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FAQs on Panda Corydoras Cats

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New Pandas also Re: Epsom salts, peacock gudgeons and blockages     10/11/17
Thanks Neale and Bob for your replies. And Hi Crew! Thought you would like an update on how my poor gudgeon is doing, and I have some extra troubles which I will get to later in this email.
<Oh dear.>
I kept watching the display tank after it was treated with Epsom salts and could see the prolapsed portion of the affected gudgeon had shrunk by half overnight and looked much better.
However after a full day many of the other peacock gudgeons were showing some stress colouration and hiding, so I performed the scheduled water change. By the following morning the gudgeons were back to normal, but
prolapse was back to its original size. I took the plunge and managed to catch the affected gudgeon by tricking him with food. If they get the idea they are in trouble they can dart and jump surprisingly quickly but I was
very lucky to catch him off guard. Anyway after 3 or 4 days in his own tank, and after treatment with what I hope is Metronidazole (bought off the internet due to not being readily available in Australia, the packaging is slightly unconvincing), the prolapse had reduced down again but did not yet resolve.
<The Metronidazole is a good thought here, as prolapses of this type are sometimes a reaction to parasites inside the gut.>
The gudgeon was becoming very stressed so I put him back into the display tank. It's been over a week and he is back to his normal self behaviourally. The prolapse has still not resolved but it is not as big as it was, or at least, it looks fleshier and a lot less likely to burst than it used to so I will keep my eye on him and continue to be mindful of what I feed that tank. No one died so I am counting that as a win for now!
<Indeed. Such things do take weeks to resolve. So like Dropsy, if the fish is getting incrementally better, and still eating, that's good!>
I'm writing now about an old familiar problem - trying to keep some new panda Corydoras alive. My existing school of 6 panda Corys is quite happy and doing well (thanks for your help in getting them to that point!) and I
had the idea that the tank they are in has room for a bigger school.
Originally I wanted to try some pygmy Corydoras in a separate species tank but I saw pandas had become available again for quite a cheap price. I ordered 15 expecting to lose a few but hoping to keep enough alive to
eventually expand the existing crew and I'm using the unused pygmy Cory tank for the quarantine tank. The store sent me 16 pandas (and also 2 sterbai Corys by mistake instead of trilineatus), but unfortunately put all
the pandas in the same bag. 4 died in transit, but the rest seemed mostly quite lively and feisty after getting into some fresh water. I lost 1 more from quarantine in the first few hours, one overnight, and then one more on
the following day. This last one had his barbels curled under him and his gill covers looked like they were stuck open. I suspect it was just residual damage from being in poor water conditions during shipping.
<Agreed, but the "cheap price" might also suggest less than perfect breeding conditions. Sometimes fish are maintained poorly, but "juiced" on antibiotics, which keeps them alive on the fish farm. Once shipped, the
drugs where off, and you're stuck with sickly fish. Careful quarantining, good food, and judicious medical treatment as needed can help though, so all is not lost!>
The remaining 8 pandas are still lively and have good appetites, and the 2 sterbai seem much the same although definitely more nervous due to their small school size. The zoomy pandas seem to terrify them even though the
sterbai are three times the size.
<Corydoras sterbai do need warmish water to stay healthy, 25-28 C, so they're not quite as adaptable to lower-end tropical conditions as other members of the genus. On the other hand, they're good choices for Angelfish, Discus and Gourami set-ups where high temperatures are needed.>
I am using the refund from the dead fish/wrong fish to buy a few more sterbai so eventually they will be in a comfortable school size - they definitely behave differently than the pandas and trilineatus that I already have so I am looking forward to setting them up in their own tank.
The current quarantine tank is 65lt with a fine sandy bottom and I have been doing daily 20lt water changes and vacuuming out uneaten food trying to give these guys as clean an environment as possible to recover. They
have been getting live grindal worms and some small pellet food and none of the survivors seem skinny like a few were when they first arrived. I am mixing up their water to be the same as the water my existing panda Corys
live in as that's where I want to move them to after quarantine is over, so medium softness and temp is 24C.
Anyway now to the problems. After the quarantine population stabilized I noticed 2 of the pandas had thickened white patches on their fins, faces, and one had a coated barbel on one side which was twice as thick as it
should be. Very difficult to see what's going on with white on white but I thought it looked like fungus so began treatment with a Multicure product (malachite green, Methylene blue, Acriflavine, supposed to be good vs.
fungus and some external parasites).
<Sounds about right; Methylene Blue is a good first choice for fungus infections. Low toxicity, even with baby fish and eggs.>
After 2 days of this treatment there was no improvement and the patches were thicker so I began to worry that it was actually the dreaded Columnaris instead. I couldn't actually see any fibrous or fuzzy growths, the white patches seem more flattened and blobby than anything. All I had at hand was some tri-sulfa (which does say it can treat Columnaris on the label) and I remember reading somewhere that Columnaris will not tolerate salt.
<Possibly true, but can't imagine the salt level needed would be tolerated by Corydoras for long. I'd be using a plain vanilla antibacterial treatment here instead. Salt is almost never useful against fungus or bacterial infections at "safe" freshwater levels.>
I also checked to make sure I could mix tri-sulfa and the other product and as far as I could tell all would be well. I have had tri-sulfa and salt in the tank for 2 days now (this is the third day) and re-dosed as required, accounting for the water changes I did (additional to the existing course of Multicure). I added equivalent of 5 tsp of salt on the first day, and another 5 on the second day, dripped it in slowly via airline. The fish are all tolerating this well. I know Corydoras can handle more salt than this after having success treating Ich this way, but I don't know if that level of salt is required to treat Columnaris (or even if that's what I'm fighting here).
<I do suspect you are right: the 2 gram/litre level used for Whitespot is easily tolerated by freshwater fish, but for bacterial and fungal infections you'd surely need a lot more -- bear in mind marine fish can get both!>
I am holding off on adding more salt for now pending further advice.
<See above.>
I'm a bit worried that my water conditioner has reacted with the Multicure as it seems like a lot of it has come out of solution and settled on the sand (or perhaps just the top layer of sand is now dyed green).
<One risk with organic dyes like Malachite Green and Methylene Blue is precisely this. Tends to fade away in time, but not always. The blue is generally overlooked, looking watery I suppose, but the green is more annoying, it is true.>
The first dosage I put in stained the water quite dark for a couple of days but the second dose looks to be almost gone overnight, even though I followed the instructions and didn't use it immediately after the water change. Anyway there is still no improvement and the white patches are spreading to the other Corys. Yesterday one of the sterbai had a patch on his forehead although that is gone today, but a lighter patch of skin is visible in that place. I now realise tri-sulfa is bacteriostatic rather than bacteriocidal and probably won't get rid of Columnaris by itself, but I thought if I kept the Corys eating well they might be able to fight it off. The package for this medication says I can double the dosage for severe cases and I am considering doing this as I only used the single dose to start with.
<Follow the instructions, and remember to remove carbon from the filter, if used.>
Since I've had no success so far and it is spreading, today I had the idea that maybe this is slime coat disease (Costia?) and not a fungus or bacteria. The most notable thing is that it seems the extremities of the fish (fins, barbels) are affected much moreso than their bodies. Where it is on their faces, it's mostly around their nostrils, and it is on the fins that are closest to the substrate.
<This is not uncommon. It's usually explained in terms of a scratchy substrate, or a dirty substrate, or both. The belly and barbels are scratched, bacteria infect the wounds, and something similar to Finrot sets in. Indeed, it probably is the same Aeromonas and Pseudomonas bacteria at work. That said, there are mystery plagues or red-blotch diseases associated with Corydoras that don't have any definite aetiology. A broad spectrum antibiotic is helpful, but with the Corydoras moved to a substrate-free aquarium for the process, so that the skin has time to heal over properly as well.>
The one with a patch on his body seems like it spread there from his fin.
The Cory with one affected barbel now has both barbels coated. It seems like it covers the entire surface of some of their fins. I have not seen any redness anywhere on the Corys but maybe that symptom would not show up
on fins (or can't be seen under the thick coating).
I would have thought Costia would be affected by the ingredients in Multicure, if that's what this disease is, however if the Multicure is being cancelled by the water conditioner it would explain why the disease is spreading. If the disease is Columnaris it also explains why it is spreading quickly, although I would have hoped triple sulfa would have slowed it down. I do have some eSHa Exit available which I didn't use yet, as I am not keen on mixing up my medications. I had assumed it had similar ingredients to Multicure however I found a webpage stating it contains Acridine, Malachite Green, Meth.Violet, Meth. Blue so not quite the same.
So it might work differently I guess?
At this point I am wondering what your opinion is of this disease and how I should be treating it. I am fairly sure by now that this is not fungus as the water has been kept quite clean, I haven't seen any obvious hairy fuzz,
and it has not responded to that treatment. I hope it's not Columnaris, but if it is, it's taking its time on killing off all my fish and they aren't really acting unwell. I've had advice that Kanaplex will work on Columnaris but at this point I don't have access to any (although I could ask my vet when I take my cats in tomorrow) however, obviously antibiotics are pointless if this is Costia. But if it's Costia, why didn't the first treatment get rid of it (maybe because it's not as good as eSHa Exit)? I'm hoping you have some ideas or tips as to what to do next.
<Costia is frustrating because it can't be easily diagnosed without a microscope. While some fish are prone to it, others aren't, and to some degree it's "the thing you suspect next" if fungal and Finrot bacterial infections have been dismissed. It's all very annoying.>
I'll attach some pictures but its quite hard to see since everything is kind of green, I have a terrible camera, and the Corys are tiny and won't sit still. They are still very white, reflective and you can see some of their internal structures and iridescent bits showing through which looks like white patches on their bodies but isn't.
<Indeed, I can see what you're talking about clearly. I'd be assuming the substrate and bacteria are somehow the issue, and treating as described above. I'd also double check the tank is Corydoras-safe, e.g., you used smooth silver sand rather than sharp sand.>
When the extra sterbai Cory arrive they are going to have their own separate quarantine well away from this tank since it is a bit of a disaster area. I'm lucky to have a very understanding spouse who has let me set up many tanks around the house!
Thanks as always for your help, your experience and advice is invaluable.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: New Pandas also Re: Epsom salts, peacock gudgeons and blockages     10/11/17
Thanks Neale for your quick reply.
Regarding the sand, it is an extremely fine river sand which I had left over from my other Corydoras tank which has been running for over a year now, no issues with the sand. It's very smooth and inert and I've put a thin layer for comfort more than anything. Fresh from the bag and rinsed before using here. Only one of the Corys has anything on his barbels but I can see the sense of sucking out the sand for now so that it doesn't provide a hiding place for the bacteria. I can do that during the next water change and it also gives me a chance to see if the green will rinse off.
No carbon in the filter at the moment but I have some fresh stuff at hand in case I needed to remove medication from the water.
<Understood, though rarely necessary; most organic medications will decompose rapidly in mature tanks.>
I do have a microscope but I understand Costia are small and hard to identify and my scope only goes to 100x - useful for larger parasites but not so much the tiny stuff. It might be worth a try, if I see anything at all zooming around it is indicative that something is going on at that scale as well as anything at a bacterial level. I'll report back if I find anything.
<Cool. Images of Costia aka Ichthyobodo can be found online.>
I'm going to the vet for my cats yearly check up tomorrow so I will ask if he can prescribe me anything to help. I don't think he is a fishy vet but he does have a huge tank with a turtle in it at his surgery so he might know something about aquarium medications. I found some tetracycline at the back of my supplies cabinet but I'm wary of using it on new fish weakened by shipping. Other medications I've heard could be useful are Kanamycin,
neomycin, Nitrofurazone but I guess I have to wait and see what the vet says.
<Indeed; the old Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone combo is a good one, if you can use it.>
Thanks again, at least I feel like I have a battle plan now.
<Good luck! Neale.>

Re: New Pandas also Re: Epsom salts, peacock gudgeons and blockages     10/15/17
Hi Crew! I'm still battling the white blobby patches on my new panda Corydoras so here is an update of what's going on.
The visit to the vet on Wednesday wasn't much use, he was reluctant to supply any medications without a diagnosis, and was unable to provide a diagnosis himself even if he had a fresh sample - he's more of a
cat/dog/horse vet, despite keeping a turtle.
<Often the case. Medicating fish with help from a vet is the ideal, but rarely practical. It can also get expensive given the low cost of fish, though it has to be said there are fish vets out there, usually specialising in Koi, the best of which reach prices comparable with pedigree dogs and horses! My point being if you have a local or national
Koi club, they might be able to point you in the direction of a fish-friendly vet.>
He did suggest some places that might be able to give me a diagnosis and prescription, but they are all quite far away and mostly oriented towards trout farming so it didn't really help. I don't think I'm getting a prescription any time soon, and not soon enough to help my fish anyway.
Once again I'm thwarted by living in the middle of nowhere!
I did manage to get a better scraping from one of my Corydoras and some of a white patch came off so I had a look at it under my own microscope. I didn't see any movement at all in any of the sample, and I also didn't see
any fibrous structures so I am much more confident now that it is bacterial and not Costia or fungus.
The white stuff was fairly sticky so I am guessing it is either fish slime or a bacterial film. Zoomed in, it looked a lot like the chunks you get when you stir up gelatin jelly. Not much else to see at x100, my entry level microscope is not so useful this time.
<Certainly fungus should be obvious as x40, let alone x100; Protozoans a bit variable in this regard, but at x100 I'd expect to see something moving about or waving their cilia! As you say though, bacteria are elusive at x100.>
I stopped using Multicure (M. blue, M. green & Acriflavine) in the tank as it was not really working and was making it too hard to see what was going on, and continued with the course of triple sulfa. I found on day 3, the
day before the second dose was due, the patches seemed thicker and were spreading. But the morning after the water change and second dose of triple sulfa, it looked like the start of recovery. Some of the Corys looked
completely clear while the other affected ones seemed slightly better.
However by the following day it was obvious that triple sulfa really was not working - maybe it was just the water change that made them look temporarily better.
The white patches are spreading again and some patches were visible on fish that were previously completely clear. The sterbai Corys also are starting to have light markings on their faces which look like they could be ulcers.
I completed the course of triple sulfa but I think at best it merely slowed the spread of the disease.
<Triple-Sulfa contains sulfamethazine, sulfacetamide, sulfathiazole, only one of which, sulfacetamide, is an antibiotic; the other two are antimicrobials. Taken together they're a bit hit-and-miss as an aquarium medication, and not really anyone's first choice. While useful enough as preventatives, for example once a fish is injured and you're concerned it might get infected with Finrot, I'd not recommend Triple-Sulfa for dealing with an established infection.>
In any case, behaviourally the fish are still all eating, acting like they are well and so on so I decided to switch to tetracycline as I think they are well enough to handle the side effects for now. I keep finding conflicting information regarding whether tetracycline will treat Columnaris but I think its worth a try since I don't have anything else at hand right now, and I don't know for sure that I'm dealing with Columnaris anyway - if it is, it must be the slow-acting strain. I have ordered some Kanaplex and furan 2 from the internet and if the tetracycline doesn't work I'll switch to whichever one gets here first - although is it true that they have a synergy effect when dosed together? I will wait and see how dire the situation is and if its not so bad maybe I'll wait for both before
<Using two antibiotics can have mileage. Being very specific, if you choose one for gram-positive and one for gram-negative, they can provide a two-pronged approach without a risk of poisoning your fish.>
I'm also considering the possibility of using the Multicure product as a bath since the Methylene blue and Acriflavine ingredients might still help and that way I'm not mixing my medications "in tank".
<Agreed; I'd tend to back off the organic dyes (Methylene blue, etc.) while using antibiotics. Whereas antibiotics are focused and have low toxicity, the dyes and antimicrobials are much more akin to poisons, intended to kill
'germs' before they kill the fish. So overuse, or combining them, can pose a risk. Do a water change, stop using the dyes, and then begin the antibiotics -- removing carbon from the filter, if used.>
I hope the tetracycline will work but it wouldn't surprise me at all if this bacteria is also resistant to tetracycline as we don't really have access to much else in Australia. So at this point I'm just planning ways to keep the fish alive until the big guns get here. The bath instructions I've read are to use water from the current tank to fill the "bath", then use the medication at double the strength intended for in-tank use. Bathe fish for 30 min.s, watching and removing back to the main tank if signs of distress are noted.
<Viable, if used carefully alongside the antibiotic.>
Multicure has 0.4% malachite green, 4% Methylene blue and 2% Acriflavine which previously the fish have tolerated fine at the recommended half strength for scaleless fish. Do you think Corydoras would handle a double
dose of this medication (which would actually be a regular dose)? How often is it necessary to bathe, once a day? Uh, don't take that last one out of context, haha.
<In other words bathe them at full dose? Personally, I would try this, but carefully watching for signs of distress.>
These little guys have lasted almost 2 weeks since arrival, and despite their external condition they still seem vigorous and I haven't lost hope that I will be able to get them to be well again, that is, as well as possible after nuking them with so much medication. What do you think of my treatment plan?
<Worth a shot!>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New Pandas also Re: Epsom salts, peacock gudgeons and blockages       10/26/17

