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FAQs on Characoids/Tetras & Relatives Disease Diagnosis

FAQs on Characoid Disease: Characoid Disease 1, Characoid Disease 2, Characoid Disease 3,
FAQs on Characoid Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional, Infectious, Parasitic, Social, Treatments

Related Articles: Characoids/Tetras & Relatives,

Related FAQs:  Characoids/Tetras & Relatives, Characoid Identification, Characoid Behavior, Characoid Compatibility, Characoid Selection, Characoid Systems, Characoid Feeding, Characoid Reproduction,

 

Completely cycled... soft/er, acidic water; frequent partial water changes... no more than 20 ppm of nitrate

 

Help with neon tetra      6/15/17
<12 megs; groan....>
Dear Crew at Wet Web Media,
Tank - 100 liter
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 15, GH 10, KH 7, PH 7.5
8 cherry barb, 8 emperor tetra, 7 neon tetra, 2 phantom tetra
Fluval external canister filter, internal air driven sponge filter.
I have previously kept a 50 liter tank and decided to move to a 100 liter about 6 months ago. I quarantined all fish for 6 weeks and tank was cycled from the start as I used media from old tank.
After about a month in the main tank, one of the Neons developed a white lump on both sides of the tail on the red part. These grew very slowly for about a month and another smaller lump developed on its side, closer to the middle of its body. Once or twice one of the lumps seemed to exude a white substance which then went after a day or two but the lump remained. Otherwise the fish swam, ate and behaved normally. Eventually, the lumps got wider and the fish started to have trouble breathing but was still trying to eat etc. I decided to euthanise with clove oil. This was a week ago. Just today, I noticed another neon has developed a small but telltale white lump in the same red pigmented area. I don't know what to do as I have no idea what it is. Fungus, Columnaris, neon tetra disease,
<This likely: Pleistophora hyphessobryconis>
I've looked them all up but none of them really fit. Because of this I did not medicate as it seemed like I was firing in the dark. If you have any advice or just a hunch as to what it could be I would really appreciate it.
The worst thing is that it doesn't really fit any one disease That are common to neon tetra.
<See here as an example:
http://www.theaquariumguide.com/articles/neon-tetra-disease
Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with neon tetra      6/16/17
Hello,
<Vic>
Thank you for your quick reply.
<Welcome>
Could I just ask you, if it is Neon Tetra Disease, can it infect my other fish, being cherry barb, emperor and phantom tetra?
<Unfortunately, yes. More likely the other Tetras, but the Barbs as well>
Also, I assumed it was a very fast acting disease, killing the fish quickly, so in my case can the disease be chronic, and take over a month to kill the fish?
<At times; yes>
Many thanks,
Vicki
<As many welcomes. BobF>

Ember Tetra black spots      12/29/16
Dear WWM,
Season's Greetings and best wishes for a happy 2017. Thanks for the awesome job you keep doing.
<And thanks for the kind words.>
The attached image is of a few of my Ember Tetras of a group of 11 that have been living happily for about 1.5 years in a heavily planted 29 gallon. Tank is it its 6th year. Quick question: any idea what those black spots/marks along the lateral line of the biggest fish signify? Or are they more likely to be deposits internally along the spine? I do not have a
microscope so cannot sample a tissue scrape.
<They have the speckled, regular appearance of melanophores rather than sharp black spots or cysts. So my assumption here is that they're part of the fish rather than a parasite. Why is more difficult to answer! Sometimes melanophores change colour for normal, such as sexual, reasons. Sometimes fish turn the melanophores up or down because of ambient conditions such as lighting (Moonlight Gouramis famously have a black band that appears only under dim lighting). Sometimes they get 'jammed' in an unusual state by damage to the nerves. Sometimes they're simply different because of
genetics, whether a mutation in this particular Ember tetra or because this isn't actually a typical Ember tetra but an example of a related species or hybrid. Bottom line, if the fish is behaving normally, I wouldn't worry.>
Tank has other tetras, Corys, a pair of Agassizzis, a Pearl Gourami and a pair of Bristle Nose Pleco
High nitrates >40 ppm, pH 6.5, TDS 180 ish, 30 percent water change weekly.
Fed Hikari Micro Pellets, Tetra pellets, Ocean Nutrition Spirulina and brine shrimp flakes, NLS Thera A and occasionally freeze dried blood and Tubifex worms.
Tank has had episodes of what was diagnosed as NTD in Neons and Black Neons and affected fishes euthanized as per your suggestion.
<Probably wise.>
Should mention that I add 4 ml 2 percent Glutaraldehyde daily to augment CO2.
Any input will be most be most helpful.
Have a great year-end and thanks again,
Regards
Devakalpa
<And to you, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ember Tetra black spots      12/30/16
Dear Neale,
Thanks for the super fast and clarifying reply. I'll let things be, but keep a watchful eye - my favourite approach to the hobby.
Regards
Devakalpa
<Glad to have helped! Good luck, Neale.> 

Tetras with white mouths (and a bit about rosy barbs)       3/19/15
Hi Crew,
I'd like to thank you once more for your previous advice, last time I wrote about a suspected case of Ich which is now resolved. I've had no more fish deaths since losing the last of the extra rosy barbs that I bought from the LFS, sadly Pinkie succumbed to his saddle ulcer in the end. I had him quarantined for the last week or so of his time, and whatever he had does not seem to have affected the rest of my fish. I still see the occasional white or clear stringy droppings from the rosy barbs but I am starting to suspect this is a result of them accidentally ingesting sand then excreting it in mucus as there are plenty of green and brown droppings too and they all seem healthy otherwise.
<Mmmm; what re water quality, foods/feeding, maintenance practices?>
Currently my 30gal tank has one head and tail light tetra, three adult rosy barbs, and all 16 of the barb offspring (ranging from 1cm to 2.5cm). I'm aware that this will be far too many rosy barbs when they grow up so I'm hoping to find a home for them in the big aquarium at work which currently only has a single small fancy (ugly) goldfish.
<Should be moved elsewhere>
I'm not sure that this will be a compatible mix though since even if 5+ barbs are added to keep them well behaved and not nippy, I think they might dominate at feeding time due to being more able-bodied and they might starve out the goldfish. Thoughts?
<All should get along w/ the GF removed>
The other option I have in mind is to set up better filtering in the backyard pond and to put some back out there. A lone
stray barb fry survived 2 weeks out there during the hottest part of summer, he was too good at hiding and got left behind when I brought the others that had hatched out there inside, so I think the pond does get enough shade to
keep the temperature down. Winters here are mild too.
<Good... barbs might live there; but not the Tetras likely in the winter>
With the threat of ich and columnaris gone I have bought four more head and tail light tetras to keep my singleton Mr. Beacon company.
<Good name>
I've been trialing different plants in the main tank and do intend to keep it heavily planted (despite the best efforts of the barbs to eat/uproot everything, I've been finding this constant battle part of the fun of keeping fish) so I am hoping the HATL tetras will be happy in the environment. The LFS does not stock these tetras so I bought them online and besides, I hoped to
avoid a known source of diseased fish. When they got here, two of them had white coloured patches on their mouths, and one of them was very sickly, limp and skinny looking.
<I see this in your excellent pix>
My initial thoughts were that they may have scuffed their mouths against the plastic bag in transit, or gotten feisty with each other since they were all together in the one small bag, and gotten injured while fighting. The bag wasn't a breather bag and the skinny fish did perk up once out of the bag and in quarantine, he hides a bit but his appetite seems okay and his belly is filling out a bit more; he could have been underfed or oxygen starved maybe but I'm a little suspicious that he could have fish TB or some other disease that could cause skinniness. I've treated them with Praziquantel so far just in case they were skinny due to worms.
<Mmm; possibly>
I'm using the tank that the baby fish used to be in, the tetras have been in quarantine for a week now and I think that in two of them the white mark has gotten smaller but noticed today that a third one has a white mouth too. I'm a little worried it could be columnaris not a wound, or a wound that got infected with columnaris.
<Maybe>
I've attached some pictures, and also a picture of one of the friends I got for the false penguin tetra (they have their own tank now due to being too rough!) who has a similar mark. I don't know if it is just that these tetras fight or swim into things a lot; the quarantine tank that the four HATL tetras are in is too small and I know they aren't happy with the amount of space they have. I'm wary of treating with anything beyond a little bit of salt for now
<Good>
and I'm just hoping after another week or two in quarantine nothing will have worsened and I can get them into the bigger tank. Anyway I just don't have the experience to tell whether these white mouthed fish are injured or diseased or both. Hope you can help.
<Not w/ the data (or lack of it) provided>
I did end up getting a RO/filter system which has a mixer tap and a TDS inline meter allowing adjustment for both drinking water and aquarium water. I still don't quite have my head around converting TDS ppm to general hardness degrees - I did read somewhere that dividing ppm by 10 will loosely approximate French degrees but then I don't know whether French or German degrees are more commonly used.
<German... the D in these measures is for "Deutschen">
I haven't had any further shrimp deaths due to failed moults since I've started using 50-70ppm water for my shrimp tank so it's definitely helping. I'm wondering whether I should still be letting my RO-mix change water stand before I use it;
<Yes I would... at least a day; better, a week>

I haven't been, because I thought that it was only necessary to allow time for water treatment chemicals to do their work but is letting water stand useful for other reasons?
<Mmm; yes.... settling, combination.... of metals, non-metals... outgassing of undesirable gasses>
I have a 20lt plastic jerry can which I store the water in, this doesn't allow much exposure to atmosphere so should this
water be agitated? Or just tipped into buckets?
<Tipped is fine, aeration/circulation better>
Ok sorry this got to be a lot longer than I originally intended! I really appreciate the time you take with educating new hobbyists like me and reading our rambling emails.
<We appreciate the opportunity to interchange w/ intelligent, sensitive folk like you>
I've still got a lot of reading that I want to do regarding Corydoras as I have decided I'd like a biotope tank rather
than putting them in the community and making them compete with greedy barbs, and I think it would be easier to manage water softness and ph if I start again and do things differently in a new tank.
Thanks once again and I hope you have a great day.
Bronwen
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>



 

