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FAQs on Oscar Parasitic Disease/Health 

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Oscars and Hexamita      1/31/17
Hello, i have had so much of a problem with Oscars and i hear they are supposedly hearty fish.
<Sort of. While they're big, they're also notoriously sensitive to water quality. This is true for most big cichlids. Virtually all problems with Oscars come down to poor environment or poor diet. Often a combination of both.>
I used to have 2, 3 inch Oscars one was a black and red tiger Oscar and the other is an albino.
<Used to have...? What happened to them...?>
I have/had them in a large hexagonal tank, when i got the tank i didn't know how many gallons it was cause it was donated to me. So, i took measurements of it and found out its a 20 gallon even though it looks bigger than just 20 gallons.
<Regardless of appearances, 20 gallons is MUCH TOO SMALL even for three inch long Oscars. Once they get past the "fry" stage, Oscars are jumbo fish. I'd be looking at 55 gallons, minimum, for juvenile Oscars; adults
should be provided with at least twice that.>
Last spring i got the Oscars to fill the tank and i love them very much except a couple weeks after i got the Oscars the tiger Oscar (his name was Julius Caesar) developed Hexamita on his left gill that just kept going and going until it ate down his lateral line and completely through his tail.
<Absolutely typical reaction to poor environment. Now, the thing here is that while everyone focuses on ammonia and nitrite (with an "i"), with cichlids, nitrate (with an "a") is the silent killer. Cichlids are extremely sensitive to nitrate. Because Oscars are big, greedy feeders the nitrate level in their tanks can go up very quickly. Anything above 20 mg/l
is stressful, and anything above 40 mg/l will make them sick. A big tank dilutes nitrate, while substantial weekly water changes removes nitrate.>
It infested his jaw so bad that when he died he didn't have a lower jaw left, i felt so bad for that fish. When i went to my very informed fish store owner who has had and sold fish for more than 20 years he recommended to me that i use Metronidazole, it was MetroPlex by SeaChem. a little bit in a bottle for 16 crappy dollars that didn't do anything to help my poor Julius.
<Metronidazole is the correct medication. However, it will not do anything if the environment is wrong
. It's kind of like trying to treat someone for burns without pulling him out of the fire.>
I treated that fish just about the entire time i had him. Up until about two weeks before he died (this went on for 6 months) he had a healthy appetite, had bright colors, wasn't swimming around erratically and bumping into the tank out side of the regular symptom of Hexamita where they will swim backwards or lay on their side and he would only use the one effected gill sometimes.
Some days id wake up and look at him and he wouldn't use it at all and then the next day he would be using it again. I did regular water changes and gravel vacs i tried MelaFix and PimaFix both were completely useless
<In this situation, yes, useless.>
but i ended up using all of it anyway because it seemed to help with their gill flapping a little bit , the store owner recommended to me that i separate the fish because they would contaminate each other, and i used the MetroPlex and Metronidazole treated food except none of it made the one Oscar better. I didn't have the space to separate them so i just kept them together instead of getting rid of the other one because i figured treating them both would help keep the other from getting infected also (i am too attached to these fish) but the albino Oscar never showed any symptoms or
had any problems.
<Oscars are inbred now, and there is variation among strains, some being tougher than others. Luck comes into play too, and being territorial, non-sociable fish, dominant fish will stress other fish kept with them, weakening their immune systems. So one fish getting sick while another stays healthy isn't unusual.>
He wasn't getting the hex his fins were nice he is bright and active all the time never had any Finrot or PopEye or constipation always has a good appetite. Except now he has been alone in the hexagon tank since September
2016 and its now January. I stopped the treatment of Julius two weeks before he died because he stopped eating completely the medicine wasn't helping and i didn't have the stomach to euthanize him myself, i cant handle killing with my own hand.
The week he died i was sick home from school and i remember watching him lay on the bottom and his gills just stopped flapping so i took him outside a buried him with a little gravestone and a small tree.
<Oh dear.>
However now the last day of January 2017 i noticed the albino Oscar has similar Hexamita pits by his but hole on his side and some very small holes on his head, they look different like somebody took a pencil and poked holes clean through my Oscars head, they aren't sores they're holes. He still has a good appetite. And looks/acts well, i removed the common Pleco and all the tank decor a week ago because i though they might be the source of my Oscars wounds, but the wounds haven't gotten better only bigger.
<You should not be keeping Oscars and Plecs together, certainly not in such a small tank. Plecs add substantially to water quality problems, and in some cases they will scrape at the mucous from large cichlids, causing physical damage and stressing the fish.>
Iv been doing small gravel vacs and water changes every couple of days. Not a 30% change but just a jug that i had it take about 5% of the water out and i just fill that with whatever i can get from the gravel every day or two.i feed my Oscars what ever fish food i have, i don't have a scheduled and marked calendar diet for them but they get a variety of food that being frozen brine shrimp, baby brine shrimp, live brine shrimp, krill, very little bloodworms, Hikari cichlid gold pellets, metro soaked pellets, wax worms, crickets, and sometimes flake food, and peas once in a while, I gave them
some cooked tilapia once too but it was a long time ago and im going out today to get him some live black worms and some ghost shrimp. I use test strips to test the water, ammonia and nitrites are always at 0 ph is 7, the water that runs from my tap is hard water but it has no chlorine.
<The fundamentals of the way you're keeping this fish are right, but I fear tank size is the killer here.>
The water is a little more alkaline than it is acidic, its was at 7.6 that last time i tested except i lost my job and have no more test strips so i have no idea where its as of this very moment The nitrates fluctuate a lot sometimes i find they are really high(which i then do a larger water change) and sometimes i find they'll be really low.
<See above why this matters.>
To put it at an average id say about 25-30 ppm. I have a 40 gal filter on it that has carbon filter pads in it (i would remove the carbon when treating my Oscars) and a light, i live in a very warm room and between the light and my room warmth with the sun by my window anytime i put my fingers in the tank the water is comfortably warm.
<Oscars are tropical fish, and exposure to low temperatures is quickly lethal. Anything below 22 C/72 F should be treated as dangerously low.>
I have an air stone that i rotate between my 5 gal my 10 gal my 2, 20 gals and a 75 gal that houses two very large jack Dempseys i have had fish for 4 years now and all of my tanks are established through the filter cycle.
Please help the fish store owner got stumped and told me i should euthanize Julius before he died and now my last Oscar is starting to get sick and i don't know what to do cause iv started using the metro soaked food and the sores on my albino are only getting bigger with every dose just like Julius had and i don't want to lose my Oscar. He is the light of my bedroom i fall asleep every night watching him swim.
<The 75 gallon tank is where the Oscars need to be!>
Could it be something wrong with the tank?
<Yes; it's too small.>
Is it possible Hexamita can be a genetic thing?
<Nope. Nitrate above 20 mg/l is a problem, and unless you're doing daily water changes, it's unlikely you can keep nitrate that low with one or two Oscar juveniles in a 20 gallon tank. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Oscars and Hexamita      2/3/17

