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FAQs on Freshwater Diseases 6

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

FAQs on Freshwater Disease: Freshwater Disease 1, Freshwater Disease 2, Freshwater Disease 3, FW Disease 4, FW Disease 5,
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

Treating display tank (Rainbow shark)    7/26/18
I've tried to avoid sending you a message regarding this after reading copious amounts of information on your wonderful site, but I can't seem to piece together an answer regarding my situation.
I have a planted and fully cycled 75 Gallon. I have 12 tiger barbs, 6 boesemanni rainbow fish, and 1 rainbow shark.
I believe I am battling a case of some sort of parasite. I fully stocked my tank after a fishless cycle, same stocking but with a RTS. About 5 days into being fully stocked the RTS passed away, he was hiding not eating, and his skin had a goldish hue upon inspection, reminiscent of velvet from what I've seen online.
I went out and replaced him with a Rainbow Shark and bought about 1 liter of Seachem Paraguard (10% aldehyde by weight with malachite green supplemented) designed for external parasites and for protection against secondary infections (considered gentle compared to typical aldehyde treatments, from what I've read). I figured I may as well treat the entire tank since i did not do a quarantine regiment.
<Paraguard is a bit of "jack of all trades, master of none" medication.
While it may have some benefit as a preventative after fish have been stressed or damaged, for example through shipping, it'd not be my first pick of actually treating an established infection. Velvet is ideally
treated with a combination of heat, salt, and darkness. Otherwise, if that isn't practical, copper or formalin medications work extremely well, but these can be stressful for sensitive types of fish (loaches, pufferfish, etc.) even when used as directed by the manufacturer. There are some other medications out there, designed for Whitespot, such as eSHa EXIT that can work well, especially if used promptly.>
I Keep up with weekly 25 to 30% water changes and my Nh3/4 are always 0, Nitrite 0, ph 7.6 to 7.8 and nitrates ~10 to 15 max ppm. Temp is 77* F. I have a large airstone aerating the tank along with good water movement on the surface from my Eheim canister. Biological filtration seems to be unaffected by the treatment, and I have stopped lighting the tank altogether during treatment and only light is from a window that gets indirect sunlight for most of the day.
<Unfortunately if you're trying to use darkness to kill the Velvet, you need pitch black. A blanket over the tank is traditional, save a few minutes per day when people feed their fish.>
Everyone seems to be doing well with the Paraguard dosage as recommended by the bottle. The rainbow shark was behaving as expected and eating. Some of the tiger barbs are occasionally flashing and seem to breathe heavy, the Rainbow Fish have not flashed and are eating and breathing normally.
Rainbow shark has handled the Paraguard regimen just fine for about 12 days. Last two days he is now lethargic and barely eating (i say barely because I don't see him eating at all). He seems to be opening is mouth to get more water constantly to breathe.
<Do remember you can't kill the parasites on the fish, hence raising the temperature as part of the treatment. The parasites on the fish take some days to mature, and raising the temperature speeds that process up to a day or two. Once burst and with the motile infective stages in the water, ONLY
then can the medicine work. Until such time, the host fish will be stressed, and Velvet almost always affects the gills first of all. Do also remember if you use carbon, it WILL remove medications, preventing a cure.>
He is just resting in the open on a piece of driftwood but is generally lethargic, barely swims around, seems aimless. His color seems to be unchanged, in fact its gotten better since his arrival. Nice red tail and top fin, the others are a blackish/red more on the black side, dark black/grey body and a whitish underside. I can't visually see what looks like velvet anywhere on any fish. I know that tiger barbs have sort of a brownish tinge at some angles to them across their light part of their body, and the color is consistent and hasn't changed.
<Sounds promising.>
Paraguard recommends a 21 day regimen for Velvet and we are currently on day 14. Still unsure what I am actually treating for.
<Velvet is a good call if your fish (a) have a golden sheen of particles of a an icing sugar grain size; and (b) those fish are showing signs of respiratory distress, such as gasping or laboured gill movements. I would however medicate with a dedicated Whitespot/Velvet medication rather than a cure-all, as these latter tend to be a bit hit-and-miss.>
Do you have any recommendations on what may be happening with the shark/tank?
<See above.>
I've heard copper is another route aside from an aldehyde/malachite green type of medication.
<Copper is very effective, but will kill most invertebrates (such as shrimps and the more delicate snails) and will stress some sensitive fish (typically loaches, puffers, and some of the catfish).>
I don't want to over do it with constant medication. Should I just keep up with this? I've heard "things get worse before they get better" with parasites.
<As stated, any Whitespot and Velvet on your fish CANNOT be treated at all.
But these parasites have a temperature-related lifespan, which you can artificially shorten to around one or two days by elevating the temperature to 28-30 C/82-86 F while also increasing aeration to compensate for the lower amount of oxygen in warmer water. Once the life cycle switches to the
motile "larval" stage, these "larvae" are the things the medications will kill. The lower the temperature, the longer it will take for the "larvae" to be produced, and hence the longer any treatment will take.>
Any information would be greatly helpful as I have put my heart and soul into this tank and I love this current stock I have.
Thank you in advance,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Unexpected Dilemmas...    7/11/18
Dear WetWebMedia Crew,
I spoke too soon when I asked about what sorts of fish to add to my aquarium ... several new issues have come up.
<Oh dear.>
1. One of my weather loaches has developed two black eyes, one of which has a whole ring of black skin around the eye. This eye lost its sclera after the accident that wiped out all but four of my fish last year, but the loach’s other eye was fine. Since the fish’s behavior was otherwise normal, I did not treat him for anything. I just noticed yesterday that the damaged eye got this black ring around it, and both eyes have turned black.
<Hard to know what's happened here. Loaches push with their heads into the substrate, and if the substrate is something coarser than sand, there's a risk they'll damage their eyes. Given they're nocturnal fish, they probably don't use their eyes much, so can likely get by just fine with partial or even no vision at all. Medicating for eye damage is hard since the eyes rarely heal back from serious damage. But good water quality, and perhaps antibiotics, will help, especially if the damage is only superficial. You might also look at the tankmates. Cichlids have a tendency to bite the eyes of bottom-dwellers they perceive as threats. I would not keep fish as benign as Weather Loaches with anything overtly territorial that 'camped out' at the bottom of the tank, whether cichlids, suckermouth cats, or even a more aggressive loach species.>
2. My female blue acara developed some pale patches on her forehead between her eyes after the accident last year, but again, nothing else about her body changed so I did not do anything. She did become more lethargic and hid a lot after she lost her mate, but has since become more bold and willing to grab food before the silver dollars do.
However after last week I did not thaw out some frozen food completely, the nitrates spiked to ~30ppm and the patches seemed to get localized to her sensory pores. I did a 70% water change after that but I’m concerned this could be the start of a Hexamita issue. I did see some slimy feces on the floor of the tank, but it also had some undigested green bean pieces so I was unsure of what to make of it. She also occasionally rests on the floor of the tank, but still eats and swims normally as well.
The concern is that I have given her two courses of Metronidazole and other anti-parasite foods when I first got her because she seemed underweight (one of these foods killed my Geophagus after he butt in and ate too many of them by mistake, if you recall). I’m not sure whether I could give her another dose...
<I do agree that the Metronidazole plus Nitrofuran approach is probably best here. Cichlids do get these off-colour patches on their bodies, together with wasting and lethargy, when stressed. The Hexamita parasite may be involved, or it may be something else. High nitrate and low oxygen levels are two stressors I've come across. Review the tank, improve diet (fresh greens that offer vitamins seem to be one key to keeping Hexamita at bay) and then medicate as suggested.>
3. I found out my family has been changing the water only every two weeks, not every week while I am away. I’m not sure whether I should just give up on cichlids at this point and keep only non-nitrate sensitive fish until I am done with grad school and can be home enough to ensure the water is being changed enough...
<Understood. I don't bother with cichlids in 'semi-neglected' tanks where water changes are likely to be sporadic. There are some tough cichlids that don't seem to mind, but most of the small and pretty species seem to be sensitive to old water. Catfish and many of the 'old school' characins and barbs are far less sensitive, and so long as the tank is basically set up properly without overstocking, they're indifferent to nitrate.>
I will send you pictures later today.
<Sure thing.>
Thank you,
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Unexpected Dilemmas...    7/11/18

Dear WetWebMedia Crew,
I attached photos of the female blue acara and the weather loach's heads (yes I give my fish silly names. Sorry).
<My catfish was named Claire by a young friend. I tend to call her Clarabelle. Depends on my mood!>
I'm planning to give the acara to my LFS which specializes in cichlids. I could give her the Metronidazole food + Nitrofurazone bath treatment in the main tank, a quarantine tank, or just give her to the LFS and have them treat her (they treat their sick fish). What would you recommend?
<If the LFS know what they're doing, and have everything to hand, then it's obviously more convenient to let them treat the fish. But moving fish is stressful. I'd tend to treat at home, probably in the main tank since the medication shouldn't harm the filter.>
I think you're probably correct about the loach's eyes having been injured at least. As you can see the gravel is coarse and full of empty MTS shells.
The loach also has some warped fins, perhaps also caused by the substrate.
<Agreed; might simply be some sort of Pop-eye type thing. Epsom salt (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) can help, ideally alongside an antibiotic. The Nitrofurazone you're already using should do the trick
here, so I'd leave the Loach in with the cichlid and treat all the fish with the Epsom salt, the Metronidazole, and the Nitrofurazone.>
The reason I have not gotten rid of my coarse gravel is that it is part of my undergravel filter, so I don't want to mess with it, especially after the biofilter crash last year that wiped almost all my fish.
<Understood. But nothing to stop you replacing the gravel in stages, perhaps one-fourth the substrate every couple of months.>
As far as fish to get instead of cichlids, would tiger barbs be doable with the elongate fin rays of the male silver dollars, or should I try ruby barbs instead? And are Rainbowfish very nitrate sensitive as well?
Furthermore, are there any bottom feeding fish that would tolerate coarse substrates? My panda garra seems to do okay.
Thank you for understanding,
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re: Unexpected Dilemmas...    7/11/18
Just a quick question: the Nitrofurazone packets all say they are a known carcinogen and have been shown to cause cancer in animals. How concerned should I be about this?
<Not. Many things are carcinogens when exposed to organisms in large amounts and/or across long periods. Not the case with a one-time course of medications used as described by the manufacturer.>
Do I need to wear goggles and a mask when pouring the powder into the water?
<Nope. I mean, I wouldn't. But consult with your physician if you're concerned. I'm a "doctor of rocks PhD" not an MD, so it's not for me to offer medical advice.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Unexpected Dilemmas...    7/13/18
On a related note...one of my relatives (who is a physician) claims that taking an antiparasitic drug and an antibiotic simultaneously is very hard on the body, and it would be better to give the blue acara the
Nitrofurazone powder and the medicated food sequentially.
<May be true for humans. But with small fish you might not have time to do one after the other, and overwhelming the situation here is that medicating sick cichlids this way works well, while delaying, or not doing anything, ends in their death.>
The medicated food I have contains both Metronidazole and Kanamycin, so maybe this would be too many drugs at once for the acara.
<A smaller risk than you think; i.e., compared with doing just one medication at a time.>
However I am concerned this might make it harder to fully treat her...do you or any other member of the WetWebMedia crew (like say Bob Fenner) know anything about this?
<I'll let Bob chime in.>
<<I know naught re Neale. B>>
I'm currently starting with the Nitrofurazone, because, quite frankly, the loach's condition is a lot worse (I found out yesterday he also has a fresh-looking wound on his stomach...I think he must have hurt himself all over pretty badly recently...unfortunately, I'm out of town most of the year so replacing the gravel isn't really an option for me at the moment).
It's hard to tell whether the patches on the Acara's face are HLLE or something else.
Sorry for all the questions,
<Hope the above helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Unexpected Dilemmas... (RMF, your input requested)<<>>     7/14/18
I’m most of the way through the Nitrofurazone treatment. The loach’s condition is improving, and the blue Acara's is stable, but now all of the fish in my tank (even the healthy ones) are spitting out their food, no matter what kind of food I give them.
<Stop feeding for now. Fish will feed when they're hungry, and stop when they're stressed. Spitting out food can mean the food's distasteful (perhaps an old tub of flake or the medicine masks the flavours) but as/when things settle down, the fish will feed normally. Since large fish can go a couple months without food, none of this matters just yet. The fact they're snapping at the food indicates they're still curious and alert, which is good.>
Is it possible the Nitrofurazone in the water makes food unpalatable, or is the antibiotic doing something to the biofilter?
<Possible; use your ammonia and/or nitrite test kit to check.>
Could it be killing the Malaysian trumpet snails in the tank and fouling the water that way?
<Melanoides are pretty tough, and killing them is hard; so while it's always a risk with medicines, unless the snails were making a bee-line for the surface of the water, I'd not be too worried just yet.>
I know I should do a water test, but Nitrofurazone dyes the water yellowish-green and I am concerned that would interfere.
<Can do. But some colour change should still be apparent.>
(It says it is not to be used in invertebrates, but you stated if the MTS were doing badly they’d be climbing to the surface of the tank, and they’re not.)
<These snails are tough -- they'd probably survive a nuclear holocaust! Cheers, Neale.>
<<I would do a series of partial water changes here, like 25% a day for four days; just in case this is a poisoning, environmental situation. BobF>>

