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FAQs on Oscar Disease/Health 10

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Oscar Fish Sick :( 6/2/10
Hi there, I'm Ashlea!
<Hello 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 treated
<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 issue.>
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 fish.
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, Neale.>

Oscar w/ tumor for a few months started swimming sideways...
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 you, Ryan
< 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 Drsfostersmith.com too.-Chuck>

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 ailment.
From what I can discern it appears that he is having problems with his swim bladder, most likely caused by an obstruction in his stomach.
<"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 change).
<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 massage).
<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 I requested.>
Thank you,
<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 their sizes.>

Re: Oscar with Swim Bladder problem 4/28/10
Hi Melinda,
<Hi Stephan.>
Thank you for your help.
<You're welcome.>
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 throat.
<Don't worry about it right now. Fish can go quite a while.>
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... RMF>>
Do you have any other treatment suggestions?
<Not treatment, per se, but my suggestions are above.>
Thank you,
<You're welcome.>

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 more area.>
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 same symptoms.
<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 away quickly.
I really have no idea what the problem is.
I have had them for about 4-5 days now, They have shown signs of Comfort
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, feeding:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/oscarfdgfaqs.htm 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
here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwestcycling.htm and those linked files above.>
But I Completely Changed the water in the tank 2 Days ago due to fogginess,
<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 more
than you're offering right now, and it is really important that you use this information to educate yourself about their needs.>
Thank you,
Cookie Monster
Another room mate for Oscars in tiny tank... Oh and w/ a goldfish tankmate...
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 now)
<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, understanding
Melinda Thanks for your help,
<You're welcome.>
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 levels.
<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 parameters?>
and If I keep doing huge water changes How will I ever Build up good bacteria,
<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 guys?
<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 this tank?>
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 practice.
Re: BERT AND ERNIE! Chatting "while Rome burns"
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.
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!
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!
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 these numbers.

Oscars... hlth., sys., -- 4/4/10
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 has not.
<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 strong.>
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 Litre tank,
<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 fighting.>
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 questions.
If you do write back, would you mind attaching a photo of his "bad side?"
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 ?
<Mmm, yes>
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 have 30
centimeters. The External filter is a [image: EHEIM Au├čenfilter professionel
3 2080]<https://www.aquaristikshop.com/cgi-bin/neu/webshop.pl?userid=ztoHtMVnf7O7gsL0o0N4l8tBlecxGWBDSRE&f=NR&c=208001&t=temartic_e>
External Filter professionel 3
2080< https://www.aquaristikshop.com/cgi-bin/neu/webshop.pl?userid=ztoHtMVnf7O7gsL0o0N4l8tBlecxGWBDSRE&f=NR&c=208001&t=temartic_e>
.<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.
Best Regards
Eric Cardoso
<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. -- 03/23/10
> 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
Hi Bob,
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.
Cheers, Neale
<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, here:
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 problems.
<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 to.
<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 issues.>
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. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sick Oscar (the plot thinnens: the Oscar is in 39.5 gallons) 3/24/10
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 looking clean.>
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 you know.
<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 great value.
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, right ?
<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 vet.
Without Metronidazole, this disease will get worse and eventually the fish.>
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 issue here.>
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 lice)? <<Not>>
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 head.
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 any help.
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 fatty.-Chuck>

Oscar bloated belly. 3/11/10
Bloated Oscar
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 soon).
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 clarification.
< You Oscar probably has an internal infection. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. A hospital tank would be best.-Chuck>

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 each Oscar.>
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 system.>
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- Ich,
<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 files above.>
<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 reading.

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 month.
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 smaller.
Thanks Fran
<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 3/7/2010
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 occasionally.
Should I treat with HITH medicine? Or for a bacterial gill disease?
< Treat for Hole-In-The-Head. Stop feeding the frozen blood worms.-Chuck>
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 things around.
< 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 12 years.
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 wise?>
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, cycled quarters>
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 much!!
Take care,
<You may be better/best off "free cycling" this Oscar in turn. In the meanwhile, peruse WWM's coverage on the species. Bob Fenner>

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 swimming.
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 again.
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 ordinary.
Water levels as of 10 minutes ago:
pH- 7.2
Nitrite- 0
Nitrate- 7
Ammonia- .25
< Ammonia levels should be zero.>
I'm at a loss. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Greg
<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 treatments.-Chuck>

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