FAQs on Freshwater
Related Articles: Freshwater Diseases, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Choose Your
Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options
by Neale Monks,
Related FAQs: Freshwater Disease 1, Freshwater Disease 2, Toxic Situations, Aquarium
Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish Parasites,
Ich/White Spot Disease, Worm Diseases, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease,
Question about quarantine
I have a 5.5 gallon tank with a single male Betta in it. He used to have
a companion, but it passed. So then I got some other fish from a family
member. They are 3 neon tetras and 3 zebra danios. The only cycled tank
I can quarantine them in is a 1.2 gallon tank. I'm worried the stress
from such a small space will kill them if I go the full 14 day
<As these are not "new" fish; but ones being transferred, I would skip
the quarantine and introduce them directly. Not likely they are bearers
of pathogens. Alternatively, if you feel isolation, examination is
worthwhile, I'd move the Betta to the 1.2 gal. and use the 5.5 for the
I know the 5.5 gallon tank may be too small as well, but it's the best I
can do for now. I do water changes several times a week as needed based
on the testing I do with the API kit. What would you recommend I do?
<As stated. Bob Fenner>
Albino Bushynose Pleco Quarantine Duration
I just purchased 5 Albino Bushy nose Plecos juveniles (1 to 1 1/2
inches) for my 240 gallon Discus aquarium. They are currently in a 10
gal quarantine tank. What do you recommend for quarantine duration
and/or any proactive meds. They seem very active and healthy. Are there
any diseases or parasites that are common with these fish?
<These are farmed fish, so they may well carry all the usual fish farm
pathogens: Whitespot, Velvet, Camallanus worms, etc. More specifically,
Loricariidae can be plagued with intestinal parasites, not necessarily
worms, but things like Rickettsia bacteria that cause chronic wasting.
To be fair, Ancistrus spp. are generally not seriously affected by
these, especially not compared to wild-caught Panaque spp., so this
isn't something to be paranoid about. Bottom line, quarantining for 6
weeks would be worthwhile, and deworming a very good idea. Beyond these,
if these Ancistrus are feeding well and not obviously underweight (no
hollow bellies or sunken eyes) I'd not worry about them beyond this. One
Ancistrus aren't particularly happy at Discus-level temperatures, so do
ensure the water has plenty of oxygen. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Albino Bushynose Pleco Quarantine Duration
Thank you Neale for your quick response and information, I really
Could you recommend a safe dewormer for these juveniles?
<They're quite hardy, so any commercial dewormer (containing
Flubendazole, Praziquantel, etc.) should work well. You'll have dewormed
your Discus, presumably, and the product you used for them will be fine
Re: Attn Neale, GF, not tiny QT
Deborah here again.
You helped me with Sparticus. I added a new fish and he died today. I
think it wasn't in the best condition at the store and got worse
when I brought it home. I have a 29 gallon tank with 1 very healthy
goldfish in there. I've had him for about year 1/2. A 50 gallon
filter and a 30 gallon filter Aqueon outside tank.
I have a small 5 and 1.5 gallon tank that I would like to use as a
quarantine or to pull a fish out when its sick so I don't have to
medicate the whole tank.
<Would not recommend this. A hospital tank needs to be at least as
good as the main tank. If it's a worse environment, then using it
will make things worse.>
Is it okay to start another small filter on the tank so when I have to
pull a fish out I can use one of the extra filters that have the good
bacterial through cycling?
<All filters need to be matured, and once matured, constantly
"fed" with ammonia, whether from fish or some other source. A
common approach is to place the hospital tank media in the main
tank's filter, and remove as required. Hospital tanks are also
operated using Zeolite ("ammonia remover") but you need quite
a lot of this for it to work with something as messy as goldfish, and
it also needs to be replaced every few days, the aim being to keep
ammonia at zero and to replace the ammonia before the Zeolite is
saturated. Zeolite can be cleaned using hot water and then recharged a
few times by soaking in brine, but I wouldn't recommend beginners
Instead, replace Zeolite as required. The plus side to Zeolite is that
it doesn't use bacteria, so you can use medications that might harm
filter bacteria without problems.>
This way the first signs of distress I can catch it in time and pull
him out into the proper set up. I would be able to put the big tank
water in there and tap and medicate. Does this sound safe?
