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FAQs on Tiger Barbs Health

Related Articles: Tiger Barbs, Barbs, Danios & RasborasA Barbed Response; Wrongly maligned for being fin-nippers, barbs are in fact some of the best fish for the home aquarium by Neale Monks

Related FAQs:  Tiger Barbs 1, Tiger Barbs 2, & FAQs on: Tiger Barbs Identification, Tiger Barbs Behavior, Tiger Barbs Compatibility, Tiger Barbs Selection, Tiger Barbs Systems, Tiger Barbs Feeding, Tiger Barbs Reproduction, & Barbs, Danios, Rasboras 1, B,D,R Identification, B,D,R Behavior, B,D,R Compatibility, B,D,R Selection, B,D,R Systems, B,D,R Feeding, B,D,R Disease, B,D,R Reproduction,

 

Sick Tiger Barb    3/29/12
Wet Web Media Crew-
<Hello,>
I bought a baby Tiger Barb today at Wal-Mart because the poor little thing was swimming on its side and getting demolished by the others in it's tank.
<Sadly, this is natural behaviour if one of the fish is weakened and the other Barbs are hungry -- they'll view their weak compatriot as food, or at least target practise.>
I have never owned a fish before but I would love to nourish this little guy to health if possible.
<Is possible, assuming the tank provides good conditions. For a single Tiger Barb, you might just get away with 8-10 gallons, but you'd also need a heater and a filter. If the biological filter is new (i.e., you just set up the tank) you'll need to do daily water changes of about 20% for the first 2-3 weeks. New water will need to have water conditioner added. Feed sparingly, 2-3 times a week, and tiny, tiny amounts -- no bigger than the eye of the fish. Remove uneaten food after a minute.>
I put him in a tank with the appropriate water and have tried to feed him but he just lays completely flat at the bottom, desperately trying to sit upright. His little fins are constantly thrashing in an effort to swim around which is just heart breaking to look at. Is there anything I can do to help the little guy or should I go ahead and put him out of his misery?
<Hard to say. Do read: http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Fish can recover from surprisingly serious wounds, but they do need good conditions. If this fish was ailing for some other reason, then the outlook is worse.>
Thanks! Ansley
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tiger Barbs Need Help!    1/26/12
Hello. I have two tiger barbs
<Too few>
 in a 3 gallon tank
<Too small>
 which have just gotten Ich
. I have been treating it for a few days. I just got these fish 4 days ago, and they haven't eaten at all yet. I have been treating them with Nox-Ich Ich treatment.
<Malachite Green... I'd just elevate temperature. Read here...:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
I give them 3 drops per day. Recently, their fins have gotten cloudy, with small white, cloudy, strings hanging off. Is that fungus?
<Poisoning from the med.>
Could it be from the Ich treatment?
<Almost assuredly>
 One of them was floating today.
<... very bad>
He looks as if he might have fungus on his body, and on the top of his mouth. The other one just has Ich, so if it was fungus, wouldn't he have it too? Also, it looks almost like they have a small case of fin rot. The temperature of the tank stays around 70-73 degrees. They have a light on in the day, but not at night. The tank harness is slightly soft, the ph is normal, the nitrate and nitrite levels are fine too. They are not showing any signs of ammonia poisoning. What is going on with them and how can I fix it all? Could they starve soon? Thank you! Please write back, they need help!
Thanks,
Amy
<... Learn to/search WWM... read, understand, then act. Bob Fenner>

Problems with Tiger Barbs    12/12/11
Hi, after about 3 weeks, all seemed well.  Then  I started losing  4 and 5...what could make them so sick?  Water temp is good.  The  other fish are doing well
<Likely environmental conditions are poor. We need some numbers here. What's the nitrite (with an "i", not nitrate with an "a")? What's the pH? Do you know the hardness? How big is the tank? What is the temperature of the water? What is the turnover rate (gallons/hour or litres/hour) of the filter? How often do you do water changes? How much do you change? What sort of water conditioner do you add? Have you used any medications recently? Copper being especially toxic but used by many Whitespot medications. Are you adding salt? Cheers, Neale.>

tiger barb upside down... Env., too-soft water...    4/5/10
Hi, Crew,
Thanks for hosting such a great site.
I have been researching on your site and on the internet regarding my tiger barb.
I can't find the answer I'm looking for, so I'm emailing you for advice.
I have a 36 gallon freshwater tank. About 4 weeks ago, my zebra Danio died.
<Danios are social species, need to be kept in groups>
Within days, my dwarf Gourami developed what looked like blisters on his side and died soon after.
<... Read here: Oh! I see from below you already have>
I now know that this was probably a form of dwarf Gourami disease, based on what I read on your site. My second dwarf Gourami died closely thereafter, followed by two pearl gouramis (I still have one pearl left and it appears to be doing fine). I've been changing the water twice a week since these problems started. I haven't wanted to treat the whole tank with an antibiotic because I didn't want to upset the bio-filter and also because I have invertebrates and scaleless fish (snail, Kuhli loaches, albino Corydoras, shrimp). Perhaps this was a big mistake...
<Too likely so>
I typically do weekly water changes and water testing (for ph, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates). My biggest challenge is keeping the ph above 6.0 (this is an established tank, and it has been a real problem for me keeping the ph at an acceptable level).
<Mmm, actually... this isn't all that hard to do... Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardnessfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
My tap water is very soft and has a neutral ph of 7.0.
<I'd augment with a carbonate, bicarbonate buffer... you can make one yourself per the reading above, or buy a commercial one, or...>
Last week, one of my tiger barbs started swimming erratically, then started floating upside down. He has been upside down or on his side for 5 days now. I moved him a few days ago to a quarantine tank and have been treating him with tetracycline. I have one more dose to give him before I have finished one course of treatment. He is still upside down, and hasn't eaten for at least 5 days. He also has what appears to be fin rot with some fungal growth behind his dorsal fin. I really expected him to die, but he seems to still have some "fight" in him. I want to give him every chance I can, but I want to be humane as well.
<Mmm, something is going on here... water quality wise... What decor, ornaments are present in this system?>
Does this sound like swim bladder disease? (His scales aren't sticking out, which I know is an indication of dropsy.) Is tetracycline an acceptable treatment for his maladies?
<Not really... there is "something" awry with the system itself. Rather than treating symptoms, you need to find/discern and cure the cause/s>
I don't see anything else that's offered to treat swim bladder disease in the US--anything else you could recommend as a treatment (I have both Erythromycin and Maracyn and Maracyn 2 on hand). If you think I should start another antibiotic, what do I need to do given that I will have just completed a course of treatment with tetracycline?
<No treatment required, or suggested>
Should I even attempt to feed him (I see that crushed canned peas are recommended in some cases), or will that just muck up the tank? Should I bring out the clove oil?
<I would not>
Thanks for any help you can give.
Best,
Laura
<Read here as well:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Re: tiger barb upside down   4/5/10
Thanks, Bob, for your speedy reply!
Here's a bit more info: I've had the tank for nearly 5 years.
I have iron-enriched substrate (can't remember the brand name) mixed with a medium-sized pebble substrate--
about 1-1/2 inches deep. I have 9-10 assorted live plants. I have an assortment of fish:
5 Danios
3 barbs (one now in quarantine hanging upside down)
1 pearl Gourami
1 roseline shark
2 rainbow fish
1 shrimp
1 snail
2 Kuhli loaches
1 ram
4 neon tetras
1 Corydoras
The Danio that recently died and the Corydoras (that's still alive) were hatched from eggs in the tank (the parents of both have since died). My tank has always seemed pretty happy.
<Mmm... the "list" of possible contaminants is quite large... Do you measure for free Iron? Is there a cat-box near? Do folks use aerosol-spray cleaners in your home?>
I have an Eheim Ecco canister filter and a "whisper tetra" filter that hangs outside of the tank. I clean the canister every few months and the other filter every 2 weeks.
I haven't had a "mass death" in the tank until this past month, when about 6 fish died all within about 4 weeks' time (as noted in my earlier email).
I did start vacuuming "deeper" during my cleanings and I'm wondering if I could have released some harmful bacteria into the water as a result?
<A possibility>
To help manage the ph I've used buffers recommended by the LFS (a combination of Seachem acid and alkaline buffers according to instructions on the back of the containers) but the impact lasts for only 1 - 2 days before the ph sinks to 5 again. Maybe I need to add it more frequently until it stabilizes? I'll read up more on this.
<Please do so>
Just to revisit my poor little barb: it's in a quarantine tank. I've given it a course of tetracycline. It has been a few days since I started treatment. The barb isn't eating or swimming around--just hanging upside down. How soon could I reasonably expect it to start showing signs of recovery, if it's going to recover? I understand that you are not recommending any treatment, so I won't continue with an antibiotic.
However, when you say, "I would not" at the end of your last message, were you referring to the peas or the clove oil?!
Thanks for your help--
Laura
<The Clove Oil... I'd try some Epsom Salt... Please read here re:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
and the linked FAQs file above. BobF>

