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FAQs on the Neon Tetras Disease/Health

Related Articles: Cardinal Tetras; A School of Beauty, Part II,  by Alesia Benedict, Neons, Cardinals & Their Kin; Selection, Maintenance & Healthcare by Neale Monks, Characid Fishes

FAQs on: Neon Tetras 1, Neon Tetras 2,
FAQs on: Neon Tetras Identification, Neon Tetras Behavior, Neon Tetras Compatibility, Neon Tetras Stocking/Selection, Neon Tetras Systems, Neon Tetras Feeding, Neon Tetras Reproduction/Breeding,

Related FAQs:  Cardinal Tetras, Characid/Tetra Fishes,

NTD     7/10/19
I think I had Neon Tetra Disease in my tank where I had neons barbs, Otos and variety of shrimps. Neons and barbs all died, while Otos and shrimp seems to be ok. My question is: can shrimps be carrier of the disease?
<Theoretically, for short periods (e.g., if moved from one tank to another within a few hours) then any wet object, be it a snail, shrimp, plant or rock, can potentially carry the motile stages of any parasite that survives for a while outside a host. But the Microsporidian parasite involved here only passes between fish and intermediate hosts (such as Tubifex worms) and back again. It doesn't, so far as I know, linger outside of either host for very long.>
So if waited month or so and decided to put new stock in, would they get infected through shrimps?
Anybody knows what should I do?
<There really isn't a 'perfect' way to manage Neon Tetra Disease. It can be imported to your aquarium in a very wide range of species, nor just Neons or even tetras, but even species such as Danios that aren't closely related to Neons at all. But because we do know the parasite seems to pass directly
between infected fish (e.g., cannibalism after the death of a host) or else via live foods (such as Tubifex) it is possible to break the cycle by removing infected fish, quarantining new livestock, and avoiding live
Many Thanx,
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Black ghost knife fish, glass catfish, and neon tetras     5/12/18
Thank you for your website. It’s very informative.
<Hello Vicki, and thanks for the kind words. However, sending 20 MB of attachments completely messed up our email box, which causes some people's messages to be sent back to them as undeliverable. We do politely ask people keep attachments down to a minimum size, around 500 kB for images, by resizing them in a graphics application of their choice.>
I have queries about 3 fish species.
<Fire away.>
I have a BGK (see photos attached). Out of its anus this pink growth has suddenly appeared (happened 4 days ago). At times what appears to be faeces still is coming out so don’t think it’s a blockage. It’s behaviour remains unchanged. It’s still appears happy and is swimming around and eating. I’ve read on your website not to feed it blood worms (unsure why?). What else can we feed it other than bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia? I have been feeding it bloodworms and brine shrimp and it has also been eating vegetarian food I put out for my bottom feeders (such as spinach, broccoli, carrot, shelled peas, couchette, cucumber, and pellets) and flakes. I apologise for the grainy photos but it is very difficult to get clear images from a fish tank.
<I'm not sure this is the anus of the fish. Looks a bit far forward. The anus should be well past the gill covers, and close to the front of the anal fin.
<<Mmm; actually; this knifefish, and others, do have a "jugular" placed cloaca... "anus". RMF>>
But if it is what you say it is -- and you can see the fish better than me! -- then a prolapse may be the issue here. Various reasons for this, but often internal protozoan parasites or worms at the cause. Medicating with Metronidazole alongside a good antibiotic such as Nitrofuran would be my first move. Deworming is worth a shot, for example with PraziPro. Sometimes prolapses are triggered by dietary shortcomings, so review this aspect alongside medication.>
One of my glass catfish appears to have white spot? I’ve been treating it with Melafix and Pimafix for 6 days and it remains unchanged. Same with the neon tetras who have had continuous growths and damage to their fins since we got them (8 weeks or so). We’ve been treating them with Melafix and Pimafix in a hospital tank but they don’t seem to be getting better.
<These are both somewhere on a sale from unreliable to useless.>
We’ve even tried “tonic” a mixture of Methylene blue mixed with malachite green. It didn’t work.
<Indeed not; neither of these is considered first-rate anti-Whitespot medications. The old salt/heat method works well if this truly is Whitespot (2 gram salt/litre water, plus water temperature raised to 28 C) but many aquarists simply prefer to use a commercial anti-Whitespot medication, such as eSHa EXIT.>
We have even tried feeding them with their flakes soaked in Seachem garlic guard. We don’t want to keep treating our fish and would like these issues resolved.
<Again, nothing about garlic treats Whitespot.>
Other fish that live with the BKF and glass catfish are Plecos, Kuhli loaches, black neons, clown loaches, chain loaches, striata loaches, varies Gourami, female Betta, golden tetras, albino shark, bristle nose catfish, and Colchis blue (I think they are called).
<No idea what that last fish might be! But in any case, Black Ghost Knifefish, most catfish, and most loaches are very intolerant of copper and formalin, so choose medications very carefully. The salt/heat treatment is safe with them, as are Metronidazole and true antibiotics.>
We use RO DI water and all our parameters are perfect.
<I'd prefer the actual parameters over your interpretations, to be honest. But providing you have fairly soft to middling water chemistry (1-12 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5) this mix of fish should be fine. I trust you are not using pure RO water, but are adding something to it, whether hard tap water or commercial Discus buffer? Straight RO water is not helpful.>
Tanks are well oxygenated as well.
Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks,
<You're welcome, Neale.>

Re: Black ghost knife fish, glass catfish, and neon tetras     5/12/18
Hi Neale,
Thank you for your prompt reply. I apologise for sending through large photos. Will know for next time.
I appreciate your help.
<You are most welcome! Good luck, Neale.>

Help with neon tetra      6/15/17
<12 megs; groan....>
Dear Crew at Wet Web Media,
Tank - 100 liter
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 15, GH 10, KH 7, PH 7.5
8 cherry barb, 8 emperor tetra, 7 neon tetra, 2 phantom tetra
Fluval external canister filter, internal air driven sponge filter.
I have previously kept a 50 liter tank and decided to move to a 100 liter about 6 months ago. I quarantined all fish for 6 weeks and tank was cycled from the start as I used media from old tank.
After about a month in the main tank, one of the Neons developed a white lump on both sides of the tail on the red part. These grew very slowly for about a month and another smaller lump developed on its side, closer to the middle of its body. Once or twice one of the lumps seemed to exude a white substance which then went after a day or two but the lump remained. Otherwise the fish swam, ate and behaved normally. Eventually, the lumps got wider and the fish started to have trouble breathing but was still trying to eat etc. I decided to euthanise with clove oil. This was a week ago. Just today, I noticed another neon has developed a small but telltale white lump in the same red pigmented area. I don't know what to do as I have no idea what it is. Fungus, Columnaris, neon tetra disease,
<This likely: Pleistophora hyphessobryconis>
I've looked them all up but none of them really fit. Because of this I did not medicate as it seemed like I was firing in the dark. If you have any advice or just a hunch as to what it could be I would really appreciate it.
The worst thing is that it doesn't really fit any one disease That are common to neon tetra.
<See here as an example:
Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with neon tetra      6/16/17
Thank you for your quick reply.
Could I just ask you, if it is Neon Tetra Disease, can it infect my other fish, being cherry barb, emperor and phantom tetra?
<Unfortunately, yes. More likely the other Tetras, but the Barbs as well>
Also, I assumed it was a very fast acting disease, killing the fish quickly, so in my case can the disease be chronic, and take over a month to kill the fish?
<At times; yes>
Many thanks,
<As many welcomes. BobF>

Cannibalistic neon tetras.... No.    4/10/16
Ok so I had 5 neon tetras, but after a few days I had to return them.
Everytime I had fed my fish I would make sure to make some food fall to the bottom, because they're near the bottom, but they'd never eat any,
<.... What are the water conditions here? pH, hardness, temp.? Are there measurable metabolites? What numbers?>
they'd see it swim up to it, look at it, and swim away. After 3 days of having them I had come home and found 1 dead, so I returned it and got a replacement, but when I had gotten home I found another one dead, and 2 wounded. Now the 2 wounded looked like a fish had eaten part of it,
because one had its whole top fin missing leaving a chunk of skin exposed and a part of its tail missing, he soo died. The other one had a piece of its top fin missing also, but not to the extreme of the other one. I had 2 Molly's with them
<Incompatible.... need very different water conditions. SEE as in READ on WWM re both
but I had fed them before I left to return that you dead fish, and they mainly stay at the top of the tank, they didn't bother the tetras at all. I believe the tetras had a fight or went cannibalistic on each other.
<No; you' re killing them>
Does that actually happen with blue neon tetras? What do u think happened? What could I have done better? Or how could I have prevented this?
<Reading, understanding what you're up to>
Side note: when adding fish into the aquarium I do leave the bag 20 minutes, then add, little by little, my aquarium water into the bag so they can get adjusted to it, and not stress as much. I also wait 10 minutes in between adding more water, to prevent stress.
<If there's measurable ammonia, higher pH in your system than the shipping water; they're being poisoned by this SOP. Bob Fenner>

More dwarf cichlid problems, and sick neon?    3/12/16
Hello crew, hope you have been doing well.
I am writing you again, as im having troubles with a female ram I've had for about 2 years.
<Mikrogeophagus ramirezi; a difficult species at the best of times, not particularly good quality fish exported from most fish farms, and very specific in terms of requirements. High temperature, low hardness, low pH, and low nitrate all essential. Modern farmed strains are not especially long lived, either. The majority of specimens last a few months in community tanks, I'd wager, partly because of the wrong conditions, but also simply poor genes. Two years isn't bad, really. For sure they might last 4-5 years in ideal conditions, but unless you've got wild-caught (or good quality tank-bred) specimens, I bet that's pretty rare. It's also a fact these fish compete poorly in mixed species set-ups. They're mini earth-eaters, and really need a soft substrate that allows them to sift out algae and tiny invertebrates at their leisure. They'll eat flake, but whether they get enough is hard to be sure if other fish are stealing it first, and if you aren't using dried foods but frozen bloodworms (for example) that certainly isn't going to work for long.>
She is in a 150 gal high tech tank. The tanks been setup since day 1 with a seeded 1600l/h powerhead and a smaller 500l/h ( it also has a hang on back filter, and waiting on a canister to reach me via mail). Its been setup for 3 months and plants are starting to take off a lot. Im running pressurized co2 and the surface is kept with small disruption( during the night co2 is left on but there is a lot of surface disruption.)
Parameters are:
Ph: 7.2
GH: 12
Kh: 10
<Do see above. Bottom line: these are soft water fish.>
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite :0
Nitrates: 30
<Should be okay, but as with most cichlids, once nitrate goes above 20 mg/l, you're providing a source of stress.>
Since i first moved my oldest ramirezi she's been sort of breathing heavily, not gasping but opening her mouth very wide, still ate and was very active/colorful. 2 weeks ago i added another ram, this time another female, vastly larger than the one i already had in there( i would think this ones a male as it doesn't have a red belly but does have blue, iridescent spots on its black mark so not sure). I have seen the new, bigger ram bullying the smaller one. The new ram is completely ok, no heavy breathing and no hiding, while my oldest ram has taken to hiding most of the day. Just now i noticed her tail is split horizontally in two... No blood or wound, just a divided tail and she really looks stressed ( though colorful).
<Your observations are correct. Rams are territorial, and in the wild, a lot of these dwarf cichlids are actually harem spawners. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is an exception, according to Loiselle, but to call them invariably monogamous is probably, I think, an overstatement, and more to the point, females will be mildly territorial towards one another, even if the male isn't (as with harem spawners) moving in and out of their territories each time he mates with them. So in short, yes, females will bicker, and it's a good idea to provide definite territorial boundaries (like rocks) as well as safe houses (upturned coconut shells, caves, etc.) so each female can space itself out from the other.>
This is a 150 gal, 60' x 24' footprint tank, they are the only cichlids, sharing the tank with a shoal of blue, cardinal, neon and lemon tetras, 4 boesemanni rainbows, 5 kuhli loaches, 2 Rineloricaria parva, 3 Otos, a chocolate gourami and a single, small Bala shark ( was taken from another aquarist, i have plans to rehome him/ complete his school)
<Some interesting choices there. Do review water temperature requirements in particular, as this is an issue, even with South American species. Contrary to popular perception, South America isn't just one habitat but a huge range of them, and Rams come from the "llanos", a very different environment to the rainforest. Open grassland, bright sunshine, reliably high temperatures, and very soft water are all characteristics of the llanos. Contrast this with Neons, for example, which may share similar water chemistry requirements but come from shady rainforests where the water temperature is a lot lower, 22-24 C/72-75 F being ideal for them.>
I don't think its the gas as she was like this before i started gassing the tank. Should i rehome? Would the bigger ram be the cause of her split tail? I have kept/bred about 4 other rams in a 40 gal and they never have really hurt each other, just chase/ flare.... And this is such a big tank i mean... Makes no sense.
<I doubt the problem is the CO2 fertilisation, but rather social behaviour. Given time and space they should settle down, but if you can rehome one or other, that's not a bad idea. Alternatively, allow about 30 cm radius around the cave or nest claimed by each pair, and if necessary, move some of the plants and rocks in your tank to reset the territorial boundaries. Removing the aggressive fish to a breeding trap for a few hours can help, allowing the less aggressive fish time to claim its patch. Turn the lights out before releasing the aggressor, and with luck, they'll tolerate each other better. Failing that, adding further females will diffuse aggression between them all, reducing the tendency of any one fish to be bullied. A tank your size should allow for this without problems. One cave at one end, another cave at the other, and four or five caves in between them, each about 30 cm apart, ideally with rocks and plants to break up the "line of sight" between each fish. Make sense?>
No other problems with other fish except for a neon tetras which just today showed up swimming upside down, very active and feeding... He is just... Floating upside down, struggling to keep down, i have since separated him to a 3 gal container ( with a small seeded sponge and a bubbler) , i have tried feeding him peas but he doesn't take it... Im guessing he's caught air?
<Again, Neons are very poor quality fish these days. Do review Neon Tetra Disease, and any fish suffering from these symptoms is best humanely euthanised (Clove Oil is my preference for this) to prevent infection of others.>
Im pretty bummed... I would appreciate some help with this.
Thanks again, Roberto.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: More dwarf cichlid problems, and sick neon?     3/15/16

Temperature of tank is 26-27 c. No heater that's room temperature. Substrate is fine volcanic gravel ( soft) just a little bigger than silica sand.
The neon tetra has completely cured ( for all I can notice) but will be kept on the 3 gal for a few more days. Today while cleaning I found the ram swimming in circles, at the substrate and generally looks disoriented/ not responding. In pretty bad shape.
<Very odd. But will refer you to previous message about Neons and Rams having much different thermal requirements.>
I have made sure to keep my dwarves in clean, well filtered water ( never exceed 40 ppm in nitrates and generally kept at 20) I have had this ram breed once and an agassizii pair breed twice. I feel this is more on the parasitic side?
<Possibly, but short of the standard Metronidazole and Nitrofuran antibiotic combination that works so well with cichlids, there's nothing immediately obvious you should do. Rams just aren't robust fish in anything other than llanos-type situations, and things like Mycobacteria infections are so common with them, and so untreatable, that it's hard to pin down when they die because of illness from when they die from environmental stress. Indeed, there's probably an argument for saying one influences the other.>
She is floating right now on her side, with a slight curvature to her spine and a slight bump. She has been separated to another small tank.
<Spinal deformities usually aren't promising, and by the time this happens, the fish rarely recovers.>
Doesn't look like she can make it... But any insight into this will be appreciated. As always, thank you very much, for your time.
<If this were me, I'd be euthanising humanely, and reflecting on the appropriateness of this particular species on what sounds to be a nice little community tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Neon Tetras - not sure what they've got... Neale?       9/1/15
Dear WWM crew,
<Hi there>
Christina here. Thanks for helping me ID my neon tetra issue. I don't know whether this is Saprolegnia, Columnaris, lymphocystis, Ich or neon tetra disease. Please see photos attached.
<Nice pix>
The setup: Innovative Marine 8G tank with trickle filter custom InTank canister packed with floss, bio media, Purigen and PolyFilter, plus some other bio ball thingies in the sump. I know small tanks aren't ideal but it's my daughter's and a larger tank didn't fit in her room. The filter is fairly vigorous and turns over at last 10x per hour. Stock is one platy, 5 black phantom tetras (who have been spawning recently) and 10 neons.
I feed a variety of food: frozen bloodworms, daphnia, New Life Spectrum flakes & granules, algae wafers, etc. As it's overstocked, I do a PWC twice weekly, 30% one time and 50% with gravel vac another time.
<Do you store the new water ahead of use; treat it somehow?>
The tank is heavily planted including Anubias nana on driftwood,
<The driftwood may be a factor>

Java moss & ferns on a sandstone chunk, green tiger lotus and fast growers water wisteria and hornwort.
PH is stable at 7.4. It's pretty consistently 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites and 0 Nitrates (am considering supplementing nitrates for the plants).
<Strange that there is zero NO3 here>
fertilise with Flourish, Potassium and Excel, using Prime for water conditioning.
<Ahh; I see. All very good so far>
When I put the neons in 2 weeks ago, I noticed one had a protruding jaw/mouth and thought it was a birth defect. That's since developed into what looks like a white blister on its mouth, and another neon has developed a white smear on its tail fin. All the neons have a strong appetite and are schooling together.
I turned up the heater, thinking it was Ich, then read more about Columnaris and gradually took the temp lower to 76. Added a bit of salt just in case.
Today I put all the neons a bath for an hour with a bit of salt, Kordon Fish Protector and Blue Planet Multi Cure - Methylene Blue/Malachite Green/Acriflavine, in a bucket with a heater and an airstone. I don't want to put the Multi Cure in the tank because of the plants, and I don't want to kill the beneficial bacteria.
<You are wise here>
I'm considering ordering an antibiotic like Kanaplex online as you can't get them in Australia. What do you think the neons have, and what is your recommended course of treatment (aside from removing most of the fish and/or getting a bigger tank)? No other fish aside from the neons are affected, but I'm not sure if that means it's neon tetra disease.
<I cannot state with any acceptable level of confidence what the twisted mouth (genetic I'd guess as well) or whitened caudal indicate here. I would pull the driftwood as a general precaution; and NOT further expose these fishes to the Malachite or salt/s (of no use, in fact toxic). Am asking Neale Monks here to further respond. Bob Fenner>
Thanks for your help!
- Christina