Hi Crew!
<Hello Bronwen,>
Further update on the Corydoras white blobby patch disease saga. Somehow, despite the disease failing to respond to anything I've thrown at it so far, the only loss I've had has been from someone jumping out of the tank.
I do think despite not being curative, the treatments and baths did stop things from getting worse, temporarily at least. The ulcerations I noticed on the sterbai Corydoras faces actually cleared up during the tetracycline treatment, however nothing has shaken the white blobby patches.
<Oh dear. Presumably indicates not a bacterial infection. Next most common causes are either fungal or protozoan; the former is relatively easy to identify, if not by eye, then with even a low power microscope because of the hyphae. Protozoans difficult to see directly, so mucous and cysts will be what you can see with the naked eye. I'd be choosing medications accordingly, perhaps going with the protozoan option first, as this would
tend to be a bit more blobby than the usually fluffy appearance you get with fungi. That said, if you're dealing with an effectively untreatable bacterial infection, like a Mycobacteriosis, or a viral infection, then nothing much will help. Viral infections (look up Fish Pox and Lymphocystis for examples) do produce blister-looking things, but otherwise don't normally cause actual physical harm, and may clear up in time -- though usually across months if not years in some cases. Viruses in fishes do seem to be stress related as often as not, contact with heavy metals in the water or substrate being one example known in the wild.>
I still have 4 mostly okay panda Corydoras with either just fins or no obvious infection, and 4 severely affected ones. Of the rasboras that were also quarantining in that tank, 8 are fine, one jumped out, and one has a small white patch on his lower lip. One of the sterbai Corydoras has an extremely small white patch at the tip of one fin. I would say the tetracycline was pretty harsh and the fish are not as well or perky in attitude as they were at the start but they are still eating. A quick recap for any crew who haven't seen this case so far: New panda Corydoras started showing white patches on day 2 in quarantine. Treated with Multicure (malachite green, Acriflavine, Methylene blue) in case of fungus or Costia, no effect noted after a few days. Treated with triple sulfa, full course as per label, slight improvement then worsening. Treated with tetracycline for 5 days, once again slight improvement then worsening. Treated with aminacrine (desperate measures while waiting for more medication to arrive) and once again slight improvement followed by worsening symptoms. I have pretty much exhausted every medication available to me over the counter and a trip to the vet for help resulted in an unwilling shrug as he was not willing to prescribe anything due to being unable to diagnose anything. Due to my location that exhausted my local options.
<Understood; see above.>
A couple of weeks ago I ordered both Furan 2 and Kanaplex online (I am in a country where these aren't available) hoping for at least some of the fish to survive long enough to be treated with either of these, and aiming to use both to achieve as broad a coverage as possible and get the reputed synergistic effect of these medications used together. However the Furan 2 arrived first and I am not sure how much longer I can wait before the worst
affected fish start dying. I have enough medication to do 2 full 4-day treatments with Furan 2 and I don't know when the Kanaplex will arrive. It could be another 2 weeks according to the worst case scenario shipping
estimate and I don't think anything will last that long. Even if it comes Monday that might not be soon enough for some of these fish.
<I would medicate with what you have rather than waiting for something else. Synergies between medications do exist, of course, but are vague, at best, in standard issue aquarium fish drugs.>
I am considering doing one four day course of Furan 2 to at least see if it is effective, and if not, save the remainder for when the Kanaplex arrives.
However it occurred to me that perhaps this would merely strengthen the bacteria further if it is not sufficient to kill it off. Do you think this is possible?
<Nope. Not the way antibiotic resistance works.>
I think if I treat with Furan 2 and it does not cure or reduce the symptoms in the 4 worst panda corys, I will have to euthanize them to remove them as a bacteria source in the tank and hopefully ensure the survival of everyone
else. I do have a hope that since this medication is not readily available around here, the bacteria should not be resistant to it but I can't help but think ahead.
<I would only euthanise if the fish are actually distressed -- but isolating them does make sense. As stated above, viral infections for example are environmental issues and as such not usually catchy (some exceptions of course, like Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus) and the dratted Mycobacteria problem is also more environmental than anything else, the bacteria being latent in many aquaria and fish farms, but only a problem when the fish are otherwise weakened.>
Tough times! I was not expecting this to last so long, particularly due to panda Corydoras' reputation for being less hardy. I thought the medication would kill them even if the disease did not and yet they are stubbornly holding on. I am almost certain the medication I have put them through hasn't done them much good in the long term, the tetracycline in particular seemed to shake them up a fair bit.
Anyway what are your thoughts regarding starting to treat with Furan 2? I do not plan to start anything until tomorrow at earliest as I would like to do a water change and run carbon in the tank for a bit beforehand to remove any traces of previous medication.
<Makes sense. But do remove after use; before adding new medications.>
Cheers, Bronwen @ South Australia, amateur fish nurse
<Good luck! Neale.>

Panda Cory Advice; hlth., sel.  (Note: divide genus...)     6/1/16
Hi Crew!
<Hello Bronwen!>
It's been a long time since I've written and I feel a lot more capable in fish keeping than when I started out, many thanks for providing such a great educational resource! I have written before asking about Corydoras and have since set up a sandy bottom 90 litre planted tank with the goal of keeping some small Corydoras - I chose Corydoras panda. I have had a few mishaps along the way, which is a long story involving Corys wasting away, failing to thrive, then an extremely fast acting and virulent Finrot that hit penguin tetras and coincided with white patches on Corys while all guppies were spared of either, and this was after no known recent change or addition to the tank. But that's in the past now, and it's not what this email is about. Currently I only have 3 panda Corys left of 10, and I would love to get this back up to a proper sized school. I'm planning to remove the guppies as I suspect they were stealing all the food before the more timid Corydoras could get their fill. Anyway I am looking for help on which is the least bad choice for me to obtain more panda cories.
The first batch of 5 or 6 panda Corys I purchased online had no barbels to speak of, and some were quite thin and sickly, most of those died - I believe this store to be a possible source of the Camallanus infestation I had earlier on so I had pre-emptively wormed these fish but it didn't help.
<Sounds plausible. Certainly, fish received in this sort of condition should be quarantined for at least 4 weeks, and ideally longer. Basically, until such time as they're putting on weight and obviously repairing any previous damage.>
The next batch I purchased from elsewhere, and were a lot healthier with beautiful barbels, but they spent an extra day in the post and I believe were quite stressed from the voyage. A couple of those were thin and sickly and died too, although they lasted a fair few weeks. This second shop charges 2-3 times more per panda Cory than anywhere else I have seen. Lastly. I have seen panda Corydoras sold locally very rarely, but every single fish I have bought from the local fish store has died within the first month or so. They frequently have ich outbreaks, livestock with visible white fuzzy patches or red spots, or wounds, dead fish in display tanks and in shared sumps. I really don't want to purchase anything from there as it would mean almost guaranteed disease, and I don't want to give money to people who mistreat their fish so badly - but I do have better medication available to me than I have had previously (eSHa 2000 which saved some fish during the great Finrot disaster after I was sure I would lose every single one), and at least I'd be able to see the state of the fish before committing to buy. Ideally I don't want to be medicating Corydoras at all, I know they're sensitive.
<Yes and no. They're no more sensitive than Dwarf Cichlids or Loaches, say.
Indeed, they're probably tougher in some regards. But they do have specific weaknesses. Copper and formalin are two chemicals to avoid. On the other hand, antibiotics shouldn't cause and problems, and short-term used of low salt doses (i.e., 2 gram/litre across 10-14 days) is a safer way to treat for Ick/Whitespot than many commercial medications. Complicating things is heat stress, Corydoras mostly doing best at 22-25 C (one or two exceptions, such as Corydoras sterbai, do well above this, and a few, like Corydoras paleatus, are actually happier even cooler). Heat increases their demand for oxygen while reducing the amount of oxygen in the water, and the tendency to keep Corydoras in overstocked tanks makes the risk of heat stress even higher. Of course they will gulp air when they need to, but
that in turn makes them more likely to inhale airborne toxins such as paint fumes compared with regular fish.>
I'm really not sure which option is the least bad. If I get cheap but barbel-less fish I can buy more of them and hope to nurse them back to health. If I get expensive but healthier fish, will they recover from shipping stress better than they would recover from illness? Or are the odds that the stress would make them get ill anyway? And then also, I
wouldn't be able to buy as many and each lost fish would cost me more.
<A real conundrum, for sure. If you have a quarantine tank, then buying 2-3 at a time from the less reliable place might be worth a flutter. Each time quarantine until they're back to health, pre-emptively deworming if you think that's necessary. But if that isn't an option, getting them from the more expensive place would probably make more sense. Better to have a group of 5-6 good specimens and breed from them than to try to buy a dozen or more that simply don't survive for long.>
The local option would involve me waiting long enough for a panda Cory shipment to come in, and then buying them before they've been held in the shop for long since the longer they're there the more likely they are to get sick - which is the complete opposite of the usual method of waiting to see which new arrivals last a few weeks in the shop.
<Correct; but in this case, with the cheap place, you've got to do the quarantining.>
I haven't got a quarantine tank ready yet and I want to do that first before I buy any more Corydoras. I'm really stumped on where to get them from. Due to where I live my options are pretty limited - some online stores just don't deliver here, others expect me to drive to the nearest capital city to pick my fish up from the airport (500km away)! My gut
feeling is that the best option is to buy cories from the most expensive source and just treat them with kid gloves and feed them up once they arrive as they definitely had the best barbels.
Is this a good indicator of healthy Corydoras, or is it just that Corys with no barbels are definitely unhealthy?
<Neither really. Worn barbels can happen to otherwise perfect specimens kept in tanks with an abrasive substrate. But since erosion of the barbels does seem to be caused by bacteria, worn barbels can also indicate less that perfect environmental conditions, in much the same way as Finrot. On the other hand, sickly fish can have perfect barbels if the problem is something internal, like worms. So you have to take the barbels for what they are, a sign that some unknown combination of abrasive substrate, lack of hygiene, and ambient bacterial infection has caused barbel erosion, and
whether that's something you can fix will depend on the rest of the fish's health.>
I know it's a bit of marketing trickery to overprice something so that people think its higher quality but maybe for these Corys it's actually true.
<It can be, but if they're all getting them from the same Southeast Asian exporter, it probably doesn't matter a lot. Depends on the retailers. Some will have a good reputation for quarantining their livestock and keeping their aquaria spotless. Some won't. Conversing online at fish forums specific to your country is a good start if you need some feedback from other aquarists. Alternatively, catfish-specific sites, like PlanetCatfish, have forums where you can place appeals for recommended retailers in your country.>
What do you think my best options are? What are the best foods for nursing stressed Corys back to health?
<Same as feeding Corydoras generally, but I'd skip anything live (like bloodworms or Tubifex) in favour of frozen, gamma-irradiated equivalents just to be safe. Otherwise the usual sinking algae wafers and so on.>
How many panda Corydoras could fit in a 5 gallon quarantine tank (that's the best I can do)?
<Definitely limited, but 2-3 shouldn't have problems for a few weeks.
They'll be skittish in such small groups though, so keep the tank shady and put it somewhere really quiet.>
I'm prepared to do frequent water changes due to the small size of the tank. I do think in my previous attempts to quarantine Corydoras, I neglected to make sure they were eating really well and did not fatten them up before putting them in with the pushy guppies and that is something I definitely want to do differently in future.
Thanks again!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Panda Cory Advice      6/17/16

