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FAQs on Pimelodid Catfish Health

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

This family of catfishes demands highly oxygenated, high quality water

Like other "naked catfishes" they do not appreciate dye or metal medications

Fins deteriorating. Pimelodid        9/24/16
Hello, I have a tiger shovelnose cat fish and currently he is passing away.
<Nice fish; sorry to hear you're having problems.>
Two days ago I noticed my tank had Ich. I believe it came from one of the 3 blue Acara I recently bought.
<Likely so. Be very careful about using anti-Whitespot medications. Catfish can react badly to these. I'd suggest using the old salt/heat method.>
Anyways I noticed my shovelnose fins becoming very thin and hair like, rotted away. As soon as I got home from work I went to check on him and saw that all his fins are gone, tail is gone. All he can do now is float at the top of the tank. I treated the tank with Kordon Ich attack, and put half the dose of API stress coat, and his fins are literally gone.
<See above about the Kordon Ick Attack product. I would not use with this/these fish.>
His tank mates are 4 blue Acara (one large, three small), a red tail catfish, a tiger track eel, and a Raphael catfish. I did not know if that will also affect my other fish or not. And what's the best thing I can do for them while treating the Ich?
<Salt/heat for the Whitespot; antibiotics for the Finrot.>
The tank is also a 40 gallon

<Forty gallons?! That's the big problem here! 400 gallons more realistic for this collection of fish. Not messing about here, or trying to be aggressive or rude. If your catfish (the Red Tail and the Tiger) are more than, say, three inches in length, a 40-gallon tank is ABSOLUTELY not acceptable. This/these fish need a MUCH bigger world. Adults of both
species are around 3-4 in length under aquarium conditions. Let me direct you to the PlanetCatfish website. They have an excellent forum. PLEASE join, describe your aquarium and the fish you're keeping, and let those good folks give you some specific advice with regard to tanks, filters and so on. As things stand now, you have zero chance of keeping these MONSTER catfish alive for much longer in 40 gallons. Good luck, Neale.>
re: Fins deteriorating     9/25/16

Thank you for that I have been trying to tell my boyfriend that he way over crowded his tank. But he had not believed me for months now.
<Understood. But just make sure he understands these catfish should reach a well over 12 inches in length (30 cm) within a year or so, and twice that size within two years. Growth rate slackens off a bit as they age, but still, within 4-5 years they should be fully grown, 90-120 cm/3-4 ft, and such catfish are essentially impossible to house in commercial aquaria. The
lucky specimens end up at zoos, but many wind up stunted, sick, or dead.
Cheers, Neale.>

Swollen RTC zebra shovel nose cross    3/25/15
Hello, I have a baby RTC zebra shovel nose cross breed about 4.5 inches long in a (temporary) 55 gallon aquarium. He has always acted weird by swimming upside down, positioning himself in awkward, vertical positions after eating and sometimes during the day. I keep water conditions good and a clean tank. Last night he was acting no different than usual, and this morning I awoke to him with a GIANT stomach.
<Mmm; anyone missing?>

I didn't feed him yesterday since I keep him on an every-other-day schedule, and I have no missing tank mates, and I'm used to seeing him after a big meal so I can safely eliminate a stomach full of food as a reason. It looks just like a balloon and I'm honestly afraid it is going to pop.
<Perhaps swallowed substrate...>

He's floating upside down which indicates to me to be a swim bladder issue. There's about .5-.75 inches from the water line to the top of his stomach above the water. The bulge goes from the bottom of the base of the head to a tiny bit past the anus. I had a parasite issue earlier but before I could identify the parasite and treat it (a red thing that attached to
fins and occasionally the body), it disappeared and never saw it again.
What's going on and how can I fix it?
<Got me. There are a host of issues w/ these Pimelodid crosses... Maybe send along a well-resolved image>
- Andrew
<Bob Fenner>
Re: Swollen RTC zebra shovel nose cross    3/25/15