<If the hospital tank was 10+ gallons and the biological filter
maintained appropriately when the tank was unoccupied, yes, it can be
What would you suggest
Although aimed at marine fishkeepers, the basic rules hold for any
Thank you kindly
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Quarantine tank, FW 8-7-09
I was reading the article about "First Aquarium" on the site,
and it mentioned the use of a quarantine tank. It said that this tank
need not be up and running at all times. Would that mean that the QT
tank wouldn't be
"cycled" or does the article infer that one would take water
from the main tank, and that would provide adequate bacteria to cycle
the tank? Just confused.
< It would not be cycled, which is why it is encouraged to run a
small sponge filter or have extra filter media running in your main
tank which can be moved to the QT when it needs to be set up.>
And while I'm here--If I took the water from a water change of a 20
gallon tank (5 gallons) and dumped it into a 100 gallon (new to me)
tank would that be enough bacteria to get things going or should I put
the old filter in the new tank too....I was planning on taking out some
of the gravel from 20 gallon tank and putting it in the 100 gallon
tank--no fish in it.
<The water has almost no bacteria in it, or at least not the
bacteria used for cycling the tank, move the filter media over and some
gravel which contains lots of helpful bacteria and will give your new
tank a nice jump
I have a water lily I would like to plant in the 100 gallon tank--good
idea or bad idea?
Thanks for your help, time and interest!
Re: Quarantine tank, Cycling 8/7/09
So, for my new 100 gallon tank (B) could/should I then take the whole
filter unit from smaller tank A and let it run in bigger tank B for a
week-- AND take some of the gravel from tank A and put it in tank
color roughly... (I have two 20 gallon tanks and could take both filter
systems for a visit to the new big tank.)
<Assuming you are no longer going to run the 20 then take the whole
filter, it will help jump start the cycle in the 100G. Run the filter
in the new tank and add small amounts of food daily which will be a
source of ammonia.
Test the ammonia and nitrite levels in the new tank and when both reach
0 with some nitrates present the tank is cycled. This could take longer
than 1 week, possibly up to a month.>
I have a 10 gallon that has run without fish for a long time (a
year)... would it be considered cycled, or has the good bacteria died
<Unless some source of ammonia is present (some life form or fish
food) then it is most likely no longer cycled.>
Re: Quarantine tank, Cycling, FW 8/8/09
In the last post you said, (or I heard) if I wasn't going to use
the 20 gallon tank then take the whole filter and transfer. What if I
still have fish in it? It has two convicts who are going in the bigger
<Then leave the filter material for the convicts and just transfer a
little gravel to seed the new tank.>
Anchor worms and quarantine 6/4/09
I've poked around on the web, but haven't found anything that
can answer my question. On Monday I bought 2 new goldfish, a calico
fantail (3cm) and a orange-and-white fantail (4cm), to add to my 10
gallon with a 6cm fantail (upgrading to 60gal at the end of the
<Glad to hear you upgrading this tank! Ten gallons isn't nearly
enough for three Goldfish.>
I've had that fantail for a year and a half, with no problems. This
morning (Thursday) I noticed that there are thin string-like things on
the tips of the white-and-orange fantail's tail, he also has a
scale that is dark (looks like a wound) that I noticed when I bought
<Now, there are three things to think about here. The first is some
type of external parasite like Anchor Worm, just as you suggest. But
the two other things to consider are Finrot and Fungus. Finrot erodes
fin tissue, leaving behind what we call fin rays (the bones) until
these snap off. It's actually very common for Finrot to take the
appearance of receding fins and trailing fin rays. Fungus is
characterized by the presence of the hyphae that make up the
"body" of the fungus, and these look like cotton wool
threads. They can, in some instances, be quite long, over 1 cm. So
that's another thing to think about. Both Finrot and Fungus are
latent in all aquaria, even well maintained ones, since the bacteria
and fungi responsible normally do good work breaking down waste
Consequently they have the potential to come out of nowhere when
conditions turn bad in the aquarium. Anchor Worm, and indeed most of
the other large external parasites, have complex life cycles that
cannot be completed in aquaria. They only really become problems in
ponds, and because Goldfish are farmed in ponds, it's newly
imported fish that are likely to carry them. Once exterminated, Anchor
Worms rarely turn up in aquaria ever again.>
I've done some reading about Anchorworms and I've decided to
quarantine him, because he doesn't seem to have any other wounds
where the worms could've reproduced. Should I keep him in
quarantine and treat him, or should I treat the main tank?
