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FAQs on Mochokid, Synodontis Cats and More: Health

Related Articles: Mochokid Catfishes,

Related Catfish FAQs: Mochokid (Synodontis...) Catfishes 1, Mochokid Cats 2, & FAQs on Mochokid Cats Identification, Mochokid Cats Behavior, Mochokid Cats Compatibility, Mochokid Cats Selection, Mochokid Cats Systems, Mochokid Cats Feeding, Mochokid Cats Reproduction, & General Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction,

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

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

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

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

Upside Down Catfish... hlth.     2/6/13
I have a ten gallon tank with the residents of: 1 male Crowntail Beta
<Betta… as in "better", not "beater"…>
(our pride and joy), three upside down catfish, and one Pleco (All of them are two inches with the exception of the Betta). We just treated our tank for a fungus, either Ich or cotton, with Fungus Guard.
<Ich isn't a fungus and won't be cured by fungus cures. The immediate problem is likely the size of the tank… 10 gallons is far too small for these fish in the long term. 20 gallons might be okay for the Betta and a single Dwarf Upside-Down Catfish, Dwarf Upside-Down Catfish are social and prefer to be kept in groups of 3+ specimens, as you're doing, and you'd probably want 25-30 gallons for that. The commonest Plec is some species of Pterygoplichthys; these get to 30 cm/12 inches in the first year, and 45 cm/18 inches within 2-3 years. Even a 55-gallon tank would be tight.>
Within four days, the fungus on our Betta was gone and now he's simply constipated, we're helping him with that now. Well, today my husband noticed one of our upside down catfish was skimming the top of our tank, bumping into our Betta etc. (Our Betta is friendly) I told him that he does it every now and again and that I'd look it up to see if it was serious.
Well, while I was researching this I decided to check up on our fish. And our catfish looked dead. He wasn't moving. I was about to grab the net and put him in a bowl to make sure 100% dead and not just sick when he went nuts.
He sped around the tank for a solid ten second and then just stopped. I waited, hoping he was okay but, it looked like he had finally died. So I scooped him up and put him in his tank bowl and then...
He was fine. I started, completely bewildered at his sudden change. And waited for a couple of minutes. He was acting like a normal upside down catfish. So I decided to put him back. He went to looking dead again, floating around the tank. Eventually, with me constantly watching him, he kinda went normal. He was hid under a leaf and just a few moments ago, started to patrol the top of the tank and is chilling next to the Betta again.
Is he going to be okay?
<Hard to say. The dead/manic thing happens with fish, but it's usually a bad sign, and typical of fish under extreme stress or sickness. Fish have a special reflex used to escape from threats called the Mauthner Response, and it's likely this still works even if the rest of the fish is "dozy" or "knocked out".>
The other two catfish are fine, as with the Pleco and Betta. Its just him acting like this. I also did a water test and the tank is fine and healthy. Although he is smaller than the other two catfish...
I'm sending a picture of him as well. Please, help!
<Without useful information on this aquarium, such as nitrite levels and how long the tank has been running it's hard to say what's going on. Assuming the filter is mature (i.e., the tank is 6+ weeks old) and nitrite levels are zero things may right themselves. Long term though the size of the tank will be a factor. Synodontis species are very hardy and long-lived (my three Dwarf Upside-Down Catfish are around 8 years old) but they do have their limits. As with all catfish, be careful with medications, and avoid those containing copper and formalin. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Upside Down Catfish    2/6/13

The tank we have had been set up for about ten to twelve weeks.
<Ah, the plot thinnens. Likely the water quality isn't good, hence the fish are/have been stressed.>
The test I did for the tank today had these results:
No3 = 40,
<Bit high, but shouldn't harm these species. Try to keep below this level though.>
No2 = looks like .5 to 1,
<Why your fish are sick. Needs to be zero.>
pH = 7.5, KH = 80, and GH = looks 60 ish
<All fine.>
What could I do about our catfish's stress?
<More frequent water changes in the short term, at least daily 20% until nitrite is zero. Don't feed the fish at all if nitrite isn't zero. How big is the Plec? These are gross (in the sense of amount) feeders, and pollute small tanks.>
We put in live plants about nine weeks back and they have grown large.
<Good.>
Our fish love hiding in the largest one, a lush red one. They also have a fake log and a "rock" alcove to hide and feed. We also only have had these catfish for about four or five weeks. And it seems that the catfish is still at the top, I think he's calmed some, kind of floating, near the Betta.
<Not natural or normal. The damage may be done, but still, good water quality (no nitrite or ammonia) plus time could turn things around; a general antibiotic like Maracyn Plus would help too.>
And we have been looking for a larger tank so we can make a new community and have a larger home for our Pleco. Is a 75 to much? Or should I go 50?
<As stated early, Plecs grow big and they grow fast, and being the fish equivalent of cows, they produce a lot of faeces as well as ammonia.
Honestly, while you could keep one in a 55 gallon system, such a tank would be messy and smelly so hardly worth it. I'd strongly suggest swapping for a Bristlenose Plec (Ancistrus sp.). These are smaller (to 12 cm/5 inches) and MUCH better algae-eaters. They'd be IDEAL for your community. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Upside Down Catfish    2/7/13
Our Pleco is only two, two and a half inches long (with tail fin), we don't know his exact species, just that he's a Pleco and in the last few (4 or so) months he grew half an inch. The store sold him as an Albino Oscar, but he's just a plain albino Pleco. He does have what looks like really small "horns" a little bit away from his eyes closer to his mouth.
<If you're really lucky, he's an albino Ancistrus. Use Google. Latin names help here. The alternative is an albino Pterygoplichthys. These are the ones that grow gigantic.>
Also the plants are growing large and since we only have a few, how do you cut a stem off and grow it?
<Depends on the plant species. Each is different. Prune them wrong, and they die.>
Do you have to wait a certain amount of time?
<In some cases, yes.>
Also did the 20% water change for today. Going to update on my catfish when he shows signs of getting better or worse. Thank you, guys so much and sorry for bothering you!
Sincerely, Sarah
<Welcome, Neale.>

Sick Catfish    7/16/12
Hi,
<Lese>
I am hoping you have some advice on my sick fish.
<Me too>
I have a 180 Litre tank with a canister filter system, heater and air stone, some plastic plants and a helicopter ornament.  I have 9 catfish.  2 Bristlenose, 2 Synodontis petricola, 2 Synodontis multipunctatus, 3 Synodontis ocellifer. They are all 3 years old which is how long I have had the tank.  I also have 2 Electric Yellows approximately 4 months old.  My Silver Shark
<Mmm, what species is this? Balantiocheilus, the Ariid cat?>
 died 2 days ago, he had been darting around the tank for the past week, he jumped out when i fed them a few days ago too. 
<Mmm... either trauma or summat wrong w/ water quality... or both>
His eyes were slightly cloudy. He seemed to have some blood around his fins. I do one third water changes every 3 weeks and clean the filter every 3-4 months. 
<I'd change this to weekly and monthly respectively>

I did move house 2 months ago.  My  catfish are looking really sick now and I am not quite sure what to do.
 I took a water sample in to be tested 2 days ago they told me all the levels seemed fine ammonia was maybe slightly high
<Very toxic>
but nothing that should cause a problem. 
<?!>

They thought perhaps velvet disease? 
<Where would this come from? No>
They gave me Bactonix and told me to run that through the tank whilst doing a partial water change every 2nd day.  I have treated the tank with 40ml of Bactonix.
<May further interfere w/ nitrification>

  I have since noticed lots of very long white poop, almost like cobwebs or hair strands?
<Could very well be environmental in cause>
The 2 Multipunctatus Catfish are sitting right in front of the water outlet spray from the filter they have not moved for days.  The Ocellifer Catfish have very cloudy eyes, they are limp/lethargic and look so unwell.  All the catfish have blood under their fins.  I have a glass thermometer inside the tank which reads 25’C- the heater is usually set between 26’C – 28’C- i just turned it up slightly however. 
Hoping you can get back to me soon.
Thanks.
Regards
Lisa
<I'd be treating the water to cycle the system for sure; read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
monitoring nitrogenous accumulation
and using activated carbon, Polyfilter or such as a chemical absorbent. Bob Fenner>

Sick Synodontis catfish 11/21/11
Hi, I decided what do I have to lose by trying out your site.
<? What do you have to gain?>
First the basic details of my setup.
150 gal aquarium
Six Synodontis eupterus.
Fluval FX5 filter and one large power filter.
A couple of flower pots as hiding places.
<Need more; as many as specimens>
Normally water changes are fifty percent once a month.
Tank has been running for many years.

