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Mr.Oranda

Floaty Goldfish Weird Behavior

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Got a weird one here guys... I recently got a few little goldfish a couple of weeks ago. (I posted photos of the little guys in the photo thread!) All the fish are doing well except my little calico lion head. He's doing this odd thing. He will swim around and feed with the other guys fine for a while but most of the day he goes up gulps air and becomes too filled with air to do anything but float at the top of the tank. My tank parameters are perfect: Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: Less than 5 PH: 8.2  the temperature stays between 72-75. I have plenty of filtration 180 gallons worth for a 65 gallon, the tank isn't over stocked there are 3 other small goldfish in it. He exhibits no outer symptoms such as red streaks, torn fins, white dots, anything, no fungus. Poop looks normal. He doesn't even look bloated when this happens. But it is the strangest thing, he will swim around go up to the top gulp air swim down immediately swim back to the surface and gulp air again, and I know he's taking a lot in because as he goes down I'll see him release bubbles and quite large ones at that. The tank is a little taller than most but I've raised plenty of fancy goldfish in it no problems, and like I said the others are doing fine. He will do this little activity until he can't swim anymore and floats in the top corner. I've fasted him for two days and he seemed to do better but as soon as I fed him the second feeding after the fast (later in the evening I typically feed twice a day), boom it happens again, he starts gulping air again. It's very odd behavior its not like a goldfish that is oxygen deprived or in a tank full of ammonia. It has me very perplexed. Sorry for the long post but I thought I would see if anyone here had any ideas as to why he's doing this because I certainly don't! Thanks!! P.S. I've added a bubble wand to get more water circulation though it was fine before on the off chance he's not getting enough oxygen. 

Edited by Mr.Oranda

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Please copy & paste the following form and fill it out to the best of your ability when requesting help for Goldfish Problems.  If copy and paste doesn't work, quote this post and answer the questions on the form.

  • Test Results for the Following:
    • * Ammonia Level(Tank) 0
    • * Nitrite Level(Tank)0
    • * Nitrate level(Tank)<5
    • * Ammonia Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrite Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrate level(Tap)
    • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 8.2
    • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
    • Other Required Info:
      • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?
      • * Water temperature? 72-75
      • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 65 gallon
      • * 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? 4
  • * 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? no
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? Gulping at surface until he floats.

 

 

 

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  • Test Results for the Following:
    • * Ammonia Level(Tank) 0
    • * Nitrite Level(Tank)0
    • * Nitrate level(Tank)<5
    • * Ammonia Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrite Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrate level(Tap)
    • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 8.2
    • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 7.8
    • Other Required Info:
      • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API Master Test Kit Drops
      • * Water temperature? 72-75
      • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running65 gallon, 2 years
      • What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)Aqua clear 110, and 70
      • * How often do you change the water and how much? Once a week 80-90 percent 
  • How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? 2 days ago about 80 percent 
  • * How many fish in the tank and their size? 4
  • What kind of water additives or conditioners? Seachem Prime with water change
  • What do you feed your fish and how often? Variety of Hikari Lionhead, Omega One Sinking Pellets, and New Life Spectrum Goldfish Sinking Pellets. Twice daily, for 5 days, one day shelled peas, one day fast. 
  • * Any new fish added to the tank? Fish in discussion and three other new fish from same source.
  • Any medications added to the tank? No
  • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank.Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment. New fish, no medicine treatments in the two weeks I've had him. 
  • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? no
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? Gulping at surface until he floats.

 

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The fish is slurping the tasty, protein-rich film on the surface of the water and gets air with it.  This film originates from the fish food, so he does it after feeding.  

Gel foods and soft or wet treats create the most surface film, followed by soaked sinking pellets, then dry sinking pellets.  I've never heard of this problem with floating pellets.  A tall tank has a lower surface area to volume ratio, and thus collects a thicker film.

You can remove the surface film with a skimmer.  You can DIY or purchase one. Just make sure any skimmer you get specifies that it works in fresh water.

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4 minutes ago, shakaho said:

The fish is slurping the tasty, protein-rich film on the surface of the water and gets air with it.  This film originates from the fish food, so he does it after feeding.  

Gel foods and soft or wet treats create the most surface film, followed by soaked sinking pellets, then dry sinking pellets.  I've never heard of this problem with floating pellets.  A tall tank has a lower surface area to volume ratio, and thus collects a thicker film.

You can remove the surface film with a skimmer.  You can DIY or purchase one. Just make sure any skimmer you get specifies that it works in fresh water.

Thank you for the reply I would've never thought of that, I'm glad I asked. I have always noticed a film at the top at times under the lighting, and I've always wondered what the heck it was because I keep my water quality good. It's odd how he's figured this out and none of the other ones have. He doesn't seem like a particularly floaty fish he's a strong swimmer and like I said I see no problems until he goes to the top and gulps air. Thank you for the suggestion I will see what I can do and post back my results. 

