Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Black Ghost Knifefish, Apteronotus (Sternarchus) albifrons, Disease/Health: Treatments

Related Articles: New World Knifefishes, GymnarchusNotopterids/Clown Knifefishes Electrogenic Fishes,

Related FAQs: BGK Disease 1, BGK Disease 2, BGK Disease 3, BGK Disease 4, Knifefish Disease,
FAQs on BGK Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Trauma,
FAQs on: BGK ID, BGK Behavior, BGK Compatibility, BGK Selection, BGK Systems, BGK Feeding, BGK Reproduction, & Knifefishes 1, Knifefishes 2, Knifefish Identification, Knifefish Behavior, Knifefish Compatibility, Knifefish Selection, Knifefish Systems, Knifefish Feeding, Knifefish Reproduction, Electrogenic Fishes, Notopterid Knifefishes (Clowns...),


Copper poisoned BGK     3/5/18
I made a massive rookie mistake, and used snail rid (copper based) in my community tank which includes my BGK. I did the initial treatment and followed up 3days later. 2 days after I noticed my ghost knife looking sick, I did a frantic online search and that’s when I discovered that copper is toxic to them. I immediately did a water change and picked out any remaining snail shells, added two aerators. I’m relatively new to all this so not sure what else I need to do. BGK is swimming vertically in the corner where the filter is, doesn’t take food. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
<I would run activated carbon in your filter system... to remove residual copper and improve water quality, and add Methylene Blue to the extent that the water is quite blue in color... no dosage other than this recommendation. This will act as a mild bacteriostatic as well as improve dissolved oxygen and cut down light penetration. >
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Copper poisoned BGK     3/5/18

Hi Bob,
Thank you so much for your reply and advice! Will let you know how I go.
<Ah, good. Thank you. BobF>

Ill/Injured Black Ghost Knifefish, Please Advise     3/28/17
Hello WWM Crew,
I am writing to you in desperation, I am at a loss. I have an 11-12 inch Black Ghost Knife Fish who has never been named, so we shall call him BGK for the time being.
Approximately 2 years ago, I found an ad for this fish on kijiji and jumped at the opportunity. It seemed a perfect idea for my 55 gallon, as the fish was coming from 15 gallon housing and I assumed it wouldn't be much larger than 5-6 inches at maximum. To my surprise, I was given a 10-11 inch fish in an ice cream pail.
I got the fish home as quickly as possible, (didn't acclimate him properly at all) and got him set up in my running 55 gallon set up with a small rubber lip Pleco that had been residing there since first water quality tests came clear. All was well and I had a magnificent fish in my 55 gallon (which I know is far too small as a "forever" home, I am currently planning to buy a 150-175 gallon upgrade as he is now finally reaching the 12 inch milestone, then perhaps a larger custom build in the future).
Through the next year, I brought home 2 blood parrot cichlids that were awful sad looking in the store. As well as a Red Tail Shark. All was well for a while. The cichlids grew however, as did their aggression. They were eventually rehomed due to aggression issues, I clearly should've researched more before committing.
Rubber lip Pleco passes away for unseen reasons. I can only blame this on myself, the only explanation I can come up with is either he wasn't getting enough out of the algae disks I was feeding or the RTS bullied him. The RTS
seems to get along "swimmingly" with BGK. I should also mention at this point that BGK is totally peaceful and content unless of course there is a tiny fish nearby that would fit in his mouth.
Fast forward about a year. BGK is now approximately 12 inches and on the verge of outgrowing the 55 gallon tank. RTS is about 3-4 inches, doing well. Both have their own hiding spots in the tank, a cave for the RTS and a large 12" clear pvc tube for BGK. A midsize piece of driftwood provides extra cover and seems to be neutral ground. Water quality tests today show ammonia at 0, nitrites 0, but nitrates slightly high at 30-40. I do consistently weekly(sometimes bi-weekly) water changes of %20-%25 to keep nitrate levels at a semi-acceptable level, but our water comes out of the tap with Nitrates at 25-30. I have yet to find any kind of nitrate removal system besides live plants which are not yet an option with this set up. I realize that this high nitrate level causes stress to the fish.
<Yes; all a matter of degree and type>
I notice this morning that there are still pieces of bloodworm around the tank, highly unusual. BGK turns around to say hello and I see he's obviously wounded in some way. Under his jaw where there is usually the white spot, it seems like there is a deep laceration where the internal organs have begun to protrude. It looks like a large bubble, a sac of some kind.
<Looks to be a tumor of some sort. From the position, possibly of thyroid-equivalent; though could be part of the intestine pushed out.. a prolapsed colon >
It's awful. I can't tell if the organs pushed everything out or if it was actually a laceration that's letting things "fall" out. I don't know. It's awful. I have no idea how it could've happened, there are no sharp spots in the tank where he could've cut himself unless on the driftwood somehow but even then it's highly doubtful. I have cats and it's possible they could fit a paw through the filter gaps in the lid to go "fishing", but still highly doubtful. I've been through Google searches and the WWM pages regarding all of it and I can't seem to find any other similar cases. I'm in the midst of performing a water change as I'm writing this on and off. I don't know what else to do to help the fish, or if it can be saved. I almost feel like it should be euthanized if it's struggling so. I'm located in Canada with not much access to medications, any access will not come quickly as shipping is never fast out here. The BGK seems to be in pain, it's obviously uncomfortable, he's breathing rapidly with his mouth half-open kind of like he's panting. The RTS is now picking at BGK. I will attempt to attach some photos, I apologize in advance I'm sure they'll be a larger size than necessary (not sure how to downsize them on cell phone)
PS. I'm also dealing with a big brown algae bloom at the moment due to the arrival of spring and all the extra sunshine we've been getting - and no Pleco to help clean
PPS. The tiny white spots you see on BGK are small air bubbles as he's sitting very motionless near the filter flow (also a sign of bad water quality, I know, those nitrates. but at least it's not Ich cause that's about what it looks like in the pictures)
Thank you in advance
Jami Kai
<Do please search, read on WWM re "prolapsed colon" and the use of iodide-ate for thyroid issues. I WOULD treat (add to the water and foods) a useful "iodine" treatment (made for fish systems)... Possibly the SeaChem
product: http://www.seachem.com/reef-iodide.php
Bob Fenner>

Re: Ill/Injured Black Ghost Knifefish, Please Advise     3/30/17
Thank you muchly for the swift reply & probable diagnosis - I completely agree it could be either of these things or even a combination of the two. RTS has been picking at the poor BGK, so this morning I removed RTS to a temporary holding area while I set the 20 gallon quarantine. The bulging "sac" is now almost gone and it looks like mostly live tissue protruding from the wound, I also found a small piece of what could be intestine floating around near BGK.. Awful. It looks a tiny bit better, but of course now I worry if the fish will be missing necessary digestion components.
I have read heavily into thyroid complications/tumours and treatment using iodine/iodide (iodide being the safer of the two?).
<The latter; and/or the valence state which is iodate. In actual practice, common terminology iodide/ate is often labeled/named as elemental iodine (which they are not)>
Seeing the studies showing it's effectiveness in tissue repair/regeneration, I do believe it would be wise to treat the fish with a potassium iodide solution. Is this "Reef Iodide" from Seachem safe for freshwater use??
<Yes it is>
I assume you would not be giving me the wrong information, of course, just want to be sure. I've also found in my searches that salts or "Epsom" salts may be added to the aquarium water??
<Yes. Please see Neale Monk's piece re its uses in freshwater>
What are your thoughts on this in regards to my BGK?
<Worth trying. Relatively safe; and effective>
Would a small amount of salts or magnesium prove helpful as well?? Would this react badly to the iodide?
<Are miscible>
Chemistry, I'll admit, was not my strongest point. Another thought, I've seen/read that the addition of almond leaves may be useful for reaching more preferable water conditions for a BGK... Any thoughts on this?
<Can be of use in softening water, making darker/less transparent; which are of use>
I've been searching through my usual online supply shops and have not yet found the reef iodide from Seachem but I do believe I will order (it or a similar product) as soon as possible.
<Other brands/manufacturers also sell... Am just a fan of the SeaChem line... Real products, consistent>
Thank you again, so much, for your advisements
Jami Kai
<Glad to assist your efforts. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ill/Injured Black Ghost Knifefish, Please Advise /Neale     3/30/17

