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Saving Nemo....... (please help with advice)


Sennenko

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Hello everyone! New member with a lot of newbie questions, and in need of some immediate help & advice because my little guy is not feeling well and I want to save him. There seems to be a lot of veteran aquarists here with a lot of knowledge and if someone could PLEASE bear with me I’d really appreciate responses to my problems I’ve recently encountered with my goldfish. Please forgive my newbie mistakes — I’m really trying to do this guy good and proper… I want to better myself as a caretaker and see him happy and healthy! There is an overwhelming amount of information I just learned once discovering this forum…! I almost want to cry because there’s so much to take in. At the end of the post will be my water test results. I need a lot of help! So sorry this is long but I wanted to paint the whole picture. My questions, if you’d be so kind to follow up on, are in bold.

As far as I can tell he’s a calico fantail or veiltail, not sure which. He has a deformity on one of his frontal fins; on the right side its as if it’s growing out from inside his gill area, a lot higher up on his body as compared to the other, which is located lower and not in the gill! Hence his name, Nemo!

A little back story: I inherited this guy along with 3 other fancies in June 2012 in a 10 gal tank from a friend that was moving. They had been kept in this tank together for about 6 months prior when they were all small – (I think they were bought at 10mos~1yr old from the store.) I did some quick research once I got ‘em, and learned obviously that this was way overstocked, and I promptly found a family that had a 55 gal tank and they adopted them into a better home, with me keeping this one, because I took pity on his Nemo-fin and also thought he was so beautifully colored. He measures about 4” long from mouth to tail currently… he grew about ½ inch in length since I first got him.

I know I need to upgrade his tank as soon as I can to at least 20gal in the next few weeks but I want to get him happy again. I’m saving up some money for the kit… (I’ll need advice on transferring him into his new home… but that’s another topic? Would moving him into a larger tank fix his problems right now or shock him too much? I don’t have any hospital or quarantine tubs yet either… meh!)

By blind luck, I kept him in this tank with no incident for 6 months until now. Sorry to say but I had no prior experience… but this was my routine: I was replacing the carbon filter once a month, using Tetra AquaSafe conditioner with each weekly 30% water change with a gravel vacuum, and turning on the bubbler for a few hours each day. He was spritely; happy to see you, ate with appetite, and swam around like a happy fish. I had no water test kit, because everything seemed just fine…. It appeared cycled but had no true idea (I know... don’t kill me). Are you supposed to have an air bubbler/stick on 24/7 or can you plug it in for just a few hours a day?

About 1 month ago, he starting bottom sitting for 2+ days and was very listless… the local Petco guy thought it might be nitrate poisoning, because overfeeding may have been an issue with my family members accidentally double-feeding during the holidays (using Tetra flakes… also, I know. I’m working on it.) He recommended switching to AmQuel Plus to detoxify ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. I did a 50% water change and added this new conditioner and by the second day Nemo was back to his normal self.

However… about 4 or so days ago he was swimming around normally, just fine, but I noticed he developed a white pimple-like bump on his forehead, with what I thought were one or two other small ones on the back of his dorsal fin area. I watched it and it grew a little larger the next day or so, by this point Nemo started acting funny; he got lethargic and starting hanging out at the top of the tank all day and all night for about 2 days; not really gasping for air, just sort of floating there. I was concerned so I did another water change and attempted to remove some gravel, which I realized was ridiculously too much and probably part of the problem (it was about ½” high.) By removing this, it kicked up a storm of debris and clouded up the water pretty bad. L I also had some API AccuClear drops which I added, thinking it could help clump up the tiny cloudy bits and make it go into the filter… it eventually settled down.

I researched more, learning about the possibility of ICH…. Sure enough, his ‘pimple’ appeared to have burst and was flaking away… so I freaked out because I thought for sure now all the parasitic swimmers were going to infest the tank and reinvest Nemo – based on my readings, I decided to try the salt and heater method rather than dose him in harsh chemicals.

The next day after the water change and cloudy water he switched to bottom sitting and is just hanging out there, not moving much with hardly any appetite and looking very sad indeed.

