As of this moment...
9 of 10 of the lovely little tetras (I bought 5 more the saturday after my fish blogging friday) I had in my tank are dead today. Last night I saw little grainy spots all over them (I knew it was ich), and so I turned up their water temp (gradually) to speed up the parasite life-cycle so I could treat them sooner, and now they've almost all died. I don't give the one remaining much time, either, to be utterly frank.
It was just the tetras. I also have one hapless glassfish (can't bring myself to get companions for it since the only kind you can get have dyes injected into them), and two dwarf gouramis in the tank. Oh yeah, it's a planted tank, too, so that means that treating them will kill off the plants most likely. I'm hoping that since tetras have to be given a half-dose of medicine that it won't be enough to cause the plants to die off entirely. They were just beginning to take off... I was planning on blogging my new and improved tank on Friday.
It's silly I suppose but I feel really awful about it. Those little fish were so sweet. I was their steward, and I failed them. They gave us all a lot of joy to watch them swim around in their little school. I would sit and watch them and wonder at them and their small perfections. Just by being the simple creatures that they are, they were amazing and fascinating, and much bigger than the sum of their tiny selves. Watching them soothed bad days into humdrum and surprisingly gave a sense of peace and continuity to this crazy life.
Some of the newer ones were just babies, and the older ones were about a year old. Ten years is not unheard of for these little fish to live, so I feel really bad. I was careful with their water quality; fed them a varied diet of flakes and brine shrimp and freeze dried worms. They had it good, really, but I think they were just too little to last once the ich got onto them. If there's a cause for the outbreak, the only thing I can think of would be the possibility of a water temperature fluctuation that either stressed the little guys and/or encouraged the ich to grow. It's possible the new fish came with ich waiting in the wings, but really, these things can just happen. Most tanks have some ich in them.
I'd been reading up on treating tetras for ich (and finding out how deadly it is for them) at work when I decided to call home to check on them and see how they were doing. My husband said they weren't doing well and told me 7 of them had died. By the time I got home it had gone up to 9. I debated going ahead and starting treatment on them last night, but thought it'd be better to wait for the spores to detatch before doing anything -- since when they're in that state the microorganism can't really be killed -- but I think the infection itself must've just overwhelmed them.
It's not only the death but also the expense that has me upset. Twenty dollars worth of fish and somewhere around seventy dollars worth of plants down the tubes in a day (and of course we're flat broke and looking at a bunch of bills that are going to make even having Christmas difficult for us this year). If the Dwarf Gouramis got a good series of munches in on their expired tankmates (and it did look like this was the case), that means that now they've actually injested the parasites, so that could mean even more dying (and money lost). My son sees us futzing around the fish tank and doesn't understand what's going on, so we're trying to distract him by moving his focus onto our behemoth goldfish that live in a tank I keep in our home office. I feel bad for him, too, because I know he really loved the little tropical tank. But since he doesn't understand, it's probably a little easier on him than it would be for a regular kid. It's twisted in a way to say that, but it's true. Truth can be one twisted, mean-assed bitch.
Here I was thinking I'd come home and write a full-bore diatribe/testimonial for the beneficial effects of medical marijuana (which helped me get through chemotherapy I am very proud and grateful to say), but instead I have this Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom death diorama going on in my living room...