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***purigen Warning***


awrieger

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Failure to clean it properly will cost you your fish.

I've been using these Purigen satchels for a while and it came time to finally regenerate them for re-use a couple of weeks ago. So I followed the instructions to the letter: soak in bleach for 12 hours followed by 8 hours soak in dechlorinator.

Well maybe the bleach I used was extra-strength or something other than what they were describing, because after 12 hours of soaking they went pure white an nice and clean, but they smelled like a community swimming pool - pure chlorine. I must have used up two bottles of Prime trying to get rid of the chlorine in them (Prime is expensive, but Purigen is even more so to replace!), but finally it seemed to me that any chlorine smell was just a figment of my paranoia, so I put a satchel in the filter on my male tank (Bumpy, Big Red and Kennedy).

Well... it was fine. I watched like a hawk for a few days, and nothing happened. The water got crystal clear again so the Purigen was doing it's job and the fish seemed fine.

Then about two weeks later, one by one the fish took ill. Big Red developed a fish pox type lump or two, so I start treating for bacteria... then Kennedy the Ryukin starts going dizzy, then flips over... then Bumpy develops purple gills.. so I'm thinking Kennedy's flipping and Bumpy's gills problem is being caused by the same bugs as Big Red's lumps, so I'm adding antibiotics, parasite killer...

I suspected for a few days it might be the chlorine in the Purigen, but none of the fish's symptoms were chlorine toxicity. Cut a long story short, I was doing daily water changes so nitrates were reading very low anyway. I tested for ammonia which was zero. But it never occurred to me to test the nitrites because the other two were low anyway and the tank had been cycled for months..

While all this was happening, I put another of the cleaned Purigen satchels in the main female tank's filter. Two days ago, Baby Surpise the ranchu started flipping, and then Frostbite my large ryukin started showing 'dizziness' like Kennedy did before he flipped.

Oh no! What's happening! This is a disaster! Water changes for that tank too! What's going wrong? Why two tanks now???

So yesterday I decided that out of all the different symptoms the fish were showing, I went with Bumpy's gills being most obvious - it had to be nitrite poisoning, which I never thought possible with the tanks so well cycled, thinking all along it was some bacteria. But a quick test showed the nitrites well over 1ppm in both tanks! And god knows how long they were exposed to these levels.

So the 'regenerated' Purigen must have taken a week or two to slowly kill off all the nitrifying bacteria in the filters. But I was watching for chlorine effects on the fish, not the filter bacteria!! So then after that, all the while I was thinking the Purigen was actually helping by keeping the water clear!

The upshot of it all is:

Male tank (where they were exposed for longer);

Big Red - coming good but lost a few scales where the lumps were. He's my old-time survivor.

Bumpy - coming good again slowly, gills returning to normal. Still acting feeble.

Kennedy - I suspect he's doomed as he's been flipped for too long now for any chance of recovery...

Female tank (where I caught it earlier);

Lizzie the lionhead - not affected at all. Like Big Red, another of my hardy old-time survivors.

BabySurprise - touch and go. Still flipping over occassionally but seems to be coming good though.

Frostbite - touch and go as well. Extremely distressing seeing such a large Ryukin leaning on her side.

It could have been much worse, but still, this month has not been a good month for me at all, after everything seemed to going so well all year. So please learn from my experience with cleaning Purigen so the same thing doesn't happen to you!

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  • Regular Member

wow, just reading from that it must have been very hard :(

i just glad you managed to fix your tank up and your goldfish are going back to normal now :)

still reading it is giving me goosbumps :scared

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Yikes !!!! What a shocker! Just as well you figured it out in time.

edit: one thing I don't quite understand. If the nitrifying bacteria was being slowly killed off how come the ammonia wasn't rising? It would be like cycling a tank, no nitrifying bacteria so the ammonia climbs.

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Thanks Marco, but they're far from out of the woods yet. Kennedy especially is in a bad way. If you want confirmation that prolonged exposure to high nitrites causes ryukins to flip, he's it. :(

Annette, that's what was making me think all along that there was nothing wrong with it, even while watching Bumpy's gills going dark purple! The ammonia reading was zero. It still is actually, so those bugs must still be okay, turning ammonia into nitrite. So I guess it's the denitriting bacteria (turns nitrite into nitrate) which are the ones most affected by bleach/chlorine, which explains why the nitrates were reading low which I thought was due to all my fresh water changes.

So I was looking up sulphide poisoning and gill disease and god knows what else their symptoms could mean, thinking all along my water was fine, when all I should have done is test for NO3 right at the start! (I even read your post about fixing your fish's bleeding gills with trisulphur and tried that too!).

