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FAQs on the Freshwater Minnows called Sharks Disease/Health

Related Articles: Freshwater Minnow SharksBala or Tri-Colored Sharks, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,

Related FAQs:  Minnow Sharks 1, Minnow Sharks 2, FW Shark Identification, FW Shark Behavior, FW Shark Compatibility, FW Shark Selection, FW Shark Systems, FW Shark Feeding, FW Shark Reproduction Bala or Tri-Colored Sharks, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,


Black red fin shark acting weird; need data      10/27/18
My black red. Fin shark has been in the top left corner of the tank for.
Awhile it barely does anything it just floats on its side moving its tail and it's depressing is there something wrong with it?
<Might be. What other livestock is here? Am wondering if another fish is hassling your minnow shark.
Is the fish eating? This is a good clue. Do you have sufficient decor for it to feel comfortable? How long have you had it? Do take care to make sure the tank top is covered as these fish are great "jumpers".
Bob Fenner>
Re: Black red fin shark acting weird    1/3/19

Never mind it died
<As Neale might put it; "too bad". BobF>

Question about my new rainbow shark      3/24/18
I got a new rainbow shark today and it’s skin is both golden and black.
<Indeed! Not uncommon. Should darken up with age, but Rainbow Sharks never seem to have the deep, velvety black common to Red Tail Black Sharks. On the other hand, both species do react to their environment. Your white gravel will be freaking these fish out, and they will lighten their colours to try their best to blend in. Replace with plain vanilla gravel, or better yet, black sand, and you should find this fish darkens a lot more. Why don't they like white gravel? In the wild, light normally comes from above. Light substrates reflect light upwards -- what is called upwelling -- and this is the reverse of what fish expect. Look at most fish and they are darker above, higher below, so that viewed from above they blend into the dark substrate (so herons and seabirds can't see them) and from below their light bellies blend into the light from the sky (so underwater predators, like sharks or pike, can't see them). Make sense? There are some exceptions to this, of course, such as Whiptail catfish adapted to open sand areas that happily blend into light sand, but most fish despise upwelling light.>
The pet store didn’t know if it was sick or just unique. I wanted him because he was so different in colour. I’ve tried Googling and looked through your website, but I can’t find anything to explain this guys unique colours. I’ve attached a photo, apologies about the cloudy water, we put some clarity stuff in it today, so it’s just working it’s magic.
<Cloudy water can mean two things. In a new tank, it's unstable water chemistry and/or quality, causing bacterial and/or diatom blooms. In tanks more than a few months old, that's unlikely, but silt can instead cause cloudiness if the mechanical filter media (such as filter wool) isn't regularly cleaned and/or replaced. Adding flocculants to make silt easier for the filter to remove will help in the short term, but you MUST identify the actual problem unless you want a perpetually cloudy tank!>
This guy was mottled coloured at the pet store (which is why I bought him) and we’re just curious as to if there is any reason for this guys unique colouring? Is he sick? Is he a hybrid golden and rainbow shark?
<There are mixtures between albino Rainbow Sharks ("golden" sharks) and the regular kind, but they're not common, and tend to be more blotchy than grey.>
If you could give us some information that would be awesome. I love his colouring, but don’t want him to be sick :( (and if he is sick, I want to treat him and hopefully get him better).
<See above.>
He was in a tank with other rainbow sharks and silver sharks at the pet store.
I’ve had both golden and rainbow sharks before and none of them have looked like this.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

crop, trouble... environmental. RMF

Flashing albino shark.    9/5/13
Hi there,
I did try to use the illness links in the FW FAQ but it seems the link was broken!
<Where, what page/URL is this broken link on; and what is it named?>
Problem is with an albino shark (Epalzeorhynchos frenatum, I think?),
 somewhere around three inches if not a little under. Tank is roughly 80 litres and filtered by an internal filter. Ammonia and Nitrite don't register when tested with a liquid test kit. He is the only fish in the tank. Water is hard though I can't tell you the specifics. pH is between 7 and 8, leaning towards the 8. The heater is set to around 24 but with the current heat wave here in the UK the tank is climbing up to around 27 at times.
Unfortunately the purchasing of him was a mess. I thought I was 'rescuing' an albino shark from someone that was bored of their fish tank. However the original shark died, the owner stripped the tank down (killing the bacteria in the filter) and then bought another albino shark as a replacement. All done with the best of intentions however I did go through two ~ three months of a fish-in cycle which was not enjoyed by me or the fish. Was doing 4~5 large water changes a day to deal with a particularly nasty nitrite spike. water has been clear for... a couple of months now I suppose.
Long story short, the tank is now cycled and apart from my tap water being high in nitrate (40ppm+ sometimes a lot more, RO unit is on the cards!) the water quality is clear.
Two months or so back he started what I believe is called 'flashing'.
<Common behavior w/ these minnow "sharks"; not a worry. Likely exacerbated by your water history>
 It wasn't frequent but it's getting worse despite water quality only improving. He'll strike himself on the sand multiple times in a row. He has a plastic log cave and he'll float backwards out of it, flash onto the sand and then repeat. Yesterday I found him hanging nearly upside down in the entrance
<Also natural>
and flashing every so often.
He'll be gently cruising around the tank and then suddenly dash around like a mad man and rub himself on the sand a couple of times and then dash into his log. He's also just the past week or so taken to squeezing himself behind the filter or just hanging beneath/generally around the filter.
All quite distressing to see but I can't work out what's wrong.
<Nothing you mention is problematical>
 No sign of parasites that I can see, nothing hanging out the vent, faeces are all normal. No bloating that I know of - though he does look a little plump it's more like the start of a belly than anything else, doesn't look out of place. Can take a photo if required.
<Send along>
In a few months he'll be being upgraded from the 80 litres with it plastic ornaments and going into a well planted 240 litre with a smallish shoal of tiger barbs. Nervous to do anything in case he is sick and infects the other fish.
Thanks for the help, sorry it's a long one. Wanted to make sure I included all the information.
All the best,
<Thank you for writing so well, so completely. Again, this fish does what you describe... naturally. I would have you search (with the common and scientific name) on WWM re this species. Can be aggressive.
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Flashing albino shark. And link to check on WWM    9/6/13
Thank you so much for the quick response. Relieved to hear that this is probably normal behaviour. First fish I've owned so do get a little twitchy from time to time.
<The high [NO3] increases...>
The link was on this page; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/before/index.htm
Under the tropical community tanks, section 3.
<I thank you>
I tried to click the link to read the article it recommended and was given this page. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/before/fwdistrbshtart.htm. In case the link does work for you, it's a 404 missing page error on my end.
Hope that helps.
<Indeed it does>
I've attached a photo from a little while ago, it's pretty much the same as it is now. If not the bump might be a little smaller now.
<This fish appears very healthy to me>
The stocking plan was the Epalzeorhynchos frenatum, 15 Tetrazona Puntius and possibly Trichopodus trichopterus. Though I wasn't overly keen on stretching my luck with the last one. They'd all be in a 55 gallon tank with a lot of plants and driftwood for cover.
<Sounds good>
From what I've read they get on with each other. Though will double and triple check all of this before actually making any purchases. Will also check the pages you mentioned, much appreciated.
Thanks again,
<And welcome. BobF>

Red Tailed Shark is Looking Quite Ill 4/5/08 Hello Crew! My Red Tailed Shark has got some very concerning symptoms I need help with... 1.) Both eye's have a bluish film on them, it appears to be growing from the center and working its way out. 2.) Mouth has a white crust on it. 3.) He is pretty much outlined in white. Like there is a thin white silhouette around him. 4.) He is lethargic, and gasping at the surface... Now, he did undergo some stress yesterday. I was trying to catch my three Black Tetra's to put them in another tank, and that proved to be a stressful event for the other fish. Also, my wife decided to redecorate the tank the same day (great timing). I added some stress coat, and changed the filter media also. So any idea what is wrong with him? What should I do? Regards, Ben <Hi Ben. Almost certainly either Finrot, Fungus, or Mouth Fungus, and quite possibly a combination of two or more. There may also be heavy mucous production, and that would explain things like the cloudy eyes. These diseases are all caused by poor water quality almost always, so check that. Treatment needs to be immediate: use something like Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Don't wasted your time with Stress Coat, salt, Melafix, or any of these nonsense products. Make sure you remove carbon from the filter when using medications. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red Tailed Shark is Looking Quite Ill 4/5/08
Thank you for you quick response Neale! Unfortunately, my Red Tailed Shark didn't even make it through the night, so I couldn't try the medication you suggested. <Too bad.> Bummer, as he was the Elder Statesman of my tank. I have NEVER tested my water before, and have had tremendous success over the 5 or so years I've been running my tank. <We're all guilty of this, at least on the freshwater side of the hobby. But still, I'd heartily recommend buying a pack of "dip strip" multipurpose testing strips. These may not be the best in terms of accuracy but they're economical and useful. It's worth testing the water in a mature aquarium at least once a month, just to make sure everything is ticking over nicely.> This was the first sick fish I've ever encountered. But I did go out and buy a test kit last night and discovered that my water is quite hard, and my PH is off the low end of the chart. <So it's hard but acidic? Quite an odd combination; what it essentially means is that the water contains a lot of minerals, but not many of them are ones that raise pH. In other words, the general hardness (degrees dH) is high, but the carbonate hardness (degrees KH) is low. Are you drawing water from the tap or from a domestic water softener? Remember: the water from a domestic softener is not recommended for fishkeeping.> It's odd, because I felt my tank was very stable. Will adding chemicals be required on a regular basis to build my PH level and drop my water hardness? <If you can, avoid modifying the pH of the aquarium. If you want to raise the carbonate hardness, that's fine. But changing the pH directly is usually more trouble than it's worth, and not something I recommend. Much better to determine your water chemistry out of the tap (but not the water softener) and then choose fish that prefer or happily adapt to that set of water chemistry conditions.> Once I have build adequate PH, will it sustain it's level, or will I always have to add chemicals? <Once you start messing about with pH, it becomes a constant job. That's one reason I recommend against it. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm > Regards, Ben <Cheers, Neale.>

