FAQs on Platy
FAQs on Platy Disease:
Platy Disease 1,
Platy Disease 2,
Platy Disease 3,
Platy Disease 4,
Platy Disease 5,
Platy Health 6,
Platy Health 7,
Platy Health 8,
Platy Health 9,
Platy Health 10,
Platy Health 11, Platy Health ,
FAQs on Platy Disease by Category:
Nutritional (e.g. HLLE),
Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal),
Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...),
Fishes, Livebearing Freshwater
2, Platy Identification,
Need moderately hard, alkaline water w/ a dearth of
metabolite content. NO NH3/NH4OH, NO2... little NO3
My fish's tail... Lernaea? 3/24/17
So I have attached the best picture I could take of my fish's tail. It is clear,
but as you can see there's a white line on it, she never had this before, I've
had her for about a week and saw she had it today. What is it?
<Can't be absolutely sure as your large pic file is blurry, but this appears to
be an "Anchorworm"; crustacean parasite... common in imported livebearers and
goldfish raised in ponds.>
And are my other fish at risk?
<Mmm; yes... There are a few approaches to treatment... Please read here:
and write back if your path is not clear. Bob Fenner>
Mickey Mouse Platy concern. Uncycled sys.,
I've only had her for 3 weeks, but since the beginning
I've seen her pooping white and now clear strings.
I thought she had internal parasites,
<Not necessarily; no>
but due to high ammonia
<Toxic... why is there livestock placed here? Have you read re cycling?
and the linked files above>
in tank and the appearance of red gills I have been doing daily water
changes and only feeding 1x a day
<... don't feed, nor change too much water... Read>
and not buying meds yet. She has a really huge belly, and a really good
appetite. I don't know if adding anti parasite meds with the possibility
of her having injured gills would make matters worse for her gills. I
also don't know what will happen with the biofilter, since the water
changes are working to lower the ammonia levels. I'd really appreciate
any info that can save my fish from further harm. Thank you!
<Do the reading and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mickey Mouse Platy concern 7/18/14
Thank you, Bob. Please tell me if I should continue to change 25% of
<Yes I would... and limit the percentage to this; so as not to further
disrupt, delay the establishment of nitrification>
Ammonia has been at 0.50 for past 3 days and has not gone down further.
I really appreciate your help! Jen
Re: Mickey Mouse Platy concern
Hi Bob. Please help me I don't know what to do. My ammonia level remains
<.... have you read on WWM re establishing cycling? Do so again>
with the daily water changes, and now it looks like my fish developed
Velvet disease. Can I medicate even though the ammonia is not at zero?
My platys are still swimming and eating, but I see dusty
powder on their tops, and the Mickey Mouse's black spot has greyish
streaks. Thanks in advance, Bob. Jen
Platy in a Tank (a 3-gallon tank, at that!)
I am so glad I found your website, unfortunately I did not see my problem
there. I have had one platy ( the one with the orange body ink black
fins and tail) I do not know what kind it is and if it is male or
female. She/he is the only one in 3gal tank and lived there for about 1
year and 9 mos.
Recently I have noticed at the base of the tail becomes see through. He
is eating normally and swimming normally but I am worried as the spot
gets bigger. He/she survived two times through ick and this is my only
aqua buddy I do not want to kill him.
Thank you o much in advance,
<Hello Gergana. The bottom line is that this aquarium is far too small.
Your Platy may be too cold, or too stressed, to be healthy. Platies need
~15 gallons at minimum. I'm amazed yours has lived for almost two years,
but they should live 4-5 years, so don't get too excited about your
success just yet! It sounds like your Platy has Finrot, a common problem
when fish are kept poorly. Do start by reading here:
Unfortunately for you, animals cannot survive on love alone, and if you
care about an animal, you need to provide it with what it needs. You
might care to start here:
And while this next article is about Goldfish and Bettas, the basic
theme is relevant:
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Platy in trouble, env. 2/8/13
Back again....geez!!! Thanks so much for being here for us in our
time of need. I lost two Mickey Mouse Platys about 2 months ago
with dropsy which I'm sure was my fault because during the holidays I
got behind on water changes but I have four fry two very small and two
about 3/4 inch that seem to be fine and eat well, along with three male
guppies a large red platy and a smaller orange platy. The red and
orange were introduced while the Mickeys were still in the tank. I
now have two peppered Cory's in a 26 gallon tank with
artificial plants, two moss balls and a tower and two small treasure
chests. Ammonia and nitrites stay at zero, and I've had a problem
with nitrates so I've bought a new and hopefully more efficient gravel
vacuum. Ph seems high at around 8 but conflicting suggestions on
lowering it with babies in the tank scares me. Water temp
is at 84f
<Too high. Would be better ten degrees cooler... See WWM re for these
and they have done well but now I have a big problem. The big red
one almost looks as though she has a bit of white fuzzy look to her and
she stays in the tower most of the time and the orange one has white and
black stringy pop and hovers at the bottom of the tank now. I'm
terrified of loosing <losing> them but I wonder if its from whatever
took out the Mickeys. Also my 3/4 inch which parents died with
dropsy seem a bit bloated. I am so frustrated I want to scream and
sad because I truly am attached to them. Thought about treating with
Maracyn two since the little ones look bloated and dropsy got their
parents but with the long stringy poop in the orange and bottom hovering
maybe Tetra's Parasite Guard would be the best first step so I don't
lose the orange platy but afraid to do anything because of the babies
and my 5 gallon hospital tank isn't ready because I'm doing a fishless
cycle in it although I could get a heater for it and do a water change
taking the tank water from the large tank and add it to the small tank.
What do you suggest because I don't feel I have much time for my big red
and orange platys!!! Thanks so much for helping me!!!
<Read... likely the environment is all that needs fixing here. Bob
New guppies bald spot area on top of them
I am a newbie but have read, and read and read prior to getting 4
sunrise tequila guppies in a fishless cycled 26 gallon tank.
<Everyone starts as a newbie. Good to see you reading.>
I am running two over the top filters, one that came with the tank set
up and a 20 gallon that I added new cartridge pads rinsed in treated
water ( dechlorinated) but my large water change prior to adding fish
sent my nitrites up to 2.0(I know its horrible!!!)
<A water change increased your nitrites? Very odd. I suggest
getting some java moss or Christmas moss and other live plants for two
reasons. first, it will help to absorb the nitrogen compounds and
second, it will provide cover for the eventual fry, allowing you to
leave them in the main tank.>
so I added Prime to help lower them and provide a stress coat for the
fish., ammonia is staying at zero and nitrates rose to 20 so I did
another small water change today( just added fish yesterday) but am a
little worried because two seem fine and active, two hover at the top
but are not gulping for air.
<You should be able to do this volume of water change every day no
Wondered if its just stress, their nature or am I missing something???
<Guppies do tend to like the upper levels of the tank, so could just be
My other concern is they have beautiful color(4males) except on the top
of their heads where it looks kinda dark or bald. Is this a normal
marking on some or a disease waiting to devastate them and me???
<Probably just natural variation on the color pattern.>
It took 4 months and two tries to get my fishless cycle and 1 day to screw
it up with a large water change so I'm scared to death to do anything
else!!! Please help because I've fallen in love with them
<A large water change shouldn't screw up a cycled tank. The
beneficial bacteria resides on surfaces, so you won't lose much with a
water change unless possibly you forget to DeChlor, but even then a lot
Try testing the water right out of the tap and see if it contains any
ammonia or other nitrogen compounds. If not, we need to step back
and analyze where the nitrites are coming from. - Rick>
Re: New guppies bald spot area on top of them 10/24/12
Thanks so much for such a quick reply!!!
Any ideas on where to look for other sources of my nitrite spike???
<It's possible (and even probable) that the nitrite to nitrate end of
the cycle crashed. It should recover in a few days. Just keep
monitoring and if the levels get too high, do a partial water change.>
You guys are awesome for new fish enthusiasts!!! Thanks again!!!!
<You're going to make me blush. - Rick>
Re: New guppies bald spot area on top of them - 10/25/2012
Sorry but one more question please.
I still have zero ammonia and 2.0 nitrites
<Are you sure you are measuring nitrites and not nitrates? Big
difference. How are you measuring it and how old is the test kit
being used? And, if you are correct and nitrites are 2.0, what is
your nitrate reading?>
so I did another small water change tonight with AquaSafe and Prime to
try to protect this fish but should I vacuum my gravel to get any missed
food and poop or leave it alone to help with my apparent re-cycle???
<Unless you have a planted tank with substrate specifically for planted
tanks, vacuuming the substrate is a good idea.>
So many different opinions but I trust you and I'm afraid of causing
more problems!!! Also, are 4 guppies in a 26 gallon tank enough to keep
my ammonia eating bacteria going???
<Enough to maintain the 4 guppies. However, if you have both males
and females, you won't have only 4 guppies very long.>
Hello! I've been reading from this site for a couple days now and
still don't have an answer for my question. I have a 1 gal
tank (I know, very very small, but it's best for my college
<Why your fish are dying…>
with 2 fish, a Red Wag Platy and a Sunburst Platy. I originally had 2
small goldfish in the tank and the lady at the pet store said that the
same tap water cleaner I used for my goldfish would work for the
platies. I'm unsure of the pH, temperature, and
ammonia/nitrate/nitrite levels, but I'm planning on getting some
things to help me with that.
<How are you keeping the water warm? You have a heater? What about
filtration? You do need a biological filter. These aren't
My problem, the Sunburst Platy (Leo) is always laying down on the
rocks, completely still as if it's sleeping.
<Dying… water too cold perhaps if you have no heater, or else
being poisoned by its own wastes if you don't have a filter. Even
if you have both a heater and a filter, the water volume is so tiny
this fish likely doesn't get the oxygen it needs and its metabolic
wastes are becoming too concentrated too quickly.>
I'm always tapping the tank to make sure it hasn't died yet and
it gets up and swims just fine.
<Tapping the glass scares the fish, so swimming merely implies it
has just enough strength left to swim away from danger.>
I did do a 30(ish)% water change the other day and it was back to
it's normal swimming behavior as when I got it. However, the next
day it was back to laying down again. It's color seems to be the
same as it was and I was told that they're both males, however I
question that. It also doesn't seem to eat, and at first I thought
that the Red Wag (Jackson) was being a pig and just hogging all the
food, but Leo just seems uninterested. I'm feeding the Omega One
Tropical Fish Flakes (same as the pet store). These are the first
platies I've ever had, but a couple friends said they weren't
too hard to take care of. Also, Leo seems to do a little
"dance" when he is up and swimming. My grandma looked it up
and said it had to do with mating and attracting females,
but there are no females (according to what I was told). Just wondering
what this means. And one more question...what would be the best way to
travel 2.5 hours with these fish back home after school? I got these
because my two goldfish died on the trip to school and don't want
to kill 2 more fish if it can be avoided.
<Compared to life in a 1-gallon vase, being carried about in a 3 or
5 gallon bucket will be positively healthy for these fish!>
Thanks for the help! -Cecily
What is wrong with my platy?
Hi, I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do with my sick platy. I am
new to fish keeping and so far have relied on the advise <advice>
of a chain pet-shop. Having started researching online though about
this current problem I'm worried that I have been misinformed. Ok,
so the tank is 25L
<Too small for platies, and much else>
and was set up with sand, pebbles and plastic plants 3 weeks
Everything was washed and I added aqua safe. The tank has a filter with
water jets. After 4 days I tested the water and all looked ok
<Too high... see WWM re Nitrates in FW systems>
NO2 0, PH 8.0, Cl2 0) I wasn't entirely sure what all this
meant so I took a water sample to the pet shop and they said it
So I bought 2 male platys. All was fine, I did a 20% water change
after a week (and every week thereafter). About a week ago my partner
(much to my dismay) came home with 2 minnows
and 2 danios. Everything was fine for the first few days but then we
noticed our larger male platy charging at our smaller one.
<... the too-small world>
The smaller one started to take to hiding amongst the plants where it
seemed to be getting left alone. Yesterday evening though all the fish
seemed to be picking on it. On closer examination I noticed that it had
a chunk missing from its tail fin and it has got really skinny. We
tried rearranging the plants so that they were in separate areas of the
tank (thinking it may be territorial) but it didn't really help. I
watched the tank for a while and I think it is our minnow nibbling at
Later I saw that it's top fin was missing? We removed the poorly
platy from the tank and as we don't have anywhere else we are
currently keeping him in a 5L plastic bowl (not ideal but we had no
alternative). Since he has been in the bowl I have noticed he has two
large fuzzy patches on his back end and he is passing white/clear poo?
Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
<... You need to "go back three steps"... Learn what
you're about. Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platysysfaqs.htm
then on to the linked files above.>
I want to save this platy as my son (who is very ill himself) is very
attached to him, but I an also worried about the other fish.
<Educate yourself on WWM. Bob Fenner>
<These fish need a bigger world.>
Hey, I just sent a message to you about 30 minutes ago and had some
more information about my Sunburst Platy, Leo. I got back from class
and noticed that he does have a white spot growing close to his tail.
Everything I've found suggests this is Ich. So I noticed you've
told some other people that salt is a good way to treat Ich, so I went
ahead and did a full water change (it needed to be changed) and added
around 1 Tablespoon of plain table salt. I'm hoping this will work,
although I know it's about a 50/50 chance of survival. There
isn't any way I can quarantine my fish, otherwise I would. Please
just let me know what you're thoughts are on this. Thanks again!
<If you only have 1 gallon, get some cut flowers. This tank is too
small for this fish. It is/they are dying. Hmm… what else, do
No magic or mystery here… your fish need more space, proper care.
Re: Sunburst Platy "Sleeping"
Thank you for the advice. I realize my tank is very small, and I did
mention that at the store before I bought them.
<Not sure I understand this. Did you buy these fish and tell the
retailer you planned to keep them in 1 gallon of water?>
The tank has a light on it
and also has a stone that has air blown into the water.
I know it's not filtering the water, but I can only do so much
while I'm at school.
<No heater, no filter. That's what counts here. Not wishful
Neither the light nor the airstone have any impact on the environmental
conditions in the tank.>
Leo seems to be doing slightly better already,
and Jackson has been the same as when I brought him home.
<For now. Fish can put up with dire conditions for a while -- days,
weeks depending on the species and the individual. But these fish are
on Death Row for all practical purposes, with no future at all.>
As for the cut flowers, is that suggested in place of using salt? Or is
that to help with oxygen production?
<Neither. I meant remove the fish to another, sensible, humane
And use this 1-gallon box of water (death trap for fish) as a place to
put cut flowers, i.e., use it as a vase. It's not an aquarium, so
don't delude yourself if into thinking that it is. I'm sorry I
can't offer any better help here, but you're effectively
keeping an elephant in a garage, and wondering why it isn't doing
<Do please read, learn from others who have made the same bad
choices as you have. I'm happy to help where there's a point in
doing so, but there's no solution to keeping Platies in 1 gallon.
It's not possible, long-term.
You need at least 10 and really 15+ gallons for this species.
Sick Platy and Mysterious Fry. Need
About three days ago I noticed that my only platy, a red female, had
started alternating between resting at the bottom of the tank and
floating near the top, seemingly weak and/or sick. All other fish
seemed perfectly fine, and her tank mates were 2 female mollies, 2
catfish, and a little school of neon tetra.
<Mmm... the mollies and Neons need quite different water...
temperature et al. wise. All posted on WWM for your review>
I checked the water parameters and all seemed fine
<Need values, actual measures to help you>
except that the pH was slightly low.
Yesterday, I went and bought two young female Platies, two male
<... how large is this system? Swords can be rather rambunctious;
and get much larger than many people realize. Please see WWM re these
and one male molly to add to my tank. I've had my female fish for
about 3 months and the platy has always been the smallest of the group
and never appeared pregnant. The two new females are also definitely
Today I noticed for the first time a tiny fry hiding in a plant and I
have no idea where it came from. Could the platy have given birth even
though it has always been thin?
It continues to seem sick and resting towards the bottom of the
<I would not be adding more life to a system w/ an apparently ill
Please search/read on WWM (the search tool is on every page at the
and write us back w/ the requested information. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Platy and Mysterious Fry
Thanks for your advice!
Luckily my female platy is now doing much, much better and swimming
around like normal. I'm starting to really think it was her that
gave birth, though she never got bigger and still doesn't seem
smaller. The PH in my tank is around 6.6 so, but it used to be around
6.4, so I'm not sure if that's super low or if its okay.
<Much too low. Platies must be kept in moderately hard to hard
water, and the pH must be above 7. Read here for more on water
A simple approach is to use about one-half the Rift Valley salt mix.
This mix is extremely cheap and works very well. So per 5 gallons of
water, add half a teaspoon of baking soda, half a tablespoon Epsom
salt, and half a teaspoon of marine salt mix. That should deliver
around 10 degrees dH general hardness and a pH around 7.5. Do this
gradually. Mix up the three mineral salts in a jug, enough for your 15
gallon tank, top the jug up with water, stir well, and add only about a
quarter per day, adding another quarter the next day, and so on. This
should ensure the fish have time to adapt.>
My tank is 15 gallons and houses 9 fish and a school of 4 tetra. I read
not to use the PH balance chemicals for aquariums with plants in them,
is that true?
<No; it's rubbish. But don't add pH-up or pH-down liquids
like those sold in aquarium shops. You don't have anything like the
experience to use these safely, and will simply waste money and/or kill
your fish. Do what I've said above, and it'll cost pennies a
month and work very safely.>
I didn't realize mollies and tetra weren't suited for living
together because of temperature... I also have another separate 10
gallon tank with 2 small goldfish where the water is kept colder,
around 73-75 degrees, if you think that would be a better home to add
my tetra to, as my main tank with my mollies/swordtails is around 80
degrees. Thanks for the help!
<The Platies, Mollies, and Tetras can/should get along at 25 C/77 F
in medium-hard water if you keep the water spotlessly clean through
regular water changes and excellent filtration. Cheers, Neale.>
Platy fry red spots? Slimy snails? Moldy
Hi, I'm Jenny. I am a proud-ish owner of a.... rather
crappy-looking ten gallon aquarium...
Nonetheless, most of the fish and snails are doing fine.
Well, this rather overstocked aquarium has a 1"5 fantail,
<Goldfish I take it>
<Umm, not compatible, nor will either live long or well in such a
1" gold panda platy, who is the happy mother of two beautiful
broods, and a rams horn snail, with seven "snaillings."
I need my bedroom ceiling to be redone (it caved in because of a
collapsed air duct) so as soon as I get the furniture moved back in,
I'm buying a twenty gallon for the platy, angelfish, etc, and a
pond set next summer so I can put the fantail in it.
Yesterday I had just put the first platy brood in the tank- three
bright, happy, energetic platy. They seemed fine to me, as they were
swimming around and nipping the algae off of everything, chasing the
bigger fish and eating more algae. Then, this morning, I noticed the
smallest of the three (they're all almost 3/4 of an inch) was
missing. I look around to find him/her lying on the gravel, jus sitting
there. I didn't have time to examine it, though. So I got home from
school this afternoon to take a closer look. He has light, reddish
splotches on his sides, right around the middle of the space between
his anal fin and pectoral fin.
Nitrate: 40 (trying to lower it)
<I'd keep at half this maximum>
Nitrite: surprisingly at zero
<Why surprising? How did you cycle this system?>
Ammonia: around .25 ppm
<Any is dangerous, toxic>
pH: 6.8 ppm
I'm still concerned, but since he still comes up to eat, I'm
not sure of what will happen to him next... If he'll stop eating?
He dies and the other fish eat his corpse?
........ If he dies, I shock him with a 2 volt battery and he comes
back to life?
(I watch way too many science videos, but that would be pretty
All he does is sit a the bottom, nestled in between rocks or hiding
behind a plant in the back. He doesn't just hover over the bottom,
either- he literally sits ON the bottom. First thought was he was
having buoyancy problems, but the red splotches threw me off.
It worries me so much...
<Stop worrying and read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above>
I have to clean the gravel because it got very dirty, so all of the
decor was taken out except for a rock to hold down cucumber slices that
I give them, all of the live plants, and a breeding net for the second
brood of 6.
Two more questions:
If there are too many snails in an aquarium, will they produce too much
<Mmm, have never seen this happen>
I have several in a breeding net, only about 2mm in diameter, and
there's a bunch of spots floating in the top, like oils on the
surface of water. Is this normal or is it bad?
<Can be bad... from household aerosol/s, cooking... best to
"wick off"... or dip a pitcher in the tank at an angle to
Also, there's a bunch of different algae and slimes growing in my
Some are red that grow under the water, some are greenish brown that
get stuck in the nooks and crannies, and some are white and
fluffy/slimy that grow on or right underneath the surface. It's
kinda gross and makes cleaning the filter a HUGE hassle, taking me two
days to clean it all with the spare time have. There's also molds,
just green, brown, or white, growing on the filter lid or on the
cartridges. I had to take my biofilter out (the one with a bunch of
white, tangled stuff inside a cartridge) that comes with the filter
set. None of this will stop coming back. Are there any suggestions you
have for getting rid of the crap growing in my filter?
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm
and the linked files...>
Anything you can tell me will be much appreciated. I hope you can help
me figure out what's wrong with my platy fry.
