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FAQs on Treatment of Oscar Diseases 

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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,
FAQs on Oscar Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Genetic, & Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease 2, Oscars 1, Oscars 2, Oscar Identification, Oscar Selection, Oscar Compatibility, Oscar Behavior, Oscar Systems, Oscar Feeding, Oscar Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Reproduction,

Salt? Maybe Epsom for bloating... a bit of sea salt for nitrite detoxifying

Antibiotics, antimicrobials are almost worthless to apply directly to the water and Melafix is worthless period.

I think we need a crusade against Melafix. It seems that every sick fish we get photos of has already been treated with stuff, and remained sick. How did it ever get onto the market? Who endorsed it?
<... and I've just seen in a Brit mar. mag.... there's now a saltwater version! Gahhhh! BobF 
I think we need a big banner or something on the "Before You Write" page that says:
"If you've treated your fish with Melafix, Bettafix or Pimafix, and it's still sick, then try using a PROPER antibiotic, antibacterial or anti-fungal."
<I agree... and have tried to intimate this...>
Or words to that effect, anyway!
Did you hear that Australian fish magazine Sara and I had written for appears to be closing down? Shame.
<Had heard>
Cheers, Neale
<Sign of the times... BobF>

Oscar problems multiple 05/25/09
Hello, and thank you for reading this.
<Service to you!>
I have had quite a few Oscar problems and somehow have always seemed to fix whatever was going on. I've had 3 Oscars for about 4 years now. One is over a foot, the others are 8-10 inches. The largest was very aggressive and was moved to his own 55 gallon tank.
<About all there is room for>
The other two seem to be paired up. They love each other. Although they have never had any eggs, they tail quiver and lip lock and when one is sick
(seems to happen often lately) they stay by the other's side. They are also in a 55 with one 6-7 inch Pleco.
My first problem was my largest. He got HITH.
<... from water quality, the crowding...>
Obviously my fault, not changing the water enough. Pure laziness. It got really bad, but with enough water changes it suddenly healed. He looks
normal now! I was feeding Wardley pellets, crickets on some days and brine shrimp.  Next my other two got HITH. These two are an albino and a red. Mostly it was the red. It got so bad that I thought my red's eye was going to fall off.
<... where is this going?>
I just kept with the water changes, used Melafix and salt in the water, and voila! He healed.  Everything was better, and unfortunately I went back to being lazy with water changes. No excuses, but I have a house full of animals and now I'm paying the price. My largest is in his own 55 with one Pleco. He has one decorative log, temp stays at 78 and the filter is a dual BioWheel. He has a couple holes now, not too serious (although I know it can get out of hand) but for the last few days he's been laying on the bottom with his fins close to his body. I used Jungle Fungus because it has both fungal and bacterial fighting properties, and also saved my Albino recently when he was doing the same thing. I've been using VitaChem vitamins and
Melafix/Pimafix and today did a 50% water change. After the water change he's suddenly been swimming a LOT more. Laying on bottom some, but what more can a foot-long fish in a 55 tank do?
<I don't understand... what are you asking?>
I think the meds stressed him out and now that he's swimming I'm going to do one more Melafix/Pimafix dose tonight and put in new carbon filters tomorrow.
<Cut the "fixes"... they're bunk>
My BIG worry is my red in the other tank. I know you are going to ask for water test numbers, but I've never done a water test in my life.
If I had the equipment I would do it right now and send. But I'm just grasping right now to save Oscar. Albert and Oscar both have a serious case
of HITH right now, as far as I know.
<... see WWM re>
Oscar looks much worse, but Albert's was so bad he really looked like some of his head was scraped down. He was floating head down for a while.
<Pathetic... likely your nitrates and other pollutants are sky high>
Then floating midway on his side, not even leaning on anything. My fish guru suggested I treat for bacterial infection, and then use Jungle HITH
<My young friend... stop medicating... Your fishes problems are environmental in nature... You're neglecting the care of the animals in your care...>
The HITH Guard did nothing. I finally used clout,
which has worked in the past, and the white poos sticking to the filters disappeared. The floating copepods disappeared too! Of course I was doing
lots of water changes. The whole time Oscar was doing great (he's the red).  He would stay next to Albert (Albino) but he was eating great. Both heads started healing. Albert's grew back - doesn't look shaved down anymore.  Then Albert started laying on his side on the bottom, with fins close to his body. And he stopped eating. He would try to eat, but not really. And Oscar starting spitting out his food. I was feeding Hikari floating pellets
(Can't find large Wardley and they're bigger now, so....) I noticed the clamped fins and also a hole in Albert's right fin. That kept getting bigger. And I noticed a little bit of raggedness on his tail, and I thought fin rot! I used the Jungle Fungus med - and it healed him right up. Now he is my healthiest Oscar! I've been feeding them Oscar Grow large pellets floating and sinking a couple at a time, to make sure they are eating.  OK, so a few days ago both were swimming and eating great. I did a water change on Friday. And I used clout one more
<... No! Metronidazole is toxic in repeated exposures>
time, because Oscar's holes started growing again. One day Oscar was stealing Albert's food, and the next day Oscar is open-mouthed, head up as
if not enough oxygen, and not eating. His gills seem to be hard working and one side has a whiteness on it that resembles his holes. His holes have
suddenly gone crazy, like they're growing deeper/bigger within just a couple of days. They're eating away around his eyes. As he breathes it looks like there's a flap from inside his mouth - all the way around - that goes with his breathing. I've looked down into his mouth to see if any rocks are stuck, thinking he grabbed one with one of the sinking pellets, but I can't see anything, like it's swollen. He was head up for 2-3 days, and now he's gone to the bottom. Not leaning over, but sitting on his stomach with his mouth open and what looks like labored breathing. I thought it was low oxygen.
<... pollution... organic...>
That's why I did the water change Friday. He's got two filters (without any filter in them, but running) one is two-sided, but no BioWheels, the other
is a large penguin BioWheel, and there are two long airstones going. His mouth has not closed, and he's still on the bottom, with these terrible looking holes. Albert is doing great! He's swimming, looks healed (still has some holes but if you saw him a couple weeks ago you'd be amazed). I haven't fed them for a few days and I'm thinking this is the end for Oscar.  I saw some more stringy feces sticking to the filters although not really very white, so I was going to add Jungle Parasite tonight because it has the Metronidazole and the (p) med can't think of the name. Praziquantel?
I have had great luck with jungle except for the HITH Guard. But I don't know if this will help him or hurt him. I don't know if this could be some
kind of fungus or bacteria, or just water and it's the end of his days. :( I don't have a way to move him. If I treat it means Albert gets treated too. I use prime and stress coat and aquarium salt during water changes.
<Cut the salt>
I have been feeding very limited because I wanted to get rid of those copepods, and they are gone. I have also treated with Melafix and Pimafix for 4 days and added the vitamins. I will wait until morning to put in the jungle parasite - but if you don't think I should please let me know! What else can I do?
Water temp is at 78.
I also have one more question. My neighbor is giving me his 125 gallon.
I planned on putting Donovan (my largest) in there so he would have some nice room to swim, since the others are smaller, but if Oscar lives should I put the two in there instead? And if Oscar doesn't survive, is there a way to put both Donovan and Albert in the 125 together or would they tear each other up? (Have been apart for a long time now).  Thank you thank you, please help me with what you think I should do next.  The water change did not help Oscar at all - but it did help my largest. I am very worried.
<Then apply yourself... Read on WWM re Oscars, FW maintenance... learn to/use test kits... STOP "medicating"... you're doing harm... Bob Fenner>
Overmedicated? 5/27/09

