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FAQs About Clown Loach Health/Disease

Related Articles: Loaches, Dojos/WeatherfishA New Look At Loaches By Neale Monks,

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Clown Loach Choked To Death     10/31/19
Hi, I have a, hopefully, simple question. Unfortunately, I lost one of my 15 clown loach school this evening. This clown loach was just over a year old and apparently choked to death on one of the ghost shrimp added to the tank several hours before. I know this to be true because by penlight, magnifying glass and tweezers I pulled a deceased ghost shrimp from the deceased clown loach's mouth. I've been stocking ghost shrimp (30 to 50 at a time) into my tank for the past year or so to keep the South American Puffers happy and entertained so they don't nip the Cory's fins or attempt to pick on one of the clown loach (a dangerous undertaking because if you pick on one, you pick on them all apparently.) This has been working quite well and my tank has been completely harmonious until the poor clown died
choked to death on a shrimp. So my question is: am I ok to continue with adding ghost shrimp to the tank? Is this a freak 'just one of those things' accidents or are clown loach choking on shrimp a more common occurrence?
Thanks so much for any knowledge you can pass my way. Carolyn
<Hi Carolyn. This does sound like a freak misadventure, though I would keep an open mind about the cause of death -- fish don't really 'choke' because the place where food gets processed is in the throat (what we call the pharyngeal jaws) which lie behind the gill openings. So the gill cavity is really more of a big open space with the opercula on either side, and while food may get stuck in the pharynx for a while, it shouldn't interfere with the flow of water in through the mouth or out through the opercula. This
isn't to say something like choking is impossible, but rather that it is very rare, and requires the fish to do something very stupid, such as consume dangerous prey (a spiny fish for example) or a solid lump too big for its pharyngeal teeth to grind up. Now, there is a risk here with perhaps adding too many shrimps, or shrimps that are too large to safely process, as a way of getting your South American Puffers to behave. I'd perhaps handle this a different way. SAPs are mostly surface explorers, so floating plants are really good for this, and they appreciate ample swimming space. In a sufficiently large tank for adult Clown Loaches, by which I mean something like 100 gallons or so for a small group, and two or three times that for 15 Clowns, I'd rely on depth and benthic hiding places (such as hollow logs) to keep them safe. Clowns can easily swim fast enough to avoid trouble, and in sufficient numbers, a small group of SAPs shouldn't be persecuting any single specimen. I have kept SAPs with Cherry Fin Loaches, without major problems, but hungry or bored SAPs can be nippy, even if they lack the aggression of some pufferfish species. Floating plant roots give the SAPs something to explore where the Clowns don't go, so could help, especially alongside a floating bloodworm dispenser or similar to occupy the SAPs throughout the day. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Clown Loach Choked To Death     11/1/19

Hi, again and thanks, Neale, for the quick response.
I had wondered about the fish's gill/throat/respiration anatomy and the ability to literally choke to death. I did notice one of the deceased clown's eye looked odd in death but didn't place any real importance on it.
It is possible that it may have taken a spine to the eye if the group was scrumming for that particular shrimp. I would assume an accidental spine to the eye would usually result in rapid death?
<I would imagine so!>
The clowns and the SAP's are all young, just over a year old or so and purchased at barely an inch. I ended up with so many clowns because they were all together at the LFS and the way they shoaled was just amazing. I had never seen shoaling clown loach before the way LFSs stock small numbers of them. I figured I would have to deal with white spot (which, luckily, I did not) and have some natural attrition (which I also did not.) I'm quite fond of my clown school and a bit proud of the fact I've had no fish loss
so the clown's death is distressing me. (Full disclosure, I lost one of the SAP trio from banging into the tank lid chasing a Cory cat to the surface.
That SAP was so mean and so predatory that I and the tank felt relieved at the mishap and don't really count him in the numbers.)
<SAPs will nip at Corydoras, though genuinely aggressive SAPs are rare.
Will direct you to some reading, here:
Arguably, the species is best kept in groups but away from other species. I kept mine with Carinotetraodon irrubesco, a similar-sized pufferfish that stays close to the substrate. But the general advice, and certainly the safest, is keep a group on their own.>
They are currently in a 55 gallon tank while I've been saving and planning for a custom 150 gallon corner tank (due to room space limitations) which I should have the beginning of the new year. Assuming successful fish keeping over the next 10 years, I know I will need to double that tank size.
The tank is set up with plenty of driftwood, hollows, and hides, as well as, live plants on the sand bottom and a large artificial floating plant at the surface where the majority of the shrimp like to stay. Twice weekly water changes keeps the nitrates in check for my currently overstocked tank with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites and I test at least twice weekly. I will be relieved to move everyone into a larger, more appropriate tank size.
<As will they!>
Anyway, the puffers definitely prefer to search for the shrimp at the surface as you described.
<Yep. This can be useful for feeding them, e.g., with prawn or white fish fillet smeared into pumice stones. The stones may even help to wear their teeth down a bit.>
The puffers are certainly not predatory to the clowns or Cory cats in the tank but will certainly attempt to fin nip any unsuspecting tank mate when bored or move obsessively along the glass of the tank. I've found that adding in only 10 shrimp creates a shrimp 'massacre.' I've noticed that the large quantity of shrimp seems a little overwhelming and distracting for the puffers (they scare me when they glut on so many shrimp they are bloated and can only move listlessly along the bottom.) The shrimp seem to
be helping to keep their teeth down as well as I've yet to do dentistry and they're over a year old. I'm wondering why would adding too many shrimp at one time not be ok? Is it a bio load issue?
<Yes; and in any case, shrimp (and mussels) should collectively make up no more than one-third their diet. Shrimp, mussels, and a few other commonly used foods contain a chemical called thiaminase that breaks down vitamin B1. Over recent years, aquarists and reptile keepers have become aware that
many mysterious failures with carnivorous fish and reptiles may be due to thiaminase deficiency. So thiaminase-free foods should make up the majority of the diet to avoid this; such foods as cockles, earthworms, and most types of white fish fillet including Pollack and tilapia. Squid may or may not be good depending on the species.
So while frozen shrimp are popular, they should be used sparingly. Live shrimp are 'safe' if gut-loaded beforehand, but should otherwise be treated like frozen shrimp and used as treats rather than staples.>
Thanks again, Neale! And sorry for the book! Carolyn
<Not a problem. Cheers, Neale.>

Clown loach coloration issue        3/29/19
I own one clown loach that has been living in my aquarium for the past 20yrs.
Two month ago we relocated to a new house. I abandoned my old aquarium of 350L and got a smaller one of 180L due to space restrictions. All the fish are fine and had no issues until last week. I started noticing that the clown loach behavior is not as usual, not eating and losing his colors pigmentation on his body and fins.
I don't want to lose it after such a long time.
I'm desperate for any help
<My instinctive reaction here is something like Hexamita, or some other protozoan infection similar to Hole In The Head disease as seen in cichlids. That being the case, a combination of Metronidazole alongside an antibiotic (Nitrofurans are often recommended) would be the usual treatment. Any such treatment would need to be alongside optimising living conditions. The smaller size of your tank could easily be the problem here.
Clown Loaches react badly to high nitrate levels, and in a smaller tank nitrate levels would rise quicker than in the bigger aquarium. Could I also suggest you post at Loaches.com. They're a great place for loach-specific help, and have a free online forum. Cheers, Neale.>

Need advice for very old clown loach; HLLE?      2/25/17
I recently moved my 20 year old clown loach to a new larger aquarium. He was healthy and happy in my 29 gallon ( I know, way too small for a clown) I had hoped to rehome him as he is the lone survivor from a larger tank many years ago.
Because I could find no suitable home, I got a 55 gallon to give him and his angelicas Botia buddies more room ( I do not have room for a larger tank).
<Also understood. While not ideal, there are plenty of Clowns that have lived good lives in 55-gallon tanks, provided water quality is good.>
The move was stressful for him and he does not look well. He would not eat for the first two weeks and then looked like he had hole in head disease with small pits on his face and lateral line. He appears to be eating or at least dragging food into his cave.
This morning he looks like he is developing pop eye. I cannot quarantine him as the stress of moving yet again would likely kill him.
<I agree; at least, it would be stressful and unlikely to help.>
My water parameters for the tank are: ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=40ppm, ph=7.9.
<All sounds fine.>
I’ve done a small water change and am trying some medicated food, a mix of SeaChem focus and Sulfaplex soaked in garlic guard. Any advice you can give to help me save my fish would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
<I do think you need to treat as per Hole-in-the-Head and Hexamita. Metronidazole is the drug of choice. Be sure to remove carbon and other chemical media from the filter, if used (carbon removes medicine). The pitting will heal over time, but you need to keep the fish free of secondary infections, so ensure an optimal, vitamin-rich diet (fresh greens, in particular, such as peas and Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp) alongside top-notch, oxygen-rich water. Hope this helps, Neale.>

some clown loach wont eat       5/4/16
Hello, Apart from that gold Severum i ask you just now, two of my clown loach wont eat after a few days of introducing that gold Severum.
<Usually these two species coexist well. Do review environmental conditions.
Severums and Clowns both want warm water (25-28 C/77-82 F) and neither do well in especially hard water (1-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5 is fine). Clown Loaches are especially intolerant of ammonia, nitrite and copper. Severums are, like all cichlids, intolerant of ammonia and nitrite, but high nitrate levels cause serious harm too. Both need plenty of space.
300 litres/75 US gallons would be barely adequate for a single Severum alongside two or three Clowns; and realistically, 400 litres/106 US gallons is the minimum for long-term success given the size of the adults. If
either species refused to eat, you can be 99% sure it's an environmental issue. So review, and act accordingly.>
now i have remove that gold Severum but still the two clown loach wont eat, my other fishes in that tank are fine, including the rest of the clown loaches, four of them will eat and two wont eat.
<See above.>
thank you. my clown loach that wont eat has lighter dark stripes than those who eat, is this cause by a disease? And one of it has a little red in its
nose, is it normal? thank you.
<Dark colouration on Clowns indicates stress. Red (abnormal) patches on fish indicate injury and/or inflammation. Something is WRONG here; your job is to determine/diagnose the problem. Obviously adding medication before
figuring out the problem would be pointless, and given the nature of Clown Loaches, quite possibly lethal.
Cheers, Neale.>

Very sick clown loach         12/24/15
Hi Crew!
I've just discovered one of my clown loaches is very sick. He looked fine yesterday but tonight I found him wrapped around the filter intake.
<Oh; bad>
I've moved him away from it but he looks about to draw his final breath very soon. I don't know if you can help shed any light on why.
<Let's see>
I have an established 150l tank with two other loaches, an angel, a Bristlenose Pleco and 3 phantom glass catfish. Just tested the water parameters and ammonia is 0, nitrite 0, nitrate a bit under 5ppm, ph 7.2.
Tank gets bi-weekly 25% water changes and parameters have been unchanged for years (only test every 3-6 months now). I've not added new stock for a very long time following a bad experience about 2 years ago where my tank inherited worms from my lfs (my fault for not quarantining i know). I treated the tank successfully (many thanks to the FAQs here) and the tank to my knowledge has been disease free since.
The only change I've made was this week when i added a canister filter (its a 1000l/hr one, the other is about half that) alongside my little filter in the tank. Im about to upgrade to a 250l tank and was hoping to speed up the cycling process of that by giving it a week running on the established tank.
<A good move, action>
This feels like a silly question but is there any way this has negatively affected my tank... is it possible to over-filter? Or is having the water predominantly going through an unestablished filter causing a problem?
<Shouldn't be>
Is there anything else I've missed?
<Not from what you've listed. Would like/need to know the stocking, feeding, water quality....>
Thanks for your incredible work here all. I hope you're all enjoying some quiet time with family over the holiday season.
Kind regards,
<The first guess that comes to mind is that the one loach is being bullied by others of its own species, perhaps the Ancistrus.... getting weak from too little nutrition. Bob Fenner>

Clown loach sick     11/18/14
<Howdy Laura>
I have a 2 year old clown loach. I currently have 2 mature loaches and 2 new babies. I lost one loach a week ago - he jumped out of the tank.
<Aye ya; does happen with Cobitids>
Recently one of my mature clown has started to act weird, I found him tonight on his side, breathing rapidly and acting weird. I know clowns do like to sleep on their side but mine have never done this. He is currently got part of his head in the gravel. I took 25% of the water out and increased the oxygen.
There is no sign on his body that he is sick, his colours, gills and fins are all looking normal.
<Mmm; have there been any new fish additions recently? Am wondering re the poss. of a pathogen being introduced>
My fish tank is newish - I moved them in their about 5 months ago. It is a 120LTR 4 ft tank.
I currently have an algae problem that I am trying to deal with but it keeps coming back every couple of days.
<How are you "dealing" with this? Not a chemical algicide I hope/trust. These are too toxic...>
Apart from one loach doing a leap of faith, the next day I found my 3 year old algae eater dead for no real reason - I put it down to old age.
<Mmmm; coincidence? What are your water test results? History?>
I have done all of the normal tests and they are in the normal ranges and the temp is 25 degrees Celsius.
I don't want to lose this boy, so any advice you could give me would be a lifesaver!
<Data please. Bob Fenner>
Clown loach sick    /Neale       11/18/14

I have a 2 year old clown loach. I currently have 2 mature loaches and 2 new babies. I lost one loach a week ago - he jumped out of the tank.
<Oh dear.>
Recently one of my mature clown has started to act weird, I found him tonight on his side, breathing rapidly and acting weird. I know clowns do like to sleep on their side but mine have never done this. He is currently got part of his head in the gravel. I took 25% of the water out and increased the oxygen. There is no sign on his body that he is sick, his colours, gills and fins are all looking normal.
<Clowns are social, so this could be some sort of social behaviour. If it is, it should settle down. But also be aware of environmental changes that might have caused problems. Not just the obvious ones, but also things like
copper (in your tap water, even if you haven't used a medication in a while) as these can affect Clowns.>
My fish tank is newish - I moved them in their about 5 months ago. It is a 120LTR 4 ft tank.
<Will need a bigger tank; 120 litres (30 gal.) is fine for youngsters, but adults will need 350-450 litres (90-120 gal.) at least. They get huge! So while they grow slowly, don't underestimate their final size.>
I currently have an algae problem that I am trying to deal with but it keeps coming back every couple of days.
<Do wonder if your tank is/has become unstable through over-stocking/under-filtering. Do check nitrite for example, a few times across the day, and likewise for pH. Unstable conditions frequently prompt algae problems, especially blue-green algae and diatoms. Brush algae and hair algae are more characteristic of chronic problems, such as those caused by insufficient water changes. Either/both could affect miners' canaries such as Clowns.>
Apart from one loach doing a leap of faith, the next day I found my 3 year old algae eater dead for no real reason - I put it doen to old age.
<Does depend on the age... Clowns should live at least 12-15 years, and over 20 years is far from rare.>
I have done all of the normal tests and they are in the normal ranges and the temp is 25 degrees Celsius.
<Going to direct you to some reading, here:
Clown Loaches, like most botiid loaches, are somewhat sensitive fish, and most problems with them are linked to environment rather than diet, genes or even bad luck.>
I don't want to lose this boy, so any advice you could give me would be a lifesaver!
<Well, maybe the above will help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Clown loach sick        /RMF      11/18/14

<Hello again Laura>
Yes I have introduced some new fish - after the algae eater and the loach died I decided to pick up some more clowns to keep the other two busy and social. I picked two very good looking and healthy baby loaches, the guy
at the shop through in an extra baby without me even knowing until I got home. This one was weird looking, the body was hollow, and looked stretched out, his gills were brown.
<Rats... too likely the source of your (Protozoan probably) issue>
I put him into isolation for a couple of days and then released him into the main tank. He dies the next day
unfortunately and I didn't notice the body as it was under a rock for 2 days.
Im dealing with the algae by using API - algae fix,
<STOP! Search WWM, the Net re this product. Dangerously TOXIC>

only half does and not every three days as it recommends. I have asked every shop owner around my area and they tell me it is safe to use on loaches,
<They are wrong; I assure you>
haven't had a problem wit it in 5 yrs.
I also have Kuhlis in my tank, I have had them for over 3 years and they are looking happy.
<Mmm; strange... they should be similarly affected>

I have looked for my clown but I am unable to find him.
History of the tank:
We I bought it over 8 months ago and slowly got it ready, let it mature and 5 months ago I realsed ny fist lot of fish. I check the tanks PH, nitrates, nitrites ect every week.
PH always stays around the 6 mark
<This is a bit low. Do you have another test kit you can check this against?
Barring that, I'd take a full small jar of your system water to a shop and have them test it>
Hardness test is around the 30 mark nitrate and nitrite are always zero.
<Zero NO3? Suspect>

I have a massive canister filter that is actually to big for this tank <It's almost impossible to have no nitrate at all with the use of a canister filter>
I do not have an overpopulation problem, I only have 10 fish in a four ft tank Water gets changed every week, when the algae problem hit the guy at the fish shop recommended to take 25% water out ever three days, I did that for 1 week and saw how it was affecting my fish so I did not continue.
The algae problem started about a month ago, I moved the tank to a new home ( I use the exact same water as both homes are next to each other) It is natural rain water that I have been using every since I have had fish,
I live on a farm so no chlorine could have gotten in the water. I asked the fish shop owner in my area what I could do to get rid of the algae, he gave me this "Detox" stuff that is suppose to get rid of all the toxins in the
water and introduce the right kind of bacteria into the water. I used it once and saw no improvement after a month so I haven't used it since.
<... please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Can you find the coverage on freshwater algae control?
READ there. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown loach sick    /Neale      11/18/14
Yes I have introduced some new fish - after the algae eater and the loach died I decided to pick up some more clowns to keep the other two busy and social. I picked two very good looking and healthy baby loaches, the guy
at the shop through in an extra baby without me even knowing until I got home. This one was weird looking, the body was hollow, and looked stretched out, his gills were brown. I put him into isolation for a couple
of days and then released him into the main tank. He dies the next day unfortunately and I didn't notice the body as it was under a rock for 2 days.
<Oh dear.>
Im dealing with the algae by using API - algae fix, only half does and not every three days as it recommends. I have asked every shop owner around my area and they tell me it is safe to use on loaches, haven't had a problem
wit it in 5 yrs.
<Chemicals to kill algae are largely pointless. If conditions suit the algae, they WILL grow back. It's like using a herbicide to kill weeds in your garden. Sure, they die. But they grow back in weeks, months. Better to determine the reasons for the algae problem.
Fix the problem, and the algae becomes a minor irritant at best, easily controlled with a few Nerites or similar.>
I also have Kuhlis in my tank, I have had them for over 3 years and they are looking happy.
I have looked for my clown but I am unable to find him.
<Not good. Clowns are "jumpers" so check. Small Clowns sometimes swim into caves, pipes, even filter inlets. They are also good at digging. Dead fish can/will be eaten by scavengers, often very quickly by things like Plecs
that aren't properly fed large portions of what they need, but are expected to "eat the algae" as their main source of food.>
History of the tank:
We I bought it over 8 months ago and slowly got it ready, let it mature and 5 months ago I realsed ny fist lot of fish. I check the tanks PH, nitrates, nitrites ect every week.
PH always stays around the 6 mark
<Too low.>
Hardness test is around the 30 mark
<30 mg/l (or 30 ppm)? Far too low if it is.>
nitrate and nitrite are always zero.
<I don't believe nitrate is zero.
Virtually impossible in a freshwater aquarium containing large fish, unless the tank has insane amounts of plants growing under brilliant lighting. Why am I skeptical? Because nitrate is the end product of biological filtration. Nothing in the tank, except plant growth, uses it up in appreciable quantities. So it collects and collects and collects over the days between water changes. 20, 30, 40 mg/l levels of nitrate are "normal" for aquaria kept by casual but careful aquarists; in tanks that are heavily stocked and/or receive water changes only every few weeks or months, nitrate levels are much higher, 80, 100 or even more mg/l.>
I have a massive canister filter that is actually to big for this tank
<This makes nitrate, but doesn't remove it.>

