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Why Is My Clownfish Gasping for Air? (3 Possible Reasons)

Why Is My Clownfish Gasping for Air? (3 Possible Reasons)

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

You want to do the best that you can to keep your clownfish healthy. They are such cute fish that you surely love taking care of.

Watching the clownfish swim around in the tank can be a lot of fun. However, you need to do your best to keep them healthy even though they’re considered to be hardy fish.

If you’re seeing that your clownfish is gasping for air, then this is certainly going to be worrying. It isn’t normal for the fish to gasp for air, and you might not have any clue why this is happening.

Why would a clownfish suddenly start gasping for air? What should you do to try to help the fish?

Continue reading to learn more about this topic. You’ll be able to figure out what to do so that you can protect your clownfish.

1 – Problems with the Water Quality

Checking the PH in an Aquarium With an Electronic PH Meter

Typically, when you see clownfish gasping for air, they’re going to try to do so at the top of the tank. The top of the tank is going to be the place with the most oxygen since oxygen is a gas and gas rises.

When you notice your fish doing this, the first thing that you should check is to see if you have the water parameters right. If something is off, then this could be what is causing the fish to gasp for air near the top.

You might have dirty water and the fish simply doesn’t like it. Living in dirty water will be very bad for the health of the clownfish, and it makes sense that it will start gasping at the top of the tank if everything isn’t right.

Test your pH balance to see how everything looks. Remember that the pH balance is supposed to stay between 7.8 and 8.4 in the tank.

If the pH balance is too high or too low, then you’ll need to even things out. You can easily purchase chemicals that will allow you to do this.

The water temperature also needs to be in the right range for the clownfish. Ensure that the temperature is between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Having water that is too cool or too hot for the fish won’t be good. It should be easy enough to get the water back where it needs to be, and this should help the fish to start acting normal again.

2 – Issues with Ammonia Levels

Cleaning and Maintaining an Aquarium Filter

Ammonia levels being high could easily make it so that your fish cannot breathe properly. If it’s gasping for air near the top of the tank, then there might not be enough oxygen in the water.

As ammonia levels rise, the amount of oxygen in the tank will decrease. This is very problematic since your fish need dissolved oxygen to be able to breathe properly.

Fixing this issue involves keeping the water clean and trying to get the ammonia levels back down. Doing an immediate water change is recommended.

Some experts suggest changing out 40% of the water if the ammonia is very high. You might also wish to use chemicals that are meant to neutralize ammonia so that you can stabilize the environment.

You should check to make sure that your filter is working properly. Issues with the filter could have contributed to the ammonia level getting too high.

It’s also possible that you might need to change the way that you’re caring for the fish. Usually, ammonia levels spike when you have too much organic waste in the tank.

You could be feeding your fish too much, and this is causing them to poop a lot. It might seem comical that too much fish poop could endanger the entire tank, but it’s true.

Only feed the clownfish as much as they need to eat. Remember that adults are meant to eat twice per day while young clownfish need to be fed three or four times each day.

Remove any excess food that the clownfish don’t eat right away. You can’t just leave it in the tank or it’ll make it so that ammonia level issues keep popping up.

3 – Aeration Issues

Oxygen Bubbles in the Water in a Home Aquarium

Another thing to consider is whether the tank has aeration issues. Many people don’t understand the difference between a lack of oxygen and insufficient aeration, but it’s simple enough.

There can be more than enough oxygen in the fish tank, but it might all be in one spot. If the current isn’t sufficiently carrying the oxygen throughout the tank, then you need a better water pump.

Some people use very weak water pumps for clownfish tanks since young clownfish struggle with powerful currents. This isn’t always ideal since it can lead to aeration issues.

The clownfish might gasp for oxygen at the top of the tank because this is the spot that has the highest oxygen level. Improving the aeration will make it so that the oxygen is more evenly distributed throughout the tank.

Simply buying a better water pump is likely all that you need to do. If you’re worried about the clownfish having trouble with the current, then you should place aquatic plants and rocks in the tank that will help to make it easier for them to get around.

Add Air Stones

Three Air Stones for Adding Oxygen to a Fish Tank

Adding air stones to the tank can help the tank to have more oxygen. These are really easy to use, and they can be placed in various spots in fish tanks.

Simply put a few more of these in the fish tank and you might notice an improvement. This idea isn’t a replacement for addressing issues with water quality or ammonia levels, though.

Final Thoughts

The information above should make it much clearer that you need to keep an eye on the water quality in your fish tank. If the water quality isn’t taken care of, then it can lead to a lack of oxygen in the tank.

Dirty water can also cause health problems for the fish. Even if there is a sufficient amount of oxygen, the clownfish might gasp for air if the pH balance isn’t correct.

Remember to change out 15% of the water each week to help keep the water clean. Ensure that you have a good filter that will work well, too.

Don’t feed your fish more than you’re supposed to since that causes issues with organic waste. If you keep these things in mind, then you’ll more than likely be able to keep situations such as this from happening again.