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FAQs on Oscar Disease/Health 5

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesIch/White Spot Disease, Freshwater MedicationsOscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Oscar Disease 1, Oscar Disease 2, Oscar Disease 3, Oscar Disease 4, Oscar Disease 6, Oscar Disease 7, Oscar Disease 8, Oscar Disease 9, Oscar Disease 10, Oscar Disease 11, Oscar Disease 12, Oscar Disease 13, Oscar Disease 14, Oscar Disease 15, Oscar Disease 16,
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White slime on Oscar 10/16/07 hi my name is Seth <Hello Seth,> I use your website as a reference and it has helped me with a lot of sicknesses mainly "hole in the head and at times fin rot" <Hmm... both these diseases are related directly and almost always to water quality issues. So as well as treating the symptoms, go back and review the living conditions of your fish. Overstocking, under-filtering, and inadequate water changes are the "Big Three" when it comes to avoiding both diseases.> but I was wondering if you could help me? I have a 13 inch Oscar in a 75 gallon tank with 3 cons two are 1" one is 4". 4 Africans all about 2-3". 2 Firemouths 1" each. One 12" Pleco and one more 7" Oscar. my 13" Oscar has small patches of white film "looks like extra slim" on him. <Almost certainly water quality. Review your stocking and filtration. By itself, an adult Oscar needs a 55 gallon tank. An adult Pleco something upwards of 40 gallons. So right there you're exceeding what a 75 gallon tank can comfortably house. Yes, you can add more fish with additional filtration and water changes, but that's expensive and hard work: Filtration would need to be upwards of 10 times the turnover of the tank for the collection of fish you have; in other words, you'd need one or more filters with a total water turnover of 750 gallons per hour. Water changes would need to be 25-50% DAILY. Even then, you've no guarantees everything would work out well. Oh, I have no idea what "cons" are -- Convict cichlids? Please use proper names -- it helps our other readers understand your query.> Its not on his eye but its by it and it covers his fins and back. What is this? <Likely excess body slime, a response to poor water quality.> can my other fish get it? <Not from the Oscar directly, but they're likely stressed in their own different ways.> If you could help it would be much appreciated. thanks <Review your stocking. Thin the tank out. Rehome, sell some of the excess livestock. Concentrate on keeping a smaller number of healthy fish. One Oscar and one Pleco would be about the most I would recommend in your tank, and even then with careful attention to water quality and water changes. Good luck, Neale>

Oscar Out Of Water 10/04/2007 Hello. I have 3 tiger Oscars. They are approx. 3-4 years old, and range from 6 to 9 inches long. I bought them at Wal-Mart when they were just an inch or so long. They are now way too crowded in their 29 gallon tank, so I bought a 55 gallon for them, and am going to give my dad my smaller Oscar to put in his 55 gallon, so that she may live by herself, peacefully. In the meantime, we are moving, so I can't set up my new tank until we are done with that..........My question is, I have noticed for about a week now that my one middle sized Oscar is swimming at the top of the tank with his back out of the water. When I reach in and gently "push" him down, he seems to swim funny, as if one of his fins may be damaged, but they appear to be fine physically. He eats normal, and seems to be fine otherwise, but I can't figure out why he is swimming partly out of the water the way he is. My best guess is that the larger "meanie" may have picked on him and done some kind of damage to one of his fins or something. <Hmm... swimming problems can have multiple causes. Constipation is one. People often feed Oscars too much soft food. They need fiber. Unshelled prawns or whole crayfish are ideal. Crickets and frozen krill will also work well. Some Oscars also enjoy tinned peas, and these are excellent for this. Oscars eat quite a bit of plant material in the wild, and so you need to make sure they eat at least some in captivity. Another problem is poor diet. The single worst food for Oscars is live fish, especially goldfish. Goldfish contain a lot of fat, and this messes up their internal organs. Goldfish also contain Thiaminase which destroys vitamin B1. But the biggest problem with live feeder fish is the risk of disease. No responsible fishkeeper recommends using cheap feeder fish. So if you're using live feeder fish, stop. If the "laxative" option doesn't help, then treating for internal bacterial infections would be my second course of action.> My other question is, when we move, what would be the best way to move fish of that size without stressing them out too much? The house we are moving to is approx. 15 minutes away. Thank you for your help. ~T~ <Moving fish isn't usually a problem. For a fish this size, get a nice big bucket with a lid. I use 5 gallon buckets from DIY stores, used for mixing paint and such. Put a bit of water in there, enough to cover the fish, but otherwise leave air in the rest of the bucket. Place the fish in the bucket, and keep the lid on. Normally, fish settle right down. One fish per bucket. Once you get to the new place, dribble water from the new tank into the bucket, and after 30 minutes catch the fish and place in the new aquarium. Don't put the polluted water in the bucket into the new aquarium. Hope this helps, Neale>

Please help my Oscar fish is in trouble!! 9/26/07 I have had Oscar for a year now. He has been a very happy and healthy fish. Recently we stopped feeding him live fish because most of our pet stores were having problems in their tanks, so my boyfriend and i figured that we would start feeding him other things. <As I've said repeatedly here and in every magazine and book I've written for, and as Bob Fenner has done as well, feeding live fish, especially "feeder goldfish" and "feeder guppies" to predators is usually an extremely bad idea. No book or magazine recommends this. Cheap fish -- by definition -- are maintained in poor quality conditions with little healthcare. As a result, each time you feed a feeder fish to your pet fish, you're playing Russian Roulette with the life of your pet. Those feeders are parasite time-bombs. Imagine if someone fed you a plague- and tapeworm-infested rat for dinner, raw. Sound safe? Obviously not. And yet, unthinking fishkeepers do this all the time to their pets. Goldfish further have the problem of being high in two substances known to be dangerous -- fat and Thiaminase. The fat accumulates around the internal organs, causing major health problems in the long term. Thiaminase breaks down Vitamin B1, and again in the long term does major damage. Since Oscars are not dedicated fish-eaters in the wild, there's not even the argument that fish are "its natural prey". In the wild, Oscars will eat small fish, but they also eat snails, crabs, crayfish, and insects. Their strong jaws are an evolutionary adaptation to eating prey with shells. So the ideal diet for an Oscar would be rich in seafood of one sort or another. They also eat a lot of plant material in the wild, and yet few of these so-called serious Oscar keepers who want to give them live fish show the same enthusiasm about giving them their greens!> We started feeding him pellet food, which he took to and didn't have any problems. But when we fed him pellets we noticed he was pooping them out rather fast. We bought a new 46 gallon tank with a Eheim canister filter. <Too small for an Oscar. Also you need a giant filter for these fish: one that provides not less than 6x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. These are messy fish that heavily pollute the aquarium, but are also extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrite. Almost all "sick Oscar stories" come down to either live feeder fish or poor water quality> We set the tank up, and let it sit for a couple days to let the temp go to room temp, and to make sure the water was in good condition. While transporting Oscar, he tore a good part of his side, a open wound but nothing he hasn't had before from playing in his tank. <What??? Look, playing fish don't rip their bodies open. What's he playing with, a saber-toothed tiger? Seriously -- this shouldn't happen, and open wounds are sites of infection. Please, review your fishkeeping skills. No-one should have a fish that wounds itself. Besides, fish don't really "play", so if its getting damaged, it isn't an accident because it was playing. This isn't a child on a playground who fell of the teeter-totter and grazed her knee. This is a fish that, because of some aspect of your "care", managed to get itself damaged.> Any way, We moved him into the new tank, he was nervous but seemed to enjoy the tank and the new freedom he had in it. His old tank was a 30 gallon, so i was thinking this would be a step up for him. <A marginal improvement. Oscars need tanks around the 55 US gallon mark.> Well the first day after he was in his tank i noticed what seemed to be ick. I treated for it and only 1 white spot fell off. So i treated again after i read the directions and did a partial water change. Then i noticed that it wasn't ick (my stupid mistake) and realized it was fin and tail rot. <Oh dear... Finrot, classic result of damage and poor water quality.> He also has some cloudiness over both of his eyes. just a small amount but i can see it. I read through your site and noticed that you recommend Mela fix, so i ran out last night and bought it for him and treated the tank. <I don't know which aquarist here recommends Melafix. I certainly do not. While it might be a mild antiseptic useful under certain circumstances, i.e., as a preventative, it's not a reliable cure once bacterial and fungal infections set in. So skip the Melafix and get a serious combination Finrot & Fungus remedy (what you need at this point). I happen to like eSHa 2000, but you will likely have different brands available in your pet store.> Most of the white sliminess has gone but the white on his eye hasn't and his fins look like i took a knife to them. <Indeed. Treat now! And make sure you remove carbon from the filter, if you're using it. I can't say this often enough it seems... carbon removes medications from tanks, and so shouldn't be used in a freshwater aquarium unless you understand what its for, what it does, and why you're using it.> He will not come out from behind his rock and he didn't want to eat last night he took the food in his mouth but he spit it back out). <He is sick and unhappy. These things are YOUR fault, make no mistake. This fish depends on you, and yet somehow you've allowed this fish to damage itself and get sick.> i was unsure if the pellets i fed him had absorbed the MelaFix and he didn't like the taste or something because my Oscar has eaten every single day sick or happy. <No.> I don't know what else to do, it says on the back of the bottle o MelaFix to treat for 7 days. I have only done one, but i was wondering if you could help me in any way, to see if am doing anything wrong. <Put the Melafix away. Do a big (50%) water change. Then begin dosing with proper Finrot & Fungus remedy.> I would really appreciate any response from you. Thank you, Keri <Keri, I hope this helps, but I'm afraid that unless you make big changes to the way you keep your Oscar, he isn't going to make it. Read some of the articles about Oscars here, and then review how you keep fish. He's sick because of what you've been doing, not because you're unlucky. Cheers, Neale>