Ok, according to Neale's article in regards to salts/Epsom salts and their freshwater use, am I supposed to be putting 34-68 teaspoons of salt in this water?! It claims in the chart that as a prophylactic treatment, one should add salt at 1-2 g/l? That would equate to approximately 34-68 teaspoons in a 55 gallon aquarium, as per the instruction given. Yikes. If a BGK is sensitive to water quality changes, is this a wise addition? Should one be scaling down the dosage for such a sensitive fish? Is a small amount of salt better than none or too much?
<You need to review the concept of concentration. If I threw in 27,000 tonnes of Epsom salt into an aquarium the size of the Atlantic Ocean, and stirred thoroughly, that wouldn't have any discernible effect at all. The pile of salt was big, but the amount of water was much, much bigger. Your aquarium holds 210 litres; so to get a concentration of 1-2 gram per litre, you'd be adding 210 to 420 grams. I'm doing this in metric because it's easier. While one teaspoon is approximately 6 grams of salt, for this quantity I'd still be using kitchen scales, and even in the good ole US of A, kitchen scales have metric as well as Imperial units. So it's a no-brainer to do it this way. Add the salt to a bucket of warm water, stir thoroughly, and once it's all dissolved, add in stages to the aquarium, perhaps 25% of the bucket every 15 minutes. This will give the filter enough time to push the salted water around the aquarium evenly. There's absolutely no point using smaller amounts of salt because even at 1-2 gram/litre you aren't going to stress most fish, and lower amounts aren't going to have any effect.>
In this article is also explains how Epsom salts are useful for tanks holding hard water fish... Is this "hardness" not stressful for a soft water fish??
<Sure, long term. But we're using the Epsom salt here as a short-term fix, and can phase it out once the fish is/are healthy again.>
If I were to add almond leaves in the water, would that counter-act the hardness created by Epsom salts and create a better environment for the fish? Or would this neutralize things, rendering both ineffective?
<A fair question, and I'd suggest removing anything likely to acidify the water, at least temporarily. That said, the impact of almond leaves is probably trivial. Use a pH test kit to monitor, if needs be.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ill/Injured Black Ghost Knifefish, Please Advise       3/31/17
I do thoroughly understand the concepts of concentration/dilution.
<Cool. Just checking.>
If I were holding a tank of tropical community fish or cold water goldfish /Koi I would have no problem dosing at this rate or slightly higher, as I have before (albeit in a smaller environment, at the beginning of my fish keeping says, a 30 gallon holding 2 Oranda goldfish suffering with Ich).
If I had a working kitchen scale (and a hydrometer or something for that matter) I would have no issues at all measuring things thoroughly. However, given the amount of experiences I've seen online of Black Ghost Knives
reacting badly to salt (and the fact I don't have proper tools) I have to admit I'm quite uncomfortable with the thought. I would absolutely hate for his demise to solely be my doing.<1-2 gram/litre is a very low concentration. If I gave you that to drink, you probably wouldn't notice. Certainly not brackish, let alone saline/seawater.>
That being said I do very much appreciate your input, and if it ever comes down to it, I know that dosing at these amounts may be a better option (for the treatments suggested in the article anyways) than anything else.
<The issue here is that salt used at the correct concentration (as stated above, measured and added to the tank carefully) is MUCH LESS risky than copper or formalin. All medicines are poisons at some level, and many
aquarists don't even think twice about adding copper or formalin, with the result that sometimes delicate fish die because of it. Salt/heat is a safer treatment for Whitespot and Velvet, while Epsom salt, used in a similar
way, helps with bloating and dropsy-type conditions (alongside improvements in diet and aquarium water quality). Make sense?>
Yesterday the fish was isolated in the 55 gallon. At around noon, I noticed about an inch of what looked like colon/intestines hanging from the open wound. This soon fell off and was removed from the tank to prevent fouling the water (it was definitely intestine). I then dosed with 11 teaspoons of Epsom salts, (all that I had at the moment, had to have someone bring more) will be doubling the dose today as well as performing a water change of 15 gallons & re-dosing accordingly. Then tomorrow perhaps a third addition for a full concentration of 3 teaspoons/5 gallons. I also added 4 almond leaves more for my peace of mind than anything else, as I hadn't yet read this email. Fish is stable, (hovering around the almond leaves, so I think it may at least be comforting to the fish, not sure) wound seems to be retracting just the tiniest amount. I will be ordering the reef iodide tomorrow, thanks to Amazon of course.
<Do bear in mind Epsom salt IS NOT sodium chloride, and basically just increases general hardness (not a big issue for Black Ghosts, all else being optimal). It also has a mild laxative effect (useful for constipation) and slightly reduces osmotic stress (sometimes useful if fish aren't well). It's by no means a cure-all.>
Now though, I'm extremely worried about the portion of colon that has fallen off.
<I find it hard to imagine this is actually colon, though it could be impacted faeces or a mass of dead cells. Losing a chunk of colon would quickly kill the fish, surely. But the more likely explanations might actually be a positive sign.>
Will this harm the fishes ability to digest/evacuate waste?
<If actually intestine, yes.>
Should I be feeding the fish small amounts throughout the day or not at all yet?
<If the fish is active and looking for food, then by all means, feed small amounts. No point starving this fish.>
He seems quite stable & content, not in as much panic as before. The portions of fin that were getting torn by RTS are already healing with new tissue. Will do a water quality test including PH before & after today's
water change.
Thanks again,
Jami Kai
<Welcome. Neale.>

