FAQs on Freshwater Swim/Gas-Bladder Conditions
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Cycling, African Cichlid
Disease 1, Cichlid
Swim bladder issues? -
Hello, crew -
I have a 55 gallon tank. I set it up the end of July. It is currently
inhabited by 4 Danios. A few weeks ago, I had ich in the tank. At that
point, I had a few Neons as well. I moved them all to a hospital tank
and treated with rid-ich, but after consulting with Neale, moved them
back to the main tank, raised the temperature to 86 F and added salt. I
did lose all of my Neons (3 in the hospital tank, most likely due to
rid-ich, and one after moving them back to the main tank). A week ago,
I changed the temperature to 70 degrees
<A little cool for Neons, but fine for Danios, ideal even during
and did a massive water change to remove most of the salt,
<Really no need for this. The salt level is too low to harm most
community fish. Simply do your usual water changes.>
with another water change yesterday. Before my water change yesterday
(which was done to further remove salt), I had the following numbers:
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, KH 3.0. I feed them a small amount of
TetraMin Tropical Flakes Plus twice a day.
Yesterday morning when I flipped on the lights to my aquarium, one of
my Danios was having troubles swimming correctly. He was kind of
floating sideways, but after the lights went on, he righted himself and
didn't look to have too much trouble swimming. He ate just fine,
and appeared throughout the day to swim correctly. This morning, I
turned on my lights again, and he was upside down, floating and
spinning slowly. I fed them, and as I watched what he would do, he
bumped into one of my fake plants, righted himself, and ate. I keep
checking on them, and he is swimming normally.
<Odd. Sometimes this happens because of poor genetics, especially
with intensively farmed fish like Danios. If this Danio is otherwise
fine, and mostly swims normally, my guess would be either a deformed
swim bladder or constipation. Hard to tell really.>
Your checklists and articles suggest a swim bladder problem, with
malnutrition being the main cause, but I'm a bit lost at what to
<With Danios, which are carnivores, stop using dried foods,
including flake, for a week. Instead feed just live or wet-frozen brine
shrimps and/or daphnia. Not dried brine shrimps or daphnia though! Live
and wet-frozen brine shrimps and daphnia have enough indigestible
matter that they work as laxatives.>
Should I be feeding them veggies? Should I switch flakes to a different
<Can't imagine it would make much difference.>
And on a side note....I keep seeing references to not using distilled
water in aquariums. I live in an area with very hard water. I can't
install an RO machine in the house where I rent, and the RO machines at
the stores in my area tested with water that is no less hard than that
from my tap (making me thing they are NOT serviced regularly). I use a
mix of distilled and tap water (with conditioner to remove chlorine) to
bring it down to the hardness needed for my fish.
<A 50/50 mix of RO and hard tap water is usually excellent for
aquarium fish. Soft enough not to harm soft water fish, but hard enough
that pH is maintained between water changes. Aiming for about 10
degrees dH, pH 7-7.5 is just about perfect for almost all community
Should I be finding another source of water? Thanks in advance!
Re: Swim bladder issues?
Thank you very much, Neal. I have frozen brine shrimp and daphnia
already, for my Betta. I'll give them that for a week, and then
include that in a rotation for their regular diet.
<A very wise approach. This is what I do with all my fish. Although
modern flake foods are excellent, I honestly believe providing some
wet-frozen, fresh or live food once or twice a week makes all the
difference. Another good tip, if you don't already do so, is to
skip feeding them for a day. Zoos routinely do this, and it seems to be
very good for most animals. Probably good for humans, too, but speaking
for myself I'm too darn greedy!>
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Swim Bladder Infection?
Goldfish -- 06/09/10
My name is Dawn.
I have a 20gal. tank with a Marineland BioWheel 200. I had previously
had four comets in that tank but recently after much reading on your
site, donated them to a local botanical garden park where there are
many ponds with Koi and goldfish.
I figure this would be a better home for them than my twenty gallon (I
also didn't want to take them back to the pet shop so they could be
sold as feeders).
Back to the my question, I have one Fancy goldfish left (a Calico
Ryukin named Pepper). I adopted from the pet store (Petco) six to eight
weeks ago. The reason he was not sold to me because he has a swim
<Almost never really a swim bladder infection. It's worth
mentioning neither of my fish health manuals mention this disease. Have
you ever heard of KreislaufstÃ¶rung? It's something
Germans worry about endlessly, devoting huge amounts of time to
recuperating from, but it doesn't actually exist. Swim bladder
disease in fish is the same. Rather, it's a way aquarists (and
seemingly shopkeepers) describe fish that are, for one reason or
another, not swimming properly. Likely causes including constipation,
exposure to toxins, or systemic bacterial infections. But the swim
bladder itself is just an empty bag of air, and not very likely to
become inflamed or infected.>
I was in there one day looking for dog stuff and wandered over to the
fish department where I see this fish sitting on his tail. It is quite
comical. He sits like a Buddha and waddles when he swims vertically. He
did not seem to have any disease and looked clean. He is also a very
stronger swimmer given his condition. I found the store manager and
asked about the sitting goldfish and he said that the fish had been
that way for at least 6 months. No one would buy him because of his
sitting on his butt all day long.
The manage then told me that if I wanted him he would adopt him to me.
I went home to think about it and decided I'll check back in a week
to see if it is true the fish is "surviving" like this. Sure
enough, he was alive and seemingly healthy aside from the waddling back
and forth with his belly forward. I agreed to adopt him and took him
<Almost certainly, this fish is either constipated or deformed.
Fancy Goldfish are prone to problems with constipation because of their
deformed spines and distorted swim bladders, so even the slightest
blockage of the gut can cause all sorts of swimming problems. But
"belly sliders" are also common among farmed fish, especially
deformed ones like Fancy Goldfish. If the swim bladder is the wrong
shape, too small, or not properly inflated, the fish cannot swim in
After much research I found that he could have a tumor, genetic
abnormal growth, constipation, swim bladder infection, etc.
I have tried a fast of peas, medication (Melafix), changing his water
35% of water every other day, no pellet food, moth balls and other live
plants for him to munch on. I don't want to medication him too
aggressively and because from is strange swimming pattern he eats,
swims, rests, plays and pretty much is "normal", no sores to
pimples and even gets along with the comets when they were around.