Hi again Crew! After my last email I realised I have a big plastic tub (around 90lt) which is much better for long term quarantine than the 5 gal tank I'd been thinking about using. I already had four double sponge filters running in other tanks ready for a different project, so I stuck them in the tub, along one side. They stick on the side by suction cup so provide a bit of cover underneath. I've set the quarantine tub up for comfort over bare sterility, so there are some Catappa leaves to hide under and a very thin layer of fine sand to snuffle through, the aim being stress reduction and recuperation.
Decided to get my Corydoras from the closer seller to minimise shipping time. I was expecting heavy losses of panda Cory based on previous experience, so I ordered 7. A friend urged me to try some trilineatus too, dismissing pandas as too fragile, so I got 7 of those as well. I was expecting to lose over half the pandas and maybe 2 or 3 of the trilineatus.
The fish arrived last Tuesday and there was a remarkable difference between how well the trilineatus took to being shipped and how ill the panda Corys were; one had died in the bag too which probably didn't help. The trilineatus looked a little pink/flushed but were very lively and I could only describe the pandas as limp! Worrying; but they recovered quite
quickly upon arrival in quarantine. They all had nice looking barbels! No visible Finrot or white patches, unlike previous batches from this supplier.
It's been over a week in quarantine now and although one or two of them still look a little on the thin side, they are all very lively and I have had no losses! The trilineatus are a little more shy than the panda Corydoras and the two kinds seem to school together a lot of the time as they are pretty much the same size. I didn't think through one aspect of my
quarantine tub, and that was to raise it off the floor to make siphoning out uneaten food a little easier, I have had to resort to using a pipette to manually suck out the pieces that I could see. I put a small powerhead/filter in today to increase water movement and try to help keep the bottom a bit cleaner, and I got an instant reaction from the Corys, almost all of them went into formation and lined up to swim against the current. They seemed to really like it! It is an absolute joy to see a larger group of these little fish swimming together.
<I would agree, and am sure the catfish feel the same way.>
I haven't wormed them yet, I wanted to observe for a while first and I'm still not sure whether I'm seeing a couple of unwell skinny fish, or immature males that are naturally slimmer. It is good being able to look down from above to see how fat they are! The ones that concern me are almost tadpole shaped, instead of the tail tapering in a wedge shape, it is
thin for much of it's length. Maybe it will just take time for them to bulk up and recover? I have been feeding (not all at the same time!)
semi-crushed algae pellets(popular), sinking "tropical crisp" wafers (popular but perhaps too big to handle), shrimp pellets for catfish (ignored, which is odd because these are my sister's peppered Cory's favourite), frozen bloodworm (popular), Microworms (popular and generated some vigorous snuffling), frozen community food (popular but again some pieces were too big to handle and this made the big mess that I have had trouble cleaning up), flake (this just ended up stuck on the sponge filters, not sure if palatable to Corys). Water changes every couple of days, along with rinsing collected food particles off of the sponges to avoid fouled up water. So far so good!
<Yes; while I would not be thrilled to receive underweight Corydoras, it isn't uncommon. If, after two or three weeks, they're still underweight, that's more alarming. For now, I'd go by activity level and things like barbels and fins to see there's no sign of lethargy or physical damage. If the fish are feeding, just give it time, "a little but often" being the
optimal way to re-condition underweight fish, even four to six small meals a day not being out of line. Fish cannot store food inside themselves for long, and if you feed a lot, they poop out most of that food without extracting much nutrition. They're naturally grazers who would be consuming and digesting tiny amounts across the day/night.>
Worth worrying about worming yet do you think? I'm still cautious about Camallanus after the last outbreak, it's possibly the same supplier that send infested fish, and I have plenty of Levamisole/Prazi left, but not sure what the correct dosage for Corydoras would be. I've got doses of 20mg (17mg base equivalent) Levamisol HCL and 4mg Praziquantel per tablet. I've used 1 tablet per 10 litres dissolved directly into the tank water in the past, for guppies/tetras which was very successful for Camallanus treatment. I don't want to wait too long, if they're there, I've seen what damage they can do! And I think it would be hard to spot trailing worms on a bottom dwelling fish like a Corydoras anyway. I also don't want to
overmedicate and damage these Corydoras since they're doing so well so far.
<Worming shouldn't cause undue harm, if used as directed by the manufacturer. I don't have any unique insight here, and would go along with what's stated on the packaging and in your own experience. I would not hesitate just because the fish are thin or newly imported.>
Many thanks for your continuing assistance!
<Welcome. Neale.>


Please help my panda Cory!      11/14/15
Mature tank, 30 gallons, 5 panda Corys, 3 zebra Otos, an African dwarf frog, 7 mosquito Rasboras, some amano shrimp, Eco Complete gravel substrate,
<Ah, this might be the problem!>
planted tank, Aqueon 30 filter, TopFin 10 filter, 20% water changes weekly, 7.0 pH, Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 2.0 ppm
In the past 2 days, one of my panda Corys' barbels have almost completely eroded and today he has developed a white fuzzy cotton-looking patch on his head. He is lethargic, not eating, and stays away from the other Corys.
I'm worried that this could be columnaris because I have noticed tiny white things on the glass that sway with the current. Or do you think it might be a bacterial infection that has also developed a fungal infection? The other 4 panda Corys are acting completely normally and look healthy. What should I do?! I would hate to lose this little guy!
<How abrasive does the gravel feel to you? Here's the thing. Barbels erode because of a combination of physical damage (caused by sharp substrates) and subsequent bacterial infection (very similar to Finrot). Unfortunately for the Amano 'Nature Aquarium' brigade, substrates that plants like are replicated using quite abrasive materials, often byproducts from the
glassmaking industry. While not a problem for tetras, Otocinclus and shrimps, anything that roots about in the substrate, like Corydoras, is going to be less happy. Corydoras not only sift the substrate with their barbels, they like to stick their heads right in and swallow the substrate, spewing it out of their gills. It's adorable when they do it on a sandy substrate, but isn't going to work on traditional gravel or sharp sand. So, in situations where Corydoras are being kept, you're almost always better off keeping them on smooth lime-free sand (smooth silica sand or pool filter sand work well, and cheaply) or else the finest, smoothest pea gravel you can find. There's nothing to stop you using a plant friendly substrate underneath a gravel tidy (basically a plastic mesh) and then add 1 cm or so of the catfish-friendly substrate on top. Plants couldn't care less. Might need to make a few holes in the gravel tidy for plants with deep roots, but most plants will happily send their roots through the mesh in time. Anyway, this would be my first line of thought: is the substrate at fault. Try quarantining the suspect catfish in a tank with no substrate (8-10 gallons is ample for one or a few Corydoras, temporarily at least)
and see if they recover (medicating as per Finrot). Make sense? Neale.>
Re: Please help my panda Cory!

Absolutely. I'll try that first.
<Cool. Neale.>




Series of Panda Corydoras deaths  2/24/11
Hello crew,
What a shame that I only contact you when things are going wrong!! I still peruse the boards and FAQs with interest, so thanks as always for the marvelous site.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I started out wanting to query the reason for the steady demise of first 2,then a 3rd, and finally a 4th panda Corydoras catfish. Having typed out my set-up, water parameters and current stock and maintenance practices, however, I suspect I know what's happened (indeed from the FAQ's I certainly should). Even so, I would really appreciate the benefit of your wisdom to avoid a repeat performance, if that's alright. It's a bit lengthy but if nothing else, it will provide a lesson to other FAQ readers
Set-up is a 90 litre Fluval Roma 90 litre (20 US gallon) freshwater tank with Fluval U2 internal filter, about 5 months old - I cloned an existing mature filter at the time of setting it up, so the new tank cycled quite quickly.
<All sounds fine.>
Water parameters generally stay at nil ammonia, nil nitrite, 5- 10 nitrate. Temp 25c/77F. Ph on the high side at 8, hardness 5 GH. I use mains tap water with usual de-chlorinator etc.
<Do understand 25 C is absolutely at the top end of what almost all Corydoras find comfortable. Is that the cause of death? No; but it's always wise to keep the vast majority of Corydoras at 22-24 C, and to choose tankmates that appreciate the same thing: Neons, Platies, Swordtails, Danios, most Barbs, etc.>
Substrate is black sand (more of a fine gravel really), some ornaments, a 6 inch bubble wand, lots of hideaways and plastic plants, and it's about one quarter planted (with thick Vallisneria spiralis).
<Black sand can be tricky with Corydoras because most of it is a byproduct of glass manufacturer rather than sand, and it has a rough, abrasive quality that plays havoc with their barbels and underbelly. Again, unlikely the cause of death, but do check your sand or gravel feels silky smooth rather than rough.>
I usually do 20% water changes and brief substrate vac weekly, and do a better clean and filter rinse (in tank water obviously) about once every 4-6 weeks. There is some moderate green algae which grows as a fine fur on most surfaces - I clean it from the glass and the lighter coloured plastic plants, but leave it elsewhere for the fish to graze on. Lighting is on for 12 hrs per day.
I have 10 Neons, 9 dwarf Puntius gelius barbs, 2 small striata and a yo-yo loach, 2 dwarf gouramis, a dwarf Bristlenose (2 inches long), 1 tiny bumble-bee goby, and 5 Amano shrimp. I feed once per day - sometimes giving them a fasting day - a variety (not all at the same time) of spirulina crisps, algae wafers, flakes, sinking pellets, frozen peas, and a frozen mix of bloodworm/brine shrimp/daphnia. They sometimes make the wafers last, but otherwise all food is gone in 5-15 minutes.
<Again, all sounds okay.>
I did have two other yo-yo loaches up until 3 weeks ago, which I re-homed as they grew enormous and were bullying everything in the tank. I also had a mini-school of 5 panda Corys - and here is the issue, as I find myself down to just one.
<Indeed, Yo-Yo loaches, and indeed loaches generally other than Kuhli Loaches, make poor companions for Corydoras.>
Regrettably the maintenance of the tank fell apart a bit a few weeks back (long story of boring personal crisis), and I confess I did nothing with it for about 5 weeks (apart from feeding the fish sparingly once per day). One of the larger panda's started sitting on the top of the filter occasionally, under the lights, but was otherwise acting fairly normally. I realised this was likely to be down to poor water quality and kicked myself into touch..I tackled the tank, and discovered that the panda fond of sitting on the filter seemed to be struggling to swim. I hoped that I hadn't left it too late, but sadly despite a good clean and water change, and removing the 2 huge bullying loaches, the panda was still suffering, upside down and unable to swim properly after 48 hrs, so with huge regret I euthanised him.
<Oh dear.>
And when I went to observe the other pandas to see how they were doing by comparison, only then did I realise there were 2 missing completely - I had assumed they were hiding away from the bullying loaches (the more they bullied, the more hiding places I introduced), and that's why I only ever saw 2 or 3 at a time. Very poor observation on my part.
<Perhaps so.>
The 2 remaining pandas were very dark in colour, which my LFS sternly informed me was down to the stress of a) the beastly loaches and b) the water quality. I got my act together and have been taking much better care of the two survivors..since shipping out the loaches and giving it a careful clean, the entire community is happier. The two panda's lightened in colour over the course of a few days, and they were back to fluttering around the tank with a pinkish hue quite happily again.
But after watching them swimming around and feeding normally a couple of nights ago, I gave the tank one final glance before going to bed, and saw one of the remaining pandas upside down in the plants, gasping for breath. By the time I'd fetched a small cup of iced water and the clove oil (I couldn't bear to think of him suffering overnight needlessly), he was dead.
<You don't need the ice water with the clove oil. Indeed, the thermal shock would defeat the object of using clove oil as a sedative! Just take 1 litre of water from the tank, put into a container, add 30 drops of clove oil, stir well, then immerse the fish, making sure it can't rise to the surface to gulp air (Corydoras can do this, and obviously the more the air they breathe, the less they use their gills, and the less they absorb the clove oil). After 10-15 minutes, you should find the fish has passed away peacefully.>
I guess my rescue operation came too late for him, despite 3 weeks of apparent normality? Why did he go so suddenly?
<No idea.>
Incidentally, of the 4 I lost I inspected 2 of them, and there was nothing obviously wrong with the bodies..no white marks, no sores, swellings, blisters or wounds, barbels quite long and intact. One was missing most of his tail fin, but I put that down to the loaches snapping at him when he was unable to swim away.
<Stress could easily be an issue, and water quality, hard to say which it is. But either way, you might not see any physical symptoms.>
I realise the last survivor needs more of his own species, but I don't want to rush out and buy another 4 in case it was not simple poor water quality that expedited their demise, but something else more mysterious (i.e. not the fault of a crappy fishkeeper).
Just before Neale tears several strips off me (if he hasn't already, further up in this rambling text), is it safe to say I caused this through lack of maintenance for a period of weeks?
<Impossible to be sure. But all else being equal, if the tank is now settled down and everyone seems happy, you could be justified in putting your fatalities down to this.>
Should I wait to see how the lone ranger fares before getting him some replacement tankmates, or just hurry up and get some?
<Yes, I'd wait; give it at least 3-4 weeks to make sure the tank is stable.>
If anyone else is reading this whilst assuming that a few missed water changes won't hurt, just spare a minute to think of the species you have and whether or not they are hardy enough to handle a spell of poor water quality. I suspect these cute little catfish were not. :o(
<Corydoras panda are indeed towards the delicate end of the Corydoras spectrum, at least when compared to Peppered or Bronze catfish. But they're still quite hardy fish.>
Thank you for any insights, and perhaps forgiveness for my confession.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths  2/24/11
Hi Neale,
Thanks for the quick response....part of the reason for the long email, as well as trying to pin down a reason for the loss of my pandas, was to get an all-round expert opinion on my current tank set up....and you have done that, so thank you!
Re the temp.....dammit, stupid me....I recall reading something about the Corydoras preferring a specific end of the spectrum, but I incorrectly remembered it as being the WARMER end. I'll notch the heater down a little (slowly) over the next few days to see if I can make the last remaining panda more comfortable. A little knowledge is a bad thing sometimes.
<Corydoras sterbai is about the only Corydoras species happy at 24-28 C, hence it's reputation as the "Discus tank Corydoras". All the others prefer cooler water because they come from shallow, well-oxygenated streams. In fact I've kept Corydoras paleatus outdoors during English summers, where they did just fine.>
Re the black sand......I originally had quite a soft, grayish mixture of smooth sand, but when I topped up the new tank I bought a different brand which is indeed rather more glossy and glass-like. Hence it looks like very fine gravel to me, although it does feel smooth to the touch. Curses.....is it worth simply mixing in more soft sand, or should I remove as much of the glossy back stuff as I can without disturbing the plants, and replace it? It's not terribly deep, maximum of 3cm where planted and shallower elsewhere.
<If the Corydoras have long barbels with narrow, needle-like tips, then the sand is fine. If the sand is sharp, you'll find the barbels barely stick out a few mm from their mouths, and the tips will be rounded. Smooth silver sand from the garden centre is ideal, but fine gravel should work well too, just so long as it has rounded, not jagged, edges.>
I'm always faintly concerned that the gravel vac, which I use as I'm syphoning off water to change, is quite weak and only sucks up a minimal amount of gunk from the sand surface (the Bristlenose, small as he is, is an incredibly messy beast). The rest gets stirred up and eventually taken up by the filter or broken down by bacteria, I guess? I bought an air-pump driven vac with a little bag, but the suction on that is really poor, despite a pretty robust pump. The sand is disturbed/stirred when I move the ornaments for cleaning, plus I have a few assassin snails and possibly a few tiny tiny Malaysian trumpets under there - does that sound like enough to keep it reasonably clean and free of noxious gas pockets? I've considered pipetting up visible waste and squirting it into a net manually, but that may be getting a bit carried away.....??
<Yes, the sand will be fine. In fact sand tends to cause problems when disturbed rather than left alone. If you have some burrowing snails and/or plants, it'll be fine, and effectively self-cleaning. The denser sand at the bottom helps to remove nitrate. Do read:
Re the suitability of the loaches, granted the LFS (M'head Aquatics, fantastically helpful people) did warn me to keep an eye out for the loaches bullying the Corys. They indicated, however, that where there was plenty of food, reasonable space, and refuge for the cats, it shouldn't be an issue.
<Indeed, but does depend on the Corydoras. Corydoras paleatus for example should be bolshy enough to get by, but little C. panda not so much.>
But these particular 2 loaches grew unusually large - I bought 3 but the 3rd remained quite small. Those I have left now were quite passive.... until I moved out the big chiefs. Now I have a new problem, with the 2 small striatas and the remaining yo-yo now fighting one another quite frequently, and occasionally having a go at other small fish.
<Yes, what they do. All the Botiine loaches have the potential to be troublesome.>
If the LFS will have them, I'm prepared to give up on them altogether...I got them for a bit of variety and to liven up the tank, with the assurance of the LFS that things would work out ok, but whilst fun to watch they appear to be total hooligans. I've got two Neons with one eye apiece to remember them by, even if I can't hold them directly responsible for the death of my Corydoras.
<Maidenhead Aquatics will usually take back fish, so shouldn't be an issue.>
Thanks for the tip on the kindest euthanasia method, I obviously hadn't properly understood how the clove oil worked. I hope I won't have to use it again anytime soon.
If the tank settles and I can move the last of the loaches out, I'd like another little shoal of the Cory cats....perhaps a different species, if the last panda makes it and will shoal with them?? There's some Adolfoi's at the local LFS.....or perhaps stick with bronze or peppered, given my chequered history? :o)
<Oh, do try C. panda again, perhaps four of them, and four C. adolfoi if you want. In any event, C. panda isn't delicate by fish standards, so well worth trying again.>
Thanks again for the oversight, I do appreciate it. Now to chat up Maidenhead to take the last of the loaches...
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths   2/26/11