update: Oscar died overnight.
<Hi Jen, Mac L here assisting the great Bob>
I believe I killed him by overmedicating.
<Sadly I think so too but you had a combination of problems involved in this as well.>
This is the first large Oscar I've lost, I feel sick. I don't know how Albert is going to deal, because like I said they were a pair. Can Albert go on and be okay as a single Oscar when he's had a mate his whole life?
<Albert will be better as a large solo Oscar then trying to add another one because they can and they will tear other Oscars up if you try to add them and they are not compatible>
Will he get depressed? Should I introduce him to my largest when I get the 125 ready? Or keep one in the 125 and one in the 55?Thanks,
:( :(-Jenn
<Honestly in my opinion Jen an Oscar is too large a fish for a 55. I have seen their bodies become misshapen and stunted when kept in a small tank and their growth is so rapid. You obviously care about your fish. You could possibly try to put them both together in the larger tank but being aware that it very well might not work and they might have to immediately be separated. Oscars are great pets but in the wild get absolutely huge and I really wish that stores would tell people more about them when they buy them. Don't you just love it when they come talk to you or spit water at you for your attention? Good luck!. >
Re: Oscar problems multiple  06/03/09

Thank you for your reply. So far Albert is doing well and he's very active, every time I come near the tank he's there asking for attention.
<Good behavior>
Yes I love that about Oscars. They are very in tune with us. Even if it's only because they're pigs!
My next objective is to get that 125 set up and ready for Donovan, my giant. I do understand that a 55 is too small. I did a nice water change for Albert yesterday and will do one every other day to help him heal. The only thing I add to the water is vitamins. Thanks again for your help.
<And you for this upbeat update. Cheers, BobF>