Neon Tetras - not sure what they've got...        9/2/15
<<Following on from Bob F's comments. Genetics is a factor. Deformities are common; not necessary lethal, and in the case of stubby jaws, so long as the fish can feed, no harm seems to come from it. But here's the issue with Neons. They're farmed to a price not to a quality, and they're tanked up with antibiotics before they're sent out to retailers. Their intrinsic
resilience has been lost, bacterial and protozoan infections are ubiquitous, and their track record in many countries now is shockingly poor. On top of this, as a hobby we're guilty of keeping them badly. Neons dislike hard water and high temperatures. Really, 22 C/72 F is about optimal for them, and those kept in "normal" 25 C/77 F are probably heat stressed, aggravating any other issues. Add to this the high pH and hardness levels they're commonly exposed to, and we're already keeping them in stressful conditions even without disease. So that means by the time they do get sick, they're not in the right conditions they'd need for a speedy recovery. I wouldn't touch Neons with a 10-foot bargepole these days, but if I had no choice, I'd be doing the following:
(1) Only buy them from a batch with ZERO sick fish or deformities.
(2) Only buy fairly big specimens, not the tiny tiddlers that have much less resilience.
(3) Quarantine them for as long as practical.
(4) Maintain them in a cool, shady, soft water aquarium. 22-24 C; no overhead lighting at all; pH 6-7; 1-10 degrees dH.
(5) Run a thorough course of antibiotics through them, ideally something for both gram-positive and gram-negative.
You can't do much/anything about Pleistophora (Neon Tetra Disease) but half supposed NTD outbreaks are said to be bacterial, hence False Neon Tetra Disease, and you can do something about bacterial infections. The old Maracyn 1 plus Maracyn 2 combo is probably the most cost effective way to do this, but a vet can help you out here as well.
Cheers, Neale.>>

Re: Neon Tetras - not sure what they've got...        9/2/15
Thanks so much Bob and Neale! In Australia-speak, "you guys are legends!"
The no NO3 is curious - I bought another API test kit
<Aq. Pharm.... I'd try another brand/maker>
because my first one was faulty, consistently zero after thwacking bottle 2 as violently as possible against everything in sight. With the new kit, I had the lowest reading a few times, but since I started twice weekly water changes, it's been showing up zero. Maybe I'm overdosing on Prime, or the hornwort and water wisteria are soaking up all the ammonia?
Clearly I did everything wrong with the neons, starting with an impulse buy at my LFS after taking a bunch of platy fry back. I should have done some research beforehand and inspected the fish before buying.
<Glad to find you are aware>
I've been fish-keeping for less than a year and bought a bunch of books, but still have a lot to learn (attaching a photo of said books - all great bed time reading).
<Ah yes>
Other things I did wrong: the neons are tiddlers, we don't have a quarantine tank, the temp has been too high, and the light is probably too strong. The Innovative Marine light is stock LED which my LFS said was "medium strength". What I can do is get some more floating plants aside from the hornwort to filter the light. I've now set the timer to 4 hours on, 4 hours off, 4 hours on to break it up a bit. If I take the neons back to my LFS, they'll get eaten as they'll go in the large "orphan" tank with various sized, quite large and sometimes aggressive fish. My daughter loves the neons and I do want to try and create a good environment for both them and the community somehow. I might try putting Indian Almond leaves in the tank to bring the pH down a bit, being mindful the Platy prefers harder water too. I'll start testing pH, dH and kH more frequently. Attaching a photo of the whole tank for reference.
<Very nice>
Re: quarantine, I did do a dose of PraziPro in the tank and then over a few days sometime later, food soaked in Levamisole, but that obviously doesn't attack anything bacterial or fungal. I'll check in with a local vet to source Maracyn 1 and 2, and if that doesn't work there's always online ordering :)
Quick question: does Maracyn disrupt the beneficial bacteria, if so would they still be effective dosed in a bath, and at what duration and frequency?
<Maracyn is Erythromycin; it usually does not disrupt nitrification>
Thanks again and cheers, Christina
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: Neon Tetras - not sure what they've got...       9/3/15
Thanks so much Bob and Neale! In Australia-speak, "you guys are legends!"
<You're welcome.>
The no NO3 is curious - I bought another API test kit because my first one was faulty, consistently zero after thwacking bottle 2 as violently as possible against everything in sight. With the new kit, I had the lowest reading a few times, but since I started twice weekly water changes, it's been showing up zero. Maybe I'm overdosing on Prime, or the hornwort and
water wisteria are soaking up all the ammonia?
<Floating plants, if growing rapidly, will absorb ammonia and other dissolved wastes.>
Clearly I did everything wrong with the neons, starting with an impulse buy at my LFS after taking a bunch of platy fry back. I should have done some research beforehand and inspected the fish before buying. I've been fish-keeping for less than a year and bought a bunch of books, but still have a lot to learn (attaching a photo of said books - all great bed time reading).
<Some good books there. The Andrews et. al. book on fish health is a classic (first published in the mid 80s) but not substantially updated since then, so in one or two areas is a little dated. But otherwise excellent. The Amano books are inspirational, but do bear in mind Amano-style tanks tend to be short-term projects built for a photo; hardly any operate for more than a year or two. Also, they're not psychologically ideal for many fish. The reason the tetras in the Nature Aquarium photos are schooling together is because they're scared! So again, definitely inspirational, but not necessarily useful for the average community tank.>
Other things I did wrong: the neons are tiddlers, we don't have a quarantine tank, the temp has been too high, and the light is probably too strong. The Innovative Marine light is stock LED which my LFS said was "medium strength". What I can do is get some more floating plants aside from the hornwort to filter the light.
<This approach can work. Neons don't like bright light from above, but shade under floating plants suits them fine.>
I've now set the timer to 4 hours on, 4 hours off, 4 hours on to break it up a bit.
<You might find this "siesta" between morning and afternoon lighting periods doesn't work for your plants. I find 5-6 hours on, 1-2 hours off, then 5-6 hours on again works fine for the plants, fish and also keeps algae in check.>
If I take the neons back to my LFS, they'll get eaten as they'll go in the large "orphan" tank with various sized, quite large and sometimes aggressive fish. My daughter loves the neons and I do want to try and create a good environment for both them and the community somehow. I might try putting Indian Almond leaves in the tank to bring the pH down a bit, being mindful the Platy prefers harder water too. I'll start testing pH, dH and kH more frequently. Attaching a photo of the whole tank for reference.
<Platies and Neons aren't really compatible in terms of water chemistry. Do understand the Indian Almond leaves are an expensive way to acidity water and they aren't all that effective. Indian Almond leaves is just a newer, more expensive and trendy alternative to using peat, which was equally flawed. In any case, if you had a hardness of 10-12 degrees dH, and a pH of 7-7.5, you might just about succeed with Neons and Platies in the same tank. For sure Neons can live in harder water, or at least the old fashioned hardy ones did, but modern Neons are so hopeless I'd not recommend it. Platies get sick very quickly in soft and/or acidic conditions, so don't bother. Neutral, medium hard water is the happy medium that might work for both species.>
Re: quarantine, I did do a dose of PraziPro in the tank and then over a few days sometime later, food soaked in Levamisole, but that obviously doesn't attack anything bacterial or fungal. I'll check in with a local vet to source Maracyn 1 and 2, and if that doesn't work there's always online ordering :)
<Indeed. In the UK you can't buy Maracyn or any other antibiotic without a prescription (some people do sell aquarium antibiotics on eBay, but not only is that illegal, you have absolutely no idea whether you're getting antibiotics or fakes).>
Quick question: does Maracyn disrupt the beneficial bacteria, if so would they still be effective dosed in a bath, and at what duration and frequency?
<Used as instructed on the package it doesn't normally affect the filter.
But it's a good idea to grab some filter media or even a fair clump of floating plants, which carry a lot of filter bacteria, stick in a bucket with some aquarium water, and place somewhere suitable for a few days while medicating. That way, if something does go wrong, you can at least jump start the cycling process and avoid New Tank Syndrome.>
Thanks again and cheers, Christina
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neon Tetras - not sure what they've got...        9/4/15
Thanks Neale and Bob.
<Welcome Chris>
Sorry about the delay replying - I'm job hunting and was meeting with recruiters.
<Ah, "first things first">
I'll ring around my local vets to see who can supply fish antibiotics.
I've changed the light timing and just tested the water after two days:
Ammonia & Nitrite 0. Actually showed up 10 N03 on my second test after vigorously shaking the 2nd bottle and the test tube, which is good. pH is 7.4, gH 7 and kH 6.
<Ok... as Neale alluded to, Neons are generations aquacultured... are much more tolerant of varying aquarium conditions, but also have genetic troubles>
When I got home last night I was worried to see the Neons looking suspiciously asymmetrically lumpy along their bellies, but that's gone today and I think they may just have been eating too many peas which I left for them during the day.
I've been worried one Black Phantom Tetra now has a gaping red gill on one side and is hiding away under plants in a corner. As it's on one side only and they're all doing quite vigorous body bumps during spawning season, I think it may just be an accidental collision with the sandstone rock in the tank. I'm going to wrap more java moss around the rock to cushion the edges. I'll give her a few days to heal, otherwise will send a picture for your comment. Haven't had to euthanise a fish yet so I'm hoping I don't have to start with this one, or any/all of the neons.
Many thanks, Christina
<As many welcomes. BobF>

Neon tetra disease?       8/10/15
Hello, again!
Thanks for everything the other day!
I guess a follow up on our previous conversation would be good.
I now have the African cichlids living in the fridge case i told you earlier, arranged some rocks and sand and two small powerheads making water turbulence, Ph is 7.7 and water quality tests are good so far.
I didn't get the Acara; clerk at the lfs (the one i told you has severe issues) knows me and knows what i have in my tanks and when i told him what i wanted the Acara for told me that it would be too risky, as it would probably bully the glass catfish and stress everyone while looking for a territory. Just then when evaluating i noticed they had ... boesemanni rainbows! They had just arrived yesterday so i got 5 of them; A safer option i guess.
They are now being quarantined in a 10 gal, they are very small and have not developed their brightest colors (that or they are heavily stressed, cant tell).
I also noticed a sale on neon, cardinal and black neon tetras. There were actually just 5 neons, 3 cardinals and 2 black neons, and i actually have seen these guys sit in their tanks for about 3 weeks without anyone taking them. I got all of them.
Since my temperature range is in the meeting points of the upper for neons and lower for cardinals i guessed that maybe i could keep them together, am i right?
<Yes; with a "middling" range of temperature... the mid to upper seventies F.>
now, i searched for black neons but haven't found much.
these guys are all in my second quarantine (i have a few empty small tanks i got very cheaply just in case haha).
This quarantine, however, has a few hardy plants i can remove whenever i need to medicate (ferns, Anubias and hornwort). It is an 8 gallon with ph 7.1, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are 0,0,5, wasn't running with a filter but i took an extra sponge from the catfish tank and an air pump thing into an air diffuser.
Its been a day and all the fish seemed fine, however, noticed today that the cardinals aren't eating, and whats more one of the neons is hiding in an upper corner, hidden by hornwort and just blankly staring at the glass without eating or moving much. The rest of the neons, black neons and cardinals are hanging together and feeding well (except for the cardinals, which don't show interest in food).
First thing that comes to mind is neon tetra diseases for the neon, but these guys have been at the lfs for about 3 weeks, shouldn't he have died already if he does have NTD?
<Likely the "odd behavior" is simply from being moved to a new setting>
shouldn't the other fish be infected and displaying symptoms as well? Im a bit puzzled here, all the fish seem well fed and display normal coloration. Also thought about stress but im very paranoid about diseases.
I sincerely hope you can help me, thank you very much in advance for your time!
<I'd "do nothing" at this point. Bob Fenner>

Sick Tetras?      8/27/13
Hi guys,
Starting out with details and parameters:  I have a 30 gallon tank that I set up almost three months ago.  A month and a half a go, I got 3 Neon Tetras and a Ghost Shrimp.  Two of the Tetras died very shortly, so I waited two weeks, checking parameters, and then got two more Tetras.  They have been fine until about four days ago.
<I see. Well, the quality of most farmed Neons is not good, and "Neon Tetra Disease" (or diseases plural, there's some debate on this) can be particularly difficult to deal with. Once sick from this disease, Neons are highly contagious but difficult (usually impossible) to treat. That said, not all Neons die from Neon Tetra Disease, so be open minded, and do all the usual things you do when fish get sick, in case there's another reason they're ailing.>
My Nitrates and Nitrites are at 0, but my ammonia is at .25ppm. My tap water reads for over 1ppm straight out of the tap, so I have been using Prime and I get false readings for my ammonia concentrates.
<Possibly, but be open minded and review filter capacity, feeding, stocking, etc.>
I did a 25% water change two days ago, and before that, the ammonia read at 0ppm.
I am having trouble identifying a disease that my Tetras seem to have.  It started out with one Tetra hiding instead of schooling with the others.
<Is what Neons do when stressed, though is often associated with "Neon Tetra Disease". Such fish should be promptly removed, and to be honest, euthanised (I recommend the Clove Oil method as cheap, easy and humane).
You see, Neon Tetra Disease is extremely contagious, and medicating isn't possible. If you suspect there may be another explanation, you could isolate the Neon in a hospital tank and treat for Whitespot, Finrot or whatever, but unless you're 100% sure that your fish doesn't have Neon Tetra Disease, I'd always medicate in a hospital tank, not in the display tank.>
When he came out of hiding to eat, I noticed a white spot on his lip.  I got some Jungle "Ick Guard" and have been using it per the directions, as well as adding aquarium salt to my tank.  Over the next day or so, the sick fish got worse and the two others began to come down with the same symptoms.  I have been using the Ick Guard for 4 days now, and the fish are
not getting better.
<Oh dear.>
Today, I noticed that my Ghost Shrimp had white spots on him, as well (he disappeared for 3 days and I almost thought he was dead).  I Googled to see if invertebrates can get fish parasites, and the general consensus was that they cannot.
<Correct, but many fish medications are lethal to shrimps, particularly anti-Whitespot and similar medications that contain either copper or formalin. Always remove shrimps when medicating, or else remove the sick fish to a hospital tank.>
(Btw, he molted about a week ago, and one site said spots could be a sign of molting - would he do it again so quickly?)
<May well do.>
Between the shrimp getting spots and my fish getting worse instead of better, could the disease not actually be Ich?
<The photos are too blurry to be sure, but the fish look to me like they might have either Finrot or Whitespot/Ick, it's just not clear to me.
Whitespot looks like the fish fins and body have had salt grains stuck to them. It's very distinctive. Finrot erodes the fins usually from their edges inwards, and the fins often go cloudy, sometimes pinkish, as the fin membranes die. Again, quite easy to identify. It's possible for a fish to have both, by the way, and they're both common problems in newish tanks
when un-quarantined fish have been recently added and/or existing fish exposed to poor water quality.>
Is there another disease that they might have, or is it just a coincidence that the shrimp also has white spots?
<The latter; shrimps can't get Whitespot. For sure they might suffer in some way from poor water quality, but Finrot as such isn't going to happen.
Shrimps usually just die when stressed.>
I have included pictures, but they aren't terribly great because everyone in the aquarium moves so fast.
<Quite so. Try using a net to gently hold a fish against the glass. Use a tripod (or a friend with steady hands) to hold the camera.>
In the pictures, I have tried to point out spots where you might be able to see the white spots. Thanks in advance for any help, you guys are an amazing source of knowledge, and I have learned so much from your site.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Disease help (pictures attached)    11/19/12
I don't know if you are able to help, I have attached a few pictures of my neon tetra's. In this 48l tank are 4 x neon tetra, 3 x male guppies, 1 x dwarf  Pleco, several assassin snails and 100's of problem snail squatters!
I have a constant battle with Nitrate (my tap water has high Nitrate)
<How high?>
and  the pH is always low at 5 - 5.5
<Yikes; too low>
 and I add pH up  by API.
<I hope it's dissolved in the water ahead of use, not added directly to the aquarium. I would be using baking soda/sodium bicarbonate; pre-mixed and stored for a week ahead of use>
I am strict with weekly 20 - 30% water changes.
Any help is very much appreciated.
Thank you
<Your pix are too blurry, poorly-resolved to tell much... Is this Pleistophora, Sporozoan, a Mycobacterial issue, simple environmental manifestation?
Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/NeonTetDis.htm
And write back w/ your further observations, concerns, questions. Bob Fenner>

cropped and enhanced.

