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FAQs on Oscar Disease/Health 8

Related Articles: Freshwater Diseases, Ich/White Spot Disease, Freshwater Medications, Oscars, 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 7, Oscar Disease 9, Oscar Disease 10, Oscar Disease 11, Oscar Disease 12, Oscar Disease 13, Oscar Disease 14, Oscar Disease 15, Oscar Disease 16,
FAQs on Oscar Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Genetic, Treatments, & Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease 2, Oscars 1, Oscars 2, Oscar Identification, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Reproduction,

Oscar With HITH 02/06/09 I have seen much info. on the site about treating HITH by medicating the food. I purchased General Cure (API) Brand which contains 250mg Metronidazole & 75mg Praziquantel per packet (box of 10). The directions say to treat the water, 1pkt/ 10 gal. He is in a 55 gal tank. I know if I put him in a smaller treatment tank he will be unhappy and fear he will go off food. Since my Oscar is eating well I would rather treat the food. Can this combination of meds be used in treating the food? If so, should I use the same dosage you have recommended for the Metronidazole (1/2 t / 4oz.)? < Treating the food as recommended is a big advantage over treating the entire tank. I would also recommend a change in diet to a high quality pellet food and checking the nitrates to keep them under 20 ppm.> Other info: The Oscar does not have white / slimy poo. I received him from a petstore when the previous owner could no longer care for him. At that time he had what appeared to be fin rot as well as a small pin sized hole in his head. He was being kept in a 10 gal tank before I received him. He was lethargic and off food. I treated him w/ Melafix for the sores which have quickly healed. He began to eat about four days after I put him in the 55 gal. tank and treated w/ Melafix. The hole however has grown slightly larger in the last three weeks It started in one sensory pit and has now eroded an entire cluster of pits. I have been taking pictures every few days to monitor its progress. < Treat the food as recommended and keep up with the maintenance. Generally it is believed to be a symptom of a dietary deficiency with a combination of a pathogen feeding on a weakened host.-Chuck>

Big Bellied Oscar 1/25/09 Hello maybe you can help ,I went to all pet stores and they are no help, I have an Oscar about 9 inches and his belly is big. I have not seen any feces on the bottom. know he is not going to the bathroom. I was told to give him boil peas I did and it did not work, do you know what I can give him to help him go the bathroom. I have a picture attach for you to see ,under his belly there is something and it looks like it wants to pop out..help please .thank you Bridget < Your Oscar is suffering from an internal infection. Usually this is because of a blockage in the gut of the fish. Nobody knows for sure what causes this in cichlids. Some think it is water conditions while others think it is diet. There is probably a little of both that cause this condition. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with a combination of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. These might be difficult to find at your local store but can be found online at Drsfostersmith.com. Treat on the 1st, 3rd and 5th day Do 50% water changes in between treatments. After the last treatment do a 50% water change and add some carbon to the filter to remove any left over medication. Feed once a day with a high quality pellet food. Any food that is not eaten in 5 minutes should be removed. Try every day until he eats. watch for ammonia spikes since the medications may have modified your biological filtration so a bacterial additive may be needed like Dr. Tim's One and Only. Early treatment is the key to a successful outcome.-Chuck>

Very Sick Oscar - Chickita, no useful info. 01/13/09 Hello, I do not know how to thank you guys for this service, definitely god sent, thank you! I have had my Oscar Chickita about 5 months now. She's a yellow colored Oscar which I purchased from a very well known pet shop in CT, slither and swim. <Neat store name> We got her and Tiger home but Tiger got sick after a few weeks with Ick, I believe, and we were not able to catch it soon enough and lost him. Chickita on the other hand has gotten huge, strong and really socializes with the whole family. For the past 2 days I have noticed a change however. She almost looks like she's dying. Her color has changed, becoming lighter and she looks very pale. She stays at the bottom of the tank and kind of goes sideways to the point where I have gone in to remove her thinking she's dead. Her breathing is slowing down and at times it looks like she stops breathing, at times she is gasping for air and at times she's fine. She has become: Lethargic, weak, slow, losing appetite and at times is swimming only using one pectoral fin. I still go and talk to her and she labors herself to come up to my hand to eat and so I can touch her. It kills me to ask her to do this but this is the only way I get her to move and to eat. I went to the pet shop and the water chemistry and quality is all perfectly fine. <I/we need to see actual test result values> I have been scared to stress her even more by doing a water change but I went ahead and did a big one today anyways and medicated the tank with everything I have. The following is what I added: API Aquarium Salt, <Not necessary, or advised> API Stress Coat, Tetra Aqua AquaSafe, API Melafix <Definitely not advised... Use the search tool on WWM re these materials> & Mardel Maracide. Please help and/or advise on what to do, I really don't want to lose her. Eagerly awaiting your response, Leyla <Have to have data to help you... I strongly suspect the environment is lacking here... something amiss... Too much metabolite (likely evidenced by nitrate concentration), too little dissolved oxygen... Please get back with us re ammonia, nitrite, temperature, pH, alkalinity... the history of maintenance, any tankmates, foods/feeding... filtration of this set-up. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm and the linked files above in the meanwhile... and Send info.! Bob Fenner>

