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FAQs on Mochokid, Synodontis Cats and More 1

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Related Catfish FAQs:  Mochokid Cats 2, & FAQs on Mochokid Cats Identification, Mochokid Cats Behavior, Mochokid Cats Compatibility, Mochokid Cats Selection, Mochokid Cats Systems, Mochokid Cats Feeding, Mochokid Cats Disease, Mochokid Cats Reproduction, & Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

The Upside Down Catfish, Synodontis nigriventris, right-side up?

Synodontis big belly        10/4/19
Hello crew! Hope to pick your brain a bit... I have two Synodontis nigriventris cats that are fully grown and seem to have been healthy and happy for the past year. I’ve watched them double in size and they eat EVERYTHING; the larger one is so brazen that he “crawls” around the sides and tank in broad daylight when I make my way over! I have a pearl gourami and five cherry barbs, and I vary the diet in my tank daily... any combo of flakes, shrimp pellets, NLS Float pellets, Hikari algae sinking wafers, Hikari micro pellets, freeze-dried blood worms once a week as a treat, and a feeding day off every week. The attached picture shows my smaller Synodontis and a very swollen ”belly”, in my opinion. I know they overeat and their bellies bulge, but is this too drastic? If so, should I take action? I try to be very careful not to overfeed. Thank you in advance for your always helpful expertise! —Matt from NJ
<<Hello Matt. You might simply have a female, and if yours are anything like mine, the female looks a bit like an speckled egg with fins attached! Periodically she thins out, so I'm guessing there's some sort of egg laying cycle going on, but this species is rarely bred in captivity, so hard to know the details. In any case, if the Syno is some years old, I'd perhaps observe for the time being, and certainly avoid overfeeding. My specimens get actual catfish food maybe 2-3 times a week, one Hikari algae wafer per 3 specimens. The rest of the time I'm letting them eat softened green foods (peas, courgette, etc.) as well as algae and whatever snails they find in the tank (both major food component in the wild). They're chunky and something like 15 years old now, so presumably doing okay. I'm glad you're enjoying these cats, which like all Syno species, are naturally very nocturnal, but will become day-active once settled and happy. Floating plants are a great way to get them visible when the lights are on! Cheers, Neale.>>

Re: Synodontis big belly      10/5/19
Hi Neale... Great advice, thank you! I feel much better. And yes, I took your advice a while back about purchasing these guys in the first place, and the bigger one (not pictured) flies “crawls” the tank all day, as you said, because of the surface cover. Thanks again. —Matt
<<Glad to have helped, and good luck. Certainly my female is positively rotund, and it doesn't seem to have done any harm given her considerable age. Cheers, Neale.>>

Synodontis petricola with fin damage    6/20/17
Hi Bob,
My 10g has been seemingly fine following the passing of my molly fish who'd had a sort of fin rot. Thanks for all your help trying to assist her.
I'd returned to weekly 30/50% water changes and checking the parameters weekly as opposed to both daily. All seemed fine for a few weeks.
Then, I added several Marimo moss balls this past Friday night - six 2" ones. I cleaned the tank Saturday, perhaps a bit extra diligently and too much on the filter cartridge in hindsight, but everyone looked fine afterward. Sunday I noticed a Synodontis petricola had what looked like a small round hole in his right pectoral fin, I guess it would be, with erosion or a thin tear (not sure which) coming from the hole along the underside of his fin in a short line. His dorsal fin also has a small dip of what looks like erosion just to the rear of it's peak. His opposite pectoral fin may have some whitish material on the top of it (he's in his cave a lot so hard to observe but I will try to get photos tonight)...
There are two others; all three are males, and I notice one of them very aggressively charges at him, appears to strike him, so much so I wondered about the source of the damage... They are the only two that behave this way and there are no other fish that could do this in the tank.
<These Mochokid cats are all in a ten gallon?
I checked the water, and ph 7.4/7.8, 0 nitrites, 20-40 nitrates, and found .25/.50 ammonia.
<Ammonia is debilitating, toxic in any concentration>

Shocked, I removed the moss balls to a plastic container w/airstone. I removed a few other plants that could be adding decaying organic matter to the tank. The Saturday before the ammonia was 0. I find the erosion hard to
imagine missing, as I observe these guys daily, though sometimes the kitties are hard to 100% inspect each day. So the question I have is: could ammonia cause this and do it that quickly (the fin issues)?
<Yes it could, and/or they may be damaging one another>
No gasping, otherwise normal behavior from him/them, though the one with the trouble spends a lot of time in his house. The other two generally* have no marks or unusual signs, except the already white edges of their fins are a bit extra white on the very outer edges. Only the increased aggression is a behavioral difference, and again, made me wonder if the damage could possibly be caused by the other kitty charging him. However, after having a fin rot issue previously, I lean on that as the cause.
<Both could well be contributors>

*I say "generally", as, in the last few months, I noticed a tiny pin-tip size hole in one of the other cat's pectoral fin; super small, and you can see light go through it the size of the tip of a pin. No other visual cues he has trouble and he is the one aggressively charging the wounded cat. I would have thought if that tiny hole was a problem, it would grow and that cat would have had issues, and instead, it was another one who developed the larger hole with the erosion/tear along the underside of the fin.
I did a 60% water change of room temp dechlorinated water, and added one level tablespoon of aquarium salt. Ammonia was gone by last night. This morning, back again. I repeated the water change. Did not add more salt.
<Good moves and restraint>
Wanted to see what treatment you advised, whether to isolate the cat to a hospital tank (I have a 3 gallon available),
<Too small be stable>
or whether to move all three cats into the hospital tank (when they were new, two years ago, they had Ick; I treated all three in that 3 g. w/Kordon rid Ick+ and beat it; they've been healthy since, so I am uneasy separating him from them for the moral support they may give each other).
<I wouldn't move them to a smaller system, but maybe add more decor; and plan on a bigger world ASAPractical>
Obviously, any and all help greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
<Cheers my friend. Oh! Was out in Kailua for a fast trip a couple weeks back, stayed up at the Marriott/Waikoloa... and among other important elements, looked in on friends re putting up the Kona Aquarium and Education Center (again; this time) at NELHA. Hopefully (what's that euphemism?), I won't croak before making more progress. Bob Fenner>
Re: Synodontis with fin damage    6/20/17

Thanks Bob. I remember your trip to the Kohala area. Glad you made it home safely.
So could the rapid introduction of the moss balls combined with too much cleaning and removal of beneficial bacteria have led to the ammonia spike?
Is the tiny pin-size hole in the otherwise healthy catfish's fin a normal thing?
<Mmm; normal? Is it such for you and I to have such perforations?>
These three kitties are still very small; 2 1/2" or so a piece. Yes, eventually they would be re-homed, but the tank looks empty otherwise, they are so small and stay in their houses.
<Better in a three foot long system>
So you think in 24-48 hours the ammonia could have cause a hole in one of their pectoral fins and tear/erosion on the underside of it?
If there is more erosion occurring, what medicine is safe for them, if it comes to that? I will for now not move them and do 50/60% water changes with room temp water daily - is that what you suggest? Anything else?
<I'd just fix the environment (to be like Lake Tanganyika) and leave it at that. No med.s>
Are there threats to putting a bunch of moss balls in a tank at once?
<Not if they're in good health>
How soon will the beneficial bacteria return?
<Should be hours to days>
Let me know when you'll be in Honolulu.
<Oh! Have no plans for now; but one never knows>
Thanks big time for all your help.
<Aloha. BobF>