Neon tetra sickness that takes months to develop?? - 11/08/2012
I have a 37 gallon FW tank, planted and with driftwood. It is stocked with Bleeding Heart Tetras, a Bristlenose, a pair of Pearl Gouramis, Pygmy Corys, and 6 Neon Tetras. The tank has been running since February 2011 when I moved up from a 10 gallon that I started two years previously.
<Sounds very nice.>
In February 2012 I bought 8 more Neons. They went into a QT thankfully. (Seeded with an extra sponge I always keep in the main tank HOB).
<Very good.>
After one week in the QT some were showing signs of what I thought might be fin rot. Tips of tails missing, with white edges, the same on the dorsal fin of one. I treated the tank with Tetra fungus tabs.
After two weeks in QT all eight had white edges on some of the fins. I completed the fungus treatment.
<Fin rot is typically caused by either poor water quality or bacterial infection, not fungus....>
After five weeks in QT three had developed what looked like a small growth on the bottom lip. Not fuzzy, not white, more a light grey. One fish seemed to be losing a little colour just below the dorsal fin on one side. I did some research and thought it could be Columnaris. Up to this point the fish were all acting normally, feeding, active. A few days later a couple seemed to be lethargic. I got some BiFuran+ and went through a treatment over the next week. I lost two fish on the third day, two on the fourth. The remaining three seemed to be doing OK, other than the slightly ragged fins and the small growth on the lower lip of one.
<Cysts, fin rot, loss of color.... This is sounding potentially like "Neon Tetra Disease", a contagious and incurable Sporozoan complaint which affects, most notably, neon tetras (among other things)....>
They didn’t get any worse over the next few weeks, other than the growth getting a little bigger. I came across Triple Sulpha, and tried two complete treatments of that. A week after the second treatment I noticed one looking a little listless. It died overnight. The other two looked OK, other than the growth that looked like a blister on the lip. A week later one died.
<Though I might expect them to die more quickly, I would still be suspecting Neon Tetra Disease / NTD....>
A month later there was still one lone survivor, looking fine. I bought three more (should have given up on Neons by then) thinking that if they were all OK in a month I`d add them to the main tank. Two weeks later "Survivor" didn't live up to its name. Became ragged, seemed to develop a small pale area, went downhill over 2 days.
<Yeah, I'm still thinking the same.>
I euthanised it.
<Best possible option, if it is in fact NTD.... I would have done this, as well.>
One week after that one of the three new fish started to develop the now familiar growth on the lower lip.
<Yikes! Though not exactly surprising.>
Three months later, after trying malachite green baths for a few weeks too, I euthanised the three. The growth got much bigger and one of the others developed one too. The third just became ragged. The QT was in use for a long time...
<Hey, that's what it's there for. And thank goodness! Let's hope EVERY SINGLE READER OUT THERE (yes, you!) is seeing this and understanding the complete and utter NECESSITY that is a quarantine tank!>
Two months later I decided to try again. Why, I don`t know...
<It's reasonable, I think.>
QT was had been broken down and cleaned (left running for a couple of days with a beach solution – made sure of that. Nets etc. soaked in the tank at the time).
<Very good.>
I bought 7 Neons. One developed a small growth during the second week. Euthanised. It was the same blister-looking growth. Two others have small signs of a growth of some kind – not filamentous, not a blister. Small, at the side of the mouth, kind of like an extension of the lip. Two have a slightly distorted profile – not a lump, but not a smooth curve when looking at the belly. They are all acting normally. No damage to fins, no colour fading.
<Curved spines are another symptom of NTD, and cysts growing internally might cause the fish to be "misshapen", as well.>
I don`t know what to do with them now. It has bee 5 weeks with this bunch. I can`t put them in the main tank, but don`t want to euthanise them unless they definitely sick.
<To be safe, I would never move these fish to the main tank. If the shop you got them from has a return policy, you might consider returning them - with an honest explanation why, of course.>
Any suggestions or comments would be welcome. I have found a lot of examples in various forums and other sites of people with similar experiences with Neons, and a lot of photos, even videos, of the lower lip mouth growth. Looks like a blister, as I mentioned. Grows slowly, and fish can act fine for months. If you think this is Columnaris, or have other ideas of what it is and what I could do...
<I do suspect this not-uncommon Sporozoan, or possibly some other similar causative. As for what to do? I would return the existing fish in the quarantine tank to the shop, bleach/sterilize again, and wait until you can find a different source for Neons before trying them again. See if your shop will let you know where the ones you'd purchased came from; if they were farm-raised and where, or if they were wild.... And try to get them from an entirely different source/origin next time.>
<I'm sorry you've had to deal with this, Steve, but I am glad - very, very glad - that you chose to employ the use of a quarantine system. I do hope that someone out there will learn from this. Thank you for sharing; I am sorry I don't have better news or suggestions. Oh, the obvious suggestion: DO NOT cross-contaminate to your main tank!! I think you're probably well aware and cautious of this already. Best wishes to you and your fish, -Sabrina> 

Neon tetra disease?     7/1/12
I have a sick fish - I believe he has dropsy because he is pine-coning but I am worried about a weird lump on him as well.  I see another tetra or to in the tank with the lump and I was hoping I could get a more experienced opinion on the fish since I just found out about the Neon Tetra disease today.  I have isolated the pineconing fish, but I am just hoping I don't lose the entire school.  I have attached some pictures of the fish - do you think the lump is from Neon Tetra disease?
The lump is underneath his gills in front of his front-most fins.
<Don't think this is Pleistophora, but could be either worms or plain vanilla Dropsy. If this was me, I'd at least isolate this fish but more than likely euthanise it, and hope that the other Neons weren't infected.
Do then review the basic requirements for Neon Tetras: good water quality, soft water (2-12 degrees dH), an acidic pH (6-7.5), and a low to middling temperature (22-25 C). The quality of farmed Neons is mediocre, at best, and if you don't have soft water, things become even more difficult, so don't be too disheartened if you can't keep Neons alive. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Microgeophagus Altispinosa/injured neon tetra, chatting   5/3/11
Afternoon Neale, happy Tuesday.
<Hello Susie,>
Ok, understood re breeding trap etc, thank you!
The remaining Corydoras seem fit enough.....I'm thinking that I'll move the 4 catfish and the Ancistrus, and a few Neons, out into the 15 gallon tank, and leave the M. altispinosa in the 20 gallon with the rest of the Neons and the pygmy barbs, in the hope that one day something akin to pairing off and breeding will occur.
<Sounds worth trying out.>
May have to add a few more specimens to get a pair though. If I have any success, and I manage to grow a few fry to a quarter inch in with the parents in the 20 gal, where can they go after that.....will the 15 gal with the few catfish in be large enough to grow them to a size suitable for the LFS? Assuming I'll only grow or succeed with 10-15 at a time?
<Yes, should be fine. But keep up with water changes! Juvenile fish are very sensitive to "old" water (presumably nitrate levels).>
One slightly more urgent matter, I came home to a very peculiar sight this afternoon.....would you be so kind as to take a look at look at the attached? It's difficult to get a clear picture but does this look like an injury of some sort?
<Hmm no, I think not; perhaps a prolapse of some sort?>
It's a creamy coloured lump which appears to be protruding from around the vent. It's a solid mass, but doesn't look "thready", like I would expect a disembowelment, or worms, to look like. The fish is schooling with the others and doesn't appear distressed at all? Maybe it's a she and these are trapped eggs?? Any ideas or solutions....whatever it is, it must be very uncomfortable.....
<Not much you can do directly, though Epsom salt, at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons, can help. Feeding live daphnia and live brine shrimps can also have a laxative effect.>
As if that wasn't bad enough, I spent a large part of the Bank Holiday setting up a second hand 15 gallon tank which I collected on Friday. After hours of careful cleaning, washing of sand, gathering of equipment, filling of tank to check for leaks etc etc etc, I finally filled it and seeded the filter last night, adding a pinch of food for ammonia. I came back this afternoon to do the first of my chemical checks......and now, full of substrate and driftwood, it leaks. Curses. Back to square one and a few quid poorer
<Oh dear.>
Thanks for help re neon and advice on breeding the rams!!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Microgeophagus Altispinosa/injured neon tetra   5/4/11
Thanks Neale.....having feverishly researched where to buy Epsom salts, the "prolapse" grew increasingly fluffy during the evening and eventually broke away. The neon is now wearing a relieved expression. :o) That will teach him to stuff his face with brine shrimp too quickly.
<Indeed. But all's well that ends well.>
After the irritating failure of the leaky 15 gal, I had a right result last night.....a friend wants rid of her perfectly functional but neglected 20 gal tank, fishes and all. 2 Striata loaches I'll re-home, 2 Endler guppies I guess I can keep somewhere, 11 Neons can probably stay, and there are also two completely mystery fish.
Fancy a stab at identifying them from a description, before I can get a pic?
They are about an inch and a half long, with the long slender body shape more of a characin than a barb, although could fit either family....didn't notice any barbels, they weren't bottom feeders but did stay in the lower third of the tank, like cichlids. They're a deep golden orange, with vertical black stripes graduating along their backs - mainly the saddle area, the stripes dont extend to the head or tail, and don't go as low as the pectoral fins. They look like very very small, stripey orange sharks, with quite a long dorsal fin. They stick together and dont move around much.
<Hmm curious; not obvious at all what they might be.>
They must be hardy as they've survived many 75% water changes with no treatment of the replacement water, with long periods of no water changes in between.
I've researched every species I can think of and can't find them - my friend doesnt know what they are, although when she bought them the LFS said they were quite rare.
Any thoughts? Should be able to get a picture when I collect them, but you know me, always impatient for info. Especially as they may not be suitable to keep!
<Do need photo. Cheers, Neale.>

Tetra with white mouth  2/5/11
Dear Crew
Just to update you all, sadly, my panda platy died last night from what we are sure was fish TB (mycobacterium). Despite not eating, she lasted a good two weeks on twice daily water changes although her eyesight must have failed her and her tail became covered in fungus in the last two days - very sad.
I've got two neon tetras now waiting some sort of help. They have had this white patch on their mouths - curiously, it's been developing really slowly over the past two months and they appear to be normal/eat normally. I've now put them in the hospital tank with their tank water, air and heating.
I've not added any treatment at this stage as I wanted to check what I should use if any. I'm thinking that it is probably Columnaris as I found a few white spots on another tetra a few weeks back when we had a small nitrite spike for a couple of days and which I cleared up with a broad spectrum antibiotic. However, I've attempted to treat this tetra before and its white patch on its mouth didn't clear up. Is it worth treating this one again with an antibiotic or a die-based solution for the Gram-negative bacteria?
Many thanks for you excellent help as ever.
<Yes, I agree, Columnaris is probable. But with Neons, this does seem quite a common malaise, perhaps caused by fighting or bumping into solid objects.
Would treat with something like eSHa 2000 that treats Finrot, Columnaris and fungus all at the same time, and beyond that, hope for the best. As ever with Neons, ensure the water isn't too hard and the temperature isn't too high -- these are surely common mistakes that shorten their lifespans in captivity. Cheers, Neale.>

Neon Tetra Fungus? 02/05/11
Hi Crew Again
Hope you had your morning coffee.
I am keeping individual emails per question to make things easier I hope.
I have 7 neon tetras and the one in the picture has had a white growth on his (male I think) lip for a couple of months now. When I first noticed it I moved him to a hospital tanks and treat with JBL Fungol
As he has not got worse I can only assume that what ever it was has been treated.
This morning I noticed that one of the females has developed a white spot on her left side (see pic) I think it may be fungal.
Not sure what to treat her with - I have an array of medication.
Either do a Salt dip.
or JBL Ektol Fluid, JBL Ektol Crystal as well as Fungol2, Punktol I have some Interpet anti bacterial fluid as well.
Many thanks.
<This would appear to be Mouth Fungus, which, despite its name, is a bacterial infection, sometimes called Columnaris (the bacteria species is called Flavobacterium columnare, or in older books, Flexibacter columnaris, hence the name). It isn't difficult to treat when caught early, and an anti-Finrot medications will usually work well. Fungus proper can look similar, but the threads are usually longer and fluffier. Some medications will treat both; I particularly recommend eSHa 2000 because of this, and in the UK and parts of Europe this medication is widely sold an inexpensive. Do remember to remove carbon from the filter, if used, while medicating. Mouth Fungus may be caused by water quality issues, or it may be a result of fighting or some other type of physical damage to the mouth. Review and act accordingly.
Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Neon Tetra Fungus? 02/05/11
Hi Neale
Many thanks for your reply.
<Glad to help.>
Do you think the female with the white spot just under the blue line is the same?
<Probably not. Could be Whitespot, but for now, the Columnaris is the priority, though the standard salt/heat method against Whitespot could be used safely and without causing stress to your Neons.>
We treated the male with mouth rot about 2 months ago - the white on his mouth is still there but he as not got any worse, should what looks like rot have gone away by now?
<Difficult to say. Bacterial infections may come and go depending on the strength of the immune system, which is why they become killers in tanks with underlying problems. The bacteria responsible are present in all tanks, all the time. For what it's worth, I don't recommend Neons unless you happen to have soft water and you also have the option of keeping them relatively cool; Neons don't do well in hard water and they don't do well kept above 25 C/77 F. Cheers, Neale.> 

Tetra Neons... keeping/killing  1/24/11
Hi, I just got 5 Neons about 4 days ago, and unfortunately one of them has already died. They are in a 10 gallon tank with a pH of about 6.5 and nitrate and nitrite readings are low as well.
<Meaning what? Is this aquarium brand new? A new tank *will* kill Neons. It needs to be cycled for 3-4 weeks at least before adding the Neons. By cycling, we mean presenting a source of ammonia, such as pinches of fish food every couple of days, and then doing the usual 25% water changes every week. If the tank is new, ammonia will be high for the first couple of weeks, nitrite high for about weeks 2 to 4, and only after the fourth week will ammonia and nitrite both be close to (or at) zero, and that's when nitrate starts going up. That's also the point when you can start adding fish. There's no "low" level of nitrite (with an "I"). Any nitrite level above 0 is potentially dangerous, and above 0.5 mg/l there's a good chance of the fish dying quickly.>
The tank is heated to about 79-80 degrees F.
<Too warm for Neons.>
I am concerned that the water may be too hard for them. When I tested the GH it was 180ppm. Is the hardness hurting the fish?
<Can do, long term. But Neons won't die within days because your water is moderately hard. In fact they may well do just fine, provided everything else in your tank is good.>
If so, what can I do to lower it?
<Cheers, Neale.>

