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FAQs About Loaches & Relatives 2

Related Articles: Loaches, A New Look At Loaches By Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:  Loaches 1, Loaches 2, Dojos/Weatherfishes, Clownloaches, Kuhli Loaches, & Loach Identification, Loach Behavior, Loach Compatibility, Loach Selection, Loach Systems, Loach Feeding, Loach Disease, Loach Reproduction,

Zebra Loaches, snail cont., comp.  7/30/10
Hi Crew, hope all is going well for you. I have a couple of questions, please. I wanted to know if it is true that zebra loaches indeed do eat snails
<If hungry, yes, up to a point. But this is misunderstood by many. They will have near-zero impact on Melanoides livebearing snails for example, and really only tackle small Physa and Physella. They generally ignore the tiny Planorbis snails. In any case, if you're feeding them -- or the other fish they're kept with -- they'll generally eat that "easy" food rather than the snails. Any retailer who tells you a given loach will cure a snail problem is not really being honest. Many fish eat snails on occasion, for example Oscars, Synodontis and many of the Mbuna, but that doesn't mean these fish are snail cures.>
and if they would be good tank companions for angels and Corys.
<Bit on the boisterous size, so it does depend on the size of the tank.
Assuming 55 gallons/250 litres or more, yes, a group of Botia striata will get along with most community fish. There will be competition for food though, so take care with Corydoras. Personally, I prefer not to mix Botiine loaches with Corydoras except for Dwarf Chain Loaches. Angels generally dislike strong water currents, so you'll need to be careful ensuring proper circulation for these loaches while not buffeting about the poor Angels. Would recommend Kuhli Loaches as the classic "pond" loaches as opposed to these stream-dwelling species.>
Also, what is the minimum grouping that is healthy for them
<As with all Botiine loaches, 5 or more, or they'll fight all the time and will be so shy you'll never see them.>
and are they hardy to keep?
<Given the right conditions, i.e., low to moderate temperature, lots of water current, and a soft substrate, yes, they're quite hardy. The usual cautions apply though with regard to copper and formalin.>
Thank you for your time.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches  7/31/10

Thank you Neale, I guess I won't try to use that method then.
<Perhaps not.>
Could you please recommend some safe product (if any) that will rid my tank of snails?
<I wouldn't use any "product", but I will recommend the snail-eating "Assassin Snail" Clea helena, a species that will consume snails and over time does establish an equilibrium. They aren't an instant fix, but you will find they have a strong negative effect on snails by eating the juveniles, so that the number of adult snails declines. Clea helena breeds but since they're either male or female you will need a reasonably large group to be sure to get males and females. They breed slowly, and it is several months before you'll spot any juveniles.>
I do not even know what type they are. I had never used live plants of any kind until I set up this current aquarium and the ones I have now are java fern. I assume that is where the snails came from. I try to vacuum as many as possible when doing a water change (I have a sand bottom). I know of a product called "rid a snail" but have heard that would hurt my cories.
<Indeed. The molluscicides sold to aquarists typically contain potassium permanganate, and this is very toxic indeed. Broadly, it is safe used as short dip for new plants, but otherwise should not be added to the aquarium. Even if it was safe in the aquarium, having handfuls of dead snails rotting in an aquarium will bring down water quality. So why bother?>
Also I currently have 6 angels and 3 gold gouramis in addition to my cories. I am getting tired of the gouramis and have decided to have just an all angel (except for the cories) tank. Will there be fighting if I add more angels to the ones who have been in the 75 gallon tank for over a year? Thanks again for all you do.
<Angels can be territorial, so fighting is definitely a risk. You should be okay because you already have six of them, but there's no guarantees. For what it's worth, I think you might want to leave the Gouramis; I find they
have a "disturbance" factor on the Angels that ensures the school of Angels stays together. They do what cichlid keepers call acting as the target fish, a focus for the aggression that maintains pair bonds. In a 75 gallon tank the impact three gold Gouramis will have on water quality is minimal, so I'd honestly leave them there, or at least replace them with another largish Gourami species like Lace or Moonlight Gouramis.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches -- 7/31/10

Hi Neale, as far as this "target fish" thing goes, does that mean that the aggression some of the angels have towards one another may be directed towards the gouramis thus keeping them from fighting among themselves?
<No. Target fish are *different species* that are threats that cichlid social units recognise, and those threats help to keep the cichlids working together. Without target fish the cichlids have more energy to divert into fights over hierarchy. Also, without target fish, pairs tend to be weaker, so males are more likely to bully the females. In other words, by ensuring the cichlids are "scared" a bit, the social group works better. It's complex, and I'd encourage you to read Paul Loiselle on this issue, in 'The Cichlid Aquarium'.>
I do think they are pretty fish but even though I have one male and two females I get tired of seeing the male always chasing one of the females around the tank all the time.
<Male Gold/Blue Gouramis -- varieties of Trichogaster trichopterus -- are notorious bullies, and as you'll see elsewhere I recommend people just keep females. Lace and Moonlight Gouramis are much less aggressive.>
That is the only reason I want to get rid of them. I don't know if the male chases the same female or not, but would adding one more female help the situation?
