FAQs on Freshwater Angelfish Environmental Disease
FAQs on Angelfish Disease:
Angelfish Disease 1,
Freshwater Angel Disease 2,
FW Angel Disease 3,
FW Angel Health 4,
FW Angel Health 5,
FW Angel Health 6,
FW Angel Health 7,
FW Angel Health 8,
FW Angel Health 9,
FAQs on Angelfish Disease by Category:
Nutritional (e.g. HLLE),
Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal),
Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...),
Dwarf South American Cichlids,
Cichlid Fishes in General,
Angelfish Reproduction, & FAQs on:
Wild Angels (P. altum),
Cichlids of the
World, Cichlid Systems,
Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed!
I am getting so frustrated with my 36 gallon planted aquarium
that I used Activ Flora Red in about 3 months ago. The plants are doing
great in this, however all the fish I add die within days.
<Which is alarming, for sure.>
I started adding some angel fish and the water parameters are good -
nitrates less than 20ppm, nitrites - not detectable, ammonia -
not detectable, ph - 7.2, temp is 80, kh & gh 4 -
<This all sounds reasonable.>
the angelfish die within days as if poisoned, I added 4 initially and
one by one they died within 1 week, added 4 more from a different
supplier and they all died as well. They were healthy and eating when I
placed them in the tank and within 72 hours they start acting weird -
both batches of them.
<Which strongly suggests an environmental issue rather than a pathogen.>
Within 72 hours of acclimating them into the tank, they will be hanging
at the bottom or the top, not eating, then they start swimming strange
as if they are drunk, then they pass, I considered an infection or
parasites possibly? Or the only other thing I can think of is the
substrate which is the Activ Flora red, as I was reading the bag last
night it seems high in metals - aluminum, iron etc. I contacted the
manufacturer today and they could offer no advice and said they have
never heard feedback on the product that fish were dying. There are 3
airstones pumping out nicely, 2 HOB's one is seachem Tidal with poly
filter and chemi green along with matrix media from seachem, I also
added Algone for good measure. The other is scaper's flow hang on
canister with sponges and matrix media. I'm at a loss. I use RO water
and add equilibrium by seachem and ph neutral along with fresh trace.
Any advice is welcomed. I used to keep angels 20+ years ago and never
had issues, I had a spawning pair and I was not even vigilant with water
changes like I am now. The RO system is an Aquasana -
<Looks neat, but surprised that removing fluorine is seen as a plus!>
I thought maybe the remineralizer on the system is causing it as well. I
really don't know, I am at a loss. Any advice is welcomed.
<I am not a fan of using domestic water softeners for fish tanks. The
types of minerals used to soften the water can result in 'unnatural'
ratios of ions, such as more sodium ions than would normally be present.
So while plain RO water, with Discus Buffer added, would be pretty good
for Angels, this unit of yours seems to be concocting something designed
to be suitable for drinking, and that's less attractive as an idea.>
<I'd start by skipping the domestic water softener. By all means use RO
if you want, and then add Discus Buffer, or more easily (for farmed
Angels at least) a 50/50 mix of hard tap water and RO water should
produce something more than acceptable, i.e., no more than medium
hardness, and around pH 7-7.5. I'd also try setting up a clean
quarantine tank. Why? Because I'd want to get the Angels settled and
feeding in a system where I can control all the variables. So no soil!
Just plain glass (perhaps some washed gravel if you must) and a simple
filter, suitable heating of course, but no need for lights. A 20-gallon
tank would be fine for a few juvenile Angels. While the aquarium soil
should be safe, you might have a contaminated batch. If the Angels
thrive in the quarantine tank, then there's perhaps a strong case for
stripping down the display tank, then rebuilding with plain gravel and
plants. Perhaps use another brand of aquarium soil. Are there other
species of fishing thriving in the display tank? If there are tetras and
catfish already, and they're doing fine, and it's just the Angels that
fail, then the easiest move is to simply avoid Angels. Try something
else of similar size and behaviour, perhaps one of the Gourami species.
But if the tank has no fish in it, and you really want an Angelfish
community, then testing out Angels with a quarantine tank would at least
help you rule out the aquarium soil as the problem. Do think about water
movement and oxygenation though -- plants consume oxygen 24 hours a day,
but during the nighttime they're not producing it through
photosynthesis, and in densely planted tanks with sluggish water
movement it is possible for oxygen levels to become depleted.
Air-breathing fish (like Gouramis and Corydoras) will get by, but those
fish unable to breathe air, notably cichlids, will suffer. You might
also consider some other, perhaps airborne, pollutant. Paint fumes,
insecticides and cleaning products can all cause major problems.
Sometimes solid materials fall into aquaria, such as bits of metal, and
these can also prove toxic, copper in particular. Hope this helps,
Re: Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed! 6/14/14
Thank you so much Neal!!!
The tank is in a good area with a lid on most of it and I am very
careful with cleaning products, fumes etc.
I have been a fish keeper since I was about 7 years old when my older
brother purchased piranhas at the LFS and I insisted I have one in a
tank in my bedroom - this was back in the 70's in NJ.
I have never seen anything like this - my fish always live for years, in
fact I have torn down my salt tank at least 5 times over the past 15
years due to moves and never lost a one in any of the moves.
<Sounds like you're better at this than me!>
I lost my spawning clown pair over a year ago ( I had those fish for
close to 10 years)to a power outage from hurricane Matthew (I am now
prepared with a generator for the next outage) I did put one bushy nose
pleco in the aquarium prior to the angels and I assume he died and he
was never seen again within 30 days. The tank was met specifically for
angels so this is a flipping mystery!
<I'll say. But as a rule of thumb, if one fish dies, then another a few
days or weeks later, then another, and so on -- then a disease is
definitely possible. But if a whole bunch of fish die within 24 hours,
I'd tend to go with an environmental issue. The "trick" is determining
what's going on.>
I use the RO water because I did not want algae issues - and so far so
good with the algae - almost zero and the plants are thriving..sadly no
fish can survive this tank...
<Where's the tank positioned? In terms of direct sunlight, I mean. And
are you adding CO2, which if used incorrectly, can easily kill fish. Two
ways: Firstly, as dissolved CO2 goes up, pH goes down, and that can
stress/kill fish. Also, as CO2 is absorbed into the water, O2 is
displaced, which again can kill fish. Air-breathing fish can survive,
and bear in mind that 'in a pinch' physostomous fish like characins and
barbs can breathe air, whereas physoclistous fish like cichlids simply
cannot. Oh, and something from left field. What *sort* of plants are you
growing? There's a thing called biogenic decalcification that can happen
with some species (such as Vallisneria) if they don't have sufficient
CO2 dissolved in the water. They break down carbonate and/or bicarbonate
salts in the water, getting the CO2 out of those salts. It's a neat
trick that means they do really well in hard water. But if the water
doesn't have enough buffering capacity, this removal of carbonate and/or
bicarbonate will cause the pH to drop during
photosynthesis, sometimes very rapidly. I've seen aquaria "crash" this
way, all the fish gasping at the surface in obvious distress. Cheers,
Re: Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed! 6/16/18
Thanks Neale - as far as plants, I did consider they may be a problem. I
did not realize that about some plants having that ability to affect the
water chemistry and I have reached out to many different people about
this and you are the first one to mention this.
<Oh! It is not a well-known fact perhaps, but reasonably widely seen
with hard water specialist aquatic plants. Egeria and Elodea are the
classic species, precipitating a chalky deposit on their leaves
(carbonate salts of some sort) as they absorb bicarbonate ions, take the
CO2, and get rid of what they don't need. Vallisneria are not quite so
effective, but I have seen them crash a tank once, in the sense the pH
changes so much and so rapidly fish were visibly distressed. Not that
they're not good plants --
they're great -- but I'd be careful about using them in soft water tanks
(with minimal buffering) with high lighting levels. Basically, any plant
known to be a hard water specialist probably does this sort of
decalcification, whereas soft water plants probably don't.>
There are Val.s in the tank and I do not use CO2,
<So guess where the Vallisneria are getting the CO2 they need, if
lighting is so great they consume the dissolved CO2? Yep, from any
bicarbonate salts in the water. Now, this may or may not be an issue,
but I'd perhaps monitor pH across the day, comparing, say, before the
lights went on to the pH level after 6-8 hours of photosynthesis. If the
pH has risen a lot, then the Vallisneria may be part of the problem.>
I was doing a "low tech" tank....I just put a seachem ph monitor on the
tank which seems to work well so I am going to start writing the levels
down as I check it throughout the day - I have been through vials of
test strips testing the water searching for answers. So Val.s should be
avoided for me
<Only under intense light AND low buffering capacity. They're otherwise
- any other plants to avoid?
<Hope this helps.>
Angelfish with a mark on its side
Hope you can help.
I have an Angelfish I bought around Christmas week. - I sent this in yesterday
evening on the site (attached image)- as I could see the pic on the page below
and it looks like the problem my girl has..
I went back to the page just now and scrolled all the way down and found the
description of the issue with the image ..
So I'm going to see if I can buy Merbromin, Mercurochrome in Ireland and see if
I can rub it on and see how goes..
Might be a help to put some sort of description/link on the pic - as you have to
scroll an awful way down to find the related info and the pic shows quite
prominently in a Google search but there is no real description.
<Hello. It's not exactly clear to me what I'm looking at. It's either pink blobs
on the fish (in which case Lymphocystis most likely) or pink wounds (i.e.,
ulcers or bites, in which case physical damage). Lymphocystis is not really
treatable as such, but the virus can be cleared up with consistent good water
quality and healthy diet. This may take some months, even years though. It is
rarely fatal unless the cysts block something important, like the vent or mouth.
Wounds and ulcers can be treated with anti-Finrot medication, eSHa 2000 being my
particular favourite if antibiotics aren't available to you over the counter.
Rubbing on antiseptic medicine is unlikely to work -- indeed, more likely to
cause further damage either by damaging underlying tissue or dissolving into the
water and poisoning something else entirely. So not what I'd suggest doing here.
However, identifying the causes is important. Angels are very prone to damage
from sucking catfish that 'latch' onto the fish to scrape away at their mucous.
The commonest culprits are Otocinclus, but Common Plecs have been reported as
doing this too. Hunger on the part of the catfish may be a factor, in which case
review their diet. Angels also fight, and can cause damage to each other. While
juveniles school together nicely, adults are basically territorial in small home
aquaria, males (or matter pairs, for that matter) staking a territory around 30
cm radius around their favoured rock or bogwood root. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side 2/2/18
Thank you very much for coming back to me.
I have 4 other better photos but they are all 1.4Mb each and am conscious of
sending you those as you advised on the website that your webmail space is
<True, but can you send one sharp photo? Maybe crop away the rest of the fish,
so it's just a nice sharp photo of its body?>
It is like a lesion with a little black dot in the centre and makes me think
it's bacterial/fungal or some sort of parasite.
<I agree; I'd be going with an antibacterial in the first instance (eSHa 2000 is
the best, in my opinion, within the EU) but keeping an open mind about Hexamita,
in which case eSHa HEXAMITA is your only choice unless you can get (from a vet)
It was on the fish when I bought her but I didn't think too much of it. It was
smaller then , less noticeable, seems like just a wayward scale design.
It's getting a bit bigger and the black dot in the middle is becoming more
prominent. Thanks for advising not to do the antiseptic. I will do a water
change and see what medication the pet shop might recommend.
<Often they recommend what they have, and sometimes recommendations are a bit
poor -- things like aquarium salt or tea-tree oil (e.g., Melafix).
Avoid anything that offers a "general cure" because these are rarely effective
once fish actually get sick (they have some usage as preventatives after fish
have been moved or after they have fought for some reason). You really do want a
specific medicine for Finrot and Fungus in the first instance (eSHa 2000 being
good because it does both).>
Let me know if you have space , interest/ time for more pics and if I can send
how many..If not , no worries, I really appreciate you getting back to me and
your response already.
All the best,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side 2/14/18
Hi Neale, Wet Web Crew,
Thanks for the tip about cropping, please find 2 images attached .
<Nope, nothing attached!>
The one labeled 7th Feb, was before a water change and is what the lesion looked
like at the start of Jan. The one labeled 13th Feb is what the lesion looked
like towards the end of Dec and again now after a water change. ( I bought the
fish just before Christmas)
She has laid eggs twice since I got her. But the Pleco ate them :-( So I've got
a piece of Perspex for separation in case it happens again.
<Do be careful sticking solid dividers into aquaria -- they stop water flow,
which stops warmth and clean water being evenly distributed. Mesh or grid-like
dividers are better, such as egg crate.>
I'm hoping these photos may help for a better diagnosis/prognosis/more advice
for course of action.
<Maybe try again with the photos? In the meantime, your range of options with
regard to lesions are limited. Assuming this is not "Head and Lateral Line
Disease" or "Hole in the Head", but merely a bacterial infection, then
a good antibiotic or antibacterial is the treatment. The key to success is
isolating the injured fish from anything likely to peck at or otherwise damage
its wounded area. Other Angels are prone to nipping at weakened
individuals given their territorial nature (as adults they are not really
social, and can be quite mean tempered). Plecs are another potential source of
damage, latching onto wounds and consuming the mucous as a tasty treat.
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side 2/15/18
Hopefully now attached, with my apologies.
<I see attached now; definitely an ulcer, treat as Finrot, with a reliable
antibiotic or antibacterial (not salt, not tea-tree oil, etc.).>
Wish I had said my plan about the Perspex in advance to you before going to the
trouble of getting it. Just one other Angel in the tank and they seem to be
mates as they were working together with the eggs twice now.
<Then it's a mystery where the wound came from. Heater burn perhaps? Stuck on
the filter inlet? Otherwise, this sort of ulcer is classic "Plec damage" when
Angels are kept with Suckermouth catfish. Treated quickly, should heal well.
It's a clean flesh wound. Cheers, Neale.>
7 Feb and 13 Feb
Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side- thanks!
Thanks a million Neale !
Will do as you say.
I bought her with it so she had it before entering my tank.
<Ah! The plot thinnens.>
Only thing will be the whole community will be getting the treatment I'd say
that won't do any harm though.
When I Googled Finrot/ ulcers in tropical fish. I found this UK product
site..seems alright and has a diagnosis tool
<Ah yes, a good company; though my preference / experience has always been for
eSHa products, which do (usually, and economically) deliver on what they
promise. eSHa 2000 is, I believe, the Finrot product. Have not use NT Labs
products myself, but they do seem to have a "Anti-Ulcer & Finrot" treatment!>
Just might be a useful reference/resource to give if people from the UK contact
<Indeed; and your message will be posted on the WWM website in due course.>
Doesn't stock in Ireland but I think I'm ok as I think I have the stuff already.
All the best, thanks again and kindest regards,
<Glad to help, and good luck! Neale.>
Angelfish with ammonia poisoning
Good morning crew! I hope you can help me. I have several fish tanks. I
just love my fishies! I have custom made 82 gallon with 4 angels. They
paired up but not breeding. The boss is Triggered and his mate Curly.
They are biggest angels in there. Also 2 Bala sharks,
<Yikes; will get much larger!>
4 Bavarian rams, black ghost knife, 2 blood parrots,
1 pain in the butt male Betta and 2 Plecos.
