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Things not to do

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
Yesterday I noticed fish acting strangely in a tank that's been unchanged (other than partial water changes) for at least a month. Nothing new added, nothing taken out, not much fiddling in the tank other than to steal a few snails for a puffer on occasion. Upon looking a little closer I saw what looked like Velvet. As I often do when things seem off or I suspect illness, I did a water change and used Prime. Not long after I dosed the tank with the standard treatment for Velvet... Cupramine.

Some of you who know your chemistry know exactly what I did, some of you who don't are probably going "seems like a sensible approach." I'm not very good at chemistry, and had forgotten a key bit of knowledge that I knew but didn't think of at 9pm with two kids refusing to go to bed, a tank that had gone from looking stellar to godawful in about 24 hours (I check this tank daily with a flashlight because I have a pair of plecos in there that are about due to spawn).

You see, when you mix Cupramine and Prime (or Stress Guard, or other reducing agents), it turns into a much less stable and more toxic form of copper.

It got me thinking about medications and whether it would help to have a sticky in this section that lists what medications get used for various ailments, which can be mixed, and which should never be mixed with other meds and/or common tank additives.
 

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
So, within 24 hours everything in this tank was dead. I no longer suspect that this was velvet and I'm not sure how much my error would've contributed to this. Fish looked almost shaggy and clearly had a secondary bacterial infection when I woke up in the morning. The plecos were noticeably covered in what looked like small grey blobs. Slime coat production was elevated in all of the fish. The tetras were not as obviously covered, but, for lack of a better description, their gills were seeping boogers (think the way a toddler's nose runs when it's thrown a tantrum).

By midnight, the last of the fish had died (an adult male pleco) when I lifted it out of the tank with tongs, I found that it was basically oozing slime (probably slime coat). I had to put it in a dust pan because there was so much I couldn't cleanly carry it out to the garden.

I doubt my unintentional chemistry experiment helped this situation, but whatever this was, it wasn't something I've experienced before. I've had velvet come through, I've had ich come through, I've never had either set in or kill this rapidly or universally. Were someone else telling me this story, I admit, I'd probably be thinking "the fish weren't fine on Tuesday, you just didn't notice." I inspect this tank with a flashlight daily, multiple times a day, checking spawning mops and caves. The tank wasn't neglected, overpopulated, or forgotten (you can ask my shrimp tanks about that).
 

jonclark96

Past CCA President
Staff member
Sorry about the tank crashing. I don't have any advice on what could have been the issue, but it sucks when something weird happens.
 

Goonie

CCA Members
Could it have been slime disease? The booger gills makes me think of that, I have never had to deal with it but I have seen it once.
 

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
Could it have been slime disease? The booger gills makes me think of that, I have never had to deal with it but I have seen it once.
Yeah, I mean, it's occurred to me, but part of the issue is "what is slime disease?" The slime is really an immune response to something irritating the skin, so any number of things can cause it. There are a lot of different infections that can look slimy. At any other time I'd have invited myself, and a sacrificial fish, to the house of a club member with a decent microscope and the skills to use it.
 

Tangcollector

Chairpersons
Staff member
That is a terrible story. To go from fine to terrible so quickly is really scary. If it could happen to you it could happen to anyone.
 

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
That is a terrible story. To go from fine to terrible so quickly is really scary. If it could happen to you it could happen to anyone.
I mean, not everyone would forget not to mix cupramine and prime. That could very well be what killed them so fast, but it wasn't how they got covered in goo so fast.
 

FishEggs

CCA Members
Staff member
I mean, not everyone would forget not to mix cupramine and prime. That could very well be what killed them so fast, but it wasn't how they got covered in goo so fast.
One way to know for sure is to do it again on another tank and see if it kicks their slime coat production into overdrive. Of course that wouldn't be nice and I'm not advocating that you do that and I'm sure you wouldnt.
 

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
One way to know for sure is to do it again on another tank and see if it kicks their slime coat production into overdrive. Of course that wouldn't be nice and I'm not advocating that you do that and I'm sure you wouldnt.
Oh, slime coat production was through the roof before I did that.
 
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