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FAQs on Oscar Disease/Health 7

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesIch/White Spot Disease, Freshwater MedicationsOscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Oscar Disease 1, Oscar Disease 2, Oscar Disease 3, Oscar Disease 4, Oscar Disease 5, Oscar Disease 6, Oscar Disease 8, Oscar Disease 9, Oscar Disease 10, Oscar Disease 11, Oscar Disease 12, Oscar Disease 13, Oscar Disease 14, Oscar Disease 15, Oscar Disease 16,
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7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!!  & bacterial dis. f'  10/4/08
The part where the fins connect to his body (the end of the fins - but closest to the body) is actually really red. And there are white pimple looking things that have come & gone through this whole thing. Some big, some small, sometimes some, sometimes more.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me save my fish!!!! No one knows what to do!!!
Thank you!
<Jill, it's difficult to be 100% sure, but this sounds a lot like Finrot or some related bacterial infection such as Mouth Fungus (Columnaris). These cause clots to develop on the fins, and as the tissue dies, you see red and then white patches as tissue inflames and then dies. Often the fins become ragged as well, with the fin membrane retreating from the distal end of the fin, leaving behind the bony rays. A photo would help. In any case, for now, do two things. Firstly, treat with a suitable antibacterial or antibiotic medication; in the US, Maracyn seems to be the drug of choice for this. Make sure you remove carbon while treating (if you use carbon) and do take care to follow the instructions correctly. Secondly, review water chemistry and quality: cichlids are very sensitive to poor conditions, and react negatively to them quite speedily. In particular, ensure that the pH is stable (Oscars don't much care what the pH is, but do insist that the pH is stable) and also review water quality, obviously making sure ammonia/nitrite are zero but also checking nitrate is comparatively low (ideally < 20 mg/l). Just to be sure, also check the temperature; cichlids get sick very quickly if exposed to chilly conditions. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! -- 09/04/08
Thank you for your response but please read part one to better understand! I will copy & paste it incase you can't readily find it! Thank you!!! :) Please help me save my fish!!!!
I am at my wits end!!! I have had an albino Oscar named Oscy for 7 years. He started out in a 55 gallon and was moved 3.5 years ago to a 120 gallon. He is about 16+ inches and is in there by himself. He shared the 55 with a Plec but he didn't make it to the new tank. :(
He has two power filters - an Aquaclear 500 & a Tetra Whisper 3. The water was checked by the local aquarium store & is perfect. A few months ago, one of his fins became very red along the "veins" and two of the "veins" were puffed up. He still ate & behaved normally.
<Classic Finrot symptom. The "veins" you refer to are presumably the fin rays, the bony supports that hold open the membrane.>
For years (definitely the 3.5 since he's been in the 120 gallon) he's been eating 10 tetra cichlid sticks with 6 drops of VitaChem at about 7AM. He had gotten hole in the head years back when the power was out from hurricanes and the vitamins cured it - also taking out the carbon (I never put carbon in again) - & he never had a problem with that again. He would
always come to the top at about the same time to eat.
The fin started looking better in Aug, & so I did nothing. In Sept however, he stopped eating and stayed at the bottom. I went to the store & the owner told me to try Melafix.
I put the Melafix in for 7 days as per the directions and then changed the water. His fin was getting noticeably better and he was swimming around more normally but still not eating.
<No surprise; Melafix is at best a preventative with value in reducing the likelihood of infections following, for example, shipping. But it is far too inconsistent to be useful once a fish gets sick. You really need to use something that has been medically tested across a range of situations and species. Maracyn is popular in the US, here in the UK I happen to favour eSHa 2000.>
I still put 5 sticks with vitamins in almost everyday and he must nibble because he couldn't have survived this long without food!!!
<Do, please, review environmental conditions. Finrot comes from two main sources: physical damage (e.g., clumsy netting) or poor water quality. What happens is the mucus layer on the fish is diminished and the immune response of the fish is weakened. Bacteria that otherwise do no harm can now enter the fish and cause inflammation and ultimately tissue death. Left untreated there is a very real risk of Septicaemia.>
I then did a water change - I normally do a water change of a third to a half once a week and sometimes more frequently. (4 or 5 days) I then did a second treatment of the Melafix. His fins look basically 100%, but he seemed sluggish again after the second treatment. Still not eating but I continue to put food in.
<As I say, Melafix is useless here.>
I waited a week or so to let him recuperate, but even though his fins look ok, he is more & more sluggish, just sitting at the bottom. I put a dose of Clout in.
<Why? Clout is a treatment for a subset of parasites. Not the problem here, is it? Do resist blindly adding random medications -- how scary would it be if your doctor did this!>
For a while he seemed to be swimming more normally! But now he seems like he's not able to swim very well at all. And the whole time since he started not eating he seemed to be breathing heavy at times.
<Treat. NOW!!!>
It's gotten to the point where he looks fine - maybe a little red near the edge of the fins near the body? - fins look normal, but he just sits at the bottom. Doesn't eat. Breathes heavy. Spurts of seeming like he's ok, then... And the recent addition of seeming like it's hard for him to swim. He has his bottom fins clamped while he's sitting there - but that might be normal? They're resting on the gravel.
<Not good.>
I love this fish but have absolutely no idea what to do. I only hope he's not suffering.
<He is; it's the fish equivalent of gangrene. Not nice, so run to the pet store and get some Maracyn (or whatever).>
Please help!!! If you need any more info please ask. I really don't know what to do!!!
Thank you!!!!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! -- 09/04/08
Thank you for trying to help me - no one else seems to be able to or care!!!
<Oh? Well, glad we can help.>
I put the Clout because it listed being for symptoms of heavy breathing, lying on the bottom... And the guy in the fish store said they use that.
The thing that makes me confused into not thinking it's fin rot is because his fins look fine! The redness & swelling are totally gone!
<Well, that's a good thing.>
What he has is the redness at the end of the fins near the body. And he breathes kind of heavy & doesn't swim much. And when he does it seems difficult.
<Bacterial infections weaken the fish, and eventually the bacteria get into the body itself, not just the skin, causing serious harm, potentially organ failure and death.>
And he doesn't eat - though like I said I assume he must...?
<Oscars can go weeks without food. Not an issue. Concentrate on treating the disease. Once healthy, he will eat again.>
And the water has always been tested & good quality.
<Meaning what...? Please, give us numbers: pH, nitrite, nitrate at minimum.>
And the only damage he could've had is from digging holes in the gravel.
So I don't see how it's fin rot.
<Well, without a photo can't be 100% sure, but it is by far the most common reason fish get "red fins".>
But as soon as the store opens I will get Maracyn.
I hope this works!!!
<So do I.>
I will keep you posted and if you have any other ideas please tell me!
Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh! One more thing! With the second treatment of Melafix they told me to put in aquarium salt. They told me to do half the dose. Is this useless too?
I can't find much on Septicemia - but this* is what I found on fishforums.net
He has no sores but the rest sounds close...
Should I get Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride Powder? I don't even know what it is?
Should I try the Maracyn first?
*Septicemia: A fairly rare to common in all tropical and coldwater fish. It is caused by bad tank conditions and is very hard to cure if not impossible. Bacterial Hemorrhagic Septicemia can be diagnosed by red streaking of the fins and body and once this disease progresses, ulcerations and body sores start to appear. There is significant loss of appetite, lethargy, loss of motor functions in the later stages of the disease.
Treatment: I recommend using Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride Powder obtained from a vet to cure this disease.
<Septicaemia is simply a bacterial infection of the blood. Nothing more, nothing less. It's what in humans is often called "blood poisoning". The classic situation is where an external wound or burn becomes infected with opportunistic bacteria, i.e., Finrot, and these are able to breech the fish's natural defenses and travel around its body via the blood. With fish at least, septicaemia is very difficult to treat reliably, which is why treating external bacterial infections promptly is so critical. Messing about with salt, Melafix and other half-baked solutions may be cheap and appealing, but because they don't work reliably (if at all) all you're doing is swapping an easy to treat infection like Finrot for a difficult/impossible to cure case of septicaemia. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!!   10/8/08
Hi there! I put the Maracyn 2 in. He is moving around a bit more but still mostly sitting on the bottom & breathing kind of heavy. He seems to not be able to swim very easily when he does get a burst of energy to move.
<If the bacterial infection is severe, it will take time for him to get better.>
I have 2 more doses to put in. I am wondering what to do next!!!
Do I change the water & do another 5 day treatment?
<Yes; at the end of each course, I'd do at least 25% water change, even 50% if you are able to keep water chemistry relatively stable. Then start a new course of treatment.>
Do I try something else?
Do I wait?
For how long?
<Impossible to know. May well take a month or more for him to get to full health.>
Please help!!!
The fins look fine, and even the redness on the edges near the body are getting less red.
<Good sign.>
Will he get better?
<Hope so!>
Does it just take time?
<As does everything in life.>
I'm very worried & want him to get better!
Thank you for your help & advice!!! :)
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! 10/8/08

