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FAQs on Oscar Disease/Health 6

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 5, 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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help with my fish please... FW... Neotrop. Cichlid... hlth.  3/30/08 Hi. I tried to find information on your website, but my English is not so good so I had problem finding the answers to my questions. <Let's see if we can help then. If I say something that doesn't make sense, please write back and I will try and explain better!> I have an Oscar and a Jack Dempsey. We changed aquarium 5 months ago for a 50 gal. At first, the fish were fine, but 2 months ago, some brown dirt start to "growth" everywhere in the new aquarium (see on picture) <This is just Diatoms. A kind of algae. Harmless. Wipe away with a clean cloth or sponge. Fish won't eat it, so adding a catfish like a Plec is pointless.> and the fish start feeling bad. Oscar stars having a wound on his head. <Yes, I see. This is a bacterial infection. Essentially an ulcer. Sera Baktopur should help. But I personally prefer eSHa 2000, a Dutch medication that seems to work very well against bacterial infections. If you were in the US, then you would probably be using an antibiotic like Maracyn (Erythromycin). You may want to visit a veterinarian to get some of this medication if you are not in the US.> I treat the water with "Baktopur" twice. (I send you picture of before and after the treatment.) <Certainly helping, and there's some new skin growing back. But this infection is caused by physical damage (e.g., a bite) or poor water quality. Perhaps both. So: check the fish are getting along. Also make sure the water is clean. Nitrite = 0 mg/l, Ammonia = 0 mg/l. Ideally the Nitrate should be < 20 mg/l but certainly < 50 mg/l. The filter must have turnover of at least 6 times the volume of the tank in gallons per hour. In other words, your filter should be rated at about 300 gallons per hour (or about 1200 litres per hour). Do lots of water changes, 50% per week.> Now, 2 weeks after the treatment, both fish are still sick, the brown thing is staying even if we clean the aquarium and even if we change water. They stop eating, they are about to die and I don't now what to do. <Stop feeding the fish for a few days so that water quality stays good. Keep using medication. Do big water changes!> thank you for your help Stephanie, Oscar and Jack <Hope this helps, Neale.>

My Oscar looks like he swallowed a ball. Bloated Oscars 3-24-08 Hi, I recently had to euthanise on of my three Oscars has he had gotten so swollen it looked like a tennis was inside him. Unfortunately now one of my other Oscars has started to swell as well. In the last week he has gone off his food and is panting in the water-he cant close his mouth. I have tried peas, but as he isn't eating that hasn't worked if it was constipation. I've tried the Epsom salts treatment- full dose than half dose after three days...I did this for a fortnight with a 25% water change before the half dose...was this ok and is it possible to overdose a fish from to much Epsom salt put into a tank. I have done a treatment of antibiotics but it doesn't appear to be helping. Water test are all perfect-pH 7 ammonia-0, hardness 180-190. We do weekly water changes of 25%. We recently did a 50% water change which the Oscars appear to love as the livened up but unfortunately it didn't last. We usually keep our water at around 26-27 degrees, but have had it higher by 2 degrees in accordance with anti-biotics. I'm really worried for my Oscar who sick but also about the one who is 'ok', I don't want him to develop the same problem is there anything I can do to prevent it from happening again. Sorry to be a bother but I care about them greatly. Thank you. Kylie <This bloat or dropsy is usually caused by stress. Sometimes it can be poor water quality but often it is the wrong food or just old food that has lost some of its nutrients. I would recommend a combined treatment of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. They can be obtained at DrsFosterSmith.com. The key to a complete recovery is to treat early. Once they start to eat I would try some medicated food with the Metronidazole in it. After treatment I would recommend a new diet.-Chuck>
Re: My Oscar looks like he swallowed a ball. -03/27/08 Oscar Bloated Follow Up
Thanks very much for getting back to me Chuck. We give them a pretty good diet- I think?. They have pellets we purchase from a Oscar breeder and we also give them cockroaches, crickets and mealworms, as well as any bugs we find in the house...is that ok or should we change it? Thank you. < I actually really like that diet. I would probably change the pellets to something with a little less protein. Breeding Oscars require a very rich diet that may not be required for non breeding fish. Something to keep in mind is the amount that you feed them. Never feed them more than they can eat in a few minutes. I know these little beggars can train their owners into feeding them all the time which is not good. Check the water quality and keep the nitrates under 20 ppm.-Chuck>
Re: My Oscar looks like he swallowed a ball. Dropsy Treatment In Australia  4/6/08
Hi Chuck, Unfortunately both our Oscars now have dropsy and because we live in Australia. We can't purchase the medication you recommended to treat the dropsy. We've tried Epsom salt, peas and antibacterial meds. We believe we are going to have them euthanized we think its best than letting them suffer. What we'd like to know is; if we get more Oscars how do we treat the TANK for dropsy before we put more fish in? Also do we need to get rid of a bacterial balls? We weren't sure if the dropsy was infecting them also. thank you. kylie and Dave. <It is thought that the parasites that cause the problems are found inside the gut of the fish and not in the open tank. When a fish defecates the fecal matter is picked up by the other fish and that infects them. If you get new Oscars I would recommend a different diet and keep the nitrates under 20 ppm. I don't think that tank sterilization with accomplish anything.-Chuck>
Re: My Oscar looks like he swallowed a ball. -04/11/08 Prolapse Colon In Oscars
Hi, Chuck, Me again. One of our Oscars looks like it has a bubble near its anus, I cant tell if it's coming from the Anus or It is the Anus that looks like a bubble. Any Ideas on what is happening to our Oscar. Our other two fish that had dropsy never did this. Thanks Kylie. < Internal pressures have distended the colon outside of the anus. The same factors that caused the dropsy/bloat have caused this problem. The colon may become fungused/diseased so be prepared to treat with antibiotics.-Chuck>