Re: Plecos/ and new tank.  Actually....  11/2/13
hi Neale, hope your having a good holiday season, don't know what the British celebrate but hope it goes well for you.
<Well, no, we don't normally celebrate how a bunch of religious zealots abandoned their king and country and then got themselves into such trouble in the New World they only survived because the Native Americans showed them how to grow suitable crops to survive!>
I was looking at a sodontis catfish
<Do you mean Synodontis catfish?
A whole genus of species, of which the Dwarf Upside-Down Catfish is unquestionably the best for community tanks.>
that stays small and has a neat name, pajama Syno, do you think they would do well in my aquarium after new year.
<Synodontis flavitaeniata (also Synodontis flavitaeniatus); gets quite big, upwards of 10-12 cm, but otherwise a good community species if kept with medium-sized barbs, tetras, etc. Mildly territorial but not aggressive.
Nice colours when young, especially. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: rainbow /red finned / ruby shark + EEK I need a bigger tank!  11/11/10
Hi Neale
So much for not being able to make a mistake..... But I can blame the aquarist I had no faith in in the first place: Having taken in the information you kindly provided me with about a month ago, I thought I knew what a dwarf upside down catfish looked like, and went back to the aquarist I bought the ruby shark from. He had a tank labeled with Upside-down Catfish, and there was one in it, resting upside down on a plastic plant. Very pretty, quite dark, with stripes/ spots that I took to be the white markings you had referred to.
I even asked if it was a Dwarf Upside Down catfish, and was given the reply I wanted to hear. He was about 3 cm long at that time, and now in hindsight I realise that probably with a fish so small it could have been any number of catfish.
<Does indeed happen that small S. nigrita get sold as young S. nigriventris, but this is MUCH less common these days than it was in the past.>
Anyway, I was happy, as I had a lovely fish. And it gets along Ok with the ruby shark, they seemed to draw each other out of hiding and often they would be seen both out at once.
<Cool. Synodontis nigriventris is a gregarious species. I'd recommend keeping at least three. I have one female and two males, and they're very fun to watch. The female looks like big egg with fins, she's so round! The males are paler and have brighter markings.>
Having done more research I thought I should have more than one upside down catfish. I went back to the first aquarium shop, which is the sort of place where you don't get receipts and they only take cash. It is primarily a garden centre, and dare I say it, looks like it is part of a gypsy site. Their tank labeled Upside Down Catfish had been restocked, and had bigger, browner, spotty catfish in it.
<Their colours do change with age, overall becoming darker. Unfortunately, there are dozens of Synodontis species that are "brown with spots" so that doesn't help much!>
I asked if they were Dwarf, and was told "I don't know love, the wholesaler sends us a mix of catfish, all upside-down." I wisely walked away. About a week ago I went to a real aquarist, one where the staff know the scientific names (!!), and asked by name for the Synodontis nigriventris. I was impressed by this aquarists knowledge as he took me straight to them.
<Good work!>
I told him the fish I had already, and he said also that they do best in groups. So I bought 3, about 3 cm long.
I also bought a very lovely Centromochlus perugiae.
<What I still call Tatia perugiae.>
(What a lovely little fish).
<Yes, one of the nicest South American catfish. Very shy! Quite social, I believe, so if you have the funds, get a few. Males and females are different, especially in the shape of the anal fin. They perform internal fertilisation, like guppies, but lay eggs about a day later. Very odd little fish.>
I had an informative chat to the young man who served me as he was so helpful and knowledgeable, and I told him that I wanted eventually to have other catfish in my tank. He recommended the glass catfishes, as they are mid tank swimmers.
<Is indeed the case. Watch them chasing Daphnia is fun!>
(I do like this idea but wanted to do the setup slowly and carefully and will leave buying any more fish until I have more room.) So, a few days ago I put the 3 new upside down catfish and the oil catfish in with the first 2 fish. They get along fine by the way. Today I stripped most of the decor out whilst I did some cleaning and a partial water change. I noticed that the first Upside-down catfish I bought, now bigger, looks very different to the 3 new catfish arrivals. Much more like the 'browner, spotted ones' mentioned earlier at the first aquarium shop.
<Do be aware boys and girls look different. Females are more uniformly brown and have much rounder body shapes when mature. Males tend to have more of the pale squiggles on their flanks and fins.>
Having looked this fish up in my book - Catfishes by Les Finley - and having looked up pictures on the internet of juveniles and adults, I fear I have a Featherfin Squeaker, Synodontis euptera.
<A fantastic fish!>
Eventually all these fish will be in a bigger tank, about 29 gallons max, but will this be big enough?
<Not ideal, but rehoming it, should you need to, won't be difficult. These are VERY peaceful fish albeit territorial towards their own kind. Great community fish for peaceful cichlids, non-nippy barbs, loaches, etc.>
And will the Squeaker be OK with the others?
<S. nigriventris is gregarious while S. euptera is territorial, so there may be tussles over hiding places. Plan around that, so everyone has space. S. nigriventris adore floating plants or floating leaves, while S. euptera is more a cave-dweller.>
(I like the name squeaker, though I have yet to hear it squeak.)
<They squeak when removed from the water. Not all species do this though, and since you have to scare them, I wouldn't recommend trying. As it happens, South American talking catfish such as Humbug Catfish are much more "talkative".>
Some pages I have read online state that it is aggressive and territorial.
<Almost all the larger Synodontis are territorial, but they rarely molest fish that keep out of their way. So provided everyone has their on turf, Synodontis can work extremely well in communities. I'd not keep more than one specimen of the larger species in small aquaria though.>
How will this go down with the Ruby Shark when they are all adult?
<I'd expect them to occasionally chase each other, but the Shark will be much too fast for the Synodontis to harm.>
Will I be able to keep glass catfish as well with this set up?
<Should be okay, though the S. euptera are towards the big end of the fish I'd choose to keep with Glass Cats. On the whole Glass Cats are happiest with small, docile tankmates like tetras.>
Any help with positively identifying it?
<Need photo!>
All I am going on is that they change from juvenile - stripey, to adult - spotty. Your thoughts/help/recommendations all appreciated.
Ruby Shark and friends
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Upside Down Catfish I.D.-ing, Questions & Tip Requests  12/22/08 Hi I just purchased a fish earlier today that they had labeled as an upside down catfish. He/She (well we call it 'he') swims upside down (a lot but he'll also swim right side up) like his name says, but he's all black (with possibly a grey dot in between his eyes, he moves a lot so it's hard to tell but I'm almost positive it's there). Is he still an actual upside down catfish or is he a different breed? The lady at the store referred to him as an upside down catfish and he looks like a catfish but I haven't found any pictures of a black upside down catfish so I was wondering if he was a different kind of fish? <There are well over 100 species of Synodontis, and most of them look very similar. It is true that the majority don't swim upside-down, at least not when mature. But several do, and some of these are notorious look-alike species. In England for example, baby specimens of the large (20 cm) and rather territorial species Synodontis nigrita are quite commonly included in batches of Synodontis nigriventris, the true dwarf upside-down catfish. I'm one of the people who's fallen into that trap, and ended up with a "dwarf" catfish that just grew like Topsy! Your best bet is to go through the excellent gallery of Synodontis species at Planet Catfish: http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/genus.php?genus_id=29 Just in the off-chance its one of the related and similar genera, take a look at Brachysynodontis or Hemisynodontis: http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/genus.php?genus_id=219 http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/genus.php?genus_id=95 Synodontis nigriventris itself is relatively unusual in being gregarious and needs to be kept in groups of three or more. The other Synodontis species range from essentially gentle giants like Synodontis eupterus through to quite waspish species like Synodontis nigrita, so it's important to try and put a name of your fish. Not many species are uniformly coloured grey or brown, so you might look at Synodontis schall and Hemisynodontis membranaceus (a species with oddly webbed whiskers). Juvenile Synodontis nigriventris do have white spots, but usually all over their bodies, and the basic colour is mottled brown. Synodontis angelicus is black with lots of white spots; it's an expensive fish, and lovely, but unlikely (unless you have the luck of the devil!) to turn up in a batch of Synodontis nigriventris.> He's also acting weird in that he will lay on the bottom of the tank, not really in the corner but where the bottom meets the wall and then appear as if he has trouble swimming and seems to struggle a few moments before he completely rights himself (well upside down but you get my point) and then he'll be fine until he does it again. Is this normal for him being in the new tank? <Fish do sometimes behave oddly for a short while when moved to a new tank. But an issue with at least some Synodontis is that they're riverine fish used to fast-flowing water with lots of oxygen. All Synodontis need a reasonably big tank, certainly above 25-30 gallons even for the dwarf species, and 40 gallons or more for the regular size species. A decent filter, moderate temperature, and good water quality are all important.> And also I would appreciate care tips for him where I own two Betta fish (a crown tail and a regular one, each in their own 1 gallon tank) and have had little experience with other types of fish. I had had a 5 gallon tank last year but it was contaminated because it killed any fish I put in there (which resulted in about 10 or so dead fish) including 2 Betta fish (different times, one died and I replaced it) which the first Betta I had put in there had thrived in his old tank (one of the two 1 gallons my new Betta are currently in) and died a couple weeks or so after I changed him to the 5 gallon. <5 gallons is just fine for a Betta, and in all honesty 1 gallon is too small for anything but cut flowers. I have no idea why [a] people sell them and [b] why anyone buys them. They're useless.> So right now I have him in a little 1 gallon tank with only the water he came in (there was no room for more water the way this tank is designed) and I read on the site that he needs a little hide out (which I actually have a fish decoration kinda cave thing sitting on my desk which I can give him once I rinse it off) but what else does he require? <He's go one fin in the grave and another on a banana skin! Seriously, 1 gallon isn't even a bucket. Assuming he's some sort of unidentified Synodontis of average size, then your starting point is a 30 gallon tank. Nothing smaller; anything smaller would be a waste of your time/money because there's a good chance this catfish will outgrow it. Install a reasonably brisk filter that offers turnover of not less than 4 times the volume of the tank, and ideally (by which I mean, maximising the chance of success and reducing the chance of disease) turnover 6 times the volume of the tank is a good base line. So for a 30 gallon tank, the filter needs to be rated at 6 x 30 = 180 gallons per hour. This may sound a lot, but trust me, it isn't, and the few dollars extra it'll cost will be AMPLY repaid by the savings in dead fish, medication, and the option to add more fish without the tank being overloaded.> I believe I still have a fake plant or two that I could put in his tank and I'm sure my Betta wouldn't mind if I gave him the floating fake flower from each tank. Should I put some little marble rock things in his tank (they're like colored glass rocks) like I did for my Bettas or should I leave the bottom bare? <He doesn't want marble rock things. What he wants is a proper, regular-coloured (black, brown) cave, some soft sand or fine gravel, and lots of water current. He NEEDS space in the tank, and 1 gallon doesn't even begin to cover this.> Also, my Bettas eat TetraColor Granules extreme (they refuse to eat flakes for some reason), will he be ok to eat them? <They're fine, but supplement with other things. Hikari Algae Wafers and any catfish pellet of your choice would combine to make a good, balanced diet.> They do sink to the bottom of the tank after a short period of time. <Unless this fish gets a MUCH bigger tank or is returned to the pet store, it's unlikely to see the New Year. So with that in mind, I think we know what your Christmas gift from Santa needs to be! Cheers, Neale.>

Synodontis eupterus in the corner 05/19/08 Hi there, I recently set up my old 55 gallon again for the first time in a few years after a good scrubbing. My buddy had a 5 inch Synodontis he could no longer keep with his other fish and needed a home for. Anything too gross to salvage got replaced, and I'm picking up a full test kit on Friday since I can't find most of my old set. Anyhow, everything seems fine so far, and my Syno has a little Raphael buddy I picked up at the pet store whilst shopping for supplies. I haven't gotten around to getting him a full size cave yet or put any fake plants in there, but there's plenty of coral rock and a bunch of old stuff in there from when I had it up before. I know these are nocturnal fish, and I can tell he doesn't like when I turn the tank lights on, so I got a little LCD light set instead. For the most part he hides behind the rocks and such, but every once in a while I'll see him lean against the corner of the tank in backslash position, mouth in the corner... and will just sit there for a while... his breathing has seemed a little erratic at times, but for the most part he seems to do well as long as the lights are out. Just wondering if this is normal behavior or not really, or if I should hurry up with the testing to see if there's some kinda serious problem. Thanks a bunch. -Eric <Greetings. Synodontis generally are very hardy. Usually they're the last fish to get ill! So unless you can see things like skin or fin damage, or signs of parasites, I'd not be overly concerned about variations in breathing rate. By default, they press themselves against solid objects, and this is especially true if they feel cramped or exposed. Make sure they have lots of hiding places. Synodontis eupterus (and indeed Synos generally) become more outgoing the more secure they feel. Coral rock isn't quite the right thing because anything calcareous will harden the water and raise the pH, but plastic plants, flowerpots, slate, granite, bogwood, etc can all be used successfully. Synodontis eupterus are territorial, so the idea this species needs a "buddy" is erroneous. In fact the Synodontis eupterus will view other catfish as potential rivals for hiding places. On the other hand, Platydoras costatus is a gregarious species and does well kept in groups, even though specimens will jostle with one another over the best hiding places. Single specimens are notoriously shy. Cheers, Neale.>