Holes in Oscar fins  7/21/07 Hello. <Hi Caryn, Andrea with you tonight.> I have searched your website but can only find information on hole in the head disease in regards to Oscars. The 2 Oscars that I am concerned about have holes in their fins, like someone took a paper punch to them. <I am immediately inclined to think either they have been picking on each other or fin rot.> I do not see any parasites and the fish appear normal and have normal appetites. The Oscars are about 3-4 inches in length. The water parameters are: Ph 7.2, Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 20ppm, Ammonia 0ppm, KH 120ppm, GH 180ppm. I know the water is harder than they are accustomed to, <Yes, quite a bit. I'd add a chunk of clean, pre-soaked driftwood, or a mesh bag filled with peat to the filter to bring the water hardness to a more comfortable level. Also, what size is the tank? Oscars are quite territorial and will attack each other, especially in close quarters. How often are you changing water? Are there any other residents in the tank?> but I feel this is parasitic in nature and not environmental? <If not the two or another resident attacking each other, I'd look towards fungal or bacterial. Fin Rot is most likely bacterial, fungal usually being a secondary infection. Use the Google search tool on WWM for Fin Rot for more information.> I am familiar with most parasites, but I cannot find any information that lists holes as a symptom. The holes were small but have gotten larger and more numerous. They have not been treated with any medication as of yet. Any thoughts and help would be greatly appreciated. <I think more information is needed to definitively diagnose the issue. Is there any chance of a picture? Also, more information about the tank would help, such as size, temp, other inhabitants. Have the Oscars been sparring? Is there any whiteness around the lips to indicate lip-locking? Is there anything sharp such as lace rock in the tank? How long have the Oscars been in the tank? Have you added any new inhabitants? How old is the tank? Without more information, it is difficult to blame a parasite. If the tank is well established and stable, and no new fish have been added, a parasite would be unlikely, as there would be no vector. However, if there has been a recent change or addition, then more likely. Bacteria or fungus in an established tank are more likely culprits, but again, generally need an environmental irritant in order to take foothold if the tank is established and stable. Please send more information and a photo of the wound if you can.> <Thanks Andrea> Thank you, Caryn

Please Help... Oscar hlth.  9/6/07 Hello, <Ave,> I have a very sick Albino Long/Fantail Oscar fish & am very worried he might not recover. <Indeed?> He lives alone in a 165 litre tank. He has partial water changes around every 3 weeks and is feed Cichlid pellets and occasionally flakes or frozen blood worms. <Whoa... 165 litres is way too small for an Oscar. Moreover, water changes need to be weekly with this species, at least, and not less than 50% at a time. This cannot be stressed enough: Oscars are very VERY sensitive to dissolved metabolites (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) and when exposed to these they invariably become sick.> He is about 10 years old & about 3 months ago he seemed to lose his "pep" and preferred to park on the bottom of the tank behind his rock. He lost all interest in swimming. <Ah, at 10 years old he's getting to about life expectancy.> We decided to get some Neons (10 in total), hoping that it would spark him into to chasing some lunch. He did not even try to chase them. <Why are you feeding him Neons? If you want to make your fishes ill and then die, one of the best ways to do this is give them live fish. Oscars aren't really piscivores in the wild anyway. Their main diet is shellfish of various sorts, crabs, crayfish, snails, etc. Fish are a bonus they have when they can catch them. But they aren't "built for speed" and instead go after things that can't run/swim away. If you look at an Oscar, it's got huge, strong jaws -- and those evolved to help them eat their chosen prey. So concentrate on balanced cichlid pellets plus shellfish from the grocery store or frozen from the aquarium shop. Krill, whole shrimp, even crayfish would be ideal.> After 2 weeks in the tank with the Neons I noticed some white gunk developing on his eyes, so we took out the Neons and I put in some fungal medication. <White gunk could be anything. Most likely bacterial. Why use fungal medication? Treating before identifying a disease is pointless, and potentially dangerous.> His eyes cleared up but he was still very listless. About 4 days ago I noticed that he was going to the bathroom in long dark strings frequently. This is not usual for him. <Going to the bathroom? You mean defecating presumably? Assuming so, yes, stringy faeces are bad, and typically a sign of intestinal bacterial or protozoan infections, such as Hexamita. Difficult to treat in advanced cases.> He also looked very bloated. Later that evening I found him upside-down on the bottom of the tank. I have never seen him do this before. We stuck the net in & when he saw it, he tried to swim away but only managed to turn himself upright. I called the vet and he advised gravel cleaning, water change & PimaFix. <Glad you called the vet, but Pimafix is a complete waste of time for something like this. Roughly comparable to given an Aspirin to someone who just had a heart attack. Actually, worse. Aspirin is at least useful for some things. Pimafix largely is not.> The vet also said that he may have a bacterial infection affecting his kidneys which also affects his equilibrium. <Agreed, sounds very likely.> I complied with all the changes and have installed a new heater, as the old one was running a few degrees too cold. Ever since (over 24hrs now), my poor Oscar has been lying completely on his side without moving at all. He also seems that he is having trouble breathing properly (kind of like gasping or gulping). <Dying.> What is wrong with my Oscar? <Likely a combination of exposure to bacteria from the feeders, sub-optimal environmental conditions, and old age. Taken together, making things very grim. Let's be clear about live feeders once and for all. Their risk is cumulative. On any given usage, the risk might be small. But add up each meal of goldfish or whatever across 5, 10 years and eventually it becomes a certainty. Certain feeders (goldfish and minnows) further cause harm by destroying vitamin B1 over time (because they contain Thiaminase). So again, once or twice, no problem, over several years, big problem. No responsible fishkeeper uses feeders without [a] breeding their own and [b] making sure they have no alternative. I hate saying this, because you're obviously in pain over watching an old friend suffer, but you set this up yourself. The tank is too small, you were slack on water changes, and you were feeding the wrong things.> Is he just resting to resolve the possible bacterial infection or is he getting worse? <Fish don't "rest" by rolling over. The only thing you can do to help is use something to treat Hexamita (the most likely problem here, a protozoan rather than a bacteria). Metronidazole in the food, at a dose of 50 mg/kg body weight for 5 consecutive days is the best cure I know of. You can dose the water at 5 mg/l on days 1, 3, and 5, but this is somewhat less effective and a second course of treatment may be required later on. Your vet should be able to help out here. These medications are not expensive, but outside of the US you usually need a prescription to get them.> Please help with a reply as soon as you can, my heart is breaking watching him like that. Sincerely, Amanda <I hope this helps, and is not too late, Neale>
Re: Please Help, Oscar hlth.   9/7/07
Hi Neale, <Amanda,> Thank you for your quick reply. I am mortified that I am responsible for making him sick. Oscar is my partners fish and since I got together with him (2 years ago), I have kind of 'inherited' looking after him. I simply followed what my partner told me in how he would look after him. That's no excuse though, in hindsight I really should have done more research. I am completely devastated. <Ah, I understand. This sort of thing happens to the best of us!> My partner used to feed him neons on occasion & apparently he loved to chase & eat them, that's why we put them in tank and the local aquarium told me to feed him the cichlid pellets & blood worms occasionally. <It's a common mistake people make, to assume Oscars need live fish as food. They don't. And using them only increases your chances of sickness. Imagine eating Sushi that no-one had checked for healthfulness, and indeed the Sushi was made from fish living in polluted, swampy conditions. Would you expect to be safe eating that? No. And it's the same with farmed "feeder" fish. They're 'dangerous sushi' if you will.> There are only 2 vets in Melbourne (capital city) and they are both not available until Monday (its Friday here). I rang a few aquariums and they aren't able to give me any prescription medication for him. They also said that if he is not eating (which he hasn't for about 6 days now) then really getting medication wont help and there is not much else I can do for him. I also called the big Melbourne Aquarium (the type that is a tourist centre & has millions of fish) and spoke to a vet. She only deals with large scale fish and cannot tell me anything about smaller fish but told me to get the water tested. So I took the water to my local aquarium and got it tested. The water was too soft & ph was too high. <Curious. Are you using water from a domestic water softener by any chance? Water that is soft but alkaline in pH is something no fishes particularly like.> I got some crystals to harden the water & ph fixer to lower the ph. I really don't think that is going to fix his problem if he is already this sick. <Arghh! No, don't chance the water chemistry. That's the worst thing you can do. Fish have optimal pH and hardness ranges, yes, but they would sooner be at a steady "bad" pH/hardness than bouncing up and down towards "good" values.> The Melbourne Aquarium vet said I should stick to adding the PimaFix as directed on the package. <OK. But to me, Pimafix is a waste of time. It's tea-tree oil. Nothing more. It's like giving your fish herbal tea. Won't do any harm, but don't expect any great results either.> He looks like he is in pain with his gasping and he still hasn't moved at all (still flat on his side). Presuming he makes to Monday, what should I do in the meantime? <Not much you can do.> I really don't want him to suffer. Thanks in advance. Amanda <Hang in there for now. If he clearly is suffering, perhaps the best thing is to destroy the fish painlessly. I doubt he'll recover at this stage. Too bad, really. Cheers, Neale>
Re: Please Help  9/7/07
Dear Neale, My beautiful Oscar passed away. I am utterly devastated. Thank you for your advice. Regards, Amanda <Hello Amanda. You have my commiserations. Some fish, particularly cichlids, can be wonderful pets, and you really can become attached to them. Oscars in particular seem to have a special intelligence and a willingness to engage with their owners. I've heard many stories of Oscars that like to be hand fed, or petted, or even play with ping-pong balls and other toys. But 10 years is a good life for an Oscar, and I'm sure he enjoyed those years. Good luck, Neale>

