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FAQs on Freshwater Environmental Disease 5

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater DiseasesChoose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: Environmental Disease 1, Environmental Disease 2, Environmental Disease 3, Environmental Disease 4, Environmental Disease 6, Environmental Disease 7, Environmental Disease 8, & Cycling Trouble-Fixing, & Toxic Situations, Popeye/Exophthalmia, Nutritional Disease, Aquarium Maintenance, Establishing Nutrient CyclingAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Gourami laying on the bottom - 6/7/07 Hi, <Hello to you!> Your website is wonderful; <Thank you:-)> I have been reading the Gourami Disease section in search of ideas for my situation, but didn't quite find what I might do next, so here goes: <OK- ready> My urgent concern is our dwarf red honey gourami: last night he was at the top of the tank in the corner near the heater, barely moving and not interested in food; now, he is laying on the bottom, breathing heavily. I cannot see any obvious symptoms (no white spots, no injuries, scales look OK...) <First thing to check is environmental conditions.> I have had him (?) one week. <Did you quarantine this fish prior to adding him to your aquarium? You should always, always, ALWAYS QT new livestock for 2-4 weeks, to observe for signs of illness and to prevent bringing any diseases or parasites into your main tank. With regard to whether you've got a noy or girl, usually the coloration is the best way to tell- the males are much more vibrantly colored, whereas the girls are paler...I suggest doing an image search on Google to see the difference for yourself.> Aquarium details: it is an Eclipse 12 (12 gallon), with 2 live plants (Amazon sword, pennywort), 2 rock features, and currently has 3 zebra danios, 4 platies, 1 small sucker fish, the one gourami. Current readings are PH 7.6, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 40, temperature 78. <A 12 gallon tank isn't much room to play with stocking schemes. Although the dwarf gourami (Colisa lalia) doesn't reach much over 2", it does require very good water conditions to stay healthy, and this is harder to achieve in small systems. I'm glad both the ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero, but nitrates should be no more than 20 ppm. You should do a water change ASAP to lower the nitrates. Question: did you cycle this tank prior to adding fish? How long has the tank been established? If you don't know what I'm referring to, please read here for a helpful introduction: http://www.tropicalfishcentre.co.uk/Cycle.htm With regard to the "sucker fish", do you have any idea of the fish's scientific name? Is it a common pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus)? If so, be aware this fish should reach over 12", possibly up to 18" in its adulthood...a 12 gal. tank is way too small to accommodate it. I can't say for certain this is what you have, but many times when folks say "sucker fish", this is what they mean. The zebra danios (Danio rerio) also cannot tolerate poor water conditions at all, and will succumb to bleeding or ulceration of the gills if they are exposed to ammonia even in the slightest. These fish prefer being kept in schools, but you obviously must have the space for this. Also, the zebra danios can be nippy...keep an eye out for unduly aggressive behavior, which can be exacerbated by small living quarters.> I'll give a bit of history, as there has been a lot going on in this last week. A week ago, we had the 3 zebra danios, 2 platies, 4 serpae tetras. One of the tetras died. A water test showed our nitrates too high (80) so we did a 25% water change (we usually do this every 3 weeks, we've had the tank since January). <OK- let's pause here. In a fully stocked 12 gallon, I would suggest doing a 50% water change weekly. You must ensure that ammonia and nitrites do not ever exceed zero, and again, nitrates can only safely be as high as 20 ppm (but lower is obviously preferable). I imagine that there's been a good deal of toxic buildup during the 3-weeks before your water change is due. I highly recommend you step up the amount and frequency of water changes ASAP. Also, how often do you change the carbon filters? These should be swapped out at least every month.> We add 2T of aquarium salt, <OK- can promote fish slime coat production, helping keep everyone healthy> and got 2 new fish, <Why would you do this when your water conditions weren't pristine? Not a smart idea...> the gourami and the sucker fish (and the pennywort). About 5 days later, one of the platies was dead (we think she had been pregnant as she was quite tubby for about a month, then a day or so before she died, she wasn't so tubby). <She could well have been pregnant, and I would imagine the gourami would have consumed the fry. Pregnancy and giving birth will cause some level of stress in fish (just like humans!), making the fish more likely to succumb to disease caused by poor environmental conditions.> The 3 remaining tetras were not getting along -- one was being a bully chasing after the others to where fins were getting frayed (in fact, the fins of the platies were too so maybe the tetra was after them). <Yes- not a good mix, especially in such a small tank. Did you research the compatibility prior to purchasing the fish? In the future, I do suggest doing so. In fact, when stocking a tank, it's best to pick one fish you "must" have, then plan tankmates around what the best companions will be. Obviously, you must consider environmental as well as temperament compatibility. I like to suggest David E. Boruchowitz's The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums for a helpful section on stocking (not to mention cycling, disease, etc. I must say, however, that I don't agree with that author's use of fish for cycling purposes...)> We returned all the tetras to our fish store; <Good.> they checked our water and found our PH at 8 (all other readings OK). <You truly should have your own quality liquid test kit, so that you can check ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH every week both prior to and after your water changes. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals puts out a good one which I personally use: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=4454&N=2004+114130 When you bring a water sample to your fish store, chances are the water parameters have changed by the time you get to the store, so you aren't getting an accurate reading. Not to mention many fish shop employees don't perform tests properly, or don't use quality test kits, thus giving false results. Also, "the water was OK" is so highly subjective that it is of virtually no use.> They gave us Neutral Regulator which we used (and now are PH is at 7.6, they recommended we wait a week until we try to lower it more). <Don't muck about with the pH! Stability is much better than precision, when you are dealing with relatively small changes. If your tap water is so off-the-charts, then I suggest switching to de-ionized or reverse osmosis/de-ionized water, which produces water of a neutral pH that must then be adjusted; otherwise, adding all sorts of chemicals can only cause pollution and instability, in my opinion. My best advice here is to throw the stuff out, and start doing independent research via books, periodicals, the 'net, instead of the fish store...> About the time we adjusted the PH is when the gourami began to act odd (in fact, as we added the regulator powder, the gourami was trying to eat it). <Obviously not a good sign. Truly, you don't need this product the store likely "pushed" on you. So long as the fish have been properly acclimated, they can accept a range of pH conditions. Better to concentrate on the toxins your tank's water is accumulating, as this is the likely cause of the fish's woes.> This was also the same day we added the 3 new platies. <You *must* stop adding new fish until you've achieved stability in a fish tank! You are only looking for problems by adding new livestock to an instable tank.> Maybe we did too much at one time? <Yes. Simplify what you are doing. See above for suggestions re: weekly water changes, stocking, etc. And please stop purchasing new fish - your tank is fully stocked!> I called our fish store today; without seeing the fish they wondered if there might be a gill disease. They recommended a small water change, so I've just changed out 1.5 gallons (adding salt to the new water). Gourami is still laying on the bottom...we couldn't decide whether to take him to the fish store so they could look at him or if that might do him in...Anything you can suggest is welcome. <Get a test kit. Test the water. Make sure ammonia and nitrite are at zero and nitrates no more than 20 ppm. If you don't have a test kit readily on hand, I'd suggest doing a 50% water change. I'd be willing to bet this fish is suffering from poor environmental conditions, that's all. Once you've ensured the water parameters are good, re-assess the fish's condition. If he's still not better, I'd suggest isolating him into his own hospital/QT tank; bringing him to the fish store will likely just cause undue stress. In the meantime, while you are waiting for him to recover, the best thing you can do is educate yourself as to basic fish requirements. The book I recommend above is a good place to start, but there are many others. Also, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm > Jana <Jana, start from the beginning. Re-assess what you are doing, since it isn't normal to lose so many fish in such a short period of time. Once you get the water parameters under control, I believe you'll have much more success in the hobby, and in turn, more enjoyment. Best of luck, Jorie>

