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FAQs on Freshwater Diseases 4

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

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FAQs on Freshwater Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional,
Social, Trauma, Genetic, Pathogenic (plus see Infectious and Parasitic categories below), Treatments 

Related FAQs:  Toxic Situations, Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseWorm Diseases, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Crayfish, cichlids; health ... English... "Buttons are not toys"    7/31/08 ok so I have had my electric blue crayfish for about 5 months now. he's appx. 5 inches long. <Cool. Now, make sure you don't keep him with any fish.> doing well until I accidentally introduced a seemingly well cichlid into the tank. <Oh dear.> he blew up and died about a week ago. I think the Cray may have eaten it! <Well, fish don't "blow up and die" for no reason. Crayfish can catch living fish and eat them, and they certainly will consume fish that are sick/dead for other reasons.> he's pretty lethargic now and he sits cocked up to one side and his legs on top just sway back and forth. he really wont eat and I know he's dying. is there anything I can do?? <No information here to work from. How big is this tank? What filter are you using? What is the water chemistry (at minimum: the pH)? What is the water quality (at minimum: the nitrite concentration)? Almost certainly water quality is an issue, if not THE issue.> pet smart gave me 'gel Tek' 'ultra cure PX' <Pointless, unless you know what's wrong and how you cure it. Since you have no idea what the problem is, how can you treat the animal?> they said it would be ok for him to eat too, but he really wont. and now my other cichlids are getting blown up looking too. <Ah, definitely water quality.> I noticed when the other cichlid died her scales were like coming up. don't know if any of that helps, but what can I do to save my Cray and my cichlids!??? I know by the way everyone looks I don't have long! thank you! <I'm assuming this is an overstocked, under-filtered tank, quite possibly with the wrong water chemistry for the species being kept. Without names for these cichlids, it's impossible to say what conditions they require. Some (e.g., Mbuna) need hard, alkaline water. Others (e.g., Severums) need soft, acidic water. All cichlids need spotlessly clean water with zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and ideally as little nitrate as possible, certainly less than 50 mg/l. In any event YOU CAN'T MIX CRAYFISH WITH FISH. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: crayfish, cichlids; health 8/2/08 well the cichlids are African Kribensis, and I've had them since birth. still have the parents in a diff tank. the water is fine, for all, checked it over and over. <If you say so!> the cichlid I introduced was already sick, I know that, now) and when he died, the Kribs ate it and I think so did the crab. <Letting fish eat dead fish is asking for trouble. Many diseases are spread that way. Remove fish as soon as they die, and ideally isolate them when they're sick.> they were all fine till about 3 days after the Wal-Mart fish died. he seems to be fine with my fish, I've never seen him raise a claw to them. not that it wont or cant happen! <Indeed. Many cichlids become territorial only once sexually mature, which may take 6-12 months, depending on the species.> I am well aware of that. so total in the tank I have 2 cichlids, and 5 small tetras, and the Cray. the cichlids are still juvenile, only about an inch and a half. all were fine until I put the seemingly fine Wal-Mart fish (which I didn't buy, a friend did.) in. <If you can't quarantine new fish, then you should be very carefully about selecting additional livestock -- so accepting fish from friends really isn't a good idea.> I have a 50 gal tetra filter, with two filters, and a 20 long, which will soon be a 30 long. I know I need at least a 50, but funds are low right now. there's plenty of room for them, the Cray doesn't seem to mind, he's usually busy and healthy, molted about 4 times successfully. <Seems as if you're aware of the potential problems but depending on luck. While we've all done that one time or another, it's hardly the best strategy.> its definitely a sickness from the Wal-Mart fish. <Why do you say that? Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Unfortunately, there's no guarantees that just because you've _added_ a new fish, the aquarium has _developed_ problems because those new fish were sick. While it can happen, it can also happen that the additional fish overwhelm the filter, or break up the social structures, or a variety of other possibilities.> I think by eating the dead sick fish they got sick. <OK, if you say so. Can't say I'm convinced.> the tetras I don't think ate any because they are fine and I'm sure the cichlids didn't let em get to eat any of the dead fish. <Hmm...> I noticed though that the cichlids scales look funny too. this just started. they seem to be itching on the rocks. no ich though. can you think of anything??? <Many things. If they're itching themselves, then Ick/Velvet are both possibilities, and both can make a fish sick *without* obvious external symptoms, because both diseases attack the gills before the skin. If the fish are breathing heavily, for example, as well as itching, that's a good clue that Velvet is in the tank. Saying the "scales looks funny" doesn't help much. Are we talking excessive mucous, making the body look cloudy? That's usually a water quality/water chemistry issue. Are the scales sticking outwards, like the scales on a pine cone? That's Dropsy (oedema) a symptom of a variety of things from internal bacterial infections through to inappropriate use of "tonic salt". Cheers, Neale.>

Re: crayfish, cichlids; health 8/2/08 ok so I'm not god, I don't know for absolute sure that the Wal-Mart fish did it but here's my evidence... got 2 cichlids (don't know what there were, just they were yellow.) <Likely Yellow Labs, Labidochromis caeruleus. A smallish, fairly well behaved Mbuna.> kept em quarantined for month and a half. one got fat, and died. <Right. If this happens *in the quarantine tank* then you obviously don't put the survivor into your display tank. You run through all the possible diseases, or ideally, and what I would have done, you take them back to the store. This of course assumes the water conditions in the quarantine tank were appropriate to the species in question. For a Mbuna, that would mean hard, alkaline water with zero ammonia/nitrite, and low levels of nitrate (less than 20 mg/l if possible). There is *absolutely* no point quarantining in a tank that isn't cycled or doesn't have an appropriate chemical filter to remove ammonia directly. You can't just stick in a new filter and hope for the best. If new fish are exposed to a cycling tank, OF COURSE they're going to get sick and die. You may known this, but I'm just putting this out here fair and square so other people reading this can understand things.> thought it was because of the water, they were in with goldfish, I know, but it was the only thing I could do at midnight (drunk friends do dumb but thoughtful things). I wasn't going to risk putting em in my good tank. not fair for the goldies I know, but what else could I have done??? <Hmm... no idea.> so when one yellow fish died, after being fine for a month I figured it was indeed the water. <Why "the water"? Think about this logically for a moment. Fish live in water. They like water. So why would water kill them? There are really only two ways that water *conditions* can kill them -- either the wrong chemistry or poor water quality. Pick and choose. If 50% of your new livestock die, then your plan of action is firstly to see if the environment was right. At minimum, you check nitrite and pH. In the case of Mbuna, you'd need zero nitrite and a pH around 8.0. If this tested fine, you would then look for possible symptoms of disease. But you would absolutely NOT move the remaining "healthy" 50% into the show tank until you'd at least checked off all the possible diseases and perhaps treated proactively.> so I moved the last yellow cichlid to my good tank in hopes it wouldn't die too. after about a week he did die, at night. <I'm concerned that these "mystery yellow fish" are Mbuna, and you're exposing them to completely inappropriate water chemistry and quality. Just to reiterate, Mbuna need water with a high level of carbonate hardness and a high pH. Adding "tonic salt" will not work. Kribs will tolerate -- but don't appreciate -- such conditions, and South American cichlids will be positively stressed by them.> nothing I could do. by the time I woke up he was already being consumed...I'm not depending on luck, but I'm trying to do the best I can with what I have. <We've all been here. Which is why I'm stressing research and water chemistry/quality so strongly. You have very little scope for error and seemingly no Plan B, so you have to get things right first time. This demands a slow, methodical approach rather than hoping for the best. In other words, carefully identify all your livestock. Write down what conditions they require. Determine whether you can provide those conditions. We can help with all of these things. But so too will a good book. Libraries are full of them.> I did not ask for these fish nor did I want them. like I said drunken present at midnight. not something I would have ever done. didn't need any more fish. now, the velvet thing sounds like what I have. a lot. would this cause my Cray to be sick too?? <Crayfish won't get sick from the disease, but they certainly can carry the infectious stages of the parasite life cycle on their bodies. In any event, any Velvet medication can, likely will, kill the crayfish because they contain formalin and/or copper, both highly poisonous to invertebrates.> and what do you recommend to fix it? <Remove the Crayfish to a quarantine tank. Treat the tank with a Whitespot/Velvet combo medication. Nothing tea-tree oil based! Remember to remove carbon from the filter (if you use the stuff). http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwfishmeds.htm Once I'd finished that course of medications, I'd perhaps run something for systemic bacterial infections, for example Maracyn.> thanks for being prompt, I don't think I have much time! <Cheers, Neale.>

Black pom poms... no data of any sort ID  5/26/08 My freshwater fish tank has been afflicted with numerous black balls like pom poms the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil. What are they and how can I get rid of them? Thanks <... gots me... Any chance for a pic or two, water quality tests, history and make up of your system? Bob Fenner>

Re: got prob again 5/16/08 hello, dear Neale, thank you so much that u answered my question even you were busy, thanks a lot. <You are most welcome!> May God blesses you and ill medicate them until they become fully active and fresh but until I use medicine should I introduce more fish or not? <Medicate the fish until healthy. Once you are happy the fish are in perfect condition, and the water quality is good, then think about adding another fish.> thanks ALI <Have a good weekend, Neale.>

Sick fish in distilled water- yikes! -05/07/08 HELP!!! My fish is floating at the top of the tank. It is sideways so I can see it. Some scales are missing and it is hardly breathing. <Sounds to be on the way out, to be honest.> It looks normal apart from that but it is very skinny. <Suggest starvation... have you been feeding it properly?> I've put it in a separate tank with clean, distilled water. <Distilled water will kill your fish. Remove. NOW!> What is wrong with it and what do I do? Please help me save my fish. <No idea. Need you to tell me what the fish is, how big the aquarium is, what the pH and nitrite measurements are. Describe the symptoms. Then we can do something (perhaps). Cheers, Neale.>  

Question about disease/illness in FW 5/6/08 Hello, <Hi> What is the most likely diagnosis for a fish that breathes rapidly and stays on the bottom of the tank. There are no physical signs on an illness on the fish's body. I have had this happen a few times and find it hard to diagnose and treat in quarantine. Both times it happened was when the fish was in my quarantine tank after purchase. Thanks for your help. Zach <By far the most common cause of these symptoms is water quality issues.> <Chris>

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

Re: Fish suddenly sick   3/17/08 Hi Neale, <Allison,> Unfortunately, all my fish died over about a three-day period (after the pH shock I wrote to you about a few weeks ago, see the email below). <Not entirely surprised, but I'm sorry anyway.> I don't feel up to trying to do another community tank, and after all that I don't even think I believe in the pet aquarium business anymore, but I have a beautiful 30-gallon aquarium set up and don't want it to go to waste, so I am thinking of just getting a male Betta. <Ah, don't give up! Figure out what went wrong. My recommendation would be this: go hard water! A hard water aquarium is easy to set up, and chemically VERY stable. Put plenty of calcareous media in the filter to act as a buffer, and maybe mix some coral sand in with the plain gravel or silica sand substrate. Use limestone or Tufa rock for decoration. Skip live plants or at least use plants that like hard water (such as Vallisneria, Egeria, Anubias, and Java fern). What fish? Livebearers are the way to go! Other good hard water fish including wrestling halfbeaks and Australian Rainbowfish. Plenty of scope between these for size, colour and temperament. The big "score" for hard water tanks is they intrinsically buffer themselves, so wild pH changes shouldn't happen. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm  Trust me on this; such a tank will be easy to maintain!> I don't have any bacteria left in the tank. Do you think I can get the singular Betta and the cycle won't be too bad, or should I do a fishless cycle? <Do a thorough clean-out of the tank and filter, start from scratch, and use a Fishless cycle product of your choice. Bio-Spira is popular, but I'm Old School and simply grab some established media from another tank.> I'm only going to have this one fish and there will be a lots of dilution for his pollution, but I've read that the bacteria won't build up until the ammonia spikes. Do I really need to have a big spike or can the bacteria get started even without lots of ammonia? <Bacteria DO NOT need a spike in ammonia. Just a little. 0.5 mg/l or less is ample.> Thanks, Allison <Cheers, Neale.>  

Various issues with guppies, Gourami, molly and giant Danio- Itching, not eating, fungus, White "poo" the list goes on- Please help! Iatrogenic issues...  -- 03/10/08 There are so many different possibilities on what's wrong with my fish the 100's that I have read are doing nothing but confusing me more- So, I turn to you and Thank you in advance for your assistance and your extremely useful/informative site- Now, where do I begin? Yesterday I had one of my male FT guppies die- this was in my 10 gallon tank <Hard to keep such small volumes stable, optimized...> and about 1 week prior a piece of his tale came missing- then a few days later he started "shimmying" then a day before he died his back tail got "clamped" and yesterday he succumbed...I had just bought a used 20 gallon (so I can convert my 10 to a hospital/quarantine tank) and after his death I moved all the fishies, gravel, fake plants, and filter media only to the 20 gallon. <Good> The light is much better in there and I saw that on my other male guppy he has 2 fairly large scaleless patches on both of his front side fins and its white where the scales used to be. my sm/med Molly and guppy are noticed to be scratching on everything- but no other visible symptoms Just scratching seems pretty vague- No white spots, and still eating- but I do assume that this is related to the death of my other male guppy <Likely so> and possibly the male Betta that I just took out of the tank yesterday (thinking maybe he was the one who caused the missing piece of fin, <Could well be> but he's still healthy)- One big problems is I went to the LFS store today and they gave me Organi Cure <Uhh, don't use this... too toxic> and said to use it and it was safe- dumb me put it right in and then noticed that it was for MARINE FISH-- ugh...So about a half hour after putting it in I re-inserted the carbon and am now about to change half of the water....is it safe after this to put quick cure for FRESHWATER fish in after this?? <NOT safe to use formalin period...> And is it safe to add aquarium salt to this tank to aid in the medicine with neon tetras in there? <Mmm, Neons don't "like" much salt...> My next issue is in my 100 gallon- this as of yesterday is now completely cycled- the day before my Nitrites were still reading about 1.0ppm but now its gone completely and my Ammonia has been gone for at least a week- One of my dwarf Gouramis is acting "ill"- <... it wasn't present during the nitrite...?> and I have a Giant Danio that has had a white spot on his lower lip (maybe "fuzzy") for at least a week but no other symptoms (still swimming and eating like crazy!) Gourami (100 gal)- "hiding" either on ground or upper back corner of tank- not eating or moving much- going on for at least a day and I did notice that him and one of my other blue dwarf Gourami's have "white stringy fecal matter" (haven't noticed anyone else though) <The species of Dwarf Gourami, Colisa lalia is notorious for ill health issues... see WWM re> pH: 8.2 in both (has remained stable) ammonia: 0 in 100 gal (20 isn't really anything since all new water today 2 days ago it was around 1) nitrite: 0 in 100gal (20 now irrelevant 2 days ago around .5) <Any present is toxic> tank temp: 78 in both now but before I changed the 10 gal to 20 I realized the heater was broke in 10 and the water temp was about 70-72 Volume and Frequency of water changes: 100 gal about a week ago 25% 20 gallon all of it yesterday (when moving everyone from 10) and about to do half since I think it might be over medicated Chemical Additives or Media in your tank: Charcoal in both- (double dose Prime with all water changes In 100- Aquarium salt (about 15 tablespoons), aquarium fertilizer for plants (safe for fish) but only half dose, Bio-Spira about a weeks ago In 20- While everyone was in 10 gal I had 2 tablespoons of salt (is it safe for tetras?) and in the 10 gallon yesterday morning(?) I did put one of those Lifeguard tablets in for about 20 min (about half dissolved) then took it out put in the charcoal and my husband then put a "fungus tablet" by jungle in there (it was only in there for about a hour and half before I found out and put the charcoal filter back in- Since yesterday after changing everyone into the 20 gallon (with all new water) and just added the Organi Cure (which contains formaldehyde and Copper) <Yes... both toxic...> It was in there for about an hour that not only was it for marine fish but I gave the marine fish dose (1 drop per gallon) so I put the charcoal filter back in- Tank inhabitants:100 Gal- 3 male Gouramis, 5 Mickey Platies, 3 Bala sharks, 2 mollys,2 giant Danios, 3 Bloodfin tetras, 2 med/lrg angelfish- 1 rainbow shark and 1 albino rainbow shark 20 gallon- 5 neon tetras, 4 molly fry, 1 sm/med molly, 4 FT guppies 2 male (1just got today(oops)) <Ummm... see below> 2 female Recent additions to your tank: 100 gallon - plants- always rinsing and adding more plants but I do take out ones that look anywhere near bad and added the albino rainbow today and new bubble wand 20- just added replacement male guppy today and new tank/filter/heater/water yesterday I finally ask how should I treat these itchy fish that are scratching their scales off?? Should I QT them and/or treat the whole tank and with what and Should I treat the old tank prior to putting anyone else in there (could it be in the gravel that's left) (whatever "it" is) What should I do about my Gourami- I want to put him in my hospital tank but I am afraid that there is something still in there from yesterday....AND should I worry about the Giant Danio? Maybe QT and treat him also? Thank you so much for following all this and I am sorry about the length I just wanted to make sure I had everything covered in order to get the most accurate advice....I am ever so grateful to all and any assistance I receive...Thanks again!! V/R a newbie that needs to stay away from the meds and stop buying and stocking so many tanks!!! (but I just don't want my fishies to suffer by being in cramped quarters or being ill and want to help ASAP!!) <We, you, need to skip back a few steps... a very good deal, okay, all of the problems presented could/should be avoided through simple use of isolation/quarantine of new specimens... Posted on WWM... the sudden loss of your Guppies... may well be infectious... see the Net re Chondrococcus columnaris... the treatment you list (OrganiCure) ingredients are dangerous to use, should NOT be placed in main/display tanks (only in controlled treatment ones)... and the mixes of livestock... Neons and some of the livebearers (e.g. Mollies) are poor... too wide-differences in temperature and water quality... I strongly encourage you to stop buying livestock (for a few months) and instead going to the public library or online and buying/borrowing a few standard books on freshwater aquariums, reading them at your leisure, taking down good notes... The many and grievous errors you are making will just kill more livestock... Bob Fenner>

