Fish Swimming On Top Despite Water Change

  1. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    I have a fully cycled 70gal tank with 2 young/small blood parrots, 1 baby severum, 1 swordfish, 1 dwarf gourami, 4 baby serpae tetras and 3 catfish. They were swimming on top of the tank gasping for air this morning so I did a 40% water change and cleaned the gravol as well. No dead fish. The tank is fully planted (no plastic). An hour after the water change I tested the water and the ammonia was at 3.5! Ph was 7. So I did another water change (this time 60% but did not touch the gravol). They immediately seemed happier and started swimming around and chasing each-other. But an hour later, they're back on top. I haven't tested the ammonia yet but what the heck could it be?? There's no dead fish or dead plants. I didn't feed them today just in case. I'm going absolutely insane. :(
  2. JesseMoreira06 Well Known Member Member

    your tank can't be cycled if your showing that much ammonia unless it's currently going through a mini cycle, what kind of filter are you using ?

    also on the side note serpea tetras are schooling fish and need to be in 6+ groups. what kinda of catfish are you talking about?

    I would also like to add that severums do get to 12" and I would only house 1 severum and 1 parrot fish in a 70g. IMO you should rehome the other parrot fish

  3. Kellye8498 Well Known Member Member

    I agree. If there is ammonia in the tank or nitrites in the tank it isn't cycled. It may have been at one point but somehow you lost the cycle. Have you changed filter media or anything recently?
  4. DHIWZ Member Member

    If there is such a drastic change in behavior after you do a water change, then you've got some nasty water my friend. How long has this tank been running? Did you add all these fish at once, or slowly, over the course of several weeks? Pictures of the tank would help as well.

  5. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    This tank has been running for 6 months. API Filstar 75G filter. But the filter WAS changed 2 weeks ago (I used a cheap top fin one and switched to this). I used the old filter media however.

    Also fish update: I have lost the severum baby and the smaller blood parrot. The biggest blood parrot (about 7 months old) looked completely dead so I took it out and put it in the bucket (still had some water in there) and it started moving. So right now, the bigger blood parrot seems to be suddenly moving really well in the bucket. I've no idea what to do here. These are the current results (Nutrafin Master Test Kit) after that major 60% water change:

    Ammonia: 0 (so why are they still swimming on top?)
    Nitrates: 3-5 (can't quite tell)
    Nitrites: 0
    Ph: 7.2
    Temperature: 81
    KH: 125
    GH: 165

    The blood parrot I have in the bucket (I really need a small medical tank :( ) suddenly has her orange colour back (she was almost completely white) and is swimming around. I can't figure out what else it could be in there or why they went from seemingly active again after the 60% water change to gasping for air - especially now that the ammonia seems to be down entirely.

    If I leave her in the bucket overnight, do you think she can make it till the morning in a 2.5G bucket? Tomorrow my local LFS guy is gonna come over and check what's wrong but I don't know what to do until then.

    Also please see image attached. I had to grab this from my fb (it's from last week) since my phone is dead.

    Attached Files:

  6. JesseMoreira06 Well Known Member Member

    That's very weird, honestly according to your parameters everything is In check, I don't understand why your ammonia spiked up tremendously, do you do weekly water changes if so how much? also how many times a day do you feed?

    if you add an airstone it should be okay for your blood parrot

    how are the other fish acting ?
  7. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    I have an airstone going as well. I can add a second airstone since the airpump allows for a second one? I do 40% water changes every 8-10 days. The ammonia was really bad for some reason this morning but I just did ANOTHER test and it's still at 0. The catfish seem to be doing great (two albinos and one darker one). They're doing their thing on the bottom and moving around. The tetras are still on top as is the swordtail. The gourami is swimming around and acting normal.

    Also I will add that one tetra I brought back from the LFS 2 weeks ago seemed very sick and did die that very day. They told me they need to be in a school of 5 or more so I got 5 that day. But I pulled the sick one out right away so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it. The other 4 seemed healthy.

  8. DHIWZ Member Member

    When did you add your fish? When did you start noticing the problems?
  9. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    I've had the cichlids for 4 months (so 2 months after I started the tank). I waited till the final ammonia spike (just before it's cycled) was over. The swordtail and the catfish have been in there since week 4 (so 5 months now). The tetras are new (2 weeks) and I got the gourami about a month ago. I've added new plants about a month ago. The newest thing are the tetras and the new filter.

    Also re overstocking and the severum growing to 12" - totally aware. They're babies now (all of the fish in the tank) but I am planning on getting a 100G by end of month and gifting this tank to my friend for her birthday since she always wanted a bigger tank (she has 2 15G at the moment). So since I was planning on getting the new tank in the next two weeks, I didn't think a 2" baby severum would count as overstocked? Please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm here to listen and fix the issue.

    I should also mention that the water the last few days has smelled of chlorine way more than usual. It smells like pool water. But I do use the Prime conditioner for chlorine.

    Also weird question: I have a humidifier going in the same room. It's about 6 metres away from the tank. The tank lid is always closed (the cichlids like to jump). I usually put a few drops of eucalyptus and lilac essential oil in the humidifier. Could this somehow affect the tank?
  10. DHIWZ Member Member

    If your water smells chlorinated you may have killed off the bacteria in your filter. Oops.