Sick Oscar? Old Sick Oscar -- 08/27/07 Hi, how's it going? I stumbled on this site earlier this week, and after some much research and speaking with vets, I couldn't really get too far. I believe that my tiger Oscar is around 12 years old, I have owned him for about 6 years, and a good friend owned him prior. He's about 12 inches (kind of hard to get an exact measurement, since he is quite the mover). For the past two weeks or so, he's been lethargic, not eating, sitting at the bottom of the tank, and having a hard time breathing. I thought it was swim bladder and treated him Epsom salt with a 25-30% water change every week. The pH is 7.0 (low, I know), and the other levels have tested low at a pet store. Even the guy at the pet store has no idea what's going on, and he knows quite a bit about fish. Some stats about the tank: 39 gal Penguin 330 filters (brand new) heater for a 70 gal tank temp of tank reads between 79-80 (depending on the weather here) air pump set for a 70 gal tank, running two air stones (6" stick in the back, and a 1" stone in the front) I know some times he can be just, lazy, but that generally lasts only a few days, this has been over two weeks... Is my buddy just getting old or is there some thing else going on? Thanks so much! Kyla <Could be an internal infection. Try a 50% water change, clean the filter and treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Trying to find a diagnosis. Oscar With Fish Lice  8/21/07 Hello, I have a tiger Oscar that has been self-mutilating himself. He rubs against things in the tank and has opened his flesh at times. I did not see anything with my naked eye (at first). Then, one day, I sat down by the tank and looked up. He swam into the light and behold, there were microscopic white specks on his head. Then, I looked closer and they actually were moving. They are so very small, too small to compare them to anything. The only reason I saw them, was because he is black and swam into very bright light. They look like bugs crawling around over him. Now that I knew what to look for, I noticed them on the glass of my tank. Lots of them. Only in the light and very microscopic. I have tried researching "parasites" and nothing seems to fit the description. Fleas would be too big and flukes are described as "worm-like" rather than "bug-like". I couldn't stand to see my Oscar with open wounds and frayed fins so I bought "parasite eliminator" to cure flukes, anchor worm, and fleas, etc. I am about to give the 2nd dose. They have not responded to treatment so far. They are still there and there are plenty of them moving around unphased. What can I try next if this doesn't work? I appreciate any response, Thanks, Tina < Try Clout or Fluke-Tabs. The parasites probably came in with some feeder fish.-Chuck>

Sick Oscar after adoption... Too small a world, polluted...    8/18/07 I have a 9" Albino Oscar that I have acquired from a friend that is leaving the country for awhile. I told her that I would keep it so she did not have to get rid of it in an inappropriate manner. I received a 26 gallon aquarium with this fish and he is living in it right now. <Needs more room than this...> When I got the fish home the tank was filthy I cleaned added a new filter system, but left the under gravel filter in for about a week before I did a really good cleaning and removed it. <Good timing> The problems have been getting the water quality under control, and I have put finding a substantially larger tank tops on my agenda this month. The problem is that my Oscar is acting strange, and I hope it will live long enough to see it's new home. I have been monitoring the water for the last few days since the has tank gone through a really high Nitrite concentration. <Likely the larger part of the illness here> I have been doing Daily water changes of about 20-25% to get the nitrite level under control. Gus has started swimming Erratically in tight, fast circles. Swimming to the top of the tank and jumping up. He has a yellow tint to his scales between the pectoral and pelvic fins He also is twitching/shaking when he is floating at the bottom of the tank. He is now being fed Hikari floating cichlid pellets and frozen bloodworms and Spirulina enriched brine shrimp, among a few other types. Although from my understanding he had been eating hot dogs at his previous residence. (not good!) I do believe that he has some type of sickness, I am just not to sure on how to go about getting him back to good health. I have now had this fish for about three weeks. The nitrite level in the tank is .8 mg/l , the ammonia is at 1.2 mg/l with a Ph of 7.0-7.2 I am taking a sample of water to my local shop to get a more accurate test done. I hope you can provide me with a little more insight on how to nurse the beautiful fish back to good health. Thank you, Jayson Wall <More water, filtration... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Disabled fin... Oscar  -- 08/08/07 Hi guys, I wrote to you a few weeks ago regarding my Oscar that was lethargic and had loss the use of his right side fin. Well I followed your advice in treating him with Maracyn for a week and I've constantly monitored the water religiously to this point. I've seen much improvement on my Oscars demeanor. He seems to be happy now and is eating however, he is still not using his right side fin. The fin looks as if it did lengthen a bit but is still significantly smaller than the left side and is still not being used. I would truly like My Oscar to be well again and have full use of both his fins. When in full health, his fins are very large and constantly moving. I'd like to see this type of activity in his fins come back to him if at all possible. Can you please help me with my situation? Lee-Ann <Hello Lee-Ann. Fish generally heal their fins quite effectively. Provided the basal part of the fin (the pink bit) is intact, the rays and membranes should grow back over time. Sometimes you might notice the odd imperfection, but give your Oscar a few months and he should be fine. Of course, this assumes he doesn't get any further infections or otherwise damage his fins. So keep what you're doing, give him a nice variety of (safe) foods, and hope for the best! Cheers, Neale>

Sick Oscar  8/4/07 Greetings, <Salutations> This a two parter. First of all I love your site, so thorough and informative!! <"It's getting better all the time"> My ruby Oscar has been sick for about 8 days now. I have a 135 gallon tank with her, 2 Plecos, and 3 Columbian sharks. <Mmmm, Arius... you do know these are not really freshwater species? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ariidcats.htm> My Oscar became stressed when we added a knife fish, which we since have removed, and didn't eat and hid in the corners for two days. <This sort of behavior, reaction is not uncommon> I checked the water, did some changes, and it wasn't the water. After 4 days of not eating and her fins getting reddish. I moved her to a hospital tank and started treating her with Metro. <Mmm, okay...> I've kept the tank at around 82-84 to speed up her metabolism, have kept the light off to keep her stress low, and have been doing roughly 30% water changes daily. On about the 6th day when changing the water, I noticed a slimy clear feces. the same on the 7th. She still had not eaten, I tried peas, earthworms, bloodworms, brine shrimp, her pellets, nothing. Now its at about day 6 in the hospital tank and she has improved tremendously, swimming around a lot, looking for food. But now the problem is her mouth. Her mouth is stuck open and it seems like there's a clear mucousy film coating the inside on her lips. I also noticed a dark green mucousy poop when cleaning the tank today. <Good observations, description> She is doing much better, but I'm worried about her mouth, the green discharge, and she still won't eat, even though she appears very very hungry. Any suggestions? <Earthworms, insect larvae (the Beetles: mealworms and such)> I know the open mouth sometimes means she broke her jaw, but is that possible if she hasn't been eating? <Mmm, more like "lock-jaw" in humans... an indirect result...> And the film inside of her mouth is strange. Please help!! Lastly, my other ruby Oscar in a 80 gallon tank refuses to eat his pellets since I put him in a larger tank. When I switched him he fasted for almost 2 weeks! I've got him to eat earthworms, bloodworms, cucumber, anything BUT pellets. <Try the Spectrum brand here... highly palatable> He even feigned playing dead today, just so I would feed him anything other than pellets. I've been trying to stay firm, but he throws fits and lays sideways! How long should I hold out before I give him something else? <Mmm, and try mixing some of the Spectrum pelleted food in with the preferred live items...> Thanks in advance! --CRAIG <I might try "some" (a level teaspoon) of aquarium salt AND Epsom salt (total) per ten gallons of water in with the mal-affected Oscar... this can often trigger an internal, osmotic change in fishes, improving their health, disimproving pathogens'. Bob Fenner>

Sick Oscar  7/28/07 Hello, I have a 10 inch Tiger Oscar which has a problem. He is in a 75 gallon tank along with a 8 inch jack Dempsey, 6 inch Jaguar Cichlid, 4 inch Pleco, and a 4 inch catfish. The past few days my Oscar has been acting strange. He lays of the bottom of the tank all day and will not eat. His breathing is very hard. He also has a white slime over his eyes and the top of his head. I also noticed that his fins are rotting. I did a 35% water change and began treating the tank with triple sulfa. Any advice you have for me would be appreciated. Thank you. Jim < In a big tank like this you probably have a lot of things going wrong. Big cichlid tanks get very messy very quickly. If you checked the nitrates I bet you would find that they are very high. These high nitrate levels stress the fish and cause all kinds of disease problems. First of all I would recommend that you change 50% of the water while vacuuming your gravel and clean the filter. Organic waste tends to interact with medications. The triple Sulpha may have already interacted with your biological filtration and you may be getting ammonia and nitrite spikes too. I would recommend treating the tank with Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole. Treat on day one and do a 50% water change on day two. Retreat on day three and do another 50% water change on day four. Retreat on day 5 and change 50% of the water on day six. Now you can offer some food if your fish look hungry. If your fish are eating then they are probably cured and you will need to replenish the good bacteria for biological filtration. Add carbon the filter to remove the medication. When the water is clear you should add Bio-Spira from Marineland. To prevent this problem in the future you should keep up on your water changes and tank maintenance and keep the nitrates below 20 ppm.-Chuck>

Sick Albino Tiger Oscar, induced troubles with "feeder goldfish"  - 7/23/07 Hello, I have read through the articles other people have written you to see if they are the same situation I have but I wasn't able to find one similar. <Thanks for looking... there are tens of thousands of unique ISPs... visitors using the site daily... We could not hope to direct, re-direct them all> We have a Albino Tiger Oscar that is approximately 3 years old, living with a 3 year old parrot fish and a 3 year old Pleco. We are not sure of the sex of the three fish. We got them all at the same time and they have been living in a 55 gallon fish tank. We started off feeding them feeder fish <Yikes... dangers...> and blood worms but for the last year to year and a half we have fed them just blood worms. For the past two weeks our Oscar has been laying on the bottom of the tank in the same spot for the majority of the day. He used to the first one in line when it came to eating but now he doesn't eat anymore. I have included some pictures b/c it seems like his scales are falling off. Our fish get along really well. They have never fought with one another so we know this is not the cause of his sudden change. Any suggestions would be very helpful at this point...we want to help him/her in any way possible. I have included a few pictures to help. Thank you for your time. -Robyn <... Need to know a bit more re the water quality of your system... but it could be "nothing"... or perhaps trouble with introduction of a pathogen with the "feeders"... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm and the file linked above... and http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm and the files linked above... If it were mine, I'd begin a serial treatment with Flagyl... All covered on WWM. And of course, stop introducing troubles with goldfish... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Albino Tiger Oscar  7/27/07
Thank you for your help....we tried changing the water in the tank and adding the Flagyl and it looked like things got better. Our Oscar finally started swimming around but wasn't eating. We stopped feeding him goldfish about a year ago... so I am not sure what was wrong with him. He ended up dying yesterday... we are very upset b/c we only had him for a little over 3 years and hoped he would live a lot longer.. <Can live for more than a decade...> Well thank you again for your help. -Robyn <Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>  

