FAQs on Freshwater Head & Lateral Line
Disease, HLLE, HITH (Hole In The Head)... 2
Related Articles: Head and Lateral Line Disease (HLLE), Freshwater
Diseases, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Freshwater Medications,
Related FAQs: Freshwater
HLLE 1, & FAQs on FW HLLE: Causes/Etiology, Cures, Non-Cures, FW
Case Histories, SW Case
Histories, & Marine HLLE: HLLE
1, HLLE 2, HLLE 3, Nutritional Disease, Aquarium
Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish Parasites, Ich/White Spot Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease,
Freshwater tropical parrotfish; HITH
Could you tell me of something called Hith my fish has a tiny white spot
on top of its head and someone on another website says it looks like
hith but I've never heard of it
<HITH is an abbreviation standing for "Hole in the Head" disease. The
"holes" go into the head of the fish, as opposed to the white pimples
characteristic of Whitespot (Ick) so it is generally easy enough to tell
the two diseases apart. HITH is a difficult disease to treat unless you
use Metronidazole, which is the best medication available for the
disease. HITH may be related to a parasitic organism called Hexamita,
which infects and
destroys the sensory pores in the skin, but the trigger is invariably
environmental stress. In the case of cichlids -- which are more prone to
HITH than any other freshwater fish -- low oxygen, high nitrate, and a
poor diet (no fresh greens) seem to be the "holy trinity" of causal
Prevention is better than cure, but in its early stages, HITH can be
treated with Metronidazole, as mentioned earlier. Follow the
instructions carefully, including removing carbon from the filter during
Oscars and Hexamita 1/31/17
Hello, i have had so much of a problem with Oscars and i hear they are
supposedly hearty fish.
<Sort of. While they're big, they're also notoriously sensitive to water
quality. This is true for most big cichlids. Virtually all problems with
Oscars come down to poor environment or poor diet. Often a combination
I used to have 2, 3 inch Oscars one was a black and red tiger Oscar and
the other is an albino.
<Used to have...? What happened to them...?>
I have/had them in a large hexagonal tank, when i got the tank i didn't
know how many gallons it was cause it was donated to me. So, i took
measurements of it and found out its a 20 gallon even though it looks
bigger than just 20 gallons.
<Regardless of appearances, 20 gallons is MUCH TOO SMALL even
for three inch long Oscars. Once they get past the "fry" stage,
Oscars are jumbo fish. I'd be looking at 55 gallons, minimum, for
juvenile Oscars; adults
should be provided with at least twice that.>
Last spring i got the Oscars to fill the tank and i love them very much
except a couple weeks after i got the Oscars the tiger Oscar (his name
was Julius Caesar) developed Hexamita on his left gill that just kept
going and going until it ate down his lateral line and completely
through his tail.
<Absolutely typical reaction to poor environment. Now,
the thing here is that while everyone focuses on ammonia and nitrite
(with an "i"), with cichlids, nitrate (with an "a") is the silent
killer. Cichlids are extremely sensitive to nitrate. Because Oscars are
big, greedy feeders the nitrate level in their tanks can go up very
quickly. Anything above 20 mg/l
is stressful, and anything above 40 mg/l will make them sick. A big tank
dilutes nitrate, while substantial weekly water changes removes
It infested his jaw so bad that when he died he didn't have a lower jaw
left, i felt so bad for that fish. When i went to my very informed fish
store owner who has had and sold fish for more than 20 years he
recommended to me that i use Metronidazole, it was MetroPlex by SeaChem.
a little bit in a bottle for 16 crappy dollars that didn't do anything
to help my poor Julius.
<Metronidazole is the correct medication. However, it will not do
anything if the environment is wrong. It's kind of like trying
to treat someone for burns without pulling him out of the fire.>
I treated that fish just about the entire time i had him. Up until about
two weeks before he died (this went on for 6 months) he had a healthy
appetite, had bright colors, wasn't swimming around erratically and
bumping into the tank out side of the regular symptom of Hexamita where
they will swim backwards or lay on their side and he would only use the
one effected gill sometimes.
Some days id wake up and look at him and he wouldn't use it at all and
then the next day he would be using it again. I did regular water
changes and gravel vacs i tried MelaFix and PimaFix both were completely
<In this situation, yes, useless.>
but i ended up using all of it anyway because it seemed to help with
their gill flapping a little bit , the store owner recommended to me
that i separate the fish because they would contaminate each other, and
i used the MetroPlex and Metronidazole treated food except none of it
made the one Oscar better. I didn't have the space to separate them so i
just kept them together instead of getting rid of the other one because
i figured treating them both would help keep the other from getting
infected also (i am too attached to these fish) but the albino Oscar
never showed any symptoms or
had any problems.
<Oscars are inbred now, and there is variation among strains, some being
tougher than others. Luck comes into play too, and being territorial,
non-sociable fish, dominant fish will stress other fish kept with them,
weakening their immune systems. So one fish getting sick while another
stays healthy isn't unusual.>
He wasn't getting the hex his fins were nice he is bright and active all
the time never had any Finrot or PopEye or constipation always has a
good appetite. Except now he has been alone in the hexagon tank since
2016 and its now January. I stopped the treatment of Julius two weeks
before he died because he stopped eating completely the medicine wasn't
helping and i didn't have the stomach to euthanize him myself, i cant
handle killing with my own hand.
The week he died i was sick home from school and i remember watching him
lay on the bottom and his gills just stopped flapping so i took him
outside a buried him with a little gravestone and a small tree.
However now the last day of January 2017 i noticed the albino Oscar has
similar Hexamita pits by his but hole on his side and some very small
holes on his head, they look different like somebody took a pencil and
poked holes clean through my Oscars head, they aren't sores they're
holes. He still has a good appetite. And looks/acts well, i removed the
common Pleco and all the tank decor a week ago because i though they
might be the source of my Oscars wounds, but the wounds haven't gotten
better only bigger.
<You should not be keeping Oscars and Plecs together, certainly not in
such a small tank. Plecs add substantially to water quality problems,
and in some cases they will scrape at the mucous from large cichlids,
causing physical damage and stressing the fish.>
Iv been doing small gravel vacs and water changes every couple of days.
Not a 30% change but just a jug that i had it take about 5% of the water
out and i just fill that with whatever i can get from the gravel every
day or two.i feed my Oscars what ever fish food i have, i don't have a
scheduled and marked calendar diet for them but they get a variety of
food that being frozen brine shrimp, baby brine shrimp, live brine
shrimp, krill, very little bloodworms, Hikari cichlid gold pellets,
metro soaked pellets, wax worms, crickets, and sometimes flake food, and
peas once in a while, I gave them
some cooked tilapia once too but it was a long time ago and im going out
today to get him some live black worms and some ghost shrimp. I use test
strips to test the water, ammonia and nitrites are always at 0 ph is 7,
the water that runs from my tap is hard water but it has no chlorine.
<The fundamentals of the way you're keeping this fish are right, but I
fear tank size is the killer here.>
The water is a little more alkaline than it is acidic, its was at 7.6
that last time i tested except i lost my job and have no more test
strips so i have no idea where its as of this very moment The nitrates
fluctuate a lot sometimes i find they are really high(which i then do a
larger water change) and sometimes i find they'll be really low.
<See above why this matters.>
To put it at an average id say about 25-30 ppm. I have a 40 gal filter
on it that has carbon filter pads in it (i would remove the carbon when
treating my Oscars) and a light, i live in a very warm room and between
the light and my room warmth with the sun by my window anytime i put my
fingers in the tank the water is comfortably warm.
<Oscars are tropical fish, and exposure to low temperatures is quickly
lethal. Anything below 22 C/72 F should be treated as dangerously low.>
I have an air stone that i rotate between my 5 gal my 10 gal my 2, 20
gals and a 75 gal that houses two very large jack Dempseys i have had
fish for 4 years now and all of my tanks are established through the
Please help the fish store owner got stumped and told me i should
euthanize Julius before he died and now my last Oscar is starting to get
sick and i don't know what to do cause iv started using the metro soaked
food and the sores on my albino are only getting bigger with every dose
just like Julius had and i don't want to lose my Oscar. He is the light
of my bedroom i fall asleep every night watching him swim.
<The 75 gallon tank is where the Oscars need to be!>
Could it be something wrong with the tank?
<Yes; it's too small.>
Is it possible Hexamita can be a genetic thing?
<Nope. Nitrate above 20 mg/l is a problem, and unless you're
doing daily water changes, it's unlikely you can keep nitrate that low
with one or two Oscar juveniles in a 20 gallon tank. Cheers,
re: Oscars and Hexamita 2/3/17
Thank you Neale for your advice.
Ill put the Oscar in with the jack Dempseys and see how they get along
<Wouldn't hold out much hope here. Adult JDs can/will pulverise juvenile
Oscars if they feel their territory is being encroached. Oscars are not
really "fighters" outside of breeding, whereas JDs can be extremely
territorial. Not always, but often. I'd be watching these fish very
carefully. I'd remove the JDs first, rearrange the tank so territories
broken up, add the Oscars, turn the lights out, leave it like that for
half an hour at least, then re-introduce the JDs. Standard operating
practise with territorial cichlids, really.>
and if they don't like each other ill get him a bigger tank
<Do suspect this is on the cards; I'd start looking now! Cheers, Neale.>
Uaru Hexamita 4/26/16
Hello. I am Svetlana. I have 3 Uaru 3”. I got them in January from local
pet store. They was in the store for 2 month and was eating everything
they would give them. I place them in my 55 gl with 2 butterflies and 3
clown loaches ( I will buy a big tank later). I take water to pet store
to check, they told me everything is good, pH 6.5,
<What is the water hardness here?>
temperature 82F. They stop eating and got white stringy pop after 2
weeks I had them. I treat whole tank with Seachem Metroplex.
They got better and was eating after dosing for 5 times every 2nd day.
<I'd stop... Metronidazole is too nephrotoxic...>
2-3 weeks later same problem ( not eating, white pop). I treat them in
hospital tank 10 gl with 7 doses of metro aging. they did get better and
were eating, but 2 weeks later same problem. Please l have a couple
1.I think it is Hex and only treatment is metro??
<Is the best>
2. I am dosing them in 10 gl tank for a 5 days now without any
improvement yet… they have not being eating for around 10 days now.
<Stop; the problem is something else>
They are in the 10 gal tank and I dose them with Seachem Metroplex 3
times now accordingly instructions. please let me know if I should
increase the dose? or any other meds i should be using?
<I'd try an Anthelminthic... Praziquantel... see WWM re>
Please help, Svetlana
<Trying. Bob Fenner>
Juvenile Uarus hex? 4/26/16
On the pictures one fish has long white-clear long string (pop?).
<Appears to be... Need to sample and look under a microscope... for
encapsulated eggs, or? BobF>
The other two do not pass any poo last 2 days...
I soaked mini blood worms in metro and garlic and refroze it. I know
they should eat veggies but it is only one of them would have interest
in. But spit it out and nothing is eaten....I even bought and put plants
for them (they was destroying them before), no interest .... Thanks,
sorry for long emails.
Re: Juvenile Uarus hex? 4/27/16
Hello Bob, I will try to find somebody to do the test with microscope.
Should I continue with Metro for now??
<See our first email: No; kills fish kidneys w/ too much exposure>
Do you think the salt in small amount would help?
<Perhaps Epsom; as gone over on WWM.>
higher temperature ( 85F now)??
<IF you can keep up dissolved oxygen. B>
Re: Uaru Hexamita 4/30/16
Hello Bob thank you for reply. I did PraziPro for 5 days prior the last
treatment of metro and was no change. In the store they told me that I
can use PraziPro with metro together.
<Yes; this is so>
I did not remove PraziPro from the water and started metro on april21
daily. Hardness was 9 last time I checked but I will go to pet store
again and send you the correct reading of everything. Due to metro
treatment I have no chemical filtration and I go 30%water change with
bottom clean up daily using 1day aged conditioned water.
I redose the mess for new changed water amount. The tank is not cycled.
I do have established 55 gl tank with clear water, can I use that?
I live in small town and may be our water is not good?
<Can't say from here>
I can bring water from different city (it is what I did 2 years ago for
5 years) ?? I can even get osmotic water if you think it would help?
<Ask at your "water district"... the contact info. should be on your
water/utility bill; for water quality analysis>
Any of your advise would be very helpful to me. Thank you, will send you
a picture of them��
<Please do. Bob Fenner>
Sick 7 yr. Tiger Oscar, HITH
My 12 in. 7 yr. Old Tiger Oscar lives in 75 gal tank with 2 306 Fluval
canister filter a 400 mainland hob. He developed hth. from over feeding
<Hole-in-the-Head? Rest assured that this is treatable, though you do
need very specific medications, and need to medicate promptly.>
I treated with MelaFix and then Ali general cure as directed.
<Both useless for this. Hole-in-the-Head is partly related to diet,
partly to water quality, and partly to a parasitic protozoan called
Which is the most important of these remains a matter of debate! But you
need to consider, and tackle, all three. First, diet. Stop
feeding if water quality isn't good. When you do start feeding again,
you need to ensure plenty of fresh greens. Oscars are often overfed junk
food, most dangerously of all, goldfish and other live foods. When
hungry, they will eat plant foods, and these provide essential vitamins.
Grapes, melon and other soft fruit are all worth a shot. Cooked peas are
generally taken without fuss. Feel free to starve an adult for a week or
more to get them
interested! Secondly, check water quality. Ammonia and nitrite MUST be
zero, and don't feed if they're not. But crucially, nitrate must be low
as well, 20 mg/l is the upper limit for good health; even 40 mg/l is
stressful in the long term. So, a spacious tank, minimal food given to
the fish, and lots of water changes are usually the key to success when
it comes to nitrate. Finally, medication. For Hexamita, you need
Metronidazole. Often used alongside an antibiotic, but Metronidazole is
the silver bullet here.
Nothing else works. Be sure to remove carbon, if used, from the filter
Every spot cleared except 2 holes near his eye that still look pink. He
won't eat his works or any thing ! Does he need antibiotics ? Please
I'm disabled he's my therapy pet and friend .
<Well, I hope all of the above helps get him back into shape! Good luck,
Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
The past month was very hectic for me...traveling around the country to visit
grad schools, working on research, lots of presentations to do...as a result, I
STUPIDLY did not do a water change for four weeks...
<Uh-oh... To be fair, some fish handle high nitrates ("old water") rather well,
and these were the popular ones through the 60s and 70s. Non-fancy Guppies, many
of the hardy characins, Corydoras, etc. Provided the tank is
otherwise well-maintained with plenty of plant growth (even algae) to extract at
least some nitrate, these fish don't seem too bothered even by 100 mg/l nitrate
levels. However, as you correctly surmise, cichlids are not among this group!
They are notoriously sensitive, jumbo cichlids, Tanganyikan cichlids and dwarf
I finally had a break in the schedule and decided to do a 50% water change (I
did not do more than that because from experience suddenly doing a 90% water
change after none for a while kills fish) and noticed that my Geophagus has lost
skin in three small patches of his lateral line. It is not white,
pus-filled...just skin missing. I know this species is sensitive to nitrate but
he was perfectly healthy and growing larger until now, leaving the tank without
a water change for so long. I did the 50% change and added 1.5x the usual
SeaChem Prime amount.
Is it possible for the erosion to go away if I return to my weekly water change
schedule and bring the nitrates back down?
I know there are antiparasite medications for HLLE but I want to avoid using
them if I can, given that the disease is mostly environmental.
