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FAQs About Dojos, Weatherfishes 2

Related Articles: Dojo Use in Ornamental Ponds, Loaches, A New Look At Loaches By Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:  Dojo/Weatherfishes 1, & FAQs on: Dojos/Weatherfishes Identification, Dojos/Weatherfishes Behavior, Dojos/Weatherfishes Compatibility, Dojos/Weatherfishes Stocking/Selection, Dojos/Weatherfishes Systems, Dojos/Weatherfishes Feeding, Dojos/Weatherfishes Health, Dojos/Weatherfishes Reproduction, & Loaches 1, Clownloaches, & Loach Identification, Loach Behavior, Loach Compatibility, Loach Selection, Loach Systems, Loach Feeding, Loach Disease, Loach Reproduction,

Dojo Loach Selling and blisters: Suggestions for care?       11/17/20
Hi there- You were so incredibly helpful last time, I thought I would try again. I have a scenario that I can't find any information on and I thought maybe you would have insight.
<Okay; will respond here and refer this to Neale Monks for his independent input>
This is the second time I've gotten a Dojo (weather) loach into the rescue with Edema (swelling) and blisters on their body.
<Mmm; yes. Unfortunately this situation is quite common. Something about Misgurnis in captive conditions>
The first had been in that state for a year, after jumping out of her tank and being mostly dry when she was placed back in the water. I had her for six months before I put her to sleep because she had swelling all throughout her body, and had trouble breathing and swimming. I tried everything from Epsom salt baths 2x a day (for about 3 weeks), to antibiotics for potential bacterial infections, with no change.
Recently, I got another Dojo in. He was sickly when I got him, but did not have the swelling. About a month after being in the tank with goldfish and Dojo's (150 g, 7 dojos, and about 10 adolescent Goldfish, 2x a week water changes and quad filtration), I noticed he was swollen starting from mid body to tail. I Quarantined him, along with all the rest of the loaches for a few days to make sure no one else was showing anything weird (dojo's in a 150 are a tad bit difficult to keep an eye on), but he is the only
one experiencing this.
I have been giving him some Epson salt baths, though not as frequently as with the other dojo, he shed his slime coat after the first bath, and then developed the blisters, which have not subsided. He is still active, and still eating- but the swelling has not changed and I'm not sure what to do for him. He's now been in QT for about a month with no real change to his edema. He also developed a small white patch on his head- not fuzzy or a wound- just a pigmentation change from what I can tell.
I apologize that the photos are not better- it's not a well-lit tank and he's a wiggly little guy- but hopefully, it's enough to provide some suggestions? I can get better photos if that would be helpful, but they would involve stressing him out a little bit, so I figured I would wait to see what you needed.
Andie Lamantia
The Fish Haus Aquatic Rescue
<I'll (simply) refer you to past replies (myself) as I have no new material to add here:
and the linked files above in this series.
Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner:
Re: Dojo Loach Selling and blisters: Suggestions for care?       11/17/20

Awesome! Thanks so much. I'm sorry I did not stumble on this myself!
<No worries Andie. BobF>
Dojo Loach Selling and blisters: Suggestions for care? /Neale       11/17/20

<<Like Bob, I've seen this a few times with Misgurnus species. It does seem to be environmental. One suggestion is that it's a form of the gas-bubble disease you sometimes see in marine fish. If you expose the fish to sudden changes in water temperature (such as adding too much icy cold water to the tank) the saturation of gases in the aquarium water change, and if those gases come out of solution within the fish, any bubbles that tend to move outwards become visible under the skin. There may be some mileage in this explanation, because Weather Loaches are habitual air-gulpers, so tend to have more air inside them than the average fish. They're also more prone to swimming rapidly up and down the tank, and while I can't imagine the pressure difference is very great, it may be enough to make a difference to
the solubility of any gases in their blood. Another suggestion that's perhaps easier to understand is these are mud-dwelling fish poorly adapted to gravelly substrates. Their skins are easily scratched, and rather as you see with Spiny Eels extremely commonly, secondary infections ensure. My problem with this explanation is that the bubbles are apparently under the epidermis, not abscesses or something working their way from the outside in. Either way though, optimising the environment and using antibiotics
against a secondary infection is likely your best move. I'd also warmly recommend Loaches.com as a website with a forum populated with people who are very into loaches. You might find someone there who can help with more certainty! Regards, Neale.>>

