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We ask that, before submitting a query, you refer to Neale Monk's: Before You Write; A Checklist of Common Problems with Freshwater Aquaria, Bettas, Goldfish, and Freshwater Turtles (Terrapins), Tips on Asking Questions, Ask the WWM Crew a Question, FAQs on FAQs. EDFP, TBPFWFAQs, Last Few Days Accrued FAQs, Subscribe to the Daily Pics

Astronotus ocellatus (Agassiz 1831), the Oscar. To seventeen inches (45.7 cm). South America: Rio Amazonas basin in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Northern Paraguay and French Guiana. Freshwater: pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5.0 - 19.0, temp. 22 - 25°C. Wild type at  the Shedd Aq. 2015 
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Freshwater FAQs, Ask us a question: Crew@WetWebMedia.com

Updated 4/22/2018
Other Specialized Daily FAQs Blogs: General, Planted Tanks, Ponds, Brackish, Last Few Days Accrued FAQs,
Daily Q&A replies/input from the WWM crew: Darrel Barton,
Neale Monks, Marco Lichtenberger, Bob Fenner, are posted here. Moved about, re-organized daily Current Crew Bios., Not so current Crew Bios
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New Print and eBook on Amazon

Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Re: sick Betta (RMF, any better guesses?) <<Nothing more>>   4/23/18
Thank you for your quick response. I have attached a few pictures, I hope they aren't too big. If Betta does have Costia will Seachem "Para Guard" be effective? Thank you again! Tina
<Paraguard should work, being marketed as useful against ectoparasites, but I've not tried this particular approach, and Seachem are a little vague on specifics! Since it doesn't contain either copper or formalin, the two best treatments for Costia, it wouldn't be my first choice. But definitely worth a shot, especially alongside elevated temperatures and/or salt water dips.
Costia struggles to survive at temperatures above 28 C/86 F, which Bettas can easily handle. Dipping fish for short periods in seawater (35 gram sea salt/litre aquarium water) can help to shift the mucous and kill some of
the parasites. Bettas aren't particularly tolerant of salt, so I'd use this with the usual caution of removing the fish at the first sign of distress.
The longer the exposure to salt, the better -- so obviously this approach is especially well suited to those fish that handle seawater well, such as Guppies and Mollies. Nonetheless, anti-Whitespot medications of all sorts, used on their own, should shift Costia, but as I've said before, it may require several treatments because Costia is a stubborn little critter!
Cheers, Neale.>

Worms in freshwater substrate   4/23/18
I found several of these worms buried in the substrate of my 46gal bowfront, today. Any idea what they are, if I should get rid of them and if so, how? They’re about 1mm thick, and maybe 1.5 - 2” long at a guess? They were pretty upset to be disturbed and all balled up. There are two balled together in this video.
Thanks!
<No video attached. But as a general rule, freshwater worms are harmless. Beneficial, even. Do look up freshwater Oligochaetes for examples of the 'good' kind of worm. California Blackworms are quite common and used in freshwater deep sand beds. Tubifex less positive in the sense of preferring/indicating relatively dank conditions, but in themselves harmless, even enjoyed as food by most fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Skinny Stingray    4/21/18
My motoro stingray is a pretty active stingray but parameters in the tank are normal (no nitrates, nitrites, ph levels are normal)
<I would prefer the values rather than a statement! To recap, nitrite should be zero of course, and nitrate as low as practical, though zero nitrate is in practical terms very difficult to achieve. If you are honestly getting a zero reading for nitrate, I'd double-check you're using the test kit right, because a zero nitrate reading in a tank with a large,
predatory fish is so unlikely. While the precise pH value isn't critical, it should be stable and not too high, and ideally, hardness and pH would be towards the soft water end of their respective ranges; maybe 2-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5.>
and there is no chance of infection or parasites.
<How can be you be so sure? Even at the retailer there's some risk of exposure.>
There are constant water changes and filter changes with at least 25% changed. He is fed everyday or every other day with more food (this does not happen often, but there are issues that come up as they do in life, but not enough for there to be leftovers in the tank).
<Understood.>
He has been in our tank for over a year and a half and has been growing steadily, so we are pretty sure there is no stress, and as he has survived this long and continues to grow.
<I agree, this is promising.>
Our substrate is a soft gravel that My parents used years ago with another ray who lived a long life (obviously rinsed thoroughly with water).
<I am sure you're aware of the debate surrounding the use of substrates in ray aquaria. There are arguments in favour of soft sand substrates, and arguments in favour of no substrate at all. I wouldn't say it comes down to personal taste, but the latter approach is perhaps easier and safer.>
He is a very happy ray in all searching through gravel, finding Blackworms, swimming around all normal ray things. My problem is that he is too skinny.
He is fed a good diet of shrimp, Blackworms and live fish (who have been quarantined by fish store for at least a month usually more) but he will not gain weight.
<Live fish is already one major risk factor. Let's be clear, unless you're home-breeding thiaminase-free fish from parasite-free parents, then any live fish are dangerous. End of story. For a start, cyprinids (goldfish, minnows, and their relatives) contain thiaminase and simply should never be used as live food. No scientifically sound argument can be made in favour of using those types of fish, and store-bought "feeder" goldfish and minnows are simply parasite-bombs. If you've used those, then right there is one very probable reason for the ill-health of your Stingray. Thiaminase is an enzyme that breaks down thiamin (vitamin B1) and when used regularly the predatory fish can/will develop all sorts of vague, but potentially lethal, health issues. There's a BIG scientific literature out there on this subject, but let me direct you to Marco Lichtenberger's summary here at WWM, written specifically for aquarists:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
Next up, the feeder fishes bought at pet stores will almost certainly have parasites of some sort in them, and quarantining them only means those parasites aren't killing the host fish. Get those feeders inside your predatory fish and things become more complicated. A goldfish might, for example, have a degree of resistance to a certain parasite because they evolved together over thousands if not millions of years, but South American Stingrays may never encountered parasites common in Eurasia, and would have no resistance at all to that parasite. Do you see the problem here? It's not a definite explanation, but the use of feeders is just such a wildly risky chance to take, that it is very difficult to rule them out. Given Stingrays aren't obligate fish-eaters in the wild, there's no real reason to feed them live fish anyway, and most if not all experienced Stingray keepers and breeders avoid them. Instead focus on invertebrates, particularly worms, as well as more mixed, vegetable-rich food items that offer vitamins and fibre. Gut-loaded earthworms and river shrimps are a good way to get vegetables into your Stingray! Alongside these, a good
quality Stingray pellets will help round out their diet, and arguably could make up their entire diet if you're on a budget.>
He also completely refuses to eat things like smelt, nightcrawlers and even wild caught shrimp (as in once he smells it on your hand he will not come near you the rest of feeding time he hates them that much) and we have tried countless times to introduce him to other foods.
<The golden rule with fish remains this: they'll eat when they're happy and healthy. If they're not eating, it usually means there's a problem. It's very rarely the food itself that's wrong, but something else. Could be water quality or chemistry, could be the lighting (Stingrays hate bright light), could be the tankmates, if any (Stingrays are best kept alone). But as we've discussed, there could be a deeper problem if live feeders have been used, especially goldfish or minnows. Nobody keeping a fish as valuable and as delicate as a Stingray should be giving them live feeder fish.>
We have even hidden some in the foods he does enjoy and he spits out the food he doesn't like once he figures out it is there.
<Classic food refusal.>
He is too skinny but as I said he is still growing outwards so he is still healthy but I hate seeing him so skinny.
<I would be thinking along the lines of internal parasites, if he "eats but stays thin" but I'd also be worried about thiamin deficiency.>
Are there any fattening foods that I can safely feed a ray?
<See above; your Stingray doesn't need more calories, but he does need his appetite back. You need to review that aspect, and act accordingly.>
I've seen people suggest clams, muscles, and worms.
<Clams are good. Mussels can be used sparingly -- again, they contain thiamine. Earthworms are good and safe; bloodworms and especially Tubifex worms substantially more risky, and best avoided.>
We can try other fish but I'm not sure how he will react. Any tips or suggestions will be much appreciated!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Betta (RMF, any better guesses?)<<None>>    4/21/18
Thank you for the opportunity to ask you about my sick Betta. I have a female Betta that has developed a whitish film first on her sides and now on the top of her head and gill plates. She has a good appetite, puts
forward enthusiasm when she sees me, but otherwise is not herself, depressed and not swimming around as usual, she is not flashing or scratching, her fins are clamped most of the time. She is in an established, filtered, heated bare bottom tank (I think it's a 3 gal) with weekly water changes. There is an air bubbler and two live plants in the tank. The film on her seems flat not real poufy or cottony and as far as I can tell does not seem slimy, it's just a film that I know is not normal.
She holds her anal fins close to her body. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated! Sincerely, Tina
<Hello Tina. Assuming good water quality and adequate heat, and no evidence of classic Whitespot (such as salt grain speckles and persistent scratching), my mind is turning towards Costia, sometimes called Slime Disease or Ichthyobodo. It's relatively easy to treat if caught early, but can become more stubborn with time. It's a protozoan parasite a bit like Whitespot that causes the skin to become cloudy with mucous. Often the cloudiness surrounds the scales, almost like mortar around bricks.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/CostiaF.htm
Many anti-Whitespot medications will work against Costia (I like eSHa 2000) but more often than not a second course is needed because Costia does seem to be quite stubborn and difficult to shift. The classic remedy was
formalin, but that's somewhat less widely used nowadays because it can be toxic, to both fish and aquarist! Hope this helps, Neale.>

