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FAQs on Oscar Disease/Health 14

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Oscars       4/21/20
Sent from my iPhone hello my name is Jeannie my husband has Oscars and he changes the water frequently It looks like the Oscar has a protruding anus as of what I was told my husband feeds them Oscar pellets and they were fine.
<Correct. This is a prolapse, and Oscars are more prone to these than most other fish. Partly it's their size and the difficulty people have ensuring the right water quality, and partly it's their need for a much more varied
diet than some people imagine. Let's pick both of these apart. In terms of care, Oscars need a large (100+ gallon) aquarium with robust filtration (water turnover rates of at least 8 times per hour). Water changes should be weekly. You're aiming for 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and, crucially, nitrate levels below 40 mg/l and ideally below 20 mg/l. All cichlids are sensitive to nitrate, but unfortunately big, messy fish will raise nitrate levels very quickly. Having a big aquarium helps dilute nitrate, which is why the 55-75 gallon tanks often recommended in the past for large cichlids don't really work in the long term -- at least not without much more frequent water changes. As for diet, Oscars are omnivores in the wild, consuming small fish, insects and crustaceans as well as fruits and the usual organic detritus most fish will nibble on when bored. So while something like Hikari Cichlid Gold makes an excellent staple, it should be augmented with, in particular, sources of roughage to keep the digestive tract in good health. Cooked peas are a good choice, with most cichlids eating them when hungry (feel free to starve them for a week or two if needed) but suitably gut-loaded insects and crustaceans work well too. Frozen brine shrimp with added Spirulina are good, as are small crickets. Earthworms are a superb choice if you have access to a clean supply of them. The foods to avoid are anything with fat (chicken and beef, for example, though beef heart, using sparingly, is fine) as well foods known to be unsafe (feeder fish and Tubifex).>
I seen this happen after he changed there food please tell me what I can do to help the Oscar get better.
<Three things to do. The first is to add Epsom Salt to the water. This is NOT the salt we use in the kitchen, but easily bought online or in drugstores. Use 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres. What this does is work as a mild laxative. Secondly, stop feeding for a week. This will do no harm to any of the fish in the tank. This gives the digestive tract some time to recover. And finally, after a week, introduce sources of roughage
into the diet, and only use those foods -- no dried foods or pellets! -- until the fish recovers. Do, of course, check water quality. If you don't see any signs of improvement, medicating with Metronidazole and an
antibiotic may help, as this combination is widely used with cichlids where we're dealing with unknown parasites and pathogens.>
He was feed them cichlids gold for about 2 years and about 1 month or 2 ago he changed it to jumbo minis and that happened
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar health concerns MOV   2/24/19
<Hello Sean,>
I have a 125 gallon aquarium with two 10"+ Oscars, one 12" fire eel, and a jack Dempsey. For their filtration, I use an aqua clear 110 and two 60 gallon sponge filters. Maintenance includes weekly 50% water changes, vacuuming, etc. Lastly, my water parameters show no sign of any nitrate or ammonia and is set at 78 F.
<I'm always skeptical of zero nitrate readings. Are you really sure your nitrate test kit is working properly? Or being used correctly? Zero nitrate is virtually impossible in an aquarium. You'd need to have zero nitrate in the tap water -- which is unlikely if you're using standard tap water in most cities, towns or anywhere near farmland. Pristine well water might have zero nitrate though. Anyway, most tap water has nitrate levels somewhere between 10-40 mg/l, and since the filter doesn't remove nitrate, it'll only ever go up thanks to the biological filtration process that turns ammonia into nitrite and then into nitrate. Water changes dilute nitrate, of course, but that'll half (or whatever) the nitrate level in the
tank, not zero it. Furiously rapid plant growth can remove nitrate at appreciable levels, but you'd need intense lighting and would literally be cropping the plants back weekly if this was the case. Given your selection of fish, the idea you have rapid plant growth seems unlikely. So we come back to the original point, the nitrate surely can't be zero. Why harp on about nitrate? Because it's the silent killer for cichlids! Anything above 20 mg/l seems to stress them, and above 40 mg/l there will be increased mortality, particularly with the more sensitive species (such as dwarf cichlids, Tanganyikans, and so forth). Oscars are among the more nitrate tolerant species, but prolonged exposure does lead to issues such as Hexamita infection and Hole in the Head disease.>
Overall, I think we have a happy and healthy tank, fish included.
However, I'm concerned with the looks of my butterfly Oscar. Now, he's always been an ugly boy with his lumps and bumps, but the amount of slime that covers his body has been progressively increasing.
<Slime generally represents the first line of defence against skin infections. Assuming no fish have been added recently that might have introduced, say, Costia, I'd be thinking about Hexamita infections, HITH, and HLLE.>
I'm worried that it may be in response to something more serious. I've attached the following video.
<He looks chirpy enough, which is good.>
In general, he seems healthy - eats well (if not the most), swims around his companions, and has minimal instances of aggressive behavior (although, he is the moodiest). It's just the looks of him, like a kid with acne.
<Indeed. While I'm not seeing the classic pitting you associate with HITH and HLLE -- yet -- that would be my worry here. The classic combination of Metronidazole alongside a suitable antibiotic would be my recommendation if you have access to these. Certainly review nitrate levels, and if you can, oxygen levels (high nitrate and low oxygen cause particular stress to cichlids). While your tank is reasonably large, you've got some big-ass fish in there, and since they're all carnivores, the sheer volume of ammonia being excreted will put a lot of pressure on any filtration system.>
Do you know what this might be? Our appreciation goes out to you and WWM in advance. Thank you!
Sean and Lumpy (the butterfly Oscar)
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar health concerns      3/3/19