<Indeed. Would take care not use anything abrasive on the bottom of
the tank though. Ideally, leave it bare, with black paper or something
underneath to limit reflections. Otherwise soft silica sand would be
ideal. Why? Because the scales at the bottom of a fish aren't meant
to support the weight of midwater fish, and they're easily abraded,
especially around the anus and fins. Damage can quickly become
infected, and that leads to sickness.>
The pet shop also tried treating him (with what they did not say/ or I
remember them saying) before adopting him to me. My water conditions
are Ammonia-0, Nitrate-0, Nitrite-0, PH-(I don't know but I use
Zehpirhills Spring water to change their water and nothing else)...
<Not all spring water is ideal. Unless you have soft water, then
ordinary hard tap water that has been dechlorinated is absolutely
I want him better
<Don't think that's going to happen...>
but I also have been running his water with an all natural no chemical
approach aside from putting marine salt
<Marine salt? Why?>
and plant food in there every water change. I would really appreciate
any suggestions. Thank you so much for your wealth of information. ( I
spend hours at work when it's slow reading your FAQS page. P.s:
sorry for grammatical mistakes I didn't catch.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Swim Bladder Infection? -- 06/09/10
Hello again! Thank you for your response.
<Glad to help.>
As to the substrate, I have a combination of gravel (mostly pet shop
brand) they are smooth surfaced and larger than the small bits you
usually see with the generic blue gravel.
The Marine Salt I guess is overkill since I was afraid he would get
stressed out from my squishing around in his house every time I change
Also I have a few live plants, driftwood and rocks from Lake Malawi,
the rocks have algae on them and he like nibbling at that. Should I
throw a couple handfuls of sand in to line the bottom?
If so, how would I go about vacuuming and cleaning the tank to keep the
sand from falling through the gravel? I feed him anything from peas,
bloodworms, shrimp, seaweed, and as I mentioned before all the
are live plants. I also have another question, I have the Marineland
BioWheel 200 (turnover 200/hr). Is that too many current for a 20gal.
<It's a lot, yes. For Fancy Goldfish, turnover rates 6-8 times
the volume of the tank per hour is about right, towards the lower end
if the fish can't swim well. But if there aren't any obvious
problems, I wouldn't worry.>
I also just bought a Fluval U3 (turnover 160/hr if I can recall) and is
planning to put it into a new 40gal. tank with the BioWheel along with
a Pleco and two more fancies. Are my aspirations obtainable?
<For a 40 gallon tank, you want a cumulative filtration rate (i.e.,
with one or both filters attached) of a total of 6 x 40 to 8 x 40
gallons per hour, i.e., 240 to 320 gallons per hour.>
Since I have read on the sight that for goldfish the turnover rate
needs to me 6-8 times the volume of the tank. However even with the
BioWheel 200 for the 20 gal I find that if I don't change the water
every other day the
ammonia goes up.
<Do check the filter is [a] set up properly and [b] has lots of
biological media. Don't waste space with Zeolite or carbon for
example. Really all you want are sponges and/or ceramic
(I secretly wonder if my mother is feeding them when I am not
I work full time and go to school. I also have a golden retriever that
needs just as much care and attention. So if there's any way to
limit water changes to just once a week or less I would be more than
overjoyed to learn about. Thank you again Crew for all that you do. I
appreciate you spending the time to answer my questions.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Swim Bladder Infection? -- 06/09/10
WHOOPS! not saltwater aquarium salt- freshwater salt. Haha you must
think I'm trying to kill my poor fish. I use the Aqi freshwater
salt (1 table/5 gal?)
<Likely does little good or little harm.
Freshwater salt doesn't raise the pH and hardness, which is
something Goldfish appreciate. On the other hand, Goldfish tolerate
sodium chloride quite well, so small amounts of what is basically
cooking salt won't harm them.
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Need help with salt mix!!!! 5/2/09
Question about the salt mix (by the way I bought a box of "Premium
Marine Salt Mix"), I use tap water with a hardness of 120 and
alkalinity of about 118 - 125, on the site it states:
"If you're adapting your fish from standard tap water
conditions to the hard, alkaline conditions you want, don't change
all the water at once! This will severely stress your fish, even if the
change is nominally for
What exactly should I do?
<Exactly as the article states; do a series of water changes across
I mixed the salt, baking soda and Epsom salt have the heater in the
tank (I just turned it on and am not sure if I should wait for it to be
68 degrees (it is currently 62) of if I should add the mix to water and
put it in the
tank a fifth at a time over the next 2 days.
"Do a 20-25% water change once per day, ideally once a week, but
otherwise with at least 24-48 hours gap between each water change,
depending on how delicate your fish happen to be (Tanganyikans tend to
be more delicate than Malawians)."
I also am not sure what the above means. Do I do a water change the day
I add in the salt mix?
<You take out 25% of the water in the aquarium, and replace with
buckets of water into which the cichlid salt mix has been added.
Goldfish aren't terribly delicate, so don't be too
I have just the tonic salt (aquarium salt) in the tank along with the
Maracyn 2, I am on the 3rd day now (of the Maracyn 2) and it says to
wait till the 5th day to do the water change.
So I am a bit confused on how to do the water changes right now. Should
I wait till I have done the full treatment,
do a water change THEN add the salt mix at a fifth per 4 hours or so?
The last water change I did was before the tonic or meds went in and
that was on 4/29 and all I changed was at 25%.
About the amount of mix per water in tank. I have a 29 gal tank. I have
about 26gal of water in the tank, leaving some space at the top, and
the rocks etc. = about 26 gal of water! I know this because when I got
the tank it was empty and the fish was in a 5 gal bucket which was only
half full, I moved him into a 1 gal tank and then added the 2.5 gal in
the one bucket and had to put in 23 more gallons, so 26 appx is in the
tank! I made the mix for 20gal of water to be on the safe side, do you
think that is ok or should I do it for 25gal?
<Well, that's what your test kits are for! But really, the
difference between 20 gallons and 26 gallons isn't enough to make
much difference. But remember, you're not adding salt mix to the
tank, but to each bucket of water. The recipe is per 5 gallons of
water. So long as you add the right number of teaspoons/tablespoons to
each 5 gallons, YOU WON'T GO WRONG.>
Lastly the plants I got seem to not be a fit for him to eat, they are
the White Ribbon plants, so I guess I should look into getting some
other types that he can eat.