A. Anableps       4/29/18
Hello Crew! I have been reading your articles and FAQ's on the Four Eyed Fish because that is the last fish on my wish list.
<They're certainly interesting fish, if rather difficult to keep.>
I do not have any of these fish now, nor do I have an immediate plans to get them, but I'm hoping, after the end of the irrigation season, October 15th, to get 4 of them.
I always do as much research as necessary before I get a fish, so when I was reading one of the posts on your site about an owner of A. Anableps who keeps 4 (I believe juveniles) in a 55 gallon tank (and it seems to be
working for her), it made me curious about their growth rate. I have an open 55 gallon tank and wondered how long a tank of this size would work.
Would 4 of these fish thrive in that size tank for a year or two?
<The species was first bred in captivity at Stuttgart Zoo, where the zookeepers determined their lifespan to be around 7 years. That being the case, I'd expect them to reach more or less full size within a couple of years, no more. You've also got to remember these fish are not only big (supposedly up to 30 cm/12 inches in the wild, but 20 cm/8 inches is probably more realistic) but also high social, and need to be kept in groups of six or more specimens. They're skittish too, so a big aquarium ensures they don't feel cramped. I don't really see 55 gallons as suitable for anything more than juveniles for maybe the first year. You wouldn't want to keep four, but at least six, and ultimately they're going to need something broad and wide like a pond rather than a tank. Even a large Rubbermaid 'stock tank' container could be used successfully! Anableps couldn't care less about decor or even water depth, but what they do want is a shelf of some sort just below the waterline that they can 'beach' themselves on periodically. At the Stuttgart Zoo they even had a sun lamp over this, and the fish all but basked under the light, much like a turtle!
Of course they don't want to be completely out of the water, but the shelf needs to be positioned so their body is covered but their eyes poking out above the waterline. Given the right conditions these fish are not impossible to keep, as a bit of reading online will reveal, but they are very specific in their needs. If I had a 55 gallon tank lying about, and wanted to keep something unusual, I'd be looking at something like Bichirs that are undemanding but bizarre, Polypterus senegalus and Polypterus palmas being my particular favourites. Both are a manageable size (around 25 cm/10 inches) and placid, so while predatory, they can be kept with L-number catfish, large characins, etc. They're also easy to feed, happily taking a wide range of frozen foods, even good quality carnivore pellets.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A. Anableps; and Misgurnis       4/29/18

That's exactly the kind of information I needed to hear - thank you! I love Weather Loaches and had 7 of them in a 125 gallon tank for two years.
Although I enjoyed them, toward the end I started feeling guilty because even a tank that big seemed too small for them when they all started swimming together. And, like the Anableps, Weather Loaches are social and need others of their kind around them. This year I was lucky enough to find out that one of the people that works at the aquarium store where I get my supplies had put a pond in his backyard, and he was very excited when I offered him my 10 - 11 inch Loaches. I still love Weather Loaches, but experience has taught me they are more appropriate as a pond fish than an aquarium fish and going forward, I intend to respect that. Sounds like it's the same with Anableps, so I think I'll find something else for my 55 gallon.
Thanks again!
<Most welcome, and glad to help. I agree with your observations of Weather Loaches, which make great pets by the way, and should be more widely kept.
They can do well indoors if given enough space, and are probably less demanding than things like Plecs and Clown Loaches, both of which get much too big for the average aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish and dojo loaches; fdg. and sys.     6/3/17
Hello again,
<Hi there>
You guys were so helpful with my dwarf frogs, I thought I'd reach out and get the best advice on my goldfish and dojo loach tank. I currently have two small baby fantail goldfish and three small dojo loaches (two gold and one natural) in a 20 gallon long, but of course I'm looking for a big upgrade currently which should be done within a week or two as I'm aware that these guys get big.
<Ah, good>
I have two questions, first, how can I ensure my loaches are getting fed properly and enough?
<Just a cursory look/see at their "index of fitness"; roundish-contoured profile>

The goldfish seem to gobble everything up in seconds, and I don't see much left in the gravel bed.
Also, what substrate will be best for both of these fish to live happily?
<Something larger, flatter in the way of natural gravel... 3/8-1/4" D>

I have a deep sand substrate in my 55 gallon and would like to do something similar for the loaches, but worry about the goldfish ingesting sand and becoming impacted.
<You are wise here>
Speaking of deep sand substrates, (This is a very new arrangement for me) I've got lots of real plants, 5 young angelfish, four Cory cats, two Bristlenose Plecos, one dwarf Gourami, and one golden wonder killifish, with a few Nerite snails and ghost shrimp. I've read that the sand should be stirred to prevent pockets of harmful bacteria, but how can I do that without disturbing the roots?
<Best to gingerly vacuum about the areas outside of the plants weekly; perhaps doing one side of the tank at a time. Going forward, even better to "blind pot" the planted areas>
I'm using CaribSea sunset gold, which is pretty fine, would it compact too much for plant roots?
<Not too compact>
Sorry for the long list of questions, I'm quite new to this hobby. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
<A pleasure to share with you, conspire in your success. Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish and dojo loaches      6/3/17

Thank you for setting my mind at ease.
When I did the change in my 55 gallon (just yesterday, tank was established for 3-4 months with coarse black gravel) my striped angelfish (young superveil) seems to have dimmed his stripes considerably, as has my glitter angelfish. I'm thinking this is stress related. I tried to preserve my biological media by floating with my live plants in a bucket of aquarium water, and all fish were moved to a holding tank, nonetheless, I know the change was very stressful on everyone. I kept lights off the rest of the day (also night since it was late when I finished) and tested everything before re-adding my fish.
<Good moves>
I used Prime since I could only re-use about 20 gallons of old water. My lights have been off most of today as well, but they seem stressed still.
Is there anything else I can do to help them recover from such trauma?
<Mmm; just time going by really>
I also planned on small water changes daily as I got a very slight reading of ammonia, really just a barely yellow tint to the test tube, only noticeable against a pure white windowsill in the sun. Nitrites were 0. I've got a young rescued angel who had his fins chewed off at the pet store, I didn't think he'd survive at all but his fins have really grown in nicely and I'm super attached to him now, really can't stand to lose him. Thanks again!
Sorry to be a bother.
<Never a bother. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Goldfish and dojo loaches      6/3/17

Should I stir my deep (3 inch) sand? /if so, how often?
<I would use a gravel vacuum.... see the Net re or I can send a link>
And is it safe to not stir near plant roots?
<Already answered; yes. B>
Re: Goldfish and dojo loaches      6/3/17

