Did Tetra Pond Crystal Water kill my fish?

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Dolphin10, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. Dolphin10

    Dolphin10

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    Hi all. I have a pond which had been completely neglected since it was installed by the previous owners of the house. It is 12 ft x 10 ft by about 2.5 ft at its deepest point and has a black flexible pond liner. I never believed there were any fish in it until we saw one recently very briefly between all the weeds and brambles overgrowing the pond. I decided to clear it out and try to restore it. I should add that I have another pond in the garden (12ft x 6 and about 18 in deep with about 15 fish in it averaging about 5-6 inches.

    Having cleared out the overgrown pond, I added a 1500 lph solar pump and some more oxygenating plants (hornwort, parrots feather canadian pond weed etc) I decided to add some fish having checked the basic water parameters. I used an NT labs kit to check Ammonia, nitrite and pH. pH is about 7.8, Ammonia is 0.05 ppm and nitrite is about 0.1.

    I added the fish about 4-6 weeks ago and they seemed to do very well. A couple of them grew very quickly. I got up to about 12 fish in the pond and was really starting to enjoy it but the one area which was bugging me was the clarity of the water which was a bit cloudy. Having looked at it though a glass, i saw the water had sediment suspended in it, so I decided to treat the water with TetraPond Crystal Water. I followed the dosage recommendations but was horrified to see the fish seemingly gasping for air at the surface about two hours after the product had been added.

    I managed to transfer some fish to the other pond a couple of which survived. The rest (10 fish) have died. They were Blue and Golden Orfes, small Koi, Ghost Koi and Shubunkin between 4 and 10 inches.

    I went on the internet to research the process by which the tetrapond product works. It's called flocculation, but the product claims to be completely safe for fish and plants. It seems to me that the process used up the oxygen in the water which killed the fish. I have tried to contact Tetra but they have failed to reply despite a promise to reply within 24 hours. That was a week ago. With hindsight I think their product imformation has insufficient detail about the risks associated with it's use, for example maybe I should have used it at a time of the day when there was more oxygen in the water. Has anyone heard of anything similar? What did I do wrong?

    Grateful for any help. I'm now nervous to buy any more fish until I fully understand what went wrong.
     
    Dolphin10, Sep 7, 2012
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  2. Dolphin10

    sissy sissy

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    I never add anything like that I put quilt batting in a plastic basket and keep cleaning it .I am not a fan of those solar pumps they do not work well at all and end up going off a couple of hours in the evening and thats when plants use up lots of oxygen and the fish suffer from the loss of oxygen and die .
     
    sissy, Sep 7, 2012
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  3. Dolphin10

    fishin4cars True friends just call me Larkin Moderator

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    Have you checked the water since this happened? First thing would be check them and have the readings down in case tetra asks, to call them, Second continue trying to call them seems there was a reaction of some type. Have you done any water changes, before or after this treatment? Would be good to know the readings before and after if you do. Was this a new purchased product or one that had been sitting around for a while. If that is the case are you 100% sure that the product is what it says it is in the bottle? I would also be curious what the Nitrate reading GH, KH readings are.
     
    fishin4cars, Sep 8, 2012
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  4. Dolphin10

    Waterbug

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    That nitrite level is in the deadly range.

    What was the KH and GH levels in the pond? Just asking for info, not judging.

    What lead you to this conclusion? Just asking for info, not judging.

    Hear it all the time. After something like this happens people often come to a pond forum to start researching products.

    - Research first, then treat.

    - Don't add anything to your pond you don't understand what it is and how it can interact will other things.

    - Find and read the MSDS for a product. Can't find the MSDS...don't use the product.

    - Find the active ingredient and research that. You will find much more info. Can't find out the active ingredient...don't use the product.

    Virtually all these products use standard chemicals. The seller just buys the chemical and puts it in a pretty bottle, makes some great claims and sit back. They don't "invent" stuff, or test stuff, or really care that much what the products do. They care about marketing, like Tetra figured out "Water Clarifier" sells better than "AquaRem" so they changed the name. But it is also very common for sellers to change product names often so any search for the "new" doesn't show any problems with the "old" product.

    Sellers know full well they're going to sell 95% of these type products to people with little or no experience with ponds. It's a one time sale so it's not important if the product works or not. So they bury the "use as directed" details pretty deep. For example, when using a flocculant most people pour it in and walk away. Some read the as far as "it clumps algae together so it sinks to the bottom". But the clumps actually have to be removed with a net, vacuum or filter. The clumps break down pretty fast and the on the algae decays breaking down into small bits that makes water cloudy later and also the now clear pond is ready for more algae to grow. So to keep a pond clear can result in having to use a flocculant every week or two. That's good for business.

