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Help with sick Raphael striped cat 7/3/16
Hello You guys have been an invaluable resource in the past and I was hoping you
might be able to help me again!
My wife has a 28 gallon fish tank and her livestock *was* 3 juvenile
turquoise rainbows, a black skirt tetra, and three of the genetically engineered
GloFish skirts. Along with her favorite fish of all time, "Bumble," her striped
Raphael cat. She got him when he was about an inch long and has had him
six years now.
Over the course of the last few months, starting with the Glo-fish, I've
been experiencing a slow-paced die-off.
Each of the Glo-fish would, at some
point, appear to be unable to close their operculum on one side. They
appear to breathe rapidly and eventually die. Each time it started, we would do
a water change.
<You do these regularly? As part of weekly maintenance I hope/trust>
When all the Glo-fish passed, the largest turquoise started to show the
symptoms. Exasperated, we treated the tank
with Praziquantel, in case it was gill flukes.
<? Where would these come from?>
The specific med was API General Cure (Prazi/Metro combo). It seemed to
stabilize the fish.
<Metronidazole kills fish kidneys; NOT to be used casually>
Unfortunately, due to severe work stress, we got behind on water changes
and the tank went about a month without a change.
I don't have a freshwater test kit anymore (reagents went bad), so I can't tell
you what happened to the parameters. I know my tap water seems
incredibly susceptible to pH crashes.
<Search, read on WWM re bolstering alkaline reserve... easy to do when folks
have too-soft water>
I keep a small amount of seashells in each tank, because I've dropped from pH ~8
to pH 5 over the course of 3 days before. The shells seem to slow pH drops so
that regular water changes aren't as shocking.
<I'd be using a level tsp. of baking soda per ten gallons of changed out
I'm getting to the point, I promise. The large turquoise took a sudden turn
three days ago, showing a few small, white "fungus" patches (Dunno if it was
columnaris, Saprolegnia, or something else white and tufty).
<Really; the root cause: poor environment>
He was swimming irregularly, corkscrewed, jammed himself into a decoration and
died shortly after, with all his chromatophores ceasing to function, leaving him
My wife took it on herself to do a massive "serial dilution" water
change (Several 50%'s in a row) that was long overdue. And now we find
ourselves at the crux of the issue. The very next day (yesterday; the thirtieth)
her striped Raphael was showing small, white dots. He also appeared to be losing
some mucus coat. I've been reading and looking at pictures and I honestly
can't figure out if it's ich, velvet, columnaris, or something else.
<Most likely Ich>
I suspect it may even be a secondary infection to the unseen primary. I don't
want to antibiotic-bomb this tank, because it
would likely cause stress. So, I wanted to seek out your advice before
settling on a treatment. I was also curious how often we should do
water changes during the treatment period. (Normal schedule is 20% change per
week or 40/50% every two when things get rough).
<I'd simply elevate temperature... to the mid 80's F.>
If this is predicated on me getting a test kit in order to give you parameters,
I will be happy to do so. pH is right around 7, but it's only been a few days
since the water change, so that's not surprising.
<Plus the household sodium bicarbonate mentioned>
It is intensely difficult to take pictures of a fish, but I was able to get some
video, so I've uploaded it to you tube:
<Ah yes; almost assuredly Whitespot... again, the treatment mentioned above;
perhaps reading on WWM Re>
Thank you so much for any/all help you can provide!
<Be of good life (anima bona fac). Bob Fenner>
A compatibility question: red-eared slider + Platydoras
Greetings to The Crew,
I hope this message finds you all enjoying some sunny springtime
weather, and in the best of health!
<I thank you>
I have a bit of a tricky question, and I'm hoping that you can shed some
insight that will help me in keeping my wet pets in the best of health -
as you have never disappointing in the past. n_n
<Will do my usual best>
A bit of background. . . I am a lover of freshwater fish in naturally
planted aquariums, this is a passion for me, and has led to what is
known as "Multiple Tank Syndrome" in my own home - a thing I'm sure
you're all very familiar with!
<Heeeee! Oh yes>
I've done fairly well thus far, barring a few bizarre illnesses (thanks
again for your help with these!). An unfortunate side-effect of this is
that people tend to come to me for advice regarding their own, generally
terrible, set-ups, and in a few cases, I've 'rescued' and rehabilitated
fish that had previously been poorly cared for, or had owners who could
no longer care for them. In addition, I work very closely with my
children's school, having helped several classrooms set up and maintain
(with proper research!) their own classroom community tanks. It's a lot
of work on both sides, but a joy to work with the children, and help
them to learn the right way to take care of their own wet pets at home.
<I salute your efforts at sharing>
I wouldn't consider myself a fish expert at all - I only know the
animals I've kept! Unfortunately, in the eyes of the school. . . I'm the
"aquarium expert," and so it came to pass that a sweet-tempered female
red-eared slider was put into my care. The turtle, Crystal, lives in the
Kindergarten classroom (we are VERY conscious of the fact that she may
carry the dread salmonella, and take great pains to ensure the safety of
the children -as well as the turtle WITH the children!).
<Mmm; much more likely the children may deal w/ this bacterium from
When Crystal was first brought to my attention 2 years ago, I knew
nothing about turtles, but it was obvious even to me that she was
suffering, and in dire need of some help. Since I seem to be the only
one in the school who is willing, I took her under my care. She is
around 7-years old (give or take), and her carapace measures about 10
inches front to back. She was then living in a 30-gallon 'turtle tank,'
barely able to move, and unable to fully pull herself out of the water
She was suffering from a fungal infection, malnutrition, and a whole
host of other problems caused by living in filthy water in a poor
environment. Since then, I've donated a 125 gallon tank to the school
for her care, along with the filter it came with (which is not
sufficient for her bioload), and do weekly water-changes. She's come a
long way, and at this point, she's much happier and healthier. Though
her scutes may take years to recover from the damage, the fungus is
gone, and she is living in as close to a natural environment as I could
create, with a proper basking area built up with river rocks and
driftwood, and the proper lighting over her basking area. After so much
time and research, I STILL feel that I know nothing about turtles - but
<We have Darrel Lantera>
During this period, a friend of mine was no longer able to keep his
9-year old(ish) Platydoras armatulus (Raphael/Humbug/Armored/Croaking
catfish), and with nobody else to turn to, Mr. 'Scutes ended up in my
care. Unfortunately, s/he is a bit over 6 inches long, and not
compatible with any of my other tanks, which are densely planted, and
have smaller/nano fish, so he has been given a 75 gallon tank, and has
been thriving under my care for nearly 2 years now.