Oscar with holes in his gill plate, no data 12/13/08 i have gone all over the internet and fish stores to find out what is wrong with my poor fish can you help me <I do see the hole in the operculum... Likely bacterial, secondary... I also see a "bag" of what looks like zeolite and carbon... and a substrate of too-large grade... I fully suspect the root problem here is environmental... You don't offer any data re water quality, set-up, history of maintenance... So, all would have to be guessed at. Instead, read here re others experiences: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... Do you see the sorts of information we need to help you? Bob Fenner>

Re: Oscar with holes in his gill plate 12/14/08 thank you for answering the water is tested weekly including for nitrates and is always perfect water changes are done and is never feed live food cichlid sticks by tetra have treated for parasites and for bacterial now he is getting a hole on the other side <Please read where you were referred to. BobF>

I think my fish is sick (Astronotus; no meaningful data) 10/23/08
i got a red tiger Oscar like 2 week ago and it started to grow like white stuff on its fins and its face!!! its acting normal but idk what to do?!?!?!
<The "white stuff" is likely Finrot and/or Fungus, both treatable using various medications. In Europe, I'd recommend eSHa 2000, but elsewhere in the world you'll have other options. The main thing is to avoid Melafix/Pimafix or anything based on either salt or tea-tree oil -- these so-called remedies won't work reliably, if at all. Now, the key thing is both these diseases (i.e., Finrot and Fungus) are caused by water quality problems most of the time. Oscars are big and messy fish, but also sensitive to poor water quality. If you can detect ammonia or nitrite in your aquarium, that's your problem. Oscars are not suitable for aquarium below 55 gallons in size, and the filter should be fully cycled (which takes 6 weeks, at least) before to Oscar is introduced into the tank. Some people foolishly put Oscars into new aquaria, and that promptly leads to sickness and death. You also need a super-high capacity filter: none of that stupid "hang-on-the-back" or air-powered nonsense here. We're talking heavy duty external canister filters offering at least 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. For a 55 gallon tank, that would obviously mean an external canister filter rated at not less than 330 gallons per hour. Next time you write, do please make sure you read the
"house rules" first. Messages need proper spelling and grammar, and no abbreviations or text-speak. Allowance is made for those for whom English isn't a first language, but for everyone else, be sure and help us to help you. It also makes a big difference if you supply key information: size of the tank, filter type, water pH (and preferably hardness too), and water quality (minimum nitrite concentration). We're not telepaths, and reading your mind isn't something we're able to do! Hope this helps, Neale.>
thank you so much!!!
<No probs. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar anus "hole" problem 11/12/08 Hi, I have a 75 gallon tank with 2 Oscars,2 Dempsey's (which I', rehoming), 2 clown loaches and a Pleco. I've have them all for about 6 months. About 2 months ago I noticed 1 of the Oscars started having this weird looking thing happening to his anus.. just thought he was constipated. They are on a pretty good diet, they eat hgh pellets, crickets, frozen brine shrimp, peas, blood worms and some insects. My water has been checked and all was good. I do 25% weekly water changes and gravel vacs. I clean my filter. They have bubbles. So I started to add Melafix to the water to see if that would help his anus problem but it did not, it just continued to enlarge to the point of a hole and you can see inside now. Its like white tissue, redness, swelling and a hole.. he poops fine, except I have noticed white slime on the poop. He shows no other signs of illness. I went to my Aquarium shop and treated with parasite tabs for I believe 5 days.. kind of looked a little better.. so I stopped hoping it would completely heal up.. never did. Went back, now they told me to try Rally. Did this for 6 days with almost no improvement, no carbon and only 1 water change and vac, it spiked my ammonia up to .50. Did a 85% water and vac yesterday and put my carbon back in and now am trying Mardel Maracyn Plus. I now notice my Dempsey has a white thing happening in his anus area also! Please help! I have no idea what going on.. just want them to get better!! Nelly- <Hi Nelly. Without a photo, it's difficult to be 100% sure, but I'm fairly sure this is an anal prolapse. This is where the rectum becomes infected, expands, and pushes out of the vent. Provided the fish is still feeding, the chances of recovery are good. You first need to treat against the likely protozoan parasites in the gut. Use Metronidazole for this, used as directed on the package, and always remembering to remove carbon from the filter when medicating your fish. The white, slimy feces by the way are commonly a sign of protozoan infections: the gut reacts by producing more mucous. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm Next up, review water quality. These infections are usually caused by either poor diet or poor water quality. Since you seem to have a very good diet for these fish, do review water quality. In particular, check the nitrate level. From bitter experience I have found that cichlids generally do poorly when the nitrate gets about 20 mg/l, even though that is "safe" by freshwater fish standards. Your tank is definitely on the busy side, and unless you're doing massive water changes (50% weekly) and have a huge external canister filter (8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour), you probably don't have the water quality you think you do. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse)
Hi, I did attach a photo.. where can I get the Metronidazole? what dose? And can you please recommend a good canister filter? I would rather invest in one than risk their health and spend time and money on all these chemicals! Thanks so very much for all your help! Nelly <Hello Nelly. Here in England, Metronidazole is only available from the vet. In the US I believe it is available as "Flagyl" but I cannot comment beyond that. Call your local vet and ask for advice. As for a canister filter, provided it delivers 8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, you'll be fine. So if you have a 55 gallon tank, choose a filter (or a pair of filters, added together) that has a turnover rating of 55 x 8 = 440 gallons per hour. This number will be on the pump part of the filter and on the packaging. Eheim filters are generally considered the most reliable and long-lasting, but the less expensive Fluval and Sera filters are very good as well. With all this said, I'm wondering if your Oscar has an abscess. Is the "wound" the anus? It isn't clear from the photo, and looks like it might not be. If the anus (in between the pelvic fins) is swollen and red, then yes, we're dealing with a prolapse. But if the wound is someplace else, then this is a bacterial infection, essentially an ulcer, and you'll need something like Maracyn or Maracyn 2 to fix that. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse)
Hi, Thanks for the quick reply! umm... The hole.. I'm not sure, I do know he poops from there. So I assume its his anus??? It actually looks like around the open white, red, swollen tissue, you can see his anus hole.(really graphic) LOL.. Sorry. As far as the Flagyl, do I want tablets or is it powder/liquid? I looked and seen both.. Again, Thanks sooo Much! Nelly <Nelly, yes, the anus is the hole from which feces emerge. Doesn't matter which sort of Flagyl you use, provided the dosage is correct and it is added to the tank in the right way. I have no experience with this drug, so would encourage you to read over the link sent earlier, and if necessary, discuss with your vet. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse), Metronidazole 11/14/08

Hi Neale,
I'm sorry to bother you again.
I have another question regarding combining some medications.
Metronidazole and a products made by Mardel called "Copper-safe", it is for parasites but external ones. (I believe). Also, I have been feeding them "Jungle-Anti-parasite medicated food "for internal parasites. It says to feed 3 day a week for 4 weeks. today is 3 day. Should I continue this or stop it to use Metronidazole tablets They are called Fish Zole 250mg-
directions are 1 tab. per 10 gallons, I have a 75 gal. tank.
Can I combine all these together?
Thank you, Nelly
<Nelly, I do not know anything about Metronidazole from personal experience. But in general, you should not combine medications unless the manufacturer explicitly says it is safe to do so. Since your fish has an internal infection, Copper Safe is not necessary. Anti-parasite food is not necessary at this point either. Just use the Metronidazole *precisely* as described on the package, remembering to remove carbon from the filter. It is usually a good idea to add a bit of extra aeration, if you can, while treating your fish. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse) 11/14/08

Hi Neale,
OK Great! Thanks for all your help.. I didn't want to add more but want to make sure they get well!
Again, Thanks so very much!!
<Happy to help! Cheers, Neale.>