Thank you Neale for your advice.
Ill put the Oscar in with the jack Dempseys and see how they get along
<Wouldn't hold out much hope here. Adult JDs can/will pulverise juvenile Oscars if they feel their territory is being encroached. Oscars are not really "fighters" outside of breeding, whereas JDs can be extremely territorial. Not always, but often. I'd be watching these fish very carefully. I'd remove the JDs first, rearrange the tank so territories are
broken up, add the Oscars, turn the lights out, leave it like that for half an hour at least, then re-introduce the JDs. Standard operating practise with territorial cichlids, really.>
and if they don't like each other ill get him a bigger tank
<Do suspect this is on the cards; I'd start looking now! Cheers, Neale.>

Strange Oscar Problem.     3/4/16
Hello, I have a Red Oscar in a 70 gallon aquarium, he recently developed a weird skin condition that looks almost like he was rolled around in salt. It doesn't look like any aquarium disease that I have ever encountered
before. The strangest part is that his behaviors haven't changed much if at all. He will still eat just as much and he is not lethargic at all, especially when he is running away from his tank mate. Any help would be much appreciated.
<Whitespot/Ick or Velvet. Find a medication for these and treat accordingly. Remember to remove carbon before using any medication. FWIW, Whitespot/Ick tends to look like salt grains, Velvet more like powdered
sugar, often with a golden sheen. Both usually follow on after adding a new tankmate, which includes feeders (which you shouldn't be using, and hope aren't, but it's worth mentioning just in case). Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Oscars, feeders...      11/20/12
We have two Oscars.  One is a Tiger Oscar the other is an Albino Tiger Oscar.  They are both about 6 months old.  We got them at the same time, when they were about the size of a quarter each.  They have been absolutely fine and we love them.  We have a 90 gallon tank and we keep it impeccably clean!  Nitrates - 0,
<Do you mean nitrites? With an "I"? Nitrates, NO3... are, what?>
Ammonia - 0, PH good.  We vacuum their poop out every weekend and I check water quality daily with test strips.  Last weekend we did the normal gravel clean and poop vacuuming and adding of new fresh conditioned water. 
We did remove two coral decorations, as they Oscars are getting larger and they are skinning themselves on it while attempting to chase feeder fish. 
<Aye yi, yi... VERY dangerous to feed such... these are assured vectors of infectious and parasitic diseases. Read here:

