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FAQs on Bichirs, Family Polypteridae Health/Disease

Related Articles: Bichirs

Related FAQs:  Bichirs 1, & Bichir Identification, Bichir Behavior, Bichir Compatibility, Bichir Selection, Bichir Systems, Bichir Feeding, Bichir Reproduction, & FAQs on: Ropefish 1, Ropefish 2, & Ropefish ID, Ropefish Behavior, Ropefish Compatibility, Ropefish Selection, Ropefish Systems, Ropefish Feeding, Ropefish Health, Ropefish Reproduction,

Very sick Bichir.

Mystery Bichir Disease 4-13-13
Hello WWM,
<Austin>
I'm sorry to take your time, but I have a suggestion regarding the mysterious deaths that many folks seem to be experiencing. <Sure.>
My 2 year old bichir recently passed away in a much similar manner
(strange behaviour, followed by lack of appetite, then a bruised stomach).  I had mostly fed him shrimp pellets (a mistake) 3-4 times a week. I noticed him floating at the top of the tank by the heater, which isn't unusual, but he was passing a whole, undigested shrimp and there appeared to be blood around his anal fin.
<Undigested shrimp or shrimp pellet?>
 From there it took him about a week to die.  I don't have my exact water conditions from the time but all other fish (including a smaller female) were fine and still are. I'm thinking that possibly the shell <exoskeleton> of the shrimp is cutting these animals stomachs or intestines when
they eat them, leading the bruising (or as one person said exploding stomach).  <An interesting theory. If you think that's the case, then perhaps try a different food regularly and see what happens.>
 Again sorry for not really having a question and probably some poor grammar here and there, but I really hate to hear about this happening often. 
<No problem, maybe this will help somebody solve a riddle in their own tank.>
Thanks for your time, AA
<Welcome - Rick>

ornate bichir. No data of use, rdg. re hlth.        2/3/13
My ornate bichir has a lump in his stomach.  I fear that he may have swallowed a rock!  Could there be another cause of this?  If he did swallow a rock is it fatal? 
<Could be. Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>
Chelsey

Re: Polypterus senegalus; beh.., hlth.    2/1/14
Hello again Neale
<Gary,>
so it has been a few months since I mailed about my senegalus not growing.
Of the two other ones I was growing out one is also not growing. It has a similar small bulge just behind the front fins (never thought anything of it because I have seen it on TONS of bichir) I now feel this is a parasite based issue and am going to try and deworm the two with the bump. I have found that Levamisole is almost impossible to get my hands on unless bought in ridiculous bulk and I tend to distrust most fish medications anyway.
<Perhaps... Levamisole, Piperazine, Praziquantel, Fenbendazole and Flubendazole are all tolerated well by aquarium fish if used properly, particularly if under the guidance of a vet. Of these Praziquantel and Flubendazole at least are available as over-the-counter medications in the UK, and shouldn't be too hard to obtain.>
I have found a lot of conflicting discussion on the use of garlic as a de-wormer and wondered what your feelings were on this. If I am going to go the garlic route how would you recommend it be done?
<I would not recommend it... the scientific literature on deworming with garlic is extremely ambiguous if a quick peruse of Google Scholar is anything to go by.>
I was thinking of soaking the beef liver or salmon pieces I give them in a garlic extract (just normal food grade stuff). I will be putting the two in their own tank for the treatment (is only a 29 gallon but will work for a week or two).
If not the garlic do you have any recommendations as I said Levamisole is hard to come by here (guess its used in a cancer med now..?)  and most other Dewormers I have found are all in one cure all deals which again make me skittish.
<Do see above re: possible options.>
Thanks again
Gary
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Polypterus senegalus; hlth., sys. f's       2/5/14

Found the Flubendazole on Amazon and even got it for free with my card points.
<Real good.>
So I will begin the deworming. Sadly I lost my big male Senegalus over the weekend he somehow hit a 1/4 inch gap between my filter and lid just right and I found him to late :( .
<Yikes!>
So my breeding plans are now on hold  till the little ones grow out. I am ordering a new top for the tank after that loss however.
<Sounds wise. Good luck, Neale.>

Bichir has swollen area around its belly. Where's the useful info?    1/24/14
Hello!
I've had a Delhezi Bichir for around 7 months now. He was pretty small when I bought him, around 3 and a half inches or so. Now he's grown bigger. The issue is that I've been seeing a swelling around the belly region. It has been around a month or so since I've seen this. It gets bloated up when he eats more, so I reduced the feeding of the fish, and it went down a bit.
But still, a bump is persistently seen. Otherwise, his behavior and eating habits still remain the same.
I'll post a picture of the bichir in an attachment. And I heard that shelled peas work wonders (?) on such issues. Does this bear any truth?
<Worth trying. Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypdisfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Sick Polypterus/Birchir - please help!!      1/20/14
Hi guys
<Tony>
I have a 5 inch Birchir and he was quite fine until a few days ago.  Then he started behaving erratically, swimming without moving, and now spends a lot of time upside down.
<?!>
We've put Protozin
<For what?>
 in today but I'm not sure he'll last the night now.  A while ago (6 months+) his back end completely seized and he ws only able to move about with his front fins.  he did recover however after about 2 months (possible metal poisoning?) and was completely fine until, like I say, a few days ago.  Everything else in the tank is fine (cichlids mostly,
they are 'relatively' happy inn the same tank together so I don't think it's bullying).  Ay advice would be gratefully appreciated.
<Something wrong here... not likely water quality (due to the cichlids being fine); but nutritional, bullying...>
Sorry for the email, but i wasn't sure how to post on the FAQ page.
<No worries.>
Many thanks
Tony Baker
<For review; please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above; part. Foods... and Compatibility.  Bob Fenner>

Polypterus in big trouble! Help please. Cloacal distension issue     12/20/13
I have had a Polypterus for about a year now and about 6 months ago we noticed there was a small bump back near his anus/tail and it has slowly gotten bigger and bigger and now it is making it too hard for him to even move. It is getting bigger by the day and looks as if it may pop any second. Our guess is he swallowed a rock and now it is infected.  I am wondering if there is anything we can do for him. He is still eating like normal, frozen krill. But he is looking in bad shape and it is killing me to watch him suffer. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help him. Thank you so much!
<Mmm, I'd try Epsom Salt/MgSO4 first... ahead of any exploratory surgery. Search on WWM re for freshwater use; read Neale's article re and the Related FAQs files archived on its use. Bob Fenner>

sick Polypterus endlicherii  6/22/13
Hi crew,
I have a Polypterus endlicherii that i purchased about 12 weeks ago. When i bought him he was about 1.5 inches in length,
<Wow, small!>
 he is now close to 5 inches.
He is housed in a 28 gallon tank with a Fluval 304 canister filter. There are some lengths of pvc pipe for hides, and the top is mostly covered with artificial floating plants.
Water parameters are ammonia=0ppm,
nitrite=0ppm
nitrate =5ppm,
ph=6.4,
<Mmm, low>
hardness is 7dgh,
temperature has been kept at 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
He has been living with a black ghost knife about 4 inches long, and 3 African Butterfly fish.  each about 2 inches long.
<You  need a larger system, stat!>
I corresponded with Neal<e>
prior to getting the Butterfly fish, they will be going into my 150gal shortly, Neal had suggested starting them in a smaller tank so i could be sure they were eating before i put them in the large tank. I have been feeding with blood worms, flake food, floating carnivore pellets, sinking carnivore pellets, earthworms, and Tubifex worms. While i was searching your site this morning i learned that the tube worms are not good for the bichir and will no longer be feeding them. I did feed them only about a half dozen times.
<Mmm>
Now to the problem,  in the past three days 2 of the butterfly fish died, without any visible cause. both were acting normally and then dead later.
This morning i found the Polypterus with a red sheen on his back. I searched through your site but can not find anything about a red sheen on the back, lots about the belly, but my fish is colored normally there. I am sending a pic of him. i put him in a specimen container to take the picture. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
Kevin
<... this reads more like a likely environmental issue... Water changes, changing out filter carbon... and the move to the larger system. Am sending to Neale for his added input. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick Polypterus endlicherii  6/22/13
Thank you so much for the quick reply.
the 150 is cycled and ready with a couple small Plecos. (It has been set up for over a year.)
<Ahh!>
I will move them today. i just wanted to be sure it wasn't disease before i moved them.
<I see, understand; and would move the remaining fishes from the 28>
I truly appreciate all you do here, i have been using your site for many years now, it is an invaluable source.
thank you
Kevin
<You are welcome. BobF>
sick Polypterus endlicherii    /Neale   6/22/13

