Colisa lalia, C. chuna... "Dwarf" Gouramis of Many
Names, Honey, Flames, Neon Blue, Sunset, Fire...
FAQs on Dwarf Gourami Disease:
Dwarf Gourami Disease
1, Dwarf Gourami
Disease 2, Dwarf
Gourami Disease 3,
Dwarf Gourami Disease 4,
FAQs on Dwarf Gourami Disease by Category:
(Virus, Bacterial, Fungal),
Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives,
Genera Ctenopoma &
Dwarf Gourami Identification,
Dwarf Gourami Behavior,
Dwarf Gourami Compatibility,
Dwarf Gourami Selection,
Dwarf Gourami Systems,
Dwarf Gourami Feeding,
Dwarf Gourami Reproduction, & FAQs on:
Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting
Gourami with Dark Spots and Trouble Swimming
Hi, I have a male Dwarf Gourami who has lately been
staying at the bottom of the tank and has some odd discoloring.
His normal coloring is a pale blue almost the color of the sky but now
he has some spots that are odd.
One is on his tail and is nearly the color of a purple bruise fading out
to yellow near the edges. On the spots on the top of his
head they have a lighter muddy brown color. The same patches appear
throughout his body but are far more common on his front halve than
back. his front halve has become a white or quite pale blue where the
spots are not whereas on the back side he has normal coloring where the
spots are not he is standing nearly straight up and at a slight angle on
the bottom of the tank and only moves when frightened or by the prospect
of food. he is eating his fish flakes normally and his fins are normally
moving even though he is not swimming but his breathing seems to be that
he is taking more and more labored or larger breaths. About a month ago
we were having problems with nitrite but we have gotten that under
control. the test results from about 1 week ago are.
chlorine and chloramine 0.
Our tank has been set up since Christmas and have had trouble with ick,
swim bladder disorder, aggression, and mouth fungus on one fish.
We have 1 Dwarf Gourami, 1 Bumblebee Platy, 1 Adult Balloon Molly, 1
baby Balloon Molly (parents died from overaggressive fish we took back
to the store), 1 baby Guppy (was mistakenly given to us by PetSmart and
is in a baby net)1 Lyre-tail Guppy, 1Yellow Guppy, and 2 Mystery Snails
who recently died. We hope not to lose another fish so please
help. Thank You, Mary
Note: I had frightened him while taking the photo.
<Hello Mary, do read here:
The modern farmed Dwarf Gouramis are a sickly species to begin with, and
if you keep them in "liquid rock" hard water like yours, even the ones
that aren't sick at the time of purchase often fail to stay in good
condition for long. As a good rule of thumb, if your water is good for
livebearers, it's probably bad for Dwarf Gouramis as they need opposite
things. There's a limited amount you can do for an ailing Dwarf Gourami,
as the article will tell you. Possibly a course of antibiotics such as
Maracyn, but don't get your hopes up, especially if water chemistry is
wrong to begin with.
Gourami, Colisa lalia, no rdg.
I am inquiring as we have a sick little blue dwarf gourami and I think
our sunset platy isn't feeling well either.
<... have you read before writing us?>
We are very new at having fish (yes, I thought some water and a couple
of fish would be a nice easy pet for my kids who are allergic to
and the linked files above>
At any rate, we started with a 2-gallon Glo Fish
tank at Christmas which quickly turned into a disaster. After
several trips back to my local PetSmart they told us we had too small
of a tank. (Wish they would have told me that when they sold it to me!)
So, they suggested upgrading to a 5 gallon tank. That just seemed
silly, so I got a 10-gallon (had I done my own
research, I would have gone for a 20-gallon, but too
late!). We just started the tank about 6 days ago, and put fish
in on Day 2 (what is says on the instructions). We moved our poor
little gourami from the poisonous Glofish tank (the girl at the store
told me it was the WORST water she'd ever tested). Along with
him (or maybe her) we added a Sunburst Platy (female) to cycle
it. Our new 10-gallon tank has lots of plastic plants, a few real
plants, a filter, air bubbles, and a cave - plenty of cover. The
heater has been pretty consistent at 79 degrees. The two fish took a
couple of days to get used to each other but have seemed to get along
well the last couple of days. We have had the two fish in the
tank for a total of 5 days right now.
Last night, the Gourami was hovering near the heater/top corner/mouth
at the surface. He seemed to not be using one of his fins much
(clamped fin?), and wouldn't eat anything. I changed a couple
of gallons of water (using aquarium salt and water conditioner in our
hard AZ water). NOTE: I used RO water in our last tank and it was
super-acidic, so the pet store told me to use hard water from outside +
This morning both fish were hovering near the heater together (not
quite huddled up, but definitely within an inch of each other). The
platy swims around a bit, then comes back to the corner, but the
gourami has stayed there all day. This fish is named "Hunger"
because he eats all the time, but wouldn't even swim to snack on
bloodworms today, poor little guy.
Today, he has long strings hanging from him - does that mean
Poop didn't look like this before. He also looks a little darker in
I don't see anything that looks like Ich.
I had PetSmart test the water this morning and they said it was perfect
(it's hard/alkaline but they said these fish like it that way
instead of acidic/soft. Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites all in perfect
range.) So, what can I do to get these little guys better? My kids are
going to be heartbroken if we loose more fish (we lost a few in the
2-gallon "Glofish" tank) - What bad marketing to call that
thing a starter Glofish tank! But I digress.
Back to the new 10-gallon tank: I plan to continue to change a
bit of water daily while they are sick (using syphon), keep up the
aquarium salt (1 tbls per 5 gallons, just adding a proportionately to
new water, not to existing), I upped the temp just a bit to 80, and got
him some bloodworms to entice him to eat, as well as a home water test
kit (although that isn't the problem this time). Is it
parasites? Something else? Should we get him medicine?
Help! I'm trying but this is so frustrating to keep losing fish.
Sorry, that's so much info. Hope it makes sense and you can
Symptoms of the Blue Dwarf Gourami (from failed old tank since January,
but in this tank for 5 days - seemed fine and happy until last
Breathing at surface
Not moving around much (using only one fin at a time)
Darker in color
Long strings of feces
10 gallon Tank (6 days old):
Good water readings (Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates in good range,
according to pet store)
Lots of plastic plants & cover (just a few real plants)
Bubbles, heater at about 80, filter
Other fish is a Platy, seems a little sick too.
Using hard water + conditioner & salt
Usually feed them fish flakes, and just introduced blood worms
<Unfortunately, you've chosen one of the most dismal
species sold for aquarium use. I'd re-try w/ more hardy
stock. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/stkgSmFWSysF.htm
Re: Sick Gourami 3/7/12
Thank you so much for your quick reply. Your links are most
<Sorry to be the bearer of such ill news>
I had read around the site quite a bit before e-mailing, but
didn't quite know what I was looking for (I still have so much to
learn!). I have spent some time reading more today, and, as
I'm not quite ready to give up on this little guy, wondered if
he's having a hard time because we switched from the soft RO acidic
water that the pet store told me was toxic to him, to the outside hard
water that is nice and alkaline.
<Actually; unless the "outside" water is extremely
alkaline, hard, this is a move in the "right direction"...
What is the measured water quality?>
We are using a dechlorinator/conditioner (Tetra or Top Fin)
and aquarium salt (I thought the aquarium salt would soften it a bit
since salt is what is used in our "people" water
<Mmm, much to state here... the extra sodium is usually not a big
deal for potable purposes... but... I'd be reading re, considering
using just RO...>
I tested the water again today (test strips) and had Nitrates in the
"safe" zone (20 ppm),
<... this is the most I'd allow>
Nitrite in between the Safe (0) and Caution (.5)
zone, Total Hardness was very hard (300),
<Ours is higher...>
Chlorine (0), Alkalinity was ideal (between 120-180), PH was about 7.8,
and Ammonia was ideal (0). After the test, I changed out 2
gallons (20% of the 10 gallon tank) and replaced with our outside hard
water + conditioner + salt, then treated the tank with the
Jungle Lifeguard All In One treatment
<Mmmm, mostly salt>
(the only thing I could find that said it was for "fin clamp"
- this is day one of a 5-day course of the "full spectrum
non-antibiotic agent"). Both fish seemed sick and we don't
have a hospital tank set up yet, so I figured it would be best to treat
the whole tank. If they live, then great, and if not, then the
future inhabitants won't get sick - right? (We can discuss that
further if they don't make it.)
<... iridoviruses are pretty species specific, if this is what the
"cause" is here. Otherwise, Protozoans do have longish
lay-overs at times>
The Platy can't decide whether she's sick or not (rests on the
bottom, hovers on the top, hides, then swims around just fine and still
eating - might be preggers), and the Dwarf Gourami is definitely still
sick, but he came out and swam around and ate dinner tonight, so
he's certainly perkier.