Thank you, I missed that part of your answer somehow.
<Ahh; no worries. BobF>

Septicemic Golden Dojo?    /Bob's try       8/28/16
Happy Saturday Crew(aside from my loaches),
I recently introduced a group of 30 golden Dojos about a week ago. They are in a well filtered/established unheated 75g quarantine tank with airstones, circulation pump and fast growing floating plants like Salvinia and Nymphoides indica. NH3=0, NO2=0, NO3=15, temp is 74f.
Upon arrival all looked very good and active but had some ich, which cleared within a few days but by day 5 I noticed one dojo flashing. It was close to bed time so I just observed the tank and saw no other symptoms. By the next morning 6 loaches were near dead with redness. A few had bright red gills but most had very light red patches on body with zero fin rot.
I'm starting to see a few more with red and sometimes whites patches on body. My substrate is fairly immaculate. Any ideas whats causing this or treatments?
<Yes; either something/s that happened before you received these Dojos (thermal shock, ammonia burn et al) and/or something/s that are toxic in this system. Was there life in this tank before? Do you use chemical filtrants? Other materials on a regular basis; prophylactic treatments?>
I have noticed the loaches are hauling up on floating plants nearly out of water, could there be a irritant. I dropped a chop stick in the tank accidentally for 24hr the day before symptoms showed up but cant see how it could be related.
<Not the hashi... maybe the rock... I'd do a bio-assay (taking some water, and separately substrate, rock...) and test with a fish, simple invertebrate in other tanks... For the present Dojos, I'd place a unit of Chemipure in the filter flow path, and likely a pad of PolyFilter as well (to hopefully remove whatever is causing the issue here, spiff up water
quality so the remaining ones might recover. IF I were there day one, I would have raised the temperature five degrees F. and treated w/ a Furan compound, 25 mg/gal every three days with a water change of 25-50% between each treatment for three rep.s Bob Fenner, who has seen/lived breakdowns of Dojos several times.>
Septicemic Golden Dojo?   /Neale's go       8/28/16

Happy Saturday Crew (aside from my loaches),
<Hello Brandon!>
I recently introduced a group of 30 golden Dojos about a week ago. They are in a well filtered/established unheated 75g quarantine tank with airstones, circulation pump and fast growing floating plants like Salvinia and Nymphoides indica. NH3=0, NO2=0, NO3=15, temp is 74f.
Upon arrival all looked very good and active but had some ich, which cleared within a few days but by day 5 I noticed one dojo flashing. It was close to bed time so I just observed the tank and saw no other symptoms. By the next morning 6 loaches were near dead with redness. A few had bright red gills but most had very light red patches on body with zero fin rot.
I'm starting to see a few more with red and sometimes whites patches on body. My substrate is fairly immaculate. Any ideas whats causing this or treatments? I have noticed the loaches are hauling up on floating plants nearly out of water, could there be a irritant. I dropped a chop stick in the tank accidentally for 24hr the day before symptoms showed up but cant see how it could be related.
<Loaches don't always ship well. Using antibiotics can be a good way to pre-emptively treat some of the bacterial infections they bring with them from the fish farms. Tetracycline is often used with loaches for external red sores, and that'd be my first suggestion. I'd also review the tank for any potential sources of poisons, recalling that Weather/Dojo Loaches are obligate air-breathers, and consequently as likely to absorb airborne toxins as they are waterborne ones. So paint fumes are as much a risk as, say, copper-based medications. The fact the fish are 'flashing' suggests something in the water, whether chemical (ammonia, copper, etc.) or biological (Velvet is the classic cause of flashing, alongside Whitespot, though Whitespot is more immediately obvious whereas Velvet can sometimes attack the gills without being visible anywhere else). Review, and act accordingly. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Septicemic Golden Dojo?      8/28/16
Thanks for the reply back guys. This tank was cycled and had a large Syno in the tank that was keeping tank cycled but was removed 48hrs prior.
I did a 50% change this morning and 6 more causalities. What is odd, is they are developing symptoms so quickly. They've gone from outwardly looking healthy to very sickly in 24hrs.
<Again; and with more confidence, these fish were challenged ahead of your receiving them. ALL the fish in that batch are very likely suffering the same effects>
Can't think of any airborne pollutants or in tank pollutants for that matter. On top of all that I just purchased a 2nd hand 240g corner unit looked to be in mint condition and once home I fill tested it and its leaking like a sieve. Argh
<Yikes! When it rains....>
I do appreciate the feed back. I hope your weekend is better than mine. Thanks
<Welcome. DO try the Furan/Nitrofuran... it may save some of the Loaches.
Bob Fenner>

Dojo (Weather) Loach       8/12/16
<Why do we ask folks to limit file size? Yours, more than seven megs>
[image: Inline image 1]
I have 4 Dojo loaches in a 125 gallon tank. Last night, I saw that three of the four loaches had these funny white spots right in front of their eyes (the fish on the left). I'm sorry the picture is kind of fuzzy, but they were less than cooperative when I was trying to take it. I thought it might be ich, and sent my local aquarium store the picture.
<Not Ich>

They didn't think it was ich, but weren't sure what it was. All three fish have the exact same spots in the exact same place on their faces, one (the fish on the right in the picture) has nothing at all. The spots are symmetrical and are equal distance apart on each fish.
<Enlarged, mucusy pores of the lateralis system....>

Water parameters are perfect as this is a very well cycled tank (I test twice weekly with a master kit, and
do a 30% - 50% water change on a weekly basis).
<I'd limit this to 25%... water quality issues w/ source nowayears>

My substrate is pool filter sand,
I use RO/DI water with Seachem Equilibrium to restore mineral content and Stability to keep the biological filter charged.
These fish quite large (the largest is 9 & 5/8 inches), they're active, eating well, and very sociable -
just like they've always been. They're playful and continue to enjoy digging up all my plants. They give me no cause to think
there's anything wrong with them except for these spots. Have you ever seen or heard of this before?
<Yes... seasonally... some folks consider these a sort of nuptial tubercles sort of hormonal effect. Look this up on the Net>
Is it anything I should be concerned about?
<Mmm; no>
If it is something in the way of an illness, can you recommend a remedy?
Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
*Renee *
<I wouldn't be concerned here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dojo (Weather) Loach       8/12/16
Thank you!

