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I just lost 3 tilapia yesterday, and one a couple days before that, out of about 25 in this tank. For the life of my I can't figure out why they died.  They were all about 3 - 4" long and I've had them since mid-December.  pH = 7, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels all close to zero, temp - 72 F.  and plenty of oxygen.  A clue to the mystery, though, is that I've lost fish inexplicably in this tank before, and it is the only system we used PVC glue in. Could that be it?  I've included a couple photos from my iPhone...hopefully they aren't as crazy big as they look now!

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I have the same problem. I just lost 7 Tilapia in 2 days. Everything was going PERFECT for at least 3 months or more. Then one day they stopped eating and became very sluggish. Soon they were going belly up. It was only the big pale colored fish for some reason. The small darker ones seem to be doing better. The only thing that I noticed was that it seemed like someone put red Kool-Aid dye in the tank because some pieces of white plastic turned red and some rocks picked up a pinkish hue. We just changed from Hikari Cichlid Staple to Hikari Cichlid Gold which has food coloring in it. Could that be the answer? I'm stumped.

The only other idea I have is this......we are growing in a basement with grow lights. I opened up the boiler room door to transfer some of the heat into the main room since it's getting cold up here in Brooklyn. Could the gas furnace and boiler have eaten all the oxygen in the room?? It seems unlikely. I have since closed the door and cracked a window. But I can't imagine that is the reason. 

Ohh....Levels are good...Amonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are all at zero. Ph is low (about 6.2) but it has been that way for over a month and they where happy before. Ahhgggg....What do I do?

What is the water temperature?

If fish deaths happen along with a change in feed, sometimes it can be the feed.  I've had feed go bad before and it killed a few fish.

Water stays between 72 and 80 degrees. 

Hum, hopefully the issue has gone away since you closed the door.

Okay, now for my fish problem.  I'm losing a couple fish a week, and I'm not starting with many.  After many problems with my tanks, everything finally seemed to be okay.  After several fish losses, I had ten.  All was well.  I added another dozen tilapia fingerlings (all of my fish are 1-3 inches).  That was three weeks ago.  I had a cold snap, and the heater came unplugged by a kid...I lost several.  I warmed the tanks back up a bit.  My water temp is remains 65-72 degrees (give or take a degree).  Every few days, I see a tilapia acting strange.  It gets lethargic and seems to lose it's equilibrium.  It doesn't follow the other fish or go after feed.  That's the dead giveaway that it will be dead in a couple days.  I have one such right now, and I think I have another one starting.  I also have a tank for crayfish, and all the water comes together in the sump.  The Red Claw crayfish are doing just fine.  Here's my stats:

Temp 65-72

PH 7.2

Ammonio 0

Nitrites 0

Tank capacity 9-- gallons total (both tanks with sump

down to 11 tilapia and 4 crayfish.

Can Anybody help?  I'm stumped.

Can you keep the temperature above 68?  Most tilapia don't eat much when the temp is below 70 and young ones may be having real trouble getting enough nutrition when the temperatures are dropping much below 70 all the time.

9 gallons is really small.  Perhaps you would be better off with fewer fish anyway.  Do you have a bigger tank to move the tilapia to as they grow?  I once put an injured adult tilapia into a 10 gallon aquarium and that seemed silly to see her in that little tank, and you are saying that both your fish tank and sump tank put together only equals 9 gallons?

What is your filtration?  How high are your nitrates?  What is your source water?

Make sure that you don't have any stray voltage getting into the water, that can sometimes explain, otherwise unexplained deaths.

Have you used any salt?  Salting a system to 1 or 2 ppt can sometimes help as a general tonic for fish.

Hi TC, I was hoping you'd reply to this!  9 gallons is a typo.  I have 900 gallons.  My filtration is 60 sq/ft grow bed with 12 inches of gravel.  I'm not sure how high my nitrates are (I dropped the dropper bottle between two tanks which I haven't been able to retrieve (my arms aren't long enough)), but based on a recent test it is at most 10 ppm.  I'm using city water after treating it for cholramine with sodium thiosulfate (another discussion, but according to the FDA its safe).  t will look at the stray voltage.  I'm embarrassed to admit that my electrical is pretty jury-rigged.

Ok. glad that was a typo

Yea I've occasionally hear of a heater or pump or something letting stray voltage into the water and it can sometimes cause balance disorders in fish.

I hate when fish just keep dieing for no easily apparent reason.  I finally removed my front porch tank when I just kept having unexplainable fish deaths in it.  Chickens are bummed because they haven't gotten any bluegill feasts since the day after I removed all fish from that tank.  (any really small dead fish usually went to the chickens.)

My only other guess is that if the fish are small (hungry or as I know small tilapia tend to be STARVING all the time) then perhaps the lower temperatures are making it hard for them to eat enough to be healthy and robust?  That is really grasping at straws though and perhaps some one with more tilapia experience can offer more help.

Come to think about it, I don't think it's stray electricity.  Although it's not an ideal wiring job, it is run through a GFI.  I'm pretty sure it would break if there was a short...I lost another fish, and I think I can already see another one with the same symptoms.

Any Tilapia experts out there that can help me diagnose my problem?

What is your fish feed?  Is it relatively fresh or might it be old?  I've had fish issues when I had a bag of old feed once.

what do you mean convert to female????



Daniel E Murphy said:

Did they convert to female possibly? How do you check?

Tilapia can be sex reverse using testosterone after hatching.  They do not go back. 

For Sylvias fish the best answer is the one she ultimately gave- stress from moving.  Tilapia are territorial under low densities.  These are one of the few fish, that do "better" the more you pack them in.  That is to say they stop messing with each other.  Every time you move fish the possibility for death over the next week is a possibility.  Stress from the move allows the diseases they are already carrying to move forward and take over. 

Lonny are your tanks inside or out.  I'm with TC, if you can I'd heat those things up a bit. 

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