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FAQs on Freshwater Environmental Disease: Mis-Stocking; Behavioral and/or Environmental Incompatibilities 

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater DiseasesChoose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: Environmental Disease 1, Environmental Disease 2, Environmental Disease 3, Environmental Disease 4, Environmental Disease 5, Environmental Disease 6, Environmental Disease 7, Mis-stocking issues (incompatibility behaviorally and/or environmentally), & Cycling Trouble-Fixing, & Toxic Situations, Popeye/Exophthalmia, Nutritional Disease, Aquarium Maintenance, Establishing Nutrient CyclingAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

I need some major help. Neale, your input too please. FW iatrogenic mess; mis-stkg., soap...     3/24/16
OK my daughters tank is having some major issues. Here is the full background of the tank. We had an awesome setup. We had 3 small goldfish ( won at the fair) and 2 neon tetras in a 10 g tank
<... these fish species are incompatible. The GF requiring hard, alkaline,
coolish water; the Neons the opposite... and ten gallons is too small for
even one comet goldfish in time. Read here:

and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/neontetras.htm >
fed every day and 50% water changed every few months
<Better by far to change out about a quarter every week. Read here:

and no algae problems. The only thing i did was weekly add 2 drops of melaleuca.
<Worse than worthless. See WWM re MelaFix>

Well she purchased fish from PetSmart which were ill with ick and God knows what else and in a matter of 2 days every fish we had was dead.
So I took everything out cleaned it with Dawn dish soap
<No!!! Soaps, detergents; surfactants are toxic to aquatic life; and very hard to remove entirely>

and bleach, baked everything in the oven for 4-6 hours to kill any thing possibly left. What I could not bake got thrown out and replaced except for the tank it's self. We set the tank back up with 3 neon tetras 2 glow light tetras and a black skirt tetra from a high end fish shop. $8 per neon tetra!!!!
Water is taken to the high end pet shop weekly and I have Been told my water is perfect. The new setup is 5 weeks Old. Well 4 days ago at 2 am l get a call from my neighbor to come help their tank was leaking. By the time I got there we were scooping fish off the floor!!!!! We were able to save 1 large fancy goldfish 2 molly and 1 sucker fish. The sucker fish lasted 3 days in my tank the others are swimming happily around. Yes I know my setup is to small for the tetras and the rescued fish but it's better than flushing. I plan on upgrading soon. ( in the next 2 weeks)
<The goldfish elsewhere... with the Molly>
Here is the deal I have. I just had my water tested today and was told it was perfect ( never given any number)
<This is not data of use, but a subjective evaluation. Need values, units>
but when I come home there are very small fuzzy white spots on the gold fishes tail and on the black skirt tetras tail. The spots are mainly on the edges but are peppered threw out the tail. It does not look like ick the spots are to large and almost look fuzzy. Could it be fin rot? Or some other illness?
<Yes... but all likely stemming from water quality issues. I'd be utilizing activated carbon; likely other chemical filtrants here... to remove any remnants of soap residue>
I could not find anything that looks like what's on the fish. And believe it or/not they won't stay still for me to take their picture. I need to know what's the best way to treat this issue.
<The best way... Likely for you to ask about for someone who has useful knowledge to come by, visit with you, go over the basics of aquarium keeping; advise you on stocking, purchasing of compatible livestock, maintenance... iatrogenic problems you're causing yourself. You're starting "too far back" as it is; killing your livestock through simple mistakes. Are you a reader? Please see, and look for (Amazon, Bookfinder...) some works suggested by Neale here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bksfwbrneale.htm>
The Molly's and smaller tetras are not showing any signs.
<They'll all soon be gone if you don't read, act soon. Bob Fenner>
I need some major help. /Neale         3/25/16

OK my daughters tank is having some major issues. Here is the full background of the tank. We had an awesome setup. We had 3 small goldfish (won at the fair) and 2 neon tetras in a 10g tank fed every day and 50% water changed every few months and no algae problems.
<As Bob has mentioned, not really an "awesome" set up in the long term. Goldfish can, will eat bite-sized fish like Neons. They're inept predators, but in the confines of a small aquarium, it's pretty much shooting fish in a barrel! Next up, Neons need rather different water conditions. Neons want low-end tropical, soft, acidic water. Goldfish want room temperature, hard, alkaline water. Can I direct you to some reading, please?
Neons are a bit of a waste of time really because they're so badly plagued with bacterial and protozoan infections. In all honesty I'd not recommend them as beginner's fish. If you have soft/acidic water, Cardinals are a much less risky choice, though usually two or three times the price. That actually reflects the fact Neons aren't cared for much on fish farms, and mass produced with very little effort to stop diseases spreading between them.>
The only thing i did was weekly add 2 drops of melaleuca.

Well she purchased fish from PetSmart which were ill with ick and God knows what else and in a matter of 2 days every fish we had was dead. So I took everything out cleaned it with Dawn dish soap and bleach, baked everything
in the oven for 4-6 hours to kill any thing possibly left. What I could not bake got thrown out and replaced except for the tank it's self.
We set the tank back up with 3 neon tetras 2 glow light tetras and a black skirt tetra from a high end fish shop. $8 per neon tetra!!!!
<See above; also do review species prior to purchase. All tetras are best in groups of at least 5-6 specimens. Glowlights are rather timid, and though better than Neons on the health front, they do need soft/acidic conditions, not to mention subdued lighting. Otherwise they don't last long. Black Skirt Tetras are pretty tough, but they're fin-nippers if bored, and a singleton will certainly qualify as that. Half a dozen, on the other hand, will need more space than 10 gallons; more like 20-30 gallons. An excellent choice for life alongside Corydoras and Danios, which would
both make good beginner's fishes if you had a bit more space.>
Water is taken to the high end pet shop weekly and I have Been told my water is perfect.
<"Beep, beep... does not compute!"
Perfect for Goldfish is not the same as perfect for Neons, so something is wrong here. If you can tell us some numbers from your/their test kits, that'd be a heck of a lot more useful than their subjective interpretations. Do bear in mind retailers are in the business of selling fish and equipment, rather than keeping fish alive on nothing more the food and water changes! So without being cynical, while there are some excellent retailers who are hobbyists as well, many of the clerks in "big box" pet shops have only the vaguest understanding of the hobby, but a much better training in customer relations and sales.>
The new setup is 5 weeks Old. Well 4 days ago at 2 am l get a call from my neighbor to come help their tank was leaking. By the time I got there we were scooping fish off the floor!!!!! We were able to save 1 large fancy
goldfish 2 molly and 1 sucker fish. The sucker fish lasted 3 days in my tank the others are swimming happily around.
<Thanks for being able to help, and I'm glad at least some fish survived.>
Yes I know my setup is to small for the tetras and the rescued fish but it's better than flushing.
<Likely so.>
I plan on upgrading soon. ( in the next 2 weeks) Here is the deal I have.
I just had my water tested today and was told it was perfect ( never given any number) but when I come home there are very small fuzzy white spots on the gold fishes tail and on the black skirt tetras tail.
<Stress; environmental problems of some sort; treat as per Finrot and/or Fungus, depending on how it looks. Finrot looks like dead white patches, often alongside pink or red signs of irritation. Fungus is very much a cotton wool-looking thing. Some medications will treat both, making life easier. Here in the UK, a product called eSHa 2000 ticks that box. In the US, Kanaplex. There are others. But avoid the ones based on tea tree oils, garlic, and other herbal/homeopathic remedies. These are hopelessly unreliable, so the fact they're cheap is irrelevant. Prayer is even
cheaper, and a good deal more likely to work.>
The spots are mainly on the edges but are peppered threw out the tail. It does not look like ick the spots are to large and almost look fuzzy. Could it be fin rot?
Or some other illness? I could not find anything that looks like what's on the fish. And believe it or/not they won't stay still for me to take their picture. I need to know what's the best way to treat this issue.
The Molly's and smaller tetras are not showing any signs.
<Again, do review the needs of Mollies, which are much different to tetras:
Nice fish, but not easy to keep in soft water. Cheers, Neale.>

A killer fish among us! Help!!!     7/20/15
I have very big problem. My tank is 56 gals and I have in it an upside-down cat
<Mmm; S. nigriventris for sure? Some Mochokids can be/come very aggressive>
and 3 golden wonder killifish. Being a goldfish lover, I added two comet goldfish
<?! What? No.... not compatible>

from my pond to the tank, then I went a found a little black moor
<.... are you joking? These are coldwater animals... Do NOT go w/ tropicals; esp. ones that prefer/need softer, acidic water. Goldfish need hard, alkaline.... NOT suitable together>

and added him the my aquarium. I went out of town for three days and had a pet sitter watch over my fish, upon returning, my new fish had had all but his pectoral fins eaten by.....who knows?
<... could be the Comets, catfish...>
I figured it was the comets, so I returned them to the pond.
My little fish was so injured it could hardly swim, so I put him in a recovery tank. He stayed there for about three weeks until his fins had grown back enough for him to get around better. Today, I returned him to the main tank, which, only has the cat and Killies in it. An hour later I checked on him but could not see him. I figured he must have been hiding out, and thought little of it. Later, I checked again and found nothing left of him but his body. His eyes and fins were gone and he was dead. So, if it wasn't the comets, then who did it?!
<The cat... or another animal here>

I have never had this sort of problem before, but before I go adding anymore fish I need to know who the killer is. I can't find anyone who has had a goldfish eaten by a Killi or a upside-down cat! Which is the more likely culprit, the cat who hides in the same spots I've seen my goldfish hiding, or the Killies who patrol the surface at all times? Both species are considered peaceful fish so I'm at a loss!
<Please... READ ahead of making such egregious errors. You are responsible.
Bob Fenner>

FW; beginner errors; mis-stkg issues        6/25/15
Hi, I was going through a few websites because I am recently having problems with my aquariums. I honestly have no ide what's happening to all my fish.
<Oh? Golden rule is that if multiple fish from several species die, one after the other, it's an environmental issue. Review, and act accordingly.>
I have one 20 gallon with 1 koi angel fish who is rather small, 3 cardinal tetras, 4 green tetras, 1 dwarf gourami, 3 female and 2 male guppies, one male and one female molly, a golden Chinese algae eater, and a Pleco sucker fish.
<Massively overstocked. 20 Gallons would be sufficient for a variety of small tetras and perhaps a single adult Angel. The Chinese Algae Eater (neither from China, nor a good algae eater) is an aggressive, very large
fish (35 cm/14 inches) when mature, and doesn't belong in anything less than 55 gallons. The Plec, while not aggressive also gets big, 45 cm/18 inches, and doesn't belong in a tank smaller than 75 gallons.>

I had a red tail shark and a bigger koi angelfish and as well as another veil angel who I thought were killing off my fish, so I moved them into my other 37 gallon tank.
<Wise. The Red Tail Shark is an aggressive species in small tanks. It's normally fairly safe in big (55+ gallon) tanks but only with dissimilar fish.>
I had 1 of my female mollies just pass today and one of my dwarf gourami's yesterday.
<Neither Mollies nor Dwarf Gouramis are easy fish. They are quite picky about water chemistry (Mollies must have hard water, arguably ideally brackish) while Dwarf Gouramis don't last long in hard water. So you can't keep both with any large chance of success. On top of that, Dwarf Gouramis are plagued with viral problems and even ones that aren't are acutely
sensitive to poor water quality. Similarly, Mollies will become sick if water is "old" (not changed often) and things like stocking and filtration are easy issues to get wrong with them.>
The ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are all normal and healthy as well as the PH.
<No chance of having the right pH for both Mollies and Dwarf Gouramis. So something wrong in your statement. Do you have hard water or soft water?
How often do you change the water? Given the heavy overstocking of this tank, I severely doubt you have "healthy" water.>
Its a mystery on why they all are dying... I do water changes twice a week, only 1/3 of the tank water is removed and replaced, I also put in water conditioners and a little bit of prime to be safe about my ammonia levels and stuff as many people told me to do.
In my 37 gallon tank I have 1 big koi angel, a veil angel, red tail shark, 2 Roseline sharks,
<Denison Barbs, presumably?>
1 opal gourami, 2 golden Chinese Algae eaters, a Pleco sucker fish, 1 chocolate dwarf gourami, 1 albino shark, 4 zebra danios, and 2 catfish. I made sure to put in fast swimmers or fish that can defend themselves if need be they get attacked by the red tail shark (he's kind of mean).
<He's in a tank too small for him, which causes Red Tail Black Sharks to be aggressive. They will certainly attack similar fish.>
I have had a few small fish go missing from the tank like tetras but I knew it was because they were too small to be in there and not agile and fast enough to swim away.
<Which should be a massive clue your stocking is not right.>
I have also had a albino shark die and red tail shark go missing and they weren't even that small to begin with.
<Different "sharks" will fight in the same tank until just one is left.
Will sometimes go for only vaguely similar fish too, such as loaches and barbs. Be careful combining "sharks" only with completely different things such as Plecs, larger Corydoras, Silver Dollars, etc.>
My water is changed and the chemicals are added into the water just like I do with my 20 gallon. My real problem though is my big koi angel who I love to death looks like he is on death row. He is swimming into the walls of the tank, swimming upside down and sideways, being pushed around by the current, breathing in air at the top of the tank, laying sideways on the
bottom of the tank, and where his fins are connected to his body are very red. What is really concerning me the most is that he has patches of scales where you can clearly define them. I know there is something wrong with him and I really don't want him to die. I know he has previous scarring from when my 20 gallon tank had ammonia problems, like purple around his gills and red in his eyes. There is no signs of him being attacked by other fish and I know him and my believed to be female angel are inseparable and it would kill me to see her all lonely. I moved the angels around a week ago into the 37 gallon tank and they have been swimming around and I thought they adjusted to the tank quite nicely. Is it stress or something else? My
other angel is fine as well as the other fish in the tank. Another question I have is my opal gourami is always hiding!
<Gouramis are mutually aggressive, so don't always get along. On top of that they dislike strong water currents (which are important for, for example, Denison Barbs, which are subtropical fish that do poorly in very warm or still water.>
I have a log type decoration in my tank that he always hides in and does not come out unless it is to eat food. I noticed his colour is going from a powder blue to a brownish blue colour and I have been keeping a close eye on him as well.
I wanted to quarantine my angel as well but I can not because my hospital tank is currently the home to many baby guppies.
Please help me find out why all my fish keep dying!
-Jessica S
<See above. Wrong environment, tankmates; various problems to review, fix. Short term, treating for bacterial infections as indicated may be necessary, but otherwise improving living conditions should do the trick.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: re: Mis-stkg.    /Neale     6/26/15

Thank you so much! The people at the fish store do not give any type of that advice, I actually had someone tell me to get multiple sharks so they won't attack my other fish and so wouldn't be lonely...
<In the wild at least some "sharks" (mostly Labeo species and their relatives) may well be social animals, living in groups of dozens, hundreds. But in captivity virtually all the "sharks" are solitary, with the only obvious exceptions being Colombian Shark Catfish and Bala/Tricolor Sharks; both these are gregarious. Do let me direct you to some reading:
Without exception, "sharks" are poor choices for community tanks kept by casual aquarists.>
I bought the Mollie and dwarf gouramis at the same time and nobody told me that it wouldn't be wise to put them in the same tank
<And some more reading:
Both these types of fish are known "canaries" likely to die first when conditions aren't good. But sticking with Angels and assorted hardy, peaceful tetras (specifically: X-Rays, Emperors and Penguins) is a good move, even in tanks as small as 20 gallons. Cheers, Neale.>

Zebra Snails and Plecos; mis-mix in wrong env.        4/6/15
<Hello Elliot,>
I have a 20 litre
<Really? 20 litres? As in 4.4 Imperial gallons?
Did you mistype 200 litres perhaps? 200 litres makes sense; 20 litres would be an act of animal cruelty.>
coldwater tank in my kitchen.
<Coldwater? Yet one of your fish is a subtropical, the other tropical. What gives?
Why this incorrect mixing of species?>
I have 2 fantail goldfish, 1 Chinese Algae Eater and (used to have) one Stingray Pleco.
They were all doing fine,
<No, they really weren't. They just weren't dead yet. But let's continue...>
until one day we did a full cleanup of the tank, as it was getting green and dirty on the bottom. We took all fish out easily, part from the Pleco. He kept staying onto the side of the tank. Eventually, about after 20 minutes, we got him off and into the temporary bucket. We did the cleanup and put all of the fish back in, but the Pleco wasn’t very well. He stayed to the bottom with his tail up and barely moved.
One day, I purchased a Zebra Snail to help clean up the algae, and he seemed to fit in well, but the day after we put the snail in the tank, my Pleco sadly died.
I was just wondering whether this was a coincidence
or the snail did something to kill my Pleco.
<Probably the environment, lack of food, insufficient oxygen. Let's be clear, the Stingray Pleco is neither a stingray nor a Pleco. It's a Hillstream Loach,
one of a group of Asian fishes adapted to subtropical, fast-flowing mountain streams. Their lifespan in community tanks is dismal, though they make excellent aquarium fish if you set up a biotope tank. They need lots of water movement (we're talking 10-12 times the volume of the tank per hour) which makes them completely incompatible with fancy Goldfish, or even regular Goldfish, though mixing them with Danios and White Cloud Mountain Minnows works quite well. The Zebra Nerite would probably be okay, too. But basically, a lack of research on your part led to the inevitable death of this fish. The next victim will either be the Chinese Algae Eater or the Goldfish. Why? Because the Chinese Algae Eater (neither from China nor much of an algae eater when mature) becomes a big fish (35 cm/14 inches) that needs tropical conditions and robust tankmates (they're notoriously aggressive when mature). So a coldwater tank that measures 20 litres (5 US gallons!) will eventually become such a cesspit the poor thing will die. On the other hand, should you mean 200 litres, which is still too small for the Chinese Algae Eater, chances are that this fish will harass (and suck the mucous from) your poor fancy Goldfish, leading to their deaths.>
I would like to know so none of my other fish get harmed or die.
<I wouldn't blame the snail here, Elliot. The fault, as the poet said, is not in the stars (or snails) but in ourselves.>
Thanks for your time,
<Most welcome.>
<Hoping that this is a belated April Fools to be honest! But if not, lots to digest here Elliot, and time to go a-shopping. Cheers, Neale.>

Juwel Lido 120litres (30 US gallon) stocking issues       2/8/15
Hi, my name is Pan and I am emailing you from Athens, Greece.
<Greetings, Pan!>
I decided to email you as the information I am getting from the local Pet Shops are most of the times inadequate.
I have a Juwel Lido 120 litres tall aquarium that is running for a year now and you can see here (if you want)
The stocking in the video is:
a pair of Dwarf Gouramis Blood Red - I euthanize the male 2 days ago, probably DGV and the female is quarantined in an 8 gallon tank, and will stay there indefinitely.
<Not ideal, but these fish really are annoyingly sickly. This is, what, the third or fourth sick Dwarf Gourami I've read about on WetWebMedia this week!>
6 Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia Praecox)
8 Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma Heteromorpha)
2 Corydoras Sterbai
3 Corydoras Panda - I bought 8 just before Christmas, have none right now! (it was an impulsive buy, the fish stock we get in Greece is very low quality in general)
<Curious. Would assume Greece gets supplied by the same exporters as the UK. Total aside, when you get bored with sickly fish in the trade, why not collect your own native fish? For example, Greece has Three-Spined Sticklebacks, "Agathero", Gasterosteus aculeatus. These are lovely, lovely fish. Males can be psychopathically aggressive, but their colours are wonderful, and outside of spawning they school together nicely. Easy to keep, too. You've also got native Killifish, Aphanius species of some sort. Also a freshwater blenny, Salarias fluviatilis. Quite a lot of nifty stuff.>
3 Otocinclus
2 Zebra Nerite Snails
a Bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis Moluccensis)a Poso Rabbit snail (Tylomelania orange) and 2 baby ones.
I "replaced" the Panda Corydoras with 5 Kuhli loaches and 3 Siamese Algae Eaters. The plan is to move the 3 Otocinclus, the 2 Sterbais (adding a few more to form a group), the Tylomelania snails (maybe the baby ones), 1 Zebra Nerite and probably add 4 male Endler's or a small group of small Tetras to a 15 gallon Central/South American tank.
The questions are: a) What do you think for the future 15 gallon Central/South American tank?
<Doable. It's a small tank, so don't overstock. I think the Siamese Algae Eaters might be too much, but the rest should fit in just fine.>
What fish could I add for the middle-top region?
<In the 15 gallon tank? Something small. Ricefish (Oryzias spp.) perhaps?
They're very peaceful and some species are extremely pretty. Some prefer medium hard to hard water though, and won't do well in soft/acid conditions. Alternatively, if you do have soft water, perhaps a small Hatchetfish species, such as Carnegiella strigata?>
b) Is the 30 gallon capable of sustaining a additional small group of:
Danio Margaritatus or Boraras Brigittae or Iriatherina Werneri?
<Yes, but you'd never see them. Both Danio margaritatus and Boraras brigittae are best kept on their own in smallish tanks (7-10 gallons, for example) where you could keep a reasonably large group (you really need 10 or more) and they'd be confident and happy swimming in the open.
Iriatherina is a nice fish, but easily bullied. I have kept them in mixed species set-ups, but with anything more boisterous than Ricefish (which aren't at all boisterous!) I found they slowly starved away across many months. So I now keep them on their own or with Ricefish, Cherry Shrimps, and other smaller species.>
OR c) Should I add any more Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish and Harlequin Rasboras<Definitely an option in both cases.>
d) Add a pair of Pearl Gouramis?
<Nice fish. Usually peaceful. But VERY occasionally you find rogue pairs.
Observe your fish carefully before purchasing.>
e) I am already overstocked?
<Since you've removed the Corydoras and the Otocinclus, and the Dwarf Gouramis probably won't be around for long... no, you're not overstocked. A Bristlenose Plec (Ancistrus sp.) would be on my shopping list for algae control, alongside a pair of robust specimen fish, like Pearl Gouramis (or similar).>
Thank you very much for your time and I do appreciate what you do for the hobby (regardless of replying or not, I am already "wiser" reading your site)
<Ah, thanks for the kind words.>
Kind regards, Pan
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Juwel Lido 120litres (30 US gallon) stocking issues        2/9/15
Thank you very much Neale,
The humble issues first.
For the 64 litres tank: how many Sterbai Corys (I have 2 now), Otocinclus (I have 3 now),
<5-6 of each would be fine.>
a small hardy group of Tetra (not cardinal/neon)
<X-Ray Tetras are, by far, the easiest/most reliable tetras. Quality is generally pretty good. Oddly, the Emperor Tetra is another good choice, despite looking so exotic. Failing that, a favourite of mine is the Cherry Barb. Not a tetra, I know. But peaceful and hardy. Plus easy to sex, and you get to watch their really interesting social behaviour.>
and something else (?!maybe a few male Endler's? I know they prefer harder water, mine is around 7 here)
<Can you get Limia species? Limia nigrofasciata is a WONDERFUL little fish.
But yes, Endler's aren't as delicate as fancy Guppies. Do tend to be harassed by bigger fish, so wouldn't be my top recommendation, even with "peaceful" tetras.>
can I have in such a small tank? (30 square meter apartment, 2 tanks already, and the 64litres is coming!)
<Should be fine. I have a similar tank to yours with Limia, Cherry Barbs, Corydoras and Otocinclus and it works fine.>
For the 120 litres: I will have for sure the 5 Kuhli loaches, 4 Siamese Algae Eaters,1 bamboo shrimp, 2 Nerites, 6 Neon Dwarf Rainbow fish, 8 Harlequin Rasboras. 1) How many more Rainbowfish and Rasboras (e.g. +2 rainbows and +4 Rasboras) can I add a) If I add only these 2 type of fish b) add a pair of pearl gourami plus the aforementioned species,
<Each Gourami "counts" as maybe 2 Dwarf Rainbows or Harlequin Rasboras, so that's how I'd balance them. But in 120 litres you should be able to get decent schools (6-8) of both Rainbows and Rasboras, AS WELL as one or two Gouramis. The old "inch of fish per gallon" rule actually works pretty well for these sorts of fish. It's conservative, so you can increase the numbers slightly with care. 120 litres is about 30 gallons, so 30 inches of fish. The Rasboras are about 1.5 inches, the Gouramis 3-4 inches. Make sense?>
or2) change course and add a group of Cherry Barbs (with my last experience with the Dwarf Gouramis I am hesitant to add Gouramis anymore, I know Pearl Gouramis are quite different, and I much prefer them to DGs but they are bigger and quite timid, and the rainbow fish are very antagonistic, come feeding time. I also can find Honey Gouramis easily but I believe they are prone to diseases as well),
<Actually, in soft water Honey Gouramis are actually pretty good. But they don't do well in hard water.>
while I always had good experiences with Cherry Barbs.
<Me too!>
I used to live in England, and I can assure you that the live stock in Greece is of a lesser quality, especially for "common"("expendable") species (such as "basic" Tetras, Rainbowfish, Corydoras, Gouramis etc.) and I have never seen any rice fish sold, ever ("Oryza" means "rice" in ancient Greek and "ryzy" in modern, I am sure you can not pronounce that though!)!
<In English the word "rice" comes from the Greek.>
They have very good specimens in expensive fish (that cost for a few hundreds, to a lot of thousands of Euros).
What you said about the Greek fish is very interesting and I was wondering for some time now, but I only found 1 book from Aristotle's University of Thessaloniki which is rather expensive, but I will try to purchase it soon.
Do you have any bibliography or know any scientists or positive/enthusiastic amateurs that have any knowledge about fresh water and/or brackish fish in Greece (even if they are non Greeks?
<Oh, I am sure they exist. The Killifish people spend a lot of time in Greece, Spain, North Africa collecting the native fishes from the Mediterranean area. Do visit SeriouslyFish.com, join the forum, and get in touch with Matt Ford. He's one of the most helpful native fish experts I know. He might be able to push you in the right general direction.>
I would appreciate any names/book titles given. I have read that the biodiversity of Greece is astonishing for such a small country (in European terms, anyway).
<Quite so. There's a lovely (quite old) book called "The Hamlyn Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the Mediterranean Sea" that is a wonderful read and also has tips on setting up an aquarium for these fishes. Because the Mediterranean is warmer than the seas around the UK, most such fish will do well at room temperature. So stocking with native marine and brackish species is a breeze. You won't need a chiller! Some really pretty little fish.>
Not very relative, but an interesting information is that D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson has written A Glossary of Greek Fishes (1947) that mixes biology, the Greek myths and historical evolution through different (or the same) species in Greek history.
<Sounds fun. My PhD was ammonites, D'AWT was one of the first people to analyse shell shapes scientifically.>
Thank you very much for your time, and especially for the push to do a little research about what's going on around me and it's a good excuse to start small excursions soon, like Aristotelis did 2400 years ago (he's my favourite, him and Epicuros)!
<Big fan of Aristotle too. Ahead of his time as a zoologist. Shame he's remembered for his physics, which was all wrong. But his marine zoology: excellent. He wrote about cephalopods (good Greek word there) and one his descriptions matches a Nautilus much better than either a squid, octopus or cuttlefish. No-one talks about this, but I wonder if he was aware of
Nautilus? Perhaps travelers from India or East Africa had seen them? I've always thought about Aristotle as a small boy, looking over the fishermen's nets, examining all the different sea creatures. He seemed to know them all!>
Kind regards, Pan
<And to you, too! Neale.>

