Clown Loach needs help!

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BensDad

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My ten-year old son has two clown loaches, one of which, my son affectionately named "Willy".  Willy has an extremely high respiration rate (like 250+ reps per minute!).  Both Willy and his buddy, "Sarge" look normal (in fact, Willy has wonderful color, healthy looking fins, no visible inflammation anywhere) and both otherwise behave normally.

Since rapid respiration seemed to be the only visible symptom we thought that maybe
Willy was suffering from gill flukes.  We tried a brief salt bath and nearly killed the poor thing (We've since read how hard salt baths can be to scaleless fish). Within 8 hours Willy was back to his normal but rapidly-respirating self.  We are about 40 hours past the salt bath and the rapid respiration has continued unabated. 

In addition to the two clown loaches, we also have a 6-inch pleco, 8 one-inch tetras, and a single one-inch mollie in a 29 gallon tank.  We do weekly (25%) water changes and water quality is good according to both our home tests and samples taken to our local pet store.  All other fish are healthy.  We add about a tablespoon of marine salt  to each seven gallons of water whenever we do a water change.

Any recommendations? Thanks!
 

LarryDavid

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No marine salt what so ever in a tank with clowns as you rightfully said they have no scales so it will be extremely stressful for your fish.

Hmm the only things i can suggest are the following.

Make sure there are plenty of hiding spaces for clown loach as they love to hide and squeeze into anything narrow even though you mmay see them out and about asd they are very social fish they really do need someone to feel safe and secure maybe if you do not have this its a sign of stress?

Have you checked your tank temperature? It may be too hot or cold for your clown loach?
 

Isabella

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First, welcome to Fish Lore BensDad

Marine salt is not a good idea in a freshwater tank, as Chris has noted. If you want to add any salt into a freshwater tank, use freshwater aquarium salt. Besides, salt is usually used when you're 100% sure the fish is sick, often in combination with other medications. If marine salt is different from regular aquarium salt (I presume it is), then this is maybe why your fish is breathing fast. If I were you, I'd stop adding salt. I'd perform regular water changes until the salt is out of the tank.

Besides, do you have tests for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? If you do, can you please post the readings? It would help us greatly in determination whether your fish's breathing difficulties have anything to do with water quality in terms of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

Lastly, how large are your clown loaches? Do you know that they may grow to around 12" in size? They need a tank around 75 gallons in size when they're fully grown, in order to live healthy lives. Also, if you have a common pleco, it will grow to something around 20", if not more. The pleco and clown loaches all need a large tank, I'd say at least 75 gallons in size.
 

smillermom

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Definitely try to remove the salt, it is not necessary at all. The loaches unfortunately will not last long in your tank as it is way too small. Loaches are very sensitive to water conditions. You have some pretty heavy duty waste producers in the pleco. I would return the loaches and plecos and think small in size. The panda Cories are as interesting as the loaches and enjoy a small school of 4. With the 8 inches for the tetras, 8 for cories, you would still have room for a dwarf pleco such as the clown pleco. Your Mollie will be okay. I would not add anything over 29 inches of fish. Your tank will be so much healthier!
 
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BensDad

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Thank you all for the advice.  We did a 25% water change and left out the salt.  Prior to the water change the pH was 6.7, ammonia was 0.5, Nitrites were 0, and the Nitrates were 10.  Water temp is always 26-27 C (78-80 F).  We added a pH neutralizer to the replacement water pull up the pH. 

Willy (the hyper-ventilating clown loach) is still respirating too fast, but the rate is down to about 200 reps per minute.  His color (orange and black) is very vibrant.  His buddy (Sarge) breathes normally but his color is not as vibrant.  Sarge we've had for several months.  Willy we bought about a month ago.  Willy's respiration rate was normal when we added him to the tank.

The clown loaches are both about two inches long, and they have two skulls (one small, one large) to hide in.  The large one they share with the pleco, which likes to hang upside down from the roof of the skull

We knew that the pleco would get large but did not know that the clown loaches would grow to be 12 inches.  We were told the "one-inch per gallon" rule at the pet store, but we were also told that it could take many years.  We also told my son that if he took very good care of his fish (which he tries very hard to do) that we would consider a larger tank at a later time.  Right now we have about 20 inches of fish in the (29-gallon)tank.
 

Isabella

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BensDad said:
We knew that the pleco would get large but did not know that the clown loaches would grow to be 12 inches.  We were told the "one-inch per gallon" rule at the pet store ...
The "1 inch per one gallon rule" is a very general guideline and it can't be used for larger fish. Having 12" of neon tetras (say, 12 neons) is OK in a 30 gallon tank. And even 30 neon tetras would probably be OK in there (provided that this would be the maximum of the fish in the tank). But having even one pleco or clown loach in a 30 gallon tank is too much. This is because plecos and clown loaches have body masses that are much heavier than those of neon tetras. Think about it: Do you think 12 neon tetras would be equivalent in body mass to one 12-inch clown loach? No. The clown loach will produce much more wastes than 12 neon tetras will. It will also need much more space to live, swim, and develop properly than 12 neon tetras need. So, you always need to consider the BODY MASS of a fish, not just its length in inches. Neon tetras can use this "rule" because they're so tiny and not very massive. But clown loaches and plecos are very massive and the "rule" cannot be applied to them. Imagine this: keeping a 12-inch clown loach in a 12 gallon tank (according to the "1 inch per 1 gallon" rule), lol ... does that make any sense at all? But keeping 12 neons in a 12 gallon tank would be quite OK.

BensDad said:
Prior to the water change the pH was 6.7 ... We added a pH neutralizer to the replacement water pull up the pH.
Adding commercial products to alter the pH, causes your pH to fluctuate. Fluctuating pH is more dangerous to fish than a lower or higher, but STABLE, pH. While a pH of 7.6 is quite high, it's not that "terribly bad" and most commercially bred freshwater fish should adapt to it. It's more important to keep a stable pH, than to have a fluctuating pH due to adding altering chemicals to your water.
 

smillermom

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To add about the inch rule, it is based on adult size, not juvenile size so a pleco would be anywhere up to 18 up in inches. Think about that huge body in a 29 knocking down ornaments as he moves, waste, attractivemenss, as well as illness due to stunting his growth.
 
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