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FAQs on Freshwater Infectious (bacterial, fungal) Diseases 2

Related Articles: Freshwater Fish Diseases, Freshwater DiseasesFW Disease Troubleshooting, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, Understanding Bacterial Disease in Aquarium Fish; With a gallery of bacterial infections, a discussion of Fish TB, and a listing of major antimicrobial medications with examples available to fishkeepers By Myron Roth, Ph.D.,

Related FAQs: Infectious FW Diseases 1, Infectious FW Disease 3, Infectious FW Disease 4, Infectious FW Disease 5, & Finrot, Dropsy/Dropsical Conditions, Aquarium Maintenance, FW Parasitic DiseasesAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid DiseaseBetta Disease 1

Guppy Dying, Columnaris   6/24/07 Dear WWM, <Ws> Good morning. <And to you> I just setup a new fresh water tank for my daughter. 200L, I get the water ready 4 weeks ago and before I put in the new bought fishes, I put in a few of my current batch of fishes from my other tank (which I have it for >1 year). After confirming no problem, I then put in 8 Guppies (2 male, 6 female), 4 gold fish (small one, 1" length). <Not good to mix tropicals and goldfish... see WWM re> The tank is ok for first 2 days, then I put in some stone/rock. The 3rd day, I found 2 male guppies died + 2 gold fish. I notice another female guppy has discoloration at tail (the shape is ok, no broken/rotten). It die on the same day (3rd day night). <I see this and it's not good...> The discoloration is somehow from about 1mm.sq. area propagate to the whole tail then infect the body within 10 hours. On the 4th day, another one was infected and die on the next day too. Today (5th day), found another has discoloration again (attach photos). After reading some of your articles, I put in some anti-bacteria yesterday, but looking at I still get more infection, I quarantine the infected female guppy and put in some para-guard (from Seachem), and now it turn up-side-down. <Which antibiotic? Most will NOT treat for this> The 2 gold fish is fine, and I put in another 2 new bubble goldfish yesterday and didn't notice any abnormality too. Can you advise? Thanks. Rgds, Ws teoh <This looks very much like Columnaris Disease... see re this term and Chondrococcus on WWM, the Net... Again, I would not mix these fishes... WOULD likely just stick with the goldfish at this point. Bob Fenner>

Re: Guppy Dying - 6/25/07 Hi Bob, thanks. my daughter (8 years old) very surprise that there are "fish doctor" in the internet. Ha! Ha! She ask me to thank you (she has been asking a few times to make sure I do send out this message)... :) thanks a lot. rgds, ws teoh <Welcome my friend. Life to you and your daughter. BobF>

White "fuzzy" growth, FW   6/4/07 We just added two new fish to our established aquarium last week. We noticed the other day that the Gourami that we added has some sort of fuzzy white growth mostly on it's bottom fins, but has a spot or two on it's top fins. We've dealt with ich before, but this is definitely different. <Almost certainly fungus or mouth "fungus". Ordinary fungus looks like long white threads and has a similar appearance to fungal mould. Mouth fungus tends to be greyish, the threads are shorter, it looks slimy, and it is caused by a bacteria, not a fungus, despite the name. Either way, you need to treat the aquarium at once. Anti-fungal remedies are available and many treat both kinds of disease in case you aren't sure which you have. Regardless, fix the cause as well as the symptoms. Ordinary fungus may be caused by physical damage (it's similar to gangrene in humans, basically an infected wound) but both can be caused by poor water quality. Check nitrite/ammonia, water chemistry, and reflect on your maintenance regime.> > More strangely, we've noticed that one of our mollies that we've had since we started the tank seems to be eating off of the Gourami -- doesn't seem to bother it. This same molly has just in the past 2 days become quite aggressive towards all of the fish in the tank except for the Gourami. <Mollies can be aggressive, especially when kept in small groups. For many reasons I don't really rate mollies as community fish, and this is one of them. They're great fish, but best kept on their own in a nice sized school in brackish water. Anyway, there isn't much you can do to "fix" this, beyond removing the offender to another aquarium. Your molly is equipped with rasping teeth that it uses for its normal diet of algae. If such a fish persistently scraped at another fish, the result for the poor victim will be loss of skin mucous and eventually skin damage. So you need to nip this problem in the bud.> > Can you give me ANY advice or information on what might be going on? This is my 6 year olds tank, and I hate to see any losses, considering we've finally had a few good months following our ich difficulties! <Male mollies are aggressive, and will threaten all sorts of fish. I've seen Sailfin mollies threaten Australian rainbowfish, for example. It's a hard-wired behaviour and there's zero you can do about it. In a large group of male and female mollies it doesn't matter and actually adds to the charm of these fish. But if you have one particularly aggressive molly in a community tank, it can be disruptive. Adding additional mollies to create a group of six or more might help, but my caution here is that the lifespan of mollies in freshwater aquaria is not high. They need (at least) very hard and alkaline water with zero nitrates, and are simply easier to keep in brackish (or marine!) aquaria. This really comes down to a simple fact: not all fish sold as good community fish by retailers are actually good community fish at all. One random thought is diet. Are you providing any greens? Mollies should be eating 75% green foods and 25% regular foods. Blanched lettuce, thinly slice cucumber, spinach, Sushi Nori, algae from a garden pond, vegetarian flake food, and algae wafers should all be the standard foods your mollies get. Without these foods, they *may* be sampling alternatives for want of their correct diet. Try adding more greens and see if that helps.> > Thank you so much! > Suzy <I hope this helps, Neale>

Re: white "fuzzy" growth -- aggressive molly  6/4/07 Thank you so much, Neale! <No problems.> > I teach, so I can't get out during the day, but we'll be on our way to get treatment for the tank as soon as school gets out! <Very good.> > I have a small 3 gallon tank with a running filter in my classroom that houses a male Betta and one other tropical fish that another teacher "donated" - I'm not sure what it is -- clear colored with horizontal black stripes. Is it possible to put the molly in that tank, or will he also likely be aggressive towards the Betta and the other fish? If I do have to "get rid" of him, what's the best way - most humane - way to do that? <No, the molly wouldn't work there at all. I can't really condone destroying a fish because it's inconvenient -- that's a case of the fish being punished because the human didn't do any research. Very bad karma indeed. The correct thing to do here is find him a new home. That shouldn't be difficult at all. Many aquarium shops will take back unwanted fish. Alternatively, set up a 20 gallon tank just for mollies! In a school situation they'd be great -- a group of mollies will breed happily, and in brackish water are *extremely* easy to care for. The baby mollies are fun for children, giving them a chance to see animals being born and growing up on a relatively fast timescale (a few months). Such a tank needn't be difficult or expensive to set up. You don't need lights, for example, and simple air-powered sponge or undergravel filter will take care of filtration perfectly. Cheers, Neale>

Do other animals have to die? No prev. corr...  2/5/07 After much research I have determined that my Danios have died from the TB disease you discuss. <Really? Mycobacteriosis? On what basis?> I understand that I must shut down the whole tank, sterilize with bleach, etc.  Does this mean I have to put down my other fish?  Are they infected?  I am now down to 3 neon tetras, an African dwarf frog, and a yellow snail. Thank you! <... Not so fast here... I do not think you necessarily are experiencing such an infection... Nor do I believe your other livestock are doomed... I would take a look/see, and wait approach here. Bob Fenner>

Red Devil Cichlid With Internal Infection  1/2/07 Hello I have a Red devil cichlid that I got that has swim bladder for the purpose of trying to save him. The pet store gave him to me free because someone brought him in. He is a nice looking fish and is about 6inches and I have put him in a hospital tank and then added Epson salt raised the temp to 84F and treating the water with poly guard as well as trying to feed the fish with Metronidazole and garlic guard mixed in with some food as well as some green peas and doing daily 20% water changes and carefully replacing  the salt and poly guard. But the problem is that the fish stays on the bottom of the tank and cannot swim but only scoot's around on the bottom of the tank on his belly. He sometimes will go over to the food that I place in the tank but can't get the food in his mouth because he can't seem to raise up to pick the food up from the bottom of the tank. He often lays on his side until he see's me in the room then he sits back up on his belly. I noticed as well that yesterday and today that there was some blood in his stool. I have been treating him for about three day's now. Do you know anything else that I can do to get this fish better and how long do you think it will take before he gets better? Thank you for any help. <Remove any sand or gravel that can be abrasive to the skin of the fish. The infection has affected the swim bladder. Even if you cure the disease the swim bladder may not recover and become functional again. I would add Nitrofuranace to the mix and continue to treat for another week. These medications are not cheap. You probably could have purchased a healthy red devil for the money you will spend trying to save this one.-Chuck>