To salt are not to salt? that's the question. Adding Salt to An Oscar Tank  3/14/08 At once I want to tell you that you have a awesome website. < Thank you for your kind words.> I recommend to all fish Hobbyists. It seems I'm very confused about adding aquarium salt to my Oscars water. I know they don't need to be brackish. At the same time I read on your website that some aquarium salt is beneficial. I recently received a 50 Gallon Bowfront tank from my brother. It came with a huge Tiger Oscar, ( He's a good 12 inches if not larger) I named him Sampson. He has a 404 Fluval pumping 340 gallons a hour. Good water quality as well. My brother said he kept the water somewhat brackish. I really never heard of that. The equipment reflects it though. There is salt on the light hood and full glass hood, this is an all glass tank. My brother left town and the fish was supposed to be cared for by someone else. It wasn't. I went to break the tank down and it smelled like sewage. Even at that the fish was very healthy. I couldn't believe it. Now, to the water change. Naturally I went to fresh water because that's how Oscars are cared for. The only thing about Sampson that looks unhealthy is nose hole erosion. I figure water quality can do this. The water pH is good, I keep it vacuumed and do my water changes. You all hit the nail on the head when you say a canister is tough to clean! It takes a lot of pressure to close it back once your done cleaning. My questions are: Aquarium salt are not? <The Oscar is a cichlid which is a secondary fish that evolved from salt water damsels. They can handle some salt. A teaspoon per 10 gallons increases the slim coat on the skin and gills and may prevent some parasites from penetrating the skin.> Why the nostril erosion? < It could be a start of Hole-In-The-Head disease. It is often associated with poor water quality and poor nutrition. That that you have improved the tanks conditions it should stop but may take awhile to heal.> And what do I need to have in my 6 compartment Fluval to continue to maintain Sampson's tank? (I'm new to a canister). < Go with the manufacturers' recommendations for now and see how it works.> Will white vinegar get the salt spray or lime build up off my exterior of the tank ? <Usually the calcium will slowly come off if you use the vinegar to soak the area over a few treatments with a saturated paper towel.> I want the best for my Sampson! I just Love Him! And you guys keep up the great work! < Thanks again,-Chuck>

Albino Oscar red open sores  3-11-08 Hi; I have one Albino Oscar 10in long and about 2 1/1in though the girth of his neck in a 55Gal tank; it has a Rena Canister Filter, the water quality is as follows; water temp is 79 degrees, Ph.7.2, Alkalinity 120ppm, Hardness 300ppm, Nitrate 30ppm. <All sounds fine, though you don't mention nitrite or ammonia. Usually when fish develop sores, these are related to poor water quality and/or physical damage. Ammonia and nitrite are key problems, and should always be checked under situations like this. I will also make the point that 55 US gallons is borderline as far as an Oscar this size is concerned. Can it live in it? Yes. Is it optimal? Likely not; and rapid increases in nitrate and acidification between water changes are definite problems.> I change 30 % of the water every three to four weeks, the diet consists of live goldfish and pellets, and I use to feed him only live Crickets' and Shrimp sticks. <Please stop feeding the fish Goldfish. There are multiple problems here, but the two main ones are these: cheap Goldfish are disease time bombs, and Goldfish also contain too much fat and Thiaminase, together causing serious damage to the internal organs. There is absolutely no reason to feed Oscars live fish. They certainly don't eat Goldfish in the wild, and have strong jaws adapted to crunching things like crayfish and snails, so if you want the "natural" diet, then those are the food items to aim for. Oscars also eat some plant matter, and you neglect to mention whether you are providing things like algae and tinned peas.> Current problem; he has developed pink/red sours back off his head area and right side guild, these areas leave indentations as if they where rotting. <Initial assumption would be "Hole in the Head", an external manifestation of Hexamita infection. Triggered by poor water quality more often than not, though exactly why and how is not known to me at least. Regardless, Metronidazole in the food is the usual treatment. While treating, no other food items should be used. There are also off-the-shelf HITH medications. The effectiveness really depends on nipping the problem in the bud. If left too late, it is very very difficult to cure.> I have just gone though two treatments of (API) Aquarium Pharmaceutical Tetracycline plus, and perversely one set of medications of Erythromycin by the same company, (these are the only medications that I could find for treating Red Spot) although both medications have seemed to help in healing the wounds they have not stopped the formation of new areas. <Indeed. What these things likely did was stop the secondary infection, but the protozoan itself is still working its way through your fish. Do also remember to remove carbon when treating fish.> I am a firm believer of using Aquatic Salt liberally at the first sight of any infection and during treatments. <Which does precisely nothing. Not a big fan of "tonic salt", and vets generally recommend against its use as "support" for the same reasons the doctor doesn't prescribe you a saline drip every time he gives you antibiotics! Salt in freshwater aquaria is Old School and mostly persists because it gets people to buy overpriced cooking salt. 50% weekly water changes will do far more good than adding salt, and since cichlids are prone to bloat when salt is used continuously, that's a good reason not to bring a box of salt within a mile of a prized Oscar.> Terence <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Oscars With Internal Infection 3/10/08 I need a lot of help. My fish are pooping white wastes. It looks like a worm or something. He was the dominant male now all he is doing is laying at the bottom gasping for air. My ammonia is 0 and my pH at a 7.5 my no2 and no3 are both okay. < Nitrites should be zero and nitrates should be under 20 ppm.> My water temp is 80 or so. I have a 92 gallon fish tank with 5 baby Oscars. One was stressed so I moved him to my 10 gallon hospital tank. He is doing fine. It's my other two Oscars one is swimming around like he is drunk and the other is gasping at the bottom nearly dead. He had this long white poop that was at least 2 inches long, it was longer then him. He is so stressed I am researching the best that I can but I need a little help. Last week i successfully cured ick now this?? I treated today with both Melafix and Pimafix together, I don't know yet if it has helped. I just don't know what else to do what products to use please help. <I think your Oscars have an internal infection that may have been caused by a poor diet. I would recommend a treatment of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck.>

