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Astronotus ocellatus (Agassiz 1831), the Oscar. To seventeen inches (45.7 cm). South America: Rio Amazonas basin in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Northern Paraguay and French Guiana. Freshwater: pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5.0 - 19.0, temp. 22 - 25°C. Wild type at  the Shedd Aq. 2015 
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Freshwater FAQs, Ask us a question: Crew@WetWebMedia.com

Updated 1/21/2018
Other Specialized Daily FAQs Blogs: General, Planted Tanks, Ponds, Brackish, Last Few Days Accrued FAQs,
Daily Q&A replies/input from the WWM crew: Darrel Barton,
Neale Monks, Marco Lichtenberger, Bob Fenner, are posted here. Moved about, re-organized daily Current Crew Bios., Not so current Crew Bios

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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Worms     1/20/18
Hello my name is Mehrr, and I've found these work like creatures in my fresh water tank. Could you please tell me what they are?
<Are these in your aquarium? Seems odd. These are maggots of some sort -- larvae of flies (i.e., Diptera) -- perhaps houseflies or blowflies.
Harmless, and most big fish will eat them very readily. They do not live underwater though, so more likely have fallen into the aquarium from above.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Worms
No, they were in my fresh water tank.
<Oh, I'm sorry, I'll issue a refund at once!>
It's a giant covered, concrete cylindrical structure used to store fresh water for domestic purposes.
<Not really what the volunteers here are expert in.>
Are they commonly found in such an environment?
<Maggots are terrestrial and must breathe air, but do prefer dark, damp environments with plenty of decaying organic material. Trash cans, compost heaps, rotting food are the sorts of environments they favour. Examine
where this tank is located and act accordingly. There are aquatic maggot-like animals of course, such as Rat-tailed maggots, that do live in swampy, polluted ponds and ditches, but they are very different in appearance to traditional Blow fly, House fly, and similar maggots. Cheers, Neale.>

figure 8 puffers with increased bite wounds     1/19/18
I have a group of six figure 8 puffers that's been together for over a year. Their tank is 65 gallons, 36" X 18" X 24" with an sg of 1.004. It also has bumblebee gobies, and livebearers (limia perugiae and swordtails.)
There's never been any problem with them attacking their non-puffer tankmates.
<Cool. Sometimes happens! They are unpredictable, as I'm sure you know from your reading.>
There was a seventh puffer that became aggressive when it anticipated feeding, and would then chase the other puffers. Introducing livebearers as dither mostly solved this, then they were all removed because of nitrate levels increasing too much.
<So there's no livebearers in there now?>
The seventh puffer got bit severely on its face in a feeding accident by another puffer and eventually died. It's been many months since that happened, and even when it still was none of the other fish showed bite wounds.
The remaining six have recently begun to show circular bite marks on their bodies (not on their fins), the two largest of them have the least, but they all have bites and they disappear and reappear daily.
<Classic pufferfish bite marks.>
(The smallest puffer of the group is probably recently mature, it's pattern has noticeably changed in the last few months.) I reintroduced livebearers as dither to solve this problem, but it hasn't worked. I virtually never see any aggression when I feed them or observe them, but the bites come and go so the only answer I can think of is a larger tank.
<Possibly. 65 gallons should be ample for a group of small pufferfish. I'd tend to recommend, say, 15 gallons for the first one, and 10 gallons for each additional specimen. Do you have a bunch of rocks (Texas holey rock for example) that divide up the tank and obstruct lines of sight? That can help. Rearranging rocks periodically to break up territories can often help. Tall plastic plants such as Vallisneria-type things are useful as well. But there's also a certain degree of accepting the fish bite each other periodically, especially if they're hungry. Provided the puffers aren't actually harmed, a certain amount of nippiness might be tolerated, provided they weren't attacking the other fish.>
What are the chances a 72" tank would significantly lower the level of biting among the group of six puffers I have? Would a 72" with 24" depth be much better than a 72 with 18" of depth?
<Doubt it'll make a difference. A bigger tank is always nice, but these fish operate more on bottom of the tank surface area than volume, and making the water a bit deeper won't create more real estate at the bottom of the tank.>
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re: Choosing a S. American Exotic     1/15/18
I finally got some Uaupesi Apistogramma.
<Nice! Apistogramma uaupesi is, I believe, the Apistogramma 'rotkeil' that had some popularity a few years ago. Do bear in mind this is a true soft water species (Rio Negro habitat) and a bit of a 'hothouse flower' so a Discus-style environment is what you need for success. As with any dwarf cichlid, so watch your water quality, including nitrate. Any nitrite or ammonia will kill them, but even moderate levels of nitrate, 20 mg/l, are enough to cause serious health issues in the long term. In other words:
don't skip water changes, and don't overstock the tank! If you have a pair, you do want them breeding, but ensure plenty of caves, including some only the female can enter. Otherwise, the male can be a bit hard on her, and you
don't want to be stuck with a lone male! On the plus side, once they're breeding you should be able to sell the youngsters easily -- these are very desirable fish! Cheers, Neale.>

Stringy white poop, many deaths     1/15/18
I've been having a bit of a problem with my Dwarf Neon Rainbows and I'm at a loss at this point. I'll start the story by stating that through the whole ordeal ammonia and nitrite were zero, nitrate was less than 5, water
changes were done weekly at least and whenever else I thought they were needed. I ordered 9 online nearly 2 months ago; 3 males and 6 females all came alive but covered in ich. I was expecting ich, so they went straight
into a 10 gallon quarantine tank equipped with a cycled filter off an established tank. I raised the temperature to 86-87 and after 2 days all ich was gone but I left the temperature up for a week or week and a half just to be safe.
All fish initially ate well. I fed almost exclusively frozen foods (brine shrimp, Spirulina brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, etc. I had over 10 varieties) with New Life Spectrum, Hikari Micron, and Sera Onip fed on mornings when I was running late. After a week the male that got picked on a bit developed dropsy overnight and died within a couple days. Now, after having a bad experience at a local fish store with internal parasites I automatically treat all the fish I get. I treated with General Cure first (has never proven effective at treating internal parasites for me but it's proved useful for other things, so I use it before PraziPro) and during
that treatment, one of the males stopped eating and developed white stringy poop. He was like this for a few days before he began breathing very heavily then died. I researched and researched and everything came up as
internal parasites. I used PraziPro and at some point fed Hex-Shield (which I had forgotten I had) and the remaining 7 all had nice red poop. Yay! Or so I thought.
Some number of days later a female got white stringy poop, stopped eating, began breathing heavily, then died. Down to 1 male and 5 females. More research and forum exploration led to Hexamita or Malawi bloat. A Hexamita recommendation was to feed food soaked in Epsom salt. Everyone but one female ate. The recommendation for one that doesn't eat was to squirt the Epsom salt mixture down her throat. I figured since she would die as soon as she got to the heaving breathing stage anyway there was nothing left to lose. I filed the tip off a syringe I got from the vet, gave her some Epsom salt mixture, and the white poops stopped. Yay! Other recommendations were to use metro, so I ordered that just in case. I did it once more and then it was time to pack the fish up for a move across the state.
All rainbows survived the initial trip but the one female died the next day. They were kept in the ten gallon QT for a few days but since the remaining ones all appeared healthy and I really needed the tank off the floor, they went into a 20 high. One male and four females left. None of my frozen food made the trip. A relative lent me a cooler she swore was incredible, yet all my food turned to mush. Everyone got stuck with Repashy and pellets since finding pet stores here is hard, but at least that made looking for healthy red poop easy. The remaining 5 fish were all healthy in the new place for 3 weeks until the other day. One day a female was suddenly breathing heavily and bloated with white stringy poop. She didn't stop eating before then and none of the other fish, minus the initial dropsy case, had bloated before death. Now, I had been feeding pretty heavily because it kept them from decimating the shrimp population while the plants grew back (a bit of melt since they got packed up days before the move), so I fasted them. I was gone the entire next day and didn't look at my fish at all. Yesterday I counted 3 females and 1 male. The shrimp were picking at a small piece of white meat, the Hypancistrus was part way out of his cave (very rare). Clearly, the female was turned into a meal.
I'm at a loss as to what to try next. Your key leads to Malawi Bloat since there's no fungus or wounds appearing on the fish, but they aren't cichlids. They've been treated for internal parasites and every time I think everyone is healthy another comes down ill. What is there left for me to try? I have one male and 3 females left. They look healthy and the poop is healthy but I've learned that can change overnight.
Please help!
<Hello Sabrina. Like you, my gut reaction here (if you pardon the pun) is that we're looking at Hexamita or some similar intestinal parasite. While you have used Hex-Shield, this is a "good" food rather than a medicine.
While it contains vitamins and minerals essential to good health, it doesn't contain Metronidazole, which is the medication you want here. So that's where I'd be going. Something like Seachem MetroPlex, for example.
Epsom Salt is often used alongside Metronidazole because it does help to reduce swelling and constipation, but it isn't a medicine _per se_, so I wouldn't expect it to treat this problem as it is. Squirting Epsom salt into a Rainbowfish sound like a non-runner to me, more than likely causing severe osmotic stress even if the experience doesn't harm the fish psychologically. Ideally, use Metronidazole alongside a reliable antibiotic, Nitrofurazone being particularly popular among aquarists. If you have some other antibiotic kicking about, I dare say it'd be fine
though. At the same time, do ensure a number of other things. Firstly, lots of oxygen; secondly, appropriate water chemistry; thirdly, a varied diet with some fresh greenery (gut-loaded brine shrimp are handy); and fourthly, keep nitrate levels as low as practical. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Stringy white poop, many deaths     1/17/18

