FAQs on Oscar
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Related FAQs: Oscar Disease 1, Oscar Disease 2, Oscar Disease 3, Oscar Disease 4,
Oscar Disease 5,
Oscar Disease 6, Oscar Disease 7, Oscar Disease 8, Oscar Disease 9, Oscar Disease 11, Oscar Disease 12,
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Oscar Disease 14,
Oscar Disease 15,
Oscar Disease 16,
FAQs on Oscar Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Genetic, Treatments, & Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease 2, Oscars 1, Oscars
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Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Reproduction,
Oscar Fish Sick :(
Hi there, I'm Ashlea!
Our family has two Oscar fish.
<And a big aquarium, I hope. Oscars don't "share"
nicely, and even a singleton needs a big aquarium.>
We bought the smaller one who is about 4inches long first and then
another one which is about 6inches long. We have had them for only a
few months now and have had issues the entire time.
<Almost certainly down to lack of planning. Let's be clear here.
Oscars are NOT friends towards one another and they MUST have a big
aquarium with a very robust filtration system. Yours are big enough now
that they're starting to exhibit their social behaviour, and if you
have two males, you'll get trouble.>
The smaller fish (Charlie) got fin rot which was medicated and
<Now, the Finrot is certainly down to poor water conditions; likely
a too-small aquarium or too-weak filtration. Overfeeding and irregular
water changes will also make things worse.>
and when we first got our bigger one (Grumpy) he would never move. They
started in separate tanks but we put them together in a larger tank (
250L approx ) about 2 weeks ago.
<250 litres IS NOT big enough for two Oscars. Indeed, it isn't
enough for one Oscar. A single Oscar needs about 350 litres, and if you
have a mated pair, you'd still need about 500 litres. Oscars are
very difficult to sex, and it's entirely possible you don't
have a pair.>
They haven't been fighting really, sometimes the bigger one with
snap at the little one but that is all we have seen. Recently Charlie
has been laying on the bottom of our tank on his side, he is breathing
heavy, only moves when Grumpy comes near him, isn't eating and
seems to be doing the tail shake to tell Grumpy to go away.
<Difficult to say precisely what's the matter here, but a
combination of aggression and environmental stress is likely the
We have just noticed a little white thing on his head, we aren't
sure if this is hole in the head or another infection or what.....I am
the eldest and have younger brothers who are all very attached to our
We do weekly water changes usually between 25-30% our pH level is 7.2
ammonia is at 0 nitrite is 0 nitrate is about 10
Please help us, we have been reading the website all day and finding
similar problems but it always seems to be older fish or poor water
quality issues which we don't have either of because we test it
twice a week
Thank you in advance!
<Something is amiss here. Frankly, I think you won't be able to
keep two Oscars in an aquarium this small, and long-term, you're
going to need a much bigger aquarium even for one specimen. Cheers,
Oscar w/ tumor for a few months started swimming
Oscar With Internal Infection 5/26/10
Hello...I've been through many, many pages on your site and I
want to thank you for being such a valuable resource!
< Thank you for your kind words.>
Perhaps you can help me with my fish problem... I adopted 2
already full grown Oscars three years ago from a local pet store.
One of them is a textbook tiger Oscar, the other one looks more
like a hybrid of a small mouth bass and an Oscar, just
doesn't have the cichlid look to her. They have always been
very active fish, they 'fight' each other and often fight
me, trying to grab the stick right out of my hand when I clean
the inside of the tank. Recently, 'Tina' the hybrid
looking Oscar developed a large lump on her side. It didn't
really have time to grow, it just seemed to happen over night.
Her coloring changed a bit too, her normal dark green areas
turned to black and some of the white on her underside also went
a bit grey. She still was very active, eating normally, fighting
with her mate, etc... This morning she has gone sideways.
She's still actively struggling, trying to right herself up.
She also seems to be breathing very heavy but otherwise has
normal energy, just can't get up. I'm on my way now to
the pet store to bring in a water sample. Any ideas what stage of
any fish disease I might be dealing with and if I can help her
out here would be much appreciated. The first photo is of her at
a normal stage, 2&3 from the first time I noticed the bulge
and discoloration, and the final ones of her this morning. Thank
< Thanks for the photos. Your Oscar has an internal infection.
Use the combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace in a
hospital tank. It could have been caused by diet to by fighting
with the other Oscar. Look at the ingredients of the common
"cures" sold in the big pet shop chains to find the
right meds to use. They can be bought online too at
Oscar with Swim Bladder problem 4/27/10
<Hi Stephan. Melinda with you here today.>
I have a 3 year old, 8 inch Oscar
<Should be larger by now, at least twelve inches. Can you
please give details on this system? Tank size, stocking,
filtration, and water parameters? When I read that the fish has
failed to properly develop, I begin to worry about environment.
Often, fish can deal with a poor environment for a long time, and
then eventually succumb to its effects.>
that I found standing on his head 2 days ago.
<He certainly is in bad shape.>
I came across your site in the course of my research about his
From what I can discern it appears that he is having problems
with his swim bladder, most likely caused by an obstruction in
<"Swim bladder," as you will see by reading on WWM,
is a name for a group of symptoms often stemming from poor
environment. An obstruction is one possible cause of his illness,
but, also, without knowing details of this environment (Ammonia,
Nitrite, Nitrate levels, for sure) an obstruction isn't the
only possibility -- more information is needed here in order to
determine the cause of his problem.>
What started out as head standing has now gone into full on
laying on his back. His stomach is even more swollen.
<I see that he has an Oscar buddy. This makes me even more
curious as to what Nitrate levels are in this tank.>
I initially changed his water and added a little more salt. Then
after reading your questions and answers went to the fish store
and purchased Metro+ (Metronidazole) and have added it to the
tank per instructions (1 capful per 10 gallons after a water
<I would not use regular salt, because it's probably not
going to help here. Epsom Salt might. I'd start with a
tablespoon per five gallons to hopefully reduce swelling and
clear any blockages in the digestive tract.
The Metro is a good idea if you can determine that what's
going on here is as a result of bacterial infection, but I always
like to start with environment and work my way up to diagnoses
which require strong medications.>
I have also stopped feeding (he can't eat in his condition
anyway, but his buddy still gets hungry).