Thanks Neale, you're a legend as always.
<Be sure to tell my girlfriend. She needs reminding.>
A couple of days on and the lone panda Cory seems to be doing okay. He's swimming actively (occasionally with the pygmy barbs!),
<Yes, the do this; their instinct to school is very strong.>
seems content enough out in the open, and appears to be feeding. Pic attached.....sorry, I couldn't get a decent image of the barbels, but following your description I had a good look.....I can only see two pairs, the uppermost, longer and slender pair, and the inner, thicker pair. The upper ones are about 3.5mm, the inners 3mm.....but hard as I try, I couldnt honestly say they are needle-like. Having looked at some online images of how the barbels should be, it looks as though the very tips of the needles of his have been worn off, so I guess that "sand" is indeed too harsh.....I'd better switch it out for something softer.
<As/when, yes, that'd be a good idea. Smooth silver sand can be bought in garden centres and is very cheap, around £3 for 25 kilos from my local garden centre. It does have a bright yellowy-brown colour though that not everyone likes (the fish don't care) and while it does darken with time (algae and bacteria coating the grains, presumably) some aquarists prefer to use very fine pea gravel or coloured aquarium sand (e.g., black sand). But as we've discussed before, some sand is too sharp, e.g., Tahitian Moon Sand, so spend some time researching this. Look for aquarium sands states as being "soft belly safe" or words to that effect. The CaribSea web site for example states whether this is true or not for all their substrates, making selection easier.>
It's been a week since the last water change so I did some pre-water change tests, just to see if anything is going on, or if I need to up the changes for a while....but everything is totally "normal" (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate), so happy days.
The loaches are a bit obnoxious towards the panda, but he skitters away and comes right back out again so hopefully he's not overly bothered.
<Hopefully not. On the whole the bigger Corydoras, like Corydoras paleatus, handle themselves rather better with loaches than the smaller species. The big Brochis species would be even better.>
I notice the Bristlenose, which is getting rather large, can be a bit spiteful towards him as well.
<Territorial, more than spiteful, I'm sure.>
Will a large enough number of Corydoras cope with that as a group?
<Should do. Certainly, your Bristlenose poses no threat, and will only shoo Corydoras away from its nest and/or bits of food it wants for itself. Loaches are more of a gamble, as I've said before.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths  3/1/11
Thanks again for all the help and advice.
Yesterday I cleared out about a third of the sharp black sand, leaving the plants undisturbed, and covered what remained with 1.5 inches of much softer grade grayish sand, which I'd had in a previous tank - I'd washed it until the water ran clear prior to its previous use and got no residue, and washed it again this time, but still it gave the aquarium water a grayish hue?
<Silt, perhaps some diatoms and bacteria; will clear in time.>
Wonder why its releasing a residue the 2nd time around, hope it wont cause the fish a problem while the filter battles to clear it? They all seem to be alright this morning.......
Anyway, the little panda Cory had an instant return to form and was busy rummaging through the new sand as fast as I could add it.
<Nice to know.>
I made a trip to Maidenhead Aquatics to get some additional assassin snails, given the extra thickness of the sand, and now have my eye on some of their current Corydoras stock. They have some Julii, a peppered variety (Emerald??), plus Masked and Adolfoi. The last two are really expensive. Can't find any pandas, hope my last one will school with another species ok.
<Often do. Helps if similar in size, colouration.>
After studying the barbels of the fish in the store, my surviving panda most definitely has very worn barbels. How upsetting.....I guess this could have been the cause of their demise, if the water quality was not as poor as I thought. Hopefully the new sand will allow him to recover....do the barbels re-grow?
He was happily scoffing a live bloodworm last night, so I take it he's feeling alright despite being alone.
Intrigued about territories, have been trying to work out the dwarf gouramis captive areas.....
<Dwarf Gouramis favour patches about 20-30 cm square at the surface among floating plants.>
Thanks again
<Glad to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths  3/1/11
Now you've gone and done it. I don't have any floating plants, only a cluster of planted Vallisneria spiralis (a patch about 8" x 8").
<These can work, once their leaves reach the surface. I do find Vallisneria become hair algae traps sometimes, but your Gourami couldn't care less.>
Now you've got me feverishly researching floating plants for the gouramis.....Riccia fluitans or Sylvania
natans are the favourites so far,
<Both are good plants, though Riccia can be difficult to establish in tanks with strong currents. Salvinia natans is widely traded. Be sure to use the right Latin name! Places like Wildwoods routinely have it in stock.>
not that they appear very readily available apart from on eBay.......and that has only given me ideas for a beautiful green rug on the open area of substrate....
<My favourite is Indian Fern, a species Bob F. enjoys too. Few plants are as pretty and as useful. It's an unruly species, yes, but only because it's so vigorous!
Damn silly hobby, I'll probably kill the plants. The Vallisneria simply got lucky. :o)
<Better to say Vallisneria is more adaptable than most of the other plants traded, so it does well even if conditions don't suit other species. There are a few other bullet-proof plants out there: Java fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne wendtii it's really a question of researching your plants and matching them to the conditions (light, temp., water chemistry) being offered.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths  3/3/11
Hey Neale,
I fully intended to liberate you from your torment and sign off with a big THANKS, for all the help and the link to the plants article, and you're dead right, the Vallisneria is indeed coated with hair algae.
<Combination of bright light and poor water flow at the surface causes this. Pull away "infected" leaves AT THE BASE, and be sure not to bury the stem of the Vallisneria in the substrate. Once the leaves are damaged at the base, the algae hits, BIG TIME. None of the green or white part of Vallis should be in the substrate, just the roots, the tops of which should be just visible above the substrate.>
My final choices for floating plants are perhaps the Salvinia (SALVINIA!) natans and maybe water lettuce.....will consider the Indian fern later.
However, sadly I have to report that the surviving panda Cory cat is not doing so well......he seems to have taken a turn tonight. :o( He is quite motionless - he's not distressed, or breathing rapidly, he's just sitting still mostly, listing slightly to one side, occasionally fluttering away from another fish passing him. I fed some peas this evening and he drifted out for a short time to rummage half heartedly through a few morsels, then he drifted back to his spot under a plant.
<Oh dear.>
By way of a summary, he has been active and feeding for a few days since his last companion died, and seemed to rally after a change to the softer substrate two days ago. Water parameters have been stable. If I lose him, he'll be the 5th Corydoras to die over a period of about 5 weeks, yet none of my other five species have shown any problems at all. Combined with the marked wear of the barbels on this fish, I guess its safe to assume that the others also had worn barbels (I just didnt realise, as I had nothing to compare them with).....there was no damage to their bellies, only the barbels. Does this mean they were unable to feed properly?
<No, they can still feed. But the lack of barbels does imply less than perfect conditions for Corydoras.>
Is it more likely that there was an underlying bacterial infection which affected them all due to the damaged barbels....perhaps due to the brief lack of water changes and possibly grubby substrate?
<Possibly, but do remember, these catfish naturally plough through mud and silt. So "grubby" isn't a problem if the water is clean and the water current brisk.>
I wish there was something I could do for the panda.....could I treat for an infection? Is it too late for him?
<Hard to say. Would wait and see what happens. Doing a water change is rarely a bad idea, and it's well worth upping the oxygen content of the water if you can. But beyond that, without any clear idea of what the problem might be, medicating can be counterproductive.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths 3/3/11
Very interesting re the Vallisneria....the white parts are indeed submerged, so I'll fix that.
<Quickest way to kill your Vallisneria! If all else fails, just bury the tips of the roots in the substrate, and leave everything else above the substrate.>
The fish seem happy to snack on the algae, it's not there to huge excess, but the plants themselves could do with some thinning out. Can leaves be cut back near the base?
<Yes, but trimming Vallisneria needs to be done carefully. It's a bit like peeling a globe artichoke. Take the leaf off right at the base, taking great care not to damage the other leaves. Don't allow gravel or sand to get between the base of healthy leaves and the "stem" part of the plant, otherwise the leaf gets damaged and eventually dies. Plants can't heal leave -- they shed them -- and Vallisneria is notoriously finicky when manhandled. It's a plant that does much, MUCH better left to its own devices with as little fuss as possible. Given the right amount of light, and if planted properly, it's perhaps the easiest rooted plant of them all to grow, with only epiphytes like Anubias and Java fern being noticeably easier.>
The panda Cory is holding on, so far. Observing him last night and this morning, I'm wondering if he's simply starting to suffer from the lack of same species company....but he is feeding, so unless feeding is simply instinctive in fish, hopefully this means he is not close to death at the moment. There are none of his species at the LFS, I will have to look further afield, although this could mean they'll have to travel in a bag for over an hour, which isnt ideal.
<Oh, heavens, Corydoras will travel an hour without any fuss! So long as they don't become too chilled, you're fine. Remember, they're air-breathers and tolerate low-end tropical conditions, and these two traits are why they quickly became aquarium staples compared to other types of fish. Your only problem is making sure their fins don't burst the bags, so be sure not to pack too many per bag, and double bag them.>
It's true that the water movement is poor in this tank, compared to my last tank which had a more basic filter but a strong powerhead. The Fluval 2 does very little to move the water around - there are some different settings, but none of them seem to produce any decent current to speak of. The air flow setting stopped working after the first water change.
<Time to add another filter, methinks. A decent external canister filter -- ideally an Eheim if your budget runs to that, in terms of long-term value for money -- will make all the difference in the world. The Fluval externals are pretty good, too. Canisters allow you to have the inlet at the bottom of one end of the tank, and the outlet at the top at the other end of the tank, the ideal arrangement for good water flow. Alternatively, placing another internal filter at the other end of the tank, perhaps deeper down the water, would help, but internal canister filters are less good value for money in some ways, and pretty unsightly.>
I do have a 6" air stone in the centre of the tank, which provides a small amount of surface movement. I'm now researching a powerhead of some description to increase the current - but I'm confused as to what flow rate would be appropriate for my small tank (90 litres, 45cm deep x 60cm wide), particularly bearing in mind the Gouramis.
<A good rule of thumb for a mixed species tank would be 6 times the volume of the tank per hour, so in your case 6 x 90 = 540 litres/hour, which would be about as much as provided by an Eheim 2215 on its own, or an Eheim 2213 alongside your little Fluval. You could tweak the current down or up a bit using the taps on the canister to get just the right amount. Spray bars are super-helpful at spreading out current, so gentle swimmers like Gouramis aren't pushed about.>
With the fish I have (Corydoras, loaches, pygmy barbs, neon tetras, dwarf gouramis), should my aim be to increase the current at lower and mid levels?
Would a simple, one directional 1000 LPH powerhead be sufficient for the catfish etc, if I position it at the bottom, but not too much for the Gouramis at the upper levels?
<A powerhead will push water along the top, while sucking water in at the bottom. If combined with an undergravel filter this can work rather well, but by itself, I'd honestly recommend at least another internal canister filter, simply so you get some filtration alongside the water current.>
Might this additional movement be adequate to reduce the hair algae around the tank a little, and lift up more of the waste I'm battling with on the substrate?
<Oh yes! Algae thrives when plants don't, and Vallisneria evolved to live in flowing water -- that's why their leaves are so long and bendy. I'm sure that flowing water helps to keep them clean to some degree.>
Would I still be able to maintain an area of floating plants with the extra current?
<Yes, but the floating plants end up at one end. Quite nice in some ways, as it divides your tank into two habitats, one shady and the other bright and open.>
Thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths/possible Flexibacter??   3/10/11
Gruetzi Doc,
<Wie geht's?>
Okay, need to consider treatment of possible Flexibacter then.
<Flexibacter columnaris, so-called Mouth Fungus.>
Miss Ancistrus has been out and about this evening and those tiny cottony tufts are visible again - two flecks, one on each side, perfectly symmetrical. So small that I have to really strain my eyes to focus on them, and make sure it's not just some weird trick of the light. Nope, definitely there, definitely white and thready.
<Could be plain vanilla Fungus, rather than Mouth Fungus; Mouth Fungus tends to be more grey and slimly looking than the cottony threads of plain vanilla Fungus.>
So what's the best commercially available treatment?
<Methylene Blue is the standard anti-Fungus.>
I think I read about most "Fungus"/Finrot treatments containing the right antibiotic somewhere, I'll go look again.
<In the UK, a medication called eSHa 2000 treats Fungus, Finrot, and Flexibacter columnaris (Mouth Fungus) all at the same time. I've used it safely with catfish and puffers, so I don't think it's especially toxic.>
The presence of bacteria must be down to poor water quality at some stage.....perhaps going back to the 6 weeks neglect in January, when I first started losing the Corys?
Could it have caused the loss of the panda Corys, even with no outward signs?
<Can do.>
A long shot, but can it be introduced by feeding live food...is that a myth, that those little tubes of are infected with all kinds of bacteria?
<Depends on the live food. Brine shrimp is completely safe, Daphnia usually very safe. Bloodworms much less safe, and Tubifex by far the most unsafe.>
Okay, thanks for the recommendation re my little community, I'm honoured!! Happy to ship out the loaches and the Gouramis (much as I like the two dwarf variety, the honeys less so).....had a peek at Laetacara curviceps, yep, a Dwarf Cichlid (maybe a pair?) would be tres cool.
<They are nice, shy dwarf cichlids. Colours change remarkably, and look best (greens, blues) in dark, peaceful tanks with plenty of overhead shade and no aggressive tankmates. Tend to be paler (grey, yellowy) in bright tanks with few plants, no shade, and aggressive tankmates.>
I have, however, often gazed adoringly at Mikrogeophagus ramirezi when they have them at the LFS, the beautiful German Blue Rams.....I have a sneaky feeling I've toyed with the idea of these before, but was dissuaded for some reason.
<Near-useless species for casual aquarists. Needs very warm, very soft, very acidic conditions; 28-30 C, 1-5 degrees dH, pH 5-6.5. Lifespan in most aquaria is less than six months. Very, very prone to diseases including Mycobacteria and Hexamita. An ample literature on this species.>
Not certain my water parameters were thought suitable. How about one of the other more brightly coloured species of Dwarf Cichlid?
<If you can find them, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus is quite hardy and does well in moderately hard water. Apistogramma cacatuoides is another reliable species. In hard, basic water, Julidochromis ornatus is a dwarf Tanganyikan that works well in community tanks because it is only aggressive towards other cichlids; singletons or pairs will ignore midwater schooling fish completely, though they may harass Corydoras if there isn't enough space for both catfish and cichlids.>
I definitely rate MA.....there are two stores I frequent, Farnham and Havant (wasn't that taken by Hickstead down near Gatwick, but that was more to do with their general attitude than their expertise). The manager at the Farnham branch always bowls me over with his knowledge, I believe he keeps a Dwarf Cichlid which he shows (there is such a thing as Cichlid Shows??)?
<Yes indeed.>
He told me once that he thoroughly defrosts and/or washes its food before feeding and adds vitamins to it. That's proper dedication.
<Quite so.>
Thanks as always - will go and do a fresh search on Flexibacter on WWM to find suitable treatments, as I will no doubt be rushing to get some before you have an opportunity to respond!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths/possible Flexibacter??   3/12/11