Last spring when I added the Fluval FX5 on, I goofed up because I thought I had enough bio media in the tank to cycle the filter without a problem. I didn't and ammonia levels shot up overnight.
One of the Synodontis, Ellen nearly died because she has a gill injury. I followed up by huge water changes, Zeolite and saving Ellen by sticking her in a small floating bucket with oxygen stones and an airstone running in it. It got to the point where Ellen would just lay in the bucket and I was afraid to look in because fish laying on the bottom usually means impending death. None of the Synodontis seemed distressed by this.
Trouble started or was noticed as one of my Synos, Killington was losing his barbels.
<From? Fighting w/ the others? The only one thus affected?>
I was on forums and got the test your water response. So I tested the water and it was fine.
I started trouble shooting never the less, I started doing extra water changes. I rinsed about half of the gravel in tank water and still no improvement. Moved the hiding places to access gravel for cleaning and while this was going on the Synodontis huddled in the corner a lot. Then I came one morning and found another Synodontis, Abraham injured with wound roughly the size of a quarter on the side/flank area. Extra water changes continued. What I think was fungus was setting in so I removed Abraham to a thirty gal sick tank with the power filter to avoid new tank syndrome.
Now I cleaned out the filter using water from the tank to rinse the filter media and after was done, ammonia started raising, so besides continuing the extra water changes, I put in Zeolite. After this Killington started to decline more in health. He was bottom sitting, breathing more rapidly and getting quite skinny. I continued the extra water changes, added in Zeolite and borrowed two internal Fluval filters from another tank. When this didn't work, I removed Killington into the sick tank with Abraham. Abraham was treated with bio bandage, salt and Melafix. I bought some Maroxy fungus meds and didn't end up having to use it. I was puzzled as Ellen the one who had the awful reaction before was now fine.
I started trying to troubleshoot the issue and had decided the problem was them being upset, huddling in the corner and thus some quarrels broke out...Never the less I'm more concerned about saving the sick fish then solving the original cause at the moment.
After searching for a diagnoses which I spent some precious time one thinking I can't put in meds for a mystery illness. The people on the internet forums were no help . I went with internal bacteria infection as my best guess. I found a post that said a swollen anus indicates a bacteria infection and he had that going on.
More looking towards the internet for answers and getting none to choose a med to use.
<No medicine necessary or advised>
Not only was I unsure of which was the best med to use, I wasn't sure what was safe for scaleless fish. Once again..back on the internet for answers and getting responses like "test your water" which I was doing every day to make sure ammonia was gone. I decided on fish Mox knowing that if it failed, it would hurt Abraham too.
I also put in: Melafix, prime and Zeolite just in case the ammonia went up in that tank.
<... not a fan of the "fixes"; as you'd known had you searched/read on WWM>
Now here I must admit I care more about Killington then Abraham. Killington is from my older trio and around 18-20 yrs old. Killington is also my favorite of this tank I'm trying very hard to save him. I added the younger trio many years later.
So at this point both Killington and Abraham are in the thirty gal sick tank. Abraham is doing well, the fungus cleared up and the wound is healing.
So my worries rest mostly with Killington who is thin, mostly bottom sitting and I can't get him to eat. I'm afraid if the infection doesn't clear up soon, he's going to starve to death.
I don't know if the meds are working or if he's slowly going to his demise. It's been going on for days now and there he doesn't seem to be getting worse or better. I've considered maybe I should force feed him with medical food such as penicillin. I've tried to feed with frozen foods such as krill and bloodworms just in case and then take them out in the morning.
I was going to remove Abraham after the five days of treatment with fish Mox was over to be put back into the main tank on Tuesday. I figured I'd wipe the wound once more with the bio bandage as I'm doing the transfer. If Killington is still alive by then, I wanted to start another antibiotic treatment.
<I'd put all these Mochokids back in the main/display tank, provide more hiding spaces. No more chemical additions. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Synodontis catfish 11/27/11

Hi, I decided what do I have to lose by trying out your site.
<? What do you have to gain?>
I suppose exploring a new site. ( new to me).
<<Aye>>
First the basic details of my setup.
150 gal aquarium
Six Synodontis eupterus.
Fluval FX5 filter and one large power filter.
A couple of flower pots as hiding places.
<Need more; as many as specimens>
There has been a flowerpot/cave for each Synodontis. They could each go into their own cave, but they don't want to.
<<Ahh, like small children...>>
Normally water changes are fifty percent once a month.
<<Due to vagaries in modern water quality, I'd change less, every week... 20-25% max.>>
Tank has been running for many years.
Last spring when I added the Fluval FX5 on, I goofed up because I thought I had enough bio media in the tank to cycle the filter without a problem. I didn't and ammonia levels shot up overnight.
One of the Synodontis, Ellen nearly died because she has a gill injury. I followed up by huge water changes, Zeolite and saving Ellen by sticking her in a small floating bucket with oxygen stones and an airstone running in it. It got to the point where Ellen would just lay in the bucket and I was afraid to look in because fish laying on the bottom usually means impending death. None of the Synodontis seemed distressed by this.
Trouble started or was noticed as one of my Synos, Killington was losing his barbels.
<From? Fighting w/ the others? The only one thus affected?>
Yes, only one losing the barbels.
Possibly. Only other problem I've found was the filter was unusually dirty.
The two other older Synodontis look better then they ever have before.
<<I see>>
I was on forums and got the test your water response. So I tested the water and it was fine. I started trouble shooting never the less, I started doing extra water changes. I rinsed about half of the gravel in tank water and still no improvement. Moved the hiding places to access gravel for cleaning and while this was going on the Synodontis huddled in the corner a lot.
Then I came one morning and found another Synodontis, Abraham injured with wound roughly the size of a quarter on the side/flank area. Extra water changes continued. What I think was fungus was setting in so I removed Abraham to a thirty gal sick tank with the power filter to avoid new tank syndrome.
Now I cleaned out the filter using water from the tank to rinse the filter media and after was done, ammonia started raising, so besides continuing the extra water changes, I put in Zeolite. After this Killington started to decline more in health. He was bottom sitting, breathing more rapidly and getting quite skinny. I continued the extra water changes, added in Zeolite and borrowed two internal Fluval filters from another tank. When this didn't work, I removed Killington into the sick tank with Abraham. Abraham was treated with bio bandage, salt and Melafix. I bought some Maroxy fungus meds and didn't end up having to use it. I was puzzled as Ellen the one who had the awful reaction before was now fine.
I started trying to troubleshoot the issue and had decided the problem was them being upset, huddling in the corner and thus some quarrels broke out...Never the less I'm more concerned about saving the sick fish then solving the original cause at the moment.
After searching for a diagnoses which I spent some precious time one thinking I can't put in meds for a mystery illness. The people on the internet forums were no help . I went with internal bacteria infection as my best guess. I found a post that said a swollen anus indicates a bacteria infection and he had that going on.
More looking towards the internet for answers and getting none to choose a med to use.
<No medicine necessary or advised>
I guess I'll need to study this site more then. I'm not in the "don't use meds" camp as I've saved fish before with meds, but I'll keep an open mind and look around some more.
<<Am a fan the last four plus decades in the trade in using, make that "trying" medications of any sort when appropriate; however, more livestock is killed off w/ their use than w/ actual causes of disease>>
Not only was I unsure of which was the best med to use, I wasn't sure what was safe for scaleless fish. Once again..back on the internet for answers and getting responses like "test your water" which I was doing every day to make sure ammonia was gone. I decided on fish Mox knowing that if it failed, it would hurt Abraham too.
I also put in: Melafix, prime and Zeolite just in case the ammonia went up in that tank.
<... not a fan of the "fixes"; as you'd known had you searched/read on WWM>
Now here I must admit I care more about Killington then Abraham. Killington is from my older trio and around 18-20 yrs old. Killington is also my favorite of this tank I'm trying very hard to save him. I added the younger trio many years later.
So at this point both Killington and Abraham are in the thirty gal sick tank. Abraham is doing well, the fungus cleared up and the wound is healing.
So my worries rest mostly with Killington who is thin, mostly bottom sitting and I can't get him to eat. I'm afraid if the infection doesn't clear up soon, he's going to starve to death.
I don't know if the meds are working or if he's slowly going to his demise. It's been going on for days now and there he doesn't seem to be getting worse or better. I've considered maybe I should force feed him with medical food such as penicillin. I've tried to feed with frozen foods such as krill and bloodworms just in case and then take them out in the morning.
I was going to remove Abraham after the five days of treatment with fish Mox was over to be put back into the main tank on Tuesday. I figured I'd wipe the wound once more with the bio bandage as I'm doing the transfer. If Killington is still alive by then, I wanted to start another antibiotic treatment.
<I'd put all these Mochokids back in the main/display tank, provide more hiding spaces. No more chemical additions. Bob Fenner>
Going to see what other kinds of "caves" I can add in for free since that upgrade isn't planned yet.
I question adding sick fish back into a tank where they will get hassled by healthy fish and without the under laying problem being solved.
<<And I'd try, add Spectrum pellets as a new staple food. See WWM re. BobF>>

bloated stomach in Synodontis eupterus 9/4/11
Hello,
<Hi there>
I have a Synodontis eupterus (named Creepy Malarkey) that I have had for approximately 12 years. He has always been healthy, but about 2 months ago, he had what appeared to be Popeye. I treated him with Melafix and cleared that up.
<Only coincidental>
However, a few days ago his stomach started getting bigger and bigger (please see attached pictures).
<I see>
I have had fish for several years and treated them fairly successfully, but don't really know what to do about him. He is in a 10 gallon aquarium,
<Mmm, hard to keep stable, optimized water quality wise>
which I know is too small, but had to downsize when I was divorced and forced to move into a smaller place. He's been in a 10 gallon for about 2 years now and wasn't moving around much prior to transplanting him to the smaller tank, so he seemed to be doing okay until recently. I perform regular water changes (every 2 weeks or so) and change the filter about every month.
Any idea what may be wrong with him or if there is anything that I can do to treat him?
<Mmm, yes; the generic "bloat"... some speculate this is most all times an issue of "secondary" bacterial involvement... the root "cause" environmental, coupled with a loss of resistance>
Maybe at this
point I should just let nature take it's course, but I wish it would hurry up since I can't imagine having a distended stomach like that would be very comfortable for him.
Thank you for any help you can provide! I truly appreciate it!
Melissa McMahon
(Sorry for the large pics. I wasn't able to reduce them.)
<Do read here re the use of Epsom:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseBloatF.htm
and Neale's article re salt use linked above. Bob Fenner>

