Reddish tint on gourami fins = ammonia issue?
Hi team, hope you had a great weekend. I added a nice set of 5 feisty cherry
barbs to my year-old aquarium last week--love them so far--and they acclimated
themselves very quickly.
<Would plan to get a few more unless the tank is tiny... Cherry Barbs look best
in largish groups, 8 or more, ideally half that group being females.
But yes, a great species.>
However, today I noticed my two gourami (one gold and one Opaline) are starting
to redden on their caudal fins, radiating from the body. I also noticed the
spots where their pectoral fins meet their bodies becoming red.
They are eating well but their fins are folding more than normal, and they are a
bit more lethargic than normal, although not laying on the bottom. Also, the
gold gourami's colors aren't as bold. No open stores tonight for a testing kit
but I read that this could be potential ammonia poisoning, possibly due to a
spike from adding so many fish at once and/or overfeeding?
<Could easily be, or fin-nipping, or fighting. So you need to review. Take an
ammonia test, though honestly, I prefer to use nitrite test kits because they
both reveal filter problems but nitrite is less likely to report a false
positive (neutralised chloramine for example can register as ammonia, so check
some tap water with water conditioner added, and compare to your aquarium water
ammonia test results).>
The gourami are occasionally gasping for air (more than just a typical anabantid
gulp) which furthers my thought that it's ammonia.
<Might be, but they do of course breathe air, as you state, and do so more often
the warmer the water.>
I skipped their meal tonight, did a 30% water change, and will get a testing kit
tomorrow. Is there anything else I can/should do? Is there any hope for my fish?
Also, if I should keep doing changes now, where can/should I get healthy water
in a pinch? The packaged "aquarium water" from the local big box?
Thanks in advance!
<For now, stick with daily water changes around 25% or so, until such time the
fish behave more normally. Medicating as per Finrot isn't a bad idea, but you
might find the fish heal under their own steam if conditions improve. Cheers,
Re: Reddish tint on gourami fins = ammonia issue?
Following up! Both conditioned water (used Prime) and tank water tested 0 for
all ammonia--no nitrite kits at LFS--so I guess that's not the problem?
<Looks like that's true, yes.>
Could last night's 25% have changed everything? 1 gourami looks a little better
but the other seems worse, jumpy and a bit of shimmy, if those terms are
<Water changes *do* indeed fix a lot of problems. A good rule of thumb is to see
what happens if you do a big water change, 25-50%, keeping temperature and water
chemistry the same. If the fish perk up, the problem is probably environmental,
and medicine might not be needed if you can fix things quickly enough. Perhaps
do a series of water changes, once every day or two, for a week, ten days. After
that, good chance everything will be fine.>
Cherries and Corys seem fine. Haven't fed in a day and doing another 25% as I
write, as you suggested.
<Cool; good luck! Neale.>
Re: Reddish tint on gourami fins = ammonia issue?
Thanks Neale! I'll report back in a week. You're awesome.
<Not sure the Mrs. agrees, but I try! Cheers, Neale.>
Gourami deaths 10/6/10
I have some questions for you regarding my gouramis.
I've been having trouble with them ever since I bought a Opaline
Gourami from my LFS about 2 months ago. I have a 55 gallon freshwater
tank, with a Tetra Whisper EX70 filter, and an air pump with two
valves. (And a heater of course.) I've got it decorated with 1
large stick on plant, 1 large buried plant, 4 medium plants, a skull
and 2 halves of a large boat. I change the decor every once 2-4 months.
My water hardness is fairly high due the water in my area, but my
Nitrite and Nitrates are generally 2-0. (2 being right after water
<I don't understand this. Nitrite and nitrate are different
things. Nitrite should be zero. Anything above zero is stressful, and
above 1.0 mg/l nitrite will quickly kill your fish. Nitrate isn't a
big deal in most
freshwater tanks, but levels 20 mg/l or less are ideal.>
I treat with Prime every water change to keep the levels low.
