Fahaka using one gill - seems distressed

Brondo

Feeder Fish
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Apr 18, 2018
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Have you tested your water?
Yes
If I did not test my water...
...I recognize that I will likely be asked to do a test, and that water tests are critical for solving freshwater health problems.
Do you do water changes?
Yes
If I do not change my water...
...I recognize that I will likely be recommended to do a water change, and water changes are critical for preventing future freshwater health problems.
Hi.

He is 4.5 years old 125g tank.
Ammonia-0
Nitrites-0
Nitrates-10-20 (its always hard to tell)
Ph 7.2
80F

I change 40% weekly.

Yesterday he seemed a bit moody. Stayed buried. No begging for food. Came out after lights out but I didn’t get a good look at him. Today the same. Not much swimming. Tried to eat, spat out. Noticed right gill tightly closed and fin tight to body whilst buried, top fin down. Swam up breathing hard doing some sort of coughing, ish both fins working but not that gil. Shut. After some flailing and coughing I saw it begin to work with some big breaths then close back up. He laid back down and buried himself. Breathing heavily. Definitely not feeling well.
Not eating and seems to be trying to get this gill to work? I just don’t know how to help here. But he is getting over a very recent bizarre illness I never found an answer for. Here or anywhere else. I even sedated and tube fed him a few times just to keep him from starving. He just got back to normal, eating on his own, swimming around begging for food 2 weeks ago. His health is fragile so I need to be on top of anything immediately.
 
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Deadeye

Goliath Tigerfish
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Do you have any pictures?
 

kno4te

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I’d suggest dosing some prazipro with repeat dosing if not done so already.
 

MultipleTankSyndrome

Giant Snakehead
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Sep 25, 2021
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That to me sounds like it could be chronic general health issues brought on by several years of too high NO3. 10-20 mg/l is toxic over the long term, it shouldn't be more than 5 mg/l and this is especially important for sensitive fish like pufferfish.

I would not expect this to go away quickly either, if it is chronic. Because chronic problems take time to appear, they also take time to go away.

If it were me, I'd increase the water replacement schedule to over 100 percent of the tank's volume a week to get the NO3 down to 5 or less. I do 55-90 percent 3x a week on my tanks, for example, and duanes duanes does 30-40 percent every other day.
 

duanes

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How big was the puffer when you 1st got it, how big is it now?
As stated above, I would triple (or at least double) the water change routine.
If you have been doing the same routine for 4 years, its past time you upped it.
As any fish grows the water change schedule should increase with growth.
And especially if you have increased the amount of greasy protein foods, like mollusks and the like.
Proteins in the water produce a concentrated soup, that impedes gas exchange, and creates chronic stress which leads to disease.
10-20ppm nitrate indicates this, and although some aquarists may accept that number as "OK", I think of it a an underlying factor for disease, and do enough water changes to keep numbers as close to zero as possible, similar to the natural water most fish come from.
 

Brondo

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Apr 18, 2018
8
2
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41
Bend OR
That to me sounds like it could be chronic general health issues brought on by several years of too high NO3. 10-20 mg/l is toxic over the long term, it shouldn't be more than 5 mg/l and this is especially important for sensitive fish like pufferfish.

I would not expect this to go away quickly either, if it is chronic. Because chronic problems take time to appear, they also take time to go away.

If it were me, I'd increase the water replacement schedule to over 100 percent of the tank's volume a week to get the NO3 down to 5 or less. I do 55-90 percent 3x a week on my tanks, for example, and duanes duanes does 30-40 percent every other day.
I have to disagree. 10-20mg is a perfectly acceptable level of nitrates in a planted tank. I do 40% water changes every weekend and have a humongous canister filter and 2 sponge filters.
100% water changes are almost never recommended.
 

Brondo

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Apr 18, 2018
8
2
8
41
Bend OR
How big was the puffer when you 1st got it, how big is it now?
As stated above, I would triple (or at least double) the water change routine.
If you have been doing the same routine for 4 years, its past time you upped it.
As any fish grows the water change schedule should increase with growth.
And especially if you have increased the amount of greasy protein foods, like mollusks and the like.
Proteins in the water produce a concentrated soup, that impedes gas exchange, and creates chronic stress which leads to disease.
10-20ppm nitrate indicates this, and although some aquarists may accept that number as "OK", I think of it a an underlying factor for disease, and do enough water changes to keep numbers as close to zero as possible, similar to the natural water most fish come from.
He was less than 1” and 16”+ now.
Im going to disagree that long term neglect is the diagnosis.
Ofcourse his routine has changed over the past 4 years. He has grown. I am of the opinion that his routine is good. Excess nitrates of 5ppm is not what is making him sick.

his diet if you must know consists strictly of snails and dubia roaches. No greasy messy clams and mussels. He is picky and they freak him out. He also wont eat any shrimp or fish pieces anymore, he shreds and spits them everywhere.
i gravel/sandvac with his waterchange every Saturday. He has a humongous canister filter and 2 sponge filters. It is a heavily planted tank. Hence the 10-20ppm nitrates. Which is normal for planted tanks. I also belong to a puffer forum and ask anyone there and they will say they same. I did take a sample to my lfs whos machine clocked it at 10ppm i just cant tell the diff in color really.

he was recently ill with a large lump in his mouth. Thought it was an injury but it may have been viral we are starting to think. He had a huge lump, then wouldnt eat for 6 weeks. I sedated and tube fed him to keep him from starving. It went down, he got better, back to his old self. 3 weeks later, he is sick again. We tried the trifecta antibiotic treatment for 14 days last time and this time with no effect. We think it is viral.

lately he hasnt been eating or pooping and with the 14 day med I had to do 30% waterchanges every other day.
It is done but since he is so ill I am going to do his WC twice a week to keep it extra clean.
I am comfortable in the knowledge that I did not do this to him by neglect.
 

jjohnwm

Redtail Catfish
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Mar 29, 2019
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I have to disagree. 10-20mg is a perfectly acceptable level of nitrates in a planted tank. I do 40% water changes every weekend and have a humongous canister filter and 2 sponge filters.
100% water changes are almost never recommended.
I'm as much a water-change fanatic as anybody, and more than most...and even I agree that 20ppm, while not ideal, isn't the kiss of death. But I just can't see how your nitrates are that low with a 16+ inch heavy-bodied high-protein-diet pig in a 125, if you are doing only 40% weekly changes. I would expect them to be much higher, and concurrently with those high nitrates you definitely have high levels of all the other compounds and substances that the metabolism of that fish produces.

Fine, you have plants; but the biomass of plant life in that tank can't be sufficient to offset the waste production of that monstrous fat puffer. You can have all the canisters and sponges that you like, but if they are being run in the typical fashion then they are merely assisting in the production of nitrate rather than its removal.

"100% water changes are almost never recommended"?? Maybe not, because few people are willing and able to do them, but they are frequently used by top breeders of sensitive fish like discus, rams and many others. If the water being used for the change is at the correct temperature and of the correct chemistry, there is absolutely no reason not to perform 100% changes if you do so frequently and regularly...and innumerable reasons why doing so is a good thing. I would not recommend a 100% change in a tank that has been neglected and allowed to accumulate extremely high levels of...well, anything, really...but a 100% change done weekly does not allow enough time for the water to become so polluted that there is any danger of a drastic shock to the fish. Incidentally, I am not referring to your situation; I don't think your water change schedule is ideal but it isn't so bad that I would hesitate to change all the water right now.

Filtration is nothing more than a substitute...sometimes a very poor substitute, sometimes a barely adequate one...for constant water changes.
 
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