Re: Another case of poor environmental conditions doing the FW livestock in... f' gourami laying on the bottom  6/10/07 Thanks so much for your reply. <You are welcome, Jana.> You've given us tons of useful information and links <Hope I've helped> (my 9-yr-old daughter is the "official" owner of the tank, but I am closely involved...). <Sounds good. Definitely great that your daughter is interested and wants to learn, but good that you are involved as well!> Our gourami has since died -- we took him to our LFS and they examined him and researched on the web/in books and concluded it was a combo of parasites and a bacterial infection. <Did they give you specific reasons for their conclusion? Forgive me, but based on what you've told me of this store so far, I have less than great faith in their diagnosis. A truly good book to invest in is The Tropical Fishlopedia (authors Burgess and Bailey) - it is not as easy of a "read" as the previous book I suggested (Boruchowitz's Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums), but is very useful in helping to diagnose and treat illnesses. At this point, I would advise you to obtain as much information from independent sources as possible. This isn't to say the LFS (local fish store) is always wrong, but I've just found so many times it's safer to do your own research and be a non-reliant upon a store as possible.> They suggested we treat our entire tank <You don't ever want to medicate your entire tank - you will destroy your nitrogen cycle, and likely many of the fish in the process. This is another reason I suggest you try do educate yourself without the help of this LFS...this was truly bad advice on their part.> and gave us BettaMax blended antibiotic capsules (to be used for 3 total treatments, one every other day) and loaned us a oxygen pump to add more oxygen while we do this and told us to take our carbon filter out. <They are right that medication can rob the water of its oxygen content, and also right that the carbon will remove the medication. However, I do not believe they were correct to suggest you medicate the whole tank. Having said that, what's done is done and you may as well finish the treatment (same concept as human antibiotics; best not to stop mid-course). Be aware that you will have to re-cycle the tank, so you should be keeping a very close eye on water parameters via your own test kit.> We have given the tank one treatment; so far all remaining fish look happy. <Keep a close eye.> Readings: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20 (guess that 1.5 gal water change yesterday helped). <Time to do another water change is the nitrates are at 20. I'd suggest a few gallons at least...> I think your conclusion that we let the nitrates get too high (and need to do water changes more often replacing more water) is indeed what got us into trouble. But shall we stop the medication treatment at this point? <I wouldn't - see above. But I would suggest continuing to do water changes during treatment; the directions may say something contrary, but you don't want to re-create the problem nitrate situation again. If you are treating every other day, I'd suggest doing water changes on the "off" days (caveat: you must test your water frequently and do more water changes if necessary - with livestock in the uncycled tank, it's a bit of a catch-22, but ultimately you must remember that fish cannot take buildups of toxins.) We do not QT our new fish; after this experience it shows that that is definitely a good idea. <Yes - so many of us have learned the "hard" way. I once purchased a couple dwarf rainbows that destroyed almost an entire tank worth of livestock by not using a QT...it truly is a must in this hobby. You don't need anything fancy, just a tank, some sort of filtration, plus a heater and thermometer.> I will research what we need to set up a QT tank. Do you suggest that we just basically always keep a QT tank at the ready to accept new (or sick) fish? <I do not keep my QT tank running at all times. Usually I will QT new arrivals for several weeks, making sure that all is well. I then transfer the new specimens into their "homes" and leave the QT up for a week or so just to make sure the transition goes well. Then, I'll break down the tank and clean it well (using bleach, and rinsing very very well, even adding a bit of chlorine remover for good measure!) to ensure that any parasites are eradicated. That's not to say I haven't had to "urgently" setup a hospital tank in emergency situations, but I don't really see how that can be avoided...> We did cycle the tank when we got it. This was in January -- we did the Fishless method of cycling (based on articles by Chris Cow and Rebecca Townsend; it took a bit over a month and worked exactly as they described and we really liked the idea of not using fish to do the cycling). <Wonderful - I am so happy to hear this!!> So we do have a Master Test Kit (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals) and are pretty good at testing our water; but didn't test often enough these last couple months I'm afraid which led to our high nitrates. <Okay - sounds good. Don't beat yourself up, just learn from your mistakes. Somehow I got the impression your fish store was testing water for you (perhaps that was just a one-time thing, when you asked them for help?) In any case, I'm so glad that you have your own kit. So many folks don't, and that really isn't a good idea...> We had been changing out our carbon filter every time we did a water change; with your recommendation that we change water more frequently we will modify this to change the filter monthly. When doing a 50% change every week, do we vacuum the gravel each time also? <You want to get any leftover food and obvious waste products out, but I don't think you need to do a thorough gravel vacuuming each week. In all honesty, my freshwater tank is heavily planted, so I really don't "vacuum" per se; I use a piece of flexible tubing to remove debris resting on the surface of the substrate, and that's about it. Maybe try doing your gravel vacuuming once a month or so, and adjust as dictated by test kit results?> We usually take the rocks out but leave the fish & plants in -- will this still work? <Unless you're seeing a huge algae buildup, I don't think you need to remove all the rocks on a weekly basis- this can be quite stressful on the fish. I'd say just use your best judgment...of course if the rocks need scrubbing, you'll have to remove them, but again, I don't think that'll be necessary each week. Most importantly, just keep the water clean - simply siphoning out the water into a 5 gal. bucket seems to work well for me/us> And I'll leave the pH alone now as you suggest. <I do think stability is key here...the fish you currently have are not so very sensitive that they can't live in the 7.8 (or even 8.0) pH you mention. You just want to avoid big ups and downs...> Our sucker fish is not a common pleco -- they suggested this tiny guy who will not get very big but I can't read their writing as to what he is (looks like Ptoemclis? Ptounchs? -- maybe I'd better call them to find out!). <Hmmm...am looking in my freshwater encyclopedia, but cannot find what you are referring to. I would suggest calling (or perhaps Bob Fenner can offer an opinion when he posts this? In any case, I'm glad to hear this isn't a common pleco. At least you weren't duped into buying one of the latter by your LFS...one point in their favor!> We had some brown algae growing on our rocks and acrylic walls and they suggested he would help clean it up. <Aha - a clue! I'm thinking Otocinclus affinis - does this look like your little aquatic friend? http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=11332&genusname=Otocinclus&speciesname=affinis (be patient, www.fishbase.org takes *forever* to load, but it's a great resource/internet site) If so, *when* your tank is re-cycled and all your problems solved, I would recommend getting a couple more of these, as they do best in trios or more. And, I think that'll keep you within an acceptable stocking range, based on your previous information...> (The brown algae appeared about a month ago; we scraped it off at first, some grew back though not as much, and the sucker fish is so far keeping it pretty clean). <The otos will help with the algae, but a few additional pointers regarding algae control: don't overfeed, don't overlight (and keep the tank away from direct sunlight), and regular water changes. If algae becomes a big problem, check the phosphate levels, as these will usually be off-the-charts. The above-mentioned remedies will usually control the situation, but there are also filter media available to help (I personally use and recommend the PolyFilter for assistance with phosphate control). So, we're left with our 3 zebra danios, 4 platies, and the sucker fish. I'll read your suggested reference about stocking; my daughter is keen to get another fish or two but it sounds like your recommendation is that our tank is full (and in the future we will go slow on getting new additions -- I am disappointed that our LFS didn't slow us down on that). <Again, I do think a few more otos (if that's indeed what you have) would work, but only after everything is stable and well. Also, re-assure your daughter that your platys, being livebearers, will likely reproduce again, and again, and again...in fact, a bit of "population control" may be needed. Once you get everything stabilized, a single dwarf gourami may be OK, but again, these beautiful creatures do require very good water conditions. Just take it slow and you'll likely have much more success this second time around!> Thank you SO much for all your comments. Jana <Best of luck, Jorie>