Help With Tiger Barbs, beh., hlth./env.    11/25/09
Hi!
<Hello,>
I was hoping that perhaps you could help me with my tiger barbs. I have been observing some odd behaviour from them as of late. I have searched the indexes but can't seem to find an answer that would suit my tank. First, my setup is a 20 gallon tank with gravel in the bottom. I have a clay pot that I glued gravel to with aquarium sealer (the stuff made for tanks) and they use it as a cave. I have a bio wheel filter that is in good working condition, and I have an undergravel filter with the two posts up each side with air stones in them. (I don't currently have the charcoal in them as I had to take them out for medication and haven't put them back in. It's just for aerating at the moment). I have a new heater which keeps my tank at 24c or 75f. I also have one plant in there which they have eaten all the leaves off in the middle half! Poor plant. Anyways, I have 5, well, HAD five tiger barbs. One died yesterday. I now have two regular tiger barbs, one of the albinos, and one green. They all get along great, (they aren't full grown yet, but close.)
<You really will need to keep them in groups of six or more; in smaller groups, Puntius tetrazona can become a real menace. As you recognise, it doesn't matter if you use the standard sort, the albinos, or the moss green tiger barbs. But you do need six or more.>
I basically have about 4 problems. The biggest concern for me is that they seem to be doing heavy breathing. Not all the time, and I don't seem them all doing it at once, but they do swim around breathing heavy by opening their mouths almost all the way and I can see their gills going. It at least seems heavy to me because not all of them do it, all the time.
<Barbs are like the old miner's canary: they quickly show when water conditions aren't good. Heavy breathing typically means high levels of ammonia or nitrite, or else dramatic changes in pH. Review water quality and check water chemistry stability. Tiger Barbs can muddle through the "cycling" phase of a new tank, but they will be stressed by it, and some may well die.>
The second problem I notice is sometimes when I come home and turn the lights on for feeding, I notice that some or all have faded colors. This usually returns in a few hours I'd say.
<Normal. Many, perhaps most, wild-type freshwater fish change their colours in the dark. Artificial varieties like Goldfish don't show this so much, which is why it's sometimes unexpected.>
The next is that I occasionally see them doing head stands but never for a long time. I also don't see it very often.
<Again, this is a classic sign of stress, typically ammonia/nitrite issues, but possibly sudden pH changes.>
And lastly, I recently added two of the regular tiger barbs to the three I had before. They were smaller than the other three but I have NEVER seem aggression among my fish. The one tiger barb has caught but to the others, but the other one is still quite small. He hasn't grown much. I seem him often hiding at the bottom of the plant, or in the cave. Is this because he's small? Or is there something wrong with him?
<This species is extremely hierarchical, and unless kept in adequate numbers, it is VERY common for one fish to become a bully, and the weakest fish to end up being picked on.>
I do test my tank and I have never seen ammonia or nitrite register on my tests.
<I just don't believe that this is reliable. What you're describing is classic environmental stress behaviour. If the tank has been running with fish for more than two months, and the nitrite and ammonia are both at zero, then you may be okay in terms of water quality. In that case, think about other possible sources of toxins, for example paint fumes. Also check you're using a dechlorinator that treats chloramine as well as chlorine.
Check the pH of your water is stable: some water supplies experience sudden pH changes over 24 hours. Take a glass of water, check the pH, and then repeat 24 hours later. If the pH is the same, you're fine. If not, you have a problem...>
Nitrate has never been above about 20. I don't do weekly water changes but don't feel that its overly important since I have very few fish in my tank.
The one problem is that my tank water is..... well.... hard. Very hard in fact. I would say it's reading at about an 8.5.
<In and of itself, this isn't the end of the world, assuming the Tiger Barbs were settled into this water chemistry by your local retailer. Yes, choosing hard water fish would be better: swordtails, platies, etc.>
The people at the fish store give me mixed suggestions on what I should do.
The one told me to use a ph reduced and against what I thought, I did.
(thinking they know best).
<Bad idea.>
But I had to put sooooo much of that in just to make like a .1 reduction. I had to double, sometimes triple the dose. And only to have my water return to where is was in just a couple days. I went back and the other fish guy told me that that's okay, and they can live in very hard waters and not to try and mess with the ph. A stable ph is better that a neutral ph.
<Indeed.>
So, basically, I just want to know what's going on with my fish. I have only had them two months so that one fish wasn't just old.
<See, in a young tank, I'd put money on water quality issues.>
My tank was very well cycled and I put a bacteria supplement into the water to help it.
<Most of these supplements are bogus.>
I did medicate them about 2 1/2 weeks ago with these fizzy tablets that turned the water green. It was a general bacteria medication because I noticed that it seemed like the fish had a gold shimmer to them.
<Gold shimmer is velvet, and a bacterial medication won't make a blind bit of a difference there. Be sure to identify the problem, and then medicate accordingly. Wrong medications can, will kill your fish.>
After the two doses I realized they still had it, but it's only when the sun in setting and shining into my window.... I think it's just the fish.
They weren't sick. The guy at the fish store said it was velvet. Oh well.
<Hmm...>
Sorry if I seem like I went on forever, I just wanted to give as much information as possible. Hopefully you can help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re Help With Tiger Barbs (RMF, any reason for pH 9 water?)<<No... odd. See below. RMF>>   11/28/09
Thank you for your response. I just have a couple follow up questions.
<Fire away.>
My water at home does have a ph swing after sitting out for a day or two.
It comes out of the tap at 7.4, and in a day or two it will be 8.5 - 9. Is this water not okay to use?
<I'd say not. Would recommend mixing 50/50 with rainwater (free!) or RO water (safest).>
or should I just make sure the ph stabilizes first?
<Always, always, ALWAYS let the pH stabilise before adding to the aquarium.
Get a 5 gallon bucket from a DIY store, fill with water, and leave overnight before using.>
Also, the pet store I buy them from keeps their water at 7.8. Is this to much of a difference?
<From pH 7.8 to pH 9? Gosh! Yes, far too much of a change. Are you using municipal water or well water?>
I have noticed sudden sickness after I brought them home. In fact, the one that died I had since the end of September.
<I bet.>
I do use a dechlorinator that does to chloramine as well.
<Good.>
Also, as for the number of fish, I do plan on having the whole tank stocked with the tigers, I was taking them home a few at a time to add them but then I stopped buying after the second bunch when they got sick. I feel I should have the tank under control before adding new fish.
<If you really do have water this hard and this basic, Tiger Barbs would not be my preference; I'd be looking at either hard water fish (like Platies and Guppies) or a brackish water community where the marine salt mix would stabilise the pH somewhere useful (e.g., with a mix of Mollies).>
And as for velvet. Could they still have it?
<Sure.>
I notice it on my green moss barb. He still has the gold shimmer to him.
It's hard to see on the others. If it's velvet, could that be what's causing the odd behaviour? Or killed the other fish?
<Velvet attacks the gills before the skin, and yes, this will cause respiratory stress.>
Now also, I said that since my tank has been established, I haven't seen ammonia or nitrite on my tests. Were you saying that you don't think my testing is reliable?
<Impossible for me to say.>
I use the liquid testing in the vials. I do it according to the instructions and when I color match, I don't see any color on them.
<That's usually a good start.>
So i guess, my final question is, do you think that it's that they have velvet or poor water conditions? Or both?
<The two things do tend to go together.>
And I guess I should be leaving my water to sit before adding it to the tank. Although the water stabilizes in about 24 hours, and it doesn't seem to affect the overall ph much, could this be causing the symptoms well
after the fact?
<Could well be.>
I appreciated your time to answer my questions. It's helped a lot.
<Cool.>
Oh, and I was thinking of getting some driftwood for my tank. I know this lowers the ph (or can) slightly. Is this a good idea?
<If your water is rock hard -- and I strongly recommend you test the General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness before doing ANYTHING else -- then bogwood will have little/no impact on pH. Cheers, Neale.> <<Summat is wrong here... either the test kit/reagents are shot, the user has misunderstood/is not following directions, or the municipality/source water is treating the tap for some reason with chemicals that is greatly elevating pH. I would do as Neale states and check your water for both KH and GH, and maybe contact your water supplier. Bob Fenner>>

Re: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (RMF, any reason for pH 9 water?) 11/28/09
About the note at the end, I don't believe I misunderstood the readings. I read the instructions every time I use it and it's clear. For both. The other testers I use in the kit work fine.
<Cool.>
As for my water, it's well water.
<Hmm.>
For using to water, is it safe to gradually switch them over to 100% RO water? Or how should I go about that?
<You MUST NOT use 100% RO water. That will be too soft. As I said, a 50/50 mixture of RO water with hard, basic tap water will produce something of moderate hardness and approximately neutral pH that suits a wide variety of community fish.>
And how would the salt help the ph?
<Salt doesn't change the pH at all. Marine salt mix isn't "just" salt, it's a mix of salt with various carbonates, sulphates, and lots of other things.
Taken together, marine salt mix raises pH and hardness alongside salinity.>
I really don't want mollies, and platies. Or guppies. I grew up with them and just want something different.
<Fair enough. Do review some of the other, less often seen livebearers though, like Limia nigrofasciata, Poecilia salvatoris, Heterandria formosa, for example.>
Is there much selection for brackish water fish.
<Yes, a very big selection, from Figure-8 puffers, Mudskippers, Spaghetti Eels, Archerfish to Violet Gobies, to name just a few. Do see my Brackish Water Aquarium FAQ for more.
http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Projects/brackishfaq.html
But not all species are on sale all the time in every pet store. So you have to keep your eyes peel, shop around, and build your collection slowly.>
And would I have to change the equipment I have for my setup.
<Depends. A low-end brackish water system is much like a regular freshwater tank, except roughly a level teaspoon of marine salt mix (6 grammes) is added per litre of water. Many plants will thrive under such conditions, so apart from the marine salt mix, the tank looks like a community system. At higher salinities things get different, and more like a marine aquarium in terms of decor.>
I looked at my fish again today and it's only the moss tiger that seems to have the shimmer, I don't see it on the other ones. I did noticed the he kept his two bottom fins close to his body the whole time, I suspect this is the ph...
<Could well be a factor.>
So, all said, should I look for an ro supplier and what ratio should I gradually change them to.
<I find 50/50 works well.>
Will it hurt them further to treat with a good velvet specific medication if it's possible they don't have it?
<Yes; all medications are poisons, and used unnecessarily, can cause problems.>
And how long can the ro water sit in a jug before using?
<Keep unused RO water in a bucket with a lid. Kept thus, it's fine for a week or two. Eventually dust, cooking grease, and so on will end up in there, and while not necessarily toxic, such things are best avoided.>
I will take your advice and test the hardness. Didn't suspect it was that because when I took my cycled water to the store to be tested, I assumed they checked it but said everything looked great. My kit only tests ph,
nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia
<Would strongly suggest you check the general hardness (degrees dH) and carbonate hardness (degrees KH) before going further.>
Oh, I guess I should ask, for my little guy, should I get something so he can be separated in the tank?
<Not much point.>
I haven't figured out who the alpha is yet. Any suggestion on food besides flakes and granules that might help him catch up in size?
<Doesn't work this way; fish grow every day of their lives, though the rate slows as they mature. A fish that reaches "adolescence" smaller than its peers will always be smaller.>
Thanks for all your help
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (Bob, do US grocery stores sell RO water?)  11/30/09
<<Some do, but most of this water is contactor-processed. RMF>>
I will test the two things as you suggested. Is there any way to alter these if they are way off?
<Letting the water stand so its pH stabilises, ideally with an airstone, but otherwise for 24 hours, will be helpful. Mixing 50/50 should result in something around 10-15 degrees dH, 5 degrees KH, and pH 7.5. If this is indeed what you get, this is absolutely fine for almost all community fish.>
Will the ro water help it?
<See above.>
Final question. With the ro water. Should it come from a fish store?
<Some folks do buy their RO water from fish shops. In the long term, it's more economical to own your own RO filter. Domestic water softeners aren't the same thing though, because they add sodium salts to replace the carbonate and bicarbonate salts that "fur" up pipes, kettles and appliances. That said, if you had brackish water fish species, the additional sodium would be well within their tolerances, so you can keep brackish water fish just fine with domestically softened water that has a bit of marine salt mix to replace some of the lost carbonate and up the salinity.>
The local grocery stores sell ro water in the vending machines for reusable bottles. Is that okay to use? I tested the water and it was very acidic.
Around 5.5. I was under the impression it should be around seven.
<I've asked Bob to comment here, but when I lived in the US, the grocery stores were selling filtered, not RO, water (e.g., Culligan's drinking water). This isn't the same thing as RO water at all. It could be used for keeping fish if the carbonate hardness, general hardness, and pH levels are in the tolerances of the species being kept. But given the very low pH of the water your vendor sells, it sounds unlikely that in its "raw" state such water would be acceptable. By all means try a 50/50 mix with tap water, and see what the general hardness, carbonate hardness, and pH levels come out as. If they're in the safe zone, then it'd be fine to use. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter where you get the water from, just so long as these three critical parameters are acceptable to the species being kept. I collect and use rainwater for example, which costs nothing and is about as environmentally friendly as water can get. On the downside, I need to strain out detritus (dead insects and leaves, mostly) that end up in the water butt, and it does have a low pH because of CO2 and organic acids that accumulate in the water butt, so mixing with tap water at a 50/50 ratio is essential. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (Bob, do US grocery stores sell RO water?) 11/29/09
I want to thank you for all the help you've provided. It's nice to just get straight answers instead of worry about whether or not the person is just trying to sell me something.
<Cool.>
I have tested the two hardness levels and I think I have found part of the problem. My general hardness is 120 (which according to the chart is moderately hard (100-200) although I'm not sure how this is for my tigers.
<Moderately hard levels of general hardness are just fine for most community fish, including Puntius spp.>
I will definitely research this. The second one, which I was surprised to find, was the carbonate hardness was way off.
<You mean extremely hard? High levels of carbonate hardness are not acceptable to most community fish. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
I tend to work in degrees KH because it's easier, but on the tables there you'll see how to convert between degrees KH and mg/l calcium carbonate.
Anything above, say, 8 degrees KH, about 140 mg/l calcium carbonate, is above what community fish like.>
I figured this was tested when I took my cycled tank water into the pet store before I bought my fish. Maybe it changes, or maybe they didn't test it, I don't know. I didn't get an exact reading as I stopped the test because I felt like I was wasting all my liquid and I know I need to mix some ro water in.
<Yes, this seems reasonable. Try a 50/50 mix and see what you get.>
The test I have, you drop in a drop of the yellow stuff and it turns blue, then you count the drops it takes to change the liquid you yellow/lime. I stopped counting my drops at 21 and it just started to turn a green. Still a very dark blue/green. This means that my carbonate hardness (or alkalinity) over 210 mg/L!!
<Very high carbonate hardness. This is fine for some fish, like livebearers, but less so for others.>
I will buy ro water when I get back from my trip. I will experiment with different ratios of my tap and ro water to get the water parameters that best suit my tigers.
Thanks for everything.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>  
RE: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (Bob, do US grocery stores sell RO water?)
oh, I forgot to mention that I live in Canada. I did check and they do say it's ro water... b
<I tend to skeptical, and I'd encourage you to be likewise. Many people do not know the difference between RO water, mineral water, bottled water, and domestically softened water -- so it's good to be clear. RO water isn't
normally drunk; while it may not actually be harmful, it doesn't taste good and lacks the minerals (particularly calcium and fluoride) that promote good health. RO water will have zero general hardness and zero carbonate
hardness, and should have a pH of 7.0 (though this can vary because it has zero buffering capacity, so even slight impurities can alter the pH).
Cheers, Neale.>