<Possibly, but I'd prefer to remove the male if you can, or swap for another Trichogaster species.>
Thank you again. James
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches -- 7/31/10
Thank you for the information. It is always good to learn new things in the aquarium world. I managed to catch the male gold Gourami and take him back to the LFS. Do you recommend me buying any more females or is having just 2 OK? Thank you again.
<For the purposes of target fish, two is fine. Cheers, Neale.>

Black Kuhlii Loach, comp.    6/7/08 Good morning, afternoon or evening what ever the case maybe. <Morning here in England!> Can Black Kuhlii Loach live in hard water with out suffering any health problem and be happy? Can one keep red cherry shrimp and Black Kuhlii Loach in the same tank? <Kuhli loaches and most species of algae-eating shrimp get along just fine.> or will one have no shrimp and fat happy loaches? I know the larger loaches would make a meal out of my shrimp but these guys don't get very big. <You are correct that the "botiine loaches" (after the genus Botia to which may have been assigned at one time or another) will indeed eat shrimps and snails. But the loaches of the genus Pangio primarily feed on insect larvae, algae and organic detritus. They have relatively small mouthparts, and while they could eat newborn Cherry Shrimps, adults and even half-grown individuals should be fine. I keep Cherry Shrimps with small fish all the time, and while some baby shrimps might get eaten, Cherry Shrimps breed so fast when properly kept that you will still get lots of extra shrimps after just a few months.> I ask because I just discover a small group of them in one of the 3 pet stores that exists near me and would love to own such interesting fish, but my red cherry were in the tank first and it would be unfair to put a shrimp hungry loach in with them. <Indeed so. But in this case, I'd take the risk.> The tank a 33 gallon tank that has a AquaClear power filter meant for a 40-70 US gallon Aquarium.... 40-70 just read the box one would think it be a bit weak for a 70 gallon tank mind you in a 33 gallon tank I have lovely current. So much so that the free duckweed that came with my red cherry shrimp didn't have a hope. Even with a filter bag over my intake to keep my filter from eating my baby shrimp my other plants rock back in forth in the watery wind. <Don't put much (any) store by quotes on the filter packaging about how big an aquarium these can service -- like the "miles per gallon" ratings on cars, or the "servings per box" on breakfast cereals, these numbers bear absolutely no relation to the real world! Your safest approach is to choose a filter that offers not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So if you have a tank 33 gallons in size, pick a filter with 4 x 33 = 132 gallons per hour turnover. Simple as that. Anything smaller will become clogged too quickly, and you're likely to find water quality poor unless the tank is understocked. Both loaches and shrimps come from fast-flowing streams, so from their perspective, the more water current, the better. The subtropical shrimps we keep in aquaria (of which Cherry Shrimps are one species) are rather sensitive to low oxygen concentration, especially when the water gets much warmer than 25 C. Mind you, one tank I have on a windowsill goes as high as 30 C for a couple of hours during the summer months and the Cherry Shrimps there seem to be breeding happily enough.> I would like to introduces a school of 6 Cory cats when my shrimp numbers fill out. Would be nice to be able to introduce all 6 at ones, but I am not sure if the tank could handle it with out going into a new cycle. How many do you think would be a good number to introduces at a time? The tank been cycle but with only shrimp in it the filter remains not very grate. <Add Corydoras as a group, say 4 at one go, and then 2 more later on. Again, Corydoras seem to get on fine with Cherry Shrimps, especially if you pick the smaller Corydoras species like C. panda.> The red cherry shrimp were to much of a pain to get to have them all eaten by a Peaceful fish... Peaceful so long as your not a snail or shrimp. <Hmm... do check the Cherry Shrimps aren't dying for other reasons: I have found them to be very hardy. I started off with 4 about a year ago, and have something like a hundred now in two different tanks, plus any number that I've given away to other people. Mostly fish don't eat them; at least, not small fish like Cardinals, Limia, Bumblebee Gobies, Wrestling Halfbeaks, Whiptail cats, etc. Do review issues like medication (copper kills shrimps) and water chemistry stability. Shrimps are definitely things to add to a tank *after* it has matured for at least 6 months, since they feed primarily on micro-organisms that they find in the algae and detritus around the tank. They seem to do best in "messy" tanks with lots of plants, algae and things like that. Cheers, Neale.> Loaches, guppies comp. ....and cats   3/14/07 <<Hello, Celeste. Tom here.>> As per a previous correspondence: (And will the loaches be good fry control in the 37 gallon? <Mmm, snail fry only> ) Just wanted to let you know (for future readers) that we have seen our loaches (angelicus Botia) chase down and eat a few guppy fry (as well as devour any and all snails we put in there).  Obviously not enough to control our guppy population from 11 females, 4 males, but they have eaten a few.  But we've moved our guppies to their own 29 gallon tank and are finding alternatives to fry control. <<Thanks for sharing this with us, Celeste. Many of our readers are perhaps more familiar with Clown Loaches (Chromobotia macracanthus) in the hobby and, while these are described (on paper) as 'harmless' fish, readers have occasionally shared stories that indicate that this isn't always the case. Still a bit surprising, however.>> I do have an odd question re: cats and aquariums I was hoping you'd have some fresh ideas for.  I have no problem with the cats staring, batting, and running into the aquarium.  (The loaches in particular seem to fascinate them, and I even have a feeling they love to tease the poor cats as they rest right by where she is and only swim away after she's pounced on the glass.)  I do, however, have a problem with a cat sitting atop our 10 gallon.  (We have three tanks in 6 months...and planning more....)  It currently only houses pond snails to breed for a loach treat, and her jumping atop doesn't seem to bother them, but we are in the process of converting it to a Betta home and I'm afraid it will scare/stress the Betta more than the snails.  We've had to put a board on top because she kept jumping on the plexi-glass, which bowed it.  Will her jumping atop scare the Betta fish?   <<Realistically, I doubt it. Your Betta won't have a clue as to what a cat is. My Betta's in a high traffic area and wouldn't care if Godzilla sat on top of his tank if he thought there'd be some food in it for him. Even water changes and vacuuming seem to be grand sport for him so I don't think your cat would rattle your Betta very much. Still, it's appropriate to take measures to protect your fish just as you would with any pet.>> We've tried spraying her, citrus rings, scaring her when she does, but she mostly does it at night when we're sleeping.  (The 10 gallon is in our bedroom, so I hear it.)  It's only one of our cats.  Any fresh ideas? <<Actually, this is an old idea I've used with my dogs in the past. (Ivan Pavlov would be proud'¦sort of.) Place a half-dozen pennies in several empty soda cans -- I've been told beer cans work just as well but, of course (cough), I have no personal knowledge of this - and place some tape over the top to cover the opening. Keep these handy in the bedroom and, when you see the cat looking 'interested', gently toss the cans in his/her direction. Don't worry about hitting the cat with the cans. They'll be too light to inflict any harm on the animal. One, or two, of these sessions will 'sensitize' the cat to the sound of the pennies rattling in the can and, afterward, simply rattling a can will stop it from doing whatever it's up to.  In the evenings, place these on top of the aquarium so that there's no chance of 'Kitty' hopping up without knocking over the cans. I'm betting your cat will lose interest in perching on the Betta's aquarium pretty quickly.>> I hope you guys never tire of hearing our accolades and thanks for what you do.  I again add mine. Celeste <<Thank you most kindly from all of us, Celeste.  Best regards. Tom>>

Growths on Weather Loach  11/22/06 <Hi Angie, Pufferpunk here> I just stumbled onto your site while looking for information on my weather loach, Gollum. We have had him for a year now, he eats well and is active with the weather changes and in the evening. About a month ago we noticed little round growths on the end of his "whiskers" (sorry I'm not sure what they are really called) and tonight I was watching him and noticed a lump under his skin (again round) and then on the other side of his body a larger roundish worm looking thing under his skin. The one on his left side looks different from the other growths in the way that it doesn't really bump out like the others do. He is in a tank with 2 Zebra danios, 2 rummy nose, an aquatic frog, a snail and a tire eel. Our tank size is (sorry not specific) around 50 Gallons. The temp. stays at 25 degrees C. and has for the past year with no complaints/odd behavior from the fish. We are stumped as to what is going on with him. We do partial water changes and have an excellent filtration system... No new fish/plants have entered the tank in the past 6 months. There are no other signs of sickness, he doesn't really have a tail fin anymore as it was gone when we got him, he is about 5 inches long and about the size of a hot dog around. He eats fish flakes, frozen blood worms and some times eats algae pellets. I have to admit my knowledge is very limited with my fish and now that a problem has arrived I'm not sure what to do. I've read most of the FAQ's on your site (wonderful site btw) but not sure anything on there is the same thing he has. Any information would be greatly appreciated. <From his size & those tumors, it sounds to me like he's a lot older than you thought.  This is a sign of old age.  I had mine for about 8 years, by the time this happened.  I always try to buy my fish small/young so they will have the best care throughout their lives & I have them longer.  Just make sure no one starts picking on the old fella.  ~PP> Thank you, Angie

Re: butterfly Pleco? Now a Hillstream Loach  10/24/06 > Please help! About a week ago I went into my local fish store to get a Pleco for my 7.5 gallon freshwater tank. The guy at the store pointed out these cute little algae eaters that he called butterfly pleco's. He said they would be good for a small tank because they are a dwarf species. My little fish does not seem to be very interested in algae so, > I went online to do some research. All of the pictures I found of butterfly pleco's look nothing like my little guy! Can you please tell me what kind of fish this is so I can take care of him properly? Thank you so much for your help! > Jennifer > <Hard to say from that picture. But it looks like a Peppermint Pleco. It could also be a female Bristlenose. For a better ID we would need a good profile shot of him/her flat on the bottom. A raised dorsal fin would also help. Don> ...Thank you for your response! I continued looking for information online yesterday and I came across a page about loaches. I'm 98% sure that my fish is a spotted hillstream loach. <Ahh!> I have him in with two Bala sharks and a dwarf gouramis. Temp is about 80 which I think might be a little high for him <Yes> but, I don't want to go to cool for my other fish. <An example of/for the need to research before purchasing...> I put an airstone in the tank and added a medium sized rock. Do you think that will be sufficient for him? (or her) Thank you! Jennifer <Mmm... Homalopterids need cool, highly oxygenated water... they are further very often lost due to not being able to compete in tropical fish aquarium settings. Bob Fenner> Butterfly aka hillstream loaches  6/28/06 Dear Crew, I've just found your site and love it!  