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Surfacing cardinals

Discussion in 'Fish for Planted Tanks' started by dutchy, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Hi all,

    Since some weeks I'm noticing that my cardinals are sometimes surfacing to get a gulp of air. To find out what the problem is, I tried the following:

    1. I cleaned the filter.
    2. To enhance circulation, I put a restriction in the outflow of the filter, creating more pressure with the same number of gph, which is 10x turnover. I measured that to be sure.
    3. I took back CO2. I had pH 6,4. Every few days I raised the pH 0,1. I stopped at 6,7. That's 30 ppm less. The Rosaefolia started to stunt and the Eustralis started to grow smaller leaves. Cardinals were still surfacing, but a bit less.

    They are only doing this in the second part of the day, although my pH controller keeps a steady pH and plants are pearling which tells me the water is at 100% O2 saturation. No other fish are having problems, like Angelfish, pink tetra's and oto's.

    I turned the CO2 up again to meet the demand of the plants. The dropchecker says I have 30-40 ppm. I do weekly 50% water changes.

    Any ideas are welcome.

    regards,
    dutchy
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    I have noticed that there is a fine line for my 180 where the c02 is too much for the cards but not other fish..

    I have since pointed a Hydor Koralia II right at the surface and they seem to respond well to that even with NO reduction in c02.

    Since my cards are more important than the plants, I did turn it down a bit as well.

    No problems since than and I have turned by c02 back up.

    So, I think more agitation will help.
     
  3. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Thanks Gerry,

    The fish are moving to my 180 soon, I hope this will solve the problem since this tank will have an MP40 to provide flow. Thanks for your experienced answer,

    Regards,
    dutchy.
     
  4. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    I don't have CO2 on the cardinal tank yet, but it's a lousy shape 36x12 and if I don't put aeration in it I'll see all the fish start breathing harder/faster and the cardinals will all be in the top couple of inches. This sounds like the same behavior. I would also bet that the 180 won't be as prone to this due to the much larger surface area.

    -
    S


     
  5. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Thanks, I'm going to aerate and see what happens. It's worth a try.

    regards,
    dutchy
     
  6. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I moved the cardinals to my new 180 gallon tank. guess what, the same happens here. the cardinals go to the surface a few times per day to get a gulp of air. Filters are just running for a few weeks now, I just changed 50% of water today (like I do every week) I took back CO2 from around 40 ppm to around 30 ppm but that doesn't help either. Around two hours before lights off it gets a little worse.

    I measured oxygen level just now, at 8 PM, and it's around 8 ppm at 81 degrees F. The total amount of flow is 950 gph (Vortech MP40 is going to be built in this week)

    They are the only fish doing that, even my discus don't show any problems.
    I'm kind of lost here. No clogged filters, water change, 30 ppm of CO2, 8 ppm of O2.

    Any ideas?
    Thanks,
    dutchy
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    How's your surface disturbance? If the fish are heading for the top at the end of the day, then that means it's not gassing off fast enough. I find decent surface disturbance and a mid-day light/co2 break lessens the difference from when CO2 first establishes and the end of the day, meaning you can go higher with fewer worries.

    If it's just the cardinals, I'm wondering when you feed and how long your days are. I notice my pencil fish head for the surface for food, and also sleep there; fish learn to anticipate both feeding and lights out. What else do you have for stock?
     
  8. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your answer.
    I feed at 08.30 AM and 6 PM.
    Lights switch on at 09.30 AM and off at 08.30 PM.
    CO2 switches on at 08.30 AM and off at 07.30 PM.

    I see the most surfacing roughly between 06.30 and 08.30 PM. I don't have rising CO2 levels during the day because it's pH contolled.

    The cardinals are a group of 30. Mostly I see between 1 and 5 fish go to the surface just for a short moment. They take air and go down again. At the moment there are two big filters, one at each side of the tank. The return line exits horizontally one inch under surface to create a ripple on both sides.

    The rest of my stock is:
    4 discus
    2 angelfish
    12 hatchets
    6 male guppy's
    4 juvenile SAE's
    10 oto's
    None of them have the same behaviour.