Black shark disease  10/2/07 Hi , I purchased a black shark (looks like a red tail black shark without the red) from an aquarium shop a week ago... <Labeo chrysophekadion. Please bear in mind this is a BIG fish; aquarium specimens routinely exceed 60 cm in length. Wild fish can top 90 cm (3 feet), and weigh in at around 7 kg (15.5 lb). In my opinion, a fish that is completely unsuitable for home aquaria.> ...and noticed a slightly bulging abdomen with raised scales a few days later. <Classically, swelling and raised scales are associated with oedema, which can be a symptom indicative of a wide range of pathogens and problems. Water quality/chemistry, improper diet and bacterial infections may all be connected.> Yesterday it seemed as if something had exploded there, leaving a boil like hole in his tummy. <Is the hole open to the environment? That is extremely serious. You need to be treating with something anti-Fungal and anti-Finrot right now. Don't waste your time with Melafix/Pimafix/tonic salt type remedies. An open body wound on the abdomen of a fish is potentially fatal (just as it would be to a human).> the funny thing is that he still seems relatively well. Is it a burst abscess of some kind? <Yes, certainly sounds that way. Not something that normally happens by itself. In fact I've only seen this sort of thing caused two ways: bites from other fish, and from physical damage, e.g. by a fish throwing itself at something glass or metal above the tank. Since all Labeo spp. are strong jumpers, this might be the problem. Otherwise, look to see if any tankmates might have bitten your fish.> Many thanks Laurent . PS The water conditions in the current tank are very good and I have just increased the salt level a little bit <Why are you using salt? Improper use of salt is one factor related to bloating and oedema in fish because of the long-term stress it puts on the osmoregulatory systems of freshwater fish. Some freshwater fish adapt fine to saline conditions, but some don't. The use of tonic salt in aquaria isn't required here at all. While it's unlikely to be the causative factor, with a fish has sick as yours, you don't want to be messing about. Gradually do water changes over the next few weeks without adding salt to the new water. This will let your fish slowly adapt back to the water conditions they want. Keep the water spotlessly clean: 50% water changes every 2-3 days are probably essential for the next week or two while the wound is open. Once the wound heals, then go back to a normal cycle of 50% water changes per week. Good luck, Neale>

Bala shark not swimming well, 2's a Crowd!  8/21/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My Bala Shark is around 6 inches long and she is in a tank that is too small for her along with another, smaller shark. I knew when I bought her (about a year ago) that this would happen but didn't expect it so quick. I have recently bought a much bigger tank that I know she will be happy in but she has begun to develop problems in the small tank. She is swimming vertically nose up and appears to be struggling to reach the top. I haven't seen her eat in a while either. I have treated the tank with Myxazin but to no avail. The nitrites in the tank are zero but the nitrates are very high.  Have tried a couple of 25% water changes and she seems to like the new water for an hour or so. The new tank is two days old and cycling with five Buenos Aires tetras and obviously, the water parameters are good for now! I know shell love the extra space as the tank she is in right now is narrow and deep 2x 2x 1. The new tank is 4 long and much better for her. Im afraid she will stress herself to death before she sees the new tank and I have done what I can for her in the old one. Should I move her to the new tank now or will that definitely kill her? <I would absolutely put the shark into the larger tank ASAP!  If you live in the USA you can purchase Bio-Spira to instant cycle your tank & move all your fish in there.  If not, just move the suffering fish in there (remove the tetras) & continue to test the water daily, doing water changes accordingly, to keep toxic ammonia & nitrites down.  If you are having nitrate troubles in the other tank, much larger water changes (up to 80%) are necessary.  You may be overfeeding.  ~PP>

Bala sharks... sys., dis.   8/18/06 <<Hello. Tom here.>> I have a fifty-five gallon freshwater tank that is three years old and stable. I'm having a heck of a time introducing new Bala Sharks. I've got a healthy one in the tank that is over two years old but when I introduce new ones the new fish develop white scales and their eyes fog over. Temp. is 82 degrees and the PH is 6.8. Everyone else seems happy except the lonely shark. Any ideas? <<Strikes me as an acclimation issue, Bill. Have you asked your shark source as to what their parameters are? If your two-year-old is doing well, I suspect that you're introducing the new ones too quickly into an environment they aren't ready for. Far less likely a problem with temperature than it is with the pH. Get this information from the store and I'll bet you'll discover what the problem is.>> I used Mela fix to help but to no avail. <<Not likely to be at all effective if the cause is pH shock. Tom>>

Can fish be epileptic? Yes...  Schreckstoffes and Bala Sharks, other Ostariophysian Fishes   8/3/06 Hi Guys      I hope you can help me because I have a fish who has always behaved oddly but is getting worse.        My partner and I inherited a 90 litre tank with too many fish in it, two of which were Bala sharks.  We have recently upgraded this to a 180 litre tank.  The larger of the two Bala sharks has always been a bit skittish and nervous, <This is the species natural behavior... can be lessened in degree with lots of room, placement of home in a high/er traffic area, the use of plants, other decor they can "hide in">   not liking it when anyone approached the glass and only eating when he thought no one was looking, something we put down to his not having enough room in his original home, but he has been getting worse lately.    <Oh... perhaps something further...>   We have seen on a few occasions that he seems to have fits as well as being nervous.  He shakes and thrashes about as would an epileptic human, and than goes very still.  The first time this happened we thought he had died and very nearly flushed him.  Then he started moving again, but upside down, so we were still tempted to freeze him because we thought that he had permanently damaged himself.  After a bit he righted himself but seemed to rather sluggish.  Slowly he came back to being the Big Silv that we know and love, but this has happened again to lesser extents a few times subsequently.        If the only issue was that he has fits we would just leave him to it, since his quality of life when not fitting seems to be ok and he does not appear to stress out his tank mates, but he injures himself.  He has not recently had a fit that either of us has seen and seems perfectly happy in his new home as far as his personal parameters allow him to be.  The water is fine and all of his tank mates are healthy.  As far as we can tell he does not have hole in the head disease and as we have had him for about a year now, we assume that this disease would have killed him by now if that was the case. <Mmm, there is a good explanation...>      He regularly rips his fins and knocks scales off of himself, but the worst of it is that he repeatedly injures his nose (and occasionally one eye) on the glass ledge or the gravel.  Because he is so jumpy (frequently out of the tank jumpy) he never allows this time to heal and it is really ragged now.      So, my questions:  Is it possible that he has fishy epilepsy? <Much more likely this is a "fright contagion"> Is it possible that he has permanently damaged his brain either in a fit or in one of his nervous jumps?   <Possibly> Is there anything we can do about this without poisoning the others? <Yes> Is there anything we can do to help his nose to heal given that we have to approach the tank to feed them all and operate their light?   <Best to allow this to self-cure rather than getting involved in possibly poisoning your whole system, all livestock> Is this a doomed fish or are we doing the right thing in trying to maintain his quality of life as best we can in the circumstances? <Not likely doomed>     Please help because he would be a great loss to us and we would really like to help him to be healthier, happier and longer lived.      Many Thanks   Fran <Thank you for writing so well, completely, compassionately. I suspect that this minnow shark is involved in a situation where it has damaged its skin, releasing a chemical or few that is continuing to mal-affect its behavior. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FrightChemsFWArt.htm and the linked FAQs file above... I would add a modicum of activated carbon in your filter/flow path here in attempt to filter out this/these materials. Bob Fenner>