Everything is still pretty small except Triggered, Curly and 2 Plecos.
As soon as my 150 gallon cycles most will be moved. Not the rams or
Betta but everything else will be moved to 150 gallon tank.
Well my daughter was having a problem with dominate angelfish in her
tank and we have tried this angelfish in about 9 different tanks here
with him beating every fish up or terrorizing them. We made arrangements
store to take him but we couldn't take him till morning. I wish I would
of thought about putting her angelfish in the bucket with the heater
before I put him in my tank for the night as well as 2 small angels
because they were beating up on a tiny angelfish in her tank. Well
Triggered flipped out and not only went after the big angelfish of my
daughters but he went after everything in the tank, shredding everyone
in his way.
<Sounds/reads like a rogue>
The newest fish is the Betta, All the other fish grew up together and
get along well. The Betta is kind of a bully. I decided to move
Triggered and Curly to 55 gallon for the night. Or I might of woke up to
dead fish. The 55 has 2 blood parrots and 2 angelfish aggressive green
Severums. I moved Severums to 5 gallon bucket with heater. Put angels in
tank, In the morning I seen Triggered was dying. I quickly
tested water and discover ammonia was
threw <sic> the roof. Higher the 6.0 ppm and nitrites 200 ppm.
My filter was not working, not sure how long it was off. Ugh. I took
water from 82 gallon and put into bucket, netted the 2 angels and 2
parrots putting them in the bucket. Tank temps are the same. I took them
to 82 gallon and released them. Curly and 2 blood parrots were
struggling but you wouldn't know it now. They are fine! Triggered was
down, gasping for air, breathing hard. I took daughter's larger angel
out and put in bucket, moved the other mated pair of angels to daughters
tank so the wouldn't stress Triggered anymore then he already was. I
seen Pleco's going near him and decided he would be safer in a
container. His fins are a wreck, his eyes were fogged. He had about
every symptom of ammonia poisoning. I put triggered into 2 gallon clear
container floating on surface of tank, so his water could stay warm. I
didn't want to cook him with my 5 gallon heater and didn't want the cat
to fish him out of the bucket. I put air stone in, prime, aquarium salt,
and Mela fix, I has been 4 days, His breathing is almost normal, I clean
40% of his water daily and been dosing with Mela fix. He is showing
improvement. His eyes are clear, fins are no worse. On day 3 he tried to
get up and swim, I think he is still weak. Today he is staying up little
longer than yesterday but still can't stay upright. He gets up but can
not stay up right for more than few seconds. He is trying so hard to
survive and he is my favorite angelfish so I'm not giving up on him. I
read fish can survive this, He doesn't have the red streaks or red
blotches which would mean internal bleeding. My question is am I
doing the right thing?
<Yes; just needs clean, stable water conditions>
I seem to be spinning my wheels. When using Mela fix <Am not a fan of
this plant extract. You can scan/search WWM re>
I'm not suppose to do water changes but he seems to be more active and
really tries to get up and moving afterwards. His water in bucket has
registered .5 ammonia. This is reason I'm doing water changes. I'm not
how, I have not tried to feed him. The 82 gallon has 0 ammonia, 0
nitrite, 0 nitrate. Could ammonia be leaching out of his scales?
<Mmm; no; but out of gills and wastes/vent; yes>
How soon can I let him outta the container once he can stay a float?
<Whenever you want; elect to do so>
Should I continue using Mela fix?
<I wouldn't. Of no use; and may be worsening the issue/s here>
I was worried about secondary infection and fin rot. Last question, The
other mated pair of angels (Sponge Bob and Sandy) Should I put them back
into tank before I release Triggered?
<Yes I would>
Not sure he will let them back in once he is out of the container and
back in his tank. They been raised together and they squabble once in a
while but the tank is peaceful except for the Betta who is somewhat of a
trouble maker. lol He defends his spot in tank and will flare and follow
whoever entered his territory. He and Triggered squabble a lot but no
damage is done. Their territories are next to each other.
<... Bob Fenner>
Re: Angelfish with ammonia poisoning 3/15/17
Hi Bob and crew!
I did typo
and wanted to clarify. The 55 gallon tank that I placed Triggered into
the night he went crazy over the other angelfish that was put into his
The 55 gallons filter was not working and I did not realize it when I
put Triggered and Curly in there. The ammonia when I tested water that
morning when I found Triggered struggling, was higher than the highest
6.0 ppm. The color was darker then the 6.0 on the chart and nitrite was
I don't remember the nitrite reading.
I was wondering what you meant Bob when you said, <Sounds/reads like a
<A rogue individual. Some particular freshwater Angelfish are REALLY
MEAN! Have to be kept solo; lest they attack other life.>
after reading "I decided to move Triggered and Curly to 55 gallon for
the night. Or I might of woke up to dead fish. The 55 has 2 blood
parrots and 2 angelfish aggressive green Severums. I moved Severums to 5
gallon bucket with heater. Put angels in tank, In the morning
I seen Triggered was dying. I quickly tested water and discover ammonia
was threw <sic> the roof. Higher the 6.0 ppm and nitrites 200 ppm.
<?!!!> <Sounds/reads like a rogue>
I had to move Severums out of the 55 gallon for the night before I put
Triggered and Curly in there. Those Severums are angelfish aggressive
and have torn the angels fins up before. Someone gave me the Severums
and the only tank mates they don't terrorize is 2 blood parrots who live
in the 55 gallon. I think because the two blood parrots are kind of
bullies so they don't let the Severums push them around. Those blood
parrots have never bothered the angelfish or any other fish that leaves
them alone. The blood parrots however don't like other blood parrots. So
I moved the Severums into the bucket because I was worried my cat would
catch my angels in the bucket. The Severums are much faster and tend to
stay towards bottom so I figured the cat wouldn't even really see them
and certainly would not try to fish them out of bottom of 5 gallon
I wanted to say thank you for the help and taking the time to read this.
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Sick Angel 3/24/16
I've scoured your website to try and help me get a fix for my angel
I have a 50gal tank with 7 mixed Corys, 1 Farlowella twig, 1
clown loach (eating snails),
<Happier in a group>
a Mickey mouse swordtail, and a smokey angelfish. I also have a planted
sword and some hornwort. Ammonia, nitrite are zero. Nitrate
between 20 and 40ppm.
<I'd work on getting and keeping NO3 under 20 ppm. Please read here:
PH around 8.3. I've always felt my ph was high, but the fish have been
in there for 5+ months with no issues.
<I would not seek to modify this pH>
I do weekly 25% water changes with RO water.
<I'd use a mix of tap; at least 50%....>
The other day I noticed that my angel was not eating, sometimes hovering
under some decorations, gulping water, and looks like it has kind of a
bloody nose. No red/blood on fins or body. No other body
issues, and the other fish are fine. Sometimes it like shakes it head
(like having a spasm), I was afraid it was having some sort of aneurism.
It hasn't done that since (that I noticed.) I immediately did a 25%
water change, and am going to do another water change today (2 days
I can't figure out what its problem is, and I'm scared for it.
Any ideas on a bloody nose and gulping? The blood doesn't come out. It
just looks like it's under the skin right above the mouth. I'm worried
about adding medicine as I don't have a hospital tank.
<I fully suspect water quality is an issue here... Whatever is leading
the Nitrate concentration to be so high. Please read where you've been
referred above; and formulate a plan for nitrate reduction. Bob Fenner>
Sick Angel /Neale 3/25/16
I've scoured your website to try and help me get a fix for my angel
fish. I have a 50gal tank with 7 mixed Corys, 1 Farlowella twig, 1 clown
loach (eating snails), a Mickey mouse swordtail, and a smokey angelfish.
<I would review this collection. The Farlowella is hard
to keep long term unless you have relatively cool, clear water and
plenty of green algae and oxygen. Eminently suitable for life with
Corydoras and in fact the Swordtail, but the Clown will want warmer
water (25-28 C vs. 22-24 C for the Farlowella and the Corydoras) and on
top of that they're massive polluters, just what you don't want in a
tank this size. 50 gallons isn't a lot of space for Clowns, even though
it's a big tank for Farlowella and Corydoras.
Furthermore, Clowns are social, and their behaviour is (often) aberrant
when kept in insufficient numbers, ranging from nervous/shy through to
overtly aggressive bullies. If you can, replace the Clown. Do take a
look at a dinner plate sometime -- that's the size of an adult Clown.
They're huge! For sure they take years getting there, but still...>
I also have a planted sword and some hornwort. Ammonia, nitrite are
Nitrate between 20 and 40ppm. PH around 8.3. I've always felt my ph was
high, but the fish have been in there for 5+ months with no issues.
<Understood. Water quality mostly sounds fine. But if you're using pure
RO (which should be zero nitrate) but your nitrate levels are 20-40
mg/l, that is an extremely big increase in nitrate within the space of a
change. So assuming you're measuring correctly, that big jump in nitrate
level could be explained three ways: overstocking, overfeeding, or not
doing nearly enough water changes. Next up, pH 8.3 is high for soft
species like Clowns, Farlowella, Corydoras and Angels. All of these will
thrive between pH 6 and 8, that's true. But your pH is significantly
above that, and you should plan accordingly. Numerous Central American,
Rift Valley, East Asian, North American and Eurasian species that will
all do well in hard, alkaline conditions.>
I do weekly 25% water changes with RO water.
<This alarms me. RO water by itself is effectively toxic to fish.
No fish lives naturally in water with zero dissolved minerals. Mixing RO
with tap water, say 75% RO with 25% hard tap water, is much healthier if
keeping generic community fish; tetras, barbs, Angels, etc.. Hard water
fish (like Swordtails and Platies) are happier in harder water, even
"liquid rock" well water and the like.>
The other day I noticed that my angel was not eating, sometimes hovering
under some decorations, gulping water, and looks like it has kind of a
bloody nose. No red/blood on fins or body. No other body issues, and the
other fish are fine. Sometimes it like shakes it head (like having a
spasm), I was afraid it was having some sort of aneurism. It hasn't done
that since (that I noticed.) I immediately did a 25% water change, and
am going to do another water change today (2 days later). I can't figure
out what its problem is, and I'm scared for it. Any ideas on a bloody
nose and gulping?
<Hard to say but environmental stress is most likely, though
you can't rule out inter-species aggression; Clowns for example have the
potential to be quite aggressive at feeding time and at night, and
during the night
especially Angels are very vulnerable to disturbance. Even if the Angel
isn't attacked overtly, it can get scared, and being effectively blind
in the dark (most cichlids are day-animals, like us) they can end up
slamming into rocks or glass.>
The blood doesn't come out. It just looks like it's under the skin right
above the mouth.
<Physical trauma is one possibility, i.e., a bruise. But environmental
stress is another possibility. Some bacterial infections start by
blocking blood vessels close to the skin, causing the characteristic
bloody spots and flecks seen on skin and fins. Eventually the tissue
around the blockage dies from lack of blood supply. Fixing the
environment and treating as per Finrot should do the trick if this is
the issue here.>
I'm worried about adding medicine as I don't have a hospital tank. Any
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
Injured angelfish 2/2/16
I had a bit of an incident last night when my angelfish jumped out of
I've had this fish for 7 years (he was the first fish i bought) and nothing like
this has ever happened. Sadly, I only discovered it had happened when I heard my
Siberian husky running around the lounge and came out to investigate to find my
beloved angel in his mouth. I don't know how long the angel was out of the water
before my dog found him. I was sure he was a goner, so was shocked to find he
was still alive after making my dog drop the fish. I immediately put it back in
the tank and he started swimming, albeit slowly.
He looked in quite a lot of shock and was breathing rapidly. I left him in quiet
not expecting him to last the night, but 24 hours later he's swimming, eating
and behaving as normal.
The reason I am writing is because he sustained a number of injuries in the
ordeal. His fins are a bit torn up, he's missing scales and, most concerning, he
has a large puncture wound at the base of his tail (pics attached).
<I see these>
The wound was bleeding last night but looks relatively clean now. There's
probably some internal injuries as well as my dog was pretty rough with him. Is
there anything I can/should do to help his healing process (that won't harm the
other fish in the tank)?
<Mmm; yes. I'd treat as if this fish had an infection... as it very likely will
develop such. Please read here Re:
I'm worried the wound
will become infected. Or is it best to watch and wait?
<Will become infected; best not to wait, but be pre-emptive>
Thanks for your time,
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Injured angelfish 2/3/16
Thank you Bob for your sage advice. I've been reading through the angel FAQs you
linked as well as some of the articles on treating diseases and am, admittedly,
a little overwhelmed.
<Let's review a bit at a time then>
I guess because a lot if this advice pertains to treating advanced infection and
I'm not at (and hopefully my poor angel will never get to) that point. I wanted
to run it by you before I dose my tank as I don't want to make a rookie error
and cause a larger problem.
<Let's hope so>
I see a lot of FAQs recommending against things like Melafix, for example, but
the Choose Your Weapon article indicated it can be useful as a preventative.
<Some folks believe so; I do not. These "fixes" can be trouble in terms of
modifying water quality, stalling nitrification. At best they're placebos>
That said, it sounds like I'm better off looking for an
<Yes; a real one>
I'm doing a preliminary online shop at my local LFSs and can't find much of
those listed in your FAQs (I guess cause I
live in Australia), will any antibiotic do?
<Mmm; no; some are better, more likely applicable... better to use none than
I see it also says many medications are not good with sensitive fish like clown
loaches (of which I have a few small ones and i don't have a cycled quarantine
tank to put the angel in) so I'm worried about harming them.
<You should be; again, I'd skip adding any real or faux med. here>
Also worried about causing a recycling event in my tank by killing the 'good'
bacteria so is there any specific medications to avoid for that?
<All to an extent can pose this issue>
Another article suggested that administering the medication via food was better
than immersion, but that getting accurate dosages can be tricky.
<Yes; tis so>
My angel is still very enthusiastically eating (during their feed tonight he
raced all the other fish to it and ate first as usual) so food is an option if
its safer for everyone involved?
<Better to buy a pre-made medicated (dried) food. Can you obtain those made by
If it's worth mentioning I've done a 25% water change (don't gravel vac any more
since the tank is now planted but if i should to prevent infection please do
tell) and am monitoring water conditions closely. Should I do daily water
changes or is this only important in cases where a dirty tank has caused the
<I'd stick w/ your routine... Likely weekly, no more than 25% change-outs>
Do you also have any advice of specific symptoms I should be on the look out
for, or should I simply be watching out for anything and everything?
<Growths on the wounds; more importantly a cessation of feeding; other aberrant
Sorry for the barrage of questions from this panicked fish mum!
Thanks as ever for your patience and advice,
<Thank you for your careful reading, questions. BobF>
Re: Injured angelfish 2/4/16
Thanks so much for clarifying! I went on a hunt at my all my LFSs and not a lot
of luck. All most of them had was MelaFix/pimafix/bettafix. One did have a very
small range of medications by Blue Planet, none of them being medicated food
(some Googling suggested there is no medicated fish food sold in Australia at
all, Tetra brand or otherwise).
<Is possible they are restricted there; or of such small commercial demand that
they're not carried>
The only antibiotic medication they had was called Aquari Cycline. It
calls itself a broad spectrum antibiotic with tetracycline hydrochloride as its
active ingredient. Should I try this?