I know this medication is not supposed to be for use in a new
tank, but I'm ignoring those directions. I have pulled out the
carbon filter (but the filter thing is still running) and air stone and
heater are of course still going. I saw some info that said to leave
the carbon filter in, and some that said to take it out so I went with
"take it out". According to the directions, I'm
supposed to put the carbon filter back in on day 6 and at that point do
a 25% water change (or a new filter?, but mine is only 7 days
<The carbon alone>
I assume since I have a new tank and the bio filter is not fully
<... also deadly toxic>
(I mean the tank is not cycled yet, we have only a "carbon"
filter), that my best bet will be to still check/change the water daily
while treating the tank? I presume that I am
"decycling" the tank with the meds while trying to cycle the
tank, so I just have to be extra vigilant with the water. I
realize that I have the wrong fish all together, but he's still
alive and we like him. Other than our fish selection (too late
for that!), am I doing anything terribly wrong with the above
<... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwcyctrbfix.htm
It may be to no avail, but at least the kids will know that we
<Better to inform oneself than experiment...>
Thanks again for all your insights!
<Keep reading. BobF>
Re: Sick Gourami
Thanks again. Once I realized I didn't know as much as I thought (I
read the tank directions very carefully:-) I have been reading as much
as possible, but also have sick kids and general crazy life at the same
time as my sick fishies, so I appreciate your quickly pointing us in
the right direction. I based my "experiment" on reading
as much as I could find.
Actually our little guy is doing great this morning. (And the Platy,
They're both swimming around, eating and using both fins... I
wasn't sure from your answer below if I should keep using the hard
water, but I think that's what you said.
So, I'm going to keep changing that water every day, and
keep doing the treatment (salt or whatever it is) for the rest of the 5
days, and just try to keep it non-toxic while cycling. I assume
that it's better to cycle him in the 10 gallon tank than to have
tried to keep him cycling the 2-gallon "death trap" - yes
that's a good name for it!
I also told the kids no more fishies until the tank is all
After reading the tank directions, the kids were all set for several
more fish this week (week 2) - ha ha! Who writes those directions for
brand new tank owners! This is what I get for asking the
"knowledgeable" staff at PetSmart. I asked a lot of
questions before I ever bought fish, thinking I had done all my
research, but apparently just asked the wrong people and got the wrong
Thanks again. I will continue to educate myself on our new pets
and check in with you again if you don't mind before adding any
more friends to our tank - AFTER it cycles all the way, right?
I am so thankful I found your site and truly appreciate your
Re: Sick Gourami - Salt Question
Ok, I think I have this temporarily under control and understand how to
proceed. Just one more quick question on salt.
My understanding is that in our tropical tank we should be adding
aquarium salt with every water change (1 rounded tablespoon for 5
gallons, so adding about 1.5 flat tsp per 2-gallon water change to keep
the fishies happy).
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
and the linked files above>
And as per the directions, I'm always to add salt, not just
when they are sick. I'm only adding new salt to the tank with water
changes. However, since I'm also doing the 5-day jungle all-in-one
treatment (which you said was mostly salt), should I continue to add
the aquarium salt with the water changes, or is that going to be too
(Assuming I'm going to be changing 20% of water daily for
the next week or so, or longer until we cycle, based on current
conditions.) Both the Dwarf Gourami and the Sunburst Tetra are
still swimming around (with all fins!) and happy this afternoon, and
I'd like to keep it that way.
Once again THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
<As many welcomes. B>
Likely sick Gourami and question
about tankmates... mis-mix env.
Hello there. I'm new to your site (just discovered it about half an
hour ago, in fact..), and found it through some searching on Google. I
have two questions, one about my Gourami (you can ignore this one if
you want, I've decided on it already, but extra assurance would be
nice), and another about potential tankmates.
I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 Silver Lyretail Mollies
(both are happy as could be, they're a pair),
<Mollies doesn't "pair" so this happiness could well
be short-lived. Male Mollies simply mate with any female they can catch
up with, and they will attempt to mate over and over again, whether
she's receptive or not. As the females become bigger and slower
through pregnancy, this unwanted attention becomes increasingly
stressful and can cause harm to the female as well as miscarriages.
Mollies should be kept in groups of at least two females per male so
the male cannot harass just one female all the time, and in any event,
10 gallons isn't enough space for a species that will become 8-10
cm/3-4 inches in length when fully grown.>
a Red Swordtail (male),
<An aggressive, fast-moving species adapted to cool, fast-flowing
streams. Not suitable for this aquarium.>
and a Powder Blue Gourami.
<Colisa lalia, a species that needs softer water than
either Mollies or Swordtails, and furthermore, intolerant of brackish
water (so not a good choice for use with Mollies) and needs warmer
water than Swordtails.>
I have a heater (and a thermometer) that keeps it at the correct
<Meaning what? Swordtails come from cool streams and need to be kept
between 22-24 C/72-75 F. Farmed fancy Mollies do better in warmer
water, around 25 C/77 F, and Gouramis need hothouse conditions because
they inhabit swamps and ponds with no water current, so 25-28 C/77-82 F
is required for them. Can you see the pattern here? At least one of
your fish species will be unhappy (and therefore stressed, more
disease-prone, and probably shorter-lived) at the conditions needed by
and an over-the-tank filter.
<Do bear in mind Mollies and especially Swordtails are
"jumpers" that will escape from any openings around the side
of the tank.>
This is a relatively new set up, and so it is sparsely decorated (a
skull decoration for them to hide in and two fake plants), but I'm
working on filling it up with more plants via live growing bulbs that
are beginning to sprout. By the way, yes, the water is brackish, just
as these species prefer, if I've read correctly.
<You haven't. Mollies do indeed do best in slightly brackish
water. It isn't 100% essential, but 50% of the time it makes them
easier to keep. But Swordtails do not want or like brackish water, and
Gouramis will be harmed by it. Again, a mismatch of aquarium fish
From my understanding, this variety of Gourami is part of the Dwarf
Gourami family, which is prone to DGD. From everything I've read on
your site, it would appear mine has come down with it.
Symptoms are as follows:
Slight lack of interest in eating.(TetraMin flakes for tropical fish)
Seems to be skinny; bulges on both sides and near its tail fin.
Lethargic, sits in the top left corner of the tank and doesn't
move. Sometimes turns on his side and swims in a totally incorrect
manner, or only favors one fin for part of the day. Seems to have lost
some of his color, less vibrant than before.
<Could be the Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus, but could just as easily be
poor environmental conditions. Your tank doesn't sound right for
this species. It's a swamp-dwelling species that needs soft,
slightly acidic water conditions and little/no water current. Such
conditions would pretty much kill Mollies and Swordtails stone-dead, so
I'm assuming you aren't providing them. My gut feeling here is
that poor care, rather than the virus, is the problem here. Do also
understand that many Dwarf Gouramis die from opportunistic Mycobacteria
infections (what aquarists, inaccurately, called "Fish TB")
and these infections are mostly triggered by environmental stress
rather than bad luck, though inbreeding may play a part too.>
Also, I've observed my Swordtail picking on him,
<See above. This is an aggressive species that needs a tank at least
90 cm/3 ft long to give it space to race about in. Look at its long,
streamlined shape. This is a fish designed for swimming! It doesn't
want to be cooped up in a 10 gallon aquarium.>
and earlier today noticed that his(or her) bottom fin and tailfin seem
to be picked on, and are a dull red color. His fins seem to be smaller
as well, and show the same signs of being picked at, but they're
still the same color. Could this disease(if he in fact has it, but he
shows all classic signs) have been triggered by stress? I only got him
about...maybe two weeks ago along with the others. At first the
Swordtail ignored him but he's been pestering him for a few days
Originally the mollies were the bullies to him, but they seemed to stop
(even though they look tempted to every so often.) Now, the
Gourami's tankmates at the pet store all looked happy and healthy,
but I will admit this specific one seemed a bit more dull and timid,
the employee didn't really let us choose which one we wanted so we
got stuck with this guy.
<As I've written many, MANY times on this web site and in fish
magazines, Colisa lalia is a species best avoided.>
So, is this truly DGD, and if it is, what can I do in terms of
painlessly killing him? That doesn't cost, obviously. I'm just
<Unfortunately, being 8 years old or whatever doesn't really let
you off the hook when it comes to treating animals humanely. So while
the Clove Oil method is cheap, it isn't free. Here in England a
bottle of Clove Oil costs Â£4-5, and it can be bought at
drugstores and health food shops. It's sometimes called Eugenol and
is sold as a treatment for toothache. The method is described here,
about halfway down:
None of the "free" methods is humane, and aren't
recommended by me or by vets.>
And, of course, if he doesn't die before you respond... It's
been about five days now.
<Actually, your problem is most likely the tank, not the fish. Move
him to his own soft water aquarium and he'll probably be
I wish I had known about how they were farmed and the fact they had
such a common disease, or I would have never bought one, especially not
for the five dollars I paid.
<You're learning the hard way. Stores will take advantage of
ignorance, and if you think they go easy on kids, you're in for a
disappointment. Spend the five dollars on an aquarium book, read it,
and then go shopping. You life will be a lot better!>
Secondly, when/if he dies, do you have any suggestions for tropical
tankmates for my remaining three fish?
<The fish you have don't belong.>
I don't want to overstock the tank but I think just the three fish
will be a bit empty, especially considering the Mollies stick together
nearly constantly, making it seem even more empty than it is.