Black ghost knife - quarantine and tank mates.     11/1/16
<Hello Ranjana,>
I'm finally setting up a tank for a black ghost after waiting for almost 8 years :D starting it out with a 60 gal tank, slightly planted.
<Sounds good, though 60 gallons will be small for the size of adult fish.
So be aware, at some point a bigger tank will be necessary -- if all goes to plan!>
I've read up most of the information available on the internet regarding to these fish but since they're very sensitive to medications I wasn't sure about how to go about the quarantine process like what all to treat it with, dosage and for how long.
<Basically, don't medicate; isolate. Keep the Black Ghost Knifefish on its own for 6 weeks. In that time, if it shows any sickness, use very specific treatments. Antibiotics for bacterial infections, salt/heat for Whitespot.
That sort of thing. Avoid "general cures" like Melafix, and definitely avoid anything containing copper or formalin, both of which are extremely toxic to these fish. Medicines described as "safe for cartilaginous fishes" such as sharks and stingrays should be safe to use. Your other challenge is to get your Black Ghost Knifefish feeding! You want a wide variety of foods, not just bloodworms. The bigger the range of different things your Knifefish will eat, the better. More small meals per day is better than one big meal. Most of all, you want your fish to have a nice rounded belly, not
swollen, just gently rounded. Such fish will be healthy and putting on weight. Once you're sure your Knifefish is feeding well, you can then add tankmates, ideally non-bottom feeders (like Angels) first, and over the months, other types of fish (like the loaches) that might compete for food.>
coming to tank mates I was thinking of :
1 Senegal bichir or an Albino Senegal bichir ( which would you recommend?)
<Good choice. Very similar in temperament, but Bichirs are sold at bigger sizes, so I'd get the Knifefish settled and feeding first, for a few months ideally, then add the Bichir.>
4 yoyo loaches
<Also good, provided they don't eat all the food.>
a couple of silver angel fish
<Also good.>
also I got a electric blue Dempsey recently. still a baby about 2 inches and I was wondering if he can be kept with the BGK. sounds risky but I did read in a few places that only one can be kept successfully in a community tank.
<I would not keep a territorial, aggressive cichlid with a Black Ghost.
Juvenile Black Ghosts are very delicate and slow feeders, and you'll find most cichlids cause them stress. Adult Black Ghosts are a bit tougher, but still, not worth the risk.>
Thank you so much in advance,
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife - quarantine and tank mates.     11/1/16

Thank you for such a quick response :)
I'm planning to get a 150g set up by the time he hits 8-9 inches.
About the antibiotic, will erythromycin be fine?
<Can work, but bear in mind Erythromycin works only against some bacterial infections.>
also should I stick to half a dosage recommended? cause' I saw a couple of videos where it suggested to stick with full dosage as half a dosage might not help with the issue and might make the fish resistant to the medicine ?
<Absolutely! Unless a doctor or vet tells you to reduce the dose, use the full dose. Your research is absolutely correct in that half-doses (and not finishing the whole series of doses) can lead to antibiotic resistance. And that, as you know, is VERY bad.>
Also the other thing I was a little worried about was the ph. The tap water ph here is about 7.4 which is generally high for them. But I'm caught up between setting up the tank with a lower ph water or get the fish acclimated to the tap water ph? I'm guessing the lfs here also have the same ph. I'm torn between giving them the ph they're supposed to be in to
giving them a consistent ph.
<Water chemistry is not too important. Medium hard water up to pH 7.5 is fine. Black Ghost Knifefish are MUCH more sensitive to poor water quality.>
As for the food, I thought I'd start him off with Hikari carnivore pellets then slowly bring him up on fresh food like earthworms, shrimp and tilapia once he gets to a reasonable size. also your thoughts on Spirulina for bakes? and vegetables like cucumber and spinach. Some of the things I came across while looking into the food.
<Try everything! Variety is CRUCIAL. If your specimen likes Spirulina, then great! They are micropredators though, so Spirulina-enriched frozen brine shrimp will probably be the easiest way to get "greens" into your Black Ghost Knifefish.>
would you recommend mixing the antibiotic with food or dosing the water?
<Giving in the food is ALWAYS better for systemic bacterial infections (like simple failure to thrive). But adding to the water is probably just as good for treating external infections like Finrot. Adding to the water tends to be hopeless for systemic infections though. So as we say in England, "horses for courses" -- you identify the situation you're in, and
choose a dosing method as required.>
And the juveniles we get around here are about 2-3 inches, is it okay to get them or should I go for a slightly bigger one?
<Ideally, yes; very small fish (relative to adult size) tend to be rather delicate. The ideal specimen is probably around the 12-15 cm/5-6 inch mark... but MUCH more important than size is how well fed it is (and how aggressively it feeds!) when you see it in the shop. A small, but pushy, fish that's happily eating lots of food will be much better than a bigger
fish that hasn't eaten for weeks. Make sense?>
I'm tempted to get a smaller one cause' I want to see him grow from a tiny little spec to a massive fish.
<They grow ever so slowly, so this can take a while! In fact hardly any reach adult size because not many people keep them for anything like a normal lifespan. I've seen one or two adults over the years, and they're massive fish! But most people buy youngsters that live for a year to two before dying for some reason -- usually lack of food (they have BIG
appetites) and/or poor environment (they need lots of space/lots of oxygen).>
Thank you so much again.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife - quarantine and tank mates.      11/9/16

Thank you so much for helping me out last time, so as per the advice on the quarantine process for the black ghost,
I set up a 20 gallon so its easier to keep an eye on fish too see if its feeding and excreting properly.
But I noticed that my tap water ph is about 8.2. I know this is too much for bgk, but is it possible to acclimate it to this ph?
<Yes, but unwise if you aren't changing hardness as well. It's the hardness, not the pH, that causes problems for fish.>
I did read in a few webpages that it is possible but, I wasn't comfortable to trust that hence asking you. I cannot afford to get an RO system installed right now. I'm still a student. The only other way is to get canned drinking water, but I'm afraid it wont be available in emergency situations.
<I would not worry too much. I would focus on water quality and diet.>
Now I could decrease the ph of the water with driftwood and almond leaves, but I'm worried about the ph swing during water changes.
<Indeed. A slight and slow pH drop between water changes won't be too bad, provided you do small water changes periodically. But you would have to measure pH regularly, probably several times a week for the first couple of
months, until you had a good idea of how pH changed (if at all).>
The other thing I thought of was, setting the tank up with the canned/drinking water (ph of about 7.4) and doing a 10% water change twice a week with normal tap water. would it still be a huge ph swing? will this work?
<It's not a bad idea at all! Set the tank up with your tap water first.
Then over the next few weeks, make small changes to water chemistry by doing 10% water changes every few days, even once a week. See what happens!
So long as hardness isn't lowered to zero, and pH doesn't fluctuate wildly, you'll be okay. Put it this way: do a water chemistry test on your drinking water. Let's say it's 5 degrees dH, pH 7.4. Then you test your aquarium water, and it's 20 degrees dH, pH 8.2. If you mix the two, 50/50, at each water change, you will eventually end up with a tank around 12 degrees dH, pH 7.6, which would be absolutely fine.>
I'm reconsidering getting the fish and its breaking my heart. But I'd rather not get it than make it struggle in a high/unstable ph.
<A high pH is not necessarily a deal breaker; but an unstable pH is. See above. If the Black Ghost Knifefish is adapted to your local hard water, and is feeding and growing merrily, it could live a long and happy life, provided water quality is excellent.>
I read that letting the water age with aeration helps reducing the ph a bit?
<Depends on the water chemistry. Aerating doesn't do anything by itself.
But some water has lots of dissolved CO2, and aerating drives this off, raising the pH. That's the commonest scenario.>
but It'd be very difficult to do water changes for a 60 gal/150 gal that way and isn't very practical. I am very confused as how to go about this.
Out of topic, but is normal clay a good substrate for an aquarium?
<Don't know; never tried it! Lime-free sand is ideal for Black Ghosts, while gravel works okay if needs be. So long as you aren't too fussy about the types of plants, putting them into the gravel, and then inserting fertiliser pellets every month or so, will result in adequate plant growth.
Sometimes even better! Vallisneria for example couldn't care less.>
I wanted to go with simple plants like Anubias and didn't want to spend a lot on ADA, unnecessarily.
<If you grow low-light plants like Anubias and Java Fern, avoid expensive plant-friendly substrates. The Anubias and ferns won't use them, getting nutrients from the water, but algae will take the nutrients instead!>
Will a slight murky water during water changes affect the fish in any way ?
<Black Ghosts don't mind a bit of cloudiness.>
Thank you so much again, Neale. Your help is much appreciated.
<Welcome! Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife - quarantine and tank mates.      11/25/16