Ammonia Spike - Over/Mis-Stocking A 29g Tank - 12/01/12
I set up my 29 gal. tank 5 weeks ago, dechlorinated it, and added 2 platys for cycling. 
<Not too terribly kind to the platies....  Cycling can be done without fish; much more humanely.>
After 3 weeks, slowly added small angels,
<Though a pair with few or no other fish would be nice for a tank this size, be aware that more than that will ultimately result in a pair forming and kicking the snot out of other tank denizens some time in the future. 
Once this happens, you'll have to make come choices, either to nix the pair or the rest of the fish.>
small clown loaches,
<Unsuitable for a 29....  Small clown loaches do not stay small.  These will outgrow the tank (slowly) and eventually require a 5 or 6 foot tank.  At least they'll be happily compatible with the angels!>
and a small red tailed shark,
<Also will stay neither small nor friendly.>
ending up with 4 angels, 3 clown loaches, and 1 Redtail shark.  I gave the platys to my grandson.  My ammonia level was at about .25 or less from the chart with my test kit. 
<Expected....  Do water changes to combat this.>
The fish seemed to be happy, no bullying, no frantic swimming all over the tank, no gasping for breath at the surface, etc.  I feed them brine shrimp and bloodworms without overfeeding and they eat eagerly.  I change about 20% of the water weekly.  I have an outside power filter which seems to be working fine.  Temp. 80 degrees.
A few days ago, my ammonia level went to 2.0.
 I immediately changed about 30% of the water, and changed the charcoal bag of the filter.  The fish seem to be acting as always, no stress or unusual behavior.  They eat vigorously. 
<This is temporary, to be sure.  Although many hardy fish will tolerate a slow rise in ammonia, it does cause them damage and even if they're not showing trouble yet, they are being damaged.>
My question:  What do I do about the ammonia rise? 
<Water changes.  The most annoying rhyme you'll ever hear/read (and good luck getting it out of your head once it's stuck):  "The Solution To Pollution Is Dilution".  Water changes, my friend.  That is all.  Bear in mind that many Chloramine removers bind Ammonia after breaking the Chlorine/Ammonia bond and will cause a false Ammonia reading after a water change, as well.  >
Thanks for any help you can give me.
<Note also that if you are unable to maintain Ammonia at zero parts per million, the tank may be overstocked.  I wouldn't expect that now, while the angels and loaches are small, however.  You should have some months before troubles develop from the angels pairing, and longer than that for the loaches to get uncomfortably large.  And keep an eye on that Redtail, they can get a bit nasty when they get big, but I don't think he'll cause too much trouble.>
Joe Messina
<Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Inherited tank, overstocked    11/26/12
We (first-time fish owners) bought a 10g tank around 3 months or so ago, which came with a community of fish (a breeding pair of mollies with 2 female fry, a breeding pair of swordtails with one female fry, a female balloon molly and a male Betta fish. The tank is clearly too small (20% weekly water changes are keeping toxicity levels in check) and we need advice on what to keep (and where to rehome those we cannot, if you happen to have any UK-based contacts/info).
<You and the fishes you list would be fine in a 20 gal. (US or UK) system>
The Betta (our favourite!) and the balloon molly seem fine and happy and the babies have been thriving but are now almost fully grown. The mother silver molly has recently become aggressive towards the growing fry, which may well be a space issue, she is pregnant (big but not square), or both..
I would also say that the swordtails, while not sickly, would benefit from a bigger tank than our upright-style Fluval.
<I might well augment this w/ a hang-on outside power filter>
Any advice gratefully received. We are based in Central London.
With thanks,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Inherited tank, overstocked    11/26/12
Thanks, Bob. Sadly, we have not the space for a bigger tank, so will have re-home, I think.
<Ahh... well, you might try just removing the Swords, but Mollies too, really need more space>
You run a great site, very useful.
Best wishes,
<Thank you, BobF>
Re: Inherited tank, overstocked    11/26/12

Thanks again, Bob. I think you are right.
<Welcome Rebecca>

My new bumblebee catfish
Bumblebee Catfish, (Over)stocking - 10/31/2012

So as of about for days ago I got a bumblebee catfish to add to my 29 gallon tank.
<"Bumblebee catfish" is, unfortunately, a very common common name....
There are at least a few very different animals that I can think of that this could be. It'd be wise of you to start trying to figure out what, exactly, you've got.>
She was doing fine but now doesn't seem too move much at all and is breathing really heavy.
<Bad news, for sure.>
I put her in a breeding net thinking maybe it was stress but is still doing it and put some pellets with her to eat and she won't eat.
<Definitely something is amiss....>
In my tank I have:
-a rope fish
<This fish gets far too large for a 29 gallon aquarium, and may, in such confines, find his way out of the tank. I really wouldn't keep this fish in less than a four foot tank.>
-4 mollies (2 Sailfin mollies -2 tattooed mollies)
<Please read up on tattooed fish.... This really is a deplorable practice.
Keep a close eye on them; many fish do not survive long after the tattooing process. They are very susceptible to infection. Please do not buy more tattooed (or dyed) fish. Doing so only creates more demand for this awful practice.>
-ghost knife fish
<This fish also needs a much larger space.... Gets 18 inches, eats smaller fish, is extremely delicate....>
-2 skirted fish
<?? Perhaps you mean black-skirted tetras? Disconcerting.... This is a very "nippy" fish; also a schooler.... needs to be in larger groups of its own species, and will be a threat to other fish by nipping their fins....
I absolutely would NOT have a delicate black ghost in with these, in a 29 gallon tank....>
-2 gold fish
<Not compatible with anything else you've listed,
I'm afraid. Goldfish really want cooler water - and, seriously, they are big, messy fish. They'll get over a foot (unless they're "fancy" goldfish) and really need something close to 15 gallons or so *per fish*. These are best kept in ponds, or in great large tanks.>
- 2 tangerine Mollies.
<So, let's recap: A total of 6 mollies, 2 nippy tetras, a Ropefish, a black ghost, two goldfish, and a somewhat unidentified catfish. This tank, I'm sad to say, is very, very overstocked.>
Everyone else in the tank seems fine.
<"Fine" is a temporary condition at best, with this mix, I fear.>
Did a 25% water change and didn't help. Any idea what could be wrong with my bumble(her name)?
<Yeah, quite probably there's something about the water quality here that she's not liking, and/or she's running into territory or compatibility issues. You really must test for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. Ammonia and Nitrite must be ZERO, Nitrate less than 20ppm. If any of these are not so, you will need to do water changes until they are corrected. With this much fish "load" in a comparatively small tank, I would be a little surprised if the water quality is really okay. The reason the newcomer might show problems with it when the others don't is because the existing fish became slowly accustomed to it over time; the catfish just went from water of one type suddenly into this crowded system. Catfish are also a little sensitive to water quality issues. My very strong suggestion to you is, after checking/correcting water quality, to consider reducing the number of fish, and researching the needs of each and every fish you have to see who is most compatible with whom. Were it me/my tank, I would probably try to re-home the goldfish into an ornamental pond (depending upon where you are, this may be impossible until Spring), or, if they are still small, giving them a tank of their own where they can have cooler water than the other fish. I would also try to re-home the Ropefish and black ghost - these just aren't great tankmates for the rest of your system, and both really need more space than is afforded in a 29 gallon tank. Especially the black ghost.... They're NOT a good fish to keep in an overstocked tank. They're very, very delicate. Also, the tetras really want more of their own kind, so adding to their school, once the other fish are moved, would be a good idea. Just do NOT add more fish to this tank until the less compatible ones are out. The catfish.... really depends upon what exactly she is. It's very possible she'd be compatible with the mollies and/or tetras, depending.... Do try to look her up, on WetWebMedia, maybe also http://www.planetcatfish.com  , and general Google searches. Hopefully, with testing/correcting water quality and changing your stocking scheme to focus on compatibility, she'll be okay. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>
Bumblebee Catfish, (Over)stocking - II - 11/05/2012

Okay tested water it was perfect
<"Perfect" is relative.... Some fish like certain things, others tolerate things some can't, etc.... "Perfect" for the ghost knife, for instance, may mean far too low a pH/hardness for the mollies' tastes (though they're pretty durable, tolerate a lot of "imperfection").... What I'm getting at, here, is that "perfect" is almost meaningless to me/us, even to you. Real numbers are what's important. The bare minimum is to be sure that Ammonia and Nitrite are ZERO, Nitrate less than 20ppm. Beyond that, you won't be able to nail any sort of perfection with this less-than-compatible mix.>
and 30 gallon tank is only for 3 months then I'm upgrading to a 55 gallon.
<Ahh, very VERY good news.>
Both rope fish and black ghost knife are little.
<Only for now. And the ghost knife, currently at risk of being nipped to death by the tetras, if it survives, will ultimately become large enough to attack your smaller fishes during the night when it is most active. Size isn't the only consideration in compatibility.>
My tank is also done up to make sure there are no openings for the type fish too jump out.
<Very good.>
The gold fish are only in tank for now they are Christmas presents for nephew.
<Also good. Hopefully they will be in a suitably large system.... The 29 gallon tank they're currently in would do nicely for quite a while, once all of the other fish are moved up to the larger system. As for the bumblebee cat, without knowing precisely which catfish you have (the most "common" by this name are Asian bumblebee cats (Pseudomystus siamensis) and South American bumblebee cats (Microglanis iheringi), the former gets over 5" and eats small fish, the latter stays smaller than 3" and is a great community critter. Not to mention there are a few other cats that go by this common name. As to why it's having trouble, without knowing details of water quality and possibly how it was kept prior to purchase, the only best guess I'd have is a compatibility issue, perhaps with the likewise nocturnal ghost knife. There are too many possible conflicts/issues to really identify the cause of the fish's stress beyond being in too small a space with too many less-than-compatible buddies. The move to a larger system will likely help you and the fish a very great deal, but nothing will help more than reading/researching each of the species you have, and understanding their needs. Best wishes, and good luck with the move to the larger tank, you (and the fish) are sure to enjoy it! -Sabrina>

assistance needed, please, overstocked, lack of data... no searching    9/12/12
I have had my tanks for quite sometime with no problems. However most recently I have a issue. Here are the details on my tank.
Tank Size 55 gallon
In tank 2 Bala shark, 2 iridescent shark
<These two get large, actually too large for a 55 in time>

and 2 algae eaters all of the are about 5-8 inches in length as we have had them awhile
I dipsticked my tank just a few minutes ago and ALL levels are fine.
<Need values, what was tested for...>
Ok now the issue.
Problem #1
1 Bala shark, the smaller of the two had been swimming mostly vertical as I was unsure why this was happening I did a water change (15%) and it seemed to help some. However by the next day he was whacked again. At this time they were all within a 36 gallon tank. We purchased the tank I described above (55 gallon) got the water established and transferred. He was doing MUCH BETTER however after treating the issue with Pima Fix
<Worthless... search WWM re>
 for issue you will read in issue #2 now again today he is swimming mostly vertical again. SO I have added the filters back to the tank as they were out for the medication. I did a 10% water change and added some aquarium salt.
<Likely the one Bala banged itself (physical trauma) into the side, top... but could well be there was insufficient dissolved oxygen... Again, this volume is too small>
Problem 2
Yesterday when all seemed to be doing better in the tank I was sitting watching my fish and noticed that one of my algae eaters had a "mass" on the left side of his back fin. It is a swollen bubble with some of his coloring, pink in the middle and then a white blob. We looked it up and no one had a picture exactly close to his issue so I called PetSmart sent the tech a photo of it and then he suggested the PimaFix.
<... dismal>
 Unsure if this helped cause of course I have now added the filters back and did a partial tank change due to issue #1 seeming to be reversing again.
HELP.... what do I do? Have considered taking a 20 gallon tank I have and moving one of them there- but which one? Whose issue is worse? Whose issue can be resolved? UUGH
<I wouldn't move any of these fishes... better to leave in the largest volume, do what you can to optimize, stabilize water quality there. DO read on WWM re these species, their needs... Bob Fenner>

Sick guppy, 15 gallon community tank.?    3/24/12
One of my male guppies appears to sick.
<Unfortunately, Mycobacteria infections quite common with farmed Poecilia spp.>
He has a large bulb in his abdomen, and he was swimming vertically at times.
His tank mates are 2 other male guppies, 9 cardinal tetras, and a zebra snail.
<Guppies do need completely different conditions to Cardinals, so something is wrong here. One species is surely stressed. Guppies need hard, alkaline water; Cardinals soft and acidic, and somewhat warm too.>

I've also seen him barrel rolling around the tank. I have separated him from the community so not to spread any possible diseases. I think it's a swim bladder problem. This fish just finished a quarantine regimen and appeared relatively healthy when placed in the larger tank.
Is there anything I can do for him, or should he be euthanised?
<Likely so.>
The tank is heated, filtered, and water parameters are all proper, I test with an API master kit.
Ammonia : 0
Nitrite : 0
Nitrate : <5ppm
Thanks in advance,
Thomas Daly
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

New mix of fish / chasing    2/6/12
Hello, I am hoping you can spare a minute to give me some advice.  I have owned fish only for eight weeks and the stores have offered conflicting advice, so I come to you for your expertise.  I have a ten gallon tank
<Too small for the species you list.>

that had 5 zebra Danios, one male German Blue Ram,
<An extremely unreliable species; for expert fishkeepers only, to be honest.>
and one Green Corydoras
<Corydoras, even when single. Corydoras is the Latin name, not a plural.>
as of yesterday.  They were getting along fine but we wanted to give the loners some company.
<So far. Keep Corydoras in groups of 6+ specimens per species. Likewise for Danios, which if kept in groups of less than 6 can become nippy.>
Today we added two more Green Corydoras and one female German Blue Ram. 
Here are my questions:
The male ram is larger than the female and has been chasing the female around the tank. Is this normal or should I be concerned, and what trouble signs should i look for?
<Normal, yes; in a small tank, the female may not be able to get any peace.
If they don't pair -- and there's no guarantees that they will, any more than any two humans will pair up -- the male WILL harass the female, to death even.>
How do you feel about this mix of fish?
<It's a poor mix. Ram Cichlids need very warm, very acidic, very soft water. So, we're talking 28-30 C/82-86 F in terms of temperature, a pH around 5.5, and a hardness no more than 5 degrees dH. While Corydoras would enjoy that sort of hardness, the pH would be a bit low for them, and the temperature is way too high. It's significant also that Rams are known to harass Corydoras and even bite out their eyes. They aren't recommended companions in many different ways, though Corydoras sterbai would be okay with Rams in a big tank where they could spread out. Corydoras aeneus, the species you have, prefers water between 22-25 C/72-77 F, and in now way belongs in a Ram aquarium.>
What is the correct temperature to keep this tank?
<See above. Danios and Corydoras need cooler conditions to Ram Cichlids.>
As for food, we have these:  Aqueon Tropical Flakes, freeze dried bloodworms, sinking shrimp pellets, and Nutrafin max small tropical fish micro granules.  Can I give them a reasonable diet from these, and which should I give / how often?
<One or two small meals daily is ample. Don't worry too much about this aspect. So long as your fish have gently convex bellies, they're well fed.
Catfish feed mostly at night, so an penny-sized wafer of sinking food 3-4 nights a week will be ample for anything up to 6 Corydoras.>
I have been given advice to feed anywhere from three times a day to every other day. Any other advice regarding our current fish and environment would be very much appreciated.
<Read, research species BEFORE purchase.>
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Contaminated Fish Tank? Iatrogenic troubles... no rdg.   1/10/12
I have had a ten gallon freshwater fish tank for about 3 months now. It has a heater, bubble strip, and a lot of fake plants in it. I started the tank with 4 painted glass fish and two albino catfish
<Mmm, not compatible... the Glassfish are really brackish
 that I bought from a pet store that gets their fish from a local breeder.
I have had them since October. Two weeks ago my catfish randomly died. So last week I decided to go to PetSmart and buy 2 black Mollies, a sucker fish,
<... what type? As in species?>
and a new albino catfish to clean up the algae that was growing.. Well, the day after I bought the new fish the tank was filthy. My sucker fish died after two days..
 A few days after I tried to vacuumed the gravel and do a 20% water change but it was not cleaning the tank. I know I should not have done this but I decided to transfer the fish to a bowl and clean out the whole tank because it was so filthy.. I put stress coat in the water, changed the carbon filter, waited for the new water to be the right temperature and then added the fish back to the tank. The next day one of my black Molly fish was covered in white spots and refused to eat ( a few days prior to the water change I notices the fish flicking its self across the top of the water). I immediately ran to the store and I was advised to buy tetra ick fizz tablets.
<... have you read our instructions on writing us? You should SEARCH first... Heat treatment would have cured these fishes>
I followed the directions and used the tablets. This caused my tank to make bubbles at the top of the tank it looks like the bubble strip is making them..The tablet made one of my glass fish very sick(i think) she was swimming to the top of the tank and letting herself just fall down then she started swimming upside down. It was really unpleasant to see. She ended up dying. Now, the two black mollies both have spots.
<Ich likely/still>
 One of them just sits in the corner swimming completely vertical with its head at the top, still covered in spots. The other is chasing my glass fish it looks like and acting very flicky. My glass fish are turning a foggy color and acting flicky also (their tails are nonstop flickering more than usual). one of the glassfish is always hiding in the corner of the tank not eating which is very unusual. My albino catfish seem fine.. I think all my fish but the catfish are slowly dying. Is this from the ick fizz tablets?
<Mostly, yes>
 Is there anything I can do to make the fish better?
<Yes... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
 Do you know what could possibly be wrong with my fish / the tank?
<Yes... you have not studied ahead of purchasing the livestock jammed in here. Go back, look up each species on the Net, including WWM... READ re their individual space, food, water quality requirements. What you have here won't work. Learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM... Your answers are there. Bob Fenner>