<What are "white ribbon" plants? Not some type of
Chlorophytum or Dracaena by any chance? Both of these are land plants
sold by less-than-honest aquarium shops to unsuspecting fishkeepers.
They are indeed too tough for fish to each. A good clue is if a plant
"stands up" out of water -- if it does, it's probably a
land plant! By all means keep them as pot plants on a windowsill! Good
"edible" plants for Goldfish are the plants we call pondweed:
Elodea, Egeria, Anacharis, etc.>
I am feeding him very small amounts of food right now. I was going to
try and pick up some metro-meds on Monday, do you think this would be a
good thing to try to help bring him back from the dropsy?
<Sure, but wait until you've finished one course of medications
before adding more. Neale.>
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Need help with salt mix!!!! 5/2/09
Thanks Neal. I got the info I need, I was confused when you had
mentioned a liter of water, I guess I should be adding this to per 5
gallon buckets and doing water changes with each dose per day or every
other day until I have the dose for 20 gallons done?
<Add the right amount of Epsom salt, baking soda and marine salt mix
to each bucket of water. Then just add that new, mineral-rich water to
the tank when you're replacing water taken out. Don't forget
that if you top up for evaporation, top up with plain tap water, not
water with minerals added. Follow these two rules and you won't go
I will then wait till the meds are done.
Then do the above. THEN after that is done try the metro-meds if it has
not gone away (god I hope it does...).
<Hope so too.>
And yeah I guess good old (and I use GOOD lightly) Petco sold me
<Not surprised, unfortunately. See here:
It's one of my pet hates.>
I think what I will do is just pull them out once I get some of the
ones you suggested.
<Pull out ASAP; these plants will die, and in doing, mess up water
quality. They're lovely pot plants though!>
Man I hate Petco!
<It's a fine store, provided you know specifically what you
want/need to buy. Issues such as non-aquatic "aquarium"
plants are actually a problem even with dedicated aquarium
To be fair the guy did ask if it was for the tank to help with nitrates
or for food. I said to help with nitrates (I am still trying to get
them down, they are at about 10-12 right now!). So I guess it was
partly my fault.
<Not your fault at all. Shouldn't be being sold as aquarium
The test kit I have are STRIPS! And they honestly do not seem to give
me any "exact" reads.
<Indeed. They're fine for ball-park tests such as whether a tank
has fully cycled, or whether the water is hard/alkaline versus
soft/acid. But I agree, they're often a bit unreliable for
I mean the pink color to indicate nitrates looks damn near the same at
10 as it does at 20ppm. Hard as hell to tell 100% so I am going to
finally break down and buy a master kit and will have to add to it in
order to have a full spec of tests like the 5 in 1 strips have. I just
used Mardel test strips and also have a test kit for ammonia. Guess
that is just not going to cut it anymore. Like they say "goldfish
are cheap - aquariums are not!"
<We, I, say this often. This is why I recommend beginners start with
relatively undemanding fish, such as Danios, which can be kept in
relatively small tropical tanks with few problems. Goldfish are really
very demanding fish, and ultimately, expensive.>
I only have one more question. When I do a 75% water change on Monday
should I use any of this water for the mix?
<This is after you're done with the medication, right? I'd
add the mineral salt mix to one-third of the water, and leave the other
two-thirds as just plain dechlorinated tap water. I agree with you:
adding mineral salt mix to ALL the water would cause too much of a
water chemistry change to do at once. Then, every couple of days, do 20
to 25% water changes, adding new water containing the cichlid salt
I don't think so, but I should ask before I use regular tap water,
treat it with Amquel, cycle and THEN go add in the salt mix (guess I
should not have added the entire mix into 1 container jar, seems like I
have to do this all in stages per 5 gallon doses)?
<Too complicated, to be honest.>
Thanks Neal and WWM you don't know how much you have saved what is
left of my sanity and hopefully Bandi!
<Happy to help. Neale.>
( . .)
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Need help with salt mix!!!! 5/5/09
I made a tad bit of a mistake in how much water was in the tank. I
removed 15 gallons and it appeared to only have about another 7 in the
tank at the most, I had Bandi in a 1 gallon tank while I did the change
of water, I added 15 total gallons to the tank (exactly what I
removed), 10 gallons of fresh tap water treated with Amquel and cycle,
and I did one 5 gallon bucket with the salt mix (1tsp marine salt, 1tsp
baking soda and 1 Tbs of Epsom salt) and the Amquel & cycle and
added that to the tank. I placed the fish in the tank and added the
remaining 1 gallon of water to the tank. I sure hope I did this
Handling him with care (he was really depleted it seemed, I actually
had to kinda nudge him in one direction and slowly scoop him out from
the main tank and the transfer tank because he just would not swim, he
was pretty much just sitting there) I placed him back into the main
tank a few minutes later and 1st went in he seemed to be a bit shocked.
He went to one side of the tank [where he has been the last few days]
and sat there a few seconds and then slowly tipped on his side and
almost flipped all the way over (I thought I was losing him right then)
and sort of came back around after about 10 seconds or so. Then he went
back to his corner and sat there not really gasping but he seemed to be
taking in more water per breath than normal (I did not know if this was
due to shock or just because of him being back in his main tank). His
eyes look a little more buggy too (or the "sacks" around the
eyes do! Is this from the salt in the tank or the dropsy?)!
<Can't say... perhaps from these as well as the general
I added another 1 gallon of fresh (treated with Amquel) tap water to
the tank to top off - leaving 2.5 inches from the top free space. I was
going to put him into that if he would have kept up with the flipping
over stuff he was doing, but that stopped so I let it be and just
topped off the tank.
Now here is my main question: Did I do something wrong? Is what
happened normal? And the salinity level before you said was too high
and to do a partial water change (which I did not because I had meds in
the tank and waited till today to do a water change) but the salinity
is even higher than it was before! Is this ok?
<... how high is high?>
I assume it will get even higher as I add more of the mix in a few days
when I do the 25% water change as you stated I should do. Please let me
know, this is freaking me out.
P.S. Here are my current water levels:
(again this is with strips, I am getting a master kit in the next few
Salinity: 1.004 / 6
Before the water change they were:
( . .)