I'm afraid to move him but I can take another photo if he moves himself.
Thank you so much
<Yikes; I'd likely administer a teaspoon of Epsom per five gallons and hope for the best. No sense placing antibiotics, antimicrobials. BobF>

Re: Swollen RTC zebra shovel nose cross    3/25/15
Thank you for the recommendation. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out but I can't say it looks promising.
<Agreed; most such cases... the animals perish>
If he did eat the substrate (fertilizing clay, definitely large enough to get stuck) could that be the issue?
<Yes; perhaps with a bacterial issue subsequent>
I feed him bits of various meats,
<... what sorts? Have you read on WWM re the family?>
but i also feed the other tank mates pellets, and I've seen him get aroused by the smell of the pellets. Is it possible he caught the scent of one that fell to the bottom and tried to eat it along with the substrate?
And if so, is there really anything I can do?
<The MgSO4... time going by; good water quality. Bob Fenner>

Re: Swollen RTC zebra shovel nose cross      3/26/15
Hello again. I move him to a smaller more manageable tank, but used about 60% of the previous tank's water to prevent (or at least diminish) any sort of shock from water change.
I added two teaspoons of Epsom salt (it's a 10 gallon tank). I noticed a hard protruding "thing" here, directly in front of the skewer. I didn't know if it was a bone of some sort or cartilage, or if it was potentially something harmful.
<One of the bones of the throat. DO monitor water quality... RUN bio-filtration... NO ammonia or nitrite. Bob Fenner>

Re: Swollen RTC zebra shovel nose cross      3/26/15
I can't express my appreciation enough. Thank you SO much for the help.
<Welcome. B>

Fin Erosion Not Necrosis in Leiarius Pictus      ‏            11/9/14
Hello Crew,
I have a 24 inch Leiarius Pictus in a 8ftX 4ftX 3ft aquarium as the sole inhabitant. I purchased the fish at 5-6 inches with perfect fins. After purchase I treated the fish with Metronidazole
<Wouldn't use this as a preventative... too hard on the animals>
and Praziquantel on a prophylactic basis. Later on a course of Kanamycin was given with no results. The pH is 6.8 nitrate is 5-10, nitrite ammonia are zero. Total hardness is 80. All of the water is made from an r/o and
stabilized with equilibrium by Seachem. The fish is fed Hikari Massivore, Paradigm Carnivore and New Era Pellets. On a daily basis until the abdomen is slightly rounded. Despite the above the fish has developed dorsal fin
I call it this because their is no raggedness reddened or whitish areas on the fin just erosion. Also I would say 95% plus of the pictures of non juvenile Leiarius Pictus on Google Images have this same abnormality to
varying degrees. Could this be nutritional as or some other etiology? If so any suggestions?
<Could be nutritional... some aspect/s of water quality; or simply genetics. Have seen such in many large captive and wild Pimelodids; I would not be concerned given the data you present. 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.>

