Fish breathing at top, parameters fine
This is first-time post, and I appreciate all I've learned just by reading.
I've had my 55 gallon for several months. I have three fancy guppies, four adult platies, and about 10 fry birthed several weeks apart (bought four female platies, but turns out at least one was pregnant). For the last several weeks, all of the adult fish have been swimming pretty much at the top of the tank gulping air. They are not lethargic and swim fine. The fry tend to swim at the bottom, though some had started swimming fine in the middle of the tank before all of this stuff started happening. I don't see clutched fins. At night, when fish are "resting," they don't come up for air nearly as often, except for the guppies.
I've lost several of the fry that were several weeks old. I doubt it if was them being sucked up by the filter. I've used the API liquid test kit, and parameters always come out 0 for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. PH generally close to eight.
Anyway, the tank started out fine, fish were doing great, and then I did a water change, got rid of some plants, moved some others, did some pruning, and removed the carbon from my Aquaclear 110 hob. It had been in the filter since I bought it, especially to help remove tannins from large driftwood. Used Prime when put water back in with Python. Have used flourish. Seemed like problem also first started when I introduced flourish excel to further stimulate plant growth on my low-light tank. I know that probably wasn't necessary. Only did a couple of times, though, and I've gone through multiple water changes of different amounts since then, ranging from 20 to 40 percent so I wouldn't think it was Excel that is the problem. Started adding some poly-fill in the filter before all this started happening. It is untreated, so it is safe for aquariums.
Fish tend to stay on side of tank away from filter, but don't totally avoid the hob side, and the platies sometimes hang out just below the surface next to the glass. Fish still go to the surface to breath even on the hob side.
In addition to multiple water changes, I've tried:
Adding aquarium salt while I was away for week and adults kids were taking care of tank. As I expected, I came back to plants not doing as well. Unfortunately, fish not any better. Plenty of brown algae popped up, though.
Put carbon back in the filter just in case there were impurities that got in the water.
I've also tried using water conditioner/dechlorinator with stress coat.
Nothing has worked.
I am getting a new cascade canister 1000 filter tomorrow to replace by Aquaclear, which has been incredibly noisy (did the vaseline as well as vegetable oil thing with the impellar but no luck). It also rattles against the glass. It's only a couple months old, but past Amazon return date, and guy on AC phone wasn't very helpful. Anyway, maybe the new filter will help, though I don't know why I would.
Sorry for the long post, but I know people always have a lot of questions, and I tried to answer as many as I thought might come up.
I am by no means an expert, especially not with livebearing fish, but I do have some platys. I will do my best to help and get things started though.
If I'm not mistaking, I am pretty sure guppies and platys are surface feeders by nature and perfer to stay near the top of the water column. Do they look like they are gasping for air? Is their breathing increased? Are they eating normally?
My only concern is that if they are actually gasping for air, there are a few things that could be causing the low oxygenation. First off, how many live plants do you have in your tank now?
Next, does your filter waterflow break the surface of the water? If you are not having good agitation at the surface you could adjust the water level so that you do, or add an airstone.
Another thing to think about, especially with platys, is that if you dont have a 2:1 female to male ratio, the males will harrass the female to the point of death trying to impregnate her.
I dont ever suggest adding any chemicals to a tank at all other than some plant ferts (and that is really only if your tank is heavily planted which is a whole new discussion) and prime for the water changes. Clean water can do more for your fishtank than just about anything else.
Oh, something I forgot, What is the temp of your tank? The warmer the temperature, the lower it's capacity for dissolved oxygen.
Thank you for your thoughts.
It is about 79. I had dropped the temp to so the water might carry more oxygen, but then I accidentally had it down to about 7 and I slowly increased it again. Even though the guppies and platies prefer the top of the water column, they're spending much more time breathing from the top than they used to. None of the four original platies were males. The only thing that harassed them was one of the overly amorous male guppies. I only have males of those. I'm going to give the fry to a LFS. I appreciate your comments about chemicals. It had been years since I've had an aquarium. The previous one was planted, and all the fish were happy as long as I pretty much left the tank alone. I think I tried to mess with this one too much.
Do a 50% water change immediately. I experienced this once. 1 of the angelfish were gasping/having labored gill movement. All water prams tested as correct/normal. I did a 50% and he was fine afterwords.
down to 75 not 7!
Thank you. Did this once but I'll try it again, especially since I'm getting my new canister filter today. Will take some of the media I have in current filter and use it in the new one. I'll let you know how it goes.
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