A couple of questions, Oscar... Neale's go   7/22/07 Hello again! I just purchased an albino Oscar from a reputable fish store in town on Thursday. Today (Saturday) I noticed red little stick like protrusions  coming out of his back end. There are 3 of them and they don't stick out very far. It just sits in the back corner of my tank unless myself or my fiancé© is look at it. I have seen it eat, but not a lot, and I've noticed that its gotten extremely thin since I got it on Thursday. I tried to take a picture of these things and the fish to give you a better idea, so I've attached that, I'm sorry if its not very good. Please help I'm very worried about it and the other fish in the tank! <By the "back end" I assume you mean the anus rather than, say, the caudal fin or something? If this is the case, there's one of two things. The first is simply constipation, and what you're seeing are bits of faecal material. Oscars are omnivores and in the wild eat substantial amounts of plant material, and fibre is as important to them as it is to us. In fact, most cichlids eat at least some plant material, so adding things like tinned peas, spinach, and Sushi Nori to their diet is advisable. Using "crunchy" foods like unshelled prawns and small crayfish are not only much closer to the natural diet of Oscars than anything else commonly used, but also have the added benefit of adding some bulk to the diet and so help to "keep things moving". Alternatively, these are intestinal worms. Camallanus worms are common in fish that have been kept in overcrowded tanks and/or fed feeder fish. As ever, the preventatives are don't overcrowd your fish and don't feed them feeder fish. Anti-worming medication is required here. Your retailer may have some, or else you'll need to make a trip to the vet, depending on the laws in your area. Looking at your fish, it does look a bit underweight, so I'm tending to go with the worms problem as the most likely problem here. Cheers, Neale> Re: a couple of questions??? Oscar hlth.  -- 07/24/07 He won't eat. I've tried to feed him and he just swims away from the food, and if he does eat, he spits it out. I got him from the pet store like this, but he's gotten so bad in the last few days. On Sunday I set up a hospital tank and he's in there being medicated with parasite clear. The red things aren't coming out of him anymore, but he's still disinterested in food. Everyone in the main tank are still doing fine, no signs of the parasite on them. Thank you for your response and I will read those articles now. Meghan PS. I should have probably mentioned that the parasites were not on him, they were in him. The stick like things were protruding from his vent. <Go over the treatments recommended previously. Treatment for Anchorworm doesn't require food: you manually remove the parasites, and add anti-crustacean parasite potion to the water. If the problem is worms, then you need an anti-worm (a.k.a. anti-helminth) medication, preferably one you add to the water. Running a course of both, one after the other, would probably be worthwhile. Don't run them at the same time unless the medications explicitly say they are safe to do thus. I'm not personally familiar with Parasite Clear but reading over the list of ingredients it sounds promising for Anchorworm at least. But I'd be leaning towards "Aquarium Products Fluke-Tabs" which kills both internal worms and external crustacean parasites. It should kill off any of the likely problems here. Act fast: the skinnier the fish gets, the lesser its energy reserves will be and the less time you'll have to save your fish. Cheers, Neale.>

A couple of questions, Oscar, Starvation, Lernaea? Bob's go      7/22/07 Hello again! I just purchased an albino Oscar from a reputable fish store in town on Thursday. Today (Saturday) I noticed red little stick like protrusions coming out of his back end. There are 3 of them and they don't stick out very far. It just sits in the back corner of my tank unless myself or my fiancé© is look at it. <This fish is badly emaciated... starving> I have seen it eat, but not a lot, and I've noticed that its gotten extremely thin since I got it on Thursday. I tried to take a picture of these things and the fish to give you a better idea, so I've attached that, I'm sorry if its not very good. Please help I'm very worried about it and the other fish in the tank! <Can't make out what you're referring to by your pix, but this is highly likely a crustacean parasite; Anchorworm... the adults need to be removed with forceps and the tank itself treated with an organophosphate... There are cautionary notes re the latter... all posted on WWM. Use the search tool with the terms "Lernaea", and DTHP, Dylox, Dipterex... READ, soon, formulate a plan and execute. Your Oscar WAS produced in the Far East, raised in a pond, exposed to the parasite... your other fishes could contract this... Otherwise, this fish needs FOOD! See how sunken in its stomach is? Bob Fenner>

Sick Oscar  7/22/07 Hello, I have a 10 inch Tiger Oscar which has a problem. He is in a 75 gallon tank along with a 8 inch jack Dempsey, 6 inch Jaguar Cichlid, 4inch Pleco, and a 4 inch catfish. The past few days my Oscar has been acting strange. He lays of the bottom of the tank all day and will not eat. His breathing is very hard. There are no external markings that would indicate any type of disease. I feed my fish two types of Hikari pellets along with freeze dried krill. My water levels are fine. It is obvious that something is bothering, however I do not know what type of treatment to give him. Any advice that you could lend me on this situation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Jim >>>Greetings Jim, another Jim here! Oscars often fall victim to more aggressive fish, and it doesn't take much to stress them out, and cause them to simply sit on the bottom of the tank. I've seen it many times, and the offending fish doesn't always out and out attack the Oscar in a way that will be obvious to the keeper. You need to consider ether moving the Oscar or the offending fish. Really, your tank is too small to keep all of those fish long term together anyway. A single, adult Managuense needs at least a 100 gallon tank. Best Regards Jim<<<
Re: Stressed Oscar
 -- 07/24/07 I took your advice and my Oscar still has not gotten better. He has now developed what seems like a white film on the Thank you Jim >>>A white film where Jim? Your message was incomplete. Sounds like a possible gram negative bacterial infection. Jim<<<
Re: Stressed Oscar
  7/29/07 Sorry about the incomplete message. The white film is on his head and little on one of the eyes. Jim >>>Definitely sounds like a gram negative bacterial issue. I suggest treating accordingly in a hospital tank. The fish sitting on the bottom though was most likely a combination of this as well as stress from the presence of the more aggressive fish. I've seen a 2" Convict keep a 12" Oscar on the bottom of the tank before, pale, and immobile. Only when the Convict was removed did the Oscars' behavior return to normal. Cheers Jim<<<

Extremely Sick Oscar, env.  - 7/20/07 Hi! I have read through pages and pages of the forum to find out what I can do for my Oscar. I am new to the Oscar world so bare with me. <Heeee! Depends on how attractive you are> I recently took over a tank with three Oscars in them. I have a 55 gallon tank with three Oscars. One is about 6 inches, the other two are 8 inches...big I know! <Too large for this small volume...> Okay this is where I am getting confused. Two of them are bright orange.. tiger Oscar? The biggest one...the sick one is mostly black but has orange on him. After reading the forums I am assuming he was once upon a time all orange. <Mmm, not necessarily> Now he is mostly black. He has started laying on the bottom doing nothing and he can not swim up right at all. He is also developing white scales one side and whitish holes on his head. I can't get him to eat at all. He tries to swim to the top of the tank every once and a while to get food but can't make it up there. I have been feeding with Cichlid Staple floating pellets. Others in the office I work with have been giving feeder fish to them as well but not all the time. Is this bad? <Not a good idea. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm> Another problem I am treating right now is I have a sucker fish that has fungus on his belly. I have started treating for the fungus using Pimafix. The pet store also gave Melafix. <Worthless> I was reading in the forum that others have tried using Metronidazole? <I would not use this protozoacide for anything but...> Should I use this instead? <No... you should read... On WWM, elsewhere re infectious disease... and most importantly, environmental issues> I just want to see them feel better. It is said that the people before me let the tank get this bad. HELP! Thanks so much Andrea <Likely the trouble is to a large extent an issue of the size of this system... a 55 is not large enough for just the two large Oscars... so the "odd fish out" is malaffected behaviorally... And physiologically... such a volume of water is hard to maintain health-wise with such large, messy fish... Likely your nitrates (see WWM re) are sky high... and this is a contributing cause to the Oscars beh. and the Pleco's "fungus"... Medicine won't help here... water changes, more filtration, and most importantly, a much larger system are needed. Bob Fenner>

