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FAQs on Freshwater Disease Treatments

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesToxic Situations, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

FAQs on Freshwater Disease: Freshwater Disease 1, Freshwater Disease 2, Freshwater Disease 3, FW Disease 4, FW Disease 5, FW Disease 6,
FAQs on Freshwater Disease by Category:
Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional,
Social, Trauma, Genetic, Pathogenic (plus see Infectious and Parasitic categories below),

& Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseNutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease


Re: Trouble with my xxl freshwater predator tank     5/24/16
Well, I just came home from picking up some KanaPlex and Methylene blue from the LFS and the temensis bass was dead in the 40 breeder quarantine.
I did add 5 cups of aquarium salt to the 380 gallon display tank and treated a half dose of PimaFix
<Worse than worthless. See WWM re these API scams>

(I figured it couldn't hurt and I really want my Arowana to make a full recovery). I also added two extra wave makers to the tank to provide extra water flow since I have bumped the temp up on the display and added the PimaFix.
The Arowana is still eating pellets, and none of the other fish are showing any symptoms.
Thanks again,
Ashton Nietzke.
<.... is there more to this msg.? Bob Fenner>

Dead fish after 25% water change. More Melafix deaths    10/1/14
I just found your site and wondering if you can help me. Yesterday I had MelaFix
<Mmm; am decidedly not a fan of this API product... it's a sham, a scam... of no use medically... and implicated in disrupting nitrification, causing troubles>
in my tank so last night I did a 25% water change. Rinsed my filter, vacuumed my gravel and squirted flourish with a syringe on my plants. I have had aquariums for years with no issues and have followed this same procedure. As I was doing the cleaning I had fresh water in my bucket that I had already added Aqua plus and cycle to. I finished the cleaning added a pillow to the filter and refilled the tank with the new treated water. 30 min later the fish started dying.
<Ahh, another non-"Fix" data point>
They looked like they were at the surface gasping for air. I have since lost 11 fish. Some of the remaining ones now have ragged fins or appear to be still struggling. I am not sure what to do now as the procedure I
followed I have done so many times before. This particular tank has been running for four months with no issues and is 37 gallons Also I test my water regularly and the water appeared to be in line even after the water change. Any suggestions what to do next will be appreciated.
<Write API and ask for replacement of your livestock. Am hoping for removal of this worse than placebo. SHAME on the folks that sell this bunk product.
Bob Fenner>

Angelfish and other assorted deaths. No useful data     10/7/14
Hello WWM, have a bit of a pickle.
About 5 or so weeks ago I decided to sell my barramundi and start a community tank.
I went out and (In my excitement bought more fish than I should have at once) bought a mixed species of community fish, totaling up to about 100 small species for my 6x2x2 670L tank.
For the first few days there were a few of the angels behaving strangely, sitting at the top of the water, gasping (Oxygenation of the water isn't an issue, they seemed to be gasping all the time and only 1-2 fish at a time)
<Some sort of shock/stress... that all were involved points to some aspect of water quality>
Water parameters at the time were within range for all the fish in the tank, Ph at 7 Ammonia and nitrite were reading 0. Nitrate seems tricky to tell(According to the API test kit reads so red that nothing matches on the chart, while other test brands read about 10ppm) Water is 77 Fahrenheit.
<Likely these are all okay... could be... a metal, alkalinity.... an organic, inorganic...>
I've been to several aquariums, they all have no idea. I have treated for parasites with formalin, and I have treated for bacteria with a product called "Tri sulfa"
<Sulfa drugs... very old timey... not useful for a broad mix of pathogens>
nothing seems to have stopped my angels from dying.
No other fish have shown new symptoms since treating for bacteria, but I've just lost one from my breeding pair of angels today.
ANY idea would be hugely appreciated!
Regards, Chris.
<Mmm; well; let's have you read. Here:
and the linked files above... to give you background, present the sorts of data we're looking for...
Do write us back with more and your further observations
Bob Fenner>

Re: Angelfish and other assorted deaths.    10/8/14
Hello again, thanks for your prompt reply.
Perhaps you can recommend a better anti bacterial than the tri sulfa?
<Depending on the cause/hope for treatment and circumstances... a "cycline" or furan compound might be more efficacious>
or a course of treatment in general?
<? Not recommended to "generally treat" organisms, systems. That is, w/o knowing what it is you're treating for and the circumstances of the particular system, I do NOT advocate simply adding chemicals>

I sadly lost another large angel today also, but managed to get some photos of the gills.
<This fish looks exsanguinated... but from what? Nitrite exposure?
Parasitic involvement? Do you have a microscope handy?>
This is the first time I've lost fish, so I've no real idea on how they are meant to appear.
This is after about 30-60 minutes of no gill activity, laying in the tank dead.
I have one fish presenting symptoms left, while the display tank seems to be okay for now, though I will keep an eye on it.
The remaining angel was moved into a quarantine tank 138l with salt, some bactonex and MelaFix.
<... this last may be a contributor... SEE WWM RE>
Still exhibiting signs, I think that it MIGHT be helping.
Lastly, you said "present the sorts of data we're looking for" if I've missed any data or information please in the effort to save my fish let me know what specific data might help!
Sincere thanks
<.... READ where you've been referred. B> 

question about ugly red sore on Arulius Barb's mouth... A host of errors; knowledge, action lack    1/27/14
I have been searching & searching the i-net for help in diagnosing my Arulius Barb, who is about 5 years old, maybe.
<Decomposition from an injury; poor water quality, perhaps nutrition... from?>
My problems started 2 weeks ago, when I added 6 small tetras, a small iridescent shark,
<Ohhh; misplaced here... This catfish grows to be huge... feet long... Do read here:

Needs to be outsourced; ASAPractical. May be a principal source of the trouble here w/ the barb>
& a catfish to my established 45-gal tank. The tank contained: 2 large Severum, a Cobalt Zebra,
<?! An Mbuna (Malawi Cichlid)? It too is incompatible with the barb, Severums>
a Black-fin tetra, and the Arulius.
I need to point out that from 2011-2012 I developed Mycobacterium marinum from this tank after adding a piece of driftwood I bought at a pet shop. I sawed off some tips after it had swelled inside the tank, apparently got a sliver, and was on antibiotics for 7 months after it took Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit 8 weeks to confirm the culture. So I figured it had been long enough, and wanted to add more fish.
Within a week of adding this new batch (the driftwood was disposed of, of course, and the tank cleaned), both Severum developed Ich.
<I see this in your pix>
The 6� one died within 3 days. At the time I noticed the Ich, I also noticed that the water temp was only 70°. I bought a new heater & it is now at 78°, though I've got it up as high as it can go, & it is designed for a 50-gal aquarium. It appears that the Ich on the smaller Severum is much better. He's recovering, I hope. But the photos below will show you the red/orange growth on the Barbs mouth. Today he's acting listlessly, hanging out at the top of the tank where there is the most water flow coming from the bio-filter wheel.
Days 1-3: Removed carbon filter, added Malachite Green
<Need to raise water temp. into the mid 80's F. See WWM re treating FW Ich>
On Day 2, I believe, the large Severum died
Day 4: water tested with Tetra Easy Strips
<Don't trust test strips... see WWM re...>

<... What? Are you a prankster? This is CRAZY high... see WWM...>

             Chlorine=0 (well water)
             Total Alkalinity=180
<Too high... see...>

Did 30%water change, suctioned the gravel, added salt, 2-day treatment (48 hrs apart) of Super Fungus Cure and Super Ich Cure (API brand); I've also added Tetra EasyBalance Plus the last 2 days.
<None of this medicine adding will do you or your livestock any good until:
1) You remove/separate incompatible species
2) Raise temp.
3) Lower the NO3 below 20 ppm.
4) Lower pH...>

Carbon filter still removed; The water testing is not turning out any different day by day, though I have only done the 1 water change. I don't know how many/how often I should change it.
<Stop writing, and start READING>
 A couple days ago the shark & catfish were gone, and today I noticed the 2 Zebra Tetras are also gone. Im losing fish like crazy
<.... you're good at buying things... a western consumer... not so good at investigating before buying>
& don't know what to do.
<... I do>
Please advise, if you can.
Thank you very, very much for any help.
Flint, MI
<Read on! Bob Fenner>


Re: question about ugly red sore on Arulius Barb's mouth    1/27/14
Wow: thanks for the quick response to my urgent issue.
 I apologize, but so much of your site is very technical & difficult for me to understand.
<? <Keep reading... a bit at a time... address each issue I've mentioned. Don't write: READ>

 Having gone now about 8 years with this aquarium with no problems, I thought I was doing fine. Moving from city water to a home with well water, I thought had created a ton of problems for me. But the tap water (using the test strips--I do not yet have a liquid test kit) shows levels are perfect.
<.... STOP. 200 ppm of NO3 is not perfect>

The blue guy was identified as the Cobalt Zebra by the Cichlid Keepers Facebook page by the attached photo I posted.
<... can't live w/ the other fishes listed>

So you're saying he's the first that's got to go, or the Arulius? If the blue guy goes back to a fish store, I'm still left with no other tank set up; what do I do with the barb for treatment?