<Then you misunderstand what Prime does. This is a water
conditioner. It is ONLY about making tap water safe to use. Once the
water is in your aquarium the Prime does NOTHING of any use. It
doesn't reduce the ammonia produced by your fish. Think of it like
toweling your hair dry after you have a shower. Does that stop your
hair getting wet if you then step out into the rain? Of course not.
Prime is a one-shot deal for conditioning tap water before use.>
I started off 1 4 1/2 inch Opaline Gourami, 1 3 inch sucker fish
<What is this? Some "Sucker Fish" are dangerous, notably
Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, a highly aggressive species with little
interest in algae once mature.>
and 5 goldfish which I passed onto a friend shortly after buying my 55
gallon tank. I than bought 2 Gold Gouramis, which have grown to 3-4
inches and 3 Odessa Barbs. A couple weeks later, I bought another
Opaline Gourami and 3 Sunset Gourami's.
<These latter are Colisa lalia varieties, a species notorious for
its tendency to get sick and die.>
This is where my problems start. Not even 24 hours later, my Opaline
Gourami is dead. I'm horrified; his eye is missing.
<Likely died from some unknown thing, and the eye was eaten
I bring him to the pet store and am given a refund, but no explanation.
So I go off to Wal-Mart and buy some parasite clear (the Jungle Tank
Buddies brand,) and drop some in. I add some salt as well to help the
<Okay, here's where the wheels come off the wagon. Don't
EVER add medications OR salt without understanding why. Imagine you got
sick, and before the doctor even looked at you he handed over a bottle
Could be anything! Would antacids heal a broken leg? Would painkillers
fend off a TB infection? Whether you're treating man or fish, the
rule is simple: diagnose the problem, and then treat as required. Most
medications are poisons, so when used for the wrong reason are more
likely to cause harm than good. Plus, salt stresses freshwater fish,
and should only be used strictly as necessary.>
The next day, one of the Sunset Gourami's is dead as well.
I go to the LFS again, and demand to know what is happening. I've
never had any sick fish before, let alone any that get a bubble over
their eye and than die within 24 hours.
<Do you mean Pop-eye? Exophthalmia? Typically caused by physical
damage and/or poor environmental conditions.>
The LFS employees have no idea what is wrong and tell me to buy some
fungus clear (Pimafix Antifungal) in hopes that it'll work.
<Not particularly useful advice, but hey, he made a sale.>
A few days pass, and oh, what do ya know, another begins to show signs
of being sick.
<I'm fairly sure there's an environmental problem here. When
one fish dies, that can be bad luck. But when one fish dies after
another, and this goes on for weeks, then it's much more likely
you're doing something wrong in terms of fishkeeping.>
White stringy poo, lack of appetite and laying on the bottom of my
tank. I continue with the treatment for the remaining two days, the
sick Odessa barb is still holding on. I than do a 50% water change as I
needed to do a 25% and it was getting close to my monthly water change
anyway. He's still not doing any better, so I go to the LFS again.
FINALLY I am told 'Oh, that sounds like Pop-eye.' -Gee... Why
couldn't they have told me earlier?- I am told to now try Melafix
<Notoriously unreliable medication.>
The poor barb holds on for another two days before passing on. After
the Melafix week of treatment is done, I do another water change. None
of the other fish have died, but all still have the stringy poop.
I'm told not to think to much of it from the LFS; a may just be
result of the meds.
<Indeed. You're adding so much stuff without having the first
clue why, that the chances of an abreaction to the medications is very
high. To quote from Simon & Garfunkel, "Slow down you move to
fast". It's really, REALLY important to understand what
you're doing each time you're dealing with sickness, whether
your own or your pets.>
Everything is going fine for good week and a half before my sucker fish
dies. I'm don't get too concerned about it, seeing as how he
was the one to eat the waste of the sick fish.