Hallo, bin Ich sehr guter dank Neale, wie über Sie?
<Also Ich bin sehr gut, danke. Und dein fische?>
It's been an expensive day. The eSHa 2000 has been duly purchased to tackle possible fungus, along with a very small hospital tank with its own sponge filter (which I am running in the main tank as we speak/type)....but I now can't decide whether to isolate the Bristlenose and treat only her, OR remove the shrimp and snails (I know it says shrimp safe, but it does contain 8mg copper sulphate) and treat the main tank.
<I would remove both shrimps and snails to the hospital tank for now, and treat the fish in the main tank. Medications tend to kill snails and shrimps. If you don't feed the shrimps and snails, even a small tank without a filter should be adequate, provided you change some of the water daily. Adding a little sponge filter will improve things further.>
She's the only one with any signs of infection.....what would be best?
<See above.>
If I do treat the main tank, the internal filter contains poly/carbon pads.....however, it has been in use for 5 months, so am I right in thinking that the carbon element can now be considered inactive, so I can simply treat with that filter in situ?
<Carbon will remove medications, but once carbon has been in use for more than a few weeks, yes, it is largely inactive and acts merely as a substrate for the filter bacteria. Still, it's one more variable. I'd remove.>
MA did actually have a few Apistogramma cacatuoides in stock, but I'm rather more taken by Mikrogeophagus altispinosus (the Bolivian Ram Club has me sold on these fish) and I'm happy to wait a while for the tank to settle. Will I have room for a pair d'you think?
<Mikrogeophagus altispinosus is a superb species. It is a trifle larger than the Common Ram, maybe 6 cm long when fully grown, and its colours are a tad less brilliant, tending towards grey-white with red, black and blue markings. But it is still a colourful fish and by dwarf cichlid standards extremely robust and easy to keep. It is probably the best dwarf cichlid in the trade. If you get good specimens, and you keep nitrate levels below 20 mg/l, you shouldn't have any problems with it. A pair will be fine in a tank as small as 75 litres. They don't damage plants, but like Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, the "Mikrogeophagus" part of the name means "little earth-eater" and they do like to sift sand and extract tiny particles of food.>
By far my most exciting and extravagant purchase today, however, was......*drum roll please*......a Fluval 205 external filter.
<A good filter.>
I researched the Eheims you mentioned, and a number of other reliable makes at good prices, but quickly discovered that Fluval, with exceptional long-term marketing planning, have designed the Fluval Roma 90 cabinet to accommodate very few other makes of external filter other than, well, Fluval. Neat thinking, huh?
<Or something>
I'd have gone for the more powerful 305, as it would have just about fit, but MA convinced me this would be overkill for 90 litres.
<Could well be.>
They were also kind enough to give me a good deal (some of their branches will price match if you ask politely and take some evidence of an online offer).
<Indeed. Right now, it's a buyer's market in retail generally.>
I'm dying to set it up right now, however, it definitely has bags of active carbon amongst the supplied media, so I'd better decide whether I'm treating the whole tank or just the Ancistrus before I start up the new external.
<Would set aside the carbon for now. I like to use just plain vanilla sponges or masses of ceramic hoops in Fluval filters. If I recall correctly, these filters have a couple of sponges on one side of the filter canister, and a couple of boxes on the other side for filling with media. On my Fluval 104, I've got ceramic hoops in those two boxes. You can also fill them with filter floss if you want something cheap and cheerful. The sponges will handle biological filtration, and the filter floss will take care of silt, and if you replace the floss every month or two, you should have crystal clear water.>
Having said all that.....the Ancistrus has come out to feed her face with cucumber tonight, and surprise surprise, not a cottony spot to be seen on her anywhere. I was alarmed to see a bright white, even silvery spot on the face of one of the Dwarf Gouramis though.....no bump or tuft, just a silvery spot. More like the other male has pecked his face, perhaps? They do squabble a bit.
<Yes, they do squabble.>
So now I'm in a quandary over whether to bother to treat at all. I can't even supply pictures, the Ancistrus in particular skitters away so fast.
<If the fish appear to be healing, then leave them to it.>
Will gladly take your guidance on my next move....to treat or not to treat, in the absence of reliable evidence of infection?
Oh.....but good news on the sickly Panda Cory. He is visibly better. Swimming with the others, a little lighter in colour now, regaining some of his former flutter and flexing his stumpy barbels with more enthusiasm. Thanks for all the advice, let's hope he continues to improve.
<Am hoping.>
Just as a parting question, changing the subject back to plants, I'd like to spread the Vallisneria around the tank a bit more ready for the Rams - it's all clumped in one front corner and getting crowded. Can I gently lift it all out of the substrate, separate the plants, and re-distribute/re-plant in a different position (without burying the white parts this time)? Is that too much disruption?
<Vallisneria handle this just fine. The only thing is to make sure you don't get sand or gravel in between the leaves and their attachments to the stem-like structure (called a "crown"). Snap off baby plants by the runners, but leave a bit of runner attached rather than risk breaking away part of the crown by trimming too close. Then, so long as you only put the roots in the sand or gravel, you should be fine, and Vallisneria handles transplantation very well.>
Dank, hat ein gutes wochenende. I'm not German, merely getting in some practice for a forthcoming trip to Zurich
<I see! Yes, I hope to have a good weekend indeed. Off shortly into London for lunch in Chinatown. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths/possible fungus/now a mini-cycle, chatting    3/14/11
Mornin', hope London and Chinatown was good?
<Yes indeedy!>
Quick update.....I set up the new external on Saturday, seeding it with a third of the media and a healthy blob of gunk from the existing internal. Yesterday I carefully uprooted the clump of Vallisneria Spiralis, trimmed off the many plantlets and re-distributed around the tank with a little fertiliser in the substrate.
<Cool. I have never found Vallisneria very demanding in terms of fertilisers, though the odd fertiliser tablet in its roots won't do any harm. But it really is a classic, low maintenance plant that wants for very little.>
Tank now nicely laid out, less cluttered and much cleaner, ready for a couple of Bolivian Rams in the next few weeks after the Gouramis and loaches have moved out.
<Sounds good.>
And in doing all of this, I think I've kicked off a mini-cycle. *slaps forehead*
<Perhaps, but plants can dramatically speed the cycling process off, so don't be too disheartened. Apart from absorbing ammonia directly, they also carry lots of "good bacteria" that perform the biological cycle. It's perfectly possible to create a tank that relies 100% on plants for water quality -- in fact many ponds work exactly that way!>
The ailing Panda Cory is very weak again, barely able to hold his position in the water, and one of the Striata loaches doesnt look too clever (pale and less active than usual).
<Don't feed for a couple days, at least.>
Even the Assassin snails have popped up out of the sand, and I don't see them that often.
<Quite possibly pushed out of shape by digging up the substrate. If they come up to the top of the tank to breathe, that's a much worse sign.>
I tested the water this morning, and although Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is indeed reading 0.05 and Nitrates are a fraction lower than normal between 5-10.
<I see.>
If my understanding of the cycle is correct, this indicates that it's almost over already? The rest of the community seems fine. I'm thinking a water change to get the nitrite down, then let nature take its course?
<Yes, would do nothing much more than wait and see. Don't feed. Do an extra 25% water change every second day for this week. Should be fine.>
<Tschuess! Neale.>
Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths/possible fungus/now a gabby-mini-cycle   3/16/11

Hey Neale,
Thanks for latest pointers. Tank is settling after a further 25% water change, ammonia and nitrite both currently 0 - whole tank is noticeably livelier and even the weak panda Corydoras has improved.
Thought it would amuse you to know that, to save bothering you with any further insignificant questions veering off the original topic, I would venture back to a popular fish forum. Not WWM unfortunately, I can't seem to add a new post there even though I'm member? Must be going blind.
<Odd. WWM does have a forum, and you should be able to post there without problems. Do send a message to the forum moderators if needs be. If still doesn't work, let me or Bob F. know.>
After innocently enquiring as to why my neon tetras and pygmy barbs might be swimming in impressive nose-down symmetry after the upheaval of the weekend, I "learned" the following; that the current is now too strong for the mid-water shoals, that the tank is way over stocked (shouldnt have two shoals in a tank so small), and that the pH of my tapwater is too high for most species of tropical fish at 8. And of course that I shouldnt bother getting any Mikrogeophagus altispinosus as they won't handle a) the pH and b) the level of water movement.
<pH is actually less of an issue than many assume, but if you do have a pH of 8, it's likely your water is hard and alkaline, and that *is* bad for soft water fish. There are some good options for hard water, including some tetras, but you'd do well to avoid Neons; I've never found Neons do well in "London Tap" compared to X-ray Tetras for example, which tolerate hard water much, much better.>
The new current scarcely ripples the plants, for goodness sake, even the Gourami's arent bothered. And my understanding from WWM is that as long as the pH is constant, the fish aren't overly fussed.
<To a degree, but do see above.>
The tank is indeed heavily stocked but I upgraded to an external filter and anyway, I'm shipping out 8 fish to replace with 2. I can't even be bothered to post a response, but I do suddenly recall why I stopped bothering with fish forums and deleted them all from my favourites.......
<Oh dear.>
Bet all the regurgitated opinion out there drives you barmy.
<Good luck! Neale.>
Re: Series of Panda Corydoras deaths/possible fungus/now a mini-cycle   3/16/11
Okay, fair enough...it does seem that the tap water in our area is slightly hard (never got to grips with that measurement with my test kit, will get it done by MA again) and has a pH of 7-8.
<I see.>
I certainly had problems keeping guppies, but that was back in my Fluval Edge days. I've had the neon tetras for almost a year, and only lost one, and that was attacked by one of the large loaches I no longer have - maybe they can acclimatise to the harder conditions, I guess time will tell.
The only losses I've had were the Corydoras, and MA suggested that a pH of 8 could be a tad high - will never know whether it was this, poor water quality or presence of fungus that caused their demise (or all 3). Again, if the latest batch don't survive, perhaps its the water parameters not suiting them so I won't try again.
<Corydoras generally aren't too fussy, but the tough species are best here: Corydoras paleatus, Corydoras aeneus in particular.>
Other than the Corydoras, I've not had problems with any fish since the guppies. I thought I wasn't doing too badly, I read of some people losing tank fulls of fish in one swoop!
<Quite so.>
I can try to buffer the water but going that route seems fraught with even more problems.
<Yikes! Do avoid messing about with water chemistry. Changing the pH directly is extremely hazardous. Do read about reducing water hardness, e.g., mixing hard tap water with rain or RO water.
Will soldier on and see how it goes. Thanks again for all the help, I'll try WWM forums again. <<TG>>
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>


Itching Cory Catfish  7/10/10
Hello again,
<Hello Brian.>
You've been helpful in the past when I had questions about my first aquarium and some stocking advice for my second, so thank you.
I did want to ask something about 6 new Panda Cory Catfish I added a couple weeks ago.
<A low to middling temperature fish; don't keep warmer than 25 C/75 F.>
They are the newest inhabitants to a ~4 month old cycled aquarium. They share a 46 gallon with a school of 9 Harlequin Rasboras, 6 Cherry Barbs, 3 Oto Catfish, and one last cycling Platy that's been tough to net out.
<OK. These should all do well at 24-25 C/75-77 F. Any warmer will stress the Platy, Otocinclus and Corydoras.>
Anyhow, as of yesterday morning I noticed one of the smaller Cory catfish do a few quick darning motions in the gravel on his side while scavenging for food. He only did it a couple times until the others joined him to start eating the pellets I dropped for them. I looked at the fish but didn't appear to have anything on his side, nor any discoloration (nothing I can see), and he's been actively swimming and searching for food as always. Then this afternoon, about an hour after they finished eating any dropped pellets, I saw the same behavior again; 2-3 quick darts in the gravel, and only in the gravel not on the decorations where I normally feed the catfish. It is a normal aquarium gravel, black, not sand nor a fine gravel that I've heard Cory catfish like to dig into.
<Hmm... "like" is perhaps not the right word to use here. Corydoras kept in tanks with gravel, especially sharp gravel, suffer from abrasions, in particular to their whiskers. You can instantly spot Corydoras kept in tanks with gravel because they have almost no whiskers, whereas those on Corydoras kept in tanks with smooth silica sand have whiskers that are very long, half an inch maybe. It's quite striking. While the missing whiskers aren't fatal, they do indicate that the fish are being damaged and vulnerable to secondary infections, which is a warning sign that all is not well.>
I still cant see anything wrong with him nor any of the other fish, including any of the other catfish. He still swims actively around and all over the decorations/plants as usual looking for food, so he doesn't appear sick.
<Flashing can be a variety of things, but the most common are these:
ammonia/nitrite above zero; Velvet; and Ick, in that order. Just because you can't see any other Velvet or Ick on the fish doesn't mean there isn't any in the system. Both these parasites go for the gills first.>
I guess I'm just curious if this is some kind of feeding behavior, like trying to scare up any buried food particles,
<No, Corydoras don't do this. When feeding on sand they plough their heads straight down, and spew the sand through their gills. It's fun to watch, and no-one who has kept Corydoras with sand EVER goes back the gravel. I'm not saying you can't keep them with gravel, but it's far, FAR inferior in terms of fun, both for you and the fish.>
or something of the sort and nothing to worry about, or if it's some sign of a disease that just isn't visible?
<Likely so.>
Water conditions for the past few weeks before adding the Cory catfish, and still...
pH ~7.5
ammonia 0ppm
nitrite 0 ppm
nitrate ~5ppm (weekly water changes)
<All fine.>
temp ~79F (extremely tough to keep any cooler in summer in Florida w/out a chiller)
<Will cause problems if it stays this warm. Do increase evaporation and try floating litre-sized blocks of ice in the aquarium.>
hardness ~200KH ~150GH normal for this area (but no problems with Platies and Cory catfish in a different tank for over 1 year)
<Indeed, water chemistry isn't a major problem for Corydoras, and Platies obviously prefer medium to very hard water.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>


