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Chlorurus bleekeri (De Beaufort 1940), Bleeker's Parrotfish. West Pacific; Moluccas to Fiji, including the GBR and Micronesians. Initial/female individual in N. Sulawesi, Indo.
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Updated 12/18/2018
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Re: Lowering pH for acclimation     12/18/18
Dear Bob,
<Ave Branko>
Thank you for your reply.
Having read all this, I assume it's best to use CO2 instead of acids, it will be safe for fish and it will evaporate out of the water and pH will go back to normal in desired time frame.
It should have no side effects like vinegar right, bacterial bloom etc?
Additionally, I have no FW experience so this may sound dumb. Would saltwater biofilter die if it was placed in freshwater or it would continue to work as intended?
<Too much change (saltiness and reverse) in too little time will kill off nitrifying bacteria. See Neale Monk's references on WWM re>
Im asking this, because I want to run my acclimation system with freshwater for a few days to kill off potential pests that aren't FW resistant. Idea is to sort of nuke it before each import without killing biofilter in the process.
<BEST to have some NEW filter media being cultured for such use all the time. GROWN in a tank or sump in your established marine system>
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,
<I do hope this is clear; that you understand. Cheers, BobF>

Re: Ich in Shrimp/Planted Tank     12/18/18
Thanks so much for the quick response.
<Welcome; certainly>
The "what could have happened" referred to the mysterious shrimp deaths of the first two.
Sadly, I have come back to 3 more dead shrimp today. The tank temp is sitting only around 82 right now. Should I stop increasing temp?
<... I would raise it to 85 F....>
Will the week you mentioned at an elevated temp be enough to rid the tank of ich?
<Hopefully so>
The fish are darting around, so I think everyone is getting stressed. I am at a loss on what to do from here. I've heard Paraguard is invert safe,
<?! It is NOT. The Malachite (Green) is quite toxic to shrimps: https://www.seachem.com/paraguard.php>
so I am honestly tempted to lower the temp a little (roughly ~80) and go with it in tank or just net all the fish out and treat separately. I really don't want to lose more shrimp (or fish for that matter) if I can avoid it. I lowered the water level a bit and have a sponge filter already running (the sponge gives a ton of aeration).
<The choice is yours>
Furthermore, am I making an inaccurate assumption with the shrimp? I have been assuming stress is causing losses this whole time since water parameters have been correct and I haven't seen any obvious signs of disease.
<I/one cannot really say based on the proffered data. There could be other cause/s, influences at play here>
Thank you all again for the assistance.
<To be as clear as I'd like: I simply respond to folks GIVEN the information available and what I have confidence in, to WHAT I would do given similar circumstances. In this case, were it me/mine, I would go forward with the increased temperature, possibly add some activated carbon to the filter, flow path (to discount metabolite, other noxious factors); and NOT medicate, NOT move the organisms here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ich in Shrimp/Planted Tank     12/18/18

I probably should have looked at the ingredients before thinking about Paraguard. Testimonials or not, I am not risking malachite green with shrimp. My apologies.
<No worries>
I bumped up the heater again to get it to 85F and will plan on a week at that temp once it gets there. I'll pick up some carbon just in case something is going on that I can't see/test for.
It does make one wish for a crystal ball though. I appreciate all of your (and team's) efforts to essentially assist people blindly.
Assuming no more shrimp deaths or major fish distress I will maintain course per your advice. If anything else happens I will just go ahead and net the fish out to treat separately.
<Anima bona fac; be of good life. Cheers, BobF>

Re: Impulse buy plants.....Ooops     12/18/18
Thank you Bob!!! That's awesome. I'll try that. I love this beautiful plant and this 30 gallon really is the best tank I have to fit this size of a plant.
Your i.d.'s are missing from this thread below. Will you please try again sending the email where you i.d.'d them?
<See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PltSysDailies.htm>
Re: Impulse buy plants.....Ooops
I have wild harvested South American Lime Green Endler's.
It appears that Otos are strictly vegetarian? Would be unlikely to go after Endler's fry? I wonder if Endler's would go after Oto fry....
<They are almost exclusively algae eaters; I don't think they'd consume livebearer fry>
The Endler's do not eat their young. I have very much been wanting to add Cherry Shrimp to the tank, but worried that they might possibly chase the different species fry.
<RCS won't eat Endler's young either, the opposite though...>
I am trying to build up the plant life though and I guess I could also remove a female shrimp when she is carrying eggs and put her in a smaller tank until they grow...
<Mmm; lo dudo. I doubt this>
Can you recommend a good grassy plant to spread and carpet the front, and or is that one I have decent?
<There are a bunch of choices here. Bucephalandra is a current fave of many, and readily available. Are you familiar with the AGA group/site?  https://www.aquatic-gardeners.org/
You'd very likely enjoy perusing, interacting w/ folks there as well>
Thank you again Bob.
<Welcome Jill. B>

Puffer question     12/18/18
You guys have a quick one for you have you ever seen a parasite show up on a Caribbean porcupine puffer when salt is brought to 1.010 that causes pale pigmentation in the facial area rapidly progressing and killing the fish
<Tom; geez; where's your punctuation?! The pale pigmentation might well just be due to the stress of suddenly dropping, being in water of low specific gravity. If you're interested, I'd sample the area (See Ed Noga's works on Fish Disease) and take a look under a 'scope. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer question     12/18/18

Sorry using talk to text.
The puffer was kept in this lower salinity for almost 2 months.
Unfortunately it is in an area I will not be for many months. So getting to look at it under a microscope will not happen unfortunately. This just happens to be one that someone bought from us in October proclaims it was covered in ich dropped it to 1.015 salinity. Then after taking it to his local pet store they told him to drop it down to 1.010 rather than give it Prazi and formalin baths
<Mmm; well, I doubt if the Crypt/Ich is still there. I'd return the fish to NSW (near natural seawater) strength... slowly; like a thousandth of density per day. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer question     12/18/18

Sadly it is too late somehow they managed to kill the puffer. They are blaming it on this expanding palish spot that was on the fishes face.
<Aye ya... likely just loss of ionic balance. Cheers, BobF>

Interesting Neuromast issue     12/17/18
<... is for equines?>
Please see attached photo of a maculosus angel. In captivity a long time.
Recently started showing heavy neuromast pustules. A vlamingii tang is also showing a similar condition.
This is a fish only system, with artificial decor. Typical water parameters. Any ideas a reasonable course of treatment?
<Mmm; yes; but first a review of likely causes. Inflammation, enlargement of lateralis pores as this is often due to irritation (chemical, physical, biological), leading to infection; possible parasitic involvement.
A useful approach is to improve water quality (muds of various sorts, HUFAs, Vitamins added to foods and directly to the water. Do you measure, manipulate ORP? I would.... I would NOT resort (at this time) to "medicating" as the likely source of trouble here is environment. Let's have you read what we have assembled on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hlle.htm
The linked files in blue, at top. Bob Fenner>