Hi crew,
I have a Polypterus endlicherii that i purchased about 12 weeks ago. When i bought him he was about 1.5 inches in length, he is now close to 5 inches.
He is housed in a 28 gallon tank with a Fluval 304 canister filter. There are some lengths of pvc pipe for hides, and the top is mostly covered with artificial floating plants.
Water parameters are ammonia=0ppm,
nitrite=0ppm
nitrate =5ppm,
ph=6.4,
hardness is 7dgh,
temperature has been kept at 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
He has been living with a black ghost knife about 4 inches long, and 3 African Butterfly fish.  each about 2 inches long. I corresponded with Neal prior to getting the Butterfly fish, they will be going into my 150gal shortly, Neal had suggested starting them in a smaller tank so i could be sure they were eating before i put them in the large tank. I have been feeding with blood worms, flake food, floating carnivore pellets, sinking carnivore pellets, earthworms, and Tubifex worms. While i was searching your site this morning i learned that the tube worms are not good for the bichir and will no longer be feeding them. I did feed them only about a half dozen times.
Now to the problem,  in the past three days 2 of the butterfly fish died, with out any visible cause. both were acting normally and then dead later.
This morning i found the Polypterus with a red sheen on his back. I searched through your site but can not find anything about a red sheen on the back, lots about the belly, but my fish is colored normally there. I am sending a pic of him. i put him in a specimen container to take the picture. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
Kevin
<<I do agree with Bob that this is likely environmental, especially given a bunch of fish have died within the last few days. But I would not rule out a secondary bacterial infection, especially if the belly is worse than the upper half of the body -- this is something you often see on catfish where the substrate is less that perfectly clean. Do also check for copper, and I'd also watch your pH; 6.4 is a bit low for a well-stocked aquarium, not least of all because biological filtration operates poorly below 7 and barely at all below 6. Changes in pH if your hardness (specifically, carbonate hardness) isn't adequate will be another risk; if you insist on a pH below 7, are you using an appropriate buffer? Cheers, Neale>>
Re: sick Polypterus endlicherii  6/22/13
Thank you
I miss typed the ph, it 7.4 not 6.4.
<Ah… that does change things!>
I add 1tsp baking soda per 20 gallons to my water (well water) and that raises it to 7.4 and a kH of 10.
<Sounds fine.>
The belly is fine  just the back discolored.  I will test for copper. I do weekly changes of 25% with vacuuming, and where the nitrates are at 5ppm it must be something I can't, or haven't, yet measured.
<Seems likely.
If this were me, I'd strip the tank down as far as necessary to "deep clean" the substrate, do a series of water changes (keeping water chemistry and temperature steady), and give the filter media a good rinse and refresh (keeping biological media happy while replacing carbon if used). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sick Polypterus endlicherii  6/22/13
Will do, and thank you for all your help
Kevin
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery Bichir Disease 4-13-13
Hello WWM,
<Austin>
I'm sorry to take your time, but I have a suggestion regarding the mysterious deaths that many folks seem to be experiencing. <Sure.>
My 2 year old bichir recently passed away in a much similar manner
(strange behaviour, followed by lack of appetite, then a bruised stomach).  I had mostly fed him shrimp pellets (a mistake) 3-4 times a week. I noticed him floating at the top of the tank by the heater, which isn't unusual, but he was passing a whole, undigested shrimp and there appeared to be blood around his anal fin.
<Undigested shrimp or shrimp pellet?>
 From there it took him about a week to die.  I don't have my exact water conditions from the time but all other fish (including a smaller female) were fine and still are. I'm thinking that possibly the shell <exoskeleton> of the shrimp is cutting these animals stomachs or intestines when they eat them, leading the bruising (or as one person said exploding stomach).  <An interesting theory. If you think that's the case, then perhaps try a different food regularly and see what happens.>
 Again sorry for not really having a question and probably some poor grammar here and there, but I really hate to hear about this happening often. 
<No problem, maybe this will help somebody solve a riddle in their own tank.>
Thanks for your time, AA
<Welcome - Rick>
Thank you! Bichir assistance, fdg. f'    4/15/13

I know this isn't a question, but I just wanted to let you guys know: Your website is invaluable. The information I received regarding my Senegal bichir when I first got him wasn't accurate or knowledgeable, and would surely have led to a slow and unpleasant death due to malnourishment. He's picked up a lot now that we're alternating him between chopped nightcrawlers and tilapia, with a beef heart snack every few days, and seems a lot more active and cheerful! The advice was also definitely helpful in connection to my other carnivorous fish. Anybody who searches thoroughly can probably find exactly what they're looking for.
<Ahh, thank you for this input. Will share. Bob Fenner>
Re: Thank you! Bichir assistance, hlth. concern       4/20/13
I do have a question about him now, though! I haven't been able to find anything about this anywhere online.
<Let's see>
Like I said, his diet was recently corrected and he seems a lot happier on it. He gets along well with the other fish in the tank (100 gallon, small community, a couple youngish cichlids put there to grow alongside him. They mostly leave each other alone, really only interact when trying to eat the same food,
<Could prove problematical. Make sure the Bichir is getting food>
no fights, just greedy fish) and is reasonably active with lots of burrowing, darting to the top for breaths of air, etc. However, it's his posture that I'm concerned about. He seems permanently bent at his neck. He has no visible sores, bloating lumps or discoloration, and is eating fine.
When he swims, he almost looks like he's running because his bent neck arches back up and his bottom half powers along laterally, making a sort of 'Z' shape.
<Mmm, have seen this in other specimens, particularly the smaller species, like senegalensis>
I haven't got a camera that is capable of capturing a decent picture of him with me at the moment, but I've included a quick sketch of what he looks like when at rest. That bend in his neck doesn't go away, and it almost seems like his head is fused that way. Aside from the worrisome strangeness of his posture, he seems fine, and it doesn't appear to inhibit his swimming capability at all. I'm afraid of what might happen if this is something really bad, though, and if this is something I can fix I'd love to find out what's wrong!
Thanks again for everything.
<I would not be concerned... as stated; this may well be "natural"... Bob Fenner>

Sick Senegal Bichir     7/28/12
To whomever can solve my problem
<Easy to do here>
           My Senegal Bichir has been living in my 10 gallon aquarium,
<... much too small a volume>

 with air and pump, for 3 years. He has rocks and logs to swim into and around. His normal diet is San Francisco Bay Brand Beef heart and Top Fin's Freeze dried medley.
<And this food selection...>

From time to time, I feed him some  minnows but not often. He is now around 7 inches.
<Stunted... from the improper environment and nutrition>
 Lately, about 3 days ago, I realized he has stopped moving completely other than his head so I can tell he is breathing, but he has stopped eating. Normally to move him out of his tank, to clean it, when my hand got close to him he would sprint to the other side of the tank, but last night I picked him up and he had maroon colored bruise-like spots on his underbelly about a centimeter wide. It almost looks like internal bleeding.
And there are no other fish in the tank.
   Thanks for any help you can provide,
   Theo
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm
the linked FAQs files above; particularly systems, foods/feeding and disease. Bob Fenner>
Senegal Bichir... sys., hlth... not listening, rdg.      7/30/12

hi,
i have two Senegal Bichirs and I've had them for about two months now. this past week I have been away and my grandmother have been feeding them.
<If away for a week or two, and you can't completely, 100% trust someone to keep them properly fed -- don't feed them! Fish can go without food for very long periods and come to no harm.>
when i came home on Saturday the water in my tank had turned almost completely black and it smelled like death. (seems like all my plant have rotted away over the week and that's the reason why for the colour and smell, it even turned my reddish/sand coloured gravel to blackish in colour) now both of the Bichirs seemed to have some trouble breathing
properly so i managed to get them up and into another tank i have. (aprox. 60L which i know is way too small)
<This is far, FAR too small.>

where they at the moment seem fine.
<And yet they're sick. Go figure. Seriously, you're rationalising here. You were lucky they survived up until now, and clearly it was only a matter of time before something went wrong. These fish need something above 150 litres.>
my problem is that i discovered when i came home from work today, that one of the Bichirs has a large-ish white spot in the middle of the forehead.
<Could be an opportunistic bacterial infection, fungus, or simply dead/damaged skin.>
it doesn't have any other spots and neither has the other Bichir. I was wondering if you know if it might be dangerous or not for the Bichir?
<Assume it *is* serious, and act accordingly. Ensure water quality is excellent (zero ammonia and nitrite) and don't put any food in the aquarium until they're both zero for two or three days in a row. Meantime, go shopping for a bigger aquarium and a better filter. Don't medicate just yet (many medications are toxic to Bichirs) and see if the good water quality and a bigger aquarium fix things by themselves.>
they are aprox. 15cm in size.
<Yikes! Much too big for an aquarium this small.>

I'm not sure of the water qualities as in Norway all shops are closed on Sundays and i have been at work today and didn't make the opening hours as i usually check for free at the local fish/animal store. (I am going to check tomorrow as i have the day off) I don't know if the sudden change in water can have caused something?
<Could well have done.>
sincerely
Michelle
<Do read about and understand the basic, fundamental problems of keeping big fish in small tanks. These fish are being stressed, sickened, killed by their world; fix it. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Senegal Bichir     7/30/12

hi again,
they are normally kept in a 240 l tank, which if the water is ok, I'm going to move them back into tomorrow.
<Good.>
the 60l was only a temporary shelter while i rinsed the other out. and i also haven't fed them for 2 days now.
<I see.>
i appreciate you took the time to answer :)
<Welcome.>
sincerely
Michelle
<Cheers, Neale.>

my delhezi bichir died :(     7/19/12
Hi,
<Hello,>
My Delhezi Bichir died a few days ago. I had him for about 3 weeks (he was maybe 4-6 inches long).
<A baby.>
At first he was in a 5 gallon Fluval edge aquarium and seemed happy.
<I see. Well, this tank is much too small, and moreover, has limited space for him to stick his snout out of the water to swallow air -- crucial to his survival.>

Then I moved him to a 36 gallon (cycled) tank with sand and eco-complete substrate. I noticed that his eyes started to turn white and a white sheen was covering him (as if he was a snake ready to shed!). His behavior seemed ok but I did a 30% water change and the next day he was dead. Here is some background info:
<Hmm…>
- I fed him raw shrimp pieces (which he seemed to like!)

