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Breathing Fast, Bottom Sitting


Guest kamoji

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I have 2 new baby orandas, which I got about 3 weeks ago, so the tank is still starting its cycle. After a small bout of ich, I salted to 0.3% (still currently at 0.3%), which cleared the ich up fast. I thought things were okay, until...

Now, one of the fish is sitting on the bottom, essentially inactive, having difficulty swimming (erratically and slowly) when swimming at all. Scariest and most important of all, his/her breathing is really hard- gills are pumping very rapidly (about 1.5 times per sec) and he/she is making big gulps that really look like coughing in a cough attack. The other fish seems just fine, though, and has no problems (cross fingers!). I'm just hoping the sick fish can last another day.

-20 gallon tank

-filter: 100 gallons/hour

-water changes: 30-40% every few days, with gravel vacuums

-ammonia from tap: 0.5 ppm

-ammonia in tank: just got it down to zero yesterday, after being at 0.25-0.5 for a while (meaning the bacteria are working!)

-pH from tap: 8.5

-pH in tank: 7.3

-nitrites/nitrates: no test kit yet

-have been adding a conditioner to remove heavy metals and chlorine

-just started adding AmQuel Plus to detoxify ammonia, chloramines, nitrites, nitrates (without impact on bacteria cycling)

-added Stress Zyme once to help with bacterial cycling

-0.3% salt

I'm thinking there might be a nitrite problem (since ammonia levels are back down now). I also read that high nitrite can affect one fish much more than others, explaining the difference between the fish. But what about bacterial infections? If it was bacterial, why is the other fish doing fine?

I'm not sure what to do, because i'm not sure what the problem is. Nitrite or bacteria? Something else (fungus, parasite- though i'm at 0.3% salt)? I also noticed long, thin, white poop (food has been coloured flakes). The only other thing i've seen is some minimal redness in the tail of the sick fish. Maybe from lack of oxygen due to nitrites? Nitrite-caused oxygen defficiency might also explain the heavy breathing and lack of activity. Any ideas about what is happening? If so, what should i do?

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  • Regular Member

I'm leaning towards nitrIte poisoning which can show all the symptoms you describe or further parasites/protozoan. It's not unusual for ich to have company.

I suggest take the sick fish out of the cycling tank and keep it in a container no smaller than 5g, preferrably 10g. You can use rubber maid tubs or plastic storage containers. I would keep the salt at .3% and change 100% of the water daily. If the fish shows no sign of improvement in 48hrs I would reduce the salt level to .1% and start a parasite medication such as Quick Cure or Jungle Parasite Clear.

With only one fish in the 20g the cycling load will be reduced but I would do 25% daily water changes to keep the ammonia/nitrIte at safe levels. Testing kits would be very handy because then you are no longer guessing.

If your other fish shows signs of illness, also treat it in the container. It would be wise to strip down your tank, rinse it throughly including the gravel. Discard your filter material and start from scratch again.

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Hi Kamoji,

Welcome to koko's. :)

Two things to check. Have a good look at his gills. If they are brown then it is nitrIte poisoning or brown blood disease. On the other hand, it can still be ammonia poisoning as they have gone through a cycling tank and this is the after effects. In that case the gills might be bright red or purple.

White long stringy poops are usually a sign of internal bacteria infection. If you can get access to some medicated food then it might be a good idea to give them a course of 14 days.

As for why it affects one fish and not the other (yet), has everything to do with their general well being, stress level and immune system. It is just like us. If you live in a house with someone havine a cold, there is a chance that other people in the house will get it but not necessarily everyone and not all at the same time. If the other fish has stronger constitution, immune response or even just happier, it might fight off the pathogens and stay health for longer or won't become sick at all. :)

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Thanks a lot for your help!