I don't want more of the same fish, unless the Swordtail would be
happiest with a second. I've seen varied opinions on how happy
Swordtails are alone... Would tetras of some sort(obviously in schools)
be okay with the brackish, tropical water, and go well with my
obviously mean Swordtail? I was considering those already. As a note,
the Swordtail doesn't pick on the Mollies but loves to bug the
Gourami. What kind of fish will do with these? How many more small fish
(about the same size as a Molly, I mean) could fit until the tank is
<Your tank is already badly stocked. Time to figure out what to do
with the ones you have, then restock with sensible choices as per your
water chemistry (is it hard or soft) and the temperature.>
As a side note, are Swordtails meant to be jumpy?
<Yes, especially in small tanks.>
Mine constantly spooks at the slightest sudden movement, and jumps when
the tank light goes out, but the other fish don't.
<He doesn't belong in a 10 gallon aquarium. In fact beginners
shouldn't buy 10 gallon aquaria!>
Thanks for your time,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Sick Dwarf Gourami -- 09/09/10
Thank you for your help! I have a 10 gal freshwater tank with an
<Too small for Dwarf Gouramis, to be honest. Yes, they'll fit,
but they're so sensitive and so disease-ridden, you really want
"excellent" not "tolerable" conditions.>
It is the one that also has the Bio pad. Not a fancy set up...
NO2 is <.03
<Needs to be zero. No ifs, no buts. This species is so difficult to
keep anything less than perfect water quality is asking for
PH is 8
GH is 5
KH is 3
My tap water is hard @ 9 so the past 3 water changes have been with
distilled water which has reduced it to 8.
<A 50/50 mix of tap water and RO water should create good conditions
for Dwarf Gouramis. I would not otherwise mess around with pH or
hardness unless you're a real fishkeeping expert -- and fishkeeping
experts don't keep Dwarf Gouramis!>
I do a 20% water change weekly but did miss one weeks change due to
<Not the end of the world.>
The last change was on 9/3. I wash out the filters monthly but have not
done much gravel vacuuming because of the Kuhli loach. Also, I have run
out of regent to test for ammonia. Am I safe in thinking that as long
as NO2 is in line the ammonia is also?
<Both need to be zero. A nitrite test kit is all you need, and yes,
once nitrite is zero, you can be fairly sure ammonia is zero
I have 3 sunset platys, 2 double bar platys, 5 small neon tetras, 1
small Kuhli loach, and 1 powder blue Gourami. I am writing about the
<Far, FAR too many fish for 10 gallons. This aquarium would be about
right for, say, 8 Neon tetras and 3-4 Kuhli loaches. But that's
He has not been eating well for over a month now. He has only eaten
maybe 3 times in the last 3 weeks but until 3 or 4 days ago no other
changes. He is now hiding excessively, will not come out, does not swim
to tank front or swim at all really... When I first got him he was very
social and friendly. Anytime I was close to the tank he would swim and
wiggle just like the others but now seems scared of everything. I have
never seen any of the other fish nip or bother him. His sides are
looking sunken and I believe he is starving himself to death. I have 2
different flake food, dried blood worms and also feed green peas
weekly. I can not see any type of parasite, no sores or lesions of any
kind, his gills look OK. I just don't see what could wrong with
him. I am not seeing any clear or stringy feces... He has never been
aggressive and would often hang back at feeding time so I would make
sure he did get food by feeding him at the opposite end of the tank
from the others.
<Overall environmental stress would be my guess. Plus, this species
is prone to both Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV) and various
Mycobacteria and Nocardia infections.>
I have seen him brush a plant briefly twice but don't know if he is
"scratching"? I have also seen him sort of flinch (for lack
of a better word), like a quick jerk really, but not shimmy... and only
one time. I am really at a loss'¦
<Doesn't sound like Whitespot/Ick to me.>
He is my favorite and I hate to see him die or have to put him down but
don't know what may be wrong with him. I hate to just start dumping
meds in unless I know specifically what may be wrong with him. Also so
many meds are not safe with the loach. I do have a 5 gal set up as well
that I could move the loach to but don't want to spread anything
that might be contagious. All the other fish seem happy, healthy,
active, and have voracious appetites! Typical fish I guess!
I have just found out about this bacterial infection affecting so many
gouramis. I didn't know about it until I had purchased 3 already.
The first one in the 10 gal tank died within a week of bringing him
home. It was one of the sunset gouramis. He was bought at Petco and
they put him in a bag with 2 yellow mollies that almost pecked him to
death before I could get him home. Seemed he just never recovered. Now
I wonder if he may have had some disease that the blue one has gotten
from the tank?
<DGIV is highly contagious, and if one fish in the shop has it, they
likely all do. As for Mycobacteria, this disease may be quite common,
but it's environmental issues that trigger it from a latent into
its deadly phase. Neither are curable. Do read WWM re these diseases
I would be grateful for any help you can offer. I am a real softie and
can't stand anything to suffer... even the little fish. I will be
happy to answer any questions. I may be overlooking something that
would help you with a determination. Again, thank you!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami 9/10/10
Thanks for the much needed advice! I can do another water change and
also I have a c-100 Zeolite pillow I can put in the filter if need be.
I have read mixed reviews there. Some like them and some say will
absorb all ammonia and the beneficial bacteria will die off because
they starve. That would get the ammonia and nitrate/nitrate to 0. Wont
do anything until I hear your recommendations.
<Jan, Zeolite is for very specific situations. It's needed ONLY
where biological filtration can't happen. For example, hospital
tanks where antibiotics are used that kill filter bacteria (not all
antibiotics have that effect, but some do). Another example is very low
pH systems, because below pH 6 biological filtration doesn't
happen. If biological filtration is going on, you DO NOT need Zeolite.
Frankly, 99% of the people who buy Zeolite haven't the foggiest
idea what it's for or how to use it. Retailers will happily sell
you the stuff of course. After a couple of weeks the Zeolite will be
saturated with ammonia and/or covered in organic slime, so will be
useless anyway. In short, pointless. If you have non-zero ammonia and
nitrite levels, your issue is with overfeeding, overstocking, and/or
poor quality biological filtration. Look to those issues and fix
Re: Gourami Eye Problem 11/26/10
My gourami is still not well, so can I use sodium chloride (common
salt) in place of magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt)
<Salt won't make any difference. As stated before, your problems
are entirely made by YOU, because you are keeping TOO MANY fish in TOO
SMALL an aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>
Gourami... 10 gal. hex... dis... inherent, other
errors, no reading 4/17/10
I am a new aquarist with multiple problems. I have a 10-gal
<Have to tell you up front these are a total waste of money.
In terms of stocking, because they are tall and narrow, with a
poor surface area to volume ratio, they hold about as many fish
as an 8 gallon tank. Basically this tank is viable for a Betta, a
few Cherry shrimps, and maybe a couple of Dwarf African Frogs.
with a blue dwarf Gourami and golden Chinese algae eater.
<Dwarf Gouramis are notoriously delicate and plagued with
viral infections, so a poor choice for a tank like this, and
certainly need 15+ gallons anyway. As for the Chinese Algae
Eater, a fish neither from China nor good
at eating algae, you need to return this, NOW. Properly called
Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, it's a nearly useless fish, very big
and very aggressive. Maximum length is 35 cm/14 inches, and
it'll get that size within a year or so. Above 10 cm/4 inches
it is psychotically aggressive, especially in small tanks. Who
recommended this species to you? Either you read nothing at all
before shopping, or relied on a very untrustworthy retailer who
took advantage of your ignorance.>
I have live vegetation. (moss ball, and some other standard pet
store plant.) First, my tank is very hard to keep balanced, Ph
wise. ( I had a rock that caused massive imbalance.)
<Because it's uselessly small. If you have soft water to
begin with, the fact it's overstocked means pH will drop
dramatically between water changes.>
Secondly, I was having trouble with one of my fish, but could not
resolve the problem before going on a vacation. Caliente ( the
red one) was acting violently toward Frio (blue) before vacation;
hiding, and swimming erratically. I put in a vacation feeder, but
I suspect it didn't work.
<Probably worked fine, but overfed the tank. As we've
stated repeatedly, leave fish hungry when away. Much less
When I came back one of my fish (flame dwarf Gourami) was missing
and my other fish (blue) looked as if it had scars on it. I found
its chunk of flesh, bones, and brain case at the bottom of the
tank. I think he was eaten.
<Likely died, or at least became moribund, and the
Gyrinocheilus acted precisely as you'd expect, becoming a
Now, Frio has a spot near its head that looks as if it's
deteriorating away. I've been told it's a flesh eating
bacteria , but it might be Furunculosis.
<Nope, almost certainly standard issue Finrot caused by very
poor water quality.>
What do I do?????!?!!?!?!?!!!!!
<Read. Buy a bigger tank. Cycle without fish. After 3-4 weeks
of cycling, choose species appropriate to that size aquarium.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this system is doomed.
Re: Gourami 4/17/10
Thank you, I will more thoroughly research which fish are
appropriate for which tank, their susceptibility to diseases, and
so on. (Remember I'm a * new* aquarist)
<Lots of stuff here for beginners. Plus books galore. Do look
here for some of our favourites:
Many available online via Amazon for pennies if purchased
I'll let my current fish run their course then get a larger
tank and try again, but how do I treat for fin rot?