Hi Neale,
A little update for you, because hell, this is what it's all about right?
<Something like that, yes!>
Now, I was mistaken when I said my nitrate levels were zero -- I didn't even have a test for nitrate, it was nitrite! Which, were indeed *near* zero.
<Good-ish. You do indeed want zero nitrite, and anything above that can honestly be a stress factor for many fish, even below 0.5 mg/l. Cichlids are notoriously sensitive to ammonia and nitrite compared with, say, Danios or Corydoras, which is why the latter have been used to mature new tanks, whereas cichlids almost never are. If you're detecting any nitrite at all, you probably need to decrease stocking, decreasing feeding, or increasing filtration, because the filter isn't keeping up with the amount of ammonia excreted by your fish. The backlog, so to speak, is the nitrite you detect.
The only exception here might be if the tank is relatively new, with a filter less than 6 weeks old, in which case the nitrite part of the biological filtration maturing process might not be completed yet.>
Having to get a test for nitrate, I bought some 5 in 1 API test strips and found the following: GH 0 mg/L, KH 0 mg/L, pH 6.0, nitrite 0-0.5 mg/L, and nitrate 80+ mg/L.
Immediately, I knew it was time for a water change and I even fasted them for a few days in hopes of mitigating the amount of ammonia they might produce until the situation was under control.
<Part of the solution, yes; but more frequent or more substantial water changes are the usual way of minimising nitrate.>
Taking your advice, I did a full Metronidazole treatment and the results couldn't of been better!
<Good oh!>
Whether this was the solution to my problem or not -- I know it is not the magic formula in having long term success. Unfortunately, I don't have the equipment to test the oxygen in the tank, but with tons of surface agitation and very few "dead spots," I don't see this as being a problem.
Having been about a week, everything looks great and I couldn't thank you enough.
<Glad to help.>
However, my waters nitrate levels still seem to be considerably high based on your suggestions -- that is, somewhere between 20 and 40 mg/L in the tank and nearly 20 mg/L out the tap.
<So this is, realistically, the minimum nitrate level you'll have in your aquarium. Not the end of the world, but you have to accept that this is not ideal for cichlids. Frequent water changes, light stocking, and minimal food input are the main things you can do here. In other words, ensuring the nitrate creeps up as slowly as possible. Oscars are greedy, but they're also omnivores, so with luck you can offer bulky, but less protein-rich, foods that will result in less ammonia. Many will eat peas and other vegetables, which is a good start. Otherwise, just be really, really careful not to overfeed.>
Is there anything I can really do here? Or is it time to enjoy the fish?
<A little from column A, a little from column B. Yes, you should be trying to manage the nitrate, but yes, if the fish has perked up, and you can keep nitrate below 40 mg/l, you should be fine. If practical, 'cutting' tap water with deionised water or rainwater will obviously reduce the nitrate a lot. Nice Fire Eel, by the way! Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar Dying.       2/12/19
Need some help asap. I recently added 2 pairs of Oscar in my fish tank. In starting hours they were fine but after a few hours, they went to the bottom. Hiding in the corners. After 24 hours they are like dead lying on the bed of the floor. This is the second time it happened. It happened before when I added a pair of Oscar. The same thing happens to them. I thought might be they are sick and unhealthy that way they are like this but this is happening again.
Tank Size:
450 Liter
Tank mates:
Tattoo Parrotfish. Tin Foil, Silver Dollar, African Cichlids, Dolphin Cichlids, Red Parrot, Giant Gorami.
Automatic Heater:
30’C 86″ F (The shopkeeper told me to make it up to 86'F so they can be cured. I also added 5 drops of water treatment before increasing the temp. Before that, it was on 28'C / 82'F)
Water changes on weekly basis over 30%
Canister Filter with UV 600L/Hour
Please respond asap.
<Hello Abdul. I'm not confident about the future here. Let's put aside for now that your aquarium really isn't big enough for all these fish (as adults, anyway). The Oscars seem to be juveniles, but very skinny. I'm not convinced they've had enough to eat over the last few weeks, and whatever other stress factors at work here, their lack of body mass will be making things worse. As a general rule, if a cichlid "goes loopy" after being introduced to a new tank, the usual explanation is environmental shock. Do check water chemistry in your tank is not too different to that of your retailer. While the 28C water temperature should be fine for Oscars, I wouldn't be keeping them a 30C. I would certainly be increasing oxygenation, and I'd be checking ammonia and nitrite are 0. Nitrate level should be below 40 mg/l, and ideally below 20 mg/l. Tankmates need to be suitable for life with Oscars. Tin Foil Barbs for example are usually fine, as are Giant Gouramis, but Dolphin Cichlids and other Malawian species require hard, alkaline water chemistry that is toxic to Oscars in the long term. "Drops of water treatment" means nothing to me. What I would be doing here is isolating these Oscars to their own dark, well-filtered aquarium, letting them settle, and then offering very tempting foods such as earthworms if they were swimming normally. If they were not swimming normally, I would simply keep the tank dark, quiet, and hope for the best. Cheers, Neale.>

A little help please: Sick Oscar      6/5/18
I think my Oscar is sick.
<Oh dear!>
I haven't seen him eat in weeks.

<Not a good sign.>
Originally ( a few weeks ago ) he was laying on the bottom with shallow breathing and raggedy fins... Over the past few weeks I have done more frequent water changes and have also treated for ich, protozoan parasites, and bacteria infection. (One treatment at a time).
<What did you suspect was the issue? And what medications were used?>
I used Melafix as well.
<Unreliable at best, and harmful at worst.>
His outward appearance has improved.
<That's good.>
However he is still not himself. He doesn't eat and floats vertically upright or face down most of the time which is unusual for him. He can swim if he wants to but he seems to like to just relax vertically these days?
I'm not sure if he's really sick or if I'm just not used to this new behavior... Please help!
<There's a bunch of things here. The first is the inevitable "have you given him feeder fish to eat" question. If the answer is "yes", then all bets are off. Feeder fish individually pose a serious risk by introducing parasites and pathogens, and used frequently cause serious problems through excess fat and thiaminase, both found in cyprinids (such as goldfish and minnows). The second question is whether your Oscar receives fibre-rich foods, such as peas, in its diet. Oscars are prone to constipation, and while they're not wild about veggies, they will eat them if sufficiently motivated (i.e., starved) and would do so naturally in the wild. Anyway, my default assumption here would be something along the lines of Hexamita if you weren't using feeder fish, and could rule out constipation because you were offering a balanced diet including a source of fibre. Hexamita is treated with Metronidazole, ideally alongside an antibiotic. Remember to remove carbon from the filter, if used. If you have been using feeder fish,
it's simply impossible to guess for sure what the problem is. Hexamita plus a Nitrofuran antibiotic would be a good starting point, but you might find you need to follow up with a dewormer in due course. But who knows? Feeders are called 'parasite bombs' with good reason, and it's hard to know what horrible pathogens they're bringing into an aquarium. Hope this helps,
Re: A little help please: Sick Oscar      6/5/18

Thank you Neale. Before he stopped eating he was eating and probably overfed Hikari pellets.
<An excellent and well-balanced food, but yes, avoid overfeeding because they contain little/no fibre. Do offer some green foods, or at least safe frozen or live foods gut-loaded with plant material; earthworms for example.>
Every time some one passed the tank he begged for food and I let all visitors feed him but didn't feed him any feeder fish prior to him being sick. I put some guppies in a few days ago.
<While Guppies don't contain fat and thiaminase, they are a potential parasite source -- unless you've bred them yourself of course, and know them to be 'clean'.>
He followed them around for a min but then lost interest. I didn't see him eat any. I assume they were sucked up in the filter...
Where can I purchase the Metronidazole and Nitrofuran?
<Seachem Metroplex is the standard Metronidazole medication of the hobby; a vet can also prescribe/sell this in countries where Metroplex isn't sold.
When it comes to Nitrofuran drugs, API produce a product called Nitrofurazone, Hikari something called BiFuran+, and Seachem have a product called Focus. I'm sure there are others, and again, outside the US, similar medications will be available from vets. In Europe and the UK, you may be able to get hold of something called eSHa HEXAMITA which isn't Metronidazole, but is available over the counter (rather than from a vet) and has been used with some degree of success against a range of Hexamita-type cichlid problems. Definitely worth a shot if you can't get Metronidazole easily. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A little help please: Sick Oscar      6/5/18