Re: Unexpected Dilemmas... (RMF, your input requested)     7/18/18
I changed the whole aquarium volume of water over the last few days, and the fish are eating normally again, with the exception of the blue acara.
I have tried giving her the medicated Metronidazole food, but she sucks it up and chews on it for a few seconds before spitting it back out. She does the same for normal food as well...what could cause this?
The loach’s wound has been healing and his eyes haven’t gotten worse but I am concerned he might have fin rot on his tail now.
I’m not sure whether there is any other medication I should put in the water for the loach and acara, given how the Nitrofurazone put all the fish off feed for a while. I don’t want to risk poisoning the healthy fish.
Last week 90% of the water was changed and the undergravel filter was cleaned, so I doubt water quality is an issue at the moment.
P.S. For future reference what sort of fish can tolerate rough substrates well? I did not know this would be an issue with the weather loaches when I got them many many years ago...
<I'd cease medicating this system; only do 25 % water changes at any given time; add carbon filtration for now and rely on good conditions to effect a cure. Bob Fenner>

Undiagnosed disease.      5/17/18
Hello crew, i hope you are doing well, as always.
<Hi Roberto,>
With the coming of winter, and slightly colder temperatures, i started using heaters in my tanks. (it was getting below 22 C).
One day i woke up to a Columbian tetra caught between the heater and the glass. I dislodged him and he went onto normal, except that he had an horrible vertical searing wound. It looked pretty horrible. I observed the fish for the following days and he looked to be healing pretty well. When everything looked good, he developed white, round growths on his wounds. It started slow, and i tried to net him many times out, but netting him out of a 150 gallon heavily planted tank is... hard. I decided to just keep on water changes daily and keep clean filters, etc.
The growths disappeared, and he seemed to heal completely. a week after the growths came back more aggressively, but still advancing slowly. Maybe a new growth every 2 days or so. I finally netted him out and put him on quarantine. I am concerned between three different ailments which are listed on your website: Lymphocystis, fungus or Columnaris.
<It doesn't look like Lymphocystis from the photographs of the Mollies and the Siamese Algae Eater. Conceivably Whitespot, but more likely Fungus, Columnaris, or perhaps Costia.>
i treated him with tetracycline and Methylene blue (correct me if im wrong, this has formalin right?).
<Formalin may be an ingredient in commercial medications, but these two chemicals are specific things, and in themselves, not formalin.>
Not sure if the treatment worked, as it jumped out overnight...
Fast forwarding a couple days, both fish pictures, a black molly and a SAE, developed the same growths. They don't have any wounds, they just started developing the growths. It seemed as first that single scales were popping out, then in the place of the pooped out scale appeared the growths. Some growths have disappeared, but they have left red open wounds.
<Not good.>
I have the molly in a 5 gal and treated with tetracycline, Methylene blue.
<Methylene Blue is effective against fungal infections, but will have little/no impact on Costia or Columnaris (also known as Mouth Fungus). Fungal infections often set in alongside other types of disease, which can be why Methylene Blue seems to help a bit, even where the actual problem is a protozoan or bacterium species.>
It seems to be working, albeit slowly. I am keeping on water changes on both the main tank and the quarantine, but what do you think is a correct diagnose?
<See above. Costia is typically associated with off-white to grey smears (hence 'Slime Disease') and can develop extremely rapidly. It usually respond best to anti-Whitespot medications, albeit slowly enough 2-3 rounds of treatment may be required. Columnaris (or Mouth Fungus) is bacterial in nature, so antibiotics are ideal, but failing that, some type of antibacterial medication used for external infections such as Finrot. I'd perhaps be looking at something like eSHa 2000 in the first instance, as it's fairly broad acting, dealing with a range of external bacteria and fungal infections. It also works well (and safely) alongside eSHa EXIT, which is a very good against external Protozoans. Since both these medications are cheap and widely sold, they're my favoured combination for use against difficult to identify, though obviously external, diseases.>
I went out and bought an API medicine that is supposedly for fungus. It is Victoria green (malachite green?) and Acriflavine. I can get Acriflavine separately for cheaper. Should i add, this sickness doesn't seem to be stressing them, they are eating normally, even the Columbian was doing so, even when heavily infested, it is developing, albeit very slowly.
I will be waiting input, so far no other fish have developed the growths, but it has shown it doesn't need an open wound to do so.
As always, thanks, WWM.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Fish help please!     10/4/17
Hi! I'm coming to you for advice...
<Sure thing!>
I'm fairly new to fishkeeping... I have a 20 gallon tank that I set up in June, and it's been cycled since early July. It was stocked with 3 platys, 2 guppies, 5 Glo Danios, and one honey Gourami. (Stocked in that order. The honey Gourami was in the tank for a month.) Three days ago, the honey Gourami suddenly got big, clear bulges on both sides-- mostly abdomen, but two other little bulges on its side, too. She mostly flopped on her side on the bottom of the tank for a day, though she came up looking for food when I fed the fish. The following day the bulges were worse. I moved her to a fry tank to try feeding her a pea, but she could no longer eat, and died that night. I looked for signs of dropsy (pine-coning) and to be honest, I didn't see it, but I took a bunch of photos and someone else told me that she looked pine-coned. Maybe just slightly? Not like pictures I've seen online. After she died the bulges disappeared.
<Does sound like a systemic bacterial infection. Could be caused by environmental stress of some sort. Honey Gouramis are somewhat delicate fish. I'd not recommend them for beginners, or for use in tanks less than 6
months old.>
The following day-- yesterday-- I found one of my smaller Danios on its side on the bottom of the tank gasping. It moved around a few times, but it was clear it was dying, so I took it out and euthanized it. It body looked normal except for a blood spot on its lower abdomen. Definitely no pineconing, bent spine, etc. And none of the fish have ever had white or stringy poop.
<To make a general point here, because the symptoms are rather generic:
when different fish die in a relatively new tank, then environmental conditions and/or maintenance are likely to blame. While you could be unlucky and have bought sickly fish or introduced something with a particularly bad pathogen, these are less likely explanations.>
First I'll tell you the water conditions, then my current problem:
Very consistently good water conditions before and after the fish deaths. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10-20 nitrates, ph is somewhere between 7.2 and 7.8 (hard to tell exact color), temperature 78. I have a bunch of moss balls in
the tank, along with some silk and hiding rocks. The only recent change is that I added 1/3 bag of PhosGuard to the filter because I've been dealing with diatoms for about 6 weeks. I do a 20% water change every week (25%
after the Gourami died).
<All sounds fine.>
A couple of the Danios have always looked skinny to me (the one that died was one of them), but no signs of problems before this in any of the fish.
<The fact that some Danios are skinny suggests they might be suffering malnutrition, poor genes, or possibly Mycobacteriosis right from the get-go, in which case nothing you can do will likely improve things.
Mycobacterial infections aren't catchy as such, so while serious, and basically untreatable, if you humanely destroy infected fish quickly, there's no reason to assume the others will have caught the disease. On the other hand, Mycobacteriosis is symptomatic of environmental stress, so you certainly can deal with multiple fish that are infected with the Mycobacteria pathogen, one after the other. Genetics plays a role here -- GloFish are very inbred, and that does make them more likely to suffer from health issues.>
Now the other problem: losing one Danio has seemed to completely screw up the tank behaviors. The other four are now acting aggressive to each other and every other fish in the tank, and even the platys are turning on each
other. It was a completely peaceful tank before.
<This is not unusual. Danios males can be, and often are, aggressive in very small groups. Certainly keep no fewer than six.>
So I'm very torn about what to do: since I don't know what just killed two of my fish, I planned to wait several weeks to get any new fish-- BUT now I'm worried that if I don't add another Danio, they're just going to stress
everyone out until they die anyway!
<Understood. It's a toughie, and your predicament is one that can cause real problems. If this was me, I'd wait a day or two and see if things settle. Longer term, I'd add some more Danios. But I'd also keep an open mind on the environment. Could copper be an issue? Do you use dechlorinator appropriate to your situation? For example, getting a brand that neutralises copper, Chloramine and ammonia alongside chlorine is a very good idea.>
Would appreciate any advice. I can send photos, but wanted to check first before sending attachments.
<By all means, but please keep attachments reasonably small, less than 500 kB for example.>
Thank you,
<Welcome. Neale.>

Freshwater tropical parrotfish; HITH      9/10/17
Could you tell me of something called Hith my fish has a tiny white spot on top of its head and someone on another website says it looks like hith but I've never heard of it
<HITH is an abbreviation standing for "Hole in the Head" disease. The "holes" go into the head of the fish, as opposed to the white pimples characteristic of Whitespot (Ick) so it is generally easy enough to tell the two diseases apart. HITH is a difficult disease to treat unless you use Metronidazole, which is the best medication available for the disease. HITH may be related to a parasitic organism called Hexamita, which infects and destroys the sensory pores in the skin, but the trigger is invariably environmental stress. In the case of cichlids -- which are more prone to HITH than any other freshwater fish -- low oxygen, high nitrate, and a poor diet (no fresh greens) seem to be the "holy trinity" of causal factors.
Prevention is better than cure, but in its early stages, HITH can be treated with Metronidazole, as mentioned earlier. Follow the instructions carefully, including removing carbon from the filter during medication.
Cheers, Neale.>

Help....!      8/16/17
I had high ammonia levels, and have been treating this fish in a 40lt hospital tank.
I don't want to loose him.
Been using prime and also API MelaFix.
<... the latter is of no help. I would cease using it>

Tank just has a heater 25.4 c and a air stone in it. Changing water every day and adding more API MelaFix.
Any ideas what I am dealing with?
<Appears to be an infected area resultant from some sort of physical trauma... Need a list of species, spec's on the system, water quality tests, foods/feeding... to render better (useful, accurate) guess/es>
<Data please>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Some kind of gill disease.... (RMF? Anything to add?)<Nada mas>     4/3/17
I have a 54 gallon female Betta community. I added some new fish about 6 months ago...and it began with mollies. The parameters are 0 ammo,0nitrite,20 nitrate. My water comes out hard so I soften it with peat and driftwood. About a month ago, one molly died from apparent swim bladder. One zebra Danio was looking extra skinny so I moved him to another tank with my king Betta because i thought his companions were out competing him for food. I've since lost 2 neons. Last week I noticed a molly with a bruised gill so I took him out and QT'd. He's also growing fungus on it a week later. The king Betta and skinny Danio are also exhibiting signs so I threw the molly in with them and have begun treating with maracyn 2 for the gills and maracyn oxy for the fungus. I checked out the other tank inhabitants and it's hard to tell because the Bettas are mostly red or dark, but I did noticed red gills one of the lighter ones. I also have snails, shrimp, and cories in the tank...I'm hoping you can help me with possible diagnoses and treatment.
Thanks so much,
<Ivy, my golden rule to diagnosing fish is this: one or two fish getting sick, might be a parasite or pathogen; whole succession of different fish getting sick, it's the environment. So the fact you've got soft water is one red flag -- Mollies will not (usually) live in soft water for long, and if the water is very soft, the pH can drop between water changes, causing serious health problems for all fish. You don't mention water chemistry, so I'd be getting the hardness and pH tested ASAP. If you don't have any test kits for this, many shops will do this for you, but I'd still recommend any fishkeeper grabbing, at the very least, those easy to use dip-strip all-in-one water chemistry testers. They aren't 100% accurate, but they're good value and easy to use. Random medication is a bad idea anyway, but given many medications are toxic to snails and shrimps, you need to be super-careful what you do. Basically, try and figure out what's wrong with the tank before you do anything else. Large, frequent water changes (say, 25% a day for the next week) should stabilise things, but I'd also be removing the peat and driftwood to ensure background acidification is prevented. Using a fresh batch of carbon in the filter for a few days isn't a bad idea either, as carbon will remove acid-causing chemicals like tannins quite effectively. Dispose of the carbon after a week or so.
Cheers, Neale.>

