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FAQs on Bala or Tri-Colored Shark Disease/Health

Related Articles: Freshwater Minnow SharksBala or Tri-Colored Sharks, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,

Related FAQs:  Bala Sharks, FW Shark Disease, Bala Shark Identification, Bala Shark Behavior, Bala Shark Compatibility, Bala Shark Selection, Bala Shark Systems, Bala Shark Feeding, Bala Shark Reproduction, Minnow Sharks 1, Minnow Sharks 2, FW Shark Identification, FW Shark Behavior, FW Shark Compatibility, FW Shark Selection, FW Shark Systems, FW Shark Feeding, FW Shark Reproduction, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,

Sick Bala shark... env., mis-stkg.     10/7/13
Good evening,
So I have a year old Bala shark who is about 6" in a 60 gallon tank. I have a foot long dragon goby,
<This is a brackish water fish; is this aquarium brackish? Bala Sharks don't like brackish water, so this could be a problem (though trivial, non-brackish doses of salt, 1-2 gram/litre, have been reported as beneficial in some situations). If the fish is "jumpy", it may be trying to jump out of the brackish water. Conversely, if this is a freshwater aquarium, then the Dragon Goby needs a new home (assuming you mean a Gobioides species, and at 12 inches for a goby, you surely do).>
3 hatchet fish, a snail and a 3"alge eater with him. He likes to rub his eyes on the front of the tank and they would turn blood red and become swollen.
<"Likes to rub his eyes on the front of the tank" is perhaps misleading.
These fish need a big, spacious aquarium -- yours simply feels trapped.
After a year he should be something like 12-15 cm/5-6 inches in length.>
So I would put in slime coat and the swelling and redness would go away. I did this for about 2 months every time his eyes got bad.
<Yes. This happens when the problem is opportunistic. Put another way, the environment is causing the problem to occur and reoccur. Each time you medicate, the fish gets better, but bacteria in the water will simply make the fish sick again if the fish is damaged and/or stressed.>
Now he has a white swollen band on the top of his pupil and a few medium sized white bumps on his nose.
<White lumps are dead skin. A common sign when fish are physically damaged.
I bet this chap is bumping to the walls of the tank or the hood, perhaps at night.>
None of the other fish look like him and are all very healthy. I checked my levels and its all good.
<What do you mean by "good" levels? Can't be;
either the tank is brackish (for the Goby) or freshwater, preferably soft/acid for the Bala Shark.
There's no happy medium. It's either "good" for one fish or "good" for the other -- not both -- and if good for one, it's bad for the other.>
I've done water changes and nothing has changed. I have researched this and it doesn't look like Ich. I don't want to lose him and don't know what else to do. Would you be able to give me some helpful information?
<Yes indeed. Start here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bala_sharks.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i3/Dragon_Gobies/DragonGobiesart.
htm
There are various links to pages on disease and housing. In the case of the Bala Shark, I can't see this schooling (not happy on its own) species being maintainable in anything smaller than 100 gallons.>
Thank you,
Alex
<You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Bala shark     10/10/13

Okay, that confirmed everything that I suspected. Would you happen to know of anyone with a tank big enough for me to give him to?
<I can only speak for the UK, where I live: the chain of aquarium shops called Maidenhead Aquatics has a good policy of accepting big fish and rehoming them, even if they didn't sell that fish. Since there are branches almost everywhere in England, this can be very useful. Otherwise, a good approach is to find your local aquarium society -- most big cities have them. In the US, the back pages of TFH Magazine used to have a listing, and may still do. Otherwise use Google or whatever to find the aquarium club local to you.>
Everyone I know either doesn't have a tank or has a salt water tank. Also, I've had my Goby for over a year and have never put him in Brackish water, however, would adding the non-brackish salt you were talking about earlier be beneficial to my entire tank?
<At trivial doses, 1-2 gram/litre (about a teaspoon per US gallon) you won't stress fish or plants, but you won't help the brackish water goby either.>
I've never had any issues with him but the only other fish that I've has problems with, besides my Bala, is my Black Ghost Knife Fish who was a little more aggressive that I originally thought he was to be.
<Ah yes, not uncommon. Black Ghost Knifefish are territorial fish, especially towards other species with similar needs for caves. They do work well with midwater schooling fish though, particularly ones too big to be viewed as food but too small to be pushy in themselves. Congo Tetras for example make excellent companions.>
I give him plenty of hiding spots and dark areas and tunnels to hide in, but he just insists to pick on my goby for his hiding spot.
<Yes. The Violet/Dragon Goby also has a strong need for a burrow; in the wild they live in estuary mudflats and dig burrows where they hide when the tide goes out. Adding more burrows and caves might help, but you'd want to make sure the two fish couldn't see each other. Problem is that the Knifefish has an electric sense, so may well "see" other fish even with objects like plants or bogwood roots in the way.>
I have him in a separate tank now but I would rather have him in the 60 gallon.
<Understandable. Black Ghosts get pretty big (potentially well over 45 cm/18 inches) and you'd be hard pressed keeping one in less than 100 gallons. This is one reason you see so few *adult* Black Ghosts in the hobby -- they rarely get the chance to live long enough to reach full size.>
Thank you,
Alex
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Bala Shark pale and patchy     9/29/13
Hi There, about 2 years ago I inherited two tanks, one of them, only 100 Litres 2ft long, had two Bala sharks in it.
<Nice fish, but not a nice aquarium for them!>
I did some reading up on the fish I inherited I quickly realised this was far too small, so I had a 7' by 2' by 2.5' tank made up and moved them in with three other balas (and two breeding Bristlenose pleccys, a shoal of Guppies, some Amano shrimp, some zebra snails with plants and bogwood).
<Right. Well, the Guppies and shrimps may end up as dinner. But apart from that, sounds good.>
The largest of the original two, now about 10-13cm, is very skittish, and recently has become pale, he's almost white compared to the other 4 and around his head and eyes looks patchy. Water quality has been Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10-40 (depending on where in the water change cycle),  pH 7.4, temp 25C constantly throughout the last year. He still swims well and his behaviour isn't noticeably different just the colour which is closer to a silver dollar or iridescent shark than the other balas.
Anything I can do or is it just a colour variation?
<Hard to say. Randomly medicating the larger shark-minnows isn't a good idea, so initially at least I'd observe this fish but otherwise leave things be. Water quality sounds good, and providing water chemistry is stable, they don't really mind whether the water is soft or moderately hard. Typically sudden colour changes in fish are to do with mood and stress levels, so observe how the other fish interacts with it. Is there too much overhead lighting? Switch the lights off for a day and see what happens. Floating plants can provide a quick fix. Are the fish schooling or chasing one another? If one is dominant, the weaker one may become pale.
Are any other fish annoying it, perhaps nipping at its fins? Is the filter circulating the water properly and at all levels? If not, the fish may feel uncomfortable. Basically, look for things that might be stressing this fish, and then act accordingly. Start by reading, here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bala_sharks.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

Bala Shark Question - 5/9/2012
We have a 55 gallon tank with four Bala sharks.
WWM: Too small.
We have had two for about a year, and recently introduced two more about a month ago. We only have Bala sharks now. We have had bad luck with neon tetras in the past - I always assumed that we lost them because of high ph, but now I'm not so sureā€¦
WWM: Indeed.
The two big balas look ratty (but not as extreme as fin rot pictures I've seen on the internet), but one of the older balas is looking *really *bad - red dorsal fin
WWM: Finrot; treat thus, using a good antibiotic or antibacterial (not salt, not tea-tree oil!)
and swimming upside down - he is still alive, but not for much longer. :(
WWM: Quite so.
Our water quality is fine according to our tests - ammonia, nitrites, nitrates are all normal, and we just treated for chloramines again. The ph level is naturally high - it's a high 7, maybe even an 8.
WWM: There's a world of difference between pH 7 and 8! The scale is logarithmic, so with each whole number step (7 to 8, 8 to 9) there's actually a 10-fold difference.
From my impressive Googling skills, I've narrowed it down to septicaemia, fin rot, or Ich. Water changes have been done, salt has been added,
WWM: Why did you add salt?
but I don't really know how to further treat the situation because I don't know what is causing this.
WWM: Environmental conditions, almost certainly. Apart from the tank, which is too small for Bala Sharks above 10 cm/4 inches, they do need 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Water chemistry should be stable. Doesn't matter too much, though soft, slightly acidic water is best. Aim for 2-15 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5. Whatever values you aim for, keep them steady. Weekly 20-25% water changes should be enough to keep water chemistry stable, but if not, do more regular water changes if needs be, maybe 10-20% every 3-4 days. Bala Sharks are quite shy and nervous, and shouldn't be kept with aggressive or nippy fish.
Any idea on what this could be and the next steps we should do to protect the fish that are left?
WWM: Read. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bala_sharks.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm  http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwmaint.htm These should get you started.
Thanks,
Vanessa
WWM: Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.

Sick Bala Shark  /Neale    10/19/11
I have two Bala Sharks and two Danios in my tank, one Bala is not looking good. At first I thought that maybe the other shark (who is larger and has his moments of being aggressive) was biting him because it looked like he was missing a few scales on his side, than his fin on that same side looked injured he was not using it and it was red where it joins his body. The scales were starting to look better but now they appear almost bubbled up on his one side (does not look like Dropsy) and now all of his fins are turning red as well. I've been searching on line and all I can find that is close is Hemorrhagic Septicemia but it doesn't really match all his symptoms. If you could please help me before I loose him or it spreads to the others I'd really appreciate it! Thank You!
<This does sound like Finrot. Do medicate promptly, and be sure to remove carbon from the filter (if used) while medicating. Don't use a mild medication like Melafix but something antibiotic, such as Maracyn TC or Seachem Kanaplex. Bala Sharks are easily damaged in small tanks because they are jumpy and easily scared. Two Danios will likely be fin-nipping Danios too, and should really be in a group of at least six specimens. Do read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bala_sharks.htm
Cheers, Neale.>
Sick Bala Shark... no data of use, or reading ahead of writing  /RMF     10/19/11

I have two Bala Sharks and two Danios in my tank,
<How large is this system? You know how large the former minnows get? They need at least a four foot long tank>
one Bala is not looking good. At first I thought that maybe the other shark (who is larger and has his moments of being aggressive) was biting him because it looked like he was missing a few scales on his side, than his fin on that same side looked injured he was not using it and it was red where it joins his body. The scales were starting to look better but now they appear almost bubbled up on his one side (does not look like Dropsy) and now all of his fins are turning red as well. I've been searching on line and all I can find that is close is Hemorrhagic Septicemia but it doesn't really match all his symptoms. If you could please help me before I loose him or it spreads to the others I'd really appreciate it! Thank You!
<.... need more/useful information. This situation reads as insufficiencies in the environment. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bala_sharks.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Bala Shark curved spine... twenty some gal. sys., other mis-stocking prob.s   7/16/11
We have a 98ltr tank, stocked with 2 Bala sharks,
<Much too small for this minnow shark. Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/balasysfaqs.htm
4 ruby black barbs, 2 chequered barbs, 2 male mollies (Had a population explosion so separated females and babies!), 2 newly introduced plecs
<Which species? Please see WWM re. Some of these get VERY large indeed>
and 1 male crown fin Japanese fighting fish.
<Hopefully NOT Betta splendens here... Can't/won't live with the barbs long or well>
About 6 hours ago we noticed one of the sharks seemed to have a curved spine. The other one appears to be fine. Neither seem to have the tendency to bang or jump. All PH and nitrite tests seem to be normal/zero. Our supplier of fish is very good, so we have no fears of water contamination. All the other fish appear happy and normal. Any ideas?
Do we need to segregate the Bala?
Thanks Joe
<... Don't know re the relationship (if any) twixt the size/volume of this system and the bent spines, but the Balas and Betta need to be elsewhere.
Bob Fenner>