Help Bala shark with ich   4/8/06 Hi my name's Brandy.  I have a  ten gallon tank set up for 4 months now and was running smoothly.  Ammonia is 0 ppm nitrate is less than 5.0 ppm. <Good> I haven't been testing for nitrite or ph.  I have an outbreak of ich which I treated today with Super Ich Cure by API.  My tank had aquarium salt added a few weeks ago.  The problem is that when I added the treatment for the ich on of my Balas stopped swimming. <Yes... is rather toxic... BTW, this minnow-shark species needs to ultimately be in a much larger system> He is still breathing, but lying upside-down on the bottom of the tank or on a plant (fake btw). <Yikes... very bad.>   I am not sure what I can do for him at this point. <If it were me/mine, I would add some activated carbon to your filter, flow path... to remove the "medicine" quick...>   I vacuumed the gravel and did a 30% water change because I was afraid that he would get more infested if I waited. <Good move> I would like to try a salt dip, but don't want to push him over the edge.  I have a  3 blue pearl Danios, a Cory cat, a small Pleco, and two Balas.  Every one else is fine only the Balas have ich I think.  I do know how (now) big they get and was planning on moving them into my 38 gallon this weekend, but alas the Ick struck!  Thanks for all your help! <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm I would only use half-doses of Malachite Green on "sharks", small Characoids, catfishes... and elevated temperature to treat ich. Bob Fenner>

Bala Shark deformed mouth - 03/11/2006 Hi... great web site but I could not find the answer to this question I have a Bala shark for almost a year now.. very healthy... today I noticed his mouth is staying open ..have never seen this before... he cannot close it for some reason... help... thanks Keith Brown <Mmm, might be that your dissolved oxygen is just low (increasing aeration should solve this), but there are instances of genetic problems with this species (where the mouth develops in a warped fashion), and the possibility that the animal was damaged physically (they are "great" jumpers...). Bob Fenner>

Bloody Bala? - 03/08/2005 Hi Crew, I have looked over your website, but have not seen anything that can answer my question. I appreciate your help. <We'll do what we can, then!> One of my Bala Sharks, has a top fin that  is completely red, not red streaks.  I didn't notice any red on it yesterday but today the whole fin is as red as a tomato.  The Bala seems to be ok otherwise, eating and such. I am wondering if this could be in relation to my plants.   <Mm, it is likelier that this is an injury....  physical damage.  Look towards aggressive tankmates, possible "danger" zones in the tank....> My swords, seem to not be very healthy, Browning and rotting on the tips.   <Many, many things could cause this; it is likely not related to the Bala's problem; however, poor water quality or other such factors would affect both fish and plants.> Nitrates, Nitrites, ph, all, are within safe ranges. <Mm, "safe" isn't necessarily "safe"....  Test again, with good, liquid reagent test kits (not dipstick-type strips), and be certain that ammonia and nitrite are ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.> Temp is around 78-80.  Thank you for your time and advice, Paige <At this point, I would observe closely the behaviour of this fish and his tankmates, and see if you can find any possible cause for injury.  It may be worthwhile to consider a quarantine tank if the animal's health begins to decline, or if the fin begins to show signs of infection.  All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Bala Shark Behavior/Ick... troubles  1/16/06 Hello,   <Hi there>   I have had 2 Bala sharks for about a week now, and they seem active,  it's just that they are constantly running up and down the left side of  my fish tank (20g) as if they are crazy seeing their reflections or  something. Is there something wrong? I have never heard of this!   <I have... not atypical at all... BTW: This tank is about as long as this species grows to...>   Also, last night before i turned the aquarium light off, all of my fish  (2 Balas, one female and one male swordtail, and 6 zebra Danios) seemed  to be doing fine. But this morning, (so unfortunate!!) one of my zebras  had died, and the male swordtail had died. The male had apparently died  from Ick (which showed no signs the night before) and the Ick has now  spread to one of my other Danios and the female swordtail. I treated  the tank with Ick treatment capsules, <Ingredients?> and i also quarantined the two  sick fish separately with treatment. Was this the right thing to do? <... Please see WWM re FW ich... need to raise temperature, assure that the medication used isn't absorbed otherwise...> If  my two sick fish make it through the Ick, how long after they seem  better should i add them to my main fish tank again?   <Mmm, your system "has" the ich...>   I have also heard that Ick is caused by sudden stress level or sudden  temperature changes in your fish tank. <Often, yes, these are the two principal factors> My temperature has stayed at 78  degrees since I have set up the tank a week and a half ago, <... is this tank cycled?> and the  fish in my tank seem to give each other no problems at all. I'm a  little confused, and frustrated. Any help you could give me would be  awesome.      Thanks, Jaime <Please see WWM (and quick) re Biological Cycling, Testing as well. Bob Fenner>

My Tri- Colored Shark might be constipated! Forget that prairie stuffing, here comes Mongo! And high ammonia, nitrite, mis-mixed tropicals and goldfish, and likely poor nutrition and maintenance 10/16/05 <<Or!  Someone went on a titling spree.>> I have a fresh water aquarium. In my tank I have 4 Gouramis: 2 of which are dwarf Gouramis, 1 Pictus catfish, two large Gold Fish and one small Goldfish  <Mmm, are misplaced together... the tropicals need to be in a separate system, circumstances (water quality, temperature) than the goldfish> (we had them left over from a 10 gallon tank and are very healthy), and 1Tri Color shark (occasionally some feeding fish for the catfish no more than 4 at a time). <Not smart... see WWM re> I test the water every week sometimes every two weeks my last reading was Ph 7.2 High Ph 7.8 Ammonia 4.0 ppm (high) <Deadly toxic> Nitrite .25 ppm (high) Nitrate 0 ppm (low) Reading last week gave me all good results. Aside from some elevated results I have noticed that My Tri Colored shark has a really large belly and after feeding the fish and hour later or so I would see all the other fish at some point or the other with a trail of poop, all except the tri color shark. Over night I notice that his belly continues to get larger and larger.  Please help he is a beautiful shark, I don't know what to do to help this little guy get some relief. He hasn't been sluggish or anything he is still very active swimming all around the aquarium very fast. What can I do to help him. Thanks Julie <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm and the linked files above... You should stop feeding period, change your water out per WWM daily till the ammonia is below 1.0 ppm... and ASAPractical secure separate quarters for your goldfish, adequate filtration... Bob Fenner> 

Chlorine Problems 8/5/05 Hello, First time participating in a web based FYI session.  I thought I would send along my experience with the Bala swimming inverted (simulating an infected swim bladder) and listless with heavy breathing and sometimes they dart in all directions. I have lost about 2 dozen fish in my experience and would like to share what I found.  I came across your page searching for albino Labeo chrysophekadion since I have a 16-18 year old fish and thought I would start searching for companions.  Anyhow,  I had 8 Bala's all around the 7-9 inch size in a tank which was fueled by well water.  I moved to city water and within the first two water changes lost all of them to toxic poisoning.  I change my water once every 2 - 4 weeks and about 1/3 to 1/2 the water at a time.  They were in a 70 gallon tank. This occurred 7 seven years ago and with experimentation and scientific methods I noticed it was mostly related to the chlorine levels in the supply water.  My pattern was that I restocked the Bala's in spring and every winter they would expire to poisoning.  Throughout the past seven years a water softener was added to minimize some of the incoming toxins, and to a point it did make a difference.  I found out that the cities water department was increasing their chlorine levels in the water supply for a failing pump and well.  Last summer the pump was replaced and I have had no casualties since when executing a water change.  I found out that silver scaled fish are more susceptible to toxic poisoning so I suppose that Arowanas and Silver Dollars are in this category also. I do take precautions when preparing to change my water especially in the winter. The city engineer reminded me that the chlorine levels will stay higher in colder temperatures since it doesn't have a chance to "burn off".  So when changing water in late November to the end of March I never change more than a 1/3 of water unless my chlorine test strip (made by Jungle) assures me that the level is safe.  I noticed that a lot of Bala Shark discussion occurs on the page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwshkfaqs.htm and I think that Chlorine Levels (especially from government water supplies instead of private wells) could be the culprit.  Hope my experiences help and maybe provides longer lives for the sharks in the hobbyist tanks. Robert < We will pass this along so others may learn from your experiences.-Chuck>