Neon tetra turning white, but acting otherwise normal, likely NTD  09/29/10
Good morning,
<Hello Melanie,>
I need some advice on my poor neon tetra.
<Fire away!>
Here's the aquarium history:
20 gal. planted tank with bog wood, fully cycled since February 2010.
<Sounds good.>
Last tested last night using a Jungle test strip:
Nitrate - about 10 ppm (mg/L) (the colour was pinkish between 0-20 and within the 'safe' zone)
Nitrite - 0
GH - Soft, about 75 ppm
Chlorine - 0
KH - in the ideal range 120-180 ppm
pH - about 7.2
The last water change was about a week ago.
<All sounds ideal.>
Note: the bogwood had black fuzzy material growing on it, so I removed it, scrubbed it, then boiled it in a 10% vinegar solution. Then I scrubbed it again and let it soak in plain water for several days before returning it to the aquarium last Saturday.
<The black stuff is red algae, and scrubbing it won't make much difference either way. Red algae tends to grow in conditions where there is medium to bright lighting but not enough fast-growing plants. Stick a clump of Floating Indian Fern in the tank, and you should find algae becomes much less of an issue.>
Tank inhabitants: 1 rubber lip Pleco, 1 male Betta (he's peaceful), 7 neon tetras, 2 assassin snails.
<All sounds fine, my one comment being that Bettas prefer warmer water to Neons. Your Neons, Rubber Plec, and to some degree the snails will do best kept fairly cool, 22-24 C/72-75 F being ideal. Although not the reason your Neon is sick, this is a common reason why Neons generally have relatively short lifespans in many tanks, a couple of years instead of 4-5 years.>
The Neons are the latest addition, added back in July, and were purchased from a reliable LFS (not PetSmart)
<Unfortunately with Neons, they mostly come from the same fish farms, no matter where sold.>
The fish are fed once daily one of the following: Topfin Betta food, Bettabites, Topfin tropical flakes, Topfin freeze dried blood worms, and Pleco algae wafers. I usually rotate through these. The only exception was back in early September, I gave the fish a 3 day feeder block. I don't normally use the blocks.
<Very wise; they tend to do no more harm than good. Your fish can easily go two weeks without food.>
All fish have been eating well, with some of the fish being pigs and eating too much from time to time.
<Sounds like they're doing well.>
Here's the problem:
One of the neon tetras has recently, over the last few days, developed a discolouration from the dorsal fin, through the colour bands and now to his stomach. I think it started at the colour band and has migrated out, but I could be wrong. The white patches are not fuzzy. The fish appears slightly lumpy - not looking nice and sleek like his brethren. He simply doesn't look right.
<My fear here is that he's tending towards Neon Tetra Disease. This is one or two distinct diseases: some people think it's usually a parasite called Pleistophora, while others thing at least some cases are caused by a bacterial infection. Either way, Neons rarely if ever recover, so euthanasia is usually the best approach. Pleistophora at least is highly infections, and many, MANY aquarists have found that once one fish
succumbs, they lose another Neon every few weeks.>
However, the fish seems to be behaving normally - he is schooling, eating, swimming well, reactive to a person watching the tank. He is not restless or stressed looking, fins are not clamped, not gasping for air, not glancing on rocks/decorations.
<I see.>
I have Googled my brains out and now just have a list of possible maybes that each require different treatments. Is it Columnaris?
<This is usually distinctive, with growths around the mouth, but to be honest with Neons being so small, detecting such features is hard.>
Neon tetra disease?
<I fear as much. NTD is characterised by loss of colour, loss of appetite, a tendency not to school with the other Neons, shyness, bloating, and eventually death.>
Muscle death due to invisible parasites/flukes?? I just don't know!
<Nor do I.>
I will take a picture and send it as soon as I get home tonight.
<Very good, this will help. Do note our preference for a sharp photo no larger than about 500 KB.>
My current plan is to buy a 2.5 gal kit with heater and filter to use strictly as QT.
<That would be very wise. If handled this way, you might try using a broad antibiotic and hope for the best. If you decide to euthanise the fish, read here:
The clove oil method works extremely well with small fish, I finding a litre of water with 30 drops of clove oil does the job quickly and painlessly.>
I will take Mr. Yucky out tonight and await further instructions... Please let me know if there is anything else I can tell you.
Thank you!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neon tetra turning white, but acting otherwise normal 09/29/10
Thank you very much Neal for the quick response.
<Always happy to help.>
I will make some changes to the tank as suggested (always looking for an excuse to add more plants). I also keep the temp at 76 - at the high end for tetras and the low end for Bettas. I guess nobody's happy.... maybe I should move the Betta into his own home.
<Would be wise.>
As for the sick neon: he was quarantined last night.
<OK; but if he's merely injured, this could cause stress, and that in turn will make him less rather than more likely to get better.>
I'd like to try medicating first as the fish doesn't appear to be distressed as of this morning. However, I already own clove oil and am prepared to euthanize if things don't improve.
My next big worry is this: what should I do with my main tank now? Is there anything I can do to ensure that the others don't come down with the same illness?
<Prayer? In all honesty, Neon Tetra Disease is very difficult to eliminate from a school of Neons, and it's more about ensuring optimal conditions and removing infected fish than anything more "medical".>
I plan to do a water change tonight (the usual 20-25%) and replacing the carbon filter (long overdue).
<Do bear in mind my usual advice that carbon removes medications and is also fairly useless in freshwater tanks. If you don't have a specific reason to use carbon, the space in the filter would be MUCH better used for more biological media.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Neon tetra turning white, but acting otherwise normal 09/29/10
Sorry, didn't see the response to this email until after sent the last one... see what I mean? Weird!
<Indeed. The thing with Neons and many other transparent fish is that damage to the skin or muscles makes them opaque. If the whole fish is opaque, that usually means they're very ill, but if it's just a region,
then you may be dealing with something more like a bruise.>
This fish hasn't been touched by a human since he was first placed in the tank back in July. Last night was the first netting for him in a while. I was suspecting he'd been hurt by decorations (the bogwood is kind of pointy in spots) or by another fish, but wasn't sure.
<Bogwood shouldn't be a problem as such; Neons come from habitats with lots of things they might bump into, yet manage just fine. On the other hand, fish can bump into things -- including the glass and hood -- when alarmed, including when lights are turned on, so a good tip is to turn the room lights on a few moments before turning the tank lights on. The reverse is helpful at night when you're switching off the aquarium lights.>
I just fear having all my fish wiped out due to ignorance on my part.
<I wouldn't worry about that. For what it's worth, Neons are one fish I've never managed to keep alive for long. The quality of Neons in the trade is, unfortunately, rather low.>
I'll keep him as is, isolated. I won't medicate for now. Is there anything you'd recommend that I feed him for a faster recovery - or just the same old flake?
<Pretty much.>
Is a product like stress coat of any use in a situation like this?
<Won't do any harm, so if you have some, sure, use it. But I wouldn't rush out to buy this or Melafix or whatever.>
Crossing fingers! Thanks again,
<Glad to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Hiding Neon Tetra  6/8/10
I have a 25 gallon tank (fully planted and cycled). It currently homes 5 neon guppies (1 male, 4 female), 5 panda Platies (1 male, 4 females), 3 cherry shrimps and 9 neon tetra (new). You have previously informed me that I was misguided by the aquatic shop about the tetras being ok in a tank with a high water hardness (London water).
I've had the tetra about a week now and I have noticed that one now hides in the corner at the bottom of the tank under the plantation and rarely comes out. Is it normal?
<Perhaps. May be bullied, but hiding is also an early symptom of Neon Tetra Disease, an epidemic among farmed Neons.>
All ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are normal/safe.
<Unfortunately Neon Tetra Disease is very common, and it is also highly contagious. There's no cure. Infected fish become shy, lose their colour, don't feed, swell up, and eventually die. Possibly infected fish should be isolated in a hospital tank and extreme precautions taken to make sure water doesn't mix with the water in the main tank, e.g., by sterilising nets and buckets. If the suspected fish develops further symptoms of NTD, it should be euthanised; see WWM for more on this.>
Many thanks, Patrick
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bariatric Neon Tetra   5/4/10
Thanks for the great site I have found it very helpful for both marine and freshwater tanks
<Good to know.>
I have searched your FAQs and other pages but cannot find an exact match for the problem.
We have a neon tetra that is significantly larger than normal i.e. at least twice the size of the tankmates While I have managed to find numerous references to bloated or swollen stomachs the associated pictures and
descriptions speak to very distended stomachs and bulging - this fish is large all over.
<Are you sure he's a Neon? Cardinal tetras are similar but a bit bigger all around. Conversely, Paracheirodon simulans, the so-called Green Neon, is somewhat more slender than the Common Neon Tetra, Paracheirodon innesi.
Also is he longer than the others, or just fatter? If the abdomen is substantially bulkier, but the length of the fish is the same as the others, that can imply a variety of things, including dropsy, intestinal worms, even a female filled with eggs and ready to spawn!>
My question is does dropsy sometimes produce this overall swelling?
<Just the abdomen. By definition, oedema/dropsy is retention of fluid within the body cavity. The head, back, tail should all be the same as usual, since the muscles aren't much affected.>
Could it be some sort of water exchange/retention issue? What would you recommend as a treatment?
<For now, nothing. If the fish is happy and healthy, I wouldn't worry too much.>
There is no signs of eyes popping or pine cone/fluffy scales
The fish has slowly increased in size over 4-5 weeks. Diet is a mixture of flake and blood worms. We have tried a pea with no success (in case of constipation)
The fish has now stopped eating - or eats very intermittently
<Again, the key thing is whether the fish is bigger around the belly, or longer and the larger more generally, from head to tail. If the belly alone is swollen, and this fish is the same length as the other Neons, then you may well be dealing with constipation, dropsy, Neon Tetra Disease or something.>
Water parameters are good -nitrate less than 10. Ph is 6.9 and although a small tank it has good filtration, weekly 30% water changes with a mix of RO/dechlorinated water (to maintain hardness) and the substrate is vacuumed weekly. The remaining 6 tetras (the only other fish) are doing fine
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Bariatric Neon Tetra   5/4/10
Thanks for the great site I have found it very helpful for both marine and freshwater tanks
<Good to know.>
I have searched your FAQs and other pages but cannot find an exact match for the problem.
We have a neon tetra that is significantly larger than normal i.e. at least twice the size of the tankmates While I have managed to find numerous references to bloated or swollen stomachs the associated pictures and
descriptions speak to very distended stomachs and bulging - this fish is large all over.
<Are you sure he's a Neon? Cardinal tetras are similar but a bit bigger all around. Conversely, Paracheirodon simulans, the so-called Green Neon, is somewhat more slender than the Common Neon Tetra, Paracheirodon innesi.
Also is he longer than the others, or just fatter? If the abdomen is substantially bulkier, but the length of the fish is the same as the others, that can imply a variety of things, including dropsy, intestinal worms, even a female filled with eggs and ready to spawn!>
My question is does dropsy sometimes produce this overall swelling?
<Just the abdomen. By definition, oedema/dropsy is retention of fluid within the body cavity. The head, back, tail should all be the same as usual, since the muscles aren't much affected.>
Could it be some sort of water exchange/retention issue? What would you recommend as a treatment?
<For now, nothing. If the fish is happy and healthy, I wouldn't worry too much.>
There is no signs of eyes popping or pine cone/fluffy scales
The fish has slowly increased in size over 4-5 weeks. Diet is a mixture of flake and blood worms. We have tried a pea with no success (in case of constipation)
The fish has now stopped eating - or eats very intermittently
<Again, the key thing is whether the fish is bigger around the belly, or longer and the larger more generally, from head to tail. If the belly alone is swollen, and this fish is the same length as the other Neons, then you may well be dealing with constipation, dropsy, Neon Tetra Disease or something.>
Water parameters are good -nitrate less than 10. Ph is 6.9 and although a small tank it has good filtration, weekly 30% water changes with a mix of RO/dechlorinated water (to maintain hardness) and the substrate is vacuumed weekly. The remaining 6 tetras (the only other fish) are doing fine
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery Spot on Tetra   4/13/10
Hello! I've perhaps got a bit of a dilemma and am hoping you can help me, depending on what this turns out to be. I apologize if I include too much information, I just want to make sure I get all the bases covered in case some obscure detail can give you a fuller picture as to what could be going on.
<Fire away!>
About 10 days ago I got 9 green neon tetras and put them in an already cycled tank for quarantine. They're all varied in size from as little as 1.5 cm to about an inch. The first few days I was mostly looking out for big signs of something wrong (dead fish, listlessness, Ich, etc.) but they all seemed to be schooling happily.
<Very good.>
By day 3 I noticed an Ich spot on the adipose fins of the two largest Neons and started a treatment of Quick-Cure and raised the temperature to 84 F.
However, this isn't the thing I'm worried about as the Ich is clearing up fine. One of the smaller of my tetras has a black blotch interrupting the neon stripe down its side.
<I see it.>
The spot is only on his right side. It doesn't seem to protrude or bulge from its side at all, and isn't the same as the small speckles I've seen in pictures of the "black spot" disease.
<"Black Spot Disease" really isn't any one thing, but a name given to a variety of similar complaints. These range from true parasitic infections, as seems to be the case with at least some marine and pond versions of the disease, through to ammonia burns. Fortunately, in all cases Black Spot Disease doesn't appear to be either contagious or deadly, at least not under good aquarium or pond conditions, and usually clears up by itself.>
The "spotted" fish doesn't shoal as much with the other Neons, and tends to wander off alone to hide in the fake plants. Other than the spot, all of his colors are vibrant. As far as I can remember, the black spot was there at least since I took him home, but I was watching out more for Ich than anything else that I can't remember quite straight. I'm a research junkie, and tried searching everywhere for what this could be but came up mostly blank. I am entirely frightened that this could be "Neon Tetra Disease", but I read that that usually appeared as white patches, though I did see one person on some obscure forum claim that black spots were a sure sign of the disease. I am now worried sick and can't stand to lose any of these little fish. What could this be?
<Doesn't look like Neon Tetra disease to me.>
I tried to take a photograph of the fish, but the camera was too slow to capture them. Instead, I found a photo of a green neon tetra online and "Photoshopped" on what the black splotch looks like. It's not his photo, but it looks exactly like my fish and his spot.
<Right. Well, assuming the fish is swimming and feeding normally, I wouldn't worry unduly. Isolation will do more harm than good. For now, observe and ensure optimal conditions. If these are Green Neons, Paracheirodon simulans, that means a temperature around 26-28 C and soft, slightly acidic water; in short, similar to what Cardinal Tetras need. Note that common Neons, Paracheirodon innesi, require cooler water, around 22-24 C, and do fairly well in moderately hard water. Cheers, Neale.>

Neon tetra. Hlth.   9/21/09
we have a neon tetra that looks poorly, it has frog eyes is very bloated.
<Indeed, seems very swollen.>
what is wrong ,water has been checked with API master kit and seems fine.
<Define "fine". Let's recap what Neons need. Firstly, the water shouldn't be too hard. Neons come from fairly soft water habitats, and above around 10 degrees dH, they simply don't do reliably well. Secondly, Neons come from relatively cool streams, and normal tropical temperatures can be a bit high. You're aiming for between 22-24 degrees C, which is ideal for Corydoras catfish by the way, which also prefer fairly cool conditions.
Finally, Neons are intolerant of ammonia and nitrite. You need consistently zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. There's no "safe" level above zero, whatever you might (mistakenly!) assume from some test kits.>
could it be pregnant
<No. This Neon is in a very bad way. While this doesn't look like Neon Tetra Disease (which usually causes fish to lose their colour) this fish certainly appears to have some type of infection. Broadly, it has what aquarists often call "Dropsy", which is really nothing more than a symptom rather than an actual disease. For fish that are this small, treatment is usually pointless, and euthanasia is required.
Certainly, isolate the fish (in another tank, not a floating trap) if you want try using an antibiotic, and while medicating, remember not to mix anything like nets or buckets between the display tank and the hospital
tank. Neons seem particularly prone to infecting one another, and very many people have experienced Neons dying off one at a time, a few weeks apart, until there are none. Poor environmental conditions in your tank may be part of the problem, but given the fact Neons are farmed very intensively to keep them cheap, if you bought these Neons within the last month or so, it's quite possible the blame rests with the retailer, wholesaler or the fish farmer. Personally, I don't rate Neons terribly highly because of this, and when only cheap farmed Neons are available, I recommend 6 weeks quarantine, without fail. Incidentally, the plant in the foreground looks like Acorus, a type of plant that won't live long underwater in a tropical
aquarium. Do review any plants you buy carefully: many inexperienced aquarists are sold non-aquatic plants such as Acorus, Dracaena, Spathiphyllum, Selaginella and others. It's such a common con that it's beyond a joke.
Cheers, Neale.>

Dying fish, FW.... Neons...  4/18/09
Hello again! It's me, L.L. (please call me Kiara) again.
<Hello Kiara,>
My Neon Tetras are hanging out near the surface nearly vertical, and one refuses to eat.
<Please, check two things. Firstly water quality. You should have a nitrite test kit at minimum, and you should detect zero nitrite. Secondly, check water chemistry. You should have a pH test kit at minimum. For Neons the precise value doesn't matter -- anything between 6 and 7.5 will do -- but the pH should be stable, i.e., the same thing, week-in, week-out. Neons need a tank not less than 10 gallons in size, and that tank needs a heater and a filter. Usually when Neons get sick it's either because of Neon Tetra Disease (which has very specific symptoms different to what you're describing) or poor water conditions (the symptoms of which match precisely what you're describing).>
The other keeps picking on it.
<When one Neon gets sick, it's common for the others to turn on it. The reasons for this are complicated and don't really concern us here, but suffice it to say that this allows infections such as Neon Tetra Disease to get from sick fish to health fish.>
It's showed interest in freeze-dried bloodworms, but the other gets to it first :(.
We recently found our years-old Mini Bow 2.5-gallon aquarium. It has a stand, hood with lighting (after I turned it off the filament kept flashing and the bulb exuded an "old plastic" smell- :)!), colored gravel, 2.5 Whisper Power Filter, 1 cartridge, carbon...you get the idea. (No air pump or heater, but my old thermometer says the water stays at 76 degrees.)
<Neons do prefer around 24 C/75 F, and one way people shorten their lives is to keep them too warm. That said, unless you house is kept centrally heated to 24 C all day long, an unheated tank isn't suitable. Thermometers are not terribly reliable, and more to the point, just because it's warm in the daytime doesn't mean it'll be warm at night, or when there's a draught from an open window. Tropical fish are tropical fish, and unless you live in the tropics, your house temperature will be too low.>
It also has a plastic plant and a little cave. I am currently using my male Betta to cycle the filter, but my swordtail (or whatever it is; it's black but its scales have a green shimmer and the fins are transparent. Its chest not its stomach is white. The anal fin was once rounded but over the 4 or so months I've had him/her it's become a pointy triangle, NOT a gonopodium!) has outgrown its ½ gal tank (it's 2" long now!).
<You're keeping a Swordtail in a 1/2 gallon tank? I'm surprised it's still alive, to be honest.>
It once spent at least 5 minutes drying out in the sink but miraculously survived and only lost one scale and a little of its tail. Could I use him instead to cycle my tank?
<Not unless you wanted it to get sick.>
And could I also add my male guppy? When would it be safe to remove them and add my guppy fry?
<You can move fry from the rearing tank to the display tank when they're too big for the fish in the display tank to eat. There's no simple answer to that because some community fish have bigger mouths than others. You have to be sensible. Around 3 months usually works out all right, but things like Angelfish can eat a 3-month Guppy without any hassle at all.>
Thanks a lot,
Kiara a.k.a. Livebearer Lover.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dead (and dying?) fish 4/27/09

Hi, thanks for such a cool site! (Yes, it's me again, Kiara. I'm such a pain, I know...)
<Hello again,>
Whoo, one of my Neons died horribly today (the fat one). He was in a 2.78 L Betta bowl with Oop, my thin tetra who is now eating again (Sorry, but I CANNOT get something bigger!) and my ever-pregnant guppy.
<Look, fish have a certain amount of space they need. 2.78 litres isn't going to work for anything much. Not even a Betta, let alone a Neon, or for that matter, a school of Neons. This isn't negotiable; if you don't have space for at least 10 gallons/37 litres, you shouldn't be keeping Neons.
Any further discussion on treatment, diseases, etc is a waste of everyone's time, because these fish can't live in the tank you've put them in. It would be as if you'd brought an Elephant home and wanted to keep it as an indoor pet. No matter how much you might love than Elephant and promise to look after it, there's no way on Earth it could be kept inside your house.
It's the same thing here: there's a difference between loving animals and looking after animals, and frankly animals don't want to be loved, they want to be looked after properly!>
He had still been eating but yesterday was swimming head down at a slant. I did a 100% water change today (which I never do but felt I had to.)
<100% water changes are rarely a good idea; normally one does 25% weekly, or 50% in emergencies.>
He was floating upside down in a corner, horribly bloated, with black spots on his stomach, and his eyes had actually popped out of his head!
<Blah, blah, blah... seriously, the aquarium is too small, and discussion of symptoms irrelevant. Neons need a bigger aquarium, with a heater and a filter. A 10-gallon tank would be acceptable.>
The other fish seem fine now. (My Guppy, Fatty, gave birth 3 weeks ago but now she is fat again and I can (just barely) see eyes in her stomach.
:):):)!!!) What do I do?
<Buy a bigger aquarium.>
Please help! I've researched Neon Tetras and had never heard of anything like this... :(...
<Perhaps because no-one has been misguided enough to keep Neons in such a small aquarium?>
Thanks again,
P.S. Maybe a WWM Forum could help you guys (and other people) out?
<We have one, here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dead (and dying?) fish, Neon Tetra Dis.  5/4/2009