55 Gal Freshwater Synodontis Tank 12/15/2007 Hello, I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank that currently has a 6 inch common Pleco, 4 inch Bala, 2 spotted pictus cats appx 3"< and a young 3" horse face loach. I recently took a liking to The Synodontis species of catfish. How many could I put into my 55 Gal and which of the Synodontis get along with each other? I'd like to get 1 each of a couple different kinds. Thank you for your advice. <Greetings. Synodontis spp. vary considerably in size and temperament. As a rule, most species are very nocturnal, somewhat territorial, but not overtly aggressive. There are a few species that are particular about water chemistry. Synodontis multipunctatus from Lake Tanganyika needs hard, alkaline water to do well. But most are adaptable and will thrive at pH 6-8, 5-20 degrees dH. This being the case, you could choose a single specimen of one of the medium-sized, non-aggressive species. Synodontis angelicus has long been a favourite, but Synodontis eupterus, Synodontis decorus, and Synodontis flavitaeniatus are also colourful and peaceful. Some Synodontis thrive in groups provided there are adequate hiding places. Synodontis flavitaeniatus, Synodontis eupterus, and Synodontis nigriventris are particularly good in groups. I have a trio of Synodontis nigriventris in a community tank, and it is great fun watching them chase each other at feeding time. They will generally ignore other non-aggressive Synodontis species, but this varies, especially if the two fish fight over a hiding space. Other Synodontis are best thought of as one-to-a-tank fish, being short-tempered towards their own kind and other species of Synodontis; Synodontis nigrita is a good example of a species that can be territorial if crowded. Of all the Synodontis on sale, Synodontis nigriventris is probably the best all-round fish; at a modest size of about 10 cm when mature it is small enough to make maintenance in a big group viable. Four or five specimens work nicely in your tank and provide plenty of amusement. It is a very hardy, easy to keep species widely sold species. One last thing: Bala Sharks are schooling fish; please get your specimen a couple of pals. Cheers, Neale.>

UD Cat w/no tail  - 05/26/07 Hi folks, just recently went away no vacation and unfortunately my tank had a bout of Ich which reduced my tank (10 gallons) population to 2 Synodontis nigriventris.  I was able to save these guys and they are now Ich free.  I just took a look at my tank this evening however and I am very confused to find one of my UD cats to be missing his tail fin completely.  I've seen fin rot before and this doesn't look like that, plus the fin was present yesterday.  Could this be the other UD cat fin nipping? <Yes> I've never heard of this species being very prone to nipping, <Oh... most all Mochokid catfishes are nippy... especially when crowded> none the less entirely removing the fin.  Do you recommend separating these two or should I look for another cause? <Likely whatever conditions that led to the Ich, the actual treatment itself... secondary effects, and the territorial interaction are all acting synergistically here> The poor guy can hardly swim, his tail (a bloody stump really) flaps as fast as it can go but he hardly moves.  The other cat shows no signs of similar symptoms.  Any advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated. -Jim <I would separate these two... Bob Fenner>

