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gasping/not eating

Discussion in 'Fish for Planted Tanks' started by Trivr, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. Trivr

    Trivr Prolific Poster

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    Hi,

    I've made a ton of changes to my 55g over the last six months and I've been lucky to have had no losses, disease, etc. Now, I have some worrying signs while trying to learn the ropes of a planted tank. My largest fish - an austrailian rainbow- is constantly gulping/breathing rapidly, and my catfish no longer comes out at feeding time. There's no gulping at the surface, just gulping! The remaining 10 fish appear normal.

    All my water parameters are perfect (for non-planted tank): no ammonia, nitrates, nitrites. ph 6.8, GH 120 ppm, temp 78.

    I had pretty much simultaneously reduced airstone to just 6hrs at night and removed tons of floating hornwort, so I thought a lack of o2 may be the problem, but I've since increased flow and turned on the airstone at various times during the day to no apparent improvement.

    I had read that co2 can build up, but it's not clear to me how. My 2l diy co2 does remain on at night with the airstone. I've been adding co2 this way for about 2 months and it usually tests between 10-20ppm. Could this be the problem? If so, how to turn it off at night? Or...if it is a lack of o2, does it take more than a few days to build up? Do fish acclimate to higher levels of o2 then stress when dropped to what would otherwise be adequate levels? I had tons of floating hornwort which I think was providing lots of o2 because it was pearling like crazy! Now it's all gone.

    I've usually done really well with the health of my fish and since my water testing was o.k., my guess is it's a co2/02 issue. Any thoughts/ideas?

    My catfish is a beautiful angelicus, and I'd be willing to change whatever is needed :)

    Thanks!

    Trivr
     
  2. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Water testing kits are very handy and I use them often. However, because of several warnings on this site, I am careful not to put 100% confidence in their results. Therefore, if my fish were gasping, I would do at least a 50% water change no matter what my test results were -- actually, I would do a 70% water change.

    If you have been doing water changes, are you sure that you put enough of your chlorine/chloramine neutralizer in the new water? If you have chloramine in your area, note that it usually requires a double dose for most neutralizers. Chlorine in the water can also cause your fish to gasp for air.

    Also, are you getting water surface movement when your filter is running? If not, you should adjust your filter's output nozzle to get some surface movement. Or, you might need a filter with more gph.

    There are probably a ton of other things that could be wrong, but I wouldn't know what they are.
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Gasping is always a function of CO2/lack of O2(maybe no Chlorine remover etc).

    I've never seen any response due to chemicals other than those two gases that fit gasping behavior.

    Poor O2(often an issue when folks do not add enough circulation or reduce it to save CO2). Too much CO2.

    Both these cause gasping.

    So focus there.
    50% water change will help for the asap issue, but resolve the long term issue as well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. Trivr

    Trivr Prolific Poster

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    I hadn't considered the chlorine remover. Now that I think of it, I did run out of the other bottle and use a different brand (API) this last water change. Hope that's it! I just poured another capful in. I'll give it a day and see what happens. My rainbow doesn't seem to be getting any better or worse.

    Last year, I had o2 issues with this tank, but I had no airstone and 19 fish in it. Now I've got only 12 fish and an airstone on at night with more live plants. Does it sound like I still may not be getting enough 02? Topfin 60 filter.

    Thanks,

    Trivr
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you have slight rippling of the water surface from the water circulation below, you will have enough O2 in the water. I direct my canister filter return so it causes that slight ripple.

    About the chlorine remover dosing. Not all of the different brands require the same dosage. In fact, as far as I know, Prime requires the smallest dosage. So, if you dose a capful of Prime, you will likely need a lot more of any other dechlorinator. That is a good reason to read the directions on the bottle or box.
     
  6. Trivr

    Trivr Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Everyone,

    I've always used plenty of declorinator, and I did use enough when I did the water change 4 days ago. I put in plenty more this afternoon (five hours ago). Still no change is the breathing rate of rainbow fish.

    In order to try to combat algae growth (with 1 wpg light!!), I had reduced photoperiod down to 7 hours, but have since bumped it back up to 10 hours/day plus increased by several hours/day the length of time my airstone was on since I noticed my fish gasping. Today, the airstone was on all afternoon, and still no change in my fish.

    What other conclusion can be reached other than I'm getting too much co2?

    I use 1tsp yeast with 2C sugar. Change about every 2 weeks. Everytime I've tested with test strips, I get between 10-20ppm. I do have lots of driftwood, but most of the tannins are gone, so that shouldn't be an issue affecting the results. I understand it would have given me HIGH false readings anyway.

    I doubt it's just an issue with this one fish as my catfish behavior has changed also. I'm now gonna reduce the effectiveness of my co2 system by bringing it closer to the surface and move it away from the outflow of a small pump I had added. Tomorrow I'll remove it completely. My normal ph without the co2 is 7.2, it's now at 6.8 and I just want a slower transition.