Tiger Barb is getting S shape body!  6/9/09
Hi, Love your website by the way.
<We share>
I have a 29 gal. bowfront with 8 tiger barbs, 2 Chinese algae eaters and a 1 1/2 inch yellow lab (who was suppose to be in that tank only temporarily). water quality is perfect Nitrite 0..Nitrate 0.. Ammonia 0..ph
between 7.4-7.6
I noticed last night one of my smaller tiger barbs started to get a curvy S shape spine. he came to eat but retreats in the back of the tank behind the large leafy decorations. I don't know if there's anything I can do for him/her.
<Mmm, nothing I'm aware of... the "cause" of such spondyloses/curvatures
can be genetic to degrees, infectious... even more remotely, nutritional>
Is it in pain?
<Don't know>
I've seen something similar with a couple platys after giving birth then died weeks later. I hate to lose my barb! They have been doing so well. No stress in the tank at all, everyone seems very happy. I Is there anything I can do?
<Perhaps... Isolation... if the concern is that this might be something catching... Not to further worry you, but you might want to do a search with the term "fish whirling disease">
Thanks for any thoughts on this, I do love my wet pets!
Linda
<Perhaps even consider humanely euthanizing the one animal... See here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
and the linked FAQs file above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tiger Barb is getting S shape body! & BGK comp., sys.   06/09/09
Thank you for your response. I've never heard of whirling disease, I looked it up & read some interesting info. My barb did eat well still this morning and does swim OK. At least not in circles YET, like what it said in the search for whirling. I will isolate him and see what happens for a few days and if he gets worse I will put him down if it has to come to that. Thank you much!
<Welcome>
I do have another question if you don't mind. I have been researching info on keeping Black Ghost Knife fish. What an awesome creature! Before I do buy one I'd like to know if he would be OK in one of my tanks. I have 2 setups that are possibilities..
1- my 90 gal, setup about 3 years. Water chem..nitrate O.. nitrite O.. ammonia O..pH 7.6 Fish in tank- 3 blood parrots 1 Jack Dempsey (oldest fish in tank and as sweet as can be) 1 Raphael cat, mom Kenyi and her 2 babies, (took dad out of tank picking on fish) 2 rainbow sharks, 1 jewel, 1 Severum, 1 l Lg Danio.
<Mmm, not a good setting... the Cichlids are too likely to work the BGK woe>
2- my 55 gal setup about 2 years. Water same as above. Fish in tank - 5 Australian rainbows, 2 diamond tetra, 2 rosy barbs, 2 gold barbs,2 black skirt tetras, 2 clown loaches, 2 queen loaches, 2 Chinese algae eaters 6 coolie loaches ,This one I'm a bit concerned about the coolies to be eaten (looks like worms) unless I house them else where.
<Mmm, not by the BGK, but the larger loaches might well bother an Apteronotid too much here as well>
I do have a total of 9 fish tanks setup.
I do weekly water changes 40-50 %
<Mmm... I would limit this to about 25%... unless you're storing, checking the make-up/exchange water, it's too easy to get into trouble with source water quality variability>
& both these tanks run on Aqua clear 110 filtration. Also have extra filtration systems available if I do need to add one more. Thanks I would appreciate knowing what you think before I buy this fish. I do have a 29
bow front but not setup yet.
Thanks!
<I would eschew the stocking of a S. American Knifefish in these systems.
BobF>
Re: Tiger Barb is getting S shape body!
Thank you, I'd rather know now then be sorry later!
<Ahh, yes... understood, and agreed! B>

Mysterious Egg Bearing Tiger Barb Deaths   7/27/08 I have a 55 gallon barb tank that is mostly stocked with Tiger Barbs, males and females. The stocking is well below capacity. The tank is mature and healthy, ammonia & nitrites=-0-, nitrites 10ppm, pH=7.6, water is soft. <Mmm, how soft? And how softened or is this natural?> Weekly 10% water changes are done and bi-weekly gravel vacuuming. The tank water is crystal clear. <All reads as good> Over the last year I have lost 4 females in the exact same manner. The females become heavy with eggs, eating fine, behaving normally as Tiger Barbs do. They show no signs of distress then I find her dead the next morning and full of eggs. What could be causing this acute problem? Thanks. Mary <Perhaps mostly "genetics", but might I ask what you feed? Are there live plants present, and if so, what type? Bob Fenner>

Tiger Barb Question Hi.  Been checking out your site since we started keeping tropical fish.  Very informative!! <Thank you!> My question; I've had a couple tiger barbs for a couple of months.  It almost looks like there is a very, very light film on them at times. The black bands don't seem as "black" as they used to.  When I looked at them with a flashlight, I could see a green color on the scales in the black bands.  I don't know if that is the normal color or not. <This sounds as if it may be Costia (Ichthyobodo), Please see http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm for more info on the disease and for treatment.> The tank they are in is just about done cycling. They seem to be doing very well otherwise.  Eating, chasing, etc. <This is very good.> Is this a fungus or disease?  Or have I just been staring at the fish too long?!? <Most likely a parasitic disease> Appreciate your help!! Jan Emerson <You're welcome! Ronni>

Sick tiger barbs? Hi. First thanks so much for this website. I have just started to taking care of some tiger barbs and your site has helped ease much of my worries. <Great to hear, thank you for the kind words!> My two 20 gallon tanks have just finished cycling (one took a full month while the other took two weeks) and thankfully, I did not lose any of the barbs. (7 and 6 barbs on each tank, I only found out about the odd number tip last week.)  This past week however, I noticed that in my new tank, two of the tiger barbs looked like their black markings are slightly green. I noticed this in some of the tiger barbs on my first tank as well but now, these greenish stuff are gone without any treatment. In one of the posts here, one of you said that it may be Costia (Ichthyobodo). <Costia/Ichthyobodo/Chilodonella/other 'skin slime disease' causatives really don't fit what you're describing.  That would appear more gray and be visible all over the sides of the fish, not restricted to only where the black is, and it would appear as though the skin were sloughing off.  It sounds to me like normal coloration for tiger barbs, truly.  There is even a green morph of the tiger barb, in which the black bands run together and are quite green instead of black.  I do not believe this is anything for you to worry about.> Because of what happened to the tiger barbs in the first tank, I am thinking of waiting and see if it will disappear especially since the water conditions are much better now, but I am concerned that they might not be feeling too well. I am not sure if it is normal behaviour for two fishes to rub together (looks more like jostling for a ball, or trying to squeeze into a tight door but without the door). <Hmm, this is probably just dominance struggles, trying to establish their pecking order.> My first thought was that one of the fish was feeling itchy, and second thought was one of them (actually, Prince, the most playful one in the 2nd tank) was just trying to play with Spot (one of the "sick" fish) but Spot didn't want to. <This probably isn't a concern, just keep an eye on them, and watch for any other issues.> What do you think I should do? I am afraid of treating Spot and his/her other friend needlessly and subjecting them to stress again. <Agreed.  I would not do anything until you see strong evidence convincing you of a particular illness.  All sounds well so far, just keep observing and enjoying your fish.> I am thinking of getting a hospital tank but I can't seem to find info on what size is ok to use. Due to space constraints, I am thinking of getting the smallest one without being stingy on the comfort of the fish. <Just about anything can be used in a pinch, so long as it is inert and watertight.  If you can swing space for a 10g, great, go for it.> Another...How do you check if the fish are bloated because of overfeeding or if they are sick? I still haven't figured out how much to feed them that I am afraid I may be starving them (I feed them 3x, they seem to eat more though if I give them bloodworms so I am not sure if I am feeding them enough of the pellets). <Oh my.... feeding them three times *daily*?  Well, if they're fat, consider that the reason.  Cut back to once daily.  While you're getting them back down to 'normal' sizes, it would be fine to skip a day here and there.> Lastly, any recommendation on what materials I should be reading? I want to buy some more books but since they can be expensive (and some are not value for money) I'd like to check first before I buy. The aquarium books in the library are checked-out! <Well, a couple of good beginners' books are "Setting Up a Freshwater Aquarium" by Gregory Skomal and "The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" by David E. Boruchowitz.  In the Boruchowitz book, the only thing that I wholeheartedly disagree with are his stocking suggestions in the back of the book; I really, REALLY disagree with some of his suggestions (such as keeping an Oscar in a 29g tank).  Beyond that, these are both decent books.  If you're up for a challenge, you might consider "Tropical Fishlopedia" by Mary Bailey and Peter Burgess; an excellent book, but I don't usually recommend this to children or beginners, it's really quite a lot of info to bombard oneself with when just starting out.> Thanks so much and sorry for the long email. <No apologies necessary, this is why we're here.  Wishing you and your barbs well,  -Sabrina.> Jade