Community (FW) tank issues... Mystery losses   /RMF   3/3/17
I wonder if you can help me. I have something going on in my community tank. It is a 240 litre tank. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40
<Mmm; I'd use this measure as a general indication of your overall water quality
. Would endeavour to keep it less than 20 ppm. There are a few approaches to this; all gone over on WWM; but regular partial water changes; gravel vacuuming, careful feeding... perhaps some use of live plants, should keep it in range>
and Ph 7.6. A third of the water is changed weekly.
For a couple of weeks I have had a few of my hardier fish, Rosy Tetra, Harlequins and Honey Gourami die. I first noticed their poop was odd. It was white and fluffy. Then I noticed my gourami were starting to look very stocky and then bloated and die. Their colour towards the back of their body is losing colour and going pale.
<Something/s amiss here environmentally.
Have you added a rock, wood recently? Had spraying done in the garden? Perhaps a toxin from someone's hands...>
They have recently been treated with both ESHa 2000 and ESHa Hexamita.
Then a few of the fish had Whitespot so treated with ESHa Exit and have seen no signs of Whitespot since the three day course was up. I have medication for internal bacteria due on Saturday and Furan 2, Tetracycline, Kanaplex and PraziPro on order from America (not sure when they will arrive). In the last 3-4 weeks I have lost 2 dwarf gourami, 2 Harlequins, 1 Honey gourami, 1 red honey gourami, 1 black Phantom Tetra, 3 Rosy Tetra and a Cory Catfish. Four weeks ago I had a bad batch of frozen food that killed off 2 of my Bettas and made some others sick but they died within a couple of days so I don't think the food would be the culprit in my community. I was wondering whether it was an internal bacteria causing the issues or whether a parasite. I don't want to medicate wrongly so any advice would be
greatly appreciated.
Many thanks
<Nothing stated jumps out as trouble Sammie. Am given to suggest a massive water change out and use of chemical filtrant (like Chemipure and/or Polyfilter) in your filter flow path. The last may change color in the presence of too much of some chemicals; granting us clues. I don't suspect a pathogen (biol. agent) here; as the mix of species lost doesn't fit such a pattern. Bob Fenner, who will ask Neale to respond independently>
Re: Community (FW) tank issues... Mystery losses      3/3/17
For some reason I cannot get the nitrates to go any lower even with frequent water changes
<Strange... should go down like half w/ half the water changed. Am wondering if your test gear is off?>
and I cannot physically fit in any more plants.
<Ooooh, a plug here for my fave: Watersprite, Ceratopteris... you can just float a bit...>
I had a problem last year where I had used liquid carbon and my nitrates went off the charts and it took two weeks of daily 60-80% water changes to get a reading under 160 ppm. It has been at 40 for months now. I have approximately 20 various tanks at the moment and this is the only tank with this problem.
<Ahh! I would definitely MOVE your remaining livestock elsewhere then; tear this tank down, bleach all and re-set up>
I don't share nets, jugs or siphons. I make a point of my hands being clean and rinsed before putting them in the tank.
<You are wise here>
I have never seen poop that looks like cotton wool before. I am completely stumped at what is happening.
<Mmm; do you have access to a microscope (w/ USB hook up) of a few hundred power? I'd like to see some shots of this poo. Bob Fenner>
Re: Community (FW) tank issues... Mystery losses      3/3/17
I have ordered new substrate and a USB microscope to be delivered tomorrow.
<Yay! I've got one w/in arm's reach right here>
If I gut and bleach the tank what do I do about my filter?
<I'd nuke/bleach it too>
Do I keep it or use half the media from another tank or run a fish in cycle? Also I have hundreds of pounds of plants in my tank. Can they be dipped in potassium permanganate so that they don't go to waste?
<Oh! IF wanting to save them (I would); I'd drain the tank down, refill and just let run w/o fish livestock for a month or longer... Try some test fish after this. Bob Fenner>
Re: Community (FW) tank issues... Mystery losses      3/3/17
Can I just check I have everything clear?
I have an empty 200 litre tank. I can set it up for the fish. I run a spare basket of filter media (in case of emergencies) in my Betta sorority.
<Ah, outstanding>
If I use that on my new filter then the fish from the existing community will have some good bacteria. Is that right?
My 240 litre I will break down and bleach. I will dip the plants in potassium permanganate replant them in the 240 litre in new substrate.
<DO take great care w/ the use of KMnO3; a dangerous oxidizer... Do you have access to Alum? MUCH safer and about as effective>
Can I clean out the filter, add new media and run that in the tank or do I need a whole new filter?
<The filter can be re-used after bleaching, rinsing...>
I will run that tank empty for 4 weeks. Add tester fish. If all is ok move the fish back to the larger tank.
Hopefully then I will have happy, healthy fish. Would you medicate the fish?
<No; I would not. Medication/s at this juncture would just further weaken the fishes>
Many thanks
<As many welcomes. Bob Fenner>
Mysterious FW losses; Neale        3/4/17

I wonder if you can help me. I have something going on in my community tank. It is a 240 litre tank. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40 and Ph 7.6.
A third of the water is changed weekly. For a couple of weeks I have had a few of my hardier fish, Rosy Tetra, Harlequins and Honey Gourami die. I first noticed their poop was odd. It was white and fluffy. Then I noticed
my gourami were starting to look very stocky and then bloated and die.
Their colour towards the back of their body is losing colour and going pale. They have recently been treated with both ESHa 2000 and ESHa Hexamita. Then a few of the fish had Whitespot so treated with ESHa Exit and have seen no signs of Whitespot since the three day course was up. I have medication for internal bacteria due on Saturday and Furan 2,
Tetracycline, Kanaplex and PraziPro on order from America (not sure when they will arrive). In the last 3-4 weeks I have lost 2 dwarf gourami, 2 Harlequins, 1 Honey gourami, 1 red honey gourami, 1 black Phantom Tetra, 3 Rosy Tetra and a Cory Catfish. Four weeks ago I had a bad batch of frozen food that killed off 2 of my Bettas and made some others sick but they died within a couple of days so I don't think the food would be the culprit in my community. I was wondering whether it was an internal bacteria causing the issues or whether a parasite. I don't want to medicate wrongly so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks
<<I would agree with BobF has already said about this. But this was me, from the perspective of someone in the UK for whom antibiotics are not an option, I would do the following: Remove the fish to a bucket, put a towel over it to keep them warm, and then set about deep-cleaning the tank. I'd thoroughly rinse the gravel (in case there's something buried in there causing severe pollution, whether a dead animal or something metallic/toxic) and I'd chuck out anything un-cleanable and inexpensive (such as cheap but usually non-aquatic plants prone to dying/decaying after a few weeks or months). I'd look at the rocks to double check there's no seams of metal visible, and again, remove anything I wasn't 100% sure isn't aquarium-safe (for example coconut shells that have started to go rotten or ornaments of dubious origin, such as seashells). Although I'd handle the biological media reasonably carefully, I'd otherwise deep clean the other
types of media, chucking out any carbon that was in the tank. I'd then rebuild the tank using as close to completely new water as possible, properly dechlorinated (using, I'd suggest, new water conditioner if your existing bottle was more than a year old). I'd acclimatise the fish back to the new tank as if they were fresh from the shop, letting them adapt to the
water chemistry in stages rather than simply dropping them straight back in. I'd not medicate unless anything was positively identified, though I do find eSHa 2000 to be a good general purpose antibacterial that works in many cases where the exact cause cannot be identified. I wouldn't add any new fish until at least a month had passed from the last fatality.
Sometimes "time is the best healer" and letting the tank settle down does the trick. Eventually the disease-causing organism either wipes out everything in the tank, or simply kills off only those species unable to resist it, and either way, you're left with species and specimens somehow able to fight off the infection. As mentioned, wait a while before adding anything new, and personally, I'd avoid buying any species partly or completely wiped out, sticking with those species demonstrably able to tolerate whatever you were dealing with before. Cheers, Neale.>>
re: Mysterious FW losses; Neale        3/4/17

Thank you for your input Neale,
I have just received new soil substrate so will throw away the sand. I don't have non aquatic plants. I learnt the hard way after keep buying plants that died what was aquatic and non aquatic.
<I would not use soil in tanks without plants. You will likely get algae problems galore! Soil substrates contain various nutrients that stimulate plant growth, but stimulate algal growth too! If you have fast-growing plants (Hygrophila for example) these will out-compete the algae given bright light, so this isn't an issue. But if you have no plants, or only
slow growing species (Crypts, Java Fern, Anubias, etc.) then the algae can and probably will take over. Been there, done that! In tanks without plants, you need to minimise substrate so far as practical. Even deep gravel or sand beds can accumulate wastes, slowing "digesting" them into nutrients algae can use. Thin substrates are much easier to keep clean, so water changes will remove any nutrients before the algae has a chance to get started.>
I do have a very large piece of Mopani wood in the tank. Do you think that it may possibly have absorbed toxins that are leeching back into the water?
I will throw away all the wood just incase.
<It is certainly possible for wood to absorb chemicals, though soaking for a few weeks should remove them. An old trick is to place in the cistern of the loo. With each flush, the cistern refills with new water, removing tannins and chemicals from the wood. Doing this for a few months was standard practise when people collected their own wood and cured it at home. Commercial collectors normally do this for bogwood, so we hobbyists don't bother any more. But if you suspect the wood, giving it another soak for a few weeks will do no harm.>
I only have a cave, Mopani wood and many plants in the tank, no ornaments, seashells, rocks or coconut caves etc.
I do have maracyn 2 antibiotics and I have other antibiotics that I am waiting to be delivered. I didn't want to use antibiotics if the fish cannot cope with them but if you hank they might help then I do have them available. I did try ESHa 2000 and although it is excellent it did not help.
<Understood. It isn't an antibiotic, so isn't as good as things like Maracyn once fish become really sick. But it's a very good first choice for EU aquarists when fish start looking off-colour with the start of Finrot or whatever.>
The water conditioner is new. Never lasts more than a couple of months before it is run out.
I will definitely take your advice on acclimatising the fish. I won't restock until I know the tank is healthy again.
With regards to the filter I don't use carbon, I have new sponges and filter wool I can use but should I keep the bio rings or use a spare basket of bio balls that I keep in the filter of my Betta sorority?
<I probably wouldn't put anything from this tank into another, no. Simply placing live media in bowls of room temperature water will keep it alive for days, so there's no need for anything more complex.>
Thank you.
<Welcome. Neale.>

re:      3/5/17
Hi Bob,
The microscope turned up and the fish decided to be modest and be discreet about their toilet habits. This is the best I could manage to get. Hope it helps.
<What magnification is this? Am wondering if some of the white twisty blobs are Nematodes?
Bob Fenner>

re: Less than Mysterious losses       3/6/17
Was just about to re-message you when I saw your message. I was just about to start my tank change over when I noticed two black phantom tetras pooping what looks to be worms. Red and threadlike. I have read up Camallanus worms and this looks very similar to this. Could this be the source of the deaths?
<Yes; could be>
I have tried to read how to treat and get rid of them and the information is very confusing.
As for the Nitrates I have tested my tap water and this is 40ppm Nitrates,
<... VERY disconcerting
. I would NOT personally drink this water. I take it you have some sort of water conditioning system for your potable uses. IF not I would (and do) use a reverse osmosis device for such. ALSO I would take care to reduce this NO3 in your system and NOT change more than a quarter volume out at any given time w/ this source water>
0.25 ammonia
<?! You need to treat your new water before it is used.
I would have you read through SeaChem's site re: http://seachem.com/conditioners.php
and 0 nitrite. I removed a very large piece of Mopani wood from my tank
<Good; saw that you had mentioned its presence to Neale. Likely a source of trouble here
as I have had it for months and with it still leeching tannins in the water I thought it might be possible it is also leeching something nasty. Two hours after the water change I tested the water and the reading was identical to the tap water reading. Retested the water 12 hours later and the nitrates are registering at approximately 30ppm
<Ah good. Bob Fenner>

How to follow up? Re FW Dis; spec.       1/19/17
Hi guys,
<Hey J>
I was reading an article and exchange between Bob and somebody named Cindy for a fish health issue on an Oscar in 2014. I would *so* love to find out what the deal was because my fish seems to have the same parasite, and nobody knows what it really is. It was just my Blue Rams, but now it's my Angels and Boesemanni Rainbows> I have some rare fish in this tank and I'm deathly afraid they'll get this. One Pleco looks like it has Ich, but I think that's the beginning look of this thing. Bob suggested this issue was possible HITH, but it looks like white protuberances from the fish's head.
The other fish look like they have Ich.
<Mmm; near impossible to tell much re such issues w/o sampling and simple examination under a microscope. More often than not (ninety some percent of the time) the real issue here is environmental, NOT pathogenic. The protuberances, perhaps the spots may just be consolidation of (body) mucus... from something/s amiss water quality wise... And the "cure",
redress of the cause of the poor environment>
When my blue rams had it, they would get these raised white things (bigger than Ich). Those would seem to pop, and then the fish would get Popeye and die. :( It was *awful*. I'm sick about my angels now. Evidently this is in my tank and when there is stress, it hits some fish and not others.
<Again... rather than assuming this may be Protozoan, perhaps a "worm" parasite... need to study a bit, learn the aforementioned sampling and 'scope use>
Is there any way to find the person who posted the issues?
<Ahh, no. We don't retain peoples' email addresses>
It was under the
page called FAQs on Freshwater Angelfish Disease/Health 9, at the end. Re: Angelfish with white spots that don't appear to be Ick 2/6/14
<If you can furnish cropped, small size image files, this may be of use. Bob Fenner>

Fish getting sick       6/15/16
Hi. I am new to fish keeping. About 6 weeks ago I bought a 240 litre tank.
<An excellent sized tank.>
The water was tested at my local aquatic shop and he said we were ready to add fish (2 weeks ago). Firstly we bought 3 platies (2 female, 1 male), 6 white cloud minnows, 6 golden minnows and 6 harlequins.
<A nice range of fish, though there are some issues here. The Minnows are subtropicals that don't thrive at high temperatures, doing better around 22C/72F. Platies will do well in water that cool, but the Harlequins less so. The quality of farmed Platies is not high though, and I tend to avoid the more inbred forms (like Coral Platies) in favour of more pick-and-mix coloured ones such as Variatus Platies or even things like Limia nigrofasciata that are similar in size and behaviour but generally much less inbred. Harlequins are, by rights, soft water fish (unlike hard water Platies) but farmed ones are usually reasonably adaptable. Still, they're a species I'd approach with caution if my water was very hard and alkaline.>
The male platy died of fin rot and then one by one over the space of 3-4 days 5 of the harlequins died. I could not see any signs of disease. They lost their colour, struggled to swim and died.
<When a bunch of different species die within a few days, the environment is more often to blame than anything else. This could be nitrite or ammonia in a new tank, but could also be an airborne toxin (such as paint fumes) or overuse of medications and/or other potions.>
The shop tested the water again and it was fine.
<Do need some numbers here. My first bit of advice is buy yourself a nitrite (with an "i", not nitrate with an "a") test kit. That's your best kit for checking water quality. Anything above zero is bad, and indicates too much food or not enough (mature) biological filtration. Basically, if you get nitrite above zero, don't feed the fish, and do a 25-50% water change depending on the seriousness of the situation. Continue doing both these things for each day thereafter until nitrite hits zero consistently, i.e., two or three tests in a row at least an hour or two apart.>
They replaced 6 of the harlequins and we added 1 male Betta and 3 females.
<Bettas generally aren't good choices for community tanks. Their long fins make them very vulnerable to nipping and they're totally unable to swim into water currents, so feeding and gulping air become harder.>
A few days ago 6 Rosy tetra and 6 white finned rosy tetras were added.
<Both are presumably Hyphessobrycon rosaceus; a peaceful species, though Hyphessobrycon can sometimes be nippy if they're bored, so keep an eye on them.>
The fish all seemed fine apart from one of the platies being aggressive to the Bettas.
<See above.>
We added 2 electric blue rams to the tank.
<These really are hopeless fish! Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, adapted to very warm, very soft water. Yours are inbred and likely juiced up with antibiotics on the fish farm as well. Do extremely badly on the whole, and rarely last more than a few months after purchase. There are some good dwarf cichlids out there, Kribs for example, or Bolivian Rams, but standard issue Rams are best avoided.>
The next day we noticed they had a couple of white spots. We went straight out and bought a new tank. We were told if we used some of the biologicals from the existing tank and put them in the filter of the new tank we could use it straight away to quarantine the rams and treat them for white spot.
<Not the best approach. A good quality Whitespot medication will work much better. I'd recommend eSHa EXIT as widely sold in the UK for about £5 a bottle, but that bottle lasts for years because you use very small amounts. Seems to be tolerated well by most fish, and assuming you don't have carbon in the filter, it's very reliable. Note that carbon is pretty useless at the best of times, but sucks up medication, making it positively hazardous when treating fish. In the UK it's quite common for all-in-one aquarium kits to include a packet of carbon or a black carbon sponge, either of which should be removed.>
One has died the other is still with us at the moment. There are no visible signs of illness in the big tank yet one of the minnows and another harlequin died last night and the 2 platies are being more aggressive. The shop tested the water and said it was still ok (I am going to purchase my own test kit).
My question is what do you think might cause the fish to die if the water seems good.
<Water probably isn't good.>
Could they be being bullied, sick or too many fish added too fast?
<The latter. In all honesty, return such fish as you can (Bettas and Rams for a start) and allow the tank to settle. Do not, Do Not, DO NOT add new fish until at least 4 weeks after the last fish death or disease outbreak.
Dead fish imply there's a problem; wait until the problem fixes itself before you think about increasing the load on the aquarium filter.>
I do know that I will not add any fish to the tank without quarantining them first again. None of the fish in the 240 litre tank appear to have white spots but should I be using the treatment on that tank as well. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
re: Fish getting sick      6/17/16

