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Fish Has Been Swimming Upside Down And Is Listless


Guest SminiFish

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Guest SminiFish

Hi,

I noticed yesterday morning my blind fish, Uno, was swimming upside down. Being blind, he sometimes gets disoriented and swims in funny positions, but this was different. He was listless and not righting himself into position. After some time, he seemed better, but today he has been really lethargic! I called my LFS and talked with someone there. He thought Uno may be constipated or he may have swim bladder disease. I brought in a water sample to be tested and the parameters were all messed up: He said the Ammonia was high, nitrites was high, nitrates were 50+, and the ph was 5. I am surprised because I do a water change on this tank every week, but this last week, the water has been looking cloudy. The LFS man said I am probably over feeding my fish (I feed once a day). For the constipation, he had me buy some Anachris (sp?) plant to put into the tank and to not feed the Pro Gold pellets I feed to them for a couple days. When I came home, Uno was really lethargic. I went ahead and did a 1/3 tank water change, put in new filters in my Penguin filter unit, and added some aquarium salt to the tank (1 Tablespoon per 5 gallons-I have a 30 gallon tank). Uno seems to be perking up a bit but the water is still really cloudy. Is there anything else I can do to help Uno along? If it is swim bladder disease, what can i do for it? He doesn't seem to be hanging out upside down as much today. Any suggestions or advice is very much appreciated. Thank you!

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Hiya sminifish,

I think you may have to do some more big changes daily - and I would aim for 50% over the next few days. Is there any way you can purchase any test kits? When water quality is off, it's real important to be able to monitor your parameters several times a day.

How long has the tank been set up?

How big is it?

How many fish?

What is the model of your Penguin filter?

If your ph is at 5, this will normally kill a fish so as s suggestion, perhaps you can take a sample of your tap water to your lfs where they can test the ph, kh and gh. It will be important to know how hard or soft your water and it will give a clue as to why your ph crashed.

I was going to suggest adding some baking soda however am hesitant to do so unless you have a ph test kit. Raising it by 0.4 in a 24hour period calls for careful monitoring and can't be done without.

I'm trying to work out why your cycle crashed (which is where your answers to the above questions will come in handy). Perhaps the filter isn't entirely up to the task of conversion so telling us what type of filtration you have is also important.

Did you replace all your filter media? If so, any good biobugs will now be in the bin so you may end up going through your cycle again (but will wait until you confirm this).

In the meantime, try and do some largish waterchanges because I'm hoping the ph out of your tap is higher than 5 so this will raise it. I'm just concerned that if you do changes weekly and your ph still crashed, it may be due to your watersource.

Please post back soon :)

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For starters it appears that you are currently cycling your tank. My first impresssion is that it's the water quality that is affecting the fish. Even water that appears clear can harbor dangerous levels of ammonia & /or nitrites. How long has this tank been set up?

In a fully cycled tank ammonia & nitrite will be zero & you will have some level of nitrates (preferably less than 20-40).

I would immediately do another 30-50% water change. The salt is probably helping protect him from the elevated nitrite. You will need to add back in salt to the water you remove if you want to keep the tank salted. Remember salt is only removed by water changes so only add in for the volume of water you are replacing. Do not add back for the entire tank volume.

He's probably perking up from the better water (because you are removing the ammonia & nitrite with the water changes).

Also if I am reading your post correctly - I think you may have a problem with your pH . Is your post correct that your pH in your tank is 5.0? If so - that is too acidic & you will need to deal with trying to raise it. If it is 5.0 - what is the pH from your tap? (What I trying to figure out is if your water has a pH of 5.0 or if you have a problem with how well the water is buffered).

Do you have test kits at home? If not can you afford to get at least the nitrite, ammonia & pH? (Nitrate would also be a plus-if you can afford it I would get the master test kit which includes some other tests as well).

