FAQs on Freshwater Diseases 5
Related Articles: Freshwater Diseases, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Choose Your
Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options
by Neale Monks
FAQs on Freshwater Disease: Freshwater
Disease 1, Freshwater Disease 2,
Freshwater Disease 3, FW Disease 4, FW Disease 6,
FW Disease ,
FW Disease , FW Disease , FW Disease ,
FAQs on Freshwater Disease by Category:
Genetic, Pathogenic (plus see Infectious and Parasitic categories
Related FAQs: Toxic
Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish Parasites, Ich/White Spot Disease, Worm Diseases, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease,
African spotted leaf fish; "lock-jaw"
Hi I have had my fish for about three weeks now and it seems like he
overextended his top lip and can not retract it back. He wasn't eating
when it happened so I'm not sure how it happened. I also have another
African spotted leaf fish that I have had him for 4 months and he is
doing excellent. If you can help me with how I can fix his mouth or what
I can do that would be great.
<Mmm, such "stuck open mouths" on these fish and others are most often
due to physical traumas (overextensions, or getting "something" stuck in
them)... perhaps more allowed by nutritional deficiency over time. You
can try, make that could try rearticulating the jaw mechanism with a
dull wood toothpick, or a Q-tip with the cotton removed; but there is a
risk of further injury. A few folks that have written to us over the
years have had success doing this op. w/ their goldfish... You might
find relief in reading their accounts, searched on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: African spotted leaf fish 11/12/13
Thank you so much this is very helpful. I tried looking on the website
for it but I didn't know what kind of keywords to put in. I will check
Thank you again
<Ah good; and I've asked Neale to respond independently. BobF>
Plea for help/advice concerning Black Phantom Tetras with
kinked spines (RMF, any ideas?) <Agree w/ your sugg. of poss. causes...
Hello and thank you for reading my email.
My name is Rachel and I have a 45 gallon planted freshwater aquarium. I
treat the water with Prime and nothing else.
My ammonia and nitrIte levels read 0 and nitrAte reads between 10 and 20
before each 25% weekly water change/partial gravel siphoning. The pH is
and the temp is maintained at 78F.
<All sounds fine.>
The GH and KH are both around 120 due to the source water being
<But likely not a problem with most community fish. Avoid the really
fussy species like Cardinals and you shouldn't have a problem.>
The tank has been running about 6 months without obvious issue until
about 1 month ago. All current inhabitants have been there for at least
I've written earlier regarding the deaths of my 7 Corydoras paleatus and
now I just please specifically need advice about my remaining
Hyphessobrycon megalopterus, now 5 female and 3 male.
<Hyphessobrycon megalopterus is not a fussy species, and can do well in
even fairly hard water, 2-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8.>
Roughly a week ago I noticed one female Black Phantom Tetra being
harassed by a male and the next day I noticed the beginnings of
"z" shaped kinks in her caudal spine area that appeared to get worse
over the next few days.
<I see. Now, sometimes farmed fish come with bent spines already because
of genetics, and there's nothing you can do about that. Often the fish
are fine, but wouldn't make good breeding stock for obvious reasons! But
as pets, there's nothing wrong with keeping them, and some might say
they add character to the tank! On the other hand, if the fish had
normal spines when you bought them, but months later their spines
started going crooked, that's less likely to be genes. The reasons for
spine damage or deformity are multiple, with possibilities including
poor diet/lack of vitamins; exposure to certain toxins; physical damage
(typically when big or active fish are kept in too-small tanks); and
certain infections including Mycobacteria. Telling which of these is the
cause is difficult, so the best approach is to consider them all, and
She was still feeding, swimming normally, schooling and whatnot. A male,
not the dominant male, then came down with the same symptom of a kinked
spine. I euthanized both after spending hours reading about TB, Neon
Tetra Disease and False Neon Tetra Disease., I now wish I had just
<Possibly, but if you suspect Mycobacteria infections, then cure isn't
likely, and you may as well minimise the risk of further infection of
your healthy fish.>
A few days ago another male developed a kink in his spine but was
otherwise acting normally, he's now in my 10 gallon quarantine, and
today I came home to a previously seemingly asymptomatic female dead on
the filter. The kinks in my isolated male and the two previous fish
are/were only obvious when the fish is/was viewed from above. At first I
thought that the kinked areas of the fish were also paler but it really
just seems to look different because the body is now bent and not smooth
like the others. The only other tank inhabitants are 9 ghost shrimp and
a handful of freshwater snails that came in with the live plants. I'm
perplexed about what I'm facing with these fish.
<So am I. Normally, when a bunch of different fish become sick and die,
you suspect the aquarium is wrong, and check things like water quality,
water chemistry, circulation, etc. But if only one species becomes sick,
then you have the added possibility of a species-specific pathogen
or problem. That said, if Black Phantoms are more sensitive to
environmental (aquarium) problems than the other fish, then the fact
it's only them getting sick isn't a surprise. Confused? I am! That's the
problem here. My gut feeling is that you're dealing with a combination
of low-quality livestock and an opportunistic Mycobacterial infection,
so I'd tend to do nothing more than optimising living conditions (see
above re: diet, water circulation, etc.) and seeing what happens. There
are some species (Neons, Guppies, Dwarf Gouramis and Ram Cichlids) that
are so unreliable nowadays I simply don't recommend them. While Black
Phantoms are usually considered good fish, quality may be less good than
in the past, so if they all die off, then just don't buy them again (or
at least, not from the same retailer).>
Some source of stress must be bringing this on but the water parameters
haven't changed. I know it must seem blatantly obvious to some but I've
just become confused because, honestly, the only symptom I see are the
kinked spines and I've read info about so many diseases, none of which
fit their symptoms exactly. I've successfully kept Harlequin Rasboras,
Corydoras, Otocinclus and Lemon Tetras in the same tank for years back
when I had tanks in my early 20's.
<Black Phantoms are comparable to Lemon Tetras and Otocinclus in terms
of demands and if anything a little less fussy re: water chemistry and
quality; so if you could keep those species, then Black Phantoms should
I'd hate to think that I'm not seeing something else that's out of the
ordinary with these Black Phantoms. I do feed mostly TertraMin Tropical
Crisps (it had the highest protein content from what was currently
<Not necessarily a plus. I do recommend a mix of foods. A good quality
flake is a fine staple, but try adding some micro pellets (the Hikari
ones are great) or if you can't get those, try smashing up larger
cichlids pellets, especially quality brands like Hikari Cichlid Gold (a
very economical approach this!). Raid the kitchen periodically, for
things like cooked peas, seafood, even hard boiled egg yolks. The more
variety, the less risk of vitamin deficiency.>
small meals twice a day, occasional thawed out frozen bloodworms and on
rare occasion thawed out brine shrimp.
<Some folks are leery of bloodworms given their source, but brine
shrimps should be 100% safe because of they way they're reared.>
I fast them one day a week and have fed peas once when the Corydoras
were acting abnormally after a bloodworm feeding and water change. I
would really like to get additional fish at some point since this is a
larger tank but not if I can't get to the bottom of what's ailing the
tetras and if it is TB or Neon Tetra Disease I don't know what I'll do.
To be fair, the Black Phantom Tetras and their previous Peppered
Corydoras tank mates did come from a big box fish store so that may be
my whole problem.