Until I get a nitrite testing kit and other medicines (and a 10 gallon tank or container), all of which I plan on doing as soon as I can, I'm going to sit tight for now and not remove the sick fish just yet.

captk: when you talk about the colour of the gills, do you mean the inside or the outside? (I'm a little hesitant to lift up the gill cover and look inside!) Or could I just peak through the back? The outside of the gills appear fine. They're a tiny bit pale on the sick fish, but that's because he/she has gone paler in general, and the colour doesn't seem unusual at all. Peaking through thte back slit, it seems that the inside is red, but it is hard to tell.

I can't see any white strings of poop anymore, but that may or may not mean anything. So I'm not sure if it's bacterial or not. If so, should I get meds, or will that nuke the bacteria I'm trying to start up for the nitrogen cycling? Will medicated food do the trick, if that's the case?

I still feel like I don't know what's actually going on in the tank! It's just so hard to diagnose anything. Once I get a nitrite testing kit, I should be miles better.

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Guest asteriskadonis

A question:

If the goldfish has an internal bacterial infection (making its stool long, thin and white and causing lethargy), is this the same problem as whatever bacterial infection is causing the breathing problems? That is to say, does internal bacterial infection also cause breathing problems, or is internal bacterial infection and bacterial gill infection the same thing?

The reason this matters is that I am trying to figure out if a medicine such as maracyn 2 will treat internal bacterial infection (which might be MY problem), or if it would only treat an external bacterial infection.

I also am not clear on whether or not bacterial infection of the gills is considered to be internal or external.

Any thoughts? :huh:

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Hi Kamoji,

You need to look at the actual gills, not the gill plates on the outside. If you don't want to handle them then try your best to see through the gap as they breath. A strong torch might help.

If you add any water column antibiotics like Maracyn1 or 2 then it will have a negative impact on your filter. If you can get medicated food then it will be better as the antibiotics is worked into the food pellets so there is much less dissolved into the water. Remove uneaten pellets will help as well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Asteris, it is not as simple as whether the bugs are the same. Most of the bad bugs in a tank is anaerobic which means they don't feed on oxygen but there are many, many types.

It is usually a case of chicken or the eggs. A healthy fish fights off pathogens on a daily basis just like us not catching a cold constantly as our immune system is always switched on. However, if and when their immune system is reduced or a physical wound leaves an open door for the bugs to get in then you have a fight on your hands.

Usually, an internal bacterial infection will not impact on the gills. A bacterial gills infection might start at the gills but it can go systemic. Antibiotics like Maracyn 1 & 2 are water column treatments and they are most effective against external bacterial infections. One thing you have to remember is that fish hardly drink the water they swim in (you won't want to either ;) ) and only certain chemicals are transfered across the gills. So unless the fish eats the antibiotics or absorb ertain types like oxolinic acid, they are just swimming in antibiotics and nothing is getting inside where it counts. :)

Usually, bacterial gill disease is external in natural but it is very hard to treat because a) you won't know it is there until it is late in the illness and the damage is done, B) the fish might generate excess slime to try to protect itself but it has the negative effect of stopping the antibiotics from getting to the bacterias. :(

You usually need a combination of meds and pristine environment to try to sustain the fish while the fish's own immune system fights the invaders. Does that make sense? :)

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Thanks captk. I actually started using maracyn 2 before I saw your or asterisk's post! But I made sure when I read the specifications, which said explicitly that maracyn-2 does NOT affect the biological filter... unless they're not telling the truth. Should I not trust the manual? I also made sure to remove the activated carbon from the filter. I'm on the second day of treatment. Hopefully, if the problem is bacterial, as evidenced by the long white poop and the developing tail problems (redness, red veins), things will get a bit better for the sick fish.

About the red-ish gills. I can't really tell what colour they are, and I'm afraid of stressing out the fish! But they do appear to be red when I look from behind the fish inside the gill slit. But I'm not 100% sure.

The fish is still sitting on the bottom and "breathing" pretty heavily (ie rapid gill movements). And the redness in the tail is getting more pronounced. He/she swims fairly awkwardly and difficultly when trying to and seems a little uncoordinated. Will surface when the lid is opened, thinking there is food, but spends most of the time at the bottom.