Re: bloated stomach in Synodontis eupterus 9/5.5/11
Thank you so much for your help! I did see the notes on your website about Epsom salt, but wasn't sure if it was safe or would treat the problem for him. I will definitely give it a try.
<Well, unfortunately most cases of "bloat" are very hard to cure... but the Epsom may be of use here. BobF>

Blind Featherfin catfish 8/5/11
Hello,
<Hello,>
3 days ago I rescued what I thought was a Pleco from a HORRIBLE fish supplier in my area.
<Oh dear.>
When I saw his condition in the petstore tank (which was dirty, dark, and full of crayfish that were eating him alive) I talked the store down from $30 to $10 and brought him home.
<Usually, buying "pity" fish simply encourages that store to buy more of the same fish. But you talked them down, so hopefully they made little profit here, and won't try this species again. Either way, you paid off some karma here!>
It wasn't until I got him home and adjusted to the tank that I really saw his condition, he had fungus growing all over him, had no slime coat, was starving until the point that his belly was hollowed out, and his eyes are almost completely gone. (im assuming due to the fungus) he is clearly blind, he runs into the walls and bottom of the tank, and I saw that he was definitely not a Pleco.
<He is not.>
I immediately treated him for the fungus and gave him some food, then hopped on Google to find out just what I had living in my tank, I will send you a picture so you can correct me if im wrong, but he looks like a Featherfin catfish.
<Correct; Synodontis euptera, one of the loveliest catfish in the trade,
and deserving of MUCH better care than this poor chap has received.>
It appears the fungus has eaten off his spines as well. But enough of the back story, I need to know how to feed him so he can find the food.
<Feed at night. If you can, replace the gravel with sand -- gravel will abrade the barbels and slow down healing. If you can replace with smooth silica sand (for example, pool filter sand in the US) you'll find he sifts this sand and extracts food without problems, and his barbels will grow right back in no time at all.>
He feels around on the bottom of the tank with his barbels, but when he finds a piece of food he has already passed over it and seems like he cant back up and if he does turn around he cant seem to find it again.
<He won't really feed much during the daytime. Try things like Hikari Algae Wafers which Synodontis love. Also other good quality catfish pellets such as Tetra Tabimin.>
I have completely clouded up my 75gal tank trying to land food in front of him so he will eat the mouthful of bloodworms he gets. Its like that coin game that you play where you put a penny in the water and try to land it on a shelf, frustrating, and only works 1 out of 100 times. And in the process I'm overfeeding my perpetually hungry fancy goldfish.
<Do feed at night, when the odds are in the catfish's favour. Obviously this is a tropical fish, and can't be kept in an unheated tank; aim for 24-26 C/75-79 F, which is well within the tolerances of Goldfish, if they must cohabit.>
Im trying to think of some way I can stick food (bloodworms, algae tabs, sinking pellets) in there so he can find it before it rots or the goldfish get it.
<Nighttime feeding!>
If you can help me I would appreciate it. This fish deserves more then my inexperience, he has already been through so much. Couple of questions, will his spikes on his fins grow back?
<Yes.>
Is their anything I can do to help his eyes and the wound on his back?
<Good water quality, and perhaps treating for Finrot with an antibiotic to clean away any slight infections. Aquarium salt at 1-2 grammes/litre might also be useful.>
Can he be helped or is he just dead fish swimming?
<He should recover. Synodontis are EXTREMELY tough animals, and they evolved to survive predatory birds catching them and then giving up once their spines stopped that bird swallowing them. So in the wild, they're often rather battered-looking.>
He displays rapid gill movement, is this a Catfish normal? All my other fish are fine, and the Ph is good.
<Cool.>
Ashley
PS: Sorry for the picture quality, I told you my tank was cloudy! I hope they can give you some insight into why I had to save him. The sad thing is he actually looks better then when I got him 3 days ago. Its amazing what a little attention can do.
<Do watch the cloudiness, as it suggests filtration isn't quite what it should be. Anyway, good luck to you both! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Blind Featherfin catfish 8/8/11
Thank you so much for your quick reply Neale! I have one more photo for you to look at. The wound on his back is starting to concern me. I was wondering if it is just a wound that will heal with time, or is something that needs to be treated?
<Yes, would treat with a reliable antibiotic or antibacterial. In the US, a combination of Maracyn 1 and 2 should work well. Alternatively products such as Seachem ParaGuard and Kanaplex, or eSHa 2000, should do the trick. Ensure optimal water quality, because this is likely an opportunistic infection, i.e., Finrot.>
I looked on line but wasn't able to find anything since I don't exactly know what I'm looking for. I have moved him into an isolation tank so I can monitor him more closely. It is currently empty, no gravel, sand or ornaments so he won't bump into anything to aggravate his wounds. He is an amazing fish. he will swim around the tank with his whiskers straight out and when both of them touch the side of the tank he knows to turn around, when he was in the other tank with my other fish he would hang around my Pleco and would put one whisker on him and when something would scare the Pleco he would know to move or swim away. Its uncanny how he has figured out how to work around his blindness.
<Indeed, catfish really can be remarkable. They're nocturnal, so they don't actually rely on their eyes much. Besides touch and taste, Synodontis also have electric field receptors, though they don't emit electricity in the same way as, say, South American Knifefish. Instead they're like sharks, and can detect the electric fields produced by their prey. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Fish; Synodontis multipunctata in acidic water conditions -- 11/03/10
Hi Wet Web Crew! I have a sick Synodontis Multipunctatus and I have no idea what is wrong with him. Symptoms are listless swimming, no appetite, and after swaying around he lies on the floor and is breathing pretty heavily. In the tank I have 2 Clown Loaches, 1 Geophagus, 1 Polypterus and 1 King Tiger Pleco. I have had him almost 2 years and he has always been active and healthy up until a couples days ago when this weird behavior started. I tested my water and my Nitrates are under 5, no nitrite and no ammonia. My PH is 6.3 but always has been that low, so no real change in PH over time. I was wondering what you thought was wrong with him. My first thought points to an internal parasite and if that is the case, what would I treat him with in order to not harm my clown loaches or anything else for that matter? Thank you for your time.
Rick
<Hello Rick. Your pH is far too low for this schooling species, and given the acidic pH I have to assume your water hardness is low as well. I have no idea how it's survived for so long, really. As I hope you realise, this species comes from Lake Malawi and needs something upwards of 10 degrees dH, pH 7.5 to do well. Parasites are unlikely to be an issue if this tank hasn't had any new fish added in the last couple of weeks. So concentrate on moving this catfish to a tank with water conditions appropriate to this species, and it should settle down quickly. Naturally, take care acclimating it to the new water conditions by drip acclimating across an hour or so. Obviously it cannot remain in a soft water community tank for much longer. Do also check you actually mean Synodontis multipunctata, and are not confusing this Tanganyikan species for one of the river-dwelling species. Synodontis nigriventris is a schooling species that would be ideally suited to your Clown Loach community tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Anchor worm on Synodontis catfish? 8/7/10
Hi,

<Hello,>
There is what looks like a worm buried into the side of my Synodontis catfish.

<Oh?>
It is white and attached at both ends giving the appearance of a small, white staple, so I can't see a forked end to positively identify it as an anchor worm, but I don't know what else it would be.

<There are various similar parasites of this type beyond Anchor Worm, and wild-caught fish do sometimes bring them along when they're caught.>
It is about 1/4 inch long (the part that is visible, that is.). There has been nothing (plant or animal) added to the aquarium for probably a year.

<Has this "worm" not been visible in the last year?>
No live food is used. Can you please help with what it might be and how to treat it, given that she is a (very sweet!) scaleless fish?

<Assuming this is Anchor Worm, and we need a photo to be sure, treatment in this case is going to be two-fold. Firstly, you need to physically remove the worm. Use forceps or tweezers for this, and be incredibly careful. Restrain the catfish with a wet towel. Don't rush -- the fish can handle being out of the water for a good few minutes so long as its wet -- but thrashing about is going to damage you and the fish. Remember, catfish are equipped with sharp spines and WILL NOT hesitate to use them, so don't allow your fingers to get between the spines and the body or the fins will clamp shut and cut your fingers nastily. After removing the worm, dab with a little antiseptic; iodine for example would be ideal. Use a cotton swab for this. Removing the worm opens the fish up to a secondary infection, so the second step is to prevent that. Use either a broad spectrum antibiotic or some sort of mild antibacterial such as Melafix.>
Thank you, Constance

<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Anchor worm on Synodontis catfish? 8/7/10

Thank you!