Bala shark dislocated jaw (RMF, you're the Balantiocheilos expert around here...)<Mmmm?> 02/12/10
Greetings crew!
<Hello,>
Love the information on the website, and am truly grateful there are people out there selfless enough to keep things like this running!
<Kind of you to say so.>
So, my question/issue-
I have two 7" Bala Sharks, they have been living in a 225 Gallon for about a year now, and recently upon feeding them they began the Bala shark dominance slapping, where the line up next to each other, open there mouths, and slap each other over and over. Pretty amusing to watch. Until yesterday when I noticed one of the Balas could not close his mouth.
<Oh.>
It is stuck extended out as far as it will go, and he can't eat. Looking close it is skewed a bit to one side, almost like he ran into something while it was open, but upon closer inspection, he also has a red abrasion in his throat. Guessing that he either attempted to eat a rock and dislocated it, or in one of the slapping contests, ran into something while his mouth was open.
<Unlikely to because of something he ate, to be honest. Usually this type of thing occurs after a collision with something solid (e.g., the hood) or else through fighting.>
The inside does look a tad swollen on one side, but as it stands he can not eat at all. He tries but the food just rolls back out of his mouth. Suppose that's the downside of a down turned mouth.
<Yes.>
I have read reports of this occurring on Bala sharks and Cichlids alike, as well as several saltwater fish, and very few reports of recovery in the freshwater camp, all of the reported recoveries being with the Cichlids after massaging or resetting the jaw.
<Indeed. The bones in the mouths of bony fish are very delicate and easily damaged. "Clicking" them back into place is do-able, but requires care, and is really only viable with big fish.>
Is there anything I could possibly do for him at this point, aside from remove as much stress as possible?
<It's unlikely to get better by itself, unless there's a swelling that's forcing the mouth open. Difficult to tell by looking, but sometimes the bones are dislocated, and sometimes the jaw is infected, and that's forcing the bones apart.>
And secondly, it really pains me to ask this, but how long should I wait before I euthanize?
<I'd wait a week to see if the swelling goes down, and if it does, you might be fine. If the fish can't eat, and there's no sign of improvement, then yes, painless destruction of the animal is appropriate; do see WWM re:
euthanasia for the correct methods.>
I don't want him starving to death, and force-feeding a Bala shark for the next 10 years is not really something I am willing to commit to.
<Indeed.>
Thank you for any help you can provide!
Anthony
(if need be I can provide better pictures, for using as a reference even if you wish, as this seems to not be very well documented)
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Bala shark dislocated jaw 02/12/10
Greetings crew!
<Hello Anthony!>
Love the information on the website, and am truly grateful there are people out there selfless enough to keep things like this running!
<Welcome>
So, my question/issue-
I have two 7" Bala Sharks, they have been living in a 225 Gallon for about a year now, and recently upon feeding them they began the Bala shark dominance slapping, where the line up next to each other, open there mouths, and
slap each other over and over. Pretty amusing to watch. Until yesterday when I noticed one of the Balas could not close his mouth. It is stuck extended out as far as it will go, and he can't eat.
<I see this in your pic>
Looking close it is skewed a bit to one side, almost like he ran into something while it was open, but upon closer inspection, he also has a red abrasion in his throat. Guessing that he either attempted to eat a rock and dislocated it, or in one of the slapping contests, ran into something while his mouth was open.
<Or "jumped" but hard up to something out the water>
The inside does look a tad swollen on one side, but as it stands he can not eat at all.
He tries but the food just rolls back out of his mouth. Suppose that's the downside of a down turned mouth.
I have read reports of this occurring on Bala sharks and Cichlids alike, as well as several saltwater fish, and very few reports of recovery in the freshwater camp, all of the reported recoveries being with the Cichlids after massaging or resetting the jaw.
<Mmm, yes>
Is there anything I could possibly do for him at this point, aside from remove as much stress as possible? And secondly, it really pains me to ask this, but how long should I wait before I euthanize?
<This fish looks to be in good, robust health otherwise... I'd consider the "massaging" possibility, but otherwise not give up the hope for some spontaneous recovery here>
I don't want him starving to death, and force-feeding a Bala shark for the next 10 years is not really something I am willing to commit to.
Thank you for any help you can provide!
Anthony
(if need be I can provide better pictures, for using as a reference even if you wish, as this seems to not be very well documented)
<Thank you. Bob Fenner> 

Bala shark, hlth. (RMF, second opinion?)<Matches yours>  11/1/09
I'm hoping that you are able to help us.
<I'll certainly try.>
We came home tonight to our Bala shark extremely bloated and hanging upside down at the top of the tank struggling to swim/breathe.
<Yikes. Do check water quality and chemistry. Do read here about their general needs:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bala_sharks.htm
Too often these big, sociable fish are kept singly and in tanks too small for them. The results are usually bad.>
his belly is bloated and has a pinkish tint underneath all the way to the tail and his eyes are puffing outward as well. he is not able to turn right side up.
<Bala Sharks are prone to bacterial haemorrhagic septicaemia, typically caused by Aeromonas bacteria. These bacteria tend to be latent in all tanks, but only become dangerous when conditions (water chemistry, water quality, diet, social stress) suppress the immune systems of the fish. Bala Sharks are sensitive animals, and overstocked, under-filtered aquaria cause them problems. Because they're big fish that need to be kept in groups of three or more, the sad reality is than 9 times out of 10, people aren't keeping them right.>
All of our levels are where they should be and he has not shown any signs of not feeling well.
<Let's clarify the "levels" bit because there's some misunderstanding here. You must have 0 levels of ammonia and nitrite; there's no such thing as a "safe, low" level whatever the test kit might suggest. Nitrate levels are a key indicator of overstocking, and you're looking for levels of less than 20 mg/l, and certainly never more than 50 mg/l. In terms of water chemistry, for Bala Sharks you're aiming for soft to moderately hard water (5-15 degrees dH) and an around-neutral pH (6.5 to 7.5). You shouldn't be adding salt to the water.>
I have put him in an isolation tank and have treated with tetracycline.
<Unfortunately, Aeromonas is often resistant to Tetracycline, and you may find Oxytetracycline more effective.>
Im thinking that he has dropsy from the way he looks and from what I have read about it.
<Do bear in mind that antibiotics will only help if the hospital tank offers good water quality and plenty of oxygen; simply isolating the fish in a tank without a mature filter will just make things worse, with or without the medication.>
Is there anything special that I can do to save him?? I thank you for your time and help!
<Do also read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Should the fish show no signs of recovery, it's as well to be prepared.>
Sincerely,
Jolene
<Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bala shark  11/2/2009
He is the only Bala (about 5 in in length) in a 95 gal tank and there are only 6 other fish in it.
<He really should be in a group. A moot point if he's dying, but certainly if you decide to keep this fish again, it's a key factor to their long-term survival. The aquarium you have is adequately large for the species, though I'd make sure you have robust filtration, since these fish need lots of oxygen. I'd be looking at a big external canister filter with a turnover of at least 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour (i.e., 6 x 95 = 570 gallons/hour) and ideally quite a bit more. Hang-on-the-back and undergravel filters have their places, but they'd need to be beefy to handle these sensitive fish.>
our nitrates and ammonia levels are all at 0.
<Fine. While I don't have much hope if my diagnosis is the right one, the use of antibiotics (don't forget to remove carbon from the filter if used!) may help.>
I appreciate your help!
<Glad to do what I can. Cheers, Neale.>

Silver / Tri Colour Sharks, losses (It's a mystery! RMF?)     7/30/09
Hello Crew,
<Hello,>
Having a problem with our Bala Sharks. We have lost two of them in the last three weeks.
<Oh dear!>
Symptoms : Starts with cloudy eyes, this seems to spread backwards and looks almost like a fungus spreading. The fins, particularly the Pectoral and Dorsal start to look as though there is some sort of 'fin
rot'. The fish seems fine but stops eating 'enthusiastically' although it does still eat. After a period of approx 6 weeks the fish is found swimming upside down and dies soon after.
<Hmm... putting aside the obvious -- old age -- if it's the same species of fish getting damaged, infected, and then dying, there's two obvious explanations. One is that there's a species specific virus (or equivalent)
in your tank. This isn't likely though, and the classic cases, like Neon Tetra Disease and Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus are well known and easily recognised. The more likely explanation is that something has changed in the tank, perhaps environmental, perhaps social, that means this particular species of fish no longer "works" in this tank.>
Aquarium : 2000 Litres approx (7ftx3ftx3ft), 3mm Dorset Pea natural gravel
Filtration : 2 Eheim Pro III 2180's
Heating : Hydor under gravel 2 * 300w (supported by integral heaters in filters but filter heaters are rarely required)
Circulation : 2 Hydor Koralia 4's, 1 Seio M2600
Water Stats : Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, pH 6.5, water is relatively hard, temperature 27 Deg C Min, 28 Deg C Max. water changes are carried out fortnightly and calculated to keep nitrates below 25ppm so it
can vary in amount. Water changes are carried out using Tetra AquaSafe and a 'Python', gravel is vac'd at same time.
<All sounds fine.>
Stock : 18 Clown Loach ranging from 4 to 8 inches in length, 2 Red Tail Tinfoils 8 inches, 1 Sailfin Plec 14 inches, 2 Silver Dollars 6 inches, 4 Black Widow Tetra, none of these are showing any signs of any problem
whatsoever, there are no plants, there is a large amount of 'bog wood' shelter and places to hide type holes. There are now 5 Bala Sharks (were 7) ranging from 6 to 11 inches.
<How old are these fish? They do live for around 10+ years, but if they're substantially older than 10 years, you may simply be seeing normal mortality.>
Feeding : Principle is JBL Novo Bel but once weekly add frozen 'shrimp' and 'bloodworm', additional variation provided by JBL Novo Tab.
Feeding is monitored and if the feeding is less than enthusiastic the next day will be a 'fasting' day.
<I would class Balantiocheilos melanopterus as being a "heavy" feeder, so one factor is whether they're getting sufficient food. Make sure your specimens have nicely rounded bellies, and when viewed from the front, the profile on the flanks is slightly convex rather than concave.>
Things that I have tried
1 : Increase the vitamin uptake of the fish incase it was a dietary deficiency using JBL Atvitol for a 4 week period. - effect none.
2 : Treat individual fish in hospital tank using JBL Ektol at recommended dosage and period. - effect dead within 24 hours.
3 : Treat entire aquarium using JBL Ektol at recommended dosage and period - effect none except dead filters, never again.
<Have never used JBL Ektol so can't comment on its efficacy/safety either way. Will make the usual statement that carbon neutralised such medications and should be removed before use. Can't think why your filters crashed; do review dosing, usage.>
4 : Treat entire aquarium using eSHa 2000 at recommended dosage and frequency - effect another dead Bala shark.
<I do use eSHa 2000, and find it to be very reliable, even with catfish and pufferfish.>
I now have another shark showing the cloudy eye and am out of ideas, I cannot keep throwing chemicals at this, it is damn expensive to treat 2000 litres, no other fish show any signs of problems.
Best regards,
Garfield
<There's no obvious reason from the data here why your Bala Sharks aren't doing well. So would suggest taking another approach: is there anything that might have stressed/be stressing them? They are nervous fish, and when alarmed, sometimes throw themselves into the glass or at the hood. Clown Loaches and Silver Dollars should be fine, but the Red-tail Tinfoil Barb, Barbonymus altus, is a big, boisterous fish that tends to be rather restless. Similarly, Black Widows can be nippy, though this varies, and sometimes they're utterly harmless (but mine never were...). I'd also consider age, how much you're feeding them, and whether there's anything outside the tank, like banging or paint fumes, that might be stressing these fish. Cheers, Neale.>
<<Is mysterious to me as well... What would just affect the Balas... I would default to serial water change-outs, the addition of some hardy, palatable floating plant material (to cut down light, give the fishes something to chew...) and use a goodly amount of activated carbon (bagged, in an area of water flow)... BobF>>

Re: Silver / Tri Colour Sharks (It's a mystery! RMF?) 07/30/09
Would not argue with this at all. In fact if you're anywhere near Berkhamsted, you're free to come pick up a couple clumps of Ceratopteris from me! I seem to be throwing out bucketfuls ever couple of weeks. But seriously, Bob's point is sound. Many of my fish eat the stuff, and it certainly makes nervous fish -- hujeta gar, red-tail pufferfish -- much less skittish, and much more settled than otherwise. Really, I'd class Ceratopteris as almost as useful as heaters and filters!
Cheers, Neale
<Yowzah! I swear Neale and I are two individuals! Perhaps characters would have a better, more accurate connotation. Cheers! BobF>

Re: Silver / Tri Colour Sharks (It's a mystery! RMF?) 07/30/09
Funny boy! Yes, I'm a recent convert to Ceratopteris. Not sure how I'd live without the stuff now. I think pet shops should give a leaf or two away with every fish! I started off with a few fragments, and now I have tonnes in every tank, and even some in the pond.
<C. thalictroides is one of my all time... olde... faves>
My Ameca splendens seem to eat nothing else. They refuse flake food entirely when they have the stuff.
Cheers, Neale
<And you, BobF>

Re: Silver / Tri Colour Sharks (It's a mystery! RMF?) 07/30/09
Hello WetWebMedia,
<Garf>
I generally never use carbon at all, I am waiting until Saturday (because of the eSHa) to give it chance, then I think I may get some carbon in there after I do a water change.
<Again, I (RMF) would do so>
I did use UV-C for a long time but nothing has been added to the tank in over a year so it is presently turned off, there are no plans to add any stock etc.
The fish (Bala's) are around 3-5 years, I originally thought that the cloudy eyes was dietary, but no matter what I put in there they don't seem to binge - never have - sometimes I need to encourage them to go
to the end of the tank where the food is, then once sunk it can sit there for hours.
Any suggestions for floating salad ? - I gave up on green things because I couldn't put anything in the tank that lasted more than 24 hours - the dollars get like piranha with real greens - it was getting expensive !!.
<Is, but... worthwhile. Simple Anacharis/Egeria/Elodea should be available, inexpensive... If you could culture, keep some Ceratopteris about, this would be ideal... even various "duckweeds"... See WWM, the Net re species... Will do. Bob Fenner, who will also place your query in Neale's in-folder for his independent resp.>
Thanks for the responses.