Re: Tetras with white mouths (and a bit about rosy barbs)      3/20/15    /Neale
With regards to the barbs occasional odd dropping, they are fed once daily or twice if I don't have time to watch them in the morning. If I am in a hurry they get a quick pinch of flake and then I take a bit more time in the evening feed to watch how much they are eating.
<Fine. Barbs are omnivores that will eat algae, some plant matter between "proper" meals.>
I have some frozen community blocks which contain both meaty and plant materials, I usually give this two to three times a week (slicing off a small amount and feeding little by little trying to avoid over feeding). I have some Spirulina sinking pellets (also contains other ingredients) that I bought for the shrimp but proved to be very popular with the barbs, they will carry the pellets around spitting them out and sucking them up again, gradually working on them until they soften up.
<Quite so, and an excellent staple for your fish... good nutrition, plenty of exercise, economical. My Cherry Barbs are fed these alongside the Limia they cohabit with.>
I crush some up for the younger fish but they seem to manage okay on full sized pellets, worrying at them until they break into smaller bits. I have some meatier pellets, with a higher protein content but they are not as popular so I don't feed those very often.
<Indeed. These fish are omnivores, and plant material is a significant part of the diet of most/all barbs in the wild.>
They get smushed up frozen peas, thawed and peeled, every few days which they love. If I find a patch of snail eggs I will knock it off the glass and the female adult barb in particular loves munching on those.
Occasionally I net some mosquito larva from either the pond or the snail tub and these make a popular snack.
<Sure.>
I believe they have eaten some of the Ramshorn snails that were in their tank, there are a growing number of empty shells visible on the bottom, and they definitely rip at the Java moss, Hydrilla, Rotala, and Hydrocotyle plants constantly. I'm pretty sure they ate 90% of the fissidens moss I added too, and almost all of the hair grass is gone too now that I think
about it. I was worried at first that they were doing this because I wasn't feeding them enough but they were still doing it when I tried feeding them twice a day which I decided was too much. I think if they like eating fresh plants then they should be allowed to eat fresh plants so I've been growing more Hydrilla in a tank outside for them since that's the one they stripped to bare stems first of all.
<Indeed. Try floating Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit, two favourites with many barbs.>
I don't often see the tetra eat, he hangs back while the barbs feed so I always attempt to get a pinch of flake to his part of the tank. He doesn't like me scrutinising him though and moves front on so that he's hard to see. He does get interested in the frozen food and will test and spit out various particles of it until he finds one that he likes, I'm hoping he gets a bit more confidence once his fellow tetras join him, I've been feeding them a small amount of flake daily and they get quite excited at feeding time so I think in a group his instincts will kick in if he sees a lot of feeding action going on around him.
<Tetras are frequently more carnivorous, especially the smaller ones Neons, Penguins, various Hyphessobrycon species and so on. They often enjoy Daphnia and the like. On the other hand, do bear in mind some tetras are much more retiring than Barbs. Put another way, many South American tetras come from blackwater streams with very little productivity. They've evolved to expend as little energy as possible between meals. Barbs typically come from ponds and streams with much more productivity and a lot more for them to eat. They've evolved to be more "busy" and expend their energy in all sorts of foraging and social behaviours. In other words, tetras wait for food to come to them, while barbs seek it out and if necessary push competitors away. Funnily enough, those barbs from blackwater streams (like Pentazona Barbs) are much more like Neons and other tetras in personality.
In any event, if you understand the environment the barb or tetra species come from, cohabiting different species from among them will work better.
Tiger Barbs are bolshy, so mixing with pushy characins like Black Widows makes sense. Rosy Barbs are subtropical to boot, so you'd choose only low-end tropical tetras for life with them, perhaps Buenos Aires Tetras.
Does this make sense?>
I haven't measured my water parameters for a while but for a long time I was getting pH steady at 8 (despite driftwood and almond leafs) ammonia 0, nitrite 0 and nitrate 5-10. I do weekly water changes and fortnightly rinses of the gunk from the filter. I try weekly to vacuum the gravel in the gravelly parts of the tank and skim the surface of the sand in the sandy parts of the tank but I don't know how effective a job I do. I always see gunk being sucked up the tube but everything looks even messier than when I started once I've tipped the new water in.
<Sounds good. Cheers, Neale.>

Tetras with white mouths (and a bit about rosy barbs)    /Neale        3/21/15
Hi Crew,
I'd like to thank you once more for your previous advice, last time I wrote about a suspected case of Ich which is now resolved. I've had no more fish deaths since losing the last of the extra rosy barbs that I bought from the LFS, sadly Pinkie succumbed to his saddle ulcer in the end. I had him quarantined for the last week or so of his time, and whatever he had does not seem to have affected the rest of my fish. I still see the occasional white or clear stringy droppings from the rosy barbs but I am starting to suspect this is a result of them accidentally ingesting sand then excreting it in mucus as there are plenty of green and brown droppings too and they all seem healthy otherwise.
<Smooth silica sand should be fine... but anything abrasive or sharp, like some of the glass-byproduct sands (Tahitian Moon Sand for example) could be risky.>
Currently my 30gal tank has one head and tail light tetra, three adult rosy barbs, and all 16 of the barb offspring (ranging from 1cm to 2.5cm). I'm aware that this will be far too many rosy barbs when they grow up so I'm hoping to find a home for them in the big aquarium at work which currently only has a single small fancy (ugly) goldfish. I'm not sure that this will
be a compatible mix though since even if 5+ barbs are added to keep them well behaved and not nippy, I think they might dominate at feeding time due to being more able-bodied and they might starve out the goldfish. Thoughts?
<It can work, in big tanks with robust Comet-type Goldfish and decent sized schools of Rosy Barbs. But fancy Goldfish are less able to keep out of trouble. It really isn't predictable. Worth trying but keep a Plan B in case it doesn't work out.>
The other option I have in mind is to set up better filtering in the backyard pond and to put some back out there. A lone stray barb fry survived 2 weeks out there during the hottest part of summer, he was too good at hiding and got left behind when I brought the others that had hatched out there inside, so I think the pond does get enough shade to keep the temperature down. Winters here are mild too.
<Rosy Barbs are subtropical and could thrive down to about 15 C, but below that would be risky.>
With the threat of ich and columnaris gone I have bought four more head and tail light tetras to keep my singleton Mr. Beacon company. I've been trialing different plants in the main tank and do intend to keep it heavily planted (despite the best efforts of the barbs to eat/uproot everything, I've been finding this constant battle part of the fun of keeping fish) so I am hoping the HATL tetras will be happy in the environment. The LFS does not stock these tetras so I bought them online
and besides, I hoped to avoid a known source of diseased fish. When they got here, two of them had white coloured patches on their mouths, and one of them was very sickly, limp and skinny looking. My initial thoughts were that they may have scuffed their mouths against the plastic bag in transit, or gotten feisty with each other since they were all together in the one
small bag, and gotten injured while fighting. The bag wasn't a breather bag and the skinny fish did perk up once out of the bag and in quarantine, he hides a bit but his appetite seems okay and his belly is filling out a bit more; he could have been underfed or oxygen starved maybe but I'm a little suspicious that he could have fish TB or some other disease that could
cause skinniness. I've treated them with Praziquantel so far just in case they were skinny due to worms.
<Fish TB is difficult to diagnose and impossible to treat. It's less contagious and more like an epidemic that breaks out when fish get stressed (diet, poor water quality, lack of oxygen, etc.). So I tend not to worry about Fish TB but instead focus on optimising living conditions for the fish. Usually "mystery deaths" either sort themselves out or else all the vulnerable fish die. Adding medications randomly is a bit hit and miss, and while PraziPro isn't particularly risky, do be careful about medicating
without diagnosis.>
I'm using the tank that the baby fish used to be in, the tetras have been in quarantine for a week now and I think that in two of them the white mark has gotten smaller but noticed today that a third one has a white mouth too. I'm a little worried it could be columnaris not a wound, or a wound that got infected with columnaris. I've attached some pictures, and also a picture of one of the friends I got for the false penguin tetra (they have their own tank now due to being too rough!) who has a similar mark. I don't know if it is just that these tetras fight or swim into things a lot; the quarantine tank that the four HATL tetras are in is too small and I know they aren't happy with the amount of space they have. I'm wary of treating
with anything beyond a little bit of salt for now and I'm just hoping after another week or two in quarantine nothing will have worsened and I can get them into the bigger tank. Anyway I just don't have the experience to tell whether these white mouthed fish are injured or diseased or both. Hope you can help.
<Well, the photos look more like fighting damage, perhaps a bit of Finrot or Columnaris thrown in. Another option: swimming into solid objects (like the glass) when alarmed. So for this one turn the lights on more carefully and see what happens. So far as fighting goes, watch your fish, add more of each species to dilute aggression (if an option) and medicate as per Finrot and Columnaris.>
I did end up getting a RO/filter system which has a mixer tap and a TDS inline meter allowing adjustment for both drinking water and aquarium water. I still don't quite have my head around converting TDS ppm to general hardness degrees - I did read somewhere that dividing ppm by 10 will loosely approximate French degrees but then I don't know whether French or German degrees are more commonly used. I haven't had any further shrimp deaths due to failed moults since I've started using 50-70ppm water for my shrimp tank so it's definitely helping. I'm wondering whether I should still be letting my RO-mix change water stand before I use it; I haven't been, because I thought that it was only necessary to allow time for water treatment chemicals to do their work but is letting water stand useful for other reasons? I have a 20lt plastic jerry can which I store the water in, this doesn't allow much exposure to atmosphere so should this water be agitated? Or just tipped into buckets?
<Bob's a big fan of overnight "resting" of water, ideally with an airstone, but not essential. I'm less fussed, and just avoid changing huge amounts of water. Basically, if you just change 20-25% of the water at a time, and use a water conditioner, you shouldn't need to worry too much about resting the tap water. Freshwater fish are very much more adaptable than marine fish. Think about rain falling into a pond.>
Ok sorry this got to be a lot longer than I originally intended! I really appreciate the time you take with educating new hobbyists like me and reading our rambling emails. I've still got a lot of reading that I want to do regarding Corydoras as I have decided I'd like a biotope tank rather than putting them in the community and making them compete with greedy
barbs, and I think it would be easier to manage water softness and ph if I start again and do things differently in a new tank.
<Possibly. I'm a big fan of sticking with the water chemistry you have, and choosing your fish accordingly. That said, a 50/50 mix of RO water and liquid rock tap water should produce a happy medium that suits most community fish.>
Thanks once again and I hope you have a great day.
Bronwen
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Tetras with white mouths (and a bit about rosy barbs)       3/21/15