Mind you, I had no tank heater before this. I had one of those dinky stick-on thermometers which was reading around 60-65° average, but it gets pretty cold in our house at night (50°s), and ICH is supposed to thrive in cold water right, so…On Sat (2/2) I did another small water change (about 25%) and bought a submersible heater & better thermometer... installed it, and let it adjust over 24 hrs which was supposed to gradually bring it up to 74°~76°, which is where it is at now. I had added 1 tbsp dissolved kosher Hawaiian sea salt in at the time of placing the heater in. (Dissolved in tank water of course… I’m learning! I almost put the salt in directly. D’oh.) I bumped it up slightly yesterday evening (2/3) to hopefully bring it to near 80° within the next 24 hours which I read, and added another 1 tbsp of sea salt gradually… is this correct? Is it too much of a temp change? Do I need more salt?

He seems to have responded a little bit to this treatment – there is only a slight white spot left where the ‘pimple’ had been, it seems to be going away... he is moving around a bit more, but not by much. If I get up close to the tank in his face, he’ll wiggle around a bit and make a lap around the bottom of the tank, and slowly settle back in, usually near the back of the tank and hiding away from me.

I read here in the forums to try peas... because he may also be having swim bladder problems? I fasted him last night and this morning, and gave him 1 cooked, peeled and slightly mashed pea tonight (2/3). He ignored it at first, then became real interested in it… kept chewing it and spitting it out but excitedly going after it again. It took him a while to get all of the mushed pieces but he did. I plan on giving him peas for the next two days, is this correct? Just one pea a day?

Today (2/3) after coming home from work and before feeding him the pea, I noticed there was a long, white/bubbly poo still attached to him as he bottom-sat. Constipation? Swim bladder? I placed my hand near the tank so he would move around to dislodge it but I’m sure this is no good sign, as they were always fairly normal poos… lol.

I also bought a Tetra EasyStrips test kit as a quick fix last night… I was on a budget because payday is still a few days away and the cost of all the separate drop kits REALLY added up… Now I’m learning these strips aren’t as accurate but it is the best I can do at the moment. Unfortunately it didn’t have an ammonia tester in it so I am at a loss there, but nitrites are 0ppm and nitrates are at ~20ppm… so could ammonia really still be a factor with all the recent water changes I’ve done?

I had been administering water changes using my Reverse Osmosis filtered water system, adding the AquaSafe each time for conditioning (prior to switching to AmQuel Plus) last month... And adding the water in pretty much right away, not letting it sit L. But as I mentioned, this method had seemed to work just fine for 6 months…!

So…. Now I am unsure if I should switch to my tap water, as I am just learning there is an issue with GH, KH and pH values of my RO pure water!? Since I only recently acquired the test kit I have no idea if these values were like this the whole time or not. (I’m guessing probably..?) The RO pure water is very soft GH, very low KH, and very low pH & is acidic… L The tank readings and straight from the RO readings are virtually the same with the exception of the nitrates in the tank. So since the conditions could very well have been this way for over 6 months, would it be too much of a shock to raise GH, KH, pH with buffers, bicarbonate soda, limestone, etc?

Without further ado, here are the water stats:

Test Results for the Following:

· * Ammonia Level (tank): not available L

· * Nitrite Level (tank):0~0.25ppm, hard to color match exactly; I think it’s closer to 0.

· * Nitrate level (Tank): 20ppm

· * Ammonia Level (Tap): not available L

· * Nitrite Level (Tap) 0ppm

· * Nitrate level (Tap) 0ppm

· * Ph Level, (Tank) (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 6.2 pH, 0~20ppm KH, 25ppm GH

· * Ph Level, (Tap) (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 6.8 pH, 40ppm KH, 25ppm GH

Other Required Info:

· * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1

· * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? (1) Tetra whisper i10

· * What kind of water additives or conditioners? Was using Tetra AquaSafe, recently switched to AmQuel Plus, API AccuClear once in a while but rarely.