<Yes, the environment triggers the outbreak, and yes, there is some evidence of
a link between HLLE and the Hexamita parasite that is very possibly latent in
all farmed cichlids. But once "the cat's out of the bag", cichlids don't seem to
(usually) recover under their own steam. You need to push back the Hexamita or
whatever bacteria are infecting the pores, and that, in time, allows the skin
tissue to heal again. In short: the Metronidazole and Nitrofuran antibiotic
combination does seem optimal, though eSHa at least manufacturer an all-in-one
product called eSHa
HEXAMITA that supposedly treats mild cases of HLLE and HITH reasonably well
despite lacking both these ingredients.>
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)
Will these products destroy my bio filter? Because to be honest I am afraid I
don't really have time to set up a hospital aquarium and monitor it a lot...I am
running up the deadline to my senior thesis right now.
<Used as directed they should be safe. If in doubt, reduce/stop feeding, and use
Zeolite in the filter (changed every few days) as a chemical adsorbent of
ammonia. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)
My hospital tank is much smaller and uses Zeolite, so I need to monitor it very
closely when using it to know how often I need to replace the Zeolite.
<You can't predict this. That's why you test, daily, with ammonia detector.
Assume replacement every couple days, but really, depends on the size of the
fish, how frequently you do water changes, how often you feed the fish, etc...>
I can definitely treat the Geophagus in the main tank.
Out of curiosity I found an "electric blue" blue Acara, but it was sick. If I
find a healthy one, I am going to probably replace the Geophagus with it.
How sensitive are Acara to nitrate?
<Fairly sensitive. Skip water changes for a couple weeks, and you'll know about
From my experience Severums can tolerate a month without water changes ( I kept
them when the tank was solely cleaned by the monthly service) but I don't know
<Indeed. A good rule of thumb is that "old school" fish were often fairly
tolerant: Port Acara, Severums, Jewel Cichlids, even Angels to some degree.
But all cichlids are more sensitive to nitrate than tetras, barbs or catfish,
and I wouldn't recommend any of them for "near-zero maintenance" systems.>
I am not saying I plan on only doing water changes once a month, but as I said
before I am leaving to grad school this fall and I want something that won't die
if my family end up not changing the water for a couple of weeks...I know
cichlids aren't as hardy as Cypriniiform fish but there aren't many of those with
bright blues and greens.
<Understood. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault)
I bought the medications you recommended but their instructions conflict.
Metronidazole bottle says I need to change the water every 24 hours.
Nitrofurazone says every 48 hours. Which one should I follow? I did another 50%
change today. Nitrate was 5-20ppm this morning before that so it shouldn't be
too high now.
<I would go along with what the Metronidazole says. It's the most important, and
in any event, medications get metabolised in the aquarium pretty quickly, so I
doubt much is left behind beyond 24 hours. But I'll leave the last word to Bob
Fenner; he's got more experience of this/these medications than I do. Cheers,
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
So I have given the Geophagus four doses of the Metronidazole and two doses of
the Nitrofurazone. I gave the latter in half doses as I didn't want to stress
the bio filter too much. I ran out of the pure Metronidazole but I have API
general cute, which has both Metronidazole and Praziquantel. Could I use it
until I get more pure stuff, or is the unneeded Praziquantel too risky?
<Should be fine.>
I am curious: would it make the Metronidazole more effective if I gave it as
medicated food? I have been using it as a bath.
<It's much, MUCH better as food... gets inside the fish more quickly.>
As for the Geophagus, the erosion is gone on his left side, but is still holding
steady on his right side. To be honest I don't think it is Hexamita as the other
usual symptoms (head erosion, stringy feces, pus etc) are not present. If it
isn't then perhaps the antibiotic is more important and should be stepped up?...
<Metronidazole is an antibiotic, so should help in this direction too.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second
Dear Wet Web Media,
I am happy to report that the right side lateral line erosion in my Geophagus is
I've finished the recommended dosages of Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole. I was
wondering how long you think I should keep medicating him.
<One round may be sufficient if the fish is improving, PROVIDED water quality
and diet are excellent. I'd certainly wait a week or so before considering a
second round of treatment, with a couple decent water changes thrown in to
dilute any remaining medicine.>
Do you recommend any places online for buying medicine for fish?
<Can't help you here. In the UK these med.s. are strictly prescription only.
Indeed, buying from a vet may be cheaper if the vet can prescribe a larger
quantity at once go than you'd get from a pet shop. Otherwise online purchases
may be helpful, but you never really know what you're getting from eBay and the
Because buying it from my LFS has been very expensive. Just out of curiosity, in
reading about lateral line erosion in cichlids, I've heard some people
claim carbon in the filter can cause it, as well as poor diet.
I'm skeptical about the former, but the latter seems it could have some
<Absolutely. The carbon thing has been around for years and seems to lack any
science behind it. But diet is surely crucial. Many cichlids are strongly
herbivorous in the wild, but we often don't give them much by way of fresh
Then again, I think most of the dietary claims were addressed towards people who
feed their cichlids things they shouldn't like beef hearts and goldfish?
<Indeed. What we're talking about is giving cichlids a safe (i.e.,
parasite-free) diet that's varied (i.e., includes plant as well as animal
Just for future reference what are the tolerable nitrate levels for cichlids
like Geophagus and blue Acara? I know in general <20ppm is a good idea but is
that still too high?
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
It's been about a month and I can't really tell if the Geophagus' lateral line
is getting better anymore or not. Do you have any idea how long it
generally takes to go away?
<A long time. You should quickly see any loose material fall away and
the holes obviously not getting any bigger (or any new holes appearing). But the
pits themselves, once formed, take a long while to heal. Quite possibly months,
and the fish may well never completely heal, with obvious scars remaining.>
It's restricted to a patch on his right side, and it's sort of just...there.
I've gone back to my weekly 50% water changes.
<Do bear in mind that HITH/HLLE are strongly affected by diet and environment.
I will say that I had to fast the fish for three days after one of my giant
Danios ate way too much...they've learned to eat from the bottom now, and
they're so much faster than the other fish. I've been able to get enough food to
the other fish, but it's been difficult to prevent the Danios from eating too
much for their stomach-less bodies. Could the fast have made the Geophagus'
I know you said many cichlids are mostly herbivorous, but I think Geophagus
mostly eat invertebrates.
<More specifically, they sift the sediment for insect larvae and organic
detritus. They will be consuming a lot of algae in the process. Apart from the
dedicated piscivores, pretty much all cichlids consume some combination of
insects, algae and detritus.>
How often should they be given fresh greens?
<As often as they'll take them; certainly weekly.>
He'll eat carrots, and peas, but tougher things like leafy vegetables and
cucumbers don't interest him at all.
<Indeed. He's not a specialist herbivore like a Severum, but anything soft and
mushy is fair game.>
P.S. I recently saw a really horrifying video of someone feeding their
girlfriend's Finrot-infected Betta to their Oscar to put it out of its misery
(or more likely, transfer its misery to the Oscar). Worst of all, someone I
respected defended it with the standard "it happens in nature" response...kudos
to you guys for standing up to this nonsense. (I once kept a pair of venustus
whose favorite food was seaweed; this idea that predatory cichlids only eat live
fish is complete nonsense.)
<Quite so. Back in the early 80s when I started keeping fish, I came across a
pet shop with half a Goldfish (the front half) swill alive, gills and mouth
moving as it breathed, but obviously unable to swim because it had lost its back
half. They'd been feeding Goldfish to Oscars. This memory has stayed with me,
not just for its inhumanity, but also because it's unnecessary. Thankfully, the
"feeder fish" thing is virtually non-existent in the UK hobby, but it carries on
in the US for some reason, despite the wealth of aquarium talent there. That's
why I keep stressing the "no feeders" message on WWM, in the hope that I'll help
to change that. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I found some frozen algae, is it possible I could use this as part of the
Geophagus' vegetable matter?
<Yes; worth trying... as is "Mud" filtration media... biological catalysts...
see WWM re. Most celebrated for marine use, but does have discernible beneficial
effects in freshwater systems>
The issue is that, like I've mentioned before, I've been hoping to replace the
Geophagus with less delicate fish species before I go off to grad school.
However, I am worried that, if it will take months for him to heal,
then his wounds will just get reinfected from the stress of moving him.
I'm not quite sure what to do in this situation...I'm worried my parents won't
always adhere to the maintenance he requires...I suppose I could add the other
species now and then get my parents to remove him soon after I leave...
<Perhaps gifting to some one, place where the fish will get good care>
As far as what fish species would be best, I'm looking for something brightly
colored, blue, red, green, yellow, etc. that isn't particularly aggressive, but
not delicate either.
I know rainbowfish could possibly work, but how delicate are they exactly?
<Most very hardy... JUST read on WWM Re>
From my experience when I only had monthly service, and what I've read about
them, they seem particularly prone to columnaris threading up their mouths and
gills when the water quality isn't good enough.
Gouramis are nice, and I've tried keeping them with the silver dollars before,
but they seem vulnerable in their pectoral fin threads. I'm concerned they'll
I've seen you recommend platies as a good colorful but hardy fish, and my water
is moderately hard so I think they'll like it, but what concerns me is that
they're too small. From my experience, even though the silver dollars don't try
to eat them, very small fish are stressed out by their presence.
(For the record, it was mentioned many months ago, but my water parameters are
pH 7.9, GH of 11 degrees, and KH of 5 degrees. Could this be stressing out the
<Would be better if the pH and hardness were a bit lower...>
I doubt it is a large contributor given I've seen other people keeping very
large, healthy Geos in Houston's alkaline tap water)
<Yes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I think I have found why the Geo has been slow in recovering. Apparently
my nitrate spiked up to 40-80 ppm all of a sudden, despite the water changes,
and I think I know why.
<Yeeikes! Have you read on WWM re controlling NO3 yet?>
After I spilled juice from frozen fish food and angered some of my
family members, I've not been melting the food before putting it in the tank.
<You haven't been reading... all such foods should be rinsed ahead of placing>
I think the juice has been overwhelming me with nitrates.
<Ah yes; a good source>
When I let the frozen food thaw first, and did not let the juice get in the
tank, my nitrates were under 20 ppm if I did weekly water changes. I knew the
juice would raise nitrates, but I did not realize it would produce that much. I
did a 60% water change after getting these readings...I'm sort of freaking out
The reason is, I think that the Geo has become bloated, and I'm not sure
if it's dropsy or what. I attached a couple of pictures. Should I go back to the
<I would not>
His lateral line issues haven't gotten worse and seem to be healing still, but
now I'm worried he's got a new problem...
I'm sorry if I seem like a complete wreck. Some of my family members do not
appreciate my hobby, and so there are some things I just can't get help with.
<Fix the environment... BobF>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
After a combination of lots of water changes, cleaning the gravel/under
gravel filter, and reducing the amount of high-protein food I have gotten the
nitrates to 0-5ppm.
I also have been feeding the Geophagus cooked peas, carrots, and whole corn
seeds, and well as New Life Spectrum cichlids pellets and Hikari Algae Wafers.
With the improvements in diet & environment the bloating is gone.
Perhaps I should have been clear when I said I spilled the juice...I didn't
spill it in the tank, but on the floor, and it was bloodworm blood...
I started feeding whole frozen food after that incident for fear of messing up
my parents' house. Before that I was able to keep nitrates under 20 ppm for a
few months with weekly water changes, but skipping them for a month and then
feeding frozen incorrectly messed up my streak.
After reading I know now I will go back to thawing the food off first and
draining the juice off. If that isn't enough I will buy a brine shrimp net as
advised and rinse them out outside.
<Thank you for this update. Bob Fenner>
Re: Geophagus With Lateral Line Erosion...(all my fault) RMF, second opinion!!
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I am sorry for this whole debacle. I had read that Geophagus "surinamensis" was
nitrate sensitive before buying him, but I had also read that about most other
cichlids, some of whom I had kept in the past and didn't find more delicate than
other freshwater fish, so I thought this wouldn't be really that much of a
<Indeed. Cichlids as a group are more sensitive to nitrate than, say, characins.
But within the cichlids there is variation, and many of the farmed cichlids,
particularly Angelfish, are tougher than their ancestors.
On the other hand, there are some cichlids that seem to retain a high degree of
sensitivity to old water, and that's what we're talking about rather than
nitrate per se. Infrequent water changes, overfeeding/inappropriate feeding,
insufficient oxygenation, and excessively high temperatures seem to be the
combination of factors that wear down the immune systems of many cichlid
species. Nitrate is a good shorthand indicator of when these factors are at
play, but I've seen perfectly healthy cichlids in high nitrate tanks were
environmental conditions and diet were otherwise excellent, for example, through
the cultivation of fast-growing floating plants in an understocked,
over-filtered aquarium or tropical pond.>
However he has proven to be far more touchy than literally anything I've kept so
far---this is the first time where just a month without water changes made a
fish sick almost immediately. I guess I had taken on more than I expected.
<This is a common experience with Geophagines (and dwarf cichlids too). Success
with Angels and Kribs doesn't predict success with the touchier cichlids.>
I will keep the nitrates low and feed him what I've been feeding him until his
lateral line heals...then I will try to find somebody else better equipped for
I was also going to follow through on my rainbowfish idea as a "replacement" for
the Geo (at least in terms of blue & red colors). I have a 12g quarantine tank
and zeolite, so I think I could get them clear of diseases before I put them in
the main tank.
What worries me is that both the Geo and my clown loach chase after the silver
dollars during feeding. The dollars are faster than they are and aren't hurt by
it, but I am concerned rainbowfish might not be able to take it. What is the
<Agreed with you, this sounds inappropriate. A school of (large species)
Rainbowfish adults might be okay in a rough-and-tumble community, but they're
far less of a certainty than Silver Dollars and Spanner Barbs, the two "go-to"
species for such set-ups. Spanner Barbs in particular are extremely hardy fish,
and back in the 60s and 70s they were practically ubiquitous choices for such
I know clown loaches are more docile in groups, but I don't think I'd be able to
keep a whole group in this tank for long. I could possibly get a couple more at
some point, but only depending on how fast they grow.
<Indeed. Clowns have a tendency to go nuts when kept singly. Most become
reclusive, but some try to school with other fish, perhaps harassing them in the
process. Again, recalling the 70s, it was common for people to report their
single Clown school with Tiger Barbs!>
I looked into the mud and algae filtration systems, but I'm not really sure if I
can set up something like that at this point.
<A simpler choice might be a sump, which you can illuminate with fluorescent
tubes and stock with floating plants and fully expect an improvement in water
quality. Or for that matter, throw some floating Indian Fern into your tank.
These plants are AMAZING at keeping water quality good. They grow rapidly,
turning fish waste into plant material you can physically remove (and share with
other aquarists!). Of course this wonderful plant is also a source of green food
for herbivorous fish, which love to eat it, so it's a win/win. Keeps the water
clean, provides essential vitamins, useful shade, and a holiday food when you're
gone a couple weeks! Do read:
Bob's as much a fan as I am, and truly, this cheap plant is one of the best
investments for any freshwater aquarist.>
To be honest I'm not sure it's worth it, given that I could just keep nitrates
down with water changes/less proteinaceous foods (most of my fish are big
vegetable eaters anyway). My aquarium light rests on a piece of glass above the
tank, and algae grows very much on the underside of the glass...
<Do remove the glass if you add floating plants.>
Is it possible leaving the light on longer could help?