Re: Question for the crew 08/26/09
Thanks so much, Neale, for your advice.
I was thinking the spots were likely Lymphocystis, hence some extra diligence on keeping a close eye on the water conditions, and more frequent water changes.
<Very good. Lympho takes a while to get started, so if you have a new fish, a fish that's been around in your tanks for only a couple of weeks or a month, then it's entirely possible the stress came from collection, shipping, handling, and maintenance at the retail store. That said, the usual things apply: weekly water changes of 20-25%, 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, and a steady pH will all help. A varied diet is useful too, and do note that once packages of dried fish food have been opened, their nutritional content diminishes over time, and after 2-3 months, the vitamin content might not be terribly high. I tend to recommend buying two or three small packages of fish food -- e.g., one micro pellet food, one standard flake, and one algae-based flake food -- and then alternate between them through the week. This way, you should be offering your fish a nice rounded diet.>
As for the holes, some sort of physical damage definitely makes more sense than an infection, since he looks so good otherwise. I'll pick up some Melafix as it is the one thing I do not have on hand, but I put some Stress Coat in tonight in the meantime.
<A good idea.>
I turned off the air stone (1 inch in diameter with a pump appropriate for the tank size) for now in case that is causing some trauma.
<Unlikely, and do watch to see if water quality drops or the fish start breathing more heavily. While airstones rarely make or break tanks with adequate filtration, in summer the extra water circulation can be useful.>
It is in the center of the back wall of the tank and he passes through it more than he passes near the intake area of the filter. He certainly does not seem to enjoy it as much as my panda Corydoras do in our main tank!
<Corydoras panda come from a habitat where the water is cool and fast flowing, so they really do appreciate strong currents and extra air bubbles. When the water temperature gets above 25 C/77 F, they become stressed, and you'll see them swimming about most happily in the places with strong water flow because that's where the oxygen is. Ideally, you'd maintain them between 22-24 C/72-75 F.>
There are no other fish in the tank to cause damage (unless it could have been caused by his prior tank-mates). I'll keep him in quarantine until some sort of resolution to the problem is reached (hopefully that will be resolution of the holes and not progression to more serious illness).
<Makes sense.>
Again, thanks for your expertise and advice. The more I learn about this hobby, the more I enjoy all the time and effort I put into it.
<Good luck, Neale.>


Feeding (Corydoras, Botia) 5/30/2009
Hello Crew, Hope you are having a great day!! I have some questions on feeding please. I currently have 6 panda Corys and plan on buying some yoyo loaches and a Bristlenose catfish.
<Wouldn't keep Botia almorhae with Corydoras panda; the differences in size, aggression at feeding time, and social behaviour are just too acute.
Botia almorhae would work well with Ancistrus though, and similarly Ancistrus and Corydoras get along fine. If you must have loaches with Corydoras panda, look at either Pangio spp. or perhaps Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki, though this latter species is delicate and does need to be kept in a large group, so tank size will be an issue.>
First, I want to know if they will all get along or if the loaches will bother the Corys.
<Yes they will bother the Corydoras.>
Also, when it comes to feeding how is that done since they all eat mostly food off the bottom. Should I put their food in separate places in the tank, or will it be OK to feed them all together?
<Botia species will simply learn to eat food from one corner first, and then bully the Corydoras away from the food in the other corner next. Does depend on the size of the tank of course, and in a 200 gallon system I'm sure they'd muddle through! But realistically, not a combination I'd go for.>
I am worried about the loaches maybe picking on the Corys during feeding time.
<Your concern is justified.>
Thank you for your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>


Dying Panda Cory Cats 05/21/09
Hello Crew, hope things are going well for you there. I have a problem and hope you can help. I recently set up a 75 gallon freshwater tank. For substrate I am using 3M color quartz sand which I have read about others using with no adverse affects. Also, it was rinsed very, very well. I am using driftwood I bought off E-bay from a reputable seller which I also cleaned very well. I have 2 medium sized rocks I used previously in a saltwater aquarium. (I think they are lava rock, I bought them in a LFS. I have plastic plants except for a couple of java ferns here and there. I decided to buy Corys for my first fish. I went out and bought 6. They all seemed active and ate well. The next day I noticed one was dead and
didn't think much of it since fish do die like people. That night I was 2 of the Corys bullying another and not letting it escape from their harassment. The next morning another was dead and I assumed it was the one I saw being harassed. I have tested my water which showed no ammonia or nitrite and very little nitrate (.15). Now each night when I get home and check my tank I find one or 2 more Corys dead. Now I only have 3 left. I have some sort of snails that may have come in on the driftwood but they do not seem affected. I have been doing regular water changes and keeping my power filters clean. Could you please help me determine what might be causing these deaths please. I am at a loss and your help would be greatly appreciated. Also, is there some way to test the water to see if it is indeed poisonous to the fish? Thank you for all you do.
<You have a great setup for Corys! I would not think that the sediment could be the problem or the lava rock either. How long has your tank been setup? Did you let it cycle for the four to six weeks required? I am also worried that possibly they could have internal parasites and along with being introduced into a new tank caused the deaths for your Corys. You should cycle your tank longer if you did not wait for the four to six weeks
<You are welcome! Merritt A.>


Proper Feeding of Cory Catfish 5-04-09
Hello all, hope things are going well for you. I have a question on feeding, please. I currently have 6 panda Corys about medium size. I have two different types of food for them. One are small shrimp pellets
and some are wafers. Both of the packages suggest to feed enough for the Corys to eat within several minutes. My Corys don't eat all at once.
They may eat a while then swim around and come back later, etc. I am at a loss to feed them the proper amount without depriving them or overfeeding them. If you could make a suggestion I would really appreciate it. Also, should they be fed every day? Thank you for your help.
<Hello James, Merritt A. here today! First, I am assuming the Corys are the only fish you have in the tank. Since your Corys are not eating them all at once, then you know they are not starving and both types, wafers and shrimp pellets, are great foods for Corys. Since you have been watching your Corys, about how long does it take them to consume the food, 30 min.s, 1 hour, 2 hours? I would suggest feeding them a few pellets in the morning (one for at least every Cory) and two or three wafers. If this quantity takes them longer than 30 min.s, then reduce the amounts. Feeding your fish depends on your observations, just keep watching them (are they getting fat or slimming down) and change the amounts accordingly. You are welcome,
Merritt A.>
Re: Proper Feeding of Cory Catfish   5/7/09

Thanks for your advice. Please tell me the proper way to feed the Corys along with other fish when I add them. I plan on getting 6 angels and I have heard that they are very aggressive eaters. How can I feed them and at the same time keep them from getting the Corys food as well? Thank you again.
<Since Corydoras are nocturnal by preference (though they certainly are active by day in aquaria) the easiest way to make sure everyone gets enough to eat is to offer some food at night-time when the day-active fish won't compete. The Corydoras will find this food and eat their fill! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Proper Feeding of Cory Catfish Part II 5-7-09

Thank you Merritt, later I plan on adding about 6 angels. I know they will eat a different food, but how can I prevent them from eating the Cory's food? Feed them both at the same in different parts of the tank? Thank you again.
<Hello again! When I have other fish with my Corys, I feed them all at once. I feed the aggressive fish at one side of the tank and put the Cory food at the other side. This prevents the aggressive fish from eating all of the Corys food. Have a great evening! Merritt A.>


Odd panda Cory behaviour 5/21/08 Hi there, WWM's seen me through some tough times, and some pretty good ones too. So, thanks. <You are welcome.> I've been looking for info on panda Cory behaviour but I haven't had much luck. <Shouldn't be much different to any other Corydoras spp.> Here's my inquiry (w. specs below): I just picked up two panda Corys to join two I already had in my tank. <Four specimens does not a school of catfish make! Try keeping six or more. Trust me, the bigger the group, the happier your Corydoras will be.> They seemed to adjust rather quickly, schooling and what not. But for the last two hours or so, one of the Corys, a new guy I'm pretty sure, has been hanging onto the side of the glass at the water line occasionally moving to keep in one spot. <Can be one of two things. Corydoras will "gasp" at the surface when stressed in some way. Corydoras are obligate air breathers, meaning they *must* come to the surface and gulp air every couple of minutes, which is why they have to be kept in shallow water. But if the water is bad somehow, or the catfish are sick, they will come to the surface a lot more often. The second possibility is spawning behaviour. Corydoras will often form small groups (typically trios) consisting of a ripe female plus attendant males. These groups (in my tank anyway) flutter up the glass, laying eggs a few at a time.> when I look into to check on him he darts away. however, in the last few check ups he more listlessly tried to move away. <Not a good sign.> He was swimming normally, hanging around the bottom and scavenging when he first moved in, so I'm doubting swim bladder issues. <'Swim bladder disease' is pretty uncommon, and usually the name is applied to symptoms caused by other problems, such as constipation and bacterial infections.> Otherwise he appears healthy. no discolouration, spots, growths, and he's not gasping for air. The other Cory's are all fine and content along the bottom without him. Is he just being quirky? Or should I be worried. I'm worried. <I'd certainly observe. Routine water quality checks would be useful too: make sure the pH is stable for example. Corydoras are fine between pH 6 and 8, but what they don't like is the pH to be moving about all the time.> Specs: 20g Filter: Fluval 3+ submerged 700 l/hr 78 degrees F NH3 0.1 ppm <If you have this much ammonia, you have a problem. Ammonia at any level other than zero is a potential stress factor. Do check you are not overfeeding, that the tank isn't overstocked, and the filter is correctly maintained. This would be the first thing I'd suggest as the reason the Corydoras are unhappy.> pH 7.0 Weekly water changes at 20% with a few more recently to bring my pH back to normal (>5.0 several weeks ago) and ammonia down after a period of lax care I won't soon repeat. <Indeed, you do want to ensure stable conditions.> tank mates: a couple ferns, 2 swordtails, 4 Corys, 3 platys, 3 guppies, 1 dwarf frog, and 3 baby clown loaches which are leaving ASAP since the tank's too small. <Nothing seems terribly likely to harm your Corydoras in there. Though I will make the point Swordtails are far too big and active for a 20 gallon tank, so I'd move them with the loaches.> Any help would be greatly appreciated! Cheers and thanks, Adam <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Odd panda Cory behaviour 05/21/2008 Thanks for the great reply. <Happy to help.> FYI He's seemed to have cleared himself up. <Great!> As the night progressed he had more and more difficulty swimming and would list, be unable to swim horizontally, and was constantly floating upwards. I was convinced he had swim bladder disease since he was having such difficulty swimming and staying upright. Either way, this morning he was on the bottom of the tank scavenging with the others, as panda as could be. <Could easily be constipation. Constipation somehow makes it difficult for fish to swim properly. Not sure whether the blockage distorts the swim bladder, changes the centre of gravity, or what. But constipation and poor swimming ability often go together. In any case, once the blockage is cleared, normal swimming ability returns.> A 25% water change helped to bring down the ammonia as well to >0.1ppm. I'll continue to monitor him and my water conditions. <Very good. Low levels of ammonia are the "silent killer" in aquaria, nibbling away at the immune system of the fish, allowing opportunistic infections to get established. So while not fatal in the short term, in the long term it's a headache you don't want to deal with.> Thanks again, Adam <Cheers, Neale.> Re: Odd panda Cory behaviour 05/22/08 Hi again Neale, I'd really love to give back to the community that's helped me so much. I'm not much in the way of an aquaria expert but I am an accomplished copy editor and journalist. It'd be great to lend a hand polishing up articles and what not. Who might I contact to express such an interest? Cheers, Adam <Hello Adam. Kind of you to offer to help. I'm sure Bob Fenner, the Obermeister of this site, would be happy to hear from you.  Quite possibly you'll be able to help out with our "e-zine" or similar. Cheers, Neale.>

Discoloured panda Cory  3/23/08 Dear WWM, <Melissa> I have a 15 gallon freshwater tank that's been running for about six months. It contains: live plants; some snails (unplanned, but nothing near an infestation); 1 platy; 3 guppies; 4 albino Corys; 1 panda Cory (I realise I need more of these, but my LFS has not had them shipped in for awhile) and about 8 or 9 platy fry which I am not making any particular efforts to keep alive. The substrate is sand. Water changes are done 25% weekly. <Good> About two days ago I noticed that the panda Cory has lost all its colour. It is pretty small, about 1.5 inches long. It is almost completely white - the black markings around its eyes and near its tail are barely visible anymore. <Unusual> What do you think this could be? Other than appearance, it is acting fine; no changes in activity level or appetite. There are also no physical growths or lesions on him that I can see. <Stress... from something...> I have a cycled 5 gallon quarantine tank with sand substrate; should I put the Cory in there just to be safe? Thanks. -Melissa <I would not... likely more stressful... Perhaps this one fish is changing color to "match" the albino congeners... Bob Fenner>

Re: Discoloured panda Cory  3/23/08 Hi Bob, Should I just leave the Cory be, then? -Melissa <Yes, I would. B>

