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Toxotes jaculatrix (Pallas 1767), the Banded Archerfish. The principal species used in the trade in the west. Asia and Oceania; India to the Philippines, Indonesia, Vanuatu, the Solomons, New Guinea, northern Australia. To one foot in length. An adult in an aquarium.
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Updated 4/23/2019
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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

One fish floating, one on the bottom      4/23/19
<Hi Sabrina>
I'm having issues and I would greatly appreciate your help. I hope you don't mind the lists, I just don't want to forget anything.
<Glad for all useful information>
The numbers:
Size: 20 gallons
Filter: AquaClear 30 (and plants!)
Air stone: yep
pH: 7.6 during the rainy season, 7.8 during the dry season. Right now is the transition time.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: less than 5
Gh: 5 dGH
Kh: 5 dKH
Water change schedule: 30% every week. Filter floss gets replaced weekly and the rest of the media is rinsed in tank water. I don't use carbon and my dechlorinator of choice is Seachem Prime.
<With you so far>
The inhabitants:
5 Rummynose tetras
10(ish) dwarf Pencilfish
1 Apistogramma cacatuoides

Some number of cherry shrimp and assassin snails
<A nice mix>
The food:
Frozen: bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, freshwater frenzy, emerald entre
Dry: New Life Spectrum, Spirulina 20, Fluval Bug Bites, Sera O Nip Live: Microworms
<Mmm; am not such a fan of bloodworms UNLESS they've been thoroughly
sterilized, as with Hikari's line>
The problems:
I bought the male Apisto around 3 weeks ago. He went through 2 weeks of quarantine with General Cure + Furan 2 then PraziPro. After dealing with so many sick fish, especially wild caught, I medicate all new fish. He handled it well, ate well, and his poop looked good. He was in the community tank
for a week with no issues until today. I found him on the bottom of the tank on his side this morning, unable to get up despite his best efforts. I also found one of the Pencilfish bloated (not pineconing) and floating upside down. I was already running late because I hate Mondays so all I had time to do was separate them from the rest of the tank. When I got home I tested the water and did water changes (50% for the quarantine) but no one improved. I couldn't find anything reliable online so I treated with
General Cure, which gave the Apisto enough of a boost to try to get up but he just fell back down. Both are still alive but I'm not sure what to do since they got sick at the same time but have different symptoms. Do I try an Epsom salt bath for the Pencilfish to reduce the bloating?
<Yes I would>
I'm pretty sure it's an older fish because they were wild caught adults and I've had them for a couple of years now. I think it may have been one of the females that are always full of eggs. Maybe she's egg bound and it's unrelated to the Apisto?
<Quite possibly unrelated>
I have zero clue what's wrong with the Apisto. He came with tattered fins but those healed up nicely. There was a little poop in the QT (no clue which fish it came from) and it looked healthy. Another possible issue is the heater in that tank acting up a little bit. It started having a hard time maintaining the temperature and it dropped to 73, which is the low end of everyone's range. I added in a small heater I had on hand that got it up to 75. It was a gradual decline to 73, not a sudden drop, so is that likely to cause the problems?
<Possibly; and I would raise the temperature here to 79-80 F. continuously.
More suitable for the fish species you list>
Do you have any suggestions on medication for the Apisto (besides frequent water changes)? I have Kanaplex, Furan 2, Fungus Cure, General Cure, PraziPro, ParaGuard, Methylene Blue, and Rid Ich Plus on hand. I also have Metronidazole powder that's still good and Levamisole HCl that expired a year ago. For medicated food I have Garlic Guard and Focus. Of course, I'll get anything else that's recommended but in my area it takes at least 4 days for any packages to be delivered (Amazon Prime doesn't even have a 2-day option!).
Thank you,
<At this juncture, I would not use/try any more medication exposure. Am hopeful that if this fish is to recover, it will do so on its own. More stress might well push it to dying. Please do keep me/us informed of your further observations, actions. Bob Fenner>

Feeding issues with Red tail catfish.     4/21/19
I bought a new red tail catfish of size about 35cm 1 month ago.
<Nice beast, but enormous when fully grown. Do read up on the needs of these fish. Good choices for zoos and public aquaria, but extremely bad (or at least, expensive) choices for home aquarists.>
But it haven’t eaten anything so far since I bought.
<Almost always an environmental issue when these catfish refuse food. They are very sensitive animals.>
The water conditions are perfect and tank also have enough good spaces for the red tail catfish.
<Okay, first tell me about the environment. "Perfect" isn't enough. What is the size of the tank? Realistically, a Red Tail Catfish this size will need 750-1000 litres, and adults (which can get to over 1 m in length) will need something measured in several thousand litres, 3000-4000 litres minimum. What sort of filtration? Water quality has to be perfect: 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. So we're talking a heavy duty (likely pond-grade) filtration system. You need to do enough water changes to keep nitrate low, preferably below 40 mg/l, and ideally below 20 mg/l. Realistically, weekly water changes of 25-50%. Water chemistry isn't critical, but something in the range pH 6-8, hardness 2-20 degrees. Like most other large Pimelodids, they come from deeper parts of rivers, so strong currents and not too much heat are needed. I'd suggest a water turnover rate of around 8-10 times the volume of the tank per hour if practical, and a temperature around 22-25 degrees C.>
I need help.. Some times it takes food into the mouth but spits out after some time. I usually offer him meat, goldfish, shrimps.
<Do not use live feeder fish. These are very bad for Red Tail Cats, especially minnows and goldfish that contain both thiaminase and much too much fat. Live feeder fish also introduce parasites, so simply aren't safe. Shrimp is fine, but used sparingly because it contains thiaminase. Never, ever use mammal or bird meat. They'll eat these, of course, but it's bad for them because of the amount of saturated fat in them. Instead focus on white fish fillets, particularly things like Tilapia or Coley/Pollack. Earthworms and cockles are good for smaller specimens. If they're happy, Red Tail Cats will eat almost anything offered, including catfish pellets and carnivore food. Hikari Massivore is an excellent staple. But Red Tail Cats will simply refuse to eat if their environment is wrong.>
But no use. I’m a bit tensed about this.
<I would imagine.>
What shall I do?
<First, tell me about the tank, filter, water quality.>
I’m waiting for the reply.....
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Juvenile EB Acara with sunken belly       4/20/19
Hi crew,
I received a 3 inch juvenile Electric Blue Acara in mail (shipped overnight) two days ago. He was acclimated by being briefly floated in my quarantine tank for temperature acclimation and then netted out and placed into my tank (plop and drop). He showed no signs of stress and was actively investigating the tank within minutes. He accepted a small amount of mysis shrimp that night and has eaten every food I've offered him (cichlid mini pellets, bug bites, frozen mysis shrimp). I've kept the tank lights off until today to keep stress levels down.
I've been feeding very small amounts three times a day. The quarantine tank is a 10 gallon cycled tank
with substrate, some driftwood, java fern, a sponge filter and an Aquaclear 5/20 HOB. I've been testing ammonia and nitrite levels twice daily and they are both 0 ppm. Nitrates are around 5 ppm. Temp is 78°F. PH is 7.6 and gH is 8°.
<The pH is a bit high... I'd be mixing some RO, rain water or such lower pH water to bring it closer to 7>
I noticed today (I turned lights on this morning) when he came out to greet me that his belly is somewhat sunken which has me concerned. I don't treat my fish in quarantine prophylactically as I feel it's an additional stressor if the fish is not actually sick.
<We are in agreement here>
I prefer to wait and see if any symptoms appear. I have friends with African cichlids who aggressively
treat all new fish with antibiotics and antiparasitic meds as a preventative.
<I do too... ofttimes mass-produced fishes are introduced to parasites; some quite persistent, hard to eradicate>
Is the sunken belly due to fasting prior to shipping and his age or could he have parasites even though his appetite is good?
<Can't tell w/o more investigation; sampling, use of a microscope; HOWEVER, I would try lacing foods with both Metronidazole and Prazi/quantel or such (combo. of protozoacide and vermifuge), and increasing the frequency and/or amount of food/s offered>
I've not seen any clear or stringy poo. Should I give him more time or start treatment for parasites as my friends are advocating?
<See above... but, up to you>
The shipper is also the breeder and has an excellent reputation for quality cichlids.
Thanks guys.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Juvenile EB Acara with sunken belly     4/21/19
Thanks Bob!
<Welcome Susan>
I have both Metroplex and General Cure at my house. Also Focus and Entice. I have mixed Metroplex with food before but I have only ever dosed General Cure directly into the tank. Which would you suggest I try?
Can General Cure be mixed with food?
He continues to eat well and I've increased the amount of food fed as you suggested.
<Either just wait... or mix "some" of the General Cure (has the two ingredients wanted) in with foods>
Oh, concerning the pH, yes I agree it's too high! The quarantine tank was set up to be close to the parameters of the breeder's water (pH of 8 and gH of 8°). The 75 gallon tank he is going into has a pH of 6.8 and gH of 7°. I plan to very slowly adjust the parameters of the quarantine tank with small water changes to match the main tank over the course of a month (using water from the 75 gallon). I set up the quarantine tank in this manner with the hope that it would reduce the shock of acclimation.
<Ah, real good.>
Thanks again for your great help!
<Again, you're welcome. BobF>

