Fish at surface after water change

  • #41
He'll go to the top of the tank to get a breath of air, then shoot down to the bottom and hide. You're right though, it could be normal behavior. He's still eating and swimming around. He has ich too, but not as badly as the tetras did. Btw, as I feared, the tetras didn't make it.
  • #42
Well gouramis do breathe from the top of the tank. It sounds like he thinks hes a cory lol. He might be hiding due to stress, but he does need to go to the top of the tank from time to time.
  • #43
Actually, I already knew a gourami's behavior in that regard. But what seemed strange is his tendency to shoot around the tank instead of going steadily.

I pulled the filter media and add ich medication. I would've removed just the carbon portion, but it would destroy the media, so I'll do a 50% water change tomorrow. I hope this does the trick.
  • #44
You pulled the media out of the tank? You know that almost all of your beneficial bacteria that are trying to cycle your tank live in that media, right?
  • #45
I have a bio-wheel filter, so that shouldn't be an issue, not to mention my tank isn't cycled yet either.
  • #46
I figured out why my gourami was behaving so erratically. The air pump I am running to the 6" long airstone was causing too much current in the water and it was stressing him out. Once I shut off the pump, he is back to his relaxed self at the top of the tank.

The ich treatment is working with meds and high temp. It's clearing up very well on both fish.... maybe in a week or two I'll check into getting replacements for my school of dead tetra... I was thinking platies or going back to all black phantom tetras. That was a fiasco. At least I'll know how to handle it now if it ever happens again. My wife is already trying to talk me out of this hobby.
  • #47
6 inches is definitely a lot of bubbles, you could probably still use the pump but get a smaller airstone and put it in a corner or something.
  • #48
The only thing I was thinking when I bought it was "LOTS OF OXYGEN". Little that I knew I was going to turn the aquarium into a jacuzzi.
  • #49
Hang in the Myriad!

Once the tank is cycled, life will be much easier on you and your fish.

Best wishes!

  • #50
It's very close to being done it looks like. It's been a long wait.... then I can concentrate on the 5 gallon.
  • #51
Yesterday I did a routine water change in my 20 gallon tank, and I noticed some of the fish gasping at the surface afterwards. I also noticed the water was a little hazy. Very strange I thought. So I did a couple more back-to-back water changes to take out what ever it was that was stressing the fish. Two fish have died as a result with the possibility of more death on the way and I'm not sure why.

Then today the same thing in my 55 gallon. I did a routine water change and now I have some fish gasping at the surface... even the cories are coming to the surface more than usual to get a gulp of air. This also occurred with the cories in my 20 gallon yesterday.

What could be causing this *after* a water change? Something in the tap water? If it is, I have no clue what it could be. All the water parameters are normal and I did nothing out of the ordinary during the water change.

I'm running an airstone in the tank right now to get more oxygen in the water and it seems to be helping some. I normally don't have to run it.
  • #52
Did you use dechlorinator?
  • #53
I always do. I even with dosed with extra Amquel after I noticed the stress.... it doesn't seem to be helping.
  • #54
Test for ammonia and nitrites in your tap water if you haven't already. It sounds like there is something funky happening that both tanks have been affected after a water change. How do you refill your tanks.. hose or pail? When are you adding the Amquel and NovAqua?
  • #55
There isn't any NH3 or NO2 in the tank water immediately after the water change (I tested it already), which means there isn't any in the tap. I use a hose and pail for the 20 gallon and a python for the 55. I add Amquel and Novaqua to the tanks before the tap water. What would explain the hazy water? What could a city water supply have added that would remove oxygen from the water?
  • #56
Gasping at the surface can be a few other things besides ammonia/nitrite poisoning. Heavy metal poisoning and a rapid change in pH. You should be using a water conditioner to remove heavy metals. which you do. Other pollutant poisoning that may have gotten in your water source. Do you use activated carbon?

The thing about water changes is that it puts oxygen back in. Addition of an airstone was a good idea.
  • #57
My tanks normally averages a pH around 7 despite the tap pH of around 8.5. After a water change, the pH will rise to 7.5 to 7.8, then drop after a few days due to a moderately low kH. However, this has never caused extreme stress in the fish before.

There is activated carbon built into the filter.

Amquel and Novaqua remove heavy metals.

What toxic metal could be in the water that Amquel *doesn't* remove??
  • #58
Amquel+ can moderately reduce oxygen levels in the water during first hours after use if I remember reading that on the bottle when I had it. Running extra surface agitation for the first hours of using it is a good idea. Are you treating the whole tank volume or just the new water?

I hope things settle down for you.
  • #59
The whole tank. I don't use enough to reduce the oxygen. I only use enough to treat 10 gallons... the Amquel that is.