<For sure. But these aren't enough on their own, in part because they are rich in Thiaminase, an enzyme that destroys vitamin B1. So Bichirs, like all predators, need a diet with lots of Thiaminase-free foods, of which cockles and tilapia are the two cheapest and easiest to buy from the grocery store.>
- when I did the water change the temp. changed about 6 degrees F and I did not chlorine-treat the water (I know ... I should have done better)!
<Indeed. Not good.>
I had thought that he was a hardy species that could tolerate a sloppy water change (I had some white clouds and danios in the same tank that are fine), but could I be wrong?
<Deeply and profoundly wrong. Bichirs are very delicate when young, and though they become fairly robust when larger (upwards of 15 cm/6 inches) they are not bullet-proof. Some aquarists get confused about them because they are armoured and air-breathing fish, so look really tough. In fact they are somewhat sensitive to poor water quality (non-zero ammonia, nitrite) as well as chlorine, copper and formalin.>
I guess what I really need to know is:
Any help? I would love to get another because they are so beautiful, but I don't want to kill another fish!
<Not especially difficult to keep, but would recommend the smaller species like Polypterus senegalus. Set up and cycle a tank of its own (around 30-40 gallons is fine) and buy a specimen around the 12-15 cm/5-6 inch mark. Feed a variety of foods: earthworms, bloodworms, krill, tilapia fillet, etc, but don't overfeed.>
-Zach
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: re: my delhezi bichir died :(    7/20/12

Great, thanks for your info!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Baby Bichir Sick? 5/2/12
Hello,
All but one time my questions in the past were answered by a good search of your website, and the other time you guys responded promptly and thoroughly. Thank you.
<Most welcome.>
I couldn't find the answer I needed this time on your site, probably because my problem is kind of vague, sorry. I have a baby Cuvier's bichir (Woola), less than 10cm in length. He still vaguely has baby stripes. I have him alone in a 10 gallon tank with a hidey log, sand substrate, and a big, fake floating plant. I ran out of water testing equipment, but last Thursday all parameters were ideal (I plan on picking up more today). I can't get pics of Woola as he likes to hide in the plant, is very cryptically colored, and even on the open floor is dappled by shadows from the plant. Also, my camera lens is scratched. Now the problem. My bichir has refused food two days in a row.
<Happens.>
He has never refused food before.
<What are you feeding him? Few fish will eat the same thing day after day, and some foods are downright harmful: Tubifex, live goldfish, maybe even bloodworms.>
This is super worrisome as he hadn't been fed for a day before refusing, so he has gone 3 days without food. I cleaned his tank on Sunday and did a 20% water change. I noticed he was hyperventilating, but assumed it was because of the tank clean freaking him out. He's getting noticeably skinnier fast.
<Which shouldn't happen. These fish have a low metabolism and in the wild don't eat much.>
He has a small lump 2/3 down his abdomen. It looks just like when he has eaten a big meal, except it's farther back than usual. Could this be a impacted bowel?
<Do suspect worms given the fact he's not eaten much and is getting thin quickly.>
He's been lethargic over the past few days, and hanging out at the very top of the tank, almost out of the water, which he has never done before. He is also listing very very slightly to one side and I think is having problems swimming, but he's never been graceful. I noticed on one of the few times he rested at the bottom of the tank that he had, not strings, but trails of like mucus hanging off his anterior belly.
<Fish often produce excess mucous when stressed.>
Not very thick. It was gone a day later, but then came back. I can't see any external parasites on him or the tank, but when I cleaned the tank on Sunday, the decorations were a little slimy. I have been feeding him different kinds of flesh, trying to vary his diet, e.g. shrimp, smidgen of beef, scallop, fish, etc. I always cut the food into little pieces and clean any uneaten food (rare occurrence) out in under 12 hours. Also, I nuke Woola's food and make sure it is thoroughly cooked and theoretically germ/parasite free.
<Don't understand this. If you cook meat, you destroy some of the vitamins.
That's fine for humans because [a] we somewhat evolved to eat cooked food and [b] supplement the meat with vegetables and fruit, some of which is eaten raw. But predators absolutely must have raw meat, unless of course you use a vitamin supplement (which is what we do for cats and dogs).>
I just found out that when my Dad fed him during my recent business trip, he ignored my instructions and gave the bichir uncooked shrimp bits for several days in a row, and when Woola didn't eat all of it one day, just left the old food in the tank and didn't feed him the next day. Woola ate it. The last two times I tried to feed him, I used beef or fish. In the past he always goes after shellfish or worms faster (understandable) so I assume he prefers them, but I try to add variety and he normally eats *anything*. So, what's your bet?
<Doubt the fact the shrimps were raw had much to do with this, assuming of course these were raw shrimps sold for humans to eat. Plus, shrimp from the sea rarely carry parasites freshwater fish can catch (this is, for example, one reason why Sushi is always marine fish, not freshwater fish).>
Is he just ignoring the food because he doesn't like it and has gotten picky? Has he gotten internal parasites or an internal infection from my Dad's feeding? Impacted bowel and I should try peas?
<I'd deworm him for sure. As for peas, if he eats them, great.>
Some weird fungus/algae I can't see yet that is linked to the aquarium slime? Just to check, he originally had gravel. I thought I saw him swallow a piece one time, but then he didn't die or show any distress and kept eating, so I assumed I was mistaken. This was ~1 month ago and prompted the switch to sand. Could he have swallowed the gravel and it took until now for it to mess up his tiny, baby innards?
<Doesn't seem likely, but it could happen I suppose and impossible for us to know without an x-ray (or autopsy).>
I don't know if I should leave him be, treat him/his tank for bacteria, internal parasites, or bribe a fish vet (3 hours away) to x-ray for gravel.
<Worthwhile.>
I'm worried if I do nothing, he'll die horribly, but if I treat him for the wrong thing, it could make something else worse. If there's nothing wrong with him and I'm being paranoid, then adding anti-parasite meds could be very harmful to such a basal fish.
Help me Wet Web Media. You're my only hope!
Kathryn
<A very tough one to diagnose this, but intestinal worms would be my bet.
Cheers, Neale.>
Sick baby bichir update
Hello again, just got home from work and everything's worse! Some of the scales around the abdominal lump are going white. Along the dorsal fins, the slime coat is sloughing off. Online research has me bouncing between Ich, Columnaris, or Flukes. I need to go get testing strips. I'm not used to sand, and just stirred it up for the first time Sunday when I cleaned. I realized the fish hyperventilating got worse every time I disturbed the sand. I may have ammonia producing bacteria there or something that is making this all worse. I don't know what to do. I just did a water change Sunday, should I stir up the sand and do another? Should I try medicating the bichir?
Kathryn
<Do see previous medication. Tapeworms or some other intestinal worms are the most likely problem here, in my opinion, though a bacterial infection may well be setting in. Deworming and a systemic antibiotic (perhaps two, one gram-positive and one gram-negative) makes sense. Do of course check water quality, water chemistry, temperature. Cheers, Neale.>
Baby Bichir Sick Penultimate

WWM Crew,
So, a few hours after I got home, it became obvious that whatever Woola has, it's killing him.
<Oh dear.>
I estimate death in 36 hours or less. He's having trouble controlling buoyancy and having scale issues. Plus, I've kept enough fish for enough years to just know when a fish is dying. He's hiding too. Novel behavior. I figured, what the hell, he's going to die anyway, and dosed his tank heavily. Water parameters have neutral pH, normal KH, and 0 NO2, but repeated testing showed extreme GH and 40-60 ppm NO3 (no nitrites but nitrates? weird).
<Not really. It's what you'd expect if the filter is working.>
Anyway. I added a small dose of ammonia lock after a partial water change to reduce nitrates.
<Won't do this. Random medicating rarely helps. Do you often add stuff like this "just in case"? Do be aware that many medications and potions can be toxic, especially so to primitive fish like bichirs, rays and lungfish.>
Waited 30 min, then added triple sulfa, 30 min, then a Metronidazole and Prazi mixture.
<Ah, yes!>
At this point, it can't do more harm than good. Tank's at ~81 F, and as he's the lone occupant, I'm not putting him in a hospital tank. Here's hoping I can save him. You didn't respond, and I totally understand. I know you are all volunteers, and thanks anyway for all the help you've provided over the years.
<Hmm… yes, your queries weren't in the Inbox last time I checked on the WWM mail server. Of course I'm working on UK time, so come early/late to the party, depending on your point of view.>
You do an invaluable service. I've never kept a bichir this young before, so at least this is a learning experience, even if the only lesson is how to clean sand and don't let your dad who has a history of fish killing to feed your fish.
Thank you,
Kathryn
<Sorry haven't been able to fix this for you. Cheers, Neale.>
Baby Bichir Sick: The Final Chapter 5/2/12