Possible Oscar reproduction- Swollen Oscar 11/6/08 I have two Albino Oscars that I have had for five years. They have never been sick except for a spell or two of Ich. Six to seven days ago, "Spot" stopped eating and began swelling up. He/she stays pretty much at the bottom of the tank on the same side all the time almost. Spot still engages in the posturing {lunging at his buddy with his mouth open} and occasionally swims around the tank as usual. This fish looks like it is morphing into a puffer or something. Its belly is huge and the swelling has moved down to affect the vent area which is now gaped open. There is no swelling to the head, back, or tail area. No other symptoms besides refusing food and the behavior changes. I am assuming that if it was a disease Spot would be exhibiting other symptoms or be belly up by now. Could Spot be a female full of eggs? < Probably not.> His/her buddy is fine, they both get the same food in pretty much the same amounts. I feed them bloodworms, earthworms, and occasionally minnows and crickets. If Spot is a girl with eggs that is ok I am just worried about my fish and don't want her to die. I clean the tank once a week and change the water by at least 50% every time. Of note, I noticed yesterday that there were tiny white things on the glass on Spots favorite side of the aquarium. {75 gallon} They seem to be moving, the best I can describe them are tiny dust motes, they are barely able to be seen. I am afraid there is the possibility they are something that has gotten into my fish and is causing the swelling, but there again, the other Oscar, Special Ed, is his usual self. Any insight on this would be greatly appreciated, I have had these fish since they were about an inch long. I have searched the net for days trying to find physical signs and symptoms of a gravid female and what the white 'motes' are but just keep hitting dead ends. Oh, by the way, the night before the food refusal started I think one of them hit something in the aquarium, I was in another room and heard a loud bang, ran to the tank and saw the water sloshing in the Oscar tank, could Spot have hit too hard and burst something inside? < I would think it would be unlikely but possible.> This may not pertain to the situation at hand, I just wanted to give as much info as possible. Please help if you can. Thank you. Shannon L. < My guess would be a internal infection from feeding bloodworms or minnows. Both are possible carriers of potential pathogens. I would recommend a treatment of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace after a thorough tank and filter cleaning. You fish sounds like it is in pretty rough shape. The key to a complete cure is an early diagnoses and a quick treatment. From the symptoms you are describing it may already be too late.-Chuck>

Ill Red Tiger Oscar- Sick Oscar With Internal Infection 11/6/08 Hi my name is Dan. I have a red tiger Oscar who has recently become ill. For a while she has had one side of her body is caved in and the opposite side is normal. Her dorsal fin is curled also. I think that it could possibly be from living in captivity but am not sure. But more recently she hasn't eaten in about 4 days and she is swimming vertically with her nose down. She has no problem staying at the bottom of the tank but cannot stay on her belly when swimming. She hasn't pooped in days and is swollen from her side down to her butt hole. Her hole is also protruding a little and I'm not sure that it is normal. I did a water change a few days ago but that didn't seem to help. She is at least 6 years old. She is in a 54 gallon tank. She's not active and her eyes seem to be crossing. Any suggestions or info would be greatly appreciated. < Lots of Oscar problems these days. Your Oscar is probably suffering from an internal infection. Clean the tank and the fitter then treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Early treatment is essential for a complete recovery.-Chuck>
Re: Ill Red Tiger Oscar 11/09/08 Bloated Oscar II
Thanks for the info. Where can I find these meds. <Go to DrsFostersmith.com to buy these meds online.-Chuck>