Speckled Tigers I got 4 new tiger barbs a week ago, and 1 hour later 2 Guppies died. Now 2 of the Barbs swim fine if they are darting about, but when they are all together being still, the 2 swim nose down or upside down. Now, I just noticed tiny white specs on their fins (all 4 of them). Ammonia is perfect in tank. Thanks a lot <Your Tiger barbs have Ick. Use salt to cure. Read here on it's proper use to kill Ick. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 Take note of the life cycle and continue treatment for at least two weeks after the last spot drops. The ammonia in your tank is only perfect if at zero. You should be testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Do water changes to keep the first two at zero, nitrate below 20ppm. Read here on establishing bio filtration.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm

Sick albino tiger barb Morning everyone. One of my albino tiger barbs is sick and I'm not sure what is. She can't swim straight anymore. She swims upside down and in circles and it looks like she's wobbling when she swims. <Yikes> Her backend looks really weak as well. She also has what looks like two red sores on either side of her back right under her dorsal fin. She also spends a lot of time laying upside down in one of my plants like she's exhausted. As of yesterday she was still eating. Ant ideas of what it is or is there anything I can do for her? <Maybe trouble with an all dry food diet... likely not a biological disease if your other barbs are not affected... maybe a congenital defect...> I have her in a 35 gallon community tank. I always add aquarium salt when I do a water change. Oh and I do two water changes a month, and the water is kept at 77-78 degrees. There's an Emperor bio-wheel for filtration. The tank has been up and running for two years. Thanks for your help. -Heather <Sounds like a nice system and that you know what you're doing... What do you feed your fishes? I would try some fresh/frozen food, like brine shrimp, Daphnia once a day... perhaps a teaspoon of Epsom Salts per five gallons of water... Bob Fenner> 

All fish out ... Rambling re... cichlid, livestock/human responsibility, old tiger barbs?    10/3/06 Hello,     I had a cichlid that got to <Too> big for my 20 gal, No one told me when I bought it at the pet store how big it was going to get. <... Don't hold yourself in bad faith... The onus is upon you to investigate such matters...> Now I try to do my own research before I buy. <Yay!> I gave him to a place that I thought would attract serious fish keepers, he was up to around 6 inches, (a peacock) <Beautiful animals> and was in that tank a couple of years by himself. He was  in hard water with a ph at or above 8.4. I put 3  young tiger barbs in immediately after  the cichlid was given away , then a  week and a half  later I put three more young tigers in. This tank is at my mothers' house so I was able to check 4 days later and 3 died one from the first group and two from the second. I have a ten gal. up and running so I put them  in this tank. I see one looks to have fin rot on the caudal and anal fin, so I put in Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone in yesterday, all is o.k. so far. My question is, was the pH. to high for them or was the water to hard? <Mmm, not for this species... or shouldn't have been should I state. To some extent depends on the conditions these fish were kept, reared in... but likely had stress et al. issues...> One of those barbs from the first group was a couple year old tiger from that ten gal. that there in now, where he lived in not so hard with lower p. h. <Ahh!> He seemed a little frantic as time went on but his color was good. Over the 2 weeks or so his color is still good but he looks gaunt( if fish can look gaunt). <Oh yes, can> He is the one that has the fins that look ragged. Its not bad yet but his over all appearance is not healthy, and he is not eating well. Another question is the tank that the tigers were in that is now empty and has been for 2 days, are the bacteria in that tank still active or do I need to start from scratch with this tank if I am going to put fish in it again?        <Yes to the bacteria still being there, useful...>                                                                                                                                            Thank you Sherri <...? Maybe the Barbs are/were just "old"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BarbsDaniosRasborasArt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Tiger Barbs and fin recovery    7/20/06 Great web page, we have really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I think you have saved a lot of fish! <Aye, yes> I have a twenty gallon tank with six Tiger Barbs. We started with three Tiger Barbs and added three more after they spent time in the quarantine tank. The three / three idea was courtesy of the LFS. Both tanks have cycled and water tests look good. We added the second three barbs a week ago and last night I noticed one of the Barbs had a damaged tail fin. <Not uncommon... nippy species> He appears well otherwise, so I suspect he was "nipped" by a tank mate. One of the barbs is VERY dominant. <Very common> I quickly moved the injured fish to the quarantine tank. Because the damage doesn't appear to go too far into the fin, will the fin heal? <Likely so, yes> How is the little guy going to fare on his own during recovery? <Should be fine> I hear Tiger barbs don't care to be alone. Should I have removed the aggressive Barb? <Keep observing... you should be able to discern who the culprit is... I would "switch out" the mean one for the nipped one in a few weeks when the latter is healed... And consider adding or removing one to maintain this batch in an odd-numbered school... Much better for dynamics...> (I'm not sure he's the guilty one) Thanks Tom <You will be. Bob Fenner>

Mass Tiger Barb deaths  - 5/5/2006 Hi Crew! <<Greetings, Steve. Tom here.>> Thanks in advance for your wonderful work.  I've been a fan for a long time, and find your site very helpful when Googling for answers.  This time, though, I'm at wit's end and am moved to write. <<Thanks for the kind and encouraging words, Steve. Now, let's see what's going on...>> My setup is a freshwater 72 gallon bow.  Tank is planted with hornwort and has a gravel substrate.  Two AquaClear 50 (the new designation; not the old) filters, two four-foot daylight fluorescents, one three-foot actinic, and one-three foot daylight fluorescent; all lights on timers. A few natural rocks.  Tank is kept at 77 to 78 degrees.  14 percent water changes are performed every ten days using tap water and chorine/chloramine remover/conditioner.  Water quality has always been consistent since cycling:  Ammonia = Zero, Nitrites = Zero, Nitrates <5, pH = 7.6.  Aquarium salt is added occasionally, but never enough to register more than a flicker on my specific gravity tester, which has as it's lowest reading 1.010 (the needle rests at what would be 1.008).  I also have an adjustable aerator which comes on when the lights go off. I keep it at a very low setting. <<Good filtration (I'm a fan of these filters), conditions exceptional, good-sized tank. All seems very good, so far.>> The current population consists of 9 diamond tetras, 11 cardinal tetras, 4 bloodfin tetras, 3 red velvet swordtails, 3 Siamese algae eaters (definitely not Chinese), one silver molly, one black Sailfin molly, one Otocinclus, and, until yesterday, 7 tiger barbs.  All fish were added over an initial 2 or 3 month period after cycling, with the exception of the diamonds which were used after the first week of cycling (no losses ever with them). <<I confess to being a proponent of fishless cycling but, no harm here. Definitely no over-stocking issues.>> I keep a running log of absolutely everything that happens to the tank; whether changing water, cleaning a filter, or scrubbing algae.  And the tank finished cycling 8 months ago. <<Love this; an excellent practice!>> Losses over that 8 month period have been occasional. Two cardinals at widely separated intervals (one died about a week after coming home from the LFS, and the other died about 6 weeks ago colorless and bloated), three bloodfins also at widely separated intervals (two were obviously weak sisters from the LFS, another died within a month after coming home and had a deep internal whiteness to the flesh just behind the dorsal; thought perhaps it might be tetra disease, but no problems since), and one swordtail which was lost about a week after she gave birth five weeks ago (she had developed an internal lump on one side about where an ovary or womb would be and was extremely lethargic after delivering fry until her death). <<These occurrences go, sadly, with the territory - hopefully minimally, though.>> The swordtails seem to require more brackish water than I'm willing to keep.  Every two months or so, they develop a very thin whitish film (not grainy at all) and will flash a bit, and I transfer them to a quarantine tank where I slowly add salt to a brackish level.  They remain there for a day or two or three, perk right up, film gone, whereupon I do one partial water change before putting them back in the tank. <<Interesting treatment of the Swordtails. I would typically expect the need for higher salinity levels with Mollies rather than Swordtails or Platys. (The three are so closely associated I sometimes start thinking of them as one fish with different names.) :)>> I feed flake three times a day; about as much as can be consumed in a minute.  Every other day I substitute thawed bloodworms for one of the flake feedings.  So, I see these fish quite often (I work at home). <<Again, good feeding practice.>> Getting to the point:  Yesterday afternoon I found that four of the tigers had died.  No obvious signs of distress or disease.  At that time, I noticed that one of the others was breathing very rapidly and pointing up (normally they point down when resting or displaying).  The other two were fine, chasing each other normally.  I bagged the four dead ones (two males, two females) and refrigerated for later transport to the LFS.  By the time I was ready to leave, the distressed one had passed, and I bagged him too. <<I'm sorry and, amazed, to hear this.>> A note on the LFS:  This is a large aquarium store which distributes fish to some of the chain stores in the area.  Fish and aquarium supplies only; no other pets.  The personnel there have always been a knowledgeable group. <<Okay.>> I took the fish and a bottle of water for testing.  Their test kits are no better than mine (I use chemical-type tests), and their results matched mine.  No answers there.  He noted that my tigers were a bit fat, but not too much.  In counter-point I mentioned that the tigers know no limits when competing with the other fish for food, which is why I feed the way I do.  He suggested also that I do more frequent water changes for the time being, with which I concurred.  By the time I got home, another tiger had died.  This was about three hours since the one before; three hours which go from no symptoms to death. <<In your case, the more-frequent water changes would be placebo-like in nature. Not bad advice, at all, and frequently recommended by me/us. However, I still don't see a "connection" here.>> The only change I've made to the normal tank routine of the past several months is one which coincides with the death of the fish.  I added a second aerator the night before all these fish died, mostly for the attached night light.  It's an Ario 4.  Like the first aerator, I keep this one on the lowest power setting.  I mentioned that to the LFS guy, and, while we're both thinking that it's in the realm of possibility that the new device is leaching something into the water, it's highly unlikely. <<Agreed.>> So, I did a partial water change last night, and rinsed the new light/aerator and sponge thoroughly and put it back in the tank.  This morning the final tiger was symptomatic and then died a short time later. Up until this point, all the other fish have been fine.  As I started writing this, I went to check again.  One of the cardinals has died.  No symptoms, and his color was still vivid, which is unusual in a dying cardinal. <<Agreed once more.>> To sum up, I don't want to lead me or you down any paths, but for all the tigers to have died in 24 hours with no other fish affected seems unusual in the extreme, especially since tigers are not an animal given to delicacy when compared to some of the others I have.  That one of the cardinals has died just outside that 24 hour envelope may be construed as related, but inconclusive given their more delicate nature. I put all this to you.   <<Steve, you don't mention whether, or not, any of your fish were quarantined (two weeks minimum) prior to being introduced into the display tank. Frankly, while I would highly recommend this, to the point of being a "given", I don't believe your Tigers necessarily came from the distributor sick. Certainly not sick enough to die in such a short period of time without any symptoms. Something going on in your tank killed these fish and the only thing that "jumps out" at me is stray electrical voltage from the new night light/aerator. Am I doing some "grasping" here. Oh, yes! But, the coincidence of adding the new equipment with the sudden death of these animals is pretty compelling. If your power source isn't on a "ground fault interrupter" (GFI) circuit, please rectify this immediately. At the minimum, there are "plug-in" GFI's available at Home Depot, Lowe's, et. al., that can be plugged into your electrical outlet. (These resemble plug-in surge suppressors.) As to why the Barbs were the only fish affected (except for, potentially, your Cardinal) under my hypothesis, I can't, honestly, give you a good answer. Stress from being handled/moved leading to susceptibility, perhaps? Relative size? Does the aquarium salt without acclimation play a factor? Unknowns, unfortunately.>> Thanks again for your time. Steve in Ohio. <<Wish I had a "silver bullet" answer for you, Steve. Tom>>