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Update: I fed my fish an hour ago and it looks like the Lionhead is doing it to himself again today... After eating a small meal with the others he was swimming around perfectly fine, going up to the top to gulp a little air not lingering there. But as the hour has gone on he has gradually gone up to the surface more and more to take small gulps. He will take a gulp go down a little bit then quickly turn back around and gulp again. He isn't floating at the moment but I can tell he is getting floaty and having a harder time swimming then the first 20-30 minutes after he ate. I added an air stone to already sufficient water agitation to discourage a surface film buildup. There is no film on top of the water or anything, I haven't had any sort of protein build up in a long time, and when I feed the food is gone within 2 minutes. This is very frustrating watching him do this to himself, all the other fish are swimming around perfectly fine and he keeps going to the surface. I don't think it's a chronic Swim Bladder disease, his floatiness isn't constant, and clears up within hours at night when he sleeps. I have hope for him because when I wake up and turn the lights on he's fine, it occurs as the day goes and he does it to himself. I have no answers for this fish. :( Is this just a personality quirk?

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Chris here...  my favorite Ranchu (Mr. Potato Head) does the same thing...  Yes it is very frustrating...  I even made a skimmer as Shakaho suggested, to no avail...  He also loves to go over the airstone to play and eat the bubbles...  I have faught the battle for over a year and the wacko still does it...  What I have done is put a glass container into the tank.  When he gets tired of fighting the floatys, I would direct him inside so he can rest and easily keep his little back for to much exposure to the air.  He will now go in on his own...  I wish you the best of luck in trying to change this goofy behavior... ;) 

IMG_2668.JPG

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Get a shallow container for him.  Something like this.  Feed him duckweed and floating pellets put in the tank one at a time to get the least possible leaching or nutrients into the water.

Two minutes is way to long to have food in the tank.  Healthy, hungry goldfish will gulp down all the pellets they can swallow at one time within 30 seconds.

Please read this.

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6 hours ago, Chris1251 said:

Chris here...  my favorite Ranchu (Mr. Potato Head) does the same thing...  Yes it is very frustrating...  I even made a skimmer as Shakaho suggested, to no avail...  He also loves to go over the airstone to play and eat the bubbles...  I have faught the battle for over a year and the wacko still does it...  What I have done is put a glass container into the tank.  When he gets tired of fighting the floatys, I would direct him inside so he can rest and easily keep his little back for to much exposure to the air.  He will now go in on his own...  I wish you the best of luck in trying to change this goofy behavior... ;) 

IMG_2668.JPG

That is a great idea, I might have to do something like that for my fish, if he's not going to change his ways at least I can help haha. Goldfish have crazy personalities like people sometimes so it shouldn't be a surprise some of them are a little ocd. :D

3 hours ago, shakaho said:

Get a shallow container for him.  Something like this.  Feed him duckweed and floating pellets put in the tank one at a time to get the least possible leaching or nutrients into the water.

Two minutes is way to long to have food in the tank.  Healthy, hungry goldfish will gulp down all the pellets they can swallow at one time within 30 seconds.

Please read this.

 

I will isolate him in a storage container and try the floating pellets then. I'll see if I can get a hold of some duckweed. I didn't type out well exactly what I meant when it comes to feeding time. What happens is they pick up all the food within in 30 seconds like you said, work on it for a minute and within two minutes they are scavenging again. I meant to say the whole process takes about 2 minutes. But thank you again for the advice I will try some duckweed, I've read a ton about its benefits but never tried it due to the messiness of it. 

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Duckweed in the shallow tub will not get messy.  In a filtered tank, you can either put the duckweed in a "feeding station" or put the feeding station around the filter outflow to keep the duckweed out of the filter.

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I have a ranchu and pearlscale that does the same thing. Only feed sinking foods, but they continue to insist on gulping from the surface.
I've been feeding gel food with only peas in it for the last couple of months as their last meal of the day, which helps (loads of poos with bubbles in them every morning), but the floatiness is an almost daily thing.

Very frustrating indeed.

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FINALLY!!!! People who have the same issue I have. Callie does the same exact thing. I got so tired of people suggesting this and that like I was doing the wrong things and I have tried everything short of tying a string on her to keep her underwater!  Water changes, sinking pellets, peas. Even bought a more shallow tank for her. She loved hanging out in the plastic cave decoration but I worried about the quality of the water inside the cave being bad and she had got too big to be safe with her long tail frills. So she now positions herself under a length of tubing for the bubble wand when she wants a rest and I added 2 live plants that she can wedge between.

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My Ranchu and Pearlscale have stopped doing it. They still go to the surface and slurp for a bit, but not nearly as much as before.

Not sure what changed, as I've not added or removed anything from the tank. They both sift through the gravel more than before, so maybe they've decided that there's more food to be found under the water than at the surface.

Hope your fish recovers at some point too.

 

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I will repeat what I said before.  The things that create a thick film on the surface of the water are -- in declining order:  gel food, peas, soaked sinking pellets, uneaten food that hides in the substrate, unsoaked sinking pellets, feeding more than one mouthful of food.  Substrate with spaces for food and waste to sink into like gravel and (much worse) stones, also add to the film.  I have some babies in a tank to which I added two fairly large algae-covered stones to provide them with something to nibble on.  Every time I remove these to vacuum the bottom a cloud of waste floats up. 