Many Thanks Neale!
<Most welcome.>

Kinda Critical Problem; Oscar env. trouble      3/24/18
Hello Crew, it's Renee from Idaho. I've "stepped in it", no, I've jumped in it again with both feet and I'm hoping you can help me help this fish.
<Fire away.>
First things first though - I found the two Oscars that were dumped on me by more former moving friends another home.
<Difficult fish to rehome, it has to be said.>
They are now luxuriating, just the two of them, in a 300 gallon tank with a lady who has kept Oscars all her life.
Second, I gave all of my Dojo Loaches to a friend who has a pond and I was getting ready to move my BGK into the 125 gallon tank when I got a call from a friend about an adult Oscar (about 4 years old) who is kept at her
office that she told me was "in trouble." They didn't want me to help them help the fish, they just wanted it out of there.
<Oh dear.>
So again, I jumped in. I found the fish in a 55 gallon tank with a foot long Pleco.
<I've seen worse, but no, not ideal.>
I couldn't see either fish very well because the tank was in a very dark corner of the office with no lights, but I could smell the tank. I just scooped out enough water into two buckets, grabbed both fish, and ran for home. When I put them in the 125, I could see the Oscar is covered with ammonia burns (I tested the water I brought them home in and it showed 4 ppm ammonia, 5 ppm nitrite, and the nitrate was a darker red than the darkest on the chart - I have no idea how those fish survived 4 years with these people).
<Fortune not only favours the brave, but also the stupid, perhaps?>
The Pleco has a few, but got off relatively unscathed.
<They are very tough animals, adapted to living in muddy burrows at times, so can put up with poor conditions for extended periods.>
Apparently when I netted the Oscar to bring him home, the net peeled off a lot of his poor burned skin and he showed had several large bleeding wounds and he has hole-in-the-head disease.
<I bet.>
He just sank to the bottom of my tank and lay there and I was sure he wasn't going to make it. But he did. Within 24 hours, the open burns were no longer bleeding and now (three days later), they are showing kind of a gray color that makes me believe the wounds are healing.
But he still stays on the bottom of the tank and doesn't move around too much. His skin is improving daily, but what's bothering me is that he's not eating - nothing in 5 days.
<Moving adult fish to a new home will certainly startle them. So even if physically recovering, it may take a bit more time before this fish is psychologically settled once more. So long as he's active, healing, interested in your behaviour, e.g., watching you, I'd not be over concerned. Offer something really tasty once a day, like a live earthworm, but otherwise don't feed. An adult Oscar will be fine living off his fat for a month, if not longer.>
I didn't think that was possible for an Oscar.
<Indeed. Cichlids will eat when healthy, but don't when they're not. Trying to get them to feed if they're not ready is usually pointless. Hold back, and once he starts begging for food, that's your moment.>
So I went back over to this office and was met with a great deal of disdain and hostility.
<No good deed goes unpunished.>
But I did get them to tell me that all they have fed this fish for the past 4 years in grocery store shrimp pellets for fish. They gave me the can of the stuff. I instantly thought thiamine deficiency from the thiaminase in shrimp - not to mention probably a host of other nutritional deficiencies.
But I know that thiamine deficiency causes Beriberi in humans, and causes loss of appetite, among other problems, in aquarium fish. So I did some research and discovered Boyd's Vita Chem which is a vitamin supplement that fish can absorb from the water (since I can't get him to eat). But none of the stores in my area carry it and it would take days to get some shipped to my house.
<I would not worry too much here. Simply offering a varied diet will undo any damage that can be undone. Gut-loaded earthworms are great (plenty of half-digested plant material!) but also try good quality cichlid pellets
(offering 100% of what the fish needs). Vitamin supplements, while nice, aren't really essential for freshwater fish. Perhaps more so for marines, where we can't so easily replicate their complete diet.>
So I started rummaging through my supplies and found some API Stress Coat which contains Aloe which is high in thiamine. I can only hope that transdermal absorption in fish is as fast and effective as it is in people
<Seems unlikely either way, to be honest. That's not really how vitamin transport in humans, let alone fish, works. It's more a "new age" idea/gimmick than rock-solid science.>
Anyway, I had another idea that I wanted to ask you about. Would it help this fish, and be safe, if I went to my local drug store, bought some thiamine, crushed up the tablets and dissolved them in the tank water?
<I would not do this.>
I know thiamine (B1) is a water soluble vitamin, but I'm concerned about the other ingredients that might be used to bind the vitamin into tablet form.
<Water soluble vitamins are once the body cannot store, because they're excreted more or less continually, and only the tiny amount needed at a given moment will actually be used. Everything else is lost via the kidneys. As Sheldon Cooper elegantly put it, vitamin supplements are mostly expensive urine! Much better to simply provide small amounts in the diet via green foods, gut-loaded prey, etc., so that water soluble vitamins are absorbed and lost in real time, as the fish uses/loses them. Fat soluble vitamins can be stored, of course, because they're not soluble and don't leak out of the body, but the flip side here is that overdosing some of these can be harmful. Unless you're a dietician, diddling around with vitamin intake, whether for man or beast, is usually pointless. A varied, balanced diet is the best way to cover the bases here, and even better, Hikari and other high-end food manufacturers have taken the stress out of this, via good quality staples such as Cichlid Gold pellets.>
But in a 125 gallon tank and with the minimal amount of these additional ingredients, I would think it wouldn't have any impact. What do you think?
<See above. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Kinda Critical Problem      3/25/18
Thank you for responding so quickly! I meant to send the attached picture with my original e-mail, but something went wrong. This picture was taken about 10 minutes after I got the Oscar home (this past Tuesday). The second was taken this morning (sorry about the pictures, but that's the best my phone can do.
<Certainly looks better...>
I just hope I got them small enough that you can open them).
Ok, NO thiamine tablets, just clean water and tough love!
<I would do this, yes.>
I tried to get him to eat a small piece of grocery store tilapia this morning with no luck.
<Good idea though.>
But I did notice that every single ornament in the tank had been moved since last night.
<Ah! A very good sign. He's treating the new tank as home.>
A couple of the lighter ornaments were moved quite a distance and all of the sand has been relocated in some way. Since I've heard this is a normal behavior of an adult Oscar, I'm taking it as a good sign.
<100%, yes. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Kinda Critical Problem      3/25/18
Thank you so much!
<You're welcome and good luck. Neale.>
Re: Kinda Critical Problem      3/25/18

Neale, is it possible that the Oscar has ammonia burns on the inside of his mouth and throat like he does on the outside of his body and that's why he won't eat?
<It's surely possible. But inside the mouth heals quickly (fast dividing cells) compared with the skin and scales, so shouldn't be a major problem.
If the fish is swimming and behaving otherwise normally, I would not worry about eating just yet. Wait a few days, then offer something irresistible, like an earthworm. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Kinda Critical Problem     3/26/18
I'm sorry! (laughing) You know how all children go through that stage in life where every word out of their mouths is "why?" Well, I never outgrew that!
<A good trait.>
I'm about to turn 55 in a month or so and still I have to relentlessly pursue the "why" of everything I don't understand. I tried to give the Oscar another piece of tilapia last night - small piece, about the size of a dime. He showed real interest for the first time, even a little enthusiasm, but when he took the piece of fish in his mouth, he just rolled it around for a few seconds and spat it out. Once it hit the floor of the tank he nosed it a few times and then slowly meandered off looking back at it as if he was debating whether he wanted to try again. I thought he
looked like someone with a bad tooth or sore throat. That's what raised my latest round of "why".
<Understood. Now, to be clear, fish cichlids process relatively little food in their mouths. The jaws are mostly for capturing prey and evaluating its edibility; the grinding and slicing tends to happen further down, in the throat really, using things called pharyngeal teeth. When fish like cichlids mouth food, then spit it out, it usually means they've evaluated it and decided they don't want to eat it. It's definitely worth persisting, but I'd wait at least a day, if not longer, between each 'offering' -- as a wise man once said, hunger makes the best sauce!>
Anyway, I'll keep doing as you suggested and I'm sure he's going to be fine and eating soon. Thank you for your patience! Have a wonderful day!
<Thanks for the kind words, and good luck. Neale.>

