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Steve1107 10-02-2009 12:13 PM

Zebra danio not swimming -- help please!
Please help! Our zebra danio acts like he's really sick and feels really bad. For about 3 days now he just drifts or floats at the surface, and then if we stimulate him (approach the tank, tap the glass, disturb tha water) he takes off and swims like crazy for a bit, then normally, then floats again. This morning he had made a little depression in the gravel between plastic plant and tank wall, where he just hangs out motionless until we tap the glass really hard, then he swims a bit and goes back. Sometimes when he swims he kinda drifts sideways or swims with his head way up and tail down.

No rashes or wounds, does not look bloated...he's a crimson Glofish, color now a little faded as if stressed.

He lives in a 2.5 gallon Aqueon tank established 5-6 weeks ago, cycled three days with no fish. Tank has a filter that came with it, a heater, and one other zebra danio, who seems totally healthy (we had three, lost the first one suddenly about ten days ago -- he did the "ok at bedtime, floating dead the next morning" deal). We've had real trouble controlling ammonia, due at least in part to food debris. This week with really aggressive gravel hygiene (vacuum), big water changes (about 80% 2 days ago), now we have ammonia 1 ppm, nitrate and nitrite at recommended levels near zero, pH about 6.2 to 6.6 (hard to keep it high enough). Temp. 72-78 F. We've added Stress Coat, Stress Zyme, and Prime.

If anyone knows what may be wrong and how to help, thank you very much!! They're such friendly, happy little fish and this little guy really is struggling bravely. I would hate to lose him, and also don't like seeing any creature suffer...


Twistersmom 10-02-2009 07:50 PM

Hello Steve and welcome to the forum!

With no rashes or wounds, I have to guess that the fish fell ill due to high ammonia levels. I would test the water daily. Daily water changes may be needed. Keep the ammonia and nitrites as low as possible. Not over feeding the fish will help control ammonia levels.
Personally, I believe smaller tanks are much harder to maintain. They are to small to hold a cycle. If you could up grade to a 10 gal, I think you will find good water quality much easier to maintain.

Steve1107 10-02-2009 09:43 PM

Thank you for the input and for your help with our spunky little fish
I will keep up frequent water changes until ammonia is under control Interesting thought about tank size In that case it's funny that small tanks seem to be aimed toward beginners, don't you think?

Best regards,

MikeyG 10-02-2009 09:57 PM

Indeed, the small self contained tank kits are dessigned to appeal to us beginners. I started out with a 1.5 tetra cube, then began reading about the limitations, upgraded to a 5, and now I have 2 10 gallon tanks, the 1.5 and 5 are currently empty (I may put a dwarf puffer in the 5 in a month or so).

Twistersmom 10-03-2009 08:51 AM

The fish industry will do anything to make a few bucks. I believe a lot of people get tricked into thinking their fish will do well in those small tanks, experience fish loss, then give up on the hobby out of frustration.

A 5 gal will hold a cycle, but the extra space that a 10 gal or larger provides, makes maintenance so much easier. The extra water volume helps keep toxic levels from spinning out of control as quickly.

Steve1107 10-03-2009 04:58 PM

Changed 60% water based on suggestions above. Thanks!

Update: Sick danio got more active for a while but not totally at his normal. Now back to lying on bottom, swims intermittently and looks like he's having increasing difficulty, like swimming sideways or leaning over while he's swimming. When he lies on bottom he seems to be gasping with his little gills. M-a-y-b-e a little extra humpity curve in his spine, not sure. Stomach not fat and not sunken. No other visual clues.

His sole remaining mate still swimming great, like always. This guy's gills looked a little red yesterday, now seem to be fading back to normal.

Current levels: ammonia 0.25 ppm, nitrate and nitrite at lowest level on scale, near zero I guess, pH 7.0, temp. 78.

How long do you think it takes to recover from ammonia toxicity, and does the ammonia level have to be totally zero? Do you think the sick little guy may have some parasite or infection? Should I give him medicine?

Thank you from a worried Danio dad,


Twistersmom 10-03-2009 06:01 PM

I would not use any medication, not knowing for sure what problem the danio is facing. Medication on top of ammonia levels would just add extra stress.
I would just keep up with the water changes. If the illness is ammonia related, the danio's recovery will just depend on how much damage was done due to ammonia levels.
Good luck! I hope the fish pulls through for you.

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