Thank you for your help!
<Most welcome.>
I have a small bag of Metronidazole. The tank is full of snails and shrimp and I can't set up the quarantine tank right now, so do you recommend mixing the Metro into some Repashy or bloodworms?
<Getting medicine into fish via their food is usually more effective than adding to the water. But dosing can be tricky if the fish spit out some of the food. I'd tend to follow the instructions on the package, or advice from the vet, rather than simply improvising.>
In terms of feeding greenery, I used to have Spirulina brine shrimp and emerald entre but they went bad during the move and I can't find any around here. Tiny town problems.
Would crushed algae wafers, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, or broccoli suffice?
<The algae wafers are a useful staple for any community fish, and should be part of their regular diet. Spirulina flake food (sold for livebearers) is also an excellent staple. The other green foods, if eaten, are all good additions to their diet.>
I also have some Cobalt pellets with Spirulina and probiotics. In terms of antibiotics, I have Kanaplex, Furan 2, ParaGuard, and Fungus Cure (says it treats secondary bacterial infections). I've always been partial to Kanaplex, but which do you recommend?
<Kanaplex would also be my first recommendation here. The others are more or less antimicrobials rather than true antibiotics.>
The tank does have an air stone. In terms of water chemistry, ammonia and nitrites are always zero, nitrates less than 5 (usually zero. I dose a little for the plants), pH around 7.5, 10 dGH, 11dKh.
<All sounds fine.>
Thank you again,
Sabrina H
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Stringy white poop, many deaths      1/18/18

The directions that came with my Metro recommend 2 teaspoons per pound of food.
<That's a lot of fish food!>
I did the math and I need approximately 0.014 tsp per cube of bloodworms, which is just slightly less than 1/64, which is the smallest teaspoon measurement I have. I'll just add a little less than 1/64 tsp and be generous with the Garlic Guard.
<What's the garlic for? I would not be adding random 'cure all' chemicals alongside specific treatments.>
The math for Kanaplex will have to be done later and hopefully the fish will eat it. Perhaps they just need to be starved for a day or two as encouragement.
Alternatively, I could mix it with daphnia (only other frozen food I could find) but I think the hypan is more likely to eat the bloodworms, since eating the last dead fish more than likely infected him too. Do you have a preferred brand of Spirulina flakes?
<Not really; they're all good!>
New Life Spectrum is my go-to brand but they don't make them and neither does my second favorite, Omega One.
<Understood. I've used the Tetra brand, but pretty much any should work a treat.>
I hope you're having a wonderful day!
- Sabrina
<Off to donate blood now, so wonderful isn't quite the word, but hopefully useful! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stringy white poop, many deaths     1/20/18

I hope donating blood went well! At least as well as it can go anyway.
Personally, I despise needles.
<I think most people do. The burden of being O-neg... constant demands to be sucked by medical vampires!>
Frankly, I'm too lazy to deal with fresh garlic and without it, I find the Pleco won't eat anything medicated.
<Really? Fair enough.>
Thus far the remaining 4 rainbows are alive and still eating, though one female has begun hiding a bit. Should she, or any other infected fish, stop eating how do you recommend I treat it? All forums and sites online say if the fish are to the point of refusing food the medication should basically be squirted down its throat.
<Whilst viable with large fish, with very small fish there's more risk of either stress, handling, or the pressure from the nozzle doing serious damage. I'd be extremely cautious before doing this sort of thing. Many medications can be added to the water. Less effective, but less
I'll do it if I must, but is there another alternative?
<See above.>
The consensus seems to be that treating the water will do no good.
<It's less effective, but not ineffective. Fish do drink, and in freshwater, they can't help but absorb things from their environment.
Dosing is important, but also is removing carbon from the filter -- a common oversight that causes "false negatives" where people use a medication and find the fish stay sick. High oxygen levels and rapid turnover will cause medicine to be broken down by the biological filter, and simply high levels of biological activity, such as algae, let alone the fish, can have a similar effective. So yes, getting the food into a fish is better. But many medicines work reasonably well added to the water. My books recommend 50 mg Metronidazole per 4.5 litres (about 1.2 US gallons) -- so a single 200 mg label would be a bit under 5 US gallons. Furthermore, it is recommended doing 3 treatments, the first on day 1, the second on day 3, the third on day 5, with a 25% water change before the next dose. Make sense?>
Do you personally do any medicating or treatment of new fish? Does it differ whether the fish are captive bred or wild caught?
<Funnily enough, farmed fish are actually more risky! Wild fish tend to be in very good shape, though external parasites like flukes are not uncommon in a few cases (such as Bichirs). Farmed fish tend to be maintained in high numbers in small ponds or tanks, so cross contamination is very common.
Drug use is ubiquitous on farms, too. Of course once you mix the fish in the retailer's tank all bets are off, but no, I don't routinely medicate new fish, but I may well quarantine if that's a possibility. That said, I'm pretty ruthless about not buying fish from dodgy shops, and I avoid delicate species like the plague! Really, fish are actually astonishingly disease resistant, all things considered -- they're swimming about in what are effectively bacteria-laden Petri dishes! It's either bad luck, bad genes, or bad housekeeping that leads to problems. I haven't bought new fish in six years now, and can't remember the last time I medicated them.>
Oh and also, you said Hex-Shield is just a good food. What do you recommend its use be? I spend a fortune on it so I'm definitely using it one way or another, but is it actually helpful with ill fish or just a decent addition to their usual food rotation?
<I'd go with the latter. Hexamita -- or at least Hole-in-the-Head -- probably has some relation to diet, the lack of fresh greens being widely discussed. So, any food laden with greens or supplemented with vitamins has the potential to "shield" against Hexamita. That said, any number of ways to achieve the same thing -- good quality flake, slivers of various fish meats and seafoods, periodic offerings of Spirulina-loaded brine shrimp, cooked peas now and again -- all these things, if used together, should provide a good, balanced diet without the expense. It's much the same as vitamin supplements with humans: sure, we need what they supply, but if you're eating salads and fruits and oily fish and all the rest of it, you'll be getting those vitamins anyways, and it's not like your body can store them, so having extras doesn't help.>
Thank you for all your help!
- Sabrina
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Betta fish sick - Bubba. help? 27 megs...    1/12/18
Esther; Pls re-send your msg. w/ a file size a few hundred Kbytes.
re: Betta fish sick - Bubba. help?     1/12/18

hi! sorry, this was my message:
<Ok. We have to limit file size for two principal reasons, dinky storage space by our ISP, and slow download rates while out traveling at times>
hello hello
my name is Es. my fish is sick! he's been sick since November. it all started with a black dot on his mouth area. then it spread to his top head.
<Unusual... such "blackness" is generally a matter of response to poor water quality (e.g. ammonia burn), neural damage (generally traumas) and some parasites... Is this genetic change here? Is this fish very young?>
now fast forward to today, underneath his mouth is turning white! like pale, lacking color. in Dec, parts of his fins started to become thin and rip. his gills underneath are blackish. he's a Betta fish in a 2.5 gal filtered, heated tank (80F).
I tried Kanaplex and dosed 3x but it killed my nitrogen cycle! (
<Ah yes>
new tank-
started it end of Aug, had my fish since then). didn't seem to work. also tried the All-In-One Remedy Marineland medicine where you drop it in the tank. I'm trying to feed less bc ammonia levels are around 1.0ppm.
<... need to be 0.0... I'd have pre-made new water available, be switching out half daily without touching the gravel or filter media, feeding VERY minimally>

i don't know what he has and would love any advice or feedback. please see attached photos.
<Nothing attached. Try sending emails to yourself to assure their attachment. IF the files are very large, upload them elsewhere and just send links along>
everyday that goes by, he's on the gravel more. but he still moves around, just doesn't seem as curious. he is still eating, surprisingly. I don't want to spend a ton of money and would LOVE to find the REMEDY! are you
able to help me save him?
<You've got to get the ammonia down...>
let me knew your thoughts...
Thank you very much,
Worried, helpless girl
<Try the water changes for now Esther. Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta fish sick - Bubba. help?     1/13/18

thanks for ur reply!
I'll try daily 50% water changes w.o touching gravel, etc. poor fish!
<Good. BobF>
Esther Lee
re: Betta fish sick - Bubba. help?     1/13/18
and, yes he was a young fish when I got him. an elephant eared Dumbo Betta (: I think he could've had a parasite. it was weird. one time I got an Anubias plant.. I didn't realize when I purchased it but it wasn't the best condition. maybe something infested the plant and got into my tank because there were some small white/yellow teeny eggs when I took it out. weird!
<The eggs more likely a snails>
regret! could be a mix of things. hope he makes it alive. I'll do the daily 50% water change like you recommended. thanks.
Esther Lee
<Cheers, B>
Re: Betta fish sick - Bubba. help?     1/14/18

ah snails... I see.
<Yes; common hitchhikers on plants>
update: I just decided to upgrade to a 5 gal tank. used Poland spring water.
<Mmm; don't know what this is "made of"... Treated tap would likely be fine>
currently heating it up so I can put him in. just starting a nice clean environment. I made sure to use the existing gravel, but also got new pebbles!
I tested my water now & I'm back to 0ppm
Esther Lee
<Good. BobF>

Re: Betta fish sick - Bubba. help? Beh. f'      1/17/18
hey bob!
hope you're having a great day.
<Thank you; yes>
I noticed my fish keeps burping or puffs his gills out, I think there really is something internally wrong with him.
<Mmm; these are natural behaviors for Labyrinth fishes... not to be concerned>
do you have any idea why fish might burp or make small air bubbles come out from their gill (not bubble nests) ?
<Keep reading! Bob Fenner>
Esther Lee
Re: Betta fish sick - Bubba. help?     1/17/18

Oh I see. Maybe I should quit worrying too much, & think "less is more" with this new tank rescape. Haha! Thanks for your input! Appreciate it.
<Certainly welcome. Many Labyrinth fishes are also called "Bubblenest Builders"...>
*Have a wonderful day! *
Esther Lee
<Trying to! BobF>