Golden loach Finrot; no data      6/24/15
I have a large golden dojo loach I have had healthy for 5 months ....just today my loach got sick, it isn't active anymore and lays at the bottom doesn't eat. On its left side near its front fin its looks like his skin is rotting and now his fin is starting to rot.
<These issues w/ Misgurnis are quite common... Have you read what we have archived on this species on WWM?>
I also have a female Betta that has one large white splotch and isn't as active as it use to be. A black molly that looks like it is struggling to swim, early in the month the molly had ick, I had quarantined him and treated him, the ick went away so couple days after he cleared up i returned him back to the large community tank.
<Mmm; don't know that these fishes are a "community"... they like/live in very different water conditions... Which you state nothing re....>
Couple days later the loach and beta got sick. I have all three in a quarantine tank using Mardel quick cure
<Toxic... see WWM re the ingredients>
to treat them. Please help the beta and loach are my favorite.
<Need data re pH, hardness, use of salts, maintenance routine, measures of Nitrogen compounds here.... Bob Fenner>

Re: Golden loach Finrot; nonsense     6/26/15
Nitrate, nitrite, ammonia are stable, ph is balance
<.... need values, not subjective opinions>
for the loach, any medicine i can use?
<Keep reading.... where you were referred to last time.
RE: Golden loach Finrot... not a reader     6/27/15

Its gotten worse his whole body is getting it the Betta died, I can't give you numbers but the test strips I used said all water parameters were safe, the loach is a goner, couldn't find any medicine on your page or any quick enough, thank you for your help
<..... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/DojoHlthF.htm

Golden Dojo Loach, gen./rdg.     10/25/12
Hi. My Golden Dojo Loach has been happy and healthy until he/she got a crooked back. I asked you guys earlier why it's back was crooked and it was because the tank was too small and it had grown a deformity. I just upgraded my tank and got a 10 gallon aquarium.
<Mmm, better if this were larger...>
It's really nice I have to admit. He/she got more active after being put in the new tank. BUT bubbles have been coming out of him like he's passing gas or something. His back is bent and he just looks awkward. He also floats around a lot. I don't want him to be in pain or to die. I will legit cry if he does die. Any advice?
<Yes; read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/DojoSysF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

"Gold dojo" "old age", one of your web pages   12/3/09
Good Morning,
Searching Google with "gold dojo" "old age" produced your web page, among others, and it was the closest to what I need to ask.
I had 4 gold Dojo's for 3 years. We lost one to an Ich outbreak six months ago.
<Do understand Ick should never be fatal since it's so easy to cure, but most of the cures sold in pet stores are toxic at some level, and Loaches in particularly will be killed by copper- and formalin-based medications.
When treating loaches, only use the heat/salt method.>
We still have 2 in one 29 gal tank that are doing fine. The remaining Dojo in the other 29 gal tank is the one I am concerned about. It still swims around fat and happy, eating like a pig, but it now has 'depressions' just aft of it's top fin. It looks like 2 indentations on either side of the back of the top fin. It is smooth and symmetrical, runs a little more than an inch long overall, and tapers towards the tail. It almost looks like a very elongated Heart shape. The widest parts of the heart shape stick out horizontally about a 64th of an inch beyond the normal side of the dojo's body.
<Gosh! Had no idea people still measured things in 64ths of inches...
Anyway, in my terms, 0.4 mm. That doesn't sound like very much.>
There are no signs of bloody fins, parasites, holes, fish lice or fungus.
Other than the weird shape it looks great and eats everything it gets.
<Wouldn't worry about it then. Fin damage is not uncommon with burrowing fish, and can also be caused by fighting between specimens or interactions with territorial tankmates. Fin membranes have evolved to be quite
resilient, and given good conditions repair themselves without problems.
Only if you see early signs of Finrot, e.g., pink/white congestion along the edges, should you reach for the medicine bottle.>
I understand they can live for 10 years or more.
<Like a lot of coldwater fish, they can live a very long time.>
These Dojos were bought 4 years ago within 3 weeks of each other. They are all 4 to 5 inches long, with the problem dojo being right at 5 inches. The other 2 Dojos are still perfectly round from snout to tail. I kept them
separated because the 29 gal with the 2 Dojos has never had a problem.
Unfortunately, the first 29gal and the 37gal have been a textbook example of why you should "Always Quarantine new fish!"
<Yes indeed. Not always practical, but almost always a wise move.>
Thank you for any info you can provide.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: "gold dojo" "old age", one of your web pages  12/3/09
Hi Neale
Yes, yours was the most complete and interesting. Was reading the web for about an hour and a half on a half a dozen sites before I wrote to you.
<Nice to know this.>
[Re: the heat/salt method.] Thank you. Will keep that in mind in the future. We just purchased a 75 gal (283.5L) tank and will be consolidating the other tanks with the 75 gal at 78F to 79F (25.6C to 26.1C), 6.5 to 7Ph and the second remaining tank will be the 37 gal (139.9L) kept at 71F to 72F (21.7C to 22.2C), 6.5 to 7Ph. The 37 gal will house 5 Panda Garras, 6 green reticulated hillstream loaches, hopefully 3 healthy Gold Dojo's, a banjo cat, and a future small school of danios. What would be the best treatment for Ich if it happens again in the 37gal tank?
<The salt/heat method is always the best choice whenever loaches or other sensitive fish are being kept. Garras and Minnows should be fine with off-the-shelf medications, but things like catfish and loaches are best treated with salt/heat.>
[Gosh! Had no idea people still measured things in 64ths of inches...
Anyway, in my terms, 0.4 mm. That doesn't sound like very much.]
lol, It's small, but it definitely sticks out farther horizontally than the sides of the fish.
<I see.>
We had a school of Danios for most of the past 4 years. Watching them grow old one at a time with the bent spine, and then a 4 or 5 week lifespan after that, was what prompted my question with the Dojo. The elongated heart shape on the Dojo's back showed up in a similar timeframe. It doesn't seem to affect him yet, but it really creeps me out.
<Unless there's an obvious lump (cf. Fish Pox, Lymphocystis) or infection (cf. Finrot) then I can't see that this is obviously a disease. Loaches, and indeed bottom dwellers generally, may develop odd infections along the belly and those fins in contact with the substrate. This seems to be caused by an abrasive and/or dirty substrate.>
Thanks, Matt
<Happy to help, Neale.>