Hello,
<Hello again Kathryn,>
So normally I don't medicate fish much, haven't really needed to since some early, goldfish keeping mishaps due to ignorance.
<I see.>
The only other times I've used medicine were when I bought cheap but pretty Bettas I knew were sick. I know! I know! but usually I can save them. I woke up this morning to a dead bichir and a huge, worm like thing, also dead, protruding out of his anus.
<Ugh.>
I'm a research scientist, so I, of course, performed an autopsy and ran some tests. No unusual bacteria or fungal proteins detected, nor any other parasites visible under a microscope. As far as I can tell, the parasite or a parasite/medicine-shock combo killed the bichir.
<Seems plausible.>
The parasite is a form of nematode native to Oklahoma (where I live) ponds and streams and usually infects bigger, wild fish. I've only had the bichir for a month, and got him off a local, fellow bichir enthusiast who figured out how to breed them. I just called him, turns out, the idiot uses untreated water from a local stream in some of his tanks because it's "more natural"!
<Oh dear.>
The fish was probably infected when I bought him :-(. I informed the idiot to check for "striped wrigglers", local slang for the parasite, and buried my fish under a plant outside my lab. I don't know if you wanted to hear the ending to the story, but there it is.
<Thanks for this. Actually useful. Seems my hunch was a reasonable one, which helps. Too bad we couldn't help sooner, but to be honest, it sounds as if a day or two wouldn't have made much difference.>
Just in case you don't read the above:
*Thanks For All Your Help Over the Years. WWM is awesome and invaluable.*
Kathryn
<And thanks for these kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Polypterus senegalus/Other issues  12/6/11
Hi guys, hope everything is well. Today I lost my Polypterus senegalus. I had it for almost 6 months. It was about 4 inches long and it always ate and seemed fine. I had it in a 55 gallon tank with plenty of caves and driftwood and plants. Also, a 5 pack of tiger barbs, an electric blue jack Dempsey
<Mmm, these species are "too rambunctious" to keep w/ Polypterids>
, a black baby whale, a Geophagus jurupari, and a pair of leopard Ctenopoma. I noticed it seemed a bit weird swimming around but he looked normal and then in about 20 minutes it's underbelly started dis-coloring, turning red and purple-ish and eventually burst through it's skin.
<Mmm, actually a quite common scenario... have seen these animals lost to bruising, likely quick onset bacterial issues many times>
I actually opened up it's stomach when it was dead to see if it swallowed a rock or something but the stomach just popped and I didn't notice anything in the stomach like gravel or worms unless there too tiny to see. All the fish get along well. I got them all small hoping they wouldn't kill each other and so far so good. Anyways, I was wondering if you guys could tell me what happened.
<Not on the basis of this information, no. Again, I would not place barbs of any size, nor aggressive cichlids w/ Bichirs or Ropefish>
My water quality is great as I tested everything after all this. I use a gravel vac once a week and change 10 gallons of water each time. I was told to use aquarium salt once a month
<... a very poor idea in general. See Neale's piece on salt use on WWM>
to act as a preventative for disease. Other than that I use a chemical to remove the chlorine from the new water I'm putting in. That's all I put in my tank.
<Good>
Is there anything else you would recommend that won't disturb the fish?
<No; I don't even use dechloraminator myself>
 Or am I okay with what I'm doing? I've had this tank running for about a year now. I've become very happy with my tank and my fish. Especially because I know realize that the Ctenopoma are a mating pair!
<Neat!>
Also, soon the wooden floors are getting redone at my house. I have a neighbors house that I can set up a spare 26 gallon tank I have. I was planning to use gravel and water from my 55 gallon tank as well as putting the African root pieces and all the plants I have in that tank. I was slowly going to add fish in (every 2-3 days) after it's been running for 3-4 days. I'm worried to move the fish like this. I could leave it in my house in my basement under the floor getting redone but I worry about the fumes and dust the workers will make. What do you think about this? 
<Ask the vendors who are doing the floor. Most low VOC app.s nowayears call for simply covering tanks w/ damp towels, turning off air-entraining mechanisms>
Sorry the message is so long. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and help me out. I'll wait to hear from you.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Polypterus Senegalus/Other issues

Thank you for your help Bob. I have a few more questions if you don't mind.
I also lost one of my tiger barbs the same night that I lost the Polypterus.
It was floating with a swollen belly and the Polypterus died with the same issue only that it's belly ripped through it's skin.
<Mmm, again, that too-often bacterial, red-bruised syndrome...>
I'm worried there's a problem with worms or parasites in my tank. What is something I can use to treat whatever is going on and prevent this from happening again?
<Nothing I would do prophylactically, no. Optimizing the environment, nutrition are your/the best bets>
 But is also safe for all the other fish in my tank. Is it a food that I might be using?
<Could be a contributing cause>
 I have a premium flake food. Also, I use frozen bloodworms
<These are proving problematical in recent years. I'd severely limit their use>
and frozen Mysis shrimp as the baby whale will only eat those. I also use freeze dried plankton and krill. I constantly switch each time I feed them but mostly use the flake.
I read up on the aquarium salt links I found on your website. So I only use the salt to treat certain issues?
<Yes; my and Neale's advice>
Not for regular use with each water change?
<Correct... there is some salts (combinations of metals and non-metals... I taught H.S. physics, chemistry... and bio.) in all tap/source waters>
And I have city water, so I'm nervous not to use a chlorine remover/water conditioner and I've always used it and most of my fish in my tank have been with me close to a year now.
<See WWM re water changes... I am a strong practitioner/advocate for setting water out a week in advance of use...>
 I'll wait to hear from you. Thank you
<Cheers Ben, BobF>

Baby Bichir.    10/15/11
Hi, I just got this baby bichir for my 28 gallon bow front, and I didn't know that it needed small gravel/or sand for the tank. I was wondering if this could be an issue?
<An issue?>
Also, my bichir spends much of it's time swimming around rapidly at the top of the tank, what should I do?
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RopefishSysF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Baby Bichir. 10/15/11

This is the most pathetic excuse for help I've ever received, in all the time it took you to respond my fish died. THANKS FOR THE F*****G HELP.
<Whoa there, Ryan. If you look at the link Bob sent you, the VERY FIRST question at the TOP of that page is about Ropefish and substrate choices. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RopefishSysF.htm
Given that your e-mail didn't really ask anything beyond the fact your tank had sand and your Bichir looked agitated, this page would actually be quite a good place to start your own research. Also on that page, the VERY FIRST LINK at the top of the article is a link going to Bob's piece of Ropefish and Bichirs generally. If you took the time to reach that article, you'd likely come across any number of things you might not have considered -- and certainly didn't ask us about. We offer help, yes, but we're volunteers, and we're free. The aquarists here are among the best in the hobby. But our time isn't unlimited, and often the best we can do to help you is direct you to a page where you can do your own research. If, after reading, you can't help yourself, then feel free to write back with a more detailed question. In any event, your anger here is misguided and rude.
Cool down, think about the situation more carefully, and act accordingly.
Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Senegal Bichir     9/14/11
Hello, thank you for putting together this amazing site!
I have a Senegal Bichir living in my 20gal tank. He is only 4ish inches now and will move to a bigger tank once he and his tankmates (Bala shark,
<Gets quite large...>
Synodontis catfish, and Pleco
<Depending on species, this too>
) grow up. For the past couple of days, the bichir has wedged himself behind the filter intake and stays back there all the time.
<Kind of what Polypterids do... behaviorally>
I thought he had bloat so I put him in quarantine with Epsom salt and it seemed to help a bit as he was swimming around in the quarantine.
About 5 minutes after I put him back in the main tank however, he nibbled on a shrimp pellet and promptly shoved himself back behind the filter intake.
I know he's not being sucked in by it because I saw him force himself into the narrow gap. He has plenty of hiding places and tubes he can chill out in on the bottom of the tank, but he chooses to go up there. Is this normal behavior?
<Yes. You may benefit from reading re Bichirs on WWM:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm
and the linked files above>
Thanks,
S
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Senegal Bichir   9/15/11

Thanks so much! He's started coming out a lot more now, but I think he's just made that spot his base of operations. The article was extremely helpful. Just a new fish owner overreacting!
<Ahh! Cheers, BobF>