<Quite so. I'd probably avoid buying from any store that didn't
specialise in tropical fish or at least exotic pets.>
I'm now willing to drive hours to buy from a reputable live fish store
if my tank is salvageable or suitable for whatever type of fish that
wouldn't be adversely effected by the current contaminants.
<Local/city aquarium clubs can be extremely good places to start your
search, so perhaps a trip in such a direction would help.>
I also promise to stock it with hardwater loving fish this time.
<Hmm... less of an issue than you'd think. Penguin, X-Ray and Emperor
Tetras will all do perfectly well in hard water, as will Cherry Barbs,
even though all would "prefer" soft/acid water. Relatively few fish are
harmed by hard water, even if they won't breed in it. But yes, there are
some species to avoid, like Cardinals. But basically, the aim is to get
good quality, healthy livestock and ensure optimal water quality rather
than to worry about water chemistry too much.>
If I do have to tear down the tank to sanitize, will I be able to
reintroduce the Ghost Shrimp after they've lived in the quarantine tank
for the time being or would that be a bad idea?
<I don't think sterilising the tank will achieve anything at all.>
Is there any way to sterilize plants and driftwood?
<Not really, no. Mycobacteria, Aeromonas, Pseudomonas and other
"problem" bacteria are latent in most/all aquaria, so sterilising an
aquarium isn't going to prevent them coming back the moment you add new
livestock and plants. Just as with bacteria in our human world, healthy
people don't have anything to worry about -- it's when the fish are
stressed or damaged that these latent bacteria cause problems. It's no
coincidence that these genera of bacteria *also* cause many human health
problems where people have been injured, weakened, starved, etc.>
Have I missed articles about such things here? I'll look again. Either
way, I'll do what's best, I just hate to get the tank somewhat
established only to have to start from scratch again. I truly admire the
work out into this site and appreciate the time your team dedicates to
helping helpless and seemingly hapless tank enthusiasts like myself.
Thank you for your time,
<And thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Plea for help/advice concerning Black Phantom Tetras with kinked
spines (RMF, any ideas?)<<>> 10/27/13
Thank you so much for your advice and support.
There haven't been anymore sudden casualties since I wrote but I did
euthanize the one male in quarantine and I'm warily watching a couple of
the female Black Phantoms that just seem a little off, slightly
discolored, not as rowdy and robust. I'm more and more convinced that I
probably have a collection of genetically "weaker" fish that are
possibly succumbing to opportunistic bacteria like you suggested, but I
have begun varying up the diet a bit more simply because I can and
should. I did find Hikari micro pellets (yay!), discarded the
bloodworms, added more cooked peas to the rotation and even tried egg
yolk from a boiled egg yesterday. Some, maybe most, of it ended up for
the shrimp but the several tetras that were brave enough to try it
seemed to enjoy it.
<Great. And do remember that some shrimps (especially Cherry Shrimps)
will breed like mad in the right tanks, and their offspring can be
useful live food for many fish, so in the right sort of aquarium you can
have an ecological balance of sorts where uneaten food goes into shrimps
and then (via baby shrimps) into those fussy fish that missed the food
first time round!>
Maybe the trick to feeding new foods is to get them good and hungry
I hate that there are so many horror stories about Mycobacterium
<Yes, but since 99% of the time it's not confirmed merely suspected,
it's hard to know which mystery fish deaths are down to Mycobacteria,
some other pathogen, poor genes, and most likely of all, poor
maintenance. I'd put money on a combination of factors being to blame,
even where Mycobacteria are proven -- in other words, had the fish been
kept better/differently, the Mycobacteria wouldn't have caused any
It's tricky, the dimensions of my 45 gallon are 36" long (91.5 cm), 24"
tall (61cm), and 12" wide (31cm) which means my arm is pretty well
submerged when I'm vacuuming the gravel but as a fortunately healthy
human I suppose a good hand and arm washing should suffice.
<Ah, yes; and do understand that the "Fish TB" stories are very, very
rare, and when they do happen, the bacteria seem to get into open wounds
and sores rather than healthy skin. It's not something I worry about, I
have to confess. Consult with a doctor if you are worried though; I'm
not a doctor (well, not a medical doctor anyway).>
I don't know where I'd find those whole arm gloves, I'll look online.
I'm okay with euthanizing the Black Phantom Tetras with obvious symptoms
for the greater good of the tank. I'm nervous about adding anything else
while they're still around, even if the tetras seem healthy,
<Wise; I would wait 4-6 weeks, at least, after the last fish death
before adding anything new.>
but I also don't want my tank to be so under stocked that my cycle
stalls since I don't think the shrimp and snails put out enough waste to
keep it up. Am I wrong to think it would stall?
<I would not worry about this. Provided you have at least a few fish in
the tank, the filter will tick over nicely. But if all the fish die,
then you can keep the filter healthy by adding quantities of flake or
pellets proportional to a small group of fish every 1-2 days. For sure
there's no fish to eat that food, just the shrimps and snails, but the
filter bacteria don't care whether the food rots directly, passes
through the gut of snail, or is eaten by a fish and excreted as ammonia.
It's all waste to the bacteria!>
I have located a reputable, well-established live fish store that's been
around for decades and has many followers. Even with all the stress and
upset I can't help but get excited about what to get next. I plan on
visiting a few times first to get a feel for what they have and what
might work. I might return with a couple stocking questions if that's
Now, I have a different sort of question about adding iodine to the tank
for the shrimp. I've seen the reef fish foods with iodine content and
I've seen the Kent Marine Iodine as a water additive. Would either be
safe or recommended for a freshwater tank with Ghost Shrimp?
<Safe, yes; necessary, not really. While iodine supplement seems to be
essential for the larger freshwater crustaceans like crayfish, it isn't
so important for little shrimps. Occasional strips of Sushi Nori and
bits of frozen seafood will probably supply more than enough.>
Is the amount of iodine in cooked egg yolk sufficient?
<Could well be.>
I obtained the Ghost Shrimp from a friend that has them breeding nonstop
in his tank so they were all adorably tiny and very young when I got
Four of them became opaque white within the "tail portion" of the body,
I lost two of those but the other two are still around and are
indistinguishable from the other except that they are not clear. I know
they're not old so I can rule out old age as a reason. I haven't yet
been able to locate an answer online as to why this happens but I see
many questions about it and recommendations that iodine is vital for
successful molting. Any advice would be appreciated. I don't even want
to think about parasites or worms but I'll listen if you mention it,
<For sure try it out, but I have a gazillion Cherry Shrimps breeding
away in my kitchen aquarium, and they don't get anything beyond algae
and bits of fish food.>
Thank you again and again for your time and advice. I've begun
recommending Wet Web Media to anyone that will listen. Your help is much
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Sudden fish deaths (RMF, any other ideas?)<<I concur>>
Hi WWM Crew!
I am at a loss at what is happening in my 55G freshwater tank. The
problems started six days ago when I did a water change (~10G) and
up the mulm. The next morning my three female rainbow furcata were dead.