Musk turtles, hlth.      4/20/18
Hiya
<Hiya - Darrel here>
i have a 3-4 month old musk turtle and the other day i came back from school and she/he (haven't determined sex yet) was on the bottom of the tank not moving, i knocked on the window of the tank and the turtle didn't move, when i took the turtle out of the water there was no control in his neck, so i thought it was dead, then at 8pm my mom came home and i wanted to show her what way the turtle was, i took the turtle out and showed her but then she told me it moved, i was shook!, we've been keeping the baby warm, has a basking spot, water isnt too high up, so now what concerns me is the turtles head stays on one side which makes it impossible for the turtle to swim... and we have him now in a separate tank with a warm towel and a bit of water in it, but usually the turtle finds a small bit of water and puts his head under is this normal and what should i do?
<First of all - keep him warm and dry. When a turtle is sick their normal watery environment is not their friend>
<Unfortunately most medical care we give our fish and reptiles is, in reality, just an optimal environment that will do what we can to assist them in getting better on their own.>
<In your case, because of his size, even a full medical exam wouldn't yield much without extensive blood tests and other work ... so what we want to do is set him up so he can just rest and breathe and relax and hope that his
strength returns. Read all about dry-docking a sick turtle here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>

Re: Musk turtles     4/20/18
Also forgot to mention the baby is not eating for 3 days now...
<that's not a big concern right now. When he's sick he won't want to eat.
Keep him warm and dry and treat him like the article says. Bath every day (make sure not to stick his head under water, they can drown easily) and offer him food -- but mainly we want to help him get his strength back>

Is my Flowerhorn doomed?      4/17/18
Hello WWM crew,
<Hi Linda>
I have a young Thai Silk Flowerhorn that I’ve owned for about 3-4 months now that I think may have swallowed a foreign object (gravel) that he is unable to pass. He hasn’t eaten for about two weeks now (which is unusual, as he always ate like a pig before!), has an intermittent ‘cough’ and pretty much spends most of his time hiding under the filter outflow. As you can see from the picture, his nuchal hump is beginning to deflate, but other than that he has no physical signs of disease other than a slightly ragged dorsal fin that is probably due to being jammed up under the HOB filter all day. I’m no expert on Flowerhorn morphology, but he doesn’t look especially bloated to me; his belly is not noticeably different from when he was eating (and pooping) normally. He’s about 5 inches nose to tail, lives alone in a 20 gallon long aquarium (too small for him in the long run, I know, but I’ll upsize as needed) at ~25-26C, pH 7.5-8.5, gH 10-12, kH 5-8, ammonia/nitrite 0 and nitrate between 5-15. He gets at minimum a 25% weekly water change and gravel siphon, and generally gets fed a mix of several varieties of Hikari pellets (cichlid staple, bio-gold and bio-gold+) interspersed with frozen food 2-3 times per week, including at least one feeding per week of Spirulina-gut-loaded brine shrimp for fiber (I’ve never had any luck getting him to eat peas or any other strictly-green food).
<All this reads as very good thus far, system, food wise>
He originally had a pea pebble substrate, but about a week after he started showing symptoms I did a 100% WC, added 1 tsp of Epsom Salt per 5 gallons and switched him to pool filter sand.
<Also good response>
I can’t say for sure when the last time he pooped was, but I know for sure he hasn’t had any stool since I added the sand (~7 days). I’ve treated him with one round of Clout and two rounds of metrnidazole+nitrofurazone bath, and incrementally increased the Epsom Salt content of the water to 3 tsp/5 gallons. After the first metro/nitro treatment his coughs became occasionally productive, releasing pea-sized balls of whitish mucus with no apparent critters in them under inspection with a hand lens (microscope doesn’t arrive until tomorrow; I’ll update then). He still swims upright, but instead of gliding smoothly he sort of ‘waddles’ awkwardly in a stilted fashion.
The time is long past when I would usually have consulted a vet; unfortunately, the nearest ‘fish vet’ I’ve found is over 100 miles away.
I am seriously hoping that I am wrong about the pebble, but I’m at a loss of what else to do. I don’t want to euthanize the fish, but I really would rather not watch the poor baby starve to death! Please tell me that there is something else I haven’t tried …
Thanks in advance,
Linda
<As far as I'm aware, there is no practical method for "having fish throw up" swallowed (past the buccal cavity) items. Am going to ask Neale Monks here for his independent opinion. Were it me, mine, I'd continue as you have been with the Epsom Salt, stop the exposure to Metronidazole... and hope for remission. Bob Fenner>

