Last Updated: 10/2/23
Fish and Snails
For information about this aquarium before 2021, see my old 65 gallon aquarium page.
Photos are listed from newest to oldest.
I have not processed any photos of the newly setup 65 gallon aquarium as of yet.
See my old 65 gallon aquarium page for photos before 2021.
For photos of the individual fish in the tank, see the pages about that specific species.
On 2/14/20, the pleco that I had since January of 1995 died in my 65 gallon tank. After I tried to rehab some rosy red minnow "feeders" for my pond without much luck that summer, I disinfected the tank, dechlorinated it, and let it sit fallow until 2021. I had big plans to finally go to the top of the mountain for freshwater aquarium keeping. I was going to get discus! But, to start, the tank needed some small fish to help with establishing the biological filter and to be dither fish for the discus.
On 1/27/21, I bought 27 fish of 4 species for the tank which I set back up, mostly with new equipment. I got 12 cardinal tetras, 7 congo tetras, 2 German rams (one golden, one regular), and 6 Sterba's cories. Why so many fish you ask? The only fish store nearby that sells these fish is a long drive, and I get very little time off of work. All the fish were very small.
I had new fluorite substrate topped with new gravel in the tank, two new driftwood pieces that I had boiled, and also got some live plants on 1/27/21 (see above). From day one, despite excellent water quality (I am a water chemist by trade) and seemingly healthy fish (no signs of illness), the fish started dropping like flies, one or two per day. First went the Sterba's cories (one left after a week), then most of the cardinal tetras, then a ram, and I thought the congo tetras were going to all make it but the only one that I know for sure was female died on 2/7/21. She had seemed odd from the start with extra large eyes. In all cases, the dying fish just dropped from the school, sat around for a few hours, and died without any typical signs of fish illness. The tank was so large and new that ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate were still not detectable. The tank has a UV sterilizer and Emperor 400 filter with lots of carbon.
Removed dead fish:
Cories removed – 1 on 1/28/21, 1 on 1/29/21, 2 rotted on 1/30/21 – 1 left, 1 never found
Cardinals removed – 2 on 1/30/21, 2 on 1/31/21, 2 on 2/1/21, 2 on 2/2/21 (one 2/3 eaten in morning, another in afternoon), 2 on 2/3/21 – 2 left
Ram removed – Spammy on 2/6/21
Congo removed – female on 2/7/21 (noted when cut her open that there were no eggs and no worms)
Finally, on 2/6/21, I saw that Rammy, the surviving German blue ram (he/she is a Golden variety so yellow) had white spots! Yes, I can treat ick, and so I did by adding more salt and using Super Ick Cure by API (added 2/6/21 and 2/8/21). I do not think ick killed the others (maybe Spammy who I was not sure if I saw spots on or not, the other ram) because they died so fast and did not show white spots.
If the tank can go a few weeks without deaths, I will get some replacement fish but I will have to quarantine them which means setting up yet another tank that I do not have time to work on! But, it is either that or not adding more fish. It depends on how much time that I have. My job lets me work reduced hours due to Covid-19 but ONLY if I get all the work done, and there are some big projects coming in which will require me to be there 40 hours a week.
On 2/23/21, I bought the following 14 fish. I put them in a 20 gallon quarantine tank. They were all alive when
I moved them to the 65 gallon aquarium on 3/6/21:
I also added the following plants bought on 2/23/21:
I counted the cardinal tetras on 3/13/21. There were only 7 total! This was confirmed the next day. One must have died and been consumed before I ever saw him/her. If I had to guess, I would say it was most likely one of the newer cardinals.
Oh, no! I found one of the cories dead and stuck to the intake of the UV filter on 3/15/21. I think this was probably one of the newer cories.
Double oh no! I found another dead Sterba's cory stuck to the main filter intake on 3/16/21. He/she was anorexic. I tried putting in a bunch of extra sinking shrimp pellets but the congo tetras are big enough that they grab them in their teeth and eat them. I overfeed the tank so I would think the cories would not be starving to death. I love the cories! I have a dozen or so panda cories in my 20 gallon tank that are self-sustaining. I never find dead ones but they also have babies, and the tank is dense with plants. I feel so bad about the Sterba's cories dying. I just do not understand it. Maybe it is too warm for them.
I do not know why they are dying but they keep dying while the other fish are thriving. I lost another cory on 4/7/21. Yet another one was dying on 4/11/21, and then I never saw him/her again! As of 4/13/21, there are only two left out of the 11 I bought. I feel so bad. The other fish are doing great.
I found a dead cardinal tetra stuck to the filter intake on 4/29/21. Why?
I was shocked to find my active ram, Sir Spamalot, deceased on 6/14/21.
The first of the male congo tetras died on 1/16/22. He had signs of popeye but congo tetras also do not have long lives.
In early 2022, my three discus became more and more damaged. It looked like someone was biting and/or sucking on their sides and shredding their fins. I watched them off an on all weekend for weeks but never saw anyone harming them. I decided on 2/19/22 to move the two clown plecos and one ram to my 50 gallon aquarium out of desperation. I did not want to move the clown plecos and Rammy but, if there is a chance they harmed the discus, it was the better choice for the discus at least. The internet says that clown plecos and German rams never harm discus. [Moving those fish did not help the discus, and it resulted in all of them dying because the rosy barbs in the 50 gallon tank bit the plecos to death and gave Rammy fish tuberculosis which they carry (the rosy barbs do not get sick from it, and there is no treatment).]