Before proceeding with anything else I would get your water params under control

Hope this helps! :D Jenn

edit - Hey JenW - we posted at the same time! Great Jen's post alike! :rofl

Edited by fisharenewtome
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Guest SminiFish

Hi! Thank you for your replies! The tank has been running now for about 2-3 years. I have two very large telescope fish in a 30 gallon tank. I clean the tank every week. I think the tank has crashed but I can't understand why the parameters are so messed up after I clean on a weekly basis.

I do have a test kit at home. I am going to test the water this AM. The LFS told me the pH was 5 yesterday, which kind of surprised me. I am also going to do another water change again today. Maybe I'll get some Cycle to help replace the beneficial bacteria? Is there something that will safely bring the pH back up slowly?

I feel so bad for Uno. He is still alive but is really lethargic. His friend, Cajun, is snuggling up next to him. I'm going to test the water, do a water change and get back to you guys. Thank you so much for your help and advice!

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Guest SminiFish

I just tested the water and did another water change.

Gosh! I had changed the water last night in the tank and tested the water this morning before doing another water change and the parameters for the tank are really messed up! PH is 6.7 (a lot better than 5!), ammonia is 1.5, nitrite is 0.5, and nitrate is 160!

I am going to test the water again later this morning and see where it stands. What do you guys think of the pH? Our water is usually a little more on the basic side, thats why I was shocked last night when he told me it was 5. Should I try using something to bring it up, or should I wait and keep doing water changes. I plan to keep doing water changes. I'll do another one before I leave for work tonight.

As for Uno, I think I'm going to move him to a hospital tank. I have some cycled water from another goldie tank that is doing fine, so I'll use that. Any other suggestions, please post them! Thank you for your help!

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Guest SminiFish

I forgot to mention I have a Penguin 330 filter for my 30 gallon tank and also a power head for the undergravel filter. Even after doing the water change this AM, the water is still cloudy!

Do any of you think it would be a good idea to add some BioSpira or Cycle to the tank to get it to cycle again? It seems like the bacteria in my tank are non-exisistant.

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Guest SminiFish

I moved Uno and Cajun into a hospital tank (with oxygen and salt) temporarily until I can get the water parameters under control. Wow! What difference it has made! The water is from another goldie tank I have: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nirtate 20, pH 6.4. They are completely different fish! They are swimming around having fun! :krazy: This hospital tank is only 10 gallons, so I know they can't stay in there for long, but it is a better environment than their other 30 gallon tank! :exactly

I'm going to test the water again in the 30 gallon tank and do another water change before i go to work tonight. Do you guys think adding BioSpira or cycle to the tank would help?

Thank you for your help.

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Hiya S, well if you have a penguin 330 - that's 330 gallons per hour and should be sufficient.

Just a few q's

- have you medicated recently?

- how do you clean your filter media?

- do you replace all media at the same time?

Sometimes we can crash our cycle if all media is replaced, ph gets too low or we medicate - i think in your case it is the low ph that's caused the problem.

You can use crused coral (suspended from a net bag) and it will raise your ph to a level that will make your goldies comfortable and even better, it will stay there :)

I have heard nothing but good reports on bio-spira and would say it's a good idea to get - Cycle won't do much but bio-spria will. Then once you have your cycle back in check, keep your filter media for a few months (not carbon) and just rinse in used tank water. This will ensure the good bacteria isn't overly disturbed. If you're really worried, you could add another smaller hangon filter (I use aquaclears) so that you have 2 to carry the load and back one up if you replace the media in the other.

So for now, big waterchanges will be your best friend (do you have any Prime?) :)

I'm glad they're doing better and I think perfect water will get them through this successfully :)

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If I may interject - I think the old undergravel filter bugaboo might be in play here.

UGFs trap debris under them, and after a while, when it all decays and the UGF gets full, start releasing the toxins back into the tank. This happened to me recently on my main tank, and we are still trying to save everyone a month out.