Is my Flowerhorn doomed?   /Neale       4/18/18
Hello WWM crew,
I have a young Thai Silk Flowerhorn that I’ve owned for about 3-4 months now that I think may have swallowed a foreign object (gravel) that he is unable to pass. He hasn’t eaten for about two weeks now (which is unusual, as he always ate like a pig before!), has an intermittent ‘cough’ and pretty much spends most of his time hiding under the filter outflow. As you can see from the picture, his nuchal hump is beginning to deflate, but other than that he has no physical signs of disease other than a slightly ragged dorsal fin that is probably due to being jammed up under the HOB filter all day.
<Possibly, or genetic. Something does look 'off' to me about this fish.>
I’m no expert on Flowerhorn morphology, but he doesn’t look especially bloated to me; his belly is not noticeably different from when he was eating (and pooping) normally. He’s about 5 inches nose to tail, lives alone in a 20 gallon long aquarium (too small for him in the long run, I know, but I’ll upsize as needed) at ~25-26C, pH 7.5-8.5, gH 10-12, kH 5-8, ammonia/nitrite 0 and nitrate between 5-15. He gets at minimum a 25% weekly water change and gravel siphon, and generally gets fed a mix of several varieties of Hikari pellets (cichlid staple, bio-gold and bio-gold+) interspersed with frozen food 2-3 times per week, including at least one feeding per week of Spirulina-gut-loaded brine shrimp for fiber (I’ve never had any luck getting him to eat peas or any other strictly-green food).
<I do think the relatively small size of the aquarium isn't helping, but whether the actual cause of the problem here isn't certain at all.>
He originally had a pea pebble substrate, but about a week after he started showing symptoms I did a 100% WC, added 1 tsp of Epsom Salt per 5 gallons and switched him to pool filter sand. I can’t say for sure when the last time he pooped was, but I know for sure he hasn’t had any stool since I added the sand (~7 days). I’ve treated him with one round of Clout and two rounds of metrnidazole+nitrofurazone bath, and incrementally increased the Epsom Salt content of the water to 3 tsp/5 gallons. After the first metro/nitro treatment his coughs became occasionally productive, releasing pea-sized balls of whitish mucus with no apparent critters in them under inspection with a hand lens (microscope doesn’t arrive until tomorrow; I’ll update then). He still swims upright, but instead of gliding smoothly he sort of ‘waddles’ awkwardly in a stilted fashion.
The time is long past when I would usually have consulted a vet; unfortunately, the nearest ‘fish vet’ I’ve found is over 100 miles away.
I am seriously hoping that I am wrong about the pebble, but I’m at a loss of what else to do. I don’t want to euthanize the fish, but I really would rather not watch the poor baby starve to death! Please tell me that there is something else I haven’t tried …
Thanks in advance,
Linda
<There's little you can do to help a fish cough up swallowed gravel. It's relatively unlikely that gravel will pass into the digestive tract, but it can happen gravel gets caught up in the gill rakers or pharynx. Assuming such blockages don't obstruct feeding or ventilation, they usually fix themselves. In extremis, you could -- with wet hands for handling and wet cloths to hold the fish -- try and open up the mouth and see if there's anything stuck there. But this sort of handling is hard: perhaps ask a fisherman familiar with removing hooks from fish prior to returning them. The real problem with cichlids is that their jaws are delicate and easily dislocated, and once that happens, the show's over and they'll eventually starve to death. You can also try pushing water through the gill covers and out the mouth. Again, this is tricky, and too much force is potentially damaging, but a turkey baster for example is a useful tool for this. I don't think medicating further will be much use, though the use of Metronidazole was a good call. Sorry to not be able to offer much help here. Cheers, Neale.>

Water Changes and Ph/ Moping JD      4/17/18
Hello,
<Linn>
Thank you for your site and taking the time to help home aquarists.
<Welcome>
I have two questions:
Do 75% water changes greatly affect Ph?
<Mmm; depends on the make up of the water being changed and what it is being changed with; and possibly the other chemically reactive components of the system>
I have 16, 1 year old+ cycled tanks and was doing 75% water changes every 10 to 14 days to keep the nitrates low. The problem is I intermittently end up with 1 or 2 fish dying after a large water change.
<Please see here Re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2ochgs.htm
Note that I am a HUGE fan of pre-mixing and storing water for change outs, in dedicated inert containers; AND limiting change percentage to 25-30% or so due to vagaries and variances in source waters nowayears. IF you're determined to do such large percentage change outs, DO treat and store the new water a week in advance. I would have you read on WWM re Nitrate control. There are other means other than dilution (chemical, physical, biological) to reduce NO3>
I read somewhere that 25% water changes are best for avoiding Ph fluctuation.
<Yes; one reason for their limitation>
With so many tanks I am changing water 1x/week at 25%. (My bigger fish – Oscar, Purple Rose Queen, and Jack Dempsey in their own 75s get biweekly water changes due to the large size of their waste). In your experience are large water changes acceptable?
<In some localities... where the water is suitable, AND with adequate water treatment; chemically, and/or via storage...>
I clean the sand/gravel each water change and drain the water into the yard. I have a 150’ hose attached to a shower head to fill the tanks. The hose is run a few minutes before filling. I add Safe prior to filling.
<Better by FAR to treat this water elsewhere BEFORE adding it all to your live systems>
Filters are cleaned once per month.
<S/b fine>
I have a female Jack Dempsey. I got her full grown from a lfs about 2 years ago. She was in the $20 predator tank. Recently, I put her in my 150 American tank. She would spar with the squeaker catfish and a large green cichlid I do not know the name of. The convicts were her downfall as the JD and convicts like the bottom of the aquarium. The JDs side fins were torn and she stopped coming out of hiding at feeding time so I put her back in her own tank – 75 gallon. She is now digging in the sand but won’t eat – think maybe she and the green cichlid made a connection.
<Possibly>
She has been wormed and her water param.s are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate. She gets biweekly water changes of 20 to 30%. I have been putting her light on and interacting with her more. I am thinking about getting a Salvini or large barb dithers to put with her.
<Good choices, idea>
Wondering if you have any suggestions?
<None other than stated>
I think she is just lonely. I have been adding Voogle vitamins just in case. I feed her omnivore and carnivore fish pellets from American Aquarium Products.
Thank you in advance,
Linn Chetty
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Water Changes and Ph/ Moping JD    /Neale       4/18/18

