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excel poisoning

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  • excel poisoning

    I'm concerned about the health of my tank inhabitants. Shrimp and fish deaths, an amano shrimp also turned orange on the inside and is acting drunk. Ammonia/nitrite/nitrate all staying 0, regular water changes, heavily planted.

    I'm thinking it may be caused by the excel. I could tell my shrimp didn't like it so stopped using a week ago and did several water changes since. Could they be getting sick from ingesting algae poisoned by excel? It seems like nasty chemicals I wouldn't want in me...

  • #2
    Re: excel poisoning

    Thanks for your questions. Excel is safe with fish and shrimp when used according to the directions. Excel breaks down after about 24 hours and wouldn't have any affect on the fish or shrimp after that time. Also, consuming algae that was in the tank when it was treated with Excel wouldn't cause any harm. There is some danger if it is heavily overdosed, but any issues would start at the time when the dose goes in the tank, not later. For these reasons, at first glance I'm inclined to think it wasn't the Excel causing issues in your tank, but I'm happy to help troubleshoot further to see if we can figure out what has happened.

    What size tank do you have? How much Excel did you dose? When did you begin dosing and when did you stop dosing?

    When did the issues begin? How long has this tank been set up?

    What is the pH of the water? What is the KH? Do you dose CO2?

    Are you dosing anything else?

    Answers to these questions will give us a better picture of your tank and what is happening so we can try to figure out exactly what might be causing the deaths.


    • #3
      Re: excel poisoning

      Thanks for the reply. I agree it's most likely unrelated.. but I'm quite frustrated with this, being unable to keep a hardy fish so easy a 4 year old can manage, so help troubleshooting would be appreciated...

      It's a 10 gallon tank. I was standard dosing excel (around 1 ml a day). It was originally set up 8/20/13. After a month of using bacteria in a bottle products and Dr. Tim's Ammonia for the cycle, I added danios. They all wound up dying from apparent ammonia or nitrite poisoning. The tests made it seem cycled but after fish were added, it refused to convert. Very frustrated I switched to planted, keeping the bio filter material. The tank was converted to a planted tank 10/16/13. First guppy added 10/27/13. It's been 0 ammonia/0 nitrite/0 nitrate since, I'm keeping the bioload low with a lot of plants because I don't want the same mistake. I had 2 ghost shrimp added before that, the 1 is the happiest thing in the tank, the other died.

      The first Amano shrimp was added 10/28/13, same day I started Excel. He started acting sick 11/3/13. He's still alive but not active and a very ugly shade of orange/brown. I figured he may have been poisoned from any/all of the attempts to kill algae- excel, spot H2O2, and high CO2 (or pH swings related to CO2).. so I stopped all of them. Last dose of Excel was around 11/7/13.

      Second guppy added 10/31/13. He began getting very sick 11/13/13, progressing to looking almost dead (laying belly up in grass only moving gills) 11/15/13. I moved him to a "hospital bucket" with regular aquarium salt and he perked up. I put him back in the tank and he made a complete recovery. This was after lowering the CO2 (next to nothing, minimal pH swings) and adding the Seachem Brackish salt to the main tank yesterday (1 tablespoon over a few hours). The gH/kH WAS around 7, but today when I checked the gH is 21 and kH 13. The tank inhabitants have all made a sharp decline since adding, 1 guppy died (not acting sick before) and the others are obviously stressed. Since I thought things were figured out, 2 days ago I added 4 more amano shrimp to naturally get rid of the huge algae outbreak. Today, they're all orange and acting like the first, not active and making uncoordinated movements. I have to assume the fish are sick from the live bearer salt, probably added it too fast. I'm not convinced it's what hurt the shrimp, since the original amano had the same issue without salt.. so I'm doing water changes to lower the hardness.

      As far as dosing.. I add prime during water changes and am doing minimal dosing of Floruish comprehensive only- 1 ml every 3 days.


      • #4
        Re: excel poisoning

        Poor fish! It sounds as though your tank is not cycled. What are you using for testing?

        It would be useful to see your full daily test results over the period of this happening please.


        • #5
          Re: excel poisoning

          Thanks for the reply,
          Yesterday the tests revealed ammonia 0.25 nitrite 0 nitrate 5. So you're right it was most likely the ammonia poisoning (compounded by high gh and ph). So my mystery is pretty much figured out. Now for the question of where it's coming from. I'm suspecting large algae die off.. when I scrub it off of rocks and the glass, it makes the water very cloudy and you can see a lot of debris suspended. Then it settles in the substrate...

          Sorry for doubting your products Seachem ;)


          • #6
            Re: excel poisoning

            No worries, tweakz20.

            I noticed a couple of things looking at the description of what happened in your tank.

            It is unusual that after doing a fishless cycle that the biofilter wouldn't be able to handle the waste from the danios. I'm sure that was frustrating. When you are adding fish to a new tank, you can use Prime to detoxify ammonia and nitrites. Prime will keep them detoxified for about 48 hours and can be re-dosed as needed. When I start a new tank, I like to use an Ammonia Alert ( because it lets me instantly know when free ammonia starts to rise and I can add Prime to keep everything safe.

            It sounded like you were using several different methods to try and kill your algae. Hydrogen peroxide can sometimes be used safely, but too much can kill. When spot dosing, it is easy to add more than you planned. If over-dosed, there can also be issues with Excel. High CO2 can also harm the tank inhabitants.

            That said, ammonia and nitrite would be my main concern in any newish tank. Your description of the almost dead guppy reviving after putting it into the bucket with aquarium salt would indicate nitrite poisoning. The chloride ion from the salt can prevent nitrite from passing through the gills into the blood and poisoning the fish. Normally, I'd say that Brackish Salt is a better choice for a planted tank than regular aquarium salt because it is low in sodium chloride (which can negatively affect many plants), but for treating/preventing nitrite poisoning it wouldn't provide enough chloride ions to effectively counteract the nitrite.

            I'm unsure why the GH/KH would have gone so high. One tablespoon of Brackish Salt in 10 gallons of water should only raise the GH by about 5.5 dGH (~2 meq/L) and it shouldn't affect the KH. If your pH dropped, it is possible that the increased acidity of the water could cause rocks or certain substates to partially dissolve, releasing more mineral content into the water.

            For now, I'd dose Prime every 48 hours until there is no ammonia or nitrite, and I'd hold off on dosing Flourish or Excel until the tank is cycled. I hope this helps.