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FAQs on Discus Disease, Pests 2

FAQs on Discus Disease: Discus Disease 1, Discus Disease 3,

FAQs on Discus Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Trauma, Treatments  


Related Articles: Plants + Discus = Wow! by Alesia Benedict, Planted Aquariums: Plants and Discus: What They Need To Thrive  By Alesia Benedict, Discus Divas, Glitz, Glam and Lots of Demands by Alesia Benedict, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General


Related FAQs: Discus 1, Discus 2, Discus Identification, Discus Selection, Discus Compatibility, Discus Behavior, Discus Systems, Discus Feeding, Discus Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Discus disease  2/1/08 Hi, <Greetings,> I have a tank of 120,50,50 cm , <That's about 300 litres by my reckoning.> with 8 discus . <On paper at least should be acceptable.> suddenly, my fish start to die without a real warning except a white tail and a white eye, <Sounds like either excess mucous production or dead skin or Finrot/Fungus. In any case, likely caused by water quality problems and/or sudden changes in water chemistry.> and that's get harder during the night, <Don't understand this.> I lost 5 discus in 2 days . <Whenever you lose more than one fish, especially in a short period of time, you MUST check water quality. Almost always, when several fish die, it is because something is wrong with the water, not the fish themselves.> I'm using an r o filter, <Reverse Osmosis water is good for Discus, but it MUST be mixed with some source of carbonate hardness. Tank-bred Discus don't need very soft water, and very soft water isn't easy to work with. Because it lacks carbonate hardness, the pH can change suddenly, usually towards the acidic, and this is intensely stressful for fish. So check the carbonate hardness. As a ball-park estimate, if your local tap water is hard (say, 10 degrees KH, 20 degrees dH) mix it 50/50 with the Reverse Osmosis water. The resulting neutral, moderately hard water is absolutely perfect for tank-bred Discus, and will give you much more precise control of the pH over time.> plus co2 system for plants , <Without carbonate hardness, the CO2 will cause dramatic pH changes, so again, make sure you are providing some carbonate hardness.> and a timer to regulate my lightening and other equipment (air pomp,co2..). temperature is always 30 Celsius, <Sounds fine.> I feed my fish 3 times daily (bloodworm, brine shrimp, flakes...), <OK.> &I change water once to twice weekly, <Hmm... if all you are using is RO water, I'd be very concerned about pH changes, so please let me know something about the carbonate hardness (KH) and the pH of the aquarium.> and am using a uv lamp also 24/7. <Useful, but doesn't completely prevent disease.> I tried many treatment like parasite fighter internal &external ,white spot preventer, hole in head treatment , <These won't make the slightest difference if water quality/chemistry is the issue.> ..I really need ur advice. I didn't had any problems for more than 2 years until now ,its like a curse. <Unlikely a curse!> Thank u for ur time. <Please don't write in TXT speak; we don't like it here at WWM.> B.K <Hope this helps, Neale.>


SICK Discus PLEASE ANSWER ASAP!  1/14/08 Sick Discus Just got some discus from an online place. They got here and after a day, one has a pimple on it and the one next to it looks like a "c" shape. I am thinking some kind of worm. I started to treat with tetracycline (suggestion from place I bought them from at 1/2 the dose) and now I think I need to switch to Praziquantel since that will kill flukes (they're breathing fast) and these worms. QUESTION..... I did a 1/2 dose of tetracycline yesterday and I was wondering with a 50% water change, could I put in the Praziquantel. Or should I use something to take it out of the water? I have the temp at 92 to speed up the cycle. They are not really eating like they were yesterday. It was 88 then. I read that 93 is like the magic number for discus disease. Please advise..... Can I combine the two, or can I just forget the tetra. and start the Prazi after a 50% water change. BTW these are National fish Pharmaceutical products..... really good stuff! Thanks! < Hopefully you have them in a quarantine tank. I think 92 F is way too high. At that temperature the water can almost carry no oxygen at all. This could account for the heavy breathing and the lack of appetite. I would drop the water temp down to 83 F. If they are breathing normal you might think twice about the Praziquantel. If it still looks like a bacterial infection I would recommend the tetracycline only if they are in soft water. The minerals in the water sometimes affect this medication. Another medication to consider would be Nitrofurazone. If they are suffering from Hole-In-The-Head I would start treating with Metronidazole.-Chuck>
Sick Discus Part II - 1/17/08
Hi, I talked to Brian Aukes, PHD who is at National Fish Pharmaceuticals on line and sent pictures. < You never sent any photos to WWM.> He identified it as Chilodonella. <<W/o microscopic examination? RMF>> < This is easily cured using salt but is usually seen on koi or goldfish.> He also said what you said and I am lowering the temp to 86 F. 83 F is too low for babies anyhow. This tank is NEW so it is a QT tank and display ALL IN ONE. I have had my 150 gallon as a reef, so you don't need to tell me about QT! lol! You never answered the most important question and that was if tetracycline and Quinine Sulfate (which is in the family of metro) can be mixed and the answer I got from Brian was no. < I actually recommended two other medications that I have used together.> I did a 25% water change, am lowering the temp (yes I know, over a few days) and put in carbon for 24 hours before I start with the Quinine Sulfate. He said Metro would work as well, but suggested I use the Quinine since there were few things going on. Problem I have is I had read about that 93 F and it always worked before but you have a TON of aeration. Brian told me that the discus females become sterile at that temp! I was glad my females were not here yet! Sheesh! I would like to ring the neck of the idiot who wrote that article! Well Brian to the rescue again! GUY IS GREAT!!!! < Hopefully this treatment will work for your discus.-Chuck.>
Sick Discus Part III - 1/17/08
Just found out that 93 will NOT KILL FEMALE EGGS! IN FACT, that temp was keeping a plague like disease from getting worse! So I am BACK UP TO 93! How do I know? I talked with Gabe at Jack Wattley! Finally, someone who can give me correct advice! He said to get rid of the Quinine Sulfate since it is a poison and use Paraguard. I have to do 3 30% water changes over the next 3 days and then put in carbon for 48 hours before I put in the Paraguard. This morning they ALREADY look better!!!!! Gabe told me that discus will die at 100 degrees and their brains will cook before their eggs will. You know I raised a blue diamond pair in 93F for 3 weeks when they were babies and NOT eating. That grew them out, and GUESS WHAT? They laid FERTILIZED TAN EGGS when they became adults. So my common sense and intuition were correct. So PLEASE take off that 93 will kill the discus egg comment! That is wrong. Like Gabe said, don't you think if that was the case that breeders would do that to eliminate competition???? YEP I DO! 93 F is FINE IF you have tons of aeration, which I now do. PLUS, with a planted tank, you WILL have more oxygen anyhow. So I am going back to my original 93F plan, since I have done this over and over and cured any disease that EVER popped up over the last 2 years. Yes, I have plenty of aeration, since that is just common sense. The reason they are breathing heavy was more from the disease, since their breathing did NOT slow down that much when I lowered the temperature. So, if someone reads this, and you are the one who wrote that 93F cures it all article, THANK YOU and I apologize for listening to those who do not BREED for a living! Take care you guys!!! < Write back after you fish are cured.-Chuck>
Re: SICK Discus PLEASE ANSWER ASAP! 1-22-08 Heated Up Discus Doing Better
Well Chuck, You said to email you when they are all better, and all (except one baby and one adult) have gotten their brightness back, swimming around and eating. EVEN the baby and one adult are both eating and lightening up from almost a black-blue color, so I will LEAVE my tank at 93 (temp shows 91.2, but all 4 heaters are at 93) for 2 more weeks and continue STRONG aeration. This is the 2nd day I have added Paraguard from Seachem and the 2 sickest are responding like I said. So that is really exciting and I am very happy for them! < Glad to hear that your fish are doing better.> My philosophy is "Lets not assume we have THE answer" but to always be open to suggestions. This is how we learn. Do not condemn an idea that is different or that we are unfamiliar with. < When people write WWM they are seeking advice on a situation with their aquatic organisms. Recommendations by WWM crew members are given based on the info received. In your particular situation you sent a few descriptive lines about some marks on the forehead of your discus, with no photos attached. These recommendations are based on first hand experience or at least by published literature and studies. Your fish belong to you and you are free to treat them as you see fit. You are not required to follow this advice. Nobody here has condemned anyone for trying something new.> (I am sure in the early centuries they thought they were right about blood-letting for sick people that ultimately killed them!) We also have to follow our instinct. We cannot assume the person who is writing for advice is stupid and does not understand the oxygen to temperature correlation, (like you guys did to me) but guess what, if the PH <pH> is lower, there is more oxygen in the water ANYHOW. And yes, more frequent water changes are needed during that time, I know. I do not like being attacked when I need advice. < Nobody ever gets attacked at WWM for seeking assistance. We simply point out concerns and possible side effects from some treatments. Not everyone knows all this info so it is simply pointed out. We do this not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of all the aquarists online reading your question and the answer on WWM. This way everybody learns.> I do hours of research before EVER write to WWM. But I cannot say that I will again after this. < Apparently you didn't find what you were looking for after all those hours because you still ended up asking for advice. Based on the little info provided you were given a very reasonable treatment recommendation. This was not the only treatment but one that has had some success for aquarists in the past.> My first instinct was to hike the temp to 93F for 3 weeks and add Metronidazole and Focus (1:5 ratio) from Seachem to the food. Funny, that is what is working now, after all the OTHER advice I got and temperature manipulation, adding this and that to the water didn't have any effect...... UGH! AND BTW you can use metro/focus in food in a marine/reef tank too without stressing your fish out in a QT. Surprise, I do not believe in stressing a fish out that is already sick (using a QT tank) when I can just FEED it medicine that will not hurt the reef OR the biologicals in the tank. I had an anemone EAT the food with that on it and he was fine. (of course I called Seachem and they assured me it would be fine) FYI for everyone, Paraguard (Seachem) is up there with the metro for curing problems and CAN be added to a PLANTED tank too which is a GREAT piece of knowledge to have! So 93F for 2 or 3 weeks is my solution and my discus don't die. Again, adding aeration and water changes is a no brainer. I hope someone who is struggling with their sick discus will read this and try that. I read a LONG article on that method, and the person who wrote it was well versed and obviously would not put a suggestion that would kill fish. You would just DIE if you know how I kept my reef/marine tank for the past 3 years..... btw, no one died, got sick and the corals GREW........ I should charge money for this information. < Don't give up your day job.> And no, it was not frequent water changes. I will not tell you since you will probably say I am wrong and this and that. But my success speaks for itself. I do have to thank Bob Fenner, who, in the past was ALWAYS kind and not thinking he was the fish god. Bob has always been non accusatory, but who knows who will answer my emails if I have a question. No one likes being attacked. < Bob will appreciate you kind words about him.-Chuck><<Perhaps a lesser deity. RMF>>