Several questions from a new hobbyist...  6/4/07 > Hi all, <Hello.> > I have a few questions which I have tried to search for answers on your site but they didn't really answer them. <Don't forget the value of books.> > Here's my set up: > BiOrb 60L, it's been set up for about 5 weeks now, it has a mix of the ceramic media provided (which I will be phasing out slowly for pea sized gravel) and smooth 2 inch pebbles. > Temp is approx 70 - 78 in this hot weather but is usually about 64 - 68. > Ammonia = < 0.1 I have the API Master test and its a very strong yellow (0) > Nitrite = 0 > Nitrate = < 5 > pH = approx 7.8 after a 60% water change, usually around 7 > Stock = 7 White cloud minnows and 1 redcap fantail approx 2cm body length (latter added about 5 days ago) I did have a black moor for a about 4 weeks on his own whilst cycling the tank but lost him due to our inexperience. <Conditions sound fine for a 5-week old aquarium.> > I am currently removing between 12 and 24 litres of water every other day and testing at least twice a day and hoovering as much substrate as poss. when I do the changes - is this too much? <Provided water chemistry and temperature stay relatively constant, you can't do "too much" water changing. That said, water changes every other day may be overkill. From a purely practical point of view, you want a hobby that's fun, not a chore, or it'll end up getting neglected. Water changes of 50% once a week generally work very well with freshwater aquaria.> > I have just noticed that my redcap have started to get what looks like ich on his dorsal fin (2 spots) and about 2 spots per tail fin. Its difficult to tell as his body is pearlescent and his fins are fairly translucent. I don't have a second tank so I have placed him in a 12 litre bucket, 50% tank water, 50% new water, some substrate on the bottom for good bacterial and 2 teaspoons of tonic salt and 4 small oxygenating tablets replaced every third day). I am planning on doing 2 litres daily water changes replacing salts every other day with a teaspoon. I am reluctant to use medication or heat as I do not have a filter or air pump for this bucket. I have read that you need to treat ich for about a week and then another week before introducing it back into the other tank, but how long will the red cap last in the hospital bucket under these conditions? Is there any thing else I could be doing? <Almost certainly whitespot. Stop adding the salt. Pointless. Aquarium shops recommend it because it is highly profitable, not because it helps. Oxygenating tablets are likewise pointless. Instead, concentrate on [a] adding an anti-whitespot remedy and [b] simply doing good aquarium maintenance. Anyway, keep all the fish in the 60 litre aquarium, add the medication, and follow the instructions for the medication in terms of doses and water changes. You need to treat ALL the fish AND the aquarium because whitespot is very contagious.> > I'm also worried about the minnows in the main tank - a couple have been doing 'summersaults' and ramming each other - is this natural or are they too infected? They are too fast and small for me to access properly but none seem to have spots or wounds on them. <Whitespot is an irritant because it damages the gills, so some random flicking and other behaviour is a common symptom. That said, a 60 litre BiOrb is completely the wrong shape for minnows. Minnows are fast-swimming fish and need tanks with a long "run" for them to build up speed. They also need a strong current to swim into. This is their instinct, because they live in mountain streams. Keeping minnows in a BiOrb is about as sensible as keeping a giraffe in a garden shed.> > My main question I guess is what would I need to do to be able to use the bucket as a hospital / quarantine tank and keep the fish held in it alive and happy for the duration of the illness and would tonic salt alone eradicate the ich? Would it be a good idea to add warmer water on the daily changes, if so, to what temperature is a redcap going to be comfortable with? <No, put the fish back in the tank. Stop using salt. Warming the water irrelevant this time of year. Actually, likely to be counterproductive since goldfish prefer somewhat cooler water than tropicals. All the heat does is speed up the life cycle, which is important because the medication kills the swimming larvae, not the adults on the fish. But if you are patient, treating at room temperature works fine. It just takes a week or two instead of a couple fo days.> > Thank you in advance for you help. > Lucinda <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Several questions from a new hobbyist...  6/4/07 Thank you so much for your help! <No problems.> I will set about getting it sorted out. Re: the minnows in a BiOrb - they tend to race around the tank VERY fast non stop doing laps i guess :) I understand that they like a long run, but wouldn't an endless circle provide that? I only ask as I'm a bit worried about them now you mentioned that its unsuitable. <I see your logic, and it makes sense. But sometimes fish aren't that logical... Part of the problem may be the BiOrb is narrow at the top, and that's where the minnows prefer to be. So expecting them to swim deeper down the water column where the tank is widest may seem sensible, but goes against their instincts.> Again! Thanks so much for you help and speedy reply :) oh and I quite enjoy water changes and it would explain why the minnows come sit under the current when I'm adding new water :) <Absolutely! White cloud mountain minnows are classic stream fish (their name, Tanichthys albonubes translates as the "fish Tan [a Chinese boy-scout] found on the White Cloud mountain". You really can't have enough water movement for these little guys. It's worth mentioning in this regard they're the opposite of goldfish, which prefer sluggish or still conditions, particularly in the case of fancy goldfish.> Lucinda <Cheers, Neale>

HELP!! Poor English/Anglish, FW mis-mix, env. dis.   5/23/07 hi, <G'day> my question might seem a bit amateurish compared to the intelligent ones I've been reading... <There are no stupid questions. But there are questions stupidly written, e.g., without capital letters and weird (no) punctuation and bizarre spellings of regular words.> ...and can i just say, my partner and i are very new to this  raising an aquarium thing and i have found ur... <your...> ...website to be a godsend  especially as we live in isolated australia and the web is about all the info we can get. <Australia is a great place to keep fish! I know a few fishkeepers there who collect native stuff like mudskippers and perch of various sorts, and am VERY jealous of them!> some background on our fish, we have a 3ft tank with 2 angels 2 blue acaras 1 tiger barb 1 pictus catfish 1 bolivian butterfly and 2 peacock cichlids and we do partial water changes weekly and they are fed a varied diet. <An interesting mix of fish. Some need soft/acid water (angel and acara), others hard/alkaline (the peacock cichlids, presumably Aulonacara sp.). Some are small, some big. Temperament-wise at least more or less compatible. Mind you, I have no idea what a "Bolivian butterfly" is (though I'm guessing Microgeophagus altispinosa) and the tiger barb really should be in a group. Oh, and the "stream of consciousness" lack of commas also made that list *lots* of fun to read.> we have previously had some ph problems but all the fish were strong and pulled through it. yesterday we added a new ornament to the tank, its quite large and i rinsed it under tap water to get rid of dust etc b4... <before...> ...placing it in the tank. we have checked the water and all seems fine but 2day... <today...> ...their appetite was lacking and the acaras and cichlids are swimming at the top of the tank as though they are having difficulty breathing, the angels also which has my partner worried bcoz... <because...> ...our angels are very sturdy fish. they put their mouths to the top of the water as though trying to suck in air. they've never done this b4... <before...> ...and they're breathing is very quick and looks to be very hard for them. I'm hoping you can give me some insight as 2... <to...> ...whats... <what's> ...going on as this has my partner quite spooked, he loves these fish very much and doesnt want 2... <to...> ...lose them. KC <Casey, I had to read and re-read this twice just to follow what the heck was going on. Do you normally write at this standard or are we special? Anyway, without knowing at the very least the pH, hardness, and nitrite level in the aquarium, it is impossible to say precisely what is happening. When fish become jittery and gasp at the surface it almost always means that the water quality and/or chemistry has suddenly changed for the worse. It sounds as if the ornament has caused a problem. Was it sold as an aquarium ornament? Only use aquarium-safe ornaments. Also, do you have an undergravel filter? Plonking a big ornament on the gravel kills off the bacteria in the gravel below the ornament, reducing the filtration capacity of the system. This will result in a rise in ammonia and nitrites. Either way, take the ornament out, do a 50% water change now and another 50% tomorrow. Don't feed the fish. At the least this should "reset" things to where they were before. Check the pH, hardness, and nitrites and only when they have returned to where they should be begin feeding the fish again, and even then small amounts. Track the water chemistry and quality every couple of days, just to make sure things have recovered. Despite your suggestion Australia is isolated from the aquarium world, I'm sure you have bookstores on the Island Continent and no doubt can buy an aquarium book. Do so, read it, and then press on with this wonderful hobby. Cheers, Neale>

Help EMERGENCY!!! Poor set-up, maintenance... FW dis., env./infectious   5/14/07 i have attached 3 images i have two fish and in the photos i have circled the point where the problem is, their tails are starting to rip and developing some white stuff what should i do? i previously had red sword fish which developed this problem and died so can you please help me before these fish die? <Greetings. The immediate problem is Finrot, which can be cured using any one of various commercial medications. However, the cause of the Finrot is almost certainly poor water quality. Check the ammonia or nitrite levels in the aquarium and also the pH. Goldfish need zero ammonia and zero nitrite, and a pH of 7.0-7.5. Your photos seem to suggest a small aquarium with cloudy water, suggesting inadequate filtration. Goldfish need a big tank (30 gallons minimum) with a filter that provides at least 5-6 times to volume of the tank in turnover per hour. This is slightly *more* than small tropical fish, which is one reason goldfish are *more* demanding than, say, guppies and danios. Big weekly water changes are essential, at least 50% per week. Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm  Cheers, Neale>