My Oscar Is Sick, damaged, fungal/bacterial... not using WWM   2/28/08 Hey guys. So here is my dilemma. I have had my Oscar for about 2 years. He is quite important to me. I recently moved him along with his tank mates, a cichlid of the same age, and a plecostomus, also of the same age. Well, i got them all at the same time. Anyway, during the struggle to get him out of my 55 gallon tank, he jumped out of the pitcher <Better to get/use some thick plastic bags from the fish store... much less damage> I had to use, dumb i know, and landed on the floor. :( He cut himself on something while flapping around. I managed to scoop him up after about 15 seconds. Now, as I have got the tank up and running again, he is acting strange. He stays in one spot, usually by the top, and just floats. He isn't eating well, he used to get excited to see me come to the tank. It seems like he is weak, because the current from the filter moves him around. He has this huge white blotch near his top fin on the left side and another spot like it on the right. His tail fin is frayed, which I've never seen it like that. He also has the usual missing scales and battle wounds to be expected from being on the ground. I was thinking it might be Ich, but the other two fish don't have the symptoms. He is in a bad way. I attached some pictures of him and the group, they aren't very clear, but I think it will help. Also, no matter how many times i clean the tank, like filtering out water, vacuuming the rocks, changing the filters, I can't seem to get it crystal clear again. <Is recycling...> What am I doing wrong? <Not reading, searching for all this... as it's posted on WWM in abundance> I am running two filter systems with each saying it will keep 50 gallons clean by themselves. I'm lost and need your help. Any ideas on what I should do?? Luke 12x20x48 - size of tank 10 inches Long, 4 inches Tall - Size of Oscar <I'd use some BioSpira to get this system cycled ASAP... and likely a Furan compound to treat the secondary infection. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... and elsewhere on WWM re the cycling issue. Bob Fenner>

Re: My Oscar Is Sick 2/29/08 I applied erythromycin, and a fungal treatment. I bought them at PetSmart. Also got some stuff for the cloudiness. I will reply after the treatment is done <Good luck! Neale.> <<... the "cloudiness" treatment... is NOT suggested. May well cancel/neutralize the medicant... May poison the livestock, deprive them of oxygen outright... RMF>>

Re: My Oscar Is Sick 2/29/08 So now the white cloudy patch has developed on his tail fin and around the mouth. Do you think the meds I got aren't working? Or do I just have to wait it out till the dosage is complete? Luke <Hi Luke. Without a photo I can't be 100% sure, but I'd assume that this is a continuation of the Fungus/Finrot. Do check you are dosing correctly, and also check you have removed carbon from the filter (carbon neutralises most medications). Also check the medication you are using. My personal opinion is the Tea Tree oil medications (e.g., Melafix, Pimafix) aren't all that reliable and are best avoided for serious problems. Fine as preventatives, but once the infection has set in, you need to get in gear and use the heavy duty stuff. To some degree this will require time to heal fully, but it should certainly not be getting worse. Cheers, Neale.>