Re: Various issues with guppies, Gourami, molly and giant Danio- Itching, not eating, fungus, White "poo" the list goes on- Please help! -- 03/18/08 Your advice about stopping the increase of my fish load and educating myself on aquarium care and each species requirements is perfect and I honestly have been trying to do just that. <Very good.> I don't plan on having the mollies in with the Neons much longer- only until they are big enough to not get eaten in my main tank (they are 4 fry and its taking forever for them to grow) <Fry should take 3-4 months to get big enough to return to a community tank.> My husband and Dad both seem to think all this carefulness is a bunch of "bull" and it was my dad that started this whole thing in the first place by buying my 5 month old son a 1 gallon quickly followed by a 10 gallon fish tank and overstocked them with inappropriate fish, which in turn guilted me into buying a 100 gallon (used) tank so they could spread out- (and then a 20gallon so I could use the 10 for a "hospital" or QT tank and have a tank for the non aggressive fish). <I'm sure your Dad has many wonderful character traits and personal skills, but when keeping animals of any sort, you DO need to be careful. It's like raising kids: some people make very little effort to raise their kids, and the kids turn out nice as pie. But often times when people are neglectful parents, the kids get ruined. If you want to raise great kids with the most chance of success, you need to make an effort. Same with fish: some people have great fish tanks but do nothing more than change the water once a month. But most folks who take this approach end up with dead fish. So here at WWM we advocate a "best practise" approach that delivers the highest likelihood of success.> Dad has had a 55 gallon for quite sometime now and has never paid attention or attempted to learn anything about the Cycle process, water quality, compatibility, or health of fish- His method of fishkeeping is buy em put em in the tank feed 4 times a day and when one dies flush then get a replacement. <Flushing fish down the loo may well be breaking a law in your state. In any case, his approach is about comparable to parents who say children should be beaten on a regular basis. Might have been acceptable in Victorian times, but not any more.> I am trying to take a more educated approach- even though fish don't have "nerves" (according to him) and cant "feel" I still find it important to take the best care of them I can providing my resources. <Your Dad is out of step with the science; there's increasing evidence that fish can feel pain, though perhaps not in quite the same way as mammals. At least some of the argument against fish feeling pain is a way of rationalising fishing: if we discover that fish do feel having a hook placed in their mouth and then dragged by it out of the water, can we really treat fishing as a harmless sport? I say this as someone who quite enjoys angling.> Luckily I've finally got both men to stop stocking the tanks for now ( it took a while there have been quite a few additions since my last email) and taking care of what I have is what the majority of my time has turned into- Of course with a 5 month old the only time I can do anything is when he's sleeping which leaves me no time to sleep myself :). I am trying to educate myself as quickly as possible and I have even tried to return some of the fish but the places they bought them from won't take them back. <Very good.> I have initiated the use of the QT tank and have treated a couple of my fish with great success thus far- My only ongoing problems - not surprisingly to you I am sure- Is my dwarf Gouramis. <Total waste of space, these fish.> My first one finally passed and I can't help but think it was only because he wouldn't eat- I didn't see him eat a thing for well over a month...after treating him with Fungus clear (I thought it was worth a try because he was swimming and "resting" on his side and/or upside down and it treated swim bladder) he became right side up within 24 hours and no longer seemed ill aside from the not eating (when I fed him he always appeared to try to get the food but couldn't aim right or something) At any rate he passed a few days ago and my 2nd one (a reminder I have 3) started not eating and seemed to have a bubble in his belly. My husband put him into QT but we haven't done any sort of treatment except trying to get him to eat (peas included). My 3rd still seems fine however I did move him from the 100 gallon to the 20 because I noticed today that my Angels were nipping and chasing him away from the food (and as soon as I put him in the 20 gallon he pigged out) <Angels can be bullies at the best of times. Anyway, re: Dwarf Gouramis, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm > Anyways- my new questions are solely related to DGD- I have read that this disease stays in tanks after the sick is gone- now, is this only if the infected actually dies in the tank or if they show symptoms in it? <It's a viral disease, and no-one really knows whether it "stays" in tanks. Some viruses can lie dormant for ages, other viruses die quickly if they have no hosts. No-one really knows how it is transferred between fish, either. I'd tend to avoid Dwarf Gouramis anyway, hence for me it's an academic question, not a practical one.> Also, the one symptom none of my Gouramis have had is the skin lesions. I've looked very carefully at all 3 and did not see any abnormalities at all. Does this mean that they do not have DGD or is this not a necessary symptom to classify it as such. <May be other things. Dwarf Gouramis do get sick from Finrot, constipation, and all the other things aquarium fish can suffer from. It's just that in my experience here in England, most of the sick Dwarf Gouramis I see in shops have symptoms of the viral disease, so when I hear/read stories about sick Dwarf Gouramis, I tend to put the viral disease at the top of the list of suspects.> I guess that's not my only problem because I have noticed that almost all of my fish have had the white sometimes even clear and/or tape-like segmented feces. Does this mean I should be treating them all for parasites? <Unless you actually see worms (tapeworms or thread-like worms poking out of the anus) likely not; constipation or lack of fibre is a more likely problem. Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head will also cause similar symptoms, though this disease is most often seen (in FW tanks) with cichlids. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwwormdisfaqs.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfoods,fdg,nutr.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm  > Its a come and go thing and other than these issues they seem perfectly healthy. Thank you so much for your extremely informative and helpful website and your time and dedication you give to us new hobbyists. I am sure its frustrating when so many people jump into these things feet first without any previous education or forethought and then have to come to you when the inevitable problems begin to arise. <Ah, you "get it"! Yes indeed, if people researched before they bought their fish, we'd get a lot fewer messages! But even if people do make mistakes, what matters is that they learn from them. I've done some really stupid things in my time... for example putting a too-small male halfbeak with a female (she ate him!). When stuff happens, figure out what went wrong, come up with a better plan, and move on.> Thank you again for your time and this amazing resource. Very Respectfully, A dedicated student. <Good luck! Neale.>

FW... disease, learning   2/15/08 Hi Guys. <John> In the last two days, 4 of my 13 fish have started flashing. <Mmm... have you "done" something recently to the tank? Added any new fish, live plants or foods?> Sterba's Cory Albino Cory Juvenile Black Molly <Mmm... a brackish water animal...> Juvenile Red Wag I've looked hard but at this point I do not know whether it is velvet or ich. <Or...?> I want to protect the other fish but I can't take the flashing fish out of my 30G as my 10G quarantine tank is being used right now. The only meds I know that treat both velvet and ich is CopperSafe but half my fish are Corys and I had a bad experience with CopperSafe before. <I would not use copper...> I feel like I should be doing something now but am I supposed to wait until I see obvious signs of what it is before I use any meds? The flashing is pretty regular so I know something is wrong but at what point would one normally use meds? <On more assurity of their need, usefulness> I'm still pretty new to this so please forgive my ignorance. I did try to find an answer to this by hitting a lot of the forums and Google searching but I couldn't find anything that was specific enough hence my bothering you guys. Thanks. John Murphy. <Raising temperature may be enough here to effect some relief... Read on WWM (again) re Ich... and re the Molly: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm  and http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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

Freshwater Aquarium Issue, dis... env.?  1/27/08 Hello, <Ave.> Your site is a great resource. I read the FAQs nearly everyday and have learned a lot. I have a problem with one of my aquariums that has me pretty much stumped. <Hmm...?> The aquarium is a 55 gallon that has been set up for about 6 months. It has a Marineland HOB filter (rated at 350 gph) and a new Fluval 305 Canister filter. <Sounds good.> Its inhabitants are 3 Congo Tetras, 2 Geophagus Surinamensis, 1 gold Severum and a Rainbow Shark (all less than 3 inches). I do weekly water changes of about 25%. Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates around .20, pH 7.6, temperature 76. <All sounds fine. G. surinamensis is a superb fish, though notoriously sensitive to nitrate, so keep an eye on that.> Now, to the problem: The canister filter was added about 3 days ago (replacing an old Marineland HOB (200 gph)). All was well until about a day later when I noticed slightly clamped fins on one of the Surinamensis. I then noticed the Severum had some redness above its mouth. Within hours, everybody (except the shark) was breathing heavier than normal and generally were listless. <Uh-oh.> I tested for water quality problems but all tests came back as normal, just as previously noted. I started suspecting that somehow something toxic might have been introduced with the new filter (I had rinsed out the inside of the filter and all media before installing), since there have been no other recent changes (fish, diet, hardware, etc.). I changed 50% of the water and added Quick Cure (I know I am medicating without knowing exactly what is wrong but I have had success treating unknown maladies with this product on more than one occasion and have never had any negative consequences). <OK. You seem to know what you're doing, so I'll let this slide...!> I followed-up 24 hours later with another 50% water change, more Quick Cure and rinsed the canister and its entire media with very hot water. I am now seeing some improvement. The redness has disappeared from the Severum and most of the fish have started to behave normally, albeit, they all seem to be breathing a little more rapidly than normal. <Does sound as if there was something in the water. Did you clean anything with soap before running it in the tank?> The most worrisome problem is the Surinamensis, who continue mostly to just sit on the substrate instead of doing their normal foraging throughout the sand. <This is what they do when water isn't 100% perfect. They are among *the* most sensitive cichlids out there. All the Geophagines are. They're better than Tanganyikan goby cichlids I suppose, but not by much.> I am not sure what else, if anything, I should do at this point. <Do consider whether water chemistry changed; pH is often overlooked. The absolute value is relatively unimportant, but changes can be dangerous. Do also think if anything might have got into the water, e.g., paint fumes, beverages.> I feel like the situation has improved overall and I am tempted to just let things sit and see if the improvement continues. <Agreed. Provided water chemistry is sound, you should just leave things be. Water changes are always a good idea when things like this happen, so feel free to do another 25-50% each day for the next 2-3 days just to make sure anything nasty has been flushed out. Adding some carbon to a bubble-up box filter might help, and can be removed after a week. A left-field thought is Velvet, which often attacks the gills before anything else. Perhaps you had an outbreak of that, and the QuickCure helped, and now things are better. Velvet often irritates the gills sufficiently you see distressed breathing long before you see the cysts.> Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Michael <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Freshwater Aquarium Issue 1/27/08
Neale, Thanks for your very quick response. In the few hours that have elapsed since I first wrote, ALL of the fish look much better. <Good news.> The Surinamensis are out and about and I would like to declare victory, except, I've been fish keeping for about 45 years and know it's a bit premature. <As you say. But I suspect you're over this problem at least, and things should settle down.> Thanks to you and WWM I knew that dilution (since I've seen parasitic, bacterial-type problems, etc., in the past), via big water changes, was a key element to resolving this particular problem. It should be noted that your advice concerning awareness of soap residue (or any foreign chemical) on aquarium equipment and external toxicity issues are imperatives and we all need to be vigilant concerning these. <Agreed. I confess to using soap from time to time to clean things, but that's always followed by serious rinsing and soaking of said ceramic ornament or whatever. An "Old School" trick after soaping or bleaching items is to stick them in the cistern of the loo. With each flush, it gets rinsed a bit more! The safe alternatives are lemon juice/vinegar (great for removing lime scale from things, while being harmless to fish; brine (great for generally killing algae and bacteria, also non-toxic); and hydrogen peroxide (for serious grime removal and disinfecting, but breaks down so quickly as to be harmless after a quick rinse and dry).> In hindsight, I would have to blame something with the new filter (every time I've checked the pH it's been about the same) and in the future, I'll be even more aggressive in rinsing/cleaning anything I add to my tanks. <OK.> Thanks again for your quick response and dedication to helping others in our hobby. <We're happy to help. Enjoy your fishkeeping!> Michael <Cheers, Neale.>

?... Neale... FW... nitrogenous...   01/14/2008 I had my water checked about 2 weeks ago. The lady said the ammonia levels were a little high and to change 1/4 of the water which I did so I'm doubtful that it's the water, but I'll go get it tested again. <You should have, at minimum, a NITRITE test kit at home, so you can do this test whenever something looks amiss. Regardless, ammonia levels are never "a little high" -- the only safe ammonia level is ZERO, and everything else is somewhere on the spectrum of dangerous to fishes and likely to cause disease. High levels kill fish outright, lower levels trigger Finrot, fungus, etc. You should also be changing not less than 25% of the water per week, and I'd heartily recommend 50% per week if you're observing problems. Nothing helps fish health more than regular water changes. Just from your use of words here, I suspect you aren't maintaining your aquarium properly, and you have water quality issues, and this in turn makes me assume the problem is Mouth Fungus or similar.> It's nothing like a wart, well it's not distinct. Its kind of a milky white color but nothing actually sticks out of his skin, but you can tell the mouth is swollen. Here's a picture, its kind of blurry but you can still kind of see what I'm talking about. <Can't see the picture, but assume Mouth Fungus (actually a bacterial infection). Get a combination Finrot/Fungus medication and use AT ONCE. Follow the instructions on the package carefully if you've never used a fish medication before. Removing any carbon from the filter is essential.> View full size <Picture didn't come through.> as you can see there there's kind of a milky color on the top of his mouth, and its swollen which you cant really see from the picture <Sounds like Mouth Fungus.> View full size <This picture didn't come through either.> this was how he looked before with nothing around his mouth But thanks so much for your help and fast response!! <Over to you. The problem here is two-fold: likely poor water quality through inadequate maintenance, and then the Mouth Fungus infection itself. Fix both of these! Cheers, Neale.>