· * Water temperature? Currently 78°

· * How often do you change the water and how much? Weekly 25% change w/ vacuum

· * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? Yesterday, 2/2 20% WC

· * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 10 Gal and running for 6 months in my home, 6 months in prior owner’s home

· * How many fish in the tank and their size? 1 fantail/veiltail 4” long mouth to tail

· * What do you feed your fish and how often? Tetra flakes, just introduced pea

· * Any new fish added to the tank? no

· * Any medications added to the tank? Just salt and heat

· * List previous issues experienced (dropsy, SBD, etc.) nothing but bottom sitting/listlessness/lost of appetite prior to this current occurrence

· * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? White spot, possible Ich, as described above

· * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? listlessness, top them bottom sitting, loss of appetite

· * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment: see above!

· * You can really help us to identify with the concern more accurately if you post some pictures and a short video: here he is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7v1m5GBwmQ&feature=youtu.be

He only will swim around like this and make a lap if I get right up in his face and/or put my fingers next to him on the glass. Otherwise, he'll just sit there! Usually he'd get all excited to see me. :(

Also, he usually doesn’t have the hood light on… I only recently acquired it and before he got sick I tried it a few weeks ago and he seems to not like it. He swims around fast as if startled and tries to hide under the plastic plants or the filter when I do this. His tank is never in direct sunlight but it is nearby some windows so there is a lot of ambient light throughout the day. I just turned it on to take the photos and pictures tonight. Is that ok?? Does he need the lightbulb?

ANY HELP IS VERY MUCH APPRECIATED I don’t want to overdo things too much at once and stress him out more than he already is!! Not even sure if it was proper Ich, should I continue the salt and heat for a few more days? L Poor guy!! I feel so bad!

Edited by Sennenko
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Looks like you've been learning a lot on the site :):welcome

When dealing with ich water quality is important. You'll be wanting to do daily water changes. 50% or 100% are easy to do in a 10 gallon and it helps you keep track of the salt concentration. You'll always need to redose the salt you take out of a water change and put it back in. Daily vacuuming is also important since there is a free swimming stage for ich. There is a link in my siggy on salt. You will want to salt to 0.3% for at least a week.

Bottom sitting can be from stress. For right now, lets just salt and maintain good water quality. At some stage we'll need to address your filter, pH. Better diet will give us better details on the poo. Right now a few days of peas will do the fish good :)

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Hi Sennenko,

The Mods will be here shortly but could you really briefly say what your think his main problem. He is a very pretty fish and it might well be that the white pimple was simply a normal wen spot. Ours gets them all the time.

On the other hand, he seems to suffer from water quality issues (and, yes, the larger tank would help tremendously). Please don't medicate him any more until the MODs chime in. My instinct is that you need to get the water chemistry right (and him into the bigger tank) but that he does not actually have ich.

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Hello, thank you for taking the time to answer the questions, and to explain clearly the situation. No one here will judge you, because almost everyone came from the same beginning, where a lot of misinformation was given to us in regard to keeping goldfish. I'm glad you are here, and I hope to be able to help Nemo. :)

The first order of business is to find out the tap and tank ammonia levels. I recommend switching over to the API freshwater master test kit, where you can determine ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, as well as pH. Strips are not very reliable, and they are extremely expensive. If you can't get a test kit right away, could you bring samples of the tank and tap water to an LFS to be tested? Make sure they tell you the exact numerical answers, so that you can relay them to us here.

I am not convinced that Nemo had ich, but let's leave things as they are, except for daily 10-20% WCs (without replacing salt) until we get all the parameters tested. I hope you can do this ASAP.

Have Nemo's eyes always been bulgy?

Amquel Plus is very good! :)

I hope to hear from you soon.

______________

Just to make sure that you aren't going to be overwhelmed with info/suggestions, here are the things I would like for you to do, in order of priority.

1. Get the parameters tested with a drop test kit, not strips. You can buy your kit, or have the LFS test them for you. Please get this done ASAP.

2. For now, do not replace salt. The pH is too low, and we don't know how much ammonia you may or may not have in the system.

3. I would like for you to do at least daily WCs, or every 4-6 hours, but only 10-20% at a time. NO salt added back until I know the parameters.

Also, as Flipshere asked, is there a reason why you are using RO?

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Why are you sorry?

You only have to be sorry if I somehow took offense, told you about it, and somehow manage to determine that you are at fault. :rofl

Otherwise, carry on. :P

How are you doing?