Likely sick Gourami and question about tankmates... mis-mix env.     1/4/12
Hello there. I'm new to your site (just discovered it about half an hour ago, in fact..), and found it through some searching on Google. I have two questions, one about my Gourami (you can ignore this one if you want, I've decided on it already, but extra assurance would be nice), and another about potential tankmates.
I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 Silver Lyretail Mollies (both are happy as could be, they're a pair),
<Mollies doesn't "pair" so this happiness could well be short-lived. Male Mollies simply mate with any female they can catch up with, and they will attempt to mate over and over again, whether she's receptive or not. As the females become bigger and slower through pregnancy, this unwanted attention becomes increasingly stressful and can cause harm to the female as well as miscarriages. Mollies should be kept in groups of at least two females per male so the male cannot harass just one female all the time, and in any event, 10 gallons isn't enough space for a species that will become 8-10 cm/3-4 inches in length when fully grown.>
a Red Swordtail (male),
<An aggressive, fast-moving species adapted to cool, fast-flowing streams. Not suitable for this aquarium.>
and a Powder Blue Gourami.
<Colisa lalia
, a species that needs softer water than either Mollies or Swordtails, and furthermore, intolerant of brackish water (so not a good choice for use with Mollies) and needs warmer water than Swordtails.>
I have a heater (and a thermometer) that keeps it at the correct 70-something degrees,
<Meaning what? Swordtails come from cool streams and need to be kept between 22-24 C/72-75 F. Farmed fancy Mollies do better in warmer water, around 25 C/77 F, and Gouramis need hothouse conditions because they inhabit swamps and ponds with no water current, so 25-28 C/77-82 F is required for them. Can you see the pattern here? At least one of your fish species will be unhappy (and therefore stressed, more disease-prone, and probably shorter-lived) at the conditions needed by the others.>
and an over-the-tank filter.
<Do bear in mind Mollies and especially Swordtails are "jumpers" that will escape from any openings around the side of the tank.>
This is a relatively new set up, and so it is sparsely decorated (a skull decoration for them to hide in and two fake plants), but I'm working on filling it up with more plants via live growing bulbs that are beginning to sprout. By the way, yes, the water is brackish, just as these species prefer, if I've read correctly.
<You haven't. Mollies do indeed do best in slightly brackish water. It isn't 100% essential, but 50% of the time it makes them easier to keep. But Swordtails do not want or like brackish water, and Gouramis will be harmed by it. Again, a mismatch of aquarium fish species.>
First question;
From my understanding, this variety of Gourami is part of the Dwarf Gourami family, which is prone to DGD. From everything I've read on your site, it would appear mine has come down with it.
Symptoms are as follows:
Slight lack of interest in eating.(TetraMin flakes for tropical fish) Seems to be skinny; bulges on both sides and near its tail fin. Lethargic, sits in the top left corner of the tank and doesn't move. Sometimes turns on his side and swims in a totally incorrect manner, or only favors one fin for part of the day. Seems to have lost some of his color, less vibrant than before.
<Could be the Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus, but could just as easily be poor environmental conditions. Your tank doesn't sound right for this species. It's a swamp-dwelling species that needs soft, slightly acidic water conditions and little/no water current. Such conditions would pretty much kill Mollies and Swordtails stone-dead, so I'm assuming you aren't providing them. My gut feeling here is that poor care, rather than the virus, is the problem here. Do also understand that many Dwarf Gouramis die from opportunistic Mycobacteria infections (what aquarists, inaccurately, called "Fish TB") and these infections are mostly triggered by environmental stress rather than bad luck, though inbreeding may play a part too.>
Also, I've observed my Swordtail picking on him,
<See above. This is an aggressive species that needs a tank at least 90 cm/3 ft long to give it space to race about in. Look at its long, streamlined shape. This is a fish designed for swimming! It doesn't want to be cooped up in a 10 gallon aquarium.>
and earlier today noticed that his(or her) bottom fin and tailfin seem to be picked on, and are a dull red color. His fins seem to be smaller as well, and show the same signs of being picked at, but they're still the same color. Could this disease(if he in fact has it, but he shows all classic signs) have been triggered by stress? I only got him about...maybe two weeks ago along with the others. At first the Swordtail ignored him but he's been pestering him for a few days now.
Originally the mollies were the bullies to him, but they seemed to stop (even though they look tempted to every so often.) Now, the Gourami's tankmates at the pet store all looked happy and healthy, but I will admit this specific one seemed a bit more dull and timid, the employee didn't really let us choose which one we wanted so we got stuck with this guy.
<As I've written many, MANY times on this web site and in fish magazines, Colisa lalia is a species best avoided.>
So, is this truly DGD, and if it is, what can I do in terms of painlessly killing him? That doesn't cost, obviously. I'm just a kid.
<Unfortunately, being 8 years old or whatever doesn't really let you off the hook when it comes to treating animals humanely. So while the Clove Oil method is cheap, it isn't free. Here in England a bottle of Clove Oil costs £4-5, and it can be bought at drugstores and health food shops. It's sometimes called Eugenol and is sold as a treatment for toothache. The method is described here, about halfway down:
None of the "free" methods is humane, and aren't recommended by me or by vets.>
And, of course, if he doesn't die before you respond... It's been about five days now.
<Actually, your problem is most likely the tank, not the fish. Move him to his own soft water aquarium and he'll probably be okay.>
I wish I had known about how they were farmed and the fact they had such a common disease, or I would have never bought one, especially not for the five dollars I paid.
<You're learning the hard way. Stores will take advantage of ignorance, and if you think they go easy on kids, you're in for a disappointment. Spend the five dollars on an aquarium book, read it, and then go shopping. You life will be a lot better!>
Secondly, when/if he dies, do you have any suggestions for tropical tankmates for my remaining three fish?
<The fish you have don't belong.>
I don't want to overstock the tank but I think just the three fish will be a bit empty, especially considering the Mollies stick together nearly constantly, making it seem even more empty than it is.
<Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm
I don't want more of the same fish, unless the Swordtail would be happiest with a second. I've seen varied opinions on how happy Swordtails are alone... Would tetras of some sort(obviously in schools) be okay with the brackish, tropical water, and go well with my obviously mean Swordtail? I was considering those already. As a note, the Swordtail doesn't pick on the Mollies but loves to bug the Gourami. What kind of fish will do with these? How many more small fish (about the same size as a Molly, I mean) could fit until the tank is 'overstocked'?
<Your tank is already badly stocked. Time to figure out what to do with the ones you have, then restock with sensible choices as per your water chemistry (is it hard or soft) and the temperature.>
As a side note, are Swordtails meant to be jumpy?
<Yes, especially in small tanks.>
Mine constantly spooks at the slightest sudden movement, and jumps when the tank light goes out, but the other fish don't.
<He doesn't belong in a 10 gallon aquarium. In fact beginners shouldn't buy 10 gallon aquaria!>
Thanks for your time,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Jittery fish, stocking... moving... no reading   12/27/11
Hi, my name is Jenny.  I've had a ten gallon tank since last August, and living in it right now are 1 juvenile angelfish,
<... Can't live long or well in this small volume...>
 1 adult platy, and 3 platy fry.
<Not compatible w/ an Angel/Pterophyllum...>

I've written to you before, and I'm very impressed! Every time I've emailed, my problems were solved, and I just want to thank you  :)
I'm sure all of you must be busy, since it's close to holidays, so I apologize if my email is any bother.
    Well, about a week ago, as I was cleaning my tank, I realized that it had completely deteriorated, and I didn't even know it.  I had vacuumed the gravel, and to my surprise, the bucket I filled with water was cloudy, yellow-greenish, and it smelled like dead fish. The nitrates sky-rocketed, and the filter was a mess.
So I decided it was time for me to redo my whole tank.
    I went out and bought some Nutrafin Tank Cycler,
<Cycle... please search, READ on WWM re>

 and Nutrafin Plant Fertilizer.  With the cycler, it only takes 3 days to cycle the tank.
<... see WWM, this product doesn't work often>
I figured the fish wouldn't be out of the tank for long, so I set up a bare, plastic 1 gallon. I put some old tank water in it with the fish and the plants.
<... for three days?>
I emptied the tank with a gravel filter, replaced the 5-15 gallon filter with a 10-30 gallon filter, rinsed the decor, and wiped down the sides of the tank.
I filled it with water and added all of the old plants back in (also adding the fertilizer for them) Then, I added the cycling liquid for three days, as directed, and it was ready for the fish to be put back in.
The water parameters were:
Nitrates: 0
Nitrites: 0
Ammonia: 0
pH:  6.8  (supposed to be at 7.2 or 7.6)
I needed to acclimate the fish, so I emptied out about 4/5 of their water first. I an air tube, about 1/2 cm in diameter, and I had a steady drip going into their 1 gallon. When it was full, I netted them carefully and put them in the tank.
They all seemed fine for a while, but I left for a few hours. When I came back, they were acting funny, and when I came to the front of the tank, they swam around in a swarming way, all around the glass, literally wagging their whole bodies and dashing towards me, hitting the glass.  I checked the parameters, and they were still the same. I checked the parameters this morning, and they were all the same, except for the nitrates, that had gone up a tiny bit.
The cycling liquid doesn't really have anything besides bacteria, so I can only list the fertilizer's components.
I'm not sure if any of the listed are harmful or not, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry:
Nitrogen:    15%
Boron:        .0005%
Copper:      .0005%
Iron:            26%
Manganese: .005%
Molybdenum: .0007%
Zinc:            .003%
Are any of the components harmful to platies or angelfish? Or are they just not used to the water parameters?
<None of consequence...>
Thank you for your time, Jenny.
<... see WWM re... Cycling period. Bob Fenner>

My fish keep dying... too many, incomp., non-cycled FW...
Fatalities stking/env 12/14/11

Hello. <Hi Morgan> Recently I purchased 8 fish for a ten gallon tank. <That is a lot of fish for this size tank.>  I purchased two guppies (not sure what the exact breed is), a Dalmatian and a silver molly, a goldfish, a red wag, and some type of tiger fish <assume you mean tiger barb here> and one other fish <?>.
<Not compatible. For starters you are mixing tropical fish with temperate fish. You need to research each fish you please to stock to check compatibility. This could be in terms of environmental needs or ability to get along with others on your list.> After the first few days both of the guppies died. There eyes looked cloudy and they were just lying at the bottom of the tank.
<Was this tanks cycled at all?>
The next day the tiger fish died. Since the first day we got him he had been acting weird. He was not eating and hiding in corners. A few days later I noticed that my goldfish was dead to. Her eyes where cloudy and she was lying at the tanks floor.  So now I'm down to the two mollies, the red wag, and the fish that i don't know the breed of.
<This is always a bad sign. Do not buy a fish unless you have researched it and know how to care for it.>
 They where all doing fine together but then i noticed that my Dalmatian molly was lying at the bottom of the tank but was not dead. When i walked closer it began to swim up but then i noticed that its lips where red. I don't know why this is or why my other fish were all just dying. I have had fish before. I had 12 angle fish in the same ten gallon tank.
<Yikes! it is a miracle you did not have any issues. I wouldn't put 1 angelfish in a 10 gallon tank!> But i have never had this problem. I have a working filter but do not have a heater. I recently tested the water temp. and it was around 75 degrees. Is that okay? Please tell me what you think is wrong. <As above, you need to rethink your stocking, let this tank cycle and greatly reduce the number of fish you plan to keep. Here is a good article to get you started. Do also read the stocking FAQs on WWM -
Cheers, Sugam>
Re: Fatalities stking/env 12/14/11

thank you for the response but you really did not answer my question. 
Why are my mollies lips red???????? <This is likely the makings of a fungal infection. Treating it medically as such will not take away the reason it has occurred. Do note that mollies are not easily kept in freshwater tank. They are brackish water fish and should be kept as such. Even if kept in freshwater, a ten gallon is way to small to keep the parameters in check.
They are sensitive to ammonia, nitrites and even higher levels of nitrates. Moreover, you need to keep them in hard water with a high pH (over 7.5).
Regards, Sugam>

Koi help...     12/5/11
I am new to your site but not new to fish. I have grown up with all kinds but I've stumbled upon a problem that I just can't solve.  My fiancé© and I have a 150 gallon indoor tank. We have 2 Koi, 2 Plecos, 2 Oscars (they don't mess with anything as everything else is bigger for now),  a parrot fish, and 2 map turtles.
<Mmm... too much and dissimilar environments needed here to keep all together... The Koi need cooler and larger waters, the Map Turtles are too  ]dirty... the cichlids and Pleco can live together>
Now my black Koi is the one with the problem the other orange and white is perfectly fine they are both roughly 8 to 10 inches in length. Lets start with a little back ground, we had a few more Koi awhile ago and we had a terrible ammonia spike that killed out biggest Koi friend and the butterfly Koi.
<See my notes above>
 The black one and orange were there then to but they survived. Everything has been taken care of and we monitor the levels very close now (which are all pristine). For some reason the black Koi still swims to eat and sometimes messes with the gravel like normal but it always returns to laying on the bottom.
<This type of Nishikigoi is close/r to the wild type (Chagoi)>
 It's kind of like it gives up after a few seconds if there is no food. It doesn't have any sort of labored breathing the only noticeable thing is it's missing a few scales because we used to have a gourami in the tank (who is now moved). Like I said earlier nothing messes with it and the orange one tries to make it swim by swimming around it, it only works sometimes. The black Koi was our second Koi ever and I don't know what to do.
<Plan, dig a pond...>
I'd hate to see it gone. The filtration is great and aeration too. It has been set up for almost a full year now but it's only been a couple of months since the ammonia incident. Any advise is greatly appreciated, we love to watch them and so does our Chihuahua.
Thank you for your time,
<Do consider what you're about here. What you have is an untenable mix of life crowded into too small a world... Bob Fenner>

Heavy breathing at top of tank... And something crawling on class  10/16/11
I came home Friday to notice air stone failed,
<Ah, now, here's a worry. No aquarium should rely on air stones for good water quality, unless you have an air-powered undergravel filter (and these are hardly seen nowadays). Assuming your aquarium has some sort of electrically-powered filter, like an external canister filter, then the air stone should, at best, be providing supplemental water movement. Even with the air stone switch off, the aquarium should be fine, the canister (or whatever) filter providing adequate circulation. In this context, circulation is *both* about moving water through the biological filter *and* moving oxygen-rich water down from the top of the tank to the bottom of the tank. If this isn't happening, then your aquarium is under-filtered.>
red parrot cichlid breathing heavy at top, also a Severum, and an Acara not breathing as hard, but still labored. Fixed air stone did a 20 percent water change. Check water chemistry everything is spot on.
<Likely because inadequate water circulation in the tank depleted oxygen concentration in the mid to low levels of the tank.>
No change so dropped water level to get more air in the tank through the filter... I added parasite clear because I thought it had to be more than the air issue..
<Adding medications for no reason does more harm than good. Do remember "parasites" covers a lot of ground, and if you can't identify a parasite beyond saying your fish is sick, then you can't possibly choose the right medication. And since all medications are poisons at some level, using them without cause can make a bad situation worse.>
Lost the Parrot last night, and this morning I discover little tiny things stuck to the glass. Got a magnifying glass they look like tiny snails/bugs with antennas. What is going on?
<Probably harmless crustaceans and other small invertebrates that live in the sand or gravel. With low oxygen levels in the tank, they will climb up to the top of the tank where the water is more oxygen rich. Quite a common reaction, and often a good sign that something isn't right -- think of the miner's canary.>
I don't feed live food.. Been doing fresh water fish for more than ten years never saw these things... Help please before I lose another fish.
Thank you Joanne
<Do review circulation and biological filtration -- likely the immediate causes of problems here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Heavy breathing at top of tank... And something crawling on class  10/16/11

I have a Fluval 405 canister in a 72 gallon tank. It is rated for up 100 gallon.
<When stocked with Neons! Hopelessly underpowered for an aquarium with large, messy cichlids like yours. I've used that filter, and know it well. For cichlids, you need something around 6-8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So for a 72 gallon tank, that's 432 to 576 gallons per hour. A Fluval 405 at each end of the tank would be about right. I know this sounds a lot, but the solid waste produced by the fish is the reason this filter gets clogged up fast, as I'm sure you've noticed. When you
bought the thing new, it probably produced a very pushy stream of water from its outflow pipe, but over the weeks that current slowed and slowed.
If it's anything like my canisters, after a while the water trickles out the outflow. This is why big filters are so important.>
340 gallons per hour.. Something like that. That is why I thought the air stone could not possible be the only issue.
<Do remember canisters removing oxygen from the water. So while extremely effective, they depend on the water in the aquarium getting nicely oxygenated. The best way to use them is with a spray bar or venturi, so that the outflow churns about at the top, helping to drive off CO2 and absorb oxygen. Likewise, good circulation is crucial, because the canister takes water from the bottom of the tank, where oxygen level is lowest.
Again, high turnover rates will ensure that this bottom layer isn't oxygen-poor. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Heavy breathing at top of tank... And something crawling on class  10/16/11

Ohhh no.. I did notice and I thought these fish were quite messy, compare to my community tank downstairs.
<Precisely so. It's scandalously misleading the way filters are "sized" for 55 gallon tanks or whatever, instead of making it clear that the tank is acceptable for a 55-gallon tank with Guppies and Neons, but wouldn't be acceptable for a 55-gallon tank stocked with Goldfish. The gallons/hour approach isn't entirely reliable either, but it does give a much better feel of what you're aiming for. 4x per hour for small fish, 6-8 times per hour for medium and large fish, and 10x or more for fish adapted to strong water current environments (Hillstream loaches for example).>
Wow. I am sorry I didn't realize. That will teach me, acting like I know something after almost 15 years. Do you have a preferred filter you would recommend for this size tank, and fish. I like the connectors and ease of use of this Fluval but I prefer to just have one filter running...unless two is better than one?
<Two is indeed better than one! By all means choose another Fluval of similar capacity, perhaps the 305 or 405, depending on your budget.
External hang-on-the-back filters can be good, too, in the sense they provide extra mixing of air and water, though I find them less effective at removing solid waste. A beefy internal canister filter might be a good addition if you prefer these. They get clogged quickly, but they're so easy to clean that this isn't a big deal. Since the canister filter you've got is probably handling biological filtration just fine (if you have zero ammonia and nitrite) what you really want is extra water turnover so there's more oxygen in the system. An internal canister would do the job nicely, much better than an airstone!>
I see the Severum still breathing at the top is there something I can do right now to help him some how?
<Yes. Lower the water line a 4-6 inches, so the outflow from the canister splashes a lot. Make sure temperature isn't too high; 25 C/77 F is ample, and above that, you have to deal with the lower oxygen solubility of warm water.>
He does come down and swim about.. Acara seems less affected, swimming around. Truth be told the parrot was a gift, and would not replace but the other two fish are my picks, and stunning as a natural fish, would not want to lose them. Perhaps a water change?
<Yes, would be good too. Change at least 25%, perhaps 50% if you can be sure you're keeping water chemistry constant. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Heavy breathing at top of tank... And something crawling on class

Would an fx-5 be acceptable? I love the g6 but it seems as though the flow is comparable to what I have now. Eheim filter are good have them on my 150, but not always easy to maintain... Fluval's seem much more user friendly.
<Choose whatever filter or combination of filters suits your budget.
Provided you have at least six times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, i.e., 6 x 72 = 432 gallons/hour, you should be fine. The Fluval FX5 offers 600 gallons/hour, which is more than 8 times the volume of the tank per hour, so that's a lot of water current. Be sure to use the taps to reduce the water flow if your fish seem to be pushed about. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Heavy breathing at top of tank... And something crawling on class

Thank you very much for your time. Joanne
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Water change gone wrong? ... Mis-stocked, untested, no rdg....    9/13/11
Hi, crew. My name is Jenny, an owner of a ten gallon aquarium.
I've already looked at a couple of things about water change problems, but none seem to be like mine.
Well, I woke up one morning to see that my panda platy, marble angelfish, and fantail
<Whoa Jen! Are these all in the ten together? Not compatible temperament or environmental wise... Please search, read at least on WWM re the needs of these three species>
were acting strangely (swimming more than usual, going in Zig Zag patterns along the glass) and it's unusual because they usually lull around, pretty laid back, swimming comfortably. Now they look really stressed.
I have two broods of baby platy in a breeder net and they started acting weird about 4-5 days before this. They would dash, stop, dash, stop, am into the net, and repeat. There are also baby snails that I keep in a container floating in the top, from my original rams horn snail that laid eggs.
<Something amiss here water quality...>
Yes, I know what you're thinking: way overstocked and a cold water fish in warm water. Well, I do water changes every other week, and the fantail does fine in the water (I keep it at 72-74) I've also heard angels live longer in cooler water....? I'm also planning on getting an outdoor pond for the fantail to go in, maybe a couple more to keep him company.
<Good... soon>
Anyway, well my platy started losing some of its color: around where her brain is located and below her gills, the shimmery golden color has faded, so it looks pale, almost human skin colored. No other changes were present except for my goldfish losing a bit of orange on its tail and the fish swimming rapidly.
I had to skip the water changes for two or three weeks because I went on vacation and left feeding the fish to my friend. I thought maybe there was an ammonia spike,
<Me too... did you measure for such?>
so I changed about 20 percent of the water. Nothing changed, so I did another water change the following day. Again, nothing changed.
But, then my Pleco and snail started to get a little sluggish. I saw my Pleco at the bottom last night, struggling to breathe, almost. I waved a chopstick in front of him and he didn't move. He only moved when I poked his tail. This afternoon, I found him dead. Maybe the snail is next?
The snail and Pleco probably got sick because I used water that wasn't cycled through. But the fish haven't changed, an I don't know what to do.
I've run out of water testing chemicals, too.
Do you think you can help?
<Only you can... test kits for water quality, a bit of reading...:
Thank you for your time,
<Search, read... write us back if you have further questions. Bob Fenner>
Re Water change gone wrong? 9/13/11

Hi, Bob.
I also forgot, if it's needed, the type of filter I have: Aqua-Tech 5-15 gallon Power filter. It's one of those "good, but not good enough" filters.
But all of the good ones I see at my local petstore are either too big or way too pricey.... even for just a ten gallon.
Well anyway, it looks like the snail is picking back up on speed a little bit. so he might be okay.
<I do hope so>
I know that my aquarium is WAY overstocked. But right now, I can't say I'll be getting a pond very soon. Right now, it's getting close to winter and the outdoor projects are closing for this summer. It hasn't gotten much cooler, but by the time I have the pond set up, it will be too cold for the fantail, unless I let the water get a bit cooler in the tank to "prepare him" which isn't a good idea for the angelfish and platy.
The fastest I can get this pond ready is if I start it in March and have it ready by the beginning of May. The most I can do right now is just keep doing (cycled) water changes every week.
But I probably won't get another Pleco. The snail does just as good of a job as the Pleco did. And the snail won't stop eating my plants, so he'll have more to eat.
Plus, the angelfish and platy do fine together. They both eat only as much as they want and the goldfish eats what's uneaten. My platy actually went to attack the angelfish when I first added her and she went at her like a cat after a mouse. After that, they didn't bother each other.
Also, my sister is going to stop by Wal-Mart before she gets home from work, so she can get some water test strips instead of chemicals. I can see if the ammonia and nitrates are high and if the ph is where it's supposed to be (probably not)
But so far, only the snail is getting better. I'm planning on moving the baby snails to the pond I'm going to set up and sell all of the baby platy, except for one, which is deformed and needs special care.
Also, is ammonia what's causing the fading color on my platy?
<Could be... or nitrate accumulation... or...>
Only the adult platy has it, though, so I can't be sure.
I'd be very grateful if you have any other tips or recommendations.
<Sorry... but I can't assess how much you know currently to aid you in your personal odyssey/adventure in learning in this interest. My best direction is to have you read from the beginning of WWM's Freshwater SubWeb:
Re: Water change gone wrong? 9/13/11   9/16/11

Ah... I guess I completely missed on how big these fish get (platy can actually get four inches long???)
<What? I've rarely seen one reach about half this>
Well, I guess I should be planning to get a bigger tank.... I could always make the ten gallon one into a quarantine tank, since the only other tank options I have are two one gallons and a plastic jug...
<Too small for sure>
Not to pester you or anything, but I actually have a couple more questions.
<Not a bother Jen>
Have fish ever gotten stressed by too much tank light?
<Assuredly yes>
I just came up to my room a couple hours ago and the baby platy weren't stressed like they usually are. Right when I turned on the light, they started bouncing all around the net. After I turned it off, they relaxed.
Is that normal?
Also, is it okay to do a 20% water change with uncycled water? I think that since I did a 30% water change without cycling, it stressed the snails and Pleco.
<Some times/places new/tap/mains water is "too different", has too much sanitizer, too different water quality in some aspects to be safely used w/o storing ahead of time>
Lastly, I remember reading one of your forums and it said that adding food to the water is good to start the cycling process.
<Yes... a bit, pinch of dried food daily...>
Well, does it work all the time?
<Eventually, yes>
I mean, what if the food just creates too much ammonia, or the bacteria needed to break down the ammonia doesn't develop?
<Again... time going by... heals all wounds, wounds all heals>
Thinking about it (to me, it seems like I'm thinking too hard) would it be okay to just be careful and change 10-20% of the water with uncycled water?
I've reduced feeding to once a day (used to feed twice with small amounts of food) and I always do my water changes with a gravel vacuum, so I get some waste out, too. But the vacuum sucks out so much water at a time that I don't have enough water to clean ALL of the gravel, and I only get about a quarter of the waste out. So I might make a homemade filter that sits at the bottom and cleans more of the waste out. I'll also add more live plants because I read online that they help reduce nitrite/nitrate levels.
<Do half... a side each time... look to getting a smaller diameter tubing siphon...>
Anyway, thank you for showing me those forums, Bob. They really helped me a lot. :)
<Ah good>
Thank you for your time, Jenny.
<And you for sharing BobF>