Dropsy? FW system prob.s...   5/8/07 Hi Crew, I have been searching around for days to figure out what is going on I love your site, lots of useful info, I have some answers, but I am still lost. Sorry for the long e-mail, I just want to be sure I let you know all the circumstances. <Good> Parameters: 35 gallon open top planted tank Substrate: flora base by Red Sea (mixed with some gravel in 2 years it got all mixed) 2 wood pieces + 1 rock with Java fern Some other plants in the base (not sure of the names) Flow trough and substrate heating Canister filter (adequate for the tank, cleaned with water only about 2 month ago) CO2 injection Temperature 81 degrees PH ~7.2 GH 60mg/l KH 40mg/l (I have just discovered that out tap water Vancouver, BC is this soft (straight from the tap GH < 20mg/l). I did the last test in Nov/06 and the GH was 200 mg/l, KH was 120mg/l I am not sure why <... oh, below> probably one of the rocks that I removed since than made it that hard.) 0 ammonia/nitrite, 0 nitrate (very low anyways, home test has hardly any pinkish hue) Water change and cleaning: cleaning once a week water change 25% Additives used: Aqua plus & Cycle (as recommended), <I'd drop this last... not necessary...> after getting the discus 2 month ago started using Tetra Blackwater extract (previous owner recommended), <A good product> small amount with every water change. Melafix 7 day ¼ dose treatments 1xper month, KENT Zoe Freshwater vitamin & mineral supplement Food: Omega One products, freshwater and color flakes, sometimes blood worms and brine shrimps. Fish: 2 discus <Will/need more room than this> 16 cardinal tetras 8 head and tail light tetras 3 Cory cats (peppered, three stripe, sterbai) 1 flying fox 3 shrimps (Caridina japonica) History: My husband had this aquarium at work. We brought them home in Oct./06. Many of the fish were sick (not the cardinals). Pop-eye? some gill disease? dropsy?... and some blue algae. I took over, increased cleaning, cut food and light for about a week, started Melafix and after losing a few more fish they recovered. Except Prince, he was the last remaining head and tail light, but he seemed to be getting better and his gills were starting to heal. Two month ago we got 8 cardinal tetras and Boo and Dori, the discus fish. With one wood and one rock with java fern. Ongoing issues: Thin oily looking layer on the surface foams up when the co2 <Is this a DIY unit? Fed by...? Or a straight gas/valved feeder? If the former, the feeder stock and yeast might be all that is at play here> is going, I take it off with paper towel every day <Good> it has a strong dirt/soil smell Slow blue algae growth <This could easily be largely due to the DIY carbon dioxide device as well... That your pH is still so high... is indicative> I remove as much as possible every day Fish behavior: Head-and-tail-lights: It seems live we have about 4-5 males (used to be very colorful) and the rest are females. They used to be moderately active, after water change play around dancing. But usually they chase each other. The flying fox (?) is 2 inches, hasnt had a visible stripe ever. He is yellowish and the stripe is hardly visible. He is very aggressive, chases even the head and tail lights. <I would switch this fish/species out for an SAE or two...> Stays away from the cardinals and the Boo & Dori (discus girls). Big Boy (Three stripe Cory) has been just sitting around, I havent been sure that I saw his/her) mustache? barbels? at all for months. <Mmmm> Head and tail light Prince still had the open sore on his gill on one side. New issues: Tetras became lethargic (unless I bring out the food), some are slightly bloated. Mild to moderate fin-rot on all (!) of the fish (most on peppered Cory but he is the most active) Smaller discus had quite a big piece missing from her fin.   Some plants started rotting out from the bottom. <... something amiss here environmentally... I would "pull the plug" on all additives, and the CO2 unit... Look into blending RO water here instead... changing a good bit of this out two, three times a week (maybe 20-25%)> Plants dont look healthy Three striped Cory's (Big Boy) condition deteriorated in 2 days pretty badly now I see pop eye as well and he is very bloated (dropsy?) <A condition... from what cause/s?> Changes made 3 days ago: Increased GH (90mg/l) and KH (60mg/l) as the previous one was lower than what was recommended for most fish but I am not sure if this was a good step as there was no change in behavior or condition. <How changed?> Changes made 2 days ago: Added salt 1tbs/5 gallons <I would NOT add much salt here...> next morning all the fish were active, but as I turned the light on back to being sluggish. <Due in part, VERY likely to the coating on the water surface AND boosted BGA/Cyanobacterial presence...> Today they looked even worse, so I finally set up a small hospital tank totally bare w/heater, light and AquaClear quick filter and started a Maracyn-two (Mardel) 5 day treatment for the 8 head and tail lights and the three cats. I used the water from the main aquarium so there is still salt and Melafix in it. It is 5 gallons only is it ok size??? <No> (I can understand that the sick fish has been around spreading bacteria but as he acted healthy (still does) I had no heart to kill him.) So that is where I am. But WHY did it start? What did I do? <The system, additives, CO2 additions... reverse... Stop using, dilute.> Is it ok what I am doing? <No> Can the very soft water cause the stress? <Can add to... but don't think this is an issue here> What kind of hardness do Corys prefer? <Posted on WWM, fishbase.org by species... typically rather to extremely soft... but most species sold in the trade have been through many successive generations... are rather "plastic" re their tolerance, range of this, other chem., phys. parameters compared to wild stocks> Can you tell if I am doing something wrong from my (very detailed sorry) description? <Good guessing perhaps> Can one very aggressive fish cause stress and sickness for all (8 head and tail lights and 3 cats) fish? <Does add, yes> (I noticed some damage on Doris fin one day. The day before I was very upset with Boo as she was chasing Dori I dont know why) I would really appreciate your answer, Sincerely, Eva & Chris (and the whole Gang ;-)..) <The RO water blend (see WWM re), stopping with the chemical additions, diluting the present water, removing the Epalzeorhynchos... Bob Fenner> Gourami and Guppies, env. dis.   4/19/07 Now, I don't want to come across as a total ditz when I post in the forum, so I thought it'd be better if I just asked this way. I apologize for the length.    <No worries, and no worries>   A few weeks ago, a purchased a little red Gourami from PetSmart. He was in perfect health except he had a little red spot near his mouth. This eventually went away. Recently, I've noticed a red spot on his side. It looked like internal bleeding or something like that. So I completely cleaned his tank thinking maybe it could be something in the water. It's a 5 gallon (or at least I think it is.) tank. I haven't bought a new filter yet, but he seemed to be doing fine without it since I clean it every week. <Mmm, how?> I've been putting water conditioner (a capful) and aquarium salt (a teaspoon) in the tank. But since the last time I cleaned the tank, he hasn't been eating (nor have my guppies, in fact, they're acting strange too.) <Yikes... environmental stress... Likely you'd be able to see this with water quality testing> and the spot on his side now looks like it has some sort of white, crusty thing coming out of it. It doesn't look like a worm, or ich. I've looked all over the internet for a cause and I can't find anything. But other than the spot and loss of appetite, he's fine. His color is still vibrant and he's behaving normally. <Might be "just the fish"... having trouble with declining, vacillating chemistry, physics...>      Now my guppies on the other hand, are a different story. They're both fancy male guppies. The one has what looks like fin rot, and has been losing color. I've been feeding them the recommended food, and the other guppy isn't aggressive. This happened with a female I had a few months ago. But other than that, he'd been fine. The second guppy is absolutely gorgeous. He's experienced no color loss or anything. But a few days after the last bowl cleaning (I've got the guppies separated from the Gourami cause I'm afraid he'll eat them), he's been acting strange. He hardly moves his gills, and he shimmies in one spot. The other one is taking on this behavior as well. And yet again, I've looked all over and found no cause. I'll give you any additional info you need, but please help. <Well... what you/they really need are viable systems... Heated, filtered aquariums of size... Any "treatment" is just going to be a "band-aid"... not fixing the root cause here... You should read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above where you lead yourself... and get on to saving your livestock ASAP. Bob Fenner>

Gourami and Guppies, env. dis. 4/20/07 Well, as it turns out, when I came home yesterday, Gourami's condition has worsened. After looking at the infected area more, it appeared as if, around that area, that the scales were falling off. He was swimming around the top of the tank. Suddenly, it got to the point where his swimming became erratic and he couldn't stay up. He sat at the bottom and came up for air when needed. Shortly after, he died. I boiled the tank and everything in it. I transferred the guppies from bowl to tank. They seem to be doing somewhat better. <Clean water.> The water in the tank stays warmer than the bowl because of the light,  so now the water temp. should be around were it's supposed to be. <Need to get a heat, stable temperature is important.>  They still won't eat and the one's tail is still in bad shape. I'll take some pictures and send them. <Honestly no pictures are needed.  The source of your problems are environmental.  Completely cleaning the tank destroys the bio-filter and allows ammonia and nitrite to accumulate and kill your fish.  Please read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm for more.  A heater and filter are absolutely required to keep these fish healthy.> <Chris>

