Healthy Fish Stuck Swimming at Top - Filter Issue?! Please Help!

sarahchinny

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Issues:
- he is a very active fish that has stopped swimming around (stays near the top of tank or down by one of his decor plants)
- he is an aggressive eater and LOVES food, but only ate 2 of his pellets this morning and spit out one of those two

Possible Reasons:
- Filter: just decided to start using a filter (Tetra Whisper 1-3 gallon), put it in last night, but took it out this morning when I saw issues
- Cleaning: cleaned his tank last night (I used dish soap, like I always have, but jus realized I'm not supposed to do that), then I conditioned it with betta h20 conditioner (Zoo Med)
- Not sure what else?!?!
 

BumblebeeKingHalfmoon

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What are the tank‘s water parameters and the temperature?

By water parameters I meant pH level, ammonia level, nitite and nitrate levels. If you don’t have a test kit, I recommend getting the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. You should always have a test kit in hand because to high or low of some of these levels can cause great sickness in your fish and can lead to death, meaning you should know the water parameters at all times. I also recommend getting a thermometer if you can as well because while betta fish are hardy fish, they do like a water temperature of around 78 Fº.
 
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sarahchinny

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BumblebeeKingHalfmoon said:
What are the tank‘s water parameters and the temperature?
Appreciate your help! We conditioned the water with Betta H2O Conditioner from Zoo Med. I put in 15 drops for the 1.5 gallon tank. Is this what you meant by water parameters? Also, I don't have a thermometer, but the temperature around the tank hasn't changed much.
 

Addictedtobettas

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Pictures of the tank? Fish?

How long has the tank been running?
Is there a heater?
What other filter are you using if not that one?

There are test strips or the more reliable API Master test kit for finding out your water parameters. things like ammonia, nitrites, too many nitrates, ph and such that will keep your fish happy and healthy. If you're unable to get the kits taking the water to your local fish/pet store where they will test it for you now is a great idea.

If your fish isn't eating and is floating at the surface I'm going to be blunt and say that's not a healthy fish.
 

mrsP

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How, and how much did you use dish soap? And what dish soap was it?
 

tnrsmomma

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Hi! The learning curve in this hobby is huge and you've got a lot of questions flying at you right now. I hate to join in at the risk of overwhelming you, but want to help too. Maybe I can break some things down and give you some tips.

All the chemistry sounding stuff is based on what's called the nitrogen cycle. It's the process of good bacteria in your tank and filter, essentially eating/changing the toxic waste from fish poop into less toxic things.

Because the levels of those naturally occurring chemicals in the water have such a big impact on fish health, ots always going to be the first thing most people ask when trying to figure out what is wrong with a fish. Is it ammonia burn, is it nitrite poisoning, is it a bacterial infection, etc.... all are sicknesses confirmed or ruled out by looking at the parameters, the levels of those chemicals and how they affect the fish. A healthy tank with a well established colony of beneficial bacteria and a stable nitrogen cycle should always have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and less than 40nitrate. Lower is better. In my tanks I shoot for 15 or less.

The best explanation I've seen of the nitrogen cycle is the video on the aquarium co op youtube channel. There are lots of videos and articles out there. Some make it really confusing and complicated sounding but it's really not that bad.

So, in addition to or related to the nitrogen cycle is that key element of beneficial bacteria. It grows on all surfaces of your tank and filter. Everytime you scrub the tank you wash away those good bacteria. It feels backwards. As humans, our idea of clean means nothing on the surface, sanitized, bacteria free. But even for humans some bacteria is really important. For fish, that bit of slimy feeling on your tank walls and decorations is actually the good stuff that is going to help keep your fish healthy. Plus, as you learned, any trace of soap can be very toxic. =( so even though you are working hard to keep his water clean, it actually may be making the water very dirty and unhealthy.

Now to the immediate problem of your fish acting sick at the surface. There are multiple possibilities but I'll lay out the most likely ones.
-poisoning from traces of soap
-ammonia, nitrite or nitrate poisoning due to the tank not being cycled (aka: all the good bacteria got washed away and the toxic waste in his tank is making him sick fast)
-he is too cold. Even though he has been fine up until now betta nees a temp of minimum 78, 80 is best dor a thriving betta. Most peoples homes aren't warm enough to keep a betta healthy without a heater. Over time the cold lowers their immune system, slows digestion, reduces energy level and makes them more susceptible to illness, fungus, bad bacteria or problems caused by poor water conditions.

As for how to help him, do a 50% water change to reduce waste in the water and lessen the amount of any traces of soap. Get a heater for the tank. Either reinstall the filter or do a 50% water change every day. Since you got the 1-3 gallon fitler I'm guessing your tank is 3 gallons or less. That's not a lot of water to dilute all his poop and left over bits of food, so the daily water changes will be very important until you have a filter and have established a stable nitrogen cycle. What you will be doing from here on out, to make that happen, is what's called a fish-in cycle. Most people cycle the tank without fish in it, because it can be a hard process for the fish, but if you keep up on water changes and get him warm, it can be done while still keeping the fish safe. I can tell from your post that you are a conscientious and caring pet owner who wants what is best for your fish and I have so much respect for that! Best of luck to you and your fish. Keep us posted on how he is doing and don't hesitate to ask any questions big or small. We were all new to this hobby at some point and made our fair share of novice mistakes
 

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