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FAQs on Oscar Infectious (Viral, Bacteria, Fungal) Disease/Health 

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesIch/White Spot Disease, Freshwater MedicationsOscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Oscar Disease 1, Oscar Disease 2, Oscar Disease 3, Oscar Disease 4, Oscar Disease 5, Oscar Disease 6, Oscar Disease 7, Oscar Disease 8, Oscar Disease 9, Oscar Disease 10, Oscar Disease 11,
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Like almost all infectious disease of fishes, Oscar's are principally secondary. That is, they are predetermined by adverse conditions.... principally poor water quality and a lack of nutrition. Fix these first and usually infectious disease will sort itself out.

Rescued Oscar (any thoughts, Chuck?)        4/21/16
Hello! My husband and I have rescued a tiger Oscar from a young couple who had him in a tank with NO filter. We put him in an immediate quarantine tank when we got him home. His story... He is about 10 inches long and the couple had him in a 55 gallon that was only filled about 50% (again with NO FILTER.) The water looked like watered down milk. To top it off, they had McDonald's happy meal toys as decorations in the tank. While we were there, their children were chucking random things into the tank! Food, sippy cups, toys... Seriously... you name it, it was in there.
<Poor guy; thanks for "doing God's work" as some folks would say, helping out an unfortunate animal that can't help itself.>
This guy is in bad shape. His gills and mouth are swollen and he can only open one side of his mouth.. And as you know, these guys are supposed to be black and orange. He is a very pale grey and his orange is an off white color. His poop is clear and stringy. We have tried API salt, slight water changes, and we have just started running an antibiotic in the tank.
But we still cant get him to eat, he barely swims or moves around. He has sever indents on his head (no holes) and one side of his face is distended (the same side that he cant open). The spines on his dorsal fin are also exposed, and he has some slight tail rot. We have done everything we can think of to try to bring this guy back to being healthy.
Any help or ideas would be grateful Thank you for you time.
<Sounds like this guy has, among other things, Finrot and "Hole in the Head". Finrot is treated, usually very successfully, with antibiotics. Hole in the Head is trickier, and requires something specific: Metronidazole.
You can use the two medicines together, though the Nitrofuran group of antibiotics works especially well with Metronidazole, so if you can use these two together, do so. Don't forget to remove carbon from the filter, if you use it (carbon removes medicines as well as things that colour the water). Do remember to provide optimal conditions in the tank, especially oxygenation. In the short term, food isn't that important, and if he can't eat, don't worry about it for now. He can go several weeks on his body fat.
Short term, it's all about stabilisation. Get the fins healing and the lesions on his flanks healing. I've cc'ed out cichlid expert, Chuck, for anything else he might add or anything I might have got wrong. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Rescued Oscar (any thoughts, Chuck?)      4/22/16

Thank you so much for your swift reply. We will be getting that in the morning! We will keep you updated as to what happens, if there is any developments and if we have any further questions! Thank you again.
<Glad to help, and good luck. Neale.>
Re: Rescued Oscar (any thoughts, Chuck?)      4/23/16

I wanted to let you know that I discovered a hole right above his eye, it looks like someone had thrown a dart at him. It's extremely deep, but small in diameter. I went to the store and bought some Metronidazole.
<That's the ticket!>
We have started that process, hopefully he pulls through! Thank you again for the advice! I'll keep you updated.
<Does sound like typical damage to the sensory pores caused by Hexamita infections and/or Hole-in-the-Head more generally. Do read up on these. While Hexamita is treated with Metronidazole, it's a pathogen that seems to work alongside other problems, specifically poor diet (i.e., lack of green foods/vitamins) and high nitrates (i.e., lack of water changes). Obviously your fish is a rescued fish, so the causes aren't your fault, but going forwards, you will need to keep these two in mind in the long term. Good luck, Neale.>