Ok just to make sure - the last dose is Thurs. So do a water change Fri & then put the next dose right in?
Thank you soooooo much btw!!!! I don't know who you are but I hope everything good comes to you!!! :D
<That's very kind! Good luck to you and your fish, Neale.>
Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! -- 10/10/08
One more question - sorry! :o The very first dose of Maracyn 2 is double what you put for the next 4 doses. So since this is the second treatment, should I just do the single dose for 5 days or start fresh with the double dose? (That's the one I was assuming...?) <With antibiotics, you MUST always do precisely what the prescription or instructions say; unless you're an MD or a vet (and I'm neither) coming up with your own doses is a very bad idea, and how things like antibiotic resistance get bred into bacteria.> And then how long should I continue this? I mean, once I give a second treatment for 5 days, do I keep on until he's totally 100% better or is there a point where that's enough/too much meds?! <You can stop after the second set of treatments, wait a couple weeks, and see if things are improving or not.> Like what's the maximum number of 5 day treatments I should do? (& should it always be the double dose for the first of the 5 days?) <I do not know the maximum number of doses. Antibiotics are not available over the counter here in the UK and I have no experience of using them with fish. Consult with a vet or the manufacturer; I suspect any answers from non-medically trained fishkeepers will be nothing more than guesses.> Hopefully he'll be well after this second treatment :D but in case not... I suppose I can judge his wellness by when he actually starts swimming to the top to eat again! I put 5 tetra cichlid sticks with the vitamins in every day & it floats to the bottom. He must be eating it cause he would've starved by now! He used to eat 10 of those every morning - always swimming to the top to get them... Thank you!!! :) <You're welcome, Neale.>
Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! 8/18/08
I was just reading on your sire & it hit me that I forgot to mention eating & "going"... <Going where...? For a walk? To the post office...?> I never see him eat - but I put sticks with vitamins in everyday & assume he has to be eating, though when I change the water there's a lot there... I just assume he must be eating some! <Mostly Oscars are overfed. Anyway, they like variety, and tend to become "hooked" on one brand or type of food if used too often. Alternate between sticks one day, mussels the next, snails the next, unshelled shrimp after that, and so on.> Have no idea if he's "going or not... I was also reading about Epsom salt. Should I try this? <Does your fish look constipated? If your fish has a clean anus and a gently rounded by not swollen belly, then constipation is unlikely a key issue. If a fish is sick, it shouldn't be fed much if at all. Oscars can go a long time without food. Offer him something tasty like an earthworm every few days. If he's up for that, then try one or two more that day, but then let him fast for another 2-3 days afterwards.> I don't know what to do for the poor thing!!! <Indeed.> I don't want him to die - and most of all I don't want him to suffer!!!!!! <Agreed.> He's moved a bit around the tank but still lying on his side... His body looks fine, fins are better... <Good.> One other thing is that once in a while it'll look like he's "burping"...? <Well, obviously fish don't burp. But they sometimes seem to "cough" when masticating food as they move it around their front jaws and the pharyngeal teeth in their throats. In itself nothing to worry about.> There is some medicine I've seen mentioned that starts with an M... <Not Melafix, I hope. It's rubbish.> And Methylene Blue I know of. Should I add salt? <Why? It's not a brackish water fish.> Medicate more? <I'd perhaps do a nice big water change (say, 25-50%) and not treat for a week. See how things progress. Do take care water quality is good and there's lots of circulation.> What do I do???? :( Thank you for your help!!! Maybe you can ask the others there to see if they have heard of this either? So many different people say so many different things! I'm trying to find a fish dry with not much luck... I found two places I'm going to try to call - not sure if I can get them on the weekend... <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! 8/18/08
Hi there! I really need some more advice - the last dose was Thurs. I changed the water Fri. All day Fri & Sat (today) he was in the corner (which isn't unusual - they pick their spots in the tank :) - but he was leaning to one side - his left, which is the side his fin was bad on. <I shouldn't read too much into which side he was leaning on.> Now Oscars do lean to the side like that, but he just stayed like that. Well now he's out in front, but still leaning that way. He's not breathing really heavy, maybe a bit more than normal - can't really tell. <Do check the filter, and perhaps add additional aeration.> It's just the leaning to that side. He's not like lying down, just tilted that way. What does this mean? <Without a photo, impossible to say. He may be weak or just plain tired. Does he look swollen or constipated? If he does, then treating with Epsom Salt might help. Otherwise I'd review water quality and water chemistry just to make sure everything was fine, and then let things be. If he's getting better -- and it sounds as if he is -- then best to keep doing what you're doing and let him heal.> I don't know what to do!!! It seems there's nothing I CAN do... Is there? <Remember, much medicine comes down to nixing the source of the disease and then giving time for the body to heal itself. There's no magic alternative to "time the great healer" for either fish or humans. Please advise! Thank you!!! <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!!    10/19/08
Ok - still leaning, but now he has a small bubble (looks like the kind you blow with gum or the kids stuff with the wand) coming out of his anus. It's small - about the size of your pinky nail area. But I just saw this today. Maybe that is from gas since I did notice that "burping" motion? What is that? What can I do??? Please help!!! <Could be a slight prolapse, which can be improved with time and Epsom salt treatment. It's really difficult to make a diagnosis without a photo. Would heartily recommend getting a sharp photo (not too big, <500 kb). Failing that, take the fish to a vet. Cheers, Neale.>
I FORGOT THIS!!! Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!!
I forgot to mention that he's almost completely on his side now & his breathing is slow! <Well this isn't good.> If he is on his way, what can I do to make it easier for him? <On his way where? Dying? In that case do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm > How long would it take? Is there anything I can  do to try to save him??? <If all else fails: the vet! There's only so much I can do without a photo.> :( :( :(
<Cheers, Neale.>