Hello,
<Hello!>
Thank you for your site and taking the time to help home aquarists.
I have two questions:
Do 75% water changes greatly affect Ph? I have 16, 1 year old+ cycled tanks and was doing 75% water changes every 10 to 14 days to keep the nitrates low. The problem is I intermittently end up with 1 or 2 fish dying after a large water change. I read somewhere that 25% water changes are best for avoiding Ph fluctuation. With so many tanks I am changing water 1x/week at 25%. (My bigger fish – Oscar, Purple Rose Queen, and Jack Dempsey in their own 75s get biweekly water changes due to the large size of their waste). In your experience are large water changes acceptable? I clean the sand/gravel each water change and drain the water into the yard. I have a 150’ hose attached to a shower head to fill the tanks. The hose is run a few minutes before filling. I add Safe prior to filling. Filters are cleaned once per month.
<Yes, big water changes can affect the pH in certain circumstances. Suppose you have a tank containing stuff that either lowers or raises the pH. If there are a lot of wood, plants and fish, then acidification will happen. The pH will tend to go down after a water change. If there are a lot of limestone rocks, coral sand, or seashells, then these will dissolve, gradually raising the pH. Now, suppose your tap water has a pH of 7.5, and relatively little buffering potential (e.g., a low carbonate hardness). Before the water change, your tank with lots of acidification might be at pH 6.5, but you do a big water change, and all of a sudden the pH rises up to pH 7.2 or 7.5. That's a big change, and some fish (and plants) can react to that. Similarly, in a tank that had a high pH before the water change, maybe 8.2, you do a water change, and it slams down to pH 7.5. Again, hard water fish won't be happy at all. Of course if your tap water has a high buffering capacity, and there's not much inside the tank raising or lowering pH, then big water changes might have relatively little effect. It all depends.>
I have a female Jack Dempsey. I got her full grown from a lfs about 2 years ago. She was in the $20 predator tank. Recently, I put her in my 150 American tank. She would spar with the squeaker catfish and a large green cichlid I do not know the name of.
<Green Terror perhaps?>
The convicts were her downfall as the JD and convicts like the bottom of the aquarium. The JDs side fins were torn and she stopped coming out of hiding at feeding time so I put her back in her own tank – 75 gallon. She is now digging in the sand but won’t eat – think maybe she and the green cichlid made a connection. She has been wormed and her water param.s are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate. She gets biweekly water changes of 20 to 30%. I have been putting her light on and interacting with her more.
<She'd likely prefer less light.>
I am thinking about getting a Salvini or large barb dithers to put with her.
<Oh, the Salvini cichlids can be quite nasty, so be careful here; I'd be more along the lines of a large robust barb or characin, if you really wanted a tankmate here.>
Wondering if you have any suggestions? I think she is just lonely.
<No, she's not. Couldn't care less about companions.>
I have been adding Voogle vitamins just in case. I feed her omnivore and carnivore fish pellets from American Aquarium Products.
Thank you in advance,
Linn
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Water Changes and Ph/ Moping JD    /Neale      4/18/18

Thank you for the feedback Neale and Bob!
<Welcome.>
The Ph shift possibility makes sense. Many fish keepers swear by large - even 100% water changes. I will just stick to the 25 - 30% range and see if fish continue to die occasionally.
<Oh for sure the bigger the water change, the better. Think about a river -- the fish isn't in the same water at any point in its life! But if a big water change exposes the fish to wide pH changes, that's bad. If the new water has the same temperature, hardness and pH as the old water, change as much as you want! But if not, then be more conservative, and stick with the traditional 20-25% at a time.>
As for the JD, it may be her time to go. I have read that other JDs come to life when they get to chase feeder fish.
<Uh, not a good idea.>
I do not do feeder fish or food that may contain parasites.
<Damn straight.>
I have a Green Terror but it is taking forever for him/her to grower larger.
<Do review tank size, nitrate level, and perhaps parentage. While these fish should get to a fair size, stunting is not uncommon, and inbreeding has suppressed the size and colouration of many cichlids.>
Luckily I can move some fish around. In a 125g, I am going to put a 6" Pleco, the JD's green cichlid companion, add the JD, and later add some same sex red jewels when they get a bit bigger. Also going to add loads of caves and fake plants and see how things go. The JD keeps swimming around and looking out of the tank. I am keeping the light off now. As a child, my hamster tried to get out when he was about to die, could be that what she is up to or she could miss the safe feeling having more fish affords.
<Not the way these fish work. While for sure cichlids do response to dither fish in the wild, and in captivity, the lack of them isn't going to stress or harm them. Plus, if the dither fish will simply be eaten, or at least damaged, what's the point? Floating plants would work just as well, with fewer risks.>
I read that in the wild a JD watches the live bearers present in its environment to know when danger is approaching.
<Yes, this is correct.>
Anyway, sure appreciate the help and support!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus; doing poorly, need info.      4/17/18
Hi
<Hello Caroline!>
A friend recommended you for advise!
<Advice too>
I have a mature 240 litre and hi have recently added 6 new discus fish.
2 of them have 1 fin clamped with what looks like a bit of fun got
<Fungus I take it>
and are breathing rapidly and occasionally flicking fins.
I've used Melafix so far but it doesn't seem to have helped.
<Do see WWM re this herbal treatment. Of little use to detrimental>
Can you suggest a different treatment pls?
Many thanks Caroline
<Need to know more re the water quality, system here. Temp., pH, hardness of the water; nitrogenous compound concentrations... Are these fish eating? What? I'd increase the aeration, water movement for now, add activated carbon filtration ASAPractical as an aid to remove undesirable materials.
DO please write us back with the information requested, and images of the system, fish if you can. Bob Fenner>
Discus    /Neale       4/18/18

Hi
A friend recommended you for advise! I have a mature 240 litre and hi have recently added 6 new discus fish.
<Nice.>
2 of them have 1 fin clamped with what looks like a bit of Finrot and are breathing rapidly and occasionally flicking fins.
<This could simply be a result of stress or rough handling, both of which can cause these symptoms. They should respond to a two-fold approach here.
Firstly, remove sources of stress. Dark tank, quiet, and above all good water quality should help. Secondly, medicate appropriately, using a reliable anti-Finrot medication. Depending on where you live, antibiotics like Kanaplex would be a good call, or else something like eSHa 2000 if you live outside the US.>
I've used Melafix so far but it doesn't seem to have helped.
<Indeed not. It's fairly unreliable.>
Can you suggest a different treatment pls?
<See above.>
Many thanks Caroline
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Discus     /Neale       4/18/18

Thank you very much I'll try ESHa 2000. Do I leave water changes though for that as I usually do 15% daily at the mo?
<I would not do any water changes during the course of medications. If I recall, eSHa 2000 takes 3 doses across 3-4 days. But if you must do a water change because of water quality problems, do it 24 hours after dosing.>
You're the second person to say that about Melafix can I ask why? Not questioning you just to understand better.
<It's at best a preventative. It is very unreliable as a medication once things get bad. Experience through working with WWM is that a lot of folks who use it find it doesn't help. Some people find it makes things worse. No personal experience of that, but I would be sympathetic to the argument that in 'wasting time' with Melafix, the Finrot gets worse, maybe fatally so.>
My water is fine nitrates 25ppm but my Tap water tends to be around 20 too...
<Should be find for most fish, but Discus are a trifle sensitive, as are most cichlids. I'd be very aware of this, and think of ways to keep nitrate as low as practical.>
Thx
Caroline
<Cheers, Neale.>

Discus fins black      4/17/18
Dear Sir,
<Anupam>
Two of my discus fins are turning black even water temperature is in between 86-88 F and I am changing daily 50% water change thinking if they have any stress due to water quality it can be reduce down. For your reference I have attached a pic also of them.
<I see this blackening and that the unpaired fins are badly frayed. What is the pH, hardness of the water here?>
Can you please suggest me the right solution which can solve this problem.
<Need more information. Also, do you have a place to put these fish that is not so stark? Another tank with decorations, plants? I would lower the temperature down to the low 80's also. High temp. is not necessary or
desirable with cultured Discus>
Thanks in advance.
Yours Sincerely
Anupam
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Discus fins black    /Neale       4/18/18
Dear Sir,
Two of my discus fins are turning black even water temperature is in between 86-88 F and I am changing daily 50% water change thinking if they have any stress due to water quality it can be reduce down.
<Could be.>
For your reference I have attached a pic also of them.
Can you please suggest me the right solution which can solve this problem.
<Typically, dark black patches are put done to exposure to ammonia. So do check the ammonia reading of your aquarium. It should really be zero. The water chemistry is important too. Discus need soft, acidic water to do
well. For sure the farmed ones are more adaptable, but they rarely do well in very hard water. I'd be aiming for 1-12 degrees dH, pH 6.0-7.5. Of course at low pH levels biological filtration operates poorly, so under-stocking is important.>
Thanks in advance.
Yours Sincerely
Anupam
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Discus fins black      /Neale       4/18/18

