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Ammonia Poisoning? Fish Staying On Bottom


Guest angelamaria

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Guest angelamaria

Help! One of our 3 goldfish (the kind with a bubbly-looking wig on its head) has been staying on the bottom of the tank since this morning. She looks otherwise fine, with thin, clear poop. The other two are very active, although they both have solid, reddish poop. I checked all the levels, and found extremely high ammonia and nitrate levels, and then, after beginning to vacuum the gravel, intending only to replace about 25% of the water, found it absolutely filthy (I have not replaced any water in about a month), I decided to replace all of it, rinsing off all the plastic plants and gravel to clean it all out. I added all the water additives, then tested again, and found it somewhat normal, but she is still on the bottom of the tank, coming up every now and then, but less frequently. The levels before the water change were: Ammonia >8.0, pH 6.0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate >160. After the water change: Ammonia .50, pH 6.6, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0. I use non-chlorinated bottled water, with a Penguin bio filter. I added 3 tsp of Stress Coat, 1-1/2 tsp Stress Zyme, 1-1/2 tsp Ammo Lock, 1-1/2 tablets Start Right Tank Buddies, 12g of pH 7.0 (enough for only 10 gals), and 48g of Aquarium Salt (enough for 10 gals). The tank is 16gal, running for 6 months (normally with about 20% added/changed each week), and the fish are between 3 and 6 inches long, fed goldfish flakes. I was feeding them 2X a day (I will be changing to 1X day, as I believe the overfeeding may have caused the high ammonia?), I ordered pellets instead of flakes based on reading this site, and will be vacuuming once a week, also after reading here. I also found out that each fish should have 10 gals of water, so I hope to have a bigger tank sometime in the future, but cannot do so now, so the poor girls may have to remain in cramped quarters a little longer. PLEASE, though, the most important is how to treat poor Dorothy and her lying on the bottom. There are no other unusual marks or symptoms on her, and she appears to be breathing normally. It has been about 5 hours since the water change, and about 12 hours since we first noticed her on the bottom of the tank.

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  • Regular Member

I can't really help much, but I know that goldfish poop should be the color of their food, never clear. I have never seen ammonia levels so high! A water change was a good idea, but rinsing your gravel and all the decorations may have gotten rid of the "good bactera" that transforms ammonia to nitrites, and nitrites to nitrates. This is the nitrogen cycle, do you know about this? Did you rinse out the filter too? You might have to start the cycle over again, and that will be tough with an overcrowded tank. How big are they?

What are the levels after the water change? I think all you can do is really wait, but maybe some one else will come along with an idea. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Dorothy :)

The clear poop could be an indication of something wrong internally, such as parasites.

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Guest Chishower

Did she start showing symptoms AFTER the water change? Because your jump from 6.0 to 6.6 PH in such a short time could have made it worse. If it was ammonia, you should start to see black patches where she was burned.

If I am not mistaken, I think fish can handle higher ammonia levels at a lower PH. Not that they are good, mind you, just that they can take it. I would start by not playing with your PH. It would be better if it stayed stable, even if it is a smidge low.

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Hi,

Like Kissy said, since you changed all of the water, you upset the balance of beneficial bacteria in your tank and it will need to go through cycling again. Here is a link about the cycle of the tank. Cycle of the Tank

What type of filter do you have?

Since your tank is small for that many fish, it is good that you are feeding less--overfeeding will pollute the tank.

Also it is hard to keep top quality water in a small tank, that is why we suggest a minimum of 10 gallons per fish. And partial water changes (25%) weekly rather than a large change less often.

I am not sure what to suggest at the moment. I don't believe in adding chemicals to tanks unless it is absolutely necessary.

:)

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Guest angelamaria

Thanks for the comments thus far. Her symptoms began PRIOR to the water change, which is what precipitated the testing and subsequent water change in the first place. I have removed her (last evening, about 7 hours ago) to a separate bowl of plain bottled water, adding a drop or two of Stress Time each couple of hours, and she is moving a bit more. We'll see from there. There are no black marks on her to indicate ammonia burn.

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"There are no black marks on her to indicate ammonia burn."