<Theoretically, yes; but in practise extending the lights-on time tends to cause
problems with undesirable algae (blue-green for example) and annoys those fish
that dislike bright light (catfish, loaches, etc.).>
Even diatoms remove nitrate, right?
<Marginally, yes. But nothing like as effectively as higher plants such as
floating Indian Fern. If you aren't removing handfuls per week, then it's not
doing anything useful. Algae scrubbers rely on massive growth rates under
intense lighting. They're not simply letting algae grow somewhere!>
Thank you for everything,
Green Severum with white pimples all over
he's head 7/26/11
Green Severum With HITH
Dear crew, I have two large green Severums in my 3 meter tank. They
occupy the tank with ten little Frontosas and a few small Malawi
cichlids. The Severums have been breeding prolifically, but about two
weeks I noticed the couple were having a bit of a squabble that
resulted in the male getting a few little bites ( I think). Now two
weeks later the male has white pimples all over he's head. I've
attached a few photos. I really hope this is not the dreaded HITH
disease. If so I've been advised to use a remedy called Octozin (
not sure about the spelling). So my questions
1. Is this in fact hole in the head?
< Sure looks like it. But you mentioned damage from bites. The bites
may be infected causing the appearance of HITH.
2. Is the prescription of Octozin the right medication?
< Don't know. I am not familiar with this medication and
couldn't find it on the internet to see what the ingredients are.
Look for medications with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace in
3 I am hoping to get to red spotted Severums this afternoon.....is it
ok for me to add them to my current setup given the problems with the
< I would not add additional fish until the problems with the
current fish are resolved. Chuck.>
Hoping you can help Mohammed Parker
Re: Green Severum with white pimples all over he's head 8/3/11
Severum with HITH II
Hi Chuck, Thanks a million for your response....I isolated the little
man, medicated him and the whitish pimples went away leaving small
little holes in he's head . It now seems he's one eye is
that as a result of the medication or ???? What now :(
< Your fish is not out of the woods yet. The holes need to heal and
close up. The swollen eye is a parasite behind the eye pushing the eye
out of the socket. Check the nitrates and get them under 10 ppm. Treat
with a combination of Metronidazole and Furan-2. It may take awhile to
see some results but you have caught it early and that is important for
a full recovery.-Chuck.>
Requesting information on Flower Horn disease
Flowerhorn with HITH Disease 12/9/10
Hello, My flower horn developed medium-size blisters (around 1/4 of an
inch) on its head that eventually popped and they now look red as the
skin is gone and they are raw (it turned into a big open, raw patch as
the blisters exploded). This is the second time it happened. I
apparently cured her the first time but he got it for the second time,
one after the other, only 2 days apart. Just after I put the carbon in
and it looked like the situation was normal, the blistered came back,
exactly in the same area as before which is on the
fish's head. She is a female and almost 7 years old, the only fish
in a 55 gallon tank running on two Emperor 400 by Marineland, pads and
carbon are changed on a regular basis, one filter at a time so that the
biological filtration is not affected. I changed the water in large
doses (before and after and between
doses) and added cichlids salt and regular salt (the type intended for
fish). She was never fed feeders, only pellets, shrimp and bloodworms.
She was never overfed or underfed. The fish was treated with E.M.
While being medicated, I used an Aqua Clear filter 500, the largest one
from the manufacturer and two
large air stones. I did that in order not to infect the emperor filters
and I used a 30 gallon tank as a quarantine setup. She is still in the
quarantine tank as of now. What would be the next step?
Thank you in advance for all your help. Best regards.
< Your Flowerhorn has a case of Hole In The Head (HITH) disease. It
generally affects New World cichlids. The cause is unknown at this
time. It may be related to stress, diet or environmental factors. For
now I would recommend checking the water chemistry. The nitrates should
be under 20 ppm but the lower the better. I would change brand of
pellets to see if that made a difference. I would skip the bloodworms
for now. Try treating with a medicated food with Metronidazole in it.
The open wounds can be treated with Furan-2.-Chuck>
Geriatric Severum with HITH
Severum With HITH Disease 10/14/10
I am writing because I have never seen a worse case of Hole-in-the-Head
in person and because I am not sure how the advanced age of the fish
will/should effect treatment decisions.
I have recently adopted a 14 year old male Severum. It is a magnificent
old fish, 8-9 inches long and friendly. Unfortunately it also came a
terrible case of case of HITH. It appears to act normally, however its
head and jaws are covered with shallow pits and what I thought were two
white stripes down its sides are actually a series of small pits. Its
previous home (with a loach) was a 29-gallon tank covered with hair
algae and cleaned monthly. I brought it home to a 40-gallon tank with
live plants. I don't have room for
anything larger between my 120's, but I have very good, neutral
well water and do a 50% change whenever the nitrates reach 10ppm.
Ammonia and nitrites are currently zero. I am offering the fish New
Life Spectrum as well as homemade gel food, and considering a course of
Metronidazole once I see it beginning to eat more- but I don't know
how much time I have, how fast the disease progresses, how age will
affect the dosage, or how many years this fish has left. I am growing
attached to this old fish already and want to know what I can do to
ensure its recovery. Thank you for your time and any advice! Thanks
for keeping up this site too.
< Keep the nitrates under 10 ppm. Look for a medicated food with
Metronidazole in it. Feed this in addition to the New Life food. HITH
may be related to a calcium deficiency since fish that live in soft
water tend to get it more than other cichlids. Your fish is old and
will take some time to get better. progress may be slow so be
Red Devil Cichlid, HLLE 7/25/10
Hello there. Thanks for the help you guys have given me before, and
thanks for all the help you give everyone on a daily basis. What you
have going on is a great service to the aquarium hobby. I have had a
red devil cichlid for about 7 years now, and he is about 11 inches. I
am embarrassed to admit it, but up until a year and a half ago, he had
been seriously neglected and in a 29 gallon tank. Because of this, he
started to get HITH. As soon as I noticed this, I did everything I
could to stop the damage (including Metro+)
<Not helpful in cases caused by poor environment>
that was being caused by my laziness. I got him a 55 gallon (of course
for only him...no other fish) which is the largest I am able to afford
and keep in my house.
Anyway, in the year and a half he has been in this 55 the HITH has not
progressed...however the holes have not healed either. Is this to be
<The damage may not heal>
Water parameters are: 78 degrees Fahrenheit, 0 ammonia and nitrites and
I try to keep the nitrates under 20, but by water change time it is
usually around 30. The nitrates have me concerned, I am doing 50
percent weekly water changes, sometimes 70 percent. He eats two of new
life spectrum 7mm floating pellets daily. Should I be
feeding him more than that?
<Yes... I'd think he'd eat a few times as much>
Should I increase the water changes?
<I would increase the amount of filtration, not change more than a
third of the water at one go>
I realize that the tank is small for him and will make controlling
nitrates more difficult, but it is the best I can do for the time being
and I am willing to change water as needed. The other question I have
is about my water hardness, I just found out that it is 330ppm.
I am finding conflicting information as far as if they need hard or
soft water, and saw one thing that said hard water may lead to
Is this true?
<Not as far as I'm aware, no>
I would appreciate any advice you could give me, and thank you again
for the service you provide.
<You may gain by reading others reports on FW HITH:
and the linked Related files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Red Devil Cichlid 7/26/10
Thank you very much for you quick response.
Sorry I forgot to mention the filtration, his water is turned over 10
times per hour (550 GPH) between a Fluval 404 (which does the bulk of
the work) and a Whisper HOB (I figured it is better used as a
supplement than not at all).
<Good to have such back-up, alternative filtration>
I have increased his feeding to six of those pellets daily, and done
some more reading on your site, including the link you referred me
As far as nitrate control goes, it sounds like I need to vacuum the
gravel better as well as service the filters much more frequently.
Even with the large frequent water changes I was doing, not doing this
often could still give me high amounts of nitrates, right?
<Yes... do see WWM re other means of NO3 control:
and the linked files above>
Previously I was thinking if you have x amount of waste, it releases y
amount of ammonia (which is turned into nitrites than nitrates) than
<Mmm, no... more dynamic, other factors at play here>
But if I understand correctly, ammonia (eventually nitrites than
nitrates) is being released into the tank constantly by the waste that
accumulates in the filter and gravel, not just the most recent
(week's worth) of waste, but all of it in the system?
<Yes, w/ the exception of some that is converted into other
materials that stay in the system and some that leaves as gasses
Regarding the my large frequent water changes, in your article on the
red devil cichlid profile, you recommend 35%-50% water changes for that
specific fish. So should I be shooting for the 35% range, with only
occasional 50% changes? Or because he is in a 55 gallon, should I just
<IF you can "trust" your source water, half changes should
be (note the qualifier) okay... I would at least store the change-out
water for the week in advance...>
So anyway, here is my plan...I would really appreciate it if you could
let me know your thoughts on it and if you think that the nitrates
should then be under control.
-Feeding 6 of the 7mm floating New Life Spectrum pellets daily.
-Vacuuming gravel every other week.
<I'd do half, one side per week... i.e., alternate
-Rinsing filter media in tank water on the weeks I am not vacuuming
gravel -Water changes as you recommend
Thanks for all your time, and I hope I am not a bother. I cannot
express to you enough how valuable your site is to fish keepers.
<Thank you for seeking clarification, and sharing. Bob
Re: Sick Oscar.. Help please
Oscar With HITH -- 7/12/10
Thanks for your advice, would like to update you about the recent
Just 2 days ago I have observed 2 small holes on the side of my Oscars
I understand it is the Hole in the head Disease and as per the same
have got AZoo Anti Endoparasite from my fish dealer for treatment.
Anything else that you would recommend cause my Oscar only prefers live
fish and raw chicken best part being that he still shows interest in
Thanks & Regards, Manish K
<Try getting your Oscar on a regular diet of high quality pelleted
Live fish carry parasites and raw chicken carries salmonella, which is
not good for you either.-Chuck>
Oscar with HITH and little worms? Help
please :( 6/22/10
<Hi Katie! Melinda here tonight.>
I'm writing because I have a 6 month old Oscar who has
developed HITH. I am treating the tanks with API General Cure
which has Metronidazole 250MG and Praziquantel 75MG and
simultaneously treating with Jungle Anti-Parasitic food pellets
(it says it is safe to treat with pellets during external water
treatments as well).
<Yes, but what of water conditions, which typically lead to
HITH? Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate?.>
My fish has exhibited no lethargy or appetite lost in
the least bit so he is gobbling up the pellets.
<Oscars are pretty tough critters. Honestly, they rarely
exhibit signs of illness until very, very late.>
Prior to treating I did a 50% water change, used tap water
conditioner to remove the chlorine and metals and also removed
the carbon filter from my BioWheel.
<Do you test? You should be. Anyone who keeps Oscars should
be. They're just so messy (I mean this with no disrespect to
these lovely fish)!>
Tank size is 20 Gallons but will be upgrading soon as he's
starting to become larger (about 2" long now).
<He needs a much larger tank, now. Please read here on
It can be caused by a myriad of problems, but the most
commonly-seen issue is water quality.
Oscars are really great, but they make huge messes. You've
got to be able to combat that, with a large enough tank and
enough maintenance. If you don't, this is the issue.>
I had other cichlids (Blood Parrots) that required minimal
attention water change wise, and lived 6+ years with not so much
as a case of Ich,
<Ich is rarely an issue with established fish. By this, I mean
fish which are in a tank, with no other fish added, and Ich
wasn't present before.>
so I did not know that I needed to keep my tank in tip top shape
for my Oscar, so admittedly the water quality was poor. By poor I
mean Nitrates were between 80-160, Nitrites around 1 and I
didn't even test for ammonia.
Since researching HITH and desperately wanting to fix my fish and
never have this occur again, I have purchased a whole arsenal of
<Yes, it's easy to buy stuff. But what of reading? Taking
the time to understand, and fixing the root of the
I bought the meds as mentioned before, I bought a bunch of carbon
filter replacements (I was only changing this around once every
3-4 months) to start doing replacements bi-weekly and I purchased
the "Lunch Box" variety pack of frozen food
(Bloodworms, Veggie and Brine Shrimp variety pack).
<I'm going to start with the following: Buy a larger
aquarium. New filter cartridges don't make up for tiny tanks.
Secondly, read here:
Your carbon filters (likely Hang-On-Back filters) aren't
going to cut it. I'd recommend a 75-gallon aquarium for this
guy, and either a filter or combination of filters which turn the
tank's volume over 10 times per hour.
You're not looking at what the filter is "rated"
for, but the turnover per hour. I see below that you're also
keeping Blood Parrots. I'd recommend a 125 gallon for all of
these fish, in the interest of (hopefully) peacefully
establishing territories and providing ample volume to dilute
That's a large amount of turnover per hour. I run a
180-gallon currently with three canister filters that do the job,
so this is one route you could go. On the other hand, I ran a
freshwater sump on a 125 while my Red-Tailed Catfish's pond
was being built, so that's another option, and it's also
cheaper. You build the sump yourself (search on Google for DIY
sumps) and then add a strong, strong pump. If you can't
afford a larger aquarium, buy a stock pond instead, and fit your
DIY sump to that. There's a lot of research to be done, but a
lot of information exists, and what you'll end up with is a
hybrid of your own ideas and the research you've
I am going to be doing weekly water changes of 25% going
<Try for 75%. You've got to get Nitrates below 20.>
I was a negligent/ignorant Oscar owner but now that I have done
my research I am going to be much, much better.
<That's great, but you're still way behind where you
should be. Your fish needs you to do more.>
With all this said, I am at the end of the external water
treatment and am going to be putting the carbon filter back in
and doing a water change in just a bit. However, upon looking
closely at my Oscar to see any signs of improvement, I noticed
two things, 1. He was 'pooping' a clearish, whitish
stringy type of waste.
It is usually red, like his pellets so I figure this must have
something to do with his current treatment? Does it mean it's
working or not working? He later pooped his normal color.
<I'd keep an eye out. Clear poop can indicate internal
parasites. It could also be an effect of poor water quality and
medication. Let's get one thing clear -- you can medicate
until the cows come home (and your fish dies), or you can get
water quality to where it should be. This is likely the problem,
and medication isn't going to help unless your fish is living
in optimal conditions (Ammonia and Nitrite of zero, Nitrate under
20. If your fish isn't getting better, and you're
medicating as heavily as you indicate above, then I'd stop
with medication (they can affect the biological filter) and just
focus on water quality, and I'd watch his poop.
(I couldn't say that anywhere but here, really.)>
2. I am seeing these tiny, tiny, thread-looking worms floating
all over the place in the water. They appear to be
'swimming' as they sort of curl around and straighten
out, like they are wiggling. They are extremely small and some
appear to be dead. I have never in my life, in 20 years of fish
keeping seen these things in a tank before. Is this the parasite
coming out of my Oscar?
<These "worms" are likely Planaria, and are a result
of overfeeding. I don't mean that everything you feed
isn't going into your Oscar's mouth.
I'm sure it is, because they're basically vacuum
cleaners! I mean that the stuff that comes out of his gills
(almost 50%, I'd say?) and lands on the gravel makes a great
feeding/breeding ground for these critters. Oscars are messy.
Those who love them accept this, and the maintenance that comes
along with them. Start gravel-vac'ing. The Planaria should
diminish once their food supply dwindles. Please read here:
My Oscar has a hole in the center of his head and about 3 smaller
holes below his nose and around his eye. It is definitely HITH.