<Quarantine, treat and observe the fish until you are happy he is no
longer infected. Free living parasites could potentially hitchhike from
the quarantine tank to the display tank via buckets, nets, etc. so take
isolate the two tanks as fully as possible. Disinfect buckets, nets,
etc. using a strong brine solution (50 g/litre cooking salt should do
the trick). Anchor Worms are normally treated using organophosphate
insecticides to kill the free living stages, with the adults ideally
removed by hand. This is fairly tricky to do, but worthwhile if the
insecticide isn't killing the adults quickly. Place the goldfish in
a waterlogged towel, wrap the fish securely to hold it firmly, and then
pull away the adult Anchor Worm using forceps from its head, NOT
it's tail (it's a lot like removing ticks from dogs, if
you've ever done that). Dab the wound with some sort of antiseptic
such as mercurochrome, iodine, tea-tree oil, etc. It would be a very
good idea to use something like tea-tree oil proactively in the
aquarium once you're finished to prevent secondary infection,
though if only the tail fins are affected, the risk of trouble is very
small. You may decide to dip the Goldfish in seawater for a few minutes
prior to manual removal of the parasites; although this won't cause
serious harm to the Goldfish, and doesn't kill the parasite, it
does weaken the parasite, making it easier to remove them. Make up
seawater using 35 g per litre non-iodised cooking salt or aquarium
salt; don't use regular
marine aquarium mix because that raises the pH and hardness, which
won't be appreciated by the Goldfish. Dip the fish using a net, and
leave for several minutes, potentially 15 minutes, but remove the fish
at once if it
shows signs of distress such as rolling over. You can now pull of the
Anchor Worms a bit more easily than otherwise. After a couple of weeks,
if there's no sign of any more parasites on the fish, and
you've finished the treatment of insecticide, you can then move the
Goldfish into the display tank.>
I know this isn't fin rot, there is nothing else wrong with his
fins or with him, he's eating and swimming....
Thanks for your time!
Nadine (South Africa)
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Kribs in Quarantine- Quarantine New Cichlids
Dear Crew, I have 5 Pelvicachromis sp. approximately 1.5 -2 inches in
length in a 10 gallon quarantine tank. Ammonia and Nitrite are 0,
Nitrates are 5 ppm and pH about 8, temperature 78F. They have several
PVC "caves" and some fake floating plants for cover. My
1) Is it better to remove the hiding places so that I can observe them
while in QT? Currently they hide about 99% of the time in or between
the PVC pipes. I don't want to stress them out by removing their
< You need to be able to see them to determine any problems. I
understand your concern by stressing them out, so try at least once a
day to remove the caves so they can be evaluated.>
2) I have had the fish for 3 days and they have not yet eaten. I have
offered several food items, small bits of floating Cichlid sticks,
freeze-dried bloodworms and thawed bloodworms. They have not come out
of hiding for any of these. Do I need to provide a sinking pellet for
< If you look at their mouths you can see that they are slightly
downturned. A sinking food would probably be eaten.>
3) One of the 5 has very dark coloring, I understand that this is a
sign of stress. The other 4 show normal coloration. Is it better to go
ahead and add these fish to the main tank or keep them in QT for
Currently it is very difficult to determine if the fish in question has
any physical damage or infection because of Question 1 above.
<You do not mention the species. If these are wild fish then you
could have more than one species and that would account for the darker
color. Look for other symptoms like clamped fins or white
Mostly I'm concerned that they hide constantly and haven't
eaten. I know they can go maybe a week safely without eating but
they've got me worried.
Thank you for your help, Evan
< Dwarf cichlids are very shy by their nature. It will take them
awhile to become use to their new surroundings. You are doing the right
thing by isolating them. They will eat when they get hungry. Try
and find out something about these fish from where you purchased them.
Wild fish may take some time to get adjusted.-Chuck>
Pacu in Quarantine 05/25/09
I have a quick question for you. My husband and I recently completed
our 1000 gallon indoor pond for Guido, our red-tailed catfish.
<Ahh! I recall>
WWM has been instrumental in getting me through this trying experience,
and I thank you for it. The pond is complete, and 18-inch Guido is in
it (now looking very, very small...). We purchased a Pacu, who is about
14 inches, to be Guido's only tankmate. The Pacu was in a pond at
our LFS, and was a really good-looking fish, without any of the scars
typically found on Pacus of his size. He is in Guido's old tank,
alone, for quarantine. It is 125 gallons. However, the water quality is
decreasing (I think I'm overstocked hehe) and I'm beginning to
wonder if it wouldn't be better to put him in the pond.
<Very likely so... not much reason for quarantine for an animal that
has likely been tank-raised>
We have a four-day vacation coming up, and my mom, who is caring for
the fish, won't be able to do water changes should problems occur.
