Two days ago, Friday the 26th, I did about a 20% water change. I treated the tap water with seachem prime before adding it. While I was doing this, I also dug around more and located 3 of the 4 loaches. They weren't thrilled with being uncovered but I didn't notice any health issues. I was gone all day yesterday (the 27th).
Today, I noticed one loach swimming around a bit erratically on its side/back, but I'm still learning about their behavior and this didn't seem uncommon. A few times when it paused, it was on its side, but then it settled down on its stomach and I stopped watching. A few minutes later, I found a different loach completely upside down and breathing heavily. This seems to be an unfortunately common problem with kuhli loaches but I really can't figure out why. Occasionally he'd jerk around and swim in spastic circles for a few seconds before settling back down. I've noticed another loach is also breathing heavily but moving normally. The 3rd loach I've been able to find seems fine, though this is the first time they've been hanging out in visible locations during the day.
Last week, I was treating the tank with microbe-lift herbtana. I'd had a minor case of ich and wanted to protect against it coming back with the addition of new fish. I did tons of research on this product and could not find a single thing suggesting it was harmful to loaches. I stopped dosing when I did my water change on the 26th.
The tank is 20 gallons, heavily planted with a few mollies and one gourami plus a bunch of snails. My water parameters today were 0 ammonia/0 nitrite/0-5 nitrate/7.4-7.6 pH which is consistent. The tank itself has been running for 11-12 months and the kuhlis are the newest addition.
The only problem I can see is this: I just tested my tap water and the pH was 8.4. Eveeything else was the dame but that is a huge difference. I had no idea it was so different and I feel like a terrible fish owner. I already did a water change again today and added water that had been sitting out for about 2 days which had the same pH as my tank. Unfortunately I didn't have enough of that to replace all the water I removed but I will leave it as is for now. Obviously I need to prep my water a day or 2 in advance and hopefully thay fixes everything.
Will my kuhlis survive my mistake this time? Is there anything else I can do for them at the moment? Do you think there's anything else that may have gone wrong?
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