A continuing problem with sick dojo loach, and now my emerald green Cory cat has the same illness 9/22/09
I am still struggling with the problem Neale responded to in August.
<Oh dear.>
The latest news is one of my balloon belly mollies died last week, the one that gave birth a few weeks earlier.
<Too bad.>
I noticed that she was stuck to the filter and assumed she was dead, but when I unplugged it she swam away. Then shortly after I noticed she was swimming oddly, a little crooked.
<Physical damage, to the fins at least, perhaps more serious. Balloon Mollies are deformed right from the get-go, with a crooked spine and deformed swim bladder. They swim poorly even in the best of health, and Mollies generally are prone to poor health in freshwater tanks. A deformed, sensitive species...? No thanks -- I recommend against them.>
She would stay close to the bottom but swam up eagerly whenever it was feeding time. She got stuck on the filter a couple more times throughout a few days and then died. I wasn't sure this odd swimming was due to the filter mis-hap or if she was sick and weak before the first filter incident.
<Healthy fish don't get sucked into filters, so if you see a dead fish in a filter, it was moribund/dead before it got there.>
And four days ago my Cory cat (the only one) showed the same signs of illness as my dojo loach - red around the gill area and at the base of his fins. He was also swimming insanely and I saw rapid gill movement.
<Interesting that these are both bottom feeders. I wonder if there's something wrong with your substrate and/or water circulation. If this was me, I'd replace the substrate (or at least thoroughly clean in outside the tank, e.g., in a bucket using a garden hose) and then check the filter was shifting water along the bottom of the tank properly.>
I put him in the quarantine tank with the dojo loach and started Maracyn-2.
They have had four days of treatment now. The Cory cat developed mouth rot too, just like the dojo did. And yesterday I noticed a whitish lump on his underside. I'm going to try to attach a picture at the bottom of this e-mail somehow (I have not been successful ever at resizing pictures).
<Again, the mouth and the belly (and the whiskers, so check those) are in contact with the substrate. A dirty substrate promotes (though doesn't cause) bacterial infections by producing the conditions those bacteria prefer. One reason I like sand rather than gravel is that it's less likely to get dirty, and also less likely to physically abrade sore or sensitive tissues. The addition of Malayan Livebearing Snails to tanks with a sandy substrate is a good way to keep the sand clean and well oxygenated.>
I figured that since the dojo loach, although healed from mouth rot, was still looking a little pinkish all this time, that this bacterial infection was still lingering (or incurable and I should pick up some clove oil soon as you had suggested in the first place) and it couldn't hurt to do another treatment. The hole in his head hasn't gotten any bigger and looks like it is either just staying put or healing at a slow rate.
And here is all of the info about my tank:
(this is from my records from starting it up, figured I'd give you all the info - sorry if it's way too much)
55 gallons
first set up February 28th 2009 - I tried to do a fishless cycle and thought I was successful, though now I wonder.
on this set-up day I filled the tank, used Prime, poured some of my established 10 gallon tank water into the new tank, added purchased bacteria, added a tank decoration from the 10 gallon tank.
Day 6, I tested the water
GH 180
KH 120
PH 7.5
Day 7 added water softener pouch for 7 hours and tested:
GH 120 (test strips hard to read, but wasn't the solid 180 color it was on Day 6)
KH 120/180 (test strips hard to read)
PH 6.5
<Why the water softener? Why are you lowering the pH? Let's be clear: a pH of 7.5 is ideal for most aquarium fish. Multiple reasons, but the important ones are [a] the filter bacteria prefer a basic pH, and [b] hard, alkaline water is less likely to experience pH variation than soft, acid water.
Unless you're breeding fish that specifically need soft water, it's best to leave hard, alkaline water as it is.>
Added the established 10 gallon tank filter, plus another tank decoration (from the 10gallon tank)
added two of my zebra Danios
added more purchased bacteria
<The bacteria are in the system; adding more largely pointless. I'd sooner add a big clump of floating plants such as Indian Ferns. These carry lots of helpful bacteria on their roots, so help cycle tanks, and more importantly, suck up ammonia and nitrite as they grow.>
Day 8 tested water:
GH 120 ? (test strips hard to read)
KH 40 ? (test strips hard to read)
PH 6
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
<Again, we have this dropping pH, likely because your carbonate hardness (KH) is FAR TOO LOW for a freshwater community. Remember, Mollies MUST have hard, basic water, at least 15 degrees dH (~250 mg/l calcium carbonate equivalent), and ideally much more. There are VERY few community fish that actually demand soft water, and you certainly wouldn't keep them with Mollies.
Day 11
ammonia read > .25
