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HELP! Fish sucking at top of water but tested ok

Discussion in 'New Aquarium Advice' started by laurenbeautyroom, Apr 16, 2011.


  1. laurenbeautyroom

    laurenbeautyroom PetForums Junior

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    Hi
    I have a tank of garra rufa. They are acting a bit strange today. I added some fish on Thursday and they have been weird ever since.

    I have tested the water and there is no ammonia in the tank but I have changed the water about 50% today and they are still at the top sucking.
    When I changed the water they went back to normal for about 10 mins and then did this again?
    HELP!
     
  2. ceretrea

    ceretrea PetForums Senior

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    Have you tested the water for NitrItes and NitrAtes as well? Whats the PH? Temp? Whats your set up:- tank size, filter, aeration, heaters and age of the tank.

    Please do not do anymore 50% water changes, this will totally unbalance your filter and make the issue worse. I can advise more when I know the rest of the readings.

    Also how often do you change the water and by how much?

    In the meantime if you have an air stone I would use it and switch it on high and see if that helps. It sounds like something about your water is toxic to them, either lack of oxygen (worse at the bottom so worse for these bottom dwellers), or some chemical be that part of the nitrogen cycle or the ph. Regular small water changes are the best thing for that.
     
  3. laurenbeautyroom

    laurenbeautyroom PetForums Junior

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    Ok, it's only 5 weeks old. Everything was fine till we put some more fish in Thursday. There's approx 40 fish in total but they are quite big.
    We have a heater in it, its at 24 degrees, has a filter with 2 tubes in the water (one in one out). we normally change twice a day maybe 10-15% and feed every two days. The filter is not in the tank it is outside it has three layers with different things in.
    But when the other fish went in I noticed they were at the top for a bit then they swim under then go to the top again. This morning they were fine till maybe 12 and then they were at the top.
    The aquatics place we go to said when you have a problem change the water as this will help to dilute. So changed 10% and they were ok for a bit and then they did the same again so changed again and they did the same.
    I also noticed that the tube pumping water out was not creating many bubbles so I adjusted it to create more bubbles and water movement.
    We had a problem with ammonia early on but after a week that cleared up. Then we had nitrate and nitrite present but now it is low. But the fish had been totally fine for a week or so until the new ones went in. I think it has just tipped it over the edge but I just want to make sure the fish are ok.
     
  4. laurenbeautyroom

    laurenbeautyroom PetForums Junior

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    Also if it is oxygen how do air stones work? Do they fit on the end of the "out" tube? (sorry i don't know the correct term)
     
  5. Fishyfins

    Fishyfins PetForums Member

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    40 fish? what size tank do you have?

    such behaviour is often found in fish suffering from oxygen depletion in the water. the fish you mention find their home in very fast flowing, well oxygenated mountain streams, and so really like a lot of oxygen in the water. 40 fish seems quite excessive unless you have a large tank, and the more fish, then the less oxygen to around. so knowing the size of tank would help us.

    however, it could also be a sign of poor water quality, and a buildup of toxins in the water. how long has the tank been established? you say that you have tested for ammonia, and there is none there, but as directed above, you should also check for Nitrite and Nitrate in the water. generally, ammonia and nitrITE should both be absolute zero, and nitrATE should be at less than 40ppm (though tbh, the latter isnt that important, as science has yet to find a level where its deadly to fish, it just causes algae at high levels).

    in the meantime, disregard the above advice about water changes, and keep doing 50% water changes daily. as the fish showed signs of improvement when you did it, its worth it, and as long as you dechlorinate the water first, it wont have any impact on the filter whatsoever. this should give us a little leeway in terms of time, to try and establish what the problem is.

    hope this helps
    Fishy
     
  6. laurenbeautyroom

    laurenbeautyroom PetForums Junior

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    Thanks for your replies. I just went back to work to check on them and they are all totally fine swimming about and not at the top!!

    My filter is All Ponds Solutions 1400 EF plus
    Pump Power 35 w
    Output 1400 l/h
    Self priming

    it also has an additional electrical magnetic air pump. It is not in the tank it is outside and has a small tube into the tank with a blue end but I just looked and does not appear to be doing anything.

    My tank is approx 14 gallons
     
  7. ceretrea

    ceretrea PetForums Senior

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    Will disagree with you there. In my view continual 50% water changes will unbalance the ph of the water as well as gradually depleting the bacteria in the filter.

    NitrAte should be below 30ppm in my experience this can become toxic to fish although it tends to show more in levels of illness as opposed to this should of chronic issue.

    40 Garra Rufa in 14 gallons is too many fish in your tank. I think the reason the Ammonia and NitrIte is nil is because you keep resetting the nitrogen cycle with too many water changes. But you are in a vicious cycle because the 50% changes are keeping toxins low so stopping while there are that many fish in such a small space would kill them. But now you;ve started doing it you will have to carry on as the filter now can't do this for you.
    You need to do two things here. Firstly reduce the numbers of fish drastically or get a bigger tank. Secondly, install and airstone with an airpump to agitate the water. Thsi will put more oxygen into the water which will help in the short term.

    Long term though these fish will die if you do not get a bigger tank or less fish.
     
  8. ceretrea

    ceretrea PetForums Senior

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    This is your airstone, either the line is blocked or the airstone (blue thing) is clogged.
     
