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FAQs on Platy Diseases/Health 4

Related Articles: Platies, Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Platy Disease 1, Platy Disease 2, Platy Disease 3, Platy Disease 5, Platy Health 6, Platy Health 7, Platy Health 8, Platy Health 9, Platy Health 10, Platy Health 11, & Platies 1, Platies 2, Platy Identification, Platy Behavior, Platy Compatibility, Platy Selection, Platy Systems, Platy Feeding, Platy Reproduction, Livebearers, Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies

Frantic for my platy 1/15/08 My name is Tammy, <Hello Tammy,> I have had a female White Mickey Mouse platy for about two weeks now. She was so big when I got her I figured she would have her babies that night I brought her home. She didn't have them. Instead a red velvet swordtail had hers. She had about 27. <A pretty good haul! Have fun raising them!> I thought she got smaller for a day or two but it seems she is still huge. She still has her gravid spot and her tummy is getting square at the bottom again. The one thing that worries me is she has like two little pokey looking protrusions coming out of her anal area and they have been there for the whole two weeks. <Ah, assuming these aren't babies, which wouldn't be there for two weeks, there are two things that typically stick out the anus of small fish: faeces and Camallanus worms. Constipation is very common in livebearers because people often overlook the critical fact that most livebearers are herbivores (at least to some degree) and need lots of greens in their diet. Algae is ideal, but there are livebearer flake foods on the market that do the trick, as will things like Sushi Nori and crushed tinned peas. Just as in humans, if they don't get enough fibre in their diet, things get "all blocked up" inside their digestive tract. The other problem is Camallanus worms, a sort of internal parasitic nematode. These look like smooth, short or long, pointy-headed threads. To fix this you need to use a specific treatment for de-worming fish, such as Levamisole or Flubenol 15. Note that in some countries Levamisole is not available over the counter, and you'll need to get it from a vet.> I am very worried as earlier I thought they were babies coming out tail first. She is more energetic now than the first week I had her but the protrusions are still there. I don't understand this at all. Can they be a double headed or Siamese type baby stuck in the canal?? <Possible but unlikely.> Please help me regarding this part of my email asap I am frantic as I don't want to loose her she's so beautiful. <Hope this helps, Neale.> The picture I attached was from a week ago and I couldn't get her still long enough to get the picture of the fin like protrusions. <Far too blurry to see anything at all.>

Dwarf platies dying  12/18/07 Hi, <Hello there> Your website is great. I have a problem with my dwarf platys, they are dying at the rate of one or two a month. Here is the information on my tank: 20 gallons three adult mollies (1 male 2 females) 12 dwarf platys about 1 year old (all from the same parents) 1 bamboo shrimp Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 15 PH 7.8 Temperature 80 <The last two are a bit high...> I perform a 15% water change every week, vacuum the gravel at the same time and I rinse out the filter media in some tank water once a month. The fish are fed once a day, a small quantity of flake food. They get romaine lettuce leaves <Do rinse this well... I would also "blanch" it in some water in a microwave before offering... to dilute possible fertilizer as well as soften...> or zucchini to snack on once or twice a week. At first the platys who were dying were all pregnant females. since they are very small, less than 1 inch, I thought they were having trouble giving birth. Now the males are starting to die. They seem perfectly healthy, eating normally and swimming around as usual. Then one of them starts staying at the bottom of the tank in some hidden corner and a day or two later they are dead. They have no visible sigh of illness, no scratching to indicate parasites. I'm completely baffled by what's happening to my tank, I now have on 6 platys left from the 12. I hope you can help me solve this mystery. Thanking you in advance Edie <Perhaps a protozoan... maybe even Columnaris... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Platy fish problem -- 11/16/07 Dear WetWebMedia Crew, I have many Platy fry that range from two weeks to two months old. A few of the fry have very noticeable crooked or "S" shaped tails. Is this condition a genetic defect of some sort or perhaps a condition that is out grown? What do you normally recommend for this type of condition. Thank you as always for your input and great website. Glen <Hi Glen. A certain proportion of most livebearer broods will be deformed in some way, and crooked spines are common. There's nothing you can do to treat this, and the most humane thing is to destroy the fish. They won't heal, and very often fade away slowly as they mature. Now, the actual proportion of deformed fry does depend on certain factors. Inbreeding is the key one. If you want to breed, say, Sunset Platies, it's a good idea to go buy males from one store and females from another. That'll mix up the genes more than buying both sexes from a single batch of fish. Diet is another critical factor. Just as with humans, the Platy mom needs to get the right diet before and during gestation to ensure optimal health. Since Platies are herbivores, this means lots of algae and green foods and not too much regular flake! Stress is the third factor. If the females are harassed, the chances of premature parturition increase, and undersized fry are more likely to develop improperly. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Problem  11/12/07 Hi WWM Crew, I have a two week old 20 gallon tank currently going through the usual start up cycle but I'm changing water regularly and doing everything I need to get the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels as they should be. So far all is going well with my four platys but I have noticed one has developed a severe head shake. I have found answers about twitching, shaking, flicking against rocks etc but this seems different. Just a very rapid twitching, almost vibrating of the head for a few seconds'¦then it stops and my poor little platy looks a bit bewildered before swimming of as if nothing has happened. Also my female platy went through a phase of tensing all her fins and straining her body but this seems to have passed. Before going into too much detail about water condition etc I was wondering if there as anything specific that could cause this kind of shaking other than general start up water conditions or parasites. Thanks for your time, Ruth <Ruth, what you're describing is the "Shimmies", a catch-all name that describes neurological problems caused by poor water quality. Imagine a human getting dizzy from carbon monoxide poisoning, and you have a pretty fair analogy of what's going on here. While classically associated with Mollies, which are incredibly intolerant of pollution when kept in freshwater tanks, most fish can exhibit Shimmy-like symptoms if unfortunate enough to find themselves in the wrong water conditions. Ammonia and nitrite are the #1 causes, but too-cold water will cause similar problems in Cichlids, for example. In any event, the solution is simple enough: restore good water quality. If you're cycling a new tank with fish, you should be doing daily water changes. Anything less is signing their death warrant. Minimum, 25% per day, but ideally double that. For the first 4 weeks these regular water changes will dilute the ammonia and nitrite sufficiently that the fish will come through the cycling phase. Once you find ammonia and nitrite are both consistently low (and ammonia has to be zero, and nitrite no more than 0.5 mg/l) you can relax the water changes to a couple per week. After 6 weeks, the tank should be cycled. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Platy Problem  11/13/07 Thanks for the reply Neale. I thought my fish problem was due to the water quality so everything you say makes sense to me. I've been doing 20 percent water changes, more after a pea or spinach dinner!! every day but didn't want to change too much water each time in-case I was slowing down or stopping the start up cycle. Many websites only recommend a 20 percent change. Now I know it's the "shimmies" I'll certainly change more water each time. My platy seems a lot better today and hopefully will continue to thrive. Thanks again for the advice and thanks to the rest of the crew for running a great website. Regards, Ruth and the Platys <Good luck Ruth. Yes, water changes are the way to go when cycling with fish. You really can't do to many. Keep the ammonia as low as possible, and by the end of the month you should be fine. Platies generally come through the cycling process well, and you may well find some baby Platies swimming about as well! Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Problem  10/12/07 Hi! <Hello> I have a platy (I think it is male) that has something weird coming out of around its anal fin. I am used to seeing my fish have strands of poop that hang on for a while, but this one is weird. It is about the size of the circumference of my fish's eye, and it is gooey. Could this be part of the fish itself that is coming out of its body? <This is a possibility> Or is it just a reaction to constipation? <Perhaps both> One of my platies had babies last week (they are in a separate tank now).. could this be a reaction to that? <Again, could be a case of a prolapsed colon...> I have never seen anything like this. Should I separate it from the other platies in the tank and treat it (if so, what should I use?), or do you think it is fine? I appreciate any help you could give me. Thanks, Becky <Best to likely hold off for now... and simply observe this fish... and read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs3.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Platy fish problem   9/28/07 Hello Wet Web Media, Thank you for your great web site. I have a six gallon Eclipse aquarium set up for about three months now. I just tested the water and have ph at 7.6, ammonia at 0, nitrites at 0, nitrates at 40. I do about a 20% water change each week. I have 7 platys, 5 dwarf platys and 2 regular size. There are five females and two males. Here is my problem. The smaller of the two males has just stopped eating and is either hiding in a small castle or stays in the upper or lower part of the aquarium. His exterior looks fine. Nothing noticeable like ick. No clamped fins. I just started treating the water with Aquari-sol but his condition is getting worse since he is getting skinny from not eating. Do you have any suggestions? He was very active chasing the girls until now. He was chased occasionally by the older male but that was only when they were close to each other. Thanks for your help. Glen <Glen, when a fish "goes off its food" the causes can be varied, so it's difficult to say what precisely is happening. Your water sounds fine, though you don't mention water hardness. Platies like hard water -- the harder the better! Aim for at least 10 degrees dH, and ideally more. You could also stand to increase your water changes, to at least 50% weekly. Your tank is so small that the fish are not going to be healthy otherwise. I should perhaps mention that these fishes need something around 20 gallons to be comfortable. A 6 gallon tank just isn't adequate. It's no bigger than a bucket. Given the small size of the tank, my money would be on the smaller male being simply harassed by the larger, and stressed as a result. Upshot: it won't come out and feed. This is quite common. Social behaviour varies, so simply because they used to tolerate one another doesn't mean they still do. Another thing people get wrong with platies is diet: they are herbivores. Make sure you are providing a primarily plant-based diet. Standard aquarium flake is NOT acceptable! You can use things like livebearer flake or Spirulina flake as a staple, and augment with meaty foods like daphnia and bloodworms a couple times per week. Insufficient plant material causes digestive problems, one of which is a simply lack of vigour. Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Platy fish problem -- 09/29/07 Hi, thank you for your feedback. I put the larger male in another six gallon aquarium that I have. That aquarium has a breeder container with 25+ fry about two weeks old. I hope to get a larger aquarium soon. I just bought some Nutrafin Max Spirulina Algae flake food. I looked at the Omega Veggie flakes but the beginning ingredients have fish in them (salmon, etc.). Did not sound very veggie so I did not get it. <Good call. Feeding meaty flake food to vegetarian fish is comparable to giving steak to a sheep. You just know it isn't going to work out! Better still, the more veggies livebearers get, the brighter their colours and the healthier their broods of babies.> Could you please tell me what works best for platy's that flick/scratch themselves. <Possibly whitespot (ick). Look for small white grains to the body and fins. Sometimes you won't see the parasites because they're on the gills. While it is normal for fish to "have a scratch" everyone once in a while, just like any other animal, if they're doing this regularly, treat for whitespot just in case. Be sure and remove any carbon from the filter before doing so.> I currently use API Stress Coat and add salt for each water change. <Platies don't need salt. It won't harm them, but they don't need it. If you feel the burning desire to add *something* to the water, try getting a box of Malawi salts instead. These will raise the pH and hardness -- two things platies appreciate MUCH MORE than salinity.> The water temperature is minimum 76 degrees. <That's fine.> Thanks for your insight. <No problems. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Platy fish problem -- 9/29/07 Dear Neale, <Glen,> Thank you again. If I may ask one more question. I fed the platies for the first time bloodworms a week ago. This has seemed to bring out a high level of aggression. <I guess they liked them!> The larger platy is aggressively nosing the others away during and after feeding time. <Normal behaviour. Platies are not schooling fish. In the wild they congregate in groups to feed, and each male attempts to dominate the group, driving away rival males. In the aquarium females tend to coexist happily enough, but males are always aggressive to some degree. This is complicated by the fact that all commercially farmed platies are in fact platy/swordtail hybrids. Swordtails are a step up the aggression scale, so any platy with more than the usual amount of swordtail DNA is likely to be bigger and more waspish in temperament that his tankmates.> Even a day or two later. The more passive smaller platy are now picking on other tank mates. Am I right not to feed them bloodworms anymore? <Provided the fishes aren't actually harming one another, for example by damaging each other's fins, then I wouldn't worry about it too much. It is true that live food sometimes brings out "the worst" in fish. Perhaps this is connected with the fact that an abundance of insect larvae is often a spawning trigger in the wild, indicating the wet season and a time to fatten up and make babies! With many fish, switching from flake to live food "conditions" them for spawning. Anyway, perhaps this works by getting the males more "in the mood" than would otherwise be the case (hard to imagine with platies, since they seem to be in the mood 24/7, but what the heck). In other words, I have no idea why this happened, but I wouldn't worry about it either. Stick to giving live food once a week, and see if they settle down between those meals.> Thanks again, Glen <Hope this helps, Neale>