Help... Discus sys., comp., hlth.  11/5/07 My partner has a large fish tank and in there is a variety of fish, but he had purchased 6 discus. The fist one over night had lost weight and just lost it's colour and died within the space of a day. Then the second one that died 3 days later had been swimming in the tank like it was mad and at extra high speed. This one the started to swim on its side and went within a day also. Then just 2 days ago, a week later from the other two, this 3rd one was swimming at high speed around the tank then it was on it's side and spinning upside down, then went to lie at bottom of tank and when we woke up it was also dead. Have you any ideas what this maybe as everyone I've asked seems to be stumped!! Many Thanks Peter <Hello Peter. Discus are not fish for the community tank. They need unusually high temperatures to last any length of time (28-30 degrees C). They also need very good water quality, in particular, low levels of nitrate. Soft, acidic water conditions are also helpful, especially with wild-caught fish. They don't like aggressive tankmates (even Angelfish) and don't like hyperactive or nippy fish either (such as Tiger Barbs). Big Suckermouth catfish can freak them out, because the catfish have tendency to rasp away at the mucous on their flanks. Any one of these issues could have caused the sudden deaths of your Discus. Tell us something about tankmates, aquarium size, nitrate concentration, water chemistry, and we can perhaps narrow things down. Cheers, Neale>
Re: HELP!! Dying Discus 11/07/07
Hi Neale <Hello Tony,> In the same tank as my discus are.. Moonlight Gourami x 2 Pearl Gourami x 2 Kissing Gourami x 3 Featherfin Catfish x 2 Clown Loach x 3 Clown Pleco x 1 Albino Pleco (large) x 1 Golden barbs Golden Algae eaters <Not a mix I'd put with Discus. The Golden Algae-eaters, presumably Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, are nasty fish that will put the fear of God into Discus. If nothing else, they latch onto their sides and eat their mucous. But they're also horribly aggressive animals when mature. There's also a problem with water temperature. Golden Barbs are subtropical fish, and above 25C will be stressed and distinctly short-lived; Discus, on the other hand, won't last long at 25C and really need 28-30C for good health. There's no happy medium here: the Golden Barbs will asphyxiate at high temperatures, and the Discus will die at low temperatures because their immune and digestive systems stop working. The only fish that would make obvious companions for Discus in your collection is the Clown Plec (Panaque sp. presumably); the Clown Loaches, and the Moonlight & Pearl Gouramis. The Kissing Gourami is a crap-shoot; some specimens are excellent community fish, but others are quite aggressive and territorial. Regardless, their large size will be apt to stress Discus.> The tanks holds 480 litres (approx 127 gal US), the ph is 6.2, nitrate/nitrite is monitored regularly as is ammonia and water changes happen weekly. I use a reverse osmosis machine to filter new water when doing water changes. The loss of discus has happened 1 at a time on almost a weekly basis. The first was a swim bladder problem as I told when I returned the discus back to the supplier before it died. <OK, one thing is carbonate hardness. Soft water with a low pH is great in many ways, but it isn't stable. Tank-bred Discus are tolerant of a wide range of pH values, but they still don't tolerate *rapid* changes in pH or hardness. So, the question here is how stable is the pH, and how different is the environments in your aquarium to the water chemistry at your retailer. Acclimating a Discus from, say, hard water at pH 7.6 to soft water at pH 6.2 would be a challenge, and something that I'd only recommend doing in stages across several days, if not weeks, using a quarantine tank. Simply dumping the fish from one set of conditions into the other will likely kill it.> What I am not understanding is that all the Discus were laying eggs and seemed to be doing so well and then literally overnight, this problem started. <Odd. Cichlids generally only breed when settled. Were they laying eggs in this community tank? Or in the other tank before they were installed into this community tank?> Any advice you can offer would be most grateful. Cheers Tony <Personally, I'd skip Discus for this collection of fish. I'd be looking at Severums maybe, or even Festivums if you can find them. They're both much more robust animals. Festivums are lovely pet fish with bags of personality, and Severums are available in a range of colour morphs including some really stunningly nicely marked ones. Cheers, Neale>


Wild discus problem  10/2/07 I have kept a 33 gallon tank with 3 discus, 2 black ghost knives 3 Panchax killifish and 1 black spotted catfish for over 3 years. I fed them a variety of foods because my wild discus had a lot of holes in his head. Last month, I added two snakeskin discus in there and they all got along well. Then the trouble started with the smallest discus not eating. He wasn't the one being bullied ,the wild one was. Soon he passed away. The tank was very clean and all but soon my wild discus stopped eating too. All my discus are the same size (11.5cm). I've moved the wild discus into a 20 gallon with a bio wheel and some water plants to see if it gets better. I've been trying to feed him beef heart, Whiteworms, Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp and bloodworms but he refuses them all and just hides in the corner. I would like to know what's wrong because I would hate to see it die. <Well, for a start your tank is massively overstocked. Apteronotus albifrons gets to something like 50 cm in length and mature specimens at least (like most electric fish) are intolerant of their own kind under home aquarium conditions. So you simply can't keep two of them in one tank, and even one specimen of this fish needs a big tank (150-200 cm long). You don't say anything about water chemistry or water quality. But just to be clear: wild-caught Discus are EXTREMELY sensitive to environmental conditions. Comparing them to tank-bred Discus is comparing chalk with cheese. Utterly different. Tank-bred Discus are basically easy to keep provided they are kept warm (28-30 C) and in not-too-hard (<10 dH), acidic to neutral (pH 6-7) water. Wild-caught Discus want all that and MORE: spotlessly clean water with next to no nitrate, dim lighting conditions, and no aggressive tankmates. You also need to be able to select healthy wild-caught fish to begin with; get a sick one, and you've wasted your money. When shopping for wild Discus, I consider going along with an experienced Discus-keeper part of the package. The holes in the head of the fish that died were symptoms (more than likely) of Hole-in-the-Head, a protozoan infection intimately connected with water quality. So before going further, make sure your nitrate levels are below 20 mg/l, and ideally zero. Quarantine all wild-caught fish before putting them into a community system, and assume that any commercially spawned fish are potential sources of infection. In other words, don't mix wild and tank-bred Discus. Do read Bob's excellent review of "Discus Basics" here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfish.htm .
As he says, lack of appetite is usually associated with poor environmental conditions. So check those, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale>

Re: wild discus problem -- 11/20/07
After reading your reply about my wild discus problem, I decided to get rid of the nitrates in my tank. I moved out the ghost knives, catfish and killifish from the tank to a 20 gallon. <I hope I don't need to tell you the ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons, presumably) are far too large for a 20 gallon tank. While they may grow slowly, they do grow, and each one is going to need a 55 gallon tank -- at least -- at some point in the near future.> I also moved back in the wild discus to the 33 gallon with the other 3 discus. I also bought more water plants and Nitrazorb. <Nitrazorb can work, but in my experience it is more of a "polisher" than a nitrate "cleaner". In other words, what it does is help remove traces of nitrate from water with low nitrate concentration to start with. When used in a nitrate-ridden system (because of heavy stocking, or high nitrates in the tap water supply) it tends to get overwhelmed unless you spend a fortune on the stuff. It is much more cost effective to use pure water of some sort and then add the minerals Discus need. The cheap option is to use rainwater (what I do) while the convenient option is to use a reverse-osmosis (RO) filter to purify your tap water. We have a brand spanking new article about Soft Water Aquaria here at WWM; have a read of it. I'm sure you'll find it useful, because a soft water tank is basically the only way to keep wild Discus. The article is here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm > For feeding I feed a block of bloodworms and glassworms a day. <For Discus, this may well be too much. Discus have evolved to live in nutrient-poor waters where food is scarce. With wild-caught fish especially, you have to walk a tightrope between providing enough food to keep them healthy, while not adding so much the water quality is compromised. With wet-frozen foods, a lot of the "cube" doesn't get eaten (the juices surrounding the bloodworms for example). These are sources of nitrate. So you need to make sure your feeding regimen is such that every scrap of food that goes into the tank is eaten, and nothing gets sucked into the filter.> The nitrate is 160, and the nitrite is 0. <Yeah, your nitrate level is way too high for wild Discus. Even for tank-bred fish this likely on the dangerous side. You're aiming for not more than 50 mg/l for tank-bred Discus, and less than 20 mg/l for wild fish. I think you'll find an RO filter or rainwater collection system on your Christmas list.> I even changed the water 3 days in a row. To my dismay my nitrate was still 160+. <Almost certainly your tap water has high nitrates to begin with. Here in England, it isn't uncommon for urban water supply to have 50 mg/l nitrate right out the tap. As a result, in a busy aquarium or one stocked with messy fish, like Goldfish or Cichlids, it's hard to get the nitrate level below 75-100 mg/l. With rainwater or RO, on other hand, it's easy.> The wild discus is still not eating and my parents are mad because I used to much money. <I bet! Collecting rainwater is dirt cheap and also very "green", so buy buying a water butt to store rainwater you're actually doing something responsible. If your water supply is metered, i.e., you pay by the amount you use, then you will quickly save money in the long term.> Am I overfeeding ? <Quite possibly. Halve the rations, and feed only every other day. See what happens. Fish almost never starve to death. They need a fraction of the food you might think. An adult Discus can probably get by on half a dozen bloodworms per day.> Am I doing something wrong or am I looking at the wrong cause for my wild discus not eating? <Water quality *is* the issue. Read the article linked above, and then read Bob's primer on keeping Discus (it's linked at the end of that article). The review your system. And differences between what we're talking about in those articles and what you have at home are likely at the heart of the problem. Discus aren't difficult fish once their demands are met -- but they are demanding!> Thank you for your help. <Happy to help. Neale>


Sick Discus worms or bacterial infection? -- 10/28/07 Dear Wet web media <Ben> I have a 1200l discus community tank and one of my larger discus has started to get thin or indented on its sides however the forehead is still pronounced with no hollow. <Mmm, could be trouble for all> I pretty sure am going to need to catch the fish and treat it in isolation but am not sure weather <Whether... homonym> to treat it for worms or for some type of internal bacterial infection, there is no other signs of anything else on this fish apart from very slight loss of colour. <Mmmmm> The fish is still eating fairly well which makes me think worms however there are no sign of worms protruding out of the body and i had wormed the tank 4 weeks ago, my water is at 29.5, 6.6 and test are all zero Best Regards Ben <Well... how was the system "wormed"? The behavior might well be just resultant from this exposure... I would NOT be so swift to remove the one fish... Bob Fenner>