After doing lots of research online for my fish it's so nice to have so much information in one place. <Ah, yes> I do have some questions about the hillstream loaches since I can't seem to find much information anywhere on them.  I have a 30 gallon tank with 2 very small fancy goldfish (1 black moor, Narvey, about two inches with its tail, (are you supposed to measure with or without the tail?), <For science, w/o, for petfish, w/ most of the time> and 1 calico telescope, Penelope, fantail about 1.5").  Sex unknown on both.  They both seem to be healthy and happy.  I'm considering either getting a small school of white cloud (5 or 6) or one more goldfish (I'd love to find a fantail panda).  I have a bio-filter for a 20-40 gallon and a bubble curtain (mostly for aesthetic value). To get to the point what I want to know is are hillstream loaches compatible with goldfish, from what I've read they are temperature wise, but I've heard them compared to Plecos since they eat algae and kind of look like them, and since I've heard Plecos and other algae eaters are iffy I'm not sure if I want to add one to the tank.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Cynthia <I have seen these fishes housed together with good success. As you state, do enjoy similar water qualities, and Homalopterids are not "mean" like Loricariids, Gyrinocheilus toward goldfishes. Bob Fenner> Weather Loach Not Evolving  - 05/22/2006 Hi, I have 3 loaches in my tank 2 of which are the golden variety (pink). One has befriended the grey loach and the other is acting very strangely, it spends most of it's time resting on top of the pump almost out of the surface of the water, and has recently found its way onto a rock which is completely out of the water.  When he then re-enters the water it seems to be in a state of panic splashing around franticly.  I was told by an assistant in a pet shop that he could be evolving ? < Not evolving. May just be responding to changes in the atmospheric pressures. That is why they are called weather loaches.-Chuck> Clown loach no info.   2/10/06 I have a community tank consisting of tetras, a Pleco, and recently the addition of 4 clown loaches in an attempt to look after a snail problem....three of the loaches are doing well, good colour, active, etc. However the third has lost colour, is very faded, and spends much of it's time away from his peers, often at the top of the tank swimming erratically. I'd read that the ammonia could be the issue however have tested and they are 0%, like wise the ph is good. what now? help Rebekah <... water quality? Temperature? See WWM re requirements, ranges. Bob Fenner>

Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/9/06 Hi- <Hello there> I bought six clown loaches this past fall (lost one right away but still have 5).  For the first few months they were very visible in the tank and quite active; even clicking excitedly over their algae chips. <Ah, yes> But for the past few months, they spend almost all of their time hiding behind a few pieces of slate that I have in the tank.  Nothing has changed in the tank  - not inhabitants or decor or plants (or outside the tank for that matter). Except that I did have 4 Rosy Barbs when I brought them home.  I'm down to one now so I'm wondering if a lack of dither fish could be the problem? <Yes, could be... or perhaps whatever led to their loss> The one Rosy doesn't seem to be as active as he was either.  The Corys and Gouramis behave the same and in fact the Gouramis may be more active than they were.  The loaches don't have visible signs of Ich but could a behavior change be a symptom? <Yes, but you would see the spots... and quickly> I'm especially wondering about the dither fish because I don't really want any more fish in the tank but I would get small active fish if you think that could be the problem. Thanks for all your help solving puzzling fish problems! Holli <I would be changing more water, more frequently, checking your temperature, water quality... to suit these fishes. Bob Fenner> Re: Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/10/06 Thanks for the speedy reply.  Actually after I lost the Rosies, I increased my water changes to at least 90% once a week.   <This is too much at one time...> Sometimes twice.  My water is too hard but it was hard for the first few months too. I'll try the dither fish and see how they like that. Holli <Real good. Bob Fenner> Dojo Loach Lump   2/7/06 I have two dojo loaches, I bought them both at the same  time but one of them developed a lump on his side. <Have seen this/these more and more...> He has a hard time swimming  and he won't eat unless I put the food right in front of his mouth, he mostly  lays on his other side with his head in the air. The other one seems fine. He  has been like this for a while and it hasn't killed him but he doesn't seem very  happy. Do you have any suggestions of what this may be and how I can get rid of  it? <You might try the inexpensive use of Epsom Salt here (covered on WWM), but am not of a positive notion here... I suspect the origin/s of these lumps are developmental... exposure to poor water quality of some sort... tumorous in nature... and the fish either have and perish or not. Bob Fenner> Escape Artist Clown Loach and Eating Habits - 12/20/2005 Seasons Greetings to the Crew! <And to you, Steve!> I discovered a small problem this evening that may require me to tear up my tank to rectify.  So before I dig in, I thought I'd check to see if anyone has any experience with the problem at hand. <Alrighty, sounds like a plan.> I have two large freshwater aquariums (650 gallons and 200 gallons) plumbed to a common 150 gallon sump filled with bio-balls.   <Wow, can I move in?> The sump feeds a Sequence pond pump that pushes the return through a Hayward pleated pool filter and UV filters before dividing the flow back to the two aquariums.  The large aquarium is home to a number of medium sized gold Severums, rose line barbs, rosy barbs, moonlight Gouramis, Juraparoids, and large Congo tetras.  