<Water quality... uncycled system>
Thank you for your time,
<Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platy fry red spots? Slimy snails? Moldy filters? 10/3/11--
> <Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Bob
<You obviously have not done as I previously requested... a shame,
and waste of y/our time. B>
Thanks for the reply.
Boy am I even more worried than before... my platy from the second
brood was acting funny. I've heard of it before, but I can't
remember. The platy was turned sideways (nose pointed all the way down)
and it started spinning like a drill spins.
I'll probably look it up after I send this message and try to
identify the illness. Sadly, it died...
Well, the nitrates I'm trying to get down, nitrites were
surprisingly, and in a good way, at zero. Usually when my nitrates are
high, my nitrites are, too, that's why it was surprising.
<... these two are almost never positively correlated>
Also, we don't use aerosols or anything near the fish tank, and
it's only inside the breeder net where the snails are staying.
I'm wondering if the snails are diseased or something... I'm
not planning on keeping them, anyway- they kill my plants! I'd
stick with the Plecos, but they either get too big or die because they
won't eat the cucumbers or algae wafers I give them.
<Search WWM re smaller Loricariids>
Oh, and it doesn't get any better: the fry that stays to the bottom
won't budge. I put him in my fishnet and placed it at the top of
the water. He won't come near the surface to eat. I don't know
whether to add salt or turn up the heat, treat with Fungus Clear or
just euthanize him. And I kind of had to work hard to keep them
healthy, so all of them dying is a big waste of my time.
Not to sound cruel, but it's probably just easier for me to
euthanize them all. It saves me the trouble of finding homes for them
and paying for shipping and all of that good crap. But with all of the
money and time I put into the tank, I want to earn a bit of it back
with these fish I can sell.
Also, the water is definitely cycled. I'm guessing it's just
the water quality. No other fish are showing signs of illness so far.
The roofing guy hasn't called back yet to fix my ceiling, I
can't get the bigger tank until it IS fixed, and I'll still
have to cycle the thing for a month at least!
And even when I'm doing water changes every day or other day,
nothing has budged. I don't know what to do. Are there any other
and the linked files above>
I can do besides water changes, which will, if I do any bigger than
20%, shock my snail to death? I've tried some nitrate and nitrite
removing chemicals, but they didn't do anything either.
If any more of these fish die, I'd probably just tear the whole
thing down and start from scratch.
If there's any other suggestions, tips, or anything, it would be
<See the above>
Sick Platy 11/17/10
I am reading for days all over the internet to figure out what is going
on with my fish. Few background information: first time fish tank that
my son wanted to have and now I am stuck with :(. 10 gal tank, no life
plants, was cycled over a month ago, tem 78 F, ph unknown, nitrate and
nitrite 0 but ammonia picked up this week to 0.25-0.50 (changed 40% of
the water after this). The tank started with two platies, they were
happy, always swimming around and looking for food when I came near the
tank. Before the tank was
cycled one of them gave birth, the fry died short after. After the tank
was cycled one of the platies stared to hid in the treasure chest, I
assume maybe pregnant again. The other platy stayed active and ready to
eat but it seemed to be losing weight and after a while died. The other
play still hiding, no new fry, but eating and getting bigger. I did not
have time to buy another platy for a while so I assumed that the
remaining platy is just scared of being alone. Two weeks ago I bought
two new platies, one died 2 days later, the other one seemed to be
active and happy until few days ago when it started to hid as well.
They both come out to eat but other wise are hiding on the bottom of
the tank and if they are out, as soon as I
come near they react very scared and swim crazy around trying to hid
I know they are sick but it is kind of hard for me to see what it is if
they are hiding like this. If I see them I still am not able to tell
what it could be after going over all those symptoms listed here. I do
not see any white spots but the colour of the first platy looks
subdued. Not sure how the breathing should look like, not sure of
anything anymore :(.
Was not really my idea of a hobby but I hate to see any living organism
sick and unhappy.
Thanks in advance for any help, info or advice that you could give
<Hello Katharine. One problem is that 10 gallons is really too small
for Platies; I'd recommend at least 15 gallons. The difference
might not sound very much, but in fishkeeping, the amount of water
makes all the
difference! Read here to learn more about stocking small tanks:
Next up, temperature! Platies come from relatively cool, lowland
They will not do well kept warm. Aim for 22-24 C/72-75 F. Thirdly,
Platies need hard, basic water conditions. In other words, if you have
soft water, they will get sick and probably die. Aim for 10-25 degrees
dH, pH 7.5-8.0. Read here to learn more about water chemistry:
Sometimes adding small amounts of marine aquarium salt mix has a tonic
effect on Platies (and livebearers generally). You don't need much,
2-4 grammes/litre, so this is a very economical way to keep these fish
Marine salt mix is MUCH better than "tonic salt" or
"aquarium salt" so don't make a false economy here!
Marine salt mix contains salt but also other minerals that harden the
water and stabilise the pH, so the overall effect is strongly positive.
Fourthly, review feeding. If you have non-zero levels of ammonia and
nitrite there's a good chance you're overfeeding. A small pinch
per day is adequate, and Platies are primarily herbivorous so use
algae-based flake food not plain flake food. The fact your fish are
hiding suggests they're stressed, not "sick", and my
guess would be you're providing poor environmental conditions.
Check water quality, water chemistry, and water temperature. Cheers,
Re: Sick Platy
thanks for the fast response :). I will get over the points that you
The tem and the size will be a problem. We live in FL and during the
summer I keep the house at 81 F, winter will be no problem but AC in
Summer is money eating monster :(. The size is the only one that we can
fit in the house as of now. I am now angry at the store that sold us
the platies, I trusted that they will know the best fit for us.
Thanks again for your help.
<Hello Katherine. Keep the aquarium out of direct sunlight, and it
shouldn't get too hot. Platies can handle a few months of warmth
during the summer. They do come from Mexico after all! But if kept very
warm all year long, they will not do well. Aquarium size is a problem.
Few fish do well in 10 gallons. Platies really do need more space. The
females get quite large, and the males can be aggressive, and in both
cases the result is stress. When fish are stressed, their immune system
stops working. And then they get sick. Hope this helps. Tscheuss!
What is wrong with my Platys? Am I doing everything
correctly? -- 11/9/10
Dear WWM staff,
<Not staff, merely volunteers, but hello back at you!>
I am a new aquarist. I purchased a 20g tank on October 3, 2010; I set
it up and introduced the fish a week later.
<Do understand that filling a tank with water doesn't do
anything. You have to provide a source of ammonia for a filter to start
the maturing process. Since you haven't done that, it's almost
certain your fish were exposed to non-zero levels of ammonia and
I started with 4 male platys (two grey and 2 red wagtails), 6 neon
tetras, and 6 X-ray tetras, some decoration and 2 live plants (one of
them is a fern).
<Do also understand that many plants sold aren't aquatic and
will die, and in dying they rot and remove oxygen from the water. Do
read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/keepoutfw.htm
Selaginella willdenowii and Trichomanes javanicum are two NON-AQUATIC
ferns commonly sold to inexperienced aquarists.>
On the third week, I introduced an Anacharis plant, and the water
started to get cloudy. I could see very small particles floating
towards the surface. I did a 30% water change, and after two days I
lost 1 neon tetra and the Anacharis rotted (I had left the led weight
on!). I bought another Anacharis and 2 small moss balls.
<Moss Balls are coldwater plants and will not do well in a tropical
aquarium above 22 degrees C.>
After another week or so, I tested the waters and the ammonia was
On week 5 or so, we added 4 female platys. Also, the tank suddenly
cleared up, and the ammonia levels are 0. I think it has cycled, or it
is at the end of the process. I am feeding everyone the same flakes
(for Homnivores), and they all seem to get along well, and are active.
Now, did I do everything correctly?
<No; read here please:
Your fish are sick, dying because the aquarium filter is not
I am asking because in the last two days, all my platys (4 boys and 4
girls) are sitting at the bottom of the tank, on the gravel, behind the
fern, the Anacharis and a natural rock; they do not look or act sick,
and if I approach the tank they will come out. They will just stay
there unless they see me and I feed them, while before they used to
swim around the tank at all hours of the day. They are still responsive
to food and one or two will swim around.
<DO NOT FEED until the ammonia is below 0.5 mg/l; do 20% water
changes per day for the next couple of weeks. Do not add any more fish!
Check the filter is working, and make sure you understand how it works
and how to maintain it. Clean filter media gently, squeezing in a
bucket of aquarium water.>
Of the first four (the males), one of the grey wagtail will chase the
other grey male, but would leave the red males alone. That is when I
decided to bring in the girls. I might have overcrowded. Please give
advice. BTW, I am buying some veggie flakes, would that help them?
<Yes, vegetarian flakes are a good staple for Platies. But that
isn't the problem here.>
Thank you in advance for your input. Francesca B.
<Glad to help. Do read, learn; any questions, write back. Cheers,
Re: What is wrong with my Platys? Am I doing everything correctly?
Thank you for replying.
I forgot to mention that I purchased a Marineland Set, with heater,
light, BioWheel three stage filter with carbon in it, and that I used
Stress-Zyme and StressCoat as directed at set-up, and the following
<Okay, well, the carbon is pretty pointless in a tank like this, but
Marineland will happily sell you that because the profit margin is
colossal. As for Stress-this an Stress-that, they're fine enough so
far as they go, but they don't replace the need to cycle the tank.
You need a source of ammonia, and that's traditionally a couple of
hardy fish, e.g., feeder as opposed to fancy guppies, but more recently
people have favoured fishless methods, i.e., small daily
"feedings" of flake for the first few weeks before adding
fish, or the daily use of ammonia to create a concentration of about
2-5 mg/l ammonia. If you haven't done one of these three things,
you haven't cycled your tank. The ammonia feeds the bacteria, and
the bacteria multiply. Just running the tank without any ammonia source
-- whether fish, food, or ammonia solution -- does nothing more than
get the filter wet. It won't mature that way, period. There are
some potions said to jump-start the filter so you can add fish that
day, but frankly, they're pretty unreliable. I wouldn't
recommend a beginner use them.>
I followed the instructions carefully during set up, and waited a week
before introducing the fish. I do understand that the 4 male Platies, 6
Neon and 6 Pristella Tetras helped me 'cycle' the tank.
<That's the problem. Cycling is extremely stressful for the
fish. Ammonia levels above 0.5 mg/l cause serious stress, and above 1.0
mg/l will be sickening or lethal.>
Currently, I change the carbon filter every two weeks,
<Get rid of this, and add more biological media, e.g., sponges or
ceramic noodles. Do read what the different types of media do. Carbon
has very, VERY specific applications and in most community tanks does
nothing useful. Indeed, it can even do harm by absorbing
and do a 10% water change every week, but I do not touch the Bio
<You need to be changing 25% water change every week or two, once
the filter is mature, and that takes about 6 weeks from the time the
filter was exposed to an ammonia source (whether fish, flake, or
ammonia solution). Prior to the filter being mature, and any time
ammonia and nitrite levels are above zero, you need to do more water
changes than this. 20% every day or two would be the minimum.>
Last night, when I got home from work, I found out that all the eight
Platies have Ich, but the Tetras are free from it. I suddenly realized
that Ich came with one of the females introduced lately.
<Perhaps, and stress will certainly allow Ick to emerge from the
background into a serious problem. As noted, carbon will remove Ick
medication, so remove the carbon before using such.>
I did a 10% water change, raised the temperature to 80 from 76F,
cleaned the gravel lightly and partially (I also found some tiny
snails) and today I have read all the FAQs on treatment (salt and heat)
and will treat as soon as I get home (I am at work).
<Salt/heat would be ideal in this situation.>
Can I use CopperSafe (Mardel), or Rid-Ick+, or Super Ich Cure together
Can I use Pima-fix to prevent other skin injuries and generally give
them a booster?
<Would not do this.>
Also, the tetras show no sign of Ich for now. How are the elevated
water temperature and the meds treatment going to affect them? How far
can I raise the temperature before harming them?
<Raising the temperature to 30 C/86 F is necessary here; while Neons
and Platies prefer cooler conditions -- ideally 22-24 C/72-75 F -- they
will tolerate warmer water for a couple of weeks just fine.>
I started the hobby (on the wrong foot I know) to help my 5 years-old
daughter cope with moving up to a new school - her old provider is
successfully running two saltwater tanks (29G and 125G), and she was
<I see. A fine sentiment, and I'm happy to help. But please do
visit your local library or bookstore and pick something up accessible
and relevant. Manufacturers and retailers are of variable usefulness as
sources of information -- much as they are when buying houses, cars, or
anything else. Spend a little time understanding the cycling process,
what ammonia and nitrite do to fish, and how to minimise problems
through the cycling process. I'm not wild about Neons because the
quality of farmed specimens is pretty low, and Platies vary in quality
from good to bad, but X-ray Tetras are a superb species for beginners,
one of the best in fact. In any case, to keep these together aim for
moderately hard water that is slightly basic, i.e., 10-15 degrees dH,
pH 7-7.5. Softer water will kill Platies quickly, and harder water will
dramatically shorten the lives of your Neons. X-ray Tetras are very
adaptable, and do well in both hard and soft water, one reason I like
them. As for temperature, as stated above, 22-24 C/72-75 F should be
Now I am genuinely 'attached' to all my fish, and hate to see
Again, thank you for your time.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: What is wrong with my Platys? Am I doing everything correctly?
I have lost 3 fish: 1 female Platy (the first one I noticed with Ich),
and 2 Neons (I suspect for the 86F temperature raise). I also noticed
that one Pristella is affected by Fin Rot. Can I treat him/her with
antibiotic as Maracyn products from Mardel?
<Yes; little choice in fact -- untreated Finrot quickly turns into
Septicaemia, and that kills within days.>
Or do you have any suggestions? I am trying to 'do damage
control/salvage as many as I can'. The other Platies Pristella and
Neons only show signs of Ich.
<Do the salt/heat thing, but do understand it *doesn't* stop the
white spots, it kills the free-living stage, so you do have to wait a
few days to see results.>
I read all your suggested readings, and I am looking for a good
informative book on aquaria in use in the US. When I read the WWM
article on Tank Set-up, I performed everything it says, EXCEPT the most
vital steps like performing quarantine on fish and plants, and letting
a local LFS sell me too many fish to start the cycle.
<Ah, I see'¦>
If I end up losing all of them, I will let the tank run fallow, and
<By all means do so, but keep adding small pinches of fish flake
every day otherwise without ammonia in the system (ordinarily from the
fish) the filter bacteria will die. If left fallow for a week,
Whitespot should be exterminated, especially if kept warm as stated,
because the free-living stage needs a host within a day or two
otherwise it dies. At 30C/86F, the white spots should mature and burst
into the free-living stages within a day or so.>
I have a question: for a beginner, what is best, a 20G or a 55G?
<A bigger tank is always safer and easier, but above a certain size
maintenance becomes more difficult. For what it's worth, anything
between 30-55 gallons is a "sweet spot" in terms of healthy
fish and easy maintenance. That said, a 20 gallon tank isn't
impossible to set up; if you begin with half a dozen X-ray Tetras,
which are an excellent species, and keep them in the tank for a month
before adding, say, half a dozen Peppered or Bronze Corydoras, you
should find things very simple. With them all settled down, after
another month you might add a personality fish, perhaps one Angelfish
or a male/female pair of Banded Gouramis, these latter being very easy
to keep (unlike Dwarf Gouramis or Three-spot Gouramis!).>
Thank you for your time again.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
very skinny platy 8/2/10
I'm really baffled about one of my fish. About 4 weeks ago I
noticed my orange platy laying at the bottom of the tank and she
appeared to be pregnant, so I moved her to a 2.5 gal tank along with a
<As a rule, moving fish from proper-sized tanks to silly-small ones
like this doesn't usually do any good. It'd be kind of like
having a hospital in a cramped, damp basement. Wherever you move sick
fish to, conditions have
to be *at least as good* as where the fish is coming from. Since
Platies need 15+ gallons for regular maintenance, I'd not consider
anything below 8-10 gallons useful in terms if a hospital tank.>
This tank is a little warmer and has more hiding places so they can
have their babies in peace and comfort.
<Platies don't like warmth; optimal temperature range for the
standard sort is 22-24 C/72-75 F, and a couple of degrees cooler for
About two days later she was back to her normal size and swimming at
the top of the tank. I assumed she had her babies though I didn't
see any. I put her back in the regular tank and checked for the babies.
I removed all
plants, stored the gravel and even checked the filter...no fry.
<Cannibalism is not uncommon, and miscarriages frequently follow on
from stress, e.g., by confining Platies in too-small aquarium or
Then a few days later I saw her laying at the bottom of the tank until
I got closer, then she swam to the top for food. I noticed she was
I assumed she'd die soon but 3 weeks later she's still alive,
eager to eat but still lays at the bottom of the tank until I come by
to feed them. She doesn't gain any weight no matter how much I feed
<I'd try deworming before anything else.>
There are 3 other platys in the tank and several guppies. They show no
signs of sickness. Just this one. I'm a fairly seasoned fish owner.
About 2 yrs now. Started with goldfish, moved to African Cichlids and
since I needed to do something with my 10 gal tank I decided to get
some guppies and platys.
<10 gallons is really not big enough for either species. I'm
sure you've noticed aggression between males and from males towards
females. Plus, in a tank this small females can't find much
shelter, so they're prone to miscarriages.>
I've made a lot of mistakes and learned from them all and now have
very healthy tanks. But this one fish has me stumped. What could
possibly be wrong with her and what should I do? Thanks for your
<I'd go with worms. In any case, check water chemistry and water
temperature are in the zone for Platies, i.e., pH 7-8, 10-20 degrees
dH, and temperature as stated above. Guppies tend to prefer warmer
water, so the two species aren't really compatible.>
P.S. I love your site. It's been really helpful these past few
years : )
<Thanks for your kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: very skinny platy 8/3/10
Thank you so much for your help. It really explains a lot. Looks like
I'm still learning : )
<Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>
Platy, Molly and Frog in 1.5 gallons; ooh, surprise,
they're dying! 6/1/10
I'm really quite new to this owning frogs and fish business.
<Indeed. Do read.
Do a degree, most problems come with keeping the wrong fish in the
wrong-sized aquarium in the wrong set of environmental
I have two African Dwarf Frogs, a Sunburst Wag Platy, and a Dalmatian
<Mollies are not really compatible with these other animals. While
Dwarf Frogs and Platies should get along fine provided the water
isn't too warm, Mollies need much warmer water and typically need
slightly saline conditions.
If you have hard water and keep the aquarium water very clean -- by
which I mean 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 20 mg/l nitrate -- the
Molly may be okay. But it's difficult to predict.>
I've only had them for a couple weeks but the very next day after I
clean the tank (1.5 gallon)
<Far too small; these animals WILL die in there. The frogs may be
viable in 5 gallons, the Platies need at least 15 gallons, and the
Mollies 20 gallons+. It's not just about swimming space, though
that's important; it's also about social behaviour and their
sensitivity to changes in water quality and water chemistry. Very small
containers of water expose livestock to constant changes in conditions,
and inevitably this leads to death. Me telling you anything else is a
total waste of time unless you upgrade this aquarium to at least 20
it gets cloudy and this white, cloudy, cotton like weird stuff forms at
the bottom of my tank.
<Fungus and bacteria consuming organic waste, essentially doing the
same thing as mould on bad cheese.>
I have no idea what this is and it spreads really fast.
<Because the aquarium is too small, overstocked, and
Within two days the water in my tank is so bad I can't see through
to the other side and I think the nastiness of this mystery substance
killed my other Sunburst Wag Platy, though I'm not too sure.
<You are wrong. Rather, the death of the Platy and the appearance of
the white mould in the aquarium are both symptoms of the same problem:
this 'aquarium' is far too small.>
I change the filter often.
<Meaning? Do you understand that filter media needs to be cleaned,
not replaced, and that it takes 6 weeks for cycling to take place
before the filter can effectively remove ammonia? Furthermore, in a
tank this small, no amount of filtration will save the fish.>
I've tried using a product called Clear Fast by Nutrafin which says
it is supposed to make a difference in the water within 3 hours.
I've never seen a change for the better.
<Indeed not; you've replace lack of knowledge with blind faith
in marketing. The Capitalist Way perhaps, but not particularly
Also upon reading the question/answers I've seen some people say
they only feed their fish every other day.
<Depends on the fish. Frogs need not be fed every singly day, but
Platies certainly should receive a small meal of algae-based flake food
once or twice per day. Problem is, in a tank much smaller than 15
gallons, any amount of feeding Platies properly will overload the
Am I not supposed to feed mine every day? I feed my frogs little foggy
bites from HBH (though they don't often eat that, they do eat the
fish flakes). Is that bad?
<Least of your problems.>
Thanks for your time,
<You need to do some serious reading. You ARE killing these animals
through ignorance of their basic requirements. Hope this helps.
Re: Male platy with what looks like
cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
One last point of potential interest. I have been leaving the
tank dark for most of the day. I was told that the medications
and supplemental bacteria are more effective in a dark tank.
<Nope. Again, your retailer exhibiting skill at marketing to
the uninformed rather than offering useful advice. Antibiotics
will work regardless of light intensity. Carbon, on the other
hand, will remove many medications from the water, so if you use
carbon, you have to remove it from the filter. Did your retailer
I have had the light on for about one hour in the morning while
feeding, then off to add life bearer and bacteria, then on for a
couple of hours late afternoon/early evening then off to add
<Couldn't make the least difference.>
Again, thanks for your help.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Fwd: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 2/10/10
My original message is below. Thanks again and cheers.