<What? Sucker Fish should not be eating fish wastes. If they are,
they're starving, and in any case, it's not their job to clean
up the tank. I'm now increasingly certain that you're creating
these problems yourself.>
I buy another sucker fish the next day.
<Oh dear. Why are you buying new fish when you can't keep your
existing ones alive?>
After waiting another week, only a two of my fish have the long poo, so
I decide it's safe to buy new fish.
I buy another barb, my remaining two were fighting too much over
All is well after another 2-3 weeks, so I buy 2 Dwarf Gourami's and
another Opaline. (This was just last week.) None of my fish show any
sign of being sick.
The other day, my pump lost it's tube in the water. (It happened at
night, so I replace it in the morning.) No deaths via pump, but my Gold
Gourami must have gotten his tail too close, as it's shredded.
(Like paper when you tear stripes but the page is still intact.) I put
Prime in the water after his tail was shredded for his stress coat, but
I thought he would heal okay.
<Prime has nothing to do with this.>
Today, he passed away too.
Is there something still in my water from the fish sickness before
<No, the fault is almost certain at *your* hand. You're not
keeping this fish very well.>
I ask this because though he showed no signs of being sick, his eyes
were sunken in. I'm doing a water change tomorrow since he died, is
there anything else I should do? My other fish seem fine. Any advice or
help on my previous problem and my most recent one is greatly
<Time to sit down, read some stuff about keeping fish, and reflect
on what you have and haven't been doing. Here are some good
articles that I think you'd benefit from reading:
Thank you very much, Selena.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Gourami deaths 10/8/10
Hey Neale, Just following up the previous message. Sorry, by
'sucker fish', I meant Pleco Algae Eater.
<Fair enough. Unfortunately, even this kind of catfish is a very
messy, very large fish. I wouldn't recommend them, even for 55
gallon tanks. You would be much better off with a Bristlenose Catfish,
Ancistrus sp., a species that gets to about 12 cm/5 inches long, and is
a much MUCH better algae-eater than a Plec.>
I know I shouldn't have bought another Algae Eater after my last
one died, but like I said, it was about 2 weeks without any fish
<Well, you and I both seem to know this wasn't a great
My Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels are almost always 0, but there
was a time when they were higher than normal (according to LFS staff
after sampling my water following the second fish's death. I went
with '2-0' in my last message because the test strips were
slightly above normal, but every time before and after the higher
reading, my levels were always spot-on.)
<I see. In any case, unless you're consistently getting zero
ammonia and zero nitrite, your aquarium has water quality problems.
Until and unless you have perfect water quality -- i.e., zero ammonia
and zero nitrite, week after week -- don't add a darn thing to your
community tank roster.>
I know salt isn't good for freshwater fish, but I was told it is
okay to use if your fish are sick as it helps them heal. Is this
<The thing with salt is that it fixes specific problems, but it has
no affect on others. Often people add salt thinking it's a cure,
but in fact it does nothing at all, and even if it doesn't stress
the fish in question, the lack of real medication means the fish
continues to get sick. There are situations where salt is useful, but
you have to know what they are. It's a bit like antibiotics, which
are good for bacterial infections but have no
effect on viral ones, so taking antibiotics when you have a cold or flu
won't do anything at all. Indeed, as medical science now clearly
understands to its horror, overuse of antibiotics has actually created
mammoth problems for our children and grandchildren to deal with. Read
here to learn about when to use salt:
If so, I won't use any again. I only used the meds that I was told
to use the LFS; but again, I won't do it again and will do research
if there is a next time.
<Again, any particular medication is useful only for treating
I've never had problems before; none of my fish have been sick or
have died before until I got that Opaline from the store. I probably
should have added that their fish were sick later as well (with the
Pop-Eye,) but than again, I should have bought a small tank to
quarantine the new fish to begin with.
