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FAQs on Pangasiid Cats,  Mainly the Iridescent/ID "Shark"... Disease/Health

Related Articles: Pangasiid Catfishes

Related FAQs: Pangasiid Catfishes 1Pangasiid Catfishes 2, & FAQs on: Pangasiid Catfishes Identification, Pangasiid Catfishes Behavior, Pangasiid Catfishes Compatibility, Pangasiid Catfishes Stocking/Selection, Pangasiid Catfishes Systems, Pangasiid Catfishes Feeding, Pangasiid Catfishes Reproduction, Related Catfish FAQs:  Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, ReproductionMinnow Sharks 1,

small tear     11/29/17
My iridescent catfish is 6-8 inches long, lives in a 125 tank with two parrot heads. Sharky got excited the other day and scratched himself on a sharp edge on a decoration.
<Ah! Very common; and will state for the record here that this fish will outgrow this system in time>
There is no blood, or discharge and I have removed the offending decoration. All water parameters are correct and he seems fine but should I do any preventive care on his scrape?
<Maybe; but I would not do much; lest some aspect of water quality, biological make up (nitrification e.g.) be impugned. Perhaps some salt addition as detailed by Neale here:
Normally he is very mellow but the vacuum bumped the tank stand making him bang around and get hurt.
Thanks for any ideas. I plan on keeping him and he will live in a 300 gallon tank with current mates.
<Ahh, good! This fish will very likely be fine, self-heal in days to a few weeks. Bob Fenner>

Red patch near gills of ID Shark       5/31/17
Hi Team,
I have a albino (white) id shark. I suddenly noticed a red patch like mark which kind of looks like a wound on both the sides of the fish near the gills. I haven't seen this before in him. I added some Melafix to the tank last evening when I saw that he was looking little dull than usual.
Please advise.
Thanks and regards,
<Hello! I'm assume you have an albino Iridescent Shark, Pangasianodon hypophthalmus. This potentially huge fish struggles to survive well in home aquaria -- adults are routinely over 70 cm in length, and can reach almost twice that size. Like a lot of big fish, one sign that they're cramped (i.e., kept wrong) is the appearance of something called "Gill Curl", where the gill covers (opercula) become deformed. When this happens, the red gill filaments underneath the gill covers can be seen. As well as making the gill filaments more vulnerable to physical damage, gill curl affects the
ability of the fish to pressurise the inside of the gill chamber, reducing its ability to extract oxygen from the water. In short, your fish looks like it has red wounds around its gills, and because its getting less oxygen than it needs, it becomes steadily more lethargic. Does this sound plausible? Without a photo it's obviously hard for me to say 100% what's going on here, but Gill Curl would be my number-1 guess. How is Gill Curl treated? Primarily by fixing the environment. Iridescent Shark need thousands of litres of water. We're talking ponds, not fish tanks.
Substantial water changes will help, and increasing water circulation can add a bit more oxygen to the tank, improving things some more. But fundamentally it's all about getting the environment right: 2500+ litres (upwards of 650 US gallons); robust filtration with a lot of current; neutral water chemistry; no sharp or hot objects in the tank likely to
cause scratches or burns. While the Girl Curl itself might not actually get better, it won't get worse, and as the fish grows, the deformed part becomes less and less significant. Note that no medication is needed or helpful. Hope this helps! Neale.
Oh, and by way of a post scriptum -- Iridescent Sharks are not aquarium fish, and for other readers out there, unless you're planning on farming Iridescent Sharks, don't buy them! Juveniles sometimes get out of the fish farming business and end up in aquarium shops, and when they're small, they're undeniably cute. But given their adult size, and extremely rapid growth rate, they're virtually impossible to keep properly or healthily.
Peaceful predators they may well be, and ideally suited to big fish communities at zoos and public aquaria, but as home aquarium fish, they're useless. NM.>

IID shark... env. dis.; no rdg.      9/15/14
> Hi, I'm hoping you can help me. I've had two ID sharks for the past 15 years. 10 days ago I noticed a little white spot on the back of his neck.
In time it seemed to spread and I went to the fish store to see what they could offer for treatment.
<... almost assuredly physical damage on this Pangasiid Cat... VERY commonly injure themselves in captivity... Get way big... need hundreds, thousands of gallons>
> They recommended Melafix
<Worse than worthless. Don't write us w/o reading on WWM first>
and I administered 75ml per my 150 gallon once a day as of 6 days ago. I am noticing the abrasion to the skin is worsening,
I really am stuck as what to do.
<READ re the health of this family on WWM>
The fish has also lost a lot of weight but he does continue to eat and swim. He isn't acting as though he is sick but his skin looks like its
worsening. I'm not sure if you will get this email in time or at all but in have enclosed a few pictures in its stages
> Any help would be greatly appreciate
The first day I noticed something
I noticed it spread and went to the fish store to seek treatment Five days into using the Melafix and it's worsening
This is where I'm at today
I feel helpless and I don't think the guys at the fish store can help
<Read. Bob Fenner>

catfish emergency    2/19/14
Aloha, Just wanted to say to your site is awesome and thanks in advance. I need your help with my Pangasius catfish. He was given to me a month ago and is housed in 2000 gal reservoir connected to three separate 150gal aquaponic grow beds which act as a filter. System has been running for years with other smaller(12in) Pangasius, Pimelodus catfish, Aulonocara cichlids and blue tilapia. I've never detected any nitrate in reservoir despite seeing visible fish waste on bottom. The ph runs a little high around 8 and we have quite a bit of water hardness. This is an outdoor set up and I live in Maui, Hawaii, so temperature has been running from 60's to 70's, but it has been unusually cold and dropped to high 50's at night. The weather has warmed up and tank is now running 67.
<First time for everything... an email describing and appropriate habitat for Pangasius catfish! You have my respect!>
Upon moving this new large very healthy 24" panganguis in, within days what looks like Columnaris set in around mouth, presumably from a transport injury.
<Quite possibly. Very common issue with this species.>

I've been doing frequent water changes and have stopped feeding the entire reservoir  but the infection has progressed to almost cover his eyes, although the eyes are clear, whiteness is started to surround eye socket. I don't know what else to do.
<Medicate as per Columnaris; likely an antibiotic, but I'd use an anti-fungal medication alongside, so you can cover all the possibilities: Columnaris, Finrot, and Fungus, all of which can look extremely similar and frequently co-occur. Phenoxyethanol can make a good "bath" for dipping infected fish into, but doing this with a large fish that doesn't want to be in a net and consequently thrashes about may be difficult.>
He is the only affected fish in reservoir. The other panguis are spotless and I've never seen aggression from any species. I thought I could separate him into to 300gal tank and medicate but the trauma may not be worth it.
This fish is very tame, he would let me touch him and maybe apply medication in main 2000gal. Please let me know your advice. Thanks Brandon
<Definitely worth medicating. Success will depend upon the correct dosage, so consulting with a vet will be time/money well spent, and this is even more true if you decide to euthanise a fish this size. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: catfish emergency     2/21/14

Wanted to give you guys an update on my Pangasius.
About 24 hours after my original email, the infection had spread to cover eye sockets and by all the air gulping I thought the infection had spread to gills. I was definitely considering euthanizing this fish. I was able to contact a vet with some fish experience, there aren't a lot here on Maui but  I found an awesome vet.
He thought the fish could be saved with vision intact hopefully.
<So do I.>
He recommended separating into 300gal res. Moving the fish wasn't as traumatic as I imagined. I attempted to scoop him with a 20 gal plastic container. Sounded good in theory, but he jumped out (luckily back in pool). So I netted him and administered an injection of baytrol <likely Baytril, RMF> and also added a solution to reservoir called SDM (or that's what he wrote on invoice). I'm instructed to inject the fish once a day for 5 days. Also my vet only charged $16.00 to cover the cost of meds and no fee for his service, I'm extremely grateful.
<I'll say! Sounds like a very good vet to know.>
I'm hoping he pulls thru, and have been feeling like a failure as a fish keeper.
<On the contrary, I think you've been unlucky. Your descriptions of your Pangasius aquarium is refreshingly appropriate, and you've made the effort to get hold of a vet who can offer some useful assistance. These are two things we hear about on WetWebMedia all too rarely.>
My next question is my 300gal has water that has been sitting out for a few weeks, had a pair of giant gourami in there for a week or so. I transferred Gouramis to another tank a week ago did a 50% water change and tank has been running with just a circulation pump 285gph(added a few airstones once catfish went in) and no filter.
<Will need some sort of filter.>
So I'm going to hook a large trickle filter and do daily water changes. Do you think this will be a problem?
<Could work depending on the size of the trickle filter. Otherwise something like a Fluval FX6 might do the job. The water changes will be important too, if not daily, then certainly frequently enough to dilute nitrate and, if necessary, any ammonia the filtration system can't cope with. Biological filtration is a definite plus, and you could "clone" any existing filters by donating up to 50% of their mature media and putting that mature media into whatever new filter you choose to use. The alternative is zeolite, which works well, and instantly, but is expensive where big fish are concerned.>
I'm concerned of ammonia spikes etc but  I had start meds asap.
<Used as directed, aquarium antibiotics generally don't cause problems for filter bacteria (do recall than each antibiotic affects only a certain set of bacteria species, not all of them). Use an ammonia test kit every day or two though, just to be sure.>
Also are daily water changes too much and what percentage would you recommend.
<Daily water changes are fine, but I'd do them before adding that day's medication, otherwise all you'll do is dilute the medicines. Provided water chemistry and temperature are kept roughly the same for old and new water, you can change as much as you want. After all, a fish in a river is moving through 100% new water all the time! But realistically, most aquarists will find changing 50% at a time the safest option because even if temperature and water chemistry aren't *quite* the same, the change won't be too bad for the fish.>
How much water flow should I provide?
<At minimum you need about 4-6 times the volume of the tank in turnover over hour simply for adequate biological filtration, but for larger fish like yours, the more the better in terms of oxygenation, etc. Ideally, you'd go with something like 10 times the volume per hour.>
I've always wondered after doing water changes and adding dechlorinator (I use one that uses sodium chloride, aloe and polyvinyl something) is that bad for our fish and what's a good way to dechlorinate water (I have let chlorine off gas by letting it sit out)?
<Aerating water to drive off chlorine works fine; the problem is that most modern water supplies have chloramine as well, and aeration does little/nothing about this. Provided you use a decent water conditioner, this isn't an issue to waste much worry on. You know you can use pond dechlorinator? For big fish, or cheapskates like me, this can end up saving you a lot of money! Just be careful when dosing, because pond dechlorinator is more concentrated than aquarium dechlorinator.>
Also any advice is appreciated. Thanks for the great site. Brandon
<Most welcome and thanks for the kind words. Neale.>
Re: catfish emergency    2/25/14