I do not have an overpopulation problem, I only have 10 fish in a four ft tank
<Your 120 litre (30 US gallon) aquarium is "medium small" in the big scheme of things. One Plec would overstock it, as would one adult Clown Loach! So while the number of fish you have might seem low, the bulk of those fish added together is not.>
Water gets changed every week, when the algae problem hit the guy at the fish shop recommended to take 25% water out ever three days, I did that for 1 week and saw how it was affecting my fish so I did not continue.
<The fact you (a) have an algae problem and (b) don't know your nitrate level implies that doing a nitrate test would be a very good idea. High nitrate levels are a common reason for algae problems.>
The algae problem started about a month ago, I moved the tank to a new home ( I use the exact same water as both homes are next to each other) It is natural rain water that I have been using every since I have had fish, I
live on a farm so no chlorine could have gotten in the water.
<What do you mix with the rainwater? I too use rainwater, but 50/50 with tap water, to get medium hard water ideal for community tanks. You must never use plain rainwater on its own. It's too soft. No minerals, no buffering potential. Explains your pH 6. Presumably you have some rocks, sand or something in there that has dissolved slightly to have raised the hardness to 30 mg/l. But it's still too low. Around 100 mg/l is about right for communities of mixed species that don't need especially soft or hard water. Remember, filters work best at neutral to basic pH (7-8) in moderately hard water (100-200 mg/l general hardness). While you can deviate from these levels for specific fish, you need to have a reason why and an understanding of the risks involved.>
I asked the fish shop owner in my area what I could do to get rid of the algae, he gave me this "Detox" stuff that is suppose to get rid of all the toxins in the water and introduce the right kind of bacteria into the water. I used it once and saw no improvement after a month so I haven't used it since.
<Indeed. Nothing in a bottle magically fixes everything. You should always use tap water dechlorinator. But you shouldn't expect any products like these to cure diseases or stop algae. Not their job. They're to remove
chlorine, chloramine, copper and ammonia from freshly drawn tap water.
That's all. They don't help with disease, algae, or poor water quality.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Clown loach sick     11/20/14

Yeah I only use rain water on its own. Any recommendations as to what I should add to it?
<By default, simply mixing with tap water usually does the job. Do read:
I use rainwater, and it's generally safe to do so, but over the next few weeks I would strongly recommend raising the hardness at least a bit, when you do the usual replacement of 20-25% of the water in the aquarium each
weekend. Each time you add new water to the tank, instead of just buckets of rainwater, add buckets of a rainwater/tap water mix, or rainwater that has had some hardness added another way. By doing gradual changes you won't stress/shock your fish. Doing that would be bad!>
How can I raise the PH? I know you can grab the ph raisers at any fish shop but is that the best solutions or is there a natural way?
<Two approaches really. One is mixing with tap water. 20-25% hard tap water and the rest rainwater should produce something that's moderately soft and slightly above neutral in pH (likely around pH 7.2-7.5). For soft water fish communities, this is fine. Rasboras, tetras, barbs, loaches, etc. will all enjoy. For communities with livebearers and rainbowfish, you'd up the ratio of tap water to maybe 50/50 for more medium-hard conditions. The second approach is to buy what are called Rift Valley or Cichlid Salts.
These aren't the same as aquarium salts or synthetic sea salts. Follow the instructions on the packaging and they'll raise hardness and pH to some level. You can make your own. Do read here:
There's a Rift Valley Salt Mix at the bottom. You wouldn't need to full dose, but a half dose would make a good starting point. So for example if you had a 5-gallon bucket handy, fill with rainwater, then stir in 0.5
teaspoon baking soda, 0.5 tablespoon Epsom salt, and 0.5 teaspoon marine (or even old fashioned aquarium) salt mix. Wait 20 min.s for it to fully dissolve if you can. Now use your pH and hardness test kits. With luck, the
pH should be around 7.5, and the hardness around 10 degrees DH (= 120 mg/l, or simply described as, slightly hard on the general hardness scale). This is fine for general fishkeeping. You can of course tweak these chemicals up or down a bit. You can skip the marine salt entirely without problems where you're keeping soft water fish (it's really there for cichlids and livebearers who need a bit of extra oomph to their hardness). Reducing the baking soda a bit will lower the carbonate hardness, while reducing the Epsom salt will lower the general hardness. Basically, have a bit of a play until you consistently get the sort of hardness level you want. Write down that amount in teaspoons and tablespoons, and from now on you can add that amount to each new bucket of water. Cheap, effective!>
Baby clowns are fine, they were just hiding.
A recommendation from another fish owner was to cover the tank in a blanket for about 4 days, is that a good move or will that stress my fish our to much?
<Often a good idea after introducing new fish. For sure, always leave the lights off for a few hours on the day of purchase. Thereafter, use lights as the situation demands. Fish are mostly indifferent to having the lights
turned on, and most actually prefer the gloom, but your plants will want lights, of course!>
My filter is a massive external filter with a charcoal base.
<Charcoal removes most fish medications, so bear that in mind when you have sick fish. I recommend not using charcoal/activated carbon unless the situation demands.>
How can I increase the hardness of the fish tank. I haven't re done this test yet but I am planning to do a full re testing tonight with new stuff (the tests I was using were a couple of years old).
<Ah, that makes sense.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Skinny clown loaches   7/27/14
Hi crew!
I'm writing today to get some advice about my clown loaches. I've been trawling the web and especially your FAQ on loaches, but the more I read the more confused I get.
<Oh dear!>
So quite some time ago (perhaps a year ago) I bought two more loaches for my community tank. Both quickly got very thin and one died in a few days.
<Not uncommon.>
I started reading up about loaches and worms and found lots of stuff about loaches being very hard to treat and so on, so expected the other guy to follow suit soon after. He never did and despite being virtually skeletal is still holding on.
<Thank heavens for genetic variation, eh?>
I thought that maybe by keeping him in a healthy tank and feeding him well he'd pick up, but he never has. And now one of my larger loaches is starting to show signs of thinning along the dorsal side. My tank gets weekly 25% water changes/gravel vac and my parameters are okay (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate always well under 20ppm). Temp fluctuates a few degrees either side of 25℃ depending on whether it's winter or summer. My pH is perhaps a little high (about 7.6) but I gave up trying to chemically alter it years ago as my understanding is that it's better to have a stable pH than to be constantly trying to mess with it.
<For sure, yes. Clown loaches aren't especially fussy about water chemistry. They prefer soft water but can and do thrive in hard water. Water quality and, as you say, water chemistry stability fare much more important.>
I also don't think my loaches are malnourished. They get shrimp pellets and love the algae pellets my Plecos get.
<Sounds good.>
They also eat all the floating food my top feeding fish get (flakes, brine shrimp, shelled peas). I also drop in the raw vegetable off cuts from dinner prep which they along with the Plecos always demolish.
<Also good.>
When they feed they get nice big pot bellies but those two don't seem to be converting it to body fat.
<Well, the loaches aren't, anyway... but something inside the loaches probably is.>
So unless there's something else I'm neglecting to consider, I'm guessing they either have intestinal worms or something similar?
Which brings me to my main question: is there anything I can do to treat these loaches without hurting any other fish in my tank? Quarantining them is sadly not an option for me so I'm wondering about medicated food perhaps. Also, if you have any advice on specific types/brands available here in Aus it would be much appreciated. I read in some of the answers in the FAQ that some medications can harm loaches and to check with your LFS, but all my LFSs are completely clueless and have given me some pretty terrible and harmful advice in the past so I no longer trust anything they tell me.
Thanks in advance,
<Worms and/or Spironucleus-type Protozoans are very common in farmed Clown Loaches resulting in the chronic wasting you describe. It's sometimes called "Skinny Disease" and is treated with Levamisole hydrochloride, widely sold as a dewormer for farm animals, ideally alongside Metronidazole for the Protozoans. Neither are toxic to Loaches; do read here:
Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Skinny clown loaches   7/31/14

Hi Neale,
Thank you so much for your advice. I've been trying to hunt down the Levamisole here in Aus with little luck. I do keep coming across a de-wormer for fish by the Blue Planet brand which says it's for fluke and
tapeworm. It says the active ingredient is Praziquantel. Do you know if this would be helpful or harmful? I spoke to a dozen LFSs and none of them could tell me anything about the product.
Thanks again,
<Yes, you can use Praziquantel with loaches. Do follow the instructions, and as always, remove carbon from the filter if used. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Skinny clown loaches   7/31/14

P.S. Sorry to reply to my reply but I just got a call back from my local pet store who called their supplier for me. They said they do have one product with Levamisole in it, which is a bird wormer. It's called
Aristopet Worming Syrup for ornamental birds, and they said the ingredients say 10mg/ml Levamisole and 2mg/ml Praziquantel. Does this seem a better option? Or does that ring any alarm bells? Apologies for the email barrage, I'm just paranoid about making a dumb decision!
<Again, both of these are safe with fish. Indeed, the 2-for-1 approach might be worthwhile, as not all medications get all types of worms, so using two kinds of med might provide a better outcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Clown loach eye     11/8/13
Hi guys,
 I have two 8" loaches in a 220 gal with a fx5 & an 8 watt sterilizer. 
The perimeter of the tank are good.0 ppm of ammonia, nitrite. 20 ppm of nitrate.  Ph are 7.0. Temp at 87°. There are about 13 other fish including a 16" streams,

6" red spotted Severum,  etc...all hi end odd balls. Nothing really aggressive. I do 100 gal water changes every two weeks with r/o and adjust the ph as needed.
<... what is the hardness (GH, KH) of the water here?>

I've been in the hobby for 25 years and own an aquarium service Co. I put it in a qt tank 3 days ago when I noticed the
<It's just the one side, and the other loach unaffected I'll take it>
 It was white so I put it in API fungus cure and it went away but now it has something else on it. I enclosed a pic,  plz help. Thanks
<Mmm, don't know that I'd move this fish, keep it out of the main system; which is likely more stable. My bet if this is unilateral, is that it's just a mechanical injury... that will heal on its own in time; given good water quality and nutrition. Bob Fenner>

re: Clown loach eye... injury, env.      11/8/13
Thanks for ur input. I meant arowana after 16" and the hardness is 0.
<... not good.
Do read re the needs of the life you're keeping and adjust your water for all w/in range>
 I keep it soft. Did u get the pic?  It's no longer white obviously and it's in a qt 15 gal tank.
<... move this fish>

 With heater and air pump of course!  Are there any other meds I could try? 
<.... see WWM re. B>

Clown loach eye; Neale's confirming input     11/9/13
Hi guys,
I have two 8" loaches in a 220 gal with a fx5 & an 8 watt sterilizer. The perimeter of the tank are good.0 ppm of ammonia, nitrite. 20 ppm of nitrate.  pH are 7.0. Temp at 87°.
<Seems very high... do you really mean this? Few fish appreciate such warm water. For Clowns, 28 C/82 F is ideal. Do remember that while warmer water may be tolerated by this species, such water also contains less oxygen, and that affects not just the fish but also the filter bacteria. Lower than ideal oxygen levels will persistently stress the physiology of your fish, and that in turn makes them more likely to become sick. It can also increase certain behaviours (such as breeding-related or territorial aggression) and increases appetite, both of which can cause problems.>
There are about 13 other fish including a 16" streams,
<What are "streams"?>
6" red spotted sevrum,  etc...all hi end odd balls. Nothing really aggressive.
<I see. But do be careful... this tank sounds quite generously stocked. Fish may not be overtly aggressive, but they can still physically harm one another if cramped or squabbling over hiding places. Catfish and loaches are notoriously defensive about their caves, for example, but catfish tend to be better armed and better protected, so frequently come off worse in such arguments. Once they get scratched, loaches can easily become infected with ambient bacteria, and these in turn can cause more serious problems.>
I do 100 gal water changes every two weeks with r/o and adjust the pH as needed.
<Okay. Unless there's a good reason to do otherwise, I tend to recommend a pH level a little above 7, somewhere between 7.2 and 7.5 being ideal for filter bacteria. Also hardness, often overlooked, should not be ridiculously low unless there's some darn good reason (i.e., you're keeping blackwater fish). So something middling is ideal, between 8-12 degrees dH being best. Again, this favours the filter bacteria, and it also helps to moderate pH drops between water changes. Remember, the aim is to keep a stable pH and hardness level between water changes, rather than to aim for some nominal pH and hardness value you think your fish would like best (and if you have a community of fishes, chances are there isn't one "ideal" pH and hardness value for them anyway). With the exception of true blackwater fish, most soft water fish will thrive in low to medium hard, pH 7-7.5 water, even if they can't breed successfully in it (and even this generally only applies to the more picky tetras and rasboras). I know I'm rambling a bit here, but experience has told me that when fish are kept in soft water, they're often a little bit more difficult to keep healthy, and opportunistic infections are a little bit more common. My assumption is that this has something to do with the rate of biological filtration, which has been comprehensively demonstrated to work better in alkaline rather than acidic conditions.>
I've been in the hobby for 25 years and own an aquarium service Co.
<Ah, I may be teaching my grandmother to suck eggs then!>
I put it in a qt tank 3 days ago when I noticed the eye.  It was white so I put it in API fungus cure and it went away but now it has something else on it. I enclosed a pic,  plz help. Thanks
<I'm fairly sure this is an opportunistic infection of the eye following some type of physical damage, e.g., a confrontation between the Clown Loach and, for example, a Thorny Catfish or Plec. Perhaps even the two Clowns. The cornea looks to have been damaged, and until it heals, this Clown will suffer some type of bacterial infection. I'd treat accordingly, using for example a Maracyn 1 and 2 combination (as you'd do for Finrot) but I'd also use the Epsom Salt treatment (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) as this can often help reduce Popeye and other fluid-retention problems. I will observe that severe damage to the eye often never heals and the eye is eventually lost, but Clowns, being adapted to murky water and largely nocturnal, don't rely on their eyes to any great degree. Do also try contacting Loaches.com; they have a good forum and generally offer very helpful, Loach-centric advice. Cheers, Neale.>

Clown Loach, hlth.; likely env. mostly     8/17/13
My Clown Loach of 2 1/2 years has been doing fine until yesterday. I got home from work to find him swimming vertically in the corner of the tank staying almost at the top. I did a 50% water change today since he was still doing the same thing this morning. I feed my fish at night and turn out the light cause they seem to eat better with the light off. I have a  20
gallon tank with 4 fish, clown loach, angel, ghost knife and plecostomus

<Yeeikes... these fishes need more room. The issue here may simply be low dissolved oxygen (the Loach is most sensitive) or poisoning from metabolite (wastes) build-up... The real solution is to place them in a more suitably large world>
all were bought at the same time so basic same age & size. All my other fish seem fine. Can see any spots or anything on Loach, not sure what to do.
<... The knife alone needs more... Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Loach     8/17/13

Even with two aeration systems and the filtration system there would still be an oxygen issue?
I do 10% - 25% water change weekly with a 50% once a month and I vacuum the gravel with each water change. I have a 36 gallon bow front but am having trouble finding a stand I can afford in order to set it up.
<Can it go on some other support?>
 I use AquaSafe in my new water 24 hours before I do the change as well. Is his death imminent at this point?
<... can't tell from the information provided. I would read through what we have archived on loaches, environmental disease. BobF>

Favorite OLD Clown Loach needs help!     8/2/13
My Larry Loach is really sick. Pretty sure it started with Ich. Been treating with Nox ICH for 3 days at half dose. I think maybe a secondary fungal infection?
<... more like poisoning from the Malachite Green. MUCH better to treat w/ simply elevated temperature (plus aeration). READ here re:

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm   and the linked files above>
Wanted to give my loaches a bigger home, so I made the switch from a 60 gallon under gravel setup to a 120 filtered with a Rena xp3, and a sponge with powerhead. I set the XP up on the old tank for 6 weeks to establish it before i made the switch. Ammonia is 0. Had a nitrite spike today to .25. Perhaps due to dead cherry barbs?
<Could well be>
 PH is high at 7.8, though I had the old tank for years and never even checked the PH. Our well water is good. Not too hard.
Anyways, tank has been up and running for a month or so now.
Any help would be awesome!!!!!
PS I also had the temp up to 84 from our normal 80,but the fish seems to be gilling hard, so I dropped it down to 80 again. Over the course of the three days.
<I'd raise 86-88 F... increase aeration. READ. Bob Fenner>

Re: Favorite OLD Clown Loach needs help!     8/2/13
WOW! Thanks a ton!
I was wondering about the malachite. Since this was an "off day" for the meds anyway, do you think a 50% water change would be helpful to remove the malachite, or maybe run some carbon?
<Either will "do it">
Will the high temps affect the cherry barbs, Cory cats, and Bala sharks badly?
<Mid 80's should be fine for all; and eradicate the Ich>
Thanks again for the speedy, knowledgeable reply,
<Bob Fenner>