<No surprise. When pH gets below 7, biological filters start to work significantly less efficiently, and below pH 6, the bacteria don't work at all.>
Day 13
ammonia read .25 or less
GH 30
KH 40
PH 6
Nitrite 0
Nitrate the test strip was faintly pink, but basically zero
Day 15
ammonia .25
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
PH 6.5
KH 180
GH 120
did 8 gallon water change, added 55 mL bacteria
<Still got ammonia; the pH is low, the filter crashed, and that's likely one key factor here.>
Day 17
ammonia .25
Day 20
ammonia <.25
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
PH 8
KK 40
GH 120
added three red serpae tetras (from my 10 gallon tank)
<Why adding fish?>
Day 23 and Day 24
ammonia 0
Day 25
had water tested at store, tested fine. purchased 3 dwarf gouramis/added to tank
<Wouldn't touch these fish with a bargepole, and in an unstable tank, their lifespan isn't likely very high. Golden rule: don't add fish while you're still trying to keep others alive.>
added 55 mL bacteria
Day 27
ammonia 0
Day 36
Nitrite and Nitrate both at 0
Day 38
added 3 Rasbora tetras, changed Right filter
Day 42
8 gallon water change
Day 61
8 gallon water change
Day 67
8 gallon water change, changed Left filter this is about where I stopped recording. I tested during this time and everything was at zero. I Figured the tank was cycled.
My tests today read:
PH 7
Nitrate 0
Nitrite 0
Ammonia 0
ALK KH 180
Hardness GH 150
<Better. But still, let's get the pH to 7.5, if necessary by adding suitable amounts of Rift Valley cichlid salt mix; I'd say about 1/4th to 1/3rd the dose recommended for Rift Valley tanks should be fine. Don't alter the pH directly; just change the carbonate hardness, and the pH will follow, and in a stable way.>
I use an AquaTech filter - I had made my own filter cartridges for a few times, using the white fluffy filter material (it was the only kind the pest store sold) and charcoal, using one of the plastic pieces from inside a store-bought filter on the inside. I stopped doing this in case this is why the fish are getting sick.
I feed with:
TetraMin Tropical Tablets, "the rich mix for bottom feeders"
Omega One Natural Protein Formula shrimp pellets
Omega One Super Color Flakes (natural protein formula)
Tetra Min Tropical Flakes
I use Seachem Prime with every water change, adding it to the buckets before pouring into the tank
temp 76-78 F
I currently have in there:
4 Rasboras
2 black neon tetras
3 cardinal tetras
1 balloon molly
1 Pleco
all seem fine, except the Pleco goes a little pale in patches once in a while, but this was happening from the beginning and I thought it might be normal for them when they were resting (I had never had one before).
<The patches are mucous, and often a reaction to water quality problems.>
I think in my original email to you (or it is in the Disease Emergency post)
I mentioned that there were to mollies (or platies, I can't tell the difference) that I introduced a few weeks before the Dojos got sick. One of them died about a week after, and the other one died suddenly a week after that. When I scooped it out of the tank I saw that it had a bright red circle about 4mms wide on its side. This is what leads me to think that it was this fish that introduced disease to my tank, but I'm obviously no expert.
<Well, I am an expert, and I'll tell you if you keep lowering the pH like this, any livebearers you add will die. End of story. For optimal results, aim for moderately hard, moderately basic conditions: pH 7.5, 10-20 degrees dH (that's about 175 to 350 mg/l calcium carbonate equivalent). That will keep livebearers happy, while remaining acceptable to a wide range of community fish. Yes, Neons and Rasboras and the like come from soft water habitats, but they don't share them with Mollies or Platies! So you have to use your noodle a bit here, and figure out which species are most sensitive to water chemistry issues (livebearers) and act accordingly.>
The first dojo loach that died had those red spots, but smaller and not as bright, all over his body when he died.
<Still a bad sign.>
At least the Cory cat's getting sick has given the dojo loach some welcomed company in the quarantine tank. He did perk up to see his old friend and they hang out together most of the time now.
Of course I would love to save the two sick fish, but I'm even more concerned about the future of my main tank. There must be something wrong with it, especially since my Cory cat is sick with the same symptoms. Where do I go from here?
<See above.>
Any hope for the sick fish or is it time to let them go? the Cory cat is still quite active, and the dojo loach isn't acting like he is anywhere near death either.
<Likely can, will recover given good conditions and right medications.>
Thank you so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Pictures below - the dojo loach is looking good except for pinkish hue around gills and back end of body. Tough to see in the picture though.
You can see the hole in his head though - I hope it isn't a terrible case.
It seems to be staying put.
<Nothing came through. Please be sure to attach ~500 kB images to your e-mail. Images that are too big cause problems for us.>

