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Dead Clown Loach - Ideas? *PIC*

Posted By: Darryl <dvanvugt@tpg.com.au>
Date: Wednesday, 15 June 2005, at 6:21 p.m.

A long one, but ideas welcome please.

This morning I lost a clown loach. It was dead on the bottom of the tank. Last night it was laconically swimming, but only if prodded. For a day prior to this, it was swimming perpendicular to the waters surface, gasping for air.

The sequence of event leading up to the death were as follows.

Being unlucky (or lazy) enough to have gotten a black algae problem, I was focussed on resloving this. About a week earlier, I'd removed the artificial plants and rocks and driftwood affected by the algae and scrubbed them clean before replacing them in the tank. I removed the filter wool and charcoal and rinsed them clean in tap water (rather than tank water which would have been full of algae spores) I didn't clean the ceramic noodles or vacuum the gravel, as I didn't want to wipe out all the bacteria in the tank. I did a 30% water change.

I began to feed the fish less frequently and dropped the light down from 8 hours a day to 4 hours a day.

I began a regime of 20% daily water changes, using chlorine neutralising agents and a stress slime coat treatment to try to minimise effects of stress on the fish.

Yesterday, as I've said, the loach (the biggest and dominant one) started displaying signs of illness. The black algae was regrowing, but at nowhere near the rate it was earlier. By now, I was feeding the fish less frequently, again with the aim of decreasing the waste load in the tank.

I deep vacuumed half of the gravel, to remove as much waste as possible, with the idea of deep vacuuming the rest in a weeks time.

Also resident in the tank are 3 x 6" angels, 1 x Pearl Gourami, 3 other clown loaches, 2 x albino catfish, 3 x neon tetras (read "angelfish food") and a couple of small flying foxes I introduced a week ago to help with the algae problem.

The tank is 200 litres capacity.

So, I have a couple of theories and I'd like advice on them, plus others if possible.

1. I cleared out too much bacteria at once and caused an ammonia or nitrite spike. However, ammonia tests at zero today. I haven't tested for nitrites because the kit is empty. I shall be buying a new one and testing tomorrow.

2. The introduced flying foxes were diseased and affected the loach. None of the other loaches appear unwell however.

3. Black algae robbed the tank of too much oxygen, however again, none of the other fish appear affected.

I've attached 2 photos of the dead loach. I hope they are good quality. From what I can see (apart from disolouration due to being dead) there are no indicators to the reason for the death. The gills are not inflamed (suggesting it's not ammonia / nitrite poisoning), the eyes are clear, there are no vsible parasites, the slime coat is intact and the skin isn't marked or noticeably discoloured. There are some dark patches on the loach (not the round black marking on its abdomen - it's always had that) and I'm not sure if this is indicative of the cause of death. There is some tail loss. I'm not sure if this occured after death or not.

I'll be keeping a close eye on the other loaches over the coming days to see whether more get unwell and keep with my 20% water changes daily for a while yet.

If anyone has ideas I'd welcome them. It's the first fish I've lost (other than the tetra-angel-food casualties) and 1 stressed Gourami (over 12 months ago), in the 14 months this tank has been established.

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