Please help (Red-tail Catfish not doing well; need more data)  11/19/10
I was reading through your forums, and it seams you know a lot about red tail catfish, so I was hoping you could help me with my fish Whiskers. I've had him about eight months and it has been challenging to say the least. I was keeping him in a 55 gal. aquarium, but he started getting to big for it so I bought a 240 gal. tank, the only filtering is through over flow's which go to a 100 gal. sump under the tank. I ordered two external canister filters, each good for 150 gal. tanks. They should be here in three or four days, but I'm afraid he wont make it that long. I noticed all my fish rubbing against rocks and gravel more and more the last few days. it started after I brought home two fish from the fish store, which one died after his eye started protruding from his head. Any way Whiskers is not eating, I usually feed him earth worms. He's floating head up, tail down and seams weak. He also has red patches around his lips and under side, and
now he's losing his color on his back, its turning grayish white. I treated the tank for white spots, since then I have removed him to a separate container ( about35 gal. ) added a air stone and a small pump on bottom to keep water moving on bottom. and put in some medicine for septicemia. It's a new tank and I put them in to soon, the second day ( I did add the water from the old tank to the new one ). What can I do in addition to what I have already done to help him? any advice would be greatly appreciated.
<Don, the most important thing to know about Red-tail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) is this -- they are unsuitable for home aquaria. Once you understand that virtually no hobbyist can provide the
space and filtration they need, everything else becomes obvious. Whatever else is wrong with this catfish, its environment is almost certainly the root cause. Let's review things from the top. Even a specimen around 30 cm/12 inches long will need 150-200 gallons, and an adult is realistically only going to be "happy" in something much, much larger; even 1000 gallons is a puddle for a fish like this, and barely acceptable. Filtration must be very substantial, with turnover rates of at least 10 times the volume of the tank per hour. So for 240 gallon tank with 100 gallon sump, i.e., 340 gallons altogether, we're talking 3,400 gallons/hour. So a big canister filter like an Eheim 2217 with a turnover rate around 250 gallons/hour will provide only the tiniest fraction of what's needed. You'd actually need about fourteen Eheim 2217s to get the sorts of filtration rate considered optimal for a catfish this size! As should be obvious, you won't be using off-the-shelf filters, but rather pond-grade filters equipped with very heavy duty pumps. Forget about the idea of using two canister filters each meant for 150 gallon tanks -- that's 150 gallons stocked with small fish like barbs or perhaps Mbuna cichlids -- not a catfish the size of a large dog! To be sure, once tanks get into the high hundreds in volume, the turnover rate can be reduced somewhat, so its more in line with a pond than an aquarium, but the fact remains that without massive filtration, these catfish rarely live for long. What else? Water chemistry isn't terribly important, but water quality is critical. 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite are essential, but nitrate levels must also be low, 20 mg/l or less. Water temperature is another often overlooked aspect of their care. Like most of the large Pimelodids, these catfish live in deep rivers that are cooler than the shallow streams inhabited by tetras and cichlids. You're aiming for 22-24 C/72-75 F. As for diet, like other predators you need to create a safe and varied menu. Live feeder fish must be avoided. Use them even once, and you risk exposing your catfish to parasitic infections. Use them repeatedly and thiaminase and fat become major problems. So, no goldfish or minnows! These catfish are actually fairly omnivorous and take good quality catfish pellets without complaint. They also enjoy strips of tilapia fillet and trout, and if used sparingly, prawns and mussels are acceptable, despite containing a lot of thiaminase. Fruits are a significant part of its diet in the wild, and things like cooked peas and soft fruit can be offered now and again, ideally after a period of fasting. These offer not just fibre but also vitamins lacking in meaty foods. There are two schools of thought when it comes to feeding big catfish. One recommends feeding fairly large meals very occasionally, in some cases once a week. Others prefer to offer very small meals daily. I tend to favour the latter approach simply because it minimises any problems with regurgitation, a fairly common occurrence among large catfish. Either way, the aim is to avoid overfeeding. Healthy catfish should be rounded but should not look like they have swollen bellies. If you catfish is obviously fat or bloated, or its stomach pokes out from its slightly convex underside, then you've fed it too much. Anything else? Yes! Like all Pimelodids, this catfish is sensitive to copper and formalin, so medications should be used very carefully. When treating Whitespot, use the salt/heat method instead. Use antibiotics for treating Finrot. Supplementary aeration is very useful when medicating sick catfish. All catfish are prone to burns, so either keep the heater out of the tank or secure it behind a heater guard. One last thing. Although these are apex predators in the wild and territorial among their own kind, they are not especially aggressive, and can in fact be nipped or bullied by other fish. Choose tankmates with supreme care. Bottom line, your catfish is indeed sick, likely a combination of environmental stress, secondary bacterial infection, and perhaps poisoning through misuse of medications. It may recover given optimal living conditions and suitable antibiotics, plus a varied diet as described above, but do please understand almost no-one in the hobby has the wealth or space to keep this gigantic catfish happy for long. Here in England the Maidenhead Aquatic chain does good work rehoming these catfish, so if you live in the UK, a phone call to your local branch might be helpful. Otherwise, animal rescue, public aquaria and aquarium clubs might be able to provide a similar service. Hope this helps, and good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