Um.. I'm worried... Oscars... simply fighting, or an electrified situation?  2/18/08 I have 2 albino tiger Oscars. A couple of nights ago my larger one started freaking out and trying to almost jump out of my 55 gallon tank. <Yikes! Two of these fish need more room than this...> I would hear a crash and splash and it seemed he was almost unconscious in the water. My other one seems to be following his pattern because I picked him up of the ground this morning. I do have a top but they jumped threw the lid. <Yes... can happen> They are both very scared up and have almost knocked them selves out. It keeps happening but there's nothing wrong with my other fish in the tank. Im really worried could you please help me with your advice.,,,Aki <I do hope so... I am concerned that you may have a situation here of "stray electrical current"... making these fish "jumpy"... DO be careful around the tank till this can be checked, solved... Have someone check with a volt meter... FIND the fault... DO install a GFCI on all aquarium gear that uses electricity... IF this is not the root cause here, I suspect the two Oscars were "just" fighting... need to be separated, ultimately placed in a system of twice this size or larger... Bob Fenner>

hemexia hole in the head or something else... Using WWM   2/14/08 Thanks for taking the time to read about my problem. I don't have spell check <Do look on the Net proper... such programs can be downloaded for free> and I will do my best. I have a green Severum 4.5 inches and 3 Oscars all are about 10-12 inches long. I have had one of them for about 8 years. The other two I received from someone that didn't have room for them. All these fish have been in my care in this new environment for aprox. 1.5 years. I have a 220 gal tank upstairs that circulates into a 90 gallon tank in the basement. (overflow type) I also filter with a powerhead. I have a total of 310 gallons of water. I usually fill with a Reverse Osmosis filter <Mmm... the fishes listed prefer/need the mineral content... in the raw source water> when I have time but because of recent circumstances, I haven't been using it for my water changes. It takes too long and I am now on a new well that is 550 feet deep. Very good water compared to my last well. That's why I have a Reverse Osmosis filter. My new well is a little high is Iron and magnesium <How high is high?> but It has no taste or yellow tint . It passes all water drinking standards and If I would say "almost as good as spring water." <I would just use this water, w/o the RO for your tanks> My PH is 8- 8.2 Ammonia is 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrate is 10. ( not so good). I haven't tested for phosphates recently as I can't locate the test. As for my water temperature I don't usually have a heater. I did purchase one today.. My water has been aprox. 68 F now for about 3 months. In the summer it can be as warm as 79. I am raising that slowly to about 72 degrees unless you say otherwise. During my research I read that when a fish is sick that raising the temperature can sicken the fish faster. <Mmm, can, depending on actual cause...> Helping the hemexia or bacteria grow faster. <Hexamita... aka Octomita necatrix?> I am not so sure how true that is. About once a week I change out about 5 gallons of water and refill. Maybe that was not enough .Just yesterday I emptied the lower 90 gallon tank and cleaned all the rocks etc. and refilled. I have been treating my fish for Hemixia and now with Melafix.. <The "Fix" is worthless> I wonder if my fish have Hemexia because I used to feed them live wild shiners. <Not a good idea> I kept them in the lower tank for about 6 months. I caught them in my fathers pond.. They appeared to be healthy and I didn't seem to have the issues that goldfish do.( Ich) My father has rainbow trout and he feeds them a high protein food. <This food may be of value to your cichlids> The shiners eat this for their nutrition so I thought maybe they would be a good food for my fish. The only reason my father has the shiners is because he thought the trout would like them. His trout won't eat them and there are so many it was ruining his water quality. His trout were starving for air etc.. He wanted to get rid of shiners and that is how I started using them for food. ( FYI after alot <No such word> of work removing fish and pond bleaching etc.. my father did get rid of all shiners in his pond and the trout are much happier fish now) <Ahh!> My Oscars had a diet of these shiners and pellet food for about 6 months . I haven't fed them any shiners in about 4 months now.. And I wont ever again now that I realize the harm I brought to my fish.. Not all my fish are sick. Mostly just my tiger Oscar.. He has hole in the head recently progressing very fast in the last 2 weeks. Holes are now through his gills. I treated with a jungle Metronidazole treatment for about 2-3 days 2 weeks ago with no major improvement. <Mmm, you did remove carbon/charcoal... the product was used as directed, at full strength...> I know that medication is not always the answer and that maintaining my tank is probably the most important for him to get better. Recently I have noticed holes in his fins and possibly loss of scales. <Not Hexamita here, but water quality...> When I vacuumed my gravel today I did see fish scales ..Oh no!! I also have small white worms 1/8 - 1/4 inches long in the gravel in my tank. <These are a third item... unrelated to the others> In researching they appear to be somewhat harmless. Protozoa I think they were <Uh, no... Can't see such w/o magnification> and they are apparently eating debris in the rocks.. Should I remove or kill these small worms? <I would not> Another thing I have noticed recently is that my fish used to have brown pellet like stool. Now I have noticed that it is clear and stringy. Somewhat like a small clear intestinal track. More than one Oscar appears to have this symptom. all have some signs of slight hole in the head. One is really sick with hole in the head and other symptoms that I described earlier. All are still eating at this point. I don't overfeed my fish. I wonder if maybe I underfeed them. I feed usually once every other day. Sometimes I find a bug or moth and they eat that as a treat. They do have a boring diet. They don't like homemade foods or Krill. They spit it out. I don't want to treat my fish for the wrong thing. I realize that this can be harmful to their health. Hopefully you will have some suggestions for me. Thank you so much for your time it is much appreciated.. Amy L I will wait for your reply. Ty <I'd return to regular water changes, use the source water straight, and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm and the linked files above. See WWM re "feeding feeders", water quality... Much for you to gain there. Bob Fenner>