Green Tiger Barbs - at a loss...   3/16/06 Bob, <Ralph> I've a 90 gallon that I recently switched back to freshwater.  Original intent was to have mostly cichlids, again.  Only real aggressive fish was to be a Green Terror ( my last was essentially a peacekeeper who bothered no one except feeders though he got to be 10"). <Yikes!> Looking at some other sites I found a couple decent compatibility lists and have also ended up with some barbs as well. <Easygoing ones/species I trust> The only problem I keep having is the loss of green tiger barbs.  I've lost seven from three different batches from the same LFS. <Mmm, know that these are sometimes "wanky" from dealers... are raised in the Far East, often "hormone treated" to boost color... That this degrades their health otherwise... often lost on/near arrival anomalously...> I've currently 3 more from another store - one has nipped fins and is acting a little odd.  As for the goners- two for sure had nipped fins especially dorsal tail.  The last two had upper fins that looked like they were flaying/separating - like a feather and for a week or so I would catch the one upside down as if dead until another fish would come near!  No signs of any Ick, Fungus, rot or anything else apparently wrong. I am at a loss as to what is going on- the goners were the largest of the Barbs..  I've two Albino Tiger Barbs, four Tiger barbs, <And these are the same species... mixable> two rosy, one gold and four longer (tigerish) barbs.  They have been doing great and most have been in the tank since the beginning (@3 months).  Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates are great.  Ph and Temp acceptable for all. I've also two Giant Danios, one Plecostomus, one Green Terror, one Jewel Cichlid, a pair of Rainbow Cichlids, one small Firemouth, a Cat, and a couple 1/2-3/4" Africans. ( .99 cent sale). <Mmm, well, the cichlids might be working the new Green Barbs woe...> They are feed a variety of dried, pellet, flake, frozen and live food.  Today I bought more live Brine shrimp and some feeder guppies.  The largest fish are one of the Danios and the Rainbows 3" - 3 1/2". Other than feeder guppies I've lost no fish other than the aforementioned Green Tiger Barbs. Plenty of caves, plants and wood for hiding. Thanks for your time. Ralph L Thieleman <I encourage you to "harden" a new batch of these barbs... buy, place them in another tank, moving water from your ninety for water changes... for a few to several weeks. When transferring to your main tank, do move about the decor items there (to disrupt territories, impose a new dynamic)... If there is "psychological" as well as metabolic room for them all, this should do it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Green Tiger Barbs - at a loss...      3/17/06 Bob, <Ralph> Thanks for the reply. <Welcome> I still don't understand why only the green ones.  I had them First, in-between and now last.  I see no one harassing them.  With the first ones I did see them bothering each other.  I see the longer Barbs "playing" and chasing each other as well as cichlids chasing other cichlids. <I do believe these "green" sports are less hardy than their brethren period...> I again have a green that since his lower tail looks chewed has become more solitary the past week but I've another green now that his top fin looks likes  it is fraying like some others had. One of them looked like he was sideways at the top last weekend as well.  Why only the greens? <Genetics? Poorer care in Singapore where they very likely originated?> Some cichlids have had their tails chewed on by other cichlids.  One even lost an eye.  No deaths.  Just Green Tiger Barbs.  And again I see no signs of them getting picked on even by each other, especially with these last three. <Perhaps the green ones are more "attractive" to whoever may be harassing them (likely the Terror, at night)... This is a common phenomenon (differential mortality/predation based on color, markings... a fave thesis project some years back)> If I lose these I'll most likely give up on that variation. Thanks again, Ralph L Thieleman <I don't blame you... There are other species of barbs... though your system is over-stocked psychologically now... Bob Fenner>

Tiger Barbs And Exophthalmia - 11/15/2005 Hey guys, <And gals - Sabrina with you today.> I have a question about what seems to be an eye infection in one of my tiger barbs. <Alright.> I have a lightly stocked 72 gallon planted community tank. My parameters are all good, pH 6.8-7, nitrites, ammonia all 0. <Great. Nitrate?> Recently one of tiger barbs developed a cloudy, popped out eye. Only one eye developed this. I've had them for a couple of years with no problems, and as no other fish, tigers or others, displayed this, I decided to watch and see if it was a sign of natural age related disease. <It actually may be injury-related.> I do weekly or biweekly water changes and since my parameters are fine I do not think it is a water quality issue. <Check those nitrate readings. This can impact exophthalmia/pop-eye.> If it was, then other fish would display signs of stress as well most likely. I just noticed that the barb died and a second one developed the same popped out, clouded eye (though it isn't as developed yet). Otherwise it also seems fine, as do all of the other fish. Does anyone have experience with this? How would I definitely diagnose and treat it? <I would first suspect injury, here.... Fish have a natural tendency to bite at eyes. Tiger barbs are nippy animals. Try watching them for a bit and see if you see any aggressive behaviour among them, or if perhaps one fish specifically is causing the others extraordinary amounts of stress.> All help is appreciated. At this point I wouldn't bother quarantining because if it has been transmitted than most likely it is in the water already, unless the treatments would kill the plants.  <Mm, better to pull the affected fish.... Even if it is a bacterial infection of some sort, it may not have transmitted to other fish as yet. Furthermore, if the animal HAS been injured, it will give it time to recover.> Thanks, -Eric <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Tiger Barbs And Exophthalmia - II - 11/16/2005 Thanks for the advice. I will watch and see if there is an overly aggressive behavior. <Excellent.> I haven't tested for nitrates because all of the test kits I have only include nitrite tests so I was under the impression that I can only infer my nitrates from my nitrites. <The two are actually quite different. One can be quite low, the other quite high.... do please try to find a test kit for nitrate and check on it.> Eric <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Sudden Unexplained Barb Death - 11/06/2005 Hi Whoever, <Sabrina, today.> I was wondering if anyone here could provide some thoughts on what we experienced today. Tonight after feeding with a standard commercial food, that we have been using for a couple of months, one of our Tiger Barbs immediately started to look pretty bad and stopped swimming. Within 5 minutes it was dead.  We checked the body but there were no obvious signs of any damage or bloating. We guessed it may have injured itself while feeding, although we don't know how.  <Any chances some sort of toxin or contaminant got into the food? Had you been handling anything highly toxic prior to feeding them?> Prior to this all had seemed well and through the day no problems were observed. We have/had 7 barbs in a planted community tank with Cardinal tetras, Harlequin Rasboras and 2 Flying Foxes so the barbs are mainly the dominate inhabitants. Ammonia is nil and Nitrates at 15ppm (No test kit for Nitrites).  <As nitrite is highly toxic, I recommend you think about getting a kit to test it.> So not much to go on I know and not much we can do now but.... <True.... just enough to grasp at straws. It does sound as if it could have been injury-related, or perhaps from some sort of toxin, but again, there's just not enough evidence for anything specific.> Thanks for your thoughts. <Very sorry for your loss, -Sabrina>

Barb, odd growth  9/5/05 One of our tiger barbs has developed an odd, pink growth over one of his eyes.  It's difficult to get a good look at, because he's still behaving normally (i.e., never sitting still) but from symptoms I've read it doesn't sound like it's pop eye, because it's not the eye itself but a growth above the eye that is sticking out.  In addition, the scales midway down his length on the same side as the growth appear to be developing a sore or irritated patch.  Any thoughts?  By the way, you guys are the best, you've helped us out a bunch in the past. Greg and Debbie. <Likely resultant from a physical injury... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BDRDisFAQs.htm Bob Fenner>

Ill Tiger Barb - 08/26/2005 My name is Mark.   <Hi Mark, Sabrina with you today.> I got your name off of a Tiger Barb website I came across.  One of my barbs is sick and has a white stomach and is swimming in circles.  What can I do to help it?   <Mm, too vague a description.> I read iodized salt??? but how much if that is true?  Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Do a search on "whirling disease" and "Myxobolus"....  Be testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and keep ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, and nitrate less than 20ppm....  Beyond that, there is not enough information here to go off.> Thanks,  Mark <Wishing you and your barb well,  -Sabrina>