Juvenile EB Acara with sunken belly /Neale      4/21/19
Hi crew,
<Hello Susan,>
I received a 3 inch juvenile Electric Blue Acara in mail (shipped overnight) two days ago.
<Nice fish, Blue Acaras. In the right tank, at least. But the Electric Blue strains, like other Electric Blue cichlids, are delicate and sensitive. Some specimens even seem a bit 'dim' compared to their wild-type ancestors.>
He was acclimated by being briefly floated in my quarantine tank for temperature acclimation and then netted out and placed into my tank (plop and drop).
<Sounds fine, but I would acclimate any new fish for some half an hour at least, and always turn the lights out afterwards, as you seem to have done.>
He showed no signs of stress and was actively investigating the tank within minutes. He accepted a small amount of mysis shrimp that night and has eaten every food I've offered him (cichlid mini pellets, bug bites, frozen mysis shrimp). I've kept the tank lights off until today to keep stress levels down. I've been feeding very small amounts three times a day. The quarantine tank is a 10 gallon cycled tank with substrate, some driftwood, java fern, a sponge filter and an Aquaclear 5/20 HOB. I've been testing ammonia and nitrite levels twice daily and they are both 0 ppm. Nitrates are around 5 ppm. Temp is 78°F. pH is 7.6 and gH is 8°.
<All well within tolerances for the species.>
I noticed today (I turned lights on this morning) when he came out to greet me that his belly is somewhat sunken which has me concerned. I don't treat my fish in quarantine prophylactically as I feel it's an additional stressor if the fish is not actually sick
<I would generally agree, but these fish are so inbred and weak that at the very least deworming and treating as per Hexamita with Metronidazole would be wise.>
I prefer to wait and see if any symptoms appear. I have friends with African cichlids who aggressively treat all new fish with antibiotics and antiparasitic meds as a preventative.
<This is indeed commonplace in the cichlid hobby. The combination of inbreeding for particular strains, and ubiquitous parasites on fish farms, especially at the low-end of the market, make this well worth doing.>
Is the sunken belly due to fasting prior to shipping and his age or could he have parasites even though his appetite is good?
<Hard to say.>
I've not seen any clear or stringy poo. Should I give him more time or start treatment for parasites as my friends are advocating?
<I would do the latter, and treat.>
The shipper is also the breeder and has an excellent reputation for quality cichlids.
Thanks guys.
<Most welcome. Going to direct you to some reading over at PFK on the problems with Electric Blue cichlids:
There really does seem to be a pattern here, so if you do buy these fish, it's as well to understand the risks. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Juvenile EB Acara with sunken belly        4/22/19

Thanks Neale!
I always appreciate your expert input, you have always been a great help in the past.
<And thank you for these kind words.>
Started feeding Metroplex mixed in with food this morning. His color is good and he accepted the food eagerly.
A friend who keeps Africans treats for 7 days then observes and repeats for another 7 days if no improvement. Is this a good course of action or should I just treat for the recommended full 3 weeks?
<I'd always finish the complete course, as stated by the manufacturer, if only to avoid antibiotic resistance. My opinion is that unless you're a vet or doctor, it's very unlikely you know better than the manufacturer. The main argument for half doses or incomplete courses is to save money, given
that antibiotics and antimicrobials are very unlikely to cause harm to pet fish. Given the risks of antibiotic resistance, I don't believe saving a few quid is really worth it.>
Thank you again and also for the info on EBA.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Black ghost knife may be sick      4/19/19
My black ghost knife has recently transferred into a new tank but has so far been comfortable and seems happy in his new home. He ate a few fish within the first few days of being in the tank but otherwise has had a steady diet.
<Please do not use feeder fish! Indeed, eating any sort of live fish, whether cheap feeders or pet fish massively increases the risk of health problems.>
Recently I checked on him at night when he was active and his skin appears to be a greyish colour with white splotches. It's like that on both sides of his body. Is this normal?
And if not how can I treat it, he is a very important thing in my life and I would do anything to make him better if he is sick. Pleas help
<Grey patches of slime usually indicating some type of irritation to the skin. It's similar to a human getting an inflammation or rash. And like a rash, it's a symptom rather than a specific disease. Environmental stress can cause this, but more often it's some type of infection. Costia (Ichthyobodo) is a common cause, and often called Slime Disease because of this. Various medications exist for this; I like eSHa 2000, but something like ParaGuard would be a good alternative. Seachem recommend starting with one-half or even one-quarter dosages with sensitive fish, and only increasing upwards to the full dose as/when require and if you're comfortable the fish is tolerating the medicine well. I'd support that approach, given the type of fish you're keeping here.
Cheers, Neale.>