<Diana, you sent 32 (!!!) images and I really don't have
the time to go through them all. Please, send one or two that are
germane to the issue at hand, and I'd be happy to examine it.
Nonetheless, my basic argument
stands. This tank of yours is far too small for the livestock
being kept, and in the case of the Platy, some combination of
Finrot, Fungus and/or Columnaris is to blame. These three
diseases are caused by chronically poor water quality, so I'd
urge you to review the needs of Platies, and act accordingly. If
euthanasia is appropriate, do read here:
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 2/10/10
Thank you Neale, your responses are very helpful. I have a
feeling, though, that you may not have received my original email
regarding my poor sick fish and the attached pictures. I've
got your thoughts on my supplemental
emails but not yet on the real problem-namely my platy with no
mouth and his chance for survival. I have resent it.
<It's the tank! The tank! It's too small! The fact the
fish has mouth fungus (Columnaris, actually a bacterial
infection) is incidental to the fact a tank this small cannot
provide the right water quality (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite) and stable
water chemistry (for Platies, pH 7.5, 10+ degrees dH) that the
fish needs. If the fish has no mouth and can't eat, then yes,
euthanasia is appropriate. But killing fish that don't
survive in this tank won't fix the fundamental problems.
Anything else in there will, eventually, go the same way as this
Platy. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth
plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. - 2/10/10
I have read through your website extensively looking for
help with my situation. While I didn't find exactly
what I was looking for I did notice that most readers asked
questions while giving you little or no practical
information (i.e. water reading, photos, etc.). So, as not
to waste your time I tried to be thorough and give you what
I had hoped was helpful data so that you could assess my
situation accurately. In trying to do this it appears that
I have done just the opposite as evidenced by your response
below. I am sorry.
<It's okay. But we do have limited e-mail space, and
if folks send 32 images, as you did last time, or 3 MB of
images, as you did this time, cause problems for other
people. If the e-mail space is used up by one message with
lots of photos, then other peoples' messages get
bounced back. So it's not about me being crotchety, but
more about making this a level playing field for everyone.
We do ask for people to send around 500 KB
images, right on the page where our address is
I have attached two images, one of my frog and one of my
Water readings today: 7.0ph, 0ppm nitrite, 0ppm ammonia,
temp 80 deg.
<A little warm for Platies, and the low pH suggests a
low hardness, and that's crucial for Platies. Check
what the hardness is, and if necessary, harden the
No carbon filter.
I just do not see how the sick platy can possibly survive
and after reading the article you sent I may decide to put
him down today. That leaves me with just the two seemingly
I understand now that the tank is too small for what is
living in it.
I was obviously misinformed by the place that sold me the
<The "misinformed" bit is the key. As I've
stated, and as I'm sure you know deep down, you
don't buy pet animals without at least reading one book
beforehand. Any aquarium book would tell you what Platies
need in terms of
aquarium size, water chemistry, and temperature.>
But, this is what I have and I would like to try to give
them the best care possible in a tank that is healthy.
<Hmm... unfortunately, life doesn't work this
Until this tragedy they had all coexisted nicely for over a
<Indeed. While the fish are small, the loading on the
filter and water buffering capacity isn't too great.
But a threshold point comes where the fish have grown so
big the filter and aquarium capacity aren't enough.
Conditions start to go bad, the fish become more and more
stressed, and then various diseases get
So, in that spirit, can you advise me as to what to do
<I'd be lying if I told you there was a solution.
With the best will in the world, a 5 gallon tank isn't
adequate for Platies. Sure, more frequent water changes
will help, and check the water hardness (especially
carbonate hardness) will go towards keeping pH stable. But
still... it's little boy's finger in the leaking
Should I give the two Platies back to the store
that sold them to me and keep only the frogs?
<If you really want to keep this 5 gallon tank, then
Thanking you again,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton
mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Thank you again for your help. My sick platy has died and I have
a few questions about how to proceed.
<I'm sorry he died.>
1. I am inclined to return the two other Platies to the store and
keep just the frogs and snails in my tank.
I am assuming I should continue to treat the tank with the full
12 day supply of antibiotics (tonight will be treatment #6)
before doing so.
<I'd stop treating if none of the other fish have symptoms
of disease. Overuse of medications can cause problems of their
own, and since Finrot-type infections are opportunistic and
latent in all aquaria, it's not like you can "kill
off" the disease in any meaningful way. In other words,
prophylactic treatment is pointless.>
2. Should I continue treating with the Life Bearer medication? If
so for how long? (none of the surviving creatures are exhibiting
signs of fungus or protozoa but the platy with the mouth
infection who died did)
<Only medicate if fish show symptoms of disease. If they
don't, don't medicate.>
3. When should I start water changes? Immediately or after
treatments stop? Should I change the filter material and
<Water changes should be regular and as frequent as possible.
It's wise to do a 25% water change when you stop medicating,
primarily because during treatment you're not usually allowed
to do water changes. But medications
typically get broken down within a day, so the idea you need to
flush them out is a bit misleading. In any case, yes, do a water
change tonight, and then get back to the normal 25-50% water
changes per week. Do review how
filters work. Changing biological media (e.g., sponges) is
hazardous because you throw out the filter bacteria, so normally
you should simply rinse them off in a bucket of aquarium water,
and then put back in the filter. Only mechanical media (e.g.,
pads of filter floss) and chemical media (e.g., charcoal) need to
be replaced. In most freshwater tanks, charcoal is redundant. So
unless you have a problem with yellowing water or rapid pH drops,
I'd forget about carbon, and focus on biological
4. When can I give the tank a light cleaning? (plant pruning,
algae scrubbing, substrate vacuum etc.) I haven't wanted to
disturb my fish while they were healing and the tank looks a
little worse for wear.
<Clean whenever you want. It's a good idea to stir the
gravel with a pencil or chopstick just before you siphon out some
of the water, so you can slurp away some of the detritus.>
Thank you for your guidance,
<Happy to help.>
PS Per the question I had asked about my frog who looked like he
was turning white - he shed his skin. Found a perfect empty
little frog shaped skin floating in the tank this morning. Looked
a bit like a frog wet suit.
<This isn't at all normal. While they do shed small sheets
of skin all the time, shedding a lot of skin tends to suggest
irritation. It's like comparing the little bits of skin we
lose every day to an all-over sunburn!
Or more accurately, it's a way aquatic frogs deal with toxins
and parasites in the water. Not fatal or even dangerous in
itself, but if a frog is forced to react this way repeatedly,
it's stressful. So while I wouldn't lose any sleep just
yet, if the frog keeps shedding skin, review water quality and
act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 2/11/10
One last set of questions and I think I will be all set:
<By all means.>
I did a 50% water change today, replaced the filter pad, trimmed
up the plants, scrubbed the algae, "vacuumed" the sand
and added some beneficial bacteria.
<Why? Why? There's really no such thing as a potion that
adds beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are there already;
they're either happy or they're not. It's really up
to you to create the favourable conditions. Please please please
save your pennies for a bigger tank, rather than wasting it on
stuff you don't need.>
Everyone seems to be doing well.
I had added 3 teaspoons of salt to the tank last week during the
first 3 days of medication. I added 1 teaspoon today when I
changed the water. So I have about 2.5 teaspoons of salt in the 5
gallon tank presently.
<Again, why? Salt brings nothing useful to this system. Have a
Salt is one of those things shops will happily sell, but hardly
any beginners have a clue about what it can do.>
I have read WWM that Platies love salt in their water but frogs
not so much.
<Platies tolerate salt; they don't love it. There's a
big difference. I tolerate girlfriends who smoke, but I don't
smoke myself. So it is with your Platies; they'll put up with
salt at low doses rather better than most other fish, but they
don't come from brackish water habitats. At this trivially
low salinity, the salt won't inhibit Finrot or Fungus; to
that, you'd need enough salt to kill the frogs (or at least
severely stress them). So you're doing something here with no
benefits and plenty of risks.>
Should I add more salt or am I good?
<"Good" isn't the word I'd use. Diana,
please take this in the spirit of helpfulness in which it is
meant: you're reacting, but you're not understanding.
It's time to sit back, read a book on frog or fishkeeping,
read through some of the articles I've sent you to, and try
to understand what's going on. Once you understand the
situation, you'll be able to care for these animals rather
Also, I am slowly reducing the temp of the tank. What would the
ideal temp be for the Platies and frogs while they are sharing
Once I am sure the Platies are indeed healthy I will be returning
them to the store. Once they are gone and I have only frogs in
the tank what is the proper temp and should I discontinue any use
<Yes, stop with the salt already.>
Thanks again for your help. You have been very patient with me
and I am grateful for your advice.
<I am always pleased to help.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton
mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. 2/23/2010
Diana here again. My second Platy has passed away.
I am now down to one platy who has started to show signs of the
same mouth condition that killed my first and I am not sure how
to treat it this time around. Last time I treated the tank with a
combo of Life Bearer and Metronidazole on a daily basis for 8
<Do water changes when medications are done. Remember not to
use carbon while medicating, but you can use carbon when
"cleaning up" after medicating to mop up any
Tank now has one platy and two ADFs.
PH 7.2, Nitrate 0ppm, ammonia 0ppm,
<Good. pH a bit low for Platies, but depends rather more on
the hardness than anything else. Platies hate soft water.>
temp 77 degrees
<Bit warm for Platies, to be honest, but shouldn't kill
After initial 50% water change I have performed two 20% water
changes and added no salt.
In addition I have purchased a gravel vacuum and have been
cleaning small patches of the sand on the bottom during these
I have also added a BioMax filter insert.
<Not really sure what BioMax might be... some type of
biological filter media? That's good.>
<Happy to help.>
PS So far my frogs appear to be holding up although they are
hiding more and eating less than in the past. Understandable
considering everything this tank has been through in the last
I am feeding them every other day at this point to reduce the
<Is ample of Hymenochirus spp. Stick a thin slice of cucumber
in the tank for the Platy to peck at; this'll provide some
energy, but without much protein, so water quality won't be
harmed. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton
mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 2/23/10
Thank you Neale.
Yes, you are correct, BioMax is a biological filter material.
Figure this will allow me to change the flossy pad (and all the
fish poop that it collects) without throwing out my bacteria
colony at the same time.
<Yes; ceramic media lasts ten years or more, especially if
rinses regularly to keep the pores from becoming irredeemably
Are you recommending that I repeat the same round of medications
for this fish that I did for the others that died (Life Bearer
<No, wouldn't do any more medicating. Would suggest
sitting back, leaving things to stabilise for now.>
Or, is there another course that you feel would be more
beneficial? And, if you are recommending the same course, should
the two meds be administered at the same time or one in the
morning and one at night?
<Shouldn't make any difference when in the day you dose.
But do follow the instructions on the packet.>
Will slowly drop the water temp a bit to 75 degrees and am off to
purchase a water hardness kit today.
<Cool. If you have hard water, you probably know, because the
kettle furs up and the washing machine needs water softener, like
Calgon, added to each load. If you have a domestic water
softener, don't use that water in the
tank, but rather the unsoftened water from the drinking water tap
(it's usually recommended you don't drink softened
So grateful for your advice!!
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white.
Thank you. I do not have high hopes after seeing what happened to
platy #1 with the cotton mouth, it looked like a very painful
And, platy #3 is already having a hard time eating, if he is even
eating at all.
<Wouldn't push it. Fish can go a couple of weeks without
food, no problems.
Much better to focus on water quality.>
I will add the cucumber and will wait and see with my fingers
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white.
This is silly but...
1. Should I peel the cucumber (I am thinking yes) or do they like
<Makes no odds.>
2. should I anchor it to something or let it float?
<I use lead weights to hold it down. But Platies will peck at
floating cucumber, too.>
3. how often do ADFs need to eat? Should I be feeding them daily
or a couple of times per week?
<"A little, but often" is a good approach. Daily if
you want, but not too much, and their bellies should be gently
convex, never swollen.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white.
BioMax is the ceramic rings layer in Hagan's AquaClear Power
Filter (top layer) and also Fluval.
<Would seem to be the case. Thank you.>
I'm glad I got a chance to write because I wanted to offer
you what our NASCAR drivers often take in times of stress:
<Yikes! Sometimes I need the industrial strength alternative
though... there are only so many sick Bettas a guy can read about
without needing a (very) stiff drink.>
It'll make you an honorary Southerner.
<My mom, Chicago girl that she was, would be horrified at the
thought. But the sentiment is much appreciated!>
<Take care, and thanks for writing! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white.
Once again thank you. You are a wonderful source of information,
as is WWM!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton
mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 02/25/10
<Hello again Diana,>
Well, just when I thought I had gotten everything squared
away...here I am asking for your help once again.
As promised I purchased a water hardness kit today, and I am glad
And, after reading the results I am beginning to see where things
started to go terribly wrong (above and beyond having too many
fish in my tank which I now know was the heart of my
My temp is 75 degrees, ph is 7.2, ammonia and nitrite still 0, GH
is 196.9 and the KH is off the chart!
<In itself, hard water isn't bad. Hard water fish -- such
as livebearers, Rainbowfish and shell-dwelling cichlids -- will
love this "liquid rock". On the other hand, there are
soft water fish -- like Neons and Rasboras -- that wouldn't
like it at all. Here in Southern England liquid rock just like
this is very common, and not an impediment to successful
But you do need to be careful about what fish you choose.>
And when I say off the chart I mean it - the highest the chart
measures is 12 drops of solution to change the water from green
to yellow. It took 28 drops for me to accomplish the color change
with my sample of tank water.
I tested my tap water and it turned in 3 drops - 53.7.
<Okay, so while your tap water is fairly soft, your aquarium
water has been much hardened. This would mean you've added
something to the water in the tank. On the whole I recommend
against that unless you know precisely what you're doing and
why. If your tap water is soft, it's best to choose fish that
like soft water, and simply do regular water changes (25% weekly
is fine) and largely ignore water chemistry. It really depends on
what sort of fishkeeping you want to do. If you just want a tank
of pretty fish for minimal effort, then test your tap water,
determine whether it's hard or soft water, and then choose
either hard or soft water species. If you want to keep specific
types of fish, perhaps because you want to breed them, then you
may need to adjust the water chemistry to match the requirements
of that species. That's usually harder work, so something
most hobbyists are better off avoiding.>
So I started thinking about what could be in that tank to cause
such a situation when I remembered that a while back I asked my
fish guy why all of my snails had thin shells with holes in them
- he suggested low calcium in the water and gave me some crushed
coral to put in the tank. It was not long after that I started
losing my snails, then my algae eater, then my 2 Platies.
<If you mess about with water chemistry, and don't fully
understand what you're doing, it is possible to stress or
kill your livestock.>
I have picked out as much of the coral that I can find and will
continue to remove any pieces that pop up during future
Additionally, I have been using Neutral Regulator to condition my
water (again as instructed by my fish guy - rather my ex fish
guy), which has been keeping my ph in the 7.0 range - not knowing
then as I do now that my fish prefer a higher ph.
<Now, this is where the wheels come off the wagon. It's
actually quite difficult to create an aquarium that's all
things to all fish. Much better is to choose fish that match the
water chemistry of your tap water, and therefore avoid having to
add anything to the tap water other than water conditioner (I
will remind you and other readers to avoid using water from a
domestic water softener because of its rather odd water
My question is this, what do I do now to get my water hardness
squared away in my tank.
<I'd do two things. Well, three really. First is establish
your local tap water chemistry. If I read your message right,
your tap water has fairly low General Hardness and Carbonate
Hardness; see the charts on the linked page to compare your
readings against these descriptions:
If you have water that isn't too hard, anything from
"soft" to "moderately/slightly hard" then you
can keep a wide range of species including tetras, barbs,
loaches, South American cichlids, gouramis and catfish. If the
water is "hard" or "very hard", then
you're better off with livebearers, goldfish, Rainbowfish,
Malawian cichlids, Central American cichlids, Tanganyikan
cichlids, and "critters" such as frogs, shrimps, and
I have found a lovely new aquarium supply store who has sent me
home with the following:
Water conditioner with no ph corrector ("Superbac")
African Cichlid Conditioner ("Nutrafin")
<The first product is useful, though no more or less so than
any other water conditioner. All you want from water conditioner
is that it removes chlorine, chloramine, copper, and ideally
ammonia (from agricultural run-off rather than your fish). Not
really sure why you need African cichlid conditioner since
you're not keeping any African cichlids, are you?>
How do I proceed with increasing water hardness and ph without
shocking the %#$@ out of my tank. And, do I need to increase both
KH and GH?
<Go slowly. Do 25% water changes once a week, and let the
water chemistry change that way. After a month, the tank should
essentially have the same water chemistry as your tap water.
Since this is fairly soft, that's ideal for soft water fish.
I'd rehome the Platy and the frog if at all possible, since
neither is likely to do well in soft water. Both prefer hard
If you explain to the nice man at the new pet store what the
situation is, it may well be that you'd be able to swap these
chaps for something appropriate to a soft water aquarium, like
half a dozen Neons.>
Also since my tank holds 1 platy and 2 ADFs what should my water
hardness and ph be to make both kinds of creatures happy.
<Now this is the tricky bit. To keep Platies happy, you need
moderately hard water, let's say about 10 degrees dH (178
mg/l calcium carbonate) with a pH around 7.5. If your tap water
is substantially below that, Platies simply won't
Last but not least I have purchased flaked Spirulina to feed my
platy and some moss to attach to a piece of bog wood that I going
to add to the tank (have boiled it for hours and have been
soaking it for weeks to try to get rid of the tannin). I saw on
WWM that my platy might enjoy snacking on the moss and I know my
frogs will love having the hiding place.
<Certainly the frog will enjoy the hidey-hole. As for the
Platy, the Spirulina will certainly be appreciated, and they do
like eating the algae and detritus that accumulates in
PS I explained to my new fish guy the tank struggles I have had
You should have seen his face when I told him that I am going
about rectifying this latest round of illness by stabilizing the
tank and improving my water quality rather than medicating the
tank to death. It was as if someone finally got it - then he gave
me two thumbs up and a high five. Thank you for your
<Sounds like you've made a new friend there! Cheers,
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus
2 ADFs who are turning white. 2/28/10
Good morning Neale,
<Good evening Diana,>
I wish I were writing with better news but I am not.
My lone male platy is showing no signs of improvement and is in
fact slowly getting worse.
Like the first platy to die this one's mouth is becoming
increasingly infected and is virtually disintegrating day by
<This is likely Columnaris, what is sometimes called Mouth
Fungus. It's notoriously difficult to shift once severe, but
should respond to Finrot treatments early on. Is the Platy by
itself or with other Platies? I can't remember. If it is, or
with other livebearers, salt can significantly slow down the
progress of this infection, allowing medications to work in
Up to 10 ppt (10 grammes per litre) is recommended and widely
used on fish farms where tilapia are being reared, but I'd go
with half that for now.
Anyway, you do need non-iodised salt, but apart from that
restriction, even cooking salt will do. Raise the salinity
slowly, across a few hours. How much to add? Work out the
capacity of your tank in litres. Let's say it's a 100
litre aquarium. Make up a jug of warm water with 6 grammes per
litres, i.e., 100 x 6 g = 600 g for the 100 litre aquarium. Over
the course of the day, dribble in some of this brine a bit at a
time, maybe 10-15% at a time, with about an hour in between. By
the time you're done, you'll have added all the salt you
needed. This will be pretty gentle on both fish and
He has not eaten since we started this conversation (week or so).
He constantly trolls the surface of the water as if he is looking
for food. I have offered cucumber, lettuce and Spirulina but I
just don't think he is able to nibble or swallow anything. In
fact, I am not sure he can even move his mouth any longer.
<May well be the case. After treatment should improve, if the
bacterial infection goes away.>
Is it kind at this point to continue to wait and see?
Sadly I am feeling that he is too far gone to recover.
<Hard to say from the photo you've sent me... too small.
But if you can see the bones of the mouthparts, yes, it's
probably fair to say this isn't likely to heal.>
Water parameters are stable, temp 74 degrees, Ph is 7.4, ammonia
0, Nitrite 0, GH 5, KH 23, performing 25% water changes
bi-weekly, no salt.
<Carbonate hardness is really 23 degrees KH? Or 23 mg/l? If
the latter, that's VERY low, if the former, that VERY
My frogs are loving the bog wood but it is growing slime, which I
know from your website is not dangerous just unsightly.
<Yes, and largely inevitable if the wood hasn't been cured
properly. Fungi break down the remaining organic matter.
Eventually clears up. Fungus is off-white to grey threads, very
different to the blue-green algae that form coloured (green,
blue, red, black) slimes.>
I am trying my best to vacuum the slime off when I change the
water but it isn't very effective. I am frustrated about this
condition as I boiled the wood for over 6 hours and soaked it for
over a week.
<Seriously, it takes at least 6 months to cure wood, so
sticking freshly cut wood into an aquarium always produces slime.
Wood sold in aquarium shops should be fully cured: if it
isn't, I'd take it back.>
However, within days of wrapping it with the moss and placing it
in the tank - slime. Will this slime eventually stop
or should I remove it, cure it some more (perhaps in the tank of
my toilet), reattach the moss then replace it in the tank?
