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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Need some help ASAP!

Hey guys,

Three days over the past week I find most of my fish gulping air from the top and all the fish gasping (as fish do).

Here's a run down of what happened:

1st day I find them was immediately after a water change + excel dose. I figured I accidentally (somehow though not clear how) overdosed and didn't leave the lights on long enough for the extra dose.

It was too late for water change so instead I left the lights on and put my spray bar so that it generated a considerable amount of water agitation. Everything goes back to normal within 30 mins.

2nd time is two days after. I figured the excel was used up. Redosed my normal amount. Next day, fish are gulping for air. 50% water change this time. Everything immediately goes back to normal. THis time I figure I should have performed a water change and that I just compounded the original overdose.

Today (2 days later), same thing again and I stopped dosing Excel from the last time. 50% water change, everything back to normal.

No fauna loss whatsoever.

The only thing I can think of is the 1 inch of Miracle Grow Organic Mix on one side of the tank leeching something into my tank. I have that capped with about 1.5" of Eco-Complete and on the right side I have nearly 5" of Eco-complete (mountainscape). I was advised to stay within 1 to 1.5" of MG organic mix otherwise I risk it goes anaerobic. Maybe it did?

I believe that I am a bit overstocked. 20G half moon with the following fauna:

8 Harlequin Rasboras
6 Neon Tetras
5 Amano Shrimp
2 Bubble Rams
5 Cory cats (all very small atm)
2 bumble bee gobys
1 male guppy
1 dwarf puffer
2 African dwarf frogs

This tank has been stable and everything was going perfectly over the last 2 months.


Eheim 2215
No CO2
Low light


Just need some thoughts so i don't have to keep doing 50% water changes every other day! If this keeps up I'm simply going to remove the MG Organic mix. I can't understand what else it may be.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 01:31 AM
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See if the same thing happens tomorrow after you stop dosing excel. It dose that if you overdose.


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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick reply mistergreen.

Between the 2nd and third time this happened, I had stopped dosing Excel (basically stopped dosing after the 2nd time it had happened).

So the conditions of the tank when this happened today were 50% water change w/o any dosing. Maybe excel was still around after the 50% wc.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 06:19 PM
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why would you want to change 50% the water so often?
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnny313 View Post
why would you want to change 50% the water so often?
Because his fish are gasping for air. You're tank is overstocked and mix of some fish is not good. Puffers are not community fish.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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Psalm thanks for your input.

I actually had two dwarf puffers. I have a friend with a DP tank and I "borrowed" two from his tank. You are right, generally speaking, they are not community fish. One had to be removed as he started showing signs of unprovoked aggression. The second one, however, has fit in quite well...don't even approach other fish. I have some experience with them and kept a close eye on both. I tried it out only because I knew they had a home to go back to if things didn't work out.

That being said, I posted a similar post in the Ferts section. I realize that I am overstocked but its been at this capacity for nearly two months with 0 problems.

This cropped up just this past week. My suspicion is on the MG Potting Soil. Only one small plant is currently buried in the substrate so its mainly going unused and may be releasing urea (according to some advice from Hoppy).

Nevertheless, I will remove some fish and also the MG potting soil and see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

Thanks.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 09:57 PM
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Question, why fert if you are overstocked? Have you tested the water to see if you really need to do this?
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:15 PM
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If you have well water it could be loaded with co2. My old well water would literally fiz. When ever I did a water change straight from the tap my fish would gasp. After I figured it out I filled buckets and ran an airstone in the buckets for an hour or so.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

Student: The only thing I add is CO2 and really only to promote growth in the needle leaf java fern and ferns. Again, dosing wasn't a problem until a week ago. I've been dosing for about 2 months now.

Beeps: Thanks for the heads up. We don't get well water here though so I think I'm ok there.


After water changes, the fish act normal..don't seem to be pumping their mouths constantly.

I just arrived home and the fish seem to be doing ok (1 day after wc). Though most are making that gasping action with their mouths, they're otherwise behaving normally (schooling, taking to where they normally hide out - none staying at the surface).

I will add this: Last night after my last wc, they started acting abnormally within 2-3 hours. Even though I am overstocked, would it really take only a couple hours to show spikes? This makes me believe that something else is the matter.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 01:28 AM
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What are your water parameters? I think you need to add that information to get a picture of what is going on. I'm going to guess you may have high nitrates.

How long has the tank been set up?
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 01:54 AM
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Yeah, that is a lot for a 20G tank. Check for ammonia in your tank. It burns their gills and low O2 could be the problem. The water changes helped.


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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 04:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. I had checked the levels right before this onset. Tank has been up for 2 months +. All levels read really well up until I added my last fish (1 DP) after which I had not tested water parameters. I did not change the amount of food by much. The only thing is that Ammonia always read at some low point...even my tap doesn't read 0 ppm (thats another problem....I do dose Prime though with every wc).

Just got back from Petsmart with a new test kit (ran out). Here are my readings:

Ammonia 0.5 ppm (same reading as tap water)
Nitrites 0 ppm
Nitrates 0-20 ppm

I never really tested for PH, GH and KH and these are probably not relevant to this discussion but I'll include them anyways (I was a bit surprised)

pH ~ 8.4 (highest color chart rating)
kH ~ 300 ppm
gH ~ 300 ppm

Both KH and GH looked maxed out on the color chart. I ran two tests for all parameters.

The ammonia is a real big surprise for me - this is an established tank and up until the DP, readings were all 0 apart from 0-20 ppm for Nitrate.

Fish right now are behaving normal. A few making gulping actions but all doing what they normally do - so they don't look too stressed.

Last thing I'll add:

Last night I had to clean out my Eheim 2215 to remove 2 chili rasboras that yet again found their way in but also to add some poly-fil that I picked up. I did not wash any of the media, retained as much of the old water I could and did the work as quick as possible. Even though the ammonia reading is par with my tap water, perhaps this had some part to play in it as well. I really shouldn't have done the filter change during this problem - a mistake.


I also don't notice any smell coming from the tank so I think I can rule out the MG organic mix going anaerobic.

Perhaps you guys are right, it is low oxygen levels? Whenever I introduce some water agitation and small bubbles, the situation seems to go away. Of course water changes have the same affect....
Thanks again for your help with this problem.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Do any of you have ammonia in your tap water also? Does Prime pretty much take care of it?
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 05:21 PM
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I would call your water company and ask about the ammonia or get their water quality report. If there is any in your tap water, I seriously doubt there is enough to register on a liquid test kit....

To your question, yes, if there is ammonia in the tank Prime will bind it.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply max.

I tested the aquarium and the tap water (many times now since I've set up the tank) and I get almost exactly (if not exactly) the same coloration on the test strip.

That coloration most closely identifies with 0.5ppm...it may be a tiny shade lighter. I will call the water company but if what you say is true then I can't explain why the readings are the same. (Maybe I should have bought the liquid test kits - first time using these strips but I was in a hurry).

Since I do dose Prime every WC, then its safe to assume that any ammonia in the water is binded away. This excess ammonia reading I'm getting days after my WC then must be due to overstocking/overfeeding.

I will be fasting the fish a couple of days so as not to introduce more ammonia into the tank...then I'll re-test and go from there.

So far the fish seem ok...still the gulping but no unusual behavior from any of the inhabitants. I will be moving some of the fish out tonight or early tomorrow - as soon as I get a 10G from the store.
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