Sorry another quick update. Just noticed white spot on another fish in the main tank. I am hoping it doesn't wipe out all my fish. After the two dying of it I am hoping the other fish are stronger.
<I would medicate as per Whitespot immediately. eSHa EXIT is my medication of choice here, though salt/heat can work very well too. Do see:
Be sure to use aquarium salt or even cooking sea salt, rather than marine aquarium salt.>
One quick question though I have two little musk turtles in another tank with 2 sucking loaches and the 2 platys were moved their yesterday because they kept nipping the other fishes tails.
<Correct; turtles and fish don't mix.>

If they come down with white spot as well will the treatment be harmful to the turtles or will I have to rehouse them for the duration of the treatment.
<Salt/heat will do the turtles no harm. I have no idea about eSHa EXIT. If needs be, rehoming the turtles in something as simple as a large plastic food container can work. As per Red-Ear Sliders, here:
Nothing terribly expensive required, especially during the summer.>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. Neale.>
re: Fish getting sick      6/17/16

Thank you for your advice. I ordered a kit to test the water. I can only buy test strips locally. Should be with me on Friday. I had the water tested again at the shop and was told it was good but they didn't give me the actual details of the results.
<Indeed. Those testing strips have a bit of a mixed reputation among serious aquarists, but honestly, I think they're "good enough" for getting to grips with the big picture. I use them, anyway!>
This afternoon I have noticed a big chunk of Red (my male Bettas) fin is missing. It doesn't look the same as when the platy had fin rot. It is a clean cut. It looks too large to have been bitten off.
<Sucked into filter, struggled, tore away a chunk to escape. Or maybe attacked by one of the other fish. Or whatever. The reality is that Bettas aren't community tank fish.>
He is also rubbing against the sides of the aquarium as if he is itchy.
<May well be; fish react to ammonia and nitrite as an irritant, and to them it feels like an itch, hence the scratching. Similarly, early stages of Whitespot and Velvet can manifest as scratching.>
Is it likely that he has fin rot or is it possible since the tank was exposed to the electric blue ram that has white spot, that the tank has that even though the ram was only in there a few hours?
<Surely, yes. Whitespot parasites can complete their life cycle in a day or two, depending on water temperature. So add a fish with parasites ready to burst (and those cysts may be invisible to us, inside the gill cavities)
and you can have the next batch of infected fish that same day.>
Red responds to my voice really well so I did get a really close up look at him and I cannot see anything visible on him or any of the fish. I did read velvet makes fish itchy. I did shine a torch on him and cannot see anything on him. There are no parasites that are visible to the naked eye on him either. I know I sound paranoid but I really love this little guy and he
has been so peaceful and friendly.
<I would probably get a floating breeding trap and keep him in there for his own good. These fish really don't thrive "let loose" alongside other fish. Imagine letting a Pug run wild with the wolves. That's the deal here.
Bettas are so far bred away from their wild ancestors they can't really cope with reality any more!>
I forgot to mention that the ram was put in the quarantine tank and medication for white spot is already being used. Should I finish the course of treatment I am using on her or change to the medication you recommended?
<Always finish medication, unless of course the fish is dead.>
She is still with us but not sure she is going to make it through another
<Good luck! Neale.>
re: Fish getting sick      6/17/16

Just a quick update. The ram passed away this morning.
<Too bad. But as I say, avoid this species. Rams are like crack cocaine for inexperienced fishkeepers! Much better dwarf cichlids out there. Kribs, for a start.>
I put Red in a large breeding box last night in case another fish was nipping his fins (not ideal I know)
<Possibly, but what I would do.>
and I cannot see any more damage to him today.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Fish getting sick... Toxic env.         6/18/16

I did the test on my water today. pH 7.4, Ammonia 1 ppm,
Nitrite 2 ppm
and Nitrate 80 ppm.
<Very high, probably lethal to cichlids such as Rams.>

I have the white spot medication in the tank so I assume a partial water change would just dilute the medication. It is three more days until I can put a second dose of the medication in the tank. Should I do a water change then or leave it until the full 7 days of treatment is up?
<Your ammonia and nitrite levels are extremely high. You need to do 50% water changes each day, and add the medication *afterwards*. Repeat each day as necessary, adding medicine or not as instructed by the manufacturer.
Once ammonia is zero and nitrite is below 0.5 mg/l, you can scale back to water changes every couple days if you must. Do not feed the fish at all while ammonia or nitrite are not zero.>
Thank you again for your advice.
<Welcome. Do look up "new tank syndrome". That's what you've got. Textbook case. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish getting sick      6/24/16

Hi, We have been using the treatment for white spot for 6 days now and yesterday the fish appear to have more spots than previously. Is this because the treatment is not working or that the parasite was too small to see earlier?
<Hmm... let's clarify. Whitespot medication works only on the free-living stages.
So the white "spots" (= cysts) have to mature and then burst. Only then will the next stage of the life cycle be in the water where the medication can poison them. In other words, you see the spots, add the medicine, the spots get bigger, but then suddenly the fish is cured because the second half of the Whitespot life cycle can't happen. Fish aren't re-infected, and all is well. However, the only caution here is that Whitespot medication can be absorbed by things like carbon in the filter, or might not be dosed/used correctly. In this case the Whitespot just gets worse and worse until the fish dies.>
I have tested the water daily and carried out 50% water changes daily too.
<Do water changes before adding each daily measure of medicine, so the medicine has ~24 hours at least to work. Ideally, you wouldn't change the water at all during the period you're adding medicine. But that's not an option if you have non-zero ammonia or nitrite.>
pH is now 8, Ammonia 0.25 ppm, Nitrite 0.5 ppm, Nitrate colour is between the 20 and 40 colour so I would say approximately 30 ppm. I tested my tap water and the pH is 8 and Ammonia 0.25 ppm. Water conditioner, biological
enhancer and white spot treatment are added every water change. The fish still haven't been fed. Is it safe to carry on not feeding them. We have not lost any more fish. Thanks Sammie
<Fish can go some weeks without food, and will nibble on algae if they're really hungry. Focus on filtration and Whitespot. Then food. Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

For Neale Monks. FW... fish hlth.... hazy tank...        2/4/16
Hello Neale,
I am following up on the issue we discussed in late November-December concerning the fish in my 90g tank that were flashing, simultaneous with hazy water. I followed your suggestion of one week with salt and elevated temperature, and as I reported thereafter, that seemed to help. You advised that some flashing might be observed until such time as the gills
were back to normal, so I have been monitoring this over the past few weeks.
The problem still seems to be present. It is three-fold: the water turns cloudy, such as a bacterial bloom; some of the fish remain in the filter stream; some begin flashing.
The barbs are the worst for flashing, but the loaches have begun again.
The barbs remain in the filter stream, as do the Lemon Tetra, but the Congo Tetra seem unaffected. And the water is hazy. All of this happens simultaneously, so there must be a connection.
You will remember that I have previously treated for gill flukes (Prazi-Pro) and ich/velvet (latest was the salt/heat), and used antibiotics over a period of weeks back in September-October to deal with assumed bacterial gill issues. Major water changes seem to help some, but only for a day. I also tore this tank down completely back in October, replacing all wood, filter media and substrate (thinking something might be present in one or more of these). Nothing has worked.
Should I do another salt treatment? Or something else? I am still puzzled as to how the cloudy water fits into this, if it is a parasite; how could a parasite cause cloudy water?
<Not that I'm aware of. Cloudy water means two, maybe three things. The first is silt. Usually happens when a new substrate is used, often sand. A filter aid (flocculant) alongside filter wool fixes this. The second thing is a diatom bloom. Commoner in marine tanks than freshwater to be honest.
But can happen in freshwater. Associated with strong light, lack of higher plant growth, and usually (but not always) unstable water conditions including water quality of course but also chemistry aspects too. Normally fades away but can often come back weeks later. A UV-filter fixes this quite nicely and quickly, but reviewing the causes and acting accordingly can work too. Finally, there are bacterial blooms. Very much associated with unstable water chemistry and varying water quality this is classically a symptom of new tanks. Difficult to tell apart from diatom blooms but often the situations are different. Again, UV can help, but oftentimes bacterial blooms die back when the filter matures or the tank settles down. Because blooms of either type are triggered by environmental factors that can also stress fish, such as fluctuating pH levels, blooms can be
associated with "flashing" behaviour and other signs of stress without actually causing the fish direct harm. Make sense? So I'd be trying to pin down what might not be stable or optimal in the tank, whether pH, hardness, CO2, O2, temperature, light intensity... potentially even periodic exposure to things like direct sunlight, copper in the tap water. The fact the fish
concentrate in the filter flow may suggest they're less than happy -- wild fish in the wrong situation will often try and migrate away, which is essentially what they thing they're doing swimming into the filter flow.>
I await your advice, with appreciation.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: For Neale Monks (Bob, know anything about antibiotics to treat marine bacterial blooms?)         2/5/16

<<Mmm; generally not a good idea... better to seek out the reason for the bloom and fix (e.g. too much or improper food, inadequate filtration, circulation...) RMF>>
Thanks Neale, very much.
I’ll recap what we worked on previously to address some of the possibles you mention.
Silt. This issue was occurring with the previous fine gravel substrate, which had been in this tank for over four years when I changed it last October. This flashing/cloudy water issue has been around in this one tank for well over a year now, so I wouldn’t put this down to the newer sand. I don’t like liquid clarifiers but as a last resort a while back I did try Seachem’s Clarity which made things worse for days until I did a water change (the fish didn’t seem too happy with this stuff), but a few weeks later API’s Accu-Clear did clear it overnight. Not sure if this means anything. This cloudiness appears overnight, with perfectly clear water one day, and next morning hazy.
<Which sounds a lot like some sort of bloom. Which... hard to say. Do you have access to a decent light microscope? Diatoms are pretty obvious. Bacteria, less so.>
The temperature is extremely stable in this tank; it has an Eheim Pro II with the heating element, and the temp has never varied more than a decimal place or two (it is set on 24.5 C and it varies from 25.4 up to 25.5).
As for pH, on your advice I have buffered it with aragonite, and it has consistently tested 6.4-6.6 since last November. I no longer test every day since doing so for four weeks showed no fluctuation, and periodic tests since and prior to water changes have been the same. And I have two API test kits so the same result with both. GH is near zero, in all my tanks, and always has been for 15+ years here so I would not assume this an issue in only one tank, suddenly.
<I'm a bit freaked by the idea of zero general hardness whilst using aragonite (presumably to raise carbonate hardness). Your pH is also a lot lower than I'd recommended for casual fishkeeping. Of course, it's ideal for soft water fish, but do bear in mind biological filtration is sub-optimal below 7, and said to be close to nonexistent below 6.>
Copper we eliminated by my using the API Tap Water Conditioner, although I do add some in the Flourish Comprehensive Supplement, but my other 6 tanks are all getting the same dose per volume and with the same tap water and water changes. Last autumn I had stopped all plant additives on advice of someone wondering if there was some sort of chemical interaction, for 2 months, with no impact on the problem.
<How did the plants do?>
The tank is planted, and the plants are doing well, including the floating Ceratopteris cornuta that grows like a weed. I thin it every week during the water change (which is 60-70% of the tank now, normally 50%). Good surface movement from the filter should avoid any oxygen/CO2 issues (?). I sent you a photo last December, and you saw no issue. Another oddity. When I rebuilt this tank, I moved the fish into the 70g which had been running for several years with sand and plants. I had moved out the fish into other tanks (part of a plan to rebuild this and another tank) and as it was then empty of fish, I used it for these. Within a couple days, it too clouded up. Which suggested to me that the fish were “carrying” the problem, though again that makes little sense. ??
I don’t know what has not been investigated to date, but I must be missing something.
<You could simply tackle the symptom with a UV steriliser. These work a treat, used correctly. Some people have dosed marine tanks with antibiotics to treat bacterial blooms, so that might be an option as well. Don't know the details myself... Bob? Diatoms tend to settle down as other plants take over, but they can/do flare where something isn't right -- whether directly sunlight, nitrate, phosphate, pH, etc. Hard to pin down given what you've said, but the reality is that bacterial and algal blooms *aren't* normal in stable aquaria. Outside of newly set-up tanks, bacterial blooms simply don't happen in well-run tanks, only ones with serious (usually dead fish-level) problems. Diatoms usually bloom where there's some combination of excess light and excess nitrate, so again, usually not a problem in a healthy tank. One last cause is chemical interactions, typically those following the use of pH buffers, where some type of insoluble chemical (like a precipitate) has been produced, and that floats around the tank because it's too small to settle out. Now, the fact you're using a carbonate hardness buffer but have very acidic conditions surely indicates there's A LOT of chemical reaction going on between acids and bases, so I'd be tempted to phase out the aragonite in favour of a commercial Discus Buffer pitched at the same pH, 6.5, as you've got now. It might well be that the aragonite approach, for some reason, isn't working here, and the Discus Buffer approach will work better. For a start, I'm not sure I'd have recommended using aragonite to maintain a pH below 7; if I did, that was remiss of me. Carbonate hardness is useful in tanks above pH 7, and below pH 7, it's more logical to maintain a low carbonate hardness (say, 1-2 degrees KH) but using a commercial buffer to steady the pH between water changes. Make sense? Cheers, Neale.>
Re: For Neale Monks (Bob, know anything about antibiotics to treat marine bacterial blooms?)         2/5/16