<Commercial Finrot remedy should work well, though remember to
use carbon; avoid salt and tea-tree oil "remedies" as
these tend to be unreliable. Fish won't get better if water
quality and chemistry are poor.>
By the way my tank is more base than acidic. If I get a 20 gal,
what are some good starter fish?
In soft water aquaria, most tropical fish are happy with the
exception of livebearers, some Rainbowfish and some cichlids. But
soft water tanks are prone to pH changes, so don't overstock.
Re: Gourami 4/17/10
Ok, are you sure it's fin rot? (Pictures attached)
<Not sure from these blurry photos. Looks a bit like a
Mycobacterium or even viral infection (e.g., Dwarf Gourami
Iridovirus). Neither are curable, and DGIV is also high
contagious. Mycobacterium infections are contagious
too, but tend to occur where chronically poor water conditions
exist, such that the fish's immune system can't protect
the fish naturally. Both these diseases are discussed in depth
elsewhere on WWM. I've also written many
times here at WWM how I wouldn't even think about
recommending or buying Colisa lalia, the species you have here.
Among other reasons, the quality of commercial stock is so dire,
and so inbred, that Mycobacterium
infections are much more common that they should be. This has
been discussed for at least 20 years -- I've got a old copy
of Baensch's Aquarium Atlas that mentions the problem. So
once again we come back to the issue of reading about the needs
of fish before buying them. Online sources vary wildly in
quality, whereas books tend to be written by genuine experts and
edited professionally. So if you're a beginner, you really
can't afford NOT to buy a decent book. Colisa fasciata and
Colisa labiosa are infinitely better choices for beginners. One
last thing, we do specifically ask for photos to be no larger
than about 500 KB in size; yours were 3-4 MB each!
That clogs up our space available for other people's
messages. So please, if you send more photos, do reduce them in
size before sending them along. We offer just about the best
fishkeeping help you're going to get anywhere without paying
for it, but we do ask that our few basic rules are met; not
because we're jerks, but because those rules exist to make
life easier for everyone who visits WWM. Cheers, Neale.>
Sick Dwarf Gourami... is it 4/1 already?
I`ve got a Dwarf Gourami named Snookeroo. I bought him in October 2009
around Halloween, a few days after the Breeder`s Cup races (if you
watch horse racing that`d help...lol I don`t keep track of days well.).
I keep him alone in a large (1 3/4 gallons, I was told it was OK),
<Is definitely NOT okay. Is this an early April Fool's joke? Or
a typo? I hope so. But if you really are keeping this fish in a 1.75
gallon tank, then frankly, that's why he's dying. 1.75 gallons
isn't an aquarium, let alone a "large" one; it's a
bucket. You CANNOT keep this fish, or indeed any tropical fish, in 1.75
gallons. Stick some cut flowers in it instead. They're already
dead, so there's no harm to be done.>
with a fake plant and a small toy polar bear. I couldn`t afford
floating plants really, so I put in a floating toy fish (I know I
should probably get a floating plant, but he likes the fish, lol).
<Look, I don't want to be mean, but saying "laugh out
loud" doesn't diminish the fact you're being cruel to this
animal, and what's worse, you seem to know that. You have some
vague sense of what this fish needs, but instead you choose not to
offer those things. It's hard for me as someone who likes animals
to be polite in situations like this, so please forgive me my
He`s got gravel at the bottom of course, so the habitat should be
Everywhere I`ve read they said no bubbles were necessary (part of the
reason I chose Dwarf Gourami), so he has no bubbles.
<Bubbles? Do you mean filtration or aeration? Gouramis absolutely do
need filtration. In short, they need at least a 15 gallon aquarium with
a heater and a filter. Water temperature should be not less than 28
C/82 F given that this species comes from hot, humid ponds. Water
quality must be excellent as this species is rather delicate; we're
talking 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. 25% water changes per week will be
important. A hood is required to trap a layer of warm, humid air on top
of the tank. Without this, they are easily "chilled" because
they are air-breathers.>
I`ve put a paper towel (with air holes between the bowl and the paper
towel) over the tank to keep him from jumping (I had an incident with a
Betta, and wanted to discourage any jumping) and to help increase
<A paper towel won't increase humidity; it is porous and wicks
away moisture. It's a towel! That's what towels do! I mean
honestly, what are you thinking? Tiny tanks, seemingly no filtration,
paper towels for hoods...? Did you read ANY aquarium books before you
spent your money?>
He seemed fine and happy, but was uninterested in food on and off and
had kind of labored breathing, he seemed well otherwise.
<You are killing him.>
I got busy though, and didn`t clean his bowl like I should`ve (though
he still seemed OK) so I cleaned it and now here I am.
<With a dying fish. And me, my teeth are grinding just reading
His color dulled almost immediately and the scales around his gills
became scruffy (over a few days).
<You are killing him.>
I gave a small dose of Melafix to see what that did, and he seemed to
like it, but the next day when I went to give him a second dose, he
freaked and started darting around the bowl.
<You are killing him.>
I did an immediate water change and discontinued the treatments. I came
home today, and he was almost sideways floating at the top gasping for
air and his water smelled peppery (it didn`t smell weird yesterday,
that I know of).
<You are killing him.>
I removed the paper towel to allow for more oxygen and that helped, he
now right side up. I did a water change as well (not much of one, maybe
10-20%). Oh yeah, his poop`s been stringy and white and red (normal
<You are killing him.>
I believe he`s dying as I`m typing.
<Thank all the gods! She finally understands! Yes, you are killing
I haven`t tested the pH, I didn`t even know that test kits existed
until recently (never needed them, my only other fish are 6 Bettas and
2 guppies with no problems except one Betta gets fin rot real easy
(inborn problem I think) if moved to a new location.
<I don't even want to think about this...>
But the water is room temperature (my room stays about 70-75 degrees
<Too cold. You know when you went to the pet shop and it had a big
sign that said "tropical fish"? Well, the word
"tropical" means "from the tropics" not "from
places about as warm as your house". It's actually quite
simple. Keeping tropical fish? Don't live in Southeast Asia? Buy a
If you don't want to buy a heater, then don't buy tropical
fish. What you're doing is animal cruelty. You can dress up the
tank with plastic toys and give the fish a cute name, but you're
still abusing that animal.
Sticking it in a food blender would at least be a quick death. What
you're doing is slowly killing it.>
So now, his symptoms are labored breathing, unbalanced, dulled color,
white and normal colored poop, roughed up scales on the gills, and
almost complete loss of appetite.
<You are killing him.>
It`s been around 5 months since I got him. I`m just hoping its not
Dwarf Gourami Disease (I knew about it before I bought him, but got him
anyway despite the risk, I tend to gamble on things a lot).
<Not Dwarf Gourami Disease. It's actually something else called
"Pet owner who seemingly doesn't give a damn disease".
Note the use of the word "seemingly" there. I really, really
am a nice guy, but since we'll never meet you'll probably never
know that. So I have to take what you've written on face value. You
may be someone who is really nice to animals, but from your e-mail, I
can't see that at all. And I'm here spending 20 minutes of my
life writing back to you because I REALLY DO CARE. But honestly,
you're doing everything wrong here. I can't make up my mind
whether this is a joke or you really are treating this poor fish this
way. If it is a joke, then ha ha, you got a rise out of Neale. But if
this is for real, then good heavens you have a lot of work to do! Do
start by reading here:
<Short of buying a proper aquarium with a heater and a filter and a
hood, this fish WILL die. And you will have killed it. So before you
write back telling me what an awful person I am for being so rude when
you came here for help, think about that. You are more than welcome to
write back and yell at me. I don't mind in the least. But I'd
also like you to write back telling me what you propose to do to turn
things around. Can I help? Yes.
Can this fish be saved without spending some money on a proper
No. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami... Not a prank
I`m not gonna yell at you, its not your fault. I checked several
websites and they all said the same thing and I never found anything
about tank size.
<Oh, I see. Well, you've discovered Wet Web Media so that
shouldn't be a problem any longer.>
Can't afford books and the library doesn`t have any good fish
<Can you get an interlibrary loan? Here in England at least, even if
you have a tiny local library, for 50 whole pence about 80 cents)
they'll get in any book you want that's owned by the county
its all fishing guides and a book on what kind of fish are available to
fish keepers, and that only gave a brief about the fish. That`s the
book that led me to want a Dwarf Gourami.
The PetSmart guy said they needed about everything a Betta does (that`s
what I`m used to keeping, and successfully. My first Betta is about 3
years old), except different food.
<No, unfortunately while Bettas can survive in jars of water (hardly
optimal, but it *can* work sometimes) Gouramis most certainly cannot be
kept this way. Let me put it another way, if you can afford the three
dollars or whatever for a Dwarf Gourami, you would be very wise to
spend those three dollars on a used aquarium book. Over on our section
of books for beginners, we have a listing of some books you can buy
this way from Amazon.