Dead Algae Eater Mystery   9/5/11
My son set up a 10-gallon tank about 6 months ago and started it with 1 orange goldfish and 1 white goldfish. About 6 weeks ago he added a Koi.
<... too small a volume... You haven't followed directions in searching ahead of writing... Read here:
3 weeks later, we noticed algae starting to build up on the front side of the tank and added an algae eater.
<... incompatible... again, ignorance>
We have sought advice from our favorite pet
store before adding any new fish to make sure we were not adding any roommates that wouldn't get along. The only issue we have had was with the Koi - it had some constipation problems, apparently, and spent a few days at the top of the tank bloated and swimming on its side until my son quarantined it and treated it with Epsom salts.
>... why?<
It now gets green peas as part of its regular diet. 2 days ago, my son noticed that he had not seen the algae eater, but was not terribly concerned as it usually hides in a log we have in one corner of the tank. He began looking around in the tank for the algae eater, and found him dead near the filter. Apparently, he had begun to rot (or was being eaten) as portions of his body were totally gone.
Do you have any idea what happened to the algae eater (disease, starvation, prey)?
<... yes; search WWM>
My son wants to go get another algae eater but I don't think that's a good idea until we find out what happened to the first one.
Does the apparent "rotting" pose any health issues to the other 3 fish?
<... yes>
Any other suggestions you can offer about this fish tank, in general or specifically, would also be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Teresa H.
Other info: Filter: Penguin BioWheel 100
Food: TetraFin Goldfish Crisps
Water was changed out (50%) about 1 week before the algae eater was found dead and immediately after it was found Ammonia and Ph levels have tested ok
<Good. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dead Algae Eater Mystery   9/5/11
This comment is directed to a Mr. Fenner, who replied to my email requesting some assistance in the form of information. Mr. Fenner, I did search the site - for over an hour and a half - as instructed and could not find, on my own, the information you referenced.
<Oh? Oh... an hour and a half... and still no understanding that a ten gallon tank is unsuitable for even one goldfish, let alone two and a Koi...>
The tone of your reply was insulting and I suppose I should apologize for taking up what you obviously feel is your valuable time with my insufferable ignorance.
I consulted with the owner of my local pet store
<Oh, then they're the ignorant ones>
prior to adding new fish and before treating the Koi in order to be as informed as possible. Working with the public over the past 25 years has taught me a few things, Mr. Fenner, one of which is that if you find the people whom are seeking your help to be as asinine and bothersome as you so aptly communicated in your reply, you may want to consider activities that do not put you in contact with those people. Oh, by the way, thank you for taking the time to send me a reply virtually dripping with disdain and sarcasm but with marginal informative value.
<Certainly welcome. B>

I need help!!!   9/3/11
I am a newbie at the aquarium thing.
<Ah, well, do be sure to buy and read a good aquarium book for beginners. Websites can be good, bad or indifferent; it's hard for beginners to know whether a site was written by an expert or not.>
It started when my kids got goldfish from the fair about a month ago. Needless to say, I knew nothing about tank cycling. They quickly became ill and in spite of doing countless research on the computer, I was unable to save them. So, that left me with a 1 gallon tank, a 5 gallon tank, lots of decorations and no fish.
<Which is fine, because neither 1 gallon nor 5 gallons is really suitable for fishkeeping.>
I did a ton of research and decided to start all over with tank cycling. I bought a 10 gallon tank and two female Mickey mouse platy.
<Hmm'¦ not a perfect start; 10 gallons is difficult to stock, being smaller than we'd recommend for beginners. Furthermore, Platies do need a bit more space than this, 15 gallons at minimum. They get quite chunky, and the males can be very aggressive. You'll often buy females that are pregnant, and so you soon end up with fry, adding to the load on the filter. Better to have a bigger tank. Virgin females are the ideal, because these won't produce fry and aren't aggressive.>
This time I wanted to do everything right to the letter to make sure I was cycling properly. Well, they have been in there 6 days now and once again, I find myself in a situation that I was not prepared for because one of them had babies. Actually, I'm thinking even both of them did because I some of them look smaller than others?
But, I did more research and found out that they will eat the babies and I freaked out when I watched one of them chasing one of the babies.
<Can, does happen, but you'll have dozens of fry anyway, so losing one or two may not be a crisis. Stocking the tank with floating plants (Indian Fern/Water Sprite is ideal) helps because the fry instinctively hide away for the first couple of weeks.>
Since I am only 6 days into the cycling process, I haven't even taken a sample of my water to the pet store for testing yet because the information I read said after about a week to take a sample in.
<Don't understand this. In the first week, you should see ammonia rise, followed a day or two behind by the nitrite. Ammonia typically peaks between the first and second week, then goes down to zero. Nitrite peaks around week two to three, then goes down to zero. By week 4 to 6 you should have a cycled aquarium. Until week 4 (at minimum) do 10-20% water changes every 1-2 days to keep ammonia and nitrite as low as possible. Alongside these do 20% water changes once per week, and get in the habit of doing 20% water changes every 1-2 weeks thereafter. Until week 4, feed minimally; a tiny pinch (a portion twice the size of the eye of the fish is ample) every couple days is fine. After week 4, you can feed twice per day.>
Now, I'm not sure what to do. I will take a sample of that tank in today, but I am thinking the only way to save the babies is to remove the adults. Is this correct?
<No; floating plants help, or else put a breeding trap in the tank and scoop the baby fish into there. After 2-3 weeks they'll be big enough to set loose without risk of being harmed.>
I will have to put the adults in the 5 gallon tank I had, which I know is not ideal, but I can hardly see the babies because they hide well in the rocks and they are clear/whitish like the mom(s) so I can't really take them out at this point. I am terrified that if I remove the bigger fish, the cycling process will not complete and I will lose the babies but if I leave the adults in the tank, they will eat the babies. Also, I am terrified that if I move the adults to the 5 gallon tank, they might get sick from the shock and from having to start the cycle all over again.
<Would leave everyone in the 10 gallon tank. Better to deal with one problem tank than two problem tanks!>
Realistically, I don't want to lose ANY of the fish but I just don't know what the best thing to do here is. I honestly tried to learn all I could about cycling before I began and even researched which fish are hearty enough to survive the process and which fish are compatible with my tank size and filter size and with even each other, but nothing I read and nothing I can find covered this. I just want to do the best thing to ensure everything is ok. PLEASE give me some advice if you can.
Thank you!
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Question about angelfish in a community tank... Mis stocked, RO water use... reading      8/30/11
First off I want to start by saying GREAT website. It has been very helpful. I have a few questions about angelfish and adding a few other fish to my tank.
Background: I have a 5 gallon
<... you read on WWM? This is way too small a volume for Angels>
Fluval Chi tank with a small heater. I used bottled water (Reverse Osmosis at a 7.0 PH) to setup the tank,
<... fishes won't live in this>
I also top off the tank with this water when it gets low. I used Nutrafin Cycle to setup the tank and I add a weekly dose.
<This product has inconsistent performance... see WWM re>
 I don't use any type of water conditioner because I use only RO water. The first fish I bought 3 weeks ago was a small angelfish. The angelfish has been happy in his new home for the most part.
My problem: The angelfish is constantly hanging out by the heater unless I bump up the water temperature for the tank to 84 - 86 degrees its been acting like this since day 1. If the temperature is in that high range the angelfish acts and swims around like normal. As soon as the temperature drops to 81 or below he's back to hovering at the heater. A few days ago I added 1 balloon molly
<... incompatible>
and 4 Neon's. I set the temp at 78 - 80 before adding any new fish (84 - 86 seems too high for most fish). The molly and only one of the Neons were instantly unhappy. The molly was pretty much grounded at the bottom of the tank not even trying to swim unless pestered (it would then move around the floor a bit). The one neon was swimming in circles like he had a broken fin (probably damaged from the manhandling at the store). I left the tank at 78 - 80, then went home. Came in the next day and the balloon molly and the injured neon were dead. Based on this I was worried about the angelfish (still hanging by the heater) so I bumped the temp back to 84 - 86.
Everything seemed fine that day. I gave a big feeding at the end of the day and went home for the weekend, came back in on Monday and I lost 2 more out of the 4 Neons. I am now down to the one angelfish and 1 neon. Sigh...
<... Read on WWM re the species you list, their requirements... And re setting up a system, water quality. What you have won't work. Bob Fenner>
Observations: To me it seems like water quality is fine because the angelfish has been living for 3 weeks and from what I read they are most temperamental to water conditions I think PH stays between 7.2 and 7.8. Why is the angelfish only happy in higher temps? Why did the balloon molly ground itself then die? Why did I lose the 2 Neons over the weekend?
Thank you for your help!

question about Ich....  8/27/11
Hello Team,
We recently set up a 20G tank.... we have 2 Albino Cory catfish, 2 frogs, 1 clown Pleco... we had Sailfin Mollies.. the 1st one passed within 2 weeks of acquisition... we think it was because we separated him from the female when we put her in the birthing net..he passed within 2 days of separation with no prior sign of illness (guess he died of a broken heart - LOL);
<Uh, no. Mollies are difficult to keep at the best of times. Water chemistry for something like Corydoras isn't the same as Mollies want. The first is a soft water fish, the second a hard water fish. On top of that, Mollies are most reliably kept in slightly brackish water. For beginners, they're an extremely poor choice. Nets are death traps, too; they're for confining fry when you find them, not for the adults, despite the marketing.>
the 2nd one died shortly after giving birth to 40+ fry (we think the birth took it's toll on her because she became listless and then stopped eating.
The last one died on Tuesday night. I suspect it was either whirling or Ich...not sure since I am new to this.
<Likely neither. If you set up this tank recently, it's not a fit home for Mollies. They MUST be kept in a mature tank, and that means one 2-3 months old.>
I suspected Ich because after reading many forums on your site I noticed Ich can be brought on by temperature fluctuations.
<Whitespot is not "brought on" by cool water as such. It's a disease newly bought fish often carry at a low level. Their immune systems may keep it in check. But when exposed to poor environmental conditions, like too-cold water, or poor water quality, their immune system suffers.>
the pH was fine (normal range)
<For what? Now, beginners often think about pH as the be-all and end-all.
In fact it's relatively unimportant. What matters is hardness, the amount of minerals dissolved in the water. It so happens that when the dissolved mineral concentration is high, the pH is high as well, but there's only a very loose association here. It's quite possible to have soft water (water with few minerals) and still have a high pH, because chemicals like ammonia will raise the pH. So instead find out the hardness. For Corydoras and Clown Plecs, that needs to be something like 5-20 degrees dH; for Mollies, it MUST be at least 15 degrees dH. The pH range for Corydoras and Clown Plecs is really anything between 6 and 8, but Mollies MUST be at least 7.5.>
the water was between 78-82 C
<I assume you mean 78-82 F, as 78-82 C would be almost boiling! In any event, far too hot for Corydoras! They're best between 72 and 75 F. Mollies are happier slightly warmer, 77-82 F. As you can by now, there's a gap between what Mollies want and what your other fish want. That's why you'll NEVER see me recommend Mollies for either beginners or "easy" community tanks.>
and the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are all 0.
<Really? In a new aquarium? How was the tank cycled?>
I suspected Ich because I noticed 2 small cysts on his lower body one of which was just under the side fin... but, unlike the picture on the link http://www.fishchannel.com/fish-health/freshwater-conditions/ich.aspx (as recommended by your forum),
<Cool, I wrote that!>
he did not have glowing spots all over. Was it in fact Ich?
<Likely not. Ick is extremely obvious, like the fish has been dipped in salt.>
I also suspected whirlings because at one point he was swimming in circles and upside down and all around...he was also swimming vertically for a bit.
Then he became listless and would go with the bubbles or sink down below.
We would tap on the glass and he would liven up and swim ok....then start the dance all over.
<No, not Whirling Disease. This disease gets in via certain live foods, usually Tubifex, and it's hardly seen in aquarium fish. Simply because a fish "whirls" doesn't mean much, because dying fish whirl too.>
I read in one of your forums to use aquarium salt to treat the ich.. so we did... it seemed to improve for about a day...and one of the cysts seemed to have disappeared (???)...then it all began again and he perished soon after.
In conclusion, can you confirm if it was either Ich or Whirlings? and if so..can the rest of the community also be afflicted? They do not (currently) appear to be ill. As a precaution we did a 20-25% water change and cleaned all the artifacts in the tank with hot water. We also vacuumed the bottom when we did the water change....
We were considering getting a couple of angels to replace the mollies since we have had no luck keeping this breed alive.
<Hmm, Angels are delicate in their way. Do not, Do Not, DO NOT add new fish for at least 6 weeks after the last death of a fish. You need time to appraise the situation and make sure the other fish aren't stressed or sick. I would do nothing for at least another month. Minimise feeding, do regular water changes, 25% a week, at least, and ideally 10% every day for the next 2 weeks. Keep tabs on nitrite; in a new tank this will rise up to a peak about 1-2 weeks after being set up, and then drop down to zero a week or two thereafter. When that happens, your tank is cycled.>
<Do read:
Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

My fish, FW (over) stocking    8/23/11
I have 2 dinosaur bichirs, 2 gouramis,
2 Bala sharks,
<These need a tank twice this size, or more.>
a red tailed shark,
a Pleco,
<Barely adequately maintained in 55 gallons.>
and a African brown knife fish. I have a 55 gallon tank. Will a black ghost knife be compatible.
<No. This tank is FAR overstocked already. Black Ghost Knifefish need exquisitely good water quality, including lots of water current and crystal clear water clarity. There's no way you have the right conditions in this tank. If you had a 200 gallon tank, and you told me you had water turnover rates 8-10 times the volume of the tank per hour, and did 20-25% water changes every week, then maybe this mix of fish could work. Ask yourself this: How many adult Black Ghost Knifefish have you ever seen? By far the majority are killed by their keepers within a year or purchase.>
My tank also has plenty of hiding holes. Also how can I introduce hand feeding to my bichirs and knife fish.
<Bichirs hunt by smell, so placing one or two small pieces of tilapia fillet or an earthworm in the aquarium when the lights are out should work fine. Knifefish can be a hassle to feed, but again, they're nocturnal feeders, and to some degree hunt by smell too, so bloodworms and other meaty prey should be consumed readily enough at night. Neither of these species is likely to become tame enough to hand-feed, but you can try, using long forceps. Hands tend to scare away fish, but they ignore long forceps.>
Also what other fish may be compatible.
<Nothing, your tank is overstocked and needs upgrading and/or removal of fish. I don't know who told you they're work in 55 gallons but they were insanely optimistic!>
Please reply to my email and you alls website
Thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy/Glo Fish Care    6/24/11
Good Afternoon,
<Hello Austin,>
I currently have a five gallon tank which I had cycled for six weeks with three ghost shrimp, a Cory catfish, and a Glo fish.
<Much too small for these fish. So above all else, their small "world" is killing them. Do read here:
You cannot kept Corydoras or Danios (which is what Glofish are) singly; they are schooling fish. A group of 5 Corydoras would need at least 10 gallons and really 15 gallons upwards, and a school of 6 Danios, the minimum number of them to be happy and not to nip tankmates, would need a tank at least 60 cm/2 feet long given their boisterousness and quite large size, so that's a 20 gallon tank or bigger.>
I use AquaSafe with bio extract to treat the water. I also do 10-20% water changes weekly.
Last week, I added three male guppy fish to the tank as the water quality was stable. All three guppies seemed very active and healthy when I bought them and continued to thrive once I added them to the tank. I did not do a water change that week, as I did not want to further stress the fish and their environment.
<Male Guppies are neither peaceful nor sociable, and in a tank as small as this, they will bully one another. Read:
Today, I noticed one of the guppies was hiding behind my rock formation and is refusing to eat. He was acting normal yesterday (eating, moving around, etc). He will swim out from behind the rock every few hours, but not very far. It is enough to observe his behavior. I looked him over and did not notice any scale issues, no laboured breathing, no problems swimming, or anything that was abnormal except the lack of movement around the tank and not feeding. The other two guppies are still acting okay. Even when I offered a few blood worms, he did not feed.
<Bullying, stress, too-small tank'¦>
Thinking it might have to do with the water, I did about a 40-50% change of water, once again treating it, making sure the water temperature didn't change (I keep it at a constant 80 degrees), etc. I tested the water and everything was relatively normal, The nitrates were a little on the high side of 40 ppm and the pH was at an 8.
<Maintaining good water quality in a 5-gallon tank is extremely hard.>
The rest of the inhabitants of the tank seem completely normal and are active and eating, but the one guppy is continuing to hide. What could be wrong with him? What can I do to make sure that he, and all the rest of my creatures, are at optimal health? I give them both freeze dried blood worms and tropical flakes and they also eat any algae that is present on the rock.
Thank you,
<Austin, things won't work in a tank this small. It's the size of the tank that's killing them. Return these animals and choose something like a Betta or some African Dwarf Frogs that would be happy in a 5-gallon tank. Alternatively, upgrade to at least 15 and preferably 20 gallons. Do further understand that fish are living animals with specific needs, and you can't pick-and-choose one of everything and hope they'll get along -- they won't! Be sympathetic to their needs, accept their minimum requirements in terms of tank size and companions of their own kind, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Three-Spot Gourami's "swollen stomach" and a "big red wound" on its right side.    6/16/11
Hello Crew,
Your team has done a wonderful job of helping fish enthusiasts. Now I needed help regarding my three spot Gourami. My fish has a big red wound on its right side and its stomach is swollen.
<Yikes... I see this in your pix>
Firstly around 6 months ago, there was just a little red mark that remained whatsoever I did, and was constant (neither healing nor deteriorating).Till then I had two Three spot gouramis. But then one of my Gourami got a sort of pop eye and it ultimately
resulted in its death. I used Epsom Salt as advised by you but still its condition did not improved.
<... the environment...>
Now my this Gourami is suffering from I don't know what kind (bacterial, fungal or viral) of infection.
<Likely secondarily bacterial...>
My aquarium stock
1 Three-Spot Gourami
1 Butterfly Koi
<Needs much more room>
4 Indian Roofed Turtles
<Need to be housed in their own system>
2 Silver Dollar
1 Iridescent Shark
<Misplaced here and almost everywhere employed in the trade. See WWM re... grows to about four feet in the wild>
1 sucker-mouth Catfish
And the temperature is maintained around 25-27 Degree Celsius(78.8 Degree Fahrenheit). The tank has a capacity of 175 litres.
I have installed two internal filters that have a turnover of about 1800L/h.
And I change 50% of the water in about one or two weeks.
<I'd change half this amount every week>
The infected Gourami always remains in the top corners of the tank without any movement although it eats food happily. I have tried using the anti-bacterial medicine but still there has been no improvement.
<Likely the total bacteria count in this system is very high... a matter of the amount of life, foods, wastes...>
I feed them freeze dried blood worms, pellets and turtle food. They are also given boiled peas in the winter season. I have these fish and turtles since the past 2.7 years and I really do not wish to lose them. I have attached the pictures so that you can be more sure of what kind of infection is this. The first picture shows the two fish together and the last picture shows the overall tank and the second picture is of the sick fish. Please do not go by the date of the last picture as my camera's date was not set. And I am sorry for sending such huge files but I can't find the option in my camera to make them of smaller size.
Thank You
<Do take to heart my comments re moving, separating your livestock here.
What you have is an untenable, crowded mix. Bob Fenner>

Re: Three-Spot Gourami's "swollen stomach" and a "big red wound" on its right side.
But Sir,
What is the solution to heal my fish? The environment in which I treated my fish was Temperature:31 Degree Celsius
Place: Bucket
<I want to be clear, and unfortunately blunt w/ you. There is little chance of this fish's recovery under the present circumstance. IT needs to have the turtles, carp and Pangasiid cat removed immediately... in other words, only improving the environment will forestall its loss. BobF>
Re: Three-Spot Gourami's "swollen stomach" and a "big red wound" on its right side.
Sir I will surely do what you said but I want to tell you that these fish are quite small.
<... Nalin, you sent an image of all in your tank. They're not small, but Bonsai'd... being poisoned/dwarfed by their own waste concentration>
So will they still cause a problem?
<...? Already are... The Trichogaster you wrote about...>
And can you please suggest that where can I send them.
<To other, larger systems>
Also which fish will be suitable with Gourami ?
<Please learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM...>
Do you think that turtles might have caused this damage?
<Possibly directly, assuredly a contributing cause indirectly. B>
Thank You very much
Re: Three-Spot Gourami's "swollen stomach" and a "big red wound" on its right side.    6/16/11
Thank You sir for your valuable response. I couldn't use the search tool because the page said that my computer was sending automatic traffic and that Google was sorry about that.
<Sorry re... we are trying out a new search tool... and it IS broken>
And as you said I will find a big home for them.
<Ah, good. Thank you, BobF