PICTURES!!! Re: I FORGOT THIS!!! Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! <Right. The anus is prolapsed, and all else being equal this can be undone over time. But the fish is quite clearly very, very sick. The eyes are popping out, and if both eyes are like this, it's a pretty good sign of a systemic bacterial infection. Almost always this follows on from chronic water quality/water chemistry issues. The colour is very pale, and I'm assuming this is some sort of albino. That being the case, albino fish are invariably weaker than the regular sort, and that gives you little margin of error. My gut feeling is that euthanasia is the only option here. Otherwise this fish will need to see a vet, stat. There's nothing over the counter I can think of that will take this fish back to good health if it's half dead already. Cheers, Neale.> Re: PICTURES!!! Re: I FORGOT THIS!!! Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! His eyes aren't popping out...? <Look up "exophthalmia" in your fish health book, or in Google images.> He is an albino. <Yep.> You said this prolapse (?) can be reversed - HOW??? <Time, good water quality, basically solid health. Epsom salt treatment will help. Use the WWM search tool for this.> There are no fish vets. <Sure there are.> There is a pond dr - he basically said if the fish isn't eating then there's nothing I can do. <Not true, but certainly once fish reach the point that they're not eating anymore it's often hard to pull them back.> I don't know if he's eaten or not. <Well, assume not, and don't worry about it. Starvation isn't what's killing this fish.> But maybe if I can reverse that thing he will get better. <A prolapse is a symptom of a bacterial infection of the gut. When the bacteria go, the prolapse usually reverse. It's a symptom, not a disease, so don't focus on it too much. It's like when someone has a runny nose, it's the cold virus that's making them sick, not the mucous. Metronidazole can help deal with whatever is irritating the intestine. Again, the search tool will help you review previous comments on WWM re: Metronidazole and prolapses. Cheers, Neale.> HELP!!! Re: PICTURES!!! Re: I FORGOT THIS!!! Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!! He's now standing up... <Well, that's good, it by "standing up" you mean he's swimming normally.> What does this mean? What do I do? <Keep up whatever you're doing. Sorry there's no silver bullet here. Time, use of antibiotics and perhaps Metronidazole and Epsom salts may provide some assistance. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: HELP!!! Re: PICTURES!!! Re: I FORGOT THIS!!! Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!!
He's gone.
Thank you for all your help! We tried. At least he's not suffering.
<Sorry for your loss. As always, try to temper the situation by learning from it: review water chemistry, water quality, diet and other issues before you think about buying a replacement. Oscars are lovely "pets", but the more inbred forms such as albinos and veil-tails are much less robust than the standard Oscar, so you might want to think about this issue as well. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!!
There are no fish vets here!!!!
You keep saying that! There's no such thing!!!
<I admit not all vets will treat fish. But some do, and with a bit of telephoning around, or asking your local retailer, you should be able to find one locally. Treating fish generally isn't expensive, as the vet will often prescribe stuff you can use at home. Here in the UK there is a division of the British Veterinary Association that maintains a network of vets who treat fish. I'd imagine many other countries have similar organisations.
And you can't bring a 16+ inch fish to a vet anyway!!!
<Yes you can. People take Koi carp to vets, and they're MUCH bigger than Oscars. The "trick" is to use a really big container, like a 5-gallon bucket or a plastic picnic cooler.>
Do they actually have fish vets where you are???
The only thing they have here is pond Dr.s - they're extremely expensive - they only deal with Koi that are thousands of dollars!
<Koi are indeed expensive, and that's why people are willing to spend money treating them. With aquarium fish prevention is invariably better than cure, which is why, with things like Oscars, you'll understand why we recommend big tanks, generous filtration, regular water changes, and proper food. Live foods such as feeder fish shouldn't be used because of the major risk of introducing disease. I always stress my preference for "wild type" fish over inbred albinos and the like because the less inbred the fish is, the less likely it is to get sick. Things some breeders find "pretty", such as albinism, rarely go along with improvements in vigour!>
How do I do the Epsom salt treatment?
<Described elsewhere on WWM; use the Search tool.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
PLEASE HELP!!! Re: 7 year old Oscar - forgot this!!!
I tested the water - it's fine.
He's lying more to his side.
He once in a while looks like he's burping.
The breathing seems normal - maybe a little rapid - can't tell.
I don't know what to do for him!!!
Please help!!!
Thank you!!
<What? I though this fish died? Confused. Cheers, Neale.>

