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FAQs on Pictus Catfish

Related Articles: Pimelodid Catfishes

Related FAQs: Pimelodid Catfishes 1, Pimelodid Cats 2, & FAQs on: Pimelodid Identification, Pimelodid Behavior, Pimelodid Compatibility, Pimelodid Selection, Pimelodid Systems, Pimelodid Feeding, Pimelodid Disease, Pimelodid Reproduction, & Red Tail Cats (Phractocephalus), Shovelnose Catfishes (Pseudoplatystoma, Sorubim, Sorubimichthys...), & Catfish FAQs:  Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Pictus, Kuhli loaches <in>compatibility.      10/14/15
Hello, thanks for answering my earlier message.
I have started gathering what few knowledge there is about the fish told you about. ill get to you on that again in a few weeks, when i have done some planning.
<Okay.... likely Neale Monks.... you don't include prev. corr.>
This time its a very straightforward question:
Can i have pictus catfish and Kuhli loaches together?
<No; not compatible.... really the Pimelodelids will "over-run" the loaches.... eating all food; traumatizing them. Should be kept in separate systems>
do you have any experience with the combination or have you heard about it working?
<You can see/read our bibliographies on WWM. Have a bunch of experience w/ these species>
The lfs has brought in some pictus and i would like to get a pair,
<Better in larger groupings>
i have read they reach about 11 cm, and my Kuhlis right now range from 6 cm to about 12 (15 or so of them....lost count really... i have myersi, oblonga and the spotted type). They are around the same size but I'm asking because when i got my spotted Raphael,
<Not compatible either>
at about 6 cm, it killed 3 of my Kuhlis in one night, this happened in the 40 gal planted tank and I'm sure it was the Raphael as it was added 3 days prior and the Apistogrammas in there don't really pay attention to anything but each other. The Kuhlis looked like they had been scratched on their faces and had their tails bitten.
Can i expect the same result with the pictus?
<About; yes>
I wanted to add them to the planted tank first while they grew a bit, since they are about 6 cm, very small, and then i would add them to the catfish tank housing a 11 cm spotted Raphael, 15 cm stripped Raphael and the 8 cm or so bumblebee catfish. Will the pictus, at their current size, be ok to be added with the rest of the catfish then?
<Keep reading; better to consider a biotope for keeping these and all other aquatic life>
Thanks again, Rob.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pictus, Kuhli loaches compatibility.       10/15/15

Oh yes, sorry, i just checked the earlier response and it was you who answered Bob, in fact, it is you who has answered my many emails.
I asked information on breeding various fish on a new 125 gal planted tank i was planning.
Hmm, in a previous conversation i told you i have my current 40 gallon tank with the Kuhlis and Apistogrammas and also an 80 gallon for "catfishes",
<Heeeee! Some Siluriiforms are amongst the largest of fishes. See Siluris glanis>
sorry for not giving out these details again. This catfish tank is housing Raphaels, bumblebees, ghost catfish, boesemanni rainbows and an African butterfly fish, this is the tank the pictus is really intended to go, is it ok?
<Should go in here; with attention to make sure the other catfishes are getting food, that they have sufficient habitat (likely hollow faux logs, what have you>
It is a slightly black water tank sparsely planted with crypts, Aponogetons and Anubias and many caves.
<Ah, good>
At the time i thought the Raphael would not attack the Kuhlis as they were about the same size long and the Raphaels seemed peaceful... So far my Raphaels and bumblebees get along well but are they really aggressive to other bottom dwelling fish or is it just that he mistook the Kuhlis for worms or something?
<Doradids are often mistaken... being sedentary, inactive by day... they are not slow cleaner-uppers; but able competitors, meat seekers and eaters by night>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pictus, Kuhli loaches compatibility. Neale's addn.s        10/16/15

<<Will somewhat echo Bob's comments that Pimelodus pictus is, at best, an untrustworthy member of most community tanks. They can and will eat any bite-sized prey (including juvenile Kuhli Loaches) and their restless activity (especially at night) makes it difficult for slow-moving fish to compete for food. Much better companions for medium-sized tetras, barbs, and things like Anostomus that wouldn't be good choices for the average community tank. You could combine them with similar sized Botiine loaches (Botia almorhae for example) as well as Horseface Loaches, and they also do well with Clown Loaches. But I'd reserve Pangio spp. for life alongside the smallest, most gentle community species: Cardinal Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Cherry Barbs... that sort of thing. Would also caution you that most Pimelodidae prefer brisk currents and moderate temperatures (22-25 C) whereas Pangio species are mostly fish for slow-moving water environments and do well at middling to warm temperatures (24-28 C). Pimelodidae appreciate deep, open tanks and sandy substrates, while your Pangio prefer shallow tanks with dense tangles of bogwood roots and thickets of plants. Not much overlap between the two in terms of biotope, so would plan accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Pictus, Kuhli loaches compatibility. And now, used tank purchase consideration      10/17/15

Yes, thank you both for answering. So i discarded the pictus for the time being, i will probably get one of the Ancistrus varieties to expand my collection of catfishes. However, i brought home to the 40 gallon planted tank (Apistogrammas and Kuhlis), 5 Otocinclus, they look silvery-blue, probably vestitus? and also Sturisoma aureum and Farlowella vittata. I figured these small, delicate suckermouths would make good additions and be comfortable in the densely planted aquarium with plenty of algae to eat, i have added blanched cucumber and romaine lettuce but so far none of them have tried the vegetables. They don't look malnourished and in fact have seen them poop (they must be eating something hu?). Will keep adding vegetables on a regular basis as Ramshorn snails eventually get to them.
Now, on a different question, as i told you a few messages before i am planning on a new planted tank. I want something between 100 and 140 gallons. There is someone who is selling his 125 (145cmx60cmx60cm) with a base of 12 mm glass, but the rest of the panels are 6mm...
<Mmm; is this a commercially made aquarium? For Americans, this is quarter inch nominal.... NOT what I'd use... 3/8, like 8, 10mm would be much better; perhaps it's tempered plate>
it has 3 braces and it has reinforcements on the bottom, like braces too but on the bottom panel and also some kind of diagonal reinforcement on each corner, and has an extra piece of glass in and out of the corners, which makes it thicker at the corners.
<Custom, DIY, home-made>
I don't have a camera right now but i will attach a photo in my next message (i hope!). Anyway, he is selling the tank very cheap, he said he has used it for 8 months for his pair of Oscars without trouble, but said he would be upgrading his tank size, and no kidding, he really has a new 200 or so gallon. Anyway, what do you think of this?
<What little I've read; I'd give it a pass>
i feel it is risky, and that's being generous but I'm probably exaggerating, i am somewhat knowledgeable on mechanics of materials and ran a few simulations if i were to use this tank. All of the simulations (and hand calculations) said the tank would not break, with a safety factor of around 1.25-1.5 for tempered glass.
<Yes; agreed>
I wont be housing any tank busting species and while it may hold water, the extra stress done on the walls by rocks, wood, other aquascaping stuff etc could be different, and also i have no sure way to factor in these and the corner reinforcements in my calculations so I'm very unsure.
<It's more the periodic shifting... earthquakes and jars; that concern me>
The tank sounds like a deal but i really DONT want to deal with cracks, leaks or worse...sudden bursting of the tank... So i may just save money for a tank made with the right thickness (8mm simulations threw out 1.8-1.93 in safety factor... am i good here?), which may be 3x the price i would be paying for this one...
<I'd go commercial; new>
Anyway, thank you very much for your time, keep up the good work.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pictus catfish having trouble swimming   9/14/13
Greetings. Two weeks ago, I purchased four Pictus catfish for a 55-gallon aquarium. The aquarium is well-established and the water parameters are good: ammonia & nitrites = 0, nitrates = 30. Our pH = 7.5. GH = 6.
<All sounds okay. Do watch the temperature though -- like most Pimelodidae, Pictus Catfish should be kept towards the lower end of the range, 22-25 C/72-77 F. Warmer temperatures will stress these catfish and could make minor problems worse.>
They share the tank with a red-tailed black shark and a bristle-nosed Pleco.
<Do watch the RTBS closely; 55 gallons is the absolute minimum, and they can be holy terrors towards fish that don't respect their territorial boundaries. They're better with barbs and characins rather than bottom-dwelling fish such as loaches and cats.>
The catfish all seemed very healthy until this morning. When I turned on their light, one of the Pictus cats was lying on his back on the substrate.
His breathing appears normal and I don't see any swelling, injuries or marks on him. His stomach doesn't look concave either. He looks pretty normal, only his behaviour is not. So I decided to move him to the hospital tank in case he has something infectious.
He was able to make some effort at swimming away when I tried to catch him, but it was obvious that he was having trouble swimming upright and kept wanting to sink to the bottom. I just did a water change two days ago (7 gallons) and treated the water with API Stress Coat and let it set for about 1/2 hour before adding to the aquarium. They also get API Stress Zyme once a week and Weiss Garlic Boost a couple of times per week.
<Not a fan of routine additions of chemicals to aquaria. Better/best to stick with plain vanilla water changes and water conditioner.>
All the other fish seems fine. They haven't had any drastic water temp changes and I haven't changed anything else in the tank lately. I have a Penguin bio-wheel filter running and there is plenty of aeration since I know that catfish like that.
<Like all river-dwelling fish they're best kept in spacious tanks with vigorous water flow; aeration isn't in itself all that useful, though it may add extra water movement, especially by drawing water up from the bottom of the tank.>
Does this sound like it possibly could be swim-bladder disease?
<Not really any such thing. What aquarists often call "Swim Bladder Disease" is about as precise as saying someone has a runny nose or a sore throat. When fish have problems swimming, the causes can be many and varied: poor diet (esp. lack of fibre/greens); poisoning (e.g., use of copper-based medications); and reaction to sudden environmental changes (including pH and temperature). Bacterial infections can also cause swimming problems, especially serious ones that cause fluids to accumulate inside the body.>
Is there any way to treat that?
As the above should imply, there's no single treatment for a fish that loses swimming ability. Review the environment, diet, and other external factors for a start. If you suspect bacterial infection, then suitable treatment with a reliable antibiotic (a combination of Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 would be a good approach).>
If not, do you have any other ideas about what this might be?
<See above.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Blood Parrots, Senegal Bichirs, and Pictus Catfish; Compatibility; Frozen foods 4/16/12
Good day!
First off, I’d like to say thank you to all the volunteers who take time out of their days to help people with their fish; it’s greatly appreciated.
<Ah good>
I have a few questions (well five) that I hope you could answer, or direct me to the link for the information? (I did search your site for a few hours, so I apologize if my questions or similar questions have been asked before. ) But first, a little back ground information.
I have an approximately 3” Senegal Bichir
<Wow, small>
that after a month of QT currently resides in my driftwood, sand, Anubias planted 29 gallon with a single male Betta and 8 black Kuhli loaches. (I am aware that when he gets bigger, he’ll eat my loaches, but for the time being,
<And Betta>
they are much bigger than he is, and he’ll only be in there 1-2 months tops) The water is about 80F and the pH is approximately 7.4. I do about 30% water changes every 5 days or so.
Tomorrow I am picking up a 75 gallon aquarium. I am planning on having a 1” sand substrate, with MTS to help keep it aerated, lots of large rocks and probably some driftwood, along with Anubias sp. attached to the driftwood/rocks, maybe some crypts as well. After it is completely cycled (I plan to use filter media from my 29
gallon to help speed it along) I plan on moving Nim (my Senegal Bichir) to it.
My first question, my friend currently has my peaceful 5” Blood Parrot (I had to sell my 55 awhile back, she kept my BP so I could eventually get her back, my Blood Parrot was with cherry barbs, blue tetras, gold and moonlight Gouramis, and an angelfish before, with no problems), would a Blood Parrot be an okay tank mate for a Senegal Bichir in a 75 gallon?
<Should be>
Are there any temperature/major pH/compatibility issues?
<Mmm, no>
(I bought the Senegal when I was told by a few people they’d be good together, but now I am hearing different from other people, so I would like your expert advice)
My second question, (if one Blood Parrot is compatible with a Senegal), do Blood Parrots do best kept when kept singly, or should I get another Blood Parrot?
<Best in groups>
I just don’t want my Blood Parrot to be lonely, she is quite shy and when I move her to the 75 gallon, her marbled angelfish buddy will be staying behind.
My third, for my stock, I was planning on 1 Senegal Bichir,
1 or 2 Blood Parrot(s).
Then these are the fish species I am interested/plus the number I planned on getting (not ALL the species though of course), could you please give me your opinion as to the compatibility with Senegals and blood parrots? (I am so sorry if this has been asked before, please just direct me to the link if that’s the case, I don’t want to waste your time)
<Again, most likely fine together>
~ FOR SURE 4-5 Peruvian/Columbian Pictus Catfish (the Pictus catfish I am interested in getting are sold at about 4” long, and MUCH bigger then my tiny Senegal, I know they are riverine, south American catfish, while Bichirs are more from slow bog-like areas, and Blood Parrots, well I don't know what would be their "natural" habitat, but I figure in a 75 gallon, it could possibly work?)
<Possibly... though it will be very hard to get food to the Bichir... the Pictus will eat it all>
~ Pair of Opaline Gouramis (the one’s I want are sold at
about 3-3.5”)
~1 or 2 Leopard Ctenopoma (Ctenopoma acutirostre, the one’s
I like are sold at about 2”, are they better off alone or in a pair?)
~1 Striped Raphael Catfish (sold at about 2")
<And hard to feed, even find this in a 75 w/ decor>
~1 African Feather fin catfish (Syno eur., sold a about 3-4")
<Most likely will blend in though hide during the day>
Any other fish that you recommend that would go well with Blood Parrot(s), a Senegal Bichir, and a school of Pictus catfish? (if they are compatible of course)
<I suggest adding the new stock over months time...>
My fourth question, I have issues feeding other LIVING insects/ fish/creatures (i.e. meal worms, earth worms, crickets, shrimp, etc) to my fish, and I am a vegan, so I don’t buy/refuse to buy beef heart, tilapia, etc.
<I encourage you to seek out, use a good pellet based staple... Spectrum, Hikari are my favorite brands>
I feed my Kuhli loaches San Francisco Bay frozen brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and blood worms right now (along with shrimp pellets/algae wafers), would that be a good diet for Bichirs and the above fish (I’d throw in some fresh veggies for the more herbivorous fish)? Would adding “freshwater frenzy-containing Brine Shrimp, Bloodworms, Cyclops, Daphnia, Watercress and more” be a good idea as well?
<All except the Bloodworms... see WWM re... and they may not take much to the Watercress>
Thank you very much for all your time! Danielle
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pictus catfish addition to tank, comp. mostly    7/12/11
First of all thank you for the great website. My question centers around Pictus Catfish and if they would be a good addition to my South American themed tank. My current set up is a 120 gallon with a Fluval FX5 canister filter that is stocked with 4 Eartheater cichlids, 6 Silver Dollars, 5 Severum Cichlids and one Rhino Pleco. I would like to add 5 Pictus Catfish but reading thru the FAQ I saw there might be an issue with Pictus whiskers and Cichlids. Would this also be the case with my collection of cichlids?
<Mmm, the Severums might prove problematical, but I give you good odds (I would go ahead if this were my system, stock) given the size, shape of your tank. I think the Pimelodelids will make a superb addition here, adding motion and splashes of silvery colour>
Both Eartheaters and Severums seem pretty laid back compared other cichlids I have kept in the past. If Pictus are not an good addition are there any other fish that would fit in or should I just stick with the fish I have now? Once again that you for your time.
<There are MANY possible choices of S. Am., Amazonian Siluriiforms that would go here... take a stroll through the excellent Planet Catfish site...
Bob Fenner>