 Today he's developed orange spots on his body. Is it safe to put him into a heated, aerated bucket until he's healed, or are your 1) that he is not going to heal anyway, or 2) chemical treatments aren't going to work?
<No; read>
I changed about 30% of the water yesterday, and another 30% today.
<Read re NO3. BobF>
Oh--for feeding, I use Tetra Tropical Crisps, very light feedings.
Thanks again,

Our fish are dying! Help!     8/21/12
Good evening! We searched your website and were unable to find an appropriate article so we're hoping you can help us with our email. We have a 15 gal tank, fresh water that's established and been running for about 6 months now. We do a 25% water change every other week and do frequent water tests (always in range). But in the last week we've lost 3 fish (2 female Mickey's and a Zebra Danio) and 1 medium sized ghost shrimp. The 2 male Mickey's have become reclusive in the last week too.
<Mmm, something... toxic going on in the tank here... from inside or out... e.g. an ornament, mean tankmate... the tank being sprayed w/ an ammoniated cleaner, being placed too near a kitty litter box... >
We currently have 3 Zebra Danios, 3 guppies (we can't remember what kind), 1 ghost shrimp, 1 catfish, 1 male Sunburst wag, and the 2 male Mickey's.
Everyone was happy and social until last week. We noticed that the female Mickey's suddenly became anti-social and were hiding on the bottom for a few days before they died. The Zebra Danio appeared fine; until we found it dead tonight. Two of the guppies have "torn" tail fins also. We've used CopperSafe twice
<Toxic... should have killed the shrimp outright>
 in the last 2 months and use the aquarium salt
<Not a good idea either>

 and water conditioner @ water changes and change the filter every 30 days.
We also have a slight abundance of small snails. We had an algae eater
<?! What type? The common Chinese Algae Eater is a killer... See WWM re>

 that grew really fast so we moved him into another tank about 2 weeks ago.
We're at a loss. We hate seeing our fish die. With the exception of the catfish, shrimp and the algae eater...we brought home all the fish at the same time. We've had the others for several months now too. Any suggestions?????
<To keep doing the water changes, skip the salt and copper, read re the CAE (and remove if this is Gyrinocheilus). Bob Fenner>

Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy Guppy Bloated; Flame tetra Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here? 8/5/11
Your informative excellences~
<Never been called that before!>
Im afraid I may have caused a snail/copepods die off with tetracycline
(or killed my cycle with TC)
<Shouldn't do, if used correctly, but always a risk with antibiotics.>
that caused an ammonia spike and foul water or stressed my fish out with too many water changes or maybe because I switched from Stress Coat to Start Right for a couple water changes or did this happen because my filter overflowed all over the floor into the middle of the night and left the filter exposed and killed my cycle,
<Yes, drying out the sponges will kill the bacteria. But if the sponges are damp, the bacteria should survive.>
is it because my water is hard and my PH is high?
So much has happened I just want to move everyone into my new 55 Gallon but now Im afraid it will be too stressful on them or Ill just transfer whatever is wrong with my 20 Gallon to my new tank. Please help..I will welcome all insight..even though I have been scouring your sight for the "answer" in the hopes that I would not have to make my ordeal public and suffer the public flogging....I know I have made mistakes, I now know Tetras thrive in softer water opposed to Guppies, Mollies, and Platies.
<Yes, and it's quite difficult to keep both together without problems. There *are* tetras that can live in hard water, but none appreciate the salty water Mollies do best in, so on the whole, if you want Mollies, set up a hard water tank for them and other hard water fish.>
I know my tank is overstocked with the fry and juveniles which is why I received the 55 Gallon, but am now hesitant to move everyone or anyone.
<I see.>
Ill start at the beginning of my nightmare. Female bi-color(Gray and Black) guppy birthed a batch of fry on June 26 th , 2011. She developed a "gouge" on her back ( I imagine from being so pregnant and not being able to maneuver herself very stealthily and being harassed by the male Molly and Male Fancy Guppy) prior to birthing,
but it healed with water changes and a little extra Stress Coat. I think this may have been the entry point for the bacteria that ultimately caused her demise. On July 11 th (Monday) she began acting lethargic, hanging at the top and with a slight bend in her body, like her tail was too heavy, almost like every movement was a chore. Her appetite had not diminished, but since I've raised this fish I knew there was something wrong.
<Guppies are not hardy, at least not the fancy Guppies most folks keep. It's as well to remember that, and treat them carefully. Indeed, they're often best kept ion a Guppy-only tank, or else with a few very peaceful tankmates.>
Observing her from beneath and from the side I noticed that the scales near her anal vent seemed raised, almost as if there was a bulge or they were "ruffled" like feathers. I realized too late she was beginning to bloat. She began to show signs of hemorrhagic septicemia(lethargic, red streaking along lateral line and in fins) as well as my Kissing Gourami, Albino Corydoras, and Black Skirt/Hi-Fin Tetra (ripped, bloody tail and visible red lateral line).
<Now, if a bunch of fish show "red" on their fins and body, Finrot is much more likely the problem, and Finrot almost always follows water quality problems. So there's a two-step fix here: undo the water quality problem, and then treat for Finrot. Treating without fixing the water quality won't work, and when treating, you need to remove carbon, if used, because that'll remove the medication.>
It was harder to see the red streaks on Bi-Color because of her black coloring. Bi-Colors scales began to raise on her back and tail and began to be obvious when viewing from above. She was still eating but had taken to resting on the bottom and breathing heavy(panting). DROPSY!! I put her in a breeder net and in a panic added Pimafix and Melafix until I could get better medications. I know it isn't advised, but she looked so miserable.
<I understand. But really, stepping back and acting slowly is often better.>
I did a 50% water change and she seemed happier and the Albino and Gourami's streaking went away. I began treatment with Maracyn TC and as I also noticed that one of my Flame Tetras had developed a dark spot on his breast. I even administered a few Epsom salt baths to Ms Bi-Color to try to help with the bloat(there is very conflicting information on your site as to doses, whether it be for a dip or a bath or to add to the tank). The fuse blew on the outlet that the power strip for the filter and lights and heater are plugged in, but as soon as I noticed(only a few hours at the most) I grabbed an extension cord and got them plugged into a working outlet. The electrician came out on Thursday. She was dead on Friday. I did a 25% water change and put new carbon in the filter to try to get things back to normal and less stress the healthy fish. On Tuesday(July 19 th ) before I turned the lights on I observed the Flame Tetra swimming at an angle and in circles as if he was trying to right himself and then the Fancy Male two-dot began hiding and losing color near where his tail meets his body and the bottom 1/4 of his tail and breathing heavy. I did a 25% water change. On July 21 st (Thursday) the Male Fancy was still hiding in back but was still eating and would come out and swim around from time to time. On July 22 nd (Friday) he was still acting lethargic so I did another 25% water change. He was still acting strange so on Sunday I did a 50% water change but he was dead on Monday night. On July 28th(Thursday) one of the Molly/Guppy juveniles appeared to have Popeye and a damaged gill on the same side..almost as if his skin was peeling. I did a 25% water change and moved my Female Fancy Guppy to my boyfriends tank to give her a rest from harassment. On July 29 th (Friday) I found a Molly/Guppy juvenile dead for no apparent reason and a different Flame Tetra had a mild case of Popeye in one eye but worse in the other and Female Guppy had suffered quite the tail nip by my boyfriends Serpae Tetras so I put her back in my tank and did a 25% water change and added Epsom Salt for the Popeye. The next time I looked at the tank Female Fancy Guppy was head down in the gravel resting on a plant...I thought it may have been because of the loss of the section of her tail fin because she was otherwise fine and when she saw me resumed swimming normally. The next day(30th, Saturday), the Tetras eyes were much improved as were the Guppy/Molly, but he had taken to sitting on the gravel and had developed a white ring around his eye and his bottom lip was quivering and moving up and down continuously with white "spots" on them(Columnaris?).
<Yes, certainly possible.>
seemed to have trouble grazing or closing his mouth and wasn't eating. It seemed to be painful to him. Which I felt warranted a 25% water change while replacing the Epsom salt I removed and cleaned my filter. On July 31 st (Sunday) I noticed the other Flame Tetra was having trouble swimming again before lights on and appeared to have developed lumps on either side of his head in the same location on both sides. Where his "ears" would be behind the gills but up on the lateral line. I did a 25% water change replacing the Epsom Salt I removed with water change and the Molly/Guppy came out and ate with everyone else..seemed promising. On Monday(August 1 st ) I awoke to my tank being 30% empty because the filter overflowed onto the floor and the Guppy/Molly with the Popeye was dead. I removed the deceased fish and it was early morning so I refilled the tank with conditioned water and removed the carbon form the filter so it would fit back in canister and went back to sleep. When I awoke I realized that my Kissing Gourami had stopped kissing and was just laying in one corner and the Giant Danio had stopped swimming..he just hovered in mid-tank and stared and the Black Kuhlii Loaches(2) were out during the day. Since my filter had already done the unscheduled water change and I hadn't added anymore Epsom Salt(Is it harmful to Kuhlii Loaches?) I thought I would wait to see how everyone was doing in the morning. I was trying so hard to avoid medications. I was so hoping good water conditions and water changes would heal all. On August 2 nd (Tuesday), My Chinese Algae Eater was dead!! Plus the one of the Flame Tetras bumps had become almost pimple like as if something was protruding out of it. If I didn't know better I would have thought it was bone, but could have been fungus. I removed the corpse of the SAE, whom I have had forever and never shown any signs of illness, and did a 50% water change. Kissy still wasn't kissing and Hi-Fin Tetra had lost color that night. My water became cloudy and a white cloudy film had started to develop on the inside of the glass. I didn't know if it was a bacterial bloom or if it was algae beginning to form since Kissy and the SAE weren't doing their job anymore. On August 3 rd (Wednesday) nothing had changed except another Molly/Guppy juvenile had developed the "damaged" eye(all black with a white ring around it and swollen) and gill and I felt with all the illnesses and unexplained deaths and cloudy water and Female Fancy Guppy looking bloated and having trouble staying level, with rapidly raising scales, and the possible Columnaris on the juvenile and sore on the Tetra and Popeye on the other Flame Tetra, that I had a bacterial problem. At my wits end, and panicked, I did a 50% water change and added the first dose of Mardel Maracyn 2(Minocycline) and Jungle's Parasite Clear Tablets(Metronidazole, Praziquantel, Diflubenzuron, Acriflavine). Within an hour Kissy had begun kissing again!! Female Guppy ate a some medicated food(small bits of table shrimp(unthawed) in dissolved Parasite Clear tablets and water) but was still very bloated and having trouble keeping herself level and the Flame Tetras pimple had become an open sore that white was visible in. Later on Wednesday night, I did an Ammonia test which tested high(Danger 6.0) so I did a 50% water change being careful to replace the same amount of medications that I had removed and have ceased feeding. Again, Kissy began kissing again but Female Fancy Guppy just seemed to get more bloated. Her scales were now more visibly raised. On Thursday(August 4 th ) I awoke to find her stuck to the intake of my filter...assuming she had passed away, I used the net to pull her out but she waddled away and resumed her position at the top of the tank. I administered the second dose of Maracyn 2 a few hours later and the Molly/Guppy juvenile with the "eye injury" seems to be doing better. The white on his bottom lip seems to have "shrunk". No one else is showing any negative signs. Later that night Female Fancy excreted a thick, solid, white, puss like "log" from her anus and it seems to be coming out of her birth canal as well. Her nipped tail heals more everyday, however. Her scales are raising more every time I look it seems, so I gave her a Epsom Salt bath, but I don't think my fish have time for me to guess anymore..time to swallow my pride and ask for help from the experts. While in the Epsom bath some of the white substance/feces came loose and I was able to tweeze it out, and it was quite solid but not alive. She still has some trailing from her, it is very thick. Could it be puss from internal bacterial infection or dead rotting fry in her uterus? Her poop looked normal yesterday and then connected to a white string, but before it all came loose from her it was attached to an orange jelly-like substance(like underdeveloped fry or eggs). Kissy is more active but still not kissing like normal(perhaps bacterial infection of her mouth?) and the Tetras bump/pimple/sore has lost the white stuff(which seemed to be drawn out) and is somewhat of a pit. The bump on the other side of his head is still just a bump(blood filled perhaps). Today, August 5 th (Friday) everyone seems more active. Even the Female Fancy Guppy. She seems oblivious to her now even more raised scales(she is now developing a Mohawk and bubbles are resting in the spaces in between her scales and her skin the spaces have become so pronounced). She is still having trouble staying level, but isn't just hanging at the top. Seems to be easier for her to maneuver her bloated body, she isn't just floating around aimlessly. I gave her an Epsom Salt bath(1tsp/Gallon of tank water for 30 minutes) this morning and added the next dose of Maracyn 2 to the tank. Her tail continues to heal. Even the injured Guppy/Molly juvenile seems less "sore". The white stuff in his mouth isn't as swollen. His lip is still quivering. The Flame Tetras sore seems to be shrinking and healing. It is simply pink now and both bumps are subsiding. I had thought about Lateral Line Erosion being a possibility, but are Tetras afflicted by that?
<Not really, no.>
Is it possible that the physical damage to the Molly/Guppy juveniles eyes are happening from the siphon tube I use to change water? At least one of them always ends up in the bucket...I have since banded a guard on the end so it won't happen anymore. Are they just prone to illness/weaker because of the inter-breeding of the species?
<So long as the fish isn't physically damaged, being slurped up a siphon doesn't seem to do any harm. Done this many times myself!>
Can I use human Metronidazole?
<In theory, yes.>
I have 500mg tablets I could crush. Is it absolutely horrible that I used two medications at the same time. I'm not sure which is helping the most or at all or if the rejuvenation is in direct correlation to the water changes.
<I would not do this though.>
I just want to be a good mother to the animals in my care. I had really hoped I could save everyone through better water quality, but I seem to need more help than that. I feel like an absolute failure and am so frustrated.
<Don't be. This is fixable.>
Is it ok to move the healthy fish to the new 55 Gallon or will it be to stressful or will the illnesses just continue in there? Where do I go from here? I will be implementing a fishless cycle, of course, using filter media from an established healthy tank to seed the new filter and the same substrate(after a thorough gravel vac) and plants from the 20 Gallon, unless you advise against it. Im afraid my 20 Gallon will be a hospital tank for awhile before everyone can enjoy the new digs in the 55 G. I had planned to run both filters on the 55 Gallon to help seed new filter but, now the beneficial bacteria in the 20 Gallon filter will be nuked by the medications, I imagine. So, I'll have to do some juggling with filter media from my boyfriends tank because he has two filters running at all times.
<A good approach. Yes, you can transfer live media from one tank to another. But the risk, of course, is you can transfer diseases too, so don't put your media in his filter.>
Tank of Death is a 20 Gallon community tank that I also used as a sorts of snail "holding" tank for my GS Puffer to eat.
<These are brackish water puffers and won't live for long in freshwater.>
As the poor dears won't last five minutes in the Puffer tank. I haven't added any new snails since March 1 st , 2011. It has been up since January 4 th , 2011. I did a fishless cycle with a piece of table shrimp and filter media from existing tank. The last new fish I added was a Mellini Corydoras on April 15 th , 2011. The residents are a bunch of rejects of sorts that became too big for my boyfriends tank or didn't get along with a resident in his tank. It was not a planned community. He is not the researcher I am. There are some live plants and some fake plants. I add Stress Coat to tap water at water changes. I used Start Right for a few in there when I had run out of Stress Coat and had to use my boyfriends Start Right. I was adding 1drop/10 Gallons of Kent Iodide for Calcium for the snails to thrive but have not added it since July 17 th . I came across an FAQ where the poster was advised to remove a decorative shell from the aquarium as it leeched minerals into the water, and I have a few decorative shells that should sufficiently provide Calcium for the snails. I also have a few "caves" constructed out of what I assume to be limestone tiles, broken up and assembled. It's a pebble substrate with an 18" bubble wand and a bubbler tube that use to have an air stone on it but, it crumbled away, for aeration and movement. I am still using the filter that came with the kit(Im sure its inadequate for the bioload, but it will help in the 55 Gallon). I feed TetraMin Tropical Flakes, TetraColor Tropical Flakes, Tetra Baby Shrimp(sun dried), Tetra Bloodworms(freeze dried),and drop in Hikari Algae Wafers for the Corydoras and Gourami..not all at the same time, but just so you get an idea of what goes in my tank. Only enough so that it is all gone almost immediately. I am even careful to watch that what food does sink the Tetras and Corydoras catch it. I do 25%-50% water changes weekly and rinse the filter cartridge in old tank water. New water is always conditioned and as close to temperature of remaining water as possible. I only have Jungle Quick Dip Test strips for Ammonia and "5 tests in 1". I have ordered a liquid test kit online. Should I be using a high range test kit to get more accurate readings?
Today's readings:
Ammonia .25
Nitrate <20
<These two why your fish are dying.>
Nitrite 0
GH 300
KH >300
PH >8.4
<Quite hard. Tetras and Corydoras probably won't be happy here, no matter what, so I'd return these to the pet store. But Mollies, Guppies, and other hard water fish should be fine.>
Tap water reads:
Nitrate 0
Nitrite 0
<Note this! The ammonia and nitrite are coming from the fish. The tank is overstocked, overfed, and/or under-filtered.>
GH 150
<The higher General Hardness in the aquarium water compared to tap water presumable reflects the Epsom salt usage. Stop with this! Just do a series of 20% water changes for the next five days, each day, until the aquarium GH value is approximately that of your tap water. Epsom salt won't be doing much helpful here.>
KH >300
PH >8.4
I think that is everything...I know you will not be shy about letting me know about my short comings and where I've made mistakes and things that need to change so my 55 Gallon will be the heaven I envision for my li'l buddies. I eagerly await your evaluation and subsequent advice that will follow.
Thank you in advance~
<Well, Candy, the fixes are these: Remove fish you can't keep (the ones that need soft water). Return aquarium water chemistry to normal by stopping with the Epsom salt and additions of any other types of salt (aquarium salt for example). Remove carbon, if used, so you can use medications reliably. You're dealing with bacteria infections caused by stress, likely Finrot and/or Columnaris, so medicate accordingly. Stop feeding the fish until ammonia and nitrite are ZERO. Check the filter is set up properly, and adequate for the task at hand. Sit back and DON'T add any more fish for AT LEAST six weeks after the last fatality. Buy or borrow a good aquarium book, and read it. Feel free to write us back if you need more help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy Guppy Bloated; Flame tetra Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here? 8/5/11
Good Evening~
I knew you guys were fast, but that's ridiculous...45 minutes is an amazing response time!! Freaky Fast!!
<Glad to help.>
Thank you so much for the guidance. I just wanted to clarify a few points:
Am I to stop medicating for the five days I perform the water changes (Get the water quality back to optimal and then medicate)?
<You can add each day's portion of medication immediately after each water change. In practise, medicines "fade out" within 24 hours, so provided you wait that long between water changes, the medicine should do its job.>
Or continue medicating and just add the new dose of medication with the new water? What type of medication will be most effective here? Should I finish the Mardel Maracyn 2(Minocycline) course of treatment with the Parasite Clear or is there something better suited for my situation? I am 3 days through the five day course for Maracyn 2. Furan 2, perhaps? Erythromycin?
<Finish the medication you're on, certainly. Now, Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 treat different sets of bacteria, and sometimes bacteria that aren't killed by one of these medication gets killed by the other. So one strategy is to use the two of them, one after the other, as complementary medications.>
I removed the carbon from my filter cartridge before I began administering the Maracyn 2 on August 3rd. Today I pulled the filter out and rinsed the impeller (I wanted to make sure it wasn't clogged or had hair wrapped around it or any other obstruction that would cause diminished performance. Disgusting!
<A good sign that the filter is overwhelmed by the weight/number of fish in the tank.>
So I hope that helps a little with the Ammonia and Nitrates(lot of white, hair-like, smelly stuff).
<This slime is bacteria. Not disease bacteria, but decay bacteria, like you'd find in sewage pipes.>
I have not fed since Wednesday(August 3rd) and have done 2-50% water changes and a 25% today. So, in theory, any salt ,Epsom or otherwise, should be just about gone. Should I do more water changes/day, beyond the 20% prescribed, if I notice the fish are distressed, well, more than they are now? Like darting or gasping at surface? Or will the 20% be sufficient?
<Yes, if the fish are distressed, you can change up to 50% of the water at once. Alternatively, and perhaps more safely, you could do two, three or four 20% water changes per day, each an hour or two apart.>
Puffer has his own Brackish tank. He is very vibrant, responsive and active. All tanks have heaters on them set at around 76 degrees F..I have removed the Corydoras from the tank as suggested.
<Cool. As it happens, the hardy species, like Corydoras paleatus and Corydoras aeneus, can do well in "liquid rock" hard water. But most are pretty unhappy in such conditions.>
I was making things way more complicated. Thanks for simplifying the solution and not being too harsh!
<You're welcome. And you got me on a good day. Sometimes we do get a little snappy, I admit!>
IYO, could I have saved myself a lot of misery and fishy lives if I had completed the Mardel Maracyn TC(Tetracycline) course of treatment in the first place?
<Impossible to say. I certainly wouldn't worry about this question. The disease is/was caused by environmental stress, specifically water quality, likely aggravated by the very hard water chemistry. Fix this side of the equation, and disease shouldn't be a major problem again.>
Just for future reference. Hope to hear back from you soon so I can move forward with any additional suggestions.
Confident things will improve~
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy Guppy Bloated; Flame tetra Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here? 8/7/11