Sick 7 yr. Tiger Oscar, HITH       4/7/16
My 12 in. 7 yr. Old Tiger Oscar lives in 75 gal tank with 2 306 Fluval canister filter a 400 mainland hob. He developed hth. from over feeding !
<Hole-in-the-Head? Rest assured that this is treatable, though you do need very specific medications, and need to medicate promptly.>
I treated with MelaFix and then Ali general cure as directed.
<Both useless for this. Hole-in-the-Head is partly related to diet, partly to water quality, and partly to a parasitic protozoan called Hexamita.
Which is the most important of these remains a matter of debate! But you need to consider, and tackle, all three.
First, diet. Stop feeding if water quality isn't good. When you do start feeding again, you need to ensure plenty of fresh greens. Oscars are often overfed junk food, most dangerously of all, goldfish and other live foods. When hungry, they will eat plant foods, and these provide essential vitamins. Grapes, melon and other soft fruit are all worth a shot. Cooked peas are generally taken without fuss. Feel free to starve an adult for a week or more to get them
interested! Secondly, check water quality. Ammonia and nitrite MUST be zero, and don't feed if they're not. But crucially, nitrate must be low as well, 20 mg/l is the upper limit for good health; even 40 mg/l is stressful in the long term. So, a spacious tank, minimal food given to the fish, and lots of water changes are usually the key to success when it comes to nitrate. Finally, medication. For Hexamita, you need Metronidazole. Often used alongside an antibiotic, but Metronidazole is the silver bullet here.
Nothing else works. Be sure to remove carbon, if used, from the filter during medication.>
Every spot cleared except 2 holes near his eye that still look pink. He won't eat his works or any thing ! Does he need antibiotics ? Please help .
I'm disabled he's my therapy pet and friend .
<Well, I hope all of the above helps get him back into shape! Good luck,

Oscar fish; growth         4/6/16
Hi ☺️ I was given your email address in the hopes you might be able to give me an idea of what I should do with this guy. He developed this lump before he was given to us but just in the last week or so it has gotten a lot bigger and looks sore. Thanks,
<This growth looks to be tumorous; no treatment available directly. Doing your best to provide good care (hard, alkaline water of low nitrate/metabolite content; good nutrition...) is about all one can do. As far as I'm aware no medicines will reverse this growth. IF you decide on euthanizing this fish, I'd have you read here:
Bob Fenner>

Oscar cichlid diagnosis
Oscar with Bacterial Infection
Hi just wanted to see if you could help me out. I have studied your site and really appreciate all the information you provide. I have two Oscars, have had them about 6-8 months now. They live in a 100 gallon tank, with 2 emperor 400 filters. They live with one Pleco, and one Synodontis catfish. I noticed about 2 weeks ago, that one of my Oscars had a little hole forming on his head, freaked me out, went and researched hole in head disease, and took action. I checked my water parameters, and my pH 7.8 – 8.0, Ammonia = 0, Nitrate = 0, Nitrate was 40 ppm. So I immediately started increasing my water changes from once a week, to every 2nd or 3rd day. I had also recently switched to some cichlid food that I bought on eBay, witch I immediately stopped feeding them, and went back to Hikari Cichlid Gold, frozen blood worms and some Krill. After every water change, I have started adding aquarium salt, and did dose them with one dose of Metronidazole, and removed my carbon. The Oscars look so much better, they are back to greeting me again, very active, eating great etc. The hole in his head grew a little larger, but now looks to be healing great. I thought I had it all under control, but now I notice these discolorations on one of my Oscars body. I really don't have any idea what it is, maybe a fungal infection? He is still eating, my Nitrates are now between 10 – 20 ppm, and I am still doing water changes every 3 days. Should I be concerned about this, and if so what should I do? I have attached a few photos outlining areas where I am concerned. Thanks so much for having this website, the information is so valuable. Mike
< When the nitrates are high the bacteria become very active while the fish's immunity starts to become less effective. I think you have a bacterial infection that could be treated in a hospital tank with either a Furanace or Erythromycin type of antibiotics. Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm. Check your tap water too. You may have high nitrates in your tap water and will never get under the tap water nitrate levels while using that water.-Chuck>
Oscar Cichlids

Oscar w/ tumor for a few months started swimming sideways...
Oscar With Internal Infection   5/26/10