Reddened Clarias Catfish, Env.  4/18/07 Hello and thank you for your help with my previous unrelated questions. Unfortunately, I need advice again. I have searched your site for information on this problem without luck (but, I have learned much in the process: the best resource I've found so far. Thank you for that and all the inspiration you guys/gals provide!).    <Thanks>   The problem is with a ~12-14 inch Clarias catfish (Clarias batrachus is legally kept where I live in Canada). <Yes... likely too cold to survive outside... is still the only nationally illegal fish species in the U.S. I believe> Normally this fish lives with a mate in a 75 gallon tank. I separated him/her to a 30 gallon tank about six weeks ago because I thought there was an aggression problem. This catfish appeared to be stung by the other's venom spine (yes they have one, I've been jabbed too; like the worst bee-sting ever!). <Yes... have experienced this a few times... many years ago> I saw the wound at the base of the pectoral fin. Also, there were missing whiskers on this fish. <Yikes!> The pair have spawned before but I guess they are outgrowing the 75 gallon. The whisker stumps and wound were reddened, and I also noticed the roof of "his" mouth was fiery red.    <Secondary "infection" post high trauma... You were prudent to separate them>   After moving this fish to the 30 gallon, <Needs much more room... diligent water quality testing, change-outs, stepped-up filtration> and doing every other day water changes (has a large HOB filter with sponge and Zeolite/carbon, small amount gravel substrate, water parameters listed below). I waited about ten days expecting the redness to diminish, when it didn't, I treated him with Kanamycin for ten days (removed carbon/Zeolite). He was also doing some food spitting. I cut back on feeding, then stopped feeding, for about five days, then offered some earthworms which he gobbled.       The situation now is: six weeks later I'm still doing every other day water changes, I've continued feeding earthworms every other day alternated with chopped squid (with some powdered human multivitamin added) and OSI sinking pellets on the other days. He's eating very well and is active in the tank. While the wound near the pectoral fin has healed, the whisker stubs and the roof of the mouth remain very red. The whiskers show no sign of regrowing. When these fish have lost an occasional whisker in the past it has always regrown. <Not if bitten "too far back"> Also, I don't no if it's significant, but "he" has very visible capillaries all along his underside which I don't see on the healthy fish. The healthy fish has rapidly outgrown "him" as well in the last few months despite his eating well. I've had these fish for 2 years since they were fry. I'm starting to think this fish was becoming ill in the 75 gallon and the aggression was a secondary insult. <Maybe...> There are no signs of illness in the 75; water changes there are 35% every five days. Any suggestions as to why this fish is not healing, or anything else I should do/change? <Mmm, if you have no other system, I'd move the sick individual into the 75, the healthy one into the 30... but really, both need more room... like at least a 125 to be together... pipe or other to hide in...> Tank water: PH 7.5, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and about 5-10 nitrate. Temperature is 75F. I attempt to keep the parameters the same in the 75g too (fanatical about water quality in my tanks, despite irritation to my spouse.....). Thank you and best regards in advance, Anna. <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

6 deaths in about a week...Help!  4/18/07 Hi <<Hi, Paul. Tom with you this trip.>> I've had tropical fish for 5 months now and up until now, I've done a very good job with almost no fish loss at all.  Now, all the sudden, they seem to be dying almost daily.  Tonight I noticed my guppies mangled corpse floating in a corner.  That makes 3 dwarf gouramis, two dwarf platies, and a guppy lost.  I've been doing 10 to 15% water changes about every two days, and have had my water tested as frequently and it has consistently come back normal.  Tonights test was zero ammonia, nitrites, a little nitrates (20), ph 7.2, water slightly hard.  My tank temp through all these deaths has been about 82. <<A little warm on the temperature, Paul. 78-79 F. would be more to my liking for the group of fish that you have. Water holds less oxygen at elevated temps. and additional aeration/surface agitation via an airstone, or two, or a bubble wand would be a good addition to the tank.>> My first loss was a new Gourami and I wonder if the stress from a night of the power (and filter), sputtering on and off through the night might have done it.   <<This is possible, Paul, but I really think you need to look elsewhere. Power failures, even short-term ones, can be catastrophic on SW/reef systems but FW tanks are generally more forgiving of these.>> My 2nd and 3rd Gourami losses looked very unhealthy and had abnormal looking eyes, or mouth.  I have one more and he appears to be perfectly normal.  Both dwarf platies and my guppy looked perfectly normal until I spotted them dead, and these platies were not new, they both cycled my first tank.    <<A cumulative effect perhaps. Few fish are able to go through the cycling process unscathed. Simply surviving the ordeal doesnt mean that they havent been adversely affected by the toxins they were subjected to.>> My question is: (and I'm grasping at straws here), could my frequent water changes be hurting?  I take a 5 gallon bucket, put about 5-7 drops of API stress coat in and fill it with tap water.  I then immediately put it in tank.  Does this create an initial chlorine spike which can kill the fish? <<The frequency of the changes is more problematic than the methodology though this might be improved on as well. Chlorine is immediately neutralized provided a sufficient quantity of dechlorinator is administered. You may want to double-check the product to ensure this is the correct amount for the quantity of water youre exchanging. Also, you want to let the new water stand for at least a while overnight is ideal - before adding it to the tank. There are gases contained in the water that need to dissipate. If nothing else, agitate the water by giving it a good swirl with your hand and pour the fresh water in slowly. (I use a five-gallon bucket for my changes and know this part is a little easier said than done. :) )>> Filter:  I bought the Top Fin 29g, then 55g starter kit from pet smart.  I was amazed how much louder the filter was on the 55g.  This 55g tank has always had a slight film on the surface of the water, and it appears to bubble easily.  Is this a sign of insufficient filtration?   <<Contradictory as the situation seems, given the number of water changes youre performing, this film is almost invariably the result of dissolved organics in the water. If it has a soapy feel to it on your fingers, you can bet that this is the case. Also explains the easy bubbling. (If the bubbles remain on the surface rather than bursting nearly immediately, youve got another good indication of the problem.) Now I draw you back to the potential lack of oxygen due to warm temperatures. Bear in mind that oxygen exchange occurs at the surface of the tank. (Why we admonish folks against cutesy tall tanks with a lot of volume and little surface area.) The film you speak of could very well be inhibiting/prohibiting adequate oxygen from getting into the water. Is the film due to insufficient filtration? To an extent, certainly. Your nitrate levels are a bit high at 20 ppm. Safe (curse me for using that word!) but higher than we like to see. Do you perform a deep vacuuming of your substrate when changing your water? Its unbelievable how much mulm/detritus can build up in your gravel. Are you feeding sparingly, i.e. only what can be consumed in two-three minutes? How about your filter maintenance? (Rinse the media in tank water removed from the aquarium, not tap water!) Any, or all, of these can contribute.>> Although it appears to pump normally, could this be my problem?   <<Most decent-quality filters have a bypass capability designed into them. Even if the media is completely blocked with goo, the pump will continue to pass water adequately around it.>> Trusted friends guessed the film was due to something I put in the tank, but the ONLY thing I have in this newer tank is two pieces of driftwood which I bought from a pet store and they were cleared for aquariums. <<Sound enough thinking on the parts of your friends here. Not all aquarium décor is as aquarium safe as we might led to be believed. I dont think thats the problem in your case though. Id look into the points Ive already posed to you.>> Any ideas would be greatly appreciated as I experience the not so fun aspect of this hobby...fish loss. <<Youre singing my song, Paul. Weve all been there at one time or another and youre right, its not fun. Best of luck to you.>> Paul <<Tom>>

Motionless fish  4/5/07 Hi guys <Greetings!> I have a small tank with mollies, swordtails, platys and Neons in it and because the summer was very hot (I am from South Africa) I didn't need a heater (water temp was around 28-30 degrees Celsius most of the time). Because our autumn is approaching and the temp is dropping (was about 24 degrees), I installed a heater yesterday and set it for 27 degrees. <None of those fish should object to 27C.> All of a sudden some my fish started to became very relaxed and almost motionless. <Perhaps they were startled by it, thinking it is some sort of predator?> I turned the temp down to 25 degrees but some of them are either just floating around or laying on the bottom of the tank. <Very odd.> A few are swimming fine.  What can be the problem - the heat or do you think it is something else? I don't want to lose my fishies! <Almost always the first thing to do is check the water, at least pH and nitrites. Also check the water temperature: I can tell you from personal experience that the setting on the heater and the actual temperature of the water are totally different things. In a small tank on a sunny windowsill you can set the thing to 25C but the temperature will rise up to 30C without problems. Conversely, in a big tank in a cold room, it might be set to 25C but the tank is actually a lot colder than that. So get a thermometer and find out the temperature at the other end of the tank from the heater. Also make sure the flow of water is going past the heater, otherwise all the heater does is warm up one corner of the tank.> Thanks a lot for your help! <Well, let's hope it helps!> Warm regards Shelley <Cheers, Neale>