Hope you are doing well today~
<Not bad, not bad at all.>
Female Fancy Guppy passed away last night(11:27pm CST; RIP Big Mama). Sadly.
<Too bad.>
She was on of my first fish when I started with my 5G well over a year ago now. She lost all ability to level herself and was head down in the gravel. I imagine that with her bloated abdomen it became too much of a struggle to balance it out with her tail. It was truly a troubling site. Her scales were protruding so much that she had to be uncomfortable and the other fish had started picking off her scales. Miserable to watch. I secluded her in a breeder box so she could have some peace, and soon after, she was gone:-(
<Do review euthanasia; 30 drops of clove oil in a litre of aquarium water, stir well, then dunk the fish in for 10-15 minutes. Will die painlessly.>
I have Erythromycin, which is essentially Maracyn(?), so it's good to know that if the Maracyn 2 does not clear everything up I am safe to use the Erythromycin for the Columnaris/Bacterial infection/Fin rot(Ugh..that sounds horrible!). Can I just start administering the Erythromycin (Maracyn) or do I have to get the Minocycline (Maracyn 2) out first?
<Erythromycin isn't as useful as it once was'¦ much bacteria resistance. If you have Minocycline, I'd go with that first.>
If more than one 20% water change/day is necessary should I be concerned about keeping the level of medication constant, by adding more, or should I be more concerned with water quality?
<Don't worry about either. As I tried to explain, if you add the medication at, say, 8 AM, then if you do a water change at 7:55 AM the next day, the medication will have been "used up" anyway, so you can go ahead and add another dose for Day 2 after that water change. Of course, the ideal is to do no water changes while medicating, but if you have non-zero nitrite and ammonia levels, you may not have that option.>
My instinct, and perhaps common sense, is telling me to worry more about water quality since that was the catalyst for this dilemma in the first place, but I also don't want to render the medication pointless. Now that Female Fancy Guppy has passed the medication isn't as urgent of a part of the equation with the other afflicted members are on the mend.
<Indeed. If all the other fish lack symptoms, so you can assume are basically healthy, then no, you don't need to medicate, and yes, you can do water changes and concentrate on fixing water quality issues.>
So did I make another fatal mistake by removing the "sewage" slime from my impeller and motor? Ugh.. Please tell me I did not get rid of MORE essential, good bacteria!!
<No, the good bacteria are in the filter media (sponges, ceramic noodles, etc.). Provided these are rinsed carefully you won't remove the bacteria (squeeze them out in buckets of aquarium water until they're basically clean, and enough bacteria will remain to do the job perfectly).>
Today after the water change my Ammonia is still dangerously high(dark green),
<Not good. Do check your tap water as well, some tap water contains ammonia. If you have ammonia in your tap water, you'll want to use a water conditioner that neutralises it (choose a brand that fixes chlorine, Chloramine, ammonia and copper). Next up, if your tap water has no ammonia but your aquarium does, then the problem is the number of fish and/or the amount of feeding and/or lack of adequate filtration.>
but my Nitrates
<Nitrite or nitrate? They're different.>
are negligible (barely turned the pad color at all). I'll do another 20% after I send this.
My new 55G is set up and the filters are running. Ammonia is showing up and a tinge of Nitrates. At this point, with my 20G being so toxic I'm tempted to put a fish in for some relief and clean water..but would that be out of the fire and into the frying pan?
<Hmm'¦ I'd be tempted to move all the fish to the 55 gallon, and bolt both filters onto that aquarium if possible. If nothing else, the same number of fish in an aquarium 2.25 times larger will mean you will cut your ammonia levels by more than half. A win!>
I am seeding the filters with filter media from a healthy tank, but understand this can take awhile. I'm also dropping pinches of fish food in to feed the bacteria in the filter media. Any other suggestion to speed cycling? I don't want to use anything from my "sick" tank for fear of spreading the bad bacteria. Anything from my Brackish tank would be useless because it is different bacteria, correct?
<Depends on the salinity; from SG 1.000-1.005, you basically have freshwater filter bacteria, so you could move some media from the brackish tank if necessary. But may not be necessary.>
What is your experience with the bottled bacteria?
<Very variable.>
Dr Tim's One and Only or Hagen's/Nutrafin's Cycle or Bio-Spira? I assume not to rely on these alone, despite what the claims are, but could they be of some help here to speed things up?
<Yes, they can speed things up, and if your medications have hit the bacteria badly, then these might help undo some damage.>
Thank you so much for not getting snappy with me. I've seen some responses from you with ALL CAPS and your blood pressure rising and had prepared myself for such a reply. I've read so many of your articles and answers to FAQ's I almost feel like I'm "speaking" to a celebrity..I'm a bit star-struck to be honest!!
<Don't be.>
Thank you, again, for your time. I bet you are getting sick of me~
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy Guppy Bloated; Flame tetra Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here? 8/7/11
Good day to you~
Thank you so much for your time!
<Most welcome.>
I was in the process of getting water icy to euthanize, but she was gone before I was satisfied it was cold enough to do the job quick and painlessly. Wonderful article on euthanasia. I can't find a pharmacy that carries clove oil.
<Hmm'¦ do ask for Eugenol instead, it's "scientific" name. It's widely used for toothache, and may be sold through health food shops as well as drugstores. If all else fails, a quick look at Amazon saw it being sold for the princely sum of $5.00.>
I will finish the Minocycline course.
I meant Nitrates were negligible..My Nitr"i"tes have been 0 through this entire ordeal...its the Nitrites with the "I" that are deadly, correct?
Even in a small amount. I think my problem is with ammonia. I tested my tap and it is in the dangerous area... 6.0.
<Yikes! This is most commonly the case in places near agriculture. Run-off from intensive farming pollutes the water table. But note also that Chloramine can register as ammonia, a "false positive" of sorts. As Chloramine it is toxic to the fish in itself, but once you use dechlorinator not designed for Chloramine, you end up with ammonia that poisons the fish like "regular" ammonia. As you can see, there's much value in just ignoring all of this and buying a water conditioner that tackles everything right out of the bottom, i.e., chlorine, Chloramine, ammonia, and copper.>
I regularly use Doc Wellfish Stress Coat and Jungle's Start Right, both say they remove harmful chemicals, but nothing of ammonia or copper..just chlorine and Chloramine..actually Stress Coat just says it removes harmful chemicals and not which ones...I've always used them without incident. I did order Prime when this problem became seriously out of hand, however. I have heard good things. Could you recommend anything?
<In the US, a popular brand for this is Ammo-Lock.>
My Brackish tanks salinity is at 1.010 so it's of little use in helping cycle my freshwater tropical tank, correct?
<Correct. You have more or less saltwater bacteria in there now, which is neat if you ever decide to set up a reef tank...>
I raised the salinity over weeks and weeks to ensure the correct bacteria would be present.
Have moved some fish to the 55G(Juveniles that were born in the 20G and are strong and active and very healthy), but have left "sick" fish(lethargic, white "mustache", sores, PopEye, etc..) in the 20G and done water changes as needed. I can't bolt the filter from the 20G on the 55G quite yet because I still need the bio filter from that filter on the 20G for the sick fish. I expect a quick recovery without all of the extra waste products from the extra bio-load. Could I maybe cut the bio sponge in half and use half in the 20G and half in the 55G to seed the filters on the 55G? Just trying to get creative and make sure everyone is happy. Any suggestions are welcome.
<Sounds like you're doing the right things. Go slow, move healthy fish to the bigger tank as soon as practical, use water changes to offset any problems with water quality across the next couple weeks, and everything should work out. Yes, you can cut sponges in half. A good thing to remember is that you can remove up to 50% of the mature media from a working filter without compromising its ability to clean aquarium water. Any new media you put back in that filter will very quickly, within days really, be fully colonised, and you shouldn't see any water quality problems. The live media you removed can seed a new filter or aquarium, and if you transfer enough live media this way, i.e., enough to half-fill the recipient filter on the new tank, you're basically instantly maturing it and can (should!) add some small, hardy fish to keep the filter bacteria well fed with ammonia. Anyway, off on my holiday tomorrow for the next week, but hope to hear good things when I return. Good luck, Neale.>

