My fish are struggling to breathe and are not swimming so well - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy My fish are struggling to breathe and are not swimming so well

Like the title said my fish are struggling to breathe, and a few of the older ones have died.

I have a 57 gallon, heavily planted(dirt tank) 10 neons, 10 rasbora, 2 large pleco, 3 small algae eaters, 6 oto, 2-betta, 3 tetras, 1-bala shark, 1 dwarf gourami, 20 -ghost shrimp, 3-yoyo loach (4in), 1 clown loach (2in),

The water conditions are:
Nitrate: 200ppm
Nitrite: .5ppm
chlorine: 0
PH:6.8
ammonia:0
Temp: 75
The tank has been setup since July of 2012.

Here is what I did yesterday:

-Pruned some of the plants
-25% water change (Last water change was Sept of 2011)
-Cleaned the canister filter (same way I always do) replaced the 2 blue/white filter media, lightly rinsed the 2 inch foam filter.

The tank was fine last night, this morning my wife calls to tell me the neon's are swimming funny and at the top of the tank gasping for air. few hours later she calls and says a really old 7-8 yr old white cloud has died, and the bala shark (7-8 yr old) is swimming on its side.

the shrimp are fine, the betas are fine, most of the algee eaters are fine. It seams like most of the older fish, neons, and one Chinese algae eater are struggling.


I left work early to try and figure out what was going on, water seemed good from what I tested except for the nitrates. I added a power head and air pump to get some movement and O2 in the water. With in 10 minutes most of the fish seemed to start to relax a little but are still breathing harder than normal.

The power head is big moving 800 gal/h which is way to much water movement but the fish seem to like it.

Any help or ideas would be great.

Thanks


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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 10:10 PM
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Sounds like a mini cycle from cleaning out your filter. Do a large water change with prime until your nitrites are back to zero. You should try to bring your nitrates down anyhow as they are sky high
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 10:14 PM
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You can add H2O2 in emergency situations FYI. And do you inject CO2? And how is your outpipe hitting the water? Everynight I oxygenate my water by lifting my spraybar out of the ater and then I put it down each morning. Also, pay attention to make sure im not over dosing the CO2.

Lastly a power head that moves water from top to bottom or vice-versa is another effective way to oxygenate the water.

Edit: Oh, But could be nitrite/trate spike like lipad suggested.

Last edited by Mirkinator; 05-19-2014 at 10:28 PM. Reason: edit
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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No CO2, I dose with flourish once a month. what is H2O2?


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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 10:18 PM
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I agree your nitrites at .5ppm suggest mini cycle. And your nitrates are sky high. What are your tap water readings? You might of put some nastyness in the tank when you did a water change.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Husker13 View Post
No CO2, I dose with flourish once a month. what is H2O2?
Hydrogen peroxide which would help boost oxygen levels if needed. But im sorry i didnt look closely enough at your OP. Nitrates and trites could very well be the issue, but ive had them both that high with little effect on my neons tho. Perhaps another water change will help? Also your dKh and pH could give you a clue as to whether you really do have a high level of CO2 (hence lower level of O2)
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 10:55 PM
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Sounds like a mini cycle. As others have pointed out, your nitrites need to be down to 0 and your nitrates are crazy high. How often do you clean your filter and why did you toss the old pads? When you rinse the foam pad are you doing it with tank water or tap?


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 11:08 PM
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Three years is much too long to go without a water change. I'm sure you had to add make-up water several times during that period, which was increasing the hardness of the water each time. And, of course, the nitrate level would be rising too, unless your plants were growing very fast and using up the nitrates. A water change every month or two is a much better idea. And, that means a 50% or so water change.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-19-2014, 11:20 PM
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i would imagine the .5 nitrites plus the 200 nitrates are your problem. do wc's and get things back to normal. and I would advise you to do monthly wc at minimum.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-20-2014, 03:04 AM
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This doesn't get to the root cause, but it's something I thought I'd pass on in situations of poor oxygen content. If you normally use tap water, do a water change but fill your bucket with water from the shower head, preferably one that is high up on the wall so the water has to travel the five feet or so through the air into the bucket. Between the spray, travelling through the air, and splashing around in the bucket you'll end up with a bucket full of highly oxygenated water. Add your normal water conditioners and fill your tank. You should see some fast results in the actions of your fish as you've just added a ton of oxygen. I've done this in emergencies and saved quite a few fish that way.

But as others have said, you need to address the why of the problem and I think Hoppy is on target with his suggestions for your new water change schedule. Perhaps your substrate went anaerobic, got stirred up, and poisoned things a bit from your cleaning?
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-20-2014, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Chris_Produces View Post
Sounds like a mini cycle. As others have pointed out, your nitrites need to be down to 0 and your nitrates are crazy high. How often do you clean your filter and why did you toss the old pads? When you rinse the foam pad are you doing it with tank water or tap?
I clean my filter about every 3 months. I have always tossed the old pads, figured I have enough bacteria in the dirt and the 2" foam pad. I rinsed the foam pad with tap water. When I set this tank up it never "cycled" because of the dirt, I put about 30 fish in within a week and never lost one. This is the first time I have lost a fish in this tank, besides when they jump out.


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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-20-2014, 03:15 AM Thread Starter
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I left the power head running for 3 hours with 2 air hoses jammed into it, it put a ton of air into the tank. The fish all responded quickly and are no longer breathing hard.

I went ahead and did a 50% water change

The nitrite dropped to 0 (I am using strips so they are not supper accurate)

nitrates dropped to 50

hopefully the levels will stay down during the night. I do not have anything that will measure oxygen or CO2.


I will research tonight anaerobic soil conditions.

Thanks for the help!


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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-20-2014, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirkinator View Post
Hydrogen peroxide which would help boost oxygen levels if needed. But im sorry i didnt look closely enough at your OP. Nitrates and trites could very well be the issue, but ive had them both that high with little effect on my neons tho. Perhaps another water change will help? Also your dKh and pH could give you a clue as to whether you really do have a high level of CO2 (hence lower level of O2)
I feel a little silly H202= hydrogen peroxide... duhh I was thinking some brand name of aquarium product....


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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-20-2014, 03:19 AM
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In the future don't rinse the foam with tap water. Rinse it in tank water. The chlorine in the tap water kills bacteria.

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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-20-2014, 03:57 AM
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It sounds to me like your fish are suffering from "old tank syndrome." This happens when someone does no water changes, only top-ups, for months or years and then suddenly does a significant water change. What is coming out of the tap is so different from the water in the tank that your fish cannot handle it. Then, you get a death or two, and the scene is set for a mini-cycle. Ammonia and nitrite spikes lead to more deaths, and next thing you know, the tank is spiraling. (Especially if you knock back the filter bacteria by throwing out media, rinsing with tap water, etc.)

Do not respond by suddenly doing a bunch of big water changes. Instead, do a long series of very small ones over the next several weeks. Dose, but don't overdose, with Prime daily, if you must, to lock up ammonia. (It's actually a temporary conversion of ammonia from one form to another. This helps prevent injury to fish, but doesn't keep plants and filter bacteria from utilizing the ammonia.) Add an airline/bubbler to increase oxygenation. Using Seachem Stability can help (re)build the filter bacteria. The nitrates will slowly come down, TDS will drop, etc. and your fish should easily handle the slowly improving conditions.

Once the tank is stable, please start doing regular water changes, preferably weekly.

Btw, fish jumping out of tank is often a sign of poor water quality. I suggest that you also test your water frequently until you know, absolutely, that levels are good, fish are healthy, etc.

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