I'm on my second day of the Metro+ treatment. He seems
better, but his stomach looks even more swollen. I've tried
to massage his stomach in the hopes that it would help pass the
obstruction but to no avail (he does seem to like the
<I would stop applying pressure to this area and administer
the Epsom Salt.
I would continue the Metro since you've begun using it. Do
test daily to ensure your biological filter is not negatively
affected. If you find that it is (Ammonia or Nitrite spikes will
indicate this), then you'll need to do extra work to keep
levels where they should be.>
I can turn him upright and if I hold him he appears fine, but
then when left on his own he turns back over.
Can you recommend any other treatment?
<Treatment and possible causes included above. Please do read
on WWM re: Oscar care, and if you have any other questions, feel
free to write back, and do make sure and include the information
<You're welcome. Please do note on the page where you
found our e-mail address, there is a list of the things we ask
those writing in to do. One of them is to send small photos, no
more than a few hundred KB, because large photos take up a lot of
room in our inbox, potentially causing others' emails to be
bounced back. If you do need to send more photos, please do limit
Re: Oscar with Swim Bladder problem
Thank you for your help.
I put in the Epsom salt (1 tablespoon per 5 gallons). I also took
his buddy and moved him to a different tank. I've continued
the Metro+ treatment as well.
I changed out 1/3 of the water again today and put in more Epson
salt to keep the ratio at the 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons. Was I
supposed to put in more Epson salt on the second day or just keep
the ratio consistent?
<Nope, it can stay the same, unless you don't see
improvement in a couple of days. If this is the case, I'd add
extra -- another tablespoon per five gallons. However, I have
read ahead in this e-mail, and I'm beginning to doubt this
fish will improve without some major changes.>
He seems a little better, but his stomach is still swollen. He
still wants to lay on his back, but if I turn him over he's
good for about 5 minutes before he goes on his back again.
Should I be worried about his lack of eating? I don't see how
I could get him to eat unless I forced something down his
<Don't worry about it right now. Fish can go quite a
The water is good, lots of filtration (a 60 gal filter system on
a 30 gal tank).
<You're not giving me the specific information I hoped
for, but without knowing that information, I can still
definitively state the following:
One, this tank is WAY too small. Your Nitrate levels are likely
through the roof. For two Oscars, 90 gallons would be the minimum
I would recommend, with 125 gallons being ideal. Two, the reason
your fish is smaller than he should be is definitely due to the
system you've chosen for him, which is too small. He should
be, as I stated before, anywhere from twelve to fourteen inches
long. Three, filtration should be turning your tank's volume
over eight to ten times per hour, so this filter probably
isn't keeping up with the huge bioload two Oscars represent,
especially two Oscars stuffed in a tiny tank. Lastly, the
fish's condition probably will not improve, no matter what
you add to the water (Epsom Salt, Metro, etc.) until you fix
environment. Please read, as I asked you to do before, on WWM re:
Oscar care. These fish need much more than you're offering,
and if you choose not to fix environment, the other will soon be
sick, as well.
Oscars aren't an easy fish to care for -- not because they
have crazy nutritional needs, or are finicky about water
chemistry, or anything, but simply because they grow so large and
do require quite a large investment, a lot of space, and a good
deal of electricity to properly house and care for. Oscars who
don't receive proper care die very early, and even if they
pull through for a good length of time, often exhibit the
symptoms you're describing, along with the Hole-In-The-Head
your Oscar's buddy seems to be exhibiting. Please do research
HITH on WWM.><<Melinda... pls provide links/URLs...
Do you have any other treatment suggestions?
<Not treatment, per se, but my suggestions are above.>
Question About My 2 Tiger
Oscars... Beh., poor health due to poor env., nutr... lack of
searching, reading 4/16/10
<Hi! Melinda with you here tonight!>
I have viewed the Question/Answer page about Bert & Ernie my 2 baby
Oscars and cant find anything.
<Okay. Let's see if I can help.>
Bert is about 2 inches in length and is a beautiful black with silver
Stripes and Ernie Is a little bit lighter in color but mimicking
patterns and he/she is about 2 1/2 inches long. I have recently (Today)
Noticed strange behavior earlier this morning from Bert. He has been
Cuddled up with a big black ornament that I have sitting in the corner
of my 15 Gallon Tank.
<Sorry to mince words here, but he is not "cuddled up"...
he's laying on the bottom of the tank. Not a good thing.>
(Yes I plan upgrading to a 80 Gallon ASAP probably a week).
<Ultimately, if these fish don't turn out to be a mated pair
(often the case when only two are purchased), you'll need something
around a six-foot tank to ensure they can each establish adequate
territory. Otherwise, you're going to have issues with the two
fighting, or with the stronger one beating up on the weaker, which may
happen anyway, but is less of a possibility in a larger system with
He is being very inactive and not even responding to the Aquarian
Shrimp pellets or TOPFIN Small cichlid Pellets that I have been feeding
them. Just recently more This afternoon Ernie began to have the exact
<Okay. Please do check water quality. This isn't a coincidence.
Surely, there are issues with water quality that have affected one, the
weaker one, and now are affecting the stronger fish.>
Now they are both coupled and cuddled up next to my Black Ornament,
Sometimes laying slanted on the bottom of the tank.
<I'm sorry, but again, "cuddled" makes this situation
sound cute. It's not. It's 2 fish dying in a tiny tank.>
They are very responsive when I try to brush them, and are sure to swim
I really have no idea what the problem is.
I have had them for about 4-5 days now, They have shown signs of
and are normally pigs and begging me for food. But not today. They love
to eat Baby Crickets and some Feeder
fish I gave them.
<Don't feed feeder fish. It just makes no sense. You're
running the constant risk of introduction of illness, parasites, and
also, please read here on the physical effects of Thiaminase:
There is just NO REASON to feed feeder fish. In addition, the crickets
aren't necessary, either. Please read on WWM re: Oscar care,
and the linked files there at the top.>
But now They are acting that way. I don't have numbers for the PH,
Nitrates and such for my tank.