Pimelodus pictus with enlarged belly 3/31/2011
Good day!
We recently cycled an empty (livestock/plant free) 55gal FW tank. We purchased 3 pictus cats and 3 minor Serpae tetras. The pictus were supposed to be the only ones going in the 55gal and the tetras were going in a ten gal. that had already been established. We decided at the last minute to put the tetras in the 55gal too. One of the tetras was pretty small and disappeared. I believe he died and was subsequently eaten.
<Or was killed and eaten'¦ Serpae Tetras are fairly nasty fish, notorious fin-nippers among other "endearing" features, and they will kill one another if kept in insufficient numbers. Equally likely, small tetras are part of the diet of Pimelodus pictus, and there's no reason at all not to expect your P. pictus to eat any small fish they can overpower. Even if they are too small to do so now, they will do so eventually.>
The pictus are not even 3" yet though pretty close so I don't think they killed it. Water parameters were zero with nitrates slightly elevated but I tested a few days ago and need to test again. Temp is around 79F.
<A trifle warm for both species; 24 C/75 F would be optimal. Very few of the Pimelodidae catfish appreciates warm water. They mostly like coolish temperatures, 22-24 C/72-75 F, as you'd expect for catfish that live either in streams or in deep river channels.>
The water is a bit high on the hard and alkaline side but I have read that most fish adapt fairly well to that.
<Indeed they do.>
I don't know if pictus are one of those fish though. (Sorry I don't have exact numbers with me but I can get them if needed.) I can mix rainwater if that is not adequate.
<Shouldn't worry for now. P. pictus should do fine even in water as hard as 15 degrees dH, pH 7.5. Anything above that won't be ideal, but shouldn't cause health problems.>
Ok the problem is all 3 pictus have enlarged bellies and I don't know what I should be looking for as far as if it is overeating, air bladder, or dropsy.
<With Pimelodidae, overfeeding can be a major problem, and they're all prone to both bloating and regurgitating uneaten food. Offer meals no more often than once every OTHER day, and even then, feed moderately. Favour high-fibre content foods, such as krill, and leave solid chunks of meat, like tilapia fillet, to occasional treats. Catfish pellets are fine, but use in moderation, because they're super-concentrated. Avoid freeze-dried foods if at all possible because these do tend to cause constipation. Once a week is fine, but that's it. Otherwise use wet-frozen or fresh foods.>
We have had them for a week and symptoms started the day after we got them. Two of them have slightly enlarged bellies and are active though mostly at night for obvious reasons. The third is not very active at all and has a very large belly. I fed them when I got them (perhaps a bit too much). All are eating well though the one that is pretty inactive seems to only eat if the food is near him. When I saw their bellies I didn't feed them for a full day, then fed them lightly after that. They get a few shrimp pellets, or half a cube of frozen food (variety packs), or two algae wafers all rotated plus whatever flakes the tetras don't eat which isn't much. I feed the fish twice a day, when lights come on and when lights go out.
<Way too much food for all concerned!>
I have read some stuff but can't find anything concrete. Some people automatically say its dropsy and say put down everything, some say it could be the air bladder.
<Dropsy is very specific: the scales rise, but since catfish lack scales, that isn't apparent. But usually fish with Dropsy stop eating because their organs have failed. If the fish is eating, Dropsy isn't likely, and a whole bunch of fish having Dropsy at once seems unlikely. As for "swim bladder disease" that's a largely made-up thing beginners and ill-informed retailers talk about.>
Are there other symptoms I should be looking for other than a fat fish? Other than the one that is fairly inactive they seem fine and the tetras haven't had any problems except the tiny one who died.
<Feed the tetras equally sparingly. A meal about the size of their eye is adequate, once or perhaps twice per day. Nope, that isn't much!>
I greatly appreciate your assistance and also wanted to say that you guys are an excellent resource for aquarists of all experience levels.
Thank You.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pimelodus pictus with enlarged belly 3/31/2011
Neale, once again you guys have proved to be invaluable and I thank you very much.
<Glad to help.>
I will go and drop the temperature a few degrees.
<Sounds like a plan.>
Honestly I never thought smaller fish could go without food that long.
<Oh boy, yes! Your little friends, even Neons, can easily go 2-3 weeks without food -- one of the great things about them when it comes to summer vacations. Letting them starve a little does them some good, replicating what happens in the wild, and has far fewer risks than having a neighbour feed them (and often overfeed them!).>
I guess they have a metabolism closer to reptiles than mammals which for some odd reason I often forget.
I just automatically assumed the active pictus would require a higher caloric intake but seems silly now that I think about it since they are not warm blooded critters.
<On the contrary, predatory fish are adapted to eat one or two big meals a week, and that's it. Some Amazonian catfish will have to go weeks, even months, without feeding during the dry season when small fish are scarce. During such times they'll basically sit and wait, switching their metabolism down a bit by not expending any energy.>
I will definitely cut back on their food then. I did read that they were omnivorous and did not realize they required more meaty foods so I will definitely add more meat in their diet.
As for the Serpae tetras, they are pretty but I am seeing that they are a bit aggressive toward one another.
<Yes, they have a true feeding frenzy, much like we hear for piranha fish.
In very big groups they may be fairly peaceful, but in my experience they often look tatty around the fins, and personally, I don't think they're particularly good fish. Very hardy and very pretty, so perhaps a good
choice for their own planted aquarium, maybe an Amano style one in a 20 gallon tank. A dozen Serpae tetras might be fun there. But that's about it.>
More will be added in the future but I don't want to overload that tank too quickly.
Thanks again!
<P. pictus is easily kept with tankmates. Ideal choices including Bleeding Heart Tetras, Rainbowfish, Swordtails, and medium-sized Barbs. Cheers, Neale.>

Mr. PICTUS HAS ? Like a game-show... Ich!    4/9/10
Hi Crew !
Mr. Pictus, here, has come down with something. This does not look like run - of - the - mill Ick, to me.
<But it is... in a very high density stage... You need to raise the water temperature very high, now... IF the other livestock can take it to the high 80s F>
This appears more like he was dipped and rolled in cream of wheat. It is raised and tan in color. And he is loaded
with it. This is the best pic I was able to get.
Most likely this has been stress induced. Last week I moved him to a different tank. Tank mates were 4 Checkered Barbs and a pair of Jewel Cichlids...The infamous Rhett and Scarlett. The Barbs were the first to go in...left for two days, then Mr. Pictus was put in and left for two days, then Rhett for two days, then Scarlett.
When Pictus was put in he never quite settled in. Instead of cruising he was zooming. I had him in there for a week and couldn't take it anymore so I put him back in the other tank. He zoomed for a day then went in his log and seemed ok but yesterday he looked exhausted. He just rested his head in a branch opening and had short but rapid breathing...not right for him. Last night I moved his log to have a look see and found him covered in this.
I moved him to the med tank. He had also broken his long whisker. The whisker looks like he snagged it on something because it is slightly bent at the point of the break. If he makes it will it grow back?
<If not rotted too far back, yes>
I heard these Pictus are sensitive to meds
<This is so>
so how should I proceed.
I was trying to re-create the original conditions of when Rhett and Scarlett were breeding.
BTY, New 55 gallon, Carib Sea Instant Aquarium substrate, Established Emperor 400 HOB filter. Param.s ammonia and nitrate - 0, nitrate - trace, PH - 8.
<Too high for a Pimelodid>
Thanks again ! You guys are the best !
Sooz Vaughan
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichsenslvstk.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mr. PICTUS HAS ? 4/9/2010
Hi Bob,
Mr. Pictus's whisker doesn't appear to have any rot but is just bent slightly at the point of the break.
<Evidence of decomposition... call it what you will>
I kicked up the heat in the med tank where he is by himself. Though I am still unclear as to do I use salt or not...just heat ?
<No salt on Pimelodids... read>
There is sooo much to read and Mr. Pictus is in such bad shape. He already went belly - up while I was waiting for your reply. I turned him right side up where he still is. This advanced stage came up very fast as he was clean when I first put him in the new tank and clean when I put him back in his old tank. ( I would not have put him in the main tank if he showed any signs of Ick !
<Do take extreme care NOT to move anything wet from this system to your other tanks... hands, arms included>
He just wouldn't settle in the new tank. Bam during the course of a day he looked like this ! I'm glad I checked on
him last night ! One of the Checkered Barbs is now showing little icks on his tail (in the new tank ). Everyone in the old tank seems to be doing business as usual. The Checkered Australian Rainbows even mated -again- this morning. ( and a feast of caviar was had by all ! LOL )
All of these fish had been together last fall ( Pictus , Checkered Barbs and the Jewel Cichlid pair ) until the Cichlids babies hatched on New Years Day. I took Mr. Pictus out a few days after the babies started coming out.
I pulled the carbon and put some QuICK Cure in the tank with the Jewels and Barbs. I am going to hang loose with the main tank but will watch it very closely.
Thanks a Bunch !
Sooz Vaughan
<Do keep us updated Sooz. Cheers, BobF>
Re Sick Pimelodid 4/9/2010
> Hello Bob,
<Hi Neale>
> I read your reply with interest. I was going to answer that one, and felt it looked like Costia. Guess I'd have been wrong.
<Actually... I/no one can/could be sure here... as usual w/o microscopic examination... The symptomology are similar for both... and some other Protozoan parasites of fishes... I really wish there was a simple method of our describing, illustrating the more common species, get more folks to purchase a cheap USB 'scope.>
> I am confused by your comment about not using salt with Pimelodids. How can you treat Ick with just heat?
<Have done so many times... perhaps analogous to folks staying in bed, elevation of their body temperatures effecting cures for infectious diseases>
I didn't think that worked. For what it's worth, quite a few Pimelodids enter brackish water in parts of their range, including Pimelodus blochii and Brachyplatystoma vaillantii, so I don't think the necessarily low salinity is likely to cause harm.
<Mmm, how to put this Neale... Between you and I, and knowing each of our backgrounds, I would choose to make "less general" statements on a daily basis; but I have found on the Net that it is very important to make "hard and fast" statements to keep hobbyists out of trouble. I would not expose Pimelodus/Pimelodella spp. to salts... particularly the likelihood that many would/do choose NaCl... I assure you, the high temp. suggested here, if applied in time, will effect a permanent cure>
Certainly no more so than with clown loaches or Mormyrids, where you'd use salt rather than copper.
> Cheers, Neale
<And you, BobF>

Re: Mr. PICTUS HAS ?  4/11/10
Hello Bob and Crew,
More observations on the broken whisker. It has been changing rapidly in the last 24 hours. I can clearly see the rot now and earlier this morning the other whisker began to rot as well.
Sorry to report Mr. Pictus has expired around noon today.
On a side note to Neale (and a much happier one ) My Banjo Cat was put in with the Guppies and a trio of Kuhli Loaches when last he and I wrote. The Banjo Is really cool. He eats from my finger now. Actually comes down
seeking the pellet. He has a good appetite and appears to be doing fine. He has a very small territory. Seems to be no more than a 6 " range from his shady plant. Of course I don't know what he does when the lights go out but he's close to his plant the rest of the time and not afraid to come out at chow time.
Thanks once again for your input.
Sooz Vaughan
<Will share w/ Neale Sooz. Cheers, BobF>