re: a continuing problem with sick dojo loach, and now my emerald green Cory cat has the same illness  09/24/09
Thank you for your reply - I have some questions and explanations and have tried to make them easy for you to find by using lines to separate my words from the original e-mail.
I wasn't able to get the resized pictures to attach to this e-mail and hope that it is acceptable that I cut and pasted them at the bottom.
<Nothing came through. Cutting and pasting images into e-mails doesn't always work. Do use the "attach" button on whatever your e-mail program is.>
I have sand substrate. It is children's play sand. I was told by a fish store employee that it is great because it is a more natural color and less expensive than the marketed kind for aquariums.
<Provided the sand is [a] smooth and [b] chemically inert, you can use whatever you want. Sand comes in two grades, "sharp" and "smooth", and sharp sand will damage your fish. As for the chemistry, the sand needs to be lime-free. Personally, I use smooth silica sand from garden centres as a 100% safe alternative. Play sand, pool filter sand, etc. may be fine, but there are no guarantees. The play sand from one shop may be different from another, so I can't give you any assurances. If the sand feels smooth, that's good, and if it doesn't react with acid (e.g., vinegar) that's good too.>
After Googling and reading the same online, I went ahead with this. I washed it thoroughly, in small quantities, by running water and stirring it until the water was nearly clear. Was this a mistake to use this kind of sand and do you still believe I need to change it or wash it again?
<Provided the sand is safe to use for the reasons stated above, cleaning it is more a visual thing. Most folks find that the silt in bags of sand makes their tanks murky for a few days, but nothing a water change and a good, strong filter won't fix. Replace/clean the mechanical filter media after the first week because that's where most of the silt ends up/>
and I am soooooo uncomfortable with the idea of introducing snails into my tank again, as I had way too many in my 10 gallon at one point after one hitching a ride in with a fresh plant.
<Snails convert organic matter into baby snails. If you have too many, then you have other problems.>
This is also why I am super hesitant to ever bring fresh plants into my tank again.
<Non sequitur. There are plenty of ways to kill snails on plants before you put them in your aquarium. Snail-killing potions are sold in aquarium shops and work well as "dips".>
I had "pond snails" I believe.
<Typically Physa and Planorbis spp.>
Are they the same as Malayan Livebearing Snails?
<No, these are Melanoides spp.>
I will introduce the snails if you really think I should though...
<I have Melanoides snails in all my tanks. I find the good they do -- as substrate cleaners and aerators -- easily outweighs their nuisance value.
While they do breed quickly, a combination of physical removal, predators, and simply ignoring them works a treat. Clea helena, the Assassin Snail, is a great snail population limiter.>=
Well, I freaked out that my 55 gallon tank had harder water than my established 10 gallon tank and it was harder than the water straight from the tap. This confused me and figured I should get the water the same hardness as the established 10 gallon was. So I was trying to soften it just a bit, not lower the pH. I had heard so much about not being worried about or try changing the pH that I didn't think it a big problem that the pH changed (and figured it would level out with water changes). Lesson learned.
Why adding fish? Because I thought that adding the three fish (transferring from the established 10 gallon tank) would help the cycle to continue at a safe rate. I was more paying attention to the ammonia/nitrate/nitrite tests than the other areas.
<Ah, I see. Generally, so long as a tank has a few fish in there, the cycling process will continue happily enough. Adding extra fish is of marginal value, unless you plan to *dramatically* increase the population of fish in there at some point. For example, if you cycled with a couple of Guppies, and then added an adult Oscar, that would probably be bad!>
I didn't realize I was trying to keep others alive at this point...just thought I was helping the bacteria multiply at a safe rate for the fish.
They did not last super long (and they were so darn territorial with each other it was annoying to have them in there, too).
<Yes, many schooling fish stop being schooling fish when in groups of less than six, and in some cases, they become outright nasty.>
I am having trouble finding Rift Valley cichlid salt mix here. One store sells "cichlid lake salt",
<That's the stuff!>
and she told me that all of their salts will adjust the pH, not the carbonate hardness.
<She's wrong. By definition, these salts raise the pH precisely because they're raising the carbonate hardness. It's the carbonate hardness that creates the "stuff" that makes the water basic. It's the carbonate hardness that "mops up" the acidity.>
If I did more frequent water changes for a while, will that help??
<Up to a point, yes, the more water changes you do, the less background acidification becomes an issue. But this gets tedious, very quickly, so think about what you're trying to achieve here: an easy hobby that involves nothing more than daily feeding and water changes every week or two.>
I hope that doesn't sound like a stupid question. Or is this something that I would need to add to my tank on a fairly regular basis? (if I can find it - I suppose I can order it online somewhere)
<Do read here:
There's a recipe for making your own Rift Valley Cichlid Salt Mix for pennies a time. It's easy to do. For a regular community tank -- as opposed to a Rift Valley cichlid aquarium -- you'd use a smaller dose than described there; try reducing the amounts to one-fourth to one-third the amounts listed.>
I'm worried about this fish if he is reacting to water problems and am so frustrated I can't find the salt you mentioned. I noticed today that he was pale on about half of his body, and then when I turned the light on, most of the rest of his body went pale. I checked back later and he is dark as could be....tried to take a picture when he was pale but he had disappeared when I returned with the camera.
<Oh. For what it's worth, Plecs are quite tough fish, and given good conditions, generally recover from stress quickly.>
I'm sorry and feel stupid saying this - but I don't know what 10-20 degrees dH or the equivalent you mentioned means.
