Few fish acting strange

  • Thread starter

sirdarksol

Fishlore Legend
Messages
13,117
Reaction score
249
Points
383
Experience
3 years
I originally posted regarding Miyamoto in the goldfish forum, but over the past couple of hours, I've noticed several odd things in my tank, and want to deal with something before it becomes really serious.
First symptoms:
Miyamoto, my butterfly koi (still juvenile), had his fins clamped. I got closer to watch, and he reacted to my approach as normal. He unfurled his fins and swam to the tank wall to examine me. I watched him for awhile, and I think his fins have a pink tint that wasn't there before. Afterward, he kept his dorsal fin(I think that's the big fin on the back, please correct me if I'm wrong. Still learning the physiology) clamped except when he was swimming fast.
After this, I did a 25% water change. The last 25% water change was a couple of days ago. Normally do 25% every 3-4 days (ends up being about 50% a week), using AmQuel+ and adding "Correct pH" (It's a buffer agent that's supposed to help the tank keep a neutral pH, because mine tends to climb really quickly.

After that, as I was watching the tank, I noticed that one of the barbs was swimming in quick, jerking motions, running a small circuit in one corner of the tank. On closer inspection, that barb has a small piece of tail missing, but it's also the biggest and palest of the barbs. I'm pretty sure that it's pretty old and near the end of its natural life, so this could just be an old fish showing signs of being old. Miyamoto has been jumping more than normal in the past day.
Lastly, the smaller fish in the tank (three barbs and one glass fish) have been breaking from the group they normally keep, darting around the tank before collecting in a corner and resuming their school.
In general, the fish have been acting more nervous than normal. I'm afraid I can't describe it better than that. I'm sure many of you have just noticed that something is different with the fish that you've been watching for so long, without being able to put a precise finger on what is wrong.

Here is what I know about the situation:
pH: Was pretty high (8-8.5) prior to water change. Need to find a better way of buffering water against pH change. Something strips all of the alkalinity from the water shortly after its added to the tank. I've tested my home's water, which has an "ideal" alkalinity according to the test. My tank, however, usually has the low end until I add "Correct pH". After the water change and chemical addition, the pH has dropped to 7-7.5. Note: I am not using anything to specifically raise or lower the pH. Correct pH is supposed to buffer the water, making it more capable of holding a neutral pH. If this product may be part of the problem, please let me know.
Ammonia: Prior to water change, no more than .25 ppm. (I'm really bad at telling the difference between minor color changes, so I wasn't sure if it was yellow or yellow-green, but I know it wasn't more than .25.)
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 40. When I first joined the forum (a couple of weeks ago?) nitrates were in the 60's. I've been working on lowering them (have added bio media to the filter, more water changes, etc...) The tank is pushing its bioload limit (it was when I got it, and I didn't know any better when I replaced the guorami that died), and I am working to get the koi and goldfish out of there and into a tank designed specifically for their needs (they'll be happier in cooler water anyway).
Water Hardness: Hard to very hard.

I have found that the stuff Miyamoto has been showing may be due to improper pH. Jumping, redness in the fins, clamped fins, "flashing" (which I'm presuming is quick, turning movements that flash colors, again, correct me if I'm wrong, please), according to another website, are all potentially signs of improper pH.

Please let me know if you have any ideas of what might be going on. Thanks.
 

Luniyn

Well Known Member
Messages
695
Reaction score
4
Points
178
My first question would be try to determine what's causing your tank to go up in pH when your tap source is 7.0. What is your substrate? (Gravel, shell, sand, etc.) Do you have real plants or fake? Do you have any driftwood or non-plastic decorations in your tank and if so what are they? If you have a 7.0 source of water, there isn't any reason why you would have to buffer the water. Also if you already have hard water, I wouldn't be adding anything to "buffer" the tank anymore as yes that could very well be the reason for the pH spike. However, it's not so much improper pH as it is ups and downs in the pH that cause the stress. Fish can get used to a lot of different ranges of pH if it is constant and not changing. So let's work on getting control of your pH and go from there.

Also the nitrate as you have noticed is high and you should keep doing water changes to get that down below 20. Up the water changes as much as 20% per day until it gets under control and then you can back off to once a week and check to see if you need to do more or less then that.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

sirdarksol

Fishlore Legend
Messages
13,117
Reaction score
249
Points
383
Experience
3 years
Answers as I have them.
I have live plants in the tank. High pH has been happening longer than I have had them.
Substrate is natural-looking Estes brand gravel. Meant specifically for aquariums.
No driftwood, nothing non-plastic other than the plants.
As a note, high pH and loss of alkalinity was happening prior to adding the buffer agent. It's actually the reason I started adding it. I will stop doing so, however, and see if that has any effect on what's going on.
I knew that the pH wouldn't be a problem as long as it remained constant, but I noticed that it was starting to climb for no obvious reason.

Am continuing to work on getting (and keeping) nitrates below 20.
Thanks for the info and help so far.
 