Odd parasite or injury     1/11/18
Hi! I have a Pleco (I honestly am not sure what breed) who is about 15 years old.
<Likely Pterygoplichthys species of some sort -- by far the most common of the "Common Plecs" in the hobby.>
I rescued him in 2010 from a foreclosed on home in the middle of the Las Vegas summer. The previous owner had left a fish tank in his home in a living room in front of uncovered windows. For several months I would jog past this place and see the tank and decided to ask the bank if I could remove the tank, not knowing there was a fish in it still. It’s a miracle he was still alive.
<They are tough fish, that's for sure!>
The original owner’s children informed me he was almost 8 years old.
<Nice. They can live a long time, given good conditions, easily well over 20 years.>
Needless to say this fish has bonded to me.
<It's lovely when these Plecs become tame. They're so shy otherwise, and reportedly nocturnal, but once settled, they'll come out during the daytime. My Panaque is right now at the front of the tank begging for food. If there was anyone else in the room, or any noise, she'd be inside her cave hiding away.>
I have had no idea that a fish could have such an awesome connective personality, he sits in my hand, follows me from one side of the tank to the other and greets me when he sees me come home from work.
He even plays soccer with me with his own little aquarium soccer ball that he also sleeps on.
The problem is that he got a spot on his nose a few months ago and I treated the water with a multi-purpose fungus and parasite treatment. It didn’t go away but didn’t seem to get bigger. Then one morning it had a weird transparent mushroom bubble looking thing growing out of it.
<Understood. Bubbles or blisters under the skin are a sort of injury, with gas or liquid collecting underneath the skin, creating a sort of bubble. Sometimes they're caused by supersaturation of the water with oxygen. This almost never happens in freshwater tanks, but is slightly more common in marine tanks. Either way, it's caused by ridiculously too much aeration, so that too much gas dissolves in the water, and for some reason it comes out of solution inside the fish, rather like when you open a can of soda-pop and the bubbles all fizz out. The bubbles cause substantial damage to nearby tissues, and can develop into visible bubble-like growths just under the skin. Anyway, toning down aeration helps, and eventually the "gas bubble disease" fixes itself. Now, if the bubble is fluid-filled rather than gas bubbles, we call it a blister, and these are usually caused by a bacterial infection. They can respond well to anti bacteria treatments. The fact the bubble is around the snout suggests some sort of physical injury, such as the gravel being too sharp, and catfish generally are particularly prone to these odd problems because they rest with their nose, whiskers and belly on the substrate. So unlike other fish, which float, they're more prone to becoming scratched and/or infected with bacteria living on the substrate. It's more or less similar to what we'd call Finrot, and might be treated with the same medicines. But I'd also recommended reviewing the tank, cleaning the substrate as thoroughly as practical, and ensuring that there's nothing rough in the tank that the catfish might abrade itself with.>
I treated his tank again and it fell off or went away and he seemed happier. Then a month goes by and now there’s a new one there and the first one is back and is red like it’s full of blood. I have done so much research and can’t find any information on it. Can you give me some suggestions as to what this is and what I should do?
<Do see above.>
My buddy is in his senior years and I want him to continue to be healthy and happy. I feed him zucchini and algae wafers (which he doesn’t eat, he prefers the zucchini). I once gave him a piece of mango which he promptly spit out of the tank at me so mango is a NO! Spinach just became a rotting tank plant, so I supposed I have a picky eater. I named him Old Greg. I love him so!
<Do try some other foods to vary the diet. Algae wafers will be eaten, but also offer slivers of white fish and shrimp, bits of mollusk such as cockles and mussels, sweet potato, cooked or canned peas. A lump of bogwood may also provide useful fibre for Plecs of all types, even those that don't actually digest wood (as Panaque spp. do) and merely consume it while rasping away at any algae.>
Thanks for your help!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

High oxygen rates in a tank  1/10/17
I have a 70 Aquaclear on the back of a 38 gallon. The filter has a turnover of 300 gph. Is this something that is producing a high oxygen environment?
<Likely so>
or does current help even more as in from a powerhead?
<I do encourage redundancy in aeration... and filtration>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Celestial Pearl Danio with growing black spot on head    1/9/18
<Hello Jackie,>
You are the only people on the planet I imagine can speak to this issue and I very much appreciate your time and input. I have searched this forum and have found other references to different fish turning black but nothing seemed to match up to my fish.
<Indeed not! This is really very strange indeed.>
My question concerns one adult CPD with a black spot on the head that has been slowly spreading over about the past year (started out small-looked like a toupee).
<So a very slowly developing problem, it would seem.>
2 yr old 20 gallon long. Eheim 2213 and Aquaclear 20 with biomedia and Pothos. Weekly 25% water changes. Marineland LED strip light 12 hrs. Temp 76.3, Phos 2, PH 7.5, KH 5, GH 9, NH3 0, NO2 0, NO3 5
Sand substrate with java fern and java moss on 1 lava rock, Manzanita with java moss and java fern, and about 12 Cryptocoryne. Previous setups have had Fluval strata substrate
Varied diet: Frozen: Bloodworms, Daphnia, Daphnia with Spirulina, Krill (chopped); NLS wafers, Omega One Shrimp Pellets and Omega One Mini Pellets and Repashy when I can find it.
<All sounds fine. Might quibble a bit over temperature, suggesting keeping them a little cooler, around 22-24 C/72-75 F being optimal. But really everything else sounds spot-on here.>
I`ve had these CPD`s for about 2.5 years. They are in a tank with Harlequin Rasboras and Metae cories.
<Should be fine!>
The cories and Danios are spawning regularly and all appear healthy. I`m just curious if you have any thoughts as to what could cause this as I've not been able to find out from Google or my local forum. Look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.
<Black patches on aquarium fish tend to be caused by four different things. The first is ammonia burns, but I think we can discount those here. Check to see if there's any sign of white tissue (i.e., dead skin) or red/pink colouration (i.e., bacterial infection and congested blood vessels). Either of these can imply damage to the scales and skin. But in the absence of either, it's more likely the black colour is pigmentation rather than damage. The second cause of black colouration is some type of parasitic infection, sometimes called 'Black Spot Disease' and more commonly seen in ponds. For various reasons it's rare in aquaria and tends to die off after a while without causing any major issues, all else being equal. Again, I'd dismiss this possibility because your fish has a black patch, not lots of
small spots. The third reason is genetics, the issue really being one about the quality, or otherwise, of the parent fish. In this situation you usually have, say, a golden-coloured morph or artificial form (like, for example, a Midas Cichlid or a Goldfish) with some darker coloured fish in its parentage. For whatever reason juveniles were golden, but some of those darker genes express themselves as the fish ages, and dark patches appear.
Now, while it's possible the issue here is genetic, this species hasn't been line-bred yet, we're not really talking about a genetic 'throw-back' but rather a simple 'sport of nature' of those sort Darwin famously described. In other words, there's variety within populations, and mutations will sometimes present themselves as different colours, fin-lengths and so on. In the wild natural selection would work on them, favouring those that might be useful, or against such mutations that made the fish less successful. It's just possible we're talking about that here, and if the fish is otherwise healthy and happy, you've simply been lucky enough to watch "evolution in action", so to speak, with this fish having a
mutation in colouration that sets it apart from all the other Celestial Pearl Danios / Galaxy Rasboras on the planet! Finally, there's a developmental issue or some type of physical damage that has caused the fish to turn black. One example is nerve damage (perhaps from a physical injury) that 'jams' the nerves that allow fish to change their colours at will, rather like a stuck pixel on an LCD screen. The result is that the colour pigment cells are stuck in black (or whatever colour) mode, and you see a fixed patch of abnormal colour. Developmental issues can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies and certain infections such as Fish TB, but your aquarium otherwise sounds excellent, so I'm somewhat skeptical of this. So my gut feeling, without evidence to the contrary, is that this is a healthy fish with a genetic abnormality, and provided he's happy doing his thing, I'd not be concerned. Whether or not you want to breed from him is another question, though that would, perhaps, allow you to determine if it is genetic or merely developmental. Cheers, Neale.>
Sorry for multiple sends    1/9/18

Mea culpa.
My email showed my reply to be stuck in draft.
<No worries. B>

Re: Celestial Pearl Danio with growing black spot on head (RMF, any ideas?)    1/9/18
<<Physical/nervous damage would be my guess. B>>

Hello Neale,
I so appreciate you getting back to me and providing such detailed information.
<You're welcome.>
I don't see any white tissue or red/pink/colouration but I admit having difficulty examining such a quick and tiny fish. The only way I can think to look at this guy up close is to try and get good photos and zoom in on my computer.
<Understood. But do try using a net to trap the fish, and hold it very gently against the glass. Doing this allows you to examine the fish, and if you can, take a photo.>
There is a chance I have offspring from this fish, as there are 30 growing out in a 10 gallon-perhaps I can post a ground-breaking follow up in the future (?).
<Quite so! This is exactly how new varieties are produced. There's a 'sport' of some sort that appears in a batch of fish; people breed from that fish; and if the feature is genetic, it will turn up in some of its offspring. Crossbreed those until you get a line of fish that 'breed true' -- i.e., all have that feature.>
The fish were sourced from a popular shop here in Toronto (I'm told they are tank bred in Asia and shipped), so I posted this matter on the local forum to see if anyone else had a similar issue. Haven't heard anything as of yet.
With your permission, may I post your response to my post on GTAAQUARIA.com? Others would certainly benefit from your knowledge. Here is a link to my thread
<Be my guest.>
Thank you again for your time and for everything you do to help aquatic souls!
<And thanks for the kind words. But I might be wrong in this instance! Keep reading, and keep an open mind.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Is this normal?    1/8/17
Hi crew,
<Hey Lisa>
My Plecostomus has been in hiding since moving to the tank
<Oh; not unusual for sucker mouth catfishes to hide; especially when new to a system>
and this is the first time I’ve seen it’s under side. Is this normal?
<Looks fine to me. What is worrisome is when the area is reddish>
Lisa Nelski
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Guppy age at 1/2 inch; repro.      1/6/18
I have scoured the web simply trying to find out if guppies at the size of 1/2 inch are capable of breeding, or at what size they will become viable for breeding. It seems like a simple question and yet I can not find any age to size ratio chart to know how old they are at 1/2 inch.
<Half an inch is a bit small; three-quarters of an inch (overall... not fisheries/standard length) is more about right; though the fish might be stunted and capable of giving birth. Bob Fenner>