Help with listless clown loach     6/29/13
Hi Crew,
I could really use some advice.  The largest of my five clown loaches (approaching 5") has been acting very strangely.  Initially, I just wrote it off as eccentric clown loach behavior.  I've seen them lay on the bottom of the tank or sleep in very strange places.  But this looks to be more serious.
Probably nine months ago, this loach evicted the Bristlenose Pleco from the hollow resin driftwood in the tank and began sleeping in there.  I could always tell, because the end of his tale would hang out!  At the time he did this, I lost quite a few fish, including all but two of my school of loaches, over the course of two weeks for no apparent reason.  Then it stopped.  I had just purchased 10 baby angelfish and placed them directly into the display tank (I know, I know... setting up a QT was one of my first tasks after it was over).  Over the first three days, all but one of the angels died.  Then for days I'd wake up and find 1-2 fish floating dead.  Fish I had watched eat and behave normally the day before!  I did water changes and fresh charcoal.  I couldn't think what else to do.  Medicating a 150 gallon just didn't seem like an option.  Then, after a little over 2 weeks, the deaths just stopped.  Everything has seemed fine since, except that the loaches both hid a lot, especially the biggest one. 
A couple months ago, I added 3 more loaches--quite small compared to the two in there, but it seemed to work okay--and the two larger ones started coming out and swimming around more.  Then, a few days, ago, I noticed the big loach sitting vertical in a plant in the corner of the tank, just standing there on his tale.  When I went over to the tank, he swam away normally, so I didn't think much of it, but later he was back again.  He's been there more and more the last 2 days, and today he's acting very lethargic.  He still swims around the tank if I do anything to pester him, but is quickly back to standing on his tale, sometimes just drifting around the tank.
<Still; not unusual behavior for the species>
The fish is nice and plump, with very good color and no signs of external distress anywhere.  No damaged fins, no ulcers, no swollen gills, nothing. 
His respiration rate is high, but that's always been true of all my clown loaches--I think that's normal, isn't it?
<It is>
 Water parameters are normal--78F, no detectable ammonia or nitrite.  I don't know the nitrate level--my test kit expired long ago and I never bought another.  All the other fish, including the remaining four loaches and two black ghost knives (which are getting along just fine, thanks for the advice!) appear healthy and happy, eating readily and swimming around normally.  In short, the tank is great, except for this one fish!  And I don't know what to do about it.  All I can figure is that it is some sort of internal infection or parasite?
<Mmm, from the new Angels? Possibly>
 I finally moved him downstairs to a 10 gallon and medicated with tetracycline.
<Well; I wouldn't do this... and would the fish back to the 150>
 I know it's a small tank, but it's cycled and stable--it's been a cichlid grow-out tank.  I'm attaching a picture from before I moved him.
Any suggestions at all?
<Just hope and time going by. Bob Fenner>

Clown loach, sliming beh.     6/15/13
Hi, We were recently given two clown loaches by a friend who was shutting down her tank. We have had them for about 2 months. One is about 5 inches long and the other about 4 inches. It is a 4 foot tank. They seem to be going very well but the last couple of weeks we have been getting a lot of floating material in the tank that we have not been able to determine what it is. I am now thinking that it is slime from the loaches body as they brush past the plants and rocks. It looks like cob webs and when we remove it with the net there seems to be nothing there. Would appreciate your opinion.
<Loaches can be quite slimy; particularly when "settling in" to new circumstances, or if some aspect/s of their water aren't to their liking.
Do review the latter here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clnlchsys.htm
And perhaps go over the other Clown Loach files linked above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown loach      6/16/13

Thanks for your help, Bob.
<Hope it helps Sue; am a huge fan of Clown Loaches. BobF>

dark clown loach 12/3/12
Hello everyone,
I've not been in contact with you in a very long time because I've not had any aquarium health issue---until now.
<Long runs of healthy tanks are a good sign you are doing things right. 
Everyone has issues from time to time.>
I have a 3+ year old clown loach (3+ inches) that has become quite dark, with a black area at the bottom base of his tail. I've also noticed what looks like some sort of black parasite or worm protruding from his gill plate (one on each side) and there are 2 small black spots on his body that weren't there before.
<Darkening of the skin can mean a number of things. Tumors, flagellate infections, melanoma to name a few, but not an exhaustive list by any means. That you see what appear to be parasites would lead one to believe the dark patches are somehow related. Even the black spots and parasites are kind of hard to nail down with the descriptions provided.>
There are 5 other clown loaches (various sizes, larger and smaller) in the same tank that all appear fine (full of color). 16 discus, 5 bristle nose albino Plecos, and one 24" retic ray in same tank, all appear fine.
The tank is a 240 gallon, temp is 86, water change is constant drip @ 80 gallons per day.  
Any ideas?
<Quarantine the affected loach to minimize the risk to the rest of your livestock, for sure. It's much better to lose one loach than risk all those discus.  Next, scour the WWM site to see if you can find something that looks similar to what the sick loach has protruding from the gills. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwfshparasites.htm
I personally keep a UV sterilizer in the closet that I bring out on occasions like this. After removing the affected fish, I would put my sterilizer into the tank and run it for two or three weeks.  I don't know of many other aquarists who do that, but it's something to consider.>
Thank you,
<Good luck with this. - Rick>

Clown Loaches with ick 2/18/12
Hello WWM crew! Quite thankfully this is the first time I've needed to contact you guys for any help, so I guess I've been doing things right for a while! Down to the problem. I recently switched my 125 gallon aquarium over from saltwater to freshwater. Things have been going well and looking good for the past month and it looks spectacular. Current stock in the aquarium consist of nine Australian Rainbowfish, four Bala sharks, a three spot gourami, a tiretrack eel, an albino Senegal Bichir, and seven clown loaches (two along the three inch mark and five at about an inch and a half, two inches). I try to keep the diet offered as varied as possible, with more than half of their meals being frozen foods (with vegetable matter being offered at least once or twice a week), frequent feedings of live brine shrimp and black worms, occasional offerings of dried seaweed, and when I flake food I use a mixed preparation of Omega-One tropical flakes, a garlic enhanced pellet food, and algae flake food. Anyways today I noticed that one of the larger clown loaches had a few Ich spots on it, and I wanted to really nip this in the bud, because it's the first time I've been able to get a nice little group of clowns together. After reading multiple sites online (yours included of course) and it seems that the most commonly agreed upon ideas being that clown loaches are sensitive to medications, and that salt and elevated temperatures seem to be very helpful in these cases. I was planning on gradually upping the temperature up to 85, and I have some salt that I can add to the water but was unsure of the amount to use in this situation. Aside from elevated temperature and salt, is there anything I can do to help aide my squad of loaches? Thank you guys so much!
<Greetings. Salt + heat will be the best approach here, and your fish shouldn't have any trouble tolerating the 2 g/l required for success. Heat alone, ~30 C, can effect a cure too, but I've never used this approach personally, though Bob F. recommends it. Either way, you need to run the system thus for at least a week. Medications containing copper and formalin are the ones most likely to stress loaches; medications that don't contain either, like eSHa EXIT, should be safer. Loaches.com is a good site to get reports on specific brands/medications. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Clown Loaches with ick 2/18/12

Just verifying, but 2 g/l would be 2 grams of salt per every one litre, correct?
<Yes indeed. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Skinny Disease and Loaches   9/11/11
Hi Neale,
How are you doing today? I will soon post my pictures of my new 125 gallon on the forum for all to enjoy. Question, please! I have purchased new fish, which are in quarantine. I have four new clown loaches (to keep the one I have company), and three Angelicas loaches (I plan on getting a couple more later). While I was continuing my research on these fish, just to always learn more about them, I came across many articles that say loaches are very susceptible to "Skinny or Wasting Disease". Great, problem is these specimen are so small, the clowns are about 1.5 inches, and the Angelicas are about an inch. How on earth can I tell if they have this disease when they are babies. They seem to have good muscle tone, and they move so quickly I can't get a good view.
<Wasting Disease is difficult to pin down but likely some sort of Mycobacteria infection. Fish with Wasting Disease simply fail to thrive: over the weeks they get thinner and thinner, and eventually die. Treatment is difficult, likely impossible, though the right cocktail of antibiotics, administered by a vet for the weight of the fish in question, could well work.>
I don't want to catch them individually and stress them out to get a better look, I just got them in from mail yesterday. So, should I assume they have parasites and treat them with Prazipro, or buy Levamisole?
<Many loach-keepers do "worm" their loaches upon purchase. By all means do so, but keep an eye out for abnormal reactions. Follow instructions carefully, and remove carbon while medicating. Providing extra oxygen is often helpful.>
I also have Jungle Bacteria Food, that says it treats wasting as well as other bacteria, etc. Sites suggest using Maracyn I and II. However, I don't want to mess up my good bacteria. What would you suggest? Sometimes the more I read the more anxiety I get, and look at my fish constantly trying to figure out if they are healthy. Thanks and have a pleasant day. Lu<You're welcome, Neale.>

Clown Loaches Dying Mysteriously   9/7/11 Hello there, thanks in advanced for reading this. Right from the top, my Ammonia is 0, Nitrates are 0, Nitrites are 0.25, <Mmm, has to be 0.0>
Temp is 26c, Ph 6.9 and my tank is 64L,
<... less than 20 gal.s>
the 5 clowns (about 3cm long each) share a tank with 10 neon, 6 Glowlight and 1 blind cave tetra (all of which are under 2cm), 5 swordtail guppies (adult), one Bala shark
about the size of three adult Neons from front to back in a line and an angel that is a tiny bit smaller than that. The tank is two months old and cycled, water is changed 10-20% every other week and they are fed sachet Brine Shrimp, Tropical Flake food, Frozen Blood worms and ripe bananas.
I've searched everywhere for this problem and what it might be but so far I've found nothing. I've lost 2 previous clowns and fear I'll lose the rest.
The first one I bought with two other clowns simply resorted to hiding on his own for 5 days after I purchased him until he came out, white as a ghost only to stay on the bottom of the tank and then die the next day.
The other one which died yesterday, I bought with another three but this one appeared to have a problem from the start when I get them three days ago. He never ate and never seemed to use his tail unless absolutely necessary, only to go spinning and wind up on his side when he did. He would lie on his belly on the bottom of the tank, completely pale, whilst the others (minus the one I'll mention in a sec, he started to refuse to swim now) whizzed around him playing and then he was then seemed be pushed over by an invisible force onto his side, only to get back onto his belly, and then to be "blown over" again. My latest one has some colouration and this one I bought with the first three, he shuffles around the bottom scavenging and then acts exactly like the previous one did, flopping onto it's side, losing all colour and then gets up and shuffles slowly around the tank refusing to use his tail but when he does, doesn't wind up in a heap like the last Loach, only just rises a bit above the sand only to flop back down a distance away. He eats but within a few hours whilst the others still have bumps the next day, he looks like he hasn't eaten for weeks.
They don't seem bullied at all by any other fish and the other Loaches are constantly going up to them as if asking for them to play. Thanks for your help in advance!~Alex
<the nitrites... this system really isn't cycled... the pH a bit low for Clown Loaches... Bob Fenner>

Helppppp !- 8/20/11
Hello Robert,
We bought a couple of Clown Loaches and a Pea Puffer.
<Not compatible. Clown Loaches are big, schooling, sensitive but messy fish that need a huge aquarium. Youngsters might be kept in something around the 55 gallon mark up to about 15 cm/6 inches, but subadults and adults need much bigger tanks, 100+ gallons. Pea Puffers are tiny little things that would get lost in tanks that size, and even though they might be happy enough in a big tank where you couldn't see them, they're nippy and incompatible with almost everything.>
I'm not for sure right now, but I think the Loaches have Ick. They are in my 45 gal. Tank with other fish
<Treat with the usual heat/salt approach. Heat alone *may* work.>
And a crayfish, my question is will the Ick medication harm the crayfish if I have to treat the tank.
<Crayfish are Clown Loach food, so obviously you can't keep them together anyway. But even so, formalin and copper are toxic to both loaches and crayfish, and puffers as well!>
I also see that you mention marine salt on your site as a possible cure for Ick, but I have read on another site, that loaches and crayfish are salt intolerant.
<They tolerate this low concentration. But no one should be keeping crayfish and Clown Loaches together. So this shouldn't be an issue. Repeat after me: Crayfish are not kept with fish, crayfish are not kept with fish, crayfish are not kept with fish. Doing so is extremely risky for both fish and crustacean.>
I'm really in a quandary as to how to precede, any help would be appreciated.
<Do try reading about the needs of livestock *before* buying them. The three species you have here each needs it own aquarium.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Helppppp !- 8/20/11

I guess I should have been more clear. Two of the Clown Loaches are less then 3 in. And are in the 45 gal. These are the ones I wasn't sure of. The Pea Puffer was not in this tank. It did not survive, I am pretty sure it was stress, because we live about 15 mi. from the store.
<No, not the reason it died. Think about it: these fish have been shipped 1000s of miles to get to the retailer. Done properly, taking home fish shouldn't cause any problems at all, and I routinely bring home fish by public transport in my backpack, the fish being bagged up for hours at a time. More usually, fish die a day or two after purchase because the purchaser failed to acclimate them carefully, or worse, introduced them to an aquarium not suitable for that fish species.>
The other 2 Loaches are in a separate tank and are about 1 in. long they I know for sure have Ick'¦ all were bought to control snails.
<Which they won't do. Snails are not solved by adding fish. Retailers may tell you this, the same way they tell you that you need a fish to deal with algae. But it's rubbish. Snails turn excess food into baby snails. Keep the tank clean and remove solid waste, and you have fewer snails. Add more fish, and you have to put more food in the tank, and that means more food for the snails to eat. While some loaches and puffers consume snails, they usually don't eat the pest varieties with any real effectiveness. The Assassin Snail, Clea helena, is rather better, but only as part of an overall improvement of conditions in the aquarium.>
And the crayfish isn't interested in any of the fish, still have the ones that Were in there when it was introduced.
<For now. But this is really, really risky. Crayfish view tankmates as potential food. Yes, in the wild they mostly eat plants and carrion, but in an aquarium they, and do, eat small fish. Conversely, after moulting Crayfish are extremely vulnerable to damage from larger fish. You also need to provide supplemental iodine to Crayfish (marine aquarium iodine drops, at half dose) as well as calcium (unshelled shrimp, for example) and in a smaller, Crayfish-specific aquarium this is altogether easier and more economical.>
And far from being stupid as you imply, I do try to read up on my livestock.
<I'm glad to hear that, I don't imply that you personally are stupid. For all I know, you're smarter than me! But rather, you have made a very ill-advised combination of livestock that no aquarium book would ever recommend. Clown Loaches need one set of conditions, Puffers another, and Crayfish a third. Keeping all three together makes no sense at all. In any case, the salt/heat treatment should be tolerated by all these species and would be the way forward. You should remove the Crayfish in any event, and the Puffer is dead anyway, so you're really just concentration on the Loaches. Generally, it's the copper- and formalin-based medications that cause Loaches harm; salt/heat is very safe to use.>
<Most welcome, Neale.>
re: Helppppp !- 8/20/11

I'm going to answer here instead of in between you answers.
<Great! Makes things a lot easier to follow.>
I realize that some of the fish are shipped thousands of miles,
regardless the fishes were acclimated and the Puffer was put in a tank alone... no other fish.
<Fair enough. But still, do be aware that puffers can be quite sensitive, and you need to be double-careful when it comes to acclimation to the new tank after purchase.>
A retailer is not the one that told me about the Loaches being snail eaters, it was something I read or heard on one of these expert websites (which is becoming more and more obvious is a crock, anybody and everybody seems to be one).
<Perhaps. One reason we recommend books is that the people writing them tend to be experts in some demonstrable way, whereas anyone can say anything on a web page. On the other hand, there are some outstanding websites out there, including loaches.com and thepufferforum.com, both of which might provide useful reading for you. The loaches/snail and puffer/snail "solutions" have been around for years, and almost everyone mentions them, but in practise neither is terribly reliable. In the case of puffers, they're usually more trouble in community tanks than the snails, and loaches, well, they can be aggressive and/or demanding animals, so hardly easy to keep. Almost always, there are cheaper, easier, and more reliable solutions.>
Anyway every snail they find they are making short work of, leaving the empty shell behind.
<Yes indeed, loaches can be excellent snail-eaters.>
As for the crayfish, as I said he isn't interested in the fish. I have had him for 2 years. There are no lg. fish in the tank to bother it after molting and he stays in The cave he lives in most of the time.
<As with many things in life, what works for some people might not work for most everyone else. It's like when TV news people report on the world's oldest man, and he lives in Siberia or somewhere like that, and reckons a vodka with every meal is what's kept him healthy. Maybe, but maybe not, and he's just lucky. What a doctor would recommend for good health won't be what individuals think is the key to their healthiness. Here at WWM we try to offer information -- perhaps a bit conservative sometimes -- that will work in the largest number of situations. In this case, not mixing crayfish with fish is the recommendation. But if you trust your crayfish, and you know what to look for in terms of potential trouble, then more power to you. It's just not a "wise" approach.>
As for my smartness, that varies from day to day. I just didn't like the implication.
<I can well imagine.>
All my tanks have a 50% water change weekly, unless I feel they need it sooner. Also I use to do the salt Addition just for this reason, everybody I talked to said I didn't need to.
<Well, routine addition of aquarium salt (not marine aquarium salt!) to freshwater tanks is NOT recommended, and is considered rather old school and potentially risky. On the other hand, short-term use of aquarium salt to treat Whitespot is recognised as a low-risk, low-cost treatment for Whitespot.>
As per your advise I am stopping the Ich med., doing a 100% water change and adding the marine salt.
<Not marine aquarium salt! Plain vanilla aquarium salt, sometimes called tonic salt or livebearer salt.>
In the 45 gal. tank I saw today that the other Loaches also have Ich, so will do the same to it,
<Yes, can work well with loaches. Do adjust them slowly though. I like to make up a brine solution in a jug that contains all the salt needed for the whole tank, and then pour that into the tank in stages across an hour. That allows the fish time to adjust.>
I do not plan on removing the Crayfish though, hoping he survives.
<Can't think why he wouldn't.>
Again Thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Helppppp !   8/22/11

Thanks again for your help.
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

clown loach with white spot like dandruff 7/29/11
Hi I have 3 clown loaches and 3 neon tetras left in my tank after a bad case of white spot that was brought in with the 3 new loaches that I introduced to my existing 2 clown loaches and neon tetras. I first treated with half dose of Protozin on day 1,2,3 and 6 as advised by staff at shop
<Would not use medication with Clown Loaches, too many risks; salt/heat tolerated much better.>
lost 2 of my clown loaches that I had for a year and now have 3 left who came good but have now white spot again I think it seems like some sort of dandruff coming off them when they flash over the driftwood and it is all floating through the tank since I started salt treatment and turned heat up to 86 degrees last night and will leave it like that for two weeks as I read on one of the FAQ's.
<Clown Loaches are very sensitive to skin parasites, including Whitespot and Velvet. It'd be good to assume they have Whitespot and act accordingly.>
My questions are do I feed the clown loaches while treating them
<If you want, but only if water quality is perfect. Clowns are VERY sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so if these aren't zero, then one reason your Clowns are getting sick could very easily be stress.>
and do I do water changes and filter cleans. I have a 100ltr tank water seem fine
<Much too small for this species; even 250 litres would be tight!>
and loaches seem happy enough except for the flashing it looks quite  annoying to the poor little darlings your help and advice would be great
thank you.
Regards Deborah
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: clown loach with white spot like dandruff   8/3/11

Great reading Neale! Sorry hadn't found that information myself, not from lack of trying with four children screaming in my ear.
<Ah, yes, you'll see that I often recommend against people with small children getting fish. Four children at home would do my head in! I spend my working day teaching kids, and that's plenty enough exposure to the little "darlings" for me'¦>
Thank you so much for your response to my email, it's been a week now and I still have 3 clown loaches, (looking great no spots) and 2 (only) neon tetras. I still have the temp at 86 c and am treating with salt, I found by changing at least 10% of the water every second day, and doing gravel vacs there is less stuff?? floating around.. not any actually.
<May help, but water changing is part of the way environmental conditions are improved, rather than the whole story. The size of the tank and adequate filtration are the other two parts.>
The plan is to leave things like this for a further 5-7 days, then slowly return things to normal and fingers crossed all will be well. So grateful for your wonderful educating site, and wish you all well.
Kindest Regards
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Clown Loach Problem    5/17/11
My clown loach fins have rotted away, could this be 'fin rot'? (see pic)
<Is not... IS a loach that is very thin... history of mal- or lack of nourishment, and has Ich, aka Whitespot disease...! You need to ACT NOW.
Raise the temperature if the other life in this system can take it...>
I don't think it is fin nippers because all the other fish in the tank are tetra's and Siamese fighter. My loach
<... this Cobitid, like its family members is a strongly social species. Does not do well singly>
is very lethargic, seems to be breathing heavier, hung around by the filter for week or so! There is white spot on the fish at the moment, but these symptoms appeared before the white spot.
My other smaller loach has white spot but his fins are fine and still moving around the tank?
Have tested the water quality a number of times and seems correct. Have also upped the temperature to help combat the white spot.
<To how high?>
Any clues on what it could be and what I should do?
<Yes. Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clnlchdis.htm
and the linked files above... Re Systems, Feeding
and: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichsenslvstk.htm
Read, act... You're soon to lose these animals otherwise. Bob Fenner>

Re: Clown Loach Problem    5/17/11
<Andy... don't write w/o reading first>
Have raised my temperature to 82°F,
<Not high enough...>
have also added white pot treatment but have no yet cleared it!
There are two loaches in my tank and have been happy together for over two years.
Will give more feed to them tonight, should I add things like slice of cucumber as well?
<No.... B>
Thanks for your help.