In addition to this though, one of his pelvic fins seems to be
almost completely gone, like it is being nipped. It seems
<Finrot? Sorry, but anything is possible here. These Nitrate
levels he's living in could cause any manifestation of poor
water quality to, well... manifest. Please begin HUGE water
changes now. This guy is trying to hold out.>
The other fin is fine. On his anal and dorsal fins, he has one
perfectly symmetrical tiny hole. It looks like someone took a
hole punch and punched it. He shares this tank with two baby
blood parrot cichlids for now,
but again will be placed in much larger tank by himself
<Now, please. He's sick. He needs it. If he could speak,
he'd say so. Since he can't, I'll tell you
With that said, does the fin damage seem like it might be
aggression from the other fish (the Blood Parrots fight with each
other and him on occasion), or does it sound like he might also
have fin rot? I am most concerned with the HITH, his fin problems
and those tiny little worms.
I now know nitrites and ammonia should be 0 and nitrates should
be below 24ppm. I have test kits and will be monitoring this on a
regular basis going forward. I feel terrible I did this to him
Any ideas/suggestions? Thank you!! Your site has been extremely
helpful in educating me on how to care for Oscars.
<Katie, please place these fish into a proper environment and
begin proper maintenance. Your problems began there, and the only
answer is there.
Please do write back if you have any more questions.>
Re: Oscar with HITH and little worms? Help please :(
Thanks so much for your reply. I will update you on the changes
that I have made since your email, but my Oscar is still very
sick. I can't seem to get him better no matter what I do and
it's killing me.
<Oh... let's see if I can help.>
I just bought him is very own 50 gallon tank and removed him from
the old one and placed him in the new tank (I added the product
"Stability" to cycle the tank.
<It's good that you've gotten him larger quarters, but
I'm not really a fan of this product... I've just never
had any real positive experience with it. I tried to cycle a 55
with it a couple of years ago, and after the subsequent ammonia
spike, deemed it useless. I do like "Dr. Tim's
One-And-Only," but it's more difficult to come by in
I felt if I left him in the old tank any longer to let the tank
naturally cycle, that he would have died within a week or so.
<Unfortunately, he may be in the same situation in the new
tank... as it is, basically, not cycled.>
When I first put him in the new tank (with a heater that supports
up to 60 gallons and a Marineland hang on back filter that is
made for up to 80 gallons with 4 carbon filters in it),
<Are you using the rule we discussed earlier... dividing the
filter's gallons-per-hour by tank size, and coming up with a
turnover of at least 8 times the tank's volume per hour? And,
again, I'd like to point out that most HOB filters really
offer very little in the way of biological filtration -- carbon
is pretty much redundant in many aquariums, but what it does do
is provide surface area for bacteria to colonize. When you change
these cartridges, you remove all of that beneficial bacteria.
AquaClear makes a line of HOB filters which provide for all three
types of filtration, but with Oscars, I really think a good,
beefy canister filter is order.>
he was swimming back and forth, seemingly very happy to be able
to finally do some laps without being bothered by other fish.
<Yes, and at this point, the water was likely much, much
cleaner than in his old tank. It was only after he began to make
waste for which there was no method of export that the problems
However he then settled to the bottom and hasn't moved much
since. It has been a week since I put him in his new tank.
Ammonia levels are just barely .25, nitrate is 20 and nitrite is
.5 (nitrate is 20 right out of the tap).
<So, it is not cycled.>
I know nitrite is supposed to be 0 but I can't get it there
without the BioWheel becoming fully established it seems.
<You're right, and Ammonia is also supposed to be
I didn't put in the water conditioner yet to remove chlorine
since my chlorine reading is 0 and I don't want to put too
much stuff in there.
<Yes, but what of Chloramine? This is a product which is in a
lot of people's tap water, but does not evaporate as Chlorine
does. Go ahead and use a product like "Prime" to be
safe... and don't worry about putting it in. It won't
His condition is as follows: His original holes have still not
healed (the first hole being the deepest one right in the center
of his forehead) and he has since developed several new ones
along his head and body. His body seems to be losing scales too,
not sure if this is new holes forming or what. His ragged anal
fin still hasn't grown back nor has the ragged side fin. He
has a hole in his dorsal fin and now near his tail. It just looks
like he is getting worse.
<It sounds like it, too. Again, I can't stress how much
more easily fish succumb to bacterial infection and fungus when
they live in unhealthy conditions. It sounds like you're on
the right track to getting this guy into an environment which
will benefit him, but I worry that the ammonia and nitrite
present will spike if you don't keep a close eye on their
levels and perform frequent, large water changes. I wouldn't
consider this tank cycled, by any means, and that worries me, as
this fish probably can't handle much more.>
He has some cloudiness on the very ragged side fin near his fill
and now the other side fin has some cloudiness on it too near the
gill. I am treating with Melafix only right now to try to repair
his fins from the raggedness and the cloudiness.
<Don't worry about this, as what your fish needs is clean
water and then a real medication.>
I am afraid of over medicating because I know this can stress a
fish so I haven't treated with anything else.
<It can stress him to mis-treat and over-treat, especially if
you use several things at one time.>
The Metronidazole made him very sick. He had a very bad reaction
to it (lethargy, almost like he looks right now) so I don't
want to give him this again.
<The thing about treating fish which live in a poor
environment is that the fish is already weakened. However, if
right now, he's exhibiting the same symptoms as when you
treated with medication, then you can reasonably deduce that his
symptoms did not stem from the medication, but from environment,
I purchased Maracide in case he had Velvet (the cloudiness on his
fins), but I never administered it.
<I think what's going on with his fins is Finrot, but
please read here and see what you think: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/FWFinRot.htm.
The "cloudiness" could be swelling, which then results
in the actual fin erosion, and in the cloudy areas, you're
simply seeing the precursor to the more identifiable symptom of
I'm afraid because I don't know exactly what it is that
he has, or if he has several issues.
<I think he does, but you've got to get his water clean,
and then treat afterward. Please read here:
should get you pointed in the right direction as to how to treat
your fish properly after you determine what's wrong with him.
Since we cannot deduce that his HITH is not caused by poor water
quality, I think it would be wrong, at this point, to begin
treatment for Hexamita. I would probably focus on the other
lesions/erosion of his exterior, and treat with Maracyn. You can
use the table on this page to determine what's available in
your area that would treat his ailments.>
All I know is that nothing is helping. I switched his diet to a
mixture of pellets, frozen brine shrimp, frozen greens (which he
doesn't like at all),
and an occasional rinsed earth worm. He used to go crazy for the
earth worm and then perk right up the next day but in the last
three days he has lost his appetite completely. He won't eat
the earthworm and sucked in only one or two shrimps, only to spit
<He is not feeling well.>
I'm so worried. I have included a picture of him so you can
see his condition, both under 300k in size. You can clearly see
the poor state of his fins as well as all of the terrible holes.
How can I help him any more than I already have? Why isn't he
getting better? I have read that some Oscars "sulk" at
the bottom of the tank after switching to a new tank but he's
not eating which worries me the most.
<He has only been in his new tank one week, and his tank is
mid-cycle, and so he was a sick fish placed into another poor
environment. I would suggest attempting to find some
"seeded" filter media to more quickly cycle this tank,
but with most HOB filters, there's just no place to put it.
You could try and fit some in somewhere, and this would greatly
speed the cycling process. Or, if someone has a cycled HOB
running for a quarantine tank or the like, maybe they would let
you borrow it?>
Although I appreciated your last reply very much and it was very
informative, it didn't arrive until weeks after I wrote
<I honestly have no idea why it took that long. We try to
answer all queries within 24 hours, and I would never have pulled
your e-mail from the inbox unless I could answer it promptly. I
hope this one gets to you faster, but for future reference, you
can find your e-mail on our Daily FAQs page, and there's even
a new link so that you can see the past few days' queries in
case you miss it.>
I'm afraid if it takes that long again, I might lose him.
I'm not trying to be pushy, I'm just desperate.
<I understand, and again, I'm sorry it took so long for
you to receive my reply.>
He is only 6 months old.
<I know he is in bad shape from your descriptions and your
photos. I understand that you feel frustrated, but you must also
understand that the root of his problems in the old tank did not
go away when you placed him in the new tank, and in fact, the
longer he is in this uncycled system, the poorer water quality
will become unless you do the best you can to combat the Ammonia
and Nitrite spikes. You can do this through large, frequent water
changes or attempting to find a way to attach a
"seeded," or cycled filter to the tank, or at the very
least, some established biological media. As I said earlier, I
would attempt to treat with Maracyn for what I think is Finrot...
please do check the page I linked you to confirm my suspicion. I
would not attempt to treat the HITH right now, since one of the
contributing factors for its appearance is poor water quality, so
without getting this fish into cleaner water, you'll never
know if it's going to heal or not. Also, your fish is weak,
and treating with one medication at a time is probably best. Do
be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Again, I
hope this e-mail reaches you in a more timely manner, and please
do write back if you have any questions after reading.>
Re: Oscar with HITH and little worms?
Help please :( -- 8/3/10
Thank you so much for the very fast reply, it is greatly
<You're welcome, and I'm so glad it got to you faster
this time! If it took three weeks every time we wrote, I think
we'd be better off with tin cans and string.>
I am going to do some large water changes to try to combat this.
I also have some cartridges that haven't been changed in a
while as well as a BioWheel that is 2 years old in the tank the
blood parrots live in that I can swap out to help the new tank
become more established.
<This sounds like a good plan. Just make sure not to leave the
Blood Parrots high and dry -- that is, make sure there's
still at least 50% of the media remaining in their tank so that
the colony can quickly make up for the difference.>
I am also going to
purchase a canister filter asap.
<It would probably be a good idea to get this tank good and
established with the filter you have, so that you can use parts
of it to jump-start the new filter. Since canister filters are so
much easier to work with when it comes to media, even taking a
cycled bio-wheel apart and just placing that material (the stiff
fabric stuff) into the canister filter, along with your existing
carbon, would probably do the job. This is one of the reasons I
love my canister filters, though I'm also quite partial to
the AquaClear HOBs -- I've got filters stuffed with
everything from plastic scouring pads to old bio-balls. It really
makes it easy to establish new tanks.>
I will read your link regarding fin rot and purchase some Maracyn
tonight after reading.
I bought the Maracide thinking this was the same thing as Maracyn
but its not, it's malachite green for ich and velvet.
<Medications can be terribly confusing, which is why I think
that link I sent you with the table is so great. First, you
diagnose, and then, go to the table for proper treatment and
substitute treatments, just in case your local store doesn't
carry a particular one.>
This is why your crew is so helpful to us Oscar owners. Your
knowledge on these little guys is absolutely invaluable.
<I wish your little guy the best, and am glad I could be of
help. Another thing you could do, just to sort of "bulk
up" in the knowledge department, is to read the Oscar pages
in your free time. You'll be amazed at what pieces of
information that you hang on to will happen to be useful in the
Thanks again and I will keep you updated.
<I look forward to hearing about your Oscar's progress.
Please do write back if you have further questions, also.>
Re: Oscar with HITH and little worms? Help
please :( 8/6/10
Yes, that was definitely a typo. I meant to say 1 tablespoon per
5 gallons, so I put in 10 tablespoons since his tank is 50
gallons. These were the instructions on the aquarium salt
<Oh, okay. The aquarium salt people (probably API?) intend the
product to be used as a "tonic" on a daily basis,
which, in reality, does nothing but make them money. It's
when trying to detoxify Nitrite, treat Ich, etc., that one needs
a good recipe for success... both of which are included in that
link, for your future reference.>
I ran out to run an errand and read your email on my cell phone.
I rushed home to do a water change to get rid of all the meds,
but it was too late. I am really sad to report that my Oscar has
<I am so sorry to hear this. He was a lovely fish with really
When my boyfriend came home, Oscar was on his side and hill gills
were fully extended and he called me. I had him do a massive
water change just in case there was anything left in him, but he
has died. I feel horrible.
<You made mistakes, and then did what you could to rectify
them. You have done more than a lot of people would have, and
you've learned a lot. I think that we all have these stories
about the beginning of our fishkeeping days -- whether we
didn't know what cycling was, put the wrong combination of
fishes together, only to find one beaten up, or failed to provide
proper nutrition, etc. In the end, those who stick with it and
learn from what went wrong are the folks who have had tanks set
up for years now with no problems. There are others who refuse to
learn/believe who quickly fizzle out as fishkeepers.>
After I read your email I was considering euthanizing him
humanely so that he didn't have to suffer anymore.
<I suspected this may be necessary after hearing of his color
loss, but I know that you're the only one who can make that
I sat there next to his tank last night just watching him and he
came close to the glass to "sit" next to me and his
eyes were looking right at me. I felt so horrible, I just wanted
to help him. At least he is no longer suffering now.
<I know how you felt. The need to do something, anything, but
feeling powerless... is heart wrenching. It is true that he has
crossed the "rainbow bridge...">
To answer your question from your last response, I did leave the
charcoal filter cartridges in there while treating with the meds
as both of the Mardel products that I was using stated on the
back to leave normal filtering in tact and removing the carbon
was not necessary.
<Ahh, okay. Perhaps these have different "rules,"
but in my experience, it is always necessary to remove carbon. It
just soaks everything up. However, you were right to follow the
. I had just purchased a big box of Maracyn too, for when he got
<Keep it on hand. You may need it at some point in the future.
Just keep an eye on its expiration date.>
I want to thank you so much for all of the advice you have given
me and for the very fast responses when I needed it the most.
This is the end result I was so desperately trying to avoid but
at least now I know what it means to be an Oscar owner and
exactly what it takes to keep these little guys healthy. I just
wish I knew all of this before he even got sick. I'm no
longer an ignorant Oscar owner.
<Then, at this stage in the game, you have gotten further than
many. I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your little guy, but
do hope that you'll try again. The next Oscar can look
forward to having a loving owner who is indeed educated on his
Thanks again for everything, Katie
<You're welcome, Katie. I wish you the best in fishkeeping
(and other) efforts. --Melinda>
Re: Update on my Oscar; Was: Oscar with HITH and little worms?
Help please :( 8/6/10
I have been doing large (50%) water changes in the new 50 gallon
tank daily since your last email. At that time ammonia was high
.25 and then nearly .50 just hours later. I added media from my
already established tank (replaced with a new charcoal pad for
now as all levels are reading healthy in that tank, but still
keeping watch on it). Literally the next day the ammonia levels
are now at 0 and nitrite suddenly spiked to 3.0.
<This is a good sign for the cycle, but not much better for
I know this is part of the cycling, but fearing this would cause
even more stress I added aquarium salt (5 tablespoons per gallon
so 10 tablespoons) which I heard helps fish cope with
<I'm not sure about your math here (perhaps a typo?)
because I was under the impression that this tank is fifty
gallons, and besides, five tablespoons per gallon is a TON of
salt! Using the dosage indicated within this article which
detoxifies nitrite: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm,
you may want to adjust what you've added here. I hesitate to
work with the numbers you gave me, because I'm not sure that
they're totally correct, but the information you need is in
the above-linked article.>
and I also started treating with Maracyn and Maracide (prior to
adding the meds I did a huge water change, 60% and got the
nitrites down to a little less than 2.0). The label says it's
okay to use together. I started with the Maracide first because
he appeared to be developing a case of ich in addition to
<Salt kills ich. Please read this in the link above. You
really need to be careful, because you're sort of
over-medicating here, and the use of the Maracide, even if your
fish had ich, was needless. The salt would have taken care of
your problem. I worry that this fish is very sick, and now
he's being subjected to a cocktail of various medications and
salt, and there's no need to subject him to more than
The very next day all the ich spots were gone and amazingly, his
holes from the HITH seem to be getting much better!