Differential diagnosis of mechanical fin injury, nipping, and disease    4/30/11
I've searched this site, other sites on the net, and many books, but I've found only a few vague guidelines to this question, so I'm wondering if anyone can lay out some specific characteristics for distinguishing between mechanical injury to fins from tank contents, nipping, bacterial fin rot, and fungus infection. Thanks! I love this site.
<You can't be 100% sure about the source of fin damage. But generally, biting or fin-nipping produces clean, oval or circular perforations to the fins. At the edges of the fins these will be usually be semicircular. Such fin damage looks clean and, under good environmental conditions, generally heals by itself with no need for medicating. Healthy fish can prevent bacteria infecting damaged fins. To some degree, many fish *expect* to get nipped periodically, and wild fish have evolved strategies to deal with this, perhaps most famously the eye-spots on the caudal peduncle of many fish that confuse fin-predators over which end of the target fish to aim for (Oscars have these for example, to deal with characin fin-predators including Piranhas). Finrot is caused by bacterial infection of the fins, typically because the fish is stressed somehow. Poor environmental quality and lack of the rights sorts of food are the two most common reasons fish lose their healthy immune system. Initially fins develop white patches or specks where opportunistic bacteria have entered the fin membrane. These usually become pink as blood vessels become blocked, and eventually it's the lack of blood supply that causes the fin membrane to die, hence the tears and holes in the fin. If you see both dead white areas and holes in the fins, then Finrot is probable. Other common symptoms include bloodiness to the fin, lack of vigour in the fish more generally, and very often unusual behaviours such as shyness, lack of appetite, etc. Fungal infections are very distinctive thanks to the white hyphae that resemble cotton wool. They rarely occur on healthy fish, but commonly follow on from fin damage (include Finrot) in water where the environmental quality is low. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Differential diagnosis of mechanical fin injury, nipping, and disease    4/30/11
Neale - Thank you! That was very helpful. I'd seen hints of most of the things you said, but I like hearing these rules explicitly stated by an expert.
It would be a pity to misdiagnose something so important and treat ineffectually.
<Glad to help. Yes, it's important to get the situation right prior to medicating, but note that some medications treat both Finrot and Fungus, and used appropriately, these shouldn't normally cause harm to healthy fish, even if that fish doesn't have either Finrot or Fungus. That said, some fish are more sensitive to medications than others, so when it comes to Stingrays, Puffers, Eels, and so on, holding fire until you're fairly sure there's a bacterial or fungal infection is definitely worthwhile.
Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy/new tank help pls. Mis-stocked sm. FW     4/8/11
About two years plus ago, I and a boyfriend at the time had a small hexagonal tank (approx 7 gal US) and we had raised guppies, with other freshwater fish (tetras of some kind, small) and an invertebrate (about 2 ghost shrimp, and one crab) the guppies were awesome for the first 5 months, as were everyone else (also a Kuhli loach). But then his heater went bad and fried all of my fish. =[
<Hmm'¦ well, in 7 gallons something was bound to go wrong eventually. Do understand that, among other things, sensibly-sized tanks take a long time to "boil" so a broken heater is easier to spot and remove.>
The question I have, is that that first tank, we had set up the A.M of purchasing fish, introduced them quite readily, and all was okay. (the heater was introduced later on when I realized 2 of my female guppies were pregnant-little eyeballs and such) They produced fry, but the filter we had at the time was not ideal. (my loach had disappeared before the appearance of fry, and I cleaned the tank carefully -no more than 35%- twice that month, looking for him, and found him later going crazy in the bottom of the filter) and then the heater went "bad".
<Again, do understand the aquarium you had likely caused some of these problems, and you should reflect on that. Loaches don't get sucked into filters, but if they're weak or dead, they'll get sucked in. So finding a fish inside a filter is more likely to mean the filter was doing its job normally, but that the fish died for some other reason that needs explaining.>
My question, I suppose, leads to now I have started a 10 gallon tank, with a 7 in (?) bubble bar, a decent Regent water filter (that I had to put a sponge on the bottom of the intake to prevent fatalities, which I experienced two days ago within 20 min.s of introducing fish).
<Do start reading here:
Now, the first group of fish, which I admit was larger than I usually introduce, especially into a new tank, all died within 8 hours of me last viewing them. They ate heartily, breathing was quite fine (not stressed, or over-exerted) and the tank had be established only 8 hours. I know that's a short time, but what I found in the morning was quite sad. My shrimp were okay, the crab was absolutely fine,
<A Red-Claw Crab by any chance? Or a Fiddler Crab? Both are amphibious, brackish water species that do not last long in freshwater aquaria. Red-Claw Crabs also tend to be quite opportunistically predatory.>
but all of my fish were dead! I know they want a tank to be established for a couple weeks, but that is something a little foreign to me- that first tank wasn't required to cycle, and everything in it was new. I've tried to search your site, but I'm a little short on excess time of going through soo many helpful things.
After my losses, I drove the hour to get my fish replaced, and came home approx. 2 hours after they had been placed in bags. 1 male, 3 female fancy guppies,
<Would not recommend Guppies in 10 gallons; males far too aggressive, and the females too big.>
2 Bloodfin tetras.
<Does not belong in this tank at all. A hardy, excellent species when kept in groups of 6+, but needs 20 gallons.>
I had one female who was having problems, and I slowly introduced her to some of the tank water, along with water out of her bag, but I believe she had a mouth fungus (swimming vertically, mouth always at the surface). I got her because she had a good size and color quality, but didn't notice that she had a mouth "issue". She passed away shortly thereafter, which I was a little upset about. I love any living animal, and I LOVE watching fish to relax and enjoy their antics.
<Do differentiate loving animals with doing good by them. Animals require certain things, and my impression here is your heart has overruled your head a couple times or three. Spend a little time with a good aquarium book. Do read:
We do have some favourite books:
I think you'd find Complete Aquarium by Peter Scott and A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium by Gina Sandford particularly helpful. The first goes through lots of themed communities and suggests rocks, plants and fish that work together; the second is an "ABC" book that goes through each step of the process, and has some good ideas on community fish.>
My tank was very cloudy this afternoon after returning home. I took my shrimp out, and my crabs ( I bought another crab because I really enjoy watching them), and they were fine before and after the water exchange. I also added some aquarium salt,
<Will stress the Tetras, as these are soft water fish.>
but not as much as they asked for, for a 10 gal tank.
<The devil's in the detail. Not enough salt to help the Crab, but too much for the Tetras. This is why you need to research each species carefully, and select accordingly.>
I'm about 1/2 tbsp short, but I didn't want to over-do things.
<You're missing the point. A fish needs a particular set of conditions. You're either providing them or you're not. If you aren't, even if you're halfway towards them, you aren't really helping. It's a bit like being pregnant: you either are or you aren't -- there's no "almost"!>
I read somewhere that guppies do thrive in a little bit of brackish water, but I don't want to hurt them right away.
<Hmm'¦ Guppies don't need brackish water at all, but marine aquarium salt mix can be very useful for providing the hard, basic water they need without too much fuss; 3-5 grammes/litre should be ample.>
What I believe Might be going on is my tank is now cycling, but when I brought my dead fishes back, I had a separate baggie of water to be tested. Everything came out ok (which is hard for me to absolutely be perfect on. All I could grasp was that everything was neutral, and nothing was too high or too low is what I got out of the person at PetSmart). she said the water was fine, but that it might be too "new" for fish to be introduced to.
<If she's talking about "old" or "new" water she's about 30 years behind the science. Yes, an aquarium needs up to 6 weeks to cycle, assuming you provide an ammonia source to get the filter matured (daily pinches of fish flake for example). So yes, an immature aquarium won't have adequate filtration and will be too "new". But the water itself doesn't need to age -- you can and should do regular water changes of about 20% every week.>
Understandable, but still puzzling.
Right now, I have two small red crabs, and 2 ghost shrimp (one MIA as they do so well)
<Shrimp = Crab food.>
and the temp is around 78*F up to 80*F. The water is murky, and I did do a 25% water exchange as I saw that that was recommended.
Plenty of (fake) plants in the tank, the crabs are quite active and naughty (a little bit of a claw fight, along with hoarding some crab pellets) but quite lively and what I find to be a normal behavior.
<Well, normal in the sense of two animals tearing each other apart over territory.>
I'm just very leery in introducing my guppies. Being as this is truly my first "large" tank,
<Not even close to sensible, let along large. For a beginner, especially one who loves animals, 20 gallons is the ABSOLUTE minimum.>
I would love some advice--my new fish are still in their bag, but with a small airstone bubbling away for them. They didn't have a great appetite, but I don't blame them one bit. [I'd be upset being stuck in a baggie with nothing pretty to look at]>
I also added some Tetra EasyBalance to the water, to help with the cloudiness without upsetting the bio-thingy levels. [ahh, I'm so scientific it hurts]. I know it doesn't help to add more, but I believe that this stuff shouldn't hurt too much. Any comments would be Awesome for me!
--Sincerely, Beej
<Have tried to provide comments, though whether awesome or not will depend on your point of view. But I am trying to be helpful here, despite seeing much wrong and much more likely to go wrong. Do, please, read, rather than spending money. Go slow. Mature your tank with some Cherry Shrimps or something, and maybe add a few Endler's Guppies after a few weeks. These will provide colour and activity, without much need for fancy water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.>

Hello! 3/30/11
Dear Crew,
Thank you so much for your time first of all! Your web site is great.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a small problem...my male Blue Dwarf Gouramis is a little sick. I established the 20 gallon aquarium that is the fish's home about 5 months ago. His companions are 2 angelfish, a female gouramis, a Jack Dempsey,
<Seriously? You do realise that this species is psychotically aggressive once sexually mature, and needs much more than 20 gallons simply to be kept on its own?
Would not be surprised if the JD isn't damaging or stressing the other fish already.>
and zig-zag spiny eel.
<Very difficult to maintain.
Needs live or wet-frozen foods; must not be kept in tanks with gravel. Most Spiny Eels starve to death or are otherwise killed by their owners.>
I have plenty of plants also. I just added the male gouramis and his female about 3-4 weeks ago. She is absolutely fine, he started getting a white spot on his lower lip and the inside of his mouth was turning red, and he was just laying on the bottom about a week and a half ago. About a week ago I transferred him to a 2.5 gallon with my male guppies and added aquarium salt and Wardley Essentials Ick Away for fungus and external parasites.
<This medication, like all medications, is toxic. Misuse, as here, will make a bad situation worse. Plus, 2.5 gallons isn't an aquarium, it's a vase. Suitable for flowers, yes, but not fish, and poor conditions in here will be stressing the Gouramis, and certainly making things worse.>
About 4 drops every three days. It seems as though he is feeling much better, constantly swimming up and down the glass
<'¦trying to get out'¦>
and he is eating again, but the white spot isn't totally gone (the redness has subsided some), and the top of his head is a shade or two darker that the rest of his body. He has colored stools after he eats, but sometimes the a pale white and stringy, but not as often anymore.
<Likely bacterial; treat for Finrot and "Mouth Fungus" (a bacterial infection, Columnaris).>
I feed flakes, dried baby shrimp, and blood worms for treats, and I checked the perimeters of the tank and they are all good too.
<Rather than saying they're "good", tell me what they are. For example, the right water chemistry for Guppies would be hard and alkaline, and that's the wrong water chemistry for Dwarf Gouramis. So one or other species will be unhappy here. Likewise, the conditions Jack Dempseys need, hard and alkaline water, are the opposite to what Angelfish want, soft and acidic. So again, something isn't right here. Please, give me the actual numbers from your test kits, not your interpretations of them.>
So I guess my question is this.....Is that the proper medicine to treat this with, because I believe that it is a fungus of some kind?
<Yes; see above. Also understand this "disease" is environmental -- caused by the conditions in the tank. Review, and act accordingly.>
And can I treat the tank every three days until it is gone, or will prolonged meds stress out the fish?
<You can do a 50% water change after completing one course of medications, and then safely switch to another (or for that matter, a second course of the same medication, should that be required). Remember, carbon removes medications, so always remove carbon -- if you use it, it's largely worthless in freshwater tanks -- before using medications.>
And when can I return him to his normal community tank?
<Dwarf Gouramis are not recommended for community tanks. They are a very poor quality species these days. Avoid.>
Thank you for your time, and if you have any suggestions or tips, I would love to hear them! Jamie A.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Too many creatures, not enough tank..  2/24/11
First of all let me start out by saying I am an idiot
and I did not research at all before going on my aquarium spur of the moment purchases.
<I see.>
A friend of mine gave me a 1.5 gallon tank that previously housed a goldfish and gold mystery snail.
<Much too small.>
I took it home and got aquarium happy and ended up purchasing a male Betta, 3 ghost shrimps and 4 snails (whoops). Actually I went to Wal-Mart and got 2 dead looking snails for free because the guy was sure they were dead and didn't want to charge me.
<Don't buy dead-looking anything. Snails, by which I assume you mean Mystery or Apple Snails, Pomacea spp., are difficult to maintain over the long term, and once sick, almost always die, and in doing so massively pollute the tank. I never recommend people keep Pomacea spp. snails alongside fish.>
I figured I'd try my luck and was so impatient I went to another Wal-Mart and bought 2 healthy active snails (both mystery snails, 1 black, 1 gold.. the other 2 "dead" snails are brown.. so I guess the black variety snails) along with the 3 shrimps. I got home and put everything in the tank and stared for a few hours with delight.. To my surprise all 4 snails are alive and well. And now I'm sure it's way too overcrowded with all that life for such a small tank.
<Could well be. Do visit AppleSnail.net for details on Pomacea spp. Their maintenance isn't hard if you provide what they need, but few species do well kept warm all year around, and very few specimens live more than a year in fish tanks.>
I've had it 3 days and have already changed the water once because it was cloudy and stinky. My boyfriend had mistakenly fed the fish 2 algae wafers after I had dropped 1 in already.. so I'm assuming that's the issue. I want to get a bigger tank for all these critters but I only have room for a 5 gallon at the very most.
<An ideal size for a Betta and some Cherry Shrimps, perhaps with a snail or two in the short term. But not Goldfish.>
Probably still too small but I was wondering since that's the only size I can get due to space limits what all would I need to make this work?
<Goldfish need, at minimum, 20 gallons, and really 30 gallons for any sort of happy life, in part because they need company, and two fancy Goldfish will need 30 gallons (regular Goldfish, like Comets, need more space because they get bigger and swim more).>
I don't mind changing water frequently.
<That's not really a solution. Filters remove nitrite (with an I) and ammonia in real time, while water changes lower nitrate (with an A) each time you do a water change. They aren't alternatives, but each is part of the same overall maintenance regime. Here are some things to read:
I have no idea what kind of chemical treatments I would need, filters,
foods I should be feeding and the pet stores weren't much help either.
<Many, many books on sale and in public libraries. Do look here:
"A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" by Gina Sandford is a good, inexpensive, and well-illustrated book that covers all the basics. At one whole cent bought used from Amazon.com, there's really no excuse for not owning this book if you're a total beginner.>
They said I only needed food and sold me all those animals no problem at all saying they would be fine.
<Retailers vary from the good to the bad, like everyone else. But just as if you were buying a car or a home -- do your research first!>
I've done some research but am not finding what I would need exactly to make all of this work in a 5 gallon tank. So far I have the 1.5 gallon tank, Aqueon Betta Pellets Betta Food (the fish doesn't seem to like these),
<Other options, but should eat if water quality is good. If you have non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite, i.e., you don't have a mature filter in the aquarium -- I'd recommend an air-powered sponge filter by the way -- then fish won't eat. Ammonia and nitrite are poisons, and above zero levels make them increasingly sick. Like us, they go off their food when that happens. Even if they look fine, in a tank without a filter, there's every chance they're already stressed.>
Hikari Tropical Algae Wafers for Plecostomus & Algae Eaters, a fake green plant and a shark decoration. That's it. I apologize if this has already been answered and I'm overlooking the information. I obviously need all the help I can get. Thanks for your time!
<Do read, and read some more! Quick answers are all here on WWM, but a book or two is what you need, STAT. Cheers, Neale.>

fish-tastrophy, Prof. Plum...    1/19/11
Me and my roommate have a 100 gallon tall tank, roughly 3 ft by 4 ft. A list of the inhabitants is as follows, 1 Angel fish, 4 Blood Fin Tetra. 5 Tiger barbs, 1 Pictus Catfish, 1other type of cat I haven't been able to identify, 2 African dwarf frogs. And 2 Black Moor.
<Mmm, the Barbs are a bit nippy, and the goldfish... Misplaced here>
A weird mix... I know, we did not choose this. A neighbor was moving and said he couldn't take any of it with him, so saving the fish from our local waste processing plant we took them in and his tank. The tank from our research has plenty of filtration, aeration. We check PH, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia often and all stay within comfortable living levels, The temperature stays anywhere from 76 to 78 degrees F. We have added plumbing so that the tanks drains and refills its self weekly replacing around 20 percent of the water with treated (dechlorinated) water.
My problems starts about a week ago, we woke up to a dead tetra, back fin completely gone. And then another tetra and another.. all coming to the same death.
<The tiger barbs possibly... or the Pictus... or maybe that unidentified catfish>
And then the tiger barbs came to the same demise. All of them, in just 2 days. I haven't seen any aggression from any of the fish... we watch our tank constantly and enjoy the fish swimming and eating. Who is the likely culprit here? Any suggestions as to what actions I need to do?
<Remove the most likely offender... Bob Fenner>

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>

Dinosaur Bichir 11/22/10
Dinosaur Bichir (gigantic fish crammed into 55 gallons; blind Iridescent Sharks; the usual'¦)

Hi, I have a Dinosaur Bichir
<Polypterus senegalus, an excellent aquarium fish.>
that I got along with 2 Iridescent Sharks and two Balas and a large Pleco.
<In 55 gallons! Not a chance. Iridescent Sharks (Pangasius hypophthalmus) get to at least 75 cm/22 inches in captivity. They also grow extremely rapidly. Do please use Google and see how large these fish get. The photos will astound you! Bala Sharks (Balantiocheilos melanopterus) get to a good 30 cm/12 inches long, and require a good 55 gallons PER specimen.
As for the Common Plec (Pterygoplichthys pardalis), these get to about 45 cm/18 inches within two years and while a singleton might be crammed into 55 gallons, the result would be a murky, messy aquarium.>
They were all in a 55 gallon tank when I notice all the fish but my Dinosaur Bichir got Ick. I got the tank cleared of Ick and the next week one of the Iridescent Sharks had an eye missing.
<Unfortunately extremely common when Iridescent Sharks are kept in tanks too small for them. They bash into the glass, damage their eyes, and the result is blindness. This is so very common that it goes beyond a joke. Seriously, when I hear someone has an Iridescent Shark in captivity, I ASSUME that the poor catfish will be blind. Let me be crystal clear here -- Iridescent Sharks are NOT fish for the home aquarium. They're a food fish, with the size and growth rate you'd expect for a food fish. Anyone who buys one of these fish either [a] hasn't done any research at all or [b] has a 500 gallon aquarium in which to keep it.>
I watched the tank closely and didn't see and fish fighting however all the fish but the Dinosaur Bichir came down with a bacterial infection. Finally got the infection under control and then noticed that my Dinosaur Bichir was eating the fins of my sharks.
<Hmm'¦ actually pretty uncommon behaviour. Polypterus senegalus feed almost entirely on insect larvae and worms, and don't normally bite larger fish. They are territorial though.>
I switched the food to bloodworms hoping this would help not only with her trying to eat my other fish but with tank water clarity. I have tried for 6 months to get the tank clear and it seems like it just wont balance out.
<Of course not! You have fish for a 550 gallon tank in 55 gallons of water! Seriously, this is NEVER going to work. You need to sit down, think about what you're trying to achieve, and then take back the MANY fish you can't keep. In 55 gallons you could safely keep the Bichir, perhaps a Bristlenose Plec, and then a nice school of Silver Dollars or Australian Rainbowfish. That'd been lovely. Everyone would have swimming space, and you'd have a tank that was healthy, pretty, and easy to keep. What you're doing at the moment is just plain unworkable.>
I have live and fake plants and plenty of hiding spots. I decided that maybe the common denominator was my Dinosaur Bichir so I took her out and put her in my 40 gallon tank which I new everything was balanced and has a bushy nose Pleco in.
<Both eminently compatible species ideally suited to 40 gallons of water.>
Within 2 days my 55 gallon tank is sparkling clear however the 40 gallon is horribly cloudy. Why do my tanks do this is there something wrong with my Dinosaur Bichir ? the ph levels are spot on however the nitrate/nitrite and ammonia levels always are high in the tank with the Dinosaur Bichir.
<Overfeeding, overstocking, under-filtering'¦ likely a combination of all three.>
Is there anything that can be done about this?
Also my Dinosaur Bichir seems to prey on the injured or weaker fish even though she is eating plenty of blood worms, should I get her some feeder fish?
<Of course not. Feeder fish are possibly the worst thing you can feed predatory fish, second only to poison. Polypterus senegalus should be given a staple diet based around insect larvae and worms: earthworms are excellent, bloodworms mostly water so less nutritious though useful. Slivers of tilapia fillet and shelled cockles are also excellent and thiaminase-free. Once a week you can also offer chopped mussels or prawns, but these contain thiaminase so must be used sparingly.>
Thanks Misty
<Misty, Misty, Misty'¦ I've rolled my eyes a few times while reading this. I'm detecting lots of enthusiasm but not too much research! But don't worry, I was there once. There's an art to keeping big fish and oddballs, and that art depends upon planning. The Bala Shark and the Iridescent Sharks have to go, you have no way of keeping them. I'd lose the Plec, too. Then sit back, think about what you're trying to create. Feel free to write back if you want some tips on stocking. In the meantime, read here:
There's a nice photo of a 75-gallon tank set up for Polypterus, a school of Congo Tetras, and some other African oddballs. Lovely, isn't it! Cheers, Neale.>

All my fish are acting strangely. Sys. mis-, over- and too-soon stocked    10/13/10
I have learned a great deal about fish keeping from this website.
However, apparently not enough.
First off I have 12 tiger barbs (half albino) Started my tank cycle with these fish 6 at a time for about 2 weeks until my last Barb went in.
<There's no way the tank cycled in two weeks, and you will be detecting non-zero ammonia or nitrite levels until the tank is 4-6 weeks old, at minimum. During that time you should observe your fish carefully and do regular, ideally daily, water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite as close to zero as possible. Bear in mind 0.5 mg/l ammonia and 1.0 mg/l nitrite can be fatal under certain circumstances, and at the very least will make fish more vulnerable to Finrot, fungus, etc.>
1 Pleco
<Hope this is a really big tank!>
3 Bala Sharks
<Again, three Bala Sharks will need a huge aquarium.>
1 Figure 8 Puffer (I am now aware of their brackish needs but when I bought it they were swimming with TB and the store owner said they'd be fine)
<Your pet store owner really isn't very well informed! Figure-8s cannot live for long in freshwater.>
2 Platys
1 Black Ghost Knife (I know I shouldn't keep these with TB but the BGK swims freely and the TB don't even mind it's there)
<Pufferfish food. Seriously, Black Ghosts are easy targets for nippy fish like Puffers and Barbs. They also come from very specific habitats where the water is highly oxygenated, a bit on the cool side, and has a very strong water current. The mortality rate of BGK in captivity is extremely high. They can live 20 years and reach lengths of 50 cm/20 inches, but how many specimens have you ever seen that old or that big? Not many, I'd wager. Why? Because most people kill their Black Ghost within a year of purchase.>
They are housed in a 100 gallon tank and were placed in the order listed 3 at a time after the TBs. My tank has been set up for about a month.
<Not nearly mature enough for all these fish, so damage limitation will be critical here.>
My current water conditions are as follows:
0 Ammonia
0-0.5ppm Nitrite
<This can, will kill your Puffer and Knifefish quickly, and can, will
stress the remaining fish. Knifefish and Pufferfish have essentially no
tolerance for poor water quality. They should not be added to tanks less
than 3 months old.>
10 Nitrate.
I've been doing 25-30% Water Changes weekly since my first TB was acclimated into the water. Today all of my fish started acting a little weird and I'm pretty sure it's because I should have waited much longer
before I started adding more fish.
First off my TBs seem like they're hiding and they just swim near the top of the tank in 2 groups.
<Non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels stress fish, and Tiger Barbs are a classic barometer species. They become nervous, as you've seen, and also tend to swim with their head downwards for some reason.>
My Bala Sharks and Platys are flashing once an hour.
<Yes, to be expected. The ammonia and nitrite irritates the gills, and the fish react as if they have parasites scratching their gills, hence the flashing.>
The biggest change is my f8. His belly turned a shade of grey and I started noticing a small white dot on his body.
<Needs to be moved to a mature brackish water aquarium, ASAP.>
He had Ich before but recovered from it with the salt and heat trick.
However now that I have a BGK I'm a little wary of using anything that might hurt it.
<Quite right; both copper and formalin are lethal to puffers and knifefish.>
Eventually I'm going to get my F8 its own tank with brackish conditions.
<By "eventually" you mean this week, I hope.>
The tank I'm going to house it in currently is his snail breeding tank with two angels that came with the tank.
<Goes without saying the Angels can't be kept with the puffer. Angelfish also require completely different conditions to the BGK, so they can't be combined. Specifically, Angels need warm, slow-moving water: 25-30 C/77-86 F with a filter turnover rate around 4 times the volume of the tank per hour, so for a 20 gallon tank you'd need a filter rated at 4 x 20 = 80 gallons per hour. Black Ghost Knifefish come from regions around rapids and waterfalls. They need about 22-25 F/72-77 F with a turnover rate at least 8
times the volume of the tank, so for your 100 gallon tank that'd be 800 gallons/hour. As it happens, Bala Sharks and Plecs should enjoy similar conditions, as will Barbs, though the Barbs may be nippy and if they do damage your Knifefish, treating Finrot is extremely difficult because of how quickly many medications kill Knifefish.>
So my question is what steps should I take to ensure the survival of my fish?
<Read above and act accordingly. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: All my fish are acting strangely 10/13/10

