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Old 01-21-2011, 07:27 PM   #1
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Stressed out? Fast-breathing Tiger Barb

We had some Tiger Barbs in our big tank with turtles, and they did fine for about 8 months. Suddenly (possibly due to cold -cold being upper 50s- temps in the house when our heater broke while we were on vacation), the turtles got all bloodthirsty and our fish started disappearing. They got 3 one day, but took them 2 months to eat another one.

With one Tiger Barb remaining, the kids were freaking out that his life was in danger, so we decided to take him out.

I had a 3 gallon tank laying around. It had had some sick fish in it in the past (actually, was named the "death chamber" because nothing could live in it - either the tank or the south facing window, who knows which), but had been sanitized with bleach solution and put in storage in the garage. I rinsed the tank, filled it with tap water and treated with AmQuel+ to remove chlorine, chloramine and nitrogenous compounds. I did not let the tank cycle, since we thought the fish's life was already in danger as it was.

This fish had not been seen eating in the week before it was moved, so it may have been stressed already. Well woudln't you be with a predator chasing you? During the move, this fast fish JUMPED out of the bowl and plopped onto a nearby couch. I scooped him up as soon as I figured out what he had done and where he had gone (!) and plopped him unceremoniously into the tank. He has been in there 2 days, but doesn't swim around. He is just hanging out about 1 inch from the top of the water and breathing very fast. He looks fine - shiny scales, clear fins and eyes, no signs of disease except not eating, not swimming and breathing super fast.

Today he was either hiding or floating (can't tell which) behind the filter thing. He's right side up and did swim quickly away when I made a noise near the tank. The water coming out of the filter seems too strong for him to resist and if he swims to close to it, he wooshes into the side of the tank. I tested the water today: ammonia 0.25ppm, Nitrite 0.25 ppm, nitrate 0, pH 8.2 8.2?? That seems high. Is that problematically high? I added a squirt of AmQuel in the hopes of bringing down that ammonia.

So what I'm wondering now is: what can I do to make his life easier? What could be wrong, other than stress?

I have thought about some bacteria hiding in the filter from the death-chamber-days. I have thought about temperature, but we do not have any heaters and don't want any. I have left the light on all night both nights, because I wasn't sure if it's good to turn it off or leave it on. I figured maybe it would help keep him warmer? (The thermostat is set to 68 daytime and 66 at night.) Today I got him a bunch of anachris so he'd have some cover in there, maybe will make him feel less exposed? Is he lonely? Is he just freaked out and stressed, or is something physically wrong?

I've decided I like this fish. He survived the turtles, even losing half his tail in the process, which was growing back nicely. He's cute, and he's the last one left. I'd hate to lose him now, in trying to save him!

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Old 01-21-2011, 08:17 PM   #2
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Tiger barbs are schooling fish, so the stress of him being alone on top of the fact that your tank is currently cycling, should be the reason he is acting this way. Read up on the nitrogen cycle and do water changes. Also, a three gallon tank? I believe that is too small for tiger barbs (they are recommended for schools of 5+), so maybe consider upgrading?

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Old 01-21-2011, 08:19 PM   #3
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start with a big water change. Since the tank was not cycled, there is most likely too much ammonia build up.
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Old 01-21-2011, 10:09 PM   #4
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+1 to both.

Your tank is currently in the cycling process, giving you ammonia and nitrite readings. The ammonia and nitrite in the tank is most likely making him act like this. I would recommend doing 25-50% water changes with additional prime (Detoxifies ammonia and nitrite for 24 hours) every day until your tank cycles. Heres a link: The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

About the Ph , Fish can adapt to a wide range of Ph as long as properly acclimated.

Is this temporary? I hope it is. Like others said, Tiger barbs are schooling fish and need to be in groups of 6 or more. A 3 gallon tank couldnt support a full school of tigers.

Are you planning on putting them back in the tank with the turtles or getting a separate tank?

If you plan on keeping them separate, I would recommend upgrading your 3 gallon (Keep as hospital tank though) to a 20 gallon. The 20 would be able to keep a school of tigers without no problem, but remember to cycle the tank.

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barb, breathing, eat, stress, tiger, tiger barb

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