Re: Silver / Tri Colour Sharks (It's a mystery! RMF?) 07/30/09
Hello WetWebMedia,
<Hello again,>
I generally never use carbon at all, I am waiting until Saturday (because of the eSHa) to give it chance, then I think I may get some carbon in there after I do a water change.
<I don't tend to use carbon either, except in very specific situations. If you think there's poisoning in the tank, then carbon can help, but to be honest I'd expect Clown Loaches to be the ones in distress first if that
were true.>
I did use UV-C for a long time but nothing has been added to the tank in over a year so it is presently turned off, there are no plans to add any stock etc.
<UV wouldn't really make much difference; it helps reduce numbers of waterborne parasites, but that's about it.>
The fish (Bala's) are around 3-5 years, I originally thought that the cloudy eyes was dietary, but no matter what I put in there they don't seem to binge - never have - sometimes I need to encourage them to go to
the end of the tank where the food is, then once sunk it can sit there for hours.
<Ah, were the eyes cloudy, or were they damaged? If fish bump into things, it's very common for their eyes to get damaged, and the cornea will turn cloudy. Yes, there are other reasons too, including diet, water quality, etc.>
Any suggestions for floating salad ? - I gave up on green things because I couldn't put anything in the tank that lasted more than 24 hours - the dollars get like piranha with real greens - it was getting
expensive !!.
<Do try filling your Silver Dollars with tinned peas and the like, and then adding the Elodea, Ceratopteris, or whatever afterwards, so everyone else can nibble. My gut feeling is that diet isn't the issue here, but
certainly, offering a plant-based diet would do both Silver Dollars and Bala Sharks much good (and indeed Clown Loaches, too).>
Thanks for the responses.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bala sharks, dis.  4/14/2009
We have a Bala shark that we don't think has the ich but has a white spot around it's tail and is acting listless and floating upside down, and has cloudy eyes.
<Well, I need more information that this. How big is this Bala Shark? Is it the only specimen in the tank? Are there any aggressive tankmates in the aquarium? Bala Sharks are big, difficult fish to maintain and do need a large (very large) well-filtered aquarium; do see here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/bala_sharks.htm
Cloud eyes can mean a variety of things, ranging from physical damage to systemic bacterial infection. If a fish is listless, that can also mean a variety of things, but I suspect your fish is more than merely listless if
it's upside down! That's very serious indeed. What is the water quality like? At minimum, make sure the pH is steady (ideally around 7.0) and that there are 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite levels.>
Can we save him
<Depends; if it really is at death's door, I doubt it. A 50% water change could be performed, to see if that flushes out any toxins/pollutants. If the fish perks up, that would be promising. Then treat the tank with some
combination Finrot/Fungus medication to prevent secondary infections (Seachem ParaGuard; eSHa 2000; not Melafix or Salt!).>
please advise asap?
<No need to worry about the ASAP request; we answer each question in turn.>
thank you
<Most probably an environmental issue, so review things like the size of the tank, filtration, tankmates, water chemistry, water quality. Write back if you need help with these. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Bala sharks 1/3/09 We have a 48 gallon tank with a number of fish, two of which are Bala shark. These two shark have recently started showing white spots on their bodies. We have tested the water and every thing comes back fine, we recently lost our rope eel and are wondering if there is something more we need/can do for the fish. Bonnie <Hello Bonnie. Most of the time "white spots" means either Ick (like salt grains) or Velvet (like icing sugar), both parasitic infections commonly introduced by contamination from another aquarium, e.g., via new fish or new plants. Various off-the-shelf medications are available. However, sometimes white spots are caused by small patches of dead skin, in which case problems such as Finrot or Fungus will need to be considered. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwdistrbshtart.htm Do understand that not everyone's idea of "fine" water conditions matches ours, so if you'd like to pass on the actual test results, as well as a better description of the type of white spots visible on your fish, perhaps we can offer some more useful advice. Cheers, Neale.>

Bala Shark Trouble - 7/1/08 Hi, This is my first time writing to you guys with a question. I just found your website, and although I didn't Find what I was looking for, it was very informative. Anyway, I have a 75 gal brackish water wank. Currently pH is 7.9, nitrites/nitrates/ and ammonia are 0(well nitrites are very very close). This tank has been set up for a few months now. For stock I have 4 Bala Sharks, 1 Red Tailed Freshwater Barracuda, a Comet (was originally a feeder for the Barracuda, but hid and is now to big for him to eat, I also don't feed him Comets anymore), a Gold Nugget Pleco, and a few Crayfish. My question is, I have a Bala Shark that has its mouth stuck open. It is still acting fine, it swims and eats just like it always has. To eat it just swims up to food and sucks it through it open mouth. I have looked inside the Bala's mouth and there doesn't seem to be anything it that is keeping it open. I have read that it may be a dislocated jaw and I should take the shark out of the water and try to put its jaw back together. So, should I attempt this or should I leave the Bala alone since he seems to be ok with his mouth like this. Thank You, Mike <I would leave this fish alone... Likely the jaw is the result of a jumping injury... Bob Fenner>

Bala ups and downs... No reading before writing...   4/7/08 I am pretty new to the "have your own fish" world. <Well-stated, noted> I have had my 29 gallon tank for about a month or two now. I have had both good and bad luck with some of the fish in my tank. My Pink Gourami didn't make it after it was being chased by my Tiger Barb who later got ick and died... karma I guess. <Mmm, no... or at least, not much... Tiger Barbs are schooling/shoaling fishes... nippy either way, but w/o conspecifics to pal/chase with... can become terrors> I had a Bala shark that died of unknown causes, <This volume is too small for Balas> so I got a couple more after about 2 weeks. The water needed to be treated and stabilized, which finally got done. My new fish which are: 2 African frogs, 2 algae eaters, <... Mmm, what kind/species? See WWM re...> 2 Bala sharks, and 2 Leporinus something fish, <Likely L. fasciatus... trouble... and... you haven't obviously followed directions... and sought/read through the WWM archives ahead of writing us...> they are yellow bodied with black stripes. Everyone is doing fine except for one of my Balas. He or she decided that it is fun to go up and down one side of the tank and doesn't seem to want to be around the other fish. This is after only 1 day. What could be the problem? I have read that my tank is too small for their size, the people at the fish store may have led me astray. I just want fish that are happy and pleasant to look at. Any help would be great. JS <Have just skipped down... See WWM re. Bob Fenner>