Ich in Shrimp/Planted Tank     12/17/18
Hello Crew!
<Ms. H.>
I am finally back in the hobby after many years. However, it has not quite started as smoothly as I would like. The tank is a planted 29 G standard (fishlessly cycled- 0 ammonia, nitrite, ~10 ppm nitrate, 74*F currently) and was initially stocked with 28 celestial pearl Danios, 1 (maybe 2 inch) albino Bristlenose Pleco, and ~30 cherry shrimp. Before that, the tank was cycling with just plants and hitchhiker snails for about 5 weeks. The livestock was added on 12/5. Absolutely none of the local fish stores are decent, so these critters were shipped to me from a single supplier.
So far, I have lost two shrimp (one a few days ago and the other yesterday), one Danio (arrived very skinny and haven't seen it in a while), and now the Bristlenose Pleco (late yesterday). I was trying to figure out what on earth happened, since the tank has consistently shown 0 ammonia/nitrite and I had seen everyone eating. Today, I noticed a couple of the Danios had suspicious white spots (one or two per fish, some on the body and some on the fins). I am guessing ich is what took the Pleco and that it was hard to spot on the albino fish. I am especially kicking myself because I ordered online to specifically avoid major ich problems like all the local stores have! No idea, beyond shipping stress, on what could have happened to the shrimp.
<This last; "what could have happened to the shrimp." What are you referring to?>
Now I am faced with a dilemma. Most advise for treating ich involves salt/heat. Can I go to 85/86* safely with CPDs?
<They should be okay at this temperature temporarily (a week or so); as long as there is sufficient aeration>
I'm thinking it should be fine in the short term (and will be slowly raising temps unless told otherwise). Can heat alone work (which I see is sometimes recommended)?
<Heat alone can (indeed) work>
Most importantly, will this kill my shrimp and plants if I try to do this in the main tank?
<See the mention of the Cryptocorynes below. RCS upper temp. limit is generally/given as 80F... again, I would risk raising it to the mid 80's here>
The tank is planted with crypt wendtii and balansae, so I am particularly worried about melting the plants down to nothing (again LOL). I can live with dead plants if it means healthy fish but I am rather attached to the shrimp already. I have the ability to set up a QT tank for the fish to treat separately, but I don't know if that would cause more stress to the fish.
<Agreed; and, what a trial trying to net them out!>
From what I can find on here, leaving the display without fish for a week or so at 80* should be long enough for any cysts to die off, but please let me know if that's wrong. Treating the whole tank with anything aside from salt and heat is pretty much a non-starter if I understand correctly too. Finally, would acquiring a UV sterilizer be of any use (as either an alternative or adjunct to any of the above)?
<There are other methods, but I would just go w/ the heat here>
Lesson learned- always QT (even if it's the only fish and it's all from the same supplier and they are very reputable) and QT the fish and shrimp separately.
<Ah yes>
Many thanks in advance!
<Welcome. Please do keep us informed of your observations. Bob Fenner>

Re: Impulse buy plants.....Ooops     12/17/18
Well, I've clearly made a huge error in judgment impulse buying that beautiful red tiger lotus. There seems to be a general consensus that it will quickly overtake a tank and the roots go under all the other plants roots making it difficult to extricate.
<Mmm; well; keeping the floating, almost floating plants will fore/stall this for quite a while; AND there is the technique of "blind potting" such plants... cutting down a plastic bottle, using an inert tray with gravel, soil if you like... to contain such root growth>
I have another tank that I'm going to move it to, and I'll cut the tall leaves so that it doesn't flower and seed. It can be a specimen tank for tiger lotus, though it sounds like it's more of a pond plant...I should
have read before buying.
https://pethelpful.com/fish-aquariums/red-tiger-lotus-in-an-aquarium [https://usercontent1.hubstatic.com/8162950_f1024.jpg]
How to Plant a Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea Zenkeri) in an Aquarium<https://pethelpful.com/fish-aquariums/red-tiger-lotus-in-an-aquarium>
Some people prefer to grow these beautiful plants in ponds instead of aquariums because of their growth rate. But the difficulties of planting a red tiger lotus in an aquarium are easy to overcome.
If anyone can identify the other plants in the photos, the green tall one, the grassy one, and the floating one, I would appreciate it. ;-)
<Do see our previous email. I gave you my ID input there. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

What is this?        12/16/18
Hi Crew!
You guys are my “go to” peeps whenever I’m stumped and you always come through!
I happen to notice this little guy climbing my glass and don’t know how he got in there, since I really haven’t added anything to the tank in weeks.
<Mmm; likely came in on live rock... or something solid that you added... like a coral; possibly from live food/s>
But, there he is. (see attached photo). Anyway, if you can’t completely identify it, can you guess if it might be friend or foe?
Thank you for your help!
<Appears to be a young Errantiate Polychaete of some sort/species. Some are widely labeled as bristleworms... I wouldn't panic, nor remove it. Likely will add interest, keep the substrate stirred, aerated.
Bob Fenner>

Impulse buy plants.....Ooops         12/16/18
Hi Bob,       
Neale says your the plant expert. Can you answer some questions about some plants?
<I'll try>
I went to 45 minutes far away plant store to buy some Watersprite. They had so many pretty plants.. i was trying to stick to ones I researched but I let the advice of their plant guy be enough. He said the red tiger lotus does well in his low to medium light tank.
<Mmm; okay. Nymphaea (likely zenkeri)... can/does>
I bought several plants I didn't know anything about due to its such a long drive, I know I should have researched more...but the guy said they would work. I had also bought some at a nearby pet store so now the tank is pretty full.
I was having some algae issues so I am trying to clean it a little more frequently (25% partial water changes), sprinkle the food lighter, and to add a lot of plant life planted into some fluorite that I buried under some of the gravel to hopefully outcompete the algae. Will the red tiger be useful in this purpose, or harmful to growth of my other plants?
<Likely to be fine; though I'd keep it cropped, contained... Not let the leaves reach the surface>
I have some crypts, Anubias, that grassy patch at the front, Bacopa and something that looks similar to Bacopa, and Anubias and java moss, and water sprite. I had the Anubias the longest but it grows so slow, it gets algae.
<Mmm; I'd look into useful algae eaters here. Some Otocinclus perhaps... even shrimps if they'll fit w/ your present livestock plan>
And also, please identify the stringy long stemmed green one floating behind the red tiger lotus? That one has roots and not a bulb. I also added a photo of it from above.
<Mmm; don't see this and there's only the one pic>
And also, what's this one that's floating at the top? I don't think its Bacopa.
<The plant on the left appears to be>
Also, can you identify this little grassy parch thing? It was sold as tissue culture and no name.
<Again; don't see what you're referring to>
I have a strip of LEDs, and then I bought a plant lamp from IKEA. I think they're each about 20-25 watts. I hope the plants will do ok! I did research on low light plants but the one floating at the top, the red tiger lotus, and the tall green floaty thing behind it were my impulse buys.
Store employees keep tanks and told me of their own luck with them.
<Should be fine. A plug for Karen Randall's "Sunken Garden's" book, for brief input re soil, nutrient, CO2... and most common plants, fishes,
invertebrates of use. Bob Fenner>

