Why my saltwater tank fish breathe fast

Why’s My Saltwater Tank Fish breathe fast?

Fish keepers are fonder of saltwater fishes and love to add them in tanks. Intact Saltwater fishes are quite more common in tank culture. But, they are also difficult to maintain. At times, you may even see them going down the take and breathing heavily. 

Why are saltwater tank fish breathe faster? Fish breathe faster when they are under stress. Fishes also take rapid breaths when they encounter Parasites, Predatory fishes, and Toxic chemicals.

 People usually confuse swimming deep under with rapid breathing. Fish will breathe rapidly when they are not in a normal state. In this blog, we will explain what causes these small saltwater fishes to breathe heavily and how to identify it. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the reading.

Do Fishes Breathe?

Every living organism in this world breathes in oxygen and breathes out to eliminate carbon dioxide buildup inside the body. 

But do fishes breathe inside water? Yes, fishes breathe inside water through their gills. They inhale dissolved Oxygen in water through gills and eliminate the waste as dissolved Carbon dioxide.

 Carbon dioxide is a bi-product of metabolism. Oxygen is taken inside the body and used by cells to perform Anabolism (breakdown of complex molecules to simpler form). After this metabolic process, Carbon dioxide is removed by the process of Respiration. With respiration understood, is it possible to find if your fish is gasping to breathe?

How To Know If The Fish Is Struggling To Inhale ?

Many times, beginner fish keepers can’t identify if the fish is struggling to breathe inside the tank. A fish usually moves slower than normal when it is struggling to breathe. It may also seem lethargic and limiting its movement when it is difficult to breathe. Usually, the fish would tend to move towards the upper or lower parts of the tank when it feels difficult to breathe. You can take a closer look at its gills to make it clear. When the gills are rising more and more rapidly, it is clear that the fish is struggling to breathe. The gills are the region found adjacent to the fins. Gills will seem to be moving faster than normal. This may be due to some infection or inflations. Look out for any Mucus formation or inflation around the gills region. Fishes eat more when they are happy and not under much stress. Hunger and appetite would become lesser when the fish is breathing heavily or struggling to inhale. If the fish doesn’t eat like usual during the feeding routine along with some abnormal gill movement, you can also come to this conclusion. Fish keepers and aquarium experts must check this periodically. This is normal if it happens once in a while. But if it is a routine, then keep a note on when your fish gasps to breathe. When situations like this happen, fishes tend to move either to the top of the tank or the bottom of the tank. We will first see why the fish moves to the top of the tank.

Why Fish Breathes Rapidly at Top of the Tank?

fish breathe , fish move to top of tank
Fishes usually move to the top part of the tank due to less availability of oxygen inside the tank. Water usually contains oxygen in dissolved form. Fishes respire it and live. This is called Dissolved oxygen. The amount of oxygen dissolved inside the water is called Dissolved Oxygen in water. In nature, Water reservoirs have plants and organic matter growing inside. These plants help improve and increase the dissolved oxygen content. But in artificial tanks, plants play a less important role in recharging the oxygen. This is the reason to use Pumps and filters inside the tank. They move to the upper surface as the water would be enriched with oxygen than the lower parts. If the fish move to the upper part of the tanks, it means that your air filter or pump is not working properly. Larger tanks with smaller pumps and filters make them inefficient to enrich the bigger tanks. If the filter or pump is not working properly, then it is time to invest in newer filters and pumps inside the tank. You can also repair your tank filter and reuse it. Check out the Fish Tank Filter repair guide to know how to repair your broken fish tank filter If it is a larger tank, you can use two pumps to improve the filter efficiency. You can also increase the filter level if it is adjustable. These are much simpler to handle and nothing to worry much about.

Why Fish Move to Top of the Tank?