<Certainly a quarantine tank is helpful. But even without one, you
can avoid problems by waiting a while between adding new fish. A good
quarantine period is 6 weeks, so why not leave at least 6 weeks between
each new fish? That'd help you know if the fish you've added to
your community was healthy, and after six weeks, most problems should
have become apparent.>
I have learned my lesson there, big time, and now have an extra 5
<Of course, de bear in mind that the quarantine tank needs to have
good environmental conditions. If the fish are stressed in the
quarantine tank, they'll get sick anyway, which sort of defeats the
object of the exercise. Five gallons is fine for quarantining a few
Neons, but I wouldn't stick a Plec in there!>
I use Prime every water change since the bottle tells me it removes
Chlorine, Chloramine and Ammonia as well as detoxifies Nitrite and
Nitrate, along with providing Slime coats. Is this another phony?
<Not phony, but referring only to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate IN
YOUR TAP WATER. If we could add stuff to the AQUARIUM that removed
ammonia, nitrite and nitrate -- why would we bother with
What does Prime truly do?
<It makes tap water safe to use. That's it. Nothing
I see now, after reading the links you gave me that Melafix and Pimafix
are pretty much useless.
<Useless is perhaps too strong a word, but their range of functions
is limited. I'm sure you have at home antiseptic ointment you'd
use if you cut yourself. But you'd be alarmed if a surgeon wanted
to treat gangrene with antiseptic! These things have their place, and
Melafix would be fine as a preventative if your fish got damaged
perhaps by fighting, and you wanted to make sure its nipped fins
didn't become infected with Finrot or Fungus.
But once you actually see symptoms of Finrot or Fungus, it's time
to skip Melafix and go with the heavy-hitting medications, in just the
same way a surgeon uses different medications to the ones you keep in
the bathroom cabinet.>
I have to admit, I sometimes wonder if the staff at my LFS are
retarded; they give me the most ridiculous information sometimes, not
to mention how often their fish are sick.
<Like anything in retail, fish shops vary wildly. Some are
excellent, and provide superb advice. Often these are the ones where
the owner of the shop is a keen fishkeeper himself or herself, and when
he says X works for treating Y, it's because he or she has used it
for that. But others are staffed by people who really don't know
much about fish, and while they may receive some training and have some
access to literature, you can't really expect them to be experts.
I'm sure you can think of grocery stores where
some have a guy on the meat counter who really knows his stuff and can
recommend great cuts and appropriate cooking styles, and then there are
others where the guy doesn't know anything beyond what's on
The bottom line is that you should certainly talk with your retailer,
but calibrate what they say against what you read in books, and then
weight their advice accordingly.>
Reflecting on that thought, I probably shouldn't have taken their
advice when my fish were sick so eagerly... I knew I must have been
doing something wrong after the second death, but I had no idea how
wrong I really was. Eech. Thanks again for the help, the links were
quite enlightening! Selena.
<Glad to help. Feel free to write back if you need more information,
but you might also want to mosey on down to the WWM Bulletin Board
where you can spend some time chatting with other aquarists. Often
it's helpful to communicate with people who've been in the same
boat as you, either to complain vociferously and vent your frustration,
or to share your experiences and help out others.
Fishkeeping is fun, trust me on this, and actually not difficult if you
do things step by step. But like so many other things in life, like
cooking or dancing or driving, from the outside looking in it can often
difficult indeed. Cheers, Neale.>
Aggression and injury to three spot Gourami...
We're complete novices and are just starting out with a 10 gallon
<Do read here please:
It's been set up over 4 weeks now, and after getting the water
tested last week at our LFS and getting the green light, we purchased
two male three spot gouramis.
