Fish gasping after water change? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2008, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
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Question Fish gasping after water change?

Hi everyone! I'm new here (have lurked for a while though) and I have a rather serious question. My tank has been set up for almost a year.

Tank specs: (Low Tech)
55 gallon
XP3 filter
Coralife Aqualight 130w
Medium to heavily planted
Fish: discus (1 - was a rescue... I'm working on getting him a buddy), rainbows (2), blue ram (1), tetras (9), cory cats (3), oto cats (3)
CO2 is Flourish Excel 2x a week

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5
pH 6.2
Temp 80.9F

Because of the Discus I stay on top of my weekly water changes (about 45%). A few weeks ago I noticed that when I refilled the tank I got all of these little bubbles on the side of the tank, in the water, on the plants, and even on the fish! I watched them for a while and everything seemed well. Turned off the lights for the night. In the morning when I got home from work (I work nights) I found all of the fish at the surface gasping for air! I took water samples to test and immediately did a 50% water change. Did not get as many of the little bubbles and all the fish recovered quickly. The tests read as normal...
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 5
pH 6.2

All was well until my water change on Sunday. Changed 45% again and noticed the little bubbles were forming again. Not as badly as the first time but still there. All the fish seemed fine at the time. Came back from work and turned on the lights and the fish all seemed distressed. No gasping at the surface but all breathing rapidly and looking uneasy. Took water samples again and did another water change. Fish recovered quickly again. Tests were normal.

This has never happened before these few times. I use Prime as a water conditioner and use a Python to refill. I changed the spraybar on the filter to point upwards to increase surface agitation thinking it might have something to do with oxygen depletion. All of the tests have stayed normal, no spikes. I can't figure out what's wrong! I don't want to hurt my fish... they're my babies!

Thanks for any help you can give!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2008, 12:30 PM
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Start with the obvious, increase surface agitation by lightly breaking the water surface for a few days or after the scenario that has been causing the symptom.
Sounds like an 02 issue.
How much Excel do you actually dose?

Craig

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2008, 12:54 PM
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Myself, I have found that my Golden WCMM are very sensitive to Prime when I'd change their water. It is very strong stuff! I am now very careful to understand the dosing and use a medicine droper to properly measure the dose.

Although it could be something entirely different; and I do agree w/ Craig that it seems to be related to oxygen being limited. Perhaps two things combined? While I don't understand the chemistry, I think too much Prime can also cause oxygen problems. Here's a link to where a Seachem rep states that all conditioners have reducing properties:
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...stay-tank.html

Last edited by Rod Hay; 02-21-2008 at 03:05 AM.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-20-2008, 02:19 PM
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My tank had what sounds like the same problem a while back. I tried a number of things. The problem went away when I started injecting O2 into my tank after lights outs via a small air pump (bought one of those AM/PM outlets so my air comes on when my CO2 goes off and vice versa). Increased surface agitation could accomplish the same thing. You might also try doing water changes earlier in the day so that pearling plants later in the light cycle could help with the O2 levels.

I figured if my tank was that close to being O2 depleted, that the air pump was the best alternative.

Good luck,
Brian.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2008, 04:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the replies!

I adjusted the spraybar on the filter to ripple the surface of the water and that seems to have helped.

I dose Excel at one capful twice a week (because I don't inject CO2) and I dose the regular Flourish at just under one capful twice a week (not on the same days as the Excel).

Thanks for the heads up on the Prime. I usually try to be really good about measuring the dose but I might add a little more than I need to (since I use a Python to refill you have to dose the whole tank and not just the water you are adding in). I'll be more careful in the future.

I'm going to the LFS on Friday to see if I can't get a small airstone.

Does anyone have any idea exactly what those little bubbles are? I've only seen them recently and like I said I've had this tank for almost a year. It doesn't seem to bubble as much on my other two tanks (2.5 gallon Betta tank and 5.5 gallon shrimp tank) but that might just be because I don't do as big of a water change on those tanks.

Thanks again!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2008, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaos theory View Post
Does anyone have any idea exactly what those little bubbles are?
Well, I can't tell you 'exactly', but the concept is called outgassing. Essentially what happens is as the water runs through your pipes and whatnot on the way to the tank, oxygen and other gases get dissolved/trapped in the running water. Once it gets into your tank and sits there, it starts to 'escape'. So, for folks who state that they have good 'pearling' right after a water change, what they are most likely noticing is the outgassing of the stuff trapped in the 'new' water, not something that the plants are actually producing.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2008, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSS View Post
Well, I can't tell you 'exactly', but the concept is called outgassing. Essentially what happens is as the water runs through your pipes and whatnot on the way to the tank, oxygen and other gases get dissolved/trapped in the running water. Once it gets into your tank and sits there, it starts to 'escape'. So, for folks who state that they have good 'pearling' right after a water change, what they are most likely noticing is the outgassing of the stuff trapped in the 'new' water, not something that the plants are actually producing.

Ahhh thanks for the explanation!

So what it amounts to is that the little bubbles are something bad for the fish? This hasn't happened before this month... I wonder if the city changed something in the water.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2008, 06:03 AM
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Bubbles that come out from the tapwater is not all bad. There may also be oxygen gassing out in the water.

Lots of possible factors that might have caused your fish to gasp near the surface. I am also suspecting some related to oxygen.

Some factors I can think of:
- O2 is very hard to dissolve into water, especially at higher temperatures like for discus.
- You said the fish were gasping when you turned on the lights. High temps, not enough surface agitation to encourage water/air exchange could lead to not enough oxygen at night time. Why? Plants reverse oxygen/CO2 process at night-time, taking in oxygen and releasing co2. Thus fish have less oxygen and more co2 at night-time.
- If everything has been the same, maybe some kind of change in the tapwater parameter.

But since we don't have an oxygen meter to test your water, we can only speculate to some sort of close answer.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2008, 12:45 PM
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How is your PH after the water change ?

Is it possible you are having your PH shoot up and thus causing ammonia to become harmful ? (I realize this contradicts your Ammonia test).
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