Fish Gasping For Air, Water Parameters Ok.

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Kso2017

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Hello all, I’ve been googling this for hours and can’t find a good answer. I hope you can help. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time so I’ll try to be as concise as possible.

Problem: The fish in my tank (3 Guppies, 3 Dalmatian Mollies) seem to be gasping for air at the top of the tank. I thought it might be due to a high level of Nitrites, but my water parameters seem to be within acceptable levels. Read further for more information.


Water Parameters: I am using the Sera liquid test (not strips) kit for the following measurements. I tested the water this afternoon and got the following measurements.

Ph: 7.5
Ammonia: 0.0 ppm (mg/L)
Nitrites: 0.0 ppm (mg/L)
Nitrates: 0 ppm (mg/L)
Water Temperature: 26.9 C/80.4 (mg/L)

Some photos demo sting these numbers




Tank information: The tank is about 3 weeks old. The fish were added about 5 days ago. We got the tank, set it up with the filter, heater, gravel, live plants, etc and then added some starter bacteria to the water. We let it “cycle” to develop healthy bacteria colonies for about 2 weeks. Tank is 60L or 15 gallons. There are 3 mollies, 3 guppies ans 2 nerite snails in the tank.

I’m an absolute beginner here and have just been googling my way through every step of the process. I’m now so worried about the fish because they seem to be gasping for air at the surface and I’ve checked the pump is working and circulating water well. The heat seems to be at a normal temperature (I’m using a digital thermometer). The nitrites and ammonia are at reasonable levels. I’ve been feeding them about 2x per day with a small pinch of flakes in the am (maybe about 1 flake per fish. Not so much as I’ve read their stomachs are bout the size of their eyes. Idk if that’s true. They eat probably 90% of the food in the first 60 seconds). And 1/4 block of frozen food in the evening. Plants are all doing quite well and growing quickly.

What am I doing wrong? How can I help my fishies?!

Thanks so much for any help you can offer.
 

Gabe123

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Warmer tanks like yours can not contain as much oxygen as cooler tanks. If your heater is adjustable try turning it down two degrees fahrenheit and seeing if that makes a difference if not my guppies are always at the top when I'm around because they think I will feed them and they are always hungry.
 

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I'm afraid 2 weeks isn't usually enough time for a tank to cycle unless you are using filter media from a previous tank. Also, if your tank was cycled, there should always be some nitrates unless your tank is heavily stocked with fast growing plants (which, by the looks of things, it isn't)
 
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Kso2017

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Warmer tanks like yours can not contain as much oxygen as cooler tanks. If your heater is adjustable try turning it down two degrees fahrenheit and seeing if that makes a difference if not my guppies are always at the top when I'm around because they think I will feed them and they are always hungry.
Thank you. I’ve also read that warm water can’t contain as much oxygen but I wasn’t sure exactly what qualified as warmer. I will try turning the heat down a bit.
 

Mary765

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Thank you. I’ve also read that warm water can’t contain as much oxygen but I wasn’t sure exactly what qualified as warmer. I will try turning the heat down a bit.
No don't. A sudden change in temperature isn't good for fish, especially if you're are stressed as they seem to be. 26/7º is fine for guppies.
 
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Kso2017

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I'm afraid 2 weeks isn't usually enough time for a tank to cycle unless you are using filter media from a previous tank. Also, if your tank was cycled, there should always be some nitrates unless your tank is heavily stocked with fast growing plants (which, by the looks of things, it isn't)
Unfortunately I didn’t know that 2 weeks wasn’t enough when I got the fish. I was sort of relying on the pet store advice until I realized how much information was really required. Is there anything I can do for the moment to help them?

No don't. A sudden change in temperature isn't good for fish, especially if you're are stressed as they seem to be. 26/7º is fine for guppies.
Should I try gradually decreasing the temperature then? Maybe half a degree per day or something?
 
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Mary765

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Unfortunately I didn’t know that 2 weeks wasn’t enough when I got the fish. I was sort of relying on the pet store advice until I realized how much information was really required. Is there anything I can do for the moment to help them?
Ah it's ok, we've all made that mistake before, but per store advice is usually not very accurate unless you go to a small individual seller with experience of their own.

You are now doing a fish-in-cycle. My advice is to check your parameters daily, do a daily 25% water change or more depending on your parameters and to add more bacteria booster whenever your parameters aren't good.