and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscarfdgfaqs.htm
Sunday night when I turned on the room light, the fish thrashed and flipped and flopped and went crazy in the tank.  They scrapped themselves on the gravel and knocked large hunks out of their heads!  I went to the aquarium and looked at them and I thought they were sleeping, because they have a dazed look.  I shut off light and left them alone.  Next morning, they did the same thing!  I checked the quality of the water and it checked perfect, as always.  We went to work.  Husband came home and noon to check on them and said they seemed lethargic, so he gave them a few feeders
and put one of the coral formations back in the tank, thinking that they missed it and were throwing a fit (???).  Monday when we got home from work, they seemed better, but hiding behind the coral formation.  I again checked the water and it was great.  Temperature about 78 degrees.  Last night in the middle of the night, it was dark in the house, I turned on the room light and they did it again!  Thrashed around, splashed water all over, thrashed around like having convulsions.  I do not know what is wrong with them!  I called my local pet stores / aquarium store and investigated online.  All stories relate to problems with water.  That is not an issue here.
Could it be the feeder fish?
<Ah yes>
  We got a fresh batch on Sunday and the crazy symptoms started then.  The feeders seems very healthy.
<They are not. I am an old timey fish health/pathology speaker/presenter at college workshops... and have used "feeders" for decades as stock dissection specimens... they always have substantial pathogen loads>

  Their water is checked constantly as well, with no nitrates and no ammonia.
Any ideas what is going on?
<Yes; likely a few Protozoans, perhaps some alimentary worms, even some secondary infectious agents... You should peruse WWM re Oscar Diseases... they're all covered on the site... you'll have to treat for each/all... and give up re-introducing disease causing agents via live feeders>
 Could they be mating at 6 months old?  I have decided to dump the feeder fish out of an abundance of caution and withhold  food completely for a day or so and see if symptoms go away.  I read somewhere to try feeding them green peas.
What do you suggest?   Please write back with any comments or helpful suggestions.  We are stumped.
Thanks so much!
Joanie Clendenning
<... start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/OscarDisF12.htm
the linked (category) FAQs above... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Oscars

Thank you so much.   My husband went home and noon to check on Oscar and Edgar and they have stopped eating the feeder fish.  He gave dry pellets and Edgar ate, but Oscar is very finicky and spit it out.  I'll try other things tonight when I get home.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!
<Welcome... but do read where you've been referred... BobF>
Re: Sick Oscars     11/20/12

Yes, I am checking that all out right now.  Thanks again!
<Real good. B>

Sick Oscar - Internal Parasites?  2/14/12
I have 2 tiger Oscars living in a 125 gallon aquarium that I've had since September. I set my aquarium up in July and I wanted a big enough tank for two Oscars. One of the two Oscars has grown considerably since I bought him and is doing really well. The other Oscar, however, looks undersized, thin, and has not shown the rate of growth that his partner has. The size difference between the two Oscars (I bought the smaller one first about a week apart from his partner) is becoming very noticeable.
I feed both Oscars high-quality food like frozen Hikari bloodworms, frozen Hikari brine shrimp, Hikari bio gold pellets, algae disks, shrimp, crickets, etc. I have never fed my Oscars anything like raw meat or beef heart. I thought the smaller Oscar's growth may have been inhibited by the water parameters. I used the API kit to test the water but the water is stable with 0ppm for Ammonia and Nitrate. I do a 30% - 50% water change weekly and have tons of filtration: Fluval FX5, Rena XP3, aqua clear 110, & Fluval 405.
I noticed my smaller Oscar wasn't well when he showed little growth despite his appetite. White, stringy fecal matter hangs from him but he swims around fine, does not sit at the bottom of the tank, and shows no signs of stress. The smaller Oscar's partner has never had white fecal matter and no other fish in the tank do either. I have not gotten any new fish in almost three months and everyone else seems healthy. I have a small group of clown loaches (7 of them) with the Oscars that have grown quite a bit since I got them in July and are doing really well.
I went to the pet store about three weeks ago and the guy working there said the smaller Oscar probably has internal parasites and recommended treating with Melafix. I began dosing with Melafix in mid-January for a week without changing the water (the instructions said not to), did not dose for a week and changed the water, and dosed for a week again. I've also tried tablets like the API general cure with no success, the Jungle Parasite cure, and now I'm trying Seachem's Garlic Guard and soaking the Oscar's food in it...with still no results.
Despite trying several different forms of treatment, white fecal matter continues to hang from the smaller Oscar after he eats. I'm extremely worried about my Oscar and was wondering if you have any advice about how I can best treat him? I don't know what kind of parasite he has but it seems to be affecting his growth and I want to get rid of it before his condition worsens. I've tried finding information on other websites and was thinking about trying Seachem's "Paraguard" but I don't know if that would be effective or not. If you know of a particular type of medication/brand/flake food to try I'm willing to do that in order to prevent other possible outbreaks. I've never had to deal with a disease/infection this bad before and I don't know what else to do.
Also, could my smaller Oscar suffer any long-term effects from parasites?
He hasn't grown as much as he should and I don't want him to be stunted for the rest of his life. Worse yet, I don't want his internal organs to be compromised if he isn't able to grow.
I've been trying to feed my Oscar high protein sinking pellets (Xtreme 'big fella' cichlid food) in hopes that he will start to recover and grow. If he has a parasite, it's been extremely difficult to get rid of and I want to help him before it's too late.
Any help and advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
<Hello Ariel. Treat with Metronidazole, available in aquarium shops in the US or from a vet elsewhere. Follow the instructions, and ideally, medicate food rather than adding to water (this second approach is much less effective). The random medications you've been using thus far don't have much/any effect on intestinal tract parasites such as Hexamita, which is my guess with what's causing your problems here. Oscars are notoriously plagued with Hexamita parasites thanks to the intensive farming when produced and the indifferent care they receive at most aquarium shops.
Non-zero nitrate levels will make things worse, so even if water quality is otherwise good (0 ammonia and nitrite) do be sure to keep nitrate levels below 20 mg/l. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscars and some sort of parasite infestation! (fish lice)? <<Not>>
Parasites On Oscars   3/17/10