Hi I am Kiara's Mom.
<Hello Kiara's Mom!>
We've got a bigger aquarium. 28 gallons.
But the filter came broken, so we only have the thermometer and heather, some plants. we saw her neon tetra discolored and with a bump in his tummy.
<Oh; what kind of "bump"? Fish don't tend to bruise easily, or rather, anything that would bruise something like a Neon would probably kill it first. So I'd be a bit open minded here. The two most likely problems are
these: Firstly, Neon Tetra Disease. This may in fact be more than one specific disease, but we'll pass that by for the moment. Neon Tetra Disease makes the Neon look like it's lost its colour, and it also tends to become lethargic and often hides away from the other Neons, as if scared. Its body becomes swollen, and eventually, this can look as if the fish is severely bruised. There's no cure, and these fish usually die within a few days.
Since the disease is contagious, it's important to remove them from other Neons; what happens is if the healthy Neons peck at the sick/dead Neon, they can catch the responsible parasite. Next up is what we might call "secondary bacterial infections". These are caused by a variety of things, but most commonly poor water quality or physical trauma. You can cure these using antibiotics, for example Maracyn, but this does assume the background reason is fixed; e.g., if water quality was poor, the fish is provided with better conditions as well as the medicine. I actually don't recommend Neons for beginners at all, and think a wide variety of other fish make much better (easier!) choices; see here:
So we decided to put him on a Tupperware floating on the aquarium for 30 min.s.. and then leave him there.
<Ah, this might not help much. A floating container of water will keep warm, yes, but it won't be filtered, so the ammonia the fish releases (equivalent to urine in humans) collects and gradually poisons the fish.
There's no reason to isolate a fish like this; either leave it in the tank, or move to another, heated and filtered, aquarium.>
Because of your email. We hope we made a good decision.
<Possibly not. I know this all seems frightfully complicated, but this is why we stress the importance of preventing health problems rather than curing them, and part of that is using a nice, big aquarium. Contrary to what the guy at the pet store might suggest, keeping fish isn't "child's play" and actually takes a little work. Maybe not so much as a dog or cat, but some work nonetheless.>
My daughter just turned 12 and she really take loves and take care of her animals.
<Quite right too!>
Is there an advice you can give us?
<Read! There is a nice primer, here:
<I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Neon Tetra with Ich and Pop/Cloudy eyes  8/30/08
I have a neon tetra with 1-2 spots of Ich and pop and cloudy eyes.
<Treat promptly for Whitespot and Finrot/Fungus. Here in England I'd be using eSHa 2000 and eSHa EXIT, medications for these complaints that are safe to use together. In your country the range of options may be different.>
I can also see white extended patches on his body.
<Well, if this is Neon Tetra Disease (Pleistophora) there isn't much you can do, but a combination Finrot/Fungus medication like eSHa 2000 would be if something less else.>
The fish is pretty strong, eats normally, swims normally and does not rub against rocks or plants. I isolated the fish in a hospital tank, but I'm wondering how I should treat it. I bought Melafix and a remedy for Ich,
<Melafix... largely useless.>
but I'm not sure which one I should use first. I'm also planning to buy food with antibiotics so that I can treat the intestines too. What do you suggest?
Thank you,
<Not a big fan of randomly treating for internal parasites unless there's evidence the fish is genuinely sick from them, and that's very difficult to judge. Antibiotics obviously have ZERO effect on the internal parasites that aren't bacteria, such as Pleistophora (a protozoan) and Camallanus (a Helminth) so again, you need to know what you're dealing with rather than randomly pulling stuff from the shelves and hoping for the best. Cheers, Neale.>

Tetras (Neons & cardinals) dying one by one in the dark in a planted aq.  8/7/08 I hope you can help. Please forgive the length, but I wanted to give you all the info I could think of. <OK.> 30g L, been up for about 8 weeks (cycled with seed filter from friends established tank), custom hood with AHsupply 96w CF bulb (3.2W/gal), eco-complete substrate mixed with fine gravel. Fluval 205 filter. Stealth 100W heater. <All sounds good.> Tank has the following plants (most of which are thriving): Cabomba (2 bunches of 5 stems each), Moneywort (4 bunches of 3 stems each), Melon Sword, Chain sword (just a baby), Microsword (2sq in patch), Ruffle plant, Wisteria (just finally establishing its fine submerged leaves - 1 bunch of 3-4 stems), Broad Ludwigia (1 bunch of 3-4 stems), small Java fern, small Anubias nana, and a large bunch (about 15-20 long stems) of Anacharis (from a friends established tank). Sounds crowded, but you'd be surprised how open it really still is. <At least some get pretty big -- Echinodorus osiris for example will quickly take over a 30 gallon tank if it thrives; mature plants can be 50 cm tall and 30 cm across! Echinodorus martii likewise.> To this there's the following fish: 5 spotted Corys, 6 Otos, 3 "mystery" snails, 6 zebra Danios, and originally 8 each Neons and cardinal tetras. <Right, well one issue here will be temperature. To wit, Neons prefer cool water, 20-24 degrees C; Cardinals need warm water, 25-28 C. There's no "happy medium" at which both can be expected to do perfectly well. Corydoras, Otocinclus and Danios are also cool-tropical fish, and will thrive at 20-24 C (I'd go for 22 C). But that's too low for the Cardinals. So one way or another, at least some fish are going to be heat or cold stressed.> The light is on a timer to cycle 6 hours on in the morning, followed by a 3 hour off break mid afternoon, then another 6 hrs on in the evening. Then off for the remaining 9hrs overnight. <OK.> All was well, the plants are thriving, the fish too. <Good.> Then I added the Anacharis about 2 weeks ago. Suddenly I'm missing cardinals and Neons overnight, just 1 or 2. at a time. Never noticed any trouble with the actions/attitudes of the tank mates, everyone pretty much sticks to their schools. But the losses continued. Everyone looked fine when the lights are on... healthy, active, feeding. It was great. Well it's a great mystery alright. <Well, Neons and to a lesser extent Cardinals can be plagued with "Neon Tetra Disease" and will drop off one by one until the cycle of infection is broken. But it is also possible the new plants brought in a predator, such as a Dragonfly nymph.> I finally started watching closer at night and I found that after the lights been off for about 90 minutes (+/- 15 minutes) I notice a gradual and frightening change. Both the cardinals and Neons lose nearly all coloration going nearly white/clear. <Quite normal.> Then one or two of them start going bonkers and lose their equilibrium swimming upside down, backwards and on their sides, barrel-rolls, tumbling end-over-end, etc., then death. <That is odd.> Turn the lights back on and gradually (within 20-40 minutes) all coloration has returned and activity resumes normally. <Ah, now, this is curious. Have you checked how pH is affected by photosynthesis? When plants photosynthesise they remove CO2 from the water, allowing the pH to rise. When they stop, CO2 accumulates and pH goes down. Alternatively, some (but only the minority) can perform "biogenic decalcification", and I believe Anacharis is one of them. What this means is that they remove carbonate and bicarbonate from the water as the source of carbon for photosynthesis instead of CO2. This is why these plants prefer hard water. Anyway, in the process the water loses its carbonate hardness and consequently its pH buffering capacity. The net result will be that pH will drop while these plants are photosynthesising, and the water pH will also become less stable with regard to other pH altering processes.> My water parameters have been rock solid since the beginning: Nitrite 0; Ammonia 0; Nitrate "nearly" 0; kH 5deg; GH 12deg; pH 7.6; chlor. 0. I've even tested right before and after a light cycle and saw no appreciable difference. Temp stays between 78.5 and 80.5F. <Do check the pH and carbonate hardness through the day to test my hypotheses above.> My thought were CO2 poisoning - but the zero change to pH leads me to believe the CO2 isn't reaching toxic levels. Second thought - The plants are using up all the available O2 (I'm not aerating) at night thereby starving the smaller, more sensitive tetras. So I added a small airstone to the corner of the tank and set a small air pump to kick on when the lights go out (my timer has day/night outlets). It didn't seem to help. <Leave CO2 off for a few days and see what happens. Won't harm the plants.> Last Saturday night was the worst, within 2-1/2 hours three tetras gone (down to 6 now, 2 cardinals & 4 Neons left), and all the fish (except the 5 Corys, 2 largest Danios, and 3 largest Otos) were pale. Even with nighttime aeration. <Hmm...> So as a stopgap measure I retooled the timer to cycle the light and dark to 3 hrs light, 2 hrs dark ('round the clock). Two nights of success now with no casualties... but even though there is the requisite "amount" of light and dark I cannot imagine the rapid time cycles are any good for either the fish or plants long-term. <It isn't good for the plants; they need a certain length of time simply too start photosynthesising, and 3 hours won't be enough.> My next attempt will be to get a larger air pump and drive an 18" bubble wand across the back of the tank rather than the small airstone driven by the smaller air pump. I know this will drive out more CO2 to the detriment of the plants (though probably not too much), but it should eliminate the worry of CO2 poisoning, and should add O2 in the dark for the plants and fish to (hopefully) share. Also, I'll be raising the filter spout up closer to the surface to provide a little more surface agitation (currently its about 2in below with no agitation). <Not sure this is the issue.> Finally, since this all started after adding the fastest grower in the largest number/mass plant-wise (the Anacharis). It's possible that plant addition might've pushed the balance over the edge with respect to CO2 and O2 respiration. So I'll be pulling that out and trimming it back to a more manageable (2-3 bunches of 4-5 "short" stems each) size. <Hmm...> Hopefully then I can gradually return to slowly extending the light/dark cycles to a more natural rhythm and keep my fish healthy and my plants growing. Any thoughts? other suggestions? etc? Anything I missed? Mark <Cheers, Neale.>

Borrowing Trouble(d Neon Tetras)... ...Or actually Purchased!   7/31/08 <Intriguing title> Hi I have been using this site for years when a question I cannot answer or am unsure of arises. However this is the first time I have found the need to inquire for help. I have been keeping freshwater fish for nearly eleven years. Started out breeding Fancy Yellow Guppies for my LFS, then graduated to breeding Bettas. After years (nearly six) of steady "work" tanks I decided to just have "pleasure" tanks. I currently have a fully planted 40 gallon with 7 Juli Cory Cats, 13 Rummy Nose Tetras, and 9 Tiger Barbs. This tank is great has been running for nearly three years with no problems. So the trouble. I decided to get a smaller tank and purchase a single Betta and just enjoy his beauty. I bought a 5 gallon eclipse tank from craigslist that was, I quote "fully stocked". This tank was Over Stocked. There are 9 Neon Tetras, 2 Juli Cory Cats (my interest!) and a single female Guppy, and does have live plants and a Lot of (pests) snails. Even having some clue as to what I was buying I decided that $20 was a great deal and took everything. <Ok> Now I have 9 Neon Tetras with varying degrees of tumors or lumps and all of whom have a dark reddish line along the bottom of their bodies. These Neons appear to be at least a year old as they are all 1"+. I have done lots of reading and think they may have Neon Tetra Disease, but do not want to rush such a dyer diagnosis. <Mmm, likely is this (Pleistophora hyphessobryconis) and possibly some other protozoan issue/s> The Julis' and the guppy look great and have been moved to my 2.5 gallon Quarantine tank. I plan to introduce the Juli Cory's into my 40 Gallon and take the female Guppy to my LFS as I have no desire to see her lonely or give birth! I had planned to keep the Neon's in the Community Tank also but now I do not know if they are curable. <Mmm, not as far as I'm aware> For now they are still in the 5 Gallon Hex I bought them in as it is the largest aquarium I have. The parameters are: pH 7 Ammonia about 1 (not 0) -after two 50% water changes in as many days. <Needs to be zero... Very toxic... though not likely a determinant issue here> Nitrite 0 Nitrate 10 What would you recommend I do about the Neons? <Mmm, please see below> I do not know if the 5 gallon will be large enough to safely treat them and do not know what they have. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, DB <I do hope/trust that your stated years of using our site will attest to our not being heartless concerning aquatic life welfare, but I would summarily euthanize this group of Neons... to prevent spreading the disease... as they are very likely untreatable. You could take a cursory scan on the Net to see if others have some potential cure... Bob Fenner> Re: Borrowing Trouble(d Neon Tetras)...   8/1/08 Thanks Bob, I was anticipating that answer. I have never had to euthanize nine fish at once before...I have only had to do this twice in my years keeping fish. <Never easy...> What is your personal preference to euthanize? <Likely Clove Oil... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasiafaqs.htm> I realize there are many ways, I'm just wondering if you have a "painless" method for both me and these poor Neons. Thanks again, DB <Welcome. BobF>

Ick/Whitespot  7/22/08 Hi Guys, I added five new baby neon tetra's to my tank recently - it seems the neon's have all developed Ick/Whitespot. I already had 6 Neon's 2 guppies and a Sailfin Molly - these all appear to be fine. <So far at least... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm Do review the needs of Mollies, and also be warned Neons may nip the fins of fancy male Guppies.> I have read your articles regarding ICK and just wanted to confirm your recommendation for best way to treat. <Promptly!> I was just going to buy meds and treat the tank with meds and regular water changes. However from reading through your site would you recommend increasing temperature and treating with Salt instead? <Makes no odds either way. I tend to use commercial medications such as eSHa EXIT (a brand I find works well even with sensitive species like puffers) because it's easier. But if you want to use salt/temperature, go ahead.> I have added salt before but never with the neon's only with mollies/guppies can my neon's tolerate salt? also my temp is at 80f already is it safe to increase the temp further? <Neons should tolerate the very low salt concentration required, particularly if you build up the salinity across a few days. As for raising the temperature, I wouldn't. Temperature is about speeding up the life cycle of the parasite; in itself it isn't a "treatment" as such. The idea is that the salt only kills the free living parasite, so the sooner that phase begins, the better.> Thanks in advance Scott <Cheers, Neale.>

The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras, env. dis.    6/18/08 Hello, <Ave Maria> I've read related posts, and I did see something about separating the loach and feeding him frozen or fresh foods to correct the problem, but I'd just like to make sure that this is correct for my situation, and to ask about another problem with our tank population. <Ok> To give a bit of background, we are currently recovering from a HUGE nitrate spike and battling high temperatures. Our nitrate level has gone from just over 100 to around 30. We know this is still way too high, but it's taking time to get it down with water changes. I'm so afraid we'll shock the fish. This is a 160L tank with quite a few plants, 5 angelfish, 15 neon tetras, 1 Hillstream loach, 1 rainbow shark, 1 plecostomus, and 4 clown loaches. We had 5, but one got very listless and soon died. Our tank stats currently are: pH: 6 KH: 5 GH: 14 NO2: 0 NO3: 30 <Still a bit too high> The current problem loach became very bloated overnight. The other three will cuddle with him from time to time, but when they go off to play, he just stays on his side in a little cave or next to a wall. He is breathing rapidly, and his gills seem a bit red. <Good description, clues> We don't have money for a quarantine tank right now, <Don't need this... just to fix the one they're in now> but we did put him in a clear plastic container with water from the tank. He was difficult to catch. We've also given him some thawed bloodworms. He looks healthy, aside from the bloating, which makes him look kind of pregnant. We've just noticed that he seems to have a little hole in his side, too. Is this the right treatment, or is he lost? <Not lost... not really a treatment... I'd return this fish to the main tank. Being in the container is worse> The other issue involves our neon tetras. We were told that our loaches would benefit from getting some frozen food once a week. My husband thaws the block in warm water, then adds it to the tank. The problem is that our loaches get none of it, since the tetras eat it ALL. Every single one ends up looking impossibly bloated and like they might explode. We've tried adding a bit more, but they just keep eating! Any ideas? <Try other sinking type foods, or placing in an inverted "blackworms feeder" on the bottom> Thanks for taking the time to read this. You guys are always so informative and quick to respond. Thank you! Maria and Ola <Fix the nitrates... the process of doing so will save your loach and other livestock. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras   6/18/08 Thanks! We were very worried about the little guy. We'll keep up our dilution plan until we get to an acceptable nitrate level, and then stick to a schedule of weekly quarter changes. The fish seem so much happier and more active after them. Thanks again! <Dilution is not the only, even likely best route to go. Please read where you were referred to. RMF> Re: The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras   6/19/08 We've already adjusted food amounts and begun vacuuming more often as well. We have a lot of plant life. We'll get to the LFS this weekend and see what we can do to implement the other recommended methods. Thanks again! <Ahh, welcome! Do please make it known how you progress here. Bob Fenner>

Re: The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras 06/28/08 Hi, Just an update. I've been sick, so there was a bit of a delay in going to the LFS. We have started treating with Tetra's Nitrate Minus, and more importantly, we bought and set up an external filtration system that has five stages of filter media. The fish are already looking more lively. Sadly, Bloaty didn't make it. We should know how well this is working by Monday. <Thank you for this update. Do take care. BobF>