Hello...I've been through many, many pages on your site and I want to thank you for being such a valuable resource!
< Thank you for your kind words.>
Perhaps you can help me with my fish problem... I adopted 2 already full grown Oscars three years ago from a local pet store. One of them is a textbook tiger Oscar, the other one looks more like a hybrid of a small mouth bass and an Oscar, just doesn't have the cichlid look to her. They have always been very active fish, they 'fight' each other and often fight me, trying to grab the stick right out of my hand when I clean the inside of the tank. Recently, 'Tina' the hybrid looking Oscar developed a large lump on her side. It didn't really have time to grow, it just seemed to happen over night. Her coloring changed a bit too, her normal dark green areas turned to black and some of the white on her underside also went a bit grey. She still was very active, eating normally, fighting with her mate, etc... This morning she has gone sideways. She's still actively struggling, trying to right herself up. She also seems to be breathing very heavy but otherwise has normal energy, just can't get up. I'm on my way now to the pet store to bring in a water sample. Any ideas what stage of any fish disease I might be dealing with and if I can help her out here would be much appreciated. The first photo is of her at a normal stage, 2&3 from the first time I noticed the bulge and discoloration, and the final ones of her this morning. Thank you, Ryan
< Thanks for the photos. Your Oscar has an internal infection. Use the combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace in a hospital tank. It could have been caused by diet to by fighting with the other Oscar. Look at the ingredients of the common "cures" sold in the big pet shop chains to find the right meds to use. They can be bought online too at Drsfostersmith.com too.-Chuck>

Sick Oscar 6/6/09
I have been searching your site for answers but could not find any for my particular situation. I currently have a tiger Oscar that is about 4 inches long. I noticed some white spots on his pectoral fins and before that he was staying at the surface behind my power filter. I figured he has Ich because these are the most common signs of it. I currently put him in a quarantine tank for treatment. The display tank has no other fish and is set at 82 degrees Fahrenheit to speed up the life cycle and let parasites die off. I am currently using super Ich cure by API. The quarantine tank is at about 84 for the same reasons. Now for my question. About a day after the first dose I noticed the spots starting to fade a bit and maybe a few
going away. Now his pectoral fins seems to be a little frayed and maybe some slight if any cloudiness in his eyes. Has my Oscar developed even more illnesses do you think? I rarely ever have sick fish so I'm not sure what to do. I appreciate your help and time. Thank you.
<Hello Jonathan. It's actually not uncommon for Ick (Whitespot) to lead to secondary infections such as Fungus and Finrot. What happens is that the white cysts on the fish's body burst open when mature, and that's how the "baby" free-living parasites get into the water and so are able to find new hosts. But the damage to the fish's skin allows infections to set in. So, as always, review water quality, since that's the thing that makes such infections probable, and also treat for Finrot and Fungus using a reliable medication of your choice (not salt, not tea-tree oil!). In the UK and Europe, I recommend eSHa 2000, but there are doubtless other products you might use elsewhere in the world. Do remember to remove the carbon from the filter while treating your fish with medications. Cheers, Neale.>

Big Bellied Oscar 1/25/09
Hello maybe you can help ,I went to all pet stores and they are no help, I have an Oscar about 9 inches and his belly is big. I have not seen any feces on the bottom. know he is not going to the bathroom. I was told to give him boil peas I did and it did not work, do you know what I can give him to help him go the bathroom. I have a picture attach for you to see ,under his belly there is something and it looks like it wants to pop out..help please .thank you Bridget
< Your Oscar is suffering from an internal infection. Usually this is because of a blockage in the gut of the fish. Nobody knows for sure what causes this in cichlids. Some think it is water conditions while others think it is diet. There is probably a little of both that cause this condition. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter.
Treat with a combination of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. These might be difficult to find at your local store but can be found online at Drsfostersmith.com. Treat on the 1st, 3rd and 5th day Do 50% water changes in between treatments. After the last treatment do a 50% water change and add some carbon to the filter to remove any left over medication. Feed once a day with a high quality pellet food. Any food that is not eaten in 5 minutes should be removed. Try every day until he eats. watch for ammonia spikes since the medications may have modified your biological filtration so a bacterial additive may be needed like Dr. Tim's One and Only. Early treatment is the key to a successful outcome.-Chuck>

Oscar with Fin Rot  12/24/05
I noticed another thing on my Oscar. At the end of its tail its white and the edges look like they're torn. Is it Bacterial Fin Rot? What should I do?
< Could be fin rot. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and change the filter. If it looks like it is getting worse then treat with Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Oscar Problems
Hi, I own 5 tanks and have several different kinds of fish (not in the same tank!) my newest fish is an tiger Oscar. I have had him for about one week and he is not looking too good. I checked the water and it seems to all be ok. My poor Oscar lays on the bottom of the tank and doesn't move around unless I move him myself, not even to eat. what am I doing wrong? I'm hoping that he won't die, please help. thanks Jackie
< Oscars like warm soft water at least 80 degrees F. Try some live food like worms or brine shrimp to get him up and about. If you think he is really sick then look closely for signs of disease and check back with the store you bought him from to see if they are having any problems with the rest of the tank.-Chuck.>  

