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mary

Can Temperature shock kill fish?

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A week or two ago, before the storm, I was going to put up a happy post about my new little baby. Now I think he or she is dying. Some quick answers

Pip is a baby calico fantail or Ryukin, about an inch long. S/he is alone in a ten gallon - small, I know, but so is s/he. The filter is a Tom's mini canister, plus one of Dr. Tepper's pond'toons planted with a coleus. I have had her (or him) about two months, and the tank cycled two weeks ago. She was a little floaty, but lively and eating well. I was feeding spirulina flakes and, noticing the floatiness, had tried her on peas once or twice.

Then we had the snowstorm, and we lost power for two days. The tank got very cold, and Pip lurked at the bottom. My sister, who came in to check on her (him) when I was up with our parents, gave her a flake, which she swam up to eat. I asked my sister to unplug the filter so it wouldn't come on when I wasn't there.

When the power came back, I took the filter apart, rinsed it, and reassembled it. Then I started it up again. I did feed the fish another flake, which I probably shouldn't have done.

The next day, seeing that she was quite floaty, I gave her 1/4 of a pea, which she ate.

A day later, she was bottom-sitting with her dorsal clamped. (that was last night)

Parameters: ammonia 0; nitrites 0; nitrates 5; ph 76. API drops. Temp has now gone up to 70 degrees F; it was below 60 - perhaps as low as 55 - during and immediately after the snowstorm.

I am going to do her standard water change this evening; the last change was, I think, about a week ago. I change 15 to 20 percent of the water every week, and did this two or three times a week for the first month.

I also added about a teaspoon of salt to her water.

And I am fasting her now - gave her no breakfast, though the poor little thing tried to swim up when she saw me. I intend to buy a brine shrimp hatchery at the petstore tonight and feed her brine shrimp and peas if she survives the weekend.

She has no split fins and no spots that I can see, but her deportment is just awful. It makes me sad to see her so unhappy. And I'm not sure she'll survive.

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I'm so sorry about Pip. I live in dread of power outages :(

I think one of the issues may be that as the temperature plunges down below 60, it's not a good idea to feed her, because by then her metabolism has slowed down considerably. She will still eat of course, but the food may end up stuck in her digestive tract. Have you noticed her pooping at all? Could you slowly raise the temp to 78-80 over the course of a day? I am hoping that this will increase her metabolism and also if there are any bacterial infections, the temp increase will kill the bugs.

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I do have an old heater and can try to raise the temp fairly slowly - or can buy a smaller heater that fits the tank and do likewise. Thank you for that suggestion! I'll let you know what happens.

The power failures aren't quite as bad in the summer, if you can provide air, but this was awful. It's no wonder the poor little thing is in shock.

Weirdly, the betta came through with flying colors, but I was able to put him and his whole bowl inside a styrofoam box, so he never got that cold. The towels over the tank didn't do much.

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An abrupt change of temperature can definitely kill a goldie, but your tank most likely cooled very gradually after the power went out. Goldfish can often tolerate very low temperatures (tolerate, not necessarily thrive -- although single-tailed goldfish often winter in outdoor ponds and do just fine). Alex's point about the digestive system shutting down in the cold is a good one. She might just be all bound up.

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Generally, it's fine to feed fish down to 55 F. I have observed that my comets and shubunkins lose interest in eating when the water temperature approaches that level, but are up and looking for food as soon as the water warms. My fancies who are outside are just as eager to eat when the temperature is below 60 F as they are at 70. So if the other guys aren't eating, I don't feed the fancies either.

I'd be inclined to feed her only peas until she's pooping major green. If she's not feeling better then, I would guess that whatever is ailing her is something other than chilly water/digestive problems.

Since it's possible that she is suffering stress from temperature change, I wouldn't use a heater. It seems to me that would cause further stress, but I certainly don't know that is true.

I notice that you are doing very small water changes. With a 10 gallon tank, I would do 50% twice a week. Inadequate water changes are much more likely to be causing Pip's problems than cool water.