Thanks again Neale. I am about to head out the door, so this will not be detailed but just wanted to respond to a couple things quickly. Will digest this fully tomorrow.
You did not suggest aragonite. You were wondering if the pH fluctuated. I had said that it has been running around 6.2 to 6.6 in this tank for months, and you said that may or may not be reliable, so I used the aragonite (which I have done some time back, also with dolomite which was better) and it has remained consistent at 6.4 to 6.6, which I am taking to mean the pH is steady and thus not fluctuating causing the problem.
<Indeed; this sort of pH is definitely "within the range" you'd expect in an aquarium. Aragonite, being CaCO3, will primarily affect carbonate hardness.>
I was using Seachem’s Equilibrium for a couple years, to add more hard mineral for the plants, and the GH then was around 6 to 7 dGH. The fish didn’t seem to have any issues. I only stopped this on the advice of another person, re the possible interaction of additives. The flashing and cloudiness was an issue then, for several months, and has not changed since I stopped the Equilibrium last September.
On the plant response to fewer or no additives, there was a noticeable decline, but not as much as I would have expected. I tested this out in the other tanks too, and have since eliminated the Equilibrium in all tanks, and reduced the liquid fertilizers or re-jigged them. I have no plant issues that bother me. I just want to get whatever is in this tank resolved. I just cannot figure out why it is only this tank, or more exactly, only this group of fish, that are having this issue. I have several smaller tanks with a pH around 5, or lower perhaps, can’t measure below 5, and zero GH/KH, and the fish are thriving, spawning all over the place. I’m raising pygmy Corys and Farlowella vittata, and fry of several species from pencils to tetras to Corys appear regularly, those that survive egg predation anyway, or get trapped in the canister filter and are rescued.
<All sounds great!>
More later, must dash. B.
<Cheers, Neale.>
For Neale Monks (and Bob Fenner)      2/6/15

Neale (and Bob, since you were brought into this discussion by Neale):
[Neale]: You could simply tackle the symptom with a UV steriliser. These work a treat, used correctly. Some people have dosed marine tanks with antibiotics to treat bacterial blooms, so that might be an option as well. Don't know the details myself... Bob?
<I prev. responded to this. Would NOT use anti-microbials...>
I could buy a UV unit,....
<UV use is covered completely on WWM. Are you able to use the search tool or indices? B>

Contaminated tank & other issues      12/27/15
Hi Neal, thanks for getting back. Seems like the Prazi is helping she's swimming around a lot more. I think she may have Flukes. She never scratched, but the would go to the surface for air, hiding in the corner with clamped fins and lethargy.
<Well, let's hope it helps.>
Another problem. She's had this small clear bump located above her top lip for a while now. Then a white spot developed on her bottom lip. When I looked at her the last couple days her lips seemed off, but I couldn't really make out what it was. Well today I was able to see. It looks like her lips on one side of her mouth are gone. The lips on the other side protrude out, but the other side cave in. I had a water quality issue in the surface of the water had a layer of fine debris, but I was doing weekly water changes so I didn't understand why it would not go away. I added different pads and that helped, but did not fix. Anyway the weekend I did a 90% water change and that finally fixed it and decided to do water changes twice per week. maybe she got mouth rot from the water.
<Mouth Fungus, if that's what you're talking about, is a bacterial infection, despite its name. Other aquarists called it Columnaris, which may help when you're reading online/in books. Treating as per Finrot will normally do the trick, but it's a stubborn disease that may need two or three courses of the medications to work.>
I'm already treating with Prazi now. I read I need an antibiotic and/or something for fungus?
<See above; not a fungus.>
I still have that Metronidazole. Maybe I can put it in the food? I also read about Kanaplex which I would have to order. I noticed that her mouth is kind of twisted to one side. She wasn't as enthusiastic about eating this morning either. What ever meds I use I don't want to kill my cycle because I'm treating with Prazi. I also read that flukes can start mouth rot. I don't want to euthanize this fish, my son would be crushed. Please help.
<Metronidazole can be used alongside Prazi, and is even better if used alongside the antibiotic of your choice.>
Thanks Again.
<Welcome, Neale.>
Re: Contaminated Tank?  Duckweed      12/16/15

Hi Neale, looks like the duckweed took care of it! I read it does wonders for constipation and I agree! I seen the poop go from mucus white to mucus light green to normal in less than 24hours!
<Ah, good news!>
Now I just have to figure out how to keep a supply going. I put in a small breeder box in the tank and plan to let that grow out and then add a little duckweed at a time to the main tank.
<Should work. Duckweed is/can be a pest. It grows crazy fast!>
I don't want to run a second tank for plants. How do other people keep the supply going?
<For most folks, removing Duckweed faster than it grows is the challenge.
Duckweed can be grown on a windowsill though. It is extremely adaptable, even paper cups will do (standard practical in UK high schools) provided it gets good sunshine and doesn't get chilled. A large glass bowl, jar or pitcher might be more practical than paper cups though. Grows outdoors very quickly as well, though not during cold winters.>
I read so many times that the goldfish out compete the plants. Like it's not possible to keep the supply of plants in with the fish. In addition, I went by the local fish store and they discouraged me from having live plants available as a food source in the tank all the time. The clerk said the water quality would be bad. You agree?
<Nope. Plants, assuming they're alive, are good for water quality.>
I have the one small fish in 20 gal.
Thanks again
<Sounds like you're doing all the right things. Keep at it! Cheers, Neale.>

Disease ID     11/13/15
Thoughts? Furunculosis?
<Very bad.... perhaps Viral, Bacterial, maybe Protozoan-Sporidean.... not curable, and can be transferred to other fishes. DO NOT ADD other fishes, NOR move any water from this system to another. RESTRICT ANY GEAR used here to this tank alone
(nets, what have you). If it were me, mine, I would humanely euthanize these fishes, freeze in a bag and set out in the dust bin on trash day.
Sterilize the system, gear, decor with ten percent chlorine bleach and allow to air dry for a few weeks.
Bob Fenner>

Disease ID      /Neale      11/14/15
Thoughts? Furunculosis?
<This is, of course, a description of the symptoms rather than a single disease with a single cure. For sure you're looking at some pretty nasty boils and blisters. It's hard to say whether these are signs of a Mycobacterium infection or something else. Examination of some of the tissue under a microscope is surely necessary for such identification.
Failing that, I'd hope it wasn't viral, and treat as per Finrot, but using the strongest, most effective course of antibacterial or antibiotics at your disposal. Probably a mix of two or more. Furanace alongside Metronidazole would be one start (these are both highly effective antimicrobials rather than strictly speaking antibiotics) but the old Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 combo might be worth a shot. I'd also be looking to see if physical damage is the triggering factor -- I've seen Plecs and mucous-rasping species such as Otocinclus and Anostomus cause this sort of damage. Review, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Sterbai Corydoras ((Corydoras sterbai) illness /RMF        9/2/15
<Four megs of uncropped pix files...>
Crap the email wasn't supposed to be sent yet, sorry!
Hello, I am writing to you today because one of my Corydoras Sterbai is ill. It looks like the front part of his face is missing or has been eaten off but the day before or possibly 2 days ago it looked like that area was a little white.
<Just two days?!>

I had another Corydoras Sterbai pass away from what I think is the same thing about a month ago. This Corydoras Sterbai does seem a little more sluggish then the others, of which there are 4 left, but he is still eating and swimming around.
As for tank mates it started as a cherry shrimp colony with common red and
blue Ramshorn snails,
<These won't hurt fishes>
I would estimate somewhere in the realm of 40 shrimp of various ages at this point and same with snails. I did recently get 2 electric blue rams about 2 weeks ago. So I don't think it was anything I introduced with the Electric blue rams.
<Perhaps just the Rams themselves.... are biting this Cory>
The tank is 20 gallons has been running for around 3 months now if not longer. I have 2 sponge filters and an AC 30 filter, all that have been running for the entire time the tank has been running. I have a large colony of Java moss as well as some small Marimo moss balls with several large stems of Giant Hygrophila. I don't use any fertilizers on the plants as they seem to be doing fine on their own.
For food I feed frozen mysis shrimp for the Corydoras Sterbai and the Electric Blue Rams, as well as Nutrafin Max sinking pellets with krill and shrimp meal. I am very careful with over feeding and try to make sure even the pellets are gone inside of an hour.
The water parameters as of 1 hour ago is GH 60 , KH 60 , PH 7.5 , Nitrites 0 , Nitrates 60,
<NO3 too high by three times. See/READ on WWM re>

I did a water change today, 16 litres exactly were removed and added, the new parameters are as follows,
New test shows GH 60, KH 60, PH 7.5, a tad lower but still showing up as around 7.5 , Nitrites 0, Nitrates 40.
<Still too high>
I do a water change every week
at the same amount and since I put the Rams in the tank I started doing a Monday, Thursday water change schedule
because I have read that they are sensitive to higher Nitrate levels then other fish. I think this is all the information that I can think of to include that would make a difference. I wish I had a better camera for pictures but this was the best that I could get of him.
<I see.... Well; pathogenic disease doesn't operate so quickly as to cause  the pitting evident; otherwise I might speculate that you have a Hexamita issue.... I'd be separating the Rams from the Cats here. Bob Fenner>

Sterbai Corydoras ((Corydoras sterbai) illness /Neale         9/2/15
Hello, I am writing to you today because one of my Corydoras Sterbai is ill. It looks like the front part of his face is missing or has been eaten off but the day before or possibly 2 days ago it looked like that area was a little white. I had another Corydoras Sterbai pass away from what I think is the same thing about a month ago. This Corydoras Sterbai does seem a
little more sluggish then the others, of which there are 4 left, but he is still eating and swimming around.
<Looks as if there's been some sort of infection of the sensory pores around the face. What's often called Hole In The Head disease (HITH). If a fish suffers trauma, like from a fight, there's usually some bleeding and dead tissue, and the way the damage is done it's pretty obvious the fish has been whacked or bitten. HITH tends to look different. It starts off
with the pores getting ever so slightly bigger, so they become more visible than before. Because the pores are arranged in neat rows, the widening pores make distinct trails that arc around the face. Sometimes they 'weep' off-white material. Over time they get bigger, fuse together, and you're left with a much larger ulcer. So, if this is trauma, the wound would have come out of nowhere. But if we're looking at HITH or some other infection of the sensory pores, then it'll have taken weeks to get to this point.>
As for tank mates it started as a cherry shrimp colony with common red and blue Ramshorn snails, I would estimate somewhere in the realm of 40 shrimp of various ages at this point and same with snails. I did recently get 2 electric blue rams about 2 weeks ago. So I don't think it was anything I introduced with the Electric blue rams.
<Do not trust Ram Cichlids with Corydoras. Rams are confirmed molesters of these catfish, from nipping through to biting off their eyes. A lot depends on the size of the tank, but a 20 gallon tank sounds (to me anyway) too
small for both species to get along.>
The tank is 20 gallons has been running for around 3 months now if not longer. I have 2 sponge filters and an AC 30 filter, all that have been running for the entire time the tank has been running. I have a large colony of Java moss as well as some small Marimo moss balls with several large stems of Giant Hygrophila. I don't use any fertilizers on the plants as they seem to be doing fine on their own.
For food I feed frozen mysis shrimp for the Corydoras Sterbai and the Electric Blue Rams, as well as Nutrafin Max sinking pellets with krill and shrimp meal. I am very careful with over feeding and try to make sure even the pellets are gone inside of an hour.
The water parameters as of 1 hour ago is GH 60 , KH 60 , PH 7.5 , Nitrites 0 , Nitrates 60,
I did a water change today, 16 litres exactly were removed and added, the new parameters are as follows,
New test shows GH 60, KH 60, PH 7.5, a tad lower but still showing up as around 7.5 , Nitrites 0, Nitrates 40.
I do a water change every week at the same amount and since I put the Rams in the tank I started doing a Monday, Thursday water change schedule because I have read that they are sensitive to higher Nitrate levels then other fish. I think this is all the information that I can think of to include that would make a difference. I wish I had a better camera for
pictures but this was the best that I could get of him.
<Trauma best treated as per Finrot. HITH best treated with Metronidazole.
Perhaps use Metronidazole alongside an antibiotic just in case. Regardless, don't forget to remove carbon during treatment. Cheers, Neale.>