Issues With High pH, Suitable for Cardinals?         4/16/19
Dear WetWebMedia,
Thanks for your advice from a couple of weeks ago. I have completed cycling my tank but am currently having some further issues with my tank's pH. I would appreciate your advice.
<Sure thing.>
I won't repeat all the details of my tank/water here but I guess the pertinent info is as follows:
Tap water:
Total Ca/Mg: about 20 dGH
<A bit too high for Cardinals.>
Alkalinity: 216mg/l = 9.9 dKH
<Also too high.>
pH: about 7.3-7.8 after standing/aeration. I have noticed the tap pH has increased in the last couple of days, perhaps the water company is adding something to the water.
<Possibly. Best ask them.>
RO water:
No detectable hardness on my test kit.
pH similar to the tap water.
<Should be around 7; ideally exactly 7 if the RO filter is working properly.>
Tank water:
Total Ca/Mg: about 7 dGH
Alkalinity: 108mg/l = 5 dKH
pH: 7.8-8.0 in the morning and up to 8.2-8.5 in the evening before the lights dim.
<Interesting the pH goes up, but that can happen if there is a lot of photosynthesis going on. Plants remove dissolved carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, and since dissolved CO2 is carbonic acid, removing CO2 causes the pH to rise. Furthermore, some plants, such as Elodea and Vallisneria, can absorb carbonate and bicarbonate ions from the water, and use these as a carbon source for photosynthesis. It's called 'biogenic decalcification' and can cause the pH to drop as well. You know plants are doing this in some cases because crystals of white minerals (a bit like limescale) appear on the leaves.>
The tank is fully cycled but uninhabited. It does however contain a few Cryptocorynes and a bundle of something that I think is Elodea that I have left to float on the surface. These have been in the tank for a week and a half and the Elodea in particular has taken off - some of the roots that have grown from the stems have grown so fast that they have actually reached the substrate and anchored themselves!
<Elodea is a classic "hard water" plant. It often does badly in soft and acidic conditions. So if it thriving, chances are your water is (at least) moderately hard and alkaline.>
I was aware it is a fast grower but it is astounding to see how vigorous it is in reality!
<Indeed! Fast-growing plants can need to be cropped every week if they are doing really well.>
The issue I am having is the elevated pH, despite using 50/50 RO/tap water as you suggested. I had initially set the alkalinity to 9dKH with additional baking soda but when I noticed the high pH I stopped this and have now only used the RO/tap mix for water changes. This has not lowered the pH although as expected the alkalinity is half that of the tap water.
As you may remember, I had planned to keep cardinal tetras (captive bred) so I had the LFS test their system water. They report Ca/Mg at 5 dGH and alkalinity at 5 dGH, but their pH is 6.9-7.2 despite their using a 50/50 RO/tap mix as well. Our tap water is unlikely to be much different as the distance separating us is less than 5mi so I am unsure why there should be such a large difference.
<See above re: photosynthesis. The use of a pH-controlled, automated carbon dioxide fertilisation system can help here. But that's expensive and fiddly to use.>
I can only think it is because either the LFS system contains a large amount of organic acids due to their bioload (they don't use peat); there is something in my water produced by the plants/algae/bogwood that is alkaline in nature; or my plants deplete the CO2 in my tank water faster than it replenishes at night (or all three).
<Ah; would bet on the third explanation.>
In any case, I am not sure what to do now.
<Well, one approach would be avoid using plants that grow too rapidly, particularly those capable of remove carbonate and bicarbonate from the system. So reduce the amount of Elodea, and Vallisneria if you use them. Of course removing plants means algae can take over, so I'd suggest at least some floating plants that use CO2 from the air but minerals from the water.
These suppress algae quite effectively. Failing that, plants that are less adapted to high hardness conditions, such as Hygrophila, might work better.>
I am not keen to forcibly adjust the pH with acid or buffer and I also want to avoid a CO2 system because it is a lot of work and I don't think I am ready for that.
I guess peat filtration might be an option but I am also reluctant to do this as I understand this is hard to control, will deplete the alkalinity, and the water staining may impact my plant growth. Do you have any other suggestions for lowering the pH, or should I just leave it alone and focus on keeping the alkalinity stable?
<As the tank stands now, pH is cycling in quite a normal way, up and down through the day/night cycle. Alkaline condition fishes would handle this fine. Your Cardinals mightn't be so happy though.>
If I am unable to lower the pH significantly, should I abandon my plan to keep Cardinals?
<If you don't change the tank, perhaps you should try something better suited to alkaline conditions.>
I haven't been able to find much on whether they can be kept in water with this particular chemistry (low/medium hardness and alkalinity but high pH) and I don't want to force my fish to live in conditions that will make them unhappy or stressed. If you have any other suggestions for similar shoaling fish that would be happier in these tank conditions then I would also be grateful for those.
<It's actually not the pH that matters, but the hardness. Fish don't really care about the pH anything like as much as people think. Provided the hardness was low to medium, farmed Cardinals could adapt, regardless of the slightly basic pH. I just can't be 100% sure.>
Many thanks for your time and advice.
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
<<A brief/kibitzing note to look for cultured (orient) specimens rather than wild-caught (Amazon) Cardinals here; as they may well be more hard-water tolerant. BobF>>
Re: Issues With High pH, Suitable for Cardinals?      4/17/19

That has not entirely been my experience, Bob. What they gain in adaptability, they seem to lose in exposure to Pleistophora. My avowed preference is for wild-caught Cardinals, isolated from Neons at all points, and maintained in soft to moderately soft, more or less acidic to neutral water chemistry.
<I see; and only have much experience w/ ones produced in Singapore; always disassociated w/ Neons>
If medium hardness (or more so) water is inescapable, there are much better options: Pristella maxillaris, False Penguin Tetras, and Emperor Tetras.
All these handle medium to hard water well. Do also rate the old-timey Cherry Barb as an excellent Southeast Asian alternative.
Cheers, Neale
<Thank you (as always) for sharing. BobF>

Diamond Tetra swimming erratically      4/14/19
Dear WWM,
Hope you are doing fine. Thank you for maintaining this excellent site, a great help to us hobbyists.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Question: One of my 6 Diamond Tetras have started swimming erratically since yesterday. They are established fish, in the tank for almost 2 years.
There is no bloating, no injury marks, no loss of sparkle, no excess mucus and all the fins are intact. It just kind of topples over or at times fall sideways, try to regain posture and the cycle repeats.
<Understood. This does happen, and usually indicates environmental distress if sudden. There's no real treatment, beyond ensuring stable, ideally optimal conditions. Filtering the water with carbon should help, and if the carbon is older than a couple weeks, then change it. Carbon should remove things like insecticide sprays that can be used in the home but unfortunately are highly toxic to fish. Otherwise, this sort of erratic swimming can indicate Whirling Disease (Myxobolus cerebralis) but this is extremely rare in aquaria because of its complex life cycle. Of course erratic swimming can be a symptom of things like White Spot, Velvet, Dropsy, and Finrot, but it should be obvious if this is the situation here.>
Tank is heavily planted 29 gallon, in its 8th year. No Ammonia or Nitrite, Nitrate 25. Filtered by three 500l/hr HOB filters filled with sponge, bio balls and ceramic media. Also a small bag each of Seachem Purigen and Carbon. Another pump works a chiller. pH 7.6, TDS 300ish. Tank mates include other tetras, Pencilfishes, Corydoras, BNP, Ram cichlids, all other fishes looking absolutely fine.
Points worth mentioning: I had a sudden surprise attack of Ich after years, 2 weeks after I introduced some Cardinal Tetras which themselves had no visible spots and were claimed to be quarantined by a reputed seller I have dealt with in the past. The spots affected only some Green Neons. I went the high temp way and allowed the tank to reach 31 C over the last 5 days.
The spots are almost gone now. No fish is showing any signs of Oxygen hunger, no gasping at the surface, there is good circulation and surface agitation. I usually maintain the tank at 25.5-27.5 degrees C with a chiller (this is an Indian summer).
I fed freeze dried Tubifex worms yesterday, which I do rarely. Else their diet is from various flakes and pellets from Tetra,, Ocean Nutrition and Hikari.
I added the regular weekly dose of Seachem Flourish comprehensive and Flourish Iron yesterday, a practice I have followed for years. I also add 5 ml of a DIY macro mix every other day as per the recipe from James's Planted Tank.
No use of paint fumes, aerosols, pesticides, etc. near tank. I have made a 40% water change today but no improvement in conditions.
I replenished my dried Almond leaves 5 days ago, these are self collected.
Is this whirling disease?
<As stated above, extremely unlikely. The parasite needs other animals such birds in the environment for the life cycle to complete, which really isn't likely indoors!>
Or some kind other neurological issue?
<Certainly a possibility, if some toxin was present in the environment.>
Maybe the heat stress?
<Can be, though usually when tropical fish are exposed to cold. When too warm, you normally see gasping behaviour rather than loss of motor control.>
Do I euthanize in case it is contagious?
<Almost certainly not contagious.>
Thanks in advance and keep well.
Devakalpa, India
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Diamond Tetra swimming erratically      4/14/19

