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latinagirl56's avatar

Why are my fish still gasping for air?

Asked by latinagirl56 (109 points ) July 13th, 2012

So I have two fancy goldfish and one koi fish. I have had the koi fish and the fantail goldfish the longest, and the third fish is an oranda goldfish. So for a while my two fancy goldfish would go up to the tank and make bubbles. At first I thought it was cute until I did some research and found out that that means they are suffocating and need more oxygen in their tank. So I bought a air pump and thought that they would stop but, they haven’t. If anything I think they do it more now then they did before. Also before I installed the air pump into the tank I never had a algae problem and now I do. Algae is now growing in my tank and I need to know how to stop it growing and to prevent it from coming back. Another thing I should add is my oranda goldfish has swim bladder disease. I’m a little nervous because the previous oranda goldfish I had had the disease and he sadly passed away, and I don’t want the same thing to happen to this one. I read online that giving peas helps them, and acts kind of like a laxative for the fish. I was wondering is there anything else I could do to help my fish? And about the algae I have a 10 gallon tank with three fish and I was thinking about adding a algae eating fish to help keep the tank clean longer and to remove the algae. I know my tank is small and I should have a bigger tank but I don’t have the money to buy a bigger tank. I know that Petco has their dollar per gallon sale and I desperately need that so I can make my fish happy. Does anyone know when that sale is coming up? And should I buy the algae eating fish now, or wait until I get a bigger tank? And can someone please explain to me why my fish keep gasping for air, even though I have a air pump for the tank.

Sorry I started to ramble a little but I’m just a worried pet owner who is trying to keep their pets safe and healthy.

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10 Answers

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tedd's avatar

Algae eaters are the easiest way to handle that issue (specifically they’re called plecostomus’). They’re usually dirt cheap for the basic south american common breed. Keep in mind though, they will not stop growing when they’ve reached a max size for their tank. It may take a few years, but I’ve had them reach over a foot long.

The bigger issue is that adding another fish will only make the oxygen shortage worse in the tank. How big are the gold fish? The rule of thumb with all freshwater fish is that you want one gallon per every inch of fish. I know goldfish can tend to get quite large, it may simply be your tank isn’t big enough to accommodate them. The quickest fix to this problem (or the only “patchwork” fix) is the air pump like you’ve done. How do you have it set up? Is it hooked to an air stone? How big is the air stone? I would suggest getting one of the long flat ones (10+ inches long and flat, such as this link or this link . The more surface area the stone has, the more it will spread its additional oxygen around. I also would recommend getting a larger air pump than may be originally recommended for your tank, though at 10 gallons I think just about any pump will be built for a larger tank.

As far as the infection with the swim bladder. There are various medications you can get at pet stores, especially fish only pet stores. If you have something akin to aquarium adventure (aquariumadventure.com) I would go there. Their staff are usually very knowledgeable on fish diseases and what medication is most likely to help you. Be wary though, I am a seasoned fresh water fish owner and have had 15+ fish for years in a 75 gallon tank and, I’ve bred angelfish, and had 4 tanks at once even…. and I have had very mixed results using fish medications. You’ll almost certainly want to separate the infected fish into his own “medical-quarantine-tank” (I often used a bucket). Using this method allows you to use less medication (it’s dosed out per gallon), avoids him getting the other fish sick, and avoids the medication hurting other fish unintentionally. In my experience though, if something is wrong with the swim bladder, that fish doesn’t have very high chances of survival.

It’s worth mentioning, Goldfish are a very dirty fish. They produce a lot of ammonia, which is one of the biggest issues with freshwater aquariums (it can kill fish, spawn disease, makes your water cloudy, etc, etc). It very commonly increases when a tank is overfilled (I’ve even heard mention that gasping for air at the top of the tank is a symptom of heavy ammonia, though I personally suspect it’s just overcrowded tanks that have low oxygen, and also create heavy ammonia). To remedy this, try feeding them every other day, and sparingly. Goldfish are scavengers, so they’ll eat any food that’s fallen to the ground, even digging for it. They’ll eat some level of algae as well. It may be worth getting a filter insert that lowers ammonia (they’ll also be available at the store). Changing out 25–30% of the water on a weekly or bi-weekly basis will help a lot too.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

What’s the surface area of your tank?

latinagirl56's avatar

@tedd my fish aren’t that big, they’re about 2 or 3 inches long. I have a filter and the fliter is clean and brand new, and i have a air stone and a LED light with the air stone and thats 12 inches long. I will start feeding them less, and i know what you mean about them digging for food because i have watched my goldfish dig through the gravel in the tank. Also the peas worked i just looked at my tank and they are starting to poop, so hopefully my oranda will be better. i will probably give him some more peas later today.

tedd's avatar

@latinagirl56 I’ll have to look into this pea thing, I’ve never heard that for any kind of swim bladder infection. Let me know how it turns out.

snowberry's avatar

Removed by myself: My response was already mentioned by someone else. I just didn’t read.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes, give them peas, ASAP.

Next, what is the temperature of the water? It sounds to me as though you might be cooking them.

DigitalBlue's avatar

If you feed them peas, make sure to squeeze the pea guts out of the “shell.” I made the mistake once of giving my fantail a whole pea and he choked. (He was fine, luckily, he hacked it up), but frantically trying to imagine how to give a goldfish the Heimlich is not something you want to be thinking about when you try this.

ccrow's avatar

Re algae eaters: plecos do eat some algae, as do chinese algae eaters, but they are both tropicals and have different temperature needs from goldfish, so it’s probably not a good idea to add them. Plus the already mentioned fact that plecos are big. So are CAEs. I agree with @SpatzieLover, maybe they are hot.
There are algae control products out there; in my experience they work better for the free type algae(green water) than the types that attach to stuff. For those, you just have to scrub it off.

Buttonstc's avatar

It sounds like you have too many fish for the size of the tank. Consider getting a larger one.

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