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Strange Tiger Barb Behavior


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#1 Steve H.

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 02:21 AM

I'm not sure if this is actually an emergency as much as it is a really odd behavior, but it is concerning.

Early this evening I noticed one one of my Tiger Barbs nose down vertical vigorously swimming, but going nowhere. He then disappeared behind the heater, and didn't look like he was moving. I thought for sure he was a gonner. But, he appeared and swims normally when chased by the others. Once he is free though he goes back to the vertical swim to nowhere.

I immediately checked my water stats
NH3/4 - 0
NO2 - 0
pH - 7.8

I did a 50% water change early on in the morning, and all was normal until about 6pm.

It is kind of concerning because now a second female is starting to exhibit the same behavior.

Any ideas where I can start looking for a solution?

#2 fluttermoth

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 02:40 PM

There are two reasons for 'headstanding' in tiger barbs. One is increased nitrite levels in the water (they're very sensitive too it); but if it was that, I'd expect all your barbs would be doing it.

The other reason is as a submissive posture; a bit like a submissive dog rolling on it's back; it's saying to the 'boss', "I'm no threat to you".

Might be worth doing a largish water change anyway; tigers can react to levels of nitrite that are too low to show up on a test.

#3 Steve H.

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 03:25 PM

Hmmm...the submissive posture is interesting. It might be that. He is always fighting for the "top dog" position with another male.

I just planted the tank, so I would really like to avoid another big water change to help the nitrates build back up. I have done 2 50%+ since Thursday, and nitrates are showing 5ppm.

Do you think I might have too much flow?
Before I planted I upgraded my filter, and when fully open it is turning the water over about 15-20 times per hour....or at least it is rated to.
I thought the Barbs wouldn't mind a good current, and it looked like they liked it. They swim hard into the current, and then stop and surf it to where it takes them.

#4 fluttermoth

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:00 PM

If you've done some big water changes and it's only one or two fish doing it, it's probably a dominance/submission posture.

I wouldn't worry too much about the flow; tigers are strong swimmers, and filters are usually rated without media, so the stated flow will be a lot more than you're actually getting.

#5 Steve H.

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:54 PM

Well, it is something more than posturing.

Couldn't find him in the tank today. Fed them early to coax him out from where he was hiding. He came out, but won't eat, and he looks awful. Completely lost his belly. Weird looking. Almost a straight line from his jaw to his tail.

I don't think he will make it the night.

The only thing I can think of, besides disease or parasites i'm not familiar with, is a plant that I planted. I planted Hygrophilia Balsamica. In its emersed form it is toxic to fish, but not harmful in the submersed form.
Now, this plant didn't even make it 1 day in my tank, so I was not too concerned which form I was sent....I only assumed an on-line site for aquarium plants would sell the fish-safe version.

Edited by Steve H., 14 March 2012 - 03:09 PM.


#6 afremont

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 05:25 PM

Well, it is something more than posturing.

Couldn't find him in the tank today. Fed them early to coax him out from where he was hiding. He came out, but won't eat, and he looks awful. Completely lost his belly. Weird looking. Almost a straight line from his jaw to his tail.

I don't think he will make it the night.

The only thing I can think of, besides disease or parasites i'm not familiar with, is a plant that I planted. I planted Hygrophilia Balsamica. In its emersed form it is toxic to fish, but not harmful in the submersed form.
Now, this plant didn't even make it 1 day in my tank, so I was not too concerned which form I was sent....I only assumed an on-line site for aquarium plants would sell the fish-safe version.


Wow, fish can't really waste away in a couple of days so I'd be looking for signs of internal parasites. Watch the other fish and make sure their poop looks normal and continues to do so.

#7 Steve H.

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 07:42 PM

I lost him before I left for work today. :(
And, I have 2 others starting to display similar swimming behavior.

One of my employees raises African Chichlids. His theory is it is either stress from the new environment, and going through that change.
Or, something is happening with their swim bladder's




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