In a way though, it helped that it started happening in my girls' tank too, because otherwise I would never have worked out that it was the Purigen. I would have just assumed the boy's dead filter was caused by all the antibiotics and meds I used on them and I'd still be none the wiser.

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I get it now. Isn't it awful when we try to do what's right and in fact we're doing the opposite?

Hindsight is a two headed monster, it's good to learn from our mistakes but ... when I think back to some of the things I've done with the best intention and, I thought, the best information/research ... it makes me want to hide in a hole.

I hope that all your fish recover quickly and at least we have all learnt something valuable here. This is the type of incident that most people wouldn't recognise and it would fall into the category of "unexplained deaths".

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Wow awrieger! I'm so sorry....I hope all those beautiful fish of yours pull through just fine!! I'm glad you figured it out when you did. Keeping my fingers crossed for you....please let us know how they are doing. :(

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What a terrible thing to happen. I am not familar with this product you were using and what it is for. Please add this info, for us "innocents". Thanks.

I do hope the fish recover, you have been doing some wonderful things with those fish.

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Annette, that's how I've been consoling myself. Chalk it up to experience to make sure it won't ever happen again. But it always seems to be something different every time so that doesn't help at all!

And from now on, I'm testing every water parameter before even thinking about doing anything else!

Thanks Ginger and Laurie. PURIGEN is a synthetic absorbent product made by Seachem. It's an artificial chemical filter medium which works like rechargable activated charcoal (so you can re-use it over and over, which is what I tried doing), which keeps your water crystal clear. An advantage over charcoal is that it doesn't leech anything back into the water once it's expired its capacity.

It's very small granules so you need a fine mesh bag, but you can buy it in handy little pre-sealed satchels (shown on the right on that page I linked to), which is what I use. And it works great. Purigen will get rid of yellow tinges to your water, etc in no time at all and keep it crystal clear.

You just have to make sure you clean/recharge it properly....

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I lost Frostbite a few hours ago. I can't find an emoticon I can use here to describe how I'm feeling right now.

I totally blame myself for this whole stupid episode. So stupid, stupid, stupid! Why am I such a bad fish owner? She wasn't even supposed to be in that tank in the first place. I only swapped her out with Sox two weeks ago because Lizzie was pecking Sox's wen. She was so happy and healthy just a week or two ago in the tank behind me... where she'd still be alive, but now she's dead and I killed her..

I'm so upset. I feel like I just don't know how to look after fish properly. Frostbite was such a big beautiful fish. I totally blame myself for this. Bad owner. I should give keeping goldlfish away.

Goodbye beautiful Frosty. I feel so bad right now. :(

frostbite050420_01.jpg

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Guest Esareh

Its not your fault. Dont blame yourself and dont give up! think, if koko gave up everytrime something bad happened, i'd still have 4 goldies in a 10 gallon tank (everyone on here is so helpfull)

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I know exactly how you feel. Our beautiful Newcap had tripled his size in the 7mths we had him. He died after developing red streaks which I took to be septicimia. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but I'm sure several things I did when he was in the hospital tank weakened him to the point where he did succumb to infection. In hindsight I should have left him alone.

That was in December and I still feel miserable when I think of him.

I'm sure we are not the only ones who have made mistakes. I can't really say anything except I know how you feel and I'm terribly sorry you lost Frostbite, she was a beautiful, special fish.

If there was anything I learnt from my episode is K-I-S-S. Keep it simple, stupid. Now my motto is minimal intervention.

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So sorry about your fish! Don't blame yourself... I know it's hard not to...when my fish get sick, there is nothing more that I want than to be able to figure out what's wrong and make them better...unfortunately, I'm not a vet and can't always find the answers. It hurts to lose our fishy friends but we have to know that we try our best!

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  • Regular Member

Don't be so hard on yourself. This was not a deliberate error. It was a mistake, you thought you were doing the right thing. It's hard to know sometimes. We learn by these mistakes. I know that doesn't help the way you feel about your beautiful fish.

So sorry this happend. Frostbite really was a stunning fish. :tou

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Thanks guys.

My heart just drops every time I look over and don't see her any more. I guess I've got the nursing of the other five fish and recycling their tanks to keep my mind off it. Kennedy the ryukin is the worst off on his side, Bumpy is second worse but his gills seem to be recovering, and the other three look like they're going to be okay. The three scales Big Red lost are growing back white though, so he's going to have some visible battle scars.

Thanks again everyone. It really means a lot to me.

PS. Annette, I'm going back to basics as well. The less things that can go wrong, the better!

PPS. The two ryukins clearly suffered the worst. So I guess nitrite levels have more effect on them than the other types of goldies.

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You certainly have your hands full atm. Interesting point about the 2 ryukins, were they related that you are aware of? It's just that I have 2 telescopes bought fromt the same tank in the same shop, they both have floaty problems, they look like siblings so I'm guessing it's genetic.