Senegal Bichir, hlth., sys.    4/1/11
Hello, I have come to your site on several occasions for answers to many questions and found it very helpful.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a couple of issues I have not been able to find answers to though and am hoping you can help... I recently (2 weeks ago) upgraded from a 20 tall to an Aqueon 55 gal with an Aqueon CA55 filter which moves 355 gallons an hour or just under 6 1/2 tank turns per hour. I used river pebbles/rocks purchased from the Wal-Mart garden center which I rinsed very well, put in a few live plants, rocks and a piece of wood.
<I see. While pebbles can look nice, they're a pain to clean around, trapping all kinds of gunk! They're also pretty unpleasant for some types of fish, primarily burrowing and bottom feeding fish that like to root about in the substrate, so be careful what you choose.>
In the filter I put the bio-filters from the old tank and put some of the old gravel into pantyhose in the bottom of the tank until the water cycles. Water conditions are: Fresh water,
Avg. Temp 75 degrees,
PH 7.8 - 8,
hard water,
nitrates in the caution zone and nitrites are in the stress range.
I did a 15% water change/gravel vac the day before yesterday
<While you have non-zero nitrite levels, do 20% water changes at least every second day.>
and added tank salt
<Why? Salt is of little value in freshwater fishkeeping, and liable to stress those species that dislike it.>
and supplemental bacteria.
<Usually pointless, but shouldn't do any harm.>
And I reduced feedings to every other day.
<Ah! Good.>
The community consists of: 6" Albino Rainbow Shark,
7" Plecostomus,
4 Chinese Algae Eaters 4"- 6",
<These will NOT get along once mature.>
3 Zebra Danios and a
5.5" Senegal Bichir.
<A risky companion for life with Plecs and especially with Chinese Algae Eaters. Bichirs are targets for fish that like suck at mucous, and I personally WOULD NEVER trust such fish with Chinese Algae Eaters.>
All of these fish I've had since they were an inch or so in size except the Danios which were introduced as food
<Yikes! These use of feeder fish is not only expensive but also dangerous.
It introduces parasites, it promotes aggression, and above all else, Cyprinidae including Danios (and minnows, and goldfish) contain too much fat and a substances called thiaminase that destroys vitamin B1. If you want to try live foods, try earthworms. Of course, earthworms will vanish in a tank with pebbles, die, and end up rotting. But in a tank with fine gravel or smooth silica sand, the Bichir will hunt for worms and consume them during the night. The natural diet of these small Bichirs is primarily insect larvae: bloodworms, mosquito larvae, etc.>
but are still a little too large for the Bichir to eat. My issues are, other than the high nitrites, (1) the Danios have developed very red gills.
<Reaction to non-zero nitrite levels.>
(2) The Bichir (Spike) spends a lot of his time swimming rapidly back and forth the length of the tank.
<Stressed. They're burrowing fish, and psychologically want to root about hunting for midge larvae and other wormy foods. Your pebbles are frustrating that. Coupled with non-zero ammonia levels, and potentially unpleasant and certainly territorial tankmates (the CAEs) and you have a nightmare scenario for this species..
Supposedly a bottom dweller he spends a lot of his time at the top of the water. He started doing this shortly before I moved him to the big tank and I thought he was just outgrowing the 20 gal but he still does it. Is this an indicator of something more serious?
<Yes.>
And am I on the right track to stabilizing my water chemistry?
<My gut feeling is that you aren't experienced enough to be altering water chemistry. If you think a pH-down product is what you want, or you don't understand how carbonate hardness works to stabilise pH between water chemistry, you shouldn't touch water chemistry. Hard, alkaline water is fine for Bichirs. They are not at all fussy. But messing about with water chemistry can be extremely risky.>
I went with river pebbles because I don't like the way the color flakes off of regular tank gravel after a few vacuums.
<If your tank is dirty after you feed the fish, you [a] don't have sufficient mechanical filtration and/or turnover; or [b] are feeding much too much. Plain vanilla gravel shouldn't change colour at all, but dirt and algae will cover the granules if conditions in the tank aren't clean.>
Was that a mistake also?
<Yes.>
I sent a pic of the tank but couldn't get a pic of the red gills because the Danios move too fast. Sorry, I probably have more questions than you have patience, but thank you in advance!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar... env., hlth.   3/9/10
Hello,
<Hello,>
My name is Kyle I bought a Dinosaur Bichir about 4 months ago and an Oscar about 2 months ago and they were very active and the other day I noticed that there were tiny little white worms on the glass
<Planarians or nematodes; usually means you're (dramatically) overfeeding and/or (seriously) under-cleaning the aquarium. Think of them as rats or cockroaches, moving into the "kitchen" that is your aquarium.>
of my tank so I cleaned it all out and everything and the next day when I got home from school my fish were just laying there,
<Did you clean the filter? Did you clean the filter so aggressively you killed off the filter bacteria?>
I put some food in for them but they never ate usually when I feed them they swim around the top of the tank and a few hours later my Oscar died and now my Bichir has this pretty big white spot on his back and his back fin and it looks like he is bleeding from the inside around it... can you tell me whams wrong with him??
<He has Finrot, likely from chronically poor water conditions. Treat with an antibiotic. Don't waste your time with Melafix/Pimafix, and try to avoid using anything containing copper of formalin, as these can be toxic to Bichirs. Clearly, you need to ALSO dramatically improve the way you maintain this aquarium. Polypterus senegalus is quite hardy, but it does need an aquarium around 180 litres/45 US gallons to do well, plus a filtration system rated at not less than a turnover of 6 times the tank per hour. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be 0, and water chemistry should be soft to moderately hard, without an extreme either way in terms of pH; 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6.5-8 works fine. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar  3/9/10
Well I wasn't home for about a week and I asked my brother to take care of them for me and when I got home there was a bunch of uneaten food on the bottom of my tank
<Well, there you go.>
and those worms so I took my fish out and cleaned everything with boiling water
<Yikes!>
and got a new filter
<Why? If the tank is filthy, by all means siphon out detritus from the gravel, and change up to 50% of the water on one day, another 50% the next day, and so on until the tank is nice and clean. But never, ever replace all the biological filter media at once. You can safely change up to 50% of the biological media per 6 week period. But changing more than that -- or deep cleaning mature media so it effectively becomes new media again -- will cause major problems for water quality. Without filtration bacteria in sufficient numbers, the tank will crash as water quality plummets.>
I change the water in my tank once a month so the have fresh water and because my other brother told me it helps them grow faster.. is there any specific kind of antibiotic u would recommend?
<Not really, no; anything like Triple Sulfa or Maracyn II are good choices and should do the trick. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar  3/9/10
Ok ill remember that but I figured if the worms were in my filter I wouldn't be able to get rid of them so that's why I got a new one...
<The worms like likely come right back if conditions deteriorate. They travel into tanks on plants, with live food, etc.>
alright thank you, can I get them at any pet shop or do I have to buy them online?
<In the US, antibiotics for fish can be purchased at pet stores, but elsewhere you will need to ask a vet. Antibacterial medications such as eSHa 2000 may work in lieu of antibiotics, but it does depend on the severity of the infection. Do follow the instructions, in particular with regard to dosage and removal of carbon from the filter (if used). All the medications in the world won't help if conditions in the tank aren't good, so check nitrite level, and make sure this is zero.>
thanks for everything, Kyle
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dinosaur Bichir and Oscar 3/10/10
Alright
thank you for everything
Kyle
<You are welcome. Good luck! Neale.>

Re: Your opinion? Bichir... hlth./appearance   1/29/10
Many thanks. New question.
The young bichir has a red worm type thing coming out of his gills. One from each gill. This is probably a fluke correct?
Rob
<No. Assuming this is still a small specimen, under 10 cm, it is probably the remains of the external gills Polypterus spp. possess when young.
Cheers, Neale.>

Bichir (RMF, thoughts on a swollen Bichir?)<<Where you've referred. B>>   1/26/10
I read the page on bichers and think our dinosaur Bichir who is about 1.5 or so may be developing the problem described, but I'm not sure.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/polypdisfaqs.htm We have a 150 gallon tank with various cats, 3 parrots, 2 Bala sharks, 1 rubber eel,
<As in a caecilian? Typhlonectes natans? Not ideally suited to life with fish.>
4 Gourami, 1 rope fish, 1 small African knife fish, and 2 redline torpedo barbs. Everyone gets alone for the most part. The Bichir did bite one of the small cats recently, but I think we forgot their dinner the night before.
<Possibly, but check also there are enough hiding places for everyone.
Bichirs are snappy when it comes to territory, and while Polypterus senegalus is a fairly mild mannered species, there's no point creating situations where fish fight.>
We cleaned the tank thoroughly a few weeks ago, and added water conditioner as always. We clean it every 2-4 weeks and have more than adequate filtration and oxygenation - power heads and air stones. With the variety of fish, we put in OSA flakes, sinking discs for the cats, shrimp pellets, and rotate worms and krill or brine shrimp. The Bichir eats very well and loves the shrimp more than anything.
<Shrimp is a good food for them up to a point, but do understand it contains a lot of thiaminase. There's good evidence that diets high in thiaminase lead to vitamin B1 deficiency, and this probably explains many mystery ailments among predatory fish.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
Use foods with thiaminase (shrimp, prawn, mussel) only 2-3 days per week. The majority of a predatory fish's meals should be foods with no thiaminase, such as tilapia fillet, cockles, or earthworms.>
We occasionally feed them peeled soft peas. Our water has been very stable - all within normal parameters for the last year - we lost just one fish - a barb, during that time. We have a little bit of an algae problem and have treated it by cleaning everything and using Algae Fix a few times a week.<What! Look, algae remedies are toxic. Even fish medications can be toxic when used freely, and very much so to "primitive" fish like Bichirs. Who knows what Algicides do to them! If you have an algae problem, don't throw potions at the symptoms, since you'll be doing this forever. Understand why you have an algae problem.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_3/fwalgae.html
Perhaps the tank is overstocked. Perhaps there aren't enough live plants. Perhaps the lighting is too poor to support higher plants. Whatever. But throwing potions into the aquarium is simply adding one more variable to understanding why this fish is sick.>
A couple weeks ago, we noticed the Bichir had a small lump on his belly - toward the front. I wondered if he ate a big pellet or was constipated. So we put some peas in there for fiber. It did not help. Today, we noticed it has grown considerably. He is still very active and eating well, so I think if we can treat whatever it is, he should be ok.
<Yes, I see. It does look like he's eaten a tankmate! But if that isn't the case, it isn't altogether clear what the problem might be. One confusing factor is we can't rule out either vitamin deficiency or a negative
reaction to the Algicide, both of which are possibilities.>
Given we have a 150 gal tank, not sure we want to treat the whole tank. We do not know what the barb died from recently. He seemed ok. We have not added any new fish in a year, or changed their diet. Can you please offer your opinion?
<I'd start by laying off the Algicide, optimising water quality, and stop feeding foods containing thiaminase. See if better conditions and a better diet lead to any improvement. If things didn't get better in 2-3 weeks, then I'd think about possible treatments.>
I saw the Flagyl treatment and wondered if I should put him in his own tank for that.
<Parasites are most likely to get in via "feeder fish", and if you've used them at some point, then treating against protozoan and worm parasites may be worthwhile. Because Polypterus are mostly wild-caught fish, they may come into the aquarium already infected with tapeworms or nematodes, in which case treating with an anti-worm medication would be useful. In either case, treatment in a hospital tank would be advisable.>
We have a few 10 gal quarantine tanks for that purpose. Is this problem contagious?
<Unlikely.>
I attached a few pictures. If it's not clear or you would like more, let me know.
Thanks so much!
Kimber
<Cheers, Neale.>