"Upside Down" catfish  -- 05/07/07 Hello: <Hello!> I have an upside down catfish in a 20 gallon tank with a few other fish.  He survived a bout of Ich about six - eight months ago so much of his fins are missing. <Why did he lose fins from Ich? Also bear in mind that these catfish are reputed to be sensitive to copper-based medications, so such treatments should be used with care, if at all.> He has been a fish that we never saw. <Normal. They are nocturnal, and do best when kept in groups; when kept singly they are *very* shy. My specimens scoot about during the daytime, though only when there's food in the tank.> Twice a month when I would clean the tank, I would have to flush him out of his castle to make sure he was okay, which he has been.   <Fish aren't wild about being pushed out their homes. Is there no way you can clean the tank without doing this? You really shouldn't need to strip an aquarium down at water change time. Simply siphoning out the crud should work fine.> About a month ago he started to appear during the day and eat and hang out some.  I noticed though that he would wedge himself up between the glass and the castle. <Normal.> Well yesterday he started the most bizarre thing.  His nose is in the gravel with his body in the air and his tail hanging sideways.   <His body in the air? Or do you mean the water? Either way, disorientation in fish is very often a sign of poor water quality, or at least sudden changes in the environment, even temperature.> He appears to have some labored breathing and also seems disoriented when he does swim or maybe like he can't catch his balance. His color seems good and I don't see anything on his little body that would indicate parasites, fungus, etc.  His gills don't look red.  I was thinking maybe he has a swim bladder infection and I've read that that means a pretty sure death. <Swim bladder infections *do not* mean death any more than fevers do in humans. They're a symptom. Most frequently of poor diet (constipation), in which case easily fixed by providing a high-fibre diet including vegetable foods like cooked, squished peas and shell-on invertebrates such as krill, daphnia, brine shrimp, etc.> I've been thinking that maybe I need to put this little guy out of his misery buy I wanted to see what you say first. <Non sequitur. If the fish is externally healthy and feeding properly, he isn't in misery and doesn't need to be destroyed. If he has any misery, its because you're keeping him by himself, but that's another story...> Everybody else is good.  The tank water has had its bi-monthly cleaning within the last couple of days. <I'm concerned about this a little. Please tell me you aren't cleaning the filter out twice a month. The ideal regimen is siphoning out 50% of the water per week, and then cleaning the filter every 2-6 months depending on the tank loading (some people don't even do the filter that often). When the filter is cleaned, this is nothing more than gently squeezing out the media in a bucket of aquarium water. NEVER, EVER clean filter media in tap/faucet water.> I have to admit that I don't do any testing but I am pretty faithful about my tank changes. <These two things aren't related. You can clean the tank out perfectly and still have dire water quality/chemistry. Please please please at least get a pH test kit and a nitrite test kit. You can obtain very inexpensive dip sticks that do the job nicely. Upside-down catfish are very hardy fish, but if the water is too acidic or too alkaline, or the water quality is too bad, they will not do well. Please also remember Ich often starts because of poor water quality (in fact most diseases do) so when fish get sick, water testing is the thing you do FIRST!!!> I have had no problems since my Ich outbreak until now.  Help. <Without more info difficult to give advice. Please do the water tests, then get back to us.> I kinda like this little guy and am hoping to find out what's wrong   <Synodontis spp. catfish are lovely animals and justifiably among the most popular catfish in the trade. The diversity is impressive, from species even smaller than yours (S. nigriventris) through to giants a couple of feet long. They live in a variety of habitats from mountain streams to Great Lakes to brackish water estuaries. Really well worth getting to know better, so be sure and read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mochokids.htm for more.> Thanks Rachel <Cheers, Neale>
Re: "Upside Down" catfish
 -- 05/07/07 Hi Neale: <Hello Rachael.> I appreciate your quick response.  I did not buy him alone.  I bought another one with him but the other died from the Ich. <Or, possibly, the medication itself.> I don't know why his fins were damaged, maybe there was something else going on in the tank during the Ich outbreak.  I came into the tank by accident and didn't know anything about it.  We initially overstocked not realizing/knowing what we were doing due to inexperience. <Happens. Not the end of the world, provided you learn, fix the mistakes, and move on constructively.> When we got Ich, the local petstore steered us to a copper based medication.  I didn't know any better and used it. <To the pet store's credit, 9 times out of 10 copper based medications are fine, even with catfish like Corydoras. At least they didn't try and sell you some MacGuffin like "tonic salt".> Needless to say, I lost some fish that I was a little heartbroken over.  I finally got onto your site where I was able to get some better information for treatment. <Very good.> I did the recommended temp rise and salt which got us over the Ich hump but the only one left who had it was this little guy.  My Pleco and knife fish only got very mild cases and cleared up quickly with the copper treatment.  I have not gotten him another tank mate or two because I worry about overstocking the tank. <How big's the tank? S. nigriventris doesn't need a lot of space. But the Plec and Knifefish certainly do, so I would have thought any tank big enough for those two species (40 gallons upwards) would have space for one or two more S. nigriventris.> I also do not have a quarantine tank and I worry about the introduction of other fish because that's how we got it the last time. <Many folks don't have quarantine tanks. Doing without is possible, but just more difficult. Having a "spare" tank is wonderfully liberating though. You can use it to quarantine fish, to treat them, to breed them, or to raise eggs/fry when you get them. In the long term, having a spare 10-20 gallon tank is one of the best investments in the hobby.> I guess I'm a little paranoid at this point because we had such a hard time with this disease and the loss of the fish AND I'm inexperienced so I don't know if I'm introducing another fish into an environment that is less than ideal. <Whitespot/Ich doesn't normally kill fish. It is easily treated. Now, the one mistake lots and lots of people make is treating the tank while leaving the carbon in the filter. The carbon removes the medication, and the Whitespot carries on getting worse and worse. Then it kills the fish. Poor water quality is one of two standard triggering factors behind Whitespot, the other is introducing new fish from the pet store. Surprising as this might seem, but in a tank with good water quality, fish basically don't get sick. Besides changing water, a stable, mature tank is essentially maintenance free. So the first few months of your fishkeeping career are really the most difficult. Read, learn, persevere.> I really don't want to do that so I was trying to raise the ones I have the best I can.  The local fish store people don't tell you what fish likes cold water and what fish likes warm water and who like salt and who doesn't, etc. <Pet stores do their best, but many fail in this regard. This is why aquarists need to buy/borrow good books. There are also some very, very good web sites out there (as well as millions of less good ones!). For catfish, Planet Catfish and ScotCat are hard to knock, being maintained by serious experts. For the most part, all freshwater catfish should be maintained in normal tropical conditions at a moderate pH and hardness (6.0-7.5, fairly soft to moderately hard). Only a few species offered for sale are brackish water or marine catfish, so salt is one thing that can be left out the tank, except perhaps as a temporary treatment.> They just want to make the sale and unfortunately I got caught up in all that and now I have this tank that I'm trying to maintain with fish that I'm not sure about as far as environmental compatibility. <S. nigriventris is a good community fish for the most part. Its environmental tolerances are broad. Its main shortcoming is slight fin-nipping behaviour, normally when kept with things with very long fins, like angels and Bettas.> I guess I should've been checking this before now but everyone seemed to be doing good.  Everyone eats, everyone is growing, they are for the most part out and active, so I just thought they were adapting.   <Some fish do, but "squeakers" (Synodontis spp.) generally don't. They remain resolutely nocturnal except at feeding time.> I read about the swim bladder infection on another site and the guy said that it meant sayonara. <Normally "Sayonara" but I like your spelling better. More colourful (pun intended). Anyway, swim bladder problems are a symptom. Think about something like shoulder pains. Can be over-exertion at tennis, can be a heart attack. Symptoms are indicators, but identifying the problem itself is what matters.> I was just going with that.  Another site recommended some antibiotic stuff but I don't want to do that unless I have to and I figured that they were just trying to sell some chemical stuff and make some money so... I decided to ask you and it is completely different just like it was for the Ich. <Antibiotics are not available to people in the UK without prescriptions, and so the fishkeepers who get antibiotics here also get veterinarian advice in terms of diagnosis and treatment to follow. As a result, I can't offer you any expert advice about using antibiotics in your aquarium since I have no personal experience. You shouldn't need to use antibiotics to treat Whitespot though. There are copper-free remedies out there, such as Reef Safe Kick-Ich, usually containing things like Malachite Green, Formaldehyde, and Acriflavine (both organic chemicals, not copper salts). I've also used "eSHa EXIT" (marketed as safe for "sensitive species") with Synodontis (and pufferfish) and not had problems.> I only strip the tank down about every 5 -6 cleanings, otherwise I just do a gravel vacuum and replace the water using Amquel plus and the other Amquel with Echinacea and vitamins and minerals. <All sounds fine, but really, stripping down the aquarium is overkill provided you can siphon out the crud. I find doing small, frequent cleans works better than less frequent major cleans.> I generally take out about 2.5 gallons per cleaning which is usually the amount of water that I need to do a general vacuum over all the gravel area.  I do not replace the filter every time.  I only replace it when needed which is actually about every 3 weeks which according to your post may be too much so we may still be a little overstocked. <Slightly concerned about "replacing" the filter. Almost nothing in a filter needs to be replaced this often. Carbon and ammonia remover (Zeolite) media can be thrown out in my opinion. Sponges may need to be replaced every 5 years or so, and ceramic media perhaps a bit less often, but otherwise both these things need only be rinsed in aquarium water periodically. Filter wool can be changed more regularly, but if used as the biological (rather than mechanical) media, change only a small amount, 30-50%, at a time.> I usually wait until the water is about to overflow over the top.  Maybe I'm waiting too long.  We have a 40 gallon BioWheel. Although I have purchased a 40 gallon flu-Val for this tank and I was going to put it on and let it work in conjunction with the BioWheel for 2-3 months and then remove the BioWheel.  The reason I was going to do this was because of the frequency of the filter changes.  I thought the Fluval may be a little more efficient with more filter area. <Not sure what the "40 gallon Fluval" is. Here's my take on canister filters: internal canister filters (the ones you put *in* the aquarium) are convenient and easy to clean, but poor value for money. The external filters (the ones *outside* the tank) are a hassle to look after but offer the best value for money.> I did not realize that I was stressing him by flushing him out. I really just wanted to make sure he was okay and not dead in there. <Resist the temptation!> The water temp is at 82 where I always have it (maybe it's too warm?). Nitrate level is @ 40ppm, nitrite is between the 0 and .5, water is very hard, Alkalinity is @ 120-180 and ph is @ 7.8. <OK, here's your problem. The nitrites are WAAAAYYY too high. They should be ZERO. What this suggests is that either [a] the filter is too small for the tank; [b] the filter is not fully matured yet; or [c] you are cleaning the filter too harshly, killing off the bacteria each time. It may be a combination of all three things. Really, truly, honestly, filters are best left alone. The selection of fish you have implies a largish aquarium, and my guess is that you will need *both* filters to keep good water quality (or else, one big filter, such as a Fluval 304 or 404 external filter). Plecs are huge when fully grown and make a lot of pollution. If money is tight, then an undergravel filter can be a wise investment. Although they have lots of shortcomings, they represent excellent value for money in terms of biological filtration. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwugfiltr.htm . Another issue is water temperature; unless you have good reason to do otherwise, 25C/77F is the best setting. Remember, the warmer the water, the less oxygen it carries. This causes problems not just for the fish but also the filter bacteria.> What should I be doing different.  I want to make sure that I have an ideal environment for him although at this point it may be too late.  I have been feeding the tank a mixture of small amounts of flake (I have 4 Scissortails and one bleeding heart tetra), 2-3 veggie wafers, an algae wafer and I rotate between brine shrimp and bloodworms. <This all sounds fine. But the Knifefish is likely to eat the small tetras eventually.> I haven't noticed the upside down catfish eating the veggie wafers but the knife fish loves them. <Fish are funny like this. They have much broader "tastes" that we give credit. I have a pufferfish that likes peas! Generally, the wider the diet, the healthier the fish. Just as with humans.> The 2 cories appear to eat about anything with the Pleco of course going for the veggie wafers or the algae.  I tried putting some zucchini in the tank about two months ago but no one would touch it. <Odd. Most plecs love the stuff. Try cucumber. Also, bear in mind they sometimes prefer the veggies softened a little. Zapping in the microwave for ten seconds can make all the difference.> I put one in one day and changed it to a fresh one the next and everybody acted like it was the plague so I took it out. <I tend to leave veggies in the tank until they fall apart. Because they contain little protein, the effect on water quality is minimal (no ammonia source).> What are your suggestions for me on feeding? <Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfoods,fdg,nutr.htm .> Especially with this latest development.  Can you make a prediction and tell me whether you think he's going to make it or not? <Impossible to say, but my money would be on him surviving to a ripe old age *if* the water quality is improved.> Should I just leave him alone for a couple of days or should I try to get him to eat some squished peas?  What if he won't eat? <He likely won't eat while the water is poor. Cut back putting food in the tank by 50%, do 50% water changes every day for a week, and DO NOTHING to the filter. Zip. Nada. Sit on your hands for the next month or two as far as the filter goes. This should all help improve water quality. My guess would be once the nitrites sink to zero, your Syno will be out and about at night time looking for grub. Put in half a cube of frozen (not freeze dried) bloodworms every other night, and the Syno will eat those. Don't bother feeding the catfish during the daytime for now.> I know you can't come here and save him for me, but I really appreciate being able to pick your brain for your wisdom. Thanks again Rachel <Good luck, Neale>
Re: Upside down catfish
  5/10/07 Hi Neale: Rachel here again. <Hello Rachel!> I have been doing what you recommended.  50% water changes, food reduction and a temp reduction to 78 degrees.  Nitrite and ammonia levels are @ 0. <Very good. Water changes are the cheapest but most effective way to improve fish health, PERIOD.> Thanks for directing me to the food article by the way.  I have purchased a few other things because of it and replaced my other food with fresh food. <Good stuff. Glad the article helped. Feeding fish on stuff from the kitchen is surprisingly easy and inexpensive and healthy.> My little catfish disappeared for a few days.  He reappeared this evening.  His color looks better.  His tail is still up but more at an angle instead of straight up.  He seems to be a little more balanced.  He also appears to be skimming the gravel a bit.  He still goes over to the corner though and sticks his nose into the gravel with the tail up and he still seems to be labored in his breathing. <But it sounds like he's on the mend. Give it time.> Here's where I need more of your wisdom.  He looks bruised.  He has a dark red spot just in front of his dorsal fin (the fin on the top, I hope I'm calling it by the right name). <He has two fins on the back -- one with a big spine, the dorsal fin, and one that has no spines further back, that's the adipose fin.> He has dark red round area right at the spot just behind his belly and then an additional red spot toward his tail.  These are only on his right side.  He also looks to have some faint, spotty red lines almost like slashes ///// on his left side but under the skin. <Curious. Difficult to diagnose with a photo. Catfish lack scales and are easily scratched, but providing conditions are otherwise good these scratches heal easily. In fact fish generally have very good healing abilities for minor damage, in some ways better than our own.> These are definitely not external wounds.  He looks to have some internal bleeding although I'm not a fishy doctor.  What do you think about this? <Internal bleeding if mild (i.e., a bruise) tends to go away by itself but if serious (i.e., a hemorrhage) is generally fatal and impossible to treat without surgery, itself not really viable on a small fish. Furthermore, wounds of various kinds can be caused by other problems. Leeches leave scars, diseases like Fish TB and Ulcer Disease can leave bloody lesions, and so on. Either way, a photo is required to say anything positive in terms of diagnosis. In the meantime, optimize water quality & diet, perhaps add a mild antiseptic like Melafix, and observe.> Rachel <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Upside down catfish
  5/10/07 Hi Neale: <Greetings!> It's me again.  This crazy person in the U. S. who seems to be totally obsessed with a dying fish.  Actually I have four kids 6 and under and I normally would not spend so much time in observation of my tank buddies.  I love them but don't have much time to stop. <Who, the fish or the children?> Since my last email to you, I've seen him swimming very fast and totally erratic.  No rhyme or reason.  Spinning, shooting to the bottom, swimming to the top and then going to lay at the bottom.  He seems to be a little weak as far as the tank current too. <Wild swimming is often a sign of sudden changes in the environment. Some species simply play when freshwater is added -- danios are famous for getting all frisky when cool water is added to an aquarium. But more usually it is an alarm reaction, the fish instinctively trying to move from somewhere uncomfortable to somewhere safer.> As I'm writing this to you, my little cat is at about mid-tank level swimming/spinning erratically.  He appears to be on his way out although I hope I'm wrong. <Sounds grim. I'd definitely do a big water change, at least 50%, to dilute anything in the tank that might be harming him. Also, consider if it possible anything is getting in the tank that shouldn't. Paint fumes for example. Children sometimes drop things like pennies into aquaria, and these can poison the fish, so also watch for things like that. One last thing. Make sure the dechlorinator you are using removes chloramine as well as chlorine. Some water suppliers use chloramine, and it is toxic to fish. Not all dechlorinators remove it.> I'm thrown off a little by this because his color looks so much better and his tail is not straight up.  Now he seems to be exhibiting different behaviour. <It is very odd.> I also tried the cucumber like you recommended and my Pleco wants to offer you his sincerest thanks for a fine, new meal. <My Panaque nigriventris (a similar species) loves cucumber rind, and by offering some at the same time each day I trained her to come out during the daytime (normally this species is very shy and nocturnal). Take a look here: http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/files/panaque_high.mov > I also thought I'd get a little creative and I threw a peeled red grape in (washed first of course).  He likes that too but not as much as the cucumber. <Almost anything plant-based is worth trying. Some plecs enjoy sweet potatoes and carrots, others like a bit of melon rind. Dandelion leaves are usually enjoyed. Most like cooked peas, and these are good sources of fibre as well as protein. The only things to avoid are acidic fruits and things that are toxic unless cooked, such as rhubarb or certain beans. A healthy Plec diet should be around 90% plant material and only 10% meaty foods like prawns or mussels. It is also a good idea to add some bogwood if there isn't any already there. Some plecs use the wood as a source of fibre, and a few actually digest it.> Rachel <Cheers, Neale>