Hello, hello, my Tiger Barbs are going oh!    11/27/06 Dear fish experts please help,    <Will try>   I tried to take pics of my poor poor tiger barbs...but none turned out well enough to bother. My tank is a 40 gallon, I have to <two?> very old golden Gouramis and 2 old silver dollars and two new ones, a Plecostomus, and I had 6 tiger barbs, Im down to 4...   Im new at the whole aquarium thing I didn't know about water changes, I wished I had done more research.. <How about now?> anyhow my tiger barbs were great happy and brought so much life to my tank. after having them for 3 days I wake up to see 2 of them with their mouths and little faces all red and puffy and swollen. No white fuzz or any fin or body problems. but their mouths in very bad shape over night!   so I ran immediately to the pet store and told them my fishes faces looked terrible like they were falling off, they the women told me to put malefix <... Melafix? The Melaleuca "tea" leaf extract product from AP> in the tank and this would fix them up <No> and to do a water change before and after 25%. <Good idea> I did this 3 days go by. None of them die and they are still trying very hard to eat and seem pretty active, but no change and I notice now 4 have this. so I call a couple pet stores ask when this will start to improve tell them the situation, and they say a week or two, and read the same thing on line. (though I still keep hearing that they should have some white fuzz on them, and they must have been fighting - which neither is the case), anyhow I get worried and they look so horrid, that I risk the worst one to stress and take him and some water into the pet store to test it and look at him.   I have one guy look at my poor fave fish and make a disgusted face and get the other guy. He says to add Maracyn 2 <Better "shot in the dark" here> to the tank and keep doing the MelaFix (that all the melafiz was doing is keeping it from spreading to other fish)... <Not even this> he didn't tell me what my fish had and I had to chase him to ask questions...   so disappointed and 25$ later I get my fish home and they didn't do a water test he said there was no point and it happened because I didn't do a water change soon enough...which he was so condescending I wanted to cry I feel bad enough...   well I get home return the very ill fish and add the 8 tabs of Maracyn like the guy said, and an hour later my fish died. I knew the stress may get him... <Yes>   but then within the next 2 hours another one died, and now I have another Im sure will be dead soon.   Im sorry, but my question is, what do I do to try and save my poor 4 remaining tiger barbs, and what the heck is this and what can I do to save them, Im so at a loss! I don't want this to happen ever again to any fish I get (which will be a long time).   please any info, thx so much, I hope you return my email, I need answers. Tammy <Well... let's start somewhere toward a beginning here Tam... You need to know, supply information re your water quality... pH, ammonia and more are really the likely root cause of your problem here. Please take the time to read on WWM re... starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

White spots and Tiger Barbs  - 03/02/07 Hi, <Hello> I am very confused. <Hopefully we can help with that.> I don't know what is wrong with my tank. I have a 30 gallon freshwater tank. My particular concern is with the tank itself. There are white, salt-like dots on the inside of the tank. When you run your fingers on the tank walls, they feel bumpy and come off fairly easily. I also think they are on the live plants I have. They do not seem to be getting worse, but I don't know what to do. The pH is 7.0, temp is 79-80 (I have airstones), ammonia, nitrates and nitrites are all negative and I have verified this with two different test kits. I cannot attach a picture because any pictures I have tried to take, you cannot see the dots. <Wondering if it might be calcium precipitate?  Do you have very hard water?  Are they hard to the touch or squishy?> Also, I have three tiger barbs, and I think one of them is bullying the other two, to the point of extreme stress. <Not atypical for this species.>  One of the tiger barbs is changing colors and not due to the light. <Stress coloring.> One second he is his usual darker color and the next second he is very very light. This color change happens so quickly and is constant. I have also noticed he sometimes hides in a corner with his head pointed down. <Hiding from the aggressor.>  I do not know if this is a symptom of bulling or not. <Yes unfortunately.> He seems to be eating fairly well, however he does not like to come out from his corner a lot.  <As long as he is still eating there is hope.> He has never been incredibly social, but he is becoming more and more withdrawn. <The weakest of the trio, lowest in the pecking order.> He is also breathing very fast. I have not noticed anything on him, such as cuts, parasites, etc. Should I remove the other fish from the group or is he sick?  <Well stress often allows illness to take hold, but without more symptoms I would guess he is just getting picked on.  Might want to remove the Alpha fish for a couple weeks if possible, give the weaker ones a chance to fatten up and establish themselves.  Depending on other stock might want to add a few more so one does not get all the attention, best if kept in odd numbers, so add 2 or 4 more.  Watch the weak one closely for signs of disease and be prepared to separate if necessary.> Thanks for your help. Sara <Chris>

Tiger Barbs Dying   2/22/07 Hi, <Jasmine> This is the first time I have ever written anyone about anything, but here goes.  I have a 29 gallon community tank which originally consisted of: 1 paradise fish, 1 rosy barb, 1 gold barb, 1 cherry barb, <Mmm, a comment as we go along... these barbs are better kept in small groups... are social animals> 1 Australian rainbowfish, <Ditto> 1 gold Gourami, 1 red-tail Botia, 1 rainbow shark, 1 Pleco, & 1 freshwater snail. <Very surprised to find the Botia hasn't killed this snail>   This tank has been set up for 3 months now with no problems whatsoever.    2 days ago, I decided that I wanted to "spice" up my tank with some tiger barbs.  I went to PetSmart and bought 2 tiger barbs, 1 green tiger barb, & 1 albino tiger barb. <And this species best kept in small, odd-numbers... three, five... to "keep each other busy"> I know that I shouldn't have, but I introduced them to my community.  (I'm sort of new at this and now know that I should have quarantined them for at least 2 weeks)  The fish seemed happy and healthy with no signs of problems.    The next morning, one of the tiger barbs was swimming on its side in circles and breathing rapidly.  I removed him from the tank, but needless to say, the tiger barb died.  I checked my water levels and everything seemed fine, even added some fish-pen <? don't know what this is> just in case.  The other tigers seemed to be fine.  I had my husband take the dead tiger barb back to the store and exchange him for another one.  We brought him home and introduced him to the community.  Again, there seemed to be no problems.   This morning, my albino tiger barb was exhibiting the same sort of actions.  Swimming on it's side in circles, all over the tank, very erratically.  I removed him from the tank, but needless to say, the albino now has died.  The other 3 tiger barbs seem fine, but I am worried that maybe this is a parasite? <Maybe>   I am also worried that it could be spread all over my tank and I may lose other fish as well.  I don't know what to do.  I don't think this originated in my tank, because all my other fish seem healthy.  Please help?!?!  Again, neither of the 2 fish that I've lost have exhibited any sign of illness prior. I do weekly 30% water changes and add 1 tablespoon aquarium salt per 5 gallons and as I said, I checked my water levels, and they are fine. Thanks in advance, Jasmine   <Well... it may be that these new barbs really just died due to "stress"... most are raised, shipped from the Far East... hormone-treated... Though sometimes they are parasitized... most notably with Octomita/Hexamita (which you can search)... At this junction I would do nothing to guess, treat the system... but as you state, I would be careful re quarantining new livestock going forward. Bob Fenner>

Tiger barb sick or just stressed?   1/7/07 Crew: <Karen> I have searched the internet and your website for a solution to my current problem but haven't come across much good information about tiger barbs.   <A neat species... many beautiful "sports" nowadays> I have 46 gallon moderately planted bowfront dedicated to tiger barbs.  It's been up and running for a couple months now with 9 barbs (3 tiger, 3 albino, and 3 green).  The tank parameters as of yesterday were ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 10.   All the fish have been active until recently one of the tiger barbs has been hanging out in a top corner of the aquarium.  It is probably the smallest of the 9 barbs in the tank.  It just doesn't seem to be thriving very well.   <Mmm, and should do fine here... enough space, good water quality...> I try to watch at feeding time to see if it is eating.  It will ignore feeding time at first then start to seem interested.  It swims over to the food with the others but as soon as another barb comes along it hurries back to it's corner.  On the occasion it gets to some food, it just spits it back out.  It will try this a few times then just give up and hide in it's corner.  I have been observing the feeding behavior for the past few days.  The hiding in the corner behavior has been going on for 1-2 weeks.   <Likely a social/psychological component at play here... the one may be a smaller male, with other males badgering it a bit> I wondered if it was just a stress/getting picked on situation as there is one albino barb that seems to be the dominant one chasing the others around the tank. <Mmm, yes, possibly>   I have had more barbs in quarantine waiting to go into the tank, so yesterday I added 4 of those to try to divert the dominant one's attention and give the "runt" a chance.   <Good idea> Last night I removed the ailing or stressed barb to a divided portion of the quarantine tank (the fish are disease free, just waiting to be added slowly to the main tank) to give it a chance to rest and get food without competition.   <Also good> Do you suggest I just wait and see if it starts eating or could there be some sickness going on? <I would do the former, not worry re the latter... Next trial, I'd move the alpha fish... to the quarantine for a week or two> The only reason I would think it might have some kind of infection is the taking food in and spitting it back out behavior.  All the other barbs it's been living with seem to be fine. <With this much time having gone by (since setting up, stocking) there is very little chance of this being an expression of infectious or parasitic disease. Could be genetic, developmental...> I do have medicated food I could offer it but since it's not really eating currently I don't see how that will help.  I have other medications but I don't want to go dumping them in when I'm not even sure if it is sick or not.  Any suggestions you may have on what course of action I should take would be appreciated. Thanks! Karen <I would do as you have thus far... Do you have a bit of greenery present for multiple purposes? Food, making cover, improving water quality? I suggest adding a "bunch" (un-tied) of a grass type plant... my pick would be Elodea/Anacharis. Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/elodea.htm Bob Fenner> Re: Tiger barb sick or just stressed?   1/8/07 I ended up adding the barb back to the main tank as it didn't seem to be interested in eating anything while in quarantine and I like to think conditions are more favorable environmentally in the main tank.   <Yes, likely so> There are plants available in the tank for them to browse on. <Good>   I specifically added some Anacharis to the quarantine tank, but still no interest. <Mmm, takes time... days to weeks for fishes to "settle in" to being moved> I'm thinking I will just let it be in the main tank and see what happens. It's rather emaciated it seems at this point so I'm not sure this will end up a success story. <Mmm... do want to mention another possibility... that the wasting mentioned might be due to (Myco) bacteria or a protozoan... the last very common with freshwater cultured fishes from the Far East (where these Barbs very likely originated... can be treated with Metronidazole/Flagyl...)... Do keep your attention on the other fish for such sign... and be aware of treatment probabilities> I guess I will just hope he turns around soon unless you have other suggestions? <Mmm, none at this point>   I haven't tried eliminating the dominant one as there hasn't been much behavior like that going on since new barbs were added, so I wouldn't be able to guess right now at which one has been dominating.  If I happen to notice a specific one I will see about taking it out of the tank. Thanks for your help! Karen <And you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tiger barb sick or just stressed?  1/9/07 Thanks for your response.  I haven't done anything further with the barb, he was still hanging on this morning, but seemed to be resting among some exposed sword roots.  I currently don't see him, will have to do some searching around but I fear I know his fate.  One thing I do want to mention is that I have a couple other smaller barbs that aren't thriving all that well either in the same tank. <A bad sign...> I also have a couple that seem to have recurrent swim bladder problems.  They swim alright but once they stop they tend to "head stand". <Can be genetic, or developmental/damage at play here> I have taken to giving them sinking granules or soaking flake food for a bit before feeding as I read that it's possible they just ingest too much air at feeding time since they are voracious eaters. <Yes... this and/or gasification of solid foods internally> However, even with the treatment to food they seem to continue having this problem.  That being said, I wonder if there is some kind of bacterial infection going on that's affecting the smaller barbs perhaps? <Is a possibility, yes> Would you recommend treating the entire tank with something such as you suggested?  I would hate to lose more barbs just from a failure to take action.  Thanks for your continued help. Karen <Is a "tough one" to gauge from here... all such treatments have their real and potential downsides, but I would investigate the use of a compound (anti-parasitic and anti-microbial) "laced" dried food... O.S.I. and Tetra used to make these... You can search WWM, the Net in general re... Bob Fenner>