Sick Oscar   7/19/07 My Oscar seems is sick. He just recently started to eat again but I've noticed that his right side fin is much smaller than the other and shows very little use. I just did a 50% water change and removed the charcoal in my magnum filter. I've been treating the tank with API products (stress coat, stress zyme and Mela fix) for about 5 days now and have seem my Oscar start to respond by eating again (slowly). But my concern is the lack of use of his right side fin. Could this be Ich? I don't see any white salt spots on him but am concerned if he will ever get back the use of that fin. Could you pleases help me? Oh, by the way, he lives in a 30 gallon tank alone and has a magnum filter filtering the water. Pleases help me. LEA-ANN <Hello Lea-Ann. First things first. What is the water quality in the aquarium? When fish "lose" fins it is almost always Finrot. Finrot is a bacterial infection usually caused by poor water quality. So, check the ammonia and nitrite are 0 and that the nitrate is below 20 mg/l. Treating Finrot is not difficult. Your retailer will have a variety of options. I'd recommend something that treats Finrot & Fungus simultaneously. Make sure you remove the carbon while treating. Secondly, 30 gallons is too small for an Oscar. Oscars are big fish that produce a lot of waste. You need a large aquarium with a big filter to keep them healthy. Actually, given this, I'd remove the carbon from your filter permanently and replace its space in the filter with extra biological media, since it's ammonia and nitrite that kill Oscars, not a slight yellow tint to the water! You should be doing 50% water changes at least 2-3 times per week with Oscars otherwise you run the risk of things like Finrot as well as Hole-in-the-Head. Finally, make sure you are *not* using live feeder fish. Cheap feeder fish (i.e., goldfish and minnows from the pet store) are the #1 way to get bacterial infections into your aquarium. Unless you are able to breed your own livebearers (guppies, etc.) at home as feeder fish, don't bother with them, and stick with dried or frozen foods instead. Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: Sick Oscar - 7/20/07
Thanks so much for responding. <No problem.> I tested my water and found Nitrite and ammonia levels to be 0, but my nitrates are up at 40 ppm. <A bit high for Oscars. These cichlids are sensitive to nitrates, and long term this will harm the fish, leading to things like hole-in-the-head.> I've looked for something API uses to drop this to a safe level but haven't found anything here yet. <There isn't anything that gets rid of nitrate. It's all down to water changes! The more, the better!> I know that 30 gal is not the recommended tank sized for Oscars but that's all I have right now. <My experience of overstocking tanks is that everything will seem fine until one day things start going wrong. Perhaps the fish grow to a certain size, and that's the "straw that breaks the camel's back". Whatever, long term you won't have good results with a 30 gallon tank. Oscars need bigger tanks. You can perhaps mitigate things by doing massive water changes. A few months back there was an article in TFH about a guy who experimented with Oscars in a heavily filtered 20 gallon tank, but did daily 90% water changes. The Oscars was perfectly healthy. But do you really want to be keeping them like that? Fine for an experiment, but a chore as a hobby.> My Oscar is about 7 in. long and he seems to be swimming around alright for the moment. The 30 gal. tank is an extra long tank that allows him to swim back and forth, and he seems to be happy aside from this incident. Again my concern is that right fin. With proper treatment, will he ever get back the use of his fin? <Assuming the damage is only loss of fin membrane, yes, it'll grow back.> And also would you please recommend a medicine that treats Finrot and Fungus simultaneously? <Depends where you are. In the US, then something like Mardel Maracyn would be the way to go. In the UK Interpet #8 Anti Fungus & Finrot would be your best option. Visit your retailer and see what they have in stock.> Oh, and I'm feeding him Hikari cichlid pellets and frozen brine shrimp. I just fed him today and he ate about 8 pellets in one feeding so I think he's got his appetite back but that fin really concerns me. Certainly would like to see him back to his normal self. Is there any chance of his getting full use of his fin back? And if so, please point me in the right direction in how to properly treat him. i.e.. what medicines to use that can be used with API products that are already in the tank. <Stop using the other medications while treating with the Maracyn or whatever. It's usually a bad idea to mix medications.> Again thank you for responding so quickly to my first e-mail. <You're welcome. Cheers, Neale>

Sick Oscar 7/6/07 I have 2 Oscars in a 55 gallon tank. One has started to act strangely. She (not sure if she is female but she is the smaller of the two), has been lethargic for several days, staying in one corner of the tank, floating very slowly near the top. No other signs of illness, no noticeable swelling, no discoloration or white spots. The larger Oscar goes and nudges her occasionally, but she does not respond. They used to swim together, and appeared to have an almost affectionate relationship. Diet consists of feeder fish, brine shrimp and occasionally pellets. Any suggestions? <... sounds like a nitrogenous accumulation issue, or "change of life" trouble twixt them... What sort of nitrate concentration do you have? Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>

Sick Oscars...   7/4/07 Hello! <<Hello, Amanda. Tom here.>> Okay, this question is going to take a bit of set-up.... I have a 125-gallon with a very large canister filter. I started the tank six weeks ago with four platies until it cycled, and slowly added 4 Bala sharks, a Pleco and some Oscars. (Oscar numbers in a second but never more than four.) I have not had any problems with nitrate, nitrite or ammonia, pH or water hardness, and I vacuum each week with a partial water change. <<With the exception of using the Platys to cycle the tank, Amanda, all sounds fine. A little late now but I would have recommended fishless cycling to you, or anyone else, for that matter.>> I started with three very small (1 inch) Oscars. Within a week, two died. Since the two had been purchased from the same location I assumed I had exposed them to some new pathogen or something or maybe they were sick to start off with. <<Without quarantining the new stock, it's hard to pinpoint, or even make an educated guess, about the cause for these deaths.>> I bought one more, and everything was good for a week or so, and then I saw two real pretties and bought them both, bringing tank total to 4 small Oscars, 4 small balas, 4 platies and a small Pleco. Everything was good for two weeks. I feed Hikari Maintenance and frozen goodies, and the biggest Oscar ate a couple of platies (expected), with occasional flakes and minnows. Two weeks ago I lost another and last week I lost my fourth. The symptoms are very rapid, each death started with no eating, laboured "gasping" mouth and gill motion, hiding and death within 48 hours. <<I can't tell from your letter if the Oscars that died were also dining on the feeder fish but it might explain some of what's happening. Keep in mind that feeders are low in nutrition and, potentially, high in disease. Ditto for the Platys even if they seemed to have weathered the cycling process unscathed. We know that some folks with predatory fish, Oscars among them, will continue to supply their pets with feeder fish but we try diligently to admonish hobbyists not to partake in this practice. There are simply too many ways to feed your Oscars a healthy diet without jeopardizing their well-being for the sake of giving them the opportunity to chase and eat another fish regardless of how 'natural' this may be. (A side note to this is that it can increase aggression against tank mates which neither your Balas nor Pleco would likely appreciate.)>> There has been no bullying; of the two fish I have left one is one of my originals, and he is growing like a weed and eating like an, well, Oscar. The other is the fourth fish I purchased. The guys at the local store have checked my water and found nothing, and I certainly don't want to lose any more. I'm also not looking forward to the idea of pulling the whole darned thing apart and starting over. Any help you can offer would be awesome. <<Set up a quarantine tank, Amanda. This would be a minimal expense against the investment you've already made not to mention that it's simply the best way to ensure that you're adding healthy fish to your display tank. Second, and this may go a bit against the grain of some hobbyists, assume that your new fish have health issues when you bring them home and prepare accordingly. For example, you might have a fresh supply of Metronidazole on hand to treat for a possible case of HITH/HLLE or, a supply of a good Ick medication. You can't prepare for everything, of course, but some elementary research of the fish you intend to purchase should quickly point up some of the diseases/conditions that these fish are most susceptible to have/carry. Obviously, the sooner you can begin a regimen of treatment when a problem arises, the greater the chance of success in treating your fish will be. Finally, don't 'jump' on the first specimen that catches your eye at the LFS. If possible, observe the fish over a period of a couple of weeks. If your gut feeling is that a fish may not be well, or that any of its tank mates are unwell, don't purchase the fish. Good intentions notwithstanding, you owe it to yourself and your other fish to bring home the healthiest fish possible. (I've run across some heart-warming stories from people who have 'saved' sick fish from the pet store but this isn't a recommendation I would pass on. Pawning bad livestock off on an unsuspecting consumer only harms the industry and the hobby in the long run. Hobbyists become frustrated with dying fish (sound familiar, Amanda?) and, ultimately, disillusioned with the whole endeavor.>> Thank you ~Amanda <<You're welcome and best of luck to you. Tom>>

Oscar unwell -- 6/17/07 Hi, <Hello> i have two Oscars a red 1 and a albino in a 4ft tank this morning my albino is floating on its side and looks like its scales are peeling, <Difficult to be 100% sure, but if the scales look as if they are lifting away from the body, like a pinecone, then the symptom is "dropsy", which almost always means organ failure of some sort. Along with poor swimming behaviour, this combination of symptoms is extremely serious. Grave, even.> and its vent red and swollen. <Again, not a sign of any one specific disease, but very often a sign of something systemic, like an internal bacterial or viral disease.> have fed them and he's not eating <When fish reach this state, they almost never eat.> he's alert with eyes and fins moving. <Well, at least he isn't dead then.> please please help i don't what him to die. <I'm afraid he almost certainly *will* die. It is difficult to ascertain why though. Need more information. For example, how big is the aquarium? What sort of filter are you using? What are the pH, nitrite, and nitrate levels? How often do you change the water? Perhaps more critically, what are you feeding your Oscars? I seem to say/write this on a weekly basis, but using feeder fish is basically risking the lives of your pets. Goldfish and minnows are not only parasite bombs but also nutritionally imbalanced. Oscars are omnivores, and wild fish eat primarily armoured prey (hence their strong jaws) -- things like small catfish (Corydoras!), crayfish, crabs, and snails. In aquaria, a diet based on a mix of pellets and things like unshelled prawns and snails is just about perfect, especially if you throw in some tinned peas a couple of times a week (like virtually all cichlids, Oscars eat some plant/algae material in the wild). Good water and the right diet are the keys to healthy fish. So, let's discuss diet and water a little more so we can make sure your other Oscar doesn't get sick. As it is, I can't see your ailing Oscar getting better. It's too far gone. A trip to the vet might be helpful, but when a fish reaches the set of symptoms you're describing, treatment is very uncertain. About the only practical thing you can do is remove it to another tank (to prevent infecting the healthy Oscar, optimise the water quality, and hope for the best. Antibiotics are really the only things that work on internal bacteria infections, but really, with the organs damaged to the point the fish has dropsy, I'd tend towards painlessly destroying the fish. Do read the section here at WWM on Dropsy: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dropsyfaqs.htm > Nell <Sorry cannot be any more helpful. Sincerely, Neale>