Injured Oscar Fish: How to help it  10/1/08
Dear sir or madam,
I'm writing to ask for your help with my tiger Oscar cichlid fish.
My fish is currently in a 55 gallon tank.
Two days ago it had a blood parrot cichlid for a tankmate.
The two fish got into a fight while I was at work.
Each fish was de-scaled by the other (don't know if that's the right term for it).
Basically the top layer of scales in a small area on the Oscar's left side is gone, and I can kind of see the flesh underneath.
The parrot was also beat up badly. I removed it to a 40 gallon.
The Oscar, now by itself in a 55, is now refusing to eat.
<Not a worry... will do so in time>
It doesn't swim around like it use to; just sits at the bottom of the tank motionlessly.
Sometimes when I check in on it, I think its dead. I'm really scared. I love my Oscar.
I keep the water in perfect condition, so water quality is not a problem.
I want to ask you if this behavior was normal for a recuperating Oscar?
<Very much so, yes>
I'm not familiar with fish behavior during times like this, so I'm really worried.
Is it lethargic because it's in the process of healing from the wound?
<And psychologically, yes>
Or is it suffering from some disease I might not know about?
<Not likely>
Can a wound like that lead to any diseases or infection?
Please help me with this. I just want to help it get better.
What can I do to help it?
<Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. I'd just monitor water quality, keep offering foods daily... Bob Fenner>