<I'm almost positive this is the problem. Is this aquarium
cycled? Even if it was, adding both fish at once and then feeding all
of these foods you've already fed in only five days (fish,
crickets, and two different types of pellets) has surely stressed the
biological filter. Please read
and those linked files above.>
But I Completely Changed the water in the tank 2 Days ago due to
<Is this tank cycled?>
And now I just did a 50% water Change And they seem to be moving around
a bit more. but that might be because I'm watching them.
<Likely because the concentration of toxic waste products in the
water has been reduced by half.>
You guys seem to have all the answers hopefully you can help me!! SAVE
BERT AND ERNIE!!! My babies!
<You need to help them, and only you can save them. Keep doing huge
water changes, and buy some test kits. Read, read, read, and please do
write back if you have further questions after reading. These fish need
than you're offering right now, and it is really important that you
use this information to educate yourself about their needs.>
Another room mate for Oscars in tiny tank... Oh and w/ a
Sorry I would also like to add that I have them in the same tank as a
black moor. only about 1 1/2 inches Long. And they are friendly (For
<Okay, so it's more overstocked than I thought it was! Please
just see the other e-mail for information on what you need to know in
order to keep your fish alive.
Re: Question About My 2 Tiger Oscars... still not reading,
Melinda Thanks for your help,
I went to Pets mart and Talked to a guy who was very knowledgeable on
Oscars he recommended this stuff called prime for the ammonia
<Prime removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia in tap water. It
doesn't remove the ammonia produced by fish in the tank. So
that's not going to help. Did he test the water? What of the
and If I keep doing huge water changes How will I ever Build up good
<It will happen.>
Also Should I buy some driftwood for my Oscars?
<Not exactly at the top of the list right now. Clean water is. Your
diligent research, reading, is.>
I just did another 50% water change and added Prime to it. is There
anything else that you can think of that I can do to help these
<Read the links I provided.
Re: Question About My 2 Tiger Oscars....
And of the 2 pellets. Which do you recommend I keep feeding them?
<Please read where I referred you re: Oscar feeding. The Cichlid
pellet is a fine staple, but it's also important to work in wet or
wet-frozen foods in order to avoid issues with digestion. This
information is archived where I linked you.
Re: Question About My 2 Tiger Oscars
I also took a water sample after doing a 50% water change and the
Nitrates where still High on the tester. So he Suggested that I do
another water change.
<Nitrate, with an "a?" What was the number? Did you cycle
Sorry for all of these emails I should have just put it all in one. But
Things just keep popping in my head. And I'm sorry but I don't
think this is cute. I just couldn't think of another name.
<Understood. But you're also skipping over some very important
questions that I asked, which means that I'm not getting a clear
picture of what's going on, and though you're providing
information as to water quality, it's not a full rundown of
parameters, and not specific. So I really can't help you, other
than to ask you to read, and apply what you learn, putting it into
Re: BERT AND ERNIE! Chatting "while Rome
Yea I believe both nitrite and nitrates where high. The top 2 things
should be white. And they were pink.
<Ultimately, you need to test for Ammonia at this stage, as well.
Actual numbers (not subjective opinion) on these levels will clue us in
to where you are in the cycle, and how often you need to be changing
water to keep your fish as healthy as possible. Again, I think that
purchasing test kits, so that you can control the quality of data you
use to run your tank, and that you provide to folks like me, who are
trying to help you, would be a good move here -- prior to purchasing
any type of decor, etc., which won't help you keep your fish alive
at all. I would purchase the liquid test kits, rather than the test
strips -- these are more accurate.
Re: BERT AND ERNIE!
I Just Vacuumed it for the 1st time today. but remind u I have done
complete water changes. Fish are still sitting on the bottom of the
tank. Hopefully they will be a little more lively tomorrow I also get
paid tomorrow so I can go and buy some testers. Sorry I know I sound
foolish this is my 1st tank and I Wanted Awesome Fish :). There is a
lot more to it that I originally Though and I should have Studied a
little more. But I didn't So now I'm asking you :).
<Yes, we're here to help folks. Unfortunately the fish you chose
come with big responsibilities and a good amount of cost to keep the
right way. As I said before, a six-foot tank is almost a necessity, in
my opinion, because Oscars are very territorial. Then, you have
filtration -- with Oscars, it needs to work to turn the tank's
volume over ten times per hour, which is a lot of turnover usually
achieved by combining various canister filters and large hang-on-back
filters, or either buying or building some sort of large wet-dry
filter. The problem with Oscars, though they're great fish, is that
they're messy. I've watched Oscars eat pellets, and seen half
of the food they're taking in just falling out of their gills, onto
the substrate below. This is another reason why keeping them is so
demanding -- you're going to have do more maintenance than you
normally would on a 125-gallon tank with two fish, because of the way
that they eat. You can't leave all of that uneaten food sitting
around at the bottom, as it will foul water
quality. In any case, this information is all available in those links
I gave you. We are here to help, but since there's so much
information already archived on our site, expect folks to do a little
"work" of their own, as well!
Re: BERT AND ERNIE!
Do you have a donate link on your website?
<Yes, is on the home page -- http://www.wetwebmedia.com/, in the
very far right-hand corner.>
Ernie is starting to move a little. I dropped a pellet in there and he
Swam at it Really fast and gobbled it up and then went back to his
corner. I guess this is a good sign. Now that I'm looking they are
both off the gravel now. Swimming around in the corner though.
<Yes, keep doing those big water changes. You can't let waste
products build up, and since your biological filter isn't
functioning right now, your water changes are the only thing keeping
this water safe for them.
Please do write back if you have any questions after reading.
Re: BERT AND ERNIE! More chatting sans reading 4/17/10
Thanks Melinda you have been a big help after I turned the lights out
last night I saw both of them swimming around the tank, yay
<You're welcome. Keep doing those water changes -- that's
what's positively affecting these fish!
Re: BERT AND ERNIE!
Buying testers now.
Did a 20% water change when I got home. Should I do that daily?
<Yes, and whether you do a larger water change daily will depend on
the test results. Ultimately, you want to keep Ammonia and Nitrite as
low as possible.>
Ill let you know what I find with the testers
<Cool. I think I'll be able to help you a lot more after we get
Oscars... hlth., sys., --
I have tried everything but I am at a loss.