<Yes; I would. NOTE that it/this (Tet. HCl) WILL change the color of your
water... at least slightly orangish... This color will not permanently stain,
and will decline with subsequent water changes and the addition of activated
The guy at my LFS suggested it was fine to use with clown loaches (he also told
me MelaFix or a salt bath was better so i don't know).
As for my angel he looks well still. He's eating and behaving like nothing
happened. His wound looks much the same, if not a little more closed over (hard
to get a good look at it as he always looks at me front on when I go near the
tank). His torn fins have almost completely healed. Over what time period should
I expect/be checking for infection to occur?
<A few days to a week>
Thanks once more,
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables 6/17/14
Please re-send w/ a maximum size of a few hundred Kbytes.
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables
Ok. Here they are. Max size is 400 kB.
Also if you can get a look at the gravel, does it seem too rough to keep
bottom-feeding fish on (it's from the main tank).
<It does appear too sharp/angular... look for more round product. A fave
of mine Fluorite and CaribSea's pebble gravel lines>
<The Angel... appears to be in some sort of environmental stress. BobF>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Water in the hospital tank was this evening 0.25 ppm ammonia, 2 ppm
<Both of these are deadly toxic>
5 ppm nitrate. I did a 40% water change and added replacement
I thought seeding the tank with gravel from my main tank would make the bio
filter cycle faster.
It has been maybe 3-4 weeks, but the first week was
tetracycline. Do the results I got make sense?
<...? They are what they are; yes>
I also removed most of the gravel. I pushed the remainder into a corner and
blocked it off with plastic plants so the angelfish can't get her
tail in it.
I left the carbon/filter floss cartridge in the box filter since I really
don't want to reduce the biofilter levels any further. Do you think
removing the gravel will cause the biofilter to crash?
<Likely a contributing cause>
I found uneaten brine shrimps had gotten trapped in the grill over the
filter intake and were being consumed by water mold. I've been
feeding her two pinches with tongs (since she
can't swim well) each day and giving the rest to
my other fish...is this too much?
<SEE WWM re Ammonia, Nitrite... You're killing this fish. B>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas,
Seaweed or Vegetables. Impt. sci. facts re FW/Cycling
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I didn't mean to do this to her! It wasn't until this week the water
color had been cleared enough by the carbon
for me to accurately test the water, and the
gravel was catching on her tail so much I couldn't leave it in. I
totally thought the tank would have been cycled by now thanks to
the gravel seeding...and that the bacteria
therein would've migrated to my bio wheel.
In any case, I'm doing daily water tests and daily 30% water changes
until ammonia and nitrate are zero, and added
a whole bottle of Tetra Safe-Start.
No more food either.
Prior to yesterday's change, I found nitrite had dropped to 0.25ppm and
nitrate had risen to 10 ppm (this seemed encouraging). Ammonia
remained at 0.25 ppm and I wasn't sure why,
but I found some pieces of really old seaweed
from many weeks ago stuck under the plants and removed them. I'm
worried the AmQuel I use to get rid of chloramine might
be removing too
much ammonia for the first set of bacteria to grow well
it's hard to measure out <2mm of it...and I have read that you don't
want the ammonia to climb much b/c the ammonia
-> nitrite reaction requires a
stoichiometric ratio such that if ammonia is
high it competes with dissolved oxygen and
hurts the bacteria. (Is this true?)
Today both ammonia and nitrite are zero. Nitrate is 5-10 ppm.
Gabriella's inflammation at the base of her fin has died down and her
tail is regaining its colored stripe. So all that "fin rot
infection" was nitrite/ammonia.
<Likely the largest part>
I'll watch the tank for several more days to see if ammonia and nitrite
build up. How long must I wait to know if the tank is cycled or not?
<Days to weeks... Do you have another cycled tank to draw water from?>
I won't let her die on my watch!
Thank you for giving me the harsh truth. Fish get so little love someone
needs to defend them...
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas,
Seaweed or Vegetables 6/22/14
Dear Wet Web Media,
The only established tank I have is the main (105) gallon tank. But what
good would drawing water from it do? Nitrifying bacteria aren't free
<Quite so. Moving water from an established tank to a new tank is an old
approach to jump-starting the biological filter. At best it "inoculates"
the new tank, but as you say, water isn't a major repository of
biological filter bacteria. I'm a much bigger fan of moving mature media
from one tank to another. A mature filter can stand to lose a whopping
50% of its biological media without causing any serious problems
(indeed, the manufacturers recommend changing this much media
periodically, perhaps to increase sales, but justifiably because clogged
biological media will hold a fraction of the bacteria of nice fresh
media with lots of clean pores through which oxygenated water can
Speaking of that tank, I added 3 more silver dollars to it. They
unfortunately were mislabeled and turned out to be spotted ones rather
than the striped ones I have had for years, but they school together
anyway. The new maintenance schedule (weekly 20-25% changes + gravel
vacuuming) has helped the weather loaches and Cory cats a lot.
What I was wondering is this...you recommended I get a rounder gravel,
but I have an undergravel filter and so I fear that removing all of it
will just crash this tank. Is there a way to replace the gravel without
doing something really horrible to the water?
<Yes. Replace the top 25-50% of the sharp gravel with rounded gravel.
Repeat after a couple of months, and again if needs be a couple months
later, until you've as good as completely replaced the old gravel with
I am thinking of giving back the weather loaches for some store credit,
as well as the Blackskirts and the one dwarf neon rainbow (I could get
more, but I think they are too tiny to swim alongside silver dollars in
mid-water). I might remove the cories but actually their barbels are ok.
It's the loaches who get some damage from the gravel since they pass it
through their gills.
<Indeed. But in a tank with sand, you'd be surprised how merrily
Corydoras pump gravel through their gills.>
The FAQs unfortunately didn't really answer my question much about what
sorts of fish I could put with the silver dollars, mostly just what I
should NOT do (mollies, cram them into 30 gallons...but I already knew
that). Do you have any recommendations as far as gouramis, cichlids,
rainbowfish, i.e. something to add color that won't be stressed by the
<You really want species that are bold, too big to be viewed as food
(Silver Dollars are predatory) but not in themselves overly aggressive.
South American cichlids like Severums and Blue Acaras are the classic
companions, but pretty much any medium to large barb or characin would
Have a look at the oddball characins in particular, such as Anostomus
anostomus (one of my favourite fish, and very hardy) and Abramites
hypselonotus (the Marbled Headstander, a poor choice for communities,
but groups look great in rough-and-tumble systems). Loaches are another
obvious choice, many species being a trifle too boisterous for life in
communities, but eminent choices for use alongside fast-moving characins
like Silver Dollars. Skunk Loaches, Clown Loaches, and Yo-Yo Loaches are
all widely sold and suitable.>
I will warn you that while I have kept gouramis and cichlids I have
never kept rainbowfish successfully, and they almost always seem to be
sick when I see them in stores (or incubating some strange disease). Are
rainbowfish unusually disease prone/sensitive to water quality?
<No, but quality varies wildly, and not all species are equally robust.
They are also more picky about water chemistry and temperature than
retailers let on.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas,
Seaweed or Vegetables 6/28/14
Dear Wet Web Media,
Ammonia and nitrite continue to hold steady at zero in Gabriella's
hospital tank. However there has been a depressing development.
Gabriella (the angelfish) always lies on her right side, so I never get
to see it.
Well, today after taking an online practice test I found her stuck in a
corner, her right side facing me. Her right pectoral fin was partly torn
off...there were blood vessels lopped off and broken bones. The base was
very bloodied. She was barely breathing, and I fear she might have lost
lot of blood.
<Does sound like she's got a bacterial infection there. The good news is
that fins can grow back astonishingly well, provide the absolute base
"shoulder" if you like) isn't damaged; the rays and the membrane are
capable of being regenerated from almost nothing. However, bacterial
infections (basically what we call Finrot) are common (hence the Finrot
name) so you need to treat against opportunistic bacteria. Most
sold for Finrot should do the trick. Infected "shoulders" often turn
or orangey-pink, sometimes red if severely infected.>
I did a 40% water change (nitrates were around 20 ppm-I thought maybe
reducing this would help) and she swam off out of the corner. She seems
be breathing more but it's shallow and I fear she might be dying.
I was wondering if there is anything I can do to save her or whether
is the end...I could add salt but I don't think it will help much.
<See above. In addition, check the filter isn't too strong. An
sponge filter would be ideal. Lying on her side isn't intrinsically bad
the Angelfish, but lack of mobility could cause problems with regard to
feeding and avoiding filter suction, so act accordingly.>
To be honest I feared this would come...she has been lying on the bottom
for more than a month now and I know that is not how she is supposed to
live. I hoped I could get her swimming again before she got pressure
or something like that, but maybe I am too late?
<Unlikely to be pressure sores since your Angelfish is effectively
weightless underwater (that's the job of her swim bladder, and even
it, water provides a lot of buoyancy). But bacterial infections can
replicate pressure sores as we'd see them on humans.>
And to top it all off the online test crashed and gave me tons of zeros
where it shouldn't have.
It has not been a good day.
Please let me know if you have any ideas for what I can do to save
<I'd go with a round of antibiotics or some equivalent anti-Finrot
medication (here in the UK I'm a fan of eSHa 2000) and some attempt to
get her feeding. Specifically, if she's eating, there's definite hope.
Force-feeding is an option with Angels because they're fairly big. In
short, cut a small piece of shrimp or white fish fillet, 2 mm or so
across, and try to get her to eat it, perhaps by impaling on a cocktail
waving it in front of her. If she refuses and is losing weight, you can
use wet hands to handle her (never hold fish with dry or merely damp
hands), carefully pull down her lower jaw to open the mouth, then use a
cocktail stick to just push a 2 mm morsel of food into her mouth. Don't
push it too far, just enough to get it inside. If you're lucky she'll
have no choice but to swallow, and that one meal will give her a day's
worth of energy.
It's too stressful to her to do too often, but within reason you can
bulk up an ailing fish this way if you're careful.>
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or
She's still alive after the night (thank goodness) so I think yes it is
Finrot rather than some horrible blood-letting injury.
What concerns me is that I left the carbon in there, and I fear that
removing it, plus putting antibiotics in the water, would crash the
<Do remove carbon while medicating. It removes (most) medications. Do
also do reasonable water changes between courses of medication. So when
you finish the two or three days/doses of Medicine A, do a 25-50% water
change before switching to Medicine B. It's best not to mix medications,
through antibiotics are generally safe used in combinations, and often
work better that way.>
I do have another bottle of Tetra Safe Start though, and it worked very
well, so I could start it back up once I'm done. I previously used API
Tetracycline, and I have another box. But I have
heard Tetracycline doesn't work well in hard water, so do I need to use
a higher dose?
<Do refer to the packaging. Tetracycline is generally not recommended
for hard water or marine aquaria, primarily because of how it reacts
with calcium compounds. Do also note that Minocycline belongs to same
family of antibiotics and likewise shouldn't be used in hard/marine
aquaria. So in hard water conditions, Nitrofurazone and Kanamycin are
generally seen as much safer and more effective alternatives (and
interestingly, work rather well together). Of the two, Kanamycin is one
of the all-around best "catch-all" antibiotics for skin/fin infections.>
Or should I just use something else since it apparently did not work the
With regards to feeding, I have had success earlier holding brine shrimp
in front of her mouth with tongs. I have no full size shrimp with me
now, but I could get some. Would frozen krill work?
(I think I want to try this before I force-feed her)
<For sure. Force-feeding is 100% the last, worst option in any
It's what you do when a fish is dangerously underweight (for example,
hasn't eaten for 3 or 4 weeks) but your choice of medication has a good
chance of working -- if you can keep the fish alive for another few days
or weeks. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I purchased both Kanamycin and Nitrofurazone (the LFS staff didn't even
know they had them...this makes me sad that fish stores don't even know
their own inventory!). The Nitrofurazone was the standard
powder-in-the-water, but the Kanamycin required me to mix it with frozen
food and feed it to Gabriella (the angelfish). So I mixed it with mashed
up, water-drained frozen brine shrimp and krill and tried to feed
it to her...unfortunately she did not even make an effort to eat and I
was forced to just throw the medicated food away after she refused to
touch it for two days.
<Kanamycin is one of the best antibiotics for adding to the water, but
most/all antibiotics are best if consumed with food.>
I did a full course of Nitrofurazone treatment and the final 25% water
change, but I cannot see the infected fin as she always lies down on it,
and I'm a tad nervous about flipping her over by force, so I don't know
how I'm progressing.
One thing that is very problematic: she has developed mucus strands
attached to where her fin bones are exposed. Bits of gravel, algae, and
dust in the water catch onto them, staining them a gross grey color. I
can remove some of them with a gravel vacuum, but they just come back.
She did this a couple of weeks ago, then stopped doing it, but now it's
returned. I've heard sometimes this happens to Bettas kept in poor
water, but if I want to test the water, I'd probably need to put carbon
in the tank again to remove the stain in the water (now it's yellow
instead of orange).
<No need to worry about the colour of aquarium water, but clarity, i.e.,
cloudiness, can be an indicator of deeper problems.>
This would preclude a second course of antibiotics. Unless you think I
could test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate with the water yellow as it
<Yes, you can.>
Do you have any idea what could be causing this? I don't think it's one
of the skin-slime parasites because whenever I've seen it it's all over
the body, and there is no evidence of cloudiness on her body.
I think a big problem is since she cannot swim normally, she gathers
debris on her. I removed one of the big plastic plants to improve water
flow and took out more of the leftover bits of gravel (there's so little
left I can't really remove all of them without draining the whole tank)
. Do you think I should move onto force-feeding her?
<Possibly, but only if you're comfortable you can do this without
harming her. If she's still reasonably bulky, rather than "all skin and
bone", there's no immediate rush.>
Because she doesn't look underweight or bloated. I think she barely
burns any calories just sitting there.
I certainly can't force feed her the 'one tablespoon' of frozen food
recommended by the Kanamycin dose.
<Then add to the water, as indicated on the packaging.>
This is sad because when she was healthy, she'd eat so much of the other
fishes food that her vent would prolapse (this might be how she ended up
<You're definitely doing your best and a fine job to boot. For now,
medicate and observe. If she still doesn't recover, then you may need to
consider euthanasia. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I waited two days after the 25% water change to see if she improves. She
seemed to for the first day, but then today her condition went south.
She now has a whole bunch of the gray, fuzzy mucus strands on both her
fins and body. A couple of them are bloody and the fin rot infection has
now spread to her anal fin. Ammonia and nitrite are zero. I did another
25% water change and then added the Kanamycin to the water.
<Not sounding good. Does sound like Septicaemia to be honest, which
doesn't often get better, however well you medicate the fish.>
Do you think I should do another course of Nitrofurazone at the same
time? Does this sound like skin slime disease, requiring antiparasitic
medicine? To me it sounds like the "mouth fungus" columnaris bacteria
(which if I recall can also be involved with fin rot occasionally).
<Indeed. Some medications treat Finrot, Fungus and Columnaris at the
same time, and are worth using. In the UK, I'd use eSHa 2000 for such
situations. Kanaplex is an alternative more available in the US.>
I must confess when I did the first 25% change, I unplugged the heater
since the water level drops below the minimum water level for the
heater, and forgot to plug it back in. This morning the temperature had
declined from the set 82 ° Fahrenheit to 78°, and I freaked out and
plugged the heater back in. Do you think this had hurt her, or does it
seem unlikely considering it still is a tropical temperature?
