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Air Gulper


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  • Test Results for the Following:
    • * Ammonia Level(Tank) : 0ppm
    • * Nitrite Level(Tank) : 0ppm
    • * Nitrate level(Tank) : 10ppm at highest between WC
    • * Ammonia Level(Tap) : 0ppm (supply NOT chloraminated) 
    • * Nitrite Level(Tap) : 0ppm
    • * Nitrate level(Tap)Very low barely 2ppm. (reads as zero on home tests and official report from Water board has it below 2ppm)


    • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
    • 7.6 /kh- 7/gH 8 
    • No chloramines in supply. 
    • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
    • 7 / kh-1-2/ gh- 2 
    • Supply water very soft. All goldfish water is buffered and remineralised with Aquadur by JBL. Has been for years. 
      • Other Required Info:
        • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?
        • API, Salifert, Hagen/Nutrafin
        • * Water temperature?
        • 19/20 degrees C (66/68 F)
        • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?
        • 180L - running for years. 
        • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?
        • x2 eheim largest aquaball internal filters. 
        • * How often do you change the water and how much? Weekly 80%
        • Filter media squeezed at every WC in old tank water- and water tested every week before and after WC. I keep a log book!
  • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?
  • Thursdays are water change day and 80% changed. 
  • * How many fish in the tank and their size?
  • 1 Comet, 7 inches approx. 
  • * What kind of water additives or conditioners?
  • Prime 
  • Aquadur for adding minerals/buffer
  • * What do you feed your fish and how often?
  • Various commerical dried foods, fresh veg, and frozen (gamma irradiated stuff)
  • * Any new fish added to the tank?
  • No
  • * Any medications added to the tank?
  • See below - none currently in tank. 
  • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.
  • Over the last load of months the following:
  • Metronidazole
  • Salt 0.1%
  • Flubendazole 
  • Prazi 
  • esha2000 
  • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?
  • Nope, looks wonderfully healthy. 
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.?
  • See below. 


Folks I am looking for thoughts on my eldest fish- he's into double figures now. 


He basically has an air gulp problem and it is driving me to despair and I am just drawing a blank as to what I can actually do about it now. He did actually do this years and years ago - but I have no idea why it stopped and why it has started again in more recent months. 


A typical scenario would be thus- enter the room and he is fine. 9am Feed him a tiny amount of (sinking) food and he'll busy himself down at the bottom finding it etc... This will then be followed by surface gulping for hours and hours. This will leave him overly buoyant and although he will never flip over or become completely incapacitated he will struggle to reach the bottom and needs to just stay at the surface.  I've experimented with loads and loads of foods over the months. There are definitely some that he will be worse with (not great with Tetra Gold Japan or *any* flake food- and more of it results in more intense gulping) but it does still happen to a lesser degree with frozen bloodworm, fresh veg. (cucumber, peas...). Or even if he has been fasted he will sometimes still do it. His stools are normal and he passes a large amount of air out of his vent- what goes in must come out! 


With the cooler water oxygen saturation should not be a problem..... there is loads of surface agitation (and a good surface area) to dissuade him from wanting to spend lots of time at the surface- makes no difference. Having a gentle flow, no venturi- makes no difference. 

All the treatments listed earlier - made no difference at all. Even briefly or temporarily .The tank has a tiny smattering of gravel but is essentially bare bottom with a few flat river rocks. There = generous amount of floating live plants : hornwort and elodea (that went through various chemical treatments- nothing new). 


I tried lowering the water level temporarily to see if that would help- made no difference. 


So any practical thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated - however esoteric- because I have reached a cul-de-sac in my mind as to what the issue is. He looks in great health- there are no signs of anything physiological amiss at all. No fin clamping or redness. And behaviourally he never flicks or does anything unusual except for this air gulping. 

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I often have had a goldie that is DETERMINED to gulp air! It is very frustrating as you can watch them become more & more bouyant...& even eventually flip over. It irratates the starch out of me!! I actually haven't had one do it in quite awhile, but resently my young Ryukin seems determined to gulp away!!  I try to deter this bad habit..I have stuck a fish net in there to kind of startle him out of his obsession. I have occasionally touched him. It worked for a little while. Oh yeah, I have occasionally placed a fish in one of those little fry thigees that are submerged under the surface of the tank...sort of solidary confindment!


More often I'll use my laser pointer to dissuade their bad habit. (The laser pointer seems to work if I do it often.) I used the laser pointer recently on the Ryukin....it seems to be helping some...at least I hope so.


I can't stand to watch a fish become uncontrollably bouyant!!! Anywho....that's some desperate ideas I have tried?

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Yeah sure- at the minute I have:


NLS Algaemax 


JBL Gold Pearls 

JBL Spirulina Flakes


A couple of the Hikari pellets- I can't remember their names off the top of my head. Lionhead? I have the Oranda one but never give him that as it's a floating pellet. 


Tetra Gold Japan Pellets. 


