HELP fish struggling to breath, can't resolve - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 12-29-2007, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
HELP fish struggling to breath, can't resolve

Hi, I have an 18 Gallon (cofee table fish tank) it has been set up for about 2 months. everything was fine, tested everything weekly with no problems. I have been doing 10% water change once a week.

Last night the water has gone really cloudy and the fish are struggling to breath.

I have done a 50 % water change last night and a 25% water change this morning. I have just had to do another water change as the fish were all vertical again struggling for air.

Once I have done the water change everything seems fine for a while and then it deteriates again. I fear with all the water changes the balance in teh tank is now gone but without changing the water they are struggling to breath. (there has been 1 fatality already)

The only thing we can think of that has caused it was that the water out of the tap was very cloudy the other day and there was something in it that is now breeding in the tank.

we have added oxygen tablets to no avail???

All Nitrates Nitrites, PH, Amonia etc are all fine!

I don't know what else to do I have tried bottled water (with tap safe etc etc)

All I keep getting told is to do a water change but this has been done already and is just temporarly solving the problem.

There also seems to be an oily film on top of the water, I don't know what this is any advice on how to remove it safely would also be good

Any help would be greatly appreciated


Sorry, we have 5 fantail gold fish all different types
their is also a air stone in the tank, no plants, a few small rocks which have all been in from the start.

PH has dropped from 7.2 to 6.8 I can only assume it is from teh water change.

Nitrate 0
nitrite 0
hardness 6
KH 6
Amonia 0

we feed the fish every other day at the moment

filter system is :

carbon filter > coorse sponge > bio balls > fine sponge > fan


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post #2 of 4 Old 12-29-2007, 01:37 PM
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It could be some type of algal bloom. This could be removing the oxygen for the tank. If there have been a lot of storms in the area then there could be a lot of excess nutrients in the water right now causing the bloom.

Also, goldfish prefer lower water temps so lowering the temp might help as this will deter some algal blooms and also allow for more oxygen to dissolve in the water. If you can, lower your water level slightly so there is a lot more surface agitiation from the filter return and this will also help to get more oxygen in the water.

Other than that, the water changes will help. I know they are a pain but sometimes you just have to wait it out until the tnak balances out and the bloom stops. There is a product, Algone, that is supposed to be very good to kill algae so that is another option.
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post #3 of 4 Old 12-29-2007, 01:55 PM Thread Starter

Thanks for the reply, do you think that it could be algae then? I am new to fish tanks though I thought algae was not a big problem for cold water fish? the weather ahs been generally poor but that is usual for England this time of year. I use tap safe and stress syme both from tetra before adding the water.

Can I quickly ask, how often should I be doing the changes? I am doing them as infrequent as possible, but i have had to do 2 today and may have to do another by the end of the day.

i do not mind doing the changes if it means the fish survive but I am worried that the balance in the tank that has been built up will be gone and this may also be having a detrimental effect.

Thank you again and I will post with updates and further feedback.

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post #4 of 4 Old 12-29-2007, 02:15 PM
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50% weekly water changes are fine. Is what I have done for years.

With the tank only being 2 months old, I have found that an algal bloom right about 2 weeks after the cycle finishes to be normal with all my tanks. I actually get one twice a year. But I have never had a problem with the fish gasping for air.

What is the current temperature of your tank? The other thing could be that the goldfish are very big waste producers. I see that you don't really have a substrate of any depth so gravel vacs are not an issue but the fish might be producing larger amounts of ammonia that are feeding the algae. This will also go away in time as the bacteria multiplies enough to take care of the ammonia. And no, you will enver see an ammonia reading as the algae is using it as a food source as fast as it can be produced. If I am mistaken and you do have deep substrate, have you been doing gravel vacs with every water change?

What type of filter do you have? It might be an issue with the filter. Carbon needs to be removed and replaced every 2-3 weeks. With the goldfish, I would say every 2 weeks. Make sure to rinse out the sponges with every water change but rinse them in the old tank water, not tap water. Tap water will kill the beneficial bacteria in the sponges. Oh, and the carbon is not actually needed so if oyu want to put another sponge in there instead of the carbon it should be fine. Only time you need the carbon would be to remove medications after treating the fish.
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