The following day one Sterbai Cory and one mosquito Rasbora died.
day my elderly Betta died. Yesterday I noticed an outbreak of Ich
started treating with API Super Ich Cure and just now one of my two
goldspot gobies died. I used 50% RO water remineralized with
and SeaChem acid/alkaline buffers (1:2 ratio) and freshwater trace.
the other 50% I used tap water which I had treated AquaPlus. I've
testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate every day and get the same
results: ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrate 10ppm. The temperature is
the pH 7.2. I have been using primarily RO water remineralized in the
described except for this one time when I didn't have enough RO water
mixed it with tap water. None of the fish who died showed any
illness until their sudden death usually overnight. None of
the fish who
died were 'new' I had them all at least 5-6 months, some nearly a year.
Thanks for your input. Margaret
<My guess would be that something you added to the tank, rather than
anything you removed or disturbed, is the cause of your troubles.
Definitely measure water chemistry in the tank, and use that to ensure
new water you add is fairly close to the current water chemistry. If no
more fish have died in the last 24 hours, I'd tend to do nothing more
observe the tank and its inhabitants. If the problem was a sudden water
chemistry change, then better to let things settle down as they are than
try and readjust conditions back to the "optimal" values for your fish.
After a few days, then yes, you could do a series of small, daily water
changes (say, 10%) that slowly change the hardness and pH back to where
they should be. I'd also drop the Whitespot medication and go with the
safer salt/heat method (2 g/l salt + 28-30 degrees C). Some Whitespot/Ick
cures contain copper and/or formalin and these can be more trouble than
they're worth. Hope this helps, Neale.>
instant fish death due to possible environmental conditions
I'm writing in a bit of a shock right now, because just a few hours ago
I lost two of my Polypteridae fishes. One was Polypterus senegalus
albino and the other Polypterus teugelsi, respectively 3 years and a few
months old, 5 and 3 inches long.
Fish died within 30 minutes of one another, few hours after a 1/4 water
<... how was this water treated? Was it stored for any period of time
(days) ahead of use?>
in the 30 gallon planted grow out tank. The first fish just rolled over
in front of my eyes, while I was trying to understand why its behavior
changed suddenly: one second normal, the next moment - chaotic, the
third - dead.
The second fish I actually caught still alive, gasping and darting along
the top and placed him into 55 gallon established tank, to no avail.
Both showed the same symptoms - quick darting movements to the surface
and back and very heavy gasping.
Now both I and the local LFS did water tests and everything looks
<What tests were performed?>
The only abnormality was ammonia result - higher than 0 but under .25. But
I would not expect Polypterus to succumb to it so quickly. I had a tank
near-crash years earlier and, while I was able to save some of the
inhabitants, the large 5 year old P. Senegalus was the only fish that
did not show any discomfort!
To add to my confusion, I changed water today in the other 3 tanks as
well and see no problems anywhere else.
<CALL your water supplier (number on your bills); and ask if/what
they've been pulsing into the supply. Could be (very common) a
hyper-dose of sanitizer (chloramine)... That municipalities will
overdose if/when they find either the titer is too low distal in their
system of distribution and/or that there is bacteria present. Did/does
the water have a smell? Are the folks at the water plant using a
surfactant, a flocculent...?>
The affected tank had the Eheim 2213 canister filter out for about 4
weeks (but with weekly water changes, thick plant growth and no fish
except for 2 little bichirs, I was not worried, foolishly), as well as
heater (I don't use AC and so the water temperature right now in mid to
upper 80-s, heaters are off in all 4 tanks right now).
<High/er temperature is also a factor here. Less oxygen, higher
metabolism... But, as you likely know, Polypterids are facultative
aerial respirators: they can/do come to the surface to gulp air to
Substrate in the aquarium is a few years old, but in the spring, before
putting polypteruses in I turned it and added some oyster grit.
Could the substrate somehow deteriorate so much and poison the water
without affecting test results?
<Not by itself... again; the prime suspect at this point is your
mains/tap water... UNLESS you've added something else that you've not
mentioned... DO you treat, and/or store your water as per the S.O.P. on
WWM, ahead of water changes? Due to vagaries in tap nowayears I am a
huge fan of this practice>
If so, why would it happen immediately after the water change, when
substrate was not disturbed?
Also, - why are the Ramshorn and trumpet snails are OK?
<They're not as easily mal-affected by the types of poisoning we're
referring to. Their survival is actually a good clue>
But just as well - a 55g planted aquarium is even older and has more
driftwood, and garden soil under gravel, - and all fish there are fine.
<The plants, driftwood... help here>
From your significant experience can you shed the light on what can be
the problem here? At least some guesses?
<As the above; with questions>
The tank will be torn down tomorrow, but I still would like to have a
chance of understanding what could cause such sudden death of usually
very hardy fish!
<Something to do w/ the new water; its treatment (or not); the elevated
<Please do relate your further findings. Bob Fenner>
Re: instant fish death due to possible environmental conditions
Bob, thank you for quick reply!
This gives me a few things to think about.
Now as of answer to your questions:
Water was treated the same way for all 4 tanks (3 regular set ups, and
one hospital tank, that currently holds a single female Convict) - with
API Tap Water Conditioner.
<Mmm, I'd switch to Prime, Amquel, StressCoat...>
Yesterday, as usual, I poured in the dosage of conditioner (i
measure it to amount of water to be added, not to entire tank volume).
Then I stirred the aquarium water lightly - right before adding
<Mmm... again; and to the point. I would NOT do this this (treating new,
to-be-added water) way. You're still exposing your livestock to the
sanitizer/new water AND the conditioner. Better by far to treat the new
water outside the tank, and yet again STORE it for several days (a week
or more ideally). This is gone over HERE:
For the Cory Cats & Minnows & Weather Loaches tank I pre-mixed the dosage
in a gallon jar of tap water and add that to the tank to reduce
scale-less fishes' exposure to chemicals.
<Ahh, much better>
Can you recommend a better way?
<Yes; please read through the cited file above... and the linked files
in the header of the article if there's time/interest>
Given that I have two 55 gallon tanks, a 30 gallon tank and a hospital
10 gallon, storing water ahead of time is hard!
<Mmm, still; a worthwhile routine... The municipalities nowayears
"pulse" in sanitizer at high dosages at times, sometimes flocculants and
other chemicals... Most all this can be rendered safe w/ the SOP
outlined in the article>
At this moment I cannot find information about water services dozing the
tap supply with anything.
I have to call them later to confirm (oh the officials, got to love
<There are good/valid reasons for this/their practices here>
But there is a distinct chlorine (swimming-pool like) smell to tap
<... I would; do use RO for all potable uses (reminds me, I've got to
get up and fix coffee)>
What did you mean by "store your water as per the S.O.P. " ?
<Standard Operating Procedure. Sorry for the lazy acronym/s>
Tests performed on the water:
by me - Ammonia, Nitrate, PH
by LFS - Ammonia, Nitrate, PH, KH, GH, and high PH.
Results on Ammonia and PH were the same between two batches of tests.
PH slightly high (around 8).
<Very high; and trouble with the presence of unionized ammonia in any
How sensitive are the young polypteruses to chlorine? To chloramine?
<To Chlorine, very highly sensitive, a bit less to chloramines>
I was under impression that being facultative air breathers they have
lower sensitivity than, say, Convict cichlids or Minnows.
I have another 2 large bichirs in the driftwood filled 55g aquarium -
they seem fine.