Possible Disease? - 06/15/2008 To the crew of WetWebMedia: <Hello, Soojeong. Sabrina with you today.> I have had neon tetras for about a year (probably a bit more, but nonetheless); however, a problem stubbornly plagues my humble 20 gallon aquarium. When I first bought eleven neon tetras, seven survived after two weeks to be transferred out of the temporary tank and into my "main" tank. I had no problems so far; I figured that the companies churning out neon tetras in mass quantity had something to do with the near 40% mortality rate (maybe it was even a good deal considering some of the horror stories). <Though I'm sure there's tons of mass neon production, I believe some are still wild-caught as well.> I feel it necessary to mention here that the main tank had already been cycled (I cheated a bit and jump-started with a handful of gravel from my old 10-gallon tank) <Perfect.> and had its water treated and tested, as was the temporary tank. I put in some plants in to help deal with fish waste. A few weeks later, a bamboo shrimp and a candy striped Pleco joined the group. Everything seemed well and fine, save a few algae here and there. Life was good. Here my troubles began. <Uh-oh....> I looked in the tank about a month or two later to find a tetra dead. None showed typical Pleistophora (Neon Tetra Disease, god forbid) symptoms. Since the False NTD caused by bacteria also has similar symptoms as the actual NTD, I ruled it out. Okay. <Disease common names are worse than fish common names.... Mycobacteriosis has also been called Neon Tetra Disease.... sigh!> No loss of color (unless postmortem, half-eaten state still counts), no curvature of the spine... Although one or two fish wandered off alone, I didn't think too much into it. I was slightly alarmed at the slightly eaten body, since the other fish might be in danger of meeting the same end. And two weeks later, another died. Then another week or two, and another dead body. Then suddenly everything was fine. Until now, a full year later. Other than two tetras going through a constant cycle of developing enormous bellies and huge appetites to getting skinnier and eating normally, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. <Unless you changed your feeding regime, I'm a little concerned about the weight gain / loss that you saw....> No new fish were introduced. Today I woke up to three hungry tetras (possibly stressed from small group? I couldn't tell), and the body was nowhere to be seen. It couldn't have jumped out, since I have a full lid because of the bamboo shrimp and my Neons' odd habit of sometimes jumping out of the water to get at the fish flakes. I suspect the body had been eaten. <Quite possibly. It's also surprising how many nooks and crannies a body the size of a neon can be hidden in.> I was afraid to bring in new Neons in fear of infecting the new group or the old group. Was I foolish to do so...? <Foolish? Nah.> Either way, I didn't want dead tetras. In case it was some sort of an interspecies infection (although the Pleco is still fine), I fear to bring in new fish, and taking the tank apart... I would like to avoid it if I can. <Agreed.> Could it have been some sort of an internal parasite? <Mm, possibly. Really, there are countless possibilities.> But I can't see any irregularities in the Neons. Besides, I do not want to misdiagnose and kill, nor do I want to use Parasite-Clear and such since most warns against using it for crustaceans. <Yeah. I wouldn't want to use any medications in your main tank.> If I did use it, I would have to take my shrimp out of the main tank, and I don't know whether I can ever put the shrimp back in with the others, either. <A very valid concern. Any medications containing copper should not be considered for your tank, if you wish to keep shrimp. The best option is to remove any affected fish and treat in a separate system. Though, I gather the remaining fish are all asymptomatic?> If the shrimp is untreated and later put in the treated tank (is that even possible? after how much water changes?) <Again - don't use copper, and as far as water changes - well, I would give at least a few very large ones, and filter with carbon and PolyFilter before reintroducing invertebrates. But again, if avoidable, I wouldn't want to treat the main tank.> is there still a risk for a reinfection if it was bacterial or parasitic? <Well, since there's no clear way at this moment to tell what you're up against, there's no clear answer I can give you as to whether or not it may resurface. I would consider this within the realm of possibility.> To summarize: *20 gallon tank (tall); 1 bamboo shrimp (planning to get another soon if possible), 1 candy striped Pleco (still small, but I am planning to get a bigger tank later on), 3 neon tetras. *Sudden death of neon tetras, no previous symptoms shown; possibly clusters of deaths with incredibly long intermittent periods in between (unlikely, most likely a second infection from unknown source, perhaps?) <I would guess that the two problems were unrelated.> I would appreciate any advice you have. <Note also that the environment may be key here. Neons don't "like" hard water with a high pH. They thrive in very soft, acidic conditions. If your water is hard and alkaline, this should also be considered as a contributing factor in the health of the Neons.> P.S. Pardon me, I ended up writing a short story. I hope it didn't take up too much of your time. <Actually, I really appreciate your detail.> Thank you very much for your efforts. <And thank you for your kind words.> Soojeong Kim <Wishing you and your fishes well, -Sabrina>

Question about spot on neon's mouth  3/26/08 Hi folks, I have a 10-gallon tank with a male Betta, two neon tetras, a frog, and two algae eaters (the kind that stay little, not sure of the name). They have all lived together for several months. I clean the tank every other week, this usually keeps the nitrates under 10. <Neons need to be in groups of 6 or more; in smaller groups they are stressed and unhappy. Please note that fish couldn't care less about cute names. But what they want is that you work around their biological needs. In the case of Neons, that means company! Keeping them in too-small a group is animal cruelty, however you choose to rationalise it.> One of the Neons (Zippity) has a dark spot on his lower lip. I recently had a problem with stringy algae and thought he may have gotten some stuck on his mouth, but it hasn't come off in a couple of days. He is able to eat. Should I put him in the hospital tank in case he is sick and could pass it along to the others? <No. It may simply be physical damage, in which case it will heal. But do also be aware that things like Mouth Fungus and Finrot can start as small blisters or sores. So as ever, check your nitrite level before you do anything else.> Also, should I be adding aquarium salt to the tank? <No. Almost all fish diseases come down to water quality issues. Almost none come down to not using salt!> I don't now because I thought I read that Neons don't like salt, but did read that it's good for disease prevention. <They don't and it isn't.> Thank you! Alice <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: question about spot on neon's mouth Thank you for the advice. I will keep a close eye on the spot. The two Neons are the last two from a school - I will make sure they find a new home with other Neons as soon as he recovers. <Very good. Good luck, Neale.>

Schooling Advice... Neon Tetras   2/10/08 I recently e-mailed you guys about my school of diminishing neon tetras. After hearing from you guys that Neons are poor quality most of the time in large stock and from my own experience, I think Neons are just too much of a hassle and a waste of money because of there very short longevity. Currently there is 1 dwarf Gourami, 2 blue gouramis, 1 gold Gourami, and 4 rainbow sharks in my 55 gallon aquarium along with about 5 remaining neon tetras. Here's my question though. What do you think would be a good schooling fish. I was thinking about tiger barbs, but if you can think of something better that'd be great. I plan to just put my remaining Neons up for adoption at the petstore as I did with my crayfish. Thanks for you help and advise. <Jonathan, given you were keeping crayfish with the Neons, I'd not be too quick to blame the Neon's demise on poor health. In addition, it is absolutely essential you eliminate environmental factors before apportioning blame. So do a pH test and a nitrite test, and check your filter is still working properly and not clogged up. Obviously if the water isn't that great, *any* new fish you add are likely to suffer. Fish that have been established in a tank for many months will often seem happy enough in such tanks because they've slowly adapted to those conditions. But any new fish will be used to the water quality/chemistry at the retailer's tank, and will get stressed or killed by being dumped in entirely different conditions in your tank. In any case, Tiger Barbs would be a poor choice for a tank with Gouramis because Tiger Barbs are fin-nippers. So to are Serpae tetras, Black Widow (Petticoat) tetras, and several other small characins. Read up on any species carefully before you make a purchase. I happen to consider Bleeding Heart Tetras among the best all-around characins: they are pretty, quite big, constantly chasing each other but completely peaceful towards tankmates. They are also hardy and too fast for aggressive or nippy fish to bother (mine live in a tank with puffers and have NEVER been nipped). Australian Rainbowfish are also very reliable choices, especially if you have hard water. Cheers, Neale.>

Dying Tetras  2/10/08 I have been reading through your site and couldn't get a definite answer about my dying neon tetras. So I was wondering about my neon tetras. I recently added 12 neon tetras to my old school of 5. So my school of 17 looked awesome, but then I lost half of my school in a few days. <This seems to happen quite often with Neons, and is one reason I have stopped keeping them and don't recommend them. The quality of the mass produced stock is fairly poor, and I suspect depends a lot on the use of antibiotics. As soon as the fish arrive at the retailer, the antibiotics wear off and the fish become increasingly sensitive to opportunistic infections. This may be aggravated by the fact most people keep Neons far too warm; in the wild their preferred temperature range is 22-25 C, so compared with most other tropical fish, they need something a little cooler. Failing in this regard may be stressing them, leading to greater sensitivity to infections. Pleistophora ("Neon Tetra Disease") may also be prevalent. Although more expensive, Cardinal tetras strike me as being better value.> The aquarium is 55 gallons and my water parameters are fine except for pH which may be a little high (7.6). <Well within their tolerances; if acclimated, Neons have been know to do well at up to pH 8, 30 degrees dH! Water quality and temperature are probably much more significant issues.> Ammonia is 0ppm, nitrites are 0ppm, and nitrates are about 10-20ppm. My other fish in the aquarium are 1 dwarf Gourami, 2 blue gouramis, 1 gold Gourami, 4 rainbow sharks. I also have 4 crayfish in my tank, biggest on is about 3 inches long max. I am thinking maybe they are catching my Neons and eating them. <Crayfish will indeed eat small fish. Under no circumstances can crayfish be considered safe additions to the community tank. While it is true crayfish are mostly herbivores in the wild, in aquaria they can easily catch small fish. Because Neons sleep close to the bottom of the tank, crayfishes could easily catch and eat them.> I actually saw one snacking on a tetra but not sure if he caught him. It might also explain why I only actually see a few of my Neons dead while the other ones are just not there. <Do check for signs of Pleistophora: Infected Neons lose their colour, become shy, stay away from the group, and often hide under plants. A few days later they're dead. Pleistophora is highly contagious once the fish is moribund or dead because opening the body cavity (e.g., as other fish eat the corpse) allows the parasites to swim into the water. The only way to effective stop Pleistophora is to remove infected fish on sight. They should be painlessly destroyed, as there is no reliable cure, and certainly not once the disease because sufficiently entrenched that you can tell the fish actually has it.> They didn't jump out of the tank because I have a very tight fitting canopy and there's no dried up tetras on the carpet. One more thing too, if my pH is to high I was thinking about using water from a local spring in which the pH is about 6.4, and no ammonia, nitrite or nitrates. I would also run it through my deionization filter to make sure any harmful things would be removed. I would greatly appreciate your help and advise. <Mixing soft water with hard water out the tap is fine. I do this by mixing rainwater with tap water to good effect. Filtering the spring water or rainwater through carbon will remove any nasties, but generally such water sources are at least as safe for fish as tap water, perhaps more so. In any case, do always remember to make water chemistry changes slowly, perhaps doing 25% water changes each week until you reach the desired level of hardness and acidity. Now, the crayfishes will not like soft water. They need to be removed anyway, but just as a heads-up, in common with all crustaceans, "the harder the better" in terms of healthcare. Also remember that as hardness drops, so does pH stability, and many is the aquarist who's softened the water in their tank only to discover the pH suddenly drops between water changes. I'd not take the hardness below 10 degrees dH. Remember: fish don't care about pH, so long as its stable; what matters is *hardness*, as that directly influences osmoregulation. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ceramic media, air pumps... Actually Neon Tetra... dis., repro.   09/13/07 Hello Neale, <Hello Giuseppe,> as you know I have 2 adult Neons in my tank. One of them has a larger abdomen compared to the other one, so I assume I have a male and a female. <Indeed. According to Baensch, the difference is also seen in the shape of the blue line: on males it is straight, on females it is bent. But I can't see any difference!> Now, I noticed that every 6-8 weeks the female becomes even larger and tends to eat much less and spend most of the day in a quiet spot of the tank. This situation lasts for about 10-15 days, after which her abdomen goes back to normal and she starts eating normally. <Odd.> Do you think that she might have eggs during the time she's more swollen and doesn't eat much? <Sounds plausible enough. Do keep an eye out for Neon Tetra Disease though: key symptoms are shyness, loss of appetite, and loss of colour. Then they die! NTD is unfortunately very common.> If this is the case I would be very fascinated in trying to breed the two Neons. I read that it's pretty challenging, but that experience would be extremely exciting for me, considering also that neon tetra is one of my favorite fish. <I'm not sure it's "difficult" per se, since these fish are bred in their millions on fish farms. The problem for most aquarists is Neons only breed in very soft water. The other big mistake people make with Neons is to keep them too warm; while they aren't subtropical fish, 26C (79F) is the top of their preferred thermal range, and for breeding they only want around 24C (75F). When kept in hard, overly warm water they just won't spawn, or if they do, the eggs become fungused.> Do you also have any good web site where the breeding process for Neons is described in detail? <Is there nothing here at WWM? Breeding Neons follows the same basic pattern as most other tetras. Soft (<2 dH), acidic water (5-6); low light levels (i.e., no lights, lots of shade); little to no water movement; and benthic plants like Java moss to catch the eggs. Sunlight can be a good spawning trigger. Eggs hatch in one day, free swimming 3-4 days later, when they take Artemia nauplii and the like. If you're interested in fish breeding, there's an excellent book by Chris Andrews called 'Fish Breeding'. It's my bible for fish breeding. You can usually pick up used copies on Amazon and the life for a dollar or two.> Thank you, Giuseppe <Good luck, Neale>
Re: Ceramic media, air pumps... Actually Neon Tetra... dis., repro.   09/13/07
Neale, <Giuseppe,> I just bought that book. I was thinking about what you said about the water conditions needed to breed neon tetras and I have a couple of questions: 1 - Currently the tank where they live has a temperature of 78F and PH at 7.0. If I setup a second tank with lower temperature and acidic water, wouldn't the Neons have a shock when I move them from one tank to the other one? <Small water temperature changes don't harm freshwater fish; indeed, they are often important spawning triggers. If you're moving the fish from one tank to another, then doing the normal thing of placing the fish in a bucket of "old" water and dribbling in the "new" water over 30 minutes will not only adapt them to the new water chemistry but the water temperature too. If you're taking the fish across a dramatic water chemistry change, e.g., from hard water to very soft water, you would probably be wise to fill the breeding tank with hard water and then do soft water changes of around 20% each day until the water chemistry had changed over completely. Do also remember that very acidic water doesn't support biological filtration. You will need a small air-powered box filter filled with ammonia-remover for such a tank. There's a good argument for not filtering the tank while the parents are actually spawning and when the eggs are sitting in the moss. Only start the filter back up once the fry are free swimming.> 2 - If the Neons have to be kept in dark conditions but with plants in the tank, wouldn't the plants die for lack of light? <Yes, if you kept the lights off all the time. What you're aiming for is to put the Neons in the tank for a week, and once settled down, turn off the lights so the tank only gets natural light, and once they've laid their eggs and the fry are free swimming, turn the (subdued) lights back on. Regardless, the level of lighting should be low, and the peat extract in the water will make it quite murky. Java Moss will tolerate this regime fine. I have one tank that simply receives natural light from a window and the Java Moss has gone wild. Baby fish love the stuff, because it collects detritus and micro-organisms that they can eat. There's obviously a balance between having a nice rich microflora and a dirty tank though! Some people skip plants and use synthetic mops of various types, home-made (boiled dark-coloured yarn, teased into threads and then knotted) or purchased. There are really many options.> 3 - How long does it typically take from when the Neons are moved to the breeding tank to when they actually spawn? <No idea, never done it myself. Typically fish take a few days to settle into a spawning tank, but once there, if they're mature enough to breed, they will do so almost at once. The key thing is conditioning the female: lots of live foods so that she gets nice and fat.> Thank you, Giuseppe <Cheers, Neale>

Neon Tetra with mouth stuck open.   6/21/07 Hi All, > I'm Fran and this question really does what it says on the tin. We have a neon tetra who appears to have his mouth wedged open. He sort of inhales smaller food particles so he's not starving, but it looks painful. My other half reckons it's just because he's old, and he does not seem the type of fish to leap about and injure himself, but I do not know what else could have done this and what I can do to help him. Many thanks on behalf of myself and Tetra, F. <Hello Fran. This does sometimes happen, and usually when I've seen this on tetras it is because of a congenital deformity. Sometimes larger fish, like cichlids, dislocate their jaws when fighting. But that's unlikely to be the problem here. I'm not sure how a neon might damage its jaw to this degree, at least, not without something obvious, like mouth fungus, setting in first. Since the fish is feeding and otherwise healthy, I wouldn't worry about it too much. FYI, Neons should live for around 3-4 years in aquaria, if that helps you decide whether he's "old" or not. Cheers, Neale.>