Hello Neale,
I promise this is the last mail :D
So since these fish are sensitive to general medications I did a little research about the medicines available. I came across this website which had compiled information about all the medicine.
Some of the medicine that I thought might be safe for BGK and wanted confirmation.
1. Nitrofurazone - for bacterial infections
2. Kanamycin Sulphate - for general bacterial infections and fungal infections
3. Praziquantel - for parasites
<Worms, anyway.>
4. Levamisole HCl - for parasites
<Again, worms.>
5. Methylene Blue (zinc free) - used as a general cure for wounds etc.
<Yes. Old school, basically inhibits fungal infections from setting into wounds, and to some degree inhibits opportunistic external bacterial infections. Less useful once fish are actually sick from Finrot or fungus, though better than nothing, and definitely much use if the infections are internal. If you think of it like an antiseptic, something you'd put on a your skin if you cut yourself badly, you have a better idea of what this is for.>
6. Metronidazole - bacterial infections
<And parasitic infections caused by Protozoans such as ciliates. The classic example is Hexamita, for which it's pretty much the standard medication.>
I just want to have medicines on hand before I get the fish cause' it'll be difficult to get it after it falls sick and might get too late.
<Understood, but some at least have a "shelf life".>
My tank is finally cycled, I decided to wait for another week and leave some healthy guppies from my other tank just to make sure before adding the BGK.
I'm running out to ways to thank you, Thank you again for the 8th time. I am really grateful for your quick and patent responses.
<Always glad to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Black ghost knife is rotting     3/11/16
So I'm not sure if you'll be able to help at this point but I'm hoping you might have a suggestion; I have a black ghost knife who is around 12 inches long now who I've had since juvenile with no problems at all. 3 or 4 days ago I noticed he had a big slice down his side which I think was caused by a broken ornament that had sharp edges so I quarantined him in a 20 gallon tank and dosed the tank with MelaFix.
<Arggghhhh! Worthless; worse than worthless....>
The next day he had started developing sores all over and almost seems like he has a flesh eating disease, the initial cut has gotten much worse and is now about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch thick and I can actually see his bones
through it now. I tried feeding him last night, he has no appetite but he seems active for the most part. I've tried 2 different medicines now treating for basically everything but nothing seems to be helping. His tail and part of his bottom fin are rotting away as well and I'm just really not sure what to do now, any suggestions?
<Am referring you to Neale.... have you read on WWM? Bob Fenner>
Black ghost knife is rotting     3/11/16

So I'm not sure if you'll be able to help at this point but I'm hoping you might have a suggestion; I have a black ghost knife who is around 12 inches long now who I've had since juvenile with no problems at all. 3 or 4 days ago I noticed he had a big slice down his side which I think was caused by a broken ornament that had sharp edges so I quarantined him in a 20 gallon tank and dosed the tank with MelaFix.
<Unreliable, at best; a commercial antibiotic will be immeasurably better here.
Do understand that water quality needs to be excellent. A hospital tank with an immature filter is a quick way to kill your fish. Zeolite may be useful if you don't have the facility to add a mature biological filter.>
The next day he had started developing sores all over and almost seems like he has a flesh eating disease, the initial cut has gotten much worse and is now about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch thick and I can actually see his bones through it now.
<Oh dear.>
I tried feeding him last night, he has no appetite but he seems active for the most part. I've tried 2 different medicines now treating for basically everything but nothing seems to be helping.
<"All purpose" cures are not reliable because they're sort of designed to catch a few things early on, but not designed for specific, serious problems that need heavy duty treatment. Basically, avoid. Instead identify the problem, probably bacterial, and medicate with something like Kanaplex or the old Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 combination.>
His tail and part of his bottom fin are rotting away as well and I'm just really not sure what to do now, any suggestions?
<Outlook isn't good, for sure. If the fish is feeding, and water quality is excellent, there's hope. Don't forget to remove carbon from the filter.
Lots of oxygen, lots of water current important. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife is rotting     3/11/16

I have been reading but haven't found an answer or similar case yet, still looking though. Let me know if there's anything you can think of that might help. Also none of his tankmates were affected so it has something to do
with the initial cut but I'm not sure what. Also what medicine do you recommend for the small common things instead of MelaFix? I agree it seems pretty worthless.
<Black Ghost Knifefish come from very clean, very well oxygenated environments. The problem is that in aquaria they aren't usually kept in spacious, well-filtered conditions. I don't know the size of your Knifefish nor the size of your tank, but the fact a scratch resulted, almost overnight, in a serious bacterial infection, would suggest conditions
aren't right for this species. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife is rotting    3/12/16

The ghost knife is around a foot long and I've had him since juvenile in a 75 gallon tank and never had a problem until now, the 20 gallon tank I quarantined him has 2 filters running (50 gal AquaClear and a 20-40 AquaTech) and both tanks have been active for years.
<I would check the water quality on the 75 and put this BGK back in there... far more stable>
I also have 2 oversized filters on the 75 gallon tank so there is plenty of water flow and oxygen ( 2 bubblers in each tank as well). I picked up some medicine today but I couldn't find either of the ones you suggested (any idea where to find them in Ontario?)
<I'd call around the local fish stores; the aquarium clubs (see CAOAC online for those in your province... You might have to ask a friendly MD or veterinarian for assistance; order from the Net>
so I picked up a pack of erythromycin, would you suggest using it?
<Yes; if this is all you can get. It is the active ingredient in Maracyn (I)>
Or should I try to find something else? What do you suggest in terms of water changes, I've been doing 20-40% water changes every other day to try to keep water quality as good as possible, is this a good idea?
<Yes; with water from the 75>
The 75 gallon was cleaned the day before this all started but it was very filthy before then, (I was out of the province and my brother was supposed to take care of it, clearly he didn't very well) so I'm sure that didn't help
<Ah yes; likely some part of the real cause here>
Also it seemed like more of a deep cut then a scratch that set it all off.
Anything else you can think of that I should be doing? Or anything that may help?
<Making sure this fish is eating>
Also would you suggest putting in some aquarium salt?
<Not much; perhaps a level teaspoon per five gallons when you change out water>
I usually don't but people have been telling me to, saying it might help with the healing. Your thoughts?
<Do try the search tool on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black ghost knife is rotting    3/12/16