All this rambling. . . but the question is exactly as stated in the
<Yes; and the answer is unfortunately; no; not compatible w/ this or any
other temperate Emydid turtle>
The turtle needs more filtration in her tank, unfortunately, I can't
afford to donate another filter to the school, and they are
unwilling/unable to afford a second filter for her. Though I've
committed, and am more than willing, to keep this beauty of a catfish
for the rest of his natural life (which hopefully will be a VERY long
one!), I could surely do with one less large water-change on my home
So I've gotten the (slightly mad) idea in my head that perhaps, since
the catfish is large and well armored, and there are plenty of natural
hides in the turtle's 125 gallon tank that he could get into, but the
turtle could not, perhaps I could combine the two tanks, and put ol'
Scutes the catfish - along with his filter (a nice Fluval G6 Hydrotech
rated for 80-160 gallons) in with Crystal the Red-Eared Slider? This
would more than double the turtle's filtration, and nothing seems to
bother ol' 'Scutes the catfish. Both the catfish and the turtle's tank
are currently unheated, and remain at a fairly stable temperature of
about 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
I've read accounts on forums online of these two species dwelling
peacefully together, but I trust those people's accounts about as much
as I trust my 5-year old when she says she's flossed her teeth, and so I
come to you for your advice and input on this situation. Is this
a terrible idea? Or a possibility?
<A poor idea... turtles as you've noted are "really dirty" and "clumsy"
animals. Better to place this catfish elsewhere>
I do realize that some of
this will depend on the unique temperaments of both animals, and so
would be VERY vigilant as to the stress level of the catfish, and the
curiosity of the turtle, who has never had a tank-mate before. I'm quite
fond of both animals, and want what is best for both. I DO feel that
both animals would be best suited to be in their own environments -
apart from one-another, but if it's possible that they could
co-habitate, it would make my life in caring for theirs much easier!
I am in the school every day at least twice a day checking on all of the
tanks there, do weekly water changes (sometimes bi-weekly for the
turtle's tank) and also have access during holidays and summer vacation,
so I will be tending to their care throughout the summer months. I have
two children who will be in this school system (barring unforeseen life
changes), through to high-school graduation. As the youngest is in
Kindergarten now, this will be many years to come!
I truly appreciate any feedback you can offer on this idea, YOU'RE the
experts, not me! I still know nothing about turtles, and even Mr. Scutes
the catfish is a whole new type of fish to me, though I've been caring
for both for two years now, I feel very unsure...
Thanks in advance for your time and advice!
- Jes (aka Chesh)
<Thank you for your well-written essay; and caring! Bob Fenner>
use in Hamburg catfish 1/19/15
Hi there my name is Louise.
I've been reading round everywhere to find a reason for how my cat fish
acts but keep coming up trumps.
We have had him for over a year now, nearly 18 months. I think he's a
<? Don't know what this is species-wise>
as he resembles the Hamburg sweet but every time I talk to a shop owner
they give me a different name.
His problem is he has curly gill flaps, they seem to curl out and make
the gill slit exposed a little.
<Ahh; perhaps evidence of early/developmental physical challenge.
Catfishes, cichlids and more get "bent gill covers" from poor water
conditions as young; and other causes... genetic, nutritional>
We thought it could have been disease related, went to talk to a pet
shop and was given bacterial and fungal treatment.
Treated tank, no change. He's always been like this though. The tank has
been treated a few times when we had guppies as they had a tendency to
fin rot (usually after addition of a new fish this happened so I think
more of a bad pet shop issue.)
His second problem which I have only noticed recently as he's out more
due to house wars with the upside down catfish, and this is when he's
flapping his gills to breath he only flaps 1. Is this normal as all my
other fish do both together.
<If I understand you, yes; normal/natural>
We have to keep getting new pots for him as he out grows them and didn't
take to the while driftwood thing, he likes an enclosed pot as his
He's currently in the submarine but the 2 upside down cats seem to be
hogging it and he's out more especially in the day when the sun is on
the tank which is rather strange to me as we rarely saw him out at
Some useful information on tank:
Occupants; 1 4 yo gold fish
<Mmm; likely not compatible. See WWM re Goldfish compatibility>
about 6 inch not including tail, 1 rainbow shark, 3 coulis loaches, 1
leopard and 1 zebra Danio, 2 upside down cats 2 inch long, 1 remaining
guppy 3yo, 2 bristle noses 1 2 inch 1 4 inch, and 2 fish of unknown
breed (there like the upside down cats but much more active and about 4
inch long they do full square laps of the tank.
Yank is 40 UK gallon, temp at 22^C, not got ware test
kit but Danio's are lovely and blue, sting ray xl filter, 8 inch aerator
stone with O2 supply.
2 plants to keep gold fish and shark happy eating.
Filter cleaned weekly (bi weekly if they have had broccoli or peas) 30%
water change weekly plus 4% addition due to evaporation.
Lighted on timer with jewel lighting system that came with the tank.
Hope that helps
<Do please send along an image of the catfish in question. Bob Fenner>
Re: Odd gill use in Hamburg
Hi Bob Fennel,
<Close enough Louis>
I have attached 2 images one of the cat fish and a close up of his
<A bit deformed; about par for the course>
When we got the cat fish he was around an inch in size, and the biggest
of the ones the shop had.
<... ah yes; a Doradid; likely Platydoras costatus>
I'm not sure on his species other than catfish I am afraid.
The gold fish was the first 1 we had and he gets alone well with
everything big enough. We tried to have tetras but he ate them within a
He spends alot
<No such word>
of time doing a figure of 8 around the 2 plants. What reasons
make him a bad tank mate?
