How to help with fish breathing Heavy/rapid, please read.

  • #1
A little background: Tank is fully cycled, I test water daily, normal tank ph is low (around 6.6) temp is 79-80, heavily planted, plants are for the most part thriving, low tech tank, 75g, eheim pro 3 2075 filter, lights on around 9-10 hours a day, lightly stocked (around 65%), feed fairly light, daily feeding, mixed diet

2 pearl gourami
2 gold ram
7 oto
25 cardinals

here is background on the issue: I do a 17g water change, ph jumps from 6.4-7.4, tank volume is roughly 65g because of substrate ect. tap ph is around 8.0 this is what cause the spike (didn't realized with a small wc it would still fluctuate so badly, all fish are great prior to the wc. the female ram looks like death about an hour after wc, I come to realize the ph swing has hit her hard.

all other fish still look great and acting normal, everyone is eating, even the female. She continue to breath hard but still swimming around, loss a lot of colour, showing fatigue. This all started around 8-9am est on april 19th. today (the 22nd) she is still holding on, still moving around the tank during the day and feeding, starting to get colour back, BUT the breathing being rapid and heavier is still persistent. I am wondering how long do you guys feel this can go on? will she snap out of it?

I have raised my spray bar completely out of the water to created a waterfall to help oxygenate the water. I tried adding a small pump to increase oxygen even more but she was scared, and decided the increase in fear / stress is doig more harm than good so I quickly removed the additional pump.

I still see improvement is her colour and activing level is remaining the same is anything a little better. I would like to know if I can do anything else to help her relax her breathing?

Water parameters are:
ammo = 0
nitrites = 0
nitrates = less than 5ppm
ph has been falling and now is closer to 6.8(tested this just now), I have a lot of dw in the tank and I believe this is why the ph drops . plus its degassing.

so yeah, I am still very worried about my girl and she is a great fish and I really don't want to lose her. Anything at all you folks can suggest I am willing to try to help her recover fully. I have been doing tons of reading to see if it could be anything else but I can't see any other clear symptoms leading to a disease. I also read that a lot of fish once at this point generally die within the first 24 hours of the start of the heavy breather, where my female ram has been fighting. she clearly is not ready to go.

so I just tried feeding and she barely ate anything, she has been hiding in the back of dense plants and near the bottom. I am fearing the worse so heartbreaking.

her colour is so much better though, which is confusing.

my male ram has been swimming up and down and side to side on the glass frantic all morning...

he is clearly not happy that his mate is not doing well
  • #2
My blue rams did the same thing. The female I had fought for about a week and a half. She got really colorful at the end and I thought she was getting better but the next day she was gone. Hope yours recover. Mine were sick from the start and I never figured out what to do it how to help. I know it's difficult. I hope you can figure it out in time.

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  • #3
Just a he rubbing on any decorations or having "spasms" while could be parasites, especially if parameters are good and the fish is not eating.

Heavy breathing could be a sign of gill flukes.

Try reading up on symptoms of parasites.
Good luck!
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
I am currently treating for gill flukes as I saw the male not the sick fish flash a few times yesterday. using prazipro

I also not on the sick female a small hole that has increased in size on her lower fin. not sure if this is fin rot or because of laying on the bottom so much lately. either way she is still holding on. Colour is best I have seen, but still not moving much and I stopped feeding till things shape up.
  • #5
If the fish is laying on the bottom most of the time/not moving you might want to consider using a breeder net in the tank (as you are treating the entire tank).

Laying on gravel can damage the scales/fins, causing more problems for an already compromised fish.

The breeder net will allow you to closely observe your fish and see any symptoms more easily. Additionally, you will have the benefit of the heater/filter of the main tank.
  • #6
Are her fins clamped at all? Any visible irritation around her fins, or any missing scales?

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