Platyfish health   9/23/07 Hi I'm new to the Aquarium Hobby keeping. I am enjoying it, however there is obviously so much i need to learn. My question is very short and simple, may be a silly question but never the less I need to have it answered. I have PLATY. The fish is red with Black fins. It has a piece of string hanging from it which i do understand is waste. How do i get rid of that? The tank is a 20 gallon tank.. Currently i only have one platy in there, i did have five, but unfortunately the other four died. i tried everything, water changes daily, etc etc. My question is, how often should i be changing the water? Also when i do change the water I change about a quarter of the tank. When the water tank consists of a quarter of a tank, how much water conditioner should i be putting in the new fresh water? Also how much bio support should i be adding to the new water change.? Thank you for the opportunity in being able to ask this question. <Greetings. The faeces will fall away by themselves. But they shouldn't be there! What are you feeding this fish? May I remind you that Platyfish are herbivores. They do not do well on regular aquarium flake. Instead, give them "vegetarian fish" flake food. This is made from algae, and suits them very well as a staple. You can also give them a certain amount of things like live daphnia, but plant food should be the staple. Algae, like Sushi Nori, is very popular with them, as are thin slices of things like courgette and cucumber. If you lost 4 from 5 platies, you clearly didn't "do everything". What are your local water conditions? Platies are hardwater fish -- they need water with a carbonate hardness of 10 degrees KH upwards. Such a tank will have a pH around 7.5. Adding salt, though often suggested, will not help at all. How long has the tank been set up? A tank takes about 6 weeks to mature, and before that point the ammonia excreted by the fish accumulates and will eventually kill the fish. During the first 6 weeks, I heartily recommend doing 25% water changes every day or two. After the 6 weeks are up, you can do 50% water changes weekly for best results. Make sure you ALWAYS add dechlorinator. Assuming you don't kill your filter bacteria (e.g., by washing the media under a tap!) you don't need to do anything to the "bio support" -- it all happens in the background by itself. Be sure you read the articles here for beginners to fishkeeping. It's not a difficult hobby, but it is VERY easy to make mistakes and end up killing most of your fish (as you did here). Hope this helps, Neale> Re: Platyfish health  9/23/07 Hi, I sincerely appreciate your advice. I will do the water changes daily However i how much WATER CONDITIONER should i be adding to the fresh water? The bio support you are saying i do not need to add? And yes, i ran the tank for two weeks prior to adding the fish. I will also change the fish food. <Greetings. Add precisely as much water conditioner to each new bucket of water as it says on the bottle. Simple as that. Adding "filter boosters" and the like with each water change is not required, and a waste of money in most cases. The bacteria get into the filter all by themselves, and after six weeks will be well established. Adding stuff to jump start a filter (such as Bio Spira and Tetra Safe Start) is different, and used correctly when you *set up the aquarium* they can be useful. But you still don't need to keep adding them with each water change. Good luck, Neale>

Symptoms not yet described in platy    9/16/07 <<Good morning. Tom here.>> My daughter has ten gallon tank with 3 small platys: red Dalmatian female, red wag female, and Mickey mouse male as well as a Dalmatian molly female and a red Dalmatian molly, although he's more yellow than red. <<Okay.>> The red Dalmatian molly started having difficulty eating and now has white to clear stringy feces. Also, my daughter insists she looks blacker around the mouth. Tonight we added malachite green and a natural antibacterial. We are concerned we overdid the malachite green. Have we harmed them? <<Given the characteristics of Malachite Green, this is completely possible but difficult to qualify/quantify on my end without knowing the specifics/dosages.>> Also, we fed frozen bloodworms which the red Dalmatian ate! <<A good sign, certainly. In the case of very sick fish, even favorite foods are typically ignored.>> However, we slipped and a fair amount went in the tank. How harmful is one overfeeding? <<Not very provided the uneaten food is removed to prevent contaminating the tank water. Again, though, overfeeding is a somewhat subjective term. Was this a matter of a few extra bloodworms or were enough dumped into the tank to feed 20 fish? I think you see what I mean.>> Is there anything we can do about these problems? <<The overfeeding doesn't constitute a 'problem'. Just a mishap that can be easily remedied with some clean-up. As for the Malachite Green, I'd place activated carbon in the filter immediately to remove the medication. This chemical wouldn't have been my choice based on what you described regarding the fish. Intestinal issues would be better treated with a medication such as Metronidazole particularly if the fish will still eat.>> We have checked water quality and it has remained stable since we established the tank and it cycled (around Christmas). She syphons weekly. <<Very good on both counts. You might find that large water changes on a weekly basis will do as much for your Molly as medicating, anyway. The other fish will be stressed by the medication, as well, which is never good. Something you'll want to be aware of is that Mollies do better in brackish water conditions than in a pure freshwater environment. Their immune systems will be greatly bolstered in brackish conditions which can head off potential problems before they arise.>> I searched for an hour, but just couldn't find the answers to these questions, although they are likely there. Thanks for your help! She is very attached to these fish. <<I understand. Remove the medications as I suggested and simply observe for a short time. We don't want to be too conservative but the fish were hit with a toxic medication -- possibly overdosed with it - and I'd like to see things settle out for a bit before subjecting them to another round of anything. Stay on top of the water changes. Best of luck. Tom>>

Re: Symptoms not yet described in platy    9/16/07 Tom, <<Ladies.>> Thanks so much for your quick reply!! Obviously I was very tired when I wrote as I meant it was the red Dalmatian PLATY who is under the weather. <<I confess that a Red Dalmatian Molly was a new one on me. :) >> I'm assuming treatment is much the same. <<Correct.>> So far, all are swimming and do not seem stressed. My daughter fed flakes last night as we read the bloodworms should not be fed daily. <<Also correct.>> She reduced the amount due to the slippage of the night before. The platy just kept spitting them out. Would you recommend bloodworms again since she ate those? <<If she's eating the bloodworms, I'd stick with these for the time being. Better that she's eating any type of food than to concern yourselves over what type just now.>> Also, we will try the Metronidazole as you suggest. <<Good.>> Would you also recommend discontinuing the melafix? Can it be used in conjunction with the Metronidazole? <<Since I don't believe the Melafix will be effective, I'd prefer that you discontinued its use. There are certain instances where two medications used in conjunction with one another can be extremely effective. In this case, I don't feel you'll see any benefit from using both. Better for the fish to use only one medication at a time.>> One last question, please. She is using the heater that came with the tank and it is very hard to regulate. <<Not uncommon. Many heaters are difficult to regulate, first off, and most that come 'packaged' with tank kits are 'economy' units.>> Is there a heater you recommend for a ten gallon tank? <<A 50W Ebo Jager heater should serve just fine. A small locking pin on the dial allows you to 'calibrate' the thermostat for a precise setting. May not even be necessary but it's a nice feature if you find the dial off by a degree or so.>> I must say we are very excited to have discovered this site. My daughter takes animal care very seriously and is great at research. This site is a find! <<Wonderful to hear and thank you for your kind words! Best of luck to you both.>> Susan and Sarah <<Tom>>

Re: Symptoms not yet described in platy  -- 10/18/07 Tom and/or Esteemed Crew Members: <<Susan and Sarah. My apologies for not getting back faster than this.>> Last month my daughter and I inquired about a female red Dalmatian platy whose appetite has greatly diminished and who appears to have difficulty eating (unless it's blood worms, but even then she doesn't snatch like her tank mates). She swallows a worm, but spits pieces of flakes back out and no longer snatches. At the time I wrote, other than poor appetite, her only other symptom was clear, stringy feces. We treated with Metronidazole (sp?) as recommended. <<Okay.>> She seemed to improve for a short while, and then became symptomatic again. We re-treated twice with the same results. Now she is symptomatic again, only this time her middle appears grayish. Her head and tail are still reddish orange. She does appear more lethargic than usual. My daughter siphons regularly and the water quality is fine. The only other issues we know of are an algae bloom in spite of weekly algicide. <<Don't use the algaecide. Algae blooms occur but it's best not to treat this chemically. Despite manufacturers' claims, it's still a chemical being added to the tank and not the best way to go for the fish. You might look at other reasons for the bloom such as exposure to direct sunlight, nitrate levels, etc. Almost always, there are better ways to deal with this sort of thing than exposing the fish to chemicals.>> We use aquarium salt and added some slime coat as well. At this point the filter has been off for almost 1 week due to medication. Is there any thing else we should do? <<Yes, on a couple of counts. First, turn the filter back on. Activated carbon should be removed -- if used -- but the filter shouldn't be turned off completely. (Still very necessary for mechanical and biological filtration.) Second, stop all use of the aquarium salt and slime coat additive. Platys prefer 'hard' water but there's a bit too much going on in the tank right now. Stick with the regular water changes and don't be shy about these. A couple of 50% changes each week would be fine.>> Are we doing something wrong? <<Other than turning the filter off, no. Please understand that fish can/do get sick. We don't always know whether the cause, in this case, is bacterial or fungal. The Metronidazole was a good choice of medication given the symptoms. We can't even disregard the possibility of 'genetics' here. You aren't doing anything 'wrong' at all. There are just some ways to do it a little more 'right'. We, me included, originally started out believing that 'this, that and the other thing' must be good for our pets because 'they' say it is. Experience and research often teaches us otherwise. Fresh, clean water is always the best.>> Please help, as my daughter (11 years) is quite attached to "Poppy". <<I totally understand.>> The other fish seem just fine (a male Mickey mouse platy, a female red wag platy, a female Dalmatian molly, a male red Dalmatian molly ?(appears more yellow than red, somewhat aggressive guy). <<Glad to hear that all the other 'guys' are fine. (Funny about names, isn't it? The Red Devil Cichlid, for example. Never seen one that was red. Always yellow to a yellow-orange.)>> This is a ten gallon tank. <<I can tell you that smaller tanks need more attention. Less stability with water conditions/quality than larger tanks tend to be. I'm betting that your regimen is good, based on what you've shared here. Stick with the water changes on a very regular basis and stay away from the 'additives'. (Fish did fine without them until we put them in aquariums.)>> We truly appreciate your assistance and thank you for your time. Susan and Sarah <<You're welcome and I'm sorry, again, that you had to wait for this. Tom>>