<Smaller specimens are more sensitive than larger... have more gill
surface area per unit volume; less "slime" to resist poisoning. Another
Those two guys are P. senegalus, 10 years old and 10+ inches long and
similarly sized 2 year old P. ansorgei.
Their tank also keeps 6 female Convicts, and an Electric Blue Jack
Dempsey, and is supplied with a larger canister, to handle the bioload.
Can working filter make so much of a difference for overdosed tap water
<Can help a good deal. The "mulm" contained w/in is useful for
BTW. A night after the fish died (and were removed from the tank
immediately!) - the tank water STINKS of rotten fish! I can even smell
it in the next room.
<A further clue...>
Will have to use gas mask tearing the set up down :)
<Some activated carbon in the filter/flow path... Perhaps a unit/bag of
Re: instant fish death due to possible environmental conditions
sorry, missed it in the first email - I don't dose water with anything
except the water conditioner before adding tap. Except for the hospital
10 tank (no issues there) that has Erythromycin to treat the convict
Actually, are there any tests that can be performed on the tap water
prior to water change?
<Of use... yes; there are total and free Cl-- and Chloramine kits...>
|Columnaris or Fungus or Other? Please
Dear Wet Web Media Crew-
1st: I really
appreciate your site, and the help you provide to others in need: Thank you!
Thank you! Thank you! And please know
that I’m coming to you as a last resort, hoping not to have to put-down a
2nd: The stats: I have a 30 gallon long, freshwater tank, with
Fluorite/gravel substrate, bogwood, 3 granite hide-aways, and lots of live
plants with dense growth.
<Looks very nice indeed>
I have an Aquaclear 50, 3 airstones, and an Aquaticlife 2x39 watt light
(which I have on 9 hours a day). I have 3 German Blue rams, 4 Julii Cory
Cats, 2 Platys, 3 Balloon Mollies, 3 Otos, 1 Bushynose Pleco,
<Mmm, well, a comment... the Rams, catfishes really like quite different
water conditions (quality) than the livebearers... warmer, softer, lower pH
versus cooler, harder, and higher pH. Pleasing everyone by trying to present
a "middle-ground" can be done, but no real overlap here>
I feed them a variety of fresh veggies, flake, small ml pellets, algae
wafers, and frozen bloodworms
<I'd dump these. Search WWM re these sewer fly larvae>
and brine shrimp twice a day. My current water stats are: PH 8.2,
<Yikes; high for the first group as mentioned>
Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10, Ammonia 0, my temp is 78/79. I do 30-40% water
changes every 6 days,
and I lightly rinse the filter in the discarded water at the same time.
I also dose plant ferts, and Excel. I have been keeping fish for 1.5
years. Whewww…3rd: The issue: The first fish I ever purchased, a
yellow Balloon Molly, has sadly been my learner fish, and I’ve learned how
to be a good fish keeper, by the things I’ve done wrong to her...nothing
horrific, the usual learning curve, no matter how hard I researched
beforehand. And I feel a strong since <sense> of duty to do right by
her, especially since she’s been with me all along. (And it’s been a
challenge, because she’s kinda ornery, the tank bully.) So, on 4/13/13 I
removed her from the above mentioned tank into a 10 gallon empty QT tank
(with filter and heater), because of her physical appearance. She has
been consistently swimming and eating actively, showing no behavioral
changes at all. No other fish in the display tank is showing any signs
of trouble or stress, still, over a month later. It started with a
white discoloration on top of her head, then one of her fins turned orange,
then a small black dot appeared in the middle of the white discoloration,
this all happened over the course of, maybe, 2 weeks. Truth is, there
had always been the white discoloration, which we figured was slight
scarring from previous environmental factors, (too small a tank) a year
<Likely so; and very common to have these issues with "modern" mollies>
Anyway, the discoloration grew, and so did my concern, so I removed her
from the population into the QT. In addition to adding Epsom, we dosed
the tank with Pimafix
for a week, with no change. Then I dosed Kanaplex for 6 days, with no
change except the addition of orange edges to the white discoloration, and a
gray/darkening outline on her back, around her dorsal fin. On 5/11/13
the Methylene Blue and Furan 2 I ordered online arrived and I started this
treatment. I am giving her 2 baths a day, AM and PM, in a quart
container with the Methylene Blue and Epsom for 30 min, and dosing the QT
tank with Furan 2. I followed the boxes instructions for the Furan,
with 1 packet on day 1 and 2, rest on day 3 with a water change, and 1
packed on day 4 and 5, and today completed this cycle. There is no
improvement. All the while she is swimming fine, eating fine, but of
course now she is very skittish of me approaching the tank and hides behind
the HOB filter. I was thinking it must be Columnaris (which I thought
acted much quicker) or something fungal, but I can’t tell which.
<Mmm, can very likely be "cured" by simple addition of marine/saltwater
synthetic aquarium salt/s. Really; this is more of a marine fish than fresh>
I don’t see any telling hair-like growths out of the white discoloration.
It actually looks hard, not soft and fuzzy, like a humans severely
dry/cracked knuckles. But then there’s the black spot in the middle,
which sits up higher than the discoloration, like a wart, or a tiny snail
sitting on her face. I am including a picture I took of her, taken
from above at feeding time, and also one of the display tank to show that I
am serious about this hobby, and not cutting any corners.
<Very nice images>
In conclusion: I was hoping you could offer a suggestion of what the
problem is: Columnaris, fungal, or other?
<Principally "other"; environmental>
Please offer a treatment strategy, should I be doing something that I’m not?
<The sea salt>
Or how long should I continue what I am doing?
<I wouldn't treat otherwise>
Or confirm the worst, and tell us to put her down. I've only put
down one fish previously, and of course I would rather not have to if there
is hope. But I don’t want to continue her isolation and pain if I it’s not
the right thing to do. Thank you so much, in advance, for your advice
<I do so wish that other folks were as conscientious, concerned and caring
as you. Again, what you're experiencing is quite common; the rule rather
than the exception. Mollienesia are not freshwater fish species by and
large... and almost always have issues when kept in freshwater. This one
(and others) need to be kept in a different system... one that is brackish.
See WWM, the Net... reputable sources like Fishbase.org re. Cheers, Bob
Unknown disease, FW... env.? 4/1/13
In the past of my aquarium history several of my fish have died due to
an unknown disease. I have lost a Banjo cat, Spiny peacock eel, glass
Headstander and 2 albino tiger barbs.
<All these fish species can be easily lost; even the albino version of
The symptoms are: each fish struggles to stay down, as they float to the
top, once they reach the top they float there until they die (however
this time can be several days, they still breath attempt to move and
<? Odd... bacterial? Some overt water quality issue?>
Also in my brackish tank one of my flounders is struggling with the same
problem (although it's not nearly as bad).
<Flatfishes of all species in aquariums are historically very poor
It is not my water for the aquariums as it is treated before I add it.
<? What does this mean?>
However, in both tanks I have cheap bulbs, from the pet store these
include water lilies, onions and some frilly plant called apatongea or
Is there any disease you can link to this?