Hi,
thanks for the suggestion....will check the ammonia and also follow your instruction regarding DH and PH and check and will update you the progress.
Thanks,
Anupam
<Glad to help, and good luck! Neale.>
Re: Discus fins black /RMF again      4/18/18

Hi,
<Hello again Anupam>
Thanks for your suggestions...currently i have not put plants as i have ordered for soil and waiting for that.
<Mmm; all this, the plants, soil, should be put in weeks to months ahead of the Symphysodon>
I read that if tank is not planted water temperature should be in between 86-88F and if tank is planted water temperature should be in between 84-86F hence i put temperature in between 86-88F.
<For wild fishes; these are cultured>
I am not sure much about stark what you mean to say but the place where i put the fishes is calm and quite. Kindly advise.
<Back to reading, study... at least what is posted on WWM... ALL re Discus.
They need shelter, decor... to be able to get out of the light>
PH level i will check and let you know.
Thanks,
Anupam
<Read; don't write. Bob Fenner>

African Aquatic clawed frog has yellow back legs      4/15/18
I have two 14 year olds that are wonderful.
<I'm assuming you're talking about frogs here, not children!>
One has a yellow color under back legs now. I asked Grow A frog about this and they said it is normal with age.
<Perhaps. Never seen it myself. They do become paler with age though, that's true enough.>
What are your thoughts? The other one is fine and has not changed color.
<Assuming the frogs are otherwise healthy, and there's no sign of, for example, bloating or lesions on the skin, I'd 'watch and wait' for the time being. Chances are it's nothing too alarming. I mean, you could try an antibiotic as used against Red-Leg, such as Maracyn Plus, just in case, as that's the most likely serious problem that causes damage to the legs of these frogs.>
The water is Eldorado Spring water/ They live in a long 20 gal aquarium. No filter just PVC tunnels. I clean the water two times a week. I have a make shift lid that is made from clear acrylic. It covers the middle top of the
aquarium leaving 2-3 inches on each side open. I have jumpy frogs when the weather changes.
<Indeed! Perhaps they are more active if air pressure changes rapidly? Like Weather Loaches?>
They eat pellets from Grow A frog one to two times a day. Otherwise the frog eats and seems normal. Any ideas?
<Not really. Never seen this sort of thing, and while it's good to keep an eye open for bacteria and fungal skin infections, if these frogs have been happy and healthy for so many years, you must be getting the basics right!>
Ann
<Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf frogs; gen., sys.       4/14/18
I just got 5 dwarf frogs today.
<Neat.>
I'm new to them but did research and had the tank set up properly.
<Cool. Let me direct you to some reading first of all, here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/FrogsArtNeale.htm
Although essentially easy to keep, especially in a nice big tank like yours, they do pose a couple of challenges. Water chemistry doesn't matter much, but they do need tropical temperatures (not room temperature!) and they do need good water quality (via a gentle filter of some sort). Unless you happen to live in the tropics, you'll need a heater set to 25 C/77 F to keep them warm, and ideally that heater should be protected with a 'heater guard' that ensures the frogs can't burn themselves. Some aquarium heaters come with the heater guard already: it's a curved, mesh-like plastic thing that clips onto the heater. Definitely worth choosing a heater that has one. So far as filtration goes, a small internal canister is fine, as are air-powered sponge or box filters. I'd avoid hang-on-the-back filters because these require large open spaces in the hood that the frogs can escape through.>
It’s a 10gallon with only the frogs, a clay pot, hidey, and silk flowers. It has a bubble stone and a filter-however I can’t use it right now because the current is too strong.
<Do see above and choose the appropriate sort of filter design. Healthy frogs are not feeble swimmers, so a canister filter or box filter rated for an 8-10 gallon system should be fine. Of course if the frogs are half-starved they may struggle a bit -- some filters have dials that allow you to turn down the flow rate, and that would be helpful.>
My concern is that since putting them in the tank, 3 float on top and don’t stay down even when nudged down, and two stay still on the bottom. Is this normal for new frogs?
<It is normal for these frogs to bask at the surface of the tank, often under the lamp, warming themselves up a bit.>
Do they need a de-stressing period?
<The addition of floating plants will help enormously here; floating Indian Fern, sometimes called Water Sprite, is the ideal choice. Such plants provide shade and shelter. Bear in mind these frogs come from dark, shady habitats and don't like wide open spaces all that much.>
They won’t eat.
<What are you offering them? The dried pellet foods are sometimes rejected, and initially at least, things like frozen bloodworms and live daphnia may work better. My frogs would also eat tiny bits of fish and shrimp.>
Ammonia levels are 0,
<Good.>
ph is around 6.4-6.8.
<A trifle low, but probably not a big deal.>
Thanks,
Mandy
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf frogs      4/15/18

Thanks so much for your help!
<Most welcome.>
Sadly, I lost 3 froggies but the other 2 seem to be doing ok.
<Oh dear.>
I went today and got a new heater, the filter you suggested, and some live plants. I still can’t get them to eat though.
<They will when they're settled. But bear in mind three key things: Firstly, they're largely nocturnal by preference, and won't feed in bright, open area unless they're thoroughly settled. Secondly, they hunt as much by smell as anything else. This means if you put too much food in the tank it becomes hard for them to find the food, so a small amount in one concentrated area is better than lots of food spread around the aquarium. Finally, they have little to no interest in dried foods, at least initially. Tempt them with either small live foods or their (wet) frozen equivalents. I'd leave newly-purchased frogs for the first night unfed, and thereafter offer them, once a day, small amounts of small live foods, such as live bloodworms or mosquito larvae collected from a local pond. Remove any uneaten particles of food. Repeat until the frogs are obviously feeding, and then over the next week or two, try weaning them onto (dried) alternatives.>
I’m feeding them freeze dried bloodworms and ReptoMin sinking aquatic frog granules. I’ve tried putting the food right in front of their faces but they don’t take it, just swim away. Any tips?
<See above.>
Mandy
<Cheers, Neale.>

Betta Health Question    4/13/18
Hello Bob and WWM Crew!
<Greetings Jen>
I have been experiencing some issues with my Betta fish. I have 12 of them, and from time to time a few of them have exhibited symptoms where they have trouble swimming and balancing.
<Unusual behavior>
This has occurred in several different tanks with several different fish. Most recently it happened in a 2 gallon tank that had been setup for 3 1/2 weeks, when I added my established Betta to the tank, within a day he was having trouble swimming and balancing. I checked the water parameters (PH 8.1,
<Better for Bettas to be in neutral, soft/er water... a pH of 7.0 or so.
The pH scale is a base 10 log... so 8 is ten times more Hydroxyl ions (or ten less H2) than 7; a big difference. Do see WWM re pH control>
Ammonia .25,
<Mmm; this needs to be and stay 0.0 ppm; ammonia is even more toxic at high/er pH>