Catfish Ich  4/8/07 Hello! <<Hi, Victor. Tom here.>> I have a somewhat urgent question, since I just added fish to a tank that already had a Pleco in it, but one of them had Ich. <<Oops'¦>> Unfortunately one of the additions is an angel catfish (Synodontis angelicus) and I'm not sure what treatment to use so I do not harm him. Thank you for your time and best regards. <<Look into Kordon's Pond Rid-Ich+, Victor. It's a re-formulation of the original (excellent) product and can be both safe and effective when used to treat scaleless fish like your Synodontis. Obviously, you'll want to pay special note to any/all precautions and/or recommendations that the manufacturer makes in regard to treatment. As an aside, unless your tank is already heavily aerated, I would also look into providing for this in conjunction with the treatment. Best of luck.>> Victor Teran <<Tom>>

Baby Eater, Guppies, Synodontis nigriventris comp.  3/19/07 Hi WWM crew, <Ben> I have a 46 gallon tank with two filters (I use charcoal) and an oxygen bubbler. I have assorted rocks and fake plants in my freshwater aquarium. Just yesterday I went to the fish store and bought 18 Guppies (8 male and 10 female). So now in my tank I have 1 Upside-Down Catfish, 2 Cardinal Neon Tetras <These are two different species> , and 18 Guppies. The Guppies always huddle at the top of the tank. I was wondering if once the Guppies had babies, if the Upside-Down Catfish would attack and eat them and if this is normal for an Upside-Down Catfish to do (even though it is usually unseen and hiding somewhere because it is nocturnal)? <Yes, might> I was also wondering if it would eat the adult Guppies. <Generally this small Synodontis doesn't bother such fishes, but it might, yes> My tank has very low pH and last night a Rummy Nose fish died suspected from a white growth (I don't know if this matters but it might help). <Need numbers... not opinions...>                                               Thank you for your time,                                                            Benjamin <Data please... water quality tests, maintenance routine, foods/feeding... Bob Fenner>

Need information about an Upside-down Catfish   12/31/06 Hey guys, <<Greetings and Happy New Year! Tom here.>> Hope your holiday is going good!   <<And yours as well.>> I'm really stumped here.  I just purchased a pitch black upside down catfish of some sort.  He's about 8" long and swims upside down. <<The Mochokidae family is occasionally referred to as the Upside-Down Catfish family even though Synodontis is only one genus in the group. Not the only genus in the family to display this swimming behavior.>> No where could I find any information on him all over the web and forums. <<There's tons of information regarding Synodontis nigriventris, which is the most common and popular Upside-Down Catfish among hobbyists, but I would suggest that your fish is likely another member of the family. Eight inches long would be about double the typical size of this animal, usually topping out at four to five inches.>> Are you familiar with this catfish and can it go with African Cichlids? <<I don't have any first-hand experience with this group but they're African in origin and my research suggests that, yes, most will go with African Rift Cichlids, West African Cichlids and African Tetras. Larger varieties may make a meal of small fish, though.>> I hope he's not too aggressive for my smaller 3" Mbuna.   <<As does your Mbuna, I'm sure.>> The guy at the pet store told me he was a true Synodontis upside down catfish, but like I said, I can't find any info on him at all.   <<As I said, it could very well be of the Synodontis group but doubtful that it's a 'true' Upside-Down Catfish as we commonly know them.>> Help me out...............please!!! <<If you're using Google as a search engine, I don't know how you couldn't find at least some information on your fish. Check this site out and see if it doesn't give you a leg up on what you need: http://fish.mongabay.com/mochocidae.htm.>>   Thanks <<You're more than welcome and enjoy the holiday. Tom>>
Re: Need information about an Upside-down Catfish
 1/2/07 Thanks Tom.   <<No problem, Jay. (It is Jay, isn't it?) >> The most info I found on Google that seems to be the catfish I have is the Asian upside down catfish or giant upside down catfish.   <<Let's go with what we suspect to be the appropriate species: Mystus leucophasis. (I'm torn between the usage of the scientific names and common names as both can be confusing for our readers depending on the context of the post.) Regardless, this guy (gal?) seems to fit the bill based on your description.>> What do you know about this species, there is only one article on it all over the web believe it or not. <<True enough. Lots of 'chatter' about them in various forums but not a lot of hard information.>> Can you share your knowledge with me on this species?   <<In this case, I'm going to plead a certain degree of 'ignorance'. This fish has been in the hobby for quite a while but its nature/behavior hasn't made it very popular among most but the hardcore Catfish enthusiasts. If we're correct in its identity, smaller tank mates don't fare well including species such as Corys that shouldn't present themselves as 'feeders', let alone others without the same built-in 'defense' characteristics.>>   It says it's rather aggressive is this true? <<From the little that I know of this particular fish, yes, it is aggressive. It seems to be at odds with the upside-down swimming behavior which is thought to be a trait evolved to protect it from predators. Given its somewhat notorious reputation for devouring its smaller tank mates (not a heck of a lot smaller, by the way), you might wonder why they bother to swim upside down at all. (Actually, it might revert to an upside-right position and stay that way depending on the foods that are fed. If it -- hopefully -- dines on foods that sink, it may not continue its upside-down swimming activity.) Doesn't mean that it won't go hunting for other 'food', though. >> Thanks <<You're welcome but I confess to being caught short on this one. You might consider taking this fish back to the store. You weren't given good information from the LFS folks to begin with and, personally, I don't like introducing 'trouble' into my tanks, which is what this fish sounds like to me. Best of luck however you want to go but I'd take it back. Tom>>

Catching A Syno Eupterus Good morning Crew! I have a quick question. What would be the best way to catch a Synodontis eupterus? (or Featherfin catfish, if that is correct) I bought a couple of them about 4 months ago from Pet Supermarket (much like a Petco) and put them in a now non-existent 20 gallon tank. They called them "Syno cats" and the description said they would only grow about 4". I moved them to my 29 gallon where they disappeared for months, although I could always see their barbels and tails poking out of the rock caves and driftwood. I put some Nori in the tank to see if anyone would enjoy grazing during the daytime, and much to my surprise the Featherfins came out... one is a good 5", the other one is almost 4"! I have now identified them properly and am sure they are Synodontis eupterus. They are so quick and stealthy. I am pretty sure I would have to break down the tank, or at least remove all the driftwood and rocks, to catch them. They quickly retreat the moment they feel a vibration near the tank, or when I open the top. I love them, they look so exotic, but I can see two of these are much too small for a 29 gallon. Any advice on how to net them? Their magnificent top fin looks so delicate, I am afraid it would get caught in a regular fish net. Thank you! Nicole < This is a very nice catfish that I have seen up to 9 inches. The dorsal fin is not as delicate as you think. Get a large cotton net and try and lift the catfish out of the tank and minimize the contact with the net and the dorsal fin. You could always get a big plastic bag, place it in the tank and chase the catfish into the bag. Then just lift him out with the water.-Chuck>

Breeding blue tetras and cichlid problems. Mochokid comp.   7/12/06 Hello. I was wondering what I would have to do to breed the blue tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui), also what are the sex characteristics. <Cochu's Blue Tetra... have no personal experience with... you might peruse this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=Boehlkea+fredcochui> I am also having problems with one of my cichlids (Melanochromis auratus) and a Synodontis nigrita. whenever my poor cat tries to come out to eat he just get beat up by the one cichlid until he goes back to his hiding place. I kept my poor Syno. in my 55 gallon tetra tank and he prospered. now he looks like he came out of a boxing match. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks CJ <I'd move this Catfish, pronto... back in with the Tetras or somewhere more easygoing. The situation with the Cichlid is not going to improve... it will kill this cat if they are not separated. Bob Fenner>

Plant sticks / golden apple snails / feeding... Synodontis comp., fdg.  7/5/06 Hallo. I think before I purchased three golden apple snails my plants were looking a little eaten / worn -  some more than others. All I currently have is two Synodontis nigriventris which I feed every other day with one to two pinches of flakes (morning and evening for example). <This small African Catfish species can make plants ragged... chew small holes. Generally at night> To add variety I include frozen bloodworm / peas and greens. I think that I am feeding them enough, better to give too little than too much? <Hard to so... Mochokid catfishes are so active that they seem to "swim off" any excess food> I have three plant sticks embedded in the sand - should I stick one underneath each plant, if that's the case then I had better use the others as I have around eleven plants in my 18.6 gallon. <Mmm, worth trying... though it may be that you have "too many foxes, too few hens"... that the catfish will still be too much for the volume of plant material present> I expect the snails will accelerate the plant munching though one of the reasons I chose them was because I was informed that they weren't a major problem in this respect. <Mmm, generally not... though Pomacea/Ampullaria species are individualistic...> Please advise me. Many thanks team. Steve. <Best to keep your eyes on all, consider moving the Synodontis. Bob Fenner>

Synodontis eupterus  Featherfin catfish and Canister filter ratings  2/23/06   Bob Fenner    First let me 'Thank You' for answering my last question I sent you. <Welcome> I have been offered 16 Synodontis eupterus catfish about 4 inches in length. <Neat... a community> The only tank I have available for them is a 125 gallon which contains no other fish. The question is how long could they be kept in such a tank with the appropriate rockwork i.e.: caves etc.? <Perhaps indefinitely... with good feeding, regular water changes...> That is until what length would they need to be separated if at all. I've read numerous articles and most agree that they can be kept in groups as they are not aggressive to each other. A few articles claim they are aggressive when two are kept in the same tank. <In small tanks, yes> Maybe you need more than two so they have a pecking order similar to angel fish. <They do indeed>   Also what size filter would one need on this size tank for both the interim and long term? <I'd have two large outside power filters, some sort of internal circulation (powerheads, airstones...)> I was thinking of a Filstar 3 plus a trickle filter with a gallon of small bio balls. What about a Filstar 3 and an Aqua Clear 110? <These would do nicely> Water change of about 25% would be done weekly in either case. <Good>   Reading answers to other peoples questions I've noticed that you prefer the Eheim 2028 [?] over the Filstar 3. <Yes> Could you give your reasons? <Eheims are superior in design, construction... use less power, are the most reliable...> I realize that the Eheim is a much larger filter but up here in Canada the Filstar 3 can be purchased on sale for $150 whereas the Eheim costs about $250 when on sale. Therefore for about $50 more you could purchase two Filstars. Thank You in advance   Brian <I understand... do check the values however for flow per money for water movement... and understand the Eheim will likely be of service for a decade, two... A better value... Bob Fenner>