Re: Impulse buy plants.....Ooops         12/16/18
Sorry, I forgot to attach the other photos for you to id. Here you go.
<201415 appears to be a Hydrocotyle; the other two pix, likely Bacopa and
an Eleocharis. BobF>

Re: Cories keep dying      12/14/18
Good Morning,
<Buenos dias>
So fast with the reply, thank you!!
You've focused in on a few things I did not think are important, and aren't placing much weight on things I've been clinging to. Which is why I have asked the experts!
<Haha, wait, who told you we are experts?>
To put me straight, so to speak. :)
The driftwood: 1 large piece, collected from a local headwater stream (no ag runoff or pollutants).
<Yeah, right... that you know of or that has been reported/documented.>
There are brook trout in this stream (maybe other tiny fish?). The wood was allowed to dry for about 6 weeks, then boiled for 20 min.s. In any event, I'm more than happy to remove all possible problems,
<I do strongly suggest you remove the piece collected locally. It's just too much of an unknown and a likely source of something troublesome. Even if it is not a toxin from runoff/pollutants per se, there could be something else (some tannins maybe) leaching out of it.>
and work from there, so I'll pull it out tonight. There are also a couple of smaller pieces I got from a local aquascaper, vine wood he imported by the crate, and it's used in many tanks by many local keepers.
<If removal of the large local piece doesn't solve the problem, I would remove smaller ones these next.>
Carbon: Great suggestion, I missed that. It will go in tonight.
<Never really hurts and often helps!>
Acclimation: floated sealed bag for 20 min.s, then add small amounts of tank water over 1hr (pour out half of mixed water half way through), then add fish to tank via net
<Nets are terrible (too much risk of injury with them getting stuck/tangled). Personally, I avoid them whenever possible. In my opinion, it's better to scoop them out gently by hand than with a net, or just pour them out with the last little bit of bag water.>
without any store water. But deaths have all occurred after at least 2 days, and now upwards of a week - is that consistent with insufficient acclimation time?
<Based on the technique you described, no, I doubt acclimation was the problem. As for how injury from poor acclimation might manifest in the fish, that can vary greatly.>
I've never found an answer to this.
Store water: not tested, but I believe it has similar pH and hardness to this tank. Regionally, our water is quite similar from one municipality to another (medium hard, well buffered). It's definitely not polar opposites.
Dormant tank: during the week the tank was dormant (before I added the 12 pandas and 2 Apistos), I kept feeding the tank with crushed flake (using the same amount as I had been feeding when it had fish).
Adding too many fish: In my own defence, the tank/filter was still cycled when I added the fish, the cories and Apistos are all very small, and for the bioload, it's a big tank. I haven't been testing daily, but none of the fish (past or current) showed any signs of irritation/stress like gasping, flashing, hiding, pumping gills, and so on.
Vac "as necessary": I keep my tanks pretty clean. Most have sand substrates, which require less maint than gravel. I vac when there is visible detritus in areas with less flow. At any rate, I never go more than
2 weeks between vacs, and "water changes" are constant with the drip through system.
Prime for low ammonia reading: I know this is a 24-48hr band aid, and if the source of ammonia, or lack of processing ability aren't addressed, the problem persists.
Rate of feeding: I'm generally conservative when feeding my tanks, but I have a soft spot (fear spot) for new fish. Cories are such casual feeders, I'm fearful that the 30 second or 2 minute rule won't give enough food.
<Do reduce your feeding. Fish do not need as much food as people tend to think they do. Also, they can go a very long time (we're talking weeks) without any food at all.>
Even with the filter off, some foods don't even settle to the bottom in that time. When I listed all the foods I feed, I should be clear that it's not all at once. One at a time only. For flakes or other dry food, a
smaller-than-medium thumb-and-one-finger pinch is all. For frozen foods, less than half a cube of bloodworm, or maybe a quarter of a portion of mysis. At any rate, I'll fast the tank for 48hrs, dial back the feeding after that, and monitor ammonia carefully.
<I think if you remove the drift wood and add carbon, you will likely see an increase in your Cory survival rate.>
<Good luck! - SaraL>
Re: Cories keep dying      12/14/18

Thanks again, Sara. Driftwood out. Carbon in. No food. I'll keep an eye on things.
<Great. Do start feeding again in a couple of days though. :-)>
Also of note: Like many fish folk, I rarely test except when something is wrong (that I can see or sense). But with this tank, I've been keeping on top of parameters a bit more diligently, given the problems I've had.
<It's always a good idea to test every once in awhile, problems or no problems.>
I mentioned in a prior email that I am seeing trace ammonia. I've had a chance to check other tanks and tap water, and I'm getting a trace reading across the board. Best match for colors is between <0.25ppm for tap and other tanks, and >0.25ppm for the Cory tank. Even my RO/DI is testing at >0ppm. So I'll look into an ammonia removing media for the filter, and continue to use Prime and monitor.
<Sounds like a reasonable plan.>
<Cheers, Sara L>

The advance technology you need to create for Wetwebmedia.com      12/14/18
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<What do you think? B>
<The site could greatly benefit from better layout and coding from back to front. However, how to go about executing the improvement should be researched thoroughly. If it were me, I would hire a professional. This could be costly though, and rates vary greatly. I would definitely “shop around.” The biggest “problem” with the site, as I recall, is the very great size of it - thousands of interconnected pages! It would be great if we could find someone to propose a better way to manage (archive?) old and
infrequently trafficked FAQs pages.
Cheers, Sara>
<Perhaps this is something that you could be paid to do?
Would also like to see WWM made/optimized for mobile. B>
<Oh, I wish I could, but I am so far behind in the tech of this sort of thing. Maybe if I could get training, attend a class or something, I might catch up.
<Always a poss.! B>

Purple Tang eye problem      12/14/18
<Hello there>
I have recently found your site, I have a purple tang who looked in very good health when I bought him. On the second day in my aquarium I notice a singular eye did not look quite right. The issue is now 3 weeks old and his eye appears to be in the same condition. It looks as though air is trapped under the lens of his eye. The other eye looks normal but the fish I would say is more reclusive and stressed than if his eye were not suffering.
Please see my photo. Is there anything I can do for this <This is a physical trauma caused by the fish hitting something (likely rocks/decorations); or by some tankmate nipping at it, please see/read the
following link and the related ones: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/popeyetrauma.htm
Cheers. Wil. >
Re: Purple Tang eye problem      12/14/18