Hi again Crew!
Thank you for your replies Bob and Neale. My heart says that I should move the head and tail light tetras into the main tank to give them space and stop them from squabbling or bumping into things, but my head says to give them another week of quarantine to see how their mouth lesions develop.
<Agreed.>
I slept on this idea and this morning while one HATL tetra is still without mouth issues, two of the other three look worse and the white patches seem to be protruding more than they were yesterday. Although, having said that, I did use a brighter light so that I could see them better, maybe the lesions were like that all along and I just didn't see - normally they have half the tank in shade c/o a black plastic garbage bag and the other half lit by a strip of dim LEDs. I don't really think the lesions look fluffy, more so a bit ragged like the edge of some peeled skin in places, and warty in others. However this fluff free finding doesn't relax me at all, as Pinky's back ulcer was never fluffy either and that evolved from a small lesion to a large fatal ulcer over the Christmas/New Year break (I didn't have anything available except topical treatments until it was too late). I
don't really want to give infection a chance to set in again, but I am mindful also that these are different fish, from a different supplier, in a different tank, with different looking lesions that are in a different location on the fish, so I shouldn't expect a similar outcome to last time!
I want to wait a bit longer and observe them tomorrow with the same bright light so that I can get a real idea if there is any progression. I do have tetracycline (Bio-tet) or Metronidazole (generic looking yellow tablets) available now for if the lesions worsen, although I'm not sure if I want to treat all the fish, or only the ones that are showing visible lesions.
<I do think these mouth lesions are either plain vanilla dead tissue from fighting or crashes into solid objects, or else incipient Columnaris.
Either way, treat with a suitable antibiotic, while also review conditions in the tank.>
An observation on a different front, I would be hard pressed right now to pick out which of these fish was the skinny sickly one from a week ago. All of them have good colour and healthy looking bellies now. I am really looking forward to seeing them school together in the big tank once they are done in quarantine! I have discovered that my dad's compost heap has
Whiteworms in it as well as the big pink compost worms so I want to set up a new clean worm culture for some tasty occasional snacks for the fish, which I hope the tetras will like.
<Sounds a great idea.>
Speaking of which, the other fish haven't been eating my Ramshorn snails at all! I found three snails fatally jammed in the filter inlet grille today.
I am guessing as the grille becomes more clogged with plant matter it becomes a tempting place to graze for the snails but the increased suction as they clear a blockage pulls them in to the inlet pipe and traps them there, where they die since their shells can't follow. I have seen snails "hanging around" the inlet pipe before but didn't realise this was happening. The filter pipe has probably been slurping snails out of their shells all along as the barbs seem content to bite their eyestalks off then
go back to ripping at the plants. I've adjusted the sponge that I put over the grille so that only the most suicidal snails will be able to force their way in there, and I will just have to remember to rinse the debris out more often.
<Hmm... some folks would endorse a filter with snail-killing properties...>
I've decided that it will probably be more humane to leave the fancy goldfish in peace in the aquarium at work and to get a nice pond filter going to allow rehoming the excess rosy barbs outside, I probably wouldn't be able to provide adequate supervision to stop any possible mayhem that could occur with the work goldfish. It does get a smidge under 15 deg C here over winter, but the pond should get winter sun.
<Definitely worth trying, I reckon.>
If I can't work something out using either a solar pond cover or something similar to harness solar warmth, I can always bring everyone back inside in a temporary plastic crate for the coldest months.
<Both approaches make sense. Cutting down wind chill in winter with, say, a bamboo cover of some sort might work nicely. On the other hand, bringing in some or all of the Rosy Barbs before the coldest months start can work great, too. Have known many aquarists do this, even in places like Ohio where the summers are nice and hot but the winters rather severe. They had fish that bred prolifically during the summer, but snuggled up indoors for the winter. It's an ideal approach if you're careful, and I found Corydoras for example easily bred this way.>
Thanks again for helping me sort through these problems!
Cheers,
Bronwen
<Cheers, Neale.>

Spiraling tetra 11/9/11
Good morning. I have a 15 gallon planted tank with three green tiger barbs,
<Tiger Barbs are notoriously nippy in small groups.>
two rosy's,
<Rosy Barbs are subtropical fish; they also get much too big for this tank.>
and two diamond tetras.
<A delicate species unless you have soft water.>

I initially had three rosy's, but one became stuck between a rock and the tank wall and died. I can only guess he had grown too large because he frequently swam through the rock formations in the tank. Because of this, I thought it best to rearrange the tank.
<Or get a bigger tank>
I put the fish in a large plastic washbasin with an airstone and the heater while I tended to the tank. Parameters before and after have been consistent. Ammonia 0, nitrates 10-20, nitrites 0, GH 75, KH ~100, pH 7.6 .
<Sounds pretty good water for tetras and barbs.>
Anyhow, after returning home and settling down, one diamond started to list a tad. He seemed to swim ok, but whenever he swims fast, he spirals. After some Google -itis on my part, I worried he may have whirling disease and put him into quarantine that night.
<Whirling Disease is virtually impossible in aquaria, unless you're feeding live Tubifex worms. Do understand that just because your fish is "whirling" doesn't mean he has Whirling Disease; it's a thousand times more likely his nervous system is being shut down because of environmental stress, poisoning, shock, or something else like that.>
He did fine in quarantine.... I treated him with extra stress coat and wee bit of Melafix. He did well and stopped spiraling.
<Perhaps, but doubt either medication did much in this scenario. Fish that are shocked, for example, can go doolally for a few hours, but eventually settle down.>
So back home he goes and he promptly starts to spiral again. However, he schools with the other diamond (and sometimes the barbs shoal with them it's funny to see them plop down into formation. ) He eats well, he doesn't appear ill, he just lists a wee bit and spirals. He doesn't spiral during "normal" swimming, just when he "power" swims.
Now I'm wondering if he has a swim bladder dysfunction.
<Again, another common misunderstanding. True infections of the swim bladder are extremely rare, and virtually all diagnoses of "Swim Bladder Disease" are wrong. When fish are sick or weakened, they can't swim properly. Fish with swim bladders will find it difficult to balance. Think of the last time you were giddy -- I bet it wasn't because your legs were partially paralyzed! Far more likely you had a fever, you were drunk, you'd had a bump to the head, or some other thing like that. It's important to separate the symptom from the problem.>
Since stress apparently makes it worse, I'm reluctant to move him anymore. Should I try to treat him again? If so, with what?
<If the fish doesn't show signs of bacterial infection or parasitism (i.e., white spots or similar), and you can rule out a genetic problem because the fish was swimming normally when purchased, then think about the environment. What might be stressing it? Temperature? Oxygenation? Water chemistry stability? Water chemistry after water changes? Social interactions? Poisons such as copper and Chloramine? Check through these, and act accordingly.>
I'm of a mind to just let him be, keep up water changes per usual (20-50% every 1-2 wks), and see how he does. I don't think he was comfortable in quarantine as a solitary fish.
Any advice?
Thank you!!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bariatric Neon Tetra 5/4/10
Hi
<Hello,>
Thanks for the great site I have found it very helpful for both marine and freshwater tanks
<Good to know.>
I have searched your FAQs and other pages but cannot find an exact match for the problem.
<Oh?>
We have a neon tetra that is significantly larger than normal i.e. at least twice the size of the tankmates While I have managed to find numerous references to bloated or swollen stomachs the associated pictures and
descriptions speak to very distended stomachs and bulging - this fish is large all over.
<Are you sure he's a Neon? Cardinal tetras are similar but a bit bigger all around. Conversely, Paracheirodon simulans, the so-called Green Neon, is somewhat more slender than the Common Neon Tetra, Paracheirodon innesi.
Also is he longer than the others, or just fatter? If the abdomen is substantially bulkier, but the length of the fish is the same as the others, that can imply a variety of things, including dropsy, intestinal worms, even a female filled with eggs and ready to spawn!>
My question is does dropsy sometimes produce this overall swelling?
<Just the abdomen. By definition, oedema/dropsy is retention of fluid within the body cavity. The head, back, tail should all be the same as usual, since the muscles aren't much affected.>
Could it be some sort of water exchange/retention issue? What would you recommend as a treatment?
<For now, nothing. If the fish is happy and healthy, I wouldn't worry too much.>
There is no signs of eyes popping or pine cone/fluffy scales
<Good.>
The fish has slowly increased in size over 4-5 weeks. Diet is a mixture of flake and blood worms. We have tried a pea with no success (in case of constipation)
<Hmm...>
The fish has now stopped eating - or eats very intermittently
<Again, the key thing is whether the fish is bigger around the belly, or longer and the larger more generally, from head to tail. If the belly alone is swollen, and this fish is the same length as the other Neons, then you may well be dealing with constipation, dropsy, Neon Tetra Disease or something.>
Water parameters are good -nitrate less than 10. Ph is 6.9 and although a small tank it has good filtration, weekly 30% water changes with a mix of RO/dechlorinated water (to maintain hardness) and the substrate is vacuumed weekly. The remaining 6 tetras (the only other fish) are doing fine
Kelly
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Bariatric Neon Tetra 5/4/10
Hi
<Hello,>
Thanks for the great site I have found it very helpful for both marine and freshwater tanks
<Good to know.>
I have searched your FAQs and other pages but cannot find an exact match for the problem.
<Oh?>
We have a neon tetra that is significantly larger than normal i.e. at least twice the size of the tankmates While I have managed to find numerous references to bloated or swollen stomachs the associated pictures and
descriptions speak to very distended stomachs and bulging - this fish is large all over.
<Are you sure he's a Neon? Cardinal tetras are similar but a bit bigger all around. Conversely, Paracheirodon simulans, the so-called Green Neon, is somewhat more slender than the Common Neon Tetra, Paracheirodon innesi.
Also is he longer than the others, or just fatter? If the abdomen is substantially bulkier, but the length of the fish is the same as the others, that can imply a variety of things, including dropsy, intestinal worms, even a female filled with eggs and ready to spawn!>
My question is does dropsy sometimes produce this overall swelling?
<Just the abdomen. By definition, oedema/dropsy is retention of fluid within the body cavity. The head, back, tail should all be the same as usual, since the muscles aren't much affected.>
Could it be some sort of water exchange/retention issue? What would you recommend as a treatment?
<For now, nothing. If the fish is happy and healthy, I wouldn't worry too much.>
There is no signs of eyes popping or pine cone/fluffy scales
<Good.>
The fish has slowly increased in size over 4-5 weeks. Diet is a mixture of flake and blood worms. We have tried a pea with no success (in case of constipation)
<Hmm...>
The fish has now stopped eating - or eats very intermittently
<Again, the key thing is whether the fish is bigger around the belly, or longer and the larger more generally, from head to tail. If the belly alone is swollen, and this fish is the same length as the other Neons, then you may well be dealing with constipation, dropsy, Neon Tetra Disease or something.>
Water parameters are good -nitrate less than 10. Ph is 6.9 and although a small tank it has good filtration, weekly 30% water changes with a mix of RO/dechlorinated water (to maintain hardness) and the substrate is vacuumed weekly. The remaining 6 tetras (the only other fish) are doing fine
Kelly
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Neotrop community tank; sickness, death, but no useful data - 10/24/09
I have 55 gal freshwater tank with Black, Red, and Gold Tetras 1 Pleco and 2 Cory cats.
<Hmm... not really sure what these "tetras" of yours might be.>
The Tank has been going for about a year and I haven't lost a fish in about 10 months until about 1 month ago. I lost 2 black Tetras in a few days with no on obvious signs. One of my reds lost color and was having labored breathing and died about 2 weeks later. Now one of my Golds is showing signs of labored breathing and has raised scales on his sides all others seem to be doing fine. NO2, NO3, KH, GH are all within normal ranges
<What are "normal ranges"? The thing is, without knowing the actual values, I can't say anything sensible. But let's recap. For most South American tetras and catfish, you're aiming for these values: Zero ammonia, zero nitrite, carbonate hardness around 5-10 degrees KH, and a general hardness around 5-15 degrees dH. The pH should be around 6.5 to 7.5.>
I do about a 20% water change every two weeks and use AquaSafe and Neutral Regulator by Seachem at changes
<Please, check the water chemistry/quality values are as stated above.
Usually, when random species start dying for no obvious reason, and the symptoms are nebulous things like dropsy and heavy breathing (as is the case here) then environmental issues are to blame.>
What do you think is Killing my fish.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Neotrop community tank; sickness, death, but no useful data- 10/25/09