Molly and Neon Tetra Health Questions, env.  3/16/2007 Dear WWM crew, <Ching> I love your website and learn a lot from here. Thank you. <Welcome> I have a 15 gallon tank with 2 Cory catfish, 3 black mollies and 7 neon tetras. <Mmm... the Cats and Neons like very different water conditions than the mollies... soft, acidic, much warmer... no salt...> Environment: Water PH: 8.0 (Our tap water is pretty hard.) <I'll say! About the same here in San Diego> Temperature: 25~26 C Nitrate: 20~40 ppm <Way too high... a source of stress...> Nitrite: 0 ppm Ammonia: 0 ppm One male molly has "obvious" mouth fungus and noticeable grey spots on his body. As I heard Cory catfish and neon tetra do not like salt, I did not add aquarium salt to the tank. <Good> I used Melafix and Pimafix together to treat the black molly. The second day and third day I could see the improvements and thought the medicine worked great. <Mmmm> As the medicine indicated we can use it when intruding new fish to the tank, so while during the course of Molly's medication (on the fourth day, I think) I added 4 neon tetras to the tank. The 7 neon tetra were doing fine and schooling around together. The black molly seemed to be getting better too. However, yesterday (the 8th day of the medication) black molly's mouth started to show the fungus again and I saw a couple of grey spots on his body. Should I use other medicine, stronger one? Or I should continue the ones I am using? <I would separate the molly/mollies, treat it/them with salt... Keep it in another setting> Today (the 9th day) I saw a red spot on one neon tetra's body, which is near the tail. I am not sure what it is an have no idea what I should do. It looks like human's bruise just the color is red not purple. Anything you could suggest? <Yes... to modify their water chemistry (w/o the Mollies present)... to be softer/more acidic (pH below 7.0)...> I have had this tank just for two months and enjoyed it a lot. But, there's still so much to learn to keep my fish healthy. <Lots of valuable lessons about life...> Thank you again for all the information you provide on the site. It is really helpful! Yours truly, Ching <A pleasure to help you, Bob Fenner>

Cloudy water, dropsy and Popeye... Goldfish dis.    3/14/07 Hi Guys <Yvette> Hope you can help me?  I have two fancy fantail goldfish about 18  months old now.  I have just nursed one back from swimbladder and having  changed his diet to lost of green veg and live food - <Good> he appears to be  fine.  A couple of days ago I noticed his mate was really listless but no  other symptoms.   Yesterday he had swollen up incredibly and has pinecone  like scales on one side.   <Yikes... a dropsical condition... actually called "Pinecone Disease" in some languages... e.g. Japanese> I rushed out to get some Interpet # 9, did a 50%  water change and added 2g per litre of aquarium salts.  I tested PH once  change and medication complete and all was fine.  This morning (he is  swimming about a bit and has eaten a little) the water is exceptionally  cloudy. <Yes... you've likely "bumped off" your beneficial and not bacteria... I would be checking/monitoring ammonia, nitrite... and have plenty of conditioned water on hand for change-outs...> Should I change the water again and redose with the salt and  medication?   <I would try Epsom Salt...> Is there anything I can do to make him more comfortable or  not?  I know the prognosis for this kind of infection is not good but I'd  like to do as much as possible...Their tank is 35litres and they are both about  2 inches excluding tails.  Their water is changed (about 30%) every week  and checked for PH, nitrite, nitrate and hardness.  With the swimbladder problem, your site had some fabulous "alternative" remedies which  seemed to work wonders but I guess no such "miracle" is available for bacterial  infection? <Mmm, no... depends on the type of bacteria involved... and is necessary to get the medication inside the fish... FW animals by and large do not "drink" their environment like marines...> Anyway sorry to ramble but worried about my poor fish Thanks Yvette <Please read here:    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Jackhammering Vibration & Fish Stress  3/13/07 Hi Crew, <Hello Debbie.  Brandon here tonight.> They are coming Friday (3/16) to put pilings under the addition at the back of the house to lift the foundation which requires jack hammering through the floor in about 4 places.   <Doesnt sound like much fun.> The tank closest to that area is my 30 gallon freshwater tank.  I've noticed that if the front door accidentally slams the poor fish jump from that vibration, so I'm thinking how much more is this jack hammering going to stress them.   <It is likely that it will stress them yes.> It will only be for one day, but they will be jack hammering inside the house which will be within 10 feet of the tank. <One day perhaps, but how long for that day?  This activity is likely to cause some temporary stress.  I dont think that they will start floating belly up because of it.> I was thinking of moving the fish and the shrimp to a small Rubbermaid tub in my back office with my saltwater tanks until they're done. (Fish: 5 Neon Cardinals, 6 Danios; 1 Kuhli Loach, 3 Corys, 3 Amano shrimp)   <If you were to do this, I would recommend moving the whole display to the office, and leaving it there for a few weeks before moving it back.  I all actuality, I would rather let the workmen do their job with the tank in the room, rather than move it.  Moving fish can be severely stressful.  You have to account for netting them, placing them in another container that will slosh them around as you carry it, and then re-netting them to place them in the re-setup display.  By contrast, two to three hours of drilling, and then its life as usual.  They can/will hide while the negative stimuli is present.  Then after an hour or two they will reappear.> I am also concerned for the inhabitants of my saltwater tanks (One 20 gal. pupfish; one 10 gal. reef with 1 shrimp).  Will the corals be affected by the vibrations too? <Possibly, what is their proximity to the proposed work?  I still would not worry too much.  Just look for unusual behavior.> Thanking you in advance for your advice. <You are most welcome.  Brandon.>   Regards, Debbie

Headstanding barbs - usually a sign of nitrate poisoning   3/1/07 Hello <Hi Rick, Jorie here> I have tiger barbs and green barbs.  Both are doing what I would call head stands  (i.e. they are nose down).   The green barbs are losing their colour.  They seem to hide for a while and when they come out they are doing these head stands.  Any idea of what I can do?  Is there a cure?  Water has been by the local pet store and they suggested I contact you. <This behavior is usually a sign of too-high nitrates. Did you by chance ask the pet store who tested your water what the actual ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH readings were? "Acceptable" can be a very subjective term when it comes to water parameters. Better yet, I suggest you invest $15 in a quality liquid test kit, something like the one put out by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. It's not too complicated and truly, it is better to have the kit and home and at your disposal, so you can test when you need to without relying on anyone else. How long has this tank been established? How large is it, and how many barbs are in it? Are there any other fish? My educated guess is this is a water-quality problem.  Without more info., I'd suggest doing a water change ASAP - it can't hurt, and may indeed help. Thank you in advance Rick McInnis <You're welcome. Best of luck, Jorie>

Re: Headstanding barbs - confirmed poor water quality - need to do water changes ASAP!  3/1/07 Thank you for your prompt reply.   <Sure> I have further information re the water. The PH is 8.5 (normal for this area) , the ammonia is 0/1ppm, nitrates is 5mg/litre and nitrites are 0.01 per litre.  This was given to me by the local pet store after testing my water this morning after receiving your reply. <Did this store tell you these parameters were "OK"? If so, don't ever go back there again - they are morons! Sorry to be so blunt, but that's really bad.  In any case, ammonia and nitrites must always be at zero when livestock is in a tank; nitrates can be as high as 20 ppm.  You need to do a large water change ASAP; invest in your own test-kit (my favorite one can be ordered here, if you like: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000255NCI/sr=8-1/qid=1172781451/ref=pd_bbs_sr_olp_1/104-6447593-2649521?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden - but, if possible, see if you can buy it locally (but NOT from the original store in question, please!)) I have also changed the water in the 35 gallon tank.   Do these levels appear to be normal to you and if not what should I do. <They are not normal, and your fish will likely die if more water isn't changed ASAP.  Start "preparing" more water (treated tap water, DI or RO/DI filtered water) ASAP and reduce the levels of ammonia and nitrite fast.> Just to let you know there are 5 barbs and 2 catfish in the tank. <There won't be much of anything if you don't dilute these toxins quickly...> Thank you once again. Rick <You're welcome.  I'm appalled that the fish store said your water was fine - once you get everything under control, I'd recommend you talk to the manager.  That's not acceptable AT ALL.  Sounds like your tank may need to cycle - read here for add'l info.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm The good news is this is a problem that can likely be 100% rectified by improving the water quality. Good luck! Jorie>

Poor water quality likely causing pop-eye: get those nitrites down to ZERO!   2/26/07 Thank you for responding so fast. <I try - sometimes I'm better than others:-)> I am an amateur, moved up from goldfish bowls to a ten gallon and now to a 55 gallon. <Great! I think many of us have done something similar, but in reality, we make it much harder on ourselves, as larger tanks are generally easier to maintain than smaller ones...> I have 2 Angels, 2 Balas, 5 Barbs, 1 Rope fish, 1 Pleco, and an aquatic frog. <Sounds good. Not overstocked, and I recommend keeping it that way!> We have one pet store in our small city and they are not very helpful. <So often the case.> When I originally e-mailed you, I had just done a water change. The water was all out of whack. I have since done another water change (about 20%). Here are the levels: NO2 - 0.3, NO3 - 10, NH3 - 0, PH - 7.5, NH3-N - 0.02,GH - 200 and KH - 100. From what I can understand of these tests, the amounts are not the greatest but not as bad as they originally were. <I'm sure the levels of ammonia (NH3), nitrite (NO2) and nitrate (NO3) were reduced by the water change, but the bottom line is that ammonia and nitrite MUST be at zero while fish/livestock are present.  Do another water change ASAP to get the NO2 back down to zero, and keep testing until this result is reached.  Nitrates can be as high as 20 ppm, but obviously, lower is better...> As far as my Bala goes, if she has pop eye, will she be ok? I have an attached picture of her eye. <First off, you've got to get the water conditions under control.  Once you've done as many water changes as necessary to meet the above parameter requirements, then you must keep it water stable...if it were me, I'd suggest doing 5 gal. water changes twice/week for the time being (of course, altering, if need be, based upon test kit results).  The pop-eye in the picture doesn't look too advanced, and I think proper water quality will likely rectify the situation on its own.  If the eye doesn't clear up on its own, then you should isolate this fish and treat with Epsom salt, and the rate of 1 tsp./5 gal. of water... Jorie>