Sudden FW angelfish death... & Epistylis/Protozoan f'  11/25/2007 Hi, <Hello.> I've been reading and reading your site looking for answers to the sudden death of one of my Leopard Angelfish. <Hmm... sudden deaths are always signals to check aquarium conditions: water chemistry, water quality, correct functioning of heaters, filters.> I've had these 5 Leopards ( none larger than half dollar size and most between half dollar and quarter in size) for about 4 weeks in a 12 gal QT. <Quite a small tank even for juvenile Angels, and small Angelfish do not, in my experience, always travel well. I recommend people buy them around half-size, say, 5-6 cm.> The fish arrived just after an outbreak of ich in my 55 gallon cycled tank and so I had to move the worst victims of ich into the hospital tank leaving the 12 as my only resource and not cycled. I have been doing twice weekly 25% water changes ever since to the 12 gal QT and checking the levels of ammonia, PH 7- 7.2 , nitrites and nitrates and all were kept at zero or nearly so. <When it comes to nitrite, "nearly zero" isn't good enough. Cichlids generally, and Angelfish especially, are sensitive to dissolved metabolites.> The nitrate being the only one ever over 0 and not over .25. <0.25 mg/l of nitrate is safe. But do you really mean this? Not many test kits are this accurate! Most seem to measure on a scale of 0-100 mg/l. Nitrite, on the other hand, is commonly measured between 0 and 1 mg/l.> Is this enough of percentage of a water change each time? <No. 50% per week, minimum.> This tank also has a Bio Wheel and I added a small pouch of charcoal- ammonia absorbent in addition to it's regular filter material. <Well, bin the charcoal for a start. If this is an uncycled tank, then you may as well use Zeolite (ammonia remover) exclusively. I'd personally skip any sort of fancy filter for this. Just go with a plain vanilla bubble-up box filter stuffed with Zeolite. Replace the Zeolite every week. You can usually recharge Zeolite, so get two "batches", and use one batch while recharging the other. There's absolutely no point cycling a tank with Angelfish -- they will die long before the filter bacteria come on-line.> They've been healthy and lively and voracious eaters, but not overfed I think. This morning I noticed one of the larger angels staying low in the water near the heater. Tank heat is kept at 80 degrees. I have just seen on your site that I should probably vary their diet more than I have been doing. They've mostly been on flakes and freeze dried worms. They ignored my attempts at adding an algae pellet though. <Angels will eat anything... if hungry enough. They are easily overfed. I'd use a mix of plain flake, Spirulina flake, and live/frozen/freeze-dried insect larvae. Because they willingly gorge themselves, you have to be careful not to put too much food in the tank. One or two flakes per day is plenty for Angelfish this size. Since they're young, feed perhaps twice per day. Do watch the nitrates though, and try to keep below 20 mg/l and certainly no more than 50 mg/l.> I went ahead did my regular 20-25% water change this morning, and by this evening the lethargic angel was worse, lying or hovering near the bottom seeming to gasp for air. The other fish were fine, acting normally and active except for one other large angel that seemed to be chasing the other three away from the sick fish. <Indeed. Angelfish are schooling animals when young, but become territorial as they mature. All too often people end up with a single big Angel that rules the tank.> I did another water test and the levels were the same, Ammonia 0, Ph around 7- 7.2 and the nitrates and nitrites 0. At about midnight my poor angelfish died. <Oh.> There were no signs of any battering, discoloration in fins, skin, not a mark, but I did notice a tiny speck of red near the outer edge of the eyeball on both eyes, but in different placements. I'm totally baffled as these fish were tank raised and extremely healthy from the minute they arrived and showed no signs of any distress or illness whatsoever. I've grown quite attached to them to the extent that I don't even want to put them into the now healthy 55 community tank and would like to upgrade to a 30 gallon tank for just them. I considered them so "pristine" and didn't want to take any chances on them being exposed to diseases. <Quarantining new stock is always a good idea.> What do you think happened? The only thing I can think of after all the reading I've done is water quality and ammonia, nitrate or nitrite poisoning, but that doesn't make sense with the readings I took. The kit is fairly new, but I'm not exactly sure of the expiration date since it was marked on the covering of the kit which I threw out a while ago. I hope this is enough information. <To be honest, I have no idea what precisely happened here. Sometimes very young fish don't travel well, and one or two in the batch will die. This is less of a problem with big fish because people tend to bag them up sensibly. Profit margins on big fish are proportionally smaller, so everyone along the distribution chain takes more care. But small fish are often overcrowded. Individually each fish makes a proportionally larger profit, so if a few die, it doesn't matter. Mass-produced fish also tend to be produced for a quick sale rather than quality, and there's free use of antibiotics by the farmers and wholesalers, and by the time they arrive at your house these drugs have worn off and the results of overcrowding become apparent. For now, I'd not blame yourself, but simply focus on water quality and correct diet.> Thanks for your wonderful site. It has the best tips, help and advice I've found anywhere on the internet. <Thanks!> Thanks you in advance for any insight you can give me. Polly <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Sudden angelfish death 11/25/2007 Neale, <Polly,> thanks for some answers to water quality, tank size and feeding. Good advise. <Cool.> This morning the remaining 4 Leopards are still fine and looking unaffected by whatever killed the other one. These fish came from a very small breeder in Michigan and I was worried about them travelling when I bought them via Aquabid, but they were well packed, double bagged and in Styrofoam qt. size cups, with oxygen, a mild sedative and an ammonia blocker and when I acclimated them to the QT they moved in and bounced back like champs almost immediately. I think I was very lucky there. The breeder/seller communicated with me and wanted to know how they arrived, talked me through any questions about acclimation and general appearance, behavior, etc. A good man who was into his fish, which he bred himself, rather than the moola, I think. <This is indeed the best way to buy Angels, and it sounds like you've dealt with a very decent supplier. My comments were really more about the mass produced fish farmed in Florida and Southeast Asia, primarily for the low end of the market.> So you think a 50% WC once a week is better than 25% twice a week? <Yes.> Not to sound dumb here, but why is it better? <Many reasons. Primarily a question of dilution and reducing the effect of acidification. So, your filter removes certain pollutants, but does nothing about nitrate, phosphate, organic acids. These accumulate. Nitrate is a known toxin to cichlids generally, being at least one of the factors behind hole-in-the-head as well as a general lack of vigour. Diluting by 50% each week is the cheapest, easiest way to get good water quality. Works better than carbon for a fraction of the cost. Acidification is something that happens in all aquaria. The longer the interval between water changes, and the smaller those water changes are, the more acidification takes place. This is one of the reasons why new fishes put into an old tank sometimes fail: the existing fish have adapted to the sub-optimal conditions, but the new livestock are shocked. Again, water changes are the cheapest, easiest way to maintain a steady pH.> I never intended to use the angelfish to cycle the QT tank, just got stuck because of the Ich in the 55. I've been looking around for a good price on a 30 gal for them, but since I'm running a 30 with 7 female Bettas and 5 Corys, the 55 community and two 10 gal with guppies in one and 6 baby Pearl Gouramis in the other and three 5 gals with single male Bettas I have to tread softly with my husband who is strictly a dog person! lol <Indeed! Perhaps keep Dogfish, so you'll both be happy. (Note to Americans: a Dogfish is British vernacular for small sharks, particularly Scyliorhinus spp., which for some bizarre reason Americans called Cat-sharks!> Also, do you think I should switch over to a sponge filter in the 12 QT instead of the Bio Wheel? I have one spare hanging around. <If both are being used as purely biological filters, then stick with the one that is most mature. But in quarantine tanks, using a box filter filled with Zeolite is invariably easier, cheaper, and more reliable than any biological filter. You have a zero run-in time, and you can sterilise it between uses.> Thanks again, Polly <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Sudden angelfish death 11/25/2007 Neale, <Polly,> all makes perfectly good sense to me and thanks for the answers to my questions. <Good-oh.> We always called those small sharks, Dogfish around here in Maine too and they are nasty guys. Like to go for the bait in the lobster traps and will follow the traps up while they are being hauled. Just hoping for the bait or a nice fat Lobster to fall out I suspect. VBG <Ah, I guess that's why they call New England 'New England'... because you speak English rather than Americanese! And yes, ours steal food from Lobster Pots too. They're actually pretty amazing animals. Live for at least 30 years, and perhaps as many as 100 years. The eggs take 2 years to hatch. Not something for the impatient aquarist!> I will switch to a 50% WC in my tanks once a week from now on and just rotate the days when each tank is scheduled, add to the diet for the angels and follow your advise. <Sounds good.> I'm going to look into the Zeolite too. <Yes, Zeolite is definitely a good idea in temporary tanks or any sort of tank where you don't have time to mature the filter. Cheap and effective, provided you start off with enough to deal with the ammonia produced by your livestock.> Thanks, Polly <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sudden angelfish death  11/26/07 Neale, <Paula,> when it rains, it pours! <Indeed?> The Leopard Angelfish are still fine, but when I was doing the WC in the Betta/Cory tank, I noticed that my largest Cory had some spots on him, def. not ich or velvet. They appear to be oval-ish and are concentrated on his spine and the base of the dorsal fin and tip of dorsal. <Hmm... sure this isn't Ick? Do also cross off silt particles and air bubbles. Both of these can stick to fish and be mistaken for parasites.> I QT'ed him in the hospital/baby tank, promptly discovered that the Gold Platy was starting to give birth, moved her into a breeding/bearing net hung over the side of the community tank where she lives and went to do some research on the internet to see what was up with the Cory. <Not a great fan of breeding traps, so do take care not to stress her. I prefer to use floating plants, and then remove the fry as they're discovered hidden among the plants, either to a trap or to another tank.> It sounds like Epistylis from the descriptions given. Can't seem to find any pictures that show it though. I went back and took a magnifying glass and flashlight and checked him out and the spots are not ich-like in appearance at all, not moving and one spot, near the end of the dorsal fin, is tufted a bit. The other spots are oval, greyish-white in color as well and as I said, concentrated in two or three areas. He has a space missing on his tail fin, but no growth or spots on that area. <Does indeed sound like Epistylis.> If indeed it is Epistylis, do I treat him in the 2.5 gal tank with something like Jungle fungus meds? <I'd treat the tank with the anti-fungus medication of your choice. Corydoras generally tolerate these medications well.> Do I treat the Betta/Cory tank as well or just keep and eye on the others and see if something develops? <Treat the tank.> I did noticed that some of the other Corys have a few ragged fins! <Fins sometimes get ragged when Corydoras are mixed with aggressive or nippy fish; otherwise can be a prelude to Finrot.> I try and spend time each day sitting and closely looking over each fish to see if there is anything different in their physical appearance or behavior. Yesterday this sick Cory was just a tad underactive. Think it's a female from the size and width of the body, but not positive. I didn't notice any ragged fins on the others until today either. You must think I'm a bad fish mamma at this point. Sorry to keep bothering you. <Don't worry about that.> thanks, Polly <You're welcome, Neale.> BTW, the Platy has had three babies since I moved her and then stopped giving birth. Stress from the move most likely. Babies look good. <Good-oh.>

Re: Sudden angelfish death -11/27/2007 Neale, <Paula,> Just went and looked at the Cory in the QT and the lesions/spots have reduced in number, but some are still present. Are they going into another reproductive phase, something like the ich spores do? <No, I don't think so. Epistylis is a ciliate protozoan that mostly just sits there on a fish. It's not a parasite as such; as I understand it, it's more a fouling organism than anything else (i.e., like barnacles on a boat).> That brings up lots of questions in my mind, secondary infections etc. but .... I then checked the Betta/Cory tank and three of the Corys have no signs of fin damage, color good, very active and looking for food. The fourth is looking a little lethargic, fins ragged and no spots or lesions, nada, just out of sorts and not active or looking for food, similar to how it started with the sick Cory. Should I haul him out into the QT with the sick Cory and still treat the Betta/Cory tank as well as the QT tank? <Definitely treat both tanks with anti-Fungus/anti-Finrot. Trying to target one particular fish is probably a waste of time here because the pathogens are in the aquaria generally.> BTW, Bettas are fine and active, eating, clear of anything on their skin. <Good.> As of midnight last night, I did another 25% WC on the Betta/Cory tank, bringing the total WC for yesterday to 50% on that tank. There was some uneaten stuff and crud underneath an aquarium decoration and around the roots of some of the heavier planted sections of the tank .  I removed the large decoration and tried to really clean up the crud, for lack of a better description, and left the decoration out afterward to make it easier to do WC in the event of doing treatments to the tank for any length of time. Did a 50% WC to the QT tank as well. <Good.> As for the weapon of choice in treatment. Here's what I have in house right this minute. Will any of these do any good? I have been trying to buy meds every time I go to the LFS to have them on hand, but as you can see I am still way under stocked on what I imagine are all the basics. Ich Attack by Kordon, for ich, fungus, Protozoans, and Dinoflagellates <Might work; Epistylis is apparently sensitive to Formalin and Malachite Green.> Ick Guard II by Jungle <Ditto.> Fungus Clear Tank Buddies by Jungle (tablets, 1 tab per 10 gallons) <Won't fix the Epistylis, but will help with the ragged fins.> Pimafix <Useless.> Melafix <Useless.> BettaFix <Useless.> Aquarium Salt <Might help if used in the same way as for treating Ick, but not my weapon of choice here.> Erythromycin and another antibiotic...it's downstairs at the moment and I forget, but I tried to get one gram positive and one gram negative when I bought them. <Useless. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections only.> I do live on an actual island. No bridge, and therefore can't just pop into town willy nilly. My husband is going to go over to the mainland this afternoon and if there is anything he could pick up this would be a good time. What meds should I have him get if none on hand are appropriate? <See above; you may already have the tools required. Check the ingredients lists on the medications, or simply test them out. Epistylis isn't doing the fish any direct harm -- the problem is that they open a wound that can become infected, and furthermore that they occur at all is a sign of middling to poor water quality.> To sum up, still treat the Betta/Cory tank as well as the QT with a fungus med? Move the second Cory exhibiting signs of Epistylis to the QT , OR treat him in the Betta/Cory tank? <Treat both tanks. There's no mileage in isolating diseases caused by environmental issues, since all fish are likely subject. So treat all fish up front to prevent further infections.> Much thanks once again. You are very patient with all the questions and problems I've thrown at you in just two days time. Let's hope the rain stops pouring ASAP. <It will.> BTW Angelfish still fine. <Double-plus good.> Thanks, Polly <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sudden angelfish death  11/28/2007 Hi Neale, <Polly,> well, I lost the first sick Cory in the QT . <Too bad.> I had started treating both tanks with the Jungle Tank Buddies for Fungus as I hadn't heard from you and I thought I needed to do something quick. (The time difference between us. ) I didn't go with the Kordon Ich Attack as it doesn't contain anything but botanicals, no chemicals like formalin or malachite green. <This is a somewhat unwelcome trend: eschewing proven pharmaceuticals in favour of ingredients that may be safer and less toxic if overdosed, but are of questionable usefulness in some cases.> I probably waited too long for the first sick Cory or he was traumatized by the move and being alone as well. You know how Corys are. They look like little tanks that can take anything, but they are so social. <Indeed. With schooling fish it is normally best to treat the tank rather than individual fish. Lone Corydoras don't necessarily die, but it is one more stress factor on an already sick fish.> I did a water test before I did anything to treat the 30 gal tank or do the WC that brought me up to the 50% WC total, forgot to mention this last post. Everything read as it should. Ph was between 7.2 and 7.6, I have high PH normally from the well water, the ammonia was 0, nitrites and nitrate 0 as well. <All sounds fine. Corydoras are relatively indifferent to water chemistry, and tolerate hard, alkaline water just as readily as soft, acidic water. What matters to them is stability and quality more than anything else.> That didn't make sense to me since the problem is an environmental one, so I did a test on the 55 and got the same results except the PH being different from the 30. The 55 gal was at PH 7-7.2 and nitrate and nitrite 0. Could the test kit be getting old and need to be replaced? <Possibly. But it also important to remember that aquaria have a background acidification process. So as soon as you put water into any aquarium, it gradually becomes more acidic unless something acts to stop that. The key factor is decay of organic material, which produces organic acids, and these lower the pH. The speed with which the tank acidifies depends on its size, its loading of fish, the amount of organic matter (including plants and algae), the presence of alkaline buffers such as Tufa rock, the nitrate level, the ammonia level, the amount of carbon dioxide, aeration, and the frequency of water changes. In other words, no two fish tanks will acidify at the same rate, so it is entirely possible that these two tanks will have very different environmental conditions despite receiving the same type of "new" water each water change.> I bought it within the last month, but it was the last one for FW on the shelf at the LFS and didn't know about expiration dates for tests. Didn't check to see what the date might be and it was apparently on the outer clear packaging cause I can't find it anywhere in the actual test kit. <Test kits can and do go "bad", but this is rare unless the kit is extremely old. The chemicals are largely inert, and provided they are stored somewhere cool and dark they should be stable for many years.> Since I wasn't sure of the test kit's accuracy, I did a 50% WC on all the other tanks that hadn't been done over the weekend, except the guppy and baby tank (did 20% on that ) because that tank seems to always be fine, totally knackered me, but done. I'm so completely paranoid now about the other tanks that I see cilia and parasites in my sleep. lol <Ah, the joys of fishkeeping.> Obviously, my problems are directly linked to poor water quality and my husbandry. My question ( will they ever stop you think?) is... are water parameters not always linked with cleanliness, are the two not one and the same? <Interesting question. Most disease is directly or indirectly linked to water quality and water chemistry. Provided those two factors are appropriate to the fish being kept, the incidence of disease should be very low. While disease can sometimes happen for other reasons, such as genetics or the introduction of unquarantined livestock, at a first-pass there's a lot of wisdom in assuming any unexplainable sickness was caused by water quality and/or chemistry issues. Now, cleanliness can be looked at two ways. Oddly enough, visible waste tends not to be a major problem. Yes, decaying plant material and fish faeces contribute to acidification, but "the wild" is full of decaying material that the fish don't seem to be harmed by. Indeed, many fish, such as catfish and loaches and cichlids, positively revel in the stuff, extracting significant parts of their diet from the decaying material or micro-organisms living therein. Invisible waste, on the other hand, is the killer: nitrite and ammonia in the first league of dangers, and then nitrate somewhere below them. On the other hand, regular water changes undertaken to remove solid wastes in the tank invariably dilute the invisible wastes, and a good mechanical filter with plenty of current will not only remove solid wastes but like have plenty of space for a good biological filter as well. So while the two things are not identical, they do tend to go hand-in-hand as far as practicalities are concerned. It's too simplistic to say a clean tank is a healthy tank: after all, a brand new aquarium may look spotless and yet have high levels of ammonia and nitrite because the filter isn't mature. But established aquaria that are kept clean through water changes and adequate filtration tend to have zero/low levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate as well.> Can there be too much goop or pollution in the bottom of the tank that never show up on a test kit's results and should water from testing be from the lower regions of the tank? (why the Corys were the first affected?) <Not normally, no. But if the sediment at the bottom of the tank becomes anoxic because it isn't regularly cleaned somehow, it can house bacteria that can, in theory, cause problems. In practise this is an easy fix. If you're using sand, for example, keep it thin and install some burrowing snails (such as Malayan Livebearing snails) which will aerate the sand in the same way as earthworms on land. Catfish and loaches generally like to dig and will keep sand very clean anyway. Gravel can be more of a problem to keep clean (surprisingly to some) but when stirred once a week at water change time cleaning gravel shouldn't be too difficult.> Hypothetical question.....say the second sick Cory makes it and has some open wounds from the Epistylis. Should I then treat the tank for possible secondary bacterial infection problems? <Yes.> What would be the med of choice? If antibiotics, gram positive or negative? <I can't really answer this from experience, since antibiotics aren't available to aquarists in the UK. But my expectation would be a product such as Maracyn would be appropriate. Really anything to treat Finrot, as that will get the Aeromonas/Pseudomonas bacteria likely the problem here.> The more I write, the more questions I have and the guiltier, to the fish and you I feel. Is there a book you can recommend that I should buy that you consider the best reference for fish disease and treatment? <Many, many choices. I happen to like the 'Manual of Fish Health' by Chris Andrews et al.> Thanks Neale, You Da' Man, Polly <You're welcome.> Angel fish fine, mother Platy ate the 3 babies, you are right about breeding nets! <Indeed. Trust me: floating plants work much better. Simply check the tank once or twice a day and scoop out the babies as you see them. Any floating plants will do. Even bunches of pondweed or algae. Plastic plants even. The baby fish instinctively go into them, and the parents tend not to notice them.>