URGENT... NNS... Balas...  1/15/08 hello, <Hello! Any particular problem with your Shift key on your computer? You seem not to be using capital letters, which is a VERY UNPOPULAR habit here at WWM. We posted questions for others to read, and capital letters make things easier to read. Without them, it's difficult to see where sentences begin and end, especially for non-native English speakers. Next time, PLEASE use the Shift key.> I have a serious problem. <Other than your capital letter phobia...?> I have had a 90 gallon tank for my whole life. this had its ups and downs, but the point is I learnt from the experience. <Very good.> five years ago, I upgraded to a 200 gallon aquarium. I started out with two bala sharks which I guess from the size were about no more then 2 centimetres big. I bought them as pairs and put them in the 200 gallon tank. due to experience and being scared of losing control of my tank, I didn't get anymore fish. <Boy, I bet those Bala Sharks enjoyed themselves! Not many specimens of this species get such a nice big tank. So well done. But Bala Sharks -- Balantiocheilos melanopterus -- are pretty good community fish when kept with species docile fish of similar size.> now, my sharks have reached to 20 cm in size and the other 25 cm. my mum has no idea about fish and came into my room last week. she put a pearl Gourami in my tank without notifying me, because she wanted to surprise me. <Uh-oh.> well I was horrified because I imagined all sorts happening to my sharks. I have never had any problems with them, except that they eat too much so I feed them sparingly. well now their scales have started to come off and I can see that their fins are getting lighter in colour, it used to be a deep black, now its getting paler and paler and the scales are falling off. what should I do? <Hmm... first thing is to check the water chemistry. It is possible the Gourami has nothing to do with the current problem. So check -- at the very least -- the pH and the nitrite. If those seem normal, then I'd assume Finrot/Fungus is at least a possibility if fish are losing their scales, and treat with a combination medication that deals with both. Since you're in the UK, look for eSHa 2000, which works very well in my experience. I don't rate Melafix/Pimafix all that highly, so I'd caution against those.> its a 200 gallon and I don't know how to make massive water changes, I have always changed 10% starting from week 1. <I'd tend to recommend 25%+ per week, but since your tank is large but relatively lightly stocked, 10% may be fine. Watch the water quality though, and do check for pH decline.> I am scared I will lose my sharks, because I have had them for five years and they are the only people who can make me happy. by the way the pearl Gourami is dead. found it floating, half eaten. <One less fish to worry about I suppose. At this stage, do a big (50% at least) water change to try and flush out some of the nitrate produced by the dead fish. Then treat for Finrot/Fungus, and observe. Check water quality, chemistry, temperature, and aeration.> would be extremely grateful if you could tell me what to do, I have spent days and days reading your site and worrying don't know what to do anymore reaching the stage of insanity. <Calm down for one thing! Most problems in life are best sorted by stepping back, looking at the facts, and running through the possible causes and the available options. In this case, you're either dealing with a water quality/chemistry issue, which can be easily fixed, or a disease possibly introduced by the Gourami. If it's a disease, you need to take a photograph and send it to us here at WWM and we'll do out best to identify the disease. In the meantime, water changes followed by medication as outlined above (removing carbon if you use it!) should help stabilise things.> Thank you very much for any advice you could give me in the future. NT <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 200 Gallon Tank,2 bala sharks 1/15/08 Hello Neale, (or if it's someone else this time) <It's me!> First of all my apologies for not using capital letters, I'm new to your site (and I did not think of reading what was underneath the heading for asking questions). <Cool.> I have done a 50% water change and my sharks are starting to look better. They regained some of their colour over the night. <Good; fresh water usually helps.> But I can still see a few scales missing. <Nothing to worry about, all else being good. Fish shed their scales in much the same way we lose hair, and like hair, scales grow back.> Reading your email I can see I may have reacted a little too crazy. I have had my water tested, Everything is fine, and got it tested again at the LFS. Same results over there. <Good.> I looked at my sharks again, but there seems to be nothing unusual about them other then a few scales missing. They have regained their colour which is good, I suppose but I still hate seeing the scales missing. <Should be back to normal in a few weeks.> Could one of the reasons be that they got a shock from my mum putting a Gourami in? <Likely not from the Gourami itself, but the way your Mother adding the fish might have been bad. Perhaps she banged the tank, messed about with the lights, splashed about a bit... whatever. So while her thought was a very kind one, I suggest you go with her to the pet store together, and she buys you a fish *you* want, and then *you* add it to the aquarium. Getting the family involved with the aquarium is always a good idea. If you can educate her to what fish need, then when you go away on trips, you'll know she'll be able to check on the fish and keep them properly fed if need be.> She has no knowledge about fish so Im thinking she just poured the whole contents of the bag into the aquarium with the water from the pet shop as well. Also, the pet shop which she went to is not reliable at all, they always have dead fish at the bottom the of the aquarium and nearly all their tropical fish have bad cases of "White spot thingy" (forgot the name!) <Whitespot. Actually quite common in a lot of pet stores, though if you see a lot of dead fish, don't buy fish from that shop. Do have a play with this article, and see how your local store does: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aqbizsubwebindex/hobratestrs.htm A lot of aquarists, myself included, end up making expeditions to GOOD shops to avoid shopping at more local BAD shops.> I'm worried in case my sharks could get infections from the water added to the tank but I do not want to medicate them unnecessarily. <That horse has bolted, to be honest. So since the fish have skin damage, I'd medicate pro-actively, to PREVENT infections as well as cure any minor ones already established. Won't do any harm. The eSHa 2000 medication is not expensive and works against a range of problems.> I've done my water change, please be kind enough to advise me on how to get their scales back on. <Time, my friend, is the great healer.> The 25 cm has three scales missing and the 20 cm has four missing. I'll keep doing water changes around 20% a week, what do you think? <Sounds fine.> Thanks for all the advice! NT <You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 200Gallon Tank:2 Bala Sharks 1/17/08 Hi Neale, <Hello again!> Thank you very much for all your advice and help, my two sharks are completely fine now after a few water changes and some eSHa200 they are trying to jump out of the tank as usual and finding the hood there !! <Sounds good! Yes, these fish are really good jumpers!> I am now considering the possibility of introducing ONE fish to my aquarium... What are options here? <I'd actually go against one fish but rather a school of smaller ones: Rainbowfish make ideal companions. They're peaceful, and the schooling behaviour will help the Bala Sharks feel more settled. You would also find the colours on Rainbows goes really nicely with the silver/black of Bala sharks. A particularly good species is Glossolepis incisus. The males are red, the females greenish, and both look really nice with Bala Sharks. Melanotaenia boesemanni is another superb choice.> Any suggestions? <Avoid anything territorial, such as cichlids or loaches. I'd also tend to get a fish SMALLER than the Sharks, to stop the Sharks from getting freaked out.> Don't really know which ones I want except that I would want a fish that lives for a few years at most, because I get very attached to them and would not be happy if anything happened to it. <Good! One nice thing about Rainbowfish is they are hardy and long-lived, so once settled in generally last a long time (five years upwards).> Thanks a lot for your extremely helpful advice. Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Bala Shark Swimming Erratically  12/24/07 Hiya, <Hail and well met,> I've had my tank (its 190 Litres or 38 Gallons?) running well for about 10 months now and have the following stock; 3x Silver (Bala?) Shark 2x Ruby Shark 2x Albino Ruby Shark (Can you spot a theme :)) 2x Kissing Gourami 2x Koi Angel (was 3x) 3x Glass Cat 1x Siamese Fighter 1x Plec (about 6-8 inches long) They have all been bought from quite a small size (apart from the Plec) and have grown nicely (a nice size, but nothing too big). <Famous last words... the Plec and the Bala Shark and the Kissing Gourami are all fairly big animals when mature. The Plec will likely reach 30-45 cm, the Gourami around 15-20 cm, and the Silver Shark about the same. While you may be fine at the moment, long term some of these fish will need a bigger tank. Ruby Sharks -- Epalzeorhynchos frenatus -- are also highly territorial fish, and while having 4 may moderate the worst of their temper tantrums, I'd still be cautious.> Yesterday I found one of my Koi Angel's dead on the bottom of the tank, so it was removed, and now today on of my Silver Sharks is swimming quite erratically, he'll be upside down one minute and right side the next, and then on his side, you can see that he is trying to get upright whilst he is moving, am just wondering if you can give me any pointers as to what could be causing the Silver Shark to swim like this? <Many things, but water quality is the thing to check first.> I've just done a test and the results are below, ill do a water change in the morning but am a little worried at the moment, especially after loosing the Koi Angel yesterday. pH = ~6.5 Nitrite (NO2) = ~0.10 ppm Ammonia (NH3/NH4) = ~0.25 ppm Nitrate (NO3) = ~20 ppm <The nitrite and ammonia are both far too high. You are either [a] overstocked, [b] under-filtered, or [c] over-feeding. Quite probably all three. In any case, without fixing the situation, more fish will sicken and die.> Thanks in advance Regards, Rob <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bala Shark   12/25/07 Hello to the crew at WetWebMedia, I just want to thank you for your help with my bala shark. He is doing great!!! The melafix worked just fine so I didn't need stronger meds. Thank you again, Tina <Good news. Melafix can be effective, it just isn't *always* effective, especially not in severe cases. Regardless, if it's worked for you, that's great! Cheers, Neale.>

Help! Bala is probably too far gone, but what about tank mates? - 12/14/07 Hello Crew, I have a sick Bala and need your help. I fear he may be too far gone, but am also concerned about his tank mates and not sure what to do. <OK.> First, the tank is a 90 gallon FW where PH 7.0, KH 5.5, GH 5, Ammonia 0, Nitrites, 0, Nitrates 10, weekly water changes of 10-20%. Contains 2 med Silver dollars, 1 small Bala, 2 small gold barbs, 7 Neons, and a terror child... a dwarf Gourami. Filtration is provided by an Emperor 400 Bio-wheel HOB filter and a Fluval 404 canister filter loaded with mechanical and biological material and a little crushed coral. Over filtered and light load at the moment. Meanwhile, in a 30 gallon waiting for the completion of a 2 week-ish new fish break in before adding to the 90, I have a larger Bala, 1 Pleco, 3 Cory cats, and 4 Gold Barbs. <All sounds fine.> From everything I have read and pictures I have seen, I think the Bala is suffering from stress induced Hemorrhagic Septicemia. I know it's not an overly common ailment, but that's what it seems to be. I've attached pictures thinking it might help with a diagnosis. <Does seem possible. I've never seen Haemorrhagic Septicaemia in the flesh, so I hesitate to be too sure about that diagnosis though. There are two forms: viral and bacterial. The viral form usually goes along with swelling of the abdomen, dark colours, pop-eyes, etc. The bacterial form is more comparable to Finrot in symptoms, and the two diseases are likely related, being caused by similar Aeromonas bacteria. In some cases, severe Finrot may lead to bacterial Haemorrhagic Septicaemia if untreated.> To try to avoid the long story (I'm a little long winded), my Dwarf Gourami is an absolute terror child. I originally had him in the 30 gal and he learned he could bully the other fish, especially the Silver Dollars whom I guess he thinks are other Gouramis. So, I moved everything but him to the 90 and all was well for a few weeks. Then I wanted to get additional fish for the 90 and wanted to quarantine them in the 30 for a while so I moved the DG to the 90. After moving the DG, he was still somewhat of a bully, but I thought there was enough space for them to be alright. After about a week it was evident the DG had taken over the tank again and now included the Bala in his bullying. Come feeding time any fish in the tank was a target. The DG is now separated again. I'm telling you this because I think that is the source of the "stress induced." Oh, I realize Balas are schooling fish and having just one could be a source of stress as well, but he has seemed very content schooling with the Silver Dollars. He has really seemed "happy" up until now. Still, the new Bala was planned to keep him company. <All very strange. Dwarf Gouramis are usually fairly placid and good community fish. But there's always exceptions, and it seems you have one.> Now my Bala has for about three days now had red bloody fins. He has no nicks or torn fins, only bloodshot red fins where the white part should be. He has been eating well, swimming well, and other than the red, doing fine. Yesterday evening I caught him floating upside down for a few minutes and today he isn't seeming like his old self so to speak. Still swimming right side up and still searching for food, but just doesn't seem normal. <Given he's still eating, the time to fix this is NOW!> I went to the store and bought Mardel Maracyn because that's all the LFS had, but after reading the package instructions it looks like Mardel Maracyn-Two might be better as it specifically says for septicemia. Now is where my questions all start flowing. Should I use Maracyn or try another store to find Maracyn-Two? I'm sure they are both at the other LFS. <Do question, use Maracyn-Two. If that's the one for this infection -- use it!> I don't know if what the Bala has is contagious and if I should expect the other fish to get it. If so, then I should treat the 90 gallon tank with all it's tenants. If not, then I should isolate the Bala in a small tank to medicate just him. Thoughts? <Treat him and the whole tank together. No real advantage to removing him to another tank in this instance.> Then if I need to medicate the entire 90 gallon, I somewhat wonder if I should move the 30 gallon tenants over to the 90 and just medicate everyone. Okay, probably not the best idea, but it's one of my little dilemmas. <Skip it. Just creates extra work and stresses the fish. If cost is a factor, you could lower the water level 25% (if possible).> Of course 3 or four days into it, the Bala may be too far gone for any medicating to help so then there comes another dilemma. Oh the joys of fish keeping. <Indeed.> So, any suggestions would be oh so greatly appreciated. There is so much conflicting information on the web and books, but I have really grown to trust what I read here. Thank you so much for that! <Glad we can help.> <Cheers, Neale>

Re: green terror   12/11/07 Thank you for your prompt reply. As fate would have it this morning when I went to the tank my 2 bala Sharks were dead one of which I cannot even find in the tank. Checked the water and the PH was low around 6.7 and yesterday I completed a water change and cleaning...Someone once told that Bala's don't do well when changing water but this seemed off to me any thoughts? Eric <Hello Eric. I've never heard anything about Bala sharks being killed by water changes. Let's be clear about something: provided the water chemistry stays constant, big water changes are better than small ones, and frequent water changes better than infrequent ones. If you're finding the pH doesn't stay steady, than you other problems do deal with. Aquaria all have a natural tendency to become acidic. This is caused by a variety of factors, including the production of organic acids through decay and the dissociation of nitrate into nitric acid. What resists this is the amount of carbonate hardness. What exacerbates pH instability is overstocking, overfeeding, and inadequate water changes. So before we can understand precisely what's going on, you need to establish the carbonate hardness (measured in degrees KH) and then compare the pH and KH of the aquarium with the pH and KH of your local tap water. Remember, the general hardness (degrees dH) has very little influence on stabilising pH, because the minerals measured there don't "mop up" acids nearly so effectively. Aquarists often confuse carbonate hardness and general hardness, not realising that the two things are very different and have very different properties in terms of fishkeeping. General hardness affects osmoregulation of fish, i.e., biological systems, whereas carbonate hardness is more important in terms of pH stability, a physical system of the aquarium. Rapid pH changes can stress or kill most fish, not just Bala sharks. When pH rapidly drops, the fish needs to quickly alter its blood chemistry otherwise it will die, effectively through the inability to carry oxygen around the body properly. Some fish can adjust their blood chemistry faster than others, but most are stressed to some degree by doing it, so the ideal for anything other than species adapted to variable habitats is a steady pH. Big, frequent water changes are best because they "reset" the pH to the original value after only a short period in which time the acidification of the aquarium will not have progressed very far. Cheers, Neale.>