Re: Possible diseased Platy  9/13/07 <<Tom with you once again, Carolyn.>> I finally got some Red Wag Platys (all females because that was all PetSmart had) to put into my 10 gallon fish tank that I set up in my classroom. I added them Monday afternoon and they seem to be adjusting well. They are hungry and active although there is one that hides every now and then. <<All sounds good, Carolyn.>> I've been checking the pH, ammonia and nitrites twice a day (once first thing in the morning and again before I leave) and everything is good. <<Okay.>> However, I noticed that one of my Platys has a small area near her top fin on one side of her body that looks sort of like a white film (you can still see the red coloring through it so I guess it is translucent). I first noticed it yesterday afternoon, and I was looking at her this afternoon and that area may be increasing in size (I'm not sure if I'm imagining that or not). <<I'm betting this isn't your 'imagination', Carolyn. The translucent film may be indicative of an infestation of some nature.>> I tried to get a picture but my cheap digital camera couldn't get one of her in focus through the glass. Oh, I also noticed that her top fin looks a little different from the others. The others have a nice high top fin (reminds me of a Mohawk) and hers looks shorter and looks more like it is slicked back. <<The fin is what we refer to as 'clamped'. Not unusual in the least when the fish has a problem.>> She doesn't act different than the others. Since this is my first experience with fish, I don't know if I have a problem here or not. <<I think you do, Carolyn, and since we're treating this, tentatively, as a quarantine-type tank, we need to deal with this as such.>> My first thought was it was Ich, but I read where that looks like tiny grains of salt and that isn't what this fish has. <<No.>> I went to PetSmart to see if there was anything that would tell me what this was, but I couldn't find anything. I've been searching the internet trying to find information or pictures to match up to what this fish looks like but I can't find anything. It's Wednesday night and I only have two more days of school this week where I could treat this fish. I will not be able to get into school on the weekend to do anything to the fish tank. I read somewhere that salt was good to use to boost their immune systems, but I didn't put any salt in when I got them because I want to get some Cory catfish in a few weeks. If you have any suggestions of what to do, please let me know. <<Coming from me this is going to be a rare piece of advice, Carolyn, but I recommend that you net the fish, place it in a suitable container and take it right back to PetSmart. It's unfair to both you and your new 'charges' to start in on a treatment regimen that you can't observe on a daily basis particularly if it involves what I can best describe as a shotgun approach. You've described the problem well but there are still multiple possibilities requiring different forms of treatment. (For what it's worth, if I absolutely had to make a recommendation, I would go with Parinox from NFP (National Fish Pharmaceuticals). It's a wide-spectrum formulation including a protozoacide, which I 'think' might be the problem here. One treatment per week for a period of two weeks but, this isn't where I want to see you go and I can't be certain enough to make this recommendation without some reservations.) Additionally (and I confess to this being 'self-serving' to a degree), I've taken issue with PetSmart in the past regarding their practices and I'd prefer to see the 'onus' placed back on them rather than it being placed on you. I don't think it prudent to risk the remainder of the fish, particularly in a classroom setting, over one that was ill at the time of purchase.>> Thanks! Carolyn <<You're welcome, Carolyn. For what little satisfaction there may be in this, you can see now why I recommended in favor of adding the Platys first. You did well in spotting this problem. Best regards. Tom>>

Re: Possible diseased Platy   9//15/07 Hi, Tom! <<Hello, Carolyn.>> Thanks for the advice. Guess I will be going back to PetSmart tomorrow after school. <<I think it best, Carolyn.>> Once I get this fish out of the tank, is there anything I should do to my tank and remaining Platys to prevent them from having the same problem? <<Water changes are always the best way to go, Carolyn. Keeping the water fresh and clean will all but eliminate the need for any other measures to be taken.>> Also, what should I look for in a fish store? I picked PetSmart because they had lots of Platys and they looked to be very active which I interpreted as healthy. <<Active fish can indicate healthy fish but this isn't a 'given'. Stressed fish may appear very active, too, particularly if overcrowded in 'bare' tanks where no cover is provided. (Sound like PetSmart?) Actually, your question is excellent. Easy enough for me/us to criticize bad advice/practices when someone writes in about problems they've run into with a store but what about the 'flip' side, i.e. how does a hobbyist, particularly someone new to the hobby, determine that they're dealing with a 'good' LFS? First, nothing can substitute for good, old-fashioned homework. The more you know before going in, the better. So, what do I look for? The general condition of the fish tanks is probably the easiest way for the novice to get a 'feel' for an LFS. Are there obviously sick or dead fish in the tanks? (NEVER buy fish from a tank with dead or sick fish in it!) Is there a modest number of fish in each tank (depending on the species, of course) or, are the tanks packed wall-to-wall with livestock? Is some degree of cover provided for the fish or, are the tanks largely bare without concern for the stress the fish are under? Does the store sell 'tricked up' fish, i.e. fish that are 'dyed' bright, unnatural colors? (If so, walk out immediately! This practice is cruel and inhumane.) If the tanks contain labels describing the fish, is the information accurate? If not labeled, can someone on the staff provide accurate information about the fish? (You can't expect the first person you grab to know everything about all of the fish in the store but he/she should be able to direct your question to someone who is knowledgeable.) Regarding information from the sales people, the 'don'ts' about the fish can be every bit as telling, in my opinion, as the 'do's'. Additionally, is the information you're getting overly 'generalized' or, is the information specific to the fish? For example, your Platys can adapt/acclimate nicely to neutral water conditions but actually prefer (as a live-bearing species) to harder, more alkaline conditions. The bottom line to all of this, Carolyn, is that it isn't all that difficult to find a good store if you go in with your eyes open and have a bit of information on hand ahead of time.>> Also, are there good places to get fish from online? <<My experience with purchasing fish online is almost non-existent, Carolyn. I can tell you from information I've garnered from others in the Crew that there are very reputable e-tailers out there but I'm afraid I can't give you anything specific in this area. Retreating back to the previous topic however, I can tell you that a good LFS can, very likely, order fish through their own sources for you. Probably the pricier way to go but, if there's a problem with the livestock upon receipt, the store should handle the details for you.>> And I have another question not really related to this.... do Platys breed with any kind of Platys? For example, if I had a tank with Red Wag's and Mickey's, would the Red Wag males only be interested in the Red Wag females? <<Platys can/will crossbreed with other varieties of Platys although their first inclination will be to breed among their own. Despite their legendary propensity for reproducing, Platys aren't totally indiscriminate even though their behavior may point otherwise. :) >> And if the Red Wag and the Mickey did get together, what would the resulting fry look like? <<An educated guess? Coloration would be a 'coin toss' but likely similar to the coloration of the parent fish. So many color varieties have emerged due to crossbreeding that it would be difficult to nail this one down precisely. Body shape would be typical of the Red Wags and Mickey Mouse varieties and the greatest variations would probably be seen in the fin colors. Whether any would carry the distinctive 'Mickey Mouse' patch on the tail is hard to say but, again, I think it likely that at least some would.>> BTW, I'm loving my fish tank and the kids do, too. I really wish I had a bigger tank so I could get more fish! <<Don't we all, Carolyn? :) >> Carolyn <<I do apologize for being slightly tardy on this one, Carolyn. Out of town yesterday so I couldn't get back before the end of the school week for you. I hope the 'return' went smoothly and that you can avoid any repeats of this. Best of luck with your fish. Tom>>

Re: Possible diseased Platy (follow-up)    9/16/07 Hi, Tom, <<Greetings, Carolyn.>> Thanks for the information. Returning the fish to PetSmart actually went fairly well. <<Glad to hear this.>> They wanted me to take a replacement fish right then, but I told them I wanted to make sure the rest were OK before I added any more fish. <<Excellent thinking.>> Plus, I didn't want to go back to school, put in a new fish and then leave for the weekend. <<Understood. I wouldn't have wanted to do this either, from both a practical side and personal side. I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon keeping tabs on a small school of Skunk Corys that I purchased from my LFS. (Very rare to find these little fish at a store. They had ten and I purchased seven of them. Think I'll take a drive back today and buy the last three. Three is too small a group by themselves and ten in my tank sounds a lot better.) Just couldn't keep my eyes off of them. Happens all the time. :) >> So they gave me a store credit for the price of that one fish. I'm hoping the rest are OK for the weekend. I did a water change before I left on Friday. <<Nothing better that you could have done for them, Carolyn, and I'm sure they'll be fine.>> I just found out about a locally-owned pet store that may be a good place to get fish so I'm going to check it out tomorrow to see what it is like. <<I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Makes a world of difference when you deal with an LFS with knowledgeable, reputable folks.>> So now I'm thinking about setting up a larger tank at home! This fish stuff is addictive! Carolyn <<I confess that I would have been surprised if you hadn't considered setting up your own tank, Carolyn. No sense fighting the feeling! Best of luck! Tom>>

Long strands of platy poo   9/3/07 Hi, <<Hello, Lori. Tom here.>> I have a female Mickey Mouse Platy living in my 20 gallon tank with two Peppered Corys, one Zebra Danio, one black guppy, four two month old Platy fry, and four one month old Platy fry. <<Nice.>> She is going to have another batch soon (in the next two weeks.) Ever since I got her, about six months ago, she has produced long strands of poo. They are red, green, or brownish in color, and are up to about six centimeters in length. I feed my fish two to three times a day Nutrifin Max Color Enhancing food, and I feed my fry, Hikari First Bites. Please help me, I don't know whether or not to worry. <<No worries, Lori. If the feces were white, we'd likely have a problem. Otherwise, she's pooing what she's eating. Keep in mind that 'color-enhancing' foods like the Nutrafin product contain items like red-algae (pigments) as well as other natural additives that are meant specifically to bring out the colors in fish. These also 'enhance' the color of their fecal matter. The length may seem a bit disarming to you but this isn't out of the ordinary, really. I've got a Sailfin Pleco that appears to produce "spaghetti" on its diet largely of algae wafers and zucchini. Nothing whatsoever to be concerned about.>> Thanks again, Lori <<You're welcome. Tom>>

Was Missing Guppy, now bitten Platy   9/1/07 Hello, Thanks for your advice. I never did find my guppy. I have another problem now. One of my first Platy's caudal fin has been bitten (a bit at the top and a bit at the bottom). I first noticed this yesterday but there is even more missing today. I think the culprit is a yellow/black guppy which was added around 3 weeks ago. I say this because it does seem to follow the platy around and on one occasion I have seen it try to bite. Would it be a good idea to remove this guppy from my collection? The bitten platy seems to be swimming but I don't want it to totally disappear. I don't know if the behaviour I have described is pretty normal in an aquarium. Thanks, Seema. <Hello Seema. Sometimes fish do bite one another, but then get over whatever aggression or curiosity was behind the action. So for now, I'd leave things be, though treating pro-actively with anti-fungus/finrot medication (or even Melafix) would be sensible. As always, when keeping livebearers, aim to have at least twice as many females as males. Livebearer males are all more or less mutually aggressive, and fighting between them is normal. Platies are usually the most tolerant, guppies a bit less so. Swordtail and molly males are very aggressive, to the point that unless you have a large tank these species are "one male per tank" animals. Because these "species" are all hybrids in terms of aquarium stock, behaviour tends to be less cut and dried than I suggest here, so you can easily end up with placid mollies but psychotic platies. Females of all species tend to get along quite well. So if you have problems with nipping and fighting, concentrate on getting females of whatever species you're interested in. One last thing. Do consider the tankmates. Even "good" tetras like Neons have been known to nip other fish given the chance. Many fish view the scales and fins of other fishes as potential food. So watch the dynamic of the aquarium, and see if any of the other species might be responsible. Sometimes the shape and size of the bite-mark can be a clue: a small, circular bite might match the dainty mouthparts of a Neon rather better than a guppy, which has a broad, flat mouth. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Missing Guppy -- 09/01/07 Thanks for your reply. I bought some eSHa 2000 treatment for fin rot so hopefully this will fix the problem! Cheers, Seema <Very good. Hope it all gets fixed up. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Missing Guppy - 9/3/07 The platy died last night! I was so sad.... <Sorry to hear that. Make sure you understand what went wrong, and give the tank a week or two to settle down before adding any more fish. Once you're sure everything else is healthy, and you know precisely how to prevent this problem happening again, then go buy some new fish. Rushing out to buy a replacement is usually where people go wrong... without knowing what their mistakes were, they end up with the inevitable result they imagine fish are flimsy and die easily! Cheers, Neale>