Treating Discus with Ich - 8/14/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Greg, Pufferpunk here> I apologise for the long email up front. <It's ok, we need to know what's going on & how you've been treating.> I am having a bit of a problem getting rid of White Spot (Ich) from my well planted low-tech 6x2x2 Discus & community aquarium. The tank has been up and running for seven months and was fully cycled after three months. From day 1 the temp was set at 30C (approx 86F) and I didn't have any problems at all with disease etc, but Ich must have been in the tank somewhere as when I recently lowered the temp down to 28C (approx 82F) to help the plants grow I suddenly had an outbreak of Ich that I am having problems getting rid of it. <That's your problem right there. Discus' immune systems are compromised at lower temps. Never mind the fact that ich dies off mush faster at higher temps (86-88 F).> So far I've had four 'attacks' against the Ich as follows: 1st Attack - I used 'Rapid Ich Remedy' which contained Formalin and Malachite Green, followed instructions as per the bottle (5mL per 20L = approx 150mL per dose) on days 1, 4 and 7 which cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back. 2nd Attack - I again used 'Rapid Ich Remedy' following instructions as per the bottle (5mL per 20L = approx 150mL per dose) in terms of dose rate but I dosed on days 1, 4, 7, 10 and 13 which again cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back. 3rd Attack - I used Waterlife's 'Protozin' (the double strength version) which I assume also contains Formalin and Malachite green as it looks & smells the same as the 'Rapid Ich Remedy' medication, followed instructions on the bottle (2.5mL per 75L = approx 25mL per dose) on days 1, 2, 3 and 6. This again cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back yet again. 4th Attack (currently I'm on day 4 of this 'attack' & I'm getting desperate)... I'm again using Waterlife's 'Protozin' in combination with an Anti-Parasite medication for fish ponds (made by Interpet) which contains Formalin. I'm dosing as follows (don't freak out): A 13 day attack plan, where I'm dosing the Pond Anti-Parasite medication (25mL per 1,100L = approx 15mL per dose) on days 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 at 7:00AM and I'm also dosing Protozin (2.5mL per 75L = approx 25mLs per dose) on days 1,2,3,4,5,7,9,11 and 13 at 7:00PM i.e. each medication for the first 7 days is 12 hours apart. Note: I'm not performing any water changes during treatment but I usually change 20% of the water twice per week. Bad idea! Discus need 90% weekly water changes. During ich outbreaks, 80% every other day is necessary to remove the free-swimming parasite from the water column. It shouldn't be necessary to treat ich with any meds at all. High temps & 2tbsp salt/10gallong should be sufficient, along with large bi-daily water changes. Using all those different meds are just making the ich stronger & the discus weaker.> I figure the 4th attack will either kill the Ich, and/or kill (and probably permanently preserve) the fish with all that formaldehyde, or perhaps the Ich and the Fish will survive and I'll likely give up and accept that I am stuck with Ich for the rest of this tanks life. I guess I could get rid of all the plants and fish except the Discus and then raise the temp up to 31 or 32 degrees C (approx 89F), as I figure the Ich will not cause too many problems at this temp for Discus. However I really don't want to go back to running my tank above 30 degrees C (approx 86F) as the plants (mostly Amazon swords, Ambulia and Water Sprite) don't like the higher temps at all, as everything looks and grows much better at 28C. I really like having a planted Discus aquarium and since all the fish get along so well its a shame to have to give into this single celled monster! <I have a fully planted discus tank. I don't use any of the plants you have listed. All my plants are also low-light species. Right now, I have many species of Crypts, Anubias, Java fern & Crinum. See: http://www.aquariumplants.com/Warm_Water_Discus_Plants_s/20.htm Many plants require CO2 supplementation (which I don't use). In addition, I add Yamato Green weekly (www.yamatogreen.com) & poke Jobe's Spikes under their roots, every 6 months.> Now you may be wondering how everything has held up through these multiple attacks against the Ich? Well during all the treatments so far I have not noticed any effect whatsoever on my biological filtration (no measurable NH3 or NO2) but then again the plants may well be taking care of NH3, NO2 and NO3 as they are still growing just fine through all of this. <Anti-parasitic meds do not harm biological filtration.><<Mmm, I would NOT make this statement. Many compounds sold as such definitely WILL affect, stall nitrification... directly and/or indirectly. RMF>> Even all the fish (including the supposedly fragile Cardinal & Rummy Nose Tetras) don't even seem to notice that they are being medicated at all, which makes me wonder if the medications are being negated by the plants or perhaps by something else? Like I said my 4th attack is quite brutal and I'm likely to suffer losses but I'm prepared to do almost anything to get rid of this stubborn Ich once and for all. Maybe I need to increase the dose rate? Maybe I need to try NaCl and raise the temp? <Now you're thinking in the right direction!> I have an 80L quarantine tank that I use for all new fish but it is not big enough to move all the fish in there for separate treatment. The QT is usually set at 30C and all fish that go through it get nuked by Multi-Cure (basically Methylene Blue, Malachite Green and Formalin) and then I watch them for a minimum of two weeks (total of a 3 week stay in QT) before fish are transferred into the main 6x2x2 display tank. I've never lost any fish apart from the odd Cardinal or Rummy nose using this method but I find them rather delicate at the best of times when purchased from the LFS - they always look starved! In case you need to know the tank is setup as follows: 6x2x2 glass aquarium with approx 600L of water 1x Eheim 2228 canister filter 1x Aqua One 2450 canister filter (UV-C is off during treatment) 1x air stone running 24/7 Temp at 28C (approx 82-83F) pH = 7.4 Hard tap water (treated with a double dose of Prime during each WC) 10 healthy young Discus (see attached photos) 5 Black Neon Tetras 12 Cardinal Tetras 15 Rummy Nose Tetras 5 SAEs 3 BNs 2 Sterbai Cory Catfish 4 Kuhlii Loaches Well planted (actually the plants are growing really well even throughout the treatment - see attached photos taken 3 days ago for reference) <Sounds/looks like a lovely tank! Lighting?> Any suggestions on what I'm doing wrong or what I can do to win this battle would be appreciated... thanks Crew! <Try my suggestions above. The plants may not be strong enough at this point to handle the treatment but I think the fish are worth the risk. ~PP> Regards, Greg Simpson Perth, Western Australia

Re: Treating Discus with Ich (or neons in this case)... actually Cardinals...  Poor Advice... 8/15/07 Thanks for your quick reply Pufferpunk! <Sure!> It's actually not the Discus that seem to be effected by the Ich, it's the Cardinals! <That's what I get for assuming...> After a few weeks it's like they are slowly being sprinkled with salt and they 'flick' against the stems of plants (classic Ich symptoms in my opinion). I guess the poor Cardinals are feeling poorly from the anti-parasite medications and thus cannot resist the Ich as much as the stronger fish. <Yes, I believe so many meds will actually weaken the fish's immune system.> What about Copper based treatments? I hear copper can be quite effective too. <Copper is very effective but extremely dangerous, especially on weakened fish or used incorrectly. You could try a saltwater dip on them but they are so tiny!><<RMF would NOT SW dip small S. American Characins>> I guess after round 4 of my 'attacks' I'll try the higher temp & salt combination as round 5. <I think this is your best bet. Don't forget to do huge water changes every other day, trying to clean the substrate (as best you can with the plants), to remove the free-swimming parasites.> If that fails Copper based meds might be round 6. I hope this does not turn out to be a 12 round fight! I've kept tropical fish for 24 years and have never had such an issue with disease as I have this time around. I've had Ich before in smaller/less planted tanks and usually after a basic Ich treatment it's resolved for good. I must have a bad/resistant strain of it!!!! <Add Melafix to heal the wounds from the parasite boring into the fish. Good luck, let me know how it goes. I'm sure there is tons of info on ich treatment at WWM. You can also read this: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/fwich/ ~PP><<This citation has NOTHING to do w/ FW ich treatment... RMF>> Regards, Greg


No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from?    6/24/07 Hello, <<Hi, Neil. Tom here.>> I've just discovered your website and am thoroughly impressed. It appears to be the one-stop-shopping site for all, or most, of my aquarium related research! <<I thank you for all of us, Neil.>> My question is this - In my planted discus tank, I have absolutely not added anything in this tank for over a month. It's a fairly new setup (46 Bowfront running since 4/21/2007). The plants and fish are thriving. I have 5 discus, all of which will eat right out of my hand. The tank also houses 4 Red Serpae Tetras (cycled the tank), 3 Corys, 3 Otos and a Clown Loach (snail control). The discus were the last fish added. The plants were present from day 1. <<All sounds nice, Neil, though I'm, admittedly, a fan of 'fishless cycling'.>> Last night, I noticed about a dozen cysts on one of my Discus. His behavior hasn't changed, he's not flashing or scratching, still has a good appetite. I'm baffled as to where the ick came from. I'm not a believer in the "there is always ick present in the aquarium, just waiting for a viable host" theory. <<Sounds like your fish is far more tolerant than most, Neil. As for the 'theory' you mention, you're quite right in not believing it. Ick is not 'ever-present'. It must be introduced via fish, plant life or even 'transport' water. Quarantine, quarantine, quarantine!>> Would any of you have any possible suggestions as to how this could have happened? I don't feed any live foods whatsoever. Just freeze dried Bloodworms, Brine shrimp Tubifex and Flakes. All Hikari. Also, frozen Bloodworms, Brine shrimp and Mysis. Also Hikari. Other than that, I'm baffled! <<While it seems, at first, to fly in the face of logic, Neil, realize that it only takes one parasite to start the ball rolling. One lousy, little single-cell parasite. In colder conditions such as those you might find in a pond setting or Goldfish tank, for instance, the life-cycle of this parasite can take weeks rather than days. Additionally, let's consider that a weak strain of Ick -- there are more than one -- might not reproduce enough 'strong' tomites (juveniles) to make an infestation immediately obvious. It's only in the mature Trophont, or 'feeding' stage, that the parasite is visible to the naked eye and, even then, it presupposes that the parasite has infested the animal(s) where it can be seen, i.e. on the body as opposed to the gills where it might not be readily 'caught' by the aquarist. Now, add in that a large, heavily-planted tank may make it somewhat difficult to observe each and every fish closely on a daily basis and something can 'slip through'. Sure, the possibility that I'm offering is hypothetical in its nature but it's based on the fact that, somewhere along the line, the little 'baddies' were introduced into the tank and, more plausibly, probably with your Discus if only because they were the last added.>> Thank you! Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<Whatever treatment you undertake, Neil, remember not to cut it short. Continue treatment for three days after all signs of Ick are gone. You don't want to go through this twice. Best of luck to you. Tom>>
Re: No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from? (update)
  8/5/07 This message is for Tom as a follow-up to our exchange about 1 month ago: Hi Tom, Neil from Jackson NJ again. Thought I'd provide some updates to our previous exchange. <<Hi, Neil. Good to hear back from you.>> I'll start with the Red Mellon discus with the long, white stringy feces and no appetite. As you may recall, I was treating him/her in my QT with Fish Zole (Metronidazole) and was 2/3 through the treatment. <<I do recall, Neil.>> Well, that was my 1st experience with that medication and I must say it worked as advertised. <<Satisfying when something works as advertised, isn't it? :) >> The Red Mellon is a little eating machine now. Always coming to the top of the tank whenever I enter the room. His appetite has improved 100% and he actually looks like he's grown some. Interestingly enough, the first food I was able to get him to eat was Hikari freeze-dried Tubifex. I soak 1 cube in warm water and keep tapping at it with an eye dropper until it completely falls apart into individual "strings". I know there are many articles warning against the use of Tubifex. However, I'm a big fan of Hikari products - both frozen and freeze dried. I then just squirt some of the worms into the water column and most of my fish go wild on this. I feed the same way with Hikari frozen blood worms. <<Part (most?) of the warnings against Tubifex, as you know, really stems from where these little critters are cultivated, or at least where they've been cultivated in the past, and what they can potentially harbor. Hikari irradiates the worms, in freeze-dried form anyway, to eliminate the concerns of contaminating the tank, however, so that's certainly good news. (These worms must really be "yummy" since I've yet to hear about a fish that didn't like them.)>> The Paraguard treatment worked very well in my show tank as well. You may recall I was treating another discus in my show tank for what appeared to be Ick. This product worked well, with no apparent harm to my live plants nor my Clown Loach, Corys or Red Serpaes. The Ick went away after about 7 days of treatment and has not reappeared since. <<Can't ask for more than that, Neil.>> About 1 week ago, another of my discus in my show tank appeared with a long stringy feces the color and consistency of aquarium sealant! This was one of the toughest, more dominant of my discus. When he refused food, I knew he was sick. I raised the temperature gradually to around 87 degrees and this time used Seachem Metronidazole. I tried this brand since it comes in a fine powder instead of pill form (Fish Zole). <<Okay.>> I used the same regiment - 250mg/10 gallons every other day for 3 days with a ~35% water change in between treatments. He began to look a bit better after about 3 days but was still not eating. I tried all kinds of food but he would just chase after it, take it in, then spit it out. Finally, I tried frozen Daphnia and that did the trick. He's been inhaling it every day since. He's now taking flakes and some freeze dried Tubifex as I described above. I haven't seen the "Aquarium Sealant" feces in 2 days so far. He's back to his old self chasing other Discus around during feeding time! <<You're getting very good at this, Neil. I'm happy to hear about the fine results you've been having.>> I feel a great sense of accomplishment since I've only been keeping Discus since May of this year. I've learned so much by reading many books, magazine articles and from internet sites such as this one. I appreciate that a real person takes the time to reply to my messages - and in a timely manner! <<We give it our best shots when it comes to answering in a timely fashion, Neil. Every one of us realizes how frustrating and discouraging it can be to have a sick pet, or a 'sick' tank, and not get the information we need to do something about it quickly. Sometimes, the solution itself can be time consuming so we try to get back to our readers/writers as fast as we can.>> I do have some really interesting things to share and was wondering if there was some way for me to submit articles on this website? <Oh yes. RMF> As a newbie to Discus, I would like to focus my attention on other newbies who I'm sure are experiencing the same stress and anxiety that I have. I have also discovered some helpful hints on filter media and maintenance that may help some fellow hobbyists save some money without sacrificing water quality or the health of their livestock. <<Direct your correspondence regarding this to Bob Fenner. Bob's always open to well-written, informative and pertinent material. Might be that you've got something he'd be interested in helping you develop for print.>> Well, I think I've written much too much this time. However, I hope this information can help others who are stressing over which medication to use and when to use it - much in the same way that I did! <<First-hand information is always valuable to us/others, Neil. Your experiences might shed some light where other sources have failed. I encourage you share what you have with Bob and be guided accordingly.>> Thanks again for listening! Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<It's an easy 'listen', Neil. Thanks for writing back and sharing your successes with me and the rest of our readers. My best to you. Tom>>