NO2 0,
NO3 10, I try to maintain temp around 77). The tank has a few live plants and fish safe gravel, and a filter with activated carbon. Here is the strange thing; when I remove the Betta to a cup (the cup they are in when purchased from the store) in the same water from the tank, within minutes to an hour, they are swimming perfectly normal, which leads me to believe it is not caused from the water, as I realize the PH is slightly elevated
and there is trace ammonia present. I am so frustrated trying to figure out why the Betta exhibits these symptoms in the tank, but when removed from the tank and placed in a cup, they almost instantly improve?
<Does seem strange>
I am hoping you might have some insight and suggestions for me, I have scoured your articles and FAQ's and couldn't find anything similar to this issue.
Please help!!
Sincerely,
Lizzy M.
<Do you have other fish species? Are they similarly disoriented? Do the tanks have gravel, that is, something other than a reflective bottom... ?
I'd do what you can to make the water quality better for now. Bob Fenner>

Can Epsom salt be used for Ich?       4/12/18
Dear WWM.
Hope you are doing fine. Thanks for maintaining an incredible website, it is so helpful.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
A quick question: Along with heat, can we use Epsom salt instead of NaCl to treat freshwater ich?
<No.>
I am not getting a definitive answer from the interweb. In case we can, what will be a ballpark gm/US gallons mixing advice?
<No idea.>
I was wondering if the osmotic pressure difference between the Ich protozoan's tissue (in the free swimming stage) and the water is what kills
them. In that case any salt that is not detrimental otherwise should work.
<In theory that sounds fine, but Epsom salt has other properties, such as its laxative effect, that sodium chloride does not; therefore the two are
not interchangeable.>
Or is there something special about NaCl and ich biochemically?
<Might well be, but the research is lacking. If you visit Google Scholar you'll find much research involving Ichthyophthirius and sodium chloride,
but so far as I can tell, none at all re: Ichthyophthirius and magnesium sulphate/sulfate.>
Regards
Devakalpa
<Cheers, Neale.>

Shell Rot       4/12/18
Hello.
<Hiya, JP. I'm so sorry this email seems to have been stuck in my inbox and just now listed>
I have a turtle who has some obvious shell rot. We got her last spring from a family in the town we live in. She had a little bit of white
spotting, but nothing major. We moved in the summer and she refused to bask at much, preferring to stay in the water. Once we got back to taking
her out on the grass more often, allowing her shell to try, we noticed bigger white splotches on the hard shell and underneath. I took pictures
and went to the pet store. They said it was just because we have hard water as we are on a well. I found this hard to believe as she also
wouldn't eat much. I sent pictures my sister-in-law who is a veterinarian and she had us dry dock and use a fungal ointment. She was looking better
come October, and I reduced treatments, but continued to dry dock. The last couple weeks her shell has rapidly become worse again. She never sits
in the same water. She dry basks in her tank and then I put her in a separate tub overnight which gets refilled every day.
<Your sister-in-law was correct, clearly, but so is your pet store. As the shell firms up you will notice white discolorations under the scutes.
What separates them from shell rot is that the white doesn't scrape off -- it's a true discoloration and not a coating.>

3 toed box turtle       4/12/18
Hello Darryl (or whoever is covering terrapins today)
<Hiya! Another letter stuck somewhere in my box magically appeared out of the past>
You might recall our correspondence about 18 months ago, as our family grew by one small member. Boxy/SlowMo has settled-in well (even if we still haven’t finalized a name. We hope by the time our kids have kids we’ll all go with SlowMo).
<I like it.>
I’m reaching out partially to just say thanks again, we’re loving our little turtle. And also to see if you agree with our assessment that she is, in fact, a she. I’ve attached a few photos that should help. She was about 6 months old when we brought her home in November 2016, so she should be close to 2 now.
Thanks for all your awesome help
<No charge!! But if you ever hit the lottery, don't forget that "donate" button at the top of our page>
PS, we’re still rocking the au natural substrate, though we added a layer of coconut coir, and a top coat of sphagnum (ethically harvested, if the package is to be believed; and if you can’t believe advertising, what can you believe?!), which we can periodically remove and rinse clean. Still no odour issues, other than a somewhat pleasing earthy/woodsy aroma.


 

Is my turtle shell normal       4/12/18
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have two peninsula Cooter turtles, I’ve had them for over a year already and their underside started looking like this a little while ago and I just want to know if my turtles are healthy, are their shells normal?
<Since I have no idea what you mean by "this" -- I just look at the pictures and I see a normal and healthy carapace.>
<Remember, the most important things are: 1) that they are active and alert. 2) that their behavior today is the same as their behavior yesterday. If they do THAT for you ... and you keep them in healthy conditions, you'll have no problems>

Super Delta Betta Fin Spot/RMF     4/9/18
Dear Wet Web Media,
<Hello Jacob>
I have read many of your threads on Betta diseases, but have been unable to find anything that matched my Betta’s current predicament.
I had kept my Betta in a 2gal tank for ~6months, about a month ago I had noticed the development of a white spot on his ventral fin. Initially I attempted to treat it with API Bettafix (a natural treatment for bacterial infections in Betta fish) which contained 0.2% melaleuca.
<Of no use>
After not seeing any improvement I tried using API Super Ick Cure, which contains 1% PVP.
<Ditto>
This also did not seem to rid of the white growth. In the past two weeks I transferred the Betta into a 5gal tank and have run a course of API Fungus Cure, which contains Acriflavine. Despite these numerous attempts, this white spot still remains.
The Betta is behaving normally and is eating well. The tank temperature is a suitable 80 degrees F. I have included photographs of the white growth that has split the Betta's ventral fin (note: the water is. Yellow from the Victoria Green B in the fungal treatment). The tank is regularly aerated and filtered. The Betta lives only with a Marimo moss ball as company.
Let me know if there are any other variables to consider and what the best course of action would be to keep my Betta alive and well
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Thank you,
Jacob Lasci
<Very unusual to state, but your images are too small to see what you're referring to. But I will state, as you mention your fish is fine other than the split fin, I would not be concerned re the spot. Do send along a larger pic file if you'd like/will otherwise, and cease these treatments. They are more harmful than of use. Bob Fenner>
Super Delta Betta Fin Spot/Neale      4/9/18