I've been a long time reader of your website and usually I've had enough information from previous articles or questions and email answers from you guys and gals to solve any problems that I've encountered on this journey
into the fish world I've taken. However, currently I've run across something that I can't quite get a grasp of to fix and would like your input.
I've had these 2 Oscars in a 75 gallon tank for the last 5 years and have normally been very active and playful and decorative for a lack of better term. (Thank tank never keeps its current layout very long they change it almost monthly it seems) Lately though they've been a bit lazy and don't swim around as much. They still have an appetite and are very energetic when its feeding time though!
The problem is that they started rubbing on things and it got to a point to where they would rub gouges in their scales on their head and front areas.
One night I finally got a closer look at them and they have these little specs all over them, and at first I thought it may just have been some sort of dirt but as I looked closer I noticed the dirt specs crawled around. So I looked around at your website and searched around for pictures of the only thing I could guess it was based on symptoms (fish lice) and couldn't see many pictures that matched it. I read a few of your email answers about fish lice in fresh water and have started a treatment of clout tablets. Its only been 2 days and it says its a 4 day treatment (one dose wait 48 hours re dose, wait 48 hours and do a 25% water change). I followed those instructions and my re dose is later today and I thought that maybe the little bug things (fish lice?) should be dying by now!
The parasites are less in number but still seem to be hanging on the Oscars. The other concern is that I didn't think they may be fish lice just because all the stories I read about them, was them burrowing under the scales and these look more like little spider things on top of the scales just randomly crawling around. They're staying mostly towards the front of the fish there are few if any past the gills of the fish and most are on the head.
I've attached a couple of pictures that I hope can help you aid me in telling me what they are.
Here are my current tank stats if I manage to leave something out please ask if you need it and I'll get it ASAP. I just ran these tests 5 min ago. pH: between 7.4-7.8 Its probably higher than you guys would like to see but its kind of the water card that I've been dealt and the Oscars have lived in it for 5 years now with no problems thus far.
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: Between 0 and 5.0 ppm
Copper: 0 ppm
Phosphate: Between 2.0 and 5.0 ppm
I also am not sure if the phosphate level is normal or acceptable because there's little reference to a normal level of phosphate in a tank. The pictures look a little bit drastic because of the massive amount of the parasites on the fish, but a lot of them are just loosely on there as soon as I feed them or come towards the tank any remotely fast movement shakes most of them off. I had to sit there very patiently for 10 minutes to get the fish to calm down enough to get these shots. The albino Oscar always has more of the infestation on it than the tiger Oscar does and I also don't know why that is.
Anyhow, sorry for the long email but I would greatly appreciate any help.
If the clout treatment is the correct way to go then it's already in progress and I suppose I'm just not patient enough to wait for the results!
I worry about them though. Thanks, Patrick Stockton
< Sometimes the parasites bury into the fishes flesh. This makes them harder to treat and it takes longer to kill them. Follow the directions on the package and continue medicating as directed. They could have come in with feeder goldfish. Elevating the water temp to 80 F will hasten the lice's life cycle. If this medication does not work then I have had good success with Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck><<Looks more like Hexamita to RMF. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FWHLLECauses.htm
and the linked files above>>

Re: More re: Oscars and some sort of parasite infestation! (fish lice)?
Feeding Mealworms to Oscars – 03/20/10
I do have a question though. I don't feed my Oscars any sort of feeder fish and its been at least a year since the introduction of any new fish into my tank so I was wondering where the parasite might have come from? I feed
them meal worms from time to time as a treat, is it possible that one of those could have brought the parasite to the tank?
Thanks again, Patrick
< Mealworms will not introduce parasites. They are fine to feed your Oscars. Just not too often as they are very fatty.-Chuck>