Wild Fish Introduces Wild Diseases  9/9/06 Hello! I've read many questions from others on your site in the past, but never have had to write my own before. Though you have vaguely similar cases this time, I believe mine is too different to go by the advice of others'. In the past 2 months, I had introduced a 'lake fish' (very small, less than the length of a penny) into my community tank. Just in the past 2 weeks, he died. I realized then the horrible mistake that I might have made, by introducing a parasite-ridden lake fish into my tank. After the lake fish's death, I started noticing my fish 'flashing' that is scratching against my tank decor and plants. I consulted my local go-to fish expert, and she gave me QuICK Cure, but told me to add half as much as recommended on the bottle. I did so for about 4 days, and the itching, I believe, ceased. I lent the QuICK Cure to my boyfriend for use on his tank, and that same day the itching reappeared. So I started treatment again. My 55 gallon tank currently consists of 4 angelfish (a marble, blushing, pearl, and silver veil-tail), a traumatized parrot (he was in a tank with Oscars, and is very timid), and a black balloon molly. I know it's a strange mix, but I started out with balloon mollies in my 10 gallon, and while the others passed away, I guess it wasn't her time yet. So she made the switch to my 55 gallon. Then, last night, I realized that my fish were noticeably much less interested in food (bloodworms, cichlid pellets, and flakes) than they normally were. I thought maybe it was because I fed them a couple hours later in the day, and for sure by the next morning they would return to their norm. I also realized my balloon molly was swimming a little funny, not very noticeably, but I watch my fish a lot. I made the prediction that she would die last night or today. I woke up this morning and she was dead in one of my plants (Amazon sword). Also, my fish were still very unenthusiastic about eating. Then, I noticed that my blushing and marble angelfish have red lines where their side fins attach. And the fish have all been uncharacteristically crowding on the right side of the tank where the filter and heater are. It's baffling, please help! My pH is 7.2, and I do 20% water changes weekly. Now I am very nervous that half a dose of QuICK Cure isn't enough... and I'm terrified that my other fish are in danger. I do not know, however, if it might have been my molly's time to go? Please help I am very nervous and very attached to my fish! < You have bacterial infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace or Kanamycin as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Medications With Snails And Frogs  9/9/06 Dear WWM Crew, Want to first say what a great site you guys have, and the patience you have for all the numerous questions you guys answer! I have tried looking through the Google search and forums regarding my  question, and wasn't able to find my answer, so I am asking you. My first question is regarding my black mystery snail.  I recently  gave it a soft leaf vegetable (Chinese vegetable called Xiao bai cai  which literally means small white veggie) and it is consuming the  entire thing.  I was wondering if you can actually overfeed a  snail, or will they stop eating once they are full? < They are exposed to all kinds of veggies in the wild and I am sure they quite eating when they are full.> My second  question is regarding the medication I have been applying to my fish  tank for fin rot.  I checked the applesnail.net site, but their  link to fish pharmaceuticals led to a dead link.  I am using  Melafix (active ingredient is Melaleuca) from Aquarium Pharmaceutical  Inc., and was wondering if it will affect either my black mystery snail  or my African dwarf frog? Thanks a bunch!  And keep up with the awesome work! Anson < Invertebrates and amphibians really don't like medications. Melafix would not be my first choice to treat fin rot. Stronger medications may harm them. I would treat the sick fish in a hospital tank with Nitrofuranace of Kanamycin.-Chuck> I have a male Bristlenose catfish, two years old he is four and half inches long. He is in a 300 litre tank, he used to be kept with Neons, Glowlights and platies. He was very happy, I fed him on catfish pellets, algae wafers, bloodworms, brine shrimps and daphnia. Now he is living with tinfoil barbs. he's not as happy and hides under the filter, he is only getting the catfish pellets and algae wafers, as the tinfoil barbs eat everything else first, I have noticed that he is not cleaning the tank as well for the past week. And he has a lump on his snout in front of one eye, I have telephoned all my local aquatic shops, no one seems to have heard of this before, I'm very worried, to me is looks like a cyst, apart from this his colouring and general condition is very good. I hope you can help me, as the children are very fond of catty! Wait to hear from you, Sue < As your Pleco roots around for food he probably injured himself on a piece of wood or rock. The area may be infected. I would recommend treating him in a hospital tank with Nitrofuranace or Kanamycin as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Freshwater Angelfish Finrot    4/9/06 I have 2 angels along with one huge goldfish which should be moving away in a few days (my moms co-worker wants him), <Good... mis-mixed here> 1 Gourami, 4 platys and 2 Corys in a 37 gallon tank. One angelfish's' tail, about 2 weeks after I got him from Petsmart, started to disintegrate. <Likely stress and poor environment in combo. working here> I asked around and someone told me it was Finrot. <A description, like your having a "fever" or "cold" that tells little to nothing re root cause/s> At that point I had him in a quarantine tank because I didn't know what it was. That was about 2 months ago. I did a water change and everything was fine except for nitrate which is still extremely high! His tail did stop disintegrating and it had gotten so bad that you could see part of his back, very close to his tail because everything was gone! It started to grow back and it still is really really slowly! Seriously, I have been waiting for it to get better for 2 months and it has only grown back about maybe 1/2 a centimeter! I know nothing is disturbing him that I can see because my other angelfish was getting it too on his tail, but it stopped soo much faster, But even with him the recovery has been slow, He still has much of a tail and it seems nothing is wrong with him but if you look real close you can see that at the top and the bottom of his tail, he has 2 strings showing how long his tail was. Nothing seems to be happening to either of their tails and I hope they will get better because the one definitely looks terrible without his tail! Is there anything I can do? Marc <Read... on WWM re FW Angel Disease, Systems... Bob Fenner> Double Whammy FW, Pleco, fungus? - 03/27/06 Hi, sorry to bother you guys but I have been reading your forum and I think u guys are great and full of info, I hope you can help me-I don't know what to do???!!!! I have a Pleco which I have noticed in the last couple of days has had some kind of stringy cotton-like thing hanging from his fins-no other patches or anything like that, I didn't know what it was so I decided to just watch him.  Well last night the cotton like web was all-over his dorsal fin, it looks like he went through a spider web and it attached to him, very strange!  I had to go to work, so today I went to check on them and saw that my guppy (female)-who is in the same tank- has some kind of cotton ball over her Right eye and on most of her face, and she looks really sick just laying there not doing well.  I'm looking to see if anything else is wrong with the rest of the fish (2 ID sharks, 1 male guppy) But the rest of them look fine. Except there is a white line on one of my id sharks that goes from his top lip to his bottom, very small but I don't remember if he has always had this!!!! I started searching what this thing on my guppy and Pleco could be and the only thing that comes up in my search is possible "cotton mouth"???? If it is this what do I do, I just started this 20gal tank and I don't have another one to isolate my fish into, also this is very contagious should I treat the whole tank with all my fishes in it??? And if so with what??? I'm very confused (new at this) But I don't want my fish to get sick and die! I just did my parameters: pH 7.4 AMMONIA 2.0!!!!! Nit:0---Ammonia is very high, I am going to do a 30% water change but in the mean time what do I do if my fishes if they have this horrible bacteria???? I also read in some sight that if my fish have this I should wear gloves when I do water changes, is that true?? If so why?? Thank you so much for your time, I hope you all can help me!!!! Wen <Hi Wen, Don here. Yep, that "Don", FishSoup in the forums. First thing we must do is lower that ammonia to near zero. You need to up your water changes to about 50%. Two the first day, a few hours apart. Then daily until ammonia and nitrite stay at zero without a water change. Also, please read here: http://www.fishyfarmacy.com/articles/columnaris.html. Sounds like a double whammy of a columnaris infection and an uncycled (or lost cycle) tank. They list a few meds you can use to rid the tank of the infection. The problem will be treating for the infection while you do water changes. The meds will need to be replaced during each water change. That can get expensive. Most will also kill off the good bacteria along with the bad. The use of a QT tank for the fish while allowing the main tank to run fallow (or bleaching and re cycling) will save a lot of money and effort. As you will read in the link I provided, a high amount of organic matter in the water is a contributing factor in the columnaris outbreak. I feel this will continue despite your best efforts until you heed the advice given you in the forum and return the ID sharks. There really is no practical way to keep these monsters in a home aquarium. The Pleco (if the "Common") will also outgrow your tank in time. But they grow much slower.>