Oscar Problems 
Hi Bob, I have two tiger Oscars that are about 4" - 4.5" long.  I have had them for about 1 and a half months now and everything was fine until yesterday. My favorite one, "Rocky" started getting a blackness on his head and it even looks like a scale is coming up. I got them from Pet Smart, when I set up the tank they gave me aquarium salt and conditioner that is also a stress reducer. The tank ran and built up the proper bacteria for about 4 weeks before I put them in. I gravel vac every other day but I never take a lot of water out. I have them in a ten gallon tank (I know too small but my 58 gallon is still setting up at this time). I don't understand what is wrong with him, he is the one that already eats from my hand and know who his daddy (owner/master etc.) is.
I did a 3 gallon water change and added the proper dosage of stress coat in it, but it looks worse here are the pics. this one he is perfect (the one on top) Here is the bad (the one on bottom) and the tail. 
<<Only one photo came through - posted above>>

< The blackness is caused by a bacterial infection. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package. When treatment is complete use carbon to remove the medication and add Bio-Spira from Marineland to replenish the good bacteria.-Chuck>

Oscar Problems - Chuck out..
What caused this infection and how can I prevent it from coming back?
P.S. I greatly appreciate the advice, these are my first Oscars I got them from PetSmart when they were about 1 1/2" long. Thank you again - Mike
<<Mike, this is Marina here. Chuck has marked himself out, so I'm going to offer a follow-up. I've looked at your procedure, and noted that you appear to have "cycled" the tank without any fish or source of ammonia. This means that there could have been no nitrifying bacteria present, it would be impossible to culture these without that source of food (search our site on freshwater cycling). THAT means that ammonia and other nitrogenous wastes hit toxic (and I do mean TOXIC) levels very quickly, thus inducing omnipresent disease organisms to gain a foothold. Therefore, the good husbandry mentioned by Chuck is a MUST, and do make further use of our site. Search using the Google tool or however you like on Freshwater fishes, Oscars, etc. Also, PLEASE, for future reference (and as the one who will likely be editing) we kindly ask that all emails please be sent using proper capitalization and punctuation. This saves the rest of us volunteers a great deal of time, as all messages are archived. Thank you, Marina>>
Oscar Problems
Hi, I just bought 2 baby tiger Oscars 4 or 5 days ago. They seemed fine when I saw them at Petco and when I put them in their new 10 gallon home. I have a plecostomus too. These past 2 days my tiger Oscars have been acting strange...I'm feeding them "Oscar bites" (micro pellets) and they're only eating one pellet each. The pellets just lay on the rocks and in the holes of the filter. 
Another problem I have is that both of them lay together on their sides against the gravel in a corner of the tank. not only do they lay on their side, but they swim sideways too. Oh my gosh!!! I love these fish already and I'm so worried about them. What do you suggest I do? Thanks- Jasmine
< Change 30% of the water, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the water temp and make sure it is up around 80 degrees F. Only feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Siphon out the rest of the uneaten food. Hopefully they will be normal in a couple of days. If there still is a problem then they may have an internal bacterial infection and need to be treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