Outbreak Please Help! :( (Sick Bala Sharks and others; RMF, anything else?)<<No>> 4/14/2011
Hi, I currently have two tanks. One 55 gallon with two platys 4 silver dollars and 3 Bala sharks (two now),
<This tank is overstocked; at least, it will be once the Silver Dollars and Bala Sharks are anything above, say, 10 cm/4 inches in length. Bala Sharks in particular are sensitive fish that don't do well in small tanks.
Realistically, you need a tank above 100 gallons for these fish.>
I also had an albino rainbow in the same tank but have moved him to a separate 20 gallon due to aggression.
<Not uncommon; while Rainbow Sharks are considerably less aggressive than Red-Tail Black Sharks, they're still territorial, and can be very aggressive towards fish that have a similar shape, including Bala Sharks.>
The other tank is a 30 gallon tall with platys, guppies and tetras in it, it is a bit overcrowded but I am doing weekly partial changes to keep it operational. All water parameters appear to be ok.
<I do need the actual values rather than your interpretations of them.>
The 55 gallon rose suspicion three days ago when my Bala (he passed today) developed a white patch from the center of his body to his tail, his scales seemed to be falling off and there was redness near his tail and top fin.
<Sounds very much like Finrot. With Bala Sharks this can be caused by poor environmental quality generally, but physical damage through jumping into the hood or striking against objects in the tank is a very major risk.>
I started treating with Maracyn one and two day before yesterday and now there is one to two white spots on a couple of the fish appears to be Ick.
Can I treat for Ick while continuing treatment for columnaris or fungus at the same time?
<In theory, yes; but it does depend on the medication being used. As a broad piece of advice, using the Salt/Heat method for Whitespot is the safest approach, and works 100% reliably with Finrot medications. Once you start using Formalin and Copper-based medications, things become less predictable.>
The 30 gallon tank was ok (both have been set up for over a year) until I adopted a neighbors 4 platy's because I felt sorry for their living conditions. Now one of my mother guppies has white spots on her mouth tail and has mucusy feces, she appears to be red under the scales.
<Again, a fairly common reaction to poor environmental conditions. Since Platies require hard water while Bala Sharks need soft water, it's also impossible to discount water chemistry issues. When Platies are kept in soft water they are very prone to systemic bacterial infections of the sort likely causing problems here.>
My tetras seem fine as well as some of the guppies and platy's while others seem to be wasting.
<See above.>
I only noticed this today and have treated with 2 drops of quick cure per gallon of water because the tetras are in there I had it sitting around, I bought more Maracyn one and two today and a new bottle of Ick cure (Maracide) and am unsure what to do from here as I do not want to over medicate.
<Over-medicating my well be an issue, but medicating without determining precisely what the problems are will also lead to frustration.>
If you can help at all I would greatly appreciate it I love my fishies a lot and do not want to lose them. I can send pictures if you wish to see more. I am also going to check parameters again. Please Help
<Do review the needs of ALL your fish species, be objective about how well your tanks match these requirements, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: My fish are dying 1/9/11
More details...
Nitrite=0, nitrate=10, Ph=8.0, Alkaline=200, Hardness=25-75. Does this Ph seem too high?
<For some fishes yes... see the Net re the species you keep... their ranges>
Changed out about 15% of the water, replaced with water from outside faucet (not connected to water softener).
I thought I was doing better, but then there were some more fishy deaths.
Molly and two more cardinals. Saw more clues, though. Molly developed a deformed spine, twisted into shape of an "S". Cardinals were both covered with white hairy fuzz.
<Environmental... the decomposers are secondary>
I didn't see this on them when they were alive, so it could have formed after their death. The Silver Molly's tail has been rotting off...I assumed it was "fin rot", but today noticed that the fuzz is also covering the end of her body where tail was.
Fish store sold me Tetra Lifeguard All in One treatment. Looks like it cures just about everything.
I am a little concerned though about treating what may not be there. If it is a fungus, should I use something that is specific to fungus? From what I can tell, it doesn't look bacterial. Of course, I'm not much of an expert. if I were, I would have a lot more live fish right now. :-(
<... Let me try again to be more clear. Your root problem is a poor mix of species of different needs AND poor water quality>
I put in some aquarium salt
<... dismal. Read here:
they sold me, and put some stuff in to lower the Ph. Will these things help?
<Not likely; esp. w/o reading, understanding on your part... >
I feel like I'm just shotgunning this
<Oh, you are. Assuredly. >
with to many things without being sure any of it is the right thing to do.
Please help... :-(
<Only you can help yourself. Read where you've been referred to. Learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM, perhaps better still, invest in an overall general freshwater aquarium book. You NEED an overall understanding of this field... not to listen to any one/all's input and live your aquatic life in a reactionary sense. Understand? BobF>

Black calvus breathing really hard for air 03/19/2008 I bought a black calvus and it is breathing really hard for air. <... Mmm, all fishes (in fact all livestock) is damaged, stressed in shipping/moving... hence one part of the suggestion to quarantine, allow it to "rest up" before being placed in a community setting where it may be harassed, have to compete too hard for food...> I put him in well established tank, 80 degrees PH 7.9 nitrites and nitrates are in a normal parameters. <... need data, not subjective evaluations> The other cichlids he is with are doing fine and breathing normal. He just sits on the substrate doing nothing. He does not have any signs of disease no white spots or no cloudy eyes all fins are good he sits right side up no swaying or anything what do you think Troy <... Read more widely on the Net re fish physiology, husbandry, particularly the value of quarantine... there is very likely nothing "wrong" with this Cichlid than that it's new. Bob Fenner>

FW... Ich, Guppy dis., using WWM    2/13/08 Exactly 2 weeks and a day ago, I bought 4 fish from PetSmart. 2 Fancy Guppies (Male is, I don't know about female) and 2 Chinese Algae Eaters. <Do read re this fish, Gyrinocheilus... very mean... don't eat much algae...> I put all four fish in Wardley Essentials Ick Away in a 3 gallon tank <Mmm, too small, and why the medication?> for 3 days. At the end of the 3 days, <Not long enough to treat an actual case of ich...> the male guppy and C.A.E.'s were moved to the community tank (10 gallon; four 1 inch swordtails <Will need more room than this> and some sort of snail) The female was moved into a 1 gallon hospital tank and treated for Ick <If one fish has ich... they all, the system does...> with the medicine I mentioned. For 2 weeks and 1 day now, she doesn't get better or worse. Her top fin is clamped and her color has faded. She eats A LOT. <A good sign> All the fish food and frozen bloodworms and everything. She is also pregnant. She swims like normal, but breathes rapidly. She's always breathed fast, opening and closing her mouth. The swords don't breathe with their mouths open, but maybe guppies do. (These are my first guppies) I'm totally out of ideas. <I'd be reading on WWM re...> This doesn't look like any disease people have ever mentioned. They say that the fish stops eating. Mine doesn't. (Oh, and the edge of her tail looks like it was traced with something white. <... reads like a case of Columnaris... Chondrococcus...> (The edge of her tail is white)) When she swims all fins are erect, but when she drops down her top fin droops. I don't see any parasites on her body. I've also heard something about giving egg yolk to fish. (I can't find the website again.) Please help. Any help at all will be much appreciated. <Read, on WWM, the Net re... Bob Fenner>

