my babies are dying and "gasping" for air - why? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation my babies are dying and "gasping" for air - why?

Hi everyone, I'm the latest new member joining you from frigid Manitoba,Canada.
In the few minutes I've been looking around, it looks like this is going to be quite the interesting site to be part of.
Unfortunately, I have a bit of an "emergency" question that I am looking for help with ASAP. I'll start out with this warning though. I know NOTHING about fish. Ask me anything about horses, and I'll tell ya, but fish are not my forte! (yet)

Quick background - we have a 70 Gal tank that normally holds 4-5 fancy goldfish year round, and several pond fish throughout the winter that come in due to our very cold temps outside. This year though, our fish decided to get "intimate" and our tank #s increased from 9 to about 125. I managed to find homes for most of the offspring, but still had about 40 little guys, plus our regular fish. The local supply store told me that my filter would keep the water clean enough, as long as it was cleaned regularily - however, that was very wrong. One of my fish began having severe buoyancy issues quite quickly, which tipped me off that something was not right. Last night I cleaned the tank thoroughly, but only removed about 1/3 of the water (as was instructed by the aquarium store). This morning I awoke to no fish swimming up-side-down, but several floating in that direction. More than 1/2 of my little guys were dead, and the rest are all gathered at the top of the tank "gasping" for air.

Can someone please help me!! Is there anything that I can do here? Why are they doing that? I am still losing 1-2 babies per hour, and I want to stop the carnage. Could I have added too much aquarium salt? Did I not use enough? If they haven't been near death by now (24 hours later), will they recover? Should I take out more water and add fresh stuff, or is it the change in the tank that's causing this?

Your assistance would be fantastic!!
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post #2 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 08:11 PM
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This Is Definatly A life threatening issue that needs to be corrected immediatly. The Cause of this problem is lack of aeration and nitrate/ammonia buildup you should upgrade your filtration immediatly but until then do partial water changes of 50% daily until that upgrade the fry should be heathy until then.

P.S. Feed The Adults Less but the fry more
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post #3 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 10:12 PM
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Are you able to test your water so you know exactly what parameters your dealing with? The gasping is definitely an issue of oxygen depletion. That many fish in such a confined area is sure to be causing ammonia/nitrite spikes. As aquakid has stated water changes need to performed as often as needed in order to keep ammonia & nitrite levels down. Are you using a dechlorinater to the *new* water before you are adding it? I'm not sure I'd be using aquarium salt at this point in time. Hopefully someone else will be able to answer the salt question. I'm sorry this is happening.

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...
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post #4 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the quick responses. I'm sure the ammonia level is very high in there with that number of fish and unfortunately I was misinformed that the filter would take care of things. I only have a regular carbon filter in it which I have learned now will do nothing for the ammonia.
It appears the deaths have stopped for awhile. Those that are left are looking a little better. There is a smaller percentage at the surface. What I don't understand is, if this "gasping" is a sign of oxygen shortage then why are there signs only AFTER I changed the water (and diluted the ammonia) and not before. All was perfect yesterday (well, except for the upside-down Oranda).
I have quickly learned that fish are not as easy to take care of as the majority of the population believe!! but I am learning with help from people like you.
Thanks again for replying so quickly, and I look forward to reading up on stuff on this site and learning even more!
Have a great night!
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post #5 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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somehow my reply post to your email didn't show up. This site is set up a lot different from the equine forum I'm part of so I'm probably not doing things quite right here.

So you say I'm safe to change 50% of the water in one change??? and so soon after the last change?? I always thought you had to keep water changes down to 30% max or the chemistry of the water would change too much, driving the fish into a "shock" state....much like I'm seeing now!!

Well, if that will work, I will get on another water change immediately.

And you are probably, I KNOW you are right about feeding them too much. I started overfeeding all of them when my large Japanese Koi started eating the head off my RedCap Oranda last year. I found that if they were fed more often, that he seemed to bother the Oranda less.

Thanks again for your quick response, and your advice.
Hopefully we'll talk again!
Hope it's warmer down there in Chicago!!
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post #6 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 10:41 PM
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50% is needed if you're having huge spikes of ammonia/nitrites in order to keep them at bay. In an established tank weekly water changes of anywhere from 20 to 30% are advised. Are you using a dechlorinator to treat the water during water changes??

As aquakid has stated overfeeding is never a good idea. It's good that you're not doing that. Your poor RedCap...

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...

Last edited by aunt kymmie; 01-08-2009 at 10:43 PM.
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post #7 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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I don't think it's a dechlorinator I put in the water when I do water changes, but it's a product called "Cycle", made by Hagen. It's supposed to reduce fish loss by releasing "massive amounts of beneficial bacteria into the aquarium. Each dose works to reduce dangerous ammonia and nitrite levels in the aquarium."

I live in a small town though, so the chlorine levels in our water are not as high as in the cities.

This is the first time ever that I have had a negative response to changing the water.

I have been watching the fish now for hours, and they are definitely improving. Even the ones that I would have categorized 2 hours ago as "goners" are now swimming upright and looking almost normal. I will do another water change first thing tomorrow morning.
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post #8 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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Aunt Kymmie,
Well, I think perhaps my vast LACK of knowledge came out in my last note to you with my statement about the Cycle. Here I was thinking that the product name may not be familiar to you, but in reading a few other posts while flitting around here, I see that having your tank "cycled" is common terminology. HA!

I purchased my tank from a pet supply store 2 years ago, and at first they were very helpful, but a change in staff has left me struggling for assistance. The only place I have to go now for supplies and/or advice is Wal-Mart, and we all know how interested those 17-year-old-girls-that-would-rather-be-anywhere-else are in helping you.

I see many posts about testing the parameters of the tank. What kind of unit do I have to buy to be able to regularily test the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate component. I would like to monitor that more closely as I don't want today's events to reoccur, and I have also learned that Oranda's are very finicky fish, and are more difficult to keep. Is it simply just a kit, like a pH kit that I can buy at Wal-Mart?
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post #9 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 11:31 PM
The API master test kit is what is usually reccommended.
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post #10 of 30 Old 01-08-2009, 11:32 PM
API master test kit is what i use and its pretty good. Otherwise u can shell out a little more cash and get those strips that test ur tank with just one dip.
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