Dear Wet Web Media,
<Hello Jacob,>
I have read many of your threads on Betta diseases, but have been unable to find anything that matched my Betta’s current predicament.
<Oh?>
I had kept my Betta in a 2gal tank for ~6months, about a month ago I had noticed the development of a white spot on his ventral fin. Initially I attempted to treat it with API Bettafix (a natural treatment for bacterial infections in Betta fish) which contained 0.2% melaleuca.
<These tea-tree oil products are not reliable; perhaps even harmful in some situations.>
After not seeing any improvement I tried using API Super Ick Cure, which contains 1%PVP.
<While a better choice of medication, a single white spot is unlikely to be Whitespot/Ick, so this medication probably wasn't going to be helpful.>
This also did not seem to rid of the white growth.
<Indeed.>
In the past two weeks I transferred the Betta into a 5gal tank and have run a course of API Fungus Cure, which contains Acriflavine.
<Again, you're not dealing with a fungus, which can be characterised by its cotton wool appearance.>
Despite these numerous attempts, this white spot still remains.
<Quite so; when it comes to using medications, much better to identify the problem first, and then apply the right medication. The scattergun approach to medicating sometimes 'gets lucky' but isn't really an economical or useful way to approach things.>
The Betta is behaving normally and is eating well.
<Good.>
The tank temperature is a suitable 80 degrees F.
<And water chemistry? Water quality?>
I have included photographs of the white growth that has split the Betta's ventral fin (note: the water is. Yellow from the Victoria Green B in the fungal treatment). The tank is regularly aerated and filtered.
<Good.>
The Betta lives only with a Marimo moss ball as company.
<Also good.>
Let me know if there are any other variables to consider and what the best course of action would be to keep my Betta alive and well
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Thank you,
Jacob
<While I'm going to ask Bob Fenner for a second opinion here, my gut reaction is that this is a typical cyst or tumour of the sort frequently seen on Bettas. These are not necessarily malign or even fast growing, and many Bettas have them for life. While Bettas can get Whitespot and Velvet, these are usually easily diagnosed by the salt grain (Whitespot) or icing sugar (Velvet) dusting presented by them. Glugea is another parasite that produces small cysts on the body, but these spread quickly and have a very dramatic appearance, like round nodules 1mm or more in diameter. Anabantids are subject to Glugea, but it's rarely seen outside of wild-caught fish. Lymphocystis is one last consideration, a typical viral infection for fish that presents itself as off-white growths on the skin. It's untreatable, but rarely fatal, and usually develops very slowly, and then fades away even more slowly, if at all. Having dispensed with these, the various cysts and tumours that Bettas are prone to may be a result of inbreeding over the years, and appear as pimples on the body where the pale skin pushes out between the scales. These cysts are often small and discrete, but may, in more severe cases, be part of a larger swelling within the muscles or even the abdomen. Obviously these are unsightly, but if the cysts are small and away from anywhere important, i.e., not blocking the vent or gills, then the cyst does no harm. It may fade in time, but usually doesn't. Some aquarists suggest there's an environmental or dietary triggering factor that causes them. Bear in mind as air-breathers they're more exposed to toxins in the air, such as solvents and paint fumes, than regular fish, so they may be exposed to a lot more risk factors than we'd expect for a fish. Others put the cysts and tumours down to bad genes. Hard to say. But the benign cysts are very common in Bettas, and to a lesser degree, so are truly malign tumours that spread and kill the Betta quite quickly. Not much to be done with either, beyond good aquarium maintenance. Cheers, Neale.>

full size pix

Re: Super Delta Betta Fin Spot (Bob, second opinion?). Comp.     4/10/18
<<Nothing more to add. B>>
Thank you very much for the wise words Neale.
<Most welcome.>
I have been keeping up with weekly water chemistry tests (using paper strips). Everything has been within the recommended guidelines for Bettas.
<Ah, that's good to hear.>
Sorry to bother you again, but I have a follow up question. Is it a bad idea to get the Betta a few tank mates?
<Yes and no! More specifically, farmed long-fin Bettas are miles away from their wild ancestors, and find it difficult to interact with other fish, whether competing for food or backing off from territorial aggression. So yes, it's a bad idea to casually mix Bettas with community fish because they're at a real risk of starving or getting damaged. However, there are fish that simply ignore Bettas, and conversely, Bettas ignore them. Benthic
fish are particularly good choices in this regard. Given sufficient space, I'm sure you would do fine with the smaller Corydoras species, Whiptail cats and Bristlenose cats. With a bit of luck, perhaps even very peaceful
schooling fish like Ricefish and Dwarf Rasboras.>
He is in a 5gal aquarium now.
<That's your limiting factor though: few, if any, community fish would be happy in a tank this small.>
I have read articles suggesting that neon or ember tetras, loaches, rasboras, and some Plecos make for suitable tank mates.
<Quite possibly. When it comes to Plecs for example, yes, anything goes because they don't view fish as food, and even the most psychotic Betta isn't going to have any impact whatsoever on these heavily armoured
catfish. Tetras, loaches, and so on are more of a gamble because these sometimes harass Bettas, nip them, or steal their food. So the default advice is, apart from Loricariidae, keep Bettas away from other fish UNLESS
you are sure the combination will work.>
All the best,
Jacob
<Cheers, Neale.>

Betta sorority blues ... Mysterious female Betta losses     4/9/18
Hi there WWM folks …
I am an avid (freshwater) aquarist with an addiction to all things aquatic (~20 or so tanks running at any given time), but these Betta girls are giving me a heck of a time!
<Oh?>
I recently decided to break up one of my Acara breeding pairs due to that all-too-common “way too many darned babies to grow out” disease, which left me with an empty, well-established, moderately-planted tank to play with.
<Understood!>
While shopping for filter media at the local big-box store, a handful of nice-looking female Bettas caught my eye, and I ended up bringing home six of them that appeared healthy to attempt my first sorority. I drip-acclimated them over the course of an hour, then netted them out of those horrid cups they’re sold in and added them all at the same time. After watching them for about an hour to assure that no undue bullying was happening (mature Anubias do wonders for breaking line of sight!), I turned the lights out to let them rest. I don’t know if the variety matters, but there was one crown tail, one Dumbo ear, and four veiltail.
<Some people do report different aggression levels in some varieties, but I don't think it's a particularly significant factor.>
Tank parameters when the fish were added were pH 7.2, dH 4, 0 ammonia/nitrite, and 5 ppm nitrate (I usually keep NO3 around 15-20 for the plants, but when adding new fish I like to keep it a bit lower).
<All sounds fine.>
The tank had been given a 50% water change and deep gravel vacuum after its former occupants were moved, and had been empty for less than 8 hours before the fish were added. It is filtered with a 200 gph HOB filter and heated to a constant 25C. I also tossed in a few (3-5) small catalpa leaves because I planned to add a small school of Otocinclus once my LFS got them back in stock.
<Right.>
When I awoke the next morning all of the poor girls were recently deceased — and I say ‘recently' because 1) they had been added less than 12 hours earlier, and 2) the tank parameters were STILL fine (0 ammonia/nitrite, although nitrate had inched up a bit to between 10 and 20 ppm). 5 of the 6 had no visible signs of disease (other than being dead, that is!) and the last, who had wedged herself under a piece of wood and thus took me the longest to find, was covered in white fuzz.
<Oh dear. White fuzz, if distinctly fluffy, is usually fungus. Columnaris, or Mouth Fungus, tends to be less like threads and more like slimy patches or spots, though with more three-dimensional depth than typical Finrot. They are difficult to tell apart to be sure, but true Fungus usually has that cotton wool appearance that Columnaris lacks.>
The rapid decimation of the livestock coupled with the white fuzz caused me to suspect Columnaris, so I gravel vac’d and drained the tank completely, refilled, and nuked the system with Kanamycin + Nitrofurazone according to the package directions.
<Understood. But I would be aware of the fact Columnaris, as well as Finrot and Fungus, are to a great extent triggered by environmental stress. Water changes are not a bad idea, of course, provided inbound water chemistry matches that of the water being taken out. Similarly, taking apart a tank for a deep clean is fine, but only if you keep the filter working 100%.>
Once the treatment was complete, I vacuumed, drained, refilled, and re-cycled the tank with plain ammonia.
<Was the tank cycled before the Bettas were added? If so, and assuming you kept the filter media alive while cleaning the tank, adding ammonia was not required here, and potentially another source of water pollution.>
I then added a trio of panda corys that had been hanging out in my albino Cory breeding tank just to keep the nitrifying bacteria fed.
<Okay; but do bear in mind these catfish don't like very warm water, whereas Bettas do, so while 25 C/77 F might suit both, it's at the top end of what C. panda approves of.>
About a week later, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to give the sorority another go.
<How were the Corydoras? What were the ammonia and/or nitrite readings at this point? I would NOT be adding additional fish to this tank without knowing that the (re-)cycling process of your aquarium was complete, and that the initial batch of fish (i.e., the catfish) were thriving.>
This time, I bought eight veiltail juveniles (~2 cm) from a different store, figuring that the correspondingly lower bioload couldn’t hurt and letting the fish grow up together might keep bullying to a minimum.
<Yes.>
I removed the corys (who were, and still are, healthy), drip-acclimated the Bettas as before, and added them to the tank with virtually the same parameters as above.
<Understood.>
By the next morning, I had lost two of the eight; not good, but not as bad as before. Once again, the dead fish had no visible signs of significant damage or disease and water parameters were normal as above. A day later, I was down to three (water still fine!); and the next day only two remained. Again, no marks on the bodies, and the survivors were behaving normally and appeared healthy. I am hoping that they will remain so tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath.
What am I doing wrong? Is there some secret to Betta sororities that I am missing?
<I would first try and establish if the water chemistry in your tank is very different to that of the pet store. If one has soft water and the other hard, that can be an issue. Similarly, is your tank similar in terms of temperature and water current strength? I'd probably let the new tank settle for another couple of weeks before adding any more fish. Let's be sure the tank is settled. I would not be adding any medicine -- unless the Corydoras panda got sick -- but instead focus on optimising living conditions. Remember, Fungus, Finrot and likely Columnaris are sitting about in all fish tanks, but only become dangerous when fish are damaged or stressed. It's not like you can eliminate them from your aquarium permanently. Their spores are in the air, and on plants and new fish, and eventually will find their way into your tank, even after using antibiotics.>
Should I just treat the tank with a broad-spectrum antibiotic when I add them, as a preventative? Please help!
<See above.>
Thanks in advance,
Linda
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Betta sorority blues ...     4/10/18

