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Fish breathing really heavily after water change

Postby TK220 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:48 am

I completed a 40% water change on Monday (little larger than I usually do) and switched out the large pads on my fluval fx5. I also rinsed my bio rings with tank water as I do every 6 to 8 weeks.

Tuesday evening I noticed my fish were breathing very heavily. I woke up Wednesday morning to find two of my australian rainbows dead and my other fish gulping for air at the top of the water.

I did a 40% water change and added prime to the new water I added in.

Now here is the kicker. My suspicion was that maybe I through my cycle out of whack, but when I tested my ammonia and nitrite they were both at 0. I even tested with two separate tests (tetra test and AP). Now my nitrates were really low also but I still had some maybe 5 - 10ppm. Usually I have around 20ppm, but as I stated I had done a larger than normal water change on Monday.

What can be going on here? What else besides ammonia and nitrite spikes would cause my fish to gulp for air and have such labored breathing.

Could it be the aeration of my tank? I did fill the tank up on Monday a little higher, is it possible that my fish were not getting enough oxygen through the water aeration.

They seem to be a little better now, but they are still breathing pretty heavy. Help!!!!
150 Gallon Tank Dwellers
1 Chocolate Cichlid
1 Pink Convict
1 Red Hump Eartheater Geophagus
1 Columbian Geophagus
1 Opaline Gourami
1 Red Tail Shark
1 Bristlenose Pleco
4 Clown Loaches
1 Yoyo Loach
1 Cuckoo Catfish
4 Corys
TK220
 
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Location: Austin, TX

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Postby cichlidaholic » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:04 am

You don't mention adding dechlorinator with Monday's water change...

Did you?

If not, that is likely your problem...

Or, if you're certain you added dechlorinator, you may have introduced some sort of contaminant to the tank at the time of the cleaning.
110G - Perspicax Red Top Ndumbi, Demasoni, Yellow labs, Metriaclima Callainos

Check out the blog on the home page if you haven't already!!!
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Postby TK220 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:14 am

Definitely added a dechlorinator Monday, so two questions for you.

1. When I add new water I add half the required dose of Prime before adding my water and then the other half of the required dose once I complete the water change. Then I add a dose of Proper PH 7.0 to regulate my PH (PH out of my tap is 8+). Could the combination of Prime and Proper PH cause any problems?

2. If I somehow added a contaminant, what should be my course of action? Continue with daily water changes until the heavy breathing stops?

As always, thanks for help!!
150 Gallon Tank Dwellers
1 Chocolate Cichlid
1 Pink Convict
1 Red Hump Eartheater Geophagus
1 Columbian Geophagus
1 Opaline Gourami
1 Red Tail Shark
1 Bristlenose Pleco
4 Clown Loaches
1 Yoyo Loach
1 Cuckoo Catfish
4 Corys
TK220
 
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:06 am
Location: Austin, TX

Postby oldcatfish » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:27 am

There are several possibilities. We will need more information to narrow it down.

Do you have well water or city water? What was the pH of your aquarium, and what is it out of the tap? Did you reach in your aquarium after using any lotions, or washing your hands with soap?

My best guess would be that the city (if you had city water) used something to cleanse the system....such as a higher dose of chloramine. Either that, or you stirred up a stagnant spot in the aquarium---releasing toxins.

Here's what I would do ASAP regardless of what the cause is.

1) Make daily water changes---but keep them under 20 percent. Add prime, and make sure that the temperature and pH are very close to the aquarium's.

2) Add activated carbon, to bind up any toxins.

3) Increase the aeration of your tank ---your fish are gasping, they aren't getting enough oxygen.
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Postby noddy » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:17 pm

I allways add the full amount of prime when I start to add the fresh water. If you only add half, I would imagine that you are only treating the new water at half strength until you are finished adding and by that time the fish may have been affected by chlorine/chloramine. I actually allways double the amount of prime that they recomend just in case the guy down at the water company has been drinking again that day.
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Postby frank1rizzo » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:26 pm

I have seen this many times.

I am not sure of the cause but if I only fill the the tank to about 3" below the normal line and leave it there for about 30 minutes and let the canister output really mix the tank water up, then top it off after the half hour, the problem goes away?

I do large changes during the summer to bring the temp down, and I need to do this every time to keep the fish from breathing heavily. If I use this trick, I never see ANY symptoms.

:-? :-? :-?
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Postby TK220 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:32 pm

Thanks for all the tips.

I do have city water and I know my city water has high levels of chloramines in it because I get ammonia readings when I test my water straight out of the tap. I was under the impression that if I added Prime to the new water I add to the aquarium that it would detoxify those chloramines until my biofilter can remove them.

Again, I tested my ammonia from the tank this morning and it was at a 0 so I don't believe I have any chloramines still lingering.