What happened? Platy loss, repro.    8/30/07 Yesterday, I put my pregnant platy in one of those breeding containers, where you put the female in and the fry drop to the bottom. Last night, over the course of about 2 hours, she dropped a number of transparent balls (which I found out from your site are unfertilized embryos) and about 10 fry, none-of which moved. All of that went into the bottom section of the breeding container. This morning, the female was dead in the top of the container and there was absolutely nothing - no unfertilized eggs or still born fry in the bottom. It was completely empty. I'm perplexed. Do you have any possible explanation(s)? Thank you. Mel <Mmmm, reads like too much stress/fright for this fish... Bob Fenner>

Platy with piles?   8/13/07 i have a platy Plec that has lumps that can only be described as piles on its anal/vent area, they are white / pink in colour and there is a lot of them. this is the only platy Plec i have in the tank along with 2 guppies, alas all the others have died over time....... please can anyone tell me what it is ...... <Hello. Sounds a lot like worms of some kind. Without a photo, can't be sure. But assuming that it is, you'll need to treat with an anti-worm medication (Waterlife Sterazin, JBL Gyrodol, Aquarium Products Fluke-Tabs, etc.). If you're losing a lot of fish in a short period of time, do also reflect on aquarium water quality/water chemistry. Platies and guppies like nice hard water with a high pH (say, 15 dH and a pH of 7.5). Water quality should be good, 0 ammonia and nitrites, and platies especially need a tank with a bit of swimming space, certainly not less than 15 gallons. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy with piles? 8/15/07 hi Neale, thanks for the advice. meant i did 10 percent weekly and 25 to 50 percent monthly but i will now do it on a weekly basis...... will also get some of the food you suggested and have just put some cucumber in the tank, my platy is not a fancy one and i am new to fish keeping, but am learning...... thanks, will let you know how she gets on, it lumps have gone and there is just some redness there now as i have been treating her for parasites........ thanks dawn <Dawn, this all sounds promising. So for a beginner, you're learning fast! Keep it up, and good luck with your fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Platies with Ich -- 07/30/07 <Hi Mary, Twothless here.> > We have 5 small platy in our 10 gal Biorb along with one small golden mystery snail. <Kind of cramped in there, but not too bad.> > I check that water quality regularly and all seems fine. <Could you define "Fine" for me? Actual test result numbers? When an aquarists says the levels were fine, it means that there is 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrItes and nitrAtes below 40ppm. ANYTHING higher than these levels is considered detrimental to the health of your fish, and snail. Immediate action must then be effected to fix the problem before any health issues arise.> > We are experiencing an outbreak of (I assume) ick as I see white salt like specs on the tails. Often this is hard to see as they seem to be clamping their fins and tail closed. <Sounds like Ich to me. You can treat Ich on Platies with aquarium salt as per these instructions: Add 3/4 level teaspoon aquarium salt per gallon on day one. Add 3/4 level teaspoon per gallon on day two. Add 3/4 level teaspoon per gallon on day 3 and begin raising the heat (IF you have a heater. It's not absolutely required though) to the high 80's. Salt cannot evaporate nor can it be filtered out, so, you should monitor your additions closely so that you do not add too much or too little. So, if you remove 5 gallons during a water change, only add 2 1/2 level teaspoons PER gallon of water that is added back. Maintain this salinity for at least 5-7 days after the last time you saw ANY Ich spots whatsoever. Usually two weeks is enough time. After the treatment has run it's course, you can begin reducing the heat and aquarium salinity by performing water changes without salt and turning the heater down. Once the ich is gone, they're gone fore good and will not return unless you re-infect them with new plants or ANYTHING from an infected tank. Oh, and be sure to remove any "white rocks" that might be in the filter cartridges or filter media. This is called Zeolite and will dump its payload of ammonia if allowed to sit in salt water. If you don't see any, your golden!> > They are still eating well. <That's a good sign.> > I have a Biorb "first aid cartridge" which includes a filter and meds but it does not say what the meds actually are and I don't want to kill my son's precious snail. What do I do? <Easy, remove the snail and keep it in another container until you finish the treatment I recommend. Add a little gravel from the aquarium to the bottom of the bowl and perform a large or total water change with temperature matched dechlorinated water every day. > (thank you) <You're very welcome. Good luck with the Platies and the Mystery Snail (Is it's name Gary?) -Twothless>

Re: Platy with piles?   8/15/07 ps here is a picture of platy with lumps, they only appeared yesterday morning..........regards dawn <Too blurry... can't see anything... but obviously not good. Either worms or else some sort of cyst. Cysts around the vent seem to be not uncommon on livebearers. No cure. If the cyst is blocking the anus, then the fish will die, miserably, so is best destroyed painlessly. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy with piles?   8/15/07 hi Neale, thanks for the advice, will get wome worm medication and give it a go, i do water tests on a regular basis and the water is fine as i do my 1 percent change each week and 25 percent once a month. i am new to keeping fish and have had no signs of anything other than this one fish, a couple died of not giving birth when they should have, they seemed to just hang on and die and i don't know why y male platy died, he was one of the first to go............ regards dawn <I have no idea why you are doing a 1% water change. Pointless. Do 25-50% per week, minimum. The idea small water changes are safer/better is old school fishkeeping and largely discredited. The bigger and more frequent the water changes, the healthier your fish will be... period, end of discussion. Platies are basically hardy animals, but they are sensitive to poor water quality, especially "fancy" platies. Ensuring the water has high levels of general hardness and carbonate hardness is essential Aim for 15+ degrees dH / 10+ degrees KH. Also don't forget platies are *herbivores* not *carnivores*. No less than 50% of their diet should be "green" foods. You could use livebearer flake food (based on algae, such as Spirulina) or greens from the kitchen (such as thinly sliced cucumber, Sushi Nori, or blanched lettuce). Clumps of algae taken from a clean pond are also enjoyed. "Meaty" foods, like regular flake, should only be used occasionally. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Platies with Ich -- 08/02/07 Sorry about the "fine" we are novices. 0ppm ammonia, 20ppm nitrates, 0ppm nitrites, ideal ranges of hardness and alkalinity, a little low for ph though about 6.8(can't seem to keep that up). How did you guess about the snail's name!!? :-) Thank you for the great help. This sight is the very best. <No worries about being a novice. All of us start out there. The test results certainly reveals that your water quality is being maintained properly. However, the low pH is a bit of a concern. Platies tend to thrive better in a higher pH than your water has. You can easily correct this by utilizing a buffering product such as Proper pH 7.5 at each and every regularly scheduled water change. Good Luck! - Twothless>

Mollies, Platies, and Fungus 7/21/07 WWM Crew, <Hello again!> Hi, I wanted to thank you for all the great advice you have given me so far. It has been a tremendous help. Following Neale suggestions I went off to my LFS to buy a Hydrometer and Marine Salt to convert my tank to brackish water. I also wanted to make arrangements for my Molly fry as I thought it would be bad to go from freshwater to brackish and back to fresh when they go to the LFS for sale. To my extreme horror they did not know what a hydrometer was and had to call the owner. Then the sales girl told me they did not carry marine salt and just to put 1/2 cup "aquarium" salt per 10 gallons in my tank. Gasp, needless to say my babies are not going there and I am looking for a new store. <If you don't have a hydrometer, you can just about get away with weighing the salt. Since seawater has 35 grammes of salt per litre, for 10% seawater, which is a good baseline for mollies, 3.5 grammes of salt per litre should be fine. Since mollies are euryhaline, exact salinity doesn't matter. The only problem here is that once a box of salt is opened, it tends to absorb moisture from the air, so you want to wrap it up tightly and store in an airtight container (like a Tupperware or biscuit tin). Measuring salt by volume, i.e., spoons or cups simply doesn't work because salt will be more or less packed down depending on how it has been transported.> When feeding my fish the next morning I noticed that my Creamcicle Lyre-tail Molly had white fuzzy stuff on her tail and top fin. Previously I noticed a fuzzy white spot on my Red Wag Platies mouth but it went away on its own. After spending quite sometime searching your site I decided a fungal treatment was in order and bought Jungle Fungus Treatment. I also added more "tonic salt" to the aquarium and slowly set the temp to 82 degrees. Water levels still testing good with weekly water changes. After putting the treatment in the tank, The Molly's fuzzy spots are almost gone. But now the white spot is back on the Platies mouth. I'm not quite sure what to do. I have attached pictures of both fish. The picture of the Platy is of bad quality but does show the spot. All fish are eating well and active. <Spots on the mouth are usually a bacterial infection called Mouth Fungus. Combination Finrot/fungus medications usually kill these. As a supplement to treating the tank, dipping the infected fish into seawater for 1-10 minutes at a time (depending on how the fish reacts) will also help by dehydrating the bacteria. Finrot, fungus, and mouth fungus (all caused by different pathogens) tend to follow on from poor water quality, so reflect on the conditions in the tank. Do you have the right pH and hardness? What are the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? Is the filter big enough and the tank big enough? Do you overfeed? How much water do you change per week. Read through the Livebearer articles here at WWM for some background info.> <Good luck! Neale>

Another sick platy, hypochondria, iatrogenic troubles   7/12/07 Hello. I have read and read and read ... I've seen the symptoms I'm interested in listed here and there in all kinds of different scenarios but never see them specifically addressed in a way that helps me narrow down what might be wrong with this fish and one that I lost several weeks ago. So I'm asking ... very timidly ... first: I have a 20 gallon tank with a power filter that I recently gave a thorough cleaning. <How thorough? A note to others who will read this re the danger of subtending biofiltration with too much at one time "cleaning"> Biological filter is established ... nitrites and nitrates zero. <And ammonia?> Gravel substrate. System is nine weeks old. I use aquarium salt 1 TBS per 5 gallons per instructions on package, <I would NOT routinely add this... see WWM re the use of salts in FW> replace it with water changes, and currently have CopperSafe <... why? Not advised> in my tank which I have replaced with water changes. I was using the copper safe because of velvet which took many fish over a short period of time about five or six weeks ago. I change 20%-25% water/gravel vac once weekly. Temperature is 80 degrees F. <A bit warm for poeciliids/livebearers... If there are no other livestock that require such high temp. I would allow this to drop to the mid 70's F.> I have one male fancy guppy very healthy, one very healthy and beautiful female sunset platy who gave me ten fry one week ago, one female black molly ( who I plan on moving to a separate tank as soon as it is finished cycling, but who actually seems to have been somewhat trained by 'time-outs' in a breeder box, to stop bullying the other fish), and one female Mickey mouse platy who gave me 20 fry four weeks ago. I still have all of my fry in this tank in breeder boxes in the w/artificial plant cover. I am in the process of making arrangements for them. I feed the fry Hikari first bites three times daily, and the adults crushed flake twice daily. The problem is with my Mickey mouse platy. She and the molly had some white patches show up a week and a half ago. <... likely environmental in nature... the changes you list, the exposure to copper, salt> On the molly, it was white showing up inside her mouth and one small patch on top of her head. On the platy, it was two milky looking spots on one side, but hard to tell if they were injuries or flat or raised ... I have stared at that fish for so long so many times. The guppy was chasing her around nibbling at her spots, whatever they were. They seemed more raised than what was showing up on the molly, but I treated with triple sulfa. Molly completely better, one of the spots on the platy is gone, but one near her tail is still there and seems to have wrapped around under her so that it is on both sides of the same part of her tail. Her fins are clamped and she is starting to hide. She really only comes out to eat, and she swims 'jerkily' ... mostly normal, with a flick here, and dart there ... doesn't seem to be scratching on anything unless she's doing it while hidden. But I penned up the guppy in a vacant breeder box to stop him from nipping at whatever is on her. I don't have a QT tank ... if the molly keeps up her good behavior maybe I'll just turn the tank intended for her into a QT tank. So ... before I dump more chemicals into my tank, I just wanted to see what y'all had to say about her. <"Don't dump more chemicals into the tank"> I was going to try another round of triple sulfa since it seemed to get rid of one of her white patches. But with her jerking, I just wonder if it's something parasitic - which confuses me because I thought CopperSafe takes care of that. Her feces have looked whitish and cottony (?) I guess is the best description. I had a platy die several weeks ago who did this same thing. I could never really see any patches on her, but the guppy used to nibble her sides, too, and then she started jerking, then hiding, then wasted away. It took about a month for her to die from the first signs that something was wrong. Is this likely something parasitic that I need to medicate my tank for ? Or is it more important to remove her and medicate her ? I realize I am in need of several additional tanks ... I'm doing the best I can to get more. If not parasitic, what does it sound like ? I also should mention that she seems to be turning transparent. No film of any kind, just especially around her 'face' she's 'see-through'. I don't remember her looking like that when I got her. I already have '1rounded tablespoon per five gallons' Aquarium Pharmaceuticals aquarium salt in my tank - should I add any more ? Should I raise the temperature any ? <No, no> I would love to hear your diagnosis and suggestions. I just don't know what to do next. <Can diagnose nothing with the above information. Do you have the means of sending along some digital pix?> I have almost reached 30 days of the CopperSafe, so I was going to stop replacing it with water changes soon. Given my sick fish, should I keep it in my tank, and if I should stop, do I need to do anything special to remove it from my tank, or just let it diminish over time with water changes ? <I would use activated carbon here> Thank you so much, Jennifer <No more "treatments, salt"... BobF>