Injured discus -- 06/29/07 Hi Crew! Bob here, I have a question concerning one of my 5 Discus. This one happens to be the king of the tank! I think it's a male, still on the juvie side though. The fish was startled and ran into a piece of driftwood in my 55 gallon planted tank. <Out of fright? Fighting?> I see several scrapes on one side some areas have small amounts of tissue hanging loose, so it appears to go deeper than the scales. I have a huge concern of bacterial infection, thought it may be better to prevent than to wait and treat. <Likely, yes> It would be difficult to quarantine the fish, my 10 Q tank is in use with some new fish, but if necessary I could go ahead and put the new fish in a 55 community tank I have. Should I treat? With what? You know, I have penicillin 500 mg and Cephalexin 500 mg but have don't know how to dose a fish. I'm reading a study done on bacterial infection in fish and antibiotics, Penicillin was used with good success. Thank you for being there to help, it means a lot! Bob <Mmm, I would hold off at this point re treatment per se... Keep up your maintenance regime... the Penicillin will not likely do anything... the Cephalexin could cause more trouble than it's worth... Bob Fenner.>

Re: injured discus -- 06/29/07 Bob here again. I have a picture of the fish to go with my questions. Hope they catch up with each other. You can see the scrapes on it's side. Thanks again! <Good pic... and I definitely would hold off on treatment. Bob Fenner>

Re: injured discus  6/30/07 Thanks Bob, fish does look better today. I will be removing the driftwood with shape edges and keeping an eye on this fish. <Ah, good. Judging from the pic you sent along, and your general conscientiousness, I think all will be well here> Scares the heck out of me seeing these fish do that! This incident bring up an on going problem I am having with these fish, they startle so easily, then take off ramming into anything in the tank, I may be on the other side of the room. <Mmm, you might consider darkening one or more end/back of this tank... paper, dark vinyl-based paint.... can be removed at some later date... The diminished reflected light will do a great deal of good here> I hand feed them trying to develop some trust but one fish will brush up to another, unseen, he jumps then the whole bunch shoots off cowering behind plants. I thought removing some of the more active tank mates would help, so far I have removed 3 YoYo loaches and almost all of the school of Zebra Danios. Two Zebras remain as I just couldn't catch them without totally stressing them all. <These ditherfish are of benefit... I'd leave them in> I'm trying a fish trap right now. At this time it has had little effect. The only other remaining tank mates are a pair of Bristlenose Plecos, one Oto cat and a number of Red Cherry and Ghost shrimp. I have 6 Rummynose Tetras and 5 Otos in the QT tank to add to the 55 discus tank next week. Discus range from 3/12" to 5", 2 Blue Diamonds and 3 Marlboro Reds, they seem to get along well, a lot of head butting, tail slapping, nothing ever gets serious. <Mmm, they will need more room... particularly if, more likely when, two of them pair off...> I was hoping the Rummies would help calm the Discus a bit. I have no idea what to do next. Valium for fish? <A few "things"... more cover, space, time-experience...> As far as my tank condition: I do a 50% water change and vacuum every week Temp 82 PH 6.8- 7.0 the breeder recommends 7.0 <Mmm, no higher than this... I would say 6.5 or so...> GH 8 KH 4 Nitrite and ammonia 0 Nitrate 20ppm <This is more than I'd allow... no more than this> I add CO2 and dose ferts, the tank is planted kinda on the dense side. <Welcome. BobF>


Discus dying after water changes  6/28/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Eric, MacL here with you tonight.> You have answered some questions about this tank in the past and they have been very helpful. A quick recap: 72 gallon planted fw tank 26 cardinal tetras 2 Otos Numerous Malaysian trumpet and other snails ( Originally ) 3 Discus, app. 3" The tank has been running with current inhabitants since last fall. pH - 6.8, 0 ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. Temp runs at 80 (I need a second heater to combat the a/c), all fish quarantined prior to introduction. Feeding consists of TetraMin flakes, Spirulina (for the Otos and snails), tetra color bits, and various frozen cubes ( thawed first ). Filter is an Aquaclear 110 running a sponge, carbon and peat. Water changes are approximately 25% weekly, more if I have the time. Everything was running fine for the last six months - even the cardinals are large, plump and active with no losses. My problem concerns the discus - which were bought from local breeders (and raised in local tap water). I had lost one to bullying from the other two a few months back, but the remaining two were doing well and I planned on adding a couple of more after I move in the summer. <Just a quick word of caution here. Full grown discus are approximately plate sized and your tank is going to be very full when they get totally grown.> Unfortunately, I lost both (first last month, second one today) remaining discus. Each one died after a water change (or at least within a couple of days but symptoms appeared same day) leading me to believe that caused it. Since I don't have space in my current home to store water (in a container big enough for my needs), I add water directly from the tap using a Python tube. I first adjust the temperature so it is close to the tank, and as I add the water I also add dechlorinator ( I am not sure f I have chlorine or chloramines in the water but I will find out. Regardless the dechlorinator says it takes care of both). <You have to watch those dechlorinators that say that because sometimes they only take care of the chlorine in the water and not both. By splitting the chloramines up they think they are taken care of.> This has worked for me until now, and I haven't lost any of the Otos or cardinal tetras, which I took as a good sign since I know they are very delicate. <Definitely the cardinals are. And you are right you'd think if it was the chlorines it would bother them as well.> After doing these changes, though, I noticed that one of the discus over the next few hours turned very dark, listless, and gasping at the surface. <Major red flag when they turn dark. That's a very unhappy discus.> If it wasn't at the surface, it would just float around. At first I didn't think it had anything to do with the WC since only one was affected. It died the next day. Now, a month later, the same thing happened to my second discus. <For me several things come to mind. So I need to ask you some questions. First, Do you know the ph of your tap water? If it is drastically high and the ph of your tank water you could be seriously messing with your discus when the water first goes in. Second, How old are your ph test kits? I'm really surprised that with peat in your water your ph is as high as it is. Honestly it should be lower if you are running peat in the water. A lower ph is fine for the discus and for the cardinals. If it is the ph then it wouldn't effect the cardinals nearly as much as the discus. In my experience they seem to adjust to ph changes with ease once they are good and healthy. Whereas a discus, again in my experience, once they get stressed can go very quickly. Thirdly, when you do your water change are you rinsing out your sponge? This could also be where your problem is. I used an AquaClear filter and I cut the sponge in half, so one water change I could rinse out one half and the second I could rinse out the other half but I always kept some of the beneficial bacteria in the sponges. Also do you change your carbon every time? Or rinse it as well?> Do you think it is from my water changing technique? If so, what can you recommend? Please note that I wont have the facilities to store more than 5 or 10 gallons of water until I move at the end of the summer. <Nothing wrong with doing smaller water changes with stored water that is correctly set to the proper ph and doing them more frequently if possible. I know that lots of people might disagree with this but I prefer to keep my tank as stable as possible and I found that with Discus doing large water changes just plain messed with the tanks.> I currently have four juvenile discus in quarantine and don't want to add them until the problem is solved. <How are you doing their water changes? Good luck Eric, MacL> Thanks again, Eric
Re: Discus dying after water changes -- 07/01/07
Dear MacL, <Hiya Eric> Thanks for your quick response. To answer your questions: How do I know if the dechlorinator actually takes care of chloramines? What is the proper way to treat water for chloramines? <Well the tricky part is that some removers that say they take care of chloramines often will only break the chloramine apart and leave the remnant of whatever it doesn't touch in there. For instance, if it breaks apart the chloramine it might leave the ammonia in the tank. OR it might take out the ammonia and leave the chlorine. Honestly the safest way is to go to a good pet store and get a brand that says it removes all of the above, I've used prime myself for years but lots of good products out there.> ( I am writing to the NYC water board to ascertain whether they add chloramines). <You should be able to find the answer to this online as well, on the cities website.> The pH of the tap water tends to run close to 7.0, slightly above or below at times. One of my pH test kits is about two or more years old but the other is a year old and they both give the same results so I am not too concerned. <HMMMMMMMM> The reason that I added peat was because when I redid this tank as a planted tank last year, I added Tahitian Black Moon Sand. <Honestly I have used that product many times in fresh and salt and have never had it affect the ph. What else do you have in the tank? Anything like shells?> The manufacturer claims that it doesn't affect the pH, but it did cause mine to rise above 7.4, so I added the peat as a buffer. I also usually added Seachem acid buffer but haven't done that for a few months because a.) my pH started to stabilize and I wanted to see if the buffer was still needed to maintain it, and b.) I thought that perhaps adding the buffer to the tank as I was adding fresh water might have caused a sharp drop in the tank pH and killed my first discus. <I did consider that a possibility with the deaths of both of your discus because of their behavior.> I am not as diligent with my filter material as I perhaps should be. I change it not more frequently then monthly and sometimes less so. I try not to change all media at once, and I do the same thing as you with my sponge. I did change the carbon with my last WC because it was way overdue but I did not change the rest. I also rinsed the intake sponge (it helps keep plants from getting sucked in and provides some more surface area while at it for bacteria). <I really think that you had some kind of ph shift. That's why I suggested that you do the smaller and more frequent water changes. I would recommend two five gallon buckets that you adjust the water to the proper ph before hand so you don't have any changes with your discus. They really don't seem to be as delicate as they once were but they are still not easy fish to keep. And I'm really concerned about the fact that you have peat added and your ph is still so high. When I added peat to my discus tanks I went down to pHs of 5.> The new discus were placed in a quarantine tank that has been running for a while. I did need to add a bucketful of water, but it was dechlorinated first (the tank is 10 gallons so its not a problem) and I added BioSpira to kick start the cycle (Does that stuff expire?). <There are expiration dates on the packaging I believe.> I plan on keeping them in there for at least two or three weeks and hope to have this problem solved before then. I think I will try to do more frequent, but less voluminous, water changes. Do you think that I would still need to store/dechlorinate that water or can I add it directly to the tank along with dechlorinator (lets say 10% WC )? <Safest is to add it before hand although most are instantaneous.> What dechlorinator do you recommend? The breeder recommended Dechloreez but I never heard of it. <I've never heard of dechloreez either. If it was me and I was doing this with Discus I would try to figure out what the heck is going on before I moved the new fish over. Based on their actions I feel like it was either ph shifting dramatically or it was chlorine and ammonia. I promise I am not trying to insult you but does your ph test kit test low? Does it go to low ph's? I think your new plan of action should take care of the problems for you. If you do it slower with less water change you shouldn't have any problems with the big dramatic shifts. Good luck Eric, let me know how it goes.> Thanks again,  