Luniyn

Well Known Member
Messages
695
Reaction score
4
Points
178
Huh you have live plants and still your nitrate is so high? They should be helping out at least a bit. And that gravel isn't the problem either. How about your filter. What brand and model do you have and are you using anything other then the stock filter material in it? Activated Carbon or any other chemical treatment? And which water treatment chemical are you using? Very strange that it would be going up into the mid 8's from a perfect 7 out of the tap.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

sirdarksol

Fishlore Legend
Messages
13,117
Reaction score
249
Points
383
Experience
3 years
Plants are helping a bit. Since they've gone in, the nitrate reading has dropped a bit. I suppose I should point out that the plants are relatively new (few weeks), and were in response to the nitrate level. I should also point out that because I have a koi and a goldfish, the plants have not grown as large as they could have . I am making sure that extra plant bits get vacuumed up every few days.
Using activated carbon with a little bit of the white stuff (supposed to take ammonia out) in a Whisper 40 filter. In addition to the pre-measured Bio-Bags and the included bio-media, I have added a little extra sliver of bio-media. The nitrates and pH issues existed before this, but I don't know if this could have exacerbated things at all.
Also have an undergravel filter (wish I didn't, but I didn't know better when I got the tank and had a chance to take it apart. The head of one of the columns is an activated carbon filter, the other head has an ammonia removing filter.
Up until today I was using NovAqua+. Today I had to just go with AmQuel+, because I ran out of NovAqua. The NovAqua+ is supposed to take heavy metals out of water. Out of curiosity, does the term "alkalinity" refer to alkaline salts? I recall something about alkali substances being heavy metals. I wonder if that could have been unbalancing my tank. I suppose we'll find out in the coming days.

Thanks again for the attention you are paying to this. I'm glad someone else is worrying about helping my fish.
 

Luniyn

Well Known Member
Messages
695
Reaction score
4
Points
178
I actually use Prime because it does all that Amquel+ does plus several of the things NovAqua+ does as well (like remove the heavy metals). But I don't know that I would worry about it since you've been using NovAqua+ and it hasn't been helping so I don't think it's heavy metals. One thing I just thought of though when you mentioned the under gravel filter is aeration. Do you have any air stones or anything like that in your tank and if so, what types? Too much aeration will actually make your pH rise. And plants will actually contribute to that as well when you have the lights on as they are giving off oxygen at that time too.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

sirdarksol

Fishlore Legend
Messages
13,117
Reaction score
249
Points
383
Experience
3 years
Yes, I have two airstones (one on each end of the undergravel filter.) I thought aeration would drop the pH. This is remembering from high school chemistry (12 years ago ), but I thought that dissolved gases made a liquid more acidic.
Anyway, what do you suggest I do? I'm worried for two reasons about just turning the air pump off. #1, I don't want a sudden change in pH, since the fish already seem stressed about something. #2, I don't want the water under the filter to go stagnant and become an anaerobic zone. This won't be an issue in a month or so, as I'm hoping to have another aquarium that I can use as a holding tank while I tear the undergravel filter out of this one.
 

Luniyn

Well Known Member
Messages
695
Reaction score
4
Points
178
For now I would say just keep up with the water changes until you can get rid of that undergravel filter. Getting your nitrate down to the 10ish range should really improve the health of your fish. You could try and just turn off 1 of the airstones and see if your pH continues to climb or slows it's climb. Though I wouldn't think that 2 airstones would make that big of a difference but it's worth a shot. And yes, as more oxygen is dissolved through aeration the more dissolved minerals there are in the water. The more dissolved minerals the higher the pH.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

sirdarksol

Fishlore Legend
Messages
13,117
Reaction score
249
Points
383
Experience
3 years
Luniyn said:
For now I would say just keep up with the water changes until you can get rid of that undergravel filter. Getting your nitrate down to the 10ish range should really improve the health of your fish. You could try and just turn off 1 of the airstones and see if your pH continues to climb or slows it's climb. Though I wouldn't think that 2 airstones would make that big of a difference but it's worth a shot. And yes, as more oxygen is dissolved through aeration the more dissolved minerals there are in the water. The more dissolved minerals the higher the pH.
Would be difficult to turn off just one anyway. I'd have to get a different air pump.
And thank you for the scientific explanation.
 

vin

Well Known Member
Messages
1,446
Reaction score
86
Points
208
Actually, you could work with hoses and a gate valve on your existing pump....Much cheaper in the long run and very easy to set up.
 

Luniyn

Well Known Member
Messages
695
Reaction score
4
Points
178
I'm guessing you have 2 outputs on your pump now? If that's the case then you can use a 'T' connector to merge them into 1 tube to run up to the top of your tank where you install a gate valve as Vin suggested. Then out of the gate valve you can have 2, 3, 4, 6, etc. outputs depending on the type of valve you buy. Eave valve has it's own flow controller and will allow you to send as much or as little air to each stone. I have 1 airstone in my tank but even that I have on a valve so I can crank it way down as full output is just way too much. The gate valves are usually only about $5 give or take (depending on which one you buy) and the various connectors are usually only a buck or 2 for several of them so you wouldn't ever have to buy more. So it would should cost less then $10 and give you total control of the air coming out the bubble flows. Then you could crank down both to low output and see if the pH rise is slower or better yet non-existent.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter

sirdarksol

Fishlore Legend
Messages
13,117
Reaction score
249
Points
383
Experience
3 years
Awesome. Thank you both.
 
Toggle Sidebar

Aquarium Calculator

Follow FishLore!





Top Bottom