Prophylactic treatment    1/10/07 Hello Crew, <Hey Eric, JustinN with you today.> Thanks for answering my past questions and thanks again for taking the time to read this one ( and hopefully answer it ). <Thanks for the kind words, we answer all that we receive (when our mail server troll doesn't consume them!)> I quarantine all new additions to my tank ( learned the hard way a couple of years back ) for a couple of weeks at the minimum. <Good to hear. We all learn the hard way at some point in time.> Initially I treat them prophylactically with a regimen recommended by a fellow aquarist who works in ichthyologic research. He recommends ( after I told him that I lost a batch of cardinal tetras in quarantine ) that I treat new additions prophylactically with the following regimen - Nitrofurazone ( I use Furan-2 as per instructions which are one tablet/10 gallons every other day for four days with a water change after each 2nd dose), followed by malachite green ( as per dosage on bottle ) for three treatments every other day. He also recommended ( especially for cardinals ) an anti-bacterial food and an initial bath in Praziquantel if available. I always like to get additional opinions before making a decision so what do you think of this regimen ? Thanks, Eric <This sounds like a very harsh regimen of unnecessary medications. I much prefer the idea of perhaps a quick Methylene blue dip en route to an extended quarantine (3-4 weeks) to watch for any signs of ill effects, and then only after diagnosis follow with proper treatment. It just seems to me you're forcing the new additions to harden up in potentially toxic conditions, surely making the task harder. After the rigors of shipping and changing of hands, these little guys could usually sure use some TLC (tender love and care) when they first reach you! Hope this helps you! -JustinN>

Hello, hello, my Tiger Barbs are going oh!    11/27/06 Dear fish experts please help,    <Will try>   I tried to take pics of my poor poor tiger barbs...but none turned out well enough to bother. My tank is a 40 gallon, I have to <two?> very old golden gouramis and 2 old silver dollars and two new ones, a Plecostomus, and I had 6 tiger barbs, I'm down to 4...   I'm new at the whole aquarium thing I didn't know about water changes, I wished I had done more research.. <How about now?> anyhow my tiger barbs were great happy and brought so much life to my tank. after having them for 3 days I wake up to see 2 of them with their mouths and little faces all red and puffy and swollen. No white fuzz or any fin or body problems. but their mouths in very bad shape over night!   so I ran immediately to the pet store and told them my fishes faces looked terrible like they were falling off, they the women told me to put malefix <... Melafix? The Melaleuca "tea" leaf extract product from AP> in the tank and this would fix them up <No> and to do a water change before and after 25%. <Good idea> I did this 3 days go by. None of them die and they are still trying very hard to eat and seem pretty active, but no change and I notice now 4 have this. so I call a couple pet stores ask when this will start to improve tell them the situation, and they say a week or two, and read the same thing on line. (though I still keep hearing that they should have some white fuzz on them, and they must have been fighting - which neither is the case), anyhow I get worried and they look so horrid, that I risk the worst one to stress and take him and some water into the pet store to test it and look at him.   I have one guy look at my poor fave fish and make a disgusted face and get the other guy. He says to add Maracyn 2 <Better "shot in the dark" here> to the tank and keep doing the Melafix (that all the MelaFix was doing is keeping it from spreading to other fish)... <Not even this> he didn't tell me what my fish had and I had to chase him to ask questions...   so disappointed and 25$ later I get my fish home and they didn't do a water test he said there was no point and it happened because I didn't do a water change soon enough...which he was so condescending I wanted to cry I feel bad enough...   well I get home return the very ill fish and add the 8 tabs of Maracyn like the guy said, and an hour later my fish died. I knew the stress may get him... <Yes>   but then within the next 2 hours another one died, and now I have another I'm sure will be dead soon.   I'm sorry, but my question is, what do I do to try and save my poor 4 remaining tiger barbs, and what the heck is this and what can I do to save them, I'm so at a loss! I don't want this to happen ever again to any fish I get (which will be a long time).   please any info, thx so much, I hope you return my email, I need answers. Tammy <Well... let's start somewhere toward a beginning here Tam... You need to know, supply information re your water quality... pH, ammonia and more are really the likely root cause of your problem here. Please take the time to read on WWM re... starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Preventive measures for new freshwater fish?  - 04/22/2006 Hi, <<Hi, Jon. Tom>> I've seen articles that suggest preventive measures that can be used with newly acquired saltwater fish to prevent transferring disease and parasites to the main tank (such as freshwater/chemical dips) but I haven't seen any suggestions for freshwater fish except to quarantine the fish in a separate tank and waiting to see if they become ill. Are there any preventive treatments that I should be using for my freshwater fish? <<Good question, Jon. Understand that many (most) SW varieties are captured in the wild while many FW fish are farm-bred, depending, of course, on the type of fish that we're talking about. (Not trying to "waffle" on you but it's the nature of the hobby. :)) Farm-bred fish (from reputable breeders) are less likely to carry the types of parasitic/bacterial infections that might be introduced into your aquarium from a 'natural' habitat. Additionally, breeders who routinely ship "sick" fish don't stay in business for long so it's incumbent upon them to maintain healthy stock. The best preventive treatment, in my opinion, is to quarantine all fish - SW and FW, alike - in the same conditions that you will have in the display tank. Now, this will require research on the part of the aquarist. You've done yours so I don't have to tell you that introducing Goldfish, for example, into a QT set up with Cichlid-type water parameters will lead to problems. Nothing, however, that I've ever come across regarding FW fish has conclusively shown a "preventive measure" that completely ensures a disease-free animal. The "upshot" here, Jon, is that quarantine for a good, two-week period for your FW fish, with close observation, is the best route to take. (Note that even the preventive measures you noted with SW fish don't relieve us of the responsibility to quarantine.)>> Thanks, Jon <<Any time. Tom>>

Urgent help needed with Ick problem! <Actually... much larger, wider issues> 7/20/05 Hey guys, I need some help.  I have a 39 gallon tank with two blue whale catfish, two iridescent sharks, one Bala shark and a plucko. <Heee, Pleco>   The problem is that the cycle is not completed, the tank is about a month old. <Ooops... what are these fish doing in a non-cycled system?> Last night I realized that one of the iridescent sharks had what I think is Ick.  He looks all white and slimy and his eyes are even white.  I went to the fish store and I got some stuff called "cycle" that is supposed to accelerate the process. <BioSpira would be better> I also go this medication called "Quick Cure". <Yikes, very toxic...> My questions are, first, the "Quick Cure" for Ick I bought said its wasn't safe for baby whales. Are my blue whale catfish safe then. I didn't use it yet... I'm afraid that the other fish in the tank will; get sick, and I'm afraid to use the medication because of the blue whale catfish.  What do I do now?  Thanks a whole lot! Stephanie <... you have a few profound problems here. First, the mix of fishes you list are not compatible... Please use WWM search tool (on the homepages, indices) to read re their compatibility, system needs... Second, your system is not cycled... Use WWM... next, you've set about actually poisoning them further with a product that is based on a biocide (formalin)... you can read about this on WWM as well.... I do wish we could start "at the beginning" and help you set up your system, wait... At this point I would ask your LFS to take back and have them treat your fishes... dump, bleach your tank and all the gear in it... let it sit a week with nothing in it, and start with means to cycle it w/o fish life... Read my friend. Bob Fenner>

Please help me! ... Five gallon mis-stocked, sick/mis-treated, feeling, not thinking, acting Hello. I recently bought a five gallon tank, a pink kissing gourami <Gets way too big for this size tank> , and several platies. The platies have died, I returned them, and my new ones are sick. I've separated the gourami and three newborn platies from the sick ones. One platy has cloud eye, one ich, and the other dropsy. <Please read re these diseases (use the search tool) on WWM> I've treated them with what I can get - Ick Away; contains malachite green. The other is some tablet B.S. called Fungus Clear. These fish have been quarantined for a few days, and are getting worse.  Also, will it be safe (after the fish die or get better) to put the gourami and baby plats back in the five gal. tank till the gourami gets bigger? <Not a good idea... not very compatible...> I need someone to help me, before I freak out and have a nervous break down over a group of fish! Thanks. <Study my friend... think... stop emoting. Bob Fenner>

Unexplained Death Hi sir/madam, Our female Luohan was about 3 years old. She was very healthy, laying her eggs routinely, good colouration, and eating normally. When BAM! We found her lying dead and white on the aquarium floor this evening. We don't know what happened. Why did she die suddenly and apparently without any external cause? She did not have any sores/ pop-eye/ infection. She was just normal and healthy as always. Hope you can help us find the answer to her sudden death. Thanks, Amina and Naseer. <There is no way for anyone to tell you what happened without any clues. But I would check for ammonia and nitrite in the water. I would do a large water change just in case. Don>