Red Hairs coming out of my Oscar's anus, reading   08/28/08 Hello, <Hi there> I've read through your site (awesome by the way) and found similar problems as my Oscar, but not exactly. I have a 3" tiger Oscar for 3 weeks now (first time owner), and he has developed a swollen anus with little red hairs coming out of it. What is this? <Likely Camallanus> What can I do about? Should I be worried? Please help him! Thanks, Pino <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/nematodesfwf.htm Needs to be treated with a Anthelminthic... Bob Fenner>

Sick Oscar - need help ASAP please, env., reading re HLLE   8/26/08 Hello, <Eddie> I have had this Oscar fish for over 2 years. He lives in a 60g <Needs more room than this> aquarium along with 3 parrot fish, Gourami, Knifefish and a Pleco. Ever since he developed the hole in the head disease (1.5 years ago), I've been changing 50% of the water in this tank biweekly. <... this won't cure this> He eats dry pellets (3 different types) and blood worms. The development of the HITH disease stopped as soon as I started changing the water on a biweekly basis. However, 4 days ago I noticed that my fish started developing another "hole" but this time it was surrounded by what looked like a bruise. Today, I saw a white film coming off the spot of the new hole (please see attached photos). I've also started feeding it with frozen dry krill 2 days ago, hoping that it might help. I have already made 2 50% water changes in the past week and have another one scheduled for tonight. Otherwise, he still eats and swims OK. There are no signs of parasites or visible bacteria nor there are signs of blood. Please let me know what you think that it can possible be. Any help will be greatly appreciated by both me and my Oscar fish. Thank you, Eddie <See above... this world is too small... likely has "metabolite accumulation issues", e.g. nitrate poisoning... Need a larger system, and reading: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs3.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Re: Sick Oscar - need help ASAP please  8/26/08 Thank you Bob for your prompt reply. I will certainly read the HLLE FAQ and I've been looking into getting a bigger system. Based on the pictures, do you think that I have another case of HLLE in him at the moment? <Mmm, not able to discern... looks more like a mechanical injury/trauma to me> This "injury" doesn't quite look like a hole in the head. Also, the white spot he had on his back seemed to disappear after a few water changes and two days of Krill and bloodworms diet. Right now I change 25% of the water once a day and hoping that the fish can recover on its own without an addition of any medications. (for the next week or so) Link to pictures: http://picasaweb.google.ca/edikpok/SickOscar?authkey=cuFXjhQnOaQ <Improve this animal's world and you will improve its health. Cheers, BobF>
Oscar Gill Sticking Out   8/11/08 Hi we have an Oscar fish for almost a year and we just changed him to a new 55 gallon tank. My question and concern is that if looking at him his left gill seems to be coming out further than his right when breathing. He also seems to be opening his mouth more when he takes a breath. I'm not sure why one gill is pushed out further than the other, our other fish/ Oscars are fine. Please help!!! Thank you. < I think what you mean is that the one gill cover doesn't completely close and maybe stays out a little more than the other one. There could be a growth or something within the gill that is preventing it from closing the whole way. I would remove the fish and restrain him with a wet towel from the aquarium and hold him down and gently pry back the suspect gill cover and look quickly with a flashlight to see if anything was in the way. Without actually seeing anything then I might suspect gill flukes and treat with Fluke-Tabs. Flukes could have come in with feeder fish.-Chuck>

Re: Oscar fish Oscar With Stuck Gill II  8/11/08 Thank you so much for your reply. The Oscar fish seems to be healthy except for the fact that his left gill doesn't open at all. The weird thing is that both gills work fine while he eats. He seems to be eating as much as usual, but his breathing is a bit irregular and a bit faster than usual. Do you think that taking Oscar out of the tank and putting him on a towel to inspect his non-working gill won't traumatizing him in some way? < It is going to be your call. You are correct that this will stress you Oscar in some way, but not moving water through this gill is like you trying to breath with one lung. The only way to find out what is going on is to inspect the area. If he gets worse then it will become more stressful later on.> We have already lost three of our oldest fish (when we did the switch to the new 55 gal tank) and we would really hate to do anything that might put his life in any kind of danger. The water is in optimal condition, their diet doesn't include any live fish, and the temp is an even 78°. We do a tank clean-up once a month which includes a filter and a 5 gal water change (we only use drinking water since our tap water is way to hard). Please advise, thanks again for all your help! Santi & Sky < Hard to believe that with a 5 gallon water change you don't have higher nitrates. Another potential problem may be some ammonia burn when the new tank was changes over. This is caused by an ammonia spike and it actually eats away or burns some of the gill filaments. These may heal over time.-Chuck>