Daily ph fluctuation. 1/17/15      1/6/18
Hello Bob,
<Hey Bill>
Continuing our conversation re: Daily ph fluctuation. 1/17/2015.... About 6 months ago (June 2017), i put in the tank a few shards of "Pennsylvania Blue Stone", total about 1 square foot. Over the months, the ph slowly rose and i correspondingly backed off on the baking soda (for the last month or so, no baking soda at all was added in the daily water changes).
Ph is now "rock" solid at 7.8, which is bit higher than I want (a few fish are flashing too much, regularly; and i do have some soft water species in there, e.g., Farlowella sp.). Question: Over a period of months, can i "adjust" the ph down by removing some of the bluestone?
<Likely so; yes>
Say i leave in 4 sq in, will the ph drop, but not 'all the way'?
Or is it that that smaller piece will just dissolve at a faster rate and maintain the 7.8 ph?
<A matter of surface area, current, solubility of the area exposed... but less material, area, current (and a few other factors; time, temperature...), less effect>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Tank Cycling Question... turns out, FW      1/4/17
Hello Crew!
Happiest New Year wishes to all of you!
<And to you and yours Renee>
You have settled a few arguments for me over a variety of aquarium related topics, and I'm writing tonight to ask if you'll do that again. I consider myself an amateur aquarist with a lot still to learn, but from what I have learned I believe that if you don't have nitrate in your water, your tank is NOT cycled; that there is no way to have a cycled tank with zero (0) nitrate. Would you consider that accurate?
<Actually; there are set ups, conditions... like with good live rock, inoculated sand of depth present, where immediate balance is struck amongst aerobic (nitrate producing) bacteria/events are effectively countered by anaerobic (nitrate reducing) microbes... where one doesn't encounter appreciable NO3. Neat eh?
Bob Fenner>
*Renee *
Re: Tank Cycling Question, FW      1/5/17

(lol) That is really neat, but WAY out of my league for now!
But for the average freshwater aquarist, with plain old sand substrate, plastic ornaments, and a canister filter, there should be nitrate if the tank is cycled, right?
<Again; not always, but usually, yes. There are products that will greatly speed up both the forward and reverse reactions of nitrification. A person
could miss any/much accumulation of NO3 using these>
I can't remember if it was you Bob, or Neale, that I asked about keeping a large Oscar in a 55 gallon tank because I was being asked to care for the fish while its owner went out of town for training for her job. She kept the fish in a 125 gallon, but wouldn't let me care for the fish at her house or let me
bring the 125 to my house and care for it here.
<I do recall>
I ended up bringing the fish here and putting it in my 55 gallon and things have been working out fine (watching nitrates, doing an extra water change each
week and feeding moderately. But about a week ago, I came home to find another Oscar in a bucket in my mudroom along with an empty 55 gallon tank and other fish supplies.
<... was this a Xmas present from you know who?>
In the empty tank was a note from the first Oscar's boyfriend that he is joining his girlfriend back east, that they will not be coming back, and that his girlfriend told him to leave me the fish because I would take care of it. I'll spare you the drama explosion that came after I found this, but I was
able to do some rearranging and now both fish are in one of my 75 gallon tanks and are doing well. They are obviously familiar with each other and get along fine. I'm enjoying them (although I wish they'd quit biting me), but I believe two large Oscars need a bigger tank than my 75, so I'm trying to find them a better home.
<Ah, good>
I've had one persistent party who wants them, but his tank is only a 46 gallon bowfront. I told him the fish were at least 10 inches long, each, and
that I thought the tank was too small, but he insists that the tank is so well cycled that he has achieved 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 0 nitrate. He sent pictures of the tank and it doesn't have anything like what you mentioned in your reply (live rock, etc.). It just looks like a regular freshwater tank. I don't want the fish to miss out on a good home, but I don't want to give them away to someone who will put them in a bad situation and destroy their health (if not
outright kill them), so that's why I was asking if this is possible.
<They do need more room than a 46 gal. Bob Fenner>
Re: Tank Cycling Question     1/5/17

I also forgot to ask - you mentioned something about reverse nitrification and I'm really interested. I went through the list on the WWM site but
didn't see anything. Do you go into this on another area of the site?
<Perhaps... do use the search term/word "denitrification"... this is synonymous with reverse nitrification. BobF>
Re: Tank Cycling Question     1/5/17

Thank you for the confirmation! Have a great day!
<And you, B>

Red patches on albino Bristlenoses     1/5/17
Just wondering why the light yellow Bristlenoses tend to have those red patches on them. Is it stress or just the fact that they are albino?
<Judy, if you're talking about the pinkish-red colouration most obvious on the underside, that's simply their blood seen through the skin. Albino and
leucistic (yellow) catfish lack skin pigment (except, obviously, yellow on the leucistic ones) so it's easier to see beneath the skin. See the
attached photo (that hopefully Bob can use on the website) of a perfectly healthy, but albino, male Ancistrus. But anything that looks like pink to
bright red inflammation, especially somewhere without a strong blood supply, such as the fins or whiskers, is likely to be incipient Finrot.
While perfectly treatable when caught early on, the easiest approach is to avoid such specimens. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red patches on albino Bristlenoses (RMF, please see my attached photo)<Yes>

It is just a patch on top of the head.
<Do see my previous image and commentary; read; do draw your own conclusions from there. Cannot really say anything else without seeing the
fish. Neale.>

Betta Sick and NOTHING is working     1/5/17
Hello, so around 5-6 months ago my Betta became sick with a bacterial infection.
<Mmm; almost always such situations can be traced back to other, more primary influences... Genetics no doubt plays a role at times, but
environmental issues (low, fluctuating temperature, water quality, esp. biological pollution) and nutrition are where we find root causes; and cures
I assume it was due to bad water quality as I had gotten a bit lazy with water-changes as of that time.
As well, before symptoms occurred a mosquito eater insect somehow landed in the tank while I slept and grew white mold/fungi overnight,
the next morning the first symptom, PopEye, appeared. I immediately took action and cleaned his tank and did multiple water changes that day.
<... more than one in a day?>
I did some quick research and decided to order Maracyn two. Over the next 2 days his condition RAPIDLY decreased, his PopEye got so bad one eye was halfway out of his head and there was fungus growing in the open wound. I was extremely worried at this point because of the fast progression, he also began to get fin rot on his tail fins. He soon stopped eating completely and became extremely thin and lethargic.
Soon after starting his Maracyn 2 treatment there were already rapid improvements. The dead and fungus infested part of the eye fell off, his
eyes weren't swelled as bad, the fin rot disappeared in the back fins. He started eating again promptly, at the time his water was at 74-74 as I was
in the process of getting a better heater. He has stayed eating and without fin-rot in the back and not too bad of pop eye. However his PopEye never
completely healed, his gills stayed inflamed, and his side fins started to get fin rot. I tried daily water changes for a while hoping that clean
water would finish the process.
<Is this animal in a filtered, heated system?>
After that didn't work I tried a second run of Maracyn 2 in the tank, which also seemed to do nothing. I continued doing regular water changes around 2-3 times per week. I then tried treatment using Seachem Metro-plex and Focus in frozen blood-worms, I fed these for around 3 weeks with no change in his condition. I then tried Metro-plex dosing in the water itself to see if that would work, I am on about week 2 or the end of it and still see no signs of improvement. I am wondering if you guys have any idea what I can do to help my Betta.
<Need to state this; for you, and others who will read this in time:
Aquatic life is different than tetrapod terrestrial (mammals, birds...) in that it "cures" more slowly. Likely fixing the environment, improving
nutrition will fix your Betta. Too many water changes destabilizes biological filtration... DO you have ammonia, nitrite present here? How
much accumulated Nitrate? I would STOP the used of medicines, fix the environment>
Other Info: I house him in a 5 gallon Fluval Spec, with a pre-filter sponge over the filter so the water is peaceful for him.
<And a heater... the temp. kept near... what?>
I do 1-3 water changes per week depending on how much waste is produced.
<Should only change some of the water weekly... Please read here:
I feed him 1-2 New Life Spectrum Community Pellets each night, 1 when the water is being dosed since I can't change the water due to the medication. I use Seachem Prime on his water when I change it, I also do 75% percent water changes whenever I change his water. He is housed with a plastic stump hide, underwater artificial flower, sitting leaf, and a Marimo moss ball. I want to have more plants for him but cannot due to a weak light. He is on white sand that I gravel vacuum each water change, he appears to be very active a majority of the time. The filter has two different sections of bio-media and 3 different sections of sponge, his heater keeps his tank in the low 80's.
So, if you guys have any idea of what else I can do, I would love to know, if you would like to have pictures just say so. Although all of his
symptoms point towards a bacterial infection but nothing seems to be able to kick it. Thanks for the help,
Regards, Drew Meier.
<The reading, changing the interval of water switching, water testing/reporting, and no more medicine use is the route I would go. Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta Sick and NOTHING is working      1/6/18

I don't quite understand your final comment, do you mean use no more medicine,
set up a definite water change schedule, not change as much water,
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm
and testing the water regularly?
<Keep reading>
Thanks for the fast reply.
<Thank you for reading first. B>
Re: Betta Sick and NOTHING is working      1/6/18

Ok, I tested his water, there were low nitrates (5-10 ppm) 0 nitrites, and a small amount of ammonia, which I am unsure of how it has gotten there because of a well cycled tank,
<Likely from the water changes and med.s>
I did a 40% water change,
dialing it back a bit but since ammonia was present still substantial, added prime as well as a cap of stability to add more good bacteria. I will begin testing daily, if ammonia or nitrite is present a 25% water change as well as prime and
stability, and see how that goes for the time being. Once cycle is back on track I will do 2 25% water changes a week.
Thanks again.
Re: Betta Sick and NOTHING is working      1/6/18

Thanks again for all the help!