Hello again Neale, and thank you for the quick reply!
<No problem.>
I have to apologize for my previous email … it was written while I was up past my bedtime, distraught from finding dead fish. After re-reading it with your reply this morning, I realized that I’d somehow forgotten to include even the tank volume ... talk about scatterbrained! Anyway, I think I wasn’t completely clear about some of the details initially. I re-cycled the (empty) tank with ammonia after the first round of Bettas died, because the combination of Kanamycin + Nitrofurazone pretty much crippled my biological filter (I left the bio media in during treatment because I wanted to make sure that none of the nasty bugs were hiding out in the filter).
<The thing with most of these opportunistic bacterial infections is that you can't really eliminate them from the system, any more than antibiotics eliminate bacteria from our homes, cars, workplaces, etc. All the medication is meant to do is kill the bacteria inside the sick fish, or at least slow them down enough the fish's own immune system can kick in. For sure the bacteria should be killed off in the aquarium, and perhaps the filter too, but the various Aeromonas and Pseudomonas species would be back in no time at all. Ideally, you'd remove sick fish to a hospital tank with a chemical filter (i.e., Zeolite/ammonia remover in an air-powered box filter or similar) so that could treat the fish without stressing the filter bacteria. But failing that, you can remove some filter media to a bucket and leave it there, warm and wet, until such time as it could be put back into the main aquarium AFTER you'd finished with the medication. That said, many aquarium medications are filter-safe, if used correctly. As you probably know, not all antibiotics work against all bacteria (or else we'd only need to use penicillin in all of medical science!) so the manufacturers choose antibiotics or antibacterials that don't seriously affect the filter bacteria.>
I only removed the (filter floss + carbon) cartridge because it would have adsorbed the meds.
<Correct; carbon would be unhelpful here.>
It took about a week of dosing ammonia before the filter was back up to capacity, and I replaced the filter cartridge with a new one at this point. The corys were added in as ‘placeholders’ for a week or so just to keep the bacteria fed, and removed once the new Bettas were added because I was essentially quarantining the Bettas in their display tank. Thanks for the info about C. panda, by the way … I guess I’ll have to stick to C. aeneus once I get the tank stabilized ...
<Corydoras aeneus and Corydoras panda are the same so far as temperature goes, 22-25 C being ideal; of the widely traded Corydoras species, Corydoras sterbai is the only real 'hothouse flower' seen, doing well between 24-28 C, hence its moniker as 'the Discus aquarium Cory'. The somewhat bigger Brochis species are tolerant of warmer water, too.>
I am happy to report that my two surviving ladies are still with us, and so far they appear healthy; eating and swimming normally, no signs of distress or disease.
<Good news.>
Tank parameters as of this morning were as follows:
US 29 gallon, 25 C, pH 7.2, dH 5, ammonia/nitrite 0, nitrate ~5 ppm.
<Sounds good.>
As far as how my parameters and temp/current strength compare to the pet store conditions, these ladies were packaged in unheated cups like their male counterparts — I did test the pH in the cups before adding them, and all were between 7.0 and 7.4. I didn’t take the temperature, but I’d guess that room temperature in the store was about 22-23 C, whereas my house runs about 25 C. As far as current, the turnover is a bit over 6 times/hr and I keep the water line fairly high so that the current doesn’t penetrate too deeply below the surface (also so the filter doesn’t make a huge racket). I could definitely add a sponge over the intake to slow the current a bit, if you think it would help.
<If the Bettas seem to be struggling, then diffusing the outflow of water might well be useful -- directing the outflow at the glass wall of the tank or through a spray bar can help. I wouldn't block the inlet unless that was the only option -- forcing the filter to work harder than it's designed to could shorten its life.>
The current is fairly strong right under the filter output but they aren’t being blown around the tank or anything.
<Which sounds fine.>
The fish were drip-acclimated to the tank water over the course of about an hour since they couldn’t really be ‘floated’ in a cup. I will definitely check the gH of the store water next time just in case they are using liquid rock (definitely a possibility around here, if they are using tap water), as my water tends to be fairly soft.
<Definitely a consideration.>
What would be a reasonable time frame over which to acclimate any new fish (in a separate quarantine tank) to a lower gH with water changes?
<Really hard to say. Some scientists reckon such adaptation actually takes days, if not weeks. Certainly if at all possible, I'd have the new livestock in a tank of their own with tap water similar to the retailer, and then do, say, 20% water changes each day, until the end of the week, by which time any differences between the quarantine tank and your own would be trivial. Alternatively, and perhaps more practical if you don't have a quarantine tank, is to adjust the main tank to close to tap water across one week, add new livestock, and then adjust it back again over the following week. Of course you'd now be exposing any existing fish to a water chemistry change, but done slowly this isn't necessarily beyond what they're evolved to handle. So not ideal, but better than flinging in fish from one set of conditions to another if you suspect the water chemistry change is severe.>
Further, should I add new fish one at a time or try to do it as a group (again, after a reasonable quarantine period) like before?
<Oh, I'd stick to adding two one week, two the next week, that sort of thing.>
Cheers,
Linda
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

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