Should I try gradually decreasing the temperature then? Maybe half a degree per day or something?
If you want a slightly colder temperature then I would suggest maybe 1º A day until about 25 or 24º (Both are good temperatures for guppies also)

Colder temperatures will slow down your guppies movement a little but will help the tank average slightly more
 
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Kso2017

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Ah it's ok, we've all made that mistake before, but per store advice is usually not very accurate unless you go to a small individual seller with experience of their own.

You are now doing a fish-in-cycle. My advice is to check your parameters daily, do a daily 25% water change or more depending on your parameters and to add more bacteria booster whenever your parameters aren't good.
I’ve tested the water today and got acceptable parameters. Should I still do a water change?

If you want a slightly colder temperature then I would suggest maybe 1º A day until about 25 or 24º (Both are good temperatures for guppies also)

Colder temperatures will slow down your guppies movement a little but will help the tank average slightly more
Great. I’ll decrease the temp a little bit then. Thank you
 
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SegiDream

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Regardless of temperature it looks like the surface of the water has zero movement. Surface agitation facilitates gas exchange aka oxygen going into the water. I would suggest fixing that otherwise even adjusting the temperature alone may not fix the low oxygen issue.

Edited to add: by fixing that I mean adding an air pump or adjusting the filter in some way.
 
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Kso2017

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Regardless of temperature it looks like the surface of the water has zero movement. Surface agitation facilitates gas exchange aka oxygen going into the water. I would suggest fixing that otherwise even adjusting the temperature alone may not fix the low oxygen issue.
Hi, thanks for the input. The surface of the water actually has a fairly strong current. I can attach a short video if that would help. I’m using a pump suitable for up to an 80 l tank.

Hi Segi, here’s a video. Do i need more circulation? Less?

IMG_0248.MOV

Regardless of temperature it looks like the surface of the water has zero movement. Surface agitation facilitates gas exchange aka oxygen going into the water. I would suggest fixing that otherwise even adjusting the temperature alone may not fix the low oxygen issue.

Edited to add: by fixing that I mean adding an air pump or adjusting the filter in some way.
Hi, thanks for the input. The surface of the water actually has a fairly strong current. I can attach a short video if that would help. I’m using a pump suitable for up to an 80 l tank.
 
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CanadianJoeh

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What I suggest is turning your temperature down to 76 or even 74 (turn it down by 2 degrees every 12 hours) to oxygenate your water more. Warmer water means less oxygen.

Then, buy yourself an air pump and an airstone (they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes) and throw that in. It will help oxygenate your water and it should help solve your problem.


EDIT
Also, maybe add more cycling agent to confirm that your tank has indeed cycled.
 
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Kso2017

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If the ammonia and nitrite are 0, then don't bother, but else then you need to do a water change with warm conditioner water.

Add some beneficial bacteria regardless
I will definitely do this. Right now.

What I suggest is turning your temperature down to 76 (turn it down by 2 degrees every 12 hours) to oxygenate your water more. Warmer hotter means less oxygen.

Then, buy yourself an air pump and an airstone (they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes) and throw that in. It will help oxygenate your water and it should help solve your problem.


EDIT
Also, maybe add more cycling agent to confirm that your tank has indeed cycled.

This may be a really stupid question, but do I not already have an air pump? I thought that was what’s circulating the water in the tank. There is a little “spout” which sticks up out of the water. I thought it was to take in air. Is this what you’re talking about or something else?
 
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Mary765

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This may be a really stupid question, but do I not already have an air pump? I thought that was what’s circulating the water in the tank. There is a little “spout” which sticks up out of the water. I thought it was to take in air. Is this what you’re talking about or something else?
No that's something else entirely! You can search for "aquarium air pump" on Amazon to see what we are talking about
 
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Kso2017

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No that's something else entirely! You can search for "aquarium air pump" on Amazon to see what we are talking about
OK then! I just bought one of those. Does it matter where it the tank it goes? For example, can I place it near the filter or not?
 

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OK then! I just bought one of those. Does it matter where it the tank it goes? For example, can I place it near the filter or not?
The air stone I presume you are talking about.

I would place it as far away from the filter as possible because then you get the best air flow around the whole tank
 
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Kso2017

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The air stone I presume you are talking about.

I would place it as far away from the filter as possible because then you get the best air flow around the whole tank
Fabulous. Thank you. I will get that into the tank as soon as possible.
 
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