<... see WWM re. We're not a chat board>
As he doesn't attack any fish unless there dying, dead or really small.
I'm not sure on breed of gold fish other than he was 99p and a darks
red/orange when we got him as a sprat, now he's orange along his back
and tail base and whiter on his belly and fins.
The only stressful situation I can think of was when we moved house and
he spent about 16 hours in a transporter we have 4 ransom tees for the
fish in total, but they fish traveled in the car with me as there tank
was in the van.
Hope this information helps.
Spotted Rafael missing its' tail...
Your msg. has been deleted... 15 megs of pix? We only can accept
hundreds of Kbytes... re-do and re-send. B
Spotted Rafael missing its' tail...
I searched FAQ’s but found nothing really close. I have a
125gallon take with Frontosas, Brichardi’s , Tropheus, Plecos and other
Raphaels. The PH is 8.0, 80 degrees F. We haven’t had any deaths in
more than a year and keep the water quality pristine -- vacuum and 30%
water changes every 2 weeks or so. We have Lava rocks with crushed coral
as substrate. We went to clean it out today and discovered that one of
the spotted Raff's was missing its’ tail entirely! I can’t tell if the
rectum is still intact or not. I have no reason to suspect that it was
eaten off... I believe that he might have been stuck in between the lava
rocks and lost it attempting to escape. They are all very well fed...
See the photos attached. He is still getting around and eating just
fine, but I come to you with questions. Can he survive without the tail?
Is it possible that it will grow back in time? Should we put him in a
nursing tank and attempt to treat him with a broad spectrum antibiotic
so that he doesn’t get sick?
The photos are cloudy as we’re vacuuming it out but I wanted to get them
to you ASAP!
Thank you for any assistance that you can offer, in advance.
Alison St. Clair
<Hi Alison, I'll consolidate the answers to the three emails in this
one. I really couldn't make out what you are talking about from
the photos, but I'll offer this: If the caudal peduncle is intact,
<<It's way past gone... RMF>>
the tail should grow back. If the damage has gone into the peduncle,
talking muscle tissue and so forth, this fish is permanently damaged.
<<A goner. RMF>>
I won't speculate on how the damage was done,
<<I will... the pix show an incompatible mix... the water quality is off
for this mix... in favor of the African Cichlids... RMF>>
but isolating until the wounds are healed over is wise, as is treating
with an antibiotic. Even after the wound is healed over, this fish
must learn to live within its abilities, which are now diminished.
If it can successfully compete for food in the big tank, then eventually
put the fish back. If the fish cannot compete, then it will need to be
kept in a situation where it will not be starved out. - Rick>
Re: 55 gallon tank with catfish... Doradid comp.
My 55 UK gallon tank is running very well, and all the occupants seem
<Good to hear.>
I have not removed any fish, but have since added another
striped talking catfish, and one spotted. The new
additions are about 2", whilst the original is now nearing 4" (don't
they grow fast!) The fish store people seemed to be surprised I am
keeping curies with a Raphael Talking Catfish, and suggested to me that
I should be careful as the curies may get eaten (??) and that an attempt
may result in the death of either the eater, or the eaten (!!) - I
wonder what your thoughts on this are?
<Not much of a risk to be honest. None of the Doradidae,
even the giant species, are much given to eating other fish. They prefer
snails, worms, insect larvae, etc. While I wouldn't keep any fish with
tankmates small enough to feed in their mouths, adult Striped Raphael
catfish should be perfectly safe with adult (non-dwarf) Corydoras.>
(Although I have seen a clip on U tube of striped talking cats living
with Corydoras Julii, which I assume are about the same size as my
orange Venezuela curies.) The fish with the biggest mouth at the
moment is the 7" Featherfin squeaker, and I have no problems with
him/her at all, and even had one baby Cory survive from egg to adult
when an egg must have slipped through the 'cage' I had the fry in a few
months ago, before adding any talking cats at all.
I was told to be wary of placing 2 young talking cats in with an
established one, but have had no problems. In fact quite the
reverse: I have a long narrow vase-like ornament with only one
entrance, and a small jagged window, too small for exit by. This
used to be the chosen house of the upside-down cats, but now the 4"
striped catfish has taken up residence.
<They are very social, and thoroughly enjoy being kept in groups. As
you've seen, they will happily wedge themselves as a group into a
favoured cave or crevice.>
At first it was shared with the upside-down catfishes, who were able to
exit out the 'window', but as the striped cat has got bigger, the others
have found new homes. I have been concerned that one day he may
get stuck in it, as there doesn't seem a lot of turning space.
When I added the 2 new talking cats, I was surprised to find they almost
immediately took up residence in the same vase, very squashed in with
the 1st talking cat.
Should I be concerned?
<Not really, no.>
Will a fish go into a space it may have difficulty getting out of?
And as they all grow to adult size there is no way they will all fit
into it, and maybe not even through the entrance which is about 2" wide.
<Just as people can do stupid things, so can catfish. But generally they
don't go into spaces they can't escape from. The best approach is to
offer caves much larger than the catfish, so the risk goes away, or else
use a cave open at both ends (like a pipe) so the fish can swim straight
Flowerpots and other terracotta items are often the easiest and cheapest
sources of catfish caves, and once they have a bit of algae on them,
they can look really nice.>
Your advice is much appreciated.
11th Pramong Nomjai Thai Tuala
Another prize winner in the Catfish short body category. The
Thais like their fish to have stunted growth.
<Unusual designation for a group, and tweaked body...
night light? 2/22/12
Hi Neale, how are you?
I bought a 50W moonlight lamp from Exo-terra, its for desert and
tropical terrariums, I was planning to put it in a lamp and
turn it on sometimes for night-watching so I get to see my Catfish
more, but if its for reptiles can it harm my fish?
