Zebra danios red gills! Help please

E45678x

Member
HI
I have recently taken over looking after my Dads fishes in his flat unfortunately he passed away so I am trying my best to keep his fishes going.

They are 3 zebra danios and 1 leopard danio. The water was in a bad way when I first went to clean it I didn't do any readings but it was very dirty and the filter had stopped working as the water levels had dropped. I tried to clean the bottom and did a 50% water change. I noticed the fish had red gills. A day or so later I did another clean and water change with a smaller hose which worked better and topped up the water levels and squeezed out the filter sponge in old water to clean that too. Once full the filter started working again. A few days later water looked much clearer. However the red gills still remained on the zebra danios. I went to Pets at Home and they checked my water for ammonia and nitrites which were both fine. They gave me a fungal medication to try. It's been 3 days and not much change. One zebra danio in particular keeps sitting at the bottom of the tank he moves around sometimes and is eating still but He also gulps water a lot too his red gills are the worst and one is very open. I also think he may be being picked on by the larger females? They seem to be a bit nippy at times. I got a testing kit the other day too which said my nitrates are way too high could this be causing them to get red gills?

If anyone has any advice that would be great. I'm desperate not to lose any of these little guys

Thanks in advance
 

SammyG

Member
High ammonia levels cause "burning" of the gills. I would recommend getting yourself on a cleaning schedule and stick to it (I clean once a week). Over time ammonia causing this will decrease as your filter catches up and you'll have happy fish!
 
  • Moderator

jdhef

Moderator
Member
Welcome to FishLore!

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of you dad.

Okay, it seems like you are on the right track on getting the tank straightened out. I assume you are familiar with the nitrogen cycle (but if not words will be link to article).

It is very possible that the fish are suffering the effects of high nitrates, so you do want to get those nitrates down. But be careful, As unintuitive as it sounds, lowering nitrates too quickly can actually kill fish. So you will want to do small water changes everyday until you get the nitrates under 20ppm (assuming your tap water contain 0ppm nitrates).

I would look to lower the nitrates by about 5ppm-10ppm per day or two.

If you are using test strips, I highly recommend getting a liquid test kit such as the API Master Test Kit for Freshwater. Test strips are notorious for being inaccurate, and if you can't trust your test results, why bother testing.

I'm not 100% sure you need to add meds to the tank, but if you do, be sure to remove the carbon from the filter. (you may need to cut a slit in the cartridge and dump it out, depending on which filter you have). One of the things people use carbon for is to remove meds (along with other impurities) from the water.

Lastly, it sounds like this tank was in pretty bad shape when you took over and it is possible that the fish have already been damaged before you took over caring for them. But you seem to be doing everything correctly and I do not think any fish loss that may occur will have been caused by anything you have done. So while I expect that the fish will be fine due to all you are doing for them, if you lose any...don't beat yourself up over it, since it was most likely beyond your control.

Best of luck and feel free to ask any questions you may have, Even ask the questions that you think are stupid, because around here, we don't think any question is stupid.
 

ricmcc

Member
Just to add a thing to jdhef 's excellent post, an incredible amount of gunk can get into a tanks' substrate (gravel, less so with sand) over time. This bioload will eventually end up as nitrate, so cleaning your substrate is a very good idea (keeping in mind jdhef's caution about not making major shifts in nitrate levels). I'm going to assume that you don't have a Python or similar siphoning device, based on the number of fish that you mention, and therefore assuming that your tank is rather small.
At any rate, lacking a Python, you can still very effectively clean your gravel when doing a water change (W/C) simply by using a few feet of aquarium tubing (3/4 inch is a good size). Before use, glue some mesh ( nylon screening used in screen doors works well) to one end of the draining hose--I like Krazy glue or some generic of that glue as it is aquarium safe one fully dried and cured. Submerge the hose fully to fill it (much more pleasant than getting a mouthful of aquarium water), and keeping the mesh end in the tank water, and your thumb over the other end, put that end into a bucket, lower the bucket below the tank, and release your thumb; water will immediately start to drain, at which time you can push the mesh end through the gravel, thereby cleaning the gravel. Again, so as not to lower the nitrate level too quickly, clean the gravel fully, but do a portion at a time, say about 1/4 or 1/5 of the gravel's total area each W/C. Please post if you use sand as a substrate, as the technique is slightly different.
As most medications reduce the available oxygen in the tank, it would be a good idea to increase aeration in the tank. If you have a H.O.B. (hang on back) filter, a very easy way to aerate your tank is to simply raise the filter slightly, so as to get more of a waterfall effect (I use 1/2" wooden dowels placed between the top tank trI'm and the filter).
The addition of a very small dose of aquarium salt will help increase gill function, reducing stress on the fish; by a small dose, 1/10th of a gram per litre will work, and not adversely effect even salt intolerant species. The following link will (hopefully) lead you an article on the subject.