New Tank | Sick Clown Loach   4/26/11
<Hello Michael>
Just performed a new tank setup after one of our Angel fish we had for several years got mysteriously ill and could not be saved with medication.
<Mmm, unusual... I take it you did move a good bit of the water from the old system... nothing in the new was known to be outright toxic>
After the new tank was set up, our clown loach, which we have had for several years, began acting strangely.
After 24 hours, the loach was swimming constantly at the top of the tank.
He has never exhibited this behavior before. Upon close examination, it appears that his left eye is a little cloudy as compared to his right eye.
Also, and more disturbing, he has string-like material, with air bubbles, hanging from his fins and a little bit from his mouth. I don't see any fungus patches on him. No open sores.
<Environmental something>
We did a 25% water change and treated the tank with Fungus Clear last night. This has Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, and potassium dichromate as the ingredients.
<The last is too toxic for Cobitids (loaches)>
In the middle of the night the fish was on his back at the bottom of the tank. I thought he was dead, but when I netted him, he started swimming.
Now, he is straight up, actually held straight up by plants, and is breathing heavier than normal.
The filter carbon has been removed.
<Do put it back in... to remove the Jungle product>
We have ammonia Sorb and nitrate Sorb material in the filter. pH is good.
No indication of ammonia, but the tank is slightly cloudy (but it's a new tank). Nitrate levels are very low.
Being a new tank, I am very concerned about dropping antibiotics like erythromycin or Maracyn two into the tank.
<I would not>
Any suggestions?
<The carbon... time going by. Bob Fenner>
Re: New Tank | Sick Clown Loach    4/26/11

Thank you for your quick response.
<Felt it was... necessary>
Unfortunately, within hours of sending my request for help, the clown loach died.
Before he died, I noted a patch on his left side, looked slimy with air bubbles. Still had string like strands hanging from his fins.
<Could be... many things>
The more I research it, and because of the rapidity of his decline and subsequent death, it sounds and looks like columnaris might have been the culprit.
I read somewhere that in the last stages of columnaris they swim erratically, which he was doing 24 hours prior to his death.
<Were other fishes similarly afflicted?>
Thank you again for your quick response. Too bad, things happened so quickly.
Great website!
<Thank you, BobF>
Re: New Tank | Sick Clown Loach    4/26/11
For now, there are only 2 fish remaining. Over the course of the past 2 weeks we had an Angel fish die first, then a Japanese sucker fish was found dead, then the Clown Loach.
<My bet/guess is still on some sort of toxin... There are a few possibilities here; from the overt added poisonous ornament to the innocuous bacterial overpopulation/war/wipe-out syndrome>
The Angel fish wasted away over about 10 days, went of his feed, and sat on the bottom of the tank. Erythromycin, and Maracyn 2 had no effect on him.
The remaining fish are a yellow tetra and a small bottom feeder. At this point they are not symptomatic. I did a 25% water change, then added Maracyn, Maracyn 2, and some Aquarium Salt (1 Tbsp/10gal). Will continue the Maracyn/Maracyn 2 for a total of 5 days, then if no symptoms will do a 25% water change and add carbon filter.
I noted in your previous email, that perhaps I added a good amount of water from the old tank. We did not add any of the old water because we had used so much medication, and the pH had become difficult to maintain. So we started with fresh water adding Stress Coat, Stress Zyme and Aquarium salt.
<Even more leaning toward a bacterial toxicity then. B>
Again, thank you for your help and insight.

Skirt tetra aren't schooling; clown loach look malnourished  4/10/11
So I have a 50gal tank with a group of 5 skirts.
<Well, here's one problem: most fish won't school until there's at least 6 specimens, and often 8-10 is the best number to start with, especially in a medium-sized aquarium like yours.>
The aquarium is planted and has cave and has gravel/ aquarium sand combination. The skirts seem to be hanging out on there own not schooling.
<To be fair, this species is fairly bold and if just a few are kept, they often do their own thing most of the time, ignoring one another. The flip side though is that if there aren't enough of them, Black Skirt Tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) are confirmed fin-nippers. They aren't nearly as bad as Serpae Tetras or even Tiger Barbs, but they do sometimes nip the fins of slow-moving tankmates like Angels and Gouramis.>
The other fish in my aquarium are fine like my tiger barbs are schooling and rainbow fish are too. And my cats are doing there own thing. So why do u think the skirts are not schooling? The own big change recently in my aquarium is taking out all my plastic plants and swapping them out with real ones, and adding a co2 filter. This change happened 3 weeks ago. They stopped schooling 5 days ago.
My second question is that my two clown loaches are malnourished and not eating.
<Unfortunately very common.>
Last week my clown loaches were schooling with my tiger barbs. This week they stopped and started to hide. They have always been small so I never suspected anything. Today I noticed one died and the other 2 were almost skin and bone. When I caught them they were real slow. So I moved them in my 20gal tank that is used for my babies and it is planted. I did this so they didn't have to compete for food and I could watch them eat. I threw in a couple bottom feeder tablets and more flakes than usual in that tank.
They are usually outgoing when feeding time hits and get all the flakes. So why are acting this way?
<Clown Loaches are prone to both intestinal worms and various microbial parasites, and the use of both the antimicrobial Metronidazole (Flagyl) and a dewormer such as Levamisole or Praziquantel is highly recommended. These are safe with Clown Loaches. In the US, you may be able to obtain these from your pet store; elsewhere you'll need to get them from a vet. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick clown loaches   11/13/10
Hi there . I bought some clown loaches and they have Ick ,
<Very susceptible>
( they looked fine when I bought them ) , I started them on a half dose of copper safe
<Mmm, I would not treat Cobitids w/ Copper compounds... can be cured with simple thermal manipulation. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
and the linked files above>
it got better and now it is three times worse than before is there another thing I can add to the water to help ?
<... learn to search/use WWM>
They also have skinny fish disease also known as the virus that causes the hole in head disease , I do not know what the scientific name is ,
I have started putting Epsom salt into the water ,
<? Not efficacious>
I read that it can completely cure the fish if it ingests some of the Epsom salt (don't know how I'm going to do that lol ) and it can really help if it is just in the tank it can even reverse it a little , I put a tablespoon of it into a 5-1/2 gallon tank . Any tips would be greatly appreciated ! Thanks .
Josh .
<Read on! Bob Fenner>

Clown loach disease?   8/24/10
I have 10 clown loaches. One of them is getting these spots that look like air bubbles all over him. Any ideas what it may be?
<Clown Loaches are extremely prone to Whitespot, also known as Ick/Ich. So start by making sure that this isn't what's happening here. Whitespot looks like small specks, rather like granulated sugar, usually on the fins as well as the body. Affected fish often flick against solid objects.
Whitespot is very contagious, and before long most if not all the fish in the tank will have the disease. Because Clown Loaches react poorly to copper and formalin, you can't use standard medications. Instead use the old salt/heat method. Raise the temperature to 86 F, and then make up a brine solution in a jug of warm water containing 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per US gallon of water in the aquarium. When you're done, pour the brine into the aquarium in stages, perhaps 3-4 portions across a couple of hours. Leave the tank running thus for at least two weeks, and then do water changes as per normal to remove the salt. With luck, the Whitespot will be gone. Actual bubbles on the skin are rarely seen on fish unless those fish are producing a lot of mucous, in which case you will probably find silt stuck to the fish as well. Fish produce some mucous on their skin all the time, but excessive amounts tend to imply poor environmental conditions or parasites such as "Costia", or more properly Ichthyobodo, the parasite responsible for Slime Disease. But as I say, Whitespot is most likely, so check that first, and if that isn't the issue, write back, preferably with a photo up to 500 KB in size.
Cheers, Neale.>
Clown loach disease   8/25/10

If my tank is 40 gallon us then use 80 tsp of salt in the brine solution?
<2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per US gallon, so 2 x 40 to 3 x 40 = 80 to 120 level teaspoons.>
Sent from my iPod
<Actually, a "thank you" would be nicer than a statement about what kind of music player you own. Good manners cost nothing, unlike an iPod! Cheers, Neale.>

Skinny Clown Loach   4/6/10
WWM crew,
I have three clown loaches in my 55 gallon planted tank (eventually to be moved to a 125). As you can see in the photo, the main other tankmates are giant Danios.
<I see. Do be aware Danios prefer somewhat cooler conditions to Clown Loaches, or are at least more sensitive to low oxygen levels.>
Two of the three loaches are doing fine, but one seems to be getting too skinny (the one at the bottom). I see him eating, he has no external signs of disease I've spotted. He's looking nearly skeletal...especially compared to the other two loaches.
<Likely some sort of "wasting disease", but may be worms of some sort, since both of these are issues with Clown Loaches.>
The Danios ignore them and I haven't spotted any stressful behavior (other than being so active). They all have very good color as well. The loaches have a ton of hiding spots, they'll slide into holes in the driftwood or vanish into the moss when they want solitude.
I'd appreciate any ideas. I could quickly set up a 29 gallon isolation tank for him, but that's not a long term home.
<Generally quarantining schooling fish does more harm than good, but isolating this fish so you can see precisely how much it eats without competition is a good idea. Treating with Praziquantel or Levamisole, perhaps alongside a general antibiotic, would be necessary to effect a recovery. Under community tank conditions, sick Clown Loaches rarely get better under their own steam. Remember to avoid copper-based medications when medicating Loaches.>
Any ideas on what might be causing the weight loss?
<Do read here:
<Cheers, Neale.>

Imported clown loach with parasites   3/26/10
hi all greetings from not so sunny England,
<Bet you it's even sunnier here in S. Cal. currently>
I need serious help, this sounds really bad but I work for a tropical fish wholesalers but have no training or qualifications for dealing with all the fish especially on such a large scale. I usually am able to find all the information I need on WWM.
Anyway to the problem at hand we have several hundred clown loach in stock at the moment and most of them are dropping like flies,
<Mmm, I've worked in the import/wholesale livestock trade... fresh and marine... Have seen this Cobitid have such massive die-offs. Rapid reaction to the present situation is absolutely critical (hence my immediate resp.), do "bubble in oxygen" or barring this poss., increase aeration... to raise RedOx, supply maximum oxygen here. Dosing with Furan compounds (250 mg./10 gal.s) may be efficacious>
I did a skin scrape on them today and found a parasite/disease I have never come across before. I would post a picture but it cant be seen with the naked eye.
<I suggest your outfit/business purchase an inexpensive pair of
microscopes... See WWM re>
It did look to have a similar body structure to Argulus but it sort of looked squidgier for lack of a better word.
<? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squidgy>
sorry I cant describe it any better.
My question is do you know of any websites with decent pictures of more unusual diseases rather than the usual white spot, flukes etc.
I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me
Thank you
<There is an assortment of in-print works of worth on fish diseases, materia medica... See the names Ed Noga, Nelson Herwig... on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: clown loach with parasites   3/26/10
hi Bob
thank you for your swift reply
I apologise for my British tongue
<No need, though I would remind you that proper nouns, like people's names, are capitalized>
I possibly should have used a phrase like "doesn't appear to be as solid as an Argulus" we do have a microscope that is the only way I could see the organism. I showed the slide to almost everyone I work with and even the boss looked confused by it, and she has been in the business for around 20 years.
<Please send this image along. BobF><<RMF realizes fully that he has NOT addressed the possible crustacean parasite problem here... It has been my consistent experience that "dumping an organophosphate" on Cobitids who are already dying is counterproductive. Very necessary to first arrest other stressors, stop the mass die-off>
Re: clown loach with parasites   4/2/10

Hi again Bob,
I have good news and bad news, I was instructed by my boss to treat the Loaches with the only safe treatment we have for them,
<Which was?>
and it would appear to have gotten rid of the UFO (Unidentified Fishy Organism) so I cannot send a picture of it, however they now appear to be suffering from the 'Skinny Disease' so I am in the process of tracking down the correct treatment as we don't have it in stock.
<Mmm, likely a combination, one time treatment with the anti-protozoal Metronidazole and anthelminthic Praziquantel will "do it" here... IF these fish are eating. See WWM re the use of these compounds>
Unfortunately I can't seem to find the article which had suggestions for what to use. I am almost certain it is skinny disease
<... this is actually a symptom... not a disease per se... Like there is no "high body temperature" disease of humans..., nor "skinny disease" for that matter!>
as they have a very varied diet of bloodworm, flake, mini pellets, cucumber, lettuce and they have some plants in the tank which they graze on if they feel like it (I think these guys have a better diet than me and my own tank at home),
<Heee heee, me too>
I dont feed them all these things at the same time but they eat then have nice big bellies but the rest of their bodies are really skinny. Would you be able to point me in the direction of the appropriate treatment for this?
<Yes... on this page:
scroll down...>
Thank you again for all your help
<Very glad to help, aid your efforts, understanding>
Ps. I managed to track down the book by Ed Noga but unfortunately my boss thinks it is too expensive so I will be adding it to my own private collection on my next payday
<Ahh! I do wish this work was lower-priced... I have spoken w/ the author re... Perhaps a new edition will be so popular that a larger press-run will drive the purchase price down. BobF>
Re: clown loach with parasites   4/2/10
Hi again,
The treatment I used was Sera Protazol.
<Mmm, this is Malachite Green... rather dangerous to use on/with scaleless fishes like Loaches: http://www.sera.de/index.php?id=347&L=1>
It can be a bit hit and miss as to whether it works or not but I'm told its the only safe thing to use that we have.
<Not safe... see WWM re the active ingredient>
I do have a couple of personal questions about my own tank.
1. How long can my fish last without a light as it is having technical difficulties (although they do get quite a bit of sun through the window in the afternoon)?
<Indefinitely. Fishes don't "need" light>
2. I have an Angel that I rescued from work as it was unsalable because of a deformity (missing gill cover), Could this deformity shorten its life span?
I asked at my local Waterstones bookstore and they said there will be an updated version of Ed Noga's book out soon. It will be nice to read something on the subject that was published since 1988.
Thanks again Bob
<Thank you Azz. BobF>

Sick Clown Loach 3/19/10
<Hi, Jan. Melinda with you here today.>
My husband introduced a new Clown Loach about three weeks ago, and things look like they were going good until it died a few days ago.
Not only did the new fish die but so did my catfish and one other Clown Loach. It appears that they had Ick.
<Ohh... is really best to QT new clown loaches... they tend to be more susceptible to ich than other fish, in my experience.>
My question is that my husbands Clown Loach that he has had for around 10 years is sick and we are afraid of losing him as well.
<Of course -- that would be awful.>
We have done the salt and water treatment with water changes and keeping the water temperature at a higher level.
<So, how much salt are you using? What temp is the water at? I tend to use the following treatment for ich: Day one: Add one tablespoon of salt per gallon of water. Day two: Add one teaspoon of salt per gallon of water. Day three: Add one teaspoon of salt per gallon of water. Then, let the tank sit, with the total amount of salt of three teaspoons per gallon, and temp around 83 degrees, for at least a week, even if you no longer see signs of ich. Then do a large water change. I don't do water changes within these ten or so days because to do so would remove the salt, and it really needs to stay in the tank in order to achieve the high level needed to kill the ich.>
Mr. Loach is still sick and just laying on his side and breathing heavily. Is their anything else we can do? He look
better yesterday but then again today he looks worse.
<Assuming water quality is good (Ammonia and Nitrite at zero, Nitrate below 20), and you're properly diagnosing the problem, the above is what I recommend. Often, folks just don't add enough salt, or wait long enough for it to work.>
<Please let me know if you have any other questions, or if this is something you've already tried with no results.>
Thanks Desperate
<You're welcome.
Re Help! FW Ich resp. amendment -- 03/19/10

Hi Bob--
Earlier today I answered a question and provided my method for treating for ich. However, I mis-spoke and stated that one tablespoon of salt should be administered daily, for three days. I re-read the e-mail after you posted them on WWM and realized I said "tablespoon" when I meant "teaspoon!" I'd like to let the querier know; however, I have deleted that query from my folder. Can you either forward this to that person or send me their e-mail so that I can correct my statement to them? Thanks!
<Aye yi yi! Sorry I didn't catch this either... as you might guess, I really don't read through all... And... to save space and as part of my routine daily, I delete the original msg.s, including all's email addresses... So... I don't think the cumulative salt will hurt in this case... and I'll amend your post with this input. Okay? BobF>