Same symptoms - pH crash, ammonia showing up in a cycled tank, basic water chemistry whacked completely out.

I would think the best course might be to get another tank cycled as quickly as you can, (doing massive water changes daily in their current tank), get everyone moved, and get the UGF out. Unfortunately, you'll probably end up having to recycle your main tank after this, so be prepared to house them elsewhere for a month to 6 weeks. I may be over-reacting, and if so, I apologize, but this sounds SO similar to what we've been through.

Best of luck for you and your fish!

Dave

Edited by parkerdt
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Once you get the UGF out, and clean the gravel and tank and filter well, then, yes, BioSpira is an excellent product to help quickly cycle a tank - IF you get a good batch. This depends almost entirely on how fresh it is, and how well it has been stored at your LFS. I've been lucky - my LFS stocks it in small quantities and thus their turn-over is rapid.

Once again, good luck, and if I am off base, I apologize.

Dave

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Guest SminiFish

Hello JenW and Parkerdt,

Thank you so much for your replies! I am at work now on my dinner break, but before I left the house, Uno and Cajun seemed to be doing fine in the hospital tank with good water in it. The LFS here in the town I work in has Biospira so I am going to buy some tomorrow. I work in the morning and am off at noon, so I am going straight home, do another large water change, and then put the Biospira in the tank. Do you think I should then put Uno and Cajun back in the tank after I put in the Biospira? I know they won't be able to stay in the hospital tank indefinitely, because it is a 10 gallon tank, but I don't want to put them back too soon either.

I haven't medicated the tank in a while (at least 3-4 months). I was having some trouble with Ick 6 months ago (could all this be related?). I got a heater for the tank and keeping the tank at a constant temp (70F) has helped get rid of the Ick. I clean the filters (not the biowheels) on the Penguin once a week when I clean out the tank. I usually just rinse them in the tank water that was taken out of the tank, and I usually replace them every 2-3 months. When I replace them, I replace both of them at the same time. JenW, you were mentioning having another filter going when you change out the media in the other one. Would it be good to have a cannister filter along with the Penguin? I have looked at these and have wondered if they would be good to have as well. Also, when you mentioned using crused coral to help with the pH, did you mean crushed coral? Do you get this at a LFS? The pH imbalance has been really weird because our water tends to run a little more on the basic side.

Wow Parkerdt! I never realized an UGF could cause all those problems! Would it be just as good if I just stop the power head completely and continue to vacuum the gravel to get all the debris and stuff out of there, or does the UGF unit need to be taken out of the tank completely for this work?

Looking forward to hearing from you both. I will continue with the water changes and get some Biospira for the tank (JenW-you asked if I use Prime. Yes, it is great stuff and I use it all the time when I do water changes on my tanks). Thank you again and I look forward to your replies!

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I went ahead today and did another 50% water change, added new water, and added in some BioSpira. The water parameters today before I cleaned out the tank were the same as yesterday, but I think the ammonia was a bit higher at 1. Uno and Cajun are still in the hospital tank and will stay there another night. They are doing well (I also went ahead and did a water change on the hospital tank as well, as I don't have any filtration unit on that tank). The LFS said it usually takes 24 hours for the tank to cycle with BioSpira. Think good thoughts for us!

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Hiya S - sometimes biospira works a bit slower than that but your test kits will tell :D

With filters, my problems stopped when I added 2 filters to each of my tanks because depeding on your fish load, how much you feed etc. it's often the best thing in the world to run more than 1. The way I look at it is if I change the filter media, all the good biobugs are remove but the filter still houses some good bacteria. But is the amount left behind sufficient to convert the current load? Usually not which is when you can have a small bump in the cycle. So now, with 2 filters, I can change the media in one filter and not worry about a mini crash. My preference is for a hang on and cannister on each. Cannisters IMHO are fantastic because they house so much media that their biological conversion is excellent and I also opt for a hang on because while the media within is less than a cannister, it's filters more water and does a good job of cleaning up their waste :D

Just on UGF, there's so many bad stories on these that I tend to avoid them like the plague. I can go to my tanks (not that I would) and stir up the gravel and am confident no harmful gases will be realease because I rely on good old gravel vacuuming each week. So I'm in total agreeance with parkerdt...