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 Gouramis, 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.>

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.>

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.>

Stinger is sick :( can you help? (Pimelodid on the skids) <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> we have a catfish and after much research have determined that he is a Leiarius marmoratus (by counting his dorsal fin rays and ruling out the Perrunichthys perruno)<<This is an "old name" for the same species. RMF>> his name is stinger. we were treating his tankmates for ick (dread) and the medicine that we used said that it was safe for to use on him... unfortunately he had a BAD reaction to the medicine he lost his long whiskers which turned to a mushy white and fell off, also he has a large "open wound" near his tail where all the skin has come off. He was in an 80 gallon tank but I moved him to a 5 gallon tank so I could treat him better (we are treating him with Melafix) and he seems to be doing better. he is our favorite fish is there anything else that we can do for him? please please help if you can <<I would just make sure you change the water in that 5g tank frequently... keep it clean, and keep up the observation. I would agree that you Ich treatment is what started his decline and removing the fish to a separate tank was a wise decision. I'd keep this up until the wound has healed. In the future, rather than treating your entire display system, remove only the sick fish to separate tanks where you can treat them individually and not subject the entire display to the troubles that arise from most Ich treatments.>> ~Gina, matt and stinger! <<Cheers, J -- >>

Just bought a 2.5" red tail baby Amazon catfish 3 days ago, <decided to get a tank buster eh?  These grow to be enormous fish in a relatively short amount of time.  I've wanted one myself for a long time, just haven't had a tank that could house them properly. > he was fine the first 2 days, then started 'floating around' the tank, without swimming.. kinda like he's dying...kinda letting the current take him, <these fish are bottom dwelling, and floating of any kind is not good.> this is a small 5 gallon tank, was setup 1 month ago, 3 weeks ago got 3 zebra tetras / 2" Pleco / whole bunch of good established gravel and they are doing great. <They maybe doing great but that tank is way too small for all of those fish.  Pleco's and Catfish are very messy fish!  The water parameters can become bad fast with the amount of waste these fish are producing!> 75-78 degrees, ph 7.0-6.8..he is also kinda breathing harder, if you try and touch him with your finger, he'll try to escape. but he just floats around. when he looks more coherent sometimes he is upside down. Hadn't eaten, but looks like he just ate a shrimp (freeze dried 1 cm long shrimps). <I suggest you get your larger tank up and running very soon! This tank is not going to work for these fish! What you need to purchase is Freshwater Test Kits.  These will tell you the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in your tank.  With high ammonia and nitrite levels it effects the fish's breathing.  Ammonia damages the gills, and nitrite hinders the fish's body from using the oxygen from the water.  The water parameters must be at Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate being as close to zero as possible.> I'm calling the fish store, but was wondering if this is totally bad. the tank should be ok <No, it's not okay.  way to small.  It's like keeping an elephant in spare bed room.  Just because it fits inside doesn't mean it's okay.> (by the way, he's moving in 2 months to a 55 gallon and then a 200 gallon at least to start with, then a pond eventually.) <that is a good plan, but you should have gotten this fish when you had the larger tank ready.  Don't put the cart before the horse.  have the environment ready for the animal, it's easier on you and the fish.> Have wanted one of these for years, please help, only 3 days in !!! --Dave <I've wanted these myself, but realized that they can become monster sized, and need a home to fit their needs.  See if your Local fish store will hold the fish for you as you get your larger tank set up. You will need to do some water changes on this 5 gallon to help bring the water levels back to normal this will help.  during this time you will need to start setting up the larger tank  for him.  good luck and remember to research and have things ready well in advance before purchasing any animal. -Magnus.>

