Fish dying, breathing heavily help!

  • #1
This morning I went to feed my fish (dwarf gourami) and he looked like he was stuck behind one of his houses. I thought he was dead, but he wasn’t. He is now at the bottom of the tank, breathing heavily, and swimming in a very disoriented manner. At first I thought he was in shock from getting stuck, so I put stress coat in the water, added an extra oxygen stone, and turned the water temp up slightly. He has NOT gotten better and it’s been 6.5 hours since I first discovered him this way. Now I’m wondering- is he really in shock? Is he actually sick? Is there something wrong with the water? I did add some new (treated) water 4 days ago, but neither he nor the other fish in the tank had any adverse reactions at the time. He looks pretty normal, although perhaps a little pale. He has no visible disease or scars on his fins or body. I’m not sure how to help him- I don’t want to move him to another treated tank if he is in shock b/c that might put him further into shock. PLEASE HELP! I don’t want him to die :/
  • Thread Starter
  • #3

What is the water volume of the tank?
* 30 gallons
How long has the tank been running?
* almost 1 year
Does it have a filter?
* yes
Does it have a heater?
* yes
What is the water temperature?
* 78 F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
* 5 albino Cory catfish (all acting normal); 1 dwarf gourami (sick); 2 air stones, 1 LED light, 1 fake plant, 1 house (which is shaped like a reptile skull).

How often do you change the water?
* every other week. I added treated water to the tank 4 days ago.
How much of the water do you change?
What do you use to treat your water?
* Neutral Regulator by Seachem

Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
* mostly just the water, sometimes the substrate. Have not cleaned the substrate lately.
*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
* yes
What do you use to test the water?
* test strips
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
*I dont have the exact parameters- I apologize.
-NO2: <0.5
-NO3: <20
-PH: 7.5

How often do you feed your fish?
How much do you feed your fish?
* 1 pinch
What brand of food do you feed your fish?
* Aqueon
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?
*yes, once a week I feed Them bloodworms

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish?
*over 6 months
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms?
*6.5 hours ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms?
Have you started any treatment for the illness?
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?
*see original post
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)
*see original post
  • #4
So when you fed them this morning, he didn't eat? Maybe try again and see what happens? He might be injured and it just hasn't show up yet. He definitely seems to be very stressed out.
And by swimming disoriented, is he not able to swim upright or how exactly is he swimming?
I would keep the lights off for the rest of the day and possibly even tomorrow if he is still acting very odd.

Also I would also advise to soon get a test kit that includes ammonia as well. I'm not sure why it would be showing a reading of nitrites (I'm assuming that's what NO2 is on your test kit) unless your tank isn't cycled which after a year it definitely should be as long as the filter wasn't completely replaced etc. I don't use test strips so I'm not as familiar with how they result or if sometimes they show higher results etc.
Also since your Nitrate levels are higher even after 4 days out of a water change I would definitely consider changing out your water every week, or doing a bigger water change if you still want to do it bi-weekly.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thank you for all the info/advice.

He did not eat when I fed him this morning. Since I found him this morning, he has been either laying at the bottom of the tank, or swimming upside down and running into things. He’s also panting very heavily (I put an extra oxygen stone near him).

I will get a better test kit (am going to the pet store now) to get a more accurate reading. Also will start changing the water every week.

Video of fish swimming -

Tested the water with a more advanced testing kit, and the PH and ammonia are a bit high. Going to do a water change - maybe about 50%?? Also looked up swim bladder disease and thinking this may be in play?
  • #6
Oh yeah poor thing, that definitely looks like swim bladder. If you can, separate him in another tank and lower the water level so he doesn’t have to swim so far to get up to the top of the tank. Definitely do a large water change and raise the temp up a tad to maybe 80. Also, I wouldn’t feed him for the next few days.
It could possibly be caused by an infection so if you wanted to treat him with a broad spectrum antibiotic you could or you could add some aquarium salt and see how it goes.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
THANK YOU FOR THIS INFO! I’m changing the water now and will turn the temp up to 80. I won’t feed him for a few days and will treat him with a broad spectrum antibiotic. I have Myacin and Melafix... should I use either of those, or something different.
  • #8
Hmm do you have any aquarium salt on hand? I’d maybe try the higher temp and that first. I really don’t think it’s like an infection per say, especially if you sort of found him stuck earlier. He could of injured something. I use aquarium salt for pretty much any issue first and then resort to other meds if other things start showing me it’s bacterial/parasite etc.

Similar Aquarium Threads

Rose of Sharon
California L33


Top Bottom