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bluegill fingerlings in my first time setup are kicking off

My wife picked up 40 bluegill fingerlings and 4 catfish on friday to add to our first setup which we just finished cycling.  9 of them died on the way home, and 5 a day for the next two days.    The ph is reading 7, no amonia signs and water temp is 71 degrees.  Also,  a few fish are showing discolored regions on their back and tailfin.

Is this mortality rate in a stressful move usual? Should I be investigating / worrying about an underlying problem that may kill them all?  When I visit them, they seem happy. They are usually grouped on the  sunlight side of the tank and eat small coy & goldfish pellets that i'm crushing for them

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Thanks for all of your advice thus far.    Since my last post only 1 more bluegill has passed.  Today I observed flakey light colored spots on the nose and backs on 3 or 4 of my fish.  The affected fish do not appear to be encumbered by the scaley looking substance.  Does anyone recognize this symptom?   

latest readings:  amonia .25 ppm; 7.2ph; 72 degrees; 0 Nitrite; ~80 ppm Nitrate

Justin Stahler said:

Thanks for all of your advice thus far.    Since my last post only 1 more bluegill has passed.  Today I observed flakey light colored spots on the nose and backs on 3 or 4 of my fish.  The affected fish do not appear to be encumbered by the scaley looking substance.  Does anyone recognize this symptom?   

Looks like some sort of bacterial infection (then again most infections are bacterial.)

Salt is about the only thing I know to do.

SALT NOW! Every fish will die if you don't, even other species that share water and aren't susceptible normally, once the balance gets skewed by sick bluegills. And it wouldn't hurt to do a partial water change to lower those nitrates.
Ohh dear, this sounds dire! will go pick up salt test kit and salt (sea salt?) From local pet store. Will try to target 3ppm as suggested earlier in the dicussion
Get course rock salt from Orchard supply, or similar, it's only $5 for 50 lbs. Aquarium salt is the same thing for 100 times more money. My advice, especially for bluegill, is to dose at 5 ppt. This isn't prevention now, this is a visible full-on infection. Salt at 5 ppt won't hurt your fish, or your biofilter, and it wont change hardness or pH, but it will slow or stop growth of many plants. So if your plants are too valueble to endanger, disconnect the growbed from the loop, and hand water during treatment. I would keep it salted for 2-3 weeks, and then do daily water changes until your salt is below 1 ppt before rehooking the growbeds. If the plants are no big deal, keep the growbeds cycling.
Thanks again. We just added 1/4 cup of solar salt. Could this have been caused by over feeding?
That's great, if your tank is 6 1/4 gallons. To calculate salt at 5ppt, multiply tank volume in gallons times .04 to get pounds of salt to add. So for 100 gallons, you'd use 4 lbs of salt. For my 1000 gallon tank, I used 40 lbs of salt. Granular salt weighs about the same as water per unit volume (actually fine salt weighs more, and course salt weighs less), so you can use volume measurements for smaller tanks. A pint weighs a pound.
And yes, this could have been caused by overfeeding. Bacterial infections are ever-present, and bluegill are notorious for becoming infected following stress, such as overfeeding, netting, pH swings, temperature swings, shipping, etc.

Hey Jon and Everyone else, 

THe bluegills I bought from you, Jon, are doing pretty good. A few died during the move, but overall they are swiming vigorously and eating like champs. I think the big secret for my system was adding a constant supply of oxygen through a battery powered air bubbler, which I hadn't had before. I bought 4 rechargable D batteries and I just rotate them in every day.

I few days ago, I noticed one fish has developed a white fuzz on one of his fins. Did some quick reading online and it looks like its cotton ball disease?

I have been feeding pretty liberally, using flakes in addition to the grubs and wierd bugs I find in my compost tea. How does over feeding lead to bacteria infections? 

I quarentined him today in a separate bucket with a bubbler and some salt. And I salted my system at about 2.5 parts per thousand, mostly because I ran out of salt and I wasnt sure if I was going to shock the whole group of fish.  Would you recommend Salting my system the full 5 parts per thousand? For a number of days? or just once. 

How would you approach my sick buddy in the bucket, does he have any hope?

update:   I have 11/40 bluegills remaining and 4/4 catfish.  It has been several weeks since the last fatality. All the remaining fish are in good spirits and showing noticeable growth.   I don't want to get ahead of myself, but hopefully these guys have adjusted to the system.

That's good to hear, Justin.

Adam, I just saw your post here. How's your sick fish doing? It's kind of late now, bit in my opinion I would salt the whole system to 5 ppt and hold it for a week or two. Most plants will stall during salting, but will regain growth when returned to fresh water.

If you quarantined him in a bucket, them likely there is no biofilter, and thus you will need to do daily water changes to rid the ammonia. The replacement water must be salted to 5 ppt as well,

Overfeeding often results in bacterial bloom, ammonia spike, increased oxygen demand and thus possible low DO; all stressful to fish and the stress leads to infection in bluegill.

Good call on the extra O2, and the battery backup.

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