    For more flow and surface agitation I ordered a Vortech MP40, which I received this weekend. Still have to install it.

    Thanks,
    dutchy.
     
  9. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Going to the surface quickly then returning to the bottom isn't any CO2 gasping behavior I've ever seen. Usually a CO2 gassed fish is right up at the top almost constantly, and they won't go back down to the lower half of the tank for more than a moment. I'd also expect your discus to show CO2 stress before the cardinals.

    Is their breathing any heavier than normal? Do they show any stress coloration?
     
  10. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi dutchy,

    Some of my larger school in my 180 do the same thing and I notice it is more at night after c02 has been on all day.

    They seem fine and no issues....

    Even when c02 is OFF they will do this at times.

    Keep an eye out for sure and increase your surface agitation as advised.

    BTW, your tank is beautiful!
     
  11. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    It almost seems like feeding behavior. Maybe they're seeing specs of something on the surface and they're hitting them because they're hungry?

    -
    S
     
  12. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Thanks for your answers, guys.

    @ Dan:
    No heavier breathing, no discoloration, very lively school of fish.

    @Gerry:
    Good to hear you have the same. It's just that I think the fish are telling me there's something. Maybe the CO2 in their blood builds op slowly so it's more obvious just before the CO2 shuts down. The fish don't have any issues, very active and eat well. Maybe the MP40 is going to help here.
    By the way, thanks for your compliments. I will post some new pics in a blog soon.

    @Shoggoth: Every fish does it only once. feeding behaviour would mean mutiple contacts with the surface I think....
     
    #12 dutchy, Mar 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2010
  13. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    It can't be CO2 issues if there's no heavy breathing; CO2 toxicity is all related to hemoglobin binding issues as part of respiratory acidosis.

    If it's only a slight reaction to CO2, then decreasing the CO2 levels by even 10ppm would've stopped it from happening.

    It's hard to say with your method of measurement though; KH: pH:CO2 doesn't hold in a system with multiple buffers. You won't be able to tell what your CO2 is exactly, but you can get a comparative reference if you measure pH with the CO2 off for an hour or two as a way to account for fluctuations. Without doing this, 6.4 on Monday may be only .1 of a pH difference from baseline while 6.5 Friday after some weird NH4 spike might mean an alteration of .5pH.
     
  14. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I measure pH with the pH sensor of my CO2 system and have another handheld digital pH sensor to double check. pH is at 6.7 now, the KH = 6. The chart says 38, my 4dKH drop checker says 30.
    Anyway I will measure pH as you sugggested and see what the result is.

    Thanks,
    dutchy.
     
  15. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Dutchy,

    Don't forget that as a schooling fish, they will play follow the leader. I know my school will react to one or two fish hitting the surface. It brings them right out to see if it may be food :)

    Late at night when some of mine exhibit your fishes behaviour (coming to the surface for a gulp), it seems that one or two do it, than a few more, and goes from there. Stops at less than 20, so that is why I lean away from c02 issues. I would think since they are the same TYPE of fish and more or less equal size, that more would react poorly to high c02 levels.

    So, I do personally think that by the end of the c02 cycle that there MAY be a lingering effect based on c02 and 02 levels...Plus, they may be doing a group behaviour type thing.

    Mine do this on a nightly basis..........

    Just some thoughts..........
     
  16. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I think you are right Gerry. Very recongnizable what you write here. I'm not going to make an issue out of this since I'm not the only one experiencing this behaviour. Thanks for the help.

    regards,
    dutchy.
     
  17. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Since I started to use the Vortech MP40 for additional flow the cardinals are not surfacing anymore. The MP40 is on it's lowest setting, 1000 gph. Total flow is 1750 gph now, which is 10x turnover. I also observed more pearling.

    Regards,
    dutchy
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    At 78-80F they do not feed as actively as they do at say 82-84F.
    They are very aggressive and eat right from hand at a slightly warmer temp.
    You need not go to 85-90F etc..........

    82F should do it.

    MP40 should be fine, I have one on my 180 Gal tank.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Also: fish that swim against the currents and get more exercise eat more, and become much more healthy.

    This is true with larger fish like Piranha.
    Fat and lazy fish are not as nice.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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