Tetra Goldfish Flakes 

Fluval Flakes 


He's probably best on the JBL Gold Pearls- they are a small pellet. But he can still be poor eating those- there's really nothing of that list that is "safe". And sometimes the teeny tiniest amount will start it off- and like I said sometimes none at all. There is the odd sporadic good day when I think there is a progress and then we're back to square one. 


Jeana- thanks for your reply :) It is the most irritating, frustrating thing.  I sometimes feel like crying watching him do it. I'm just hopeful that it will stop spontaneously like it did before if there isn't anything that I can do to actively stop it. 

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My fish both went through a long phase where they would suck at the surface because they're eating the thin biofilm on the surface and the edges of the wall where the water and glass meet. I noticed when I had a HOB with a surface skimmer, that the behaviour stopped. :idont

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Thanks Chai, I guess it is a possibility....I'm going to look into buying one because I'm getting desperate! Feel like anything is worth a go (within reason) The heavy surface agitation does seem to stop much in the way of a (visible) film forming. 


I fasted him today and he was fine this morning, fine this afternoon and then started on the air again.... buoyant now. I just can't figure it out at all.  :(

Edited by yazooo
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My first thought was -- slurping the surface film.  I think Chai's HOB with skimmer is a great idea.  


I've had another, rather crazy, idea.  Maybe this fish just really, really likes to eat at the surface.  Maybe give him something particularly good to eat there -- like duckweed.


Do you presoak the food?

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YES! I 2nd Sharon's suggestion on the Duckweed...........PLUS make sure you soak ANY food that floats! I keep a little cup & scoop up a little tank water drop in dry food & don't feed it until it is soaked! Mostly I feed gel food which sinks immediately & I like that ALOT!


I hope you find the answer to help your goldie....it is SO irritating when they habitually become AIR DRINKERS!!  They need a Self Help Group!!

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Actually, Jeana, I was going to suggest soaking if she wasn't doing it now.  However, I would soak the pellets by putting them in a spoon and adding water in small amounts, allowing the pellets to soak it up completely before adding a bit more, and stopping when no more water is absorbed.  Then feed them one at a time so none are soaking in the bottom of the tank.  My reasoning is that if there is an excess of soaking water, two things can happen.  If you pour off the excess water, soluble nutrients go with it.  If you put the soaking water in the tank with the soaked pellets, the soluble proteins in the soaking water will float to the top.


On the other hand, if she is soaking the pellets, I would suggest not doing this, but rather feeding the pellets one or a few (depending on size) at a time without giving any more than one mouthful.  The proteins in the surface film come from food, so if the fish is swallowing the pellets before anything can dissolve, the film isn't tasty.


Another option is gel food, which I think might release less protein than pellets as long as the fish eats every bit.

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I did that for a while.. I put the food in a big tablespoon and added just a bit of clean water (easier to use clean water so I don't need to clean the syringe in between tanks) at a time with a syringe. I let it swell, but not enough to waste water... Just enough to be more easily chewed and digested. :)

As for the HOB, I'm using an API Superclean 50. It is very quiet and all you hear is a slight hum from the motor. No rattling, no shaking.

The intakes are baffled in two places to allow for both prefiltering and less suction for my fish (the filter is on a tank with two baby fish and the intake has multiple suction locations) and it still needs to have the custom cut cartridges rinsed VERY often. It's a very very efficient filter and I have no complaints... Unless you do not want to be rinsing it often, then maybe you'll want to pass on it. It has to be cleaned often because that's just how well it filters a tank. You could add extra prefiltering padding in order to lessen the frequency of rinsing the padding. :)

It's only about 200something gph, but it does a great job of keeping the surface perfect and the water crystal clear even with two very very messy baby fish in the tank. They have to be fed often, and that means lots of waste. You can turn the flow waaaay up and waaaaaaay down to just barely a trickle.

Edited by Chai
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Hi guys, 


Yes I've tried soaking the food :) That was one of the earliest things I did- but like I said he is doing this gulping even without being fed anything at all by me. 


However I noticed something this morning- he was pooping a fair bit of green. And I haven't given him veg in a number of days. So he has been eating his plants. Nothing untoward in that except that the 'fasting' I have been doing isn't really going to be fasting if he's filling himself with greens day and night and then when I do feed him it would be on top of the plant material. I wonder if it might be an idea to temporarily remove the live plants just to give his GI tract a genuine rest?


I've ordered this skimmer:



So hopefully that will arrive soon.


I was also thinking- I don't use any chemical filtration. Perhaps it would be worth running some activated carbon just in case of intangibles in the water supply? I'm disinclined to think that this is the case just based on the other tanks being fine but I suppose you never know if one fish maybe more sensitive than others. Worth a try anyway. 

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Oh no!  Don't remove the plants.  Lots of greens are what you want to keep his digestive tract working.  Digestive tracts do not need rest.  Green poop is good.


I recommended duckweed because it may be the most nutritious single food you can give a goldfish.  It has the advantages of terrestrial vegetables plus high quality protein.  Feed whatever veggies he likes.  Algae foods are also good.

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