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Buoyancy Issues in Aquarium Fish – Common Aquarium Questions

As you may know, our Marine Bio Staff here at That Fish Place works tirelessly answering fish and aquarium questions by phone, email, in person, and of course, on That Fish Blog.  We thought it might be helpful to periodically post some of the answers to FAQs here in the blog as an added resource to common issues and inquiries.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us for info, we’re here to help!  And keep an eye on That Fish Blog for more FAQs and answers, info and advice!

Dale in Pittsburgh wrote:

I have a 30 gal freshwater tank, with 17 tetra-type fish (Bloodfins, Glow-Tetras, Neon-Tetras, Black Tetras, etc) and I have noticed that there are some buoyancy issues, particularly with the neon tetras (3 out of 5 fish). They are not new, they have been around for quite some time, and I cannot recall any changes that have taken place in the last few months. They have an issue with nose down, tail up syndrome, constantly trying to swim down to keep neutrally buoyant in the water. Any ideas why this would occur?

Tank equipment:

Under-gravel filter with a Marineland 660 Powerhead

Emperor 280 filter (diamond blend carbon / ammonia) with a standard gauze filter in-front for fine particulates

Marineland 200 stealth heater (set to 78 deg, room temp 75 deg)

2″ mixed gravel

Artificial Plants

Artificial driftwood

1 piece of gray slate (I think)

I feed Tetramin flake food once daily Mon-Friday (9am), the tank location is in my office.  I do 10 gallon water changes every 2 weeks, and water tests with master test kit results are as follows: slightly high PH (7.2-7.5 avg), ammonia and nitrite 0 ppm at every test, nitrate is around 10-40ppm average.

Answer from MarineBio@thatpetplace.com:

From what you have described, they could have infections in their swim bladders. Typically when you see fish having that problem, the culprit is a bacterial infection in the swim bladder. This can be difficult to treat, but there is one medication that we have had good luck with. Seachem makes a product called Kanaplex (kanamycin sulfate), that has proven effective against internal infections. You can dose your entire tank with the medication, just make sure that you remove the carbon from your filters first, as it will absorb medications from the water. The directed treatment is dosage every other day…. but to be honest, you can dose daily for 7 days and see if you get better results. It should not affect your fish if you increase the dosing frequency to once daily. Just perform a water change on day 3 and you should be just fine. Good luck!

Please write in here if you have any questions or further advice on this question.

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