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>>

Big Cat, Poor Water Hello its Me Again. <Hi Mr. Again, Don here> I would like to know what I should do since my 7 year old Sorubim lima has a red spot on the tip of it's head. What should I do? I have removed what I think caused it. Also every so often it's upper barbels turn white and frays. For that I normally a water change and it fixes that problem. Should I do the same thing? Or what? Help!!!!! Thanks for your help CJ <Well CJ, you should be doing water changes before conditions cause his barbels to fray. I suggest you test the tank for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. In a well established tank ammonia and nitrite will remain at zero. Do water changes to correct any spikes. Nitrates should be below 20ppm. As long as ammonia and nitrite are at zero, set up a water change schedule that keeps nitrates below 20ppm. If the red spot on his head was caused by a bump, the fresh water is all he will need to heal. Nice fish BTW, good luck with him. Don>

Eye Problems in QT Hi, this is Alvin here. I have a question regarding the Limas shovel nose catfish. I bought it a week ago and it has been in my quarantine tank since. However I noticed that one of its eye is enlarged. It does not seem like pop eye as the eye is just enlarged, not swollen. I am rather puzzled, have never seen anything like this before. Hope you can give me some advice. Thank you. Alvin <Hi Alvin, Don here. Cool fish, hope you have a big tank. Have you been testing the QT? Changing the water? Most eye problems start with poor water conditions, which are common in a QT. I'm not sure what you mean by "enlarged, but not swollen" but I would do a large water change and add some Epsom salt>

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> 

Redtail Catfish death, is a GSP the Culprit? Our South American Redtail Catfish looked like it went into shock, and eventually died awhile later. We have a green spotted puffer in the tank too, is the puffer poisonous, and could he have killed the catfish? The catfish was a very good size, a lot larger than the puffer. Ricardo & Stephanie <GSP's are not "that" toxic... the cause of death very likely unrelated. Most often Phractocephalus die from mis-feeding (feeder goldfish, or choking on another too-large, spiny fish), or "jump out"... Bob Fenner> 

Body slime and eye cloud 10/7/05 I have a 2 Sorubim lima, an Oscar, a Pleco, and a Synodontis nigrita. The 2 Sorubims have a body slime infection (the color of the slime is clear). One of the Sorubims has eye cloud. <What cause/s?> The Oscar I haven't noticed a body slime infection yet but he only moves when there is food (not feeders) in the water. The Pleco and the Syno. seem to be unaffected. Also there was an albino Pictus cat in the tank and a tire track eel in the tank as well but they died (I think from the body slime). <These fishes were/are not compatible> The fish who have been affected by the body slime appear to have a problem keeping buoyancy (the fish almost have to swim upside down), they swim near the top of the tank, and a few days later die. Can you offer any advice/treatments. Thanks CJ <You're joking? What about the system? Its history? Water quality tests? Please read through WWM FW Subweb re disease... Bob Fenner> 

Re: body slime and eye cloud 10/9/05 A 55 gallon tank <Too small> ...with some bog- wood and no plants (know it's small but a 110 gallon tank is going to be ordered from a local dealer a Monday). PH. 7.6, <Too high for Sorubim> nitrite 0,ammonia 8.0, <What? Toxic!> and my nitrate is a constant 80ppm. <Way too high... s/b below 20 ppm> The ammonia is high because of the medication I am using. The only disease that has been in this tank was septicemia {septicemia?} which happened 5 years ago. <I do hope you're joking here... fix this environment, quick. 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>

RTC with bloat or dropsy? HELP!!! Phractocephalus  12/20/2005 I have a 2 ft long RTC in a 400gallon aquarium. Recently his stomach has swollen many times its original size and I do not know if this means that he is suffering from dropsy or bloat. <Could be n/either... but... from what cause? Most such symptoms are from mis- and over-feeding in this large pimelodid> He is still very hungry and the distended stomach appeared just one morning, subsided the next, and reappeared at night, all while I did not put any food in the tank! <Are all tankmates accounted for?> He appears distressed and has turned rather dark in colour, and there is some bleeding at his stomach. How do I treat him or tell if he has been infected by bacteria? Help please!!! <This fish can/could be injected with antibiotics... in a timely manner... but need to know much more re the system, water make-up, maintenance, foods/feeding to proffer an opinion. Bob Fenner>