The ghost knife is around a foot long and I've had him since juvenile in a 75 gallon tank and never had a problem until now, the 20 gallon tank I quarantined him has 2 filters running (50 gal AquaClear and a 20-40 AquaTech) and both tanks have been active for years.
<Sounds good, though 75 gallons honestly isn't generous for 30 cm/12 inch Black Ghost Knifefish. These are VERY demanding fish. Your problem may well be that conditions were perfect while he was young, but as he's gotten
bigger, conditions have been getting steadily worse. Nitrate, for example, is one thing you might test. Anything above 20 mg/l isn't good.>
I also have 2 oversized filters on the 75 gallon tank so there is plenty of water flow and oxygen ( 2 bubblers in each tank as well). I picked up some medicine today but I couldn't find either of the ones you suggested (any idea where to find them in Ontario?) so I picked up a pack of erythromycin, would you suggest using it?
<Surely better than nothing! Outside of the US your access to antibiotics will be limited. Here in the UK aquarium antibiotics are veterinarian-only medications. We do have very good alternatives, such as eSHa 2000 for bacterial infections, and you could look for these online. Given the size and value of your fish, I'd be very tempted to call a vet. Failing that, it is possible to obtain US-market aquarium antibiotics via Amazon, eBay, etc. and have the delivered. But this will take time, and of course you'll have no idea if it's the right antibiotic for the job. A vet will be
considerably more expensive, but quicker and they'll be able to pin down the possible problems rather better.>
Or should I try to find something else? What do you suggest in terms of water changes, I've been doing 20-40% water changes every other day to try to keep water quality as good as possible, is this a good idea?
<Water changes are never a bad idea, provided water chemistry and temperature are steady. But if you're dosing medications, it's best to do water changes at least 12 hours after dosing the water, ideally 24 hours, so the medication has time to "soak into" your fish.>
The 75 gallon was cleaned the day before this all started but it was very filthy before then, (I was out of the province and my brother was supposed to take care of it, clearly he didn't very well) so I'm sure that didn't help things.
<I'm sure too.>
Also it seemed like more of a deep cut then a scratch that set it all off.
Anything else you can think of that I should be doing? Or anything that may help? Also would you suggest putting in some aquarium salt?
<Possibly, but salt isn't a magic cure-all. It reduces a bit of osmotic stress, which might help, but use sparingly, 1-2 gram/litre.>
I usually don't but people have been telling me to, saying it might help with the healing. Your thoughts?
<In all honesty, I'd call a vet, or failing that, posting a message and photos on a site like Monster Fishkeepers that specialises in these sorts of fish. Make it clear you're in Canada and don't have legal access to antibiotics.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife is rotting    3/12/16

Ok I will see what I can find for medicine and will keep researching, thank you so much for all the help and if you think of anything we may have missed let me know.
<Always a good idea to ask, state>
If he makes it ill be sure to let you know and thank you again!
<Cheers Cody. BobF>

Chocolate Ghost Knifefish - Dead... Actually A. albifrons... much reading      4/19/13
Hi guys. I've been reading your site in hopes of helping my Brown GK thrive. Unfortunately he's dead. I wanted to provide a picture so others might use it as a reference and you might help me better understand what happened. I found it very hard to find pictures of illnesses of BGK's so hopefully this is helpful. Until his last day, he wouldn't come out long enough for me to get a good picture. I was treating for Ich but now suspect he had fin rot as well, although he didn't have white on his fins, just dark brown spots that eventually fell off. He had what looked like an ulcer near his anal fin. I didn't see the rot until the last 24 hours but it could be because I couldn't get a great look at him (he hid a lot until he needed to come up for more air due to the disease). Here's what I did: Kept water to 80 - 82 degrees (I'm using a thermometer that sticks to the glass and both are "lit up") and using Kordon® Ich-Attack® 100% Natural Ich Treatment
<Am familiar, and though am a huge a fan/friend of Dr. Bob Rofen, this product isn't worthy of the co.>
twice a day in a 29 gallon tank (knowing I'd have to move him once he started to grow) with 1 rainbow shark and 3 Cory catfish. My hope is/was that I'd successfully raise them and then move them to a very large tank around 100 gallons. The reason I was treating for Ich is because I had 3 hatchet fish who had it and died.
<... simple elevation of temperature would have cured this... See/READ on WWM re>
Since the remaining fish were exposed to it, I treated the tank as a hospital tank and hoped to prevent it in all of them. In a last ditch attempt to help the BKF
<... is this a Black Ghost or a Chocolate Knife? These are different species>
I added aquarium salt slowly over the course of a day (this was yesterday). At this point I had already seen that he had a sore near his anal fin and figured it was a lost cause but he was gasping for air and I was hopeful that at least it might ease his suffering. This morning he was laying flat and the rainbow shark was trying to eat him
<Very common... minnow sharks are aggressive, opportunistic>
 so I removed him and let him die quietly (I really don't know the humane thing to do when you know it's only a matter of time for a fish - if you do, please tell me). I was doing 40% water changes every other day,
<And this system stayed cycled? Lo dudo>

about 1 hour before treating the tank so it wouldn't be diluted (I treated it twice a day with 3 tsp of ICH per directions).
<Of no use... not effective>
The PH was 8.0,
<Too high...>
<Deadly toxic at this high pH>
 Nit 2 - .25,
<As well as this>
 Nit3 5ppm. The only test for GH and KH I could find was a test strip
<Inaccurate and imprecise>
 and I got readings of 120ppm and 80ppm respectively.
<.... what? Both way too high>

 Yes, I am a newbie and I didn't properly understand the nitrogen cycle and by the time I figured that out, I had already messed up. So now I'm definitely waiting until I sort it out before getting any more fish and trying to keep what I have in good shape. I hesitate to use chemicals to right the levels
<Good; unnecessary>
and am hoping 40-50% water changes multiple times a week will help. The catfish look healthy and have no signs of Ich at this time. The rainbow shark has 3 dots and I will keep treating for at least 1 week until all spots disappear.
<Please...  stop. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichsenslvstk.htm
and the linked files above>
Everyone's behavior seems normal and peppy at this time.
My questions are: 1) Is the aquarium salt ok for helping to get any diseases under control?
<.... see WWM re. No>
 I've read conflicting reports on this and I added the dissolved salt slowly over 24 hours to avoid shocking any fish.
Everyone seems fine but I have realized that looks are deceiving. 2) Now that the BGK is gone, should I switch to a stronger ICH medicine? 3) What else can I do to get the ammonia and Nit levels down? Do you advise chemicals? Am I changing enough water or too much and is every other day too much or too little? 4. Do you have any recommendations that come to mind other than what I've asked? Thank you so much!
<Keep reading. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chocolate Ghost Knifefish - Dead     4/19/13

Thank you for your response. I am reading the FAQ but wanted to get back to you with answers. It was a Chocolate/Brown Ghost Knifefish which is partly why it was so hard to find information to treat him. Black seems to be the prevalent one, not brown. Also, I have been reading, reading, reading for hours on end and there's SO much conflicting information out there
<.... stop again. STOP! I can only account for what is on our site. Don't waste y/our time>
 and it's really challenging to trust one source as definitive but your site seems to be one of the most respected out there which is why I contacted you.
<... WWM is a recorded resource principally. No need to "contact us" in your case here>
 The reason I didn't raise the temp is because I read entries that Ghost Knifefish don't tolerate above 82.
<.... ridiculous>
 I will read and hopefully get this tank under control. Thank you so much!
<Take your time... wait till you understand what you're potentially about. Then act. BobF>