I Forgot to tell you... More/less re Hexamita Hello Again, I just emailed a few min. ago. So you know... I have had Oscars for about 10 years. They never really got sick on me. Occasionally they did of course ,but they got better too. I have also been adding Aquarium salt to my tank. I had put salt in the tank a long time ago upon setting up. It wasn't necessarily a large amount. I have not been adding salt as I make my water changes. I never knew that it was important for their health. I am concerned to over salt my fish now. But I am adding the recommended dose, slowly so I don't shock them. Thanks Again for your time in this matter My fish will thank you. I am working on getting you a nice picture in focus. I will send it as soon as I can. Much Thanks Amy L <Please read where you were referred to... and learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Pictures of my Oscar possible Hemexia Hello Again, <Hi there Amy> Last time tonight. I should have sent this the first time I mailed you. Here are some Pictures of my sick fish. <Good ones too> I marked the picture with Yellow arrows. Hopefully you can see the blemishes, scales and the holes in fins.etc.... It really looks much worse in person. It is hard to take the pictures and sending them so small that's another challenge. I hope this helps in your diagnosis. Thanks So Much, AMY <Some of this is neuromast destruction/HLLE... Read where you were referred to. RMF>

update since yesterday... Reading Hello guys Amy L here "Sick Oscars"  2/15/08 Thanks again, for helping me with my problems. I think things will get better soon. My water temp. is now at 72 degrees. Should it be higher? <I would keep it in the upper 70's F.> ammonia still 0 and Nitrate still 10 before this water change. I also changed more water today. I hope I don't change too much and really mess up my balances. I refilled the 90 gal. tank In my basement. The water changes are pretty easy for me to do because I just turn the valve in the bottom of the tank to empty. So I really have no excuse for not changing more than 5 gal a week. Before I circulate the tanks I also emptied another 32 gallons from upstairs tank, by filtering out my rocks. They seem pretty clean on the most part. Some areas are a little dirty. I timed how fast my overflow puts the water back in my upstairs tank. It seems that it pumps about 30 gallons in 5 minutes. So 350-360 gallons per hour. Is that a big enough pump for my tank? 310 gal total tank with 4 fish? <Mmm, marginal... ten or even twenty times turnover would be better> I also run a maxi jet 1200 that filters with fiber fabric to mostly get floating debris. <Oh! This water movement counts as well> I have not added any medications today. As I am not sure what the best one to add is. I will wait to hear from you. After reading some articles, I'm leaning toward treating with Metronidazole again and maybe a fungal medication for fin rot. What are your thoughts. <For you to read. I would NOT continuously expose animals to this powerful antiprotozoal> I'm closely watching my Oscars soars and maybe they are healing. Some are darkening. I think that's good. Thanks again AMY <Darkening is a bad sign... Again... reading on WWM re Oscar Disease, Flagyl... http://wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

more information about my well water quality. Hi Bob, Amy here with the Oscars with "HLLE"  2/15/08 <Howdy> Thanks so much for your time. I will read where I was referred thanks. I'm starting to understand your sight better now. You asked how high my Iron is in my water. My water test shows that the Sodium is 61 Do I still have to add Aquarium salt? <... you still have to read> This isn't the same as city water. So here it is let me know what you think. All these say mg / l is that milligrams per liter? <Yes, equivalent to ppm> Iron 0.27 My Manganese is <0.03 Lead <0.005 Chloride <10 Hardness 24 Alkalinity 150 Conductivity 280 Nitrite Nitrogen <0.01 Nitrate Nitrogen <0.5 pH 8.28 Copper < 0.05 Fluoride <0.2 Okay thanks once again. Amy <Read... RMF>