    So much for my planted tank!:(

    Trivr
     
  7. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    This is really strange, Trivr. Most of us with high-tech tanks put in 2 to 3 times as much CO2 as you are putting in, and, for the most part, we do not use an airstone at all. I assume that your Topfin 60 creates surface movement, since it is a HOB type of filter.

    There was an old post here similar to this earlier this year (or late last year) and in the end the guy finally figured out that his dechlorinator was probably expired. I believe he went and got a bottle of Prime and his problems were solved. I searched for the old post, but could not find it ... sorry. I do not remember if his fish were gasping per se, but they were hanging out near the surface of the water. He may have even lost a few.

    I'm still leaning toward a chlorine problem, since the dechlorinator is something that just changed for you. With surface movement, you will have enough O2, almost surely ... and with an airstone running, even doubly so. The one thing I don't know, which someone else might be able to help with: If there was too much chlorine in the water initially, would this fish still have trouble breathing even after you correct the situation? Perhaps his gills get damaged and take a while to recover.

    I guess there is also the possibility that your fish is just getting old and is ready move on.
     
  8. Trivr

    Trivr Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Ted.

    Who knows??? I'm frustrated with it all. Tonight I've noticed that my black beard algae seems to be making quite a comeback. Probably because I bumped my 54 watt t5 up from 7 to 10 hours/day again.

    My rainbow is not that old. He's not quite full grown yet. I bought him probably about 15 months ago. I don't understand why it just seems to be him though!

    Tonight I got a good look at my catfish by luring him out by dropping bloodworms just outside his lair...he looks healthy, I just don't know why he doesn't come out for feeding like he used to.

    My new declorinator is API STRESS COAT+ and it expires 01/2011.

    I have no idea what's causing my algae. There seems to be some big unknowns remaining in the planted tank arena as no one can tell me why I have this problem with only 1 wpg and now my fish appear to be stressed.

    Thanks for your help,

    Trivr
     
  9. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    I had some weird deaths a while back after I switched to Stress Coat. Since then I started using a different water conditioner. I heard that perhaps whatever they put in for the "stress coat" part of the conditioner can add excessive organics to the water. I would switch conditioners just in case.

    Also I'm not sure how accurate the strips are for co2...do you have a drop checker?
     
  10. Trivr

    Trivr Prolific Poster

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    No Carissa, I couldn't find a drop checker, only the strips.

    I did a 50% water change as Tom and Ted suggested and today starts the second day without co2 and my fish eats/swims normally but he's still breathing rapidly. He doesn't look like he's about to die at all!

    I googled my question and the most interesting thing I found is a tidbit that co2 poisoning could occur with inadequate light allowing your plants to use co2. I transitioned from 2wpg light with lots of floating hornwort pearling like crazy to no hornwort with 1 wpg and decreased photoperiod from 10 to 7 hours/day. I made this transition probably within a week or so trying to battle algae. So...thinking my "inadequate" co2 had built up because I'd shocked/starved my plants. I really don't have a clue but this sounds logical don't you think?

    The other stuff I found out there is a parasite of some kind. I had picked up some slate rock from Home Depot. Rinsed it and put a big slab in about the same time I reduced the lighting and plants. Not sure if you could get a parasite that way, but it's the only other change I made before I noticed him breathing rapidly.

    If it's gill damage from co2 poisoning shouldn't that clear itself up? And if it's a parasite that would be a danger to my other fish wouldn't it.

    Trivr
     
  11. helgymatt

    helgymatt Guru Class Expert

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    Ammonia??? Have you considered that?

    Edit:

    I would make sure your test kit is right. You should have some nitrates in your tank.
     
  12. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    If you can, I would get a drop checker. You can get them for around $10 on ebay. This way you will be sure what your co2 reading actually is.

    Parasites can be choosy, they tend to pick more on certain types of fish or the weaker fish in the tank.

    I believe co2 poisoning will reverse itself once the conditions are changed. However if you had a nitrite spike at some point, that's different, it can cause permanent gill damage that may be irreversible.
     
  13. Trivr

    Trivr Prolific Poster

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    conclusion

    On the chance that this may help someone else, thought I'd post the conclusion...I lost my rainbow fish this overnight.

    I'm pretty confident his rapid breathing was due to a parasite which infected the gills. He did not improve when I corrected any co2/02 imbalance, and he did not improve with the full anti-bacterial dosing. A well trusted lfs owner was certain it was a parasite and it was day two dosing that medication when I accidently let his little quarantine tank reach 85F. The added stress (and lower o2) was probably too much.

    What I thought was a related issue with my catfish not coming out to eat was just due to my having totally rearranged his old hiding spot. He hid for couple weeks and is now fine.
     
  14. orion2001

    orion2001 Guru Class Expert

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    Sorry to hear about your loss. I didn't see this thread earlier. Your fish could definitely have had something like gill flukes. I hope the rest of your fish are fine.

    Good luck!
     
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