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Help with Angelfish

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Hello all!

I'm new here, so let me start by telling you all about my aquarium experience. I've had aquariums from time to time throughout my life. Mostly as a kid, when I was really ignorant to how much actually goes into keeping fish and plants. We had a 29 gallon tank growing up which has made it's way back to me after being in my parents attic for years. I've been having it for about a year and a half now. At first I had it set up with Neon Tetras and Tiger Barbs. Then, in March of this year, my house flooded from a very bad storm (100 year storm). I lost just about everything, except for the tank and hood. I gave all of the fish to a friend who still has most of them thriving in his 55 gallon.

After most of the house was taken care of, I started putting the tank back together. I actually made some upgrades. I bought an Eheim classic 250 canister filter, added a better heater, and bought a UV sterilizer (which I didn't start using right away cause I was told it could slow down the cycle). I added 2 cheap goldfish to cycle the tank and kept them in there for a couple of months. I never really saw any rise in Nitrites or Nitrates. After another month my nitrites were still 0 and the nitrates were about 20 ppm. I assumed my tank had cycled silently because of the plants. I removed the goldfish and put them in my 10 gallon hospital tank in order to cycle it.

So, I started stocking the 29 gallon. I added 4 black marble angelfish and 2 dwarf gourami. I kept a close eye on my water properties. One thing to note here is I asked my LFS what their water properties were in order to make sure mine were at least close in order to not stress the fish too much. Their water was pretty much identical since they used city tap water like me. PH 7.5, GH 150 ppm, KH 120-180 ppm. I was expecting a spike in nitrites and nitrates after adding 6 fish, so I watched closely and have been doing weekly 25% water changes. The nitrites and nitrates have gone unchanged.

Here's where I get to an actual question. I've noticed that all of my fish seem to be hanging around the surface of the tank. A couple of the angels seem to be "eating air" from the surface of the tank. This has just started going on in the past week. They are still vigorously feeding every time I drop some flake in the tank, but it doesn't seem normal to me.

My research has led me to 2 possibilities (unless there are more I'm unaware of).

1. Ammonia
2. Gill Flukes

So, I assumed that the nitrite and nitrate were the "ammonia" that I was reading on the test strip. I was apparently wrong. So, I'm gonna pick up an ammonia test kit after work to see what's what. I'm wondering if my tank never truly cycled.

Once I get the ammonia reading, I'll post it. Until then, I was wondering if any of the more experienced aquariasts might have some wisdom to pass down.
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"The nitrites and nitrates have gone unchanged."
If during a weeks time I saw no change in nitrates I would question the test being valid with that stocking. If there is enough ammonia in the water to have burned the gills it's a bad day.
Any air supplied to the tank?

welcome to the forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, I have an air pump with a bubble stone in the tank. I did a 50% water change last night in case the ammonia was getting too high. I'm anxious to get home and test the water for it because its racking my brain here at work. I really don't wanna lose my fish.
 

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Low oxygen level is another reason for fish piping (gulping air at the surface).
Can you clarify the filter model you have? I thought the Eheims all had 4 digit numbers.

While Gouramis and Angels come from water that is slow moving, you still might need to increase the water movement in the tank.
You can do this with a bubbler or power head.
In a planted tank the plants might be using more of the oxygen during the night, so the fish would be most stressed right before the light comes on.
Ammonia can burn the gills, and parasites can interfere with the gills. Columnaris can also attack the gills. If this was the problem, though, I would expect a lot more symptoms that just piping.

Use the fishless cycle, not fish.
 

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I can't be sure, but It sounds to me like the tank has cycled properly. If the tank was not cycled, you would not be reading 20 ppm of Nitrates. That reading shows that the bacteria are present to transform the Ammonia to Nitrite and then to nitrate.

It could also be a lack of gas exchange. How is your water flow? If possible, increase your surface agitation by pointing the outflow of your canister toward the surface more. You should have at least a ripple effect on the surface of the water. You can also put an airstone in the tank (connected to an air pump of course) and see if they improve. You should see some improvement within an hour or two. If nothing changes then it may be one of the other things you already mentioned.
 

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Welcome.

I'd say that the Nitrates not changing is probably a bad sign... I think you're on the right track in checking the ammonia. In fact, I tend to check ammonia before nitrite... ammonia is the one that does the really quick killing.

How often are they doing it? Do they seem to be breathing heavily? A few of my angels will go up to the surface every once in a while to take a little "sip." It isn't all of them, they don't seem to be breathing heavily otherwise, so I haven't worried about it.

A few overall thoughts:

What age are the angels? If they are dime/nickle size, you're probably okay for now, but they will get cramped in there pretty quickly. Honestly, I wouldn't do more than 2 adult angels in a 29.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"How often are they doing it? Do they seem to be breathing heavily? A few of my angels will go up to the surface every once in a while to take a little "sip." It isn't all of them, they don't seem to be breathing heavily otherwise, so I haven't worried about it."

One if them is doing it more often than the rest. One other angel is also doing it on occasion. They seem to be breathing normally, but I'm not quite sure what "normal" breathing is for them to be honest.