Tiger Oscar losing scales on top of head     3/5/18
Sent from Mail for Windows 10
Good Morning !! But not a good morning for my Tiger Oscar !! I purchased a 2 inch long Tiger Oscar 2 months ago from a local pet store. I have a 75 gallon aquarium. I’m not new at this. BUT this is my first Oscar. Water conditions are always perfect and I check them weekly with test strips.
<Need values; not subjective evaluations... the water is moderately hard, alkaline? Little metabolite accumulation?>

I run 2 filters. Both are from Marineland. The big one is a model 350 that is for a 75 gallon tank. The small one has a size “ A “ filter. And I run an air stone . Water is very clear. He eats VERY well . He would actually jump out of the water and bump the edge of the plankton bottle to knock the food out. As he grew , VERY RAPIDLY , I started feeding him “ BIG BOY FOOD “ , as I call it , namely Tetra Brand Jumbo Min , Large Floating sticks . He LOVES them. Very active and healthy this whole time. Until this morning. When I woke up and turned the aquarium lights on the first thing I noticed was that there was a small patch of scales missing on the top of his head . About half the size of a dime. He’s still eating good and very energetic but I’m worried about the scales missing . There is NOTHING in the tank such as rocks, gravel or even artificial plants. It’s easier to keep the tank clean that way. It’s NOT a hole . Any ideas on what caused this and are there any meds , like Tetracycline , that I should add to the water so he doesn’t get an infection ?? Also , the only other fish in the tank are 2 very small Corydoras and 2 algae eaters. Thanks in advance , R.D. Grey .
<I fully suspect that this Oscar is damaging, has damaged itself by dashing against the side of the system. I would add decor here, the gravel, plants you list as missing, and not medicate the water. The scales will grow back in time. Bob Fenner>

Oscar discoloration        5/17/17
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to assist me with the discoloration on my Oscar. I'm so grateful for the work that you do! I'm very sorry for the length of this email but I want to be as detailed as possible. My husband and I have researched this thoroughly and are quite stumped.
<The length is okay; the 6.5 megs of blurry pix not so much>
I have a 180 gallon tank stocked with two juvenile Firemouth cichlids (roughly 3" each), two juvenile jack Dempseys (roughly 3" each), an Asian upside cat fish (5"), a common Pleco (4"), a 10" marbled sleeper goby, a
10" tiger Oscar and a 12" red Oscar.
<A nice mix>
Ammonia reads 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, and Nitrate 20ppm. Ph stays consistently at 8.2. The tank has been running in my home since October and was previously set up for more than 3 years at my brother in law's house. It has two CFS 500 canister filters and a custom built 55 gallon sump with biological media and filter pads that runs
approximately 1800 gph. A 25-30% water change is done each week and if nitrates go higher than 20ppm (usually after the kids help feed the fish) I do a 10% water change daily until it is lower.
I use prime as a dechlorinator. We use cistern water in our home, the water parameters at the tap are 0ppm for nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia. The temperature is 80°F. The Oscars eat Jumbomin large floating sticks, gut loaded crickets and mealworms. Occasionally, the red Oscar will steal a shrimp from the sleeper goby. There was a slight Cyanobacteria outbreak, however, that was resolved by water changes and switching from t5ho to led lighting.
The red Oscar was rescued from a LFS, previously housed with two other red Oscars (also 12" in size) in a 75 gallon tank before being traded in to the store. The tiger Oscar was rescued from a Craigslist post. It was living in
a 125 gallon tall cold water tank. It was housed with a Bala shark and a wild caught Kentucky Bluegill. Both of the Oscars were rescued and added to this tank at different times in December.
The tiger Oscar started losing patches of color about two months ago. (I have attached photos of the progression in chronological order.) After water changes they will either clear up or get worse, it is not predictable. They are not upraised or "on" the scales and fin. They are also not pitted or sunken. It is as if some of the scales are losing color and becoming opaque on the fins. The fins and scales seem to be intact, no fraying or sloughing. There have been a few instances of a single gill and fin being clamped temporarily but no other symptoms. Even during the times with the clamped Gill and fin it had normal behavior. Still eating and swimming well, no gasping or lethargy. I treated with Prazipro and Maracyn
<Good choices here>
at different times as suggested by a couple of my aquatic enthusiast friends but have not had any luck in resolving it.
About two weeks ago, the red Oscar started displaying these spots as well.
It has not had gill clamping or fin clamping at this time.
After performing the usual water change this week, the patches have gotten dramatically worse. (This is the last photo attached)
I am unsure if this is something contagious or if it is environmental 
<A wise speculation... I discount the latter; and would REALLY like to sample these areas, take a look under a microscope...>
but I have had no luck attempting to find the answer on my own.
Thank you so much for looking in to this for me,
<Could be that this issue is protozoan or (still) bacterial... that Erythromycin/Maracyn didn't "get". I would lace taken foods with Metronidazole/Flagyl and treat in three doses... as gone over on WWM, the Net and in reference works like Ed Noga's. Bob Fenner>

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.>

Sick 9 year old Oscar       12/21/16
We've had our miracle Oscar about 9 years. 10 days ago he developed a cloudy eye and within 12 hours most of his body was covered with white cloudy slime. In 24 hours, his other eye was cloudy as well.
<.... a water quality issue almost certainly here. With this fast issues of these sorts. Water tests, changes stat.!
We tested his water, which was a bit high in nitrates, but within normal*.
<Mmm; how much and indicating what? Ammonia, nitrite?>
We did a 50% water change
<Ah, good>
in addition to our usual weekly 25%; we found the temperature was too low, just below 70 degrees, so we heated the tank up. His tank mates were much happier (i.e. more active). But Oscar now floats on his side and has done for 10 days.
<Not good>
The white slime became more gunky and has not left him, he barely eats. He seems to attempt to swim at feeding times and periodically, but with great effort, like he is having a problem with his swim bladder and cannot stop floating?
<.... Uhh, how large a system is this? What are the tankmates? Foods/feeding filtration, aeration spec.s please>
I do not think his belly looks swollen, no protruding anus, I don't think he's constipated. However, my husband did dose the tank with aquarium salt 6 days ago (1 teaspoon/5 gallons, dissolved in the new water during a water change) and started feeding him peas. He is not interested in the peas, as far as we can tell. Tonight, after re-reading many posts, we fed him brine shrimp. He flopped about a lot and seemed to be trying to eat or seemed excited about the shrimp, but really hard to tell, poor sideways sick guy!
*tank stats: 55 gallon tank, tonight the tank tests pH 7.0, alkalinity 80, chlorine 0, hardness 75, nitrite 0, nitrate 40, sitting at about 77 degrees; we routinely perform weekly water changes of 25-30% and new filter cartridges as needed, usually every week or two; running two filters, Tetra Whisper EX30 and Tetra Whisper EX70 plus Whisper30-60 air pump.
<This is all fine...>
We had him in a 29 gallon tank for 7 years,
<MUCH too small... even just for this one fish>
with many African Cichlids, Bala sharks, cat fish, loaches and Plecos, wherein he occasionally but predictably suffered HITH.
<Environmental stress. This fish has had its life shortened by being too-confined and poisoned by its own metabolites
We were thrilled to move him to a.55 gallon tank this last year. Took the time to cycle it, transfer him safely. He looked strong and healthy for several months, with the exception of his regular scrapes from flipping out & swimming violently around the tank. In the *55 gallon tank currently, we have a 12" Pleco, a 4" lemon yellow African Cichlid, a 2" Cory cat
(Corydoras) and 2 clown loaches (Chromobotia macracanthus) about 3.5" and one 3.5" Striped Raphael Catfish. From reading your many entries, I gather this is an overcrowded situation for Oscar.
<Yes... but mainly due to that Pleco. HUGE waste producers>
I can't believe he's lived so long in a much smaller more crowded tank.
Given the grim state of Oscar and all I've read in your forum, I can only take consolation in the facts we've never fed him feeder fish or treated the tank with Melafix, and that he is currently in the largest tank with the fewest mates in his life. Please advise...Jungle fungal remedy? Epsom Salt every 3 days??
<I'd just keep the system water quality up and hope. No remedies will cure this fish>
Oh, we call him miracle Oscar because when he was a wee 3", the African Cichlids went through a ferocious breeding season and tore his side open one night. We quickly rescued him, but we could see ribs, he was missing most of his tail and right fin. In a safe space, he made an amazing recovery and grew to his impressive stature to become the terror of the African Cichlids who now hide from him. Hoping for another miracle in Oregon, Amy
<Thank you for writing completely and thoroughly Amy. Again, if this were my fish, system, I'd trade in the too-large Pleco (for a smaller species, specimen) and otherwise, continue your stated maintenance, offering of favored foods. I am a BIG fan of pellet staples for such fishes (Hikari, Spectrum are two favored makes).
Wishing your fish health and you and yours happy holidays. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick 9 year old Oscar     1/13/17