Tri color sharks I have three tri color sharks and recently I have noticed that one is bright red around his fins and is spotting. I have only noticed it on one and it's behavior has been a little weird also he opens and closes his mouth rapidly. If you have any idea what it could be please e-mail me back or if you know where I could find an answer. thank you, Frank  <Not a good sign... generally this appearance is attributed to poor water quality or a trauma (these big minnows are big jumpers as you know, will know)... with septicemia, petecchia resulting (bloody markings as you relate). What I would do? A large water change, and add a teaspoon of non-iodized salt per ten gallons (just once, it doesn't go away, except with water changes), and hope for the best. This is a tough species, and if the specimen has hurt itself, it will almost assuredly heal. Bob Fenner>

Red tail sharks I have three red tail sharks 1is big and the other small, My smaller ones are doing fine but my big is unusually is has a dark coloration nears it gills and for two days it was extremely big and no it is thinner but has a blackish colour by its gills all of my other fish are doing fine except for these one. <Alas, the symptoms are not very specific for diagnosis...please test overall water chemistry and look for deficiencies. Feed medicated flake food for precaution if you feel it is pathogenic. Anthony Calfo>

Diseased Sharks (Minnows) Hi sir,        Sir my silver sharks are losing their tails and skin is tearing apart and as a result inner part of there body which is of white color is visible and they also stop eating. Hurry up as they are dying. ammonia 0 nitrite 0 temp 26C ph 7.5 37 gallon 18 fishes in it. I have used salt and RIDALL. <Please do a search using the Google search box at http://www.wetwebmedia.com and also do a search on your favorite search engine to find more info on these sharks. Also, check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm to see if there is a description of the disease and treat your sharks accordingly. Ronni>

Re: Ich Hi sir,        There was a disease in my tank in which white spots appear on my goldfish lion head and I added a medicine name (RIDALL) plus salt and in seven days white spots disappear. But my silver sharks have white spots on their body and is not going. Tem 26C Ph 7.5 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Tank size 37 gallon Fishes 17 What do I do now? Change of medicine or some thing else? The silver sharks are also loosing there balance. <Well, you really shouldn't have goldfish and tropicals mixed together. The temperature your tank is at is perfect for the tropicals but way too warm for the goldfish. But anyway, the disease you described is Ich. I would do a water change and then treat with a different medication. Ick Guard is a good one and so is Maroxy. Ronni>

Diseased Bala Shark >Hi, >>Hello! >I hope you guys can help me!   >>Me too. >I have a very sick looking Bala shark and don't know what else to do for it.   >>That's why we're here. >Here's the situation: I have an 18 gallon tank that has been doing very well for about seven months.  I'm using an undergravel filter and have lots of healthy plants in the tank.   >Current fish in the tank:   2 Bala sharks (largest one is about 8cm and looking very healthy - the smaller one's sick) 2 Clown loaches (fat and healthy) 1 Bristlenose catfish 2 Serpae tetras 9 black neon tetras 2 male dwarf Gourami 1 female dwarf Gourami 3 gold long-finned Danios All of these fish seem to be very healthy. But my poor shark:  It started with red streaks on the fins, then progressed to what looks like velvet all over its body and stiff fins.  The shark is still eating well and behaving normally.  I tried using Waterlife Protozin (protozoacide/fungicide) for the four day treatment - half dose because of the loaches.  But it's now a week later and there is no improvement (slightly worse! :-() >>Right.  Sounds as though he had a primary bacterial infection which left him susceptible to the velvet.   >I have checked ammonia, nitrate, pH - all is fine.  Temperature is stable at 26 degrees (78 degrees Fahrenheit?) What else can I do??  Should I try the medication again? Hoping you can help.  Amanda. >>Right, well, I would put him in his own hospital tank.  This doesn't need to be large at all, or even a fish tank, per se.  A container that is chemically inert (non-metal), of around 5-10 gallons, that you can put a small heater in would suffice.  Then, I would put him on Melafix or Spectrogram (both broad spectrum antibiotics), with the addition of Kosher (pure) salt at the ratio of 1tsp/gal.  The salt both helps the fish deal with the stress of osmotic pressure and seems to boost the effects of antibiotics. >>Please search our library here--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm for more information, and check these next two links--they're charts on medications, uses, and dosages. here--> http://www.petswarehouse.com/Fishmed3.htm >>And here--> http://www.petswarehouse.com/Fishmed2.htm >>Hopefully this is of some help.  Marina

Re: Red Gills  4/17/03 The redness of the gills is on the inside of the gills so I guess they are ok.<OK>  The tank is a 10 gallon with heater and Whisper 30 filter.  White gravel with some blue sea glass mixed thru. I believe the sharks are ok and will transfer them soon.<Glad to hear that they are fine.  If anything changes please feel free to write back!> Thanks for the response,<No problem!> Kevin Kirrane<Phil>

Platies & Bala Shark Hi there, <Hello!> I have a 30 gallon tank with 5 platies, 4 tetras, 1 molly and a lobster. The lobster doesn't seem to bother the fish, but he has been known to try and catch them from time to time (when he's getting ready to molt). I know that seems mean, but the pet guy said it would be okay. <You may find that he will eventually catch one but for now its fine.> Two questions: (1) My platies tend to hang around the bottom of my tank - ignoring the lobster. They hide near the lobsters hideout, and under plants very near or even on the bottom. Is this normal? <Platies are generally a middle water column type fish but its not uncommon for them to hang around near the bottom. As long as their fins aren't clamped and they are showing no signs of disease I wouldn't worry.> (2) I lost my Bala shark today. I haven't had much luck with them. I'm starting to get discouraged. I checked my nitrate and ph levels both fine. The rest of the fish are okay. I came home tonight to the horror of my shark floating upside down - still breathing a little. Am I doing something wrong? Any advice? <Unfortunately, your system is way too small for a Bala. They can get over a foot in length. In addition to testing Nitrate and pH you should also test Nitrite and Ammonia. Those are the ones to really worry about (don't discount the others though!) and are common killers of fish in many home aquariums. Another thing I've noticed recently is the poor quality of Bala livestock that is available in stores. This didn't used to be the case but of the three stores (in 2 cities) that I've checked recently, there wasn't a single Bala that I would have even considered bringing home. I have no idea what the cause of this is, it could be poor breeding or handling, or any number of other things. It really makes it tough for the people who are looking to buy healthy livestock. But anyway, for your system I would suggest sticking with what you have and not getting another Bala. If you want something a bit different than what you have, maybe get a few Blackline Penguinfish (often sold as Penguin Tetras). These are a nice active fish with the silver and black coloring but they stay small, under 2, so you could add several of them without overcrowding your system.> Thanks!!! Hayley <You're welcome! Ronni> PS Cool Web Site! <Thank you much!!>

Balas Tail-Down I have three young Balas (3 inches) in a 125-gallon tank with some Corys and some Buenos Aires Tetras. They all have been doing well until today the Balas seem to want to hang around the outlet of one of the Fluval 404 outlets. Also they have seemed in the past, when stationary in the water, to remain level of slightly nose-down. Today when they are not swimming, their tails seem to drop, possibly because they want to stick their noses into the outlet stream (underwater) or possibly because they are having difficulty remaining level. Ammonia and nitrites are zero. I don't have a nitrates kit.  pH is 8.4 (always that high). Carbonate hardness is 6. Any idea what the trouble could be? They are definitely behaving differently. They still dart around the tank, but when they are stationary, they seem to be in distress. Thanks for your continuing help. Charlie <Since this is happening to all three of them I would venture to guess its something in the water. Are they breathing heavily? Are there any other symptoms? To start with, I would do a partial water change and see if that helps, probably around 20-25%. And do some checking to see if you can get the ph down, that is way high for these types of fish. Go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com and do a search for lowering ph to see what you can find out. Ronni>