<Unlikely to have been a major problem.>
I am afraid I made this mistake a couple times before, but it only
dropped to 80° and I didn't notice anything wrong with her. I have a
busy summer and sometimes life gets the best of me. Thank you,
<I understand, sympathise. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, hlth. More
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Following your advice for silver dollar tankmates I purchased two
"Geophagus winemilleri," (LFS label), five giant danios and a clown
loach. I think one of the Geophagus is not G. winemilleri but a very
similar species (altifrons? suraminensis?) They get along very well with
the other fish, and after rearranging the decor a bit, each other. I
added a bunch of bio filter media to the canister filter to compensate
any effect their gravel shifting has on the under gravel filter. The
giant danios add a bit of action to the surface, and the clown loach is
adorable, but he is lonely.
<Indeed; will need a couple companions, at least.>
I removed the black skirts and dwarf neon rainbow. The only other clown
loaches my LFS had for sale were one huge one with head injuries and a
bunch of tiny newly wild-caught ones they warned are prone to parasite.
<Can be; deworming loaches is fairly routine among some; do see
Returning to the store the huge one has healed, but unfortunately the
one clown I did buy brought Ich in anyway. 1/2 doses of malachite seemed
to eradicate it w/o issues on the clown and weather loaches but I need
to make sure before the other clown loach can be added.
I plan on adding Boesemanni rainbows to the tank based on this one
amazing tank I saw in a clinic w/ clown loaches, Boesemanni, Severums,
and giant danios. Since from my experience silver dollars and Geophagus
are a lot less aggressive than Severums I think they'll be OK. Until the
angelfish is out of my quarantine tank I can't really buy any though due
to them always having parasites when I first get them.
Fortunately the Nitrofurazone/Kanamycin combo seems to be working. The
angelfish's mucus strands and grey fuzz are receding and the
inflammation in her fins is dying down. She is starting to get skinny
though so I hope I can get her to eat soon.
<So do I.>
Extra: I have a 5-gallon tank I have been using to raise Gulf Coast Toad
tadpoles I rescued from a dried up, construction-dirtied puddle on my
street. They're all grown into toads and I released them into moist
areas in people's lawns. I'm converting this into a set up with Java
moss, Java fern, and the aquatic grasses mentioned in your Betta
article, a female Betta, and (hopefully) cherry shrimps. Is it possible
to keep cherry shrimps w/Bettas, or will they get eaten?
<It seems to vary; worth trying, but there are occasional reports of
Thank you guys so much! Thanks to you I am curing an angelfish I thought
was a goner, my 105 tank is beautiful and all the fish are happy, and I
know how to stock my 5 gallon!
I will say in addition to taking care of fish in my house my family also
has a Chihuahua and I hope next summer to add some finches (I have
volunteered rehabbing songbirds, but I have always wanted some of my
Meanwhile I am working on an astrophysics bachelor's of science.
Nature is amazing and I wish more people who kept pets were willing to
appreciate how important understanding basic biology, physics and
chemistry can be to keeping things healthy.
<Glad you're enjoying this hobby. Good luck! Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, disease; induced; ongoing
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
The angelfish (Gabriella) has endured two courses of Nitrofurazone and
one course of Kanamycin. She looks better but still is secreting enough
mucus on her fins for it to pile on the bottom when it breaks off. The
mucus is clearer (not as much greyish fuzz inside) and there is less of
it attached to her fins but I have no idea how to get her to stop making
it. It turns into a white foam when it detaches which collects on the
bottom. The foam resembles bits of filter sponge, but I have none in my
filter so I have still little idea what it is.
Could a bacterial infection really cause a fish to secrete mucus like
I have never seen anything like it and it's starting to creep me out.
Apparently the Kanamycin is very toxic to nitrifying bacteria because
ammonia climbed to 1 ppm last night. I did a 40% water change and added
Amquel but I am not sure what to do at this point. I could give
Gabriella another course of Kanamycin and Nitrofurazone, but this would
mean I can't set up the biofilter again. I used Tetra Safe Start last
time and worked within a couple of days. Should I continue treatment?
I have heard of zeolite but I have never used it...should I try putting
that into the filter while I treat her? How long does it usually last?
(I am unsure if I have any basins large enough to dissolve enough
in to "recharge" it as you say.)
<Oh reviewing the many msg.s re this fish, my impression is that
it has been overly subjected to environmental insult and medication. I
would not treat it further>
<... please send other email topics separately. Bob Fenner>
Meanwhile in my 105 most of the fish are better from the Ich but the
Corydoras seems to still have it. He is also looking quite emaciated,
his belly is now transparent enough for me to see dark brown spots
(feces?) I haven't seen the other one since the Fish Gallery's service
last Friday and I worry they might have killed him somehow (many years
I had a particularly incompetent person bury a fish under a rock but I
Do you think Corydoras are simply not fast enough to deal with silver
dollars? The loaches can swim up to grab food quickly but cories seem
bogged down by their armor. I thought I was giving them plenty of
food but I suppose they still can't keep up. Should I forget about
Corydoras as bottom feeders for my tank and take out the poor guy?
Also I did not remove the weather loaches because they appeared to be ok
(one of them is positively huge around 6 in. long) but should I? My tank
is usually 75 degrees Fahrenheit but I raised it to 78 now that I am
for Ich (I know typically 80s are better for this but I don't think the
weather loaches will take it).
Re: Angelfish hlth., env.
Dear Wet Web Media,
I've never had to take care of a fish in a hospital tank before for more
than a day or two (they've either died overnight or recovered from what
ailed them in a few days) so this is uncharted territory for me. If I'm
doing anything wrong it's my own fault and I am sorry for burdening you.
I'm really wishing I used zeolite this whole time because not only was
difficult to cycle the tank without Tetra Safe Start, the Kanamycin
wiped my biofilter after I worked for several weeks to make it (oddly
enough when I used Nitrofurazone alone nothing happened...I guess
nitrifying bacteria don't mind it). Should I use zeolite in my
hospital/quarantine tank from now on?
<See WWM re its use>
I put in two whole bottles of Tetra Safe start since it worked earlier
quickly. The first bottle was a month old (still not expired) but
apparently that was too long ago as nothing happened. I bought a new
bottle and two days after the only thing that happened is
ammonia dropped from 1.0 ppm to 0.5 ppm then went back to 1.0 ppm
(nitrite has stayed zero so no evidence of recycling.) I recall
the last time it worked, within two or three days, the whole tank was
cycled. I guess it's not as good a product as I thought.
I put in carbon to remove the Nitrofurazone and Kanamycin still in the
water, then removed it once the water cleared. Most of the mucus on the
angelfish is gone (I guess she was irritated by the medicine) but
is it possible some Kanamycin was still there and preventing the
bacteria from growing?
<Yes; but cycling takes time. Read here:
and the linked files above>
I really want to feed her (she hasn't eaten in a month and is quite
but until I get the ammonia to zero looks too hazardous to do...
So...what should I do (besides water changes, which aren't keeping it
zero)? I can get BioSpira and zeolite easily.
From now on I'll send questions about my 105 gallon semi-aggressive tank
in a separate thread. But will you be able to recall what I asked
earlier about it in this thread?
<... see WWM... all correspondence is accumulated>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Angelfish; env. dis.
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Waited a week. No change in ammonia no matter how many Tetra Safe Start
products I added (I really have no clue why Tetra Safe Start worked the
first time...other people have had success with it. I guess all the ones
since have been sitting on store shelves too long?)
To be honest, she's so poorly I cannot wait for the tank to cycle. I
bought zeolite and started using it. Ammonia now is zero.
Should I try feeding her now that I have gotten ammonia to zero? She is
very skinny and I'm worried about this.
I think from now on I need to get just filter floss and zeolite
for the quarantine/hospital tank. Carbon is just too interfering with
medicine, and cycling takes too long for a tank which will have
antibiotics or fish that
are only in there a month.
One thing: I bought two brands of zeolite a Petco one and an API one.
The former says to change it every 2-5 weeks and the latter every 5
Which instruction should I follow?
<Either... only gets used/exhausted w/ NH3 exposure>
(I put in the former brand since every 5 days seems excessive, but I
have no idea if I can trust them since Petco sells distilled water for
fish and other stupid stuff). I was thinking of checking ammonia levels
to see how long I can wait and just use that as my change time.
Thank you...sorry for all this...
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or
Dear Wet Web Media,
Gabriella finally passed on overnight last night...sorry to say.
<Sorry to hear this.>
This is the last email on this subject then...
From now on, however, I will be using that tank as a quarantine tank so
I won't have issues with some of my fish becoming too aggressive after a
disease wipes out most of them.
<A worthy, worthwhile approach.>
Hopefully with my new maintenance schedule and the quarantine tank I can
prevent any illnesses from getting this far.
<For sure. Would recommend avoiding cichlids for a while. Of all the
common community fish, Angels (which are cichlids) and Dwarf Cichlids
are particularly prone to environment-related stresses, such as high
nitrate and low oxygen, and these in turn make things like Hexamita more
likely. At least some (e.g., Common Rams) are likely parasite-loaded
right out of the box. Broadly speaking, catfish, cyprinids and characins
tend to be more forgiving -- which is one reason these groups were among
the first to be
successfully kept in community tanks back when proper understanding of
aquarium management was in its infancy. Would also -- as ever --
recommend not adding any new fish for at least a month after the death
of another fish.>
Thank you for all the help. I was not able to save Gabriella, but the
illness problems in my main tank are gone thanks to your maintenance
suggestions. I will always have great respect for your expertise and
willingness to help those animals most people don't have second thoughts
<Thanks for the kind words. Neale.>
ANGELFISH EMERGENCY...was told bob might be able to help????
I have a 29 gallon Marineland night/day aquarium with a
penguin bio-wheel filter, a bubble curtain, and fake plants/decorations.
I have 4 baby angelfish that I LOVE in this tank. (Am
upgrading to 55 gallon in a month.
I used stability and prime to successfully cycle the tank 3 months ago.
My tap water ph is 8,
<High for Angels>
and so was my tank. i started using RO water (mixed 50/50 with tap water)
and lowered it to 7.9. My current readings are: ammonia (under
nitrites (0), nitrates (5). the ammonia is due to a mini-cycle
caused by medicating. Unfortunately, one angel either got
Columnaris or Hexamita. He jerked, shimmied, clamped dorsal and tail
fins, and looked like someone drew a red line outlining his body
underneath the dorsal fin. He hung at the top for 2 days (while
i tried heat and salt, because i hate throwing more chemicals
in the tank). I didn't know what was wrong, he was getting worse, so i
mistakenly used Maracyn and Maracyn 2 to try to heal
him, which messed up my cycle. My bf (trying to help) decided the whole
problem stemmed from me messing with the ph, and did a 50% water change
with tap water and prime only...which threw the ph up to 8.4.
<Yikes... very toxic w/ any ammonia present>
We keep trying to be good "parents", but seem to keep making things
the fish then developed a white patch on his head, in the middle of his
yellow stripe (which is what made me think Columnaris. but i later read
that it may have been caused by Hexamita...hole-in-the-head...and
actually be lack of slime). so, i next treated the fish with
parasite guard and triple sulpha.
<... please; no more medications. They're doing more harm than good>
I've also put stability in the BioWheel every other day to try to keep
ammonia and nitrites out. He seems almost cured (except the red line
remains). Unfortunately, I leave for a 7 day vacation tomorrow,
and the tank is showing .25 ammonia.
<Hide all food and med.s and enjoy your trip. Yes; don't feed, nor treat
this system further>
A second angel is slightly clamping his dorsal fin, which i think is
irritated by ammonia (using prime....they've never been exposed to any).
i won't be there to change the water if it spikes, and prime only
protects for 48 hours. I am desperate to find a product to keep my
babies safe for the week. I bought an aqua clear ammonia remover filter
insert, and also AmQuel plus and NovAqua plus because i was told it
would keep them safe for 7 days. i put fungus guard
in the tank yesterday (per the instructions the tetra rep i called today
gave me), to hopefully clear the red line and white spot (or lack of
yellow spot) on his head, which she claimed was a secondary fungal or
bacterial problem. i am putting the carbon back in tomorrow, but am
scared about the mini-cycle while I'm gone! Could someone PLEASE advise
me how to proceed?
<See the above>
I leave tomorrow. I am a new forum member under kelly5978. I created an
album with pictures, to help show you what's going on. I know it's short
notice, but I'm begging for help! Also, if the pictures help you know
what's really wrong with him, please tell. I plan to work on the ph with
regulator or peat when I return!
Thank you, Kelly
<Bon voyage. Bob Fenner>
Re: ANGELFISH EMERGENCY...was told bob might be able to help????
Thanks for responding! I knew all the meds were bad!
<Mmm, they do have their place... but are way too often mis-used>
They've had nothing for 3 days, and everyone seems okay.
Sparkle has nothing besides a little cloudiness on his tail where he was
nipped while sick. I took everything out (meds i mean) with a
water change, prime, carbon filter and leaving them alone.
The ph is 7.9. I SLOWLY (.1 every 24 hours) brought it back down with
25% RO AND 75% tap and prime. Has been for 5 days every time I check.
Since I put the carbon in, ammonia and nitrites are zero. Nitrates 5. I
understand they may still go through mini-cycle. My 3 questions:
1. I set up an automatic feeder (set to lowest setting). Did you say
DON'T feed them?
<Yes; or just barely>
I will take it down if that's what's best. I know I'm doing too much and
harming them with good Intentions.
2. Do I stop using the RO WATER? I've got such mixed feelings. 8.4 is
just sooo high for angels, but I've heard horror stories about RO water
<I would do as you've been; mixing the RO w/ just "some" tapwater; the
latter for a bit of mineral content (necessary)>
I promise of they're alive when I return...no more medicine. I really
was trying to help. Just listened to too many people!
<Ah, my friend. In the final synthesis, each of us must decide for
ourselves. Listen to others for input; but do require that they have the
ability, present the rationale, science backing their opinions>
I do have an er tank now that I will use in the future if needed.
3. Do you advocate aquarium salt on a regular basis in an angelfish
tank, or only when sick, or not at all?
<Not at all in the majority of systems, circumstances. Do search, read
Neale's article on WWM re>
Thanks so much!
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Bob f....what to do now? 6/15/13
Bob responded to my desperate plea about how to handle my sick
angelfish on vacation. I cannot find the email, and really need
follow up help. My profile is under kelly5978. Bob advised me (very
wisely) to put my medications and food away and go on vacation! I did as
advised, and all my fish are alive and well...except sparkle. If you
read my previous questions, my angelfish was clamping and twisting his
fins, shimmying, had a red line under his dorsal fin, etc. Parasite
guard and triple sulpha seemed to cure him. Upon my
return from vacation, however, he was hiding in the tree stump. I
finally coaxed him out and he ate. He has a definite
indent or hole on his head (in-between and above his eyes) that is a
darker yellow than the rest of his head. I hate to medicate them again,
but I can't just watch him die! His tail is also jagged and he stayed
the same size, while the others grew while i was gone. The rest
of the fish have NO symptoms. I can only think Hexamita (was
incorrectly treating for Columnaris). My Lfs does not carry metro or
hex. If bob (or anyone on staff) could please advise me one more time, I
would be so grateful! Do I just hope water changes help?