Re: Oscar fish Changing Water In An Oscar Tank   8/13/08 Are you saying that is NOT good to change 5 gals out of 55 gals every month while cleaning the bottom gravel? Even though it's drinking water? Are you saying that it has to be a bigger qty. of water that needs to be changed? Could you please explain that to us, we keep getting different stories from different people :(Thanks again! < Oscars are big messy eaters. You are probably changing less than 10% of the water. It is hard to believe that your nitrates are not a problem. Usually I recommend at least a 25% weekly water change for such large fish, but you say the water chemistry is fine. As long as the fish are doing ok then that is all that really matters.-Chuck>

Very Sick Oscars  7/9/08 Hi, <Hello!> I've read over some of the questions and answers on your site, but I'm still not positive I've found enough of an answer, so hopefully you can help me. I have two Oscars that are about three years old and have never had problems other than a few incidents of HITH which cleared up in a few days. About two days ago I found one of the Oscars laying on his side on the bottom of the tank with what looked like a large bubble around his anus. The other Oscar seemed fine for a few hours, but then she began swimming face down into the bottom of the tank and just stayed there. She's since been laying on her side on the bottom of the tank with the male Oscar. Thanks to your site, I added some Epsom salt to the water and it seems to have helped. The bubble on the male deflated, but partially came back the next day, but has since disappeared. <Well, that sounds promising at least.> I changed the water completely and washed out the tank and filter with hot water. I removed the gravel and ornamental rocks in case they were housing any diseases/bacteria. Water tests only showed a spike in ammonia from 0 to 1.0 which I'm still treating for, and pH is at 7.0. Nitrate and Nitrite tests show a slight spike as well, and I'm also treating for this. I've removed the two Plecos that share the tank with the Oscars so I can treat the Oscars for various diseases. Over the course of two days, the female has developed swollen gills, but no other visible signs of illness. The male's fins have begun rotting and eyes have become cloudy. I've started the Oscars on Maracyn Two along with the Epsom salt. <Does sound as if these fish are suffering from a range of general illnesses. Do review water chemistry and quality. Ammonia at 1.0 is obviously lethal to most fish, but cichlids are especially intolerant of all the nitrogenous wastes, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Tanks with Oscars and Plecs demand major filtration, so adding another substantial external filter could help in the long term and will certainly do no harm. Big fish also cause pH to fluctuate, a point often overlooked. Review the carbonate hardness of the water and act accordingly. In tanks with big, messy fish there's a good argument for artificially raising the carbonate hardness to at least 5 degrees KH simply because this will neutralise background acidification between water changes.> I've never used feeder fish, but have given them an occasional raw, unshelled shrimp. They usually eat Cichlid pellets, peas, and rarely some fruit. <All sounds fine. The golden rule with raw foods is that marine organisms are safest for freshwater fish because there aren't any parasites that are likely to come from the sea but could infect freshwater fish. So raw shrimp, mussels, lancefish, etc are safe.> Since they've been sick they haven't been eating much. I have to push the peas in front of their mouths, which they rarely take. They try to become active when they see me near the tank, or when I turn the tank light on. I've also added some freshwater salt, and Stress Coat, to help with their breathing, stress, and healing. I'm wondering if you think this could be a bacterial infection that has affected their swim bladder since there are no visible signs (other than the fin rot which has only recently developed) for why they are not able to swim around? <More likely simply a systemic "under the weather" reaction to something environmental, even poisoning, e.g., paint fumes. Do review and act accordingly. Treating for internal bacterial infections (e.g., with Maracyn) is not a bad idea at all. But optimising water quality will be essential.> And I was also wondering if you know of anything else I can do to help them? I know they're tough fish, so I'd hate to give up on them before it's too soon. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide, Brittany. <Not much more I can say without a photo! Do hope this has helped, and I suspect you are doing all the right things anyway. Some info on the size of the tank, filter used, carbonate hardness and water temperature would all be useful. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar with skin problem -- 06/29/08 Hi Bob, I was looking at your website for the first time today. I bumped into it when looking for information about Oscar Diseases. Congratulations, you are a great resource for the non-sabbi aquarium people like me. I've had fish tanks since I can remember, and I love it. I have a 4 year old Oscar, it has always been very healthy. I've never had any problems until last week when my fish just stopped eating. I tried feeding him but he doesn't seem interested in eating, everything else is normal, he seems to be in an excellent form, except he has a skin problem. Now his skin is peeling off and I don't see signs of any other problems just the peeling off, and that's it. He doesn't go to the bottom of the tank or any other weird behavior. Though, it has a big chunk of skin and flesh exposed on the side of his head, but it seems it's all caused by the same thing, there are no other major problems with it. I'm including a picture. Can you tell me what's wrong with my Oscar? <Good graphics... do you feed this fish, tank live freshwater foods?> I couldn't find anywhere information about these symptoms on his skin. I read in your website a comment (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm) by somebody who seems to have the same problem, and his local expert says it might be a nutritional problem, am I dealing with the same kind of problem here, or is it something else? Can you tell by looking at the picture? Thanks, any kind of help will be greatly appreciated. Cesar O. <I can't tell with any great confidence... W/o any further input than the photos I would guess this was a physical complaint... a mechanical injury... Could be microbial... Again, please send info. along re water quality tests, maint. procedures, foods/feeding. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: possibly dumb explanation for the sick Astronotus - 06/29/08 Hi Bob, Looking at those photos got me in mind of a goby I kept that was attacked by Otocinclus sp. catfish. I hadn't thought this was a problem with something as fast-moving as Awaous sp. gobies. Anyway, I was puzzled why this goby was developing a rash on its flanks. Finrot remedy didn't help. Eventually I caught the Otocinclus in the act, grazing away at the mucous and damaging the dermis. Is it possible that this Oscar is cohabiting with a Plec or similar that has developed this habit? Cheers, Neale <Is indeed a possibility. Will accumulate your input here, send on. BobF>