<What you saw was likely not ich, but in any case, it's
good that it's gone. Good news on the HITH, as well, but I
have to say that this is the fastest recovery from HITH I have
ever heard of!>
Some of them don't appear to be holes anymore, just blemishes
and the existing holes edges have all taken on a huge of black. I
thought I read on here somewhere that this is the first sign of
the holes healing. Anyway, I started on the Maracyn today but
notice no signs of improvement yet. In fact, despite the positive
appearance of his holes he is still extremely lethargic, his tail
is twitching still every 15 seconds or so and more disturbing,
his coloring has changed. He is noticeably losing all of his
coloring, turning a grayish shade with no more deep black or
<Your fish may not make it. It seems that the larger the fish,
the longer they can hang on, and the easier it is to get them
through treatment. I would like for you to read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm.
I am not advising you to euthanize your fish immediately by any
means, but it's better that you have products on hand to end
his suffering if the time comes. Your fish is still quite small,
in fact, smaller than he should be, likely due to the high level
of Nitrates which existed in his first tank. By all means,
continue to try and save him, but do be knowledgeable about
humane methods of euthanasia if the time comes that it is
days. At the store I noticed there was another medication called
Maracyn Two and I wasn't sure which one was the proper one to
purchase. Maracyn Two said it's to be used for negative
bacteria and is to be used on fish who won't eat. I almost
bought it for this factor alone because that's what worries
me the most, but I wanted to make sure I followed your
<I would not add another medication. My advice to you was to
first establish the cycle by doing what you did, which was adding
seeded media. Then once water quality was up to par, to treat for
the Finrot and then see if the holes began to heal on their own
(indicating HITH was caused by poor water quality). If it
didn't heal, then I'd treat for Hexamita. However, this
fish is now being subjected to a lot of medication, and his water
still isn't clean. I totally understand that you want to help
him, but I feel he may be slipping away.>
Do you think it's too late for my Oscar? Have you ever seen
an Oscar actually come back and get healthy after he has stopped
eating for days, sits at the bottom looking gray and noticeably
thinner, and tail twitching?
<It may be too late for him. Not because he hasn't eaten,
because fish can go a couple of weeks without eating. I worry
because he is obviously stressed and he has been sick for a long
Now that I'm medicating, I'm not sure when to perform the
water changes or how often?
<That's sort of the problem. You can use the salt in the
correct amount and detoxify Nitrite, which would negate the need
for water changes. If you choose not to use the salt, then you
would have to do the water changes, in order to remove Nitrite,
but then you'll need to replace medication which has been
taken out. What you do is up to you, but I'd probably use the
salt in order to avoid accidentally over- or under-medicating due
to frequent, large water changes.>
Will the salt help him tolerate the nitrite spike until the tank
is fully cycled?
<Yes, but do read the article I linked you to above and adjust
the levels in the tank so that they match what's listed in
It should be noted that nitrites have held steady at 2.0 which I
know is still very toxic, but nitrates are now starting to show
up at around 10ppm and ammonia remains at 0. I'm hoping that
adding the filter media from the other tank really did help jump
start the cycle and perhaps its almost complete.
<It obviously helped, and that's very good.>
It's not looking good.
<I agree. I'm sorry.>
This is my first Oscar and I have learned so much about what not
to do and unfortunately at my fish's expense. That's the
worst part of all this. Having never owned an Oscar before,
I'm not sure how hardy they are and if they can really come
back from this state but I am trying like he*l.
<They are quite hardy fish, but this fish's small size,
the duration of his illness, the lack of a cycled tank, the
mixture of medications, etc. do not look good for him. Have you
removed the carbon from the filter? If not, it is likely that
this medication has simply been absorbed by the carbon. The salt
wouldn't have been, though, so even if carbon is present, the
salt would still be in the water. I would, first, determine how
much more salt you need by re-examining the first dosage you used
then using the article. Then, I would not add any further
medications. I'd allow the tank to complete its cycle and
give the medications time to work. I know that this process is
frustrating, because all you want is to look over and see your
fish acting normally and healthy, but unfortunately, it took him
a while to get sick, and it's going to take a while for him
to get better. He may not pull through. If his condition
continues to worsen and he decide to euthanize, you have that
information above, as well. I'm sorry I can't give you
any more encouraging news, because I can tell that you really do
want to do right by this fish and heal him.>
Thanks again in advance, Katie
<You're welcome, Katie. I wish you and your fish the best,
and please do write back if you have any more
ps. Canister filter is in the mail on the way to my house. I hope
it makes it in time. :(
<As I said in a previous e-mail, I do not think that now is
the time to switch filters on this guy. I really would allow this
filter which is on the tank currently to become established.
After he gets better, you will need some heavy filtration to keep
up with his growth/messiness (!!), but now, the real concern is
fixing him, and the best way to do that is get the tank cycled,
medicate properly, and wait.>
Re: Oscar with HITH and little worms? Help please :(
Thank you for the kind words. It was very hard to let him go. I
have kept fish my whole life and blood parrots exclusively for
the last 8 years so I know it's easy to become attached to
fish over time, but I never knew I'd get attached so quickly
to my Oscar.
<It's so easy to get attached to such great fish.>
He just had an awesome personality and was very interesting to
watch. He was also very engaging the way he would specifically
look directly at your eyes. Like you said, he had beautiful
colors and I'm going to miss watching him every day. I feel
terrible that I lost him so young. It's possible that he was
sick right from the store and the symptoms hadn't progressed
until I'd already had him a few months but who knows.
I'm sure it was the water quality as I was only doing water
changes about once a month at that time but my blood parrots are
healthy as horses, it's hard to say. Either way, we are going
to try again with a new baby Oscar and hopefully he will live a
long healthy life.
<Good! I'm sure you'll do well.>
Just so you know your words really made me feel a lot better
yesterday when I was pretty upset. You were gracious, honest and
understanding but mostly you were right, so I wanted to thank
you. I guess everyone learns the hard way sometimes.
<I'm glad I could be of help to you. On the whole, owning
pets is really bittersweet -- unless it's a Sulcata Tortoise,
chances are, you're going to outlive your pet. Those of us
with hearts big enough to take in and love animals also suffer
huge heartbreak when they go, whether their death is timely or
Take care and I'll email again if I have any questions
regarding our soon to be new Oscar (once I'm positive the
tank has cycled). I'll miss my buddy.
<Good luck and I'm glad you're not giving up!>
Oscar, HLLE -- 03/23/10
Hi, can you help me to find a cure to those with spots ?
I was looking on web but I don't see nothing like these, the
fish is doesn't have any strange behavior, e eats very well
he swim very well I don't see any strange behavior but the
fact is that she have those white spots, already make a treatment
with "Tetra Fungi Stop" and with "eSHa 2000"
and the last one with "eSHa Hexamita", but those with
spots never disappear, are always the same sizes same form.
<Mmm, the last is the item you need to address...>
She is in a 180 Litres tank with a Synodontis eupterus, and she
centimeters. The External filter is a [image: EHEIM
External Filter professionel 3
.<I use this series of filters myself>
Do answer here for my email ?
<Yes. And we archive all as well>
I was reading on the web site and I don't understand if
you're respond here and put on the website to or if you only
respond to the website.
<Eric, your Oscar is exhibiting signs of HLLE... which is
curable... through improved water quality and nutrition mostly.
Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re Sick Oscar, poss. Costia in addn. --
> Hi Chuck,
> There's a photo of a sick Oscar in today's inbox. It
looks to me like it has early stage Slime Disease (Costia) but it
might be HITH. I didn't want to get this wrong, so I'd
appreciate you taking a look, if you have the time.
> Cheers, Neale
<Oh! I've responded to this... and thought "it"
was HLLE... might be Costia as well. B>
Re: sick Oscar
Precisely so. The lesions on the head are similar to HITH, but
the excess slime and the texture you see above the scales reminds
me strongly of Costia. May of course be both!
<Yes... not actually an uncommon parasite... particularly with
folks feeding/using "feeders", or receiving fishes that
have been cultured "outdoors", or kept in systems with
fishes imported/cultured thus>
Costia can be treated with salt water dips (especially where
secondary freshwater fish are concerned) so seeing if a dip or
two helps might be worthwhile (see my recent WWM piece re: use of
salt in FW tanks). I'd also have the aquarist check to see
how symmetrical the lesions and/or patches are; if they're
strongly symmetrical on each flank, then yes, HITH or HLLE may
well be the immediate problem.
<Will refer the querior in turn. Thank you, BobF>
Re: sick Oscar 3/23/10
So maybe Costia and HLLE or one of two.
I don't feed my Oscar with small fishes and her friend
Synodontis eupterus lives with her at about 4 years or 5
<Should be a fine combination. How big is the tank though? The
most common reason Oscars get sick is simply not giving them the
space and the filtration they need. Do read Bob's piece,
I only feed them with Hikari food, always the same food, now I
begin to feed them with Cichlid frozen food, probably the fact
that I always feed them with the same food was one of the
<Perhaps. But a good quality food like Hikari Cichlid Gold
should be perfectly adequate for good health. The main problem
with dried foods is constipation rather than vitamin deficiency.
That said, dried foods have a shelf life, and once exposed to air
(especially damp air) the food in an open packet loses some of
its nutritional value.>
What do you think if I buy a Reverse Osmosis Unit ? 50% of
Osmosis water and 50% of normal water with some drops of JBL
Atvitol in the water changes maybe a good idea ?
<Oscars and indeed all cichlids will benefit from water with
as low a nitrate content as possible. If your tap water has more
than 20 mg/l nitrate, then yes, over time that does seem to
trigger HITH/HLLE problems.
So mixing some of your tap water with RO water will reduce the
nitrate content and improve overall health. But with that said,
you'll do more harm than good if using softer water allows
the pH to bounce around all the time. Mixing 50/50 hard tap water
with RO water is generally fine, but if your tap water is soft
already, you may want to use a pH buffer of some sort.>
A more variety of foods not only the same brand, its better
<Can be helpful.>
I saw the procedures to HLLE cure but it seems that is all about
good food good water and good tank friends
<Well, HLLE and HITH seem to be triggered by [a] vitamin
deficiency and [b] non-zero nitrate levels. Most of the time
I've seen cichlids with these diseases they've been in
tanks that were too small, poor filtered, or not getting proper
water changes. Diet and water chemistry seem to be secondary
And where's that article about (see my recent WWM piece re:
use of salt in FW tanks) ????
I was making a water test for PO4 and result was 1.8 in JBL test
The Nitrite and ammonia are good
<By "good" I assume we mean zero of both.>
The NO3 nitrate is in 20
<See, this is borderline.>
I have some problems in my tank, I am going to correct some
procedures and wait and see the results
<Fine. Don't imagine for a moment that salt is a cheap
fix; it isn't. But salt can reduces nitrate toxicity and it
can be used to help treat Costia, so as part of an overall plan
to improve environmental quality and diet, salt can be helpful.
Re: sick Oscar (the plot thinnens: the Oscar is in 39.5
The tank have 50cm height x 90cm length x 40cm width. The
filtration I think is good, 1200 liters hour
<By my reckoning this is 180 litres/39.5 US gallons, which is
far too small a tank for an Oscar above maybe 10 cm/4 inches in
length. Oscars are big, messy fish that place huge demands on
their aquarium. A minimum aquarium for a single specimen is
realistically around 340 litres/75 US gallons, and even in a tank
that size you'd be having a constant battle keeping the tank
Yes, I understand, but I know how it is the Hikari package, I put
some of the package in another box of an old Aquatic Nature brand
food and the rest of the Hikari food I close and take of the most
part of air in the package but, its impossible not have some as
<It takes about 2-3 months for dried pellet foods to stop
being nutritionally complete. So try to buy a package you can use
up within that time period. Failing that, divide up big pots into
smaller pots, and store all but the unused pot of food in the
freezer or somewhere cool and dry, just like you'd store
dried human foods. Obviously, don't keep dried foods anywhere
warm and damp -- such as next to the aquarium!>
My tap water comes with 0 of nitrate, I have the careful to put
the water in a 70 liters container with a heater in side and a
aeration pump, and all of my changes come from there. My tap
water Ph its 7.8. What do you think ?
RO is a good idea ?
<If your tap water has 0 nitrate, then RO isn't of any
Domesticated Oscars adapt to both moderately hard and quite soft
water equally well.>
Yes I'm going to buy from now on a food of each good
brand's JBL, SERA, TETRA, Aquatic Nature .. Maybe I going to
try the drops of JBL Atvitol in the food or the water changes,
<All well worth doing. A good reason to have, say, two or
three small pots of food going at once is that Oscars are less
likely to become bored. Every day they have something different.
Vitamin drops are probably redundant if you're using good
quality flake and pellet foods. Do also try offering other fresh
or live foods, such as prawns, snails and earthworms, as well as
cooked peas, which many Oscars enjoy. Peas are good for avoiding
constipation and bloating.>
I can't do this, the dips with an 30cm Adult Oscar
<In a 180 litre tank??? That's where your problems come
from! You need massive water changes here to keep things even
halfway decent. Given the size of the tank and the size of the
Oscar, I think Bob's initial diagnose of Hole-in-the-Head
and/or Head-and-Lateral-Line-Erosion is VERY likely the problem.
To treat this you will need Metronidazole, which outside of the
US is normally a prescription-only medication obtained from a
Without Metronidazole, this disease will get worse and eventually
its very very stressful, for me and the Oscar, I can try to add
salt in my Oscar tank but the dips I can't do it, and what
about Medicaments I was watching on the net and found something
like Sera Costapur and TetraMedica Contralck they tell they can
cure Costia do you know something about this ?
<There are indeed proprietary medications for Costia out
there. By all means use them, but follow the instructions
carefully, paying particularly attention to the dose and removal
of carbon, if used. However, I don't think Costia is the
Sorry the long emails but I really need to know and understand
the best things to do
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Geophagus jurupari Question, comp. w/ Pacus, hlth, HLLE
I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank with 3 Red Belly Pacus and 1
Geophagus jurupari. Upon returning home from a trip I found my
Geophagus, 'J.J.' looked as if he had been severely attacked by
the Pacus. The fish-sitter had no idea what had happened so I am not
entirely sure if J.J. developed some ailment or was simply
<Could very well have been attacked by these Pacu. Pacu generally
should only be trusted with larger companions in very large aquaria.
Despite being famed as herbivores, eating all sorts of fruits and
seeds, they are opportunistic carnivores too, and will take a bite at
anything they think they can catch. They have incredibly strong teeth
and jaws. This is a real problem in cramped tanks where the other fish
can't stay out of the way. Your tank is FAR TOO SMALL for these
fish. The Red Belly Pacu, Piaractus brachypomus, gets to 88 cm/35
inches and weighs up to 25 kilos/55 pounds. These are food fish, and
unless you have a 600 gallon tank lined up, there's no way you can
properly house three specimens. Do make sure you look at his photo, on
This is what your fish is going to grow into. To be fair, a typical
size in captivity is 60 cm/24 inches, but that's still a mammoth
fish almost as deep as it is long, and weighing as much as a
I had noticed little white spots on J.J. on previous occasions but
assumed it was just little Pacu nips but I am extremely concerned now,
since one spot, near his nostril, has a large white spot, fuzzy in
appearance. The other spots are not as prominent, but the spot covering
the nostril is quite alarming.