My current levels:

ammonia: 0 ppm

nitrite: 0.25 ppm (I just got a kit today. Initially, it was 0.5 ppm. Then, I added one dose of AmQuel Plus (recommended amount for 20 gallon tank like mine) and an hour later, it was still at 0.25 ppm)

nitrate: no kit (didn't think it was necessary. am i wrong?)

temp: 75-76 degrees

pH: 7.2

salt is still at 0.3% or thereabouts.

Oh, and I also got a bubbler to aerate the tank (air pump connected to air stone), in case there's not enough oxygen and to help with the breathing. I should continue with the Maracyn-2 treatment now that I've started, right? And I'll continue lowering the nitrite with AmQuel Plus. Anything else I should be aware of?

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Hi kamoji,

Yes, continue with the M-2. Don't stop-start an antibiotics treatment. :)

You should get a nitrAte test kit. NitrAte is not as toxic as ammonia and nitrIte but prolong exposure to high levels can lead to chronic health problems. A bit like us and smog. ;)

Still try to get medicated food if you can. You can feed medicated food at the same time as the M-2 treatment.

Keep an eye on the ammonia level. The manufacturer can say whatever they like but if your filter gets nuked, you are the one who has to live with it.

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Guest asteriskadonis

Thanks for all of your help. The fish aren't doing any better after 3 days of the maracyn-2 treatment, and in fact, they've taken a small turn for the worse. The sick fish is not eating much (if at all), and just spends the day sitting at the bottom, breathing heavily, looking miserable. Any short swimming is done fairly uncoordinatedly. Before, he/she used to go to the surface during feeding, but not anymore, so I don't know how good medicated food will do. And the gills (of both fish now) look decidedly red on the inside. There is no swelling of gills, no red marks on the body, no visible parasites, etc. The sick fish does have a few red veins in the tail, though. Could it be a parasite? I'm kind of doubting that now...

Levels:

pH: 7.2

Ammonia: 0 ppm

Nitrite: 0 ppm

Nitrate: getting a kit tomorrow (though I doubt this is our problem)

Temp: 74-75 degrees

Additivies: AmQuel Plus to remove/detoxify ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, chlorine, chloramine

Medication: currently on third day of Maracyn-2 (out of 5 days)

0.3% salt- It's been at that level for about 10 days now

Could the problem be the salt? What if there was (hypthetically) too much salt? Would that harm the fish? Should I do a water change, without salt? I'm in the middle of the Maracyn-2 treatment, so a water change isn't the greatest idea, right?

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Hi asteris,

Umm, we are now talking about your sick fish. I'm afraid I don't have much background on them. Did you start a thread elsewhere on them? It might be better if I answer your question there.

But very quickly. M-2 or any water column based antibiotics is only to have limited impact on treating internal bacterial infection (as I mentioned before). If they are eating at all, then give them medicated food.

I can't comment on the parasite angle as I don't know the background. The three common parasites that can have definite impact on gills are ich, costia and fluke. There are others but they are variation of these. If you haven't introduced anything new to the tank then it probably is not parasites.

However, there is one area that might not have be covered. Toxic chemicals in the water. Ammonia poisoning can cause bright red gills and so can other chemicals and even cyanide. Has anyone use any spray or cleaners around the tank?

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Guest asteriskadonis

Sorry for the confusion captk, I meant to post this reply in a different place. I am still not very good at using this forum, I'm afraid! I do have a separate thread, here:

http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/...showtopic=36769

It hasn't been getting very much attention so far probably because it isn't in the emergency 911 sub-forum. That's why I have been spending so much time in kamoji's thread- because our problems are almost identical. Anyway, sorry again for the confusion!

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No, no need to apologise. :) It is just a bit more of a challenge when info and responses are spread between threads and you don't what has been said and done already. I think both Jen and Annette has given you solid advice. :)

What about the toxic substance theory? Is that a possibility?

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