Oscar anus "hole" problem 11/12/08
I have a 75 gallon tank with 2 Oscars,2 Dempsey's (which I', rehoming), 2 clown loaches and a Pleco.  I've have them all for about 6 months. About 2 months ago I noticed 1 of the Oscars started having this weird looking thing happening to his anus.. just thought he was constipated.  They are on a pretty good diet, they eat hgh pellets, crickets, frozen brine shrimp, peas, blood worms and some insects.  My water has been checked and all was good. I do 25% weekly water changes and gravel vacs. I clean my filter. They have bubbles.  So I started to add Melafix to the water to see if that would help his anus problem but it did not, it just continued to enlarge to the point of a hole and you can see inside now. Its like white tissue, redness, swelling and a hole.. he poops fine, except I have noticed white slime on the poop.  He shows no other signs of illness.  I went to my Aquarium shop and treated with parasite tabs for I believe 5 days.. kind of looked a little better.. so I stopped hoping it would completely heal up.. never did. Went back, now they told me to try Rally.  Did this for 6 days with almost no improvement, no carbon and only 1 water change and vac, it spiked my ammonia up to .50. Did a 85% water and vac yesterday and put my carbon back in and now am trying Mardel Maracyn Plus.  I now notice my Dempsey has a white thing happening in his anus area also!  Please help! I have no idea what going on.. just want them to get better!!
<Hi Nelly. Without a photo, it's difficult to be 100% sure, but I'm fairly sure this is an anal prolapse. This is where the rectum becomes infected, expands, and pushes out of the vent. Provided the fish is still feeding, the chances of recovery are good. You first need to treat against the likely protozoan parasites in the gut. Use Metronidazole for this, used as directed on the package, and always remembering to remove carbon from the filter when medicating your fish. The white, slimy feces by the way are commonly a sign of protozoan infections: the gut reacts by producing more mucous.
Next up, review water quality. These infections are usually caused by either poor diet or poor water quality. Since you seem to have a very good diet for these fish, do review water quality. In particular, check the nitrate level. From bitter experience I have found that cichlids generally do poorly when the nitrate gets about 20 mg/l, even though that is "safe" by freshwater fish standards. Your tank is definitely on the busy side, and unless you're doing massive water changes (50% weekly) and have a huge external canister filter (8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour), you probably don't have the water quality you think you do. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse)
I did attach a photo.. where can I get the Metronidazole? what dose?  And can you please recommend a good canister filter? I would rather invest in one than risk their health and spend time and money on all these chemicals! Thanks so very much for all your help!
<Hello Nelly. Here in England, Metronidazole is only available from the vet. In the US I believe it is available as "Flagyl" but I cannot comment beyond that. Call your local vet and ask for advice. As for a canister filter, provided it delivers 8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, you'll be fine. So if you have a 55 gallon tank, choose a filter (or a pair of filters, added together) that has a turnover rating of 55 x 8 = 440 gallons per hour. This number will be on the pump part of the filter and on the packaging. Eheim filters are generally considered the most reliable and long-lasting, but the less expensive Fluval and Sera filters are very good as well. With all this said, I'm wondering if your Oscar has an abscess. Is the "wound" the anus? It isn't clear from the photo, and looks like it might not be. If the anus (in between the pelvic fins) is swollen and red, then yes, we're dealing with a prolapse. But if the wound is someplace else, then this is a bacterial infection, essentially an ulcer, and you'll need something like Maracyn or Maracyn 2 to fix that.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse)
Hi, Thanks for the quick reply!
umm... The hole.. I'm not sure, I do know he poops from there. So I assume its his anus???  It actually looks like around the open white, red, swollen tissue, you can see his anus hole.(really graphic) LOL.. Sorry.  As far as the Flagyl, do I want tablets or is it powder/liquid? I looked and seen both.. Again, Thanks sooo Much!
<Nelly, yes, the anus is the hole from which feces emerge. Doesn't matter which sort of Flagyl you use, provided the dosage is correct and it is added to the tank in the right way. I have no experience with this drug, so would encourage you to read over the link sent earlier, and if necessary, discuss with your vet. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse), Metronidazole  11/14/08
Hi Neale,
I'm sorry to bother you again.
I have another question regarding combining some medications.
Metronidazole and a products made by Mardel called "Copper-safe", it is for parasites but external ones. (I believe). Also, I have been feeding them "Jungle-Anti-parasite medicated food "for internal parasites. It says to feed 3 day a week for 4 weeks. today is 3 day. Should I continue this or stop it to use Metronidazole tablets They are called Fish Zole 250mg-
directions are 1 tab. per 10 gallons, I have a 75 gal. tank.
Can I combine all these together?
Thank you, Nelly
<Nelly, I do not know anything about Metronidazole from personal experience. But in general, you should not combine medications unless the manufacturer explicitly says it is safe to do so. Since your fish has an internal infection, Copper Safe is not necessary. Anti-parasite food is not necessary at this point either. Just use the Metronidazole *precisely* as described on the package, remembering to remove carbon from the filter. It is usually a good idea to add a bit of extra aeration, if you can, while treating your fish. Cheers, Neale.>  
Re: Oscar anus "hole" problem (Astronotus; protozoan parasites, prolapse) 11/14/08
Hi Neale,
OK Great! Thanks for all your help.. I didn't want to add more but want to make sure they get well!
Again, Thanks so very much!!
<Happy to help! Cheers, Neale.>