<Could do this too. But until the organic matter is consumed,
fungus will keep coming back. If blue-green algae, that's
something else entirely, and caused by other things, typically
slow water movement and direct sunlight, coupled with high
I hope you are enjoying your weekend.
<So far, so good!>
We are having a glorious day and a nice break from the rain here
in San Francisco.
<Making me jealous. It's freezing cold, grey, and wet here
<Cheers indeed, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 2/28/10
I have a 10 gallon tank. My platy is the sole surviving fish but
shares the tank with a number of plants and 2 ADFs.
<The frogs WILL NOT tolerate the salt. So this isn't an
option without moving them someplace else.>
I will do conversion for salt. Should I leave the frogs in the
<They will be fine.>
Or, should I set up a hospital tank (it would be un cycled)
<Good money after bad, to be honest. Better to save your
pennies for a 20 gallon tank, which is the minimum I recommend
for casual (i.e., easy) fishkeeping, and reserve the 10 gallon
tank for hospital/quarantine purposes.>
Should I increase temp a bit or leave it at 74 degrees?
<Leave as is.>
KH is 23 degrees due to coral that was in the tank. Has since
been removed and I am hoping it will Decrease over time with
water changes. Tap KH is 8 degrees.
<The latter is much better, healthier.>
Thanks again. Have a nice evening.
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 2/28/10
I don't have anywhere to move my frogs other than a 5 gallon
tank that I already own which would have to be set up from
scratch for them to live in for the time being (I suppose I could
fill it 1/2 way with water from their existing tank which would
leave each tank with about 2.5 gal).
<A 5-gallon tank would, for the short term, do for a couple of
Mature the tank "instantly" by using some of the
biological media from the existing aquarium in the filter you
place in the 5-gallon tank.>
As an alternative can I treat the platy with the fin rot meds and
no salt without removing the frogs?
<Absolutely. All the salt does is slow the bacteria down,
making treatment easier. It isn't by any means essential. But
do choose a medication that treats Columnaris, and ideally one
that treats Fungus and Finrot too, to avoid problems with
misdiagnosis (the three diseases often looking very similar).
Among US aquarists, Seachem KanaPlex has a good reputation in
this regard. Don't get mislead into buying tea-tree oil
medications that purport to treat all these diseases, as such
products are too unreliable.
Do remember to remove carbon, if used, from the filter while
Almost bedtime here in England, so signing off for now Diana. So
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 2/28/10
Thank you Neal. One last quickie. If I move the frogs do you
suggest I use some of the current tank water plus filter from
tank or new water treated for chlorine and biological material
from the tank filter.
<The bacteria are in the filter media. Moving mature media
from an old tank to a new tank is a good idea. Water itself
carries little in the way of bacteria, so is neither here nor
there. It's a fine idea to put some old water in the new tank
simply to moderate any water chemistry changes (if you think such
things probable) but in terms of water quality (i.e., ammonia and
nitrite levels) "old" water has little impact.>
Sent from my iPhone
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 2/28/10
Thanks Neale. Good night.
<It was indeed! Thanks, Neale.>
Re: African clawed frogs...
Neale, Just wanted to thank you for helping me get through my
<You are most welcome.>
My clawed frogs are happily swimming in a cycled 20 gallon low.
They are spoiled with a diet of earthworms, frozen bloodworms,
ghost shrimp, feeder guppies,
<Would avoid these "parasite bombs".>
super worms and crickets. I usually take one or two days off a
week from feeding if I see their bellies bulging.
<Are these Xenopus frogs? These are VERY easy to overfeed, and
it's often recommended they are fed just 2-3 times per
Just added a nice little clump of hornwort last week for them
Anyway, my question is about my new 20 gallon low which is
currently fishless cycling. I have read your article and many FAQ
about African dwarf frogs and was wondering about a few more
options as to tankmates. I am adding 2 dwarf frogs, 5-6 Danios,
and 5-6 small Corys (Green or Bronze?).
<Xenopus frogs are (VERY) predatory and prefer cool water, so
are best kept alone. Hymenochirus are tiny little things and can
be kept with small, gentle fish like Kuhli loaches and
Hatchetfish that wouldn't steal food or nip them as the frogs
swum to the surface. But generally with amphibians, the best
advice is keep them ALONE.>
Do you think I have room for a few more colorful hardy midwater
fish? I was going to keep the water temperature around 78
<Much too warm for Xenopus laevis. In most cases, these frogs
do best at room temperature. Xenopus tropicalis needs tropical
temperatures, but it's not sold in the pet trade so far as I
know, so unless you bought your frogs from a lab supplier, you
can safely assume they're Xenopus laevis.>
Appreciate all suggestions. Thanks again, Alex
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white. 3/1/10
Good morning Neale,
<So far, at least!>
While you were sleeping here is the plan of action I have put
Moved my frogs into their vacation home along with the filter
material, bog wood and ferns that were planted on rock rather
than in the sand
Added 18 teaspoons of salt over several hours to the platy tank
(according to WWM 6 gm.s = 1 teaspoon, 5 gallons = 18.95 liters -
god I hope I calculated that right, because it seems like an
<It's the right amount. Do look at my Brack Calc
application if you're concerned or want to convert into US
Normal seawater has 35 grammes per litre, or, 4.75 ounces per US
gallon. So yes, seawater contains a lot of salt, about 22
teaspoons if I've done the maths right.>
Started phase 1 of a 4 phase dosing schedule with EM Erythromycin
which states is for treatment of fin & tail rot, open red
sores, mouth fungus (cotton mouth), bacterial gill disease and
hemorrhagic septicemia. Dose is 100mg per 5 gallons.
<Sounds about right.>
Frogs look happy and dare I say platy looks happy...swimming, not
<Although Platies aren't normally found in brackish water
in the wild, their tolerance for brackish water is considerable,
and it does have a "tonic" effect on them. Old school
fishkeeping often recommended keeping livebearers in slightly
brackish water for precisely this reason, and while not
essential, if you're having problems with them, adding a
little salt can pep them up just enough to get through the bad
times. Brackish water effectively stops Velvet and Ick too, and
reduces problems like Fungus and Slime Disease, so within reason,
it's quite a good way to keep fish, if they'll tolerate
the salinity. Unfortunately, most freshwater fish won't, at
least not indefinitely.>
I will let you know how everyone is doing. Hope you had sweet
<Weird dreams, actually. For some reason I was leading an army
of ghouls fighting some sort of dragon thing. That'll teach
me to read H P Lovecraft at bedtime, I suppose!>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus
2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 3/3/10
Good morning Neale,
<Hello again, Diana,>
I just wanted to update you on my platy and frogs who are all
doing remarkably well. The frogs seem MUCH happier in their
Their color has returned to a darker brown, they are hanging
about rather than hiding and the male has been acting very, shall
we say, romantic towards his lady friend - which I have not seen
for quite some time. While I started their tank out from straight
treated tap water and a bit of transferred biological media they
seem to be thriving once again.
My platy, also, is making vast improvements. He is swimming and
attempting to eat. I have been watching him closely and have
witnessed a few tiny bits of food make it through his swollen
little gullet. I am on dose 2 of a 4 dose treatment so I am
halfway through, but feeling very optimistic.
<I'm glad to hear all of this.>
Which leads me to my next question. Now that I have removed most
of the plants and bog wood into the temporary frog tank I see
that my platy tank is a dirty mess! Once my platy has recovered
is there a "healthy way" to give his tank a serious
spring cleaning before moving the frogs back to their permanent
<Sure. The best approach is to separate cleaning the tank from
cleaning filter. Leave at least a week between the two. In other
words, do your best to keep the filter running while cleaning the
tank. If you have a filter that can be removed to a bucket of
water and then restarted there, with the bucket filled with water
from the aquarium, then that's a great way to do things.
Internal canister filters for example are breeze to manage like
this. External canisters can be handled like this too, simply by
switching them off, moving the inlet and outlet pipes into the
bucket of aquarium water, and then switching them on.
Hang-on-the-back and undergravel filters can't be moved about
like this though. So if you have these filters, leave the tank
more or less filled with water, but remove the rocks, gravel, etc
to a sink or bucket where you can clean them. When you're
happy, move all this stuff back to the tank. The water will
likely get a bit murky, so a water change afterwards will likely
be necessary, but don't get too paranoid about this, and
it's fine to change 25-50% of the water if you need
I was thinking I could temporarily move the platy to the smaller
tank that currently has the frogs, bio filter media and plants
for a day or two while I remove the medicated and salty water
(which the frogs won't tolerate), give the sand a good
vacuum, scrub all the algae off the sides, clean the filter
housing and heater which are both caked from minerals and yuck
and fill it back up with clean treated water.
<Actually, this would all be overkill and a bit of waste of
time. The problem is that there's nothing you can
"kill" this way in any meaningful sense. An aquarium is
like a garden, so while you can certainly tidy it up, you
can't sterilise it. Stirring sand is not only pointless but a
bit counterproductive, since settled sand actually becomes a
quite efficient biological filter (in marine fishkeeping, called
a Deep Sand Bed). So, concentrate on tidying rocks and stuff, and
if the water is murky, do some water changes. Boosting mechanical
filtration by adding mechanical filter media (like filter wool)
will help water become clearer than ever.>
After letting the tank run a bit with a carbon filter to mop up
whatever medication is left in the tank I would move the filter
media, plants, platy and frogs back. Would this be too much or a
much needed change?
<I think overkill. Think of what "the wild" looks
like, and that's your aim. Tidying up is fine, but a deep
clean doesn't make much sense, especially if that would
entail switching off a filter for more than 20 minutes, after
which point the bacteria start dying. Always better to clean the
tank in little increments every couple of weeks with everything
running normally. Trying to have a massive blitz isn't a good
Thanks and have a lovely day,
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus
2 ADFs who are turning white. 3/3/10
Thanks Neale. I am guessing that the best way to reduce the
salinity of the tank water is slowly through 25% water
Certainly need to remove the salt before returning the frogs.
How long post treatment should I wait before doing this?
<I'd expose fish infected with Ick, Velvet or Costia
(Slime Disease) to saline water for at least a week, and
preferably two weeks. After then, you should be fine.>
<Who needs Facebook!>
<You are most welcome. Always glad to help! Cheers,
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus
2 ADFs who are turning white. 3/7/2010
Good morning Neale and happy Sunday.
<Sunday's almost finished, but thanks!>
Everyone is still doing well in their tanks. Frogs are happy in
their temporary tank, platy is recovering in his tank. In fact, I
gave him frozen brine shrimp yesterday and he went nuts!! He is
once again able to eat and was zipping around the tank chasing
the shrimp through the water gulping them down.
The Spirulina flakes are still hard for him to get down.
I have now completed one full course (4 days) of the antibiotic,
and while the platy has made huge strides his mouth is still not
fully healed and continues to be a bit rough around edges and his
lips a tad swollen making it hard for him to nibble. The
instructions on the box of medicine instruct that that the
treatment can be repeated. Do you think that this would be
<I'd wait maybe 5 days, and see if the fish was showing
signs of recovery.
If he was, I'd leave things be. If the situation is no
better, or worse, then I'd do the second treatment.>
Current water readings are:
Platy tank (5 gal)
Frog tank (2.5 gal)
Temp 74-78 depending on time of day
Ammo 0.25 (water change scheduled for today)
<Good; the ammonia level there might cause problems. Cut back
on the feeding in the meanwhile.>
Have a lovely day,
<Thank you! I'm actually looking forward to tonight:
unusually for England, we have clear skies, and that makes I can
set up the telescope and check out Mars. Last night it was
amazing! Cheers, Neale>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white.
Thanks again. Funny question, but do you ever use unmedicated,
unsalted water from your water changes to water plants?
<All the time. Saves a fortune on Baby Bio! And my garden
Also good for pot plants (by which I mean houseplants in pots,
rather than, well, pot pot).>
Seems like such a waste to dump it down the drain on a weekly
basis if I could be using it on my back porch garden instead.
<Absolutely! The water you remove from the aquarium is rich in
nitrate and phosphate.>
Enjoy the night sky.
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2
ADFs who are turning white.
<Well, that's good. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus
2 ADFs who are turning white. 3/17/10
<Hello again Diana,>
I came home from a long weekend away and my last platy has
He seemed fine when I left Saturday morning - swimming, eating,
clear mouth and body - but dead upon my return today (and has
been dead for a while as he was basically jelly as I removed him
from the tank).
So, that leaves me with my two ADFs who continue to thrive in
their little temporary 2.5 gal tank. When I originally moved the
frogs to this temp tank I brought with them the biological filter
media and all but one java fern from the 5 gal tank. All that
remains, really, in the original (and now lifeless) 5 gal set up
is the sand and the one java.
<Not quite lifeless. Keep adding little pinches of flake food
every day or two until you decide what to do with it. Why?
Because you want to keep the filter bacteria happy. By all means
give the gravel/sand a bit of a clean, and do a general tidy up
if you want, but there's no need to sterilise the tank or
anything like that. Instead just let the tank tick over on this
maintenance dose of flake food (as an ammonia source) while you
think about what you want to use it for.>
My question is this...how do I go about transferring the frogs
back to the 5 gal tank that has had a dead fish in it for a
number of days as well as salty water from his treatment?
<For now, just gradually empty the 5 gallon tank, replacing it
with plain vanilla dechlorinated tap water. Do 20-20% water
changes every day for a week, and by the end of that you should
be done to a trivially low quantity of salt. At the same time,
you'll be lowering the salinity gently enough the bacteria
can adjust. So by the end of that week, you should be free to
move the frogs over to the new tank. Just as if you were bringing
the frogs back from the aquarium, "acclimate" them
carefully using something like the drip method. One approach is
to put the frogs in a bucket or large carton and covered with a
couple of inches of water from their aquarium. Over the next
hour, add a cup or so of water from the new aquarium every 10
minutes. This will adjust the frogs to any differences in
temperature and water chemistry, so all you need do then is net
them out and pop them in the new tank.>
Also, did the antibiotics I used to treat the platy kill all of
the beneficial bacteria in the sand or just some of it?
<Antibiotics can stress filter bacteria, but rarely kill them
completely. If you have a nitrite test kit, test some water after
a couple of days of water changes and see what you get. You
should fine a 0 level of nitrite because the filter bacteria are
processing the flake food.>
Would it be beneficial to wash the sand or better to leave it
<Err on the side of doing less rather than more. Tidying up is
fine, but deep cleaning is pointless. The bacteria that killed
the Platy are otherwise harmless, even beneficial, and part of
the ecosystem. Like much in nature, it isn't so much the
bacteria that cause disease, but rather when we as humans do
something unwise, the bacteria take advantage of the destabilized
situation and *then* cause problems. Classic Finrot bacteria are
Aeromonas, and in "the wild" these bacteria break down
dead organic matter into the chemicals like ammonia that the
filter bacteria process. Of course these bacteria try to eat
living organic matter too, but ordinarily a healthy fish's
immune system fends them off, just like our immune system does
with regard to the bacteria all over our bodies. But when a fish
is stressed that no longer works, and the bacteria overwhelm the
immune system, enter the skin, eat the cells, and cause the
This unfortunate turn of events has taught me a valuable lesson -
it is impossible fool Mother Nature.
<Correct. Or rather, Nature is going to do X, Y and Z anyway,
so you might as well use that to your advantage rather than try
and fight against it.>
When I fist told you of my plight you predicted exactly what has
happened. As hard as I fought to save my fish the damage had been
<A hard lesson.>
While I did not intend to overcrowd my tank and tax its little
ecosystem (and had been told by my fish provider that this would
not be the case) that is exactly what I did.
And as hard as I tried to make up for my
naiveté© Mother Nature ultimately won.
Thanks to you, and WWM, I now know better and will never put any
fish in the same predicament. Sadly, I have learned this lesson
the hard way. May my three little Platies rest in peace.
<Poor little chaps. But you can turn things around. I've
seen some great 5 gallon tanks stocked with frogs, cherry and
bumblebee shrimps, and tiny, non-breeding snails like Clithon
corona and Clithon diadema. Java moss is a wonderful plant for
encrusting rocks, and you can create just the most fascinating
little ecosystems using species like these. Cherry shrimps are
great because they breed reasonably easily, and watching tiny
shrimps appear and grow is just wonderful.>
Cheers and enjoy the day.
<Likewise to you, too.>
<Hope version 2.0 of this aquarium works out better. Good
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus
2 ADFs who are turning white. 3/17/10
Thanks again Neale. Tidying of the tank underway. With regards to
the flake food, does it matter whether it is Spirulina or
<Either is fine. Add about as much food as you'd give the
two frogs, so that the bacteria are "prepared" for the
workload the frogs will exert.>
And, do you give any credence to the "starter bacteria"
that is sold in the fish stores?
<None whatsoever. You have a healthy, vibrant culture of
bacteria already. In real estate terms, the tank is a nice
fixer-upper, rather than an empty lot upon which you'd build
something new from scratch.>
Enjoy your evening,
<Have enjoyed it already. Finished teaching my adult education
astronomy class, was given a nice bottle of wine by the students,
and found a Â£10 note on the sidewalk whilst walking
home. Enjoy your evening too! Neale.>
Is my platy sick? Env.
Hi, I have a small tank, 2 gal, that I keep 2 fish in.
<Two gallons is too small for any fish. Except possibly a Betta, but
that's more about cramming a poor Betta into a jar than actually
treating an animal well. So let's be clear here, you can't keep
any fish properly in a tank less than 5 gallons in size, and the only
fish that will do well in a heated, filtered 5 gallon tank is a single
Betta. For all other tropical fish you need about 10 gallons or more.
Please read here:
Shops sell 2 gallon bowls because there are lots of people out there
who don't read books before they buy animals. Perhaps they were
beaten up by a book on the school playground when they were little or
something. I don't really know. But the point is that NO BOOK EVER
WRITTEN would recommend a person keep fish in a 2 gallon tank. Indeed,
most will explicitly tell the reader not to. It's a shame shops
sell these 2 gallon tanks, but they do.>
A couple days ago one of my fish died.
<Not so much "died" as "killed". Let's be
crystal clear here, the fact you kept this fish badly ended up killing
the animal. Does it give me pleasure saying this? No, not really.
I'd just as soon your pets lived happy lives.
I don't actually enjoy scolding people who killed their pets.
Actually, it makes me rather depressed doing this day after day,
seemingly without an end in sight. So please take this advice for what
it is, honesty rather than about being nice to you.>
It may have been old age as it didn't have any superficial
symptoms, but I didn't have any testing strips left so I don't
know what the water was like.
<Wasn't old age.>
I did a 50% water change and got strips to test the water. It reads
fine for everything except maybe slightly high on nitrites.
<No such thing as "slightly high" nitrites. There's
zero (safe) and then there's non-zero (dangerous). It's like
being pregnant; you're either pregnant or you're not, you
can't be a "little bit pregnant".>
My issue is that the remaining fish is now hanging on the top of the
Previously he was up and down all over the tank. He is still very
active and tries to swim down occasionally, but as soon as he stops
making a strong effort he seems to float back up to the top.
<You are killing him.>
He'll swim around at the top, but his top fin stays resting against
the edge of the water. He is still eating fine and shows now bodily
symptoms. Is there something wrong with him or am I needlessly
<Needlessly concerned! Oh, boy, no, you should be VERY CONCERNED.
You're killing this poor fish. Despite what Fox News and MTV might
suggest, ignorance is actually a bad thing. In the case of keeping pet
ignorance of their needs ends up stressing them, poisoning them, and
then killing them. I wish I could say something nice to you, to make
you feel better, but I fear unless I write this message in crystal
clear language, you'll miss the point. Firstly, a 2-gallon
"tank" isn't home for anything except perhaps an amoeba.
It's worthless. The shop saw you hadn't a clue about keeping
fish, and sold you a piece of junk. Secondly, these fish are being
poisoned by their environment. At absolute minimum, Platies need about
15 gallons of space. They need a heater (water warmed to about 22-24
Celsius) and they need a filter (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite). Water
chemistry is important, and needs to be hard and basic (10+ degrees dH,
Unless you provide all these things, yes, you will kill your fish. I
won't say your fish will die, because that makes it sound like
Mother Nature's fault. Instead, I'm going to say you're
killing your fish, because you are.
It would be more humane to have bought the fish and then smashed its
head in with a mallet, because at least that would be painless. What
you've done is passed a death sentence on a couple of poor Platies
who are dying by
slow poisoning. Now, I really don't want you to run away from the
computer crying because I'm a horrible person. Actually, I'm a
very nice person. I'm spending my time answering your query
precisely because I like fish and
like chatting with people who keep fish. I genuinely want to help. But
it is crucially important you understand the situation here. Nothing,
no tablets, no medicines, no nothing, will save the remaining fish
without a better aquarium. Your move. Feel free to write back, blow off
a little steam, even yell at me. I won't mind. But do also rush to
the pet store and buy another aquarium. It's your pet fish I care
about. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Is my platy sick? 1/20/10
Neale, I appreciate your feed back.
<Happy to help.>
When I got the tank several years ago, I did do some reading prior to
purchase. I did try to understand what I was doing first. I read that I
needed one gallon per fish, so that's what I have.
<You mis-read something there. Think about it for a second. One
gallon per fish. Fine... a Whale Shark is 30 feet long, and a fish.