<How did you cycle the tank? If there's no ammonia source,
letting the tank sit with the filter running for 4 weeks achieves
precisely nothing. Any water taken from such a tank will indeed seem
"fine" because there's been no ammonia going into the
water. There's nothing to test! You must cycle the tank with some
sort of ammonia source. A pinch of flake food every day or two works
well, though many folks like to use bottled ammonia to raise the
concentration in the water to between 1-5 mg/l. Either way, there's
ammonia going into the water, thereby replicating what happens when
there's livestock in the tank. An aquarium without fish is just a
box filled with water, and in now way cycling.>
There are no other fish in the tank, but we noticed right away one was
more aggressive than the other.
<This species cannot be kept in a 10 gallon tank. Who told you this
would be a good idea? No aquarium book would recommend this. Three-spot
Gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus) are [a] far too big for a 10
gallon tank and [b] known to be aggressive. Even a single male can,
will cause trouble in a 30 gallon tank. So let's get real here, and
choose fish suited to a tank this size. There are plenty to choose
from. Retailers will happily exploit your novice status and sell you
any old thing. That's why we recommend you buy an aquarium book
before you do anything else. Failing that, come talk to us.>
The non aggressive one suffered an injury on its head about 5 days ago
- it looked like a minor scratch. We've been monitoring it, and it
appeared to be healing fine until today when we noticed the aggressive
one biting the
wound of the non aggressive one and now it's red, irritated and
<Finrot. If this tank wasn't cycled with a source of ammonia,
then the water quality in this tank will be pretty dire by now.
Non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels stress fish, reducing their immune
systems, and allow wounds to become infected. Finrot can be treated
using antibiotics (e.g., Maracyn) or antibacterials (e.g., eSHa 2000)
but either way water quality has to be perfect or you're whistling
into the wind. Be sure not to get hoodwinked into using salt or
tea-tree oil "medicines". They don't work in situations
like this and are, at best, preventatives rather than cures.>
I've been checking on them throughout the day, and it seemed to
happen only during their feeding time this morning. Should we should
permanently separate them, or separate them until the injury has
healed, or just separate them at meal time? Any help you can give is
<Return both of these fish. They don't belong in this tank. If
the tank isn't properly cycled, anything you throw in is likely to
get sick. Cycle the tank, and then stock carefully, choosing species
suited to such a tiny aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Aggression and injury to three spot Gourami
Thanks. We did cycle with the fish flakes,
but I'm sure that our LFS saw us coming.
Even after telling them the size of the tank, they still suggested the
two three spot gouramis - to quote "I've found them less
aggressive in a pair".
<A pair isn't two males. And in any case, the males are pretty
hard on the females outside of spawning. Trichogaster trichopterus is a
species I have trouble recommending. Although hardy, cheap, and
colourful, it's aggressive and as it ages becomes increasingly
lethargic. So like the Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) this is a species I
don't see much point to. For a small aquarium, either Sparkling or
Croaking Gouramis are much better, or failing that, a female Betta can
work well too. Cheers, Neale.>
Female Blue Gouramis Ill? 9/17/09
I own a 10 gallon aquarium and I have had three female blue gouramis
for 2 years, 2 months and I've replaced the aquarium once.
<This tank is too small for this species. Ensuring good water
quality is one challenge, but the social behaviour of the species is
another, male Trichogaster trichopterus being notoriously
I do weekly water changes and have a few decorations (I used to have
live plants) for them to hide behind and they usually group together.
I've always fed them Tetra Flakes.
<Do mix this up a bit, if only to make sure the fish get some greens
and fibre. Cooked peas, thinly sliced cucumber, cooked spinach all do
well on the greens front; live or frozen daphnia and brine shrimp are
good "laxative" foods for most small fish.>
For the most part they've gotten along and never had a problem.
However, in recent weeks they've been behaving odd.
A month ago they started to nibble at each other.
<Either bullying or consuming mucous from a weaker fish.>
It started with Lorie (the smallest) nibbling at the Tallulah (the
biggest) and then Rebecca (medium sized). Eventually they all started
to nibble and chase back. Lulah seems to be the most victim and weakest
of my fish.