Thanks for the quick reply.
<You are welcome.>
I have given my angel fish to my friend who has a Discus tank,
<Do be careful here! Angelfish and Discus aren't usually kept together. One issue is Angelfish carry pathogens that don't seem to harm them but can cause serious problems for Discus. Another issue is the different levels of aggression, Angels being "bullies" in comparison to Discus, and so they tend to steal all the food and push the Discus away.>
and since added 3 Table spoons of sea salt to my 10 gallon angel fish/snail tank and purchased a hydrometer that is now sitting in a salt bath.
<3 tablespoons is 3 x 3 teaspoons = 9 teaspoons, or roughly 9 x 6 grammes, one level teaspoon being about 6 grammes of marine salt mix. So 54 grammes altogether in 3 tablespoons. 10 US gallons is 38 litres; let's call it 40 litres for simplicity. You need about 6 grammes per litre to create a specific gravity of 1.003 at 25 degrees C/77 degrees F, the minimum for a Figure-8 Puffer. So for 40 litres of water, that's 40 x 6 = 240 grammes.
You can do the rest of the maths yourself, I'm sure, to realise than 240 grammes is more than 54 grammes, so you're not even close to create brackish water conditions.>
I also did a 25% partial water change and fed my fish very little. Added about 10 ml.s of Seachem Prime and my fish are swimming normally again. My puffer now in his new home also with a ml.s of Prime added is thriving again.
<For now.>
Has a nice white underside.
<Cool. Doubtless adding some salt has been a step in the right direction.
And I wouldn't want to suggest you switch the tank to SG 1.003 in one fell swoop, as that could stress the filter bacteria. But over the next few weeks do a series of 20-25% water changes, adding each time water that has 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, i.e., one level teaspoon per litre.
By the end of the month you should have brackish conditions in the tank, and the bacterial will have adjusted just fine.>
The only problem I see now is that most websites say Puffers should live with sand substrate, and my 10 gallon tank has small 2mm gravel instead.
<Not a problem.>
The only problem I seem to have now is I'm not sure if my BGK is eating or not.
<A common problem. They are nocturnal and eat things like earthworms, chopped seafood and tilapia fillet, and wet-frozen krill and bloodworms.
They DO NOT usually eat pellets or freeze-dried foods, though some specimens may do once settled in. Assume your specimen is not eating such foods, and provide live, fresh or wet-frozen "wormy" foods of one sort or another, plus suitable chopped fish and seafood, AT NIGHT. Do not combine with any other nighttime feeders, e.g., loaches or Plecs. With luck, the Knifefish will be the only one to find these foods, and he'll eat them.>
He doesn't really seem shy since he swims all over the place around the large driftwood.
<Indeed, "shyness" isn't really an obvious problem. But at the same time these fish are very active when unhappy as well, trying to find a way out of the tank. So the fact a Knifefish is swimming about doesn't really settle things one way or the other.>
I bought freeze dried shrimp
and I place near where he likes hiding most before lights out and the Shrimp isn't there in the morning however I'm not sure if its the BGK or the other fishes.
<If there are ANY catfish or loaches in this tank, they will eat this food before the Knifefish.>
Is there any food other there that is just irresistible to a BGK?
<Earthworms and live bloodworms. They like Tubifex too, but these are risky for a variety of reasons and not recommended. But blackworms, Glassworms, etc. should be okay.>
And is there a way to acclimate it to sinking carnivore pellets/sticks once I figure out what he likes?
<These fish don't eat pellets, so don't even think about this option.
Chances are you will be feeding live, fresh, and wet-frozen foods indefinitely. Some specimens eventually take pellets, but only AFTER they have been eating other foods and fattened up a bit. These are wild-caught fish that have spent their entire lives eating live foods, and they expect live or at least wet-frozen foods for the first few months of captivity.
Despite their wide availability, BGKs are extremely difficult fish to maintain if you aren't an expert fishkeeper. Cheers, Neale.>

FW... menagerie!    7/3/10
Hey let me start by saying that this is a great site that is very informative.
<Thanks for saying so.>
Anyway I currently own a community aquarium with Silver Dollars, 2 Striped Peacock Eels,
<These are quite difficult to maintain in the long term; require sand -- not gravel -- and "wormy" foods rather than flake/pellets. Great escape artists. Within a few months, most specimens end up either starved to death, damaged by gravel such they develop (fatal) skin infections, or dried up on the carpet.>
2 Albino African Clawed Frogs, and 1 Blood Parrot Cichlid. I am wanting to purchase an Angelfish, and a Black Ghost Knife fish. I was just wondering if all these fish can co-exist?
<Without knowing anything about the size of your aquarium or your water chemistry or your water quality, impossible to say. Angelfish and Black Ghost Knifefish require fundamentally different living conditions, so broadly, no, you shouldn't keep them together. Some people do, but they usually end up with a dead Black Ghost Knifefish. Ask yourself how many specimens you've seen that are 10+ years old and measuring 50 cm/20 inches long. That's the benchmark here; not being able to keep the fish for a few months. Black Ghost Knifefish aren't *too* fussy about water chemistry, but it should be either soft or only moderately hard; I'd say 5-10 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5. On top of that they're fish that inhabit fast-flowing streams. So you need lots of water current, not some poky like hang-on-the-back filter.
We're talking turnover rates AT LEAST eight times the volume of the tank, so assuming this is a 75 gallon tank -- and it would need to be for a Black Ghost Knifefish -- that's 75 x 8 = 600 gallons per hour. That would obviously buffet Angelfish and Blood Parrot far too much, and the Frogs wouldn't be too keen either. Silver Dollars and Spiny Eels would thrive in such conditions, though there'd be some competition for food at nighttime between the Spiny Eels and the Black Ghost. Black Ghost Knifefish also want fairly cool water, around 24 C/75 F, and that's a bit cold for Angelfish to do really well, but fine for Silver Dollars and Spiny Eels. So think carefully about what type of fish you want, and remove the fish that clearly don't belong. On top of environment, bear in mind Black Ghosts have near-zero tolerance for nitrate, which is why a big, lightly-populated aquarium is essential. You must have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 20 mg/l or less nitrate. Most folks ignore these requirements; and most folks kill their Black Ghosts within a few months. If you want a hardy Knifefish, you're much better off with Xenomystus nigri.>
Thank you very much.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Royally Screwed Up? FW mistakes aplenty!   6/5/10
Hi! I'm Susan, and I am one of those geniuses who do first and ask questions later.
<A very human condition it seems>
(Sorry, this will be kind of long, but I want to make sure I don't leave any stupid mistake out)
<No worries. Take your time>
Usually I can figure a way out of the hole I dug, but I am stumped right now. My roommate had a nasty little 10 gal. freshwater tank with a 2" silver hatchet, some kind of 2" Cory, and three fish that look kind of like a cross between a Gourami of some kind and an angel fish. These three are small too, with the largest one being around 2.5". The little tank was full of algae, tiny snails, and the water was never changed so it was full of poo and urine.
I decided the fish needed an upgrade, so I got a 55 gal tank with a fairly decent filter that turns about 300 gal per hour, a new heater, and plant light bulbs. I set up the aquarium with new gravel that I forgot to rinse before hand, several (probably 20-25) small to medium aquatic plants, a large resin cave that has tons of places for critters to hide, and a smaller cave. I added the recommended dosage of water conditioner and plant fertilizer. Well, I also added the recommended dose of bacteria solution after the water conditioner cycled for 15 minutes. I have a
feeling this is probably the 3rd or 4th time I screwed up so far in the process. I let the tank sit for a couple of days with no fish in it, then started putting the fish that were in the 10 gal. tank in it. The water had turned cloudy, but I thought it was part the bacteria that I put in it combined with the fact that I did not rinse the gravel.
<Likely so>
So far so good. But, with the exception of the Cory, the fish just swam leisurely in the same small area of the tank. I thought this was boring for such a large tank and such small fish. Here comes mistake 5, 6, 7, and so on. I started checking out neat fish I could add to the tank online, wrote down a list of interesting specimens, and went a hunting for freshwater fish stores. I found two rope fish (1 about 9" and the other about 7"), a 5" blue crayfish, and two dwarf African frogs (1.5").
I took my new quarry home, put them in the tank, and of course, forgot to buy their food. Went back out to a local pet store and bought all kinds of different foods (freeze dried bloodworms, freeze dried Tubifex, freeze dried brine shrimp, and sinking shrimp pellets). By the time I got home, the crayfish had already decapitated one of the frogs, the rope fish were really freaking out by swimming real fast and running into the glass, and the original resident fish were still just leisurely swimming. With the crayfish already eating tank mates, I decided I needed to feed everyone
fast. I just wasn't sure who would actually eat what - and here comes the next set of mistakes. So, I just feed a little bit of everything - a couple of pinches of bloodworms, two cubes of Tubifex, two cubes of brine shrimp, about 15 algae discs, about 2 teaspoons of sinking pellets, and a little bit of flake food.
I sat and watched as the frog that was not decapitated ate some of the Tubifex, and the crayfish dropped his meal to go after some pellets. That was it, nobody else ate. I decided that maybe they just needed time to get used to everything, so I left the food in the tank over night.
(Fed them in the early afternoon). The next morning, the tank was even cloudier (whitish looking), but most of the food was gone. What wasn't eaten was stuck in the plants and I figured the Cory might eat that stuff, so I didn't bother with it.
<Oh my!>
However, I was afraid the crayfish was going to start going after another tank mate, so I put in some more pellets.
<"I'll eat your liver with Fava beans and fine Chianti, and pellets, Mmmmm">
Then I decided to actually verify stuff I read earlier on the web. I am beginning to learn that a lot of the stuff on the web about these critters is contradictory. They said the crayfish won't be successful at attacking the fish because the fish are too quick, but I never read anything about the frogs being eaten.
<Oh yes>
I have also read that rope fish only get to around 14 or 15", but I am starting to see places that say they grow to over 36". I did remember that they were escape artists and I thought I escape-proofed the tank well enough. Anyway, to make a really long story a little less long, I checked the tank before I went to work. I remembered reading that rope fish were nocturnal eaters, so I fed a couple cubes of brine shrimp,
<Hon, this is too much!>
a couple cubes of Tubifex, some blood worms, and gave the crayfish some more pellets, since I really didn't know what the rope fish were used to eating. I did notice that the hatchet and the three unknown fish started hanging out by the top of the water and looked like they were opening their mouths a lot. I decided I needed to test the water. (Yes, after 4 days now, I finally tested the water.) The pH was around 7.0 maybe slightly higher, the hardness was a little on the soft side, no ammonia, no nitrates, no nitrites, and the tank temperature has been at a steady 81F.
So, on my way to work, I bought a fish book that I could read.
In the diagnostic section it said that it could be high ammonia or lack of oxygen.
<The two most likely possibilities, though there are many others... general "water pollution" will cover us here>
Since there was no ammonia, I thought it had to be oxygen. Well, when I got home from work, the hatchet was gone as was one of the rope fish. There were no marks on the hatchet like a little blue crayfish might have gotten to him.
<This crustacean needs to be removed>
The rope fish had a red bruise like mark (about 1/2" long) on its side about 3/4 down the body. I still have yet to find the other rope fish... checked the lid, the caves, the floor around the tank, and the filter. The other fish seemed to be ok as was the crayfish. I think my next step is to change some of the water, but I thought I should ask before I do something else I'm not supposed to do. The water is still pretty cloudy and seems to be getting slightly worse everyday. Do you have any guidance for me that will help me keep from flushing more critters?
<Yes... Please start here:
and the linked files above. At this juncture, I highly recommend getting a friend/guru who has pet fish experience to come over, give you some hands on advice... I would stop feeding period, till you've at least read the one book you have, our site re... Definitely do NOT buy any more livestock...
till you're more conscious... Oh, and do please write us back if you have specific questions, concerns you can't find by searching our site, elsewhere. Bob Fenner>
I greatly appreciate any help you can offer.

Re: Royally Screwed Up?   6/8/10
Dear Neale and Bob Fenner,
I thank you both very much for your timely responses. Your website and advice is wonderful.
<Yes it is!>
So I have divided the tank into two areas, one for the crayfish and the other for the unidentified fish which I have since been able to identify as black skirt tetras.
<Do understand tank dividers are short-term solutions; among other things, they limit space for territorial fish, restrict distribution of heat and oxygen, and eventually become magnets for silt and algae.>
Now because of my over-exuberance, the tetras have ich.
<Not sure there's a connection there... Ick comes into aquaria on new fish, and the parasites may exist at low levels of infection until such time the fish's immune systems weaken so far the parasites multiply dramatically.>
So I am treating them at 1/3 of the dose so as to not kill the crayfish and the remaining rope fish (who I found way down in a cave).
<Would NOT use copper/formalin where Ropefish are concerned, or Crayfish; would instead use heat/salt methods.>
I read on a few different sites that treating them this way will be slower, but safer for the crayfish and rope fish who are on the other side of the divider so hopefully will not get too much of the solution.
<Would not do this at all. Bad idea.>
I have added an aerator for the crayfish side as well to increase circulation. So far so good. I have lowered the temperature slightly,
<Actually not what you want to do while treating Ick.>
but not too much as (A) I don't want to shock the fish, and (B) I read the ich can be destroyed better if the temperature is a little high.
<Ick isn't destroyed "better" at higher temperatures; it merely speeds up the life cycle, getting the Ick cysts to mature faster so that the free-living stages become vulnerable to medication/salt more quickly.>
The current temperature is at 79F. I have been feeding just a little bit to the crayfish, but I still haven't seen the rope fish eat.
<Eats mostly live foods, like earthworms; will also eat small fresh or wet-frozen chunks of tilapia fillet, cockles, and other thiaminase-free seafood. Prawns and mussels eaten too, but using sparingly because of their thiaminase content. Will not normally eat dried/freeze-dried foods.>
And since the tetras have moved to their new tank, I haven't seen them eat.
But they may not want to if they have ich. I have been cleaning out any extra food left over after 5 minutes, and have been trying to avoid any food getting into the plants. Again, I thank you so much for your help, and feel free to let me know if I am still screwing up. Unfortunately, when you dig yourself in a big hole, you have to learn a lot all at once to try to get out.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Platy, Molly and Frog in 1.5 gallons; ooh, surprise, they're dying!  6/1/10
Hello :)
<Hello Kacy,>
I'm really quite new to this owning frogs and fish business.
<Indeed. Do read.
Do a degree, most problems come with keeping the wrong fish in the wrong-sized aquarium in the wrong set of environmental conditions.>
I have two African Dwarf Frogs, a Sunburst Wag Platy, and a Dalmatian Lyretail Molly.
<Mollies are not really compatible with these other animals. While Dwarf Frogs and Platies should get along fine provided the water isn't too warm, Mollies need much warmer water and typically need slightly saline conditions.
If you have hard water and keep the aquarium water very clean -- by which I mean 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 20 mg/l nitrate -- the Molly may be okay. But it's difficult to predict.>
I've only had them for a couple weeks but the very next day after I clean the tank (1.5 gallon)
<Far too small; these animals WILL die in there. The frogs may be viable in 5 gallons, the Platies need at least 15 gallons, and the Mollies 20 gallons+. It's not just about swimming space, though that's important; it's also about social behaviour and their sensitivity to changes in water quality and water chemistry. Very small containers of water expose livestock to constant changes in conditions, and inevitably this leads to death. Me telling you anything else is a total waste of time unless you upgrade this aquarium to at least 20 gallons.>
it gets cloudy and this white, cloudy, cotton like weird stuff forms at the bottom of my tank.
<Fungus and bacteria consuming organic waste, essentially doing the same thing as mould on bad cheese.>
I have no idea what this is and it spreads really fast.
<Because the aquarium is too small, overstocked, and under-filtered.>
Within two days the water in my tank is so bad I can't see through to the other side and I think the nastiness of this mystery substance killed my other Sunburst Wag Platy, though I'm not too sure.
<You are wrong. Rather, the death of the Platy and the appearance of the white mould in the aquarium are both symptoms of the same problem: this 'aquarium' is far too small.>
I change the filter often.
<Meaning? Do you understand that filter media needs to be cleaned, not replaced, and that it takes 6 weeks for cycling to take place before the filter can effectively remove ammonia? Furthermore, in a tank this small, no amount of filtration will save the fish.>
I've tried using a product called Clear Fast by Nutrafin which says it is supposed to make a difference in the water within 3 hours. I've never seen a change for the better.
<Indeed not; you've replace lack of knowledge with blind faith in marketing. The Capitalist Way perhaps, but not particularly useful.>
Also upon reading the question/answers I've seen some people say they only feed their fish every other day.
<Depends on the fish. Frogs need not be fed every singly day, but Platies certainly should receive a small meal of algae-based flake food once or twice per day. Problem is, in a tank much smaller than 15 gallons, any amount of feeding Platies properly will overload the filtration system.>
Am I not supposed to feed mine every day? I feed my frogs little foggy bites from HBH (though they don't often eat that, they do eat the fish flakes). Is that bad?
<Least of your problems.>
Thanks for your time,
<You need to do some serious reading. You ARE killing these animals through ignorance of their basic requirements. Hope this helps. Neale.>

Dying mollies & guppies, 5/11/10
Hi team,
Really need your help my once beautiful 20 ltr tank has now become the tank of death.
<Small tanks often do.>
I have 5 guppies ( was 9), 1 red wag tail & 1 white balloon Mollie (1 light orange/white molly dead) oh plus 4 well developing orange fry ( were 20 but gave some away and the rest went back to the pet shop).
<Way too much for a 20 ltr tank.>
As you can see the drop in numbers my tank has disappearing fish both guppies and Mollies.
<Both are sensitive to water quality and need a larger, more stable tank.>
This is where it gets scary, but I started with my 9 guppies and suddenly one day 3 were gone and 1was missing almost all of it's tail so I needed some New friends for them and my partner liked the mollies.
<More fish equals worse conditions which equals more dead fish.>
Little did either of us know that they were males and females and so one of them gave birth to roughly 20 fry which I read was normal only just figured out with the help of another article my red wagtail is a male and my white balloon must be the female.
Woke up about 2 Weekends ago to find my gorgeous light orange/ white mollies carcass cleaned out tails fins most of body floating at the top of my tank behind my filter. I just cleaned tank tonight again and
found the poor dragon guppy that lost his tail from the last disappearances dead also floating carcass.
I don't understand their well fed fish mornings and afternoon after work.
<You have not only too many fish in a tiny tank, but also inappropriate fish for that sized tank.>
Please give me some suggestion or idea of what's happening with my fish are they carnivorous now or is there something in my water killing them some how one day their all there and the next the guppies
disappear in full or the Mollie leaves a carcass
Help me I'm not an accessory to murder am I eeeekk
<Start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestk.htm, and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm for a start. The tank is just too small for the fish you have.>

... mis-stkg., cycling... ich... Troubles/death ahead   5/9/10

<Hello! Melinda here tonight.>
I have a 10 gallon bow-front tank that's about a month old. When it was originally set up and cycled, it had white gravel only. Now it has black gravel and white sand added (Eco Complete Substrata brand?), two hides for fish - human skull replica and Aztec temple ruin, 4 live plants, 1 plastic plant (2 ghost shrimp hide in it), and an in-tank LED bubbler (to distract Mollies from bothering angels).
<Darker substrate makes things a little easier on the fish (white substrate reflects the tank's lighting back up at the fish, which can stress them).
However, this tank is really, really overstocked, and while the ich must be cured, for sure, you've got to address your stocking. Please do read re:
Mollies on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/mollies.htm and
linked files. Though technically freshwater fish, they're actually much hardier when kept in brackish water, which would also take care of your ich problem! Ultimately, you need to know if these fish are male or female, because livebearers need to be kept in a ratio of at least two females to every male in order to keep the females from becoming stressed. In addition, Mollies would need at least a 20-gallon aquarium to thrive.
Then, please read on Angelfish:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwangelfishes.htm. Eventually,
these fish will need nothing less than 30 or 40 gallons, unless they turn out to be a mated pair, and that's not really all that likely, given that they're the only two fish which were purchased. Angels can become extremely territorial as they age, which spells trouble for other tank mates, and the Angels themselves. These fish may be small now, but will grow, and bring problems of their own, terrorizing tankmates and each other and fouling water quality (if you think the Mollies beg, wait until you see the Angels after they've settled in). In terms of water chemistry, they're going to prefer freshwater, but they're not that picky about KH and pH.
Your Glass Catfish, which I'm assuming are the catfish pictured here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/siluriiforms.htm, do present a problem when treating for ich with the off-the-shelf ich treatments. I'd use salt, and I'll detail that treatment below. The Loaches will also
tolerate salt treatment, whereas other ich treatments would cause them harm. Please read here on Kuhli Loaches:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/kuhliloachf.htm. All of these fish have specific needs when it comes to the temperature and water chemistry they prefer, so take this into account when you're choosing fish.>
I have 4 Mollies (2 black, 2 white, 2 Dalmatian), 2 marble Angelfish, 5Glass Catfish, 2 Ghost Shrimp, and 3 Black Kuhli Loaches (actually dark brown).
<Color does vary from time to time, but given this tank's huge bioload, I would be curious to know what your water parameters are -- Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate? How about temperature? Do read on each of the species you've chosen to keep, and decide how large of an aquarium you'd ultimately like to own, and what will comfortably fit inside -- in terms of the tank's volume, temperature, water chemistry, etc. I wouldn't keep the stock you currently have in less than a 40 gallon, because of the Angels, but I'm not sure you're going to have a lot of success with a freshwater tank for your Mollies, either, which means you may want to consider two tanks.>
First in the tank were the black & white Mollies. Over the space of the next 3 weeks, I've added the following fish: The Angels. Then the Dalmatians. Next the glass cats and shrimp, and just today, the loaches.
<A lot of fish in a short amount of time.>
And that's when I noticed the spots on the white lyretail Molly. Closer inspection of each fish in the tank revealed that one of the black mollies has a fuzzy white patch on its back, just in front of its dorsal fin, and
one of the Angel's mouths has a white spec on it that I at first took for food.
<Generally, ich does not look fuzzy -- more like a hard white speck, like salt. However, fungus can be fuzzy, as can a wound which has developed a bacterial infection.>
I've been feeding them fish flakes, thawed bloodworms and ReptoMin - feeding only once a day, no matter how much the mollies beg. (See eaten plant picture.)
<I do see the plant, and Mollies do enjoy algae, but this plant may have other issues, in that the substrate is inadequate, lighting is inadequate, or it's not receiving enough nutrients. It looks like it's sort of wasting
I think they have Ich, and I am sending the best pictures I have been able to take.
<I agree that the Mollies likely have ich, but again, I'm not sure that's the correct diagnosis on the Angels. Please do bear in mind that fish illness often begins with poor water quality, and poor water quality is
often a chronic symptom in quickly-stocked, overstocked systems.>
The white lyretail Molly is the most active of all my fish, darting and dashing through the bubbles, which now seems to be a symptom instead of an idiosyncrasy.
<Have you witnessed flashing against rocks or decor?>
The blacker Dalmatian Molly was trying to breed with one of the black Mollies last week, and the lyretail black Mollie was trying the same thing this week, while the blacker Dalmatian was trying to mate with the white non-Lyretail Molly this week.
<Yes. Is the way with livebearers. Like I mentioned earlier, these fish need larger quarters -- the females have to have somewhere to escape the amorous attentions of the males, and stocking more females than males ensures the males' attentions are more divided amongst the females, stressing the females less. Please do read on Molly care in the link above.>
I realize that I'm about to embark on Ich treatment, but I need to find out how to do it while not killing off my Glass Catfish, Kuhli Loaches and Ghost Shrimp.
<Treat for ich by adding one teaspoon of salt per gallon of water on the first day. Repeat this step, without removing any salt, on days two and three, then wait for two weeks (you're now done adding salt). Make sure and wait before you do a big water change, removing the salt, even if you don't see the spots on your fish any more. There are several stages to the ich life cycle, and you have to make sure you've killed the ich existing at every stage. Please read here to learn more about ich:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm. Gradually increase your tank's temperature to 84 degrees or so over the first day, and leave it at that temp throughout the treatment. You can use "Aquarium" salt, Kosher salt, etc. for this treatment.>
Is there any treatment product you know of that is safe to use while the Glass Catfish, Kuhli Loaches and Ghost Shrimp are still in the tank? I've read online that any Malachite product is deadly to the Glass Cats and Loaches, and I suspect it would not do the shrimp any good either.
<Please see my suggestions above.>
If I have to separate them out, I will, but if I can possibly keep them in, I'd rather do so than stress them with separation.
<I have a feeling these fish are very stressed now, and this is due to several factors -- overstocking, possible poor water quality, illness, etc.
Overall, what you'll need to do to help the situation is not only to treat for ich, but to address the needs of each fish (this may involve separating your Mollies from the rest of the stock), determine whether the Angels are suffering some other sort of malady. There is a lot going on in your tank, and I hope I've been able to provide some help. Ultimately, success in the hobby is dependent upon research and careful planning. If you skip these steps, you'll end with more trouble than it's worth -- this is supposed to be fun!>
Thank you for any assistance you can provide.
<You're welcome. Please do write back if you have further questions.>