Another sick platy (additional info)  7/12/07 This is additional information to an e-mail I sent a few minutes ago (forwarded below) Come to think of it I do remember seeing a slight cloudy film in the place the guppy was nibbling at on my first platy (red wag) who died in this way. And on the same side and area of her body. I guess at the time I just wasn't sure if the guppy had caused the irritation by picking at her, or if he was picking at something already there. (this was waaaaaaaay back in the beginning of my fish weeks) <Your problems are highly likely environmental at root... Your fishes need stable, optimized conditions... Bob Fenner> Fwd: Another sick platy (additional info 2)  7/12/07 I had finished the triple sulfa treatment (previous letters forwarded below) five days ago, and I just noticed this morning that there is white appearing inside the black molly's mouth again. It's not cottony of puffy, just visible. Update on the Mickey mouse platy ... I put her in the breeder box so I could watch her, let the guppy go free. She is not eating, has definitely lost weight, her fins are clamped, but she actually seems more at ease in the breeder box. She still has the previously mentioned filmy patch on the underside of the fleshy part of her tail. (I am not currently treating for anything because I was confused as to what to do next) She is still jerking and darting every now and then. All of the other fish are happily and merrily going about their fishy little day ... beautiful fins, healthy weight, normal behavior. Should I not worry about the white inside of the molly's mouth unless he starts to act sick ? <Depending on the species, this Mollienesia should be housed elsewhere (in a separate system, and it kept under more brackish conditions... Please see WWM re> The more I think about it the more it seems that the platy must have two different things going on ? One external, one internal or secondary ? Please help, Jennifer <Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm and the linked files above. RMF>

Re: 'another sick platy' photos  7/13/07 Here are some pictures. I think I followed the rules. I hope it might help you help me identify what is wrong and whether or not I need to do anything. I don't mind not doing anything. But when you see white stuff growing on your fish, and you've had many die because of that before, when you did nothing because you thought it would be ok, it might lead one to try a treatment. Love, the hypochondriac iatrogenist <OK, excuse me for coming into this part-way through! The photos are a bit blurry and to be honest I can see much of anything. But going back through Bob's comments. I agree with him you don't need salt. A little salt won't harm a platy, to be sure, but it doesn't do anything good. Platies need hard/alkaline water, but contrary to myth, salt doesn't add anything in this regard. You need to get a bit of coral sand or crushed oyster shell and add this to the filter, to act as a chemical filter medium. As it dissolves (slowly) it raises the pH and the hardness. Your Platies will thank you! He's also right about temperature. Mollies alone of the common livebearers appreciate a little extra warmth, but certainly not 80F. Very few aquarium fish want that. 75 to 77F is adequate and in fact healthier. Letting things cool down slightly in winter is also beneficial. One species of Platy, Xiphophorus variatus, is actually a *subtropical* species and enjoys 68-70F, but since all the Platies sold are hybrids, this is academic really. Now, when it comes to "white patches" these can cover a variety of things. Excess mucous production because of environmental stress is common. This looks like off-white slime. Fungus can also cause something similar, but it is usually distinctly thread-like, like cotton wool. Then there are the various "slime diseases" caused by any number of pathogens and problems. These mix excess mucous with sheets of dead skin. As Bob has said, adding chemicals *without* knowing the exact problem is dangerous. Imagine as if your medical doctor just randomly pulled stuff off his medicine shelf without checking out your symptoms first! Most medications are more or less toxic themselves, and work by killing the pathogen before they manage to kill the fish (just like most human medications, it's only the dose and duration that separates a medicine from a poison). So, until you're sure your Platy is actually sick, don't treat him! Observation and water tests are always the things to do before reaching for a medication. Your Platy looks fine from what I can make out from the photos. If you can send something that's in focus and zooms in on the bit you thing "is bad" then we can have another look. But otherwise concentrate on water quality, water chemistry, and diet (Platies are herbivores and need lots of greens to do well).> How come all of the other people who write in having done just about the same things I have, don't get those nice labels ? <Luck o' the draw I guess.> And somebody actually kindly answers their questions, giving them lots of comfort and information in the process ? ; ) <There's a time for good bedside manners, and then there's a time to wrestle someone down to the ground and prise the bottle of pills out of their clenched, clammy hands. Here's a news-flash: Most of the time, fish don't need treatment. They have very robust immune systems. The fact they thrive in such overcrowded, polluted conditions compared to the wild as even a well maintained aquarium is a testament to the fact that fish are extremely adaptable animals. All you as the keeper need to do is provide conditions that approximate to what they enjoy in the wild. In the case of Platies (and most other livebearers) that means a tank with a moderate water current, lots of oxygen, a high level of hardness (ideally 15 dH upwards), a decent level of carbonate hardness (ideally 10 KH or more), a high pH (7.5-8.0), and a moderate temperature (75 F). Diet should be at least 50% algae or plant based -- either livebearer flake, Sushi Nori, or green kitchen scraps of various kinds like lettuce or cucumber. The rest of the diet can be regular flake or better yet frozen bloodworms and other insect larvae. But that's it! Livebearers are generally very, VERY easy to keep animals if you manage to get all those things line up nicely. Experienced fishkeepers hardly ever treat their tanks because their fish don't get sick in the first place. There's no magic involved or even anything difficult. It really is a "follow the numbers" hobby where stuff works if you do everything in the correct way. Good luck! Neale>

Platy fry with crooked spine   6/30/07 I am a novice fish keeper and have only had my tank since December 06. I started out with 3 platies, a danio, 3 tetras and rubber mouth pleco I have live plants in the tank and from these the tank became overrun with Egyptian snails. I was very slack with tank maintenance in the beginning (I had a baby in late January and let things slide) during this time, 2 of the platies gave birth and of the 2 sets, I have seven fry left in the tank. 5 were strong enough to move out of the breeder but have 2 that are tiny and still in the breeder. After the births one of the platies has taken to sitting on the bottom of the tank and has a diminished (nipped at?) fin on top- but still eats and seems otherwise OK. Other fish all seem fine. PH looks OK- I haven't recently tested nitrites but they were clearly high at the time my troubles began. After not cleaning the tank for awhile I ended up with an algae bloom (green water that turned to grey water) also did something really stupid and added 2 dwarf gouramis at this time because someone in a big box pet store told me that they would eat my snails. <They eat some snails sometimes. It depends on the fish and the type and size of the snails. I suspect they are more inclined to eat snail eggs (which might be just as helpful in the long run).> Even I know better than adding a fish when you have trouble- but I did it.... I removed the plants and I treated this with No more algae -Tank Buddies (Jungle Labs). The algae cleared but within a week I found both Gouramis face down in the rocks. No other fish seemed affected. I noticed that the tank buddies said not for use with invertebrates so I thought maybe that would help with the snails too. Even though I never found anything to back up the claim that gouramis would eat snails, I hoped that they had and maybe that was what killed them (???) <I suspect your gouramis died from stress, poor water quality, or the combination of the two. Also, algicides are not usually such a good idea. Many of them contain questionable chemicals like Simazine. Algal blooms are also your tank's way of coping with excess nutrients (like nitrites). If you kill the algae, you kill the organisms taking up those excess nutrients. In any case, please see here for more on freshwater algicides: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgicidefaqs.htm> After all of this, the baby platies started looking sort of stressed but I added aquarium salt (which I had not been using) and everyone seemed to be doing OK. I started doing 30% water changes once or twice a week and everything seemed fine. <Water changes are almost always the fastest and safest way to solve a water quality problem.> Now here is my real question: Of the two baby platies that are not growing as well, one has a crooked spine. I cannot say whether this is from birth or not... but when I looked up fish scoliosis I of course came up with Piscine TB as a possible cause... <Congenital spine deformities in fish are quite common. This is likely the case with your fish. If the fish had Piscine TB it should have other symptoms, such as sores on its body, a sunken abdominal area, etc.> Are Platies susceptible to this? and if so what are the odds that it is in my tank if I don't have any other fish with indicators (except maybe the platy that sits on the bottom with the damaged top fin and the two gouramis that died within days of being added to my tank) <I highly doubt your fish has Piscine TB. But just FYI, if it does, Mycobacteria can infect humans (it doesn't give us TB, but it can cause a nasty infection.) If any of your fish start to show multiple other symptoms of Piscine TB (curved spine, sunken abdominal are, lethargy, sores, etc.) then there might be cause to worry. In any case, it's wise not to put your exposed hands in the tank if you have an open cut, sore or wound.> Would a baby show a deformity like this so early on or would I see lesions or something first? <Baby fish can show congenital spinal deformities quite early.> If I do have Mycobacterium in my tank what should I do about it and how concerned should I be about my fish <Honestly, I'd hold off on worrying too much about Piscine TB unless your fish start to show more symptoms. Just try to be more diligent about your tank maintenance and keeping your water quality good. > thanks for any ideas about this Jennifer <de nada and good luck! :-) Sara M.>

Re: platy fry with crooked spine  -- 07/01/07 Thank you so much Sara!! That is really what I was hoping to hear. <cool> Since we have more baby platies than our tank will accommodate I was thinking of setting up a platy tank for my 3 year old's classroom and the thought of bringing TB infected fish/water into a preschool was pretty frightful. How common do you think Piscine TB is? <I don't know of any too reliable statistics on this for home aquariums. One reason for the lack of reliable statistics might be that since other diseases can cause the same symptoms, you can only truly verify Piscine TB at autopsy. And needless to say, not too many people autopsy their deceased fish. I can tell you though that among fish with misshapen spines, it's a lot less common than congenital spine deformities. But, there's really two questions here. The Mycobacteria that cause Piscine TB might be more common than are incidences of infection. In other words, there are probably plenty of tanks that have some Mycobacteria but without any sick fish. Believe it or not, our human homes often have some scary viruses and bacteria, but if we're healthy we usually don't get sick because our bodies have ways of protecting us. Though fish have less sophisticated immune systems, it's a similar story for them too.> You see such conflicting statistics about it. My father has always had an aquarium and I don't think he is even aware of the possibility of anything transmissible to humans. <Well, I might have mentioned in my other email that it is possible for fish to die of Piscine TB without any obvious symptoms of the disease. Or, they might have different symptoms (like a distended abdomen or pop-eye, etc.). Transmission to humans is what I would consider "rare." And we don't mention it to scare you. We just like for people to be aware of it.> I didn't really think that I had it in my tank- but the crooked platy did get my curiosity up. <They have an expression in medicine that goes "when you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras." It means, when you see a symptom, think of the most common causes first. I.e. when you see a baby fish with a crooked spine, think congenital deformity until you see other symptoms of something else. That said, it's good to learn about zebras too (just in case). ;-) > Thank you so much for your time. You guys are wonderful Jennifer <Thank you! Happy to help. :-) Sara M.>