Community tank; hlth. concern     8/30/15
2 days ago I inherited a friends 75 gal with 2 Bala sharks (under 5 inches), 3 clown loaches( under 2 inches), 2 red fin rainbow sharks ( under 2 inches), 5 long fin zebra danios (about an inch each), and 2 Madagascan rainbow fish.
<Rainbows are social, shoaling species>
He brought the water they have been in for about a month, with the same substrate and filters. So its not quite a new tank. It was not cleaned, just taken apart, brought over and put back together. The water test shows ammonia 0, nitrate and nitrite 0,
<Zero nitrate? Unusual>
pH 7.1, hardness 100(closest), alkalinity 130. Water temp at 75°F. Waterfall filtration system handles up to 100 gal and is set at a med flow rate. Has 2 aeration stones.
This morning a clown loach, and both Madagascan rainbow fish died. The loach was super skinny, like it was not eating. The rainbow fish seemed fine last night. Early the rainbows seemed listless and not swimming.
Within 30 min of noticing they were both dead. Watching the other fish there seems to be no issues, no flashing, bloated bellies, spots of any color, no extra slime, poops all look normal.
<Something awry environmentally here... perhaps transient ammonia>
The fish in this tank are fed flake, crisps and shrimp pellets with occasional cucumber and zucchini.
I am stumped as to what happened. Any ideas?
<Can only guess; direct you to read HERE: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdistrbshtart.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
re: Community tank       8/31/15

Thanks. I re tested the tank this morn. The only difference was nitrate was 20.
<Ahh; that's more like it>
I probably messed up the first test. Its the first time I used anything other than strips.
<See WWM re... strips are neither accurate nor precise>
I did a lot if digging last night and found what probably happened to the clown loach. Wasting disease?
<No.... reading>
It's the only thing that fits. The remaining 2 clown loaches seem skinny too.. One is in bad shape, hanging at the tip of tank with mouth open. He's not gasping, just skimming just under the surface. The other came out to eat the shrimp I ran out to buy at 1 am..
I'm looking at the only picture of the rainbows and on one is a little white spot with what looks like slime trailing off it. I asked my friend about when he set everyone up in the tank. The rainbows were bought 2 days before he brought the tank over. (Tank was against his lease agreement and landlord found out..) He's had all the other fish about a month, he cycled
the tank empty for 3 weeks before adding any fish.(I think 4 weeks with a feeder fish would have been better) I'm thinking the rainbows were sick before he bought them. Should I call the store and let them know about possible illness?
<You should read. BobF>
re: Community tank       8/31/15

Hullo again, I'm starting to feel like a pest! ;) update on the sick clown loach. I went to storage and dug out my 20 gal and heater used the water from the main tank, I used one of the filter deals from main tank in the "new" system.
I'm trying to recreate the main tank as much as possible. I don't have time to cycle this "sick" tank. I picked up some parasite/de wormer.. Quite hard to find. I had to drive over an hour to get to the only closest place that has both Levamisole hydrochloride AND Metronidazole. I have now placed both clown loaches in the "sick" tank and have medicated. I did remove the carbon.. Both loaches have eaten, but the poor guy with the open mouth is struggling. His mouth is open and never closes.
<Not good>
I have searched, read through link after link here, and talked to the guy at the specialty fish store. He didn't have a clue. As I netted him(the fish) to move him into the "sick tank" I checked carefully to see if something was lodged in his jaw, I just can't tell. These guys are not even 2 inches long. He did manage to eat a tiny bit of cucumber. I'm glad I decided to treat both as the "healthy" guy is skinner that I originally thought. He's eating well, but his poop is not looking right. Its thin, whitish and clear. Hopefully this treatment will work. My hubby will be a little ticked at the money spent today on this fish if they both die. Any other tips, links, info would be extremely welcome. Thank you for your time and expertise!
<The treatment, hope and time going by. BobF>
re: Community tank       8/31/15

Second update.. Regarding the Madagascan rainbows. My friend took them back to the store he bought them from. Turns out the whole lot of freshwater tropicals are under quarantine and no longer for sale.
The store refunded the money, but the sales guy refused to say what they were treating for. My friend said it looked like it could possibly be ICH but didn't have much chance to get a good look. I thought places like Petco or PetSmart had a setup that kept all the tanks clean from wide spread disease?
<No; assuredly not. I was not a, but the aquatics buyer for PetCo 91-94... talked them into (finally) putting up their own livestock distribution (in DC100, San Diego), but they (foolishly) gave this up.... the mass-merchandisers have HUGE health issues with their aquatics departments.>
I'm not sure about getting fish there in the future. Would it be better to order online and do next day air?
<Depends on from where. LiveAquaria (now; yes; owned by PetCo) is a consistent source for quality livestock>
And how likely am I to receive a sick fish?
<Some chance always>
Like I said in previous emails, I'm incredibly new to the warm water fishes. I am darn near an expert in Koi and Goldfish! I've had my own 55 gal with warm water fish for about a month, only days with the bigger 75 gal. Its been quite a challenge to learn about all these fish is such a short amount of time.
<Yes; tis so. I've worked in the field; been a content provider as well... for more than half a century; still learning>
Last question, if I get a larger tank, say a 150 gal could I put the Bala sharks, clown loaches and angels together?
<Mmm; yes; possible>
That's a total of 8 fish, all if which are currently under 4 inches.. I would like to have maybe 2 more of each. (Down the road a bit)
Thanks again;
<Thank goodness for your clear, curious, discerning mind. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

freshwater fish problem?       8/24/15
I'm an aquaponics enthusiast, who does not eat her fish, I love my fish as they are providing wonderful meals for us!
<How do they provide meals if you don't eat them...? You mean they produce ammonia that the plants absorb to grow...? Neat!>
I have raised bluegill from 3/4" minnows to the 5" one I'm having a concern with. A week ago, I went down and checked their 3, 250 gallon tanks,
<3 different 250 gallon tanks, or multiple 3,250 gallon tanks? I'd love one of the latter!>
one was laying on his side. I was fearful he was dead, but when I netted him, he was strong and had an eye injury.
<If just the one eye, usually physical trauma, either fighting or misadventure (swam into the walls of the tank, jumped against the hood, that sort of thing). Do review possible reasons for either. Bluegills are mildly territorial, becoming more so when spawning, so younger or weaker fish can be damaged either by being attacked or by trying to swim away in a hurry and colliding with something.>
Not sure of the cause, I quarantined, and treated the eye injury . . . and started a desperate search for help. It's a week and 2 days now, his eye is healing but he is still a bit "sideways."
<Fish have a complex system of balance different to ours. Partly they orient themselves with bright light above them. Partly they orient themselves with the pull of gravity. If one or other sense is "off" somehow, they'll try and find a happy medium. For example, in labs if you shine the light from the side rather than above, the fish will swim leaning over, trying to compromise what their gravity sense is telling them with what their eyes are telling them. So, you could imagine that if a fish has damaged one or both eyes, its sense of "up" and "down" might not be exactly right. If this fish is otherwise healthy, feeding normally but simply leans over to one side, I'd do nothing but wait and see what happens, in the full expectation it'll make a recovery.>
No alcohol causing this, I am positive! ;)
I did a "force feed" of a couple of mashed peas, using a syringe, hoping that he had some undigested food causing his problem, and it would work to loosen things up. I had read where this can happen and it can affect the swim bladder if not dealt with.
<The swim bladder is almost never the issue, it's simply an idea aquarists throw around whenever a fish isn't swimming normally. Constipation is a common problem in aquarium fish, and fixed using a combination of Epsom Salt and high fibre foods (peas and cheap aquarium plants are ideal for herbivores and omnivores, but brine shrimps and daphnia work well for predators). Constipation causes problems by changing the centre of mass in the fish, so that the swim bladder is no longer in the right position to ensure optimal poise. In fact many fish are inherently unstable so far as buoyancy is concerned: they only stay the right way up by making tiny movements with their fins all the time. This approach sounds like hard work but actually allows them to execute tight turns much more easily than if they were perfectly stable (like a hot air balloon) and had bodies that naturally tended to resist changes in angle or direction. So, to cut a long story short, when a fish is sick or constipated or even physically damaged, buoyancy can be one of the first things to go wrong because it's now a lot harder for the fish to maintain all those micro-movements that kept it stable. Hence "swim bladder disease" is more of a set of symptoms than an
actual disease.>
I've kept him away from the other fish, but have him well aerated, and separately filtered. The water temp is 84 degrees F. The other fish are loving the warm weather and producing lots of great vegetables for us.
At this time I have him "upright," as he has propped himself between the filter and the side of his quarantine shelter.
<Unlike lower fish groups (tetras, carps, etc.) which gulp air to fill their swim bladders (or burp out excess air), bluegills and other advanced fish groups have to pump up their swim bladders using gas secreted from the blood. It's fascinating stuff, but for now, the key thing to understand is that getting the buoyancy right takes time.>
Any, and I mean ANY ideas? I really don't want to lose him.
<Would treat as per constipation (harmless to healthy fish) and review social behaviour in the tank, but otherwise would merely let things be for now. Chances are that if this fish is otherwise healthy he'll recover in time. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: freshwater fish problem?       8/25/15

Thank you. Very helpful!
<You're welcome. Neale.>

My fish has a lump type thing on his gill       2/13/15
My fish has a lump type thing on one of his gills it's just a little lighter than he is and I'm worried so I read up on the lymphocytic thing and it said it was a rough lump and the one on my fish is smooth and I was watching it then this lump thing just pop up in really worried
<Without a photo hard to say anything specific. Your analysis is reasonable, though cysts and tumours can develop on the gill covers, and these might not be granular like the typical Lymphocystis. So as always, review water quality, water chemistry, frequency of water changes, diet, and the social behaviour of your fish. Most of these cyst-like problems are gradual responses to environmental stress rather than bad luck, so assume something is amiss, review, and act accordingly.
Cheers, Neale.>

Tank fright... Schreckstoff!        1/16/15
I'm going to try to attach a video or two and some pictures
<None attached here>
I'd like you to look at if you have time
<... is there a period here?>
I added API root cabs
10 of them to my 29 gallon tank for days ago my water will not clear up as well as my Fisher
<I'll presume you're a non-native speaker>
now losing their color and if you see in the video where I'm feeding them they don't usually act like that when they're feeding something's really wrong
<Successive/daily water changes... a good quarter per day with saved tap water>

and I don't know what any advice that you can give me would be helpful I did a 10 percent water change last night added water conditioner. I did go buy a bottle of Poland Spring Water
<What is this?>
someone told me to take more water out and put Poland Spring Water and not add conditioner I have 5 fish I have
several live plants I don't know what they are I feed them touch of flakes and I'm scared and it seems like my Barbs are acting right and they're losing their color and so is one of my touch your eyes actually all the fish don't seem to be acting right. I'm crying because I'm afraid I'm going to lose them I guess I just don't understand how to take care of a tank.
I've done a bunch of reading and studying but it seems like whatever I'm trying isn't working and I feel like a complete failure and I don't want to kill these fish. I'm not trying to be all dramatic and stuff but this feels it to me. Please see attachments.
<Nothing attached... can you just send the YouTube URL?>
Gmail won't let me add videos to this attachment do you know how I can get videos to you? If I have to upload these videos to YouTube and wait for the links it could be hours before you tube processes that
<Do so if you think it will help. In the meanwhile, gravel vacuuming and daily percentage water change outs. Bob Fenner>
re: Tank fright. More EMO nonsense; rdg.

Api root tabs. Spelling errors. I think a video attached.
11515 Feeding time.mp4
<Nope. Just READ on WWM re FW water issues. BobF>

Community fish disease problems; iatrogenic     1/13/15
I have a well planted 65 gal community tank. Over the 4 years or so it has been running it has had various diseases come and go, so even the healthy looking fish in there probably carry residual parasite or disease loads.
With the plants and driftwood in there it is almost impossible to net fish out.
Over time I have used various medications in the tank to treat diseases with varying but not lasting improvement (KanaPlex, metrnizadol, ParaGuard, PolyGuard, Prazi-pro). It is currently houses cherry barbs, hengle's Rasboras, Nerite snails (all in there for 3+ years), a platy, amano shrimp, a Siamese algae eater, bandit Cory cats, honey gourami, kulli loaches, Bolivian rams.
It its early days I had cherry barbs and Otto cats spawning after most of water changes. The tank seems to have acquired some sort of disease that none of the above mentioned medications has been able to clear out.
<... likely just something environmental>
Prazi-pro over several doses seemed to help a bit, but only for a short time.
<Trouble w/ continuous medicating...>

New fish seem to do well for awhile, then get sick and waste away quickly. Bottom feeders and south American dwarf cichlids have died quicker than most.
<A good clue>
Fish that make it a few weeks tend to last awhile. I suspect that it is because these individuals are able to resist whatever
disease is in there to remain alive but are still carriers. Symptoms include flashing, rubbing on plants, wood etc., swimming head down, some almost completely vertical.
Ammonia and nitrite are 0, nitrate is 10 to 15 with a API test kit.
<Get better kits>
Suspecting nematodes
<Nah; are more host specific>
despite Prazi-pro recently being added I took out a male cherry barb that was on his way to dying with PopEye on both sides

and did a crude necropsy with poor hands, improper tools and no microscope.
There were no obvious parasites but I did find a number of small amber circular objects inside that I would have thought looked like eggs if it had been a female fish.
I am considering trying Levamisole but would prefer to have some confirmation on if it is likely to work before I go ahead. Would those amber "eggs" possibly be nematode eggs?
<Nope; Nematode eggs are definitive. Just see Wiki>
What would you recommend for a course of treatment?
<A tear down and re-set up... adding more aeration, filtration... Changing part of the water, gravel vacuuming weekly>
I would like to treat for internal and external diseases?
<Not of use>

