Please help, my albino oscar in trouble
Hi everyone, I'm really hoping you can offer me some advice as my albino oscar is in trouble tonight. When I got home from work, he was swimming but very weakly and kept rolling over to his right hand side. He then dropped to the bottom of the tank and remains still on his right side but he is still alive and tries to swim a little if I go anywhere near him. I have heard of swim bladder problems but don't know much about it. I have taken him out of the tank briefly to check he doesn't have a stone stuck in his mouth and can see nothing. I have had a PH problem a few weeks ago which was only corrected by adding some ocean rock on the advice of my local fish shop. Prior to that, PH & nitrites were fine, the shop said it was likely too acidic by having some large fish who were going to be producing more mess. His behaviour has changed over the past couple of weeks although he was feeding so I didn't think he was in trouble. Any help or thoughts would be really gratefully received, thank you all.
Yes, more data is needed. This could be a genetic thing, which is unpreventable and untreateble basically. But it could also be related to water conditions.
Tank size, fish number and species; how long set up; tank water pH, nitrates, ammonia and nitrite. This info will help.
Sadly he died in the night, bless him, but I'm keen to understand what may have happened and learn from it if there is something I could have done to prevent it or to help him, had I been more experienced.
Apologies if all my terminology and detail aren't quite right but I'd had him since mid April this year, not sure how old he was but still only young, about 3" in length I guess. He joined a tank that had been established in Feb this year. Original tank occupants are a leopard plec, a silver dollar & a yellow severum I inherited from a friend. They were later joined by 2 thick lipped gouramis then, in April, the albino oscar joined along with 2 leopard lace angels. Tank is approx 110 litres. I only have two types of testing kit, one for nitrites, the other for PH which had settled down the past couple of weeks after being too acidic which my local fish shop put down to some of the fish being quite large so more messy. I had begun gravel cleaning alongside 10% water change every 7-10 days thinking that was the sole PH culprit but, after bieng recommended to get ocean rocks, things quickly settled back to normal readings. Nitrites have been spot on for ages.
His behaviour had altered past few weeks which I had put down to the community settling but perhaps that was wrong. He started out quite feisty, never looking for trouble but standing up for himself with the larger yellow severum when he needed to, but of late he had become a bit more subdued. He was never a really fast swimmer compared to the others but I wondered if that was in keeping with his breed. This listing over to the right only showed itself when I got home last night and, although later in the evening, he came up from the bottom of the tank a couple of times and tried to swim upright for a while, he would soon sink to the bottom again and rest, always on his right side.
My first comment is that there are far too many fish for a 29g (110 litre) tank. The potential size of several of them will itself cause problems in the water. Even at young sizes, these fish which are territorial if not downright aggressive by nature are sending out chemical signals which other fish pick up on. Result is stress that gets worse day by day.
This may have had something to do with things. A new fish introduced into a tank that is crowded and containing other fish warning the new comer to get out of their territory, literally, is bound to be affected.
The water quality is clearly due to the overcrowding. Lowering pH is caused by organics (waste) being broken down by bacteria, which produces CO2 and that causes carbonic acid which lowers the pH. I would suspect your nitrates were high, this also causes stress, and nitrates are related to the nitrogen cycle which is directly affected by fish and organics. You mentioned nitrites (with the "i" not the "a") which are different. Ammonia was probably high when the Oscar was introduced, this too affects fish and when stressed even more. Ways to prevent this water problem are less fish (and compatible fish) in the given volume, plants (if appropriate to the aquascape/fish), and weekly partial water changes of no less than 30% up to 50%, the volume depending upon conditions, fish, and other factors. With what you presently have in this tank, I would recommend 40% water changes 2 or 3 times each week; and this is only to help the fish until the situation can be rectified.
You will have to get rid of several of these fish or this is only going to worsen. I may leave this for another episode, but I am willing to offer suggestions if asked. You can find many of these fish in our profiles, and info on minimum numbers (Silver Dollar for instance are shoaling fish that need a group, but that means more space), minimum tank size (for that species only, note), water, compatibility issues, etc. Second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top takes you to the profiles.
Thanks for your advice Byron. I did read your profiles about the Silver Dollar, who I inherited along with the plec and severum, not sure how long the 3 of them had been together with their previous owner but I think it was a few years. I asked my local fish place about him needing company of his own kind and they said, if he seems to be OK, leave well alone. The others seem healthy and happy at the moment but I think you're right that the oscar was stressed, that must account for him becoming more subdued. What do you think happened to suddenly cause his being on his right hand side just yesterday and succumbing so quickly? Would that be down to the ammonia or nitrates you mention or a food problem or an injury? I confess to taking the shop's advice on what kits to buy, they said I only really needed a PH and a Nitrite kit but it seems not.
So sorry to hear of your loss. Oscars are quite commical... big puppies.
If you can you need to invest in a liquid API Master test kit. $40-$50 It should include AMMONIA, NITRITE, NITRATE, PH, GH and one other I think. they do sell them seperately, obviously, but they should have advised the three in caps as they represent the 3 stages of the nitrogen cycle and throwing any one of the numbers out will cause havoc.
To reduce any of the three numbers in an emergency doing 30%-50% water changes will help. In extreme cases, do a couple one after the other. Kinda like diluting your water down. Don't forget your temperatures must match and your de-clorinator. I think 1 Oscar needs a minimum of 75 Gallons so you can see what Byron means by overcrowding. don't worry we've all done it. Unknowingly caused a fish loss. :shock: :oops:
It is very difficult for anyone to accurately diagnose fish health problems. Internal issues may occur from deformity, stress, poor water, feeding--all before we acquire the fish. The stress of being in a store tank is considerable, under less than ideal conditions; then the stress of being chased around the tank and netted into a bag, traveling home, having to adjust to what might be completely different water, dumped in a totally new environment, with other fish it has never seen before--when one considers all this, it is perhaps a miracle that the fish manage to survive as well as they do.
Ammonia and nitrite are very highly toxic in very small levels. You can read more in my article on Bacteria, the part on the Nitrogen cycle, in the freshwater articles section; here's the link:
Sometimes fish seem to live through these, but it takes its toll sooner or later. And the more stress a fish is under, the worse each thing affects it, like a domino effect.
Jackiebabie has mentioned the API kit, that is worth having. I think the Master contains pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, that is sufficient. The hardness test you only need once to find out your tap water and you can find that out from the water supply folks without wasting money on a hardness kit you'll likely never use again.
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