Wasting symptoms in Zebra Danio   3/15/06 Hello, <Sharon> I had a 30L freshwater BiOrb containing 3 White Cloud Minnows, 2 Zebra Danios and a living plant. Water condition is good - Ammonia 0, Nitrates 0, Nitrites 0 and pH 7.6. About 6 weeks ago I lost one of the Minnows. Symptoms included enlarged abdomen (I initially thought it may have been pregnant) followed by (48 hours before death) bent spine, floating near surface and lack of appetite. In recent weeks I have noticed: *         one of the Danios appears to be wasting away i.e. is very skinny (although it is still eating normally and active), *         one of the Minnows appears to have an enlarged abdomen (also eating normally and active). I lost a second Minnow last night - not the one with the enlarged abdomen. I had been away for a couple of days and returned to find it with looking skinny with a bent spine. It also had swim difficulties (probably due to bent spine), lack of appetite and was floating near surface. I quarantined it immediately in salt water, but to no avail. I have searched your website and come to the conclusion that my fish may have either an internal parasite (bad) or TB (really bad). What do you think? <Could be... perhaps from just "initial" troubles (you bought them with this)... But could be environmental to a large extent... or nutritional. What do you feed your fishes?> And, if you could provide some advise for on my next course of action that would be much appreciated? Regards, Sharon Bell. <Mmm, I would ask your stockist/LFS if they've been having trouble with their minnow fishes... You can/could become involved in sequential antimicrobial "trials"... in the hope of blocking something at play here. My first choice would be a Furan compound (likely Furanace). Bob Fenner>

Mystery Wasting Disease...  Help...!   3/10/06 I have a sick tank.  It's 55 gallon, all of my parameters are good: ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrates 20 - 40, <I'd keep under 20 ppm> ph-7.6.  Water temp 78 f.  Planted. UGF and jet heads. This tank has been up since last summer and has been extremely stable.  I had one of my original Gouramis die a couple of weeks ago.  I have no idea why she went, she was a red (honey sunset?) Gourami, and the only "sign" of illness she showed was losing all color the night before she died.  She was truly ashen and looked very "old."  Within a week of her death, her partner developed dropsy. <Mmm, well, this species, Colisa lalia, does have some standard "problems" nowadays...> He is still with us, but not doing well, so far he hasn't really responded to treatment.  Just a little...  He is in a 2.5 gal QT. Since he has been in quarantine, I lost one bloodfin whose body became very sunken and bullet shaped, head very bony.  Best way to describe it is total emaciation.  Another bloodfin has fallen sick with this, I unfortunately had to put him in with Gourami due to lack of another QT tank and in hopes of him responding to the treatment.  This morning I have another bloodfin and neon that are showing early signs of this mysterious disease.  Fading colors, body shape thinning, hiding in plants, not eating. My LFS will give me some advice after seeing a water sample but not until then.  I can't make it there before the weekend. Any ideas? Thank you so much, Mary. <Mmm... your system may have a Mycobacterial infection... the same genus of microbe that causes TB in humans... I do encourage you to read: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=treating+mycobacterium+in+aquarium+fishes&spell=1 and consider a treatment with an efficacious antibiotic. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mystery Wasting Disease...  Help...! FW TB...  3/23/06 Hi Bob & Company, Thanks for your reply.  I am still losing fish to this bacterial infection. I have treated the tank with Kanaplex and an erythromycin gel food that the LFS recommended. <Use of such antibiotics is a hopefully hit, mostly miss proposition...> They looked at one of my sick fish and called it "wasting away disease," and picked these medicines to help.  The Kanaplex had a three time maximum dosage, and that was finished a week ago.  Yesterday I discovered one of my African dwarf frogs had taken ill, he had been hanging around in the floating plants a lot, but I thought he was just digging them. Then I noticed that he looked like he might be shedding, so I took out my camera and put the micro lens <Good technique> on it and found that poor froggie was sick.  I panicked and put him in quarantine, with 1/2 tsp kosher salt per gallon, don't know why I did that because I had Melafix and Pimafix on hand, but he died within a half an hour.  I don't know if the salt did it or not.  I have attached two of the pictures I took of him.  Do you have any other suggestions? <Once these conditions get to such an extent... very difficult to remit> Would taking the tank apart and boiling the gravel and wash down everything help? <Mmm, as a last resort...> Unfortunately, I REALLY love these little animals (fish included in that statement) and last night I cried until I couldn't cry anymore.  It's breaking my heart and I don't want to lose everyone in this tank.  Anymore suggestions, ideas? <Don't know enough from what we've sent back/forth to render any more substantive direction, focus... other than to encourage you in the short/er term to read of other folks circumstances... to find if there are parallels> P.S. I did read up on fish TB and the Mycobacterial infection.  My LFS laughed when I first mentioned fish TB to them and told me that if I had that, not to touch the water, or anything in the tank, and to euthanize the fish. <Mycobacteria are "nothing to laugh about"... kill many humans daily... Are very real human health issues in Eastern Europe, elsewhere> Well, how do you find out if you have it? <"Culture"...> No one seems to be able to say... (shrug) (Comment not meant for you) <Ask your M.D. re... or do a bit more look/seeing on the Net, large library... worth investigating, and being very careful when working in fish tanks... wear long gloves and/or thoroughly wash after... And not place in such systems with open wounds. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mystery Wasting Disease...  Good news!   3/28/06   Bob, I just wanted to let you know that the chain of disease finally broke.  It has now been 6 days since my last casualty, and no others fell sick, or have fallen sick.  This has been the first few days in over 6 weeks where I didn't have at least one sick or dying fish.  I still have no clue as to what the infection was, but it seems to have run it's course.  Yeah! Take care, Mary. <Thank you for this update. Am tempted to draw parallels, express my worries re events such as "Bird Flu", Ebola type viruses similarly "running their course" amongst our species. Bob Fenner>

Fin Rot In a FW Set Up  - 02/27/06 I recently treated my 55 gallon tank for fin rot and was wondering how long it would take for my poor fish to regrow almost completely missing (about 1/8th of and inch of fin is left in some cases). I do 20% water changes once a week or two. My ph is 6.5, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 20 constantly. Thank you CJ <If the infection made it down to the caudal peduncle then it will not grow back. High nitrates will impede any regrow of the fins. You should see some growth in a couple of weeks. They will not grow back as big as they were before.-Chuck>

2/25/06 freshwater fish with curvature of spinal column   2/26/06 My husband and I have a 28 gallon tank with numerous freshwater fish including platys, mollies, Danios, algae eaters, and a Pleco.  The chemical levels in our water are within normal ranges.  Two weeks ago we noticed one of our younger mollies swimming frantically in a tight circle.  As we looked closer, we saw that his body was twisted in crescent shape.  We immediately removed and euthanized him.  Since then every few days we have noticed other fish with similar curving of their spinal column.  In addition, they seem to have what looks like Ick spots on their body, their fins are torn and infected, and they seem to be more lethargic than usual.  We are treating them with Ick treatment, but it does not appear to be helping any of the symptoms. <Won't> We have lost one Danio, five mollies and three platys.  Every time we found a diseased fish, we immediately removed it.  Our research has suggested that they may have tuberculosis, but they did not have the majority of the symptoms listed for tuberculosis.   <Not likely TB/Mycobacteria, but another... perhaps Myxosoma... M. cerebralis...> Is there another disease that would cause these symptoms?  Do you have any suggestions for treating this?  We appreciate any insight you can offer.  Thanks. <Is and possibly. I would read re Myxosoma on the Net, take care to wash your hands thoroughly after they've been in this tank. Bob Fenner>