The simplest solution to the problem is to skim the film from the surface of water, and feed floating pellets -- no more than the fish can consume in 30 seconds.  You can also feed all the duckweed they want.  It loses no nutrients into the water, and speeds food through the gut, but pellets should make up about half of their diet .  The floating pellet has only a small contact with the water.  If the fish consume them quickly, virtually no nutrients dissolve into the water to produce a film.  Most people feed floating pellets to their pond goldfish, and fancy goldfish living in ponds rarely get floaty. 

I know you have been told over and over that feeding sinking pellets prevents floatiness, but I have never found a bit of evidence to support that, and I have searched long and hard.  

Edited by shakaho

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3 hours ago, shakaho said:

I will repeat what I said before.  The things that create a thick film on the surface of the water are -- in declining order:  gel food, peas, soaked sinking pellets, uneaten food that hides in the substrate, unsoaked sinking pellets, feeding more than one mouthful of food.  Substrate with spaces for food and waste to sink into like gravel and (much worse) stones, also add to the film.  I have some babies in a tank to which I added two fairly large algae-covered stones to provide them with something to nibble on.  Every time I remove these to vacuum the bottom a cloud of waste floats up. 

TO the OP: you could either build a skimmer or you could do what I do and runn a bubbler for a day before a water change. This moves it all around and then when you do a water change you can get most of it out :) 

3 hours ago, shakaho said:

The simplest solution to the problem is to skim the film from the surface of water, and feed floating pellets -- no more than the fish can consume in 30 seconds.  You can also feed all the duckweed they want.  It loses no nutrients into the water, and speeds food through the gut, but pellets should make up about half of their diet .  The floating pellet has only a small contact with the water.  If the fish consume them quickly, virtually no nutrients dissolve into the water to produce a film.  Most people feed floating pellets to their pond goldfish, and fancy goldfish living in ponds rarely get floaty. 

I know you have been told over and over that feeding sinking pellets prevents floatiness, but I have never found a bit of evidence to support that, and I have searched long and hard.  

I feed Duckweed every other day to my fish since Sharon has mentioned this. I also feed them either worms or pellets once a day. I truly believe that Duckweed it a major part of a goldfish's diet :) 

We used to think years ago that floating pellets made them float. But after years of posting (members ) and research we have found this isn't true. :) 

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Good point, Koko, about using the bubbler to disrupt the film.  In ponds one usually has a flow of water across the top that does this.  

"Floating pellets make fish float" sounds reasonable, so it gets repeated all over the internet.  If people read something often enough, they believe it.  Unfortunately, some companies have stopped making floating goldfish pellets because people think they will harm their fish and won't buy them.

There are exceptions.  Hikari has floating pellets that they recommend for the highest quality fancy goldfish.

http://www.hikari.info/gold/g_04.html

http://www.hikari.info/gold/g_11.html

I use Blackwater Max Growth koi pellets in small and medium sizes.  Unfortunately, you can't buy these in smaller quantities than 2 pounds, but they are way cheaper than goldfish food.

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2 hours ago, shakaho said:

Good point, Koko, about using the bubbler to disrupt the film.  In ponds one usually has a flow of water across the top that does this.  

Thanks. This is how I been doing it since I got these two fish. I had noticed one day a film building up on the top. So I just turned the filter full blast and the bubbler. then did a water change the next day and it went away. They even stopped trying to gulp the surface :) 

2 hours ago, shakaho said:

"Floating pellets make fish float" sounds reasonable, so it gets repeated all over the internet.  If people read something often enough, they believe it.  Unfortunately, some companies have stopped making floating goldfish pellets because people think they will harm their fish and won't buy them.

This is what we believed cause we didn't know much about how they digested food. We thought they had a stomach like other fish. Not so. :) They really can't get floaty with fish good as they digest it to fast. (imo) but I think we all missed the boat when it came to how important duckweed or any kind of green foods are for goldfish. :)

 

2 hours ago, shakaho said:

There are exceptions.  Hikari has floating pellets that they recommend for the highest quality fancy goldfish.

http://www.hikari.info/gold/g_04.html

http://www.hikari.info/gold/g_11.html

I use Blackwater Max Growth koi pellets in small and medium sizes.  Unfortunately, you can't buy these in smaller quantities than 2 pounds, but they are way cheaper than goldfish food.

Kinda like KoiClay :lol 

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Thanks for the tips everyone, unfortunately, I lost the fish. :( I believe there was an internal bacterial infection going on. But I have learned a lot since then about treating it. I now also run a large airstone under the gravel pretty much all day and I turn it off at night. The airstone adds just enough surface agitation to keep film from building up on the surface. The fish seem to like it as well, they swim in and out of the bubbles. :D Just when you think you know enough about fish there's always more to learn!  

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IM so sorry for your loss.

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