<Am responding here and will be putting your query in Neale (Monks) in-box as well: He resides in the UK; hence his response may be delayed in this time frame>
First wanted to thank you for taking time to answer my questions and here is the update to the update regarding Pangasius. He's responding well to meds. He has gone from moving slowly to actively patrolling his 300gal hospital tank and seems to be healing. I'm on day 4 of 5 of Baytril. Do you think I should add salt once meds are completed?
<I would not; unless there is some, are some specific reason/s to do so.
Most all freshwaters have a modicum of salts in them...>
 I am wondering about feeding. This fish hasn't fed in a month that I know of. He has been living outdoors and may feed on insect larvae and pond plants but no floating or sinking pellets and no tank mates. This fish is by no means skinny and has come from a Koi pond(before he was given to me 30 days ago). When would be a good time to try to start feeding?
<IF there's sufficient biofiltration capacity, now. A high quality pellet brand would be my choice (Spectrum, Hikari or such>
 As far as filtration I hooked up a trickle filter 265gph with 130gal of media and I had an extra cascade 1500(395gph) canister laying around so hooked that up.  I've been doing 50% water changes every other day as well.
 Any suggestions on filtration would and suggested amount of time in hospital tank would be appreciated.
<Just so all is monitored... alkalinity, ammonia and nitrite in particular>
 Should I be worried about parasites?
<? Why? Has this animal been exposed?>
I haven't had any issues in the past but we had a huge blood worm hatch(I think is midge larvae and not normally a parasite as far as I know)
I wouldn't think this a problem but do you think it has any affect on bacterial infection and or recovery.
I received a call from someone who wants to give me an albino channel catfish about 12". Do you think they would coexist with Pangasius and Pimelodus well?
<Could likely in time... though cool water... fine behaviorally to mix if there's room>

Keep up the good work and thanks Brandon
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: catfish emergency. Neale's addenda   2/25/14

<<I would not add anything to Bob's excellent comments but will say this about the Channel Catfish: they grow huge. In the wild they get to 2, 3 feet in length, and even in aquaria you can comfortably expect sizes approaching those after a few years. While actually quite peaceful and perfectly happy in tropical water (I kept a juvenile about 12-14" long with Gibbiceps Plecs, Jaguar Cichlids, Spotted Gar and similar jumbo fish) they are easily big enough to eat small fish, and in tropical conditions grow faster than in coldwater. The Pangasius is not at risk, but the Pimelodus pictus would be, perhaps fatally for both parties if its sharp pectoral and dorsal spins jam in the mouth of the Channel Cat. So approach offers of "free" Channel Cats with care. They're pond fish really, not aquarium fish.>>
Re: catfish emergency      2/28/14

Greetings WetWebMedia crew,  Just wanted to clarify an earlier email in regard to the addition of the channel catfish to  my 2000gal res. Which is filtered by 450 gal aquaponic grow beds at 900gph. I have never detected any nitrate(or ammonia for that matter)since day one and have stocked this pond heavily with tilapia in the past. Currently housed are 2 Pangasius (about
14in), 2 Pimelodus blochii( about 12in),
<A splendid species.>
4 Aulonocara cichlids
<Should be okay, but eventually may be small enough to eat. Bear in mind a 3-foot long Channel Catfish can eat pretty much any fish in its environment.>
and 6 blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus). In addition I have a sick Pangasius (24in) housed in hospital tank due to a bacterial infection. This fish was given to me recently and broke out in a infection  24hrs after receiving him. No other fish have been affected, even the other Pangasius.
I plan to return him to this tank as well. So I was planning to add channel cat to  that tank. Do you think this would crowd tank?
<In 2000 gallons these fish should have enough space.>
Thanks for the help. Brandon
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Re: catfish emergency      2/28/14

Greeting WetWebMedia crew, I'm becoming concerned about my Pangasius. He has completed 5 days of Baytril and has shown a lot of improvement. The Columnaris infection on head has been sort of peeling off(white pieces of flesh) and normal colored skin is starting to fill in, although there is some redness. His activity level has picked up  a lot. The problem is one eye has failed to recover it remains fuzzy white with a patch of fuzzy white on tip of caudal fin. I'm wondering if this is maybe fungus.(would send a pic but my camera is low resolution). The other eye has regained some pigment and he seems to be able to see. This fish is being housed in a 300gal hospital tank and I've been doing 50% water changes every  other day. I haven't been running a heater(I do live in tropics but tanks running 66F). Do you think I should, if so what temp(for a fish recovering from bacterial infection etc.)  Should I start another round of meds or will infection heal on its own. Also would salt be  helpful. Thanks for your time Brandon
<I would just keep water quality up... not re-treat. These sorts of repairs take many weeks to months. BobF>
Re: Re: catfish emergency

<I would just keep water quality up... not re-treat. These sorts of repairs take many weeks to months. BobF>
<<I agree with Bob, but would make the point that a vet with experience of treating fish can often help -- in a cost-effective way -- with large, valuable pond and aquarium fish. Fish do have astonishing abilities to heal themselves when water quality is excellent. A few years back I kept Hatchetfish, and one of them flew into the sharp metal reflectors behind the light. It looked like a whole fillet had been removed from its flank.
But after a few weeks the would was clearly healing, and after three months the fish seemed pretty much normal except for having irregular markings where it should have had a couple of straight lines. So have faith, use medicine as directed, and keep the water spotlessly clean. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: catfish emergency   3/7/14

Greetings WetWebMedia crew,
I noticed some sort of insect larvae (looked like a small dragon fly larvae)
<Unlikely to be a dragonfly larva. But Anchor Worms are a possibility in pond fish, though extremely rare in aquaria.>
attached to the wound of my Pangasius. I tried to syphon the insect but it escaped. I don't think this is a normal parasite but in my fish's weakened state may be more vulnerable to attack.
<Indeed. But fungus and even strips of decaying tissue can be mistaken for parasites.>
The other possibility is that the insect could be beneficial, feeding on dead tissue. This is a large fish(24") and  has been recovering from a Columnaris infection(I've corresponded a few times in the last week or two in regard to the Columnaris infection).
My other problem is he is still not feeding. I've only tried floating and sinking pellets.
<Will when healthy. If unhealthy, won't want to eat, and trying to force it will mostly make things worse.>
I do have on hand a wide assortment of livebearers of all sizes, cichlid fry, red wigglers (composting worms) and  Neocaridina shrimp. I normally don't live feed any of my fish but under these circumstances I'm thinking of using these guys. I could also purchase brine shrimp. This fish is not skinny and has been living in a 2000gal outdoor pond with ample insect life (blood worms etc) and plant life,
<Ah, the plot thinnens. Do look up Anchor Worms.>
but hasn't fed in a month, to my knowledge.
<In a pond will likely have access to a variety of additional foods including insects, algae and decaying plant matter. Unlikely to starve.>
(this fish was given to me 30 days ago and broke out in Columnaris infection 24hrs  after arrival and hasn't fed since introduction). Any suggestions?
<See above.>
He  has been healing nicely in a 300gal hospital tank as side from that.
The fish seems active and the white tissue surrounding head and tip of caudal fin have disappeared. Although there are patches of red remaining,.
I've noticed if I shine a flash light he shies away, I'm hoping his vision is in intact. I've been doing 50% water changes every other day and he seems to really respond to that.
<When fish perk up after water changes, it's a good sign environmental stress/stresses are to be blame.>
Do you think I should be worried? Thanks for all the great information,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: catfish emergency   3/7/14

Thanks for the response Neale. Although the insect larvae was definitely not an anchor worm. I'll try to capture and photograph. Thanks, Brandon
<Real good. Now aware of any insects that latch onto fish as parasites, though some will of course eat (very small) fish as prey, e.g., Dragonfly larvae. There are some crustaceans and leeches though that may parasitise fish, of which Anchor Worms and Fish "Lice" (Argulus spp., for example) are the most common. Cheers, Neale.>

Iridescent shark with bleeding tail... Bonsai? Banzai!!!    11/19/13
Hi WWM Crew,
My 15 yr old

<? How small/stunted is this fish? It should be about three feet long>
 Iridescent shark's fins started getter shorter. Within the last few weeks, it's tail looked red on the inside of the fin. Now it's
very red inside, bleeding more, white spots on the fin, he swims with his tail hanging like it's too heavy.  In the last few days, the fish has been very irritable, splashing around and darting back and forth in the tank.  The fish was eating well but has started to not eat.  Water parameters are within normal range. Tanks mates are one other ID shark and a rotkeil Severum. I think it started from a water quality issue. The fish are very messy and living in a 55 gallon tank.
<... much too small>
I recently removed 2 other ID sharks
from this tank and the remaining 2 grew an extra 2 inches since. 
<... ah yes>
I try to change the tank often but being busy has me changing them less, at least once a week.  Usually I try to do it every 3 days.
<... whatever it takes to provide decent water quality. These fishes have suffered, are suffering for the ill-effects of metabolite accumulation... Living in their own filth>
I started medicating 
<Of no use... "it's" the environment>

him in a 30 gallon established tank with Maracyn and Maracyn2 thinking it was bacterial or fungal.  This combo usually works well on my sharks, but it's been a very long time since I've had to use medications of any kind.
Do you have any suggestions of what I could do further?
Regards, AL
<... see WWM re Pangasiids. Bob Fenner>