<Yes; this is all I'd do>
Or start parasite guard (which has Prazi and metro as ingredients) again?
<Not a good idea to expose fishes more than once to Metronidazole. Hard
on their kidneys>
Or order metro online? I just want to do whatever I can to help him, but
know that I go overboard when left to my own devices. I'm sorry to
bother you again, but truly hope for help!
Ammonia -.25 before water change. 0 now
<I would lower this over time to the "mid 7's"... with mixing in more
RO, perhaps using a commercial (Phosphoric acid-based) pH adjuster...
ahead of using change out water. Bob Fenner>
Re Water change confusion, angelfish troubles.
Hello, and thank you in advance for helping me again. I wrote a few
weeks ago, asking what to do about a sick angelfish while I was on
vacation. The advise I received was good, so I'm hoping for a little
more advise. I have a 30 gallon Marineland tank with a bio-wheel 150
filter, 5 juvenile angelfish, a Pleco baby, fake plants, a little
driftwood (recently added to hopefully lower ph), a sponge filter, and
bubble curtain. I cycled the tank months ago, but recently used Maracyn
(above mentioned sick fish), and other meds, and now get ammonia
readings. I have been told Water changes are the answer, but the angels
act funny every time i do so! They clamp fins (especially tail fins),
don't swim around as much, and seem more than just a little stressed.
<Are you saving the change (new) water up between use? I'd store it/this
for a week...>
I make sure the temp is the same, and use prime. However, i am worried
maybe I'm trying too hard to create a perfect tank, and ending up
hurting the fish I'm trying to make happy! I'm hoping if you hear my
story, you might be able to point out where I am going wrong....and help
me get my tank back on track. I love these fish, and feel like all my
problems stem from some little thing Im overlooking, or doing
incorrectly! Here are the things I am currently doing, that may be to my
1. My ph out of tap is 8-8.2 (way higher than the 7.0 /straight RO water
at the lfs). I began mixing 75% tap/25% drinking water (store bought,
label states RO, ozonation). It brought my ph to approx 7.8 and I use
neutral regulator to keep it there. I recently added driftwood also. I
understand a stable ph is more important than a low one, but everything
I read about angels indicates they are more affected by ph than other
<Not so much the cultured (vs. wild-collected ones). You have the
I also bought peat moss, but haven't used it because it doesn't say
"aquarium" on the bag, so I am afraid it's not the correct kind, and I
don't know if my messing around with the ph isn't worse than just
leaving them at a high one! My kH/gH are very high, so i have to use RO
water to make any changes. My questions: what is the safest way to lower
(and maintain) ph?
<Please read here:
Also, is it really that important to angels, or should I just leave it
<... I'd keep under 8.0>
Final ph question: if you advise me to just leave it alone, how do I stop
doing the RO water mix without creating a swing?
<... measure the new water to make sure it's about the right pH>
2. As stated above, I treated a sick fish with many different medicines
(so stupid!!!!) and Am now going through a mini-cycle, which is even
more dangerous because of my high ph. I tested the water just now:
ammonia-.25, nitrites-0, nitrates-5, ph-7.8. My questions are: should I
keep changing the water daily to get rid of the ammonia, or is it just
going to keep coming back until I let it work itself through?
<Stop feeding or feed very sparingly... and hold off on the water
changes unless the free ammonia exceeds 0.5 ppm>
I'm just confused as to how "spikes work" (i was once told I leave the
ammonia until it reaches 2 ppm, then change water, but got conflicting
advise from someone else). My bf gets really upset that I spend so much
time changing out water, and believes that if I just leave it alone, the
fish will be better off. I just need a professional opinion, which I
will follow. I have tried to figure this out through research, but
everyone seems to disagree on what works! So, do I keep changing water?
Or leave them alone? Again, they seem more stressed by the water
changes, and/or the new water, then the ammonia!
3. I believe my sick fish had Hexamita or hole-in-the head. I tried many
different medicines (which I know know was very bad), and parasite
clear/triple sulpha seemed to finally work. However, a couple of
the angelfish still have white poop. Should I worry?
<Not at this point no... the feces could be due to the ammonia
presence... THIS needs to be addressed first and foremost. All else is
4. Final question, specific to angelfish....is there any point
to a bubble curtain?
<Not really, no. Mostly for looks>
I always though it was making the water better (aeration), but I forgot to
turn it back on a few days ago, and noticed the angelfish seem much
I've never seen them so still, just kind of floating around (....and now
I will worry that they're too calm...geez I'm a worry wart)! I have
battled tank problems and diseases since I started this tank, so I guess
I'm not sure what happy fish look like! If they're not gasping, the temp
is the same, they are all upright, and they all eat....I'm going to
assume they are happy without the bubbles. Please correct me if I'm
<I'd leave out/off>
Sorry for the long email. I didn't want to bother you folks with 5
different emails about specific subjects, and hope it was ok to just ask
them all here. Thank you for your help! I just want the best for my
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Water change confusion, angelfish troubles.
You are so wonderful for responding so quickly. The link was invaluable
information, but I want to ensure I have this right. First, the
white poop could be ammonia related, and i shouldn't worry.
as for the ammonia, the fish are ok in it under .5ppm, so don't change
water until then.
<Not "Ok", but better than suffering the stress of too much, too often
Do i need to redose prime every 48 hours?
<No; not a solution and can/does forestall establishment of
Or is that low level not lethal?
<... please search, read on WWM rather than writing what is gone over
and over... ANY NH3, NH4OH present is debilitating>
I'd never heard of holding the new replacement water a week before using.
<.... read on WWM>
I'd be afraid of bacteria, but will choose your knowledge over my
intuition any day! When do I add the prime? Right before adding to tank?
Here's my understanding and questions based on what I read about ph...
the RO water is only lowering the kH/gH, NOT the ph? And the lower
ph is actually just unstable ph, that fluctuates, unless I add the
buffer? If I am correct on that point, then am I using the correct
product -neutral regulator- in my effort to lower ph and soften water?
One of your comments on a different post made me think the "buffer" is
to keep a ph from falling, which is the opposite of my problem. I
know the cichlid salts raise ph, and discus buffer lowers. All i want is
neutral and stable. So, should i stop using the neutral regulator until
i lower the kH and ph to the correct level, and then add it to keep it
steady? And, what's the best way to accomplish lowering kH?
I know the ph up and down products are no good, but isn't there just an
easy way? All these calculations leave way too much room for an error on
my part! Are pillows any good? I use an API master kit for the reg
readings (Ammon, nitrites, ph), but I use the strips for kH/gH. My
results are darker than the darkest level. I probably have no hope at
lowering this ph (or kH) but My fish ARE nervous and shimmy
sometimes as if uncomfortable.
And after reading your links regarding how ph works in the wild, and how
hard it is to try to manipulate a little aquarium, I'm just wondering if
I'm fighting a losing battle.
I love angelfish, and don't want a different type of fish, but I sure
don't want to keep my fish in water they hate! The link helped me, but
led to more questions. I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm truly trying to
understand and do this right. Im sure my confusion is apparent and
irritating. sorry. Are there any links that walk you through safely
lowering stable ph? With which products to use? Also, would live plants
help lower kH/ ph, or give me even more problems?
<Will definitely help>
After reading more, I see that I could possibly just use ALL RO water,
and a buffer to create a neutral kH/gH (and ph won't matter). How slowly
would I have to do this? And if I achieved it, would it remain stable?
If so, would I add buffer only for the amount of replacement water? Or
the equivalent of the entire tank again?
I think I understand now that kH is what really matters, and softens the
water. Then, a buffer is added to keep ph stable. Is this right? What's
the best way to accomplish this?
Again, sorry if I made your head spin with all my questions. My angels
are gorgeous, and I truly appreciate your help!
<Take your time... read. B>
Re: Water change confusion, angelfish troubles.
Sorry, forgot a question....does the API master drop kit measure free
ammonia? Or all ammonia? How do you know the difference?
<... use your search tool w/ the string: "API ammonia test kits, total
ammonia?"... Read re Salicylate tests... IF you're using Prime, you'll
want to get/use SeaChem's test for both free and total... >
Sickly Angels; FW stocking; mysterious damage to plants
First off, let me thank you for all the information on your site, which
has been an extremely useful base in order to set up my new aquarium.
<Glad it's been useful to you.>
Here are my aquarium specs: 420L (96 gallons or thereabout), freshwater,
with a large filter and a long airstone (about 30 cm). The aquarium is
quite densely planted, was well cycled before introducing any fish and
has been populated over the last three months with quite a bit of small
fish. As it stands now, I have:
- 11 small guppies, who were born in a smaller aquarium and brought into
the large one about a month and a half ago.
- 6 golden barbs
- 4 swordtails
- 12 zebra danios
- 16 neon tetras
<Potentially Angelfish food…>
- 2 small Plecos
- 1 smallish angelfish
<Mostly sounds good, though I'd swap the Plecs for Bristlenose Plecs
(Ancistrus spp.) because common Plecs will [a] get territorial towards
one another and [b] as adults will simply ruin this tank, pulling up
plants and making the water go cloudy with their waste.>
My idea is to keep the population more or less as it is, letting
whatever fry survive (one of the baby guppies is already pregnant) find
its place without adding any more. I haven't witnessed any particular
problems between species (although yes, I am aware that when the
angelfish grows big I am likely to see some of my smaller fish
at most a couple of my zebra danios chasing after each other.
<May be females… it's the males that tend to be semi-aggressive in small
No sign of fin-nipping on the angelfish, as far as I can tell.
All of that said, here's my question. The angelfish used to be two, but
one used to spend most of its time right below the filter, without
eating much or moving around a whole lot. About a week ago I found him
(or her) swimming very weakly and having trouble staying vertical, in
addition to drifting away in the filter's current when he/she came close
<How small is a "small" Angelfish? A lot of the very small specimens
sold in pet shops -- the ones with coin-sized bodies -- react badly to
transportation, and in my experience have quite a high probability of
dying for some undeterminable reason. Do also bear in mind that Angels
come from still to sluggish flowing water habitats, rather than the
faster flowing streams favoured by Danios and even more so Swordtails
(just look at how streamlined Swordtails are, and you get a sense of how
much they want moving water and swimming space). Anyway, if the water
current is more than gentle, Angels won't be happy, especially baby
I immediately removed the fish from the aquarium and tried to quarantine
it but it died during the night. Since then, my remaining angelfish, who
used to be more lively, is spending most of his time hanging out by the
filter, without moving that much. He still eats fine, but his change of
behavior and the fact that he is starting to do what the other one used
to do worries me. At this point, I'd love some advice about what to do.
I've read that groups of six or more are best for angelfish, but I'm not
sure whether my aquarium is overcrowded already.
<Remove the Plecs, and there'll be ample space for more Angels.>
I change about 15% of the water every weekend, but will be away for four
weeks in about two months, during which the fish will be fed but the
water won't be changed.
<Not a problem, so long as the tank isn't densely stocked, the fish are
fed sparingly, and you don't add any new fish in the two or three weeks
before you go away.>
Any thoughts ? Am I doing something wrong, or do I simply need to get my
angelfish some company ?
<Unless you want a large group of Angels, I would not. Two or three
Angels doesn't always work, and sometimes bullying happens. You find
they're best kept singly, in mated pairs, or groups of 6+ specimens.>
The other fish I have in the aquarium are also quite active, so maybe
that's disturbing the angelfish ?
Thanks for any help, and here are the water details to clear any doubts:
nitrites at 0, nitrates perhaps just above 0 (unfortunately I am using
the strip tests which aren't all that precise), pH around 6.8 (that's
the pH of the water here and I've read it's better to stick with what I
have rather than try to tamper with pH up or similar, KH around 15-20,
GH I'd say between 0 and 10.
<Sounds fine for the majority, but the pH is a little low for
livebearers, even though the hardness seems quite high. Keep an eye on
Also, while I'm at it - some of my plants tend to get eaten at night.
<Plecs. Even if they don't eat them, they damage them while rasping off
the algae, or else snap off/uproot plants while digging.>
Still manageable, and I've been putting some small pieces of papaya in
the aquarium in the evening, which seems to have worked, as they are
nowhere to be seen in the morning (except an occasional chunk which I
remove in the morning) and the plants seem less affected by the fish. Is
this something I can keep doing or could that cause some problems ? Any
other suggestions on alternatives ?
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Question about ph and angelfish
I have a tank with two light colored angelfish, 46 gallon. The ph in the
tank reads 7.8. In the past I tried to keep black angelfish.
<Darkish angels are notoriously delicate; something about the inbreeding required
to "fix" the black colour. Oddly enough, they also have a reputation for
being overly aggressive! At least, they did back in the 70s/80s when
they were at the height of their popularity.>
I had six, but not all at once, and everyone of them died within a few
<A lesson there… First question though: How big were they?
Angelfish with body lengths less than, say, 5 cm/2 inches are markedly
more delicate than bigger specimens. The coin-sized specimens
widely sold can be worth buying, but are often much more difficult to
acclimatise to your aquarium than expected. So, with delicate strains,
there's much to be said for buying half-grown specimens.>
Any other type of fish I had lived and thrived even a black lace which
is not completely black. The LFS guy that ordered in these black fish
tested our water and said that our ph was too high for any angelfish.
<Some truth to this, but not much. Wild Angelfish certainly come from
somewhat soft, acidic waters, though not necessarily the same very soft,
mineral-free, blackwater favoured by Discus (at least, this is true for
Pterophyllum scalare, the majority ancestor of the Pterophyllum hybrid
sold in pet stores). Anyway, the hybrid sort we see in pet stores
doesn't come from anywhere because it's a man-made fish, and like many
hybrids, it's much hardier than any of its ancestors. Provided the water
isn't crazy-hard, it can do well; here in England, Angels are often kept
successfully in "liquid rock" around the 20 degrees dH mark, pH 8-8.2.>
I did read that the people at angelfish plus in Florida who have a huge
hatchery breed angelfish at a ph of 8.5.
<Quite possibly. It is important to realise (and many people don't) that
pH isn't the critical issue; hardness is. Fish don't like sudden changes
in pH to be sure, but most of the Amazonian fish we keep in community
tanks are just fine between pH 6 and pH 8. For the most part, if you
moderate the hardness you can ignore the pH -- I have rock-hard water in
my tanks, so mix it 50/50 with rainwater, and don't really worry what
the pH is.>
They said that it is all about what the fish has evolved in. I do know
that the wild caught live in 6.8-7ph.
<And the rest… for some of the species like Pt. altum, we're talking pH
My thoughts are that the black angelfish are just too delicate and need
the low ph to survive.
<Unlikely the pH is an issue, but do check your hardness and act
accordingly. If you do something like change the pH directly (with
commercial pH-down products) you will make things even worse because an
unstable pH is even worse than the wrong pH.>
Is this true?? Thank you
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Question about ph and angelfish (RMF, anything to add?)<<Nope>>
The black angelfish were almost adults and I need to check water
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question about ph and angelfish (Bob, would you check my theory here
re: alkalinity?)<<Yes, comments added>> - 8/17/12
<Hello again Judy,>
I am the one with the two angelfish in the 46 gallon with the high ph. I
can't find a kH/gH kit around here, so I took a water sample to the guy
that sold me the black angelfish that died. He tested the water hardness
with a test strip, one of those 6 in 1 deals.