Help! My panda Cory is dying! 1/27/08 Hello, <Ave,> I have tried searching for this specific answer on the website and could not find. I don't have test kits here at my office (I left them all at home) but I know what the problem is, my 10 gallon had an ammonia spike. <Easy enough to fix, at least.> 5 days ago I bought 6 dwarf Corys and one of them got sucked in the filter and I didn't notice till 2 days after. Its whole body was in the filter where sponge is. <Hmm... usually when fish get "stuck" in filters, the fish was dead and merely sucked into the thing. Healthy fish, even things as small as Guppy fry, have no problems avoiding the suction from a filter. So when you find a dead fish in a filter, the question is *why* the fish died in the first place, not *what's it doing in the filter?*.> On that same day, 2 of my neon tetras and 1 more dwarf Cory died. I took the sponge filter out (bits of dead fish caught underneath it), gently swished around the sponge in aquarium water (in a bowl and then threw that water out) put the filter back, and did a 50% water change. <Does sound like a bigger underlying problem rather than one dead fish.> It has been 3 days now. For each of those days I have been doing about %50 water changes twice a day because now my other panda and another dwarf Cory have been showing very rapid gilling for 3 days. <Do need to know how much stuff is in this tank, and when you set it up. A 10-gallon tank is too small for most Corydoras, and certainly Corydoras panda, so assuming you have the essential school of at least four specimens, you're already overstocked with them. (And only a very cruel person would keep fewer than four Corydoras of each species -- they're schooling fish that need company.) Likewise, Neons need to be in groups of six or more, and while they're acceptable inmates for a 10-gallon tank, together with other fish you may well be over the limit. If you set this tank up recently, you may well also have an immature filter, and if you're overfeeding the fish, things go from bad to worse. Have a read of this (February's) TFH -- I have an article all about 10-gallon tanks, and you'll find it useful. Stocking such small tanks is difficult, and keeping them healthy even more difficult, which is why experienced fishkeepers universally recommend beginners start with 20-gallon or larger tanks. The size/price difference is trivial, but the ease of care is dramatically better.> I'm so worried because I don't know what's going on, I thought that water changes would provide immediate relief? <Up to a point yes, but it's like wiping your nose when you have a cold: helpful, but doesn't actually make you better. If the water quality is poor because the tank is poorly set up or maintained, then your issues run deeper than anything water changes alone can fix.> Today I put in another bag of Zeolite into my AquaClear filter, added some bacterial cycle stuff (we don't get BioSpira in Canada) and added a .25 teaspoon of aquarium salt. Is this ok? <Most of the "Cycle" type products are of questionable value (to be polite). Only the ones with live bacteria in them have any beneficial impact. Those that simply say they "promote" bacterial filters are really not doing much of anything except channeling cash from your pocket into the manufacturer's bank account. Aquarium salt can help relieve the symptoms of nitrite poisoning -- in the short term. As a long term fix, it isn't one.> Am I changing out too much water? <No. If the ammonia/nitrite levels aren't zero, then a water change is indeed appropriate.> I know I have not tested the water yet (will do tomorrow) but I thought that large water changes would fix the problem even if the parameters were too high? <Nope. Doesn't work this way.> Why are the Corys not showing signs of relief yet? They seem to be getting worse. <I bet. They'll keep getting worse until conditions in the tank improve, and that can mean you will need to give more time, remove some fish, feed less food, use a bigger filter, or all of the above, depending on the precise situation.> 10 gallon <Too small.> temp is 76F <Fine.> ph 7.0 (out of tap 6.8) <Fine.> but I have gravel in there that brings it up <Eh? Gravel doesn't have any impact on water chemistry, unless you've been sold a calcareous substrate such as crushed coral or coral sand, neither of which is appropriate for a South American community tank.> established 3 months (the pandas have been in there for the entire 3 months and were happy till a few days ago) 6 neon tetras (1 inch size) 2 honey dwarf gouramis (1 inch in size each) 2 panda Corys (1 panda in distress) 3 dwarf Corys (all about 0.5 inches in size, 1 dwarf in distress) <Whoa... too many fish for a 10 gallon tank, especially one just 3 months old. Six Neons and four Dwarf Corydoras would be about right for this tank. Everything else is just a succession of straws breaking the back of the proverbial camel.> ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, not sure yet as I will be testing tomorrow. <Good. The only critical one is Nitrite, the others are nice to know, so if you can afford just one test kit, buy a Nitrite test.> Should I be doing anything else? help!! <Reading, learning, taking fish back/buying bigger tank. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help! My panda Cory is dying! 1/29/08
Hi there thanks Neale for your wisdom! <No problem.> This message is for Neale please since he responded originally to my issues. Yes I know the whole thing about having 2 pandas (less than 4) but where I am located we don't get fish in very often and I live in the north so we hardly get pandas, and dwarf Corys, they usually die/and or get stressed from shipping so far, so hopefully I can get my pandas some friends soon. Also I know you think my tank is overstocked, but I do regular weekly water changes and do not overfeed my tank I am very careful to monitor them everyday and all of them are just babies not full grown yet. <OK, I take your point, but please understand that [a] fish don't stay small forever; and [b] the smaller the tank, the smaller your odds of success.> I will make my questions short, here is the situation: One of my pandas was affected by an ammonia spike from a dead fish getting stuck way up in the filter (see below). Distress symptoms first exhibited 5 days ago. Days 1-2 severe distress, lethargic did %50 water changes twice a day for both days Day 3-4 rapid gilling, severe distress, lethargic %50 water change twice a day, added 1.5 tsp salt/10 gallons, added an airstone (tested water, amm=0, nitrite=0.1, nitrate=5) and replaced accordingly to amount of H2O removed. Day 5 (yesterday) gilling improved, but slight shimmying exhibited. 1x %50 water change with salt (nitrite=0) Day 6 (today) no shimmying, rapid gilling again! What is going on...... <The problem with ammonia (and water quality problems generally) is that you don't see a one-to-one relationship between the problem and the symptoms. It's kind of like food poisoning in humans -- it can cause anything from vomiting to fatigue to hallucinations. So it depends on a range of things. At best, experience tells us that poor water quality causes a whole bunch of problems, and if things aren't turned around tout-de-suite, you end up with dead fish. All I can say here is that so long as you don't get zero ammonia, you're going to keep having stressed/dead fish.> this morning I did a 50% water change and cant figure out if I should add salt or not? ( my other baby Corys don't like it as they don't move much when salt in tank), <Small amounts of salt are harmless to Corydoras, especially compared with ammonia. I 100% do not recommend using salt as a standard additive, but in the short term, under these circumstances, a small amount can help.> How long should I add salt for as I see no improvement in my panda's condition? <Once the ammonia is at zero, drop the salt.> I don't see anything else wrong with her, but her rapid gilling is worrying me. Where I live they do not sell antibiotics, only fungal medication. Should I remove my panda into a quarantine and keep treating with salt? I'm worried that the stress of moving her will kill her. Please help!!!! <If your fish doesn't have Fungus, then don't treat for it. Simple as that. Concentrate on turning around the water quality right now. Review your feeding, your water changes, and the size/type of filter being used. Ask yourself if the filter is being used efficiently. In a small filter, carbon is a waste of space, and there are "deluxe" filter media like Siporax that offer more ammonia/nitrite removal per cubic centimetre than standard issue floss or sponge. Are you maintaining the filter properly? Washing filter media in anything other than aquarium water risks killing the bacteria. So there are little things you can do. Also check your tap water -- does it have ammonia? Is it treated with Chloramine? Both of these things are sometimes present, and if they are, you need specific types of dechlorinator to remove them.> thanks so much for your prompt reply:) <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: help! My panda Cory is dying!  -01/30/08
Thanks so much Neale, <Terri,> I feel much better knowing that since I'm not sure what is wrong with her (she is breathing so hard, not sure if she has a bacterial infection or not ) all I can do is keep the water clean while she is sick. <Indeed.> Just one more question though: if say I can find some antibiotic treatment online or something, should I just treat her with an antibiotic in a quarantine tank, knowing that maybe she has caught something secondary from the ammonia spike stress? <If she isn't showing symptoms, there's no real need to treat. Maracyn (an antibiotic) is harmless enough, so if you want to use that as a precaution, then go ahead. Won't do any harm to her or the other fish. But standard antibacterials contain copper and formalin and other stuff that is more or less toxic to fish, so should be used as rarely as possible. Do look out for the early signs of Finrot, as this is the most likely follow-on from ammonia; typically the fins turn pink as the blood vessels therein become irritated. Only afterwards do the fins actually rot. So spotting the pinkness is a good signal.> Thanks so much for your knowledge. I really hope she recovers... <So do I.> Cheers Terri <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help! My panda Cory is dying!  2/21/08
This is a message for Neale, <He's here!> I just wanted to say thanks so much for your informative response, I wrote several weeks ago in regards to help with a dying panda Cory. What happened was an ammonia/nitrite spike from a dead dwarf Cory (died from too much stress as they were new fish that were shipped long distances in very cold weather -40C!) rotting in my filter for about 2 days before I realised that it died and got sucked up into my filter. <Ah, the plot thinnens...> After your advice and 1 week of 2x 50% water changes/day, followed by 1 week of 1x 50% water changes/day with added 1 teaspoon of salt to 10 gallons, my little Cory was finally recovering. I was so happy that I did not have to medicate my panda and the water changes and salt helped so much. <Don't keep adding the salt indefinitely though. Once the fish are healthy, you can stop adding it. Salt doesn't do anything useful in a properly run freshwater aquarium, and some have argued it likely causes problems in the long run.> She was well for about 1 week with renewed appetite and I was so happy, but like you said Finrot started to set in and I monitored it carefully since she seemed well by last Friday. Now I left work (this is my office tank) for the weekend and all of a sudden on Monday my panda looked so bad, not moving I'm not sure what happened. All of the other fish in the tank are fine. Today alas she is dying I can tell that its the end of the road for her because she has gone very pale, lying on one side and pupils dilated, gasping for breath. I'm so sad because she was my first fish. <Oh dear.> Aside from going over the details again on my history (I believe my previous emails were already posted on WetWeb) my question is do you know what happened over the weekend? <Impossible to say, but as ever the two things you should check at once are nitrite and pH. These will give you a snapshot of the aquarium conditions. If there's any nitrite, that means there's a filtration problem; and if there's a big difference in pH relative to the normal value, then it's water chemistry that needs looking at. This said, Finrot can spread into the body, and once that happens, you're dealing with Septicaemia. If you don't treat Finrot quickly enough, this is what happens.> Her back fin was a little bit gone from the Finrot but just last week she seemed fine, what could have caused her to die so quickly when she was just recovering? <Difficult to say.> Just if anyone is wondering, from my experience now panda Corys are extremely sensitive to water conditions, as when the spike occurred nitrite levels were 0.1 ppm, where all my other fish were ok (as I understand 0.3 ppm and over fish normally begin to show signs). <Er, no. Any nitrite... ANY NITRITE is potentially dangerous, whatever the fish. There's no "safe level" other than ZERO. Yes, some fishes sometimes tolerate more than other fishes, but there are no guarantees. Panda Corydoras are relatively hardy in mature tanks, but I'd concur with your opinion that they aren't bullet-proof. Or put another way, if you're looking for a Corydoras for a new aquarium or aren't 100% sure about your fishkeeping skills, then there are other species to keep instead, for example Peppered Corydoras or Bronze Corydoras.> I will be burying her tonight: ( <Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.> Thanks Neale Cheers <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Small Panda Cory - 02/09/2007 Hi, in my fish tank, I have originally one panda Cory, which is 1 in long, probably.  Yesterday, I introduced two more panda Corys, but they are tiny, less than half the size of the original one.   <Good to have in groups though... this and most all Corydoras are very social animals> One of tiny panda Corys doesn't eat, and it is quite inactive.  It does swim around sometimes, but it only swims to follow the other panda Corys or hide. It's breathing a little more rapidly than the other Corys.  My tank water quality seems fine.  Any ideas how I may help this little guy?  -David <Do try a bit of either live or frozen/defrosted black worms here... these are almost irresistible to Callichthyid catfishes. Bob Fenner>

Salt tolerance of Cory Cats   5/28/06 Hello Crew! <<Hi, Jasmine. Tom here.>> I understand that the salt tolerance of catfish in general is very poor. <<It's true that Catfish don't have a tolerance for salt at levels that other fish can tolerate quite well.>> I have some Otos, Bronze Corys and Panda Corys. <<I love these guys, Jasmine. The Pandas tend to be a little less "robust" than other Corydoras varieties but they're sure cute. :)>> For future reference when the situation eventuates, how much aquarium salt would you recommend for these fish for a) prevention of nitrite poisoning and b) disease treatment. <<Regarding (a), don't let this situation "eventuate". In a cycled tank, with proper maintenance, it simply shouldn't occur. As to (b), this isn't, unfortunately, an option because of the dosages necessary to be effective. The "cure" would be as bad as the disease, in a manner of speaking. Even with all of the benefits to be derived from the addition of aquarium salt, in your case, I'm reluctant to advise this. Neither of the instances you cite would lead me to recommend its use given that there are alternatives should the occasion arise. I hope it never does, though. ;)>> Thanks for your help! Jasmine <<Happy to, Jasmine. Tom>>

Hungry panda Cory!   2/26/06 Hi there, <Helloooooo!> I've had my 20 litre tank (sorry, don't know US sizes - I'm in the UK!) <A liter/re is a bit more than a quart, there are four U.S. quarts in a gallon... your system is about five Yank gallons> for a month, and have 6 zebra Danios, 5 black neon tetras and two panda catfish. The zebras are doing great, but take all the food - I've tried a mix of flake food to distract them with and granulated food to sink to the bottom for the tetras and catfish, but the zebras totally take over the tank and eat it all! I've just lost a catfish, which I think was sick from when I bought it as it didn't last a week, but now the second one looks in trouble. It's incredibly listless, not responding to food even though I've sectioned it off in the tank with some food. I bought another panda today which is really active and seems fine - could it be that the listless one and the one that died were ill from the start? <A possibility, yes> There are no obvious symptoms, other than not being interested in eating and trying to swim up to the top and then falling back down, which I thought was cute until I read somewhere that this was not a good sign! Your website is great - any advice you could give me would be so appreciated, as I'm afraid as of tomorrow morning I'll be back to one panda again! Thanks, Laura <Do check your water... it may be that its quality is unsuitable... This Corydoras likes warm, soft, acidic water... no ammonia, no nitrite... Try some high/er protein sinking wafer type foods... Bob Fenner>  


Mysterious Corydoras deaths...one by one   7/12/06 Hey Crew. <<Hello, Justin. Tom>> I've had a series of mysterious deaths in my planted 20 gallon tank. I awoke this morning to find another fish very near death (it had seemed to be ill for a couple of days) so now I'm looking for advice. Here's all the data on my tank: 20 gallon with live plants, filtration is 150 gph, HOB filter. I use an airstone as well. Temperature is usually 23-24c, though with recent hot weather, it's gone as high as 26c. Livestock is as follows: three bronze Corydoras, two three-line Corydoras (one of which is near death), and two dwarf Otos. The tank is cycled, ammonia and nitrite are 0, and always have been. Nitrate is consistently around the 20 mark. pH is higher than I'd like it to be; but stable at around 8.0. I've decided to leave that as it is rather than monkey with it. I've tried that before with no success. I do a weekly water change of 5 gallons, using dechlorinated water. <<With the exception of the unfortunate demise of your pets, I see nothing wrong here, Justin. As you suggest, your pH is, frankly, quite a bit higher than Corys would prefer but I commend you for not playing around with it. Better to leave it "stable".>> The trouble started about six weeks ago...in the span of approx. 2 weeks, I lost three panda Corys and a three-line Cory. Two of these fish displayed no specific symptoms before they passed, they just became listless for a couple of days, eventually became unable to right themselves when swimming, and died. My current sick three-line is showing basically the same symptoms, though it's gills have been quite pink while it's been sick. One panda Cory died from what appeared to be dropsy, another came down with what appeared to be a fairly minor case of fin rot, and was dead 24 hrs later. At the time, the fish that died were all fairly new (all were quarantined before adding to the main tank) and while they did not appear to be sick when I purchased them, they weren't exactly top quality specimens either. I dismissed this as a run of bad luck, and bad stock. Having no more trouble for a month confirmed this for me. But finding another sick fish, one that I've had for nearly a year, is the final straw...but I can't imagine what's going wrong in this tank. <<Having had no personal success with Panda Corys, I can appreciate your frustration but haven't got much to offer as far as an explanation goes. I knew they were among the least, if not the least, robust of the species when I tried my hand with them and did everything I could think of with no luck whatsoever. To this day, I don't have a clue. On the flip side, I've got Leopard and Emerald Green Corys - which are really Brochis - that are doing famously. Admittedly, my pH is considerably lower (7.0) and this makes me suspicious of this parameter in your case.>> I feed these fish a varied diet of Hikari sinking tablets, algae wafers, peas, and several meaty foods, both frozen and dried. There's also a colony of pond snails in this tank, which I occasionally crush by hand and leave for the Corys to gobble up. So what could possibly be the problem here? Is it the recent temperature increase? <<I'm not too keen on the idea of the snails for these fish but I've no knowledge of them being either good or bad as a food source for Corys. The temperature increase seems to be an unlikely candidate as the problem to me. An increase due to weather conditions is going to be relatively slow and not problematic. I'd be more suspicious of a sudden drop in temperature.>> The high pH finally taking a toll? <<Of the conditions that you've thoughtfully/carefully described, this is the one that I'd be most inclined to suspect, especially in the case of the Pandas.>> Are the snails bad for them? Am I cursed? <<Well, I don't believe in "curses" so I'd write that one off. :) Myself? I'd discontinue the snail regimen. They won't miss them and it will eliminate a possibility.>> I have a flotilla of aquarium meds I'd use in a heartbeat if there appeared to be a specific disease afoot. What do you suggest? <<Justin, there doesn't seem to be anything "consistent" in the specifics surrounding the deaths of your pets other than the fact that they're dying. One showed signs of "Dropsy". Another, fin rot (possibly) while two others simply grew listless and died. Since we're dealing with something that appears to be "obscure", I'm going to suggest something equally obscure. If you've got a heater in your tank, you may want to test for a stray electrical current in the water. Uncommon but definitely not unheard of. If nothing else, it might get rid of another possible cause for the problems you're experiencing.>> Thanks in advance for your help. JM <<I'm afraid my usual two-cents-worth may only be worth about half of that in your case, Justin, but, other than the pH issue, you don't describe anything that doesn't sound spot-on to me. Tom>>