<Most welcome! Cheers, Neale.>

Synodontis cat swelling issue (RMF, any ideas?) <<Same as yours>> -- 02/02/10
I have a featherfin Synodontis cat about 6" long and I have had him for 3 yrs. since he was 1.5". in the past 2 months his stomach has swollen and it looks rather unhealthy he is still active and does eat, not as much as usual. There is a small protrusion at the anus, small but its been there for a couple of days. Is he OK, if not how do I treat him?
<Suspect this is an environmental issue.>
tank = 55 gal, 2 green Severum, 1 silver dollar, 3 rainbows, 1 green terror, 1 jack Dempsey, 1 gold Severum, 1 Synodontis cat
<Overstocked; check water quality, and act accordingly. Synodontis eupterus is a fairly hardy species, but like all catfish, will be exposed to particular poor water quality and oxygen levels because it's at the bottom of the tank, where water flow is often least. In addition, these omnivorous fish often receive a bad diet. Things like prawns and mussels are fine as treats, but the lack of fibre and the thiaminase issue can cause problems in the long term. A good diet would be based around quality catfish pellets and algae wafers in about equal amounts, with bloodworms, mosquito larvae and so on used periodically. Chopped fish and seafood can be used once a
week. Obviously, if you're used live feeder fish at any point, then there's a good chance parasites have been introduced. These are difficult to diagnose with recourse to a vet or a pathology lab. You might try an anti-helminth first, and an anti-protozoan second, but honestly, this sort of scattergun approach is risky and not especially reliable. Some invertebrate live foods can also be risky, notably Tubifex worms.>
no real health problems in the past, Ick, pop eye, at the worst.
<Pop-eye is fairly serious, so not sure what you mean by "no real health problems"! Pop-eye tends to imply either fighting or chronically poor water quality. The latter explanation is very often the case if both eyes on one fish became swollen. If the latter was the situation here, I'd be even more convinced that environmental issues are to blame.>
Thanks,
Darin
<Cheers, Neale.>

Treating Velvet and Mouth Fungus with Lace Synodontis in the tank -- 09/08/09
Hi there,
<Hello,>
My son pushed too fast to set up his tank and now has problems with velvet and mouth fungus, and possibly some ich. There are three Danios that definitely show signs of both the velvet and mouth fungus.
<I see.>
The problem is complicated by the fact that he also has a very sweet and lovely large lace Synodontis catfish who we have totally fallen in love with and she seems very sensitive to medication.
<Yes, this species (genus, family) can be. Removing to a quarantine tank would be one solution.>
The tank is 50 gallons and these are all the inhabitants: 5 small green tiger barbs, 3 large Danios, the lace Synodontis, a small bristle nose catfish, a small clown loach, an ngara, a blue dwarf Gourami, and an algae
eating shark. It is a planted tank, but the plants can be replaced if they don't survive treatment.
<Bit of a mixed collection! Not entirely convinced this selection of fish will work in the long term. Ngara, for example, are Aulonocara cichlids, and semi-aggressive, as well as fussy about water chemistry. Clown Loaches don't stay small for long; adults are some 11 inches/27 cm long. And so on.>
Do you have any suggestions for how we can eliminate the mouth fungus and the velvet? We tried Rid Ich+, but the Synodontis seemed very bothered by it.
<Various catfish are indeed sensitive to copper and formalin, so that limits the range of options. Ordinarily, you'd treat Ick and Velvet using a salt/heat method (raise temperature to around 82-86 F, add 2-3 level
teaspoons of tonic salt per US gallon of water. Run thus for about two weeks. Keeping the tank dark (cover with a blanket) also helps, since the free-living stage needs light.>
We have also used Melafix, which keeps the mouth fungus down, but does not seem strong enough to totally cure it (and doesn't seem to do much, if anything, for the velvet).
<Mouth Fungus is bacterial, and Melafix is a weak bactericide, at best. Use a proper antibiotic such as Maracyn if you can, or else an antibacterial based on an organic dye if antibiotics aren't easily available in your region. I happen to like eSHa 2000, but there are numerous other brands, such as Seachem Paraguard that work well too. Read the instructions, and don't forget to remove carbon (if used) when necessary. Don't mix medications, although you can use *one* medication alongside salt without problems.>
Thanks very much for any help you can provide.
<While Velvet comes in with new fish, Mouth Fungus is triggered by environmental issues, and this is something you must review. You can keep treating the fish as much as you want, but if the underlying causes
(typically poor filtration, overfeeding, and/or overstocking) are present, the problem will keep coming back. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Treating Velvet and Mouth Fungus with Lace Synodontis in the tank 9/9/09
Neale,
<Constance,>
Thank you so very much for your advice and for responding so quickly.
<My pleasure.>
We'll get on it today. This is a fairly new project and my kid was not properly changing the water and filter at first, which is a big part of the problem we are dealing with now. We are on top of the water quality now.
<Good stuff.>
We'll start cycling a sick tank, but in the meantime we'll try the aquarium salt treatment and antibiotic. (And maybe we'll move Ngara into the second tank after it is cycled and when it isn't being used as a hospital because you are right that s/he is aggressive.)
<Indeed; a nice species, a very nice species in fact, but does need a Malawi community setting really, perhaps mixed with the superb Labidochromis caeruleus "Yellow Lab" for a nice contrast.>
I just want to double check that adding this much aquarium salt will likely be tolerated by the lace Synodontis and bristle nose catfish. I have read that some catfish cannot deal with salt.
<It's a misunderstanding about the salt. For a start, at least two families of catfish live in the sea! Several other families have species that enter brackish water. In any case, the amount of salt you are adding is trivially low. Let's say you add 3 level tsp of salt. It's a little under 0.25 oz per tsp, so that's about 0.75 tsp per US gallon. Normal seawater contains about 4.75 ounces of salt per US gallon, so what you're adding to your aquarium is actually about one-twentieth the salinity of normal seawater. There's probably more salt in a can of soda pop than that! It's really a very, very harmless dosage. While you wouldn't want to use this addition of salt on a permanent basis, for a couple of weeks it's a safer way to treat against Ick and Velvet that copper- and formalin-based medications.>
With gratitude,
Constance
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Treating Velvet and Mouth Fungus with Lace Synodontis in the tank 9/9/09
great! any place I can order the eSHa 2000 in the US? Or should I just settle for Seachem ParaGuard?
<So far as I know, eSHa products are exclusively sold in Europe. Seachem Paraguard is at least as good, and while it doesn't contain copper or formalin, it does contain malachite green, so if you do decide to use it,
watch your catfish carefully. Malachite green isn't copper (despite the name) but an organic dye, and while these should be harmless, you never know.
http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/ParaGuard.html
eSHa 2000 contains a different organic dye, and while my Synodontis (and pufferfish) never complained, as always, your own mileage may vary. You might decide to opt for Maracyn or a similar antibiotic because of this.
Cheers, Neale.>

White eye - is it an infection? Env., bio-abuse 9/5/09
We have a 70 gallon bow-front aquarium that is home to an assortment of freshwater fish including silver dollars, Gourami, barbs, and various algae eaters.
<And a torn up, bacterially decomposing Synodontis cat>
Within the last month or so, we have begun experiencing an onset of something that is causing many of our fish to die. Most of the fish are very strong and established ones that we have had for quite awhile. One of the first ones to go was a 10-inch plecostomus that we had for nearly 2 years.
<Environmental base cause>
At first we were told it was likely ich which made sense because the cichlids and the plecostomus that died had some white speckling on their bodies. These were the first to go, no cichlids have been replaced and any plecostomus we have tried have ended up dying within a week or two. With no more white speckling, we were then told it could be fin rot since a couple of fish seemed to have a small amount of fraying on their fins and red spots on their bodies where the pectoral fins are attached.
We have tried water changes, fresh carbon (we have two 50-gallon 3-stage filters), Melafix, aquarium salt and the like that were recommended to us. We even quarantined one fish in a sectioned off area of the tank because we were told he could be getting 'picked at' by the other fish preventing him from healing -- he died within one or two days. Nothing has worked and the fish are still dying.
We also have a constant slight cloudiness to our water that no matter what we do we cannot get rid of it -- a problem we have never had before over the years.
<Symptomatic of the poor environment... A lack of adequate filtration, circulation...>
After watching this very closely, we have noticed that the first sign begins in the eyes. The fish will develop a white or cloudy film/growth on the outside of their eyeball. The barbs seem especially susceptible to this as we had two brand new ones that started to show this sign within the first 24 hours in the tank. They lasted a couple of weeks and their eyes never cleared up.
We also had a Gourami that had his right eye bulge out and eventually fell completely off. Not sure if this could have been an injury from a fight with another fish or not, but he is the only one that has had that happen to. Out of fear that he would spread an infection, we did get rid of him a couple days after the eye fell out.
Now one of our larger bottom feeders (sorry I cannot remember what kind he is -- catfish of some sort I believe) is showing signs. Seemingly overnight, both of his eyes turned completely white. He has a bit of deterioration (?) on his 'whiskers' too. I took the attached pictures to try show what I am talking about.
<I see the deterioration in the fins, the opacity over the eyes... looks like a "fungus", is bacterial, but this is not the root cause... the system, consequent water quality is>
So far, all of our resources for information have not helped including an aquarium maintenance service we consulted (they did not do any treatment on the tank) and the store we regularly purchase our fish from.
Can anyone tell me what this is and how to possibly fix it?
<Yes... pretty confident... you need to fix their world>
Could it be an eye infection that is being spread among the fish through the water? Is this so far embedded in the system that we will have to start completely over?
Please help, my other half is contemplating getting rid of the tank which I know he would end up regretting. He loves this hobby and takes so much pride in this tank.
Thank you very much,
J & J Foreman
<... Where to start? Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm
and the linked files above. Learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM... and provide useful data re water quality tests, the actual make-up of your system, maintenance regimen. This system is going sideways due to a lack of knowledge and apathy. Bob Fenner>