<I hope to help.>
I have two tiger Oscars they are about 4 or 5 years old now, one has
always been very healthy and strong the larger of the two, the other
<Is this a mated pair? Especially if it's not, there's a
good possibility that the larger and stronger one is larger and
stronger due to beating up the smaller, weaker one, who remains smaller
and weaker because he's constantly stressed and beaten up.
Especially in the small tank you had them in (way too small for two
adult Oscars), the chances of one bullying the other are very
I had them in a 200 litre tank, which I cleaned 30% twice a week, the
weaker one got HITH but I changed their diet ( I feed them a tablet
cichlid food, shelled peas, greens, frozen shrimp/ bloodworm etc) and
treated the tank and it went away. I have moved them both to a 360
<Still really is marginal for two adult Oscars... I would hope to
see two adults in something around 125 gallons, both for the volume it
offers, and therefore, better dilution of waste, and for each to be
able to establish a territory and lessen problems with
I feed them the same way, I clean the tank 30% once to twice a week (is
this enough?) I am treating the tank with my usual water conditioner
and now a nitrate reducer as they are quite high.
<If you're using a Nitrate reducer, then you're not cleaning
enough. You should augment your maintenance in such a way that Nitrate
is below 20 at all times. This is where a larger tank would come into
play -- more volume means less concentrated waste, lower Nitrates.
Bigger, more frequent water changes would lower Nitrate.>
The weaker Oscar seems to be sick again! His ribs on one side are
poking out, it doesn't look like swim bladder ,
<Are you sure it is his ribs? Could it possibly be some sort of
obstruction which has caused food to "build up" in the
digestive tract, creating a lump? Can you provide numbers on Ammonia,
Nitrite, and Nitrate in the tank? You're feeding a good variety of
dried and wet foods, so I'm not thinking this issue is due to
feeding, but could very well be due to water quality. I would get
Nitrate to where it should be (mentioned above), and then add Epsom
Salt to the tank in the amount of two tablespoons for every twenty
gallons. This will aid in digestion and help with constipation, if
that's what's going on. Overall, a system for two Oscars would
be in the range of 125 gallons, employ filtration which turns the
tank's volume over 8-10 times per hour, and large water changes
would keep Nitrate below 20.>
he is swimming fine and eating fine, other than the one lumpy side he
looks and acts like a healthy fish. Any ideas?
<I hope this helps. Please do write back if you have further
If you do write back, would you mind attaching a photo of his "bad
In any case, if this is swelling due to some sort of obstruction,
hopefully the Epsom Salt will help him pass it. I would feed only the
wet foods, and avoid feeding the dry foods, until this problem
subsides. I'm sort of ruling out the idea that this lump is his
ribs, but a photo would obviously help. What type of substrate are you
using? I'm hoping this is just food, and not gravel.>
Tank you for your time
<Either a typo, or a funny pun! Either way, I'll leave it in...
again, please write back if you have any more questions.
Oscar, HLLE -- 03/23/10
Hi, can you help me to find a cure to those with spots ?
I was looking on web but I don't see nothing like these, the
fish is doesn't have any strange behavior, e eats very well
he swim very well I don't see any strange behavior but the
fact is that she have those white spots, already make a treatment
with "Tetra Fungi Stop" and with "eSHa 2000"
and the last one with "eSHa Hexamita", but those with
spots never disappear, are always the same sizes same form.
<Mmm, the last is the item you need to address...>
She is in a 180 Litres tank with a Synodontis eupterus, and she
centimeters. The External filter is a [image: EHEIM
External Filter professionel 3
.<I use this series of filters myself>
Do answer here for my email ?
<Yes. And we archive all as well>
I was reading on the web site and I don't understand if
you're respond here and put on the website to or if you only
respond to the website.
<Eric, your Oscar is exhibiting signs of HLLE... which is
curable... through improved water quality and nutrition mostly.
Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re Sick Oscar, poss. Costia in addn. --
> Hi Chuck,
> There's a photo of a sick Oscar in today's inbox. It
looks to me like it has early stage Slime Disease (Costia) but it
might be HITH. I didn't want to get this wrong, so I'd
appreciate you taking a look, if you have the time.
> Cheers, Neale
<Oh! I've responded to this... and thought "it"
was HLLE... might be Costia as well. B>
Re: sick Oscar
Precisely so. The lesions on the head are similar to HITH, but
the excess slime and the texture you see above the scales reminds
me strongly of Costia. May of course be both!
<Yes... not actually an uncommon parasite... particularly with
folks feeding/using "feeders", or receiving fishes that
have been cultured "outdoors", or kept in systems with
fishes imported/cultured thus>
Costia can be treated with salt water dips (especially where
secondary freshwater fish are concerned) so seeing if a dip or
two helps might be worthwhile (see my recent WWM piece re: use of
salt in FW tanks). I'd also have the aquarist check to see
how symmetrical the lesions and/or patches are; if they're
strongly symmetrical on each flank, then yes, HITH or HLLE may
well be the immediate problem.
<Will refer the querior in turn. Thank you, BobF>
Re: sick Oscar 3/23/10
So maybe Costia and HLLE or one of two.
I don't feed my Oscar with small fishes and her friend
Synodontis eupterus lives with her at about 4 years or 5
<Should be a fine combination. How big is the tank though? The
most common reason Oscars get sick is simply not giving them the
space and the filtration they need. Do read Bob's piece,
I only feed them with Hikari food, always the same food, now I
begin to feed them with Cichlid frozen food, probably the fact
that I always feed them with the same food was one of the
<Perhaps. But a good quality food like Hikari Cichlid Gold
should be perfectly adequate for good health. The main problem
with dried foods is constipation rather than vitamin deficiency.
That said, dried foods have a shelf life, and once exposed to air
(especially damp air) the food in an open packet loses some of
its nutritional value.>
What do you think if I buy a Reverse Osmosis Unit ? 50% of
Osmosis water and 50% of normal water with some drops of JBL
Atvitol in the water changes maybe a good idea ?
<Oscars and indeed all cichlids will benefit from water with
as low a nitrate content as possible. If your tap water has more
than 20 mg/l nitrate, then yes, over time that does seem to
trigger HITH/HLLE problems.