Neon tetras--strange growths   4/24/07 Thanks for an excellent resource! I did peruse the FAQs before sending, and cropped and reduced the attached photos. <Good> In general, my 20 g long tank is fine. It's a planted tank (java ferns, dwarf sag, Christmas moss, Monoselium tenerum) with 1 SAE, a number of "wild cherry" shrimp (Neocaridina denticula sinensis) and 12 neon tetras. I've had some of the Neons for  a couple of years; I added 6 a few months ago. The tank in general is doing well. The younger Neons spawn regularly ( I just saw them doing it a few minutes ago.) I was about to test the water for pH before I sent this e-mail, but found I was out of reagent. It usually tests around neutral in the tank, out of the tap it's usually 8.0, but I have the tank on DIY CO2. <Very good> The temperature is usually at about 73 F, but they've been goofing with the A/C in my office building, so now its a bit cool (70 F.)  Anyway, some of the older Neons have this strange growth as you can see in the picture. It started months ago on one of them, but didn't/doesn't grow very quickly at all, and at first did not seem to affect other fish in the tank, but as you can see, that has recently changed. It often seems to start as a small growth on the mouth, and then shows up elsewhere. There are about 6-7 Neons in the tank that are unaffected, and about the same number that are, to varying degrees. I have a tank at home that stays in the low 80s (we live in Hawaii, no A/C at home) <Am out on the Big Island currently... mauka of Kona... at about 1,400 feet elevation... as many folks do here for moderation of seasonal temp.> with white clouds in it. I was wondering...would it be a good idea to swap tanks? <Mmm, yes> I know the Neons like it warmer, and the white clouds like it cooler... but would it be better to put a heater in this tank, rather than risk infecting the white clouds with whatever this growth is? <I don't think this growth, condition is "catching" from the Neons to Tan's fish...> Once again, thanks for an excellent resource! I appreciate your help tremendously!! Rus Wilson <Thank you for writing, sharing... I would switch out these two fish groups... I strongly suspect that the better part of the older Neon condition is largely age-influenced... They only live a few years... And would not attempt actual treatment/s other than to move them to the warmer setting. Bob Fenner>

Seemingly Incurable Mouth Fungus   3/11/07 Hello,   <Hi there Theresa>   I was hoping to find some advice to treat an apparent case of mouth fungus on one of my neon tetras.  My tank is 30 gals with a 7" Pleco, 2 Serpae tetras, 2 emerald eye tetras, 3 high fin black tetras and 5 Neons. <Mmm, with such a nice mix, I do hope your water quality sides on the warmer, more soft and acidic side> About three weeks ago, one of my Neons developed what I think is mouth fungus on one side of his mouth. <Mmm, actually funguses are rare... more likely bacterial in nature, and resultant (if only one specimen afflicted) from a physical trauma...> I treated it with MelaFix <Worthless> as per the instructions removed carbon and daily treatment for 7 days (I can tell from your site MelaFix is not one of your favourites!) <For me, you are correct>   No results,  so I treated once again after a 7 gal water change.  I still had no improvement in this fish but no other fish seemed to get sick.  I know (also from your site) that I should have a quarantine tank but unfortunately space does not allow for me to have 2 tanks!  I spoke with my LFS and they recommended the Maracyn. <I do as well.... Erythromycin otherwise known as> I have treated twice with this medicine over the period of about 2 weeks and still no improvement.  I have now noticed that one other neon has a small white spot near his mouth.  Is there another medicine or technique that you could suggest? <Mmm... the next most likely effective, and safe... Maracyn II, Minocycline> Along with the Maracyn, the LFS recommended that I raise the temp in the tank (it is now about 80) <I also agree here> and I also added some salt <Mmm, no... Definitely not. None of the fish species you list has much tolerance for this> which I was unaware was needed in a freshwater tank.  I am not sure what to do next so I was hoping for some insight from your website.      Thanks in advance for your help in this matter.  I know these are only Neons and I would really like to see them get better but I don't want to lose my tank population either.      Theresa <Do raise the temperature, to the mid eighties F., and try the Maracyn II... Bob Fenner>
Re: Seemingly Incurable Mouth Fungus II
  3/11/07 Thank you for the info and most of all the quick response! <<Bob answered your original querya "you're welcome" on his behalf. Lisa Brown here.>> It is greatly appreciated by me and the tank.  I have started to raise the temperature to the mid80s and I am now on my way to try and find the Maracyn II.  I really hope this will save the affected fish.   <<Likely will.  Be sure to keep pristine water conditions as well.>>    Just a few more questions - should I do a water change before I begin the next treatment and if I cannot find the Maracyn II should I try another treatment with the regular Maracyn? <<Yes to the water change (~25%).  You should have no trouble finding Maracyn II. Either at your LFS, or online from a number of vendors.>> Thanks again, Theresa <<Glad to help Theresa. Lisa Brown.>>
Re: Seemingly Incurable Mouth Fungus II  03/15/07
So, I am on the 4th of the 5th day of treatment with the Maracyn II and there is no improvement in the fish.  My water has become quite cloudy (I did remove the carbon prior to the treatment) and it seems to have a yellowish tinge for some reason. <Medication effects> One of the other Neons has a small spot on its mouth also.  I did a few tests on the water quality and the ph is about 7.2 and it tested as being on the hard side.      Do you have any more advice for me as I am not sure where to go from here? <A microscope, reference works...> Do a water change and start another treatment with something else or should I keep with the Maracyn II as the fish has been sick for awhile and maybe it will take 2 treatments?  As you can tell I am grasping at straws!      Thanks again.   Theresa <I would continue to monitor water quality... finish the Antibiotic treatments... and read. Bob Fenner>

Molly and Neon Tetra Health Questions, env.  3/16/2007 Dear WWM crew, <Ching> I love your website and learn a lot from here. Thank you. <Welcome> I have a 15 gallon tank with 2 Cory catfish, 3 black mollies and 7 neon tetras. <Mmm... the Cats and Neons like very different water conditions than the mollies... soft, acidic, much warmer... no salt...> Environment: Water PH: 8.0 (Our tap water is pretty hard.) <I'll say! About the same here in San Diego> Temperature: 25~26 C Nitrate: 20~40 ppm <Way too high... a source of stress...> Nitrite: 0 ppm Ammonia: 0 ppm One male molly has "obvious" mouth fungus and noticeable grey spots on his body. As I heard Cory catfish and neon tetra do not like salt, I did not add aquarium salt to the tank. <Good> I used Melafix and Pimafix together to treat the black molly. The second day and third day I could see the improvements and thought the medicine worked great. <Mmmm> As the medicine indicated we can use it when intruding new fish to the tank, so while during the course of Molly's medication (on the fourth day, I think) I added 4 neon tetras to the tank. The 7 neon tetra were doing fine and schooling around together. The black molly seemed to be getting better too. However, yesterday (the 8th day of the medication) black molly's mouth started to show the fungus again and I saw a couple of grey spots on his body. Should I use other medicine, stronger one? Or I should continue the ones I am using? <I would separate the molly/mollies, treat it/them with salt... Keep it in another setting> Today (the 9th day) I saw a red spot on one neon tetra's body, which is near the tail. I am not sure what it is an have no idea what I should do. It looks like human's bruise just the color is red not purple. Anything you could suggest? <Yes... to modify their water chemistry (w/o the Mollies present)... to be softer/more acidic (pH below 7.0)...> I have had this tank just for two months and enjoyed it a lot. But, there's still so much to learn to keep my fish healthy. <Lots of valuable lessons about life...> Thank you again for all the information you provide on the site. It is really helpful! Yours truly, Ching <A pleasure to help you, Bob Fenner>

Next line-up: The neon tetras.   1/19/07 For some reason, a little guy dies off in this tank. The first to fall I feel died because of shock. The second one I feel ate too much (this one was so quick at eating, he ate all the flakes before the others could get it. then he just went haywire and died.) Last night, the larger of the neon tetras (others about .75 inch) died. He was an inch in length and I thought he'd be able to take care of himself. He didn't seem to overeat and I thought he would have gotten his fair share. I came back and he was dead (the ghost shrimp had their way as he dropped). The water was fine - just tested - no one was attacking him, and he wasn't showing any previous signs of weakness or illness. What could it be? Granted I stepped out to research more on their natural behaviors, I came back and he was shrimp meat. <Likely an internal parasite, disorder> I know the frog is too slow to touch a tetra and the shrimp wouldn't have been able to hold on to a live tetra, so what happened? How long do these guys usually live for and how hardy are they? <Mmm, two to four or five years... Cardinals are a bit longer-lived> I have the worst luck with these (this being the third) and feel like he may have just been in bad shape from the pet store - (they have just passed their first week and a half of captivation with me). I know these guys get shipped in horrible conditions and it stays that way until they find a new home. should I just expect a fraction of the group to die given previous stress? <Likely so>

Blue Neon Tetras : Old or ill?  - 05/09/06 Hi, <<Hello, Francesca. Tom with you.>> I am a first time poster on this site - you seem a lot less smug than other sites and I would appreciate help rather than finger pointing!   <<I lost whatever "smugness" I may have had years ago. :) As for "finger pointing", let's see what you have to tell us.>> I have a 95 litre tank which happily (usually) houses 8 blue Neons and cardinals, 3 black tetras, 3 glass catfish, 3 swordtails, 2 small albino Corys, 1 golden sucking loach (who knows his place and is not a bully), 1 upside down catfish, 1 fat apple snail and two small but adult silver sharks who we inherited with the tank.  Some were residents of the tank when we took it on (the bigger ones) and others have been added over the course of about a year.  We are expecting a new tank, about double the capacity, very soon, since we are aware that the silvers require more space really. <<Excellent. If you could "lock down" the specific species of "shark" that your "Silvers" are, we could add a little more detail. For example, what are known as Silver-tip Sharks (among other names) require vastly different water conditions than the other fish in your current tank need. Might be a problem down the road...>> They have all been cohabiting merrily for a number of months now.  They get about 15 to 20 per cent of their water changed on a weekly basis, are regularly dosed with salts and their new water is dechlorinated at every change.  The PH remains at roughly 7, the ammonia level as of last night was 0.25ppm, the nitrite level was negligible and the nitrate level (whilst higher than I would like it) was at an apparently safe 35ppm. <<Okay. Ammonia levels and nitrite levels above "0" are not good. (I'll get to this later since it has a direct bearing on your question.) Nitrate levels are "safe" up to 40 ppm for "some" fish. Others can't tolerate these levels over a sustained period. Cichlids, for instance, require low levels of nitrates as some diseases attributable to nitrates are known.>> The problem is this.  Three of the blue tetras seem to be unwell.  They are showing black discolouration on random areas of their bodies, although this does not appear to be fungus or algae, but rather a genuine change in colour.  They do not seem to be wasting away or becoming thinner, but instead seem to be kind of lumpy, again in random areas. <<Black discoloration can be a sign of chemical burning, i.e. from ammonia/nitrite exposure, that is actually in the process of healing. Usually, this will occur around the gill plates. The change in normal coloration can be expected when a fish is stressed.>> With the exception of one they are schooling, swimming and feeding as normal, but one is showing possible swim bladder issues.  He is twirling and swimming on his side, and avoiding the company of the others.   <<Again, this can be due to stress and toxic poisoning. Some fish are more "susceptible" than others.>> I have looked at a number of sites with partial descriptions of these symptoms, but nothing complete.  They are showing some symptoms of Neon Tetra Disease, but lack the significant seeming white discolouration.   <<I would discount this. From personal experience, your fish would be dying/dead right now. Trust me.>> I do not know how old they were when we bought them, but they were fully grown.  They were brought from an aquarist shop specifically chosen because they seemed to care about the welfare of their livestock over that of their profit, but I did not ask their age at the time of purchase. <<No worries. I'm glad you found someone to trust.>> Are my fish ill? <<In part, I would say that they are.>> If so, is there anything I can do to help them? <<Easiest treatment in the world. Water changes. Get the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels down. Start with a 50% water change (40 litres). Also, check your filtration. Don't believe that a filter rated for 90-100 litres will actually do the job. Oversize it, as you should with your new tank.>> Are they just old? <<Perhaps, but there are still things you can/must do.>> They are small, so I suppose they have a limited number of heartbeats like the rest of us! <<That's why I don't exercise, Francesca. I don't want to use up the heartbeats I have left! :)>> Please help me as I really do not like seeing my boys ill, Francesca <<Hopefully, I have helped. Best of luck. Tom>> Re: Blue Neon Tetras : Old or ill?  - 05/09/06 Hi Tom, <<Hello again, Francesca.>> Many thanks for all your help.  You have no idea how relieved I am that we can probably discount NTD.   <<Very glad to be able to help. Having had personal experience with NTD, I know exactly how relieved you are.>> We will get on with those water changes, and have found a nitrate/nitrite (and, by definition, ammonia) teabag thingy for the filter. <<If I may, Francesca, rely on the water changes rather than your new filter insert. I suggest this because you don't want to starve the bacteria that feed on ammonia and nitrites. There is an "irony" here, which is that these filter media will work. The downside is that they may not let your tank reach its "potential" so as to become "self-sustaining". Your parameters aren't so far out of line that you have an "emergency" on your hands. The long-term benefit of letting things run their course is that you won't have to "toy around" with your tank. Much easier on you in the long run.>> We will upgrade the filter ASAP.  The deal we have seen on the tank includes a filter so we may be able to upgrade this at that point. <<This sounds very good. I love upgrades! :)>> Thanks again for setting my mind at ease. Fran <<Happy to do so, Fran. Tom>>

Non-cottony mouth fungus on blue tetra? Also, black neon with balance problem  - 5/5/2006 Hi crew! <<Hi, Helen.>> (Before I begin, the tank details: 15-gallons (12" * 12" * 24"), quite densely planted, no CO2, nearly a year old, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, nitrates usually under 5 ppm (and always under 10 ppm), temperature 27 C, pH 6.5 (tap water used for water changes has pH of 7.5), 20% water changes once per week. Stocked with 3 Danios, 3 black neon tetras, 2 silvertip tetras, 2 blue tetras, 1 Otocinclus. Fed once per day, alternately with flake and tetra granules, with bloodworms or daphnia once per week.) <<All sounds excellent, Helen. Great job on the care and feeding.>> I have two new blue tetras who've been in my 15-gallon planted tank for about a month now (they went through two weeks of quarantine first, following your excellent advice!). <<Our advice isn't worth much without folks like you who make the effort to follow it. :)>> One of them has settled in beautifully (chases around the Danios, who are three times his size!), but the other one is far more retiring - he seems to pick a spot away from the other fish and lurk in it, changing his hideaway every week or so. In the past two weeks, I've noticed that he's developed a light, dull patch just above his mouth, on his "nose". I immediately thought "mouth fungus!"... but the pictures I've found online show that the symptom of this is a fluffy, cottony growth. His patch is light-coloured, but flat and smooth. Could this be mouth fungus, or something else? <<I would be thinking that this is more like a "scuff" or abrasion. Enough to change the coloration but not a physical trauma to be concerned about.>> I'm a little concerned by his lethargy, but he doesn't gasp or hang at the surface, and comes out from his hiding place in a great hurry whenever food is introduced to the tank (he's eating very well). Apart from the white patch, his general colouration is vibrant and shiny. I can't pinpoint when the patch first appeared, but having been watching it for 2 weeks it doesn't seem to have become bigger or changed texture. <<I've mentioned this in other responses and will again here. It's always a good sign when a fish feeds and particularly good when its appetite is strong like your fish is demonstrating. I would attribute the hiding and seeming lethargy to "shyness" more than anything else. Personally, I've got fish that all but jump into my hand when I feed them and others (same species) that sort of lay back waiting for the food to come to them. All are healthy but display different kinds of behavior.>> Do you think it would be a good idea to put him back in the quarantine tank for a course of antibacterial treatment? Unfortunately, I don't have access to medicated food in the UK. <<I don't see any need for this right now, Helen. In fact, I don't think it would be a good idea from the standpoint of handling and trying to re-settle the fish in a new environment so soon.>> Also, my oldest black neon tetra (had him nearly as long as the tank, and he's now about 2" long) has always hung at a bit of an angle, but over the past few months it has become more pronounced - he now hangs at a 45-degree angle, nose-up, when stationary! When moving around, he can swim normally. He's active and eats well, but I'm worried that when stationary he does seem to have to work his fins quite hard to stay in one place (he looks as if he'd tail-slide backwards and downwards if he stopped beating his fins). No list in the horizontal plane, though. I'm assuming that this is a swim-bladder problem, and what I've read suggests that these are very difficult to treat. Would it be worth trying him with a quick course of antibacterial medication anyway? <<No. Never a good idea to treat for something that can't be positively identified (or as close to it as humanly possible). I've got one lone survivor out of 12 from a disastrous bout of Neon Tetra Disease (had them all in quarantine, thank goodness, and he spent an additional four or five weeks in "solitary" afterward) who displays the same type of swimming behavior. Perfectly normal otherwise but always seems a little "nose-up" when stationary. I'm not concerned and I don't think you should be, at this point, either.>> Thank you very much for your time, and your excellent site! Helen <<I hope I've helped lessen your concerns, Helen. You're doing a wonderful job. Tom>>
Non-cottony mouth fungus on blue tetra? Also, black neon with balance problem - 05/05/2006
Thanks for the advice and encouragement, Tom! Though... maybe it was a little _too_ much encouragement... a simple trip to LFS to get more water conditioner somehow ended up with us walking out with a new 8-gallon heated tank, an armful of plants, and a splendid little blue/green Betta (we'd been talking about getting one for a couple of weeks - and doing the research - so it wasn't _completely_ an impulse purchase... but it wasn't what we went to the store for!). Multiple tank syndrome beckons... <<Oh, stop! I've a 20-gallon tank lying fallow right now that's virtually "screaming" for inhabitants. (I can hear it calling me as we speak, in fact!) Seriously, I'm glad I could help. (Hmmmm... A couple of Bolivian Rams, perhaps.) :)>> Helen <<Tom>>