Re: Bichir hlth.  1/27/10
Thank you very much for your advice.
<Happy to help.>
I read it and will toss the algae potion and hold the shrimp for a few weeks. I have earthworm flakes that I can give him instead.
<Earthworm flakes? Never heard of those. Live earthworms are better. For one thing, they contain indigestible matter (i.e., soil) that helps clear out the gut, like a laxative. Secondly, they contain plant matter (i.e., the decaying vegetation they swallow) and that is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Dried foods on the other hand tend to have reduced vitamin content and also tend to promote constipation. Since abdominal swelling is one of the symptoms here, using any kind of dried food would be wrong. Stick to fresh and live foods only.>
I'm going to reread your email and make a list of interventions. I do think they have enough hiding places, we have two very large castles and a large log. No real plants, just fake - we haven't been able to keep them rooted
and doing good - the cats are hard on them.
<Floating plants are good in situations like this. I have a tank with a Panaque catfish that merely views most plants as food, but by adding Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit, I've got lots of greenery and algae problems are virtually nil, despite the tank being heavily stocked. Seriously, I wipe the front glass maybe once every two or three months.>
Lots of aeration. Our bichir is an avid swimmer and actually doesn't hide a lot in the castles.
<Can he even fit in them? Bichirs have little flexibility, and won't use caves they can't swim into easily.>
We have new light bulbs. We haven't had feeder fish or anything new in well over a year, so can I rule out parasites?
<Certainly less likely. However, because bichirs are (usually) wild caught, there's also a small chance they could bring something with them from the Nile or wherever. To be fair, the risk isn't that high, and usually if bichirs do come with parasites already present, they're external worms or lice that are relatively easily to deal with.>
We had an itch outbreak after the last ones and treated the whole tank - and lost quite a few fish.
<Something that really shouldn't happen, so do review your treatment methods. Ick isn't fatal, and it's easy to diagnose. The way it kills fish is by allowing secondary infections to get into the open wounds caused by the parasites. So in practise, if you catch the infection early on, the actual risk of deaths is very small. But because Ick medications commonly include copper or formalin, they can actually be pretty lethal themselves, so you need to know when to use off-the-shelf medications like these, and when to use plain salt and heat instead. One other issue with Ick medications (as opposed to salt) is that they're removed by carbon, so if you happen to use carbon in your filter (not something I recommend) that carbon will make treatment ineffective.>
The rubber eel is a Typhlonectes natans. We were told he would be fine in the aquarium, and has done well but hides a lot.
<They are burrowing animals that don't like light.>
He's fun to watch. Is he not suited because of the environment? Is there something I need to watch for with him?
<Caecilians breathe through their skin, so they're very sensitive to poor water quality. They're also likely to be stressed by medications not expressly known to be safe with amphibians. Because they have delicate skins, they're easily scratched by gravel, and once that happens, secondary infections are common. The general rule is not to mix amphibians with fish.
They don't tend to live side by side in the wild, and a cautious approach works well in aquaria too.>
The only fish we have had a very hard time keeping is Plecos. No idea why.
We've tried several small types, but no luck.
<Could be various things. Copper is toxic to them, and being benthic fish they are very sensitive to poor water circulation at the bottom of the tank. Bichirs are obligate air-breathers, so rather less fussy in this regard. Plecs are omnivores rather than carnivores, and aren't scavengers in any sense, so do need a specific diet carefully planned around their needs.>
We've had the bichir for probably 18 months or more, so wouldn't any infections or worms show up by now?
<Yes, likely so. But wild-caught fish may come with low level parasitic infections that don't cause problems until water quality or diet or some other factor reduces their immune system.>
We don't have any tiny tankmates for him to eat.
<Good.>
Thanks again!!!! This is so helpful!
Kimber
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: My first aquarium... Bichir hlth., Mormyrid sel.   12/28/09
My bichir has developed a white mossy growth covering much of his body.
The rest of the tank seems fine. Is this the ich I hear about?
<No; is likely Finrot and/or Fungus. Treat promptly but with great care:
formalin and copper-based medications can be lethal to Bichirs, Mormyrids, Catfish and Loaches.>
I have a baby whale in the tank along with a featherfin catfish and the ill bichir.
<"A" Baby Whale (Pollimyrus sp.) won't last long... these are highly gregarious fish that should be kept in groups of at least five specimens. Singletons tend to pine away, while groups of 2, 3, or 4 often end up with one bully and the rest dead... and of course the remaining bully ends up pining, so then there are zero. Do always read up on fish prior to purchase.>
Many thanks for your help.
Rob
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My first aquarium
Ouch I tried but came up with little info.
<Often the case with fish that have a poor survival record in captivity.
While books (and, if I might modestly add, expert fishkeepers like me) will usually have something to say about Mormyrids and other "difficult" fish, online sources put together by the vast majority of hobbyists concentrate
on fish species that are relatively easy to keep. Instead you need to pick up a copy of something like Baensch's Aquarium Atlas volume 3 you'll find Pollimyrus listed and briefly described.
http://books.google.com/books?id=IlPTzkgnkBUC&pg=RA1-PA1024#v=onepage&q=&f=false
>
What kind of timeline does he have?
<Really does depend. A single specimen may well thrive if tankmates are smaller than it is, and it can feel settled and secure. But with tankmates of similar or larger size it will feel more nervous, and the more nervous it is, the more stressed it can become.>
I don't know if there are four more in the city. I've been looking.
<I see.>
He is eating well right now.
<Good. With Mormyrids generally, while eating well, they're basically healthy and easy to keep; but as soon as they have problems getting enough to eat, their condition worsens, and they become much weaker. Good water
quality, including a high oxygen concentration, is important.>
I have purchased a "naphthoquinone" based product. Will that work?
<Should be.>
Rob
PS: do you guys take donations? I'm starting to feel like a pest.
<Yep, you're welcome to buy us a beer. Do see the Donate button at bottom right.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/
Don't worry about feeling like a pest; this site works precisely because we get lots and lots of interesting questions. Besides, we aren't selling anything, we're all volunteers, and we really do want to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Bichir with bump (RMF, thoughts on treating Bichirs?)  11/18/09
-Dear crew,
Greetings from Athens, Greece.
<And good evening from England!>
I have two bichirs in my tank (about 10cm long and I have them for a year or so- did not know they were supposed to eat live food so have been eating mostly cichlid food, shrimp pellets and colour flakes so far).
<If your Bichirs eat these foods, that's fine. They don't need live foods.
In fact all I'd add would be some wet-frozen food (white fish, mussels, prawns, etc.) so that you don't have problems with constipation. No need for live fish or live foods of any kind.>
A week ago one of them developed a raised spot about 2/3 down from his head (towards the lower fin). It is raised whitish with 3 darker lines on it (I think it is the way the scales look because it is raised).
<Likely physical damage. Which species are these? Bichirs are not gregarious, and they will fight with each other. More importantly, cichlids can damage them. I have seen Polypterus senegalus mixed with African cichlids (Labidochromis caeruleus mostly) and the cichlids had bitten off all the fins from the Bichirs!>
It has been the same through the past 10 days or so. The fish looks happy and healthy with good appetite.
<Good. Would avoid treating for now, since Bichirs can be sensitive to medications. Only if the wound fails to heal would I use medication. My favoured medication for Finrot is something called eSHa 2000. However, I'd be very careful if using this, and I'd watch the Bichir for any signs of stress. I've used it with Pufferfish, which are just as sensitive, and they're fine. But you must be alert to any possible problems. Possibly, you might treat immediately with a mild antiseptic like Melafix.>
Initially I thought it was an injury (? bite) from another fish (mostly cichlids in the tank),
<Certainly a possibility.>
but now the other bichir has a smaller one in the same spot.
<Could they both be attacked by the cichlids? Or each other? The cichlids tend to bite at the fins. Bichirs tend to snap at each other, so you see damage to their jaws as well as their pectoral fins and tail.>
Have photos but not very clear ones (with mobile, but will take new ones with camera later today and send you- will also send latest water parameters)
<Photos and water chemistry parameters would be helpful.>
Fish shop says it is an abscess but I don't think so (and am a bit reluctant to ruin my flora- have a quarantine tank- but don't like it: no fish saved in there)
<Yes, abscess-type things can happen on fish. This is basically Finrot, so any medication for Finrot should work for an abscess (same bacteria).>
I would appreciate any input,
Athina
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
<<Mmm, have met up w/ collectors of Polypterids of several species in traveling... and have had a fair share of trying to deal with "breakdown" syndromes with their import over many years. Oxolinic acid (see ChuckR's input on WWM re) and Wiki's input: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxolinic_acid  re) and Nitrofuranace and other Furan cpd.s have proven efficacious over time/trials. RMF>>

Bichir Skin Bump/tear 10/17/09
Hello there,
<Hello,>
I've had a Senegal for about a year now with no problems, but about a week ago he developed a "bump" on his back near the back of his head.
<Most likely an ulcer, but possibly something else. Ulcers are typically sites of infection, caused by physical damage and/or exposure to serious water quality problems. So as usual, check to make sure that the water quality is good (zero ammonia, zero nitrite) and that there aren't any objects or predatory fish that could be causing physical damage.>
I thought it would go away, but it's gotten worse! It now looks like its going to "Burst" through his skin!
<Indeed.>
He seems to be fine. He's eating and moving around just fine but I'm worried. I've looked everywhere but found nothing, please help! Thanks!! I feed him small feeders, shrimp, and sometimes pellets.
<Now, your use of "feeder fish" is one thing that rings alarm bells. If you want your fish to get sick, give it feeder fish. I cannot stress this point too strongly! There is no better way to introduce bizarre diseases and parasites into your aquarium than by adding feeder fish to a tank. Since Senegal Bichirs feed primarily on insects and worms, there's no need to give them live fish. Earthworms, frozen shrimp, chopped clams, lancefish, bloodworms, mealworms, etc. are all taken. The problem with feeder fish is that they're raised cheaply in ponds, and to make them cheap, they receive no real medical care at all. Plus, minnows and goldfish have high levels of thiaminase, and over time, this causes a Vitamin B1 deficiency that can lead to all kinds of problems including, no doubt, breakdown of skin and muscle. This is amply discussed in the scientific literature, and anyone who told you Bichirs need goldfish or minnows was talking rubbish. Your Bichir will certainly need antibiotics to prevent bacterial infection of the muscle and bloodstream (septicaemia). A trip to the vet would also be very, very useful. I have seen large fish recover from ulcers like this, but it does take very clean water and the use of antibiotics at least until the skin has healed.>
All Ph, N, A, and such are normal. I Also I attached some pics so u can see what I mean.
<Indeed, a sad looking Bichir! Lovely animals, but please, don't use feeders. Whether the feeder fish are the definite cause of this problem is impossible to say -- that's part of the problem with feeder fish -- but they could well be. If you are 100% sure water quality and physical damage aren't the issue, then some weird bacterial or parasitic infection is left, and feeder fish are VERY GOOD way of getting such things started. So, repeat after me, "Feeders are bad"! In the meantime, use an antibiotic, offer clean water conditions, and hope for the best. These are hardy fish, and the chances of recovery are good. Oh, and don't use copper or formalin based antibacterials without consulting a vet first; primitive fish such as these can react very badly to such medications (i.e., they die). Cheers, Neale.>