Black Knife Sick    11/26/12
Of course I'd like to start for thanking you all for taking the time to help us hopeful hobbyists keeping our pets and in a lot of cases friends alive and happy. I try to keep my information about my fish and aquaria at a constant expanding rate...
That said I don't know all that I should know.
For instance the more I read the more I realize my friends aren't all that compatible. I have a 55 gallon tank with a 4-4.5" Black ghost knife(I love this fish), 2 Golden Dojo loaches about 4-4.5", 3 Black mollies, and a Red velvet wag swordtail(female... Had another male and female unfortunately those two wandered into the Ghost knifes cave the first night). Either way I know I have compatibility issues such as the loaches like calm water where as the black knife like fast water planning to remedy this situation relatively soon, however they all seem very happy for the time being. Water is at 7.5 ph, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 10. Feed the black knife freeze dried bloodworms(which I plan on stopping after reading your site, just bought some frozen beef heart and frozen Tubifex worm). Feed the mollies and the swordtail flakes(and apparently whatever else they decide they want to munch on from the other foods). And of course some sinking pellets for the loaches(that too I have to switch.. I notice this food in particular is making them constipated: the tail floating from time to time). Anyway hopefully I'm giving you the information you need without writing too much. Here's where it started...a couple days ago I bought java fern from the LFS and didn't think anything of it to just stick
it into the tank. I'm assuming the fern was the bringing of white spot.
<Mmm, I'd use the elevated temperature, and possibly salt addition treatment here>
Noticed my BGK acting very strange he is usually out and about doing his thing, taking naps underneath this treelike canopy decoration(also his cave), but today he was kind of swimming in place behind the heater. When he moved out I noticed his swimming a little bit more lethargic and although he swims fine when he wants to he swims at a slant and sometimes sideways rubbing himself against the substrate(sand).
<Natural behavior>
Immediately I started inspecting him very closely and notice white little spots on his body...Also which is what I am quite a bit more worried about is it seems one of his little fins is feathered and wasn't sure if this was Finrot or because he was "scratching" his side. Of course with the loaches and the BGK safe medication is almost non existent so of course I started reading into the salt treatment. My problem I'm getting from this, is that there are a lot of discrepancies. I want to make sure I do anything I can to help my friends get better and overall be happy being with me. I've seen 82 - 86 degrees
<The upper limit is best... you might want to move the livebearers; treat them w/ stronger medicine elsewhere. They don't "like" extended exposure to super warm water>
which is recommended in my case(also I know to increase aeration for all my fish specifically the BGK)?
<A good idea>
 Also in terms of salt am I using marine or aquarium.
<Marine is best>
 I cant say I know the difference between the salts <Use Wiki or such... salts are any combination of metals and non-metals... NaCl, table salt, the most common; there are many kinds/types. There is/are some salts in all freshwater/s...>
 but I want to make sure I do this right. Also 50% water changes every other day correct?
<Mmm, not this much, nor likely this often... 25% or so every week... you just replace the amount of salt removed as a percentage...>
And hopefully my last concern is I have a breeder "tank".. Its this little plastic cube that uses my air pump to push my aquarium water into it... The swordtail gave me roughly 20 little presents which I plan to move to a temporary 10 gallon, but I figure I should hold off till this plague is gone.. Will the salt be more harmful for them since they are still very small (maybe a week or so) because I figure they are also contaminated as well.
<Can't say whether they're weakened or not here already. If so, medicines, salt/s might be deleterious>
 Hopefully I didn't miss any information that was vital.. And hopefully you can understand this, since it's fairly late here but I wanted to get this sent before tomorrow so I know what to buy.
Thank you SO much for the help you are all great!!
<You've likely read here, but if not, do so:
and peruse the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick Black Ghost Knife after Ich Treatment, mistakes in stkg., trtmt   3/20/12
I have ready many of the emails on your site thus far and have found it very informative. However, I feel my situation may be a bit different. My significant other and I bought an established 55 gallon tank 2 weeks ago.
Remaining inhabitants from original tank included: black ghost knife and Cory catfish. (The previous owners sold many fish before selling the rest of the tank) Both fish were doing well. Temperature is kept near 77F.
Ammonia and nitrates were normal per water analysis at local pet store 3 days ago. pH was a bit high, so we did a 15 gallon water change and added 5tbsp aquarium salt.
<Mmm, Apteronotids don't "like" salts>

I am a beginner at fishkeeping and rely heavily on the internet unfortunately.
<Some sites better than others...>
Many fish have been added to the tank in the last 2 weeks (more than I think should have been): 4 Danios, 1 silver dollar, 1 silvertip catfish,
<... is this a/the
a brackish to marine species >

1 dojo loach, 1 blue Gourami, 1 algae eater.
<Not Gyrinocheilus I hope/trust>

All was going well until yesterday. White spots were noticed on the silver dollar. We rushed because we know Ich is fatal
<Can be...>
and we added Ich treatment (formalin and malachite green)
<Too toxic for the cats, knife and likely the dollar>

 yesterday. We lowered the water level to increase agitation from the filter and we lowered the aerator. I feel adding the chemicals was a mistake.
<You'd be right>

 Today, the BGK has a white, shimmery film over his body and he is weak (laying on the bottom, not hiding). I did an immediate 60% water change and added more salt.
 Is there any way I can remedy what we've done?
<Add activated carbon in the filter/flow path, raise temperature to 86 F.
or so... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
 I know now from your site that we should have tried heat/salt first. I feel awful as my inexperience has caused the likely death of a beautiful fish. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you
<Perhaps a good general FW aquarium book... No more blind stocking. Bob Fenner>
re: Sick Black Ghost Knife after Ich Treatment  3/21/12

Thank you so much for your quick reply and for your recommendations. Are there any specific FW aquarium books you would suggest?
<See Neale's input here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bksfwbrneale.htm
Yes, that is the same silvertip and the same algae eater. I sense they are not appropriate for our tank. Is this correct?
<Poor choices for the reasons you were referred to search. Do so. BobF>
Thank you,