Soooo, the miracle Oscar lives into 2017. He's all cleared up, but still seems to be having swim bladder issues.
<Likely damaged permanently>

He spends most of his time vertical in the corner. I don't know what his vent is supposed to look like, but he definitely seems bloated between his pelvic fin and vent. Poor buddy. He eats about every other day. A local fish keeper recommended we feed him Koi food, as it is higher in fiber.
<A good choice>
We have continued weekly 25-30% water changes and biweekly filter replacements.
<Good routine>

Temp's remained steady at about 77F. Anything we can do to help reset his swim bladder or relieve his apparent constipation? Amy
<There is a safe, and often effective "lavage" sort of Epsom Salt treatment that I'd consider. Read here re:
<Bob Fenner>

Oscar; algicide poisoned, then "Fix"ed...       8/16/16
I hope you can help me. I have a large Oscar who up until recently has been very healthy and a good eater. A couple of weeks ago I treated my tank for an algae problem
<Treated? As in what? Used an algicide? I hope not>

which I think originated from a faulty heater which made the tank too warm. I have since replaced the heater and keep the tank at 82degrees.
<Too high for an Oscar. I'd set the heater for the mid 70's F.>
I used an algaecide as directed.
<Toxic... Please read here re:
My tank is a 75 gallon and my fish is about 9-10 inches long. One morning I saw that he had an injury on his head. His only tank mates are a couple of housekeepers, also large but there has never been fighting among them.
<Oscars are forever "jumping", bumping into things>
When I researched the injury it looked whitish and like bites had been taken out. I ruled out hole in the head because it just didn't look like it nor did it seem to bother my fish, Big Red. I treated the tank with a bacterial medication (Melafix) for a week.
<Of no beneficial use. Search/READ on WWM re this sham>
During this time Big Red stopped eating, or when he did try to eat he would spit out whatever it was and with it came what looked like little white particles.
<Smell the API product.... >
He is still not eating and usually loved frozen peas, romaine lettuce, meal worms and shrimp also the cichlid pellets. I have offered everything and he appears to be hungry but the food comes out almost as soon as it is taken in.
Two days ago I did a 25% water change out which was recommended after the bacterial medicine regime. No change in his eating habits. Can you help me?
<Yes... change out about 25% of the water, lower the temperature, add a pound or so of activated carbon to the filter and try offering food everyday
Courtney Ashbrook
<Just need to clear out the mal-influences here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscar
Oh thanks. I am so grateful for your help. Just tonight I got him to eat a little.
<Ah, good>
Some nibbling at the Romaine a few Cichlid pellets and a couple of giant meal worms. I am optimistic he is going to survive this.
You were such a wonderful recommendation from the aquarium guy at my PetSmart. Thank you!
<Cheers Court. BobF>

911 help my Oscar fish please        7/30/16
<9 megs....>
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​I recently purchased a 50 gallon tank for my Oscar and catfish, they were in a 20 gallon tank. I transferred 3 gallons of water from the 20 gallon to the 50 gallon tank and then filled the 50 gallon up with fresh water treated. I replaced the 20 gallon with new water as I always do and treat it. The Oscar usually is upset for the day/night and then things are normal the next day. I was told not to transfer the fish into the new tank for a few hours,
<.... how was the system cycled?>
so I instead wanted to wait until the following morning.
When I woke up, the catfish was dead and my Oscar had cloudy eyes and was very pale in color and had white stuff all over her body.
I transferred her immediately to new tank and rushed to the pet store for API TC Tetracycline
<Of no use here>
and put the suggested amount in the tank. 5-hours later she was swimming around and looking lively again. 24-hours from putting the TC in I took out 13-gallons of water as suggested and put new treated water back in along with the remaining 5 packets of TC. The water turned a dark orange and developed a layer of gunk on the top of the tank.
<Is the TC HCl>
I had a sample of the tank water tested today and it had high amount of ammonia
<The root cause here... NOT cycled>

so I drained about 1/2 of the tank and treated it with API Ammo Lock and the water is registering between "safe .5" and "stress 1.0"
<Won't cycle the system>

Now my Oscar is looking like she's gasping for air. What can I do?
<See above... better, READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above... Let's see; you can/could move more of the olde system to the new, buy/use a cycling product.... Just READ>
video of Oscar gasping for air
photos of the tank
<NO FEEDING, just reading. Bob Fenner>