<Mmm, this is okay. I would leave all as is for now... other than
testing for water quality, feeding low protein foods. Bob Fenner, in
for Neale who is marked "out">
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Need help with salt mix!!!! 5/5/09
So I should continue to add the salt mix to each 25% water change over
the next week as Neale stated?
<Yes, add the Cichlid salt mix to each new bucket of water you add
to the aquarium.>
I just was worried about the salinity level as before it was stated
with the regular Aquarium salt I had in the tank that it was high,
however with this large water change and the new salt [cichlid] mix it
is higher than
<Remember, add the amount you need for that bucket, not for the
So if you're changing 5 gallons, you add 1 tablespoon Epsom salt,
and 1 teaspoon each of marine salt mix and baking soda. Don't
remove 5 gallons, but add enough salt for 30 gallons (or however big
your tank is) with the new 5 gallon bucket you add to the tank.
Obviously if you did that, the water chemistry and salinity would keep
changing. If you do it the way I say though, the amount of cichlid salt
mix removed with the "old" water will equal precisely the
amount you're adding with each new bucket of water. So the water
chemistry (and salinity) should stay precisely the same.>
Should I continue to do the changes Neal suggested over the next week
or leave it as is?
P.S. Bandi seems to have adjusted (as much as possible with the dropsy
and all) to the water which is much better quality than before.
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Questions about Metro Meds & Methionine
Ok, so can I put in the metro meds today?
<If you're done with the other medications, then yes. I prefer
to do a 25-50% water change between medication courses just to flush
out the system a bit.>
I am not sure I should do this WITH doing this cichlid salt mix, but if
I can I want to start him on that a.s.a.p.
<Yes, you can/should use the medications alongside the cichlid
(pronounced "sick lid") salt mix; no medication will do its
job if the environment isn't optimised too.>
Also can I add a few drops of Methionine to his tank to help with his
<Who recommended this? I've no personal experience of
Methionine, and unless sold for aquarium fish and explicitly stated to
be safe with other medications, you shouldn't use the stuff. Fish
kidneys don't work the same way as human kidney, and in any case,
raising the osmotic potential of the water (by adding the cichlid salt
mix) will provide all the support this fish needs in terms of
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Questions about Metro Meds & Methionine
Sounds good Neale. My mom was the one who suggested it and I looked
online and did see it was ok,
<Never heard of it, myself. But I'm not a vet or a medic, so
everything about fish drugs!>
but at any rate I did a 25% change today and did the 2nd dose of the
<By which you mean you added another bucket of water with the right
amount of salt mix added?>
There is a SUPER bad funk going on in the tank right now (not sure why
but when I 1st got him back in Dec there was that same smell - it went
away after a few days but man it stinks!) so hopefully that goes away
soon, but aside that he is doing as good as can be.
<Should be fine.>
I have to be honest I am not holding out too much hope here and am just
trying to make sure he is not in pain, once I see he is, I think I will
have to cull him, which I REALLY don't want to do - I just
don't know if it is more humane than letting "nature take
<Humane is either killing a fish painlessly or curing it; leaving
things to take their natural course usually means a slow, lingering
death. See my article on Euthanasia elsewhere on WWM.>
I know some fish with dropsy live for months and even years.
<No, they really don't! Constipated fish that seem swollen may
well live a long time. But Dropsy itself is a sign of organ failure,
and for obvious reasons, fish (or humans!) don't live long after
So I just don't know what to do at this point. I will give the
metromeds the 14 days and see what happens in that time. I will
continue to do the other 2 water changes with the salt mix one in 3
days and another 3 days
The funny thing is, for the 1st time....the water is actually exactly
what it should be. Too bad it took this long.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Questions about MetroMeds & Methionine
Yes that is what I meant, I took out 5 gallons of water and replaced it
with fresh tap water treated with Stress Coat, added the right amount
of salt mix to the 5 gallon bucket and put that in the tank. Checked
the salinity level and it was exactly as it was before I did the water
<All sounds good.>
I have heard of cases where fish that have dropsy actually have lived
quite a while, but I agree it seems off.
<I'll make my point again: Dropsy is a symptom that can be
easily misunderstood or confused with other problems.>
My fish has had this for only about 1 week and already looks really
There is no sign other than the scales being pineconed (no darkness on
the belly or buoyancy issues for the most part) but I don't know
what to do. I am doing all I can and like I said, I can't tell if
he is in pain or if I should wait out the 14 days of MetroMeds, which
most people say it can help, others say it is pointless and to put the
fish out of it's misery.
<Indeed, you're doing everything you can; we can't save
every fish that gets sick, any more than not every person who gets ill
I will look for your article, as the only thing I have heard was clove
oil, which seemed humane.
Other things I have heard (freezing the fish, cutting the head off
just sounds too much for me to do. I am just waiting it out a bit
longer for now. At times he seems like his old self, but I have to
remind myself that it is a fish and can't speak, so how do I really
know how sick or in pain he is. Very sad.
Night Neale. Thanks again.
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Questions about Clove Oil 5/8/2009
Well Bandi is starting to have irregular (and somewhat rapid) breathing
and I think he is really suffering now. Can you please tell me if this
is the right way to mix clove oil for a fish that is about 6.5 inches
long by 3.5 wide? Does it matter how much you need for the size of the
fish? Should I wait 2+ hours?
<Strictly speaking, you add clove oil according to the weight of the
fish. In practise, putting in a lot seems to do the trick; I find about
30 drops per litre works.>
I don't want to mess this up if/when I have to go this route:
Have a gallon of tank water in a bucket and put the fish in it. In
another container, mix 2-3 ml clove oil with 8 ml.s vodka. Pour the
clove oil mixture in and mix a little. The fish will be unconscious
<I'd skip the vodka; the vets and scientists specifically
describe using clove oil alone, and they're the ones who've
studied the thing, not the hobbyists. I'd suggest keeping the vodka
for wake after the fish has died...>
I got this info from:
<Do see here:
Re: Help My Goldfish Bandi -
Dropsy? Questions about Clove Oil-- 05/09/09
I bought 2oz of clove oil, I looked at the WWM page and it says 400
mg/l, but you said it is largely based on the size and weight of the
fish, my fish is quite large and I am not sure how much water or clove
oil I should use. 4 liters? 2? Should I use half a bottle? A full
<The density of Clove Oil is very slightly higher than that of
water. Since 400 mg of water = 0.4 grammes = 0.4 millilitres, 400 mg of
Clove Oil would be a shade under 0.4 millilitres in volume. If you have
a pipette or syringe with the millilitre (ml) scale on it, then
measuring the Clove Oil out shouldn't be too difficult. Failing
that, I find 30 drops per litre does the trick; that happens to be
about 10 times the amount used to sedate fish.>
In terms of the amount I have on hand, what would you suggest? Also I
read that leaving the fish in for at least 2 hrs is recommended and/or
pithing or freezing should be done to make sure the fish is dead.