FW: 11/10/08 re: Astronotus (very sick indeed) 11/10/08 These are pictures of the Oscar that I wrote to you about last week. We tried the Furan-2 and it isn't working. Is there anything else that we could possibly try. Thanks. <Hi Daniel. It's time (and likely has been for a while) to go to the vet. Nothing else will help. You need some serious antibiotics here. Time to decide if you want to [a] destroy the fish painlessly; [b] go to the vet; or [c] leave the thing to suffer until it dies. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar has anchor worm??? 11/04/2008 Hello WWM Crew, My name is Karen S. How are ya'll today? <Just fine and dandy.> I have a very cool large white and orange Oscar that seems to have something growing out the left side of his chin. <Looks harmless to me; perhaps just a cyst or wart of some kind. Unless it's obviously red and sore, I'd not worry too much. From the images you sent I can't really tell if its a bite, sore, or cyst.> I believe this may be an anchor worm but I am not sure. <Anchor worm is very rare in aquaria, and as its name suggests, what you see are black, anchor-like crustaceans about 1 cm or so in length. When mature these crustaceans have a pair of white filaments streaming from them, in fact egg sacs.> It appeared about 8-9 days ago. it measures approximately 2 cm long. And appears to be clear-ish in color with a red center. If it is an anchor worm, how much longer will its cycle take? What course of action do you recommend I should take and how soon? I do not want the rest of my tank to get infected. They aren't the clearest pictures, but they should give you a pretty good idea. <Unfortunately they are not quite sharp enough.> Here's the info on the tank. White/ orange Oscar - owned about 2+ years, measures 9 in length. (he was already big when I got him.) tank size- 47.38 gal : established almost 2 years now <Way too small.> 2 filters: 1 regular . hang on the back style- 20-30 gal. 1 small. whisper- hang on the back- 10-15 gal. <Not even close to adequate filtration. Do understand that the "gallon" ratings on filters are about as valuable as the miles-per-gallon gasoline consumption for motor cars, or the numbers of servings quoted on the box of cereal. In other words, JUNK. For standard community tanks (tetras, guppies, etc.) you need a filter offering 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. For cichlids, you need to increase that to at least 6 times and realistically 8-10 times the volume of the tank. So if you have a 50 gallon tank with big, messy cichlids (like Oscars) you're looking for filtration with a turnover 300 to 500 gallons-per-hour. These turnover numbers will be on the pump or filter packaging.> tank mates: three mating pair 5 med.- large. Convicts (3 male- 2 female) 1 small. Jellybean Convict (female) <You understand these are coloured using injected dyes? Very cruel: please don't support this horrible trade.> water changes: 30-50% once a week/ siphon (half) gravel every other time add conditioning salt to replaced water. 1 scoop for every 5 gal of water <No idea what a "scoop" is in terms of salt measurement; in any case, freshwater fish don't need salt. In some cases may do harm to them.> temp: 82-85 degrees F <Over heated. Why so warm? 25 C/77 F is adequate. The warmer the water, the less oxygen in the water.> Water Stats: API kits, pH: 7.8-8.0, ammonia: 0 ppm, nitrite: 0 ppm, nitrate: 10.0 ppm <All fine.> Well, I think that's it. Thank you for your time and attention, to help me. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks again and Have a nice day :) Sincerely, Karen S <If the thing looks like a bite or sore, and you can see red tissue in the centre and dead white tissue around it, then you may have a problem. Possibly physical damage or aggression. Since your water quality is good, any wounds should heal just fine on their own, but treating with anti-Finrot medication isn't a bad idea. If the thing is simply a growth without any obvious signs of injury or bloodiness, then it may be a cyst or wart. Albino Oscars are pretty inbred (one reason yours is so small) and so genetic abnormalities may be the root cause. Observe, but don't worry unduly for now. If you actually can see an Anchor Worm as described above, then remove the fish, pull away the parasite using forceps gripping the base, not the tail-end, of the "worm", and then dab the wound with iodine afterwards. Unlikely to spread itself under aquarium conditions, though by all means keep an eye out. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar has anchor worm??? 11/04/2008
Hello Neale, <Karen,> Thank you for your response. I will keep a vigilant eye on the problem. I didn't know fish could get cyst's. Just out of curiosity, how long does it take for an anchor worm to develop into a mature one? Because I read that in cooler temperature waters it could take about 3-4 weeks, whereas the cycle could be sped up, to about a week, by increasing the water temp. <Correct.> Maybe that's why I had the temperature up so high. Anyway, I do know that the tank is too small, and I have plans to move them all to a 70 gallon, spare tank, we have, soon. And I will also be getting a new filtration system. Any recommendations on one that would be adequate for that size? <The 70 gallon should be ample for an Oscar or two, plus a few smaller tankmates. So that's a good call. As for filtration, with messy cichlids you can't go wrong with a reverse-flow undergravel filter. This combines a big external canister filter with an undergravel filter. The outflow from the filter pushes water into the filter plate, and then the water rises through the gravel, keeping it clean. Otherwise I happen to think one or two external canister filters is the best value approach with cichlids. Numerous brands, the best and most reliable being Eheim but even mid-range ones like Fluval and Sera are pretty good these days. So choose according to your budget. A couple Eheim "Classic" 2217 filters would perhaps be just the thing if you're after something easy to set up, flexible, and reliable enough to give you 10+ years service. Otherwise anything that gives you 6-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour.> And, just so you know, at the time I bought the jellybean convict, I did not know that she was a dyed fish. <Ah, that's fine. We just need to make the point here for other readers. Sometimes folks don't know, and this way they do!> I was uninformed, for which I am sorry, and will never support again. Because your right, it is inhumane. <Quite so. Cichlids are wonderful fish, and the idea of tattooing them with paint just isn't cool.> Anyway, thanks again for your time, and Have a Nice day!! Cheers, Karen <Happy to help! Cheers, Neale.>