ACF Not Eating, Seeking Recommendations     1/4/17
Hello, I have a 15 year old African Clawed Frog that has lost its appetite.
For about 3 weeks he showed a decreased appetite before simply refusing to eat for the last, going on 4, weeks and has refused ReptoMin, several types of worms, and pink salmon. For the last week, he's preferred to nearly
exclusively float on top or lay on the suction cup platform we have that lets him poke his nose out of the water. I've also seen him vomit more than once in the last week. Additionally, he's developed a curious habit of following us as we walk around the tank and swimming/diving away if offered food. About a week ago, I noticed he we stress shedding and had a tiny ammonia burn. After water changes and the use of API stress coat, the burn's gone and his shedding is almost completely gone (there's a minor bit on one of his toes) as of today.
When he first began to lose his appetite, ammonia levels were between 0.5 and 1.0 (for clarification, we use Seachem prime on our tap water due to its natural 0.5 ammonia content, PH is 6.6 out of the tap). About a week
ago, we had the ammonia spike to 2.0 and decided to move up the filter maintenance schedule by 2 weeks and replace 1/2 of the foam sponges, biological media, and carbon. In the meantime, we've conducted daily 30%
water changes to try to maintain consistent water conditions in case the filter begins cycling.
The tank conditions for the past three days:
Date | Ammonia | Nitrites | Nitrates | PH
12/30 | 0.5<->1.0 | 0.25 | 0 | 6.0
12/31 | 0.5<->1.0 | 0.25<->0.5 | 0 | 6.0
01/01 | 0.5<->1.0 | 0.5 | 0 | 6.0
To me it looks like the filter's in the process of cycling. I'm concerned about the PH, for months it was consistently at 6.5, which I believe is on the lower end of the range for ACFs, and I'm not quite sure what caused the decline.
Is there any way to induce the frog to feed? He's lost weight and seems to be weaker than before. Both of the younger frogs are behaving normally.
<15 years is a pretty good age for Xenopus, so you must be doing everything right for the most part! But the issue here is surely water quality and chemistry. Forcing animals to feed is rarely necessary -- if they're 'happy', they'll eat. So let's review. Xenopus in the wild exist in a variety of water chemistry conditions, but the farmed ones -- which have been bred in captivity for decades now -- are much happier in neutral to slightly alkaline conditions. Between pH 7 and 8 is about right, with medium to high levels of hardness, recommended. Xenopus kept in soft and/or acidic water do poorly, and older specimens may be more sensitive than younger ones. So some attention to water chemistry will be important here.
Given your water sounds soft if the pH is anything to go by, hardening it slightly will be helpful. Per 10 gallons/40 litres, try adding 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon Epsom salt. This should provide medium hardness water with a pH around 7.5; perfect for Xenopus! Do also remember that biological filtration works more slowly below pH 7, and below pH 6 may even stop altogether. Next up, the ammonia. Do make sure you use water conditioner to neutralise ammonia in the tap water, but also ensure the filter is up to the job. Really, there's no 'safe' ammonia level -- anything above 0 is bad. While neutralised tap water ammonia may still be detected, nitrite should certainly be zero (unless of course there's nitrite in your tap water, but that's relatively rare). Beef up the filter perhaps, replacing carbon (if used) with more biological media. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Common Bushynose Plecos and water current   12/30/17
I am wondering if the common Bushynose found in all the LFS need stronger current and the higher O2.
<As far as I'm aware, yes. In fact, good, aerated water quality is a common and overlooked requirement for all Loricariids>
I have noticed that every other Pleco out there has this requirement, so if this is the case keeping even the common Bushynose with angelfish is probably not the best idea?? If this is true I have been doing it wrong for quite sometime. Thank you
<Mmm; as long as the system is not overcrowded, well-filtered, circulated... Ancistrus should do fine here.
Bob Fenner>

Request Advice on Water changes      12/29/17
Hi Bob/Neale,
Thanks for all the replies of my previous questions . really appreciate it .Request your advise on correct quantity/Method; of water change ;I have read at many places that huge water changes are not good for tank as it changes the water parameters drastically like temperature, PH etc which can be shocking for fishes.
<This is so>
I also understand that a Weekly WC of 25% is fine and is generally recommend as a safe bet .But its a know fact that fish shops and more of breeders do huge water changes to the tune of 100% every other day or also daily so my question is how do they do it without shocking the fishes ?
<They are paying close attention to water quality; assuring that the all-new is optimized>
is there any specific method involved in the same ?
<What is the same? Preparing new water? Yes... Depending on your source, sometimes only simple aeration, heating ... other times filtration, modification and storing ahead of use>
;I am asking this as I plan to increase my WC from 25% weekly to more as I have been told by someone that one at least needs to do more than 50%at one go; to make noticeable changes in ammonia.( specially for a
overstocked tank like mine, three blood cichlids, 5 inches and 2.5 inches in a 25 gallon tank)
<Ammonia should not have to be dealt with via water changes, but instead by prevention (not crowding, not over or mis feeding) and filtration. These hybrid Cichlids will need more than a 25 gallon system>
Kindly advise
Regards, Raj
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

You think it might be swim bladder disease?      12/27/17
Hello. I have a 765 gallon pond with 10 adult goldfish and 5 tiny fry in it. I am trying to determine if one of my fish has a swim bladder disease problem.
<I'm a skeptic with regard to "swim bladder disease". Let's be clear, it's a symptom, and not a specific disease. It's not like a healthy fish is swimming about one day, gets infected with some type of bacteria, and that bacteria zips its way straight to the swim bladder, puffing it up and causing the fish to die! When most aquarists mention "swim bladder disease" what they mean is "my fish was fine before, but now it's swollen and swimming upside-down" -- a much different thing! Assuming the fish was healthy before, there's two main reasons for fish being both swollen and swimming upside-down. The first is constipation. Let me direct you to some reading here:
This is rare in pond fish because these fish consume green foods and algae naturally, keeping their digestive tracts in good health. The second cause is a systemic bacteria infection, of the sort often called Dropsy.
Crucially, as well as looking bloated, the scales on the fish will tend become raised from body, causing a "pine-cone" appearance when viewed from above. Fish with Dropsy will often also be lethargic and off their food,
whereas fish with constipation will be swimming about normally and eating normally. Systemic bacterial infections are usually caused by some sort of environmental stress, such as poor water quality or chilling, though I suppose it's possible bad luck or bad genes can play a role too. Fancy Goldfish in particular are sensitive to water temperatures much below 15 C/59 F.>
The fish is a white Oranda. It has always stood on its head when feeding.
Here is a photo of the fish doing that. Sorry about the fuzzy quality. Here is another photo of the same fish swimming normally just the other day. She was feeding normally when I was feeding during the fall. But today my
father found her swimming upside down. She righted herself and swam away alright. But I am wondering, if it is swim bladder disease, should I take it out of the pond? Or should I let it continue to live in the pond where it has more room to swim and companions?
<Systemic bacterial infections are best treated indoors in a tank, using some sort of antibiotic. While Goldfish are social, they're fine on their own for a few weeks. This time of year be careful about moving fish between
ponds and tanks -- sudden temperature changes of more than a couple of degrees will be stressful, so you really want to fill the tank with pond water, set it up somewhere cool like a garage, and then put the Goldfish in so that any temperature changes are slight and gradual. As always, remember water quality in the hospital tank needs to be good, and remove carbon from the filter (if you use carbon) while medicating.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: You think it might be swim bladder disease?      12/28/17
Thank you Neal. This is not my first time with swim bladder issues in my fish. I had one with genetic swim bladder disease years ago. She was fine, no dropsy, swam and ate normally. But when she would rest she would always turn upside down and float. She would right herself to eat and swim. But it was definitely not constipation.
<Genetic problems with swim bladders are very common in 'fancy' (i.e., inbred) varieties of fish. We sometimes call these fish "belly sliders" when they're newly hatched because they slide about the bottom of the tank on their bellies, rather than swimming normally like healthy fish fry. Ethical breeders will usually (humanely) destroy such fish, eliminating the faulty genes responsible from the gene pool, so that fewer fish in subsequent have the problem. Of course such fish can make perfectly serviceable pets, as yours seems to have done, but because these fish can't swim, feed, and interact socially in the normal ways, their long term wellbeing isn't assured.>
The disease eventually caused her to stop eating and she passed away. But she was a great and beautiful fancy goldfish while I had her. But I am wondering if my white Oranda might be developing it. It has always kind of stood on its head when feeding actively at the bottom of the pond. Do you think this head-standing is the start of a swim bladder disease problem?
<Possibly. As I say, genetic problems are usually obvious from birth. It's rather uncommon for genetics to explain how a fish can mature across, say, twelve months and go from being a perfectly healthy baby Goldfish into one that cannot swim at all. Of course it's not impossible, especially if some additional factor, such as vitamin deficiency or exposure to Mycobacteria are brought into the equation. Still, because fancy Goldfish have deformed swim bladders and spines, they are especially prone to swimming imbalances, not least of all when constipated (the solid mass of food shifts their centre of mass, so that they no longer balance as they should). That's why, by default, a 'floaty, Bloaty' Goldfish can be assumed to be constipated first, unless other obvious symptoms, such as bleeding sores on the skin and/or fins, imply something other than constipation.>
I can’t feed the afflicted fish right now and have not fed my fish in two weeks because the pond is in winter mode now and I am not supposed to feed them in winter.
<Quite right; hence, bringing Goldfish indoors for any treatment that requires feeding. I will observe that as a general rule fancy Goldfish are not well suited to overwintering outdoors where the water drops much below, say, 15 C/59 F, and I'd argue they're indoor fish unless you happen to live somewhere that winters happen to be mild (southern California, for example). Here in the UK, where ponds do ice over, it's generally considered safe enough leaving the hardy fancy varieties (such as Fantails) outside, but the more delicate varieties (like Pearlscales) are meant to be brought indoors for winter. Exposure to low temperatures causes a number of problems for fancy varieties of Goldfish, including a tendency towards bacterial infections once their immune systems become suppressed. Also, because fancy Goldfish have those deformed digestive tracts, if the gut hasn't been completely cleared out by the time it gets really wintery, there's a greater risk of undigested food 'sitting there' and causing problems when they're compared to their non-fancy cousins.>
So I don’t really think it is likely constipation related. And it’s definitely not dropsy related. Only conclusion I can make is that if it is swim bladder problems it might be genetic like my previous fish with swim bladder problems.
<As I say, possible, but if your Goldfish is 'floaty, Bloaty' completely out of the blue, I'd be thinking more about environment than genes.>
I just need some expert advice as I am not an expert.
<Let's see what Bob F has to say, he's the real fancy Goldfish guy around here!>
Thank you so much for your help.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem      1/6/18
I am preparing to treat my white Oranda for a genetic swim bladder problem.
I will be treating it outdoors as I have no room to treat indoors. And I live in a warm desert climate so temperature wise it should be ok. But I will not be feeding it at all because it is outside and it is currently winter. I was looking at using a method that involves 4 teaspoons of non-iodized salt and 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat.
<...? For how many gallons?>