Oscar Problems
Hi Bob, I am coming to my wits end, I have a tiger Oscar which i purchased over 12 months ago (already an adult at 12 inches therefore i have no idea on the age of the fish). He had a scrape down his side measuring about an inch in length by about 1/4 inch which has never healed ( given to him by the guys
at LFS transferring him to the bucket for transportation home ). About 14 days ago now he started swimming erratically, swimming downward in a spiral and then generally losing the ability to stay upright coming to the surface and listing toward one side. I suspected he might have a swim bladder problem
so used Interpet's swim bladder treatment. I have now come  to the end of this course, and although he seemed to show an initial improvement this was short-lived and now he is becoming more lethargic and has taken to hiding behind an ornament that helps him stay upright, he also lost his appetite for about 36 hours but has eaten small amounts in the last 48 hours. Other than these symptoms, he has no other signs of any illness. I did a 50% water change and allowed 24 hrs to remove meds with carbon and a poly filter, i have now gone to day 3 of an 8 day course of anti-internal bacteria treatment by Interpet thinking that this may be the problem ? He is in a 200 litre tank with 2 apple snails ammonia at 0.1ppm (messy fish hard to get to zero) nitrite 0ppm nitrate <5ppm  Ph 7 (hard to make exact colour on card but with daylight behind me most closely approximates this colour. I have a Rena xp2 canister filter and 3 weeks ago also added a Fluval 304 in a further effort to reduce ammonia to zero. there are no plants only the plastic aquaria friendly type and about 1 1/2 inches of gravel and finally an air pump driven air tube for oxygenation of the water - oh and a powerhead for even further circulation. Am i jumping in with too many meds or do you have any further suggestions ? Oh 1 more thing i added Aqualibrium salt to a dose of 0.1% according to the dosage table on the box however this was right at the start of the treatment so is probably reduced to 50% of that dose because of the water change . . . .  Love your site and take your
information as the Gospel according to WWM :)
Thanks Trevor in Blackpool England ( your meds are difficult to acquire here )
<Your fish has an internal bacterial infection. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. Now that the tank is clean you should treat the disease with one of three things. The first choice would be Metronidazole. Second choice would be clout. The third choice would be Nitrofuranace at double strength. All these medications can be found online at DrsFosterSmith.com-Chuck>

Spots on Tiger Oscars
Hi guys, Firstly top web site very informative and I'm happy to say that I seem to be doing everything correctly. My question is this. I have noticed two small reddish brown spots on one fin of one of my tiger Oscars (I have two at about 3" long and two albino's at 4" long). I have seen lots of reference to white spot / Ich and have had to treat for this in the past, but learned my lesson well. I have not been able to find any info about brown / red spots.
The Oscars behaviour seems to be absolutely normal, active eating well etc.
What could this be? Do I have anything to worry about? Many thanks in advance guys, look forward to getting your answer.
Mick Hawkes Southsea UK
< Could be bacterial or could be normal coloration. Do a 30% water change and clean the filters and vacuum the gravel. Check the water chemistry to make sure all is OK. If the spots get bigger and it appears to be a bacterial infection then treat with Nitrofurazone as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Dear WWM Crew, I have written in the past regarding an "upside down" Oscar, who is still alive, but seemingly not well.  I strongly believe that he has permanent swim bladder damage b/c he does not float and has been on his side at the bottom of the tank for some time now.  
< The swim bladder in cichlids is an open system in which the fish can change the size depending on depth and conditions. Deep water rift lake cichlids take a few days do decompress like divers from deeper waters. The valve that controls this can become infected and close permanently. It appears your Oscar is in this category.>
In addition, there is a permanent small distended area around his rectal area, which can vary slightly in size.
< It appears there is or was a definite internal infection with your Oscar> 
I clean the tank one a week (30 gal.) and use Epsom salt each time because it seems to help keep the distention at bay.  I have not tried any other treatments.
< The damage is already done and he will probably not get any better>
He still eats very well and can swim, although only with major effort and tires so quickly that I often end up pushing the food toward him to help.  It is very upsetting to see him in this state and I worry that he his suffering.  I've considered Euthanizing and you have suggested that freezing is the most humane, but I don't see how since he will be removed from the tank he has resided in for several years and placed in a dark place that get progressively colder.  Perhaps, I'm thinking too much (my husband complaint).  Any suggestions?
< Your fish will probably not get any better. If you want to try to save him you can get some medicated food with Metronidazole in it. Feed it to him for a couple of days, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel to get rid of the built up waste. Raise the water temperature to 82 degrees. Repeat the medicated food in a week. It probably will not work since your Oscar is a few years old and only live a couple of years in the wild. An Oscar that is "several years old" probably has his best years behind him. To euthanize you fish I would take some water out of the aquarium and place it in a small bucket with just enough water to cover the top of him. Place a few Alka-Seltzer's?) tablets in the bucket. The kind you get at the drug store for headaches. The tablets will foam when they hit the water and put out Co2 gas. This will put him to sleep. He will still be breathing but will be unconscious. Then put him in a plastic fish bag with some of the water from the bucket and place him in the freezer. The cold will slowly kill him and you can then dispose of him. -Chuck>
Re: Oscar
Chuck, Thanks so much for your reply.  I do want to clarify that I have in the past tried to medicate. This condition has been an issue for almost a year now and the last time I was in contact with your awesome crew, he seemed to show promise after the initial Epsom salt treatment, he was even floating on his own. However, not too long after he took a sudden turn for the worse and has never recovered! He is over five years old at this point.  Anyway, thanks for your advice. Would you agree that he would be better off in the Seltzer-seltzer bath at this point?
< That is probably best for both you and the fish. A new fish active in your tank would also be much more entertaining and make things much easier to take care of. Hopefully another cichlid since they are a personal favorite of mine. Good luck -Chuck> Thanks much. Best, Kim