Clown Loaches, beh., hlth.  2/18/10
<Hi, Amanda! Melinda with you here tonight.>
I have 2 Clown Loaches and one of them has began to fade and is practically a ghost at this point.
<Firstly, how long have you had these fish? Clown Loaches can take some time to "settle in," and just because one has, doesn't mean the other one is! What size system? Clown Loaches really do better in schools of at least five. Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/clownloachfaqs.htm, as well as the linked files above. They're really great fish, and are so much fun to watch, but really do need buddies to feel comfortable. Also, they can grow quite large (twelve inches, sometimes more), but grow very slowly. Still, something to keep in mind, especially with a schooling fish. The bioload gets to be quite a bit when multiplied by five or six. Also, Clown Loaches do fade at times (I'll discuss below).>
I have not seen him eat and he is in the corner of the tank and near the surface.
<Do you offer hiding places in this tank? I have a large piece of driftwood in my tank that I've deemed the "loach den." When kept in adequate numbers (I have six), Loaches are really all over the tank -- at the top, the bottom, and everywhere in between! However, they do need time to rest, and get away from the direct lighting we tend to subject our fishes to in home aquaria. This is where hiding places come into play.
When the Loaches are in their den, they tend to pile up and look ridiculously cute. When they emerge, they do not exhibit the dark coloration which is typical of the fish. Their oranges and blacks are much paler after they've been in hiding, and gradually darken as they move about the aquarium. On the other hand, color changes in any fish can indicate stress, and if you're seeing pale coloration for extended periods of time, this could be the culprit. Now, the thing is to figure out the cause of the stress. What are these fishes' tank mates? Could they feel predated by any fish in the tank? Are you feeding them adequately? Loaches enjoy the heck out of wet-frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and other meaty fare, but also have no qualms about demolishing a slice of cucumber overnight. So, they need vegetable matter, and if your aquarium doesn't have palatable live plants, they may be suffering. In addition to the wet-frozen foods, which I consider really important to any fish's digestive health, they also love Spirulina wafers and shrimp pellets, Spirulina strips, as well as carnivore pellets and pretty much anything else that
goes into the tank. In addition, Loaches need a lot of oxygen in the place they inhabit most (the bottom of the aquarium), and if the fishkeeper has not provided adequate filtration (eight to ten times the tank's volume per
hour), then this can be a problem. I mention this because of your observation that he spends a lot of time at the top of the aquarium, where more oxygen is present, due to gas exchange which occurs there. What type of filtration are you offering, and are you sure that the water is well-oxygenated? Clown Loaches typically have very adorable whiskers, or barbels, near their vacuum-cleaner-like mouths. Are these whiskers present on your fish (both the sick one, and the other one)? Absence of these can indicate stress, dirty tank conditions, poor choice of substrate, etc. >
I do not see any specks that could relate to ich or diseases.
I have tried every possible sight and pet store and no one seems to know the answer to my question. This is my last hope. Please help!
<Again, I'm wondering how long you've had these fish, whether the system is of a size to hold a group of them for at least a few years, what you're feeding, water quality, oxygenation, and whether you're offering hiding places. There is also an illness in Loaches commonly called "skinny disease," or "wasting disease." This is caused by an internal parasite.
There is some information available about the condition on WWM, and you can find it by using the search bar on our home page. I'd also recommend doing research on this condition wherever else you can find information!
Ultimately, this may be the cause of your fish's problem. However, there are a lot of other factors which could be to blame. At the very basic level, please review water quality, and ensure that Ammonia and Nitrite are at zero, and Nitrate stays below twenty with regular maintenance. This can be done through regular, weekly testing. The thing is, Loaches can be very difficult to treat, because they're what the hobby refers to as "scaleless fishes" (not actually scaleless, I don't believe, just have very small scales), so it's easier to rule out these other factors than try to begin
to treat for this internal parasite, because so many medications harm Loaches that wouldn't affect other fish negatively. If you can remedy his problem through other means, it would be better for him, and easier for you.>
Amanda Strauss
<Amanda, I think the key here is a lot of research on these fish. They're really wonderful, and so rewarding to keep, but even as small guys, do have specific needs, like any fish. If you feel that you don't have the room to add more, or are startled by their ultimate size, perhaps it's better that you return them and find more suitable fish. In any case, as I said, the first thing that comes to mind for many when they hear of a Loach that's not eating is "wasting disease;" however, I have found that by working to suit the fish's needs, the fish begins to eat and gain weight, and in the six Loaches that I have, I haven't seen this disease become evident. I hope the case is the same for you, and you have the chance to enjoy your Loaches, in a larger, well cared-for group, for many years. I know I've asked a lot of questions here, and I only mean to help you understand that a fish's health is in direct reference to every other aspect of his life!
So much has to be considered when a fish starts to exhibit strange symptoms -- it can be confusing. If you have further questions after reading, please feel free to write back.
--Melinda><<Excellent Melinda. B>>
Re: Clown Loaches   2/20/10

Hello Melinda,
My Clown Loach actually died last night sadly.
<I am so sorry to hear.>
I check the water parameters and everything seems to be right on spot.
<What numbers?>
I have many hiding places in my tank including large drift wood, plants, and such. I also turn off my light for a good 10 hours for the night right on schedule daily so they have some "down time" and have a filter that can do up to 80 gallons when I have a 42 gallon tank so I believe it is strong enough.
<Okay. The way you determine whether or not your filtration is strong enough is to take what the manufacturer says the filter's gallons per hour is, and divide that number the number of gallons your tank holds. Don't pay much attention to what they rate the filter for (for example, yours is supposedly for an 80 gallon tank), but instead, use this method. You're looking for turnover per hour of about 6 to 8 times. So, for a 42 gallon tank, you'd want a filter that handles at least 252 gallons per hour.
Depending on how you've stocked this tank, you may even want to go as high as turnover of ten times per hour. So, there are some variables, but knowing how much water filter is moving is a good step towards determining
if filtration is adequate.>
I am not sure about what happened but when I went to take him out of the tank his skin started to fall off.
<This sounds like he was just in the water for a while after he died, and began to break down.>
What cause of death would that point to?
<I don't think it's something which can be connected to the reason he died.
Did you see any red spots/lesions/etc? This wasn't a symptom you listed for me while he was still alive, so I wouldn't attribute it to what was wrong with him. However, please see the link I'm providing below for photos of "slime disease," which somewhat similar to what you describe.>
I've had him for about 3 months and he's always acted a bit different then a usual fish aside from the acting dead (which scares me half to death every time) but now I'm not quite sure how to treat my water or if it could possibly effect my other fish.
<Since you're not providing numbers on your water quality, I can't say for sure whether or not this is an issue. However, if the fish was in the tank for an extended period of time after death, then the tank could experience
an ammonia spike, so it's important to be testing regularly right now. I wouldn't try and treat the water, since we're still not sure what was happening to him. It could have been that he just never acclimated to the tank from his move, or it could be something more.>
My other Loach I know may have "skinny disease" and I do not know how to treat that either but on top of that now he or she is the only Loach in my tank. should I be buying more loaches?
<He'll be miserable alone. Yes, either return him to the store, or purchase a few more... but, as I said, this can seriously increase bioload, especially as these fish grow, and so this may not be the best option, due to this being a relatively small aquarium. There are still some things that haven't been addressed, such as what you're feeding. As I said before, it's best to cover all of the bases before jumping to that conclusion. The mere fact that this fish is living singly could stress him to the point of not eating.>
How should I treat both my tank water to get rid of any disease and my other Loach who may have "skinny disease"?
<I wouldn't treat, because we still don't know what happened. By the time you e-mailed, he was in pretty bad shape, and I addressed a lot of issues which I think are going to seriously affect the remaining fish if you're
not providing those conditions. The feeding and filtration are still question marks to me, as is water quality, and the fact that this fish is alone now is going to stress him more. I would just do a really large water change, and watch the fish for any signs of illness. The fact that you believe the remaining fish has skinny disease means that he either does have it, or he's not being properly provided for, and as a result, isn't gaining weight and growing properly. So, please review the needs I addressed in my first e-mail, and read here on skinny disease:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clnlchdis.htm. The treatment for the condition is listed on this page, as well as a photo with some information on "slime disease." The reason I mention this is that you did
say he lost skin, or scales, when you took him out, and I don't think this is related to cause of death, but the fact that his body was in the water for a little while and began to decay, but I wanted you to see those photos, in case it jogs your memory as to whether you saw anything like this prior to his death.>
- Amanda Strauss
Re: Clown Loaches 2/22/10

The water was at Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrate Round 20 PPM.
<Okay, so that sounds good.>
I him or her freeze dried shrimp and basic bottom feeder wafers.
<This is a diet which I would augment with wet-frozen foods and some other vegetable matter, such as cucumber slices and Nori strips. Dry diets can cause problems with constipation, and we've already discussed these fishes'
need for vegetable matter. Despite being called "algae wafers," if you'll look at the ingredients on most bottom-feeder wafers, they contain a lot of fish meal. This means that the fish has to eat a lot more of it to get the vegetable matter he needs. Feeding vegetable-matter only foods in addition to these will help him get what he needs.>
The filter turn over is about 7 per hour.
<Okay, good to know.>
And if you believe that it might not be such a good idea for me to get more clown loaches to make my surviving one more comfortable, is there no other option other then to return it or watch it be miserable and ultimately die?
<I don't know what your plans are with fishkeeping in general, really, so I'm just trying to make sure you realize what you're getting into if you do up the numbers of loaches to five or six. Without knowing how heavily-stocked this tank is, it's hard to tell, but since, from my observation, these fish grow about an inch per year, I think you'd run into trouble in three years or so, if the rest of the tank is very lightly stocked. The good news is, it's not difficult to get rid of large clown loaches, and in fact, they fetch quite a bit of money (since they do grow so slowly). However, I know that in the time I've been fishkeeping, I've never been able to bring myself to either give away or sell a fish, because I get so attached. This is why, at this point, my house looks more like public aquaria than a house. But, if you don't have the ability to, in a couple of years, upgrade this system for their sakes, or are worried about finding them a new, proper home, then I would not increase numbers.>
I do not think the store will take him back without just disregarding him since I've had him for 3 months already and he has been in a tank with a possibly but not known to be sick fish.
<I think they would take him back, but there's no way to know unless you ask. Another option is to get on some fishkeeping forums and try to find someone near you who already has a group of loaches and wouldn't mind adding another. Craigslist is another option, and you could insist on a home check prior to giving him to someone to make sure they've got what this fish needs to thrive. Anyone who takes him has the opportunity to quarantine him to make sure he's not sick, so don't worry about that part.>
I love my fish. I just don't want to return him if there is a possibility they might throw him out or something.
<Then do try the other methods I mention above.>
I do not think they resell fish.
<Do... this is how I have found many of my fish -- full-grown or half-grown fish which are brought back to the store by hobbyists. I cannot say whether your store does, for example, I doubt a lot of the chain stores do this, but I know many of the more independent stores in my area commonly do this.>
And the link to the photos did not work and google doesn't bring anything up. Just healthy fish.
<The link should have been to a whole page with photos on it. If it doesn't show up as "link," you can copy and paste that into your browser.
If all else fails, use our google search bar and enter "skinny disease." When deciding what to do about this fish, I'd first look at the following:
Do I plan on getting a larger tank within a couple of years? Are other tankmates truly compatible with loaches to begin with? Am I willing to do the work it takes to improve diet to ensure health and long life for these loaches? Please write back if you've got any more questions, or if you can find that page I linked you to with the search bar.
Re: Clown Loaches -- 2/23/10

<Hi, Amanda!>
Okay. Thank you so much for your help Melinda. It is greatly appreciated.
<You're very welcome!>
I will take into account all the space issues and food changes.
<I can see you care a lot about your fish, and you're weighing all of the choices here. That's really great.>
It is good to know I have options and that someone was out there to help me see the many details of this rewarding hobby.
<I totally agree with you -- it's a very rewarding hobby. If it didn't take the work that it does, it wouldn't be so rewarding!>
If I do have more questions would I be able to email you in the future?
<Yeah, absolutely. If, for some reason, I am unavailable, there are plenty of other folks here who can help, as well.>
You are the best, by far, assistance that I have had since starting my many aquariums and I am very grateful to have been in contact with you.
<I am so glad to hear I've been of help. Since we spoke, I remembered there was an article on Clown Loaches in one of the fishkeeping magazines a few months ago which I found to be excellent. Though which one it was still isn't coming to mind, if I can find it, I'll save your e-mail here and let you know which one it was. Or, perhaps someone else (many of the folks on this great crew write articles for the same magazines I excitedly grab from the mailbox and read cover-to-cover each month!) saw that article and knows where it was can either forward that info to you or to me. In any case, I am glad to have spoken with you, as well, and though I know you have room in your heart for these spectacular fish, I hope you'll find room in an aquarium, as well -- they're such great characters and really a joy to keep. Talk to you soon!>

Clown Loaches, prob.s   12/20/09
Hi there.
We've got some problems with our clown loaches rather suddenly.
We came home to find our tank slightly cloudy & two of our three loaches having difficulty breathing - laying on their sides (as they do) but breathing very quickly.
<Do a 50% water change immediately, and another 50% within 6-12 hours. This is the best way to flush out any potential toxins. Do of course take care to keep water chemistry and temperature about the same as they should be.>
When my fiance nudged the one out in the open (the other was in a barrel) to see if he would respond, he just floated away. He had no control over his movements & just floated, landed on his tail for a bit before laying
back down on his side.
<Sounds like a water quality problem. These fish are extremely sensitive to non-zero levels of nitrite and ammonia. Because Clown Loaches are so big, they rarely do well in small tanks with poky filters. For a trio of Clown Loaches, we're talking about a 75 gallon/300 litre minimum. The filter needs to be a heavy duty, high turnover system. A big canister filter with a turnover rate at least 6, and preferably 8, times the volume of the tank
is essential; i.e., for a 75 gallon tank, a filter at least 6 x 75 = 450 gallons/hour.>
They look perfectly healthy, but we changed the water & pumped the gravel, although that wasn't a huge problem as we do so regularly & all the other fish in our tank are absolutely fine.
<Clown Loaches are much more sensitive than most other fish. They are also intolerant of copper and formalin-based medications, so are very easy to poison.>
One of our two poorly loaches managed to get himself wedged in by the pump because he had no control over his movements & unfortunately burnt himself severely, thus leaving us with two of our three loaches - but we still have
one poorly one sitting in the barrel.
<Never, ever put a Clown Loach in a tank with a heater that isn't protected with a heater guard. What you report is sadly all too common.>
Any idea what has caused this sudden illness?
<Likely water quality.>
Can we save our other little loach?
It strange because the third seems perfectly normal & all our other fish are fine too. Why should two clown loaches, out of three, suddenly have problems breathing & being seriously lethargic & 'floaty'?
<Much the same reason not everyone comes down the 'flu every time it comes around.>
We've had the loaches for nearly 4 years; keep them with a Pleco, some Dalmatian mollies & sunset wagtails, & at a temperature of 25oC, with regular water changes.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Unknown disease... Poisoning Botias    11/9/09
I have 3 clown loaches that have lesions on them, some are quite large. The first one that got sick, it began with his eye swelling and becoming cloudy.
<Mmmm, summat wrong here environmentally>
The swelling has gone down, but I do not know if he is blind in that eye or not, and then I noticed these raw spots/wounds on them. They are not eating and laying on the bottom of the tank. I thought that they were dead several times, but they are just hanging on. This has been going on for about a month. I have done several water changes, the temperature has fluctuated a few degrees, I use cycle
<The Hagen product... not necessary in an established (biological filtration cycled) system>
in my tank and add aquarium salt occasionally.
<Also a poor idea>
. I have been treating the tank with Binox,
Too general a "cure"... I would NOT use this product>
for fungus and bacteria, and also using Maracyn-Two, but am not getting any results.
<Actually, you are... you're poisoning your loaches>
I also have 2 beautiful severins that seem to be fine, but I am concerned that they could also become sick. Or the loaches beyond treatment? Should I remove them from the tank? Please help, haven't encountered this problem before.
<... what re water quality? The issue here is very likely poisoning... from? Please read here:
and the linked files above. Akin to "what's wrong with me in the West vs. oriental philosophy/"religion"... you really are perfect, you just need to stop doing what you're about. Bob Fenner>

My clown loaches still have severe ick! -- 09/08/09
I have read many articles on your website about ick and have followed them, however my clown loaches still have severe ick!
<This species is an "Ick magnet"!>
I have done the salt and raised the temp to 84. I lost one catfish and my two loaches have lost their color and still look very ill.
<Hmm... Ick usually doesn't kill fish, at least not quickly, so do review other possible problems. Fish die because the Ick parasite damages the skin, allowing secondary infections to set in. It's these secondary
infections, coupled with stress and quite possibly problems breathing (Ick parasites attack the gills as well as the skin) that lead to death. But since Ick usually turns up when new fish have been added to the tank,
review things like quarantining procedures and whether the water quality is still as good as you think within the aquarium.>
What do I do now? I have groumis and leaf fish in my tank too. It is day three of treatment.
<Do understand the salt/heat method (and indeed ALL Ick medications) kill ONLY the free-living parasites, not the ones on the fish. What happens is this: You cannot do anything about the Ick spots on your fish. By heating up the water, you speed up their life cycle, so they burst more quickly. At that point, those spots die. But they throw out "baby" parasites, the free-living stage, that swim about for 24-48 hours to find a host. If they can't find a host, they die. For that period of time, and ONLY for that period of time, medications and salt are able to kill the parasites. Copper kills the parasites, while salt stresses the parasite and essentially draws all the water out from its cell, killing it. You MUST use the right amount of salt for this, otherwise it won't work. Too little, and the free-living cell will survive, and settle onto a fish, to start the next generation of white spots. You need to use 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per gallon of water.
That sounds a lot, but it's actually a trivial amount in terms of what freshwater fish can tolerate. It's like chemotherapy: the idea is it kills the disease before it kills the fish. Leave the water "salty" for about 2
weeks at this temperature, and you should find the Ick vanishes. After that time, just do regular water changes to slowly flush out the salt. Your Loaches and catfish will tolerate this much better than copper/formalin.>
Can the other fish tolerate the high temps!
<Yes, but add additional aeration if they are breathing heavily, and certainly ensure filtration (water circulation) is good.>
I am very frustrated! Please help-I don't think one will make it thru the night. Thanks Jill
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ick
Thank you for all your help!
<You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ick 9/11/09

I have other questions for you.
<Fire away.>
It has been a week since I did the salt and temp change for the ick. I lost one catfish and one clown loach.
<Not because of the salt, if you did things right. But Ick does make fish vulnerable to secondary infections, and other Ick medications (with copper or formalin) are especially toxic to Loaches and some catfish.>
The other loach had a fungus so I put fungus clear and stress coat in also.
It has been 5 days and the clown loach is still holding on, not eating and laying around. His fungus has cleared. All the other fish are doing fine, no Ick seen. Do you think the high water temp (82) is making him
<Not directly; Clown Loaches can do well in very warm water. But lack of oxygen will stress any fish. When you raise the temperature, you decrease the amount of oxygen in the water. Furthermore, fish at the bottom of the tank (like loaches) will be getting less oxygen anyway than fish at the top of the tank. So you do need to be very careful that [a] there's good water circulation from top to bottom; and [b] your tank isn't overstocked. Adding another filter, an airstone, or a powerhead could all be useful additions to your system if you're concerned oxygen might be an issue.>
How long do I have to keep the temp up?
<About two weeks. You need to mature ALL the Ick parasites on the fish, and this can take about a week under tropical conditions. You warm the water to speed things up, and in theory, at 82 F they should mature within about 3-4 days. If you honestly can't spot a single Ick anywhere, then you can lower the temperature. It won't stop the salt working. With luck, all the Ick parasites have matured already, and there's nothing to lose.>
Thank you so much! You have been a great help.
<Good luck! Neale.>