So mixing some of your tap water with RO water will reduce the
nitrate content and improve overall health. But with that said,
you'll do more harm than good if using softer water allows
the pH to bounce around all the time. Mixing 50/50 hard tap water
with RO water is generally fine, but if your tap water is soft
already, you may want to use a pH buffer of some sort.>
A more variety of foods not only the same brand, its better
<Can be helpful.>
I saw the procedures to HLLE cure but it seems that is all about
good food good water and good tank friends
<Well, HLLE and HITH seem to be triggered by [a] vitamin
deficiency and [b] non-zero nitrate levels. Most of the time
I've seen cichlids with these diseases they've been in
tanks that were too small, poor filtered, or not getting proper
water changes. Diet and water chemistry seem to be secondary
And where's that article about (see my recent WWM piece re:
use of salt in FW tanks) ????
I was making a water test for PO4 and result was 1.8 in JBL test
The Nitrite and ammonia are good
<By "good" I assume we mean zero of both.>
The NO3 nitrate is in 20
<See, this is borderline.>
I have some problems in my tank, I am going to correct some
procedures and wait and see the results
<Fine. Don't imagine for a moment that salt is a cheap
fix; it isn't. But salt can reduces nitrate toxicity and it
can be used to help treat Costia, so as part of an overall plan
to improve environmental quality and diet, salt can be helpful.
Re: sick Oscar (the plot thinnens: the Oscar is in 39.5
The tank have 50cm height x 90cm length x 40cm width. The
filtration I think is good, 1200 liters hour
<By my reckoning this is 180 litres/39.5 US gallons, which is
far too small a tank for an Oscar above maybe 10 cm/4 inches in
length. Oscars are big, messy fish that place huge demands on
their aquarium. A minimum aquarium for a single specimen is
realistically around 340 litres/75 US gallons, and even in a tank
that size you'd be having a constant battle keeping the tank
Yes, I understand, but I know how it is the Hikari package, I put
some of the package in another box of an old Aquatic Nature brand
food and the rest of the Hikari food I close and take of the most
part of air in the package but, its impossible not have some as
<It takes about 2-3 months for dried pellet foods to stop
being nutritionally complete. So try to buy a package you can use
up within that time period. Failing that, divide up big pots into
smaller pots, and store all but the unused pot of food in the
freezer or somewhere cool and dry, just like you'd store
dried human foods. Obviously, don't keep dried foods anywhere
warm and damp -- such as next to the aquarium!>
My tap water comes with 0 of nitrate, I have the careful to put
the water in a 70 liters container with a heater in side and a
aeration pump, and all of my changes come from there. My tap
water Ph its 7.8. What do you think ?
RO is a good idea ?
<If your tap water has 0 nitrate, then RO isn't of any
Domesticated Oscars adapt to both moderately hard and quite soft
water equally well.>
Yes I'm going to buy from now on a food of each good
brand's JBL, SERA, TETRA, Aquatic Nature .. Maybe I going to
try the drops of JBL Atvitol in the food or the water changes,
<All well worth doing. A good reason to have, say, two or
three small pots of food going at once is that Oscars are less
likely to become bored. Every day they have something different.
Vitamin drops are probably redundant if you're using good
quality flake and pellet foods. Do also try offering other fresh
or live foods, such as prawns, snails and earthworms, as well as
cooked peas, which many Oscars enjoy. Peas are good for avoiding
constipation and bloating.>
I can't do this, the dips with an 30cm Adult Oscar
<In a 180 litre tank??? That's where your problems come
from! You need massive water changes here to keep things even
halfway decent. Given the size of the tank and the size of the
Oscar, I think Bob's initial diagnose of Hole-in-the-Head
and/or Head-and-Lateral-Line-Erosion is VERY likely the problem.
To treat this you will need Metronidazole, which outside of the
US is normally a prescription-only medication obtained from a
Without Metronidazole, this disease will get worse and eventually
its very very stressful, for me and the Oscar, I can try to add
salt in my Oscar tank but the dips I can't do it, and what
about Medicaments I was watching on the net and found something
like Sera Costapur and TetraMedica Contralck they tell they can
cure Costia do you know something about this ?
<There are indeed proprietary medications for Costia out
there. By all means use them, but follow the instructions
carefully, paying particularly attention to the dose and removal
of carbon, if used. However, I don't think Costia is the
Sorry the long emails but I really need to know and understand
the best things to do
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Oscars and some sort of parasite infestation! (fish
Parasites On Oscars 3/17/10
I've been a long time reader of your website and usually
I've had enough information from previous articles or
questions and email answers from you guys and gals to solve any
problems that I've encountered on this journey
into the fish world I've taken. However, currently I've
run across something that I can't quite get a grasp of to fix
and would like your input.
I've had these 2 Oscars in a 75 gallon tank for the last 5
years and have normally been very active and playful and
decorative for a lack of better term. (Thank tank never keeps its
current layout very long they change it almost monthly it seems)
Lately though they've been a bit lazy and don't swim
around as much. They still have an appetite and are very
energetic when its feeding time though!
The problem is that they started rubbing on things and it got to
a point to where they would rub gouges in their scales on their
head and front areas.
One night I finally got a closer look at them and they have these
little specs all over them, and at first I thought it may just
have been some sort of dirt but as I looked closer I noticed the
dirt specs crawled around. So I looked around at your website and
searched around for pictures of the only thing I could guess it
was based on symptoms (fish lice) and couldn't see many
pictures that matched it. I read a few of your email answers
about fish lice in fresh water and have started a treatment of
clout tablets. Its only been 2 days and it says its a 4 day
treatment (one dose wait 48 hours re dose, wait 48 hours and do a
25% water change). I followed those instructions and my re dose
is later today and I thought that maybe the little bug things
(fish lice?) should be dying by now!
The parasites are less in number but still seem to be hanging on
the Oscars. The other concern is that I didn't think they may
be fish lice just because all the stories I read about them, was
them burrowing under the scales and these look more like little
spider things on top of the scales just randomly crawling around.
They're staying mostly towards the front of the fish there
are few if any past the gills of the fish and most are on the
I've attached a couple of pictures that I hope can help you
aid me in telling me what they are.
Here are my current tank stats if I manage to leave something out
please ask if you need it and I'll get it ASAP. I just ran
these tests 5 min ago. pH: between 7.4-7.8 Its probably higher
than you guys would like to see but its kind of the water card
that I've been dealt and the Oscars have lived in it for 5
years now with no problems thus far.