    I'd try another 60% water change dosing for your entire tank with a new bottle of prime (I honestly don't know if prime goes bad, but if it somehow didn't work maybe that explains it?). At this point you're essentially doing a fish-in cycle, so I'd try to do daily water changes and add a ton of ammonia-absorbing plant, like hornwort.

    I haven't any idea why everything seems to be going wrong right now and I apologize for that, but I think this might be a good place to start.

  11. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    Thank you so much for the suggestion. I'm just completely at a loss for words here. I'm just hoping my big blood parrot survives this whole ordeal. She's still in the bucket and I feel awful for putting her there but I don't think going back to the tank is a good idea right now. My LFS guy told me via text to leave the tank alone for now as I did two major water changes today (and it's very late), let things sit for a bit and then do another water test before doing a 50% water change (I could go for 60) tomorrow (today really). Is it possible that when I changed the filter - even though I used the same media from the previous filter - that this is a mini cycle and I'm having that surge in ammonia again that happens just before the cycle is over? I hope I'm articulating this well.
  12. DHIWZ Member Member

    How does the water look? Cloudy? Or crystal clear?

    Edit: Just going to throw all my thoughts here because I have to turn in for the night, but usually if the water looks "milky" (think what it would look like if someone spilled a glass of milk in) it's because the bacteria is re-establishing itself and you are going through a "mini-cycle." If you haven't noticed this recently then default back to my initial hypothesis that the chlorine in your water may have killed off your bacteria. Either way, treatment for me would be the same. Water changes and fast growing plants are your best friends here. If you can find some biologically mature media on craigslist that would help get you going faster too.

    Prayers going out to you and your fish! Hope you all pull through! :)
  13. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    Absolutely crystal clear. Not a thing in sight. That's another thing that I'm puzzled by. The water isn't yellow or cloudy at all.
  14. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    I hope it's ok to post an update. The cichlids (in the bucket) survived the night. Today ammonia was at 0.5 so I cleaned my canister filter (in aquarium water in a bucket) and did a 40% water change. My LFS recommended I add Purigen so I did. Anyone have any experience with this?

    Also, my neighbour mentioned that one of her cichlids died last night + some of her smaller fish (mollies I think) so the water change I did today was with spring water. Three trips to the grocery store to get a 24 pack of natural spring water. I'm waiting to hear back from my manager re: the water quality because I don't think this is a coincidence. My neighbour's cichlid was a 5yo Convict and wasn't sick on Sunday at all. I keep my tank clean and am really thorough when it comes to educating myself on each plant and fish and the type of soil and the products so this was a puzzle to me. I added some Seachem Stability and Prime Conditioner so I'm hoping for the best.

    But if anyone has any experience with this Purigen stuff they gave me for the filter, can you please let me know what your experience was with it?
  15. DHIWZ Member Member

    I'm glad the fish made it!

    I actually use Purigen myself, so I can tell you exactly what it does. It's a medium that will suck up your nitrogenous compounds (ie your ammonia, your nitrites, your nitrates, even your tannins if you have them). It won't bring down your levels of these compounds, it'll just keep them from getting any higher (thus your ammonia will be kept from rising above 0.5). The rest will be on you to do those water changes in order to get those levels as close as possible to zero.

    I'd say it's a great product for you to use in your situation, but not a silver bullet solution by any means.

    By the way, buying a 24 pack of bottles just to do water changes? Your fish have a great owner!! ;)
  16. JesseMoreira06 Well Known Member Member

    sorry to hear about all the current stress going , seems very weird since your stating that your parameters are in check but Purigen will remove the organic compounds in the water , it basically just makes water crystal clear kinda works like carbon but 10× better.

    This is what is stated on seachem forum ,Purigen will remove the organic compounds before they are able to degrade into ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, but will not directly remove them. This is why we state that it "controls" them.

    also make sure to check your purigen every so often when it gets dark brown it's time to clean it.

    this is also how to: Use regular 8.25% hypochlorite household bleach (non-scented, no dyes, do not use a splash-less bleach). Rinse well, then soak for 8 hours with a solution containing 4 tablespoons of Prime®, or equivalent dechlorinator per cup of water. Rinse well.
  17. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    Okay cool! That's exactly what they said. Regular water changes will still be necessary. I'll do tests every day for the next week or so to make sure things are in check.

    Thank you! :) It was three trips to the store to get 24 1.5L bottles each time. Had to take a dolly with me :joyful: I just didn't want to risk it in case it was my water supply. I'm 99% sure it was because of what happened to my neighbour's fish at around the same time. We have pretty decent water for a big city but apparently once a year or so, they overdose with chlorine and stuff. It may have killed some of the filter bacteria so I'm basically half-cycling right now. What a pain.

    I'm glad to hear about Purigen. I'm afraid of adding more stuff to the filter but if it's beneficial, then by all means.
  18. DHIWZ Member Member

    Sorry to hear about your city's water. It's not uncommon for cities to do it to remove pathogens from the water, but I'm surprised to hear over-chlorinated water making it all the way to your tap. Sounds like a potential safety hazard in the making.

    Good luck with your tank! Keep us posted!
  19. MonkeySee Initiate Member

    Yeah I agree. I've lived in this building for 6 years and the water has never smelled this bad. It's like a swimming pool. My hands smell of chlorine, not even joking. The manager is looking into it. I've reached out to some of my friends who have fish and warned them to either put off a water change for a couple of days or to use spring water. One of them got back to me and said her water isn't drinkable and smells like chlorine as well. It's truly the only explanation I have for this.