Bichir... hlth.    4/19/09
Greetings WWM crew/Neale, I'm in need of your advice once again. I can't send a picture but I'll try to describe it as best as possible. I just saw my small 4 inch Ornate Bichir have something like its gill sticking out of the gill socket on its right side. It looks slightly reddish and has a branch like structure, leading me to think it is a gill but my sister thinks it is a parasite. While it seems perfectly alright, I am very worried as to what it is. Could you help me out here by stating a list of possibilities? Thanks a lot. Gene.
<Hello Gene. When very young, Bichirs have external gills; these are red, feathery, and hang out sort of behind the normal gill covers and above the pectoral ("arm") fins. They usually disappear by the time the Bichir is big enough to sell, but yours is so small relative to its final adult size, I suspect that this is what you're looking at. There are no real health issues, but being sensitive and easily damaged, you want to make sure such fish are kept away from boisterous and especially nippy fish, such as Tiger Barbs. Cheers, Neale.>

Ornate Bichir - Torn gill or bacteria?   4/19/09
Hi, I have an ornate bichir that's been with me for a month or two now...recently I saw that the left end part of its gill was red, and had a bacterial-looking pattern on it.
<Are you sure this isn't the fish's external gill? Juvenile Bichirs have external gills similar to those you see on amphibians such as Axolotls.
These gills are red, feathery, and poke out behind the gill and above the pectoral fin.>
I'm not sure whether it is torn, or it is diseased. It is in a tank with another ornate bichir of nearly the same size (barely 5 inches) but as far as I know, they get along very well together.
<Ornate Bichirs are not tolerant animals, and tend to be very snappy towards one another. Do watch these two fish. Given their large adult size (60 cm/24 inches) individuals will require a large tank, and more than one specimen a very large tank.>
The tank's water was not very good for a few days, by that I mean that there was some residue from food and algae, but the ph and temperature were fine.
<Bichirs are hardy, but like all fish they will suffer if water quality is poor, and the external gills on juveniles will be likely sites of Finrot infections and similar.>
So what exactly is wrong with it?
<Either Finrot, or merely the external gills.>
I put some mineral salt in already, and I have some medicine for sores and lesions but I didn't dare put it in just in case it makes the condition worse.
<Salt obviously won't help, since salt has no particular usefulness on bacterial infections (if it did, why would we bother with antibiotics!).
You will need to use some type of antimicrobial, I'd suggest eSHa 2000 or Maracyn.>
Please help as soon as possible.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ornate Bichir - Torn gill or bacteria?  4/19/09
External gill? I've never heard of that before.
<Learn a new thing every day.>
I'll check and confirm it first. Thanks for the help!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bichir, hlth.
WWM/Neale,
Appreciated that you gave me a list of sicknesses related to it, but the fish died. Thank you anyway for trying and sorry for not providing a photo or responding earlier.
<Too bad. Sorry to hear this.>
Since the tank is rather empty, aside from my Ornate Bichir and Oscar, my sister asked if keeping another Ornate Bichir is advisable. Go for it or don't?
Thanks. Gene
<Depends on the size of the tank. Polypterus ornatipinnis is a reasonably big species (to 60 cm in the wild, and easily 50 cm in captivity) as well as territorial. So unless your tank is upwards of 300-400 litres, I wouldn't even think about mixing two specimens. Even in a big tank, you'll need to take care that there are ample hiding places for each specimen. Cheers, Neale.>

Please tell me how to help my Polypterus ornatipinnis 5/23/08 Sick Polypterus I hope you can point me in the right direction to save my Polypterus ornatipinnis. We have had this guy for about 5 years now. He is about 18 inches long and he lives in a 90 gallon tank. His tank mates are 2 very large Oscars, a African water frog, a gar pike and a very large algae eater (Pleco I think) Anyway...yesterday I noticed the algae eater sucking on the Polypterus. Today, he is covered in whitish spots (seems like he is losing his color) and it appears as though he is bleeding under his scales. He has been out of his normal "spot" in the tank a lot today. I am at a loss for what to do or what is wrong with him. Everything seems to be ok. He gets fed mostly Rosies and occasionally frozen brine shrimp. But this has been his main diet for all his life. Can you help us? He seems to be getting worse very quickly. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. Karyn <Ropefish and Bichirs sometimes come down with this weird bacterial infection. This usually occurs while acclimating wild fish but I guess it could happen to a long term captive if the conditions were less than ideal. The best medication is Oxolinic acid. Very expensive and difficult to come by but wholesalers find it very effective when getting wild shipments in. I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters in the meantime. If you cannot find this medication then try Nitrofuranace with Metronidazole together.-Chuck>
Ornate Bichir may be dying...   9/10/07 My boyfriend and I were just cleaning the tank and we moved some decorations and found our ornate Bichir laying on his back <Bad> at the bottom of the tank. He is still breathing and every once in awhile he starts to "spaz" out and do barrel rolls and jerk around. Could he have gotten hit by something slipping in the tank like a rock and gotten stunned? <Possibly> Could this be a sickness?? <Mmm, yes> He did not eat for the last two days. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated! -- Thank you, Stephanie Beetsch <What re the water quality here? Is there much in the way of ammonia, nitrate? What did it feed on? How long have you had it? What else... decor and livestock is in this system? Bob Fenner>

Re: ornate Bichir may be dying..   9/11/07  He ended up dying last night but just so I can get an idea what it could've been....the water was 7.8 to 8.0 ph, no ammonia or nitrate when I tested it last night. The temp. is about 80. I have him in a tank with African cichlids and some silver tip sharks. There was no marks or bites on him as far I could tell. He was eating thawed out silverfish. This is what the fish store told us to feed. He had no interest in worms or beef heart, was really the only thing he would eat. I wanted to get another one because he was so fun to watch. What would you recommend. Thank you for all your help, really appreciated! <Hello Stephanie. Bichirs are basically very, very hardy animals, so to lose one tends to imply something has gone wrong. Since all your other fish are fine, you can probably rule out water quality. I'd expect (and have observed) cichlids to become distressed from such things well before Bichirs. Diet may be a factor. Feeding a fish just one thing is never a good idea. Bichirs are not really fish eaters by specialisation, since they move too slowly to catch them. Fish are a bonus most of the time. Rather, they feed on a variety of invertebrates, particularly insect larvae, large aquatic insects such as beetles, worms of all types, crustaceans, and so on. River shrimp, earthworms, and mealworms all seem to be especially good (and completely safe) live foods for Bichirs. On the frozen food front, shelled prawns, mussels, bloodworms, and krill should be accepted without complaint. There's no need for a Bichir to eat every night, and if it didn't eat a meal one night, remove the food and try it again the next night: often hunger improves a fish's willingness to try something new! Once trained and settled in, Bichirs will also take good quality pellets, like Hikari Gold, and these sorts of foods are excellent "vitamin boosters" to really optimise your fish's health. Rotating the menu from one item to the next is important because it allows a fish to get all the different nutrients it needs. This isn't to say whitebait were a bad food item, but if the only thing the Bichir ate month after month, you can't expect the fish to stay in good health. Now, in terms of trying again, the two Bichirs that recommend themselves as being excellent aquarium fish are Polypterus senegalus and the fish sold in the trade as 'Polypterus palmas' (but almost certainly one of any number of look-alike species). Both of these are small (~30 cm), placid fish that feed primarily on invertebrates. Juveniles thrive on bloodworms and similar foods, while adults happily take various small items of seafood. Neither is expensive or difficult to find. P. senegalus is perhaps the easiest to keep, and the one species that breeds fairly regularly in aquaria. 'P. palmas' is perhaps marginally more testy but is a bit prettier to look at. Both would work well in your tank, assuming the cichlids were not aggressive. Bichirs are easily bullied. I wouldn't mix them, for example, with Hemichromis, Pseudotropheus, or Melanochromis type things but they get along fine with Pelvicachromis, Nanochromis, Pseudocrenilabrus, etc. I hope this helps, Neale>