Re: Balas Tail-Down Ronni, thanks for your reply. <Good morning and you're welcome> I do know how to lower the pH. I had decided not to fool with it since my tap water is high and I didn't want to risk erratic changes when trying to keep it stable and low. The consensus seemed to be it might be better to leave it high and stable. Should I try to keep it lower? <I can definitely see the reasoning behind that. I've successfully kept tetras and barbs at a pH of 8.2 and it is hard to lower it and keep it low consistently when your tap water is high so yes, go ahead and leave it alone. I was finally able to lower mine a bit by changing the substrate, the tank originally had crushed coral in it and by changing it to crushed granite I was able to drop the pH to 7.8 which is still high but at least a little better.> The fish are no better today. One seems to be having trouble keeping is tail up (his tail was a little deformed when I bought him--previous injury? and the other two are not behaving normally, either. <You know, I was at my LFS yesterday and noticed a tank of Balas that had deformed tails too. Several of them had tails that pointed upwards, some had tails that pointed down, and ones whole body was arched downward. I wonder if its something in the breeding now, possibly too much inbreeding like what's happening to the feeder goldfish?> I had done a (scheduled) 25% water change before I wrote to you...forgot to mention it. I did a scheduled filter cleaning today. Didn't see any problems there. Water parameters still are as usual--no ammonia or nitrites. Temp fine. Water clear. <Ah good.> All other fish are fine (sensitive Corys, too). One thing, this morning I did notice a small nick in one Bala's tail. I'm not sure it's new but I haven't seen it before. There was a young (new) pictus in the tank. Maybe he has been harassing them at night? I removed him. Seems like the tetras would have been easier prey for him though. <Was the Pictus quarantined before being added to the tank? And how big is he? Its possible that he was picking on them and that the Tetras were just too fast for him to catch but the Pictus generally don't pick on things until they get a little bigger than what is sold in most stores. If he wasn't quarantined its also possible that he carried some disease that the Balas got, they tend to be more sensitive to diseases than many other fish. Are they getting enough vegetable matter in their food? You should have some softer live plants for them to feed on continuously as they are mostly herbivorous. Also, they tend to be sensitive to nitrates in addition to ammonia and nitrites so you may want to get a Nitrates test kit or take a water sample to your LFS and have them test it. Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm there's a ton of info on minnow sharks there and you might be able to pinpoint something.> Should I do another water change today? <Possibly. Read the above URL and related FAQs first and go from there. Ronni>

Sick Bala shark (08/02/03) <Hi! Ananda here today, with Phil helping out on this one...> I have recently put a Bala shark into my tank (about 5 days ago) to accompany the previous one I have because I heard they get over stressed sometimes while alone, but I am starting to think it may be getting sick. <Did you quarantine this fish before you put him into your tank?> Its nose seems to be pointing down at the bottom of the tank at a fairly steep angle. I looked over all you disease charts and couldn't find any other symptoms matching this. Could the fish still be adjusting to the tank? <How long has it been head standing? Five days should be sufficient to adjust to new surroundings. This kind of behavior could be indicative of a swim bladder problem, or be something caused by inadequate diet or water quality problems.> I have a 15 gallon hex aquarium containing 3 small Cherry Barbs 1 male Betta 3 Serpae Tetras 2 Bala sharks (other seems to be fine) 1 rainbow shark all the rest of the fish seem to be fine <That makes me think this was something the fish had before you got it... I would pull the sick fish immediately and put him in a quarantine tank. If you're concerned about him getting stressed from being alone in the tank, get a couple of small mirrors and put those against the glass on the outside of the tank. You'll need to do *daily* water changes to keep the water quality good. (And that's going to be particularly important, since the fish's problem could have been caused by poor water quality at the fish store.) Feed all of your fish a good quality food, one that's enriched with extra vitamins.> is this to many fish to have in a 15 gallon hex? (I know that this tank is to small to house the 2 Balas but they are small and I will be moving them as soon as I get my 55 gallon up) <I would move the rainbow shark along with the Balas. After that, you should be okay. With all the bottom feeders gone from the tank, though, I'd recommend getting a few ghost shrimp -- the clear/white shrimp usually sold as feeders -- to help with the janitorial duties.> The tank is filtered by a bio-wheel power-filter filter which I have recently replaced the cartridge. <I generally rinse out the cartridges every week or so, and replace them when it's no longer possible to get all the gunk out of the blue filter material.> also I recently did a major water change about 2 weeks ago (over 50%) because I read in the book that you should do a major water change every 6 months to a year, is this true and could that be the problem? <Hmmm. I've never heard of this major water change schedule idea. I do hope you're doing water changes every other week, rather than just every six months... smaller, more frequent water changes are better than less frequent large water changes. --Ananda> Greg Vanos

Bala Shark I have recently put a Bala shark into my tank (about 5 days ago) to accompany the previous one I have because I heard they get over stressed sometimes while alone, <Sometimes> but I am starting to think it may be getting sick. Its nose seems to be pointing down at the bottom of the tank at a fairly steep angle. <Also not unnatural, particularly in too-small settings> I looked over all you disease charts and couldn't find any other symptoms matching this. Could the fish still be adjusting to the tank? <Yes> I have a 15 gallon hex aquarium containing <... this tank is too small for this species... it gets about as long as this aquarium is wide...> 3 small Cherry Barbs 1 male Betta 3 Serpae Tetras 2 Bala sharks (other seems to be fine) 1 rainbow shark all the rest of the fish seem to be fine is this to many fish to have in a 15 gallon hex? <Mmm, just the Bala's should be moved. The Rainbow Shark may go after the Betta in time> (I know that this tank is to small to house the 2 Balas but they are small and I will be moving them as soon as I get my 55 gallon up) <Ah, good> The tank is filtered by a bio-wheel power-filter filter which I have recently replaced the cartridge. also I recently did a major water change about 2 weeks ago (over 50%) because I read in the book that you should do a major water change every 6 months to a year, is this true and could that be the problem? <Possibly. I would hold off unless it's a dire emergency in doing any more than about a 25% water change... and then use water that was treated and stored for a week or more. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm Bob Fenner> Greg Vanos

Rainbow Shark woes Hi! What a great web site! I'll keep this short... over the past 2 weeks I have been fighting Ich. It was 3 clown loaches that I bought that I did not quarantine that got sick. I have been a hobbyist ever since I was a kid and I have NEVER had Ich.  I treated the 20 gallon tank with Nox-Ich, elevated the temp to 82 F and the spots only became worse. I researched web sites and did the aquarium salt treatment 1 tsp/gallon leaving the water for 5 days.  I have now lost 10 smaller fish including the loaches. I was sorry to see them go but my main concern is my 4 year old 6" Rainbow shark.  I noticed yesterday that he is breathing fast through his mouth (he never does that) and his scales along his belly appear raised and he appears bloated. His color also has changed, instead of being dark black; he is now a grey color. I don't think it's dropsy because I've seen that before. I did a 50% water change but he still appears to be stressed. Please help because I will be so upset if I lose him. My filtration is an Aquaclear 300. Thanks, Liz <<Dear Liz, do you test your water? I recommend you get it tested for ammonia (should be zero), nitrites (should be zero) and nitrates (as low as possible, between 20-60ppm on average). If nitrates are too high, you need to do a bunch of water changes to bring it down. Half the battle is good water quality. The clown loaches are problematic when it comes to ich. They are extremely susceptible. I will assume you removed your carbon from your filter, and it's good that you raised the tank temp to 82 degrees. Keep it stable, though...keep a thermometer in the tank, cuz if your heater is malfunctioning and the temp fluctuates, it could make things worse. Also, the salt treatment takes time to work well, and Time is something you don't have when treating aggressive ich cases. Salt can take up to a couple of weeks to actually be effective. Get the temp up another notch, to 84F, add a respectable ich med, like Quick Cure or Super Ich Cure, and make sure you have adequate circulation. Also, cross your fingers. I hope it's not too late to save your fishy. Keep treating until the spots disappear, even if the medication indicates a two day treatment. Read and follow the instructions for dosage levels. When the spots are gone, do a 50% water change, paying strict attention to the water temperature, and replace your carbon. -Gwen>>