Despite the drastic move to remove fish, Calpurnia died on 3/10/22, and Brutus died on 4/5/22. I have one discus left and will never get another. The experts were right. I am a chemist specializing in water with 30 years of experience keeping aquariums and ponds, and I have very soft well water but I had no business ever having discus.
Caesar died on 10/31/22. Discus want to kill all discus with them, and then, when there is one, they die of loneliness. After he helped kill the other discus, Caesar just hid all the time except to eat (when I was not looking), and he literally rotted with his scales shedding off even though nobody was bothering him, and he did not have any obvious disease. He just died from being alone and stressed.
As of 11/1/22, the only remaining fish are two congo tetras.
On 4/10/23, I added three angelfish, three honey gouramis, four congo tetras, two bristlenose plecos, and four assassin snails all at once. All were small, and I did not quarantine. Everything went super well.
The three angelfish are nothing like the previous discus. The discus were always hiding, did not want to eat, spent a lot of time attacking each other, and were generally neurotic. The angelfish rarely hide, beg for food, eat like pigs, and only bother each other a little bit. They do have a little fin damage but it is mostly superficial whereas the discus lost a lot of their fins. All the current fish get along well.
Water Test Results:
I used various test kits including one for the pool with a colorimeter for these results. The pH, alkalinity, and hardness results are using the colorimeter. The ammonia test was using an expired liquid test. The nitrite and nitrate results are using a dip stick (not expired). While I have well water, it is very soft.
Tap water test from January 2021, straight from the tap (well water):
pH = 6.6 (due to compressed carbon dioxide)
Alkalinity = 31 mg/L
Hardness = 6 mg/L
65 gallon tank on 1/30/21:
pH = 7.4
Alkalinity = 43 mg/L
Hardness = 55 mg/L
65 gallon tank on 2/6/21:
pH = 7.6
Alkalinity = 55 mg/L
Hardness = 41 mg/L
Ammonia = 0.25 mg/L
Nitrite = hard to read but perhaps 1 mg/L which is hazardous (I did a water change right after the test)
Nitrate = hard to read but maybe 30 mg/L
On 2/22/21, I ran my tank water on the ion chromatograph that I run at work. The results were 0.117 mg/L fluoride, 460.9781 mg/L chloride, 0.0053 mg/L nitrite (reporting limit is 0.1 mg/L so that would be a not detected for a client), 0.1028 mg/L bromide, 18.9549 mg/L sulfate, and 3.7327 mg/L nitrate. I also distilled the water and tested it for ammonia on a discrete analyzer. The ammonia result was negative (way below detection). So, my tank was fully cycled at that point.
On 4/9/21, the water was run on the ion chromatograph again. The results were 0.0701 mg/L fluoride, 252.98486 mg/L chloride, 0.1848 mg/L nitrite, no bromide, 17.3604 mg/L sulfate, and 5.6369 mg/L nitrate. I wanted to see if there was a reason for blue-green algae growing in the tank. The anion results are so-so. I am thinking the phosphate must be high. I will try to test it for that the next time that I have samples.
I ran ammonia on 4/13/21, and the result was below the detection limit (in fact, negative so super low). I ran phosphate on 4/14/21 and got 0.426 mg/L which is not high enough to be considered a problem for algae growth or other issues. So, I do not know what the problem is with the blue-green algae and the dying cories. I use a lot of carbon so it should not be high organics either.
Filter - Emperor 400 with 2 Biowheels (400 gph) - new for 2021
Heaters - two Aqueon Pro heaters (one 150 W, one 300 W) set at 82 degrees F (but only making it to 80 degrees F; I have to make it hot for potential discus; two 150 W heaters were not strong enough with a room temperature about 65 degrees F; after the last discus died, I began lowering the temperature aiming for 78 degrees F for the two surviving congo tetras.
Lid and Lighting - Glass lid with Aqueon Modular LED 36" aquarium light with three removable "bulbs".
Gravel - 30 pounds of natural colored gravel on top of a one inch layer of Flourite (30 pounds) Aeration - Two air bars run by an Airpod (which has battery backup when the power goes off) - bought 4/30/09 and still going strong as of 2021.
Two medium sized pieces of driftwood.
A small resin squirrel with scuba gear.
Two resin fake rock turtle basking things that I put together (one on top of the other) to make a hiding area.
Three thermometers - one is digital but the least accurate! (cannot be too careful!)
I had a 9W UV sterilizer with small pump at first - SunSun Filtration Pump UV (poorly translated English included). After just a few months, the lamp chamber flooded with water so I had to stop using it. I had never even opened the lamp chamber (but did try, and I could not open it).
Added 5/5/21, removed 11/5/22 - 24 W UV - Green Killing Machine. I had one before on this tank, and it just kept clogging with snails but that was before the renovation, and I have different snails than before now (no more black ramshorn snails in this tank, just Malaysian trumpet snails and a very tiny species of ramshorn snail). Of course, these other species could clog the UV as well which is sealed so you cannot clean it out (which was just a brilliant design!). When my old one clogged, I tried to saw it open, and that thing was impenetrable.
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