Cichlids Melting   2/6/06 I am writing to you because I have found nothing on a disease called cichlid melt. < First I have heard of it and I have been keeping cichlids for 38 years.> My young Oscar died.  I brought the body to the pet store to see if they could make sense of the Oscar's skin condition.  Both sides looked eaten away.  They told me it's cichlid melt and compared it to leprosy.  They said it's highly contagious and there is no cure.  They told me to take down my entire tank and wash everything with bleach.  I have a 72 gallon tank, so I'm hoping I don't have to get that aggressive.  I presently have 3 parrot fish who seem to be OK, as well as one pearl cichlid.  I have lost about 5 other fish within the past couple of weeks.  None of them seemed to have what the Oscar did, however, two of the cichlid's had puffy and deteriorating scales protruding out of its head.  I've had fish for years and never experienced such a thing. Any ideas or suggestions?  Have you heard of Cichlid melt? Thank you Shannon < You have a bacterial infection that is eating the skin of your fish. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the nitrate levels. They should always be under 25 ppm. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package.  After treatment, you will need to add a high quality carbon to remove the medication. When the water is clear add Bio-Spira to replace the good bacteria needed for biological filtration. Then feed your fish once each day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes.-Chuck> Cichlids With Bacterial Infection  - 2/4/2006 My son brought home a blue cichlid, an Oscar, and one of those fungus eaters. (looks like a little shark, but i don't know what is called). I have a 39 gal. tank filled with fresh water, which I change weekly, two filters and an  air pump. I never heard anything about water chemicals until now. I feed them floating pellets two or three times a day. I don't know much about fish, but I have noticed the blue cichlid is growing orange wart like growths on the sides at the root of the fins.  It started showing about two or three months ago.  I didn't pay much attention in the beginning because I thought the fish was simply growing in size and that was part of it. they have grown a lot since we got them.  the Oscar is about 12 in, the cichlid is about 7 in and the other one is about 10 in), but the last few weeks, I noticed that one side is bulging out while the other seems to be "falling off in tiny chunks".  That's the best way I can describe it. What can I do? < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package. Fed once a  day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. High nitrates contribute to bacterial infections such as these.-Chuck> Oscars With Bacterial Diseases  - 2/4/2006 Hello, Can you please help me? We bought 2 Red Tiger Oscars about 5 months ago and have already lost 1 to this disease already. It started with these small indentations in their skin which have now got larger on the remaining one. Also the remaining Oscar also has a whole in his top fin which is slowly getting bigger and I think this will soon divide his fin into 2. We do a water change every 2-3 weeks. We were given a treatment called 'Melafix' which were told would get rid of it and if that didn't nothing would. We followed the instructions, took the carbon filter out, but nothing worked and this is how we lost our first through the treatment. Our local fish shop said to take a water sample in (which we haven't done yet) to see if there was a high level of acid in the water, but only the Oscars had this disease. We have different types of Parrot Cichlids but these are all fine If you could reply to my email that would be great, Thanks Rebecca < This is a bacterial infection brought on with water high in nitrates. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package. Feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Check the nitrates weekly. They should not exceed 25 ppm. Reduce them with water changes.-Chuck> Body fungus? FW disease...  - 1/30/2006 Hi, I have a 58 gallon planted tank with 5 checkered rainbows, 2 Sailfin mollies & 4 rummy nose tetras. At least half of the fish showed signs of ick a few days after adding the rainbows - obviously I did not use a quarantine tank at that point. <Yikes...> Yes, I am cured & will always quarantine in the future. So I treated the main tank with heat & salt. Heat to 86 & salt of 2tsp per gallon. I saw the last obvious sign of ick 4 days ago. I was planning on continuing the heat & salt for a few more days just to be sure. About 4 days ago, one rummy nose had a prominent white ?line across his back, ? fungus? <Mmm, not as a "primary" consequence... but likely something resultant from "stress", the salt... You likely know that most Rainbowfishes and S. American Characins "like" different water quality. At any length, infectious diseases (e.g. funguses) are rare as primary causes of pathogenic disease in aquariums> Another rummy has a few grayish scales. I did not take the first rummy out & the white line seems to be going away, the gray irregular scales on the other rummy are the same. But now definitely one rainbow and maybe two or 3  (they move real fast) are looking fuzzy. White on perimeter of one eye, stringy white on a fin & fuzzy white on top part of body. My thought was to take the 2 rummys, & affected rainbows out to a QTank & treat for body fungus. <Or microbial problems in toto...> What do you think of this plan? or should I treat the entire tank? What product should I use? thanks for all your help. Kim <I would treat all... but outside the main tank... the plants will take a (further) beating... and the rest of substrate, decor will change/absorb the med.s... I would use Furan compound/s... Likely Nitrofuranace at this point/juncture... Bob Fenner>

Re: body fungus?   1/31/06 Hi, I am sending again b/c I thought maybe you missed my question. <Okay> anyway, the picture has changed a bit. Rummy's look better, one with one small spot on back. Rainbows look worse. I can definitely see a mouth fungus in 2 or 3 of them. One looks like it has shards of glass (enflamed gills?) under its gills, quite a bit of flashing going on. rays on fins are turning white. Can you please give me advise on what to do? Kim <Your problem here is almost assuredly entirely environmental... Mis-mixed livestock needs... with stress getting the proverbial better part of your fishes. You need to resist further treatment/s-poisoning... Bob Fenner>

Blue Crayfish and Fungi Eradication... Maybe FW algae control   1/22/06 Hello, <Afternoon> I've had a 30 gallon tank set up for approximately two months and seem to have a fungus problem (didn't cycle enough?). <... a fungus?> I removed the crayfish and treated the tank with copper sulfate, and my Columbian Red Tetras seemed to make a comeback, but I noticed that when I replaced the crayfish they seem to have 'fuzz' on them as well as on the spouts of the filter. I'm not terribly worried about the crayfish being affected by the fungus but would like to eradicate the fungus from the tank. Any thoughts on medications that would be safe WITH the crayfish, since so many medications discourage use with invertebrates? Quinine sulfate? Melafix? <... neither are useful for fungi...> The ammonia is zero, and the nitrates and nitrites are borderline, and I've been doing water changes (25%) in addition to adding Bio-Spira every other day. I've posted this message to a few forums as well as searching your FAQs but haven't found any definitive information. Thanks Greg <Do you mean an algae? Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Aggressive Fungus  1/14/06 Hi, I have a 125 gallon tank with a 40 gallon sump for a total of 165 gallons and I have a large piranha with a large wooly spot on his side, about 1.5 square-inches. <Maybe resultant from a scratch, banging around?> This fungus seems very aggressive, I have treated previously with malachite green but after reading your article on malachite green I switched to salt. Even with all of this salt, it still attacked the piranha and after about 3 days of saline treated water conditions his wooly spot is now peeling back and taking the skin and scales with it. <A good sign> As a last resort I have decided to treat with Jungles Fungus Clear. Currently the water conditions are: Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate <5, temp: 75 F. I'm sure I've messed up somewhere, so I am in need of any ideas I don't want my fish to die. Thanks Chris > what you've offered here, I would raise the temperature (over a few days time) to the low to mid 80's F., and bolster the fish's immune system by soaking its foods in a vitamin/HUFA supplement... This should do it... over a few weeks time. Bob Fenner>