Injury to freshwater shark Dear WWM Crew...first let me say that I am an amateur so please excuse my very limited knowledge of freshwater species. My husband and I owned an Oscar for the last several years, who sadly passed on recently. In an attempt to repopulate our 30 gal. tank (Oscar was euthanized after trying diligently for one year to repair a damage swim bladder), we changed the water and slowly added some new freshwater species...we now have a Bala shark, a molly, a catfish, a "sucker" fish, a crab (who does nothing, but hang around at the top the heater), a huge goldfish, and two other minnow/shark varieties which I have been unable to identify. The first is small, black with an orange tail (quite aggressive chasing the Bala all around the tank) and the second, which is the subject of my question email) is silver with blue horizontal streaks and a snout that looks like a traditional shark.  This guy has been shy and skittish since we put him in the tank (he and the Bala were our first two additions, all the others came later)...about two weeks after a small sore appeared on one side near the rear of his body.  It looked like an injury and my husband thought that in panic he brushed up against an ornamental rock in the tank. The problem is that is has been several weeks and it is getting larger and not healing. I have spent a couple hours searching your FAQ, but I fear my inexperience isn't allowing me to properly identify this problem.  However, some basic info, there does not appear to be anything hanging from the wound, like parasites; he stays in one area of the tank floating closer to the top.  He seems to be interested in the food, but I don't actually see him eat.  I change the water at least once a week because I'm having a clouding problem too.  I've tried treating him with Maracyn, but not a complete course because I'm afraid for the crab. I've also tried the Stress Coat hoping the aloe will help.  I would be grateful for any guidance you can offer.  Kim <<Hello. It sounds like you have an iridescent shark with a bacterial infection. You will need to treat him with an antibiotic. Simply remove the crab and put him in a goldfish (or other type) of bowl for a couple of weeks, he will survive nicely, don't worry. You should go to your Local Fish Store, and ask them what they have on their shelves to help with this problem. Some good choices are Super Sulfa, Ampicillin, or even tetracycline. When you go to your LFS, take along a sample of your tank water, and have the LFS test your water for you. Get ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates tested. Ammonia and nitrite should be zero, nitrates should be low, in the 20ppm to 60ppm range for these fish. If your nitrates are too high, lower them with more frequent, partial water changes. How long has your tank been running? Have you changed any filter media lately? Do NOT change your media all at once, you need to stagger it to keep your good bacteria working. Also, if you can remove the shark to a small hospital tank, it would help greatly, since antibiotics will kill those good ole beneficial bacteria in your filter. Which means re-cycling your tank, which means high ammonia and nitrite problems. A small ten gallon with an Aquaclear Mini filter will do the trick, if you can.  BTW, your other shark, the gray with the red tail, is probably a red-tailed black shark. Also, your sick iridescent shark should be kept in a group, schooling fish will generally be skittish due to the stress of being alone. He will grow to around three feet in length. The 30 gallon you are keeping him in will not keep any large fish for their lifetimes, you will need to trade them in at your LFS when they get to be around 4-5 inches long. Once they get bigger, they become harder to transfer. No, they will not stop growing, they will become ill if not allowed to do so, and die. Just like your Oscar, who obviously got too big for your tank. Oscars grow to 15 inches, and any fish that is not allowed to grow will become stunted, sicken, and die. Please reconsider the fish you have, and please always RESEARCH your fish species before you add them to a small tank! Here is a link for you: http://www.aquariacentral.com/articles/isharks.shtml -Gwen>>

Injury? Freshwater Minnow/Shark Dear Gwen, Thank you for the advice and information.  I feel very badly that we were not more diligent in understanding the varieties of fish for the size of our tank.  I guess we incorrectly assumed that our LFS, knowing the size of our tank, would not have recommended such species.  Live and learn.  Thanks again.  Kim   <<Hey, Kim. Please do not feel badly about past mistakes, they were only mistakes. You now have the chance to learn about new species, and the Internet is also a great place to find help. Try not to depend on fish store help, many stores have under-qualified staff. Not all stores, though. Some are great. I work in a pet store myself and I know some extremely over-qualified people in the industry. What you should do is learn as much as you can on your own, use the Google search, and also start asking questions at your local fish stores. Do not be afraid to ask questions! If the employee doesn't know, he/she should be able to direct you to someone who can. Ask specific questions, but take all answers with a grain of salt. Fishkeeping is very subjective. There are many gray areas, not all is black and white. But from asking, you will find out who knows what, and eventually you will find an employee you can trust. Many stores have people who tend to specialize in different areas. For example, our store has a cichlid person  who knows NOTHING about anything but, a goldfish person, one guy who is totally into tetras, three overly-efficient saltwater people, and some general help, etc. No one leaves our store without learning something :P But we have ALL made the mistakes you have made. The great thing about you is that you are willing to do something about it, and act on your new knowledge. You will become a better fishkeeper for it. You would be surprised and saddened if you knew how many people do not :( -Gwen>>

Bala Shark Missing? We have 3 Bala shark's as well as a few other types.  We have had them for about 2 months now.  Two of the Bala shark's over the last few weeks have started to stick to each other as they swim around the tank (we just figured they we mating or fighting with one another).  Today however one is missing!!  We saw the fish around 11am and around 1pm (few hours later) the fish was gone.  We have looked every where.  We have a full cover on the tank but we still checked all around in the pump, in the filter, looked around the stand (knowing these fish tend to jump) and the shark is no where!  I have had fish eat other one's in the past but never so fast without leaving a trace.  Does this sound like a mating or fighting issue? Do you think the other's could have eaten the fish so fast without any of us noticing?  We are just baffled!  Thanks for any help. Williams Family >>Dear Williams Family; Sorry to hear of your lost fishie, it is possible he may still turn up alive. I have seen fish burrow into the substrate or beneath decor in order to avoid aggression, though I've never seen a Bala shark do so. You are correct in the fact that these fish jump, they can sail pretty far through the air. If I were you, I would check beneath all other furniture in the room, as he could have flopped quite a distance. What size is the tank? You should keep Balas in groups of 5 or more, they will be much better off. Also, keep your nitrates as low as possible with regular partial water changes in order to prevent disease. Good luck, and I hope he was just hiding! -Gwen<<

Bala Shark Spazzing Out I currently own 1 Bala Shark in a 55 gallon with about 20 or so other community fish ranging from Dwarf Gouramis to a School of 8 Neons.  I bought the Bala about 8 months ago.  He's been real active, zips across the tank, sometimes chases other fish etc..  (I have a full hood, so no jumping)  I have had no problems with him whatsoever.  I bought him at about 3", he's now about 5 1/2" the last week, It was feeding time and I turned on the light.  He was spazzing.  He was zipping across the tank (sometimes upside down) crashing into the walls etc.  He then shot straight up, tried to jump out, hit the hood, dove straight down and buried himself in the 2" gravel at amazing speeds and smashed into the bottom of the tank . I thought he was dead and was real scared.  I grabbed my net, scooped him up and started moving him through the water (His gills were still moving) after about 2 minutes, he sort of woke up and went swimming off.  so It's almost as if he knocked himself out.  So anyways, next couple of days he's fine, swimming fast and active, but not crazy or anything. this morning, I turn on the light for feeding and he's spazzing again, it's very violent and a bit scary and my girlfriend won't even go near the tank when he does it.  He has no discolorations, no white spots, no "hole in the head" no slime on the skin, nothing unusual at all about him (or any other fish in the tank).  My PH is currently 7.0, heat is running about 81 degrees, I'm running a Penguin 330 dual bio wheel (which is rated for a 70 gallon tank) I do about a 15-20% water change every weekend (and use some water conditioner and ammonia/ammonium conditioner).  As well as vacuum the tank and clean the filter cartridges.  (Feeding them TetraMin flakes and sometimes bloodworms) (the Bala is not skinny and he is eating)  I'm wondering if this is normal? Is he spazzing because he's stressed out for some reason?  Any help or insight would be appreciated.  thanks Rob Gillespie  >>Rob, what are your ammonia, nitrite, and NITRATE readings? There are a few things that could be bothering your fish. One, aggression from another fish. Two, a parasite. Three, high ammonia/nitrite or nitrate readings. Four, stray current from a broken heater. Is your pH always at 7.0? What is your tapwater pH? If your tank pH is a lot lower, there could be a problem in the tank with DOC's. Once you have established that your NH3/4, NO2 and NO3 and pH readings are within normal parameters, we can think about other causes, like a parasite. If you think this is the problem, then you will need to treat with a good quality anti-parasitic medication, like Super Ich Cure or Quick Cure. Read the labels, since some fish need to be treated at half dosage. -Gwen

Erratic Bala Shark? Hi,   <Hello> I have had one Bala Shark for about 6 months now.  It gets along great with all of my other fish which are: 1 angel fish, 2 Cory cats, 1 Pleco, 2 mollies, and 11 neon tetras.  About a week ago I noticed that the Bala sharks behavior was even more erratic than usual.  It is almost a hyper behavior.  It doesn't dart from one side of the tank to the other but it does dart around a bit and is overly erratic. <Some Balas go a bit "nutty" as they become older.  But, it might be some sort of parasite bothering the fish.  My large iridescent sharks had gill parasites and they would suddenly zip back and forth and kind of thrash a bit.> It used to be calmer than it is now. It is as if it might be stressed about something. It will jerk around like it is excited.  I went ahead and cleaned the tank and did a water change a few days ago. <Good plan, sometimes just making sure the fish have new fresh water cures them.> The pH is at 7 and the temp is at 80.  The temp usually stays in between 76-80.  I have a 38 gallon tank and I just bought a 5 gallon as an isolation tank. <Very Good!!!  An isolation tank is one of the best investments a hobbyist can make.> I put the Bala in the isolation tank and started treating it with Quick Cure.  Although, I see nothing physically wrong with it except for the unusual behavior.  I've never seen it act like this before.  Do you have any suggestions for me as to what is going on with it?     Thanks,   Stacy <Treat with a medicine a little more powerful (be sure to follow the instructions) I would use Maracide or CopperSafe, Use Maracyn-Two, Maracyn, Tetracycline or TriSulfa to prevent secondary infections from bacteria.  Good luck, and make sure the fish seems healthy before releasing it back into the show tank. -Magnus>