What does my pictus catfish have? & Costia/Protozoan FW dis f'  3/1/10
Hi Guys! I love your site...lots of good information. I have a well established 55 gallon freshwater community tank (1 giant Pleco, Danios, 3 Goramis, 1 upside down catfish, 2 clown loaches and 2 pictus catfish) Everybody seems very content, but I have noticed in just the past two days that one of my pictus is not doing too well. His typical shiny skin has become dull and his markings are not as vivid.
<Do check he isn't bullied, and that the aquarium conditions are optimal for the species. They can become a little duller with age, but should always look silvery and alert. Excessive slime production can dull their colours, and this is often a sign of stress, whether social or environmental. Diet needs to be sufficiently varied too, with particular importance placed on balance. Pimelodus pictus is a predator, but this doesn't mean live fish should be used. Feeder fish are a great way to introduce all sorts of bacterial and parasite problems. Thiaminase is another issue with predators, and if you've used too many prawns and mussels, and not enough foods that don't have thiaminase, you can create problems in the long term with vitamin B1 deficiency. It seems fairly apparent that this is a big problem with predatory fish.>
I have been looking carefully for any kind of fuzziness or "soft" look, thinking it may possibly be a fungal infection, but his skin appears to be smooth, just cloudy and dull looking.
<Difficult to say, though I'd be aware of Costia ("Slime Disease") as this tends to cause excessive mucous production. It's contagious and difficult to cure once established. But still, I'd nudge my thoughts towards stress, particularly if this fish is otherwise in good health.>
I am very hesitant to use any kind of medication in the tank for fear it will do more harm than good. Do you have any recommendations? As much as I would hate to do it, I would rather euthanize this fish than jeopardize the rest of my tank (many of these fish are 7+ years old). This tank has good aeration (bubbler, 60G filter, and a powerhead), temp runs @ 79 degrees, nitrate less than 10ppm, nitrite 0, hardness (GH) 75 ppm, alkalinity and pH chronically run a tad low..KH 60ppm and pH about 6.5.
Any advice you have would be great!
<The low pH and low hardness, does make me worry that instability with regard to water chemistry might be a factor. Your tank is also far too warm for this species. Like most Pimelodidae, Pimelodus pictus prefers fairly cool water, around 22-24 C/72-75 F, much like things like Neons and Corydoras. This is a general issue with South American fish, far too many people overheating them, and in the long term, this can cause problems. So, without a photo can't say anything specific, but hope there are a few things for you to think about. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: What does my pictus catfish have?  3/1/10
Thanks so much for your quick reply!
<Happy to help.>
This pictus seems to otherwise be healthy...eating well with no abnormal behavior.
I think you are right; this probably is due to the water pH and hardness being a bit low.
I am currently treating the tank to bring those up a bit and he is already looking a little better.
As far as the Costia, what are the preferred methods to try to treat it? I know that scaleless fish like the pictus and loaches are super sensitive, and if I ever had to treat for it I would like to know how to go about it.
<Either salt (a combination of dips and constant exposure in the aquarium) or some proprietary medication. The former is perhaps best with catfish.>
Also, in regard to food, what foods do you recommend to prevent the B1 deficiency?
<Do read here:
In general, if your catfish is mostly eating pellets and wet-frozen bloodworms, this isn't going to be an issue. But predatory fish that just eat seafood and fish need to be handled with a bit more care.>
I am so glad your website is out there...it is astounding how hard it is to get the right information for maintaining healthy tanks...even the companies that manufacture the goods don't seem to be sure about what is actually good for fish!
Thanks again
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Barb Tank, Tiger and Pictus cats  -- 12/14/09
Hey Guys, love the site. Anywho, onward with questions of my new tank. I'm on my second tank and it's been years since my first. I moved so I gave away my mollies away in my old tank years ago. So I grabbed a 20 gallon
Long and bought some small tiger barbs. Three to be exact.
<Bad number. Keep in groups of six or more.>
After the third day of my tank running the store said my PH was just a bit high but if I acclimated them for 30-40mins they should be fine.
<Define a "high" pH. For standard community tank fishkeeping, the optimal pH is 7.5. Filter bacteria are happiest between 7.5 and 8.2, and as the pH drops below that level, filtration rate slows down. Now, it's also crucial
to understand that pH doesn't matter to your fish. Tiger Barbs will do perfectly well in anything from 6.0 to 8.0. What matters rather more is hardness. For general, casual fishkeeping you want moderate general hardness (so both soft and hard water fish can be kept) but the carbonate hardness (sometimes called alkalinity) should not be too low. Very low carbonate hardness creates unstable water chemistry conditions. Do read here:
So I bought Four 1" barbs and introduced them. One of the barbs became ill suddenly, skinny, would not eat, and had what appeared to be mouth fungus, barely swimming.
<Do review water quality. In particular, Barbs are sensitive to nitrite and ammonia levels that aren't zero.>
The other guys were fine, seemed happy, hungry, and chased each other around a lot :-). Long story short, I had not yet got a hospital tank. He's gone. Monitored the water for the next eight days everything seemed find.
No Ammonia spike, no illness, and I planted a Wendtii on my fifth day. On the eighth day I picked up two more tiger barbs and a pictus catfish figuring this should do it for the fish in my tank even though the sales clerk said I could get more later.
<"Pectis" catfish? Never heard of that. Do you mean a Pictus Catfish, Pimelodus pictus? This is a SCHOOLING and PREDATORY South American catfish. Tolerant in terms of water chemistry, but doesn't like very warm
water. Indeed, like virtually all of the Pimelodidae, it's best kept between 22-24 C (72-75 F) and certainly no higher than 25 C (77 F). Since it reaches a length of 15 cm/6 inches, it obviously can't be kept in a 20 gallon tank for long. A group of three or more will need a tank at least twice that size.>
From my research 5 barbs and a pectis should max out a 20L tank.
<In your dreams! Pimelodus pictus is a highly active, riverine, schooling species that needs masses of space. Look at how streamlined it is! Look at that huge tail fin! That's a fish made for swimming. It wants a strong water current (turnover at least six times the volume of the tank, and ideally eight or ten times). Lots of oxygen!>
Anyway, not five hrs. after introduction one of my fish had a rather rapid development of cotton on his mouth AGAIN. Quarantined the fish. Water reads as follows on the 10th day. N03, maybe a tad above 0 but practically white on my tests strip. N02, none. Hardness is too high at around 150 ppm.
Alkalinity too low at about 100 ppm. PH perfect at 7.2.
<The way you're talking about "too high" or "too low" suggests you don't
actually understand anything about these parameters. Read the article mentioned above, and also this one:
Don't think about what conditions a fish would experience in the wild, but instead think about what conditions would be most stable in an aquarium.>
I'm using Mardel test strips if that helps. No apparent illness in any more fish as of yet. But my barbs do seem to congregate around the heater staring at the element doing bows to it when the lights out and my pectis is out of hiding quite often when lights are on, I believe I read they like to hide.
<They are SCHOOLING fish, and singletons spend their (brief) lives in terror until for one reason or another just die.>
Water has been kept at a balmy 80 degrees and I also added two tablespoons of salt before introducing first barbs.
<Again, why do you think either of these things help? The tank is MUCH too warm for either species. As temperature goes up, oxygen concentration goes down. This is a bad thing. As for salt, do either of these species come from brackish water? No. So why add salt? Why would it help?>
Fish store said Pectis would do fine at this temp.
My friend who's owned fish for a while suspects the store does not quarantine new barbs and that's where the infections are coming from and that maybe I caught the new fish infections quick enough.
<Possible, though difficult to rule in or out.>
What are my next steps?
<Read, read, and then read some more. Lots of beginner's mistakes here.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Barb Tank -- 12/15/09

Thanks for the tips!
I've learned to do much more research and perhaps switch stores due to their recommendation of 78-82 for barbs, 78-80 for pictus, I lowered temp to 77.
<A good temperature for most tropical fish.>
I've researched a lot of your site and will do things much differently if I have to start a new tank up.
I got the pictus some sinking carnivore tablets but I do not see him eating.
<They're somewhat nocturnal. They prefer small chunks of wet-frozen or fresh seafood. A little white fish, a little chopped mussel and prawn, the odd earthworm, a cube of frozen bloodworms or krill... all these will work well. As with all predatory fish, the key is variety. Catfish pellets will be taken, and make good vitamin boosters, but I'd tend not to rely on them unless you really had no choice.>
The barbs picked off the two that I dropped. Hopefully I can find a new home for the pictus. Behavior wise he seems better. He was very active against the wall like he was swimming to get out the first 24 hrs.
<Yes, in keeping with species.>
Now he's staying at the bottom but still active and sometimes hiding under the Wendtii, never uses my cave though.
<Not a cave-dwelling species. In groups these fish are super-active, almost like wolves, constantly pacing the aquarium.>
I bought a new 6500k bulb a week ago, and the one things that's great is my Wendtii looks healthier than any in the stores tank and sprouted a lot of new growth.
<An excellent plant species, C. wendtii. There are some very hardy and attractive varieties to choose from.>
My ammonia levels crept up from 0 to .25 mg/L after ten days of fish.
Hmmm.. they said to wait two weeks for water change.
<Nonsense, do water changes! You don't need non-zero ammonia levels for the filter to mature. Any ammonia you detect is ammonia the bacteria aren't using. It's surplus. Since the fish add more ammonia all the time, you're free to dilute the surplus ammonia through water changes as often as you want.>
Should I change 10% or 20% today (10 days) or wait the full 14?
<Would do a 10-20% change every day or two until you keep having zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. Cheers, Neale.>

Pictus with health problems - 10/06/2009
I really would appreciate some help with my one remaining Pictus Catfish.
<Sure, fire away!>
I had 4, but 3 of them have died, with very generic symptoms.
<In which case, reviewing the environment is often a good first step.>
I have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5 nitrate.
<Seems fine.>
The pH is high, not sure what, but I have been working on bringing it down gradually with the regular water changes, using an increasing percentage of RO water.
<Do remember here that these catfish are fine between pH 6 and 8. There's no advantage to altering water unless you have to, and changes in water chemistry can be stressful for your fish.>
Anyway, I originally bought 3 pictus. These fish did fine for about 3 weeks, I believe. At that time, I bought a 4th pictus and kept him quarantined. He had a net caught on his fin from a local store.
<Common problem. In itself, not a disaster.>
The other three fish were in their regular tank. One evening, they stopped eating and they were breathing heavy. This was the first clue anything was wrong.
<Indeed. Check the pH hasn't changed suddenly, that the water isn't too warm, and that the filter is working properly. If there are tankmates, check there's nothing overly aggressive or nippy. Finally, think about potential poisons: copper and formalin in particular are particularly toxic to catfish, but widely included in medications for Whitespot/ick and things like Finrot and fungus. Other poisons include paint fumes and bug spray.>
The next morning, I noticed that their coloring was off. Almost like the dark spots had faded. At this point, they were very clearly sick.
<When this happens, do a 50% water changes. If the fish perk up, it's a good sign environment was the thing.>
But with virtually no symptoms to go on, I had no idea what to do. I went to the one store that caries actual antibiotics and bought Furan 2, because it seemed like the most likely option at the time. After a little more research, the closest thing I could come up with was gill flukes. I bought the API General Cure, with metronidazole and some Praziquantel in it. I wasn't sure what else to do because the symptoms were so vague.
<Hmm... do be careful with these. Besides copper and formalin, there's no certainty medications won't work badly in combination.>
After adding the second medicine, the fish seemed almost immediately better, they even resumed eating. The following morning, the 4th pictus had Ich.
<Treat with salt/heat.>
I was very concerned about over-medicating in his small tank, so I medicated the large tank for Ich, and added the 4th pictus. I followed the directions for the medicines. All fish appeared to be doing better. Then I finished the dosage. At that time I increased the aquarium salt (I found out I didn't have enough in there to treat Ich) to 2.5 tsp per gallon, per Neale's instructions to others, as the 4th pictus still had some Ich spots on him, and the other fish each had about 5-7 Ich spots as well. (How they got Ich with medication in the water is beyond me).
<Usually comes with new fish.>
At this time, all 4 fish stopped eating again. I tested the water. No ammonia, and no nitrite. I did a water change. The next day all four fish looked worse. Their barbels had gotten very weak, instead of almost straight out like they were. The pictus with Ich died that day. I did another water change, and did not add salt for the water that I removed, because I had no idea what else to do (the water is now about 1.75 tsp per gallon). The following day, the smallest pictus got very weak, and died. Then, the day after that, the largest pictus became very weak and died. The final pictus is still not eating.
<API Quick Cure contains formalin, and that could easily be killing your fish.>
(He may have taken a couple of bites the last 2 days, but I don't think he ate anything today). I have remedicated the tank, this time with Prazi-Pro, and another dose of the Furan-2.
<This battery of medications without any particular rationale behind them could be causing the problems. This point cannot be stressed too strongly.
When fish are sick, they shouldn't be subjected to medication after medication -- it almost never helps. It's much better to step back, do a water change, review water chemistry (specifically, water chemistry stability), and try and diagnose the problem. If all else fails, write to us!>
I didn't want to use the metronidazole again, because I read that it builds up in the fish, and eventually poisons them.
<Don't know about this. It should metabolise pretty quickly.>
And really, I don't know how much remedicating will help anyway, I just am at a complete loss as to what else to do. I'm beginning to think that there is no hope. So to sum it up, the only symptoms I have seen is a loss of appetite, loss of color, heavy breathing, lethargy and soon afterwards, death.
<All these things sound "environmental" to me, as outlined earlier.>
I'm sorry for my novel, I just want to help this fish. I don't know what else to do. Thank-you so much in advance for your help, and I really appreciate everything you guys do.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Pictus with health problems - 10/06/2009