Fresh Water Problems WWM FAQ Crew wrote: Stop shouting! Please re-key and re-send your message NOT IN ALL CAPS!  I was not shouting. Do sharks, angelfish, swordtails and mollies or platys go in a tank together? < Depending on the type of sharks you have, the rest should go together ok. Check out your sharks at fishbase.org and see what they say.> Also, how long do you treat ich.? < Depending on the directions on the medication and the temperature I would treat ich for at least three days and maybe up to seven depending on the dosage.> If my sharks have Popeye will the rest get it? < Pop eye is an internal bacterial condition that is usually brought on by stress and waste pollution. I would recommend a 30% water change, vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter, prior to medicating with Metronidazole. It is usually not associated with being contagious but if the tank conditions are similar then you can assume others will get sick too.> I have a 55 gallon do you have to put salt in the aquarium? < Absolutely not. This is an old time medication that provides and additional slime coat on the fish but healthy fish don't need it.> I am having a lot of problems please help. < That is what we are here for.> I have a algae eater and am using ick medications now. Thanks <Cleaning the tank will help. After the ich is cured I would add Bio-Spira by Marineland to re-establish the good bacteria to break down the fish waste. I would generally recommend that you feed your fish only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Do a 30% water change once a week and either clean the filter of vacuum the gravel during the water change. By just doing these things will greatly improve your success rate with your aquarium. You are not alone and there are already numerous answers to questions like yours that already exist on the web site. Take a little time and search through the site for lots of helpful info.-Chuck> 

Parasites, Bacteria, Plants, Shrimp Hi guys, <Kevin> When I suspect that multiple freshwater fish have contracted both a parasite AND a bacteria, and they are in a live, well-planted aquarium that also contains delicate invertebrates (shrimp), what the heck do I do? <If there is some notion that you actually want to "treat" them with toxic medicines or engage in some sort of environmental manipulation (e.g. high temperature, salt use...) and the plants, invertebrates, fishes won't tolerate these conditions... separate them into treatment tanks> The standard approaches are blocked at every turn. The fish are too wily and too numerous to be caught and placed in a hospital tank. Most medications damage either plants or shrimp. And some medical approaches block each other. <... you may well have to drain the tank down... use two nets, have someone help you with capturing all... but we're getting ahead of ourselves here... what is the actual concern/complaint with your livestock's' health> I have hooked up a portable UV sterilizer to the tank and I have the temperature at around 86 degrees. That should help with the parasites. However, I don't know how to cure the bacteria without using a medication that the UV sterilizer will neutralize. <They (UVs) don't neutralize antibiotics, antimicrobials...> Of course, I don't HAVE to use the UV -- that's just a nice way to not harm the plants or the shrimp. Help! Kevmo <I would NOT add material for a perceived bacterial problem here... likely not needed, nor effectual... Look to improved water quality, time going by to effect a cure. Bob Fenner>  

Failure to QT/Mixing Meds Hello, The last few days I've been experiencing trouble with  my tank.  While I was researching I stumbled across your site. I would appreciate any help you can possibly give me. First some background on my tank:  I have a ten gallon tank with three male guppies, six females guppies, and a ghost shrimp.  All of the fish except two females and one male are relatively  new and were given to me by people in my dorm building so I could care for them over winter break.  I have both a carbon based filter and a air stone.  I do 20-25% water changes a week with bottled spring water and keep the tank at a temperature of roughly 78F. Now the problem. I noticed the other day that several of the "new" fish were flicking against the gravel, air piping, and several of the decor I have in the tank.  I wasn't sure what this was and it led me to further research on guppy illnesses and behavior.  Two days ago one of the fish suddenly developed what I took for a physical injury possibly from flicking against the filter intake or a sharp piece of gravel.  His tail seemed split.  I dismissed tail rot because I had not heard of tail rot doing this sort of damage to a tail.  Instead of being uneven or "eaten" a small strip of the tail was missing all the way to the base.  The fish died within 24 hours of this. The next day one of the females started showing similar signs,  only her tail was more typical of tail rot since it was uneven.  I quickly went out and got an "anti-fungus" (active ingredients: malachite green and Acriflavine hydrochloride). I started that treatment yesterday after removing the carbon cartridge from the filter. While I was at the pet store I noticed a medicine called "Anti-Fluke" that treats Gill Flukes which seemed to fit the fishes behavior. I picked up a bottle of that thinking after the treatment for the tail rot I would treat them for gill flukes.  However, today the fish (naturally a very light fish with dark almost black fins) with what I had assumed was Tail Rot is now covered in a dark substance.  Several of the other fish have white specks covering them.  The more I looked at the fish the more I noticed that almost every fish in the tank has these white spots. I'm afraid I panicked, pulled the ghost shrimp out of the tank, and treated the tank with the "Anti-Fluke" (active ingredients: dimethyl, hydroxy, and trichloromethyl phosphate). Is this tank plagued with several different problems or have I mis-diagnosed something?  Is there anything I can do to aid in the recovery of the fish?  And, also since the Anti-Fluke is toxic to the ghost shrimp is there anything I can do to the tank after treatment that will allow me to return him?  I have a small 2 gallon tank containing several guppy fry.  I haven't put the shrimp in it yet for fear that he might be carrying whatever is causing the problems in the other tank.  Is there anything I can do as "de-con" for him? Thanks for your time and help, Rachel <Hi Rachel, Don here. You need to do a bunch of water changes. 50% at a time. One right away, another in a few hours. Repeat tomorrow. Then put fresh carbon back in the filter and replace it the next day. Do a few more water changes. This should remove most of the brew in your tank. Never mix medicines! Drain the water with a siphoning gravel vac. This will remove the Ick parasites reproducing in your gravel. Read here for the proper use of salt for curing Ick. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 Take note of the life cycle and continue treatment for at least two weeks after the last spot drops. The shrimp can not host Ick, but there may be some on him or in the water within his shell. Best to keep him alone for a month. This will starve the Ick. As to adding him back to the treated tank, maybe. But some meds, copper based for example, will kill an invert years after use. Best to but him with the fry (after that 30 days in QT). Don't worry about the fin rot for now. The water changes and salt will help, maybe cure. I would also strongly suggest a test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The mix of med will have killed off your bio filtration. Continue with water changes to correct any spikes in ammonia or nitrite. Read here.   http://www.marineland.com/articles/1firstthirty.asp . In the future always QT any new additions for 30 days before adding them to your tank>  

Nuking Components Form An Infected System Hi guys! <Hi there! Scott F. here tonight> Got this nasty in my tank and eventually had to destroy my remaining stock.  The tank is 125 gallon fresh with undergravel filter, two mechanical filters and a wet/dry filter.  Please advise as to the best way to clean my tank to insure that my new fish do not become infected.  My husband was all for throwing some bleach in but I don't want to do something that will mess up my wet/dry filter for life. HELP! Kim <Actually, your husband is correct. I'd use some bleach, then rinse very, very thoroughly, with baking soda. Then, rinse again, fill the sump with Dechlor, and let it sit, Wash it thoroughly again. That should do the trick. Make sure that there is no residual chlorine smell before using again. That's what I'd do! Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

New tank, Bio-Spira, and fungus problem - II Thanks Gwen, I appreciate your help. I didn't use the old media because for the new tank because the old tanks were 5 gallon hex's with the carbon/floss cartridges and bio-wheels incorporated in the top. I can't really think of a way to use the old media's with the Fluval, unless I just suspend the whole filtration unit above the tank somehow. I vacuumed, and am now treating an ick outbreak on two of my fish, using aquarium salt. :^( Will do water changes, and try to bump the salt up to .3% over the next 24 hrs. I hate to use the chemical ick products as my filtration biology is on shaky ground as it is. The ick reared it's awful head today....had never seen it before this at all. Thanks! Any other ideas or suggestions would be very appreciated. I hope you all had a great weekend. Laura Swenson >>Ah, I understand! Sorry to hear about the ich, Laura...what a pain! Okay, I guess all you can do at this point is keep testing the water and performing the water changes necessary to keep your levels low. What is the tank temp? Since you have goldfish, I hesitate to advise raising the temperature, so I guess you will have to battle the ich with salt. Best of luck to you. -Gwen<<