Black Ghost Knife Fish is Sick   4/23/2011
We added a BGKF to our community tank 2 weeks ago. Specs on the tank. 46 gallons, 2 mollies, 5 fancy Danios, 3 glow fish, 1 power blue Gourami, and we had added a rubber lipped Pleco at the same time as the BGKF. 4 days ago I notice his bottom fin was starting to look frayed. Then I noticed he was acting strange. Sort of digging in the sand while vertical but spinning in circles erratically the entire time. This went on for hours.
It looked like he was having trouble directing himself properly. Almost like there was a strong current pushing him around, but there wasn't. I checked the water and the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were higher than normal. The reading was of the nitrates was 2, and the ammonia and nitrites were a little high, but not excessive. I did a water change went to work came home and he was still acting crazy spinning in circles erratically. I did another water change and when I woke up in the morning he was on the filter. I turned the filter off and he floated/swam to shelter. I fed the others he seemed like he was trying to eat then the others started eating what he was trying to get to and were sort of pushing him around. I decided it was time for the hospital tank so he could rest and eat in peace since he was still acting like a dying fish. He has been in the hospital tank by himself for 3 days now and yesterday he started to bend in one direction the front and he just lays on the bottom half bent.
I have even checked at night and he isn't doing anything. He hasn't been eating either so I had to take frozen blood worms and rub them against his mouth until he took them, but he would only eat 2. I also noticed it looks like he has some sort of clear stringy goo coming off of him. I can barely see it, but it's there. I don't see any Ick, but from research that doesn't necessarily mean it's not there. I am keeping the hospital tank at 81 F and I don't have a filter as I don't want him suck against it again so I have been adding water via the Brita pitcher to keep it clean because it seems to be clouding up very easily despite there being no food. All of the food I am adding I am hand feeding so if it doesn't get eaten it doesn't stay. I haven't added any meds because it appears there are no good additives for these fish. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it. I have been scouring the web for 4 days now and nothing appears to be fitting the symptoms and you site seems to be the most thorough and knowledgeable. Perhaps this is just a wait and see situation, but as it has been a week and he hasn't kicked the bucket yet I figure I am either doing something right or just drawing out his agony.
Jessica = )
<Hello Jessica. You need to get this BGK out of the "hospital" tank at once! You cannot keep a fish like this -- or really any fish -- in an unfiltered aquarium. As you may or may not know, Brita water filters are simply carbon filters, albeit massively expensive ones. They don't clean the water in any meaningful way, though some people think they improve the taste. In any case, in strictly scientific terms, all the Brita water filter is doing is filtering tap water through carbon, thereby removing most organic and some inorganic impurities. Once the water is in the aquarium it may as well be plain tap water for all the difference it'll make. Without a filter your BGK will be incredibly stressed. These fish MUST have zero ammonia and nitrite at all times. You're also keeping your BGK much too warm; 25 C/77 F is the tops for these! They come from quite deep water around waterfalls and rapids, and do not like still water or high temperatures. In fact many, perhaps most, BGKs kept in community tanks die precisely because of this. The conditions they need are very different to those enjoyed by things like Angels and Gouramis that want warm, slow-moving water. Now, it's very hard to say precisely what's killing your BGK, but there are a few things to consider. The first is lack of water circulation and oxygen. Water turnover rate must be high, 8 times the volume of the tank per hour at minimum, and ideally more than that, perhaps 10 x. Next up, nitrate levels should be low, less than 20 mg/l, and ammonia and nitrite have to be zero. Water chemistry isn't critical but hard water should be avoided if possible. Certainly do not add salt on a routine basis. Copper and formalin are extremely toxic to BGKs, so do not ever use medications in the tank unless you are 100% sure copper and formalin are not in the medications. Also treat with deep suspicion any organic dyes (such as Malachite Green) and most salts (such as Potassium Permanganate).
If you must medicate, use either salt (fine on a short term basis) or antibiotics. Starvation is an extremely common problem with BGKs. Other poisons can include paint fumes in the air, cleaning sprays used in the room that got squirted into the tank by accident, and so on. BGKs prefer wet-frozen, fresh, and live foods. Some specimens take flake and pellets, but don't bank on it, and either away, don't assume your specimen is/was feeding without actually seeing it do so. As always with carnivores, offering a variety of foods is crucial, especially if you use mostly crustaceans (brine shrimp, daphnia, shrimp, prawn) as these tend to be high in Thiaminase that causes serious health problems in the long term. In order of likelihood, the most common reasons BGKs die are poor water quality, starvation, and poisoning. Cheers, Neale.>

I think my Black Ghost Knife Fish is sick   3/18/11
I have a four inch black ghost knife fish in a 55 gallon tank with four angel fish, he's been in there for four months. Two weeks ago, I added three German Blue Rams.
<Mmm, water conditions? Microgeophagus really need quite warm and soft water...>
After one of those died, I added 12 neon tetras to the tank a few days ago. It was to be expected that the black ghost, who used to come out every night to be handfed, stuck to his hiding cave 24/7 to keep away from the tetras.
<Mmm, no... the Angels and the Apteronotid will eat the Neons in time>
However, after another blue ram died (probably stress related, you know how rams can be), I noticed that I hadn't even seen him come out for two days, I had been feeding him his daily beef heart at the mouth of his cave every night.
So, I decided to coax him out of his cave to make sure he was doing all right. What I noticed immediately was the red dot on the very tip of his tail. It is not a blood red, but red nonetheless.
<Does happen w/ this, these (the family) species. Not necessarily indicative of a dire condition>
Three days ago, when he came out, he was fine and dandy. Now he's lethargic, extra shy, and apparently has some sort of disease or something.
I went into mild panic mode.
<A bad to dangerous state for an aquarist>
I took the only ram still alive out and put him in a twenty gallon tank with a male Betta, I was planning on doing that anyway so it wasn't a huge deal. I spent an hour catching the twelve tetras and putting them in an already fully stocked twenty gallon (just for the night, I plan on returning them tomorrow). Now the tank is back to the way it was for months, the ghost and the four angel fish.
I am hoping that this is all stress related from the extra fish, and that it will get better once he settles back into the daily routine. However, what can I do to help him. I was given several types of Ich medication from a friend, none of which I've ever used. I have Melafix, as well as aquarium salt.
<I would not use any of these... for reasons stated over and over on WWM>
I am willing to buy different medication as well. I do know, however, that black ghosts don't do well with medications or aquarium salt so I would prefer to not have to go that route.
Please help! It's way too easy to become obsessively attached to something that eats out of your fingers everyday, I would do just about anything for that fish.
Thank you!
<"Just" patience here... take your time; no medication. Bob Fenner>

update after my move. BGK, Aquarisol use   3/13/11
Hi again,
Sorry, another question came up after the move. Ok so I have moved and been here for a few weeks now. The "getting the tank set up didn't go exactly as planned. I had a new stand that I bought for the tank to start using AFTER the move as the tank was always on a huge desk. I didn't realize till the truck was loaded that the stand was one of the first things loaded onto the truck. So I had to wait for the entire truck to be off loaded. I know, I screwed that one up. I did a partial water change before emptying the tank. Then when I emptied the tank into buckets to hold the fish I saved about 10 to 12 gallons of water. By the time I set the tank up with the water and heater and then filled the rest of the tank with about 26 gallons of drinking water from the store.(So I had a total of about 38 gallons) at the new house. I waited as long as I thought I could but the temp was only up to about 70 in the tank if that. Went to bed fearing but crossing my fingers. Next morning I woke up the temp was at 78 degrees and all my fish were still alive. I was actually amazed. And happy. Fast forward about 3 weeks later. I noticed my black ghost scraping back and forth on a log his sides looking not like a growth but white like if you or I scratch our arm with our nails when scratching an itch. I tested the water with API liquid tester. Read the ammonia read .50 to 1(so I thought now that I look back on it). The nitrites were at 0 and the Nitrates about 20.I went to my LFS he said sounded like tank cycling got screwed up and to do a partial water change(he says normally he would say not to he)and he gave me Aquari sol,
<Mmm, no! This is (nowadays) a copper salt solution (in the olde days silver)... too toxic for your Knife>
and said to follow the directions but to half dose.
<Thank goodness>
I did the water change and the Aquari sol. Bought fresh API liquid ammonia and nitrate testers. So, now a day after the water change(because it is today that I actually bought the test kit)Ammonia reads 0 on the new ammonia tester and I re-tested along side with the old ammonia tester bottle. which also reads 0.And this now confuses me. Being A. Because I may have read the ammonia wrong the first time and it didn't actually have the cycle out of whack. B. The cycle WAS out of whack and it recouped that quick.(which seems weird cause wouldn't the nitrites then go up next?
<Yes; though could have quickly cycled, this part been precycled>
Nitrites are still at 0. and, after that partial water change the nitrates that were previously at 20 before the water change are now between 40 and 80 on the nitrate card, a day after the water change. Is that even possible?
<Is and is too high>
or C. Maybe my OLD nitrate tester is out of whack. Hmm I hope I didn't leave anything out on this.
Thanks again.
<Water changes and reading... on WWM re NO3. BobF>