  9. Fishyfins

    Fishyfins PetForums Member

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    yeah, your tank is pretty overstocked. there is no hard rule for stocking your tank, but one general accepted level of stocking is 1cm of fish per litre of tank water. your tank is roughly 60L, so that would give approx 60cm of fish. this is usually calculated using the eventual final size of the fish, allowing them room to grow to their maximum size without having to change tanks later on.
    Garra Rufa can get to about 14cm long, meaning your tank will eventally only be able to hold 4 or 5 of them! hence why you are seen as overstocked. even if the fish you have are only 2cm long, you are still grossly overstocked.

    the more fish, the less oxygen, and the more waste they produce. both of these things lead to the symptoms you are describing. the best solution i can advise, is to trim your stock down. probably at this stage, id say take it down to about 10 fish, and no more, if they are smallish. but as i say when fully grown, your tank would only take 4 or 5 of them safely.

    as for the water change issue, large water changes are in general to be avoided, because yes, they can upset the equilibrium of a stable aquarium. hence why its usually only a 25% water change every week or two, and only doing a big one once or twice a year.
    however, in emergency conditions, such as events of high toxicity in the water (the one exception being new aquariums where you need a high toxicity to feed the developing bacteria), extreme temperature fluxuations, and depleted oxygen levels, then its is by far the lesser of two evils, and will give temporary reprive for the fish. in 15 years of fishkeeping, showing fish, working for 6 years at my LFC, and writing for Practical Fishkeeping magazine, i have never seen a single argument saying that such water changes can cause "damage" to the bacteria in the filter (when the water has been properly treated). as long as the water has been dechlorinated (and preferably brought to the same temperature), then there shouldnt be any problem for the filter bacteria. its true the bacteria lives on the waste in the water, which water changes remove, but as it should be zero anyway, your not really taking their food away, just resetting it to normal levels safe for fish. as long as there are fish in there activly producing the waste, then it will thrive and survive. though you are correct that when a tank is new and your cycling it, you should never do them, even if you have high ammonia and nitrite, as this removes the food they need to develop, in absence of fish.

    but as this is an emergency situation, and always was from the description, he should be doing them, as it will reduce toxicity, and provide oxygen which the fish will need. if he doesnt do them, then the fish may die a lot sooner.

    so anyway, my advice is to get rid of the bulk of the fish ASAP. cut down to maybe 10 small individuals, if not 4 or 5. that way, there should be no excess waste, and there should be enough oxygen to go around. if you dont, then i would assume the fish will not survive much longer.
     
  10. ceretrea

    ceretrea PetForums Senior

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    My experience has shown me different to yours. I don't have all those super credentials, I just have bog basic experience, I don't have scientific research but I can still offer my opinion and my experience is still valid.

    Im my experience doing regular water changes of more then 50% is detrimental to the biological filtration of any tank. It can also cause large fluctuations in water chemistry which is detrimental to fish health.

    But at this time it is the lesser of two evils. The rest we will have to disagree on, you have your opinion, I see it differently.

    The other advice we agree on at least.

    How are the fish today?
     
  11. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    Large, regular water changes will have NO effect on biological filtration. Very few (if any) filter bacteria are found in the water column, they need a hard surface to colonize. Water changes do not remove enough filter bacteria to cause any detrimental effects, it's simply an urban myth.

    Very large water changes on a regular basis will cause the pH to fluctuate, however it is more or less the 'fishkeeping standard' to ensure that the pH levels between the water in the tank and the water being used for the change are similar.
     
  12. laurenbeautyroom

    laurenbeautyroom PetForums Junior

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    Fish are all fine and swimming around happy as larry. I just don't know what I am doing wrong!!!
    It's always so up and down one min they ok few days later they not. Ammonia and nitrates/ites up down all over the place.
    Obviously I know now that there are too many fish but the company that sold me the system said 70-100!!!
    If they had been honest in the first place it would have saved me a lot of trouble and for the welfare of the fish!
    thanks for your help again
     
  13. Plebob

    Plebob PetForums Member

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    Sorry to hear about your problems. Your readings are all over the place because your tank is not yet cycled and is overstocked. You will need to do daily water changes of 50% to stop the fish being poisoned by their own waste. Any reading of ammonia over 0 is not acceptable. As has been mentioned previously this will not harm the bacteria as it is in your filter, not the water.
    Good luck.
     
  14. laurenbeautyroom

    laurenbeautyroom PetForums Junior

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    Ok so today fish are fine until they are fed and shortly after they sort of gather at the top again.
    No ammonia but is showing traces of nitrates and nitrites. This has been like this for maybe a week and half. I cannot get the nitrates/ites down at all.
    But I haven't lost any fish as soon as change water they go back to normal. I've just changed some now and they are all swimming about.
    When they have eaten and there are black bits floating in the bottom the filter does not seem to suck them out they just sit there till I get them out. Is this normal?

    A further problem just discovered is my air pump which sits outside the tank does not seem to work so the only water aerition is off the filter.
    There is no movement at all from the air pump till I took the blue stone off then it will give off a few pathetic bubbles but only if the end is about 1 cm in the water any deeper and it won't do anything. Shall I just chuck it and get something that will actually work? Any recomendations for a good air pump?

    Thanks
     
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