My worries re moving the Pacu to the pond are the following: 1. That
the Pacu would cause an ammonia spike in the pond, as Guido has only
been in there a couple of days, with no spike evident yet. I'm not
sure if we'll see a huge spike, due to the water volume and
<What did you do... will you do to speed up the establishment of
nitrification? I'd carefully pre-measure foods to be left for your
mum to use>
2. That the Pacu is ill, though he was in the pond at the LFS for at
least a month, and does not appear to be sick. I know quarantine is
always best, but in this situation, I'm worried the quarantine
itself will make him sick. What is your opinion?
<I'd move this fish>
I appreciate your help, and want to do right by this monster fish.
It's so weird with him in the tank, which is at the foot of our
bed. I haven't gotten over the feeling that there's a stranger
in the room. Again, thank you for what you do for fish and their
<Welcome Melinda. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pacu in Quarantine 05/27/09
Thank you for your reply. I was leaning in that direction also, but
it's nice to be able to get a second opinion from a trustworthy
In anticipation of stocking our 180 gallon saltwater tank (moving up
from a 75), I recently purchased "The Conscientious Marine
Aquarist." The book is informative and your conversational tone
makes it easy to read.
<I appreciate your input>
The photographs are also very nice. I will move Mr. Pacu as soon as
hubby wakes up -- ahh, the joys of moving fish that are the size of
<Mmm, yes... best done with a heavy duty (fish) bag... 4 mil.s...
scooping up, with minimal water... and lifting (watch your
As for your question re the nitrification process in the pond, we have
added two types of bacteria-in-a-jug -- one that is Dr. Foster and
Smith brand, and one recommended to us by our local pond store. We
tried to cycle with ammonia, but after a month passed and nothing
happened (i.e. ammonia stayed, nothing else appeared),
<It is often the case that exogenous ammonia does this... poisons
decided that it would be better to just do water changes if needed.
Thank you again for your help and all you do.
<And you for your participation as well. BobF>
A quick goldfish Ich question and thank goodness for QT!
Hi all you fantastic WetWeb crew,
I just have a couple of Ich questions; I have used the search tool but
I am a bit confused.
I have just purchased two new common goldfish to join a single one in a
fully cycled 190 ltr tank.
Fortunately I put them in a 60 ltr fully cycled quarantine tank when I
got them on Saturday. I am almost certain one of them has Ich. I am so
pleased I did this!
<Agreed, should make treatment easier, but since the Ick parasite is
highly mobile (e.g., on wet nets and hands) it is likely your other
fish are at risk, so observe carefully.>
I have been testing the water each day and have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites,
7 nitrates and the pH is 8.2.
I would really like to use a salt treatment to clear this up, rather
than medicate the tank as I feel that they have been stressed enough
from their move. However, I am not sure what dosage the salt should be
in. I can find dosages but I am not sure if the crew member answering
is using English gallons or US gallons.
<It's 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per US gallon.>
Could you tell me what the dosage is in English gallons (or
<One US gallon is 3.78 litres. If your bucket or aquarium is rated
in Imperial gallons, 12 US gallons are 10 Imperial gallons.>
I kind of assume that you add the salt over a period of time, not
straight away, if this is so what sort of time period do you use to get
the salinity up?
<Adding the salt straight away is fine; the salinity is very, very
I am under the impression that salt treatment may affect my biological
Am I right in thinking that you continue treatment two weeks after the
spots have fallen off?
<Correct; the salt doesn't kill the white spots on the fish:
only the free living parasites.>
Once the Ich has gone, and I move my fish, I was going to take out my
filter sponge and bioballs and place them in my external canister
filter (so I always have spare mature filter media in an emergency).
sterilise everything or just run the tank for 3 or 4 days without fish
in it to get rid of any Ich?
<It's a good idea to sterilise hospital tanks, provided you can
keep filter media alive someplace else. Of course, in the case of
serious illnesses you would sterilise the filter media as well, and
then re-cycle the hospital tank.>
My other little goldfish has had a bit of a white patch by her mouth
which we never noticed until she was in QT. This has almost cleared
right up but I guess the salt may help this little fish too.
<May help a little, but I'd observe, and if the white spot
isn't clearing up (it may simply be a bruise) I'd treat for
Finrot/Fungus; in the UK, I recommend eSHa 2000 as working on Finrot,
Fungus, and Columnaris equally well.>
I can't say how brilliant QT is - both the fish looked fine in the
tank at the LFS and also in the bag when we got home, but once in QT
you can really get a good look at them.
It was very, very tempting to put them in our main tank, and thanks to
your website, I'm so glad we didn't!
Many thanks in advance, Michelle
<Hope this helps, Neale.