But sometimes, the fish may move to the top part of the tank due to an Increase in Ammonia inside the tank. Ammonia levels rise up when the tank cycles are not maintained properly. Poor tank maintenance and improper cleaning cycles can cause ammonia levels to rise up easily inside the tank. It may also be due to overcrowding of fish in a smaller tank. Ammonia is highly toxic for fish. Ammonia dissolved in water hurts and causes inflammation in fish gills. This makes the fish difficult to take in oxygen. Ammonia levels in water can be checked with an Aquarium Test Kit. If the Ammonia levels are too high, it can be reduced by making frequent water changes. Perform 20% to 30% water change every week. This helps to remove Ammonia and other unwanted toxic build-ups inside the tank. It also helps to maintain a clean and fresh tank, making the fishes stress-free and happier. If the tank is overcrowded with fish, try to shift them to separate tanks. You can also consider investing in new and bigger tanks. Bigger tanks can easily accommodate a large number of fish. Frequent tank maintenance and water change help to reduce Ammonia build-up and the risk of sudden Ammonia spike in water. Monitor once in a while for ammonia if your fishes seem restless and swim at top of the tank than usual. But, why does the fish sometimes move to the lower part of the tank while gasping to breathe?

Why Do Fish Struggle To Breathe At The Bottom Of A Tank?

fish at bottom of the tank
In the wild, fishes move around freely over a larger space. But inside the tank space is lesser and constrained. So, fishes have to fight for their territories more than ever inside a smaller tank. This makes them more Exhausted and tired. They move to some quiet, dark, and safer place to take rest. So, they choose to move to some safer places at the lower part of a tank while struggling to breathe. At times, fishes may suffer from parasite infection in their gill area. So, they tend to move to the bottom of the tank to heal up sooner. Parasite infection can be spotted by some White or Brown Spots around the Gill areas of your aquarium fish. To protect and heal, fishes develop a mucus layer around Gills. This reduces the breathing surface and makes the fish gasp for breathing. In Natural water bodies, fishes may be stung by Corrals, Sting Fishes, or any Anemones. They become fatigued and move towards the bottom due to injury. Overcrowding also stresses fish and makes them move towards the bottom. You can avoid this in your tank by moving some fish to another tank and reducing crowding in smaller tanks. Affected fishes can also be shifted to separate tanks for treatment and recovery. This helps us to find what sort of injury or infections the fish are affected by and treat accordingly. But sometimes, fishes breathe quickly after performing water change in your tank. But why does it do so?

Why Fish Breathe Faster After Water Change In Tank?

Fishes become more stressed after a complete water change in the tank. Fishes tend to lose a lot of energy when introduced into new water conditions. Most energy is spent to adapt to particular conditions. This makes them breathe faster to improve metabolism and compensate for the energy loss. Fishes may also suffer from lesser oxygen in new water as mentioned above. This may also be a reason for the fishes to breathe faster and deeper than normal. Sometimes, new water may contain chlorine and a few other chemicals that adversely affect the fish’s health and cause stress. This can be avoided by using RODI water for your tank fishes. Check the water with test kits before performing a complete water change. And finally, make sure to quarantine the fish for 3-4 hours in the same water which you are using for change. This makes them get used to it and observe if there are any complications arising before making the change. So it is like trying out a new outfit before buying for your fishes.

Final Words For Fish Keepers

Fishkeeping must not be taken easily. This is like an unwritten rule in the world of fish keeping. Beginner fish keepers may not be having many experienced ad experts. But it is never a problem. Everyone was a beginner at starting something. You can also become a Better fish keeper if you spend some time studying and learning about fish and fish keeping. All the above theories like avoiding overcrowding, regular tank maintenance, performing calculated water changes are basics of fish keeping. If disciplined learning is dedicated to the fishkeeping world, you can also become better at keeping beautiful fishes around great aquariums. You can learn easily from experience, especially in the world of pet keeping. We hope this article helped you with fish breathing and what to do when your beloved fish struggles to breathe. Comment below and tell us your experience with your fish’s breathing patterns and how you overcame them. If you liked this post do share it with your friends and family. Cause sharing is caring. See ya! Until then, keep growing your aquarium

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