Bala Shark hlth., sub terminal mouths   11/25/2007 Hi Bob- I was doing some web search and came across several advices from you on Bala Shark. My son has 20 gal tank with 4 Barbs and 2 Bala Shark for over a year. One of the Bala died about 5 months ago and we have not replaced it yet. The current Bala is about 1.5 in big. In the last 3 weeks or so, Bala Shark's mouth has developed a down ward spout like feature. First I thought that something must be stuck in the mouth but apparently fish is doing fine over 3 weeks and there seems to be no adverse effect on the fish. Have you seen this before or do you know what causes this? Should I be concerned about this or just enjoyed this "downward spout" view? Thanks for your advice. Regards, Jay <Greetings. Bala/Silver Sharks, Balantiocheilos melanopterus, do have somewhat turned-down, or at least under-slung, mouths anyway. So without seeing a photo of your fish I can't say whether this is within the range of normality or something unusual. Physical damage, such as fighting or jumping, can cause fish to dislocate their jaws, and it is possible that this is what has happened. If it is, there's nothing really that you can do. Re-articulating fish jaws is possible, but something for a vet, not a hobbyist, to do because of the fragility of the skeleton. On the other hand, provided the fish is feeding properly, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Do bear in mind that you cannot possibly keep a Bala Shark in a 20 gallon tank for much longer. Wild specimens reach 35 cm, and even in aquarium lengths of 20-25 cm are perfectly normal. The minimum aquarium for these fish would be 150 cm in length. Kept in tanks that are too small these fish become nervous and sooner or later jump out the tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Bala Shark... damaged   11/24/07 Good morning, <Well, it's Good Evening here in Merrie Olde England, but hello anyway!> My tank setup will be listed below. I have a question about one of my bala sharks. <OK.> Yesterday I was feeding my fish and noticed that one of my bala sharks has a large deep gash that is on his nose up to his forehead. He isn't as active as he normally is, but he is still eating. <Ah, sounds like mechanical damage of some sort -- either he tried to jump out and hit something sharp and/or solid, or else was attacked by something in the night.> His swimming is odd, he tends to move slow with his head facing toward the bottom of the tank. When I first seen him it was like he was having convulsions, he kept twitching. Now he isn't twitching, but still moving strange. One in a while he will swim fast with the other two Balas then he slows down again. <He's probably kind of shaken up. Treat with anti-Finrot/Fungus medication to be on the safe side, but otherwise you can expect this fish to make a good recovery. Fish are surprisingly good at healing this kind of damage, assuming secondary infections don't set in.> No-one in the tank is bothering him so I didn't take him out. What would be the best thing to do for him? I am hoping he don't die. I have only had my Balas for about six months they where tiny when I bought them now they are about 4 and a half inches. I love all my fish and don't want them to be hurt. Please advise me on what to do with him and do you think he will make it? <As stated above. Treat (making sure to remove carbon if you use this stuff) and keep up with the water changes, filtration to keep water quality good.> I know the fish I have will out grow this tank, but at this time they are not full grown and as soon as I sell my house they are going into a 300 gallon. <Very good.> My aquarium is 125 gallons, ammonia/nitrites 0....nitrates 20...The PH is on the low side, but the fish are happy so I don't want to change it...6.6 Temp 76deg. <No problems there. pH 6.6 is slightly acidic, but this won't harm Bala Sharks at all.> I do weekly water changes of 25%.. <I'd double that.> I clean the filters every other week. <Probably overkill. Once a month should suffice, but this depends on the filters and how messy they get.> I have two cascade 300 power filters. (I also would like to know what would be the best filters to get...my 55 gallon I have the BioWheel...what is your opinion of those? should I get canister filters?) <I personally like canister filters but it really doesn't matter. What counts is water turnover. You want not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour; i.e., a 55 gallon tank should have one or more filters that added together give not less than 220 gallons per hour turnover. Ideally, you wants 6x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour.> My Fish 5 blood parrots (3"/4"/4"/5"/5") 2 clown loaches (3"/4") 2 gold Severums (5"/5") 1 green Severum (5") 3 silver dollars (4"/4"/4") 1 fire mouth (2") 1 sailfin Pleco (3") 1 blue Gourami (4") 3 bala sharks ( 3"/4"/4") 1 iridescent shark (9") <Quite the collection. The Central American cichlids would definitely prefer an at-least neutral pH but ideally slightly basic pH, rather than an acidic one. But if they're fine right now, OK.> These fish in my tank get along great....its funny watching them....my Gourami and my smallest parrot fish do everything together they even share the same hole to sleep in...They even rub each other like they are spawning... <I suspect this won't last for long. Some of these fish are distinctly territorial when mature.> I also have a couple other tanks 55 gallon 3 angels (2"/4"/6") 2 Cory cats (both 2 and a half inches) 1 black ghost knife... These fish are going into the 125 when I move 100 gallon 10 jellybean parrots ( 3 inches each) 2 Firemouths (6"/4") the parents to the small one in the 125 gallon. 2 pictus catfish (3"/4") Jellybeans and Firemouths always have fry...I get credit for them at a good LFS. Do you have any info you can give me to stop them from spawning? <Sadly the male fish won't wear condoms and the females aren't reliable about taking their contraceptive pills. Educating cichlids in favour of abstinence doesn't seem to work either. So basically you either separate them, or else destroy the fry humanely.> Other than separating them...I tried turning the heat down didn't work Temp 74 deg. <Not a huge fan of using temperature to control breeding with cichlids, because cichlids kept too cold tend to be sickly. I suppose you could introduce some egg-eating catfish of some sort, like a large Synodontis, such as S. nigrita or S. schall, but these fish can sometimes cause problems of their own.> Thank you for any information you can give. Tina <Good luck with your patient! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bala Shark 11/25/2007 Hello again, Just want to thank you for your help. <You're welcome.> My bala shark (Edd) is still the same, but I did put fungus meds in the aquarium. I used Melafix, is that one OK? I use it because it says its safe for all fish even scaleless. <It should help. But Melafix is relatively mild, and if you see signs of secondary infection, i.e., dead and/or bloody tissue, then step things up a bit and use the 'industrial grade' stuff.> I will let you know of any changes he makes. <Cool.> Every now and then he comes out to swim with the other bala sharks then he goes back to his home. <Exhaustion, and the fish equivalent of fever. It'll take a while for his immune system to deal with the open wound. But I've seen fish recover from these sorts of injuries rather quickly.> Thank you again, Tina <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: angel with "pop eye"... Bala shark deaths    6/21/07 Hi Bob - last night while I was at work I got a call from my son at 7:30 saying that one of the sharks was lying upside down in the tank - he was dead by midnight. I did a lot of research on the internet as to "sudden death of Bala sharks" and the common answer was that because they are very active they can injure themselves so assumed that was the cause. <Is a common problem, yes> Today I went to my LFS to see what they had to say and they concluded that it was probably self injury or old age <Mmm, Balantiocheilus live a good long while... get surprisingly large... a foot and a half long... Not likely the source of mortality here> or natural causes - heart attack, stroke, along those lines. When I got home this afternoon, my other shark was lying upside down! His eyes are very cloudy! <Environmental...> I keep turning him over but I don't think he's going to survive much longer. Very sad!! Good news is my angels eye has almost returned to normal. Any suggestions? PH is fine. Thanks again for your help. <A bigger system really. Live, tall plants for psychological comfort... Bob Fenner>

Need add'l info. to answer this...first suggestion is to check water quality.   2/20/07 I have had my Bala sharks for some time now. I noticed yesterday that the female shark has a red swollen eye. I'm guessing that she was injured. What can I do for her eye? <Hi Cheryl, Jorie here.  A bit more info. would be helpful in determining what's going on - how large is this tank, what other fish are in it, what are the water parameters, etc.  With the small amount of info. you've given me, I'd guess that this is either due to an injury, or the beginning of pop-eye, a disease usually caused by poor water quality.  First thing to do is test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, etc. - for any disease/abnormality, that's the first thing to check.  Once you've determined (if you can determine) that the water quality is pristine, then you can look further into possible injury, aggression from other fish/livestock, etc. Hope this helps, Jorie> Cheryl

Update on Bala Shark  3/11/07 Hi Jorie, <Hi Cheryl,> I got the Nitrites down to 0.1, <Need to be nil (zero)> Nitrate is at 10, <Good> Ammonia is 0, <Very good> pH is 7.5, GH 120 and KH is 80, all are holding steady. <Latter being the most important thing.> All the rest of the fish seem fine. <Excellent - glad to hear that.> Last week I took the Bala out of the tank and put her in a quarantine tank. The Bala did die 2 days ago. She ended up with cloudy eyes, a swollen belly with red streaks. <I imagine the QT tank was uncycled - were you keeping a close eye on water parameters there, also?> The male Bala would stay with her when she was in the main tank and has been pacing the tank since I took her out, to the point where he is making us nauseous. <He could be lonely, bored...> I think he misses her? Do fish really have feelings? <You're talking to the queen of anthropomorphism - I *always* tend to attribute human qualities to my pets.  In all honestly, I'm not sure fish have the capacity for emotions such as "loneliness", or have memories and miss their "friends" when they are absent, but the Bala shark is a schooling fish, so he may well be "missing" his companion.> So I was wondering if it would be better to get another Bala for him. I head that if I put another one in the tank, he will beat it up. Then I heard that I should have them in groups of three. <Looking back to the original e-mails (below) I see that this is a 55 gal., lightly stocked tank.  As such, I'd recommend adding two more balas when the time comes.  I'm so glad to hear you aren't trying to keep these fish in a small 10 gal. tank, as they can reach up to 14".  I think your 55 is the absolute minimum size for these fish, and ideally, when they begin growing large, you should be ready to upgrade to a 75 or 100. But, you do have some room to play, as they don't grow overnight! Here's a helpful link to educate you more about your Bala sharks: http://badmanstropicalfish.com/profiles/profile21.html And, of course, you must be sure to quarantine them, so they don't bring in any disease into the main tank.  Now would be a good time to clean out the QT (where the female Bala perished), and get it cycled and ready for some new inhabitants...> I won't be adding fish for a couple of weeks when I know all is really good. <Very smart.  I suggest getting the QT clean and cycled (fishless method, using a small bit of fish food daily works well), and then you'll be ready to keep a few balas in there for 3-4 weeks, to keep a close eye on them for disease, etc.  I'm sorry you lost your female Bala, but I do believe this was related to water quality.  Keep up with regular water changes, and regular testing; now that you know what you're looking for, I suspect you'll have no trouble keeping everything up to par! Best of luck, Jorie> Cheryl

Bala Sharks - Concerned secretary - 02/09/2007 In my office we have a 35 gallon tank with 2 angels, 4 tetras, 2 Bala sharks & 1 rosy barb. <Mmm... well the Balas will get too large for here...> Everyone seems to be doing well except for the Bala Sharks. I've notice in the past week the black edges of their fins & tails they have  faded a lot.  They are spending most of the day in a seemingly motionless state, floating at the top of the tank.  They do not seem to be gasping for air.  Their silver color is not as shiny & brilliant as it has been.  Could have tiny bubbles or maybe white spots  on them . . . hard to tell with their color.  I really know nothing about fish care, but I am concerned about the fish.  There is no hospital or quarantine tank available.  Any advise will be greatly appreciated. Debbie Yoder <Do you have test kits for aspects of water quality? It may be that you need to "step up" your water changing procedure here... to a good 20% per week... Could also be simple lack of oxygen (Balas are the highest users here amongst what you list) so more aeration would help... Your water pH might be a bit low as well as a possibility... Is there someone there who is a "fish keeper" that you might ask re these issues? Do you have a company come in that helps with this tank? Do put them in contact with me/us here please. Bob Fenner>

Re: Bala Sharks - Concerned secretary   2/22/07 Mr. Fenner, Thank you for your response.  Unfortunately both Balas & the algae eater died last week while I was off having surgery.  Since my return I've noticed a bright green algae has started to grow.  This tank has always had problems with algae growth due to it's location near windows, however this a more of a teal color and it grew rapidly.  Water pH has been consistent at 6.6. Water temperature is 74 degrees. <Mmm, this algae is likely indirectly being "sponsored" by the nutrient/deaths of the fishes> This tank has been very neglected  for quite some time. . . sometimes not being cleaned for 6 or more months. <Not good> There is no local company available for maintenance & fish care (we live in a small rural community). I have raised my hand and volunteered to do the cleaning & water changes. <Ah, good> I purchased a few books,  did some reading, asked some questions  & then when to work. Currently I'm working on a 4 week schedule, changing out 25% of the water. I test the pH, Nitrates & ammonia levels weekly, according to the test kit I purchased.   I try to scrape glass at least every 2 weeks removing algae. <Perhaps a purposeful algae eater here... and some simple, floating plants to compete, use nutrient, light...>   A local pet store advised me to occasionally remove the decorative items from the tank & soak in a solution of bleach & water to remove the algae ( I have only done this only once since the first of January, but it will need done again very soon).    <Make sure and rinse thoroughly, at least air-dry for a day after...> The fish-keeper at Wal-mart (where the Balas came from) suggested I change the feeding schedule to a small morning & evening, rather than only once a day.   <A good idea> I don't classify myself as a fish-keeper, but a lover of  animals & nature.  Maybe with time the title will fit. <Titles are a matter of action, not notion nor sentiment... You ARE a creature of this planet, a true human being. I salute your efforts> I do appreciate your reply & look forward to your comments. Debbie <BobF>