Discus Might Be Getting Sick   5/20/07 Hello Crew, I haven't been writing to you so please forgive me if anything wrong. May I discuss about my Discus? < Sure, they are still tropical fish.> Last Monday, I bought 2 Yellow Face and 2 Pigeon (pic. 1) (as the fish seller said) which around 1' each and I put them into 1'x1' tank with 28c Heater, 20Watt lamp and air pump. I feed Tetra Bits flakes for 4~5 flakes/ 3 times/ a day. I change 20% of water for every 3 days and also put 1 tsp of salt after water change. This morning, I realized one of my fish's color was turned lightly (pic. 2) and the other one's fins are turned black (pic. 3). Both of them didn't eat well. Fortunately, the rest of my Discus are normal. I haven't been breeding Discus as before; therefore, I don't know what's wrong with them. Please give me some advices. I don't want to loose them. Really thanks to you. KMMK < Some strains of discus are genetically hardier than others. At 1" all discus are susceptible to getting sick. In the wild they like soft, warm, clean, acidic water. I would do a 50% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the nitrates. They should always be under 20 ppm, the lower the better. I would skip adding the salt. Discus are not big flake food eaters. Try to get them on to small sinking pellets. Some live brine or frozen food should get their appetite going. Discus turn dark when they are not happy. They could simply be the low fish on the pecking order and are not happy with the other tankmates.-Chuck>


Hole in the Head on Discus/plant questions  4/17/04 Hi Crew, <Hi Eric , Pufferpunk here> Thanks for your past help and running a great site. <You're very welcome!> I am hoping you can give me some advice with this issue. I have a 72 gallon FW heavily planted tank housing 26 cardinal tetras, 1 Ram, 2 Otos, and 3 captive bred discus (about 3' lengthwise). All were added over the space of a few months, quarantined and prophylactically treated (I have to look up the protocol if you it is needed) for 2-4 weeks. The filter is a Aquaclear 110 running with Zeolite, peat moss in pantyhose, carbon and sponge. <I don't think this is enough filtration for that tank.  On tanks larger than 50g, I would add a canister like an Eheim.> Everything is changed about once a month and the sponge is cut in half so only half is changed at a time. The heater is not on since the ambient temp plus heat from the lamps (220w PC run for 2 bulbs on 12 hrs/ the other two only on for 6) keeps the water between 76 and 78 deg F (cooler end at night). <Discus need to be kept at much higher temps: 84-86 degrees.> There are a bunch of Malaysian trumpet snails and some type of small snail that looks more typical and hitchhiked on plants (I don't mind since they leave my plants alone as long as I drop in some Spirulina every now and then).  I usually try to do a 20-25% water change every two weeks but with a new baby its hard. <Discus need 90% weekly water changes.  Discus breeders do 100% daily!> Since the tank is lightly stocked and heavily planted the parameters stay good anyways. My latest param.s are (nighttime) -- pH 6.6, total Ammonia -- 0, KH -- 3 dKH, 6 dGH, nitrates -- 0, nitrites -0, phosphates 1 mg/L. I dose Seachem Excel and Flourish once a week and add Seachem Acid buffer at water changes (tap water here is soft, but the Tahitian Moon sand contrary to their statements raised my pH and hardness). <Parameters sound good but there are things we can't test for in our tanks.  Tank-raised discus don't need all those pH lowering additives.  They are born into normal tap water.  I use none of this & only add Prime during water changes.  Carbon really isn't necessary either.  I wonder if you are getting pH swings?>   Now here are my questions: One of discus (they were purchased in early December and quarantined for 3-4 weeks) has developed what I think is Hole in the Head. At first it looked like an enlarged nare but now I see that it has enlarged further and deepened. It doesn't exhibit any other signs or symptoms that I am aware of. It eats fine (I feed a mixture of live blackworms, fruit flies, flakes, frozen assortment, which is thawed under running water first) and pellets and still keeps its rank in the pecking order. I have read on your site and others that some think that HITH is caused by poor water quality and others think it is a bacterial infection (I believe that it is probably a combination, no?). <Actually a parasite.  Poor water conditions lower a fish's immune system, making it more susceptible to disease.> I have read all kinds of treatment suggestions from Maracyn to Melafix (which I doubt has any value). <I swear by Melafix for minor bacterial problems, scratches, small wounds & frayed fins.  Definitely helps quicken the healing, along with stronger meds for worse problems.  HITH is a parasite--flagellate protozoa, called Hexamita.  Treatment: Adding a chemical to kill the Hexamita (Flubendazole, eSHa - Hexamita, Waterlife - OCTOZIN, Seachem - Metronidazole CLOUT, Fluke-Tabs, Aquatronics - Hex-a-mit, etc.) and secondary bacterial infection (Melafix).> I just did a water change and pruned out a bunch of overgrown Java moss and shook out some of the rest and a bunch of sediment came out but my param.s were fine before the water change so I don't know if that is the problem. Anyway, my dilemma is do I just sit and watch right now? <Could get worse.> Do I quarantine and treat? <I'd treat the whole tank.  Parasites can be contagious.  Anti-parasitic meds & Melafix will not harm your biological filtration.> I am afraid of stressing the fish out but on the other hand, I can't treat the whole tank and anyways none of the other fish are exhibiting any problems. Do I add some kind of vitamin supplement to its food (I saw that recommended here)? If so, how and what do I add? <I soak all my fish's foods (even live blackworms) with Zoe vitamins. A lot of folks believe this parasite comes from feeding live foods, especially live worms.  I have been feeding live worms to all my fish for years but I  check the batch at the LFS, before it's bagged up.  If there are a lot of dead worms, I don't buy them.  I rinse well in a brine shrimp net, add 1/4" water & a few flakes, along with some drops of vitamins & let sit overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day, I pour into the net again & throw out any dead worms on the bottom of the container.  I do this daily.> I really put a lot into this tank and the fish and everything looks beautiful. It is my first attempt at discus and I would hate to lose this fish. I am looking forward to your advice. <There is nothing more beautiful & peaceful than a planted discus tank.  ~PP> Sincerely, Eric New York City
Adding to one of yesterday's answers, Discus hlth., sys.    4/19/07
Hello there Crew, <Nicole> I hope you don't mind, but I feel compelled to add to an answer. It's "Hole in the Head on Discus/plant questions  4/17/04" which was answered very adeptly by Pufferpunk. <Please do> For Eric's discus, perhaps he could try medicated flakes such as those offered by flguppiesplus? Here's a link to flakes containing Metronidazole: http://flguppiesplus.safeshopper.com/256/cat256.htm?5 <Thank you for this lead, link> I also wondered why Eric would have Zeolite for chemical filtration in his tank, instead of activated carbon or a carbon resin blend. <Me too> Probably unrelated to the HLLE his discus are experiencing, but I would still switch out that Zeolite for a bag of Chemi-Pure, if it were my setup. My thoughts on Zeolite, Ammo Chips, etc. were that these interfered with the nitrifying bacteria - however, I notice some folks use these instead of, or along with, carbon. Your thoughts? Thanks for listening! Nicole <I am in agreement. Thank you for sharing. I do hope Eric will see this... and do know that many others will over many years, and that your effort will help them and their livestock. Bob Fenner>


Discus Health   4/12/07     /James Hi guys/gals,  <James> Yesterday I paid a visit to my LFS.  He sidelined me to his discus tank asking for advice/answers.  Some of his discus, (3" size) look like pepper was sprinkled on the upper third of their body.  All appeared to be very healthy and well fed.  Told him I'm not a discus expert by no means, but would ask the crew for help.  Unfortunately I did not ask him what strain the discus were.  Any help will be much appreciated.  James (Salty Dog) <Mmm, my best guess is that there are body flukes here... and the standard treatment suggested... either an organophosphate (e.g. Fluke-Tabs) or anthelminthic (e.g. Praziquantel) treatment regimen... Not uncommon problem with wild or wild-exposed Symphysodon... And I do encourage prophylactic (pre-emptive) treatment of all such fishes with both a anti-protozoal and anthelminthic. BobF>
Discus Health   4/12/07    /Sab
Hi guys/gals, <Hey, James!> Yesterday I paid a visit to my LFS.  He sidelined me to his discus tank asking for advice/answers.  Some of his discus, (3" size) look like pepper was sprinkled on the upper third of their body. <This is a normal characteristic of "pigeon blood" discus.  Since it's a very strong trait, it can occur on most any "type" of discus, by breeding that type with a pigeon blood....  so you can get blue pigeon blood, striated blue pigeon blood, etc.  It's usually a pretty undesirable trait.   Makes the fish look almost.... "dirty".  Do a Google image search on "pigeon blood discus" and you'll get some results to look at, compare with.> All appeared to be very healthy and well fed. <Just like a red Crowntail beta vs. a red beta, pigeon blood discus can be just as healthy as any discus - just a color trait.> Told him I'm not a discus expert by no means, but would ask the crew for help.  Unfortunately I did not ask him what strain the discus were. <Since the pigeon blood trait can be "put" into most any other discus "strain", it really won't matter.  "The" pigeon blood trait alone is usually an orange or mostly orange fish with black marbling or pepper looking dots on the fish, and it can be all over, very dark, very sparse, just on the top portion....> Any help will be much appreciated. <Do please take a look at some images on Google, and I think you'll have your answer.>   James (Salty Dog) <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>
R: Discus Health  4/13/07
Thank you, Bob James <Welcome... though I do think Sab's guess is as good as mine. B> I've looked at some pics Sab was referring to and they are an identical match of what I saw. James <Ah, thank you for this... will share w/ her, accumulate. B>


