Flinkbag

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I really need someone to respond to this post asap!
 
I had an issue a month ago where i had foamy bubbles forming on the surface of the water, and all my fish seemed to be struggling to breathe. Now the bubbles are back in a much more mild form, yet my fish are all breathing ridiculously hard and fast! None of them seem to be gasping at the surface though, which is odd, as i would've thought rapid breathing normally meant lack of oxygen, especially if they're all doing that as a group! They're all acting completely normally too, but clearly something is wrong! I have an eheim classic 350 with the spray bar pushing oxygen into the water, i would've thought that'd be enough, but correct me if I'm wrong...
I did a water change yesterday, and today they don't seem happy at all. Could it be something in the tap water? Has anyone had this issue before? 
 
Please help, I really don't want any of my fish to die! 
 

Ch4rlie

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First of all, do not panic.
 
What are all the symptoms the fish are showing?
i.e red gills, rapid breathing, lethargic or erratic swimming, flicking, etc
 
Can you post your tank water stats, ph, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrates.
Also might be worth testing the tap water as well to see if theres anything in that.
gH and kH could be helpful if you have results of that.
Also which test kit do you normally use?
 
Water temperature?
 
Tank size?
Include dimensions as well, this may be helpful.
 
Current stocking and how many of each?
 
Have you added anything new recently?
I.e new plants, substrate, decor, chemicals etc
 
Have you done any deep cleans of the substrate, tank or filter?
 
The more details in your answers, the more chance we have of correctly finding the cause potentially.
A full tank shot could prove helpful also.
 

Akasha72

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Hi,
 
The first thing you need to do in these circumstances is get your test kit out and check the tank for Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. If you get a reading for any of these check the source water (your tap) for all of these too. 
 
Rapid breathing can be caused by ammonia or nitrite but it can also be a lack of oxygen in the water. If you get zero reading for ammonia and nitrite and a low nitrate try adding an air stone and see if they go back to breathing normally

cha4rlie hit post just before me ... either way, it's the same advice :)
 

NickAu

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What additives are you using? Are you by chance using API Stress Coat?
 
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Flinkbag

Flinkbag

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Ch4rlie said:
First of all, do not panic.
 
What are all the symptoms the fish are showing?
i.e red gills, rapid breathing, lethargic or erratic swimming, flicking, etc
 
They're all swimming and acting as per normal, and i can't see any red gills. All of them are just breathing so rapidly, and they look a stressed. 
 
I can't tell you about parameters today, but i can test both of them tomorrow. I use the API test kits. But about 2 weeks ago everything was looking pretty spot on, all the levels were where I wanted them to be. But its possible things have changed... Also Im going to a LFS to test my tap water for copper, as the water I put in my tank seems to turn it slightly aquamarine blue o_O
 
Water temp is 23-24 degrees celcius. I was under the impression that colder water carried more oxygen, so hence the lower temp. I ran it at 26 or sometimes even 28 during spring and summer, but to save power and to preserve the life of my heater I bumped it down to 24. 
 
Tank volume is between 200 or 230 litres. I can't fully remember dimensions, but I think they are roughly 123 l x 60 h x 45 w
 
Stocking:
1x Purple spotted Gudgeon (16ish cm) 
1x fire mouth (15cm)
2x bala shark (20cm) (will be selling)
1x rainbow shark (13) (will be selling)
3x Clown loaches (14cm, 10cm, 5cm) (will be selling)
1x Kuhli loach (10ish cm)
1x upside-down catfish (8cm)
1x Bristlenose Catfish (12cm)
1x yo-yo loach (10cm)
1x Emperor tetra (7cm) 
 
I have added a piece of Java Moss recently, but I wouldn't have thought that'd do anything. o_O
 
And yes I did a half tank gravel-vac clean yesterday, whilst also removing 20% of the water. That could've thrown up something nasty, who knows? I try to avoid doing excessive gravel cleans, but sometimes the gravel just gets so filthy... 
 
And no NickAu, I use Seachem products normally :) 
 
Also Akasha72, Im probably going to add another airstone. My last air pump got ridiculously noisy so I had to chuck it. So if not for that, id still be using it :/ 
 
ALSO a little off topic, but my Firemouth has what Im sure is HitH disease, and I got some Metronidazole for him from my vet. How much would you add to food, or to a 30 litre tank? And how many doses do i put in? Ive looked it up, but the internet is throwing all sorts of dosage rates at me, I'm a little confused... 
 
If you've gotten this far, you're a gem, and thanks for taking the time out of your day to help me! :D
 

Akasha72

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ahh I saw the post about the firemouth. I set out to reply and then got distracted ... can't remember now if I left a comment or not. It didn't look like HitH ... more like he'd caught his head on something but it's always hard to tell from a photo. HitH can be subtle to begin with.
 