And for the ph - yes it's crushed coral which brings up the ph in your water and is available through most aquariums.

Keep us posted on their progress although it sounds as though things are looking up :)

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Guest SminiFish

Hi JenW,

Thank you for your help! I think I'm going to look into a cannister filter for my tank and get rid of the UGF. What do you recommend as far as cannister filters? And what would be the easiest way to get the UGF out of the tank? Would I have to take all the water and gravel out of the tank? Would I have to put more BioSpira in the tank if I take out the UGF?

Looking forward to your reply. Thanks again for all your help! (Uno and Cajun thank you too!) :hi

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:D You're so very welcome

As for the UGF, this is the one thing i really dislike about them.... to remove them you do need to have all fish out of the tank and basically lift the plate out. It can release some harmful gases which is why you don't want your fish in there. But there's a couple of really big positives in removing it

a) no more trapped gunk

b) it's a great opportunity for a jolly big clean :D

As for cannister filters, my preference is definitely the Eheim range followed closely by Fluval.

My favourite eheim is my 2229 which is purely biological. This means it converts harmful levels (something like) 40% better than most filters. But it has no mechanical function which is why I run a Fluval 404 and aquaclear 300 also.

I really like my Fluvals as they perform very well but if you want the best filtration, Eheim would be my first choice with Fluval being my second :D

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You are going to be amazed when you pull that UGF what is under it, and I suspect are going to want to do a full tank cleaning., including washing the rocks and gravel. I definitely would not do this with fish in the tank. Pulling mine turned the whole tank the color of strongly brewed tea - really gross.

I cycled a 40 gal with BioSpira and it took 8 days. My 58 gal main is taking longer, but in it, I'm doing an entirely new fishless cycle feeding with pure ammonia until the nitrItes go to 0.

I run Fluvals - mainly because I started with them and have a bunch of media and parts for them laying around (I've got 7 tanks running on Fluvals). I run a 404 and a 405 on my 58 main, and agree with the sugestion for 2 units. We figure a 404/405 which is rated at 350 gph will actually do about 300 gph at a 5 foot head height. So for my 58 gal, two of them give me the recommended 10x turn-over per hour.

Eheims and Rena Filstars are both good as well. I'd personally see what is on sale; any of these will do a good job for you especially if you use two, like Jen suggests.

Dave

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Guest SminiFish

Thank you JenW and Parkerdt! You guys are life savers! Looking back this past week, I have learned so much from you guys about this topic. I really appreciate all the advice and help you've given me.

Last night I typed in Undergravel Filters on go0gle, and the first two things that popped up were web sites talking about how bad UGF are for your tank! I thought a lot last night about what has been going on with my tank in the last 6 months (algae all of a suddenly dying off, the Ick problems, fish not as perky, Uno swimming upside down earlier this week, etc). I could never understand why all these things were happening when I was so diligent about cleaning the tank out every week. Now it makes perfect sense! The UGF, with all its toxins, killed off all the good bacteria in my tank! I am convinced now more than ever that the culprit is my UGF!

I feel absolutely TERRIBLE for unknowingly subjecting poor Uno and Cajun to those toxins, not knowing that even though I was cleaning the tank every week to help keep them healthy, the fact was that because of the toxins from the UGF, they were actually really sick fish! :ill I am so happy to have gotten the advice from you guys when I did, because I am afraid Uno, and eventually Cajun would have been dead fish this week! :cry1

Even though I put BioSpira in the tank yesterday, the tank, although not hazy, still has a cloudy look to it. I am going to test the water today to see where the parameters are (out of curiosity), but I'm still going to take the UGF out and start the tank a new with some new BioSpira.