<Nope. So long as it doesn't produce UV or heat, it's
I've read that getting a moonlight fixture is a good idea,
<Can be. Moonlight tubes were all the rage in the 80s when I started
keeping fish seriously. Not all catfish fall for this ruse, which is
why they largely fell out of fashion. But they're fun toys if you
use them for an hour or two after normal daytime lighting, and might
possibly encourage your catfish to swim a bit when you can see
can you please elaborate a bit on having night lights or not for my
aquarium, quick reminder I have:
- 4 Angelfish
- 2 Striped Raphael Catfish
<These are among the most completely nocturnal fish sold.
They're almost never seen by their owners. Do suspect one problem
is they're social fish, so when we keep one or two, they become
very shy. But even so, this family of catfish is extremely nocturnal
and favours deep, murky rivers where very little light
penetrates. That said, you can train them to come out during
the day (at least in very shady aquaria) if you tempt them with
appropriate foods dropped near to their favoured cave. For this trick
to work all overhead light needs to be filtered out with floating
plants or leaves, because they simply won't come out into brightly
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: night light?
Hi Neale, thanks as always for your great help!
I will keep asking, ha ha!
so when I grow my aquarium would you recommend to get 2 more Catfish so
they are happier, given that they are social? I would love to, since I
like them a lot.
Question about the Striped Raphael Catfish, I got them
Pleco algae food, algae wafers that go to the bottom, is this
ok, or they would prefer carnivorous food?
<Either. They will eat algae wafers as readily as anything else. My
catfish (including Corydoras and Synodontis species) feed almost
entirely on algae wafers, with occasional meaty treats like bloodworms
and mussel used once or twice a week.>
Then, I returned the Chinese algae eater, but now my aquarium has tiny
dots of algae all over the plants and rocks, I guess the algae eater
was doing a good job, you had suggested a Bristlenose Pleco, will this
fish clean the algae as much as the algae eater did?
<Much much better. For best results, allow one Ancistrus per 20
gallons on so.>
Is it a good addition for my 2 Catfish?
2 Striped Raphael Catfish &
5 Angelfish, sys. 1/17/12
Hello there, (hope my English is Ok, I am writing from
<Certainly better than my Spanish!>
I just started my fresh water aquarium, I decided to adopt a very
neglected Betta, owned by a friend because I couldn't take anymore
witnessing the conditions he was living in, unfortunately the poor
Betta died the day I was going to adopt him :-(
So I ended up with a new and empty 24 gallon tank,
with live plants and gravel.
That's when I started my aquarium, that was 3 weeks ago, I did some
research, and ended up with 2 striped Raphael catfish and a Chinese
algae eater (the 3 above were going to be my adopted Betta's
tank-mates, but as I said the Betta died the day I was going to bring
him to his new home)
<Ah, now, the Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) is not
going to work in a tank this small. It is very aggressive when mature
and gets far too large, around 30 cm/12 inches. Actually, the Raphael
Catfish (Platydoras armatulus) is too big as well. It gets to about 20
But it grows slowly and isn't aggressive. It is predatory though
and will eat very small fish (like Neon Tetras).>
The man I bought the aquarium kit to, suggested I should have up to 15
<Depends on the size of the fish. 15 Guppies? Yes. 15 Great White
I had read the recommended rule was one inch of fish per gallon of
water, <This rule works for very small fish, like Guppies and Neons,
that are only an inch or so in length. But once you start looking at
fish that are bigger than 2 inches long, the rule doesn't
and I certainly didn't want to overcrowd, so I said -no thanks-,
the day he came to my house to supervise the aquarium installation he
brought 5 young Angelfish though,
<Five Angelfish in 24 gallons! Oh no. This won't work.>
and my husband couldn't resist, so now we have: the 2 Raphael, the
algae eater and 5 Angelfish, I believe that's a lot for a 24 gallon
tank, today they look fine because they are young and small but
obviously I want them to thrive.
<By all means keep the 5 juveniles, but as they grow you'll see
them pair off. One pair will be happy in 24 gallons. You will need to
remove the rest. Alternatively, keep one Angelfish and keep it with
some other fish of appropriate size. Angelfish are aggressive and
territorial when sexually mature.>
I have read in your site about the needed circulation of water at the
bottom of the tank for the Catfish, I am not sure my tank complies,
actually its an Elite Aquarium Canopy with the Elite Hush Power Filter
which hangs on the tank, is this enough? or do I need an extra air
<You need a water turnover rate of around 6 times the volume of the
tank per hour. 6 x 24 = 144, so your filter needs to have a turnover
rate of 144 gallons/hour or more.>
Unfortunately I haven't found a serious aquarist in Mexico that can
help me with all of these, I've been doing research though, and
sometimes I find one theory, then another. I just want to do the best
for my fish, all of them, but especially the Catfish since they got
here first, should I stay with the 5 Angels? do I need a larger
<Oh my yes! 55 gallons would be good, so long as you get rid of the
Chinese Algae Eater which will cause you real problems. If you want an
algae eating fish, buy a Bristlenose Plec (Ancistrus sp.). Don't
buy a "Pleco" (which are usually Pterygoplichthys sp.) as
these get far too large for an aquarium this size.>
are my Catfish ok being only 2 (btw today they got into a big fight for
a rock, to hide in, they wanted the same), do I need a pump for the
bottom of the tank?
<A good idea.>
I would really appreciate your guidance!
best and cheers from Mexico,
Re: 2 Striped Raphael Catfish & 5 Angelfish
thanks a lot for your quick reply, I will do as you suggest, will
definitely get a larger tank. Fortunately I contacted a person that
seems like a serious aquarist, he will take my algae eater and
One quick question! can I feed spinach to the Raphaels?
<If he eats it, sure. They may eat some algae and plant material,
but mostly eat worms, small snails, and other meaty foods. They like
catfish pellets too.>
I read it somewhere, but don't want to pollute the water for the
rest of the community,
<Used in moderation, green foods like cooked spinach, cooked peas,
blanched lettuce are all fine foods.>
Striped Raphael Catfish, beh.,
hlth... sys. 9/6/2010
I recently decided to add a catfish to my cichlid tank and it has been
behaving very oddly. I know that it's normal for a catfish to be
nocturnal, but I never seem to see him out of a small plastic log in my
tank, and when he does emerge, he swims in a spiral. Unless he is close
to the bottom of the tank, then he seems to be able to control his
movements. Is this normal? If not, what can I do? Thank you for your
<Hello Rachel. No, it's not normal for catfish to swim in this
way. Let's recap on the basic needs of the Striped Raphael
It's a gregarious, predatory species that is best kept in a group
of at least two specimens and away from very small tankmates like Neons
or Cherry Shrimps. Although quite hardy and well-armoured, they should
not be kept with aggressive tankmates such as large cichlids.