Tiger Barbs 4/3/07 I have 4 tiger barbs, they seem to be pretty healthy but sometimes one of them swims nose down & stays like that for sometime by the driftwood. Is that normal for tiger barbs to do that? <This behavior is often in response to poor water conditions, especially high levels of nitrate.  Please check your water parameters.> <Chris>

Sick fish, Tiger Barbs    5/25/07 Hi there, <Devin> Well, I've looked around and have conflicted information <Heeee!> so I thought I'd write you before it gets too far along.  I think I have some sick tiger barbs.  I have 6 of them in a cycled 29 gallon tank.  Parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10 nitrates.  One of the tiger barbs has stopped eating 3 days ago, looks like he is gulping for air, and swims in the same place all day.  The other fish still eat and swim normally, although I just saw another barb excrete a more clear/stringy feces than I have previously seen.  Other than that, they look healthy and colorful.  Now I have read several things that it's probably an intestinal infection of some sort but I don't know how to treat it. <Mmm, I do... I would offer a mix of an anti-protozoal and anthelminthic... The first I'd look for Metronidazole/Flagyl, the second, likely Prazi(quantel)... though other materia medica might be employed... These can be applied as food additives, or pre-made foods with them incorporated... best, or added to the water... Their use is covered on WWM> I don't have a QT (I know, I know, I just can't afford an extra filter, heater etc.).  So what do you think is wrong and what medication should I use? <Likely Octomita...>   I need a medication that won't wipe on my established bacteria in my tank. Much thanks in advance, Devin <Agreed and welcome. Bob Fenner>

Tiger barbs hlth. 05/05/07 Hello. <Hello!> I found you website very informative and thought I would throw out a question for you. <Okeley dokeley.> I currently have a 29 gal. aquarium that is stocked with 3 tetras, 3 tiger barbs, 4 speckled mollies, a large Pleco, a small Chinese algae eater and a bumblebee catfish. <Too many fish for such a small tank, and many incompatible with each other for water chemistry and behavioral reasons. Please research fish *before* buying them.> My question is pertaining to my tiger barbs. I had three tiger barbs for approximately 2 years,  and about 6 months ago I noticed that they began developing facial deformities, mostly to the mouth. One of them had a jaw that appeared to grow swollen over a period of weeks until he could no longer eat. They have since died. <Mouth fungus more than likely. Very common when fish are kept in overcrowded aquaria or tanks with poor water quality.> About 4 months ago I purchased 3 baby tiger barbs. They were all healthy when purchased and were purchased from a reputable fish dealer. One died in the past few weeks, and I noticed today that the other two also have some sort of jaw problem. The one appears to have lost the tip of his upper lip, and the second one appears like his jaw is swollen. They both continue to eat well, as did the other before they died (until the mouth was to closed up to allow food in). <If you can't explain why a species fails to survive in your aquarium, it is pretty foolish to go buy some more specimens of that species. Identify the cause, fix the problem, *then* go buy some more.> Now that I think of it, I did have a zebra Danio that had a tumor growing in his abdomen until he died, and I also had a molly that was quite healthy for over a year before growing small tumor like lumps to her face and dying. <Far too many sick, dead fish. Tiger barbs should be living around 4 years, Danios about the same.> I do basic water tests and everything seems to come out within normal ranges. <What's the "normal range" in your opinion? There is no normal range for ammonia or nitrite for example -- these should be zero, period, end of story. For your fishes, the pH should be around 7.2-7.5, given you have mollies that despise acidic water conditions. I'd also want "moderately hard" water using whatever scale you are measuring hardness by. Frankly, the mollies shouldn't be in this tank because they do best in brackish water, and the Plec and Chinese algae eater certainly shouldn't, the first because it is far too large (30-45 cm) and the second because it is both large (30 cm) and nasty-tempered.> Do I just seem to be having bad luck with fish and tumors/deformities? <Not bad luck. Bad fishkeeping. Please read some more about the hobby before killing any more fishes.> Or do you think there could be something in the water that is actually causing this? <Yes, two things are in the water: [a] pollution of some type and [b] too many fishes.> Are tiger barbs predisposed to anything? <Nope.> As all mine seem to be affected. I would love to hear your opinion on this!! <You have it. Now, before going forward, measure the nitrite, ammonia, pH and hardness, and then get back to us. What type of filter are you using? What is its turnover? Baseline, you need a filter offering turnover of around 4x the volume of the tank per hour, so the filter should be 120 gallons per hour in your case.> Thanks so much. <No problems.> Julie Rutt <Cheers, Neale>

Tiger Barb Mortality Rate 11/5/07 Dear WetWebMedia, <Hello,> I have a rather perplexing issue. I recently had a spare 55g setup that was cycled and in good shape. Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrates all 0, pH = 7.6, GH = 160 ppm, KH = 100 ppm (hard water). I also have a cycled 10g QT tank of the same water chemistry. Also, I do keep aquarium salt in all my tanks at the recommended dose. <Hmm... no recommended dose of salt in my fishkeeping world. Salt is simply not required in a freshwater aquarium in this modern age of proper filters and regular water changes. The main job of salt these days is to make money for the salt manufacturers and the retailers.> All of the fish mentioned below are juveniles, about 1 inch long. I decided I wanted a barb tank so I started with 4 Black Rubies. Two weeks in the QT, all survived and into the 55g. Next came 5 Rosy barbs, same procedure, 2 week in QT then into the 55g. Here comes the problem. <OK.> I placed 6 Tiger barbs in the QT tank. By the time the 2 weeks were up only 3 were left. The three that died started breathing heavily, then hiding, then floating, then dead. I have not seen this type of death in anything other than Neon Tetras which I don't keep anymore as they are not compatible with my water chemistry. The 3 that survived went into the 55g and are happy and healthy, but being Tiger Barbs 3 are not enough. <Very odd.> I went to a different fish store and got 6 more Tiger Barbs, only 2 survived of this lot. Is there something about Tiger Barbs and my water chemistry? <Sounds unlikely. Tiger Barbs are tolerant across a range of water chemistry values. They should be fine in your tank. How much salt do you add? Taking fish from a retailer's tank without salt and sticking them in a tank with salty water could be problematic. But to be honest unless you're adding masses of salt (more than, say, 9 grammes per litre) than it's hard to imagine this would a cause of death.> Since they are so closely related to the Black Rubies one would think they would have a similar mortality rate. <Agreed. They are basically identical in terms of needs.> I am currently on hold with the mass executions of Tiger Barbs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <Do you do any gardening? Sometimes a species of plant just doesn't take no matter what. I think fish can sometimes work like that too. A combination of factors makes them unsuitable for your aquaria: water chemistry, diet, water change regimen, tankmates, etc. For me, that species is Neon Tetras; no matter what, they never last. So I don't bother with them. So my advice is skip the Tiger Barbs and try something like Puntius pentazona instead.> Regards, Larry <Good luck, Neale>

Re: Tiger Barb Mortality Rate 11/8/07 Dear Dr. Neale Thank you for the prompt reply, I will follow your advise and change barb directions. I would like to continue the discussion of salt in freshwater aquariums. I think many of your readers would like to understand this. There is a controversy on the internet about this subject. I want to do what is best for my pets and if salt is unnecessary of harmful I don't want to use it. Please help us understand this Regards, Larry <Hi Larry. The issue with salt is essentially that freshwater fish have evolved in environments where salt isn't present in the water. So from that perspective at least, you don't need it in a freshwater tank. Having said this, salt has its purposes. It's useful when transporting fish because it reduces the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate, and that's why fish shippers and retailers often use it. Salt can be used to kill whitespot. By elevating the mineral content of the water salt may reduces the osmotic pressure on the fish in a useful way when they're sick or stressed. On the other hand, a stable aquarium shouldn't have a nitrite or nitrate problem. If your fish aren't sick, then they don't need salt as a treatment. In some cases, even low salt concentrations seem to be factors behind ill health in the long term: Malawi Bloat, a serious problem with cichlids, seems to be connected (in part) to salt. Salt was very widely used decades ago largely because the fish kept were hardy but the water quality often very poor (filters were less efficient, and water changes of 25% per month were considered adequate). So, the salt detoxified the nitrite and nitrate (which was good) and the stress on the fish's osmoregulation system caused by using salt (which was bad) was in effect the lesser of two evils. Nowadays we keep a wider selection of fish, many of which, like Mbuna and tetras, are intolerant of salt. Better water quality largely renders the benefits of adding salt irrelevant. At best, it's a waste of money; at worst, it's a stress factor on delicate fish. My position is basically this: unless you're using salt for a specific purpose (and you understand that purpose and why salt helps) then don't use salt. It's a lot like activated carbon -- a hangover from the old days of the hobby rendered obsolete but still widely sold. If I could, I'd make salt and carbon prescription-only drugs to keep them away from less experienced hobbyists! Hope this helps, Neale>