I just looked and the "A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your
Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" is selling, used, for one whole
cent. Sure, delivery will be a couple bucks on top of that, but really,
it's a steal.>
The paper towel was temporary until my parents could get me the pet
store. I thought bubbles were just for putting oxygen in the
<Not really, no. What air bubbles do is move the water about. The
bubbles pull water from the bottom to the top, and the circulation
improves the rate at which oxygen gets into the bottom layer of water.
It also helps even out the water temperature. But by themselves bubbles
are trivially important, and most aquarists don't need to add
bubbles to their tanks.
Heaters and filters are much more important.>
I keep my Bettas in tanks without bubbles or filter (I clean and do
water changes instead).
<Just about acceptable for Bettas, but to be reliably, you need the
Betta jars to be kept in a heated fish room and the water changes need
to be daily. Most folks who keep their Bettas in unheated jars end up
with a dead Betta.>
Everything I was told was wrong, everyone I talked to said I was doing
it right, and now I`m paying for it.
Gah, screw ups seem to be centered on me now. I`ve been screwing up a
lot lately (on other things, not my fish except Snookeroo), now I just
want someone to cuss me out and punch me in the face or just flat out
beat me up.
<I'm sorry to be that one. But honestly, I really do care about
you and your fish. That's why I spend so much time here at
I deserve it.
Thank you though, every forum I`ve tried never said anything, You`re
the only one who`s given me the answer. He died an hour after I wrote
this, at least he`s not being tortured anymore. If I`d have found ya`ll
even a day sooner, I could`ve gotten a 15 gallon and possibly saved
<May well be. Do read around though. We have some ideas on good
species for small tanks and for beginners. Start here:
If you don't want to add a heater, there are plenty of coldwater
fish that can do well in a filtered 15-gallon tank. North Americans are
particularly well served in this regard, with some lovely (and lively!)
small livebearers and killifish they can even collect
That`s my luck though, always too late. I do care, otherwise I wouldn`t
have wrote. Thank god I`m better with mammals.
<In fairness to fish, they're actually longer-lived and
generally healthier than most mammal pets, and much easier to keep than
reptile pets. But they do need a couple of non-negotiable things like
clean water and the right temperature. Get those right, and choose the
correct fishes for your aquarium size and skill level, and they're
actually very easy to keep!
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami 3/26/10
My Bettas are doing well, my 3 year old is still in good condition, as
well as the others, I don`t think the lack of a heater is affecting
<It's a gamble. Bettas are probably annual fish in the wild, or
close to it anyway. In captivity keeping them a little cooler than
their preferred 28 C/82 F will extend their lifespan, but the risk is
that the colder a fish is kept below its optimal temperature, the more
likely it is to get sick.
On the other hand, if a fish is cooler rather than warmer, its
metabolism is slower, so it's producing less ammonia, so poisons
will accumulate in the water more slowly. But then again, below its
optimal temperature a fish can't digest its food properly. For most
fish, the perfect temperature is what they'd experience in the
wild, and for Bettas, that's warmer rather than colder. Visiting
Fishbase is a great way to check the conditions a fish is known to
tolerate in the wild or under lab conditions.
See here for Betta splendens:
I meant physically, I wish someone would punch me.
<I don't do that... sorry.>
Ya, fish are very long lived. They can get into their 40s and 50s some
of them. I don`t have PayPal or any kind of card so internet buying is
kind of out. I can get books from other libraries for free, but you
have to know the title of the book and I didn`t know of any.
<Hence that web page of books all of us at WWM recommend. To be
fair, we also *write* books, so you can trust us! There's lots of
information on the Internet of course, but it isn't edited and you
can't always tell who knows what they're talking about and who
I`ll look for the set up book though. Thanks, I`m going to read the
page you sent. What`s the worst thing a guppy could pass to another
guppy besides Ich?
<Not much really. Crossbred ("feeder") Guppies are pretty
hardy right out of the box. Fancy Guppies, not so much.
I want to move mine to a 15 gallon and get 2 more, but I don`t want to
risk disease. If they`re at high risk I`ll get an extra pump and use
their old tank for quarantine. This is the last time I listen to a pet
<Hmm... well, while some pet store people are skilled hobbyists well
worth talking to, others are less valuable in this regard. Basically
treat them how you'd treat someone selling a car or showing your
around a new home -- listen politely, but verify everything they say
What about blind cave fish, would they be OK to keep without a
<Depends. This species comes from Mexico, so we're talking
fairly warm water. To be fair, the caves are cooler than above ground,
but going below 18 C/64 F won't be good for them. Best kept around
22-24 C/72-75 F. They also need somewhat hard, neutral to basic water
to do well.>
Would they live OK in a 15 gallon with guppies?
<No, Blind Cave Tetras are very nippy. They're also hyperactive,
and a 15 gallon tank is a bit small for a fish that gets to a good 8
cm/3 inches long. You need a school of them, too. Wild fish feed of bat
droppings, but in captivity they're very hardy and easy to keep,
and in the right aquarium, fascinating pets. They look lovely in a tank
with a dim red light, black sand, and lots of rocks -- like a
Thanks for the help.
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami 3/26/10
Heaters are kind of expensive and I don`t have the money to buy 6 of
them right now, especially since the water isn`t too cold.
<"Too cold" is a subjective term. What's warm to you
may be too cold to a tropical fish...>
I should be set now. I`m going to move them to a 15 gallon with a
heater and ad 2 more. I`ve got 2 Fancy guppies.
Ya, there`s a lady at PetSmart who`s a fish keeper, I listen to her and
I`ve got a friend who works there too, and I listen to her. They`re the
only 2 that I pay much mind to.
I`ll start reading more fish books, knock down 2 sticks with one whack.
I needed something to read, I finished my list of books. I`ll get Blind
Cave Tetras sometime, but I don`t have any room for anything bigger
than a 15 gallon anymore (I have a lot of interests, to say the least).
I`ll probably get one of those huge aquariums, the kind used for
reefs, and deck it out cave style, maybe buy a fake skull of some sort.
I found out we still have a 15 gallon, actually 2, but one was
previously used for a lizard/lizards and one for a king scorpion. Would
that affect the Fancy Guppies even after cleaning with just water, or
should I use something to help decontaminate?
<Simply cleaning with warm water should be fine. No
The rocks I have are cycled, so would the tank still need cycling?
<Yes. Rocks don't carry many bacteria. If they did, why do you
think we'd bother with filter? The bacteria need to be in a porous
place with a constant flow of oxygen-rich water. Sponges, ceramic
Undergravel filters are good, but just a bed of gravel won't
Sorry if I`m taking up a lot of time, I just want to make sure I get
everything right this time.
<Plenty to read here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami
Thanks for your help. Its good to know that someone`s there to
Keep up the good work.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami 4/11/10
Ok, I got a filter, could I cycle with just a filter?
<You cycle aquaria only when there's a source of ammonia. Daily
pinches of flake similar to what you'd use to feed your fish would
do the trick. Test for nitrite until it rises and then drops to zero.
Should take at least 3 weeks, potentially up to 6.>
It`ll take a while to get the heater and I`d like to get the tank
cycled as soon as I can. I`ll probably need to increase the temperature
slowly to 70 degrees when I put`m in so I don`t stress them anyway,
<Stress who? The existing fish? Keeping tropical fish at room
temperature will be stressing them already. The quicker you install a
heater, the better. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Dwarf Gourami
That`s why I was asking, cause the sooner its cycled, the sooner I can
get them in the 10 gallon, and the heater should be installed around
<Indeed. Well I guess my work here is done. Good luck,
Yet Another Question about a (Potentially) Sick Dwarf
Dear WWM Crew,
I'm sure you get sick of the seemingly never-ending string of
questions about Dwarf Gourami problems.
<Yes, I do. If I could, I'd ban these fish from the hobby.
The farmed stock is simply diabolical in terms of quality, and
retailers sell them far too
frequently to inexperienced aquarists. By all means keep locally
bred fish, but farmed Colisa lalia make about as useful pets as
Nevertheless, I have a concern that I cannot find a solid answer
for anywhere on the web. The only abnormality I see in the fish
is that his eyes seem quite sunken into his head. Otherwise, he
behaves healthily: he is active and he eats eagerly.
<Seemingly a secondary bacterial infection, likely some type
of Mycobacteria, but possibly something easier to treat.>
He is in a tank I set up about a month and a half to two months
ago. I bought him recently--within the last week. I realize now I
should have held him in a quarantined tank prior to introducing
him into the main tank.
Here's what I have:
A 10 gallon tank with a Marineland Bio-Wheel Power Filter 100
<Too small for this species; 15-20 gallons, minimum. Sure,
it's a small fish, but it's also a feeble one, and the
more space, the less water quality becomes an issue. Do
understand that water quality isn't all about what ammonia
and nitrite is at the instant you measure it, but also how
diluted the ammonia and nitrite are during those periods when
levels rise, e.g., after feeding.>
Red Sea's Plant Success Flora Base as the substrate 4 Cherry
Barbs - 2 males, 2 females A few snails The Dwarf Gourami - Male.
I do 20% changes each week with water run through Aquarium
Pharmaceutical's Tap Water Purifier. When I returned another
Dwarf Gourami that I was suspicious about (head holes), the Petco
people that tested my water told me that the sample's quality
was excellent. Ammonia was at 0.