Think that would be happy in one gallon of water? Obviously not. Of
course, that's an extreme example. But the old (fairly crummy) rule
is that for SMALL FISH such as Neons and Guppies, you can allow an INCH
OF BODY LENGTH per gallon for water. So a 10 gallon tank would hold 10
inches of fish nose-to-tail, or about 10 inch-long fish such as Neons.
All well and good. But the bigger a fish, the more space it needs.
Something like an Oscar is about 12 inches in length, but it's the
bulk of a housecat. Obviously going to need more space than 12 one-inch
fish. Bottom line, even if you used that rule the way it was meant to
be used, you'd have to modify it somewhat depending on what you
were keeping. Finally, no book ever told you that you could keep one
1-inch fish in a 1-gallon aquarium, two such fish in a 2-gallon
aquarium, and so on. All books would have said there's a minimum
size at which aquaria work. For all practical purposes, that's
about 10 gallons.>
While I'm sure you're right that I killed my fish,
I'd had her for a year and a half, so I'd say I kept her from
poisoning for a good while.
<Well, sure, someone with lung cancer can live quite a while too.
Doesn't mean it's healthy. Platies should live around 4-5
years, and in that time reach a body length of about 2 inches.>
I'd had a Betta in the tank previous to getting the platys and he
lived for several years until my dad knocked the tank over.
So for lack of space, as I live in the city in a small apartment, I
will take my platy to the fish store where he can be better taken care
of and get a Betta.
<Honestly, if you don't have the space, why keep a fish?
It's never really going to be happy in 2 gallons, except in the
sense it lives. It's a marginal sort of life, at best. There are
some "Nano" pets that are fun in small tanks, such as Cherry
Shrimps and Crystal Red Shrimps, and with a clump of Java moss and a
couple other plants you can create quite a cool habitat. Over the
years, I've managed to talk other folks into carnivorous plants,
which are fun without needing much space. I know the need to have a pet
animal is often very strong, but really, where's the pleasure if
the animal isn't happy?>
Still not ideal, as you said, but I'm diligent with the water
changes, so hopefully I'll keep him happy.
<Good luck with whatever you do. Cheers, Neale.>
Platy Problems 12/2/09
Hi There, I have a female sunset platy that has had several broods of
She looks pregnant again but the spot (vent?) where she would deliver
the fry, there is something protruding from her. It's orange in
<Does it wriggle? Camallanus worms are quite common with farmed
livebearers. These look like red threads (often more than one) poking
out of the anus. Camallanus needs to be treated with an appropriate
She is eliminating ok and eating ok. At first I thought that she was
going to pop out a fry but on closer inspection it isn't a fry. Can
females get fry stuck or worse yet can the sac where the fry develop
<I'm sure it can happen, but it's not something I've
come across before.>
I had another female platy have the same thing happen only what was
sticking out was larger. She didn't survive. I thought it was a
fluke or something but now it seems to be happening again. Also while I
have this email going are swordtails more aggressive than platys?
<Male Swordtails are much more aggressive.>
I had lots of babies in my tank and when I got a swordtail that all
<Likely the Swordtails simply ate the Platy fry. The two species are
not really compatible. While both want hard, alkaline, not too warm
water (around 22-25 C) Swordtails come from streams and need strong
water currents, whereas Platies come from ditches and ponds, and prefer
slow moving water. So you wouldn't keep them in the same tank; at
least you could, but one or other species would not be receiving good
I have had only the ones that I rescued from my filter. I have one of
those BiOrb tanks with the round filter in the bottom and sometimes the
babies will get sucked in.
<These "designer" tanks are almost always overpriced
garbage. Bearing in mind Platies need upwards of 15 gallons, and
Swordtails upwards of 30 gallons, these tanks likely won't be big
enough. Even if they had the right
volume, they have this stupid tall rather than long shape that is
COMPLETELY useless for fishkeeping. Swordtails for example need a tank
some 60 cm/24 inches long, at least, to have enough swimming space.
Just look at how streamlined they are! Do they look like fish that want
to be cooped up in a glorified jam jar?>
Most all that I have rescued and put in a separate baby tank have grown
The female pineapple sword that I have did have a few of her own babies
that survived but now that they are bigger I swear that they go on the
hunt for baby fry to eat!
<Yes indeed. In the wild the fry hide among plants or in very
shallow water. There is no evolutionary pressure for adults to
"know" what their babies look like, since they wouldn't
ever see them. To an adult Platy or Swordtail, anything small and
wriggly at the surface is food.>
Hopefully you will have an answer for me or have at least heard of this
condition that my platy has. Thank You Michelle
Re: Platy Problems
Hi there, No the mass bump or what ever it is doesn't move at
It's just there. All I had before were platys and I really like
them the best. I am going to give the swords to the guy at the pet
store that I give my babies to. They are OK but I like the platys
better. I have two other tanks that are larger and rectangular than the
one Biube, which was a gift from my husband.
<I suspect many of these designer tanks are bought as well-meaning,
if impractical, gifts.>
They all have platys in them too. The 3 tetras and couple of platys
that I had in the Biube were fine before the swords. I didn't
realize that I had bought a sword. One of the local fish stores that I
went to told me that it was a platy. I know now they just wanted to
make the sale. Not going back there again.
So the difference between the platys and the swords are the body
<Yes; adaptation to the environment. One streamlined, the other more
I can see that with the pineapple that I have, she is much longer and
slender than my sunset. When I got her she was small and I couldn't
really tell although now I can see the difference in her babies and my
platy babies. Do mollies do ok with platys?
<They can do. Mollies tend to prefer slightly brackish water --
around 3-5 grammes marine salt mix per litre, and Platies will tolerate
such conditions perfectly well. However, Mollies do need quite warm
water, around 28 C, and this will shorten the lives of Platies. How
about looking out for Limia nigrofasciata?
This species is golden with purple vertical stripes, and the males have
a wonderfully marked Sailfin just the male Mollies. This species is
very peaceful, and like Platies, is essentially vegetarian, so the same
mix of Spirulina flake and Sushi Nori suits them very well.>
I did have one balloon belly but she was so freaked out and scared that
she didn't last long, I think she died of fright. I decided that I
wouldn't take any more chances with mollies.
<As mentioned, Mollies are sensitive, and they're much easier to
keep in slightly brackish water. Your best bet is to set up a slightly
brackish water aquarium just for the Mollies, and then choose suitable
salt-tolerant tankmates as needs be: Knight Gobies, Glassfish,
Wrestling Halfbeaks, Orange Chromides, and so on.>
I have had the best success with the platys. They come is so many
colors and mostly they are easy.
<While I like my Limia nigrofasciata even more, I do agree that
Platies are excellent fish, and perhaps the best of the
"common" species traded. They tend to be less aggressive than
Swordtails, and easier to keep than Guppies
or Mollies. Do think about buying a book about livebearers -- there are
lots more species than you can imagine. I have some Ameca splendens, a
species extinct in the wild, but as its name suggests, splendidly
coloured and while too nippy to mix with other fish, they're so
full of life you can happily keep a "swarm" of them in a
planted tank and never regret it.
Upstairs I have a tank for breeding Celebes Halfbeaks.
Once you get into livebearers, and make an effort to find the oddball
species, you'll soon become addicted!>
Thanks for your input. Michelle
Impossible platy, impossible
I hate to barrage you with one more question, You have been so
fantastic about answering other people's questions you'd think
I'd find what I'm looking for. It's an amazing site! I love
your approach to problems, and your mater
<Me too... is actually the only "way" I know of
There's a lo-o-ong story leading up to this point, but I'm
going to cut it short and start with now:
NO3 = 0
<Likely you mean NH3, NH4OH, ammonia>
Nitrates = 0
Nitrates = 10-20
GH = 150-ish (hard to tell on the test kits exactly)
KH = 70-90 (the API kit varies from 4 drops to 5 day to day)
pH = 7.8 (again, hard to tell with the API kit)
For both tanks. They're both Marineland Bow front, handy
2 Platies, 1 female in the six-gallon tank, 1 male in the two-gallon
(I was originally advised to keep 3 Platies in the two gallon; six
was/is as big as I could/can fit into the human environment.) Two tiny
(8mm), cherished snails in the six gallon. I wanted the female to get
rights, which is why I moved the boy out.
<I do wish you had larger systems. Much more suitable and easier to
As little history as possible: I trusted some dip strips for testing
and wasn't changing the water as much as I needed to. This month
I've treated the female in a clean, borrowed hospital tank (nearly
a fishbowl) for dropsy/bacterial with Maracyn and Maracyn2,
Ich/parasites with 86 degrees, 2x Aquarium salt and CopperSafe. When
she seemed good, really good, for three days I moved her into the six
gal. She went south again, clamping/hiding, I immediately moved the boy
into the two-gallon, and gave away the other, more aggressive male, to
give her a break (I also gave away a pile of snails, we bought only
one, that were contributing to the overstock problem).
She's got a white cottony fluff at the base of her tail on one
Today she's darting around, I'm guessing she's flashing but
doesn't seem itchy (she reminds me of when I was delivering a child
w/o epidural and I wanted out of my own body), sometimes hovering,
often hiding. She's been listing for about two hours. Her inner
gut, in a crescent-shape behind her ribs, looks dark to me (she might
just be losing color), but that's been since she started getting
sick a month ago. Her poops look like an ordeal and are
wide. I give her peas (I mince them into fish bites with a tiny knife,
totally AR) and it doesn't seem to make a difference, and I've
already got plenty of Epsom salt in the water. She eats really well,
and has always been a good eater through all of it. She looks thin, to
me, though, and muscle-y, like a 70-year-old yoga instructor.
<Good descriptive term choices>
Do I stress her out, switch the fish and treat her with meds in the
<Very likely so, yes>
Do I just put the snails in the two-gallon with the boy and treat the
six-gallon (it's the perfect hospital tank size, if you ask me now
that I know something about fish keeping)? Do I just leave them and
wait and see, keeping the water good now that I know how to do
<This latter is what I would do, and...>
(Yeah, you got to just change enough of it no matter what you think the
parameters are..) If I do treat her, do I treat her for the fungus
(I'm pretty sure, but if you have better ideas.) *and* what I now
think might be an internal
parasite? Other ideas?
<Just the environment. All that is concomitant w/ it being too
The boy, who's about 5 months old and used to be one of our fry, is
He's occasionally mad, and I wonder if putting the female (his mom,
of all things) out of his sight might be easier on him, or if he's
just feeling too confined. I worry about getting him too stressed out,
In retrospect, fish are the worst pets for the 4-year-old child of a
single, formerly fishless mom.
<You may be correct here. Unlike mammals and birds, they
don't/can't vocalize when in duress, in need of help... And
when they die... is very hard on children>
I learned an invaluable life lesson about trust with these fish (not to
mention the near-online-PhD I got in water chemistry). I owe them one.
Technically they belong to my daughter, and she really does need some
kind of pet. These are the ones we've got for now.
Thanks so much for your time,
<I do consider that the doctorate investigation is of great worth of
and by itself, and do wish I had more to state per your present
situation. If it were me/mine, I would trade in the Platies and use
these small volumes for more suitable aquatic life. Do take a look
either into keeping a single male Betta, or perhaps a pair of
Paradisefish (Macropodus sp.) or other possibilities you'll be led
to by reading here:
A few platy questions! Hlth. f'
Hi WWM Crew!
I hope you can help and promise to be to the point. I bought 4 Platies
2 weeks ago (3 female, 1 male so keeping the ratio correct).
a) One female keeps blowing bubbles on top of the aquarium which I
thought might be a bubble nest but isn't that usually males and
also if they are live bearers why would they build a nest?
<Indeed. Neither sex should be making a bubble nest. So I think this
is "gasping" behaviour.>
b) Another of my females is black and I can see very clearly a problem
with her skin, it's as though she is covered in bubbles? She's
very agitated and swimming in a full body manner quite unlike the
<Likely a secondary infection such as Finrot caused by opportunistic
bacteria; like the gasping, probably associated with water
c) Another of my females keeps laying on the bottom of the aquarium
until feeding time when she comes alive - all other times she just
<Again, unnatural behaviour, and probably associated with water
The only happy fish in the group of four seems to be the male - but
then he has 3 females to keep him company!!
Would be grateful for any help and advice you can give.
Thanks and keep up the good work - this site is excellent!!
<Unfortunately, while I'm sure your fish are sick, I can't
say anything about why. I need more information. So, to pre-empt
anything else, let's clarify what Platies need. Firstly, good water
quality. Zero ammonia, zero nitrite. Next, adequate space and
filtration. A 15 gallon tank is the absolute minimum, and
realistically, you want 20 gallons or more. There needs to be a filter
rated at not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per
hour. In other words, for a 20 gallon tank, an 80 gallon/hour filter
would be required. Temperature should be moderate, around 22-24 C; none
of the Xiphophorus species will do well if kept too warm. Finally,
water chemistry should be hard and alkaline. Aim for 10+ degrees dH and
a pH around 7.5 to 8. Note that "pH up" products aren't
what you need here; the water should be hardened if you live in a soft
water area. Use Rift Valley salt mix, not tonic salt or marine aquarium
Re: A few platy questions!
Thank you so much Neale
I'm going to carry out water tests today and make sure everything
is as it should be. I would be a little surprised if it isn't as
I've had the aquarium for 6 years and all my other fish are okay
but this could just be because they have got used to it.
In the meantime do you think the condition of the female with bubbles
might be Ich?
<Ick/Whitespot is very distinctive: it looks like salt has been
scattered on the fish. Bubbles on the skin can be caused by a variety
of other things, ranging from simply too much aeration of the water
through to bacterial infections.>
I have started to bring the temperature of the tank up bit by bit so
that it gets to 28 deg.s as I believe this helps the chemical to work
and also kills off the bacteria.
<What? This doesn't make any sense to me. Upping the water
temperature will stress those fish that don't like warm water.
Platies for example are cool water fish, and prefer something between
22-25 C. Unless you're using a salt/heat method to treat
Ick/Whitespot, there's no advantage to warming them up. As for
killing bacteria, remember, most bacteria are either helpful or
harmless. You may be dealing with Finrot, but that's something
specific, and not the same as, for example, the bacteria that cause
internal infections. Treat against Finrot bacteria; in the UK, I like a
product called eSHa 2000 that I have found effective and safe (and very
economical!). I have to confess to never finding the Interpet
anti-Finrot or anti-Internal Bacteria products any good at all, as well
as expensive to use per litre/gallon.>
Basically I am willing to try anything in an attempt to keep my little
family happy and healthy.
<The "anything" aspect is questionable. Remember, diagnose
the problem, and then treat against it. Better not to treat, and have
one fish die (or be humanely destroyed) than to treat wrongly and
poison the aquarium. Almost all medications are poisons at some
Just one more question before I close, the platys are 2 white (male and
female) and 2 black. The poor white female is being pestered by the
male constantly (24 hours a day from what I see!), should I separate
her off for a short while to give her a rest or is that normal
<Isolate the male, instead. She's already stressed, so being
cooped up won't make her any happier. As/when the tank is stable,
add more females of whatever Platy breed you like. Add some floating
plants, such as Indian Fern. Heck, if you're anywhere near
Berkhamsted you can come grab a clump of Indian Fern because I'm
always throwing out surplus stuff onto the compost heap! Indian Fern
makes a great place for female fish to rest, and also provides cover
for the baby fish.>
Thanks again Neale, very much appreciated.
<Always happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A few platy questions!
I'll drop in next time I'm passing!! I'm down in
Nettlestead, Kent so it would probably be easier to buy some
<Indeed! Do also try various fish forums. Many have buy/sell/swap
threads, and people like me who have these fast-growing plants are
usually only to happy to give away surplus plants. I have done this
myself, and likewise,
received plants this way for nothing other than the cost of
I'll keep you posted on my aquarium events if you are
<Please do. I will make the point though that the WWM forum is a
good place to chat with other fishkeepers, especially if you want some
feedback on decor, etc.>
Re: A few platy questions! 12/4/09
A very quick update....I did a partial water change (about 10%) as
thought it may be a cycling problem (new filter put in about 2 weeks
ago) and all appears to be well.
The gasping/bubble blowing appears to have stopped, no further lying on
the bottom of the tank that I can see and additionally....the female
with the bubbles over her body gave birth to about 30 fry overnight! I
managed to save 6 of them from being eaten so they are in the nursery
right now and are fighting fit.
<These should keep you busy for a while! Raising baby fish is a
The strange thing is that the bubbles or white spots that she had all
over her have now gone too. I cannot believe that it was something as
simple as a partial water change so I have to believe that whatever it
somehow to sort itself out naturally.
<Most of the times we get ill, our body fixes the problem given
time. The tricky bit is making sure the environment and diet is
So for the time being, all is right with the world.
I just wanted to say, thank you for metaphorically "holding my
hand" through the last week as it was a bit stressful to see my
extended family so unwell. Just having someone around that I could
panic to was worth more than gold! Forums and websites which are
generic are also brilliant but nothing quite like having tailored
<I'm glad you see the value to what we're trying to
So thank you very much and keep up the good work for all the other
aquarists in the world - you and your team ROCK!!! (to use an
<We use that phrase here, too -- though it does sound a bit weird if
used in Buckingham Palace while addressing the Queen.>
<Good luck! Neale.>
Platy with clamped fins and tail
I have 2 platys in a 10 gallon tank
<Too small for this species... maintaining good health will be
Haven't we discussed this before?>
and one of them seems to be clamping its fins and tails.
<Sounds like "the Shimmies", usually an issue with water
quality and/or chemistry.>
It can still swim around though, by swooshing its tail side to side. It
does not have other disease symptoms like weird poo or abnormal
appetite. I tested the tank water last week and everything was fine
except that the pH was high (7.8).
<Bit worried you don't actually understand what "fine"
is. The optimal pH for Platies is between 7.5 and 8, so 7.8 is perfect.
But that assumes the water is also hard (10-25 degrees dH) and there
are zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. In a tank as small as 10
gallons, ensuring pH and water chemistry remain stable will be
Is there anything I can do to help the fish?
<Buy a bigger tank...?>
<Much written about maintaining livebearers here at WWM; do please
Platies (health; environment?)
I had two Platy's, one male, one female. The female just dies
yesterday, and I believe it dies in labor by its behaviors the previous
day, but am not sure.
<Very unlikely; fish don't go into "labour" in
anything like the same way as humans. The baby fish just come flying
out the hole there, with little stress on the mother. On the other
hand, the females are easily stressed when pregnant by bullying males
and poor water quality. So those are the things to check.>
My male Platy has been acting strangely. It has been darting around the
bowl and when I put any food in the bowl at all, the fish darts for the
food and practically inhales it. He has been acting this way for about
a week, so both before and after the death of the female.
<I'm a bit concerned by the word "bowl" which is
anathema to sensible fishkeeping. Platies CANNOT be kept in bowls. They
need filtered, heated (around 22-25 C) tropical aquaria at least 20
gallons in size. The water must be hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH
7.5-8.0). Platies cannot be kept in "Nano" tanks 10 gallons
or smaller, and they cannot be kept in unheated tanks. So, review the
environment: that is by far the most likely reason this fish died.
Almost always, mystery fish deaths come down to environment. Darting
about looking nervous is a classic symptom of a fish that feels
stressed by its environment. If you're confused about the habitat
you've created for your fish, get back in touch, describing the
system, and we'll comment on whether or not it's
I am just wondering if this seems typical of any diseases or illness. I
appreciate your help so much. Your team is very knowledgeable, rapid in
response, and overly helpful!
<We're glad to help!>
Have a wonderful day! Marion
Sunburst Platy no longer has a bulging belly
Hi, I have a 30 gallon tank with 2 sunburst platys. I used to have 3,
but one recently died. I noticed that over time, the one that died
developed a "flat" belly. It used to be plump and happy. The
other two during the time were plump and happy as well. But now, a
second platy has developed the "flat" belly and is starting
to wrinkle up. Any idea what this is and how to resolve it? Thanks!
<Hello. Nine times out of ten, when a succession of fish sicken and
die, especially where the symptoms are as generic as this, the issue is
water chemistry and/or water quality. Your 30 gallon tank should be
perfect for Platies, so overcrowding isn't an issue (assuming
that's all that's in there). But Platies are sensitive to
ammonia and nitrite, so we have to make sure that this tank has a fully
cycled filter. Cycling _isn't_ leaving the tank empty for a week
before adding fish, but providing the filter bacteria with a source of
ammonia. If this is a brand new tank and you've added Platies as
your first fish, then you have to be extremely careful what you do.
Don't feed more than one very small meal per day. Change 25-50% of
the water every day or two. Use a nitrite test kit to ensure the
nitrite level stays as close to zero as possible, and certainly no more
than 0.5 mg/l (sometimes written 0.5 ppt). Cycling a brand new tank
takes about 4-6 weeks, after which you will see the nitrite stays at
zero, and you can switch to changing 25-50% of the water weekly. Next
up, water chemistry. Platies need hard, basic water; aim for pH 7.5,
10-20 degrees dH. In soft water areas, adding a small amount of marine
salt mix (not "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt") will
make your Platies much healthier and less disease-prone. Finally,
temperature is an issue. Platies need warm but not hot water; around
22-2F degrees C is fine. Do read here:
If you're still unable to figure out what's wrong, get back to
us with data about your system (in particular nitrite and pH) and
we'll talk further.