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: Between 0 and 5.0 ppm
Copper: 0 ppm
Phosphate: Between 2.0 and 5.0 ppm
I also am not sure if the phosphate level is normal or acceptable
because there's little reference to a normal level of
phosphate in a tank. The pictures look a little bit drastic
because of the massive amount of the parasites on the fish, but a
lot of them are just loosely on there as soon as I feed them or
come towards the tank any remotely fast movement shakes most of
them off. I had to sit there very patiently for 10 minutes to get
the fish to calm down enough to get these shots. The albino Oscar
always has more of the infestation on it than the tiger Oscar
does and I also don't know why that is.
Anyhow, sorry for the long email but I would greatly appreciate
If the clout treatment is the correct way to go then it's
already in progress and I suppose I'm just not patient enough
to wait for the results!
I worry about them though. Thanks, Patrick Stockton
< Sometimes the parasites bury into the fishes flesh. This
makes them harder to treat and it takes longer to kill them.
Follow the directions on the package and continue medicating as
directed. They could have come in with feeder goldfish. Elevating
the water temp to 80 F will hasten the lice's life cycle. If
this medication does not work then I have had good success with
Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck><<Looks more like Hexamita to RMF.
Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FWHLLECauses.htm
and the linked files above>>
Re: More re: Oscars and some sort of
parasite infestation! (fish lice)?
Feeding Mealworms to Oscars -- 03/20/10
I do have a question though. I don't feed my Oscars any sort
of feeder fish and its been at least a year since the
introduction of any new fish into my tank so I was wondering
where the parasite might have come from? I feed
them meal worms from time to time as a treat, is it possible that
one of those could have brought the parasite to the tank?
Thanks again, Patrick
< Mealworms will not introduce parasites. They are fine to
feed your Oscars. Just not too often as they are very
Oscar bloated belly.
I just want to make sure this is bloat, and maybe some clarifications
on what medicine to buy and how to treat my Oscar. What I'm
currently running: 55 gal Fluval 304. under gravel with 4 uptake tubes.
with 3 Oscars and one
Pleco, ( I know too many for tank size... working on a bigger one
nitrate 0 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, hardness dGH 150 ppm, alkalinity 80 ppm,
pH-7.2. recent 20% change. The last few days my Oscar has seamed
bloated and hasn't eaten in at least 3 days. He seems to be working
harder to breath..
His rectal area seams distended. He doesn't seem off balance. at
all. but isn't moving to quickly. I tried to feed him some frozen
pealed peas but he wont eat.
Should I quarantine him from the other fish?. No one else is showing
obvious symptoms but I don't want them to catch anything?
I believe this is bloat. Not to sure how to treat it. Would like some
< You Oscar probably has an internal infection. Treat with a
combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. A hospital tank would
Awkward/Erratic behaviors and
Symptoms of My Tiger Oscars 3/8/10
<Hello! Melinda with you here tonight.>
I'm emailing you with some concerns about my two Tiger Oscars.
About a week and a half ago my two tiger Oscars have been showing some
awkward behavior, and symptoms.
The bigger one has more awkward behavior than the smaller Oscar which
shows more physical symptoms. I have a 30 gallon tank with a Fluval U2
blower/filter, and a 150Watt water heater.
<How large are these fish? The reason I ask is that they should be
at least six to seven inches long now, and I can't imagine fitting
both of them into a 30 gallon aquarium. The minimum for one Oscar would
be 55 gallons, though I'd be more comfortable with 75, and for two
Oscars who aren't a breeding pair, you'd need at least a
six-foot tank to house them both, especially after they reach sexual
maturity. This is due to a number of factors: The necessary dilution of
waste, the resulting water quality, and territoriality on the part of
The blower/filter is kept clean and maintained every time I clean the
tank. The tank is cleaned once a week.
<How are you "cleaning?" Is this just a partial water
change/gravel vacuum, or are we talking about a total overhaul? How are
you cleaning the filter? Are you using tap water to clean the
biological media, or swishing it in old tank water to clear debris?
Please be more detailed here. The reason I ask is that something's
wrong with water quality in this tank. These fishes' symptoms are
typical of fish kept in dirty tanks. Now, a lot of this has to do with
how much bioload you've got, and part of it may have to do with an
interrupted biological cycle. Please read here on the biological cycle:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm. Please test
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and pH. You can have this done at your fish
store, or purchase the test kits yourself. Ultimately, what I'd
like you to provide me with are actual numbers which correspond to each
of those tests if you feel they're off in any way. If you show
Ammonia, Nitrite over zero, or Nitrate above 20, then you can be sure
that what you're seeing going wrong with your fish is easily fixed
by providing what they need in terms of a cycled, larger
Both Oscars are fed with Hikari Bio Gold+ cichlid pellets, frozen blood
worms (occasionally), and minnows (once in a blue moon). Both Oscars
eat well. They are both about 6 months old.
<Not necessary, and bad for your fish -- in a number of ways. Other
than introducing parasites, they contain Thiaminase, which is bad for
fish. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm.
Every now and then a fishkeeper will have a fish that absolutely
refuses anything but live foods. I have one of these fish, and as a
result, have to dedicate a 55-gallon aquarium to quarantining enough
minnows, ensuring they're healthy, to feed this fish. It's an
absolute pain, and it's not even ensuring the feeders are 100%
healthy. I would avoid feeding your fish minnows, due to all of the
reasons stated above. They obviously take other foods, and it's
just not worth the trouble.>
Larger Tiger Oscar:
He seems fine but when I observe him over a period of time, I notice
that his entire body twitches. His anal fin looks as if something has
eaten away at it. Occasionally, he will take erratic aggression towards
the water heater by biting it quite roughly, or constantly swimming
around it. This I do not understand at all. It is a newer water heater
so maybe this can contribute to it? He also has a white patch on his
side near his tail fin, about the size of a pencil eraser.
<Please test water and get water quality to where it should be.
These symptoms sound indicative of Finrot, and can be treated with
Maracyn. Please read here on Finrot: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BetDisInfeF.htm.