As to the heavy breathing ... I very much doubt that the moss will have brought anything in, other than maybe some hitchhiking snails. Vacuuming that gravel could have got you with an ammonia and/or nitrite spike but the thing that's jumping out is you mention your getting tested for copper ... This has me concerned that you are not using a dechlorinator when you water change. Copper is a metal that would be bound by dechlorinator ... this is why we use them, to remove metals from the water supply that can kill the good bacteria. 
 
The temperature is good ... no worries there. You are correct that cooler temps can mean better oxygenation. 
 
Stocking ... well, the sharks can be nasty, although you say they are to be removed - which is for the best. They get very big and ultimately need a very large tank ... also in those numbers I'd expect to see some aggression at some point.
 
Is there a reason the tetra is alone? Do you know which type of emperor it is? There are two types often labelled as 'emperor tetra'. One type is quite territorial (nematobrycon palmeri) and don't shoal - those have a trident tail and bright blue eye in the male and a green eye in the female. The second type (Inpaichthys kerri) are purple with yellow fins (no trident tail). This type are shoalers and so if it is this type, keeping one alone will be causing stress.
 

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Responding as mentioned in our PM.  I can't add much to what others have suggested, at least until we know the numbers for the tests that have been asked for.
 
I checked the thread on the bubbles...from the photo I would not think those were a bubble nest from an anabantid.  But that doesn't mean they are a problem, though it might be related.
 
From Akasha's post I take it you are not using any water conditioner at water changes?  If you are on municipal water, they are probably adding something like chlorine or chloramine, and this means a water conditioner should be used.
 
I remember the tinted water thread...I believe we ended up agreeing that there was no tint in the tap water, so it is something in the tank--am I correct?  What is the43 substrate material?  Any rock or wood?  Other decor?
 
We will need as much data/info/test results as possible to pin this down.  I will just say that rapid respiration can be due to many things, from lack of oxygen to excess of CO2 to ammonia/nitrite to high nitrtate to toxins in the water to disease protozoan/parasites...almost anything.
 
Byron.
 

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foaming water is good indication of ab exces of something  in the water. Possibly high alkalinity (Kh) and high General hardness (GH). for now I would do more water cycles and if possible use distilled water instead of tap water.  Until we know what the green tint is from we should treat the tap water as suspect.  When you test your tank water also run the same tests on the tap water.  The differences between tap and tank might help identify the issue.  The hole in the head issue with your firemouth is probably related to the water quality issue and might clear up by itself once the water issue has been corrected.
 
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Flinkbag

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Wow so many replies! :D
 
Ok so to start off, fish seem like they're back to normal now! I hadn't even done anything to the water either. It honestly makes no sense...  And i tested my water today. The only level that came back too high was nitrate, coming in around 40 or maybe slightly higher (I did another water change tonight to help with that). Aside from that, both ammonia and nitrite were 0, and PH was 7-7.2. GH was 190, which is a little high for some of my fish, but not intolerable. KH was around 80-100, i can't quite remember. And lastly Phosphate was under 5ppm. So my levels aren't too bad thankfully, its just the Nitrate. I tested my tap water for nitrate, nitrite and ammonia, plus PH too. All came back at 0 and 7.2 for the PH. But I've yet to test for copper, so watch this space I guess :p
 
And I promise you guys, I do use a dechlorinator! :p I use Prime, sometimes just a little more than what they recommend, only because I know my city's water is quite saturated in chlorine (*sigh*). So yes, don't worry, I dechlorinate every time i do a water change, I'm very strict about it. :)
 
As for the Sharks, my two Bala Sharks are the most docile and, unfortunately for them, unintelligent of the whole group, so they're normally the ones who are subject to bullying. My rainbow shark is the one who bullies them, but I've never seen him act aggressively towards the other fish. But I'm selling them all anyway, as yes, the Bala Sharks are starting to look big in my tank, and I never liked the rainbow shark much.
 
As for the little tetra, he was one of the fish who came with the tank, and sadly he has been on his lonesome for quite a while I'd imagine. He'd be the Palmeri one, as he has the blue eyes and forked tail. He is also quite unaggressive. I wouldn't have known they could be aggressive if you hadn't told me haha :p I will probably try to find a few friends for him soon. The challenge is getting big enough tetras so that my Gudgeon won't eat them :/
 
Yeah I have no anabantoids in my tank, so thats definitely out. It always seems to be the same set of symptoms each time. Bubbles won't pop at the surface, causing a foamy layer, and fish seems to struggle to breathe... So strange. And i agree StevenF, it sounds like an excess of something to me too, though I don't know what... 
 
The tinted water has seemed to look a little nicer lately. Less blueish green, and more clear :) And Byron I do have 3 pieces of malaysian driftwood in the tank, but I soaked and boiled them for 3 months straight, so I'd be surprised if they were still leaking tannins, especially because they were in my tank before I owned it. But its always a possibility.
 
With the possible HitH with my fire mouth cichlid, he seemed to develop a smaller dot next to the first, and now they appear to have merged together. Does that sound like HitH? It doesn't sound like a normal kind of wound to me... If i can describe it, it looks like a small indent in his head, showing white flesh underneath, with his scales looking a little ragged and torn surrounding the hole. Ill try to upload another photo thats a little clearer, he just gets a little camera shy.. The rest of him looks fine, though his tail fin seems to be a little ragged from who-knows-what. These fish, they'll be the death of me haha! 
 