Uno and Cajun are still in the hospital tank and seem to be doing fine. They aren't moving around the 10 gallon tank much because they are big goldies (6-7 inches long), but they are definitely doing better than they were in the infected 30 gallon. I have been doing 50% water changes in the hospital tank on a daily basis because I don't want them to have to endure any more bad toxins.

Wish me luck today! I know it is going to be a big messy mess, but totally worth it in the long run. Thanks again for all your help and I'll give you an update tonight.

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SminiFish,

My two are 7" and 5" and I have been through this exact problem (see my thread entitled "Sick Common?" for the gory details....

Don't feel bad about not knowing about UGFs - I sure didn't know, and I suspect a lot don't. I would bet that in perfect water your guys will be just fine given some time. But it is going to take some time to cycle the tank after you clean it, set up new filters, etc. I personally would not want to put fish that have been through a UGF crash through even a BioSpira cycle in a re-started tank - too much stress on already stressed but recovering fishie immune systems....

I do not want to scare you, but be on the lookout for any signs of darting, flashing, scratching against gravel/ornaments etc. UGF sludge is, apparently, almost the perfect environment for parasites, and they can easily latch onto the fish if they are weakened and stressed. This is, we believe, what happened to me.

Good luck to you and your guys, and keep us informed, please.

Dave

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Guest SminiFish

Whew!

Well it is done! I just finished pulling out the UGF, siphoning all the water out, scooping all the gravel out and cleaning it throughly, and putting the tank all back together. I de-chlorinated the water and added in the BioSpira to cycle the tank. Boy was my tank filthy! The guck under all the gravel and the UGF was disgusting, but it is all clean now and ready to go.

A couple questions about the BioSpira:

It said to take all activated carbon out of tank when adding BioSpira. I took out the filters for my Penguin 330 Biowheel when I added the Biospira, but when can I safely put them back in?

Also, when should I start doing water changes and vacuuming of the tank. I want to make sure the bacteria take hold in the tank before I start cleaning, but I don't to wait too long so that problems start to arise.

The directions on the BioSpira packet says that BioSpira needs the waste from the fish in the tank to get it through the cycle, but I noticed in your last message that it would not be good to put Cajun and Uno through a BioSpira cycle. Will the tank still cycle with BioSpira if the fish are not in the tank?

Thank you again for all your help! Looking forward to your replies.

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Guest SminiFish

Hi!

I was just reading about BioSpira under the products review section of the message board and several people said they did a fishless cycle in their tank with BioSpira which I am very happy to see! I don't want to put Cajun and Uno through any more stress and would like to do this fishless cycle. How do I go about doing this?

Also, the hospital tank Uno and Cajun are staying is unfortunately not a cycled tank. :( I borrowed a tank from a friend and put together quickly earlier this week to get Uno out of the toxic 30 gallon tank. To keep them safe, I have been doing 50% water changes on a daily basis. Should I continue to do this until the 30 gallon tank is completely cycled?

Thanks for your help!

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Glad you got that thing out! It's amazing what hides down there, isn't it.

Carbon out until the tank cycles is best.

To simulate fish waste, add pure ammonia (the non-sudsing type ONLY) until the readings get to about 1ppm on your test kit. Note how much you had to add to get there (best to use a dropper bottle and count drops). Add BioSpira. Start checking for NitrItes in 24 hours - once you begin to see nitrItes, add half the amount of ammonia you added initially. Keep testing until Nitrites and ammonia are both 0. This took about 8 days in my 40 gal. At this point, carbon can go in, 25% water change, clean if necessary. This is the point I put Nemo in, and I never saw ammonia spike up, though I did get occasional nitrite spikes up to between .25 and .5 for a week or so. Control these with Prime and 25% water changes. I don't recommend more than a 25% water change unless you get to the point where your nitrAtes are getting high - say above 30-40. You are trying to disturb as little as possible so that the good bugs can make a home in your gravel and filter media. Resist the temptation to clean the filter media for awhile, as well.