Salt tolerance of Cory Cats   5/28/06 Hello Crew! <<Hi, Jasmine. Tom here.>> I understand that the salt tolerance of catfish in general is very poor. <<It's true that Catfish don't have a tolerance for salt at levels that other fish can tolerate quite well.>> I have some Otos, Bronze Corys and Panda Corys. <<I love these guys, Jasmine. The Pandas tend to be a little less "robust" than other Corydoras varieties but they're sure cute. :)>> For future reference when the situation eventuates, how much aquarium salt would you recommend for these fish for a) prevention of nitrite poisoning and b) disease treatment. <<Regarding (a), don't let this situation "eventuate". In a cycled tank, with proper maintenance, it simply shouldn't occur. As to (b), this isn't, unfortunately, an option because of the dosages necessary to be effective. The "cure" would be as bad as the disease, in a manner of speaking. Even with all of the benefits to be derived from the addition of aquarium salt, in your case, I'm reluctant to advise this. Neither of the instances you cite would lead me to recommend its use given that there are alternatives should the occasion arise. I hope it never does, though. ;)>> Thanks for your help! Jasmine <<Happy to, Jasmine. Tom>>


Corydoras panda are losing their eyes!   1/26/06 I hope someone can help.  Recently I noticed 4 of my young pandas have lost their eyes.  2 have died so far.   After they lose their eyes they start to loss their color and turn whitish. They still feed and act silly.  I've had pandas for a few years and have managed to breed them very successfully.  I love my little guys and take good care.  Could this be a disease? <Not likely> or is someone attacking them? <Yes>   The only "new" addition is a very young Kribensis Cichlid (about the same size as the pandas).  I have a 60 gallon tank with mostly tetra (cardinals and hatchets), 5 Platies, 2 small angelfish, 2 yoyo loaches and 2 Plecos. <I suspect the Kribensis or loaches... but could be an angel... only close observation or systematic removal will reveal the culprit. Bob Fenner> Help me please - Sabiha

Cory Quarantine Query (Now say it 5 times fast!)  12/26/05 Hello~ <Hi.> A newbie in the field, but have been gleaning a lot of info from this site-very appreciative of all the knowledge that is accessible. <Outstanding, glad to hear we have been helpful.> I have a 12 gal going for about 3 months...all is fine, but spotted a few panda Corys that I would like to buy and  QT- and all that I have running besides the 12gal is a 2 gal...would this be big enough <Enough.> for the Pandas (3) to spend about 2-3 weeks in before putting them in the larger tank? <2 gallons is pretty small, and I would be a lot more comfortable with something in at least the 5 gallon range. However of you plan to go ahead with it, the tank would need to be well filtered and have good surface area. Daily water changes of 30 to 50% would be a must.> Thank You Very Much, <Quite welcome.> Merry Christmas, <Ditto.> Judy <Adam J.>


Panda Cory with Milky Film 10/13/05 Hello, <Good morning. Sabrina with you.> This is my first fish tank and your website has been tremendously valuable. I keep making mistakes, though, and lost 4 panda Corys. Just when I think I've figured out what I'm doing wrong, another panda gets sick. <Yikes. Starting out, most folks make mistakes, so do not beat yourself up on this. It is how we are prompted to learn.> I now have two pandas. One seems healthy and active, but the other has milky white clumps on one side of his body. They started about 2 weeks ago and are spreading. I'm attaching two photos...I hope you can open them. I don't know if it's a fungus or bacterial infection. <A tough question. I, personally, think this is Columnaris or some other (severe) bacterial infection. Good photo, BTW.> I've been treating the tank with Maracyn for 8 days now. Initially, there was a small red spot in the white patch that's gone now. The Cory hides but eats actively (sinking wafers and shrimp pellets) and his breathing seems normal. Both seem to tolerate the Maracyn. <I don't think Maracyn (Erythromycin) will treat Columnaris; even if this is something else bacterial, I doubt that Erythromycin is the way to go; it only treats gram-positive bacteria (that's bacteria that have a cell wall); there are few gram-positive bacteria responsible for illness in fish.> <<This is incorrect: The difference between "gram positive" bacteria and "gram negative" bacteria has to do with how they take up (or don't) a type of violet stain (re: peptidoglycan w/in cell walls) .  Try Googling, or view here  Marina>>

My tank and mistakes: -- 7 gal, power filter with venturi tube, sponge filter, heater, light, live plants, driftwood. -- 1 male Betta, 2 panda Corys (at most 4). -- temp 80F, ph 7.0, total ammonia < 0.1ppm (was zero before Maracyn), nitrites 0ppm, nitrates 5ppm, dGH 2, dKH 2. -- 30-40% water change and gravel vac every other day, Amquel, Nutrafin Cycle every other change. Temp change 1-2 degrees after change. <This is too much maintenance, once the tank's cycled.> -- mistakes: --didn't cycle properly and overfed; lost 2 Corys due to high ammonia. --problems keeping temp and pH stable; okay now. --initially fed Betta live tube worms <Tubifex worms, perhaps? Try to avoid these; Blackworms are safer (as in, less prone to passing along disease to your fish).> and now some are living in the gravel. I vacuum but can't seem to get rid of them. Maybe the substrate wasn't clean enough. <This is okay. The worms in the substrate aren't of significant concern unless they are very numerous.> --Two other Corys gradually got sick. <Ammonia again? Or this illness?> --one died after one dose of Maroxy; did quick water change and stopped. --another died after one dose of Maracyn II, same. I feel terrible about losing these fish. Is there anything I can do if the Maracyn doesn't work? <I've shown this to Bob, as well.... his recommendation is to treat with aquarium salt and a furan compound.... might read here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/furancpdfaqs.htm .> I don't want to add another chemical or medicine that might do more harm than good. <The Maracyn likely will not be of help here.> I won't add new fish. Through all this, my Betta has been very active, eating heartily, and seemingly oblivious. <I would remove him from this system immediately, lest he contract the illness as well. Normally I would recommend the opposite, removing the infected fish to a separate quarantine/hospital system, but I would be fearful for the Betta right now.> Thanks for your expertise! --Anita <Wishing you the best, -Sabrina>

Panda Cory with Milky Film - II - 10/21/2005 Hello Sabrina again, <Aloha.> Thank you for your advice on treating my panda Cory with the bacterial infection. I set up a small 2.5 gal tank with power filter, heater, new gravel, two new live plants, and some decorations, then moved my Betta into it. Since the tank isn't cycled (I didn't use gravel from my main tank, due to the infection), I am monitoring the ammonia and doing 50% water changes every other day. He is settled and healthy, his normal self, though a bit cramped. <All sounds good for now.> I am relieved he's safe. In my 7 gal main tank with the two panda Corys, I added aquarium salt (dissolved in water) and began treatment with Furan 2 (two courses for 8 days). Today is the last day. The tank parameters are still: temp 80F, pH 7.0, total ammonia 0ppm, nitrites 0ppm, nitrates 5ppm. I have good news and bad news, plus more questions if you can help. <Alright! Let's get started.> First the good: Both Corys tolerated the treatment. The healthy one looks the same with no sign of infection. The sick one still has energy, eats a lot, and swims around. He has actually grown bigger in the three weeks since the white patches appeared. <Wow.> (He is the only Cory that developed these white patches.) Both seem to be breathing normally with no redness around the gills. Now the bad: The white patches don't seem to have reduced in size or thickness. It's difficult to tell if they've spread, but there might be a new patch on his right side. The past few days, I've noticed he darts and jerks more when he swims and hides more often. I looked at a close-up photo and was astonished to find that his left pectoral fin is gone! It was definitely there 5 days ago.

Panda before Furan2 treatment.

Panda post-Furan2.

<Did you start medicating with a Furan compound yet?> I am attaching photos. Since this infection started, his left side seemed to swell and bulge around the pectoral fin. Since he's grown bigger, it's hard to tell if there's still a bulge. I plan to do a partial water change and put back the carbon filter as recommended on the Furan 2 package. <Mm, you should remove the carbon when you start treating with the Furan 2.> Should I keep the aquarium salt in the water or gradually remove it with water changes? <Fine to leave the salt in, as long as it is no more than 1 tablespoon per five or ten gallons.... less is better with Corys.> Is there another treatment I can try? <Have you started the Furan 2 yet? I would give it a second go, if you're already done with the first round.> Can his fin grow back? <Possibly, but also possibly not. Not to worry, though, he can live without a pectoral fin if it does not grow back.> Is it possible he can make it or does this mean he will slowly get worse and suffer more? What is the best and kindest thing I can do for him now? <In all honesty, I don't know his chances. It's a pretty bad infection. However, if he's still eating, I think there's still hope. I would give it a second round with the Furan 2, and if that still fails, I would consider going to something "stronger", perhaps Oxytetracycline....> Thanks for your help, --Anita <All the best to you and your fish, -Sabrina>

Panda Cory with Milky Film - III - 10/22/2005 Hello Sabrina, <Ahoy thar, matey!> <<Hey.. talk like a pirate day was last week!>> Thanks so much for your quick reply! <Sure thing.> To clarify, I ended 8 days of treatment with Furan 2 yesterday. (The package says to use it for 4 days, then you may repeat if necessary, which I did. <Ah, I see.> I cut open the capsules to get the right dosage for my 7 gal tank. I don't know if there's a better way. <Mm, probably that was right to do.> <<Please note: this stuff can stain clothes permanently.  MH>> I washed my hands immediately afterwards.) Three days after starting the Furan 2, I took a photo that shows the pectoral fin. Five days after that, another photo showed the fin was gone. (Without the photos, it's hard to compare how he's doing since he moves so fast.) <At least he's still acting well!> I removed the carbon during the treatment and just put it back yesterday. Today the water is clear again instead of greenish from the Furan 2. Is it okay to continue the Furan for another 4 days (for 12 total days)? <Actually, I would not.> It's hard to tell if it made a difference (except he's still here!). Do you have a recommendation for an Oxytetracycline product? I'll look for some today. <Having discussed this with Bob, I wish to recommend that you use Acriflavine in the water, instead.... Methylene Blue if you can't find Acriflavine. In addition to this, a food medicated with Oxytetracycline is a really, really good idea. Here is one place to purchase such a product: http://flguppiesplus.safeshopper.com/29/cat29.htm?264 . Otherwise, you can make this yourself, if you can find Oxytetracycline.... or could use tetracycline.... or other antibiotic.... This article contains a passage about preparing your own medicated foods: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/holedispd.htm .> Thank you! -Anita <Sure thing. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Panda Corys
Hi. Are panda Corys compatible with other Corys species? I have read they are sociable and like to be in a group. I have one remaining panda having 6 that died. I want the panda to have company but I do not like the fish store where I got the pandas from and can't find pandas where I want to purchase...so I'm looking at getting other Corydoras species. You think? Thanks Marty <Hey Marty, they will do fine together.  Corydoras are one of my favorite fish.  In my experience, I have noticed that although they do not bother each other, they do stick with their own.  My Albino Corys hang out with the other Albinos, and the Peppered Corys hang out with the other Peppered Corys.  What is interesting is the Albino Corys do not hang out with the Bronze Corys even though they are both Corydoras Aeneus, go figure.  One thing you may want to look into is why the other 6 died, that is not a good sign. fishbase.org is great for information regarding water parameters and what not, the link below is a fun Cory site. -Gage http://www.nettaigyo.com/corydoras/encyc/index-e.html >
Panda Corys
Thank you so much Gage. I will check out the info you sent me. The fish store where I bought the pandas is not someplace I want to frequent any longer. Their Corys had no barbels to speak of, and the Corys were very little. I watched the guy catch them and it looked like a slaughter rather than a netting. Marty <Good plan, no barbels is a very bad sign. -Gage>

Pandas and Barbs Incompatible? Hi! I have a 10 gallon tank with 2 striped barbs and 2 long-finned Danios. All 4 fish are about 1" in size.  Tank has been cycled and water tested. They have been living together for a few months now and get along great. I do a 20-30% water change every week.  The other day I added 2 small panda Corys.  Right away, one striped barb started chasing one of the Corys.  This went on for a few days. Every time the panda tried to rest, the barb would seek him out and chase him.  It only happened with one barb and one panda.  Also, the barbs were hogging all the food, so we tried a sinking pellet for the pandas, but the barbs found that too and devoured it!  Needless to say, when I got home from work one night, both pandas were dead. I took them out and did a water change and the 4 original fish are back to normal.  Will this happen with any new fish I add or was there some incompatibility with the panda and the barb?  I feel like the barb harassed the pandas to death!! < Some fish do get territorial and some barbs have been known to become fin nippers. Next time do a water change and rearrange the tank just before adding any new fish. This may help. Or you could try to add numerous fish at the same time to help disperse the aggression of the barbs.-Chuck> Thanks, Frances

Re: Freshwater planted setup Howdy once again, In regards to the sump for the 55 gallon live plant fish tank. I would appreciate your comments on the sump design (drawing attached). I'm kind of new at this fish stuff but have been doing a lot of research for the last six months and want my system set up right the first time. Thanks for your previous input and thanks for your input on this aspect in advance. <missed the attachment, bud> As to your first response on adding more Corydoras cats-Should I add more Panda Cory's or can I add the same amount of another Cory species (from what I read their all compatible, given water parameters are within reason). <I'm inclined towards shoals of the same species and the panda specifically for warmer waters if you need that. Anthony>


Will Epsom Salt hurt Panda Corydoras? Thanks, Chuck, but you didn't answer my main question. Would Epsom salt hurt panda Cory cats? < Corydoras come from very soft acidic water with no salt in it at all. Depending on how much salt you add with have an affect on the amount of irritation and discomfort you cats will be subjected too. If you fish are wild then I would not recommend adding any salt to their water at all. Domesticated or tank raised fish are more tolerant to salt being raised in confined conditions so a little can probably be tolerated.-Chuck> 

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