Wasting platy... hypochondria, a/the "western" ethic/syndrome    6/21/07 Hello !! I've read a lot on your website, but still wanted to see what you would say about my platy. <Okay> My tank is 4 weeks, 3 days old. The Ph and hardness tested consistently for three weeks, so I've gone to checking only ammonia (nitrate/nitrite test strips). (Is that ok ?) It is a 20 gallon tank. <Ok...> I would never add fish again more than one at a time or without preventative MelaFix treatment <I wouldn't rely on this homeopathic "remedy" for much> (currently I have no quarantine tank) but I have had up to 14 fish in my tank (following guidelines for adding fish that came with my tank) and now I'm down to 5. The last one to die was about a week and a half ago. My tank has been medicated with MelaFix and CopperSafe. <Why? As in "what for"?> I'm finished with the MelaFix for now, the CopperSafe has been in for a week and a half to two weeks. I had removed the active charcoal and that left only my biological sponge filter during the MelaFix treatment, and in ignorance, because of all of the disease, <Of what nature?> I did away with my sponge and now have had a new one for only four days. The ammonia seems already to have peaked and fallen, perhaps because of the old water/beneficial bacteria already present in the tank in the rocks and on artificial plants etc. ? <Likely so> So ... currently I have three platys, one guppy, and one black molly. One of the platys just gave birth to 20 fry which I have in a floating plastic breeder box (with artificial plant cover inside) in the same tank. They are a week old and I haven't lost one yet despite my 'cycling trauma'. I have had aquarium salt added since almost the beginning - recommended amount on container, and the temperature is between 76 and 78 degrees F. With water changes, I have added back the correct amount of salt and now CopperSafe. Any suggestions you have regarding the fry or anything about tank maintenance are welcome ... <Yes... to wait for another few weeks...> I've done regular water changes and as I said, I think I'm towards the end of my second 'cycling' ... my nitrates are at 20 ppm, nitrites at 1ppm, decreasing. <... these are toxic values... See WWM re> So ... my main question is about one of my platys. It started hiding about three weeks ago when the first few fish died. And has hidden increasingly until I'm not sure it has even been eating. It used to come out at feeding times, but has stopped. yesterday when I realized how much it seemed to have wasted, I put it in an empty breeder box. It keeps itself 'upright' (not fallen over on it's side) by resting in the grate at the bottom of the breeder box. It will swim to the top to feed when I put food in. But spends the rest of the time resting on the bottom. Breathing is definitely labored. I can't see any external signs of disease. Just the hiding, severe wasting, and also I noticed the few times it did swim freely in the tank, it twitches and jerks. <Likely just the poisoning from the nitrite...> I got some medicated food today - in case it is internal parasites. But I wondered about fish tuberculosis. <... please... NO more medicating... You're poisoning your system, the livestock...> None of the other fish seem ill in the least - they are all the healthiest they've been since I've had them - the molly even seems to have come back from the brink of death after the MelaFix treatment was finished and the CopperSafe was added (but has white gills - is this normal? <No, and are not white gills... would be dead... Maybe the branchiostegals are what you're seeing> nothing hanging out of gills, just white) Since the other fish seem so healthy and this one has been acting strangely for so long - can I assume that all will be well with parasite treatment ? <... what parasite?> Or do you think it's fish TB and the whole tank is doomed ? Do I need to take immediate action of any kind (besides trying the medicated food) ? My mom is bringing me a two gallon tank this weekend which I was considering for a short time for the fry. Should I make it a hospital tank instead ? Or is that too small ? <I think you're subject to the general ethic of the "west"... "buying things" and hypochondria... Best to just wait, let all re-center here... Focus on the world you've made, are making... read re getting rid of the nitrite and nitrate...> Thank you very much - I am so very grateful for your site and for all of your knowledge and experience. Jennifer Whiteford <Read my friend... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: wasting platy Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you so much for answering my mail. Believe it or not I've read most of what is contained in the link you sent me, I just can't go back in time and make it so that I did everything 'right' to start with. <I see> Sorry I gave incomplete information about why I had medicated my tank. I started out with two fish for cycling my tank, <Not a good practice... often over-stresses the stock... Introduces pathogens... sound familiar?> but added five more fish a week later, and six more fish the week after that. I realize that is a recipe for disaster. And it's hard to remember precisely when what happened to which ones now, but I medicated my tank first of all with Melafix <Correction... "Melafix" is not a medication...> because the first few fish that died (died right after adding the first several new fish to the tank and was also one of the new fish - all had been well up until then) had whitish clearish tissuey stuff hanging off of them (which had to have been extremely fast-growing because it wasn't visible until the fish were nearly dead) and the person at the fish store, looking at my dead fish, recommended that's what I use. Then even with the MelaFix treatment, several more fish died <...> and the conclusion I was coming to was velvet. <...> My black molly seemed to be following suit <... doesn't live in the same water quality as...> with the others and one person at the store who I consider very knowledgeable, listening to how some of the other fish were acting when they died, and listening to how my molly was behaving recommended CopperSafe to treat for velvet. <My friend, please stop! Do investigate a bit further than my and this stores opinions... you are responsible for the life here> I think most of the fish did have velvet. What I had been reading about fish diseases matched up with what the store clerks said both of these times, so I went ahead with the treatments. So the answer to your questions ... treating for what ... Mela-fix for what looked like a bacterial/fungal infection (I also had some fin and tail rot), and Coppersafe for velvet. <...> I do realize that my fish were more prone to disease because of the nitrites and the cycling and the stress of how quickly everything was done. <Oh? Then why do you continue to expose them? Why did you keep adding more?> From now on, I'll go with my gut and with sound scientific information and not what impatient husbands and children and simple pet store instructions say. <Yay!> I apologize for being one of those irresponsible, uninformed people, but I've done all I can so far to better myself and will continue. <Good resolve> Even though all of my other fish seem to be thriving, the fry also, you really think it's the nitrites making this one platy behave so extremely and waste away so much ? <This and/or the treatment/s> Definite 'No' to the medicated food ? <For what? Unless you're very sure of what you're treating... I would NOT continue to further damage these animals with chemical exposure> Even though the nitrate/nitrite levels are even lower this morning than reported in my e-mail last night, do you think I should just water change as much as it takes to get everything to zero, or allow the tank to finish cycling ? <Please see WWM re...> What sort of situation would call for sterilizing a tank/starting over ? I can't get over feeling like everything is tainted with that first whitish-clearish tissuey stuff. I think all of the disease ( though I do recognize my part in it) came from a bad 'batch' of fish that were already sick at the store. It's funny how looking back I had a negative feeling about every too-quick decision I've made, and now I have the info. for why. The fish that I was concerned about even before they started to show symptoms and had an unexplainable 'urge' to take them back or get them away from the other fish ... I'm learning a lot not only about how to do this right, but about listening to myself. If I could do it all over, I certainly know exactly how I would do it and what not to do again. Can a two gallon with a bubbler, but no power filter be used as a quarantine tank ... like ... in the far future when I add fish one at a time and only after I've kept them outside of my main tank for several weeks ? Or is it imperative that I get a larger tank ? I'd like to have two tanks running for fish that need isolation ... either because of illness or because they are new. I have limited space, so given the limits, I'd just like to know the most responsible way I can do that. Thank you so much for your time and patience and such a quick response, Jennifer Whiteford <Have just skipped down. Please peruse WWM re FW set-up, cycling, disease... env./induced. BobF>

Re: wasting platy Haha ... hypochondria. I saw that. I wish. Thanks < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypochondria. B>

Re: wasting platy (no response necessary) This has been a month-long process now. I thought I was acting responsibly in the beginning, but I was not and had no way of knowing it . I found your website two weeks ago and have found many answers here. I did find even more last night and today. In the already messed up situation I found myself in from adding too many fish too quickly, not allowing the tank to cycle completely etc, I think I've done the best I could do. <Good> The Mela-fix didn't seem to fix anything or save any fish and I wouldn't use it again, wish I had found this site and read about it sooner, but I do think the velvet diagnosis was accurate and the CopperSafe has halted that, brought the molly back. I have also discovered now that she's well that she picks on my platys entirely too much and shouldn't be in the same tank with them. I have read that they prefer brackish water and that unless they are in a really big tank, they shouldn't be with platys. The people in the pet store assured me that these fish would be fine together. Like I said ... I didn't know not to trust anybody back then. I'm learning. <Also> Now that I have my wasting platy in a breeder box, she is feeding and pooping. She seems like she feels better and is swimming around a bit more. With her in the box, I can see her very closely while she is holding still and I see some white things, not stringy, sticking out from her gill covers, can't tell if it's peeling ON them, or something coming from inside them, and either she is peeling or has some white things attached to her side. I will continue to study her and look up more info on parasites to try and determine which thing it is. Peeling or critters. I'll reference your site for how to treat it if it's critters. I'm guessing something besides 'medicine'. <Yes... good, consistent water quality, nutrition... Unless there is an obvious, identifiable pathogen, I would avoid chemical treatments> I see now that a two-gallon isn't an ideal QT but might be ok for a short time for one of these small fish with the addition of a heater. I also did find where many people asked about white gills on a black molly and it is well established in your articles that this is just part of the fish, not their actual gills. <Yes> I was hoping anybody besides you would have answered my mail because it is well-documented how you insist on punishing people, <Mmm, no interest, value in such> but that's ok - I can handle that. I do apologize because I guess my e-mail was unnecessary now that I have answered my own questions with more research and further observation. Sorry to have been 'one of those people'. <Mmmm?> I'm a slow processor ... ( Although I think a chatty person who enjoys giving other people helpful information whether or not they 'deserve' it might have responded well to my emails.) Love your site, and your crew, Jennifer <Thank you, BobF> Re: wasting platy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypochondria I know what hypochondria is. I even know what Munchausen is. lol <I see> I have gotten your point. People who don't have perfect water and haven't read volumes before they get fish have no right to ask any questions. I'm reading, I'm reading. Can't read any faster. <Heeee! Take your time, no rush! RMF> Re: wasting platy Giving medicated food. Peeling maybe from scratching ... severe weight loss, hiding, jerking, white stringy poop ... On my limited experience, I don't know how else to be any more sure of an internal parasite besides slicing the fish. <Unfortunately, the state of our understanding, abilities currently...> And sorry, I just don't believe I'm poisoning my fish. The fry would have been long gone or suffered in some way. Haven't lost one. Creation is pretty darned resilient. ; ) Thanks for everything, Jennifer <Agreed... or else "it" wouldn't be here. Cheers, BobF>