The smaller aquarium is home to an assortment of small tetras - cardinals, rummy nose, red minors, harlequin, and penguins, as well as three large flower shrimp.   <Sounds excellent.> On Friday I added three large 5 inch clown loaches to the big aquarium.   <You'll get a better effect with a few more - these schoolers put on great antics in groups.  And in your 650 gallon tank, I'd have no qualms recommending a few more!  Do please remember to quarantine, though, as ALL clown loaches are collected wild, and often bring parasites with them.> Today I was shocked to find one of these loaches swimming in the smaller tetra tank.   <Yikes!> After thinking through the possibilities, it became obvious that the clown loach swam upstream through a return in the large aquarium until it found the divide leading to the smaller aquarium and followed the current through the 1.5" plumbing into the smaller aquarium.   <Wow, what a trip....> I understand that clown loaches enjoy eating snails and crustaceans and so am wondering how quickly I can expect them to make a meal of my three 3" flower shrimps.   <Mm, I doubt the loach will harass the shrimp.  As long as they're not bite-sized, they should be okay, I think.> The smaller aquarium is filled with large landscaping rock and numerous plastic plants and would represent a not-so-fun filled evening of tearing everything thing out of the tank to catch the crafty clown loach.  I would be happy to leave the clown loach in the smaller tank if the shrimp had a chance of surviving. <For the loaches' schooling desires, better to get this fellow back into his school, and prevent a reoccurrence of his plumbing escapades.> Who wins - clown loach or flower shrimp? <For now, likely a draw.  I doubt the loach will have any interest at all.> Thanks for your advice and continued contributions to the hobby.  You guys and gals are the best. <And thank you for these kind words!> Sincerely,  Steve in Minneapolis (current temp: 4 below zero) <Yee-IKES!  I thought it was chilly at 40 in the Santa Cruz Mountains!  If you get snow, shovel a little extra for me, okay?  I sure do miss it.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Another Clown Loach for a 10Gal?  12/16/05 Hi Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> First off I would like to thank you for your time.  I currently have a ten  gallon tank that has been set up for six months now.  The ammonia level is 0,  nitrites are at 0 and nitrates are <20.  I have a five inch tire track eel, a  two inch silver angel, and two one inch clown loaches.  Yes I do know that  all of these fish get rather large and I will be buying a fifty gallon tank in about six months.  The two clown loaches were purchased about a week ago and are doing great.  I read on your site that you should have at least three clown loaches in a tank because they are very social schooling fish.  I was wondering if it would be a good idea for me to purchase one more small clown loach for my tank to have a total of three or if it would be too crowded in my ten gallon.  Any advise would help. <I would definitely not buy any more fish for that tank.  Even in a 50g tank, the fish you have now will get quite large.  Clown loaches can reach a size of close to 12".  I have had 2 together for a long time & they seem happy (they are living in my 125g).  It would be nice to have a school of them but even in my tank, that wouldn't be feasible.  Be sure to research the adult sizes of all your fish before you purchase them.  Also, be sure to do lots of water changes, especially while in that small tank.  I do 50% weekly, on all my tanks.  ~PP> Thank you very much, Stuart

Discus Being Chased  12/04/05 I noticed today that the reticulated loaches seemed to chase and pester the lone discus in the 150gal system. Is it possible that they are the complication? < Aggression ads to the stress your discus are going through. It would be best for the discus if they were not being chased around.> I noticed the discus feeding on some flake that had fallen from the water's surface. While eating and about, his fins are open and he seems well, but when not he is dark and acts like he's hiding. Any suggestions? Branon. < Hopefully his fins will stay open more and more as he gets re-accustomed to the tank.-Chuck> 

Freshwater Clowns?  Uhh, Clown Loaches? - 11/25/2005 I do hope you can give me some insight as to what may be going on with my clowns.... <Clowns....  Freshwater....  I'm going to have to assume you mean clown *loaches* here, yes?> I have a 35gal tank and I have 4 clowns aging from 6 yrs to 12 yrs old <These are slow growing animals, but by 12 years of age, under proper care, they should be nearing a foot in length.  These animals should be in a much, much larger system, if this is the case.> and I have never had any problems with them. Last night at feeding no one came out they all are staying in there hiding spot inside an urn. Now tonight I have lost one of my guys and I notice on him that the tips of his tail are white and a few spots. <Not quite enough description, here....  If these are white spots like grains of salt, please read here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the files linked at the top of that page.> I still have 3 that don't seem to have the spots but once again no one came out to eat. <A bad sign.> Also in the tank is an angel that does not seem to have any problems, so it is confined to my clowns. <Mm, if it is ich, it is the entire tank that is infected.  But again, there's just not enough information to go off, here.> Where do I start and what can I do??? <Start by testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite must be maintained at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.  If these are not so, fix them with water changes.  Beyond that, please read about health and disease here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .> Any help in this will be great.  Thank you,  -Dawn Tweedy <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Loaches, Ich, Salt, and Copper - 11/08/2005 Hi Crew, <Hi Brian; Sabrina with you, today.