<These spots, if on the head, are more likely Hole-in-the-Head. This
is extremely common when Geophagine cichlids (Eartheaters, like your
Satanoperca jurupari) are kept in small tanks. Geophagine cichlids
tolerate almost no nitrate, and certainly levels 20 mg/l or higher
cause them immense stress. Treatment is with Metronidazole, plus fixing
Untreated, the fish will eventually die.>
Incidentally, J.J. is eating well and is behaving normally.
<Good, you still have time. Get moving!>
I am not sure if J.J. has developed HITH or has some type of systemic
bacterial infection and I am unsure how to treat him.
I am afraid to use anything toxic and was advised to use a
'melaluca' based medication that added daily to the water
<This is tea-tree oil, and will be of no use against
Hole-in-the-Head. The infection can only be treated with Metronidazole.
This should also prevent and Finrot following the attack by the
but have seen no results.
Please let me know if you have any advice or suggestions.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Geophagus Jurupari Question 3/4/10
Wow! Thank you very much for the advice and insight.
<Happy to help.>
I had a Pacu in the past, and he was quite entertaining to say the
least, but he passed away when he was not entirely huge.
<Oh. Well, there are several species. The Red-Belly Pacu is one of
the *really* big ones.>
I was not aware of quite how large these guys will get- I will
DEFINITELY re-think my aquarium. Thank you for that advice.
Thank you also for advice on J.J. I will head to the pet supply store
for the Metronidazole and will definitely test the nitrates.
Thank you very much; I appreciate your help.
Red Devil with Pimple?
Red Devil Getting Hole-In-The-Head -- 02/02/10
Hi. I have a 14in. 1and1/2 year old Male Red Devil. He has always been
in perfect health until recently. He seems to have a white pimple-like
thing on the side of his head just above his eye. It is not swollen out
like a pimple but rather has a white "head" that looks like a
clogged pore (I know fish don't have pores in the traditional sense
but that's what it looks like). This thing has been there for about
4 or 5 days and tonight I noticed there is another one developing above
his eye (same side as the other one). He is behaving normally (for
him). Still aggressive and
fighting with me through the glass, eating some but less than normal. I
thought it might be the beginning of hole in the head but then he has
no other symptoms of that (lethargic, refusing to eat, white poop) none
of that. Just these "clogged pores". Any suggestions? It
looks like the first one has gotten bigger. I appreciate your help.
< You are correct to be concerned with the beginning stages of
Hole-In-The-Head. Usually we get these questions months after it has
started. It is good to catch this early. First check the water
Ammonia and nitrites should be zero The nitrates should be under 20
Change the diet. Your fish is already an adult and high protein foods
may not be needed. Try to feed a high quality food that is about 30%
These white pimples may pop leaving a hole or a cottony growth. Treat
in hospital tank with a combination of Metronidazole and
Hole in head 1/5/10
Hello, Lately I have noticed my albino Oscar has a few
holes in his head as well as it seems his fins maybe rotting. I have
done multiple water changes
and used medication.
<What type and how administered?>
However when meds are used my fish just sat at the bottom of the tank
and looked like they were going to die. I have two Oscars in a 75 gal.
Any and all help is greatly appreciated. Thank You, Scott Newton
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FWHLLECases.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>
re: hole in head 1/7/10
I threw away the package for the meds however it was a powder that
changed the water to a greenish color. It did not work at all it just
caused my other Oscar to act like he was dead for a few days. Hope you
can help Thanks Scott
<... Please read where you were referred to. Some folks adhere to
the belief that HLLE is resultant from Protozoan infestation... others
(myself included) consider it more a symptom of "poor water
quality" and lack of nutrition. BobF>
Cichlids With Hole-In-The-Head 7/1/09
Hello WWM crew, My name is Ryan. I was referred to your site from
Brian MacDonald "The Fishman".
He came out to look at my tank and get my water chemistry back on
track, (my pH and alkalinity were always bottoming out) which we
got to a 7.0 for pH and a good rating (120-180) for the
alkalinity. My tank is 210 gallons, with 2 Xp4 Filters (added an
extra one almost 2 weeks ago now as per Bob's advice to
Brian) 2 Power heads, 2 heaters. Water temp is always 80. One of
the filters has a snorkel attachment on it which I use on full
tank till I get any scum on the surface then I switch it for
about 30 min to full skim then put it back, while the other Xp4
has the factory blue downspout.
My Fish include: 2 Tiger Oscars, 4 Jack Dempsey (3 female 1 male,
which have had eggs 3 times now) 2 Green Terrors, 1 Convict, 1
Green Severum, 1 Parrot, 1 Royal Pleco, and 1 Leopard Sail-fin
2 Pictures of my tank with the canopy off are on Brian's site
http://www.carefreeam.com/testimonials.html (these pics were
taken before I added the 2nd filter)
I feed them Hikari Bio Gold Large pellets, Hikari Gold smaller
pellets, Tetra Pro Flakes (the ones that don't break apart)
Hikari Blood Worms, Sally's Brand Frozen Krill, and Hikari
algae wafers for the Pleco. I feed 2 times a day the pellets
(which I switch up day to day to keep them interested) and
sometimes instead of pellets the second time of the day I will
add one of the frozen food, a few blood worms or some krill. When
I turn off the lights I wait for about an hour and then I will
throw in some algae wafers, but that is only maybe 2 times a
Also I feed them live earthworms as a treat when I get them from
the gardens, with my worm catcher. My cleaning schedule is 2
times a week Monday and Thursday water change and gravel clean,
service the 2 filters every 2 weeks, and change the micro filter
pads and the 4 bags of carbon (2 in each filter) every month to a
month and a half depending on how dirty they both are in the
rinse off process.
I was using a lot of Cycle product but after reading on your site
I have stopped using it and as well as the Nitra Zorb pouches I
was using in the past.
(Great info on your site)
Now with the stepped up water and gravel clean, those two
products are not needed. Thanks for saving me lots of money.
OK after all of that back story this is my problem, after keeping
the tank nice and clean and doing this scheduled maintenance for
about 2 months now, If and when would I notice the fish to
recover from Hole in head disease?
The 2 Tiger Oscars were given to me around a year ago, and they
were kept for about 7-8 months in really poor conditions at the
other guy's house, which I rescued them from. They both were
in bad condition, but the whole time I have had them they have
come back and have grown double in size. They both suffer from
Hole in Head disease, and I am worried my other fish will get it
or are getting it from them or my water. Brian suggested that I
send in some pics and contact you guys direct for some help
because he thought with my new schedule of water cleaning, they
should have started to heal up. Also I forgot to say but every
month I add some API aquarium salt to help them with the
electrolytes and healing. I am including 4 pictures of close up
night shots so they aren't moving, 1 of the 2 Oscars which
you can see there hole in head, 1 of the Severum with a line
running down his body I am not happy with, 1 of the female
Dempsey with the same
line forming as the Severum and 1 of my bigger Green Terror who
never seems to heal his 2 Pectoral fins, and he has them always
ripped and fluttering.
Every time one side seems to heal for him his other is torn. So
thanks for letting Brian know I needed better
filtration already. I am so glad to have people who know what
they are talking about helping me since I was lied to and pretty
much screwed by the Big Al's people of Brampton into spending
about $2000 in chemicals and Nitra Zorb and Cycle and pretty much
anything else they could sell me, and not ever get my tank into
proper standing, as your site and Brian's help did. So Please
let me know what to do from here, and thanks again.
< Check the nitrates regularly. You are feeding lots of
different foods which is very good, but these materials create
lots of nitrogenous waste. The ammonia and nitrite concentrations
should always be zero. The nitrates should always be under 20
ppm. If the levels exceeded this limit you need to do more
frequent water changes, change more water when you do your water
changes or reduce the bioload by having fewer fish. The
alkalinity issue you are having may be a sign of your problem.
You fish may not be getting enough calcium in their diet. I have
a theory that calcium is not found in soft acidic water. Fish
found in these areas need to get the calcium from their diet
since there is none to be found in the water. If you water is
very soft and you have alkalinity problems then the problem may
be that their is not much excess calcium to build and replenish
bone structure. The skull is s very large bone on the fish and
may be the first sign of a calcium deficiency. Many people who
make their own fish food have added calcium to their fish food
recipe and have had some success. Many of the foods you are
feeding are very high quality but usually have high protein
amounts that encourage grow. Growing fish need lots of calcium
for growing bones. You could try to add some crushed coral to the
tank to increase the calcium content of the water and try to get
the alkalinity up to 200-300 and see what happens. This disease
is very common on large new world cichlids but seems very rare on
African Rift lake cichlids of similar size. The pH of the lakes
is well above 7 with alkalinity well above 300. Some treat the
fish with Metronidazole. This may he a case of treating the
symptoms and not the disease.-Chuck>
African Cichlid problem
Malawi Cichlid With Hole In The Head 6/19/09
You have a great site, I have learned a lot browsing through it.
<Thank you for your kind words>
Please help me asap!
55 gallon tank
Inhabitants: One 6-7" female Fossorochromis Rostratus (6.5 years
1-inch female Aulonocaras
Filtration: Eheim 2213 canister filter
Nitrates: 5 ppm right before water change
Water Change Frequency: 40-50% twice a week Food: homemade from
internet recipe and Hikari Marine A Temperature: 76 F Symptoms: All
inhabitants healthy with absolutely no prior medical problems.
The Fossorochromis recently began showing minor symptoms of hole in the
head disease, much to my dismay. I went through a round of Metro+ and
added liquid vitamins to her food with no discernible improvement, but
no worsening either. Yesterday noticed a reddened area and
"pimple" near her mouth and her fins were down. Suspected
bacterial infection of some kind.
As I hadn't had time to research the situation fully (gram positive
or negative or something else entirely) and haven't had to use
antibiotics of any kind in the last 6 years of this hobby, I added the
only thing I had on hand, Pimafix. Yes, I am aware that is like giving
herbal remedies to an MSRA patient, but I had nothing else and live an
hour from the nearest pet store. This morning her fins are back to
normal intermittently but she is breathing very hard. I added an air
stone and am in the process of changing the water yet again to increase
oxygen content. She appears to be breathing easier now, but not back to
normal. I own nine freshwater aquariums and fortunately have never seen
this before so I don't know what is going on.
All the rest of the inhabitants in her tank are just fine. Any ideas
are welcome! Thank you for your time and suggestions. Rebecca <
There are ideas about the causes of hole in the head disease without
any scientific evidence to back them up to my satisfaction, but you
have eliminated some of the theoretical causes. Some people think it is
bad water. This is not the case because you water conditions are fine
and you are up on your water changes so it is not nitrogenous waste
either. This comes down to diet. Usually food with fish meal contains
enough calcium for fish to build their bones as they grow. Since you
make your own fish food it is hard to tell if your food has enough
calcium in it. Larger fish need more calcium to replenish the calcium
needed to build their bones. Try Spectrum New Life pellet food for
awhile and see if this makes any difference. I have never had a problem
with HITH while using this food. If this works then in your situation
we may have found a possible cause and cure.-Chuck>
Update on African Cichlid situation... hlth.
Malawi Cichlid With Hole In The Head 6/19/09
Thought I would add an update. After the massive water change, which
rid the tank of Pimafix, the Fossorochromis in question returned to
breathing and acting normally, so maybe her problem was due to
I don't plan to use that product again.
<I would not>
However she still has the small raised red bump by her mouth and the
beginning HITH situation.
<Likely best cured by providing ongoing optimized water quality and
I will refrain from adding any more medication, herbal or otherwise,
without strong recommendation.
for your time.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: African Cichlid problem
Cichlid With HITH 6/21/09
Thank you for your advice. The reddish sore resolved into another small
HITH-like hole, but at least no infection. She is acting normally. I am
purchasing Spectrum New Life pellet food online as I write this and
implementing daily 25% water changes just in case. I will update you on
results as soon as something changes. Thanks again. Rebecca
< Try to increase the calcium content of the water by adding some
crushed coral to the filter. As it dissolves into the water it may be
ingested by the fish.-Chuck>
Re: African Cichlid problem
Hole-In-The-Head Treatment 7/1/09
I purchased the recommended New Life Spectrum food. Until the food
arrived, I added powdered calcium to the water and a little to her food
as well as a big mesh bag of crushed coral. Since following your
advice, one hole has gotten so small I have a hard time finding it, the
other two don't seem to have changed too much yet (although all
redness is gone), and no new holes are forming. She looks and acts
normal and I have high hopes that she is recovering. Thank you for
sharing your theory and giving a friend back to me! I will update again
when something major occurs, such as (hopefully) her complete recovery.
< Thank you so much for writing back. It is times like this that
makes me glad that your question was asked and that all fellow
aquarists and their pet cichlids might benefit from our WWM forum.
Hopefully the recovery will continue and this disease will no longer
become an issue.-Chuck>
Old Frontosa With Hole In The Head
Hi guys, I have a frontosa. He is about twelve years old. I have
medicated him with every thing I can think of, Nitrofuranace and
Metronidazole. If I am not mistaken it is hole in the head?, You
cannot see it very well in the picture but that is a deep hole on
the side of his face not just surface.
and he also has transparent grape like clusters by his eye and
his face is pitted pretty bad, am I right about the hole in the
< That is definitely Hole-In-The Head.>
He has had this for a about two years, I have been thinking about
putting him down with Finquel. I am sending you some pics. If the
pics are to big, please let me know and I will try to make them
smaller. Thank you Michelle
< Thanks for the pictures. Your frontosa is very old and may
not respond to the medication. First lets start with the water
quality. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates
should be under 20 ppm. The pH should be as close to 8.0 as
possible. The water temp should be around 82 F. The diet should
include a high quality pellet with fish meal as a major
ingredient. Now that he is sick you should try and feed him some
medicated food with Metronidazole in it. Your fish has been sick
for a very long time and his age makes recovery a very slow
process. You used the right medications, it is just that in hard
alkaline water these medications are not as
Hole in the head?? Angelfish with Internal Infection
2/20/09 Hi Folks; I love your website. A goldmine of
information I wish I knew about a year ago. My problem- I have an angel
fish who started acting lethargic, and would float around the corners
of the tank (55 gal) at an angle. I didn't know what to do, so I
hoped it would just pass. I waited two days and my wife noticed a red
spot near his gills that is now a hole. Two days after I first noticed
his symptoms, I found your site. I immediately setup my old 20 gal as
an emergency hospital tank. I couldn't wait for cycling so I
transferred him. < Usually cycling is not needed because if you do
medicate the tank, the treatment would affect the bacteria anyway.>
Before I transferred him he had taken to lying on his side in the tank.
I have removed the carbon filter from the hush 35 filter I use for that
tank and medicated with Jungle Tank Buddies Parasite Clear, as it
contains Metronidazole (which you recommend).Since transferring him, I
can't say he is any better but he also doesn't seem to be
worse. If I tap the tank gently, he gets up and swims around for a
couple of minutes and then settles in again. I am unsure of how to
proceed, what to watch for. or if he will make it. He came from my
55gal tank (which I have also medicated the same way. I have noticed
some different skin markings on one of my Gouramis and one of my Bala
sharks. History of the 55 gal tank is good. I almost always do a 20%
water change every week. I did miss a week just before I noticed my
angel fish acting strange. I keep a computer log of all my water
readings, observations and treatments and I have a full year of data.