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Possibly. Not directly though, maybe distantly. Kennedy's 'hump' is more pronounced than Frosty's was, but I guess all ryukins are genetically similar. I do have a feeling that it's just like severe inbreeding in dogs for example to enhance some breed's features, where the more extreme types are more susceptible to possible medical problems.

I don't think it's a coincidence at all that the hardiest and most resilient goldfish are the ones closest to the natural form like commons and comets!

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Thanks Mfish, I think so too. He was growing and developing so well too.

I have to be honest though and prepare myself by saying that, at this point, if he ever recovers it really will be a miracle. :(

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OMG!! What have I been doing!!!

You know how I'm recycling these tanks? I decided to start from scratch, clean the smelly filters out completely and add new bacteria with Denityrol etc. Doing lots of water changes, but the fish just seemed to look worse after each water change, especially Bumpy. Kennedy too... Lucy in her hospital tank as well.. Frosty took her turn for the worse after a 50% wc, and now Sox has too after a 50% wc...

I was only ever testing for ammonia *before* any water changes. Same with the 2 cycling tanks - so the ammonia read 0.2, okay, do a 50% water change to bring it down to a safer 0.1. Or so I've thought.

Because after Sox got sick yesterday straight after her normal wc, I thought something funny was going on. So I tested her tank water after that 50% change and the ammonia read 0.25ppm. What?! I had previously tested all my tapwater parameters back in january and tap ammonia was zero. But I was supicious enough to test it again last night. And it went bright green!

Over 0.5ppm ammonia in the tapwater!!!!

Tested it again to be sure. Green again. So then I tested ALL my tanks. They've all had water changes in the past few days and none had ammonia below 0.1. The two most recent ones were over 0.25.

But I've been adding Prime! Why wasn't it working? So I tested my 25 litre water changing tub *after* adding the usual amount of Prime to it (as per instructions, about 0.4ml). No effect! The ammonia test stayed bright green! I kept adding more Prime and kept testing. Even at 10mls of Prime (over 20 times the instructions!), ammonia was still registering.

I can't believe this. I can't believe what I've been doing! I've been literally pouring ammonia into their tanks! No wonder I couldn't get the Purigen clean! The Prime I was adding to the water to soak the Purigen in was getting all used up just treating the tapwater, so none was left to clean the Purigen.

So I tried some Kent Marine ammonia detox for ponds instead (I bought it on sale ages ago, but never used it as it was way too strong, smells ten times worse than Prime does). It took 5mls to finally get a zero yellow reading of ammonia in my 25 litre tub of fresh tapwater. But the instructions say 5mls should treat 380 litres!!!

Whenever I tested my tanks before for ammonia and it read 0, it was only after a week of the filter breaking it down, so I had no idea I've been adding it. Or even for how long. And in my filterless hospital tank, I thought the high ammonia was coming from the fish, not the tapwater. OMG, I've been adding ammonia to Lucy's hospital tank! No wonder she's been getting worse after I thought she would recover. I haven't been helping her at all, just making her worse!

At least I know why everything's suddenly gone bad and I've been losing all my fish now. Last night I did a 60% water change (treated with Kent Marine so ammonia = 0 !) on the boys' tank, and after weeks of looking feeble and weak, Bumpy's suddenly perked up like his usual old self again today! I'm doing all the rest of the tanks today.

Sorry for the long post again. I'm a just bit distraught after all this.

PS. From now on I'm testing my tapwater weekly, now that I know they change it whenever they feel like it.

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I've just had another thought. Maybe my high nitrites weren't caused by my not cleaning the Purigen at all.

Maybe it was just all the ammonia I've been adding being converted into nitrites, which is why I was reading 0 ammonia and high nitrites before doing my water changes. I've just been going through a much larger new nitrogen cycle that's been going for a few weeks (when all the trouble first started appearing), and it was only up to the nitrite stage.

Which means my filters were working totally fine. Actually, overworking. But now I've scrubbed both of them and am cycling from scratch for nothing! Ugh.

That seems to make more sense right now.

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Wow aw - it sucks doesn't it?

Just tested my tap water and it was 0 but on several occassions, i've done waterchanges only to find a reading of anywhere between 0.50 - 1 in the fresh water bucket ...

I got onto Sydney Water who advised the ammonia in the water never gets over 0.01 in my area and that it could be a buildup in the pipes :blink: and to run it for a few minutes first. I didn't believe a word of it but now when doing w/c's I do run it for a minute first then test each time - and strangely I haven't had a reading other than 0 since - that was over a year ago.

Can you try the same thing? Where abouts do you live? Check the link to Sydney Water's report below and scroll to the 2nd page - you can see the ammonia levels in all areas:

Sydney Water

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