Re: Sudden angelfish death 11/28/07 Once again, thank you Neale for the detailed answers to my questions.  They are extremely helpful and make me want to do more reading on water chemistry, acidification, substrates, different types of filtrations systems, aeration, etc. Lots more reading! VBG <Very good! Once you understand the basics of water management, everything else in fishkeeping is easy. But if you're muddled about water management, then things become more dicey. An hour or two spent reading around this topic is time very well spent.> The second Cory is still with us and shows improvement. He never developed the full blown growths on his body and after spending most of yesterday on the bottom hiding in some plants, came out in the early evening to hang out with the other three and actually start to actively ferret around on the gravel for food. <Good stuff. I find that once a sick fish starts feeding again, you're almost always home free.> On further examination of the hype on the Jungle Fungus Tank Buddies box, it states that it also contains something to fight secondary bacterial infections, but I will probably also treat with something else for the fin damage that he displays. The other three Corys still seem unaffected. <I have never used that medication so can't speak from experience.> The substrate in this tank is a combination of an under layer of Fluorite with some gravel over it to keep the fluorite in place and make cleaning easier. The fluorite is great for the plants, but I've found it hard to deeply vacuum without causing major cloudiness. <A problem with sand. The trick is not to vacuum. Instead, let the catfish and plants and Malayan Livebearing snails do the hard work for you. Also lower the sand on one corner so detritus collects there. You can then siphon or even pipette waste as required. Much easier.> There is probably an inch of Fluorite and a 1/2" of gravel over it. In our LFS it's is very hard to find small/ medium uncoated gravel for our FW tanks. <I sympathise. I tend to buy my substrates from garden centres. Easier and cheaper, provided you choose smooth, lime-free sand or gravel rather than, say, sharp sand.> I like the Fluorite for the plants, but am not too sure I like the substrate for the fish. I have just Fluorite in the 55 gal tank , about 1" deep. The Betta/Cory tank is running a Bio Wheel filter, minus the media right now. I will be adding Zeolite, which my husband found for me on his mainland trip the other day, to all the tanks. <Zeolite is completely redundant on tanks that have biological filters. Serves no purpose whatsoever other than wasting your money in these cases. Zeolite is exclusively for tanks with no biological filter, e.g., quarantine tanks or tanks with strongly acid pH.> I love planted tanks, but have decided that too many decorations such as rocks, caves, artificial tree trunks, etc. are too hard to clean around if not lifted at least every other time I do a WC, so have removed quite a bit of the aquascaping add ons and will try letting the plants and maybe one cave for the shy fish, suffice. If you're finding too much silt and detritus, it is likely you have insufficient water movements and/or mechanical filtration. In a tank with complete circulation, there shouldn't be any solid waste on the plants or gravel. Well, maybe a bit, but not enough to be unsightly. So, do check water currents around the tank, and if required, add another filter. If the bottom of the tank has poor water flow, this will mean higher levels of ammonia and nitrite down there, and this could be a factor for your catfish's ill health.> I went to amazon.com to see if the Manual of Fish Health was available and found there seems to be a revised edition. The Interpet Manual of Fish Health by Andrews! I assume it is a revised edition anyway, and will order it. <My copy is from '88. It's a good book. Good level of science, but lots of photos and charts explaining what's going on.> As for snails......I had one hitchhiker on a plant and now have what seems to be a million in the Baby/guppy tank, Yikes! No sure I want to introduce them on purpose as I'm sure they will appear, as if by magic in due time in the tanks they haven't yet. LOL <Snails can be a mixed blessing, but do remember they turn waste into snails. In a clean tank, their numbers tend to be very steady, and removing them by hand works fine. Snail plagues almost always follow over-feeding and under-cleaning.> I'm cultivating a Java Moss like type plant in the baby tank and will move some of it into a birthing tank. Will save those breeding traps for brief isolation and examination purposes. VBG <Enjoy the babies! Best bit of the hobby, I think.> Thanks again, Polly <Bon chance, Neale.>

Tropical fish disease... FW, no useful data   11/15/07 Hi please help with a long term problem we have variety of tropicals in a large tank, not overcrowded, water quality consistently fine, <Need values...> plenty of plants doing well, Dry and live food given. Platies doing well and unaffected by disease (several batches of babies) BUT other fish suffering from sores often with white fibrous material in center also some have white material in mouth and gills some become very bloated 12 fish have died in last 6months Treatment with Medifin hasn't helped. Hopefully, Dot. <... need data... re the set-up components, maintenance, what IS doing well here, actually all livestock... Bob Fenner>

FW? Dis.?   11/13/07 hi my fancy tail has suddenly turned black and being bullied . it looks like his tail has been eaten too. please help <Hello Lisa. Fancy tail what? Guppy? Goldfish? Angelfish? Fish normally change their colours to black when stressed, and the fact his tail is eroding would suggest Finrot. I'd be checking the water quality before anything else in this situation. So, let's have the name of the fish and some information on the aquarium: it's size, the hardness, the pH, and a nitrite test result. Cheers, Neale.>

Tropical Fish possibly sick? 10/3/07 Hello WWM crew, <Hello!> My boyfriend and I have gotten into aquariums within the last 3 years. I love how peaceful fish are and there little personalities they all have. So of course it really is a bummer to see them ill. (especially to think its probably due to something we may have forgotten) <Indeed.> Problem #1 (26 Gal. Tropical tank-1 black molly, 2 blue dwarf gouramis, 3 Corydoras catfish, 1- Boesemanni Rainbow *temporarily until he gets to big* and a female guppy) This problem is only with our dwarf blue gouramis and our mollies. The mollies seem to have black speckles on them, very tiny ones, and they are also flat...they don't seem to be raised. (and the older molly has a cut on her nose (from our aggressive black molly...who is REALLY aggressive and am beginning to think there's some sort of...problem? anyways, the cut on the balloon mollies nose never healed. Its still bright red and seems to have gotten even redder.) I've looked at many different bacterial infections, parasites, and other information online. I can't seem to find out what it is, and I don't want to treat for the wrong thing. Also the gouramis have dark spots on them but these aren't like the "speckles" found on the mollies, these look more like dark "patches" on the fins. The only thing I've heard on the black patches is that it could be cancer? or nerve damage. <Hmm... black spots can be caused my a variety of things. Cancer and nerve damage are not among them though, or if they are, they've most unlikely. The most common reason is the fish are infected by parasite worms (flukes). Long term, it isn't anything to worry about, because once the worms try to move to the next stage of their life cycle, they leave the fish. Because the life cycle can't be completed in the aquarium, the worms die, and that's that. So for now, simply monitor the condition of the fish, ensure they are eating properly, and treat the water with something like anti-Finrot medication to ensure they don't get secondary infections (which is what the red or grey patches most likely are).> Problem #2 (80 Gal. Tropical tank- 3 mollies, 2 platy's 2 pearl gouramis, 1 gold ram, 1 blue ram, 2 Bolivian rams 2 emerald green Cory cats, 2 swordtails, 4 tiger barbs, 8 cherry barbs 3 bleeding heart tetras, 1 boesemanni Rainbow and 2 keyhole cichlids....) This problem is driving me NUTS. We "adopted" the 3 bleeding heart tetras *whom are doing very well* one of the emerald green Cory cats and the 2 keyhole cichlids and ever since we put them in a few of our fish seem to be getting sick. The Emerald green has a curved spine...and I recently noticed that 2 of my albino tiger barbs are now developing slight curves by the base of there tails. I've been asking around and it seems it could be a mineral deficiency? I went out to by the frozen foods and minerals that I was told, but I would LOVE to hear what you think. <Bent spines are very common. I have at least one peppered Corydoras with a bent spine at the moment, and I've seen similar situations with halfbeak and cichlid fry. Typically inbreeding (or at least bad genes) are at the root of the problem, but trauma when the fish is young appears to cause similar problems. I suppose diet could be a factor, but it's unlikely for something as omnivorous as barbs and catfish. Usually, diet becomes a critical factor when specialist fish are being kept, because they have adapted to eating a certain sort of food not easily provided in the aquarium.> I've read through your forums most of them) and spent many hours browsing, trying to find tips or solutions. I'm really worried about my little guys, any tips or info. you can provide would be much MUCH appreciated. The more information I can get, the better homes the fish will have. I enjoy this hobby as long as the fish stay happy :) Thank you very much ~Crystal <Well, I hope this helps! Neale>

Sudden dying fish advice! 10/3/07 Hi <Hello.> I hope you can help me, am a bit of a novice fishkeeper and after a promising start am slight concerned about the goings on in my tank! <Oh dear.> I have a 35gallon freshwater aquarium, which I've had for three weeks (originally my brothers and kept for 6yrs). It had 5 Malawi's and one Plec and I added another 8 Malawi's, another Plec and 5 red claw crabs (about 2cm each). <Red-claw crabs are brackish water animals, and shouldn't be kept in a freshwater tank. They are also amphibious animals, and keeping them permanently submerged is cruel. Kept properly, they are more like frogs, rooting about on land, but dipping in the water to moisten their gills periodically.> Everything was going fine but then in the last 24hrs both my catfish and the alpha male (a 2.5inch blue zebra) of the tank have died! <Check water quality when two fish suddenly die.> I have checked all the levels and everything is normal. <Define "normal". I'm assuming you aren't using brackish water, so the conditions aren't normal for your crabs at least. More specifically, have you tested the nitrite level? Also, what's the pH and hardness? Malawi cichlids need fairly hard water to do well (at least 10 degrees KH, and a pH around 7.5-8). I don't know what Malawi cichlids and Plecs you are talking about, but 13 Pseudotropheus zebra and two common Plecs such as Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus simply cannot be kept in 35 gallons of water. There is no way water quality will be acceptable for them all. Even a single common Plec needs around 50 gallons of water, at least.> My concern is that, could this be the work of the crabs and should I really get rid of them? The shop said they could live together but now am not so sure <Crabs shouldn't kill most fish, though they will certainly catch and kill very small fish like guppies. But unless you are keeping them in a brackish water vivarium with a sand-bank and wood for them to climb about on, then no, this isn't an acceptable home.> Advice would be most grateful as I don't really want £80 stock all to die off! <Indeed.> Best regards, Lester <Lester, you need to sit back and review the aquarium conditions. A 35 UK gallon tank is simply too small for all the fish you are keeping. What will happen is that the fish will die, one by one, until the aquarium reaches its "carrying capacity". You can delude yourself into thinking the aquarium is fine, but Science doesn't work that way, and until the population reaches a sensible level, fish will keep getting sick and die. For 35 gallons, you should be thinking about, say, one or two Ancistrus Bristlenose catfish along with maybe three cichlids (one male, two females). Nothing else will work in the long term. Hope this helps, Neale>