Believe me, this isn't some error on my part as I have done nothing I haven't done 100 times already. There is something in the tap water that is killing my fish right before my eyes and it is lethal. It looks like I fed them cyanide. This is serious. I have nearly 50 fish about ready croak and I have no idea what is causing it. They went from thriving to serious distress in an instant. I can't get a hold of the water department to find out what problem there may be with the water supply and I am seriously stressed out.

I'm just trying to get a clue as to what could be suddenly put in the water supply that wasn't there before that causes hazy water and can kill fish, but not humans. This is a very unusual occurrence.
  • #60
Good morning. I hope your fish are doing better today.

If not, does a Walmart or grocery store near you sell RO water? It might be worth doing a water change with RO on the 20, as a test case, to see if that improves the situation. I know that would be expensive in the long term, but it might buy your fish some time.
  • #61
I'd call your water supply company.
  • #62
I agree, call the water company. This time of year they do stuff to the water. Like here in our city they are adding extra chlorine to clean out the pipes (my mom works for the water office so she tells me this stuff!). So it might be so much that the regular dose of conditioner isn't able to dechlorinate it all.
  • #63
Also what type of substrate do you have? If you are using a sand it could be that the sand hasn't been stirred up and is releasing bad gases....just a thought :/
  • #64
Thanks for the input everybody. I wish my fish are doing better.... some are, and some aren't.

I did call the city water department quality lab and he was dumbfounded, so that left me with no answers, except that they had been adding alum to the water because of the flooding of the Maumee River to help break down the mud. I know it is not extra chlorine because I was using extra conditioner in the hopes of it helping the fish, but it did not. I did call my trusted LFS to see if they had any problems. They did not do any water changes over the weekend, but they did do some top offs and she said that the water had that same haze, possibly aluminum sulfate (alum).

As far as RO water goes, it would be very expensive to get 55 gallons worth.

The 20 gallon has clarified itself somehow (not sure how though), so I had to double it up as a hospital tank for some of the sickest fish from my 55 gallon. It's overstocked at the moment, but I had no other recourse. The water in my 55 gallon is still hazy, but I'll have to attempt another water change in the hopes that the tap water is not toxic anymore. The gouramis and cories are hanging in there, and most of all the fish ate (which is a good sign), but I did end up losing a total of 23 fish between both tanks. Hopefully I won't lose anymore.

I think I'm going to try to have the city reimburse me for all the fish deaths.
  • #65
RO water needs to be remineralized before it can be used for fish as well. It should never be used as is.

Here is a little info that I thought you might be interested in reading. It describes alum precipitating out of the water which does sound very much the same as you noticed.

This link talks about alum being toxic to fish under certain conditions as well as alum affecting pH. If the toxicity isn't what killed your fish, maybe there was a drastic pH shift when the new water was added due to the alum being in the water.
  • #66
Thanks for the info. The tank did experience a pH shift from the extra alum being in the water. The tank pH usually varies from 6.8 to 7.5, but the tap water is in the high 8's. The water also has a moderately low kH, which causes the pH to drop slowly. I didn't test the tap water with the extra alum in it, but I did test the tank water after the water change and the pH was around 8.

After skimming over those articles, one thing I realized now, after I did the water change, the water was not only hazy, but there was a lot of microbubbles in the water, like soda. It was even on a lot of the fish, like as if there was a lot of CO2 in the water. Makes me glad I have been running that air stone, otherwise it could've been worse.

Does anybody know if alum stays dissolved in the water or does it break down on its own chemically? The reason I ask is because the tank seems to be clearing up, but very slowly.
  • #67
Alum is supposed to form heavier-than-water particles and sink into your substrate rather than remaining dissolved.

However, everything that I find on alum suggests that it should be LOWERING your pH, not raising it. If your pH went from the expected mid-range to over 8, you may not be dealing with alum.

BTW -- if it is alum, you should be aware that some sources say the aluminum present in alum becomes toxic to fish in acidic water. (You already know that something toxic is in your water, obviously, but since the aluminum sinks into the substrate and thus remains in the tank, acidic water could cause more fish death.)
  • #68
Alum is soluble in water like a salt. As far as I know it will not dissipate without dilution (water changes). Unfortunately, in your case that would just be adding more alum.

Alum should give the water acidic properties though. If the alum concentration was high enough, your water should have a low pH, not high.