Medium-sized South American soft water cichlids such as Blue Acara and
Keyhole Acara make good companions, as do Angelfish. They get to about
20 cm/8 inches long, so a 30 gallon tank is the absolute minimum and
realistically you want a tank around 55 gallons. Water chemistry should
be soft to moderately hard, acidic to slightly basic; aim for pH
6.0-7.5, 3-15 degrees dH. They will not do well in very hard or basic
water, and because of this, cannot be added to tanks with Mbuna and
other Malawian cichlids, Central American cichlids such as convicts, or
Tanganyikan cichlids. Water quality needs to be good; 0 ammonia and 0
nitrite. Water temperature should be middling, 25 C/77 F is ideal. The
aquarium needs to have a good water current along the bottom of the
tank to ensure adequate oxygenation; a filter rated at 6 times the
volume of the tank per hour is recommended, i.e., for a 30 gallon tank,
the filter should be 6 x 30 = 180 gallons/hour. Like all catfish
they're sensitive to certain medications, particularly those
containing copper, formalin or malachite green. One of the commonest
sources of physical damage is burning: make sure the heater is safely
behind a heater guard so that these catfish cannot touch the glass part
of the heater with their bodies. Because they feed at night they can be
difficult to feed, but they do enjoy prepared catfish foods such as
Tetra sinking pellets and Hikari algae wafers. They also eat small
snails, bloodworms, etc., and finely chopped seafood and white fish
fillet will make good treats. Hope this helps. Cheers,
Desperately trying to save our Raphael Catfish
Hi, I came across your website while searching for tips on saving my 7
year old son's beloved Raphael Catfish, Lazy Bones.
<Welcome to WWM!>
Lazy Bones has been our pet for almost 4 years and he is about 6 inches
long. He was in a 10 gallon tank,
<Too small for this species.>
but he had long outgrown it and we moved him to a 29 gallon tank about
a month ago.
<Better. But he is a gregarious species, and would do better with a
couple of tankmates of his own species.>
He had 3 Ghost (i.e.. Glass) catfish, 3 Zebra Danio, and 2 Black
Tetra's in the tank with him. About a week ago we bought an Albino
Pleco to help with eating the algae and that's when our problems
<Albino Plecs, i.e., Pterygoplichthys pardalis, are MUCH too big for
this aquarium, and your mistake was buying him at all! Plecs get to
about 45 cm/18 inches in length, and do within 1-2 years. A Bristlenose
Plec, Ancistrus sp., would be a much better choice.>
We ended up with a terrible outbreak of Ich on all of the fish that I
noticed on April 16th (but had been there for about 3 days--my husband
usually feeds the fish and he didn't know what Ich was).
<Oh dear. Well, there's huge value to owning and reading at
least one aquarium book. Fish are surprisingly easy to keep, and they
generally don't get sick when properly maintained. Tropical fish
come from all around the world and each species has its own
requirements, and in many cases two species sold in the same shop
aren't compatible in the same aquarium. So conditions that work for
some of your fish can be stressful, even lethal, to others. Reading
prepares you for all of this. If you don't understand that fish
have different social, temperature, water chemistry and in some cases
salinity requirements, you're going to have problems eventually. As
teachers like to say, "if you think education is expensive, try
What we mean in this context is that buying fish without really
understanding the fundamentals will, eventually, lead to
I went to the petstore and under the advice of the employee purchased
Kordon Rid Ich Plus. It says that it is safe for catfish even though it
contains Malachite Green.
<Hmm... generally it's best to avoid using medications in tanks
with catfish, though there aren't any hard and fast rules about
this. One approach is to stick with using just salt and heat when
treating catfish, since this is unlikely to have any negative
side-effects. But if you do use commercial medications, you must watch
the catfish carefully, and be prepared to remove the catfish if
I followed the instructions doing a partial water change and added
distilled water along with the medication.
<Why distilled water? Was that your idea? Distilled water is very
bad for fish. Think about it: fish don't live in distilled water;
there's always some hardness in the water they're swimming
about in. Almost always, the aim in fishkeeping is to keep water
chemistry as steady as possible. If you've been using tap water
(not tap water from a domestic water softener though) then that's
fine, even if it's a little on the hard side. Most South American
catfish will adapt just fine. But the main thing is you keep them
exposed to the same water chemistry, week-in, week-out.>
I also added API Stress Zyme and tested my water. Everything looked
fine other than the Ph being a little low (6), so I raised the Ph using
Ph increase. We started treatment on April 17th.
<Now, again with the water chemistry changes. You must understand
that changing water chemistry is risky. If you change pH without
thinking at all about water hardness, you've already failed the
first hurdle in understanding water chemistry.>
The Albino Pleco died the next day.
<No real surprise.>
The Raphael Catfish that we are so attached to was showing signs of
stress and the Ich got worse within the first 24 hours. With the second
treatment the Ich got better, but his stress got worse and his skin
started to show signs that he was too sensitive to the medication. By
this time he was swimming in a front corner of the tank (very unusual
for fish who usually stays hidden for days on end), breathing rapidly,
and has a red tinge to his skin like he's either bleeding
internally or is chemical burned.
<Possibly either, though opportunistic Finrot would seem more
Even though you are supposed to continue the Ich treatment for 3 days
past the last sign of it I have stopped treatment because it seems to
be killing my fish.
Today he started rapidly swimming all over the tank and the redness is
worse. I went back to the petstore and bought some Melaluca that is
supposed to help with skin blisters, but the Catfish really didn't
like that and his frantic swimming increased along with coming to the
top of the tank for air. So, I took him out and put him back into the
10 gallon tank where the water is normal and I felt like his skin could
just rest. The Ghost Catfish died within a few hours of the Melaluca
being added to the tank.