Platy Health  6/9/07 Hello, I have a question about platy health. <OK.> I have a 20 gallon freshwater tank that has been up and running for approximately three months, with fish in it for approximately six weeks. <After six weeks, should be close to being stable and mature.> Currently, I have two female platies and one male platy, and three peppered Cory cats. My tank stats are as follows -- ammonia, 0; nitrite, 0; nitrate, 10; pH 7.7. <All sounds fine, though hardness is the other thing to watch. Platies like it "hard" on whatever scale you're using. Adding a little crushed coral or coral sand to the substrate can help buffer the water, keeping the pH and hardness where your platies want it.> My question is about the platies. Two of them occasionally have clear feces, or clear segments in a string of brown feces. <Lack of fibre in their diet. Attend well: platies are herbivores. In the wild, they feed mostly on algae plus small animals like mosquito larvae. In captivity, they need a diet based mostly on plant foods. Most of the generic tropical fish foods (e.g., flake) are formulated for carnivores, such as tetras, that mostly eat small animals. So, you need to stop using that sort of food and switch to something suited to platies. To begin with, there is "vegetarian flake food", often based on the alga Spirulina. This is an ideal staple. You can also use things from the kitchen: thinly sliced cucumber, blanched lettuce, crushed cooked peas, Sushi Nori, and so on all work well.> Do you think it's likely that they have parasites? <No.> Otherwise, they appear healthy and friendly, and they eat well (although one of my female platies is rather fat -- I had assumed that she was pregnant, but she's been pretty big looking for a few weeks now without producing any fry). Would you recommend that I give them some medicated food, or just watch and wait for a while longer? <For now, concentrate on improving their diet.> If I tried to introduce some more vegetable matter into their diet, do you think that would help? <Yes.> They often bite at my plastic plants, so I wonder if they're wanting some veggies. <What you're seeing is their normal behaviour. In the wild, they bite algae from solid surfaces, including plant leaves. Given fish can't talk, yours are trying very VERY hard to tell you what they want!!!> I want to make sure that they are disease free before I introduce any other fish into the tank (I do have a smaller tank that I'm getting ready as a QT tank, but I didn't quarantine any of these fish since they were the first residents). <Sounds a good plan. Platies mix well with other hardwater-loving fish. Guppies are ideal tankmates. Peppered Corydoras do well in such conditions, too, so those were a good choice. Avoid soft water things like tetras and gouramis.> Thanks in advance for your help, <No problems.> Nicole <Cheers, Neale>

Re: Platy Health (for Neale)  6/10/07 Dear Neale, <Hello Nicole,> Thanks for your help! My platies didn't seem particularly enthused about the bits of cucumber that I tried out on them today, but I will get some veg flake food and see how they take to that. <Ah, the trick with cucumber is slice it thin and leave it to soften up. Most freshwater fish cannot digest terrestrial plants "raw" -- too much cellulose and other strengthening materials. But 24 hours after being put in the tank, it should be nice and squidgy, and the platies will chow down. Try other things if this doesn't work. Tinned peas, blanched lettuce, softened zucchini, and Sushi Nori are all good.> Hopefully I can train them to eat their veggies :) <They will. Appetite is a great sauce, so don't feed them anything else for a day or two, and they'll nibble on the veggies sooner or later. This is one instance of "being cruel to be kind" -- the more veggies your platies eat, and the less animal protein, the healthier they will be and the brighter their colours.> It's great to talk to someone who's so knowledgeable about fish, it take a lot of worry out of being a fish parent. <Kind of you to say so!> Cheers, Nicole <Good luck! Neale>

Platy Disease?   5/22/07 In the beginning for my 10G tank I had quite a bit for problems. All the fish died but left behind they're little babies, guppies and platies. I added some Hets and white clouds a while back. Nothing was wrong and everything proceeded very well with the babies. A few days again I  added a small pleco. <Mmm, most "members" of this common name get way too large for such a small volume> I began to notice small white specks on the tails of my platies but not the guppies. I thought ick so I did treat them for three days. <With what?> It didn't seem to get better or worse but at the end of the three days, last night, I noticed a problem with one of my baby platies. It has a small bit of white on the tip of it's black tail. The thing that got me the most is that the platy is spiraling and flipping in the water. It's back tail doesn't move as it swims. The platy's still eating, catching food that falls by it or spiraling to the top and eating there. When the platy's not doing this it stays vertical with it's tail facing up. It seems like the fish has no/very little control over it's movements. Any suggestions? <... Depends on what your water quality readings are... The "medication" you used may have killed or stalled your biofiltration... it could have poisoned the young outright... There are often troubles with young fishes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Skittish, clamping, lazy platies   5/14/07 Hi guys, <Sinafey> We've been having a problem with our platies for about 10 days now.  They're extremely skittish whenever somebody even walks by their tank or we turn on the light in the room or tank (going as far as trying to bury themselves in the gravel), are clamping, and just laying on the substrate of the tank all day except for feeding time. <Interesting... fright contagions are one of my fave behavioral traits to study, discourse on...> We've also noticed discolored spots on several of them, usually on their heads.  It's not raised like fungus, and is just one large spot so doesn't look like ick.  On two of them it's right on top of their heads, and one has it right above her top lip. <Perhaps related to the behavior... but what came first let's say? Is it the nervousness that has led to the physical traumas or vice versa? Or are they even related?> Tank specs are: 55 gallon, Nitrates: ~10, Nitrites: 0, KH: 80 (moderate), PH: ~7. <No ammonia?> We have about 19 Platies, 3 Emerald Green Otocinclus cats, and 2 African Dwarf frogs.  We've had problems maintaining our PH (it keeps wanting to drop) so we dilute a small amount of baking soda in tank water and are adding it slowly after each water change. <This should be fine> Doing this has given us moderate alkalinity and has kept our PH pretty steady at about 7 for the last several months.  Since the fish have looked sick we've been doing at least a 25% (usually closer to 30%) water change about twice per week. <Good practice, percentage...> About 2 days ago my fiancé got Maracyn and we've been following the dosing instructions on the box. <The antibiotic Erythromycin? For what?> If anything they seem to be laying around on the substrate more, and we noticed that one of the younger platies got a spot on it's head as well.  I know it might be too early to tell if the meds are helping, but it doesn't look promising. Any idea what may be causing our problem? <Mmm, yes... likely either "something else" environmentally... or the beginnings of a parasite... Flukes possibly, even ich, Velvet... Have you introduced any new livestock (sans quarantine) or live foods, plants in recent days, weeks?> We love these fish and have been doing everything that we can to make them better, but it just doesn't seem to be working. Thanks so much for your kind help, Heather <Best to keep up with the water changes, including bicarb additions, and be observant at this juncture. Bob Fenner>

Huge platy   5/9/07 Hi there! Thanks much for your site; I've referred to it several times in the past 2 years, since we started keeping fish..... This is my first time asking my own question; I apologize if it's been covered. I checked several of the site's pages and didn't find it specifically, so here goes... I have a female Mickey mouse platy who started getting really fat. She's the only platy we've had for several months, and there are no other Livebearers in the tank, so I'm fairly certain she's not pregnant. <Mmm, well they do/can "store" sperm in their tracts...> She'd been living in a 55 gal community tank for the past year or so, <Oh! Not this long> but last night I moved her to a 5 gal hospital tank. All water parameters on both tanks are fine, with the exception of the nitrates being a little high perhaps. <How high is high? I would keep below 20 ppm, ideally below 10 ppm> She hasn't acted any different than she ever had, but a few weeks ago she started getting a huge tummy. She does eat like crazy, <What sorts of foods?> so we wondered if she was over eating, but the past couple days it started to seem as though she was curving and becoming deformed because her tummy is so huge. She looks like she's going to burst. She still swims around, her fins aren't clamped, and she doesn't seem to hide any more than normal. When she was in the big tank, she seemed sociable....I moved her, though, hoping to limit her food intake and started her on Mara cyn-two, thinking it may be dropsy. I've read that that's a symptom, as opposed to a disease, <Yes> and that it's quite difficult to "fix" <Depending on cause/s> but I felt I needed to try something. Plus, as I mentioned she looks like she's going to burst, she's got a couple things on her side that look like little splits. Is it possible that it's a tumor? <Mmm, maybe... but likely just stretched skin, insides...> And if so, what can be done about that? <Solve the cause/s...> I know it must be very challenging to help me when all you have to go by are my lame descriptions, but I'd greatly appreciate anything you can offer. I didn't feed her fish food last night, but did give her a pea, thinking it might even be constipation. I just don't know what to do for her, and I feel bad seeing her so gigantic. Any ideas on what could be happening and what we can do to help her? Thank you so much! Nicki <I suggest a regimen of Epsom Salt treatment... for its laxative and ionic/cathartic effects... and the feeding of some sort of small crustacean foods that have the former effect... Brine Shrimp (Artemia) or Daphnia (frozen/defrosted is fine)... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm re the salt use. Bob Fenner>

Re: huge platy   5/10/07 Hi again, and thank you for your reply.... We had been giving her a variety of foods, including Tetra crisps, flakes, blood worms, Tubifex worms, Spirulina flakes, and occasional peas. <Ah, yes... needs more "roughage" here> Today I did a 50% water change and added some Epsom salt with the new water to the hospital tank. I have to say YIKES, because our nitrates were considerably higher than you suggested. They were somewhere over 40, which, according to our test kit, was acceptable (the 40 was, not over...). The reds on the little comparing card are kind of hard to distinguish between... <Yes...> (Our kit is the freshwater master kit by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) Are several water changes the best way to lower that? <Yes, in the short term. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked FAQs file above> It appears the 50% change took care of the little tank, but our big tank has been higher for some time, even after our weekly 30-40% changes. I found an article online which suggested doing several changes in one night, rather than several smaller ones over several nights. What are your thoughts? <Posted... please learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM> Also, should I discontinue the Maracyn-two in the hospital tank? Thanks again for taking time to help me. Nicki <Yes, I would and you're welcome. BobF>

Blue Platy... hlth.  -- 05/05/07 Hi Crew! <Greetings!>   I have a question.  I had bought a male blue platy from PetSmart how ever many weeks ago.   I looked in my tank tonight and saw that he looked deformed and his left eye is glazed over and poofy. <Sounds like an opportunistic bacterial infection such as Flexibacter columnaris. Very common in tanks with poor water quality/wrong water chemistry.> He struggles to swim to the top but gives up and floats down to the bottom. <Not good at all.> its really sad to watch because he's working so hard to live as long as he can.  His tail fin is clamped together as well. <fin-clamping is another very bad sign.> What should I do? <First: water chemistry and water quality tests. For platies, the tank needs to be at least 20 gallons in size, properly filtered, and with a pH of 7.5 and a hardness of "medium hard" to "hard" on whatever scale your test kits use. Temperature should be around 25C. Second: go buy some 'anti-mouth fungus & anti-Finrot' medication. This will help with the disease. Follow the instructions carefully, making sure you remove carbon from the filter. Take the carbon outside, dig a hole about six feet deep, drop the carbon in there, and then pour liquid cement on top. Now, give over the empty space in the filter formerly occupied by the carbon to some more biological filter media, such as filter wool or ceramic hoops, whatever suits your budget and filter type.> I want him to live. <A good attitude.> I know that there is probably not anyway I can help with his deformity but is there anyway that I can help him to live longer? <Same as with any fish: optimise water quality and water chemistry. READ aquarium books! Vary his diet -- platies are omnivores, and do best on vegetarian ("livebearer") flake rather than generic tropical fish flake. Also try offering some real algae from time to time, either taken from a clean garden pond or by using small strips of Sushi Nori and the like.> Please help.... Em <Cheers, Neale>