Thanks for your time and your response. I'm sorry I can't give you a better name on the tetras but I only know them as Black, Gold and Red long fin Tetras. The water chemistry is NO3 = 20ppm, NO2 = 0ppm, PH = 7.0, KH = 40ppm, GH =60ppm, Ammonia = 0ppm.
<Sounds mostly okay. The water hardness is low, and while not in itself a problem, do understand that in soft water the pH is prone to dropping, so I tend to recommend people maintain freshwater communities at slightly alkaline conditions, around 4-6 degrees KH (about 70-110 mg/l CaCO3).>
These values are reached using API test strips. There have been no new fish added to the tank for at least six months. There are two filter systems on the Tank. I know that without seeing the tank or fish that a diagnosis difficult. I have rechecked the water values and they are as stated I don't know the conversion for the KH and GH from ppm to deg.
<Easy: 1 degree KH is 17.9 mg/l.>
however as I stated the API kit I use says these values are within the normal range for tetras.
<Indeed, but what fish experience in the wild isn't necessarily what's easiest to maintain in captivity. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/fwsoftness.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
>
I know that Tetras aren't the most exotic of fresh water fish but I enjoy them and hate to loose any. The only fish that seems to be exhibiting any symptoms at this time is a Gold Tetra about 3"long, the symptoms are
labored breathing raised scales and I noticed 1 red spot about 1mm on one side just below his dorsal fin and a lack of appetite, all the other fish seem to be behaving normally and appear normal. I hope that I have given you enough information to give me a suggested course of action to save my fish. Thanks again for your help.
<Difficult to say what the problem is here. Heavy breathing tends to imply changes in environmental conditions, typically to the worse. So for example non-zero levels of nitrite and ammonia, or sudden changes in pH, or poisoning of the tank with insect spray, paint fumes, or whatever. Raised scales are associated with Dropsy, and that's a symptom of organ failure, typically the "end game" of a systemic bacterial infection or similar. Red spots on the body are inflammations or open wounds. These can be caused by all kinds of things, from physical damage through to certain viral and bacterial infections. So there's nothing here that yells out the name of any one problem. My instinct here would be to do a big water change to flush out any potential toxins (say, 50% today, and another 50% tomorrow) taking care that water chemistry of the new water was close to the water chemistry of the old water. I'd give my filter a clean, just to make sure it's working properly. I wouldn't feed the fish. I'd check the heater was at the right temperature. I'd look over the tank for signs of serious decomposition: dead fish, uneaten food, dense clumps of algae, dead snails, etc. I wouldn't treat the fish until I had a clear idea of what the problem
might be; most medications are toxic to some degree, and a "scattergun" approach rarely works out the way you'd like. Cheers, Neale.>

Black Phantom Tetra - Help Needed 8/22/09
Hoping someone can shed some light on a problem I'm having with one of my Black Phantom Tetras. I'm afraid I'm losing him.
Here's my set-up:
20 gallon aquarium, live plants
1 Farlowella
3 swords
7 Corys
3 black phantom tetras
6 red phantom tetras
<Does prefer fairly cool conditions... not really a very good community fish above 23 degrees C.>
I just tested my water levels:
Ammonia - 0
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 8
Temperature 78 degrees
<...>
I noticed a few days ago he was hiding underneath a plant and wouldn't come out when I was feeding them. He seems to be resting at first glance, but his black markings are fading and his top fin is a little more limp than the other fish. I haven't seen him eat in a few days. He seems to be able to swim fine if he is swimming along the bottom, though I've only seen him swim a few inches at a time, and not frequently.
About an hour ago I was watching him. He had emerged out from hiding and was at the bottom, in the middle of the tank. He suddenly took off like a shot upwards - I thought he was going after some food. But instead of swimming in a straight line, his body was rolling and tumbling at top speed as he swam upwards. It happened so fast that I couldn't really tell quite what his body was doing. He is now back at his resting spot under the plant.
<Variety of possibilities, but bullying is the one I'd think about...
should be in groups of 6+, and in smaller groups, bullying will lead to stress, and stress can cause the symptoms you're seeing.>
When he is resting his body appears normal, no "u' shape, bloating, or moving in circles or going upside down.
<Stress, starvation, secondary infections all possibilities.>
Any idea what could be wrong? I was concerned about whirling but I've never fed live food, and his back half is not darker, in fact it is lighter since he's lost much of his black markings. I see no lesions or anything else odd about him.
All other fish appear fine.
I do have a 10 gallon quarantine tank though it is not set up...should I transfer some water from the larger tank so it will be cycled, and then transfer him into that tank? Is there anything I can do to help him?
<Maybe add a bunch more, and see what happens.>
Thanks so much for your time.
Chris
<Cheers, Neale.>
Black Phantom Tetra -Additional Info 8/20/09

Hi again,
<Chris>
I've been reading up on Whirling, and I saw that it can be caused by eating a dead fish (?). Just wanted to mention that I lost a fish last week, and suspect that it had been dead a couple of days before I found it (I usually do a daily head count but didn't for a couple of days). It looked like the fins had been nibbled.
This was one of my red phantom tetras. Approx. 8 months ago it developed a tiny black dot inside it's body and over the last many months this growth has slowly spread. Right up until the end he was schooling and eating and energetic, but I guess the growth/disease took its toll. He did not show any symptoms that the black phantom is showing.
Just thought I would mention that, in case it was relevant.
Also, in doing further reading, I came across Neon Tetra Disease, and False Neon Tetra Disease. Does the black phantom's condition sound like either of these, and if so, can you explain the difference?
<Not likely Pleistophora... but quite likely a Sporozoan/Microsporidean manifestation... common in wild-collected Characoids of S. America... as small, discrete, black shiny dots, raised against sides... Not usually fatal, unless other stressors are at play>
I also read that one of the first symptoms is whitish patches, which I don't see in my fish.
Thanks again!
Chris
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black Phantom Tetra -Additional Info 8/22/09

Thanks, Bob.
<Welcome Chris>
This morning I saw a new symptom...periodically the fish is in a vertical position, with nose to the gravel and tail skyward. He is not doing well at all.
<Bad>
Could you please expand on your note below - if it is Sporozoan/Microsporidean as you suggest it could be below, what do I do? I assume he should be quarantined. Is there any medication that can help?
Note that I haven't seen any black shiny dots on him at all, he is very pale and his formerly black markings are now very light grey.
<There are no known medications for such...>
Is Sporozoan/Microsporidean the same as Neon Tetra disease?
<"All newts are salamanders... not vice versa"... NTD is in the same organismal class...>
Should I be concerned for my other tetras?
<Only if they ingest the present afflicted one (i.e. if it dies)>
If you could provide more info, or direct me to a link, that would be most helpful.
Thank you so much for your time.
Chris
<BobF>

Extremely thin tetra - is she diseased? 9/5/08 Dear WetWebMedia Associate- <Ave,> I owe a nice 35 gallon freshwater tank with not that many fish (only 12, among them 8 tetras, 3 albino Corys, and 1 Pleco) but with plenty of aquatic plants. In general, I do not have any problems in / with the tank, the water is fine, the fish are healthy. I am a big fan of Bob Fenner's "natural" treatment of water so the weekly changes of 1/3 of my tank's water are a commonplace. <Sounds good.> I noticed that one of my tetra fish is 1/3 of the size of other tetras. Indeed, from the beginning it was smaller than the rest of the group. But, the way I see it now - it is way too thin. It's fins are huge, its eyes and head looks unnaturally big. This resembles me the pictures of a starving human-being. <Ah, yes, does happen. It may be genetic, a developmental problem, or physical damage such as damage to the jaws. Could conceivably be a parasite; live Tubifex worms especially can cause problems in this way. What kind of tetra are we talking about here? My gut feeling is that this is simply a "runt" and there's not very much you can do about it.> I was observing that fish eating habits and noticed that it tries to eat but whatever it takes to its mouth, it "puffs" back. Seeing this now, I am afraid that my fish is dying from starvation :--(( I offer my fish a variety of foods - krill, shrimp, Tubifex worms, blood warms, and all kinds of flakes. But everything is dried - no "life" or frozen food. <Good.> I mix the food before supplying. Also, I feed them once a day, in the morning. The rest of the fish look big :--) not to say "fat." This little tetra is the only one that wants to eat but it cannot :--( <Could be damaged in some way, or with a blockage caused by a tumour or cyst. With very small fish there's not a lot you can do. Force-feeding such animals tends to cause more damage.> I noticed that this tetra when it gets a piece of food, holds to it firmly and swims around with it. But, it does not eat it. Other fish bite everything and try to get as much as they can. <Does sound like physical damage. You could try offering some Liquifry (that's food sold for feeding baby fish). This is softer and easier to slurp. Alternatively finely powdered flake food or hard boiled egg yolk (sparingly!) can be offered. See if it is able to eat these foods.> Do you know what is going on with my fish? I look over its body - there are no signs of parasites or any outside diseases. The only scary think is its extremely thin look. Is there anything I can do for my fish? How can I help it? <Not sure you can.> Please, let me know. Thank you very much for your help. Anna <Sorry to say, but I suspect the outlook for this fish is grim. If the fish is big enough to manhandle, then a plastic pipette to squirt in some minced prawn or flake food suspension can work. But for that the fish needs to be above a certain size, something about the size of an adult Platy. Anything smaller would be too easily damaged. Putting the fish in a floating breeding trap might offer some respite from competition, and you could see if finely powdered or liquid food was accepted. But my gut feeling is that nothing will help, and this fish will, eventually, die. I suppose you could treat with an anti-helminth medication (e.g. Prazi Pro) but the problem seems to be eating food, not digesting it, so I don't think gut parasites are the issue. Sorry can't offer better news, Neale.> Re: Extremely thin tetra - is she disease? (RMF, thoughts?)<<Mmm, nope. RMF>> 9/5/08 Thank you very much for letting me know, Neale. I will try the liquid food solution; hopefully my fish will get better. Anna <Fingers crossed! Do hope this works out, and good luck! Neale.>