<Aponogeton likely, and possibly some link... perhaps there is a
chemical being produced, maybe something the plants have been exposed
to... best assessed by testing (bioassay) w/ the plants one at a time in
P.S when I was treating my rainbow fish with Maracyn two, I noticed all
my barbs had difficulty staying down, all recovered in a couple days
except one, the other died in the past.
<... Interesting... does this indicate bacterial/microbial involvement?>
If there is anything you can link to or suggest it would greatly be
P.P.S I got a albino Bristlenose Pleco 3 years ago, he/she is still
about 2 1/2inches and has no bristles at all, do they get bigger or did
I get stiffed and by a dwarf species?
<Might be stunted from local conditions, a female... smaller and much
less bristle-y. Bob Fenner>
Thanks for all your help, Aaron
Re: Unknown disease; asst'd FW fishes
I know nothing about bacterial infections or whatever. What I do know is
that the water I use comes from a private well
<... could be fine or have issues. I would NOT be using any water
source/potable that I didn't have knowledge of its make up from a
and is put under a light that removes bacteria, I've used this for about
13 years with no problems.
<Even well waters can/do change>
Do you know any disease that causes fish to float?
The plants are called apongeton
<... still misspelled>
and I got the pack from bulbs, guaranteed to be pest and disease free.
<I used to import this genus from the Far East... almost always safe in
terms of disease transmission... but again, some aspect... treatment,
decomposition... may have malaffected your water quality>
The Maracyn two was used for treating tail rot and some "popping off"
scales on my rainbow fish. Should I just throw in the towel for
<... up to you>
I have had little luck keeping the few fish I have alive.
If there's anything you could suggest to an aquatic noob, please tell
<To keep reading, maintain an open mind. BobF>
Panda Cory and Neon tetra internal bleeding 10/1/12
Two months ago I upgraded my tank to a 12G Fluval edge (from a 6G) and
modified it to run a Fluval 206 canister filter (media include the
sponges, BioMax, Zeocarb and an API biochem Zorb) and a 5W ViaAqua UV
Sterilizer. I also added a 10W Coralife bulb into the hood (hopefully to
help combat the brown diatoms that build up in the elbow of the spray
bar outlet and in patches on the glass). I used to have a Nerite snail
who did a wonder job cleaning the glass but after an outbreak of snails
I've had to move him to another tank so he wouldn't get eaten when I
introduced the assassin snails to help with the outbreak (but that is
another story). I've left a 5mm gap between the glass at the
surface and the water so the Corys can grab some air. The
substrate is Seachem Fluorite black sand. The plants include
Althernantha reineckii (which I have to keep trimming constantly as it
grows like a weed), Amazon sword, Vallisneria spiralis, Aponogeton
natans, 2 giant Marimo and 15 very small (1.5cm diameter) Marimo. I
follow Seachem's fertilization routine (5 days a week with alternating
iron, macro nutrients, micronutrients, potassium) and have root tabs for
the Amazon sword (which was turning yellow without it). There is a piece
of driftwood that the shrimp and Corys like to hide under. The water
temperature is 77 (which after reading the forums I realize is too warm
and I should turn it down a couple degrees). I have a pressurized CO2
system (only on during the day), but watching the drop checker the
colour (green) indicates that the levels are still be safe for the fish
(at or just under 30 ppm). At night the airstone turns on. The
lights are on for 11 hours. I do a 20-30% water change per week
and try to remove any obvious detritus from the sand or pieces of
exoskeleton from the molting shrimp.
I have 1 ghost shrimp (the others have died at a rate of 1 per month),
two Amano shrimp and three blue jelly shrimp (juveniles) - I originally
added 4 but one died shortly after. There are also two assassin snails
to keep the snail population under control. I used to have 6 neon
tetras (all at least 2cm long) they've been with me since February
(originally in the old tank) and 4 Panda Corys. Now I only have 5 tetras
in the main tank, one of them started to progressively over the course
of a month swell up, looked bloated at first, still schooled and ate
until last week when even the eyes looked like "frog eyes" and it was
starting to show signs of dropsy so I moved it over to the 6G
hospital tank and treating with Furan 2. It is still alive, seems to be
swimming around but refuses to eat, and the swelling has only decreased
a little bit :( It looks like it may have internal bleeding as
there is a faint red-purple patch on its left side.
Today I discovered one of the Panda Cory definitely has internal
It has a bright red patch on its right side which is even more visible
when you look at its belly. This happened overnight, yesterday it looked
and acted fine. It did not come out to eat today with the rest
today and seems to just be laying around on its stomach, not moving
much. I'm not sure, but this may be the same Cory that had buoyancy
problems a couple days ago where it couldn't keep its tail down on the
gravel and would flip over on its back if it wasn't swimming. It
recovered from that overnight and the following day seemed to be fine.
I feed the fish once a day - micro pellets for the neons, a small
sinking wafer and a 1/4 of a Spirulina wafer for the pandas (the largest
panda loves the Spirulina), although the Amano and blue shrimp also
steal parts of the wafers. I also provide on some days shrimp pellets.
The water parameters are: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10-20
(though closer to 10), pH 7.2, Fe 0, chelated Fe 0.25, phosphate 0, KH
50, GH 160, Ca 60, Copper 0. When I test the tap water it has high
copper but after adding AquaPlus to remove the chlorine the copper also
comes back as 0 from the test kit. I am at a loss to
understand what is happening to my fish - the neon and panda Cory both
showing similar signs (though the Cory is not bloated by any means - if
anything looks a bit too skinny). I'm really concerned about the
Cory, should I remove it and put it in the hospital tank with the neon?
or set up its own hospital tank?
From what I've read about these signs with neons, recovery seems
unlikely :( I have a Vortex diatom filter in the closet, never
used since the instructions seems awfully complicated. If there is
a parasite or other in the water would attempting to run this filter
help? Sorry for the rambling tank description but I thought more info on
the set-up would be better than missing a critical detail. Thank you for
your time, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Margaret.
<Sounds like a nice setup. Are you putting new livestock through a
quarantine period before introducing them? Often you can prevent
infecting an entire tank by catching illnesses in quarantine.
Now, as for the problem at hand, you have a situation that needs to be
brought under control. I would lean toward bacterial infection as
a first guess at the cause based on your description. (Unless there is
stringy and segmented feces being excreted--something you did not
mention. that would indicate internal parasites.) At this stage, I
would move all the fishes showing the same symptoms into one quarantine
tank and be prepared to move all the fishes not showing symptoms into a
second quarantine tank. Treat the fishes showing symptoms with an
antibiotic. If that doesn't work, see if you can upload a photo or
two. There are several other possibilities.
Once you understand what is happening, that's when you can think about
treating the fishes that don't show any symptoms.
In parallel, I'd put in totally new filter media and run that UV
Regarding the bloated fish, while pristine water conditions can
sometimes recover a fish with dropsy symptoms, it's rare. Also, be aware
that dropsy is not a disease in and of itself, but a symptom of
something else. In this case, probably still related to whatever else is
going on. - Rick>
Our fish are dying! Help! 8/21/12
Good evening! We searched your website and were unable to find an
appropriate article so we're hoping you can help us with our email. We
have a 15 gal tank, fresh water that's established and been running for
about 6 months now. We do a 25% water change every other week
frequent water tests (always in range). But in the last week we've lost
3 fish (2 female Mickey's and a Zebra Danio) and 1 medium sized ghost
shrimp. The 2 male Mickey's have become reclusive in the last week too.