Iridescent shark with bleeding tail    /Neale, addenda, clarification, re-emphases       11/20/13
<<Hello Audra. Not a huge amount more to add to what Bob's said/suggested.
Pangasius catfish really don't do well in home aquaria, and sooner or later they seem to sicken in some way. Eye damage is very common, but fin problems like you're seeing are far from unusual. I am impressed by these fish having lived for 15 years, so obviously you must be taking good care of them at some level, but as you have seen, they will keep growing given the chance. You removed one of the fish, that reduced the "loading" on the tank, and the remaining fish, no longer stressed by an overloaded environment, grew that bit more. Now they're bigger, and between the two of them they've "filled" the tank, and once again you have an environment that's stressing the fish by being overloaded. In some ways it's a vicious circle. You may well be able to treat this round of (likely bacterial) infection using Maracyn 1 and 2, but ultimately, as Bob says, it's the environment, and it's a matter of time before their health goes bad again.
What to do? The obvious answer is to upgrade the aquarium. These fish, in all honesty, need tanks measured in (big) hundreds of gallons and realistically few people have that kind of space. Rehoming may be possible, but often zoos and public aquaria have their fill of these monster catfish and won't take them, and pet shops may feel the same way. It's a tough one to solve, and there's no silver bullet short of not buying them in the first place. Short term: medication and more frequent water changes, but long term... bigger tank or rehoming. Cheers, Neale.>>
RE: Iridescent shark with bleeding tail    /RMF     11/20/13

Hi Bob and Neale...
The fish is 14 in. long. I bought him when he was a baby, he's never been in a tank larger than a 55 gallon. I am one of many that thought they were the cutest things and allowed the pet store to sell me, not one, but four of these beautiful creatures. Two are 15 yrs old the other two are 8 yrs old and about 12-14 inches each. They use to be half the size of the older ones just 6 months ago. So to clarify, I have 2 IDs in each tank, 1 older and 1younger in each.
I would love to get them a larger tank but not doable in a 2nd floor apt with questionable floor strength.  I hope to still do this when I move.
My tanks are pretty clear but I know that this is not an indicator that all is well, although my water parameters are always good.  I recently upgraded the background to one of those 3D backgrounds. It has been a challenge to keep the tank clean though.  I am medicating to treat his tail which looks better today. The blood has burst open the wound.  So now I am hoping to heal the tail with good water quality and the recommended doses of both Maracyns. He's still not eating.
<Keep changing the water, using carbon...>
I'm doing my best to keep all of them alive and happy as long as I have them. I am educating anyone I know that is thinking of getting one on refraining from buying them.  Considering how long it's been, they are getting the best of care.  I just don't want to give them too much attention worrying and medicating them the wrong way, is all.  They are the sweetest fish I have and it's been a pleasure having them for all these years.
for your input.
Regards, AL
<And you; BobF>
RE: Iridescent shark with bleeding tail     /Neale     11/20/13

Hi Bob and Neale...
The fish is 14 in. long. I bought him when he was a baby, he's never been in a tank larger than a 55 gallon. I am one of many that thought they were the cutest things and allowed the pet store to sell me, not one, but four of these beautiful creatures.
<Oh dear... But I agree, they are lovely animals, and surprisingly peaceful for their size.>
Two are 15 yrs old the other two are 8 yrs old and about 12-14 inches each.
They use to be half the size of the older ones just 6 months ago. So to clarify, I have 2 IDs in each tank, 1 older and 1 younger in each.
I would love to get them a larger tank but not doable in a 2nd floor apt with questionable floor strength.  I hope to still do this when I move.
My tanks are pretty clear but I know that this is not an indicator that all is well, although my water parameters are always good.
<Good. But with these fish there are things you can't easily monitor that will affect health. Physical damage, for example (often the way eye damage starts) and the amount of stress they're exposed to by being unable to swim "properly" (and this weakens immunity, making Finrot more likely).>
I recently upgraded the background to one of those 3D backgrounds. It has been a challenge to keep the tank clean though.  I am medicating to treat his tail which looks better today. The blood has burst open the wound.  So now I am hoping to heal the tail with good water quality and the recommended doses of both Maracyns. He's still not eating.
<Would not worry about that too much. Concentrate on treating the Finrot.
As/when he's better, he'll eat.>
I'm doing my best to keep all of them alive and happy as long as I have them.
<I appreciate the bind you're in.>
I am educating anyone I know that is thinking of getting one on refraining from buying them.  Considering how long it's been, they are getting the best of care.
<I don't doubt. These fish were farmed for food, and presumably these youngsters were among the few that get into the aquarium trade and consequently have a chance of living a longer life than the farmed ones.
Still, it is like keeping a farm animal like a sheep as a pet. Doable, but not easy, even if it seems a nicer option for the animal itself.>
I just don't want to give them too much attention worrying and medicating them the wrong way, is all.  They are the sweetest fish I have and it's been a pleasure having them for all these years. Thanks for your input.
Regards, AL
<Welcome, Neale.>

Tank Upgrade II - Emergency, Fish Sick! - 01/10/2013 Pangasiid     1/11/13
Hi again Sabrina (or whoever else answers this email),
<Sabrina here, back from Idaho, relaxed, and ready for fish stuff!>
First of all let me thank you profusely for your advice last time - you gave me some really useful information. To answer your questions: yes I did boycott that shop,
<Neat!  If you're feeling bold enough, you might consider explaining why to the proprietor of the place.  Sometimes ignorance can be cured by a bit of a nudge from a kind and well-informed customer, and sometimes stupidity can be cured by explaining a lack of the dollars you're not spending there.>
I haven't actually bought fish since the Pangasiid was dropped into my tank!
I buy aquarium supplies from the small pet shop or the larger out of town fish stores. Thanks for explaining the pH drop - I couldn't figure it out before but what you said makes sense.
<Glad to help, Jo.>
Unfortunately despite all your good advice I'm afraid now I have a new problem on my hands, the fish are sick and I'm not sure what it is! :(
For some reason I had the bright idea to move the old smaller tank to my bedroom so that the larger tank could go in pride of place in the living room - this meant I would have to set up the larger tank temporarily, move all the fish over, empty the smaller tank, move that to its new place in the bedroom, then refill and move the fish back.
<Sounds reasonable....>
I did this with (what I thought) was minimum stress on the fish, and all was well for the next week. In this week I set up the large tank in the living room where the smaller tank had been. Then during this week I noticed a small white lump (slightly larger than a grain of salt) on the Pangasiid's tail fin. I thought it might be where the shark had caught himself on something in the tank and made a little tear in the skin or something so I did a 25% water change and then decided to wait to see what (if anything) happened. The other fish looked fine at this point, except for the Garra who started occasionally flashing (not enough to suggest ICK and the white lump on the shark's tail was not ICK like at all - it looked soft like damaged skin).
<Good observation - this is very telling.>
I didn't think anything major was wrong and I thought if something was then I'd have to wait for some solid symptoms to show up anyway before I could diagnose so I waited.
<This was the best, smartest move possible.  Even if you are unable to resolve this problem, waiting for "real" symptoms is often far less damaging than randomly medicating....  Good job on this.>
The next few days the shark's tail cleared up (the little lump disappeared) and the Garra was still flashing but rarely so I thought there was probably nothing serious wrong. All other fish were fine at this point.
<So far, so good....>
Then Thursday morning I started filling up the large tank in preparation for moving the fish over to their new home. When I had it almost ready in the afternoon I noticed the shark had grey filmy patches on his head and dorsal region (they started on the sides of his head but were soon covering his back near his dorsal fin). It didn't look cottony or filamentous - just kind of slimy or velvety.
<Good description.>
He has no cottony growths near the mouth. He was still swimming normally. I also noticed the Garra had become pale and it's sides looked patchy like there were missing scales. It was flashing more than before too. I decided to move the fish over to the larger tank and treat with salt in case it was a parasitic or Columnaris infection (I still don't know exactly what it is but I suspect Columnaris) as there are documented cases where salt has cured both of these infections and I don't have any medications (except for an "internal bacteria" treatment which is out of date and I suspect won't work on gram negative bacteria anyway) at home. 
<Salt was (is) a decent choice, without knowing for sure what you're dealing with.>
I moved the smaller fish but the shark flipped out when I tried to move him and ended up getting scratched on the container I was attempting to catch him in (he jumps out of nets - large plastic food containers are the easiest way to move him) he now has shreds of the white patch hanging off him on one side - I assume these shreds are a mixture of mucus and damaged skin?
The skin underneath is pigmented and too dark to see whether it is reddened or not. His fins had started to show a reddish tint by this point.
<Many possibilities....>
I decided to leave him in the smaller tank and treat him separately from the other fish (he's the worst affected anyway).
<Actually, I would consider treating all....  but more on that later....>
I started adding salt to his tank. I know that salt is meant to be bad for catfish but I treated him for an ICK infestation when the tank was first set up with salt + heat with no problems  (he didn't seem to even notice the salt) and anyway this study:
http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao/21/d021p171.pdf shows that concentrations of 1000 - 3000 mg/l NaCl can be used to treat gram negative bacteria Edwardsiella ictaluri in Channel Catfish.
<Salt is less harmful than many other treatment options, so I still don't think this is a bad move.>
My plants will probably suffer
<Likely will.  Tough ones, like the java ferns, may survive.>
but I suppose they can be removed and placed in a bucket or something...
I've added 6 teaspoons of sea salt (I have no aquarium salt left) in 3 hours, 1 teaspoon at a time dissolved in a couple of litres of tank water and then poured into the tank. The tank is currently half full (holding about 48 litres of water) as half of the water was moved to the larger tank this morning. Did I add the salt too fast?
<I don't think so.>
Should I change some water out with freshwater?
<Depends upon how you choose to move forward.>
His fins are now more red and started looking streaked with blood - one of his eyes is also bulging and streaked with blood - is this septicemia?
<Yikes.  Possibly.>
Or possibly reaction to the salt?
<Also possible.>
I don't want to lose this fish despite him having been foisted on me - he's the only one of my fish with a name and probably my favourite.
<And, even if he is a potential river monster, he still deserves your best efforts.  I'm glad you're trying.>
Water is at 6.0 pH,
<Be absolutely certain of this.  I mean, really absolutely certain.  Test with a new test kit of a different sort, if possible, to make sure that your test isn't old and mis-reading.  A sudden low pH will cause these symptoms, identically (as will many other things - more later....).>
ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 10ppm  (A lot of water was changed during the moves - in hindsight this along with being caught and dumped into new surroundings is probably what caused the fish stress and made them sick).
<Entirely possible.>
I lowered the tank temperature on both tanks from 24C to 23C as I read that temps over 24C will make Columnaris infections more aggressive
<Can, yes.>
and all my fish are hardy enough to tolerate the slightly lower temp. I'm not entirely sure that it IS Columnaris to be honest,
<Me neither.>
it just seems like the most likely cause of the filmy white patches -
<Most likely?  No.  But equally likely as many other possibilities.>
if you can suggest other diseases and their treatments I'd appreciate it.
More symptoms are as follows: swimming very slowly and tends to stay very near the bottom swaying side to side unless I'm near the tank (then he swims up and down the front glass but very slow). Doesn't seem to have problems 'breathing' - but I suppose that's because he can gulp atmospheric air.
He makes "coughing" motions occasionally. No interest in food at all (even food soaked in garlic oil which normally gets him to eat). Seems to have trouble maintaining balance, erratic swimming.
<All of these symptoms can be the result of many different things, including a toxin or irritant in the water, a sudden pH drop, many different protozoan parasites (Costia, Ichthyobodo, Chilodonella, Trichodina, Oodinium....), many different bacterial complaints (Columnaris, Vibrio....) or, really, anything else at all that would cause irritation and therefore increased "slime" production.  As for what to do....  That's the hardest part of all.  First, eliminate or rule out toxins and irritants in the water.  I include such concoctions as Melafix and products that claim to increase slime coat "protection" in this category.  If you are not certain whether some irritant might have been introduced, do water changes and filter vigorously with fresh activated carbon and Polyfilter if you can get it.  If you do not have access to a microscope of suitable magnification to see parasites or bacteria from a skin scrape (and/or lack experience "finding" bacteria in a skin scrape - much more difficult than finding parasites) then....  you have a frustrating decision to make.  Keep treating with salt and hope, or switch to a "real" medication and take a (perhaps dangerous) "shotgun" approach in attempt to address both protozoan parasites and bacteria.  If it were me/my fish (and I have been in this boat, with these symptoms) I would use Kanamycin sulfate and Metronidazole simultaneously, in the water and (if possible) in food.>
A few pictures are attached - sorry for the poor quality, I had to use my iPod as my digital camera is missing and I'm too tired to start looking for it now :( Hopefully you can see the bluish grey filmy patches on his sides and head?
<I do, yes.  This is from increased slime production from one of those many possibilities.>
There was a very white patch just behind the dorsal fin too but it seems to have faded somewhat after salt addition.
<Given that information, I can say I honestly do not know whether I would continue with salt or switch to Kanamycin sulfate and Metronidazole.  I do wish I could be more helpful, but this is a very difficult decision to make.  Whichever route you choose, I do not think there is a "right" option.  Also, for what it's worth, stuff like this sometimes does "just happen".  Fish carry many different neat things with them.  Even our lab fish have some neat bacteria in their gut flora.  All it takes sometimes is a stressful event to bring on troubles like this.  I don't think you've done anything wrong.>
Thanks for reading and replying!
Sorry to write another long post!
<No worries.  Thank you for being so clear in your descriptions and providing so much useful information.
<I do hope that you will see some improvement soon, whichever route you opt to take.  Best wishes to you and your finned friends,  -Sabrina>