My pH occasionally drops to 6.0 in a week, but usually only drops to
6.3 I try to maintain 6.8 to 7.0 My ammonia is almost always 0, same
for nitrites. My nitrates usually climb to 20 or 30 in a week, but the
water change seems to correct that. My water is almost always crystal
clear. I use a penguin 350 filter with bio-wheels to keep the water
clean. I have a leopard Plec, another Plec I inherited from my
daughters tank (pepper Plec I think) a small striped orange and black
algae eater, 3 Bala sharks, 2 Gouramis, a red tail shark 2 neon tetras
and 3 fish I don't know the names of (sorry). Feeding has always
been Nutrafin flake food and occasional freeze dried bloodworms. In the
last 2 months, I have twice put zucchini in the tank, and today a small
piece of carrot. < The squash and carrot contain land based plant
cell walls that may not be digestible by the angelfish. If the fish
cannot digest these things then bacteria in the gut start to work on
them. This may cause an infection and a blockage. This may be the cause
of the problem.> I think that the tank has been well looked after
and maintained, and because of that I rarely have to add anything but
tap water conditioner and Prime (by Seachem) at water changes. I keep
the 55 gal tank at 76 F and my emergency hospital tank has been 78 to
79 F. I am currently raising this to 81 F because I understand that the
angel fish will do better in the warmer water. Can you see anything I
have missed? I tried to find Jungle hole in the head treatment, but it
is not available in Canada. Regards Floyd Abbotsford BC < I would
recommend using Nitrofuranace in addition to the Metronidazole. The
Nitro is a wide spectrum antibiotic that may be absorbed into the
Hole in the head?? FW Angel, dis. 2/20/09 Hi Folks;
<Floyd> I love your website. A goldmine of information I wish I
knew about a year ago. <Ahh!> My problem- I have an angel fish
who started acting lethargic, and would float around the corners of the
tank (55 gal) at an angle. <Unusual beh.> I didn't know what
to do, so I hoped it would just pass. I waited two days and my wife
noticed a red spot near his gills that is now a hole. Two days after I
first noticed his symptoms, I found your site. I immediately setup my
old 20 gal as an emergency hospital tank. I couldn't wait for
cycling so I transferred him. Before I transferred him he had taken to
lying on his side in the tank. I have removed the carbon filter from
the hush 35 filter I use for that tank and medicated with Jungle Tank
Buddies Parasite Clear, as it contains Metronidazole (which you
recommend). <Yes> Since transferring him, I can't say he is
any better but he also doesn't seem to be worse. If I tap the tank
gently, he gets up and swims around for a couple of minutes and then
settles in again. I am unsure of how to proceed, what to watch for. or
if he will make it. <Mmm... best to wait at this point... Am
suspecting something internal... not really/easily treatable> He
came from my 55gal tank (which I have also medicated the same way. I
have noticed some different skin markings on one of my Gouramis and one
of my Bala sharks. History of the 55 gal tank is good. I almost always
do a 20% water change every week. I did miss a week just before I
noticed my angel fish acting strange. I keep a computer log of all my
water readings, observations and treatments and I have a full year of
data. My pH occasionally drops to 6.0 in a week, <Mmm, I'd be
bolstering the alkalinity. Please read Neale's excellent piece here
re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm and the first
linked FAQs file at top> but usually only drops to 6.3 I try to
maintain 6.8 to 7.0 <This is a huge variation in a week... Again,
I'd avail myself of a simple prep. even just Baking Soda...> My
ammonia is almost always 0, same for nitrites. My nitrates usually
climb to 20 or 30 in a week, but the water change seems to correct
that. My water is almost always crystal clear. I use a penguin 350
filter with bio-wheels to keep the water clean. I have a leopard Plec,
another Plec I inherited from my daughters tank (pepper Plec I think) a
small striped orange and black algae eater, 3 Bala sharks, 2 Gouramis,
a red tail shark 2 neon tetras and 3 fish I don't know the names of
(sorry). Feeding has always been Nutrafin flake food and occasional
freeze dried bloodworms. In the last 2 months, I have twice put
zucchini in the tank, and today a small piece of carrot. <Ah,
good> I think that the tank has been well looked after and
maintained, and because of that I rarely have to add anything but tap
water conditioner and Prime (by Seachem) at water changes. I keep the
55 gal tank at 76 F and my emergency hospital tank has been 78 to 79 F.
I am currently raising this to 81 F because I understand that the angel
fish will do better in the warmer water. <Yes...> Can you see
anything I have missed? I tried to find Jungle hole in the head
treatment, but it is not available in Canada. <Is largely
Metronidazole/Flagyl as well... Again... am suspecting that this Angel
has other than an Octomita/Hexamita issue. Only time can/will tell
here.> Regards Floyd Abbotsford BC <Thank you for sharing,
writing so well. Bob Fenner>
Follow-up to hole in the head?? question 2/22/09 Follow Up
Treatment of Angelfish Thank you for your responses. I went
out and bought Furan2, it contains Nitrofurazone (couldn't find a
treatment with Nitrofuranace). I medicated with 2 capsules of powder (
the recommended dose on the label). I also bought a general and
carbonate water test kit. General hardness was 3.92DH and the KH was
40mg/L as CaCO3. I will stay on top of the situation and hopefully save
my little angel fish. Observation - after the Metronidazole treatment
but before Nitrofurazone treatment, I found he had even less energy,
but seemed to be gasping a little bit less. Also, his sense of balance
seems to have improved slightly. I hope the resolution of this problem
helps others as well. I had no idea that the pH swings were caused by
poor reserve of alkalinity. Regards Floyd Abbotsford, BC Canada <
The medications will take time to work. The Furan II should be as
effective against internal bacterial infections. Go back to the WWM
page and search alkalinity to give you some idea on where you
|Help with sick Severum
Severum Starting To get Hole-In-The-Head 9/9/08
Hi, I have a 200 litre aquarium which has 5 angels, 1 Oscar, 1
silver shark, 1 bichir, and a breeding pair of Severums.
All fish are totally fine expect for the Severum which has been
getting strange white bumps around his eyes and on his head for the
last few days. I have attached a picture, I wonder if you could
advise what is wrong with my fish and how to treat it?? Many thanks
< It looks like you Severum is showing the first signs of
Hole-In-The-Head disease. After the pus filled blisters pop a hole
is left in its place. The holes continue to grow eating away the
skull. There are some ideas to what the cause of this disease could
be but no exact pathogen has been identified. The stress of
breeding could have weakened your fish and made them vulnerable. If
it was my fish I would place it in a hospital tank with clean
warm(82 F) water. Treat the tank with Metronidazole and
Nitrofuranace. If the fish is still eating then feed a medicated
food with Metronidazole in it. Generally I would try to improve the
diet with a quality pellet food. If you fish is still eating I
would try a little trick I stumbled on a few years ago. I had an
south American cichlid like yours that just started to get the
disease but was still eating. He especially love black worms. I
took the portion of black worms in a little plastic cup with some
water and medicated the worms with the dosage of Metronidazole. The
worms died right away and I quickly fed them to my fish. The fish
were unaware that the worms were dead and ate them all up. The
lesions turned black the next day. I did a major water change,
cleaned my filters and got some fresh fish food that was high in
vegetable matter. I felt that this would provide the minerals my
fish may have been missing. Hope this helps.-Chuck>
Cichlid problem, hlth. 8/17/08 Hello again, My
T-bar cichlid has got hole in the head, all my fish are scratching,
twitching and have all there fins down. <Likely caused by Hexamita,
and almost always trigger by environmental or dietary deficiencies,
i.e., overcrowding, high nitrates, lack of fresh greens. Treatment is
only possible via Metronidazole, couple with correction of water
quality/diet. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm > They
are all eating normally except my T-bar with hole in the head and they
have been doing this for 3 days now and they have no signs of any spots
so it cant be white spot. <Hexamita is most common when cichlids are
overcrowded. Quite possibly latent in all cichlids, when their immune
system becomes weakened the Protozoans spread from the digestive tract
into the body and out to the lateral line. It's the ones in the
lateral line that cause the distinctive pits and lesions.> What
could be wrong with them all? Thanks <Review environment, diet, and
act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: cichlid problem 08/18/2008 Hello, When you
said "review environment" what did you mean? My tank has lots
of bogwood and a few plants with fine gravel. Thanks. <Simple. Take
a look at all the requirements for the fish you have. Look in an
aquarium book (or search this web site) to find out more about each
species. Note things like water chemistry (pH, hardness), diet, space
requirements, compatibility with other fish, etc. Write all these
things down. Then compare them to the environment in your aquarium. Any
differences between what your fish need and what you are providing will
be likely sources of potential problems. Also check nitrite and
nitrate; nitrite should be zero at all times, and with cichlids nitrate
should be as low as practical, ideally less than 20 mg/l. Cheers,
What type of filter media should I use? (RMF, comments on
Hexamita, carbon?) 7/13/08 I have been searching for many
answers in your forum for the past few days, and I must say
"thank you" for all of this information. I have
answered most of my questions using the search. To explain
myself, I would like to give a little background. <Ok.> A
friend of mine moved out of the area and asked me to take his
aquarium. There is one very large Oscar in a 35 gallon Hex
aquarium with an Marineland Emperor 280 power filter. <Ah,
first problem: the tank is _way_ too small for an Oscar, arguably
even for a juvenile, let alone an adult. A tank twice this size
would be much more reasonable. All cichlids are sensitive to
dissolved metabolites -- that means ammonia, nitrite, and
nitrate. So you need both good filtration (to deal with the
nitrite and ammonia) and aquarium capacity to dilute the nitrate.
Water changes of 25-50% per week are needed to further dilute the
nitrate. Without this sort of regimen, cichlids are extremely
prone to disease, especially Hexamita and Hole-in-the Head.>
The Oscar started getting HITH disease even though I do weekly
water changes and according to my LFS, all tests show very good
water quality for this type of fish. <There you go. Am I good
or what? The point here is that the tank is too small. While it
is (theoretically) possible to keep cichlids in small tanks by
doing massive (e.g., 90%) water changes on a daily basis, the
only practical way to keep them as low-maintenance pets is to use
a big tank so that water changes can be spaced out.> I read on
your pages about Oscars that HITH may be caused by stress from
the aquarium being too small, as well as the use of carbon.
<Both these things have been cited in the past as possible
triggers. But the balance of opinion nowadays relates HITH to the
protozoan Hexamita, an organism that probably lives harmlessly
enough in the digestive tracts of many aquarium fish, including
cichlids. But when conditions decline, e.g., nitrate exceeds 20
mg/l, the fish's immune system stops working properly and the
Protozoans can spread, causing harm. The precise symptoms depends
on where the Protozoans end up, which is why Hexamita and HITH
had been considered separate diseases for a long time. Both
diseases fall under the category of "easy to prevent,
difficult to cure".> My friend, and now myself, has
always used Marineland Diamond Blend Filter Media in the Emperor
280's media basket 'which is carbon and ammonia
remover combined. <Not a huge fan of chemical media, either
carbon or zeolite, in freshwater tanks. Neither serves much
purpose when compared with the much bigger benefits obtained by
doing large (50% weekly) water changes instead. Zeolite is doing
something your filter bacteria is doing anyway, so is utterly
redundant except in tanks (e.g., hospital tanks, sub-pH6 tanks)
where it isn't possible to use biological filtration. In the
past the theory was carbon removed dissolved organics from the
water, letting you minimise water changes. When I started in the
hobby, "old water" was recommended for freshwater fish,
with aquarium books often suggesting 10-25% water changes a month
as reasonable. Over time the dissolved organics made the water
more acidic and gave it a yellow colour. If you do big, weekly
water changes, none of this happens, so the carbon is redundant.
Furthermore, to actually work properly, carbon needs to be
replaced at least monthly, something hardly anyone in freshwater
fishkeeping does. So all you get is carbon behaving as an
(admittedly reasonably good) substrate for filter bacteria.
Instead I would recommend using exclusively top-notch biological
such as Siporax together with mechanical filter media that can be
cleaned/replaced according to your budget. You should also have a
filter offering not less than 6 times (and ideally 10 times) the
volume of the tank in turnover per hour (irrespective of the
"recommended aquarium" size offered by the manufacturer
of said filter, as these assume best-case scenarios of tanks with
small, clean fish like Neons).> I purchased a 75 gallon
aquarium, and an additional Emperor 280 power filter. I plan to
use both of the 280 filters on the 75 gallon. <These filters
offer filtration of 280 gallons per hour each, and for your tank
I'd recommend at least 450 gallons per hour total and ideally
up to 750 gallons per hour. With big, messy fish -- the more the
better. I am not wild about hang-on-the-back filters though
because they don't seem to be as flexible as canister
filters. I want filters that can have the inlet and outlet put
where I want them, not limited by the design. I don't like
filters that use proprietary "modules" either -- I want
to be able to put whatever media I want in the filter. Hence
I'd always recommend a decent canister filter such as the
excellent value and highly reliable Eheim 2217. At about 260
gallons per hour, two of these would provide adequate filtration
and three would provide excellent filtration. They are basically
empty buckets into which you cram in whatever media you want. For
an Oscar, a mix of sponges/filter wool for solid waste and then
lots of ceramic noodles for biological filtration would be ideal.
Eheim filters may be slightly more expensive than generic Chinese
brands, but they last forever (or at least 10+ years) and such
spare parts as you might need (like the rubber seals that will
wear out after a while) are cheap and easy to obtain.> From
the reading on your site, I have used water from the old aquarium
in the new aquarium. <Makes absolutely no difference. The
bacteria are not in the water column or even sitting on the
gravel (much) but in the filter media. Unplug a mature filter
from one tank and connect it to another tank with similar water
chemistry, and you it will carry on working perfectly. You can
also donate 50% of the media from a mature filter to a new filter
to instantly cycle the new filter without causing any harm to the
mature filter.> I also placed the new filter on the old
aquarium in order to ready the new filter's bio-wheel. Since
you do not recommend carbon in a freshwater aquarium, and this
could be causing the HITH disease, what would you recommend I use
in the filter media baskets? <As stated above.> Also, the
Marineland "Rite-Size E" filter cartridges come packed
with activated carbon. Should I slice these open and remove the
carbon? <Nope. Just consider them money down the drain. Or at
least that's how I view them. Activated carbon is a posh way
of saying "charcoal", and a great way for manufacturers
to sell you something at a premium that costs very little to
make. These "filter cartridges" are overpriced for what
they are anyway, and that just adds insult to injury. Over the
long term, a plain vanilla canister filter into which you can add
whatever media you choose will work out so much cheaper, as well
as working MUCH MUCH better.> Thank you for all your help, Jay
<Cheers, Neale.> <<I am in agreement. RMF>>
Re: What type of filter media should I use? - 07/13/08
I understand what you are saying about filtration, but given my
budget and what I have already spent, do you think the two
Emperor 280's hanging on the back plus one Eheim 2217 (as you
suggested as a good canister) would suffice for this 75 gallon
with the one large Oscar? The 280s come with empty media chambers
and I will pick up Siporax as you suggested to fill these with.
The Eheim is 260gph and the two Emperor filters are 280 each.
This would bring my turnover to approx 820gph (manufacturer
spec). Thanks again, Jay <Hello Jay. What you propose should
work. But you'd want to be clever about where you positioned
all these filters to that they weren't all pumping water
around just one end of the tank. With big aquaria, it's
important to make sure the bottom of the tank receives lots of
water current. So perhaps you'd arrange the Eheim so the
spray bar pushes water downwards rather than forwards. Even
better (and not expensively) you could couple the canister filter
with an undergravel filter plate to create a "reverse flow
undergravel" filter. This works by the filter pushing water
into the filter plate via what would ordinarily be the uplift.