However, treating without first correcting water quality isn't
going to do you any good. For one thing, it will cost a lot more,
because you'll be continuously replacing medication removed during
water changes that you're doing in order to try and correct poor
water quality. The reason that water quality needs to be spot-on is
that your fishes' immune systems have been compromised by poor
conditions; without first correcting environment, it's going to be
that much harder for them to heal.>
Smaller Tiger Oscar:
He seems to be worse off than the other. His scales look to be scraped
off, possibly by scratching his side on the gravel, though I have yet
to see him actually do this. He lies on his side sometimes, if he is
startled. Occasionally I notice him breathing heavily. Fins are fine in
shape but they are beginning to have white spots on them. He has
lightened in color. Once, every night, while sleeping, I will hear him
jolt very abruptly/violently, and harshly enough to make a loud noise
and wake me. This has been happening once a night, every night just
before sunrise. Currently I am watching him as I am typing this, he is
biting at the glass walls of the tank.
<You're also dealing with something else, here, other than poor
water quality. The problem is, Oscars are very territorial, and as they
reach sexual maturity, can become very violent towards other Oscars who
encroach upon their space. Unless you have a mated pair, keeping these
fish in a 30 gallon tank means that pretty soon, even if they both
survive the toxic water conditions they're living in, only one will
be left, due to fighting.>
I've done a 25% water change, added the water conditioner and Rid-
<Why do you believe these fish have Ich? You stated that you have
not actually observed them flashing (rubbing on rocks and decor), and
you mention nothing of the salt-speck type grains which are associated
with Ich. If I'm misunderstanding you, and the fish are flashing,
with the absence of those salt-type specks, flashing can likely be
attributed to ammonia burn, not Ich. I'm asking this because
randomly treating is only going to stress your fish more.>
and also the water temperature has been set to 82-84 degrees.
<This could explain the gasping. Warmer water holds less dissolved
oxygen. I'd turn the temp down, stop dosing with Ich medication,
and get this water tested.>
The carbon filters have also been removed from the Fluval U2. The day
before, I dissolved about 3 tablespoons of pure salt into a cup of the
tank water, and gradually put it into the tank within a time span of
about 6 hours.
<Is this for the Ich? You don't need salt, you need big, big
water changes until you can get the biological filter established.
Then, maybe an antibacterial.>
It seemed to help a bit (calming the fish), but its effects seem to
have worn off. I have done this, two days in a row, so far.
Please advise me as to what I should do for them.
<Test your water. If you have any questions about the results after
reading where I've linked you, please feel free to write back.
Also, the problems we see with Oscars often match the ones you've
written in with -- meaning, of course, that there are way too many
Oscars in too-small tanks, suffering from the effects of poor water
quality. Please see WWM on Oscars and their needs, especially where
system size, filtration are concerned, as well as behavior:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/oscars.htm and the linked
<Abraham, Oscars are really wonderful fish. Unfortunately, their
needs often surpass the care that is offered them, and many die
prematurely as a result. These fish already need more room than
you're giving them, and that's only going to get worse. Also,
they need for you to never think that clear water is clean water, and
test regularly, and maintain the tank in order to keep those parameters
in check. Please write back if you have any questions at all after
Don't want Oscar to suffocate > red streaks on
gills opening and closing mouth/gills
Oscar Can't Breath -- 3/6/10
Hello I have a 6 yr old Oscar. In a 55 gal tank alone. He has
never been sick. I do water changes every week and rinse filters.
March 3 2010.
My problem is Wed of this week I noticed he was opening and
closing his mouth and gills constantly. So I did water check Am
0. Nitrates .20 - pH 7.0 - Nitrites were high at 1. So I
immediately did a 30% water change Wed 25% Thurs and 25% Fri. I
added Nitra-Zorb and Prime and salt. Today the nitrites were down
to .25. He is still opening and closing his mouth and gills, not
swimming hanging at the top and bottom, This happened suddenly.
He ate Mon and Tues stopped Wed. In the picture I noticed some
reddish/brown on the gills. I usually have Nitrates between
10-40. I will say I haven't checked the nitrites in awhile,
its usually 0, but I do check Ammonia and Nitrates every
I have an Aqua Clear 110 and a Marineland 200 and 2 air stones, a
power head that I added today. The water temp is between 76-78.
He did have white spots on his pectoral fins 2 weeks ago but they
cleared up. My fish store thought it was from him banging around
in the tank. The last picture shows the white spots.
I need help as soon as possible for possible treatment. Is this
breathing caused by nitrites or a gill disease? I don't want
to see my Oscar suffocate.
First time here so hope you answer directly to my email. I hope
the pictures are not so big I have no clue how to make them
<I would recommend a 50% water change, clean the filters and
vacuum the gravel. If you have been giving him feeder fish then
he may have gill flukes. These can be controlled with Fluke-Tabs.
The holes at the bottom of the jaw and the holes along the
lateral line look like Hole-In-The-Head Disease. I treat with a
combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. I would also
change the diet to a high quality pellet food.-Chuck.>
Re: Don't want Oscar to suffocate
> red streaks on gills opening and closing mouth/gills
Oscar Not Eating
Chuck thanks for answering he is not eating. Last time was
Wednesday. I don't feed feeder fish ever. I do feed pellet
food, frozen blood worms and frozen shrimp, and peas
Should I treat with HITH medicine? Or for a bacterial gill
< Treat for Hole-In-The-Head. Stop feeding the frozen blood
Re: Don't want Oscar to suffocate > red streaks on
gills opening and closing mouth/gills
Oscar Not Eating II
Chuck I forgot to say in the last email. I did 3 water changes
and vacuumed and rinsed the media filters this week. He is not
eating. I looked down his mouth don't see anything stuck What
causes the open mouth and gills? Nitrite poison? or hole in the
head? Thanks for help from NH USA Ms Fran
< The frozen blood worms may contain minerals/toxins picked up
from the mud they live in. They stress the digestive system and
lead to internal bacterial infections. Treat with Metronidazole
and Nitrofuranace as recommended.-Chuck>
Re: Don't want Oscar to suffocate > red streaks on
gills opening and closing mouth/gills
Oscar Not Eating III
This all started last Wed. Last Sun he had frozen peas peeled
soaked in water and a few freeze dried shrimp. He ate on Tues
Hikari pellets (med size) usually he has large. I mix them up
green and red. I soak them first. He was acting normal and eating
until wed. Is why I'm thinking something happened Tues to
cause this problem, he was doing his Oscar business of moving
< Cichlids like your Oscar, have a second set of jaws called
the pharyngeal bones. These jaws may have been damaged from
biting too hard on something. This may account for the sudden
shut down. Try feeding softer food items for a couple of weeks
and see if you can get him to start eating.-Chuck>
I have "rescued" an
injured Oscar and need help! 3/5/10
First, let me say I have had an Oscar before, years ago, and had great
success with him until I rehomed him when he was about four years old
because I relocated across the country. So, I have some experience and
knowledge, but it's rusty as I have not had one for approximately
I saw an Oscar offered on the freecycle loop due to being bullied by
his tankmate. I mistakenly thought this was a much smaller Oscar and
quickly spoke up for him. Turns out he was quite large though under a
year old - probably about 7" long. I currently do not have a large
enough tank for him but will have one within a few weeks if I can get
him recovered/healed. I thought the tank size and other equipment would
be my main obstacle however, I did not bargain for just how injured
this Oscar is.