Upside down catfish disaster (Bob, thoughts?) 06/03/09
Hi,
<Ave,>
I have recently been away for a week, and left my neighbours in charge of fish feeding with very clear, strict instructions. Returned and all looked very well, but I didn't see the upside down catfish, nor had I seen one of them at the last tank clean out the night before we went away - but they are very good at hiding and often I don't see them for days at a time. I tested the water on my return : 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 15 nitrate, all OK.
<Sounds fine.>
However last night I spotted this very sad creature coming out to feed and was shocked at the state of it.
<Yikes!>
There's no sign of fungus, but the fins have disappeared, and it appears to have lost a lot of scales - he's more pink than brown. I have quarantined him and am treating with eHSA200 but do not really expect him to survive.
He's not been helped by getting traumatised by being stuck in the net I used to catch him. I am amazed at how rough he looks and very very concerned.
<Quite.>
Is this advanced Finrot?
<Not yet; looks like he's had the skin chewed right off. I've heard of things like this when Plecs fight, and the dominant one literally strips the weaker one. So that'd be my first thought. I'd also think about the
heater: these fish sometimes get caught behind heaters, get burned, and then the skin dies, leaving the fish much weakened. Thirdly, you may have a moribund fish that other species have simply attacked, in which case the immediate cause of sickness may well be impossible to identify now.>
Or something even more unpleasant. I caught hold of my other upside down catfish and haven't seen anything on him at all - fins all totally intact, no markings on his body, and all the other fish look fine.
FYI - I have a 180ltr Juwel Rio with
14 x 5 banded barb Puntius pentazona
Around 8 zebra Danios
5 adult platies (2 male, 3 female) 1 juvenile platies
3 Siamese Algae Eaters
1 Trichogaster Leeri
2 diamond tetras
3 rosy tetras
3 Columbian tetras
2 upside down catfish
1 red tailed black shark (he's still behaving OK! - if anything seems subdued at the moment)
<<This fish has been severely traumatised by some other of your fish/es here... You need to observe closely whom it is... most likely the minnow-shark, though the Columbian Tetras, perhaps Diamonds might be involved. At any length, the destroyed catfish needs to be physically separated from the other livestock... if you can't move one/the other, a breeding net of size or floating plastic colander (out of direct lighting) might work here. Otherwise, I would not "treat" this fish... as any exposure is likely to kill it. RMF>>
Please help - I need to know if I potentially have a problem, especially as I've had a few other seemingly unrelated deaths - one every 4 weeks or so.
Two Ancistrus from causes unknown (I think it may have been a batch of catfish food I was given, which had been open for an unspecified amount of time, that they ate loads of) and three Danios (6 weeks apart these) with dropsy.
Thanks for your excellent assistance
<While I'm not optimistic, you could put this fish either in a hospital tank or else in a large breeding trap within which was adequate shade. eSHa 2000 might keep the fish healthy, I suspect you'll need some bona fide antibiotics. In the UK, these are most easily got through vets; not expensive, but admittedly means ringing around finding a local vet happy to help with fish. If this doesn't appeal, then euthanasia would be the best way forward; see WWM re: suitable methods.>
Regards
Sarah
<Cheers, Neale.>

Yeeowch! RMF

Re: Upside down catfish disaster 06/04/09
Hi Neale,
Thanks for your speedy response - the fish hasn't made it - not surprising really.
<Indeed.>
I was kind of hopeful when I saw him feeding, but really, it was unlikely (it's not a big fish, only about 2 inches max.) Since I got the two of them given to me in Feb, one fish I hardly ever saw, in fact a few weeks ago I did a thorough search of the tank, and located him hiding in a cave - only found when I picked the cave up and turned it upside down - there was the fish, still clinging to the rock... he only then swam off.
<Usually Synodontis nigriventris is "rock solid" in terms of hardiness and longevity; would suggest you were unlucky, and if the remaining specimen stays in good health, would suggest you buy a couple more (they are
gregarious).>
So it could be that he was 'sickening' and that this was the fish that has died. At that time there were no external signs of illness, and of course being nocturnal, shy and in too small a group really, I didn't see them often. The heater is inside the Rio's filter compartment (still using the built in filter at present) so it unlikely to be heater burn..
<The Rio heater/filter compartment should be safely out of bounds for catfish, though I have had pufferfish swim into them!>
Will be watching the rest of them with care... off on hols again on Friday for a few days but leaving them in the capable hands of my husband and the children. I am a bit downhearted that I seem to lose a fish a month from seeming random issues.. :(
<Aquaria are complex systems, and some problems can seem inexplicable. That said, if you're doing the right things, and the water quality/chemistry is appropriate to the species being kept, it should be easy to maintain a community tank without significant losses. Keep an open mind, and review conditions after each fatality.>
Thanks
Sarah
<Good luck, Neale.>

Synodontis Problems 1/28/09 Dear WWM crew, We have only had our ten gallon tank up and running for three weeks and decided to feed our upside down cat fish blood worms. apparently it was a hit with the whole tank (one Dalmatian molly, and a rubber lip Pleco, and our kitty fish)..except the catfish appears to have gotten into a severe scuffle with the Pleco (whom we know to be the culprit because we have seen them having some turf issues over a hidey hole). the result is our catfish has abrasions/missing skin, particularly on one side as well as a cut. and we are concerned that the gill may be injured. We now have an unestablished 38 gallon tank, and so the question is should we transfer the catfish to the larger tank, or would this stress him to much? We're not sure who to move to the tank, especially because our 10g has 25 ppm ammonia levels. (now doing 10% water changes every day to keep it down). we really really don't want the fish to die, should we medicate? also wondering if the rubber lip Pleco has ever been known to be territorial/aggressive? is there a more docile Pleco to be had? We would really appreciate any advice. Wish us luck! From J&A <Greetings. The short answer is that moving your Synodontis nigriventris to the larger tank. Moreover, you'll buy him some buddies: these are schooling animals that do well in groups of three or more. In any case, 25 ppm ammonia is toxic to all life, so I seriously doubt you've got that much ammonia in your tank. But assuming you have 0.25 ppm ammonia, that's a sign the tank is overstocked, the filter is inadequate (or immature), or the tank is badly maintained (e.g., overfed). While not immediately life threatening, if fish are exposed to that much ammonia for more than a few days they become extremely likely to get sick with things like Finrot, which is what I suspect the "abrasions" and "missing skin" are all about. Certainly, if fish are exposed to 0.25 ppm ammonia and also happen to be physically damaged, they *will* get Finrot and/or Fungus. You will need to treat accordingly, for example with Maracyn (but avoid things like salt or tea-tree oil "cures" as they don't work). Now, a ten-gallon tank simply isn't viable for any of the fish species you've got. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm End of story. So at least some of your problems are down to that. Move them all to the bigger tank, and put the filter from the 10-gallon tank into the big tank (or at least the mature media from the old filter into the new one). As for Plec aggression, yes, many (most) species are aggressive and territorial, particularly if they feel crowded. Cheers, Neale.>

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

Re: Seven-Inch Spotted Pleco BLOATED I'm sorry. I don't understand what you're trying to tell me. It's interesting that in your E-mail I only received the <<>> for the second portion of what you said, and that it only showed up in my reply to you. Sincerely, Marianne <<Sorry about that! I'm not sure what happened! I've pasted my original reply below. Just in case you have problems reading replies in the future, all messages are posted daily at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs.htm>> Re: Seven-Inch Spotted Pleco BLOATED I have a 29 gallon tropical fish tank. For this tank, I have a Whisper 30-60 outside filter. In this tank, I have four large (bodies bigger than silver dollars) Veil-Tail Angel Fish, three green aeneus Corys, three albino Corys, one male pearl Gourami, one nine-inch common Pleco, and one seven-inch spotted Pleco (they get along great). <<Whew, that's a lot of fish in this size tank.>> The problem is this: Over the past seven or so days, we have seen my seven-inch spotted Pleco get large, larger, and completely humongous. Today is the worst. Today I knew there was no way she (he/it) was pregnant. Today I knew there was something horribly wrong. With advice from my local favorite fish store person, I changed off 20% of the tank to lower the ammonia, acidity, and nitrites. I added three teaspoons of AquaSafe by TetraAqua to neutralize chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals in the water I added (half of the water had been sitting more than 48 hours). When I do the water change, I siphon the debris off the bottom. At my fish store person's recommendation, I also added a product called TLC that adds good bacteria. I also added three teaspoons of StressCoat with Aloe Vera (one to two teaspoons per gallon should be safe). I did this because spotted Pleco is so bloated that her (his/its) sides are starting to split. Please tell me if I'm doing the right thing. Please advise me. Please help me save my poor horribly bloated 7-inch spotted Pleco. I've had her (him/it) since it was no more than one-half inch long. Can you tell me if this has occurred because of the neglected condition of my water. Please tell me what's wrong. All the other fish are doing great. I changed the filters six days ago, and changed them again today. That's how dirty it had been -- that they needed changing again so soon. We went away last week for three days. My fish-sitter may have overfed them, I really don't know. My tank has been established for however long it took my one-half inch spotted Pleco to get to be seven inches long -- close to a year. I feed all the fish Tetra-Min Tropical Fish flakes. I feed the Plecos Wardley Algae discs. I know I haven't been changing off the water, the filters, or monitoring the condition of my water nearly often enough; however, none of the fish ever seemed stressed at all. They've been thriving. Please help. Sincerely, Marianne <<I would recommend immediately putting this Pleco into a QT tank. It sounds as if he's possibly constipated but it could be any one of a number of things, including the poor water quality. Fast him for 3 days and then feed him the inside of a frozen pea (thawed) and see if this helps. You will most likely also need to do some drastic maintenance on your main tank to get your water quality back into a normal (or at the very least safer) range. Three days of overfeeding will affect your water quality but not to the extent that it sounds like yours is currently at. What are your ammonia/nitrite/Ph levels now that you've done the water change? The filters will help some but large daily water changes are probably still in order. Ronni>>