Large FW Catfish fed feeders... I just found out you guys existed! Boy I could have used your help a long time ago. I didn't really have a question for ya, but wanted to tell you a story. I know you hear this a lot but I was also the victim of poor pet store knowledge (more than once) and ended up with a Pseudoplatystoma  corruscans (shovelnose catfish). <Cool cat, but very large with a larger mouth> The guy told me at the store that at about 6 inches the little guy was pretty much full grown. <LOL> I know now that that was completely false. Anyway we kept the little fella in our 33 gallon and he is was one of my favorites in the tank. Loved to eat and has really unique patterns. We were planning on keeping him till he got closer to a foot long. Unfortunately he never made it that far, he inherited what I think was a bacterial disease from some feeder comets, <Please, Please, PLEASE! No feeders unless you're willing to QT them. Garden worms and human seafood (shrimp, mussels, etc.) is far safer for these large cats.> even though we wouldn't have had him for very long I was really mad that he died so quickly (3 months). He quit moving around and had his feelers pulled back to his side. A usually quite knowledgeable fish keeper told us to just let it ride for a couple of days, thinking he might just be shedding, <Shedding??? Catfish don't shed there skin>> since he was the only one in the tank that was sick. He died the next morning. The other fish I was misinformed about is our fire eel. He lives in the same 33 gallon tank (don't worry I've treated the tank with Pimafix because whatever the catfish had it affected our leopard leaf fish, he got some body slime and cloudy eye but everyone is healthy now) and looking at your website I found out that he may get 2-4 feet long. The pet store told me he would be max a foot and a half. Right now he is just about a foot long and happily resides under a large piece of driftwood, coming out at night and to eat out of my hand, he loves frozen shrimp!<Great, safe food. But vary it somewhat.> I was wondering how long it will take for him to get too big for the tank and have to be given away. <Not really sure.> I'll miss him but it's not fair to cage him in such a small tank. <True> Will he really get 4 feet in captivity <possible, over 3 for sure.> or could we maybe get away with keeping him in a 100 gallon or more? <Would surely allow you to keep him far longer. Min. recommended size is around 80 gallons. Upgrade your plan to a 125 or 150 and you could have him for life.> Sorry to write you a novel. Pet stores should be forced to have accurately knowledgeable staff, the losers are the poor fish and pissed off purchasers. Don't rush to write me back, Amber <Don>

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>

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 pet shop 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 pet shop 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.>

911 Redtail Catfish losing flesh!  7/20/08 I have 3 red tail catfish. One started floating upside down so I moved him to another tank. The other two are still healthy. The sick one is now losing his flesh. It is attached but it is floating in a big chunk. His eye is cloudy and it look at first as if he had ick. I treated him with parasite medication. At first he seemed to get better but then got worse. Now he is losing his flesh but he is still alive. I'm assuming it is hopeless for this one but what could cause this? Rochelle <Rochelle, there are two obvious problems here. Firstly, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus is a territorial species that will attack and kill any fish it views as a rival -- especially its own species. To keep more than one specimen would require a tank something bigger than a swimming pool! So your fish may simply be attacking one another. Secondly, these fish are hugely sensitive to poor water quality, and parasitic infections are highly likely related to these fish being kept in inadequate conditions (as is almost certainly the case). These fish grow to well over 1 m in length and require massive tanks with prodigious filtration, as well as extremely careful control of how much food they receive. Please let me have more information on the size of these fish and more important the aquarium. In the short term though you will need to isolate all three specimens in their own tanks containing not less than 200 gallons of water each, provided with filters rated at not less than 2000 gallons per hour, and perform not less than 50% water changes weekly. Stop feeding. Treat all fish with an appropriate antibacterial or antibiotic such as eSHa 2000 or Maracyn. The fish with a chunk bitten off from it may need veterinarian attention depending on the damage; you will certainly need to clean the wound and determine whether it is better to painlessly destroy the fish or treat it. Let me be crystal clear about this: Phractocephalus hemioliopterus is not a viable choice for the home aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

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