Tetras (Neons & cardinals) dying one by one in the dark in a planted aq. 8/7/08 I hope you can help. Please forgive the length, but I wanted to give you all the info I could think of. <OK.> 30g L, been up for about 8 weeks (cycled with seed filter from friends established tank), custom hood with AHsupply 96w CF bulb (3.2W/gal), eco-complete substrate mixed with fine gravel. Fluval 205 filter. Stealth 100W heater. <All sounds good.> Tank has the following plants (most of which are thriving): Cabomba (2 bunches of 5 stems each), Moneywort (4 bunches of 3 stems each), Melon Sword, Chain sword (just a baby), Microsword (2sq in patch), Ruffle plant, Wisteria (just finally establishing its fine submerged leaves - 1 bunch of 3-4 stems), Broad Ludwigia (1 bunch of 3-4 stems), small Java fern, small Anubias nana, and a large bunch (about 15-20 long stems) of Anacharis (from a friends established tank). Sounds crowded, but you'd be surprised how open it really still is. <At least some get pretty big -- Echinodorus osiris for example will quickly take over a 30 gallon tank if it thrives; mature plants can be 50 cm tall and 30 cm across! Echinodorus martii likewise.> To this there's the following fish: 5 spotted Corys, 6 Otos, 3 "mystery" snails, 6 zebra Danios, and originally 8 each Neons and cardinal tetras. <Right, well one issue here will be temperature. To wit, Neons prefer cool water, 20-24 degrees C; Cardinals need warm water, 25-28 C. There's no "happy medium" at which both can be expected to do perfectly well. Corydoras, Otocinclus and Danios are also cool-tropical fish, and will thrive at 20-24 C (I'd go for 22 C). But that's too low for the Cardinals. So one way or another, at least some fish are going to be heat or cold stressed.> The light is on a timer to cycle 6 hours on in the morning, followed by a 3 hour off break mid afternoon, then another 6 hrs on in the evening. Then off for the remaining 9hrs overnight. <OK.> All was well, the plants are thriving, the fish too. <Good.> Then I added the Anacharis about 2 weeks ago. Suddenly I'm missing cardinals and Neons overnight, just 1 or 2. at a time. Never noticed any trouble with the actions/attitudes of the tank mates, everyone pretty much sticks to their schools. But the losses continued. Everyone looked fine when the lights are on... healthy, active, feeding. It was great. Well it's a great mystery alright. <Well, Neons and to a lesser extent Cardinals can be plagued with "Neon Tetra Disease" and will drop off one by one until the cycle of infection is broken. But it is also possible the new plants brought in a predator, such as a Dragonfly nymph.> I finally started watching closer at night and I found that after the lights been off for about 90 minutes (+/- 15 minutes) I notice a gradual and frightening change. Both the cardinals and Neons lose nearly all coloration going nearly white/clear. <Quite normal.> Then one or two of them start going bonkers and lose their equilibrium swimming upside down, backwards and on their sides, barrel-rolls, tumbling end-over-end, etc., then death. <That is odd.> Turn the lights back on and gradually (within 20-40 minutes) all coloration has returned and activity resumes normally. <Ah, now, this is curious. Have you checked how pH is affected by photosynthesis? When plants photosynthesise they remove CO2 from the water, allowing the pH to rise. When they stop, CO2 accumulates and pH goes down. Alternatively, some (but only the minority) can perform "biogenic decalcification", and I believe Anacharis is one of them. What this means is that they remove carbonate and bicarbonate from the water as the source of carbon for photosynthesis instead of CO2. This is why these plants prefer hard water. Anyway, in the process the water loses its carbonate hardness and consequently its pH buffering capacity. The net result will be that pH will drop while these plants are photosynthesising, and the water pH will also become less stable with regard to other pH altering processes.> My water parameters have been rock solid since the beginning: Nitrite 0; Ammonia 0; Nitrate "nearly" 0; kH 5deg; GH 12deg; pH 7.6; chlor. 0. I've even tested right before and after a light cycle and saw no appreciable difference. Temp stays between 78.5 and 80.5F. <Do check the pH and carbonate hardness through the day to test my hypotheses above.> My thought were CO2 poisoning - but the zero change to pH leads me to believe the CO2 isn't reaching toxic levels. Second thought - The plants are using up all the available O2 (I'm not aerating) at night thereby starving the smaller, more sensitive tetras. So I added a small airstone to the corner of the tank and set a small air pump to kick on when the lights go out (my timer has day/night outlets). It didn't seem to help. <Leave CO2 off for a few days and see what happens. Won't harm the plants.> Last Saturday night was the worst, within 2-1/2 hours three tetras gone (down to 6 now, 2 cardinals & 4 Neons left), and all the fish (except the 5 Corys, 2 largest Danios, and 3 largest Otos) were pale. Even with nighttime aeration. <Hmm...> So as a stopgap measure I retooled the timer to cycle the light and dark to 3 hrs light, 2 hrs dark ('round the clock). Two nights of success now with no casualties... but even though there is the requisite "amount" of light and dark I cannot imagine the rapid time cycles are any good for either the fish or plants long-term. <It isn't good for the plants; they need a certain length of time simply too start photosynthesising, and 3 hours won't be enough.> My next attempt will be to get a larger air pump and drive an 18" bubble wand across the back of the tank rather than the small airstone driven by the smaller air pump. I know this will drive out more CO2 to the detriment of the plants (though probably not too much), but it should eliminate the worry of CO2 poisoning, and should add O2 in the dark for the plants and fish to (hopefully) share. Also, I'll be raising the filter spout up closer to the surface to provide a little more surface agitation (currently its about 2in below with no agitation). <Not sure this is the issue.> Finally, since this all started after adding the fastest grower in the largest number/mass plant-wise (the Anacharis). It's possible that plant addition might've pushed the balance over the edge with respect to CO2 and O2 respiration. So I'll be pulling that out and trimming it back to a more manageable (2-3 bunches of 4-5 "short" stems each) size. <Hmm...> Hopefully then I can gradually return to slowly extending the light/dark cycles to a more natural rhythm and keep my fish healthy and my plants growing. Any thoughts? other suggestions? etc? Anything I missed? Mark <Cheers, Neale.>

Dying Tetras 2/10/08 I have been reading through your site and couldn't get a definite answer about my dying neon tetras. So I was wondering about my neon tetras. I recently added 12 neon tetras to my old school of 5. So my school of 17 looked awesome, but then I lost half of my school in a few days. <This seems to happen quite often with Neons, and is one reason I have stopped keeping them and don't recommend them. The quality of the mass produced stock is fairly poor, and I suspect depends a lot on the use of antibiotics. As soon as the fish arrive at the retailer, the antibiotics wear off and the fish become increasingly sensitive to opportunistic infections. This may be aggravated by the fact most people keep Neons far too warm; in the wild their preferred temperature range is 22-25 C, so compared with most other tropical fish, they need something a little cooler. Failing in this regard may be stressing them, leading to greater sensitivity to infections. Pleistophora ("Neon Tetra Disease") may also be prevalent. Although more expensive, Cardinal tetras strike me as being better value.> The aquarium is 55 gallons and my water parameters are fine except for pH which may be a little high (7.6). <Well within their tolerances; if acclimated, Neons have been know to do well at up to pH 8, 30 degrees dH! Water quality and temperature are probably much more significant issues.> Ammonia is 0ppm, nitrites are 0ppm, and nitrates are about 10-20ppm. My other fish in the aquarium are 1 dwarf Gourami, 2 blue gouramis, 1 gold Gourami, 4 rainbow sharks. I also have 4 crayfish in my tank, biggest on is about 3 inches long max. I am thinking maybe they are catching my Neons and eating them. <Crayfish will indeed eat small fish. Under no circumstances can crayfish be considered safe additions to the community tank. While it is true crayfish are mostly herbivores in the wild, in aquaria they can easily catch small fish. Because Neons sleep close to the bottom of the tank, crayfishes could easily catch and eat them.> I actually saw one snacking on a tetra but not sure if he caught him. It might also explain why I only actually see a few of my Neons dead while the other ones are just not there. <Do check for signs of Pleistophora: Infected Neons lose their colour, become shy, stay away from the group, and often hide under plants. A few days later they're dead. Pleistophora is highly contagious once the fish is moribund or dead because opening the body cavity (e.g., as other fish eat the corpse) allows the parasites to swim into the water. The only way to effective stop Pleistophora is to remove infected fish on sight. They should be painlessly destroyed, as there is no reliable cure, and certainly not once the disease because sufficiently entrenched that you can tell the fish actually has it.> They didn't jump out of the tank because I have a very tight fitting canopy and there's no dried up tetras on the carpet. One more thing too, if my pH is to high I was thinking about using water from a local spring in which the pH is about 6.4, and no ammonia, nitrite or nitrates. I would also run it through my deionization filter to make sure any harmful things would be removed. I would greatly appreciate your help and advise. <Mixing soft water with hard water out the tap is fine. I do this by mixing rainwater with tap water to good effect. Filtering the spring water or rainwater through carbon will remove any nasties, but generally such water sources are at least as safe for fish as tap water, perhaps more so. In any case, do always remember to make water chemistry changes slowly, perhaps doing 25% water changes each week until you reach the desired level of hardness and acidity. Now, the crayfishes will not like soft water. They need to be removed anyway, but just as a heads-up, in common with all crustaceans, "the harder the better" in terms of healthcare. Also remember that as hardness drops, so does pH stability, and many is the aquarist who's softened the water in their tank only to discover the pH suddenly drops between water changes. I'd not take the hardness below 10 degrees dH. Remember: fish don't care about pH, so long as its stable; what matters is *hardness*, as that directly influences osmoregulation. Cheers, Neale.>