Hi again-
The reason I am adding RO water is that our pH is somewhere above 8.4, which I understand is too high.
<Indeed. But be sure and mix the RO water with some hard water. At a guess, a 50/50 mix should do the trick. That's easy to remember, which is why I do this with my fish. One bucket of rainwater to one bucket of tap water.
Can't really go wrong. But by all means experiment and see what works.>
There is nothing else in this tank currently, other than the pictus. All of the pictus got along fabulously, other than the one that was a little more shy (the remaining one), and he wasn't being picked on. I don't believe the pH had any sudden changes, although I can't be sure, as even the high range pH test kits I have seen don't go as high our tap water is.
<I see.>
I have been making the change to adding some RO water VERY gradually, just increasing a little bit with the regular water changes. The filter has been good the whole time. We have a power head for extra aeration and current for the fish. Before we started having the health problems, there was nothing added to the tank, other than water conditioner. There are also no poisons in that room, as that is our bedroom, and we haven't used any in that house at all.
I am having trouble remembering, but I believe we didn't do a water change after the fish became sick, because we had just done one (without RO water) 2-3 days before that.
<Understandable. But still, would have been a good idea.>
We did do a water change after we finished medicating, and added the carbon back in the filter.
<Carbon will remove some things, like formalin, but it won't remove others, like copper. As you may recall, activated carbon adsorbs specifically organic chemicals, not inorganic salts.>
That was when the fish became worse again. When I bought the medications, I checked that they didn't have any of the same ingredients, and I attempted to research online as to whether or not those medications would be okay in conjunction with one another.
<"Researching online" is a bit hopeless here. If you'd have called a vet, he or she would have said "No idea. Could be safe, might be dangerous." To expect fishkeepers do any better is optimistic. The reality is that there are *so* many variables here, that no-one would be able to give you a reliable answer.>
Some other people had used them together with success.
At the time, I was very concerned that if I had chosen the wrong med, the fish would be dead by the time I could start the right med after the first one.
<Yes, that's a risk. But it's better to lose one fish because you didn't diagnose the disease in time, than to poison the whole tank while trying a scattergun approach.>
That was probably an incorrect choice, but I was desperate.
<I sympathise.>
I did try to research the safety of the meds in question for catfish, and I didn't find anything about them being unsafe for them.
<Copper and formalin toxicity are well known, and mentioned in both the fish health books I have sitting on the table right next to me. The problem with web sites is that they aren't necessarily put together by experts. Or at least, not by vets or zoologists. Owning at least one reliable fish healthcare book is money extremely well spent.>
I also was not aware that General Cure has formalin in it. (It isn't listed on the package. They should probably list it there...)
<I just checked. The General Cure powder doesn't, it contains metronidazole and Praziquantel. My mistake. It's Quick Cure that has formalin in it.>
There have been 2 or 3 water changes following the one after medicating.
(These were the first water changes using some RO water, I believe).
<I see.>
It has been, I believe, 4 or 5 days since the last water change. I was planning on doing another one tonight. Thank-you so much for all of your help.
<I'm still concerned that the variety of medications could be harming your fish. Virtually all (non-antibiotic) medications are poisons at some level, and work by killing disease-causing organisms before they kill the patient.
Overuse, or combinations, can be toxic. Catfish generally are sensitive, so you have to be doubly careful around them. Still, I admit that I don't have any idea what caused the initial problem, though it sounds environmental more than anything else.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Catfish problems, comp.  9/29/2009
Hi crew! I have a 4 1/2 inch Pictus Catfish who recently was accompanied by a South African Cichlid (species is unknown, was an adoption fish).
<I see. Do try and send us a photo, and we'll put a name on the cichlid.
There aren't many cichlids native to South Africa as such, and I wonder if you mean a South American cichlid? South American cichlids are generally fairly placid and get along fine with catfish, but East African cichlids, by which we usually mean Rift Valley cichlids, usually can't be kept with catfish. They are far too territorial and aggressive. Moreover, Rift Valley cichlids require much different water chemistry conditions to South American catfish such as Pimelodus pictus. One last thing: Pimelodus pictus are schooling fish, and really shouldn't be kept in groups less than three.>
The Cichlid was fine with the Catfish, didn't bother him at all until a few days after we received him.
<Often the case. Initially the cichlid was exploring the tank and figuring out who lived there. With that done, and once the cichlid feels secure, it becomes territorial, and that's usually when trouble starts. Juvenile
cichlids are less aggressive than sexually mature cichlids, so that's another reason why a peaceful cichlid can suddenly appear to turn nasty.>
He started to turn on him, chasing him from one end of the tank to another violently ramming and nipping at my Catfish. The following day after it had happened I said enough is enough and took the Cichlid back to the store. My Catfish is now bruised and hurt, and I really hate to see him like this.
He behaves normally and eats properly, but I was wondering if I could possibly put an Oscar fish in the tank with him when he is all better? I know Oscars can be aggressive at times and will eat smaller fish, but if I
bought one as a teen, maybe 2 inch long, would my Catfish and the Oscar be compatible?
<Depends on the size of the Oscar. Adult Oscars view catfish as food: their strong jaws evolved to crack open hard prey, mostly crabs, crayfish and snails in the wild, but occasionally small catfish as well (apparently Corydoras!) So I wouldn't risk a small Pimelodus pictus with a big Oscar. A juvenile Oscar would be fine, I'd just be wary about a full-grown specimen.
Be careful with Oscars though; they are huge fish, and expensive to keep properly. Not fish to buy on impulse! Pimelodus pictus actually work much better with non-aggressive South American cichlids of medium size, including Angelfish, Severums, Eartheaters, and so on. Medium to large Gouramis are also good. Of course, Pimelodus pictus are predatory themselves, so very small (or baby) tankmates would be a bad idea.>
I am sorry for my ignorance in this area, I am 13 and have only been keeping aquariums for 9 months now.
<Welcome to the hobby! Hope everything works out. Cheers, Neale.>

Poor Pictus Catfish  9/26/09
I (possibly foolishly) bought a Pictus Catfish, from a store in my town.
We have three others, and he will eventually go in with them. He had a piece of net stuck on his fin, and I felt that I had to help him. A few days later the net actually fell off. However, I noticed that he is missing the spine from that fin (one of his pectoral fins) completely. He still has the skin from that fin. Will the spine grow back, and if not, will this affect him in a negative way? Is there anything that I can add to help prevent infection, or to help the spine grow back? I should point out that he is currently being treated for Ich. (This store is TERRIBLE to their fish. I have considered reporting them). Thank-you so much for your help.
<Hello Lindsay. The short answer is that yes, the spine and the fin membrane should grow back. Assuming water quality was good, I wouldn't bother adding any medication to the aquarium. Under normal circumstances, fish repair this type of physical quite quickly. Keep an eye out on the catfish for the next week, and if you do see signs of bacterial or fungal infection, then yes, medicate. But do remember catfish are sensitive to things like copper and formalin, so you need to be careful what medications you choose. If you had Melafix to hand, I suppose you might use that right away as a mild antiseptic, but I personally wouldn't go out of my way to buy a bottle of the stuff. Cheers, Neale.>

Jack Dempsey, Convict and Pictus Catfish      5/15/09
Good Morning,
<Good evening from England!>
I have 1 Jack Dempsey who is approx. 5 years and 8" long and a small Convict.
Yesterday I purchased two Pictus Catfish.
<These South American catfish are incompatible with your Central American cichlids; putting aside their different water chemistry requirements, Pimelodus pictus is a fairly peaceful, schooling catfish. It simply isn't psychologically or physically equipped to survive alongside violent, territorial cichlids. The species won't learn about territories, and will continually brush up against the cichlids.>
This morning I found 1 Catfish dead on the bottom of the tank.
<No surprise.>
The other one seems fine.
<For now.>
Do you think the Jack or Convict killed him/her.
<Yes; my money is on the JD, but there's not much in it.>
And, also do you think the other Catfish will be okay.
He ate his breakfast and right now he is hiding behind a rock.
<Already not normal behaviour: these schooling catfish (keep in groups of 5 or more, please!) are famous for being active, open water fish -- the fact this lone specimen is hiding away at all is strongly indicative of things "not being right". Needs rehoming, _stat_.>
Look forward to hearing from you soon.
<Hope this helps, Neale.> 
Re: Jack Dempsey, Convict and Pictus Catfish     5/15/09

Thank you very much. This was helpful.
But one more question, are there any fish I would be able to put in the tank w/JD. My algae eaters seem fine.
<To be honest, no. I've kept Central Americans with large Loricariids such as Pterygoplichthys (what I assume you mean by "algae eaters") and also with large Ictalurus "Channel catfish". These latter are bigger than the cichlids and extremely powerful animals in their own right, and they more or less rule the roost as far as the middle layer of the water goes. I also kept a Florida Gar with my Central Americans. In this case, sheer size helped, though the fact Gar stay at the top of the tank doubtless helps by avoiding territorial issues. These were all in a 200 Imperial gallon (240 US gallon) system, so my comments should be taken in the context of maintenance in a very large aquarium.>
Thanks again
Mary Rose
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>  

Pictus Catfish disappearance 3/26/09
<Hello Michelle,>
I have had a ten gallon aquarium with a small pictus catfish and a small Bala shark for about a month now.
<Completely unacceptable for these fish, and any/all problems you have will come down to this. Both these fish are schooling species for a start, so need to be kept in groups. I'd recommend at least three of each, and ideally 5-6 of each, if you had the space. Pimelodus pictus gets to about 12 cm in length under aquarium conditions, so it isn't too big, but Balantiocheilos melanopterus is much bigger, easily 25+ cm. In other words, you'll need a 115 l/30 gallon tank for the Pimelodus, and a tank at least twice that size for the Balantiocheilos.>
They got along perfectly fine.
<Famous last words.>
I kept them on a diet of sinking shrimp pellets, flake food, and frozen brine and neither had trouble eating. I noticed both yesterday when I fed them, but today the pictus catfish is gone. I don't believe that the Bala shark attacked/killed/ate the pictus catfish overnight, especially when I've kept them comfortably fed.
<Likely jumped out, or simply died and the corpse was eaten.>
I've read that the pictus catfish doesn't jump, burrow, or hide, and to check I've searched all around the outside of the aquarium, stirred up the gravel, and pulled up the fake plants, but it is nowhere to be found.
<Perhaps it chose suicide over a long, lingering death? I don't mean to be harsh (though I admit that I am) but there is absolutely no way either of these fish could be maintained for long in this tank. They were going to die quickly one way or another.>
Also, it had a habit of circling up and down the wall by the filter, but I checked the filter (a long shot) and it wasn't there either.
<Any cats or dogs? Fish-flavored jerky would be gone in no time...>
Any theories?
Thank you for your time, Michelle
<Please do review the needs of your fish PRIOR to purchase. It's best for all concerned. Do see my article on stocking small tanks, here:
Return the Bala Shark and select a few small fish viable for the tank you have. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pictus Catfish disappearance 03/26/09

Oh. Um, I don't know how it's possible, but I just found the catfish back in the tank, against all reason. Thank you for the advice; as much as I love them both, I'll return them both and get more suitable fish from your article. Lesson learned, I will never listen to the fish care/tank size labels at PetSmart again.
Sincerely, Michelle
<Hello Michelle. Well, today you've been [a] lucky and [b] wise, which isn't a bad way to be. I'm glad you've found the lost fish, and I'm even gladder you've returned them and are now all set to stock with some sensible fish. May I humbly suggest that no matter what you add, add some Cherry shrimps. These are about the most fun you can have with 10 gallons of water! They're colorful, easy to keep, active, and best of all, breed readily. Watching the newly hatched babies is quite the most darling thing! Cheers, Neale.>

Pimelodid Cats One other question and I promise I leave you in peace.. What's a pimellid catfish?? I have two pictus catfish (dot and spot) that I've had for over a year <that's them... Pimelodus pictus (the scientific name)> and they are about 3-4 in the white fin shark I've had a little longer than the two pictus catfish and he is about 6 in in length.. Just curious.. The pictus I did research and read they would get up to 5-6 in. They love blood worms and strangely enough love the Plecos algae tablets.. <and they will eat small live fish, including goldfish when the cats are big enough!> All of the fish I have now, I've had for 8 mo.s to a year and a half except the barbs and the Severum.. I may end up having to give my Severum to a friend of mine that has a 55 gal cichlid tank if he starts getting too big.. <agreed> <best of luck, Anthony>

Pictus Cat Questions... beh., sys., comp. Hello Crew...Thanks for your previous help with setting up my tanks. <Glad we were able to help.> Now I think I may have made a mistake in buying a 3 1/2-inch Pictus Cat. I've had him in quarantine for about a week. I read up on him a little beforehand, but I admit I bought him mostly because I like the way he looks. <They are really neat looking.> Anyway, I have a couple concerns. I wasn't aware that we would behave so frantically, swimming constantly up and down. Is he likely to calm down when I put him in my 75-gallon community (or my 125-gallon Bala tank--haven't decided)? <Yes, he should. They are pretty active fish but in a tank that size he should relax considerably.> My QT has no substrate at all; I've heard the reflection of the bare bottom contributes to this behavior. True? <Very possible.> Also, I know he might eat small fish, but I thought my 2-inch Buenos Aires Tetras would be safe. The other day a woman told me she had a 4-inch Pictus that ate a 3-inch Red-Tail Shark! Is this possible, or is it likely the shark died and then was eaten? Thanks. --Charlie <My guess would be that the shark died first and was then eaten although I can't say for sure. At the size he is now, your Tetras should be safe for a while. He'd probably go the best in your Bala tank eventually but I really can't see him eating the Tetras until he's a bit larger. Ronni>

Pictus Catfish Flashing  I just bought 2 pictus catfish wanted to know if it's normal for them to scrape the bottom of tank? Thanks. April  <<Dear April, no, it's not normal. Chances are good they have a parasite called Ich. You can find a medication for it at your local fish store. Tell them it is for a scaleless catfish. The meds will need to be used at half dosage, so read the directions carefully. What size is the tank? How often do you do water changes? You will need to keep your water quality good and your temperature stable if you hope to keep these fish parasite-free. Make sure your temperature is at a stable 78-80F. -Gwen>>

