Wobbly, gasping, sinking porcupine puffer

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Since this board has been up, we have found there are several questions that routinely get asked in order to help diagnose problems. If you can have that information to begin with in your post, we'll be able to help right away (if we can!) without having to wait for you to post the info we need.

1) Your water parameters - pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrates and salinity (if appropriate). This is by far the most important information you can provide! Do not answer this with "Fine" "Perfect" "ok", that tells us nothing. We need hard numbers.

2) Tank size and a list of ALL inhabitants. Include algae eaters, plecos, everything. We need to know what you have and how big the tank is.

3) Feeding, water change schedule and a list of all products you are using or have added to the tank (examples: Cycle, Amquel, salt, etc)

4) What changes you've made in the tank in the last week or so. Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference.

5) How long the aquarium has been set up, and how did you cycle it? If you don't know what cycling is read this: Fishless Cycling Article and familiarize yourself with all the information. Yes. All of it.

We want to help, and providing this information will go a LONG way to getting a diagnosis and hopeful cure that much faster.

While you wait for assistance:
One of the easiest and best ways to help your fish feel better is clean water! If you are already on a regular water change schedule (50% weekly is recommended) a good step to making your fish more comfortable while waiting for diagnosis/suggestions is to do a large water change immediately. Feel free to repeat daily or as often as you can, clean water is always a good thing! Use of Amquel or Prime as a dechlor may help with any ammonia or nitrite issues, and is highly recommended.

Note - if you do not normally do large water changes, doing a sudden, large water change could shock your fish by suddenly changing their established water chemistry. Clean water is still your first goal, so in this case, do several smaller (10%) water changes over the next day or two before starting any large ones.
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Wobbly, gasping, sinking porcupine puffer

Post by Tonic »

1) pH: 8.1
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrates: 3 ppm
salinity: 1.024

2) 55 gal tank (I know she needs bigger, though she's only about 3 inches and I'm cycling a much bigger tank at the moment) with no tank mates.

3) Tried feeding a small amount twice, took it both times, now uninterested. Water changed last Friday 20% (no fish then), and last night 30%. I'm using marine salt, Seachem Prime and PraziPro. Turbostart 900 added at the beginning of cycling.

4) I've removed gravel in preparation for sand today, that's the only real change

5) The aquarium has been set up and cycling for 6 weeks with no fish, seeded from a well established aquarium

This is my second try in 2 weeks with a porcupine puffer. The first died the same night - gasping, clamped fins, sinking, and dead by morning. I just got this little one by mail yesterday morning, and she arrived well and good, though all of her water levels were absolutely off the charts, especially ammonia (over 8 ppm). I acclimated by drip over an hour and a half. After getting her in the tank I noticed she was respirating heavily (about 90 breaths per minute), though otherwise acting fine. She swam around the middle of the tank all day, ate a little frozen squid and shrimp, but still breathing heavily. The only other thing I noticed was that she was pointed slightly nose down for a while, but this resolved after she ate. Toward the evening I noticed her sticking more toward the top of the tank and poking her nose out of the water, what almost looked like gasping for air. I tried to interest her in food, but no luck.

I was getting pretty worried and researched everything I could find, and all pointed to ph shock and the need for a water change, so that's what I did (about 30%). I matched all parameters exactly. After the water change she sunk to the bottom, breathing more heavily, hid, and curled up. Looked like she was trying to die. That was a little scary so after giving it a couple of hours I moved her to a container of about 2.5 gal of tank water I reserved from before the water change, and she had an immediate change back to swimming around, though still breathing heavily and poking her nose out.

She's still there this morning, still the same symptoms, but swimming slightly wobbly now when she's not at the bottom with her tail curled. Not interested in food. Fins are not clamped and have never been. No lesions or spots of any kind (and I really got up in her space with a flashlight to look). She is a bit skinny, and looks to have a bit of a lump toward her rear this morning. Obviously I can't keep her in that small container (she does have air and heat), but I'm afraid to put her back in the display tank.

What is happening to my fish? I really want to save her and will try anything safe enough.
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Re: Wobbly, gasping, sinking porcupine puffer

Post by Pufferpunk »

I don't believe in long acclimations. Once you open the shipping bag, the ammonia shoots up. 8 is enough to cause permanent damage to the gills. Do you think that "bump" might be air? That could cause her to swim wobbly. What do you have in the tiny tank she's in to keep the waste from poisoning her?
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

"The solution to pollution is dilution!"
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