Thank you for the reply, I have studied the thread you linked and from my understanding the best course of action is likely to do nothing as it seems most like the physical trauma to the vascular network that Bob commented on 12/27/06 with regard to Holocentrid. Is this correct?
<Yes, as Bob stated.>
Should I dose Epsom salt and if so what is your recommended dose rate?
<Just maintain good water quality and be patient, as complete recovery may take several weeks.>
<Cheers. Wil.>
Re: Purple Tang eye problem       12/14/18

Thanks Wil,
<Glad to help >
I´ll maintain water quality and hope for a full recovery.
<Good. Please keep us posted>

Re: Betta -- near-complete color loss        12/13/18
Hello Neale, Bob, and everyone,
<Hello Steve,>
Thank you so much again for your kind assistance.
Sadly, little Milo died while we were away getting the water tested professionally. The aquarium shop's only comments were that they found trace ammonia and that "everything else looks good."
<Good to hear. I'm old school about ammonia, and treat any non-zero level as potentially dangerous. Yes, the toxicity of ammonia varies with pH, so at acidic pH levels it's supposedly less dangerous. But still, if there's any ammonia detected above whatever levels in your tap water (neutralised by commercial water conditioners) then there's evidently a lag between the ammonia produced by your fish and the filter's removal of that ammonia via nitrification.>
Toxins worry me, too, and with further online searching I'm thinking I caused Milo's illness and death, and that of the Betta before him, by making the water much, much too hard. In trying to prevent a pH crash it seems I kept KH and GH extremely high over a long time, although pH remained about 7.8-8.0... water so hard that it must have been toxic to the poor little Bettas?
<Possibly. No real problems up to about 15-20 degrees dH, but above that, probably not a good idea.>
If this makes sense and seems reasonable as a cause, I'll feel confident to replace everything in the tank and start again after cycling, perhaps now able to give another Betta a happy and this time *safe* home.
<Definitely worth a shot, yes.>
Again, many thanks,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Extremely high ammonia during cycling; now Holey/Lava Rock use, FW         12/13/18
Thank you again! As it turns out I was looking at some very nice Texas hole-y rock this past weekend and wondering if it would work in this tank.
<Of course it tends to raise pH and hardness, but not particularly rapidly, and in alkaline brackish water, any effect will be minimal, perhaps even desirable.>
I will definitely go back to the store and get some. You may be right about the source for this rock - although the packaging is very deceptive in that case ("natural lava rock"). Dang. I will also see if I can
source some actual real lava rock from a rock shop or some such.
<I'm not 100% sure, but I guess a little time online might help determine where the lava rock sold for barbecues and aquaria comes from. True volcanic rocks should be sold under their geological names -- basalt, granite, pumice, etc.>
I'll let you know how things turn out!
<Cool. Good luck! Neale.>

Goldfish Bubbles-Scales        12/13/18
My goldfish summer in a 100+ gal ornamental pond, and winter in a 55 gal aquarium.
I have 4 fish about 4" long body.
In Oct. I brought them in - one was bloated and had several clear bubbles on each side the size of a small pea. The bubbles could be a puffed out scale - hard to tell.
He did not get better, so I isolated him in a 5 gal bucket and added 1/8 tablespoon of Epsom salt.
Anything else i can do?
Thanks! Scot
<At this juncture, no... best to keep up water quality by frequent partial water changes (a couple times weekly), with pre-stored water. The bubbles?
Perhaps Emphysematosis, gas-bubble disease... environmental. Do use the search tool on WWM to read a bit about. Bob Fenner>

Lowering pH for acclimation; commercial        12/13/18
Dear Bob,
<Hey Branko>
We have used vinegar to lower pH so far. It worked fairly well however recently we have created acclimation system where we plan to keep fish for observation for first week before releasing them into holding system that's dosed up with medication.
We used our same old practice of reducing pH with vinegar on the whole system rather than reducing in acclimation tanks and simply release the fish straight into the system and let pH go up on its on over next few hours.
<? I would NOT do this. Vinegar/CH3COOH has other properties, potential side effects. I WOULD only use it (or hydrochloric/muriatic acid, CO2... DURING acclimation, flushing any acid/s out ahead of placement of the livestock in your tanks>
This worked wonders in first few days and we lowered fish loss to below 1% (after doa), however when bacterial bloom sets that's where problems with insufficient oxygen appear and fish begin to suffocate.
<Aye, yes>
This lead us to consider changing to something else rather than using vinegar which causes bacterial bloom.
We need to lower pH in our system from 8.1-8.3 to 6.3-6.6 I have read up our old E-mails and have seen us mentioning CO2 and diluted HCl.
<Oh! Yes>
Would you recon these two methods would be better and would not cause a bacterial bloom afterwards in the same system setup we used vinegar in?
<Likely so; yes; though AGAIN, I would NOT add them to your tanks. ONLY in whatever system/tubs... you're using for initial acclimation>
Would pumping all that CO2 required to lower pH to desired level still be safe for the fish?
What concentration of HCl should be used and does it have any side effects like bacterial bloom or other danger to fish if used in our system as planned?
<Please BE CAREFUL here; inorganic acids are "quicker" and often MORE concentrated than organics like vinegars. You NEED to practice, PRE-mixing a quantity of known concentration (I'd get 3 molar... aka Muriatic... pool acid and CAREFULLY measure and CAREFULLY mix (acid to water) a given quantity TO YOUR ACCLIMATION WATER that is premixed, AND after an hour or so, MEASURE the pH of the solution for use in dripping. ADJUST IT before use, NOT during>
We have 8% and 30% available at chemical stores.
What would the correct dose be for each of the mentioned methods per liter/gallon of water?
<USE the lower concentration (the 8%), the correct dose determination is a function of the alkalinity of your source water, the salt/s you're using.... BEST BY FAR to experiment as stated above; MEASURE the pre-mixed water volume (Mark it on the tank), AND MEASURE the amount/s of acid you're adding to lower the pH of the mixing/acclimation water; and ALWAYS measure pH of the solution before actual use>
Looking forward to your response.
Kind regards,
<PLEASE be careful Branko. Splashed concentrate acids are dangerous... Bob Fenner>