Tank Upgrade III - Emergency, Fish Sick! - 01/12/2013
Hi Sabrina,
<Hi, Jo!  Nice to hear back from you.>
Thank you so much for your help and kind words, unfortunately he died this morning :(
<I am terribly sorry to hear this!  Poor little guy.  Try to think of the bright side, though; at least you won't have to upgrade to a swimming pool to house him.  Once this problem is passed, you might consider other, smaller catfishes since you liked him so much.  Catfishes of the genus Tatia are among my favorites, and stay quite small.>
He was lying on his back on the bottom of the tank with his body covered in a white film and skin was milky looking but there was no fuzz so definitely not a fungus.
<Fungi are actually a little uncommon as fish diseases go.>
Possible bacterial but after what you've said I'm thinking may have just been poisoning of some kind.
<Protozoan parasites are still a distinct possibility, as are some nasty bacterial issues.  Do keep watching the rest of your fish, and bear in mind that many/most fish carry around lots of interesting "stuff" that typically never becomes an issue unless/until they have some sort of stress or damage that allows the parasites or bacteria to become virulent.>
I did do a 20% water change last night but I suppose that wouldn't have been enough to remove toxins.
<A bigger water change probably won't hurt.>
I can't think where any toxins would have come from though, and why the other fish wouldn't be affected also.
<The Garra was....>
I don't think the pH suddenly dropped but my test strips are not very accurate
<Then this isn't ruled out, I think - do please test against another test of some sort, perhaps one of those shops will test for you, as well.  Bear in mind that you need a test kit that tests LOWER than 6.0, because if 6.0 is the lowest that the kit "shows", it will not allow you to know if it's equal to 6.0 or below 6.0.>
so it's possible (I've run out of the liquid drop test), I could go to the shop and buy a new test kit just to check that pH wasn't the cause.
<That or see if a shop will test for you, to ensure your strips' accuracy.>
The other fish are not showing symptoms of pH stress though (except for maybe the flashing by the Garra?).
<Yes.  Can be a symptom.>
Could a raise in pH have caused the same thing?
<If the raise is drastic enough, yes.  But going up in pH is a little easier on a fish than going down.>
I removed the bogwood when I moved the tanks around a week ago and put it in a bucket of tank water (to preserve the java ferns until I can find a new anchor for them) because when I pulled it out I noticed the bogwood was starting to look a bit melty and pieces were disintegrating off the ends.
<Just finally starting to rot, I'm sure.>
Removing the bogwood shouldn't have raised pH too quickly though surely?
Perhaps the removal of tannins allowed a disease to take hold...
I don't know what to do now - whether I should treat it as poisoning and do a water change on the large tank
<I would do this, and observe.>
or go to the shop and buy some medications in case it's disease.
<That's your call, of course.>
I still don't know what kind of disease it could have been, parasites are unlikely
<Well, not as unlikely as you might think.  As above, fish carry an awful lot of stuff around with them.  Most freshwater fish in our hobby are produced in Singapore and other places in large tanks/ponds where they most certainly can pick up any number of interesting issues.  Wild fish also bring in a lot of strange stuff.  Parasites can be harbored in the gills for the entire life of a healthy fish.  Bacteria can be on the skin, in the gut....>
as I haven't introduced any new fish and though I bought new plants a month or so ago I rinsed them in tap-water and then quarantined them for 2 weeks
<VERY good.  Many/most folks don't go to the lengths of quarantining plants.  I am very glad that you do.  I hope other readers might gain inspiration to do so....>
before putting them into the tank so all but the most resistant parasites should have died by then without a host.
<Yes, I doubt your plants brought anything after this suitable quarantine.>
I will buy a new pH test kit (a separate liquid drop kit) so I can get more accurate readings on pH anyway.
<Good idea.>
I'm worried the other fish are going to get sick next and I still don't know how to treat it... I suppose I'll just have to keep an eye on them and keep the water clean for now.
<This is what I would do.>
Thank you again, its so helpful to have experts to ask about these things.
<Well, thank you for writing in, Jo, and sharing your experience with us and our readers.>
<My best wishes to you,  -Sabrina>

ID Shark swimming upside down, lump on side by fin    9/30/12
Good Morning!
I did some research on your site, and found some stuff about the bump on my shark's side, but I'm not sure it's the same thing that we have going on here.  Thought it might be better to outline what is happening in my tank.
I have 2 Iridescent Sharks, about 5" long;
<This Pangasius catfish gets MUCH larger>

one fancy goldfish (my son HAD to have one, it was the first fish in our tank and now I can't make myself get rid of her!); one very small Pleco (the kind that looks pre-historic, sort of tan in color); and one random orange fish that came with the tank.  I originally had all these fish, minus the orange one, plus 3 ghost catfish,
<The ID cats will swallow these in time>
and one more ID shark, in a 20 gallon.
<Way too small... I'd trade out the ID cats, now>

 The sharks started growing and after researching, I found that they needed a lot more room.  My friend was getting rid of her 30 gal, so I switched to that.
<Still way too small>

  (I know it's still not big enough .I do plan to expand more). And my son took my Pleco when I switched tanks, so I introduced a brand new, teeny tiny Pleco which is the one that I currently have. He was less than an inch when I got him, he's now
about an inch and a half. After switching tanks, the 3 ghost catfish completely disappeared.

