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Jack Dempsey is swimming wildly & slumping over on side.

3072 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  jason_nj
Hi gang, I have a 6in Jack Dempsey female for about 4 years. She is now housed in a 29g. It might be a too small for her, but she has been ok in there for the last 2 or 3 years.

I have made several changes to the tank recently and need some input/advice as to what might be the cause. Here is my setup and current changes:

Eheim Ecco 2232. I do a 25% water change every Saturday and vacuum the gravel (Now replaced with sand).

Heater: Hydor Theo Heater 200w set to 80*.

Diet: Freeze dried Tubifex worms, shrimp pellets, freeze dried krill, Aqueon Cichlid Sticks. (Now feeding New Life Spectrum Cichlasoma 3mm pellets.)

Over the course of these last 3 weeks, I have added 4 Java ferns, increased my lighting to 2 bulbs (Aquaglo & Powerglo), replaced a hide cave with a much larger one, changed her food to New Life 3mm pellets, and replaced regular gravel with Tahitian Black Moon Sand (With a sprinkling of crushed coral).

Now because I was adding new sand, I did not clean or replace any of my filter media, hoping to maintain my bacteria colony. I started with 1 bag just in case I didn't like it. All went well for 1 week, so I then added a second bag.

Now after 2 weeks this happens. She was jumping around the tank like she was trying to escape/jump out, or get away from something chasing her. She was crashing into the glass canopy several times before sinking to the bottom, then preceding to lay flat on her side, breathing very fast.

I immediately did a 75% water change and replaced all filter media, except for the substrate bio media.

I tested the water afterwards, and here are the results:

PH: 6.8-7.0 straight from the tap. (I added a little PH Up, PH usually is 7.2-7.4 & dosed with 1 capful of Prime)
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 20
GH&KH: Liquid drops were used with 10ml sample in test tube, 3 drops for GH & 7 drops for KH.

She looks a little better now, not breathing as heavily. She does have scales missing from hitting things in the tank, which is the exact reason why I switched to sand. She was digging through the gravel and damaging scales. Is it possible she might have swallowed some sand, that cannot be passed? Or could the water quality become so poor from neglecting the filter and water changes these past few weeks?
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Have you added anything to the room? A new light maybe something that is causing her to spook easily? Shadows and high traffic area cause fish to spook. I would suggest getting a larger tank. I'm guessing your tank measurements are 30x12x18. Your water readings sound ok for your fish but the lack of space for a 6" fish isnt good. Going to a 40 long or a 55 would be ideal. Hope all goes well.
Yes I added a dual strip light 2 weeks ago, but it's off at 8pm. This happened at 11pm.
I agree with what you're saying about getting spooked, I have seen her do that but only for a second or two. But this time no one walked by and I was on the sitting on the bed 6 feet from the tank.

As for the tank size, I live on the second floor, would a 40 or 55 be too heavy for the floorboards?

Well just tank and water the 40long weighs 450 lbs and a 55 weighs 625. I look to see which way your floor joist run and run them across them. Is the fish eating normally? I have had multiple jds do this due to shadows and traffic areas. I ended up having to move tanks or let them adjust to their surroundings. Some won't adjust though.
Yep, will eat everyday, sometimes twice.
I would keep close eye on it and continue to feed . It might take a week or two but maybe its just being spooked.
How old is the house? well a 35 year old house will hold a 55 fine. :thumb: :fish:
I would give it some time to see if your JD adjusts. I find my JDs hate changes in the tank, even if I just net out a fish, they become jumpy for a few weeks.

In your case, you pretty much gave her a new tank, new cave, new substrate, new lights and plants. You can add some Melafix to help with healing her scales and I would say no more changes in or around the tank until she settles in again.
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