Sudden loss of half of our fish, FW... nitrate, nutritional deficiency effects likely   9/27/07 Hi, We're (my 9-yr-old daughter & I) fairly new to the land of tropical fish keeping (we started in January); I've read your website a lot and have learned so much, and we wrote you a while back about a sick fish. All had been going well with our aquarium for a couple of months, then in the last few days we had 5 fish die. We are so sad. I'm hoping that if I describe the situation, you might have some insight as to what happened/what we can do to keep the remaining fish alive. I'd gotten some ideas from your website but I'm really not sure what to think of all this. We have a 12-gallon Eclipse system that has been cycled since last January (we did fish-less cycling ?worked great), and we've had a few different inhabitants along the way but we'd been stable for the past 3 months or so with: 5 Platies, 3 Danios (2 zebra, 1 leopard), 2 Otocinclus, 2 panda cories. The tank has one Amazon sword plant that is not robust but sends out new baby leaves and hangs on. We do 25% water changes every 2 weeks; though we've only been siphoning the gravel once a month, the other time we just change out the water). <Mmm... a dangerous, too-changeable approach... Best to make more frequent, smaller change-outs. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm and the linked files above> We feed with a tropical fish flake food, <Mmm, may want to mix in some more substantial fare... frozen or dried, freeze-dried foods...> and once a week or so an algae tablet. We had ended up with not an ideal male/female ratio with the Platies, 2 females and 3 males, and our oldest male (a 1 ½ inch Mickey Mouse) was rather an alpha male when we added his 4 friends, he chased everyone, but after a couple weeks they all seemed to get along with minimal chasing. A couple weeks ago, the Platies starting dying, one by one; we have only one left (the Mickey Mouse). The Platies showed no sign of illness that we could see (spots, growths), but, each time a couple days before they died, they stopped eating. They would try to eat, but spit it out. Then they would start swimming with fins clamped. They would lose that nice round platy shape, and die. In the middle of this, one of the zebra Danios got a really fat belly all of a sudden and the next day it was dead. <Yikes> So, once this started happening, we did a water change <How much and how?> and started looking on your site. We have a test kit, our measurements were: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40. <Much too high... You want to keep NO3 under 20 ppm> Temp is 78. One other idea I saw was malnutrition ? <Yes> so I bought some frozen Emerald Entree which has veggies in it as I thought it possible they weren't getting enough veggies. <Or protein> I put an algae tablet in too, and the Platies did go after that. They didn't much go for the Emerald Entree. Another idea I saw was internal parasites, but as nothing new had been introduced in the tank I hated to just medicate without some more of an idea of what it might be? <Good> I did add 1/8 tsp. salt which isn't much but I read that the cories don't tolerate salt well. <Correct> So, we're very sad and I'm thinking we should've done something else but I don't know what. From this description, can you offer an idea of what we might do at this point? <The nitrate, nutritional deficiency effects likely...> The Mickey Mouse platy is looking very sad on his own, and the 2 remaining Danios are wildly chasing each other around ? I know we should not introduce any new fish until we are stable again but we sure would like to not lose these guys too. The Oto's seem fine, they are a bit skittish but they always have been. The panda cories are extremely shy, they will not come out if we are nearby and I only get a glimpse of them every once in a while (like when we do a water change and move the furniture to siphon) and they seem OK. Any ideas you have would be appreciated. Thanks, Jana (and Jenny) <Bob Fenner>
Re: sudden loss of half of our fish... FW cycling    9/28/07
Thanks for your reply. We now have 2 different kinds of flake food, some TetraMin crisps for tropical fish, the frozen emerald entree, frozen brine shrimp, and the algae pellets. I hope a combination of these foods will be better nutritionally for our fish. If you have any other suggestions they are welcome. <Posted...> We will also start doing 2-2.5 gallon (17-20%) water changes once a week. <Good> How long do you recommend we wait before adding new fish? <At least two weeks> And, I know you recommend a quarantine tank; we have a 6 gallon Eclipse system that a neighbor gave us when they moved, however it is currently dry except the BioWheel has been kept in a jar of water and fed a couple drops of ammonia every 2-3 days. But I have no idea if the good bacteria would still be around on the wheel -- is there a way to keep a BioWheel "alive" if we can't keep the tank set up all the time? <Mmm, well... they're "in the air"... will get there in time...> That is a side question -- the main question is, if we set this tank up with some gravel and water (how much water?) <A gallon or two> from our current tank and put the BioWheel in, are we likely to have a cycled tank 'soon', or will we have to start from scratch with our fish-less cycling schedule? <Siphon some gunk out of the present tank, place it in the new... Will likely instantly cycle> We have a test kit so I can monitor for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate... Thanks, Jana <Read on my friend... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Bob Fenner>

Curved Spine TB?   9/11/07  Hi WWM Crew, I've read and read and now have become confused. Is a curved spine a definite telltale sign of TB or could it be a symptom of swim bladder disease or something else? I have a convict cichlid. She is very tiny 2 inches at most. She's about 3 years old. She was fine and a spunky little fish. There is another adult pink convict (a male about 4 inches) in the tank who is sometimes a bully. Most times they are compatible. They are in a 10 Gal. tank with water changes every week. Yesterday I saw her floating on her side in a curled up position. Her fins were moving and it seemed she was trying very hard to right herself. When I noticed this I put her into a breeding net to keep the male away from her. I didn't notice any visible signs of trauma. No bloating or bleeding or missing scales/fins. I did a 75% water change and cleaned out the filter and treated the water with Epsom salt. I didn't know fish could get TB until I visited your site. She is very thin, no appetite and curling up as if in pain. I feel really bad for her and want to ease her suffering. The male isn't showing any signs of illness (yet). He keeps swimming past her outside the breeding net though and she tries to move toward him. It's very sad. I am hoping you can help me try to diagnose my little girl. Do you think it may be contagious and is it possible the male will be infected too? Please help! Thanks, Maureen <Hello Maureen. Just as in humans, physical deformities can be caused by any number of reasons, and it's important not to assume that because something is symptomatic of a particular diseases, that it's ONLY caused by that disease. Also, Fish TB isn't the same thing as the TB humans get. Fish TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium marinum, whereas human TB is caused by a number of closely related species including the appropriately named Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Fish TB is very uncommon in freshwater aquaria, and almost always when freshwater aquarists blame fish deaths on Fish TB they're really making it up and have no idea what killed their fish. A bit like those "internal parasites" people mention for similar reasons, citing Fish TB amounts to nothing more than a scapegoat alternative to actually admitting their tank was overstocked, they used live feeder fishes, they didn't quarantine new stock, and so on. In your case, you have a couple of problems that are likely factors. To start with, a 10 gallon tank is not nearly big enough for convicts. I'm assuming you're talking 10 US gallons (= 8 UK gallons, 38 litres). Even for a matched pair of convicts you wouldn't be able to keep them in a tank that small. While you might consider them to be small specimens, the fish don't know that, and adults in the wild are anything up to around 15 cm long and defend territories something of the order of 1-2 metres in diameter. Males are notoriously belligerent to unreceptive females when kept under aquarium conditions. You have to remember that evolution hasn't needed to come up with a "play nice" gene; in the wild, if a female enters a male's territory but she doesn't want to breed, she just swims away. In the aquarium, she has nowhere to go, and the male's natural territoriality (which, in the wild, is a good thing by making him a reliable father) ends up becoming destructive. It is entirely possible she's received internal damage from being attacked by the male. You don't say anything about water chemistry or quality either. Convicts need moderately hard to hard water with a pH somewhere in the slightly alkaline range; pH 7.5-8, 10-20 degrees dH is what you're aiming for. Water quality needs to be excellent, as just like any other cichlid, dissolved metabolites in the water do harm over the long term. Water changes must be of the order of 50% weekly, and given your tank is so tiny, I'd be doing two such water changes a week. Regardless, you're after 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrates ideally 20 mg/l or less and certainly not more than 50 mg/l. Finally, diet is an issue. Convicts are omnivores, and that means you need to include green foods in their diet as well as flake or frozen. Algae pellets and flakes are probably the easiest things to use, but tinned peas, Sushi Nori, spinach, blanched lettuce, and so on can all be tried. Very few cichlids don't eat greens in the wild, and for many it provides important vitamins as well as fibre. You may want to send along a photo so we can better diagnose your sick fish, but in the meantime, I'd encourage you to review some of the factors mentioned above and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale>

Sick fish, FW  9/6/07 Hi <Hello Kristi,> I'm a novice with a new freshwater tank. As with most novices, I added the fish before it cycled and are now working to get this done (with Neale's guidance and encouragement). <Very good.> Here are current parameters: 20 gal freshwater ? been going for about 4 weeks (fish for about 3 of them) Temp 78 degrees F. Gravel substrate, artificial plants moderately used, and couple of cave decorations Power filter ? just changed to Bio-Wheel yesterday along w/ adding BioSpira pH 7.6, high alkalinity Ammonia ? nil Nitrite - ~ 1.5 (I know ? yikes. This is actually better than before and I'm working on it w/ emergency water changes, BioSpira, sea salt for short term decrease in toxicity, etc. A huge THANK YOU to Neale for helping me on this!) Nitrate ? 5.0 (still high, but better than before) <Everything except the nitrite is fine. Nitrate of 5 mg/l is practically perfect, and suggests you have very low (no?) nitrate levels in your tap water. As for the nitrite, that's way over the red line, and you should be doing water changes as often as it takes to keep it well below 1 mg/l, and ideally below 0.5 mg/l. Because you have zero ammonia, it's apparent that the nitrosifying bacteria have become established, but you're still waiting on the nitrifying bacteria. So you're about "half way done" in terms of cycling.> Inhabitants: Started with 1 MM platy and 1 dwarf Gourami about 3 ½ wks ago (along w/ 1 swordtail and 1 sunburst platy ? both died). Added 5 glass fish, 1 ADF and 1 black molly about one week ago (none in QT? didn't know about this). Let's say I was less than patient (along with my 3 year old daughter) to get going on our new friends. All look great except for smallest glassfish and the platy (symptoms described below). <Hmm...> Let's first state the obvious ? water quality is waaaaaaaay less then optimal and is the most likely contributor to illnesses. Knowing that I? slowly but surely working on this, I need your help to do some damage control in terms of treating the illnesses of 1 glassfish and 1 platy. <Well, the first thing is to simply do more water changes. It isn't glamorous or high-tech like adding potions, but more than anything else it improves fish health. It's kind of like human healthcare: to improve your health across the board doesn't take a gym membership and bottles of vitamins with breakfast, but simply things like walking instead of driving and eating more fruit and vegetables instead of meat and starch. There's no secret to keeping fish healthier either: more water changes = healthier fish.> The glassfish ? noticed white specks last night on the smallest of the five. The specks are about the size of table salt and suggested ich based on WWM reading. <Indeed. Very common in glassfish under poor water conditions. That said, they can be relied upon to recover very quickly. Medicate the water with a good quality treatment of your choice.> However, the fish is otherwise fine? eating like a pig (literally) ?not scratching against anything? not lethargic, etc. Today those specks have clumped at the base of his fin which made me consider Lymph. <Lymphocystis is very common in glassfish, especially ones that have been dyed. In fact Lymphocystis is really only found on "advanced" freshwater fish that have evolved from marine ancestors, e.g., glassfish, cichlids, and gobies. It's almost never seen on "primitive" freshwater fish without marine ancestors, i.e., catfish, characins, barbs, etc. Now, it doesn't typically appear out of nowhere, and is rather slow growing. So I'd assume it's Whitespot by default, and treat accordingly. If it is Lymphocystis, as you probably realise this isn't treatable, but does at least go away by itself. Lymphocystis is a viral disease, but studies on wild fish have show that the trigger is poor water quality. So again, improving water quality is the way to avoid Lymphocystis and, in part, fix it should it appear.> I'm attaching a picture for your review. It may be hard to see in the picture, but the largest spot on the base of his back tail fin is about 5 small specks clumped together. No other fish ? including the other glassfish ? are showing ANY of these spots. Thoughts? <It's almost certainly Whitespot. Whitespot/ich is, well, white, whereas Lymphocystis tends to be cafe-au-lait colour and has a distinctive texture often likened to cauliflower florets.> The platy ? Continually getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I know pregnancy is a possibility, but want to rule out bloat. Dropsy doesn't seem to fit because her fins are not extended like a porcupine (see attached picture). <It's the scales, not the fins that extend, and it's like a pinecone rather than porcupine. But regardless, I agree, not dropsy. Just fat, really. Platies are very messed around with genetically, and in every batch there seem to be some that, in some way or another, are mutants. Provided the fish stays healthy otherwise, I'd ignore. Naturally, factor out constipation by feeding more greens, and take care not to overfeed.> She also eats like a pig ? including non-natural foodstuff like the frozen blood worms meant for the glassfish and ADF. Her activity level and mannerisms all seem normal. Constipation seems likely, but unsure as to how to treat this given freshwater vs. marine tank. If this is the case, than how can I get the ADF and the glassfish their blood worms while keeping her away from them? <Very difficult, but what I'd do is feed in the morning with only green foods. The frog and glassfish will ignore. Use blanched lettuce, squished cooked/tinned peas, Sushi Nori, algae wafers, livebearer flake food, etc. Let the Platies eat these. In the evening, feed the meaty stuff.> I've had a difficult time wading through freshwater vs. marine guidance and need your treatment suggestions. <Fundamentally very similar, especially for fish like glassfish and Platies that have evolved from marine ancestors. The only real difference is that in a marine tank you need to use medications that won't harm invertebrates, whereas this is rarely an issue in freshwater tanks (snails are resistant to medications, and shrimps/crabs/etc are rarely kept). I am prepared to set up a hospital tank if need be, if suggested. <Probably not required at this stage.> Clearly I will convert from hospital tank to QT when adding our next fish (plan on final add of a dwarf Bristlenose Pleco for algae control). <As I've said elsewhere this week in the FAQs, fish don't control algae. At best, they eat algae but at the cost of increasing the rate of algal growth. At worse, they simply increase the rare of algal growth dramatically. The only thing that "stops" algae are fast growing plants. They do this through one of two things, allelopathy and by removing nutrients from the water faster than the algae. No-one really understands the mechanism, but it seems to have evolved to allow plants to remain algae free in the wild (which, largely, they are). Cabomba, Hygrophila, Vallisneria etc are what you want. Things that grow so fast (under good light) you're trimming them back weekly. Under such conditions, tanks stay remarkably algae-free. All that said, quarantining Loricariid catfish is an excellent idea. Wild-caught specimens especially arrive rather emaciated, and giving them optimal conditions and plenty of food is the best way to ensure their success in captivity. Once fattened up, they can then be placed in the community tank.> If the glassfish warrants a treatment tank, would I just transfer him and hope his loneliness won't negatively affect him further? <Yes, but I don't think you need to. For Whitespot, you have to treat the tank, not the fish. Indeed, you can't treat the fish -- the parasite isn't killed by the medication. Only the free-swimming infective stages are killed by the medication, and they're in the water and on the gravel. If it's Lymphocystis then obviously no treatment is required or possible.> Or would I transfer the whole school? <No.> In terms of a hospital tank, the smallest I can get away with the better (budget wise). I know 10-gal is ok, but could I get away w/ a 5-gal? Or would the water quality in a non-cycled 5-gal be too variable? Suggestions? <In US gallons, it would have to be a 10 gallon tank. A 5 gallon tank would just be too difficult to keep constantly good. There's really no mileage to having an unsafe, unhealthy quarantine/hospital tank, for obvious reasons.> Thanks for your help!!!! <Hope this helps, Neale>