Discus and salt and multiple Medication... Western Hypochondria case... READ before buying, treating livestock   3/20/07 Hello, <Hi there> I recently bought 4 Discus by mail. One soon came down with Ich. <Unusual...> I have been using Rid Ich+ <Mmm, harsh... Malachite Green and Formalin... I would have just elevated the temperature if the rest of the life could tolerate something near 90F... the Ichthyophthirius can't> and have 3 more days to go. The  white spots are gone from the infected fish but he/she is very dark, has cloudy eyes and does not eat. <Very bad signs...> Can I start him on Metronidazole while continuing the Rid Ich? <What? Wait a minute here... Why do you want to do this? Have you been in contact with the supplier of these fish? I would not "just" administer this powerful anti-protozoal w/o knowledge of what you're treating for> Also, I read that adding some salt <What? No...> to the tank may help, but the person at the LFS said Discus are very intolerant of salt and not to do that. Is that correct? Thanks. <Please... invest some "equal" time in reading (there are several excellent books on Symphysodon), the Net... all sorts of Cichlid and specialty Discus groups... before going any further... No to the salt, Flagyl... Bob Fenner, who gets "stuck" with these left-over queries everyday... and is not enjoying them this AM>
More Two-fers...  3/20/07 Hello, I recently bought 4 Discus by mail. One soon came down with Ich. I have been using Rid Ich+ and have 3 more days to go. The  white spots are gone from the infected fish but he/she is very dark, has cloudy eyes and does not eat. Can I start him on Metronidazole while continuing the Rid Ich? Also, I read that adding some salt to the tank may help, but the person at the LFS said Discus are very intolerant of salt and not to do that. Is that correct? Thanks. <Your LFS is correct. Follow the instructions on the medications you have, and don't add salt unless those medications explicitly require it. Use of salt is very "old school" and redundant in modern freshwater fishkeeping. Medications generally should not be run in parallel unless the manufacturers state that it is safe to do so. Metronidazole should help with the Ich infection, according to Seachem anyway, so I'd tend to run that treatment first, and then Rid-Ich afterwards if required. Do two big (50%+) water changes between treatments to flush out the one before using the other. Cheers, Neale>
Re: Discus and salt and multiple Medication   3/21/07 Thank you for responding. When I came home today one Discus was dead. <Not good.> The other 3 are lethargic and swimming at the top, one with slimy spot on him. No doubt they will be dead by the morning. <Doesn't sound promising, I admit.> I don't know what I did wrong. <<What? You killed them... RMF>> (99% of the time it is water chemistry & conditions. Maybe not this time, but that's always where I start when I lose fish. Check pH, hardness, nitrate, and nitrite. Also temperature, for discus, it should be  over 27C/80F, but that in turn reduces oxygen in the water, so increase aeration if required. Moving fish from the "wrong" water to "better" water can even be a bad thing if done suddenly. You say (below) they were kept in RO water, so presumably soft and acidic. But not all discus are raised in soft and acidic water. What were the conditions at the breeder's tank, I wonder?> 1 Discus and 2 tetras (leftover from cycling the tank) came down with Ich. I had to treat it. I raised the temp to 85 and used the product as directed. I had bought 5 in 1 sticks for testing water quality and all are in the good range. I just bought a Mardel NH3 monitor and it show 0 Ammonia. I only used RO water for change outs and did 10-20% every other day while using the Rid Ich. I did add Seachem Ph Neutralizer (Phosphate) once. Not knowing the Nh23 level before I bought the monitor, I did a 25% change out last night which appears have made matters much worse. <A long shot -- do you have carbon in the filter? Carbon neutralizes most medications. One of many reasons not to use carbon. Many is the time people have had carbon in the tank, treated their fish, and then wondered why their fish stayed sick or died.> Today I noticed white slime on the inside of the aquarium glass. I guess I have learned my lesson the hard. <Slime on the glass if brown/gold is diatoms, if blue-green is Cyanobacteria. Both basically unsightly rather than worrisome, though worth cleaning away.> Respond if you will, but not from the PXXX who sent the second e-mail. Please revoke his privileges. <Please be nice. If you think someone is rude to you, be twice as polite back. Not only good karma, it also annoys the heck out of people.> <<Neale... send this rude individual elsewhere, or return such emails unanswered. RMF>> p.s. The breeder takes no responsibility once the fish are put in the tank and does not respond to emails. <Don't know what to say except don't buy from him/her again. Discus are not easy fish, and without knowing your level of expertise, it is impossible to wholeheartedly recommend you try them again. Certainly, with anything as difficult as discus I'd want to buy from a local breeder and see the fish in the flesh first before spending any money. Cheers, Neale>

Strange Discus illness... nutr., algal/env...?   2/27/07 Hello <Hi there> I have a 75gallon Discus tank. I have it fairly heavily planted, with Co2 injection and a PH controller. I also have 260watts of compact fluorescent lighting. I change the water once a week, about 15 to 25% each time and once a month I do a more in depth cleaning and 30% - 40% water change. I have only had these fish in the tank for about two months now. The tank itself has been running for about 6 months or more now. I did a 25 or 30% water change yesterday afternoon, and trimmed some planted that had some bad algae growth and cleaned the Fluval filter pads and trays. <All sounds good thus far... but the algae...> Then fed the fish about an hour later. Everyone was fine when I went to bed last night. I woke up this morning, and found one of my larger discus floating upside down in the corner. When I looked in at him he moved back out of the corner and got upright, and then swam down to the bottom with the others. Then I realized he was swollen or bulging around is stomach area, and had difficulty swimming, and once floated rig ht to the top of the tank. When I left for work, he was back in the corner, but right side up this time. <Mmmm> I have no idea what this could be or how I caused this. I did recently started feed live black worms, as I have one smaller discus in there that won't eat anything but live food and small amounts of flake foods. All the discus eat the worms. <Usually... with gusto!> Yesterday though, I did have a problem with the worms, but it didn't seem to be an issue. I took the out of the fridge, and found that they had gotten frozen solid. I thought they were dead for sure. But I rinsed them with cold water a few times, and the ice melted away slowly, and to my surprise the worms were in fact alive and moving. so I rinsed them a few more times and let them sit. they looked totally normal and healthy, so I fed them to my discus and my angels and rams in another tank. The other tank is doing just fine, and so are all the other discus, including the one that doesn't eat much. Any ideas what this is and how I can treat the discus and hopefully not lose him? more tank info incase its needed... PH - 6.80 Ammonia - 0ppm Nitrite - 0ppm Nitrate - 0ppm to 5ppm GH - about 6 KH - about 3 or 4 <This all looks good as well> I have eco complete as my substrate with a very small amount of gravel on the top of that mainly for color. Filtration is a Fluval 405 filter, with one tray full of bio media, another with zeolite and peat, and another with lava grains. also have co2 injection on a PH controller and 260watts of light. The only thing I am not using is RO water. I do plan to use this ASAP, as soon as I can afford one. <Mmm, depends on whatever else may be in your tap... but the measures you give are fine... esp. for tank-bred specimens (vs. wild-caught)> Thanks for any help you may offer!!!! <Mmm... well, I suspect the blackworms... as you appear to as well... Maybe the one fish "got a tummy-ache" from these being "not quite right"... But more so, I am wondering re the algae that you mention on the plants... there are a few types that are quite toxic to aquatic life... in particular in new/er set-ups... I do encourage you to add a bit of GAC (granulated activated carbon) in a Dacron bag... in your canister filter, AND I do encourage you to add something more/else in the way of filtration... another canister or hang-on power filter... You need more, redundant bio-filtration here... Bob Fenner>



Discus With Parasites   1/4/07 Hello, One of my recently purchased Discus is now in my hospital tank.  It seemed to have gill flukes (clamped gill, not eating). The LFS recommended adding salt to the tank and increasing temperature.  They also recommended salt baths, which seemed to open up the gill (I did 2 in 3 days).  The fish still was not eating or behaving normally, so the LFS gave me 5 tablets of Clout to be used over five days.  When I started using this, the fish turned pale, and I noticed a lump along the end of the lateral line near the tail fin.  I'm questioning the wisdom of the treatment and if the medication induced this lump - a tumor? < Clout is a pretty good medication. I think your discus has parasites. The Clout has killed the parasite and their bodies are decomposing and causing the lump. From your description it sounds almost like a pimple. Those white blood cells look like pus and force the problem to the surface of the skin where it can be extruded from the body.> parasite? < I think the Clout killed the parasite and the discus has moved the dead parasite to the skin surface.> The fish is breathing through both gills, but is still pale and hasn't eaten for about a week, even though I try to entice it with blood worm and brine shrimp.  When undisturbed (I am doing 30% water changes daily) it swims around the tank as it would normally.   I am a novice as you can tell, but I check the water parameters closely in both tanks (the other fish are doing well).  Any idea what the lump is? Or what the paleness is caused by (Clout I'm guessing), and what I should do next? Thank you, Michaela <Get the discus eating again and keep up with the water changes. Watch the "Lump" are for signs of a secondary bacterial infection. If it gets red then treat it with Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>
Discus With Clamped Fins   1/4/07
Thank you for the information Chuck.  Since my last email to you, my discus has been clamping its pectoral fins, or at times sporadically moving them, and seemingly trying to rub itself on the side or the tank and the air stone tubing.  Could it be that all the parasites were not killed? < Discus are very sensitive to changes in the water. The treatment has stressed the fish and other things may be attacking him. The medication may have killed off the parasites but not the eggs. So the fish gets reinfected after a few days.> I have done a 50% water change today, and added another tablet of Clout.  What if after this, the last dose, my discus still doesn't look free of the parasites? <Keep up with the daily water changes and allow things to stabilize for a few days before attempting to treat again. If the fish looks like it is going to immediately die then you may need to try some desperate measures. Discus come from soft warm acidic water with no salt in it. I would back off on the salt for now.> When you mention 'get the discus eating', do you mean adding the shrimp and/or blood worms more often? < When cichlids are sick they seem to shut down and stop eating. If your discus is still eating then this is a good sign.> I have been trying twice a day, and then vacuuming it out during the water change (because the fish hadn't shown any interest in it).  What about the salt baths - was that a good idea?  Is salt a good idea now in the tank to prevent secondary infection? So many questions, so little time :o) Thank you again for your helpful information. Michaela < I would still back off on the salt for now, increase the water temp to 82 F and do %25 daily water changes. Offer the food as you have been doing but be sure to remove any uneaten food after a few minutes. Keep the fish dark so not to stress him more than needed.-Chuck>


