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Swim bladder problems, tests show high NO3 but low NO2, need advice.

Discussion in 'Freshwater Illness and Disease' started by ezziecat, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. ezziecat

    ezziecat AC Members

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    Hello all.

    This is only my second post so bear that in mind please :)

    I have a fish with swim bladder problems. He's a smallish fantail (I think - he only has one tailfin rather than the double fan, but the rest of him matches a fantail) and for the last three days has been alternating between being fine and struggling to stay off the bottom of the tank.

    I just checked the water. I only have a simple test kit using color-changing swatches, so it doesn't give precise readings but:

    NO3 - between 50 and 100 mg/l (on the threshold of the 'water change' zone of the kit)
    NO2 - 0 mg/l (safe zone)
    General Hardness: 8*d-16*d (safe zone)
    KH: 3*d-6*d (safe zone)
    pH: 6.4
    Cl: 0, possibly somewhere between there and 0.8, it was hard to tell. It may be a little high as I used up all of my aquasafe during the last water change and had to be a little sparse.

    Their last water change was on Sunday, for about 10-20%. I change the water each Sunday by vacuuming the gravel and messing it up to get all the dirt up, using a simple pipe siphon.

    My question is: what can cause high NO3 (I think that's Nitrates?) but low NO2 (nitrites?). I was under the impression that usually when one is high, the other is too; apologies, I read up on this a while ago but I've gotten rusty again, so I can't remember how the nitrate system works.

    How do I go about treating it? I read I should try and put more plants in and do more water changes (currently weekly) until then? They currently only have one live plant as they picked at the rest until the stems broke and they floated up to the top of the tank, separate from their roots. I live in the UK, so proper fish medicine and treatments are hard to come by.

    If you're of the opinion that it's not the nitrates that's causing my fish (Brian)'s swim bladder issues, what else could it be/should I do? They have been starved for a day to see if it's constipation but my head is telling me that since he keeps oscillating from fine to sunken, it's something other than constipation - is this illogical?

    Thanks, Erika.
     
  2. Khemul

    Khemul Sea Bunny

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    Ideally you want 0 nitrites. Ammonia converts to nitrite. Nitrite converts to nitrate. Nitrate is removed by water changes or plants. Having high nitrate and no nitrite is caused by having a full cycle going in the tank.

    High nitrites will often cause a high nitrate reading on test kits (since nitrate test kits check for both).
     
  3. ezziecat

    ezziecat AC Members

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    Thanks for the catchup, that's great. So is it what I said, I need more plants and water changes? More plants is tough with my little gobblers - 4 fantails!
     
  4. fermentedhiker

    fermentedhiker AC Members

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    What size is your tank? Goldfish are notoriously dirty and require larger volume water changes when compared to most other fish their size. Whether or not that's related to your fantail's issue is another matter.
     
  5. Jannika

    Jannika MTS Survivor

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    +1

    To reduce nitrates just change more water, say 50%. They can also accumulate in your filter if it hasn't been cleaned for a while. Hard to say if that's what's ailing your fish, but they are pretty high.

    From what I've read goldfish are notorious for having constipation and swim bladder problems due to a somewhat deformed body. Epsom salts @ 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons are a mild laxative and muscle relaxant. Might be worth a shot.
     
  6. ezziecat

    ezziecat AC Members

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    Unfortunately they are in an undersized tank (3 foot I think, from memory) but they've shown no behavioural issues and the parameters have been okay before. I will be upgrading the tank when I can but as yet it hasn't been possible as I'm unemployed so I wont have the money for a while :( I only found out about appropriate tank sizes when it was too late, like most eager newbies.
    Yes I've read that about fancy goldfish too. Brian (the fish in trouble) hasn't shown such a persistant problem before - they've all had constipation-induced swim problems from time to time that clear up when they poop, but this seems different. I will do extra water changes and see how they affect things.
     
  7. ezziecat

    ezziecat AC Members

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    Hey guys just an update. I did a 50% change today, and the nitrates didn't come down that much. The test was either 25 or 50 mg/l. I decided to test my tap water and it was around 25 too. I guess I'm going to have to get more plants if my water is starting out with nitrates that high. Off to ebay I go!
     

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