Poor water quality likely causing pop-eye: get those nitrites down to ZERO! Too late, fish are starting to die.   2/26/07 Hi Jorie, I have be doing water changes every other day right now. Water parameters are: Ammonia still at zero, nitrite is at 0.8 now. The rest are stable. <You've GOT to get the nitrite out...keep doing as many water changes as it takes...> The Tiger Barbs have been hovering around the pump. The Bala remains at the bottom of the tank. The one Bala and the Barbs have laboured breathing. The rest appear fine (this is a problem as the adult Angel died during the night, showing no apparent symptoms). I went to a pet store in the city this morning, following are their instructions: Take out the carbon filter. Turn heat up to 78%, 4-6 hours later turn to 81%. Use Melafix as per instructions. Use sea salt, 1 tbls per 5 gallons. I am starting the treatment with all the fish. Do I still do the water changes? <If it were me, the ONLY thing I'd focus on right now is removing the nitrites.  As mentioned before, this reading MUST be zero, whenever there's livestock in the tank.  Do you prepare your own water? Have you ever tested the source water? Do you let the water age prior to using it, or alternatively, do you use some sort of chlorine/chloramine remover?  You can, at some LFSs, buy RO/DI water in 5 gal. jugs...expensive and heavy, but may work well in this sort of emergency.  Bottom line, while the nitrites remain as high as they are, your fish will continue dying.  MelaFix, salt, heat, etc. will do absolutely NOTHING to help this. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm (re: the latter, it sounds as though this tank never "cycled". How long has it been established? What was your usual water change schedule like prior to this emergency?> Cheryl <Cheryl, continue with the water changes, testing as you go along.  You cannot stop until both ammonia and nitrite are reading ZERO.  That truly the best (and really only, in my opinion) thing to do right now...focus your efforts where they need to be focused! Good luck, Jorie>

Electric Blue Cichlid. Lot Of Work For No Good Reason   2/23/07 Help! I have a electric blue cichlid that is very sick, and I am afraid he is going to die.  Yesterday, the thermometer in my tank broke, exposing the lead pellets in the tank. < These little metal pellets are no big deal. Nothing needed to be done.> I did a 100% water change, <Bad idea>   bought new rocks, and bought new bio-wheels and pads. < Not needed> I now have him  in the newly cleansed tank, and he is laying at the bottom, upside down.  He is a little pale, and is barely breathing.  When he does swim he spirals, and swims very sporadically, upside down, side to side etc. ...I really don't know what to do, I don't want to lose him, he is my favorite!  I am giving him MelaFix antibacterial fish remedy.  Do you know in particular what disease he has?  He also has some light green areas on his body, and his fins look awkward to me, like they are rotting.. but I don't think its fin rot. Thank you so much. Brad < Your fish is in a brand new environment with no biological filtration. All the bacteria that was on the bio wheels and in the gravel is gone. Put the old wheels back on or get Bio-Spira from Marineland. Hopefully you treated the new water for chloramines.-Chuck>

Broken Thermometer   2/22/07 I have a Bala shark he started acting strange (swimming into wall of tank).  I cleaned tank and found broken thermometer, the mercury still in tact, but I wonder if substance around it is lead and possibly poison.  I have removed all ceramics, replaced  gravel.  Alkaline and pH look good.  Algae eater , Cory catfish, & 2 dwarf frogs seem ok.  Shark on the other hand continues to swim into walls of aquarium.  He has  white spots kind of like ick.  We are five days into this.  Is there something else I can do for my fish?  Thank for help. < The alcohol in the thermometer and the little metal beads are no big deal. Raise the water temp to 82 F <<RMF would raise to 85F>> and try to get rid of the ich. If medication is needed, use Rid-Ich Plus by Kordon and remove the frogs until the treatment is complete and the medication has been removed.-Chuck>

Please Help Solve my mystery... over-treated, killed off nitrifiers, toxified with "clarifier", no mystery   2/20/07 **Stuff is bolded so you guys can "skim" all my rambling haha.** <Can't see in the response tray...> Hi, It's Brittany again.  I've been *having some problems*.  Alot <A lot> of my fish have died, and my tank is no longer a mostly-molly tank.  Here's my current set up, please look at the pictures too. <Pix didn't "come through"> *Fish :* 1 female 24 Karot Gold Molly, 1 female lyretail Dalmatian molly, 1 male black and gold sailfin molly, 1 male Moscow guppy, 1 male cobra guppy, 2 female fancy guppies, 3 Cory catfish (I'm pretty sure 2 are male and the other is female), one "sucker fish".  I have 5 molly fry, 1 guppy fry, and 1 young sucker fish "separated" in the tank. *Water:* *Hardly any salt* since I'm all out, *78 degrees*, Has* tap water conditioner* in it... and is *currently very green*. <... something wrong here... Nutrient abundance, lack of filtration...> This "green" issue has been going on for quite awhile now.  At first, *it would happen every once in awhile*.  Once some of my fish started getting sick,* I would treat them with medication*. <... what sorts? Most of these are toxic... to the fishes, other life in the system> After medication was used as directed, or sometimes before the full "7 days", *the water would become cloudy and foggy looking*. <Yes... killed off your necessary beneficial (filter...) microbes>   A few times I finished the medication use to see if it was just "normal".  When the cloudiness didn't clear up (after a few 25% water changes and such), I bought some "Water clarifier".   <Also toxic> That stuff was a nightmare and made my tank even worse, and no, it didn't "clear up after a few days" as some pet store people had said.  So, I resorted to my last option: full water change. <...> *My fish were dying and I wasn't going to sit there and watch them continue to suffer. With limited funds, I didn't have the means to buy some miracle product.* <There is, are none> After the full change, my water was so clear, I had forgotten what it looked like to be so beautiful!  The fish were happy, spanning their fins and sails, and chasing their reflections. <Except it isn't cycled...>   *When two more fish got sick, I again used the medication...* <.......> and when the water began to cloud again and turn greenish, I was frustrated.  *After about a 50% water change, the tank was clear again.*  Since it was my favorite male (Tyson, as you may or may not recall), I was not going to do nothing about it.  *So, I submerged a 2 gallon tank into my 28 gallon tank (since I only have one heater) and installed a 3 gallon filter for the smaller tank.* <Good> Here is where I placed Tyson for medication treatment.  At first he was ok, but then he started to lay on the bottom and become depressed.  I tried a few things... blah blah blah, it's off topic... but as sad as it is to say, my poor Tyson died.  I believe he has Tuberculosis or something untouchable and incurable of the sort. <Poisoned> Through his death and the *method of separation, I learned that separating and medicating a fish this way WOULD NOT cloud my water*.  So, of course, when my young male catfish got some modified "Version" of pop eye, I*separated him out in the same way *.  When my male sailfin got sick with Popeye, I added him in with the catfish.  Here is where the cloudy water mystery began. * I only medicated the small "bowl" inside my tank.  Yet, somehow, 2 DAYS after I began medicating these two fish, my main tank is green as green gets.*  I can hardly see my heater on the back "wall" of my tank, and I'm amazed the fish can see.  A few days before, this happened when I was just medicating the catfish, so, *I did a 50% water change, and that seemed to clear things up.* Now, two days later, my tank is the greenest I've ever seen.  *There is no algae build up on the glass and the cories and sucker fish are thriving.* My lyretail molly, like all the ones before her, is fading. *I don't know what it is about my mollies... especially lyretail, but they all end up the same... with this "curving of the spine" and then death.  The fish never appear "sad", as in, they don't separate themselves out of stop eating, until minutes before they die.* So, the mystery... for a recap because I know I'm "long winded" in all aspects of communication: *1) My fish are lessening by the week* <No mystery here... they've been poisoned by your treatments, are in an uncycled system> *2) my water is hopelessly green and cloudy despite partial water changes* <Ditto> *3) My lyre's don't ever survive!!* <Again...> The only catch.. I don't have any money.  I'm a young adult going to college this summer, so I still live with my parents.  Money goes towards gas.  I have full access to a HUGE kitchen with all sorts of things that may be "natural remedies" for cloudy and green water. <Actually... none necessary, advised> I don't have money to replenish my aquarium salt, but there's plenty in the kitchen which I have not used in the tank.  I have Melafix and Pimafix, <Worthless> API Stress Coat, Tap water Dechlorifier/ Conditioner, and different food sources.  Please help me fix my problem and save my fish with the resources I have available. Right now I'm going to do a "full" water change of my tank.  I have removed and scrubbed my filter because it had algae collected in it.  The filter is still good for another week. Again, sorry for the long email! I'll bold the important stuff or something for a quicker "browse". ~Brittany~ <All you need is your (obvious) intelligence, and to apply yourself... Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above... Your system is uncycled... you've been poisoning your livestock... Bob Fenner>

