Sudden Loss of Control

wesb2013

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Mar 5, 2019
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Have you tested your water?
No
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
What percentage of water do you change?
21-30%
How frequently do you change your water?
Every week
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.
I noticed some strange, concerning behavior in my bluegill today.

After returning from vacation I was doing a quick check on my 40 gallon tank with just the one fish in it. He looked happy, excited, and in great health. Plus, he ate as much as he ever had when I fed him.

Later this evening I was repairing an old pump, plugged it in to see if it was working, then 10 seconds later - OUT OF NOWHERE - my bluegill started swimming erratically at full speed. It was like he was having a nervous breakdown.

He was up, down, left, and right, twitching almost nonstop and, eventually, he either ran out of energy or lost the ability move. He couldn't really control his general direction, nor keep upright.

Now he is laying on his side on the bottom of his tank. The gills are still moving but he otherwise won't swim. I put on some stress coat reliever and a salt treatment to help, but I just hope he is able to survive.

What could of happened to cause this behavior? Maybe he ran into something and injured himself? Could I have electrocuted him? Is this just some kind of nerve damage he's experiencing? Any help is


My tank has always been high in nitrates despite doing vtwice weekly water changes.
 

Chinnavar

Exodon
MFK Member
Jan 9, 2018
67
40
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The Netherlands
You could always put the pump in another tank or bucket and test if it leaks electricity. I think the probability of you shocking your bluegill is rather high.

About the nitrates, you say your tank always had a high amount ofnitrates, but how high exactly? You could try to do 1 wc each week and increase it to 60-70%, this should be more effective than 2 smaller ones.
 
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kno4te

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Check your water with a test kit. Sounds like it got shocked.
 
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wesb2013

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Mar 5, 2019
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I tested my water.
PH is 8.1.
Ammonia <.25 ppm
Nitrite <.25 ppm
Nitrate ≈ somewhere between 40 and 80 ppm

My initial thought was swim bladder disease, but Im doubting he's sick because he hasn't shown any symptoms other than last night. It was all sudden which makes me think it may be an injury. My hands were in the water at the same time he started freaking out and I did not feel any sort of shock. This one has me stumped.
 

Chinnavar

Exodon
MFK Member
Jan 9, 2018
67
40
26
The Netherlands
I tested my water.
PH is 8.1.
Ammonia <.25 ppm
Nitrite <.25 ppm
Nitrate ≈ somewhere between 40 and 80 ppm

My initial thought was swim bladder disease, but Im doubting he's sick because he hasn't shown any symptoms other than last night. It was all sudden which makes me think it may be an injury. My hands were in the water at the same time he started freaking out and I did not feel any sort of shock. This one has me stumped.
Did you properly cycle your aquarium? Because there isnt supposed to be any ammonia or nitrite in your water.

I had a couple of Otocinclus Affinis who all showed the exact same behaviour as your bluegill. This was when I first got into the hobby and didnt know anything about cycling a tank. It could be crazy coincidence that he started doing it when you plugged in your pump.
 

jjohnwm

Dovii
MFK Member
Mar 29, 2019
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So, while "fixing" your pump, you tested it by putting your hands into the water with it? In future, don't do this, please, it isn't a good life choice. And...nice repair job! If you decide to go into the trades, stay away from the door marked "Electricians".

Although your nitrates are high...insanely high, actually...I don't think that explains this. The other readings are troubling as well, but poor water doesn't seem like a likely source for this sudden behaviour.
 
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skjl47

Potamotrygon
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May 16, 2011
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My hands were in the water at the same time he started freaking out and I did not feel any sort of shock.
Hello; Could your hands have had some sort of chemical on them? I also repair equipment or at least try to. Is it possible you had something on the hands.

That said, I go for the shock theory. I ran tanks back when tanks had metal frames, the hoods were metal (stainless steel) and houses did not always have safety ground built into the wiring. I got zapped a number of times. Learned to wear rubber sole shoes and be careful. I was lucky.

Two ideas come to mind. One is you had a sudden current spike as the pump shorted out but it was over quickly. The fish was zapped and maybe by the time you stuck hands into the water the current was gone. The other is you were not grounded.

Back in my graduate school days in a class we did the shocking with a car battery and some probes. Not the same as house current and we wore rubber hip waders. The fish would be stunned and i guess recovered. Worst that usually happened to us was when someone dropped a crawdad into the rubber hip waders.
 
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Magnus_Bane

Giant Snakehead
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Jan 26, 2020
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I tested my water.
PH is 8.1.
Ammonia <.25 ppm
Nitrite <.25 ppm
Nitrate ≈ somewhere between 40 and 80 ppm

My initial thought was swim bladder disease, but Im doubting he's sick because he hasn't shown any symptoms other than last night. It was all sudden which makes me think it may be an injury. My hands were in the water at the same time he started freaking out and I did not feel any sort of shock. This one has me stumped.
One thing that I noticed when having electricity in the water is that you generally don't feel the shock from it untill ya barely break the waters surface. I had an old pond filter I kept trying to fix that kept putting out electricity into the water, eventually gave up on fixing it after the 7th time. But yeah anytime I would touch the surface of the water I would get a small shock but once my hands were bellow the surface I didn't feel any shock at all.

As for the bluegill I would chalk it up to either it being shocked in the water or it got spooked and gave itself a head injury.
 

wesb2013

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Mar 5, 2019
6
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"Did you properly cycle your aquarium? Because there isn't supposed to be any ammonia or nitrite in your water."
The tank has been set up for over 6 months. Prior to that, I used the same media (and even transported the same water) from the old tank.

My LFS told me he probably got spooked and injured himself after running into something. The king of DIY on youtube had something similar happen to his silver arowana and acted the same. Hopefully, my results will be different than his. Either way, he's still alive and able to move his front fins. Hopefully, his swim bladder will recover and he'll be able to sit upright and swim around again. I'll post updates.
 

wesb2013

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Mar 5, 2019
6
3
8
26
Update: he's still kicking but hasn't eaten in a couple of days. Do, i pulled him out of his hiding spot and tried feeding him. Instead of eating, a bunch of yellow stuff came flying out of his mouth (and a little bit of black stuff too). What would this indicate?
 
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