Should I do any of these (I would rather not but I don't want to
have him come back after administering clove oil).
<The Clove Oil works fine alone; what it does is induce hypoxia by
preventing gill ventilation. Once a fish stops breathing it quickly
loses consciousness, and eventually dies. By all means follow what
Burgess et al (1998) suggest, and leave the fish in the bath for 2
hours before removing the body.>
Sorry for all the questions!
<Happy to help, Neale.>
Red Eye Tetra Swim Bladder / Pop
eye Problems...Please help! 4/27/09
And thanks in advance for any help you may be able to provide. I have a
strange problem that I just don't know what to do about.
I have had a 55 gallon freshwater tank that has been completely stable
and fine for about one year. It is stocked with tetras, Rasboras, and
I change about 10-15 gallons every 3 weeks.
<You could do bigger/more frequent water changes. The current
recommendation in the hobby is 20-25% weekly. Very small water changes
like the ones you're doing here won't dilute nitrates
particularly quickly, and will allow organic acids to accumulate,
messing up pH stability. Most fish do better the more the water is
changed. An old joke is this: "Aquarium fish live in their toilet,
and it's the fishkeeper who yanks the chain".
Earlier this month, one of my red eye tetras (fish #1) started having
trouble swimming. Eventually, she began resting upside down on the
bottom of the tank, although she would still swim up to eat at feeding
checked my levels and ammonia, nitrite were at 0, ph was 7.2. I did a
water change anyway. I few days later, another red eye tetra (fish #2)
got pop eye in the right eye, and fish #1 had not eaten in two days. I
moved these two fish into a five gallon quarantine tank I had already
set up. I also moved a third red eye tetra (fish #3) that seemed to be
having trouble swimming as well (she flips up vertical, with her head
facing down, but then quickly rights herself). Meanwhile, fish #1 did
not look good, she had red sores/streaks on her body, she wasn't
eating, and I really didn't think she would last.
<Pop-eye is usually a sign of a bacterial infection, particularly if
both eyes are infected. If accompanied by sores on the fins and body,
then you can be almost sure that's the diagnosis. Now, the problem
is that very
small fish tend to have little resilience, so by the time you see such
symptoms, they're too far gone to treat.>
On the recommendation of the folks at my LFS (who thought my fish were
having swim bladder issues), I treated the quarantine tank with Maracyn
Two (and removed the filter carbon). I have now completed two 5 day
treatments (10 days). I also just did a water change (about 1.5-2
gallons) after the treatment (ammonia/nitrite levels were fine before
this change). Fish #3 still seems to be having some trouble with
swimming, fish #2 still has pop eye in the right eye. Both are eating
normally. Fish #1 still spends
almost all of her time upside down, but she is still alive. She eats
bits of food off the gravel when they come near her, but she really
cannot actually swim after food. Her body sores/streaks have cleared
up, but she
does however, have a bloody area at the base of her dorsal fin (I
think, because she is resting this on the gravel).
<To be honest, I'd be surprised if these fish recover. Beyond
doing what you're doing, there's not much you can do. One issue
with Red Eye Tetras (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) is that they're
"bullies", and if kept in insufficient numbers, sometimes
turn on one another. Or more specifically, they have a very strong
hierarchical instinct, and in the wild would live in groups of
hundreds. In such groups, in-fighting is how each fish determines its
status, and because of the size of the group, dominant fish can't
bully weaker fish seriously. But in small groups, fewer than ten, this
becomes short-circuited, and the dominant fish is able to bully weaker
fish without mercy, to the degree he can damage their fins and eyes,
both common symptoms of such bullying. Wounds become infected, and
infections become Finrot and Pop-eye.>
This is just breaking my heart. I don't know what to do for her.
The LFS folks said to keep treating with another round of Maracyn Two,
and to add aquarium salt. However, I have read that aquarium salt is
bad for tetras, so I am not sure if this is a good idea.
<At very low doses, salt can be used therapeutically, but you
shouldn't add it on a permanent basis, no. That said, I can't
imagine it's going to make a big difference here; salt is normally
used to treat external parasites such as Ick.>
I also don't understand why these fish would be getting swim
bladder issues at all (the others are all fine, and the ammonia/nitrite
levels are fine in both tanks). The only thing that I can think of that
has changed in my
routine is that my municipality is adding a lot of chlorine/chloramine
to the tap water this month. I did not know this when they began (and
these problems appeared shortly after I did a water change). I normally
treat the tap water for water changes with the water conditioner Prime,
and I have doubled the dose of Prime since I learned of this water
treatment by my city.
<In which case you should be fine; you can get chlorine test kits
just to be sure, or else, have your pet shop test some water from a
bucket *after* you've added water conditioner to see if you've
Do you have any idea what I can do for my red eye tetras?
<Difficult to say without some context, e.g., the number of Tetras
in the main aquarium, in case we're looking at bullying rather than
a chlorine issue. As for the sick fish, if you don't see them
painlessly destroy them (see WWM re: Euthanasia for suitable
Should I add aquarium salt?
<Won't make any difference.>
Should I continue dosing the quarantine tank with Maracyn Two?
<If you want too. It rather depends on whether these fish are
actually healing. If they are, and their wounds show sign of clearing
up, then by all means continue. But if they're not actually getting
better, then you
might decide further treatment to be pointless.>
Should I continue to double dose Prime in my water changes, or should I
use distilled water instead?
<Don't use distilled water.>
Is there anything else I can/should do? Any help/advice would be most
Thanks so much,
Hello dear Neale, I hope You will be fine there.