To salt are not to salt? that's the question.
Adding Salt to An Oscar Tank  3/14/08
At once I want to tell you that you have a awesome website.
< Thank you for your kind words.>
I recommend to all fish Hobbyists. It seems I'm very confused about adding aquarium salt to my Oscars water. I know they don't need to be brackish. At the same time I read on your website that some aquarium salt is beneficial. I recently received a 50 Gallon Bowfront tank from my brother. It came with a huge Tiger Oscar, ( He's a good 12 inches if not larger) I named him Sampson. He has a 404 Fluval pumping 340 gallons a hour. Good water quality as well. My brother said he kept the water somewhat brackish. I really never heard of that. The equipment reflects it though. There is salt on the light hood and full glass hood, this is an all glass tank. My brother left town and the fish was supposed to be cared for by someone else. It wasn't. I went to break the tank down and it smelled like sewage. Even at that the fish was very healthy. I couldn't believe it. Now, to the water change. Naturally I went to fresh water because that's how Oscars are cared for. The only thing about Sampson that looks unhealthy is nose hole erosion. I figure water quality can do this. The water pH is good, I keep it vacuumed and do my water changes. You all hit the nail on the head when you say a canister is tough to clean! It takes a lot of pressure to close it back once your done cleaning. My questions are: Aquarium salt are not?
<The Oscar is a cichlid which is a secondary fish that evolved from salt water damsels. They can handle some salt. A teaspoon per 10 gallons increases the slim coat on the skin and gills and may prevent some parasites from penetrating the skin.>
Why the nostril erosion?
< It could be a start of Hole-In-The-Head disease. It is often associated with poor water quality and poor nutrition. That that you have improved the tanks conditions it should stop but may take awhile to heal.>
And what do I need to have in my 6 compartment Fluval to continue to maintain Sampson's tank? (I'm new to a canister).
< Go with the manufacturers' recommendations for now and see how it works.>
Will white vinegar get the salt spray or lime build up off my exterior of the tank ?
<Usually the calcium will slowly come off if you use the vinegar to soak the area over a few treatments with a saturated paper towel.>
I want the best for my Sampson! I just Love Him! And you guys keep up the great work!
< Thanks again,-Chuck>