3 dead 1 left... FW trbleshtg...   9/3/07 Hello, <<Hello, Lxxx. (Interesting name, by the way. :) ) Tom here.>> We bought some fish about a month ago. <<What type of fish?>> We've treated the water for a week before we bought them and had the water tested by the pet store. <<Treated the water how? The vast majority of 'cycling' products found in stores are of questionable effectiveness at best. (There's some evidence that, contrary to what we've believed in the past, there are bacteria (Nitrospira) contained in these products that do, in fact, deal with nitrites, as well as those dealing with ammonia, but only because these are 'naturally occurring' bacteria and are contained in the product far more by accident than by design. By bacterial standards, these bacteria reproduce extremely slowly, however, and the populations of the bacteria can't be guaranteed from one container to the next.) Recognize, too, that early in the cycling process ammonia may be undetectable with our common test kits. This may give the false impression/indication that all is well when, in fact, the process has yet to really begin.>> I Hoover the tank every week, but still we've lost 3 fish. Each one's dorsal fin has gotten flat then they become sluggish and die. <<Too little information for me to be very specific on the cause for this other than to suggest to you that the behavior is indicative of poor water conditions and/or quality. This doesn't necessarily mean that the water's 'bad' but it may not be right for your fish.>> We have three real plants in the tank. I can't see any spots or fungus on the fish. There is also a shoal of the little fish in the tank!!! <<Well, now you've given me a little to work with. Almost certainly you've got livebearers of some type (Platys, Swordtails, Mollies, Guppies, et. al., fall into this category) at least one of which is/was a female. Fish in this group require relatively hard, alkaline water conditions. (Mollies are a brackish water species requiring still a different environment.) Without knowing what the current ammonia/nitrite, nitrate and pH levels are (hardness would be another good reading to have), nothing I can offer to you would be more than a wild guess on my part.>> Please help. I don't want this one to die and its fin is starting to deflate!!! <<The best generic approach I can suggest is to stay on top of water changes. From what I can gather, the problem is largely, if not completely, environmental which can be addressed with these changes. Change out at least 50% of the water a couple of times each week. In the meantime, get yourself a test kit so that you know -- without relying on the sometimes questionable results that the pet store may give you -- exactly what's going on in your tank. I understand that you're very concerned here and likely wrote to us in a hurry but we need some detailed information the next time. Type of fish, tank size, type of filtration, heater (if any), water temperature, type(s) of food you're providing and, most especially, the exact water parameters. I specify 'exact' here because 'good', 'fine', 'safe', 'within limits', etc., are too subjective to be of any real use to us. What certain fish may be able to tolerate over a brief period of time might kill others in short order.>> Many thanks Lxxx <<Well, I don't think I've been able to give you much more than a place to start but if you'd like to write back with the information I've suggested, perhaps I can be of more assistance. Cheers. Tom>>

Fish rubbing on rocks - a sign of something other than disease?   7/25/07 Hello WWM, <Didi...> I have another question, unrelated to the fish disappearances :) The question is about the same fish - molly, 2 swordtails and a guppy in the 3 gallon tank. I've had them since February, and they haven't been sick yet (except the latch-on worms that the molly came with from the store... but we got rid of those early with CopperSafe). <Mmm, Lernaea? Not treatable with such> Anyway, so my fish have been healthy and happy and I've never seen them rub on rocks for any reason. However, recently I decided to make their life a bit more interesting and changed the decoration. I took them out, cleaned the tank <Describe this process... Not too thoroughly I hope> and put in new rocks, shells and plants, organized in a different way. I put the fish back in (with a portion of the old water, to keep the bacteria and everything). At first the fish looked confused, not recognizing their home. Then they started exploring the new decorations, and vigorously rubbing themselves against everything - rocks, shells, even the plants. All of the fish did that for a while. They would approach an object, look at it for a moment and with a swift motion rub the side of their body against it. They weren't exhibiting any signs of illness - no white spots or patches on their skin, no worms, etc. They did the rubbing for a while that evening, and by morning the next day they were fine again. That was several weeks ago. They haven't rubbed since, and none of them has gotten ill. They look as healthy, active and stupid as always :D <Trouble with all the too much, too soon changes here... Very likely you've lost bio-cycling...> My question: is rubbing a sign of anything else, that is not a disease? <Can be indicative of a few challenges... though some rubbing is "natural"> If those were cats, I'd assume they're marking a new territory, hehe, but who knows what fish mean with it... The marking is the only thing I can think of. Please let me know. Thanks, Didi <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish rubbing on rocks - a sign of something other than disease? Wasting time...   7/28/07
Hi Bob, <Didi> I've mixed in my replies with the previous message: >I have another question, unrelated to the fish disappearances :) The question is about the same fish - molly, 2 swordtails and a guppy in the 3 gallon tank. I've had them since February, and they haven't been sick yet (except the latch-on worms that the molly came with from the store... but we got rid of those early with CopperSafe). ><Mmm, Lernaea? Not treatable with such> --> no, ours were tiny, fat white worms. Lernaea are long and thin, and darker in color. Anyway, one of the fish experts at our PetCo has 30+ years of experience and knows a lot; <I built their program in the early nineties before the first time the co. went public...> he looked at the fish and said CopperSafe would kill the worms it had (CopperSafe should kill anything that's invertebrate). <... no... Please... don't waste our time writing... Read a reference book or two... You attend college? They have a life science dept. I take it...> The latch-on worms never came back. I occasionally see Planaria worms crawling on the glass, but that's all. > Anyway, so my fish have been healthy and happy and I've never seen them rub on rocks >for any reason. However, recently I decided to make their life a bit >more interesting and changed the decoration. I took them out, cleaned the tank ><Describe this process... Not too thoroughly I hope> --> Okay, the process. With this small tank, I do 1/3 water changes every week. Then once a month I take everything out, rinse the tank, gravel and shells with just water (scrubbing the nasty layer of algae off the walls and washing the mountain of crap out of the gravel), reassemble and let the fish back in with about half of the old water + half fresh water with conditioner, plant enhancer drops and a bit of salt. With the bigger tank hopefully I won't have to take everything out, but this small one gets very dirty very fast. I got a "gravel vacuumer" hoping to be able to suck the waste out of the gravel instead of taking the gravel out and rinsing it, but it doesn't work with such a small tank. By the time I've vacuumed a third of the bottom, I've already sucked almost all the water out of the tank. With the large tank there's more water and I'll have more time to clean the entire area, so I won't have to take the gravel out. <Please see WWM re... FW maint... I would not switch out this much water...> > and put in new rocks, shells and plants, organized in a >different way. I put the fish back in (with a portion of the old water, >to keep the bacteria and everything). At first the fish looked confused, >not recognizing their home. Then they started exploring the new >decorations, and vigorously rubbing themselves against everything - >rocks, shells, even the plants. All of the fish did that for a while. >They would approach an object, look at it for a moment and with a swift >motion rub the side of their body against it. They weren't exhibiting >any signs of illness - no white spots or patches on their skin, no worms, etc. They did the rubbing for a while that evening, and by >morning the next day they were fine again. That was several weeks ago. >They haven't rubbed since, and none of them has gotten ill. They look as >healthy, active and stupid as always :D ><Trouble with all the too much, too soon changes here... Very likely you've lost bio-cycling...> --> I cleaned the tank just as I had done every month, and as I described above. The fish never reacted this way before though. The only difference now was that I had new shells and two new plants (same gravel). The fish never rubbed after cleaning sessions before. <Tapwater is not a consistent product... could be that your livestock were poisoned with sanitizer...> Seems like they were reacting to the new decoration itself. What I noticed before is that they were aware of the particular decoration I had in the tank before, and after putting them back in after cleaning, they recognized the tank as the same space (I put the decoration back exactly as it had been) and knew they were at home. They would return to their usual sleeping places, feeding places, etc. What threw them off was the change of setting - the familiar rocks were gone, so now it looked like they were in a new space. That's how I explain it. The parts of the tank that are in the same locations, like the filter tube and cascading water, they recognized right away. I used to always feed them right in front of the cascade (so the water can spread the food around), and when I leaned over the tank after the big move-around, they all swam up to the cascade in a cluster and started vacuuming the surface in search of food. Anyway, my point is that fish have a memory for landmarks as they need to navigate in the water in the wild, so in this case they must have interpreted the change of landmarks as a change of location altogether, and acted confused because they were in unfamiliar territory. <Possibly got used to it though, and now they're not rubbing anymore. With that in mind, I still wonder if the rubbing was indeed a response to the change of scenery, and if, behaviorally speaking, the rubbing has a particular message and purpose. Let's assume that it's not a matter of health, because none of them have gotten sick or exhibited any signs of weakness or dullness. Is there a behavioral explanation? <Interesting... but I know naught> >My question: is rubbing a sign of anything else, that is not a disease? ><Can be indicative of a few challenges... though some rubbing is "natural"> >If those were cats, I'd assume they're marking a new territory, hehe, but who knows what fish mean with it... The marking is the only thing I can think of. >Please let me know. >Thanks, >Didi ><Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm >and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> --> I read the article, thanks. I am in the process of establishing the environment in the big tank now, by using the old shells and gravel from the small tank + a small school of zebra fish for a start. It's been cycling for more than a week now. The small tank was already established though, and whenever I had to clean the walls and rinse the mountain of crap out of the gravel, I put at least half of the old water back after that. <Good> Including in the case of the new decorations when the fish did the rubbing... <Ok! RMF>

FW, fish don't last... Can Neale hold on!?  7/2/07 I recently started a new 5 gallon fish tank with a bio filter. I started with 5 fish but now I'm down to one. They all do the same thing, they lay on the bottom of the tank with their gills and mouths opening and closing. I added an air pump after the first four died. HELP! <Greetings. For a start, 5 gallons is a very small aquarium, so keeping fish healthy in there at all will be difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. The bigger the tank, the easier. For beginners, a 10-20 gallon tank is a better starting point. Anyway, the reason the fish are dying is that the filter is immature. The fish produce ammonia, and without a biological filter that works, the ammonia accumulates and kills the fish. It takes about 4-6 weeks for a biological filter to go from zero to established, and a few weeks more for it to be really stable and 100% effective. The easiest approach is to grab a quarter to a half the filter media from an established tank's filter, stick it in the new filter, and then add a small number of fish. With luck, the "old" media will work straight away and colonise any new filter media in the filter, and jump start the whole cycling process. (Don't worry about the filter in the established tank -- mature filters will colonise new filter media almost at once, so apart from cutting down the food a little for a few days, there's no risk involved.) Have a read of this excellent article on "Your First Aquarium", here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm . Then read this article on Cycling aquaria: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm . Hope this helps! Cheers, Neale>

Help my fish is dying - I can't help without more useful information!  -- 6/12/07 I have a Plecostomus floats on its side. <Not a good sign. How long has this been going on?> The tail fin is either nipped off or deteriorating off. <None of the fish you mention would below would likely cause this sort of injury (although I'm not sure what a "small ground feeder" is...); I'd be willing to bet this is tail rot, a condition typically caused by poor water quality. Have you used a quality liquid test kit (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals and Tetra both make good products) to measure the levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in the water? The former should be at zero, while the latter can safely be as high as 20 ppm (though lower is better). How large is this tank and how often do you do water changes? What type of filtration is running on the tank? I need lots of information to be able to help you/your fish...> I have added three neon fish and a dojo fish to my tank that all ready had come with the Plecostomus another small ground feeder that has never changed sizes for the last three years and another fish not sure what it is. I haven't had any problems with them until I added this dojo and Neons. What should I do? <Test your water for starters. Most fish illnesses and diseases are caused by poor water quality; remedying this underlying environmental cause often times will solve the problems. However, I can't say for certain without additional information; see questions posed above. In the meantime, start reading: here's a good place to begin - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm Best regards, Jorie> Thanks Cassi

FW crashing.. but numbers look good.  - 04/20/07 Hey guys, your site is great. I tried to sign up to post something on the boards, but it said registration was down. I didn't want to email, but this is pretty serious. <Hello, and thanks for the compliment.> I have a 75 gallon FW tank and as of Saturday its only inhabitants were 3 small zebra Danios, 5 Neons, 3 marble hatchets, and two Cory's. <Certainly plenty of space for those fishes!> My wife decided she wanted new fish for the our Easter party, so on Saturday I did a 15 gallon water change, and changed all of the carbon pads in my 3 hang on Penguin power filters. <Why are you using carbon? I can't say this often enough, but except in very specific situations, filter capacity is better used to hold some biological filter media of your choice. Carbon serves no useful purpose in a regular aquarium except to part aquarists from their cash. Worse still, carbon removes most medications, so making treatment for things like Whitespot more complicated than they need be.> On Sunday we bought 6 mollies and 6 zebra Danios. <Mollies wouldn't be my choice here: they *need* hard and alkaline water and arguably do best in brackish water. None of your other fishes share these requirements, and in fact prefer soft and acidic water. Please, get an aquarium book and read the sections on water chemistry requirements before purchase.> I floated the bags, dumped out the LFS water, and put them in my tank. They all swam around, met each other and things are great. <Dumping the LFS water solves one problem but causes another. The problem it solves is keeping the ammonia produced on the trip home out of the aquarium. The problem it causes is that your fishes had no chance to "taste" the water in the aquarium before they were put into the tank. If the pH and hardness differences are great, this can be fatal. Far better to use a variation on the drip method. Put the fish and LFS water into a bucket, and then add water from the tank a half-cup or so every 5 minutes. After about 30 minutes, net the fish out and put them in the aquarium. This way, they've had a chance to acclimate to any changes in conditions. Extend the period of acclimation for more delicate fishes like discus or halfbeaks.> Monday night I notice a little wiggly black thing in the tank, and then another. It didn't take long for us to find 15 small molly fry (and for me to get back from my LFS with a net breeder). <Very good!> Tuesday no news, just enjoying the tank. Wednesday night notice a molly not acting well. Thursday morning. I have now found four out of six (adult) mollies dead, two out of nine Danios dead, and three out of five Neons dead. <Oh dear.> I found the Neons last, and up until that point had thought that the fish were just diseased and stressed from the over crowded LFS tanks. <Possibly, but (contrary to expectations) it can be more harmful for a fish to go from bad conditions it is used to good conditions it is not used to. Hence the importance of acclimation and quarantining.> But when I saw the Neons I thought my tank was imploding. I tested and here's what I found: Temp 78, trite 0, trate 10ppm, amm .25ppm, pH 8 <Your ammonia level is way too high: 0.5mg/l is a lethal level for many fish, and even half that is severely stressing them. Also, the pH is really a bit on the high side though most freshwater fish will generally adapt to pH 8.0. They may not like being dumped straight into it, though. Hence acclimation and/or quarantining!> The water change was done with R/O water from my 'non big box' LFS so I can't imagine chlorine..... <My concern is with the filter. That you are using carbon suggests to me you don't *quite* understand how a filter works or what it does. Please have a look at the primer, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfiltration.htm and then read around a little more. Carbon is a legacy from when people didn't do water changes -- the assumption was that "old water" was better than new water. Carbon removed dissolved organics (the stuff that made the water yellow) and so made the aquarium *look* sparkly clean at least. We now regularly do 50% or more water changes once  a week, and have learned that the more water changes, the better. Under such conditions carbon has almost no time to do anything useful. What you want in a filter is as much biological filtration capacity as possible, because it is ammonia (and nitrite of course) that kills fish. So, bin the carbon, and replace with sponge, filter wool, high-end ceramic media, whatever. Also, perform daily water changes of at least 25% to bring down the ambient levels of ammonia.> I know adding 12 fish seems stupid anyway...but without so much as a spike in anything...I can't seem to figure out what's going on.....PLUS...all of the Molly fry are still alive and eating like pigs, I thought they would have been the first to go if the water was THAT bad. Any ideas? <What will happen is that the fish will (literally) die back to what the filter has biological filtration capacity to support. Everything will then suddenly seem fine. This is the basic biological law that whatever is in least abundance limits success. In this case, you may have plenty of aquarium space, but your filtration capacity is limited, and that's putting a ceiling on the number of fishes you can keep. Have a read through the Cycling topic, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and then once ammonia is at zero add a couple of fish at a time, building up the numbers perhaps every other week. This will give the bacteria a chance to colonies the new biological filter media you are using, ramping up the filters capacity to clean and purify the water. Keep checking the water chemistry/quality.> Thanks very much, Bruce in Chicago <Cheers, Neale in Berkhamsted>