Oscar, hlth.   2/8/08 Hello. I am beginning to feel concerned about my 6 inch tiger Oscar, Dave. He has been very healthy ever since my husband and I purchased him, that is until about a week ago. It is starting to look like he is missing sections of scales on his head, right above his eyes. Today when I went to feed him I inspected him again, and the top of his head has turned a dull grey, it is usually a nice dark green, brown like the rest of him. It is also starting to look like he may have hole in the head disease. He swims sideways some times, and his head looks terrible. My husband says that he just has a mottled coloration on his head, but it was not like that before. He eats fine, and the levels in his tank are good, he swims around just as actively as always. What should I do? I do not know what to do about it or if it even something to worry about. We cannot afford all kinds of medications for a fish right now, so please tell me what you think, and if it is hole in the head. Thank you so much! Once again, Lena. <Greetings. I can't begin to answer this without some key bits of information. Please tell me the following: [a] How big is the tank? [b] How much water do you change per week? (Be honest!) [c] What food does he get? Does he ever eat live fish? [d] What are the pH, hardness, nitrite, and nitrate? You see, Hole-in-the-Head is very much related to water quality. Cichlids that get Hole-in-the-Head very often live in tanks with a high level of nitrate. It's a lot easier to prevent HITH than it is to cure, though some drugs work (slowly). See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhllefaqs.htm Apart from suitable medications that kill the protozoan that causes the disease, there's no other cure, and it doesn't get better by itself. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Oscar, hlth.  2/9/08 Hello again, and thank you for your quick response. I looked up some pictures online of Oscars with hole it the head and they look exactly like my fish does. So he does have it. <Oh dear.> He is in a 50 gallon tank, eats peas, shrimp and krill, and I do a 20% water change every week. There is carbon ion the filter, so should I remove the carbon and buy some treatment for him? <Yes; always remove carbon before treating fish. Personally, I consider carbon a waste of money, but some people like to waste money, and who am I to stop them!> My local PetSmart has a product called "Jungle Labs Hole'n Head guard". Do you know anything about this product, or could you please suggest one? <Have absolutely no experience of this product. Do read here for suggestions on treatment: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhllefaqs.htm Since these antibiotics aren't (legally) available in the UK, I haven't used them so can't offer any great insights into their use.> I gave limited sources for aquarium life supplies so I don't know what I will be able to do, or if I will be able to do anything. Thank you again, Lena. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dave, my Oscar. HLLE remission recounting   -02/20/08 Sorry to bother you again, but I thought that I should update you on my Oscars progress. We started treating him for his Hole In The Head about two weeks ago and he looks a million times better. <Great!> I started a more frequent water change and gravel cleaning schedule and it really seems to help. The large holes on his head have shrunk considerably and many of the smaller ones have disappeared all together. I was wondering, for how long should I be treating him? Until all of the holes are gone? <Unless the medication explicitly says otherwise, yes.> Also, since he has begun healing, we have noticed peculiar horizontal lines going across the length of his body. He has two on one side and one on the other. They look almost like scratches, but there is nothing in his tank that he could have scratched himself on. It looks as though someone took a knife and ran it across his body, creating rifts in his scales. Is this normal? <No; possibly these are signs the lateral line is damaged. On cichlids, there are two lateral lines on each flank: one arches on the main part of the body from behind the head, and another is lower down the body running in a straight line between halfway along the body to the base of the tail. If that's what you're seeing here, it's "all of a piece" with Hole-in-the-Head, unfortunately. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm Alternatively, fish sometimes damage one another, so do check no-one has attacked the Oscar. A photo might help.> If it is not could you please help me to figure out what it is that he may have? Thank you so much, your site is so helpful! Lena. <Glad to help, Neale.>

Re: Dave, my Oscar. HLLE   -02/20/08 Thank you so much once again for your quick response. According to your description of the lateral line, it sounds like that is the problem with my Oscar. How can I cure him? I am already treating him with medication for Hole In The Head, will that cure the damaged lateral line as well? <In theory, yes. The two diseases are probably caused by the same pathogen and/or environmental issues. But it *does* take a long time to get better.> I read that bad water quality and diet cause this, but I do at least a 20% water change once a week, now that he is sick probably more like 50%. <For big cichlids, 50% water changes are recommended. Nitrate may be the trigger; cichlids are sensitive to nitrate, and when the concentration goes up, the chances of HITH or HLLE increase. Anyway, big water changes help here, especially if your water has pretty high levels of nitrate to start with. Here in England, many cities will get water with 50 mg/l nitrate right out the tap, so you have to do BIG, REGULAR water changes to keep cichlids healthy.> All he will eat is peas, krill and shrimp. <Nothing really wrong there, but I'd add some squid, mussel and/or white fish to the mix. Squid is very cheap, most cichlids love it, and it is very protein-rich.> He still eats fine, and swims around, we have now added a bubbler to aerate the water better and upped the temp up to 86. The holes in his head, like I said, seem to be healing, but will he pull through all of this sickness <It sounds as if you're doing all the right things. With luck, he'll pull through. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dave, my Oscar. HLLE, reading...   3/6/08 Hello again, I know that I have written to you numerous times now, but I really don't know what to do. My tiger Oscar has HITH and does not seem to be improving. We are still treating him, and his water is fine, and for a long time he looked like he was getting better, the holes were shrinking and he ate and swam normally. We are still treating him, <... need data... treating him with what? Not Metronidazole/Flagyl... ongoing... I hope... is toxic> his water is fine and I do frequent water changes, but he is no longer eating, he hides almost all of the time and the holes are staying the same size now, it has also attacked his lateral line. Please give me some advice. Thank you, Lena. <... if the above-mentioned antiprotozoal is used too much/long it will destroy nephro/kidney tissue... Please, read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm and http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm and http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Treating An Oscar with Hole-In-The-Head -- 1/04/08 I have an Oscar that has hole in the Head Disease. I have treated him on two different occasions over a three month period with Fish-Zole. The places on his head just don't seem to want to heal. He is in a 75 gallon aquarium with a canister filter which gets cleaned once a week. He gets a 25% water change once a week. His water quality is in the good range on everything. He gets a variety of foods (no feeder gold fish). He gets pellets, sticks, krill and a mixture of beef hearts, garlic, spinach, vitamins and other ingredients twice a week. He also gets Vita-Chem added to his pellets 5 times a week. He has a very good appetite and seems to be growing. Should I treat him with the Fish-Zole again or is there something else That I can use to heal the places on his head. I don't want to loose him. Your help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Nancy < This disease takes its own sweet time to heal. If the lesions are not getting any bigger then you fish is probably cured. The wounds left behind are typically very slow to heal. They first turn black and then slowly start to close up. Check the nitrates. Try and keep them under 20 ppm. Your treatment methods are very sound and hopefully caught in time.-Chuck>