Platies & Bala Shark Hi there, <Hello!> I have a 30 gallon tank with 5 platies, 4 tetras, 1 molly and a lobster. The lobster doesn't seem to bother the fish, but he has been known to try and catch them from time to time (when he's getting ready to molt). I know that seems mean, but the pet guy said it would be okay. <You may find that he will eventually catch one but for now its fine.> Two questions: (1) My platies tend to hang around the bottom of my tank - ignoring the lobster. They hide near the lobsters hideout, and under plants very near or even on the bottom. Is this normal? <Platies are generally a middle water column type fish but its not uncommon for them to hang around near the bottom. As long as their fins arent clamped and they are showing no signs of disease I wouldnt worry.> (2) I lost my Bala shark today. I haven't had much luck with them. I'm starting to get discouraged. I checked my nitrate and ph levels both fine. The rest of the fish are okay. I came home tonight to the horror of my shark floating upside down - still breathing a little. Am I doing something wrong? Any advice? <Unfortunately, your system is way too small for a Bala. They can get over a foot in length. In addition to testing Nitrate and pH you should also test Nitrite and Ammonia. Those are the ones to really worry about (dont discount the others though!) and are common killers of fish in many home aquariums. Another thing Ive noticed recently is the poor quality of Bala livestock that is available in stores. This didnt used to be the case but of the three stores (in 2 cities) that Ive checked recently, there wasnt a single Bala that I would have even considered bringing home. I have no idea what the cause of this is, it could be poor breeding or handling, or any number of other things. It really makes it tough for the people who are looking to buy healthy livestock. But anyway, for your system I would suggest sticking with what you have and not getting another Bala. If you want something a bit different than what you have, maybe get a few Blackline Penguinfish (often sold as Penguin Tetras). These are a nice active fish with the silver and black coloring but they stay small, under 2, so you could add several of them without overcrowding your system.> Thanks!!! Hayley <You're welcome! Ronni> PS Cool Web Site! <Thank you much!!>

Balas Tail-Down I have three young Balas (3 inches) in a 125-gallon tank with some Corys and some Buenos Aires Tetras. They all have been doing well until today the Balas seem to want to hang around the outlet of one of the Fluval 404 outlets. Also they have seemed in the past, when stationary in the water, to remain level of slightly nose-down. Today when they are not swimming, their tails seem to drop, possibly because they want to stick their noses into the outlet stream (underwater) or possibly because they are having difficulty remaining level. Ammonia and nitrites are zero. I don't have a nitrates kit.  pH is 8.4 (always that high). Carbonate hardness is 6. Any idea what the trouble could be? They are definitely behaving differently. They still dart around the tank, but when they are stationary, they seem to be in distress. Thanks for your continuing help. Charlie <Since this is happening to all three of them I would venture to guess its something in the water. Are they breathing heavily? Are there any other symptoms? To start with, I would do a partial water change and see if that helps, probably around 20-25%. And do some checking to see if you can get the ph down, that is way high for these types of fish. Go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com and do a search for lowering ph to see what you can find out. Ronni>

Re: Balas Tail-Down Ronni, thanks for your reply. <Good morning and youre welcome> I do know how to lower the pH. I had decided not to fool with it since my tap water is high and I didn't want to risk erratic changes when trying to keep it stable and low. The consensus seemed to be it might be better to leave it high and stable. Should I try to keep it lower? <I can definitely see the reasoning behind that. Ive successfully kept tetras and barbs at a pH of 8.2 and it is hard to lower it and keep it low consistently when your tap water is high so yes, go ahead and leave it alone. I was finally able to lower mine a bit by changing the substrate, the tank originally had crushed coral in it and by changing it to crushed granite I was able to drop the pH to 7.8 which is still high but at least a little better.> The fish are no better today. One seems to be having trouble keeping is tail up (his tail was a little deformed when I bought him--previous injury?and the other two are not behaving normally, either. <You know, I was at my LFS yesterday and noticed a tank of Balas that had deformed tails too. Several of them had tails that pointed upwards, some had tails that pointed down, and ones whole body was arched downward. I wonder if its something in the breeding now, possibly too much inbreeding like whats happening to the feeder goldfish?> I had done a (scheduled) 25% water change before I wrote to you...forgot to mention it. I did a scheduled filter cleaning today. Didn't see any problems there. Water parameters still are as usual--no ammonia or nitrites. Temp fine. Water clear. <Ah good.> All other fish are fine (sensitive Corys, too). One thing, this morning I did notice a small nick in one Bala's tail. I'm not sure it's new but I haven't seen it before. There was a young (new) pictus in the tank. Maybe he has been harassing them at night? I removed him. Seems like the tetras would have been easier prey for him though. <Was the Pictus quarantined before being added to the tank? And how big is he? Its possible that he was picking on them and that the Tetras were just too fast for him to catch but the Pictus generally dont pick on things until they get a little bigger than what is sold in most stores. If he wasnt quarantined its also possible that he carried some disease that the Balas got, they tend to be more sensitive to diseases than many other fish. Are they getting enough vegetable matter in their food? You should have some softer live plants for them to feed on continuously as they are mostly herbivorous. Also, they tend to be sensitive to nitrates in addition to ammonia and nitrites so you may want to get a Nitrates test kit or take a water sample to your LFS and have them test it. Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm theres a ton of info on minnow sharks there and you might be able to pinpoint something.> Should I do another water change today? <Possibly. Read the above URL and related FAQs first and go from there. Ronni>

Sick Bala shark (08/02/03) <Hi! Ananda here today, with Phil helping out on this one...> I have recently put a Bala shark into my tank (about 5 days ago) to accompany the previous one I have because I heard they get over stressed sometimes while alone, but I am starting to think it may be getting sick. <Did you quarantine this fish before you put him into your tank?> Its nose seems to be pointing down at the bottom of the tank at a fairly steep angle. I looked over all you disease charts and couldn't find any other symptoms matching this. Could the fish still be adjusting to the tank? <How long has it been head standing? Five days should be sufficient to adjust to new surroundings. This kind of behavior could be indicative of a swim bladder problem, or be something caused by inadequate diet or water quality problems.> I have a 15 gallon hex aquarium containing 3 small Cherry Barbs 1 male Betta 3 Serpae Tetras 2 Bala sharks (other seems to be fine) 1 rainbow shark all the rest of the fish seem to be fine <That makes me think this was something the fish had before you got it... I would pull the sick fish immediately and put him in a quarantine tank. If you're concerned about him getting stressed from being alone in the tank, get a couple of small mirrors and put those against the glass on the outside of the tank. You'll need to do *daily* water changes to keep the water quality good. (And that's going to be particularly important, since the fish's problem could have been caused by poor water quality at the fish store.) Feed all of your fish a good quality food, one that's enriched with extra vitamins.> is this to many fish to have in a 15 gallon hex? (I know that this tank is to small to house the 2 balas but they are small and I will be moving them as soon as I get my 55 gallon up) <I would move the rainbow shark along with the balas. After that, you should be okay. With all the bottom feeders gone from the tank, though, I'd recommend getting a few ghost shrimp -- the clear/white shrimp usually sold as feeders -- to help with the janitorial duties.> The tank is filtered by a bio-wheel power-filter filter which I have recently replaced the cartridge. <I generally rinse out the cartridges every week or so, and replace them when it's no longer possible to get all the gunk out of the blue filter material.> also I recently did a major water change about 2 weeks ago (over 50%) because I read in the book that you should do a major water change every 6 months to a year, is this true and could that be the problem? <Hmmm. I've never heard of this major water change schedule idea. I do hope you're doing water changes every other week, rather than just every six months... smaller, more frequent water changes are better than less frequent large water changes. --Ananda> Greg Vanos

Bala Shark I have recently put a Bala shark into my tank (about 5 days ago) to accompany the previous one I have because I heard they get over stressed sometimes while alone, <Sometimes> but I am starting to think it may be getting sick. Its nose seems to be pointing down at the bottom of the tank at a fairly steep angle. <Also not unnatural, particularly in too-small settings> I looked over all you disease charts and couldn't find any other symptoms matching this. Could the fish still be adjusting to the tank? <Yes> I have a 15 gallon hex aquarium containing <... this tank is too small for this species... it gets about as long as this aquarium is wide...> 3 small Cherry Barbs 1 male Betta 3 Serpae Tetras 2 Bala sharks (other seems to be fine) 1 rainbow shark all the rest of the fish seem to be fine is this to many fish to have in a 15 gallon hex? <Mmm, just the Bala's should be moved. The Rainbow Shark may go after the Betta in time> (I know that this tank is to small to house the 2 balas but they are small and I will be moving them as soon as I get my 55 gallon up) <Ah, good> The tank is filtered by a bio-wheel power-filter filter which I have recently replaced the cartridge. also I recently did a major water change about 2 weeks ago (over 50%) because I read in the book that you should do a major water change every 6 months to a year, is this true and could that be the problem? <Possibly. I would hold off unless it's a dire emergency in doing any more than about a 25% water change... and then use water that was treated and stored for a week or more. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm Bob Fenner> Greg Vanos

Diseased Bala Shark >Hi, >>Hello! >I hope you guys can help me!   >>Me too. >I have a very sick looking Bala shark and don't know what else to do for it.   >>That's why we're here. >Here's the situation: I have an 18 gallon tank that has been doing very well for about seven months.  I'm using an undergravel filter and have lots of healthy plants in the tank.   >Current fish in the tank:   2 Bala sharks (largest one is about 8cm and looking very healthy - the smaller one's sick) 2 Clown loaches (fat and healthy) 1 Bristlenose catfish 2 Serpae tetras 9 black neon tetras 2 male dwarf Gourami 1 female dwarf Gourami 3 gold long-finned Danios All of these fish seem to be very healthy. But my poor shark:  It started with red streaks on the fins, then progressed to what looks like velvet all over its body and stiff fins.  The shark is still eating well and behaving normally.  I tried using Waterlife Protozin (protozoacide/fungicide) for the four day treatment - half dose because of the loaches.  But it's now a week later and there is no improvement (slightly worse! :-() >>Right.  Sounds as though he had a primary bacterial infection which left him susceptible to the velvet.   >I have checked ammonia, nitrate, pH - all is fine.  Temperature is stable at 26 degrees (78 degrees Fahrenheit?) What else can I do??  Should I try the medication again? Hoping you can help.  Amanda. >>Right, well, I would put him in his own hospital tank.  This doesn't need to be large at all, or even a fish tank, per se.  A container that is chemically inert (non-metal), of around 5-10 gallons, that you can put a small heater in would suffice.  Then, I would put him on Melafix or Spectrogram (both broad spectrum antibiotics), with the addition of Kosher (pure) salt at the ratio of 1tsp/gal.  The salt both helps the fish deal with the stress of osmotic pressure and seems to boost the effects of antibiotics. >>Please search our library here--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm for more information, and check these next two links--they're charts on medications, uses, and dosages. here--> http://www.petswarehouse.com/Fishmed3.htm >>And here--> http://www.petswarehouse.com/Fishmed2.htm >>Hopefully this is of some help.  Marina