<Tea-tree Oil medications are at best unreliable and at worst
pointless. Whether they're actually toxic is debatable, but at this
point adding anything to an already bad situation could make things
I admit to having had general good luck with our fish in the past and
it doesn't have a lot to do with an advanced knowledge of
aquariums. Now our luck seems to have run out and my son is just
distraught over the catfish who looks like he is just miserably
<Your analysis is a sound one. Luck is useful of course, but
understanding is more critical. The basics are incredibly
straightforward, and I'd encourage you to spend some time
I feel like we've probably got to empty the 29 gallon tank and
start over, but I need to do everything I can to save Lazy Bones.
Is there anything I can do to help him? In all of my internet research
I have not found anything that mentions the redness that he has.
Many thanks, Jennifer
<At this point I'd be doing two things. The first is to gradual
restore normal water chemistry. I'd do a series of four 20% water
changes across the day, each about 2 hours apart. That should flush out
the medication while also restoring the hardness. I'd then check
ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero, just to be sure the filter is
Finally, after the last water change, I'd add about 1-2 grammes of
tonic salt per litre of water whilst turning the heater up to 28 C/82
F, possibly even 30 C/86 F if the fish will tolerate it and you have a
decent amount of water circulation. This combination of heat and salt
should suppress the Whitespot whilst also providing a bit of support to
the fish's immune system whilst its skin is broken. With luck, if
it can get better, it will.
Raphael catfish's barbels --
<Hello! Melinda with you here tonight.>
My striped Raphael catfish's barbels have been bitten at the
petstore where I got him from and I'm wondering if they grow back
or any medication to help him speed up in the process of growing.
<Okay, so it's not a good idea to purchase fish which already
have something wrong with them. I'm letting you know this, because
I absolutely know it to be true, but I'm also going to admit that I
purchased a one-eyed Florida Gar which was brought in to the store, so
at least I'm being honest about my own faults, as well! My fish is
now happy and healthy with his Gar buddies, so it worked out just fine.
I think your case will, as well.
Barbels can grow back, but it really depends on where they're
Is the barbel broken at the base, or is broken further up (this would
look like it's missing the tip)? If it's the former, they may
not grow back, but if it's the latter, especially the further to
the tip of the barbel that is broken, there's a good chance
you'll see recovery. There aren't any medications I would
recommend here, but instead, would recommend that you test regularly
and ensure that Ammonia and Nitrite are zero, and Nitrate is below 20.
That's really the best medicine for any fish: the ability to heal
on his own, and that starts with good water quality. Do keep an eye on
the stubblies, and make sure that they're not becoming infected.
Evidence of infection would be redness or swelling.>
He's in a 20 gallon tank with 3 Cory catfish and I might get 3 more
he has a diet of blood worms flakes and a earthworm for a treat
<These are good foods. For more information on care, please read
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/doradidfaqs.htm. Do you mean
three more Raphaels or three more Corys? Both would be appreciated
here, and I'm not sure you have the room. Please think, and stock,
He is one of my favourite fish I have and he doesn't look right or
like a catfish please help Ralf.
<Okay, so without knowing where the barbels are broken, it's
really a toss-up as to whether they will grow back. Even if they
don't, rest assured that Ralf will be okay -- even without his
barbels, in a captive system, such as yours, he'll have no trouble
finding food! I saw great big Red-Tailed Catfish in D.C. not too long
ago which had no barbels at all!
If that guy grew to three feet or more without whiskers, Ralf will make
Please let me know if you have any questions.>
Thank you so very much!
Hi sorry to bother again...
<No problem... have you gotten my response yet re: the
But I love the WWM and it's Amazing
<I'm glad you like it, and I find your capitalization habits
but Melinda you're on a roll so I need 1 more answer.
In a 20 gallon tank with Ralf, striped Raphael catfish, 3 peppered Cory
cats and 1 Hoplo catfish I was thinking about adding 3 more Corys but a
different species and some mid water fish that flow I don't like
fish that have sharp turns and fast movement do you have Any
<I think you're going to have to make some choices here. The
problem is that, yes, you do need at least two or three more Corys, but
you also need a couple more Raphaels, and as I said in my last
response, I'm not even sure that this wouldn't overload the
tank. Then, add in the Hoplo and some other fish, no matter whether
they have sharp turns or not, and you're overstocked. I don't
even know anything about filtration on this system, but the stocking
list you're thinking about is way over the line when it comes to
what's safe and what's not. I'd love to give you an
example, and since I've got the time, I will! A few years ago, my
husband and I began a saltwater system. True to form (until finding
WWM, of course!) we overstocked. Everything was fine (ominous words, no
doubt) until ich was introduced. It wiped out half of our stock. We
have since upgraded from 75 gallons to 180 gallons, and still don't
keep half of the fish we kept in that 75 gallon tank! What I'm
saying is that the more risks you take, the more you set yourself, as
well as your fish, up for disaster. Water quality deteriorates, fish
health deteriorates, social problems (fish-wise, I mean) begin to crop
up, and so on, until you've got a real problem on your hands.
Obviously, we call this a hobby, (though I fear it becomes much, much
more for some of us!), and we're supposed to be having fun
The way to do that is to stock lightly and carefully in order to avoid
problems in our glass boxes. So, I'd stock carefully here, if this
is the tank you really want. If you want to go larger, then do it, for
sure, and stock accordingly then, as well. Going up to a 40, or even
better, 55 gallon would give you plenty of room to add both Corys and
Raphaels, as well as a couple nice-sized schools of compatible fish,
and still give you room to "move," stocking-wise.>
I know you people at WWM are super trustworthy and very knowledgeable
(sorry for bad spelling)
<The spelling is one thing; run-on sentences are the worst, though!
