Fish breathing fast - angel fish has lost colour

sparkyjf

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Dear all

Need your help urgently this morning. I came down to my 185l Fluval tank to find all the fish breathing incredibly fast (mouths opening and closing fast, constantly), and my angel fish near the top of the tank and he has lost almost all of his colour - he was mostly black, and this morning is mostly silver.

The tank is naturally planted and on the Fluval 207 canister filter. It has been stable for some months now so it was a bit of a shock this morning. I did a water change last night - as per their normal weekly routine - added API Stress Coat when the water was changed which I normally do - in short - I've just kept doing everything I normally do with the tank.

I've checked the obvious stuff - temperature looks ok, this morning's water test comes back ok (Nitrates about 25ppm, Nitrites and Ammonia at 0ppm). My initial frantic Googling has suggested a lack of oxygen. The tank doesn't have an air stone, air pump or otherwise - it hasn't come up so far - however my initial research suggested that lack of oxygen in the water might be the issue. All the fish are breathing fast so I am assuming it's not an illness as all fish seem to have been affected simultaneously - logically to me it seems to me it must be something overall with the water (but do correct me if I'm wrong here)

I dug out my old air pump from a previous tank and put the air line in - I don't have an air stone, but there is now air bubbling through the water. I also lowered the water level and raised the filter outlet pipe to above the water line so that the filtered water is now "waterfalling" into the tank through the air, which should pick up/add some oxygen.

My question is - am I on the right track? Is there something else it could be that I could/should investigate? Anything I can do to speed along the resolution assuming it is oxygen and increase the wellbeing of the fish?

If I'm missing anything or have missed out any information please say/ask and I'll post back or go and find out.

Thanks in advance!
 

Lajos_Detari

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What is your tank temperature and how many fish do you have?
How much water(%) did you change?

Any sudden change that affects all fish at the same time is usually to due something in the water instead of disease.
For disease, the effect will be gradual instead of "suddenly" unless you have not been observing them for some time.

Did you put enough anti-chlorine(water conditioner)?
It could be due to high Chlorine/Chloramine or some chemical/toxic in the water.

Do you have other source of water which you think is safer? You can do a large water with "more reliable water" if you suspect there is some chemical in the water.
 
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sparkyjf

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Thanks both for your replies. So a quick update and some answers to questions. I changed about 20% of the water last night - that's about normal for me. In the hour or so since I posted, the fish have stopped gasping and the colour has returned to my angel fish. So my immediate thinking is oxygen.

All fish are accounted for.

I add API Stress Coat to the water which is supposed to remove Chlorine amongst other things as I understand it. I also am using filtered tap water - have been using that for about a month now with no issues so far - the filter (I can send details if it helps) was to remove nitrates from tap water, but I've noticed it also removes Chlroine (according to my test kit) so I think between that and the stress coat I'm covered for Chlorine. I can't guarantee there isn't something else in there that I can't test for, but tap water and filtered tap water has historically been safe for me.

I don't want to jump the gun and say I've solved it - feeling very tentative right now - but hoping I'm on the right track - however I am curious - what would cause a massive and sudden drop in the oxygenation of the water? The tank has never had an air pump and I'm not saying that's right - I'm beginning to regret that now - simply I wonder why the change.
 

Lajos_Detari

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I don't think its due to drop of oxygen unless you have many fish and the water temperature is more than 30C (86F).

Any chemical or high Chlorine or Chloramine can cause the same symptom of gasping for breath.

Any chemical will cause problems to the fish gills and cause the breathing problem.
Take note that Chlorine will burn the fish gills.
 
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sparkyjf

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Understood - I only have tap water as my source of water and can't get out today owing to work committments - is there anything I can do (other than perhaps change more water)? Temperature is reporting at 24.9C.

Would contaminated tap water be a likely cause of the issue, given that was used in the water change?
 

Lajos_Detari

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Understood - I only have tap water as my source of water and can't get out today owing to work committments - is there anything I can do (other than perhaps change more water)? Temperature is reporting at 24.9C.

Would contaminated tap water be a likely cause of the issue, given that was used in the water change?

Must check what is the contaminant.
But most contaminant/chemicals are bad for the fish gills.
Probably just increase the aerations and hoping that the contaminants are not too bad.
 
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sparkyjf

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Please forgive my inexperience - how should I check for the contaminant? I have test kits (API) for the usual suspects - Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Ammonia - plus some test strips that will show Cl2, KH and GH. These tests have all come back ok this morning, but for example you mentioned Chloramine. Are there test kits for contaminents I should purchase?

Thank you for all your help!
 

Lajos_Detari

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I don't think you can check for contaminants unless you can bring it to a test lab for analysis.

Some water companies may provide analysis of the tap water on their website.
But they only check it like once a year.

From time to time, the Chlorine or/and Chloramine level in the tap water may fluctuate.
I know in some places, the water company will dose higher Chlorine or/and Chloramine during the raining days.

And if there is a pollution in the water source or environmental pollution, it will be a problem unless the water company consistently monitor the water.
This will depend on the company quality control and how frequent they sample and analyze the water.
 

Colin_T

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From time to time, the Chlorine or/and Chloramine level in the tap water may fluctuate.
I know in some places, the water company will dose higher Chlorine or/and Chloramine during the raining days.
Whatever the problem is, it is related to the water change last night. It is highly possible the water company did work on the pipes recently and increased the amount of chlorine/ chloramine in the water supply to make sure there was nothing alive in the water.

The tap water regularly loses gasses when under pressure and your water might not have had any oxygen (O2) in, or it had too much carbon dioxide (CO2). These can both cause the symptoms you described.

By aerating the water you have maximised the oxygen levels and possibly helped drive out any excess chlorine. If you have chloramine in your water supply, some of that should have been neutralised by the dechlorinator you use.

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Do you dechlorinate the tap water before adding it to the tank?
If not, you should start doing that from now on.

You should also aerate the tap water and dechlorinator for at least 5 (preferably 30) minutes before adding it to the tank. This allows the dechlorinator plenty of time to come into contact with all of the chlorine/ chloramine molecules in the water and neutralise them. It also allows the gasses in the water to stabilise at their normal levels.

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If you don't have an airstone in the tank normally, you should raise the filter outlet (like you have done today) so it is just above the surface to create some aeration/ surface turbulence. This will help keep the oxygen levels in the water at higher levels and should prevent the fish from suffocating if the CO2 levels go up or the O2 goes down at night.

If you have lots of plants in a tank, they will use oxygen at night when the lights are out. If there is no surface turbulence, the CO2 levels can increase, the pH can drop and the fish can suffocate. Having the filter outlet above the water surface should prevent this from happening.

Regarding CO2, do you add any to the aquarium for the plants?
If you do, you should stop adding it for a couple of weeks so the fish can recover. When you turn it back on, have it on during the day with the lights on, and turn it off at night an hour before lights go out.

I think the problem is a combination of extra chlorine/ chloramine and CO2, caused by the water company and lack of aeration in the tank.
 

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