Disappearing Discus  - 10/25/06 I have a 55 gallon tank. I had [at the time] 7 discus & 2 Plecos. About a month ago, I noticed my little 2-inch Yellow Siam Master had turned very dark. I was scared he would die. I changed the water almost 3/4 of it - all tests were good. Then a few days later - I just couldn't find him OR my little Pleco (2 inches)! I cleaned out the tank - took all plants (plastic), big rocks, etc. out & searched. Nothing. Just gone. Now it is 3 weeks later & I just got 3 new discus - all doing fine BUT now my 2-inch Blue is completely gone!! I have never found a body, bones, from ANY fish in my tank. I have also searched all around my tank in case they jumped out. I feed them 2 x day & change water 3-4 x month. Are my discus creepy little cannibals or what?? Does my tank have a wormhole? Alien abduction? This is completely freaking me out. PLEASE tell me what is happening (if you can.) < Your discus turn very dark and start to hide when they are sick. When they die the bacteria start to break them down and their bodies decompose very quickly in an aquarium. If your water is soft and acidic then the skeleton will dissolve pretty quickly too.  Remove some of the decor so you can watch them more closely.-Chuck><<RMF suspects the other Pleco>>


Discus Didn't Make It  10/30/06 Pufferpunk, Thanks for the response. I know I should do water changes more often/a greater percentage, but sadly my water is chock full of chloramines and I don't quite have enough money for an R. O. unit, so I need to do small water changes.   <No need for an RO unit, add Prime.  I buy the pond size concentrate from www.bigalsonline.com & double it w/RO water.> Frequency-wise, well, my fish are not at my house (no room, they are at my grandparents and with school, I don't have much time to visit them.) Sadly he passed  away an hour after I emailed you. <Awww... so sad. =o{  > He was in pretty bad shape. I will  definitely add garlic to their food. Freshly squeezed is best, right? <That's fine.> Also, should I continue to add the Melafix? It seems to be helping-should I up the dose at all? <Definitely keep adding the Melafix, at the recommended dose on the bottle.> Finally, in memory of the little guy, he was very pugnacious, hence his name-pug. Although he was always a little toughie and would be the first to the food, I did in fact notice the other ones nudging him. I don't know if this was a good thing or a bad thing. Please give me advice to the following. <The others could have destroyed his slime-coat on that one side, causing bacteria to eat away at him.  Sorry for your loss.  ~PP> Thanks Again, Anthony


FW, high pH... Discus... No useful info.   9/22/06 Hi  We have a couple of Solid Blue breeders,  our PH has risen to 7.7, <?> one of the breeders has gone dark, sits in the corner, breaths heavy.  I didn't think he would still be here on Monday let alone today (not looking to good)  We have tried to get the PH down, <How...?> but no joy.  Can you suggest anything I have been doing 25% water changes each day. Thanks Julie <Mmm... are you familiar with Alkalinity/Alkaline reserve? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked files above... Would be worthwhile to have test kits, measures for kH, GH... to go along with such expensive fish. It may be that your source water needs to be filtered... perhaps Reverse Osmosis... and then blended with some original water for "some" mineral content... Bob Fenner>


Discus problems, poor and little useful info.   8/2/06 Hey there! <Ho there> I have an issue with my discus.... from reading your site, it appears to be white spot   <As in ich?> as he has white or lighter color patches, has darkened and hides out..... <Behavioral manifestation...> I can do the dips but currently do not have another tank to set them in to allow the other to go fallow (also there are a few Rummynose and Congo tetra in the same tank) <Mmm... not so fast...> I was given sulfathiazole for a treatment, do you think this will work?   <For?> I have raised the temp to 90, added aquarium salt (same as metal salt?) <Mmm, all salts are composed of a metal and non-metal...> and the pH is a bit high, 74, <... missing a decimal place...> I plan to add more RO water hopefully to get it down somewhat. I surely do not want to lose another discus, I have lost 1 already and have 2 other in the tank 1 with no patches and the other with TIA Denise <The markings and head-down behavior you mention are much more likely an indication of psychological stress than pathogenic disease... That is, there's something environmentally, socially "wrong" here... There is nothing offered in the way of information that gives an idea of what this might be... the size of the tank, excessive lighting, bullying by other fish, over-crowding... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusbehfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Am hopeful "something" will "jump out" in your conscious from reading here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Discus problems ... dis.   8/3/06
Thanks for the reply, sorry if I left out some info that may have helped you.. It is not like the ich I have seen, these are not small, white pimples, just flat whitish patches. <Ah, yes... I took this to be so> Starts out with one, then they get more numerous.  I recently lost two discus, one while I was away -and am quite sure the caretaker did not do anything out of the ordinary, except leave the fish in the tank..... and then lost another about a week later.  That one had one raised white spot on the side of it's head, larger than any ich I have seen, as well as the whitish patches on the side of the body, clamped fins, not eating-and he was the one that ate the best of all of the discus. <... this is starting to sound like another possibly protozoan complaint... and/or worm... internal, intestinal...> He died bout a week later.  Then another came down with one white patch, that then grew into more white patches....  His fins are not clamped and I have gotten him to eat, I just do not want to lose another discus. My other discus so far has no patches as of yet... <Your system may well be infested> The tank is a 55, planted, 1 40w light.  Also in the tank with the 2 of the 4  discus are 6 Rummynose, 4 Congo tetra, and 2 catfish. The only environmental thing may be the pH, maybe the temp got below 80, usually is about 83 <This is fine either way with the species listed> but have had the AC  on a lot lately. No excessive bullying going on in the tank that I am aware of.....   I know discus will darken, go off food for a bit etc, but the white patches on the body do not look like anything good, they are not fungus and not bloody, maybe possibly  missing scales?  all I could come up with from what I found on the forums was that is was possibly a protozoan type thing..., hence the sulfathiazole. <Sulfa drugs will not help you here> Does this help.... I could not find pictures on the web that helped me. Thanks again Bob! Denise <... You did read on WWM re Discus Health?... Please use the search tool, indices on WWM... read re Hexamita/Octamita, Camallanus, Metronidazole/Flagyl, Praziquantel... and soon. Bob Fenner>


Parasite under microscope, Discus, Hexamitiasis   7/18/06 Dear Crew   I have a simple question concerning internal parasites. I have three discus fish all are eating and active. Water parameters are all ok, temp 87, <A little high for "day to day"... I'd keep this in the 82-84 F. range> and I am using an external filter and a UV light at about 50gph flow rate. 30% water changes are made biweekly <Good> and plants are growing well. A week ago I noticed stringy feces coming from the largest discus. I have had such a symptom before with angelfish and they soon became shy, reclusive, and did not eat, even lost a little color. <Yes... commonly Octomita/Hexamita...> Not wanting to wait to treat the discus with medications till more symptoms occurred I decided to take a sample of the feces and look at it under a microscope at a lab I work in. What an experience, let me tell you. You probably already know. Well I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. I saw some bacteria, which could be just intestinal E. coli-if fish have that. <This and other...> There were Paramecium like creatures-lots of them. They had a definite posterior end and cilia for movement. They came in a variety of sizes and were concentrated in the stringy parts of the feces. I believe they were unicellular. I am not sure whether I saw any worms/flukes/the like. I did see long worm-like things but was unable to positively identify anything that would make them more than just a scratch on the slide or an oddly digested piece of food. I also thought I saw some eggs, visible with the human eye, perfectly round, red, and one partially exploded when the cover slip was placed on it, which make me wonder if this is a tubeworm infection. <Could be... as well>   Now all three of the discus have the same stringy feces with the same identifying organisms, but are eating and active. Is this a protozoa infection? <Likely so. Please see: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&lr=&q=Hexamita&sa=N&tab=wi> or a tubeworm infection infected with Protozoans? <Not tubeworms... possibly Nematodes, other phyla...> What should I be looking for in the feces. I have started lacing food with pure metrazidole(sp?) <Close: Metronidazole/Flagyl> as I would rather treat while they are still eating then later when they are not. But obviously better to not treat when treatment is not necessary. Since the directions of the metrazidole said, "impossible to overdose" I treated. Should I keep treating? What else should I do? <Is very easy to "overdose"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm and the linked files above>   I am feeding a rotation of bloodworms, brine shrimp, beef heart, and veggie stuff. Would any of these introduce internal parasites?   Sincerely   Clifford <Mmm, no... This/these problems are "imported" with new fish livestock almost invariably... Hence the call for careful quarantine... Bob Fenner>


Dashing Discus  7/14/06 Hey guys! I have a few things that I wanted an opinion on. Let me give you my tank and fish specs first. I have a 55 gal, a couple medium sized plants, sponge filter and eight discus under 3 1/2". My problem is three different fish who all display different symptoms. 1.) I have a blue snakeskin who was breathing through one gill for long periods of time. He would use both if agitated by a tank cleaning, or during feeding (I assumed just from the activity). I consulted my local fish store and was told to let the fish ride it out as long as he was eating properly and not getting any worse as medication can be pretty intense for fish. So that's what I've done. I came home from work tonight and he is at the bottom of the tank bobbing up and down hitting the gravel bottom each time. He seems to be breathing heavily (using both gills) and one of his fins (right side) is torn up pretty bad in the webbing. I gave him some stimuli by turning on the tank lights and stirring him with my hand. He was completely unresponsive until I touched him, at which point he darted around aimlessly hitting every decoration and wall in the tank multiple time, often swimming upside down and on his side. He came to rest in a corner of the tank on his side and resumed the bobbing behavior. Is this later stages of a gill problem I should have taken care of earlier? < Probably should have treated for gill flukes with Fluke-Tabs but hind-site is always 20/20.> 2.) My red snakeskin has always been a good and healthy fish (still young though) at the time that I came home tonight, he was swimming around the tank, upright, and running into anything in his direct line of swim. Almost the way a blind person would walk if they couldn't spot to avoid objects. He has no outer signs of abuse from the others, or anything that would look like disease. Could this be related to the fish I mentioned in #1? Or is this a part of night time discus unresponsive behavior? < Internal parasites or trauma like a blow to the head may be the problem. Fish sleep when it is dark and it could take a few moments to let his eyes get adjusted to the lights and shadows.> 3.) I know this is getting long, but thank you so much for anything you can help me with. Lastly, I have a brilliant turquoise that is kinda beat up looking. Again, all the fish looked fine today (except for the one with the gill problem) and when I came home tonight I noticed that there were white scratch marks along his sides and towards the back of his body. No other symptoms though. Is this just normal pecking order battle scarring? < The fish could have  been  startled and inadvertently scratched himself against an object. Fish do not do this kind of damage to each other.-Chuck> The only other thing I can say is that I performed a water change today, but I tested the water right before I emailed this and everything checks out fine. Very consistent with previous water conditions. I love my fish and I would hate to lose one to something I should have prevented a while ago. Thanks again for what you guys do. I'll look forward to hearing back from you. Ryan