Re: BLOATED Pleco... I found it in the Q&A! <<I'm combining your two messages into one for ease of replying and posting.>> I found it in the Q&A! Thank you! I hope it will be okay that I've started to treat the whole tank with Maracyn-Two. I need to set up a hospital tank. I felt it would take me too long to do that. I didn't feel my Pleco had that much time. He's fasting himself. I hope he's not suffocating because I haven't seen him go to the top for air in a long time. If he's still hanging in there, day after tomorrow I will try feeding him the inside of a thawed frozen pea. In the meantime, I will try to set up a hospital tank. I do think I have a 10-gallon setup I can clean up and get operating. He appears to have spits in his sides. Milky-white little bubbles are coming out from the splits <<The hospital tank doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a bare bottom tank with an air supply of some sort (even just an airstone will work). They can be set-up in a matter of minutes. Fill it at least ½ way with water from your main tank, filling it completely with water from your main tank is best. In this case no rocks is definitely the best too, that way you will be able to see if he's defecating. If it can be avoided, it's best not to medicate the main tank. Primarily because you may then be medication fish that don't need it and possibly causing adverse reactions.>> By the way... I got the water conditions up to speed and then added Maracyn-Two this evening. He's obviously not eating. I stopped the algae discs anyway. I continue the flakes. He's been in the same spot for 24 hours. He's still breathing and wriggles every once in a while. I'm still hoping he'll make it. What are your feelings on adding aquarium salt to a tank of Plecos, Cory cats, angel fish, and a pearl Gourami? It's a 29 gallon tank. I added 4 teaspoons; less than half of what you might put in, but for the Plecos and Corys. The water was hard. It's not now. Sincerely, Marianne <<You should be OK with the salt for the Plecos, I'm not positive on the Cories or the others. I believe Gouramis like a little salt so that should be fine. Ronni>>

Re: Synodontis eupterus with a cloudy eye Ronni, I had a dilemma come up right after I emailed you. My Synodontis Eupterus has a problem. One of his eyes is swollen and kind of cloudy with even a bit of a film on it. I just read (as I was looking for an answer to this) that at night they scavenge around for food and sometimes have a tendency to bump into the heater. <<Since it's only one eye it does indeed sound like an injury of some sort. Either a burn from the heater or a scratch from a rock or other decoration.>> Now I don't know what a heater burn would look like but his eye is rather grotesque looking right now and I really feel bad for him. Do you think this is what it could be? How should I treat him not knowing? I do have 3 medicines on hand, 1) a concoction that my aquarium supplier has made (a kind of cure all she calls it), 2) Melafix by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals which I have used in the past and it has worked miracles and 3) Fungus Guard by Jungle. What would your advice be? I really love this cat and don't want him to suffer. <<I would recommend isolating him (geez, give me another week and I'm going to have all of your fish in QT tanks! *G*) and using the Melafix. It should help.>> Thanks once again, Dave <<Thank you! Ronni>>

Re: Synodontis Eupterus with a cloudy eye Well Ronni, Just to keep you up to date, I have separated the Synodontis in another tank (where he will live out his life). I've been treating him with the Melafix and stress coat as well as doing some water changes. His missing eye seems to be healing up nice. His good (?) eye, that got attacked also, seems to be doing nice too. He is eating and is very active. I'm just hoping he has or gets sight in his one eye. Thanks for the info and help. Oh, just wondering what you think about putting another kind of Synodontis back into my African tank. I think he was a bit small for the tank but I was wondering if a bigger one or perhaps another species would do well in there. Thanks again, Dave <Thanks for the update, I love hearing back from people. It sounds as if you're doing wonderful for him. It does sound like your Cichlids were picking at him so I would be a bit worried about putting another one in the tank. You might try a larger one but really keep a close watch on it and make sure it has some really good hiding places. Ronni>

Synodontis multipunctatus Spotted Hello, <Hi, Magnus on duty.> My Synodontis catfish was caught underneath a rock for awhile, not quite sure how long. When we discovered that we didn't notice him in the tank we started moving rocks and shells around and he came darting out. Very damaged, his long tail has been eaten off to the base and he has all kinds of skin damage. The skin has been torn off some parts of his belly. <ouch! Was he being pestered by fish prior to this? I have seen many cichlid tankmates be found "stuck" areas (under rocks, inside decor, below driftwood, even inside filters), later to discover that the fish was literally hiding for it's life! You might want to keep an eye on your other Synodontis, just in case.> We put him into our breeder net to isolate him from the other fish and I put some prime in to help with his skin. Do you have some suggestions on what treatments I should use for his skin? <If you can, I would set up a quarantine tank (10 gallons would be fine) so you can move this fish and medicate him that way. He'll be happier in a tank rather than a breeder net. Some cichlids harass fish in breeder nets when the lights go out, just something to consider. As for medications, I have found that most of the medicines produced by Mardel have worked wonders on the health of my fish. Maracide would be a good addition to the tank to ensure he doesn't have any secondary infections from his wounds.> He seems to be doing okay but I would like to do whatever I can do to have his belly heal faster. <making sure he doesn't get any secondary infections will be the best you can do. Can't really speed up the healing process, just make sure that nothing else can do any more damage. During this time make sure you keep up on water changes, and keep water parameters at their optimal levels.> He is in a African Cichlid tank and was doing fine until he got caught under a rock. All the other fish are great and we have another Synodontis that is doing fine. Sandra Wunrow <keep an eye on the other catfish, just in case you have a fin nipping cichlid causing these problems. Good luck with your fish, Separate and medicate, and keep an eye on him. They are hardy fish and normally bounce back! -Magnus.>

Synodontis multipunctatus Spotted Hi, Magnus, <Hi Sandra> I just wanted to let you know that my Synodontis catfish healed very well. <Glad to hear that! Catfish are pretty tough fish.> It does look my other Synodontis does pick on this one though. When we put him back into the tank the two fish were going around in circles biting at each others mouth... <I would separate before more injuries happen, set up another tank or return one to the store.> Before he got hurt , it seems like it was the dominate Catfish. Do you think because we had the fish in breeder net for a couple of weeks that the other fish became dominate when we introduced him back into the Tank? <Yes, that is what indeed happened. The other fish had a chance to become the dominant fish in the tank, once the other one was reintroduced, the "new" guy was on the others established territory. You can always rearrange the tank decor making them both have to re-establish territories, but there will probably be aggression down the road. You should set up a separate tank for one and keep it there.> Thanks, Sandra Wunrow <Good Luck. -Magnus>

Catfish with missing fin Hello all, it's Sandy again. Before I start, just wanted to thank you all for all your help in the past....much appreciated. I've found myself seeking for help once again. I'm not sure if this happens often but here goes. I currently have a 90 gallon freshwater aquarium. Inhabitants are 2 Synodontis catfish, 2 Plecos, 2 blood parrots, 3 fairy cichlids, 1 electric yellow and 1 bumble bee cichlid. The cichlids are about 2 inches so far, a common Pleco about 5 inches and a chocolate Pleco about 3 inches. The catfish are about 3-4 inches. I HAD a red zebra and an auratus cichlid but had to trade them in because they are waaaaayyy too aggressive. ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 20 pH 7.6 - 7.8 water temp 75-78 I'm performing a 30% water change every 2 weeks adding water conditioner. Last week, I had noticed that one of my catfish had his left fin missing. At first I wasn't sure, just thought he had them tucked in, but today, he ended up coming out during feeding and I got a closer look. It is totally gone. I'm pretty sure it's either bitten off by the red zebra or auratus because none of the other fish are as aggressive as these 2. I'm not sure if he's able to swim either since he's been hanging out at the same place these last few days. Should I remove him and put him in a separate tank (which I do have) until he recovers? Will he survive with just 1 fin? Will it grow back and if so, how long? I'm really worried if he'll survive or not. I sure hope so. Please help. Thanks, Sandy <<Dear Sandy; Normally a Synodontis cat is more than capable of handling itself in a tank full of cichlids. However, accidents can happen! As long as you keep your nitrates low to help ensure the fin doesn't become fungused, you shouldn't have to worry. It may grow completely back, depending on the extent of the damage. Even if it doesn't, the wound will heal, and the catfish should (!) be able to swim normally with his stump. By the way, I would blame the other Synodontis before the cichlids. They are notoriously territorial towards each other starting at that size.. you might want to watch the two signs for aggression towards each other. Telltale scrape-marks on their sides are a dead give-away. -Gwen>>