Epsom salt treatment 9/2/03
Good morning. Another follow-up on our Oscar. Since my first email below, we gratefully took your awesome advice (as it turns out) and treated Oscar with the Epsom salt twice along with a water change. The good news is that he's had a couple successful (and quite healthy) bowel movements and the swelling on his belly is more or less gone.
<excellent and as hoped/expected>
Naturally, we are thrilled. The only problem now is that he is now laying on the bottom of tank.
<very common with even healthy Oscars at times... in time will improve>
That is, he's not upside down, but flat on his side (his poor eyeball!).
<Heehee... truly not uncommon at all>
However, with what seems like a ton of effort he will swim to the top of the tank to get food (no more hand feeding with wooden skewers), but as soon as he gives up trying he sinks.  
<stress or damage to swim bladder... may heal in time.>
Any thoughts on this?  Can they lose their ability to swim
if either the swim bladder was affected for too long or haven't been swimming? If so, will he ever swim again or will he be doomed to the bottom of the tank for the rest of his life?   Thanks in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from you.  
<we cannot say for certain... but Oscars are amazingly resilient. I think it is more likely he will recover in time. Wishing you the best, Anthony>

VERY Sick Oscar
>First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this...but I will get right into it.  
>>Greetings, you're welcome (it's what we're here for), and we do appreciate brevity.  ;)
>I have 2 Oscars (one white tiger and one classic tiger).  I have had them for maybe 4 months and I have been very active in their environment.  They have been growing very quickly and were very healthy until recently.  Let me give you some background.  The classic tiger has always been the bigger of the two and now is maybe 6 inches head to tail.  This one is very strong and healthy.  The white tiger is maybe 4.5 - 5 inches in length and was always more active but is now very sick.
>>To be expected with the kind of breeding necessary to achieve amelanistic animals.
>I regularly do partial (15%) water changes and test my water very often.  All of my levels are perfect.  They are in a 55 gallon tank for right now, but I'll be getting a larger tank very soon.
At first they were only getting fed feeder fish and frozen bloodworms.
>>Nix the feeders, ASAP.  They're a fantastic way to introduce disease, and NOT at all nutritious, even if you gut-load.  Bloodworms are fine, but not as a staple.
>They were doing fine and growing very rapidly.  Now here is the problem.  The white tiger almost looks like it's falling apart.  It shows signs of fin rot but also has a loss of appetite and stays laying in the gravel until it wants to eat.  This has been going on for maybe 3 days.  Today it is swimming but only using one pectoral fin and looks very labored.  The other symptom....its skin almost looks like it's peeling like its loosing its scales.  Aside from this, the Oscar is not exhibiting any other symptoms (as far as erratic behavior, or physical marks).  Like I said, the environment is perfect the water is very stable and the other tiger is very healthy.  My local aquatics expert told me that it may be a nutritional problem and recommended cycle and mixing up their diet as far as greenery, brine, cichlid pellets etc...
and try to stay away from feeder fish.  I love these Oscars like part of the family and would hate to see the white tiger become fatal.  So if you can help me, it would be greatly appreciated.
>>Your local expert is correct.  In nature they would be eating a variety of foods that would rival our own (which is why, in the wild, they're *very* good eating).  This would include bugs, fruit, whatever other wild fish they can find, so on and so forth.  This is what I recommend; get a container, 30 gallons should be sufficient, and remove the white Oscar to it.  This is going to be your hospital tank.  You will need nothing more than a sponge filter and a heater.  If the fish still eats, feed him mealworms, bits of overripe fruit, the cichlid pellets (soak them in a good supplement, we use Selcon for salties), while keeping up with many large water changes.  (Large is on the order of 50% or better.)  He sounds as though he's succumbing to bacterial infection, so I want you to add sea/aquarium salt at the ratio of 1T/gallon.  This will do two things--it will relieve the difference in osmotic pressure, making certain life processes easier, and it will boost the effects of antibiotics.  I want you to start him on a regimen of Melafix (you can also use Maracyn--I or II, but you're going for a broad spectrum antibiotic here).  This is the reason for the large water changes, because any nitrifying bacteria in the sponge filter won't survive antibiotic treatments well.  Keep the container dimly lit, but not dark.  I do hope this gets to you in time, let me know what happens.  Marina