Re: Sunburst Platy no longer has a bulging belly
Thanks for the reply. I did a test with a 5-1 test strip by Tetra and
the following are the results:
Nitrate - 50ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Hardness - 180 to 280ppm
Alkalinity - 50 to 100ppm
pH - 6.4
Temp - 80F
<Ah, here's at least part of the problem: the water is acidic.
Platies need basic water. You need to find a way to raise the carbonate
hardness or stabilise the pH ay around 7.5. Various commercial water
additives will "buffer" the pH at 7.5 for you, and if you
prefer not to get involved with water chemistry manipulation, that
might be the way forward. If the only fish in the system are
livebearers, you could also add a small amount of MARINE salt mix (not
tonic salt or aquarium salt). Marine salt mix contains lots of
carbonate, and this raises the carbonate hardness and the pH. At a dose
of up to 6 grammes per litre you should fine the pH shifting upwards
and staying there.>
I also did nitrite and ammonia level tests with the API freshwater
Nitrite - 0ppm
Ammonia - 0ppm
The tank is not new. I've had it running successfully for over a
year with these Platies. These Platies have been with the tank since I
got it last Aug 2007.
<The problem with water chemistry is that it is a problem that can
get worse over time. All aquaria have background acidification, and
this is causes by a variety of biological processes including the
production of nitrate and phosphate in the filter, decaying plant
material, and the CO2 given off by the plants and animals in the tank.
It's very unpredictable in some ways, which is why regular pH
testing is important. Moreover, the impact the "wrong" pH has
on fish doesn't always manifest itself instantly, although it can.
If exposed to slightly acidic water over months, Livebearers may not
show immediately signs of sickness, but their overall healthiness
declines, until something else forces itself past their immune system,
causing problems. In any event, acidic water isn't appropriate for
these fish, and without fixing that, it's impossible to guarantee
I perform a 40% (12gallons) water change every month. I use API Stress
Zyme and Stress Coat with each water change. It uses a Filstar XP1
filtration system with the BioChem Zorb every 3 months and BioStars
which I do not disturb during the filter cleanings (done once a month).
Of the items that you mention, my pH is on the low side.
My water temp is on the high side (how do I cool the tank?),
<Difficult without a chiller, but opening the hood and placing a fan
nearby increases evaporation, reducing temperature. Making sure there
is no direct sunlight on the tank, and increasing ventilation in the
hood are also important. If all else fails, you can freeze a plastic
container filled with water, and then place the (closed) container in
the tank like an iceberg. Works quite well.>
and I've been using "aquarium" salt (1tablespoon each 12
<Aquarium salt is plain sodium chloride. This has zero effect on
hardness and pH for reasons you doubtless recall from inorganic
chemistry at school. The functions of NaCl by itself on freshwater fish
is obscure and much debated in the hobby. It certainly has no function
at all as a regular additive, but it can be used to treat certain
diseases and to detoxify certain poisons (specifically, nitrite and
But do I need marine salt given that the water hardness is on the high
<Remember, hardness and alkalinity are different things. General
hardness (GH) has very little to do with pH. It's all about
osmoregulation; the balance of water and minerals inside and outside
the fish. Alkalinity (almost identical to carbonate hardness, KH, for
practical purposes) is the ability of *certain* mineral ions in the
water to mop up acidification. It is perfectly possible to have lots of
minerals in the water (high hardness) but not much of the specific
minerals like carbonate and bicarbonate (alkalinity/carbonate hardness)
that neutralise acid.
Adding marine salt mix is a cheap-and-cheerful way to up the
alkalinity. It isn't very efficient (most of the mineral content is
sodium chloride, not carbonate hardness salts like calcium carbonate)
but because livebearers have a high tolerance for salt, this isn't
really a problem. If you want to raise the carbonate hardness
efficiently, you need to use something like Malawi cichlid salt, albeit
at a low dosage. A standard Malawi salt mix per 5 gallons is something
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
* 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
* 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Because you're not keeping Malawi cichlids, you'd need to use
only a fraction this dose, perhaps 1/4th the amount. Basically play
around until you get the pH/alkalinity you're after. You won't
do any harm because these minerals are non-toxic at these dosages and
much loved by livebearers anyway. It goes without saying these three
ingredients are very cheap, and using them thus will cost literally
pennies per water change.>
Are the Platies just getting old?
I want to replenish the tank with a few more Platies, but if there is
something wrong with my setup, I want to fix it before I do that.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Can you help me? Platy hlth. 7/22/08 WetWebMedia, I'm
new to your site and I understand that you don't want
questions that have already been answered. I took the time to
look at Neale Monks' chart and I'm still unsure as to
what plagues my platy. <Oh?> I have a 10 gallon tank with 6
platys. <To be honest, a bit small for this species... likely
to be prone to poor water quality and pH instability.> All the
fish are looking healthy and fine, except one. He is a large male
platy- a twin sidebar- and the biggest fish in the tank. When I
got him from the store he was perfectly healthy. I've had him
for about a week and half and he was fine right up until the
drastic Ph drop. <Ah, and there it is: small tanks experience
pH crashes more easily than big tanks. Either you aren't
doing enough water changes (I'd recommend 25-50% weekly) or
else you have water lacking in carbonate hardness. If the latter,
I'd recommend grabbing some marine salt mix -- not
"aquarium salt" -- and adding 3-5 grammes per litre.
The carbonate salts in marine salt mix will provide extra
carbonate hardness, inhibiting pH drops. Platies will tolerate
the slightly brackish conditions very well.> Most of the fish
showed signs of Ph sickness, but I brought the Ph back up slowly
and now all my fish are seemingly fine, except the big fish. I
think he has some kind of internal parasite, because when he
swims he seems to be using his head instead of his tail to move.
He looks as if he's literally shaking his head at everything-
I know this can't be normal. <It's not a mystery
parasite; this is standard issue "Shimmies" or similar.
A generic reaction to stressful conditions in livebearers. Most
often seen with Mollies. No real cure as such, but if conditions
improve, it should get better by itself.> He didn't do
this when I first bought him. I would consider maybe water
quality, temperature issues, but the other fish are fine. <Not
everyone succumbs to stress at the same rate: not humans, not
fish.> They're happy and normal. No one else seems to be
getting what the big fish has- it doesn't appear contagious.
On top of the constant 'wagging' motion of his body, he
also can't seem to recover from the Ph spike. First he was
floating at the bottom, tail clamped, now he's floating at
the top, tail clamped. Other fish will swim past him and bump him
and he won=E 2t move or react sometimes- something is definitely
wrong. Maybe I read over the list of symptoms and simply
didn't know what to look for? I'm sorry for troubling
you. Can you please help me? <Do first check the pH. It should
be 7.5-8, and it should stay there week in, week out. Use marine
salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.) as an additive as
described above. Will help considerably. Also keep up with your
water changes. Your Platy will recover if conditions are good.
Re: Can you help me? 7/23/08 Neale, Thank you for your
advice. <Most welcome.> I'm going to try the marine
salt out. I already have dissolved aquarium salt in the tank, so
does this mean I should change all the water before I put the new
salt in? I don't want to over-saturate the water with salt.
<No need. Add the marine salt mix to each bucket of water (at
the dosage stated, taking care it dissolves before use). So when
you take out a bucket or two of water this weekend, replace with
a bucket or two of water with 3-5 grammes/litre marine salt mix.
Always be careful not to overdose. If you're not good with
sensible measurements of mass and volume, I have a software tool
(for Mac and Windows) that helps you calculate salinity and
convert between Metric and US units.
http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Programs/brackcalc.html > Can I
ask you one more question? <Fire away.> Around the same
time I bought the large male platy in question, I also bought a
smaller male who is yellow and slightly see-through. When I first
bought him I noticed he had some red around his gills, but I
chalked this up to his natural coloration. <Likely just the
blood in the gill filaments being visible through the gill
covers. Quite a common "thing" on fancy versions of all
sorts of different fishes.> While researching the symptoms of
my fish in question, I came across information that stated red
gills could be an indication of ammonia poisoning. I had never
heard of ammonia poisoning before and didn't even know that
fish secreted ammonia through the gills. Is it normal to buy a
yellow twin side bar platy and see red coloration around the
gills? <Don't worry about this. If the fish had Ammonia
Poisoning, it would be obviously very sick -- e.g., skittish,
gasping at the surface, clamped fins, etc.> I don't mean
to be paranoid, but the coloration around the gills seems to have
darkened. I'm worried my ammonia levels could be out of whack
because I don't have equipment to monitor ammonia.
<I'd highly recommend buying those little dip-strip test
kits. Over here you get 25 strips for about Â£10, but
you can slice each strip down the middle to make twice as many.
These have ammonia, nitrite, pH, hardness, and sometimes other
useful tests -- all on the one strip. While expert fishkeepers
will make the point they're less accurate than the tests with
liquids and plastic bottles, I think these dip-strips are
indispensable, especially for beginners. In general, if you
don't have nitrite in the water, you likely don't have
ammonia, so I'd not be worried anyway.> This should be my
last question- I don't mean to bother you. <No bother.>
Again, thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.
Re: Can you help me? 7/23/08 Neal, Thank you so much.
You need not reply back and your questions have been very
helpful. I will do all you suggested! Thank you! <Glad we
could help. Cheers, Neale.>
Another sick platy question
6/16/08 Hello all, <Hi> I'm very nervous that this
question has been asked and answered, but I've been reading and
reading and can't seem to find this combination of circumstances.
Please accept my apologies in advance if I've just missed
something. <No problem, promise this won't hurt much.>
I'm new to aquariums and realize that I've already made some
mistakes. That being said, I have a 29 gallon aquarium that had been
set up for about 3 weeks. I now realize that it is not cycled and I
maybe shouldn't have added the fish yet. Ammonia, nitrates and
nitrite all test at zero. I can't seem to get my PH below 7.6,
although it isn't fluctuating. it's 7.6 consistently. <Is
fine for Platies.> In residence are 3 fancy guppies, 5 ghost shrimp,
1 Cory cat, 2 Mickey mouse Platies, 3 banana plants and 4 small sword
plants. The substrate is glass beads and store bought river rock, like
the kind used in table-top fountains. I also have a rock structure that
has hidey places and is aerated. All were washed thoroughly before they
were added. <Ok> My problem...one of my Platies is definitely
sick. I think it's a female. She isn't eating, even when I
dropped food (flakes) right on her, she stays at the bottom of the
tank, her mouth moves constantly like she's gasping, her vent is
very red (she's a gold MM), her fins aren't clamped. Today, I
noticed what appeared to be thin, white lines (about 3 of them) running
through the MM pattern on her body and it looks like someone took a
bite or two out of her tail. <May be stress marks, and weak fish are
often picked on by tankmates, I would try to move her to a hospital
tank.> So I have two questions... I think I need a hospital tank.
<Yes> What is the minimum size I can have (not much space) and
does this tank need a heater and filter (I'm thinking yes)? <I
would go with a 10g, and yes to heat and filtration.> And can I
treat her for something now, in the tank with the others, or should I
euthanize her? <I would get the hospital tank going and go from
there, and would not treat the main tank in any way.> I'm afraid
the gasping means that she's suffering. <It is definitely a sign
something is wrong, perhaps just environmental, try some water
changes.> Thank you in advance for any help. Cindy <Welcome>
Platy with a swollen gill
Hi crew, I set up my first aquarium approximately 5 weeks ago.
<How was it cycled?> It is a 28 gal tank. We started with 3
sunburst Platies (2 females, 1 male) and two days later had 6
babies swimming around. The water circulated really well and
everyone was doing fine, so we decided to get 3 red eye tetras.
<Mmm, can be nippy> They seemed really stressed and two
were bullying one and wouldn't let him out of the corner of
the tank. After more research, I realized we needed more tetras.
So this weekend we purchased 3 more red eyes. They have all since
settled down, although we now only have 3 baby Platies. We also
bought some new live plants and put them in the tank on Sat.
<Good> The water has been great, until this morning when
the ammonia level went to 0.25 and the nitrates climbed to 20
ppm. The nitrite level was at 0, pH was 7.6, alkalinity 120, and
our water is hard. The temperature has been stable at 78-80. All
the fish seemed healthy and active and eating well, except one of
the female Platies. She was hovering about 1-2 inches from the
surface of the water and her left gill was bulging out. She was
breathing through this gill heavily and seemed to be mouth
breathing. Not knowing what else to do, I did a 30% water change.
<Good move> Approximately 5 hours later she seemed much
better. Her gill is still bulging, but only slightly, she is no
longer mouth breathing, and is swimming around the tank normally.
Was this a case of ammonia poisoning or something else?
<Possibly just the ammonia> Is there anything else I should
do for her? Thank you so much for you help. Katy <Not much
else I would do here at the present set of circumstances. Very
important to note that many "fish medicines" are quite
toxic, none have zero negative effects... and your system is not
stable... not thoroughly cycled. I would just hold off, be
observant. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platy with a swollen gill
4/16/08 Hi Bob, Yes I did receive your response, and thank
you so much. I will continue to watch and monitor. The water this
morning was better: pH 7.6, nitrates 10 ppm, nitrites 0 ppm and
ammonia 0.25. <Ah, good. But the ammonia must need be zero as
well> The platy is still doing well despite the swollen gill.
She is no longer mouth breathing and she is acting like her old
self. It has been so hard to obtain reliable information on fish
and how to properly take care of them. You and the crew provide
an invaluable service, thank you. Katy <Welcome our friend.
Dying, sick platys and others 2/11/08 Dear Crew,
<Julie> First of all, THANK you for the fantastic site and
the great work you do. I have come to your site so many times to
find answers to some of my more straightforward problems. It is
the best on the web! <Thank you for your kind words> Alas,
I am having some serious problems now, and I'm not sure why.
Please forgive the length of this email, but I know that you like
to have as much information as possible. <Yes> I have two
freshwater tanks: - 55 gallon tank -- has 5 black skirt tetras, 4
harlequin Rasboras, 5 white clouds, 2 dwarf Gourami, 1 Pleco, 4
albino Corys, 6 platys (3 female, 3 male), 4 glass cats, 4 cherry
barbs (brand new), some live plants, a lava rock, a driftwood
(bought at high end aquarium store) and a sand/gravel substrate,
Fluval filter, heater and power head. Current readings: pH=7.8;
Ammonia = .25; <Mmm, should be zero> Ni <Something
missing here?> - 10 gallon tank -- 3 dwarf African water
frogs, 5 algae eating shrimp (very small), 4 male fancy-tailed
guppies. The problem all began with one of my female platys
(let's call her "Greenie"). She was in the 50
gallon tank, hanging with her mate, "Hi Fin," Hi Fin
was getting exhausted and mean chasing all the other males away,
so I moved them both into the 10 gallon. After a water change of
about 20%, and decent water conditions (Amm and Nitrites at 0,
nitrates a bit high, around 40), <Too high by about
twice...> she looked stressed and listless. This did not
improve, so after a few days, I moved them both back into the 55
gallon, hoping that she was just reacting poorly to something in
the 10 gallon. Meanwhile, I moved an aggressive male platy
("Bubba") who kept bugging Greenie. Put Bubba in the 10
gallon tank. Bought Bubba a mate ("Li'l Red") and
put her in the 10 gallon with him. Greenie did not improve.
Rather, she was flashing a lot, getting weak, having trouble
staying level, hanging out on the bottom or at the surface,
hardly moving much, not eating. All bad. Hi Fin stayed close by
her side. Things continued to deteriorate and, not knowing what
else to do, I moved her back to the 10 gallon (stupid, I know).
She continued to do poorly. At that point, she had developed a
sore on her head -- scales gone, looked like the white flesh
beneath. To be honest, I was very surprised she had lasted this
long since she has been sick for well over a week (flashing,
doing desperate flip circles at the surface, etc.). I finally
moved her to my small QT (about 2 gallons), and treated it with
some Myacin. <Maracyn, Erythromycin...> Meanwhile, back in
the 55 gallon tank, Hi Fin was looking morose -- hiding under the
drift wood. This was unusual for him since he is a pretty
dominant platy and usually survives just about everything. I did
a cleaning of my 55 gallon tank. Vacuumed up some good yuck from
the sand, took out about 5 gallons, replenished with 7.5 gallons
of tap water that I treated with Amquel+. The next day, I went to
my LFS. From the description I gave them of the platy, they
thought it was a parasite. I bought some Copper medication,
<NO!> and treated the QT appropriately for its size. Since
Hi Fin was still morose, I put him in the QT too. On that same
day, two of my albino Corys bit the dust. <Yikes> This
morning, I noticed that pretty much **all** the platys were
listless, in both tanks. Also, my Pleco was now dead, as was
another albino Cory. I realized I would have to move all of the
platys, and probably the cherry barbs (who were looking a bit
listless themselves), to the QT. Only problem is it is too small.
So I removed the frogs and shrimp from my 10 gallon, leaving in
the 4 fancy tail male guppies. I did a 50% water change on my 10
gallon. I removed all of the platys and cherry barbs from all of
the tanks, and put them in the 10 gallon (with the 4 guppies).
Treated the 10 gallon with copper, and treated the new water with
Amquel+. I got rid of the copper-treated water from the QT,
cleaned it well, refilled with Amquel+-treated water, and put the
frogs and shrimp in that. <Good> By the way -- before I did
the 50% water change on the 10G, it had a 7.2 pH, Amm=0,
Nitrite=0, but high Nitrates -- around 80 (!!! -- due to Tubifex
for frogs, Grrrr). GH was at 9 drops. Immediately after the water
change, pH was 7.5, Nitrates had gone down to 40, GH was up at
11-12, but the Ammonia went up to .5!!! <Yeeikes> I waited
about 45 minutes, retested the ammonia -- it had dropped a tad,
but still above .25. <The ammonia may be anomalous... there
are types of test kits that produce false positives with Amquel
and other such products...> So here are all my questions: 1.
What the heck is wrong with the platys? I do not notice any white
spots, other than the big sore on top of Greenie's head. So I
don't think it's Ich. I haven't noticed any white
poop, so don't think it's internal parasites. Could it be
external parasites? Some bacterial infection? <Could be
these... Tetrahymena, Costia, Epistylis... maybe a bacterial
involvement... Only way to tell definitively is through
microscopic analysis> 2. What's with the bottom feeders --
Corys and Pleco -- dying? Associated with the very modest water
change? <Possibly... there was something anomalous in the
tap/source water that day. Hence my/our proviso/encouragement for
folks to store/save water a week or so ahead of use> Or with
gunk being pulled up from under the sand/gravel, and possibly
eaten by them? <Maybe> Or are they more sensitive to
whatever is ailing the platys? Parasites? <Possibly> 3. How
come the ammonia levels in my water went from 0 to .5 just by
adding tap water treated pretty thoroughly with Amquel+. <See
above> If anything, shouldn't there be no ammonia? (By the
way, a LFS said ammonia may have increased because my cleaning
might have stirred up stuff on the bottom. I've never heard
this before.) <Can/does happen. Best to do so only while
siphoning...> Thank you to the whole crew for your kind
assistance. You guys rock!!! Cheers, Julie <I do hope whatever
the root cause here has abated. I do encourage you to read on WWM
re Nitrate control, keep this under 20 ppm. and to store your
make-up water... and quarantine all incoming livestock... Perhaps
reading of other instances of Freshwater Disease Troubleshooting
will lead to revelation:
Re: Dying, sick platys and others - UPDATE
2/11/08 It is now a few hours later, and the fish in the 10G
are distressed, probably from the ammonia that hasn't gone
down. I took out about 35% of the water and replaced it with the
water from the 55G tank, which has only a tad of ammonia. The
levels remain high -- hovering around .5. <Yikes... Do NOT
feed anything> Could the Mardel CopperSafe be causing
anomalous readings? <Yes... the copper could have poisoned
your nitrifying bacteria period... See WWM re the use of
copper...> Or could the ammonia have spiked literally
instantly on an Amquel+-treated water change? <Yes... BobF>
Re: Dying, sick platys and others - UPDATE
2-12-08 Wow -- thank you all for the amazing feedback.
It's now the next day. Ammonia levels in the 10G tank have
dropped to slightly over 0 (maybe 0.1?). Definitely less than
0.25, which is the next increment from my test kit. Nitrates are
down too -- around 20'ish. <All good news> I'm
pleased about that. The fish are looking a bit better. I fed them
a bit of flake food (sorry -- hadn't seen your email about no
feeding yet) and was very happy to see that all but one was
eating quite heartily. The cherry barbs are looking great, as are
the guppies (who were never sick in the first place). The platys
are still a bit low-energy. One platy looked to be nearing the
end. I put him back in the 55G tank in the hopes that he would
improve. Alas, he's not looking too good. And this morning,
one of the black skirt tetras in the 55G tank is in distress.
There **may** be white spots on him (Ich) though it is hard to
tell. None of the other fish in the 55G are showing distress or
white spots. Should I remove him and put him in the 10G (that has
the copper)? <Mmm... I'd be reading... on WWM re Ich...
and waiting at this point, starting to raise the system
temperature... All fishes will have to be treated if...>
Warmly and gratefully, Julie <BobF>
Platy Problem 11/12/07 Hi
WWM Crew, I have a two week old 20 gallon tank currently going through
the usual start up cycle but I'm changing water regularly and doing
everything I need to get the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels as they
should be. So far all is going well with my four platys but I have
noticed one has developed a severe head shake. I have found answers
about twitching, shaking, flicking against rocks etc but this seems
different. Just a very rapid twitching, almost vibrating of the head
for a few seconds 'then it stops and my poor little platy
looks a bit bewildered before swimming of as if nothing has happened.