A Marine (Water Quality) and a Freshwater (Discus Injury) Question - 04/22/06 Hello, and many 'thank you's' for all the wonderful help you've provided me over the years! <<Howdy...and you're welcome>> I have two concerns that call for your brand of expertise: <<Alrighty>> 1) My 55gal reef tank has quite a layer of 'scum' on the surface and has had quite an algae problem over the last week or so and 2) My discuss is breathing better and I'm wondering if he's going to keep on keeping on or what. <<Okay...lets split these queries up and tackle one at a time, shall we?>> Reef details: I recently (3 months ago) moved from having very good water (20ppm total hardness strait out of the tap) to having very hard water (340ppm out of the tap). <<Mmm, indeed...though should be a moot point if you are filtering your tap water before use>> Our area is also home to a very large phosphates mine-I don't know if this could effect the water supply, but I thought I'd throw it in just in case. <<Ah yes, there is likely a huge excess of phosphate in the ground water>> Until about 3 weeks ago I hadn't had any problems. <<Building up in your system over time>> Then I got a slight scum on the surface that lasted a couple days and went away...for a week...to be replaced with a worse scum for 3 to 5 days and went away...for 5 days or so...to be replaced by the current scum layer which continues to get worse as the days go by.  My surface skimmer is drawing just fine, I have about 780gph turn over in my tank, and my skimmer is only producing about 1/2 cup of dark skimmate every day. <<Hmm...is curious that the surface skimmer can't handle/remove the "scum">> I'm replacing 2gal. of top off daily that is filtered through a PUR-tm faucet filter. <<Ahh...herein lies the problem.  This filter is inadequate for your needs, it is neither designed nor intended to filter water to the quality you need for your reef tank.  It may have proved adequate with your previous tap water supply, but it seems obvious you need something with "more power" now.  Do look in to either an RO/DI or Kati/Ani filtration system...can make all the difference here>> I need to replace the 10000K 250w MH as it is around a year to year-and-half old. <<I doubt these are your problem...probably even have a few more months of useful life to them>> I also have 130w CFL super-actinics that are about 3 month old.  I have about 15 sm. snails of varying types and about the same number of sm. hermits.  The bioload is 1--3" Coral beauty angel, 1--2 1/2" Yellow watchman goby, 1 Fire goby, 1--2" Ocellaris clownfish, 1 med. coral banded shrimp, 1 pr. skunk shrimp, 3 peppermint shrimp, 1--2" sea hare (not the normal species...smaller and bright green).  Soft corals include: sm. Stolonifera, 8 anthelia polyps, and various mushroom, Xeniid, and Kenya tree frags.  I also have a 3" bubble tip anemone. <<Ugh...you were doing so well up to this point <G>.  I hate to see motile invertebrates housed with sessile invertebrates...especially in a small system such as yours>> Discus details: During the move (three months ago) the largest and most hale of my four 3" discuss managed to make a dive for the floor during transfer from the transport tank to the show tank. <<Ouch!>> From that point on he's been sickly and dark, and his gill covers have been unevenly distended. <<Likely suffered some physical trauma>> His right was hardly moving and the left was always twice as open as the other discuss.  Well, four or five days ago he started hiding in the back and got really dark...trouble signs...and I was about to separate him to his own hospital tank, when, two days ago, I noticed that he was back up front, lightening up, and HIS GILLS WERE BOTH WORKING! <<Yea!>> Well, he's kept a better color, though still not his best by a long shot, and he's still using both gills equally.  Do you have any idea what happened? <<Specifically?...no...but it's obvious he suffered injury/stress from the fall to the floor...and appears to be recuperating nicely on his own>> Thanks for both helps. Branon. <<Cheers my friend, EricR>>


Sick Discus... hypochondria in the display tank    3/29/06 Hello, <Kurt> I love your site and have spent many hours searching.  Most of what I have learned I learned here! I have a problem in my planted tank.  It is a 90 gallon planted tank with 4 Wattley discus (adults) and some compatible community fish (rummy nose tetra, gold nugget Pleco, blue rams).  The tank has been set up for about 3 years and has been problem free for a long time.  I use RO water and some tap water for water changes and change 30% twice weekly. Temp is 85, PH is 6.5, No ammonia or nitrite.  Only the Discus are having a problem. <Okay> For the last week or so, the discus have shown signs of external parasite. Dark color, white dry looking skin, scratching etc...  Until today they have been eating fine.  Still eating some just not much. I treated for 4 days with Quick Cure (35 drops in my 90 gallon tank) water change daily. <In your main tank? Toxic... Do keep your eye on ammonia, nitrite... the formalin in the QuickCure will kill off your nitrifiers...> Still not better so I did large water change and treated with 4 teaspoons Prazi pro.  The next day my blue diamond was looking worse again so I assumed it was because I stopped the Quick Cure treatment.  For the last 2 days I have been treating with Paraguard 40ml in 90 gal. tank with daily water changes.  I also dipped the blue diamond (sickest fish) for 1 hr. in 1 gallon water and 3ml ParaGuard yesterday.  No improvement yet? Could I have another problem? <Yes...> Should I be doing something different? <Of a certainty, yes> Should I continue with this treatment? <I would not. Too toxic, too shot-gun in its approach> They do not show any white stringy feces like with Hexamita. Please help!  I don't want to lose these fish or kill my plants. Thank you! Kurt Will <... do you have a microscope? A relationship with a local store that does and knows how to look for parasites? You may just have an environmental complaint.... assuredly though, if you keep pouring these chemicals into your main tank, all will be dead. You need to accurately diagnose what the root cause/s of the problem are here, and treat the mal-affected fish/es elsewhere. The life in the main system is absorbing, reducing the treatment efficiency of what you're pouring in. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Discus - 03/29/06
Thanks for your response. <Welcome> Since writing to you I have talked to Gabe Pasoda at Jack Wattley discus. <Good> He advised that my initial treatment with Quick cure was too weak of a dose (35 drops in my 90 gallon).  I did that due to the tetra's. <Mmm, agreed to both of you... but am still opposed to using Malachite and/or Formalin in an established biological system...> Yesterday I dosed 75 drops (after 30% water change) and today am seeing some improvement. So far tetra's OK.  I think I will dose again with quick cure for another day or so and watch closely. <... Do monitor your nitrogen cycling, accumulation... there is going to be trouble...>   I don't have a microscope and my LFS while great people are not discus experts. I do have a quarantine tank however it currently has a new possible pair of discus being quarantined before introducing to my main tank.  This is the main reason for treating my display tank.  Also, wouldn't the parasites remain in the tank and cause problems again in the future if I didn't treat it? <Depending on the cause/pathogen, allowing such systems to operate sans fish hosts ("fallow") weakens or starves such agents generally> I am not one to just pour in the chemicals for no reason.  I maintain my tank very meticulously and do my water changes like clockwork. <Good to read/understand>   I am watching very closely while I medicate and am prepared for large water changes if I see any sign of distress. <Ah, very good> Thanks again, Kurt <Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Discus  3/30/06
Thanks again Bob, My Discus are looking much happier this afternoon.  I think one more day and I will be in good shape again.  I appreciate your help and advise. Kurt Will <And I your follow-up. Thank you, Bob Fenner>


Discus problem  - 03/05/06 Hello! One of my discus is suffered from internal parasites. He is releasing a white string like thing. This thing is about two inches long. But my discus cannot release it. More than two hours have been past but he is still trail by that (which I think is a worm). I am treating him with Metronidazole. <I would try an anti-worm treatment here as well... Praziquantel would be my first choice> Today, I have raised the temperature to 32 centigrade and also increased the amount of medicine. I have 28 gallon tank and now it is containing 500 mg of medicine. -How can I help my discus? -Can I remove that worm by myself? <I would not> Please, suggest a medicine which I can get from a medical store. My local aquarium shops do not have such medicines which contains Flubenol, etc (other discus specific treatments). Thank you in advance. <See WWM, the Google search tool... with the term "worm disease treatments". Bob Fenner>


Reef and Discus questions   2/22/06 Hello, all, I appreciate the wealth of information that is available on this site. I hope you can help me fill in a few holes I haven't been able to glean from your pages. 1) How long can Ich remain dormant in temperatures above 85F?... <Marine/Crypt: Days to a few weeks... depending on... conditions, in the absence of fish hosts... with fishes about, indefinitely. Freshwater/Ichthyophthirius can be present indefinitely> I have 4--2-3" discus that are currently battling what looks like Ich. These small, whitish, reflective nodules numbering approx. 20/fish have "sprung up from nowhere" and infested my poor discus. There haven't been any new fish added since Nov. of 95 and the temps have been maintained above 85F since then, normally around 86. I recently moved and my water parameters went from 7.6ph, .5dGH to 7.4ph, 13dGH <Mmm, pH a bit high... I'd look to keeping under 7.0> and the water is from a rural plant (still culinary, not well). We've been somewhat concerned because we noticed the Ich at the same time as some type of bug raced through our family, resulting in 'gastro-intestinal distress'--to put it loosely...pun intended. We were concerned that the bug on the fish and the 'bug' bothering us might be 'related'. Temps have been raised to 88F and I've added QuickCure and salt to the water, as well as Metronidazole to the food. <...?> This seems to be helping, but no resolution after 5 days. <I would use Malachite Green alone here (not formalin... the other component of QuickCure> 2) During our move my reef tank melted down. I don't mean that figuratively... the LR and corals were traveling in the back of my van and when we pulled them out the water temp was at least 140F! <Yeeikes!> (They were accidentally put right in front of a heater vent-I lost all of my corals and fish!) Fortunately their aquarium w/ 4" DSB and 1"plenum was not super-heated and I still have my snails and crabs. I have since put the 60+ lbs. of once-live rock back in my standard 55gal. aquarium and the water parameters for the last 3 weeks have been 0,0,0 for NH4, NO2, and NO3. One of my biggest concerns right now is that the new house is very poorly insulated and the house temps range from 69-79...and my lighting is 250W MH and 130W CFL! I've shifted the light cycle to after sun-down but my dig. therm. broke and I haven't had a  chance to see if that will help any. Should I just bite the bullet and get a chiller? <Mmm, possibly... or consider other countervailing strategies... posted> Drop the MH and get a different lighting type?. I keep softies and am planning on trying my hand at a BTA some time in the next year or so. When would it be ok to start stocking with fish/corals? <A month or more...> Should I look at adding some more LR to my system or will the DSB reseed the LR (I still have a small smidgen of coralline left)? Thanks for all the help. Branon Rochelle. <I would add  a few new pounds of LR. Bob Fenner>

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