What could cause the symptoms I have listed but not be eliminated by Prazi-pro, ParaGuard and the other medications I have listed?
Thanks, Jeff
<Time to quit the western hypochondria Jeff. Read on! Bob Fenner>
Community fish disease problems (RMF, any other ideas?)    /Neale's go       1/14/15

<Hello Jeffrey,>
I have a well planted 65 gal community tank. Over the 4 years or so it has been running it has had various diseases come and go, so even the healthy looking fish in there probably carry residual parasite or disease loads.
With the plants and driftwood in there it is almost impossible to net fish out.
Over time I have used various medications in the tank to treat diseases with varying but not lasting improvement (KanaPlex, metrnizadol, ParaGuard, PolyGuard, Prazi-pro). It is currently houses cherry barbs, hengle's Rasboras, Nerite snails (all in there for 3+ years), a platy, amano shrimp, a Siamese algae eater, bandit Cory cats, honey gourami, kulli loaches, Bolivian rams.
<Nice mix.>
It its early days I had cherry barbs and Otto cats spawning after most of water changes. The tank seems to have acquired some sort of disease that none of the above mentioned medications has been able to clear out.
Prazi-pro over several doses seemed to help a bit, but only for a short time. New fish seem to do well for awhile, then get sick and waste away quickly. Bottom feeders and south American dwarf cichlids have died quicker than most. Fish that make it a few weeks tend to last awhile. I suspect that it is because these individuals are able to resist whatever disease is in there to remain alive but are still carriers. Symptoms include flashing, rubbing on plants, wood etc., swimming head down, some almost completely vertical.
Ammonia and nitrite are 0, nitrate is 10 to 15 with a API test kit.
Suspecting nematodes despite Prazi-pro recently being added I took out a male cherry barb that was on his way to dying with PopEye on both sides and did a crude necropsy with poor hands, improper tools and no microscope.
There were no obvious parasites but I did find a number of small amber circular objects inside that I would have thought looked like eggs if it had been a female fish.
<Quite so.>
I am considering trying Levamisole but would prefer to have some confirmation on if it is likely to work before I go ahead. Would those amber "eggs" possibly be nematode eggs?
<Unlikely, but impossible to say on that description alone. Fish eggs will probably be larger than any common worm eggs, but there may be exceptions.>
What would you recommend for a course of treatment?
<Doing the Prazi-Pro thing might be worthwhile but it's not the best anti-helminth and in any case I'm not sold on the idea that this is a worm problem. Wasting is more often related to bacterial infections, such as Mycobacteriosis. These are, in turn, usually linked to environmental conditions. Review not just ammonia and nitrate, but stocking density, water change frequency, and water circulation (which is related to oxygenation). Fish tanks often have a "carrying capacity" and fish "die
back" to that level. Why? I think oxygen stress is often the key limiting factor. Many filters don't move water at the bottom of the tank very well, and it's the fish at the bottom, like catfish and cichlids, that suffer the most. Over time they become vulnerable to bacterial infections latent in all tanks. Other signs include blue-green algae (which loves still pockets of water) and benthic snails (such as Melanoides) spending time on the glass during the day rather than in the sediment. Review, and act accordingly.>
I would like to treat for internal and external diseases? What could cause the symptoms I have listed but not be eliminated by Prazi-pro, ParaGuard and the other medications I have listed?
Thanks, Jeff
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Community fish disease problems (RMF, any other ideas?)    1/15/15

Hi Bob and Neale,
Thanks for replying. I have recently switched out all of the original EcoComplete gravel and replaced it with Fluorite black sand. (I did not realize how sharp it was until digging out some with my hand. I can see how that could hurt Cory barbels)
<Indeed. It's a glass production byproduct, I believe. Excellent for plants and midwater fish, but not my first choice for burrowing/digging fish.>
The reason I took it out though was mainly on the theory that it trapped too much organic material in its rough surface and my bottom feeders were finding pockets of rotting food etc while nosing around in it (cories and kuhli loaches added before never lasted long). I am hoping the sand will stay cleaner so I can keep cories etc. I have 5 metae (bandit) cories in there now that seem ok after losing a few when I first put them in. They seem to like the sand anyway.
<Quite so: they love it.>
I have always done water changes at least once or twice a week and have an AquaClear 50 and 70 running on the tank. I put in a Koralia Circulation pump, but the thinned out plants don't have any major dead spots yet. So the tank Is generally pretty clean. If it is mycobacteriosis or something similar what could I use to treat that?
<Nothing at all. Incurable. The good news though is that healthy fish resist it. Mycobacteria infections seem very much the result of stress, varying from improper pH for very choosy soft water fish through to overstocking, poor diet, and all the usual hazards we see in community tanks.>
Tearing down the tank disinfecting everything and restarting it isn't really feasible.
<And pointless. Mycobacteria are probably present in all tanks, much like Finrot bacteria.>
Why do you suggest that the API test kits are not good enough? What brand do you suggest? The API nitrate test does show me a an obvious difference between before and after water changes.
<I'm going to assume this is Bob's comment not mine. Generally I find "dip strip" test kits are very cheap and probably adequate for freshwater tanks though not especially accurate. Traditional liquid test kits are probably more accurate but also more fiddly and expensive because you need to buy more than one package. I'd sooner people bought rough-and-ready test kits they used that bought accurate ones they never bothered using!>
I just put in 6 Bolivian rams and 3 kuhli loaches less than 2 weeks ago and despite looking healthy when they went in have lost 5 of the rams.
They did not seem to be fighting and often swam around together in a group.
The dead ones had clamped fins and one or two were shimmying near the bottom for a day or two near the bottom before dying. I treated the tank with Prazi-pro after losing the first ram but still lost 3 more.
<Dwarf Cichlids are prone to Hexamita and HLLE/HITH type infections, and I'd consider these before anything else if you can rule out the obvious.>
The two remaining rams looked healthy, active with good colour but are difficult to get to eat even frozen bloodworms or daphnia. One had some stringy white feces yesterday but looked otherwise ok this morning but was dead by this evening with no obvious signs why. I did a quick necropsy but found nothing obvious, just a bit skinny. There was a black thread sized
thing in the intestinal area but without a microscope I could not tell if it was an organism or just a hair or something else.
<Indeed. Unless you're a microbiologist, or have a decent fish health book to hand, examining dead fish is fairly pointless.>
The cherry barbs all look terrible, hanging from 45 to 90 degrees head down. Except if I try to net one. Then they swim around like crazy.
<Which does sound like environmental stress. This "head down" thing is a classic reaction of Barbs to non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels. Possibly also rapid pH changes too. Quick test: do a 50% water change, keeping pH and hardness steady. If the fish perk up, then something was in the water, and dollars-to-donuts we're looking at a filtration and/or pH stability
Now they have some ich showing but I think that is more a result of the stress of what is really killing fish because I have never had ich in that tank and none of dead fish had any sign of ick.
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Community fish disease problems (RMF, any other ideas?)    1/15/15

I use the API Master test kit, test tubes and liquid drops, not test strips, so hopefully it is accurate enough.
Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5 to 15
<Sounds fine.>
Last water change was about 40% and didn't fix the barbs. Possible that too many big water changes close together changed conditions too rapidly for fish even though the conditions were technically made better.
<Possibly, but provided pH and hardness and temperature are pretty close, you can change 100% of the water and the fish should be fine! Think about a fish in a river -- it is constantly experiencing small changes in the water around it. That's the "perfect" situation for your fish. In the aquarium that isn't practical, so we do periodic water changes, but the only reason
to make them small is to minimise exposure to rapid changes in pH, hardness or temperature. But if you could keep such changes minimally small, you can change as much as you want. Years ago TFH did an experiment replacing 90%
of the water in an Oscar aquarium on a daily basis. They overstocked the tank substantially. You know what? The fish thrived. This is precisely what Discus keepers and breeders do anyway. It's just casual hobbyists don't check the pH, hardness or temperature of new water, so we recommend smallish changes, 25% a week, so any fluctuations are kept small.>
Could be Hexamita as far as the rams at least, no appetite, stringy feces, lethargic.
Do you have a preferred med for this? The ram isn't eating, so medicated food won't work.
<Only one medication works. Read here:
Pretty much everything else available to aquarists is worthless against Hexamita, though prevention does seem to be simpler: appropriate vitamins in the diet and low-nitrate water.>
I used to be an aquatic biologist and have dissected lots of fish, even took parasitology in university, but I don't have the tools or microscope to do it correctly here.
<Understood. Some excellent aquarium-oriented books out there; do believe Ed Noga's is considered the "bible" nowadays.>
<Cheers Neale.>
Re: Community fish disease problems (RMF, any other ideas?       1/16/15

I've read the study about the overstocked Oscar tank. It shows that clean water is key. I wish I still had the well water I grew up on. My friends dad had two 35 gal tanks that were way overstocked but everything in those tanks grew huge. He must have done frequent water changes because those tanks did not have much on them for filters.
This tank is frustrating. It should not have pollution problems. Under stocked, over filtered, frequent water changes.
<I don't often give up with tanks... but sometimes there's mileage in stripping down tanks and starting over, quite possibly with entirely new fish. Or at least, giving up on a species that insists on dying! Very occasionally tanks have deep-seated problems, like chemically tainted gravel (e.g., that had metals in it) but sometimes the simple process of rebuilding a tank gives you a chance to re-assess the whole thing -- substrate, plants, water chemistry, etc. -- and from there build a better
system. Make sense?>
So how do you treat a non-eating fish with Metronidazole? Do you have to use a higher concentration as a dip?
<Almost certainly worthless. The medicine needs to get inside the fish to kill the parasites in the gut.>
I noticed that when I necropsied a cherry barb from a tank being treated with ParaGuard it had dark blue deposits inside. So theoretically it might work, but if Hexamita is in a fish (ram) does that mean every fish in the tank has to be treated?
<Likely so. A common assumption is that Hexamita is latent in all cichlids (at least, farmed ones) but only becomes a problem when the fish's immune system is stressed.>
You say make sure appropriate vitamins are in the diet. Do you mean just use good quality food (I use New Life Spectrum)? Or do you mean supplement vitamins? If supplements are required how would you recommend doing that/any specific product?
<Essentially use a good quality flake, and don't let it go stale. For most freshwater fish there's no need to use supplements (the case can be made they're useful for predators that only get offered a limited range of foods). But vitamin quality of flake goes down soon after opening, and after a month or two, the flake could well be seriously lacking in vitamins, perhaps even starting to go rancid. Cheers, Neale.>

Tank issue unknown. No useful info.      1/10/15
I am new to be in an aquarium owner and a group that I'm in for aquarium beginners told me that I need to contact you and send you this video and pictures.
<Nothing attached or linked here>

I set my tank up a week ago I lost one fish the first day, mouth rot?
It was one of my barbs. We got all our fresh from the same store 3 touch roses and three barbs however a person in the aquarium group told me that she says one of my Barbs is shimmying
<Need to see the video. Was this aquarium established, cycled?>
I've Googled it I'm not quite sure but she said I need to send you the following video and ask for your input that and the rest of the tank but you can see my plants are starting to die, I'm going to try to get some tabs this weekend.
The largest natural that you can see hasn't ate <eaten> anything in over a week that we can tell. I've added MelaFix

for 3 days and I do have some treatment my ammonia level is good
<Has to be zero>

and my ph level is good. Any help would be appreciated thank you.
<Need data to help you, not opinions. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

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

Re: platy foods and plants. Actually FW disease; life      8/29/14
Not quite the same as Word Up. Word is the recipient's statement that a truth has been spoken. Word Up is most often used as a question; asking what's going on or what truth do you see/know. Ah, street jargon...
The newest girl, Oray, lived only 3 days. I found her, after I'd been gone for a few hours, at the bottom of the tank. It's my fault. I never should have selected her. When I went to look in the tanks at the store, first thing in the morning, there were 2 dead fish at the surface. They get their deliveries Wed. I was in on Friday. Because they were floating, gases had had time to develop causing the bodies to rise, meaning: they'd been there too long. I don't know what I was thinking. Not thinking, in fact. They declared their filters should filter that out, but maybe....
<Aquarium shops can prevent some transferral of pathogens... UV sterilisation is fairly widely used, and dipping nets in disinfectant between uses should be standard. But if the fish are sickly when sent out from the farms, there's not a lot the retailer can do... a common complaint here in the UK among retailers fed up with poor quality Guppies, Neons and Dwarf Gouramis.>
I was sad. They returned my money. I left without further purchase. I figure to simply allow the tank to calm down (and me too) before introducing any further fish, snail or plant. I did remove and replace about 2 1/2 gallons of water. This happened mid week, before the weekly 3 gallon exchange. Not sure if I should replace I more gallon or all 3 as usual.
<Routine is best. So stick with the standard 20-30% weekly water change.
Good approach not to buy new fishes for a month, six weeks. Certainly used to be "standard operating procedure" in old school aquarium books.>
Hope all is well with you and yours,
<Yes indeed. Baby scan today; went well.>

<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: platy foods and plants      8/29/14