Re: FW crashing.. but numbers look good.  - 04/20/07 Thank you very much for response. I do read very often, and do understand how a cycling tank works. <Cool.> I use the carbon pads for two reasons. They have a sponge on one side, the side the water initially goes through, which removes large debris from the water (and since it has a large surface area allows bacteria to grow). <Filter media *either* work biologically, chemically, or mechanically. They can't do two or three things at once. So if the carbon is at the front of the filter, straining incoming water (i.e., mechanical filtration) it will get coated with detritus and silt very quickly, and this will prevent the carbon adsorbing dissolved organics. Clean carbon works for a matter of weeks at best in most aquaria, and the whole point of "activated" charcoal is that it is sintered to maximize its surface area. As soon as silt fills the micro cracks on the surface of the carbon, it's effectiveness drops orders of magnitude.> The water then flows through the carbon to help remove waste and since it too has a large surface area, being porous, it contributes to my bacteria culture. <Again, it can't do both these things. If bacteria coat the carbon, they isolate the carbon from the water, and prevent adsorption. I agree carbon makes a good substrate for bacteria, but there are better ones, like ceramic filter media.> All three filters are the type that also have a 'bio-wheel', which spins in the stream of water, allowing bacteria to meet water and air and grow. <Yes indeed, this is the case. But honestly, the carbon is doing nothing useful. It is mostly a commercial con: by "looking" more sophisticated and being part of a proprietary filter cartridge, the manufacturers are able to get more money from you. It's a case of "giving away the razors but selling the blades". By all means stick with carbon if you want -- it's your money -- just remember to remove it any time you medicate the aquarium.> BUT....I will take a look further into your suggestion because it makes the same sense to me as using live rock in my SW tanks. <Exactly so. Pretty much everything you've learned with your marine tanks holds with freshwater, too. Biological filtration trumps everything else. Get that right, and the rest is easy. Mechanical filtration is next in importance, and primarily for aesthetic reasons rather than fish health. Chemical filtration is (normally) way down the list, except perhaps where you are using the filter to buffer the pH via peat or calcium carbonate. Beyond that, stuff like carbon and Zeolite are bolt-on goodies to spend money on if you want but hardly essential or even useful.> Porous bio-balls or ceramic give much more room for bacteria to live, therefore increasing the amount of contaminates they can take care of. I did read both of the links provided, thank you, but I did have one question. If using bioballs or the like in my power filters, would the cultures benefit by placing airstones in the back of the PF with them? This would seem to add quite a bit more oxygen, but I guess I'm not sure if there is such a thing as TOO much oxygen with these bacteria. <In theory, yes, the more air bubbling through the filter the better. But the problem is if you get bubbles inside the pump, you reduce the flow of water and increase the amount of noise. At worse, the bubbles can stop the pump turning altogether, which will cause the filter to fail. So it depends on the precise filter system you have. If the air can rise to the top of the filter without getting sucked into the pump, certainly your idea is well worth trying.> Thank you for taking the time to respond, the lesson has been learned (about fish and filtration alike) and I appreciate the input. <No problems.> Bruce in Chicago <Neale in Berko.>

Gravel washers, dis. transmission  -- 4/10/07 Greetings, I recently purchased a gravel washer and believe it's the best thing since sliced bread for water changes!  I do water changes and gravel washing at least every two weeks. <Wow, you're a better person than I... water changes weekly, gravel cleaning once or twice a year!> I am wondering though, should the gravel washer be soaked in any kind of disinfectant between washes? <If you have more than one aquarium, it is a good idea to clean things between moving them from one tank to another. You'll see retailers nowadays often keep their nets in jugs of disinfectant so that any diseases in one tank can't hitchhike to another. But realistically, cleaning the gravel washer every two weeks is probably overkill. If you want, sit it in a bucket of strong (at least 70 grammes/litre) salt solution. That'll kill most bacteria and parasites, while at the same time not being toxic to the aquarium fish if any gets left behind on the device.> I realize that the water is chlorinated going through the tubing back into the tank but trapped water does lay in the tubing between washes. <Store things dry. Most bacteria and aquatic parasites cannot tolerate exposure to air or sunshine (UV light) for very long.> Could that be a potential source of any kind of disease for the fish? <Potentially, yes, but the risk is trivially small compared with live foods (esp. Tubifex) and new aquarium fish.> Just wondering what you might recommend.  Thanks in advance! <Cheers, Neale> Linda Ritchie
Gravel washers
& Value of "Quarantine", aka Isolating new livestock... FW here  -- 4/10/07 Morning Neale, Thanks for the quick response. <No problem.> I'm slowly getting it through my head that the best way to protect your existing healthy fish is to use an iso tank for the newbies. <Yes it is. Also, when breeding fish, nothing beats having another tank to cosset pregnant females or rear the babies.> I've taken many fine suggestions from your crew and website.  Most of our LFS in this area are large chain stores that don't do much to isolate or even recognize a problem with their stock so it's vital that I take every precaution to prevent infestation in my tanks.  It's very relaxing to me to watch my livebearers go about their daily chores happy and healthy and to watch the fry grow into adults.  I've been keeping fish off and on for almost 30 years and much has changed in husbandry techniques since I started.   <Cool. One thing I forgot to mention in your original question -- is chlorinated water going into the tank when the fish are there? It shouldn't be. The chlorine is quite nasty as far as the fish are concerned. So always use a dechlorinator on any water that is in the tank when the fish are there.> Linda <Cheers, Neale>
Re: Gravel washers
& Value of "Quarantine", aka Isolating new livestock... FW here  -- 4/10/07 Yes, the water is chlorinated but I add the dechlorinator in conjunction with the water.  I put some water in a pitcher and add the dechlorinator to prime the filters.  So far this has worked great. I wash the filters and filter packs with the water that comes out of the aquarium into the sink during the water change.   <Cool.> I don't try and adjust the pH to much for the livebearer tank. <Always wise. Easiest to get fish that like your water, rather than try to fiddle the water to suit your fish.> I just added some crushed coral to work on the KH, it's a little low at 4. <Agreed, and the solution sounds good. Be sure and deep clean the coral sand though: once covered in bacteria and algae (i.e., after a few weeks) it is isolated from the water, and doesn't do any buffering.> GH is right about 7-8 which should be okay.  Ph is very stable at about 7.4. <Both fine for Platies.> Found out the hard way that the pH neutralizer does a number on the live plants! <Odd. Some plants like acid water, some alkaline, so that may be the thing. Many of the hardier plants, such as Vallis, like hard, alkaline water. If you soften the water too much, they get unhappy very quickly. Done this myself and watch hundreds of Vallis die overnight! Not pretty. Again, best to choose plants for your local water. There are lots of species that love hard, alkaline water: Vallis, Egeria, some Amazon swords (e.g. E. bleheri), some Crypts (e.g. C. wendtii and C. ciliata), Java fern, Java moss, etc.> I bring down the pH to around 7.2 for in the tetra tank.  As long as it remains stable the fish are okay. <Most tetras shouldn't mind even pH 7.4, so I'd not bother with the pH adjustment. The difference between 7.2 and 7.4 is not that important. Fish don't really "feel" pH anyway; they feel the total dissolved solids, which the acidifying agent isn't doing anything about. I personally wouldn't bother with the pH adjuster -- I'd sooner do more water changes to keep the quality high. Cheers, Neale>

Stocking a 15 Gallon FW Plant Tank   3/21/07 Hello, I have a 15 gallon eclipse system tank, that has been cycled since late  August. The inhabitants I currently have are 3 marbled hatchets, 3 nanus neon  cories, and 1 German blue Ram. There are also 2 different Amazon swords, one is ground level that grew a stem and leaves to reach the surface, emergents I  am guessing? Also, the second is a large sword, with large broader leaves  that stretch to the top of the tank. These have been in my tank since Early November or late October. Temperature is at 78 degrees and pH is about 6.4 (slowly bringing it down to 6, it used to be 7) I have a couple of questions. My blue ram is very shy. He has been in my tank since October, the last fish added, and since then he has been very frightened of me. He eats and explores the tank, but only when I am not in the  room. I would have to hide and watch as he scouts around the tank. When I walk  by, he hides, and does not come out at all. Is there a way for me to get my  trust in him and so he gets to know who I am better? He won't even come out to feed when I am standing there, I would have to go hide. Up until this day, he has not had any diseases or such and has been quite healthy. I don't even feed him the bloodworms because it doesn't go to his belly but to my tanks nitrates.  Any advice? < Rams are normal very shy fish to begin with. Having other fish in the tank creates some activity and helps these fish get over their shyness. They are referred to as dither fish.> Second, is my stocking complete? I have the three small nanus cories, at  the moment not bigger than an inch, the 3 marbled hatchets about 1.5 inches long each. And the ram who is about two inches. I understand that the inch per gallon  is just a general idea to help you stock, but it doesn't necessarily give you  the exact stocking level. The tank is 10 width, 20 length, and about 18-20  height depending on how high the water level is. Can I add anything else to the  tank? Maybe a mate for the ram or a small group of tetras? < Check the nitrates. If you can keep them below 20 ppm between water changes then you can add some additional fish. A small group of tetras would work just fine for your dither fish problem too.-Chuck> I am fixing up the tank, adding some real driftwood, more live plants,  upgraded lighting to the least 30 watts, and better fertilizing gravel for the   plants. The lighting is the only problem, because of the eclipse hood. Thanks, Joe  

Fish problems... actually Hobbyist problems   3/20/07 Greetings,   <Sherly> I'm so glad I found your site, but since I work 50+ hours a week, I don't have a whole lot of time to read & find all the info I need.  Please forgive me for needing to ask of your time.    <We'll see...> I love my fish, and because of bad allergies, they're the only pets that I can have. After a year+ of having tropical fish successfully, about a month ago I went from a 10-gallon to a 30 gallon tank.   But I'm having some problems.  Since my original fish appeared to be healthy in their new "home", I bought some more fish to fill the rather empty tank. <No quarantine?> But I had 4 deaths in the first week, and 2 of my original fish don't look so well these past few days. I find it unusual to have so many deaths in such a short time.  Normally, I see one pass away after several months.  The deaths of my very first & original fish occurred over many months, but one at a time and not within a few weeks of each other. My original fish included: 3 Rosy Reds (test fish -- all gone) <Are coldwater minnows... not really suitable for tropical aquariums... may have brought disease in...> 2 Lemon Von Rio Flame Tetras (had 4, the other 2 have passed) 3 Black Phantom Tetras (had 5, ... 2 have passed) 2 Colored Kuhli Loaches 1 Golden Algae-eater   (had 2, I watched this survivor "Sardine" kill the other by sucking, ramming and literally knocking the other algae-eater out of the tank) <Is often too "mean" to keep with smaller fishes... Look up Gyrinocheilus... on WWM, the Net...> I added... 6 Blood-fin Tetras 5 Silver Hatchet Tetras (which I was told they jump & therefore, purchased a different lid) 5 Albino Cory 5 Upside-down catfish <Live in different water...> I lost 3 Albino Cory, 2 of the deaths were less than 12 hours from each other (and only bothered replacing one -- since that's all I had time for) And I lost 1 Upside-down catfish to the water filter (don't ask me how it managed to swim in there, I found it during a water & filter change after the other 3 deaths). <...> But 2 of my Black Phantom Tetras are ill (I think).  One is displaying very, very red gills (and one side of his gill looks flared-out ... or just plain broken/bent out of shape), and the other has some funky junk on his mouth.  I put fish medicine in the tank (I doubt the stuff works, but it says it treats red gill and fungus mouth).    <...> ... and just recently I got 4 Balloon-belly Mollies -- <What re your water quality?> "Ebony", "Ivory", "Salt" & "Pepper" (I got impulsive today).  And "Ivory" gave birth to 17 fry (16 survived... I lost one to the water filter (again with the filter).  I have the fry in a breeding basket in the same tank.  I do plan on checking with the pet store(s) here to see if they'll take these fry because I think I'm a bit overloaded. <You're a bit compulsive I'd say> I want to know what I might be doing wrong? <The list is long... not researching the life... its requirements, compatibility before purchasing... Not monitoring water quality...>   I only have a PH test kit - and it's last reading was 7.0 (I haven't checked since I got the mollies today & added a little aquarium salt... <The Characins/Tetras don't "like" salts...> and had an unexpected birth of fry).  I also have a different filter.  Instead of one that hangs outside the tank, I have one that submerges in the tank.  I got this filter because it's quieter (and I can't sleep with loud noise at night). My current water temperature averages 76 Fahrenheit.  I set up this new tank just like the 10 gal -- I let it run a week before adding fish, <Cycled?> except this time I didn't use any of the cheap 10 cent fish after a week, I just transferred my original fish.  My algae-eater is now 5" long ("Sardine's" the largest thing in the entire tank).  I feed my fish freeze-dried bloodworms, shrimp pellets and an algae chip for "Sardine" -- my original fish stopped eating flakes after a while, so I switched to bloodworms to get them to eat again (are they being picky?) <Mmm, no> All the other fish seem fine, I'm at a loss at what exactly I did wrong to incur so many losses in such a rapid time.  I don't want to lose any more fish and don't really have the time to constantly return to the pet store. ~Shirley <Well... it dawns on me that you may just not have time for this hobby really... To be absolutely frank with you (though my name is Bob), I think you ought to consider whether you're ready to commit (yes, with the big C) to being involved with captive life... Your letter reveals a few things. One: a lack of reading, involvement... Two: Good/Bad consumerism... you "just buy" things... This is not a hobby/past-time for such casualness... IF you intend to keep an aquarium, this will demand more of your time... In investigating what can "go together", and how to set-up and maintain a given mix of compatible species... Are you willing, able to make that promise? Perhaps another non-living interest would be better for you at this time. Bob Fenner>
Neale's much better response...  3/20/07 Greetings,    I'm so glad I found your site, but since I work 50+ hours a week, I don't have a whole lot of time to read & find all the info I need.  Please forgive me for needing to ask of your time.     <Please understand that we all work, too, so forgive me if I send you along to pages you should read over to get the general idea before trying to answer specific questions.> I love my fish, and because of bad allergies, they're the only pets that I can have. <Catfish instead of cats, eh?> After a year+ of having tropical fish successfully, about a month ago I went from a 10-gallon to a 30 gallon tank. <Good, a bigger tank is usually easier to care for. But you did cycle the filter in the new aquarium, didn't you?> But I'm having some problems.  Since my original fish appeared to be healthy in their new "home", I bought some more fish to fill the rather empty tank. <Never a good idea. With a new tank, go slow. Add the fish you have, wait a few weeks, then add some more only if the water quality (nitrite and ammonia) is where it should be, i.e., zero.> But I had 4 deaths in the first week, and 2 of my original fish don't look so well these past few days. <Anytime fish die off unexpectedly or in clumps, whip out your nitrite and/or ammonia test kits. 99% of unexplained fish deaths are caused by water quality issues.> I find it unusual to have so many deaths in such a short time.  Normally, I see one pass away after several months.  The deaths of my very first & original fish occurred over many months, but one at a time and not within a few weeks of each other. <It is unusual. So DID you do a nitrite or ammonia test?> My original fish included: 3 Rosy Reds (test fish -- all gone) 2 Lemon Von Rio Flame Tetras (had 4, the other 2 have passed) 3 Black Phantom Tetras (had 5, ... 2 have passed) 2 Colored Kuhli Loaches 1 Golden Algae-eater   (had 2, I watched this survivor "Sardine" kill the other by sucking, ramming and literally knocking the other algae-eater out of the tank) <Algae-eaters (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) are notoriously aggressive and just plain nasty fish. Watch your specimen very carefully, and be away it will reach about a foot in length.> I added... 6 Blood-fin Tetras 5 Silver Hatchet Tetras (which I was told they jump & therefore, purchased a different lid) 5 Albino Cory 5 Upside-down catfish <OK, here's where you went wrong. When fish die unexpectedly, you find out why. You don't add new fish. It's most likely a cycling issue, so please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > I lost 3 Albino Cory, 2 of the deaths were less than 12 hours from each other (and only bothered replacing one -- since that's all I had time for) <Please realize that you may be "wasting time" but your poor fish are "wasting their lives away". Spend the time figuring out the problem before buying any more fish!> And I lost 1 Upside-down catfish to the water filter (don't ask me how it managed to swim in there, I found it during a water & filter change after the other 3 deaths). <Strange. Perhaps it died and got sucked in? That said, these catfish must have hiding places, and if there aren't any in the tank, they will search in places they shouldn't go.> But 2 of my Black Phantom Tetras are ill (I think).  One is displaying very, very red gills (and one side of his gill looks flared-out ... or just plain broken/bent out of shape), and the other has some funky junk on his mouth.  I put fish medicine in the tank (I doubt the stuff works, but it says it treats red gill and fungus mouth).     <PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do a water quality test for nitrite and/or ammonia. Also pH if you can. There are nice, inexpensive dip sticks that will do water quality and water chemistry tests all in one fell swoop. A real time saver. Fish almost always get sick because the water quality is bad (in the same way people get hypothermia when they're too cold, or cholera when given dirty water). Just wildly adding medications hoping for the best will not work!> ... and just recently I got 4 Balloon-belly Mollies -- "Ebony", "Ivory", "Salt" & "Pepper" (I got impulsive today).  And "Ivory" gave birth to 17 fry (16 survived... I lost one to the water filter (again with the filter).  I have the fry in a breeding basket in the same tank.  I do plan on checking with the pet store(s) here to see if they'll take these fry because I think I'm a bit overloaded. <Breeding baskets are not a good idea with mollies. The mollies are too big, get stressed, miscarry, and generally get unhappy.> I want to know what I might be doing wrong?  I only have a PH test kit - and it's last reading was 7.0 (I haven't checked since I got the mollies today & added a little aquarium salt... and had an unexpected birth of fry).  I also have a different filter.  Instead of one that hangs outside the tank, I have one that submerges in the tank.  I got this filter because it's quieter (and I can't sleep with loud noise at night). (Why are you adding salt to this tank? Sure the mollies like it, but the tetras and catfish won't. Salt is redundant in a properly run aquarium. Mollies are basically incompatible with most community fish. They need either pristine freshwater (less than 20 ppm nitrate) or brackish water. You have neither.> My current water temperature averages 76 Fahrenheit.  I set up this new tank just like the 10 gal -- I let it run a week before adding fish, except this time I didn't use any of the cheap 10 cent fish after a week, I just transferred my original fish.  My algae-eater is now 5" long ("Sardine's" the largest thing in the entire tank).  I feed my fish freeze-dried bloodworms, shrimp pellets and an algae chip for "Sardine" -- my original fish stopped eating flakes after a while, so I switched to bloodworms to get them to eat again (are they being picky?) <Don't expect fish to eat one food, day in, day out. Cycle them. Give bloodworms one day, flake the next, some veggies the third, and so on.> All the other fish seem fine, I'm at a loss at what exactly I did wrong to incur so many losses in such a rapid time.  I don't want to lose any more fish and don't really have the time to constantly return to the pet store. <1. Do a nitrite/ammonia test. 2. Don't add any more fish until everything is settled down and the fish are happy. 3. Don't buy any fish for a while; buy a nice aquarium book instead. 4. Go buy some more fish now you've read up on what would be compatible, but just a couple, so you don't overload the filter and give everything time to re-adjust. Cheers, Neale>