Oscar and Myxosoma?
I have searched the archives and have found very little information about this. From what I have read, I suspect that my Oscar may have this "whirling disease". He has stopped eating for the last week or so. I normally do weekly water changes of about 15%. Because of his symptoms, I have done three water changes during the last week totaling probably about 60% I have been using Melafix for the last few days , but have seen no changes. He is breathing heavy, mouth opening and closing. The other fish in the tank (2 large tinfoil barbs and a Synodontis cat) remain normal.
During the day when I'm not home, I don't suspect that he is doing the whirling thing because there is no water on the floor. At night when the lights are on, he will do the quick, one full turn around action, often splashing water out of the tank. This goes on every few minutes while I'm watching. I have done some research on the web and found that infected fish will often do the whirl when they are startled or fed (connection with the lights?). Almost no info exists on this disease in Oscars, some in reference to Discus, but most are about Salmon and Trout. There are no references to a cure. One site even said to "immediately euthanize the infected fish and all other inhabitants and sanitize the tank...there is no cure!" ...and that was a discus site! Heck, I don't think I'd get too attached to a salmon or a trout, but Oscar is family! Do you think that this is what I'm up against? Do you have any information on this and a
possible cure? I hate seeing this graceful creature suffer like this.
<I am sorry it took me a while to get back with you! I also had problems finding treatments for this disease.  This seems to be fairly rare infection in a warm water climate.  Myxobolus cerebralis is the parasite you're dealing with, and it seems to find it's host initially in Tubifex worms.  I think the following course of action is in order: Quarantine the Oscar in a sanitized tank.  By medicating your other fish, you're putting additional stress on their environment.  Keep his water in the QT changed as much as you can, and feed him lighter than normal.  You may want to contact the nice folks at http://www.whirling-disease.org/ for more suggestions.  I have a friend who is a toxicologist for the Department of Fish and Game- I'll forward your email and see if he has treatment ideas as well.  Sorry I can't be of more help! Ryan>
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.
- Oscar and Myxosoma? -
I have searched the archives and have found very little information about this. From what I have read, I suspect that my Oscar may have this "whirling disease". He has stopped eating for the last week or so. I normally do weekly water changes of about 15%. Because of his symptoms, I have done three water changes during the last week totaling probably about 60% I have been using Melafix for the last few days, but have seen no changes. He is breathing heavy, mouth opening and closing. The other fish in the tank (2 large tinfoil barbs and a Synodontis cat) remain normal. During the day when I'm not home, I don't suspect that he is doing the whirling thing because there is no water on the floor. At night when the lights are on, he will do the quick, one full turn around action, often splashing water out of the tank. This goes on every few minutes while I'm watching. I have done some research on the web and found that infected fish will often do the whirl when they are startled or fed (connection with the lights?). Almost no info exists on this disease in Oscars, some in reference to Discus, but most are about Salmon and Trout. <This is where it occurs most often... is bad news in aquaculture, in fact is a 'reportable' disease in the US because its spores can live in the mud for up to a year, and even survive being dried out.> There are no references to a cure. <Not really, is a seriously debilitating disease [cartilage is destroyed] and can only be addressed by making sure breeding systems/raceways are cleaned/disinfected.> One site even said to "immediately euthanize the infected fish and all other inhabitants and sanitize the tank...there is no cure!" ...and that was a discus site! Heck, I don't think I'd get too attached to a salmon or a trout, but Oscar is family! <I hear you.> Do you think that this is what I'm up against? <A possibility, a co-symptom of whirling disease is a black tail, so you might look for that too.> Do you have any information on this and a possible cure? <I have information, but none about 'curing' this problem in adult fish. Because it is a parasite of cartilage, it is very hard to treat directly.> I hate seeing this graceful creature suffer like this. <I'm sorry I don't have better news. I'd keep up the observation... perhaps Oscar has just learned a new trick and is trying to get your blood pressure up. Let's both hope for the best.>
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.
<Cheers, J -- >