Velvet help (orig thread 6/06)  5/16/09
Hello Folks, I am back again (original post, same issue, "Need help with velvet, please!! 6/06) in search of any understanding you may be able to shed on my continuing situation with my 7 clown loaches. I have believed this to be velvet. Tiny dots over top of fish's heads, no spots on body,
<Mmm, not Velvet/Oodinium... your fish/es would be dead...>
absolutely impossible to get rid of. There is one fish in particular that never seems to be spot-free. These clown loaches have been quarantined at least 3 times for months at a time and medicated in every possible way imaginable over this time, including long term salt, salt dips, acriflavine/salt/dark, methylene blue dips, raised temps (low 90's), velvet guard, rounds of Maracide, Coppersafe, Cupramine..
<Yikes... I'd stay away from copper containing treatments with Cobitids... too toxic>
there might be more, I can't quite remember at this point. Had I known this would go on for so long, I most certainly would've kept a notebook!
<Ahh, a good idea>
Each time, fish are quarantined, treated, observed closely, moved back to main tank (after minimum of 3 months at a time in QT-main tank left to go fallow during these times). Under the lighting in my QT tank (29g) they can appear to be spot-free, I move them back into main tank, then again see dots.
There is one main fish that always seems to have spots, while others will appear "clear" in main tank after treatments.
Most recently (January 2009), I noticed that not only the main fish had the dots again, but that they seemed to be spreading to the other loaches heads again, they were hiding more, etc. After attempting to treat this seemingly same "disease" since 2006, I was feeling skeptical about my chances of curing it once and for all. Pulled all fish out of main tank (2/09), back into fully cycled 29g. QT. It was then I proceeded to treat with Cupramine full strength as I'd read others having good luck with it. Didn't seem to work so after carbon in filter and waiting a couple of weeks, I did 2 back-to-back full- strength treatments of Maracide. Again, all fish appeared dot-free except one large loach (always the same fish). Afraid of dosing them again so soon, I waited a bit and ordered some ESHa Exit, hearing good things from loach owners with ick and velvet. I went ahead and did the extended treatment described in the directions. I even went 5 full days just to try to push it a little as this obviously isn't going away easily and because I would have no idea what additional medications to try after that didn't work. During the months the loaches were in QT, I converted their 120 gallon main tank into a river tank (with under-sand pvc river tank manifold). The tank is consistently PH 7, nitrates 20-30ish, nitrites 0, ammonia 0, filtered by 2 Eheim 2217 canister filters and now 2 Maxi jet 1200 powerheads for current. Fish again "appeared" spot free for weeks after last QT ESHa Exit treatment, and were returned to newly designed 120g. river tank approx. 2 weeks ago. They do seem to love the current in the new tank and have fun playing in it all day long. I got a close look at the main problem fish this morning though, and it's head is getting covered again in dots, however the dots appear somewhat larger to me now. I have no idea what to even think about trying at this point and am hoping you can offer some sort of wisdom here? It would seem that having the tank salted for such a long time has held off the parasite somewhat, though it appears to never be completely eradicated. Where none of the medications have worked over such a long period of time, I suspected some sort of water problem, but honestly I have no idea what to think or do at this point.
<Nor any real idea of what you're treating... A shame you didn't defer to using a microscope to examine what this might actually be here... But if you elect to continue your blind treatment, look into Levamisole here... as I suspect "flukes" of some sort... rather than a Protozoan complaint... Or best, a QX series scope... Instructions on use are archived on WWM. BobF>
Many, many thanks again for any advice you can offer!

The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras, env. dis.    6/18/08 Hello, <Ave Maria> I've read related posts, and I did see something about separating the loach and feeding him frozen or fresh foods to correct the problem, but I'd just like to make sure that this is correct for my situation, and to ask about another problem with our tank population. <Ok> To give a bit of background, we are currently recovering from a HUGE nitrate spike and battling high temperatures. Our nitrate level has gone from just over 100 to around 30. We know this is still way too high, but it's taking time to get it down with water changes. I'm so afraid we'll shock the fish. This is a 160L tank with quite a few plants, 5 angelfish, 15 neon tetras, 1 Hillstream loach, 1 rainbow shark, 1 plecostomus, and 4 clown loaches. We had 5, but one got very listless and soon died. Our tank stats currently are: pH: 6 KH: 5 GH: 14 NO2: 0 NO3: 30 <Still a bit too high> The current problem loach became very bloated overnight. The other three will cuddle with him from time to time, but when they go off to play, he just stays on his side in a little cave or next to a wall. He is breathing rapidly, and his gills seem a bit red. <Good description, clues> We don't have money for a quarantine tank right now, <Don't need this... just to fix the one they're in now> but we did put him in a clear plastic container with water from the tank. He was difficult to catch. We've also given him some thawed bloodworms. He looks healthy, aside from the bloating, which makes him look kind of pregnant. We've just noticed that he seems to have a little hole in his side, too. Is this the right treatment, or is he lost? <Not lost... not really a treatment... I'd return this fish to the main tank. Being in the container is worse> The other issue involves our neon tetras. We were told that our loaches would benefit from getting some frozen food once a week. My husband thaws the block in warm water, then adds it to the tank. The problem is that our loaches get none of it, since the tetras eat it ALL. Every single one ends up looking impossibly bloated and like they might explode. We've tried adding a bit more, but they just keep eating! Any ideas? <Try other sinking type foods, or placing in an inverted "blackworms feeder" on the bottom> Thanks for taking the time to read this. You guys are always so informative and quick to respond. Thank you! Maria and Ola <Fix the nitrates... the process of doing so will save your loach and other livestock. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras   6/18/08 Thanks! We were very worried about the little guy. We'll keep up our dilution plan until we get to an acceptable nitrate level, and then stick to a schedule of weekly quarter changes. The fish seem so much happier and more active after them. Thanks again! <Dilution is not the only, even likely best route to go. Please read where you were referred to. RMF> Re: The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras   6/19/08 We've already adjusted food amounts and begun vacuuming more often as well. We have a lot of plant life. We'll get to the LFS this weekend and see what we can do to implement the other recommended methods. Thanks again! <Ahh, welcome! Do please make it known how you progress here. Bob Fenner>

Re: The Bloated Clown Loach and the Gluttonous Neon Tetras -- 06/28/08 Hi, Just an update. I've been sick, so there was a bit of a delay in going to the LFS. We have started treating with Tetra's Nitrate Minus, and more importantly, we bought and set up an external filtration system that has five stages of filter media. The fish are already looking more lively. Sadly, Bloaty didn't make it. We should know how well this is working by Monday. <Thank you for this update. Do take care. BobF>

Clown loach hlth -04/11/08 Hi crew, today I bought five clown loaches. <ok> I saw them in my LFS for about three weeks, and I got them today because they looked healthy. However when I got home, and I was inspecting them I realized two of the loaches had one white spot each on their tails. Should I start to treat this with eSHa exit? I am not sure whether I have carbon in my Juwel Rio 400 - I looked inside, all I could see was a black hard sponge, and one green one, one blue one and white sponges. Should I remove the black one before starting the eSHa exit or wait to see if the whitespot goes away on its own? <The black one is a "carbon sponge." So yes, you should remove that before treating with any medications. However, I would wait just a day or two and just observe. Are the spots raised? Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwich.htm> I have five small angels, five guppies and one small bronze Cory also in this tank. Many thanks, Neervana <De nada and good luck, Sara M.>

Fungused clown loach   1/25/08 Hi I have two Clown Loaches and today I saw they seem to have white mold growing on them am not Sure whats happening but they still seem to be active like usual. I was wondering if its the water or do they have an infection. thank you <Mold on fish is extremely bad. It's likely a Fungal infection if it looks like fluffy white threads, or Finrot if the white stuff is dead tissue and you (usually) see some bloody tissue nearby. In either case, early treatment is ESSENTIAL. Furthermore, both of these diseases are 99% of the time related to either poor water quality or physical damage. So you need to check the living conditions of your Loaches before doing anything else. Two Clowns will need a tank well in excess of 200 litres/55 gallons after they are anything more than pups, given that this species is both [a] big and [b] sensitive to poor water quality. Secondly, they are very intolerant of dissolved metabolites in the water. At the very least, check the nitrite level. If you detect any nitrite at all, that's too much, and it means you have insufficient filtration, an overstocked tank, or are drastically overfeeding the fish. Now, treating Clown loaches is complicated by the fact that many off-the-shelf medications will kill them as easily as they'll cure them, so you have to do your research before dumping any old potion into the fish tank. Do read the FAQs on the Clown Loach disease, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clnlchdis.htm  

Emergency with clown loach 1-11-2008 Hello, <Hello Katey,> I have an emergency with my favorite fish, an 11 year old 9 inch clown loach named Mr. Whiskers. He has resided in his 75 gallon with no problems for over a year. I do weekly water changes, no major changes lately (all I can think of is the addition of a large  piece of Mopani wood), all other residents look and act healthy. Nitrates are in safe range (under 40ppm), nitrites 0, water is neutral. <All sounds good.> On to the problem - yesterday (Wednesday) I noticed what looked like a little bit of sand was stuck to one of his sides, but nothing major. Now, tonight he has what looks like slimy, bubble-laced goo patches on both his sides. Strands of this bubble goo trail off as well. This covers a large area on both his sides, with a couple tendrils trailing from his gills. The color of his fins seems a bit washed out, and he is breathing very rapidly. In spots under the slime, and a bit on his head, there are red streaks or spots, like a rash, under his skin. I have attached a couple pictures of him which I think show the slime and red areas pretty well. I am not sure if this is a fungus, or a parasite, or what. <Looks like the sort of thing often called "slime disease" -- a catch-all name for protozoan or bacterial infections that result in excess slime production. The slime can indeed collect bubbles and silt. It is often associated with grayness, and as the situation gets worse with inflamed or dead skin. Can be treated using anti-Finrot/Fungus medications as well as dips. See here for some options: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfishmeds.htm Do bear in mind Clown Loaches react badly to medications of some types, so half-doses and close observation would perhaps be the order of the day, at least to begin with, coupled with extra oxygen to compensate for irritation of the gills. I've also found saltwater dips very effective for treating slime disease.> Now, the major problem is that I am going out of town for a week on Saturday, leaving me just Friday and half of Saturday to treat. I will be back next Sunday the 20th. The medicine I have on hand is Coppersafe and Maracide. Please, what can I do to save Mr. Whiskers? <Not 100% sure either of these will help here, but worth a shot. If the parasite Costia is to blame, then either could help. But there are other types of Slime Disease that seem to need antibacterial medications.> I am not sure if I can get someone to come over during the week to give medicine, but I'll see what I can do. Mr. Whiskers is VERY precious to me and it kills me that this happened right before leaving town. Does it look like a fungus, or parasite, or something else? I will do whatever is in my power to help my little charge. <Very good.> I just noticed that the other clown loach in the tank (he is 3.5 inches) has the start of a few bubble trails off his body and fins, and is swimming somewhat strangely. The other fish, Severums, Leporinus, Firemouths, all seem fine still. <Hmm... bit worried about the Leporinus -- some specimens are very nasty animals, and bite the scales and fins from large fish. Do watch for this.> Thank you so much!!! Katey <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Emergency with clown loach    01/13/2008 Hi Neale, Thanks so much for your response. Unfortunately, Mr. Whiskers was gone this morning. He was cocooned in a thick coat of slime from barbels to tail. I also discovered the problem...when I reached in to get him, the water was so hot a human would be uncomfortable in a bath of that temp. Apparently the heater malfunctioned and super heated the water overnight. It must have started glitching the day before when Mr. Whiskers had just a little slime reaction; just a few degrees hot enough to affect a delicate clown loach but not enough to tell anything was amiss. Then over last night it went wild and...my favorite, most personable fish gone. What is so frustrating is I always went the extra mile doing everything right for such a special specimen...weekly changes, constant testing...but everything can be wiped away with just a malfunctioning heater. I assume the little loach died too; I'm going to search the tank for his body. All the cichlids and Plecos seem okay, so far...I had unplugged the heater and threw in some ice packs. It took hours for the temperature reader to register upper nineties, so my guess is the temp went up past 100. A horrible way to go. Again, thanks for your quick response, I just wish I had caught the problem before it was too late. Take care, Katey <Hello Katey. A horrible story, and you have my commiserations. Let me share a useful tip though: with valuable collections of fish (and which collection of fish isn't valuable?) use two too-small heaters instead of one adequate one. So suppose your tank needs 100 W of heating. Don't use a single 100 W heater but instead two 75 W heaters. Why? Because if one heater jams, it won't have enough power to boil your fish (at least, not quickly, giving you time to notice the problem). Conversely, if one heater fails, the other one will still be powerful enough to slow down the heat loss enough for you to notice the problem in time, and the tank certainly won't get so cold the fish freeze. You still need to check the heaters from time to time, but at least you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that either way, your fish will be safe. Hope everyone else in the tank settles back down, Neale.>

Great pix. RMF

Ich, FW, Botia macracantha... no reading  12/12/07 Hi, I have a clown loach that recently got ich. <... this is a social species. Should be kept in a shoal...> But I am not entirely sure. He has like white air bubbles on his tail and on his fin. <Mmmm, could you send along a pic?> Is this ick or not? Also, is there a very accurate and easy way to tell if your fish is healing from ick? Last, how much salt should I use and how often? I have a fifty gallon freshwater tank. Thanks for all your help. ~concerned owner... Oh, and how do I feed frozen bloodworms to my bottom feeders? Thanks once again <How is it you managed to skip over our instructions for writing us w/o reviewing what is posted? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clnlchfdg.htm and the linked files above. There is just too much that is necessary, related to your general questions to answer succinctly. What you need to know en toto is posted. Go and read it. Bob Fenner>

Rail-thin clown loaches   8/24/07 Hi Guys, Tried to post my question on your forums but got a 'servlet error' I think was what it said. I think you have a very informative website which I enjoy and I'm hoping you can shed some light on this problem with my loaches. I can't believe I've found almost nothing written about this problem. On another website, I found one other person who had posted the same question and no one had an answer for her. Here's what I'm experiencing: I'm losing about 1 clown loach every 2 months. They get VERY skinny and bony. I'll probably lose my 3rd one tomorrow and he is paper thin all the way up to the back of his head! Until today, he's acted perfectly normal except for the skinniness, now he is laying on his side moving infrequently just as the other two I lost had done. I've always had 3 loaches at a time and whenever I've lost one, the other two had looked perfectly healthy. There doesn't seem to be any pattern with length of time in my tank before they get paper thin and die. It seems to strike randomly. One thing I've noticed is that within a couple weeks introduction into my tank, my loaches seem to darken and maybe lose just a little fullness in their body. They seem to go from the typical dark gray stripes you see in pet stores to jet black stripes. 55 gallon tank 20 community fish Temp: 77 ph usually about 7.2 I do 15% water changes every two weeks and my water has been perfect (0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and nitrates) every time I test it. I have a variety of 15 live plants and I feed once/day - usually a combination of flake food and frozen blood worms. I'd appreciate any ideas you may have! Unless I can correct this, I don't think I'll buy anymore loaches and will just wait for the 2 remaining healthy ones to die. Paul <Hello Paul. Clown loaches aren't hardy fish and don't prosper many retailers' tank, and my guess is that they have what hobbyists call "wasting disease". This is caused either by an internal bacterial infection or else gut parasites of some sort, such as worms or flukes. Either way, it won't get better by itself. The problem for you is that Clown loaches respond rather badly to medications, so you need to approach treatment somewhat gingerly, keeping an eye out for unusual behaviours such as gasping at the surface and if required acting accordingly. Ideally, confirm with the manufacturer that whatever drug you are using is Clown loach safe. Antibiotics should be fine, but things with copper and formalin tend to be tricky. Anyway, in this instance I'd treat first for internal bacteria, and once that's done, treat for worms (on the rationale that bacterial infections tend to be more immediately life threatening than parasites). Make sure you remove carbon from the filter while treating the fish. Also, step up your water changes (once the courses of medications are done). 50% weekly is about right for Clown loaches. More broadly, keep in mind all the basic things about Clowns: they're schooling fish, they like water a bit on the warm side (25-30C). They're substantially herbivorous, and so you need to provide things like tinned peas, spinach, algae wafers, Sushi Nori and so on rather than just meaty foods. Like all loaches, lots of oxygen is essential. One last thing: if you find the Clown loaches from one retailer keep dying on you, it might be a "bad batch". Buy them from another retailer next time. Not all retailers are equal when it comes to caring for their livestock. Cheers, Neale.>

Poorly Clown Loach, no useful data   2/14/07 Hi there, <Rob> I have read over the FAQ for articles concerning sick Clown Loach and it seems many people are having similar experiences to mine, however I have already tried some of the treatments you guys have suggested, seemingly with no result. <Cobitids are easily over-mis-treated... as you likely know... Our advice tends toward the end of conservancy... on the Net> Please allow me to explain the situation, just in case anything differs for what is happening to my fish. <Good, please do> I've had the Clowns (and a selection of other fish) for some time now and a couple of months ago I upgraded to a larger tank. I never experienced any problems whilst they were in the smaller tank, and not for the first month of them being in their new home. They had spent a lot of time hiding in the tunnel and laying on their sides, <What they do...> but having researched I know that this is usual behavior. I then noticed, a few weeks back now, what seemed to be small spots towards the back of the Clowns. I assumed that this was just sand which had attached to them as a result of them laying down. <Mmmm> However, they began to start rubbing themselves quite aggressively against the bottom of the tank (along with one of my Denisoni Barbs) <Beautiful species, eh?> which I know is a sign of irritation. I have performed several and frequent water changes, and also tested the water for all chemicals, and all levels seem to be normal, or in no way near dangerous level. <Numbers please...> The spots developed and grew at which point I assumed that it was in fact white spot. <... okay> I used a treatment of eSHa Exit, having removed all carbon from my filters, which doesn't seem to have achieved anything. Their condition seems to be slowly deteriorating and the spots have now turned into patches, their fins almost seem to be "rotting", <... not ich... Perhaps the medicine... or maybe whatever was irritating these fish before...> and one of them looks a little "bruised". I went back to my local fish shop and was instructed to use a treatment of eSHa 2000 in case the patches were excess mucus, but again seems to have had no obvious result. <...> I am becoming very concerned now, as I fear they are rapidly reaching their end. I also don't want to overload them with antibiotics and fear I already may have done so. <Yes> All of my other fish seem perfectly healthy, no sign of spotting or rubbing (even the Denisoni Barb has stopped now) so I am unsure what the problem could be. The only thing I I haven't tried is raising the temperature which I will do now. Any other help of advice you could give would be much appreciated, and thanks in advance. Regards Rob <Can only guess... as you have provided little real data, just your subjective evaluations... I would elevate temperature, use some salt... Per what is posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Poorly Clown Loach  - 02/15/07
Hello, <Hello again Rob> I have tested the water again and the results are as follows: pH is in the region of 7.2 / 7.3 Ammonia is zero Nitrite is 0.1 / less Nitrate is in the region of 20-30 (which admittedly is a little high). <Mmm, yes. I'd strive to keep these below 20 ppm> I change the water regularly, although I think my tap water has a bit of nitrate in it to start with. I try to do a larger water change at least once a month if not more regularly with reverse osmosis water... <I'd change a bit once a week... actually, I DO change about 20% a week in my FW tanks> I have increased the temperature of the tank (gradually) to in the region of 84 degrees. <Good> It has been kept previously at a steady 79. I am yet to add salt, but will look into that later this evening. To further complicate things, when adjusting the heater I discovered 4 baby fry swimming in the corner near the surface! I have never had fry before so I will be spending today researching this on your website!! <Congrats!> Thanks again Rob <Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