911 help my Oscar fish please Neale's go    7/31/16
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​I recently purchased a 50 gallon tank for my Oscar and catfish, they were in a 20 gallon tank.
<Certainly an improvement, but still far too little for an Oscar above, say, 5 inches/12 cm, and I'm assuming this catfish is some type of Plec, in which case these need upwards of 55 gallons just for themselves. Both these species are very heavy polluters, so aquarium volume and filtration are paramount, and water changes the key to long-term success.>
I transferred 3 gallons of water from the 20 gallon to the 50 gallon tank and then filled the 50 gallon up with fresh water treated. I replaced the 20 gallon with new water as I always do and treat it. The Oscar usually is upset for the day/night and then things are normal the next day. I was told not to transfer the fish into the new tank for a few hours, so I instead wanted to wait until the following morning.
<How was the new aquarium going to be filtered? Here's the deal: when upgrading fish from an old tank to a new tank, all that matters is that the biological filter is transferred across successfully. Moving gravel across is largely pointless (unless you're using an undergravel filter, of course) and likewise moving across "old" water to the new tank achieves very little because the filter bacteria don't live in the water but on solid surfaces, i.e., filter media. So, what you should do in a situation like this is take the biological media from inside the filter belong to the 20 gallon tank, stuff that live media inside the filter attached to the 50 gallon tank, and then switch the filter on. Provided the new aquarium water is approximately the same temperature and water chemistry as the old tank (doesn't have to 100% spot-on) the bacteria will adapt and your new tank will be instantly mature. You can then move the fish from the 20 gallon to the 50 gallon without problems. If you don't do this, and you simply add the cichlid and catfish to a brand new 50 gallon tank with brand new filter media, you'll get a massive ammonia spike, followed within a few days by a massive nitrite spike, while the filter media goes through it's cycling process. Adding gravel or water from the old tank will have hardly any affect on this because, as I mentioned, these don't carry across many bacteria. For sure there'll be a few bacteria jumping across to the new tank, but only enough to reduce the cycling process from 6 weeks to a few days less than that. So for all practical purposes, no benefit worth speaking of.>
When I woke up, the catfish was dead and my Oscar had cloudy eyes and was very pale in color and had white stuff all over her body. I transferred her immediately to new tank and rushed to the pet store for API TC Tetracycline and put the suggested amount in the tank.
<Did you do a water quality test at any point before adding medication? To summarise: if ammonia or nitrite are not zero, your fish will become sick or die because of poisoning. While bacteria will take advantage of that, leading to Finrot, treating the bacteria will not fix the underlying problem, so the fish will stay sick or keep getting sick.>
5-hours later she was swimming around and looking lively again. 24-hours from putting the TC in I took out 13-gallons of water as suggested and put new treated water back in along with the remaining 5 packets of TC. The water turned a dark orange and developed a layer of gunk on the top of the tank.
I had a sample of the tank water tested today and it had high amount of ammonia so I drained about 1/2 of the tank and treated it with API Ammo Lock and the water is registering between "safe .5" and "stress 1.0"
<Anything above zero is NOT safe, no matter what API say! If their test kit cannot register a zero level, it's not worth owning.>
Now my Oscar is looking like she's gasping for air. What can I do?
<See above. Pretty sure you're dealing with "New Tank Syndrome" going by what you've said. Substantial (i.e., 50%) water changes daily for the next 2-3 weeks are surely essential, though do them before adding any medication for that particular day. While you may be dealing with Finrot as well, it's likely caused by environmental stress, so fix the environment first. Maturing the filter is what's needed. Do you have another tank you can donate some live media from? Established tanks can donate 50% of the biological media without problems. Cheers, Neale.> 

not eating... Ian?      7/10/16
I have two tanks 75 gal.. set up same way, one power filter and two hang on the back filters. water parameters are great. no changes to upset. Both raised on varied diet of crickets worms peas, pellets, river shrimp. Both ten+ inches raised from birth. One is thriving the other has totally stopped eating. Not ill or listless yet. What is up? past my knowing. Vet shrugs shoulders and wants to wait. For it to die??
I’m at XXX.com
<What is the species in question here? Please define "great" for your water parameters, numbers please. Then I can help you more.> John
Re: not eating      7/10/16

Oscar, textbook. better than the amazon.Have been keeping fish both salt,reef and south american cichlids over 50 years.First time stumped.
<Assuming water parameters are as you have described, what is your feeding schedule? I have been keeping monster fish for a long time as well and I often do not feed for a day or so every week to allow them to clear their systems. Large fish such as Oscars do not need to be fed every single day. I would advise moving them to the 300 gallon as it is entirely possible he is stressed out for being in a smaller sized aquarium. I have never kept an Oscar in under a 100 gallon because they are large fish and can get to lengths of 18"+. My Oscars right now are around 17" now. I recommend that they be moved when the 300 is cycled and ready. When is the last time he fed? ~Ian>
Re: not eating      7/10/16

Thanks, I'm waiting for the 300 gal to finish its' cycle, then splash! lol.
I have been feeding all they want every other day since they hit adulthood. Before this it was 6 feedings a day, till 3 inches. then 3 feedings till 9 to 10 inch size. I considered them adult at 10 inches. I have seen some big Oscars in the wild. not so much the 17 inch+size, but the thickness. He had one cricket in the last 4 weeks and this one could eat 5 crickets,10 small river shrimp, then a couple of grubs or worms. Thanks for the help!!!!!
<Most welcome. Do keep us posted on how the little fella fairs. ~Ian>

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>

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.>

5yr old Oscar; Dis.; env.      1/27/16
My Oscar has been struggling for q month.
<"q" month???>
I have tried to get the water balanced but one nitrate is 80mmg and the ph is low still...
<You must keep nitrate below 40 mg/l with Oscars. Above this and they are VERY prone to health issues... Hole-in-the-head for example. If you have zero ammonia and nitrite, that's good. It means your filtration is adequate. But nitrate at 80 mg/l is very worrying. High nitrate means a combination of overstocking, overfeeding, and insufficient water changes.
To recap: Oscars need big tanks (75 US gallons minimum) and should substantial (25-50%) receive water changes weekly. Feeding should be extremely moderate. Oscars will easily eat far too much. Portions about the size of the eyeball are a good start, no more than one meal per day.
Skipping meals once or twice a week is a good idea, too.>
He now has a fuzzy white growth on his eye and white stuff on his fins and body.

<Finrot and/or fungus; fix water quality problems, and treat accordingly with a reliable medication. Not Melafix and other tea-tree oil products; something like Kanaplex for example.>
He looks almost like he blowing water out his mouth with white stuff in it.
I can see the ragged looking skin in his mouth. I did notice the heater isn't working properly also.
<Anything below 18 C/64 F is lethal to Oscars; between that and, say, 24 C/75 F will be stressful. These are tropical fish, and hothouse flowers at that! You need a reliable heater, probably outside the aquarium because Oscars can/will destroy glass heaters in the tank. Eheim make an excellent range of combination heater/filters that work great with Oscars, but there
are nice "inline" heaters from Hydor, among others, that you can connect to the outflow from the external canister filter. External canisters are pretty much the only option for keeping Oscars on a budget because you need a BUCKET of biological media, so using inline filters isn't a major ask.
Even better are sump-type systems (as used for marine tanks) where a glass heater can be put in the sump instead of in the main tank.>
The temp is fluctuating a lot.
<Killing your fish, alongside the high nitrate.>
Please help he has eaten in at least 5 days
<Least of your problems. Oscars will literally beg for food when healthy.
Any Oscar that doesn't is, at best, stressed; at worst, sick/dying. Review, quickly, and act accordingly. Hmm... let me direct you to some reading...
Oscars are easy fish to keep if you have "all your ducks in a row", but if you try to cut corners, they'll quickly get sick. So: giant aquarium, massive filtration, external heater of some sort, cautious feeding. Sound good? Cheers, Neale.>
RE: 5yr old Oscar     1/27/16
I am going to have my water checked and get a new heater and meds....with the water change do you recommend. He's obviously stressed.
<Indeed. You're aiming for:
0 ammonia;
0 nitrite;
average 0-20 mg/l nitrate; certainly no more than 40 mg/l before you do a water change;
stable pH around 7, but anywhere between 6 and 8 is fine so long as it doesn't vary much, though bear in mind below pH 7 biological filtration works less well;
water chemistry soft to medium hard;
temperature 25-28 C/77-82 F.
Cheers, Neale.>
RE: 5yr old Oscar     1/27/16
And also how do you remove the high nitrates?

<Three steps. First, understock the tank so nitrate builds up slowly. Don't try and keep an Oscar in 55 gallons, and don't keep them with other fish unless the tank is huge (I'd reckon at least 100 gallons before I thought about adding a catfish for example). Secondly, don't overfeed; again, so nitrate builds up slowly. Finally, do frequent, substantial water changes.
Up to 50% every week would be about right, but even better is frequent smaller water changes, say, 20-25% every couple of days. Of course this assumes your tap water has low nitrate. The higher the nitrate in your tap water, the more often you need to do water changes. If you have high nitrate tap water, you may prefer to use RO water buffered using commercial
Discus Buffer; do read up on this approach carefully though because very soft water can cause problems if incorrectly buffered and prepared for use.
Cheers, Neale.>
RE: 5yr old Oscar     1/27/16
I just don't get how he's been fine 5 yrs then all of a sudden he's sick and dying...

<Sometimes the question is not "why's he sick now" but "how come he was healthy for so long"? The answer can be simple luck. But do understand fish get bigger as they age, filters clog up over time, jaded fishkeepers do fewer water changes... eventually a tipping point can be reached, after years of success, and a big, old fish can get sick.>
i lost a algae eater a few months ago and he must've kept it pretty clean...
<Algae eaters remove algae, a bit, but don't keep the tank clean. By definition, every extra fish makes water quality WORSE. More ammonia excreted, more nitrate building up between water changes. How big's this aquarium? What sort of filter? Cheers, Neale.>Gobiosoma genie Bohlke & Robins 1968, Cleaner Goby. Western Central Atlantic: Bahamas and Grand Cayman Island. To 4.5 cm. Bahamas and Grand Turks images. Bold yellow V marking on head trails into pale band along sides. St Thomas 2014.

RE: 5yr old Oscar       1/28/16
Its a 30 gallon and the filter that came with the tank.
<Well, and Oscar in 30 gallons is rather like keeping a horse in a shed.
The filter is probably coping if it's a decent size and been there for years, but the tank really is too small, and upgrading the tank to at least 55 gallons is the priority. Upgrading the filter is worth doing, but the tank is the first issue to deal with.>
I never expected to have such a large fish he was only about 3 inches when we got him.
<Oscars grow very fast!>
Im going to get a new filter\pump today. I got the fungus medicine. And treated last night.
<Anti-fungus won't treat bacterial infections. So can be a waste of money. Fungus is distinctive: looks like cotton wool growing from the fish. Long, off-white threads. Bacterial infections look different, usually.>
But it says treat again in 48 hrs then do a water change after 48 more. I think he'll die before then if i don't change the water first and then do the medicine. They didn't have the kind you recommended KanaPlex. But had API brand. I hope that's ok.
<Can't tell if you don't tell me API "what" medication. You need something that treats fungus and bacteria if you can't tell them apart. In the UK, I use/recommend eSHa 2000.>
It turned my water green.
<Sounds like it contains Malachite Green, but tell me what the medication is called and we can help further.>
I went to pet supermarket and they were absolutely no help. So I'm on my own. I had my water tested there thinking it was a different test but it was the same strips! That was a waste of time. He told me what I already knew and no one there knew anything on how to help. The only help I've gotten figuring this out is you. Ph is low alkalinity is low, water is hard, nitrite is 0 and the nitrates if off the charts.
<Low nitrite suggests the filter is basically okay, or you'd detect nitrite (and ammonia). But nitrate is produced by a filter, and removed by water changes, and accumulates faster the bigger the fish and the smaller the tank. Make sense? So "off the charts" nitrate suggests a big fish, a small tank, too much food, not enough water changes... some combination of those
anyway. Nitrate is a slow killer. It stresses fish, but short term spikes aren't a problem. Long term exposure makes them sensitive to other problems and diseases.>
I've done 2 water changes in 2 weeks. Im scared of putting to many chemicals at once that one will mess with the other. Im so lost.....i feel as if he's going to die because of my ignorance....
<Here's what I'd do. Most medications work for a few hours after use, then fade away in the tank. So I'd add the medicine first thing in the morning. I'd go to work, come home, have my dinner, and then, say, 8 or 10 hours after the medicine was put in, I'd do a 25% water change. I'd repeat this process for as long as it takes. When the medicine is done, I'd still keep
up with the water changes, if not daily, then every 2-3 days. I'd feed minimally. On top of this, I'd be looking at a bigger tank. Finally, do remember to remove carbon from the filter if you add medicine. Carbon removes medicine from the water. In fact I'd not buy carbon or use carbon at all! Cheers, Neale.>
RE: 5yr old Oscar       1/28/16

He does have the white furry fungus on his eye and the white stringy stuff on his body a little bit not much.
<Good. There's hope then!>
As far as the tank foes my other half (husband) was suppose to be taking care if the tank....im supper ticked at him!
<I bet. Oscars are easily overfed. They actively beg for food, and worse still, some people feed them live goldfish and other very unhealthy foods.
So it's super-easy for them to become sick if you aren't careful. Feed small meals, skipping the odd day.>
When I realized he was feeding him too much and not properly doing water changes I have taken over!! Now he's my fish! I will do what I can to save him! Thanks for all your help! I put in the meds last night. I attached a pic of the front and back of the medication box.
<Looks promising. "Secondary bacterial infection" is very likely what you have here along with the fungus, so with luck, you'll be fine with this.>
His tank is proper heated now. I am doing a water change today! What type of filter do you recommend if not carbon?
<Just remove the carbon. If you can, replace that segment of the filter with biological media, even filter floss, which can buy loose in bags. If you can't, just leave that compartment empty for now. Carbon is a menace if you're trying to heal a sick fish! Cheers, Neale.>
RE: 5yr old Oscar       1/28/16

How do I get water that is ok to put in there every couple of days?
<Assuming your water chemistry is reasonably stable, you can buy the quite handy "automatic" water changers -- the "25ft Python No Spill Clean And Fill", for example. Drain out 25% of the water from the tank, add dechlorinator, then use the Python to take water straight from the tap to the aquarium. Alternatively, 3 to 5 gallon buckets are cheap and obviously
work great, they're just harder work. Don't change more than 25% of the tank at any one time unless it's an emergency because it's hard to keep water chemistry and temperature constant. Now, if your water chemistry varies (often the case with well water for example) you might want to draw the water into a bucket, and let it stand overnight before use.>
I have 5-1 gallon jugs I use. But that is clearly not enough! Any suggestions?? Thanks
<Cheers, Neale.>
5yr old Oscar       1/28/16

Figured I send a pic so you can be introduced...this is Sushi.... And his sick pitiful self.❤
<Doesn't look too far gone, but yes, a bit rough, that's for sure. The eye looks swollen... would use Epsom salt alongside other medications... do read:
And also...
Hope this helps, Neale.>

RE: 5yr old Oscar....       1/29/16
Lol im sorry but I could not understand ALL the info on the salt. I don't have a problem doing it. I would think it would hurt him a lot to have the salt burning his eye?
<Tears are salty, are they not? Eyes are meant to have salty water around them. So don't fret.>
Just a question. How much can I use? And how often?
<Dosages all in the article...
2 gram/litre for the aquarium salt; for Epsom salt, 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres. As always, dissolve thoroughly in a jug of water before adding to the tank. Also, remember that if you do a water change, add the appropriate dose to any new water on a per-bucket basis. So if you replace 5 gallons of water, the new 5 gallons of water has to have 1-3 teaspoons of
Epsom salt added. Don't make the mistake of adding the amount needed for the WHOLE tank per water change otherwise you'll make a right mess and probably kill your fish. Do read, digest, reflect. One of those times basic maths is important! Cheers, Neale.>
RE: 5yr old Oscar      1/29/16