Dear Neale,
Thank you for the detailed reply.
<Most welcome.>
Unfortunately the affected fish passed away last night.
<No surprise, really. But always hopeful!>
I isolated it after mailing to you. Rest are fine as of now.
<And to you, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf snakehead query      4/14/19
Hi Neale!
Hope you are well,
<All good.>
On my travels the other day I found an amazing group of dwarf snakeheads (Chana brakanhensis or something- photo included below for ID purposes).
<Looks like Channa lucius to me, but I'm no expert.>
It was a group of 6 and I think this would make an amazing breeding project.
<Indeed they would.>
Currently the only tank I have with room that would accommodate this group has a 10 inch silver Arowana and a 9 inch Xingu bass.
<Yeah, no. Not going to work.>
I am very attached to those 2 fish and don’t want them to move on.
Will I be able to add the snakeheads to this tank? They are fully grown between 6 and 8 inches.
<Too risky, in my opinion. Even if not successfully consumed, 'curiosity' attacks could still damage your new, and at this point nervous, snakeheads. On top of that, you're dealing with fish from rather different environments. Cooler water, slower current, and ample vegetation, especially floating plants, are what you need for Snakeheads. Arowanas need swimming space, swimming space, and yet more swimming space, while Cichla species are all about robust currents, heavy filtration, and of course swimming space.>
If this is a no-no, on a side point, is there anything else you can recommend for this tank?
<Alongside the Arowana and Cichla? I'd be thinking something like a catfish, Sorubim lima being my favourite among the Pimelodidae, but if you have the space, the Giraffe Catfish is hard to be beat in terms of sheer friendly personality (and goofiness). If your pockets are deep, there's any number of large L-numbers that would be suitable, Acanthicus adonis being rather a good choice being one of the carnivorous species, so a good cleaner-upper when kept with predatory fish. I've a soft spot for Panaque nigrolineatus though, as one of the most attractive, while easily obtained, L-number. It's also extremely hardy once settled.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf snakehead query      4/14/19

Could I keep a florida gar with the Aro and bass?
<Gar have been kept with these species, yes. Gar are extremely gentle fish, despite their size. It's more how the other two species behave towards it, especially given how Gar damage themselves when alarmed. They're also a bit fiddly at feeding time. My specimen thrived on Hikari Cichlid Gold of all
things, but I did use large forceps to feed it bits of fish periodically.
While they will pick food off the substrate, they're really clumsy swimmers. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Fahaka puffer (RMF, any other thoughts?)<<Other than sadness, no>>      4/14/19
Hi guys,
<Hello Nikola,>
My Fahaka puffer is sick. He is 4 years old. Attached few images of disease. It all started like aquarium ich and it killed 6 loaches (fast breathing for a few days then died). They looked like skin is peeling off
and excess mucus. Fahaka puffer got something else. It is looking like a bit rough skin then just turns into white patch. He is not eating and fins are clamped. What I saw is that excess mucus is made on him and today he was near surface but not gasping for air just standing there (doesn't look he is struggling to be there). After 2h he is down laying as before.
I have treated my tank with sera Omnipur and higher temperature (if it is ich on other fishes)
<I do agree that treating as per Finrot, Velvet, and especially Ichthyobodo/Costia would be a good approach here. This certainly looks like some sort of bacterial infection, but the initial cause may well have been a protozoan parasite of some sort. Costia is particularly sneaky, and causes what is sometimes called Slime Disease. It's hard to treat, but I have found eSHa EXIT alongside eSHa 2000 works well on pufferfish.>
and now started treatment with API general cure (metro and Prazi) because I think it may be flukes.
<I'm not sure about that.>
Water is ammo 0, nitrite 0 and nitrate < 10. Tank has continual water replacement (slow drip system) with a lot of bio filtration. I suspect on a new fish being added 2 weeks ago.
Any help is really appreciated. We don't have veterinarian for fish in Serbia and this fish is really dear to me. If you need more info just push one email and I will answer asap.
<I would treat as per Ichthyobodoosis/Costiasis; this disease is common, can kill fish quickly, and sometimes requires several courses of medication to completely eliminate. Costia comes in several strains. If you're lucky, you have a freshwater strain easily managed by exposing salt-tolerant fish
(such as freshwater puffers) to brackish water for extended periods.
Maintenance at a specific gravity of SG 1.005 will not stress freshwater puffers at all, but if done for a few weeks, should eliminate freshwater ostia. The salt-tolerant (sometimes called "Asian strain") is more
difficult to shift, and almost certainly requires medications as described above.>
All best,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Sick Fahaka puffer (RMF, any other thoughts?)      4/14/19

Thanks a lot for your reply. I will try to see what can be done further more.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Fahaka puffer        4/18/19
Just to pass more info. I manage to help him. Flukes were responsible for the sickness.
<Thanks for the update. Glad he's recovering! Neale.>

Central America Wood Turtle      4/14/19
I have a central American wood turtle , she about 7 or 8 years old, vie had her for about 3 years. There are a couple thing that I am wondering about, first is she been having watery eyes and yawning and she sneezes, but only if she is in a dry area and she decides to sniff the ground....but recently he has this clicking [sound happening every time she yawns it
happens when is about to close
<Hello! Going to send you to some reading first:
Your turtle almost certainly has a respiratory tract infection (RTI) given the absolutely classic symptoms. A trip to the vet will be needed. This isn't something you can treat yourself (unless you're a vet, of course!). Antibiotics, likely a vitamin injection, and good healthcare thereafter will all be necessary. As a reminder, RTIs are easier to prevent than cure, so be sure you read up on the healthcare requirements for this turtle, compare against what you're doing now, and make such changes as necessary. Regards, Neale.>

Sick snail?         4/10/19
Hi there, this may have been addressed but I couldn’t find it. My son got a snail back in January and it’s been doing pretty awesome so far (I think?), zooming around, eating the pellets they told me to get when we bought it, even had babies. I’m not sure what kind of snail it is, we originally went in for a Pleco to go with his tetras but they “couldn’t find them” (should’ve taken that as a bad sign) and told my son he wanted a snail so we ended up with an unknown snail. They assured me it would be fine with the tetras so we took Pointy home.
This morning when we went to feed everyone I noticed some strange red stringy substance coming off of Pointy, it’s kind of coming out of the shell and Pointy has barely moved. I’m scared it may be a parasite but I’m not sure where it would’ve come from?
<It looks more like faecal particles within the mucous. Most likely from the snail itself. Given their reddish colour, if you've been using a red-coloured fish food (especially a colour enhancing food) then I'd be convinced these are faecal particles.>
I keep their tank (10 gallons) clean and try not to overfeed so there isn’t a ton of grossness. Should I be concerned that the fish could catch this?
<No. While snails can be intermediate hosts for various parasites, these parasites rarely, if ever, manage to complete their life cycle within an aquarium. Indeed, I'm not aware of any that infect fish directly from the snail, though I dare say there are some.>
The babies all seem fine, but I am completely out of my depth with snails.
<Understood. With snails generally, there's no real "healthcare" in terms of treatments, but what we have notices is that given good living conditions they are astonishingly hardy and tend not to get sick.>
Sorry about the water spots on the outside of the tank, I splashed more than I thought when I did their water change yesterday.
Thanks in advance, Samantha.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

UK aquatics shop - last minute tour route advice needed.     4/8/19
Hi Neale,
<Hello Nathaniel,>
Sorry to both you again (I feel I have driven you mad the last week!)!!
<Not at all.>
Some last minute advice...
I have managed to get a last minute day off work on weds. There is some rare fish at a shop in London I have been after for a while and so going to drive down especially for them. I have decided to make it an 'aquatic shop
tour' day out. My planned route (subject to traffic) is as follows:
1. Wharf Aquatics (get there for as it opens at 9)
<Famously good store, much loved by PFK and a lot of the expert fishkeepers out there.>
2. Wildwoods
<Another classic. While the fish room isn't as shiny modern as your average Maidenhead Aquatics, the stuff in stock is, on most days, like walking into a fish encyclopaedia. Probably my favourite store, and fish manager Keith
Lambert is an excellent person to chat to with a wealth of contacts among collectors and exporters.>
3. World of Water Crawley
<I find World of Water a bit hit-and-miss, being more pond- than aquarium-oriented, but I don't know this particular branch at all.>
4. Maidenhead aquatics Farnham
<Have been to this one a couple times, and got some nice fish there.>
5. Crowder's aquatics (I know it happens to be 5 min.s from Farnham)
<Don't know this store at all.>
Then driving back up to Manchester.
<Quite a trip!>
Is there any other particularly good shops near any of these or on the route you can recommend?
<Since you're driving, you might see if you can bag Maidenhead Aquatics in St Albans. Supposedly the biggest branch in the chain, it's quite a good one if you're into smaller oddballs like killifish and Rainbowfish. Not cheap though, even by MA standards. There's also an MA branch a couple minutes up the road from Wildwoods you might as well visit while you're there. Some other day/trip, you might think about the East of England:
there are two MA branches in Peterborough (one in the city, the other in Crowland; it's this second branch that is absolutely essential visiting if you're into rare fish especially loaches. The WaterZoo in Peterborough is another brilliant shop. In fact, if you wanted a shorter day, I'd have no qualms about substituting those shops for the London trip. Cheers, Neale.>

