Bloated Marbled Raphael Catfish

  • #1
Hello, everyone. I am new to Fishlore and joined to resolve this issue. Thank you in advance for your help.

30 gallons
Running since 2016 or 2017, but bought used
Has both a filter and heater
Water temp 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Tank stocked with 1 discus, 1 angelfish, 4 plecostamuses (1 small, 2 medium, 1 the biggest fish in the tank), and 1 marbled Raphael Catfish (second biggest fish; also the one that is ill)

I change 50% of the water every two to four weeks
I treat the water with Aqueon water conditioner
I always vacuum the substrate

Yes, I cycled my tank, but I do not test the water

I feed my fish once a day. I feed a pinch of Tetra Cichlid crisps, a large pinch of Tetra Color XL tropical granules, 5 Top Fin algae wafers, and around 10 Omega One shrimp pellets. I do not feed frozen or freeze-dried foods.

Illness and Symptoms
I have had my marbled Raphael catfish for between 1 and 2 years, and the previous owner had her for at least 5 years.
I first noticed symptoms last night.
Her stomach is so bloated that she looks pregnant, and her gills are fluttering because she is breathing so rapidly.
No treatment yet, but I want to try feeding peas. How do you prepare them, and will it harm all of the other fish who have no symptoms?
The fish was perfectly healthy when I bought her.
Last night, she was having a hard time staying at the bottom of the tank, and her stomach was very bloated. I haven't seen her much yet today because she is hiding (which is normal for her; she usually hides until feeding time at night, then hides again until the light is turned off). However, she is not having trouble staying at the bottom anymore.

Last night, my marbled Raphael catfish's stomach was extremely bloated, her gills were fluttering, and she was having a hard time staying at the bottom. Today she seems to be having an easier time staying at the bottom, but her breathing is still very rapid and labored. I haven't seen her stomach yet since she is hiding, which is what she usually does during the day. The only thing that has changed in the tank is that I got a new plecostamus last Sunday that is bigger than she is. The other three were all smaller. Since the new plecostamus is very big and there is not much algae in my tank, I started feeding algae wafers. I started out feeding 2 or 3 with the rest of the food at night, but my big pleco was already looking for more food the next morning, so I gradually increased to 5. I am afraid that my marbled Raphael might have eaten an algae wafer (they are small enough for her to put one in her mouth) and it got stuck or cannot be digested. What can I do to help her get back to her normal self?

  • #2
Just a response, it is very very very difficult to cycle a tank without testing, please get a testing kit so you can check the ammonia & more in your water. Water changing the tank 2-4 weeks with 4 plecos isn't going to cut it. I suggest to rehome 3 of them, plecos poop a lot and 4 of them could fight and would cloud up the tank in poop. A discus also needs a larger tank & needs to be in a group. The temperature is also too low for the discus. The catfish also get up to 9 inches long, and requires a bare minimum of 50 gallons.

To clarify, please re-home 3 plecos, the discus, and the catfish. The 3 plecos will fight, the discus needs warmer temperatures, a group, and a larger tank. While the catfish just gets too big for the tank.

Finally to get to the fish's situation, I think it may be from lack of oxygen in the water, but that's just my 2 cents. You can fix this by getting an aerator(if you don't have one), but that might not be the answer. The pleco's wafer probably isn't causing this either, as you've had this fish for so long & I would bet it had eaten the wafers before. It also could be ammonia burn, so water changes would have to be more often & lighting the bio-load on the tank.

Members who can help
mattgirl RayClem 86 ssinit
  • #3
As was said in the previous post, your tank seems too small for that many fish/species. Setting that aside, my best guess would be too much ammonia buildup in the tank, or at least too suddenly. I would suggest trying to clean the tank more often, try to read the levels in your tank if possible, and if possible get a different tank for a couple of them. If she is bloated from too much eating on the other hand I would suggest feeding your fish while keeping an eye on them and fishing out the rest afterwards.

Do not trust me on this but i do not believe peas are ever harmful to a fish, sick or not. When preparing peas for my goldfish i boil the pea, take of its skin and break it into halves/quarters. The last step may be unnessecary depending on your fish's size.
  • #4
First, Welcome to Fishlore.

The one thing that stands out the most to me is your water change schedule. When plecos are involved you need to be doing water changes more often. I have to ask. How big is the biggest one? What kind of plecos are they? All plecos are poop machines so they tend to foul the water quickly. Over filtration helps but water changes are the best way to keep your fish healthy.

I don't get into stocking levels but with so many fish in a 30 gallon tank I highly recommend you change out no less than 50% of the water each and every week.
86 ssinit
  • #5
Ok yeah this happens. Raphael cat may just be at the end of its life. It’s real easy to say that the nitrate is probably well over 80 probably 160. Fish have been in this condition for years so they’ve adjusted. Major water changes will probably hurt the fish. Water change should be more often. Start with every 10 days. And after a month go weekly.
Get a test kit. How long have you owned the discus? It definitely does not belong. Well really it and the angel are probably the only one the could work in a 30 but they don’t belong together. 4 plecos in a 30!! Yellow water?

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