You may want to go0gle "Fishless Cycling" for more info on this process. I use it all the time in my marine tanks, and it has worked well for me. Nemo's temporary tank was the first time I tried it assisted by BioSpira, and the BioSpira does speed it up considerably. I'm doing a fishless cycle on my own rebuilt main tank now - 7 days in.

How are your fish doing? Yes, continue with the 50% water changes in the iso tank, and do daily water chemistries. With those big guys, you may have to do two 50% changes back to back sometimes, your test kit will tell you. Prime will also be your friend during this time.

Dave

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Also, now is the time to consider a few other things while your tank cycles:

1. Filtration. You've lost some filtering turn-over by removing the UGF and power head. You may wish to consider adding a cannister filter with room for lots of bio media at this time. Eheim, Fluval, Rena Filstar, all are good choices as we've discussed. The sooner you get one installed with it's biomedia, the quicker the good bugs will colonize in there.

2. Parasites. Not sure how you cleaned everthing, but if you didn't use potassium permanganate (PP) or bleach at 1:10 concentration, you could still be harboring some parasites, and you may want to do a two course treatment with Parasite Clear as a preventative. I ran bleach at 1:10 in my tank and through the filters for 24 hours, did two 100% water changes, let it sit 2 days, then another 2 100% water changes, and lots of dechlorinator. I also boiled all my substrate for 20 minutes, but given that I know my fish got parasites, I'm still going to treat that tank with the Parasite Clear as it finishes cycling.

Dave

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Guest SminiFish

Hi Dave,

Thank you for explaining how to proceed with the fishless cycle. I started the cycle today in the 30 gallon tank with ammonia. I brought it up to 1.0ppm of ammonia (it took 20 drops of the ammonia to bring it up to 1.0) and then just let it do its thing today. Tonight, I tested the water again and the ammonia was at 0.25 but there were no nitrites. Does this seem to be ok? I am assuming that the bacteria started to break down the ammonia because it was lower than this morning. The negative color for nitrites on my test kit is blue, and tonight it was a little darker than the normal blue, so maybe it is just starting to convert the ammonia over to nitrites? I know it hasn't been 24 hours yet for the nitrites, so I will re-test the water again tomorrow.

Uno and Cajun seem to be doing ok, but this morning, I noticed a strip of Cajun's tail had come off! :blink: I have never seen this before in any of my fish. Is this normal? You were right about possibly having to do a back to back water change in the hospital tank. The water this morning looked cloudier than usual. After testing the water, I found the ammonia to be 1.0. I had to do 2 water changes back to back this morning and I did another one tonight to bring it down to 0ppm. Cajun and Uno are quiet in the tank, but they are eating and swim around a little bit. I don't think they are ill like they were in the 30 gallon tank before I cleaned it out, but I will definitely keep an eye on them for parasite breakouts and such.

I've been doing my homework on cannister filters and I think I'm going to get a Eheim. Just have a few more questions that I want to look into and I'll probably purchase one tomorrow. Big Al's had a good price on the ones I was looking at (much better prices than Dr Foster and Smith).

Thank you again for all of your help and advice! I will be in touch soon and let you know how the cycle is going Friday.

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Guest SminiFish

Hi!

Tested water this morning: Ammonia was 0 and Nitrites were 0.25! :)

I added in 10 drops (half the initial amount) of ammonia this morning and will test the tank again tonight.

Dave, I had a question about putting in the ammonia: Now that I've put in the half dose since I saw the nitrites, do I still need to add in ammonia every day, or do I stop adding ammonia now and wait until both the ammonia and nitrites are zero?

Looks like things are going well for the tank! I'll post again tonight with more info. Thanks again!

P.S. Uno and Cajun say Hi and pass along a big Thank You for helping them! :hi

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