Pictus cat health, behavior We have 2 Pictus catfish and they both stay hidden in each of their own spots. We have several different kinds of sharks in the 55 gal. tank. I wanted to know if there is anything we can do to make them as lively as we have heard of them to be? Thank you, Chad Crawford  <Mmm, strange they aren't active... This catfish does enjoy warmer water... upper seventies, low eighties F... and your minnow-sharks should be able to tolerate this... so I would raise your temp. if it isn't tropical. What are you feeding the Pictus? They need at least twice daily meaty foods... that get down to them... Not just flakes or pellets. This will make a huge difference in their behavior, health... Lastly and least likely, what's your water chemistry? They like soft, acidic water... but will tolerate mid hardness, neutral pH... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Pictus cat health, behavior... Uhhh, did you read the last response? We keep the temperature at about 75-76 degrees. We feed them shrimp pellets. <Could be warmer... and as stated before, they need more than pelleted food...> I'm not sure what the water chemistry is, I know it's hard water. <And what type of water do these fish prefer?> When we first got them we loved them <<no my friend, you "loved" only what they did for you>> because they swam around everywhere and were really fun to watch, but now all they do is hide in the two caves we have in the tank, guarding their area. We're wondering if maybe we should get a couple more of the Pictus Catfish and maybe they would be more active altogether. The other fish we have in the tank are 3 tiger barbs, 1 black finned shark, 1 silver tipped shark, 1 rainbow shark and 2 red tailed sharks. -Thanks! <Could add more... but your tank is already going to be overcrowded with growth of what you have... You need to alter the diet, perhaps change your water quality here. Bob Fenner> 

Pinkish Pictus - 10/20/2005 Dear Wet Web Media <Good morning, Charlotte.> I am hoping you can help me, we have two pictus catfish which we have had for just over a year.  They seem to be fine, but the larger one of the two has developed a pink hue to the tail and fins.  Is this normal <Unlikely.> or could it have joint problems as these are the jointed parts of the body? <Mm, actually, likelier that this is some sort of irritation....  likely due to environmental conditions.  With no information on your system, this really can't be diagnosed.> They live in a community planted aquarium and get on very well with our four yoyo loaches.  They are fed frozen blood worm and cat pellets in the main as have never shown an interest in other varieties of live and frozen food we have tried.  I did search your site for a similar question but couldn't see anything there.  Thank you so much for your time and consideration. <Test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm with water changes....  and go on from there.> Charlotte <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Catfish Dying Off  12/10/05 I have a dilemma which no one in the local resources seems to be able to answer. I have had Pictus catfish within the last year and within a month all three suddenly died. They were swimming around fairly active and eating well and one morning they died within 10 minutes of each other. The other fish (red tiger cichlids, 2 Palo shark and 1 common Plecos) did fine and have displayed no strange behaviours. Then I tried two silver tip (Columbian) catfish. They were fine for about three weeks then started to die. One this morning. The other fish are fine. The catfish was fine last night swimming around between the cave and the open tank (30 gallon). I changed the water last night and checked the levels based on the testing system purchased and all levels indicate either "ideal" or "safe" conditions.  Any advice or guidance would be appreciated. I have not had fish for some time (about 15 years) and maybe I am not doing something correctly.  I hate to bring any other catfish into the tank until I know what I am doing incorrectly. Thank you, Shauna < The fish you are having problems with are sensitive to copper. New copper pipes in the water system may be a cause. Sometimes rocks have copper in them that can leach out into the water. Check the pH too. Wide changes in pH are tough on catfish.-Chuck>

Catfish Stocking  12/12/05 Hi there, I've been lurking around your FAQ section to see if I could find any information about the actual appropriate tank size for the Sorubim lima (Shovelnose) catfish. The reason why I ask is because I am very interested as having three or two of these very cool cats, as tankmates for my Senegal Bichir. As of now I have a 48''x14''x14'' tank that my friend gave me to get me started in the aquarium hobby. In fact, he has kept four S. limas in this very tank, and stated that they lived long healthy lives before he moved into his now smaller home and had to get rid of them. The S. limas he had were all between 10'' - 13'' and were about full 'aquarium size', though they can get about two feet in the wild. I figured I would be fine for at least two years before I wanted to upgrade to the 120 - 180 gallon tank of my dreams. Please confirm that I have nothing to worry about. I would hate knowing that I was subjecting an animal to poor conditions, when everyone I know that is aquarium wise keep telling me that I'll be fine with those stock levels (x1 P. senegalus 12in., x3 S. limas 12 in.). I think I might be just paranoid. Thanks a lot for any information you give me. - Red <This should work just fine as long as you stay on top of your water changes. Try to get the Limas small and let them grow together. And be aware they will eat any fish that will fit in their mouths. Don>

Firemouth Cichlid With Pictus Cat  12/15/05 I just revisited the post below, from last summer, and saw the additional note by RMF. So my follow-up question is, if not an Oscar, is there another SA cichlid you'd recommend? What about a Firemouth? Thanks MJ < The problem with adding any cichlid to this system is the fact that they will assume that the whiskers of the catfish are worms and have them bitten off in no time at all. A keyhole cichlid or Festivum might work, but it would depend on the personality of the actual fish. I agree with RMF that an Oscar would be a bad idea.-Chuck> Oscar Mix 7.24.05 I'm setting up a new 135, and plan to stock it with 7 Metynnis hypsauchen and three Pimelodus pictus. Do you think a single Oscar would be a reasonable addition? If so, I'm assuming that I would want to add it 1) small and 2) last; is that right? If it spends 4 weeks in the Q-tank, is it still going to be small enough to add without undue problems? How big should the other guys be before I undertake this (if at all)? <I'd feel ok about an Oscar in this mix, 135gallons should be enough room.  Just make sure no one is small enough to fit in anyone else's mouth, mainly the Oscar's.  After 4 weeks of quarantine he will still be small enough to add to the mix.  Gage> <<RMF would not place a pictus catfish and Oscar in the same system>>

Question about goldfish with catfish    4/8/06 Hiya! <Jason N. here.> I love your site - so much info! <Thank you!> I'm a new goldfish keeper - I've been keeping tropical fish (mostly tetras and danios, as well as barbs recently) for quite sometime but just got a pair of common goldfish. They're currently in a very small tank (the aunt who gave it to me used to keep goldfish in there, so I figured it was okay to get a couple for it) - once I learned it was WAY too small I set about getting a bigger tank. I have a ten gallon I will be setting up to cycle this weekend for them, and when they're too big for that I will probably give them to my parents, who have a large pond with a happy colony of goldfish. Anyway, on to my question!  I saw some pictus catfish at the pet store yesterday and am smitten. They're beautiful! My friend who works at the pet store said that catfish and goldfish go well together, but after reading a few horror stories with algae eaters and catfish attacking the goldfish I am now not so sure.  Can you tell me whether it would be okay to have a pair of young common goldfish (they're about 1.5" each) in with a pictus catfish(1.5-2" long)? I know both species can grow quite large - would they be all right in a 10 gallon tank for a year or two or will they outgrow that too quickly? My thought was to have them in the 10 gallon tank here at my office for a year or two, then move them to a bigger tank either here (if the office is ok with a bigger tank) or at home when they get bigger. I've been a pretty laid-back fishkeeper to date - no water testing, once-or-twice-a-month partial water changes, etc, but I would like to get serious about it. I have ordered a test kit and am doing a lot of reading. <That's good.  Reading and research really is a aquarist's best friend.> Many thanks for your very helpful and interesting site, and thanks in advance for any info you can give me. <I would recommend against keeping a Pictus w/Goldfish.  I have found that keeping lower stratum fish w/Goldfish is a recipe for disaster.  Goldfish take every opportunity to eat, and getting a finicky catfish to eat before the Goldfish come around will prove to be a nightmare for you.  Further, 2 Goldies and a Pictus will be a fantastic squeeze -- in fact, you may want to make the extra investment for a tank that is 20 gallons or more; your Goldies will outgrow that 10 gallon in less than a year, and you are left with MUCH less room for error with so little water.  You may find yourself spending more money as you buy equipment for a 10 gallon, and then equipment for a 20+ gallon in not too long a timeframe. Some folks have reported great success keeping Dojo loaches with Goldfish, although in my experience there are still feeding problems as I mentioned above.  The tank you are suggesting is much too small to keep Dojos, anyway. Best of luck!> Cheers, Ealasaid <Jason N.>

Treatment for a laceration injury; crayfish compatibility?   11/8/06 Hi-- <Hello Erica - Jorie here> Our pictus cat has suffered a ~5mm gash on one side of its abdomen, probably thanks to Pinchy, our resident speckled crayfish. <Probably so.  Pinchy will likely continue to damage your catfish, as well as other tank inhabitants, depending on what you've got in there...he will likely need to live in his own tank if you don't want to hurt your fish...)   I'm wondering whether and how to treat the wound.  The cat has been pacing a bit (swimming back and forth) and its abdomen is slightly swollen.  Otherwise, its color and appetite appear to be ok. <I would suggest isolating the injured fish, keeping water conditions clean and clear, and adding MelaFix to promote speedy tissue regrowth.  Keep a very close eye to ensure no secondary infection develops at the wound site - if it does, a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Spectrogram will help.  So long as the fish is swimming, eating, and otherwise behaving OK, I don't suggest anything but quarantine, clean water and MelaFix.> Thanks in advance, -Erica <Jorie. Do try to find an alternative home for Pinchy.> Re: Treatment for a laceration injury; crayfish compatibility?  11/12/06 Dear Jorie: Thanks so much for the information!  The cat's doing much better now and seems to be on the way to a full recovery. <I'm glad to hear that.> Yes, we're looking into alternate arrangements for Pinchy. <Love the name!! You must be a Simpsons fan, also...>   She's been rather crabby and aggressive since having her first set of unsterilized eggs.  Perhaps a new, dedicated home and a boyfriend will help.  :-) <Unfortunately, I know nothing about keeping crayfish, so I can't advise you here...do read up on proper conditions, incl. whether or not a mate would be suitable prior to purchasing...> Thanks again, -Erica <You're welcome. Jorie>

Pimelodid Cat and Neotrop. Cichlid comp.  2/22/07 Hello, I have a 30 gallon with a pictus catfish, that is about 3 inches, I would like to have a pair of convicts or a pair of fire mouths. Do you think these two species will be ok together? Thank you for your time. Miriam <Mmm... likely either cichlid species would mix, get along here. If it were up to me, I'd likely choose the Firemouths... as the Convicts are much more likely to spawn... get feisty with the Catfish if so. Bob Fenner>

General advice, FW mix of Bettas, Angels, Pictus Cats...    5/12/07 Hi to all the crew at web media, <Hello.> I have a 47.5 gallon tank and currently have 8 platies (all pairs), One  male Betta splendens, four Angel fish Genders unknown and 3 pictus catfish (Genders also unknown) could you tell me whether or not in your opinion  there could be trouble with the community I have described. <Angelfish have been reported as "fin nippers" with fancy (as opposed to wild-type) Bettas. Angels aren't otherwise "nippy" but when kept with fish as unable to swim as fancy Bettas, they're certainly happy enough to have a nibble. Angels and Pimelodus pictus, on the other hand, are an old, established combo that generally works well.> I did research and seek advice from veteran fishkeepers but would still  appreciate feedback from your site and will be very grateful. <Very good. I'd not keep the Betta in there, and would instead swap it for something like lace Gouramis or some type of medium-sized schooling fish, like Australian Rainbowfish or bleeding heart tetras. But if the Betta is there now, you may as well persevere and just be prepared to remove it if it looks nibbled. Your other problem with Bettas of course is they aren't able to compete for food all that well. Hand-feeding the Betta (easy enough to do) is one option here.> Thanks in advance Victor   <Hope this helps.>