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Thank you so much everyone..... I am SO relieved you are all here!

I was using RO just out of convenience thinking it would be best with no chorline, yucky stuff, etc. Back then again I had no test kit so I thought this would just be the safest.... no, I wasn't adding anything back into it such as buffers. Just was using AquaSafe and now switched to AmQuel.. that's it.

Should I switch to tap because the pH and KH seem to be a little higher, and just use AmQuel Plus to decholrinate? BTW, I forgot to list that even my tap water was apparently 0ppm for chlorine/chloranimes...? hmm! Doesn't seem right but okay. If I use tap and add AmQuel can I replace the water right away or should I be letting it sit to warm up from the pipes now that my heater has the temp at 77 degrees? I should test the temp of the replacement water, correct?

As far as I can tell, his eyes did always sort of buldge out slightly, so I never thought anything of it.

I'm at work for another 6 hours unfortunately, but I will do another water change with no salt when I get home and feed him 1 pea again.. he did seem excited for some food this morning on my way out, I only gave him about 2 small flakes to tide him over but I didn't want to overdo anything.

I could take some water to the LFS to have them test it tomorrow... I don't think I can go down tonight after work (unfortunately I live out in the country and the nearest store is about 20 miles away! Because as I said payday is still a few days away... but when that strikes, I can buy the drop kit too and any other things you think I'll need for PH etc.

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So Ive been looking on the web and the best/easy way of using RO water Ive found is this...

Using RO Water

If you have decided you need to use RO water the first thing to be aware of is that it cannot be used "neat". Remember, the water now has no hardness and no alkalinity. It also has none of the essential trace elements needed for fish to be healthy and thrive.

All fish need some degree of hardness in the water, and some degree alkalinity is necessary to prevent pH swings. This means that some minerals and other elements have to be put back into the RO water to make it habitable.

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I think CindiL on here is using RO water and if I remember right she adds Seachem gold buffer and gold trace to put back the correct stuff to make it "habitable" for her fish. But like Alex says get your tap water tested for Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and if possible Ph, Kh and Gh and the Mods can advise from there. ;)

Edited by FlipsHere
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Still no ammonia tester but I should be able to go down to LFS tomorrow with water samples and hopefully buy the API master kit.

Ok, readings form the tap are:

TAP

0ppm nitrate

0ppm nitrite

25ppm GH

1.0 ppm Chlorine (I have no idea why I had gotten a reading of 0 before?! The county does dump a lot of chlorine in the water table.. perhaps it's a new batch lol)

40ppm KH

6.8 pH

I am in the middle of a water change and have the tank about 3/5ths full.... aeration on, and I just fed him a pea (he's working on it.. I think he's got an appetite back) and he seems to be much more active today. Relatives said he was moving around a bit today, a good sign!

My one question is this - I did a teeny turn on the thermometer to bring it back down to 74°ish gradually, but my RO water I *WAS* using this whole time before, before I put the thermometer in, was at a constant 60° and that's the temp of my replacement RO water now. I don't know how it can warm up in time, as it's turning into night and we'll only get colder! It would shock him if I added water that was 15° difference! So if I dechlorinate the tap with Amquel Plus, I can use partial warm water to get the temp right, correct? The tank water readings right now (before water change... I'm debating on the temp and which water!) Again tank is 3/5 full right now.

TANK

20ppm Nitrate

0ppm nitrite

25ppm GH

0ppm Chlorine

20ppm KH

6.5 pH

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During the winter months, I always use partially warm water from tap, because I want to match the temp of the tank and tap, at least using the finger touch test.

Go ahead and double dose on the Amquel and do a 20-50% WC any time you like.

Your tap water is still pretty soft, so we will need to work on that, but that is a little bit down the list. :)

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OK, Thanks dnalex, you're saying go ahead and use tap to get it warm, double dose with Amquel and check that the chlorine has gone down and then I can put it in? Do I have to let it sit with the AmQuel, for how long? :) Great.

I appreciate all the help.

Will let you know the results from the LFS tomorrow.

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You actually don't have to check on the chlorine to go down before you use the treated water. You could, of course, but it's not necessary :)

1.0 ppm chlorine is pretty standard for municipal water.