    It's never possible to know for certain a specific cause. Many times I think it's a combination of factors.

    If I had to guess...flocculants bind to many tiny things including carbonates which keep pH stable. Since you didn't mention KH or GH levels in your original tests and didn't mention checking those levels during application, it's possible carbonates were locked up and pH crashed.

    Of the flocculants I know about none would consume O2.
     
    Waterbug, Sep 8, 2012
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  5. Dolphin10

    Dolphin10

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    Waterbug,
    Thank you for your very comprehensive reply. The product was brand new with an expiry date of Jan 15. I did test the water before and after the application. The figures were as I posted. The nitirite figure - I'm interpolating on what seems to be a fairly crude colour chart then if 0.1 is dangerous, but is the same as my other pond - I've had no fish losses in there at all. It could be 0, it could be 0.2. it is clear to all intents and purposes. I've ordered another test kit since the incident to try to check more accurately - another lesson learned. I will also check the O2 content.

    You're right about little or no experience - I guess you could call it a hard lesson learned. I think when a product advertises itself as "completely nature friendly and improving water quality for fish and plants" I 've believed it to the letter. To be fair the product does warn of use in soft water but i'm sure the water was hard enough. My issue with Tetra is that I believe they should be more explicit in their description and instructions; there is nothing on the bottle about the main active ingredient and nothing about re-application or its possible effects. I did find something in the aftermath deep on their web site about not beinfg safe for sturgeon (!?) Other manufacturers of similar products advise usage at times of the day due to O2 levels. I did have a reply from Tetra USA last night - they just said I needed to contact Tetra Europe, so I'' let you know what they say.

    So, I don't think it was a pH crash. PH has not changed (if the test is accurate) If you don't suspect O2 deficiency then I guess the fish gasping at the surface says something affected their gill function. I'll get back to you with the KH and GH figures. It is soft water but I was pretty sure it was above the lower limit of 2 deg KH stipulated on the bottle.

    It's just frustration. Whilst I accept the responsibility for losing the fish (I put the stuff in there), I still need to know why it resulted the way it did. I loved my little pond and the fish - slightly cloudy or not. I will resotke and I'll be a better fish keeper for the experience. I have to say that the product has done what it said it would do and cleared the water beautifully. Just didn't expect to have to restock the pond as a result and I absolutely agree that research first means no heartache afterwards - just don't expect to if you go to a reputable company which is the reason I bought Tetra in the first place. Back to barley straw and peat and the right balance of plants to keep the water good. Thank you again for your time Waterbug.
     
    Dolphin10, Sep 8, 2012
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  6. Dolphin10

    Waterbug

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    Many people goes thru the learning process...I sure did.

    You're suppose to believe it...sellers, of all products, go to great lengths to convince you. It's the way of the world. Tetra isn't doing anything every other seller does. The really sad part is customers force sellers into this. If Tetra explained stuff people would buy the competitor's product. People demand easy over effective.

    I don't understand the O2 thing, but assume there is something serious behind it. The only thing I've learned about flocculants is via waste treatment documents. I assume O2 isn't an issue for them so didn't write about it. I've never read any good source about using flocculants in ponds. Just isn't that common beyond first timers.

    But I'll say this...whenever a product gives any warning at all, like even "when used as directed", I get real suspicious. When they say anything like "proper aeration" I get extremely suspicious. Those are just the "we're covering our butts" phrases. If I can't find out why these phrases are being used I sure wouldn't use the product.

    pH crashes are detected by measuring KH, not pH. It can be detected with a pH test, but it can also be missed. KH tells you.

    I only guessed at pH crash because that's the one part of flocculant use I happen to understand. I don't understand the O2 risks, so can't guess that.

    continued in next post
     
    Waterbug, Sep 8, 2012
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  7. Dolphin10

    Waterbug

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    Can be many things including effects on blood from high nitrite levels. But yeah, if these products are warning about aeration then O2 can go to the top of the list. Could be a combination, high nitrites and lower O2 or something else. I have to assume your very high nitrite is true until shown otherwise. That fish in another pond with high nitrite are still alive proves only you're lucky, not that nitirte doesn't kill fish. Unless maybe if you're using salt.

    Pretty sure? When using flocculants the KH level has to be measured before, during and after and adjusted as needed. I'll bet Tetra says something like that some place...but then I don't even know what kind of flocculant they're selling, so who knows.