Tiger barb [and African butterfly fish] deaths :(   12/31/07 Hey there, I recently stumbled across your website in a desperate bid for reasons for tropical fish demise, and finding it both informative and relatively easy to follow, I thought I could risk a question or two. <Go ahead...> Our family are fairly new to fish ownership; my younger brother has had tropical fish since September. He had three green tiger barbs, one tiger barb, and then about a week later he got two African butterfly fish and two Dalmatian mollies. <A terrible combination of fish on so many levels. Tiger barbs are schooling fish that MUST be kept in groups of six upwards. They are also notorious fin-nippers, and will nip at Butterflyfish. Butterflyfish are demanding animals not for beginners because they are quite tricky to feed. They need mature aquaria with excellent water quality and ideally soft/acid conditions. Mollies, on the other hand, need hard and alkaline water, preferably with salt added. Butterflies and barbs do not like salt, so they can't be kept together. Mollies are really fish for brackish water aquaria unless you are an expert fishkeeper able to create alkaline, basic water with zero nitrate on a constant basis. Please buy and read an aquarium book before shopping.> For the first month or two the fish were absolutely fine. Then one of the African butterfly fish showed strange behaviour, swimming upside down, floating to the surface of the water and appearing to lack control of its movement. It died shortly afterwards [within a day or two.] <Most likely water quality/chemistry issues. Test nitrite and pH. In a new tank, you should be doing this every couple of days anyway.> Approximately a couple of weeks went by. A lot more recently our biggest green barb showed similar behaviour - swimming sideways and upside down - and then also died within a few days of this new behaviour. <Ditto.> Having noticed this similarity in their behaviour patterns before their deaths, and upset to have lost another fish, we began to investigate as to why they were dying. This is when I came across your site. <Hmm...> I am sad to say today [30 Dec] two more barbs have passed away - the tiger barb and another green barb. The last green barb is currently still alive but judging by the rate of passing we're not sure how long this will be the case. <OK, this is almost certainly water quality problems. Have you cycled the tank before adding fish? How big is the tank? What sort of filter are you using? What books did you read before starting the hobby?> We wondered at first whether it was an aeration problem - we had a filter already of course which functions fine, but just to be safe we bought an aerator separately which is now also functioning in the tank. <Aeration is a trivial issue in most tanks, and a properly run aquarium doesn't need any aeration. But filtration is something else: what is the nitrite level in this tank?> There are fresh, live plants and the temperature is about 25'C [which we understand to be a suitable temperature.] The ph is 7 and we wondered whether this would make a difference. <pH 7 is too low for Mollies; Mollies must have not less than pH 7.5, which is of course incompatible with Tiger Barbs and Butterflyfish, which prefer 6.5-7.5.> We have been informed by our local aquarium [where we bought all these tropical fish from] that the situation could be to do with the nitrate level etc. and they are kindly testing a sample of water tomorrow. <No no no... you need your own NITRITE (with an "I") test kit at home. No-one starting the hobby should be without this ESSENTIAL piece of kit. Think it's a waste of money? Too bad... your fish died anyway, likely because of nitrite poisoning. Test kits are NOT optional.> The Dalmatian mollies seem as perky and inquisitive as ever. <Only a matter of time...> I just wondered if there is any additional information or advice you could provide about the reasons for my brother's barbs and butterfly fish deaths and if they are related. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm And other related articles.> If you could make any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated, Rhiannon <Read more and try to understand what is happening in your tanks before adding any more fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tiger barb [and African butterfly fish] deaths :( 12/31/07 Hello Neale, Thank you for the quick reply. <You're welcome.> I have taken into account everything you've said very seriously. <Cool.> Although I would like to say that I really don't appreciate the implication that we don't care about the fish because that is far from the case. <My mistake, and no offence meant.> Our family didn't just go out and buy the fish. Before purchasing the fish we owned A buyer's guide to tropical fish which states that mollies should have ph7-7.4, and that barbs are unfussy within normal parameters, and as for the necessity of the nitrite testing kit at home - our aquarium failed to inform us of this necessity as well as telling us that barbs, mollies and butterfly fish were compatible. <Often the problem. These fish basically AREN'T compatible for the reasons outlined. While Barbs can certainly thrive in hard, alkaline water (lots of people keep them in southern England for example) most barbs do not tolerate salt well, and sooner or later Mollies end up needing to be kept in salty water. Sure, some people keep them without salt, but the simple fact is half the time Mollies are sickly under such conditions, so why not make life easier for them and for you and keep them in brackish water from the get-go. Aquarium shops *can* be good sources of information, but it depends a lot on who you talk to, and what the store specialises in. There are some aquarium store owners I happily defer to when discussing healthcare of certain types of livestock. But then there are other stores where staff are far less experienced/trained.> So as far as we had known everything was fine and we had all the equipment we needed, and now maybe our confusion is a little bit more understandable. <I hope so to.> Well before your reply things got worse and we were left with one green barb and two Dalmatian mollies. <OK.> We had the water sample done and the aquarium said that the levels were fine and that the deaths could have been caused by shock at the disturbance of their tank when we added the aerator and could have churned up too much dirt when cleaning their tank. <Hmm... "levels were fine" covers a lot of ground. So rather than telling me subjectively what the water chemistry/quality is, how about some numbers? Or let me put things this way: Both fish need zero ammonia and nitrite. Mollies also need nitrate levels less than 20 mg/l when kept in freshwater (in brackish/marine conditions they are less sensitive). Barbs want a pH between 6.5 and 7.5, while Mollies want something between 7.5 and 8.0. Hardness is also critical. Mollies absolutely MUST NOT be kept in water with a general hardness less than 20 degrees dH; Barbs prefer softer water, around 5-15 degrees dH. In terms of salinity, I STRONGLY recommend Mollies be kept at a salinity of at least 3-5 grammes per litre; Tiger Barbs at least cannot tolerate this level of salt for long (there are some brackish water barbs to be sure, but they're mostly the larger species). As should be obvious, there's no overlap in what Mollies and Barbs want, hence my advice -- based on experience -- that these fish shouldn't be mixed. By all means try to go against Nature, but you'll lose...> Also, to answer your question our tank is 60 litres. [That is the measurement we are aware of.] And unfortunately three more mollies had been purchased before I read your email. <OK, 60 litres is quite a small tank, and while adequate for small community fish like Neons, it isn't really viable long-term for any of the fish you've got. Depending on the precise strain of Dalmatian Molly, adult females can get to something around 8-10 cm in length, males a little less. Males can be aggressively possessive of access to females, and a tank this size is very definitely one male only! Black Mollies are marginally smaller, around 7 cm or so when mature. While they could be kept in a 60 litre tank, I'd recommend something a bit bigger.> So, evidently it seems an increasing mess. We have one green barb and three black mollies, and two Dalmatian mollies. <Oh.> We were told that the conditions and everything is fine. So it's hard to know where to go from here. <Horses, stables, and bolting come to mind here. In any case, I can only reiterate something that you probably understand now anyway: fish need to be researched before purchase. Here's the thing to do: First start off by figuring out your precise water chemistry in terms of pH, hardness (the dH scale), and if you can, carbonate hardness (the KH scale). Decide whether you want to add salt to the tank or not. Then try and return the fish you currently have, and exchange them for smaller fish suited to the tank you have. Endler Guppies, Neons, cherry barbs, Sparkling Gouramis, Bumblebee gobies, Cherry Shrimp, dwarf species of Corydoras, Kuhli loaches, and so on would all be inexpensive, easy to keep animals ideally suited to 60 litre tanks. Keep suitable numbers where required, i.e., trios (or more) of the loaches and catfish, at least six Neons, etc. Basically you want fish no more than 3-4 cm/1-1.5" in length, except in the case of wormy things like Kuhli that happily make do in small tanks since they wiggle about rather than swim.> Thank you. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: African Knife Problem and other questions 12/31/07 Hello again, <Hello for the first time...> I hope you don't mind me asking you another question. I have a 65 gallon tank 48" by 13" and 24" tall (kinda odd shape). I am currently just running an AquaClear 70 filter. I am worried about the oxygen levels in the tank. <Oh? Well, the two things to concentrate on are circulation (moving the water from the bottom to the top) and supplementary aeration (basically "splashing", anything that increases the surface area at the top of the tank). Of course, if you aren't overstocked, you won't have problems. The traditional approach is to allow 10 square inches per 1 inch of small fish like guppies and Dwarf Gouramis. Allow two, three, four times more "square inchage" for bigger fish. So your tank, with 624 square inches could support 62 and a bit inches of small fish, and rather fewer bigger fish.> I plan on having a African Knife, three Gouramis, 5 Congo tetras, couple Cory cats, snails, and I'm going to try a full size Singapore Shrimp (the AK seems pretty satisfied with his krill and blackworms at the store, I think it will be fine). <Hmm... famous last words. But do watch out with African Knives; though quite placid when young, at least some specimens become rather mean as they mature.> No live plants, only lots of fakes. I decided against the peace lily idea. <Sounds wise. A dying plant will only consume oxygen...> Do you think I need to supplement the oxygen with a bubbler or something? <Maybe; but do remember its circulation -- not bubbles -- that matter. So what you want is something that pulls water from the bottom to the top of the tank. A decent airstone will do this if weighted down to the bottom of the tank, but so too will a filter or powerhead. Try sprinkling some flake food at the bottom of the tank; if it sits about or moves slowly, then you may need more circulation.> I appreciate your time and advice. Julie <Happy to help.> PS Happy New Year! <Likewise, happy new year! Neale.>

Re: Tiger barb [and African butterfly fish] deaths :( 12/31/07 Hiya [Is yours an American site by the way? Just curious] <The founder and queen bee of Wet Web Media, Bob Fenner, certainly is a citizen of the Good Ole' US of A, but yours truly is a Brit.> Thank you very much for all the advice. <No problems.> It's very helpful and hopefully now we can provide a better future for our fish. <Glad to help.> Tetras were going to be the original choice - shame [understatement really] that we didn't stick with that. <Is always the way. Read first, plan second, buy third.> We'll see what we can do <Cool. Enjoy your fish, Neale.>

Tiger Barb, hlth./env., Algicide use    2-4-08 I have had a 29 gallon tank for four months now (before that I had a 10 gallon tank for one year), and when I first got it I moved my one remaining tiger barb to my tank. <Hello, Merritt here. That must be one lonely tiger barb, these fish are schooling and need to be in groups of six or more for them to be happy.> I had purchased him August 29, he seem very happy in the tank swimming all around and eating plenty. Well my parents did not like having just one little fish in there so I bought six other fish from Wal-mart and kept them in their own tank for three weeks. <What species of fish did you buy? And did you monitor the water chemistry? (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrites?)> One of them was really small but my parents did not want me to have two tanks so he went in with the others. <So your fish are in the 10 gallon or 29 gallon?> Everything went fine, until the algae started, so I bought two of the smallest algae eaters that I could find (I do not like algae eaters they look ugly). <I personally don't like them either> They where so small they could not keep up with the growth so I put in "Jungle-No more algae" then within two days they where each dead, can I not put in algae tablets with algae eaters? <You might have suffered a change in water chemistry when adding the other fish which could have caused your fish demise. Many algae destroying products are known to be harmful to specific species of fish and this could have been the reason your fish died. I usually don't recommend algicides of any sort. Also, your problem with algae is due to a high amount of nutrients in the water, are you feeding your fish too much? Or not enough water changes? Here are some links to algae problems and freshwater care, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm. Take a look at these areas of WWM and others, as the answers to your questions are all on our website. Hope this helps! Merritt>



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