<Simply being precise. The other way of saying this: on your test kit, there'll be a scale of some sort, running from Soft to Moderately Soft to Moderately Hard to Hard to Very Hard, or words to that effect. For Mollies, the water MUST be Hard to Very Hard. For community fish, Moderately Soft to Hard is generally fine. In other words, Mollies only mix well with those community fish tolerant of "Hard" water, i.e., things like Platies and Rainbowfish, but not so much Rasboras or Cardinal Tetras. You have to pick and choose tankmates for Mollies very carefully.>
Possibly this is information on the comparison card for the liquid test tube version of the tests (and not test strips)? Aside from borrowing a friend's test tube testing kit for the last test I did to get you accurate info, I haven't used those for anything but ammonia (but plan to purchase a kit soon).
<I see.>
Would this Maracyn two be the right medication?
<Either than, or regular Maracyn should work. They treat different bacteria, on the average, people find trying Maracyn first works best, and only use Maracyn 2 if that doesn't work. But your own mileage may vary.>
This poor loach is now enduring a third treatment since this all started, and although he seems to be doing okay, he still has pink/red at the base of his side fins and a pinkish tone to his gill area. He looked this way when I put him back in the main tank and got sick again so I of course don't want to put him back until he's 100%. It seems that his recovery has plateaued and I don't know what to do about this. The Cory cat seems to be responding well to treatment thus far, but still looks red/pink and I assume he will have the same plateau.
okay, here is what I think the right sizes for you to see. The dojo picture doesn't look all that clear, but anywhere where it looks darker/pinkish is the pink that I am talking about that isn't going away.
I am cut and pasting them into the email and I hope this works.
<Didn't. If all else fails, try some free image hosting service such as Flickr, and include the link in your message.>
Thanks so much for your time.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: a continuing problem with sick dojo loach, and now my emerald green Cory cat has the same illness  9/25/09
A link to the pictures! what a smart idea - here it is.
<I think you're meant to send an invitation to view this online album. As it is, I had to join Snapfish. Normally, we don't have time to go through hoops for this sort of thing. But it's a nice sunny morning here in England, so I joined up. Anyway, your fish don't appear to be especially "sick" as such, though the Corydoras looks a little underweight (if you can see the belly, it's concave, which isn't a good sign). My feeling is that these fish may have a mild bacterial infection, but it's more than likely we're talking about an environmental reaction. Variation in pH, a dirty substrate, marginal water quality may all be issues. In particular, take the time to review tank maintenance. Sand needs to be kept clean, and the best way to ensure this is to check there's a good flow of water along the bottom of the tank. Use a turkey baster to pipette out detritus between water changes. Feed your catfish and loaches their own food, ideally at night, so that they're not subsisting on leftovers; a good all-around food for both species would be Hikari Algae Wafers.>
Thanks again for your help. I have a few final questions
<Fire away.>
If my dojo loach continues to stay pinkish, what do I do? The two fish have had 7 days of powder packet treatments of Maracyn-two thus far. The instructions say to continue treatment until signs of illness are gone.
This could be a while if ever and I can't imagine the medicine is something good long term.
<I can't see anything obviously wrong with this Weather Loach. They can appear a little pink when the light shines through the thinner parts of their body, and if there's something amiss with the environment, they may appear irritated. But essentially these are hardy fish, provided they are maintained at below 25 degrees C (77 F). The same for Corydoras, and in fact I'd keep both species at the cooler end of the range, 22-24 C being ideal.>
And, do you suppose this sickness came about more because of the pH being below 7.5 or because there is some disease living in my tank that I still need to deal with?
<pH itself is rarely something that causes sickness unless it [a] fluctuates wildly within a few hours or [b] is outside the tolerances of a particular species. Loaches and Corydoras are fine between pH 6 to 8, so the value itself isn't an issue. But if exposed to pH that varies a lot, that can stress them. One key issue often overlooked is the toxicity of ammonia at different pH levels. In the acidic range, ammonia is less toxic than in the basic range, so if the pH goes from 6.5 to 7.5, while the pH change itself might be harmless, the sudden increase in toxicity of a small amount of ammonia in the system can cause severe stress.>
Can I treat the main tank with anything to make sure there isn't anything lurking in there waiting to cause more trouble?
<Right now, I'd finish the cause of meds you're on, and then concentrate on providing good, stable water conditions.>
How long would you to treat these sick fish before giving up?
<They honestly don't look that sick to me. Perhaps it's these photos?>
Until the hole in his head completely heals (how long does that take, anyway)?
<Should heal within a few weeks, should conditions allow.>
Until he is no longer pink? Both? The loach has been sick/pink for about six weeks now, poor guy.
<Are you sure it's simply not his normal colouration? Unlike Finrot, the classic bacterial infection, the fins on this fish are intact. If he had Finrot, I'd expect ragged fins.>
He doesn't look miserable now, at least, but I sure don't want to keep him in the 10 gallon hospital tank forever. The last time I thought he looked good to go and I put him back in the main tank, he was sick within four days and back in the hospital tank (and with a hole in his head appearing a few days after that).
<I see.>
I dropped some of the sand in a bowl of vinegar and saw no reaction. I am hopeful then that it is not the substrate that caused this problem and that I don't need to mess with it.
I have a hard time killing snails (or I should say I just can't do it) and will need to look into this Assassin snail if I go this route. Though I am picturing the slowest predator/pray chase I've ever seen, ha ha.
<Prepare to be surprised! When the Assassin Snails kick into gear, they're remarkably brisk.>
<Cheers, Neale>

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