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FAQs on Freshwater Nutritional Disease

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesFW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Freshwater Medications

Related FAQs: Head and Lateral Line Disease (HLLE), Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease


Red pike problem please help        11/20/15
Can you guys help me identify this and what i might do to solve this problem its in a friends fish tank looks like hole in the head maybe and some sort of fungus but im really not sure thanks
<Almost certainly Hole-in-the-Head, though of course secondary infections (bacteria, fungi) can infect the open sores on the head and lateral line system. Metronidazole is pretty much the only reliable treatment. You also need to determine why this has happened. Poor diet and high nitrate are almost always the causes. With carnivorous fish you the special problem of how to get vitamins (mostly in plant foods) into them. If your Pikes take quality pellets, then that's not a big deal, and simply offering the odd earthworm or gut-loaded river shrimp will top them up nicely. The problem comes when folks feed them just minnows or whatever. Such foods have little vitamin content, contain thiaminase (which breaks down vitamin B1), and introduces all sorts of unknown parasites and pathogens. Sadly, because the folks selling predatory fish sometimes tell inexperienced fishkeepers to "just add a few Goldfish" for food, this sort of horribly sick predatory fish situation is extremely common. Anyway, treat as per HLLE, and optimise diet and water quality. Cheers, Neale.>

re: Red pike problem please help        11/20/15
Thanks for getting back so quick
<You're most welcome! Neale.>

Parrot Cichlid With Strange Growth on Throat  5/11/09
Hello. If you could help me I would be ever so grateful. I have a beautiful red parrot fish and not everyone on another forum is happy to answer any questions on its health that I have.
His water conditions are perfect but for 8 days he has not eaten anything and shies/hides away from me. I put this down to a knock on his tank but I now fear it is something more sinister.
Under his mouth in the loose folds of skin that Parrot fish have he has a white lump. For all the world it looks like gravel but I fear it may be a tumour are perhaps fungi. I have been treating the tank with Melafix and Pimafix since I noticed this lump. I have also done gentle water changes to see if that helps. On the whole I am leaving him alone as I don't want to stress him out. He was never a shy fish before and would attack you through the glass if you walked in front of his tank. I have included some pictures for you to ponder over. I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and look forward to hearing from you in due course. Regards
Ann, Scotland.
<Thanks for the photos. Very interesting symptoms on your little parrot fish. There may be a tumor on the thyroid gland. This is caused by lack of iodine. If you have soft water then you may need to add some minerals to the water, especially if you have very pure water. The second cause may be a problem to the second set of jaws called the pharyngeal bone. They may have been damaged or gotten infected from eating something in the tank. Net the fish out to see if there is something blocking the mouth and throat. A
last ditch solution would be to isolate the fish and treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic like Furanace. The parrot cichlid is not a fish found in nature and sometimes comes down with unusual problems.-Chuck>

Mystery Wasting Disease...  Help...!   3/10/06 I have a sick tank.  It's 55 gallon, all of my parameters are good: ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrates 20 - 40, <I'd keep under 20 ppm> ph-7.6.  Water temp 78 f.  Planted. UGF and jet heads. This tank has been up since last summer and has been extremely stable.  I had one of my original Gouramis die a couple of weeks ago.  I have no idea why she went, she was a red (honey sunset?) Gourami, and the only "sign" of illness she showed was losing all color the night before she died.  She was truly ashen and looked very "old."  Within a week of her death, her partner developed dropsy. <Mmm, well, this species, Colisa lalia, does have some standard "problems" nowadays...> He is still with us, but not doing well, so far he hasn't really responded to treatment.  Just a little...  He is in a 2.5 gal QT. Since he has been in quarantine, I lost one Bloodfin whose body became very sunken and bullet shaped, head very bony.  Best way to describe it is total emaciation.  Another Bloodfin has fallen sick with this, I unfortunately had to put him in with Gourami due to lack of another QT tank and in hopes of him responding to the treatment.  This morning I have another Bloodfin and neon that are showing early signs of this mysterious disease.  Fading colors, body shape thinning, hiding in plants, not eating. My LFS will give me some advice after seeing a water sample but not until then.  I can't make it there before the weekend. Any ideas? Thank you so much, Mary. <Mmm... your system may have a Mycobacterial infection... the same genus of microbe that causes TB in humans... I do encourage you to read: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=treating+mycobacterium+in+aquarium+fishes&spell=1 and consider a treatment with an efficacious antibiotic. Bob Fenner> Electric Catfish question  11/14/05 Hi, <Hello> I have a 1 1/2 year old electric catfish who has quickly developed a growth on the right underside of his jaw. It seems to be three large growths that make up one puffy protrusion. Could this be a type of cancer, and is there anything I might use to treat him?  <Is likely a goiter... a deficiency syndrome... Not to hard to effectively treat with the addition (to food) of iodine/iodate. Look in your fish store for Lugol's Solution...> There have been no changes at all in water and diet (shrimp). HELP. Thank you, Trey <Good luck, life to you. Bob Fenner>