But it also suggests using aged water. Should I put the recommended amount of Stress Coat in to make the water safe for the fish and the 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat?
<I would, but I'd use a good part (at least half) of the old pond water.
What is this treatment being done in? A tank? Of what size, how kept filtered, aerated, stable?>
And how long should I administer this treatment for? Should I keep it in the treatment tank for a few minutes or will it take longer than that to treat my fish?
<Will likely have to stay in for weeks>
Thank you.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem (RMF, am I being unfair here?)<<IMO, no>>      1/6/18

I am preparing to treat my white Oranda for a genetic swim bladder problem.
<Can't recall how we concluded this was genetic, to be honest!>
I will be treating it outdoors as I have no room to treat indoors. And I live in a warm desert climate so temperature wise it should be ok. But I will not be feeding it at all because it is outside and it is currently winter. I was looking at using a method that involves 4 teaspoons of non-iodized salt
<Won't work. This is just sodium chloride. Could the writer of this offer any explanation at all about why it would help? Magnesium sulphate, on the other hand, known as Epsom Salt, can help with constipation and bloating, and to some degree, Dropsy too.>
and 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat.
<Again, no real reason how/why this will work. Stress Coat is great for use when transporting fish, or if they've been damaged in a fight. But it's really just water conditioner plus aloe Vera. About as much use for treating a swim bladder problem as wishful thinking, and the latter is a lot cheaper.>
But it also suggests using aged water.
<Why? Aged water is from the Palaeozoic Era of fishkeeping -- when people thought aquarium water magically became better for fish life as time passed. This made some sort of sense in the 1950s and 60s when people
didn't completely understand water chemistry, and didn't really have practical ways to check it. So doing small, infrequent water changes made sure the fish weren't exposed to big water chemistry changes. But nowadays
we appreciate that old water can be toxic because of the high levels of nitrate, so regular water changes are important to keep the tank (or even a pond) nice and fresh. To be clear, there's no medical reason why dechlorinated tap water with the same water chemistry and temperature as your pond should be any worse than the old water in the pond. In fact, it's likely to be better.>
Should I put the recommended amount of Stress Coat in to make the water safe for the fish and the 2 teaspoons of Stress Coat? And how long should I administer this treatment for? Should I keep it in the treatment tank for a
few minutes or will it take longer than that to treat my fish? Thank you.
<Don't see any point to what you propose, to be honest. So I'd do some more reading first. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem      1/6/18

The treatment is being done in a 3 gallon bucket
<... this won't work. PLEASE read WWM re goldfish care. NONE can live for days in such small volumes. B>
if my family who shares my house with me has anything to say about it.
Could I give it a bath there then release it back into the pond? How long would I have to leave it in the bucket for? And Neal recommended Epsom salt instead. How much do I use per gallon of water if I use Epsom salt?
Reply to previous email about fish with genetic swim bladder problem... Bath       1/6/18

I found this online regarding Epsom salt baths.
To give your fish an Epsom salt bath, pour half of the tank's water into a clean container. Add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt for every 1 gallon of water. Have the fish swim in the solution for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the fish promptly and return him to his aquarium if he appears stressed or relieves himself.
Would this Epsom salt bath be helpful to a goldfish with genetic swim bladder problems? Thank you.
<MgSO4 will not do anything of value here; no.
Re: Reply to previous email about fish with genetic swim bladder       1/6/18

Thank you Bob.
<W. C.>
Re: Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem       1/6/18

Thank you Neal. How much Epsom salt should I use per gallon of water?
<A tablespoon per 5 gallons is the usual recommended amount. I would recommend doing a big water change afterwards though -- while Epsom salt is safe for a few weeks, you don't really want it sitting in the pond indefinitely. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Trying to treat my fish with the genetic swim bladder problem       1/6/18

Thank you Neal.
<You're welcome. Neale.>
Me again on the Oranda with swim bladder problem      1/6/18

I tried an Epsom salt bath before you replied to me before. It could be just wishful thinking but he is swimming upright a little more than he has been recently. Or so I think... But he is still doing his headstands.
Should I try to continue the Epsom salt baths?
<Definitely worth a shot. If you can extend the baths for a few hours in a large bucket or even a Rubbermaid container holding a couple gallons, that's fine! Repeat daily for a couple weeks and see what happens.>
Some sites suggest that if nothing else helps to euthanize the fish.
<Epsom salt? Not really toxic. A good euthanising method is quick and painless. Epsom salt would have to be used in a massive concentration such that'd it'd kill the fish by osmosis, effectively like putting salt on a slug. Hardly humane.>
I have looked into everything I could hoping it was not a genetic problem but I fear it is. Should I euthanize the fish?
<If the fish is swimming and feeding normally, I would not; I prefer to euthanise fish only when they have no chance of recovery and their quality of life is low (e.g., they can't feed any more).>
Thank you.
<Welcome, Neale.>

Aquatic Turtle Beh.; "Sittin' on the dock of the bay..."  Repro.      12/27/17
<Hiya Darrel here>
i have 3 must turtles(2 females 1 male)in a large tank, one of the turtles is spending a lot of time on the docking station, is she looking for somewhere to lay her eggs?
<When they become gravid (with eggs) they get very active, nervous and almost frantic>
.Also don't have enough space in my house to separate the turtles to make another nest for her to lay them, if she is looking to lay eggs, will she just lay them in the tank?
<Yes, or she will just re-absorb them. It's not a problem at all>
<That said, Bradley - when a turtle changes behavior, watch it very closely. Is it alert and active? Does she eat? If she just wants to bask more, that's OK - but if she's not active and stopped eating THAT is a sign we need to talk about>
Kind Regards Bradley Saunders

RES; shells      12/27/17
Dear Crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have 2 Red eared Sliders in a 40 gallon tank- approx. 15 gallons water to swim in. large basking areas at various distances from lamps. I have noticed that the edges of the shells are becoming transparent.
<Wonderful. That means they are growing and the scutes become transparent before they shed>
Water is changed about every 10 days.
Please help.
Any suggestions?

High flow in shrimp tank.     12/26/17
So, my air pump broke for my bubble filter for my ten gallon shrimp tank.
<Oh no!>
So I had to find something else to filter the aquarium.
However, I also have a bamboo shrimp.
<Nice animals. Not too difficult to keep.>
So I decided to use a Fluval C4 filter I had laying around. Again, this tank is only ten gallons and the lowest flow setting is about 150 gph, so 15x turnover.
<Probably a bit much.>
I have covered the intake with a fine mesh media bag. Will high affect shrimp breeding?
<In fairness, probably not, since these shrimps do live in quite fast flowing streams.>
My bamboo shrimp loves the high flow, but I'm kind of concerned about the cherry shrimp.
<I'd see what happens! I've seen shrimp juveniles living inside filters, so I don't think they're overly bothered by high flow rates. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: High flow in shrimp tank.     12/26/17

I forgot to mention that I have a lot cover for the shrimp to refuge on. I actually plan to keep the filter on since it would replicate their natural habitat, maybe get a slightly slower filter, at max 10x turnover. My bamboo shrimp is a lot more happier and easier to feed since now I can just blanket feed. Thanks!
<All sounds ideal. All these shrimps are adapted to flowing water, so they should be fine with moderately high currents. Bamboo Shrimps are certainly demanding in terms of food, often starving to death in ordinary community
tanks. I'd be careful about overfeeding though, as high nitrate can be an problem. Cheers, Neale.>

Taiwan bee shrimp breeding     12/26/17
hey, i have a question about breeding Taiwan bees.
<Fire away.>
i am keeping Neocaridina spp., but i have decided to upgrade to the finer shrimps.
<Not sure what you mean by "finer" here. Do you mean the more expensive, difficult to breed shrimps? Or simply the smaller shrimps?>
i don't know much on the biology of breeding Taiwan bees, but my friend gave me some of his shadow pandas and snow white bees. i know you shouldn't mix Neocaridina spp, but can you put these two in the same tank without
<It is unwise to mix any species from the same genera. So mixing Caridina species is a bad idea. While some species might not hybridise, I don't think there's enough evidence to give a categorical "yes" or "no".
Experience of Neocaridina is certainly that these species frequently hybridise. Furthermore, most of the 'fancy' Caridina shrimps are simply selected (i.e., artificially bred) varieties of a single species, Caridina cantonensis. Mixing these in the same tank will definitely result in hybrids. Taiwan Bees, Crystal Reds and Royal Blues are all tank-bred forms of Caridina cantonensis. (Caridina cantonensis is, incidentally, very variable in the wild, Red Tigers and Crystal Blacks being names we've given to naturally occurring forms.>
i just want snow white bees and shadow pandas, no mixes.
<Both of these are artificial forms of Caridina cantonensis. So yes, they will cross breed happily.>
also, will shadow pandas eventually turn into something else, like a black king Kong? what about the snow white bees?
<Good quality artificial forms should "breed true", being homozygous with regard to particular colouration and patterning genes. This means that if you have, for example, a tank of Shadow Panda Shrimps, all the offspring should be Shadow Pandas. Doesn't always work this way of the quality isn't good, and some specimens are heterozygous. Anything recessive, not showing up in the original parental, or P, generation, may turn up in the F1
will they turn into golden bees? i don't mind golden bees, but will they turn into something else? i read several breeding charts but they are telling me different things.
<Well, hope the above helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Taiwan bee shrimp breeding     12/27/17