  I mean, they were just gone with no traces, no remains were ever found.  Then, one of the ID sharks got a hole in his side.
I treated the tank with Melafix,

and the hole went away.  A few weeks later, I noticed some fuzzy white stuff on the side of one of the ID sharks, so I treated with Ick Guard, a half-dose, and within days the fuzziness was gone.
One of the sharks has since died, I was out of town at the time so I didn't get to see if there was anything strange going on with him-hubby flushed him.  It's been about a month since anything strange happened. until this morning. One of the ID sharks is swimming upside down.
<Might be the medicine exposure...>
  He is struggling to flip right side up, and can't quite make it before he gives up and flips upside down again.  He also has a lump on his side, right next to his fin, that is a little bigger than his eye, and next to the lump, there is what looks like the start of a new hole but is sort of orange in color. 
<Likely "ran/swam into something"... a mechanical injury>
Ok update. I just went to the tank to take a picture of his side, and he is now dead.  Holy cow, that was fast!  I'm pretty sure he was fine last night,
I didn't notice the lump but it's possible that I missed it. anyways, I've attached a pic of the lump.  I'm concerned for my one remaining ID shark.
What treatment should I start, aside from a 25% water change?
<Nothing... I'd just measure/monitor water quality>
  I don't see anything out of the ordinary on the remaining ID shark, but I want to be proactive and see if I can save the last one. 
Tank info:  I have a 30 gal, running at around 76 degrees, TopFin filter system (the little white cartridges that you pour charcoal into).  NO gravel, just about half of the floor of the tank is covered with those decorative tank rocks that look like flat marbles.
<Not useful for biofiltration>
  I change the water about once a week (sometimes every other week - I travel a lot), doing a 15% water change and treating the new water with Tetra Aqua Safe (per label instructions) and 3 tsp canning salt per 7-1/2 gallons of water.  I've also attached a pic of the tank.
There is a green sort of fuzzy growth on the inside of the tank, not a lot as I scrub it off every time I change the water, and the Pleco really gets after it too.  I think this is a left-over problem from the prior tank owner, but I've been afraid to treat it since I've been having so many other problems in the tank.  I would have to say that the problems started when I changed tanks.  I have had these fish for a couple of years, without any issues, until I switched to the "new to me" tank.
<Likely just coincidental>
Thank you so much for your help!  Your website is wonderful!   
<Again, the issue is highly likely simply environmental... No "treatment" will remedy the blister... other than good water quality and time going by.
Bob Fenner>

Re: ID Shark swimming upside down, lump on side by fin    9/30/12
Thank you!
<Ah, welcome. BobF>

Pangasius catfish, hlth., rdg.  11/11/11
hello there, I have just today purchased a Pangasius catfish. he is around 9". My question is I have just noticed one eye is much larger than the other (the other is normal sized) do you think it is an infection?
<Mmm, not directly, but perhaps indirectly. Unilateral swellings of eyes are most often "due" to physical injury... The fish swimming into something hard... Very common behavior w/ Pangasiids... Do read here:
and the linked files above>
or could it be a defect in the fish as the LFS did not mention anything to me, as I said I only got him this morning so I know its not my aquarium that has done this. I have attached a photo of the large eye. any advice is welcome. Thanks Ysabella
<Mmm, do keep reading... these are social species; most get very large... actually, no; most die prematurely from being kept in too-small environments. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pangasius catfish hlth.    11/12/11
hi again do you think the eye can return to normal?
<Oh yes. Pangasiids are quite resilient... >
what type medicine I can put in the tank? (if anything)
<I'd use nothing... Just assure good water quality (frequent partial water changes, sufficient aeration/filtration/circulation), nutrition...>
I have a 500 litre tank but as I am now aware it will be far too small in the long run however
, I'm not going to return him to the LFS I got him from as he was in a small 75 litre tank will 4 Pacu.
thanks for your help. Ysabella.
<A pleasure. BobF>

Dinosaur Bichir 11/22/10
Dinosaur Bichir (gigantic fish crammed into 55 gallons; blind Iridescent Sharks; the usual)

Hi, I have a Dinosaur Bichir
<Polypterus senegalus, an excellent aquarium fish.>
that I got along with 2 Iridescent Sharks and two Balas and a large Pleco.
<In 55 gallons! Not a chance. Iridescent Sharks (Pangasius hypophthalmus) get to at least 75 cm/22 inches in captivity. They also grow extremely rapidly. Do please use Google and see how large these fish get. The photos will astound you! Bala Sharks (Balantiocheilos melanopterus) get to a good 30 cm/12 inches long, and require a good 55 gallons PER specimen.
As for the Common Plec (Pterygoplichthys pardalis), these get to about 45 cm/18 inches within two years and while a singleton might be crammed into 55 gallons, the result would be a murky, messy aquarium.>
They were all in a 55 gallon tank when I notice all the fish but my Dinosaur Bichir got Ick. I got the tank cleared of Ick and the next week one of the Iridescent Sharks had an eye missing.
<Unfortunately extremely common when Iridescent Sharks are kept in tanks too small for them. They bash into the glass, damage their eyes, and the result is blindness. This is so very common that it goes beyond a joke. Seriously, when I hear someone has an Iridescent Shark in captivity, I ASSUME that the poor catfish will be blind. Let me be crystal clear here -- Iridescent Sharks are NOT fish for the home aquarium. They're a food fish, with the size and growth rate you'd expect for a food fish. Anyone who buys one of these fish either [a] hasn't done any research at all or [b] has a 500 gallon aquarium in which to keep it.>
I watched the tank closely and didn't see and fish fighting however all the fish but the Dinosaur Bichir came down with a bacterial infection. Finally got the infection under control and then noticed that my Dinosaur Bichir was eating the fins of my sharks.
<Hmm actually pretty uncommon behaviour. Polypterus senegalus feed almost entirely on insect larvae and worms, and don't normally bite larger fish. They are territorial though.>
I switched the food to bloodworms hoping this would help not only with her trying to eat my other fish but with tank water clarity. I have tried for 6 months to get the tank clear and it seems like it just wont balance out.
<Of course not! You have fish for a 550 gallon tank in 55 gallons of water! Seriously, this is NEVER going to work. You need to sit down, think about what you're trying to achieve, and then take back the MANY fish you can't keep. In 55 gallons you could safely keep the Bichir, perhaps a Bristlenose Plec, and then a nice school of Silver Dollars or Australian Rainbowfish. That'd been lovely. Everyone would have swimming space, and you'd have a tank that was healthy, pretty, and easy to keep. What you're doing at the moment is just plain unworkable.>
I have live and fake plants and plenty of hiding spots. I decided that maybe the common denominator was my Dinosaur Bichir so I took her out and put her in my 40 gallon tank which I new everything was balanced and has a bushy nose Pleco in.
<Both eminently compatible species ideally suited to 40 gallons of water.>
Within 2 days my 55 gallon tank is sparkling clear however the 40 gallon is horribly cloudy. Why do my tanks do this is there something wrong with my Dinosaur Bichir ? the ph levels are spot on however the nitrate/nitrite and ammonia levels always are high in the tank with the Dinosaur Bichir.
<Overfeeding, overstocking, under-filtering likely a combination of all three.>
Is there anything that can be done about this?
Also my Dinosaur Bichir seems to prey on the injured or weaker fish even though she is eating plenty of blood worms, should I get her some feeder fish?
<Of course not. Feeder fish are possibly the worst thing you can feed predatory fish, second only to poison. Polypterus senegalus should be given a staple diet based around insect larvae and worms: earthworms are excellent, bloodworms mostly water so less nutritious though useful. Slivers of tilapia fillet and shelled cockles are also excellent and thiaminase-free. Once a week you can also offer chopped mussels or prawns, but these contain thiaminase so must be used sparingly.>
Thanks Misty
<Misty, Misty, Misty I've rolled my eyes a few times while reading this. I'm detecting lots of enthusiasm but not too much research! But don't worry, I was there once. There's an art to keeping big fish and oddballs, and that art depends upon planning. The Bala Shark and the Iridescent Sharks have to go, you have no way of keeping them. I'd lose the Plec, too. Then sit back, think about what you're trying to create. Feel free to write back if you want some tips on stocking. In the meantime, read here:
There's a nice photo of a 75-gallon tank set up for Polypterus, a school of Congo Tetras, and some other African oddballs. Lovely, isn't it! Cheers, Neale.>

Iridescent shark seizures  6/21/10
Hi There...
I searched your site, couldn't find an answer to my question. My 4 year old iridescent shark has been having seizures the last several days. At first I thought it was the lighting, so I've kept it off, no fix. The only thing I've changed in his environment lately is I started feeding his tank mates a different type of flakes. Can you tell me, is there anything I can do to help him stop having seizures? Should I go back to the old food?
Thanks in advance for your reply...
<It's unlikely to be seizures as such, and more a fright reaction. Unless your aquarium measures thousands of gallons, your aquarium is too small. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Pangasius hypophthalmus ARE NOT suitable for
home aquaria. They get to about 120 cm/4 feet long within a year or two, and they live in groups, and they migrate up and down rivers. Under home aquarium conditions they almost never adapt, and most specimens die
prematurely for one reason or another. At the very least, they end up damaging their eyes by throwing themselves into the glass walls of the tank. Stunting is common, and despite the common myth, doesn't mean the fish has "grown to the size of its tank" but instead means the fish has been chronically stressed for a long time. If yours is less than, say, 75 cm/30 inches, your catfish is stunted, and that means it is probably being kept badly. In short, you need to make sure the tank is very, very large, has an extremely strong filter [8-10 times turnover per hour] and that there are no aggressive tankmates likely to spook them. Do not EVER keep this species singly; it is just as social as a Neon tetra or Tiger barb, and will be just as stressed if kept alone. I honestly wish I could say something more helpful, but I really can't. These fish DON'T adapt to home aquaria, and usually end up damaging themselves precisely in the way you're describing. I doubt the change in food was the trigger, but possibly the tankmates are behaving differently and that's alarmed your catfish. Who knows. Without being told something about the size of the aquarium or its tankmates, I can't really say anything more detailed. I know I'm being super-negative here, but these are fish that shouldn't be in the aquarium trade, and there's really no excuse for shops to stock them or people to
buy them. Every aquarium book ever written has something like "don't buy this fish" written down under the Pangasius catfish name! Cheers, Neale.>