Fat barb, dropsy, feeding blocks 8/20/05 Hi, <Hello there> We've just returned from a week out of town where we left a ten-day dissolving feeder in our tank. <Mmm, a re-comment re... these are almost always more potential trouble than their intended worth nutritionally... far more often pollute the water, providing nil in the way of food...>   When we returned, our fattest tiger barb was looking even fatter than usual and very lethargic, sitting near the bottom.  After a few hours, he began "bumbling" around the tank, swimming up to the top, flipping himself, and seeming to generally struggle (getting pushed by the stream of the filter, etc) and my wife noticed that his scales were protruding.  Before he died he was struggling and floating upside down.  Is this indicative of some kind of infection and/or what course of action, if any, should we be taking with the rest of our fish? <The general term for this symptomology is "Dropsy" or a "dropsical condition" (Ascites)... internal body fluid pressure so elevated that the fish's scales stick out at an angle to their body... the cause/s can be several... most often, inappropriate to toxic water quality, conditions, improper nutrition... leading to adventitious bacterial problems... Bob Fenner> Greg and Debbie

Re: fat barb 8/22/05 Thanks for the info.  Regarding the time-delay dissolving pellets, what do you recommend for long trips such as those? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/vacfaqsmar.htm Bob Fenner>

Big Belly? 8/14/05 Hello again, if it is constipation, what can I do to treat it? Thank you. From, Morgan <Uhh, please include previous correspondence... have little recollection... there are dozens of us "here"... Many cases of constipation (in humans, fishes) are best treated with Epsom Salt... please use the search tool on WWM re. Bob Fenner> Oscar with HITH/HLLE Chuck, I wrote to you the other day in regards to my new job at work  taking care of our fishes. We have some type of dwarf catfish that isn't suppose  to get much bigger than it is now (5 inches) and a Oscar (currently about 7  inches). Anyway, they were in a 30 gallon tank under terrible conditions. We had   management change, and new manager did not want to initially buy a new tank  because he did not like larger fish in general. Old management was going to get  larger tank after a couple of months. Needless to say, the Oscar out grew the  tank. The waste and food was at least 1/2 thick on bottom of tank. Lucky the fish   didn't die from toxic waste syndrome. I was trying my best to maintain them in the  small tank, but HLLE was already in development, and it took them nearly 4 months before buying a 55 gallon tank. I think manager was hoping the Oscar   died. Now the Oscar has numerous scars around head. However, they are looking a  lot better and he has a healthy appetite. He has been in his new tank now about  1 1/2 months. Although the old scars look a lot better, I noticed a couple of  newer small ones working their way down one side. I thought one of his eyes were  going to fall out with all the scaring around it. You answered my questions, and  I want to thank you for that very much. I have a few more specific questions  that I hope you don't mind answering for me. Oscars are beautiful fish, and I  want to do my best to keep this one healthy. Our manager is getting a 150 gallon  salt tank that will be monitored by a fish store, so the care of the Oscar has  fell upon me. I don't want to take up anymore of your time, so I will ask my  questions. Thanks a lot! 1. You mentioned that I should give the Oscar "Metronidazole" where  would I find this at...a store or thru a vet? < You can get it at some fish stores . If not you can get it on line at Drsfostersmith.com.> 2. How much should I give the Oscar daily? < Directions are on the package. Keep the tank clean and the medication will work better.> 3. You also said to give it vitamins, What type of vitamins i.e. A,  B, C, D, multi, etc? < A good multivitamin will cover all the bases. Use fresh food that still has all its vitamin content. Old stale food usually has no vitamins left in it.> 4. Should I try and get liquid or solid vitamins? < Soak pellets in liquid vitamins.> 5. I have eliminated goldfish as a food source. I now feed him   a different meal each day of the following items meal worms, beef hearts, frozen  brine shrimp, dry pellets, and frozen blood worms...Should I add or delete  anything from that diet? < No beef heart and try some washed earthworms.> 6. You mentioned to lower my ph down to 7....Should I leave it  there permanently, or just a few months during treatment? < Lowering the pH should be gradual and hopefully permanent.> 7. You mentioned something about giving him Tetra Cichlid Vital for   iodine...is that food product, or liquid water treatment? < It is a liquid water treatment for cichlids.> 8. I was told elsewhere that I could use a product by Kent Marine  that is a concentrated Iodine that I believe is for a healthy reef life in salt  tanks. It comes in a liquid form. I believe 1 tablespoon per 50 gallons. Is this   similar to the Tetra Cichlid Vital? < It may be but the tetra product is specifically for cichlids while the other product is designed for reefs. Read the ingredients on each and compare.> 9. I did the water change...How often should I keep doing it?...and  what water percent each time? < Depends on the nitrates. The lower the better. Clean the filter often and vacuum the gravel. Keep the nitrates to a maximum of 25 ppm > 10. If I have a hard time getting the Oscar to ingest vitamins in  dry food, cause he eats the pellets less than the other mentioned foods...Can I  remove carbon filters and pour diluted vitamins in tank? < Don't feed him for a couple of days before you try the pellets. If that doesn't work then remove the carbon and add the vitamins to the water.> 11. I also went to a website by a Company called Aquatronics. They   specialize in fish related products. I have pasted a product they offer on this   e-mail. It's called Hex-A-Mite 2. It is suppose to be fortified with vitamins.   Would this be worth my time and money to get?AA6  AQUA-AMAZON HEX-A-MIT II The first nonantibiotic hole in the head treatment.  Add one capsule to 2 ounces of prepared food. Feed twice daily for 1 week.  Vitamin fortified with a calcium additive. This product is also an effective  disease preventative when added to the aquarium water monthly. (Sold since  1992). 410 mg capsules are available in 10 capsule packages. < I have not personally used this product but it sound like it is worth a try.> 12. My tank temp is currently around 78/80...I was told that I  should slowly turn it up to a higher degree, is this true?...if so, how  high?. and for how long? would the temp raise effect the dwarf  catfish? < You water temp is fine.> 14.Last, but not least, this is a algae question. The new tank is  already developing algae on the bottom, plastic plants, and a tad on the glass.  I cleaned it out yesterday during water change and added some algae kill. What  is the best way to keep a hand on algae. I have been told live plants, weekly   doses of algae kill, etc? < Algae is the result of excessive nutrients combined with light. I prefer to try and keep the nitrogenous wastes under control and deal with a little algae on the glass and plants.> Thanks for taking your time to read all of this. I am truly  appreciative. I know Oscars aren't high dollar fish like salt fish, but they  still look great when they are healthy. This fish looks healthy color wise on  the sides now, and I would like to keep him that way if possible. I know there  is nothing I can do about his face. I had a pair of my own Oscars 25 years ago,  and they never had a problem. Hell, from about 5 inches on, they didn't even  have a heater in their tanks. Just heat from lights. They both lived around 6  to 8 years, and were large healthy fish. However, that was many years ago.  I just want to be able to help this one live as long and healthy as possible.   Hopefully, whoever replaces me here at some point won't have to deal with  treatment of the Oscar because it will be healthy and well. < Your hard work on treating this Oscar is to be commended. Others would have simply tossed him and got another. At least this way you and others reading this may be able to save another cichlid.-Chuck> Thanks a lot for your time, John