Bloated Oscar  6/9/07 Hi Crew, <Hello.> I have a Red Oscar who hasn't eaten in around a month. I am a relatively experienced keeper of Cichlids and maintain all the usual conditions within a tank for keeping them. My tank is 650 litres, water is well filtered, changed, tested and heated. <Very good.> I have had this fish for four years now, and she is an extremely placid member of her species. <Oscars are fairly placid, generally. Sure, they become territorial when breeding, but what cichlid doesn't? A lot of people throw Oscars in with more aggressive things like Red Devils or Asian Arowanas, with disastrous results.> She lives in a communal tank with 28 other fish and has rarely shown aggression except to let the others know where her sleeping spot is. <Twenty eight fish! I'm actually quite surprised that you can have this many Oscar-sized fishes in a 650 litre tank.> In the last month has refused to eat and become quite bloated. Her belly is massive. <First port of call should be increasing dietary fibre. Oscars are adapted to eating hard-shelled foods such as snails and crayfish, so providing lots of "roughage" is important. Unshelled prawns or shrimps, for example, would be one way to help clear out the gut. Tinned peas are another good choice, and many cichlids, even predatory ones, seem to go for them. The absolute worst thing to feed Oscars are live fish bought from the pet store: goldfish and minnows especially are too high in fat compared with their natural diet, and long term cause organ damage. Sadly, too many people don't take note of this, and give them this sort of food. Curious what sort of live fish Oscars eat in the wild? Corydoras! That's why they have such large, strong jaws -- to crush the catfish spines and armor plating! Not that I suggest you go feeding Corydoras to your Oscar, I hasten to add. Shrimp, crayfish, snails, etc are perfectly natural parts of their diet and much easier/safer to use.> Recently my Bristle Noses' bred and I have noticed a few young around the tank. My concern is that the Oscar has managed to consume a large number of these young when they have grown to a bite size. (15mm). She was showing signs of hunting around the crevices of my tank just prior to this problem. <Normal behaviour: Oscars eat small catfish.> I have been researching on line for bowel problems but have found nothing that seems to directly relate to this issue. My questions are, is the bristle nose poisonous? <No. In fact, many of the larger Loricariidae are used as food fish by native South Americans. You cook 'em in the shells, and flake out the meat in the tail.> Is there any remedies for Oscars overeating a spiny fish such as these? <The spines aren't the issue. You Oscar has evolved to eat spiny food much tougher than baby Ancistrus.> The treatments I have researched don't seem to match this problem. Am I overlooking a simple problem that can be easily treated? <Yes. Focus on the diet. Drop things like pellets and flake, and definitely cut out live feeder fish if you're using them. As well as being nutritionally poor, another risk from store-bought feeder fish is introducing parasites. Some people breed their own livebearers for feeding predatory fish. They gut load the guppies or mollies with algae, and use these as feeders. That's about the only safe way to use feeder fish. Otherwise, concentrate on live or frozen invertebrates. Also try peas. If your Oscar likes flake or pellets, try vegetarian flake/pellet food. Some Oscars enjoy other vegetables too, so try anything soft or part-cooked you have to hand: lettuce, courgette, spinach, etc.> She has been relatively active (though sluggish compared to her normal behaviour) but today has been wallowing in her sleeping spot all day. <Definitely sounds out of sorts.> She also forms a large protrusion near her anus that reduces then reappears. <Curious. Worms, particularly Camallanus worms, can be "caught" by cichlids, especially ones kept in overcrowded aquaria or fed cheap feeder fish. Treatment here requires anti-worming medication. But the protrusion here could be merely the end part of the rectum trying to force out the faeces, but failing because of the lack of fibre. Observe closely, and see if the protrusion is worms or part of the fish.> My wife has mentioned that she has managed to pass faeces and that is when the lump reduces. <Interesting. I'm tending towards constipation as the problem here.> Your thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated. <Focus on diet, monitor water quality, and don't give any high-protein foods at all until things fix themselves. When she's hungry, give her unshelled invertebrates plus peas (or other greens). See if that helps.> Thanks, Kell Christiansen <Cheers, Neale>
Re: Bloated Oscar  6/10/07
Thanks Neale, <No problem!> She is only been fed feeders in the early stages of her life. <Oh dear. Well, it's done now.> Looks like I should concentrate on a fibre diet. <Probably, yes.> She has been eating pellets for the last 3 years, maybe the lack of fibre from your suggested food sources might be the way to remedy this problem. <Certainly worth investigating before worrying about internal parasites and whatnot.> Her tank mates are nowhere near her size, the largest being a Bala Shark. Others include Angels, several Silver Dollars, Firemouth Cichlid, Gold Severum, Loaches (Clown and Pakistani) adult Dimidichromis Compressiceps, Lombardi, Plecostomus, Acara, Jewel and Convict Cichlids. (Obviously Bristles included). <Sounds fine. Rather a nice collection of fishes. But I'm surprised she hasn't eaten some of these fishes yet. I guess she's pretty tame.> They all seem to fit in fine. I might try the worming medication for this seems to be the solution that fits the problem most accurately. <If you can confirm the fish has worms, then yes. BUT, medications all more or less work be being poisonous. Each time you use them, they irritate or harm the fish to some degree as well as being fatal to the parasite. So as a general rule, it's best not to use medications prophylactically but only when you are sure (beyond reasonable doubt, at least) that the fish is infected with that particular disease.> Maybe live Crayfish might inspire her to react to food being introduced to the tank. I feel that she won't care for peas as she doesn't move toward the pellets. <Get a tin of peas and try. Even if she doesn't eat them, the catfish and silver dollars certainly will. Squish the peas before using them. Skip a day's feeding, so they're nice and hungry before using vegetables: just like people, fish get spoiled, and will choose the steak over the vegetables, even though the vegetables are the important bit!> She hasn't been interested in anything static at all lately. I'll keep you posted on the results. Thanks very much for your time and advice. She is my most loved cichlid, and hopefully I haven't left it to late to help her. <I'm sure you haven't. Focus on the diet, try as many different things as possible. Think "fibre". Don't worry about calories -- large fish can go weeks without food.> Thanks again, Kell <Cheers, Neale>

Twitching Tiger Oscar  - 6/7/07 <<Hi, folks. Tom with you.>> We have a 10" tiger Oscar named 'Ozzy'. He is about 2 1/2 years old. A few weeks ago we had a disaster with his tank, the seal split on one of the corners and water started leaking out. Consequently, we had to drain the tank and rush him to the fish shop which very kindly looked after him until we could get a new tank set up. <<Oh, Boy! There's a bunch of people 'knocking wood' right now that this hasn't happened to them! Kudos to the fish shop, by the way. Love to hear things like this.>> We set up the new 250 litre bow front tank (we are planning on getting a larger tank when we move house in a month or so when we have more room) and introduced some other fish before we got Ozzy back. We have clown loaches, a red tailed black shark, a black ghost knife fish and some cardinals (which we now realise was a bad idea because the cardinals are reducing in number every day.....a very expensive lunch for Ozzy!!) <<Lucky Ozzy. Hope he appreciates the 'cuisine'. :) Can I assume correctly that water tests were made to ensure that the new tank conditions were appropriate for inhabitants? (You're 'veterans' so it might seem like a silly question but occasionally that's exactly where 'complacency' slips in. Shouldn't happen but it does.)>> Since we have got Ozzy back he is acting very strangely. Apart from opening his mouth very wide and attacking the front of the tank by sticking his lips on the glass (sorry about the description but I don't know how else to describe it) he is also twitching a lot. He will be swimming around and his whole body twitches as if there is a small electric current pulsing through the water. He is doing all of his usual messy things like digging, trying to rip out plants and pushing things around but he just doesn't seem very happy. Do you think this might just be a behavioural thing because of the stress of moving, etc. or, could there be something wrong with him? He has been in his new tank for a week, do we just need to give him more time to settle in?? <<You've had Ozzy for a while now so it's likely you're up on problems that Oscars can encounter. Let's consider HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion) which is also more simply described as LLE or LLD (Lateral Line Erosion or Disease, respectively). It's possible that Ozzy, while not actually contracting the condition, i.e. the 'pitting' on the head or near the gills, has developed what might be described as a 'hypersensitivity' along the lateral line due to stress or other factors. (As an analogy, consider how sensitive your skin feels when you've got a 'bug' of some kind like the flu or a cold. Arms and legs can feel like you don't even want air touching you.) Now, considering that the function of the lateral line on fish is to pick up on small electrical currents or pressures in order to sense the presence of other fish/prey, it's entirely possible that your Oscar is currently over-sensitized to his surroundings. New tank, new tank mates, recent move, to and from the LFS. I think your own assessment is pretty accurate in that he needs some time to readjust. Absent some physical injuries/symptoms, I'd continue with a regular regimen of water changes, good diet and patience.>> Thank you in advance for your help. A worried Jade and Karn x <<Understandable, certainly, but appropriate aquarium maintenance is the best thing for Ozzy right now. (Fish do pretty well on their own for the most part as long as we do our part.)>> PS We have searched through your website and forum but can't find an answer to the twitching. <<Well, maybe we just added something to help other folks who might run across this. My best to all of you. Tom>>

I have a Oscar question... Repro.   5/24/07 I have 2 Oscars. 1 red and 1  tiger. The tiger has laid eggs before... 2 or 3 times.. but they have never  hatched. <Might have two females...> They have begun the same behavior again.... cleaning the slate, shaking  their fins at each other, and frequent fighting. But my tiger Oscar is rather  'bloated' looking, only in her mid bottom section. She isn't acting sick, she  still swims up to eat, but she is guarding that piece of slate with her life. I  asked a lady at a local fish store and she said it might be  that the Oscar  is 'egg-bound' or she could have food in her stomach that is rotting... <Not likely> (i am  sceptacle since she eats just fine still) and she told me to try some live fresh  food. I just would like to know what i should try.... and if its possible for her  to be egg-bound. Oh and can a fish have kidney failure...???? Cuz that lady at  the fish store said it could be that too....  thanks <Are possibilities, but much more likely there is something awry with the sexes (both are females) of the fish here or that the Red Oscar is sterile (are purposely made so in the Far East where they're bred... to keep the market closed...). Bob Fenner>

