Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Tropical Fish Diseases (
-   -   Fish scratching?! Help (

VickiReneeBear2012 09-02-2012 09:29 AM

Fish scratching?! Help
For 3 weeks my fish flash/scratch on the ornaments/subtrate/plants. :-( I was recommended to do daily water changes of 20%. It seems to get worse with water changes and then calms down a bit but still scratching but less often. I went to pets at home. they told me to add live plants,so i have done, but said its a mystery. Been to local aquarium place. They seem to think its because my ammonia has raised to 0.25 and nitrates to 5.0. No matter how many water changes i do, the levels dont drop. :cry:

My readings are: ammonia 0.25
nitrite 0 (it had spiked to a dark purple colour on chart - forget which
level but has now dropped)
nitrate 5.0

My tank is 10 gallons. It has been set up just over 6 months. Tank cycled when set it up. Ammonia and other levels were all reading 0 until a week after fish started scratching.

How do i sort this problem. People have suggested it could be flukes or parasites but i dont want to just dump chemicals into tank and do more harm than good.

Had white spot in tank but that has all cleared up. Been clear for around 3 months. all fish are eating well and there are no signs of illness or spots or marks on them. :-?

My local shop have given me some stuff to put into tank to lower ammonia, which was yesterday, have said wait a week... no feeding fish..... and test tank levels again.
I have not lost any fish yet since scratching began.

Local shop also told me im doing too many water changes. They have told me to only do one water change a month. I've always been advised with small tanks like mine, 10 gallons, small water change of 10% every week was healthy for the fish. and i've only ever vacuumed the gravel once every 2 to 3 weeks, as not to stress the fish too much.

I am at a loss of what to do. Any help or suggestions would be very much apprechiated.

Thanks :-)

VickiReneeBear2012 09-02-2012 09:34 AM

I always wash filter media in dirty tank water, never in tap water. I have tested tap water and all readings are 0.

VickiReneeBear2012 09-02-2012 09:49 AM

I also have an air pump with air stone. Any help would be grateful

sidluckman 09-02-2012 10:09 AM

It's possible you don't need to do anything in the way of medication.

What kind of fish are in the tank and are all engaging in this behavior?

I agree that you should not put medications in the tank. Always set up a hospital tank. And never treat fish unless you have a very good idea of what you're intending to treat. Otherwise, you can just end up with a toxic soup full of medications, none of which would have produced the desired result anyway. Indeed, it's possible that medications added could impact water chemistry in ways that would be so irritating to some fish, they would do exactly the kind of thing you describe, parasites or not. Sometimes the defining symptom appears just when you have thrown the wrong med into the tank, and then you waste valuable time trying to remove, with activated carbon, the WRONG medication so that you can begin treatment with what you finally know to be the CORRECT medication. (FWIW this is from personal experience!)

Short version: you have good instincts!

And you are 100% correct to rinse your media in non-chlorinated tank water, otherwise: nitrifying bacteria die-off=> ammonia spike => tragedy! One thing you do not need in the middle of a potential disease problem is an ammonia problem.

Ammonia is a concern. Use prime as needed to detoxify. Check your tap water. Nitrate problem may not correct no matter how many water changes are performed if the tap water is rife with nitrate. There are many nitrate-removing chemical media that will help you lower this.

Are there any other additives or supplements you are using (Plant food? Aquarium salt? ) when you do your water changes?

To be honest, if you do not see a parasite, I would not advise medicating, but I would review the water preferences for the fish you have, species by species, and evaluate the water they are in based on newly conducted water tests. In that way, we can perhaps see if any adjustments can be made that will ameliorate their discomfort/irritation. We rather blithely advise people to toss aquarium salt into a tank to combat vague symptoms, little realizing that if the fish in question are lovers of ultra soft water, aquarium salt may be the last thing that will make them feel better. . .

Provide a few more details. . .we will keep working on this.


VickiReneeBear2012 09-03-2012 01:46 PM

Have done a salt bath... after then getting advised NOT to.. have been getting very different advise from different sources.... but salt did stop scratching. But after did water change, scratching started again. Have tested tap water, no traces of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in tap water.

I have 9 guppies, 3 scissortails, 5 neons, one rainbow shark, one sucking loach, one corydora catfish, 2 swordtails.

Usually do water change every 2 weeks and a gravel vacuum when water change every 4th week. Never had a problem until now.

I really am at a loss of what to do.

Fish are still scratching but not as harshly as they were. A couple still hover at top of tank surface but not as long as they were. Some were laying on bottom of tank but they dont do it as often.

I'm just cratching my head in total confusion. I just want to get my tank back to the healthy way it was.

VickiReneeBear2012 09-03-2012 01:50 PM

Guppies, swordtails are most affected. My rainbow shark was suffering the worst but isnt scratching as often. but guppies and swordtails are still scratching often.. just not as often.

I havent done a water change since thursday 23rd august. It'll be 2 weeks (in 2 days time) since did water change. And im worried about doing one incase i upset the fish or make things worse?!
Readings today: ammonia 0.25 / nitrate 5.0 / nitrite 0

VickiReneeBear2012 09-03-2012 01:53 PM

not added any additives to tank... was told to add live plants, so i have... that was about 2 weeks ago. A week after fish started scratching. Local aquatics place... 2 days ago got me to add toxivec. they said wait a week and test water again. but im testing it daily to see if i see any changes. and nothing as of yet.

sidluckman 09-03-2012 02:33 PM

This is about 3-4 times more livestock than I would have in a tank of this size. You have 22 fish in a tank that can accomodate 5 or 6.

Gravel vacuuming each and every week is a must. Nitrates will be off the charts if water changes are not increased. To be honest, I would do gravel vac and as much as 50% water change 2x per week. That's right. 50% twice a week, vacuuming the gravel each time.

Overcrowing of this kind is a virtual time bomb.

You also have some hardwater fish (swords, guppies) and softwater fish (scissortails, tetras, loach, cory, shark) so the stocking arrangement is not wholly compatible.

Not only do these fish need larger quarters they need to be split up in terms of compatibility with respect to water chemistry.

Not to blow your mind or anything, but my swords are in a 55 gallon tank and are (IMO) cramped in anything smaller. Male swords that are courting zigzag through the water forwards and backwards at lightening speed. Watching this, I now suspect that they do not "jump" out of tanks as people suggest, so much as they cannot negotiate in small aquariums when they are engaging in displays of this kind and simply "fly out of the tank" in an attempt to avoid hitting the walls or ornaments.

Depending on what sort of sucking loach you have, that too could become a large fish.

Redtail Sharks are by most accounts a territorial and aggressive fish, not at all appropriate for small tansk, community tanks or both. They will ultimately reach 6 or more inches, but it's their attitude that is the real problem.

Scissortails are fast schoolers. They need a longer tank considering their swimming style and their social needs. Again, a 48" tank is recommended as a minimum size. They reach 6 inches in length and should be in groups no smaller than six individuals.

Neons and cory cats are schoolers too. Slightly more appropriate to this size tank than those listed above, but not by much. Each needs to be kept in larger groups, larger tanks.

I hate giving people information of this kind. I believe that of all the fish you have, the guppies are the best fish for a tank of this size, but nine is definitely all you should have in this tank, and technically, six would be better.

I would continue trying to advise you regarding the flashing behavior, but over stocking is the more pressing issue. Once you resolve that, I wager the other problems resolve themselves.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:50 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome