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FAQs on Black Ghost Knifefish, Apteronotus (Sternarchus) albifrons, Disease/Health 1

Related Articles: New World Knifefishes, GymnarchusNotopterids/Clown Knifefishes Electrogenic Fishes,

Related FAQs: BGK Disease 2, BGK Disease 3, BGK Disease 4, Knifefish Disease, BGK FAQs 1
FAQs on: BGK ID, BGK Behavior, BGK Compatibility, BGK Selection, BGK Systems, BGK Feeding, BGK Reproduction, & Knifefishes 1, Knifefishes 2, Knifefish Identification, Knifefish Behavior, Knifefish Compatibility, Knifefish Selection, Knifefish Systems, Knifefish Feeding, Knifefish Reproduction, Electrogenic Fishes, Notopterid Knifefishes (Clowns...),

Sensitive to salts, dyes and metals... NOT to be exposed to such med.s

 Chocolate Ghost Knifefish - Dead... Actually A. albifrons... much reading      4/19/13
Hi guys. I've been reading your site in hopes of helping my Brown GK thrive. Unfortunately he's dead. I wanted to provide a picture so others might use it as a reference and you might help me better understand what happened. I found it very hard to find pictures of illnesses of BGK's so hopefully this is helpful. Until his last day, he wouldn't come out long enough for me to get a good picture. I was treating for Ich but now suspect he had fin rot as well, although he didn't have white on his fins, just dark brown spots that eventually fell off. He had what looked like an ulcer near his anal fin. I didn't see the rot until the last 24 hours but it could be because I couldn't get a great look at him (he hid a lot until he needed to come up for more air due to the disease). Here's what I did: Kept water to 80 - 82 degrees (I'm using a thermometer that sticks to the glass and both are "lit up") and using Kordon® Ich-Attack® 100% Natural Ich Treatment
<Am familiar, and though am a huge a fan/friend of Dr. Bob Rofen, this product isn't worthy of the co.>
twice a day in a 29 gallon tank (knowing I'd have to move him once he started to grow) with 1 rainbow shark and 3 Cory catfish. My hope is/was that I'd successfully raise them and then move them to a very large tank around 100 gallons. The reason I was treating for Ich is because I had 3 hatchet fish who had it and died.
<... simple elevation of temperature would have cured this... See/READ on WWM re>
Since the remaining fish were exposed to it, I treated the tank as a hospital tank and hoped to prevent it in all of them. In a last ditch attempt to help the BKF
<... is this a Black Ghost or a Chocolate Knife? These are different species>
I added aquarium salt slowly over the course of a day (this was yesterday). At this point I had already seen that he had a sore near his anal fin and figured it was a lost cause but he was gasping for air and I was hopeful that at least it might ease his suffering. This morning he was laying flat and the rainbow shark was trying to eat him
<Very common... minnow sharks are aggressive, opportunistic>
 so I removed him and let him die quietly (I really don't know the humane thing to do when you know it's only a matter of time for a fish - if you do, please tell me). I was doing 40% water changes every other day,
<And this system stayed cycled? Lo dudo>

about 1 hour before treating the tank so it wouldn't be diluted (I treated it twice a day with 3 tsp of ICH per directions).
<Of no use... not effective>
The PH was 8.0,
<Too high...>
<Deadly toxic at this high pH>
 Nit 2 - .25,
<As well as this>
 Nit3 5ppm. The only test for GH and KH I could find was a test strip
<Inaccurate and imprecise>
 and I got readings of 120ppm and 80ppm respectively.
<.... what? Both way too high>

 Yes, I am a newbie and I didn't properly understand the nitrogen cycle and by the time I figured that out, I had already messed up. So now I'm definitely waiting until I sort it out before getting any more fish and trying to keep what I have in good shape. I hesitate to use chemicals to right the levels
<Good; unnecessary>
and am hoping 40-50% water changes multiple times a week will help. The catfish look healthy and have no signs of Ich at this time. The rainbow shark has 3 dots and I will keep treating for at least 1 week until all spots disappear.
<Please...  stop. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichsenslvstk.htm
and the linked files above>
Everyone's behavior seems normal and peppy at this time.
My questions are: 1) Is the aquarium salt ok for helping to get any diseases under control?
<.... see WWM re. No>
 I've read conflicting reports on this and I added the dissolved salt slowly over 24 hours to avoid shocking any fish.
Everyone seems fine but I have realized that looks are deceiving. 2) Now that the BGK is gone, should I switch to a stronger ICH medicine? 3) What else can I do to get the ammonia and Nit levels down? Do you advise chemicals? Am I changing enough water or too much and is every other day too much or too little? 4. Do you have any recommendations that come to mind other than what I've asked? Thank you so much!
<Keep reading. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chocolate Ghost Knifefish - Dead     4/19/13

Thank you for your response. I am reading the FAQ but wanted to get back to you with answers. It was a Chocolate/Brown Ghost Knifefish which is partly why it was so hard to find information to treat him. Black seems to be the prevalent one, not brown. Also, I have been reading, reading, reading for hours on end and there's SO much conflicting information out there
<.... stop again. STOP! I can only account for what is on our site. Don't waste y/our time>
 and it's really challenging to trust one source as definitive but your site seems to be one of the most respected out there which is why I contacted you.
<... WWM is a recorded resource principally. No need to "contact us" in your case here>
 The reason I didn't raise the temp is because I read entries that Ghost Knifefish don't tolerate above 82.
<.... ridiculous>
 I will read and hopefully get this tank under control. Thank you so much!
<Take your time... wait till you understand what you're potentially about. Then act. BobF>

Re: Black ghost knife sick (Bob, any other ideas?) 2/25/13
Thank you WWM (Neale/Bob) for your quick response and sorry for my delay (had surgery).  To try and answer all of the questions I will start with water quality..
Nitrates: less than 20ppm
Nitrite: 0
(GH):  Approx. 75ppm
(KH):  Approx.  80ppm
(pH):  between 6.8-7.2 (per my test              strips).
Since our last conversation I have increased the water flow with a large water jet and aeration system to maximise circulation and oxygenation of the tank as well as increased the water temp to 79*F
The filtration system was new but the fish did not seem effected for the first two months.  I have also removed all the tank mates (four mollies, one Cory catfish, and four feeder minnows) and the large piece of driftwood and built a large cave using flagstone rock. 
<I'd add other smaller diameter caves for the BGK to choose amongst>
The substrate is larger than what was in his other tank. (Small Aquarium rock to pea gravel size).  It is the same color and the majority is round and smooth.  The tank is comparable in size not shape (octagonal to a bow front).
I also could not find cockle to feed him but I was told frozen beef heart cubes were good.
<Mmm, I'd look for something's smaller, easier to digest... various worms, insect larvae>
 So in all I'm still hand feeding him the hearts and occasionally frozen blood worms. I also tried frozen krill but he will not eat them.  Now white fish was mentioned as well but no sure if you were referring to just and frozen white fish bought at the grocery store or actual frozen fish cube. 
The possible anchor worm on his chin has appeared to have went away. 
<Ah, good>
With all of that being said I have since moved him to a sick tank with just the heater and filtration system.  With him not swimming on at all the rocks he was laying on was creating soars <sores> on his sides and gills. 
<Yes... I would move this fish back to the larger, more stable display tank>
I have not put and medication in the water because I haven't been able to find what was recommended at my local pet stores. 
Also should I put any salt in his water.  If so how per 10gal of water. 
I figured he would had died since our last conversation but he is still just laying at the bottom of the tank.  I tried lifting him up to see if he would swim but he just falls back down to the bottom.  His fins still move but not enough to propel him. I'm truly at a loss at this point
I hope this covered all of your follow on questions.  If not I will be more expeditious in answering now that I'm better. 
Thanks again... you guys are the only one who seem to know any real knowledge of this amazing fish.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Black ghost knife sick (Bob, any other ideas?) 2/25/13
Hi Bob,
The sores that I am referring to were caused from the fish laying in one spot all the time.  It basically looked as if the rocks were making rock indentations in the skin and were rubbing the skin raw.  I moved him to the smaller tank because of this.  In regards to another cave, unless I physically put him into it he does not swim at all.  He just lays in one spot day and night.
<Takes a while; often weeks, before these specimens feel comfortable... and then don't often come out during the day/light hours>
 His bottom fin moves ever so slightly but I monitor him even in the middle of the night with no movement.  If I move him back to the bigger tank should I remove the rock to prevent him from obtaining soars again? 
<Maybe... also, smaller smooth substrate is vastly preferable. I take it you've perused the coverage of this species on WWM>
Plus in the bigger tank if I put food in there for him it tends to go to waste because he doesn't eat of his own. 
<? You may want more scavengers here>
Besides what I've done so far, is there anything else I can do to get him back to normal or is it just a waiting game at this point.
Thank you,
<The latter. B>
Re: Black ghost knife sick (Bob, any other ideas?) 2/25/13

One last question for now... When I put him back in the large tank, should I continue to hand feed him? 
<Whatever it takes to get food to the fish>
If I don't he will not be able to eat anything and I'm afraid of him dying.  Like mentioned earlier he will not swim by himself at all nor eat if the food is not stuck in his mouth.
Sorry for the bombardment of questions.  I'm just desperately try to do the right things
<Understood. BobF>

Black ghost knife sick (Bob, any other ideas?)<<>>    2/9/13
Hello WWM...  I have a bgk about 14" and have had it for the past 9yrs.
<Good going!>
He has been in a new 55gal tank for the past two months and everything had been fine... recently his behavior has grabbed my attention.  His body appears to be fading to a grayish color and looking very rough.
<Curious. Any major changes besides physically being moved? Is the new tank bigger or smaller? Is the substrate different in any way (colour, texture, sharpness)? Are there different tankmates? Was the same mature filter used or have you started with a new filter? Lack of colour on Knifefish typically implies stress, so I'd be trying to pin down what's changed in this fish's world that's making him unhappy. He's a fair age, but not old (12 years or so is typical for well maintained Black Ghost Knifefish, with some specimens reaching 20 years). So I don't think he's simply dying from old age!>
I have to hand feed him (frozen blood worms) or he doesn't eat, and he lays upside down vertically.
<Odd. Will need more than bloodworms though, and bloodworms are questionable in terms of safety anyway, so best used sparingly, if at all.
Do try other, more balanced foods such as cockles, prawns and white fish fillet.><<Agreed>>
I test the water on a regular basis and it tests perfect.
<As in zero ammonia and nitrite? Nitrate levels less than 40 mg/l and preferably less than 20 mg/l?>
The water temp is set at 75 degree.
<Try turning this up a couple degrees, to 26 C/79 F and see what happens.
Compensate for the warmer water by increasing oxygenation if necessary (use a spray bar from a canister filter for example) and make sure circulation of oxygen around the tank is good, especially along the bottom. Warmer water helps fish heal faster.>
He also has a fair sized piece of driftwood and plants to hide in but he lays out in the open.  I also noticed something hanging from his chin that looks like a tiny 1cm worm.
<Need a picture here. Anchor Worm is possible, especially if brought in on live foods or plants grown outdoors. But white flakes of dead skin can look like worms too, and I suppose its possible for things like Fungus and Finrot to form symptoms that are white and thread-like. Is the "worm" segmented and obviously a living, wriggling animal? Or is it just a nondescript white thread? You could try using a combination Fungus/Finrot medication (like Kanaplex or eSHa 2000) as a first-pass, but Knifefish can be sensitive to medication so observe very carefully. Anchor Worm is more difficult to treat, do-able, but requires insecticides, and these are almost surely lethal to Knifefish so I'd be extremely leery. I'd want to rule out all other possibilities first.>
Please help! I feel helpless at this point and don't know what to do.  I have had this fish the entire time I've been in the military and hope to keep him for years to come.
Thank you, Brian
<Do need some extra info here! Cheers, Neale.><<One cm. is quite a large "something"... parasite, worm or other... Need a well-resolved pic or two here. B>>

Black Knife Sick    11/26/12
Of course I'd like to start for thanking you all for taking the time to help us hopeful hobbyists keeping our pets and in a lot of cases friends alive and happy. I try to keep my information about my fish and aquaria at a constant expanding rate...
That said I don't know all that I should know.
For instance the more I read the more I realize my friends aren't all that compatible. I have a 55 gallon tank with a 4-4.5" Black ghost knife(I love this fish), 2 Golden Dojo loaches about 4-4.5", 3 Black mollies, and a Red velvet wag swordtail(female... Had another male and female unfortunately those two wandered into the Ghost knifes cave the first night). Either way I know I have compatibility issues such as the loaches like calm water where as the black knife like fast water planning to remedy this situation relatively soon, however they all seem very happy for the time being. Water is at 7.5 ph, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 10. Feed the black knife freeze dried bloodworms(which I plan on stopping after reading your site, just bought some frozen beef heart and frozen Tubifex worm). Feed the mollies and the swordtail flakes(and apparently whatever else they decide they want to munch on from the other foods). And of course some sinking pellets for the loaches(that too I have to switch.. I notice this food in particular is making them constipated: the tail floating from time to time). Anyway hopefully I'm giving you the information you need without writing too much. Here's where it started...a couple days ago I bought java fern from the LFS and didn't think anything of it to just stick
it into the tank. I'm assuming the fern was the bringing of white spot.
<Mmm, I'd use the elevated temperature, and possibly salt addition treatment here>
Noticed my BGK acting very strange he is usually out and about doing his thing, taking naps underneath this treelike canopy decoration(also his cave), but today he was kind of swimming in place behind the heater. When he moved out I noticed his swimming a little bit more lethargic and although he swims fine when he wants to he swims at a slant and sometimes sideways rubbing himself against the substrate(sand).
<Natural behavior>
Immediately I started inspecting him very closely and notice white little spots on his body...Also which is what I am quite a bit more worried about is it seems one of his little fins is feathered and wasn't sure if this was Finrot or because he was "scratching" his side. Of course with the loaches and the BGK safe medication is almost non existent so of course I started reading into the salt treatment. My problem I'm getting from this, is that there are a lot of discrepancies. I want to make sure I do anything I can to help my friends get better and overall be happy being with me. I've seen 82 - 86 degrees
<The upper limit is best... you might want to move the livebearers; treat them w/ stronger medicine elsewhere. They don't "like" extended exposure to super warm water>
which is recommended in my case(also I know to increase aeration for all my fish specifically the BGK)?
<A good idea>
 Also in terms of salt am I using marine or aquarium.
<Marine is best>
 I cant say I know the difference between the salts <Use Wiki or such... salts are any combination of metals and non-metals... NaCl, table salt, the most common; there are many kinds/types. There is/are some salts in all freshwater/s...>
 but I want to make sure I do this right. Also 50% water changes every other day correct?
<Mmm, not this much, nor likely this often... 25% or so every week... you just replace the amount of salt removed as a percentage...>
And hopefully my last concern is I have a breeder "tank".. Its this little plastic cube that uses my air pump to push my aquarium water into it... The swordtail gave me roughly 20 little presents which I plan to move to a temporary 10 gallon, but I figure I should hold off till this plague is gone.. Will the salt be more harmful for them since they are still very small (maybe a week or so) because I figure they are also contaminated as well.
<Can't say whether they're weakened or not here already. If so, medicines, salt/s might be deleterious>
 Hopefully I didn't miss any information that was vital.. And hopefully you can understand this, since it's fairly late here but I wanted to get this sent before tomorrow so I know what to buy.
Thank you SO much for the help you are all great!!
<You've likely read here, but if not, do so:
and peruse the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Emaciated BGK... in w/ breeding Ancistrus in a too small world     7/2/12
Hi there,
I'm concerned about my BGK who I've had for about a year in a 90 litre
<Needs much more room than this. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bgksys.htm
community tank (2 gouramis, 6 neon tetras,
<Not compatible...>
 1 peppermint Bristlenose, 2 Bristlenose plus their fry (last count about a dozen
) - still babies but will be rehomed before they get too big. My BGK has always thrived but the last few days he has suddenly lost a lot of weight and become emaciated (top of his head sunken in, really anorexic looking). He was lethargic and seemed to be breathing heavily (not gasping but gills working harder than they should?) - so I reduced the water temp from 26-27 C to 24-25 C to make more oxygen available.
Also he was still eating but not as much, and not as eager as he usually is, with his main diet of frozen bloodworm
<See WWM re these sewer fly larvae... I'd diminish or eliminate their use... implicated in disease issues>
 (he also gets a mixture of beef heart, shrimp, fish, as well as picking on flakes, algae discs, that are for the other fish).
<Try some (live if available, frozen/defrosted if not) Tubificid worms>
I have started feeding him diced cooked prawns (human grade) and he is eating a lot more and seems to be more himself. But I'm really worried about his weight loss. He also has 2 white spots on his body that look a bit 'fluffy', could this be a mild case of Ich?
<Mmm, not likely, no>
One of my neon tetras had a little case of cotton mouth(?) which has healed, only other issue is one of the other tetras which lost an eye (probably from BGK) -
 he now swims on a slight tilt and has slightly shredded fins, assume because he gets picked on a bit - but are otherwise fine. (Neon tetras are tough as nails!) I have been too afraid to add any meds or salt since GKF is so sensitive to these things. The only changes to my tank lately have been the addition of some new plants, and the addition of the Bristlenose fry since my adult pair have decided to mate like crazy! The male has taken over the submarine to care for the eggs,
<This aggression is likely the root cause or at least a large contributor to the loss of health of the Knife... one of them needs to be moved, now>
 one of the places my BGK liked to hang out until the BN banished him (he still has a nice hollow driftwood log however - his most favourite place). Water parameters are pH 7.4, ammonia 0, nitrate 0, nitrite 20. Don't have a hardness test but the tap water where I live isn't hard. I admit that I'm not an expert but I love my fish and want to do the best for them!
<Read and heed. Bob Fenner> 

Black Ghost Knife has lump on side    6/19/12
I have a well established tank. Nobody bothers my ghost knife. I have had him for about 5 years. He is approximately 8 inches long. I just noticed what looks to be a tumor on his side behind his fin. It seems to have appeared almost overnight. His behavior has not changed. I don't know if I am paranoid or if he is breathing heavy. I just did a water change but plan to do another and I will add aquarium salt to the tank. I would hate to lose my Ghost Knife but I do not want him to suffer. What should I look for and what can I do. Please help.
Thank You, Gina
<The Black Ghost Knifefish, Apteronotus albifrons, is a very difficult fish to keep well. Of the thousands of specimens sold in pet shops, hardly any live as long as yours, and I'm sure most die within a year of import. On top of this, you almost never see full-sized adults (which should be at least 40 cm/15 inches long). So what's the deal? The first issue is that these fish need spotlessly clean, oxygen-rich water. They come from the rapids and riffles around waterfalls, and while they may get enough oxygen from an average aquarium when small, as they grow, they quickly become starved of oxygen because the tank isn't big enough for them (or overstocked, or under-filtered, or lacking circulation). Excessive heat does them no good too; they're best kept a trifle cool, around 24-25 C, rather than 28 or 30 C. What else? They're very sensitive to medications of most sorts, including copper, formalin, and many of the organic dyes used in commercial fish medications. There's not nearly enough information about your aquarium for me to diagnose the problem here, but I hope this gives you some clues about what might be wrong, so you can go away and review your aquarium. Meantime, have a read here:
Then follow the links at the top of the article to other FAQs that might help. Cheers, Neale.>

HD Ghost knife Ich photos for you     6/4/12
Hi there,
I've found your site super informative, unfortunately though none of the information I've found has helped my poor Ghost Knife. I injured myself at work (dislocated shoulder, torn ligaments) and was unable to get home for 2 weeks. Had a friend feeding my fish. After 2 weeks I came home to find my bristle nose fry dead and my blue Acara fry dead. All had lost colour, bloated and were at a furry stage of decomposition.
I've been heat/salt treating the BGK for 3-4 days now,
<How high is the temp.? Mid to upper 80's F.?>
and its only getting worse. The 3 Kuhli loaches and 5 Elec yellows don't show Ich symptoms, but don't look well either. Unfortunately I don't have a med tank for any of them. My second tank is full, and SUPER healthy.
Hopefully these hi res photos will be of some use on your website.
<Thanks for sending them along. Bob Fenner>

Re: HD Ghost knife Ich photos for you    6/19/12
Just wanted to send you an update. After 30c temp and salt additions to the water had no effect, I started to notice my Kuhli Loaches getting sick. One died (found him stuck to the filter) and my Electric yellows would not stop scraping themselves. I decided to medicate, using VitaPet Multicure at half strength. after 10 days the BGK has completely healed (fin is yet to grow back, but has healed) and my Kuhlis are more lively than ever. The yellows now are back to normal. They weren't eating much when sick, now they eat anything and its been weeks. My BGK goes nuts for Cichlid crisps
and Algae wafers. The active ingredients in Multicure are 0.400mg/ml Malachite Green, 4.0mg/ml Methylene Blue, 2.00mg/ml Acriflavine. 2.5ml per 20litre every 3 days.
Hope this is of some use :)
<Thanks for the update Sam; yes, quite sure this'll be informative to some.
Methylene Blue and Acriflavine are both relatively mild and I've used them with sensitive species like Puffers. On the other hand, Malachite Green can be quite nasty, but if it worked for you, great! Salt/heat usually works very well with Ick, so do check you use the method correctly. It's a much less toxic approach for dealing with Ick, though it's less effective at low concentrations when treating Velvet, and the two diseases are easily confused. Cheers, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knife with Infection - 5/8/2012
Hello, I just wanted to start by thanking you all for building such an informative site.
WWM: Thanks for the kind words.
Our tank specifications: 55 gallon tank. Established for 2 years. Soft gravel with hiding places (drift wood, live plants, clear tube and dark tunnel). Ammonia and nitrites were tested at our pet store today and were normal. We were told the pH was high, at 7.8, so we will use pH down and retest tomorrow.
WWM: NO NO NO!!! Do not, Do Not, DO NOT change pH directly. If you have hard water, which would explain your high pH, soften the water using either RO or rainwater. At a hardness of 10 degrees dH you will have a pH around 7.2-7.5, and that's fine for this species without any further fussing. If you have "liquid rock" hard water, then 10 degrees dH will probably be 50% tap water and 50% RO or rainwater. Do also be clear that water from a domestic water softener (like many homes have fitted to deal with limescale) is NOT suitable. You only ever need a pH buffer if you have very soft water, well below 10 degrees dH, because such water can't buffer against pH changes and tends to be unstable. It's a shame retailers promote pH-down products as "useful" because, frankly, they're not. Faff around with pH directly and you'll kill your fish.
We do weekly 1/4 water changes. This tank has a BioWheel filter and an aerator. It houses a Pictus catfish, a Pleco, a silver dollar, 2 female Bettas and temporarily, a male marigold swordtail.
WWM: Well, the Betta will be P. Pictus food before too long.
We recently purchased a black ghost knife.
WWM: An extremely difficult to maintain species. Do, please, read and understand their very specific needs: Outstanding water quality (0 ammonia and nitrite; sub-20 mg/l nitrate); very high water turnover rates (at least 10 times the volume of the tank per hour); lots and lots of oxygen; not too high a temperature (25 C/77 F); a big aquarium (100+ gallons); water that isn't too hard (2-15 degrees dH, pH 6.0-7.5).
We were unable to quarantine for lack of a separate tank. Right away, she showed small, white spots on her large bottom fin along with a short stringy line hanging from her underside.
WWM: Difficult to identify from your blurry photos. My best guess is physical damage together with incipient Finrot is the cause of the odd white coloration on the anal fin. There may well be Whitespot too, but I can't see from the photo.
We began raising the temperature to 86 to treat what looked like Ich. (Didn't add salt due to their sensitivity).
WWM: Used at therapeutic doses, 2 gram/litre, salt is ABSOLUTELY SAFE with this species, and much, MUCH safer than either copper-based Whitespot medication or "hoping for the best".
This was about 1 week ago. The stringy line is no longer visible. She is still eating, however her spots have grown in size, and no longer look like Ich. The spots almost look like smudges.
WWM: Quite so.
She is no longer using her left fin, which has a large spot on it. The spots on her bottom fin now appear to be translucent (we can see light from the aerator shining through them.) From the other posts we read on BGK diseases, we thought it most closely looked like fungal infection.
WWM: Fungus forms distinct fuzzy patches -- like cotton wool.
However, the spots are flat, not fuzzy. I have attached 3 pictures that show the spots.
WWM: Do please see we ask for photos around the 500 KB mark. You sent about 12 MB photos, which really gums up the e-mail system. We appreciate your help here, because it leaves space for other people to send photos without their messages getting bounced back. Thank you!
I was hoping you might be able to tell me what these are, as I now have no idea. I am also hoping you can suggest some treatments to accompany heat. From the other posts, I've seen recommendations for 1/2 doses of Aquarisol. What are your thoughts?
Thank you so much for your help.
WWM: Good luck and glad to help.
Cheers, Neale.
Re: Black Ghost Knife with Infection - 5/9/2012
WWM: Jessie,
Thank you for your quick reply.
WWM: Most welcome.
I hadn't added the pH down yet, as I wanted to wait for your reply.
WWM: Ah, good. These products can cause all sorts of problems.
I will try to determine what type of water we have and will add therapeutic doses of aquarium salt.
WWM: Very good. This will help if Whitespot or Velvet are the problem. HOWEVER, salt will have no impact on bacterial infections. I'd recommend doing a course of antibiotics as well, something trustworthy that treats Finrot. That way you are treating, with minimal risk, both possible options. The medications to avoid are those containing copper, formalin, and ideally organic dyes (e.g., Malachite Green) as well, though Methylene Blue tends to be relatively benign and might be tried if necessary. Regardless of the medication you use, be sure to increase water turnover and oxygenation -- nothing kills Black Ghosts faster than low oxygen concentration, and adding medications tends to make all fish even more sensitive to this than usual.
Thank you, Jessie
WWM: Good luck, Neale.

black ghost knife (BGK) enquiry, jaw injury      4/12/12
I have a BGK that was doing ok until we noticed a floating skeleton (remains of a dead guppy, one we didn't realise was missing). We think the ghost knife tried to eat some of the remains as he now has a twisted (maybe dislocated- just off centered) bottom jaw.
<Unlikely to be related. Yes, the Guppy died for whatever reason (check water quality and chemistry) and the Black Ghost may well have tried to eat the corpse (though they aren't scavengers by any means). But Black Ghosts don't dislocate their jaws trying to feed any more than we can! Collision damage with the sides of the tank is MUCH more likely.>
Although this is worrying, he is still able to eat the blood worms.
I have read that they can dislocate their jaw in order to eat some foods-
is this possibly related?
Will the jaw repair itself in time
<If an infection, possibly; but dislocated jaws are usually permanent, and usually fatal if the fish can't feed.>
as it has been like this for at least five days that we've known about it.
<Almost all premature deaths among Black Ghost Knifefish are caused by the owner, not accidents or parasites. So, be 100% sure you're doing everything this species needs. Black Ghost Knifefish need a big aquarium (55 gallons for a juvenile, and 100+ gallons for an adult). Water quality must be EXCELLENT, and I mean good enough to drink! No ammonia or nitrite, ever, and nitrate levels as low as possible, certainly below 20 mg/l. Water chemistry isn't critical but shouldn't be too hard, 2-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5. Water shouldn't be too warm, 25 C/77 F is about right. Lots and lots of oxygen, and however much water movement you have, it's probably worth doubling, because these fish need lots of water current, I'd reckon not less than 10 times the volume of the tank per hour (in other words, for a 75 gallon aquarium, filters and powerheads that together rate 750 gallons/hour). Lighting should be subdued, and lights should never be switched on before the room lights because scared Knifefish can throw themselves into the walls of the tank or the hood. Tankmates must be very peaceful, and certainly not cichlids or other territorial fish. If you start from the point of view that what's wrong is probably your fault -- a very wise perspective with this species -- you are much more likely to find out what's going wrong. These fish are very difficult to maintain for any great length of time, which is why you see so few of them at adult size.
Yes, lots of juveniles, but when was the last time you saw a 50 cm/20 inch adult? Cheers, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knifefish died.    3/29/12
Hi, you guys have been so much help in the past that I am requesting it once again!
<Fire away.>
One of my tanks, a 29 gal Amazon set up containing the natural dark (very black) substrate from the Amazon. It's the stuff that was packed wet that I got at my LFS made especially for tetras and the like. Heavily planted, with four Diamond Tetras, four Red Blue Tetras (same size and shape as the diamond) two what my LFS calls Gold Red Blue Tetras (basically albino Red Blue Tetras), three Green Fire Tetras (have had them for years and I am waiting for them to die off, and last but not least two albino Cory Cats. So a total of ten 1 1/2- 2in tetras, three 1in tetras, one 2 1/2in Cory and one 1in Cory. It has been established with roughly the same fish for over a year. I don't know if that would be considered overcrowded or not but I haven't had any problems till now. Anyway, my friend had to take her tank apart. Also a 29 gal. Anyway she had a BGK that she asked me to keep for a while. It was about 6in long. My other tank is brackish so I put it in with my tetras. It had been in there for almost 3 months without and issues. My water has still been stable (Ammonia 0, NO2 0, NO3 less than 20 but never completely 0) as usual.
<I see.>
I feed all of them 1 frozen cube of brine shrimp every Tues and one frozen cube of bloodworms every Fri. This morning the water was clear when I took my husband to work and when I got home it looked like someone had poured a half gallon of milk in it or a bar of soap!!
<Not good. Typically, if the tank has been running for a while, the problem is a faulty filter or at least issues with biological filtration. Pump jammed, overfed the fish, dead fish rotting, filter media needs cleaning, heat too high or too low, something like that.>
White and bubbles on the surface from the water from the filtration.
<Bacteria, organic chemicals… results in a loss of oxygen, which stresses fast water fish first, such as Black Ghosts.>
This happened within an hour. I am completely confused. As soon as I saw it I set up a small tank and started fishing out my fish. Everyone was fine EXCEPT the BGK. It was dead. Is it possible he died and released some sort of chemical in the water to turn it?
<Released chemicals, no, not as such, but a dead Knifefish in a small aquarium (and yours is too small for this species) could rot and that in turn would cause a bacterial bloom and/or scummy water.>
Or did he die because something happened to the water?
<Impossible to say for now. How warm is the aquarium? What's the water turnover rate? Apteronotus albifrons needs coolish conditions (24 C/75 F is ideal) and lots and lots of water turnover, turnover rates between 8-10 times the volume of the tank per hour.>
I stripped the tank down and have not found a thing. The weird thing is that my water still reads stable! I am at a loss. Nothing was around it to fall in and no one else was at our house when I left. The fish seemed perfectly fine yesterday. He ate well as always and was just out doing his thing. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black Ghost Knifefish died.   3/29/12

Thank you for responding so quick!
I don't think I overfeed.
I do give them several different types of food but never at the same time and spread out through the week. My filtration is working fine but I don't have a large filtration set up I had never needed one with my tetras.
<Tetras mostly come from shady, sluggish pools and streams with little water current. That's why they aren't as streamlined as, say, Danios. But your Black Ghost Knifefish comes specifically from places like rapids and riffles around waterfalls, so they're used to water with lots of oxygen and current. Think what you'd provide for Loaches, and you're thinking along the right lines.>
As far as fish go they have always been clean (at least compared to my puffers and knight gobies in my brackish set up lol) the filter is just one of those Aqua-Tech from Wal-Mart. It is the larger made for 30-60 gal aquariums though. I am not sure of the turn over rate.
<Will state on the filter pump. I think this model is around 300 gallons/hour, but check. In other words, for a 30 gallon tank, you're getting a turnover of 10 times. That's quite a bit of water movement. But I'm skeptical that a basic, inexpensive model like this really delivers that sort of turnover rate once you add the filter media -- many, perhaps all, filters are rated when they're empty, or at least when the media is clean. In any case, on paper this filter should be okay, and you can always test it. Put some flake at the bottom of the tank. If it's quickly wafted along by a current, you're fine. If the flake sits on the bottom, then you don't have enough turnover at the bottom of the tank where a Knifefish needs it.>
I know that BGK get too big for a 30 gal quick. I told my friend that when she bought him. I always research before buying myself and I looked them up when we were in the store. It was a disaster on her part from the beginning. She bought him to go in her 30 gal with her guppies and THEN got mad when he started eating the babies!
<What they do.>
It annoyed me because I told her it would before she got it. She has always done what she wanted no matter what though. It just bugged my immensely that the whole reason I went with her was because she said she wanted my input because I always know more about the fish than the LFS people do.
Anyway, all her fish ended up croaking (I think due to lack of water changes) her tank was always low just about every time I went over there.
She would add water but never change it.
<Not good. Nitrates were doubtless extremely high, and likely toxic.>
Nor did she cycle her tank as instructed. Sorry, I talk a lot. Anyway, the only fish I had lost in the last year was her knife. He wasn't dead long he acted normal the day before and was out eating that evening before I went to bed. Now the temp may have a big part. I keep that tank at 78-80 F for my tetras.
<Why so warm? What species of Tetra? Apart from Cardinals, most would be MUCH happier around 24-25 C/75-77 F, including Neons, X-Rays, Penguins, and all the usual sorts. South American fish often prefer cooler water than many aquarists realise.>
Then again I had not planned on keeping him so long. I didn't feel I had the right to take him back or re-home him but then again maybe I should have. I had been on her for the last 2 of the 3 months I had him for her to take him back. My cories didn't care for him in the least and did everything they did to stay away from him.
<I bet.>
Now all of my fish are in a 5 gal sick tank together and I need to get them out before they stress to death!
Want I am wanting to know now is do I need to strip the tank down and start over or can I just do a series of water changes over the next few days to even things out?
<I would replace 75% of the water in the big tank, turn the heater down a notch, check over the filter and rinsing the media out, but I'd not change anything else. Acclimate the fish back just as if you'd bought them: put in a bucket with a bit less than half-filled old water from the 5-gallon tank, then top the bucket up in stages with water from the big tank over an hour.
Then net the fish out and release in the big tank.>
I didn't want to leave my fish in there but all of my plants are still there. Can they get sick? Die? From the pollutants?
<Plants? No.>
I have way to many in there to try and move them to the 5 gal. They wouldn't all fit in there anyway. At least not leaving enough room for my fish to breath or move at all. If I can do the water changes can I leave my fish out till it's leveled out again? If I have to strip down and re-start my tank I don't know what I would do with my fish. I have never cycled a tank with fish in it and I know I have way too many fish to do it properly.
I have had these guys for years and I don't want to loose them now!!
Thanks, Allie             
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black Ghost Knifefish died.   3/29/12

I have 4 Diamond tetras, 4 Columbian tetra (Hyphessobrycon colombianus), and 2 Gold Colombian tetra (Hyphessobrycon columbianus), 3 Green Fire tetras and 2 albino Corys. I planned on adding some more slowly but with the knife in there I held off. Now I am glad I did! Maybe now after I stabilize them I will be able to start adding a few more slowly in a month. I am wanting 6 each of the diamond, Columbian and gold Columbian tetras. They all have the same basic shape and size and have done extremely well together over the last three years. They range from 1 1/2-2" at the moment. I started out with my tank at 75 F when I set it up a few years ago. These particular fish I have (I don't know if it's common for these species or just with my particular specimens) but their color is brighter they seem happy and they are more active at 78-80 F.
<Ah, now, when the water is warmer, fish may colour up more because they "think" it's the breeding season. Flip side, they become more territorial and/or feisty, and their lifespan is shortened. A good compromise is to adjust the heater through the year, and maybe keep the tank cooler through autumn and winter to let your fish settle down, socialise, and feed up for a few months. Review the thermal preferences of each species and act accordingly.>
It usually stays closer to 78 though. I have the lighting softened for them and the dark natural substrate heavily planted with various plants. I wish I had a pic handy but I don't have any from before this whole thing happened. I am toying with the idea of upping my brackish (I keep it around 1.008-1.010) tank to a 100gal. It's a 60 long right now. In it I have one dragon goby he is over 9" at the moment. He was only about 3-4 when I got him, 2 F8's, 1 male Knight goby and 2 females, then 2 male mollies and 6 females. Between the 6 female mollies there are always babies which keep the puffers and gobies happy. That may sound mean but the whole reason I went with mollies was to help supply live food for the other fish.
<Not mean at all. I do this. I don't have anything against live feeder fish as such. It's how they're used and the risks involved. Juvenile Mollies will be small (so easily swallowed whole), settled in the tank already, and parasite-free, so there's little cruelty or risk involved. Compare that to buying feeder Goldfish or Minnows, where the fish are bigger, more stressed by poor maintenance at the retailer and the trip home, and likely very disease-ridden.>
It keeps the puffers from messing with anything else. If I up it this summer then I am going to set up my 60 for the tetras.   
<Real good.>
Thanks for the info on the water changes! I am starting now!
<Hope works/worked out. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Black Ghost Knife after Ich Treatment, mistakes in stkg., trtmt   3/20/12
I have ready many of the emails on your site thus far and have found it very informative. However, I feel my situation may be a bit different. My significant other and I bought an established 55 gallon tank 2 weeks ago.
Remaining inhabitants from original tank included: black ghost knife and Cory catfish. (The previous owners sold many fish before selling the rest of the tank) Both fish were doing well. Temperature is kept near 77F.
Ammonia and nitrates were normal per water analysis at local pet store 3 days ago. pH was a bit high, so we did a 15 gallon water change and added 5tbsp aquarium salt.
<Mmm, Apteronotids don't "like" salts>

I am a beginner at fishkeeping and rely heavily on the internet unfortunately.
<Some sites better than others...>
Many fish have been added to the tank in the last 2 weeks (more than I think should have been): 4 Danios, 1 silver dollar, 1 silvertip catfish,
<... is this a/the
a brackish to marine species >

1 dojo loach, 1 blue Gourami, 1 algae eater.
<Not Gyrinocheilus I hope/trust>

All was going well until yesterday. White spots were noticed on the silver dollar. We rushed because we know Ich is fatal
<Can be...>
and we added Ich treatment (formalin and malachite green)
<Too toxic for the cats, knife and likely the dollar>

 yesterday. We lowered the water level to increase agitation from the filter and we lowered the aerator. I feel adding the chemicals was a mistake.
<You'd be right>

 Today, the BGK has a white, shimmery film over his body and he is weak (laying on the bottom, not hiding). I did an immediate 60% water change and added more salt.
 Is there any way I can remedy what we've done?
<Add activated carbon in the filter/flow path, raise temperature to 86 F.
or so... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
 I know now from your site that we should have tried heat/salt first. I feel awful as my inexperience has caused the likely death of a beautiful fish. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you
<Perhaps a good general FW aquarium book... No more blind stocking. Bob Fenner>
re: Sick Black Ghost Knife after Ich Treatment  3/21/12

Thank you so much for your quick reply and for your recommendations. Are there any specific FW aquarium books you would suggest?
<See Neale's input here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bksfwbrneale.htm
Yes, that is the same silvertip and the same algae eater. I sense they are not appropriate for our tank. Is this correct?
<Poor choices for the reasons you were referred to search. Do so. BobF>
Thank you,

Black Ghost Knife, hlth., stkg.    3/1/12
Hello Wet Web Crew!
I've been using your website since I started fish keeping about 7 months ago. It's very informative, and my go to site when experiencing problems :-)
<Ah good>
However I cannot find an answer to my problem in your FAQ's, or on any other site.  Here's some info on my tank: 
55 gallon planted tank with driftwood, and ornaments for hiding. It's been fully cycled for 6 months.
PH- 7.4
Ammonia- 0
Nitrite- 0
Nitrate- 20
Fish: 2 Otos, 4 candy cane tetras, 3 Roseline sharks, 2 Bala sharks (babies only 1.5" long), & 4 Pristella.
My issue is I finally got my beloved Black Ghost Knife a week ago, and he was doing great right off the bat!  Very active, eating well (I fed him frozen brine shrimp & frozen blood worms),
<Mmm, please see WWM re the latter... and feeding Apteronotids period>
 and he wasn't even hiding as I've read they do a lot even in my brightly lit aquarium. Then two days ago we found him laying down on the substrate, looking lifeless so we opened the glass tops and he perked up, but only for a second and then laid down in one of our plants.  He continued to move throughout the tank but only for seconds then laid back down.  I researched a lot and read that sometimes they lay down for predatory reasons or to be lazy, which I found hard to believe. None the less, the next morning he was dead. I am left devastated.  Our water parameters are great, and there was no signs of infection or disease. I purchased the BGK from a great aquarium shop too. So I'd like to know why this fish could have died, are there some special requirements they need that I'm not aware of?  Or did I just get a bad fish?
<Most likely the latter... fishes, aquatic life in general differs from our/human awareness of tetrapods like birds and mammals... that show "troubles" almost as soon as they occur. Fishes often when "challenged", as in damaged in handling, shipping... days later>
I'd like to get another one right away, but I don't want to wind up with the same issue. It's hard to fight something you don't understand. What do you think could have caused this death? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
<Seek a specimen that has been "in stock" for a few weeks at your dealer... provide it with a glass chimney or such, a container it can swim into... and see WWM re the diet>
Another issue that arose about 4 days ago, one of our Bala Sharks has a red bump just behind one of his gills. It's growing in size and looks like a tumor, it's an internal lump. I'm not sure how to treat this, and would like your suggestions. I've read medicine laced flakes are available?
<They are or you can make them>
  Does this sound like something treatable?
<Mmm, I'd not treat these small Balas... likely this is a physical trauma, that will hopefully heal on its own>
  What would cause an interior infection like this? 
<Again... a (very common) bump, jump into the glass, the top, decor... this is a very "nervous" minnow species>
Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. I want to give my fish a healthy happy home.
<Thank you for writing, sharing your concern. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black Ghost Knife   3/2/12

Thank you for the quick reply! 
Sorry to be writing about the same topic but I'd like a little clarification as I intend to get another black ghost knife and I want to be sure to create a healthy environment for him.
I did already have a clear ghost knife tube in the tank for him, but he never went in it. He stayed in my skull or under my driftwood but was very active the entire time we had him. I thought we lucked out with a super friendly one!
Anyway, I read through your site more as you suggested, and see that you recommend a cooler water for them, 75degrees maximum and a lot of current?
<Moderate is fine>
My tank does have a lot of current, I'm running a 70 AquaClear filter (was thinking about putting another 70 on as well because of the plants), I have an airstone strip and a fan in the corner that creates current.  So there aren't many dead spots.  But I do keep it on average at 78degrees, so I could lower it if you think my other fish would be tolerant to the cooler water?
<I'd leave it where it is>
Also I saw that salt can be harmful to them?
<Can be>
  I do add one teaspoon of salt to 5 gallons when doing water changes,
<Should be okay... but not of much use. Read here:
 and I did a water change three days before my BGK met his fate. Do you think that's what killed him?
  I had salt in the tank already, so it shouldn't have been a shock.  But I don't want to make the same mistake again. 
Plus I got this fish from an aquarium place I trust and he'd been there for 2 months before I brought him home, and that store uses salt in their tanks also and keeps the water at 82degrees.
So what do you think? 
<Not much more>
On a side note my bala's bump did rupture yesterday and he appears to be fine. It's scary to see a hole in his side though, I'm praying he doesn't get an infection in the open wound.
Thanks again for all your help!  It's so nice to have a trusted site for reliable aquarium advice! 
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sick tank with Ghost knife  2/4/12
Hi, my name is Kathy,
And I have a issue with my fish I went to pets smart and got 4 baby angels what a mistake,
<Oh dear'¦>
well when I got them in tank I was checking them out they were hiding of course so I left them alone, and retired to the living room the next morning I feed every one ghostie my blk ghost knife his frozen bloodworms noticed the baby angels I just got have small white stuff all over them there fins were clamped down and they were flicking and twitching darting,
<No good. How long has this aquarium been running? Does sound like Finrot and/or Fungus; treat accordingly.>
they acted stiff. wow what a drag I also have a albino Cory cat and 3 tetras one algae eater in a 30 gal, my ghost knife is 2 yrs old I love  him he is not my first, I have a strong filter it is a  fs tetra 20-40 my tank has been up and running for 2 yrs,
<I see. Now, what's the water quality? Saying the filter is designed for a certain size aquarium is one of the ways manufacturers mislead us. This small hang-on-the-back filter may be rated for tanks in the 20-40 gallon size range, but that's only meaningful if the aquarium is lightly stocked with small fish. It's like the miles-per-gallon fuel consumption quotes you get with motor cars; more a sales pitch than anything else!!! In fact your filter probably isn't up to the job of cleaning a 30 gallon tank stocked with fish as big and messy and carnivorous and above all else sensitive as a Black Ghost Knifefish, and Angelfish are only adding to the workload. Whatever else is going on here, water quality is surely the root cause.>
now well the angels have died and now one of my tetras have white spots in fins great... well I tried api, Pimafix for 5 days before the angels died.
<A fairly hopeless product.>
one died about 2 days after I started the treatment, then I did a water change about 25%waited 2 days then I tried
copper safe by Mardel for a week and the rest of the angels died,
<You're randomly medicating! Stop. Sit down. Put the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea. Think about what's going on. Water quality is surely a problem, so start by doing water changes and of course don't feed the fish. Clean the filter out if it seems bunged up, and maximise its ability to remove ammonia by removing things like carbon and making space for biological media. Of course, carbon can't be used with medications (it removes them) so you should have removed carbon anyway; I'm just making the point for clarity.>
the ghost knife seems fine but the tetra has the same white spots on fins, so the whole tank has to be treated with some thing that will work without hurting my buddy the ghost knife
<Here's the thing. One of the bits of aquarium voodoo is that if you overstock or wrongly stock an aquarium, the Angel of Death visits and deals with the problem in his own way. You've been incredibly lucky the Knifefish has survived thus far -- but I wouldn't push that luck.>
something that will work. the temp is 74-76 pre set heater, I use filtered water from martins it is ro water the system says so were I fill up at,
<Just RO water? Honestly? You don't buffer the water with something like Discus Salts? You don't mix it with hard tap water? Here's another source of problems if you're keeping the fish in pure RO water. RO water contains no salts at all, and this makes it dangerous for fishkeeping. It sounds to me like your existing fish adapted to it over time, but the new fish couldn't adapt quickly enough, and that's what killed them.>
I do water changes about every 3 weeks its a 29 gal tank the nitrites are..o.. and the nitrates are 20-40 ph 7.5 I have live plants, well what's left of the after the copper safe got them..plz help what can I treat the tank with that will get rid of this problem without hurting my ghost knife..
<You need to sit and think about this tank VERY carefully. If you have been keeping them in pure RO water, that's bad. You need to do a series of water changes to add some hardness. Not massive changes, and since you're keeping South American fish, soft water is great. But either mix 3 parts RO with 1 part hard tap water, or else buy some Discus Buffer and add that to your RO water before use. Do maybe 10-20% water changes daily to improve water chemistry. Secondly, look at the filter and the size of your tank and reflect on water quality. Something's amiss here. Clean the filter, clean the tank, reduce feeding, improve water turnover. Don't add any more fish. Don't feed for at least three days while things settle down. If you medicate, and you should if Finrot is still apparent, use an antibiotic, not copper or formalin, as both of those are lethal to Knifefish. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick tank with Ghost knife  2/4/12

Thank u for your reply, the hard water source would have to come from the outside spicket,
<Hang on a second here. What comes out of the tap in your kitchen? Be crystal clear that domestic water softeners DO NOT make RO water. All they do is replace temporary hardness with sodium. General hardness remains, as well as that extra sodium, so what they make is NOT suitable for fishkeeping. But if you're using genuine RO water, the expensive stuff, then yes, you can mix with hard tap water. Treat the hard tap water with standard water conditioner, of course. Preferably one that removes chlorine, Chloramine, ammonia and copper.>
if I was to mix it with the ro water. and what would be the mixture?
<For soft water fish, 1 part hard tap water to 3 parts RO water is ideal.
But use a water hardness test kit on your tap water first. I'm assuming your tap water has a general hardness (degrees dH) of around 20. For soft water fish you want something like 2-10 degrees dH. So if you mix 50/50 hard tap water with RO water, you'd get a general hardness of 10 degrees dH. Mix 3 parts RO water with 1 part hard tap water, and the general hardness would be 5. Simple maths.>
or we do have soft water, in the house.
<Do not use water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium.>
so what would be the mixture for soft water and witch one would u choose, the hard water is city water hard with metals, and chemicals, and as far as treating the tank I thin its Ick, I don't know is there a med I can use that will combat all, that's safe for the knife fish? what's it called?
Read for the details. Cheers, Neale.>

BGK struggle to swim - same as "Black Ghost Knife Fish is Sick 4/23/2011 " by Jessica     1/2/12
I am having the exact same issue discussed in below link
*Black Ghost Knife Fish is Sick   4/23/2011*
by Jessica
<I see. Did you read the suggestions I made there?>
but am unable to really find the answer. Below statements perfectly describe my bgk behaviour. It looked like he was having trouble directing himself properly. Almost like there was a strong current pushing him around, but there wasn't I also noticed it looks like he has some sort of clear stringy goo coming off of him. I can barely see it, but it's there
<Not good. These are strong swimmers. If they are being pushed around by the water current, they are weak for some reason. Review water quality, temperature, diet and tankmates, and act accordingly.>
Earlier when I got feedback from you about food, I was happy to see him eating and thought he is cured. I added him bigger shelter. He is almost invisible in the tank as he always rest in the shelter, which I am ok with.
I got addition of 2 small Discus fishes in the tank, are they the cause?
<They are poor choices for this aquarium. Black Ghost Knifefish need a middling temperature aquarium with a strong water current. Discus need a high temperature aquarium with a gentle water current. There's no overlap, and the two species do not belong together.>
I fed him live bloodworm the day you suggested, only yesterday I tried to feed him frozen bloodworms (I simple froze some live bloodworms day before yesterday), are they the cause?
<Do need a varied diet, not just bloodworms.>
I see his tail kind of broken and see him always swimming on his one side.
The fin looks good.
<What do you mean the fin looks broken?>
Filtration is on for almost 15-20 min.s a day,
<What? Filter MUST be running 24 hours per day.>
I have bio filter which is running whole day.
<But you just said it runs for 15-20 minutes. This doesn't make sense.>
The temp is 28-30C as I had Ich issue and do not wish the discuss to have it hence continuing.
<Much too warm.>
is it the temp. bothering him?
shall I switch off the heater?
<No, set it to 25 C/77 F. Move the Discus to another aquarium, with water temperature 28 C/82 F. Ensure water current in the BGK aquarium is high, at least 8 times the volume of the tank per hour. So assuming a minimum aquarium of 75 gallons (a smaller tank won't work for this species) then you need a filter rated at 8 x 75 = 600 gallons per hour.>
I daily do 1/4th water change as the food remains in water tank and I don't want to get fish hurt
<You shouldn't need to do daily water changes. Assuming a large tank (75+ gallons) and proper filtration (turnover at least 8 times the volume of the tank per hour) then a simple 20-25% water change once a week is fine.>
discuss eats worms very well....I have kept a glass bowl for BGK separate which (hopefully) not known to discus!! as they eat the worms around it but not inside it!!
<Don't understand this at all.>
sorry to bother you again...but something is wrong with my BGK and can't figure it what
<Do read:
Most Black Ghost Knifefish are killed by poor environmental conditions.
They are VERY sensitive fish. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: BGK struggle to swim - same as "Black Ghost Knife Fish is Sick 4/23/2011 " by Jessica  �� 1/3/12

Just to add, I also observed him sleeping vertically.
<Not good. Do read my reply and the links you were sent to. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Black Ghost Fish too much salt?    11/22/11
Hi! I have a sick Black Ghost Knife Fish and I have been doing research and speaking with a few Aquarium shops for the past few days with no help.
We have and angel fish who developed some fungus on it's tail. After a few water changes there was no improvement so we did a salt bath on the tank. I was not aware that Knife fish were so sensitive to the salt though now since he is sick I know he is. The major problem that I can identify is that not knowing I did a salt bath my boyfriend also did one. That next morning the ghost was laying on the bottom of the tank hardly breathing. We have a 55 gallon tank with an assortment of angels, clown loaches, tetra's, catfish, a Danio...everyone else seems OK though we have quarantined our angel in another tank and are doing treatments on him. We changed about half of the water in the tank to reduce salt levels but 2 days later the
Ghost is not eating and has been laying in the bottom of the log that he usually hides in. No spots or ragged fins he looks of other than that he is laying where he typically swims all day. Our water levels are all pretty much perfect and I'm not sure what else to do to help him???
I would love some ideas he is by far our favorite fish and I would hate to see him go!
<You shouldn't use salt at a higher concentration than 2 grammes/litre.
Contrary to popular misconception, salt isn't a cure-all. It's good for Whitespot and Velvet at the concentration stated above, but hopeless for Finrot and Fungus, and certainly not something to add to your aquarium without a very good reason. If you do think salt is the issue here, do a 50% water change now, and another 50% tomorrow. This should flush out most of the salt.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Black Ghost Fish too much salt?    11/22/11

Thanks Neale! I will try that and see how he does.
<Good luck! Do also consider the presence of copper and low oxygen concentration -- both critical issues when keeping Apteronotus. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Black Ghost Fish too much salt?   11/27/11

Hi Neale,
My Knife fish seems to be better. He is still not quite as active as he was but he is moving around quite a bit more and eating again.
The angel fish is back in the main tank as we went away for the holiday and did not want to leave him in a bucket and now one of our clown loaches has a fungus on him as well.
<Oh dear.>
We were going to treat the tank with a fungus treatment but I am hesitant to do so with the Knife fish in the tank as I know they are very sensitive to treatments.
<Can be, yes. Specifically, copper and formalin. Antibiotics are usually safe. Methylene blue shouldn't cause problems either. Low (2 g/l) salt baths are normally safe as well. On the other hand, organic dyes like malachite green can be risky.>
Should I remove the knife from the tank and put him in a separate tank while we are treating?
<Possibly, but the idea would be to remove the sick fish, medicate them in a hospital tank, and avoid moving, stressing the Knifefish.>
We have a few extras and I can set it up easily. I just am not sure if we should exclude him from the treatment if he could possibly already be sick as well.
<A tough call, I admit. Would tend to err on the side of caution with Apteronotus; medicate obviously sick companions, optimise conditions in main aquarium so Knifefish remains happy, and only medicate the Knifefish if clearly sick. Cheers, Neale.>

black ghost knife fish, hlth./beh.  �� 11/15/11
My black ghost knife fish has been happily living in my tank af 2 years.
The other day he started twirling in a vertical stance. Days later he is still in a vertical position. It is as if his floating bladder is haywire. He can't go lay on the bottom as normal and I don't think he can get anything to eat.
Is there any hope or treatment? Or is he going to starve to death? Any cure for the unbalance?
thanks for any help,
<Need some information on his aquarium, Jerome. For example, how big is the tank? What is the water chemistry and temperature? What are the water quality statistics? Have you used any medication recently? This sort of "twirling" usually means two things: an acute reaction to some poison in the water (e.g., copper, formalin, ammonia) or else the fish is so sick it's lost motor control. In the first scenario, multiple water changes to dilute the toxins can, should help. In the second scenario, the future is bleak without a good idea of why the fish is sick. Cheers, Neale.>

BGK velvet disease  9/20/22
Hello, my wife and I are aquarium enthusiasts and have many tanks set up.
In one of our tanks we have a 5" BGK. This tank has recently experienced a plague of sorts of what I believe to be velvet disease. The symptoms are as follows; the fish with scales have developed a thick mucosal coating which seems to be of a fungal/bacterial nature and is eating away at their fins.
They struggle to the surface to gasp for air before falling to the bottom of the aquarium. The BGK and our Pleco, as well as a small algae eater ( 2") have seemed to escape unscathed until today when I noticed that the BGK's white areas around the face and back have turned a pinkish red color, the under belly is still white. I would like to treat the tank and save the few scaled fish that are left and at the same time prevent the BGK and Pleco for getting ill either from the pathogen or from the treatment.
What should I do to treat this ???
<Mmm, well; first off, the symptoms you list... could be due to some sorts of environmental stress... poisoning of various kinds. I would first be testing for, doing what you can to improve water quality. Second, IF you have access to a microscope, you might well take a skin scraping and look at what might be the cause here biologically (if any)... You might have an infestation of Velvet... or Costia... or other agent. Please read re:
and http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwvelvetfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

BGK velvet disease, found as old draft file   11/13/11

Hello, my wife and I are aquarium enthusiasts and have many tanks set up.
In one of our tanks we have a 5" BGK. This tank has recently experienced a plague of sorts of what I believe to be velvet disease. The symptoms are as follows; the fish with scales have developed a thick mucosal coating which seems to be of a fungal/bacterial nature and is eating away at their fins.
They struggle to the surface to gasp for air before falling to the bottom of the aquarium. The BGK and our Pleco, as well as a small algae eater ( 2") have seemed to escape unscathed until today when I noticed that the BGK's white areas around the face and back have turned a pinkish red color, the under belly is still white. I would like to treat the tank and save the few scaled fish that are left and at the same time prevent the BGK and Pleco for getting ill either from the pathogen or from the treatment.
What should I do to treat this ???
<Mmm, well; first off, the symptoms you list... could be due to some sorts of environmental stress... poisoning of various kinds. I would first be testing for, doing what you can to improve water quality. Second, IF you have access to a microscope, you might well take a skin scraping and look at what might be the cause here biologically (if any)... You might have an infestation of Velvet... or Costia... or other agent. Please read re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwparasitdiagf.htm
Was this ever received? BobF
Re: BGK velvet disease  11/13/11

Yes it was, however we ended up losing the entire tank, the Pleco and BGK both died the same day I got this, it didn't take long for them to succumb.
Thank you for the advice, I am keeping printouts for reference incase we have similar problems with other tanks in the future.
<Sorry to hear/realize your losses. BobF>

Black Ghost Knife Fish Injury? /RMF 6/3/2011
I have a 14 inch Black Ghost, that I've had since he was 3 inches.
I have him in a 60 gallon tank
<Mmm; needs more room than this>
with an Angel, a 4 inch Pictus, a 6 inch Pleco, 3 Siamensis, a Cory, 3 Rummies, a Rasbora and an unknown number of Assassin Snails.
<Mmm, if you had room I'd get more Pictus and Rasboras... as these are social/shoaling species>
These have all been tankmates for several years and except for some minor territorial squabbles between the Pleco, Pictus and Ghost (who all want to occupy the same driftwood cave),
<Yes; I'd have more than one>
everyone has gotten along quite well. The squabbles have never amounted to more than just some minor pushing to move one of the others out of the way.
A few weeks ago, the Ghost developed a wound on the bottom edge of his tail, which we attributed to a possible injury.
<Or aggression by the two cave-competitors more likely>
We watched it for a while and it seemed to get worse, to the point of the flesh being gone from several tiny bones. We also observed a Siamensis picking at it and one of the Assassin snails crawling over it. We isolated the Ghost and after a few days his tail healed and the flesh actually grew back. So we thought the Siamensis and Assassin were perhaps just being opportunistic as neither seemed to bother the Ghost any longer.
Then a few days ago, we noticed on the top of his neck a new wound, with a whitish area surrounding it about 1 and a half inches long. It's not totally white, just looks like someone took a white pencil and drew a big oblong circle around the affected area. We thought perhaps he scraped himself on something, but then just as the first wound seemed to be healing, another wound appeared close by.
At this point, we are not sure if the snails or any of the other fish are picking on him, or if this is the result of some kind of disease.
We are afraid to treat him with anything as we know how sensitive Ghosts are. We have him isolated right now so that no one else can pick on him. He's eating fine, and mostly stays in his cave, though from time to time he will come out and hang out with his head at the top of the water - I know that's not a good sign. But he doesn't stay there.
My question: Is there any type of disease that would cause this?
<As stated, this is almost assuredly an injury from some other fish... but the SAEs and snails aren't the primary cause... and likely environment is playing a role... water quality tests? Perhaps at least "nitrate" and what it portends is "high">
Or are we safe in assuming it's from an injury?
<Third and last time, yes>
And could the Assassins be going after him, since he rests on the bottom of the tank most of the time? We got the Assassins because we had a terrible snail infestation. They've pretty much gotten rid of the other snails and had their own little population explosion, to the point where I've been selling them to our LFS for store credit at $1 a snail. (They turn around and sell them for $4 and can't keep them in stock.) I was wondering if because there are so many, and their main food source is gone, perhaps they are going after the Ghost.
<Doubtful, but I'd keep their numbers low... save up the snail et al. income to buy a larger world for the BGK>
Thank you for any advice/information you can give. I've tried Googling but haven't found a lot of information out there on Ghost injuries or Assassin Snail attacks.
<Ours is posted here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bgkdis.htm
Please do read through this FAQ and the linked files above re this Apteronotid sp.. Bob Fenner>
Black Ghost Knife Fish Injury?  /Neale 6/3/2011
I have a 14 inch Black Ghost, that I've had since he was 3 inches.
<Impressive! Few specimens live long enough to approach this size.>
I have him in a 60 gallon tank with an Angel, a 4 inch Pictus, a 6 inch Pleco, 3 Siamensis, a Cory, 3 Rummies, a Rasbora and an unknown number of Assassin Snails. These have all been tankmates for several years and except for some minor territorial squabbles between the Pleco, Pictus and Ghost (who all want to occupy the same driftwood cave), everyone has gotten along quite well. The squabbles have never amounted to more than just some minor pushing to move one of the others out of the way.
<Fair enough.>
A few weeks ago, the Ghost developed a wound on the bottom edge of his tail, which we attributed to a possible injury. We watched it for a while and it seemed to get worse, to the point of the flesh being gone from several tiny bones. We also observed a Siamensis picking at it and one of the Assassin snails crawling over it.
<I would imagine the snails opportunistically, since they eat decaying organic matter as well as living prey.>
We isolated the Ghost and after a few days his tail healed and the flesh actually grew back. So we thought the Siamensis and Assassin were perhaps just being opportunistic as neither seemed to bother the Ghost any longer.
<Quite so.>
Then a few days ago, we noticed on the top of his neck a new wound, with a whitish area surrounding it about 1 and a half inches long. It's not totally white, just looks like someone took a white pencil and drew a big oblong circle around the affected area. We thought perhaps he scraped himself on something, but then just as the first wound seemed to be healing, another wound appeared close by.
<Sounds as if he's sustaining some sort of injury. Possibly from fighting or fin-nipping, otherwise a burn if he sleeps close to the heater.>
At this point, we are not sure if the snails or any of the other fish are picking on him, or if this is the result of some kind of disease. We are afraid to treat him with anything as we know how sensitive Ghosts are.
<Quite so, but antibiotics should be safe. It's copper, formalin, and the other toxic medicines that cause problems, organic dyes for example.>
We have him isolated right now so that no one else can pick on him. He's eating fine, and mostly stays in his cave, though from time to time he will come out and hang out with his head at the top of the water - I know that's not a good sign. But he doesn't stay there.
My question: Is there any type of disease that would cause this?
<None from which I'm aware, but do consider Hexamita, which can cause problems when fish are maintained sub-optimally. Your aquarium is probably too small for this fish now, in terms of oxygen concentration and nitrate accumulation as well as psychologically.>
Or are we safe in assuming it's from an injury?
<Certainly what I would assume.>
And could the Assassins be going after him, since he rests on the bottom of the tank most of the time? We got the Assassins because we had a terrible snail infestation. They've pretty much gotten rid of the other snails and had their own little population explosion, to the point where I've been selling them to our LFS for store credit at $1 a snail. (They turn around and sell them for $4 and can't keep them in stock.) I was wondering if because there are so many, and their main food source is gone, perhaps they are going after the Ghost.
<Possibly, but I don't think it likely. If you can remove them, by all means do so and see if that helps.>
Thank you for any advice/information you can give. I've tried Googling but haven't found a lot of information out there on Ghost injuries or Assassin Snail attacks.
<Not aware of Clea helena causing anything like this sort of damage. They are whelks, and their marine relatives don't seem to cause damage to fish in reef tanks, so I can't imagine the freshwater ones are any worse. Of course, if the Apteronotus is weakened, then yes, they're opportunistic carnivores that will consume whatever they can find.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knife Fish is Sick   4/23/2011
We added a BGKF to our community tank 2 weeks ago. Specs on the tank. 46 gallons, 2 mollies, 5 fancy Danios, 3 glow fish, 1 power blue Gourami, and we had added a rubber lipped Pleco at the same time as the BGKF. 4 days ago I notice his bottom fin was starting to look frayed. Then I noticed he was acting strange. Sort of digging in the sand while vertical but spinning in circles erratically the entire time. This went on for hours.
It looked like he was having trouble directing himself properly. Almost like there was a strong current pushing him around, but there wasn't. I checked the water and the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were higher than normal. The reading was of the nitrates was 2, and the ammonia and nitrites were a little high, but not excessive. I did a water change went to work came home and he was still acting crazy spinning in circles erratically. I did another water change and when I woke up in the morning he was on the filter. I turned the filter off and he floated/swam to shelter. I fed the others he seemed like he was trying to eat then the others started eating what he was trying to get to and were sort of pushing him around. I decided it was time for the hospital tank so he could rest and eat in peace since he was still acting like a dying fish. He has been in the hospital tank by himself for 3 days now and yesterday he started to bend in one direction the front and he just lays on the bottom half bent.
I have even checked at night and he isn't doing anything. He hasn't been eating either so I had to take frozen blood worms and rub them against his mouth until he took them, but he would only eat 2. I also noticed it looks like he has some sort of clear stringy goo coming off of him. I can barely see it, but it's there. I don't see any Ick, but from research that doesn't necessarily mean it's not there. I am keeping the hospital tank at 81 F and I don't have a filter as I don't want him suck against it again so I have been adding water via the Brita pitcher to keep it clean because it seems to be clouding up very easily despite there being no food. All of the food I am adding I am hand feeding so if it doesn't get eaten it doesn't stay. I haven't added any meds because it appears there are no good additives for these fish. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it. I have been scouring the web for 4 days now and nothing appears to be fitting the symptoms and you site seems to be the most thorough and knowledgeable. Perhaps this is just a wait and see situation, but as it has been a week and he hasn't kicked the bucket yet I figure I am either doing something right or just drawing out his agony.
Jessica = )
<Hello Jessica. You need to get this BGK out of the "hospital" tank at once! You cannot keep a fish like this -- or really any fish -- in an unfiltered aquarium. As you may or may not know, Brita water filters are simply carbon filters, albeit massively expensive ones. They don't clean the water in any meaningful way, though some people think they improve the taste. In any case, in strictly scientific terms, all the Brita water filter is doing is filtering tap water through carbon, thereby removing most organic and some inorganic impurities. Once the water is in the aquarium it may as well be plain tap water for all the difference it'll make. Without a filter your BGK will be incredibly stressed. These fish MUST have zero ammonia and nitrite at all times. You're also keeping your BGK much too warm; 25 C/77 F is the tops for these! They come from quite deep water around waterfalls and rapids, and do not like still water or high temperatures. In fact many, perhaps most, BGKs kept in community tanks die precisely because of this. The conditions they need are very different to those enjoyed by things like Angels and Gouramis that want warm, slow-moving water. Now, it's very hard to say precisely what's killing your BGK, but there are a few things to consider. The first is lack of water circulation and oxygen. Water turnover rate must be high, 8 times the volume of the tank per hour at minimum, and ideally more than that, perhaps 10 x. Next up, nitrate levels should be low, less than 20 mg/l, and ammonia and nitrite have to be zero. Water chemistry isn't critical but hard water should be avoided if possible. Certainly do not add salt on a routine basis. Copper and formalin are extremely toxic to BGKs, so do not ever use medications in the tank unless you are 100% sure copper and formalin are not in the medications. Also treat with deep suspicion any organic dyes (such as Malachite Green) and most salts (such as Potassium Permanganate).
If you must medicate, use either salt (fine on a short term basis) or antibiotics. Starvation is an extremely common problem with BGKs. Other poisons can include paint fumes in the air, cleaning sprays used in the room that got squirted into the tank by accident, and so on. BGKs prefer wet-frozen, fresh, and live foods. Some specimens take flake and pellets, but don't bank on it, and either away, don't assume your specimen is/was feeding without actually seeing it do so. As always with carnivores, offering a variety of foods is crucial, especially if you use mostly crustaceans (brine shrimp, daphnia, shrimp, prawn) as these tend to be high in Thiaminase that causes serious health problems in the long term. In order of likelihood, the most common reasons BGKs die are poor water quality, starvation, and poisoning. Cheers, Neale.>

I think my Black Ghost Knife Fish is sick   3/18/11
I have a four inch black ghost knife fish in a 55 gallon tank with four angel fish, he's been in there for four months. Two weeks ago, I added three German Blue Rams.
<Mmm, water conditions? Microgeophagus really need quite warm and soft water...>
After one of those died, I added 12 neon tetras to the tank a few days ago. It was to be expected that the black ghost, who used to come out every night to be handfed, stuck to his hiding cave 24/7 to keep away from the tetras.
<Mmm, no... the Angels and the Apteronotid will eat the Neons in time>
However, after another blue ram died (probably stress related, you know how rams can be), I noticed that I hadn't even seen him come out for two days, I had been feeding him his daily beef heart at the mouth of his cave every night.
So, I decided to coax him out of his cave to make sure he was doing all right. What I noticed immediately was the red dot on the very tip of his tail. It is not a blood red, but red nonetheless.
<Does happen w/ this, these (the family) species. Not necessarily indicative of a dire condition>
Three days ago, when he came out, he was fine and dandy. Now he's lethargic, extra shy, and apparently has some sort of disease or something.
I went into mild panic mode.
<A bad to dangerous state for an aquarist>
I took the only ram still alive out and put him in a twenty gallon tank with a male Betta, I was planning on doing that anyway so it wasn't a huge deal. I spent an hour catching the twelve tetras and putting them in an already fully stocked twenty gallon (just for the night, I plan on returning them tomorrow). Now the tank is back to the way it was for months, the ghost and the four angel fish.
I am hoping that this is all stress related from the extra fish, and that it will get better once he settles back into the daily routine. However, what can I do to help him. I was given several types of Ich medication from a friend, none of which I've ever used. I have Melafix, as well as aquarium salt.
<I would not use any of these... for reasons stated over and over on WWM>
I am willing to buy different medication as well. I do know, however, that black ghosts don't do well with medications or aquarium salt so I would prefer to not have to go that route.
Please help! It's way too easy to become obsessively attached to something that eats out of your fingers everyday, I would do just about anything for that fish.
Thank you!
<"Just" patience here... take your time; no medication. Bob Fenner>

update after my move. BGK, Aquarisol use   3/13/11
Hi again,
Sorry, another question came up after the move. Ok so I have moved and been here for a few weeks now. The "getting the tank set up didn't go exactly as planned. I had a new stand that I bought for the tank to start using AFTER the move as the tank was always on a huge desk. I didn't realize till the truck was loaded that the stand was one of the first things loaded onto the truck. So I had to wait for the entire truck to be off loaded. I know, I screwed that one up. I did a partial water change before emptying the tank. Then when I emptied the tank into buckets to hold the fish I saved about 10 to 12 gallons of water. By the time I set the tank up with the water and heater and then filled the rest of the tank with about 26 gallons of drinking water from the store.(So I had a total of about 38 gallons) at the new house. I waited as long as I thought I could but the temp was only up to about 70 in the tank if that. Went to bed fearing but crossing my fingers. Next morning I woke up the temp was at 78 degrees and all my fish were still alive. I was actually amazed. And happy. Fast forward about 3 weeks later. I noticed my black ghost scraping back and forth on a log his sides looking not like a growth but white like if you or I scratch our arm with our nails when scratching an itch. I tested the water with API liquid tester. Read the ammonia read .50 to 1(so I thought now that I look back on it). The nitrites were at 0 and the Nitrates about 20.I went to my LFS he said sounded like tank cycling got screwed up and to do a partial water change(he says normally he would say not to he)and he gave me Aquari sol,
<Mmm, no! This is (nowadays) a copper salt solution (in the olde days silver)... too toxic for your Knife>
and said to follow the directions but to half dose.
<Thank goodness>
I did the water change and the Aquari sol. Bought fresh API liquid ammonia and nitrate testers. So, now a day after the water change(because it is today that I actually bought the test kit)Ammonia reads 0 on the new ammonia tester and I re-tested along side with the old ammonia tester bottle. which also reads 0.And this now confuses me. Being A. Because I may have read the ammonia wrong the first time and it didn't actually have the cycle out of whack. B. The cycle WAS out of whack and it recouped that quick.(which seems weird cause wouldn't the nitrites then go up next?
<Yes; though could have quickly cycled, this part been precycled>
Nitrites are still at 0. and, after that partial water change the nitrates that were previously at 20 before the water change are now between 40 and 80 on the nitrate card, a day after the water change. Is that even possible?
<Is and is too high>
or C. Maybe my OLD nitrate tester is out of whack. Hmm I hope I didn't leave anything out on this.
Thanks again.
<Water changes and reading... on WWM re NO3. BobF>

Black Ghost Behaving Oddly... poisoned  - 2/9/11
Hi Guys.
<And gals Marcel>
Does anyone know why my Black Ghost is behaving like this? It's going around and around on broad daylight. Normally it stays hidden in the plants or under some rock and only comes out when it's dark. But now, it's going around in circles.
<Sounds like some sort of metal presence... either decor, perhaps the heater, maybe a thermometer or other ferrous metal in contact w/ the water. This, and/or some other toxin/irritant>
It seems to have a scratch or peeled coating on the side of its body.
It was recently hit by a bad case of the Ich. It has only been 4 days since he was cleared of white spots. I treated the white spot breakout with Mebendazole, Metronidazole, salt and heated water successfully. The Black Ghost was still healthy after the treatment and then I had a 50% water change and added half a dose of Angel Drops StressOut. And then it started acting like this.
<... Angel Drops? This line from the PI?: http://geocities.ws/angeldropstrading/
doesn't list ingredients. I would NOT use>
All the other fishes seems to be acting normally. It has been 2 days since the water change and Black Ghost acting this way. I just made another 50% water change today.
<I would add carbon>
Watch the video here: http://www.singleshutter.com/index61.htm
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Black Ghost Knife Problems  9/21/10
Dear Crew,
I have a BGK that is in serious trouble. I have had him for about a month now in a 40 gallon tank with a few other fish. The tanks water levels are great.
<Test values please>
For the last two weeks my BGK has been getting what looks like Protozoan Parasites. One day he is fine and the next just covered. I have been treating him with Quick Cure
<Yikes... very toxic... I would not expose this or other Knifefishes, scale-less fishes to formalin. Do please read on WWM re treatments. Very likely, if the other livestock can/will tolerate it, elevated temperature
alone will rid the system of parasitic Protozoans>
but its not getting rid of the problem. Now he is getting tired I'm guessing and has been "laying down" he is still eating and will get up and move around. I got home today and its the worst it has been, its chunky
white and grey stuff now. What do I do? Also none of the other fish are being affected by this and so I'm scared to keep treating the whole tank.
Please help fast, I don't want to lose him!
Thank you so much
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bgkdis.htm
and write back if you have questions, concerns. Bob Fenner>

Sick Black Ghost Knife?
Hello WWM Crew -
Before I start, thanks for taking the time to answer everyone's emails. I myself have received invaluable advice from your website many times.
That being said, I have a question. As my title suggests, I have a black ghost knife and I believe there is something wrong with him - although I am not sure what it is. The details are below:
- BGK is around 8 inches long
- In a 55 gallon tank, water param.s 0/0/ <20 (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) with a 5 inch black Arowana (yes, I know how big they can get), 7 inch sun cat, 6 inch kissing Gourami
<Troubles ahead here stocking-wise... psychologically and metabolically>
- Was doing absolutely fine until yesterday. Fed him 2 small earthworms (around 2-3 inches, no pesticides), waited a few hours and did a roughly 30% water change
- Came back later in the day to find him swimming around the tank with his face towards the top and tail towards the bottom
<Bad sign>
I didn't think much of it at first as BGK's are known for their erratic swimming (in fact, that's what I love about mine). However, this morning my BGK is still swimming in the same manner, his stomach still round / full. I have held off on treating with any medicine as, in my experience, this usually makes things worse, especially for scaleless fish.
<We are in agreement>
That being said, what should I do?
<If you have another system, that's up, established, I'd be moving the BGK to it>
I have no idea what's wrong unless the earthworms were the cause. I grow them myself in a 10 gallon tank so I doubt pesticides are the issue. Could he BGK just be constipated?
Thanks for all your help,
<I'd move this fish... not keep it with the Catfish, or Gourami. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Black Ghost Knife?  5/11/10

Hello again -
Quick update - the bgk appears to be fine now - swimming "normally" again. I guess he was just constipated?
In regards to your assertion that there would be issues with compatibility ahead - I plan to put the bgk and Gourami into a 125 gallon tank, with the sun cat and blue Arowana moved to a 300 gallon tank. Would that be alright?
I understand the potential issues between the bgk and the sun cat, but are there other issues that I should be aware of (beyond size that each can get)?
<Mmm, no>
<Welcome. BobF>

Ghost knife fish and White spot/Ich?? 4/20/10
Hello, iv a young GKF around 3-4inchs in length, I've noticed that it has lots of tiny White dots along it's body, I suspect White spot..
<Is certainly possible if you recently added some new fish to the system.>
so far the rest of my fish aren't displaying signs and appear healthy
<For now.>
and happy.
<So far.>
My tank us 80litres and I have 2 pearl Gourami's, 5 Endler's guppies, 2 Pygmy puffers and 2 bumblebee gobies, they have lived in harmony for many months with my previous GKF until he died several months ago.
<Black Ghosts can live 15 years, and should certainly live more than 10 years. This should be a warning sign. Do understand in no uncertain terms that your aquarium is a disaster waiting to happen. Puffers will nip the Guppies and Gouramis, the Gobies will eventually be Knifefish food, and the Knifefish will reach a length of up to 60 cm/2 feet given good conditions, though 45 cm/18 inches is more typical. Read.
Among other things, you must understand that Apteronotus albifrons, the Black Ghost Knifefish, lives in well-oxygenated, relatively cool streams and shallow rivers. It needs excellent water quality, lots of space, a strong water current (which your Guppies and Gouramis will loathe) and a water temperature no higher than 25 C/77 F. In your aquarium, these Knifefish have a life expectancy of months, not years.>
The shop I bought my new GKF had an outbreak of Whitespot allegedly weeks prior to me buying him, I'm afraid he has brought the disease with him.
<More than likely.>
The shop advised me to use Methylene blue due to it's copper property and safeness for the GKF?
<The salt/heat method would be safer here.
I used about 2/3rds of the dosage as I was afraid it would make him I'll, his fin now is beginning to look ragged.
<Finrot likely here; again, the salt can help here, but fundamentally, it's a water quality issue, because poor conditions are allowing secondary infections to get into the wounds the mature Ick parasites leave in the skin.>
Iv increased the temp slowly to 30 degrees to help finish off the Whitespot but I'm at a loss what to do next as I've now read the Methylene blue us ineffective??
<Far too toxic to use with these fish.><<Really Neale? Are you sure you're not confusing this w/ Malachite Green? RMF>>
Any advice what I should do to save my little GKF would be appreciated??
<Read, learn, act thoughtfully. Praying to the Fish Gods wouldn't be out of line either.>
Yours hopefully
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ghost knife fish and White spot/Ich??
Yes, you are correct, I was thinking of malachite green (or copper, or formalin, any one of which would be risky with Apteronotus spp.). So far as I know, Methylene blue has limited value against Whitespot/Ick anyway, so
shouldn't be used in this situation.
Cheers, Neale
"<Far too toxic to use with these fish.><<Really Neale? Are you sure you're not confusing this w/ Malachite Green? RMF>>
Any advice what I should do to save my little GKF would be appreciated??
<Read, learn, act thoughtfully. Praying to the Fish Gods wouldn't be out of line either.>
Yours hopefully
<Cheers, Neale.>"

Black ghost knife, possible tumor   2/26/10
Hello Neale, Bob, or whoever is receiving this, and thank you for the wonderful advice you've given me in the past.
<Happy to help.>
I have a 125 US gallon tank being filtered by two hang on the back type filters (I plan to add a canister filter in the near future-- I don't know for certain the gallons per hour of the hang on the back, but I know that it is "rated" for the tank size)
<These "ratings" are based on lightly stocked tanks where small fish like Neons are being kept. The larger the fish, the less reasonable the rating, and predatory fish in particular put an especially high ammonia loading on biological filters, while big herbivores can quickly overwhelm filters with the faeces and uneaten plant detritus they produce. This is why with big fish, experts recommend quite high turnover rates, 6, 8, or even 10 times the volume of the tank per hour. It's less about the actual water movement -- though that is helpful -- but more about having lots of filter capacity relative to the fish being kept.>
which is kept at 75-77 degrees, and has a pH of (approximately) 7.6.
Inhabiting it are six 3" Metynnis argenteus, a 7" Mastacembelus armatus, a 5" Trichogaster microlepis, two large Botia kubotai, a 3" Ctenopoma acutirostre, and a 6" Apteronotus albifrons.
<These are broadly compatible fish, though I will observe that Loaches, Characins, Spiny Eels and Knifefish all enjoy stronger water currents than either Climbing Perch or Gouramis.>
I plan to increase the flow of water for the black ghost knife using a water circulation pump sometime this year. The tank is cycled (has been up and running for around four years) and the inhabitants have been living in it for around a month and a half. Everyone has done exceptionally well, being fed wet frozen bloodworms and krill, a small amount of flake, algae tablets, and cooked vegetables once a week (the type varies, but usually peas or green beans).
Recently, I've noticed that the Black ghost has had a small tumor like lump on the side of his body, near the head.
<It's less likely a tumour and more likely physical damage. Look to see if the "tumour" is one of these three things: [1] Something like an ulcer, being a bloody or raw meaty-looking open wound; or [2] a surface growth that is pink or some other colour different to the fish's skin, but not open, sore or bloody; or [3] a swelling below the skin, so that the growth is the same colour as the skin because it's something pushing up from underneath the skin. Item 1 is usually physical damage and subsequent infection, and needs treatment as per Finrot. Item 2 is usually viral and a reaction to water quality or some other environmental issue (e.g., heavy metals) such as Fish Pox and Lymphocystis. Goes away in time, assuming proper conditions. No actual treatment possible or necessary. Item 3 is a real tumour or cyst, may be benign or otherwise, and there's nothing much to be done.>
It's behavior seems normal, readily eating bloodworms, and maneuvering from hiding place to hiding place, occasionally coming out and searching for food. Unfortunately, I can't take a picture of the tumor, as the ghost mostly spends it's time up against something, effectively blocking view of the tumor. Whether this is a parasite, genetic deformity, or some other ailment, I don't know. Any help in identifying it would be greatly appreciated.
<See above.>
Also of note, my area experienced a power outage yesterday (snow storm, not scheduled), starting at approximately 4 o'clock in the morning. The tank went about three hours without power until it could be hooked up to a generator, though as far as I know, the temperature didn't drop below 72 degrees.
<Unlikely to be the issue here, unless physical damage caused by jumping into the hood or something when the lights came on/went off.>
Thank you, Jack. P.S.-- Neale, superb article on Rainbow fish in the March issue of aquarium fish monthly!
<Oh, that's nice to hear. Thanks for saying so. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife, possible tumor
Thank you for your quick reply and advice regarding my black ghost knife.
After reading your response, I think it may be one of the two things you mentioned; Either a) damage inflicted by one of the loaches competing for his hiding spot (Those eye spikes can be nasty... I know that first hand),
or b) caused by poor water quality, as you said. Or possibly both.
I'm thinking of treating the tank for Finrot with Maracyn plus, though I'm worried it might negatively effect the knife and tire track eel-- Should I try a half dose?
<Antibiotics should be safe at full dose. It's the copper and formalin based medications that cause problems.>
Also, I'm adding an Eshopps 1000 gallon per hour wet/dry filter coupled with a 1017 gallon per hour return pump (Enough flow for the ghost?).
<Should be. Aim for a turnover at least 6 times, ideally 8-10 times, the volume of the tank.>
I've never used wet-dry filters before, and assume the pump and filter is all I need to run it?
<Do read here:
and linked articles. Bob F. is more of an expert on these than me. The ones I used were built into the tanks already.>
I'm doubling water changes, going from 40% once a week to 40% twice a week.
Hopefully, this should be enough to cure my black ghost knife.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bloated black ghost knife fish �� 02/02/10
I'm wondering if you can help me as I can't find an answer anywhere. We have a Black Ghost Knife Fish who is about 4 years old now and is a rather big boy. We have noticed his belly has really bloated up. I have been told
it could be constipation or over feeding.
<Possibly; switch to just high-fibre foods. While cooked peas aren't likely to be eaten, live brine shrimp and live daphnia are almost as good, and more readily accepted by carnivorous fish. Live earthworms with a gut full of mud should be very good too, but collect from somewhere safe, i.e., not sprayed with pesticides.>
Is this a common problem with these fish, he has never been like this before.
<The problem with Apteronotus albifrons is most people don't keep them alive for very long. They are extremely demanding fish, and while juveniles can do just fine in a community tank, as they mature, their demands become
more difficult to meet. Remember that these fish come from shallow, fast-flowing water, so they're used to high oxygen levels and spotlessly clean conditions. Water flow rates should be very high, upwards of 8 times the volume of the tank per hour, and adding additional airstones or powerheads to provide additional water flow near the bottom of the tank wouldn't be a bad idea at all. By contrast, the average 55 gallon tank with some cheap-and-cheerful hang-on-the-back filter just isn't going to cut it.
Hence, these fish often do live a year or two in captivity, but rarely the full 15 years, and only very occasionally do you see truly mature fish up to 50 cm long.>
He also seems to be gasping for air a little but I'm guessing that's the pressure on his little lungs. What can I do to help him. ?
<If he's gasping for air, that's a very good indication water quality *at the bottom* of the tank is poor. Review water current. Add some flake to the bottom of the tank; if it just sits there, you have a problem. Think of water flowing through some rapids: that's what you're after!>
I have just done a 50% water change encase it's the water quality but I have many other fish including Clown Loaches and they are all fine. I also got told it could be Tuberculosis but ????
<Very, very unlikely to "Fish TB", or one of the other Mycobacteria infections. Water quality issues, too much heat (should be around 22-24 C), and of course poisoning (e.g., the use of copper-based medications) are all much more probable. I'd also review diet, since carnivorous fish can suffer malnutrition rather easily. Variety is central, and avoiding risky live foods critically important. Cheers, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knife Fish; Sticky Situation   01/18/09
We recently got a BGK and he was doing really well in our tank with our other tropical fish (30 gal with 3 guppies, two tetras, 2 loaches, electric blue German Ram Cichlid, 2 glass fish, 2 Danios, and two mollies [too much?
we calculated that even at there biggest size we have about 29.5 inches, but they are all babies right now.])
<The Black Ghost Knifefish certainly needs a much bigger tank; 210 litres/55 gallons being the minimum. It's not so much size but sensitivity:
these are fish from shallow, fast-flowing water around rapids, and simply can't deal with the stagnant, oxygen-poor, pond-like conditions in a small tank. Most Black Ghost Knifefish die a few months after purchase for precisely this reason. The "inch per gallon" idea is also hopelessly misleading. Think about it for a few seconds. Twelve Neon tetras and one adult Oscar have the same length in inches, around 18 inches. But do you think they would both be happy in an 18 gallon tank? Of course not; an Oscar wouldn't even FIT in an 18 gallon tank!!! So, you have to use those "little grey cells" a bit and look at the big picture. Sure, the inch-per-gallon rule is okay for very small things like Neons or Guppies, but the bigger the fish, the less it works. And once you have fish with special needs (like your Knifefish) or territorial demands (like the Ram Cichlid) then the whole thing goes out the window.>
But yesterday he got stuck to the side of the filter and he keeps doing it, and now he is swimming funny. Maybe he is fine, but I get paranoid because he is my favorite fish in there.
<Likely, very NOT fine.>
Also one of our Danios started attacking the other fish and one of our guppies killed another.
<Keep Danios in groups of 6+. In smaller groups -- as I've said for the second or third time today -- schooling fish often become aggressive. Every aquarium book ever written tells you this, so please, look up the demands of each species you want FIRST, and then BUY the fish ONLY if you can house the appropriate numbers and in the right sized tank.>
(we took the killer fish back to the store) but could that be a sign of them being sick, because it is not very common for guppies and Danios to attack anything.
<It's usually a sign the fishkeeper has made a mistake. Trust me on this:
there are very few Psycho fish out there! But there are many more fishkeepers who ignore what's known about a fish, and hope that randomly adding one or two of everything in the shop will work out. It usually doesn't. Danios can be aggressive in small groups, and by *adding* more, not *removing* one, you're more likely to fix the problem.>
We had a fungus on our molly but when to the store and got tables for it and none of the other fish have gotten it.
<Mollies are best kept in brackish water. They certainly need hard, basic water (pH 7.5-8, 15+ degrees dH).
While some aquarists keep them in freshwater successfully, most aquarists (especially non-experts) will find them easier to keep in slightly brackish water, with around 6-9 grammes of marine salt mix added per litre. While this won't harm your Guppies, your other fish WILL be stressed by this. As is (again) stated in most aquarium books, Mollies are not suitable for the average community tank.>
Our Ph is a little off today but it's 6.9,
<Too acidic for Guppies/Mollies.>
our ammonia is 0.0, and our temperature is usually 80, we are going to the store to get a nitrate test today. We have about 8 large plants and two small plants as well. But we try to keep our fish as happy as possible and have many hiding places for our bkg. We feed him (at night) blood worms, brine shrimp and once in a while he will eat flakes. He is just not swimming like usual, and he just kind of floating. Why do you think that is?
<Bad water quality, insufficient oxygen. Intolerant of copper and formalin, so if you use such medications, you'll poison it. A demanding species for expert fishkeepers. Most casual fishkeepers end up killing them within weeks/months. Hope this helps, Neale.>

black ghost knife fish... mis-stocked, Ich... no reading  7/13/09
Hello! I have a 30 gallon tank, and some fish
including a BGK. The BGK has been in the tank for one month, and happy until last night. I realized that his entire tail is gone, and he also has white spots on him.
I looked it up and found that the white is the Ich disease. About a week ago I added two tiger barbs
<Nippy, and a social species... needs to be kept in larger, odd-number groupings... You haven't read...>
in the tank and I believe they ate his tail right off. Will his tail be ok?
<Likely not>
I have an orange Plec, a flying fox, and a leopard cat fish which the BGK gets along with well. I also have an albino tiger barb, and a "regular" tiger barb. Like I said before I think the barbs ate the BGK tail. Should I get rid of the tiger barbs?
<These fishes should be housed separately>
If in fact I do rid the tank of the barbs, can I put a clown loach in the tank to replace the tiger barbs?
<... see WWM re>
When I found the Ich on the BGK, I decided to treat the tank.
<With? Many stock medications for FW Ich are toxic to Knifefishes et al.>
Currently I am only giving treatments with half the dosage because of the catfish.
<And the knife... I would have simply elevated the temperature... Again, you haven't read...>
I have read two different instructions on treating the tank with Ich, and I am not sure how I need to treat the tank. Should I treat the tank everyday for 14 days, or every 48 hours for one week?
Thank you for you time!
Erin Eyler
<Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

BGK treatment, "fin rot"   6/9/09
I have a BGK I have had about 18-20 months. He is currently 11inches long and about 1.5 tall. He has rot forming
<Due to?>
and I researched and found to treat him with Nitrofurazone. I can not find out though whether I have to isolate him or if I can add it to the entire community.
<Is this the only fish thus affected? I would only treat it if so... in a prepared, stable treatment system separately>
Is this a good medication to use, or do you guys recommend something else.
I have a few guppies, gourmais, Corys, and a couple Danios in the tank with him. Will it hurt to add it to the tank.
<It might interrupt nitrification...>
I can not find anywhere that's says not to. I have also increased the temp of the water to 83 degrees to kill anything else that may be affecting him as I know diseases come in duets, and so on. Any help you can give me would be gladly appreciated.
Patiently Waiting,
<... Again, what do you consider is/are the net causes of this "rot"...?
You need to discern and fix this/these... NOT treat for symptoms. Bob Fenner>

Black Knife Ghost Fish, hlth., need data  5/8/2009
Hello crew, I writing to you about my BKGF.
<Apteronotus albifrons, an interesting but delicate species from shallow, fast-flowing habitats. It's crucially important this species is kept in a big (55+ gallons) tank with a very strong filtration system rated at 8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So for a 55 gallon tank, the filter (preferably an external canister filter) would need to be rated at 440 gallons/hour. Almost all failures with this species come down to [a] keeping them in too small an aquarium; and [b] not providing adequate filtration. Water chemistry isn't critical, but ideally should be soft to moderately hard, pH 6-7.5. Water temperature should be middling, around 25 C.>
I got him about a week ago and seemed fine until 2 days ago.
He now seems to struggle swimming and kind of looks like the end of his tail or back is broken. His lower fin wont move like it usually now he looks like he really struggles to move around and sometimes he just lays down at
the bottom of the tank. Is this some sort of illness, or could it be that he got into a fight with the other fish and broke its back?
<Need some information on the size of the tank, the filter used, the water quality, and the companion fish in this system.>
Please I need some advised, I don't want to loose this fish.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knife  9/15/08
Good Evening,
I have a black ghost knife that has been in the same 30 gallon tank for 10 years, he was a baby when we got him. He has always been quite happy and not aggressive. Today I noticed he is at the top of the tank and has a bloated underbelly. He is upside down and laying on top of the underground filter, but he is still alive. Can you tell me what this is and if there is anything we can do for him?
Thank you,
<Hello Karla. Since you've maintained this fish a fair while, I'm loathe to be too critical, though I will make the point that 30 gallons isn't much space by the standards of this species. So your first job would be to test the water chemistry and quality. In particular I'd be looking for signs that the filter is now overloaded by the growth of the fish (i.e., you detect nitrite). I'd also check to see if the pH is still where it should be; overstocked tanks tend to show much faster drops in pH caused by the various acidification processes. I'd do a 50% water change at once -- taking care that water chemistry and temperature of the new water aren't much different to the old water. I'd also review any possible sources of poisoning: food past its sell-by day, use of paint in the house, bug sprays, etc. A photo would help us to gauge the overall condition of the fish, but because Apteronotus are notoriously sensitive to water quality, that's what I'd examine first. If he peps up after a 50% water change, maybe doing more water changes for the next day or two, I'd wager that water quality or water chemistry stability are the issues and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

BGK Problem... FW over and mis-stocking issues, no reading -08/25/08 We have a 55 gallon freshwater tank that has been set up for about three months. We have 3 discus, 4 swordtails, <Mmmm, "like" very different water conditions...> 4 clown loaches, 1 Pleco, 6 balloon belly tetras, 6 t-bone tetras, 1 elephant nose and 1 black ghost knife. <Not generally a good idea to mix weakly electrogenic fish species> The BGK and elephant nose were purchased together and were the first fish introduced. The BGK was about 3" when purchased and he is about 5" now. We added the other fish gradually. We do a 25% water change weekly. We are figuring out the feeding thing, and know we've been feeding too much, because of the water levels. Before we did the water change yesterday the levels were: PH 6.8, Ammonia 0.10, Nitrite 0.10, <These are toxic...> Nitrate .40. <Likely you've misplaced the decimal... forty ppm... is way too much> Last week when we took our water sample to the fish store, we were told the water levels were fine, except the ammonia was a little high. <Any ammonia is reason for immediate action. Debilitating to deadly poisonous> That, also, was before the water change. All of the fish have been doing well, except for swordtails, which were dying, one each day, for no apparent reason. <... do some reading... the "reason" is obvious.> It looked as though they were being picked on by other fish, because their fins looked very ragged. 8 have died. 4 remain, so we are done with swordtails for now (replaced them with the clown loaches). The BGK was doing fine until a few days ago, when I noticed that the white stripe on his head was pink. The next day it seemed even pinker, but he was still eating aggressively and chasing other fish if they came too close to his "house". Today I noticed that he has a worm-like thing hanging from his chin/throat underneath. It looks like a Tubifex worm. He isn't eating much, and is pretty much staying in his house when we feed them. However, his pink stripe is lighter, looks like it is turning back to normal color. We give the fish live Tubifex worms, frozen brine shrimp and frozen blood worms. Pretty much worms every day and alternate with the shrimp and blood worms. We sometimes give them flake food. Can you help diagnose the BGK or tell me how to help him? Thanks so much... Jere <All you need to know is archived on the WWM site... Your system is dangerously over-stocked... Start reading on WWM re Nitrogenous issues: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm the third tray down... Acting on this knowledge should save most of your livestock... Then read re each species/groups needs ("Systems")... Then we'll chat. Bob Fenner>

Re: BGK Problem  8/26/08 I guess you can tell I'm a novice, huh? After the water change, the ammonia was down to zero. <Ah, good> Today the BGK looks back to almost normal. The white stripe is a little off-color, but that weird worm-thing is gone and he has resumed eating. We haven't had any fishy deaths for almost two weeks, and the only ones that died were swordtails. <Mmm, you really need a much larger system... actually two...> I really appreciate your answer, and I plan to keep reading your Web site. I have been all over the Internet searching sites on aquariums and fish. I found so much conflicting information, that I was at my wits end. Then I found your site, which seemed much more consistent and extremely informative. I will continue my research in your archives. >Very good< The fish store where we bought the fish will buy back fish as long as they are healthy. We sold them four beautiful silver dollar fish when we bought the discus, because they told us the two didn't mix. The discus are still small, so we'll probably sell back more of our fish as they grow. I am in love with this hobby and my fish. I don't want to kill any more fish! Thanks again for your answer. I'm impressed with your expertise. <And I with your apparent even-mindedness. Cheers, BobF>

Black ghost... hlth, sys., gen.   -07/18/08 Hello. <Hello,> I found your cool site accidentally and have learned a lot from reading on it mainly about Black Ghosts (great job keep it up). I have gotten into the hobby on an unfortunate account that my dad had gotten cancer and I was taking care of his fish 2 tanks until he passed away. <Sorry to hear that.> Because of getting back to a regular work schedule I was not able to get there regularly anymore to help my step mom take care of the tank, so she asked if I wanted it. I took it to my place using same water transported in buckets did partial water change and so on when I got it to my place. I guess the move was too much for them and the fish got Ich and died off after several weeks. ANYWAY, after letting the take "I hope" get healthy so to speak.. as per advice of my LFS put some food in it with no fish said it would keep cycle somewhat going. <You can indeed cycle a tank by adding a pinch of flake, though you need to also do water changes, and also keep adding portions of food every 2-3 days. As the food rots, it produces ammonia, and that kick-starts the cycle. It will still take the usual 4-6 weeks to fully cycle, and you need to be measuring the nitrite level to see when the cycle is finished. If you just add one pinch of food and leave it at that, then all that happens is that one portion of food decays, the ammonia goes up, goes down, and then nothing much happens. You MUST keep adding food so that the bacteria have a constant source of ammonia. Essentially you're keeping fish, without the fish!> I turned up the heat to in 90's for couple weeks to hopefully kill off any Ich that might of still been in there. Finally getting to the BGK they are such a great fish. <Yes they are, but also extremely difficult to maintain. Being very sensitive to water quality, under no circumstances would you put one in a tank less than 3 months old. You want the filter to not only cycle, but also "settle down". The problem is that a new aquarium goes through a period where the filter sometimes misbehaves, and you get small nitrite or ammonia spikes. Exposing Apteronotus albifrons to this phase would be a disaster. There's also a period where the fishkeeper needs to get the hang of cleaning the filter without harming the bacteria, and also doing things like siphoning out detritus from the substrate, learning how much food to use, and performing water changes.> He seems to go against a lot of things I was reading about them. and I guess its on a fish to fish basis.. he is almost always out even with the light on (as matter of fact I am watching him swim around tank now and the light is on, he started eating out of my hand after at first time trying one week after I got him, he eats flakes when I put them in tank for my Kribensis. and he eats frozen bloodworms that I put in tank at lights out. <All quite normal for well-adjusted, happy animal.> This brings me to a question. I noticed today that the bottom fin has a couple splits in it What are the usual causes of this? <Not "usual" but may be either rough handling (netting, transport); biting (by other fish); scratching (check for sharp ornaments or gravel); or early stages of Finrot (check ammonia/nitrite ASAP). You mention Kribensis, and all Pelvicachromis spp. are territorial and quite prone to biting even substantially larger fish. I have a small female Pelvicachromis taeniatus that quite happily charges and chases pufferfish. So while basically good community fish, their feistiness is out of all proportion to their size, as is often the case with that family we call the Cichlidae.> There doesn't seem to be any discoloration he seems to be aggressive towards my Kribensis that I just put in about 4 days ago though that has become less frequent. Kribensis doesn't seem to like to be around him and swims away when BGK swims near him, so I don't know if Kribensis got brave and did something when lights were out, but as I watch him he still constantly swims away from BGK. <They are competing for the same resources, namely caves, and will view each other as potential rivals. It is absolutely normal for Pelvicachromis to be utterly peaceful towards midwater fish but total terrors with regard to bottom living species. Does obviously depend on the size of the tank; Apteronotus albifrons will need a big aquarium, something upwards of 220 litres/60 gallons. Anything less and you WILL be asking for trouble. They are fish of fast-flowing rivers, so also need a very strong water current to burn off all their energy. I'd be looking at canister filters providing not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Forget about using anything hang-on-the-back or air-powered!> So was wondering if you had any thoughts on what might cause the splitting of the fin and what I should do so it doesn't get worse. Thank you MUCH... and again thanks for this great site. <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knifefish with gill condition.  3/6/08 Dear WWM crew, My name is Rachael, and I've kept a Black Ghost Knife, along with a few other fishes, for about three to four months now, all of which co-exist peacefully, and over time the Ghost Knife, alone, has appeared to be developing a bizarre gill condition. I can't include a picture, but the best way to describe it would be it's as though the gills have been receding, almost shrinking up the head, exposing a great deal of the red tissues beneath. He also has a small white spot on his bottom side, between the gills. <Mmmm> I've quarantined him for a few weeks now to protect the rest of my stock in case the condition is contagious, but he is still growing quickly - six inches so far - and so cannot stay in his small tank for long. He is still eating fine with a good appetite, <What sort/s of foods?> and his behavior seems normal. I worry, however, when and if his condition may clear, as it appeared for some time in the original tank until I finally decided to quarantine him and still hasn't improved. Please, any help, knowledge or advice would be graciously accepted and dearly appreciated, and thank you for your time and attention. ~Rachael <Something is amiss here... Perhaps a genetic anomaly (where the gill covers/opercula, don't grow as quickly as the rest of the fish)... Need to know what your other livestock consists of (gives clues as to your water, system make-up), water quality tests, maintenance routines... something is causing the gills to be deformed... Needs to be addressed. Bob Fenner>

Black Ghost Knife Fish with dangling appendage from throat area.  12/18/07 Hello Crew, I have written to you before and you guys were great help so am going to try this again with a new question. I have a 3-4" BGK in a 29 gallon tank with a few Cory's. I have had him since he was not much more than an inch long about 3 months ago. <Wow! Have never seen an Apteronotid sold this small> Right after I got him I noticed a small whitish-grayish worm like appendage hanging from his throat area/ It went away the next day and wasn't much longer than about a half of centimeter. I just saw it again tonight and it was about 3/4 of an inch long. It wasn't there before I turned the tank light off but after I did and he started cruising around the tank is when it came out. I shined a flashlight on him to see what it was and since he feeds out of my hand I tried to get him into my hand to get a closer look. As soon as I got near him it retracted back into his throat and all I could see was a small thin white line that almost looked natural. I'm worried that it might be something healthy. I did some research on your site and saw that it could be a goiter or some kind of thyroid problem. If it was one of those two things though how could it retract inside his neck? <Mmm, I suspect this is something else... an actual part of the fish itself> I was thinking about trying to get him in my hand when its out and pull it off but I will wait for advice from you before I continue. I feed the tank every other day with a cube of frozen Mysis and a cube of chopped up krill. I thaw the cubes and mix it with some live black worms. All the fish love it including him. My water quality is perfect and I test it weekly along with weekly water changes. Please help me. I really would hate for him to be unhealthy. Also one more thing, He has an arch in the middle of his back which am guessing is unnatural because all the ones I have seen online and the fish store are straight. <This is so> I'm wondering if this is caused by the thing in his neck. Thank you in advance for your much appreciated help. <Perhaps the arch is resultant from an injury in collection, shipping. I would do nothing re either of these. Bob Fenner>

Sick Black Ghost Knife  �� 08/01/07 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> First I'd like to thank you for having so much helpful information on your website. <You're welcome!> Now, I have had my BGK about 2 weeks now and I believe he's quite sick. His body is covered in a white film [which at first I thought was due to the sand I have] but it's been getting worse lately and just a moment ago, I noticed the white area on his tail is turning red. I read some information on your website, which advised me to do a water change, and increase the temperature. So I did a 25% change, and got the temperature to about 80. The white film cleared up almost immediately. [I believe this was due to the nitrite being very high prior to the water change]. Now today, the white film appeared even worse. I did another water change, around 35% this time, and added some nitrite and nitrate removing chemical. I do not know what to do, and I really don't want to lose him any time soon. I'm hoping you can help, and thanks so much in advance. <If your tank is showing nitrates, then it isn't cycled properly. It is difficult to help without knowing more about your tank. Ammonia & nitrites should be 0 at all times. Nitrates need to be kept below 20. The only way to reduce nitrates is with water changes. The fact that the fish looked better after a water change, tells me that this is a water quality issue. It would also help me to know, how long the tank has been set up, was it cycled properly before you added the fish, how large is the tank/fish & what tank mates are in there with it? Please let me know all this & write back. In the meantime, do another 50% water change, add Melafix & 1 tbsp aquarium salt/10g. ~PP>

Freshwater Question... Knife disease How long does it take for Ich to kill fish? <Sometimes mere hours from the appearance of "spots", other times "never", the infestation existing as recycling generations...> I have a BG Knifefish and I thought it Had Gotten Ich a couple of months after I got it. It has been 4 months that I see Some symptoms( green-like flour on him, yellow head stripe). When I got him his stripe was white I have raised the temp to 84, did many water changes and used medication at half strength. All water parameters are fine and the only other thing is that he is not that active from when I had him for the first 2 months( he is in a 30 gallon tank, about 5.5" long). His tank mates are a 3" Blue Gourami and a 4" Pictus cat( The cat showed symptoms but when I raised the temp. they disappeared). <They are VERY susceptible> I am Planning to move the 3 of them to a 55 gallon in the future (when should I get the 55 to move him into)? <Whenever you can afford it> What could this be ( Can you give me all the info you can)? <Perhaps "nothing" in the way of a biological disease... maybe another type of (internal) infestation... could be largely "untreatable"... If you have treated the system as you describe, I doubt if this is/was "Ich"> Do BGK eat fish like angels, rams, Butterfly fish? Finally my friend wants to know, How many rams can you put in a 29 gallon tank? <This Knifefish does not consume any but the smallest of fishes... A twenty nine can house two pair of Microgeophagus. Bob Fenner> Jahner

Freshwater fish electro-sense question I recently bought an elephant fish. today my girlfriend surprised me with a black ghost knife. They are both about 3in and are in a 34 gallon tank with separate very good hiding spots. Will there 'electro-senses' clash? <There have been some studies on these electromagnetic fields generated by these fish but not much in the popular aquarium literature. But I am sure that they are aware of each other.> also how sensitive are they to salt? <These fish come from clean warm acidic water and have become very sensitive to salt.-Chuck> I use a little less then the recommended dose of aquarium salt(1tbsp per 5 gallon). tank also includes 6 glass cats and a blue lobster. thanks for your time. -Zac

Black ghost knife with Ich Hi I have a Black ghost knife fish who is a new addition to my tank - though I have owned them in the past and have learned the * hard way* that these fish need a lot of individual care. <And don't "like" Ich medications> through research and experience, there has been a great learning curve for me -  My tank is 29 gal with only 5 other fish who have been stable and healthy ( 2 are Discus and healthy). <This tank is way too small for even just the Knife... or one Discus> 2 days ago, I bought a 4 inch BGKF who has a great personality but the aquarium shop I got him is only 75% reliable  - has a fair number of unhealthy fish)- my tank has been quite healthy and I do 30% H2O changes every 2 wks w/ gravel vac. <I take it you did not quarantine this new addition>   Today, my BGK started to show a number of Ich spots - I killed my last BGK with Rx in the main tank for another sick fish - <Very common> (ironically - the 1st discus I got had a good case of hole in head!) I bought this fish because I loved the personality of this fish... - I need to *save him* - what should I do? all readings on my tank are normal ; ph is 7.8, Soft H2O, lots of hiding places sterilizer always running. Peggy <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the Related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top) and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/knifefishfaqs.htm I would use half doses of AquariSol, elevate temperature to the mid-80's F... And get a larger system for this life ASAPractical. Bob Fenner>

Parasitized Knife? Questions about life have a Black Ghost Knifefish (4.5") that I suspect has Ich or velvet because I see a light (dull white) flour-like  on one part of his body. He also has it under his gill area, his head stripe is also yellow? <Do come this way> Is this Ich or Velvet? <Could be either or neither> His tank-mates are an angel and a Gourami at the moment. How long does it take them to grow to their final height? <Years> How long should I wait to upgrade from a 29 to a 55 gallon tank. <As soon as practical> I also have a  common silver angel that's tail fin is torn, I suspect a newly added Blue Gourami did it, will he be fine or is medication needed? <Not needed> I'm curious, how long do fish live without water? <Some species for hours... others for minutes> Also my Birthday is coming up (12/25 how exciting for me) <Yes, happy birthday!> and I am trying to persuade my parents to buy me a 65 gallon tank to start my first saltwater tank. Do you know any words that can help me convince them, because I love fish and I always wanted my own saltwater tank? <Perhaps tie the request with a wish of their own. Pledging yourself to study diligently maybe> I mean this is my only hobby and I also want to become a Marine biologist (will be taking a marine biology class in my senior year of high school which is in 2 years) Can you help me with everything listed above? Thank You and Happy Holidays Sincerely, John Queens, New York <Mmm, do make the effort to look into volunteer work at Public and private aquariums... perhaps even working a bit for a local fish store. Bob Fenner>

And the Crystal Ball Says.... I have a 29 Gallon freshwater tank and I think my Black ghost Knifefish has either Ich or velvet. I'm not really sure if it is sick, but I bought medicine anyway. I don't have a Quarantine and I can't afford one. What should I do? I know I shouldn't but should I add the medicine In the tank he is in, because one or two of my other fish don't look good either? I want to  save my fish, especially my Black Ghost Knifefish, can you help me? Jahner <Will try, but we need more info. For now do large daily water changes. Use a gravel vac. Do not add the meds until we find out what's wrong. Why do you think he is sick? Is he showing spots? Do you test the water? If so, what are the readings? How often do you change water? What % do you change? Type of filter? How long has it been set up? Add any new fish lately. How about feeder fish? The more you tell us the better we can help. We know nothing at this point except you think he has Ick or Velvet. Sorry, we need more. Don>  

....Black Ghost, White Spots Well I do regular water changes (once very 2 weeks). I just did a 100% water change He is showing something like he is a little spot of flour. The head stripe is yellow and it is white under the gill area. I tested the what everything is normal Ph is 7.6. Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite is 0. I have had the tank since may and my ghost for 4 months. I added a fish 2 weeks ago. I have a bad filter (don't laugh) aqua-tech( any filter is better than none), and what do you mean by feeder fish? <Check closely for other white spots . The new fish may have introduced a disease called Ich that may be somewhat tricky to treat on Black Ghost knife fish. You filter should turn the water volume of the tank times three every hour, with five times per hour being better. Feeder fish are small inexpensive fish used to feed large fish eating fish,-Chuck> Jahner

Ghost Knife with red spot on tail Hello again, I contacted you earlier with an Ich problem with my BGK (see below). He's been recovering beautifully thanks to your help and I've been lowering the tank temp down to 81 from the 86 it was at. However, for some reason, within the last 24 hours he has developed a red spot, like a blood spot on the white portion of his tail. It's not very large and doesn't span the width of his tail, only a small portion, but enough to notice clearly. I'd attach a picture but I'm unable to get a decent enough shot. His appetite is off a little also. He's eating the brine shrimp but not as voraciously as usual. Water is still testing same as listed below. Could he have hurt himself. <Yes. This is the most likely explanation> He has no tank mates at all and only items in tank are a large piece of wood and a ghost house (which he loves). He also spends a lot of time by the surface and seems to enjoy running up and down one of the powerhead tubes in the corner. <All normal behavior> I installed a bubble wall to increase oxygenation since we were upping the temp so much and have left it going full on even with the tank temp lower. <Good> Could that have anything to do with this? <Not likely> I'm also still treating with half doses of the Aquarisol but only every other day now.  Any suggestions? Thanks so very, very much!  Jennifer <Just to keep on doing what you're doing... all will likely be well. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ghost Knife with red spot on tail UPDATE - TAIL ROT I have an update to this last note - the red spot must have been the onset to tail rot. I'm completely at a loss on this one. We just got him over Ich and now this - I don't understand. The water levels are very good... pH 7.6 - ammonia was at 0 - Nitrates were very low - water hardness is 60. About 1/8th of his tail has disappeared since yesterday. I did a 30% water change, added 2 tbsp of salt, Pimafix and increasing the temp again. This tail rot problem didn't rear it's ugly head until the temp had gotten back down to 81. His appetite was good tonight - he loves bloodworms. Can I use an antibiotic like Maracyn or tetracycline with a BGK? What else can I do for him? Thank you! <You can use an antibiotic... I would go with the Maracyn/Erythromycin... is mixable with all else you're doing... and I would re-elevate the water temperature till this problem is gone. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ghost Knife with red spot on tail, now white "worm" hanging from gill Good Afternoon Crew, Sorry to inundate you with issues with this one BGK but things just keep going wrong. After curing him from Ich, he got tail rot, that seems to be under control now as it doesn't seem to be deteriorating any more. I've started him on the Maracyn-two tablets as of 36 hours ago per your instructions. However, this morning I came down to check him and he has this long white wormy looking thing hanging out from his left gill. (Pls see attached pic) What on earth am I doing to this poor animal? I've rechecked the water and Ammonia is 0, PH is 7.6, Nitrates are less than .25. And I had the water checked at the local fish store to verify my results and they also concluded that my water tests fine. He's the only fish in this 55 gal tank. His appetite is a little off. He used to love brine shrimp but last night he'd suck them in and spit them back out. Then I added some blood worms because I wanted to make sure he was eating and he ate those although less than usual. I've researched gill disease etc and can't find anything that denotes a while long wormy thing coming out through the gills. Any ideas as to what it could be? I'll continue on the Maracyn for the duration, but is there anything else I should be doing to the tank to "Cleanse" it so to speak of anything else I could be harboring?  Thank you so very much for all your help. < Your poor Black Ghost Knife also has gill flukes. He should be treated with Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck>

BGK Question I have a Black Ghost Knifefish (4-5") for almost 6 Months now. I have noticed that his Black Body looks like it is now covered in a off-black to grey slime or flour-like coating. I think it's Ich and I know that Ich is hard to treat on these fish. <Yes> I raised the temp. to the mid- 80's like your site suggested. <Good> His tankmates are a Pictus Cat (3-4") and a Blue Gourami (2-4"). The cat showed dome cysts, but after the temp increase they disappeared. I can't afford a quarantine and he is in a 29 gallon, which is to be upgraded to a 55 as soon as space in my house becomes available and I can get more money. I have bought Rid-Ich+ just in case it can be used. Should I use the medication? <Yes... at half strength... removing any carbon, chemical filtrants... keeping close watch on all, being ready to change water...> What else can I do? I love and have become attached to this fish and I don't want to lose him. Can you help me, I want to save him, raise him up and have him for a while? Thank You, John <Read re: this disease, these fishes... treat carefully and all should be well. Bob Fenner> 

Ghost Knife sick - please help Good Morning - I came across your FAQ on the Knife fish and was very appreciative. I read through much of what you had and it was helpful but not sure if what my fish has is Ich or not so not sure to use the info your site kindly provided. Hoping you can help as I really love my fish and am very worried. Here's the stats... 55 Gal tank - PH is 7.8. <A bit high for the fishes listed...> Tank established for 8 months. Put in feeder goldfish about 3 weeks ago to feed Arowana and two weeks later my fish are dying. <Not... an uncommon problem... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm  this practice, feeding feeders, is a HUGE source of aquarium livestock mortality> Have removed feeder fishes from tank altogether.  <Too late> Water tested by local shop and hubby and both said it tested very good just pH a little high.  Just lost my Yo Yo Loach and Arowana with no visible signs of sickness.  Yesterday morning I checked my tank to see my Black Ghost Knife with white spots all over - but not like I've seen Ich before - like little salt sprinkles. These white spots appear to be more flat looking and more grouped. Please see attached picture. <Does look like Ich... though could be another parasite... most all are treated similarly> He is eating and acting normally.  Was told to do following treatment but have seen no change as of yet; raise water temp to 82 degrees, use AquariSol 12 drops per 10 gal, add sea salt 1 teaspoon per 10 gal and remove charcoal from filter and use PimaFix 1 tsp per 10 gal. I'm worried that I'm overmedicating. <Might be... as Knifefishes are intolerant of the poisons that are used to treat such infestations... I would raise the temperature to mid eighties F., not use the PimaFix (it's of no use), and use half doses of the AquariSol (a copper sulfate solution)> Should I be doing water changes?  <Yes> Will that amount of salt hurt my BGK? <No, should help more than hurt> I'm worried he's not tolerant enough for it. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.  Thanks so much!  Jennifer Welker <Have you read the article and FAQs on Ich on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm  The FAQs are linked (above, in blue)... Bob Fenner> 

Black Ghost Knife Fish Fins Woes Hello. <Hello! Ryan with you today> I need some answers badly. One of my 2 Black Ghost Knife fish's anal fins splits... it is like they are not joined as a single whole piece anymore. It became 1 part by 1 part.... the end will run perpendicular from the body and all the way to the edge of the fins. Something like strands of hair, but thicker.. about 2mm width. It is something bad? Why is it happening to my fish? How can I solve that problem? Please help. Thanks <OK, here goes.  There are a few things that could be causing this.  Is there any necrotic tissue around the fraying?  Is the edge of the tear whitish?  If so, we're almost certainly dealing with necrotic ulceration of the fins, commonly known as fin rot.  Problem is, many things can be causing the stress leading to this.  They are as follows: Parasites, overcrowding, low oxygen levels in the tank, bullying or poor water quality.  A secondary bacterial infection almost always comes hand in hand with fin rot.  You're going to need to quarantine this fish, and properly medicate him.  If you do this quickly, he may re-grow the tissue.  The underlying cause of this may seem hard to find, but stay with it!  This is a fish that needs lots of hiding places-have you given him some?  A section of plastic PVC pipe in the quarantine tank should be a helpful tool in giving your fish a chance to recuperate.  Ryan>

Black Ghost Knife Fish Hi again <Morning! Ryan here> Thanks for your advice previously. Using half dosages of Protozin seems to have cleared my tank of Ich. <Great> I lost a clown loach, but the symptoms have gone from the other one, as well as the few spots that were on the knife fish. <Clown loaches so sensitive to Ich- their worst drawback>  But the problem I have now, is that the knife fish has some white streaks down his side, running from about the middle towards the tail and the ventral fin. <Eek> I noticed it after a week of the treatment when I repeated a dose (as Waterlife suggested) because there were still a few spots on the clown loach.  My guess is that either there was just too much medication for him to handle and it has strained him (or reduced his slime coat somehow) or that he has a secondary infection from the Ich. Do you have any suggestions? <Could be a combination of both.  Pay special attention to water quality, and make sure he's eating well.  Give it a few days before any new treatment- have you removed the old medication from the water?  Don't get too stingy on the water changes-5% a day until he clears up.  Perhaps this will be of aid http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm Good luck! Ryan> Thanks and Kind Regards Graeme

Black Ghost Knife Fish Hi there <Hello> I came across a page where you discussed Ich, and was just wondering if you would be able to help. I need to treat my tank for Ich but I don't want to harm the knife fish. I have a product called Protozin by Waterlife which mustn't be used if Elephant-nose fish or rays are in the tank. Although it doesn't mention knife fish, I'm concerned about using it because I've heard they're sensitive to Methylene blue. Since I have Clown and Kuhli loaches, I only need to use half the dose, but I just want to make sure this will be alright for the knife fish. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards Graeme <I share your concern and would NOT use this medication in the water with the Black Ghost Knifefish. It likely contains malachite green (is it a dark blue color that stains all?) and is indeed toxic to small- or scale-less fishes. Seek out other means (e.g. temperature increase) and safer chemical treatments for this Ich condition. Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Black Ghost Knife, Ich and bluish med.s Hi Thanks for your reply! Nowhere on the product does it say that it contains Malachite green, but it is a blue liquid that seemed to stain my fingers when I opened it. The thing is, I've been told that clown loaches are very sensitive as well, so with Protozin you're supposed to only give half the dosage. <Ahh, I do further suspect that malachite is a principal ingredient here. You might look up this term on the Net along with the words "fish medication"> If the loaches are more sensitive than the knife fish then it shouldn't be a problem, so I'm still confused. <In soft water they're both about the same sensitive> I may try it on them in a quarantine tank (although mine has nothing but a heater) but then I'm not cleaning out the whole tank, and then I'm not preventing the knife from getting Ich as well. My temperature is already at about 26/27 degrees C. Do you suggest water changes too? <No to the water changes, as these may stress the animals more than what good they do. I would elevate your temperature to about 30 C. (86 F. for Yanks)... over the next day or two. Bob Fenner> Graeme

White Furry Growth on Black Ghost Knife Hello Web Wet Media Crews, Happy New Year. "Houston", we have a problem! My 16cm Black Ghost Knife is covered with furry white "slim/growth" all over its body, including its eyes. At first I thought it was body fungus <You are right it is fungus.  It's a true fungus that attacks the outer layers of the fish. Fungus prefers cool temperatures, acidic conditions, so check the temp of the tank and what the pH levels are at.> used "OCEAN FREE" medication. I have no idea what it contains but it turned the water really green. <Not sure what actually does turn it green, but it's suppose to do that.> I did a partial water change. I increased the water temperature from around 26 or so to 32 Degree Celsius. <Make sure you medicate the exact way the package tells you to do so, doing water changes during treatment simply removes the medicine already in the tank.> My BGK fish stopped fishing and rest on the bottom of the tank for the whole 3 days. When I used an object to lightly scrape its body, the whiter furry things is easily peeled off. <It's best not to physically scrape the fish, you run the risk of scraping the fish, damaging it skin, or bothering what's left of it's protective slime coating.  If you should scrape the fish, the bacteria can get deeper into the fishes skin causing more problems.> This happened quite often. What seems to be the problem? Is it a fungus growth, water conditions or other ailments? <The fish has true body, mouth and eye fungus, a fungus infection -- treat with MarOxy. Use Maracyn-Two or Maracyn or Tetracycline or TriSulfa to prevent secondary infections.> You guys have provided me with many valuable tips that keep my fish surviving till now. I hope you can help me with this again. Many thanks.    <Hope that helps.  I hope your knife gets better! -Magnus> <<Malachite green is likely the ingredient in the medication that turned the water green.  Malachite green is toxic to ghost knives, for future reference.  -SCF>>

Re: White Furry Growth on Black Ghost Knife. Passed Away Hey Magnus. Just a few minutes I sent you a reply, my fish passed away. <I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.  It is a very sad thing when we lose pets we cared for.> Nevertheless, I would like to thank you and the whole crew for the help. <I'm just sad that I was unable to help you save your fish.  But remember we are hear to help you, so ask a question anytime.> 1 more question.... can I bury my fish in my flowerpots? Is it safe to do that? <You would need to have a large flowerpot, and you run the risk of having loads of bugs and such coming into you flowerpots after the body of the fish.> Will the disease be spread to the plants? <Fungus can spread to the roots of certain plants provided the soil is acidic and moist.  I really would worry that the decomposition will affect the pH of the soil and hurt the plants.  I would probably dispose of the body in a different way.> What is the best moral ethnical way to dispose one's beloved died sick fish? <With large fish I have actually buried them in the back yard.  Please don't take offense to third, if you have no yard, you could always seal it in a multiple bags and simply deposit it in the trash. some people became far to attached to do that to the fish, and would hate to "throw them away".  I would try and find a place to bury it if you want, rather than throwing it away.  A park or some other area would be better than your flowerpots.   I'm sorry to hear of your fishes passing, I do hope that you know that you had done your best to care for it.  -Magnus>