White patches: ich, velvet, both, neither? Before I start, here's the background: Two 5-6" Oscars, one 5" Pleco, 39 g tank (which I now know is wayyyy too small and am diligently saving toward obtaining a 120 g tank ASAP).  Two HOB filters (Penguin 125 w/BioWheel & a Millennium 1000).  Biweekly 25-50% water changes depending on the amount of crud. Try to keep Ph no higher than 7.0 and ammonia is at a "safe" level according to the ammonia alert card in the tank (can those be trusted?).  I put in 1 Tbls of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons of water I add during water changes. I use tap water treated with aqua safe & try to get it as close to the tank temp as possible.  1 or 2x daily feedings of Oscar pellets, dried brine shrimp &/or occasional live earthworms (rinsed).   Please see the attached pics of my Lilo's spots and tell me if this looks more like ich or velvet or just injuries from fighting. <After reviewing the photo it looks like wounds from fighting> It doesn't look fluffy like velvet or pinpointy like ich.  Stitch has recently started ramming Lilo's sides and I noted a scale pop off yesterday.  Obviously I need to get a much bigger tank ASAP.  In the meantime, I put a plastic screen in to separate them, which unfortunately only makes the habitat smaller for each, but at least they aren't tormenting each other at the moment. The pic has a greenish tint because I added 3 tabs of Tank Buddies Fungus Clear (Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate) and per the instructions, took out the carbon cartridges from the filters. < You should have removed the BioWheel from the penguin filter too. Medications can kill the bacteria on the wheel sometimes.>   How soon before I can put them back in?  The box says do another treatment and 25% water change in four days if it hasn't cleared up. Does that mean the cartridges stay out for that long? I don't want to poison them!  They are each quite lethargic right now & didn't swim up to greet me at feeding but did each eat a red wiggler this morning.  Thanks in advance for your assistance. < Do a partial water change and try using a conditioner with some wound control in it. The Oscars will recover from the wounds since they don't look too serious and Oscars are pretty tough customers to begin with. I would not remedicate if the fungus does not reappear. The fungus likes to live on dead tissue. Watch you ammonia levels since the bacteria may have been harmed by the medication. Add the carbon back after 24 hours to clear things up and get you tank back on track.-Chuck>

QT Lesson Learned Crew: <Morning! Ryan with you> The recent post from a FW aquarist who did QT for the first time and dodged an ich outbreak in the main tank prompts me to share a sad story from my pre-WWM FW days. I had never done QT before. I bought some seemingly healthy Neons from the local Petco. Within two days of putting them into my display tank, they and all the other fish were covered with Ich. My precious Hatchetfish that I had had for three years died. The Neons survived. Petco-like all fish stores--uses a filtration system that links adjacent columns of tanks together. I went back and checked-sure enough, there was ich in one of the other tanks on that circuit. Of course, I got no refund, because it was only fish I already had that died, not the ones I bought. I seldom buy fish at that particular store anymore because there always seems to be sick fish (fresh or salt) and the employees seem oblivious. When I do buy fish from them, I check all of the linked tanks for diseased fish. I only buy if they all look good, and I always quarantine. Steve Allen. <A lesson that far too many learn the hard way...Thank you for sharing! Ryan>

- How Much Epsom Salt? - Hello there, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I have a 36G fresh water planted cichlid tank.  One of my male Cyprichromis leptosoma is looking a little weak (gaunt, thin, loss of color, not eating very well, etc.)..  Without jumping to conclusions if anything more serious is wrong, I thought I would give the tank a little pick-me-up with some Epsom salt as just a precaution and see if it helps.  The thing is, I have never added any kind of salt to my tank.  How much salt should I add to a 36 gallon fresh water tank? <One tablespoon per five gallons.> Thank you, Jay <Cheers, J -- >

Bogus Fish Medication/Advice If anyone can help me, then that would be you guys!   <OK... Banzai!!!!!!!!!!!!!!> I have a question for you guys, I have a 55 gallon planted tank.  135 watts of light, 125 and 170 penguin BioWheels and a hot magnum.  My PH is 6.4, my general hardness is 5 degrees and my nitrites and ammonia are zero.  I bought a couple of discuss a week and a half ago, and they both came down with what seems almost immediately upon introduction to the tank with some sort of ailment.   <and you've learned a very hard lesson that too many do... the need to quarantine all new fish in a separate hospital tank first. Never add new fish directly to a display... especially sensitive and disease prone species like discus. Please read through our articles and archives on how to properly run QT. 4 weeks minimum, please> They are a dark dark brown or black, with cloudy eyes and like a powdery covering of white on the body.   <many possibilities here... but they likely need to be treated as if for parasites. Formalin baths and salt in a bare-bottomed QT tank. You cannot medicate the main tank. It will run fallow while fish are in QT for a month. Bare bottomed QT with daily siphoning of tank bottom to reduce parasites and larvae needed> They will not eat, and initially I started treating them with Melafix, but it must have striped the oxygen from the tank and all of the fish were hanging at the top.   <it is a bogus product and at best cannot be used as a primary medicant. We get a tremendous amount of negative feedback on such holistic products... yet I cannot recall hearing one good comment for every 100 bad ones. Makes you wonder if the one percent success rate isn't just coincidence anyway> So the LFS recommended Maracyn (ungodly expensive) for treatment. <grossly ignorant if not irresponsible of your LFS. Maracyn is a gram positive antibiotic... less than 20% of all bacterial infections are gram positive, and of them only a tiny fraction respond to Maracyn ( which is common and outdated Erythromycin). To add insult to injury in your case... there is nothing to suggest that this infection is even remotely bacterial in nature. There is a pretty sweet profit margin on medications though :) > After three days the discus are still very dark in color, <Oh, ya...> inactive and not eating the white powdery film on the their bodies may have somewhat gone away, <sloughing of mucus... natural response> but their eyes are still cloudy.  Is there any way that I can coax them into eating, that would only help them heal faster, you would think.   <higher, stable temperatures with extremely vigorous aeration. Target 84-86F> If this is not the correct treatment for these fish, <no kidding... this wasn't even a treatment at all... you were given very poor advice> what would the proper treatment be?   <as per above... Formalin (Aquarium Products and several others brands available) and isolation in QT> I would really hate to lose these two fish, I have very high expectations of them.   <I suspect that they have high expectations for life too> There is no Plecos to harass them, and only peaceful smaller fish in the tank.  All of the other fish are perfectly normal and healthy.  I appreciate your time.  Thank you Dave McCorkell <Dave... please invest in a good diagnostic book on diseases (low end but very good: Handbook of Fish Diseases by Untergasser... and high end, the Noga reference). Also buy a good discus book. Worthwhile investments before you buy any more fishes. Best regards, Anthony>

Blindness in Sailfin Molly Hello Sir, <Howdy> Have enjoyed your articles immensely. I have a large male Sailfin Molly that recently became listless and would not show up for normal feedings. His respiration also appears rapid. For the past two weeks, he has been hovering pretty much motionless in upper level of the tank near a heater. At feeding time, when all other fish rush to the corner of the tank I normally feed in, he seems unaware of what is going on. <Not good signs> Once in awhile, he seems to get some sense of what is happening, and cautiously makes his way to the food, but by that time, there is little left for him, and he seems to have difficulty locating it. Feces have not been normal, I assume due to lack of food. <Maybe... but the non-feeding, symptomology of the same are secondary to what is causing your molly to act diffidently> Prior to this change in behavior, he was extremely active, rarely giving the female mollies in the tank a moments rest. He also dominated the floating feeding ring I use. I did have one female Platy die mysteriously during this period, but there seems to be no connection. After monitoring this fish for some period, I suspect he may be blind. He seems to bump into things in the tank, and again, has difficulty locating food. <Mmm... good descriptions, clues.> The tank is 55 gallon with 25 or so live plants. Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate all clear. ph is stable at 8.2 (I realize this is high, but it has not fluctuated. High ph of my water supply is the reason I have primarily went with livebearers) I conduct all water tests weekly or more frequently. I did change the tank lighting during this period. I replaced two 40 watt strip lights with a 130 watt CFL fixture. The other residents of this tank include: 3 female Sailfin Mollies, 5 Zebra Danios, 3 male Platys, and 3 female Platys. All appear healthy and are eating well. Fearing illness, I've increased aeration, increased frequency of water changes. (Generally 10 - 15 percent weekly, increased to 10 percent change 3 times this week), and have added 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 5 gl.  <All good changes, additions... what I would have done as well> I've not been able to detect any signs of parasites or bacterial infection on any of the fish, including the male Sailfin. I've avoided any chemical treatments as there doesn't appear to be anything to treat. <You are wise here> Since it appears that this fish will starve to death, I have set up a 5 gl hospital tank and moved him to it today. Once he has adjusted, I hope to get him to eat. He did spend the first hour or so in this tank bumping into the heater, filter tube, substrate etc. which would seem to confirm a diagnosis of blindness. Is blindness common, or am I missing something? Also, any recommendations on getting this Molly back into society would be greatly appreciated. ps I've avoided using salt in the large tank up to this point as I was unsure how it would affect the Danios or other non-livebearers that I would like to add. (Cory cats and Clown Loaches). I am planning to increase the salt level in the hospital tank to 1 Tbs / 5 gl over the next few days. Bob Jensen <The amounts of salts listed are no problem with the livestock you have, or your filter systems. Other than what you've done, are doing I suggest two things: adding liquid vitamins to the fish's foods (and the tank water once a week), and adding a bit of blanched vegetable food to their diet. A bit of boiled zucchini, chard or bit of sheet of Nori, Kombu (oriental food store/section) algae sheet might provide necessary nutritional input. This and/or do try another brand (Spectrum, HBH...) fish food on your next purchase. I do agree that considering your other fish life, water tests... that this is not likely a case of infectious or parasitic disease... most likely a nutritional deficiency-caused "blindness"... that is very likely reversible at this point. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

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