A couple of questions, pimelodid... sys.,  comp.   7/13/07 Hello! <<Good morning, Meghan. Tom here.>> First I'd like to say that I love your site. I find it extremely useful and most of my questions have been answered. <<Very happy to hear this, Meghan, and thank you.>> That aside, I can't seem to find much on pictus catfish. I got him about 2 months ago from a pet store that assured me he would be fine in a 7 gallon tank. <<Not hardly! These guys need lots of swimming room. Far, far more than a 7-gallon tank could possibly afford.>> He was about an inch or two long, and I had no idea just how big these guys can get. He's now maybe 3 or 4 inches, and I noticed about 2 weeks ago that he's started swimming in circles following his reflection. <<Going stir-crazy, no doubt.>> I went to the store (a different one from the one I got him in) to ask why he might be doing this and the fish person was horrified that he was in the small tank he was in. She said he needed to be in at least a 30 gallon or it could kill him. <<I'd go even higher than this but the lady was absolutely correct.>> I don't want to kill him so I talked to my fiancée© and we decided to get a bigger tank, which we set up yesterday and are in the process of cycling. It is a 75 gallon with live plants and we were advised to use stress zyme so that it will cycle faster. <<Wonderful decision on the tank, Meghan! (Your fiancée© gets credit, too!) As for the Stress Zyme, there are a number of factors that determine how quickly a tank will cycle. Depending on how heavily planted the tank is, this alone may be just as effective at speeding things up as adding the Stress Zyme. No harm either way, however.>> I plan on transferring my pictus along with my Chinese algae eater in about a week to this new tank. <<I'll reserve my comments on the CAE but I'll confess that I'm not a fan of these fish.>> I have been researching tankmates since I finished setting up my system and I can't find anything anywhere that answers what will safely live with these two. <<Maybe I won't reserve my comments after all. Your Pictus is a 'natural' predator, insects primarily but not entirely. Larger South American Cichlids do quite well with these fish as they'll grow too large for the Pictus to bother with. Smaller fish like Neons would be on the menu, however. (Just about anything that will fit in its mouth should be avoided.) Your CAE is another story. Angelfish, for example, would get along well with your catfish but would likely become a target for the CAE, which is well-known to attach itself to the bodies of slower moving fish and feed on the slime coating/flesh of its 'victims'. Not a pleasant creature and one I heartily recommend against keeping, by and large. This isn't to say that some folks don't keep these fish without a problem but I don't consider it a worthwhile risk, personally.>> I currently have them with some danios and mollies, which will be moved to a 30 gallon as soon as my fiancée©'s parents bring it over. <<Good. The Mollies aren't compatible with the Pictus where water conditions are concerned preferring alkaline water over the softer, more acidic water that the Pictus enjoys. The Danios, of course, are less picky about their conditions but, depending on their sizes, might be viewed as a challenging "treat" down the line.>> I really like cichlids and I was wondering how well that combination will work out. <<As I mentioned, Meghan, Cichlids would do well with your Pictus but choose appropriately. Not all Cichlids are 'created equal' and the African varieties need far different water (hard, alkaline) parameters than do their South American cousins.>> I also have wanted to get an Oscar for awhile but I don't know how well these will work with my pictus since they tend to be aggressive fish. <<The huge benefit you have working for you here is the size of your tank. Oscars can, indeed, be aggressive animals but I don't think they would find your Pictus to be an inviting target. In fact, a group of Pictus would do very nicely with an Oscar since Pictus prefer to shoal.>> I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions as to what would work best with these two. I was also wondering if I should consider getting a second pictus once my tank is up and running or if he will be better as the only one there. <<Rather than getting too specific, Meghan, I've given you a broader grouping of fish, i.e. the South American Cichlids, to look at. (Everyone has his/her own tastes, after all.) My only admonition here would be to select fish that grow suitably large. As for a second, third or fourth Pictus, be my guest. As stated, these are shoaling fish and do fine in groups. Better than alone, frankly.>> Thanks a bunch for your time! Meghan <<Hope this helps a bit, Meghan. Congrats on the new tank and best of luck in the future to you and your fiancée©. Tom>>
Re: A couple of questions, pimelodid... sys.,  comp.
  7/13/07 <<Hello again, Meghan.>> After thinking and talking it over, we have decided to get 2 more pictus and an Oscar. <<Sounds good, Meghan.>><RMF would NOT do this... too likely the Pictus will be damaged, end up stuck in the Oscars mouth.> I was wondering if you had any recommendations as far as what type of Oscar and where to get them. <<Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus) come in a variety of coloration schemes due to selective breeding, Meghan. Once again, this is really a subjective choice on the parts of you and your fiancée©. The so-called Pink (Albino?) Oscar is rumored to be about the least aggressive of them but I'm afraid I have no first-hand knowledge of this. I'm a little biased toward Red Oscars just for their coloration but that's me.>> Should we go through the local PetSmart or order them online? <<Skip PetSmart, Meghan. If you don't have a local LFS that you trust, a reputable e-tailer is the much better choice. I have a local LFS that I do business with exclusively so I'm not the best one to ask regarding online ordering but a little research should put you on the right track. I know from other WWM members that there are a good number of very reputable e-tailers available but I've not, personally, done business with any of these.>> I doubt it, but I was curious also if I could fit a few other cichlids in the tank or just leave it at these fish. <<I would resist the temptation, Meghan. A full-size Oscar is going to command even your 75-gallon tank, the Pictus notwithstanding. Better to leave your stocking levels as you see them now.>> And finally, should I add the 2 pictus and Oscar at the same time, or stagger it? <<The rule-of-thumb here is to add the more aggressive fish later. What you want to avoid, of course, is allowing your Oscar to 'claim' the tank and, then, add new fish afterward. That said, I would be terribly remiss if I didn't highly recommend quarantining your fish before adding them to your display tank. We, too frequently, kind of gloss over this procedure but it's absolutely the best way to ensure that the main tank is getting "healthy" additions. I would go with the Pictus first, in this case, and then the Oscar. If quarantining isn't feasible, you shouldn't have a problem adding the three together.>> Thank you again, Meghan <<You're very welcome. Good luck! Tom>>

helphelphelp... Pimelodelid hlth.   1/28/08 Hi Neale, I don't know why, but today when I was looking at one of my pictus catfish, I noticed that she was struggling to swim up and that she kept on going back down to the surface. <Hmm... usually a sign of acute distress: check temperature, ammonia/nitrite, potential sources of poisons.> The other catfish seems fine and is swimming around everywhere. The sick one does not seem to show any other symptoms - I mean she is breathing normally and is not gasping. Also, she keeps rubbing herself against the glass or gravel. What is wrong with her. I noticed this just now, and she seemed fine when I fed her, she was racing around everywhere. Now she can't swim as well as the other and seems to be rubbing herself on the glass thing. <The rubbing is usually a precursor to Whitespot or Velvet. Look for small white dots on the fins especially. In the UK, I have found eSHa 2000 to be safe with catfish and other sensitive species, so I'd recommend that one. Otherwise you can use the salt/heat method described in detail in the Clown Loach Disease FAQs elsewhere on this site.> I'm scared to treat with anything, as I read on the net that they do not have scales. <This is a factoid that does the rounds but for the life of me I can't understand what relevance it has to anything.> What do I do, I don't want to lose her. Thanking you, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: helphelphelp 1/28/08 Hi Neale, I went to see the lady in the petshop who sold me my pictus catfish and I explained what I told you in the e-mail, and she gave me Protozin White Spot and Fungus to use. So I have made a water change - but when I read the back of the bottle before I used it, it said not to use the medicine on elephant noses - African Mormyrids. So I was a bit worried about using it. <Pictus catfish aren't Mormyrids, so that in itself should be a concern. In general, catfish will tolerate the use of copper/formalin medications provided they are otherwise healthy. It is also important to increase aeration in the aquarium, because to some degree the harmful aspect of medications is the irritation they cause to the gills. Simply raising the outlet of the filter -- to increase splashing -- will help. Also make sure the filter is operating at full power -- the more circulation, the better.> Instead, I put two drops of it in the tank instead of the required dose per gallon (not sure if that helped) <I'd use the full dose as quote on the packaging. If the fish appear to be distressed, then do a 50% water change, and when you do the next dose, only use half the amount. But for these things to work, there does need to be a certain amount of copper/formalin in the water.> and I raised the temperature to 30 degrees as it was 26 before - is that ok or too much? <Temperature increase is fine, especially if you increase circulation and aeration.> I found two really tiny white spots on the sick pictus and when I explained it to the lady she said it could probably be white spot and that I should raise the temperature so I have. <Fine.> How long should I keep on doing water changes? I did one last Sunday, and now I just did one. Will this harm any bacteria I have in the tank? <Water changes don't do any harm, ever, provided the new water is similar temperature/chemistry and you use dechlorinator. Normally you do not do water changes during the period you are adding medication. So if you need to add 20 drops on Day 1, 20 drops on Day 3, and 20 drops on Day 5, you wouldn't do a water change until at least Day 6.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: I did a water test...  1/28/08 Hey Neale I did a water test and it is showing 0 nitrite. So why is the pictus acting this way? The other is fine, swimming around perfectly. The sick one is still rubbing against glass and not swimming properly. She has not lost any colour at all, seems fine apart from not swimming and the rubbing. <Assume Whitespot/Velvet, and act accordingly.> I don't know what to do. She does not have any scales does she? <None of the catfishes have scales. That is indeed true.> So now what? What medication to use? <See previous e-mail.> She wasn't like this this morning, first time I have seen her do this. Sorry to keep on pestering, don't know what to do. Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage... Neervana... Neale...  1/29/08 Hi Neale, I didn't add anymore medicine to the tank as it says not to add more Protozin once you've put it in, only after 48 hours. Because I only put in two drops, should I put in the rest of the normal dosage the bottle says for my tank tomorrow? Or should I wait until Thursday and do it then? When should I change the water if I put the Protozin in tomorrow? On Saturday? And should I also be thinking about feeding them less in the meantime as well? If bits of uneaten food fall on the gravel and does not get cleaned up quickly, will this pollute the water, and perhaps encourage the white spot to grow? Thanks, Neervana. <Did you add *just* two drops, or two drops per litre/gallon? If the former, that will achieve nothing at all and you may as well forget about it. Just start again from scratch, following PRECISELY what it says on the packaging. Don't make this stuff up as you go along! Protozin isn't a medication I use, but it's been around for decades so I assume it is safe and reliable. Feed fish normally while treating them. Dirty gravel doesn't encourage Whitespot to grow, but of course a dirty tank with poor water quality won't help your fish stay healthy. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage 1/29/08 Hi Neale, Yes, I very stupidly only put in two drops of the Protozin...I was just worried I would be poisoning them. So just to be clear about this: 1st treatment, I add the required dosage, then 2nd treatment again (after how many days if I add first treatment tomorrow?) and then third treatment (after how many days?) and then after the third treatment when do I do a water change, as I already did one today? Thanks Neale, Neervana. <Protozin is added on days 1, 2, 3, and 6. Do NOT DO ANY water changes between day 1 or day 6, and in fact don't do any water changes until at least day 8. Let the medicine do its thing. If you keep diluting the concentration, it won't work! Make sure there's no carbon in the filter. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage  -01/30/08 Hi Neale, So I've added my first dosage today. How do I know whether there is any carbon in my filter? It came with my tank as a complete set up - what I mean is its built into the tank so I can't take it out. <Carbon is usually a bag of black chippings. Charcoal by another name. Some filters have black carbon covered sponges or modules. The instructions should reveal this, if you really don't know.> When I looked in it, all I saw were two compartments with this foamy woolly thing and another third one with these round cylinders, that looked cream in colour. <The wool is filter floss, or if its spongy, it's sponge. Used for mechanical and biological filtration. The ceramic cylinders are called "noodles" among hobbyists and are for biological filtration.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage... Pim. hlth.  1/31/08 Hi Neale, After the first treatment, the sick pictus that was lying at the bottom is looking a lot better, she is already back and up, swimming about crazily. So I should proceed with the dose as the bottle mentions? <Yes!!!! This is how TB Epidemics get started... people don't finish the course of drugs because they feel fine halfway through. You MUST finish the course precisely as instructed.> I am now on day 2. it also says half dosage for new aquariums, so I have been halving it. <If that's what it says... then that's what it says!> I checked the filter, there is no carbon as you have described it. So far is everything as it should be? <Yep.> Thank you for your advice! Neervana <Cheers, Neale.>

why?... Ongoing re Ich, Pim...  2/1/08 Hello Neale, I am now on day three of the treatment for my pictus catfish. Both white spots I saw on one of the pictus are gone - today as I was looking at her I noticed that both of the pictus' tails are slightly frayed. I know they weren't like this before. What is causing this? They hardly ever fight, and they seem to always be swimming together. Is this another infection? Thanks, Neervana. <Frayed fins are normally a sign of Finrot and/or Fungus. Whitespot/Ick can trigger these problems -- when the cysts burst and the Whitespot parasite swims out (to reproduce and then infect more fish) it leaves behind a hole, and bacteria can get into the hole and cause an infection. Alternatively, you may have some problems with water quality, because Finrot and Fungus are both related to water quality nine times out of ten. In any case: check the nitrite, to make sure the aquarium is healthy. When the Whitespot medication is done, do a 50% water change, and then start a treatment for Finrot and Fungus. I recommend eSHa 2000 because it treats both equally well, but you can find alternative brands if you want to. Damaged fins are -- up to a point -- low priority complaints, so don't fret too much. Yes, you must treat them, but they will heal nicely once you have added the medication. In the wild fish damage their fins all the time. It is really only in the bacteria-laden water in a fish tank that fin damage becomes potentially lethal. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: why? Doesn't Neale suggest a good FW tome?  2/1/08 Hi Neale, So now I'm on day 4 - which is the one where I don't add any medication (Protozin). My tank is starting to smell, and I really don't like it. Also, the water is getting a bit dirty - when is the earliest day I can change the water, day 6 or 7 perhaps? Also, I don't know where to get eSHa 2000 from, my LFS don't have it. Thanks, Neervana. <In four days after a water change, your aquarium SHOULD NOT smell! If it smells, then you are doing one (or more) of the following: - Feeding the fish too much, so that leftover food is rotting. - Not removing uneaten food (see above). - Keeping too many fish in too small a tank. - Not providing adequate filtration for the sorts of fish being kept. Aquaria in good condition DO NOT SMELL!!! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: why? 2/1/08 Hi Neale, Yes, I have not vacuumed my gravel since the start of last week. Now what should I do? When I went to the LFS the lady said that since my tank came with an in-built filtration/oxygen system I don't need any other equipment added to it. I only have two pictus catfish in my tank, so I think it's ok for the meantime for them. So should I vacuum the gravel then? But I thought this could dilute the medicine? Thanks, Neervana. <Vacuuming the gravel is really neither here nor there when it comes to water quality, unless you are keeping very large, messy fish that produces lots of faeces. For Pimelodus pictus, you should be able to go for several weeks without needing to clean the gravel. The only way the gravel would become filthy enough to smell would be if your were putting in masses too much food. Which you're not, I hope. For two Pimelodus pictus, half a cube of wet frozen bloodworms should be adequate. If you're using dried food, then a pinch about the size of your little finger's nail. I'm past remembering what sort of tank we're talking about. How big is the aquarium? On the filter, look at the pump, and less if it has a gallons-per-hour (gph) or litres-per-hour (lph) rating -- it should do. Also what temperature is the aquarium? Cheers, Neale.>