Re: Oscar with HLLE Chuck, This is another letter in regards to the  Oscar I am taking care of at work. Thanks for your help so far. Just a few more  questions.  1. I found some liquid multi vitamin, but it is berry flavored for  taste.  Can I still add this to his food, or should I get pill form and dissolve  in warm water?< Neither, Go to Drsfostersmith.com and get a bottle of Vita-Chem.> 2. Should I try to add Metronidazole, Cichlid Vital, ph Lower at  the same time or different days?<The Metronidazole and cichlid vital could be added now and modify the pH with the water you replace doing the water changes.> 3. How long and often should I treat the Oscar with the above  medication?  i.e.. once a week for a month, every other week for 2 months,  etc... <Follow the directions on the packages. The disease may be gone but the healing will take time.> 4. I also have some multi-vitamin enriched Krill, Is it all right  to feed him that?< That would help.-Chuck> Thank for your help, John

Oscar with Hole in the Head I take care of an Oscar at work. It was left too long in a 30 gallon tank   with terrible water conditions. It developed HLLE. Since then, I have moved it   to a 55 gallon tank (about 1 1/2 months ago). The sores/holes look a lot better,  but a couple of small new one have developed. The new tank has 0 ammonia...0  nitrite.....15/20 nitrate....about 8ph. I have read various articles on yours  and other pages on HLLE, yours seems like the best. I have a few questions I  would like to ask you if possible. 1. At our local fish store, they told me that HLLE is caused by a form of   worm. They sold me some product called PraziPro...it is meant to cure fish with Flukes, tapeworms, etc...is this good for HLLE as well? < No.> 2. You mentioned that iodine is good for HLLE, do you mean the type that   comes in a liquid form? If so, how many drops per serving? < Tetra cichlid vital has iodine in it. Use at the recommended dose on the bottle.> 3. You also mentioned about vitamins...How should this be administered, and   what particular vitamins should be used? < The best way to administer vitamins is to take some fish pellets and soak the pellets in the vitamins. When you feed the fish they will ingest the vitamins. If you simply put them in the water then the carbon will simply remove them.> 4. What other suggestion would you make since I am rather new at  this? < Lots of water changes with r/o water, to at least the pH down to neutral(7). Good quality food, and some live food too. Service the filter often and treat with Metronidazole and vacuum the gravel every other water change.-Chuck> Thank you very much, John

HLLE, Oscars If there is any way could you describe or send a picture of hole in the head or both thanks < Hole in the head sometimes starts out as a white pimple around the forehead area. The pimple and puss disappear and a clear void is left behind. Eventually the holes continue and progress to the point to where the eyes. skull or gills become affected and the fish die.-Chuck>

Hole in Severum hello please bear with me as I ask this question as I am new to this ok I have a 55 gallon tank with a Severum in it that looks like an Oscar I have a smaller version of him as well and two cat fish ones a shark like and the other looks black velvet and one jaguar cichlid now they have been awesome since January recently like oh maybe month or 6 weeks ago I added the jaguar now my problem my bigger Severum has these little holes that look like pinholes behind his right eye and on the left eye tonight I noticed a larger hole behind it the one behind the left eye is probably 7 mm in diameter and the ones behind the right eye are problem 1-2 mm and there's like 5-6 of them in a row like someone poked him with  a safety pin now he's my baby and I'm new to the whole fish tank thing (I'm 34) love the aquarium its my little place to watch another world and so far so good till this can you please advise me on what this may be the only thing new to my tank in the past 6-8 months are 2 things one the new jaguar who is maybe 3 inches and my BioWheel has kind of stopped spinning but I mess with it so it runs probably 12 of the 24 hours a day still filters water it just the wheel that doesn't turn I feed the fish the normal medium sized pellet food and also treat them to frozen brine shrimp 3-6 times a week and also add feeder fish regularly and they eat em up so please help and I hope I gave enough info look forward to your response soon before anything goes awry thanks Dan <Do a 30% water change and clean the filter. Take it all apart and rinse everything off very thoroughly and reassemble it. It should be working fine with the wheel continuously turning. Vacuum the gravel when you do your water change to remove all the stuff that has accumulated there. The hole-in-the head disease your fish has does not have a specific cure. There are many medications that say they cure it but none so far have been found to be guaranteed. This condition is associated with poor water quality or a vitamin deficiency. Regular weekly maintenance and a varied diet should help. Try some washed earthworms instead of the feeder goldfish.-Chuck> Dan Gies