Saprolegnia on shark (RMF, second opinion?) <<Nada to add>> 4/26/09
Hi crew! Please help me! I am trying desperately to save my iridescent shark.
<Yes, I can see from the photos he's in a bad way. A very difficult species to maintain, and I fear the problem here is more about his environment than anything else. Iridescent Sharks are food fish, and they simply don't do well in home aquaria. While they can be kept in aquaria if you have lots of space, 55 gallons isn't enough. Moreover, they are difficult fish to mix with other species. Despite their size, they are super-nervous, and perhaps surprisingly, should be kept in schools of 3 or more specimens.>
He is 5 years old. Was staying in an established 5 year old tank, 55 gallon, with two kissing Gourami and a Pleco. Don't exactly know how he got hurt, maybe fight with Pleco that is a foot long.
<Not so much a fight, but I do wonder if [a] the Iridescent Shark bruised himself or otherwise develop a light infection; and then [b] the Plec took advantage of this and started rasping away at the infected tissue. Plecs are notorious for "latching" onto injured, moribund or otherwise slow-moving fish that are exuding blood or mucous into the water. While I'm not 100% sure, this is my guess here.>
My shark is 10 inches.
<Way too big for this aquarium. Even if the Plec exacerbated the situation, the primary cause of the wound or infection was surely some combination of water quality and/or physical damage, e.g., jumping into the hood or bumping into ornaments. Heater burns are another common cause of mortality and injury among catfish.>
The next day noticed the patch of cottony fungus, identified as Saprolegnia. I set up a10 gallon hospital tank at 80 degrees.
<Can't possibly keep this fish in 10 gallons. I'm surprised it even FITS into a 10 gallon tank!>
I treated water with 1 tsp water conditioner (Jungle Start Right with Allantoin, a skin protectant), 1 tsp of Wardley Ick Away (malachite green), 1 tsp. of Melafix and 1 tsp of Jungle Fungus Clear Tank Buddies
(Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate).
<Random medicating is usually not a good idea. Remember, while Fungus isn't especially difficult to treat, it's a secondary infection that results from poor water conditions and injury. In a case like this, you need the fish to be in optimal water conditions, and even on his own, 55 gallons would barely provide that, let along 10. You also need to treat with something very specific for severe fungal infections; I'd recommend something along the lines of Seachem KanaPlex. Melafix is useless once fungal infections are established (I'll allow it might have some preventative value) and Ick medication is clearly irrelevant.>
The only other items in the tank are the heater and an air stone. I have been feeding him Jungle Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food, but he does not seem to be eating anything.
<Don't feed him at all until he's in a tank offering optimal water conditions: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, low nitrate, pH stable around 6.5-7.5, and moderate hardness.>
I clean up the food that he does not eat each morning. His eyes are clouded over, maybe he can't find his food.
<Not a good sign; usually implies (if both eyes are cloudy) some type of secondary bacterial infection. Again, KanaPlex should help.>
He has been in this treatment for 5 days, with no improvement, seems worse.
His body is almost completely covered now.. I am sending you pictures.
When will this treatment start to help?
Or am I doing something wrong?
Please help me!
<Done my best. While I've seen fish come back from worse (they really are amazing sometimes) this does depend on optimal environmental conditions, which I fear you're not providing. Seriously, this is a fish that needs a tank twice the size of what you have, if not more, and a whopping filter with massive water turnover and plenty of supplemental aeration. Iridescent Sharks are classic riverine fish with little tolerance for stagnant water. Adults are routinely 60-70 cm long under aquarium conditions, and wild specimens twice that, weighing about the same as a family dog. Big fish.
Cheers, Neale.>

Infected plant, a casualty, and a mis-diagnosis? Mmm, mis-mix of FW lvstk., disease period    2/26/08 Good afternoon crew! Hope it's warmer where you are than here! <Was about to wish you the same!> As requested before submissions, here are my tank parameters. -30 gal tank w/ side mounted 30-60 gal waterfall filter (carbon, filter sponge, ammonia) -Nitrate 0, <Mmm, none, zip?> Nitrite 0, Hardness approx. 120-150ppm, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity between 120&180ppm, pH 7.6, Ammonia 0.2-0.3 <Not good...> -tank temp avg. 76-78F -20W tank light for plant growth & vibrant fish color -25% water changes with gravel siphoned once weekly. Here is my stock. -2 fantail goldfish. One the size of a quarter, one the size of a nickel -3 golden wonder killifish about 1 1/2 long -3 red wag Platies size of a nickel -2 white skirt tetras quarter sized -1 iridescent shark 3 inches long <... quite a mix... am sure you've heard/read re Goldfish "like" for cooler (and harder, more alkaline) water than the tetras, Killies...> -tank has been established for a very successfully with only 2 deaths (I don't believe this is overstocking and there is sufficient dwelling spots like fake coral, rocks, caves. Please correct me if I'm wrong) Here is my situation. I reluctantly & recently purchased 2 plants (a very small bunch of Anubias, and what I believe is Fanworts) <The former are very tough... depending on what the latter are... not so much> for the purpose of providing more territory & safety for my recently turned aggressive killifish (only aggressive to the 3 of each other, not the other species). I read nightmare stories of people bringing in sick plants to their aquarium & all their livestock gets wiped out, <Rare, but happens. Much more often, the plants just die> but I felt it was necessary, and could provide some positive benefit. I think the negative side may be the case with me. I noticed 4 closely clumped white spots on the rear fin of my white skirt tetra. Over the course of 2 days the spots either all disappeared, were smaller, or on a different spot of the rear fin. No other fish were experiencing this. I treated the tank for Ich because the white spots were Ich sized, have had other Ich experience, and I know how Ich works & its life cycle. I used a Methylene Blue treatment for 3 days, 25% water change per day, removed carbon, and turned water temp to 80-82F. The problem did not get better with the treatment for the tetra, and in fact my 2 fantail goldfish seemed to have suffered from treatment, one gravely. <See above... don't like too-warm water... and the ammonia... trouble> Both goldfish developed frayed edges on their rear tails like a minor case of fin rot. The little guy seemed like he was "panting", and overnight he suddenly died. My waterfall filter provides plenty of oxygen bubbles, so I don't think it was from lack of oxygen. <Mmmm> The other goldfish still has a finely frayed rear tail, and the tips curl inward now like a woman's hair with rollers. His breathing looks normal. No other fish seem to be infected or reacting problematically at this time. My question is should I be treating for a fungus or parasite treatment instead of the Ich? What am I doing wrong, please lead me down the path of success! Tim P USA <... Really... need at least two systems here. One for the goldfish, maybe with the Platies... the other for the tropicals. IF this is a parasite, it may well be a Trematode/fluke... Please see WWM re the System needs for all you list, how to treat for FW worm complaints... Bob Fenner>
Re: Infected plant, a casualty, and a mis-diagnosis?   2/27/08
Thank you Bob for the info regarding the worm complaints. Just an update on my tank situation & to add to this distress, my iridescent shark now has something completely different than I've ever dealt with. The shark also has very white frayed edges on all his fins like fin rot. <Mmm, environmental... the treatment effects... perhaps the disruption of nitrification> Also his slime coat seems to be very over active, to the point where its making his black shiny body look like a velvety grayish to the point where it could look mossy (not to the extent of cotton fungus, and doesn't look like velvet disease). His gills seem to be a bit gasp. I will treat for flukes as you recommend but I don't see any worms. <The "spots" that keep recurring, moving... are "worms"... flukes/Trematodes... See the Net, WWM re> I suppose I will treat it as a parasite, not a fungus. <See... WWM... re> Though reading the articles on this site are very informative, I'm afraid to choose a wrong diagnosis. I will isolate the Goldfish & the Platies in a different tank, however do you recommend this after treatment since they have all co- existed for more than a year together, and may share the same diseases? Again, thank you for all your help, it makes a difference. Tim P <And send along some clear, well-resolved pix if you can. Cheers, Bob Fenner
Re: Infected plant, a casualty, and a mis-diagnosis? Bob, As you've requested, here are a few photos of my iridescent shark. Notice the white slimy frayed fin edges, and he's also glazed over with the white-slimy kind of bumpy mucus which actually looks fleshy & torn-like. This isn't fungus is it? He's even has mucus hanging off his whiskers. Normally he would hang out under the rock at the bottom of the tank in the dark, but now I find him normally swimming around up top or near the top below the tank light. His swimming does not seem to look labored, and he is not breathing heavy. I treated the tank with Binox, hopefully I'm not fighting a cause that's already in the grave. Goldfish seems to not be getting any worse, maybe even better. No other fish seem to be infected at this time, with the exception of the Killie with the 1 white spot on its rear tail. The original problem tetra has no spots. Is the anti parasite medication still the course of treatment needed? Again, thanks so much. P.S. Please feel free to use these photos on your site for educational purposes. It's the least I can do for you educating me, and hopefully this can help others. New water parameters . . NO3-0 NO2-0 Chlorine-0 Hardness 150ppm Alkalinity-180ppm pH-7.8 Ammonia- .1 to .2 Thanks Tim <Hello Tim. This fish has Finrot and/or Fungus. It's in terrible shape. Both these diseases are more environmental than anything else, and the fact you have Ammonia in the aquarium clinches the deal as far as I'm concerned. Let's make this crystal clear: Pangasius sp. catfish are NOT AQUARIUM FISH. Do please see the Planet Catfish page on this species to see how big they get: http://www.planetcatfish.com/catalog/species.php?species_id=172 Never have been, and never will be, worth keeping. They just don't do well in aquaria, even if you can handle the fact they reach upwards of 1 m in length. You need lots of water movement and good water quality, since these are riverine fish. They're also schooling fish and tend to be extremely nervous when kept alone, thrashing about the tank when the lights go out or whatever. Your tank is loaded to the gunwales with rocks and such, and these are utterly incompatible with Pangasius: when the catfish swim, they bump into the rocks, get damaged, and then infection sets in. They are riverine catfish that need a tank that is basically composed of two things: [1] a huge box filled with water and [2] a massively powerful filter producing 8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. They don't want plants, rocks, seashells, bogwood... nothing! As if to underline this point some more, scientists recently established that at least one species of Pangasius (P. krempfi) actually swims out of rivers and into the sea once it grows up! Finally, you appear to be keeping a notorious fin-nipper, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi. This species is precisely the kind of fish you wouldn't combine with these nervous catfish. These characins will nip the Pangasius, damaging the fins and sending the poor animal into paroxysms of fear. So, short term: treat with a combination Finrot/Fungus medication. I have found eSHa 2000 works excellently well with catfish and other sensitive species. Daily salt water dips might also be useful, but I fear they'd be too stressful for a catfish this nervous. Long term: needs rehoming. Wrong tank, wrong tankmates. Hope this helps, Neale.>  