Corydoras has tumors     4/8/19
To Whom it May Concern:
I have a Corydoras that looks like it has multiple tumors. There are more around its topside and one on a fin. Some of the Cory's fins are split, but there are no fungus-like films growing and it is eating and swimming normally. All my other fish seem fine, even my ghost shrimp.
I have been trying to take a picture but the Cory is camera shy. :-/
What is going on?
<Very difficult to say. Benign tumours crop up in fish for a variety of reasons, including exposure to toxic chemicals (particularly in the substrate) and certain viruses (notoriously, Lymphocystis). Benign tumours are impossible to treat, but the viral ones in particular sometimes clear up by themselves, though this can take months/years. Provided such tumours aren't obstructing important tissues or organs, they aren't life-threatening. Malign tumours do occur in fish, for a varied reasons as they do in humans, and again, aren't really treatable. A few diseases might be mistaken for tumours, such as Fish or Carp Pox, Gas Bubble Disease (usually caused by over-saturating the water with oxygen), and Dropsy. So it's worth researching these and comparing them with your fish.>
What do I do?
<The short answer is a to judge quality of life while providing the best possible living conditions. If the fish is not distressed, tumours are unlikely to spread, so such fish can be left alone in the fish tank. A varied (vitamin-rich!) diet, clean substrate, and good water quality can help promote recovery. If the fish is distressed, then euthanising the fish may be the best thing to do. Removal of tumours isn't really practical for small fish, thought it can be done by vets under some circumstances, and may be an option with large and valuable fish, such as Koi.>
Thanks for all your help!
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Corydoras has tumors     4/8/19

Thanks for your help! I got a picture, finally. I don’t know if this changes anything about your prognosis. Sorry, the picture is a bit out of focus.
<Indeed; not entirely sure what I'm meant to see. Do you mean the swelling between the eye and the dorsal fin? Where the black and white spotted skin seems to bulge outwards? Definitely that looks like a subdermal tumour of some sort. Could be benign, could be malign, but impossible to say. Unlikely to be contagious though, so no real problem leaving this catfish in with the others.>
Have a great Sunday!
<Alas, 'tis Monday already.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Severums breeding without eggs?      4/7/19
Hi Wet Web Media,
<Hello Eva,>
I have a 125 gallon tank and have kept Severums for years. I have seen Severums spawn in my tank, so I know what to expect. However, I've never seen a female try to spawn and act like she's laying eggs, but actually lay
no eggs. I've scoured google and can't find an answer.
<This is quite common with South American cichlids. For a start, sexing them is often very difficult. Famously, Angelfish sometimes get it wrong, to the extent pairs of females will lay eggs, each expecting the other to
fertilise them! Severums are not much easier to sex than Angels, so it's surprisingly easy to end up with two fish of the same sex.>
She went back and forth like she was laying eggs in row after row and the male came in behind her and acted like he was fertilizing the "eggs." But nothing was there! The female wants to stay paired, but the male no longer
has interest in her after the failed attempt at spawning and has started courting the other female in the tank. Have you seen this happen before?
<Yes, though with Angels rather than Severums. Sometimes the female is immature, sometimes the eggs were simply eaten before you saw them, sometimes the female is actually a male, and sometimes the female is simply
infertile and incapable of laying. Of course the male could be the problem here, not doing whatever he should be doing to elicit spawning behaviour from the female.>
Some info on the pair: This is the first time either have ever attempted to spawn in their lifetimes - i.e. got them when they were small - they're new at this. They're about 4.5 inches (not including tail fins). Both are red spotted Severums.
Do you think it's a size/maturity issue? Or maybe she's infertile?
<Could really be either. While 4.5 inches is a decent size, Severums are big fish, and giving her another few months to grow on could help. As ever, a good start is to 'condition' the female with plenty of live/frozen foods, and since these are omnivorous fish, some fresh greens would be helpful too. Isolating the female (using egg crate, for example, so they can still see each other) can be useful if it allows the female to put on weight without the male harassing her. Next up, optimise water chemistry. That's an important aspect for egg layers. Severums aren't too fussy, but water towards the softer end of the range is needed for breeding.>
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Severums breeding without eggs?      4/14/19

Hi Neale,
Thanks for answering my question - and so quickly!
<Most welcome.>
From your answer, it sounds like it could be for many reasons, so I'll continue to monitor. Who knows, maybe a few more months is all they need - or maybe she's secretly a male.
<This can/does happen with some cichlids. If kept with a dominant male, the weaker males fail (or at least delay) exhibiting secondary sexual characteristics such as the brighter colours or pointed fins we usually see on male cichlids. In certain cases this is a deliberate ploy, allowing the weaker males to stay within the dominant male's territory, thereby facilitating 'sneaker' male behaviour where the subdominant male tries to mate with a resident female.>
She's definitely an odd fish - I got her and she was completely gold without spots. Now she has almost as many spots as the red-spotted male!
<Most curious.>
It would be great to see them successfully spawn - so thanks for all the advice. Ironically, she's the one harassing the male. All things considered, I'm not too concerned as long everyone's getting along.
<Agreed. Really, the best way to sex cichlids is to observe their spawning tubes. Males generally have longer, narrower, more pointed tubes that are easily visible, sometimes all the time, but certainly for many days before spawning. Females have shorter, blunter spawning tubes that are barely visible except within a few hours of spawning.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Constipated Betta       4/5/19
Hi Crew!
<Hello again!>
I’m having a problem with Chester again. The problem he had with his open Gil in February has been resolved and has been doing great until the last few weeks.
<Good to know.>
Chester became constipated because I over fed him. I fed him a variety of foods i.e.. Shrimp, bloodworms, pellets one time a day, but now I know I fed too much at a time.
I keep him in a 5 gallon, heated, filtered, lightly planted, bare bottom tank so I can see when he’s pooped.
The tank has been set up since 1/24/19. Since 3/15 he has been having the constipation problems. On 3/17 I added Epsom salt to his tank, which I left in the tank until I did A water change on 3/20. Since then I had fasted him a couple days and he’s pooped a few times. Over the last week I started feeding shrimp or pellets one day and frozen Daphnia the next. When ever I fed the Daphnia he would poop the next day, but would not poop on the other foods.
<Daphnia are a 'high fibre' food of sorts because of their tiny shells. Definitely worth offering on a regular basis to any small fish. Brine shrimp work well, too.>
Now he last pooped on this past Saturday 3/30 and I last fed him Daphnia On Sunday 3/31. So here we are. Now he’s not even pooping after the Daphnia and he hasn’t eaten for three days.
I’m not sure what I should do next. Seems like fasting alone never makes him poop. Don’t know if I should add more Epsom salt. If so how much and how long.
<1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres; use indefinitely. Remember when doing water changes to replace the Epsom Salt on a per bucket basis!>
If I should fast him longer.
<A few days is fine, but once using Epsom salt, things should get moving quickly.>
I have Anubias in his tank too. Also I want to transfer him to a 10 gallon, as in my opinion the water chemistry is not that stable in a 5 gallon.
I’ve lost the cycle a couple times. I’ve always kept Bettas in 10 gallon. Should I wait?
<Can't think why.>
I don’t want to stress him even more. I just added the plants to the tank 3/15 cause his fins had torn on the plastic plants. But all healed quickly though. So he’s gone through changes.
<Bettas are pretty adaptable fish. I'd change the tank, but put all the old tank's water in it, and then add new water, so any water chemistry changes are minimal.>
He’s swimming around fine and always exploring and begging for food. He never had swim bladder problems. He is just a little bloated in front of his ventrals.
I appreciate your help.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Newt troubles     4/3/19
I have a eastern red spotted newt.. had him for months and he was thriving.. checked him today and his tail looks like its rotten or burnt not sure, i cant find anything on it and im freaking out please help!
<Newts are generally pretty tough, but they can be subject to bacterial infections similar to Red Leg as seen in frogs. Assuming this is Notophthalmus viridescens, one problem you have is that there are aquatic tadpoles, terrestrial (bright red) "Efts", and then once more aquatic sexually mature (and duller brown) adults. If yours are in their aquatic stage, then treatment will be quite simple, as per Xenopus or some other aquatic amphibian, as described here:
Treat as per Red Leg and you're probably doing the best you can. The terrestrial "Efts" are going to be trickier to medicate because they're not bathed in the antibiotic, so you'd have to feed it to them. I'd recommend a vet if that's the situation here. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Terror cichlid/red tiger Motaguense cichlid Hybrid aka the (RED PHEONIX KING CICHLID ��)    4/2/19
Im on here to tell you there will be 2 new EMPOROR cichlid aggression debates 1 my Hybrid (RED PHEONIX KING CICHLID��) aggression vs. the pure Texas cichlid aggression. Who do you think is more aggressive over territory.
<Mmm; could be either one depending on sex, size, who was there first, their relative health. Best to separate initially with a partition, grant sufficient room for all. Bob Fenner>
I like Hybrid cichlids.    4/2/19

