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Goldfish gasping for air in clean water?


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Hello! I bought a black moore goldfish this January. His name is Albert :) Unfortunately when I got him, I did not know the first thing about fish. My mom had had guppies and told me that basically all you needed was a tank and water and you could get a fish. I got a 3 gallon tank for my birthday, did some research and quickly replaced it with a 10 gallon. I wanted to go for the 30 gallon, but I couldn't afford it and had no room for it anyways. I then got Albert, not knowing about having to cycle a tank or filters or air stones or anything. Thankfully now I have all that, and I used Stabilify to cycle the tank quickly. Now on to the issue.

Albert was starting to do that thing where the fish gulps air from the top of the tank, so I was concerned because the tank was looking sort of dirty too. I cleaned out his tank, changed the water, cleaned off his decorations, everything until it was sparkling clean. Then I put him back in. But he continued and still continues to gasp for air and swim around. I don't understand this because it is completely new and good water. (Yes I have dechlorinator tap-safe stuff too) No matter what I do I can't seem to keep ammonia levels right for him to be happy. What do I do?

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could you please let us know your test results for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? we recommend using drop tests for it (the API is a good example) instead of strip tests, as strip tests are notoriously unreliable. :)

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Is it non-stop? Does he do it all day long or just after meals? Do you find he has stopped before meals? I only ask because some of this is normal and too much of this activity is not.

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I have top fin dechlorinator I think. And I know the instant cycling is sketchy but I didn't really have another choice. It seemed to work fine.

I do use the drop tests, and I haven't tested it in a couple days. The last time I tested it though it said the ammonia level was only at .5 even though he was really freaking out.....I need to test it again now that I've charged the tank though I'll do that once I get home from school and get back to you!

He has been doing this non stop for going on 3 days now. Though he'll stop it when I put in food.

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Test the water again. If you are getting any ammonia, then your tank is not fully or properly cycled. Ammonia can be damaging and even deadly any time the test reads above 0. Same for Nitrites.

Edited by ratfishes
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Welcome to Koko's PinkMellow! :)

Ratfishes is correct, if you are getting any ammonia or nitrite readings your tank is unfortunately not fully cycled. This is luckily something we can help you get through, and we should be able to do so without harm coming to your fish.

The first thing you should do is test your tap water AND tank water for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. I also recommend bringing your water into a pet store and having them check your KH and GH levels, which will help give you an idea of how stable your PH will be.

If your tap and tank PH are similar, you will be able to do large and frequent water changes while your tank is cycling. This would be ideal. :) If the PH levels end up being different, we will have to go from there and give you different options of how to perform adequate water changes without harming your fish or the beneficial bacteria that are establishing themselves while your tank cycles.

What kind of water testing kit are you currently using? We recommend the API Master Test Kit, which is a drop test kit (not strips, which can be very inaccurate) and give you tests for High/Low Range PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. You will want to test your water at least once a day, and if at any point the Ammonia and/or Nitrite is over 1ppm collectively, you will need to do a very large (50 - 90%) water change to get these levels safe. Not doing this can cause permanent damage to your fish. :(

There are also a couple products that will help make the water safe during this process. Seachem Prime is a water conditioner that will help detoxify ammonia and nitrite, so that there is less of a chance of it harming your fish. There is also another similar product called Amquel Plus, which would be great as well. I would highly recommend getting one of these ASAP, since it will reduce the toxins in the water which are effecting your fish.

If you are not already aware, when you clean your tank and filter media, do not rinse anything in tap water. The chlorine and chloramines present in tap water will kill and beneficial bacteria which are what converts ammonia and nitrite into less toxic substances. Your filter media should just be rinsed in old tank water regularly and reused. If you have any questions at all regarding filter media let us know and we can walk you through how to get it setup to house as much good bacteria as possible. :)

I hope this makes sense so far! Please let us know if you would like any elaboration on anything, all the information can be a little overwhelming at first. We look forward to helping get you and your Moor fully cycled and setup for success. :)

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When you change your water, which you should do every day, please do not "clean everything." The bacteria that will get rid of the ammonia grow on surfaces in your tank as well as in your filter. You should siphon off the debris from the bottom of the tank, empty the dirty water from the filter, and clean the front of your aquarium glass ONLY if it's getting hard to look through. Any other cleaning will slow the cycling process.

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