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I did what you advised and it seems to have gone just fine. Nemo is wanting more peas, lol. Searching around and being more active!

I am concerned about some new symptoms, however! I was able to really closely examine him tonight and took a better quality video please take a look.

They seem small but I hope they are not serious things! There are these tiny white dots on the end of his long flowy tail as well as at the end of the dorsal. There had been a couple of these dots on the dorsal fin when I first thought he had ich a few days ago. Now they're all over his back tailfins. You can see it on the black fin better. Could it be finrot?! Ich still? ugh! The video doesn't really show it well, but in person you can definitely see the edges are white when before they were translucent/normal.

Also, he seems to have developed a scratch (?!) on the right side of his face above and behind the eye. It's hard to see in the video.

AND! His left eyeball seems to have a white cloudy bit that I didn't notice before. You can see it well in the beginning and end of the new video. Also note that first white spot on his forehead that was my concern. It had been much larger and pimple-like about 2-3 days ago.

Perhaps he accidentally scratched himself on the plastic plant? I did bump into him a few times when I began water change & removed the decorations.. he got all zippity and zoomed away from me in a panic, I hope he didn't hurt himself or it was something I did. Even though you can't really see the scratch in the video, in person it's definitely there. It looks like it's 1/4" long and has a very thin white edge to it. :(

oh no...

I am so fretful now! My family thinks I'm obsessed.

I was able to take a much better quality video, please take a look... I think you can spot these things in there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ExjXLFqYuE&feature=youtu.be

Edited by Sennenko
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Thank you for the video!

Don't fret! I am going to want you to do salt dips for him probably starting Wednesday, but you will need a LOT of salt for it. If you can get some Morton's Canning & Pickling salts, or any salt without additives, that would be great. You can find this at your grocery store. :)

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Ack! Salt bath! I'd sooo nervous/scared about that. I'll need explicit instructions on the how-to, lol.

Not sure I've seen morton's canning salt in my local stores. I live in Hawaii, and have great access to pure white hawaiian sea salt w/ no additives... will this work well?

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Ack! Salt bath! I'd sooo nervous/scared about that. I'll need explicit instructions on the how-to, lol.

Not sure I've seen morton's canning salt in my local stores. I live in Hawaii, and have great access to pure white hawaiian sea salt w/ no additives... will this work well?

Yes that would work perfectly. Would you please get some? :)

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Great! Gonna get some salt and try to get some samples down to the LFS today... I wont be reporting back probably for another 9 hours... big day ahead, lol.

Thought I'd report though that all my overprotective mommy-worrying might have been for naught - most of those new symptoms I described seem to have almost disappeared entirely! With the exception of a few little spots on his tail. But his eye is better (still a trace left of white), the scratch seems gone, and the white spot in the middle of his forehead is almost all gone!

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Ok, back.....As I said this morning Nemo looked really good and clean... those other things I noticed were gone. He was swimming around more but he still seems to hang around the bottom a bit once and a while.

I went off to work and then when I came home, he was bottom sitting still but I aroused his interest and he swam around for a bit. I took a sample of both my tap and my tank water and went to two stores. Unfortunately neither could test for GH/KH... but we did the others and the results were highly alarming for that ammonia!

The tap parameters were the same as my readings, no ammonia, 1ppm chlorine, everything else fine. BUT...

Tank water

Store #1: (drop method)

ammonia 1ppm

nitrate 0ppm

nitrate 25 ppm

pH 6.5

Store #2: (strips method)

ammonia 1.2ppm

nitrate 0ppm

nitrate 20 ppm

pH 6.5

AAGGHHH! :yikes: I know you are supposed to have 0 to .25 minimum if at all, right? I bought an API drop kit for ammonia testing right away and raced home like a crazy person and did a 50% water change & AmQuel... tested with new drops, Ammonia is now at 0.

What is especially troubling is that I had done that 30% water change just last night with the double dose of AmQuel with tap water like you suggested, dnalex... so how could the ammonia have gotten that high so fast?!

All I had given Nemo was 1 pea last night after the WC, and 2 small flakes of TetraMin this morning.