Red Hairs coming out of my Oscar's anus, reading   08/28/08
<Hi there>
I've read through your site (awesome by the way) and found similar problems as my Oscar, but not exactly. I have a 3" tiger Oscar for 3 weeks now (first time owner), and he has developed a swollen anus with little red hairs coming out of it. What is this?
<Likely Camallanus>
What can I do about?
Should I be worried? Please help him!
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/nematodesfwf.htm
Needs to be treated with a Anthelminthic... Bob Fenner>

Trying to find a diagnosis. Oscar With Fish Lice  8/21/07
Hello, I have a tiger Oscar that has been self-mutilating himself. He rubs against things in the tank and has opened his flesh at times. I did not see anything with my naked eye (at first). Then, one day, I sat down by the tank and looked up. He swam into the light and behold, there were microscopic white specks on his head. Then, I looked closer and they actually were moving. They are so very small, too small to compare them to anything. The only reason I saw them, was because he is black and swam into very bright light. They look like bugs crawling around over him. Now that I knew what to look for, I noticed them on the glass of my tank. Lots of them. Only in the light and very microscopic.
I have tried researching "parasites" and nothing seems to fit the description. Fleas would be too big and flukes are described as "worm-like" rather than "bug-like".
I couldn't stand to see my Oscar with open wounds and frayed fins so I bought "parasite eliminator" to cure flukes, anchor worm, and fleas, etc. I am about to give the 2nd dose.
They have not responded to treatment so far. They are still there and there are plenty of them moving around unphased.
What can I try next if this doesn't work? I appreciate any response,
Thanks, Tina
< Try Clout or Fluke-Tabs. The parasites probably came in with some feeder fish.-Chuck>

Hello! Your site has been a great help to me on many occasions. This time, I have a really nasty problem with my Oscar. First of all, I have a 55 gallon tank. I had two Oscars for over a year until about a month ago. The albino Oscar attacked the tiger seemingly overnight (my roommate heard splashing) and in the morning, the poor tiger was ripped literally to shreds and barely alive. I separated them and changed some of the water, but his wounds were rapidly infected. Medication was no help, and he died shortly after (total time: 3days). 
The albino appeared to have some fuzzy infection on his forehead afterward, but after changing nearly 100 percent of the water over the next week and adding meds, it went away. This was over a month ago. Now it's just the albino and an old Pleco in there. 
Recently, the albino has been acting crazy. He's been swimming frantically along the tank sides with his mouth open. He has been scratching A LOT on the rocks as well. The other day I noticed that he looked kind of, well...dirty...like he had actual dirt on his sides. Upon closer inspection, I saw (YUCK!!!) the "dirt" was actually bugs! Gross, clear little bugs. I could see them moving around on my fish (many of them!!) and on the large rocks in the tank!! The Pleco appears to be clean of them, but the albino seems miserable! He lays on the bottom sometimes. I just realized that they were nasty bugs yesterday. Unfortunately, there appear to be A LOT of these little monsters. They look like little lice or something. Clear, but big enough to see if you look closely. What can I do? Its a nasty nightmare! Please help!
< Sounds like fish lice to me. Treat with Fluke Tabs or Parasite clear. The medication works best in a clean tank. I would recommend that you change 30% of the water, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter before treating.-Chuck>

Oscar with Ich
Hi Chuck thanks for the information, I have my heater on 78 and I have been feed him live feeder fish. it looks like he might be getting Ich on his body so I'm treating it. I left the carbon filter in and I was wondering if it might be soaking up the med to fast and it is not helping Oscar. Should I take the carbon filter out? How long should I leave it out? Thanks again, Jackie
< The malachite green will be removed from the water with carbon. Remove the carbon from the filter while you clean it. Do a 30% water change and vacuum the gravel to remove the organics. Raise the water temp to 80 to 82 if possible. Treat with rid-Ich as per the directions on the bottle for best results. After treatment you can then add a high quality carbon to remove the medication. When the medication is gone I would add Bio-Spira to the water to replenish the good bacteria that may have been affected by the treatment.-Chuck> 