Also my female platy went through a phase of tensing all her fins and
straining her body but this seems to have passed. Before going into too
much detail about water condition etc I was wondering if there as
anything specific that could cause this kind of shaking other than
general start up water conditions or parasites. Thanks for your time,
Ruth <Ruth, what you're describing is the "Shimmies",
a catch-all name that describes neurological problems caused by poor
water quality. Imagine a human getting dizzy from carbon monoxide
poisoning, and you have a pretty fair analogy of what's going on
here. While classically associated with Mollies, which are incredibly
intolerant of pollution when kept in freshwater tanks, most fish can
exhibit Shimmy-like symptoms if unfortunate enough to find themselves
in the wrong water conditions. Ammonia and nitrite are the #1 causes,
but too-cold water will cause similar problems in Cichlids, for
example. In any event, the solution is simple enough: restore good
water quality. If you're cycling a new tank with fish, you should
be doing daily water changes. Anything less is signing their death
warrant. Minimum, 25% per day, but ideally double that. For the first 4
weeks these regular water changes will dilute the ammonia and nitrite
sufficiently that the fish will come through the cycling phase. Once
you find ammonia and nitrite are both consistently low (and ammonia has
to be zero, and nitrite no more than 0.5 mg/l) you can relax the water
changes to a couple per week. After 6 weeks, the tank should be cycled.
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Platy Problem 11/13/07
Thanks for the reply Neale. I thought my fish problem was due to the
water quality so everything you say makes sense to me. I've been
doing 20 percent water changes, more after a pea or spinach dinner!!
every day but didn't want to change too much water each time
in-case I was slowing down or stopping the start up cycle. Many
websites only recommend a 20 percent change. Now I know it's the
"shimmies" I'll certainly change more water each time. My
platy seems a lot better today and hopefully will continue to thrive.
Thanks again for the advice and thanks to the rest of the crew for
running a great website. Regards, Ruth and the Platys <Good luck
Ruth. Yes, water changes are the way to go when cycling with fish. You
really can't do to many. Keep the ammonia as low as possible, and
by the end of the month you should be fine. Platies generally come
through the cycling process well, and you may well find some baby
Platies swimming about as well! Cheers, Neale.>
Sudden death of platy's
03/22/07 Good morning, <Hello.> I have a question
regarding the sudden death of a couple of my platys (both the same type
sunset wags). I have a 55gal livebearer tank, water
parameters are pH 7.4, ammonia 0, nitrates 0, nitrites 0, GH 4, KH (not
sure - have to retest). <Mostly sounds good, but the GH for platies
(and indeed most other livebearers, should be a bit higher, at least
10-degrees GH.> A couple of my older female platys have suddenly
died. One died without any visible cause Tuesday
morning. The other one died yesterday. There is
nothing on the fish indicating infection or fungus. No
strange behavior except that they both segregated themselves only hours
before passing. I have not noticed any sign of disease on
the other fish. <Odd indeed. Perhaps old age if it was just one
fish, but two at once is unusual.> Currently I have around 20 fish
and fry in the tank. Since these girls were rather large
when I got them, I'm not sure how old they were. I have
only had them 3 months. If I have anymore deaths I'm
going to treat the water with tetracycline. <Do you mean
"tetracycline"? That's a broad spectrum antibiotic that
should only be used in very specific circumstances. Here in the UK at
least, only by prescription from a vet. Your local laws may be
different. Either way, it isn't something to use without first
confirming there's a problem with bacterial infections. It'll
do nothing a protozoan parasites, intestinal worms, fungus, etc. let
alone water quality/chemistry problems.> I am already adding salt to
the water to keep parasites at bay. <Why are you adding salt? Salt
at low concentrations has little to no effect on parasites and at high
concentrations will stress your fish. Platies are *freshwater* fish and
do not normally inhabit (or want) brackish water. Please keep the salt
in the kitchen, not the aquarium!> I did add some guppies and new
swordtails about 2 weeks s) ago so I'm looking for signs of Columnaris infection. One of the half black guppies (female)
died shortly after added it to the tank. I noticed that she
was badly mutilated so I'm thinking she was attacked while dropping
fry. <Swordtails can be a bit aggressive to keep with
platies and guppies, so that combination wouldn't be one I'd
recommend. But even so, I'd be surprised if the swordtails actually
mutilated another fish to the point of causing death. I'd be
thinking more along the lines of fin rot.> I added cardinal tetras
to another tank and they all died along with half the other tetras in
that tank with similar symptoms. <Why are you adding cardinal tetras
-- fish from soft, acidic waters -- to a tank with fishes that need
hard, alkaline water? Please buy a book about aquarium fish and learn
about their water chemistry requirements. Freshwater fish no more need
the same conditions than panda bears and polar bears.> Until I added
the new fish I had not lost a fish in that tank in over a
year! These fish segregated themselves and within hours were
dead. Water parameters and the same in the 37gal tank as the
55 gal. That's the first thing I checked when the fish
started to die. In fact one of the new tetras died about an
hour after being introduced to the 37 tank. I went back to
the pet store and noticed that they had no living tetra's in the
tank I bought them from. <Just a spelling note, the plural of
"tetra" is "tetras".> The LFS would not say
whether or not they had a problem in that
tank. I've been treating it with salt and water
changes and haven't lost any more fish. <Again, why the salt?
That will certainly kill the cardinal tetras or any other soft water
fish. Salt is for brackish/marine aquaria, not freshwater aquaria.>
I want to hold off on the antibiotics until I have to. <Quite right
too. Almost all fish deaths are related to problems with water
chemistry, water quality, and diet. Disease, particularly
"mysterious bacterial infections" are much less common than
aquarists believe.> Any other advise or ideas on what is
happening? I've never lost so many fish without any
visible symptoms. Like I said the only thing I noticed is
that the fish break away from the group and seem to breath very rapidly
(at least the tetras did) and then die. The platy's just
went to a corner didn't eat for one feeding and were dead.
<Difficult to say. Could be a variety of things. Chronic
constipation for example (you *are* feeding your livebearers vegetarian
flake, not regular flake, right?) These fish need lots of greens and
algae and relatively little meaty foods. Sure, they'll eat
bloodworms and daphnia until they burst, but it's no more good for
them than it is giving steak to a horse. These fish are omnivores in
the wild, and eat a lot of algae along with small insects. Cooked peas
a very useful for constipation. There should *always* be something
green in the tank for them to peck at, such as thin slice of cucumber
or zucchini. The water hardness is far too low for livebearers, and
I'd suggest raising the GH by incorporating some buffering agent,
such as coral sand, in the aquarium or filter. Please have a read
through the Poeciliidae page and related FAQs, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm
> Thanks, <Cheers, Neale> Linda Ritchie
Re: Sudden death of
platy's 3/22/07 Hi Neale, <Hello
Linda> The livebearers (swordtails, guppies, platys) are in the 55
gal tank and the tetras black neon, Pristella tetras, harlequin tetras
and one Betta, one catfish, and a clown Pleco) are in the 37 gal tank.
<Very good. Livebearers mix best with other hard water loving fish,
like gobies and rainbowfish. Lots of people keep them with tetras and
barbs, but it isn't a great combo for the most part. Only
relatively few tetras or barbs are adapted to hard water conditions
(though Pristella tetras are one).> I have been advised by many
regarding adding a small amount of salt to the water on a regular
bases... <Lots of people think carrots help 'em see in the dark,
but it doesn't make it so. Aquarium "tonic" salt is
basically a device for extracting cash from unsuspecting aquarists. It
serves no purpose in modern fishkeeping. It doesn't harden the
water or raise the pH, so doesn't help the livebearers, and at
'teaspoon per gallon' concentrations has little effect on
parasites or fungus. It won't harm your livebearers, so use it,
don't use it -- it's your money you're wasting. But it
certainly won't make your fish any healthier. Proper pH/hardness,
decent filtration, regular water changes all much more useful.>
...in fact one website indicated that salt is actually required for
swordtails. <Swordtails do not come from brackish water. The
addition of salt to tanks with mollies may help, because salt reduces
the toxicity of nitrate, which mollies are extremely sensitive to. But
in a clean aquarium with low nitrates and regular water changes, adding
salt is redundant.> The livebearers do get veggie flakes and there
are living plants in the aquarium. I give them several kinds of flake
food and occasionally Tubifex worms (freeze dried). <Good, a nice
varied diet! Platies especially like to have something to peck on
algae-wise, so don't clean the tank too aggressively.> I will
closely monitor the situation and look for any kind of bacteria
infection. <Forget about the bacteria for now. Such
infections are uncommon. Water quality first, water chemistry second,
diet third, disease last. That's the order of play when fish get
sick. Just like people -- how many diseases are caused by environment
and diet, and how many by bacteria that suddenly spring out of nowhere
and kill otherwise healthy people living healthy lives?> I agree the
GH is low and I'm working on that but don't want to do anything
to suddenly. How do you raise the GH without raising the pH to
undesirable levels? <Various methods, but the simplest is put
crushed coral in a filter media bag, and stuff that inside the filter.
If the tank has an undergravel filter, replace some of the gravel with
coral sand. There are also hard water-creating salts you can add to
raise pH and hardness, sold for use with Lake Malawi and Tanganyika
cichlids. Discuss with your retailer what's available.> It's
currently around 7.4. <Acceptable.> I do have some coral and
seashells in the tank and it has helped a bit. <No, they won't
help much. Algae and bacteria cover them, stopping the lime in the
shells getting into the water (think the crispy shell around the
chocolate on an M&M). With calcareous filter media, you can run
under the hot tap to clean off this slime each time you maintain the
filter. Maybe even replace entirely every few months. Also, because the
water moves past the calcareous stuff in the filter, it "picks
up" hardness more easily than when stuff is just sitting in the
tank.> I have both solutions for correcting the problem either
way. If this is a protozoan or a parasite problem what do
you recommend for a solution. <I'd not worry to add anything
yet. Correct the water, and sit on your hands for a bit. Let things
settle down. It doesn't sound like any of the other fish are sick.
Knee-jerk treatment of fish is no better than doing the same thing with
humans -- diagnose, then treat, not the other way around. Once the
hardness has risen a bit, your platies and swords will be so much more
robust.> I've used CopperSafe in the past for flukes. All the
fry are doing well and everyone else is happily picking on the plants
and rocks and acting normal. Kind of a mystery to me. Thanks
for your help. <Maybe the older fish never adapted to the water
conditions in your tank, but the fry have and are fine for now. Keep a
look out for the usual things like Finrot which is often the first
thing to go wrong with livebearers. Treat only when you have securely
diagnosed the situation. Otherwise, buy some crushed coral, put it in
the filter, sit back, and enjoy your fish!> Linda
Sick Mickey mouse platys; likely due
to poor acclimatization, poor water quality... --
2/26/07 Please help! <I'll try - Jorie here> I have a
relatively new tank that is a week old. <Not relatively
new, *very* new!> It is a 15 gallon (24*12*12), with a aqua clear
3-stage filter, and a submersible heater. Water temp. is at
24.5 degrees Celsius. I have dechlorinated the water and
treated for hard metals, added organic waste management...
<Don't know exactly what this is, but with regular water changes
on the tank, it shouldn't be necessary> , and added
'Cycle' to my tank. I gave everything a double dose
for the first application and let the bacteria multiply for 3 days.
<I don't use the "Cycle" product myself, but I
understand it can work. I would have suggested that you
tested for presence of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate before adding
livestock - *if* the tank indeed cycled that quickly, then all should
be at zero (well, maybe nitrates as high as 20 ppm)> I then got a
collection of five Mickey Mouse platys from the local pet
store. I brought them to the tank and let the bag sit in the
water for 15 minutes as I slowly brought the tank temp. up
from 22 Celsius to 24.5 Celsius. <Probably should have had the
temperature up prior to buying any fish. In any case, 15
min. is a relatively short time to go from approx. 71 degrees F to
almost 76 degrees F. I would have done this over a period of hours.>
I then netted them and transferred them into the tank without spilling
any of the water out of the bag. <Good> However two
of them look sick. The first one the fins beside his gills
are white and seem to have little tears at the end and are very small,
and for the most of the time his fin on his back, his dorsal fin, is
down. He stays up in the top corner of the tank without
moving and only moves when he's fed. <These are not good signs.
First thing to do is test the water - you need a quality liquid test
kit, if you don't already have one, to determine if ammonia,
nitrite and/or nitrates are present. Also, a pH reading would be
helpful.> He will not even move when I tap on the tank right where
he is. <Don't tap on the tank!> The second platy
also has fins beside his gills that are white and torn. He
also has a silvery, whitish, dull patch on his sides which he seems to
try and flick himself onto the fake plant to try to
'itch'. <This behavior is called
"flashing", and can be caused by toxins in the water...> I
do not know if this is itch because it is just one blotch and not white
specks. He swims actively and eats fine, he seems to even
have a darker scale tone then the rest of the fish. I
don't know what is wrong with these fish. My guesses
are that I did not wait long enough for the tank to cycle? <My guess
also. If you don't have a water test kit at your disposal, I'd
suggest doing a 50% water change ASAP, and then go invest in one...>
But the other three seem healthy. <They may have
stronger immune systems...if the water quality if really that bad,
it'll catch up to these three as well...> They have fin rot, as
there fins seem to be tearing at the ends and they are white. <All 5
are we talking about? Fin rot is almost always caused by poor water
conditions...> Or the one has velvet, because of the velvety sides
of him. <Velvet looks like a very-fine sprinkling of gold dust. The
dull coloration you describe could be a sign of a bacterial infection,
but my first guess is it's merely a reaction to poor water
quality...> I am going to do my first 10% water change today with
treated water. What should I do? <I'd start making up
more water - I'd do a 50% change in this relatively small
tank. As far as test kits go, this one's my personal
> <My best suggestions are above. Here's a helpful article on
cycling, for your info.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Good
2/18/07 Although I am pretty new to this hobby, I did quite a bit
of research on freshwater aquariums, yet none of the sites I
visited fully answered my questions. First, I bought 3 danios as
"test fish" and they died within a day. <...?> It
could have been the water, but my little Neptune heater didn't
seem to shut itself off where I set it to, and the temperature
went from 76 to 82 overnight, and rising until I unplugged it. My
dad thinks the temp fluctuation did them in, but I wasn't so
sure. <Likely at least a contributing cause> I took in a water
sample to the pet store, and ammonia levels were very high.
<Could have been "after the effect"... the fish's
stress, deaths> I felt really bad, then I took the heater out
and let the tank run on its own for a little while. After another
water test, it showed the parameters were "safe" for fish,
<... Uhh> so I bought 3 platies (for the record, they all
came from separate tanks): a gold twinbar, a Mickey Mouse, and a
sunset. When they arrived to their new home (a "cozy" 5g
tank, kind of a trapezoid shape with a curved front and 2 live
plants) they seemed a little nervous about their new surroundings
and they didn't eat, but they got along okay. In fact, they
spent most of the afternoon huddled together in the corner. Hmmm.
<Indeed> I read online that they might be doing this because
of high ammonia levels. <Yes...> I changed out some of the
water <... what re cycling?> and fed them, and they were doing
much better. They were actually swimming around and they even ate.
During the night, the temp went from 78 to 74. Living in Southern
California, I figure the temperature at night won't get too
drastic, even in the winter. The fish started acting lethargic
again. Then I saw them rubbing against the plants and realized
they showed symptoms of Ich. <Maybe> That made me panic a
bit, because I read that temp fluctuation actually makes them more
susceptible to Ich, <Yes> and the tank is heater less. Luckily,
they showed no signs of having the infamous white spots I've
read so much about. The only heat source I have for them is their
overhead lamp, plus the afternoon sunlight from the window (I know
it's not the best spot for them because of algae, but there is
literally no other place for them to go). To try and get the fish
happy again, I changed some water again, and I added 2 tbs. salt.
I risked taking advice from one site that claimed that up to 2
tbs. salt would not harm the fish, even though several sources
said 1 tbs. for every 5 gallons water. <Should be fine here, for
platies... but maybe not the plants> Day number 2 (this was written
on day 2 by the way) is where I confirmed my fear that they have
Ich, because my Mickey has some visible white flecks on his tail
and fins. The other two don't have any white spots yet. I
turned on the light to warm up the water in the morning, <Need
that heater...> left for a while and in the afternoon, came back to
find the water at 82. I did more research and found a site that
told me warm water is more difficult to get oxygen
through. <This is so> I debated with myself if they should
be stuck with parasites or if it's better they suffocate. Then
I went back a few years to my biology lessons and recalled that
plants give off oxygen! <During "light" periods... the
opposite in the dark> So, I'm sacrificing their
(I'm hoping extra) oxygen levels for warmer water. And
finally, after a thorough, if not lengthy, description of
my situation, here are my questions: 1) I don't have any extra
tanks, nor do I have a gravel vac. Is this a huge problem, or do
you think I could get by without either? <Will want some
maintenance gear in time... can make... or buy> 2) Would leaving the
light on at night be too stressful on the fish, <Yes> or
should I put the heater back in (or go without either at night)?
<... need a heater...> 3) Can I expect Ich to go away with
salt and warmer water alone (even with possible temp fluctuation)?
<Not with low temp. or fluctuation> 4) How long should this
treatment last and can I know for sure if the Ich is all gone?
<Read on WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm
scroll down...> 5) Should I change a little bit of water each time
the fish start acting lethargic? <No... need your own simple
water test kits... and to read...> 6) I know at this point getting
another tank buddy wouldn't be a good idea, but if the
Ich seems to clear up, could I get another fish sometime in the
future? <Yes> And last, 7) Judging by the size and shape of
the tank, at what point would mine be "overcrowded"?
<No> Thanks so much for taking the time to read this...I know
that it's really long, and apologizing for it just makes more
words to read. Sorry. Thanks again, Angela <Read
Angela... your fish are in peril... only you can preserve their lives.
Platy w/ fungus - probably poor
environmental conditions; need more info. 2/13/07
Hello all, <Hi Tim- Jorie here> I'm writing about my Mickey
mouse platy. As of now he is in a 2 gallon hex tank. <Is this is
permanent home, or have you isolated him to this tank? Does he have
tankmates, and if so, how many and what sort? Also, is the tank cycled?
What are the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings? This is a VERY
small tank, and is big enough for, well, about this one fish...>
When I looked in his tank this afternoon of his side fins looked like
part of a cotton ball. I immediately called LFS and they said that it
was fin and tall rot. <It doesn't sound like fin/tail rot, as
that would appear as though the fins/tail were disintegrating, but
rather "cotton wool disease", or external
fungus. This is usually caused by poor water conditions - do
test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate ASAP if you haven't already -
ammonia and nitrite should be zero, and nitrates no higher than 20 ppm.
If you don't have a quality test kit at your immediate disposal,
I'd suggest doing a 50% water change right off the bat. I'm
betting dollars to donuts this is caused by poor water quality - what
is your water change schedule like? How often and how much at one
time?> I put MelaFix in the water. Was that the right thing to do?
Any more suggestions? <The jury's out on MelaFix - my personal
thought is that it can help, when coupled with good husbandry, the
latter being essential and the MelaFix not being paramount. I suggest
testing the water ASAP and doing a water change - first thing to
suspect here is water quality. Improve that, and add some aquarium salt
to treat the fungus (generally 1 tsp. per 5 gal.)> Thanks, Tim E.
<You're welcome. Go do a water change ASAP - that's my best
advice! Also, if the 2 gal. is the platy's permanent home, and he
has any tankmates at all, I'd suggest upgrading to a bigger sized
Re: platy w/ fungus - probably poor
environmental conditions PART 2 - 02/15/07 Hi Jorie
Thanks for the quick response time. As of now I'm stuck. We just
got a foot of snow and there's no going to the pet store now for
water testers (I ran out). <I understand - we got pounded in Chicago
a couple of days ago as well...> The person at my LFS whom I credit
as extremely knowledgeable say that the three platies in the 2 gal. hex
tank is fine. <It's really pushing it, since the hex. shaped
tank has less swimming space than a "regular" 2 gal. does.