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

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

"Upside Down" catfish -- 05/07/07 Hello: <Hello!> I have an upside down catfish in a 20 gallon tank with a few other fish. He survived a bout of ich about six - eight months ago so much of his fins are missing. <Why did he lose fins from Ich? Also bear in mind that these catfish are reputed to be sensitive to copper-based medications, so such treatments should be used with care, if at all.> He has been a fish that we never saw. <Normal. They are nocturnal, and do best when kept in groups; when kept singly they are *very* shy. My specimens scoot about during the daytime, though only when there's food in the tank.> Twice a month when I would clean the tank, I would have to flush him out of his castle to make sure he was okay, which he has been. <Fish aren't wild about being pushed out their homes. Is there no way you can clean the tank without doing this? You really shouldn't need to strip an aquarium down at water change time. Simply siphoning out the crud should work fine.> About a month ago he started to appear during the day and eat and hang out some. I noticed though that he would wedge himself up between the glass and the castle. <Normal.> Well yesterday he started the most bizarre thing. His nose is in the gravel with his body in the air and his tail hanging sideways. <His body in the air? Or do you mean the water? Either way, disorientation in fish is very often a sign of poor water quality, or at least sudden changes in the environment, even temperature.> He appears to have some labored breathing and also seems disoriented when he does swim or maybe like he can't catch his balance. His color seems good and I don't see anything on his little body that would indicate parasites, fungus, etc. His gills don't look red. I was thinking maybe he has a swim bladder infection and I've read that that means a pretty sure death. <Swim bladder infections *do not* mean death any more than fevers do in humans. They're a symptom. Most frequently of poor diet (constipation), in which case easily fixed by providing a high-fibre diet including vegetable foods like cooked, squished peas and shell-on invertebrates such as krill, daphnia, brine shrimp, etc.> I've been thinking that maybe I need to put this little guy out of his misery buy I wanted to see what you say first. <Non sequitur. If the fish is externally healthy and feeding properly, he isn't in misery and doesn't need to be destroyed. If he has any misery, its because you're keeping him by himself, but that's another story...> Everybody else is good. The tank water has had its bi-monthly cleaning within the last couple of days. <I'm concerned about this a little. Please tell me you aren't cleaning the filter out twice a month. The ideal regimen is siphoning out 50% of the water per week, and then cleaning the filter every 2-6 months depending on the tank loading (some people don't even do the filter that often). When the filter is cleaned, this is nothing more than gently squeezing out the media in a bucket of aquarium water. NEVER, EVER clean filter media in tap/faucet water.> I have to admit that I don't do any testing but I am pretty faithful about my tank changes. <These two things aren't related. You can clean the tank out perfectly and still have dire water quality/chemistry. Please please please at least get a pH test kit and a nitrite test kit. You can obtain very inexpensive dip sticks that do the job nicely. Upside-down catfish are very hardy fish, but if the water is too acidic or too alkaline, or the water quality is too bad, they will not do well. Please also remember Ich often starts because of poor water quality (in fact most diseases do) so when fish get sick, water testing is the thing you do FIRST!!!> I have had no problems since my ich outbreak until now. Help. <Without more info difficult to give advice. Please do the water tests, then get back to us.> I kinda like this little guy and am hoping to find out what's wrong <Synodontis spp. catfish are lovely animals and justifiably among the most popular catfish in the trade. The diversity is impressive, from species even smaller than yours (S. nigriventris) through to giants a couple of feet long. They live in a variety of habitats from mountain streams to Great Lakes to brackish water estuaries. Really well worth getting to know better, so be sure and read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mochokids.htm for more.> Thanks Rachel <Cheers, Neale>

Re: "Upside Down" catfish -- 05/07/07 Hi Neale: <Hello Rachael.> I appreciate your quick response. I did not buy him alone. I bought another one with him but the other died from the ich. <Or, possibly, the medication itself.> I don't know why his fins were damaged, maybe there was something else going on in the tank during the ich outbreak. I came into the tank by accident and didn't know anything about it. We initially overstocked not realizing/knowing what we were doing due to inexperience. <Happens. Not the end of the world, provided you learn, fix the mistakes, and move on constructively.> When we got ich, the local petstore steered us to a copper based medication. I didn't know any better and used it. <To the pet store's credit, 9 times out of 10 copper based medications are fine, even with catfish like Corydoras. At least they didn't try and sell you some MacGuffin like "tonic salt".> Needless to say, I lost some fish that I was a little heartbroken over. I finally got onto your site where I was able to get some better information for treatment. <Very good.> I did the recommended temp rise and salt which got us over the ich hump but the only one left who had it was this little guy. My Pleco and knife fish only got very mild cases and cleared up quickly with the copper treatment. I have not gotten him another tank mate or two because I worry about overstocking the tank. <How big's the tank? S. nigriventris doesn't need a lot of space. But the Plec and Knifefish certainly do, so I would have thought any tank big enough for those two species (40 gallons upwards) would have space for one or two more S. nigriventris.> I also do not have a quarantine tank and I worry about the introduction of other fish because that's how we got it the last time. <Many folks don't have quarantine tanks. Doing without is possible, but just more difficult. Having a "spare" tank is wonderfully liberating though. You can use it to quarantine fish, to treat them, to breed them, or to raise eggs/fry when you get them. In the long term, having a spare 10-20 gallon tank is one of the best investments in the hobby.> I guess I'm a little paranoid at this point because we had such a hard time with this disease and the loss of the fish AND I'm inexperienced so I don't know if I'm introducing another fish into an environment that is less than ideal. <Whitespot/ich doesn't normally kill fish. It is easily treated. Now, the one mistake lots and lots of people make is treating the tank while leaving the carbon in the filter. The carbon removes the medication, and the whitespot carries on getting worse and worse. Then it kills the fish. Poor water quality is one of two standard triggering factors behind whitespot, the other is introducing new fish from the pet store. Surprising as this might seem, but in a tank with good water quality, fish basically don't get sick. Besides changing water, a stable, mature tank is essentially maintenance free. So the first few months of your fishkeeping career are really the most difficult. Read, learn, persevere.> I really don't want to do that so I was trying to raise the ones I have the best I can. The local fish store people don't tell you what fish likes cold water and what fish likes warm water and who like salt and who doesn't, etc. <Pet stores do their best, but many fail in this regard. This is why aquarists need to buy/borrow good books. There are also some very, very good web sites out there (as well as millions of less good ones!). For catfish, Planet Catfish and ScotCat are hard to knock, being maintained by serious experts. For the most part, all freshwater catfish should be maintained in normal tropical conditions at a moderate pH and hardness (6.0-7.5, fairly soft to moderately hard). Only a few species offered for sale are brackish water or marine catfish, so salt is one thing that can be left out the tank, except perhaps as a temporary treatment.> They just want to make the sale and unfortunately I got caught up in all that and now I have this tank that I'm trying to maintain with fish that I'm not sure about as far as environmental compatibility. <S. nigriventris is a good community fish for the most part. Its environmental tolerances are broad. Its main shortcoming is slight fin-nipping behaviour, normally when kept with things with very long fins, like angels and Bettas.> I guess I should've been checking this before now but everyone seemed to be doing good. Everyone eats, everyone is growing, they are for the most part out and active, so I just thought they were adapting. <Some fish do, but "squeakers" (Synodontis spp.) generally don't. They remain resolutely nocturnal except at feeding time.> I read about the swim bladder infection on another site and the guy said that it meant sayonara. <Normally "Sayonara" but I like your spelling better. More colourful (pun intended). Anyway, swim bladder problems are a symptom. Think about something like shoulder pains. Can be over-exertion at tennis, can be a heart attack. Symptoms are indicators, but identifying the problem itself is what matters.> I was just going with that. Another site recommended some antibiotic stuff but I don't want to do that unless I have to and I figured that they were just trying to sell some chemical stuff and make some money so... I decided to ask you and it is completely different just like it was for the ich. <Antibiotics are not available to people in the UK without prescriptions, and so the fishkeepers who get antibiotics here also get veterinarian advice in terms of diagnosis and treatment to follow. As a result, I can't offer you any expert advice about using antibiotics in your aquarium since I have no personal experience. You shouldn't need to use antibiotics to treat whitespot though. There are copper-free remedies out there, such as Reef Safe Kick-Ich, usually containing things like Malachite Green, Formaldehyde, and Acriflavine (both organic chemicals, not copper salts). I've also used "eSHa EXIT" (marketed as safe for "sensitive species") with Synodontis (and pufferfish) and not had problems.> I only strip the tank down about every 5 -6 cleanings, otherwise I just do a gravel vacuum and replace the water using AmQuel plus and the other AmQuel with Echinacea and vitamins and minerals. <All sounds fine, but really, stripping down the aquarium is overkill provided you can siphon out the crud. I find doing small, frequent cleans works better than less frequent major cleans.> I generally take out about 2.5 gallons per cleaning which is usually the amount of water that I need to do a general vacuum over all the gravel area. I do not replace the filter every time. I only replace it when needed which is actually about every 3 weeks which according to your post may be too much so we may still be a little overstocked. <Slightly concerned about "replacing" the filter. Almost nothing in a filter needs to be replaced this often. Carbon and ammonia remover (Zeolite) media can be thrown out in my opinion. Sponges may need to be replaced every 5 years or so, and ceramic media perhaps a bit less often, but otherwise both these things need only be rinsed in aquarium water periodically. Filter wool can be changed more regularly, but if used as the biological (rather than mechanical) media, change only a small amount, 30-50%, at a time.> I usually wait until the water is about to overflow over the top. Maybe I'm waiting too long. We have a 40 gallon BioWheel. Although I have purchased a 40 gallon flu-Val for this tank and I was going to put it on and let it work in conjunction with the BioWheel for 2-3 months and then remove the BioWheel. The reason I was going to do this was because of the frequency of the filter changes. I thought the Fluval may be a little more efficient with more filter area. <Not sure what the "40 gallon Fluval" is. Here's my take on canister filters: internal canister filters (the ones you put *in* the aquarium) are convenient and easy to clean, but poor value for money. The external filters (the ones *outside* the tank) are a hassle to look after but offer the best value for money.> I did not realize that I was stressing him by flushing him out. I really just wanted to make sure he was okay and not dead in there. <Resist the temptation!> The water temp is at 82 where I always have it (maybe it's too warm?). Nitrate level is @ 40ppm, nitrite is between the 0 and .5, water is very hard, Alkalinity is @ 120-180 and ph is @ 7.8. <OK, here's your problem. The nitrites are WAAAAYYY too high. They should be ZERO. What this suggests is that either [a] the filter is too small for the tank; [b] the filter is not fully matured yet; or [c] you are cleaning the filter too harshly, killing off the bacteria each time. It may be a combination of all three things. Really, truly, honestly, filters are best left alone. The selection of fish you have implies a largish aquarium, and my guess is that you will need *both* filters to keep good water quality (or else, one big filter, such as a Fluval 304 or 404 external filter). Plecs are huge when fully grown and make a lot of pollution. If money is tight, then an undergravel filter can be a wise investment. Although they have lots of shortcomings, they represent excellent value for money in terms of biological filtration. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwugfiltr.htm . Another issue is water temperature; unless you have good reason to do otherwise, 25C/77F is the best setting. Remember, the warmer the water, the less oxygen it carries. This causes problems not just for the fish but also the filter bacteria.> What should I be doing different. I want to make sure that I have an ideal environment for him although at this point it may be too late. I have been feeding the tank a mixture of small amounts of flake (I have 4 Scissortails and one bleeding heart tetra), 2-3 veggie wafers, an algae wafer and I rotate between brine shrimp and bloodworms. <This all sounds fine. But the Knifefish is likely to eat the small tetras eventually.> I haven't noticed the upside down catfish eating the veggie wafers but the knife fish loves them. <Fish are funny like this. They have much broader "tastes" that we give credit. I have a pufferfish that likes peas! Generally, the wider the diet, the healthier the fish. Just as with humans.> The 2 cories appear to eat about anything with the Pleco of course going for the veggie wafers or the algae. I tried putting some zucchini in the tank about two months ago but no one would touch it. <Odd. Most plecs love the stuff. Try cucumber. Also, bear in mind they sometimes prefer the veggies softened a little. Zapping in the microwave for ten seconds can make all the difference.> I put one in one day and changed it to a fresh one the next and everybody acted like it was the plague so I took it out. <I tend to leave veggies in the tank until they fall apart. Because they contain little protein, the effect on water quality is minimal (no ammonia source).> What are your suggestions for me on feeding? <Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfoods,fdg,nutr.htm .> Especially with this latest development. Can you make a prediction and tell me whether you think he's going to make it or not? <Impossible to say, but my money would be on him surviving to a ripe old age *if* the water quality is improved.> Should I just leave him alone for a couple of days or should I try to get him to eat some squished peas? What if he won't eat? <He likely won't eat while the water is poor. Cut back putting food in the tank by 50%, do 50% water changes every day for a week, and DO NOTHING to the filter. Zip. Nada. Sit on your hands for the next month or two as far as the filter goes. This should all help improve water quality. My guess would be once the nitrites sink to zero, your Syno will be out and about at night time looking for grub. Put in half a cube of frozen (not freeze dried) bloodworms every other night, and the Syno will eat those. Don't bother feeding the catfish during the daytime for now.> I know you can't come here and save him for me, but I really appreciate being able to pick your brain for your wisdom. Thanks again Rachel <Good luck, Neale>