Help Bala shark with ich   4/8/06 Hi my name's Brandy.  I have a  ten gallon tank set up for 4 months now and was running smoothly.  Ammonia is 0 ppm nitrate is less than 5.0 ppm. <Good> I haven't been testing for nitrite or ph.  I have an outbreak of ich which I treated today with Super Ich Cure by API.  My tank had aquarium salt added a few weeks ago.  The problem is that when I added the treatment for the ich on of my balas stopped swimming. <Yes... is rather toxic... BTW, this minnow-shark species needs to ultimately be in a much larger system> He is still breathing, but lying upside-down on the bottom of the tank or on a plant (fake btw). <Yikes... very bad.>   I am not sure what I can do for him at this point. <If it were me/mine, I would add some activated carbon to your filter, flow path... to remove the "medicine" quick...>   I vacuumed the gravel and did a 30% water change because I was afraid that he would get more infested if I waited. <Good move> I would like to try a salt dip, but don't want to push him over the edge.  I have a  3 blue pearl danios, a Cory cat, a small pleco, and two balas.  Every one else is fine only the balas have ich I think.  I do know how (now) big they get and was planning on moving them into my 38 gallon this weekend, but alas the ick struck!  Thanks for all your help! <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm I would only use half-doses of Malachite Green on "sharks", small Characoids, catfishes... and elevated temperature to treat ich. Bob Fenner> Bala Shark deformed mouth - 03/11/2006 Hi... great web site but I could not find the answer to this question I have a Bala shark for almost a year now.. very healthy... today I noticed his mouth is staying open ..have never seen this before... he cannot close it for some reason... help... thanks Keith Brown <Mmm, might be that your dissolved oxygen is just low (increasing aeration should solve this), but there are instances of genetic problems with this species (where the mouth develops in a warped fashion), and the possibility that the animal was damaged physically (they are "great" jumpers...). Bob Fenner> Bloody Bala? - 03/08/2005 Hi Crew, I have looked over your website, but have not seen anything that can answer my question. I appreciate your help. <We'll do what we can, then!> One of my Bala Sharks, has a top fin that  is completely red, not red streaks.  I didn't notice any red on it yesterday but today the whole fin is as red as a tomato.  The Bala seems to be ok otherwise, eating and such. I am wondering if this could be in relation to my plants.   <Mm, it is likelier that this is an injury....  physical damage.  Look towards aggressive tankmates, possible "danger" zones in the tank....> My swords, seem to not be very healthy, Browning and rotting on the tips.   <Many, many things could cause this; it is likely not related to the bala's problem; however, poor water quality or other such factors would affect both fish and plants.> Nitrates, Nitrites, ph, all, are within safe ranges. <Mm, "safe" isn't necessarily "safe"....  Test again, with good, liquid reagent test kits (not dipstick-type strips), and be certain that ammonia and nitrite are ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.> Temp is around 78-80.  Thank you for your time and advice, Paige <At this point, I would observe closely the behaviour of this fish and his tankmates, and see if you can find any possible cause for injury.  It may be worthwhile to consider a quarantine tank if the animal's health begins to decline, or if the fin begins to show signs of infection.  All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Bala Shark Behavior/Ick... troubles  1/16/06 Hello,   <Hi there>   I have had 2 Bala sharks for about a week now, and they seem active,  it's just that they are constantly running up and down the left side of  my fish tank (20g) as if they are crazy seeing their reflections or  something. Is there something wrong? I have never heard of this!   <I have... not atypical at all... BTW: This tank is about as long as this species grows to...>   Also, last night before i turned the aquarium light off, all of my fish  (2 balas, one female and one male swordtail, and 6 zebra danios) seemed  to be doing fine. But this morning, (so unfortunate!!) one of my zebras  had died, and the male swordtail had died. The male had apparently died  from ick (which showed no signs the night before) and the ick has now  spread to one of my other danios and the female swordtail. I treated  the tank with ick treatment capsules, <Ingredients?> and i also quarantined the two  sick fish separately with treatment. Was this the right thing to do? <... Please see WWM re FW ich... need to raise temperature, assure that the medication used isn't absorbed otherwise...> If  my two sick fish make it through the ick, how long after they seem  better should i add them to my main fish tank again?   <Mmm, your system "has" the ich...>   I have also heard that ick is caused by sudden stress level or sudden  temperature changes in your fish tank. <Often, yes, these are the two principal factors> My temperature has stayed at 78  degrees since I have set up the tank a week and a half ago, <... is this tank cycled?> and the  fish in my tank seem to give each other no problems at all. I'm a  little confused, and frustrated. Any help you could give me would be  awesome.      Thanks, Jaime <Please see WWM (and quick) re Biological Cycling, Testing as well. Bob Fenner> My Tri- Colored Shark might be constipated! Forget that prairie stuffing, here comes Mongo! And high ammonia, nitrite, mis-mixed tropicals and goldfish, and likely poor nutrition and maintenance 10/16/05 <<Or!  Someone went on a titling spree.>> I have a fresh water aquarium. In my tank I have 4 Gouramis: 2 of which are dwarf Gouramis, 1 Pictus catfish, two large Gold Fish and one small Goldfish  <Mmm, are misplaced together... the tropicals need to be in a separate system, circumstances (water quality, temperature) than the goldfish> (we had them left over from a 10 gallon tank and are very healthy), and 1Tri Color shark (occasionally some feeding fish for the catfish no more than 4 at a time). <Not smart... see WWM re> I test the water every week sometimes every two weeks my last reading was Ph 7.2 High Ph 7.8 Ammonia 4.0 ppm (high) <Deadly toxic> Nitrite .25 ppm (high) Nitrate 0 ppm (low) Reading last week gave me all good results. Aside from some elevated results I have noticed that My Tri Colored shark has a really large belly and after feeding the fish and hour later or so I would see all the other fish at some point or the other with a trail of poop, all except the tri color shark. Over night I notice that his belly continues to get larger and larger.  Please help he is a beautiful shark, I don't know what to do to help this little guy get some relief. He hasn't been sluggish or anything he is still very active swimming all around the aquarium very fast. What can I do to help him. Thanks Julie <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm and the linked files above... You should stop feeding period, change your water out per WWM daily till the ammonia is below 1.0 ppm... and ASAPractical secure separate quarters for your goldfish, adequate filtration... Bob Fenner> 

Chlorine Problems 8/5/05 Hello, First time participating in a web based FYI session.  I thought I would send along my experience with the Bala swimming inverted (simulating an infected swim bladder) and listless with heavy breathing and sometimes they dart in all directions. I have lost about 2 dozen fish in my experience and would like to share what I found.  I came across your page searching for albino Labeo chrysophekadion since I have a 16-18 year old fish and thought I would start searching for companions.  Anyhow,  I had 8 Bala's all around the 7-9 inch size in a tank which was fueled by well water.  I moved to city water and within the first two water changes lost all of them to toxic poisoning.  I change my water once every 2 - 4 weeks and about 1/3 to 1/2 the water at a time.  They were in a 70 gallon tank. This occurred 7 seven years ago and with experimentation and scientific methods I noticed it was mostly related to the chlorine levels in the supply water.  My pattern was that I restocked the Bala's in spring and every winter they would expire to poisoning.  Throughout the past seven years a water softener was added to minimize some of the incoming toxins, and to a point it did make a difference.  I found out that the cities water department was increasing their chlorine levels in the water supply for a failing pump and well.  Last summer the pump was replaced and I have had no casualties since when executing a water change.  I found out that silver scaled fish are more susceptible to toxic poisoning so I suppose that Arowana's and Silver Dollars are in this category also. I do take precautions when preparing to change my water especially in the winter. The city engineer reminded me that the chlorine levels will stay higher in colder temperatures since it doesn't have a chance to "burn off".  So when changing water in late November to the end of March I never change more than a 1/3 of water unless my chlorine test strip (made by Jungle) assures me that the level is safe.  I noticed that a lot of Bala Shark discussion occurs on the page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwshkfaqs.htm and I think that Chlorine Levels (especially from government water supplies instead of private wells) could be the culprit.  Hope my experiences help and maybe provides longer lives for the sharks in the hobbyist tanks. Robert < We will pass this along so others may learn from your experiences.-Chuck>

Bala shark prob., environmental disease/poisoning My problem is with a Bala shark. I got two sharks about 2 weeks ago. I had been having some water problems, did a big partial change, <How big?> added BioSpira, and had water rechecked. Water was better, with the nitrates going from more than 250 to 200, and the nitrites are still high at 12. However, the ammonia is okay at 0.5, <?! Not okay... should be zero. Do not add livestock to an uncycled system...> and the buffering is good at 90. My Ph as of today is 7. My last Bala died before I started correcting my problem. The pet store said not to change my water for 4 weeks after adding BioSpira. My problem is this Bala, it has a cloudy eye, is breathing rapidly and color is a bit pale. I fear the worst is going to happen. The other Bala I got is okay. I got these two after my second water check. All other fish, angel fish, catfish, different tetras are all okay. What do I do? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner>

Tri color sharks I have three tri color sharks and recently I have noticed that one is bright red around his fins and is spotting. I have only noticed it on one and it's behavior has been a little weird also he opens and closes his mouth rapidly. If you have any idea what it could be please e-mail me back or if you know where I could find an answer. thank you, Frank  >> Not a good sign... generally this appearance is attributed to poor water quality or a trauma (these big minnows are big jumpers as you know, will know)... with septicemia, petecchia resulting (bloody markings as you relate). What I would do? A large water change, and add a teaspoon of non-iodized salt per ten gallons (just once, it doesn't go away, except with water changes), and hope for the best. This is a tough species, and if the specimen has hurt itself, it will almost assuredly heal. Bob Fenner

Frogs and Bala sharks I recently began a small semi aggressive community of fish and aquatic frogs (2). After about 2 months, I am experiencing some problems with my tank. The frogs are faring just fine, but I am having problems keeping a Bala shark alive. I have gone through two now. The only other fish in the 2.5gallon tank is a Betta fish and he seemed to get along fine with the balas. I am aware that stress from the 2 albino African clawed frogs could have caused the shark's demise, but I am believe it had something to do with the water quality. It has become cloudy and foamy.  I used spring water that I treated before I put the fish in and I clean the tank monthly, using Aquasafe as a water conditioner.  Recently, the water took on a pungent, stale odor and became cloudy. I tried cleaning the tank and the cloudiness continued. A few days later, the surface of the water started frothing (or foaming) in front of the filter and circulating around the tank. My first question is: what causes this foaming and what can I do to alleviate it before it kills another of my fish? The 2nd Bala died yesterday 2 days after the foam started and the first one died almost immediately after purchase. The second question is: Is it wrong to keep those three species together?  Was the stress level too high for the Bala? My third question is: Even though these are small fish in a small tank with a filter, do I need a larger tank or perhaps an aerator? Thank you for any assistance you can provide.  Sincerely, Lauren >>>Hi Lauren, A few things. First it is generally not wise to keep herps and fish in the same system unless it's properly designed to accommodate them. Especially in such a small system. Second, what kind of filter do you have? When you say you clean the tank monthly, what exactly do you mean? Do you empty it an strip it down? Third, Bala sharks get HUGE, and are active and nervous fish. 2.5 gallons is too small *in the extreme* for this species. Long term, 55 gallon minimum. Without any other info, my advice would be to get a larger tank for your fish, and leave the frogs in the 2.5. Get a good hang-on BioWheel filter or a canister filter, and DO NOT break the tank down when you clean it. Any filter pads and such need to rinsed in water from the tank to avoid killing the bacteria in the filter. Jim<<<

Bala shark prob., environmental disease/poisoning My problem is with a Bala shark. I got two sharks about 2 weeks ago. I had been having some water problems, did a big partial change, <How big?> added BioSpira, and had water rechecked. Water was better, with the nitrates going from more than 250 to 200, and the nitrites are still high at 12. However, the ammonia is okay at 0.5, <?! Not okay... should be zero. Do not add livestock to an uncycled system...> and the buffering is good at 90. My Ph as of today is 7. My last Bala died before I started correcting my problem. The pet store said not to change my water for 4 weeks after adding BioSpira. My problem is this Bala, it has a cloudy eye, is breathing rapidly and color is a bit pale. I fear the worst is going to happen. The other Bala I got is okay. I got these two after my second water check. All other fish, angel fish, catfish, different tetras are all okay. What do I do? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner>

Sick Bala Shark We have a Bala shark about 10" long who has started swimming up side down and laying on the bottom of the tank all of a sudden.  Any suggestions? Thanks in advance John Sutherland <Yes... either move this fish NOW or change a very large part of its water... something is very wrong... with your water quality likely... Unless it rammed its head but good! Bob Fenner> 