Holes in Severum head I have a Green Severum and it has very small holes around its eyes and face that just showed up what are they and what should I do? < Do a 30% water change , service the filter and vacuum the gravel. Change the diet and include some live food like washed earthworms. Make sure your fish food has not gone stale and lost some of its vitamins.-Chuck>

HLLE on Clown Loach Greetings, all. I have a 180 gal FW tank. <!> I keep it at about 80F. I have two 13 year old clown loaches <!!>(8+ inches) and two smaller ones (3-4 inches). I also have 9 ghost catfish, 1 black skirt tetra, three Hatchetfish and two large-ish Plecos. <!!!> I wrote awhile back about one of the smaller loaches having nibbled fins. Now, I notice that one of the larger clowns (the largest, in fact) has three, almost regularly-spaced craters or lesions (bites?) on his dorsum, just behind the "head". They do not look infected, and he still eats voraciously. The tank is very clean, with bio-ball sump-based filtration and a 40W UV light. 40 gallon water changes weekly.  Could this be hole in head? No white/slimy fecal matter and he acts healthy. The marks are in a row, all inside one of his dark stripes. <It does not sound like the few fish I have seen with hole in the head (HLLE) but it sure is possible. The fact that the holes are "clean" and in a row makes me think it is not HLLE. Although not directly fatal, it can lead to secondary infections that are. Watch for redness or a white pus. I found a good link for you to read up on. See:  http://www.masla.com/fish/hlle.html. BTW Great job on keeping your fish! 180 gallons and a rather light bio load! Big fish in there though. Make sure you check the nitrates and try to keep them below 20ppm. Don> Thanks! <No, Thank YOU!> Tom <Don>

Oscar's has ICH or HITH? Hi, MikeD here> My Oscar still has his white spot O <--- about the size of that zero and the Tiger Oscar is only about 4 inches long.<Definitely not ick, which is a tiny white spot about the size of a grain of salt or smaller> The spot hasn't grown or healed and he's had it for at least 2 and a half weeks.<Where is the spot located on the fish, and is it a definite pit or hole?> I do water changes once a week and vacuum once a week.<Not too much of a water change I hope?> When do you think I should change the gravel.<Why would you want to change the gravel, unless it's because you don't like the color or stone size?> What should I treat his white spot as ICH or HITH?<From the information you gave me, it's definitely NOT ick, and maybe not HITH, at present I'd hold off on treating with anything....any chance of sending a photo?>
Re: Oscar's has ICH or HITH?
<Hi, MikeD here again> Ill send you a Photo Next E-mail (About 2 days)<OK> Its just a pit, not really a hole. Also it's right above the gill. <Good. That would sound more like lateral line erosion than HITH, which can often be made to subside merely by improving water conditions and food quality. My personal suggestion is to never use live goldfish as feeders, BTW. It's also possible it MAY be just a scar, and until you're sure WHAT you're treating, there's always the chance of doing severe harm by using the wrong treatment.>
Re: Oscar's has ICH or HITH?
<Hi again, MikeD here> What do you recommend as food. Right now I'm using Floating Pellets (Medium) made from Wardley.<Any good cichlid pellet or such should be fine, preferably one made for predators> Their quite old like a month. I feed him twice a day<Great idea! It's a growing baby and once a day often just keeps them alive, while more allows them enough extra energy to grow> about 7 pellets each serving. Their bags zip lock broke so I put it in a new Zip Lock Bag.<Good idea as they CAN go stale and lose food value> All I feed him is pellets. How do I know how much to feed him? I heard put in some pellets and see how much he eats in several minutes, but is several minutes 2 or 3 or 4?<Basically, you can feed it all it will eat until it quits eating, then stop. Any food left uneaten after 15 minutes should be removed> If you have any Recommendations for food I'll go out and grab some.<There are hundreds of predatory cichlid foods on the market, with most being satisfactory. find one that both of you seem to like and you should be fine. As "treats" you can offer it live ghost shrimp, even small earth worms if you so desire. some people feed live feeder fish, but with that you always stand a good chance of picking up parasites, so I'd suggest avoiding the practice to stay on the safe side.  Keep in mind that you'll need to change the size of the food pellets/treats as it grows, plus increase amounts according to its appetite>

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