    I'd also be very interested in what you find out and how you find it out. It absolutely fascinates me how these products are packaged, sold and details hidden.

    That's the spirit. You now know more than many pond keepers.

    Wait a couple weeks. Ponds go thru cycles, it's complex and not well understood, but in general flocculants are not considered a long term fix.

    That it worked so good actually has me concerned. Normally these don't work very well because proper flocculant use is complex. That your pond cleared in one dose makes me wonder if you applied way too much. I wasn't there, don't know, just saying. If you can't find out how long it takes for this flocculant to break down I would empty and clean the pond before adding more fish. Unless you want to use some "test" fish. Flocculants I know break down very fast, like a few hours. I don't know what flocculant this product is using.

    Reputable company? Tetra is a reputable company imo. But "reputable company" is an oxymoron imo. Philip Morris is a reputable company. First and foremost a company's job is to make money, it is their only reason for existing. If appearing reputable enables them to make more money they do what they need to do to appear reputable. Reputation can be managed. There are now companies who are hired just to write phony reviews, bogs, forum posts, etc. It's a pretty big business.

    Barley straw? Shoot me, shoot me now.
     
    Waterbug, Sep 8, 2012
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  8. Dolphin10

    Dolphin10

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    Waterbug,
    Thank you. I tested the water again with a different kit. The nitrites and nitrates are 0 and the ammonia is acceptable at 0.1 but alkalinity (kH) and general hardness have dropped through the floor.

    I have seen a fairly massive KH and GH crash. They are now gh - 1 and kh - 1. Given all other parameters are identical to the other pond, then they were gh 6 and kh 5 before the water clarifier was added. - low admittedly and the water butt water I use for top ups is very soft too so everytime I top up from the rain butts I am in effect lowering the hardness.

    Given I've still got half a bottle of the stuff left - I didn't overdose.

    So I know the issue now. The kit I used before to test the water was maybe old and not very comprehensive. The water hardness was low but lowered considerably on adding the product. I will need to raise the water hardness and get it stabilised, and think about how I top up before I restock the pond with fish. Like you said - a tough learning experience but it won't happen again.

    KD
     
    Dolphin10, Sep 8, 2012
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  9. Dolphin10

    Waterbug

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    Glad the nitrites are no longer a problem, if they ever were.

    Ammonia is acceptable as 0.1 ppm? I and some others would disagree. Having such a high ammonia level and zero nitrite does not mesh. First you had low ammonia and high nitrite and now it's high ammonia and no nitrite...if I'm following correctly. There's something not good in this department. IMO ammonia and nitrite should be carefully checked often when the new fish are added, and you should research the subject. It's the corner stone of keeping fish alive.

    Some flocculants do produce or use ammonia. Don't know about this one. But the high nitrite was before the flocculant. I'm not so fast to blame bad numbers on the test kit, especially when ammonia is now supporting a nitrite problem. But possible.

    I think you're missing part of the puzzle...it's not enough to just test...you have to understand why you're testing, what the numbers mean, and what the reasonable choices are to adjust and the effects those adjustments have on other things. Several times now you've reported alarming numbers but aren't concerned. That's a concern going forward. Otherwise it really is best for you and your fish to put away the test kit and not test at all. The most dangerous place to be is testing and adjusting without a reasonable understanding. Lots and lots of posts from people in the same boat.

    Pretty good clue to the cause. There are flocculants like TetraAqua Water Clarifier sold for aquariums which apparently don't remove KH. Not sure if that claim is true, would have to be checked out.

    More than maybe you think. The pH of rain is in the 2.0 - 5.3 range. Roof runoff can increase that, but replacing pond water with an acid like rain not only dilutes KH it reduces KH.

    Sorry to point out the obvious...your fish disagree. I don't have the bottle and Tetra doesn't post the manual. If the bottle only said add X amount for X gal sized pond I can see your perspective, Tetra killed your fish. There's no "see manual for more info" or any warnings about KH, hardness, O2 at all on the bottle?

    Normally when experienced people add chemicals they will say things like "I added 250 ml to my 2244 gal pond". Others say things like "I've still got half a bottle" and they rarely know their pond size. Not saying which group you were in, just saying that's what I'm reading which is all I have to go on. I'm not Tetra or even on their side and we're not in court here. I'm pushing you because the more honest you are with yourself the more you will learn. Given how expensive this lesson was I'd get all the learning I could out of it. Let's call it a learning opportunity.

    I've always found the tough learning experiences to be the best learning experiences. Learning the hard way is better than not learning at all.
     
    Waterbug, Sep 8, 2012
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