Treating Columnaris in Dwarf Gourami - 11/09/2005 Crew, <Hello, Jason.> Yesterday I purchased two male Dwarf Gouramis who currently reside in a cycled QT of 10 gallons. To my dismay, when I checked in on them this morning one of them clearly had white fuzz/residue on its side. <Oh, dear....> After a bit of research I concluded that this fuzz was likely Flexibacter columnaris, <Entirely possible.> a bacterial infection that, as per my understanding, causes fin rot, body rot and mouth "fungus".  <Essentially.> Now, I have a Betta that susceptible to fin rot, so I guess I am well acquainted with Columnaris. <Mm, possibly.... there are many other things that can cause fin rot.... bacteria and others.> My reaction was to treat both Gouramis with Tetracycline.  <IMO, a good reaction.> My fears were confirmed later on when the white fuzz developed into red sores on the side of the sick Gourami. Now both Gouramis are in the corner, panting near the surface of the water. Is there anything to be done aside from Tetracycline and hope for the best?  <Tetracycline is a good option. I would continue treatment with this for up to two weeks.... Kanamycin sulfate would be another good option. Perhaps my first choice would be Oxytetracycline in food. Be monitoring ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate closely; maintain optimal water quality. It would also be a good idea at this time to increase aeration to aid these fish in breathing a little easier.> -Jason <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Health/Disease In Selectively Bred Fish - 11/07/2005 Hi there, <Hello.> I'm a beginner to keeping fish, having started with a tropical 30L BiOrb (just 1 plastic plant and 1 cave-like decoration along with the provided media) in late June this year. My first 3 fish were balloon mollies; one died from dropsy <.... a comment, here; "dropsy" is not a disease, but a set of symptoms.... what *causes* those symptoms is what you need to explore. In some cases, it can be as simple as constipation. In others, it can be a nearly-always fatal bacterial infection.... and there are other causes, as well.> in a QT tank shortly after escaping the boiling fate the other two shared thanks to what I've been assured was a faulty heater. <Yikes!> My next fish were another balloon molly and a guppy; to this pair I added a balloon molly and a swordtail. The first molly died after being sucked through the siphon tube (my fault - I now watch them like a hawk when siphoning) <I have had a similar experience with a female Ameca splendens - heart-stopping.... to me.... but the fish did fine.> and today the other molly and the swordtail died from whirling disease in the QT tank. <Oh, gosh, yikes!! Scary.> I spent some time watching all three of the fish last night, and they all seemed fine - then this morning the swordtail and the molly were clearly sick, the swordtail very much so, so I quarantined them immediately. When I returned from work some 7 hours later, both had died. The guppy is okay so far (as far as I can tell) and I've performed a 50% water change. The ammonia and nitrites had been 0 for over a week and were 0 this morning when I quarantined the swordtail and molly. Nitrates are at about 25 ppm (my LFS tells me that due to being in a hard water area I'm unlikely to get it any lower than this) and pH is usually around 7.8 - 8.0. I've chalked the dropsy incident up to my own inexperience (I made some maintenance mistakes early on) but I don't know how my fish got whirling disease, which in turn means I don't know how to prevent it happening again. <Mm, difficult to impossible to prevent, aside from maintaining optimal water quality.... These fish likely had the disease prior to purchase.> I also don't know if there's anything else I can do to try and make sure my remaining guppy doesn't get it. I've read what I could find on your site and Google about whirling disease, but I couldn't find any preventative measures anywhere (my apologies if they're listed). <There are none, really, aside from removing affected fish immediately, and maintaining pristine water quality.... excellent, high-quality foods.... in general, bolstering the health of your fish as best you can.> Presuming my guppy remains healthy, how long should I wait before adding companions for him?  <A few weeks, at an absolute minimum. And quarantine any newcomers if at all possible.> I've noticed that it's the most selectively bred fish I've chosen (5 balloon mollies and a swordtail) are the ones that have died. Is there really this much of a difference in susceptibility to disease?  <Yes, there really is. A decade or so ago, male Bettas were expected to live several years. Now, they're so inbred that even breeders of "high-quality" Bettas claim that a couple of years is all you can hope for. In short, yes, any fish that is highly inbred or line-bred or selectively bred is much more susceptible to disease, genetic disorder, etc. Especially fish that are bred to be mal-formed, in my opinion.> I'm sorry this e-mail is so long, but I wanted you to have all the information you needed. <Thank you for your attention to detail.> Thanks in advance for all your help - I love keeping fish and I'm learning all I can, but things are still going wrong and it's very upsetting. <It's a tough learning curve, but you're getting things right - you'll get there, no worries!> Regards, -Victoria <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Mysterious Death In A Long-Established System - 11/05/2005 Hello to all - I have a question about my freshwater aquarium, but before that, I would like to thank all of you for sharing your knowledge and advice.  <Your kind words are so very appreciated.... Thank you.> I have WWM dailies as my homepage and every morning, before I do anything else (except turn on my aquarium lights and say hello to my buddies, of course) I read through your questions. I have used your search tool many times, rather than asking directly, and I find all the answers I need, and more!  <Ahh, delightful! Would love to know how to make this easier/more obvious to other folks....> I can't seem to find the answer to this mystery though, so please forgive me if I have overlooked.  <No worries.> I am not new to fishkeeping, but everyday there is something more to learn, I know.  <As with everything in life. May I always be ignorant, that I have something to look forward to learning!> I also know, learned from my 30+ years of aquarium keeping experience and confirmed through your advice on WWM, that regular water changes, patience and quarantine will practically guarantee success. I haven't lost a fish in 8 1/2 years until today and I am devastated because I loved my baby. <Oh dear. So sorry to hear this....> Here goes: 125 fully planted tank, magnum canister filter w/ carbon changes every 2 wks, output powering 2 BioWheels, set up for 4 years. 10 gallon water change on Mondays, 5 gallon on Thursdays, just a siphon water change-not a gravel vacuum because the tank is so heavily planted.  <All sounds great so far.> This tank has been running for 5 yrs, set up because my angelfish in the 55 gallon was really tall and I wanted him to have more room. His tankmates were 3 lemon tetras and 1 upside down catfish in the 55g. I regularly change light bulbs for the plants, prune them weekly, feed very sparingly, if at all. I have the 55 still set up with spare plants, thinned from the big tank, and I sell them to pets shops and give them to others. <Excellent!> Only fish in the 55 until recently was small school of zebra Danios to keep it interesting. For some reason, I thought my 5 fish in the 125 g needed friends after 5 years <I admit, your stocking scheme is actually more conservative than my own. Surprising.> and so went to the LFS and bought 6 neon tetras, 5 Cory cats, 3 guppies and 4 Otocinclus cats. These new fish were placed in quarantine in the 55 for almost 7 weeks (patience).  <Patience, indeed!> After the quarantine, and everybody still was in great shape, I transferred the newbies in with the old timers. The big community was all happy for 2 wks, then, horror, my 8 1/2 year old Andy angelfish died. <Devastating.... I am so sorry....> He had just been hovering in the corner for the last 2 days and hadn't been coming up and eating the little pinch of frozen bloodworms from my fingers like he did every morning for the last 8 yrs. Andy was very big-much bigger than the palm of my husband's hand and kind of old, I guess, for a fish.  <Yes.> I don't know what the lifespan of an angelfish is.  <'Bout Andy's age. They can live for a long time, but Andy was a ripe oldster.> I took him out, did an emergency 25% water change, started my search on WWM, and looked over to see my 3 lemon tetras (5 yrs old) hovering in the same corner.  <Hmm.... perhaps coincidence.... and, on the other hand, perhaps not.> They didn't come up to eat even, and they are piglets.  <Disconcerting, to be sure.> Everyone else is having a ball-even the upside down catfish (also 8 1/2 yrs). So, my questions: Was Andy just so stressed out because his world had changed?  <Mm, I do suspect disease.... perhaps viral.... or pathogenic.... My thoughts here: Your five fish had not had anything "new" in some years. No introduction of "normal" pathogens that are ever-present on nearly all fish to some minor degree. This long-established, healthy system may have just been too "healthy".... perhaps the new livestock had something that they brought with them, not in virulent amounts, that transferred to your angel, who was perhaps free of whatever it was for several years. As old as the fellow was, it took him out. This is all just speculation.... but is my first best guess.> Could I have done anything differently?  <No, hon. You could not have foreseen something like this. You did everything perfectly.> Are my lemon tetras traumatized too? What is their lifespan?  <Mm, tetras for the most part are MUCH shorter-lived than fish like angels.... if these guys are 8.5 years old, not only will I be surprised, but I'll be moving into your fish tank in short order, in the hopes of extending my own lifespan.> Should I try to remove them or will that just cause everybody to go nuts?  <If they are exhibiting obvious signs of illness, I would strongly consider removing them to a quarantine system to observe them apart from the other, healthy livestock.> Sorry for the novel, but I am just stumped (and very upset).  <Completely understandable.> Thanks so much. You guys are great.  <As are you.> I need a poster of Bob and Anthony and the whole crew to put up in my fish room. <Hey, now that's not a bad idea! Maybe we should have a "centerfold" Crewmember in the CA online mag, eh? (grin)> Patty <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Mysterious Death In A Long-Established System - II - 11/07/2005 Sabrina- thanks so much for your insight about my fish traumas. Sadly to say, my lemon tetras have passed on. Andy and Flipper (the upside down catfish were and are 8 1/2 years old. The lemon tetras were barely 5 yrs old, their records going back to October, 2000. (I consider the day I bought my fish as their birthday!) <Wow. Some geriatric characins, I think. I'm not so knowledgeable about characins, but I do think that's pretty aged for most smaller tetras....> I had not really considered that these old timers had lived in a "bubble" and thus were not able to fight off normal fish pathogens.  <Again, just a theory.> As I said, I will always be learning.  <As will I/we.> You all have convinced me that saltwater isn't as hard as I had always heard it to be, and I have had a healthy tank going now for over a year. Water changes and even more patience required than freshwater, huh?  <Mm, yeah, pretty much.> I also have a very low stocking scheme in the saltwater half of my fish room, as you advise, and I have never had a problem.  <Ahh, very good!> I don't believe I will be adding any new fish though. I'll just set up another tank! (good excuse) Thanks again for your time and generosity in sharing your knowledge, Patty <And thank you again for your kind words.... All the best, -Sabrina>