Please Help My Sick Iridescent Shark 1-11-2008 My Iridescent Shark was lying lifeless at the bottom of the tank this morning; I thought he was dead so I tried to move him. He began moving aggressively hitting his nose/mouth in the gravel and on the tank glass top so I could not move him. When I returned for work he was lying motionless again I tried to move him and the same thing happen. It took me three hours to get him out the tank to the hospital tank. He has busted his nose/mouth and is now not moving only breathing. Does he have a diseases, how can I treat him, will he die? <Pangasius hypophthalmus is unfortunately not an aquarium fish. These are schooling fish that reach a maximum size of 130 cm in the wild (though 60-100 cm is more typical in captivity). When kept in aquaria that are too small for them, or when kept singly, they often exhibit precisely the symptoms you describe. There's really no "fix" as such, beyond [a] getting it a couple of pals and [b] providing sufficient swimming space. Realistically, this means they need an aquarium 1000 l/250 gallons in size. Few people have this sort of tank! Long term, your fish will keep bashing its head on the glass or hood until it damages itself, and once that happens, Finrot and fungus set in the fish will die. The best case scenario is to contact your local public aquarium or zoo and see if they have space for your fish. But sadly many public aquaria are overwhelmed with these fish and can't house any more. Ultimately your fish probably doesn't have much of a future. Why, you ask, do people sell these fish -- because there are always people out there who buy these fish without researching them first. Cheers, Neale.>

Iridescent Shark Eye Problems  12/23/07 I'm glad to have found your website, but unfortunately I have not found any cases similar to that of my Iridescent shark. I live in Florida, and during the winter the temperatures of the aquarium do not drop below 20 degrees Celsius, currently the aquarium has that temperature. <Well, this is a little cool for Pangasius hypophthalmus, which is presumably what we're talking about here. Something closer to 24-25 C would be better, and would keep the immune system operating properly, reducing problems with secondary infections.> The first day that a cold front came through my area the temperatures lowered to the temperature it has now (20 degrees Celsius), this first day, though, the iridescent two sharks that I have, their skin ( I guess I could say since they seem to not have scales) seemed crack as if it were frozen, but they weren't frozen. <Not 100% sure what this is, though skin damage is entirely possible, and certainly some types of secondary infection can cause thread-like wounds on the skin, essentially blistering.> Anyways, the next day one of the sharks had one cloudy eye and the other had both of its eyes cloudy. <Extremely common with this species. Pangasius hypophthalmus is a hyperactive and nervous fish, and when alarmed thrashes about the tank. Following this, the delicate eye surfaces get damaged and infections set in. If not precisely what happened here, the result is the same: an opportunistic secondary infection that needs to be treated using an appropriate anti-Finrot/anti-Fungus treatment of your choice (though I'd counsel against "mild" treatments such as Melafix).> The shark with both cloudy eyes also had red streaks under at the base of the pelvic fins. All the fins of both fish (dorsal, caudal, pectoral, pelvic, etc.) also became torn, and are all stringy. <Definitely Finrot. Treat as above.> The worst part, I consider, is that the shark with both eyes cloudy seems to be blind and can't really find its food (flakes). <Eyesight won't cause starvation, since these catfish, like other catfish, hunt for food primarily by taste/smell. So if healthy, they will find suitable food easily enough. But given they are sick, not treating the infection will lead to more serious problems, and ultimately death.> As for the aquarium, I maintain it very clean and the treatments I use are Aqua Safe (neutralizer), algae destroyer weekly, and Easy Balance weekly (chemical balancer). I clean the aquarium yearly, with 25 to 50 % water changes every two or 1 and a half months and monthly filter clean/change as well. <Hmm... for these fish I suspect your water maintenance regime is inadequate. 50% water changes WEEKLY would be the minimum. These are riverine fish that grow to over 1.3 meters in length (over 4 feet) and produce enormous amounts of waste. In fact, I'd consider them utterly inappropriate for home aquaria. That said, lots of people keep them and enjoy them, and maximum size in aquaria tends to be around the 30 cm/12" mark, which isn't too bad. But it is an inescapable fact that most Pangasius hypophthalmus end up deformed, scarred, or dead from secondary infections due to maintenance in too-small an aquarium. They do need big tanks with minimum decoration (danger or scratches) but plenty of floating plants to give a sense of security.> The Aquarium is well-oxygenated and I feed them daily. Currently, the heater is on and it maintains a stable temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. I also vacuum the gravel monthly with the siphon. <Warmer water will be essential to proper immune response; but you will also have to add some sort of antibacterial (e.g., eSHa 2000) or antibiotic (e.g., Maracyn II).> I really hope you can help me in determining the disease of my iridescent shark, and informing me of any possible way to treat it. If you need any further explanation, pictures, videos, or description e-mail as soon as you can, this is very urgent and I've had these fish over seven years and I would greatly appreciate your help. Thank you for your time. <Hope this has helped, Neale.>

Iridescent shark 7/21/07 hello, I have two iridescent sharks in my aquarium I had to empty my tank and clean it out. I got it second hand and I guess I should have taken the rocks out and replaced them first. I transferred the fish into a temporary tank, well to tell the truth it was an ice cream pail. but when I returned them to the aquarium they were both very red (as I am sure you know these are silvery and black normally). one of them instantly began to swim and carry on like normal and he got his color back in no time at all ,however the second one just stays laying at the bottom and swims around lazily along the floor he has not turned back to his normal color. did I shock them in the move and will he pull out of this? all the other fish in the aquarium have also resumed their own happy fishy lives. <Greetings. I hope that you work at a public aquarium or have a gigantic aquarium in your basement. Iridescent sharks -- Pangasius hypophthalmus -- are possibly the worst aquarium fish in the trade. In fact, practically all fishkeeping writers and experts consider them totally unsuitable for home aquaria. Here's why: maximum size is 1.3 m (over 4 feet). They are schooling fish. They grow extremely fast. They are extremely nervous and often damage themselves by swimming into things when alarmed. You have discovered this. As they mature, they will become more and more nervous as they feel confined. Yes, their colours will return once they recover from their state of alarm, but once frightened again, you'll have to go through the whole process again. Almost no useful information is provided by retailers when these fish are sold. In terms of basic care they are herbivores, and need lots of green foods. They live in huge river systems, and so expect a strong water current and lots of swimming space. Minimum aquarium size is something like 4000 litres/1000 gallons. Remember, these things can get to the size of small dolphins! To be fair, most specimens seem to stop growing around the 60 cm/2 foot mark, but even then, given their activity level and the fact they need to be in a school of 6 or more specimens, you still need a simply ginormous aquarium to keep them properly. It is really a food fish and widely farmed, and unfortunately a few specimens seem to find their way into the aquarium trade. Any retailer stocking these fish and not telling you what they turn into is being grossly irresponsible, in my opinion. On the plus side, they're not fussy about water chemistry and are harmless towards fish too big to eat. They also taste very good. Cheers, Neale>

ID shark woe I have been doing some reading and it seems I should not have an id shark in a 33 gal tank. He is about 7 inches and I love him but should I give him away to someone with a larger tank? boo hoo? If I give him back to the fish store won't they just sell him to the next ill-informed hobbyist?  <I would move this fish... to a larger system... it will be "unhappy", too likely to jump out, harm itself dashing into the side of your 33> They told me my tank was fine when I suggested it may be too small. I think he may also have fin rot. What should I do about that? Melafix or Maracyn II. <Best to move it to a larger, clean system... allow it to self-heal, quick!> Anywho if you could set me up with a good list for a freshwater community tank which already houses 1 Pleco, some java fern and some corkscrew Val I would greatly appreciate it as the local fish store people seem to know squat ( they also told me 6 comets would be fine with my id shark, a school of neon tetra and two black Kuhlis in a 33 gal tank). <What? Goldfish in with tropicals? No... do take a look through the survey articles on freshwater posted on WetWebMedia.com> It is frustrating when the people I turn to give bad advice. You are now my knight in shining armor. <Not too shiny> I e-mailed you yesterday with some info if you recall but will do so again. 33 gal tank DynaFlo 3 filter 3 way cartridge filter temp mid 70's <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

INFECTED IRIDESCENT SHARK I have an Iridescent Shark that is 3 to 4 inches long. Last week a "bubble" appeared on his side. It really looked more like a blister. When I came home from work, it had "popped" and now he has a hole in his side. This doesn't look like any of the ulcerative type pictures on your site, it is literally a hole. I watched him, and noticed a small bit of air inside the hole that slowly gets larger until a line of bubbles comes from his side. He isn't acting different, but surely this isn't normal. I can get some pictures. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, Audra < You shark has a bacterial infection that sounds like it needs to be treated. Make sure the tank is clean by doing a 30% water change and vacuum the gravel. Clean the filter too. Check the water. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Treat the tank with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the box. It may affect the good bacteria that break down the fish waste so check for ammonia spikes. You may need to add Bio-Spira after treating to establish the good bacteria back in your tank.-Chuck>

A black iridescent shark question I have a black iridescent shark approximately 6 inches long. I noticed yesterday that it looked like he had a festering sore right behind his left-sided fin; now today it looks like an actual hole. I called the local pet store, but they weren't sure and would do some checking - any ideas what it is and what to do for it???  I did a water check and everything is right on where it should be.  He's in a 55-gal tank with another iridescent black shark, platys, Dragonfish, Dojos, clown loaches, and has been since May of this year.  Thanks in advance. <Hi Cheryl, Can you give us the actual readings on your water? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. Also, what is your water change schedule? Your sharks problem may have to do with high nitrates. That's a lot of "soon to be large" fish in a 55 gallon. As adults the sharks will reach over four feet! You'll need to plan for there long term care. The clown loaches will hit eight inches or more. With this many growing fish it's common to have your nitrates spike quickly. Long term high nitrates can cause skin problems.   Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "Dragonfish", common names being what they are. Do you have a link to a picture? Don>