Bait Minnows Makes Oscar Sick   5/20/07 Hi, I have a question about my Tiger Oscar "Luka", he has been very sick for about a week and a half, and it's my fault, you see Ludka enjoys chasing and eating feeder fish, Ludka is a year old, and about 5" long, he was in a 35 gallon hexagon tank ( I know that it's too small of a tank, we are going to provide him a tank of 75-100 gallon when our living room is finished remodeling) his tank-mates are a Blood-Parrot Cichlid( Mugsy ), 2 sharks, not sure of species but they are very friendly, 1 smaller cichlid and our lobster ( crawfish ) Thor. Recently we took a couple minnows that we had left-over from fishing and let them lose in our tank so that the fish could have fun, I wasn't thinking at the time, and now I regret it. Ludka ate some along with the cichlids and Thor, about 4 days later Ludka started to bang himself along anything that he could find, and he really did a number on himself, then he would lay at the bottom of his tank and not move. His body started to get this white cloud-like look to it, he no longer greeted me when I came into the room, and his eyes started to cloud over. I did research on the net and found out that I probably infected him with parasites from the minnows. I did end up losing one of my smaller cichlids, and almost lost Ludka. I isolated him into a 30 gallon tank with a brand-new filtration system and started to treat him with parasite killer, I also started treatment to my main tank. Now he looks like the pet of Freddy Kruger, his fins have dissolved away leaving the Freddy Kruger look, his color went from beautiful black with the red, to an ugly shade of sick gray, he no longer will eat for me, his eye cloud is getting better though and he is no longer laying on his side, he does recognize me when I talk to him and try to get him to have some food but he just doesn't seem interested. I feel so bad for doing this to my baby. My question is how long will he go with out eating? He was a big eater before and has not lost any weight. How long does it takes to recover from this? Is there is a food that I can offer to help him in his recovery? I plan on keeping him in his own tank until we have a large enough tank to house all of our babies together. My family misses Ludka and so do our visitors, he is the main attraction in our home, he even does a "trick". I wet a large brine shrimp and place it on the inside of the tank lid and close the lid, Ludka would look at it, get positioned, and with a thrust of his tail he would jump to the lid and get his favorite treat, the lid would knock as he hit his mark. Ludka would also dance with us. We would stand at the tank and sway back and forth and he would do the same. Any suggestions on how to get our Ludka back to health would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Bonnie < The minnows probably caused an internal blockage. The thrashing about was your Oscar probably trying to dislodge the blockage. The whitish film could be a bacterial infection or fungus growing on the damaged tissues. I would recommend doing a 50% water change, vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter. Treat the tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The Metro takes care of internal protozoan problems while the Nitro handles the bacteria and fungal issues. Treat every other day for three treatments. Change 50% of the water in between treatments. After the treatment try and find a medicated food with Metronidazole in it. You may have to go online. When your fish starts to eat it is getting better. Fish can usually go a couple of weeks without eating before they start to look ill. If the damaged fins have fungused back to the body then the fins will probably not grow back. Damaged fins will recover but they will not look as nice or as straight as the original undamaged fins.-Chuck>

Oscar With Hole-In-The-Head-Disease   5/20/07 Dear Wet Web Crew, Thanks for the fabulous site.  I heard about it from my son who has a saltwater aquarium. I searched your files but couldn't find an answer to what causes the spots on my Oscar.  I have a 55 gallon aquarium. He appears to be healthy since he swims normally and eats well.  The spots are white and look like pock marks on the front of the fish.  There are more spots now than two weeks ago.  I have attached two pictures showing the spots. Thanks for your help.--Mary < You Oscar is showing the typical signs of hole-in-the-head-disease. Fairly common in New World large cichlids. The is probably caused by a combination of poor water quality and poor diet. Check the nitrates. They should be under 20 ppm. I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace or Clout. Try to find a more nutritious food. Maybe supplement his current diet with earthworms, meal worms, king worms, crickets and medicated food.-Chuck>

Oscar With Damaged Eye   5/20/07 Hello, My name is Chris. One of the other fish in the tank attacked the Oscar's eye and now it is cloudy. I know it was attacked and that it is not a disease because the Oscar has been antagonizing the other fish lately. Will the eye heal on its own? Is there medication that I can give it? Any input will be helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read this and help.-Chris < Keep the water clean to prevent any fungus from attacking the damaged eye. I would recommend treating the fish in its own tank with Nitrofurazone.-Chuck> Lethargic Oscar   5/18/07 Hello, I have a 4 year old Albino Oscar that seems to have  gotten really ill in the past few weeks.  She has laid eggs before but not  in a long time. At first she stopped eating, I did a water change and checked  ammonia levels, everything was fine, except her. I noticed white around her inner  mouth, sort of near her teeth, so I then treated for fungus, and also for open  sores to cover my bases. During this two week period she wont leave the bottom  of the tank, and sometimes lays on her side so long, she wont move unless I move  her. I even tried getting her some live food, she wont touch it. Now this  morning she is on the top of the water, she is not bent in half, nor is she  upside down, so don't think its the swim bladder. She's just kind of floating  along,  her mouth is still open. If she is egg bound is there anything I can do to help her at  this point. She's a good 9 inches, and I would hate to lose her at this  point. < I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone every other day for three treatments. Change 50% of the water on the days you don't medicate. When you fish starts to eat you can add Bio-Spira from Marineland to replenish the biological filtration.-Chuck>

Oscar help    5/15/07 Hey guys i <... I> must say very nice site. You have been added to my favorites and I'm sure will be visited time and time again in search of answers. Here is my current situation I have a tiger Oscar and a red belly Pacu which i have had for almost two months now. They are currently in a 10 gallon tank <...> which i know is very small but they are still small themselves and i have a 75 gallon tank <This will be/come too small as well...> on the way from my buddy next month and am saving money to be able to afford and even larger tank down the road. <Oh! Good> The other day i noticed the Oscar had a mark on its mouth and on closer examination it is actually missing some flesh underneath its mouth and actually some of his lip. My first assumption was that perhaps the Pacu had bit him <That or it jumped, ran into something...> but i wouldn't understand why because they are never fighting for territory and always seem to hang out together enjoying the company of one another. I feed them daily and keep the temp at about 78-80F. I was doing a partial water change of about 25% every two weeks and after reading over your site realize that it should be more frequent. <Yes... weekly would be about ideal> It looks like it should be in severe pain but it is functioning normally and eating regularly to my surprise. I happened upon information through your site and some others that Oscar's are prone to this Hole in the head disease and was wondering if it is possible that's what this is. <Mmm, no... different symptoms> Any feedback would be appreciated i really don't want to lose this guy i really enjoy watching him. <Likely what can, will heal here w/o your intervention. Just good care... Bob Fenner>

Damaged Oscar May Lose Markings    5/12/07 First of all, I really appreciate your site. < Thank you for your kind words.> I have read and learned a bunch from you all. Now my issue, I had a Red Oscar and Tiger Oscar in a 20 gal tank initially when both were 3-4 inches long. I knew they would quickly outgrow this setup, but before I could get a larger tank the Tiger Oscar got sick with some kind of fungal infection. < A bacterial infection is more likely.> The "cottony" growth appeared on both of its sides and affected the fins as well. I treated both fish with Furan-2 anti-bacterial medication and went ahead and setup a 75 gal. tank. Both fish are fine and acting normal and eating as much as usual again. My question is will my Tiger Oscar get the marking it had on its side back eventually? During treatment he appeared to lose the skin on each side where the "cottony" stuff was. He has since grown back normal looking scales, but with no color markings where their once was. Will the color eventually return? Thanks for all you help, and I apologize for the long story for a short question. <Damaged tissues don't usually retain their original pigment. Usually scare tissue is dark colored. i don't think the pattern will return but the area may get lighter with age.-Chuck.

Oscar Hole in Dorsal and Pectoral Fins. Poisoned with Algicide, poor maint.  4/18/07 Hello, <Hi there> I have a 155 w/ a Red and Red Tiger ea 10"  2 Parrot ea 7"  and 1 Pleco 6". All but the Red are doing  fine and are active (Red is active) I have an algae problem which I have controlled, but cannot eliminate. <Mmm, a few possible approaches... to limiting nutrient, competition...> In the past Algae Fix <Algicides are a very poor idea... toxic... to your livestock, the system> has seemed to work (1 Teaspoon per 50 Gal), but now seems to stress the Oscars, they begin to bite at the water. <Uh, yeah> Appetite is down somewhat on all, but they still eat. Water changes at 30% every 10 days average. I presently don't have water readings. <...> Only the Red has small perfect hole on his dorsal, and splits on his rt pectoral with some missing scales on both sides like he has been fighting - but ALL fish get along fine. <> My weekend water change has been delayed because of this weekends Nor Easter and I have a well. After 7" of rain, I decided to hold off a little while. This tank is drilled with an under tank bio system, pads are changed weekly with HBH aqua pure - I alternate between Ammonia, Phosphates and Carbon pads. Tank has been running 2 1/2 years, sand bottom. All fish together over a year. Thank you Lawrence <Weekly water changes (no more than 25% while gravel vacuuming)... stop using the "Fix"... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above... BobF>