Clown loach skinny disease  - 11/09/06 First off, thanks for the wonderful website, I love reading it!  I lost a clown loach that I have had for several months to what I believe was skinny disease last week.  Another, possibly 2, have it now.  From what I understand this is a fast paced bacterial disease.   <Yes, most likely> Would Maracyn be OK to use? <Erythromycin, the active ingredient in Maracyn (1), is fine to try first> Should I move the loaches to the 10g hospital tank or will that stress them further? <Too likely so... I'd treat them in place> Should I treat all the clown loaches in the small tank, or just treat the entire 55g tank? <The latter> The 55g has undergravel filter with power heads, and an outside power filter.  Water parameters are off a bit due to the ever changing and now poor quality of the local water.  We live in a rural area, and I am trying to rectify the water situation by getting water at the LFS.  I also switched my water conditioner from Amquel to Prime at the advice of another LFS, but have seen no difference in nitrates.  It is very frustrating never being able to get them below 20ppm. <Perhaps a reverse osmosis filter for your tanks and cooking, drinking use> Any info on the clown loaches malady or the nitrate issue is greatly appreciated!  Thanks in advance. Sarah W. <High/er metabolite levels are a contributing mal-influence. Bob Fenner>

Clown loach wasting away    10/6/06 Hi from Prescott AZ! <Howdy from S. Cal> I have a 39 gallon Eclipse 3 community freshwater planted tank stocked with 1 male 3 inch gourami, 2 fancy guppies, 3 5-inch clown loaches, 6 2 inch praecox rainbowfish, 3 white clouds, 1 peppered Cory, 2 Kribs and 2 pygmy cories.  This tank has been up and running great without a loss for about a year, with twice weekly 30% water changes.  The rainbow fish and Kribs were the last addition about 6 months ago.  Food Tetra color max flake, brine shrimp blood worm artemia glass worm (frozen Hikari), fresh BBS (any extra leftovers after feeding my killifish), and zucchini/sweet potato.  Ammonia, nitrite are 0, nitrate is 20 or less.  Hardness 180, buffer 120-180, pH 6.8 to 7.0.  Temp 74 to 80 degrees. I lost a female pygmy Cory and 2 guppies for unexplained? <Never fun> reasons 5 months ago.  The fancy guppies just seemed to thin, then flounder at the bottom of the tank for a day then belly up. <Perhaps bacterial ("wasting disease", Mycobacterial... and/or protozoan... Hexamitiasis?) I tried frozen, supposedly "safe" Hikari Tubifex exactly once before the fish began dying. <Very likely unrelated> I ran a UV sterilizer for 2 weeks, blasted the tank with Quick Cure <Toxic...> for 10 days with Maracide 1 and 2 for 5 days. <These antibiotics won't treat for the root causes here either>   I then restarted the biofilter with BioSpira (great stuff - too expensive though).  The tank has been stable for a month, and I bumped up the water changes to 50% twice a week to help keep the chemistry good. Now a clown loach that had been very active, fat and quite dominant has thinned down dramatically, wont "play" with the other loaches, seems to eat only slightly, while every body else in the tank is getting fatter (other loaches) or breeding (the neon rainbows and white clouds).  He has been thinning for the last 3 weeks dramatically and seems only a shell of his former glory.  He has no white spots on him, no velvet or other ich like changes in his skin tone, is very orange and dark black with very dark red fins.  I noticed two small bumps on his sides today.  One is just above his left anal fin on his side with no changes in color of the skin.  The other is on his front right side above his left pectoral fin with two small white spots along the lateral line.  I cannot find anything hanging from his vent (must be a female! LOL), and I haven't seen any discolored feces...I've not seen any feces hanging off any of the loaches for that matter.  He does swim around somewhat, and seems interested in the artemia I place in the tank but doesn't eat much. I've considered that the tank picked up a parasite from the Tubifex worms I put in the tank.... dumb I know, but it said "safe and pure" on the package.  I have to remember that bags of manure also say "safe and pure" on them! Any hope for the clown loach, or should I euthanize it to spare the tank?  Any meds to "nuke" the tank with that will prevent further losses? Thanks Brian <Mmm, I would try (sequentially) a gram-negative laced dried food (if the fishes are all eating) that you can buy expressly made, or DIY, and a course of Metronidazole/Flagyl here. Both can be searched for, found on the indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Clown Loaches - Diseased, or Clownin' Around? - 08/12/2005 We have had 2 clown loaches in a 240 litre community tank for 8 months. They are in with two small eels (7inch) two angel two gourami and some pleco's. <Some....  How many?> Only two small Plecos have been introduced recently.   <Not much space for several territorial bottom-dwellers....> Over the last 24 - 48 hours one clown loach has stayed at the bottom often falling over on his side, <Can be quite normal....  Try a google search with "clown loach playing dead".> and his colouring have gone very dark (like bruising but all over)?   <Possibly a problem....> The other clown loach is desperately trying to help him but I don't what it is or how to treat him? <First, test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Be certain ammonia and nitrite are always ZERO.  Maintain nitrate at 20ppm or less.  If your water is not within this range, do water changes to correct it.  If all checks out, and you see no other behaviour issues with this fish, all may indeed be quite well.  I would "wait and see" for now, and keep a close eye on the fish.> Please help,  -Karen <Wishing you and your fishes well,  -Sabrina>

Clown Loach I have 2 loaches, 2 black tipped sharks(?), and have just added 2 Oscars. I only mention all of the above because I do not remember seeing this problem before the Oscars were added. One of my loaches is constantly swimming at the surface with his mouth wide open, never closing it. He is seriously faded and seems to have red cheeks (I know that is silly but really what it looks like). The sharks are very worried about him and so am I. Can you help me? Kim <Sounds like this fish is extremely stressed... by? I would check your water quality... for ammonia and nitrite at least... Has this tank been set-up long? Is it big enough for these fishes? How is it filtered? Is it cycled? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm - scroll down to Environmental Disease and read the Related FAQs files. Bob Fenner>

HLLE on Clown Loach Greetings, all. I have a 180 gal FW tank. <!> I keep it at about 80F. I have two 13 year old clown loaches <!!>(8+ inches) and two smaller ones (3-4 inches). I also have 9 ghost catfish, 1 black skirt tetra, three hatchetfish and two large-ish Plecos. <!!!> I wrote awhile back about one of the smaller loaches having nibbled fins. Now, I notice that one of the larger clowns (the largest, in fact) has three, almost regularly-spaced craters or lesions (bites?) on his dorsum, just behind the "head". They do not look infected, and he still eats voraciously. The tank is very clean, with bio-ball sump-based filtration and a 40W UV light. 40 gallon water changes weekly.  Could this be hole in head? No white/slimy fecal matter and he acts healthy. The marks are in a row, all inside one of his dark stripes. <It does not sound like the few fish I have seen with hole in the head (HLLE) but it sure is possible. The fact that the holes are "clean" and in a row makes me think it is not HLLE. Although not directly fatal, it can lead to secondary infections that are. Watch for redness or a white pus. I found a good link for you to read up on. See:   http://www.masla.com/fish/hlle.html. BTW Great job on keeping your fish! 180 gallons and a rather light bio load! Big fish in there though. Make sure you check the nitrates and try to keep them below 20ppm. Don> Thanks! <No, Thank YOU!> Tom <Don>

Lumpy Loach -- Mycobacterium Infection? -- 01/11/2005 Hi, <Hello!> I have a 75-gallon tank with three 14 year-old clown loaches and two large green kissing fish.   <Must be some pretty large loaches, at that age!  It wouldn't be a terrible idea to try for a larger tank, if possible.> One of the loaches has large lumps all over his body under the skin, appears to be very swollen -- even his eyes appear to be bulging.  He is hiding in the back of the tank and will not come out to eat; he just stays in the same place breathing very rapidly, in an upright position, leaning on tubing.  He has been like this for about a month and I really didn't expect him to be alive this long since I just noticed his illness right before I went out of town.  I assumed that he had an age related problem since a couple of his tank mates have passed on over the past couple of years.  I haven't been able to find out anything about this particular illness.   <To be quite honest, this sounds to me like a very good indication of mycobacteriosis.  The swelling, pop-eye, and lumps/tumors/granulomas are very strong symptoms of this myxosporidian bacterial infection.  It's really quite a good thing that the critter did not die while you were gone -- a dead fish can release literally millions of 'spores' that can infect other fish in the tank!> The nitrates in this tank stay fairly high even with frequent water changes and Poly-filters in the filters.   <Yes....  These are very large fish in a (comparatively) small tank; increased water volume would really be a good idea.> There are no indications (redness, etc) on his outward appearance that would suggest a bacterial or fungal condition.  I would try to treat him in a separate tank if I knew what to try, or at this point would it be better to euthanize him?   <Sadly, mycobacteriosis is essentially incurable.  There is some indication that Kanamycin sulfate may have some effect, but recovery is unlikely, I'm so sorry to say.  Either way, should you choose to medicate or not, definitely remove the fish as soon as possible from the healthy animals -- I can assure you, you do not want this to spread, if that is, in fact, what it is.  Also, PLEASE read the following link, so you can understand what risk this illness might pose to you:  http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-07/sp/feature/index.htm .  Do please understand that without seeing the fish for myself, I cannot guarantee that this is an accurate diagnosis -- but based on the symptoms you describe, it is my best guess.  Gah, I hate being the bearer of bad news.> I appreciate your consideration. Thank you, Karen Chaney <Wishing you and your loach the best,  -Sabrina>

Clown loach FAQ, actually petfish hypochondria Hi, I have a 75 gallon tank with 5 clown loaches (approx. 5 inches long), 2 catfishes, and 2 discus.  After cleaning the filter in my Fluval 304, I noticed 1 of my clownloaches developed partial eye cloudiness in one eye and another clown loach developed what started looking like a small 1mm x 5mm whitish bump turned into a round pimple-like bump. <Good observations> They have a great appetite.   What can I use to treat them? <Mmm, I prescribe nothing... just time going by... the markings are/were due to abrupt chemical changes in your system... not a pathogen... and besides, even mild medications will harm your other fishes> Do they need to be separated in a "sick" tank? <No> You have mentioned for other internal bacteria diseases or infections to use Flagyl, but how much ? <None> Let say I have Flagyl 500 mg tablet form.   <... this material, Metronidazole is quite toxic... kills the kidneys of fishes easily... Do NOT use it in this instance> Would I go by the approximate weight of the fish ?  What is the weight of a 6 inch 15 year old clown loach ?  Can I crush up the Flagyl tablet and dilute it with tank water then soak it in Tubifex worms ?  Will it further harm the rest of the healthy fish or will the antibiotic make the other fishes bigger and healthier ?  I've heard of using Methylene blue approximately 6 drops per gallon on the entire tank.  What is your feelings on this and where would I buy Methylene blue ?  15 years ago, when I bought the tiny little babies, one of them would not eat and was wasting away.  At that time I didn't have my heart and soul invested in them because I just bought them.   So I figured I would experiment.  I had left over amoxicillin (from my sick cat).  If memories serves me correctly, I crushed up a tablet, separated it to approximately 1 mg, dilute it with water, soaked it with Tubifex (the worms died instantly), then fed it to the sick fish, which was in a breeder tank inside the 75 gallon tank.  So the sick wasting fish would accidentally have to suck and antibiotic soaked worm.  A week later, he was swimming with the rest of the fishes.  The rest of the other fishes ate whatever antibiotic soaked worms floated out of the breeder tank.  And they all lived !! 15 years later they are XXL and were healthy until now.  But now I don't want to experiment.  Please advise.  Thank you for your time.   Tammy <Tam... don't fall prey to the "pill" mentality... these are not "safe" to just add... and there is no need to generally add any of them to otherwise well-maintained systems. I would add nothing here. Bob Fenner>

Clown Loaches with white spots laying on the bottom of the tank I have a new 90L tank (just over a month old). I have slowly introduced 8 Neon Tetras, 1 Siamese Fighting Fish, 2 Plecostomus, 2 Clown Loaches and a growing snail infestation. <Suspect these last two are related> I am a complete beginner here as this is my first ever tank, I have read some books and many web pages but none seem to answer specifically my question. Please let me explain a little first before asking yourselves. After introducing the Clowns they seemed to hide behind plants and rocks for the most part of the day, I hardly ever saw them. <This is normal behavior... they're new.> This did not worry me as they appeared to be doing their job (the snail population dropped dramatically). The Fighting Fish never seemed to display his colours as he did in the shop, this was solved by adding a mirror to the side of the tank. One day after adding the mirror I noticed a little white spot on one of the loaches on the rare occasions I saw them, by the evening it was covered and the other fish started developing it. By the second day I had added Interpret White Spot Plus No6. Over the next few days the spots diminished on all the fish except the loaches, after the second dose the other fish seemed clear and the loaches if not clear at least diminished. The loaches however are no longer hiding in the back of the tank where I can't see them, they are laying one on top of the other huddled up next to they mirror and barely moving. Every now and then they will dart into the middle of the tank for a few minutes then return and lay still for ages. My question is are they still suffering from the White Spot, are they suffering from something else or is this normal behavior? <Likely just the white spot/ich> Please excuse any ignorance here but I really am beginning to worry about them as it says on many pages white spot can be lethal, while on just as many it says it can be easily cured. Tony Robertson <Ignorance is acceptable... we're here to diminish this... Your fish, indeed your tank "has ich"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm  Re: the medication, did you remove all chemical filtration (e.g. carbon) from your filters? This will remove the med. Did you raise the tank temperature? I would... all the livestock you list can easily tolerate the mid 80's F... but not the ich. Know that the loaches are "ich magnets" (i.e. very susceptible to this parasite), AND sensitive to ich medications... you will want to check the label, what you can re the med... and likely use half doses... Don't add any more livestock for a few weeks till after this problem is solved. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Clown Loaches with white spots laying on the bottom of the tank.
Dear Mr. Fenner <Tony> May I say thank you very much for you advice, it has helped to belay my fears quite a bit. <Glad we have helped you> You asked if I had removed the carbon filters, I had as that was an instruction with the white spot medication although I must admit I was unsure as to why I had to do it but my guess matched your reason. You also suggested raising the temperature, this I had not done as the instruction suggested raising it to 26c while I have had my tank at a constant 27c since the second day after installation.  <I might raise it as much as 29C... the rationale: the causative organism (Ichthyophthirius multifilius) cannot tolerate heat as well as its fish hosts> It is now two days since I first wrote and things have improved a great deal with the Clown Loaches. All signs of ich appear to have left all the fish, the loaches (the ones I was worried about the most) seem a tad paler than I recall but they do seem a bit more active. They are not laying on top of one another anymore but rather moving around on the bottom of the tank. I definitely believe they are going to live, which was not my belief a couple of days ago. <Do understand the general life cycle of the protozoan...> I had planned on adding a few more fish later this week but I think now I will wait a week longer. <Yes! At least a few weeks... you may well simply be in "mid cycle"> I'm hoping to add some Angelfish, Red-tailed sharks and some small striped ones I saw in the shop last time I was there but unfortunately don't recall what they were called. I will seek advice from the shop before making any purchases as they did seem very knowledgeable last time. I had been blaming them for the ich in my tank but I now realize and understand that it is extremely common so I'll forgive them, but it won't stop me asking for a discount.  Again let me repeat my thanks as your advice and web pages were deeply appreciated. Tony Robertson <You are welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Clown loaches 'n' columnaris Hi - I purchased 3 clown loaches about 3 or 4 weeks ago. They've seemed fine until about 3 days ago.  1 of them has white around his mouth. Could it be cotton mouth?  How would I treat this?   <This sounds like columnaris (mouth fungus, mouth rot, other names).  I would treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic like Oxytetracycline, preferably in a medicated food, if possible.> I had something similar about a year ago that started with a Dojo and 14 of my 19 fish perished.  I treated it with Penicillin upon advice from a local fish store.  I have a 29 gal tank. Testing yesterday showed everything was fine. <What were your test results?  Usually this bacterial illness is brought on by high nitrates, perhaps a pH other than what the fish prefer, low oxygen concentrations, etc.> Thanks SG <Wishing your fish a swift recovery,  -Sabrina>