He has flesh torn away from both of his sides and when they gave him to
me in a bucket, he was going over on his side repeatedly. I put him in
a very small tank - 5 gal - just until he recovers. This all occurred
so quickly I was not prepared with chemicals, aged water, etc.......but
I have been doing 25% water changes with distilled water
<Not necessary or desirable... what is your tap like quality
at least every other day and of course putting in the slime coating and
aquarium salt in each water change, which I age for 24-48 hours. In
addition, I read through your forum tonight and have now checked his
pH. It was in the lower 6.0 range, I now have it up to 7.4 with Epsom
salt & baking soda (thanks so much for that wisdom!).
<Best to do over a period of a few days>
There is absolutely nothing in the tank with him except an aerator
<Needs biological filtration, stat! See WWM re>
I took the filter out today because it was temporarily borrowed from
his former owner and it was also making it harder for him to turn about
and with regular 25% water changes someone had advised me that I could
probably do without the filter for now (he's not excreting much
waste which I will explain in a moment).
<Does pass out ammonia through the gills... toxic>
The temp is ranging about 72-78 degrees, usually more on the higher
than the lower side. He's not going on his side anymore but he has
not eaten one morsel of food in the 8-9 days he has been here.
<I would not feed this fish till, and soon, it gets moved to larger,
I emailed his former owner and it turns out the one who was bullying
him is not eating either. Now I suspect they were actually mating
(I'm pretty sure they grew up together) though according to her, he
was going to get killed if he (she?) remained in the tank with the
other one. So, I'm not sure if I should recommend he go back into
that tank because neither Oscar is happy at this point and the food I
am trying to feed him is some of the food they sent with him, so I know
it's what he is accustomed to eating.
<Need to be separated>
Or are there are other reasons he might not be eating - stress, temp,
pH (just adjusted that tonight), the transition, etc....and if so, why
wouldn't the other one be eating as well since he suffered no
changes except the loss of his tankmate?
<Could just be the separation>
Unfortunately I did not check the pH of the water he came in nor do I
have the capability to check ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, etc....
<Need to have>
though I do have a pool testing kit which is stored in my shed - I can
pull it out but am not even sure it will test for what I need. I am a
single disabled mom so I am limited financially on what I can buy/do so
would appreciate your input but please keep my limitations in mind and
advise only the most pertinent tasks/expenses to pursue. Thanks so
<You may be better/best off "free cycling" this Oscar in
turn. In the meanwhile, peruse WWM's coverage on the species. Bob
Oscar Health Issues.
Oscar Sick In Large Community Tank 3/2/10
I have an issue that I need some help with. I am keeping a tank for a
friend who is moving and I have had the tank set up for about 3 months
now at my house.
The tanks is 125g and has two air pumps and a standard filter on it.
There are two large bubble discs run by one of the pumps and two 12 x
24 UGF's on the other air pump.
The fish in the tank are:
1-Peach Albino Oscar (10 inches)
1-Pleco (10 inches)
1- Goldfish (6 inches)
2- Kio (3 inches)
1- Chinese Algae Eater (2 inches)
Background: Prior to my friends move he had 2 Oscars that were the same
size, the black Oscar started loosing scales and ended up dying. Some
of the other fish started showing similar signs and started having fin
issues as well. When I set the tank up I treated the tank using Melafix
for the fin and skin issues and treated for bacteria and parasites (as
per the pet store). Everything seemed to be going good and all of the
fish were doing great.
About a week ago, I noticed the Oscar seemed to be having issues
It seemed that it would swim in a straight line (as usual), then start
to swim up to the surface (again as usual), but it would then almost
fall backwards and sideways almost upside down (new to my observation).
This only happened once or twice so I passed it off, after testing the
water and everything was where it normally was I didn't pay much
attention to it. Now this behavior has increased in frequency and it
seems that when these issues start happening that the Oscar is having
more trouble swimming.
Earlier tonight I saw the Oscar swimming at "full speed" but
was not really moving at all, once the Oscar stopped swimming it
started floating backwards.
This is not constant behavior, it will be fine and then these issues
will just start. Like I said they are coming more frequently now
As for maintenance, I do a 10-15% water chance every 2-3 weeks. I check
the chemicals 2-3 times a week and adjust accordingly (I will put
current test results at the bottom). I just did a water change this
past weekend and it is Monday night and the water is looking cloudy
For the diet, the Oscar eats Oscar Show with "treats" of
Blood Worms and Brine Shrimp, and I'm sure it steals some of the
flakes that I give to the other fish.
None of the other fish seem to be acting any differently, one of the
Kio was "playing" in the bubbles a few days ago and that is a
new behavior from them. Other than that nothing is out of the
Water levels as of 10 minutes ago:
< Ammonia levels should be zero.>
I'm at a loss. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
<Clean the regular filter once every two weeks. On the weeks you do
not change the filter I would recommend vacuuming the gravel when you
do your water changes. I would change the diet and stop feeding
bloodworms. These may be causing an internal bacterial infection. If
things get worse, I would recommend trying a hospital tank with the
Oscar with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Treat on
the 1st , 3rd and 5th day. Do 50% water changes in between