Please complete a thought, signal that with punctuation, and move on to
the next thought. I feel like I'm stuck in some sort of
train-of-thought poem from the 60's, and I wasn't even alive
Thank you and good night:) Ralf is happy he eats blood worms happily
<Yes, I'm sure -- not many fish turn them down! Like I said
earlier, as long as you're offering the pellets as well as the
bloodworms, and he's still eating all of it, you should be fine. I
have plenty of fish who would rather just eat the wet-frozen foods --
obviously, more delicious! I manage to vary their diets by not only
adding a freshwater vitamin to their foods (such as Seachem Nourish),
but also feeding pellets from time to time, the better-quality ones of
which explain what's in the pellet on the back of the package --
just like humans get in their food! This ensures the fish receives what
he needs, and isn't limited to just one food source.
Please write back if you have any more questions.
Re... Raphael cat, loaches...
Hi again! After school I am going to go to PetSmart and vet one of
those expensive test sets and give you the results, if that'll
Have a nice morning!
<Sounds good.... it is better to own your own tests, but if you
can't afford it right now, you can always get the store associate
to test it for you. Just be sure and have them tell you numbers, and
write them down so you can refer back to them. Talk to you soon!
Striped Raphael catfish, beh.
My striped Raphael catfish is about 8 inches long. Eating well, etc. He
isn't under his rock anymore and just rubs his tummy on the glass
of the aquarium.
I'm wondering if he's okay.
<Difficult to say. Fish will sometimes rub themselves against solid
objects, most often rocks or leaves, if they are feeling irritated, for
example by Ick parasites. So if you've added any new fish recently,
that's something to consider, since new fish often bring parasites
into the tank if you don't quarantine them first. Catfish are also
vulnerable to poor quality water circulation at the bottom of the tank.
Hang-on-the-back filters especially don't always have the suction
at the lower level of the aquarium to really get good circulation, and
the bottom can end up oxygen-poor and sometimes the gravel houses
patches of decaying organic material that promote the growth of
bacteria. So, have a look to see if there is a good flow of water at
the bottom of the tank. One way to do this is let a small pinch of
flake go at the bottom of the tank furthest away from the filter inlet.
Does the flake just sit there, or is it quickly whisked away? If the
former, water circulation could well be an issue.
Finally, although it's a long shot, these fish are gregarious, and
yours is now full size. If it's a female, without a male companion,
it might be egg-bound, or at least gravid, and what you're seeing
are signs of discomfort. Platydoras armatulus (formerly identified as
P. costatus, a different species) is a gregarious species, so adding a
couple more specimens might help here. Females can usually be
distinguished by their larger size and very round bellies (almost like
they've swallowed a ball!).>
Any help would be appreciated thanks!
<Good luck, Neale.>
Platydoras armatulus (health; maintenance)
I just bought a striped Raphael catfish two days ago , and it was good
until this morning when i looked before work. I noticed it was up side
<Many catfish will rest upside down, usually with their bellies
pressed hard against the roof of a cave.>
I disturbed it with the net to test life and it swam away. It also was
swimming in spirals like a foot ball .
<That is unusual.>
No one attacked him as far as I know. I watch them often because i am
fairly new. My water ph is 6.8 , I was told close to 7.0 was good
because i have a community tank with all types of inhabitants .
<pH 7 is certainly good for barbs, tetras and indeed South American
catfish; on the other hand, it's too low for livebearers (Guppies,
etc.), rainbowfish, and other fish that need hard, alkaline
I check and adjust the ammonia once a day, and the water temperature is
<For this species, Platydoras armatulus (often Platydoras costatus
in older books) you need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 25 C/77 F, pH around 6.5
to 7.5, and a hardness around 5-15 degrees dH. Basically very hardy and
adaptable; only water quality is likely to be an issue in a
I have seen him eat a wounded guppy and a piece of algae wafer.
<Algae wafers are certainly excellent food, as are catfish pellets.
Augment with wet frozen things like krill and bloodworms too (these are
great for tempting catfish out in the evening). Now, eating live fish
is never good in the aquarium, and it is possible -- though unlikely --
parasites can get between small fish and predatory catfish, which is
why you shouldn't allow this. Instead, try to keep this species
with fish a bit too big to swallow: anything the size of Bleed Heart
Tetras or X-ray Tetras should be fine.
Neons, Guppies, etc. are on the small side (not that you should be
keeping Guppies at pH 6.8).>
Any help would be highly appreciated.-Chris. n.y
<For now, observe, and take care water quality is good and water
is stable. These catfish are gregarious, so also plan on buying a
couple more. Less likely to hide and less likely to become stressed. Do
watch your heater is covered with a heater guard! This species is
notorious for burning itself. Cheers, Neale.>
Raphael Catfish - can they be mixed with
aggressive cichlids like...... 11/30/08 Can you please
tell me if you think that Raphael catfish can be mixed with Texas
Cichlids, Flowerhorn Cichlids, Jack Dempseys and Red Jewels in a 150
gallon tank? All of the cichlids are about 5 inches and the
Raphael's are about 6 inches. Thanks. Chelle <Well this is easy!
No. Platydoras costatus is a peaceful, gregarious catfish that should
be kept in groups of its own kind (at least three specimens) in a
quiet, planted tank with midwater characins, barbs and the like.
|Pleco with Columnaris or Fungus or ???--
09/17/07 Hello Bob-- This is Anna ... again ;--) Everything is
okay with my 25-gallon tank except for my PLECO and red sword. Ca.
3 weeks ago I noticed that both fish looked unusual. Red sword had
a white "dot" sticking from its side and PLECO exhibited
whitish "web" on its neck. Based on materials found on
web media and in Dr. Dieter Untergasser's book I diagnosed that
my fish had been affected by COLUMNARIS. <... doubtful> I
separated PLECO and red sword and placed both of them in a hospital
tank. For 5 days I treated them with "Maracyn." I lowered
the water temperature to 74 degrees, used only daylight, provide
dissolved vitamins and "Tetra" food. After week red sword
did not display that white "dot," but PLECO has been
still showing a "web" on its neck. For the next 2 weeks I
kept both fish in the hospital tank. I changed more than 1/2 of the
tank's water every 3 days and filtered the water with carbon.