Non-Stop Catfish  - 02/16/2006 HELP! I have 2 Synodontis multipunctatus and 1 of them keeps swimming round and round the perimeter of the tank only stopping to rest awhile and to feed, is this normal behaviour? < This species is found only in Lake Tanganyika. They are a very active species and this behaviour sounds normal for this fish.> I have a 4 foot tank that holds approx. 140 litres of water, I do a 20% water change every week and regularly test the water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all are reading fine. I have 2 filters 1 is an under gravel filter and the other a Fluval canister filter and I syphon out the water with a gravel cleaner. I can see no signs of disease i.e.- white spot or reddened gills no ulcers or fluffy growths my ph is 7 and the temp is 26 degrees. I am worried that my Synodontis is going to die from exhaustion or am I being overall worried Ann < They actually like the pH a little higher but everything else sounds good.-Chuck>

Small Synodontis behaviour  - 2/15/2006 I have 2 what I think are squeaker catfish. <Mochokids...> They have black and white spots that look like leopard spots the fins all 7 (including tail) are black edged with white they have to long sharp looking barbels and approx. 4 smaller ones. One of these fish keeps swimming round and round the tank only stopping to feed and occasionally rest is this normal? <Yes, quite...> I can see no signs of disease i.e. Whitespot no reddened gills and no signs of ulcers. My tank is 4 foot long and holds approx. 140 litres of water my ph is 7 and temp is 25 degrees. I do a 20% water change every week and use a gravel cleaner. I have 2 filters one an under gravel filter and the other a Fluval canister filter. I am worried that my poor fish is going to exhaust itself and am trying to find the cause for this behaviour. should I be worried? <Mmm, no. If there's enough to feed on... will be fine. Will settle into a given routine, including rest, in time... and given a darkened tunnel like space to hide in. Bob Fenner>

Upside down catfish suddenly died   2/9/06 Hi. I'm hoping you'll be able to tell me what went wrong, or at least give me some ideas. I bought an upside down catfish Saturday, the 4th to add to my 5 gallon tank. <Too small for this Synodontis...> I have 2 goldfish <Not good to mix tropicals with...> and a scavenger fish.  The water temp is 75 degrees (warm for the goldfish, but it's the same temp as at the pet store).  The catfish had been hiding out during the day and only coming out at night until today (the 8th). I noticed that it was out swimming around all day, even with the tank light on (normally, it would hide under the rock during the day and only come out when all the lights where off).  I was watching it swim around tonight and didn't notice anything funny except that it was out and about while the tank light was on, and that there was an area on it's head that was pink in color normally, the fish was dark brown with light brown spots).  I shut off the tank light and all the lights to the room. I went back out 5 minutes later and it was dead.  I'm wondering if you could give me some ideas as to why it could be seemingly fine one minute and then dead the next. All the other fish are doing fine.  Thank you for your help. Erin <Likely just "shock", stress... differences in the environment in the store and your tank... but, as stated, this is a mis-mix, and too small a world for S. nigriventris. Bob Fenner>

Breeding Lake Malawi Catfish 7/7/05 Hello, I was interested in breeding S. njassae and I am in need of a protocol to follow.  Do you have any idea where I can find this information?  I Googled, but I did not find detailed information.  Any help would be appreciated. < This fish is not being worked on by aquarists because there is more money in breeding other species from Lake Tanganyika. Look for articles on breeding Syn petricola and Syn multipunctatus. Other areas to check would be Planetcatfish.com.-Chuck> Vanessa

FW fish ID's Dear Bob      I am having a problem identifying two fish in one of my tanks. One I have narrowed down to being a member of the family Crossocheilus or possibly a pencil fish. the other I know is a member  of the family Synodontis I think it might be a Synodontis nigrita. I have included a picture of each due with them as you wish. <Mmm, the first fish is definitely a Mochokid... maybe a Synodontis nigrita (note spelling), or S. nigromaculatus. The second little fellow I believe is a Characidium fasciatum. Bob Fenner>

Bullying Multipunctatus Catfish Thanks again for all of your priceless assistance. I am not sure what to do with my Synod Multis. In a Malawi 90 gallon I have 3 Synos- a Eupterus and 2 Multis. The slightly smaller (3.5"), but longer resident, Multi seems to chase the more recently introduced Multi a  lot. At first I thought, give it some time, but a few weeks later it is still going on as intensely. I have never noticed any scars or wounds on the Multi, just that lately it seems to rest more than usual  in strange positions, leaning on things at times. At feeding time, he still swims around the bottom and eats. I am not sure what the best course to take is. There are definitely enough caves, but the bully Multi almost seems to seek him out at times. I have read they are schooling fish somewhat, would adding another Multi or two help? I also have a 55 Tanganyikan tank where I could move him, except this tank is full of 1-2" juveniles, including a 2" Syno Angelicus (which is my favorite catfish of all and I don't want to endanger him). Any advice greatly appreciated. >> It will help to add more Multis. I would try to have a group of 5 fish that are around the same size. They will chase each other also, but not only one fish will be under constant stress. Good Luck, Oliver

Synodontis Catfish Bullying Cichlids I have had a four inch Synodontis petricola for about month now, this morning when I turned on the light she did something new. She chased all the Cichlids out of her cave, very aggressively. Normally she would basically ignore all the other fish in the tank. Then this evening when I fed her I noticed that her stomach was very bloated. I usually attempt to feed her with the other fish and then feed her specifically when I turn lamp out, it was after I turned the lamp out and fed her that I noticed her belly. She is still swimming around and she did seem to eat a little. Is she sick, what can I do? As for tank, it is a 30 gallon, 36 inch tank with an Emperor 400 filter. There are 8 small cichlids I believe they are all originally Malawian (4 of them came from my brother-in-laws tank--he has a fry problem,) they are all young the largest is maybe 1.5 inches. Then there is 1 common Pleco and the Petricola. The substrate is mixed coral and black pebbles. There are 3 Anubias plants, 3 Java ferns and a small piece of Amazon Sword. I keep the water at about 79 degrees, PH is 8, Nitrite and Ammonia are trace. I do weekly 7-10 gallon water changes. The tank finished cycling about a month ago and the fish were added a few at a time over a 10 day period. Until today everything seemed perfect. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks, Tony < In the wild, this catfish deals with cichlids all day long and doesn't back down very easily. I think what is going on here is the much larger catfish is pushing the smaller cichlids out of the way at dinner time. She is probably eating both during the day and at night. I would recommend just one feeding a day during the daylight hours. Fed only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. If your fish is not eating then it could be an internal bacterial infection that needs to be treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

Upside Down cat Hi, I have a fairly new tropical fish tank (less than a year) and a small catfish. I have just noticed it swimming upside down (it is not an upside-down catfish!). It will right itself but every now and then it turns over. Is this normal? It's swimming seems quite erratic. It floats around with the flow and jerks about. Does it have a swim bladder problem? I heard this could be caused by over feeding but seeing as it doesn't eat the food I put on the surface for the other fishes, rather being a catfish it roots around the bottom of the tank.  Thanks, Alex <Many Synodontis catfish swim upside down at times , even though they are not called upside down cats. The floating and jerking sounds a little weird if it happens all the time. If you really think that there is an internal bacterial problem then treat the tank with Metronidazole.-Chuck> 

What Kind of Catfish? Stick not Poisonous, but Does Hurt Like the Devil! I bought a fish which I was told was a Synodontis from the pet shop recently. He is completely black with a sort of catfish mouth and likes to hide amongst the plants and wood in my aquarium. He looks really sleek and unusual and swims the right way up! He has a spiny fin which the pet shop said was poisonous and would feel like a bee sting if I touched it. When I looked up Synodontis I realized there are hundreds of them. I wondered if there is any way of knowing what type this is so I can check how big he will grow, what he likes to eat etc.?  He is about 1 1/4 ins at the moment. Also will his poisonous spike kill my other fish as they brush against it a lot? < Go to Planetcatfish.com There you should be able to find your catfish. The spines may be covered with bacteria that can cause an infection but freshwater catfish do not have poisonous spines.-Chuck> 

Synodontis multipunctatus Spotted Hello, <Hi, Magnus on duty.>   My Synodontis catfish was caught underneath a rock for awhile, not quite sure how long. When we discovered that we didn't notice him in the tank  we started moving rocks and shells around and he came darting out. Very damaged, his long tail has been eaten off to the base and he has all kinds of skin damage. The skin has been torn off some parts of his belly. <ouch! Was he being pestered by fish prior to this?  I have seen many cichlid tankmates be found "stuck" areas (under rocks, inside decor, below driftwood, even inside filters), later to discover that the fish was literally hiding for it's life! You might want to keep an eye on your other Synodontis, just in case.>   We put him into our breeder net to isolate him from the other fish and I put some prime in to help with his skin. Do you have some suggestions on what treatments I should use for his skin? <If you can, I would set up a quarantine tank (10 gallons would be fine) so you can move this fish and medicate him that way.  He'll be happier in a tank rather than a breeder net.  Some cichlids harass fish in breeder nets when the lights go out, just something to consider.  As for medications, I have found that most of the medicines produced by Mardel have worked wonders on the health of my fish.  Maracide would be a good addition to the tank to ensure he doesn't have any secondary infections from his wounds.> He seems to be doing okay but I would like to do whatever I can do to have his belly heal faster. <making sure he doesn't get any secondary infections will be the best you can do.  Can't really speed up the healing process, just make sure that nothing else can do any more damage.  During this time make sure you keep up on water changes, and keep water parameters at their optimal levels.> He is in a African Cichlid tank and was doing fine until he got caught under a rock. All the other fish are great and we have another Synodontis that is doing fine. Sandra Wunrow <keep an eye on the other catfish, just in case you have a fin nipping cichlid causing these problems.  Good luck with your fish, Separate and medicate, and keep an eye on him.  They are hardy fish and normally bounce back! -Magnus.>
Synodontis multipunctatus Spotted
Hi, Magnus, <Hi Sandra> I just wanted to let you know that my Synodontis catfish healed very well. <Glad to hear that! Catfish are pretty tough fish.> It does look my other Synodontis does pick on this one though.  When we put him back into the tank the two fish were going around in circles biting at each others mouth... <I would separate before more injuries happen, set up another tank or return one to the store.> Before he got hurt , it seems like it was the dominate Catfish. Do you think because we had the fish in breeder net for a couple of weeks that the other fish became dominate when we introduced him back into the Tank? <Yes, that is what indeed happened. The other fish had a chance to become the dominant fish in the tank, once the other one was reintroduced, the "new" guy was on the others established territory. You can always rearrange the tank decor making them both have to re-establish territories, but there will probably be aggression down the road. You should set up a separate tank for one and keep it there.> Thanks, Sandra Wunrow <Good Luck. -Magnus> 