This was about a week and a half ago.
Any ideas about the odd eyes? I don't know if it is just an
quirky characteristic, or is indicative of something worse. The
latter wouldn't surprise me, given what I've read about
<Would treat with an antibiotic like Maracyn, while optimizing
water conditions (pH 6.5-7, 5-10 degrees dH, around 26-28 degrees
C) and offering as varied a diet as possible. If there's any
sign of swelling, dosing with Epsom salt at 1-3 teaspoons per
gallon is also helpful, but there's no need for this if there
isn't any swelling. If one antibiotic doesn't work, try
another: each uses different antibiotics (Erythromycin,
Minocycline, etc) and each of these work best on particular types
of bacteria. Do read this excellent review, taking note of Table
1 when shopping:
By the way, the pictures shown make the visible socket area
surrounding the eye look very dark or black. In actuality, it is
more of a fleshy color.
Thanks for your help,
Re: Yet Another Question about a
(Potentially) Sick Dwarf Gourami 5/30/2009
Thanks for the help.
<Happy to help.>
One more question then: do you have other suitable suggestions
for fish that can be adequately kept in 10 gallon tanks?
<Seek and ye will find:
New Gourami 05/23/09
New Gourami Adjusting To New Tank
Hi! I have read through your FAQ page and Google, and cant find the
exact answer I'm looking for. Basically I just bought a new blue
dwarf Gourami, and I have never had one before. I have brought the pH
of tank down to 6.5 and it is set to 26 degrees Celsius. There is no
nitrate, nitrite or ammonia in the tank. Basically the fish is swimming
fine half the time, but then will stop and float randomly. or tilt to
the side. is this normal behaviour? To me it looks strange/odd for a
fish to do this if it is well...
Other fish in the tank:
2 platies, 2 guppies (its pretty quiet at the moment!)
I would really appreciate a reply, I love the look of these fish but I
have only ever had livebearers and catfish previously!
Kind regards, Georgina
<The fish store probably had hard alkaline water. You Gourami
probably is having some difficultly adjusting to the lowered pH. Much
of the country has hard alkaline water. When you add new fish that are
not adjusted to the new water then there may be problems. Try to keep
the water consistent at the present levels for awhile and see if his
Re: new Gourami -New Gourami Adjusting.
pH Question 05/23/09
Thanks so much for the fast reply Chuck, The Gourami is doing better!!
no more floating anyway! I just have one more quick question - when I
tried to lower the pH of the tank - it was jumping around too much for
it to be healthy.... how would you suggest lowering the tank to 6.5
safely (it is currently at 7)? I have bought pH down, and also a
container of proper pH 6.5. My tap water is around 7.5 so I cant really
just keep it at that.
Kind regards, Georgina
< Adjusting the pH can be a very dangerous game to play. Your tap
water is 7.5 and probably the tap water at the local fish store is
probably 7.5 too. If you change the pH of your aquarium then all the
new fish may have
problems adjusting like your Gourami. Most fish will do OK at a pH of
7.5 once they are use to it but the soft water varieties probably
won't breed. Wild South American fish seem to have the most
problems like cardinal tetras. If you do want to lower the pH there is
an OK way and a very good way. The OK way is to take a 5 gallon bucket
and fill it with your tap water. Add the pH down as per the directions
on the package. Check it after 24 hours. Add more pH down if needed.
Check every day until the pH you want is stable for 24 hours. Then use
this water for water changes changing no more than 10% of the water at
a time. Slowly over a few weeks the acidified water will be at the pH
you desired. The best way is to take R/O water and add a buffer to set
the pH where you want it. Follow the same procedure in a 5 gallon
bucket. I would not recommend messing with the pH for the fish species
you currently have.-Chuck>
I have a sick red flame Gourami. As
usual, no reading... and am worried re losing NealeM.
<Colisa lalia... a very inbred, badly reared species. Not worth
Plagued with bacterial and viral diseases. For any degree of success
you need to start with a healthy specimen and then provide it with very
good conditions; specifically, soft, acidic water, warmth, and good
Not exactly sure if it's a male or female. Would guess it is male.
I noticed that it started sitting in the top corner of our 30 gallon
fish tank. The tank includes 1platy, 1 gold Gourami, 1 red flame
knife fish, 2 algae fish.
<What's an "Algae Fish"? Do be aware that
Pterygoplichthys and Gyrinocheilus spp. are all huge fish, and the
latter genus is incredibly mean, both towards its own kind and anything
else the aquarist has been
silly enough to keep with them. Gold Gouramis (Trichogaster
trichopterus) is another doubtful choice; males are very
The tank maintains a temp. between 74-76 degrees.
<Perfect temperature for Platies, but a little cool for Gouramis,
which would like things a degree or two warmer. Do research the needs
of your fish *before* purchase. If you keep fish together that have
requirements, then at least some of them will get sick.>
There are live plants planted within the tank. There are two carbon
<What? What's a "carbon filter"? Do understand carbon
is largely useless, and all it does is remove dissolved organic acids
and the like. Provided you're doing 25% water changes every week,
it's redundant. You need biological media and some mechanical
Water changes are 50-75% every three months.
<Insane. Honestly. Who suggested this? Please read a book!>
The rocks are changed every few weeks for enrichment.
<For what...? Fish don't need "enrichment" as such,
though I understand you've perhaps come across this idea from TV
shows about zoos and whatnot.
Fish need a healthy, stable environment. If you have more than one
specimen and/or multiple species in the tank, then there's plenty
of stimuli in the tank already. Moving the rocks about will merely
annoy those fish that hold territories, potentially leading to new
struggles as fish fight over territories and hierarchies.>
I feed them tropical fish food twice a day and blood worms and brine
shrimp for treats.
As I continued to watch I noticed that he was slightly bloated. It is
just his abdomen that is swollen. When I look at him from the top he
looks sort of pineconed but not as bad as the pics I have seen on
dropsy. I QT him in a one gallon tank and immediately started Googling
<A one gallon tank is a pickle jar. It's not a quarantine tank.
No fish transferred to such a ridiculously small container will get
better. Please, stop and think about what you're doing! How could
you possibly provide good water quality, temperature stability in such
a small container?>
The QT tank is at 76 degrees. I am in the process of trying to get the
water temp higher, but do not know how successful I will be at that, bc
the heater is not reaching a higher temp than 76.
<If it can't make the tank any warmer than this, is obviously
too small. That's a bad thing: a heater that "struggles"
and has to stay on for extended periods is more likely to fail.>
I came to the conclusion that he had dropsy.
<Dropsy is a symptom, not a disease; it merely means abdominal
So I treated the QT tank with Epsom salt treatment.
<You'll notice we talk about using medication alongside Epsom
salt; by itself, why would Epsom salt help with a systematic bacterial
Always think about what you're doing!>
Soon after being QT he started obtaining a fungus like spot. I assume
it is fungus bc it is fuzzy and white.
So I treated him with fungus clear. A day later I noticed a white
substance stringing out of his anus.
The things I read about internal parasites says look for red spikes
sticking out of anus. Could not see any. He is moving about more than
what he was. Has no appetite. I am stuck on a diagnosis. I am
considering egg bound in case he is a she, dropsy, or internal
<Not egg bound.>
I have treated him for all, but he is not getting better or worse.
<You've actually treating him for nothing relevant.>
His abdomen has not gotten much bigger.
<Dropsy is usually fatal with fish this small simply because
it's a sign of systemic infection and organ failure. Dropsy is
"cured" by preventing it. My feeling here is that your tank
is badly managed, and anything half-way delicate simply won't
survive the way you keep fish. Sorry to be harsh, but at least I'm
What do I do?
<Do read here for basics of care:
Then look up some ideas about suitable fish for different skill levels,
water chemistry, and aquarium sizes:
I am trying to keep the water clean. I am adding a drop of Quik cure
I think I am going to try and fast him for a couple of days.
<And that would help how...>
It isn't like he is eating much anyways. I did add 1/8 tsp of Epsom
salt to the tank one day ago.
<Read about Euthanasia; this fish is doomed:
Re: sick red flame Gourami --
To whom it may concern,
<That would be me, Neale Monks, BSc, PhD and general all-around fish
expert by appointment to the sensible and open-minded.>
I did not ask you how to care for a community tank. I strictly asked
for advice about my Gourami.
<These two things are related, and you can't separate them. To
give an analogy, it's like trying to deal with drug crime strictly
through law enforcement without also considering issues such as
addiction treatment and
urban development. There's an interconnection between things, and
those of us who know something about the subject try to explain that to
those who don't. Once you understand the situation, you'll be
in a better position to make sensible decisions, solve existing
problems and prevent new problems.>
Obviously you have no customer service skills, because the way this was
handled was very unprofessional and uncalled for.
<I'm sorry you see things that way. But remember, you're not
I'm not paid anything. You're a person who's making
mistakes, and I'm an expert who, because I care about animals, is
willing to spend time helping you. If you don't want the right
advice and intelligent exposition, then feel free to do whatever else
you want. It's a shame for your fish, but I'll sleep well
knowing I tried my best to help you and help your animals.>
I realize that I did not fully supply you with the correct information
concerning my tank. The tank is my husbands thing and he has been
working out of town for the past few months so I have been maintaining
it for him.