What would happen if you cross breed them? Will you get Blue Bolts?
<Off the top of my head, no idea. But I can tell you if you say "thanks" people put a lot more effort into things like replies to questions! Cheers and beers, Neale.>
Re: Taiwan bee shrimp breeding     12/27/17

sorry for my rudeness, i just had more questions that I forgot to include.
<No problem.>
I'm only an eight year old kid so... hopefully that's good enough excuse lol.
<I guess...>
Got more to learn i guess. but jokes aside, so if not blue bolts, what will they turn into if they interbreed?
<Incredibly hard to predict. Yes, new varieties are produced by cross-breeding existing varieties. But more often than not, this sort of cross-breeding causes the shrimps to return to something more similar to the wild shrimps. Why? Because artificial varieties have specific sets of alleles (i.e., versions of genes) that tend to be all jumbled up in the wild type. Think about dogs. Labradors, poodles, greyhounds all have different sub-sets of genes found in wolves. When producing greyhounds, people chose the best genes for running fast. But put all those dogs together on an island, and then come back in ten years and you'll find not Labradors, poodles and greyhounds -- but wolf-like dogs that have sort of "averaged out" all the different genes those three dog breeds originally had. Make sense? So while cross-breeding labs and poodles has created labradoodles, mostly cross-breeding dogs ends up with mutts. Do Google "Caridina cantonensis family tree" to get a lovely chart showing how the different varieties are related.>
cuz if it is something cool, then i won't mind mixing them together. i kinda don't like the look of a divider.
<An option.>
again, sorry for the rudeness, i just wasn't done asking questions, my bad.
on the other hand, thank you very much!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Taiwan bee shrimp breeding     12/27/17

ok, now i got my info, i have some final questions. so, according to the chart, low grade crystal reds will eventually turn into snow white bees after a time of selective breeding.
<Presumably, but I think that assumes you actively select shrimps that look more and more like Snow White shrimps at each generation. If you just allow "low grade" Crystal Reds (which presumably means they're not true-breeding)
to breed amongst themselves, you're simply going to end up with more low grade Crystal Reds.>
i know you said that good quality forms will keep its pattern.
<True-breeding is the phrase you're looking for. Homozygous is the technical term. If both parents ONLY have the desired genes (and remember, every animal has two copies of each gene) then whatever happens, they'll produce offspring with only those genes. True-breeding animals are expensive for this reason, and oftentimes breeders won't release one of the sexes. So if you were a Taiwanese shrimp breeder, you might only sell true-breeding males. This means anyone else would have to cross those true-breeding shrimps with some "mutt" shrimp of unknown genetics, and hope some of the offspring were what you wanted. While that'd work, the resulting offspring wouldn't be true-breeding. It'd take years to establish a true-breeding line, which costs time and money. This all helps that Taiwanese guy maximise his income from his hard work, while ensuring nobody else can "cash in" from it.>
however, for example like shadow pandas, wouldn't the blue become more dominant over time?
<Not necessarily. Very simply, suppose there are two alleles for colour, which we'll call "R" for "red", and "r" for "blue". Each shrimp gets two copies of this gene, one from its mom, one from its dad. If those parents are true-breeding blues, they'd both have "rr" as their two copies, so whatever genes they passed onto their offspring, the only possible combination would be "rr", so all the offspring would be blue. With me so far? Now suppose they're non-true breeding reds. Then the two parents could both be "Rr". Mom could pass on either an "R" or an "r", and dad could also pass on either an "R" or an "r". For any given four baby shrimps, on average, one would get the combination "RR" from the two parents, two babies would get "Rr", and one baby "rr". In other words, one would be a true-breeding red, two non-true-breeding reds, and one a true-breeding blue. This basic idea is called the Mendelian Inheritance, and in the UK at least, we teach it in high school. Often the kids think it's pretty irrelevant to day-to-day life, but as you can see, the moment you start breeding animals or plants, it becomes really important! Crucially, traits don't vanish even if they skip a generation -- those baby shrimps that were non-breeding reds might look red to us, but they could produce blue shrimps when they bred among themselves.>
to the point where you see no black?
<As explained, breeding animals isn't like mixing paint. Unless you actively select the darkest shrimps with each generation, and only breed those, then Mendelian Inheritance takes over, and you get roughly the same proportions of alleles (the different versions of genes) from one generation to the next.>
I do like the mix of black and light blue, rather than just light blue.
what about the snow whites? since they are the highest grade possible, will they just stay like that?
<Only if they are true breeding.>
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: Taiwan bee shrimp breeding     12/27/17

ok, so im guessing that finding a pair (preferably more) of shrimp with the homozygous traits that i want, is basically a gamble then. am i right?
<Indeed. But good quality strains sold as true breeding should be homozygous for the traits you want. If they're sold as true breeding, then by definition, any offspring will be more or less identical to their parents.>
or is there a way to tell, which im guessing there isn't,
<Some traits are only seen in the homozygous state. For example, blue eyes in humans are always homozygous because the blue-eye allele is recessive:
two blue-eyed parents will normally only produce blue-eyed children. By contrast, the brown-eye allele is dominant. So brown-eye people could have two brown-eye alleles, or one brown and one blue-eye allele. As such, two brown-eye people can, and do, produce blue-eye children, potentially up to 25% of the time if both parents are heterozygous. So: you'd need to establish (perhaps reading online, or asking on pet shrimp forums) which traits (such as colours or stripes) are caused by recessive alleles, and therefore only seen in homozygous shrimps. Get those shrimps, and they should be true-breeding, right from the start!>
especially purchasing online.
btw thank you very much, i learned a lot about biology today, considering that i am very young.
<Glad to help, and good to know you're open to learning new stuff. Have fun! Neale.>

20 gal Betta setup     12/26/17
Hi all, I am in the process of collecting data and equipment for a new fish tank. (My Christmas present to me!)
<Cutting out the middle man, eh? I like your style!>
I purchased a 20 gal Innovative Marine Nuvo Nano 20 long tank, 24Lx15Wx13H.
It is made for a saltwater setup, but I am going to use it for freshwater.
The 3 viewing sides are the 2 short and one long. The other long side houses the pump and two micron filter "socks," with room for (but not included) a media reactor, and a skimmer. I also ordered an LED light bridge and I already purchased a 75W Jager heater (still need a thermometer). We keep our house pretty cool.
<Understood. Now, marine tanks can be fine tanks for freshwater species, but with a couple comments. Firstly, the skimmer probably won't work, and since they mix air with water, they do drive off dissolved CO2, which can
be a nuisance if you're growing demanding plants. Secondly, the lighting is very bright and blue, and while appreciated by many, perhaps most plants, without some shading, fish can be a bit overwhelmed by it. Most of the fish we keep come from rainforest streams and other fairly shady habitats. The light can also stimulate a lot of algae, and without fast-growing plants to hold them back, the algae can become a nuisance.>
It came with the socks and a 221 GPH pump with two outflow flare nozzles.
My first question is, what other filtration do I need?
<Unlikely to need more filtration than the tank already comes with, if the filter is designed for marine fishkeeping. It's more about the media. Plain ceramic noodles will be fine. But if there's anything calcareous in there,
designed to buffer the pH in marine tanks, you won't want to use that.>
I also read about ways to reduce the flow, one was by putting a sponge or diverter on the outflow.(other ideas?)
<Both of these are viable. Directing the spray bar at the glass rather than into the water will diffuse the current out quite a bit. But if the turnover is much over 4 times per hour, that's going to be way too much for Bettas. Ordinary community fish are happiest around 6-8 times turnover rates, while Hillstream fish and messy fish (such as Plecs) you go for 10 times per hour, closer to marine levels. Given your system is about 20 gallons, and the filter contains a 221 gallon per hour pump, you're already at turnover of 11 times per hour -- much to much for all but those "rheophilic" freshwater species specifically adapted to living in strong currents. Now, you could embrace that, and choose species of freshwater fish that like those conditions: Stiphodon gobies, Sewellia Hillstream loaches, Schistura loaches, and so on. But if you're set on keeping a fancy Betta, then you will need to cut the flow rate A LOT, by something like 70-80%. You might simply not connect up the filter, and leave it to one side for now, perhaps for use in the future if you decide to keep marines or for that matter attached to a bigger freshwater tank where the flow rate won't be an issue. On a 40-50 gallon tank, for example, this filter would be fine for even Angelfish and Gouramis! If that's the case, then a plain vanilla air-powered sponge or box filter is absolutely the idea for Bettas.
Minimal current, good water quality, and a cinch to maintain.>
I would like to have a sand substrate (ok?),
and I also plan to use live plants (java fern, java moss on a piece of driftwood, Anacharis, Vallisneria, hornwort, Frogbit (any of these not do well in sand? Other recommendations?) for simplicity's sake, maybe limit it to 3 or 5 varieties?
<A thin layer of sand is easy to install, clean and maintain. That being the case, skipping plants with roots is the easiest approach. Bogwood with epiphytes such as Java Moss, Anubias, Bolbitis, Java Fern are all easy to
grow, though personally, I find Anubias to be the most attractive and easiest to grow. Control algae with floating plants. Amazon Frogbit and Indian Fern are the two easiest, handling aquarium hoods rather better than most of the others, provided you're happy to trim away any surface leaves that get burned. The others, like Salvinia, look nice, but they're a bit more sensitive to burning under aquarium lights. By all means experiment with them, but don't worry if you fail to keep them alive for long.
Elodea-type things, like Anacharis, will root if they can, but clumps can do well under bright light just left floating about.>
How many total plants?
<Hardly matters. If the plants do well, one or two species will take over the tank, and pruning them back will be the issue. Unless you're a gardening nut, it's often easier to choose 2-3 easy plants that will get along and thrive in your tank. Indian Fern for example makes fabulous floating greenery, and the shade it produces suits Anubias and Java Fern perfectly. In the same way, in real habitats only contain one or two plant species in the 'square footage' we're talking about in aquaria. So having dozens of species is gardening, not really authentic landscaping.>
I researched compatible tank mates for a Betta (the star!), and I like the following:
a school of something (rasboras (harlequin or galaxy), and I like those Rummynose tetras - how many?),
<Galaxy Rasboras need lower temperatures and brisker currents than Bettas, so they're a no. Harlequins are usually okay with Bettas, and Rummynose Tetras are very peaceful, though quite a bit more demanding (e.g., for soft
water) than the Rasboras. So while either species should be fine, keep an eye on them.>
a Bristlenose and/or rubber-lipped Pleco,
<Both are fine with Bettas, but the Rubber-Lipped Plec, Chaetostoma sp., needs cool, fast-flowing water, so again that's a 'no'. Generic farmed Ancistrus are better in tanks with low turnover rates, but do bear in mind that the wild fish, and certainly the most sensitive species, do want cool, brisk water conditions much like the Chaetostoma.>
panda or dwarf corys (how many? A source said four or more),
<Potentially either, but I think Corydoras panda would be more fun.
Corydoras habrosus and the like are small, nervous, and don't do well alongside bigger fish.>
a dwarf or Kuhli loach (again, how many? Other varieties?),
<Kuhli Loaches make first rate companions for Bettas.>
some cherry shrimp (ok? . they look so cool!)
<Often get eaten by Bettas, so while doable, it will depend on how many you get, how well they can hide, and whether their breeding rate offsets occasional predation of juveniles by the Betta.>
and some or one (?) Nerite and/or mystery or apple snails - I read that some Bettas will nip the eye stalks off (or whatever those are). Have you heard of that?
<Yes; I would go with Nerites, or for that matter, Assassin Snails, as ideal scavengers for a Betta aquarium. Similar needs, almost no risk of them multiplying too fast.>
Any plants or other special considerations that are "required" by any of the livestock I mentioned? Any of them not get along with each other?
<Oh, so much could be said about Bettas; do let me direct you to some reading, here:
Plus Bob Fenner's eBook on Bettas might well be a couple bucks well spent if you're looking for money/lifesaving tips.>
I got the 20 gal because everything I read said bigger is better - "dilution is the answer to pollution". I would love some guidance for a balanced tank that might include some of the livestock mentioned above and any "bewares" that are not especially obvious. I do plan to take my time to get everything cycled - I am retired, but as a former computer programmer my motto was, if you don't have time to do it right the first time, you don't have time to do it over. And in this case there could be greater consequences - the death of the fishes!
<Understood; do follow the links up top at the page just linked to. Many FAQs and articles on compatibility, systems, etc.>
I have outdoor goldfish ponds also. To get them started in the spring, I have some microbial powder. I don't suppose I can put a pinch of that in the aquarium to jump start the bacterial population?
<Worth a shot. But floating plants especially bring a lot of the same microbes to a new system, and to some extent Bettas can tolerate less than perfect water quality for a while, so between the plants and daily water changes, the cycling process will be a lot less difficult here than in a community tank.>
Thanks in advance! I happened upon your website and it has a LOT of information. I apologize if any of this has been answered elsewhere.
<Not a problem.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Stick catfish (Farlowella vittata)      12/25/17
<Hi Judy,>
There are probably others with other scientific names, but I just saw these at the local fish store.
<Indeed; Farlowella species are difficult to identify, and other species, such as Farlowella acus, are probably imported indiscriminately.>
Do these guys need a lot of current and oxygenated water?
<Absolutely. These are classic stream biotope fish. Relatively cool water (no more than 25 C/77 F) and plenty of oxygen are essential. High water turnover rates are not essential, but moderate current at least should be
provided, so a decent filter must be used. I'd suggest a water turnover rate around 8 times per hour. Frequent water changes important as well, though a lightly stocked tank with plenty of plants will minimise this
requirement a bit. Keep the nitrate low, and ammonia and nitrite at zero.
Water hardness should be relatively low, maybe 1-12 degrees dH, and a pH around 6-7.>
I read that they need to be kept in groups, so that would mean males and females and offspring to deal with.
<Breeding is rare. Most folks struggle to keep them alive for more than a few months simply because they aren't suited to overstocked community tanks with second-rate filters. In a nice clean tank with decent current and
other stream-dwelling fish, such as Danios, these fish aren't especially difficult to keep. Starvation is the second biggest issue with them, after water quality. Algae is central, primarily green algae, but algae wafers are eaten. They aren't "algae eaters" in the sense of consuming problematic algae though, and shouldn't be left to fend for themselves.>
Thank you
<Welcome. Neale.>

