Question on surface agitation and oxygen levels (video linked) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-13-2014, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Question on surface agitation and oxygen levels (video linked)

Hi everyone,
I posted a few weeks back that I was having an issue with fish breathing a bit hard. I thought perhaps they had gill flukes, but after weeks with no deaths, consistent PraziPro treatments, and heavy water changes, I'm thinking parasites are not the problem... but the heavy breathing persists with some fish. Can you check out the video I made on youtube and let me know if my filtration is inadequate or if I'm not positioning the output in such a way that there is enough surface agitation? (note that the fish aren't really breathing hard in this video because my pump was on before)

Here are some notes:
- Tank is 90 gallons
- I am not running CO2
- Running a Fluval 406
- I do a 30% W/C every week
- My levels are always at 0, pH about neutral
- nitrates never seem to go above 5ppm, or whatever the second color corresponds to on the API test chart (can't recall, but I think it is 5ppm)
- Water temperature around 79
- As you can see, lots of live plants
- I do not have a lid on my tank, so gas exchange should be fine
- My stock is listed in the Youtube video description
- I have 4 more Boesemani in a hospital tank with plenty of O2 until I figure this out, as they were particularly affected. The remaining Boesemani is spending a lot of time in the flow of the filter output.

I just set up a Whisper 100 air pump today and it is way too strong, even though this is a 90G tank. I did note that the fish WERE NOT breathing as hard after I ran it for awhile. Could it really be that there's not enough oxygen in my tank? Should I bring my filter output up so that there is more surface disruption? I am going to exchange the pump for a smaller size that won't be so powerful, regardless.

PS - sorry for the terrible and creepy sounding narration in this video, I'll do a better job next time


Last edited by mattjm20; 01-13-2014 at 06:49 PM. Reason: more information
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-13-2014, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Bump! 80 views but no opinions

I came downstairs this AM before work and almost all of the fish were near the surface. I assume the problem was amplified by my plants respiring CO2 overnight. I turned on the air pump and adjusted the filter output to be closer to the surface (more agitation) and in the brief ten minutes before I left they started acting more normally.

I guess my surprise/uncertainty about this stems from always having HOB filters in the past that disrupted the surface, so I'm not used to my Fluval's output. Is this all crazy talk?

Thanks so much in advance for any replies.

(Again, I'm not running CO2, no lid on my tank, and my ammonia and nitrite levels are 0)
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-13-2014, 06:03 PM
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I just looked at the video and it appears that you have normal surface agitation without the air pump running but you may be able to point the filter output up a bit more to increase it.

You don't mention what brand & model filter you are running so that may be helpful to know.

How long has the tank been set up?

You also don't mention what the nitrate reading is. Can you test for it?

You could also continue to run the air pump but use valves to regulate the flow so it isn't full blast. If you notice that the issue with the fish being stressed is mostly in the morning, you can set the air pump on a timer so that it will come on before the lights come on or you can run it at reduced flow during the night.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-13-2014, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry - this was in the youtube description but not my post. I run a Fluval 406, which I know is just "adequate" for a tank of this size. I plant to add a second filter at some point but that's another question altogether (feel free to recommend). With the way the fluval attaches to the back of the tank, I'm not sure how I can point it up but I did move it up so that it is closer to the surface.

The tank has been set up since November. I completed a fishless cycle in the first 3-4 weeks and added fish slowly after that to get to this point.

Nitrates are very low -- it is hard for me to tell exactly on my API test kit, but it looks like 5ppm, the second color on the color chart. Definitely never above 10ppm. Also I just did a W/C yesterday so it should be fine at the moment.

***My big question*** how do I add a regulator to the air pump? Can you include a link to a part? I assume you don't mean a regulator like on a CO2 set up, correct?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-13-2014, 07:08 PM
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What are your co2 levels? Do you run a drop checker to confirm levels? I think easiest fix is to lower your co2.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-13-2014, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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I don't run CO2 at all that's part of the reason why this is so confusing

Last edited by mattjm20; 01-13-2014 at 08:02 PM. Reason: more info
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