Thank you all so much for your input, it's very much appreciated! :D
 

NickAu

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And no NickAu, I use Seachem products normally
The reason I ask is because quite often " the bubbles " indicate too much API stress coat.
 

Byron

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There isn't much I can suggest at this stage.  Nitrate above 20 ppm is not safe long-term, but unlikely by itself to cause the previous symptoms.  Assuming there is zero nitrate in your tap water, I would do water changes as necessary to keep nitrate below 20 ppm.  Higher levels are now believed to affect cichlids, and many other fish for that matter, so keeping them low is wise.
 
Prime is OK, but don't use more than necessary, which means, the amount to treat the fresh water being added at each water change.
 
There are some serious fish issues here with aggression, I won't get into that.  But I will suggest you not consider acquiring any new fish until the present issue(s) is/are resolved, and then after planning the long-term stocking.  Some of the present fish are clearly under stress or will cause it by their aggressiveness, and that has to be eliminated first.
 
Byron.
 

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While blue green water color can be caused by copper, other elements and there salts can also react green or blue colors.  You might want to get a professional lab to test your water. After all you are also drinking it. if the water is not good for your fih it might not be good for you.Your water utility might also post a water quality report on line.  That might help determine the cause of the water color.    Was any recent plumbing work done?  If that work was not done properly corrosion might be occurring in your pipes generating the color you see.  
 
I am a little surprised that the color disappeared so quickly without any intervention.  Do you by any chance let your water sit in buckets for a few days before you do a water change?  I know some people do that to allow the Chlorine  to evaporate.  Perhaps the unusual color of you water might dissipate  or precipitate out if it is allowed to sit and out gas.  If at all possible use some RO or distilled water when doing a water change until the cause of the color can be identified and corrected.
 

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Hi again, I'd be inclined now to think that the cichlid does indeed have HitH. If there is now more than one mark then it's more likely HitH than some kind of injury - like I said, it's difficult to tell from photo's and a photo and description is more helpful. I would look to isolate him now and treat with an anti-biotic. Keep stress to a minimum if that's possible and keep his water clean. 
 
I wouldn't consider Nitrate of 40 overly high but these things vary from fish keeper to fish keeper. There has been some some debate on the forums before about what is acceptable and what isn't. Given that the test kits are notoriously inaccurate aswell doesn't always make things easy. My own Nitrate has been double that and nobody died or got sick.
 
With the palmeri tetra ... I wouldn't call them aggressive but their behaviour can vary a little. I have 9 of these in my 240 litre tank and I see a little sparring from time to time and I see the occasional torn fin from this but it never goes beyond this. They've not killed each other. My females will spar just as much as the males do so it's confined to males only. 
All that said I would suggest some friends for your tetra .... when you get this tank settled again that is :)
 
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Hey guys :)
 
NickAu: yeah I figured thats why you were asking. I SO wish that was the problem, but unfortunately its still a mystery. The bubbles came back with a vengeance today, so it just seems really random as to when it occurs and why.
 
Byron: I never like having Nitrate above 10 if I can help it, so I wasn't exactly thrilled when the test read 40... I'll probably just step up the 20% water changes to twice a week until its calmed somewhat. And when I say I use slightly more than whats recommended, i mean something like an extra 5%, not another dose. I've heard about overdosing with Prime and what it can do to tanks O.O As for the aggression, are you referring to the sharks, fire mouth and gudgeon? Because everyone seems to get along pretty well in my tank, but I completely agree that none of them are really 'ideal' match-ups. It's big enough that if one gets aggressive, the other can move to the other side of the tank and hide, but yeah gudgeons and fire mouths are a weird mix... If I had to, I'd sell the Firemouth to someone with a nice Cichlid setup, because I absolutely love my Gudgeon. And all the sharks are going anyway, so they'll be gone soon regardless. 
 
StevenF: I'm really considering that, because its frustrating me to no end! Tank water shouldn't be blue!! And nor should I be getting foamy bubbles at the surface of the water either! Argh, its so not fair! I've had so many problems with this tank, the only problem I've never had is an algae problem, which is one of the most common. But no, I had to get the head-scratchers... And no I just fill up a bucket straight from that tap, dechlorinate it, then add it to the tank. Im hoping to get a really nice filter installed into the kitchen sink, so once thats done, I'll be using that to see if anything changes. 
 
Akasha72: Believe it or not, the Firemouths hole has completely disappeared! Seemed to shrink overnight, then the next day it was gone! I had the Metronidazole and iso tank all ready for him, then he started to get better anyway! I swear this fish is just playing mind games on me... And I'll definitely look into getting the Tetra a few friends, as I don't want him to be lonely. He's definitely the odd one out in my tank :(
 

Akasha72

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glad to hear the cichlid has recovered without the need for medication :)
 

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