Upside Down Oscar - 8/22/03
Hi.  This is a last ditch effort to save our 5 year old Oscar fish.  Approximately 6-8 weeks ago, the Oscar developed a distended belly on one side and was floating on the surface. Taking advice from fishyfarmacy.com, we treated him with Metronidazole for 10 days for Hexamita 
<Ugghh... this is an all too common mis-applied remedy. I have no idea why folks still recommend this. Hexamita has been shown to be almost non-existent in captive stocks for well over a decade> 
and then assuming that swim bladder was a secondary condition, started a course of erythromycin, <unbelievable... erythromycin is a gram-positive antibiotic, and less than 20% of all pathogenic fish bacteria are gram positive. Furthermore, this drug is so outdated (numerous resistant strains) that it boggles the mind why it would be recommended as a first course of treatment> 
which we are now on the second consecutive course.  We do a 1/3 water change every other day at least and the conditions are good with the exception of very slight level of ammonia, which I am having trouble getting rid of.  
<I am so sorry my friend... IMO, you have been given staggeringly poor advice>
The Oscar resides in a 30-gallon tank with one feeder fish from the last batch (yes, I know no more feeder fish) <correcto> who is quite large and healthy now. In the last two to three weeks, we were encourage because the distention of his side subsided, but he is now has smaller still distended area around it's rectum, approximately the size of a golf ball, which is causing him to remain upside down.  We were also told by a couple of sources to try giving him frozen peas and/ or earth worms.  He seemed to like the peas and was still active while we were feeding those.  However, three days ago we gave him an earthworm and now he has sunk to the bottom of the tank, is still upside down (his face is resting on the stones) and is not very responsive.  Should we give up hope and euthanize?  
<not at all... these fish are incredibly hardy and salvageable. The extended duration of the symptoms  and the remission of the size of the lump (likely ruling out cysts/growth) suggests to me that is may not be pathogenic at all. Dose the tank with one rounded tablespoon of Epsom Salt (from your pharmacy) per five gallons of tank water. Dissolve this in a bit of aquarium water first then add. Repeat three days later. If this improves your fish (and it may cure it), then the problem way not likely pathogenic>
If so, what is the best way?  
<freezing in a bucket of water if you must... very gentle for this cold-blooded creature>
I've read a lot about the Epsom salt, should we set up a hospital tank and treat him in that or simple do in the 30 gallon tank?  Can you help?   
<Ahhh... :) Yes, you can dose the main tank. Do let us know if it works. Else we may try a broad-spectrum antibiotic cocktail (perhaps Jungle brand "Fungus Eliminator" [ignore the cheesy name]). Anthony>
Upside Down Oscar - Follow-up - 8/23/03
Hello to all the crew.  This is a follow-up on a question that Anthony was kind and patient enough to reply to which I would like to first say thank you so much for your advice.  
<always welcome>
It is now late Saturday evening and I have been so desperate to help our poor upside down Oscar that I have eagerly been checking for a reply and of course, you do not disappoint!    
I am writing now from my home email address (as opposed to work) and have just a couple more questions, if you don't mind.  Sorry if this sounds dumb, but should I be changing the water in the next three to six days (assuming a second dose is necessary?)
<not a dumb question at all... and yes, water changes will be very helpful regardless of the cause of the Oscar's ailment. If pathogenic, it will reduce their numbers by dilution. If this is constipation or blockage (aided by the Epsom salt) it will have a likewise laxative effect. Just be sure to closely match water temps... same if possible, slightly warmer if you must... but never colder with new water>
Also, should I continue to feed him the frozen peas daily or fast him for a bit?
<neither... offer frozen meaty foods instead (plankton, krill, Mysis shrimp) or live earthworms if he'll eat them. Avoid all dense matter (pellets) and fibrous (veggies)>
I seriously hate to euthanize, the thought it simply makes me cry as I have become quite attached, especially in the last few weeks, but I am very concerned about his quality of life.  A permanent upside down state on land (I can only imagine) would be terribly uncomfortable... should I assume it's not the same for our Oscar?
<correct... I'm certain he prefers to live anyway you look at it. As long as his appetite is good... carry on and have patience. I really think the Epsom salt will help BTW>
Anyway, thank you again.  I have read so many of your FAQ
replies and they are all so informative, but also incredibly compassionate and friendly.  Hats off to all of you!  Kim : )
<thanks kindly, my dear. Best of luck. Anthony>   
Re: Upside Down Oscar 9/9/03
Anthony, Sorry to bug you again, but I did have a couple of questions with regarding to our now sideways Oscar.
<no worries>
As I mentioned previously, he lies in the bottom of the tank until it's time to eat, then he swims like a champ. His appetite is excellent and he is quite an enthusiastic eater (beef heart and brine shrimp).
<all good and as expected. Many will do this for weeks before recovering fully>
First, should I continue with the Epsom salt treatment every three days or just do regular water changes at this point.
<mostly regular water changes... but some Epsom salt in the water does not hurt at all. Keep a half dose in if you like>
Secondly, is it safe to give him cichlid flakes or sticks for a little variety?
<definitely flakes... easy on the pellets for a while>
Lastly, there is a sole surviving feeder fish in the tank with Oscar who has become quite large, and while I do not see the goldfish bullying our Oscar, he has absolutely no fear is often vying for all the attention. Should we remove goldie from Oscar's tank in favor of a separate goldie bowl?
<I'd leave it in for interest/distraction to the Oscar>
How do we get so attached to these water bound creatures!?! Thanks (once again) in advance for your help.  Kindest Regards to you all, Kim Olson :)
<so true :) Have faith and patience... there is a good chance of full recovery, however slow. Best regards, Anthony>     
Re: Upside Down 9/10/03
Dear Anthony,
<cheers, Kim>
First! I love you guys, you're so awesome! Thank you!
<always welcome :) >
Now I can move ahead with confidence. Ironically, after I sent this email to you Oscar had very brief recurrence of the swelling in the rectal area.  It occurred almost simultaneously with a water change w/the Epsom salt treatment, but happily was gone the next day, so your advice were well timed. Take care. Kindest
regards, Kim : )  
<ahh, yes. Despite their hardiness, afflictions of the swim bladder are sensitive and precarious. As mentioned before, it may take some weeks to heal... even months in some cases. As long as your Oscars diet is strong, there is much to be hopeful for. I truly suspect that this one will make a full recovery. Best regards, Anthony>

Sideways Oscar
My Oscar developed hole in the head, I am still treating for it, but now he cant close his mouth, and his eyes are cloudy and he lays bent in half on the bottom of the tank...always on his right side he lays, last night he floated to the top, and folded in the middle, and looked dead except for his breathing
WHAT CAN I DO? I only have Metronidazole in the house....if that wont treat it, is he dying? Is there a way to euthanize him?
<It is possible that the meds you used killed your bio filter causing an ammonia spike. Do you test your water? Send us the numbers if you do. If not, start! What kind of filter and what size tank do you have? Must warn you, by the time a fish is in this condition it is rare for them to pull through. Don>


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