<Mmm, something... toxic going on in the tank here... from inside or
out... e.g. an ornament, mean tankmate... the tank being sprayed w/ an
ammoniated cleaner, being placed too near a kitty litter box... >
We currently have 3 Zebra Danios, 3 guppies (we can't remember what
kind), 1 ghost shrimp, 1 catfish, 1 male Sunburst wag, and the 2 male
Everyone was happy and social until last week. We noticed that the
female Mickey's suddenly became anti-social and were hiding on the
bottom for a few days before they died. The Zebra Danio appeared fine;
until we found it dead tonight. Two of the guppies have "torn" tail fins
also. We've used CopperSafe twice
<Toxic... should have killed the shrimp outright>
in the last 2 months and use the aquarium salt
<Not a good idea either>
and water conditioner @ water changes and change the filter every 30 days.
We also have a slight abundance of small snails. We had an algae
<?! What type? The common Chinese Algae Eater is a killer... See WWM re>
that grew really fast so we moved him into another tank about 2 weeks ago.
We're at a loss. We hate seeing our fish die. With the exception of the
catfish, shrimp and the algae eater...we brought home all the fish at
the same time. We've had the others for several months now too. Any
<To keep doing the water changes, skip the salt and copper, read re the
CAE (and remove if this is Gyrinocheilus). Bob Fenner>
Multiple freshwater health issues
first of all, I would like to thank you for this invaluable
source of knowledge you are contributing to the readers and your
patience answering the same old questions again and again!
Secondly, I apologize in advance for my English, I´m not a
native speaker though.
<I understand you>
I did research on WWM for many hours over the last weeks, but
although I´m sure that I´m not the only one having
similar tank problems, I didn´t find FAQs exactly matching
my situation and as I´m quite new to the hobby, I´m
Last June, I planned to start my first tropical tank (54l set
complete with lid, heater and filter), read a book, put gravel
and plants in, bought a test kit, waited for 6 weeks until it had
finally cycled (fishless). The first inhabitants were two ADFs
and a few weeks later I started adding 6 more ADFs by and by as
well as 10 cherry shrimps. I kept measuring and did about 25-30%
water changes once a week. Except for the high pH, my readings
were fine (0 nitrites, 0-5 mg nitrates/l, KH 10Â°dH, GH
12Â°dH, pH close to 8, temp. 24Â°C). All went
well for several weeks, and although I never was too much into
fish (might sound strange, but amphibians are my main interest),
I fell for a trio of Betta splendens when I went to a LFS in
November (pink and blue male veiltail plus two wild type
females), and after doing some reading (that´s when I got to
know WWM by the way), I decided that they should do fine with the
frogs given a slightly raised temperature (25-26C). I introduced
the fishes and soon I had to realize that one of the females was
in fact a short finned male. Fortunately, I was able to return
him to the LSF.
In short, the male kept chasing the remaining female all the
Not surprising, I know; but as my tank was densely planted, I
thought it was possible to keep more than one Betta (I was
frantically encouraged by the LFS staff of course).
<Mmm, not unless there is a good deal of room>
Besides the ones preaching to keep Bettas alone, there are still
many resources arguing for a trio, including my book. The main
problem here was my male constantly hurting his own ridiculously
long fins; the female could easily escape him, but was stressed
of course. First the male´s fins were healing pretty fast,
but the more often he got hurt, the longer it took. I didn´t
think much of it though, just tried to keep their water
In December, I was able to set up a 160l tank. I planned on
having a nicely planted tank, a few small fishes and some more
frogs along with the ones from my 54l. The Bettas should stay in
the smaller tank on their own with a divider to prevent further
damage and stress (the male was annoyed at getting body checked
by the frogs anyway).
So I spend a lot of money for smooth sand, plants, roots and a
CO2-unit to promote plant growth as well as getting the pH to a
stable 7.1. I used an Eheim Aquaball filter with some old filter
media, no charcoal. It´s rated for 130l, the water is only
about 30 cm deep. Then I tested the water, waited until the tank
had cycled Since the nitrite peak is over, the readings of this
NO3: <5 mg/l
GH: 12° dH
Feeding: Glassworms, Tubifex, enchytrae, blackworms, daphnia,
brine shrimp, Mysis, earthworms (live or wet frozen). The frogs
are fed with tweezers to avoid the fishes from stealing their
The fishes get different kinds of flake food once or twice a week
instead of the frozen food. I supplement the food with vitamins
once a week.
Cucumber, Spirulina flakes and Pleco tabs for the Otocinclus.
I fast them one or two days per week depending on their
<Also a good practice>
First of all I got a group of six lively, medium sized Corydoras
panda (not for eating leftovers, they´re just too cute). One
week later, I introduced my frogs- that´s when the real
trouble began. I noticed that one of the last ones I bought had a
rather big lump between its hind legs. I did some reading and
found out that Hymenochirus can get tumors, and as there were no
signs of inflammation and the animal´s behavior was normal,
I decided to let him alone monitoring this growth.
The next animals I added to the tank were three Otocinclus sp.
(not for eating those few green algae growing in my tank, I just
happen to like catfishes ;-) Actually I was planning to enlarge
the group as they are schooling fishes, but now I have to get
things under control first) and 11 Danio margaritatus-
that´s when things got worse. I did the big mistake not to
quarantine the new fish, and soon the Corydoras as well as the
Danios started to scrub occasionally. I couldn´t see any
outer signs for fungus, parasites etc. first (i.e. no changes in
coloration, no fluffy growths, nada), but after a few days, I
spotted something like a worm hanging near the pectoral fin of a
Danio, approx. 8mm long and thin. The area were the parasite was
attached to the fish was slightly red. First I thought it was an
anchor worm, so I went to the LFS and talked to the staff. They
sold me something against Gyrodactylus, Dactylogyrus, Cestoda,
Lernaea and fish lice, which I used according to what is said on
the bottle. It was impossible to catch the sick Danio, but
looking on that wormlike thing, I wasn´t sure whether it was
an anchor worm or not, because that thing was twitching and
coiling up just like a real worm (I couldn´t find something
similar online- did you ever hear of that?).
Nonetheless, I started to treat the tank with the medicine
mentioned above and the next day, the worm was gone and no fish
showed signs of a bacterial infection. Just before I did the
second medication recommended for egg laying parasites, I
witnessed the same parasite near the caudal fin of a Danio, but
it also disappeared quickly.
In the meanwhile, the fins of my Betta in the other tank
didn´t seem to heal and instead there was a slight milky
edge, so I treated him for Finrot using JBL Furanol 2.
After a few calm days, I noticed that two other frogs had
developed bumps and I really got concerned. I separated them from
the others and put them in a very small tank (about 3 l).