Injured Silvertip Hi there~ I have a baffling mystery. This evening when I was feeding my fish I noticed my [smaller] Silvertip shark had a red dorsal fin. Upon closer view I can clearly see it's filled with blood. None of the other fish were picking with him and he doesn't appear to have any bites out of any of his (I assume a he) fins. This is so disheartening! I removed him from the tank he was in (all the fish in there are semi-aggressive and I didn't want them to start messing with him) and put him in the smaller community tank. There is some swelling on his body around the base of the fin and no blood is oozing out. I can't imagine what happened. None of the rocks are out of place and he hasn't been swimming erratically and bumping into anything. The fin is almost completely upright but I can't help the feeling that it might be broken somehow. He is doing his best to swim and stay upright but I think he is getting tired. He will swim then ride the current and then swim some more. I don't know if he's going to make it but I'd like to try. Two out of six total Silvertips remain. I've had a hard time with these guys. The only thing I have at the moment to treat him with is Bio Coat. I put that in the water of the smaller tank before transferring him. Is there anything I can do? Some tank history: 60 gallon - 1 Betta, 1 Pleco (brown with spots), 2 Parrots, 2 Black Stripped Silver Dollars, 3 Tiger Barbs, 4 Barbs (Orange), 7 (Forgive me I don't know the name of these guys) clear (as in see through) with neon edging (each one has a different color: pink, green, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and black)...whew, if you know their name that would be great. For now I just call them Mr. [then their color], and 2 Silvertip Sharks. I originally had 2 spotted puffers (yellowish/green, black spots with a white underbelly) but they were very aggressive towards my Silvertips (that's how I lost the first one). Now they have their own 10 gallon. (2nd) 10 gallon - 1 Pleco (same as above only much darker), 1 Black Skirt, 1 Scissor Tail, 3 Neon Tetras, 4 Goldfish, and a mysterious snail that appeared out of no where. This is the tank I put the injured Silvertip in. I apologize for the lengthiness of this email. I did search for a possible answer ahead of time...came close but no hits. I am a new fish mommy and love every minute of it. I even managed to nurse one of the Silvertip Sharks back to health after it had gotten picked on by the puffers only to have it die from high Nitrate stress. Very sad!! I don't want to loose another one if I can help it. I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this...trust I have tons more questions but first my wounded fish. Thanks, ~Nad  <<Hello. What do your nitrates measure in both tanks? Both your tanks seem overstocked to me. Also, neon tetras and goldfish absolutely do NOT belong in the same tank. Way different lifestyles, temp requirements, feeding, pH, etc, there. When any species of fish is kept in the wrong environment, it leads to stress, and eventually, disease. You should try to decide who to keep and who to part with. If you remove the goldfish and return them to your LFS, it would be easier to keep the 10g as a hospital tank where you can treat the shark. You could move the neons etc into the 60g temporarily until the shark is cured. A dose of Melafix or some salt should help him out if the infection is mild. If not, he may need something stronger, like an antibiotic, I can't tell without seeing him. You will need to use good judgment to decide that. Also, please do sufficient water changes in order to keep your nitrates low and your fish healthy! Use your test kits! :) -Gwen>> 

Red Tailed Shark A few days ago we noticed that our red tailed sharks bottom lip is protruding grotesquely and is bright red, he is hanging vertically headfirst at the top of the tank. He obviously is not feeling good. Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, we have a bacterial infection running through our angels right now, which has resulted in 7 deaths since Saturday. We are treating them, since Monday, with Nitrofurazone. Any ideas as to what the problem may be, and should we euthanize him and put him out of his misery? Thanks. Zak Barrett :'( < Do a 30% water change every day before treatment and make sure the filter is clean and the carbon has been removed . This will make the medication more efficient. You shark does indeed have a bacterial infection and the medication should have some effect. If the mouth does not heal properly then he may not be able to eat. If he survives the treatment watch him to see that he gets enough to eat. If the mouth is damaged beyond repair then put him in a glass and add a couple of Alka-Seltzer tablets. The co2 in the tablets will displace the oxygen in the water and your fish will slowly drown.-Chuck> FW minnow shark disease Hello- I need a little help here. We have a 75 gallon freshwater tank. We have had what I think is an ongoing problem of some sort of disease. I have already had 2 Iridescent Sharks die. They begin to stop eating get really skinny and then just swimming all weird. Top of the tank bottom and middle. I'm a little confused I just don't see why its only the Iridescent Sharks, no one else seems to be showing any signs of disease. The first 2 died within a few days of each other,  now it has been about 3 weeks since we have had any problem and now we have it starting all over again. The tank includes 2 Bala sharks, 1 gold shark, 1 silver shark, 1 cigar shark, 2 glass cats, 1 ghost knife, 1 coolie loach, and 2 iridescent. We are running a Aqua Clear 500 and a Aqua tech 20-40. plus 2 Aqua clear 4000 power heads, for under gravel filtration. The tank has been running since June 25th of this year. When we set up the tank we started it with A miracle and a 700 gph pump (little giant). In about September we noticed a crack in the sump and immediately replaced it with the filtration that is on it now. About 3 weeks the filter crashed we first noticed the first iridescent swimming disoriented, and then he stopped eating, then died, The 2nd one followed shortly there after. We suspect the tank recycled causing stress to induce these deaths. It has now been about a month and we seem to be having the same problem again with another iridescent only this time there seems to be damage and some sort of spot on the top fin. If there is anything you can do to help or maybe give us an idea of what this might be please contact me by e-mail. < First of all we need to evaluate the overall health of the tank. For that you need to get some testing done. Measure the ammonia and nitrites. They should be zero all the time. Any readings mean that the nitrogenous wastes are not being completely being broken down by the bacteria and you will need to address that. Secondly is get a reading on the total nitrates . They should be less than 25 ppm but some fish may not be able to handle even that high of a reading and you iridescent sharks may fall into that category. They may not die out right but instead succumb to diseases for which they never recover from. The nitrates can be reduced by servicing the filter regularly and by doing weekly water changes. The amount of water is determined by the fish and how they are being kept. For general purposes we usually recommend about 25% per week.-Chuck> Jamie

Frogs and Bala sharks I recently began a small semi aggressive community of fish and aquatic frogs (2). After about 2 months, I am experiencing some problems with my tank. The frogs are faring just fine, but I am having problems keeping a Bala shark alive. I have gone through two now. The only other fish in the 2.5gallon tank is a Betta fish and he seemed to get along fine with the Balas. I am aware that stress from the 2 albino African clawed frogs could have caused the shark's demise, but I am believe it had something to do with the water quality. It has become cloudy and foamy.  I used spring water that I treated before I put the fish in and I clean the tank monthly, using AquaSafe as a water conditioner.  Recently, the water took on a pungent, stale odor and became cloudy. I tried cleaning the tank and the cloudiness continued. A few days later, the surface of the water started frothing (or foaming) in front of the filter and circulating around the tank. My first question is: what causes this foaming and what can I do to alleviate it before it kills another of my fish? The 2nd Bala died yesterday 2 days after the foam started and the first one died almost immediately after purchase. The second question is: Is it wrong to keep those three species together?  Was the stress level too high for the Bala? My third question is: Even though these are small fish in a small tank with a filter, do I need a larger tank or perhaps an aerator? Thank you for any assistance you can provide.  Sincerely, Lauren >>>Hi Lauren, A few things. First it is generally not wise to keep herps and fish in the same system unless it's properly designed to accommodate them. Especially in such a small system. Second, what kind of filter do you have? When you say you clean the tank monthly, what exactly do you mean? Do you empty it an strip it down? Third, Bala sharks get HUGE, and are active and nervous fish. 2.5 gallons is too small *in the extreme* for this species. Long term, 55 gallon minimum. Without any other info, my advice would be to get a larger tank for your fish, and leave the frogs in the 2.5. Get a good hang-on BioWheel filter or a canister filter, and DO NOT break the tank down when you clean it. Any filter pads and such need to rinsed in water from the tank to avoid killing the bacteria in the filter. Jim<<<

FW shark Hi. I have a small shark about four inches long. He is black with a bluish neon stripe on his side. <Painted> Today he looked very thin and he looks pale (grayish) his (or her) eyes seem to be bulging out. <Good observation, bad sign> I don't know what's wrong could we be feeding him food that's not good enough we are feeding him Flakes (like for tropical fish) we also have mollies and other small fish in the tank he is very nice to them but he never gets any food (that I see) we have a plant in there also. I don't know what to do! He is usually energetic and swimming all around the tank but now he is just very low in one place. Please mail me back ASAP. Thanks, Lauren <Mmm, I would try some meatier food... that sinks... look into "sinking pellets" and wafers... and try some frozen/defrosted foods... quick! As per the note above... your fish's health may be impugned by its having been painted (the blue streak)... avoid painted fish. Bob Fenner>