Oscar Issues hlth.  - 06/08/2007 Hi, One of my Oscars has recurrent white circles that come and go, mainly on his head. They typically clear up with water changes, but this time nothing has helped. The tank is a 115 gallon. Today I added a little aquarium salt and have made the water more alkaline, but it's too soon to know if it will help. The pic I've included is a little large, but it's hard to photograph the circles. I'm guessing it's a fungus and maybe this Oscar has a poor immune system because all the other fish in the aquarium seem to be fine. He has had a deformed head since birth, but he's about 10" now and hasn't had any other problems. I am reluctant to medicate because I don't want to compromise the biological filter. Any suggestions? Thanks, Steve <Steve, although I'm not 100% sure (the photo is a bit blurry) my immediate feeling is that these are bite marks. Since you have more than one Oscar in the tank, it's likely they're fighting. Bit marks typically consist not of a single ring, but rather a pattern of tiny scratches (the teeth marks) arranged in a circle. If no serious harm is done, you may as well leave them to it. Medication shouldn't harm the biological filter if used as directed on the packaging. In this case, an anti-Finrot remedy might be in order, just to make sure nothing serious developed. Salt is neither here nor there really, and won't stop a bacterial infection though it may help against fungus. I personally wouldn't bother with salt, and instead would use a proper antibacterial of some kind. Given the fish is otherwise healthy, and these wounds shouldn't have damaged the skin too badly, even something as lightweight as Melafix might have a role. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar in need of help. - 05/31/08 Hello, <Hi there> We have a 10+ year old Oscar that is in need of assistance. My girlfriend and I have been treating the Oscar for a bacteria infection. <... how? With what?> The symptoms were scales pealing off and bleeding, redness in the gills and throat, fin rot and body slime. We have got all of these symptoms under control using T.C. Tetracycline by API (under direction of the local fish store). He has responded well to the medication and these symptoms have subsided. The side affect is that the tank is now pink (all water levels are fine we have been keeping up with this at the local pet store) Unfortunately it appears that there is now a white cotton ball coming out of his colon and he is floating listlessly on his side at the bottom of the tank. On your blog we have found the words "Prolapsed Colon". When this started we were able to feed him some medicated pellets about 2 days ago (Pond anti bacteria medicated fish food) Since then he has lost his appetite and has not passed any food through him. It is our guess that the food that he ate last is rotting in his stomach. <Perhaps> Today we have tried to feed him peas with no success due to his lack of appetite and our limited knowledge on how to force feed a fish. Some of the questions that cross my mind are: Is there anything that we can give him to help him pass what is in his stomach? <Maybe the addition of Epsom Salt...> Is there any remedy for a prolapsed colon? <The above and time going by really> Or could it be fungus coming out of his colon that we need to pull out to help extract what is in the stomach? Please send any advice that you can as soon as you can. We will be waiting eagerly on either email address this one or the CC. We fear he does not have that much time left. Justin/Kelly-Ann <Do please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Oscar On The Decline 5/27/2008 Hi: My son brought his 2 Oscars home from college a year ago, where they have stayed even after he returned at the end of the summer. When they first came home, they were both very aggressive and were fed feeder fish. I changed their diet to Tetra Cichlid Sticks and both fish were doing fine. They became much less aggressive. Around March we changed their tank to a 55 gallon tank, but didn't change anything else. By the end of April, I noticed a big difference in the female. Her skin was rough & she eventually developed 2 perfectly round holes in front of her gills. She always seemed to be having difficulty breathing & even her side fins looked feathery and had rips in them. She died and now the male fish has the same symptoms. I've been researching the internet and have asked for help at the pet store. Last week we changed around 25% of the water and removed the carbon filters and treated the tank with Metronidazole. He seemed better afterwards and even started eating again (Another symptom I forgot to mention was loss of appetite). By the end of the week, however, he's worse. He has developed a perfectly round hold beside his mouth. He also looks like he's struggling to breath and even the insides of his mouth look white on both sides. His side fins are ragged and feathery. The female was white, but where he's black, I can see little white places on his body. Even his top fin is looking white at the tips. There is a cichlid and a catfish in the same tank that seem perfectly find. Please help or give me some suggestions. I'm afraid he's going to die too and it's hard for me to watch him wasting away with each passing day. Please Help ASAP Beth < Your Oscar sounds like it is being affected by stress and is generally breaking down and succumbing to all kinds of diseases. First get the tank healthy. Do a 50% water change, clean the filters and gently vacuum the gravel. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 10 ppm. Maintain these water quality parameters with water changes. Increase the water temp to 80 F. Treat with both Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. Treat every other day and do 50% water changes in between treatments until his appetite comes back.-Chuck.>