<As I say, it's a fairly aggressive species. Sexing isn't
Males generally have longer dorsal fins, but this isn't always
obvious. In any case, while males are usually the problem, it's not
beyond the realms of possibility that females, in such a small tank,
might exhibit some
Sometimes she doesn't eat as much and just hangs in a corner all
day. When the other fish are frightened and go to hide, they usually go
to her spot.
A few times I've noticed her almost try to push them away.
Following some advice I read here, I decided to separate them for a
while. It seemed to do the trick and they seemed fine.
But soon later, I noticed it again. I changed the water the following
weekend as was needed and upon placing them back in the tank, they
turned a very dark color. I attributed it to stress and the rest of
that day they didn't nibble.
<Need a bigger tank and more hiding places.>
The next day, however, they were fine and swimming freely... but also
chasing and nibbling. About a week ago Lulah had some scales missing
from her head and exposed flesh. :(
<Very serious. While the nibbling might have been opportunistic
predation, i.e., the other Gouramis eating excess mucous or even dead
skin on an injured fish, it's just as possible aggression lead to
an injury, and the
wound became infected. In either case, isolate the injured fish in a
hospital tank, and treat with suitable anti-Finrot medication, e.g.,
Maracyn, eSHa 2000, Seachem Paraguard.>
I didn't even notice they nibbled at the head, because of the
conflict I kept a close watch on them, I never saw a nibble to the
head. Just the fins, side and tails and the other fish always swam away
being bitten. Could the wound have been due to illness instead?
<Difficult to say.>
Lulah has since healed but now she has a big lump on her side! I've
read about Gourami Disease and hope that's not the problem. No
scales are poking out and it's really sudden!!! It only could have
developed in the last few days.
<Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV) specifically harms Dwarf Gouramis,
i.e., Colisa lalia. There are all-blue forms of Dwarf Gourami, e.g.,
Neon Dwarf Gourami, so do make sure you aren't confusing that
species with the "true" Blue Gourami, Trichogaster
trichopterus. While Trichogaster trichopterus may well carry the virus,
it doesn't seem to be nearly so prone to developing
The fish still nibble occasionally but it's mostly Lorie and she
was the one who started it. I'm soon removing her permanently. The
reason I haven't done so yet is because they have NEVER acted in
such a way in 2 years!
<Let me stress this, when we recommend a minimum tank size for a
species, it's precisely because fish behaviour changes as fish
mature. A 10-gallon tank isn't viable for this species, and in a
larger tank, you probably wouldn't have encountered this
I was hoping for a quick solution but this just isn't working
Could this big behavioral change be due to their age?
Or do you suspect they all have some sort of illness?
<Impossible to say, though stress (from bullying) allows bacteria
and viruses to cause problems they wouldn't otherwise cause. So
it's a chicken/egg thing really.>
Would the others develop a huge lump too?
<Difficult to say, but probably not. Isolate the sick fish,
certainly, and treat against Finrot to clean the wound. The swelling is
likely inflammation, and frankly, with small fish, it either goes away
fish is given optimal conditions, or else the fish dies. As to it being
contagious, well, all you can do is make sure the aquarium is the right
size, properly maintained, etc. and see what happens. Certainly
don't add any more gouramis of any kind for at least 6 months, so
you can see if this is a virus systematically killing off related
species, or else a one-off caused by bad maintenance on your
Re: Female Blue Gouramis Ill? 9/17/09
Thanks for the reply.
I will follow every bit of advice you gave me
<That's what I like to hear!>
and report back eventually with an update.