1-3? So do I start with like 1.5 teaspoon s per 5 gallons to be safe or 1?
<Choose something between 1 and 3, less for safety, more for serious situations. But even 3 teaspoons of Epsom salt per 5 gallons/20 litres of water is safe with cichlids. DO UNDERSTAND this is for Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate), not aquarium/table salt. For aquarium/table salt (sodium chloride) I'd weigh out the salt using kitchen scales if at all
possible, so you can keep to the 2 gram per litre of water amount. Google will tell you how many litres your aquarium has if you're used to gallons... for example 30 US gallons is 113 litres. Multiple the 2 gram by 113 to get a total of 226 gram per 113 litres (or 30 US gallons) and weigh that amount out carefully. Or don't use salt at all if this is all too terrifying.>
I. Sorry I've just don't been trying to save his life and im scared of overloading him...thank you so much....hr ate a little this morning...
<A good sign. Neale.>

RE: 5yr old Oscar        1/30/16
I fear he will loose his eye though...
<Definite possibility. FWIW, fish can manage just fine with one eye. But fingers crossed! Neale.>
5 yr old Oscar        1/30/16

I am so discouraged. I have bought
a $ 100 worth of stuff and CANNOT get the nitrates down. And he isn't getting better... I have changed 25% of the water 3 times in 5 days..... I don't know what else to do but drain the whole tank and start over....i could choke my husband! Sushi's eye looks horrible also......
<Nitrate won't go down immediately. It'll be diluted by each water change though. So if you have 100 mg/l, do a 25% using water with zero nitrate, it'll go down to 75 mg/l. Your test kit may not even register the change.
Furthermore, your water probably has some nitrate, so the reduction will be even less, and on top of that, the fish is excreting ammonia and that means the filter will be producing nitrate! Bottom line: stop feeding, do 25% water changes each day, perhaps twice a day if you can with a few hours between them, and after a week or so you should find nitrate lower. Make
sense? You're learning now while nitrate is harder to "cure" than "prevent" via water changes, under-stocking, and not feeding too much. Neale.>
5yr old Oscar        1/30/16

So last night I did a water change and medicated him this morning. He did eat this morning. I assume that's a good sign.
<Yes, but I wouldn't go crazy. A little treat of a snack, that's all!>
However the nitrates are still high. Another water change tonight. But his eyes still looks bad. I know you said something about aquarium salt but im kinda scared of that
<Don't be.>
Ali BG
with everything else im doing to his poor soul! I tested the water I had sitting in jugs and it was perfect. But this morning the ph is below 6.2 so is the alkalinity. The water is still hard and the nitrates are still high....not giving up yet.....just curious about adding salt. I don't want to overload him and stress him put more. Another thing...he keeps like coughing out white stuff since I started the meds is that normal?
<Not abnormal, anyway.>
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

5 yr old Oscar. Reading... PLEASE!        1/31/16
Thank you so much for corresponding. My water that im putting in doesn't have nitrates I checked. However today the nitrites is a lil high along with the nitrates.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwno2faqs.htm
and the linked files above>
So far there were 0 nitrites. It was a little last night but a little higher this morning.....poor fellow I am slowly killing him I
believe.....he still has a little bit of the stringy stuff (not alot)
<No such word. It's a lot>
but some. His eyes is still in rough shape. I guess I will change it this morning but do I put salt in the new water every time?
<Just the amount, percentage removed>
And also what about the temp fluctuating so much with all the changing of the water will that make him worse? One more...sorry do I keep putting fungus meds in it?
<The same as the salt; per the API instructions. Bob Fenner>
5yr old Oscar        1/31/16

Im sorry to say but Sushi is not doing well... I changed his water again today 25% and added salt to the new water which was 2.5 tsp to 5 gallons and water conditioner, and fungus meds. I gave No food today. He acts like he has no balance.....staying in one place most of the day and going nuts when im doing anything to the tank..... I don't know what else to do.....now the nitrites are showing up.....Uggghhhh
<What are your water quality readings? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? Hardness, pH? BobF>
RE: 5yr old Oscar        1/31/16

Well I have the dip sticks.
<Neither accurate nor precise. See WWM re>
The nitrates haven't changed In over 2 weeks they are still 100+
<ppm? Waaaay too high. DID you read where Neale referred you? High [NO3] is a function of:
1) Too small a volume, tank size relative to:
2) Biomass (stocking), and
3) Foods, feeding, along with:
4) Capacity of ones filtration (mainly bio. and chem.) AND
5) Maintenance practices...
Your Oscar IS (?) in at least a 55 gallon?
No other animal livestock present?
You're scarcely feeding proteinaceous foods?
You've added to filtration PER YOUR READING to enhance bio. (and poss. chem.) processes?>
the nitrites are .5- 1
<Deadly toxic at high pHs... again, ARE YOU READING?>

where they were 0..... my sticks do not have the ammonia readings......I don't know what else to do for him
<Less feeling and more understanding what is going on here. READ the items above and respond honestly>
.....and his eye still looks band.....no better at all....i just checked on him and he is still alive but just hanging in there.....�� I feel horrible for him!
<... What are you going to do? B>

RE: 5yr old Oscar..... reading for comprehension, or at all. Env. dis.       2/1/16
Im sorry but I have read ALL the info that Neale referred me too.
<Ah good. We have some 30k users per day... WWM is a reference site, not a hobbyist bb>

I don't quite understand all of it but I do some of it. Im writing you back with the info to what I've done so far that Neale has educated me on what to do. However I am not a expert by any means and I don't really appreciate all the unnecessary comments like did I read anything!
<Sorry to state; but this is how it appears... w/ your writing back that you don't know what to do. Had you read clearly you'd understand
Yes I have and I know these things are toxic but I have done everything Neale told me to do on top of spending alot
<.... again; no such word>

of money. I have really been trying but everything I have done and its only worse. The water doesn't even look healthy. Its orange looking brown on the bottom half of the tank and green from the meds on the top half. He is so stressed from all the water changing and cleaning his tank everyday. He cant see out of one eye so he's even more stressed.......so frustrated....
<Go back and re-read where you're been referred to. You fail yet again to answer my direct questions. Your statements tell me/us little of substance; comments re your feelings are of no use. B>
RE: 5yr old Oscar      2/1/16
<Don't write: READ>

Don't get me wrong please I am very thankful for all the advice......I just don't know what else to do but drain like 50% of the water.....if I don't do something drastic he is going to perish from not being educated. I really want to choke my husband because he was not doing it correct this while time or even at all. yher is no other fish in a 39 gallon tank....hes been the dame size for 2 yrs but my heater had stopped working properly and u didn't realize till it got very cold last week is when he started showing signs..his eye which is lost im sure by now and the clear stringy stuff on his body which he doesn't have anymore as far as can see... His eye and the water so toxic is what im concerned for. I cannot by a new tank at this moment. I just spent $100 this past week on chemicals,medicine, new water conditioner that reduces nitrates and nitrites and new filter with no carbon, new air pun for more ariation and Epsom salt. I've changed the water 3 times in 6 days actually 4 because im about to do it again. My tap water does not have either nitrates it nitrites in it...so im stumped aa to why it doesn't lower and now the other nitrites are showing. I just feel he needs new water maybe.....im no expert for sure but the water looks old and stinks of old water...
RE: 5yr old Oscar      2/1/16

Thanks for all your help but I do have to say I really appreciated Neale's help ALOT <sigh> more than yours. I am truly sorry for expressing any "feelings" about my pet that you have no use for or agree with. Apparently I cant read nor do I know what a real words! Havea good evening Bob.
<And you>

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