Catfish with missing fin Hello all, it's Sandy again. Before I start, just wanted to thank you all for all your help in the past....much appreciated.  I've found myself seeking for help once again.  I'm not sure if this happens often but here goes. I currently have a 90 gallon freshwater aquarium.  Inhabitants are 2 Synodontis catfish, 2 Plecos, 2 blood parrots, 3 fairy cichlids, 1 electric yellow and 1 bumble bee cichlid.  The cichlids are about 2 inches so far, a common Pleco about 5 inches and a chocolate Pleco about 3 inches.  The catfish are about 3-4 inches.  I HAD a red zebra and an auratus cichlid but had to trade them in because they are waaaaay too aggressive. ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 20 pH 7.6 - 7.8 water temp 75-78 I'm performing a 30% water change every 2 weeks adding water conditioner.  Last week, I had noticed that one of my catfish had his left fin missing.  At first I wasn't sure, just thought he had them tucked in, but today, he ended up coming out during feeding and I got a closer look.  It is totally gone.  I'm pretty sure it's either bitten off by the red zebra or auratus because none of the other fish are as aggressive as these 2.  I'm not sure if he's able to swim either since he's been hanging out at the same place these last few days.  Should I remove him and put him in a separate tank (which I do have) until he recovers?  Will he survive with just 1 fin?  Will it grow back and if so, how long? I'm really worried if he'll survive or not.  I sure hope so.  Please help. Thanks, Sandy <<Dear Sandy; Normally a Synodontis cat is more than capable of handling itself in a tank full of cichlids. However, accidents can happen! As long as you keep your nitrates low to help ensure the fin doesn't become fungused, you shouldn't have to worry. It may grow completely back, depending on the extent of the damage. Even if it doesn't, the wound will heal, and the catfish should (!) be able to swim normally with his stump. By the way, I would blame the other Synodontis before the cichlids. They are notoriously territorial towards each other starting at that size.. you might want to watch the two signs for aggression towards each other. Telltale scrape-marks on their sides are a dead give-away. -Gwen>>
Catfish with missing fin
Hi Gwen, Thanks for your help.  I never would've thought it would be the other Syno that was attacking my 1 fin "fighter" but now that you mention it, the minute I took a look at them today, I noticed that the other "dominant" Syno IS definitely attacking him.  I feel so sorry for the guy...Also, I'm glad I took the other 2 cichlids back anyway, they were beginning to be a nuisance!  hehe As for my one finned catfish his fin is completely torn off and you can actually see the scar from where it used to be.  I somewhat doubt that it will grow back since it's literally ripped off....but please tell me some good news!!!  I haven't removed him to another tank yet but fear that I should do so...since the other guy seems to chase him everywhere, not to mention what happens when the lights go out... I will be performing a 30% water change within the next few days so I might end up taking him out and helping his wound heal before it gets infected.  Should I add Stress Coat to aid in healing?  What about aquarium salt?  He is still active and is appearing in different caves but as soon as he gets near the other catfish, he gets chased again.  He is still eating which is good.  He seems to be able to function pretty well so far with only one fin.  I still see him swim upside down and all.  Will they still be aggressive when they get bigger or does it depend on the species?  I'm pretty sure mine are Eupterus.  Well so far, things are going okay...just hope he doesn't grow weak on me during the next few weeks.  But thanks again for your help!!! Sandy <<Dear Sandy, you are most welcome. It would definitely be wise to remove your beat-up catfish. Once begun, the aggression towards him will most likely not cease. Eupterus can be quite aggressive towards each other at this size, as you are witnessing. Make sure your water quality is good, not more than 50ppm nitrates, less is better, to prevent secondary infections to the wounded fin. You are right in that it may not grow back, but it would be best to keep it clean until the wounded area heals completely. Salt will help, catfish can tolerate it for short periods of time, say a week or two until he heals up. Stress Coat is not quite as necessary, but it won't hurt if you use it at the correct dosage. Good luck!-Gwen>> WWM FAQ Crew <crew@mail.wetwebmedia.com> wrote: Catfish with missing fin Hello all, it's Sandy again. Before I start, just wanted to thank you all for all your help in the past....much appreciated. I've found myself seeking for help once again. I'm not sure if this happens often but here goes. I currently have a 90 gallon freshwater aquarium. Inhabitants are 2 Synodontis catfish, 2 Plecos, 2 blood parrots, 3 fairy cichlids, 1 electric yellow and 1 bumble bee cichlid. The cichlids are about 2 inches so far, a common Pleco about 5 inches and a chocolate Pleco about 3 inches. The catfish are about 3-4 inches. I HAD a red zebra and an auratus cichlid but had to trade them in because they are waaaaay too aggressive. ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 20 pH 7.6 - 7.8 water temp 75-78 I'm performing a 30% water change every 2 weeks adding water conditioner. Last week, I had noticed that one of my catfish had his left fin missing. At first I wasn't sure, just thought he had them tucked in, but today, he ended up coming out during feeding and I got a closer look. It is totally gone. I'm pretty sure it's either bitten off by the red zebra or auratus because none of the other fish are as aggressive as these 2. I'm not sure if he's able to swim either since he's been hanging out at the same place these last few days. Should I remove him and put him in a separate tank (which I do have) until he recovers? Will he survive with just 1 fin? Will it grow back and if so, how long? I'm really worried if he'll survive or not. I sure hope so. Please help. Thanks, Sandy

Please re-send your Synodontis query! Ok, I will hang onto this email, since he has added a snail mail addy, so perhaps I can send him a snail mail reply. A nice postcard from Montreal should brighten his day. :D -Gwen <I am sure you are correct. Bob> I can't find a return email addy for this? -Gwen <Yikes! Must've lost it somehow... Hope he'll write back! Bob> Dear Sir I am a young aquarist from Poland. I read your article about fish Synodontis. It is very interesting. Could You help me? Could You send me some more interesting information of this fish (Synodontis sp.- exactly Synodontis robianus). (Biology, spawning, fecundity etc.) My address is : Przemyslaw Czerniejewski ul. Dembowskiego 25/16 71-535 Szczecin Poland Thank You very much Przemyslaw Czerniejewski

Re-Overloaded Thank you, Sabrina <You bet> I appreciate the info.  I change the water in all my tanks weekly, about 20%.   <Wonderful.> I have a question concerning the upside down catfish.  These guys are about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length.   <Probably too small to be a terror right now, but it probably won't be too long.> I never seen them unless I look under the fake stump they hide under.  Are these the same fish as the ones called butterfly catfish that hang at the top of the tank?   <Umm, try though I might, I cannot find anything that goes by 'butterfly catfish'.  Might you mean 'African Butterflyfish', Pantodon buchholzi?  If so, well, these are *completely* different fish from the upside-down cats; African butterflies are not cats at all, and are actually closely related to Arowana.  They are voracious eaters of anything small and live (crickets are one feeding option), and would certainly do in any small fish - but frankly, of freshwater fish, they are one of my favorites.> Also, my tetras are:  2 black phantoms, 2 white skirts, 3 Serpae, and 3 Pristellas.  I live about 100 miles from the nearest LFS which is a Petco or Wal-Mart.  They won't take trade ins.  There is an private owned pet store close to my daughter, about 200 miles away that will take trades.  But, transporting may be a problem. <Yes, understandable.  Perhaps you can find some new homes for the somewhat-abandoned fish?  Or again, there's always the large Rubbermaid container route if things get out of hand.  Wishing you and your new charges well,  -Sabrina>

Upside-down Catfish Hello WWM crew, <Hello, Gage here, your friend in catfish.> I recently purchased a black upside down catfish that I have yet to identify online nor on your site.  I just saw it swimming upside down in my LFS.  They labeled it black upside down catfish.  It is about 3.5" long and has 5 tiny spots on its side.  It is not aggressive at all.  The funny part:  I have a semi-aggressive bumblebee catfish about the same size, and before I introduced the black ud cat I mixed the deco and land around to eliminate any territory of the bumblebee.  When the ud cat went in, the bumblebee immediately went after it, however, it did not seem like it was attacking it.  I kept watch for a good hour and all they did was what looked like nuzzling.  No quick movements against each other, but just swimming in unison next to one another.  What is going on? <They are probably just checking each other out, no worries.> They do look similar in appearance except one is striped and the other is black and swims upside down.  Any ideas as to what is happening?  To my knowledge, bumblebee's don't mate in captivity and I still have no idea what kind of ud cat the black one is.   <Most likely some sort of Synodontis, possibly nigriventris, contractus, or batensoda.  Check out Fishbase.org and the link below to help with the ID, Best Regards, Gage. http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/Mochokid/synodont/g_thumbs.htm   >

Very aggressive Synodontis upside-down catfish (05/30/03) Hello, I have a question for you.   <Hi, Ananda here tonight...> I have a three year old Upside-down catfish that up until this point has been a very peaceful fish.  But a few days ago I noticed that the top of my spotted Raphael fish was white.  After watching for a little while I noticed that it was white because the Synodontis kept biting him there every time he saw him.  I moved him to another aquarium and he was fine for one day (hiding in a cave) but after that he began attacking all of my fish in that aquarium too.  I have been looking on the internet for possible reasons for this, and most sites I have seen have said that it should be compatible with every type of fish.   <The book I have says that some Synodontis species are compatible with other fish, while others aren't... do check out www.planetcatfish.com and try to find details about your particular species.> I was wondering if you knew what I could do to fix this problem.   <Hmmm... a new tank for the catfish, perhaps....> Any help would be greatly appreciated! -Jeremy Oh, and the first aquarium is a 29 gallon, the new one is a 55 in case that may help you. <How large is the fish? Some Synodontis species get to be a foot long, far too large for a 55 gallon tank. It may be that your fish is just feeling cramped for space. --Ananda>
Very aggressive Synodontis upside-down catfish
>He is about 5 inches long.  I wouldn't think that he would be too large for a 55 gal.  What size of an aquarium would you recommend for him? >>You have just aptly described the Synodontis, especially a character that large.  If he's in the tank with only a few other inhabitants (who are well-equipped to defend themselves), then, no, a 55 isn't too small for him.  If, on the other hand, you have smaller, less aggressive fishes, he very well could harass them to death.  Especially at night when you won't be watching.  Hope this helps!  Marina