Please HELP!, sick Oscar... -10/31/08
We have a sick Oscar on our hands (not literally of course). It seems as though we might have over-populated our 55 gal tank. At this moment we have three Oscar fish (Oscar, Starsky & Hutch), two African Cichlids (Houdini & Tumi) , two Plecos (Celia & Silas), a Loach (Cody), and a Jack Dempsey (Dempsey). They are all small (2-3 inches), except for Oscar who is roughly 6 inches, Starsky & Hutch are both about 4 inches, and Celia & Silas who are about 3.5 inches. They all seemed to get along just fine (although we've heard from different sources that Oscars & Cichlids are not the best of friends). Of course Oscar is sort of territorial and head-butts all the others once in a while, but I guess that is to be expected, and it never goes further than just that.
<Well, certainly a "busy" tank. Water quality is the key issue of course, though long term adults of these species cannot all be kept together in a "mere" 55 gallons. A mated pair of Oscars will take that over, all by themselves.>
A few days ago we noticed that Starsky began to lose some of his scales. We started to pay even more close attention to the activity within the tank, but everything seemed normal. Water levels were good (although we have decided now to separate Oscars and Cichlids to maintain optimal pH in each tank as each species prefers somewhat of a different pH level), all the other fish in the tank are healthy and very active, but Starsky only got worse, and on top of that he became the prime target of Dempsey's attacks. We thought it would pass, but very suddenly (overnight), Starsky lost about 60-70% of the scales covering his body and became very weak. He does not want to eat, began swimming erratically, and stayed within fins-reach of the heater.
<As you say, pH is going to be an issue, and if your African cichlids are some sort of Mbuna, that means they won't tolerate anything less than 7.5. The Central American cichlids will be fine with that, and the Oscars should cope too. Do please understand that pH is a "proxy" for measuring water chemistry, and in itself not the main issue. It's hardness that counts, with the Central Americans and Mbuna requiring hard to very hard water, while the Oscar favouring softer water conditions (though certainly tolerant of hard water, up to a point).>
We decided to pull out the quarantine tank, set it up, lower the pH to 7 (from 7.5 in the 55 tank), so it would be closer to perfect water conditions for an Oscar fish. We have been medicating Starsky now for a couple of days with Tetracycline, Stress Coat, Stress Zyme, added an Air Pump, have the filter off and continue to use the light normally. Have not fed him since he won't eat and we know that he can go for about a week without eating while he recuperates.
<For gosh sakes don't mess about with pH! What fish HATE and are QUICKLY stressed by is pH VARIATION. The value itself isn't that critical. Unless you really understand what you're doing, forget about altering pH altogether, and simply aim on keeping it steady at whatever value it is out of the tap.>
Our question is: What is more important? That Oscars are highly sensitive to drastic pH changes?
Or, should be make sure that the pH level is Oscar friendly even though that might mean bringing the pH level down another 1.0, or 0.5?
<pH hardly matters with Oscars, and they will adapt to anything within the range 6-8, providing the pH is stable.>
Should we change 25% of the water as indicated per medication instructions? Starsky keeps laying on his side at the bottom of the tank, still breathing, but barely moving at all. What can we do to save him?
<No idea what's actually wrong here, though it's likely a secondary or internal infection (possibly both, given he's losing scales as well as acting odd). Such things normally follow on from water quality issues, so let's have some numbers, at minimum nitrite and nitrate. Do remember nitrate is the hidden killer with cichlids, with few species doing well when exposed to levels much above 20 mg/l.> Thank you! Santi & Sky
<Cheers, Neale.>

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