Extremely high ammonia during cycling      12/12/18
Hello Crew! Hope you all are doing very well.
<All good.>
Got a brackish nitrogen cycle question for you. I have recently set up a 5 gallon biotope aquarium for some Opae ula shrimp. There is a tall tower of lava rock (held together with aquarium silicone glue) to provide a hypogeal environment. There is also additional lava rock mixed with some reef "dry live rock" pieces in the rest of the tank. Specific gravity is at about 1.010.
First evening after filling the tank, I added a few (very few!) flakes of fish food to begin cycling. After 24 hours I tested for ammonia using an API Ammonia test kit, and the result came back at 8 ppm! Since 8 ppm is as high as the test goes, the ammonia level is anywhere from 8 ppm to who knows what. No way this came from those teeny flakes!
<Possibly not. Hard to say without knowing how much protein was in the flake and how much water (actual, not nominal) is in your 5 gallon tank.>
So, the ammonia could only come from one of three places: my tap water, the salt mix, or the rocks. I tested my tap water after treating with Prime water treatment, and it came back at between 0.25 and 0.50 ppm ammonia, likely from the chloramine. Then I mixed in some of the marine salt mix and retested - came back the same as the tap water.
<Indeed, as should be the case.>
I still had some lava rocks left over so I put a few in some fresh water and let them soak a few hours and then tested. Yep, it was the lava rocks.
<Yikes! I'm not a huge fan of lava rock, which not only affects water quality in this case, but more regularly, affects pH and water colouration too. It's vaguely acidic in many cases, causing pH to drop, and the minerals contained can stain the water reddish brown.>
After 48 hours the ammonia level was still high and beginning to look a little cloudy, so I did a 2 gallon water change.
<Correct action here.>
At this point I'm assuming it will be continue to cycle the tank as usual, am I correct? Or are these levels too high even for cycling? I'm also guessing I will need to do a fairly large water change after the cycle
completes as there will likely be pretty high nitrate levels.
<Yeah, but if there's no livestock in this system, the ammonia spike shouldn't do any lasting harm. If the shrimps are there, and have survived, wow!!!>
At any rate this was a good lesson to learn - don't just throw new rocks into an established aquarium! Even if you have tested for carbonates, you never know what might be lurking in there.
<Sage advice.>
Thanks for your input on this!
<And thank you for sharing. Neale.>
Re: Extremely high ammonia during cycling      12/12/18

No, definitely no livestock in here yet. Just doing the cycling.
The reason for using the lava rocks is because I am trying to recreate a biotope. In the case of Halocaridina rubra (Opae ula) this is definitely lava, with a sprinkling of carbonate rocks. I did a lot of research on scholar.google.com on the Hawaiian anchialine pools - fascinating stuff!
The lava rocks I purchased are not *exactly *the same as the lava where they occur, but it is as close as I can get.
<I am fairly sure the "lava rock" traded is a byproduct of glass making or some other industrial process, rather than actual pumice stone.>
Based on your comments about these rocks changing the pH, I will give this tank an extended cycle period. Once the nitrogen cycle has completed I will continue to monitor the pH and other parameters, while keeping the cycle "fed" with the use of flake foods. If there is a trend toward acidification, I will remove some of the lava rocks and replace them with some limestone and/or dry live rock to help keep things buffered.
<I do think Tufa rock, or Texas hole-y rock, might be better.>
I'll see how things trend before adding any live creatures. Hopefully things will tend to stabilize as whatever soluble materials are in the rock get leached out.
Thanks again!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Re: Betta -- near-complete color loss      12/12/18
Dear Bob and WWM Crew,
Thank you for the quick reply and for all the info.
<Certainly welcome Steve>
1. The tank -- actually 7 1/2 gallon capacity -- has always been heated with two 25-watt Eheim/Jaeger heaters. Temp. has been measured with 2 different thermometers (just in case!) and measures 80-82 degrees F depending which thermometer is accurate. Before illness it was 78-80 degrees. Forgot to mention, when we noticed Milo was ailing we started aquarium salt @ 0.10 ppm.
<I see; and would remove the salt through regular water changes>
2. The tank is unfiltered. We were worried that the filter current would be stressful because we found it tough to get a filter with low enough flow to be gentle for the Betta's fins. We will start a small Fluval
hang-on-back filter immediately, that we already have.
3. Should we add activated charcoal now, or continue with the Praziquantel? Believing optimistically that the Prazi or something will help little Milo will pull through. By the way, mis-type earlier, it's Prazi Pond Plus and the dose used is 9.5 mg/gallon.
<I'd start now and skip the Prazi... only effective for worm/vermes complaints; and I greatly discount that these are at play here. Again, where's the vector?>
4. Water tests are API droplet test kits. We will take a sample to a local reef store -- the nearest shop serious about fishkeeping -- today, ask them to test, and report back.
<Thank you>
5. Only decoration is an aquarium-specific silk plant which I'll remove at once. Bottom is aquarium gravel, about 1/2 inch. Live plants are small Anubias and some kind of aquatic ferns, 3-4 total, bought packaged commercially and individually from local pet store, treated with KMnO4,
<Ahh; a fave! Olde timey, but very effective if not a bit harsh oxidation wise>
then rinsed before introduction. Nothing else in tank except heaters, thermometer, and an airstone we put in when Milo became ill.
Thank you very much again. Here's hoping the answers above address everything. Please do re-confirm whether to go ahead and add charcoal now... just want to be sure we understand, as this will remove the
Praziquantel; but if your recommendation is charcoal instead of Prazi, thank you and that's what we'll do!
<Yes to the carbon (not charcoal..., see WWM if you don't know the diff.) and no to the Prazi>
Steve C. (Milo's adoptive dad)
<And you, BobF>

Betta -- near-complete color loss /Neale       12/12/18
<<BobF far more expert here than me, but would wonder if a toxin might be to blame here. Bettas are very sensitive to airborne toxins for obvious reasons, including paint fumes, solvents, etc. Cheers, Neale.>>

Re: Cyano control       12/12/18
Thanks, Bob.
So, am I clear on your recommendation: Use Seachem's Marine Buffer to increase the pH of the water I use when I do a water change -- thus, raising my pH slowly.
<Yes; mix it in with your pre-made and stored change out/new water>
Actually, from the research I've done IO salt does not mix at 8.3 but more like 7.9. I will begin dosing Polyp Lab ONE tonight. It simplifies the 2-part approach by having all key elements (dKH, Calcium and Mg) in one. I think the Brightwell 2-part I have been using does not include Mg -- thus, no coralline algae for me :(
Also, I will review my light schedule per your comments.
My best,
<Cheers! BobF>