Life Changing Bounty! Congratulations.
<Thank you,>
I live in the Southwest US. Our stock comes from the state of California, just west of here. California prides itself on organic foods, farming and, in general, more 'complimentary ' forms of living, medicine, etc.
<Pretty sure there's an Eagles song about that!>
Apparently, the fish are anesthetized (some blue liquid), shipped on overnight status, arrive at the warehouse, remain there a day and are then placed at the store. Then, you pick and travel home and acclimate etc. It's a lot of movement for them and drugs in addition. It's a wonder any of them survive. She advised me to 'come on Friday' because 'if they're going to die, they'll be dead by then." Lovely....why not wait until Monday to stabilize and detox from anesthesia?
<Indeed. To be fair, the use of sedatives (you don't knock 'em out, just calm them down) in aquarium shipping has been done for years. It isn't universal, but it can be beneficial; there's a decent review here:
That said, it's even better if you can procure fish locally. Many large cities have aquarium clubs, and their auctions are often excellent (and notoriously inexpensive, batches of lovely fish going for a dollar or two).
The less the fish has travelled, and the fewer aquaria it's passed through, the better. Needless to say, locally bred fish are usually acclimated to your local water chemistry too, so that's one less thing to worry about.>
They do use disinfectants for the nets. Thank you for affirming the routine of full, weekly water change. If 'old school rules', and I think it does, I say, tell me more.
<Many old school rules were/are excellent. But the problem is that in the 1970s people kept a much smaller range of (usually very hardy) fish, and even those that were kept, such as Angels and Guppies, hadn't been inbred for nearly so long, so they were inherently less likely to have genetic flaws. For example, one old school rule was to change as little water as practical, perhaps 25% a month. The idea was "old" water had beneficial properties that tap water lacked. For sure understanding of water chemistry management was less then, so by minimising water changes, you didn't expose fish to dramatic changes. But nitrate levels were often very high, leading to problems with sensitive species such as Mollies and cichlids. One reason
adding salt to freshwater tanks was so popular then was to deal with this, salt detoxifying nitrate to some degree. We now understand how beneficial frequent water changes are, not just for the fish but also the appearance of the aquarium (less yellowy water, less algae, less silt). In short, while you'd learn a lot picking up a 70s-era aquarium book at a flea market for a dollar or two (and some older books, like the 1930s era "Exotic Aquarium Fishes" by William Innes are still extremely useful, beautiful and well worth buying even for $10-20) you'd have to temper what you read with more current trends in fishkeeping. The importance of low nitrate is perhaps the biggest change in our understanding. Older books often called
in "harmless" but we now recognise that simply isn't true. Better stop now... this is about the time RMF gets antsy about "chatting" on the Daily FAQ; it wastes pixels or something!>
Congratulations again on the ultrasound news.
The Best,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: platy foods and plants       8/31/14

You are a perfect fount of information. I've noted aquarium club and will pursue, William Innes book(s) and the website edis.ifas etc...so much to learn, as usual. Yes, to less travel and acclimated to local waters. That would be grand, healthier and less stressful all around.
Yes, back in the seventies, you could NOT get away from The Eagles on the radio. To the extent that I actually called a station and asked them to play something else. (They did not.) I thought I would 'go postal' ( a popular urban expression, based in reality, for a vigilante mass destruction) or, commit Hari Kari myself. It was truly maddening. really.
True Dat that one must be cautious of time and language on the internet, especially internationally, as the official listeners are trolling for buzz words.
Thank you for expounding on example of 'old school' and 'new school'. ALL the knowledge must be continually gathered and sifted. It seems, in the US especially, that our love of immediate gratification and lemming-like devotion to pop culture has some people dismissing information more than 6 months old!
<Perhaps. As Samuel Johnson stated: two sorts of knowledge, knowing things, and knowing where to find out about things.>
I have espied one remaining baby platy, wide-eyed under the leaves of a planted plant. I believe it is at least a week old and likely too big to be eaten, but is cautious all the same.
<Fun to watch/see. Have a tank of Heterandria formosa in the kitchen, and the adults are tiny, and you better believe the fry even tinier! But such little scraps of life seem remarkably well formed, agile, alert. In time... do look at "oddball" livebearers... very rewarding, often charming; do see the charming Xiphophorus xiphidium for example, the "Swordtail Platy", but in fact neither, despite being a bit of both. Micropoecilia species even better, more colourful... like the Guppies of old.>
I understand they take 2-3 months to mature to size. Hopefully at that point, you can determine the sex. Then, they are capable of reproduction in about 5-6 months.
<Males, even sooner.>
So, I have time to keep or trade away. Any special foods?
<Not really; the ideal is "little, but often" with foods like Hikari First Bites being perhaps the best/best value (do try storing in the freezer to maximise nutrient stability between batches of fry).>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Eye Infection Killing My Fish... summat else       7/18/14
I have a 75 gallon tank that's been running for 4 months. I perform weekly water changes religiously, so have never had a problem with water parameters. My parameters last week were 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, about 10 ppm nitrate, and a PH of about 6.8.
I HAD 6 Congo tetras, two small geo tapajos, a Sajica, a Firemouth, an angel and two baby Severums (about 3 inches). The Congos have seemed unaffected throughout. Of the cichlids, only one Severum and the angel survived. I lost 5 of 13 fish.
<... from? What cause?>

My problems started last month, just before I left for my honeymoon. I noticed a couple of my fish (Geo Tapajos) had white "fuzz" over their eye, it looked like white strands. The fish were scratching too. So I figured it was a fungal infection. Since I was only going to have helpers feed my fish during my two week absence - I only added copper and salt, praying for the best.
The Geos died the next day, I was told. When I came back - a few other fish had the eye fuzz, but one of the Severums had experienced what looked like severe hole in the head. Small white bumps that cratered, and filled with white goo - leaving holes. I first treated with API fungus cure, but saw no improvement. I then treated with API quick cure, since it includes metro and Prazi for the HITH. No improvement overall. My 5" Firemouth developed the eye fuzz, and died in two days. The Sajica didn't show the eye fuzz, but died. The Severum with HITH died. My angel got eye fuzz but seemed to recover during the upcoming treatment.
I performed a massive water change (40%) and started treating with maracyn plus. I did 20% water changes every other day. After a week, the survivors (Congos, Severum, angel) all seemed fine. I did water changes, and added just Pimafix for another week. So I performed a water change, didn't put in
carbon - and started to restock (stupidly). I bought 3 baby clown loaches, and two small Firemouths.
Within 2 days, almost everyone except the Congos, has shown some eye growth or fluff looking thing. I'm freaked out. Reading on another site that eye infections could be from a gram negative bacteria, I've started to use Kanamycin. After 2 days, the most severely infected (almost the entire cornea was white) had gotten better, so I got optimistic - but the Severum that never showed symptoms has one white fluffed eye. So whatever it is, has spread, though no one seems on death's door.
Currently - the only visible symptom is this eye thing. It starts as a wispy white growth that becomes strands that then disappear on the cornea.
I'll try to get pictures, but Googling "angelfish growth on eye" reveals pictures from cichlid-forum.com that look exactly like what I'm dealing with. Here's the link:

There were only a couple posts on that thread, and no resolution. I've read that the first signs of TB on angelfish are yellow or dark nodules on the cornea - could this be an acute form of fish TB?
<Highly doubtful. Something in the system... environmental... is poisoning these fishes... Not pathogenic; the eye "fungus" is merely a secondary effect
Re: Eye Infection Killing My Fish... Unlucky bamboo/Dracaena      7/18/14
Thank you Bob. I've been reading your posts for a long time, the carrots next to your posts make me imagine a quiet, thoughtful tone. ☺
After 3 days of Kanamycin treatment, my tank looks better. Hopefully I'm not just getting my hopes up like a week ago when I thought I solved this.
<... something else here as prev. stated... These plants; particularly the "lucky bamboo" (Dracaena sanderiana)... not lucky for it or your fishes (which appear poisoned in your pix). The plant is NOT aquatic; and does release toxins... I WOULD PULL it ASAPractical (grow it outside the tank)>
Some of the fish with the worst infections now show just a white spot the size of a pinhead. I'm attaching a picture of the Firemouth who now just looks to have a decent case of cloud eye. I should have taken pictures at the worst of the infection, because a solid lump protruded from the eyes as far as the eyes protrude from the body.
<Again... env.>
I'm also attaching a picture of my setup, in case something wrong sticks out.
<Oh yes; the non-aquatic plants>

Is there a gram negative bacteria that could do this, besides TB? Would you still recommend filtering my water plus water changes? When should I stop Kanamycin treatment, and add carbon?
<NOW. Yes; make that YES!>

Thanks again.
Octavio Martin
<Please look up the name; take a look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tqy9jBDGsk0

Bob Fenner>


Re: Eye Infection Killing My Fish      7/19/14
Thanks Bob. I just watched two YouTube videos about aquarium bamboo. I will yank out the plants ASAP, though I'm not convinced the bamboo itself could have caused these problems.
<Too likely a contributing cause.>
It sounds like the worst thing that could happen is it collects the nitrates it filters in the roots. The rest of the plants are fake, since I had Geos - and the only plants they wouldn't eat, were the bamboo.
<Ah yes; telling>
Should I stop Kanamycin treatment tonight and add carbon Immediately ?
<I'd stop, add the GAC now>

I'd hate to see the problem blossom again without Kanamycin.
Do you consider a serious infection still a possibility considering the hole in the head symptoms, and the extensive eye problems?
<... can only guess; but almost all "bacterial" and true fungal issues have a "poor env." component/start.
Octavio Martin
re: Eye Infection Killing My Fish      7/19/14

I got home to find the Firemouth who looked to be doing better, dead. I pulled him out at the same time as the bamboo. I did a water change and added a ton of carbon. I'll let you know how things progress after a few days. The only remaining Firemouth looks near death.
Would you take any special precautions treating this tank? Like Tuberculosis?
<I would NOT treat this tank, as in pour in medication/s... Again, most likely the issue here IS environmental; NOT pathogenic.

Re: Eye Infection Killing My Fish; TB scare       7/22/14
Thank you. Just wanted to be sure. I only added slightly more water conditioner than usual after a water change and new carbon.
Ever since I read that TB in angels shows up as a grainy cornea first, I have been terrified that I might expose my family to a serious illness. You've been very reassuring.
<What we do>
I lost the other Firemouth today. As of now, several fish have small white spots on their eyes, not too bad. The surviving Severum has a couple missing scales and a nipped tail that hasn't healed. I'll keep an eye on everyone for a week and see how they progress.
Thanks again,
Octavio Martin
<Please do give us follow up reports. BobF>
re: Eye Infection Killing My Fish       7/22/14

Thank you. I wasn't planning on replying with a status update until Friday, but it looks like my tank has taken another turn for the worse. I'd done 2 20% water changes since Friday and added a lot of carbon to one of my filters. Only water conditioner added.
This morning, the eye gunk on most of the fish has grown, and my Severum with the scale damage looks drunk. I'm depressed and about to give up. I'll try to get pictures after work.
<Don't give up>
In searching other forums for the answer, illness probably driven by environment poisoning, I came across a strain of tb that kills swiftly. The comments from this website:
"Currently we are seeing the species M. Triplex in many fish. These fish have lesions that resemble columnaris and are usually located around the head."
<... how to state this more plaintively: I am very well-aware of Mycobacteria/l involvements in fishes. The genus is omnipresent; usually not virulent...>
That struck a cord with me because of the first baby Severum that had severe HITH within a month of my buying him. Foolishly, I only quarantined for 2 days and that will be my fatal mistake. That progression of HITH is unheard of, from friend feedback. He had several sores with white gunk that went away during treatment, leaving deep scars. Also a totally round hole in a fin that I noticed towards the end.
Do you agree that it's at least possible that this is what I could be dealing with? I'm seriously considering euthanizing this tank and sanitizing to protect my family and pets.
<I would just wash your hands after they've been in the tank; NOT put them in w/o gloves if you have cuts>
Whatever the result, I appreciate your time taken to help me.
Octavio Martin
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Dying fish; FW, myst.     3/11/14
We find your website extremely helpful answering our questions about our fish so far.
<Ah good>
We have a planted 150 gallon freshwater tropical tank.  It has 2 Eheim canister filters and a Fluval canister as well.
There were a lot of fish in there and we recently introduced about 12 new Corys.
We put them in ParaGuard for an hour as is our routine.  We have had success with this in protecting our existing fish this way until now.
We lost one Cory the next morning and then others started dying off as well.  We have lost 6 Angels and 1 large clown loach (3 inches long) and more Corys and a white skirt, German Ram and a Kribensis, Golden Dojo Loach. 
<Frightening... may be just coincidentally related to the introduction of the Corydoras>
We took one of the dead angels into our local aquarium store and were told it was more than likely an internal parasite.
<? Not related to the Callichthyids then... no "int. parasite" would have this effect w/in a day>
 He has helped us out with all our selections and checks out our fish and has rejected some we wanted because he thought there was something there.  Anyways he gave us some PraziPro,
<... for worms>
and SeaChem PolyGuard and SeaChem focus.  We did the Prazi right away as some of the fish were not eating
<Am getting more suspicious of something in the water here... what else was done recently here?>

(which means they would usually turn belly up) in a couple of days.  It has been 2 days now and we observed clear stringy poop coming from one of the existing angels.  Is this the dead parasites or tapeworm?
<Can't tell w/o sampling, looking under a 'scope>

  So far it is going well and have lost one more angel and another on its way out.  There is a clown loach that seems to be fighting and resting.  The loach does go on swimming expeditions with his buddies and then goes back to rest.
We have a school of black neons and Debauwi cats that seem totally unaffected(knock on wood) and Fred (our 12" Pleco).
Is this turning the corner now.  We understand that the Prazi should run between 5 to 7 days.  Should we redose with this or go with the other SeaChem products as it is ingested if they eat.
<I would hold off on adding more>
Thanks in advance for all your help and keep up the good work.
Hank and Shanon
<... Did the LFS person dissect the one fish, look for lumenal parasites? I would. Bob Fenner>
Dying Fish... Temp. is... 86?!

Sorry some details that I should have mentioned about the 150g planted tank.
Nitrates are at 20- 30,
<Would keep below 20 ppm... See WWM re various means>
 Nitrites are 0, Ammonia is at 0.
PH is at 7.4
Temp is at 86.
<... too high... Esp. for Corydoras spp.... I would have in the 75-78 F. at highest range. Yes; even with Clown Loaches present. BobF>

Hank and Shanon

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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