I have a 30 gallon tank.
temp: 78 (Was at 72 but I'll get to that in a second)
I currently have 5 loaches in the tank. 3 are botia kubotai, and they've been in there for 3 years now. 2 I just added about 5 months ago, and I'm pretty sure they're yoyo's. The loach in question is pretty overweight looking, breathing rapidly and not doing much but sitting on the bottom. Other than that though, he doesn't look too bad. Like I said, he looks well-fed to the point of overfed, nothing wrong with the gills, no flukes, mucus, or redness, and his skin looks healthy. All the other fish are extremely active.
I can't say how long it's been going on exactly. I just got back from deployment a couple of days ago. My wife took care of the tank while I was gone. She did water changes religiously and knows the basics but she doesn't know what else to look for, thus the unplugged heater.
I think the guy who is panting is the jumper I had 4.5 months ago. I was doing a water change and had left the screen off while I was cleaning the filter. I came back and found him on the carpet. I don't know how long he had been down there. I thought he was dead at first and it took a minute or two of rocking him back and forth in the water before he perked up. He was panting heavily then but I thought he eventually got better. I can't remember exactly though and I went on deployment shortly after so who knows.
Is it possible to have the gills permanently damaged by a trip out of water and is there anything I can do to help him? I bumped the temp up to 78 thinking it was some kind of infection but now I'm thinking about lowering just a bit to help with the O2 content.
Lowering the temperature will most likely be a good idea. Because colder water can contain more oxygen then warmer water. And panting, whatever the reason, is related with lack of oxygen
What you described does sound like bloat. Bloat can have many origens, for instance, in cichlids, feeding too much protein. AS your other fish are fine, I don't think wrong feeding or so can be the cause.
But still the gut can become blocked - resulting in similar effects. If that is the case, the only thing you can do is wait, and hope. The thing blocking the gut can get replaced, and then everythinkg will be OK. if not, the fish will die
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