Neon Tetra help needed  - 03/28/06 Hi. <Hello>  I have 5 neon tetras, 3 Zebra Danios and now 3 Fancy Guppies (1 female and 2 male) with about 7 fry hiding (mom died)<Sorry to hear that>.  When I bought my Tetras they were all fine until the next morning.  1 had lost its color from midway on back and was swimming funny (like it was drunk).  It has now regained its coloring and swims better.  However, it goes in fits of twirling about (fast circular movement; head down) and other times I can't tell which one it is in the school.  What is wrong with it (maybe got injured on the way home)?  I grew up (25 years) with Tetras (as well as the other types) and have never seen anything like this.  Do I need to remove it from the tank or is it ok to leave it in there?  Thank you, Karen in Georgia. <First, remove the Neon to another tank. What you describe, to a large degree, mimics "Neon Tetra Disease"; loss of coloration, erratic swimming behavior. I've not come across any information that describes the return of color to a fish once it's been infected, though, which makes me wonder, to be honest with you. There is a "false" version of the disease which is bacterial rather that Sporozoan in its cause but it would be virtually impossible, outside of a laboratory, for you (or I) to discern the difference. Since NTD is spread to other fish so quickly and with such fatal results, you should treat this as a "worst case" to protect your other pets. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for NTD although some claims of success have been offered; none conclusively, I'm afraid. Maintain your water parameters in the main tank to protect against any spreading of whatever this may be. Best of luck to you, Karen. Tom>

What are these things! FW Neons, Ich...    3/27/06 Dear WWM Crew, I have recently had all my neon tetras die. The first one to go (thing 1) had dropsy and was really sad because he had been a part of my aquarium for over a year. I went to the local aquarium to get two replacements to keep my second neon company. Within 2 days both of the new guys died. I tested my water and everything was fine. <Can't tell from here> The following day I bought another neon tetra and named in speckles (It had white dots sprinkled over its body and fins). <Perhaps if you named them after prophets...> This one soon died too, followed by my second neon tetra (thing 2). I noticed my other fish began having white dots as well. <Oops... likely not related... but Ich> (I have a flame tetra, two Gouramis, a Serpae tetra) Doing my research, I assumed Ich and began treating the tank with CopperSafe, as recommended by the aquarium store. <... I would NOT treat small characins/Tetras with Copper products... but half doses of Malachite Green, elevated temperature... posted on WWM> Paying closer attention to the tank, I can see many tiny white bugs moving on the glass and floating in the water that were not there before. <These also are very likely unrelated...> Can these white bugs be what is on my fish? Are they parasites hurting my fish? Thank you for your time, Jackie <The initial losses were probably due to simple differences in your store/sources water quality, acclimation and your system... the Ich was likely imported on some of the new fish... the bugs are likely living on the nutrients, food... You need to "step up" your maintenance, treat the Ich with something less toxic (likely clean the tank a bit first, or better, treat the fish elsewhere...), and not worry re the apparent "bugs". Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Dying neon tetras  02-05-06 Help! two weeks ago I did a complete change out of my 10 gallon tank, saving off half the water and rinsing the new gravel and furnishings well and added a bubbler. <Better to limit such changes to one quarter if at all possible> The tank is inhabited by 5 neon tetras, 5 harlequins and 1 Pleco. <Too small a tank for the last> the water I added was conditioned by Aquafresh (or something like that) <At least they'll have minty breath> and the original water was replaced as well. for two weeks everything was fine, <Only apparently> but yesterday one of the Neons became bloated and started swimming sideways. I removed it from the tank and put it in another container and it was dead by morning. Today, I've noticed another neon started to exhibit the same symptoms. The harlequins seem to be just fine. I noticed a rust colored deposit building up on the new furnishings. what is this deposit and what is happening to my Neons? any advice you can give would be splendid! thanks, Chris <The Neons don't "like" your water... or this much change this fast... Perhaps your system is "re-cycling"... also much harder on small characins than minnows... See WWM, fishbase.org re their water preferences. Bob Fenner>

Disease Of Neon Tetra - 11/07/2005 Bob: <Actually, Crewmember Sabrina with you tonight.> Great site. Just found it - will come back OFTEN.  <Excellent! Glad to hear of its use to you.> Need help now, though. One of my neon tetras is acting very erratically. It is swimming, head pointed down at a 45-50 degree angle, in quick jerky motions. I think the stomach is also slightly bloated. All other tetras are doing fine. Any ideas????? <Many.... And most prominently, Mycobacteriosis.... often referred to as "neon tetra disease" or "rainbowfish disease" for these fishes' apparent propensity for contracting it.> I have 29 gallon planted tank, 12 Neons, 6 Glo-light tetras, 3 Corys, 1 Mongolian algae eater, <.... a 'Mongolian' algae eater? That's a new common name to me.> <<So new as to be UNcommon! <giggle>.  Marina>> 1 beta, 2 guppies. I just added the guppies (to replace two that died), and two of the Corys (again, to replace some that died). <You might want to consider using a quarantine system for new livestock....> pH is in the 6.6-6.8 range, temp is 76, ammonia and nitrite are both zero. I do 20% water changes once every one to two weeks. <Really, there are far too many possibilities to pin it down on this much info.... But I would absolutely quarantine this fish in a separate system for fear of it passing something nasty along to your other fishes.> Thank you, thank you. <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

New Planted Tank and Fish Death 10/11/05 Hello, The crew has given me solid advice in the past, and I want to share a recent experience with you all. I help my parents set up a 75 gal planted community aquarium. We went fairly low tech: no CO2 injection, low light, 2 Penguin Bio Wheel 350 power filters. All the planting was done immediately. We then cycled the new setup using established aquarium water and sponge squeezings from a mature filter. We were able to observe the complete nitrogen cycle.  After our nitrite readings were zero, we added fish. The complete cycle took a little over 3 weeks. The initial stocking consisted of 40 Neons, 24 Rummy Nose, 5 Siamese algae eaters, and 5 Amano shrimp. All the Neons died over a 5-7 day period, a few every night. All but 3 of the Rummy Nosed died in the same period. 3 of the Siamese died also during this period. None of the shrimp perished.  During the week of death, we continued monitoring all water parameters. There was never any change in ammonia, nitrite, pH, or nitrate. I am wondering if we stocked the tank too fast. If that was the case wouldn't there have been an ammonia/nitrite spike? Is there more to an established aquarium than just the nitrogen cycle? Are there other organisms that add to the bio-balance of a mature aquarium making it more suitable to life? Once a tank is cycled, is it mature? Or does that take months? I am trying to figure out if we received some bum fish, or the tank wasn't ready for the new fish. Any thoughts? <Im sorry you and your fish had such a rough week. I have a few thoughts/questions. What did you use for your ammonia source when cycling your tank? Fish food? Ammonia from the grocery store? Since you had cycled your tank, I assume your ammonia or nitrites were down to zero. What was your pH? Nitrate level?  Tetras are known to be touchy when you put them into tanks. Did you test the fish store waters pH? Maybe they experienced a dramatic change in pH. Id consider a mature tank one thats been up for about a year or so. It does have its own collection of microfauna. Levels of trace elements have evened out.  I think you probably stocked the tank a bit too fast the fish may have died before they were able to create an ammonia spike. Since your shrimp didnt die, you might have had some fish disease that wiped out most of the tank. Shrimp are very sensitive to ammonia, indicating that your test kits are speaking truth. You could have just had some bum fish, but your death levels are really high.  Id suggest adding about 10 tetras at a time for a little while. What is going to be the final composition of the tank? You could start with your hardiest fish. You might want to consider a quarantine tank introducing a disease into a 75 gallon would be a nightmare to clean up.> Thanks, CW  <Anytime, Catherine W> 

Dull Neons... Hi there, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on my neon tetras. Today I noticed that they are looking very dull in colour and not swimming about as much as they usually do, also one of them is bloated. I thought this could be neon tetra disease, do you think this is the case? If so, should I carry out euthanasia? < If the disease is only affecting one fish then I would get rid of it. If it looks like it is going to spread to the other fish then I would treat with Nitrofuranace of Myacin. Make sure you follow the directions on the package.-Chuck> Thanks Fran

Big Neon Tetra - Big Lack of Info help my neon tetra she got big eyes is something wrong.  she looks full of eggs <If there's any way you can tell us more about your fish and setup, including information like water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH), tank size, what other fish the tetra is in with, how long you've had it, how often/how much you change water, we'll be better able to help you.  As it is, the information you've sent us (big eyes, possibly distended belly) isn't a whole lot to go off of, and I really can't recommend a treatment without knowing more.  The best I can do for now is suggest that you follow this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm and read through any of the articles there pertaining you your fish, your system, etc.  Please be sure to take a look at the FAQs linked to those articles, as well, as there is a great wealth of information stored here.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Neon problem Hello to all at WWM, <Good morning! Ronni here with you today.> I have a question about one of my Neons.  I have 3 along with 3 mollies in a 10g tank  I've had them about a month and so far everyone is still alive.  Tank is finally cycled and water quality is good. My problem is one of my Neons has a colorless eye.  I don't know if it has always been there or just happened.  I hadn't noticed it before.  It seems to be fine, playing, schooling, eating, and its color is good. From what I've read it doesn't sound like pop eye.  The eye isn't swollen.  I'm wondering if you know if this is just genetic or some sort of infection or what.  Thank you so much for all of your help. <Is the eye cloudy? If so, it could be an injury of some sort. Keep watching him to see if it gets better or stay the same. If it gets worse, youll need to isolate and medicate him.> Thanks, Amy <You're welcome! Ronni>

Ick Tetras I have a question regarding my neon tetras. I have a 25 gallon tank with a bio wheel and Eclipse filter. The ph is constant at 7, the temperature is constant at 80 and I do regular water changes (every 3-4 weeks as advised by our Aquarium store) and I treat the water with a Sera product called Aquatan before I add new water. I do not know the ammonia and nitrite amounts as I do not have a test kit for these yet.  Our tank has been set up for 18 months and we have had no problems. We have 5 neon tetras, 5 lemon tetras, 2 Corydoras, 3 Otos, and 3 blue German rams that replaced 3 swordfish (the children were upset about the whole eating of the young aspect). Today I notices a problem with our Neons. They all seem to have ragged fins from a mild to severe degree, most have some sort of dark greenish/blackish patches on their sides, and one in particular is emaciated and a very dull colour. This one also seems to have pop eye (one other looks like he is developing it ) and at certain angles I can see a few white things attached to his eyes and head (only this one seems to have the white effect).  Is this neon tetra disease? What else could it be? Will it affect the other fish? How should I treat it? The other fish seem fine although one or two of the lemon tetras seem to have a couple of slight ragged/split spots on their fins that I had put down to age or nipping by the male swordfish we had.  Thank you for your time in answering this question as my daughter is very upset and I want to make sure I treat the tank expediently and appropriately. Lisa < Forget testing for ammonia and nitrites and get a nitrate test kit. Changing the water every three to four weeks may not be enough and may need to changed more often. I would recommend a 30% water change while vacuuming the gravel and then clean the filter. Now that the tank is clean you should see some improvement. The tail/fin rot may need to be treated if it gets worse with Nitrofurazone. The Popeye is an internal bacterial infection that needs to be treated with Metronidazole. After treating your bacteria that breaks down the fish waste may be gone so I would add some Bio-Spira to recycle the tank.-Chuck>
Sick Tetras II
Thanks for your quick reply. I wanted to follow up and let you know some more information that I got today. I took the neon tetras on a little trip back to the Aquarium shop (Aquariums West in Vancouver) and the staff were baffled by the greeny black patches. They agreed they looked sick but had seen nothing like it and said it was not tail rot.  They are going to keep them in isolation for a few days and have a couple of other fish experts take a look. It likely will not help the fish but I want to know if it will spread to the other fish and they are very curious. I had our water tested and the nitrates and ammonia were both zero so I don't think the water is a problem (I do change the filter every time I do a water change). I will let you know if they come up with a interesting diagnoses. Thanks again for your answer and your informative website, Lisa < Diagnoses is always difficult when you cannot see the animal. Hope they are able to help. -Chuck> 

Dying neon tetras Hi there, <Hi there...this is Jorie, and I'll try to help...> Have just come across your site and trawled it for any similar problems to mine, but couldn't spot anything, so I hope I'm not going to waste your time, but here goes! <You certainly are not wasting anyone's time - we are here to help you!> My fiancée and I purchased a 13 gallon tank about 3 weeks ago and set it up as follows: washed gravel in water till it ran clear, washed resin tank ornaments in the same way. A couple of plastic plants, but mostly real plants (some sword grass and sword plants, at least that's what they said they were in the shop).  We added the tap water and treated it with AquaSafe to dechlorinate, etc. following the instructions on the bottle. We added some AquaPlus water conditioner and we also added a little plant food that said it was safe for other tank inhabitants and followed the instructions in both cases carefully.  We have a mechanical, biological and chemical filter that we checked was the right size for the tank, and a heater that keeps the water at a constant 78 degrees Fahrenheit.  The filter also has an attachment that can further oxygenate the water (little pipe attachment to pump out more bubbles).  Also have a hood and light for the tank. We cycled the tank for these weeks, and before we put any fish in we checked the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH levels: ammonia, nitrate, nitrate were 0 and pH at 7.5. We live in Glasgow in Scotland and our water is quite soft. We also added some AquaPlus water conditioner the morning before the fish went in, because it recommended doing so for new fish. We bought six jumbo neon tetras yesterday afternoon - floated the bag for half an hour to get the temperature even for them, added some tank water gradually over another half an hour and then released them. They looked pretty happy, we left the light off to let them settle down and didn't feed them straight away for the same reason, feeding them a tiny amount about 2 hours later. Just before we went to bed we checked on them, and two seemed listless and gasping a little, but still able to swim, not just floating. This morning 2 were dead upside down on the tank bottom, and this afternoon two more. We did another water check and the levels were still fine. The poor guys looked physically ok when they died, apart from being a little pale - you could still make out the bright colours on their bodies. They didn't appear bloated with no cuts or gashes and seemingly normal gills. No signs of fungus or spotting either. When I was keeping an eye on the second two that died later, they seemed to get listless and were floating about the main body of the tank rather than swimming in the plants like the others. They also looked to be gasping a little.   I really don't want to be doing something wrong and be unknowingly hurting the wee fellas. The last two seem ok at the moment, although one swims about more than the other.  Do you think it could be something they had already from the shop, or am I doing something terribly wrong? Do you think I need to get them some medication, only I am reluctant to do so when they don't look hurt or diseased and I might do more harm than good? Any advise greatly appreciated, Charlotte <Charlotte, I'll be honest, I'm a bit mystified myself as to what's going on! I read your thorough narrative above, and very honestly, you did absolutely everything I typically suggest to newcomers, from rinsing the gravel, cycling the water, keeping the temp. constant, etc. The one thing that I'd suggest you measure is the water's oxygen level; you mention that you do have an air filter in the tank, but the gasping behavior you've noticed makes me think perhaps they fish aren't getting enough O2. Most major test kit brands have a conversion chart to measure oxygen levels - I personally use the Tetra brand kit, but I don't think it matters too much. Just stay away from the "dip stick" type test kits, as they are pretty unreliable. Aside from that, I'm thinking perhaps a toxin other than ammonia, nitrite or nitrite has found its way into the water - I say this because of the suddenness of the fishes' death. Can you think of *anything* (from cleaning supplies to air fresheners, for example), that could possibly be contaminating the water? I don't know if it will help, but you could try additional water changes and perhaps looking into a PolyFilter - filter media that removes lots of unwanted toxins, from phosphates to ammonia. (That's a shot in the dark, though - it's all I can think of!) You may be correct in thinking your fish weren't altogether healthy when you purchased them. Any idea how long they were living at the fish store? That's good question to ask - the longer the better, but you won't always get that lucky. I have never personally kept neon tetras, but from what I understand, they can be fragile. You did well to slowly acclimate them when you brought 'em home, and as I said above, did everything else according to the "rules".  With regards to medicating, I don't think I'd go there, especially since you don't see any observable signs of illness or lacerations. You may indeed do more harm than good - I never recommend using meds just for the sake of it, and it's always best to narrow down what's going on before taking a "shot in the dark" approach to medicating fish. Do check on the oxygen levels, and think about possible water contaminants. In the meantime, keep those water levels pristine, and hopefully the two survivors will be OK. I'll cross my fingers for you!  Good luck, Jorie> 
Re: Dying neon tetras
Hiya Jorie, <Good morning, Charlotte.> Thanks so much for your reply, I don't think they had been in the shop long now I think about it, because we had been in a couple of times in the days before to get fish food and other things, and hadn't noticed them when we had a look around.  I can't think of anything I might have accidentally exposed them to (even been careful not to wear perfume on my wrists in case I need to dive in!) but maybe I'm forgetting something. I'll definitely look into a PolyFilter, that sounds a good idea - want to do my best for them, felt awful for the first ones. Have named the other two Crusoe and Friday as they are so far survivors! Thanks for all your advise, you've been really helpful, I'll keep you posted, but so far so good.  Charlotte  <Glad to hear Crusoe and Friday are doing well! I know neon tetras are an extremely popular choice with hobbyists, but my understanding is that they are remarkably fragile. Additionally, I believe they are strictly wild-caught (as opposed to tank raised), which always increases the chances of a fish not acclimating well into captivity. It sounds as though you are doing absolutely everything you can to keep these little guys happy and healthy, so I wouldn't beat yourself up over it too much. Some things just aren't within our control! Best of luck, Jorie> 

Neon tetras that change colour... Hi. I have found your information about neon tetra very useful, but I am confused about "neon tetra disease".  I first got a fish tank two years ago and have kept neon tetras in this time.  It didn't take me long to notice that when they changed colour that this is bad, but the fish did not always die but change back and remain healthy. <Mmm, Neons do change color sometimes due to "mood", time of day, interactions with each other... not always indicative of disease> (I have had one particular neon tetra for 2 years now).  Is this colour changing due to "neon tetra disease" or is it just stress or bad water? <This Sporozoan infection is almost always fatal, and quite distinctive (loss of blue coloring distally): http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/disease/p/neondisease.htm I don't think your fish have this ailment> I really like my neon tetras and hope that there is something I can do about this phenomenon. <Read on. Bob Fenner>

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