Treat Oscar With Hole-In-The-Head Part II  1/5/08 I checked the nitrates they are 10 ppm. Some of the places seem to be turning black but he has a few places that seem to be getting deeper. The largest one is about 1/8 across and the others are smaller. They are white in color. I have enclosed a couple of pictures. Maybe you can get a better idea of my problem. Thanks again. Nancy < This infection is pretty severe. Never seen it this wide spread before. Look for a medicated food with Metronidazole in it. Add it to your fishes regular diet. Keep the water clean and the diet nutritious like you have been. Drs FosterSmith.com sell a medicated food called Anti- Parasite. It has Metronidazole in it. Add this to the diet. Keep tract of the disease by taking pictures of your fish once a week. Date them and compare them over time to see if he is getting better.-Chuck>

Oscar With Hole-In-The-Head Gets Treatment  1/7/08 Thank you for your quick response. If you look at the picture that I have attached. The places midway up toward his dorsal fin and midway down his side are not the holes that I am talking about. He did those places on the gravel in the bottom of his tank. The holes are located beneath his gills and to the right of his eye which seem to be healing and the small ones on top of his nose. I have started him on the medicated food and also added some MelaFix to his water. Will see how this does. He really doesn't know what to do with those little pellets of food but I am sure he will find out. Thanks again for your help. Nancy <Don't feed him for a few days and he will be hungry enough to eat the new medicated food. It looks like you are doing everything you can possibly do.-Chuck>


Deformed Oscar 12/27/07 Hi I guess this is a genetic problem but would like to check. Bought two albinos Oscars about 6 years ago both began developing deformed mouths one died suddenly and it is still getting worse with the other. One eye is now pushed out and the gills and the mouth are twisted in on the other side. This appears to be worsening as he grows. We water change pretty regular the tank and filter are adequate. The degree of deformity gets worse over a slow period as if it is a growth defect not a disease the rest of him looks very good. Any ideas if it could be something else? Regards David <Hello David. It's very difficult to answer this categorically. Albino Oscars -- and indeed albino versions of any other species -- are less hardy than the wild-type of that fish. The inbreeding required to make the variety true breeding does this if nothing else. But that said, at least some of the sorts of things you describe can also have non-genetic triggers. Deformed mouths often follow fighting, which happens when two territorial cichlids are kept together. The jaws become dislocated. Sudden deaths are much more typical of poor water quality or poisoning than genetics. So do review the basic needs of this species: big (55 gallon+) tanks, at least 50% water changes per week, less than 20 mg/l nitrate, and so on. Many Oscar keepers make the mistake of feeding them live fish -- particularly goldfish -- and this is a very effective way to make Oscars sick. Oscars are omnivores and benefit from a varied diet to get all the fibre, vitamins and minerals they need. Do read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscars.htm And the linked articles. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Deformed Oscar 12/27/07
Thanks for the reply. <You're welcome.> They didn't fight and the other died two or three years ago. <OK.> Water quality may be a problem I will try and get my parents to change this more regularly. My dad is pretty disciplined so will probably set aside some space for regular water changes. <Hmm... not always the best plan to depend on someone else, however careful they may be. Best to keep animals you can care for adequately by yourself.> Bizarrely the plants I have they don't eat and its a 100G+ so aquarium looks great but makes it difficult cleaning. <100 gallons should house two non-breeding Oscars fine, especially if you don't have two males. Oscars generally don't eat live plants, but they often enjoy tinned peas, algae wafers, and so on. In the wild Oscars feed primarily on invertebrates as well as smaller fish. Things with shells, such as crayfish and insects, are particularly important parts of their diet. Oscars have specially strengthened jaws to deal with their shells.> They are fed specific pellets and the odd bit of scrap. <Do try and vary this a bit. A varied diet is as important to a fish as it is to a human. All sorts of raw seafood work well, as well (clean, unsprayed) things from the garden like earthworms, woodlice, houseflies and so on.> Will see if the water quality can clear it up a bit. <Always monitor water quality. Oscars are very sensitive to nitrate, something we tend to overlook in freshwater tanks. Hole-in-the-Head and the possibly related gut infection Hexamita are two diseases closely linked to nitrate and responsible for many untimely deaths among cichlids. Aim for a nitrate level no higher than 20 mg/l. Control the amount of food going into the tank (a meal per two days should be fine for adults) and then the frequency of water changes (50% weekly recommended).> Thanks David <Cheers, Neale>