Synodontis note Hi Jeremy, Ananda is correct, some of these guys don't get along with other fish, mainly those similar in feeding habits, living space (substrate and under rocks and logs) like Pleco's, other Catfish. Best to find a different home for one or the other.  This is true of several of the cats, Plecos, etc. A group of two or three Synodontis is alright, but they will chase each other around too if it's too crowded or there is a pronounced size difference.  I got around some of these issues by feeding in separate locations.   Best of luck!  Craig>

Re: Seven-Inch Spotted Pleco BLOATED I'm sorry.  I don't understand what you're trying to tell me.  It's interesting that in your E-mail I only received the <<>> for the second portion of what you said, and that it only showed up in my reply to you. Sincerely, Marianne <<Sorry about that! I'm not sure what happened! I've pasted my original reply below. Just in case you have problems reading replies in the future, all messages are posted daily at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs.htm>> Re: Seven-Inch Spotted Pleco BLOATED I have a 29 gallon tropical fish tank.  For this tank, I have a Whisper 30-60 outside filter.  In this tank, I have four large (bodies bigger than silver dollars) Veil-Tail Angel Fish, three green aeneus Corys, three albino Corys, one male pearl Gourami, one nine-inch common Pleco, and one seven-inch spotted Pleco (they get along great). <<Whew, that's a lot of fish in this size tank.>> The problem is this:  Over the past seven or so days, we have seen my seven-inch spotted Pleco get large, larger, and completely humongous.  Today is the worst.  Today I knew there was no way she (he/it) was pregnant.  Today I knew there was something horribly wrong.  With advice from my local favorite fish store person, I changed off 20% of the tank to lower the ammonia, acidity, and nitrites.  I added three teaspoons of AquaSafe by Tetra Aqua to neutralize chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals in the water I added (half of the water had been sitting more than 48 hours).  When I do the water change, I siphon the debris off the bottom.  At my fish store person's recommendation, I also added a product called TLC that adds good bacteria.  I also added three teaspoons of StressCoat with Aloe Vera (one to two teaspoons per gallon should be safe).  I did this because spotted Pleco is so bloated that her (his/its) sides are starting to split.  Please tell me if I'm doing the right thing.  Please advise me.  Please help me save my poor horribly bloated 7-inch spotted Pleco.  I've had her (him/it) since it was no more than one-half inch long.  Can you tell me if this has occurred because of the neglected condition of my water.  Please tell me what's wrong.  All the other fish are doing great.  I changed the filters six days ago, and changed them again today.  That's how dirty it had been -- that they needed changing again so soon.  We went away last week for three days.  My fish-sitter may have overfed them, I really don't know.  My tank has been established for however long it took my one-half inch spotted Pleco to get to be seven inches long -- close to a year.  I feed all the fish Tetra-Min Tropical Fish flakes.  I feed the Plecos Wardley Algae discs.  I know I haven't been changing off the water, the filters, or monitoring the condition of my water nearly often enough; however, none of the fish ever seemed stressed at all.  They've been thriving.  Please help. Sincerely, Marianne <<I would recommend immediately putting this Pleco into a QT tank. It sounds as if he's possibly constipated but it could be any one of a number of things, including the poor water quality. Fast him for 3 days and then feed him the inside of a frozen pea (thawed) and see if this helps. You will most likely also need to do some drastic maintenance on your main tank to get your water quality back into a normal (or at the very least safer) range. Three days of overfeeding will affect your water quality but not to the extent that it sounds like yours is currently at. What are your ammonia/nitrite/Ph levels now that you've done the water change? The filters will help some but large daily water changes are probably still in order. Ronni>>
Re:  BLOATED Pleco...  I found it in the Q&A!
<<I'm combining your two messages into one for ease of replying and posting.>> I found it in the Q&A!  Thank you!  I hope it will be okay that I've started to treat the whole tank with Maracyn-Two.  I need to set up a hospital tank. I felt it would take me too long to do that.  I didn't feel my Pleco had that much time.  He's fasting himself.  I hope he's not suffocating because I haven't seen him go to the top for air in a long time.  If he's still hanging in there, day after tomorrow I will try feeding him the inside of a thawed frozen pea.  In the meantime, I will try to set up a hospital tank.  I do think I have a 10-gallon setup I can clean up and get operating.  He appears to have spits in his sides.  Milky-white little bubbles are coming out from the splits <<The hospital tank doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a bare bottom tank with an air supply of some sort (even just an airstone will work). They can be set-up in a matter of minutes. Fill it at least ½ way with water from your main tank, filling it completely with water from your main tank is best. In this case no rocks is definitely the best too, that way you will be able to see if he's defecating. If it can be avoided, it's best not to medicate the main tank. Primarily because you may then be medication fish that don't need it and possibly causing adverse reactions.>> By the way...  I got the water conditions up to speed and then added Maracyn-Two this evening.  He's obviously not eating.  I stopped the algae discs anyway.  I continue the flakes.  He's been in the same spot for 24 hours.  He's still breathing and wriggles every once in a while.  I'm still hoping he'll make it.  What are your feelings on adding aquarium salt to a tank of Plecos, Cory cats, angel fish, and a pearl Gourami?  It's a 29 gallon tank.  I added 4 teaspoons; less than half of what you might put in, but for the Plecos and Corys.  The water was hard.  It's not now. Sincerely, Marianne <<You should be OK with the salt for the Plecos, I'm not positive on the Cories or the others. I believe Gouramis like a little salt so that should be fine. Ronni>>

Re: Synodontis eupterus with a cloudy eye Ronni, I had a dilemma come up right after I emailed you.  My Synodontis Eupterus has a problem.  One of his eyes is swollen and kind of cloudy with even a bit of a film on it.  I just read (as I was looking for an answer to this) that at night they scavenge around for food and sometimes have a tendency to bump into the heater.   <<Since it's only one eye it does indeed sound like an injury of some sort. Either a burn from the heater or a scratch from a rock or other decoration.>> Now I don't know what a heater burn would look like but his eye is rather grotesque looking right now and I really feel bad for him.  Do you think this is what it could be?  How should I treat him not knowing?  I do have 3 medicines on hand, 1) a concoction that my aquarium supplier has made (a kind of cure all she calls it), 2) Melafix by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals which I have used in the past and it has worked miracles and 3) Fungus Guard by Jungle.  What would your advice be?  I really love this cat and don't want him to suffer. <<I would recommend isolating him (geez, give me another week and I'm going to have all of your fish in QT tanks! *G*) and using the Melafix. It should help.>> Thanks once again, Dave <<Thank you! Ronni>>
Re: Synodontis Eupterus with a cloudy eye
Well Ronni, Just to keep you up to date, I have separated the Synodontis in another tank (where he will live out his life).  I've been treating him with the Melafix and stress coat as well as doing some water changes.  His missing eye seems to be healing up nice.  His good (?) eye, that got attacked also, seems to be doing nice too.  He is eating and is very active. I'm just hoping he has or gets sight in his one eye.  Thanks for the info and help.  Oh, just wondering what you think about putting another kind of Synodontis back into my African tank.  I think he was a bit small for the tank but I was wondering if a bigger one or perhaps another species would do well in there. Thanks again, Dave <Thanks for the update, I love hearing back from people. It sounds as if you're doing wonderful for him. It does sound like your Cichlids were picking at him so I would be a bit worried about putting another one in the tank. You might try a larger one but really keep a close watch on it and make sure it has some really good hiding places. Ronni>

Fish Compatibility; Possible bully in the tank, Catfish Fever! Got a really cool catfish a couple of months ago, but I don't know what he is, I'm attaching a picture of him; maybe you could help identify him? <A Synodontis sp., maybe S. eupterus... An African Cat of the family Mochokidae... you can see a bunch of these by plugging in the genus or family name in Fishbase.org> We have a 29 gallon setup, with live plants (although they keep dying), with 2 angels, a cherry barb, a silver-tipped "shark", a red-tailed "shark", a Raphael, a pictus catfish, a Pleco (that's growing like a WEED) and the unidentified catfish mentioned above. <Wowzah... this is going to be a very (as in too much) crowded system... and you have a real mix of water-type and personalities here... You should investigate (on WetWebMedia.com, FishBase, the BB's...) what you have, how big they get, what water quality they prefer...>   They have 3 small rock-like things to hide in, but the unidentified guy might be getting a little testy, especially with the pictus and the Pleco (the Pleco??).  Also, our ph level slowly climbs from close to 7.0 up to 7.2 no matter what we do to try and stabilize it (we've added those fizzy tablets that are supposed to stabilize it, but > that works for about a day or two).  We have to add pH down stuff at least once a week to get even a slight handle on it. <Don't worry re this issue... this "point" and range is fine as is... for all you list for now> Also, the silver-tipped shark swims in constant circles at the top of the tank, is this normal? <Mmm, yes. An active (brackish to marine) species of catfish. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ariidcats.htm> All other tank conditions are good, temp OK, never any ammonia problems, nitrates ok, etc.  We do a 5 gallon water change every week without fail. <Good routine. Bob Fenner>

African Cichlids Anthony, Thanks for the prompt reply I will start setting up my shopping list. <quite welcome> Of the compatible fish, which would be the best to start with. Are there some that will tolerate the tank cycling process better than the others? <actually all are quite durable. Try to add more than one at a time to temper aggression> Also I was thinking of a Pleco and a couple small cats to help with the housekeeping. Any ideas? Thanks again for the really prompt reply. <Plecos and Corys are a bad choice for true African water... look instead at African Synodontis species... a little pricey for some, but beautiful. Anthony>

Malachite green and Syno eupterus Mr. Fenner, My freshwater African cichlid tank has caught Ich. I also keep a Syno Eupterus catfish in the tank as well as the cichlids. I have some Malachite green and would like to treat the tank. Would my Syno be better off in a bucket with a heater and air bubbler for five days or in the tank with the malachite green? <I would elevate the temperature (to 84 F. or so...), make sure there's enough aeration... and use just a standard dose per gallon (same ole deal, compute the gallonage for real, L times W times height, divide by 231 (for cubic inches per gallon) deduct for displacement on the rock, gravel... Re-medicate probably every three days (per instructions)... and keep your eyes on all... The Mochokid cat should do fine with this protocol. Bob Fenner> Everett

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