Corydoras Keep Dying      12/12/18
Good Morning!
Long time reader, first time writer. :)
I have a 40 gallon breeder that can't seem to keep cories alive. I've lost small batches of sterbai (5) and bronze (6), and now I'm afraid I'm going down the same road with pandas (started with 12, down to 10). Other fish seem unaffected, and a common symptom appears to be air/gas in intestines.
Am I missing something?
<Likely, so...>
The tank:
40 gallon breeder, 36" x 18" footprint, black blasting sand substrate (well rinsed), temp was at 79-80 for the sterbai/bronze, close to 76-77 for the pandas.
I have a cascade 700 canister filter and 2 sponge filters.
Livestock at this time includes the 10 pandas and 2 Apisto borellii (1-1.5"). Nothing else.
Some hardy plants, a few driftwoods, and some IAL and oak leaves.
<Whence came the pieces of driftwood? If purchased, are you quite sure these are "aquarium safe?" Many sold for reptiles are not safe for aquariums. If acquired from the great outdoors, how did you cure/prep the pieces? At this point in your story, I suspect the driftwood, but I will read on...>
Started the tank in mid Sept, with half a dozen small pentazona barbs.
Cycled tank with media from another filter.
On Halloween, I added 5x 1" sterbai cories. The following Friday (2 days later), in the afternoon, 2 were floating upside down, then 2 more shortly after. Those 4 died within hours, 1 survived.
<Yikes! Something is seriously wrong here. How did you introduce them to the system? Did you acclimate them to the new water conditions? Did you test the water from the pet fish shop?>
I know everyone reaches for sbd in situations like this, but I autopsied 3 of the dead fish,
and the intestines were full of air.
<Well, yeah! There is this thing that happens after an organism dies. The resident bacteria have a blitz and produce gases as they ravenously digest their now deceased host. It will happen to you too some day, and to me.>
Some food (not much), but intestines were full like those long balloons clowns make shapes from. No other symptoms.
<...that you could see or recognize with the "naked eye.">
Granted, they're small fish, and seeing anything can be hard.
<If you intend to continue filleting your deceased pet fish, I highly recommend investing in a good microscope. Much to be seen can't be seen without one.>
The lone survivor (which also had buoyancy issues, but never to the point of floating/dying) was quarantined for 4-5 days (no meds, since no diagnosis),
<A good policy>
and seemed to stabilize. But 3d after being returned to the main tank, it also died,
and again it appeared full of air. I should note that the autopsies were done shortly after death, and all of the sick fish were very buoyant before they died
<This can happen for any number of reasons. It is a very non-specific symptom - a sure indicator of poor fish health, but with a lengthy differential diagnosis.>
(i.e. I don't believe the gas in intestines was a post-mortem symptom).
<Impossible to know for sure either way.>
Through all this, the pentazonas were fine. Ammo/nitrite were 0, nitrates were 5-10.
On Nov 6 I added half doz bronze cories (I admit to getting them as coal mine canaries; clearly this tank can support fish, but can it support cories?). All 6 died one by one over a 2-3 week period. No outward
symptoms (well, except dying). Frustrating. And they had started off so well in my tank, foraging deep in the sand, very active. These did not float when they died.
Through all this the pentazonas were fine. Again, parameters good.
I rehomed the pentazonas to a new office tank, and the tank stayed empty for about a week.
Then on Dec 4 I got a dozen 0.75-1" panda cories, added them, along with a M/F Apisto borellii.
<That is a lot of fish to add all at once.>
They seem to be great tank mates, same pace, feeding rate, temperament etc.
All has been good until last night (Dec 11), when 1 was floating (air in intestines again), and another this am (didn't check). As of Sunday when I did a whack of testing, parameters generally good; ammonia was over zero,
<Yeah mate, I think you added too much too quickly to a "dormant" system.>
but under 0.25 (I've been feeding liberally, though, so that might be it.
<Yes, that too will do it. I would stop feeding for a few days at least.>
I dosed with Prime, haven't re-checked yet), zero nitrites, nitrates under 20.
<Prime is a one-time "band-aid" type fix. It binds the nitrogen cycle products so that these get taken up in the filter. If you don't keep adding it, the problem will return unless corrected some other way.>
Other pertinent:
I feed good quality food, and lots of variety. Thawed bloodworm, mysis shrimplets, bbs. Crushed Spirulina flake, regular community flake, Hikari mini wafers, Fluval bug bites.
<Maybe too much though?>
My tap water is moderately hard, so I have been mixing the water for this tank with RO/DI at about 3:2 (RO: tap). That's giving me dGH of 5-6 (100ppm), and dKH of ~4 (~75ppm). My pH remains around 7.5 (hard to tell, since it always appears to lie right between the high end of the normal pH test, and the low end of the high range pH test).
I'm using a perpetual drip and overflow to keep new water running through tank, rate of about 1.5g new water per day. And I vac as necessary.
<As necessary? How often is that?>
In summary:
Why do mid level fish appear to remain healthy and fine, while bottom dwelling cories are dying?
<Very different species have very different sensitivities, ability to tolerate physical and/or physiological insults. I suspect the problem here to be either trauma from transport/introduction or a toxin coming from
somewhere as of yet unknown. Do see other similar recent queries here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/CoryDisF4.htm >
Are there any diseases/infections/conditions that are known to cause gas in the intestines as a primary symptom, i.e. not post-mortem?
<Again, floating and bloating is just too common a symptom - like headaches and nausea in humans - could be from anything!>
Any suggested interventions? Shelled peas? Epsom salt in tank, or as bath?
<Do read other query answers in the link above. I suggest removing the driftwood, adding carbon, looking for other potential sources of toxins... also be sure to follow good acclimation protocol.>
Many thanks for your time and consideration!
<My pleasure.>
<Cheers Sara L>
Ontario, Canada

Warty Frog feeding recommendations      12/11/18
<Hey Tim>
I received a very small (1") frogfish on Friday. His belly was flat and he was fishing so two very small, gut loaded guppy fry.
<Good; and I'd add live and in time, not live crustaceans to the menu here>
I know that freshwater feeders and shrimp are not a nutritious food source long term. The eventual plan when he's larger is to feed a mix of grass shrimp and various smaller marine fish such as Chromis and damsels (the later being in the majority due to nutritional needs).
<Mmm; the species (A. maculatus) shown doesn't get very large... see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anglers2.htm and the linked files above>
He is currently far to small to eat any damsel I've come across locally. What is a good alternative to guppy/molly fry that would he suitable for his size and provide adequate nutritional benefit?
<As stated; Artemia, Copepods... even small worms... BEST grown in a tied/plumbed in refugium... living sump, with a DSB, RDP lighting arrangement>
Would giving him to a quality frozen food mix like LRS or Rod's foods be a well rounded option if I could switch him to frozen or would it need to be something "whole" to peak his interest (with help of course)?
<Doubt this Frogfish will take such frozen/defrosted prepared foods. NOT likely at all. For now, need live foods of use. See the citation above...>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Warty Frog feeding recommendations      12/11/18

Excellent. I'll dig into that link and look into culturing some other forms of live foods for him.
<Ah, good... some freshwater crustaceans, insect larvae might work as well... offered w/o scaring the frogfish via a baster or such right near/in front of it>
Thank you for the speedy response!
<Again, welcome. BobF>

