Cumbrian aquarists hit by mystery tank wipe-outs

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Three Cumbrian fishkeepers have been left with empty tanks after being hit by a series of unexplained fish deaths.

The aquarists, all from the small town of Millom in the south west of the county reported tank wipe-outs on the same day after carrying out water changes on their tanks.

First hit was Tony Stewart, who started losing fish on March 3, shortly after completing his water change. Mr. Stewart, who had not lost a single fish in the previous 12 months, reported losing fish in ones and twos every hour after the water change until his entire stock was gone. The tank became cloudy, and despite getting some new fish since and using various water treatments he says the cloudy water remains a problem.

On the same day Russell Townsend, owner of a local cafe and a fishkeeper of 20 years experience also lost the entire contents of his tank after carrying out his weekly water change, while another Millom resident, Keith Clarke woke to find all 20 of his fish dead on the aquarium's surface the next morning, again after a partial water change.

It is not known if any of the fishkeepers involved used water conditioners before adding the water.

Practical Fishkeeping contacted the town's water supplier, United Utilities and spoke to Polly Rourke, press officer for the Cumbria area to see if there had been a problem with tapwater quality on the day in question. She confirmed that there were no water quality issues recorded for Millom around that time and that no work was being carried out by the supplier in the area. She was also able to confirm that the company doesn't use chloramine in the treatment of tapwater in this region and went on to reassure customers that there has been no change to the normal high standard of water they receive.

Practical Fishkeeping recommends always treating tapwater before use in aquariums as it is supplied primarily for human consumption, not for fishkeeping.

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