Oscar In Decline Part 2 5/27/2008 So sorry - I forgot that I bought a testing kit and ran a test on the water. pH = 7.4; nitrate = 3.5 ppm; nitrite = 0; ammonia = .25 I know the ammonia should be 0, but I didn't think .25 was bad. < The medication may have wiped out the biological filtration so this could account for the ammonia reading.> Also, I can see little white flecks on the side of the tank near the filter, but I read on the internet that this can be a helpful parasite that feeds on the feces. Please help Beth < Hard to identify little white specks as parasites. Usually parasites stay on the fish.-Chuck>

Oscar health issue parasite or fungus? 05/15/08 Hi Crew, I have attached a picture of my male (confirmed) Oscar's problem area. I don't know if this is a parasite or fungus or what! Overall he seems very healthy, eats well, but has suffered the loss of his mate. Not sure if that has anything to do with this. <Likely so> But my question is are you able to identify this? and if so can you tell me what I need to do to get rid of this? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Dominique <Mmm, the white "peg-gish" matter under this fish... could be simply resultant from physical trauma. Do you feed live material that might carry worm parasites? Bob Fenner>

Re: Oscar health issue parasite or fungus? 5/17/08 Thank you so much for your response, I woke up this morning and it was gone! I don't feed Mickey live food. I haven't added any other fish to the tank in a year but he does have two rather large rocks in the tank that I am going to take out. I think it is possible he could have bumped them. <Ah, yes> I did however clean out his tank with a 50 percent water change the day before it disappeared. <Mmm, best to limit such water changes to about a quarter of the tanks volume maximum> I am going to keep any eye out and if I see it returning the pet store said to bring in a water sample and a bit of what's hanging off him and they can check it out for me. Again thank you for your response. Dominique <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

My Oscar hurt bad, poisoned 4/29/08 Hello, <Hi there> I just found your website and I'm hoping that you could help me. My Oscar had HITH and I went to PetSmart and got some medication. <What exactly?> His head seems to be getting better, but he is going crazy! He's been swimming rapidly and hit himself on the gravel, side of the tank and the log on the bottom of the tank. He scrapped a chunk of skin off his head, his gill and some on his side. Last night he banged himself pretty hard that he chipped his bottom lip. He's still eating some freeze-dried bloodworm, but he spits out the pellets. I'm very worried about him and I don't know what to do. He keeps hurting himself and I don't think he's going to heal if he keeps it up. Please help, I feel so helpless with him. Thank you. Resy <Something toxic going on... likely related to the Neuromast destruction treatment. I'd quickly change about half the water (treated to remove sanitizer...) and run some activated carbon in your filter/circulation path. Bob Fenner>

Re: My Oscar hurt bad 4/29/08 I treated him with anti-parasite tablets twice, <... Please... specifically... this term means nothing. What active ingredients?> 48 hours in between treatments. I changed 25% of the water after the second treatment and put back the carbon filter. I also put the stress zyme and stress coat as directed in the box. Should I change 50% of the water again? <I would, yes. B>

Re: My Oscar hurt bad 4/29/08 This is what's on the box: Active ingredients: Praziquantel; N-[[(N-Chlorophenyl) amino] carbon 1]-2,6-difluorobenzamide; Metronidazole; Acriflavine. Wont' changing the water again stress him more? It was only two days ago. <Better to be stressed than die from toxic reaction... Likely the Flagyl/Metronidazole is at root here. B>

Re: My Oscar hurt bad  4/30/08 Thank you. I will change his water again. How often should I change his water afterwards? Should I put a new carbon filter again, also? <See WWM re water changes and yes to the chemical filtrant. B>

Oscar Fish Hole in the Head???   4/4/08 Good Evening I have attached a photograph of my Oscar Fish and wondered if you could help. I'm not sure if my Oscar has hole in the head disease. I have studied several photo's of Oscars with this disease however the holes in my Oscar look much bigger and deeper. I haven't seen anything like this before. Are you able to advise?? Any thoughts greatly received. Regards Julie <Julie, yes, that's Hole-in-the-Head disease. Options for treatment in the UK are limited unless you contact a vet. Metronidazole is the usual recommendation by American aquarists, but it isn't freely sold here in the UK. One new product on the market is eSHa Hexamita Discus Disease. Their other products are excellent, so that'd be one product I'd recommend. Follow the instructions carefully, in particular remembering to remove carbon. In any case, the underlying cause of HITH is water quality and/or diet, so review those factors. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhllefaqs.htm Cheers, Neale.>

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