Thanks again! :)
<Good luck, Neale.>
Bruised Gourami 11/11/08 Hi crew! I'm sorry if
there's a similar question already posted - I did try to check for
one. I have a sick Gourami - he looks like a blue Gourami
(Trichogaster trichopterus? - but he's only 3 in long and
definitely full grown - maybe he's a Dwarf? I included a picture of
him (in the middle & one of his tank mates on the right and just
barely one on the left of him). Also, I assume he's male because
he's bigger than the other blue Gourami in the 20 gal tank. There
is also one other honey Gourami(?) in the tank, some plastic plants
& a cave. I've had the fish for about 2 years. A quarter of the
water is changed every month or two - it's been about a month since
it was last changed. The tap water is treated with pH 7.0, a
chlorine/Chloramine treatment (Aquaplus), Cycle, and waste control
before it goes into the tank. (But no water quality data,
unfortunately). Today he's mellow (usually he's a bully), and
he has what looks like bruising near and on his anal fin and caudal fin
and he seems to be listing a little to one side. He is still eating.
Any ideas on what it could be and/or how to fix it? Thanks! Melissa
<Hello Melissa. The Gouramis in your photo are indeed both
Trichogaster trichopterus, the Three-spot Gourami. Males and females
are similar in size, but males have much longer dorsal fins, so are
usually easy to distinguish. In any case, the red patches on the body
and fins suggest Finrot. This is commonly caused by poor water quality.
What worries me is that you only change 25% of the water "every
month or two" -- this is not nearly enough! You should be changing
25% per week. I'm also concerned that you're randomly adding
stuff but don't know anything about the water quality or water
chemistry in the tank. Let's be crystal clear about this: adding
stuff doesn't remove the need to perform, at minimum, occasional pH
and nitrite tests. For example, adding a pH buffer is pointless and
potentially dangerous if you have no idea what the baseline pH of your
tap water is. If you're only changing tiny amounts of water, as you
are, the pH level can (and probably does) change dramatically between
water changes, even with the pH buffer added. "Waste control"
whatever the heck that is doesn't remove the need for decent
filtration and regular water changes. So, bottom line, this fish
needs treating for Finrot using something like Maracyn or eSHa 2000
(but not Melafix/Pimafix). Then you need to seriously review how
you're looking after your fish. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bruised Gourami 11/13/08 Hi Neale, Thanks for
the quick response. <You are most welcome.> I checked my water
today, and the nitrate levels were high (about 60 ppm - the tester said
to keep it under 40ppm) and the hardness is awful - the house water
softener must be on the fritz (I'll be getting a fix for the
aquarium tomorrow). <Do not EVER use water from a domestic water
softener in an aquarium. All domestic water softeners do is remove what
is called "temporary hardness" from water. This is the stuff
that makes limescale in pipes and appliances. It does this by
replacing temporary hardness with sodium salts. The resulting water is
a weird cocktail of minerals including sodium chloride that fish would
never experience in the wild. It is completely unsuitable for
fishkeeping. Do not confuse water from a domestic water softener with
actual soft water (rain water, RO water, or naturally soft water).
ALWAYS use water from the tap that bypasses the domestic water softener
-- likely the tap you get drinking water from. Three-spot Gouramis will
tolerate hard, basic water just fine.> But the nitrites, ammonia,
and chlorine were 0. You were right about the pH - the buffer
wasn't keeping the water at 7.0 (it was just below 6) - but the
changing the hardness of the water should help, right? <Provided you
switch back to the non-softened water, the pH will presumably be around
7.5 to 8.0, which if you have hard water will be alongside high levels
of hardness, in particular carbonate hardness. The pH will be very
stable because the carbonate hardness will buffer against pH changes.
So yes, I would expect 25-50% weekly water changes will keep the pH
stable. This is crucially important to understand: most freshwater fish
will adapt to any pH between 6 and 8, what they cannot stand is varying
pH because this has a severe effect on their internal physiology.>
After a water change the nitrates were around 20ppm & the pH was
back at 7 (for now). By the way, Waste Control says it's an organic
waste eliminator - I was told it was commonly used at the pet store.
<Most of these bold-on goodies may have some marginal usefulness or
no particular use at all. Buy them, don't buy them, as you prefer.