Tetra buoyancy 10/20/07 Dear Crew, <Hello there! Andrea with you this afternoon.> Today after feeding my Tetras I noticed that 1 of my Neons is floating toward the surface and actively swimming to stay lower in the aquarium. I feed them tropical flake food with the occasional freeze-dried bloodworms. <Sounds delicious...> I hadn't noticed this behavior before today so my theory is that he sucked in some air while eating. My water parameters are as follows: Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate all 0, pH 7.8. <pH is a little on the high side for Neons, but I wouldn't worry much. You might add some driftwood as a decoration to the aquarium to soften the water and bring it down. What does concern me is that the NitrAte is at 0. How long has the aquarium been up? Generally speaking, in the FW world, we want to see a little nitrate, as it lets us know that the tank isn't cycling. You should have something of a reading...5, 10, 15 ppm at least. What kind of test kits are you using? You might take a sample to the local fish store and have them test it. Having zeros across the board usually tells me that either the tank is brand spanking new, or the test kits have gone bad.> I do a 40% water change every 5 days. <Excellent regimen. Keep it up!> I don't feel that it is a water quality issue, he's not listing around or floating head up or down, but when he stops swimming he floats to the surface. <Could be swim bladder dysfunction. It's not fatal, just looks funny. Do a search on WWM for Swim Bladder for more information.> Is there anything I can do or is this just a "wait and see" type of thing? <If he is otherwise acting healthy, stool looks normal, eating well, I'd just let him be. Could be needing a good burp, could be the food is too fibrous, could be swim bladder, could be something else. You might also try giving him some mushed up blanched peas, in case he has a mild case of constipation.> If it is air and he can't expel it, is that a fatal condition? <No, the air will find a way out, one way or another ;-). They are kind of like us in that way.> Also, how long could it take for him to recover from this? <It really depends what it is. If it is swim bladder damage, he might always be that way, and it is just a quirk. If it is something else, it may pass, or it may not. Worst case scenario is he has some problem that is affecting him neurologically, such as a bacterial infection or parasite, but I'd say the chances of that are relatively slim if he is eating and otherwise well. Unless he shows other symptoms, I'd just call him "Bobby" or "Floaty" or "Bouncy" or something cute.> Thanks for your help, <Anytime!> Evan <Andrea>
Re: Tetra buoyancy 10/29/07
Andrea, et al: <Hi Evan, sorry for the delay. I have been out of town.> Thank you for your help earlier. <Most welcome.> I wanted to update you on the situation. After about 5 hours "Bob" seems to be back to normal. <Glad to hear it.> I've only been keeping fish for 3 months, so when I saw his behavior I was surprised and alarmed. <It happens to all of us. I've been keeping fish for years and years, and still panic often. The same with my cats, frogs, lizards, toads, nieces, nephews....call it human care instinct. =). It does ease up a bit though.> And on the water tests: I'm using Jungle 5-in-1 and Ammonia quick dip tests so the readings aren't super precise and some of the tests have a large gap between values. On the Nitrate the scale is 0 then 20 and it was definitely not 20. <The test strips are good for getting a general feel of water conditions, but since you are new to the hobby, I really suggest you get better test kits, with liquid reagents. They really are an invaluable tool, especially early in the hobby when you are just learning. The accuracy will help you both learn and get a better feel for the conditions in your tank. API makes good kits for freshwater that are reasonably priced and readily available. You will want to have Ammonia, NitrIte, NitrAte, pH, kH, and possibly Phosphate on hand. Salifert are also excellent, but more expensive. It will serve you and your fish well to buy these and familiarize yourself with them and their properties.> Again, thank you all for your continuing help to all of us fish keeping novices and experts. <Our pleasure.> -Evan

Black lumps on tetra body and fins  8/23/07 Please, can you help me diagnose my tetras? <We'll see> I have looked everywhere and can't find anything to match the appearance of these fish. Something that came close during my research was "lip fibroma", most common in angelfish and other "kissing" fish. 2 of my tetra (now in quarantine for 4 weeks) have lumpy growths first on their lips, then appearing on their fins and tail bases. It's spreading for sure. Both fish are eating and lively, but obviously something is very wrong with their bodies. The lumps are raised, and grey/black in color. I hope the photos I took help. (Image links:) http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b360/Meechity/fishy1.jpg http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b360/Meechity/fishy2.jpg http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b360/Meechity/fishy3.jpg Your site is invaluable. I would not bother to write you if I hadn't searched all I could elsewhere. Thank you so much :) ~M <Does appear tumorous... Perhaps there is a bacterial or protozoan involvement here... I would try one course/treatment with Metronidazole/Flagyl AND feeding of antibiotic (the "usual" broad-spectrum, gram-negative varieties commercially available) like Thera-A as attempts at cure.... otherwise, careful isolation... euthanization. Bob Fenner>

Glowlight tetra... hlth., English    7/16/07 hi there hope you can help, I have a 75 gallon tropical freshwater setup with gravel substrate bog wood pieces and a nice dense selection of plants, I have 6 Neons, 6 Glowlight tetras, 6 Rummynose tetras and one bamboo shrimp, all water tests are fine and I cycled tank with no fish but with some mature gravel for 6 weeks, anyway one of my recent additions is the Glowlights but one is very bloated since I bought him/her, seems to ok as swimming ok and interacting with other fish. do you think she maybe pregnant or is this some form of disease that needs treating? any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated, thanks Mickey <Hello Mickey. A nice collection of fish and a good sized aquarium for them! Glowlight Tetras are egg-layers, so the female doesn't get "pregnant" as such, though female fishes of most kinds look swollen when they are full of eggs and ready to spawn. That said, this usually only lasts a couple of days, and it is usually obvious she is ready to spawn because the male fish will be following her about all the time. What is more likely is that she has some sort of sickness. Dropsy is the worst option. This is a symptom (accumulation of fluids in the body cavity) caused by a variety of generally untreatable diseases. A tell-tale sign of dropsy is that often the scales bristle out from the body, so when looked at from above the fish looks like a pine cone. Not much can be done about dropsy, particularly in small fish, and destroying the fish painlessly is generally the best thing to do. It isn't particularly contagious, but the things that caused the dropsy, such as poor water quality, can of course cause the problem to occur in another fish. That said, a dozen tetras in a 75 gallon tank are unlikely to be causing water quality problems. If your nitrite, pH, and hardness tests all look good, then I'd be tempted to write-off the Glowlight Tetra as simply a specimen that was probably sick when you bought it. Constipation can also cause swelling in fish, though typically in herbivorous species like Goldfish. Glowlight Tetras are largely carnivores feeding on insect larvae so don't need the same amount of fibre in their diet. A few meals per week of algae flake instead of regular flake is an excellent idea though just to be on the safe side. A long-shot is Neon Tetra Disease (NTD). This could potentially infect a Glowlight Tetra since they're quite closely related. NTD is basically untreatable though some commercial medications purport to offer a treatment when used early on. Regardless, NTD is highly contagious and sick fish should be removed (and probably destroyed) at the first sign of trouble. The classic symptoms of NTD are loss of colour, lethargy, and a tendency for the fish to leave the school and hide in shady corners of the tank. Just as some "meta-advice", because tetras are small and largely collected from the wild, they don't travel well or keep well in overcrowded tanks at the wholesaler and retailer. Often they have gone without proper food for many days, if not weeks, for certain parts of the trip. Being so small, their reserves are slight and mortality is quite high. When buying tetras, it is not uncommon to lose one or two within the first few weeks, and then everything settles down and the rest last for years. So even if you lose this one fish, do not be too alarmed, and focus instead on making sure the aquarium is clean and the water quality/chemistry correct for the species you are keeping. Cheers, Neale>
Re: Glowlight tetra -- 07/18/07
Hi Neale thanks for your reply it was very interesting, as for my bloated Glowlight its still looking bloated but swimming and eating ok and joining in with community life, I understand the casualty thing but the scales aren't sticking out at all. I only bought the Glowlights on Saturday would this be sufficient time to lay eggs if any were present if so I think maybe I should take your advice and write this one off sadly to a sick fish when supplied. I also recently bought a scribble Plec and what I think is a bamboo shrimp which really freaked me out on the third day of it being in my tank, I awoke to find what I thought to be "chip's" dead body on the bottom of my tank Eeek!! so netted it out and done the old flush, only to discover two days later when I was sat watching TV who comes walking out of my plants but old "chip" turns out they shed there skin!!! anyway he's such a dude he looks great now real bright vibrant colours; cream stripe down whole of body and sort of red/brown horizontal wiggles on his sides and quite a red tail, do you think he is a bamboo shrimp??? I know without a picture it is very difficult to know. many thanks <Greetings. Unlikely to be eggs. Breeding Glowlights is difficult, and to get them "in condition" for spawning takes time and the right foods. Unlikely to happen in an aquarium shop. In the meantime watch and observe, and I'd recommend adding some anti-bacterial medication as well. Ask your retailer for what's on offer in your area. Early stages of dropsy can (sometimes) be cured by things like Furanol. Scribbled Plec is Hypancistrus sp. or L66. Like other Hypancistrus it's only "half hardy" so treat it gently. It won't do well in strongly alkaline conditions (ideally, you need pH 6-7 and low hardness). It also likes a fair amount of warmth, something slightly around 26-28C, in keeping with most other fishes from the Rio Xingu. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to poor water quality and low oxygen concentration. As for the shrimp, that sounds exactly like a Bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis sp.). Nice animals. Not hardy, but with good care easy enough to keep. Harmless filter feeders, despite their size. Since you can't filter feed these animals easily, be sure to offer it plenty of suitable food. Algae wafers, Plec pellets, and other plant-based foods are ideal. Cheers, Neale>  