<Okay. These are trustworthy enough for "ball-park" figures like whether
there's detectable nitrite or if the pH is above or below 7, but you
should be aware they're somewhat difficult to read accurately and
consequently not good tools for accurate measurements.>
He said that our water is very soft, (we do have a water softener),
<You are using water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium?! You
really shouldn't be, for the same reason you shouldn't drink that
softened water either -- domestic water softeners don't really soften
water, they replace temporary hardness (= carbonate hardness in aquarium
terms) with sodium salts. That's fine for washing, but not good for
fish. Use the non-softened tap, usually the one over the kitchen sink,
that your installation engineer probably set aside specifically for
alkalinity is high and ph is 8.4.
<Well, this doesn't make sense at all. Alkalinity is temporary hardness
(I believe) and precisely what your water softener is meant to be
removing!><<Unless the alkalinity is coming from elsewhere? Very soluble
natural gravel? Shells, coral skeletons as decor in this tank?>>
He told me that my only choice was to lower ph with ph Down or ph
<You shouldn't actually change pH directly, EVER, but instead ensure you
have the right hardness for your fish, and only if the carbonate
hardness is low, then use an acidic pH buffer to steady the water
chemistry at 6.5 or 7. Normally hard water (at least, water with high
carbonate hardness) maintains its own pH at around 8 without much effort
from the aquarist, assuming regular water changes. Let's remind
ourselves that (freshwater) fish aren't overly fussed about the precise
pH, but they do need a steady pH; your Angels are fine between pH 6 and
8, so long as its steady. That your pH is 8.4 suggests a very high level
of carbonate hardness, so my guess is you ARE using the "un-softened"
tap/faucet without realising it.
Mail order a (liquid/drops) carbonate hardness test kit -- it's probably
the most useful single water chemistry test kit for the freshwater
aquarist. What you're after for Angels is a carbonate hardness between
2-10 degrees KH. As I've stated already, the precise value doesn't
Now, once you have a carbonate hardness reading, you can decide what to
If it's high, say, 12 degrees KH, then a 50/50 mix with rainwater or RO
(not domestic water softener) water will give you a carbonate hardness
of 6, and likely a pH around 7.5. That's PERFECT for farmed Angels, and
will be nice a steady between water changes, so there's no need to add
any potions. Easy! Collecting rainwater obviously costs nothing once you
have the water butt and have cleaned up your guttering (this is how I
get zero hardness water, England being a great place for rain if nothing
else!) but RO water doesn't cost much if you buy it from a good aquarium
shop in bulk.
Under-stocking tanks and avoiding overfeeding ensures best value from
each water change (i.e., you keep nitrate below ~20 mg/l and pH doesn't
drop too much). Unless I was keeping a lot of tanks or doing a lot of
water changes, I wouldn't buy my own RO filter -- they're expensive to
buy and expensive to run.><<Not compared w/ other technologies here in
but that is not a great idea due to the fact that you have to do water
changes. I have Malaysian wood in the tank and it turns out that the
tannins make little dent in ph. I think that the only thing to do is
accept the high ph. My question is are those test strips any good?? Is
high alkalinity bad for angelfish or is it like the ph issue??
<<Both can be an issue; particularly w/ black angels, small, challenged
specimens. As Neale states, best to have neutral to slightly acidic pH,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Koi Angel Fish, hlth, little data
These are some symptoms that our Koi Angel Fish has, it looks like
it's gasping for air, lips are enlarged, not eating as much as it
use to eat and it has three white spots on its gill. Thank you for your
<Hello Deborah. Do need some information here. How big's the
tank? How long has it been running? How long have these Angels been
installed? What's the water quality and water chemistry? (For these
latter, you should have, at minimum, a nitrite [not nitrate] test kit
and a pH test kit, and we need the numbers, not your opinions of them.)
Meantime, do read:
Most problems with fish are environmental; poor water quality, wrong
water chemistry, too small an aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Koi Angel Fish 1/19/12
Wow thanks for your quick,
so here's a quick review on our tank. We have a thirty
<Should be fine for one Angel or a matched pair of Angels. Larger
groups are risky unless you have six or more, in which case you want
changed the thirty percent of the water two weeks ago, removed the
gravel (using the net and washed it off) and put it back in. We were
having a fuzzy growth on the gravel, but since we did this it
<Wonder what that was? Blue-green algae? Nasty,
slimy, smelly stuff, often strongly coloured green, black or some other
shade. Often implies infrequent water changes, poor filtration, and/or
poor water movement.
White to off-white fluffy threads may be plain vanilla bacteria and/or
fungi, and these imply a lot of organic matter (faeces, etc.) in the
gravel and poor water movement.>
Here are the levels, Nitrate 160,
<Yikes! Cichlids really must have less than 20 mg/l if at all
possible, and certainly no more than 40-50 mg/l in the case of hardy
species like Angels (and even then, don't be surprised if they
sicken). Without low nitrate levels cichlids are VERY prone to disease,
especially the dreaded Hole-in-the-Head disease and Hexamita
infections. These latter can only be treated with Metronidazole
(Flagyl) which may be available over the counter (in the US) but in
most countries from vets.>
Nitrite 0, Hardness 150-300, Chlorine 0 Alkalinity 40-50, PH 6.2 -6.8
and we have been using 15mm of Easy Balance once a week for two weeks
<I'm not a fan of these "weekly additive" products. Do
little of use compared to water changes.>
Our tank has been set up for over a year and the Angel has been in it
almost that amount of time. The Angel was given to me so I don't
know it's actual age.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Koi Angel Fish 1/21/12
So with the Nitrate levels being so high (160), do you have any
suggestions on how to lower this level? Also, in reference to
the filtrations that we currently have an under the gravel system as
well as a whisper filtration system. Any suggestions on these? Let me
know. Thanks again.
<The key thing is to establish the nitrate level of your tap water.
If it's, say, 20 mg/l, and your aquarium has 160 mg/l, then the
difference, 140 mg/l, came from the aquarium -- biological filtration
and decay of
organic materials like faeces and plant leaves. So, you can lower the
nitrate level by [a] doing more water changes to dilute the nitrate;
and [b] by minimising the amount of nitrate the aquarium creates (e.g.,
by feeding less, by stocking fewer/smaller fish, by removing organic
material before it rots). Simple as that, and contrary to much of
what's said/sold in aquarium shops, there are no magic products or
cures that make high levels of nitrate go away. Nitrate-removing media
do exist, but they are only cost effective when dealing with relatively
low levels of nitrate to begin with, e.g., in marine aquaria where
lowering levels from 5 mg/l to 1 mg/l is worth doing in terms of
livestock health. You'd run out of money long before these would be
worth using lowering 40, 50 mg/l levels down to the 10, 20 mg/l we
want. Do read:
New Angelfish, hlth./env. -- 10/12/11
<Hello Rose and Peter, Sugam with you today>
I started a 45g tall tank in Feb, and have used your site as a
reference whenever I needed help.
Normally I can find the answer I need no problem, however today I am in
search of some help and have been unable to find a similar situation
amongst your archives to help.
<Happy to assist as best I can>
We have a 45 gallon tall tank (24" H x 12" W x36" L), a
steady 78 degree, planted, with a Rena XP2 Canister filter (carbon
changed monthly), Flora Sun Light, Whisper 60 air pump, with a 24"
wand and action air decoration.
My pH is 7.0, Ammonia is 0 ppm, Nitrite is .25 ppm
<this is toxic! Since your tank has been up and running since Feb,
the Nitrites should be down to zero. How did you cycle this tank and
what are you using to test your water>,
and Nitrate is 10 ppm. We do a single 10 gallon water change a
<what water are you using for your water changes? Do check it for
Our school up until yesterday consisted of 1 panda Cory, 3 skunk Cory,
and 2 bandit Corys (all about 6 months old and no bigger then
1.5") and probably about half a dozen snails that must have been
eggs that hitch hiked on my last addition of plants.
They have been a great yet unexpected addition, as I do have some algae
growth<.> <How long have you had the snails and have you
identified the species?> Yesterday my boyfriend added 4 small
(quarter size) veil angelfish ( 2 each of marble and gold, they came
from same tank in store), 3 upside down cat fish (about 1" in
length each) and 8 neon tetras about .5" in length each, as a
surprise for me Everyone ate dinner when they were fed earlier, a
mixture of crisps, pellets and brine here and there.
<That is a lot of life to add in a single day. Please be vigilant of
you water parameters and rectify your nitrites at the earliest. Any
amount is toxic and the new additions are only going to accentuate the
problem. The angels alone, at adult size are going to be a handful in
this tank and as such, I do believe you are quite heavily stocked. Do
keep in mind that they are cichlids. While not as aggressive as some
other cichlids, I wouldn't place them with small fish such as neon
tetras. Too much of a risk in my opinion.>
The angels are swimming around at the surface, with their lips kissing
the surface ever since I took them from their bag and released in the
tank. I have had 2 angels in the past one <so>I know it normally
takes a day or two to come out from hiding in a corner. The tetras,
also seem to be coming up and gulping air here and there, but nothing
like the angels who are staying at the surface. The upside down cats
are hanging out behind the filter output tube/wand.
Are they acting this way because there is not enough O2 in the water,
<could well be the case but oxygen levels are easily tested. I would
imagine the nitrites are a major contributor here> cause I
introduced too many new fish at once <also likely to add to the
problem as stated above>,
or is there something possibly wrong with my water.<as mentioned
Thank you for taking the time to read my question, any advice is
<Please do read here regarding caring for the angelfish.
Please also use the search feature to research the other species you
have in your tank. Do work towards rectifying the nitrites at the
earliest and manage the levels through dilution. As for your query on
oxygen levels, do secure a test kit or take a water sample to your
store for testing. A rather simple guide for oxygen levels is surface
agitation. Typically, if there is sufficient movement on the surface of
the water, oxygen levels tend to be higher. This, however, is just a
basic indicator and I do recommend testing.>
Rose & Peter
<Good luck! Sugam>
Re: New Angelfish, hlth./env. - remedial action 14/10/11
<Hello again, Rose>
The Nitrites have been 0 from Feb-until this week- we test weekly and
that was the first time they ever registered.
<Aha good! Likely because of the bioload added>We use a API
Master kit to test all the levels. We use our tap water, we fill 2
water jugs, let them sit for 5-7 days before adding to tank. <Good
practice, letting it sit. I assume you continue to use some water
conditioner to neutralize other pollutants as well?>I called the
location I got my plants from... and the snails are offspring from
whatever they have in their tank... all they could tell me was they
were "plant safe" <Okay, just watch keep an eye on them.
The reason I asked is I have had hitchhiker snails multiply like crazy
in my tanks in the past. You can read about freshwater snails here -
measured the tap(city) water tonight to see if there is nitrite in it,
and it reads as 0ppm, we did a 15 gallon water change (what we had
already set out for this weekends water change, and we filled the jugs
back up so they are ready to go if we need to do it sooner) <Sounds
good, how did the nitrites read after?> When we started the tank in
February (weekend of Valentines Day), we filled it with 40 gallons of
tap water that had sat, plus 5 gallons straight from the faucet. We
added half the amount of salt that the API carton called for (4.5
tablespoons instead of 9), and 45ml of API Stress Coat+, we then let
the tank run/cycle for 3 weeks, at 1 week I added a 12" x 6"
x 3" wood that I had soaked for a week, changing the water out
everyday to get rid of some of the tannins. I choose to add the wood
not only for aesthetics, and a hiding place for the fish but because
or<our> pH was high, for the first 2 months or so, despite
treatments, & using reverse osmosis water for the water changes it
wouldn't come down. <That's interesting, likely the source
water has high pH.> At three weeks we added 3 Corys and some tetras,
the pH was too much for the tetras and they didn't last more then a
month but we still have the Cory's and the pH has also leveled out
to a 7. Since doing the water a couple of hours ago, all the fish have
stopped bobbing at the surface, except for one who periodically goes up
for a minute then goes back down to mid tank. The nitrite reads less
then .25 ppm. <Excellent! They should read 0 so keep testing over
the next few days and ensure they get back down. Glad your problem
seems to be sorting itself out. Do keep in mind that the water change
has likely helped in two ways - for starters, it has diluted the
nitrites which, I suspect, were the cause for the behavior you
observed. The process of pouring in new water has also likely improved
the oxygen levels in the tank. I would be checking both the parameters
over the next few days as the water starts to stabilize and age. You do
sound like you are on the right track and I am certain your fish
appreciate the efforts you are making to keep them health and
Thank you <Anytime!>
Have a wonderful evening! <And you>
Rose & Peter <Sugam>
Re: New Angelfish, hlth./env. - remedial action 14/10/11
<Hi Rose>This morning I woke to the fish back at the surface with
a .25ppm reading on the nitrates. <Did you mean nitrates of
nitrites? I assume the latter. As I mentioned in my previous email,
this isn't entirely unexpected. Since a significant bioload has
been added to the tank recently, a mini-cycle may well have been
triggered. Are you reading any ammonia? While there are commercial
products in the market that will help you bring nitrites under control
and you may well consider them, I prefer to strike the balance through
dilution. Have had a decent experience with some of the Sera bacteria
starter products if you are inclined to go that route.> Peter was
getting ready to do another water change as I left. <Try not to
change too much water at once. I find it is better to do smaller
quantities more often.> Besides the water changes is there anything
we can do to help remedy the situation? <As mentioned above, I would
suggest staying on top of the testing and water changes until this
mini-cycle runs its course. Please also look at cutting down and even
stopping feeding completely for a few days until you have things back
under control. Don't worry, fish can typically go a few days
without feeding. Whether the food is consumed or wasted, it is still
adding to the problem.>Thanks Sugam!
<You are welcome! You do seem to be vigilant about the conditions
and I hope things come back under control shortly. Please consider how
you are going to address the potential issue of the angels getting to a
size to harm the tetras.>
Re: New Angelfish, hlth./env. - remedial action 14/10/11
Everyone seems to be doing better, we did have one loss.<Sorry for
the loss Rose but keep at it and as conditions improve, the fish will
get better. As long as the exposure is not long term, the chances of
them making it through are pretty decent.> Nitrites, and all other
levels are holding. <Glad to hear it. Please stay on top of it till
things stabilize.> Thank you for all your help and support. <Glad
to have been able to help!>
Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11
I bought an Angelfish a week or two ago. It seemed fine when I bought
The last few days I have noticed it's eyes both look cloudy.
are not bulging or anything. I had my water tested at my local fish
shop and they said everything looked good. I am treating my tank with
Melafix as I have a Lyretail Swordtail with tail rot. It got it after a
bout with Ich.
All of my other fish look fine. The Angelfish does not swim around much
and doesn't really seem to be eating much either. The past couple
of days he seems to hide more than anything. I have searched the net
and not really found any helpful results. Any help you can provide
would be greatly appreciated.