Just a long shot, but this time of year I think a lot of water companies switch over to chloramine instead of chlorine. Chloramine is basically bonded chlorine and ammonia that I'm pretty sure will break down over time into free chlorine and free ammonia. Maybe you need to up the dosage of whatever chemical you're using to treat the water prior to adding to the aquarium to compensate for this.
  • #69
I think the course of action you should maybe look into is testing the KH of your aquarium water. If KH is under 90ppm, increasing the KH which will also increase your pH will keep your water from being in the acidic conditions where the alum is most likely to harm your fish.

In acidic conditions according to info, alum bonds with the fish's gills and suffocates them, so preventing acidic conditions in your aquarium by boosting your KH and pH would seem to make sense.

KH can be increased by using a little crushed coral or crushed oyster shells in the filtration system. A little goes a long ways, so only use a little at first and add to it if you need to. The crushed coral or crushed oyster shells will increase GH, KH and pH, so you can track your progress by testing those 3 things.
  • #70
Well I gave the water company another call today and they told me that they cut back on the extra alum last Sunday, so I should expect that water supply to reach us within a few days. They also told me that the alum shouldn't cause fish death, even though everything I read tells me the opposite (like toosie mentioned). Also, they said the hazy water conditions were caused by dissolved air in the water and not carbon dioxide or alum, which I'm not entirely convinced of either. The pH they try to maintain at the treatment plant is between 9 and 9.5, but the kH is around 3 dkH, so it does drop slowly, but not overly so. By the time the water reachs our house, the pH is 8.5 on average.

But in any case, the water is coming back to normal and the fish left over from this tragedy are showing color, which I'm relieved to see. Even this morning they were paste white.
The pH of the water right now is around 7.2.

@toosie: I'm glad you mentioned that property of alum, because that would make perfect sense. The tank water pH was around 7 (maybe slightly lower) when I did the water change on Sunday and immediately afterwards is when they showed signs of suffocation. The only fish not affected were the ones that could find other sources of oxygen. Amazingly, the one exception was my Red Phantoms. I didn't loose any of them and they seemed completely unaffected even when the other fish were showing signs of stress. They are tough little buggers.

@aylad: I do have a plan in place do get the aluminum out of the gravel. While the pH is above 7, I'll do small consecutive water changes and a heavy gravel vac while most of the decor is out of the tank. Although I am a little skittish about doing it since I really have no way of knowing if the tap water is now free of the extra alum here.

Update: I'm going to wait on the water change. I filled a glass with water and let it sit for about an hour and there is still some effervescence in the water. That's a bad sign.
  • #71
Oy. Good luck! I hope your fish make it through ok.
iZaO Jnr
  • #72
I can completely appreciate that you have followed this procedure many times, but as many people say, this time of year water corps do funny things.

I think it will be best, for future purposes, that you use 50% RO water and 50% tap water during these busy times. This will help level the pH and reduce the amount of extra uynknowns in your tap water. From my school studies, Alum does dissapate in water, but becomes highly toxic to respiratory systems(breathing) when the water is acidic, not to say that it isn't toxic in any conditions. Although it does dissociate in the water, there will be a lot of "Al" that sinks to the bottom. I would suggest back to back gravel vacs over 3 - 5 days to make sure that as much as possible is removed.

Another precaution would be to not only test your tap water when you test your tanks, but also inspect the tap water that is to go into each tank just before each change. This sounds so simple, but as you said, it was hazy and in almost all cases, you can be sure that that means something has changed in the water.

Good luck with the fish and keep us posted.
  • #73
I checked the water in a glass for a couple of days before I attempted a 20% water change with a heavy gravel vac to remove the sunken alum. The fish that survived are also completely recovered from the incident and the new fish I introduced into the tank are doing fantastic. The new fish are actually motivating the old fish back into swimming around again. It is relieving to see.
  • #74
Congratulations on their recovery myriad. It's nice to get these kinds of updates.
iZaO Jnr
  • #75
That's great news!!

Good luck in the future, lets hope that nothing like that happens again
  • #76
I'll just have to skip water changes during times of flood.
  • #77
Good morning all. Observed the last few days the fish spending a lot of time at the surface. I’ve carried out a couple of partial water changes. Tested the water daily. Originally the ammonia was a little high, then the nitrite. (I’m assuming the tank is cycling still. That being said I’ve run a water check this morning. Sort from ammonia being 0.25ppm, nitrate and nitrite is all good. Water still looks a little cloudy and fish still (most of them) at surface. Any ideas other than another partial water change/clean today?

  • #78
Is there enough surface agitation?
  • #79
Is there enough surface agitation?

If by agitation you mean oxygenated yes. Have a Fluval U2 filter set so the upper Port is in use. So all the bubbles are on the surface. They seem better since the water change.
  • #80
most likely ammonia poisoning. do daily water changes, and use Prime to detox the ammonia.

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