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Um - okay. Now I'm really confused. Ranchudressing, I'm afraid the temperature change was much more rapid than it would have been in a pond, for example. It's a fairly small tank and the apartment got really cold. I also think the temperature change - or something - exacerbated a problem that was already there. Pip had been a bit floaty and had a tendency to go to the surface and gulp air/blow bubbles. I don't really think this was due to lack of oxygen in the water - again, he/she is a very small fish alone in a tank that's being filtered by a canister and a live plant. There was quite a lot of water movement. I'm afraid Pip got stressed, initially, during the cycle. Then this extra stress just pushed him further down. I tried to be really careful during the cycle and tested every other, or at most every third day, and did water changes on those days as well. But he got floaty after that. I've read that Ryukins are extremely sensitive to nitrite and that it can deform their swim bladders. Is that true?

And, Shakaho, if the water were that dirty, wouldn't the nitrates be high? They have never been above 5 ppm since the tank cycled a couple of weeks ago.

He (or she) was swimming a bit more tonight when I changed the water, but he still doesn't look very good. I now have the tank temp about 2 degrees higher, to 76, which is a pretty good temp for fancies. I tried feeding a little more pea, but s/he ate only a bit of it. I'll try another pea tomorrow. Should I also use epsom salt, do you think? I do have some.

I'm sorry if this seems scattered. It's late and I'm tired and worried. I do appreciate the help.

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Mary, would you mind answering the questions below? It will help us get the big picture faster :)


    Test Results for the Following:
  • * Ammonia Level
  • * Nitrite Level
  • * Nitrate level
  • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
  • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
    Other Required Info:
  • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?
  • * Water temperature?
  • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?
  • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?
  • * How often do you change the water and how much?

  • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?
  • * How many fish in the tank and their size?
  • * What kind of water additives or conditioners?
  • * What do you feed your fish and how often?
  • * Any new fish added to the tank?
  • * Any medications added to the tank?
  • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.
  • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.?

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Um- sure. But I thought I had already answered almost all of them? The ones I didn't:

Tap ph is 7. It's always higher in the tank.

It's a Tom's mini canister, stated to pump 80 gph. I know you guys will tell me that is too little; my vet would say it's too much. I've always used bio wheels before, and have never had the current I've had in this tank.

I use prime as a conditioner.

Pip's diet hasn't been great; I've been feeding Tetra spirulina flakes I got at the pet store. Switched to green peas a couple of days ago, and also bought brine shrimp, which I have in the freezer for him. I gave a flake or two, presoaked, twice a day. Now it's 1/4 pea. He's too small to eat a whole pea, or to handle pro-gold.

I did raise the tank temp up to 80, which is too high, and I'm now trying to lower it slowly. I never medicated except twice with a little salt - less than a teaspoon per 10 gallons.

Right now he's still on the bottom and still gasping a bit. His gills look a little pale to me. But his dorsal isn't clamped any more.

I'm wondering if I should take the plant out and treat for flukes? Whatever I do, I don't want to stress him further.

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It's looking worse now. S/he's on his/her side, struggling to get upright, especially when she sees me. It's so sad! I want to help, and don't know how.

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I'm sorry. I sounds like she is really weak now, and the best thing that you can do now is just to make her as comfortable as possible. I wouldn't not attempt to change/add things at this point, because too much changes could shock her and make things worse. :(

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Should I try a water change if she's still hanging in? Or would that shock her further?

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S/he's sitting upright now! Dorsal up. She (or he) is obviously still weak, but this looks hopeful. Keeping my fingers crossed- still fasting him tonight, but will try a bit of pea tomorrow.

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Good luck. Let us know how she does, please.

For now, when you do water changes, do only 10-20% (small) WCs, being very careful to pH and temp match the water so that there is absolutely not shock to her. :)

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Just wanted to stop by and say good luck with Pip. :heart

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Thank you, everyone. Pip is dead - I think he was very close to death last night, and died sometime during the night. I am sad, but also relieved, in a way, that s/he's not suffering any more. It was awful to watch him struggle and be unable to help. :cry

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I'm so sorry. RIP Pip :(

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Awe Mary I'm so sorry for your loss. It sucks not being able to really hold their fin or tell them a sweet story as they pass. Storms kill many and at least Pip had someone loving him, not many animals have that. :bye2:

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Awww Im so very sorry !!!!.... I hate storms... not only do i fear for my kids & i... But all my pets !!!! Very Sorry !!!!Again :k055:

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