Neale please help me that I want to know about swim bladder disease
what cause this disease? how can we cure our fish suffering from this
<It's not really a disease but a symptom, like a headache or
runny nose in humans. Generally, when Swim Bladder Disease occurs in
herbivorous species such as Goldfish, it's a complication caused by
chronic constipation. But it can also be caused by bacterial
infections, though this is quite rare. If bacterial infections
are suspected, then a suitable antibiotic such as
Erythromycin will be required.>
what are its symptoms?
<The fish can't swim normally. It either wobbles when it swims,
or rolls over, sometimes upside down!>
My Bala shark suffered from this disease and died due to it. It was
fine and swim well but all of the sudden on day I observe that it was
unable to swim properly like it was trying to keep its balance but
could not make it and moves toward top of the tank. My tank size is 4 L
feet, 1.5 feet W, 2 feet H its of 90 gallon.
<Should be fine for the Bala Shark, Balantiocheilos
I give them food properly twice a day and water condition is perfect. I
change the 20% water weekly and clean the filter cartridge also. I
don't know what has gone wrong. All other fish are fine (mashalla).
Please Help me Neale. What should i do.
<I'd recommend starting with small fish, no more than 10 cm in
length. Keep just a few specimens. In the case of Balantiocheilos
melanopterus, get three or four specimens, since they're schooling
fish. Take care choosing
good specimens! Look for well fed specimens. Anyway, once you have them
in the tank, take care to feed them only small amounts each time, and
keep a track on water chemistry using your test kits; at the very
least, do nitrite tests every 2-3 days after buying the fish for the
first two weeks.>
Re: Swimbladder problem
Hello dear Neale,
Thank you so much for your reply I was very much upset.
I want to ask one thing more that if the swim bladder is caused by
bacterial infection then what are the signs that its being caused by
bacterial infection not due constipation.
<Unless you do a microbiology test, you can't be sure. You
certainly can't tell by looking. But if the fish has a healthy diet
(i.e., lots of green foods if it is a herbivore) then swim bladder
problems may be caused by bacteria.>
As you have recommended the medicine if its caused by bacterial
infection but what if its being caused by constipation then what should
<Antibiotic medicines won't do any harm if used correctly, even
if the fish has constipation. So do two things: [a] If the fish is a
herbivore, like a Goldfish or one of the many herbivorous cichlids,
check diet, and if necessary, add more green foods. [b] If the fish is
not a herbivore, or it is a herbivore and has a good diet, then treat
Is it compulsory that your fish will die when its infected by swim
<Perhaps not every time, but often, yes, they die.>
I love my all fish and i do not want to loose them in any case.
<Good! We want you to look after your fish as well as you
Ill take care of your advice like always.
Thank You so much,
<Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Swimbladder problem
Hello dear Neale, thank you so much Neale for your help.
I am glad that you always help in time.
God bless you.
I will try to take care of my as you have advice me.
Thank you so much,
<Good luck, Neale.>
Deflated Gas Bladder
Green Terror Cichlid With Deflated Gas Bladder
Hello, I have a female Green Terror with a deflated gas bladder,
possibly due to fighting her male counterpart. Is there anything that
can be done to remedy her situation? My wife thinks it is cruel to keep
the fish alive when all it can do is flop around on the bottom of the
tank, but I can't bring myself to kill it. I can't find any
answers on this.
< Unfortunately your female has had some internal damage and
probably an internal infection from the stress of the encounter. You
could try a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone in a
hospital tank, but the damage may be permanent.-Chuck>
Flowerhorn with Air Bladder Disease,
reading -- 6/17/08 Hi, I have a Flowerhorn that is about 6
years old. He appears perfectly beautiful and healthy. He has developed
air bladder disease. <... from what cause?> He is not
constipated. We noticed he was spending a lot of time sitting on the
bottom, but in the past few days he is swimming with his head down. I
have found that there are various opinions whether this is caused by a
bacteria or virus. <Can be either, neither> I do not know how to
"dose" antibiotics or which ones to use. He is about 12"
long and in a 55 gal. tank. <Needs more room than this> We were
planning on getting him a 75 gallon tank in a few weeks. Can you tell
me what antibiotics to use and in what quantities? Thank you. J. Farmer
<I would read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/flowerhorndisfaq.htm and the
linked files above... Perhaps try Epsom Salt, improving water quality,
nutrition... Bob Fenner>
Red Parrot 'swim
bladder' disease 4/9/08 Help <Okay> 2 years ago we
inherited a small 50 litre tank <Some teen net gallons...>
with a basic filter and 2 red parrots and 2 Plecs <... all
need more room than this> which our friends have had for years
with very few problems. After a year of huge growth they soon
out-grew their tank so we purchased a much larger 240 litre tank
with a 'proper' external filter and medium which they
seemed to prefer and more recently added another 2 red parrots
and a Gold Severum <Ahh!> 2 months later we noticed smaller
of the original red parrots (around 6" in length) became
unstable and having read up on the 'swim bladder'
condition we gave her a course of treatment. <Details please.