Today I moved both fish back to the display tank. The red sword
looks okay for now, though I think it is an "elderly"
fish prone to infections and it might get sick again ;--( But.
PLECO still has that "web" on its neck.... I have
attached a zipped picture of my Pleco's appearances for your
reference. <... this isn't a Pleco... but a Raphael
Catfish...> Do you think my PLECO is really sick? My tank is a
small - 25-gallon- community tank with 8 tetras + 1albinos (bottom
dweller) + red sword and Pleco. I keep superior filtration,
aeration, water condition (zero ammonia, pH ranges from 7.0 to
6.6., temp. 76-78 degrees). I do partial water changes every 3
days; add 2 spoons of salt. I keep freshwater plants (Cabomba +
banana plant). Nothing fancy.... ;--) But, it is clear to me that
if my fish gets sick, then -- most likely -- I do something
wrong... Will you be able to help me figure out what is going on
with my PLECO? Should I keep him in the hospital tank? Thank you so
very much for your feedback. ANNA Bob's follower <Anna,
please place the above correct name in your search tools and read
re this species needs... BobF>
Re: Raphael catfish poisoned 11/9/05 Thank you for your
quick response. However, my Raphael catfish died this morning. I only
wish I noticed it sooner. <Sorry to read of your loss> I'm
sorry to bother you one more time, but I have one more problem. I have
another question. I've had this rainbow platy in my Q/T for a
couple of weeks. Her fins were down, laying at the bottom,
swimming a little off, not much, eating ok. Was told to use MelaFix for
7 days. She got better. Put her back in the 25 gallon tank. Wasn't
in the tank when everyone got ich. Then about 2 weeks later she started
looking sick again. I put her back in the Q. tank. She didn't
like the MelaFix this time. <Is not a cure-all...> Started
darting around. I did a water change and she was better so I quit
giving it to her. Put salt in the tank, it's a 5 gallon tank.
However tonight when I got off work I noticed her as she swam away from
me she has this hump on the top right side of her body, right behind
her head. It isn't that noticeable until she swims away from you.
Her balance is off. And she is breathing rapidly. She wouldn't eat
anything. I'm trying to do everything to make her
comfortable. I even took her in to the pet store the first time she was
ill. He said she was ok to him. Made me kinda mad. I don't
think he really cared. I've been reading so much stuff on fish
diseases, but I can't find just the hump or balance being
off. <More environmental, developmental in origin usually...
in a word: stress> Could you please help me figure it out. I
don't want to lose another fish. I really do want to learn how to
help my fish. I can't find any red spots or lesions or anything
else on her. Do you know what it might be? I hope you could understand
what I'm trying to say. frustrated, Peetsi <Hard to state
(please do include previous correspondence), but your removing the
fish, use of salt is good... I would add a bit of floating
"grass" type plant (e.g. Elodea), test your water quality in
the isolation tank daily, and keep trying to offer foods daily. Bob
Re: Raphael catfish poisoned 11/9/05 I'm sorry I
forgot to tell you that the pH, nitrates, nitrites and ammonia are all
good. The temperature is between 77 and 78 degrees. I just looked at my
platy again and her left side is swelling. I'm afraid she won't
make it till morning either. Working from 3pm till 11 pm is not good
for my fish. If you could you tell me what medicines I should have on
hand just in case something like this happens again, I will be forever
grateful. Peetsi <A good general cathartic is Epsom Salt... I
would use this in place of aquarium salt here... at half a teaspoon per
five gallons. Bob Fenner>
Rid-Ich Affecting Catfish 11/7/05 The guy at the pet
store told me it was ok to put Rid-Ich in the tank with my Raphael
catfish. He started staying up at the top of the tank gasping for air.
I took him out and put him in another tank. He is on the bottom
breathing very hard. Looking swollen. I checked the water and others.
Ok. I have a horrible feeling my baby is going to die before you get
this. I wanted to know if it was to late for him or is there something
I can buy to make him better. Peetsi <Rid-Ich is a very good
medication. Rid-Ich is an older form of a malachite green and formalin
combination that was found to be very toxic to scaleless fish such as
catfish and loaches. It is to be used at half the recommended dosage
and says so on the bottle. A new formulation came out a couple of years
ago called Rid-Ich+. This is suppose to be a safer medication
than its earlier formula. The clerk may have confused between the two
different bottles, especially if both were on the shelf. They still
look almost identical. You did the right thing by removing him from the
tank. Place him in a net in a quiet corner of the tank with plenty of
aeration and hope for the best. There is no antidote for you fish and
it will try and purge the copper from its system over
Spotted Raphael blistered Hi- I have a Spotted Raphael
Catfish that has blisters. I had it for a few month before the blisters
started to appear. I read several things on it, but nothing that tells
me what is good to get rid of the blisters. The catfish seems healthy,
he eats and swims around just find. He still getting more blisters. I
can see if there are worms on the blisters - this was something I read
in one of the cases. I would like to know if anyone with this problem
has had any success getting read of the blisters. < The blisters are
really bacterial infections eating away the flesh of the fish. Treat
with Nitrofuranace after you do a 30% water change and serviced the
filter.-Chuck> Thanks Jose
Catfish Information My name is Brad Walker <Hi! MikeD
here> I'm looking for information on the Raphael
catfish.<These are extremely interesting animals, but their retiring
nature and nocturnal habits make them less than popular with many. They
are extremely undemanding and so do best if provided a quiet tank with
non-competitive tank-mates and plenty of hiding places. Flake foods
often suffice, but the addition of Tubifex worms, bloodworms or any
other meaty frozen foods is highly beneficial.> I have one in my
tank. But to further my knowledge it's tough to find info. Could
you please point me in the right direction <Here's just one :
Additional searches under "talking catfish" may yield more
results as well. There are several different species of Platydoras
catfish, striped, spotted, giant, etc. with all behaving in a similar
fashion.> If you have anything please e-mail XXXX.ca It's a
great fish<There are many unusual, secretive FW catfish a group with
a surprisingly large list of candidates. A tank set up with several of
these and equipped with a red light bulb for nighttime viewing can be
an experience unto itself.> Thanks for you help