Blind Oscar  -- 04/11/07 Hi, <Greetings.>   I have searched the web site for an answer to my question but have been unable to find one. I have a four year old Oscar who repeatedly gets fungus infections. <Almost certainly water quality problems. Oscars (like most other cichlids) are extremely sensitive to dissolved metabolites in the water, i.e., ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. The first two require proper filtration, and latter regular and substantial water changes. With Oscars being so messy, you want a filter providing turnover at least 6 times the volume of the aquarium (i.e., 50% more than a regular freshwater tank). So if you have a 100 gallon tank, get a filter with a turnover of 600 gallons per hour. Remember, if you put the filter under the aquarium it has to work harder, so round that up a little if that's the case. Also, once filter media gets clogged, turnover drops, so you may need to clean the filter out very regularly, perhaps every couple of weeks. As far as water changes go, no less than 50% per week.> He gets a white film on his eyes and lays on the bottom of the tank.  The last infection took weeks to cure (I hope it's cured). <A symptom rather than a disease, so could be anything. But likely an opportunistic bacterial infection. Not immediately lethal in itself, but suggesting the fish's immune system is severely stressed. Check water quality, and also things like pH. Possibly also mechanical damage from fighting or sharp ornaments in the tank or even poor handling (i.e., in the net when moved).> The problem is, after the film was gone he is unable to see out of that eye and I believe some troubles seeing out of the other. <Fish have other senses, such as smell and their lateral line system, and compensate for blindness quite well. In fact, in murky waters, fish hardly rely on their eyes at all.> He has a good appetite and seems to be healthy, but is unable to find the pellets or catch the feeder fish. <Try hand feeding your fish, or training it to associate food with some stimulus, such as gently splashing the water. Also, unless you are breeding your own guppies (or some other Poeciliid) don't use feeder fish. Goldfish and rosy red minnows contain Thiaminase which destroys thiamin (vitamin B1) and causes harm in the long term. And all, repeat ALL, cheap feeder fish from the pet store are parasite/bacteria time bombs. So never use those unless you want your fish to get sick. Oscars are opportunistic feeders, and in the wild a major part of their diet is crayfish and snails. Their strong jaws are expressly "designed" for crushing shells. So there are plenty of alternative live foods from the seafood counter if you want to give your pet a treat once in a while. Earthworms are also enjoyed, and completely safe, and very nutritious.> I thought I was taking good care of my fish, but now I find I may be lacking. <Well, using feeder fish isn't a good start, I'll admit. But also, you need to tell me some details about how the fish is being kept. How big is the tank? What is the pH? The hardness? What are the nitrite and nitrate levels? Does the Oscar live with any aggressive tankmates (Oscars are really rather gentle, and easily harmed by super-aggressive fish.> Can you tell me if his blindness is permanent and give me some suggestions on helping him to find his food? He has not ate well in about two weeks. <Blindness in fish is generally permanent unless the damage is superficial and limited to the outer surface. If the water quality is poor, your Oscar will lose its appetite, so I say again, check your water quality and reflect on your water management routine. Cheers, Neale>

Hmmm... second blind Oscar of the day. Must be an epidemic  4/12/07 Hello, I recently stressed out my fish by adding another pair to their tank for a short time, however now one of my Oscars has white eyes completely clouded and lays at the bottom a lot can you tell me what to treat him with? <Hmmm... second blind Oscar of the day. Must be an epidemic. Anyway, it's more than likely one of two things is going on. Firstly it may be water quality/chemistry issues that are suppressing the fish's immune system and/or irritating the delicate surface of the eye. Either way, check the pH, nitrite, and nitrate before you do anything else. Oscars are very sensitive to poor water quality, so the nitrite should be zero and the nitrate less than 50 mg/l. The exact pH doesn't matter but somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 is fine. The second problem is mechanical damage, e.g., through fighting. When damaged, bacteria and/or fungi in the water can infect the wound, causing cloudiness as the skin and tissues die back. Unless the damage is very superficial, blindness is permanent. Regardless, you need to treat with a good combination Finrot/fungus remedy. Some aquarists like to use Melafix instead of or alongside such medications. Depending on the size of the Oscar, saltwater dips may be appropriate; essentially these involve dipping the fish in a bucket of aquarium water containing seawater-strength concentration of non-iodized cooking salt or marine salt mix for 5-20 minutes. Used carefully, this will clean up external wounds quite nicely, but read up on the technique first because done improperly it will stress and perhaps kill your fish. If all this doesn't help, consult your local veterinarian or animal health practitioner about using antibiotics. Cheers, Neale>

Keeping Oscars   - 4/7/07 Hey there. I was just wondering about the conditions of my Oscars. I have five 2-3 inch Oscars in a 56 gallon tank. I know, its bad. I have two tigers and three albinos. I had 6 Oscars to begin with, but I lost that one to a bad condition of fin rot. I didn't know if it was my fault, or if it was just there when I bought him. My tigers keep growing and one of my albinos remain the same size, except one. And that one is a little smaller then my  biggest tiger, and he has gashes on his head, and I was wondering if  that was fighting or was hole-in-the-head? I do put in about 30-40  feeders every two weeks about. I know that's really bad too,  but I am only fourteen, so my parents insist on buying feeders  for them. What is the best food for them, and do you have any recommendations  for me? Thanks =] < You already know you have many problems with this tank. At fourteen you are old enough to understand what is needed and hopefully will follow my recommendations for the sake of the animals. Lets start with water changes. You need to be changing at least 30% of the water weekly. While changing the water you should gravel vac half the tank to remove the mulm that has accumulated there. Clean the filters every other week. The filter should be pumping at least 200 GPH. Feeder fish introduce diseases and have very little nutritional value. Try feeding high quality pellet food instead. For a treat give them washed earthworms, mealworms, kingworms and crickets. They are healthy, do not introduce diseases and kind of fun to watch the Oscars eat them. Conventional fish foods like flake and frozen are also very good for them. As conditions improve you Oscars should be growing strong and healthy. The gashes on the head of the Oscars may start to heal up. If not try to feed them medicated foods with Metronidazole in it.-Chuck>

Belly-Up Oscar Recommended Medication Not Available  03/26/07 Hello Crew, I am a constant reader of your site to try and ward off any problems with my fish. I have a Tiger Oscar, Capt. Quint, I bought as a baby in January. He is now about 7 inches long. I have him in a 72 gallon tank with a Fluval 304 filter. I also have a 7 inch red eared slider turtle and 4 medium Bala sharks in the tank. The pH is at 7 to 7.2 and the temp is 78-80 degrees. Nitrate levels at 0 and water is soft.   Alkalinity is low. Quint is currently upside down still alive and moving around the tank. I thought he might have an internal bacterial infection from reading your site. I have called LFS and they don't seem to have Metronidazole as you recommended. They offered  Erythromycin as an alternative, but I haven't seen this mentioned on your site. I will do a 30% water change and vacuum as you suggested as all the other kids are fine. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I don't want him to die. Thank you so much in  advance. < Go to Drsfostersmith.com to get the right medications. Blindly treating your fish with anything usually does more harm then good. Thanks for checking the site first before asking the question.-Chuck>

Extended period of not eating/lesions/possible parasites? Oscar hlth., env.  - 03/02/07 Greetings Experts, <All.... right> I've been reading the FAQ and I am very impressed with your crew's level of dedication. <Me too> However I've read through a few pages and I'm still not sure on a course of action.  I would really appreciate any help you can give.  We've been caring for a 12" tiger Oscar (his name is Grouch - get it?  Grouch the Oscar?  Get it?) <Uh huh... shades of the Muppets> for a few years now - he belonged to a former housemate and has been on "semi-permanent loan" for quite a while, and we have of course grown quite fond of him.  He lives by himself in a tank that is somewhere around 60-65 gallons.  He has been healthy and happy the whole time and we have never had any problems before. Over the past few weeks, he has stopped eating.  At first he was doing the thing where he would spit out more food than he normally does; but by now, I would say that I haven't seen him eat anything at all in well over a week.  We feed him pellets only (no feeders), which he has always enjoyed just fine.  I generally keep up with weekly water changes (around 40-50%) and vacuuming, although I missed a few weeks in a row recently - not sure if that's related. <Assuredly this is... a "build up" (accumulation) of waste products, derivatives... could easily account for the observed/related behavior> He has always had bouts of aggressive swimming, but in the past few weeks he seems to have gotten into a few "fights" with the large wood decoration in his tank (and lost).  He had a few scrapes as a result which seem to be healing.  BUT, he now has several spots on the front of his head that have tufts of what looks like mold growing out of them.  Is this the "hole in the head" disease I've been reading about, or are these just infected areas that he scraped? <Related... are likely "neuromast" degenerative markings of some sort... environmental...> Either way, is it time to medicate the water, and if so what would you recommend? <Mmm, not time to medicate, but time to get back into and adhere to the previous maintenance routine... Also, I'd try enlarging this animal's diet a bit... perhaps (if you're not too squeamish) a few live earthworms... Mealworms... Crickets...> Finally, I've noticed a few small (as in pencil-point small) creatures crawling around on his skin.  They appear as tiny white dots, but when you get up close you can see that they're moving.  They also appear on the wood decoration.  What the heck are these things, and more importantly, do you think they might be related to his illness? <Can't tell... but these too are very likely positively correlatable with the cessation of water changes, vacuuming... and will "go" as well...> The thing I am most worried about right now is his not eating.  How long can this go on for? <Likely weeks> And more importantly, how can I get him to start eating again? <Improved conditions... live foods...> I'm hoping you can help with any info that you can.  I'd like to hear what the Oscar specialists have to say before I randomly walk into a random pet store and find some random clerk and just say, "Um, my fish is sick."  Thanks for any help.  I (and Grouch) thank you. - Chris <Thank you for writing... If there's funds for such, I would invest in a few test kits... pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate... I suspect the first has fallen and the latter are over 20 ppm... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Follow-up on Grouch. Oscar the Grouch Getting Better - 04/04/2007
Hello Crew, I emailed you early last month about Grouch the Oscar.  I just thought I would send you fine people a follow-up email to let you know the good news that he is completely back to normal.  The lesions on his body went away, the water readings have completely leveled out, he has stopped hurting himself on the wood, and he has regained his former disposition and appetite.  Everything is hunky-dory now in his world, it seems.  I didn't even end up having to use any medications - just restarted the regular water changes and vacuuming, as you suggested, and eventually everything fixed itself.  In getting him to eat again, I've discovered that he reeeaaallly really loves crickets, and he also enjoys krill, so his diet now has quite a bit more variety.  And I've definitely seen what happens when regular tank care is neglected even for a few weeks with these fish - but more importantly, I've seen that it's also reversible without meds.  Thanks so much for your help. The only other question I might ask you is: is something like enlarged nares pores or other mild tissue degeneration reversible?  I can't seem to find a definitive answer on this issue. < These will heal very slowly over time.> Anyway, I just thought you'd like to know that you were very helpful, and I'm much more educated now as a result of this site and the information you've provided.  Thanks very much again.- Chris < The crew thanks you for your kind words and are very glad we were able to help.-Chuck>

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