She may still get them, since you see the black marks when the burns are healing.

If you moved her to a differnet setup, test your pH, as it may have changed with the bottled water. Did you make sure to add water conditoner, or is that what Stress Time is?

Glad to hear she's a little more active.

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Guest angelamaria

Thanks again for all the comments. She now has a thin line of black dots, in a perfect line, from her gill to tail. Also, all of her fins now have about 3-5 thin red veins along the edges of the fins. She is still appearing to be somewhat more active. How long should I wait before putting her back in the tank with the other two fish?

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Hi there angelamaria - my only question is why are you using bottled water? Unfortunately bottled water is missing important electrolytes and minerals that fish need - which is why it's so much better to use tap water and a good dechlorinator :)

Also, what is Stress Time? I haven't heard of this product :blink:

Please post back soon :)

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I agree with JenW...bottled water is not the ideal. Honestly, if you have your tank stable again, she may almost be better in there...just make sure that there is not a big difference in the Ph between your tank and the water she is currently in.

But definately get a bigger tank...3 fish in 10 gallons is way way overcrowded.

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The black dots in a line are on her lateral line, a sensitive part of the fish used to detect pressure in the water, I believe. I don't know what the black dots are signifying; it might be a change in her color but have never heard of this happening... can someone confirm this?

The red veins are showing there is excess ammonia... how big is the container she's now in? Have you tested the water lately?

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Guest angelamaria

The black dots are on her left side only now. The reason I am having to use bottled water is that I live in Germany (I am American) and the calcium (Kalk, it is called here) is unbelievable, in addition to the other rust and minerals resulting from living in homes with plumbing over 75 years old. You cannot use the tap water with any pump or device such as a coffee maker, or it becomes inoperable and corroded after 6 months. My last tank (one of those little Explorer kits) gave out after only a month using the tap water. They live on Lime Away here, and bottled "bubbly" mineral water is the water of choice for drinking. When you see what it does to bath faucets, coffee makers, and sinks, you would hate to have that stuff inside any pet or human. We use it for cooking only. And Stress Time is a water conditioner. I tested the big tank water again (in which my other two fish are swimming): pH is still 6.8, ammonia is still .50, and the nitrite is still 0. The bowl in which she has been in since yesterday has a pH of 6.5, ammonia is 4.0, and the nitrite is 0. However, she looks much more active, she ate some flakes today,

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An ammonia level at 4.0 is really high, especially since she's only been in there for a day. I'd do a 100% water change on the bowl now, and then maybe another tonight, depending on the test results of the ammonia :) Because she's in such a small place that isn't cycled, the ammonia will raise to deadly levels very quickly. Try your best to keep it under 1, and under .5 would be best. The lower the better. Do you know how many gallons or liters the bowl is?

I'm glad to hear she's doing well and eating :)

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Guest angelamaria

No, sorry, I probably wrote that wrongly. Lime away is used for appliances, not fish tanks, and the bubbly mineral water is for human consumption. About two hours ago, all of a sudden, Dorothy started swimming with her belly up. Based on the high ammonia levels, I then put her back in the tank with the other two fish, Velma and Wanda. Dorothy started floating, as if her backend was full of balloons, and she kept trying to swim downward, but keeps getting buoyed upwards, and is quite active. Velma is doing well, swimming all over and trying to attack Dorothy's back end. Wanda, while still active, is having bouts (about every 10-15 minutes) of going in a corner of the tank and standing on her head, in a vertical, still position, for about a minute or so. She keeps repeating this. It is quite a strange sight to see one fish trying not to float and another balancing in a corner, upside down. What is going on in this tank????? Up til Sunday, all has been very normal for the last 7 months, with no problems whatsoever.

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Whew okay I thought you were putting the chemicals in the tank for a second.

Your fish might be having floaty issues because of the high levels of ammonia. This can irritate their swim bladder (controls floating up and down in the water). Is there any sort of container that is at least five gallons that you could put Dorothy in until she has righted herself? With an irritated swim bladder and floating around the wrong way, it is a pretty stressful experience, and being attacked by Velma can stress her out even more, or even harm her. Can you test your nitrAtes?

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