Tiger Oscar problems
Good Afternoon,
<And the same to you! Ryan here>
I have just finished reading several of the letters on your website and learned a lot! <Great! Don't stop there!>  I learned that first off my 55 gallon tank is to small for my community (1 tiger Oscar, 1 Pleco, 2 Dempsey.) All have been living together however for over 6 years. <Sounds good.>
The problem I am currently having I have never encountered before. My Oscar which is the
oldest at 6 years old has suddenly developed an unusually large extended abdomen on
both sides of his body. <Sounds like bloat without seeing it. Do you have the resources available to quarantine the fish. What is he eating daily? Is it varied?>  If I had to guess I would say that he is constipated. He is eating everyday like normal and the other fish appear normal. I am planning on moving in the next week so I was avoiding doing a 25% water change just to have to break the whole tank down
in less than two weeks anyway. <OK...I'd probably do for safe measure.>  I have not had a chance to check the water yet, I will do that today. <Let us know the results...bloat can be correlated to water quality.> I have read some sites that suggest a diet change. <Not a bad idea-> The symptoms appeared about a week ago. Any suggestions as to what could be wrong with my baby. <Not without more info...change his diet/lessen his food intake.  Quarantine him if possible.  Test that water, and get back to us.  If you can get a digital photo, I'd be happy to take a look and give you my best guess!  Take care!>
Michele Cooper
Tiger Oscar Problems
Good Afternoon,
<and the same to you, Michelle.  Ryan with you again!>
I have watched my Oscar after 3 days since the 25% water change I made. <Good, observation is the single most important part of this hobby!>
Although one side of him appears to have gone down the other side is still quite distended and he has not been fed in 3 days.<Eek.  Keep with it.>  The other fish in my tank are eating small cichlid crumbles just fine but he is not interested in eating that. <Have you tried other things?  Bloodworms?  I would even try live foods at this point, just get something down him.> I have not fed him the cichlid pellets. I read on your website from another letter something about using Epson salt. What do you advise about that? <It can work wonders, but I'm not sure it's the right solution for your problem.> I am unable to send a picture of him at this time. Any other suggestions? Again I will be moving in 2 day and the whole tank will be broke down and setup again. <Moving the tank is going to be a stress in itself- Use this opportunity to quarantine him.  I would try the Epsom salts about three days into quarantine if he hasn't improved.  Do you notice dark nodules appearing on his scales?  Is he swimming in a controlled manner?  Watch for signs of Popeye, or swimming in circles. Internal fungal infections can cause fluid in the stomach- not much you can really do.  Just give him time, care, patience.  -Ryan>  
Thanks for your help,

5 yr. old Oscar & Plecostomus
I have a 55 gallon tank with a red Oscar and a Plecostomus which are both at least five years old. The Oscar is about 10 inches long and the Plecostomus is about a foot long. The Oscar looks as if it's pregnant. It is blotted and has clear looking eggs coming out right  under his stomach. I know that this is not possible but I have seen fish eggs and that's what it looks like. It's not acting any different, but I'm worried about the clear eggs coming out. Please help me. We have had them so long I would hate for anything to happen to them.
< I think your Oscar has an internal bacterial infection and the infection has caused the gut to swell and prolapse part of the intestine and rectum. Treat with Metronidazole and follow the directions on the package. The fact that he is still eating is a good sign.-Chuck>

My big fishy
Hi Bob,
My girlfriend and I have an Oscar that has had pop eye for at least three weeks.  It started with the one eye and now the other eye is beginning to bulge.  He is eating very little, if at all.  We have him isolated in a separate tank (none of the other fish have any symptoms).  We have been treating him with Maracyn Two and have completed the second treatment, but it seems he is getting worse.  White spots have appeared on his body.  Should we continue with treatment?  Switch the treatment?  What could this possibly be?  HELP!
Please let us know if it is time to say good-bye.
< Pop-eye is caused by bacteria growing behind the eye socket. Metronidazole will treat the pop-eye and rid-Ich by Kordon will treat the white spots if he has Ich. Do a 30% water change and keep the water at 80 degrees F and clean the filter. Follow the directions on the packages. These medications may affect the good bacteria that break down the fish waste so check the water quality often during treatment. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm.-Chuck>
Thanks much!!

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