Black Ghost Behaving Oddly... poisoned  - 2/9/11
Hi Guys.
<And gals Marcel>
Does anyone know why my Black Ghost is behaving like this? It's going around and around on broad daylight. Normally it stays hidden in the plants or under some rock and only comes out when it's dark. But now, it's going around in circles.
<Sounds like some sort of metal presence... either decor, perhaps the heater, maybe a thermometer or other ferrous metal in contact w/ the water. This, and/or some other toxin/irritant>
It seems to have a scratch or peeled coating on the side of its body.
It was recently hit by a bad case of the Ich. It has only been 4 days since he was cleared of white spots. I treated the white spot breakout with Mebendazole, Metronidazole, salt and heated water successfully. The Black Ghost was still healthy after the treatment and then I had a 50% water change and added half a dose of Angel Drops StressOut. And then it started acting like this.
<... Angel Drops? This line from the PI?: http://geocities.ws/angeldropstrading/
doesn't list ingredients. I would NOT use>
All the other fishes seems to be acting normally. It has been 2 days since the water change and Black Ghost acting this way. I just made another 50% water change today.
<I would add carbon>
Watch the video here: http://www.singleshutter.com/index61.htm
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Black Ghost Knife Problems  9/21/10
Dear Crew,
I have a BGK that is in serious trouble. I have had him for about a month now in a 40 gallon tank with a few other fish. The tanks water levels are great.
<Test values please>
For the last two weeks my BGK has been getting what looks like Protozoan Parasites. One day he is fine and the next just covered. I have been treating him with Quick Cure
<Yikes... very toxic... I would not expose this or other Knifefishes, scale-less fishes to formalin. Do please read on WWM re treatments. Very likely, if the other livestock can/will tolerate it, elevated temperature
alone will rid the system of parasitic Protozoans>
but its not getting rid of the problem. Now he is getting tired I'm guessing and has been "laying down" he is still eating and will get up and move around. I got home today and its the worst it has been, its chunky
white and grey stuff now. What do I do? Also none of the other fish are being affected by this and so I'm scared to keep treating the whole tank.
Please help fast, I don't want to lose him!
Thank you so much
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bgkdis.htm
and write back if you have questions, concerns. Bob Fenner>

White Furry Growth on Black Ghost Knife Hello Web Wet Media Crews, Happy New Year. "Houston", we have a problem! My 16cm Black Ghost Knife is covered with furry white "slim/growth" all over its body, including its eyes. At first I thought it was body fungus <You are right it is fungus.  It's a true fungus that attacks the outer layers of the fish. Fungus prefers cool temperatures, acidic conditions, so check the temp of the tank and what the pH levels are at.> used "OCEAN FREE" medication. I have no idea what it contains but it turned the water really green. <Not sure what actually does turn it green, but it's suppose to do that.> I did a partial water change. I increased the water temperature from around 26 or so to 32 Degree Celsius. <Make sure you medicate the exact way the package tells you to do so, doing water changes during treatment simply removes the medicine already in the tank.> My BGK fish stopped fishing and rest on the bottom of the tank for the whole 3 days. When I used an object to lightly scrape its body, the whiter furry things is easily peeled off. <It's best not to physically scrape the fish, you run the risk of scraping the fish, damaging it skin, or bothering what's left of it's protective slime coating.  If you should scrape the fish, the bacteria can get deeper into the fishes skin causing more problems.> This happened quite often. What seems to be the problem? Is it a fungus growth, water conditions or other ailments? <The fish has true body, mouth and eye fungus, a fungus infection -- treat with MarOxy. Use Maracyn-Two or Maracyn or Tetracycline or TriSulfa to prevent secondary infections.> You guys have provided me with many valuable tips that keep my fish surviving till now. I hope you can help me with this again. Many thanks.    <Hope that helps.  I hope your knife gets better! -Magnus> <<Malachite green is likely the ingredient in the medication that turned the water green.  Malachite green is toxic to ghost knives, for future reference.  -SCF>>

Re: White Furry Growth on Black Ghost Knife. Passed Away Hey Magnus. Just a few minutes I sent you a reply, my fish passed away. <I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.  It is a very sad thing when we lose pets we cared for.> Nevertheless, I would like to thank you and the whole crew for the help. <I'm just sad that I was unable to help you save your fish.  But remember we are hear to help you, so ask a question anytime.> 1 more question.... can I bury my fish in my flowerpots? Is it safe to do that? <You would need to have a large flowerpot, and you run the risk of having loads of bugs and such coming into you flowerpots after the body of the fish.> Will the disease be spread to the plants? <Fungus can spread to the roots of certain plants provided the soil is acidic and moist.  I really would worry that the decomposition will affect the pH of the soil and hurt the plants.  I would probably dispose of the body in a different way.> What is the best moral ethnical way to dispose one's beloved died sick fish? <With large fish I have actually buried them in the back yard.  Please don't take offense to third, if you have no yard, you could always seal it in a multiple bags and simply deposit it in the trash. some people became far to attached to do that to the fish, and would hate to "throw them away".  I would try and find a place to bury it if you want, rather than throwing it away.  A park or some other area would be better than your flowerpots.   I'm sorry to hear of your fishes passing, I do hope that you know that you had done your best to care for it.  -Magnus>

Black Ghost Knifefish sensitivity Crew - To my eternal shame, and by neglecting quarantine, I have killed the Black Ghost Knife that lived with my discus, angels and L-numbers.  I neglected QT and got Whitespot in the tank.  Got reliable treatment, and halved the dose as I knew knifes, like L-numbers and clown loaches (there' one of those in there too), put in med for whole tank.  Well knifes are a lot more sensitive than I thought.  Checked back an hour later, all looks ok.  2 hours later knife is not looking good, move to another tank FAST, 3 hours later dead.    Lesson one - QT Lesson two - QT for sure if you can't treat the tank because of sensitive organisms >>Wayne, sorry to hear of your loss. Out of curiosity, which medication did you use? Some meds are stronger than others, and some have completely different active ingredients. I have treated black ghost knives with Super Ich Cure and higher temps, at half dosage, with good results. Which fish introduced the Ich? And how long were the ghosts in your tank? I agree that anyone keeping discus should quarantine all new fish. It's a sensible thing to do :) -Gwen

Black Ghost Knifefish and meds  Gwen -  JBL Ektol, which has proven pretty effective for external parasites in the past, but has to be watched as it can/will kill your filter. I usually add  half a dose and watch carefully, but not carefully enough this time.  The source - blue rams, introduced several weeks before.  Royal Panaque, Bristlenoses, L-33 and clown loach all fine. But the timing  tells me it must have been the meds. Symptoms were fish just became less active, hid, was obviously distressed.  Wayne  >>Wayne: Hi again. I am unfamiliar with JBL Ektol. What are the ingredients listed on the bottle? There are anti-parasitic meds out there that won't harm your biofilter, at least, not a complete kill-off. I know some meds like malachite green/Formalin mixes can, but only in new set-ups where the biofilter is not mature enough to withstand a bit of abuse. In established tanks, there should be NO noticeable bacterial die-offs. I would assume that the JBL product is a bit strong, perhaps too strong for the more sensitive fish, if it is capable of killing the biofilter I would be leery of using it at all...what were your ammonia/nitrite readings after the treatment? -Gwen<<
Black Ghost Knifefish and meds - 2 lessons learnt the hard way
Hi Gwen - according to www.jbl.de..... it doesn't say. I should have stuck to the advice 'if you don't know what it is, don't put it in your tank'. I'd rather have used punktol, but I've found this to be pretty ineffective at reduced doses (as I required) in the past. Ektol is a general parasiticide (?), bactericide... Ammonia, nitrite were fine afterwards - I'd expected some hit? <<Yes, but it can take a couple of days, so check your ammonia again after a day or three, just to be sure. I will try to find some info on this product, but at any rate, we know it doesn't work well on BGK's... :( -Gwen 

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: