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 Tetras losing color...but only at night?

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ddavis1979
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PostSubject: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:10 am

I have 5 black neon tetras that I like very much. However, i have been struggling lately with tank water quality.

Two mornings in a row I have woken up and turned the lights on, and the tetras looked terrible. I thought they were near death due to water quality. the black stripe was all but gone and they were sluggish hanging out the bottom. I walked by 15 min later and full color was back and they seemed fine.

Is this normal for overnights with no lights for tetra.....anyone have any thoughts on this?

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:03 am

Poor water quality is not something to guess at. If you think it is bad, then do some water tests and find out. Test kits are not expensive - I can recommend API test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. PetCo and PetSmart usually have them available.
IMO you should check out your water to make sure you have 0 readings for ammonia and nitrite and about 10 ppm for nitrate.

However, barring any water quality issues, what you are describing can also be normal. IMO I think you are startling them by turning on the light suddenly and they respond by fading their color. Basically, you scared them. This is a common phenomenon with fish. Fifteen minutes later they are re-oriented and acting normally. Also, they see you and think they are going to be fed, which perks them up, too.

Why not put your light on a timer? Time it to come on after the sun comes up and let the room light do its job to acclimate the fish to the new day. Do not keep the lights on longer than 12 hours. Both fish and plants need a blackout period, just like we do.
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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:37 am

I have testing equipment and I know for a fact my water quality is having a issues. I gave the long sordid history in the intorduction thread, and right now I am in a waiting game. Doing water changes is making the quality worse because its not fully cycled, and my tap has a high level of ammonia already in it due to being treated with chloramines.

I dont use a timer because I am at home at dusk and dawn everyday and I just do it manually. I have a two young kids at home, and the lights in the tank come on at 7:30 AM everyday and go off at 10pm everynight.

But thanks for the info about the normal color drop, I appreciate the heads up.

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:04 pm

I agree with Deb, that it could be normal activity, but also stress. Other causes can be the water conditions. I saw on your Pleco posting that you have only had the tank setup for 14 days. You have added a lot of fish on a tank that truly has not completed cycling yet. You need to monitor VERY closely the ammonia, nitrite, PH, and nitrate levels. Water changes will alter the levels a bit but when cycled come back very quickly and significantly reduce the ammonia and nitrites. These are both quick killers or at the very least long lasting if not permanent damage to the health of your fish.
Keep testing and adding your bio boost. If you have a friend with a healthy cycled tank you can try to borrow some of his/her filter material, gravel, porous rocks and etc to place in your tank. This helps speed up the process.
Normally it is not recommended to add fish until tank has completely cycled which can take two weeks to 30 days sometimes. When you add fish even in a cycled tank it can and usually does cause a spike again. This is where close monitoring becomes critical until it has settled back. There are always exceptions to this depending upon your experience level, the quality of your tap or well water. There are some very good products out there that boast that it will instantly cycle your tank and fish can be added right away. IMO I don't trust them fully. There are some very good members on this forum who have used and recommended, but they are also very experienced hobbiest.
Normally most expersts recommend only adding one to three fish at a time and then only after tank has completely cycled. After adding fish they recommend waiting a couple weeks before adding more, and so on and on.
Long winded response I know, but I can't stress my agreement with the others who have responded, keep testing and following instructions on your bio boost to make sure you provide a healthy and safe environ for your pets.
Just one more note, the amount of light you mentioned may be a little long. I recommend trying to cut it back to about twelve hours max.

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:15 pm

I was trying to follow the instructions of the owner at azalea aquarium, but i screwed up the proportion of the start smart (which i have since corrected but I start the cycle again), and that was starting off with 10 small cheap fish in a 55 gallon tank.

But since the water comes out of the tap at 2ppm ammonia, doing water changes makes the ammonia issues worse. So right now I am in the waiting game of letting the bacteria catch up with the ammonia level and I am testing twice daily.

Thanks you for the good information!


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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:47 pm

my cardinal tetras do this if I forget to turn the room light on before the tank light. I've only done that a few times because it scared me as much as the sudden light scared them!
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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:58 am

It sounds like you are well on your way to getting things under control, and at this point it is just a matter of patience - excellent advice above. I know Keith at Azalea is a big fan of that product but, as mentioned, results can vary for sure.

As long as you use a water treatment product that removes chloramines as well as chlorine, you ought to eliminate the ammonia factor from the tap water completely.

Keep us posted - this is all very good information for anyone just starting out.

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:40 pm

I don't have black neons (although I like them!), but I have other tetras and I see the same thing with my fish when I initially turn on the lights and "wake them up"...

They have no color and they appear confused for a few seconds.... but they color up and get to knocking around pretty quickly...

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:06 pm

I haven't used this product, but I was recently reading an article about reefkeeping and how sensitive some of the life forms were to even .001 ppm ammonia and chloramine. The name of the product is AmQuel Plus, it detoxifies all chlorine and chloramines added to the water by public water utilities. Google it, it may help with your water quality issues.
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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:05 pm

The color change is their normal nighttime sleeping color.  They were probably that color in the dark before you turned on the lights and startled them.  If you have doubts, peek with a small flashlight in the middle of the night.  Most tetras and many other fish, including many cichlids, have different colors/patterns at night.  My tank lights come on after the sun is up and the room is fairly bright from windows, but if your room is dark it's best to set up a timer to turn on a lamp away from the tank 10 or 15 min before the tank lights turn on.   Same thing at night: have a room lamp ON when the fish lights go OFF, and let it stay on for 15 min or so before the room goes dark.  Some fish are more frightened by sudden darkness than by sudden light.
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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:40 pm

I feel like my endlers patterns fade when they sleep. Maybe it's just me.

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:54 pm

Really? what color do you turn when you sleep?

@Sbane5001 wrote:
I feel like my endlers patterns fade when they sleep. Maybe it's just me.
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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:34 pm

Rolling Eyes 

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sat Nov 30, 2013 12:53 pm

@ddavis1979 wrote:
I was trying to follow the instructions of the owner at azalea aquarium, but i screwed up the proportion of the start smart (which i have since corrected but I start the cycle again), and that was starting off with 10 small cheap fish in a 55 gallon tank.

But since the water comes out of the tap at 2ppm ammonia, doing water changes makes the ammonia issues worse.  So right now I am in the waiting game of letting the bacteria catch up with the ammonia level and I am testing twice daily.  

Thanks you for the good information!

I agree with the folk who say it is normal for fish to have color variations when startled or awakened from sleeping. Keith does seem to be a fan of Start Right.  He recommended the product to  me many years ago. I prefer a product that allows me to not have to premix replacement water and then hauling it to my tanks.

What concerns me is that you have observed that water changes have had a negative effect. How are you performing water changes? What is your procedure? Shocked

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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:23 am

My cardinal gets very pale at night. The blue stripe fades a bit but the red almost disappears. It is probably done to conserve energy or to make themselves near invisible to night predators. That's my theory, anyway...
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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:28 am

Everyone has given you good information. Just to add my 2 cents here is what I have discovered:

When the sun goes down or lights go out and fish enter the “sleeping state” they will “lose their color” or will become dull. This is because the chromatophores, which are the pigmentation cells (cells that control the color), spread out and the color fades or seems to disappear. When they (the fish) become more active or awake the cells constrict or come together and the color is brighter.

There are many explanations as to why this happens, one is that this is a way for the fish to conserve energy. There is no need to keep bright colors at night so the fish control the chromatophores when the environment or light changes and the result are a color change.

This also happens when the fish are under stress. The fish will expend energy for perceived self-preservation and will lose most of the color.

I have even seen the opposite in some of my Angels. I have some Platinum Blues that when “happy” will lose all of their black stripes. (Especially when I feed live or frozen food) The stripes reappear when they have calmed down to their normal routine.
There are many more and just as feasible explanations but I won’t put them all here at this time.
I hope this helps.
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PostSubject: Re: Tetras losing color...but only at night?   Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:24 am

With some Apistogramma those stripes and bars that appear on stressed fish are essential for species ID, especially in the A. regani species complex with many similar species. (The species descriptions are mostly based on preserved museum specimens, which usually show the stress pattern).


@DLW wrote:

This also happens when the fish are under stress. The fish will expend energy for perceived self-preservation and will lose most of the color. I have even seen the opposite in some of my Angels. I have some Platinum Blues that when “happy” will lose all of their black stripes. (Especially when I feed live or frozen food) The stripes reappear when they have calmed down to their normal routine.
David
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