Re: why? Pim., Ich...    2/3/08 Hi Neale, The tank is 10 gallons (which I know is too small for these fish, but I am currently saving for a bigger one to move them into, which would be around two months' time) then I would use the tank I already have as a quarantine tank. <Hmm... a 10 gallon tank isn't really suitable for these fish, even for a while. Do check the nitrite level, and I'm guessing you'll find it isn't zero. This is a bad thing.> I put the temperature up to 30 degrees - it used to be 26 before, but I raised the temperature to 30, because the lady in the LFS told me to do that. <This is indeed correct *while* treating for Whitespot/ick. But once the Whitespot is dealt with, reduce the temperature to around 25. These are not fish that live in very warm water. More heat = less oxygen, and that'll make the fish less happy and the bacteria less efficient.> I also noticed that it's only when I first added the Protozin that there was a weird smell coming out from the tank and that it went after a couple of hours. Every time I add the medicine the tank smells. I also wanted to mention that when I raised the temperature, I did it in one go - when I was reading some of the messages people had put online they all advised each other on raising it one degree a day - I didn't do that, I only did it all at once because I didn't know. Could this be why it smells? <No.> I have not done the water change yet, so do you think I should wait until day 6? <If you can, wait. But if the fish clearly look ill, then you have to do a water change of 50%.> My two pictus are starting to look a bit sick as in their fins are turning opaque a bit and do look a bit ragged. <That's likely Finrot.> Also, when I feed them I feed them about a little less then half a cube of blood worms, a pellet each (tetra ones) and about half a pack of jellied daphnia. I feed them a different thing each day like you said, but perhaps it is too much for them. <Too much. Stop feeding them completely while they are sick. Once they are healthy, switch to feeding once every two days, and even then only a small quantity of food. As I said earlier, about the same amount as would fit on the fingernail on your little finger.> What do you think I should do? Thanking you, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.> Hi Neale, I have a 200 gallon tank I could move them into once they are healthy - but I have two Bala sharks already in this tank who are perfectly healthy... <Don't mix sick fish with healthy fish.> so I don't know if it's wise to move them in now, as the Bala sharks might catch the white spot? <Perfectly possible.> Anyway, should I do a water change now? Thing is, I did a water change every week since I got them, the did two water changes before I put the medicine in. They really don't look well at all, so I should do the water change now and then continue with the Protozin and feed them a little every two days until they look healthy again? <Do the water change, and don't feed the fish for the next few days and see if the water clears up.> Thanks , Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.> Hi Neale, I was wondering about something, thought I would just ask you quickly. This tank was new and the pictus are the first two fish to live in it - so how did they catch white spot? <Likely had it at the store. This is why we quarantine fish, to keep diseases from getting into our home aquaria.> I did read online that apparently it's bad to mix the water that your fish comes in with the water in the tank, as it may contain white spot, because some of the fish in a few tanks in that fish shop are dead on the gravel. <Indeed, you should put the new fish into a bucket with the water from the bag. Then add a few cups of water from the fish tank over the next 30 minutes. Then lift the fish out and put it into the tank. Ideally, you're putting it into a quarantine tank. This doesn't stop Whitespot if the fish are already infected, but it does reduce do something to help keep out the motile Whitespot parasites (which swim in the water looking for hosts). But the tank these two fish were in did not seem like it had any unhealthy fish. <Most aquarium stores have water that flows between multiple tanks and one big filter. So even if one tank seems devoid of sick fish, that doesn't guarantee anything. The better stores will use UV to reduce the chances of diseases moving about, but this isn't an 100% fix.> Do you know how it could have happened? <Not exactly, but I can guess. The fish had Whitespot when you bought them. After a few days the cysts matured and you saw the spots. In the meanwhile, a combination of the Whitespot itself damaging the skin together with poor water quality/overcrowding has led to Finrot.> Also, I did not vacuum the gravel today I just took a small bucket and took water straight out of the tank, that does not matter does it? <That's fine for a water change. Under normal circumstances, the gravel doesn't need to be cleaned every week. Once a month is fine, perhaps less if the tank has lots of plants and is otherwise well maintained.> I mean I have just ordered a gravel vacuum and waiting for it to come, that's why I can't clean the gravel. <I don't use a gravel cleaner anyway. Just a stick and a siphon. Stir gravel with the stick, and use the siphon to suck away any dirt.> But I assume that it's not important to vacuum the gravel if it hardly shows any dirt on it? <Visible dirt doesn't directly harm fish. Dirty tanks tend to be poorly maintained tanks, but in itself silt is harmless. Check out the "wild" and you'll see a lot of silt! Fish get harmed by the invisible things -- nitrite, ammonia.> I mean mine does not look like there is any mess on it. I am expecting to vacuum the gravel next week. Should I continue with the Protozin just the same because I did the water change, does that mean the concentration has been diluted now? I am on the fourth day now, and you said I should put the next dosage on day 6. Then water change on day 8. Proceed with this? <Precisely; carry on as if you had NOT done a water change.> Thanks and sorry for pestering you so much, but I just want to be sure. Neervana <I suspect, my friend, that the time has come to invest in a good aquarium book. <<Hallelujah! RMF>> A lot of these questions are fundamental to the hobby, and having a nice book with the facts laid out fair and square will be very helpful. Visit your local public library and test drive a few tropical fish books. When you've found one you like, BUY IT! Trust me, compared to anything else you will get in the hobby, a good aquarium book is BY FAR the best use of your cash. Cheers, Neale.>

It's not going away... Pim., Ich...    2-4-08 Hi Neale, I've added my last dose of Protozin to my aquarium now, and today I noticed that one of the pictus (who was infected first) is completely covered in white spot. It's not going away! and I'm on day 4!!!Now what do I do? This Protozin is not working, they just seem to be getting worse. There whiskers have gone curly and they look like they are getting fin rot. <This isn't good.> Should I finish off the Protozin, and start on another med? I can't find eSHa 2000 anywhere. <Try online. It really is the best I've used. In any event, trying an alternate brand will do no harm. Make double sure you are using correctly, especially when calculating the dosages, removing carbon, etc.> What other medicine do you have in mind (that I could get from my LFS)? <Without visiting your aquarium store, I can't possibly know what products they have. I would use salt + temperature at this stage. Tonic salt ideally. 2-3 teaspoons per gallon, 28-30 C. Raise the salinity/heat gradually across a couple of days. Leave running for at least a week. Then do water changes across a couple more days to reduce the salinity again. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > And, if there is another alternative to medicating the catfish again, because it doesn't seem to be doing them any good. Thanks, Neervana. <Do read Bob's article as linked above. Cheers, Neale.> <<Raise that dang temperature!!! Thank goodness. B>>

Some help! Pim., Ich, Neale...   2-05-08 Hi Neale, <Hello again.> So tomorrow I have to do my 50% water change as the Protozin treatment ends. I went into my LFS today and the lady there told me to just start the Protozin treatment all over again. What do you think? <Do the salt/high temperature plan mentioned last time. Stop with the Protozin; obviously isn't working. Salt/temperature will *definitely* do the trick.> Other then making the Pictus' whiskers get a bit short, it doesn't seem to have triggered any bad reactions in them. <Good.> I ordered eSHa 2000 but the lady said it will take 1-2 weeks for it to get here, as she only has one person who can get it for her. <Oh.> So what do you think, should I start the treatment again, because the catfish do look bad and they are covered in Whitespot. <No.> Also, can I feed them on dried shrimp? <If they eat it, sure. But I wouldn't be putting too much food in this aquarium just yet. Enough to keep them healthy, but no more. The big problem with Whitespot is it allows secondary infections to get in, and poor water quality makes that more likely.> I saw them in the LFS today. If I'm going to do my water change tomorrow, I do 50% in the morning, 50% in the evening right? <Fine.> Then on Thursday I re-start treatment? <No. Do the salt/temperature protocol instead.> What fish book do you think I should get, the LFS don't have any. <Oh, there's any number. My first book was "Guide to Community Fishes" by Dick Mills. He's an old school writer, but very good and easy to read. TFH's "The Simple Guide to Fresh Water Aquariums" is pretty good in terms of the basics, as is "A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" by Gina Sandford. I get most of my aquarium books second hand in old book stores, and I'm sure half an hour spend browsing a used book shop where you live would turn up some gems. The basics of fishkeeping are really very simple and have been known for years, and doubtless any fairly modern book would set you right.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Some help!    2-05-08 Hi Neale, <Hello,> Thank you for the quick replies. So how exactly should I do the salt treatment? <I spelled it out a couple questions back, and it's described in detail on that web page about Whitespot (or Ick, as the Americans call it). So go check your e-mails.> And I need aquarium salt? <Ideally, yes, plain old tonic salt will do. Don't use marine salt mix, because that raises the hardness and pH, which you don't really want to do.> I don't have any of those except for table salt (which I read is bad on the Internet because it has anti caking stuff in it but some other people are saying its harmless concerning treatments). <Yeah, I've heard this to. Personally, I'd go with what I know, which is plain tonic salt for treatment. I *have* used cooking salt for dips, where the fish goes in for a few minutes, but I've never added it to an aquarium. So I can't confirm whether or not cooking salt is safe this way. If you MUST use cooking salt, at least get the "gourmet" rock salt that doesn't have any additives. I believe Kosher salt also lacks additives, and is widely sold in gourmet food stores as well as ethnic food markets.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help, fishy help web ppl. Pim., Ich...       2/8/08 Hi Neale, The Pictus Catfish are getting worse and worse. The treatment for Whitespot is not working, and they both look like their fins are being eaten. Most of the fins have nearly gone. I don't want to do this, but I want to get rid of them I can't stand looking at them trying to swim around in this way. They look like they are in pain, but most of their fins are gone, I don't think they will be able to survive. What should I do? I know the LFS won't take them. Thanks, Neervana. <Neervana, tell me what "treatment" you're doing first. Are you doing the salt + temperature treatment PRECISELY as described in the article you were directed to? Or are we still messing about with the Protozin? Have you done water quality tests? Get back to me on these before you ask any more questions, because without knowing which treatment you're doing, or what the environment is like, I can't offer any constructive help. Whitespot is normally VERY easy to cure; if it isn't going away, then you are clearly not doing something right. When it doesn't get cured *despite* using a copper-based medication, it's usually because the user has put the wrong amount in, or else left carbon in the filter. If you are doing the salt + temperature thing, that WILL work, but it doesn't kill the cysts on the fish, just the free-living parasites. So you add the salt, raise the temperature, and then wait a couple days until the cysts burst. The salty water kills the free living parasites that emerge, and your fish get better. Whitespot doesn't make the fins go away; if the fins are decaying, that's something else entirely, likely Finrot. Finrot is often (almost always) associated with poor water quality, hence my NEED to know the nitrite concentration in the tank. If you have any nitrite in the water, that's too much, especially for fish as sensitive as these. If this was me, I'd do a 50% water change. I'd make sure the new water had the salt added, at a dose of about 2-3 teaspoons per gallon. I'd raise the temperature to 82F/28C. Then tomorrow I'd do another 50% water change, also adding salty water. I'd then repeat this, doing at least 25% water changes every day from now on until things look better. My assumption is -- and it's only a guess -- that your tank is inadequately filtered and overstocked, and between messing about with the medication, you've not put the right dose into the tank. Between these two things, the fish are fighting Whitespot and Finrot at the same time. You MUST do PRECISELY what I say here to stand any chance of saving these fish! Don't be creative or clever or try to experiment. Follow my instructions. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help, fishy help web ppl. Pim., Ich...  Hi Neale, <Neervana> I did a 50% water change in the morning as you said and then a 50% water change in the morning. I was going to buy aquarium salt tomorrow morning from the LFS but yesterday night I noticed that the fish had nearly all of their fins missing and that there was only a few strands left. since doing two 50% water changes yesterday I have not added any medication to the tank at all because it says not to add any anything else to the tank, to wait for 48 hours before adding any more treatment. <Perhaps true, but this doesn't refer to salt, merely other MEDICINES. Please, add the salted water ASAP.> The fish look bad in health. I think there is algae in my tank because when I did that water change I could see some kind of white cloud (jelly like) floating around in the tank and took it out with a net. <Forget about the algae. The white gunk is probably bacteria or fungus, which tend to accumulate in small, dirty tanks. It might also be slime from the fish, but I don't think your fish are big enough for that.> But it's cleared up now with the water change. I just tested the water with those Tetra 5 in 1 sticks and for the nitrite its showing up as colourless to very very light pink (indicating there is a bit in the water?) on the test. <Any Nitrite -- repeat: ANY NITRITE!!! -- is B-A-D bad. Can't make this any more plain. Nitrite damages fish. It's like carbon monoxide to humans. Whether it's a little or a lot doesn't matter a whole bunch, the fact it's there at all is a bad sign.> The pH is showing up as 7.6 and KH and GH is showing up as 10. <Basically fine for this species.> I can get the salt and do the treatment tomorrow but I don't know if there is any hope, they look so wretched. <I bet.> Thanking you, Neervana. <Good luck (to you all!) Neale.>

Re: Help, fishy help web ppl. Pim., Ich... Hi Neale, <Hail.> when I woke up today I was watching the pictus fish and then one of them died. He was floating at the surface upside down. I don't know why, but the other seems to be improving - swimming crazily up and down, but the fins have turned dark grey - is this fin rot? <Possibly. Finrot is usually where the fin membrane looks "dead" (grey, white, often with a pinkish tone especially at the margins). But one thing at a time. Let's deal with the Whitespot, and then we can address the Finrot (which will require some sort of medication, e.g. my preferred medication for this, eSHa 2000).> I have started doing the salt treatment like you say. Shall I raise the temp to 30 degrees? <Hmm... you're at 28C now, right? I'd go up one degree C per day just to make sure the fish adapt. As you add heat, you lose oxygen.> Fom Neervana <Cheers, Neale.>