Ich And Infections - 10/28/2005 I have a Black Molly and a Dwarf Gourami that both have a white spot on them. The Gourami has it on is and the Molly has it between the mouth and eye. They got this after I <Future reference: please capitalize "I".> treated 2 fish that I just introduced to the tank, a couple of platies, they got Ick just after they were introduced, I think because of stress or poor water at the store.  <Mm, "stress" and "poor water" don't *cause* ich.... might make fish more susceptible to it, but this is a parasitic complaint.... if the parasites are present, fish can get 'em. Likely they were infected before you brought them home. Consider using a quarantine tank for new fish....> I was thinking the Molly and Gourami might have gotten ick but it doesn't look like ick and didn't respond to treatment. I think it might have been because the filter has to be out for ick treatment but I don't know what I do know.  <I think you mean to say that you're not sure what to do now.> I also have an Orange Molly whose flesh is just rotting away from around her mouth. This was proceeded by bubble skin. She had bubble skin once before and we put her in a hospital tank and changed the water regularly and it cleared up. This time it has not cleared up and I don't know what to do.  <Sounds perhaps like a bacterial infection, perhaps brought on by poor water quality. Are you testing the water? Maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes.... This infection may need to be medicated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic.> Currently all 3 fish are in the hospital tank. Any suggestions will be helpful. Thanks, -Dan <Seems to me that you might do well to learn a bit more about the lifecycle and treatment of ich. Please take a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm . Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Swordtails, Bacterial Infections, Betta Fin Deterioration - 10/12/2005 Hi, I have 5 swordtails, 3 male and 2 female....I know, bad ratio...they were a gift, I didn't pick the sexes. One of the female swordtails has two large patches one on top her head and the other on the side of her head. When I look close at these areas, it looks as though the scales aren't there anymore, it looks fluffy.  <Sounds like a bacterial infection.... possibly Columnaris.> She also has one fin whose edge is white, I first thought fin rot, but am not sure.  <Likely related to the other problem(s) present on her.> So far I haven't seen any signs in my other swords. I also have a Betta and a Chinese butterfly sucker. The Betta has been a long time habitant of my tank, but I am noticing his tailfin is tattering on the ends, I was wondering if it was fin rot or aggressive swordtails?  <Perhaps either/or. Observe the swords for any aggression toward the Betta, but I fear this may be bacterial as well, related to the same problem as the female sword.> The swordtails are new and swim vigorously around the aquarium, so that is why I thought maybe they were picking at his fins. Thank you for any help you can give!! Tara <On top of this, be testing/maintaining water quality - keep ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>  

Panda Cory with Milky Film 10/13/05 Hello, <Good morning. Sabrina with you.> This is my first fish tank and your website has been tremendously valuable. I keep making mistakes, though, and lost 4 panda Corys. Just when I think I've figured out what I'm doing wrong, another panda gets sick. <Yikes. Starting out, most folks make mistakes, so do not beat yourself up on this. It is how we are prompted to learn.> I now have two pandas. One seems healthy and active, but the other has milky white clumps on one side of his body. They started about 2 weeks ago and are spreading. I'm attaching two photos...I hope you can open them. I don't know if it's a fungus or bacterial infection. <A tough question. I, personally, think this is Columnaris or some other (severe) bacterial infection. Good photo, BTW.> I've been treating the tank with Maracyn for 8 days now. Initially, there was a small red spot in the white patch that's gone now. The Cory hides but eats actively (sinking wafers and shrimp pellets) and his breathing seems normal. Both seem to tolerate the Maracyn. <I don't think Maracyn (Erythromycin) will treat Columnaris; even if this is something else bacterial, I doubt that Erythromycin is the way to go; it only treats gram-positive bacteria (that's bacteria that have a cell wall); there are few gram-positive bacteria responsible for illness in fish.> <<This is incorrect: The difference between "gram positive" bacteria and "gram negative" bacteria has to do with how they take up (or don't) a type of violet stain (re: peptidoglycan w/in cell walls) .  Try Googling, or view here  Marina>>

My tank and mistakes: -- 7 gal, power filter with venturi tube, sponge filter, heater, light, live plants, driftwood. -- 1 male Betta, 2 panda Corys (at most 4). -- temp 80F, ph 7.0, total ammonia < 0.1ppm (was zero before Maracyn), nitrites 0ppm, nitrates 5ppm, dGH 2, dKH 2. -- 30-40% water change and gravel vac every other day, Amquel, Nutrafin Cycle every other change. Temp change 1-2 degrees after change. <This is too much maintenance, once the tank's cycled.> -- mistakes: --didn't cycle properly and overfed; lost 2 Corys due to high ammonia. --problems keeping temp and pH stable; okay now. --initially fed Betta live tube worms <Tubifex worms, perhaps? Try to avoid these; blackworms are safer (as in, less prone to passing along disease to your fish).> and now some are living in the gravel. I vacuum but can't seem to get rid of them. Maybe the substrate wasn't clean enough. <This is okay. The worms in the substrate aren't of significant concern unless they are very numerous.> --Two other Corys gradually got sick. <Ammonia again? Or this illness?> --one died after one dose of Maroxy; did quick water change and stopped. --another died after one dose of Maracyn II, same. I feel terrible about losing these fish. Is there anything I can do if the Maracyn doesn't work? <I've shown this to Bob, as well.... his recommendation is to treat with aquarium salt and a furan compound.... might read here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/furancpdfaqs.htm .> I don't want to add another chemical or medicine that might do more harm than good. <The Maracyn likely will not be of help here.> I won't add new fish. Through all this, my Betta has been very active, eating heartily, and seemingly oblivious. <I would remove him from this system immediately, lest he contract the illness as well. Normally I would recommend the opposite, removing the infected fish to a separate quarantine/hospital system, but I would be fearful for the Betta right now.> Thanks for your expertise! --Anita <Wishing you the best, -Sabrina>

Fungal or bacterial secondary infection?  9/17/05 Hi, We recently purchased three platies for our first 20 gallon tank. Within the first week, all three platies developed ick. We treated (and are still treating) with Nox-Ich which contains malachite green and salt and kicked the temp up to 82 degrees. One of our platies has already died (probably from the stress of the temp change). We have only had the tank ten days and have yet to have the water tested (we were told to do it after two-three weeks). <Ack....  These fish are likely suffering from ammonia/nitrite poisoning, on top of the parasite infestation....  the poisoning is by far the more dangerous factor, here.  Please read:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm , and other general water quality topics: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .  Poor water quality is the big issue, here.> We just did a partial water change as the remaining two fish are looking quite sick and lethargic. <You *need* those water tests, and now - and bigger water changes, to boot.  Whoever told you not to test the water until two or three weeks has passed is out of their mind, or suffering serious ignorance.  This is the single most crucial time in establishing your tank, and by far the most dangerous (deadly) to your livestock.  Test results are your only window into what is happening in the tank.  Please also consider "fishless" cycling; a search of our website and a Google search (use words "fishless cycling") will yield tons of information on this for you.> They spend some time zooming around the water line with their mouths at the line and then some time sitting on the bottom of the tank and are not eating very much or at all. One of the two has red gills and white around it's mouth. Is this mouth fungus or gill disease or both. <All signs that they are suffering from environmental disease / poor water quality.> I know that secondary infections are common with ick which still hasn't cleared up after four days of treatment. We just bought tetracycline tabs and added them. Will this help? <No....  Not likely, until you can know what is really happening in the tank.  Water changes are your best friend, here.  Much to learn - and perhaps you can help to educate those who (hopefully inadvertently) misled you; if they, too, can learn, then they will be better equipped to help others and not mislead them also.> Thank you,  -Debbie <Wishing you well in this,  -Sabrina>

