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Are they gasping at the water surface?

If there is plenty of surface agitation, then their gills may have been harmed by ammonia or nitrites. Check ammonia and nitrites.
If surface agitation is minimal, there just may not be enough dissolved oxygen or you are injecting too much co2.

Either way, do a water change as it would remove dangerous levels of ammonia, nitrite or co2, and add in more dissolved oxygen, so that would provide a quick temporary "fix" until you can address the actual cause of the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What are water parameters? Do you have any surface agitation for gas exchange? May be going through cycle and have nitrite or ammonia


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Are they gasping at the water surface?

If there is plenty of surface agitation, then their gills may have been harmed by ammonia or nitrites. Check ammonia and nitrites.
If surface agitation is minimal, there just may not be enough dissolved oxygen or you are injecting too much co2.

Either way, do a water change as it would remove dangerous levels of ammonia, nitrite or co2, and add in more dissolved oxygen, so that would provide a quick temporary "fix" until you can address the actual cause of the issue.

Jeez I hope they haven't been permanently hurt by something. And no they aren't at the surface but I have never seen them go to the surface. I took a measurement last week when I added them and I think it might not have been 100% cycled. Because there was a little ammonia and nitrite in it. I mean both <1, probably around .5. But today it was ~0 ammonia, ~0 nitrite, nitrates ~15-20. Just a barely noticable hue off the 0 color on my API chart. PH ~7. Temp ~75.

The CO2 level will be really low because I have been insanely ill for the last week. So I haven't been running my lights or CO2 for about 5 days.

I'm not sure how to gauge the surface agitation as far as normal -- so here is a video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO2hK06nnr4


I was getting ready to do a water change today anyway cause it's been 1 week since I added them.
 

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You've got enough agitation for dissolved oxygen. CO2 shouldn't be a problem either.

Other possibilities for fish rapidly breathing are gill flukes/gill disease (or any other microorganisms that can damage gill tissue, such as ich). You would need some med for treatment if this was the case.

Damage to the gill tissue from higher ammonia levels is still a possibility. Nitrites can deprive blood cells from carrying oxygen (which is nicknamed Brown Blood/Gill Disease), so the fish breathes more rapidly to try and get more oxygen. Depending on the extent of damage, fish can still recover.

They could just be breathing rapidly simply due to stress of being in a new tank/environment (scary/stressful to them) and they would just need some time to settle down. Or there are other stressors (not enough hiding areas, too bright light, scared of you, etc) that cause them to panic and increase heart and respiration rates. Though, a weeks time they should already be fairly settled in and not so stressed.

If you can, I would request filming the behavior and showing us so we can see if there is something wrong or if it is just normal and nothing to worry about.
Any other symptoms? (odd swimming, darting, not eating, staying still, faded color, flashing/rubbing/scratching themselves against objects, etc)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You've got enough agitation for dissolved oxygen. CO2 shouldn't be a problem either.

Other possibilities for fish rapidly breathing are gill flukes/gill disease (or any other microorganisms that can damage gill tissue, such as ich). You would need some med for treatment if this was the case.

Damage to the gill tissue from higher ammonia levels is still a possibility. Nitrites can deprive blood cells from carrying oxygen (which is nicknamed Brown Blood/Gill Disease), so the fish breathes more rapidly to try and get more oxygen. Depending on the extent of damage, fish can still recover.

They could just be breathing rapidly simply due to stress of being in a new tank/environment (scary/stressful to them) and they would just need some time to settle down. Or there are other stressors (not enough hiding areas, too bright light, scared of you, etc) that cause them to panic and increase heart and respiration rates. Though, a weeks time they should already be fairly settled in and not so stressed.

If you can, I would request filming the behavior and showing us so we can see if there is something wrong or if it is just normal and nothing to worry about.
Any other symptoms? (odd swimming, darting, not eating, staying still, faded color, flashing/rubbing/scratching themselves against objects, etc)
here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3e3fW8cVws

When I got up this morning I noticed a couple of them breathing much faster than they have been before...really fast (I got a bit of this on the video).

I did a ~30% water change today. The video is an hour after the water change. No changes so far.
 

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Yeah, its hard to recommend anything short of adding a few bottles of aerated distilled O2 to improve conditions for them
We would normally start treatment for that with methylene blue and salt, both not recommended with cardinals.
 

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Maybe but that could be from injuries to gills too or nitrite or ammonia poisoning, which is why one normally use the products I mentioned.
Water needs to go pretty rancid for things to suffocate in it.
Maybe look up if there are safe levels for your species. I know one can get away with half doses on some species of tetras and some can handle a bit of salt for a while.

What can I add to make nitrite less toxic to the fish?
Aquarium salt (sodium chloride) has long been used as an aid to reducing the toxicity of nitrite, because it has been shown to prevent methaemoglobinemia under certain conditions.

Some fishkeepers don't like using salt, but in my experience, when used at the correct dosage, it's never caused problems for any fish, even stereotypically salt-intolerant species. A fairly low level of salt can have a significant effect on reducing the toxicity of nitrite, so you don't need to add very much.

Research suggests a 10:1 dose (just 10mg/l of salt per 1mg/l nitrite) is effective for most freshwater species. The addition of salt for controlling disease or osmoregulatory problems does need higher doses!
Frequently asked questions on nitrite | Features | Practical Fishkeeping


Methylene blue increases O2 levels in the blood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Maybe but that could be from injuries to gills too or nitrite or ammonia poisoning, which is why one normally use the products I mentioned.
Water needs to go pretty rancid for things to suffocate in it.
Maybe look up if there are safe levels for your species. I know one can get away with half doses on some species of tetras and some can handle a bit of salt for a while.

Frequently asked questions on nitrite | Features | Practical Fishkeeping


Methylene blue increases O2 levels in the blood.
So if my nitrite levels are currently 0 what would be the point of adding salt?

Would getting an airstone help?
 

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The point is that if it was high recently they may suffer from poisoning.
Just because I give you a clean bowl of porridge doesn't mean you won't fall ill from the poisoned one you had before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The point is that if it was high recently they may suffer from poisoning.
Just because I give you a clean bowl of porridge doesn't mean you won't fall ill from the poisoned one you had before.
Alright gotcha... So you think the first thing I ought to do it get some aquarium salt and add the dosage from that FAQ?
 

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Do you know that what you're seeing is not the normal tetra demeanor? They tend to be a little more jerky and frenetic in their motions and move their pectoral fins at the same time as their mouths. I always found it a part of their charm.

If your params look okay, they're not gasping at the surface, and no other clear signs of distress, I would just keep observing instead of rushing to treat something that may not exist and may just be because you care a lot and want to make sure they're okay. Call it new tank parent syndrome?
 

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If a fish's fins are fully extended, it is normally not feeling too bad.
The fish in the video seem to act normal for tetras. Even zebrafish sometimes do the biting at invisible things in the water bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So I just sat and really looked closely for a while. It seems that most of them are breathing fast but I'll look back and they will be breathing relatively normally. But there is one who is breathing big gasps of air as fast as it can and hasn't stopped.

The only thing different I could notice is that it seemed to have a slightly swollen stomach. Here is a picture of that one. It is also behaving different. straying off from the pack more often than any of the others.

 

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Hm that swollen stomach def seems weird. I had that with some black neons at one point and they ultimately succumbed, not sure if that was the direct cause but it also didn't affect the rest of the school.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hm that swollen stomach def seems weird. I had that with some black neons at one point and they ultimately succumbed, not sure if that was the direct cause but it also didn't affect the rest of the school.
Also you asked about a video, I posted a longer video of them on the last page of the thread (a little ways down) take a look.
 
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