Poorly Glowlight Tetra  7/5/07 Hi, <Ave,> I've got a 30 Gallon tank and I'm a total novice. You'll have to bear with me because I don't know much about the real names of fish so I'll just tell you as best I can. <OK. But a recommendation: go buy or borrow an aquarium book. Very useful.> I have 7 Neon Tetras, 7 Glowlight Tetras, 5 Black Neon Tetras, 1 Male Siamese Fighting Fish, 1 Tiger Barb and 2 other fish that I can't remember the name of but I know it's got the word bubble in it! <ONE TIGER BARB!!!! Tiger barbs are intensely sociable fish. They need to be 6 or more to be happy. An unhappy tiger barb is something you don't want -- they are terrible fin-nippers, and as sure as God made little green apples will soon shred your Siamese fighting fish's fins down to nothing. If you want a solitary barb, choose something like the cherry barb, which is territorial and does best either alone or in groups in a big tank. They're actually good fun in groups, chasing one another about. But one is fun, too.> The reason I'm e-mailing you is that I've just introduced the Siamese Fighting Fish yesterday, and today I've noticed that 1 of my Glowlight Tetra's (which have been fine for ages) is swimming on its side but is swimming happily it seems, it isn't listless or on the bottom or top of the tank. It's swimming with the others. <Possibly constipation, if the fish is otherwise healthy. Check the diet. Standard flake is fine for a while, but it lacks fibre. Crushed tinned peas and bits of cooked spinach or Sushi Nori are good green foods for small fish. Also try live daphnia and brine shrimp. Anything to get the digestive system working.> It also seems to have scales missing on 1 side from what I can see. Apart from swimming on it's side and the scales missing, it's not gasping or swimming erratically or anything. I don't seem to see any symptoms of disease other than the swimming on the side and the scales missing. <Missing scales are worrying. I wonder if it has been harassed by something. Siamese fighters are sometimes aggressive though not usually to tetras. Tiger barbs can be nippy, as mentioned. One other thought is physical damage, for example swimming into a filter or clumsy netting by you or the retailer when catching the fish. Either way, it's a good idea to treat with anti-fungus/anti-Finrot just to nip any potential problems in the bud.> I really can't tell what's wrong with him but I'm panicking in case it's a disease and all my fish will die! <Doesn't sound "catchy". Treat as recommended, and observe for other symptoms.> I don't know if the Siamese Fighting Fish has got anything to do with it, but the pet store I got him from assures me that he is perfectly healthy and he isn't attacking the fish at all he seems to be having fun on his own....? <Entirely possible he'll be fine in your tank. Siamese fighters are usually at the receiving end of trouble in community tanks though. They find it very difficult to swim because of their abnormal fins. This makes it difficult to feed and to swim away from trouble. Many fans of Siamese fighters simply recommend keeping them "in solitary" all the time. I'm not quite that extreme, but do watch things carefully.> I really don't know what to do. I haven't had my water tested as I don't have a kit as yet but I will get one straight away. I've been doing water changes weekly (about 25%) and I've been adding a weekly cleaner that I bought from a pet store. I doesn't actually have a name, it just says weekly cleaner on the bottle and I've also been adding a chlorine control when I do a water change. I add these chemicals on the advice of the pet store but I'm starting to doubt their advice as last time I visited the store 2 of their tanks had dead fish in which I had to tell them about! <Firstly, get a water test kit. If you're on a budget I recommend the dip strips. They aren't especially accurate perhaps, but they are cheap and easy to use. Each strip comes with nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, pH, and hardness indicators, which covers all the basic things you need. I cut the strips longitudinally, so get 2-for-1. Since a pack costs about £10 and contains 20 strips, that's 40 tests altogether at 25p a throw. Doing bigger water changes will do no harm; 50% a week costs nothing more in time and effort and doubles the positive impact of each water change on your fish! I have no idea what "weekly cleaner" is but it sounds like rubbish. The only thing you normally need to add to the tank weekly is dechlorinator, and that is added to the water before its put into the tank. Plant fertiliser is another thing, but it's optional. Otherwise, everything else is either more or less useless (tonic salt for example) or only to be used in certain situations (such as pH buffer). Pet shops want you to buy stuff you add weekly because its profitable for them. As well as providing a service, they are in business, so you can't blame them. But you can be a bit more discerning in what you buy. Some things, like bigger fish tanks and better quality filter media *do* make a difference and are worth spending the money on. But other things are often just nonsense.> HELP! Sam <Hope this helps, Neale>  

 

 

Parasitized Metynnis - 06/27/07 Hello, Wet Ones! <In England, "Wet Ones" are moist towel things used to wipe babies' bottoms when changing their nappies (diapers). So, not normally something you call someone.> I have a silver dollar, Metynnis argenteus, that I think is parasitized. He was in quarantine (30 gal w/ air stones and Whisper III OTB filter) for 2 months, along with several rainbows, some hatchet fish, and some neon tetras. All appeared well in quarantine. We moved these fish to our 150 gal show tank about 4 weeks ago. After about 3 days we lost one of the hatchet fish to causes unknown. Four days ago we noticed a whitish spot on the side of the silver dollar and a similar one on one of the hatchets. The hatchet passed the next day. The silver dollar is still feeding well and swimming just fine! The white spot is diminished, but this dark spot just showed up. I've included three pictures. What is it!!! <Well, I can't see anything particularly worrying in the photo. Treating the tank with anti-Whitespot would probably be wise though, just in case. Hatchetfish are uncommonly sensitive fish, especially when recently imported. Once settled, they become a bit more robust, but the smaller species (Carnegiella spp.) never really become "hardy". Do bear in mind hatchets seem to need a lot of food to stay healthy, while silver dollars require at least some greens in their diet. Observing these two guidelines should help in the long term.> <Cheers, Neale>

Neon Tetra with mouth stuck open.   6/21/07 Hi All, > I'm Fran and this question really does what it says on the tin. We have a neon tetra who appears to have his mouth wedged open. He sort of inhales smaller food particles so he's not starving, but it looks painful. My other half reckons it's just because he's old, and he does not seem the type of fish to leap about and injure himself, but I do not know what else could have done this and what I can do to help him. Many thanks on behalf of myself and Tetra, F. <Hello Fran. This does sometimes happen, and usually when I've seen this on tetras it is because of a congenital deformity. Sometimes larger fish, like cichlids, dislocate their jaws when fighting. But that's unlikely to be the problem here. I'm not sure how a neon might damage its jaw to this degree, at least, not without something obvious, like mouth fungus, setting in first. Since the fish is feeding and otherwise healthy, I wouldn't worry about it too much. FYI, Neons should live for around 3-4 years in aquaria, if that helps you decide whether he's "old" or not. Cheers, Neale.>

Death of our white-tipped tetra - overfed?   3/14/07 Hi, <Hello there> Thanks for such an informative and interesting site. <Welcome> Me and my boyfriend are reasonably new to the fish keeping game and sadly we've just experienced our first fish death. I'm really writing for some advice so that hopefully we can avoid any too many more in the future. <Sounds good> We have a 112 litre tank (just under 30 US gallons according to the online converter). We've had the tank since January and we cycled it for 3 weeks before adding fish (we have a very good LFS who wouldn't let us buy fish until we provided them with a water sample from our cycled tank!!!). <Good for them, you, the planet> Water parameters were fine when we tested on Saturday (nitrite and ammonia 0, nitrate 12mg/L, ph  8). <Yikes... this last is quite high... particularly for small S. American Tetras...> Sorry - not sure how parts per gallon work but 12mg/L is reasonably low. <Parts per million and milligrams per liter are equivalents... the same... Think about this... there are a million milligrams or water...> The tank is filtered, heated (around 76 F) and planted (grasses, a couple of broad leaf plants and some floating plants). We have: 3 bamboo shrimp 5 white-tipped tetras (was six) 4 Corys 1 whip-tail catfish 2 thick-lipped gouramis (male/female pair) <Sounds very nice... but do watch those Gouramis> Yesterday I did a 20% water change (tap water with dechlorinator added - roughly same temperature as tank water). Everyone seemed fine. A few hours later we feed them frozen bloodworm. We tend to do this once a  week - usually at the weekend when we can watch them going nuts over them! Again, everyone seemed fine. We first noticed things weren't right a few hours later when the male Gourami charged at one of the tetras (I know gouramis can be territorial but this was a major shock as we have the most chilled out and friendly Gourami). <At times...> On closer inspection I think it was because the tetra was behaving oddly - floating at the top of the tank and spasming. The Gourami didn't do him any damage, I think he was just curious. The tetra couldn't swim against the flow of the water and when he did try to swim he was spasming quite violently. He was looking swollen but other than that not a mark on him. He found a quiet place behind the filter and stayed there for an hour or so. Then he seemed to perk up a bit and went for a little swim. He was gasping for air though. He then went and sat at the bottom of the tank and after a few hours he died.   We scooped him out and my boyfriend gave him a close inspection - not a mark on him. The tetra looked very swollen so perhaps we overfed him. He was absolutely fine in the morning and acting as normal so it was a very sudden deterioration. We didn't feed any more bloodworm than normal but he was our smallest tetra by quite a margin and so perhaps he ate more than his share?? Does this sound possible? <Is, yes> I've read that bloodworm can be hard to digest - is this a big problem? <Can be for small fishes, yes> The other tetras didn't look swollen at all and were swimming around fine. We've had the tetras since the end of January and the last addition to the tank, the Corys, we have had for 3 weeks now. Could it be an infection and would you advise any action? <Not likely an infection... I would not "treat" here... more likely to cause harm than help> I can't help thinking we've overfed him, which makes me really sad. He looked swollen and uncomfortable and it all happened so quickly that I'm sure it must  have been something that day - the food or the water change. <These could both contribute...> Much appreciate any guidance you can give. Sorry for the mix of volume units - I'm British but thought you'd appreciate US measures where I could do them. Thanks Naomi <No worries... A third possibility is that this one fish had a sort of genetic/developmental disorder... Fishes aren't "quite developed" even at good size... Bob Fenner>