> First let me give my thanks, Bob Fenner replied back in late June concerning our highly alkaline well and the use of SeaChem's "Acid Buffer" on incoming water to bring our FW tanks down from a pH around 8.2-8.4 to a much more reasonable 7.0-7.2. After a lot of experimentation, it seems about 1/4 tsp Acid Buffer added to water mixed at 2:1 - 3:1, RO/DI: well does the trick, when combined with occasional small water changes at 6:1 RO/DI: well with no Acid Buffer to give back some alkalinity and thin out the GH.  <Great.> Now on to my questions. I've got a 29 gallon tank setup with 7 red swordtails, 2 honey Gourami, and 8 checkerboard barbs. Water parameters consistently check fine - no ammonia, no nitrite, ~15mg/L nitrate. Two medium sized Amazon Sword plants, one medium tiger lotus grown from a bulb, and a small chunk of Java Fern reproduced from another tank. Water temperature is at 77 deg F, pH = 7.0.  One of the swordtails, male, has been steadily looking worse and worse over the last month and a half or so, with no other symptoms apparent on any of the other fish. Best description I can give of the swordtail is that he's lost a lot of his color on the bottom half of his body. His lateral line is very evident as a greenish line down the length of his body, and most of the damage seems to be at or below his lateral line. The lower area near his tail has also really washed out. With the lights out, the bottom half of the fish looks almost grey, with lights on it is more a faded red with some silverish looking parts. I'm fairly certain it is not ick or any other transmissible disease as none of the other fish look at all affected.  <Is possibly nerve damage.... from an injury, or developmental/genetic disease....> My only theory is that he has been spending way too much time hanging out by the tank's heater, which is placed horizontally instead of vertically to try to provide more efficient heat dispersion. I've added an airstone near the heater to try to discourage him from resting from near/on the heater.  <Even better, get a plastic guard to go around the heater, or wrap the heater in airline tubing with "gaps" between the coils of tubing if you are unable to find a guard for it - and couple this with the airstone.> For about 2 days in a row, about a week ago, he was doing a little flashing on the Amazon Sword leaves and the bottom, but that seems to have subsided. I have not added any treatments to the tank, other than my usual water change schedule which includes a trace (less than 1/2tsp for 3 gal) of salt, along with 0.1mL/gal of SeaChem's "Prime", and Acid Buffer for pH. New water is aerated and temperature matched for about four hours pre-each water change, haven't set up a system for longer term aging of water yet but can certainly do so.  <Your current maintenance sounds plenty adequate.> He still eats readily (flake food and dried Tubifex worms, which he devours), does not appear to be struggling for air or otherwise moving erratically. Even before he showed any of these symptoms, back when he was much smaller and being reared only with the three other fry from his batch, he looked a little different -- he has always had a tinge of green and a much more readily visible lateral line compared to the other swordtails from the batch. All the other swordtails that made it beyond fry stage have survived, with the exception of one female that died a few weeks ago, pregnant, that we deemed to be physically incapable of giving birth. Back when he was a small small fry (looking back over my notes) there was one point where I was afraid he was going to die, acting very lethargic and darty and not swimming straight at all. I added a large amount of "LiquiFry" food and after eating that he seemed to perk back up and seemed okay for several months.  <Quite possibly this is just genetic/developmental, then.> His feces I must admit have appeared nothing but white and stringy for the past month or so, haven't seen anything that looks comparable to that of the other fish in the tank receiving the same food.  <This is disconcerting.... I have to ask, are these Tubifex live? Please do be aware that live Tubifex (and even freeze-dried) can transfer parasites to your fish. If you must use live worms, please instead use Blackworms, which are much less hazardous (though there is still some degree of risk involved with them). Better still are bloodworms or other insect larvae.> This fish (along with the other swordtails in the tank) is the offspring of a pair of swordtails we had months ago -- the father was a fish I was always worried about once we bought him, as he had a very obvious green coloration to him (along with the very visible lateral line) that I at first attributed to illness, then to just genetic makeup giving more of a wild type coloration. <The green could indeed be just coloration - there are plenty of swordtails with prominent lateral striping and green coloration.> Is this a nutritional deficiency? Genetic problem? Velvet?  <I highly doubt velvet.> Is he just sleeping on the heater and baking the color out of him? Any thoughts would be appreciated. We've already mourned his loss a week or two ago when he just looked a little worse than before (that's when I started feeding the Tubifex worms again), but he keeps fighting back and does not look ready to give up the ghost just yet. My apologies for the length of the question, I've just been battering around so many different possible theories for so long and don't want to just leave the guy to waste away. I'm going to try to get some pictures of him, but it's tough to get one where the degradation is clearly visible. It may be what I need to do is add more hiding places (tank has only plants and a large rock), in case the fish are just feeling that the heater is a safe, hidden spot, and burning themselves thusly. Our blood parrot cichlid (in yet another tank) managed to burn herself pretty well a couple years by leaning on the heater, ended up covered in black spots before the problem was fixed with a higher tank temp.  <Please, please consider using guards or wrapping those heaters! They do present a danger to your fish.> Second question, hopefully easier. We bought two clown loaches (2") at the LFS on 5 Nov. After getting them home and placing in the 10g QT tank, it was fairly obvious that one of them had ich. After a lot of reading I decided the thing to do was to get the temperature up (was at 77 deg F, now at 82 deg F, aiming for 85 deg F) and start adding salt to the tank. The QT tank is planted (good sized Java Fern, Amazon Sword almost too big for the tank, plus some floating Wisteria), so I know the salt may not be good for the plants but I can handle plants dying much better than fish doing so. The next day (6 Nov), figuring that the QT tank was already exposed to ich and that the clowns would be happier with more than just two around, we went ahead and got three more that the LFS had from the same tank, also obviously exposed to ich. Maybe that was a stupid move, bringing more ich to the QT tank, but I wanted to try to reduce stress on the clowns by increasing their numbers.  <I must point out that it is almost invariably a bad idea to purchase fish with obvious symptoms of disease....> Also bought some Aquari-Sol (copper sulfate salts) at the same time, but have not dosed any into the tank yet.  <I wouldn't.> By this point, I figure I have added a little over 2 tbsp of salt to a tank with estimated 9 gallons of water, over a couple days.  <You'll need a LOT more than that. Please read this article: .> The loaches are eating well, they've nearly de-sailed the entire tank already. I know I need to find some longer term foods for them, and that they sure won't be living in the 10g any longer than they have to beat the ich. So, my treatment plan is this: Increase tank temperature to 85 deg F and keep it there. Increase salt levels in the tank to some number of teaspoons per gallon (wish I had a way to measure salinity down in the 1.00X ranges).  <A refractometer is really your best bet, here, followed by a hydrometer that measures low levels.... there are at least two brands readily available, of box- swing-arm type hydrometers that do read quite low levels. Just be aware that there is some significant degree of inaccuracy.> Removed carbon from the filter (Whisper 10), added an airstone on a pump for more oxygenation of the warmer water. Replaced the Purigen in the filter with fresh Purigen (~15mL), in hopes that the synthetic beads may be capable of removing some of the encysted or free swimming ich, <Mm, I wouldn't hold my breath on that.> I'm prepared to replace the Purigen every 48hrs or so if that's a valid theory, or just leave as is if not. If there is no obvious improvement in about three days from now, my plan would be to begin dosing the Aquari-Sol at about 50% of the label directions (12 drops per 10 gallons per label, I would add about 5 drops to the tank) and test copper levels frequently, combined with daily water changes to combat ammonia/nitrite buildup from loss of nitrifying bacteria.  <Try to avoid the copper if at all possible.... Salt and heat alone should affect a cure.> My hope is the plants may help with some of the excreted ammonia if the salt/copper/heat do not completely hose their metabolism. I've used SeaChem's "Flourish Excel" in the past in the tank to provide more available carbon to the plants, have stopped for now to deal with ich but can continue if increased plant respiration would be indicated. I'm even considering eyedroppering in a little bit of 22ppm colloidal silver.  <I wouldn't.> Is this a reasonable treatment plan? I've seen people say copper salts work great with loaches at low doses for ich, but I've seen just as many say not to ever use copper with loaches.  <I am more of the latter batch of folks - though have used copper in the past with success. I am much more a proponent of salt in this case.... Less harmful to the animals.> Are my salt levels within an order of magnitude of what could be expected to help?  <Not yet.> Is it pointless to try to treat with simply heat + salt, and instead I should be getting the minimal dose Aquari-Sol in there ASAP?  <Mm, as above, heat and salt WILL work, at the proper levels.... you'll get there, no worries!> I've purchased a copper test kit and verified no free copper in the tank at this time, so I should be capable of maintaining an appropriate level of copper if it comes to that. I really appreciate the time taken to read and consider these issues. -Brian Pardy <And thank you for your kind words. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Loaches, Ich, Salt, and Copper - II - 11/11/2005 Hi Sabrina, thanks for your reply concerning our swordtail and loaches. To answer some of your specific questions: "<This is disconcerting.... I have to ask, are these Tubifex live? Please do be aware that live Tubifex (and even freeze-dried) can transfer parasites to your fish.  If you must use live worms, please instead use Blackworms, which are much less hazardous (though there is still some degree of risk involved with them). Better still are bloodworms or other insect larvae.>" They are freeze-dried Tubifex, and honestly they're probably pretty old and lacking in nutrition. I just started feeding the Tubifex to him/that tank a week or so ago, long after he was already displaying those symptoms when I was thinking he could have a nutritional deficiency from relying too much on flake food. We do have bloodworms in huge quantities for the cichlid, I've been hesitant to give them to the swordtails as I recall their father (sire?) seemed to get constipated from them before, and I usually ended up feeding peas afterwards. <<I would perhaps in this case try to find "glassworms".... also an insect larvae, it is my opinion that these are safer than Tubifex.>> I will absolutely be looking into a heater guard, I hadn't heard such devices existed before.  <<Umm, let's see.... Ah! Here: http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/category.xml?pcid1=3231;category_id=2913  .>> Let me also correct what I said in my original mail, our cichlid managed to burn herself a couple years AGO, not FOR a couple years...  <<Heh! I gotcha.>> I'll add that in the past two days, since adding the bubbler near the heater, this swordtail's feces have appeared significantly more normal, to where he's actually passing something that looks the right color. Hooray, green poop! <<Too much Kool-Aid. Why is it that, no matter WHAT color Kool-Aid I drink, it always makes my poo green? Another of the world's great mysteries....>> "<I must point out that it is almost invariably a bad idea to purchase fish with obvious symptoms of disease....>" I know.  We didn't know enough about them at first, purchased two, and then had pretty much already decided they would be more comfortable with more clowns before realizing they had ich. Understanding that I had to treat the tank anyway, I figured adding more would reduce stress on the two already in the tank. I know I'm not going to get anybody on WWM to tell me that was a good idea, it probably wasn't.  Unfortunately the LFS is moving from one building to another, and we let ourselves get sucked into buying fish on sale at a time when they probably weren't paying enough attention to their health. But then, these loaches were in a 40g long tank at the shop that we've already paid for and will pick up once the other fish in it have moved, could take forever with ich-laden fish in the tank. If nothing else I know that tank needs to dry out and get scrubbed down real well once it comes home.  <<Can use diluted bleach, or vinegar.... Also, be certain to discard any substrate or decor that was in the tank at the store.>> At least I got a nice Emperor 400 @ 50% off for future tanks. <<Sweet!>> "By this point, I figure I have added a little over 2 tbsp of salt to a tank with estimated 9 gallons of water, over a couple days." <You'll need a LOT more than that. Please read this article: .> Thanks for that pointer. There are so many different takes on the issue online, it's nice to be directed to a particular one. I'm going to continue to slowly increase my salt concentrations and continue frequent water changes. I found an "Instant Ocean" hydrometer that I should be able to use to monitor my salinity levels, and the propane heater in the room helps me to maintain elevated temperature.  <<If of the "swing arm" type, it will likely not be very accurate, and is not the best way to go when trying to measure very low levels of specific gravity.  A lab-grade float hydrometer would be MUCH better, not much more expensive.  MH>> <<Excellent.>> I'd really like to avoid using copper.  <<Agreed. Think very long and very hard before you resort to copper, and know that ANY porous material (substrate, decor, etc.) will be rendered useless to you if ever you wish to keep invertebrates, including shrimp.>> <<Mmm.. not quite, please see "Live Rock and Copper Help" just below.  MH>> <<<Article mentioned above was on the dailies....  to find it now, enter those words in our Google search bar.  -SCF>>> I appreciate your response, Sabrina, and those of all the other WWM Crew, to my and others' questions. What you're doing here really does help keep fish alive and happy. <<Your kind words are of great value to us.... Thank you very, very much.>> -Brian <<Wishing you well, -Sabrina>>

Loach Colored Loaches? - 11/02/2005 Hello, <Hi.> Can you please email me with the name of the fish I had when I was younger? <Umm, I hope you've got a description?> I am starting a new tank and wanted to get him again. He had the loach colors <"Loach colors"? There are many species of loaches in many, many sizes, shapes, and colors....> but was long and tubular like a worm, fast as hell and very good with other community fish. Have any idea what he is??? <Your description seems to be of a Kuhlii loach, http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Pangio&speciesname=kuhlii . Take a look here for just a few others: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm , and here for many more: http://www.loaches.com/ .> It's driving me nuts and Petco and PetSmart are no help! <Hope this has shed some light.> Thanks. -Angelo <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Queen Loaches Aggressive 10/31/05 Hi, Thanks a lot. I researched at loaches.com and this loach is Queen loach (Botia dario). However it says that they are not aggressive. Anyway I have separated dollars and every one seems to be happy. Thanks a lot < Aggressive is a relative term. It may not be as aggressive as some loaches but compared to tropical fish in general it could easily bully other fish around if it wanted to.-Chuck> 

Aggressive Loaches Not Clowning Around - The Most Respectfully Submitted Email EVER! 10/28/05 Hi, Kindly accept my sincere regards for such a excellent site. I set up my first 15g tank in July this year, did some stupid things, some wise things (reading your site) and have finally stopped killing my fishes. In fact I now have now a second 55g tank with 3 goldfishes and a freshwater minnow called tiger shark My question is regards with my 15g tank, it has a filter, heater, and is a established tank for three months, original occupants were goldfishes now shifted to 55g. 15g tank has two silver dollars 1.5', 2 platy, 2 sword tails, I wanted to add some loaches. I read extensively and come to conclusion that clown loaches were schooling fishes and decided on a minimum of 4 fishes 1.5'. The fishes sold to me do not seem to be clown loaches although they look like clown, this fellow said that they are called 'Rani loaches' and are same. However my problem is that these loaches have started picking on dollars, striking at their eyes or base of tail. This problem is now so acute that dollars are now showing signs of stress. Kindly guide me why is this happening. If I separate the fishes which can I put with goldfish or should I return them. Thanks Sandeep R < I went to loaches.com and could not find any fish listed there when I searched for rani. All loaches are not alike. Some are small and very peaceful while others can be very aggressive and get large. Please go to loaches.com to

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