A very new fish owner. FW, ich, cycling     2/23/07 Dear Crew, <Stacy> I am really having a hard time keeping fish.  I believe that the 6 neon tetras that I bought 5 days ago now have Ich.  I've been all over the web and, admittedly, have found tons of information.  However, everything is so confusing! <Let's see if we can make all clear/er> Here are the facts:   My tank is a 6-gallon tank. <First source of trial here... small volumes are difficult to keep stable...> I had my water tested (I managed to kill 4 other fish a couple of months ago by overfeeding and kept the water - I did a 50% water change, rinsed all of the ornaments, let the water sit for a day, and then bought new fish). <... not likely cycled... Are you familiar with aquatic biological filtration?> The fish currently in the tank are:  2 small orange fish (not goldfish, but I don't know the name!) and 6 neon tetras.   Now, the neon tetras have white spots all over them. <Does "sound" like ich> I also bought a small algae eater the same day, but he died yesterday (not enough algae in the tank? <Perhaps... could be that the system is simply not cycled...> No one at the store advised me about algae fish food).  Maybe the ich? <Perhaps> I have an aerator, a filter with a bio-wheel and a water heater.  The temp stays at about 81degrees F. Please help!   With care, Stacy Menendez Desperate fish owner P.S.  I have two children - they're 5 & 7 - and it's killing me for them to see these fish die! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the linked files above... You likely need to add a bacteria culture or other source (see the articles) for useful material to rectify the environmental troubles here... and I would just elevate the temperature (to the mid 80's F.) to rid the ich... for now... READ soon... Bob Fenner>
Re: A very new fish owner   2/23/07
Thank you so much!  I've been told that I should definitely take the fish back too.  Since I got them 5 days ago, there's a chance that the ich came from the store. <Of a certainty, it did> You are very generous with your advice.  Thank you again. Stacy <Welcome. BobF>

Bubbles? - 02/09/2007 I have a small ten gallon fresh water tank for my daughter. It is about a month and a half old. For some reason fish continue to die. I test the water regularly and the only area that seems to be of even the slightest concern is the hardness. <Mmm, how hard... what species of fishes?> All other areas fall under the recommended norms. <Need values...> Before the fish die they always seem to develop what look like tiny bubbles on their sides, fins and amongst their tails and fins. <Mmm...> The fins and tails appear almost matted as well. I had a Chinese algae eater in there after about three weeks but it died also. <Wow... this is a very tough animal generally> I started with two guppies and one is still around. However two more have died. After several weeks I added two more small community fish, I can't remember what type right now, but one has survived and seems in good health, but another just died recently. Any ideas? <Mmm, all sorts... but need more data... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm And get back with me re what stirs your consciousness here. Bob Fenner>

2 Angelfish,1 Platy with clamped fin--what's the cause/cure?  1/26/07 Hey all, <Dave> I've been a long time lurker (I've learned a ton from this site) but I haven't been able to find an answer to this anywhere, so now I'm posting.  I have 2 adult angelfish in a 30 gal freshwater community aquarium with a few Platies, tetras, and a couple new yo yo loaches (added just 2 days ago).  I change out 5 gal of water every 2 weeks (last change was this Sunday) and test the water conditions weekly, everything looks fine as far as the water's concerned and I haven't done anything differently over the last 8 months that I've had this tank. Let me start back 2 days ago (same day I added the loaches).  One angelfish began to gasp at the surface <Mmm, likely more related to the water change... best to (nowadays) pre-condition, store new water for a week or so before using... Not the loaches influence> (it looked like at least, I don't know if she got any air) but otherwise was fine.  I noticed it more yesterday so I tested the water (fine) and changed out about 5 gals.  I figured they needed more aeration so today I picked up a powerhead and placed it in the corner of the tank.  After sitting in front of the tank to watch the fish in the current I noticed that both Angelfish were now holding their right-side fins close to their bodies.  They will use them if they need to move quickly, but if they're just hanging out the fins are held close to their sides.  Their side fins are frayed slightly at the ends, I think because they nip on each other a little but I am not positive as their main top/bottom/tail fins all look excellent (and move freely).  Also, their clamped side fins are red near the base, where the muscle attaches to the fin.  I decided to feed them to see how their appetite was doing, both appeared hungry but the gasping one barely ate and seemed a little confused near the surface--she would look at the food and then let it drift on by.  Also, I noticed yesterday a platy (been in the tank for at least 2 months) was resting on the bottom of the tank and was clamping its fins as well, but it's body is black so I cannot see any discoloration. Any ideas?  Could the loaches have brought in a new disease that could progress this far in 2 days? <Mmm, unlikely... but a remote possibility> I've read that clamped fin could be caused by parasites, maybe I should invest in a hospital/quarantine tank and treat the angels/platy?  Any info would be greatly appreciated. <Hard to decide here... on whether to suggest a sort of pre-emptive treatment for possible infectious or parasitic disease... or to advise you to wait out what is likely really only a situation arising from environmental challenge... Have you, had you tested for nitrogenous wastes, pH... What did these tell you?> Thanks, -Dave <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Ick? Not likely  - 1/22/07 Hi folks, <Jennifer> First off, thanks for all of the great info you offer on your website! I've been an avid reader since I started the hobby a few months ago. I think I have an outbreak of Ick in my 29 gallon freshwater tank. I haven't introduced anything new to my tank for about a month. <Yes... FW Ich can "rest" indefinitely...> The tank has been up for about 3 months. Right now I have 3 Platies, 6 penguin tetras, 3 panda Corys, 2 spotted Corys, 3 dwarf gouramis, 3 Oto catfish and a rainbow shark. I just noticed that one of the Platies has a white, round, fuzzy growth under her bottom lip. It seems bigger than the pictures of Ick that I have seen online so I'm not sure it is Ick. <Mmm, no... likely a "secondary" bacterial infection, following some sort of physical trauma... a bump, jump into something> Maybe a fungus or something? The water parameters have been stable and pretty good (nitrates at 5, nitrites at 0, ammonia at 0) except for some unknown reason the pH started dropping in the past week. <Natural... can be, likely should be countered with just partial water changes (maybe weekly) with water that has some degree of alkaline reserve> The guy at my LFS told me that instead of purchasing a pH upper, I could just use pure baking soda to raise the pH and stabilize the alkalinity. <This is so> So I did that, and added some dissolved baking soda (about a teaspoonful as per the guy's recommendation) to the tank <Not directly... should be introduced, dissolved in new water during a change-out> which has helped the pH situation. That was this morning. The other change that I made recently was about a week ago I switched from the filter that came with my tank to a Penguin Bio-Wheel filter. Could that have been the cause of the pH drop? <Mmm, not likely... pH drops are mainly due to reductive/acidic (natural) activity...> Could that have stressed my fish too much and caused the outbreak? <A possibility, yes> I have some aquarium salt on hand so I was hoping that I could use that to treat as soon as possible as the stores are all closed by now. <Mmm, not much... the Corydoras and Tetras don't "care" for this> However, I've read that salt can be dangerous to some catfish and I was worried about my Corys and the Otos. I tried to read more about the salt treatment by clicking on the link in one of your FAQ's but the link wouldn't work for me and kept saying that the page had a fatal error. <Mmm, could you send along the specific URL/page...?> Is there another page you could recommend to read up on the salt treatment? <I would just read the FAQs on the one there. There is no article as yet as far as I recall> Will my cats be okay with the salt? <I wouldn't add more> If it isn't Ick but rather is a fungus of some sort will the salt help or hurt it? <Should help> Should I raise the temperature in addition to the salt or is that going to be too much stress on the fish at once? <To the low 80's F. should be fine> Thanks so much for all of your help! Jen <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

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

New Tank Crashed, No Quarantine Tank, Bad Advice   1/7/07 Hello. My name is Pip. I am rather concerned about my fish in my tropical tank. I have a 36in long glass tank, with an undergravel filter, internal power filter, heater, light, plants (real) and several fish. My tank is fairly new. I set it up at the end of November with the help and advice of my local aquaria store and several books, some that I bought and some from the library. I like to read up on a subject to do with animals before I actually start keeping them, so that I more or less know what I'm doing, and doing it right. < Very commendable.> My aquar store, told me to set it all up, get it up and running and leave it for a week to settle before introducing any fish, which I did. < Really you only need to let it set up for a day or so to check that the heater and other equipment are working properly.> Then as suggested by them I introduced 5 white cloud mountain minnows, one of which I'd had on his own for about 4 years, and 5 leopard Danios, as they are hardy fish and would help with the nitrogen cycle. At the same time I also bought a few test kits, i.e. ammonia, pH, nitrite, GH and KH, and a nitrate kit, which I used every few days to make sure everything was fine. Within a week, the ammonia was 0, and the nitrite was 0, and the nitrate was 25 which I was told was ok. <A tank cycling from scratch in a week is not possible without some introduced bacteria from another tank or possibly the plants.> I then introduced 2 female and 1 male Siamese fighting fish, which settled in very well. Again tested the water and waited till it was right, then added 2 female and 1 male red dwarf Gouramis a pair of breeding dwarf Gouramis with the blue and orange stripes, male) silver and blue stripes (female), and 2 female and 1 male black balloon mollies. Did the same thing with the water testing then bought a red tailed black shark. Everything seemed fine, and I was told I would be able to buy more fish, so I bought 2 pairs of platys, 4 zebra Danios, 5 silver tipped tetra's 10 neon tetra's and 2 bulldog Plecs. I always introduced all my fish the way the books said, turning off the lights and floating the bags in the tank to acclimatize for half an hour or so, then I used a net to put the fish into the tank so that I didn't have to tip the water from the bag in incase there was anything not very nice in there. All seemed fine for ages, the fish were eating well, even mating. The temperature was and still is 75. (Which incidentally the mollies and platys are still doing and seem to be gravid). But about just over a week ago I noticed that one of my leopard Danios seemed to have bulging eyes, which I thought might be pop-eye, so I bagged her up and took her to my dealer for confirmation and to buy a remedy. He confirmed it for me and gave me a med that would treat that as well as dropsy, which I read can also cause bulging eyes, but she didn't seem to be bloated. Then I noticed some of my other leopards and minnows started to look bloated and pop-eyed too, so I treated the whole tank for dropsy carefully as the instructions said and got a smaller tank with some other meds that were sold to me to dip the fish in for 20 min.s or so, which I did, and gradually, one by one I began to lose them. I was very disappointed because I also lost Minnie, my 4 year old minnow. Gradually, 2 of my minnows seemed to recover, and become less bloated and bug eyed, though they are looking a bit tattered as their scales were a mess, though they are beginning to look a little better now and are still eating, though they are the only two minnows I have left now, both females. One of my leopard's has recovered, but doesn't appear to be eating. I have 3 of those left, the other two escaped the disease. Now some of my neon's are beginning to look bloated, I found one half eaten on the tank bottom about 4 days ago and promptly removed it, and two days ago another went missing, which I haven't found. To top that, 1 leopard that escaped dropsy and 1 silver tipped tetra both look like they may have tail rot. I'm not sure if it is rot or if they've been nipped, the others are fine though, so I've put them both together in my spare tank to keep an eye on them, I don't want to treat them for fin rot in case it isn't that, so I'm just watching to see if their tails begin to regenerate. One of my back balloon mollies had what looked like Whitespot all over her mouth, eyes and sides of her head, and looking closely some of the smaller fish, leopards and silver tips seem to have the odd one or two as well, so I treated the tank for that yesterday (not at the same time as for dropsy, that was about a week ago), most of my mollies spots have gone now, but some are still there, as are the other fishes, the treatment says to use again if necessary 48 hours later, so I will if I need to, but what I don't understand is what I did wrong. My sister has a tropical tank and her dealer said that my problem was called 'fisherman's run' and would sort itself out, that doesn't make me feel any better, I don't want to give up, but I sometimes feel like it, I'm determined not to cos I love the hobby, what should I do? Is my tank still going through it's maturation process? I tested the tank yesterday and the pH is 7.6 (which has been the same since the start) GH was 9/180 and KH was 4/40 ( which is quite soft compared to what it usually is which is around 6 or 7) Nitrite was 0, Nitrate was 25 which was 10 for quite a while and ammonia is 0.I also have a smaller tank set up of guppies with 5 pregnant females, though I'm not sure what the gestation period is or when to move them to a breeding tank, they're all fine though, though their KH is 5/50 which was usually 6 7 or 8. I'm really sorry to be bothering you with this very long epic, but I felt that I had to tell you the details so that you could maybe help me see what I'm doing or have been doing wrong. Thank you for your time and patience. Yours desperately Pip. <If you really read up on all those books you might have discovered that it usually takes about 30 days to cycle a tank unless some bacteria were added or an additive like Bio-Spira was added to the tank to get things going. You should have placed the fish you had for four years in the tank, since you knew it was disease free. Additional fish could have been purchased but placed in a quarantine tank for at least two weeks. Diseased fish could be treated in the QT tank and not affect the main tank. When you medicated the main tank it probably affected the biological filtration in the tank and you may have had ammonia spikes that have stressed the fish. Now what to do? Start out by doing a 50% water change, vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter. Treat with Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole as per the directions on the packages. raise the water temp to 82 F to treat the ich. Add a teaspoon of rock salt per 5 gallons. When the fish are either dead or cured you can add carbon to the filter to remove any medication. Then add Bio-Spira from Marineland to establish the biological filtration. All future fish need to be quarantined. Lots of current info on this website about quarantining fish. The term "Fisherman's Run", is crap! Find a new fish store.-Chuck>

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