I do place my hands in the aquarium while cleaning but I didn't have any lotion or fresh soap on my hands. Obviously, I use soap throughout the day but I would think the traces left on my hand wouldn't effect my fish dramatically.

I've seen them gasp before as well Frank, but this is the first time that a couple of my fish actually died. Usually they settle down after a day or two and all is good.

Still confused.
150 Gallon Tank Dwellers
1 Chocolate Cichlid
1 Pink Convict
1 Red Hump Eartheater Geophagus
1 Columbian Geophagus
1 Opaline Gourami
1 Red Tail Shark
1 Bristlenose Pleco
4 Clown Loaches
1 Yoyo Loach
1 Cuckoo Catfish
4 Corys
TK220
 
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:06 am
Location: Austin, TX

Postby frank1rizzo » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:19 pm

You should try leaving the water line low for a bit and let the filters splash around for a while before you top off and see if the heavy breathing goes away.

Even though someone doesn't die every water change, if they are breathing heavy, I think it may be stressing them out.
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Postby TK220 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:41 pm

Thanks Frank. When I did the water change this morning I definitely did not fill it up all the way so they are getting great water agitation from my canister filter and the underwater filter.

Hopefully I will go home to relaxed fish. Keep your fingers crossed.
150 Gallon Tank Dwellers
1 Chocolate Cichlid
1 Pink Convict
1 Red Hump Eartheater Geophagus
1 Columbian Geophagus
1 Opaline Gourami
1 Red Tail Shark
1 Bristlenose Pleco
4 Clown Loaches
1 Yoyo Loach
1 Cuckoo Catfish
4 Corys
TK220
 
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:06 am
Location: Austin, TX

Postby cichlidaholic » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:24 am

I always add the full amount of dechlorinator at the beginning of the water change.

The ph product may be your problem, although I wouldn't say it reacted with the Prime.

Have you been using this for a long time?

I've never seen ph additives like that do anything other than cause problems in a tank.

If you need a buffer, use the homemade one in the library here and add it gradually.

Steer clear of the increasers and decreasers the stores sell. :thumb:
110G - Perspicax Red Top Ndumbi, Demasoni, Yellow labs, Metriaclima Callainos

Check out the blog on the home page if you haven't already!!!
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Postby TK220 » Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:01 am

Everyone is settled down and seems to be breathing normally now. No one gulping. I still have my water level a few inches lower than normal so my fish get maximum aeration.

I have used Proper PH7.0 in the past but usually I add it after all the Prime is added. This time I added Prime before filling, added Proper PH7.0 (which is also a dechlorinator) half way through my filling and then another dose of Prime after filling was completed. Not sure if that caused the problem, but I won't be doing it again.

I will begin adding full dose of Prime before filling tank moving forward. My guess is that since I did such a large water change my fish were fighting higher than usual levels of chloramines. That combined with the fact that the tank was filled with minimal aeration had my crew gulping for air.

All seems to be good now, thanks for all the suggestions.
150 Gallon Tank Dwellers
1 Chocolate Cichlid
1 Pink Convict
1 Red Hump Eartheater Geophagus
1 Columbian Geophagus
1 Opaline Gourami
1 Red Tail Shark
1 Bristlenose Pleco
4 Clown Loaches
1 Yoyo Loach
1 Cuckoo Catfish
4 Corys
TK220
 
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:06 am
Location: Austin, TX

Postby jfly » Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:40 am

dunno if this helps but i SWEAR by api dechlorinator.. just 1 drop per gallon.. EASY and has never let me down.. also you CANT overdose the fish with it.
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I know this an old post, but I figured it might help someone

Postby olliesshop » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:33 pm

I noticed yesterday that my fish were breathing heavy and tried to figure out why. At first, I thought is was just the pH, since it was lower than normal (7.5 vs. 7.8-8.0). Then I read about adding aeration, so I added an air-stone strip and that helped a lot. But then this morning I noticed the filter wasn't pumping any water (and that, I believe, adds Oxygen to the water through the tiny bubbles it pours out of the spout.

So in total, I ended up bringing the Oxygen from 8ppm to 12ppm by doing the following:
    • Added an air-stone strip
    • Put in Lake Tanganyika buffer, since I forgot to add it the last water change
    • Found out, this morning, the filter was clogged and not working at all (the fine mesh at the top was packed full or crud) so I put in some new mesh and now it works great again !!!
    • These brought the O2 from 8 to 12ppm and pH from 7.5 to 8.0


Hope this helps some one ... all the best !!!

:fish:
Tim
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Postby Mudkicker » Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:40 pm

This type of thing has happened to me twice.

The first time was when I had purchased a new hose. There must have been a chemical on the plastic.

The second time was when I filled the aquarium at a higher level than usual. Since then, I make sure that there is a good amout of water breaking at the surface. I also leave my glass tops open at the front just a tiny bit.

Mud
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