I know just enough to keep it maintained. So, as a concerned person for
my fish, I turned to you and you harshly put me down.
<I don't see my response as harsh at all. I think you're
mistaking honesty and reality for harshness. Just because I didn't
tell you what you wanted to hear, then you're seeing that as
criticism. It's really not. Your
aquarium has a series of fundamental problems, all potentially
interconnected and without me standing next to the tank and looking at
it, I have to assume that at least some of them are related to your
All I wanted was advice on how to hopefully cure my fish and that I did
<You said you'd read our article on Dropsy, but then only
mentioned Epsom salt. I reminded you that you MUST use an antibiotic
alongside the Epsom salt, and also that unless you fix the
environmental issues that caused the Dropsy, treatment is pointless. So
if you read my message, you'll see I gave you precisely the three
things needed to cure Dropsy (if it's going to be cured) --
medication, Epsom salt, environmental improvement.>
We have had this tank and most of the same fish for almost two years
and have never had any severe problems until now.
<Big deal. Two years. Your Dwarf Gourami is likely going to be dead
in a few days, when it should have a lifespan on 5 years. More
importantly, as fish get bigger (and your algae eaters will do, if
they're the species I mentioned) they produce more waste. So as
time passes, the aquarium steadily becomes more and more heavily
stocked, and a crisis point can be reached if your aquarium and filter
aren't of adequate size. None of this is personal bias. It's
out there in any aquarium book.>
So obviously we do know how to maintain an aquarium.
<I didn't say that; I said you'd made some questionable
choices, and if my suspicions are correct about the algae eaters, some
very serious problems are waiting around the corner.>
Some of the irrelevant information you supplied me with is false.
<Which bits. Show me. I write for most of the English language
aquarium magazines, lots of websites, I've written the first
brackish water fish encyclopaedia, I have a BSc and a PhD, I worked at
the Natural History
Museum in London and as a marine biologist in Scotland, and I've
been keeping freshwater, brackish water and marine fish for 25 years.
I'm hands-down the most expert fishkeeper you're ever going to
talk to. I gave
you the best possible advice I could given the information I was
working with. If you feel short changed, remember: you paid nothing, I
promised nothing. I gave you 20 minutes of my time, time I'll never
get back. If you want to pay for a vet, then go ahead. Otherwise,
you're not going to get better advice anywhere, and certainly not
Next time someone comes to you for advice, think twice on how you
<I think not. I'll carry on being honest. I don't really
feel the need to candy-coat stuff just because some people don't
want to hear that they've made mistakes. If you wanted someone to
lie to you, to sugar coat their lack of understanding, or just
generally advise out of ignorance, then please, feel free to go
Eventually you will receive a bad rep if this type of customer service
<Quite the reverse in fact. We have an enviable reputation and
plenty of site visitors. Most people "get" what we're
offering. We're not selling anything; we're sharing hard-earned
experience with aquarists all around the world. We get plenty of
thank-you notes. "Customer service" doesn't really come
into the equation; I dare say the guy at your local big-box pet store
will offer plenty of customer service because he's making a sale --
but he'll also be offering dubious advice and will happily sell you
fish you can't keep and equipment you don't need. Over here, we
trade in honesty and reality. I'm sorry that neither of these
appealed to you. Cheers, Neale.> <<Well done Neale!
Sick Flame Dwarf Gourami 2/28/08 Hey guys, I
found your site when I was researching how to care for my two new green
spotted puffers, but I've found your help so invaluable with them
that I was hoping you'd be able to help me with one of my other
tanks. I have a 20 gallon freshwater tank, and in it live 3 dwarf
Gouramis (the normal, red with blue striped variety -- all male), 3
dwarf flame Gouramis (also all male), 3 balloon body mollies, and 3
Danios (2 leopard, 1 zebra). I've had this tank for probably about
two months, and it's completely cycled, but I'm going through a
bit of an ammonia spike right now -- <?> exact numbers to follow
below. The Gouramis were the last fish I added, and they've been in
there for several weeks now. Recently (within the last 2 days) I've
noticed that one of my dwarf flame Gouramis looks rather ill. He's
laying on the bottom of the tank, gulping air. He's more or less
propped himself up against the side of the tank. He's not
interested in food, though he is still responsive to stimuli (including
the other fish coming over and checking him out. I've had no
aggression problems at all, and my tank is filled with lots of plants
(floating and rooted) in addition to various other forms of cover.
Something isn't right with him, but I don't know what. Water
temperature is 78.2 degrees. There's a bit of salt in the water for
the mollies (following the recommendations on the API Aquarium Salt
box), though I wouldn't call it salty enough to be brackish...just
enough salt to keep the mollies happy (which they certainly seem to
be... piggy little buggers). Readings are as follows: 0 ppm Nitrites.
20 ppm Nitrates (holy crap...I just did a 20% water change
yesterday...how did that happen?) <Accumulates easily...) The
ammonia levels are reading somewhere between 0 and .25 ppm, but it
looks much closer to 0 (sorry, my ability to distinguish colors is just
not what I wish it was...) <Mine neither...> pH is around 7.6
(it's usually between 7.6 and 7.8). What's going on with my
tank??? <Something perhaps amiss with the test kit...> No one
else in there seems to be having problems, though with nitrate levels
like that I fear they soon will be. What do I do? Thanks for any help!
Micah <Add some biological filtration (an "auxiliary"
filter...)... For the Colisa Gouramis... they're notorious for
being imported with persistent Hexamita/Octomita et al. protozoan
infestations... and a particularly nasty virus... Please read here re:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm Bob Fenner>
Gourami/tank troubles 07/23/07
I have been reading your site to try to find out what to do for my tank, but I think that I have several problems going on, and I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to start dumping things in to fix everything, especially when I'm new at this.
1st problem. Overall alkalinity is high. I assume it is because of our extremely hard water. the pet store said that theirs is always high too.
<Almost never a problem. Freshwater fish are very adaptable. Provided you do water changes around 50% per week to keep the water chemistry stable, and use adequate filtration to keep the water quality high, the fish don't usually care. It's a mistake to get hung up on water chemistry unless you're keeping fishes that need specific environments, like Lake Malawi cichlids or blackwater
Rasboras. Most of the common stuff, barbs, gouramis, angelfish, etc., are very adaptable. Better still, choose species that *like* your water chemistry, so the "problem" becomes a virtue, and you have healthier fish that are easier to breed.>
2nd: pH tends to be high, always registers blue on my test kit (7.6, but it could be higher, as that is the highest this test registers). I'm not sure how to get it down. I've been doing regular changes (20%) at least weekly, but sometimes more often than that so that my fish will be okay with the high pH levels. I've also tried Proper pH 7.0, but it hasn't brought it to the correct level. Do I keep adding it until it is to 7.0 or 7.2 somewhere sufficient, or will that disrupt the nitrogen cycle I'm trying to establish?
<Again, don't bother. If you don't understand water chemistry, and you're finding it a struggle to master, don't try and change it. A pH of 7.6 is fine for most standard community tropicals. Far better you do big water changes each week to keep things stead (i.e., by diluting nitrate accumulation and the background acidification in aquaria that happens anyway) than you add potions that you don't understand. Once you're up to speed on the hobby, it's fun to set up another tank to experiment with. Get some Apistogramma dwarf cichlids or something and then play with water softeners and pH adjusters to get the chemistry those fish want and then watch them breed. For now, forget about it. You're more likely to stress the fish by bouncing the water chemistry about. Above all else, remember pH is only an indicator, and fish don't feel it. If the pH goes down to 7, but the total dissolved solids (the minerals in the water) stay high, you've achieved nothing at all. Invariably, fish want either acid + soft water, or alkaline + hard water. These things come in pairs. You can't focus on the easy one, pH, and ignore the difficult one, hardness.>
With our new tank, I'm trying to get the nitrogen cycle established, so I think that I need some alkalinity so it can be converted to nitrites to nitrates, but I don't want to damage my fish.
<No no no. Alkalinity is derived from hardness minerals, nitrates from ammonia produced by decay and metabolism. The two things are unrelated, except to say this: in very soft, acid water, biological filtration doesn't happen. But that's to do with the tolerances of the bacteria involved. For your purposes, there's no connection. Mature the aquarium using the method you prefer. Some folks like fishless cycling, others a few hardy fish like danios. Either way, proceed with care, and monitor ammonia and nitrites regularly until everything has settled down.>
It has been over a month now--should the nitrogen cycle be established by now? I haven't had any prob.s with high nitrites or nitrates.
<The ammonia to nitrite part of the cycle is usually done within a month of setting up, and the nitrite to nitrate part within 6 weeks of setting up, but that's if you're using a "with fish" cycling method. Things are different if you're adding bacteria cultures straight to the tank (e.g. Bio Spira or some filter media from another aquarium). But ultimately this is all theory: all that matters is the results from your ammonia and nitrite test kits.>
I have a ten gallon tank with 2 gouramis (one bright orange and one lighter orange--male and female of same species) and 1 cardinal tetra. Before the gouramis, I had seven cardinals, but they all died except one. (probably high pH?) The one left seems to be well adjusted and doing great.