Oscars, Disease
I have a big problem with my Oscars, I have seven Oscars in my tank and I think haves Hexamita
or Ichtyyosporidium (Phycomocetae family) aka HLLE.
I feed my fish with Tetra Cichlid Tablet, Chironomis worms, and Heart Beef (rarely).
I'm from Romania and here it's difficult to find medications for my Oscars, I find on the chemist's shop for human, Metronidazole tablet
<Am very familiar (unfortunately) with the disease/condition HLLE and the anti-Protozoal Metronidazole (aka Flagyl generically here in the West>
250mg (for Trichomonas virginals, Labia intestinal is, Entamoeba hystolitica....) , and I used 250mg at 5
gallons water .
<Mmm, this is about twice the dosage I typically advise.>
two Oscars are young (5inch) and look fine, fish colours are normal, colours of excrements are
normal brown-black, eating and are fine.
Five are very young , (2inch) and just one of them it's fine.
Four are very bad... not eating, not swimming and stay down on the ground with difficulty to
breathe (mouth open all time) and the colours of excrements are white or transparent sometimes rubbing
on sand or stones or shake the head on sand).
I have not idea if the Hexamita is the malady or other, or I made a mistake with this Metronidazole.
<Perhaps an intestinal worm, other gut-fauna cause>
Fish are from 2 days in this conditions and one of them (very young) it's dead right now.
Please give me a piece of advice in this problem, because it's very hard for me to see my
Oscars in this situation. Thank you a lot.
(Forgive me , if my write it's not correct grammatical)
<Thank you for writing. You are perfectly understood here. Do you have a college/university or a veterinarian nearby who will take a look at the fecal/waste material of your Oscars? This should show/reveal the nature of the cause of their illness. I do not suspect Hexamita here. Upon examination, you may find that an Anthelminthic needs to be applied. Possibly Piperazine or di-n-butyl tin oxide. At the very least, do enquire of the veterinarian of the usefulness of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) applied as a dip/bath. Please write back if this message is incomplete, or not able to be understood. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscars, disease
 ... Thank you very much for your advice... I will try to contact a veterinarian
because here I have a veterinarian university.
<Very good. Have them contact me as well if I may be of assistance>
Last night I lost another very young Oscar ... and I see in the moment of death : fish are very agitated and swimming so fast, swimming in the imaginary circle axis...and in the final , death with mouth open. first fish dead have same mouth open).
I read on the net about that. and I find something called Myxosoma cerebralis causing "whirling disease"... but I don't see nothing about white or transparent fecal in this disease.
<Not necessarily related. Does sound like Myxosoma>
I'm scared right now, because I don't have any idea to rescue my Oscars. I think I will try again
with the salt bath. Anyway Thank you again for your answer .
<Good luck, life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Oscar emergency (HLLE)
3-4 years ago I treated my Oscar for what I thought was HITH. He developed some pretty bad holes and he never completely looked the same after that but he was doing fine otherwise so I assumed it was all over. About 2 weeks ago it looked to me like it was coming back. There was one other Oscar in the tank who looked okay. I took my water to the pet store and they tested it and said everything was fine. I then started treating with Metronidazole for the recommended course.
<Yes. This anti-Protozoal is the recommended material here>
My fish did not improve. I have been working very religiously on keeping the water clean and testing it daily. About 2 days ago the other Oscar who did not have any holes developed one hole on the center of his head. It was somewhat deep looking and looked like a perfect hole had been punched with a hole puncher. At this point both Oscars started getting a little white fuzz on the holes. Last night the Oscar with the just one hole had a bit of blood coming out of the hole. He was not attacked. This morning he was dead.
<...! Sorry to read of the loss... and this is a very short period of time for this course of events to have occurred>
I now have one Oscar who is 6-7 years old. He has not eaten in two weeks. He has a little bit of white fuzz on some of his holes. One side of his face nearly looks like a crater and if it gets much worse I will be able to see through it into his mouth. He is breathing somewhat heavy but not super bad. I don't know what to do at this point. The water is testing okay. Do I just have to watch this one die too?
<Hopefully not>
The tank is 80 gallons with a canister filter and an HOB filter. The water is 82 degrees.
I don't know what else to do. Is this even HITH?
<Cannot tell from a description... and the term Hole in the Head is a descriptive one... that is, it does not define a/the root cause of the symptoms, just the symptoms themselves. How much Metronidazole are you using, and how have you been applying it? Are you adding vitamins, iodide to the animal's foods, the water? Bob Fenner>
Thank you for any help. Tami
Re: Oscar emergency

My Oscars both died the day after I sent you this.
<Very sorry to hear... Please do consider sterilizing (with the careful use of bleach, as detailed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm) the system before trying other fishes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscar emergency

Thank you but I did break down the tank and completely clean it. I used diluted bleach on the recommendation of my pet store only on certain parts. The tank is recycling now.
<Ah, good... and fast! Bob Fenner>