Hi Neale, <Hello again!> I'm adding the salt a bit at a time just to make sure the fish can adapt to it - there's only one pictus in the tank now, do you think it can take the salt and not die from it? <This level of salinity is very low (about 5-10% that of seawater) and well within the tolerances of freshwater fish.> it's just that since I have added the salt it seems to have stopped swimming so fast and is now at the bottom breathing really hard. <Press on anyway. It's going to die if you don't [a] fix the Whitespot and [b] deal with the Finrot and [c] improve water quality. So all you can do is attend to those things, and then hope for the best. In any case, make sure the water is as clean as possible, doing regular water changes. Improve the aeration if possible, if only by ensuring the filter is working properly and circulating the water in the tank evenly.> I did add it very slowly. I mixed the salt with aquarium water and added a bit in each hour slowly. But the fish seems to be getting really affected by it. What if it dies? <It won't have died because you're adding a small amount of salt to the aquarium. Look to other issues.> Should I stop on continue? <Continue.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ... Pictus Fish 2/9/08 Hi Neale, <Hello,> So tomorrow I'm going to do a water change again (is this too soon or ok?), and just keep on adding bit of the salt solution every hour that I prepared. <Good.> I made it today - just added the required dosage in a bucket of aquarium water and kept it there. I really want to buy another tank. Even though I just got this 10 gallon I want it as a quarantine aquarium. I already have a 200 gallon with 2 big Bala sharks but I don't want to risk them getting infected, so I want to buy a 150-200 gallon again. <Pimelodus pictus and Bala Sharks will mix extremely well, so I'd keep them together. As you say, you need to fix the Whitespot first. That said, if the water quality on the 10-gallon tank is bad (i.e., there is nitrite there) I'd personally move the remaining Pictus to the Bala Shark 200 gallon tank, where water quality will be perfect. I'd immediately raise the salinity/temperature in that tank though, so that the Whitespot parasite can't spread to the Bala Sharks. It's important to understand how Whitespot works. It isn't a "germ" that fish catch, but a parasite that lives in one fish for a while, then swims into the water, where it turns into hundreds of infective parasites. These look for a host. If the water is salty, these infective parasites die before they find a host, and THAT is how you use salt to stop Whitespot. If you do this properly, there's ZERO risk to the Bala Sharks. If you mess up and don't do what you're meant to, then yes, the Bala Sharks could get sick.> Problem is I don't know where to buy one from, and I don't know which one is best. Would you mind telling me which one I ought to get, my pet shop does not help at all, they never know anything. <There's no "best" tank, though for a school of Pictus catfish I'd be looking at something around the 180 litre/40 gallon size. But to be honest, I'd think your catfish would be fine with the Bala Sharks.> I even had an argument with the owner once because she thought it was perfectly fine to keep SIX black ghost knife fish in a FIVE gallon aquarium together. <Hmm...> So I don't think I can trust her judgment anymore. Unfortunately that is the only petshop close to me. <Try online. Join a Tropical Fish Forum of some sort, so you can chat with other fishkeepers. This is fun, and you'll learn a lot. They'll also recommend shops. Magazines are always a good idea too. PFK has a regular "shop tour" feature where they go around the country looking at tropical fish shops.> So if you would tell me which brand or tank I could get online and where to get it I would be extremely grateful. Thanking you, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Help Hi Neale, I'm not sure whether the Whitespot has gone on the pictus or is still here, she seems better than last time (very active, has stopped breathing hard, no longer stays on the bottom but swims everywhere, fins are no longer clamped to her side) - thanks to you and the salt. <All sounds promising.> But the thing is the fin rot seems to be getting worse. Her fins have turned a dark grey now, and seems to be getting a bit pink-red. Her whiskers seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Do you think it's a good idea for me to keep on doing the salt treatment until next Wednesday and then switch to some other medication for fin rot? <You can safely use Finrot medication PLUS salt. Won't do any harm using them together. As ever, make sure you have removed carbon from the filter.> I will have to order in the eSHa 2000 then if that's the only one you think will be safe to use on her, but I will have to know now because it will take a week for me to get it. <For Finrot, I've found eSHa 2000 works well.> I've already medicated her so much with that Protozin that I would feel better if I knew I was using something mild. <In my experience, it is safe with catfish and other delicate species.> As per your instructions, the temp is now up to 30 degrees c. (did raise it slowly, one degree a day) Another thing, I have this Aquael heater in the tank, and it's got some white powder stuff at the bottom of it. When I took it out to clean it, I saw that some of the powder has gone dark brown inside the glass. Why is that? Does this means I need to buy another heater because this one won't work anymore all that powder stuff's used up? <The white stuff is likely either salt or lime, precipitating out of solution. It's quite normal, and you can wipe it away under a tap. Remember, never place a warm heater in cold water: it is liable to crack. So unplug, let it cool down, and then clean. Your fish will be fine for half an hour without the heater.> Also, tell me when to start medicating for Finrot and when to stop. <I'd start at once.> Thanks, don't know what I would do without you. Neervana. <Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help... Pim...   2/10/08 Hi Neale, I'm worried that the fish may die before I get the fin rot medicine. Do you think it will die before Monday? <I have no idea.> Its fins are nearly black, and is lined in dark pink now. If I do a water change tomorrow as well do you think it will survive until Monday evening? I'm worried because its Finrot condition seems to have become worse in a day or two. What should I do? Will the salt and water changes I have been doing help the Finrot too? <May help to some degree, but won't cure, and you *do* need to treat, and soon. You could try doing a short saltwater dip. 30 grammes salt in 1 litre of water (taken from the fish tank). Dip the fish for a couple of minutes, once or twice per day. In theory fish can be dipped for up to 20 minutes, but let's be cautious for now. The saltwater will help kill the bacteria on the fins and cleans up the wounds. Do be careful: remove the catfish if it shows signs of losing balance while being dipped. Maybe do a 1 minute dip first, and then 2 minutes a few hours later. Repeat this until you get the proper medication, at which point stop.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help... Pim... Interpet? Hi Neale, When I rang the LFS the lady who I spoke to said that it was not possible for them to get esha2000 for another two weeks and that the only medication they have for Finrot is Interpet Finrot and Fungus. I asked her if it was ok for pictus catfish and she said yes. Should I buy it? Advantage is that I can get it today and start treatment today. What do you think? Should I wait or get it? <Interpet products are usually very good. Go for it! You need to treat the catfish soon, and questions over which brand the local pet shop has are really secondary.> update: Catfish seems to be improving, does not look so stressed and is used to me cleaning the tank now. Hardly notices. <Good. Sounds as if things are improving.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Interpet? Hi Neale, Well I got the medication and added it to the tank. It doesn't say when I should keep adding it to the tank or for how long, like with the Protozin. Do you know how long I should be doing it? Should I do a water change tomorrow then add it again or leave it like that? Thanks, Neervana <Neervana -- Of course it tells you how often to add it! Read the instructions! Interpet products have both [a] instructions printed on the bottle; and [b] a little booklet in the box that tells you how to use all of their products. In most cases you have to mix the "potion" with some warm water and then evenly distribute it across the surface of the tank. The instructions will explicitly state how many doses are required. I am not familiar with this particular potion so can't tell you off the top of my head. But a few minutes spent READING THE INSTRUCTIONS is always time well spent. I would avoid doing water changes until the course of medication is finished. But obviously if the ammonia/nitrite levels are critical, do water changes. And please, don't try and get creative. Do exactly the dosing the package tells you. Have someone else read the instructions if you find them confusing. Making mistakes with medications can either have the medicine do nothing or else kill the fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pim. Help   2/11/08 Hi Neale, It's day two since I put that InterPet med in the tank. I can't see any changes in the pictus. Do you think it's working? <If used properly, yes.> Also, If my nitrite levels go high, should I do a 30% change and then add the medicine again? <Do the water change, but don't add any more medicine until the next dose in the treatment described on the leaflet.> I looked up the fungus and fin rot medicine and some people say that it can stay in the tank for as long as a week and that I should wait for a week before doing a water change. I don't think I will feed the pictus for another two days. <Fine.> But if the water does become toxic how much should I take out? <50%> When will I see changes, if any? <Assuming the bacteria are killed, fin tissue should grow back over the next few weeks.> Also, I am definitely getting another 200 gallon tank and this time housing a Black Ghost Knife fish in there, but I heard that they do not like new tank set ups. <Indeed. They are very delicate.> So how long do you think I should cycle the new one before its safe enough to put a black ghost knife in there? <Six months.> Should I be adding in anything to cycle it? <Time.> Obviously I would want a fishless cycle, as that means less heartbreak for me and a better life for the fish LOL so how long do you think I would need to let the water stay in there for? <If you're cycling with a product (e.g., Bio Spira) follow the instructions, and then stock with suitable fish to keep providing ammonia for the filter bacteria. If you cycle the tank, and then don't add any fish or feed the bacteria ammonia some other way, the bacteria obviously die. I'd cycle the tank, and then add a Plec or something.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: White Spot coming back... Pim...  2/13/08 Hi Neale, I think that the white spot has come back. I saw the catfish rubbing itself against the gravel again. I'm worried, because I can't see any spots, but it can see it flicking against the gravel. On the other hand, the fin rot seems to be going away, its fins are healing nicely. I'm just worried that the white spot is coming back, if so, what should I do? I have to do a water change tomorrow. Should I treat the pictus for white spot with the Protozin and salt? I don't want it to get white spot like last time again, but it might not have white spot. I'm not sure. I also don't want it to get to a stage when it has spots on it, then gets fin rot again. What do you think I should do? Thanks, Neervana. <Keep treating with the Finrot remedy (if required) and the Salt/Temperature protocol. Do a nice big (50%) water change when the first treatment for the Finrot finishes. You probably don't need to use the Finrot medication *unless* you think the fins are still infected. If they're clean and growing back, leave things be. The Salt/Temperature should take care of the Whitespot, and after a couple weeks you should then move it to the Bala Shark tank where water quality is better. I'm worried the TANK is making this fish sick because it is small/polluted. Cheers, Neale.>

Problem, Pim., more chatting   2-16-08 Hi Neale, I put my pictus in the Bala shark tank and I was observing her...She seems to be acting weirdly. She darts about really crazily and then sits on the gravel for a few minutes then swims in circles and then sits down again breathing rather fast. <Did you acclimate her to the new tank properly? Did you check that both tanks had the same temperature, pH, and hardness?> I don't know if there is anything wrong with her, she seems very healthy now, but can't be sure. <Assuming water chemistry/quality issues are okay, I'd not be too worried. Turn out the lights, and don't bother feeding her. Give her the night to settle in.> Why is she acting like this? <Who knows.> do Pictus catfish need rest? <Sure.> Also, I tried to feed her a pea but she just ignored it. How do I get her to eat it? <She won't be interested in food for at least 12 hours after moving tanks. Do please read some general fishkeeping books. This is a basic aspect of fish care (or indeed animal care generally). Animals HATE changes and LOATHE surprises. What they want is routine. When you take them from 'home' and dump them somewhere completely different, it takes a while for them to adjust.> Just trying to keep some veg in the diet. <Very good.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Problem  2-16-08 Hi Neale, The nitrates and nitrites are both zero in the tank, (showing up as white on the test strip) and the pH is 7.6 the pictus is just sitting down, been doing that for ages now, just breathing a bit fast and lying on the gravel. <Do check the water isn't too warm and that their is sufficient circulation to keep the bottom water mixing with the top.> Don't know what to do really.. she has been having these spasms every time she moves and swims really fast, and then stops and has that spasm thing again. What do you think this could be? <No idea.> should I move her back to the other tank? <Long past remembering the differences between all these tanks. All I can say is that my advice is to keep this fish in a mature, large aquarium with good water current and appropriate water chemistry. Also make an effort to read and learn about Pimelodidae catfish.> Thanks, Neervana <Cheers, Neale.>

Colour change, Pimelodelids  1/27/08 Hello Neale, <Neervana,> My pictus catfishes have changed colour. <They do this periodically, and as they age. Provided the fins and skin otherwise look good, don't worry too much.> I feed them a variety of food everyday, slowly I can see that they are starting to turn a metallic green - it does not look like an infection or poisoning, but I was wondering why they are changing colour. <Most fish can adjust their colours to blend in better with their environment, or at least not look so obvious to predators.> Both of them seem healthy, nothing wrong - but why the colour change? <Because they can.> Also I did a water change today and it got a little cloudy. Is it because this is a new tank? <Yes; likely silt left in the gravel. Harmless to the fish, especially if you notice it settles down after a day or so. New tanks can also get bacterial blooms. These look similar (milky/cloudy) but don't go away, however much you wait/change water. Generally settle down after a few weeks.> I did let it cycle...but maybe it hasn't fully cycled yet? <Possibly, but the only way to check is the old nitrite test kit. Everything else is guesswork.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Colour change 1/27/08 Hello Neale, <Hello,> I have only put an extremely thin lining of gravel in my tank, which I took from my old tank (200 gallon) does this matter? <If you don't have an undergravel filter, then the only substrate you *need* is just enough to cover the glass to stop reflections freaking out the fish. Whether the gravel is used or new shouldn't make a huge difference, but obviously gravel from an old tank can carry snails and potentially parasites like Whitespot into the new tank. Before you get too worried about the parasites thing: most parasites don't last for long outside the fish. So if you had Whitespot a year ago, treated it, and then everything was fine, then no, there aren't any hidden Whitespot parasites lurking in the gravel waiting to jump out.> The lady in the petshop said it didn't matter whether I put gravel in or not, the bacteria can grow in the water itself. <Virtually no bacteria either in the water itself or plain gravel. Bacteria in the filter media outnumber the bacteria everywhere else in the aquarium by literally a billion to one. They need [a] flowing water and [b] lots of oxygen. For this reason, gravel that just sits there (as opposed to gravel in an undergravel filter) isn't a place filter bacteria likes to be.> If there is only a little gravel in there, does this mean not much bacteria will grow? <Correct; but assuming you have external canister filters, this couldn't matter less.> The cloudiness is still here, even after a few hours of cleaning, does this mean it is a bacteria bloom? <Maybe. Don't worry about it. Normally settles down in a few days. If the fish are otherwise healthy, just do your water changes to dilute the problem and check the nitrite level every day or two to make sure the filter is happy.> Although, I have to admit I did forget to rinse out the sponge thing in the filter - maybe this was the cause for cloudiness? <Certainly possible. When I get cloudy water, I find changing the filter wool (the "pre-filter") in the filter helps a lot. Water changes are good, too.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

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