Most fish hanging out near surface: stressful!

  1. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    So most of my fish are hanging out near the surface tonight. I can't find anything obviously wrong, so I know I should just relax, but it is so noticeable that even my non-fish hobbits husband commented on it.
    34 gallons, ammonia = 0, nitrites =0, nitrates = 10. As of testing 30 min ago. 2 guppy, 2 platy, 3? Cory (unsure if count, it used to be 6), 2 honey gourami, 5 Cardinal tetras, 1 mystery snail (also near the surface) and 6 Nerites.
    I dosed Prime today before testing. My tap water is showing 1-2 ppm of ammonia (and nitrites = 5) so I dose for a few days after a water change. Last water change was Thursday night but I wasn't sure if I would have time to trst, so I dosed just in case. Filter is running (can see ripples on surface from canister output). Tank is at 78, it usually holds at 77.
  2. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Any smell coming from the tank? What kind of substrate do you have?

  3. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    No smell. BDBS, less than 2 inches. 50 pounds in the 34 gallon tank. Tank has been set up since early March. Now they aren't totally at the top, but the platys are still hanging out in the floating water Sprite which is wierd for them.
  4. Maxi1 Member Member

    Gee whiz, I can't think of what could be wrong, have you tested the pH?

  5. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    No I didn't test pH. Now lights are out. I will test pH and report back.

    Okay - so @Maxi1 you may have hit on it. It is reading like 6.8-7.0ish? It usually is about 7.4. I removed about 6 oz of water Sprite on Thursday and about 6 oz a week before I that. Could that have an impact?
    Last time I tested my tap pH it was close to the tank at about 7.4-7.6. So - given my good water parameters... What drops pH? I have a small piece of wood in there, but it has been there since March or early April.
  6. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    What's the KH and GH? Might be worth adding some crushed coral to your tank to prevent the pH from dropping (by raising the KH).
  7. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Okay, big week ahead so I need to head to bed. In good news they are not all clustered at the top anymore. I will explore this pH thing more tomorrow. Until then open to ideas on what could cause the change. I will retest my source water tomorrow. CindiL paging you for my own water issues this time.

  8. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Do you think it would be worth adding a smidge of baking soda to the tank?
  9. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Fwiw when I was having a persistent ammonia low grade spike a couple of weeks ago my tank pH was 7.4, so this is a new problem. My water source has not changed. I can look up details on the website if that would help since I don't have a gH/kH Kit. But I don't know what to look for in the long list of things they measure. If you could tell me what it might be called I could get at least a ballpark.

    Oh dear. Is there any reason to think I might have a big crash overnight?
  10. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    No, but since you don't know what caused it I just thought it might be some insurance.

  11. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    How much? Could it send the tank super high? Thanks for the fast response. Now in bed so hoping to go deal with this fast if needed

  12. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    I wouldn't do much, maybe 1/4-1/2 teaspoon? CindiL might have a better idea here.
  13. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

  14. Maxi1 Member Member

    I don't understand the chemistry but a couple of years ago my pH dropped like that out of the blue and my KH was 1. The pH was 6! The owner of my good local fish store told me to add a small bag of crushed coral to the filter compartment to raise the KH which will stabilize the pH. Now I keep a bag in all my tanks and change it for new every 6 months.
    My KH is still not great, is around 3, but the pH in all my tanks stays stable at around 7.4.
    So I hope you get your tank issues fixed soon.

    If were me I might put maybe 1/8 teaspoon baking soda just to feel better through the night. Till you can get help tomorrow.
  15. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Going with half a teaspoon. Hopefully will get more help tomorrow. Thanks. Signing off for tonight.
  16. CindiL Fishlore Legend Member

    Hi, sorry I am late but I would agree to add in 1/4-1/2 tsp of baking soda tonight and re-test in the AM. You have no idea what your GH and KH are? I would purchase a GH/KH test or for sure I would get some crushed coral, aragonite (Petsmart sells it in their substrate section, it is TopFin brand mixture of the two). Other choices are limestone, sea shells of any kind, larger coral decorations, pieces, cuttlebone.

    Do you have any of those 5 in 1 test strips hanging around somewhere in your house to get a ballpark idea of GH and KH?

    So are you saying your tap is 1-2 ammonia and also 5 nitrites? That is truly awful. I would pick up a 5 stage filtration unit to remove most of that. There was another thread earlier where we talked about this briefly. I bought my son one when he went to college. Go to and look at their residential drinking water counter top units. water filters.htm
  17. aliray Fishlore VIP Member

    You might also want to add an air pump and air stone for more bubbles. Alison:;hi1
  18. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Okay - thank you all. I will make time today to get to a pet store to pick up the gH/kH testing kit. I assume the one by API? I don't have test strips since thanks to fishlore I went straight to the PI master kit.

    If it helps for now, per my water company website we have
    "Alkalinity, Bicarbonate = 69" in April 2016
    Hardness, Calcium = 74
    Hardness, Total = 106"

    ETA1: I forgot that I do have a piece of cuttlebone in the tank for the snails... no idea what difference that is making.
    ETA2: The fish are swimming normally this morning. So hopefully the baking soda helped. I will try to test pH again in a few minutes.
  19. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Other than what has been already been suggested, I have no ideas. Finding out you kH & gH are good first steps.
  20. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Okay - tested pH with the low range test kit just now...

    tank = strong 7.6
    tap = 7.6