Black Ghost Knifefish sensitivity Crew - To my eternal shame, and by neglecting quarantine, I have killed the Black Ghost Knife that lived with my discus, angels and L-numbers.  I neglected QT and got Whitespot in the tank.  Got reliable treatment, and halved the dose as I knew knifes, like L-numbers and clown loaches (there' one of those in there too), put in med for whole tank.  Well knifes are a lot more sensitive than I thought.  Checked back an hour later, all looks ok.  2 hours later knife is not looking good, move to another tank FAST, 3 hours later dead.    Lesson one - QT Lesson two - QT for sure if you can't treat the tank because of sensitive organisms >>Wayne, sorry to hear of your loss. Out of curiosity, which medication did you use? Some meds are stronger than others, and some have completely different active ingredients. I have treated black ghost knives with Super Ich Cure and higher temps, at half dosage, with good results. Which fish introduced the Ich? And how long were the ghosts in your tank? I agree that anyone keeping discus should quarantine all new fish. It's a sensible thing to do :) -Gwen

Black Ghost Knifefish and meds  Gwen -  JBL Ektol, which has proven pretty effective for external parasites in the past, but has to be watched as it can/will kill your filter. I usually add  half a dose and watch carefully, but not carefully enough this time.  The source - blue rams, introduced several weeks before.  Royal Panaque, Bristlenoses, L-33 and clown loach all fine. But the timing  tells me it must have been the meds. Symptoms were fish just became less active, hid, was obviously distressed.  Wayne  >>Wayne: Hi again. I am unfamiliar with JBL Ektol. What are the ingredients listed on the bottle? There are anti-parasitic meds out there that won't harm your biofilter, at least, not a complete kill-off. I know some meds like malachite green/Formalin mixes can, but only in new set-ups where the biofilter is not mature enough to withstand a bit of abuse. In established tanks, there should be NO noticeable bacterial die-offs. I would assume that the JBL product is a bit strong, perhaps too strong for the more sensitive fish, if it is capable of killing the biofilter I would be leery of using it at all...what were your ammonia/nitrite readings after the treatment? -Gwen<<

Black Ghost Knifefish and meds - 2 lessons learnt the hard way Hi Gwen - according to www.jbl.de..... it doesn't say. I should have stuck to the advice 'if you don't know what it is, don't put it in your tank'. I'd rather have used punktol, but I've found this to be pretty ineffective at reduced doses (as I required) in the past. Ektol is a general parasiticide (?), bactericide... Ammonia, nitrite were fine afterwards - I'd expected some hit? <<Yes, but it can take a couple of days, so check your ammonia again after a day or three, just to be sure. I will try to find some info on this product, but at any rate, we know it doesn't work well on BGK's... :( -Gwen  Need Help I am at a complete loss, and I'm now turning to online resources in my desperate attempt to find a solution to my problem. I found your site to be very impressive; very rarely does one find a resource that contains such a wealth of valid information. I work at a large chain pet store, in the aquatics department. All of us in the department are extremely knowledgeable about fish and their care, and rarely have any problems with any of our fish. However, whenever we receive a shipment of black ghost knives or clown knives, the fish systematically die off within a couple of days. We have no problem with our brown knives, ever. We keep each species in their own tank, the brown knives in a larger tank with zebra Danios (they never come in large enough to eat the Danios), and the ghost and clown knives in their own smaller isolated tanks. We offer ample hiding spots for each type of fish. We feed each frozen food, such as bloodworms, nightly. Our pH is a little high, around 7.8, and our water hardness is through the roof, but our temperature is a consistent 78 F. We always carry juvenile fish; the knives never come in larger than 4 inches or so. We would like to carry ghost and clown knives, but not if it means continuous losses such as we have experienced. If you have any advice as to what we might be doing wrong, and what we might to do rectify this, it would be greatly appreciated. My thanks in advance. L Barker  <<Hello. I need to know if you guys are putting these fish into properly cycled tanks. I know it sounds simplistic, but it would make me feel better if you could provide me with information on ammonia levels, nitrite and nitrate levels in these tanks. The problem with being a store is that as the fish are gradually being sold, over time, the beneficial bacteria can die off without us being aware of it...then along comes a new shipment, and twenty fish are suddenly put back into tanks with limited bacteria. The ammonia level can skyrocket the first few days, resulting in sick knife fish that never fully recuperate due to all the stress from shipping combined with new surroundings...and undoubtedly bad nutrition before you received them. Also, smaller knives are even more sensitive than larger ones. You may have a better survival rate if you can specify 3 inches or LARGER when you order your knife fish. Try, and see. In the meantime, prepare your knife fish tanks either by keeping them full of other species at all times to keep the biofilter alive, or by using pure ammonia to keep the nitrifying bacteria alive, until the shipment lands. You can also try running some peat moss to help lower pH and hardness levels, though these, in and of themselves, should not be enough to kill all the newcomers alone, but it doesn't help when added to the other stressors the fish are facing. Also, keep in mind that knife fish are aggressive amongst each other, and make sure to provide plenty of PVC tubes for the ghosts, at least one per fish!! Keep the lighting low for the first few days, as well. You can cover the tanks with Styrofoam lids to diffuse the lighting, or leave the lights off entirely. -Gwen>>

Melafix with Ghost Knife Hello Crew, This is my first time asking a question on www.wetwebmedia.com. I have a 120 gallon tank with 4 Silver Dollars, 1 Distichodus noboli, and an 8 inch Ghost Knifefish. I purchased these fish about 4 days ago, and 2 days ago I noticed that 3 of the Silver Dollars have their fins nipped and their are black and grey marks( not spots) on their tail. I think it's because of the nipping. I'm not sure if the Distichodus was the culprit or the other Silver Dollars. My question is can I treat my tank with Melafix without the Knifefish being harmed? How much Melafix should I add if I can treat the tank? Thank you, Greg >>Dear Greg; Follow the instructions on the package. Also, you should get your water tested at your LFS for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. Is this a new set-up? Either way, your water quality may be the culprit, followed by the Distichodus. Silver dollars will not beat each other up enough for you to need to treat their tank. Look into the other potential problems. -Gwen<<

FW Ich, Ghost Knifefishes, Treatment Hello, I have a 20 gallon tank and I have a black ghost knife fish in it with Ick.  I have heard that you cannot use Ick treatments when there is a black ghost because it will kill them. <These fish are sensitive to many medications>   I remember hearing somewhere that you are supposed to raise the temperature instead.  Can you tell me how high to raise the temp. Or can you give me a better solution.  This is a very expensive fish and I like him a lot so any help you can give me so I don't lose him would be appreciated.   <Raising the temperature will likely effect a cure. If your other livestock can handle it, do raise it to the mid- 80's F. You can do this all in one day (do make sure you have adequate aeration... higher temp. results in higher metabolic rate and less gas solubility). And in a couple of weeks, when you are sure the Ich is gone, do lower it slowly (about a half a degree per day) to the upper seventies. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Jeneane

Black ghost knife fish 10/12/05 Hello guys just thought of saying thank you for all your useful info. <And thank you very kindly for these words.... It is great to hear/read this, some times.> I had a 55 gallon fresh water planted tank that was running for about 2 and half years. Fish in the tank: 1. a black fin shark (5") <Gets very, very, VERY large with time....> 2. a black ghost knife fish (8") 3. 2 adult angels, a marble and a golden (3" in diameter) 4. a rope fish (8") 5. a Pleco (5") 6. a stripe Raphael cat (4") 7. 3 tiger barbs (2 ½") 8. 2 ruby cichlid (2") <A touch overstocked for my tastes! Just be sure to keep up with water quality....> It wasn't until two months ago that I started having trouble. I acquired the 3 tiger barbs from the fish store when I normally go. Some lady came in and left two containers full of huge fish, between them was the three tiger barbs that I took. I introduced them to my tank without using a quarantine tank the way I should have. <Ohhhh, no.> One of the barbs became really fat. After reading a little I thought it could have been pregnant. About three weeks later I noticed that it had cloudy eyes. They cleared after a couple of days, but it came back and ended up dying a few days later. <Many possibilities, here; including mycobacteriosis....> Now one of the two barbs left started chasing the other and nipping on its fins until it almost had none. So I decided to get three more tiger barbs to keep them in odd numbers.  <Very aggressive nippers; watch that they don't harass the other fish as well.> A few weeks later I noticed my golden angel had this white dust on its body. After reading I found out it was velvet. <Aaaaaargh! Serious bummer.> When I looked around the tank the black fin shark also had it. I did a 40% water change and treated the tank with copper. <Oh, yikes! Toxic/deadly to some of the fishes in your tank.> Kept the temperature on 80*. Next day the angel and the shark died and most of the other fish after that. I decided to get a 20 gallon set up and keep the fish that weren't sick (black ghost knife fish, the Pleco, and the two ruby cichlids). <Surprising that the knife and Plecs survived the copper - delicate fish.> I've done the constant water changes to fight the ammonia spike and it's been pretty good so far. But now I notice that the black ghost knife fish bottom jaw looks like it is decaying. I wish I could show you a picture. <I wish so, as well, but am pretty certain this is water quality related. Be sure to maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate below 20ppm, with water changes.> Could you please tell me what could be wrong now? Cordially, Ivan. <Though it's entirely possible that these fish did contract velvet, I would lean more toward an environmental issue with this deterioration. Improve the water quality, and observe very, very closely.... and, as you've learned, in the future, quarantine all newcomers to your tank. Wishing you the best, -Sabrina>

Knifefish Fin Problem   1/10/06 Hello, I've had my Black Ghost Knifefish and Blue Gourami for well over a  year now. My water parameters are all normal. The Temp. is 79 degrees. They are  in a 29 gallon soon to be in a 55. My problem is that I have just noticed that a   few of his fins are torn right near his tail. Is this a result of fighting? <Possibly> Will  it heal on it's own? <Should... with the move to larger quarters, good care> Will he be all right or will he need any kind of medical  attention? Thank You <Be careful with treatments around the Apteronotid Knife... often more toxic, hazardous than worthwhile. Good clean water, decent nutrition should cure all here. Bob Fenner>

Black Ghost Knifefish, Quarantine - 10/17/2005 Greetings and salutations! I would like some advice on caring for a Black Ghost Knife. I brought home a healthy specimen at around noon, and put him in a 10 gallon quarantine. <Ah, good. Quarantine is essential with new stock.> He was a beautiful deep black with off-white markings, roughly 4 inches. It's now 2 AM and the entire front part of his body has faded to a silvery color. <Go to sleep! Actually, he could just be fading to more nocturnal colors.... though I cannot recall having seen them change to lighter colors at night - but many fish do.> It's as if his black is fading completely away! My QT water parameters: Nitrite/Ammonia-0ppm, Nitrate-10ppm, temp-78F, slightly hard water, pH 7.2. <What pH was he in at the store? He could be suffering from a bit of a shock from change in pH and hardness.... They hail from waters of low-ish pH and low-ish hardness, so this may be part of the issue. At this point, however, I would not change what you have - a steady pH is FAR more essential than a "perfect" pH.> The tank is bare but for 2 PVC pipes. <Large enough for him to enter and hide in?> The tank is in a private room, and the light is off. The fish is swimming "normally" (like an excitable drunk). Fed some frozen brine shrimp earlier, but he seemed to be spitting them out. <He may not eat for a day or so.... but likely you will need to start him on live foods. I could be mistaken, but I believe these animals are only wild-caught and not at all bred in captivity.> I read that these fish are very sensitive and their rich black color may fade due to stress, but I was wondering how common it is for this fish to fade so drastically in this short period of time!!! <Mm, 14 hours isn't really a short period of time.... a fish turning pale at night can do so in minutes. 14 hours is more than plenty of time for the fish to get stressed, as well.> I will keep a sharp eye (I can't sleep the way it is). Should I add a bit of salt? <No.> Stress-zyme? <No.> Is there possibly a metal in the water that Aqua-safe is not removing? <Not likely that this is what's harming the animal, if anything. I would suspect a poor reaction to a sudden change in pH above all else.> I always appreciate your help, thank you in advance. ~M <All the best, -Sabrina>

Black Ghost Knife Compatibility, Disease - 10/12/05 Hi - <Hello.> I have a black ghost knife that was bought recently - about 5 inches long. He's in a community tank and unfortunately we forgot about the nippiness (is that a word??) of our Serpae tetras. <Uh-oh.... Err, *I* say 'uh-oh', but Bob (whom I'm visiting currently in HI) says there really isn't a compatibility issue here. I, personally, would be a little nervous about these two species together.> They have bitten off the end of his tail!! RIGHT TO THE 2ND BAR!!! <I do agree with Bob here that the Serpaes may not have been the sole contributor here - please check your water quality. Maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes.> I treated the water with this thing called MelaFix for any bacterial infection that it might get( I'm in Australia - hopefully you know what that product is!!) <I do.... and though MelaFix (extract of the Melaleuca tree, or "tea tree") does seem to have some mild antibiotic properties, I would not rely on it alone as a medication for anything severe.... furthermore, I have seen evidence in my own fishes that it may be a little (or a lot) irritating to the fish.> He seems OK but I'm worried that he won't survive without the tip of his tail. Is there any thing else I can do to help him out?? <Maintain optimal water quality, and (though Bob and I disagree on the Serpaes!) keep him separate from any fishes that might bite or nip at his wounds until he's healed. The end of the tail might not grow back in its entirety, as well.> Also we recently moved house (about 3 weeks ago) and obviously had to transport tank and contents. It's a 4 ft tank (180litres) so we took about 1/2 the water with us and didn't clean filters out etc the ph is 7, the nitrites are 0.1 and the ammonia 1.2. to me this is high as it is normally 0. <Dangerously so.> Is there any thing I can do to lower ammonia levels. I haven't done a water change since we moved. <Water changes alone will fix this.... and it is urgent that you do.> Thanks for your help... Tam <Any time, Tam. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Black ghost knife problems? Hi Robert, I'm a bit worried about my new BGK (my new favourite fish!). I am currently setting up a new tank after becoming addicted to my boyfriend's set up! New tank is 80 litres, planted and has a fine gravel substrate. It is currently stocked with 2 Pearl Gourami, 2 Angels, 3 Tiger Danios, 2 Corydoras sterbai and a small (2.5 inch) BGK. <This IS small!> Tank is two weeks into its first cycle. <Yikes... Knifefishes don't "like" new systems... Hard on them to go through their initial chemical, biological changes> The BGK has been in for 3 days and while it seemed happy in the first two (hiding amongst plants) but I have come home from work today and it doesn't seem right. It is sort of hovering around the bottom of the tank, moving around almost like a drunk person. It kind of wobbles around a bit, then rests and then wobbles around again. It has plants to hide in, as mentioned, and also a piece of driftwood to go under but it doesn't seem interested in this. <Mmm, well, this is pretty standard behavior for the species... but... do you have another, older system you can/could move it to?> At the LFS it was happy hiding amongst Java Moss and seemed unconcerned with the lit tank (I'd watched it there for a couple of days and it seemed very strong and healthy). There are really no other signs/symptoms except this apparent listlessness and my gut instinct (and it appears to be easily caught in the relatively light current and moved along which wasn't happening yesterday). I checked the water parameters and everything was fine - Ph 7.0, temp 26C. Nitrite was very slightly elevated but not of note (I have added Amtrite down to fix this.) <Mmm, only temporarily and at a "cost"... as stated, Apteronotus don't like "going" through cycles> Is it just acclimatizing or do I have a problem?? <Perhaps both> Please help, I was really impressed with what I've seen on the site and decided you're the man to ask! Thanks. Alia <Best to move the specimen to an established, similarly peaceful setting, second best to be very careful of not feeding much, urging your completion of biological filtration (Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm.  Bob Fenner>

Black ghost knife fish I have a BGK fish and yesterday noticed three splits in the fin under his body, today there must be about thirty of these splits, could you help me in finding out what this is and what I can do. Yesterday I bought a new African Knifefish and wondered if this may be the cause, I'm not sure because the splits were already there  before I added the new fish. Thank you Anita <These two may well be fighting... during the night probably... I would separate them... the Black Ghost will heal on its own otherwise. Bob Fenner>

Black Ghost Knifefish and Ich 10/24/07 <Hi Jillian, Pufferpunk here> I am at a loss as to how to treat my two BGK fish. They live together in a large tank along with two Raphael catfish and an Oto whom they surprisingly do not bother. Recently I noticed a few small white spot (suspecting Ich) on one of the BGK, and am wondering what is the best course of action for treatment. Firstly, should I isolate the infected fish or treat the tank as a whole since all fish have now been exposed? <I would treat the whole tank with heat & salt.> Secondly, what it the highest temperature that BKNs will tolerate, as my usual treatment for Ich is to up the temperature to 82-84 F and add 2Tbs of salt per 10g of aquarium water? <MT BGK lives in a discus tank with a normal temperature of 86. Since these are soft water fish, I'd start with 1 tbsp salt/10g.> This leads me to my third question, is it better to treat the BGK with this salt treatment or to use a product like RidIch at 1/2 strength? <I wouldn't use meds on scale less fish. Before starting treatment you should do at least a 50% water change and vacuuming of your tank. I also suggest doing 50% water changes every other day of treatment, (again vacuuming the substrate) to reduce the number of parasites in the water. I do not like to use medication with scale less fish, except in cases of heavy infestation. Melafix is helpful to treat any damage done to the puffer��s skin from the parasite. If you run into any secondary bacterial problems, Pimafix may also be used. By the 2nd day of treatment, you can raise the salt to1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of aquarium water (remember you already have 1 tbsp/10g in there, so adjust for that), while gradually raising the temperature to 86 degrees F. Continue with this for a period of one month, adding back 1 tablespoon of salt for every 5 gallons of aquarium water that you remove during water changes. One thing to remember with high temperatures is that there is less dissolved oxygen available in warm water than there is in water at cooler temperatures, therefore it is recommended to run an additional airstone to oxygenate the water.> I am a little attached to these fish and would like to see them make it through this. Thank you in advance for the advise. <It sounds like you have caught the disease early & your fish should be fine. ~PP> -Jillian Scharfstein 

Black ghost knives... hlth., reading   10/23/07 I have 3 black ghost knives, 2 of which have dangling "worm-like" appendage from the throat. It's usually about 1.2-2 inches long. I don't know what it is or how to treat it! Please help. Thank you. Regards, Allison <... could be a parasite... Worm... I'd treat with Prazi.... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwwormdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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