<Hello Ray. Cloudy eyes that appear overnight usually imply physical
damage (especially if just one eye is cloudy) or poor environmental
conditions (the usual explanation if both eyes are cloudy). It's
absolutely crucial you review the situation here. While it's
possible the fish was damaged in transit, be open minded to the idea
your tank isn't perfect. Just to recap, a single Angelfish needs at
least 75 litres/20 gallons of water, excellent water quality (0 ammonia
and 0 nitrite), middling to high water temperature (24-28 C/75-82 C),
and very peaceful tankmates. Things like loaches, Otocinclus catfish,
and some of the barbs like Tiger Barbs will frighten and/or damage
Angelfish and thus make poor tankmates. Because you've got
Swordtails, which need cool, hard water (22-24 C/72-75 F; hardness 10+
degrees dH; pH 7.5) it's unlikely you have good conditions for both
Swordtails and Angels, so one or other species will likely be
Review, and act accordingly. Cloudy eyes in cichlids very quickly turns
into Pop-eye, and that's difficult to treat. Melafix is a poor
medication for situations like this, and I doubt it'll help with
Finrot anyway, so not sure I'd bother. Instead, find an
antibacterial or antibiotic medication that's safe and reliable.
Here in the UK, I usually recommend eSHa 2000, but in other countries
you'll have other options. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11
Thanks for the quick response. I wish I had found this site and talked
to you all before I bought this some what expensive medication.
<Glad to help.>
The gentlemen at my LFS sold this as some sort of miracle drug that
will cure about anything from fin rot to tooth decay.
I spoke with him just this morning about the cloudy eyes and he
informed me to keep treating with the Melafix.
He said it would treat the cloudy eyes and prevent Pop-eye.
<Pop-eye is treatable, but accordingly to Bob just requires simply
good conditions'¦ see here:
Must admit, that's never been my experience, and you may prefer to
get out the Roto-Rooter grade antibiotics.>
Seems I need to find a more reputable fish shop which is kind of hard
to do in the area in which I live.
<May well be the case.>
Aside from a couple of small pet shops, about all we have is Wal-Mart
and Meijer. I am new to keeping an aquarium so I am still in my
I have a 29 gallon tank. In this tank I have Mollies, Platys,
Swordtails, Angelfish, a Gold Mystery Snail, an upside down cat and a
Striped Raphael in which my LFS said would all do fine in this tank
together. So are these not good tank mates for each other?
<Well, kinda-sort. Apple Snails rarely last long in tropical fish
tanks period, so accept that chap's disposable and remove at the
first sign of death. Both catfish are social species that would be
happier in groups, and I'd be very surprised if you see either of
them swimming about during the day. But yeah, they're both pretty
good species, even if the Raphael gets pretty big and potentially
predatory on Neon-sized fish. Synodontis are not beyond nibbling on
Angelfish fins. The three livebearers need hard water, which the Angel
and the two catfish don't particularly enjoy, and of these fish,
the Platies and Swords do prefer cooler water, 22-24 C/72-75 F. So no,
they're not an ideal mix, but in moderately hard, slightly basic
(10-15 degrees dH, pH 7.5) water kept at, say, 25 C/77 F, I'd
expect them to get along okay.>
They all seem to be doing pretty good aside from the cloudy eyes in my
Angelfish that I just noticed over the last couple of days. I bought
some of those test strips (which I was recently informed were
<Perhaps, but better than nothing. They're the ones I use, for
what it's worth.>
and according to the strips the nitrates and nitrites are 0, the
hardness (GH) is around 150 ppm,
<Medium general hardness.>
the alkalinity (KH) is 180 ppm
<Medium carbonate hardness.>
and the ph is about 7.8.
I keep the water temp around 79 F.
<Bit warm for the Platies and Swords.>
Any suggestions you could offer as to What fish would do good with
these water parameters would be greatly appreciated.
<You're pretty well stocked already, my friend! If this were me,
I'd prefer to keep 2-3 species really well (in terms of population
size and water chemistry/temperature) rather than a mish-mash of six,
seven or more species.>
It is nice to know that there are people out there who care enough to
take the time to put up a site that is filled with so much valuable
information. Thanks for all the help and keep up the good work.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11
Thanks for the advise.
<Glad to help.>
I will look into getting some of those books. I wasn't planning on
adding anymore fish but rather returning some of the ones that were not
suitable for my tank.
I hate that I have to do that because I really like all my fish.
<Well, if their fate is likely to be sold to a poor fishkeeper, then
by all means hang onto them. Angels and the Cats should be fine in your
It's just not perfect for them.>
Especially my two Marble Veiled Angelfish. I have to do what's best
for the fish though. It's a lot like raising kids. LOL! You are
right about the two Catfish. I don't see them much during the day.
I rarely see my Raphael even at night. He stays hidden inside a log. He
found him a hole in there so I can't see him at all.
<Typical of the species, genus, family.>
I have had him for a couple of weeks and I have only seen him once at
night. I check on him once in a while to make sure he is still alive. I
have done a lot of reading online and it seems a lot of people
experience the same with this Catfish.
<Yes, but they're often keeping them singly. But even in groups,
virtually all of the Doradidae are very nocturnal. The Synodontis
species are rather better aquarium fish. I have three Synodontis
nigriventris, the Dwarf Upside-Down Catfish, and they swim about during
the day quite a bit. Kept singly, you almost never see this species
during the day.>
Really nice looking fish though. Thanks again for the advise.
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes (RMF, can Melafix cause cloudy
eyes?)<<In a word, yes. RMF>> 4/8/11
Just one more question. Since I have already started the treatment with
the Melafix, should I continue the treatment for the duration it
recommended or should I stop it now and return my carbon filter to the
<A good rule for most situations is to finish the course of
medications as instructed on the packaging. Bob may have an alternative
I started the treatment two days ago and the water seems to be getting
cloudy. It says to treat for seven days. I don't know if it has
anything to do with it or not but I just noticed that when I started
the Melafix treatment is about the same time I noticed the cloudy eyes
in the one Angelfish. I read the cap wrong on the first dose and put
more than I was supposed to.
<Ah, I see.>
Could this have anything to do with the cloudy eyes?
<I'd imagine *any* irritant in the water could cause damage to
the outside of the eyes.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes (RMF, can Melafix cause cloudy
Thanks again for the advise. You been a great help. Take care and
thanks again for the site.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: hello (Pterophyllum; water quality) 12/30/08
Ammonia and nitrite are usually at 0 or very low, they were low when
the angels got sick. <Do understand that "zero" and
"very low" are not the same thing. A safe freshwater aquarium
registers zero ammonia and nitrite levels all the time. An unsafe
aquarium will reveal levels above zero. It doesn't really matter
how much above zero the levels are, though obviously higher levels are
increasingly dangerous, meaning they do more damage within shorter
periods of time. Most tanks with non-zero nitrite or ammonia levels are
some combination of the following: overstocked, overfed, or
under-filtered. Looking over your stocking list, seven adult Goldfish
and two adult Plec catfish easily overstock a 45 gallon system all by
themselves. You can mitigate problems by upping the filtration and
performing big (50%+) water changes more than once a week, but still,
the sooner you fix this problem, the better. In the meantime, varying
water quality will mean that these fish will be prone to opportunistic
infections such as Finrot (evidenced by the red streaks on the fins of
your fish). Now, when it comes to Angels in their own tank, your issues
are more specific. Yes, Angels are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite,
just like any other fish. But being cichlids -- members of the family
Cichlidae, despite their exotic appearance -- Angels are also extremely
sensitive to nitrate. True, this varies from specimen to specimen,
fancy varieties like Veil-tails, Koi and Blacks being more delicate
than the hardier wild-type or old school varieties like standard Marble
Angels. But regardless, you're aiming to keep nitrate below 20 mg/l
where possible. Or put another way, the lower the stocking density, and
the more water changes you do, the better your Angels will thrive. Like
most other cichlids, they likely come with certain parasites "out
of the box", at least where mass-produced fish are concerned;
things like Hexamita. As latent, and quite possibly normal, symbionts
within the gut these do no harm, but if you don't provide good
conditions in terms of water quality, temperature and diet, such
parasites can become serious threats to life. Note that I don't
mention water chemistry here: provided your water chemistry is stable
and within the range 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8, Angelfish really
aren't fussed. You're more likely to cause problems by
inexpertly manipulating water chemistry than by exposing Angels to what
you might thing is water that is too hard and basic compared with the
wild. There's no real "magic" to keeping domesticated
Angels, but you do need to accept that they aren't as tolerant of
lapses in water quality management as many other popular fish.> The
male that I was talking about died a little while ago. Help with what I
can do to fix the situation, why all three tanks got the similar
problem etc thanks <Hope this helps. Much about Pterophyllum care
here at WWM; have a read, and if you have some specific questions, get
back in touch.
Neale.> re: hello (Pterophyllum; water quality) thank you <Most
welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Angel fish, FW, dis., reading 11/26/08
I've had my angle fish for years now, she's been doing ok, but
lately i noticed that she has white bumps on her especially around the
mouth area, what could those be?
<Mmm, "nothing good"... tumours perhaps, maybe evidence of
"hole in the head"/Neuromast destruction... from a myriad of
Also i think she might be laying eggs soon because her lower area is
huge, it has been for a couple of days, this hasn't happened before
she's laid eggs before and i never noticed a bulge like that.
<This could also be pathogenic in origin>
However, a few weeks ago I did put in an air pump into the tank and it
is near the plant where she usually laid the eggs, do you think this
would prevent her from laying the eggs, if that's even the reason
she's so huge?
<Not likely, no. She can/will find elsewhere, or resorb the
Another thing, when I came home today, I noticed that she has white
circles around her eyes, but it's not on her eyes, and they
aren't cloudy, what could this be?
<Mmm, perhaps more evidence of something going on here that
shouldn't be... water quality, other stressor-wise>
And lastly, I have a 10 gallon tank,
<... much too small. The root "problem" here is induced,
environmental... too little space for dilution, stability,
with 3 fish: the angel (and she's about the size of a large palm
and I want to say I've had her for around 5 years) and 2 Bolivian
tiger angels (they are about 2-3 inches long and I've had them for
2 years). Should I have a larger tank and if the 10 gallon tank is ok,
what type of filter should I have, because right now I have a Whisper
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner
Fixing Up My Grandparents Tank... FW Angel sys.,
hlth. 12/25/07 Hello WWM, <Joe> Recently, on Christmas
day, I visited my Grandparents and it was sad to find out that the
Angelfish I had bought them 6 years ago passed away. I set the tank up
for them when I was in 7th grade, about the time when I was getting
into the hobby. I didn't know a lot, and I set up a 6 gallon
eclipse tank with some tetras, the angelfish, and an anubis (sp?)
<Anubias> plant. The tetras never made it, but the plant and
angelfish did. <Needs more room...> The anubis plant is still
around, and has grown well and green. The angel grew very large in the
small tank, reaching about 4 inches in length, not having a lot of room
to swim. It was until a year or two ago I realized the tank was too
small, and was surprised how he was still alive and well. <Might
have lived much longer, better in a bigger volume> Getting them a
larger tank would be hard, since they don't know a lot on how to
keep the tank. <What other possibilities are there Joe? Patterns...
consequences> I considered taking him and placing him in my larger
freshwater tank, but it would have caused problems in my tank, and yet
the angel provided my grandparents with company. They loved the fish,
<... not by my def.. If/when something is "loved" the
folks involved do their best to provide what is "positive to the
nature" of the other/s...> and were pretty sad to see him
go. I couldn't tell what was wrong with him, couldn't see any
markings, but I did notice his eye was a little red in one spot for a
while, and when he died that his mouth was a little chopped up looking.
My cousin said it was fungus, but I am not sure. It looked like he had
"chin hairs' or something. Now we need to decide what to do
with the tank. Its been established for 6 years, and I don't know
if it is a good idea to dump it, do some serious cleaning, take out the
rocks, etc. I figured I would clean half the tank water out and wait a
few weeks in case there were diseases. <Environmental only
likely> Here are the parameters. Temp 79, Ph. 6.8, Nitrate 35. I
need your advice on what to do. Should I get a new tank, do some
cleaning, dump it. Also, a suggestion on what fish would do well in the
tank and some plants that can also cope with the low lighting the tank
has. Thank you Joe <All posted on our site, "waiting" for
your perusal... Including FW Angelfish Systems if you'll look. Bob
Freshwater angel fish... sys., hlth.
9/25/07 hello crew, <Hello.> greetings and thank you in
advance, I will describe the problems I have been having with
freshwater angels. I have only been trying plain Jane pet store angels,
not wild types etc. I have had success with convict cichlids, breeding
and rearing the young no problem, and my nano reef tank is doing just
fine, right now still just "easy" animals, Zoanthids and
parazos and a three stripe damsel, and "utility" species, so
I have a decent amount of experience keeping fish, my Malawian tank is
doing fine, not breeding yet but giving it time, so enough back-story.
<OK.> I have recently purchased a few angel fish, one whose body
was roughly the size of a half dollar, and 5 the size of a nickle, I
watched the tank as best I could. The large fish is still alive and
swimming, but the small guys have all perished. <Very small angels
do not travel well. Also, angels are bullies, and big ones pick on
small ones. Contrary to popular myth, they aren't really schooling
fish. Juveniles congregate in groups, it is true, but adults form
territorial pairs. So, the classic way to start with angels is buy a
group of 6 identically sized angels, rear them together, and then
remove the excess fish once a stable pair has formed.> There are not
detectable levels of ammonia or nitrite, the nitrates are a bit higher
than i realized, the tank had previously been the home of my breeding
pair of convicts, as well as some tiger barbs and a guppy, the guppy
being the only one still in there. <Angels, like all cichlids, are
intolerant of nitrate. The goal is less than 50 mg/l, and ideally less
than 20 mg.l.> I had tried angles before, prior to the convicts, and
failed then, i then tried the convicts and right away, in the same tank
they did just fine. <Convicts and angels are very different fish in
terms of hardiness. This is especially true with "fancy"
angels, which are the ones most commonly sold. These have been selected
for looks, not hardiness or behaviour, with the net result that many
fancy angels are very unpredictable in terms of maximum size, disease
resistance, hardiness, and aggression.> ok on to the questions, I
apologize for the long story before the question. Just how sensitive to
hardness, nitrates, and PH are domesticated angels? <Varies, but as
a baseline, tank-bred angels are indifferent to pH and hardness within
a range of around 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8. Nitrates as mentioned can be
more of an issue.> Am I likely to have better luck starting with
slightly larger angels? <Quite possibly. But the main thing is to
ensure your water chemistry is similar to that of the breeder. As with
any fish, changes in water chemistry are more of a deal than what
precisely the water chemistry values are. Also, try and avoid the very
fancy varieties, things like veil-tails and koi angles. Ideally, pick
wild-type angels, as these have been messed about with the least. They
will have three or four vertical bands on the flanks and red eyes.