<The cardinals will die off very quickly in immature aquaria. Water chemistry is largely irrelevant. I've kept them in "liquid rock" where the pH was around 8.0. But they are delicate fish in new tanks, and they are also sometimes sensitive to Neon Tetra Disease. The dwarf gouramis are nice fish but famous for being stricken by a viral and/or bacteria set of diseases called Dwarf Gourami Disease, so watch them carefully.>
Prob #3: Whitish cottony growth all over the tank--esp. on the artificial plants. Some on the glass. We had the problem before, and couldn't get rid of it, so we started over--disinfected the tank and everything in it, and started with new water (thus the nitrogen cycle issues) Is this a normal fungus? Should I try to get rid of it? How? With our old tank, my husband tried some things like Jungle Fungus Clear, but it didn't fix the problem.
<Not fungus, since fungus usually grows only on organic materials that are decaying, like dead fish or wood. This is likely bacteria, a sign of poor water quality and a lack of cleanliness. Check water quality values (nitrite and nitrate especially) and act accordingly. Siphon out any leftover food in the tank. Clean dirty objects like rocks and plastic plants under the hot tap, but avoid using soap, try to just scrub them clean. Do 50% water changes per week. Make sure you have adequate filtration: the filter should provide not less than 4x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour (you will see a litres- or gallons- per hour quote on the filter).>
I noticed just a little of it on one of our gouramis (orange one with deep orange fins) now.
<That's fungus or Finrot. Treat immediately. There are commercial preparations that deal with both, and that's perhaps best here.>
Every time I do a water change, I let the new water sit with Water conditioner in it before adding it to the tank. I was adding Top fin Bacteria supplement, but don't always add it with water changes now, since I am assuming that the tank already has bacteria introduced into it. should I be adding a little of it with each water change?
<No. Once the tank is cycled, the bacteria look after themselves. Adding "top up" doses of bacteria is a waste of time, and indeed many of these bacteria supplements seem to have to practical value at all anyway.>
Has it caused the cottony fungus?
Should I add aquarium salt?
My guess is that the Top Fin water conditioner already is replenishing electrolytes--does aquarium salt add other things?
Would my water become too salty?
We have a water softener in our house because of our hard water--does that have an effect on the fish?
<Arghhh!!!! No, don't use softened water from a domestic water softener. Use the drinking water tap, i.e., the unsoftened water. Domestic water softeners -- despite their name -- don't soften water. What they do is replace "temporary" hardness (carbonates for example) with "permanent" hardness (such as chlorides). The goal here is to switch the kind of hardness that furs up pipes and appliances with the kind of hardness that doesn't. While that's fine for washing and plumbing, it's terrible for the fishes because they get stuck with this bizarre and very unnatural set of water chemistry values. Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm >
Problem 4: Our gouramis were eating fine when we first purchased them, but now the bright orange one stays down in the back corner, and isn't eating. (The other is more active and eats fine.) It seems to have a long bulge near it's back fin. It also has had whitish stringy feces from the beginning, when we first got it. (I've read several people on your site mention that as a symptom) Does it have a bacterial infection? or a Parasite? Has the fungus affected it?
<Ah, this Dwarf Gourami Disease. This fish will die. And so will the other one. As I seem to write once a week, and as is pointed out in virtually every fishkeeping magazine on a regular basis, Dwarf Gouramis produced in Southeast Asia especially are exposed to a bacterial and/or viral set of diseases that cause the same symptoms: loss of colour, loss of appetite, lethargy, open sores, death. There's no treatment. It appears to be 100% contagious in small tanks. Remove the sick fish to another aquarium and try to provide optimal conditions if you want, but frankly you may as well destroy it painlessly now and hope the other fish isn't infected. Buying Dwarf Gouramis is a TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY in my opinion and the only reason the fish farmers get away with producing these sickly fish is that inexperienced aquarists (unfortunately) keep buying them. Until that stops, those farmers won't change their ways.>
Is it the pH level that is affecting it? it didn't seem to be affected by it before).
I have been feeding them color-enhancing flake food, once or twice a day, and I try to not feed them more than they will eat in about 5 min.s.
<No, loss of appetite is a normal symptom. Nothing you can do.>
Thanks for your time in helping with our tank issues-- Angela
<Since you are almost certainly going to lose both gouramis, can I make a suggestion for the future? Since you have hard, alkaline water, why not choose fishes that prefer such conditions. Livebearers, gobies, glassfish, rainbowfish among others fit into this bracket. Have a read of this:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm . Hope this helps, Neale>
Damaged dwarf Gourami 1/24/07
I recently purchased a male dwarf Gourami and since he has been in my quarantine tank has done nothing but swim up and down one of the back corners.
<Likely reacting to its reflection...>
He is eating good
but his mouth near his nostril looks like he has rubbed it until it made a sore.
<Common injury... likely occurred during shipping from the Far East...>
There also appears to be a couple of loose scales on the other side of his face near the edge of his mouth. It is reddish and a bit swollen.
The pH is slightly over 7.0 and the tank was filled with purified water when it was started.
<Mmm, do need some mineral content... I'd blend in a little tap...>
Does this sound like he has just injured himself or should I be leaning toward getting some antibiotic or anti fungal medicine?
<Furan compound likely here... Look on WWM re Nitrofuranace use in FW>
I only have one quarantine tank and I am getting new fish soon and have no place to put them till this little guy gets better. Please help. PS I rescued him from a college dorm room where a girl had him in a bowl with no filter or air. Stacey
<I do wish you and your Gourami health, long lives. Bob Fenner>
A Sick Red Gourami
Bob - hope you can provide some insight. I'll make this short. Two days ago, my Red Gourami came out from behind of his hiding plant (which was unusual.) In looking closely at him, I noticed a dark gray area behind each gill. This, obviously, was not normal and I had no idea what it was. The only thing I put in the tank (10 gal.) to assist him was a recommended dose of "Melafix" that I purchased at the pet store. The only other foreign matter I had put in the tank was about a week ago when I added some Epsom Salts to a small breeding tank that had a constipated Guppy in it. (The Guppy didn't make it.) Unfortunately, neither did my Gouramis. I had intended to totally change the water this morning, but when I arose, the Gourami had died. I'm just trying to figure out what possibly the gray areas could have been and what I should have done. I'd had the Gourami for about 6 months and he'd been very healthy. Between the time I noticed the gray around the gills and it's dying was very quick. - 2 days. Appreciate any insight. Riley
<Likely the damage about the gills was environmental in origin... perhaps the treatments you added had something to do with this... maybe not... Many imported Gouramis (and livebearers for that matter) from the Far East suffer such mortalities... mysteriously. The best one can do is to keep systems optimized, stable and offer good foods. Bob Fenner>
Fate of Gouramis hang in the balance
Hey, I have read through most of the postings and found some very useful information on what I thought was wrong with my fish. About three weeks ago one of my dwarf gourami's began laying around in the tank on its side, and then about a week later another one became twisted up, almost in the shape of a question mark and spends all of his time face down in the gravel. I double-checked all of the water requirements as you have suggested and everything is fine. I have a 20 gallon high, the ph is 6.8, the temperature is 82F, and there are no traces of ammonia or nitrates/nitrites. Is there anything I can do to help my fish?
< The fact that one fish had a problem and then a second has come down with something too makes me think that there may not be an environmental problem here but a pathological one. Dwarf gouramis as well as others seem to be prone to attacks by weird pathogens that come in with them from the fish farms in the orient. I would isolate that gouramis into a five gallon tank and treat them with a Nitrofurazone type drug as per the package directions. If the problem is internal then there is not to much that can be done for them.> It has been several weeks and every aquarium store I go to just tells me to flush them.
< The medications will probably cost more than the fish. if the drugs don't work then you will be out both the price of the fish as well as the cost of the drug.-Chuck> I just don't have the heart to do it, and since they still seem to get food they could probably live on in this sorry state for a very long time. HELP!!! Your site is a great resource and I appreciate the assistance. Thank you. Mario.
Hi, My girlfriend has a pair of Dwarf Gouramis. She is concerned that one may be ill. They
symptoms include a darkening of the color to a darker shade of turquoise as well as much lower activity and labored breathing. The fish lies on its side on the bottom a lot and the movement of the gills is faster and deeper. There does not appear to be any fungus or worms or slime or anything like that on the fish. She did not mention weight loss or eating habits (I have not yet observed the fish). Any insight that you may be able to provide would be much appreciated. IT sounds odd to me that the color would deepen. Usually I would expect a sick fish to lose color. Maybe it is pregnant and about to release a bunch of eggs or something :) She has not had the fish long, maybe 6 months, but who knows how long the store had it. It was full grown when purchased. Thanks again, Josh Moninger
<Hi Josh, if there are no other outward signs of disease I would start by looking at the water quality. Pick up some test kits (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, ph, etc) or have your LFS test the water for you. Also, what size tank are we dealing with, what type of filtration, and who are the other tank mates. Check out the link below for info on freshwater disease ID
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm Best of luck, Gage>