I assured they were warm enough and changed the water every day
with aged temperated water (my tap water isn't
chlorinated, so I don´t use water conditioner). I
couldn´t find much information on the internet, but to rule
out it was some kind of bacterial infection, I treated them with
Furanol 2- no effect. They were still eating, but the stress of
the daily water changes seemed to take its toll on them and they
got very shy. After about 10 days, the first one was bloated and
stopped eating. In my despair, I called my vet hoping I could at
least save the other two. Unfortunately, there isn´t an
amphibian expert near me, but she also treats Koi and reptiles,
so I gave it a try. She was just as clueless as I was, nothing
was found in a skin scrape under the microscope and she gave me
Baytril against bacterial infections/ bloating hoping for the
best. As dosing is quite difficult in those small animals, I was
told to add it to the water instead of oral application. To put
it short: Two days later the second frog was bloated, they still
weren´t eating and I decided to euthanize them.
The Betta also didn´t cheer me up, his fins were still
ragged and milky, but not getting shorter either (I have to
mention that the water still tested 0 nitrite, I changed about
20% of their water weekly an vacuumed the gravel every two
weeks). So I continued keeping his water clean, hoping the slow
healing was just a sign of old age.
Otherwise he was fine, eating, swimming as usual, although I
thought the hind part of his body were the caudal fin begins (I
don´t know the right term, I´m sorry) was a bit thinner
than when I first got him.
In order to reduce any possible stress factors on the remaining
frogs, I moved the fishes to a cycled 54l hospital tank I finally
got- just to see that two of the Corys had first signs of Finrot
(again, I vacuum the sand twice a month, so I thought I was
providing them a healthy environment). I immediately started
another Furanol 2 treatment. Shortly after, one of the Danios had
a big sore near his caudal fin- it occurred over night, so
I´m not sure if this was also related to bacterial
infections or if he got accidentally clamped when I moved the
decor in the evening. As I didn´t want to risk any spreading
of whatever my problem here is and as the fish couldn´t use
its caudal fin properly, I euthanized it as well.
I monitored the fishes in the hospital tank for three weeks
without further abnormalities. I gave the Danios to someone else
(of course I informed him about the problems I had and that I
don´t want to risk spreading diseases) who wanted to keep
them in their own tank. I hoped reducing livestock would make the
tank more stable.
A few days before I went on holidays for two weeks, another frog
got sick. He had a red swelling inside his throat. Again, I
separated this one from the others and tried to treat him with
another antibacterial, but he also bloated and died while I was
away (a friend of mine was looking after my tanks). When I got
back, the frogs had spawned, but the next one had two bumps on
his skin. This time I decided to do nothing but watch. He is in
that condition since three weeks now. No behavioral changes,
he´s just his curious, greedy little self.
The Corydoras didn´t seem to be happy on the (rounded)
gravel in the hospital tank, so I put them back to the frogs. One
Corydoras has a rather severe case of Finrot with affected
barbels as well (the barbels didn´t melt, but they have
turned gray). He is still active though and the others look ok.
I´m treating the tank with eSHa 2000 since three days, but
it doesn´t seem to help much. This morning, I found one of
my Otocinclus with a red, swollen belly
Unfortunately the male Betta
died in a filter accident, so I cannot tell if he would have
To put this long story to an end, I´m rather confused
what´s going on in my tanks and I would greatly appreciate
any suggestions. Am I stressing them too much?
<Perhaps... but the root cause/s? Do other aquarists using the
same mains water have similar issues? This reads like something
viral was introduced, spread... but across so much disparate
None of the antibacterial medicaments seems to help- again,
I´m not using charcoal. Is the tank under filtered (very
little flow at the bottom which I read yesterday is bad for the
<Can be... I would use carbon in your systems, filter/flow
Did I catch something nasty (like Mycobacteria which are known to
cause granuloma in Xenopus)?
<Could be... such bacteria are almost always present in our
systems... Become pathogenic, hyper-infective in challenging
Thank you so much for reading this long
text! Happy Easter to everyone, Julia
<Am going to place your query in Neale Monk's in-folder...
He's out till Monday; but would like his input here. Bob
|Multiple freshwater health
issues /Neale 4/6/12
first of all, I would like to thank you for this invaluable source
of knowledge you are contributing to the readers and your patience
answering the same old questions again and again!
Secondly, I apologize in advance for my English, I´m not a
native speaker though. I did research on WWM for many hours over
the last weeks, but although I´m sure that I´m not the
only one having similar tank problems, I didn´t find FAQs
exactly matching my situation and as I´m quite new to the
hobby, I´m fairly worried.
<Fire away, and forgive any duplication here with Bob's
Last June, I planned to start my first tropical tank (54 l set
complete with lid, heater and filter),
<A relatively small aquarium, around 13 US gallons, so needs to
be stocked very carefully.>
read a book, put gravel and plants in, bought a test kit, waited
for 6 weeks until it had finally cycled (fishless). The first
inhabitants were two ADFs and a few weeks later I started adding 6
more ADFs by and by as well as 10 cherry shrimps.
<So far, so good. These are very compatible animals.>
I kept measuring and did about 25-30% water changes once a week.
Except for the high pH, my readings were fine (0 nitrites, 0-5 mg
nitrates/l, KH 10Â°dH, GH 12Â°dH, pH close to
8, temp. 24Â°C).
<All sounds fine. Do not worry about the pH; your hardness
levels are fine, and the frogs/shrimps won't care about the pH
All went well for several weeks, and although I never was too much
into fish (might sound strange, but amphibians are my main
interest), I fell for a trio of Betta splendens when I went to a
LFS in November (pink and blue male veiltail plus two wild type
females), and after doing some reading (that´s when I got to
know WWM by the way), I decided that they should do fine with the
frogs given a slightly raised temperature (25-26C).
<Can do okay, but Bettas do sometimes eat shrimps, so
there's a degree of risk.>
I introduced the fishes and soon I had to realize that one of the
females was in fact a short finned male.
Fortunately, I was able to return him to the LFS. In short, the
male kept chasing the remaining female all the time. Not
surprising, I know; but as my tank was densely planted, I thought
it was possible to keep more than one Betta (I was frantically
encouraged by the LFS staff of course).
<It can work. Around about 1985 I had a tropical community tank
about 20 gallons in size that contained two female Bettas and one
male Betta. It worked fine. But often they don't get along, and
it's a good idea to try this out only as an experiment. Be
prepared to move the male or the females out to another aquarium if
Besides the ones preaching to keep Bettas alone, there are still
many resources arguing for a trio, including my book.
<Yes. I do wonder if things were easier 20, 30, 40 years ago.
Have male Bettas become more aggressive? Or the females less able
at living with males? Because fish farms almost NEVER keep the
sexes together, the evolutionary pressure to ensure "good
behaviour" isn't there. So over time, it's possible
they're becoming less and less compatible.>
The main problem here was my male constantly hurting his own
ridiculously long fins; the female could easily escape him, but was
stressed of course. First the male´s fins were healing pretty
fast, but the more often he got hurt, the longer it took.
I didn´t think much of it though, just tried to keep their
water clean. In December, I was able to set up a 160 l tank.
<About 42 US gallons -- should be enough space for all three
Bettas, especially if there are lots of floating plants.>
I planned on having a nicely planted tank, a few small fishes and
some more frogs along with the ones from my 54 l. The Bettas should
stay in the smaller tank on their own with a divider to prevent
further damage and stress (the male was annoyed at getting
body-checked by the frogs anyway). So I spend a lot of money for
smooth sand, plants, roots and a CO2-unit to promote plant growth
as well as getting the pH to a stable 7.1.