Marble angels seem to be reasonably robust, too. Gold angels are less
so, and black angels significantly less so.> oh sorry, the tank is a
55. <Should be fine for 6 angels while they're young, but a
breeding pair could easily dominate it.> I did massive water
changes, using a API tap water filter prior to angel fish introduction,
like 13 gallons changed out, current filtration is the H.O.B. filter I
had in with the convicts, as well as new Zeolite, (fear of overwhelming
the system) and a recently added Fluval 303 which I had not been using,
but has carbon in it as well. <OK. Here's some comments on your
filtration system. For angelfish (and cichlids in general) you need a
filtration system that provides at least 6 times the volume of the tank
in turnover per hour. The Fluval 303 has a turnover of about 220
gallons per hour, to which you should add the turnover of your second
filter. You're looking for a total of at least 6 x 55, i.e., 330
gallons per hour. But this also depends on how well the filter is
maintained, and also on what media you use. Zeolite and carbon are both
redundant in a well maintained aquarium. Zeolite isn't very useful.
It needs frequent replacing (weekly, really) and isn't as effective
or economical as a biological filter. Zeolite is really only for
hospital tanks and very acidic tanks where filter bacteria will not
grow. Carbon is even less useful. It serves no useful purpose at all in
a properly maintained freshwater aquarium. Doing 50% weekly water
changes will dilute dissolved organics in the water much more
effectively than adsorption by the carbon. Moreover, carbon removes
medication from the water, making it impossible to treat your fish. So
remove both the carbon and the zeolite. Instead, invest in biological
filtration. Pack both filters with a bit of mechanical filter media
(perhaps 1/3rd) and the rest biological filter media (the remaining
(2/3rd). the water I have is very hard, i don't have to add
anything for the Malawis. <Shouldn't be a problem. People
routinely keep and breed angels here in England where the water is
harder than Lake Malawi.> I am at a loss, and i need to know what I
am doing wrong. please help, I desperately wan to have success with
angels, and eventually Discus. <Whoa... get the angels right, and
then move to discus. If you can't keep angels, you have no chance
at all with discus.> I am at the point of all but giving up on any
soft water species and sticking to the African rift lakes, central
America and salt water creatures. <That's certainly a viable
approach to take. Fishkeeping is a whole lot easier when you choose
fish that like your local water conditions. But in this instance,
I'm not sure water chemistry is the critical factor.> Also at
some point, after moving to my own house rather than apt. I wish to try
native fish, so albeit yes I have "Great Expectations" I am
trying to progress in a logical sort of manner. again Thank you for
your help, Forrest P.S. have tried to eliminate any typos, spelling
errors or grammatical errors. <Well, I hope this helps!
Re: freshwater angel fish -- 09/25/07 thanks again. will add
up on the biological filtration more, and get the nitrates down ASAP,
and yeah the Discus are quite a ways off, figure it's always good
to have a goal though, I am not thinking of discus in less than 3
years. Thanks again, Forrest <Very good. I'm not sure it takes 3
years to get up to speed for keeping discus, but definitely keeping and
breeding angels for a year or so will teach you all the basics. Modern
discus are really not all that difficult to keep, especially compared
to wild discus. But they ARE less forgiving of mistakes than angels.
Once you're happy you can handle angels and get them to breed
successfully, there's no reason to feel nervous about discus. As
ever read, learn, and be patient while your skills improve. Cheers,
FW angels lying on bottom, precious little
data 6/20/07 I have three angels. The first started
lying on the bottom, breathing heavy and stopped eating. <Very bad
signs> Now and then he would start to swim as if nothing was wrong,
but eventually would go back to the bottom. About 2 weeks later, the
second angel started doing the same. The other fish (third angel,
sharks and algae eater) are doing fine. What could be the problem
Debbie Ferack <Likely either low dissolved oxygen and/or too much
accumulated CO2... No info. offered re the system, maintenance, water
quality tests, foods/feeding... Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwangeldisfaqs.htm and the
linked files above. Bob Fenner>
FW Angel with "pop eye"
6/13/07 I have exhausted all resources and cannot find a diagnosis,
treatment or answer to my problem, so you are my last hope/resort. I
have a 40 gallon tank with 2 Bala Sharks, 3 Angels and 1 plecostomus. I
have had the tank and all of the fish for close to 5 years and have
never had a problem until about 3 months ago. One of my angels had an
eye problem, it was protruding, looked like a big bubble but there was
also white strands coming out of the side of the bubble. After research
and talking to my LFS, angel was diagnosed with "pop eye" and
I was told that it was probably due to poor water conditions.
<Mmm... if so, the other fishes would show discernible behavioral
changes...> Which I could understand as I had not changed the water
in some time. I was advised by my LFS that Maracyn-Two would be the
most effective treatment and after medicating, to remove and rinse all
the gravel. <No...> I did, and angel was fine. Twelve days ago,
its' other eye popped out. Again, it almost looked as though it had
a big zit behind the eye because there was a white stand coming out of
it. Went back to LFS and bought more Maracyn-Two and after 5 days of
treatment angels eye had still not fully "deflated" so did
another 2 days of treatment, then another 2 days of treatment. Looked
as though almost back to normal and was going to do a water change the
next day and wow, angels eye is bigger than I have ever seen it! Angel
is still eating okay, just has to lean to one side to see the food and
spends most of the time in one corner of the tank. My LFS thinks
I'm crazy for the amount of money I have spent on medication but
I'm not too sure if I'm even using the right medication. Again,
your help is greatly appreciated. Kindest regards, Liz Smigel <There
are a few possibilities here in terms of probable collateral
"cause"... Perhaps water quality is/was an issue... I would
NOT continue adding Minocycline or other antibiotic... Perhaps the one
angel is "getting old", has some predisposing
genetic/developmental issue... That the other angels are not-affected
leads me to consider that they may be somehow playing a role here... as
aggressors... If it were me/mine, and I had facilities to do so, I
would move this one affected specimen elsewhere. Bob Fenner>
Re: angel with "pop eye" -- 06/16/07 Hi
Bob - thanks for your advice - unfortunately I don't have the
facilities to move my poor angel elsewhere. But you got me thinking
when you mentioned the other angels possibly being aggressors - I think
that it might be the Bala sharks. <Could be... Balantiocheilus get
very large...> I've been concentrating on my poor sick angel and
water conditions but never thought that it might be due to injury. My
Bala have grown bigger than I thought they would and they are very
active, always have been but now they are a 1/3 the size of the tank
and they rule. <Yikes... need more space> I have been watching
more closely for the last couple of days and they definitely seem to
pick on the injured one. So, I have now finished the last of the
medication and am going to clean the tank and see what happens. I might
just have to face the fact that "angel" is getting old - I
don't know what the lifespan of angelfish is but "angel"
is now going on 6 years. <Can live for a few decades...> Anyway,
thank you again for your time and reply. <Welcome... Thank you for
this update... I do think aggression is the root problem here.
Re: angel with "pop eye"... Bala shark
deaths 6/21/07 Hi Bob - last night while I was at
work I got a call from my son at 7:30 saying that one of the sharks was
lying upside down in the tank - he was dead by midnight. I did a lot of
research on the internet as to "sudden death of Bala sharks"
and the common answer was that because they are very active they can
injure themselves so assumed that was the cause. <Is a common
problem, yes> Today I went to my LFS to see what they had to say and
they concluded that it was probably self injury or old age <Mmm,
Balantiocheilus live a good long while... get surprisingly large... a
foot and a half long... Not likely the source of mortality here> or
natural causes - heart attack, stroke, along those lines. When I got
home this afternoon, my other shark was lying upside down! His eyes are
very cloudy! <Environmental...> I keep turning him over but I
don't think he's going to survive much longer. Very sad!! Good
news is my angels eye has almost returned to normal. Any suggestions?
PH is fine. Thanks again for your help. <A bigger system really.
Live, tall plants for psychological comfort... Bob Fenner>
Stress Is Killing Angelfish
3/22/07 I have a black/silver marble angelfish who started to
"lean" to the side a couple of days
ago. Boy? Girl? I don't know but
I've named the fish "Pretty." Pretty is about 3 to 4
inches. Pretty started to hang by the back filter -- appears
like Pretty likes the water running on her body. She tries
to right herself in a vertical position but is
unsuccessful. Pretty is lethargic and not feeding
well. The tank had a recent spike in ammonia and the nitrate
level is also high with pH level around 6.4. I'm
treating the tank for the ammonia spike with water changes, Amquel and
bacteria. It's slowly working. What's
wrong with Pretty? She shares a 29-gallon tank with a
handful of mollies, 2 plecostomus (spelling?), a red tail shark and a
ghost who is about 12" in length. They've been a
"family" for quite some time with no problems. I
don't see anything on her skin, scales, fins,
etc. Pretty is about 3 years old. Please help!
< The spikes have left your angelfish with internal infections. In a
hospital tank treat with a combination of Metronidazole and
Nitrofuranace. Treat the main tank with Bio-Spira from Marineland to
get the ammonia in check.-Chuck> Debbie
Losing Fish and a Sick
Angelfish 11/16/06 Hello, and thank you so much for providing
this valuable resource. < Thank you for your kind words.>
I've looked through the other queries and haven't seen anything
exactly like this. I bought a 4 inch tall angelfish (used)
from a pet store along with a small blood parrot fish about a month ago
for my 55 gallon tank that has been established now for nearly a year.
The angelfish adapted immediately with a voracious appetite and I
thought all was well. About a week ago my 6 inch long Bala
shark kicked the bucket for no apparent reason followed the next
morning by (horror) my friend's foot long, 12 year old
Pleco. Both had been acting somewhat lethargic and the Pleco
had stopped cleaning algae off the glass, though he would still eat the
seaweed paper I put in for him. I did an emergency 20% water
change; nitrates were at around 20 ppm, pH of 7, and no detectable
ammonia. So back to the angel, previously the third largest fish in my
tank, now sadly the largest, has been swimming listlessly around the
tank refusing to eat. (The remaining three lemon tetras, two Longfin
rosy barbs and parrotfish appear totally unaffected). I have
moved the angel into a smaller 3 gallon Eclipse hospital tank (cringe I
know it's pathetic but it is established) and am prepared to treat
him for what my internet research tells me may be an internal
parasite. But what should I use? He's not
bloated in anyway, just refuses anything I offer from flakes, to frozen
blood worms and brine shrimp. He also occasionally appears a
bit unbalanced, tilting to one side. I'm really crazy
about this beautiful gold angel and am already distraught at having
lost my favorite fish from my now emptyish tank. What should I do? <
Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat
the angelfish with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace or Clout in the
hospital tank. Feed only once a day and only enough so that all the
food is gone in two minutes.-Chuck> <<A bit more explanation
offered... the suggested treatment protocol is intended to address the
most likely pathogens... and the water change to further dilute
metabolites that are likely mal-influencing your livestock.
Eye Fungus Angels 10/15/05
Hello, <Hi, Catherine here> I have a quick question.
< 1 period is sufficient.> I have a 10 gallon tank with two
adult Angelfish in it. <What! Depending on the species adult
angels need 30-50 gallons.> A few weeks ago I thought I had an
ick problem or possibly an external parasite problem. <What
were the symptoms? Could you not tell the difference?> So
I <it's I> bought some CopperSafe and began to
treat the tank. They seemed to get better but tonight I noticed that
the white spot on one of the fish's eye came back and he is
beginning to swim sideways again. I did a water change, added some more
CopperSafe and cleaned out the filter. I don't know what is causing
this white spot to appear on their eyes. Any ideas? <Yes. Eye
fungus (white stuff over the eyes) is typically caused by poor water
quality. Please check your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The readings
should be 0,0, and less than 20. Ten gallons is far too small for
that much fish. On top of that, the medication probably killed the good
bacteria in the tank and now you are recycling and getting ammonia and
nitrite spikes. Extremely short term solution: 50% water changes daily.
A new tank is necessary -- I'd also buy some BioSpira from
Marineland to seed the tank and make it cycle faster. Please look
around WWM for information on angels, freshwater disease, and
cycling.> Thanks, Marikate <Anytime, Catherine. Also, in
the future, please use correct capitalization and punctuation, so I
don't have to fix it.>
Angel fish I am in a bind. I have lost 20
angel fish in the past 72 hours. The first symptoms I see are a slight
fungus around the eye. Within 12 hours the fish are dead. No other open
wounds are seen except for one. All of the fish look like they have
lost their eyes. The sockets are wide open and sunken. There is no
fighting in the tank. Angelfish are the only breed in the tank. The
tank was started 2 years ago with 2 fish that soon after had a lot of
babies. Unfortunately for me and the fish, only a few of the fish died.
Because there were so many of them I changed the water on a weekly
basis to avoid ammonia buildup. Several months ago, I finally got a
local store to take about 30 of them, a friend to take another 20. So I
was down to about 30 fish. I continued to change the water weekly and
the fish looked fine. Then I went on vacation and the water was not
changed for 3 weeks. I now come home to this. pH was off the lower end
of the scale. <Yikes... I'll bet> I put salt in the water I
added ick and tried some fungus eliminator. With each treatment I have
done a complete water change. Now i have Melaleuca CAS#8008-98-8 where
do I go from here???? <Add aeration, and drip, change out the water
continuously dripping new, dechloraminated water in to replace the
removed water. Monitor pH, and don't feed the system anything till
the pH is back in the 6-7 range. Bob Fenner>
Re: angel fish Thank you for answering back so
quickly. Should I continue with the Melaleuca CAS#8008-98-8 product
(which is the only Rx I have in the tank now) along with the aeration
and drip? <Yes... with adequate aeration it should help to
some degree> At present, the ph is 6.8. At least I have not had any
fish die since I first wrote you. I appreciate your help. There are no
fish doctors in this town only the fish supply person (who at times I
think is out for a sale). Again thank you, thank you, thank you. Jan
<You're welcome my friend. Steady on. Bob Fenner>
Today's dying FW angel question.... In
attempting to discover why my angels are dying and no other fish are, I
wondered if maybe they are a little more sensitive to nitrites than the
other fish, as the nitrites were activated a little around that time
when I did a gravel cleaning and water change. I had to stop
once 50% of the water was gone, but there was still detritus left in
the tank-although I don't think there was a lot. Must
have been enough to cause some trouble, though, as when I took a
nitrite reading shortly after the cleaning) they were about .40.
That might be enough to do it.> I assumed from the fact that there
was still detritus that I must be overfeeding-although it's hard to
imagine since I feed twice a day with one pinch during each
feeding. I am trying to clean a little per day, so as not to
cause too much distress to my fish, and this morning I rinsed the
bio-filters and pressed water out of the carbon filters themselves. The
carbon filters were about 3/4 greenish and 1/4 blue. What
determines when I should change them? Should I change one at
the time? (There are two-my filter is a 330 Marineland) There was quite
a bit of detritus on the filters as well, but I rinsed them pretty
thoroughly and put them back. To my horror, I noticed some
detritus (sorry to keep using that word so much) came through the
filters-although not much. Is this normal? I
filtered what I could see through a net, and the water is clear once
more. I should mention that my water has bounced back to
crystal clear during both water changes and filter cleanings and the
fish seem to be thriving and there haven't been any more
deaths. Your thoughts on all of this? < The Marineland
330 is a great filter. I would rinse out both filter pads under a high
pressure water hose until the pads are back to being blue. The bacteria
live on the wheels so you can thoroughly clean the pads each time. Only
feed you fish enough food so all of it is gone in a couple of minutes
once each day. The uneaten food is a major source of nitrogen waste in
a tank.-Chuck> Cyndy Monarez/Thomas Nelson