What sort of treatment?> This seemed to work but after another
couple of weeks the same thing was happening again. Since then we
have treated the water 3 times and done countless extra water
changes and tested the water every few days but to no avail. The
red parrot now spends most of her time floating upside-down, is
always last to the food at feeding times and constantly struggles
to maintain her balance but we seem to have tried every
suggestion given to us Do you have any ideas on what else we can
try as we sometimes feel that our only option would be to put her
out of her misery but then can't bring ourselves to do it
Mark & Sam Hewson <Mmm, well... Parrots, being neotropical
crosses as they are, do have a tendency to have orientation
issues... Particularly if raised on too-fatty foods, w/
insufficient exercise/room... Do please read here re:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm Though for
goldfish... this same "condition/syndrome" has the same
etiology and general lack of cure for Parrots. Bob
Re: Red Parrot 'swim
bladder' disease -04/11/08 Hi Bob <Mark and Sam>
Many thanks for getting back to us, we do appreciate it
<Welcome> We are certainly going to try putting some
'real' plants in the tank - something we were told not to
do since the fish will just destroy them but if it helps with
their health then we don't mind <There are some simple,
tough... and inexpensive "bunch plants" (listed on WWM)
that are not very palatable, that will "do" all the
things you're looking for... See here re:
for Coontail/Hornwort, Elodea/Anacharis...> We will also try
the peas, etc and I had read on your website that other people
with similar problems had found that lowering the water
temperature slightly can sometimes help - this is something I did
the other evening after I e-mailed you and over the past 2 days
she seems to be moving around a lot better, albeit upside down,
but she has stopped spending so much time floating at the top of
the tank <Ah, good> The treatment that we used for the
suspected swim bladder problems was Interpets own swim bladder
treatment which we tried 3 times with no success as well as
adding Aquilibrium Salt at the times of treatment and at every
water change as a general tonic <... not a fan of these
cathartics> I will keep you posted as to what happens with
'Perky' and let you know if she gets any
'Perkier' Mark & Sam Hewson <Thank you,
Re: Red Parrot 'swim bladder'
disease 4/17/08 Hi Bob <Hewsons!> With reference
to our last e-mail about 'Perky' our upside-down Red
Parrot fish, despite seeming to be getting better she died the
very next day after the e-mail but we have carried on feeding the
fish a variety of different foods, flake, bloodworm and the
veggies and they seem to be ok Will check out the website for the
real plants Many thanks for all your help Mark & Sam Hewson
<Thank you for this update. BobF>
Re: swim bladder disease... Melafix
4/16/08 I am shocked by this response. I asked for a recommendation
of a general antibiotic. Was not giving one. Chose one on my own. It
appeared to work quite well, the fish is cured. And then I am told that
I made a bad choice. Confused. <Hello Richard. The problem with
Melafix is that it *isn't* an antibiotic and it certainly won't
cure internal problems such as any of the various things called
"Swim Bladder Disorder". While some people have found Melafix
useful, many of us here at WWM consider it to be at best unreliable,
and at worst useless. What Melafix can (perhaps) do is help prevent,
and possibly cure, certain external infections. But not all of them,
and certainly not consistently enough to be the "drug of
choice". In any event, there are inexpensive, safe, much more
consistently useful antibacterial and antibiotic drugs out there, so
the advantages of Melafix are difficult for some of us to fathom.
Anyway, that your fish got better likely has little or nothing to do
with the Melafix. Most swim bladder problems come down to either
dietary issues such as constipation or simply opportunistic bacterial
infections. Improving diet and water conditions can help the fish
recover under its own steam. Likely your fish is healthy once more
because of your fishkeeping skills rather than the Melafix. Cheers,
Neale.> <<Thank you Neale... my "principal gripe"
with such so-called remedies is that they are totally untested... and
for the most part, at best, worthless placebos... at worse, as the case
here, detrimental often in mal-influencing water quality, damaging
nitrification... and what passes for "non-critical thinking"
results in folks believing they're doing some good... Instead of
more thoroughly investigating... discerning that what passes for
"advice" often at stores, the Net is homespun nonsense.
Direct Answers re Gas Bubble Disease
1/9/08 Hello and thank you again to Mr. Fenner for your advice on
achieving perfect water and then on fish compatibility. <It's
actually Neale here at the moment!> Now, a new problem arose and by
the articles in the archive I seem to have a bad case of GBD. <Not
really a disease but a symptom. Gas Bubble Disease is perhaps most
similar to "the Bends" in humans, in that it follows on from
problems with the solubility of gases in an aqueous medium. In this
case, if aquarium water is super-saturated with oxygen, differences in
the chemical composition of the blood inside a fish cause the oxygen to
come out of solution where they form bubbles, particularly in the
capillaries. The bubbles cause damage to the surrounding tissue,
killing the cells, and ultimately allowing secondary infections to set
in. There's no cure as such, since it's essential a wound
caused by improper conditions. So the best you can do is fix the
environment so it doesn't happen again. Very rarely a problem in
freshwater tanks, because freshwater holds a lot more oxygen than
seawater, so is less likely to become super-saturated. It's also
less common for freshwater tanks to be intensively aerated with things
like protein skimmers and ozone generators. It is possible for rapidly
photosynthesizing plants to super-saturate the water though, but
you'd have to have massively powerful lights and incredibly
fast-growing plants for this to be at all likely.> First a Corydoras
was found dead in our standard rectangular 75g tank with ideal ph,
ammonia and nitrate and nitrates all zero, but the Cory was found with
no eyes. Then our 10" Bala was dead the next day with red rings
around the eyes that seem to protrude. Then suddenly my African Brown
Knife with popped looking blisters on the skin and Black Ghostknife
with no outward signs also died. Then when we spotted our upside down
catfish struggling to swim sideways with a large bubble on his side, I
finally found out what this was on your site. <Does indeed sound
like GBD, though I'd also check other, more probably, factors such
as poisoning. For example, I once made the mistake of putting wood in a
tank I'd taken from the garden, without knowing someone had
recently sprayed with insecticide. The end result is some fish died and
the rest went loopy within an hour of the wood being put in the tank.
Poisoning causes a suite of different symptoms depending, presumably,
on the fish. But things like inflamed gills and improper swimming
ability are among them. Other potential poisons include paint fumes,
excess tobacco, and the sorts of things children might pour into an
aquarium accidentally/on purpose, such as beverages.> I'm still
confused on the difference between GBD and emphysematosis and how
exactly to treat this. <No practical difference, and no treatment
other than remedial action to remove the causes.> Your seminal
article that was a fun read about pond Koi with GBD was actually no
direct help for freshwater home emergencies. <GBD is incredibly rare
in home aquaria, particularly freshwater aquaria. You need a large pump
system, such as that in a Koi pond, plus wide environmental changes,
such as day/night temperature swings, to cause the necessary
super-saturation of oxygen PLUS the changes in solubility. In the
average tank with a poky little filter in a centrally heated home, just
isn't going to happen.> Could you please tell me what should one
do STEP BY STEP in an emergency situation like this to save the other
fish who are likely in pain from the gas pressures? <Review any
possible sources of super-saturation, and act accordingly.> As a
diver myself, I'm having nightmares about them suffering from the
'bends.' <Broadly similar. Fish can of course adjust the
blood chemistry to adapt to changes in the environment, but their
ability to react to SUDDEN changes is usually limited.> Clues: We
are running two AquaTech 30-60 with each having free falling cascade
waterfalls on the surface, four anchored small air stones and two
bubble wands across the back. <Quite possibly overkill right here.