Iridescent shark We have an iridescent shark that has out grown our 55 gallon tank. It was 3-4 inches long when we got it, and is now 14-15 inches long.  It kept running into the sides and was not able to turn around with out getting skittish.  Had made several jumps to the top and scraped chunks out of the skin.  One night it actually jumped out of the tank onto the floor.   We bought a 125 and that was very hard on the shark to move it.  The fins got caught in the net, but everything has healed.  
<<Better by far to "scoop out" such fishes w/ large (doubled) plastic bags... you can get used from a fish store or use thick trash bags... Do dump out most of the water before lifting! RMF>>
Our problem is, since we have moved the shark, it has not eaten.  It has been about a month now.  We have fed tetra flake food, sinking pellet food, which is what it ate all of the time, krill, Tubifex worms.  Temp is about 75, changed the water last night and the nitrate was a little high, but still not eating.  Have platys and Cory cats, which was in the other tank with it also. Any suggestions  -  HELP  we have put a lot of money and effort into this shark and do not want anything to happen to it. < Try raising the water temp to 80 degrees F. They come from fast moving waters so make sure the filter is adequate for the tank and pumping at least 400 gallons per hour. Make sure that the water has zero ammonia and nitrites and that the nitrates stay below 25 ppm. I think I would add an airstone to increase the aeration of the water too. Try keeping the light off for awhile and let him get use to the new tank. You fish may have sustained some internal injuries during the move. If the above suggestions don't improve things in about a week then I would recommend treating the tank with Metronidazole. This will be expensive in a big tank but I don't think I would risk moving him again.-Chuck> Thanks SSimpson

Burned ID Sharks No one seems to be able to help me answer my question. I have two small ID sharks in a 10 gallon tank. They have both had Ich before but it is long gone. In the past week I noticed red marks on the back side of them. They are starting to go away, but now my one shark is covered on one side and all along his tummy and underside with clear bubbles, that almost look like boils?! He is still active and is still eating but I am concerned with how quickly it spread and that my other shark might get it. What is it, how do I get rid of it, and will my sharks die? <Sounds like either the medicine itself burned the fish or that it killed off your biofilter... I would add a teaspoon of salt to the water, test for ammonia and nitrite and be careful about not over-feeding till it recycles. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Burned ID Sharks
Well, now the shark still has the boils but they have filled up with blood. There are no red marks left. Just the boils that are now full of blood? Any idea what the boils are or how to get rid of them. One is right in his gill and worries me?! <Mmm, sorry for the delayed reply (have been on a liveaboard out of the country)... only time and improved, steady water quality, decent nutrition will show if your minnow sharks will recover. Bob Fenner>

INFECTED IRIDESCENT SHARK I have an Iridescent Shark that is 3 to 4 inches long. Last week a "bubble" appeared on his side. It really looked more like a blister. When I came home from work, it had "popped" and now he has a hole in his side. This doesn't look like any of the ulcerative type pictures on your site, it is literally a hole. I watched him, and noticed a small bit of air inside the hole that slowly gets larger until a line of bubbles comes from his side. He isn't acting different, but surely this isn't normal. I can get some pictures. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, Audra < You shark has a bacterial infection that sounds like it needs to be treated. Make sure the tank is clean by doing a 30% water change and vacuum the gravel. Clean the filter too. Check the water. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Treat the tank with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the box. It may affect the good bacteria that break down the fish waste so check for ammonia spikes. You may need to add Bio-Spira after treating to establish the good bacteria back in your tank.-Chuck>

FW minnow shark disease Hello- I need a little help here. We have a 75 gallon freshwater tank. We have had what I think is an ongoing problem of some sort of disease. I have already had 2 Iridescent Sharks die. They begin to stop eating get really skinny and then just swimming all weird. Top of the tank bottom and middle. I'm a little confused I just don't see why its only the Iridescent Sharks, no one else seems to be showing any signs of disease. The first 2 died within a few days of each other,  now it has been about 3 weeks since we have had any problem and now we have it starting all over again. The tank includes 2 Bala sharks, 1 gold shark, 1 silver shark, 1 cigar shark, 2 glass cats, 1 ghost knife, 1 coolie loach, and 2 iridescent. We are running a Aqua Clear 500 and a Aqua tech 20-40. plus 2 Aqua clear 4000 power heads, for under gravel filtration. The tank has been running since June 25th of this year. When we set up the tank we started it with A miracle and a 700 gph pump (little giant). In about September we noticed a crack in the sump and immediately replaced it with the filtration that is on it now. About 3 weeks the filter crashed we first noticed the first iridescent swimming disoriented, and then he stopped eating, then died, The 2nd one followed shortly there after. We suspect the tank recycled causing stress to induce these deaths. It has now been about a month and we seem to be having the same problem again with another iridescent only this time there seems to be damage and some sort of spot on the top fin. If there is anything you can do to help or maybe give us an idea of what this might be please contact me by e-mail. < First of all we need to evaluate the overall health of the tank. For that you need to get some testing done. Measure the ammonia and nitrites. They should be zero all the time. Any readings mean that the nitrogenous wastes are not being completely being broken down by the bacteria and you will need to address that. Secondly is get a reading on the total nitrates . They should be less than 25 ppm but some fish may not be able to handle even that high of a reading and you iridescent sharks may fall into that category. They may not die out right but instead succumb to diseases for which they never recover from. The nitrates can be reduced by servicing the filter regularly and by doing weekly water changes. The amount of water is determined by the fish and how they are being kept. For general purposes we usually recommend about 25% per week.-Chuck> Jamie Iridescent Shark Question I have had my Iridescent shark about 2 months.  He recently got a infection (tail and fin rot) and I treated the tank and I think I have got rid of the parasite; overall, his appearance looks good, but he is acting depressed.  My fish will not eat, or hardly even move.  I even got him some other fish friends and he won't do anything.  The new fish are not acting the same as him.  Does he still have a parasite?  I use a water neutralizer and stress coat because he is such a nervous fish. < Try a 30% water change and service the filter. Check the water temp. and make sure it is around 80 F. Try some live or frozen food to get him interested in feeding again.-Chuck>

Iridescent Shark Patchy  I have an iridescent shark and approximately one week ago, he developed a white raised pimple-like bump surrounded by a small white patch on his right side just below his head. I have seen Ich before and this does not look like it. He is the only fish in the tank at this time. Over the past few days, the bump seems to have gone down slightly but the white patch underneath seems to be getter larger. He does not seem as active as he usually is. Any ideas on what this could be; could he have injured himself somehow? Any help would be appreciated. R. MoDavis  <<Dear R; It's hard to say. First I will ask you to test your water, this is always the first step when problems arise. Make sure ammonia and nitrites are zero, and nitrates are low, say 20 to 60ppm, give or take. Next, temperature must be stable, around 78F is fine. How big is the shark, and how big is the tank? How often do you do water changes? Why is he the only fish in there? Curing the problem could be as simple as adding some Melafix. But if other fish have died in that tank recently due to water quality problems, Ich, or bacterial infections, you will need to do some work to save this shark. Let me know. -Gwen>>

Salinity & Fuzzy Skinned Sharks Hello and thank you in advance.   <Good morning!> In February I purchased a 35 gallon hex freshwater tank. It is populated with the following:  3 tiger barbs, 2 rosy barbs, 2 Gouramis, 2 iridescent shark catfish, 1 Pleco, and 1 glass fish (the other 3 died yesterday and today).  All fish except for the glass fish are 'original' members.  When setting up my tank, I was told 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon but on your site I read that it should be 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons. Which is correct?  I also have a salt hydrometer, what is an acceptable salinity level for a freshwater tank? <It should be one Tbsp per 5 gallons or even less. 1 per gallon is way too salty!> In addition, last week (prior to introducing the 4 glass fish) I noticed that the 'sharks' looked fuzzy and it has gotten worse.   <You added new fish when the current ones were looking ill? Never a good idea my friend.> Last night I ran to Petco and read about different diseases and determined that the 'sharks' have a fungus.  I treated the tank last night with fungus medicine.  I don't remember the name but I had to open up the capsules and release the contents into the tank, turning the water green.  I am suppose to wait 48 hours and repeat the medicine then wait another 48 hours and put the carbon back in and change 25% of the water.  Prior to putting in the medicine, I removed the carbon as directed.  Within a few hours of medicating the fish, 2 of the glass fish died and another this afternoon.  They (glass fish) have only been in the tank since Saturday, could they have been ill prior to putting in my tank or could the medicine kill them? <The Glass Fish probably died from medication overdose. Fish that have small or no scales are extremely sensitive to medication and should only be given half doses.> How deadly is a fungus and why aren't the other fish affected?  Any help you can give would be appreciated, my daughter is distraught that her fish are dying and I don't think the 'sharks' are going to make it. <The deadliness will depend on exactly what it is. Check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm to see if you can find out exactly what it is and treat accordingly.> FYI, I have a Fluval 300 and keep the temp around 78 degrees.  Every 3 weeks I change approximately 6-10 gallons.  I check the PH level every other day and keep the tank at 7.0 (neutral).  What am I doing wrong if I even am? <This all sounds good. Ronni> Jennifer
Re: Salinity & Fuzzy Skinned Sharks
Ronni: <Hi Jennifer> Well, I no longer have the fungus in my tank and my shark's body has cleared up BUT we now have another issue.  The tiger barbs and Gouramis are now picking on the shark b/c he is on his own.  He now has some missing scales and I am afraid of infection setting in causing his demise.  Unfortunately, I am unable to remove him into a separate tank.  He has been hiding under an archway to protect his back and he is eating well.  Would a salt dip help? If so, what should be the water/salt ratio? Thanks in advance. Jennifer <A salt dip may help heal his wounds but he's still going to get picked on which will cause more wounds. You really need to isolate him, provide more cover and more shark-mates, or get rid of him. Ronni>
Re: Salinity & Fuzzy Skinned Sharks
Ronni: The link you gave me I had already checked and the fungus symptoms are exactly what the sharks have.  Unfortunately, we lost a shark this morning and I expect the other shark to expire before evening unless I am extremely lucky.   <I'm sorry> I noticed this morning that my 2 rosy barbs have one eye that is puffy (with the sharks that was the last thing to be affected).  Should I continue the medicine for the remaining fish to eliminate this disease???? <The best thing to do is isolate the fish that are showing symptoms into a separate quarantine tank and medicate them in there. If that isn't possible, treat your main tank with a half dose of the medication.> <You're welcome! Ronni>

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