Help, Oscar... hlth....   12/16/07 Hi: I've got a problem that's driving me crazy. I'll try to make this as short as possible. To start off, I've been a hobbyist of many different kinds of aquariums for over forty years. I had African cichlids for a number of years. Towards the end they were beating each other up, started looking a little ragged and I really wanted a change. I found them a home and decided to go with Oscars. I've never had an Oscar tank. <Oscars are nice fish, but in my opinion best kept one-to-a-tank. Singletons are peaceful and easily housed alongside catfish, large loaches, stingrays, etc.> I cleaned out my 135 gal tank well and put in about six juvenile Oscars. They did well for a couple of months then started looking ratty and finally died. I thought it was just over aggression. I tried again and the same thing started to happen. I took the fish out, had a friend hold them for a few weeks,; they got better,; I medicated the hell out of the tank with tetracycline and rid Ich +. It happened again. <Your mistake here was to randomly treat without identifying the problem. Imagine if your doctor did this, and prescribed the first medication he could think of without first checking your symptoms. Without fail, the first thing you do when fish get sick is check the water. Ammonia, nitrite, excessive nitrate, rapid pH changes, and rapid temperature changes can all cause major health problems.> I took the fish out and dropped a bleach bomb in the tank, emptied it, cleaned, refilled, cycled; put the fish back etc etc. Now I have a pair of Oscars and their tails are thinning and getting lace like holes. The perimeter of the tails are fine. Their behavior is normal. I've tried some dietary additions, more green stuff etc. I don't know what to do. I can't believe anything survived the bleach bomb. I don't know if I should add antibiotics again. If so, what? Nobody I've talked to has ever heard of anything like this. Oscars are supposed to be easy. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks JB <My gut feeling is you have ammonia/nitrite levels above zero, and what you're seeing is Finrot. One other problem with Oscars is a lot of foolish fishkeepers, including retailers, give them live fish to eat, such as minnows and Goldfish. This exposes them to various often untreatable bacterial and viral infections, and Goldfish especially cause chronic health problems through excess levels of fat and Thiaminase. So do also check your fish are not fed live feeder fish. So: let's get some water chemistry and quality tests done STAT, at the very least nitrite and pH. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar hlth. Help  12/16/07
I know this is weird. Chemistry is fine. I just ran ammonia nitrate again with nothing there. I have never used feeder fish. I know it's unhealthy and repugnant. I have fed pellets and now some shredded African cichlid frozen shredded green. It's absolutely bizarre. After everything it's been through I can't imagine it's bacterial yet can't think of anything else JB <Greetings. As you say, weird. Finrot is generally uncommon where the ammonia and nitrite levels are zero. Nitrate levels substantially and consistently above 20 mg/l can be a problem with cichlids, but the resulting infections are typically things like Hole-in-the-Head. I'm glad you haven't used feeder fish. With Oscars they are an unnecessary risk; as you've observed, Oscars will eat almost anything you offer them, including certain green foods. Since you're giving them a balanced diet with greens included, a vitamin deficiency seems unlikely. I think a photograph might be helpful. Finrot is very typically erosion of the fins from the distal side (i.e., the edge of the fin away from the body) towards the attachment site. You will also see the membrane dissolving away faster than the fin rays. Finrot doesn't tend to look like holes in the fins. If the fins look like someone punctured the fins with a hole punch, that's more typically the result of mechanical damage, commonly fin-nipping fish like Puffers, certain Characins, etc. Fighting between fish can sometimes cause this type of damage as well. In any case, I'd treat with a reputable anti-Finrot/Fungus medication, if only on a preventative basis, to stop the wounds becoming infected. One last thing: are these "veil-tail" Oscars? There is a strain of Oscar with longer fins than normal, and to my eyes at least their fins always look a bit ragged unless kept singly. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar sick?. foaming water, Oscar with Hole-In-The-Head I have a 5 year old albino Oscar and he is really sick I'm thinking that has hole in the head. Recently he developed a sore on his head and around his eye looking painful. I've been treating him with Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Mela Fix for a month at least every time I would put a minimum amount the sore would bleed and he would go crazy swimming from one end to an other hitting the glass so I stopped that medication and started giving him some antibacterial medication the name escapes me right now. I'm doing a frequent water change since I feed him blood worms the water turns into a reddish color after every feeding. I do remove the carbon filter when treating him I leave it out at least 8hours while I'm at work once I get home I put I back in until the next treatment. A few days ago I did a gravel cleaning and now my water is foaming on the top with white/brown bubbles I changed all the filter replacing with new ones. I lost I have no idea what to do please help me if I don't act now I think he is going to die since he is not himself just staying in one spot all the time close to the heater. Should I change my complete filter system?.. I have an internal Hagen bio life filter it's a 20gal tank he is about 10" should I get a bigger tank? So many questions. Thank you so very much, hope to hear from you soon. Angèle < First of all stop feeding you Oscar. The biological filtration has probably been affected by the medications and you are having big spikes in the ammonia levels. The ammonia is deadly to fish and stresses them to the point that they come down with other diseases. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone every other day for three treatments. On the days you do not treat, do a 50% water change. On the seventh day use good activated carbon and remove the medication from the water for 24 hrs. The use Bio-Spira to get the biological filtration back on tract. Feed you Oscar once each day a quality food with lots of vegetable matter in it. Make sure it is all gone in a couple of minutes. Remove any uneaten food with a siphon. It will take some time for all the holes to heal over. Keep the nitrates under 25 ppm with water changes and feed a varied nutritional diet.-Chuck>

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