Do you like Hybrid cichlids
<Personally, I do not. If it were up to me I'd ensure they were always labeled as such and avoided by advising people that they're what they are.
Bob Fenner>
Do you like Hybrid cichlids    4/2/19

I just want to know do you like Hybrid cichlids.
<? As stated; I do not. BobF>
That terrible. Hybrid cichlids     4/3/19

That's terrible. Oh well I think my Hybrid cichlids are the GREATEST.
<I have no idea what this is a response to! Glad you're enjoying your fish.
Cheers, Neale.>
1 more thing

Even If a Texas, Midas , red devil cichlid was healthy my hybrid would still win against them.
<Indeed? This is apropos to what? Neale.>
To the greatest Hybrid cichlid of all time

This is propos to the greatest Hybrid cichlid of all time my (RED PHOENIX KING CICHLID ��) which over territory can THRASH a Texas cichlid, red devil, and Midas.
<Oh. I see. Each to their own, I guess. Neale.>
To you saying you don't like hybrids

It was a response to you saying you stated you don't like Hybrid cichlids.
<I do prefer the wild-type species, yes, and don't approve of hybridisation that causes a poorer quality of life for the resulting fish, as with Jellybean and Parrot cichlids. Beyond that though, don't have strong
feelings. Many tropical fish are hybrids (farmed Angels, for example). I do get cross when hybrids are passed off as a real species, as often happens with mixed parentage Malawian cichlids, and sometimes with Central American cichlids as well. Cheers, Neale.>

There's a guy there named Bob Fenner he said he also doesn't like hybrids.
<I'd imagine that BobF, like me, prefers the cichlids as nature produced them; it's their evolution, their adaptations, and the way they work in their natural habitat that makes them interesting. Deliberately producing hybrids with shorter lifespans, greater likelihoods of disease, and worse swimming abilities, doesn't seem to me, at least, very fair. It's the "wrong" sort of fishkeeping, to me anyway.>
Which sites support hybrid cichlids     4/3/19

<Do use Google; do search for Flowerhorn cichlids and Blood Parrot cichlids; have no personal knowledge or preferences to share. Cheers, Neale.>

Some FW Setup and Water Chemistry Questions; Cardinals, Plants    4/2/19
Dear WetWebMedia,
<Hey Wes>
It's been some years since I last sent you an email about my reef tank on 23/04/15, (Bob replied). Unfortunately the tank proved too difficult for me to maintain consistently because of its smallish size (I wish I had the space to upgrade but unfortunately my house is too small) so I ended up breaking it down and switching back to freshwater.
I am hoping one of you may be able to advise me on a few things relating to water chemistry and my plan for what I intend to be a planted tank with Cardinal tetras - I have done a fair amount of reading, but there are a lot of different opinions out there and I am kind of still in marine mode so I must admit I am a bit unsure if I am doing things right (or maybe over-complicating things).
So first, tank details:
It is 82cm long, 56cm wide and 45cm deep, which is nominally 207L but accounting for the glass, sand, driftwood and not filling to the top, the amount of water in it is probably more like 160-170L.
I have 2 Eheim Biopower 240s in it as well as a Vortech MP40 running at low speed - I think the nominal filter turnover is conservatively 560L/h and the Vortech adding another 500-1000L/h.
Substrate is inert sand, I intend to fertilise with root tablets/clay balls and liquid fertiliser if necessary.
<Good plan fert. wise>
Lighting 2x Fluval Plant 3.0 32w.
<May need more than this... or utilize low-light plants>
I am not intending to run CO2 at the moment but I may start to do so once I have the tank settled.
It is currently cycling so it is uninhabited. My plan for the tank is to have Cardinal tetras only (as a species tank) and at least a decent amount of plant life (I am not going to choose plants until I have the water chemistry sorted).
<Okay; and likely captive produced specimens (vs. wild-collected)?>
And my questions:
1) I have tested my tap water and it contains the following:
TDS: 495mg/l on my meter
Ca: 125mg/l = 17.5 dGH
Mg: 10mg/l = 2.24 dGH
K: 10mg/l
HCO3: 216mg/l = 9.9 dKH
NO3: 10mg/l
PO4: around 10mg/l
Fe: not measurable
pH: around 7.3-7.6 on my meter.
<Mmm; a bit too hard and alkaline for (esp. wild) Cardinals>
Would I be right in thinking this water is far too polluted with phosphate for me to use for water changes, even diluted with RO?
<Mmm; should be fine. I'd try it and see... i.e. test the system water itself over time (months) for soluble phosphate>
2) Assuming the tap water isn't suitable, I was intending to use RO water hardened up using individual salts, i.e. sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate, calcium chloride and potassium chloride in the appropriate ratio to make it up to the correct hardness.
<... for; the plants? Again, this source water itself is sufficiently hard, alkaline for a host of regularly used/available aquatic plants. Diluting it with some RO water for your Cardinals is the route I would go. Likely mixing about half/half every week for water changes>
It seems to me this is no different to what I used to do with my reef tank and I have seen postings on forums describing methods that sound like this, but could I check whether you agree it is reasonable?
<The process, yes>
3) I understand I have to balance the Cardinals' preference for softer water with providing enough minerals for the plants and general buffering.
Based on my reading I have tentatively decided on the following composition for my RO water (assuming that you answered yes for 2) above):
Ca: 40mg/l = 5.6 dGH
Mg: 10.3mg/l = 2.4 dGH
K: 5mg/l
HCO3: 217mg/l = 10dKH
This makes the total general hardness (Ca and Mg): 50mg/l = 8 dGH and the Ca:Mg:K mass ratio 4 : 1 : 0.5.
Theoretically using the individual salts I mentioned above this would make the TDS about 460mg/l, of which about 181mg/l would be Na and Cl ions.
Is this a reasonable compromise, i.e. soft enough in terms of GH for the Cardinals but with enough carbonate for a decent buffer?
<Should be; yes. Again, to hammer the point, there are wild/Brazilian and captive-produced (orient) Cardinals. Your dealer should be able to find out which they're dealing with. I'd use the captive produced for this system, water>
What about the absolute levels of Mg and K - do you think these will be high enough for the plants or should I increase these or otherwise alter the ratio?
<These two are fine>
4) I have read that having too much NaCl is not ideal in most FW tanks but I can't find much about what is considered a "safe" level. 181mg/l sounds quite high though particularly for soft water (our water company estimates our tap water has 120mg/l), any thoughts about this?
<I would not be adding any more sodium chloride here purposely>