Deworming zebra Otocinclus question      12/24/17
<Hello Andrew,>
I recently got 4 zebra Otos, from 2 different stores. They have been at the store at least a month (some of them have been there for two months).
They're not super skinny but not super fat either. Given this I suspect they don't have any overly severe issues, but my default assumption is that wild fish like these will have some sort of intestinal parasites.
<While that's possible, the biggest source of mortality with Otocinclus is plain old starvation. These are small fish, and like other small fish, probably have enough body fat (or however fish store energy) to easily last a couple weeks. Beyond that, they're in starvation mode. This matters because from the point of capture to the day they're introduced to the home aquarium can easily be months, and in that time they're usually not getting anything close to sufficient green algae and micro-invertebrates to keep them well fed. So while there's no harm -- and probably some benefit -- from the standard issue PraziPro de-worming treatment, I'd be more worried about getting them to eat properly. A bright light over the tank, ample green algae, plenty of oxygen, and lowish temperatures (22-24C/72-75F is optimal) are the order of the day here. If you don't have sufficient green algae -- and that's the algae they need -- then good quality algae wafers, such as those from Hikari, do the trick nicely.>
For now I have them in their own 5 gallon tank where I can easily observe and feed them.
I have seen it suggested that Praziquantel followed by Metronidazole is effective. Does this sound like a good protocol?
<Yes, though any particular reason you want to use Metronidazole?>
How long should the treatments last?
<Do follow the instructions on the packaging. Combining medications is possible if the manufacturers state it is, but honestly, unless dealing with a critically ill fish, I prefer to handle things in a more organic way -- start off with optimal diet and living conditions; if warranted, de-worming; and only if the fishes were still not responding positively, would I break out the antibiotics and/or Metronidazole.>
I have not had good luck in the past with getting fish to eat medicated food.
Thanks, and a happy holidays to the team,
<And to you, enjoy your winter solstice festivities! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Deworming zebra Otocinclus question      12/25/17

Hi Neale,
Thanks for the response!
<Most welcome.>
There's no particular reason I want to use Metronidazole, other than that I've seen it suggested. My guess was it may help with some parasites that Praziquantel may miss.
<Possibly. Metro is primarily used (with fish, at least) for Hexamita and other protozoan parasites.>
But based on your comments I'm guessing it's rather harsh on the fish?
<Not aware of any specific problems in all honesty, and Metronidazole is often used with quite sick fish when nothing else will help. It's more a cost/benefit thing, in my mind. Look at it this way: Otocinclus are inexpensive, and if you buy ten, and one or two die, but the others sail through quarantine and fatten up nicely, that's going to be a lot cheaper than buying a smaller school of Otocinclus and medicating with PraziPro and Metronidazole with the aim of ensuring all of them survive. No guarantees, mind, either way! But with small, cheap fish, I'm more minded to buy slightly more than you want, fatten up with optimal diet/environment, and then see what happens before medicating.>
Thanks again,
<Welcome. Neale.>

Re: Can I write for your site?       11/27/17
Hello Bob,
<Hey Katie!>
Good morning and I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Please see the attached article for the guest post on your website. Do let me know if this is fine and if we can proceed with publishing this on your site. Thanks!
<Mmm; I do like what you've done, thus far. This piece needs to be expanded by twice plus though... less than 800 words is too short. And do you have graphics, images to go with it? I'd add examples of what you refer to in your key points; perhaps an S.O.P on cleaning, testing decor before using it. Bob Fenner>
Re: Can I write for your site?   11/28/17
Hello Bob,
I can go ahead expand this piece, do you think 1000 words would do?
<Closer to 1,400 would be better>
I will send over the images also.
Let me know. Thanks!
<WWM doesn't pay much for such work ($150 for not-universal rights); so, I would like to help you sell your work first to other media (likely Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine). Would you like my help making this introduction, submission to them? Bob Fenner>
Re: Can I write for your site?     11/29/17

Hi Bob,
Thanks for letting me know about this. Can you tell me more about what selling my article to other media entails?
<Yes; I will fashion a cover letter of introduction, send off your work explaining to editors of 'zines I know that you are a new content provider, introducing you (and cc'ing you of course). Have done this many times. Bob Fenner>
Re: Can I write for your site?     12/4/17

Hi Bob,
<Hey Katie>
Thanks for clarifying that, maybe it's something we can do in the future?
<Sure; it is just an offer... to introduce you to the process, editors; to help you make a bit more money, become a bit more known in the content provision field>
How about getting the article posted on your WWM site? :)
<That's fine if that is what you want. Still need images, expansion of the piece. Bob Fenner>
Re: Can I write for your site?    12/5/17

Ok great. Let me work on that and I will send it your way. Thanks!
<Real good Katie. BobF>
Re: Can I write for your site?      12/12/17

Hello Bob!
Good morning! Please see the attached expanded guest post for your website.
As for the image we can use this:
<A stock image?>
Let me know what you think about this and how you get on publishing it.
<I'd guess we'd insert such free use content in your work where you think it fits. BobF>
Re: Can I write for your site?     12/13/17

Hi Bob,
You are right. I was thinking at the beginning of the article?
<Do please send along the finished piece, w/ whatever images when you're done. BobF>
Re: Can I write for your site?    12/23/17

Hey Bob,
Good morning! Just following up on the article to see if you've had the chance to review it?
<Have, had done so... am waiting for your final, semi-final draft, with graphics placement>
Let me know please. Thanks!
<Welcome. B>


Freshwater Aquarium  Articles & FAQs

  • Set-Up: Gear/Components:, Set-Up, Tanks, Stands, Covers:, Water, Filtration of All Sorts, Sumps, Refugiums:, Circulation, Pumps, Powerheads, Aeration, Electricity, Heating/Chilling,  Light/Lighting:; Types of Systems:, Substrates, Aquascaping:
  • Livestock 1: Stocking/Selection, Biotopes, Quarantine, Acclimation. Fishes: Stingrays, Inadvanced Bony Fishes, Eels, Tetras & Their Relatives, Killifishes, Livebearers, Catfishes, Goldfish, Barbs, Danios, Rasboras, Minnow Sharks, Loaches, Misc. Fish Groups

    New Print and eBook on Amazon

    Goldfish Success
    What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term

    by Robert (Bob) Fenner

    Livestock 2: Gouramis, Bettas, Cichlids, Fresh to Brackish Water Fishes, Invertebrates (Hydra, Worms, Snails, Insects, Crustaceans...),

    New Print and eBook on Amazon

    Betta Success
    Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

    by Robert (Bob) Fenner

  • Herps: Amphibians, Turtles,
  • Maintenance/Operation: General Maintenance, Algae, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health,
  • Freshwater Aquarium Science:  Behavior, Topics, Reference and Aquatics Writing Business, Reviews, 

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