Non-cottony mouth fungus on blue tetra? Also, black neon with balance problem  - 5/5/2006 Hi crew! <<Hi, Helen.>> (Before I begin, the tank details: 15-gallons (12" * 12" * 24"), quite densely planted, no CO2, nearly a year old, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, nitrates usually under 5 ppm (and always under 10 ppm), temperature 27 C, pH 6.5 (tap water used for water changes has pH of 7.5), 20% water changes once per week. Stocked with 3 Danios, 3 black neon tetras, 2 silvertip tetras, 2 blue tetras, 1 Otocinclus. Fed once per day, alternately with flake and tetra granules, with bloodworms or daphnia once per week.) <<All sounds excellent, Helen. Great job on the care and feeding.>> I have two new blue tetras who've been in my 15-gallon planted tank for about a month now (they went through two weeks of quarantine first, following your excellent advice!). <<Our advice isn't worth much without folks like you who make the effort to follow it. :)>> One of them has settled in beautifully (chases around the Danios, who are three times his size!), but the other one is far more retiring - he seems to pick a spot away from the other fish and lurk in it, changing his hideaway every week or so. In the past two weeks, I've noticed that he's developed a light, dull patch just above his mouth, on his "nose". I immediately thought "mouth fungus!"... but the pictures I've found online show that the symptom of this is a fluffy, cottony growth. His patch is light-coloured, but flat and smooth. Could this be mouth fungus, or something else? <<I would be thinking that this is more like a "scuff" or abrasion. Enough to change the coloration but not a physical trauma to be concerned about.>> I'm a little concerned by his lethargy, but he doesn't gasp or hang at the surface, and comes out from his hiding place in a great hurry whenever food is introduced to the tank (he's eating very well). Apart from the white patch, his general colouration is vibrant and shiny. I can't pinpoint when the patch first appeared, but having been watching it for 2 weeks it doesn't seem to have become bigger or changed texture. <<I've mentioned this in other responses and will again here. It's always a good sign when a fish feeds and particularly good when its appetite is strong like your fish is demonstrating. I would attribute the hiding and seeming lethargy to "shyness" more than anything else. Personally, I've got fish that all but jump into my hand when I feed them and others (same species) that sort of lay back waiting for the food to come to them. All are healthy but display different kinds of behavior.>> Do you think it would be a good idea to put him back in the quarantine tank for a course of antibacterial treatment? Unfortunately, I don't have access to medicated food in the UK. <<I don't see any need for this right now, Helen. In fact, I don't think it would be a good idea from the standpoint of handling and trying to re-settle the fish in a new environment so soon.>> Also, my oldest black neon tetra (had him nearly as long as the tank, and he's now about 2" long) has always hung at a bit of an angle, but over the past few months it has become more pronounced - he now hangs at a 45-degree angle, nose-up, when stationary! When moving around, he can swim normally. He's active and eats well, but I'm worried that when stationary he does seem to have to work his fins quite hard to stay in one place (he looks as if he'd tail-slide backwards and downwards if he stopped beating his fins). No list in the horizontal plane, though. I'm assuming that this is a swim-bladder problem, and what I've read suggests that these are very difficult to treat. Would it be worth trying him with a quick course of antibacterial medication anyway? <<No. Never a good idea to treat for something that can't be positively identified (or as close to it as humanly possible). I've got one lone survivor out of 12 from a disastrous bout of Neon Tetra Disease (had them all in quarantine, thank goodness, and he spent an additional four or five weeks in "solitary" afterward) who displays the same type of swimming behavior. Perfectly normal otherwise but always seems a little "nose-up" when stationary. I'm not concerned and I don't think you should be, at this point, either.>> Thank you very much for your time, and your excellent site! Helen <<I hope I've helped lessen your concerns, Helen. You're doing a wonderful job. Tom>>
Non-cottony mouth fungus on blue tetra? Also, black neon with balance problem - 05/05/2006
Thanks for the advice and encouragement, Tom! Though... maybe it was a little _too_ much encouragement... a simple trip to LFS to get more water conditioner somehow ended up with us walking out with a new 8-gallon heated tank, an armful of plants, and a splendid little blue/green Betta (we'd been talking about getting one for a couple of weeks - and doing the research - so it wasn't _completely_ an impulse purchase... but it wasn't what we went to the store for!). Multiple tank syndrome beckons... <<Oh, stop! I've a 20-gallon tank lying fallow right now that's virtually "screaming" for inhabitants. (I can hear it calling me as we speak, in fact!) Seriously, I'm glad I could help. (Hmmmm... A couple of Bolivian Rams, perhaps.) :)>> Helen <<Tom>>

Sick Von Rio tetras?  9/13/05 Howdy WWM Crew,     I stumbled (serendipitously) onto your site when I was looking for aquarium plant advice.     My 16 gallon bow front tank houses 8 Von Rio Tetras, a few live plants, and a small number of snails that slipped in with the plants.  Together with weekly 20% water changes, filtration is performed by a Whisper 30 filter (I'm also thinking of adding some peat filtration.) The temperature is 80 F.     The tetras eat well, aren't breathing hard, appear to swim normally, and have become much redder & more iridescent since I got them 2 months ago.  However, the edge of the dorsal fin on all of my fishes is milky looking (not fuzzy or spotty and the fin is not jagged. The fishes came this way.)  The milkiness doesn't appear to be spreading over the rest of their bodies, but I am very worried.  Does this sound like a bacterial/fungal disease? <Mmm, no>   Also, pictures of these fish on the web show 2 dark stripes on the body- mine don't :| . Thank you from a new fishkeeper, Anne <A geographical variation in this species... I would not be concerned re the lack of barring, the white on their dorsals. Bob Fenner>

Fat Fish (tetras) Bob, The last several weeks I have had several of my various tetra fish look like they were going to explode... There stomachs more than double in size, they definitely are breathing hard and look like they are in agony. I have no idea what would be causing this, or what should I do to protect the rest of my tank. I have a 55 gal tank and so far have had 4 fish go through this. None are the same species but all have been Tetra's. Deb <There are some protozoan and worm diseases of Tetras that might account for this "bloated" appearance/difficulty, as well as diets of foods that are hard to digest (some dried, some fresh/frozen)... and a few chemical possibilities. Do you modify your water quality? Utilize live plants? Please specify which types of Tetras are affected and what other animals you have in your system (good clues). Bob Fenner>

Sick tetra? I have a red eye tetra that's ballooned up on the under side; is this a pregnancy or a bladder or swim bladder disease? <Hello...Jorie here.  I really can't say what's going on without some more information. First off, how big is your tank, how many other fish are in it (and what type), and how long has it been setup and running for? Have you tested the water recently for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? If so, what are the readings? (Ideally, all should be at zero.) Also, what is your fish's behavior like to make you think it could be a swim bladder disorder?> It had no swim difficulties... <This likely rules out swim bladder disorder> and gills quickly <Do you mean rapid breathing? I'm not quite sure what you mean.  If it is rapid breathing, do test your water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates, as mentioned above, and do a water change to get those readings to zero if necessary.> What should I treat it with? <For now, I'd say nothing. Do a water change and please try to give me some more specific information about the tank, other fish, and the affected fish's behavior so that I can better help you.> Many thanks, <You are welcome. Good luck.>

Sick Tetras I have a question regarding my neon tetras. I have a 25 gallon tank with a bio wheel and Eclipse filter. The ph is constant at 7, the temperature is constant at 80 and I do regular water changes (every 3-4 weeks as advised by our Aquarium store) and I treat the water with a Sera product called Aquatan before I add new water. I do not know the ammonia and nitrite amounts as I do not have a test kit for these yet.  Our tank has been set up for 18 months and we have had no problems. We have 5 neon tetras, 5 lemon tetras, 2 Corydoras, 3 Otos, and 3 blue German rams that replaced 3 swordfish (the children were upset about the whole eating of the young aspect). Today I notices a problem with our Neons. They all seem to have ragged fins from a mild to severe degree, most have some sort of dark greenish/blackish patches on their sides, and one in particular is emaciated and a very dull colour. This one also seems to have pop eye (one other looks like he is developing it ) and at certain angles I can see a few white things attached to his eyes and head (only this one seems to have the white effect).  Is this neon tetra disease? What else could it be? Will it affect the other fish? How should I treat it? The other fish seem fine although one or two of the lemon tetras seem to have a couple of slight ragged/split spots on their fins that I had put down to age or nipping by the male swordfish we had.  Thank you for your time in answering this question as my daughter is very upset and I want to make sure I treat the tank expediently and appropriately. Lisa < Forget testing for ammonia and nitrites and get a nitrate test kit. Changing the water every three to four weeks may not be enough and may need to changed more often. I would recommend a 30% water change while vacuuming the gravel and then clean the filter. Now that the tank is clean you should see some improvement. The tail/fin rot may need to be treated if it gets worse with Nitrofurazone. The Popeye is an internal bacterial infection that needs to be treated with Metronidazole. After treating your bacteria that breaks down the fish waste may be gone so I would add some Bio-Spira to recycle the tank.-Chuck>
Sick Tetras II
Thanks for your quick reply. I wanted to follow up and let you know some more information that I got today. I took the neon tetras on a little trip back to the Aquarium shop (Aquariums West in Vancouver) and the staff were baffled by the greeny black patches. They agreed they looked sick but had seen nothing like it and said it was not tail rot.  They are going to keep them in isolation for a few days and have a couple of other fish experts take a look. It likely will not help the fish but I want to know if it will spread to the other fish and they are very curious. I had our water tested and the nitrates and ammonia were both zero so I don't think the water is a problem (I do change the filter every time I do a water change). I will let you know if they come up with a interesting diagnoses. Thanks again for your answer and your informative website, Lisa < Diagnoses is always difficult when you cannot see the animal. Hope they are able to help. -Chuck> 

Serpae Tetra shimmy while swimming 8/9/05 I have a ten gallon tank with 3 Serpae Tetras, 2 Platies, and 2 Otocinclus. My tank is 8 months old and I have not had any problems with it other than a rough start with cycling when I first set up the tank and a case of Ich (during that cycling period) that wiped out all the fish except one Tetra.  It is that original Tetra that I am having a problem with.  He seems to shimmy when he swims.  I have read all of your postings on "Shimmy"  but they all seem to indicate that the fish is standing still when he shimmies. <Usually, yes>   My fish only shimmies when he is actually swimming.  This started a couple weeks ago and at first I thought it was some kind of mating behavior but now he seems to be swimming slightly slanted to the side.  He still has a healthy appetite and seems to be playful with the other fish.  Any ideas?  Is this something that I should treat.  All the other fish seem fine. Even though this fish survived the start up cycle and the Ich could that have had any long term effects on him? Thank for all you do Tina <Thank you for writing, and so well, thoroughly. This one fish sounds like it is neurally damaged... perhaps from the cycling trouble, Ich-medicine exposure. It very likely does not have something that is catching. I would just keep it as you have been, and hope it straightens up. Bob Fenner>

Hatchet Fish Question 30 Jun 2005 Hi Mr. Fenner, <Patty> I was hoping you'd be able to help me with this fish question.  My hatchet fish is doing something very strange.  For the past few weeks, it has been swimming vertically and looks almost like it's doing a River dance jig.   Do you know if it is suffering some kind of ailment? <Possibly... damage to its gas bladder... from a parasite? Maybe from too much dry food...> Once in a blue moon, it'll flop down at the bottom of the tank.  The first time, I thought it was dead or dying and was about to scope him up when it flipped back up and started doing it's jig again.   It has been eating and seems to be aware of it's surroundings.  I personally think it might have hit it's head trying to jump out of the tank or something. <Another possibility, yes> Unfortunately, I think it's freaked out the other two hatchets in the tank, who are swimming normally. Appreciate any thoughts about this.   <You might want to add another specimen or two... these are social animals. Keep your tank covered! Bob Fenner> Patty  

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