Swim bladder problem       12/11/18
I have a problem with a goldfish in my pond �� See he has a swim bladder problem. He has been floating upside down now for a while. He lives in an outdoor pond with other goldfish he is an Oranda goldfish.
<Will make a statement here that "fancy"; okay fancier goldfish (other than comets, Shubunkins...) do have more problems in outdoor ponds>
There are other Oranda goldfish in the pond too and they are doing fine.
This particular goldfish got attacked by birds during the summer. He was rescued quickly. But I worry that he could have gotten a swim bladder problem from that.
<Could be. You may know that fishes (that have gas bladders; some don't) come in two basic formats, physostomous and physoclistous... with openings to the throat/buccal cavity and not. Goldfish do have such an opening and are able to "burp" out extra air. My point is that what folks label as "swim bladder" issues are often "fatty degeneration"... "Roundish" goldfish varieties do have more trouble w/ three dimensional orientation due to their shapes... and higher protein food/s, esp. flake foods are often a major contributor>
He has not eaten anything for many weeks now as it is winter and too cold for him to digest food now.
<Below about 55F folks should give up on feeding pondfish... as foods become hard to process. Have you read Sabrina's expose on floaty, bloaty GF?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm>
So fasting has obviously not helped. I tried an Epsom salt bath for 3 days. This treatment worked for another Oranda I have that had swim bladder problems too. But this treatment has not worked for David, the fish in question.
Now he has developed septicemia in his fins because of his floating upside down. They say that when goldfish with swim bladder problems that do not respond to treatment get this way it might be kinder to let them go. What do you think I ought to do?
<Well, I am on the side of the scale that hates to give up on life; holding out hope for recovery. I myself would likely wait and hope. The Epsom is a good idea... As might be moving the fish into a steady temp. setting like a garaged aquarium w/ filtration. IF you decide to go the euthanasia route, please do read over Neale's piece here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Swim bladder problem

Thank you Bob. I put David down. There is no way I can get an aquarium set up in the house for him. But thank you for your help. I was hoping he would get better, but he just didn’t. Thank you so much Bob.
Camron Buxton
<Welcome Cam. BobF>

Re: I'm back in the hobby! Cyano issue       12/11/18
Hello Bob and Team,
<Howsit Gene?>
I'm fighting Cyano (I think). Tank was established in July 2018. Small tank...45 gallon AIO. Running UV and skimmer.
<Mmm; these last two should help (indirectly) by limiting nutrient availability, raising RedOx, zapping and removing free-floating forms, spores>
Vacuumed the sand bed really well today tanking out the top layer of nasty looking sand. Running Purigen and ChemiPure Elite in two chambers in the back (one in each chamber).
<Good moves>
Nitrates = 0 (using a lousy API kit).
<Mmm; lo dudo>
Phosphates = .021 (using the ultra low Hanna digital meter).
I don't feed heavily and try to run lights at 10K for only 2 hours around noon. Other times running LED blue to show off the corals.
<Mmm; well, you might be better off w/ more light here. Convert the BGA to Greens, other Divisions of algae. Do you have some purposeful algae culture going here? Any room for a sump/refugium, DSB, RDP light set up?>
Fish and corals all seem to be doing well.
Fish = 2 clowns, 3 cardinals, 1 coral beauty, 1 royal gramma, and 1 Rainford goby.
Added a cucumber and conch -- they don't seem to do much.
pH runs about 7.9 with Alk at 7.7
<Yikes; I'd be buffering your new/make up water to boost the pH here... to at least 8.2>
Any additional recommendations are welcome.
PS Bob recommended an additional Rainford Goby -- one of my 2 LFS (ain't this sad) was out and I only buy Rainford's from Biota.
<Okay! Have you reviewed re marine algae control on WWM?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm
and the linked files above? Caution: You can/may sucked into a/the WWM black hole of reading! BobF>
Re: I'm back in the hobby!      12/11/18
Thanks for the prompt reply!
Darn, I'm confused. Some say less light -- you say more.
<Think about this... too little, or low light encourages a different group (Divisions are the equivalent of zoological Phyla) of algae; Blue Greens/aka Cyanobacteria are greatly favored under little light circumstances, whereas Greens prefer bright, long-light days. You WANT to encourage the latter, discourage the former. YES, if there's too much easily available (soluble) nutrient available, little water circulation.... BGA will proliferate under broader conditions including more light>
I've attached a pdf of the light I have. It's a bit old but I can program it within the limits of the LEDs of course.
<This is a very nice fixture. Again, I would leave it on 8-10 hours/day; See/READ on WWM re>
I read the linked article on algae.
<Ah good>
Excellent and really pretty easy to read for the novice (like me).
I loved the statement: "I take exception with most authors on the virtue of one salt mix over, etc...." I completely agree.
I do use Instant Ocean (seems to work for most folks)
<Around the world this brand IS the category killer, used exclusively in some public aquariums, e.g. Georgia>
-- and as you noted, my pH is on the low side.
I've really never had much success raising it and maintaining it (the pH that is :)
<Mmm; well; you could/might use the I.O. reef mix... has more alkalinity; but I'd just blend in some of SeaChem's line in w/ your new/change out water: https://www.seachem.com/marine-buffer.php
I thought regular water changes would do the trick since I think IO salt mix mixes at about 8.3
I do have the Brightwell 2-part additives -- but, so far I've been sloppy about dosing on a regular basis.
Sorry, adding a sump is not an option for my setup. This AIO tank has truly been a challenge for me. I had a 125g with 30g sump in Atlanta -- dang it was easy to maintain. This 45g tank is much more difficult -- as I knew it would be -- especially without a refugium!
<Ah, yes... bigger systems are much easier to keep stable, optimized; and am a HUGE fan of refugium use>
You guys are truly a great resource. I genuinely appreciate your time to coach me along this renewed & new endeavor. I WILL GET THIS RIGHT.....!
PS Oh, BTW, I may have mentioned at some point that I did treat my tank with Boyd's Chemiclean. It worked the first time I used it -- but, the problem returned. I tried it again, but not with the same degree of success. I do not plan to use it again since I think it's only a band-aid and not the solution!
<As you'll find, I am NOT a fan of such "algicide" use... They really don't work unless the conditions that allow/ed pest algae profusion are addressed, and too-often they poison the water, inhabitants indirectly.
Be of good life Gene (Anima bona fac). Bob Fenner>