Switch these devices off, except for the filters, and adjust those so
all they do is move water, not create aeration. No aquarium needs
aeration; the function of the bubbles is merely to create movement from
the bottom of the tank to the top, so the bottom layer of water can
receive fresh oxygen. This can be achieved at least as well with a
powerhead or filter.> We've always kept the temperature at 80
degrees but lowered it to 78 tonight in the hopes it will help.
<Lower temperature = high solubility of gases, so will help. By
default, aquaria should be kept at 25C/77F; anything above this should
be done only in specific cases where required for breeding or by a
particular fish's requirements. Many species, including Neons,
Danios, and Corydoras, actually want lower temperatures than even this.
Neons for example do best around 23C/73F.> We also removed all the
plants we put in the tank two weeks ago and stopped doing 50% weekly
water changes due to the fears of winter tap waters having more
dangerous gas conditions. <Shouldn't make any difference
provided the water is left to warm to at least room temperature first.
It's never a good idea to add freezing cold water to a tropical
tank.> We vacuumed the gravel 4 times in a period of two weeks with
up to 50% water changes when fish began to die -- now I see we might
have exacerbated the problem. <Hmm... cleaning the tank
shouldn't cause any problems.> Please help, we're desperate.
The internet sites I searched only offered definitions, chemistry
equations and some high-tech expensive super large canisters to de-gas
water for hatcheries. <GBD just isn't a common problem in fish
tanks, hence the lack of information. While it is possible this is
going on here, perhaps thanks to overzealous aeration, do also consider
the alternatives.> Thanks so much for saving their lives - you are
really true life heroes, Michelle <Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Direct Answers re Gas Bubble Disease - WORSE
1/17/08 URGENT. <What isn't these days...?> We followed
your directions and death toll rises daily. <Oh dear!> We lowered
temperature to 77, took out everything except the substrate small
pebbles that we've now thoroughly rinsed (just with water) over ten
times and put back. <Take the substrate out too. Make the tank
empty: just glass, water, filter, and heater. Add clean flower pots as
cheap caves for fish that like to hide. Basically get rid of everything
that complicates things. The fish will be fine in a "glass
box" of water. Plants can be stored in buckets or bowls of water
fine.> We removed the live plants that we just purchased and added
when we put in the fish. We removed the two fake rock structures that
had been there for 8 months. We removed the large driftwood attached to
a stand that was sold in the pet store (was it for reptiles only?)
<Possible.> We rinsed the filters, removed the carbon when we
began Rid Ich Plus treatments a couple weeks ago, even though we know
we're likely cycling the tank again. <Indeed; only one way to
check this: do daily nitrite tests. If the nitrite stays at zero,
you're fine; if it goes up, then yes, your filter is unhappy. That
said, filter bacteria are quite hardy, and up to a point will bounce
back very rapidly from being messed about with.> We use Rid Ich Plus
for scaleless fish every 12 hours per directions. <If the fish
don't have Ick, I'd not treat them.> We can't figure it
out and at this point we're losing all hope. More fish die every
day - only three Featherfin catfish, five Corydoras (one with hole in
head fungus that only gets bigger with treatments), one pictus with
white dots looking like ich, and only one African brown knife left. To
recap the death rate in our 75g: We inherited a tank from a roommate
who turned in his 5 Oscars and 2 Dempseys back to the pet store and he
admitted he never cleaned the gravel after 8 months of feeding them
live small feeder fish and added water once a month. <Scary.> I
had no idea of how poisonous the tank could be. We did a 50% water
change, put in new filters and wiped everything down, thinking things
would be ok. Within a day the Bala died with red rings around eyes that
protruded; a Corydoras died with no eyes left but no other symptom, an
upside down catfish had bubbles popping through skin, two black knives
died with white flour looking substance on skin with white ich looking
dots, two brown knives died - tonight the one who died had large sheets
of skin peeling off but no white dots, and the pictus looked coated in
ich dots before he died. <What I'd do here is simple enough:
rebuild the aquarium. Empty it completely. Move the fish to a bucket.
Connect the filter to that bucket or else store it OPEN so the bacteria
can get oxygen (without drying out). Clean the tank from top to bottom.
Look for any potential source of decay or poison. Once the tank is
spotlessly clean, re-fill with water. No gravel, no plants at this
stage. Put the heater in, then connect the filter, switch them on. Add
the fish using a net. DO NOT PUT OLD WATER INTO THE TANK! Assuming the
new water will have the same temperature, pH, and hardness as the old
water, the fish will not be stressed by being moved. In essence, the
fish are being moved to a whole new aquarium, except for two things:
the fish and the filter. If they STILL get sick, then either the fish
are bringing something with them (a bacterial or viral disease perhaps)
or the filter is carrying something. This at least narrows down the
range of problems to just two things.> We're desperate. We did
50% water changes every day by vacuuming the gravel each time, then
finally took the gravel outside two days ago and cleaned it thoroughly.
<I'd not use this gravel, to be honest. Throw it in the garden.
It is possible that the gravel has absorbed or contains something
nasty. Perhaps lime, or some sort of toxin. No idea really. But not
worth keeping. Gravel is so cheap (especially if you buy from a garden
centre) that you can eliminate this variable very easily.> We are
lost and only one knife is left and currently he has two small white
dots on his under fin. Is it possible that the substrate is the poison?
<Yes.> Or the silicone? <Ah... yes, quite possible. There are
two sorts of silicone sealant: one for aquaria, and one NOT for
aquaria. The "not for aquaria" kind contains poison to kill
fungi. In fish tanks, the poison can kill fish. Why were you using
silicone? If you use this stuff, it should ALWAYS be the sort of fish
tanks, which is sold as "aquarium sealant" or similar. If you
have used the "wrong" kind, then you're kind of stuck. If
you can completely remove the sealant, and then replace with safe kind,
that's an option. But more realistically, using a new glass
aquarium might be easier. Even a small amount of the "bad
kind" of sealant left in the fish tank could cause problems.>
The glass is clean and we never use chemicals except dechlorinators and
we let the water sit for 24 hours before adding. Any ideas? In a panic,
Michelle <Hope this helps, Neale.>