hours (mid-day siesta) I noticed the fish were all breathing very fast (not normal). I again did a 50% change and everything was ok.

My hypothesis: ammonia is being released from the substrate due to all my messing with it. While the lights are on the plants are using it up quickly (I have lots of plants and run pressure CO2). I decided to leave the lights on overnight (but reduced the lighting from 2x54W T5 w/ indiv. reflectors and 2x65W CF to just the T5 strip). In the morning (and when I checked a few times overnight) the fish were fine.

I would appreciate any input/ideas/theories anyone has as I do not want to repeat this.

Also, I find it strange that only entire species died (especially since the tiger barbs all died and the odessas lived and the SAE's died and the flying foxes didn't). Any ideas?

Thanks for reading,

-Roy
 

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I am really to hear this happened. The only guess I can venture is that maybe there some kind of build up of something in the substrate that most of the fish were ok with but others werent. With all the shrimp dying in could be hydrogen sulfide or an that went anaerobic in the substrate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
jmontee--thanks for your response. I agree--must have been something released from the substrate. Interested to know if the problem was exacerbated when the lights went off or if this was a coincidence?

Any other ideas out there? Would appreciate any insights. . .

-Roy
 

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It could have been the CO2 or a mixture between the CO2 and something else. I'm guessing though that the fish and shrimp that died were more sensitive to the change. Also older fish become more sensitive to change as they get older, so that may account for the tiger barbs deaths.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the input Afyounie--that's what I surmised regarding the Tiger barbs. Kind or surprised about the SAE's though since lost them all and the flying foxes are so similar and were much older.

Any other ideas out there?

Hoping to be able to identify the actual cause (i.e. what chemical was released from the substrate) and how to prevent in the future.
 

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I can't add any other ideas. I'll just remind folks that it's a good idea to go a good gravel vac and major water change (which you seem to have done), when doing a major uprooting/replanting/re-scaping. When I do this, I typically do a 70% water change along with the vac and have never had these problems in the past. (Knock on wood)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I did a 50% water change after replanting but didn't do the vacuuming of the substrate--I will definitely do this next time before starting to replant.

Thanks!

-Roy
 
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