Inherited Tank - Fish Has Fungal Infection! 7/30/05 Hi there! I usually turn to you wonderful people for my marine aquarium questions, but I've recently inherited a freshwater tank and I'm completely lost. There are only three fish in the 10-gallon aquarium using a typical carbon bag filter. One of the fish has a white cotton-y growth on the bottom left side of the body near the front fin. (I'm not sure what kind of fish it is...but he's small, about 1.5 in. long and .25 in. tall.) <Mmm, time to have someone take a look... in person, or send us a pic> I've read (in books and from your site) that it's probably a fungal growth due to some loss of slime coating. <... but due to what? This is the principal question... important to understand relations between cause and effects, and always strive to treat for the former> The fish had just been moved from their previous location and the tank was newly set up. I don't know how the fungus got in there though. Anyways, for treatment, I've been reading that Methylene Blue is a good medication or setting up a slightly salt-y hospital tank (1tsp. per gallon, adding 1 tsp each day for 6 days) to get rid of the fungus. <... again... depends on the cause. If the fish is in otherwise good condition I would simply maintain optimized, stable conditions and good nutrition> I have a small 2-gallon hospital tank set up for the infected fish now. I can either do a Methylene Blue treatment or the salt treatment. Which would be more effective? Thank you for your time!     ----Stella <With what little is offered here I would not move this fish... the source of whatever trouble this might be is either in the present system or integral with it... that system needs to be improved, made constant. Bob Fenner>  

Poorly eel... Ps. Sorry for such a long email,  but i thought I'd tell you as much as i could,,, also forgot to add, All the other fish seem ok... And the eel never seemed to eat anything... i got some maggots from the local fishing shop.. the other fish liked them, and the eel showed more interest in them than bloodworms, or anything else I'd been trying to feed him, and looked as if he was trying to eat one, he made a move towards it, but didn't get it in his mouth,,, so I'm not entirely convinced he's eaten too much since i got him.. (about 3 weeks ago) hope you can help.... Sami <This spiny eel is extremely mal-affected by a bacterial infection... though often termed fungal... A very quick administration of antibiotics to the system (Chloramphenicol if you can get it, Spectrogram (product) if not... at double dose... 250 mg. per five gallons, addition of a teaspoon of aquarium salt per five gallons... in a separate treatment system, attention to water quality while there... offering tubificid worms as food... Might save this specimen, but doubtful at this stage. Bob Fenner>

White Fungus Problems Hi all, Got a problem with fungus. I have a 10gal Jebo 338, my fish are 2 comets, 3 leopard Danios and 4 white clouds. I used to have 3 comets but lost one recently and it appears another is on the way. <Goldfish and tropicals should not be mixed together... and your system is too small for their inclusion at any length> My recently lost comet got reddish fins and whitish slime on his body and fins. His tail eventually rot off and it didn't look like stopping so I took him out put him in a 3 gal bucket to settle down a few days. This fish was basically hanging head first in the water due to lost tail. It was clear to me he was not going to recover so I euthanized him to end the misery for both of us. I change my water 1-3 weekly. But even when its 3 weeks I've tested and ammonia and nitrites are nil and nitrates are 10-20ppm. ph is very constant around 7.5. my tap water is 7 and very soft. I use a conditioner as per specs for the new water. I also put in a drop of AmmoLock for each water change. I've tried AquaMaster multi cure and PimaFix to try to fix the problem but there seems to be no improvement. <These are worthless here and in general> I don't think I overfeed because I check the amount I give and how quickly they eat it. If there is an overfeed I skip next days feed. I change the filter medium also about every 3 months. I've used the same ceramic noodles though. The comet is eating well but I notice he darts around the tank a bit more frenetically now. I'd noticed at one stage prior to a clean some of this whitish fungus accumulating on one of the plastic plants also. Any advice u can give appreciated. Mark, Melbourne, Australia. <Your care is apparent... but your main trouble here is basic incompatibility... Goldfish are coldwater animals, too "dirty" to keep in a small system with tropicals. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and separate the Goldfish into their own, larger system if you'd like to keep them. Bob Fenner>

Fungus Among us? I emailed last night and now I have more questions. <That's what we're here for.> My fish was really lethargic yesterday but now he's flitting around like crazy every now and then, then settles down again, then swims about for a while longer. I'm not sure what the name of the thin fins on the bottom of the body is, but one of them has actually come off. <Never a good thing.> He's starting to show minor signs of fungus, mild fuzziness around him. <Not fungus, bacteria. Aquatic fungus is actually extremely rare. Several species of bacteria, <i>Saprolegnia</i> being the most common, grow in haystack-like formations that quite resemble fungus. In any case, I suggest you treat with both an antibacterial food and MelaFix, which can be applied either directly to the fish's wounds, in the water, or both. Best of luck, Mike G.> I'm really worried and I don't know what to do, please get back to me if you can. Paige

Goldfish-- treating dropsy  Hi there-I have read many of your articles and advice on how to treat dropsy-so here goes another! I am pretty certain one of my Orandas has dropsy. This fish is constantly battling swim bladder problems, but now his scales are sticking out too. <Not fun> I have 7 4-5" goldfish in a 55 gallon tank. <Crowded... by about double> One of the others has frequent swimming/floating problems as well. And now a third has decided to hide out at the bottom a lot. I'm starting to get worried! I guess my main question is-should I add Epsom salts to the entire tank, or should I separate out my guy with the dropsy and treat him alone?  <I would treat all... and switch out all dried foods... Not use them> I do weekly water/filtration changes. I even have two separate filters to keep the tank as clean as possible. Any help or recommendations are much appreciated. Thanks a lot-- Kari <There are folks who tout the use of various anti-microbials for such situations... What you really need is a larger system, and to switch out all dried food. Bob Fenner> 

Septicemia Hello, First, I wanted to say that your website is much appreciated and very helpful. The problem I'm having is properly diagnosing and curing my female Bettas (both are opaque whites). One of them now looks like a butterfly Betta due to the red streaks on ALL fins...the other has a tiny red spot on her tail, and some red streaks on her anal and dorsal fins. Thinking they might have Septicemia, I've treated them with Maracyn 2 for 10 days and it doesn't seem like anything happened. I'm not sure if I should repeat treatment again with Maracyn 2...Any further suggestions or help on how to cure these red streaks are welcome. The following is more detailed information regarding their background, etc. Current symptoms: They still have their red streaks in their finnage. They've been off their meds for about 10 days now, and their attitudes have severely changed. They are lethargic and listless, tend not to eat as much, and scared (they often hide when I come to look at them or they dash quickly into their pagodas when I gently drop their food in)...They used to be more active swimming around (mainly because the smaller one would get chased every now and then) and friendly (coming to greet me when I'd feed them) Recent Changes & Food: 3 days ago, I put a clear divider to protect the smaller female (stop the chasing) since their behavior change. Sometimes, the sisters hang out facing each other through the divider...I can't tell if the smaller one now lost her appetite due to depression? She still eats, but very little (maybe 3 pellets and 2 live brine shrimp once a day). It's odd because the other female (the one that now looks like a butterfly) eats well. I usually feed them twice a day mixing flakes, pellets, and live brine shrimp. For example, 6 pellets & 5 brine shrimp for each Betta twice a day...Am I overfeeding? <Yep! Cut to all they eat in a minute or two once a day.> Tank situation:  I have them in a 10-gal with a sponge filter (I will be getting a 2nd filter, now that the tank is divided). I do weekly water changes (50%) adding only aquarium salt (Hawaii's tap water doesn't have chlorine). I have enough floating water sprites (Ceratopteris) to cover about half the tank (I clean off dead leaves and rise plants weekly). For their "homes" they each have a ceramic pagoda... <Are you sure about the chlorine? You may have chloramines which must be removed.> Background: I got the pair in early April (fully white). I didn't change their water for about 3 weeks (since my aquarist friend told me not to) until one female showed some red streaks in her fins. However, I was told that they were just stressed out and no treatment was necessary. I then began to do water changes weekly...When the red streaks worsened and also began to appear on the other female in early May, I began to worry. That's when I started treatment w/ Maracyn 2. Thanks, Nell <Sure sounds like a bad case of Septicemia. Many times this can be cured with water changes alone. Lots of them. Like 50% daily using a gravel vac to get all the old organics out of the system. I do not see any mention of water tests. You should be testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. You are looking for zero on the first two, nitrates below 20ppm. With the signs you are seeing I would bet you have very high nitrates. The water changes will correct. If they continue to decline treat with Oxytetracycline. If possible remove them to a QT tank for treatment. The meds will kill off your beneficial bacteria causing ammonia and nitrite spikes. If you treat, you must test. Don>