Parasites on Oscar-help needed
I recently- as in a week ago- purchased a huge Oscar.  say, the size of a good panfish.
anyways, he had some spots on him in the pet store; they looked like scars, since he/she was kept in a ten gallon aquarium, I assumed it was from hitting the glass.
I was SO wrong!!!
today (the 18th) a friend was looking at her and said "are these parasites?"  sure enough, she has little parasites.  they look like water fleas of some sort.  clear, many legged, tails.  almost microscopic. They stay next to their particular 'hole' in her skin, and don't scrape off.  Its scary, but I did try to scrape one off of her with my fingers (and a big glove... she's a little testy).
I have a saltwater tank, and did try a very short saltwater dip.  I don't know if that will hurt her long term, so it was either too short to do anything, or I didn't have high enough salinity.  
So, can you think of anything?  the other fish in the tank is a violet goby (I know, supposed to be brackish) couple goldfish (feeders and one big one) and guppies.  THEY WERE ON HER  when I got her, I just didn't see them.  I'm looking for name and treatment of these suckers.
< You probably have fish lice. Clean the filters and do a 30% water change. Treat with fluke tabs or parasite clear. Follow the directions on the package regardless of which one you choose.-Chuck>

Mysterious Malady
Dear Crew,
Good evening.  I am hoping you can help me.  I have a year old, 8", male tiger Oscar.  His name is Morbo, and I look forward to having him until he is old and huge.  Unfortunately, I made the classic Oscar blunder.  I bought him at the pet store when he was but an inch long and did not realize that he would soon outgrow the six gallon tank.  When he was about four inches and had been by himself in the tank for about three months, I got a twenty gallon.  Initially it had a 20 gallon TopFin power 20, which I buy bio filtration cartridges for.  Last weekend I installed an under gravel filter.  (15-20 gal Top Fin)  I use Marineland Labs Bio-Safe and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc. Stress Coat with Aloe (in measured doses) for every water change.  I change 25% of the water every week, and vacuumed the gravel until I got the new undergravel filtration.  Only about 1/3 of an inch of large gravel.  I know the tank is a little small, and am planning on upgrading to a 55 gallon when I move out of my cramped one bedroom apartment.  I do not know my water parameters yet, but will be taking a water sample to the pet store in the morning.  (Thanks for the suggestion.)  Assuming that all the water parameters are normal, please give me all the info you can on the following situation.  
Last Friday I installed a new under gravel filter.  I removed Morbo from the tank during the process.  It was a huge WET ordeal, and he did not come out from behind his log for hours after it was over.  The day after, he had ICK!  (I assume it was stress.)   Immediately gave Jungle Ick Clear.  Dosed three times, 25% water change with each treatment, carbon out of filter but all running.  Spots are mostly gone, still a few light spots on one fin, but I would say, 99% healed.  One wound, from the net, aprox. 1/4 inch long, shallow,  left side, it got ick in it but has healed over almost completely.  Only a small scar, ick 99% gone. Really just a light mark.  Just today he has started two alarming habits.  He rubs against the gravel.  Have noticed one very small black spot on left side, but could just be new coloration.  (I observe VERY closely.)    Yesterday and today he has been really lethargic, staying at bottom of tank.  Has not been excited about food, but still eats it all.  ;o)  I feed Wardley cichlid pellets, and the occasional feeder.  ( I buy from a local cichlid specialty shop, VERY clean, and keep them for two weeks before feeding.)  The feeders are only for after water changes, to give him some initiative to come out from behind the log.  Have not given feeders since ick set in.  His left fin (clear of ick) has been twitching tonight.  It is off and on.  Tail fin is shaking too.  Breathing is normal, gills look fine.  No outward signs.  Checked all equipment for shorts, frayed wires, all fine, heater too.  No cracks.  Water has become slightly cloudy.  Was crystal clear before starting treatment.  Haven't done anything else, don't want to stress him out any more than I have to.  What can I do?
< The Ich is not yet gone or it may be another ecto parasite attacking the skin of your Oscar. Any way here is what is going down in your tank. The undergravel filter is a waste of time. As soon as your Oscar digs any type of hole then the undergravel filter plate will be exposed and the water will go through the path of least resistance and go directly through the filter plate and not through the gravel. The gravel should be like beach sand or slightly larger. The beneficial bacteria that break down the fish waste from ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate live on the outside of the gravel. Smaller sand has more surface area then gravel per weight so for the same amount of gravel you might get as much as ten times the surface area with the same amount of sand. Your fish are not completely cured. Raise the water temp. to 80 to 82 degrees and treat with a formalin malachite green mixture like Kordon's rid-Ich for three days and you should see the twitching stop. Keep in mind that every time you use a feed you may be introducing a diseases into your tank.-Chuck>
-;- Nicole -;-

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