I've got a 5 gal. hex, and my 3 male guppies and 1 female molly
seem crowded...> You don't seem to like this idea so what tank
size do you recommend? <Minimum 5 gal., but larger is better, easier
to maintain in the long-run...> The platy with the cotton thing is
swimming fine but the cotton thing is still there I put in the aquarium
salt and he is doing o.k.! Would you recommend continuing to use the
MelaFix? <Even though you don't have a test kit at your
disposal, I recommend doing daily water changes on this
tank. Ideally, you should isolate the sick platy to his own
tank, so he doesn't infect the other two. If you don't have
that option, daily 50% water changes, coupled with the appropriate
amount of Aquarium salt should help. MelaFix is optional -
I'd probably stop using it only to be able to evaluate whether the
salt/water change method works on its own. If this
doesn't improve things, you may have to medicate the sick fish with
an antifungal medication - something like Jungle Fungus
Eliminator. If that becomes necessary, you really do need to
isolate the sick fish, as it's a bad idea to medicate fish not
showing signs of disease. In the meantime, the daily water changes and
addition of aquarium salt will help, if not completely resolve the
problem. Keep in mind that the main cause of fungus of this sort is
poor water quality, so even in the future, best to remember to do at
least weekly water changes - 75% of so would not be excessive in such a
small tank!> Thanks, Tim E. <You're welcome. Best of luck,
|Platy Disease, env. 2/5/07 I'm kind
of new to the whole aquarium scene and I've been running my
first tank for a little over a month now. The nitrite level is
still a little high (between .25 and .5 ppm) <This is way too
high... toxic. There should be no fishes present> so I can
imagine that's causing a little stress on my 4 platies. One of
them has developed a white sheen on its tail over the past 3 days,
and my only aquarist friend can't help here. <With?>
I'm hoping you might be able to identify the disease and
suggest some cures. <Environmental at root> Right now
it's quarantined from the rest of the fish to prevent further
spread. I have attached several small pictures to help. It's
not spots...just more like a coating of sorts. thanks in advance,
Josh <BioSpira, a dearth of feeding... See WWM re FW nitrites:
the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Platy aquarium: fry, poor water
quality 10/16/06 Hi Bob, <Hi Meridith - you've got
Jorie instead of Bob this evening...> My name is Meridith. I am a
total novice with fish. <That's OK - we all start somewhere,
right?!> I have developed the interest because of my 2
and 3 yr. olds joy of fish. <Yes, I have a 3 1/2 yr. old niece who
loves to come visit my boyfriend and me to watch the
"Nemos"!> I have a 5 gallon hexagon tank with a type z
rite-size filter and a BioWheel. <I have the same tank
myself. It's not currently set up, but I've used it
in the past.> We had 3 different types of platies and a black Molly.
The black Molly died about a month ago and all has seemed fine with the
rest. <In my experience with mollies, especially black ones,
I've noticed they greatly appreciate either a little aquarium salt,
or being in true brackish (part salt-water)
environments. Seems to keep them healthier and
happier. Just future info. for you. Your platys
may benefit from a bit of aquarium salt as well, but in my experience,
it isn't as essential.> The other day I discovered a very
healthy looking tiny baby with good color. <Welcome to the wonderful
world of livebearers...soon there will be more, then more, then many
more...> I did not even know that any were pregnant. <Pretty much
any time a female livebearer (guppy, platy, molly) is kept in a
community tank with males, it will become pregnant. Also, these fish
have the ability to store sperm for up to 6 months, and pretty much
become "pregnant at will"...> I did not even know what the
difference between a male and a female was. I started trying
to see, who's the Mommy? <The female has a more rounded anal
fin, whereas the male's is more pointed and
elongated. Do a search on "Google" and you'll
find pictures - once you see the difference, you'll see it is quite
easy to tell the two apart. Also, when the females are
pregnant, they become more round in their bellies, and the gravid spot
(right by the anal fin) will become dark and enlarged once they are
ready to give birth.> I did some research and found your web site.
<Glad you did - welcome!> I found a Mommy all right, she kept
hiding and laying around, I was worried because she did not look good
and then I saw her pop out 2 babies. <The females tend to hide when
giving birth - this is totally normal. Hopefully she's
back to normal now?> I went to the store and purchased a small
maternity tank and put her in it. I decided that she was just laboring
hard and I watched her have 7 more babies in the little tank. (the kind
that hangs inside the big tank). This morning she was dead. My kids
don't know yet. <I'm not a fan of these "breeding
boxes"...they tend to stress the fish out and don't allow for
proper filtration. Have you recently done a water change
and/or tested the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? I'll bet
it's time for a water change. Do read here if you
haven't already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
> She appeared to have a slight case of ick. <Like a dusting of
salt?> I teetered back and forth because of the babies and I treated
the tank with Quick Cure. <Very harsh medication. Better
ways to treat Ich such as adding heat, salt...also, you never want to
medicate your main tank. The link I sent you to above
talking about establishing a cycle will address why - the medication
destroys the cycle.> After reading on your site I am more worried
because I have treated for this now for the 3rd time since I have had
the tank and never removed the BioWheel. The directions say remove all
carbon filters, I read about people removing the BioWheel on your site.
Now what? I am like 12 hours in with one baby a couple weeks old, maybe
and some others born last night that seem very iffy health-wise one
newborn escaped into the tank along with the 2 that were born there. I
also have 2 Cory cats in the tank one seems healthy and the other is
missing most of it's fins. I feel very overwhelmed and not sure
what to do next. Please help! <OK, take a deep breath - we can fix
this. First off, I'd like to recommend a very helpful
beginner's book by David E. Boruchowitz - it's called a Simple
Guide to Freshwater Aquariums. It's a very good starting
point. With regards to your situation, you may be
overstocked. How many fish are in the 5 gal. hex? 2 Corys, 3
platys, and the babies? If that's all, you are likely
OK, *if* you keep up on your water changes. You should be
doing 50% weekly. Second, ditch the breeder box - you
don't need it. I highly doubt the Corys will touch the
babies, and most livebearers don't eat their own fry, in my
experience. Third, replace the carbon pad along with a 75%
water change...you need to get the medication out. Re: the
BioWheel, yes, I'd replace it. Normally, you don't
ever want to replace a BioWheel, but if you truly had ick in the tank,
that is a parasite and quite hard to get rid of. Fourth, if
you have a spare tank, I'd isolate the coy with missing fins, and
treat that tank with MelaFix. Make sure to keep the water
pristine, as the fish will be more likely to get an infection due to
the injuries. I think most, if not all of your problems, are
due to poor water quality - let's get that in check and re-assess.
Do you currently see signs of Ich in your tank? You haven't
mentioned it, so I'll assume not... Do check out the book I've
recommended, along with the link. Also, see here for more
useful info.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm
Thank you. Meridith <Hope I've
helped. Please be aware also that the babies are even more
sensitive to poor water conditions than the adult platys
are. Do invest in a good test kit (liquid kind, the
dip-sticks are very inaccurate) and keep ammonia, nitrite and nitrate
levels at zero. Good luck, Jorie>
Platy with clamped
fins 8/22/06 Hi, <Hello> I have been doing lots
of reading the past few days since I have developed some problems in my
tank. I recently had a Mickey mouse platy and a dwarf blue
Gourami die and I have another Mickey mouse platy that is showing signs
of illness (or something I can't identify). Both platies
have been hovering in the corner of the tank for a while with their
fins clamped. The platy that recently died got really
emaciated in his belly even though he was eating. After
about a week and a half he died. He didn't have any
other signs on him to help me know what was wrong (no ulcers, mucous,
funny looking scales etc.) The Gourami had a hole in his
tail fin and had slowed down his movement as well. After a
few weeks, he died too. My other platy hovers in the corner
of the tank with clamped fins but eats well and also doesn't have
any ulcers or other (external) signs of disease. We have
well water and it is VERY alkaline-it reads 300ppm on the test and our
water is also very soft (25ppm). (We don't have a
softener it is just naturally that way.) The ph is always the darkest
pink on the litmus test strip reading 8.4. Nitrates are 20ppm, <I
would keep these no higher> Nitrites are 0, ammonia is 0 too. It is
the Eclipse 12 gallon tank and has been running since this past
Christmas. We have 4 zebra danios and 1 Oto (which are all
healthy) and one more healthy platy in the tank. I have read
a lot on your sight about hard water but not much on soft
water. Do you think that some of the problem could be from
our water being soft? <Yes... some troubles are greatly enhanced
with too-soft water> I did notice recently that there are the little
white worms around the bottom of the tank. I think it is
Planaria which I know won't hurt the fish but it is a sign that
something is wrong. After taking a closer look I noticed a
lot of "stuff" on the bottom of the substrate that has built
up over time. I have been consistent at doing a 30% water
change every 1-2 weeks and I do a gravel vacuum every time.
<Good> I am thinking that I need to do a gravel
vacuum every week now. I have been doing a daily vacuum and
water change for the past few days to get all this extra gunk out of
the bottom. My substrate is about 2 or 3 inches deep because
I have some live plants. Do you think the substrate is too
deep and that is why there is so much buildup? <Mmm, no> Could
that be part of the problem? <Not likely> One more thing-I
realized this week that the water change I did at the beginning of
August was a major mess because I had ran out of dechlorinator and had
bought some more at the store. I realized last week that I
actually didn't buy dechlorinator but some kind of water clear
stuff. So I did a 30% water change with no dechlorinator. It
is amazing that the fish survived-and not only that but I had a lot of
brown algae on our rock and had soaked it in a bleach solution to clear
it up. I guess that could be part of the problem too?
<Yes... a contributing influence> I am still learning as I go and
have been doing tons of reading. I did recently add some aquarium salt
to help with all the water changes and hopefully to ward off any more
illness that is lurking around. Any advice would be
great. I want our fish to be healthy and feel like a dork
for not catching some of this sooner. Thanks-Amelia
<Mmm... I encourage you to look into a reverse osmosis water
filter... for your potable (drinking and cooking) uses as well as to
blend in with your well water for aquarium use. A simple addition of
"Baking Soda" (Sodium Bicarbonate), about a teaspoon per five
gallons, mixed in with new water while you're doing water
changes... will safely raise your water hardness here. Bob
Platies not doing as well as usual...
new system/hobbyist syndrome 7/28/06 Hi -
Thanks for reading this - I need your help as I'm not sure
what's going on. 25 gallon tank set up for 1 1/2 weeks. <...
cycled?> Fish added six days ago. Temp 82 Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0 Nitrates 5 ppm pH 7.5 We bought 6 platies (3 red wag, 3 blue
spotted). One died two days after coming home. The rest of
the platies are usually very curious and very entertaining. They would
swim to wherever you were, follow your finger around the tank glass, if
I put food in the tank they were quick as lightning finding it. We
enjoyed them so much. A couple days ago we found 3 fry, and
I know at least 2 are still alive (not been eaten) as I saw them both
today. There could be more, but with 25 gallons and lots of
java fern, <Ah, good to read that you have live plants here>
they're excellent hiders. All the fish seemed very happy
and healthy until this evening. My husband did a 20% water change as
we've been doing every 3 days to control the ammonia/nitrites.
<Not a good means... this tank, the fishes are suffering for/with
"new tank syndrome"...> After he was done, all 5 fish
stayed near the bottom, breathing extra heavy and frantically waving
their front fins though not moving anywhere. I also noticed
the usually bright blue colour of the blue spotted platies is more of a
dullish gray-green around their head/eyes. If the water
quality is really bad, then wouldn't the babies have already died?
<No, not necessarily. Young are more resistant to some types of
malinfluences than adults> Could this be the sudden (and all 5 at
once?) result of less than optimal tank conditions over the past few
days due to it's newness? <Ah, yes> The tests now look
OK. Or could it be that the gravel vac water change scared
them for some reason? <Perhaps a small factor>
They've seen it before, in fact, once they even went directly under
the water fall 'just to check it out' when we were replacing
the water. I'm sad because our little characters
seem a lot duller than usual. What do you think it is?
<"New water", non-cycled system...> What
can I do? (I added a 1/2 tsp of salt today because I read
that that reduces stress.) Anything else? They
are looking a little more active now but definitely not their usual
selves. Any suggestions? <Look for the product
"Bio-Spira", cut the water changes and feeding way down to
keep ammonia and nitrite under 1.0 ppm... read:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platies not doing as well as
usual 7/28/06 Hi <Hello again> I just thought of
something else that might possibly be relevant. The water we added
today had been sitting in a bucket overnight (to get the temp
acclimated) with conditioner (dechlorinator) and aquatic plant
fertilizer (my husband mixed it in there as opposed to pouring it
directly in the tank). Is it possible that the fertilizer, having sat
in the water overnight without plants to absorb it, broke down into
something toxic to the fish? <Mmm, no... a very good idea to have a
strictly fish-use only plastic container for this purpose. Bob
Sick Platy - 05/17/2006 Hello
There. I have a question that I hope you can help me
with. I have a 12 gallon freshwater tank that I've had
about 8 months that has: 4 platys, 3 Dalmatian mollies, 2
Cory cats and 9 Dalmatian molly fry. I'm getting ready
to move they fry to a 5 gallon tank I just purchased.) My
problem is with one of my platys. She is sick...the scales
around her bottom fin are sticking out. Her poop has been
kind of thick and pink lately. Looks weird, like an
intestine sticking out or something (not that I know what a fish
intestine looks like). I'm worried about her, but also
the other fish in the tank. Last night, I tested the water
for the first time ever (sorry, just found this site yesterday) , and
everything looked good except two things: Nitrate was very
red (couldn't tell exactly what it matched on the card, but was
40-80) so I did a partial water change. The PH was
7.8. So I just went over to the tank to retest the Nitrate
level...and I found out that one of my Dalmatian mollies (that just had
the fry 2 days ago looks terrible!) She is not really
moving, kind of stuck near the filter tube. Oh
no! What is happening? <Likely just this poor
water quality. When you do a water change, you need to be
sure that thee temperature and pH of the new water is the same as the
water in the tank, and be certain to use a chlorine/chloramine
neutralizer.> So my Nitrate level still looks like 40 or 80
today. Should I do another/bigger water change?
<Yes. This alone may be the problem. Try to
get your nitrate below 20ppm; preferably lower if
possible. Also be sure that ammonia and nitrite are ZERO;
anything above zero for either of these should be considered toxic.>
My poor fish - the fish store is closed and I'm not sure what to
do! Please help if possible. Thank you very
much, -Anne <Have patience, and get some water
changed. Once the water quality is improved, hopefully the
fish will improve in health. Wishing you and your pets
Healthy livebearer tank except for my platies 9/3/05
Hello fish folks- <Hello healthy livebearer... or is that your
fishes?> I did as much digging as my toddler would let me through
your archives and didn't find quite the same situation that I have.
Here's the deal. I have a 100G tank that contains an
8-member brilliant Rasbora school, and the rest of the fish are
livebearers: 3 blue-spot platies, 2 red wag platies, an untold number
of red tuxedo platies descended from 3 original adults (all now
deceased), 1 silver molly and some babies, 3 gold dust mollies and some
babies, and 4 gold and red velvet swordtails and their babies (very few
swordtail babies compared to the other species, though). I
guesstimate that there are about 50-60 fish in there. They
have adequate filtration (AquaClear 110: 500gph), a bit of algae
growing on some very healthy java fern to eat, and many, many places to
hide amongst the plants, rocks, and wood decorations (all bought from
fish stores so I know they're safe, I hope). I have
tried to maintain a salt level of one tablespoon to 5 gallons of water,
and I always use AmQuel. Generally the tank is busy and
healthy. So what's my problem? My platies are
dying. They develop large white patches that do not resemble
any fungus that I've experienced (been keeping fish for about 7
years now) nor are they from Ich. The red tuxedos were the
first to go, though they showed no sign of disease other than staying in
corners with their fins clamped. However, the 3 adults
produced at least 20 babies before they died: perhaps they were near
the end of their lives. That doesn't explain some of the
juveniles showing white patches and dying, though: some juvies die without
showing the patches. The red wag platies show the white
patches the most. The blue spot platies aren't showing
any physical symptoms of disease, but they don't look happy: one is
on the bottom under a rock with its fins clamped. If
she's a female, she could be birthing, but I can't tell from my
angle. Every other fish in the tank is fine, although I did have my
adult speckled silver molly spontaneously die yesterday. I
did read an article at The Krib (or at least, my printed archive of it)
that said that tuxedo platies are prone to tumors. Could
this be the problem? A species-specific malady? <Much
more likely conditions (environmental) that favor the other life,
disfavor the platies... the salt for instance is of use to the mollies,
not harmful at this concentration to the Rasboras or Java Fern, but
disliked by the swords, platies> Any help you could offer would be
most welcome. Thanks in advance. Antares, worried fishkeeper
<Am concerned enough to mention the possibility of "Columnaris
Disease"... please search this on the Net, and consider the
addition of the antibiotic Neomycin sulfate to the fishes' foods,
along with vitamin supplementation. Bob Fenner>
Question re cycling (& tragic platy death) 7/16/05 My 9
year old daughter has set up a 55 gallon freshwater tank after reading
an adult book on tropical fish (proud mom here - she read it, reread
parts, talked about it in great detail, made a compelling case for why
a 20 gallon aquarium was not a good beginner tank, relinquished her
allowance for the foreseeable future to pay for the new tank, and
carefully researched what kind of stocking scheme she wanted - end of
proud mom). To jumpstart cycling, she took a BioWheel and
filter cartridge from my long-established, cycled tank (goldfish, not
tropical, but the water tests on the goldfish tank were always perfect
- no ammonia or nitrites, low nitrates, stable pH). We let
my daughter's tank run for 2 days, during which time the ammonia,
nitrites, and nitrates were at 0 and the pH was at 7.4. <Two days...
not long enough... not cycled> The temperature was a
stable 78F. We then got 6 sunburst platies from a large
chain store. These were recommended by an aquarist (not at
the unnamed chain store) as good fish for cycling a tank, <Uh,
no> as they are supposed to be less sensitive to tank
nitrogen. We very carefully acclimated the fish to the new
tank by putting it in a gallon aquarium with their existing water and
adding 1/2 cup of aquarium water ever 5-10 minutes until the fish were
in water that was 75% aquarium water, then netted them quickly into the
aquarium and tossed the old water out. <Actually... if these
are/were the only/new fish, adding the shipping water would have been
better/recommended> She tested the water a few hours after the fish
were put in, chemistry stable. Same thing after 18 hours,
except that one fish had died. We returned the fish to the
chain store, got a new one, came home to discover that 3 more fish had
died. She retested the water and found ammonia at .25 ppm,
nitrites, nitrates, pH and temperature unchanged. We then
did a more than 50% water change, making sure that the temperature of
the new water exactly matched the temperature of the tank.
<Too much change... forestalling establishment of cycling> We did
not treat the water, since we have lovely non-chlorinated water from an
artesian well. One of the 2 surviving original fish has a
large white fuzzy patch on his body just in front of his tail, and I am
not optimistic about his chances, although his swimming and activity
level seem fine). My daughter is upset, and I am annoyed at myself for
getting fish at a chain store, since there seems to be no reason that I
can discern for the fish to die except for stress related to possible
poor conditions in the shipping and in-store care. <You are likely
right here... the biggest/bigger part of the problem here is likely the
initial (lack of) quality of the platies> I'd appreciated any
ideas... Antonia <At this point I'd just leave the remaining
fish in the 55, feed sparingly and hope for the best. No need, use for
"medicines", or water changes lest the ammonia or nitrite
exceed 1.0 ppm... and then no more than 25% in any given day/period.
Please read here re cycling:
the linked files above. I encourage you, your daughter to quarantine
all new livestock... this is discussed on WWM as well. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question re cycling (and tragic platy death) - additional info
7/16/05 For what it's worth, I wanted to add that we have a
Penguin 350 BioWheel filter, no real plants, and rinsed the aquarium
thoroughly and drained it before refilling. Antonia <Mmm, okay...
you might benefit from the addition of some simple, floating plant
material at this juncture. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question re cycling
(and tragic platy death) - additional info #2 7/16/05 Oh, and we
haven't been feeding the fish, having read that fish do fine
without food for a couple of days and that feeding should be extremely
cautious until one is certain the tank is cycled
properly. Great site. Antonia <Ah, good. BobF>
Re: Question re cycling (& tragic platy death) 7/18/05 I
asked earlier about cycling and my daughter's new platy
tank. Just wanted to let you know that the water chemistry
is stable, with ammonia etc. at 0 and no more water changes, the platys
are swimming happily, and the one with the white stuff appears to be
healing. <Ah, good> Thanks for your useful advice and
for reassuring my daughter that the biggest problem was probably the
condition of the fish from the chain store. She was very
upset that she might have done something to kill the fish, which, given
the stable water chemistry, seemed relatively unlikely to me. Antonia
<Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>
Sick Platy in new aquarium... actually platies in a poisonous
non-cycled system I have, well had, a red wag Platy that showed
definite signs that something was wrong. He was fine in the morning
before I went to work, seemed to eat well, and was almost dead when I
got home about 12 hrs later. He couldn't seem to tell which
direction was up, and seemed to be tossed around in the tank by the
currents from the power filter and the bubbles from the lift tubes from
the undergravel filter. He also seemed to have a white powdery
substance around his head and his eyes were glazed over. There are 2
females in the tank also, plus 1 week old baby in a breeder net. All
are platies. I know the tank is still cycling, it is a 10 gal, and the
ammonia is running a bit high, about 1.5 ppm... <Yikes...
dangerously high> ...nitrites at about .3 ppm, nitrates at about 20
ppm, pH running about 7.4-7.6. Tank temp is at 80 deg. There is
charcoal in the power filter, and the lift tubes. I have added a "
C-100 Aquarium Water Purifier" pillow a week or so ago hoping to
help keep the ammonia down while the tank cycles. I did a 10% water
change last Saturday, then added some Stress-Zyme and some Stress-Coat
per the instructions on the bottles. The fish were fed twice daily a
mixture of flake food, and sometimes some crushed baby shrimp, and some
bloodworms, all commercially packed foods. Any ideas what I'm doing
wrong? Thanks, Steve Wickham Wytheville Va <Really? Putting fish
in/through a non-cycled system... The one/male platy might have had
some serious problem before you got it... but, please, no more
livestock, and no feeding period unless the ammonia is under 1.0 ppm.