Re: Upside down catfish 5/10/07 Hi Neale: Rachel here again. <Hello Rachel!> I have been doing what you recommended. 50% water changes, food reduction and a temp reduction to 78 degrees. Nitrite and ammonia levels are @ 0. <Very good. Water changes are the cheapest but most effective way to improve fish health, PERIOD.> Thanks for directing me to the food article by the way. I have purchased a few other things because of it and replaced my other food with fresh food. <Good stuff. Glad the article helped. Feeding fish on stuff from the kitchen is surprisingly easy and inexpensive and healthy.> My little catfish disappeared for a few days. He reappeared this evening. His color looks better. His tail is still up but more at an angle instead of straight up. He seems to be a little more balanced. He also appears to be skimming the gravel a bit. He still goes over to the corner though and sticks his nose into the gravel with the tail up and he still seems to be labored in his breathing. <But it sounds like he's on the mend. Give it time.> Here's where I need more of your wisdom. He looks bruised. He has a dark red spot just in front of his dorsal fin (the fin on the top, I hope I'm calling it by the right name). <He has two fins on the back -- one with a big spine, the dorsal fin, and one that has no spines further back, that's the adipose fin.> He has dark red round area right at the spot just behind his belly and then an additional red spot toward his tail. These are only on his right side. He also looks to have some faint, spotty red lines almost like slashes ///// on his left side but under the skin. <Curious. Difficult to diagnose with a photo. Catfish lack scales and are easily scratched, but providing conditions are otherwise good these scratches heal easily. In fact fish generally have very good healing abilities for minor damage, in some ways better than our own.> These are definitely not external wounds. He looks to have some internal bleeding although I'm not a fishy doctor. What do you think about this? <Internal bleeding if mild (i.e., a bruise) tends to go away by itself but if serious (i.e., a hemorrhage) is generally fatal and impossible to treat without surgery, itself not really viable on a small fish. Furthermore, wounds of various kinds can be caused by other problems. Leeches leave scars, diseases like Fish TB and Ulcer Disease can leave bloody lesions, and so on. Either way, a photo is required to say anything positive in terms of diagnosis. In the meantime, optimize water quality & diet, perhaps add a mild antiseptic like Melafix, and observe.> Rachel <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Upside down catfish 5/10/07 Hi Neale: <Greetings!> It's me again. This crazy person in the U. S. who seems to be totally obsessed with a dying fish. Actually I have four kids 6 and under and I normally would not spend so much time in observation of my tank buddies. I love them but don't have much time to stop. <Who, the fish or the children?> Since my last email to you, I've seen him swimming very fast and totally erratic. No rhyme or reason. Spinning, shooting to the bottom, swimming to the top and then going to lay at the bottom. He seems to be a little weak as far as the tank current too. <Wild swimming is often a sign of sudden changes in the environment. Some species simply play when freshwater is added -- danios are famous for getting all frisky when cool water is added to an aquarium. But more usually it is an alarm reaction, the fish instinctively trying to move from somewhere uncomfortable to somewhere safer.> As I'm writing this to you, my little cat is at about mid-tank level swimming/spinning erratically. He appears to be on his way out although I hope I'm wrong. <Sounds grim. I'd definitely do a big water change, at least 50%, to dilute anything in the tank that might be harming him. Also, consider if it possible anything is getting in the tank that shouldn't. Paint fumes for example. Children sometimes drop things like pennies into aquaria, and these can poison the fish, so also watch for things like that. One last thing. Make sure the dechlorinator you are using removes chloramine as well as chlorine. Some water suppliers use chloramine, and it is toxic to fish. Not all dechlorinators remove it.> I'm thrown off a little by this because his color looks so much better and his tail is not straight up. Now he seems to be exhibiting different behaviour. <It is very odd.> I also tried the cucumber like you recommended and my Pleco wants to offer you his sincerest thanks for a fine, new meal. <My Panaque nigriventris (a similar species) loves cucumber rind, and by offering some at the same time each day I trained her to come out during the daytime (normally this species is very shy and nocturnal). Take a look here: http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/files/panaque_high.mov > I also thought I'd get a little creative and I threw a peeled red grape in (washed first of course). He likes that too but not as much as the cucumber. <Almost anything plant-based is worth trying. Some plecs enjoy sweet potatoes and carrots, others like a bit of melon rind. Dandelion leaves are usually enjoyed. Most like cooked peas, and these are good sources of fibre as well as protein. The only things to avoid are acidic fruits and things that are toxic unless cooked, such as rhubarb or certain beans. A healthy Plec diet should be around 90% plant material and only 10% meaty foods like prawns or mussels. It is also a good idea to add some bogwood if there isn't any already there. Some plecs use the wood as a source of fibre, and a few actually digest it.> Rachel <Cheers, Neale>

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

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

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

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