Betta -- near-complete color loss      12/11/18
Hello, please help with male pet shop Betta, Milo, whom we have had 1 year.
Over about 2-3 weeks he has become lethargic, mostly sitting on bottom and only swimming vigorously a moment or two if disturbed. Not eating for past 5 days. His body color has changed dramatically from purple-blue to very pale, nearly silver or white, with fins still purple-blue as usual.
<Is this fish in a heated, filtered system? This time of year the weather turns colder; and Bettas are tropical fishes. Very common for them to lose color, energy/activity w/ chilling>
There are no visible sores, wounds, external parasites, frayed fins, Ich, Velvet, or any other visible outward marks. We thought it might be old age because although we've had him only a year he was full grown or nearly so when he came home with us. After reading online we treated him empirically with kanamycin and nitrofurazone per package directions for four days. No improvement. Changed water. He's been hanging on quite tenaciously but seems to be breathing fast and/or breathing hard... from desperation we started metronidazole according to package instructions 2 days ago, just in case it might help -- perhaps internal flukes -- no improvement.
He is sole occupant of a 5-gallon heated tank, usually 78-80 degrees F, increased to 80-82 degrees F since he became symptomatic, unfiltered, with plants and gravel. 2/3 tank water change once a week pretty religiously. pH 7.8-8.0, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates about 10 ppm, GH and KH in upper ranges (not zero).
<All these values are good...>
The curious thing is, the previous Betta who died about 4 months before we got Milo, lived with us about 3 years in the sane cycled tank but died after an almost identical course.
<Am wondering now if there is something poisoning this fish... What sort of ornaments are in the tank? Any geodes, odd rocks, driftwood, plastic plants from other than an aquarium-use source?>
We assumed it was old age but with 2 fish in a row, and with how Milo is hanging on stubbornly *and* with labored breathing, can you suggest anything else, please?
<Yes; the use of some activated carbon in the filter you're going to get (likely a small hang on the back or internal power filter); to remove possible toxin/s here>
Time is so critical with these little dudes I'm going to start Praziquantel (Prazi Pond Pro) 5 gm/gallon now in case it's something external we can't see, like gill flukes...
<Mmm; where would the flukes come from? Do you have other fish present?
Feed live foods, use plants you've collected from the wild?>
apparently these can be a bane of Goldfish, which we used to keep. As far as I know there was no contamination with Betta gear but one never knows.
Thank you for anything you can suggest! And thank you for all the great info on WWM.
Kind regards, Milo's family.
<Am so glad for your concern. Please do answer the above questions, have your water tested by your local fish store (to check against your test results, gear). Bob Fenner>

Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)  SW/BR/FW   12/9/18
Hi Neale,
How are you?
<All good.>
I have come across and interesting and seemingly rare puffer for sale. Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca).
<Does turn up very occasionally in the UK trade, mostly at the stores specialising in oddballs; I've seen them at Wildwoods for example. A second variety, known as the Golden Milk Spotted Puffer, is also traded, which may or may not be a regional or colour morph of the same fish.>
I have a tank available in my fish room. I can't find much at all by way of information about this fish?
<Very few people have kept it. I haven't, for a start!>
I saw you made brief reference to this fish in a PFK article.
Do you know much in terms of care requirements?
<Very similar to the standard issue GSP, though potentially much larger, up to 30 cm. Much more peaceful towards its own kind though, but still a fin-biter, so tankmates should be chosen with care. Might work okay in a jumbo reef or FOWLR system alongside suitably punch, fast, and robust fish such as Sergeant Majors and Damselfish that would hide among rocks when resting. Otherwise very undemanding; hardy, euryhaline, eats all the usual meaty foods. Wild fish probably consume a lot of algae, too, so stuffing some Spirulina flake into, say, mussels would be a good way to keep their vitamin levels topped up.>
Also is £140 an OK price?
<About right. It's never cheap, but is very beautiful.>
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
Re: Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)      12/10/18

Thanks Neale that’s really helpful. He’s in freshwater at the moment - what sort of salinity is required and how is best to ease him in to it?
<Oh, they're nominally marine fish, but completely euryhaline coastal fish, meaning move in and out of freshwater and saltwater habitats all the time. Juveniles are common in estuaries, and adults seem to be all over the place, from the freshwater part of estuaries all the way to offshore reefs. Good water quality and an alkaline pH are probably more important than the precise salinity. I'd probably keep a youngster around 1.003-1.005, aiming for 1.010 upwards by the time it's above, say, 8-10 cm.>
Could I keep him with. GSPs or figure 8s whilst he is small?
<Definitely worth a shot, and similarly, adults might be tried with the less aggressive Arothron spp. All the limited accounts of this species in captivity seem to agree with the general idea it's non-aggressive, just nippy. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)      12/10/18

Thank you .
<Most welcome.>
If they are constantly moving between freshwater - could I have a go at keeping it in freshwater- or is that not worth the risk?
<Short term, probably fine. I mean, I've kept Arothron hispidus juveniles in hard freshwater -- but that's another story! Regardless, if you're forking out £100+ for a fish, you'd not be wanting to take too much of a gamble! I'd certainly keep the pH and hardness high, and ensure good water quality. Probably better to add even a little salt, to start with. 1.003 would be ample for juveniles, and easily tolerated by brackish water tolerant plants. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)      12/10/18

Thanks - sorry last question - how best can I introduce salt without killing my filter bacteria?
<In stages! From freshwater to 1.003 there'll be no noticeable effect.

There on upwards, do small changes, wait a couple of weeks, do the odd nitrite or ammonia test, and act accordingly. Since these puffers are euryhaline, you may choose to grow the fish onto subadult size in low-end brackish, then simply convert the tank to marine -- complete with skimmer and live rock -- on a Sunday afternoon, the puffer sitting in a large, securely covered bucket until you're reading to acclimate it to full marine conditions. The live rock will bring in the entirely new batch of bacteria required for filtration, as per setting up a reef or FOWLR system. Klaus Ebert of Aqualog fame says you can chuck euryhaline brackish fish into marine conditions instantly, but I'm a little kinder, and suggest plain vanilla drip acclimation across, say, an hour. Either way, these fish can, do experience such things in the wild when the tide turns. Cheers, Neale.> 

I'm back in the hobby! Query re stocking, mixing sand gobies      12/9/18
<And ladies...>
It's been a long time for me - but, I'm back in the hobby in a much
<Ahh! Welcome back to the fold>
Used to follow threads on your website faithfully.
I have a 45g AIO tank with a Rainford Goby. He's cute and active - but really can't keep up with the sand sifting that needs to be done.
Question: Would it be wise to add a Golden Head Goby - or would there likely be too much territorial fighting? I realize each tank (fish) is different - but, in general is this a bad idea?
<They'd likely get along fine, but if it were me, mine in such a size, shape system, I'd go with either two Rainford's or two Golden Head gobies. More interesting behaviorally.>
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: I'm back in the hobby!     12/9/18

Thank you so much. That seems like a wise recommendation. I’ll get another Rainford.
<Cheers Gene. BobF>

Musk turtle      12/8/18
Hi, I wonder if you can help me please? We have a musk turtle hatchling and we have got to go away for a day and a half.
I have no one to turn the UVB light and the heat light on would it be better for me to leave them both on?
<Leaving them both off would fine for a few days, assuming the house doesn't get freezing cold. Alternatively, an inexpensive timer at the mains socket end of the lamp's power cable can be used to switch such things on and off without problems.>
Thank you
<Most welcome. Neale.>

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Marine Aquarium Articles and FAQs Master Index

  • Set-Up 1: Types of Systems:, Gear/Components:, Set-Up, Tanks, Stands, Covers:, Water, Seawater, Substrates, DSBs, Electricity, Heating/Chilling, Aquascaping, Biotopes, Travelogues.
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