But the critical thing is that you understand the essentials: stable
pH, zero ammonia and nitrite, regular water changes. Get those things
in the bag and you're fine. Aquarists living in hardwater areas
have things easy, because hard water naturally prevents pH changes. So
all aquarists in hardwater areas need to worry about is doing regular
water changes and installing an adequate filter system.> I have
begun treatment with Maracyn & will do more regular water changes.
Me & my sick Gourami thank you very much for your help! <More
than welcome. Good luck, Neale.>
General questions about Gourami 4/19/08 Hello! I came across your website today
while I was looking for information about Gouramis. I'm quite new
to fish ownership, so please excuse any stupid questions I might pose.
I started off with a small tank, only 20L (which I believe is only
about a really tiny 5 gallons...) <Way too small for practically any
tropical fish. Almost any problems you have will come down to the tank,
so your NUMBER-1 priority is replacing this with a system at least 20
gallons in size. Ten gallon and smaller tanks simply aren't easy
for inexperienced aquarists to maintain or stock properly.> I have a
Silvertip Tetra, 2 Corys and a 'Gold' Three-Spot Gourami.
<All completely non-viable in here. While I'm happy to help
explain any specific problems, none of these fish will last long (or be
happy!) in here for any length of time. So "fixing" the
problems is a waste of your time (and likely their lives). The
Silvertip tetra MUST be kept in a group of six or more specimens and
easily needs a "long" 20 gallon (in metric terms, that's
something like a 75 liter tank not less than 60 cm in length). The
Corydoras need something similar, and should certainly be kept in
groups of 4-6 specimens, minimum. Three-spot Gouramis are BIG fish when
mature, around 10-15 cm, and even a 20 gallon tank is too small for a
territorial male. When mature, males of this species are incredibly
aggressive and disruptive.> P.H. level is 7.0 and has never gone
more than 0.2 up or down. <Still WAY more pH change than happens in
an aquarium properly set up; small tanks are intrinsically unstable,
and this is one aspect of the problem. Instability = dead fish.>
There's only one plant as previous ones were eaten... <No, not
eaten. They died, and then decayed. Tanks as small as the one you have
almost never come with strong enough lights for plants to grow.
Furthermore, inexperienced aquarists are often sold non-aquatic plants,
often under such names as "umbrella ferns" and "dragon
plants" and the like. As with fish, you need to research plants
*before* purchase, otherwise you WILL be sold junk. An informed shopper
is a successful shopper.> I have yet to pick up an ammonia kit, and
should be getting one tomorrow. Last week one Cory cat died, so I
wanted to ask about that as well. It just became quite listless, and
would often 'fall over' onto its side. It showed no signs of
disease, and I did see it eat, though perhaps not as much as it used
to. <Likely chronically bad water quality, insufficient water
movement, inadequate oxygenation. Or multiple causes. Anyway, no
surprises here.> The other fish seem fine though, which brings me to
my actual question. Near its tail, my Gourami seems to have some kind
of 'bubble' in its body. Like a clear lump that looks like a
bubble...I was just wondering whether it's something to worry
about, <Yes... likely an incipient bacterial infection of some
kind.> or whether I just haven't noticed that part of its
anatomy. It's quite young, I believe, only 6cm long (not even 3
inches), if that's any help. <Still needs treating with a
reliable antibacterial/antibiotic (NOT Melafix/Pimafix).> I do water
changes every week, and I always remove uneaten food. Thanks, Kit.
<Water changes every week don't even begin to come close to
solving the problems you have here. If you're one of the people who
gets offended by me saying "everything you're doing is
wrong" I apologise for hurting your feelings in advance. But yes,
you are doing everything wrong, and the chances of success are
virtually nil. None of these fish will be happy in this system, even if
by some miracle they survive. They MUST HAVE a 20 gallon/75 litre
aquarium to be even close to happy and healthy. Your move. Cheers,