Re: painted shark "Hi. I have a small shark about four inches long. He is black with a bluish neon stripe on his side. <Painted> Today he looked very thin and he looks pale (grayish) his (or her) eyes seem to be bulging out. <Good observation, bad sign> I don't know what's wrong could be feeding him food that's not good enough we are feeding him Flakes (like for tropical fish) we also have mollies and other small fish in the tank he is very nice to them but he never gets any food (that I see) we have a plant in there also. I don't know what to do! He is usually energetic and swimming all around the tank but now he is just very low in one place. Please mail me back ASAP Thanks, Lauren <Mmm, I would try some meatier food... that sinks... look into "sinking pellets" and wafers... and try some frozen/defrosted foods... quick! As per the note above... your fish's health may be impugned by its having been painted (the blue streak)... avoid painted fish. Bob Fenner>" He is looking a little better today. We thought we would lose him but his color is back a little and his eyes aren't bulging out nearly as much. my mom is going out on her way home from work to try and find some better food. His Neon stripe you can only see like when he turns or swims fast but its definitely a neon stripe. thanks for all your advice. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Diamond Shark??? Hi there. I have a question about my diamond shark. I have noticed a white spot in front of his eye. Would you have any idea to what it might be? As far as I can see it is not Ick. Your help would be nice. Thanks Nancy <Not sure what fish you have, common names being what they are. A Google search of an image of "Diamond Shark" netted no fish. A single spot may or may not be Ick. If you see a second spot or if the fish is "flashing" against the bottom or a rock then I would assume Ick and treat with salt. But without being sure of the type of fish this is I'm not sure salt is the best cure. Some shark-like FW fish are sensitive to high salt levels. Don> 

Bala shark twitching Hello We have a 29 gallon tank with one Bala shark, 3 painted tetras, 6 zebras, 1 baby angel, 1 rainbow, 1 Gourami, 3 green cobra guppies, 3 red swords and 2 Cory cats.  Problem: Bala has been twitching since we got him 3 weeks now. We never see him eat- flakes so far. Now he is occasionally swimming nose down. Any suggestions?  smiley <Mmm, try different foods... this minnow shark is social, does like and require larger quarters when it's bigger, but rarely refuses food... Likely it is just unfamiliar with the format you are offering... try some frozen/defrosted meaty foods or live. Bob Fenner>

Colorless minnow sharks I have a 30 gal tank with 3 Balas and 3 redtails (1/2 in each) and two of the three redtails actually are lacking color in their tails. Is there any particular reason for this? <Three principal possibilities (or a combination thereof)... Genetic... some are just not from colorful stock Nutritional... not fed enough of what it takes to color up Environmental... water conditions don't suit them.  Likely yours are just young... will color up given your good care, a mix of foods (some fresh, some green) and regular maintenance (water changes...). Bob Fenner>

Bala shark question I have 3 Bala sharks, and I noticed last week the dorsal fin on one of them has started turning pinkish red, and now the other two also have it.  Do you have suggestions to what is wrong with my fish, and ways to help them out? Jennifer <Good observation... reddening can be an indication of infectious disease... and/or environmental complaint... which is almost always the direct cause of such infections... I would check your pH, ammonia... and more importantly, change a good part of your water (25%) or so every three days... and see if this improves your fish's health. Bob Fenner>

Sick Bala Shark We have a Bala shark about 10" long who has started swimming up side down and laying on the bottom of the tank all of a sudden.  Any suggestions? Thanks in advance John Sutherland <Yes... either move this fish NOW or change a very large part of its water... something is very wrong... with your water quality likely... Unless it rammed its head but good! Bob Fenner> 
Re: Sick Bala Shark
Unfortunately the fish expired. We did a 20% water change and a double dose of Cycle but it didn't help. For some reason after a water change the Nitrates went through he roof. The other fish seem OK. Thanks for your quick reply though. John <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Tight Tank Dear WetWebMedia Crew, I have lost three Bala sharks (out of five)- two just suddenly died with no signs of illness, and with the third death the only sign was a slight reddening on the lower fins and very slightly above one eye. Now another Bala has developed this red colouring to its two lower and one upper fin. Can you tell me what this is, and advise me on how to treat it, please? The tank is approx. 80 liters, and contains four Bristlenose catfish, four blue Gourami, three black angelfish, one Redtail shark and several breeding snails (although the breeding has stopped in the past eight weeks, prior to this the breeding was prolific). Last week we added a second filter, a BioWheel, to our primary filter and we vacuum and change the water irregularly but on an average of every four weeks. These fish have lived happily together for the last eight months and the only fish we seem to lose are the Bala sharks (which upsets my husband as they're his favorites). Robyn Johnsen <Your problems are stocking levels and general water maintenance. You have far too many fish in this tank. To maintain good water quality with this many fish, in this size tank, would require a stream being diverted through it! If you want to keep Bala Sharks you need to upgrade to at least a 55 gallon tank. Same for the Angelfish. The Redtail may be OK for now, but will become very aggressive as he matures. Not good in a small tank. And four Bristlenose? Find three a new home unless you plan to upgrade.  That leaves you with the 4 Blue Gourami, the Redtail, and a Bristlenose. About your limit. Then you must do more frequent water changes, always with a gravel vac. About 50%, once a week. Your Bala Sharks problem is known as bacterial hemorrhagic septicemia. Usually caused by poor water quality, especially high nitrates. Getting the water pristine will help. Oxytetracycline may be needed, but they will have to be treated in a hospital tank. Using a med in the main tank will nuke the beneficial bacteria your are trying to get established on that Bio Wheel. That will result in ammonia spikes and compound your problems. Don> 

One Eyed Shark 6.12.05 I have a few small sharks and when I cleaned the tank tonight I noticed that one of them have lost there eye. <uh oh> What would cause this? <Shark Attack?>  and should I take it out of the tank? <If this is the only damage and it looks like it is healing up I would leave him in the tank, if it gets weird and fuzzy or oozy looking I would quarantine him in a separate hospital tank.  He may have bumped into a decoration, gotten into a scuffle with the other sharks, damaged during transport, lost it to the net, really hard to say.>     I don't know what kind of sharks they are, I just got them from Pet land. <visit google.com and do an image search for freshwater shark or something similar, find a pic that looks like your fish, find out the name, then use fishbase.org for more information on your fish.  Gage>

Rainbow Shark Cannot Swim Well This morning when I woke up I turned on my aquarium light and discovered my rainbow shark at the top of the tank, she absolutely cannot stay down. She is very much a favorite of mine and I'm very worried about losing her. Can you please help me? >> Some fish that are not normally surface feeders will occasionally swallow air bubbles when they go for food. Usually this lasts for up to three or four days, before they swim normally again. Nothing you can really do but wait at this time. Good Luck, Oliver

Re: rainbow shark cannot swim well Oliver, thank you for your help, I am really grateful. She is still not doing well, but at least now I have an idea of what might be wrong. Thanks >> I hope she will get better, there are also some infections that cause this kind of symptoms, but I think that it is more likely that your fish's problem will pass. Good Luck, Oliver

Re: rainbow shark cannot swim well thank you again for your help, she did end up dying but at least I tried. Maybe she had one of those infections or something, I don't know. I'm pretty new to all of this.  You don't think the other fish I have will be at risk do you? thanks again, Angy >> Not likely. Often internal infections like this kill only one fish. If you get another fish with this problem let us know! Thanks, Oliver

Bala shark prob., environmental disease/poisoning My problem is with a Bala shark. I got two sharks about 2 weeks ago. I had been having some water problems, did a big partial change, <How big?> added BioSpira, and had water rechecked. Water was better, with the nitrates going from more than 250 to 200, and the nitrites are still high at 12. However, the ammonia is okay at 0.5, <?! Not okay... should be zero. Do not add livestock to an uncycled system...> and the buffering is good at 90. My Ph as of today is 7. My last Bala died before I started correcting my problem. The pet store said not to change my water for 4 weeks after adding BioSpira. My problem is this Bala, it has a cloudy eye, is breathing rapidly and color is a bit pale. I fear the worst is going to happen. The other Bala I got is okay. I got these two after my second water check. All other fish, angel fish, catfish, different tetras are all okay. What do I do? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner>

Minnow full of eggs? Dear Bob  my shark has laid her eggs how long should it typically take for  them to hatch ??? she has black tipped fins  I bought her pregnant that night she laid her eggs hope you can help me thank you for your time. <Mmm, is this a "minnow shark?". Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm and learn how to use your spelling and grammar checkers... Bob Fenner> how long does it take for shark eggs to hatch??? And what should I be looking for if and when they do thank you for your time

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