Sorry for going into such detail about the 'How to' parts of this post, there is no intention to insult, just that being unaware of your experience, I thought to err on the side of caution. I realize that these particular fish have great significance to you in light of the passing of your father.
All the very best of luck with your fish, and best wishes to you, rick
 

BDpups

Member
The red gills are probably from high nitrites, not nitrates. You should be doing large water changes to get both of the levels reduced. Adding Prime can help until the bacteria in the filter can become established.
 

ricmcc

Member
Fully agree that with the signs that the fish show, ammonia and nitrite levels would be the thing that I would check; however, Pets at Home is a bit like a pet shop/veterinary service, if I remember correctly, and they did check the ammonia and nitrite levels, which presumably they can test accurately. While specific numbers would help, they did say that both were fine, leaving nitrate, which the OP doesn't mention as having been checked, as the next best culprit, as it were. rick
 
  • Thread Starter

E45678x

Member
Thank you so much everyone for your help and kind words. This is actually my third time of ever joining a forum, the 2nd was about a car and there were a few very rude mean people. So thank you everyone for actually helping and not having a go lol.
My first thoughts after looking online were ammonia poisoning however the tests pets at home did (using liquid tests) were fine and same for nitrites in fact they said one of the best they'd seen. I didn't get nitrates tested so will get a sample to test for that now as on my home kit it is the only one that is high. I forgot to say I do have a vacuum thing for gravel a siphon is it?! I cleaned all the gravel very very mucky it was. And yesterday I managed to get the air bubbles on the filter working which they are enjoying. Filter is hang on the back one yes called aquael. I'm hoping more air in the tank may help? Thank you jdhef I am doing small water changes now how long should I do that for? The nitrates did seem slightly lower today on my home strip test kit. Possibly due to the aeration from the filter I got to work? I'm wandering as no tests were done to the original bad water whether that could of had high ammonia which could of caused the red gills? Or maybe a bacteria infection or something?
Thank you Rick I shall try to add aquarium salt then hopefully that will help. Yes the fish are a huge significance to me now, my sister was going to have them at first but as she lives 5/6 hours away I wouldn't have got to see them and I felt I owed my Dad to make sure they're okay he loved them. Little did I realise what a job it was going to be lol but I'm loving it and going to see them every day and keeping them going and hope I can keep them all alive as long as possible. I don't want to move them to my house yet as I'm worried they are sick with their red gills (especially the little guy that sits at the bottom and gulps a lot) and that they won't make it so hoping I can get them to full strength and then move. My mum thinks I'm mad lol but I've put a lot of research and money on getting new bits that I'm determined to see them live a long happy life
 
  • Moderator

jdhef

Moderator
Member
This is a very friendly, respectful forum and rudeness is not tolerated.

Just keep up the small daily water changes until you get those nitrates under 20ppm (assuming 0ppm in your tap water).

Once you get the tank settled, 35%-50% weekly partial water changes should be enough to keep those nitrates under 20ppm.
 
  • Thread Starter

E45678x

Member
Thank you I will do that then. Any ideas what might be causing the red gills? Could it be the nitrates or ammonia from before I started looking after them? Or infection? Really hoping not to lose any.
Also when I eventually bring them home I was hoping to add new gravel but is that dangerous to the fish adding something new?!
 

Akili

Member
Gills that are red or bloody are due to Ammonia poisoning Lower pH to 7.0 Do 25 - 50% water change daily and neutralize ammonia with chemical like Seachem Prime Prime can be used to alleviate ammonia/nitrite toxicity.Discontinue or reduce feeding. Keep testing of both ammonia and pH levels.
 
  • Thread Starter

E45678x

Member
Have managed to get nitrates down. Now I have a big problem....my fish are all at the surface. When I took the cover off today the water smelt bad like burning kind of. I couldn't see anything wrong I took the heater out and that did feel very hot but the glass thermometer in the tank says the temperature is normal?? There was also a lot of condensation when I went which I tried to clean up. I did a very small water change and tested water everything is fine. But the fish are hanging by the surface some taking big gulps and the little sick guy isn't looking well he went to the bottom and didn't move for awhile. I'm REALLY worried and no idea what to do. Also I've been using the antI fungal medication for 6 days which doesn't smell great could that be it?! The tank has a small air ball which gives good air and aeration on the filter too.
Please someone help?
 

Most photos, videos and links are disabled if you are not logged in.

Log in or register to view



Top Bottom