Hunchbacked Fish Hi. I have a fish tank with tropical fish in it. I have had them for a while. I have noticed that 2 of the fish have gone hunchback. They are still swimming around fine. Do you know what this is. Many thanks Tracy. <It is likely this is a bacterial infection that can spread to humans. Do not reach into the tank if you have any cuts in your skin. There is no cure. Common wisdom is to put the fish down and bleach the system for a fresh start. Sorry. Don>

Bacterial Hemorrhagic Septicemia Hi guys, I just have a quick question, and was wondering if you could help me out? I noticed today that my Siamese algae eater has developed some red, vein-like structures around the base of its head and on its neck. They are not particularly large, but they are noticeable if you are looking at him. Aside from this, his behavior has been normal and he seems to be eating fine, and in good health. So, do you have any idea what these vein-like things might be? Thanks for answering my question, Mark <Hi Mark. Your SAE has bacterial hemorrhagic septicemia. Sounds bad, doesn't it? It's not. It's usually caused by high levels of organic material in the water. Do a few daily water changes and it should clear up on it's own. Then increase your regular water change schedule to keep things pristine. Don>

Columnaris, iatrogenic disease Hello, Thanks for the wonderful website.  I consider myself to still be a beginner since I have only been fishkeeping for little under a year now. Unfortunately I am having a hard time due to Columnaris.  It has devastated both of my 55 gallon tanks.  One is down to 3 fish from 26, and the other is down to 7 from 28 in less than a month.  Most of the fish I have had for about six months. <... strange for this problem to be so virulent, persistent...>   I use tap water and dechlorinate it, but the problem is it comes out of the tap at 8.5 ph, the hardness I simply don't have the right supplies here to test it so I don't know but the water is forever hard and always leaves white buildup all over my filter. <... I'd save up, get the test kits... pre-treat your water to useful quality...> I just use a simple Canister filter.  I have been researching a lot lately to try to #1 better my water quality <Good> with little or no results <?... please read on... WWM, elsewhere... much written, available on the Net re...> and #2 get rid of this vicious bacterial infection. <... you have allowed this problem my friend> One of the 55 gallon tanks has already been completely cleaned out and bleached, now set back up and guess what it is back.  Someone from the local fish store told me to consider using reverse osmosis 6 stage unit and also consider buying a bio-wheel. <R.O. is a good route to go... I am concerned that your source water is/may be unhealthful for your drinking and cooking use as well...> But no one can seem to help me specifically with the Columnaris.  Everyone tells me it is uncommon and impossible to treat. <Is uncommon, not impossible...>   And most try to lead me to believe it is something else, but I've been at battle with this stuff for 4 months now and I am sure it is Columnaris.  I would just like to know if someone can give me some advice.  I am really to a point where I just don't know what to do anymore and I don't want to give up.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Michelle <... my advice, what I would do, is stated above. Investigate your baseline water quality, devise the easiest, cheapest means to remove some of the mineral content, pre-treat, save new water for a week or more before use... Columnaris you may have experienced, but with careful livestock selection/quarantine, decent set-up, maintenance it is easily avoided. Bob Fenner>

SINK OR SWIM I have just realized that you replied to a mail I sent you a few months ago about these fish (sorry I hadn't seen the reply - although I did look!) to do with them floating or sinking after eating. I presumed this was swimbladder, but you say it is an internal infection. I've just been treating for swimbladder, although they still do this they don't seem in discomfort and are fine the rest of the time. Could this 'blister' be a result of the infection ? Many thanks. < You have had these fish for awhile, if they did have an internal infection then most likely it has been cured by now. The floating or sinking then is most likely caused by the type of food you are feeding them. Either you are feeding floating pellets that have not yet hydrated and add buoyancy to the fish or sinking foods that act as ballast and weigh the fish down. Blisters are usually signs of bacterial infections that can be treated using Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>

Bacterial Hemorrhagic Septicemia I have a small orange goldfish that I moved to a 44 gal. tank about a week ago, along with a small comet. I had just set up this tank, which only contained two platys and an algae eater. I've had both of the goldfish for several months, and they have been very healthy. The orange goldfish still seems to be healthy, except for the fact that one side of his mouth is turning inward. I can see no sign of mouth fungus or fin rot or anything that looks abnormal. He is eating and using the bathroom fine and has plenty of energy. Before I moved him and the comet, I had them in a 10 gal. with two small Orandas that I had bought a few weeks ago. The Orandas had damaged fins when I bought them, but they were fine for about a week and I thought they were going to be ok. Then they started to develop red around the bases of their fins and red streaks under their chins, so I moved the two other goldfish to the new tank and treated the Orandas (which didn't survive) with fungus clear. I don't think the water in my tank caused the infection, because the two other goldfish had been living in it for months, and it had clean water and more than adequate filtration. The orange goldfish and comet have been doing great in the new tank for the past week, except that this morning I noticed that the orange fish's mouth is turning inward. Is that a sign of fungus, or could it have been damaged another way? Jacquelyn <The red streaks mean your fish are affected by bacterial hemorrhagic septicemia. Treat with Oxytetracycline. Usually caused by poor water conditions such as high nitrates. My guess is that we have the same underlying agent causing the mouth problem. The antibiotic should help both. I suggest you treat in a small tank as the meds will nuke the bio filtration in your main. Don>

Catfish and TB I have a 20 gal freshwater tank which has been up and running for 13 months. I have recently had problems with a disease affecting my neon tetras and zebra Danios. The symptoms include wasting and bent spine but normal feeding. My LFS recommended EM treatment but now my research indicates a bacterial disease such as TB or Neon disease. Advice seems to be that any bacterial disease is untreatable and that the best thing to do is clean the tank and start again. The majority of the fish are tetras and Danios with a couple of guppies. Research again suggests that these species are most susceptible to these diseases. I am hoping to be able to save my Cory cat who has been in the tank for nearly a year but I'm not sure if he will remain a carrier even if he doesn't develop symptoms. Can he be saved, if so how long should I quarantine him, and how best to clean the tank. I am probably just being sentimental and should euthanize the lot but I would like to do the right thing. Hope you can help. Tim <A subject I asked about not too long ago. I also had some bent Danios in with my Corys and Plecos. Most of the people I have asked about this subject say all the fish in the tank should be put down and the tank bleached. But one person pointed out that she could find no reference to TB in catfish. At that time I had four Corys and five Plecs in that tank. No way I could put them all down. So I only removed the dither fish. All the cats are still alive, active and seem healthy. One pair of Plecs have bred four times since the outbreak. All the fry seem fine. So, the combined wisdom of our site is to start over, completely. But my one time experience is that the Cory should be fine. My own personal theory, based on nothing at all, is that nature has endowed these mud sucking, bottom dwelling scavengers, that I love so much, with one hell of an immune system. At least that's what I'm betting. But with only the one Cory, you may decide not to gamble as I did. That would be the smart play. Don>

Spinning Barb Crew: I have a rosy barb that began spinning wildly in the tank. I took him out and moved him into a tank by himself. My pet store told me that he probably had an intestinal infection and would probably die. He's still alive after a few days and stopped his wild spinning but now stays in a corner near the heater, doesn't seem to be eating, gasping. I've also noticed he mostly swims in place and drifts backwards quite a bit, and when I tried to put a live plant that he might eat into the tank, he started pinging around the tank then cowered in the corner gasping. Any suggestions please? <The spinning is not good. Keep him in the QT and watch his old tankmates. Sorry to say, but Whirling Disease is usually fatal. If he does die make sure you bleach the tank and anything in it. I would destroy the plant. Just not worth the risk. Don> 

Spinning Barb pt 2 Thanks for the reply Don. The others in the main tank seem fine by the way, and eating heartily. He stopped whirling and is swimming about a bit more but always returns to the heater and cowers there with mouth agape bobbling with the movement of the water. We had noticed the area from his nose to his head has darkened and along his spine also.  Any ideas what that might be? He was a beautiful vibrant pink before but became quite dull when he got sick. My daughter is doing everything she can to see that he makes it. And won't give up on him, salt, keeping the water at 82. Is there anything we should/could be doing besides waiting and observing? He started whirling a week ago, and is still here. What do I need to observe to know when he might be better and if it becomes safe to return him to the main tank? <I'm sorry to say I do not have any tricks to try here. Please read this thread from our forum and the references within.  Don>

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