Sudden tank deaths, one possibly sick fish. Poster ex. for FW self-induced troubles    2/28/10
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
<Happy to help.>
I want to give a little bit of my limited experience to give you an idea of how things are. Last year I bought a male Crown-Fin Betta for my mom.
Unfortunately (for her anyway) this gave me the aquarium bug and now I love fish.
<I see.>
He was kept in 1 gallon tank which I maintained very well.
<Hate saying this, but "1 gallon tank" and "maintained very well" are contradictions in terms. Despite what the retailer might say, a 1-gallon tank really isn't acceptable for Bettas.>
Deciding he deserved better I bought a 5 gallon tank and a Common Pleco to keep him company.
<Yikes! The 5-gallon tank for a Betta is very good. But a Common Plec simply isn't going to fit in that tank. Who told you that would work? If the retailer said so, despite the fact a Common Plec gets to 45 cm/18 inches within a year or so, then the retailer was taking advantage of your lack of knowledge (reading).>
I sold the Pleco off rather quickly once I decided he was made of pure, concentrated EVIL (he was rather aggressive for a Pleco and used to head-butt my Betta, which was stressing him out).
<Not evil at all. You were foolish sticking a Plec in a tank this small, and the Plec, understandably, was deeply unhappy.>
When I had them I used to fill the tank with only bottled water.
When I sold the Pleco I bought a Nerite snail, a Dalmatian Molly, and an African Dwarf Frog. The frog died very quickly after I bought him and so I think I bought him sick.
<No, much more likely you killed him. Aquatic frogs require very specific conditions.
As for Mollies, these cannot be kept with Bettas; their needs are far too different.
What are you reading? Anything? It's fine being bitten by the bug, but these are animals, not stamps. So you can't collect them any old how. You need to research the needs of each animal first, and only if you're sure you're able to provide the things that animal needs, then buy it.>
He used to tuck him head into corners and bury his face in the rocks.
After the frogs death I bought another one, an upside down catfish, and another snail.
<STOP! You are buying animals that cannot be combined in a tank this size.>
Things started out very well. The frog was active (still is, but doesn't seem to gain any weight which worries me a little), the upside down catfish hid a lot but would come out every once in a while, but the other snail died from stress because the smaller one kept trying to eat him.
<No, no, no... not while the snail died. Nerite snails need clean, clear water and sufficient green algae. They don't "scavenge" and really, you need to allow about 5-10 gallons per Nerite snail.>
Then I made my first mistake....
<Not your first mistake. Not by a long chalk.>
I switch to tap water. This normally wouldn't be a problem. Tap water should be fine if treated first with all the proper chemicals (which I did). I forgot to factor in, however, that I live in Las Vegas. We have some of the worst tap water in the nation. Having been to several other countries as well, I can vouch for how bad the water is here. Safe to say that my fish got sick.
<No. You are totally misunderstanding the situation here. You are shifting the blame away from yourself (which you could control) onto stuff outside your control to let yourself off the hook. The reason these animals are dying is because you're doing everything wrong. You appear not to have a read any books at all. I'm guessing you ask the retailer (who often say any old thing to make a sale) and then look in online, accepting as Gospel anything that agrees with your preconceptions. STOP NOW. You need to read something written by an expert, preferably a book of some sort. A 5-gallon tank with a heater and a biological filter is acceptable for a SINGLE Betta. That's it. Nothing else.>
Being new to this I didn't really notice.
<More rationalisation.>
I just upgraded to a new 38 gallon tank with all the bells and whistles. I have a bio-filter made of awesome, a heater that keeps the water at 76 F, plants,
an ammonia and pH alert tab...things, the works.
<You didn't have a heater before? And those ammonia and pH in-tank indicators are of minimal value, and basically unreliable.>
I also bought two more fish.
<Oh dear.>
A Dwarf Gourami and a Mickey Mouse Platy. Then I noticed everybody was sick.
<Oh dear, oh dear.>
They had Ich (which they got from the tap....people drink that....gross)
<Look, Ick doesn't come from tap water. It comes from introducing new fish that haven't been quarantined. YOU put the Ick into the tank by adding new fish. Nothing to do with the tap water.>
and I also noticed they were looking fat and bloated.
<Could be anything, but I'd assume largely to do with environmental stress.>
I did my research and got the medicines needed.
<Where did you do your research?>
I got quick-cure for the Ich and Maracyn-Two for the Dropsy. Everybody started thriving immediately.
The one who benefited the most was the upside down catfish. I had never seen him so active. I also switched back to bottled water. I did 2 three day treatments of Quick-Cure and a 5 day treatment of Maracyn-Two which a 25% water change in the middle. and a 50% water change at the end as directed by the medicine. Everybody seemed fine.
<Water changes probably more helpful than anything else thus far.>
Then the upside down catfish and the Dwarf Gourami were huddled together in a corner and not really moving. My catfish was very lethargic last night, just floating at the top of the water. I found him dead this morning.
<No surprise.>
There are no external signs of disease but there was a strange bloat on side of his stomach which I don't know if that was his stomach still coming down from the Dropsy or what.
<Environmental stress.>
Now my Dwarf Gourami is acting lethargic, won't eat, he is barely breathing, what breaths he does take are shallow, and he floats just beneath the surface of the water. He isn't bloated, there are no signs of Ich, no discoloration or color fading, his gills look fine, there is no blood in the water. I can find so signs of why he would be sick.
<You're killing him, likely by not providing anything like the conditions he needs to thrive. Colisa lalia needs warm (28 C/82 F) water that is soft (5-10 degrees dH) and slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6.5-7). Such conditions are intolerable to Platies, which need cool (24 C) water that is hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH 7.5), so you can't keep them in the same tank. My guess is you have hard tap water, and it's not impossible you are using water from a domestic water softener, which you should not do. Water quality is likely terrible, given the litany of deaths. Do remember all fish need 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite.>
I went to quarantine him and he swam away really fast, so he can move when he wants to. I did read up on the Iridovirus but I don't know if that is what he as yet and none of the other fish seems to show signs of still being sick. What should I do?
<Take up another hobby that doesn't involve live animals? Or, if you're serious, sit down, read my e-mail again, and read some other articles on water quality, water chemistry, and setting up new aquaria. Here's some articles to start with:
So far, out of 10 fish, I have lost 3 and quite possibly a fourth. I don't believe my Gourami will make it through the day.
Thank you for your patience.
<You are welcome. If you tell me what your (tap) water chemistry is, and how big the tank is, I can probably recommend you some fish species that work well. Otherwise, read through aquarium books taking care over issues like size, temperature, water chemistry, and social behaviour.>
I know I am rather new to this but I am trying my best to keep my fish happy and healthy.
<You absolutely must go slow, and read things first, buy new fish second.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
P.S.- I forgot to add this in. While observing my Gourami I was pretty sure I had watched him breathe his last breath. He stopped moving and he stopped breathing but when I went to move him out of the tank he seemed to 'wake up' and swim off. Don't know is this help identify symptoms.
<Could be anything really.>
re: help!!! Another good candidate for WWM's bb  3/2/10

Hi I just got your email I am going to be going to look up all the sites you have gave me!!
But in the end you had said about having them all in the tank together!!
Yes, I do have them in there together!!!
<Not good.>
They dont fight or anything.
<It's not just about fighting, though Tiger Barbs can be nippy, and the first time you realise this is happening is when you spot a fish or frog with missing fins or toes, and you're having to deal with Finrot. It's also about differences in environmental requirements. Mollies need very warm water with a high hardness and high pH, and ideally slightly saline conditions. Xenopus on the other hand is a coldwater animal that does better at room temperature. The "algae eater" could be anything, but I'll assume either Pterygoplichthys pardalis or else Gyrinocheilus aymonieri.
Both these fish get very big, very fast, and Gyrinocheilus aymonieri is also notoriously aggressive once about one-third grown, i.e., around 10 cm/4 inches long. Most folks regret buying either of these fish.>
I have a 55 gallon tank is that big enough???
<Depends what your algae eater is. If either Pterygoplichthys pardalis or Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, then either of those fish will comfortably take up a 55 gallon tank all by itself. Pterygoplichthys pardalis gets to 45 cm/18
inches within a year or two, while Gyrinocheilus aymonieri gets to 35 cm/14 inches within about two years. Both are very messy fish, so while they might "fit" into a 55 gallon tank, the water will be so messy and dirty they'll hardly be fun animals to keep.>
I hope so I wanted to get more fish!! I got a breeding net for them all!!
The molly actually goes down in and around it checking it out like she wants to go in there!! So is that a good thing??
<She doesn't want to go in there. She's likely pecking at the algae growing on the net. Cheers, Neale.>
re: help!!!
hi uh yeah the tiger barbs have messed with my fish
<When kept in groups of less than 6, they're often nippy. Keep Tiger Barbs in big groups, 10 or more, for best results.>
and the only reason I got them is because the pet store said they would be fine.
<Always be cautious with advice from people selling you stuff.>
But I have had issues with them!!
<Do read books. Every aquarium fish ever written mentions the nippiness of Tiger Barbs when kept in small groups. They get bored very easily, and need to be in a big group so they chase one another and not the other fish.>
I found a petstore close that is willing to take them for me but my fish stand up to them. But all the fish are fine and love the heat so... I know some of them recommend you dont mix match but they are all fine with it they even go over to the heater and stay by it as if they like it!!!
<Water temperature needs to be correct for the fish you're keeping. I like chocolate, but if ate nothing but chocolate, or even just as much as I'd like, I'd be a great fat lump with no teeth. So sometimes you have to make decisions for the long term. Keeping a fish too warm or too cold might be okay for a few days, weeks or months... but eventually, your mistakes will come back and bite you on the backside.>
So 55 gallon is not big enough the only fish that is big is my goldfish!!
<At the moment the algae eaters may be small, but as I said, things like Pterygoplichthys pardalis get very big, very quickly.>
But the others are all really little so I dont know why that is not big enough!! why is that???
<It's nothing to do with how big they are now. When I was a little boy I could fit into all kinds of tiny clothes. But I'm all grown up now, and my baby bootees don't fit any more. So it is with fish tanks. The common Suckermouth catfish Pterygoplichthys pardalis gets to 45 cm/18 inches within 1-2 years.>
SO are you saying that you think that they are not going to have eggs??
<Which fish? None of the fish you have are likely to lay viable eggs in this tank that you could rear babies from. As for the frogs, sure, they'll lay eggs, but unless you remove them and rear them separately, they'll get eaten or sucked into the filter or whatever.>
What should I do as for the eggs and the fish??? Is there anything that I am doing wrong or what should I do I am new at this!!
<Read. Start with the basics. There's plenty at WWM. Here's a good place:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sudden tank deaths, one possibly sick fish. 3/2/10
Wow, I knew I wasn't doing great but I didn't know it was that bad.
<You should see me dance. Now *that's* bad.><<Heeee!>>
Thank you for informing me.
<You're welcome.>
I would like to report that my Gourami is much better and the others are fine as well.
Since you asked I have answers:
The new tank is 36-38 gallon bow-front tank.
<A good size.>
It has medium sized substrate, a hollowed (stump) for a place to hide, and live plants. The water is kept at 74-76F.
<Great for Danios, Corydoras and Neons, though a tad cool for some species, like Gouramis, Angels and Cardinals that prefer things a little warmer. So whatever else you do, choose fish that will thrive at whatever temperature you're using.>
The filter is one of the triple ones; with the bag of ceramic balls used to establish cycles, a bag of carbonate filter, and a filter sponge. It was recommended to me as being on the better ones without being ridiculous in price.
<Perhaps, but it has to be said that with filters you can have great water quality at minimal cost. An undergravel filter is cheap and easy to set-up, but does a great job. Plain vanilla canister filters or hang-on-the-back filters can be great value too, provided you don't get talked into buying systems with proprietary "modules" or "cartridges". All you really want is a pump with an empty box into which you put sponges or ceramic noodles.
Really, that's all you need.>
The Nitrite, nitrate, ammonia levels are all in acceptable range (according to the tester strips I bought anyway).
<You see, the "acceptable range" is where we get into hot water. Nitrate does have an acceptable range, and even for delicate fish, anything between 0 and 20 mg/l should be safe. But ammonia and nitrite really don't have any "range" at all. There's zero, and then there's non-zero, and non-zero is dangerous. Sure, 1 mg/l ammonia is more dangerous than 0.5 mg/l, but that's kind of arguing whether one kind of cancer is better than another: they're all bad!>
The pH is between 7.5 and 8.0 and is very hard.
<In itself, not a bad thing. Just choose fish that like hard water. There are many of them, including the livebearers. Even if you stuck with just that one group of fish, there's plenty of options. But you can add lots of other hard water fish to the menu. For example, shell-dwelling cichlids are fun and quite peaceful things that work surprisingly well with surface-swimming livebearers.>
I try my best so keep the water stable and do 25% water change twice a month. I only use bottled water now because the tap water is just too hard to treat and have it be livable.
<Honestly, I don't believe this is the case. Hard water suits hard water fish. Cut according to your cloth. If you have hard water, go with hard water fish, and you'll find life so much easier (as well as cheaper).>
I can't even drink the stuff without getting sick, I'm not going to subject my fish to that again.
<If your tap water is making you sick, then you have to speak to your environmental health agency or whoever. Interestingly, it turns out in England at least, the tap water tends to be better for you than bottled water, simply because the control of microbes is so much stricter. I can't speak for your part of the world, but that's the case here. Indeed, there's quite a bit of backlash against bottled water now because of the huge environmental costs attached to bottling water. Turns out something like ten pints of water are wasted to produce one pint of bottled water when you start factoring in things like the plastic bottles, delivery in small quantities, and so on.>
I feed my fish a mixture of dried bloodworm, died shrimp fry, tropical fish pellet, and BioGold pellet.
<Would not use just dried foods if possible. They're overpriced for what they are. Dried foods also tend to cause problems with constipation in the long term. Does depend on the fish, with things like carnivorous Tetras being mostly fine on dried foods, whereas herbivorous livebearers are more prone to problems. In any event, it's worth mixing the diet up a bit with wet-frozen foods, fresh foods (like fish fillet and seafood), and green foods (cooked peas, cucumber, blanched lettuce).>
I used to drop the Nerite an algae tablet but he never eats it and would actually mucus up when he touched it so I stopped, having read that it means that it is irritating to the snail.
<Nonsense; can't imagine where you read this!>
I also supplement everyone's diet with fresh bloodworm in nutrient jell about once every two weeks.
<Ah, that's good. Wildly overpriced, but good.>
They seem to like it. I was told that this mixture is just fine for everyone in my tank. Quick question, I have read it is good to supplement a snails diet with cuttlefish bone so the snail doesn't become calcium deficient and start rasping their own shells. Is it a good idea to supplement with the bone?
<Pointless in a hard water aquarium.>
If it is, how often or only in the evidence of shell rasping? Believe it or not, I haven't been able to find too many sites on how to care for Nerite snails. Apple snails, yes but not Nerites. In fact, it took me forever to just be able to identify the species. I found it quite by accident. If you could provide a good article on Nerite care I would appreciate it, especially on behavior so I know if he is acting strangely or is sick.
<Ask and ye shall be given. Do read here:
The most common species in the UK are Neritina natalensis and Vittina coromandeliana.>
As for the tank mates:
Yes, I was lied to about the Pleco and they never did tell me how big he would get.
I asked specifically for good tank mates for Bettas. I was told anything too small like Tetras were a bad idea, since the Betta might take to eating them and anything too big or 'pretty' was a bad idea as well since the beta might feel threatened.
<Quite the reverse. The common Betta, Betta splendens, is not predatory at all (some of the other Betta species are, but they're not widely kept).
What normally happens when Bettas and tetras are mixed is that the poor Betta gets its fins shredded.>
I WAS told that Mollies were good tank mates, by several fish stores.
I will take your expertise however and buy no more mollies since it's the FISH you are concerned with and not my wallet.
<Indeed. I'm not selling anything here.>
To say though, mine seems to be doing very well and seems to be good friends with my Betta.
<Cool. Like I've said many times, something like half the Mollies sold do fine in freshwater tanks. But half of them don't. It's not as simple as them being brackish water fish, since they happily live in freshwater habitats in the wild. But there's something about *aquarium conditions* that causes problems for Mollies, and in general, if you want 100% success, they're best kept in tanks where adding a little salt is an option.
Leastways, they're not "beginners fish" at all.>
If fish can 'cuddle' those two certainly do.
When my Betta likes to lay down the molly will swim up and cuddle into his find and they will lay there for a bit before the molly swims off (he's the most hyper fish in the tank). I was also told that the Platy and the Gourami were good tank mates and actually saw several tanks with these fish in it that has a single Beta mixed in.
<It's "Betta", to rhyme with "better". It doesn't rhyme with "beater".>
The Beta doesn't mind the Platy at all and though he wasn't too fond of the Gourami for a while (he doesn't seem to care about him now that they have shared the same tank for a few weeks). None of them fight or bite each other (that I have noticed and none have turned up with any injuries or shredded fins).
<Bettas and Gouramis are a risky mix. It can sometimes work, but they are closely related and both view the surface of the tank as potential nesting sites. If the two decide to fight for one particular niche, you could have problems. Watch 'em.>
I was also told African Dwarf Frogs are good too.
<Not wild about mixing fish and frogs.>
My friend has one (a nice, fat female) and does ok with her Betta. Mine does nicely too and even 'plays tricks'.
<Yes, the Betta/Hymenochirus mix is one combination that can work quite well. Neither feeds at the same level of the tank (much) so there's not too much competition.>
He (I'm assuming it's a he, its hard to tell. He's larger than my last one but he doesn't seem to be fat like the females tend to be) swim up to the surface to take a breath of air and will swim back down to the bottom, often changing course mid-swim to land on my lounging Bettas head.
Any advice you may have for my tank would be good.
<See above. But honestly, you really need to peruse the WWM site, find out about fish that interest you, and then feel free to ask me *specific*
questions about fish you like, or fish you see in the shops.>
How many fish can live comfortably in a tank my size?
<With small fish, i.e., those about 2.5-5 cm/1-2 inches long when fully grown, like Neons, the rule of 1 inch of fish per gallon of water isn't a bad rule. So a 40 gallon tank could hold 40 inches of fish. Since Neons get to 1.5 inches long, that's about 27 Neons. Obviously if you chose different species, say Danios as well, you'd split up that 40 inch allowance in different ways. A school of 6 Danios, at about 2 inches a piece, would take 6 x 2 = 12 inches of your 40 inch allowance. Actually, in practise you can nudge that stocking density number a little higher, but don't plan on doing that until the tank is 6-12 months old, and you're confident in your skills.>
What are good tank mates for my Betta?
<Remarkably little, because their deformities (the long fins) mean they can't swim properly. They're easily harassed by nippy fish, and often lose out at feeding time. Plus, a 5 gallon tank really isn't big enough for anything else. In a 10 gallon tank you might keep a Betta with a school of half a dozen Corydoras habrosus and a couple of your Dwarf Frogs. Such fish companions would be small, non-competitive, and non-aggressive.>
What kind of 'special treats' or diet supplements are good for the fish I have?
<Often, raiding the kitchen works well. Tiny bits of fresh fish and seafood are great, but so too are some greens. Hard boiled egg yolk goes down surprisingly well with fish, though use sparingly because it will cloud up the water if used too generously.>
Is the diet I am feeding them ok? You know, that sort of thing. Thanks for all the articles and setting me straight.
<Enjoy the site.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

TB or old age?   2/28/10
Background info: I've got a 10 gallon freshwater tank in my college dorm.
Fish: 2 male Platies, 2 female Platies; 5 Neons
About a week ago I had to flush a small angelfish that had also been in the tank. White lesions had appeared around the bases of the fins. These became increasingly larger and more numerous. Unfortunately I finally I had to say ciao for the good of the tank.
<I think you mean "ciao," and with the Angelfish, this tank was severely overstocked. He lived a miserable life, no doubt, until succumbing to illness after a long struggle, and then you thanked him for his efforts by flushing him down the toilet. Please read here on humane euthanasia:
What is confusing is that I've had this angelfish for at least 2 months.
Everything else in the tank has been in there for at least twice that long.
I don't know where this disease could have come from.
<Please test your water. Water quality is surely poor in this small, overstocked aquarium.>
Present day: One male platy has developed a serious hunchback, swims awkwardly, and spends his time with his head shoved between 2 rocks, very rarely moving. He feeds, but much less than before.
<Please test your water. Test Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate, and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. You're looking for Ammonia and Nitrite to be zero, and Nitrate to be under 20.>
Additionally, one female platy is starting to get gradually thinner (not bad yet, but something might be up). Her spine looks slightly more curved also.
<Also, please read on WWM about each of the fish that you keep and their compatibility with each other, needs in terms of temperature, water chemistry, etc.>
Could these symptoms in the Platies be related to the disease the angelfish had? Do you think this is a case of TB or is it just old age (with the Platies, that is)?
<Neither. They're suffering because you have not done proper research prior to stocking your tank, so it is over- and mis-stocked, and your water quality is likely very poor. Please read, read, read, and feel free to write back if you have any questions.