"What age are the angels? If they are dime/nickle size, you're probably okay for now, but they will get cramped in there pretty quickly. Honestly, I wouldn't do more than 2 adult angels in a 29."

They are a little bigger than that. I'm in the process of setting up a 120 gallon that was given to me from my brother. It'll probably be quite a few months before I can have that one set up. I'd like to try breeding some Angels eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, so I purchased a much better test kit than the strips I were using. I'm getting a reading of 0 ppm for ammonia, 0 ppm for nitrite, and 5 ppm for nitrate.

As mentioned before, I have a bubble stone and air pump in the tank. I followed the suggestion of lpsouth1978 and angled the outflow of the filter to create more surface agitation. If they appear to get worse, then I guess a parasite might be the culprit?

Or maybe (like my wife said) I'm just freaking out over nothing?
 

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That filter is not generating enough water movement. Perhaps with the other equipment it is better, and moving the outlet so the surface ripples is good.

I would not use that filter on anything larger than about a 10 gallon tank.

Yes, the way you suggested is right. See if the behavior gets better within 24 hours (and it should happen faster).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Really? It's rated for 66 gallons, has a pump output of 116 gph, and seems to be moving the water quite a bit. I notice the fish sort of fighting the current most of the time. I actually thought it was too much at first.

I'm not doubting you, I just don't want to overkill.
 

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I think you want over kill in a planted tank :) 10x overkill, so I've read.

You want nitrate in your tank, it is proof, if you will, that your tank has cycled. (ammonia --> nitrite --> nitrate). In other words, I think your tank is cycled.

I've noticed my angels eating air, and I worry about the oxygen levels, where the other fish never come up to the surface. Since they only do it occasionally, I'm not too worried. If the fish never leave the surface and are constantly gasping, I'd worry. I think that's just their behavior. Also I believe Gouramis are top level swimmers.. that they prefer to hang out at the top of the tank. My neighbor has one of those and every time I see it it's at the top of the tank. Not gasping, just swimming about.

I'm not sure that anything is wrong with your tank. Although its good that you're making sure. Shows that you care :)

I'm not VERY experienced, just my 2 cents. Maybe someone else can offer more insight but it seems to me everythings fine.
 

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That is way too many fish for a 29 gallon. Those angels are going to get huge.
To be quite honest it depends on the size of the tank, height length and width, filtration and how large the bio load is in the tank. Also, read over what you type before you type and think about if you would say that to that person if you truely met them in real life. I dont think you would say that like you did straight to their face.
 

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Huge is a relative term. I think of angelfish as some of the smaller fish I keep.

To get more water movement to get better gas exchange, there are several ways to go about it that don't require changing the filter.
Simple air pumps and airstones will move water cheaply but I find them a nuisance due to noise and airstones stopping up too often. For me, the better solution is adjusting the spraybar on the existing filter or next in line would be adding a nice quiet powerhead. In that size tank, a powerhead can pull water from the bottom and move it all the way to the top. Cheap and easy with little noise or maintenance needed.
 

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Here's something I've seen my angels do that at first took me time to figure out what they were doing!! You're running an air stone or bubbler, correct? My angels, especially when they were tiny babies, would pop the bubbles. It makes a kind of a snapping sound. I thought perhaps it was because they were looking for food and would go up and "bite" the bubbles.

Your tank sounds perfectly cycled. But you are probably going to want to either get a bigger tank for those angels or weed some of them out when they start pairing off. You'll get a lot of aggression! :)
 

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That is way too many fish for a 29 gallon. Those angels are going to get huge.

I've successfully kept WAY more fish than that in standard 29s over the years. Most of the time with HOB filtration. Some of the time with REALLY lax maintenance when I didn't know any better.


Another possible culprit could be ich. It gets into the gills LONG before the white spots appear on the body of the fish...


Tommy
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Another possible culprit could be ich. It gets into the gills LONG before the white spots appear on the body of the fish...


Tommy
I actually noticed one small white spot (looked like a small pustule) on the ventral fin of the one that was piping at the surface. I can't conclude that it is ich, but I have begun treating them with quick cure just to be safe. After a couple of days, they all seem to be doing better. The one white spot is gone. In addition to the medication, I increased the air through the stone and turned up the outlet of the filter to create more surface agitation. I'll keep treating them with the quick cure for a week to be sure it does the job.

Thanks to everyone for all of the suggestions. I intend to learn a lot on here.

For those that say my tank is too small for angelfish... Well, the angelfish aren't that big right now, and you must have read over the part where I mentioned that I'm currently setting up a 120 gallon tank for them. I'm sure ill be back for advice on that one.

Thanks again everyone!
 

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I hope you are also up on the different stages of ich and how important it is to not stop too soon. Seeing the spot and then it is gone can lead us to think it is cured but knowing the different stages of ich can tell us different. The single spot you saw may just have moved on to a stage where we don't see it. You are correct in keeping after it and watching carefully. The last outbreak I had, one might have thought they were changing sweaters as the ich moved and changed. Sometimes it does not seem to have a rational explanation for how it progresses.
 
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