Platy parasite?  -- 04/29/07 Hello! First let me thank you for your wonderful service. I only wish I had found the site sooner (before we got fish-- I would now advise anyone contemplating an aquarium to research-research-research!). I have several questions I have not yet been able to find answers to among the articles or FAQs, or Googling as yet. I hope you can help. <Will try my best.> I have a two-week old fish tank, water volume approximately 7.5 gallons. It is in the process of  cycling.  Daily testing has been showing ammonia at '0', nitrates at approximately 10 ppm, nitrites from approx .25 to approaching .5 ppm (prior to 15-20% water changes every other day). <The nitrites are very bad. 0.25 is stressful, 0.5 potentially lethal to fish. A 7.5 gallon tank is tiny, by the way. Far too small for adult platies. They need at least 10 gallons.> During the past week I have been adding a small amount of Kosher salt (just a teaspoon per gallon replacement water, as I have two live plants). The water is hard, pH between 7.8 and 8.4 (sometimes those color test strips are a bit ambiguous), and alkalinity is between 180-300ppm. <Hard, alkaline water isn't a problem for platies. They like it, in fact. But the salt. Please stop using it. Are you keeping brackish water fish? No. So you don't need salt. Period. End of story. Put the salt on your food, not in your fish tank.> Now, I have four platys living in the tank. <Which is about four too many for this size aquarium...> Two of them were presenting clamped fins and some lethargy and scraping on tank decor. <Scraping = irritation. The fish are deeply unhappy. Tank is full of hostile, nasty water.> All of them began to produce long, stringy, white/clear feces. All of them seem to have good appetites, but one of the most affected is very thin, keeps to itself. None of them show any signs of external parasites. They look clean and sleek. The gills appear to be pink as far as I can tell. <The fish are fine, at least for fish that are being poisoned to death slowly.> After some research, I began to think it might be internal parasites, and I also began to see little worms in the tank. These don't seem to be Planaria, as they don't have that distinctive arrow-shaped head and flat body. They are tiny, thin, and threadlike, and under 60x magnification look for all the world like smooth little snakes with dimples for eyes. No segments, bristles, or anything distinctive. The smallest are difficult to see, but the fish eat the bigger ones when they notice them. They mainly show up when the gravel is disturbed, and float freely or crawl on the glass. Any idea what these are? <They're just planarians or nematodes. Not a problem. The reason your fish are unhappy is the water. THE WATER! You have too many fish in a too small aquarium with an immature filter. You should be doing 50% water changes daily. starting yesterday. And then you should be shopping for a 10 gallon tank. These two things are non-negotiable. Your fish will soon die otherwise, as sure as God made little green apples.> I'm thinking they probably aren't related to the symptoms, but at any rate I decided to try Jungle Parasite Clear last Wednesday. I broke a tablet and put 3/4 into the tank. One tablet is supposed to treat 10 gallons. My healthiest-looking fish soon started darting around the tank, crashing into things. Actually, I think she ate some particles of the medication. I panicked and removed 1.5 gallons and replaced it with fresh tap water (treated with Wardley's Chlor-out and 1 tsp salt dissolved). <Please stop with the salt already, and NEVER add medications to an aquarium UNLESS you have categorically identified the pathogen  or problem. What would happen if medics randomly gave us drugs without checking our symptoms? So don't do the same thing to your fishes.> Did I dilute the med too much? The only possibly good affect I noticed was that the mature male platy was feeling very frisky the next day. <No, he was feeling healthier because you'd done a water change. It's called Cause & Effect. Do the right things, and things get better.> At first, I worried it might be a last ditch effort to pass on his DNA before turning belly up. Previously, the poor old guy didn't seem to have too much interest. <I bet.> Also, the Parasite Clear package says to remove the charcoal from the filter, which I did, but at what point do you put it back in? <Never. Add it to your compost heap. What your aquarium needs is more biological filtration. Carbon in most freshwater tanks is useless.> Is this pH/hardness/alkalinity too much even for platys? If so, is there some stable, natural way to correct it? <It's fine. It's the water QUALITY not chemistry that matters here. Fish can adapt to dramatically different sets of water chemistry values given time. But poor water quality stresses and kills them in short order.> Last night (Saturday) I got up the nerve to redose the tank, only I dissolved the medication in the replacement water (again 3/4 tablet) before adding it to the tank. The fish didn't show a reaction this time. However, they still show pretty much the same symptoms, especially the fecal symptoms, and those creepy worms are still there. I didn't think I was overfeeding the fish. Not much, if any, food makes it to the bottom of the tank. <Make sure you're feeding them VEGETARIAN not generic fish flake. Platies are herbivores, and need substantial amounts of greens in their diet. Be sure and read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm and then peruse the Platy FAQs and such. Platies are quite robust fish, but they do need at least a modicum of care to do well.> Any advise would be so appreciated. <The usual. Read the links given, then buy/borrow an aquarium book. Do more water changes. Think about water quality before going off on tangents after the "mystery internal parasite" of the hour...> I know and expect that you will be brutally honest and show me where I am messing up. Sorry this is so long, but I have tried to give you a complete picture. <It's appreciated, and I hope you take my "brutally honest" advice above in this spirit its meant: simply to get your problems fixed and your fish healthy once more!> Thanks in advance, and keep up the wonderful work! Vivian <No problems. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Platy parasite? Test strips, NO2 danger   5/2/07 Good morning, <Morrow!> Whew!  You don't disappoint on the "brutal honesty!"  Thanks (wry  smile).   <Ah, must've been Neale...> So far, since Saturday night's water change the nitrites &  ammonia have been at "0,"  but I am keeping a close eye on them.   I think I was lulled by the test strip's wording regarding nitrite levels:  "caution" for .5 ppm, "stress" for 1 ppm, etc.  Since mine never quite made  it to .5 ppm, I never fully realized the danger, though I knew the goal was  "0". <Yes> I don't say this as an excuse, as the info is out there, but as a  warning to others new to fishkeeping.   <Thank you... will post appropriately> I also didn't realize the charcoal  element, made for the Aqua-clear 30 filter, was useless or worse with a cycling FW aquarium.  Thankfully, I did have the biological element  in!   <Good> Also, I was thrown by the long, white stringy stuff, and the fact that only two of them appeared actually stressed or unhappy.  You never said, but  should I assume you are implying that the fecal symptom is water quality  symptom, or food issue? <Could be either, neither... more likely the former than latter> They had been eating both veg.s and omnivore  flakes.  I could pass the Omni food off to a neighbor. <I would keep, use intermittently> Also, I am afraid a lot of us newbies are making the mistake of putting platys in tanks under 10 gallons, as I have seen a number of posts that show   that.  Thank you for letting me, and others, know.  Of course,  the LFS wouldn't tell us that.  As for the salt and platys, it is sometimes  recommended at WWM, though perhaps in "aquarium" form rather than plain old NaCl  (?). <Yes> I won't argue the point with you, as I planned to phase the salt out  after cycling, for the benefit of the plants.  And what do I know  anyway?  Apparently, not much!  (again, wry smile) Thanks again... I'm sure the fish would thank you too, if they could. V. <They have by your increasing their vitalities. Bob Fenner>

Sick bloated platy  4/26/07 I have a community tank with Platys, tetras, clown loach and guppies, and this morning one of my platys has swelled to twice her size, with all her scales sticking out at right angles. She still seems (relatively) happy, and was going for food - but she looks awful. <It sounds very probably she has "dropsy", what in humans is called oedema (or edema). This is a *symptom*, not a disease, and can be caused by all kinds of things. Essentially it is accumulation of fluid inside the body cavity, forcing the body to swell and the scales to stick outwards, giving what is known as the "pinecone" look.> I have just finished a 3-day course of eSHa 2000 (for fungus, Finrot and bacteria) as one of my loach looked as if they were getting velvet. <Probably unrelated. I've used this product many times even with quite sensitive fish and never had problems. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that poor water quality could be causing both the velvet and the dropsy, so either test the water yourself or take a sample in to your local retailer. At the very least, check the pH and nitrites.> What has happened to my Platy? <The causes of dropsy are almost impossible to identify without access to tissue samples and a microscope. Causes can be viral, bacterial, water chemistry, nutritional problems, etc. Cures are equally vague, and sometime fish improve, other times just die. Essentially, provide the very best care you can, and hope the fish's immune system puts things right.> I have taken her out of the tank in case she infects the others - help, what can I do? <Luckily, dropsy isn't particularly contagious, though if the background problem remains, other fish can develop the symptom. Your first step is to try and narrow down what might be wrong. Review water quality, addition of new fishes, and diet. Platies are partly herbivorous in the wild, and given just regular (meaty) flake tend to lose vigour. Platies and guppies also need hard/alkaline water, which your tetras and loaches don't like so much. For this selection of fish, I'd recommend around pH 7.2-7.5, 10-15 dH. Reflect also on the stocking density of the aquarium. One thing I've noticed is that overstocked aquaria seem to "die back" to sensible levels. So if you have all those fish in a 5 gallon tank, then that could easily be a factor. By the way, you do know how large clown loaches get, right? Around 30 cm. And they also prefer to be kept in groups.> thanks, Pippa <Cheers, Neale>

Platy Tank, hlth.  4/18/07 <<Tom here. (Didn't catch your name from your post so I'm sorry I can't 'personalize' this a little more. ;) >> I have three platies in a five gallon tank. There are two females and one male. Two days after buying them from Petco, the gold twin bar platy had a white spot on her tail fin. She feeds fine, but she keeps her fins clamped and doesn't move very much. I think she might have ick. <<I'd be more concerned about the clamped fins now than a single, white spot.>> The temperature is at a constant 77 degrees. <<Okay'¦>> She is chased sometimes by the other two fish and might be stressed out. <<I can practically guarantee it.>> Should we exchange her? <<No. With our help, hopefully, we'll get her back on her feet (fins?). The store will only destroy her in, Lord only knows, what fashion. Let's give her a chance.>> Should we put salt in the tank? How much if so? <<Good way to go. If you can elevate the tank's temperature to the low-80's, please do so'¦slowly. Also, purchase some 'aquarium' salt at your pet store (Kosher salt from the supermarket will work well, too). Remove about one gallon of water from the tank. Dissolve one-and-a-half to two tablespoons of the salt into fresh, dechlorinated water and add this to the tank. >> We have two plants that might have spread ick. Or is that possible? <<First, your plants most certainly could have been carrying the parasites. Second, and unfortunately, the salt is likely going to do them in -- the downside of treating with salt. It's a safe and effective way to treat some of the problems that occur with fish but plants don't fare well with it.>> Respond as soon as possible! <<I'll take that as a desperate plea for assistance rather than an order. ;) Post back with my name if you need further help/clarification with anything. Tom>>

Re: Platy Tank, hlth.    4/19/07 Tom, <<Hello, Elisabet. A pleasure.>> We are heating the tank now. Thanks for the help. <<Good, and happy to help.>> We decided to remove the plants and put them in a separate container. <<Excellent.>> Then we would add salt to the tank until everyone was happy again. <<Yes. This will take bit of time, however. You can research this but, in a nutshell, if we're dealing with Ich, it's life cycle is 'sped up' at higher temperatures (what we're trying to achieve). The salt is effective only when the parasite is in the 'infant' stage, i.e. looking for a host fish to infest. (This is true of any treatment that fights Ich.) In the meantime, the salt will also assist the fish in breathing and help in dealing with external wounds the fish might have. (Ich will leave wounds on the fish as the cysts- the 'white spots' - drop off.)>> Then after a few water changes of adding no salt the salt level would drop and we could add the plants again. Would that be OK? <<Certainly. The salt remains unless you perform water changes so you'll need to actually change the water in order to get the salt level down. (Some folks think that simply adding water lowers the salt level. Not so. You have to remove some tank water and replace it with fresh, unsalted water.)>> Elisabet <<I'll be here if you need more assistance. Tom>>

Re: Platy Tank, hlth.    4/19/07 Tom, <<Hello, again.>> The red female platy is very, very aggressive toward the other, sick one.  She constantly chases her and bites. Maybe she needs some more  tankmates? <<Not uncommon in the animal world, Elisabet. What seems "cruel" to us as humans makes perfect sense to animals. Your healthy Platy sees the sick one as a "weakling", one unable to protect or procreate. Isolate the sick Platy if at all possible. Beyond that, we're going to have to let Nature take its course. Not what you want to hear, I know. Tom>>

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