Polypterus palmas problem! -- 08/31/07 Hey crew, I had bought a Polypterus palmas from a pet shop around 3 months ago. I had started off feeding it sinking pellets, but it wouldn't eat those anymore so I decided to buy some earthworms and blood worms. These worked perfectly until now. My palmas usually finds his food and bumps into it, but now he sometimes passes over it or hovers near it and chomps around that area but still completely missing it. I looked closer and I noticed his two nostrils/antennae have shrunk a huge amount. What used to be nostrils are just small bumps where the nostrils should be. He hasn't been able to successfully get his food for days, and I'm worried he might starve to death because he isn't able to smell his food anymore. The water isn't cloudy at all and is pretty clear. The only decor he has is a small ceramic temple where he lounges under. I think it might of been ammonia burning off his nostrils, I just changed the ammonia remover from my filter (Aquaclear) recently, the instructions on the filter told me to change the ammonia remover every 3 months (When I bought the box with the ammonia remover it said to replace it every month). Hope by replacing the ammonia filter with a new one he'll be able to grow bank his nostrils. He's around 4.5 inches and lives in a 4 gallon tank. Hope you can help me, Worried palmas owner. <Greetings. Polypterus are lovely fish, and generally very hardy. However, I think your problem here is Finrot or something similar, caused by problems with water quality. There is simply now way you can keep these fish in a 4 gallon (15 litre) tank. None. Nada. Nix. They are all fairly large creatures (even the smallest species gets to around 30 cm). The species sold in the trade as "Polypterus palmas" can actually be one of a whole group of things, including Polypterus teugelsi (~40 cm), Polypterus mokelembembe (~34 cm), Polypterus retropinnis (~34 cm), or one of three subspecies of Polypterus palmas (from 30-35 cm). At the very least you need a tank not less than 100 litres (about 26 US gallons) in size simply to provide even basic water quality and space requirements, let alone "good" conditions. Anyway, ammonia does indeed cause problems similar to burning; specifically, its necrosis of the delicate tissues causes by poisoning. Left untreated, such wounds commonly become sites of Finrot and fungal infections. Now, let's expand this a little. Ammonia remover has no place in an aquarium containing large predatory fish -- unless you're using large amounts of the stuff and replacing it weekly, it simply cannot deal with waste produced. You need a proper biological filter for the Polypterus aquarium providing at least 4x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. A large external canister filter would be the best choice, but a decent undergravel filter would also work. Polypterus are hardy and somewhat tolerant of immature aquaria, which is why your fish is wounded rather than dead. But still, you're imposing on this hardiness, and there's only one possible eventual outcome: death of the fish. So, here's what you need to do to save this fish: buy a tank at least 6 times bigger than what you have. Then, install a proper filtration system. While the filter matures, perform large water changes: 50% ideally daily, but not less than every two days. This will likely take about 6 weeks to mature the aquarium to the point where you cannot detect ammonia or nitrite in the water. Once you're done, your Polypterus should heal quickly, and will live happily for another 10+ years (they're quite long lived animals normally). You may decide to treat for Finrot/fungus as well, but if you do, choose a brand of medication safe with sensitive fish, because Polypterus are quite distantly related to the mainstream bony fish groups, and their reaction to medications can be unpredictable. Ideally, choose something deemed safe for use with stingrays and invertebrates. That said, if moved to good conditions, I would expect this fish to heal quite readily by itself. If you can't do ALL of these things, then re-home the Polypterus: you clearly don't have an aquarium that can house this wonderful fish, and keeping it would be cruel, end of story. I hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Polypterus palmas problem! -- 09/01/07 Thank you and thank god you answered, you saved it's life :) <Cool. And perhaps you should thank Dagon the fish-god as well. Cheers, Neale>

Ill or injured Bichir, no useful info.   5/20/07 Dear WWM Crew,    <Everett>       Thank you for the information and advice your site provides. I have a question about my Senegal Bichir. She is about 3 months old and 6 inches. Recently I noticed redness along her anal fin and tail. <Mmm, sign of environmental issue/s...> The tank has no aggressive fish. Is it possible she simply doesn't have enough room to turn in her favorite cave? <Possibly, but much more likely there is/are something/s amiss with your water quality...> The cave is a 6"x 6" plastic container that is upside down and covered in rocks. I appreciate your assistance. <... What re the system make-up, maintenance, water quality tests, foods/feeding... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Polypterus senegalus, beh., hlth.    5/20/07 Hi <Hello.> My Polypterus senegalus has recently stared to eat the stones in the tank, I was just wondering if this is natural or could there be a problem with my fish? <It is extremely *unnatural*. Bichirs are predators that hunt by smell. So they don't normally eat stones. Are you feeding it enough? If so, what are you feeding it? The ideal diet for Bichirs are frozen bloodworms, small pieces of mussel and prawn, and small amounts of frozen fish such as whitebait. Some Bichirs will also eat pellets. Unless you are breeding your own livebearers, do not use live feeder fish and UNDER NO circumstances use goldfish/minnows bought from pet stores, as these are parasite bombs. If you want to use live food, things like mealworms and earthworms are ideal, being clean and easy to obtain.> Hope to hear from you soon, <Well, here I am.> Dave. <Cheers, Neale>

Rope Fish With Spots  4/9/07 Hello, My fiancé and I bought our first Rope Eel (or fish since that's what they come up as under Google) and she looked fine when we were in the store.  However, the next morning I notice two small white dots on her back, so I called a friend whose had a fish tank for over 30 years.  He assured me that Kaliah didn't have ick, although we went ahead and put Ick away in her tank.  This morning when my fiancé and I woke the two dots turned into three large ones, one on her underside and two along the length of her body.  We are extremely worried about her since we've grown attached so the question to you is if Kaliah is shedding at all, since the spots do look like dead skin. Is it normal for a rope eel to shed its skin and if not then what can we do to spot it and make her healthy?  We feed her tropical fish food and some shrimp, per the sales lady.  Thank You. Lotsa Love Aurora < Check the WWM website for articles on general info on bichirs. To be more specific, your bichir probably has a stubborn bacterial infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. The first drug of choice is Oxolinic Acid. Difficult to come by and very expensive, it is a miracle worker on rope fish and other bichirs. If you cannot find it then try a double dose of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. Let your local pet shop know so maybe they can treat the next batch before they sell them. Many stores don't know about this treatment and think that rope fish die because they are fragile, but they are actually very hardly and live for many years.-Chuck>

Polypterus delhezi... dead  3/6/07 I had a young Polypterus delhezi about 3 in. <This IS small> that just died 2 days ago. I was shocked because I've never seen a Bichir suffered like that to death. The body was half paralyzed and it's having a hard time swimming to the water surface to gulp for air until its whole body got paralyzed and died. What killed my fish and how can I prevent that kind of disease? Another thought i fed it with chopped feeder guppies. Do you think that cause my Bichir to die? thanks... <... Please send your writing through spell- et al. checking... to learn, correct your English. Small Polypterids often are imported with enteric bacterial problems... "chopped feeder guppies" did not help... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Armored Bichir, with missing nares   2/22/07 I have a young Polypterus delhezi about 3.5 in. I noticed that it has only one tubular nostril when i bought it and I'm scared that it will be a big problem for my delhezi cause i know that their nostrils are use for hunting and getting food. Is their a chance growing it back? <Mmm, yes... if not "bitten too far back"... and even living w/o... in good care. Bob Fenner>  

Ornate Bichirs nostrils Hi, I would like to know does the tubular nostrils of a Bichir grows back in time it happen to be bitten off by cichlids? thanks Rgds Louis <If not bitten too far back, yes. Bob Fenner>

Bichir gill growths Hi Bob, I'm the guy that owns the 17 inches ornate with a torn left pectoral fins. Thanks for your reply. In between, I forgot to tell you that a juvenile ornate specimen of mine have 'red color horns' that resembles the Chinese saint animal 'dragon'. The 'horns' grow from inside the gills and go upwards. And the 'horns' grows as the fish grows. I had never seen anything like this before. No doubt it is BEAUTIFUL, but I am worried that it might be some disease or similar. <Not likely. Especially if this fish is small/young... they have growths that come out of their gill areas then. Bob Fenner> Rgds, Uix

Torn Bichir fin Dear Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob, please> Please help me. I own a ornate Bichir which is now currently 17 inches. I love him dearly. Last night, the left hand side of the pectoral fin of my Bichir was torn! Left with only the muscle part, the rest of the fin is gone! I am not sure what happened....... Dr., will the fin grow back in time???  Please tell me..... <Sounds like either a tremendous injury (did the fish get stuck somehow?) or an aggressive encounter with a tankmate. If the injury isn't too deep the fin will regenerate. These fishes are tough. Bob Fenner> Uix

I Didn't Mean to Call You a Bichir!  Another lesson in how Not to Punctuate Sorry to bother you but I don't know who else to ask.. I have this Bichir who looks very swollen.. from bellow the head to the mid fin.. it has been swollen for weeks now, I have 3 more Bichirs in the tank that are doing  fine.. I have a 55 gal thank.. it seems to be ok except for the swelling.. it seems to have gone bigger too in the last couple of days.. I've had that Bichir for more than a year now, at least 1.5 years.. I attached a picture so you can see what I mean.. thanks for your help.  < You need to get some Metronidazole ASAP! This bloat situation can be cured if it is caught early. It usually happens in cichlids mainly Tropheus and some lake Malawian fish.  I think it is stress related. Big fish are messy eaters and generate a lot of waste. It is easy to let the wastes build up in the tank and get out of hand unless you do some water changes. If your fish is still alive you need to do a 30% water change now and treat the water for ich. A Formalin-malachite green medication will work. Add a hand full of rock salt too. Look for the Metronidazole at your local store. Check the ingredients for it. It may not be labeled as such. Treat the entire tank with 250 mg per 10 gallons. Use a little extra and use 6 tablets. Remove any carbon from your filters and if you have a Marineland filter with a BioWheel then remove it and place it in a plastic bag with some aquarium water in it. Leave it open and don't let it dry out. Do not treat on the second day and repeat day number one on the third day and every other day until the fish is cured. If the fish dies then watch the others closely in case they don't eat. If they don't it means that they are sick too and need treating. I got this cure a few months ago from another website. The website is called JDTropheus.com. They deal strictly with cichlids in the genus Tropheus and this cure does work. Good Luck.-Chuck>

A Thank You Hello WWM Crew, within the following page, concerning to your pages, a person called Chuck gave a very helpful answer to a question concerning a problem that now also occurred in my tank. I successfully saved my Bichirs using the tips published on your website. I want to say Thank You to Chuck for his help, so I want you to give me his email address. Sorry, If I did not notice any contact formulas of your page, but I got to your page by using a German internet search engine, so maybe I did not get the full frameset of your page. The URL of the page is: www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bichirfaqs.htm Thanks a lot for your answer. < I am glad you were able to save your Bichirs. The real credit should go to a Tropheus breeder who turned me on to this treatment. You can find him on his website at JDTropheus.com.-Chuck> Greetings from Germany, yours Dr. D. Groll
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