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Old 02-18-2004, 10:28 PM   #1
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Panther Grouper laying on his side for 2 days

I have a 55gal with 3 fish, they are about 1 1/2 yrs old. Volitan Lion Fish, Dogface Puffer and Panther Grouper. We got the tank (bought from someone about a month ago, bought the water/rock/substrate/filters etc so I don't think that caused any problems) and the fish have been doing well. The grouper hides out in a little rock cave most of the time, kind of clinging to the rock in an attempt (I assume) to camoflague himself when the lights are on, and then is more active when the lights are out. He has been eating regularly (they all have thankfully). Then all of a sudden 2 days have gone by and the grouper is just laying on it's side at the bottom on the gravel, not in his usual cave. It scared me when I first saw him because I thought he was dead, but he doesn't seem to be in distress, he will get up and swim around every once in a while, and last night when the light was off, he was swimming at the top of the tank against the current and splashed water out on the floor twice. Other than the behaviour I described, only thing I've noticed is that he hasn't eaten at the past two feedings, but he has skipped a meal or two in the past. One other thing, I did notice some scrapes on his sides about 2 weeks ago, very minor but I assumed he scraped himself on the rock since he always shoots down into that cave and clings against the wall. They seem to be healing up and I put stresscoat in the tank.

The tank temp is 78F, PH 8.0, Nitrite .25, Nitrate 50-75, Ammonia .025. Salt is reading a little high at 1.025. The only thing that I can see that has changed is the growth of green algae on the rocks and gravel, but I asked about it at the LFS and the guy said that was no problem.

Although probably unrelated, I got a shocker this morning when my puffer suddenly infated for no apparent reason. I have never seen him inflate, and I freaked out because he was almost the size of a volleyball! But he quickly deflated (in like 60-90 seconds) and appears fine now, so I think something must have just spooked him.

Any suggestions would be appreciated, my fiance is driving me crazy with worry!

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Old 02-19-2004, 09:06 AM   #2
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Nitrite .25, Nitrate 50-75, Ammonia .025.
The nitrite and ammonia should be nonexistant in the tank so the first thing to do is to track down whats up with that. The way your Grouper is actingit sounds as if the fish is stressed. Lying at the bottom and swiming at the very top of the tank is indicitive of this. If you have not done so prepair some water for a water change. You mentioned the fish not eating. Is the food left in the tank or is it removed if not taken after a short period of time? Uneaten food can add to the bio load and increase the potental ammonia levels.

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Old 02-20-2004, 04:35 AM   #3
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doing better

Well I have kept the light off the past 24hrs and he has been swimming around a bit more. He also attacked the crill I tossed in last night so that's a good sign I guess. I did a 20% water change right after posting those reading above, and maybe that helped as well. I never thought of fishing out the uneaten food, I will do that from now on. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 02-25-2004, 03:30 AM   #4
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I don't know how big your fish are but a 55 gal is very small for a panther grouper. They like to swim in spurts and dart around the tank. I had one for many years in a 135 gal and it seemed like they need a tank that is at least 6 foot long. Those three fish can really produce a lot of waste and overload a tank that size. It is not surprising that you are having problems with ammonia. Did you move the tank a month ago?
You should be careful not to feed these predators too often or so much that thier stomachs bulge badly. They need time to digest their food. Overfeeding these fish can result in the food litterally rotting inside of them before they can digest it. This will make them sick and can cause internal bacterial infections. The grouper and lion should only be fed 2 or 3 times a week and then not so much that they don't want anymore or their stomachs are bulging badly. They don't have the sense to stop eating and its not natural for them to stop until they litterally can't hold any more.
Making a couple of LARGE water changes using saltwater that has been mixed and aerated 24+ hours is a good move. I hope you will consider getting a larger tank for these fish. You had better keep an eye on the pH to with such a large bioload.
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