Pregnant Swordtails, red gills, and two clueless tank owners -- 02/22/10
Hello. For my birthday this year, January 9th, my husband decided to get me an aquarium tank.
After four hours at Wal-mart (you don't even have to say it), we walked out with a 10 gallon tank, Whisper filter, bubble stone, a few deco items, fake plants, food, test kits, chemical adjusters, and our fish: 2 Swordtails (2 female, a pineapple and a black tail), 1 Pleco, 1 African Albino Clawed Frog, and a Kissing Gourami (all young).
<You do realise almost none of these animals will survive in a 10 gallon tank. Actually, the plastic plant is the only thing that will be happy.
Swordtails are up to 12 cm/4 inches long, and as their shape should immediately suggest, very fast swimmers. They need tanks at least 90 cm/3 feet long to feel at home. The Plec will get to 45 cm/18 inches within a year or so, while the Kissing Gourami is a big food fish that becomes a slab of meat up to 25 cm/10 inches long at maturity. The frog, Xenopus laevis, might be okay, but it's a coldwater animal that doesn't belong in a tropical aquaria, and frogs and fish rarely mix successfully. I'd suggest you take back everything, and read here:
My husband set up the tank, chemical adjusters and all, and we released the hounds a few hours later.
<What are these "chemical adjusters"? Almost always, beginners shouldn't touch bottles of any potions *other* than water conditioner. Beginners kill more fish using pH buffers than they ever help.>
However, we lost the Kissing Gourami before it even got to the tank, and the AACF didn't make it past a week.
So, we returned the Gourami and exchanged it for a Red Male Swordtail.
<Males are extremely aggressive.>
We gave the frog a proper flushial (burial) and purchased another frog.
<Hold on... why are you buying more animals when you don't know why the ones you had just died?>
A few weeks later our Red Swordtail died.
On Valentines Day, we lost our Pleco with no sign of sickness or ailing, except that he hardly ever touched his Algae wafers and just sucked on whatever else he could (malnourished?)
<No, he was killed through careless maintenance.>
We've been struggling to keep good bacteria in the tank and Ammonia out.
<I bet.>
After extensive research, we've come to the conclusion that we shouldn't have bought fish the same day as the tank.
Last week, we went to a pet store and bought 2 more Plecos and another Swordtail (male).
<Stop! Stop!>
The next day, one of the Plecos was dead.
<Oh, for the love of God! What are you doing here? Are you trying to make me cry? This is sheer insanity! For gosh sakes, take all the fish back, and go buy a book about keeping an aquarium. Clearly you have all kinds of money, since you're happy spending it on fish that die overnight. So choose a book on fishkeeping for beginners, and read the darn thing.>
Last week our Frog's toe was twitching for a few hours, so we changed the water and he stopped after a while. Could that be the Ammonia?
My husband has been changing the tank a few days a week. Mostly doing full tank changes. We just bought Stress Coat & Stress Zyme, API is the brand.
<Look, all the potions in the world won't help UNLESS you know what's going on. For a start, you have too many fish, and none of them belong in this tank. Take them all back. If I was feeling cranky, I'd say you should keep pet rocks or something, but I'll try and be constructive this time around.
Your tank needs cycling. Do that without fish. Set the tank up, run the filter and the heater, and then add a tiny pinch of flake once every other day for the next three weeks. During that time, replace 25% of the water once a week. After the end of the third week, check your water. You should find ammonia is zero and nitrite is close to zero. Carry on doing this, and when both are zero, you're good to go. Buy a few small fish suitable for this aquarium. I'd suggest either six Neons (if you have soft water) or one male and two female Endler's Guppies (if you have hard water). Let them swim about for a couple of weeks and see what happens. If all is good, and nitrite and ammonia stay at zero, you can slowly add more small fish every couple of weeks. Broadly speaking, if you stick with small, Neon-sized fish, you can allow about one inch of fish (i.e., one Neon or Endler's Guppy) per gallon of water. If you add bigger fish, then you can't add so many.>
He's been adding those and is now doing 20% water changes but there doesn't seem to be an improvement.
<I bet.>
Here's the kicker;
<Only now comes the kicker?>
I have noticed a black stripe straight through the black tail Swordfish and just figured it was her color. Well, this weekend, we went away overnight to my in-laws and when we came home Sunday we found a few tiny little unfamiliar moving objects inside the tank. Low and behold they were fry...19 fry. The black tail Sword no longer has that black stripe going through her body but now has a redness under her belly (probably where she gave birth?) and a black sack looking thing near her gills.
<Very sick.>
This led to us noticing a sort of redness on her gills and a redness on our other two Swords gills. We also noticed our pineapple Sword has a black pouch under her tummy as well, and has been there for a weeks now. Could she be pregnant?
If so, what should we do?
<Well, I'm weeping for the poor little souls. This is really not an aquarium for Swordtails.>
They are all acting fine for the most part.
<"Most part"? Half the fish you've bought are dead, and some of the surviving ones are sick...>
So, our questions are, how can we fix our aquariums eco system properly without getting rid of our fish and doing it from scratch?
<Illogical question. You can't keep the fish you have in this aquarium.
It's rather like me asking you "How do I get a ripped body and lose all my flab without eating less and doing any exercise at all?" You have a too-small aquarium that hasn't been cycled and is filled with fish that don't belong there.>
What happened to the black line through our Swordtail and why does she have a black sack near her gills?
<No idea without a photo.>
What do red gills on the swordtails mean?
<Inflammation. Same thing as red patches on humans.>
How should we take care of the Fry, where should we put them?
<Least of your problems right now.>
Any idea how to get our Pleco to suck on something other than an inanimate object?
<Take it back to the shop. It doesn't belong here.>
Thanks a bunch,
<Not sure you're going to be pleased with my reply, but I did my best. Good luck to you all! Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy question... Sm. sys., hexagonal... mis-stocked for what it is  1/14/10
We bought 2 male guppies in November. Within 4 weeks we developed a severe algae problem which we are rectifying with weekly 1 gallon water changes (5 gal tank).
<What? This doesn't make sense to me. Let's recap. Algae problems are caused by all sorts of things, typically high levels of nitrate and phosphate, not enough fast-growing plants, and the wrong amount of light for the plants being kept. Water changes, while helpful, don't "fix" algae problems. You should be doing 25% water changes per week, regardless of the algae problem.>
We added 2 Neons and a Glofish to the tank about 2 weeks ago. The morning after the new fish arrived, the Glofish went missing. The next morning one neon was gone.
<Neons are schooling fish, and should be kept in groups of at least 6 specimens. Anything less is cruel, and as you've observed, they usually end up dead. To be fair, they won't die overnight because of loneliness, but it is a factor to long term success.>
The store thinks these 2 fish must have died and been eaten by the remaining fish.
<Likely. Tell me about water quality. Most fish die prematurely because of water quality. Zero ammonia and zero nitrite are essential. Just to recap, fancy Guppies need hard, basic water that is quite warm; aim for pH 7.5-8.0, 10+ degrees dH, and a temperature of 28-30 degrees C. Neons need acidic, not too hard, rather cool water; pH 6.5-7.5, 5-15 degrees dH, temperature 22-25 degrees C. While some folks mix Guppies and Neons, it doesn't work well, and I'd concentrate on providing good conditions to one or other species. Danios need similar conditions to the Neons, and mix quite well with them. I wouldn't keep Danios with fancy Guppies, partly because they need different conditions, and partly because Danios tend to be boisterous, even nippy. I will also observe that Danios need lots of swimming space: if your aquarium is 60 cm long, it's too short for them.
Smaller tanks frustrate them, making them unhappy fish and potentially more aggressive. Besides, it's bad karma not to give fish the right conditions.
I note with sadness you have a hexagonal tank. These are ALMOST ALWAYS rubbish, and overpriced for what they are. The problem is that the most important part of any aquarium is its surface area. The best tanks are bath-shaped: long, broad, shallow. The worst tanks are vase-shaped: short, narrow, tall. Guess which one you have? Yep, the worst kind. It's a shame these tanks are on sale, but I will point out that any aquarium book would likely have warned you against buying one. The best I can tell you is that these tanks need to be very lightly stocked, maybe half as many fish as an equivalent volume aquarium of regular shape. Let's say this tank is 15 gallons in size, the minimum for fancy Guppies, then at best you'd be adding maybe a couple of males and four females. And even then, it'd be hard work to maintain properly. I cannot stress too strongly just how BAD these aquaria are. They tend to have rubbish filters, are often sold with heaters, and the lights at the top are so poky that few plants will grow (hence the algae problem).>
Since then one of the males has developed a symmetrical spot on either side of the abdomen. The color of the spot can be dark black and can fade to an imperceptible light gray. It is not clear what makes the color change. I have not noticed that food or activity make a difference. The abdomen is also slightly larger than that of the other male. I will attach a photo.
<If the spot is identical on either side of the fish, it's likely simply colouration and nothing to worry about unduly.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

An inherited tank - what to do? Mis-stocking concerns now and ahead  12/29/09
Hello again everyone,
Sorry for more emails. I just found out that I'm inheriting a tank from a friend of mine and to be honest, I'm slightly nervous. Here are the specs:
It's a 38G freshwater tank.
Inhabitants (all juvenile) -
African cichlids:
1 Yellow lab
1 Red by red zebra
1 Cobalt blue
1 Albino zebra
1 OB zebra
1 Sunshine peacock
1 Mel auratus
1 Nimbochromis livingstonii
1 Pseudotropheus acei
1 Turquoise jewel
<These Malawian cichlids will grow fast, easily within one year, and are barely compatible with each other, let alone other fish. Mature male Melanochromis auratus are incredibly aggressive and can (will) kill less aggressive Mbuna such as Pseudotropheus acei and Labidochromis caeruleus.
There is also a very high risk of hybridisation. So what you'll end up with is some fish killing the others, and within a year you'll also have a bunch of unwanted hybrid fish that lack bright colours or predictable behaviours.
You really should rehome these fish. With the possible exceptions of Labidochromis caeruleus and Nimbochromis livingstonii, none of these species have any place in even a boisterous community tank.>
3 Clown Loaches
1 Red-tailed albino shark
1 Hillstream loach
1 Black ghost knife fish
<These fish require entirely different conditions to the Malawians, in particular softer, less basic water. Hillstream loaches also need cool, highly oxygenated water and I can't see them competing with the Mbuna for space on the rocks at all well. There's a very high risk the Hillstream Loach will be battered to death, even before it starves.>
The largest fish in the tank is the ghost and he's about 4 inches long. The tank has a lot of rocks, an undergravel filter with an air pump, and an extra filter that hangs on the side that's meant for a 55G tank. The owner told me that he has had the fish for about 3 months (the tank was cycled before the fish were bought) and never had any problems with sickness or aggression.
<Because these are still juveniles, the male Mbuna aren't yet throwing their weight around. Sexual maturity is attained within 3-4 months, but it may need a few more months for the males to become big enough to cause serious harm.>
I did some research and realize that some of these fishes will grow up to be rather large...will they need a bigger tank?
<My word, yes!>
I have read that it's ok to overpopulate cichlid tanks because this will warrant less aggression (albeit more maintenance but I don't mind that), however, what about the other
<The idea of "overstocking" cichlid tanks is deeply misunderstood. Simply because you add lots of cichlids doesn't suddenly make them peaceful. What happens is you prevent males holding territories, and this reduces, but doesn't eliminate their aggression. The males are still violent, but at a lesser degree because they're trying to claim territories rather than actively holding them. Not all species are equally violent, so if you overstock more aggressive species with less aggressive species, the more aggressive ones will "win", and once they've killed off their rivals, the reduced stocking you get means they're now able to hold territories. So while you can overstock a tank with Mbuna of broadly similar requirements and aggression levels, you can't get away with a random selection.
Overstocking is strictly for advanced aquarists who know precisely what they're doing. Overstocking dramatically increases filtration requirements (likely two or three fold) and water changes need to be far more regular to keep nitrates below 20 mg/l. On top of that increased accumulation of organic acids in the water mean that extra effort needs to be made to prevent acidification. Overstocking doesn't prevent hybridisation either, so within a year you'll still end up with junk fish of no aesthetic or financial value. For casual aquarists, there are no benefits to overstocking and it should be avoided. In any even, if you overstock a Malawi tank and then throw in a bunch of delicate community fish like Apteronotus albifrons and Clown Loaches, you'll kill them.>
What is the acceptable setup for this group of fish?
<Hundreds of gallons. Melanochromis auratus males for example will dominate a 55 gallon tank, i.e., are more than able to systematically batter and kill any other fish they view as rivals in tanks that size. Do pick up a Malawian cichlid book of your choice to review, confirm what I'm saying here.>
I would love to provide them with the 'optimal' one but I'm somewhat restricted in terms of space.
<Not an option here. The original owner clearly did no research here at all, and has handed you a time bomb.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

My African Knife Fish... critical data missing, critical mistakes made in mis-mixing FW lvstk.   12/6/09
Dear WWM,
My roommate and I recently bought a 30 Gallon tank and have put several different fish in it (African Dragon Goby,
<...? Gobioides broussonetti? This is a brackish water species... Read here:
Long-finned Rosy,
<... Barb? A social species; needs to be kept in a shoal>
Bala Shark, Dinosaur Bichir,
2 Needlefish, my African Knife fish, and various feeder fish)
<Come on! Are you joking? Really... I do hope so. This mix will not survive long here>
. I'm concerned about my African Knife because when I first got it, it was all brown and looked quite healthy. Now however, there are several large areas on its skin that aren't white per say, but rather look like the color has faded to a much, much lighter brown.
<... could be "just" stress, with the mix of other life here; or simply
incompatibilities with water quality... What is the pH, GH/KH of the water? Temperature?>
But it's patchy and not gradual. I've researched all of the different diseases these types of fish can acquire, and none of them seem to match what my Knife has. I read the symptoms of the disease that causes white bubble like sores, but that's not what this looks like. In addition, one of the needlefish is getting irritated with the other needlefish.
<... have you read re the life history, requirements of these species?>
They've been getting along for weeks now and all of a sudden the one is snapping at the other for following it too closely it seems. Is this normal? Please respond ASAP! I don't want my Knife, or any of the others, to die.
Thank you so much for your time.
<Please tell me you're pulling our proverbial fins here. READ re each of these species, and return most of them, and/or get other systems NOW to separate them into on the basis of their biology. Bob Fenner>

My African Knife Fish... Neale's go in our parallel universe    12/6/09
Dear WWM,
My roommate and I recently bought a 30 Gallon tank
<Insanely small for the fish you're keeping.>
and have put several different fish in it (African Dragon Goby,
<What is this? The Dragon Goby is Gobioides broussonnetii, a brackish water fish that WILL not live long in freshwater.>
Long-finned Rosy,
<A subtropical schooling fish.>
Bala Shark,
<A very big schooling fish.>
Dinosaur Bichir,
<Polypterus senegalus, I take it?>
2 Needlefish,
<Extremely nervous fish, and not suited to robust communities at all. Plus they are tricky to feed.>
my African Knife fish,
<Xenomystus nigri?>
and various feeder fish).
<I hope you understand why "feeder" fish are dangerous for your fish? One of the aspects of fishkeeping you need to get your head around is feeding predatory fish. The old approach of throwing in some feeders and hoping for
the best is wrong on so many levels. For a start, minnows and goldfish have dangerously high levels of thiaminase and fat. Secondly, live foods seem to increase aggression. Thirdly, feeder fish are a CLASSIC route of infection
for various -- often incurable -- infections and parasites.
I have no idea why feeder fish are still sold in the US; there are no advantages to using them, even once. I have an article in an upcoming copy of TFH Magazine called "Killer Instinct" about precisely this topic. Keep your eyes peeled.>
I'm concerned about my African Knife because when I first got it, it was all brown and looked quite healthy. Now however, there are several large areas on its skin that aren't white per say, but rather look like the color has faded to a much, much lighter brown.
<Bacterial infection of some sort. Likely caused by stress, but whether through poor water quality, the stress of being kept in such a small tank, or exposure to live feeders I cannot say.>
But it's patchy and not gradual. I've researched all of the different diseases these types of fish can acquire, and none of them seem to match what my Knife has. I read the symptoms of the disease that causes white bubble like sores, but that's not what this looks like.
<Bubble-like sores? Sure, some external bacterial infections will form pockets of gas as decay progresses, but not all. In fact most Finrot infections don't, and nor do most Mycobacterium infections. Finrot infections are curable; Mycobacterium infections are not.
In addition, one of the needlefish is getting irritated with the other needlefish.
<They are schooling fish; keep in groups of three or more, ideally at least five.>
They've been getting along for weeks now and all of a sudden the one is snapping at the other for following it too closely it seems. Is this normal?
<When kept badly, yes.
Please respond ASAP! I don't want my Knife, or any of the others, to die.
<Seriously, you should have thought about this *before* you bought the fish, *before* you put them in a crazily small tank, and *before* you started using feeder fish. All this information exists in books, magazines, and indeed on this web site. I'm always happy to answer questions from aquarists before they go shopping, and to give some ideas about what might work in a given aquarium, or what a certain fish needs.>
Thank you so much for your time.
<Happy to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: My African Knife Fish   12/6/09
Ok, so what should I do for the bacterial infection you said? for my African knife? I'll take it out obviously, but what medications should I use?
<It's not as simple as this. First of all, is the bacterial infection simple Finrot (which is caused by bad conditions in the tank, often exacerbated/triggered by physical damage) or is it a Mycobacterium infection? You can't answer this unless you're a vet, so let's assume you don't know. The first step is therefore to check the environment. What is the water chemistry like? What about the water quality? My money would be on a Finrot infection (in other words, Aeromonas, Pseudomonas, etc. rather than Mycobacterium simply because these are more common in situations like yours). For an antibiotic like Maracyn to have any effect, you'd need to optimise water quality. If the environment stays bad, or you move the fish to a hospital tank with bad water quality, then all the antibiotics in the
world aren't going to help. You also need to remember that "oddball" fish often have a low tolerance for copper- and formalin-based medications, so when you choose (and use) an anti-Finrot medication, do so carefully.
Finally, you need to identify the fish you've got, sort out which ones you're actually able to keep, and re-home the others. Bob and I both wrote back in the same sort of way to your message because it was such a crazy collection of fish that couldn't possibly be kept together -- let alone in 30 gallons! -- that Bob was in disbelief, and I was simply horrified. You have your work cut out for you, I'm afraid. We're happy to help, so please do ask all the questions you need, but do yourself a favour and read about fish species before you buy them. Easier, cheaper, safer. Cheers, Neale.>

75 gallon community; all sorts of selection and compatibility "issues" - 11/07/09
Dear WWM,
<Hello John,>
I currently have a 75 gallon FW aquarium with a canister filter, heater, and bubbler running for the past month. This tank is a direct upgrade from a 30 gallon tank I had been running and only has 2 additions in the past month. The tank currently is stocked with a
1 Tinfoil barb
<Schooling fish, will get very big eventually.>
1 Plecostomus
<Gets big, very quickly, and is incredibly messy; usually recommend Ancistrus (Bristlenose cats) instead.>
1 Dalmatian Molly
<Does best in brackish water; tend to be delicate in freshwater.>
1 Kissing Gourami
1 Red Tailed Shark
<Aggressive, but this tank should be adequate to avoid serious problems.>
1 Albino Rainbow Shark
<Ditto; in fact, be surprised if these two Shark-Minnows don't spend all the time chasing each other.>
1 Eclipse Catfish
<Also known as the Sun Catfish, Horabagrus brachysoma; gets very big (45 cm!) and is a schooling, non-territorial predator; will eat many of these fishes.>
1 Pictus Catfish
<Also a schooling predator.>
1 Albino Cory Catfish
<A schooling fish; likely terrified kept on its own.>
1 Snail
1 Dragon Goby
<Gobioides sp., I take it? Definitely a brackish water fish, and will not live long in freshwater.>
and had had 1 Powder Blue dwarf Gourami.
<Dead, I take it; no surprise, these are garbage fish in my opinion. Avoid.>
Now that you know about me let me tell you my problem. Attached is a picture of my Dwarf Gourami, note the perforations in his tail and odd spots on his side.
<Could be bite marks, to be honest. In a tank with these animals, a Dwarf Gourami is at best a sitting target for aggression, and at worst, live food.>
I believe this to be Dwarf Gourami Disease or perhaps a bacterial infection like fin rot but I do not know.
<Could be either.>
The problem is that I had a fire red Dwarf Gourami about 2.5 months back that came down with a very similar disease, that fish died. I am wondering if all my other fish are at risk or if this is simply a manifestation of DGD and I should not worry for the rest of my aquarium?
<I'd write of Colisa lalia and be done with them. So, do you have problems with the aquarium? Yes indeed! The mix of fish is, let us say, adventurous, and the Dragon Goby at the very least has a limited lifespan without being moved to a brackish water aquarium.
There are schooling fish in there that need to be kept in groups, and some of the fish get extremely large and/or are predatory. Time to pick up a book about aquarium fish, read up on what they need, and concentrate on keeping fish that you are prepared to provide for properly. Keeping single specimens of schooling fish isn't fair, and keeping brackish water fish in a freshwater aquarium is doomed.>
Thank you for your time
<Always happy to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>


Please help... FW, CAE... fish hlth, env.... reading   -- 11/1/09
I really need fast advice.
<That's why we recommend buying a book about fishkeeping before you buy any fish. Sounds pedantic, but nothing beats having some reliable, edited text in front of you that tells you what you need to know.>
I have a 4 yr old 55 gallon FW tank. 1 Gold Gourami, 6 tiger barbs, 3 cherry barbs, 2 young Chinese algae eaters, 1 red tail shark, 4 Cory catfish, and 1 clown loach. Since my CAE are young and small, I feel it's
not over stocked.
<Well, good luck with that. I'm afraid I have little time for this fish species. It's widely known to be a trouble maker, and there's no Earthly reason at all why anyone would add one to a community tank. They're
aggressive, they're bullies, and they can physically damage other fish while fighting or simply attacking them to rasp away at the mucous on their bodies. All around, a bad fish.>
I do regular water changes about 1 a mo., about 20-30 gallons. I lost my clown loach, 1 tiger barb, 1 CAE, and it seems as if, all the rest want to follow.
<Oh dear. Now, when you have a series of different fish species dying, it's a good sign the environment is wrong at some level.>
My Nitrate levels for some reason are sky high!!!!
<Great! You're ahead of me here. So...>
I immediately did a water change...( I'm currently waiting for the water to reach 77-79 degrees and put my fish back in :) I added new carbon to 1 filter.
<Carbon = largely useless in this type of aquarium. Even nitrate-removing filtration media would be massively overwhelmed. Remember, nitrate-removing media are designed to be economical in tanks that are very lightly stocked and receive very little food, i.e., marine reef tanks. They are not economical in tanks "stuffed to the brim" with community tank species.>
Should I continue to do water changes until nit3 and nit2 reach zero?
<Nitrite should be zero all the time, every day. If it wasn't zero, that's why your fish are dead. Nitrate is a more subtle stressor, and while certainly toxic in the long term, particularly to cichlids, it isn't normally an immediate cause of death. For standard community tanks, levels above 20 mg/l are fine provided they don't exceed 50 mg/l.>
I really love my fish and have had all but the CAE for about 4 years. only down fall in doing the water changes daily is waiting for the water temp. to reach the correct temp. due to it being cold here.
<Actually, adding warm tap water to your bucket of new water won't do any harm. I assume you're not using straight RO or rainwater with zero hardness, because that would kill your fish pretty quickly too. So let's assume you're using plain vanilla tap water. That being so, mixing warm and cold water in the bucket is fine, and just add water conditioner. Any decent brand of conditioner will neutralise the copper from the hot water tank as well as the chlorine.>
Please advise me of any chemical I may use, if any to prevent me from losing any more of my beautiful fish...
<"Adding" chemicals (other than dechlorinator) usually doesn't help at all.
Do read here:
Thanks in Advance :)
<Cheers, Neale.>

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