I have considered substituting in some NaCl-free marine salt into my recipe to reduce the NaCl burden but I don't know if this would result in adding too much of the trace elements - what do you think?
<Best to avoid either more sodium or chloride unless you're diluting via RO here>
5) Assuming I manage to get the water chemistry right and things stable, how many Cardinals do you think could live in this tank comfortably?
<40, 50...>
6) Is the flow rate too high? It's enough to cause a bit of turbulence in places but not enough to lift or move the sand.
<Set the discharges from the Eheims and recirculating pump to generate a gyre from the top/surface to the opposite end of the system; the water/flow will be driven down from the opposite end.>
Thanks for your time and advice,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Some FW Setup and Water Chemistry Questions     4/3/19

<<Just to add some comments to BobF's reply, Wes. 181 mg salt in one litre of water is literally one two-hundredth of the amount in seawater! It isn't going to have effect whatsoever on freshwater fish. Remember, seawater is 35 grams/litre, or 35,000 mg per litre. By comparison 181 mg seems pretty
trivial, no? Still, not sure why you'd want to add salt, or for that matter marine salt mix. Much easier to use a commercial Discus Buffer salt mix, add that to your RO water, and off you go! Or else, mix some RO water with your hard, alkaline tap water. A 50/50 mix is often fine for general community fish, but you could go three-parts RO to one-part tap, and see what you get. Use your test kit to determine carbonate hardness (the important bit for pH stability) and the pH as well (though likely this will
only be slightly below whatever the pH of the raw tap water was).
Wild-caught Cardinals would probably do best in RO water with Discus Buffer added; farmed Cardinals less fussy, as BobF says, but don't do well above, say, 10-12 degrees dH, pH 7.5. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Some FW Setup and Water Chemistry Questions     4/8/19

Dear Bob, Neale
Many thanks to the both of you for your helpful advice - there's so much to read and learn out there, you've really helped me put some of it together.
<Glad to help.>
However, I think I must have been unclear in my original email with regards to "salt": I didn't mean that I intend to add sodium chloride (NaCl) directly to the water, rather that in using calcium chloride (CaCl2) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) to raise calcium and alkalinity, the side effect of this is to introduce both sodium ions and chloride ions into the water. That said, I think commercial mixes are made by combining similar salts together, so they probably all add Na+ and Cl- to some degree depending on exactly what is inside them.
<Indeed; and at the amounts used, hardly likely to create 'brackish' conditions.>
Just for clarity's sake, if I were to go ahead with my original plan and use full RO water and harden it using individual salts according to that recipe, then into the RO I would theoretically dissolve:
111mg/l CaCl2 which will provide 40mg/l of Ca2+ and *71mg/l of Cl-*
299mg/l NaHCO3 which will provide 217mg/l of HCO3- (i.e. 10dKH) and *82mg of Na+*
51mg/l MgSO4 which will provide 10mg/l of Mg2+ and 41mg/l of [SO4]2-
9.4mg/l KCl which will provide 5mg/l of K+ and *4.4mg/l of Cl-*
I made a calculation error and this ends up at about 157mg/l of Na+ and Cl-
ions, not 181mg/l - should have double-checked my calculations - oops.
However it's probably well within the bounds of measurement and dosing error!
I was originally unsure because a good proportion of the dissolved ions in this recipe are Na+ and Cl-. I know that we don't consider these when thinking about water hardness but they are in the water and I was concerned
that they would also make a significant contribution to osmotic/renal stress. I assume such stress is broadly why cardinals don't like harder water although I know very little about this in fish (my knowledge of physiology is mostly confined to humans!).
<Agreed; while there are some ideas as to why fish like Neons and Cardinals do badly in hard water, much of it is drawn from anecdotes and intelligent guesswork. Scientists tend to work with either 'model' species (such as
Zebrafish) or else economically valuable species (like Salmon). For these we have ample data on what they can and can't tolerate in terms of water quality and chemistry. With ornamental fishes, there are literally thousands of species in the trade, and such data as exists tends to be the experiences of aquarists. Controlling of variables is essentially non-existent, so while there's a huge volume of data about what many species like or dislike, much of it simply absent from the scientist literature, it's not what you'd call solid, experimental data.>
In any case, I'll try out your suggestion of diluting tap with RO water. My LFS has informed me their cardinals are captive bred and come from the Czech Republic, and the tanks they are kept in are 50/50 RO/tap water mixes
so it would make sense for me to do the same at least to begin with.
<Absolutely. If fish will breed in something, it's unlikely to be 'wrong' for long-term maintenance. While you certainly could acclimatise them to softer, more acidic conditions, I'd balance that against the extra costs.
Biological filtration works less well as pH declines (apparently!) while the cost of doing water changes goes up (which puts people off doing them more frequently). On the other hand, ambient bacterial counts seem to be
lower in acidic water, at least so far as the pathogenic species go, and there's (again, largely anecdotal) evidence that many blackwater species are long-lived in very soft, very acidic water conditions but notoriously disease-prone and short-lived in neutral, let alone hard water. Licorice Gouramis are the famous example of these, but the basic pattern holds for a great many 'blackwater' species.>
I will still add some sodium bicarbonate as my 50/50 mixes have 4-5 dKH after being left to stand, although as Neale was expecting, the pH isn't much different from standing tap water.
<Indeed. Often a surprise, but without something to actually acidify the water, simply halving the tap water carbonate content doesn't much change the pH of the water. It will, of course, be less stable, which can mean pH
declines more rapidly between water changes.>
<Cheers, Neale.>


Red eared slider turtle      4/1/19
I have 5 baby red eared slider turtles they were good but one of my turtle stop eating and it is not moving much.
<It's not a good sign when turtles stop eating and moving. Usually means they're too cold (need a heat lamp for basking); but can mean they're sick (don't forget a UV-B source). Let's have you do some reading, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/rescarebarton.htm
Five Red Ear Sliders will need A LOT of space when mature, so be sure you understand their needs. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red eared slider turtle      4/1/19
But i can't understand what is going on with only one All the four are good they eat & play
<So far.>
But only one is not looking good
Plzzz help me.....��
<You have not sent me any information. Tell me about their home. For example:
(1) What source of heat do they have?
(2) What sort of UV-B lamp are you using?
(3) What do you feed them?
(4) How big is their tank?
(5) Can they bask under the heat lamp easily? Same for the UV-B lamp?
READ where you were sent, and see what you ARE NOT doing right -- that is likely the answer. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red eared slider turtle     4/3/19

I have a water heater bulb
<Not sure what you mean here. A heat lamp over a rock is traditional. The water can be room temperature. The turtle will warm up on the land, and cool down in the water.>
I don't use any uv-b lamp i provide direct sun light at least 4 hr per day
<So no glass between the sun and the turtle? That should be fine.>
My tank is 30 gallon
I have also 7 fish in it
<Not a good idea in a tank this small.>
I feed them aquatic turtles food sticks
<Should be fine.>
And i notice today it has discharge from mouth. Is my turtle dyeing?
<Hard to say because you haven't offered enough details. DO some reading, in particular the sections on eye and respiratory tract infections; here:

Curing Collected Wood      4/1/19
Hello, Robert:
This Ritesh from Long Beach. Hope you are well.
<Thanks Ritesh>
I was searching your website for articles in regards to curing, but I wasn't coming up with what I was looking for.
I have only found one video on YouTube that had relevant information.
Because it stated that for wild wood to be considered aquarium wood it would have to have been petrified in the wild.
<Mmm; well, not petrified; but at least to extents waterlogged>
I have collected some Orchid Tree twigs and a few seed pods without seeds.
I boiled the heck out of it. Wash it.
Sprayed it down with hydrogen peroxide.
The amount of twigs is about a hand full. And they were dry twigs that died from the tree already. Same as the pods.
Is there a real method to curing the exact type [dead twigs] and amount of the Orchid Tree? A long version and a short version?
<Likely just soaking in a large enough container, weighing the wood down so it's underwater... After a few weeks seeing if it's still floats. Possibly bleach washing it to clean it up... then washing/rinsing in freshwater, maybe soaking it in more water with dechlorinator... >
Thank you Robert!
$Rite$h Varma
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