Tank Disaster! FW tank mysterious loss... all e- in one basket?  - 02/15/07 Hi Guys <Lesley> First of all, I just want to thank you all for this wonderful website for us fishy types! It's a God send! <More of a WWM Crew-send> Now onto my problem! We are currently looking after a guppy tank for our neighbours who are on holiday. We've looked after it (and their cat) before and have plenty of experience as we are keepers of tropical and marine fish ourselves. It's reciprocal, we look after their fish, they look after ours. And, no, the cat did not eat the fish! <Heeee!> Anyway, they went away on Friday and we've been on fish duty since then. However, over the last 48 hours nearly all the fish in their tank have died. <Yikes!> The tank has guppies - male, female and babies, and one pleco (about 3-4 inches). I'm guessing the tank would be around 10 gallons. <Too small for this Pleco...> My husband fished the pleco and 5 guppies out of the tank this morning. He fished two others out yesterday. They show no symptoms of disease and didn't look to be in distress earlier in the week. We haven't done anything differently this time around - we fed them the usual amount in the morning etc - and are very distressed that this has happened while they have been in our care.  Our neighbours don't know yet. They return on Friday and I'm not going to 'phone them beforehand to ruin their holiday. <Good... I wouldn't either> Of course, we will pay for them to buy new fish and anything else they need as a result, but this won't really compensate them properly.  We are carrying out water tests tonight when we get back from work so may have some more information for you tomorrow.  The tank has been set up for years (we've been looking after it for years) so I really can't understand what has happened this time. It's bad enough when this happens to your own fish, but when it happens to fish you've been looking after for someone else - well, I am sure you can imagine how we feel. <Yes> One thing we did notice this time around (although not on previous fish sitting occasions - probably because we managed to feed the cat earlier in the evenings, before the tank light switches off), was that not only do the lights go out on the tank at night but also the pump and the heater! <What? Someone mis-plugged them into a timer?> We only turn the lights off on our own tanks while leaving pumps/filters and heater running.  It may well be that they have always run their tank like this - I guess I'm just clutching at straws really trying to find a reason for what happened. <I suspect someone accidentally re-plugged them here...> Have you got any thoughts based on my initial email?  I will let you know what the water tests reveal but would be interested in any ideas you may have at this stage. Lesley Saxton <About the only other thing that comes to mind (the electrical is very likely at fault here), is a "bug" of some sort flying into, poisoning the system. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank Disaster!  - 02/15/07 Hi Bob <Les> Thanks for the prompt response.  When I go 'round there tomorrow to confess our sins to them, I'll ask them about the heater and filters going off at night with the timer. <Real good> Meantime, water tests taken last night revealed that ammonia was fine but that nitrite was high (lovely purple colour). Obviously, some sort of nitrite spike occurred. <Yes... though could be associated (post) with the die-off> I would like to think that a bug got in and poisoned the system, to salve my conscience, but the tank has a top on it so unless it sneaked in during feeding, I don't think this is the case. <Me neither... but "these things happen"> Thanks for your help though and keep up the good work! <Thank you... am endeavouring... Bob Fenner>

Sudden fish deaths - stress or bad water? Both  1/29/07 Hi folks, great site, I am learning a lot but. <Mmmm...> We have a 45L (about 10 US gallons? <Closer to twelve> We're in the UK) spherical tank made by Aqua El. <Have seen these... pretty, but not very functional... not much surface area or filtration capacity> When we move we intend to replace it with a much bigger tank but right now we're really short on space. It's a year old and to be honest I think the design is poor. <Yes, agreed> It obviously has a low surface area: volume ratio which is further reduced by a filtration system that draws water up into a 'channel' that sits across half of the top opening (the lid with lights sits on top of this). <Ah, yes> There are two 'cages' in the 'channel' one with a sponge and one with ceramic pieces. Anyway we set the tank up a year ago, cycled and planted then added 4 x-ray tetras a 'leopard' Corydoras, a plecostomus (I hope we can get him that big tank soon) <Yes... can't live here... too small a world> and some platys. All was well for a month or so then the platys started to die. Not all at once but when one went, it was overnight. The rest stayed healthy and spawned although the babies seemed to die off, either eaten by the X rays or because something was wrong. <Likely directly or so environmental...> Plant growth was mixed. Some died off and some have flourished, one broad leafed plant has produced huge leaves (brown in colour) and long runners that have produced new rooted plants at the ends. Algae has come - and gone - and come - and gone. Sometimes hairy, sometimes a green slime. Overall though there are a lot of plants but I think the built in light struggles to penetrate so they are brownish and a bit straggly. <Again, I agree with your analysis> I changed 20% water once a week by adding a dechlorinator to cold tap water then toping up with boiled water to temperature. The dechlorinator worried me as the surface of the tank always had a scum on top, often with blue bubbles! I also added a weekly dose of Tetra plant Plantamin. The filter sponge got a rinse in tank water, the ceramic pieces I left alone unless really clogged - in which case a minimal rinse. <Good> Anyhow, after all but one original platy and one 'adolescent' baby had died, I made a few changes. I raised the water level so that water leaving the filter no longer fell as a waterfall back into the tank as I thought the strong current might be stressful. I also put an airstone into the centre so the water surface was broken (hoping to help oxygen exchange as I'd reduced surface area even more). I changed the dechlorinator to TetraAqua AquaSafe and also began to use TetraAqua EasyBalance which supposedly reduces nitrate and phosphate, stabilizes pH and adds 'vitamins, trace elements and nutrients'. <Good choices> All seemed well, there was much less surface scum and the change in current meant we saw the X rays for the first time swimming around as opposed to hiding. At Christmas (foolishly) we took 7 platys from a friend. They have a similar sized tank with maybe 40 platys, grown from fry from their initial half dozen. They were healthy (they 'never' change the water, forget to feed - benign neglect but never lose a fish) and settled in fine. After a fortnight though we lost the last of our original platys and our 'adolescent' began to look peaky. Yesterday one of the new ones developed what looks like dropsy in a few hours and is barely clinging on. X rays and catfish are as fit as ever. What might be wrong? I suspect too many fish=stress=low resistance to disease but I wonder if I'm using too many chemical additives or my water is poor. Testing shows the following: Tap water today. Ammonia 0; Phosphate 4 ppm, <Way too high> Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, <Borderline high> pH 8.0 <High for the species listed> GH 50, KH 20+ Tank water. Ammonia 0; Phosphate 3, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40, GH 50, KH 30+. GH could be higher, it's at the far end of the dipstick colour chart. I'm going to test daily for a while, see if anything fluctuates. Is there anything else I could do to improve the water I put in? <Really? I do wish you had started with a more suitable habitat... If you intend to keep this one, I would mix half tap/source/mains water and half something more pure (like Reverse Osmosis) during change-outs... and increase their frequency to perhaps twice a week... and no more fish/stock... this volume, shape is unsuitable> For the future, I could put the tap water and dechlorinator into a bucket and leave it for a few days before a change (although tap water left 'open' here for 48 hours tastes awful and seems to leave a slimy film behind). I could maybe not add boiled water but use hot tap water or keep the bucket warm? <RO, DI...> I also wondered about using say 25% deionized water to lower the hardness? <Ah, yes> When we move and get the big tank I'll think about RO systems and so on, right now I'm hoping for easy to make changes :-) Finally, I worry about the amount of 'mud' I have to remove from my filter sponge and wipe out from the 'channel'. It seems to get very dirty in a week - is this normal? <Yes... a poor design as you note> Many thanks for reading this far - any advice will be much appreciated. Charlie <Your note shows your concern and intelligence... Again, I can only hope that you go on to become a bit more involved in the hobby, with a larger, more suitable environment. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Sudden fish deaths - stress or bad water? FW env. dis.   1/30/07 Thank you for your reply. I shall have to maintain this setup for a while. I'll increase the number of water changes, mix my tap water with deionized water and continue to use the tetra aqua products. Oh and I won't add any more fish! Cheers, Charlie <Sounds like a plan! BobF>

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