My only thought was that omg, i haven't rinsed the biofilter in probably never. I took it out to swish around in the water I had just removed and noticed it was pretty slimy thick with gunk..... I know there are beneficial bacteria in it, but being that it was never really rinsed, I gently rubbed my fingers over it in the water to remove some of this and the water became sort of murky brown.

Let things settle down a bit after new WC tonight and gave him 1 more pea.. that marks 3 days of pea, I guess I should stop with that? He really likes them now, though. (Although maybe a little too much... I saw a green short poo making its way to the filter but then I was quite sure I saw Nemo attempting to eat it and chew it up.. is that not good? :S hmmm!)

dnalex, do you still recommend salt dip? I'll check the parameters tomorrow morning before work. I still only have the strips for the other things, but at least I have the dropkit for ammonia. Because the API Master kit was $44.95 at one store!!! and the other didn't even have it! I see that amazon.com has one for $19.99 so I'm thinking I'll order that pronto.

aaaagh. :cry:

Edited by Sennenko
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First things first, don't panic! We will work this out as best as we could. :)

1. I suspected that you had a lot of ammonia, and that was one of the reasons why I encouraged getting a kit. It's good that you get the test. Now you can order the master kit off of Amazon when you are ready. For now, we know what we need to do :)

2. The Amquel only detoxifies the ammonia for about 24-48 hours; it doesn't make it go away. So, even though you did a WC yesterday and added a double dose, the ammonia is still there, albeit in detoxified form.

3. For now the pH at 6.5 is optimal, but it is actually beneficial for now, as it keeps the ammonia in ammonium form, which is largely non-toxic.

4. Yes, I would like to do salt dips, still. Let me know when you can get the sea salt. :)

_________________

So here is what I would like for you to do:

1. Keep doing daily 20%-50% WCs. This is to keep the ammonia as close to zero as possible, and also to make sure the pH stays at 6.5 and not shift anywhere until we get a chance to address it.

2. We'll start salt dips when you get the salt.

3. Other improvements to the set up as we go.

See? Not so bad. :)

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*sigh of relief* THANKS! I felt the hairs go up on my neck when I got the ammonia readings, I felt like such a bad caretaker, lol.

I was supposed to get the salt today but got so distracted for wanting to race home to do the water change. I will have it tomorrow for sure. What's your time difference, alex? It's 9:22pm for me here. I should be getting home from work tomorrow at about 3 or 4pm my time... will that work for you

What comes first, water change and then salt dip? What equipment will I need for a dip? Please list everything I might need, I am completely new to it all of course! I bought a large net to transfer him. Pretty sure I couldn't catch him by hand, he always swims away all affronted.

I saw some pinned threads I think... a tub for the solution, and a holding tub with dechlorinated water & an airstone... all temp matched? The ph of all my water seems to be the same, so....

Edited by Sennenko
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Here are the directions for a salt dip. I am having you do a very light dip, to get yourself and Nemo acquainted, and then we will increase the salinity of the solution. :)

SALT DIP

1. dissolve 10 teaspoons salt/gallon of water (10 grams/Liter, or 38g/gallon). This concentration is 1%. Let it match the temp/pH of the tank, and make sure to add de-chlorinator. You can also use tank water, but because you are adding a lot of salt per gallon, you will need to heat up the water. Hence, it's crucial that you cool it back down.

2. prepare a holding tank. This is a tank that is pH/temp matched with the main tank, and has been de-chlorinated. This can be a 5 gallon tub, with bubblestone, or something bigger.

3. make sure you have some sort of timer

4. gently lift the fish out of the tank, and place into temp/pH matched salt solution.

5. start timer.

6. if the fish stays continues to stay upright, or tilts over but can get back up, keep him/her in the salt solution for exactly 5 minutes.

7. remove fish from the salt, and place in holding tank. The reason why we do this is to: 1) give the fish a place to recover by him/herself, and 2)to let the fish purge out ammonia/wastes in a place that is not the main tank.

8. if the fish starts to lose balance and cannot get back before the minutes, remove him/her and place in holding tank, as described in #6.

9. after 1-2 hours, the fish can be moved back to the main tank. He/She might still be disoriented, but should be fine.

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