Re: Sick Bala Shark Unfortunately the fish expired. We did a 20% water change and a double dose of Cycle but it didn't help. For some reason after a water change the Nitrates went through he roof. The other fish seem OK. Thanks for your quick reply though. John <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Tight Tank Dear WetWebMedia Crew, I have lost three Bala sharks (out of five)- two just suddenly died with no signs of illness, and with the third death the only sign was a slight reddening on the lower fins and very slightly above one eye. Now another Bala has developed this red colouring to its two lower and one upper fin. Can you tell me what this is, and advise me on how to treat it, please? The tank is approx. 80 liters, and contains four Bristlenose catfish, four blue Gourami, three black angelfish, one Redtail shark and several breeding snails (although the breeding has stopped in the past eight weeks, prior to this the breeding was prolific). Last week we added a second filter, a BioWheel, to our primary filter and we vacuum and change the water irregularly but on an average of every four weeks. These fish have lived happily together for the last eight months and the only fish we seem to lose are the Bala sharks (which upsets my husband as they're his favorites). Robyn Johnsen <Your problems are stocking levels and general water maintenance. You have far too many fish in this tank. To maintain good water quality with this many fish, in this size tank, would require a stream being diverted through it! If you want to keep Bala Sharks you need to upgrade to at least a 55 gallon tank. Same for the Angelfish. The Redtail may be OK for now, but will become very aggressive as he matures. Not good in a small tank. And four Bristlenose? Find three a new home unless you plan to upgrade.  That leaves you with the 4 Blue Gourami, the Redtail, and a Bristlenose. About your limit. Then you must do more frequent water changes, always with a gravel vac. About 50%, once a week. Your Bala Sharks problem is known as bacterial hemorrhagic septicemia. Usually caused by poor water quality, especially high nitrates. Getting the water pristine will help. Oxytetracycline may be needed, but they will have to be treated in a hospital tank. Using a med in the main tank will nuke the beneficial bacteria your are trying to get established on that Bio Wheel. That will result in ammonia spikes and compound your problems. Don> 

Bala shark question I have 3 Bala sharks, and I noticed last week the dorsal fin on one of them has started turning pinkish red, and now the other two also have it.  Do you have suggestions to what is wrong with my fish, and ways to help them out? Jennifer <Good observation... reddening can be an indication of infectious disease... and/or environmental complaint... which is almost always the direct cause of such infections... I would check your pH, ammonia... and more importantly, change a good part of your water (25%) or so every three days... and see if this improves your fish's health. Bob Fenner>

Bala shark twitching Hello We have a 29 gallon tank with one Bala shark, 3 painted tetras, 6 zebras, 1 baby angel, 1 rainbow, 1 gourami, 3 green cobra guppies, 3 red swords and 2 Cory cats.  Problem: Bala has been twitching since we got him 3 weeks now. We never see him eat- flakes so far. Now he is occasionally swimming nose down. Any suggestions?  smiley <Mmm, try different foods... this minnow shark is social, does like and require larger quarters when it's bigger, but rarely refuses food... Likely it is just unfamiliar with the format you are offering... try some frozen/defrosted meaty foods or live. Bob Fenner>

Tight Tank Dear WetWebMedia Crew, I have lost three Bala sharks (out of five)- two just suddenly died with no signs of illness, and with the third death the only sign was a slight reddening on the lower fins and very slightly above one eye. Now another Bala has developed this red colouring to its two lower and one upper fin. Can you tell me what this is, and advise me on how to treat it, please? The tank is approx. 80 liters, and contains four Bristlenose catfish, four blue Gourami, three black angelfish, one Redtail shark and several breeding snails (although the breeding has stopped in the past eight weeks, prior to this the breeding was prolific). Last week we added a second filter, a BioWheel, to our primary filter and we vacuum and change the water irregularly but on an average of every four weeks. These fish have lived happily together for the last eight months and the only fish we seem to lose are the Bala sharks (which upsets my husband as they're his favorites). Robyn Johnsen <Your problems are stocking levels and general water maintenance. You have far too many fish in this tank. To maintain good water quality with this many fish, in this size tank, would require a stream being diverted through it! If you want to keep Bala Sharks you need to upgrade to at least a 55 gallon tank. Same for the Angelfish. The Redtail may be OK for now, but will become very aggressive as he matures. Not good in a small tank. And four Bristlenose? Find three a new home unless you plan to upgrade.  That leaves you with the 4 Blue Gourami, the Redtail, and a Bristlenose. About your limit. Then you must do more frequent water changes, always with a gravel vac. About 50%, once a week. Your Bala Sharks problem is known as bacterial hemorrhagic septicemia. Usually caused by poor water quality, especially high nitrates. Getting the water pristine will help. Oxytetracycline may be needed, but they will have to be treated in a hospital tank. Using a med in the main tank will nuke the beneficial bacteria your are trying to get established on that Bio Wheel. That will result in ammonia spikes and compound your problems. Don> 

Bala Shark Behavior/Ick... troubles  1/16/06 Hello,   <Hi there>   I have had 2 Bala sharks for about a week now, and they seem active,  it's just that they are constantly running up and down the left side of  my fish tank (20g) as if they are crazy seeing their reflections or  something. Is there something wrong? I have never heard of this!   <I have... not atypical at all... BTW: This tank is about as long as this species grows to...>   Also, last night before i turned the aquarium light off, all of my fish  (2 balas, one female and one male swordtail, and 6 zebra danios) seemed  to be doing fine. But this morning, (so unfortunate!!) one of my zebras  had died, and the male swordtail had died. The male had apparently died  from ick (which showed no signs the night before) and the ick has now  spread to one of my other danios and the female swordtail. I treated  the tank with ick treatment capsules, <Ingredients?> and i also quarantined the two  sick fish separately with treatment. Was this the right thing to do? <... Please see WWM re FW ich... need to raise temperature, assure that the medication used isn't absorbed otherwise...> If  my two sick fish make it through the ick, how long after they seem  better should i add them to my main fish tank again?   <Mmm, your system "has" the ich...>   I have also heard that ick is caused by sudden stress level or sudden  temperature changes in your fish tank. <Often, yes, these are the two principal factors> My temperature has stayed at 78  degrees since I have set up the tank a week and a half ago, <... is this tank cycled?> and the  fish in my tank seem to give each other no problems at all. I'm a  little confused, and frustrated. Any help you could give me would be  awesome.      Thanks, Jaime <Please see WWM (and quick) re Biological Cycling, Testing as well. Bob Fenner>

Tri color sharks I have three tri color sharks and recently I have noticed that one is bright red around his fins and is spotting. I have only noticed it on one and it's behavior has been a little weird also he opens and closes his mouth rapidly. If you have any idea what it could be please e-mail me back or if you know where I could find an answer. thank you, Frank  >> Not a good sign... generally this appearance is attributed to poor water quality or a trauma (these big minnows are big jumpers as you know, will know)... with septicemia, petecchia resulting (bloody markings as you relate). What I would do? A large water change, and add a teaspoon of non-iodized salt per ten gallons (just once, it doesn't go away, except with water changes), and hope for the best. This is a tough species, and if the specimen has hurt itself, it will almost assuredly heal. Bob Fenner

Jumping Bala shark? 7/11/05 Our shark is leaping out of our 55 gallon tank and swimming erratically. <Something's amiss with water quality... or stray electricity> We had to separate him from the other fish in the tank. he is listless and moves very little in his new space but is 'calmer'. Any ideas why he would be shifting color (from dark to light) and hanging vertically in the tank? <As stated, something is wrong here... I would check your water for chemistry and electrical leak. Bob Fenner>

Can fish be epileptic? Yes...  Schreckstoffes and Bala Sharks, other Ostariophysian Fishes   8/3/06 Hi Guys      I hope you can help me because I have a fish who has always behaved oddly but is getting worse.        My partner and I inherited a 90 litre tank with too many fish in it, two of which were Bala sharks.  We have recently upgraded this to a 180 litre tank.  The larger of the two Bala sharks has always been a bit skittish and nervous, <This is the species natural behavior... can be lessened in degree with lots of room, placement of home in a high/er traffic area, the use of plants, other decor they can "hide in">   not liking it when anyone approached the glass and only eating when he thought no one was looking, something we put down to his not having enough room in his original home, but he has been getting worse lately.    <Oh... perhaps something further...>   We have seen on a few occasions that he seems to have fits as well as being nervous.  He shakes and thrashes about as would an epileptic human, and than goes very still.  The first time this happened we thought he had died and very nearly flushed him.  Then he started moving again, but upside down, so we were still tempted to freeze him because we thought that he had permanently damaged himself.  After a bit he righted himself but seemed to rather sluggish.  Slowly he came back to being the Big Silv that we know and love, but this has happened again to lesser extents a few times subsequently.        If the only issue was that he has fits we would just leave him to it, since his quality of life when not fitting seems to be ok and he does not appear to stress out his tank mates, but he injures himself.  He has not recently had a fit that either of us has seen and seems perfectly happy in his new home as far as his personal parameters allow him to be.  The water is fine and all of his tank mates are healthy.  As far as we can tell he does not have hole in the head disease and as we have had him for about a year now, we assume that this disease would have killed him by now if that was the case. <Mmm, there is a good explanation...>      He regularly rips his fins and knocks scales off of himself, but the worst of it is that he repeatedly injures his nose (and occasionally one eye) on the glass ledge or the gravel.  Because he is so jumpy (frequently out of the tank jumpy) he never allows this time to heal and it is really ragged now.      So, my questions:  Is it possible that he has fishy epilepsy? <Much more likely this is a "fright contagion"> Is it possible that he has permanently damaged his brain either in a fit or in one of his nervous jumps?   <Possibly> Is there anything we can do about this without poisoning the others? <Yes> Is there anything we can do to help his nose to heal given that we have to approach the tank to feed them all and operate their light?   <Best to allow this to self-cure rather than getting involved in possibly poisoning your whole system, all livestock> Is this a doomed fish or are we doing the right thing in trying to maintain his quality of life as best we can in the circumstances? <Not likely doomed>     Please help because he would be a great loss to us and we would really like to help him to be healthier, happier and longer lived.      Many Thanks   Fran <Thank you for writing so well, completely, compassionately. I suspect that this minnow shark is involved in a situation where it has damaged its skin, releasing a chemical or few that is continuing to mal-affect its behavior. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FrightChemsFWArt.htm and the linked FAQs file above... I would add a modicum of activated carbon in your filter/flow path here in attempt to filter out this/these materials. Bob Fenner>

Bala sharks... sys., dis.   8/18/06 <<Hello. Tom here.>> I have a fifty-five gallon freshwater tank that is three years old and stable. I'm having a heck of a time introducing new Bala Sharks. I've got a healthy one in the tank that is over two years old but when I introduce new ones the new fish develop white scales and their eyes fog over. Temp. is 82 degrees and the PH is 6.8. Everyone else seems happy except the lonely shark. Any ideas? <<Strikes me as an acclimation issue, Bill. Have you asked your shark source as to what their parameters are? If your two-year-old is doing well, I suspect that you're introducing the new ones too quickly into an environment they aren't ready for. Far less likely a problem with temperature than it is with the pH. Get this information from the store and I'll bet you'll discover what the problem is.>> I used Mela fix to help but to no avail. <<Not likely to be at all effective if the cause is pH shock. Tom>>

Bala shark not swimming well, 2's a Crowd!  8/21/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My Bala Shark is around 6 inches long and she is in a tank that is too small for her along with another, smaller shark. I knew when I bought her (about a year ago) that this would happen but didnt expect it so quick. I have recently bought a much bigger tank that I know she will be happy in but she has begun to develop problems in the small tank. She is swimming vertically nose up and appears to be struggling to reach the top. I havent seen her eat in a while either. I have treated the tank with Myaxin but to no avail. The nitrites in the tank are zero but the nitrates are very high.  Have tried a couple of 25% water changes and she seems to like the new water for an hour or so. The new tank is two days old and cycling with five Buenos Aires tetras and obviously, the water parameters are good for now! I know shell love the extra space as the tank she is in right now is narrow and deep 2x 2x 1. The new tank is 4 long and much better for her. Im afraid she will stress herself to death before she sees the new tank and I have done what I can for her in the old one. Should I move her to the new tank now or will that definitely kill her? <I would absolutely put the shark into the larger tank ASAP!  If you live in the USA you can purchase Bio-Spira to instant cycle your tank & move all your fish in there.  If not, just move the suffering fish in there (remove the tetras) & continue to test the water daily, doing water changes accordingly, to keep toxic ammonia & nitrites down.  If you are having nitrate troubles in the other tank, much larger water changes (up to 80%) are necessary.  You may be overfeeding.  ~PP>



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