The water then comes upwards through the gravel, further
supporting nitrifying bacteria and incidentally also keep the
gravel much cleaner than otherwise. While not much used nowadays,
undergravel filters work amazingly well, and provide good water
quality at low cost. A 75-gallon tank should work nicely for an
Oscar (or a mated pair). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: What type of
filter media should I use? - 07/13/08 Thank you for the quick
responses and for the great information. I would have never
thought about using an undergravel filter to create uplift.
<Used to be very common during the 1980s, and much appreciated
in tanks such as Mbuna systems where you want to combine good
biological filtration with the chemical buffering provided by a
calcareous substrate. Out of fashion nowadays because
undergravels generally don't work with plants, and that's
the direction advanced freshwater hobbyists tend to go.> The
Emperor 280 filter's water intake tubes have a dual intake. I
will have one at each end of the 75g aquarium, so water will be
pulled into the filter from the bottom and middle of the tank and
at both ends. Should I position the Eheim pickup in the middle of
the aquarium near the water surface? <Without seeing these
filters _in situ_ it's difficult to make any pronouncements
here! But here's my test. Put individual flakes of food in
the aquarium at different positions and depths. Watch the flakes
drift around. If they move about constantly wherever you put the
flake, then you're fine. If they collect in certain corners,
then you have a "dead patch". If you find the flakes
drift slower at some points than others, you have inconsistent
water flow. In either case, review the position of the
inlets/outlets and try again. As always, theory is fine, but
actual experimentation is better!> Maybe even build a skimmer
box that the Eheim pickup could pull water from in order to clean
the water surface?? <Largely a waste in non-planted tanks.
Surface skimmers are great for removing bits of leaves and such
that float about. In non-planted tanks this isn't an issue.
Rather, your problem is going to be faeces and uneaten food
collecting on the substrate. Water changes will help (stir the
gravel a bit each time) but my "tip of the day" is to
buy a turkey baster. These are great for spot-cleaning waste in
large tanks. Cheap and very effective. Also very useful for
catching fry and separating eggs from mouthbrooding fish. No
aquarist should be without one!> Your expertise is greatly
appreciated. Thank you, Jay <Cheers, Neale.>
|My Frontosa, HLLE tissue damage -
7/1/08 Hi, I wrote you before about my Front, Georgie and his
hole-in-the-head problem, and that I treated him with Medizole and
Furnace, I then noticed it looked like fungus so I treated him
again with just the Furnace, It looked like it went away but his
holes didn't look any better, so I then treated him with some
medication called Hole-in-the-Head by JUNGLE, and he still looks
like this, is there any hope? <To heal the wounds from the
neuromast destruction? Mmm, yes... with time, good nutrition, water
quality...> ( I sent you a couple pics) I have had him for a
long time( we think he is around thirteen years) and he has always
been healthy but know I am at a loss, usually when I treat my fish
I have good luck if I catch it right away, I am sending you a few
pics and see if you can see what you think, Thank you for your
time, John Cline <Have seen worse cases remit. Do try feeding
Spectrum pellets exclusively, being religious re weekly water
changes... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs3.htm and the
linked FAQs files in this series above. Bob Fenner>
POSSIBLE DISEASED GOURAMIS, HLLE -- 06/28/08 Hi
Team, I currently have a 35 gallon tropical tank, PH 7.2, Ammonia = 0,
Nitrite = 0, Nitrates = 10-20. I have 2 Pearl Gouramis, 1 male and one
female and both have small holes around the top half of their head
around the eyes and 'nose'. They are not filled with puss etc.
They are empty like bore holes. <Sounds like Head & Lateral Line
Erosion disease (HLLE), a syndrome that may, or may not, be related to
the Hexamita parasite. I would treat for Hexamita anyway, and also
review water chemistry/quality.> The male is a much paler colour
than normal. <Again, consistent with HLLE/Hexamita.> The female
still looks a normal colour. The holes are only on the Gouramis. All
other fish seem unaffected (1 queen arabesque Pleco, 1 Betta, 9 neon
tetras, 1 swordtail). <Hexamita/HLLE doesn't affect all fish
species equally strongly. Cichlids are by far the most prone, but
Gouramis can develop the symptoms too. I've never heard of Catfish,
Livebearers or Characins developing the disease. This isn't to say
they don't, but it isn't common.> I feed them on Tetra Pro
flake food/varied sinking pellets and a weekly treat of frozen daphnia
or brine shrimp. I would guess that this is hole in the head disease
from the info on your site but I change 10-20% water weekly and feed
high quality and varied food so I am not sure how this would have
happened as this often relates to poor water. <Indeed this is the
case. But the infection can be latent in store-bought fish, only to
develop a few weeks or months after purchase. Inbreeding may weaken the
immune system of some fish species. Nitrate is likely the triggering
factor with cichlids, but 20 mg/l nitrate is "safe", so not
really sure what's going on here. Regardless, treat first, worry
about the science later.> Is hole in the head disease infectious??
<Not really, no; Hexamita quite probably sits inside the guts of
most fish harmlessly, and only causes problems when their immune
systems are otherwise impaired. If it is in your system, then all fish
have been exposed, so isolating any one fish won't make a huge
difference. Since only certain fish develop the disease (or diseases)
there isn't any need to worry about the catfish, tetras, or
livebearers. By all means isolate the fish if it makes treatment
easier/cheaper, but beyond that there's no overbearing reason to do
so.> Are my other fish likely to catch it from the Gouramis??
<Possibly the Betta.> Are there any treatments available in the
UK that you could recommend?? <Yes. eSHa make something specific for
Hexamita/Discus Disease. Not used it myself, but I rate their other
medications very highly. http://www.eshalabs.com/hexamita.htm > Or
is it maybe too late to save them?? <Fish can, do recover from
Hexamita provided they are treated and properly fed/maintained.> I
would like to treat the entire tank anyway if poss. as a precaution.
Thanks Brian <Cheers, Neale.>
".... like I need a hole in my head."
Hi! <Hello!> I appreciate your time and any help or expertise you
can offer. I have a 4.5 inch discus that we treated for hole in the
head last month, it had white pussy matter coming out of holes above
the lateral line. <Sounds classically like hole-in-the-head
indeed.> We treated with Paragon II and it cleared up after 2 rounds
of medication. Now a month later it has started again. Will this keep
coming back do I need to retreat? <I would re-treat, but with
Metronidazole in food rather than in the water.> Is there a better
medication that you can purchase at a pet store that you would
recommend? <Metronidazole can be found under the name
"Hex-a-Mit" (Aquatronics). It would be best to administer
this via food, *not* just in the water, as the package directs. Perhaps
try mixing it into a frozen food (er, thaw the food to mix it in, then
re-freeze). Aim for about 1% medicine by weight.> We are currently
feeding quite the variety of foods so I would find it hard to believe
it is from a vitamin deficiency. <Might be worthwhile to look into
vitamin supplements anyway.> Lastly what is the minimum size you
would recommend for a hospital tank, we just put our 75 gallon tank
away and aren't too excited about setting it back up. <For a
single, 4.5" discus? You could manage with something even as small
as a 10-gallon tank (or even Rubbermaid container), if necessary. A 20g
might be a little more suited to a good sized fish like that. Be sure
to provide something for the fish to hide around and feel safe. PVC
pipe elbows are good for this, and cheaper than plastic plants. Wishing
you and your discus well, -Sabrina>
HLLE, Oscars, Etiology, Cures Hi Robert...
<Hello> I am sure with the volume of mail that you receive, you
don't recall who I am. I had the two gold Oscars that had HLLE.
<I recall> Though I followed everything that was explained to do,
tonight I lost one of them. For some reason, this one just did not
respond to anything I did. The other seems to be at least remaining the
same, if not slowly healing, it is difficult to tell. I have some
generic questions that I have found no answer to. Is HLLE an actual
disease, a skin condition, a bacteria, or most importantly, contagious?
<There are a few theories as to root causes of HLLE... most favor
nutritional deficiency syndromes (mainly vitamins, iodide/ine)... some
suggest protozoan involvement (esp. Hexamita spp.), others stray
electrical potential (sellers of grounding probes), general "poor
water quality"... Myself? I believe the first is a principal cause
with all others being contributory. Please read through "the three
sets of factors that determine health" piece here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm For a "more rounded"
view/glance of what goes on in the real universe> Everything
I've read says that it cropped up about 15 years or so ago, and the
likely hood of the causative action being Hexamita is slim. <Was
about way before this time... know because I was there...> As this
is what killed one of my Oscars, I would like to know more about what
it actually is. <I understand your provocation... treatments more
often kill off livestock...> You spent a great deal of time working
with me on fixing this problem, and I truly do appreciate it. <An
honor to help> One just didn't have it in him to make it though.
I still have hope for the second one. Thank you again cj. <Please do
read over the HLLE FAQs and environmental disease sections on the
Marine Index part of our site (WetWebMedia.com) as well. The same
etiology/ies for marine fishes pre-dispose them to this
"disease". Bob Fenner> C.J. Moody
Re: Cichlid i.d., Vitamins, Iodide/ine I am sure
I am about to drive you crazy.... but.... <<Mostly there already,
no worries>> >Do you mean that I can actually buy baby
vitamins for human babies and use them?? ><<Yes, the actual
molecules are identical>> How do I know how much of this to give
them? Should I treat the food with the same amount as listed for an
infant? <<Hmm, a "few drops" total (irrespective of
food amount, size of system) will be sufficient and no
problem...>> >However, I know that table salt does have iodine
in it. If I were to put a few teaspoons of table salt in there, would
this be a bad thing or a good thing? ><<Better than
nothing>> Sounds a bit ominous... Will track down some of the
advised product:) <<Ah, good>> Thank you again:) cj. C.J.
Moody <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cichlid i.d., Vitamins, Iodide/ine >>1
random cichlid [about the size of a convict] >I would like to figure
out what this cichlid is. ><Oh yes: fishbase.org The family
cichlid is quite large... maybe start with Spilurum, the various
re-do's of the genus Cichlasoma... and a very large pot of
tea/coffee (to stay up late). Have fun.> *Thank You*!! I may well
find out what she is with this:) <<Yes... a long, but fun
search>> ><The same causative mechanism/s exist in both
marine and freshwater... lack of essential nutrients> Can I overdose
them on vitamins? <<Yes, this is possible... not practically
though...>> ><There are prep.s that are made/labeled for
fishes et al. aquatics, but the compounds involved are the same as for
tetrapods (like you and me), so "baby vitamins" (liquids)
will do... Do you mean that I can actually buy baby vitamins for human
babies and use them?? <<Yes, the actual molecules are
identical>> > or pet-fish ones like Micro-Vit, Selcon... Add
these to the food a few minutes before offering.> Yesterday I bought
something called Hex-a-Vital, and it is a vitamin product that
specifies treatment for HLLE. I can see a difference in one of them,
but the other still looks fairly nasty. <<This "curing
process" takes weeks to months generally. Be patient>> In
this product is A, D3, C, E, Calcium Phosphorous and Calcium Carbonate.
There is no iodine. <<I would find a source and apply it.
Lugol's Solution will do, potassium iodide would be better>>
However, I know that table salt does have iodine in it. If I were to
put a few teaspoons of table salt in there, would this be a bad thing
or a good thing? <<Better than nothing>> I have always
understood that iodine will kill fish, which is why one should use rock
or aquarium salt. <<Hmm, much to say here... Iodine (the element)
is indeed toxic... Iodide (same element, different valence state) is a
way to supply this essential nutrient... not toxic in small
concentrations>> ><Me too... do try the vitamins... they
can/will effect a reversal at this point. Bob Fenner> I can tell
there is an improvement. You are a wonderful person, taking the time to
work with me on this. Thank you so very much. cj. C.J. Moody <You
are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>
Hole in the head Hi from Australia, I have
a problem with my tropical tank so first some background info (sorry,
this could take a while); It's a 55gal and has been up and running
for about 3 months with an Eheim 2229 wet/dry, It has been on 0
nitrites, nitrates and ammonia all the time (had LFS double check
this), the ph has been 7 constantly. The tank is well planted and the
plants are healthy and growing well (I used undergravel plant tablets
for them). I introduced my fish slowly first 8 Neons, one week later 4
dwarf Gourami, 2 weeks later 3 small Bristlenose, 1 week later a small
angelfish and a pearl Gourami all the time maintaining zero levels of
everything. <This all sounds very good> First one of my dwarf
gouramis got bloat and died, research done so more varied diet (peas,
flake food, mosquito larvae.) introduced and reduced amount of feeding.
By the way weekly water changes of 1/4 have been going on since 3 weeks
in. <This is probably a bit much on the water changes. If you want
to do them weekly cut them back to about 10% unless you notice your
levels start to rise.> Then introduced Siamese fighter, (2 weeks
later) left the tank in fathers care for 3 days when I returned it was
hanging on the surface and looked like its fins were all stuck
together, it refused to eat and consequently died and when I took it
out I noticed blood oozing from its fins (the fish was a red colour so
I didn't notice earlier) there was no evidence of damage to the
fins though, up until then it had been very happy in the tank exploring
and eating fine (Betta bits+mosquito larvae). <Sounds like he might
have died of septicemia. Info here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm
> Now to the current problem, one of my other dwarf gouramis has
hole in the head, the LFS had given me tablets to treat the previous
bloat problem and they said this is also for HITH, I can't remember
their name but they were large white tablets, sorry I'm sure that
doesn't help much. <Unfortunately, I don't know what the
tablets would be. Possibly Maracyn but there are others that look
similar. And without knowing what they are I can't tell you much
about their use.> I put 15L water from the tank into a bucket with
some plants and a heater I worked out the tablet dosage as 1 per 25L as
they had told me to put 10 in my 240L tank for the bloat so I put 1/2 a
tablet dissolved in the bucket and left the fish in their overnight by
morning it was swimming erratically and blowing bubbles at the surface,
I immediately moved it to the old tank and it is almost back to normal
now. Does it look like I could have overdosed the fish? The dosage for
the bloat in the 240L (55gal) was 10 tablets every day for 3 days than
a 50% water change. <You said you put in plants and a heater but did
you put in an airstone or pump or anything? If not, this is probably
what was making the fish go crazy instead of the medication.> What
is happening to my fish? My LFS has no idea they say HITH and bloat are
often caused by stress but with few fish, many plants and excellent
water conditions I doubt it. The gouramis do occasionally chase each
other but not excessively. The fish are neither fat nor thin so I must
be feeding the right amount of food. <Most diseases can be brought
on by stress but that's not always the cause. And even just the
introduction of a new fish can cause stress. Imagine you live alone in
a 4 bedroom house. Someone you don't know moves into the house with
you. You still have plenty of room, the air is still good, you have
plenty to eat, but you're still nervous right? It's the same
thing for your fish. So this could have been triggered by stress even
though their conditions are excellent.> Could there be any other
problems with my water? I use 1/2 rainwater, (very alkaline) and 1/2
bore water (very acidic). Are there any other tests I could carry out?
<This should be fine as long as you are acclimating all of the fish
to it slowly.> The only thing I know I have done wrong is not having
a quarantine tank so I went out and bought one yesterday and I will not
introduce any more fish without quarantining them first. <Good. I
would isolate the guy with the HITH and medicate him in that tank.
Don't put him back in your main tank until you know he's
completely well again.> Sorry for the long e-mail but I'm at my
wits end I have told this story to 3 different LFS and none of them
have a clue what is happening. Thanks Emma <Well, I hope I was of
some help! Ronni>