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A Tragedy

Posted By: Martin Thoene <gkadar@sympatico.ca>
Date: Monday, 15 November 2004, at 5:32 a.m.

How's this for weird?

Yesterday, I did water changes. The first tank that got done was the River-Tank. Not long after finishing the last tank, I noticed that the Barbs in the R/T were acting weird. They were sort of hugging the bottom, slightly nose down and one was hanging near the surface. Now every time i do water changes all the fish in the tank seem to modify their behaviour for a while. The Hillstreams tend to not move around much, but this barb behaviour was weird, plus one of the Punyius mahecola was nowhere to be seen. I took the opportunity to photograph these beautiful, but very fast fish because they weren't zipping around like normal. They looked fine, just behaving strangely. All of a sudden , one starts "tumble". That's the only way I can describe it. End over end, or floating upside down around the tank. It was breathing maybe slightly faster than normal. Then it's colour started to fade. Then another started to do the same. At this point, my alarm bells went off.
I checked the pH. It was 8.0, which is quite high, but fairly normal for our water. Ammonia and Nitrite were nil.

THEN...I saw the bug. Laying on the one sheet of glass over this tank, positioned to act as a spray sheild for the lights was this brown ugly bug. I thought it was dead, but then it started to move. I didn't want to pick it up directly, so wrapped it in kitchen paper. For some reason, I wondered if this bug might have sprayed something in the water. A while back one of our cats got sprayed by a bug and was highly put out by the effects. This thing smelt really strongly...a weird sort of sweet smell. I bet it flew into the light hood, hit the hot tubes, panicked and sprayed.

I let Momfish smell it, then threw the thing off our balcony. The barbs were all getting worse, so I decided that the quickest solution was to get them out of the water. I netted two of them and put them straight into another tank. They died almost immedeatly, going into nervous spasms and then just stopping breathing. I decideed that another massive water-change was the only solution.

After doing a 70% change (this followed the original 50% change), the lone Puntius mahecola seemed to be doing OK. The last remaining Barbus arulius died, so I decided to hunt out the probable corpse of the magnificent P. mahecola male that had disappeared. After hunting though every nook and cranny I could reach in this very rocky and tightly planted tank, I could not find it. I played a hunch and searched behind the tank, finding the dried out fish dead. It seems that the bug juice made the water so bad, that the fish just jumped out of it.

This morning, from what I can see with the lights out, the Hillstreams seem fine. The Leptobotias were seemingly OK last night as well. It seems that the barbs were particularly sensitive to this bug's spray. Must be pretty potent stuff. It seemed to attack the central nervous system. Our tapwater pH is generally around 7.6, so I'm wondering if 8.0 was a result of the bug or just coincidence.

I feel really fed up that something like this happens. In 40 years + of fishkeeping I've never seen anything like it. At least the loaches are OK.


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