New Nematobrycon palmeri in quarantine...
Hello WWM Crew!
<Hello Rene!>
I am coming to you with a question and hopefully a possible diagnosis for what is going on with these guys. I recently received 6 Nematobrycon from a fish farm that is usually reputable so I will keep their name to myself for now.
<Understood. Emperor Tetras are usually good value. They're adaptable and not prone to disease.>
I Ordered these guys a few weeks ago but they were just sent this week. I got them unpacked and into the quarantine tank when I noticed that 4 of the six had strange looking (bumps/growth?) on their chin area sizes of the growths vary from fish to fish. Not sure if it is some kind of birth defect, tumor or parasite possibly?
<The fact all of them have the odd mouth defect is striking. I have seen the occasional tetra with this sort of thing, usually in Neons, and put it down to a birth defect or possibly the result of fighting. Whether such a defect is genetic or caused by, for example, lack of some key nutrient during growth is hard to say.>
It doesn't look like fungus to me, not cotton like or hairy. More like a growth/tumor of some kind.
I did message the farm about it within minutes of getting them sorted in the tank for inspection. That was yesterday morning and I have not heard back from them as of yet (possibly due to the weekend) so I have been looking online for any kind of answers. I have come up with nothing. I can send my tank info if needed I just didn't think it was relevant considering this particular situation. I am including the best pics I could manage to get as they are quick little things. Some of them are eating but not all of them.
<If they're feeding, then a non-lethal birth defect may be the case here.
But I would still expect a full refund, even if sending the fish back is pointless. No reason to destroy them humanely if they can feed, but neither should you accept them as good or even acceptable quality Emperor Tetras that satisfy your contract with the seller.>
I do not want to just start dumping meds into the water unless needed.
<Agreed; and without symptoms, any medication would be random.>
I do have Kanaplex, API General Cure, Jungle Fungus Clear and Levamisole HCI on hand if any of those would be helpful. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance. Rene'
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Filter is only a couple weeks old.
<I don't understand this exactly. Do you mean you changed the old filter for a new one? If so, then the new filter could be cycling and ammonia and nitrite above zero. That could easily account for the problem. If you mean the tank had no filter at all until two weeks ago, I'm surprised this puffer survived until now.>
I know not to change everything all at once. Is he dying? I think I'll die if he does.
<My first step would be to check the salinity. Strongly brackish water will help. If you're dosing salt in "teaspoon per gallon" amounts then you're not doing it right. You really need substantial amounts of marine salt mix. For SG 1.005, at 25 C you'd be dosing the salt at 9 grams per litre (1.2 oz per US gallon) which is quite a bit -- 9 grams is about 1.5 teaspoons of typical salt mix. I'm also going to ask you to check the ammonia and/or nitrite levels. If they're not zero, then that's a major problem that needs urgent attention. I'm finally going to have you do some reading, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/gspsart.htm
Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: New Nematobrycon palmeri in quarantine...      4/1/19
Hello Neale!
<Good afternoon!>
Thank you for responding so promptly!
I honestly hadn't even thought about asking for a refund as they arrived alive. I will definitely look into that as its always a bit more costly ordering fish directly.
<Indeed it is, hence the usual contract in terms of safe arrival of livestock.>
Unfortunately we have no quality pet stores in my area, just a Petco and you couldn't pay me to take home anything they have. That said, a birth defect or possible injury from fighting is actually a relief to hear considering the other possibilities.
I wanted to find out as much as possible as soon as possible as some things are so time sensitive when it comes to most fish illnesses.
Aside from this they appear to be healthy.
<Good; and if feeding and behaving normally, this is a good reason to assume a birth defect.>
Thank you again for your time and response. We really do rely so much on this site and all of you when it comes to our aquatic hobby. Sorry about the lengthy messages. Thank you again!
<And thank you for these kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Now: AZGardens, not sending the right fish/replying to messages (Was: New Nematobrycon Palmeri in quarantine...)     4/3/19
Re: New Nematobrycon Palmeri in quarantine...
Sorry to add on, but something else I notice is bothering me... I don't think I was even sent the correct species.
<Does indeed seem the case with these photos.>
Once they settled in and I was able to get a better look at them. I would like a second opinion. I am attaching a couple of new pics with them colored up, as well as a stock photo of what I believe them to be.
The first thing I noticed was that they have adipose fins. If I remember correctly Nematobrycon Palmeri (Emperor Tetra) don't have those fins at all? Or am I mixed up in my memory?
<You are quite correct.>
So I was thinking maybe they were Inpaichthys kerri (Royal Tetra) except that the markings and coloring do not match up, in the end I believe they are actually Hyphessobrycon margitae (Red-Blue Peru-Tetra) ...
<Certainly seems plausible.>
I am sorry to bother you all with this but the farm still has not responded to any of my emails and I am in the process of going through my PayPal to request a refund as the farm (AZGardens) will not even attempt to work with me.
<PayPal often do help here.>
If you agree that these fish are not the correct species that I ordered and paid for please let me know!
<Your photographs are definitely NOT Nematobrycon palmeri; they do not seem to be Inpaichthys kerri either. Definitely something else. Whether precisely Hyphessobrycon margitae isn't something I'm quite so sure about.
But Hyphessobrycon something, yes!>
I am finding through more research that this "farm" isnt as reputable as I had thought after more investigating when they didn't respond to my emails at all or even acknowledge them. Sorry to take up your time. Thank you,
<I don't know anything personally about AZGardens, so can't comment on their reputation. But in this instance, yes, you seem to have been sent the wrong species, and pretty poor quality specimens at that. Cheers, Neale.>

Snail id      3/30/19
I know nothing about snails, I looked around on the website and I found the snail ID page but no info on helping me figure out what type of snail this is.
The eggs were orange/pink/yellow, I disinfected the plants using a bleach dip and I soaked them all overnight before adding to my currently cycling tank. I was not expecting snails because of the bleach as well as all eggs I saw were thrown out. I’m happy with snails I just need to know what type it is so I don’t accidentally kill it.
It has a brown shell but some of it is clear. Is it too soon to identify?
<The part of the photo with the snail is a bit small to be sure, but this is likely Physa or Physella sp. These are often called Bladder or Tadpole snails for some reason. They're generally harmless, so I ignore them. Of course if you have some particularly delicate plants you might feel differently, but otherwise these snails are among the good ones. They mostly graze algae from the glass, and being relatively slow to reproduce, it's easy enough to control their numbers should you have to. Cheers, Neale.>

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

Can I add a grown up Oscar in my discus tank.
Hi Crew,
<Hello Shriram,>
Just wanted to know if the combination would work out or lead to disaster.
I have a 50 gallon tank with a few discus and some blood fin tetras. There is a grown up Oscar in a ten gallon tank at my workplace which doesn't seem to be kept in a very healthy condition.
In case I take home this guy and add him to my existing tank, is it going to pose danger to my current tankmates or will they co-exist without any major aggression.
Look forward for your response.
Thanks and regards,
<Sometimes we have difficult questions without easy answers. But sometimes we get questions that are unambiguous. This is one of them. Discus and Oscars are so different in behaviour that mixing them is VERY BAD idea.
Oscars are predatory, yes, but the problem is they are heavy feeders and tend to be territorial. They need big, basically empty tanks with heavy filtration and that can be cleaned easily and frequently. Discus are highly sensitive to nitrate levels, dislike strong water currents, and are so shy and nervous they can be scared by even much smaller fish. A tank designed for one species will be hostile to the other. Oscars would quickly pollute the still, warm water Discus prefer, while Discus would be deeply unhappy in an open tank with strong filtration. So no, while the two species are both Amazonian fish, any similarities end there, and I would not combine them. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Can I add a grown up Oscar in my discus tank.      3/28/19

Ah, Thanks Neale,
<Hello again, Shriram>
Even I was not having the slightest idea or intention to mix them with my growing \ settling down discus tank.
The mail was a result of feeling sorry looking at the plight of the Oscar.
Anyways its..no more with us..
<Oh! As in, dead? Sad to hear because they are nice fish.>
Thanks and regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>


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