Treating clown loaches for Ich (10/14/03) <Hi! Ananda the clown loach nut here tonight...> After a 35% water change, my 5 clown loaches developed ick.   <Uh-oh.> No fish had been added to my tank in months so I'm pretty sure it was caused by the water change. I use Reverse Osmosis water and there is no control of temperature.   <Yep, that'll do it. You need to get a container big enough to hold all your water-change water and get a heater for it.> I introduce it a gallon every  30 to 45 min.s or so so the tank has a chance to heat keep up.   <The initial temperature shock is enough to trigger the ich.> ANYWAY, after the loaches developed ick, I tried Ick Away for several days (with charcoal filters removed and temperature up to 82) which did nothing to help. <Argh. I have yet to hear anything good about "Ick Away".> I then went to CopperSafe before leaving for the weekend.   <Never use copper with loaches! They're just too susceptible to it.> When I returned, 3 of the 5 were dead and the other 2 were covered in Ick.  Within a couple hours, they died too.   <Sorry to hear that... hopefully you've done another water change to take care of the probable ammonia and nitrate spike?> None of my other fish have ick.   <Clown loaches are ich magnets, so I'm not surprised to hear they got it bad but nothing else did...> My tank is a 30 gallon with an Emperor 400.   <That's what I use on my 30 gallon tank. But...with copper added to the tank, the bio-wheels have been sterilized and are going to be ineffective until the tank re-cycles. You're going to have to do more frequent water changes for a while. Your other option is to get some Bio-Spira, which must be refrigerated until you use it, as it contains live nitrifying bacteria.> Fish are 3 Rummy Nose Tetras, 2 Corys, 2 Rosey Reds, 3 Red Platy's, 3 Black Molly's, and  3 Otocinclus. <You're almost at the maximum fish capacity this tank can hold. With the loaches, I would characterize that tank as overcrowded. I keep my loaches in a 55 gallon tank -- they're still fairly small, about 3" long -- with the knowledge that they're going to need at least a 90 gallon tank in a couple of years.>   What is the BEST way to cure Clown Loaches of ICK.   <Many people use their ich medication of choice at half-strength, for twice as long as is generally recommended. That, and they crank the tank temp up. Personally, I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to my clown loaches. I've used "FW Ecolibrium" when they had ich -- it's more expensive than most ich meds, but it's completely safe for scaleless fish. I have a couple of bottles around, though I've been able to avoid ich since the first time they got it by carefully matching new water to tank water for water changes and by quarantining any new fish that get added to their tank. I got the Ecolibrium through Drs. Foster & Smith (they're a WetWebMedia sponsor, so you can get to their web site from the banner at the top of the Daily FAQ page).> And while I'm at it, what's the best way to cure most fish of ICK?   <Increased temperature: 86 degrees or higher for 10 days. And salt -- "freshwater" salt, not marine salt, since you don't want to change the pH. Your mollies and platies won't mind salt at all (mollies actually prefer some salt in the water). The rest of your fish should be able to tolerate a bit of it for a while. The level you need is 2 ppt salinity, which generally works out to a specific gravity of 1.002-1.003. Get the Aquarium Systems SeaTest hydrometer to check the specific gravity (it's the only one that measures low levels, except for the glass thermometer/hydrometers -- which are pretty easy to break). You'll need to find a temp. vs. s.g. chart to convert the actual s.g., since the SeaTest is calibrated for 76 degrees and your tank will probably have a higher temperature than that.> I've been searching the web high and low and I've seen nothing definite on the cure for ICK that seems to work. <One person's experiences with ich and her clown loaches: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=3&thread=11808 > Thanks for a great website. <You're welcome -- check out our forums, too!> -Mike P.s.  GO CUBS!!!!! <Ah, they lost tonight. :-( Maybe tomorrow night... --Ananda>
Re: Ich on clown loaches (10/16/03)
Ananda, thanks for the great info.   <You're welcome!> I'll check out Drs. Foster & Smith for proper medication (by the way, their catalog is almost a quick guide to proper fish and tank care.  It's indispensable.)   <I use it a lot, too, but more for finding out which things are supposed to do what! But do compare their information to others' -- you may find that a phrase can be misinterpreted, or someone else's version may make more sense, etc.> My LFS told me that CopperSafe was the *BEST* way to cure ick for Loaches.   <Ack! Sounds like someone was seriously mis-informed....> I prefer the method of Sea Salt and raised temperatures to any medication.  Not because of the cost, but because I hate adding any chemicals.  Is there a salt level/temp setting I can use all the time that would be preventative against ick?   <Hmmm. Any increased temperature for long periods is going to speed the metabolism of the fish as well as any parasites -- and speeding the fishes' metabolism will shorten their lifespan.> Just curious.  Or after the 10 days at 86 degrees should I just bring it back down to 78? <That would be my recommendation.> Thanks again for the help and a big thank you to the team for such an informative website.   -Mike <Thanks for the kind words. --Ananda> P.s.  Go CUBS - Game 7!  :) <*grumble* There were no fireworks in Chi-town last night....>

- Skinny Disease? - I just lost one of my clown loaches... had 2, he got real skinny within 2-3 days... he just stayed on the bottom... would come up and try to eat but looked like he did not get much. Someone said it might be "skinny disease" what is this... <Caused by bacteria.> how do you treat it... <Antibiotics - erythromycin in the food.> And how do you prevent it. <Keep on top of water quality issues - most often, disease susceptibility is directly related to water quality.> Had added a dwarf gourami recently but had been QT'ed for 3 weeks... and looked fine. Please help... don't want to loose anymore clowns. <Please tell more about your husbandry - water change regimen, what you feed, water parameters, etc.> Thanks in advance, Monica <Cheers, J -- >

Dead clown loach - 'skinny disease', or worms? me again.... <Sabrina, here> answers to your questions....I do a 20%-30% water change once a month...ph 6.6, no ammonia, no nitrites, <Excellent.> I feed them a variety of things...zooplankton, Tubifex worms, <Tubifex - live, frozen, or freeze-dried?  Live Tubifex are pretty well known for their tendency to transmit disease; probably not the best option....> shrimp pellets, tropical flake food, gammarus...frozen shrimp....a good mix of things I thought. <Yes.> Like I said in my previous email...everyone seems to think it was skinny disease....a parasite that they say can be in the loach already and 6 months to a year or more kill them.... <I've found some conflicting information on this - some sources say 'skinny disease' is a bacteria, as Jason said previously, and some say it's a Microsporidean - a protozoan parasite - and is difficult to treat.  However....  As I read this, I'm rather certain that, whichever way it is, you're not looking at this 'skinny disease', but at an internal large-type parasite (rather than a protozoa or a bacteria), like nematodes.  This is common in wild fish.> because they come from the wild....I had read that you can treat  prophylactically with Levamisole hydrochloride to keep this from happening...but did not find out where to get it or how much..... is this true? <I would agree with this advice - Levamisole or Piperazine are the route to take for internal wormies.  Look into "Discomed" or, if you can find it, "Dewormer", both by Aquatronics.  The former is administered via food, and contains Levamisole.  The former is already *in* food, and contains Piperazine.  Either route should do the trick.> You had mentioned medicated pellets with erythromycin....I have medicated pellets but it is tetracycline...for bacteria...would that be sufficient if this happens again? <I'm rather convinced that you're dealing with a parasite, not a bacteria.  I'd suggest, if you're considering getting in more wild-caught fish, first and foremost set up a quarantine tank so you can nail illnesses before they get into the main system.  Secondly, keep good antibacterial meds on hand, as well as anthelminthic (worm killin') meds on hand.  Medicated food is probably the best route.> In regards to that, I read that loaches with skinny disease do not always eat and by feeding with the pellets it might do more harm than good by damaging bacteria in filter and gravel... throwing ammonia and nitrites up therefore hurting other fish........ <Unlikely.  If the loaches don't eat the food, the other fish will, most likely.  I don't see much likelihood at all of causing harm to the tank going this route.> Sorry so many questions... <Don't apologies - it's totally understandable.> I always find conflicting info on the net....& never know what to believe.... <Conflicting info - yes, indeed.  And there are many ways to skin a cat - and everyone you talk to will give you a different way.  -Sabrina> any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance,  Monica     

Skinny-wormy-loach follow-up I feed freeze dried Tubifex. <Great.> Thanks for all of the info. <You betcha.  -Sabrina> Monica

Black Spots <Hello! Ryan here> I was researching your site but I couldn't find much on Black Spot on clown loaches. I had just transfer my clown loaches to a new 55 gallon, that was set up for 8 months. Few days later so far what I can see 2 of them developed black spots on their bodies and fins. Please help, I heard that loaches are very sensitive to medications because they don't have scales. Any recommendations? This is already 3 days later, hope I don't loose them. Thank you, hope to hear from you soon. Iveta . <1 drop per 2 gallons of Maracide should be fine.  This can be increased to 1 drop per gallon if needed.  Please do this in a quarantine to be safe.  Clown loaches can be on the sensitive side- so add the Maracide gradually.  It's the sudden change in aquarium conditions that are deadly.  Best of luck! Ryan>

Clown Loach with Distended Stomach (05/29/03) <Hi! Ananda here this morning...> One of my clown loaches, "he's" only about 2.5" so still young, suddenly developed a heavily distended belly.  The fish is otherwise healthy and has been, swimming around, eating voraciously.  I did drop a pea in the tank earlier in the day. <One of my clown loaches got rather bloated-looking once. I tried peas, but they weren't interested. I did some reading and found that it might have been their diet of mostly dry (and freeze-dried) foods. I took my bloated clown loach and put him in a hospital tank with one teaspoon of Epsom salts per five gallons of tank water. The next two days, I added another teaspoon each day, so I had a tablespoon of the Epsom salts per five gallons of tank water. I then fed the clown loach treats like frozen/thawed bloodworms, live blackworms, and even a few Mysis shrimp. In about a week, my clown loach looked like his more slender self. I did do a daily 5%-10% water change, adding back enough Epsom salt to keep the level up.> But I also removed another clown loach from the tank that hadn't eaten in at least a week or two, and was "wasting away". <What are you feeding them?> All other parameters in the 30G tank are fine: ammo, nitrite, nitrate all at 0.  UV sterilizer running fine.  Other mates are 3 male rainbows not quite full grown, 6 cardinal tetras, 3 albino pristellas, a Rubbernose pleco and two baby dwarf Bristlenose (both under 2"). <Hmmmm. Depending on what kind of rainbows you have, I think you are either pushing the limits  or passing them on stocking this tank.> Any idea what is with my clown loach's tummy and if I should be worried? <If it isn't just bloat, it may be parasites. If that's the case, I'd suggest Metronidazole, at half dosage for double the duration.> Or did he just swallow half of the pea (it broke in half upon entering the tank) and it is showing (seems unlikely to me)? <If the swelling is visible for more than a few hours, it's not just an undigested pea... --Ananda >
Re: Clown Loach with Distended Stomach (05/30/03)
<Ananda here again> Thanks.  I think it was something "he" ate!  Looks fine now (and did yesterday too).  Probably, he can't believe he ate the WHOLE THING! <In other words, "Clown loach go >burp!<" ...  Thanks for following up with the good news... --Ananda>

Clown Loach Question About two months ago I purchased a large (4-5") Clown Loach to add to my 72 gal bowfront aquarium. About 2-3 weeks ago he developed black spots over his body?  <Don't know, does it?> None of the other fish (5 Gouramis/5 Corys/1 pictus cat/2 balas) developed black spots. All the fish, including the loach continue to eat fine (dry flakes/fresh worms).  <I see> The water is clear, the ammonia and nitrate are basically nil. The water is 6.7ph. I do about 15% water changes every two weeks and vacuum the bottom. The live plants are not only doing well, I have a great crop of baby plants coming up.  <Sounds good> But I have a black spotted clown loach? The spots do not look like any type of parasite. Once in a while the loach will rub against some sandstone rocks, but its very infrequent (almost only for a couple of days after I change the water)?  <Nothing to worry about in my estimation. This fish species does "scratch" quite a bit... and I've seen these "melanin" markings in them as well> So are the black spots dangerous to the other fish? Is there anything I should do?  <Enjoy your fish/es... Perhaps get it a pal... they are social animals... maybe a nice "castle" or other dark hiding, fun place for it to hang... Bob Fenner> I appreciate any information you can provide me. Thanks - Mark Corrinet.

Sick clown loach Hi I have two clown loaches in my aquarium for the last 2 weeks. Today I found him lying on the bottom of the tank and the colour in his stripes are slowly fading. I know clown loaches are prone to lying on the bottom of the tank looking dead but it is the fading colour that is worrying me. Do you have any idea what may be wrong with my loach?? <Very very likely nothing is wrong at all... Clown Loaches are notorious/well-known for both their brilliant, delightful coloring, markings AND clown-like behavior... Do check your water quality, perhaps offer some favorite food (like blood worms, tubificids...) and don't worry. If the other loach looks fine, and neither have symptoms of outright disease, they're likely fine. Am sending your note to our resident loach-man, Jeff, for his input. Bob Fenner> Thanks Lisa
Re: sick clown loach
Hi Robert My clown loach died today however the other one is still healthy and swimming around normally so hopefully it will stay healthy. The one that died seemed to be smaller and had lost weight since we bought it. Lisa <Sorry to read of your loss. Have witnessed these mortalities in newly acquired Clown Loaches... consider that "something", likely parasitic or infectious, is wrong internally... not catching in most all cases. Bob Fenner>

Sick Fish????? Robert (Bob), I have two fish now that seem to have the same problem... From what I can figure out, it seems to be swim bladder disease. <Mmm, but what is the cause/s of the swim bladder anomalies?> Here are the symptoms.... The first fish, (Red Platy) I noticed about two weeks ago. He would seem to rest on the bottom of the tank and occasionally make a swim to the surface of the tank. After closer observation I noticed that he wasn't just resting on the bottom, but seem to be having trouble swimming. By which I mean, that it seem to take great effort to move from any given spot. Seem to move in place. After keeping close eye on the little guy for about a week I decided he wasn't getting any better. If anything it was worse. So at this time I place him in a 5 gal. quarantine tank. I added 1 tsp. of Aquarium salt and 1 tsp. of Fungus Eliminator by Jungle Labs. He's been in the quarantine for approx. 4 days now with no visible improvement, (doesn't seem to be getting worse either). Now I've noticed my second victim to this.... Prob. my favorite little guy in the whole tank. It's a beautifully colored clown loach. I've been watching him for the past two days in which he seem to rest on the bottom with very little movement and what seem to be heavy breathing with his mouth acting like it was gasping for air. He then decided to hide in one of the caves I have setup. He finally came out this evening and just sat there showing the same signs as when I saw him a couple of days earlier. I continued to watch him through the evening and he finally came to a resting point on the bottom against the front of the tank, ( kinda leaning toward one side... almost laying on one side.) At this point I placed him in the quarantine tank as well. Now for my question.... Am I correct in the diagnosis??  <Mmm, you are to be commended for your keen interest, careful observations...> Is there anything I'm doing wrong?? ( by the way, the tank does have a few live plants, and PH and Nitrate/Nitrite levels are all right on target) What can I do to correct this problem?? and get my little buddies feeling well again. <I do believe the Platy is suffering more from "genetic" causes than anything else (not infectious, parasitic disease, nutritional deficiencies... and that it will get better or not... of its own accord (nothing more you can really do for it)... This livebearer does just "have problems" of this sort nowadays... sometimes, large numbers of imported livebearers show this symptomology. And the Clown Loach is really just doing "what Clown Loaches do"... in resting at odd angles, breathing hard at times, hiding in castles... Not to worry here. If you want to see it out more often, do consider adding one or two more. I would place it/him back in his main tank.  Sincerely, John R. Aulgur <I am sending your note to a friend, Jeff, who is also a Clown Loach keeper. For his comments, input. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach
Just wanted to update you on the Clown Loach situation. Unfortunately he passed away sometime last night. I found him on his side, not breathing, and the color in his stripes slowly fading. Checked the chemistry of the tank and all seems fine...,(within required levels). Not sure as to what or why he ended up this way, but as soon as I can find some more I will try again.... (of course after doing a little more research/reading). Thank you once again for the help. <Ahh, sorry to hear of your loss... this does happen with Clown Loaches at times... unfortunately. Less when they're in a group... and ones kept for months tend to live for years... sometimes many. My thoughts are with you. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, John R. Aulgur
Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Jeff
I concur. The Clown loaches do rest at odd angles, sometimes on their backs or upside down! This is perfectly normal. So is the appearance of heavy breathing. I've had three loaches for quite some time and they have always exhibited this behavior. Bob's right about getting more, the loaches love to school and chase each other around all day long. We started with one and he was pretty sedentary until we added another. Our single loach would hide in a small flower pot almost constantly until we got another. He's now grown from 1.5 inches to over six inches, so its impossible for him/her to fit through the opening now. <Ah, as good a response as I had hoped for> As far as the platys, we have platys with our loaches as well and they seem to fall ill after 6 months to a year and gradually darken, start breathing hard and then die. No other fish in this tank seem affected. Various attempts at treatments including salt and antibiotics in quarantine tanks have failed to help. I have noticed that the pH can hasten this. A pH drop to below 6.8 for more than a couple of weeks will generally result in a fatality or two. Since you are keeping plants, your pH is probably near neutral or slightly acidic. This might be something to look into. <Thank you Jeff. See you soon. Bob Fenner/Dogfish>
Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Jeff
Thank you for you quick response. Really helped to have someone who is more knowledgeable put my mind at easy quickly. Once again, thank you for your help and quick response. Sincerely, John R. Aulgur <A pleasure. And you did receive the response from Jeff? I cut/pasted it below. Bob Fenner>

Clown loach no info.   2/10/06 I have a community tank consisting of tetras, a pleco, and recently the addition of 4 clown loaches in an attempt to look after a snail problem....three of the loaches are doing well, good colour, active, etc. However the third has lost colour, is very faded, and spends much of it's time away from his peers, often at the top of the tank swimming erratically. I'd read that the ammonia could be the issue however have tested and they are 0%, like wise the ph is good. what now? help Rebekah <... water quality? Temperature? See WWM re requirements, ranges. Bob Fenner>

Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/9/06 Hi- <Hello there> I bought six clown loaches this past fall (lost one right away but still have 5).  For the first few months they were very visible in the tank and quite active; even clicking excitedly over their algae chips. <Ah, yes> But for the past few months, they spend almost all of their time hiding behind a few pieces of slate that I have in the tank.  Nothing has changed in the tank  - not inhabitants or decor or plants (or outside the tank for that matter). Except that I did have 4 Rosy Barbs when I brought them home.  I'm down to one now so I'm wondering if a lack of dither fish could be the problem? <Yes, could be... or perhaps whatever led to their loss> The one Rosy doesn't seem to be as active as he was either.  The Corys and Gouramis behave the same and in fact the Gouramis may be more active than they were.  The loaches don't have visible signs of Ich but could a behavior change be a symptom? <Yes, but you would see the spots... and quickly> I'm especially wondering about the dither fish because I don't really want any more fish in the tank but I would get small active fish if you think that could be the problem. Thanks for all your help solving puzzling fish problems! Holli <I would be changing more water, more frequently, checking your temperature, water quality... to suit these fishes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/10/06
Thanks for the speedy reply.  Actually after I lost the Rosies, I increased my water changes to at least 90% once a week.   <This is too much at one time...> Sometimes twice.  My water is too hard but it was hard for the first few months too. I'll try the dither fish and see how they like that. Holli <Real good. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Clowns?  Uhh, Clown Loaches? - 11/25/2005 I do hope you can give me some insight as to what may be going on with my clowns.... <Clowns....  Freshwater....  I'm going to have to assume you mean clown *loaches* here, yes?> I have a 35gal tank and I have 4 clowns aging from 6 yrs to 12 yrs old <These are slow growing animals, but by 12 years of age, under proper care, they should be nearing a foot in length.  These animals should be in a much, much larger system, if this is the case.> and I have never had any problems with them. Last night at feeding no one came out they all are staying in there hiding spot inside an urn. Now tonight I have lost one of my guys and I notice on him that the tips of his tail are white and a few spots. <Not quite enough description, here....  If these are white spots like grains of salt, please read here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the files linked at the top of that page.> I still have 3 that don't seem to have the spots but once again no one came out to eat. <A bad sign.> Also in the tank is an angel that does not seem to have any problems, so it is confined to my clowns. <Mm, if it is ich, it is the entire tank that is infected.  But again, there's just not enough information to go off, here.> Where do I start and what can I do??? <Start by testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite must be maintained at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.  If these are not so, fix them with water changes.  Beyond that, please read about health and disease here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .> Any help in this will be great.  Thank you,  -Dawn Tweedy <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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