<Ah now, do be VERY careful using CO2 to control pH. To be
honest, unless you ABSOLUTELY must have the tastes plant growth, I
wouldn't bother. I'd sooner have slower-growing but
otherwise happy plants in STABLE water chemistry. This would be
easier to maintain, and pose fewer risks to your fish.>
I used an Eheim Aquaball filter with some old filter media, no
charcoal. It´s rated for 130 l, the water is only about 30 cm
<The Aquaball filters are excellent but I find they clog up
quite quickly (specifically, that blue sponge at the top).>
Then I tested the water, waited until the tank had cycled Since the
nitrite peak is over, the readings of this tank are: No2: 0, NO3:
<5 mg/l KH: 10Â°dH GH: 12Â° dH pH: 7.1
Feeding: Glassworms, Tubifex, enchytrae, blackworms, daphnia, brine
shrimp, Mysis, earthworms (live or wet frozen). The frogs are fed
with tweezers to avoid the fishes from stealing their food.
<Again, sounds good. Some aquarists are warning against using
bloodworms and Tubifex, even the frozen ones, so you might want to
be careful with these. Brine shrimp are 100% safe though because of
the environments they come from, so they're a great addition to
a diet otherwise based around flake foods. They provide useful
roughage that prevents bloating.>
The fishes get different kinds of flake food once or twice a week
instead of the frozen food. I supplement the food with vitamins
once a week. Cucumber, Spirulina flakes and Pleco tabs for the
<Excellent. Do watch the Otocinclus. They need LOTS of oxygen,
and in my opinion, aren't idea companions for Bettas.>
I fast them one or two days per week depending on their appearance.
First of all I got a group of six lively, medium sized Corydoras
panda (not for eating leftovers, they´re just too cute).
<Nice fish, but don't keep them too warm! Apart from the
Bettas, everyone here prefers coolish conditions around 22-24
One week later, I introduced my frogs- that´s when the real
trouble began. I noticed that one of the last ones I bought had a
rather big lump between its hind legs. I did some reading and found
out that Hymenochirus can get tumors, and as there were no signs of
inflammation and the animal´s behavior was normal, I decided
to let him alone monitoring this growth. The next animals I added
to the tank were three Otocinclus sp. (not for eating those few
green algae growing in my tank, I just happen to like catfishes ;-)
Actually I was planning to enlarge the group as they are schooling
fishes, but now I have to get things under control first) and 11
Danio margaritatus- that´s when things got worse.
<Ah now, these really do dislike very warm water, so be
I did the big mistake not to quarantine the new fish, and soon the
Corydoras as well as the Danios started to scrub occasionally.
<Would assume Whitespot and/or Velvet. Treat using salt/heat for
2 weeks. Shouldn't stress anyone keeping them at, say, 28 C/82
F for 2 weeks, even though these fish prefer cooler water in the
I couldn´t see any outer signs for fungus, parasites etc.
first (i.e. no changes in coloration, no fluffy growths, nada), but
after a few days, I spotted something like a white worm hanging
near the pectoral fin of a Danio, approx. 8mm long and thin. The
area were the parasite was attached to the fish was slightly
<Whitespot and Velvet can, do cause secondary infections through
the wounds they make. Such infections will be pink or red. Dead
skin and tissue can appear white. Did this fish not have the
"parasite" when you bought it? It would be unusual for a
"louse" or "worm" to suddenly appear overnight.
Not impossible, but unlikely. In any event, treatable, ideally with
a dip of some sort, as anything that kills this sort of parasite
would kill your shrimps.>
First I thought it was an anchor worm, so I went to the LFS and
talked to the staff. They sold me something against Gyrodactylus,
Dactylogyrus, Cestoda, Lernaea and fish lice, which I used
according to what is said on the bottle. It was impossible to catch
the sick Danio, but looking on that wormlike thing, I wasn´t
sure whether it was an anchor worm or not, because that thing was
twitching and coiling up just like a real worm (I couldn´t
find something similar online- did you ever hear of that?).
<Nope. Anchor worms don't move about much, but Nematodes or
Leeches might. If this was me, I'd risk a 50% or 100% seawater
dip (i.e., 15-30 grammes/litre salt/water solution) for a minute or
two. With luck, the parasite might detach. Dip the fish for as long
as you can, though be prepared to remove the fish if it shows signs
of severe distress, like rolling over (it will be pretty unhappy
when you dip it, but for 1-2 minutes even a Danio should be fine).
Failing that, dip into a commercial worm/crustacean
Nonetheless, I started to treat the tank with the medicine
mentioned above and the next day, the worm was gone and no fish
showed signs of a bacterial infection.
<Ah, excellent. Most of these external parasites find it hard to
complete their life cycle in aquaria. In ponds, they have no
problems, but in aquaria, they lack the intermediate hosts (often
snails or birds). So you could take a chance and do nothing for
now, and simply watch for trouble. Anchor worm is an exception
though, and can persist in aquaria.>
Just before I did the second medication recommended for egg laying
parasites, I witnessed the same parasite near the caudal fin of a
Danio, but it also disappeared quickly.
In the meanwhile, the fins of my Betta in the other tank didn´t
seem to heal and instead there was a slight milky edge, so I
treated him for Finrot using JBL Furanol 2. After a few calm days,
I noticed that two other frogs had developed bumps and I really got
concerned. I separated them from the others and put them in a very
small tank (about 3 l). I assured they were warm enough and changed
the water every day with aged temperated water (my tap water isn´t
chlorinated, so I don´t use water conditioner). I couldn´t find
much information on the internet, but to rule out it was some kind
of bacterial infection, I treated them with Furanol 2- no
<Ah, now, the problem with "just in case" treatments
is that not all bacteria can be killed by any one single
medication. Plus, random medicating can cause bigger problems --
e.g., killing off filter bacteria.>
They were still eating, but the stress of the daily water changes
seemed to take its toll on them and they got very shy. After about
10 days, the first one was bloated and stopped eating. In my
despair, I called my vet hoping I could at least save the other
two. Unfortunately, there isn´t an amphibian expert near me, but
she also treats Koi and reptiles, so I gave it a try. She was just
as clueless as I was, nothing was found in a skin scrape under the
microscope and she gave me Baytril against bacterial infections/
bloating hoping for the best.
<Baytril is actually a pretty standard medication for
As dosing is quite difficult in those small animals, I was told to
add it to the water instead of oral application.
<Perhaps, but not in the main tank. I'd isolate the frogs
into their own tank so you can use the medication more economically
and ensure the right concentration.>
To put it short: Two days later the second frog was bloated, they
still weren´t eating and I decided to euthanize them.
The Betta also didn´t cheer me up, his fins were still ragged and
milky, but not getting shorter either (I have to mention that the
water still tested 0 nitrite, I changed about 20% of their water
weekly an vacuumed the gravel every two weeks). So I continued
keeping his water clean, hoping the slow healing was just a sign of
old age. Otherwise he was fine, eating, swimming as usual, although
I thought the hind part of his body were the caudal fin begins (I
don´t know the right term, I´m sorry) was a bit thinner than when
I first got him. In order to reduce any possible stress factors on
the remaining frogs, I moved the fishes to a cycled 54 l hospital
tank I finally got- just to see that two of the Corys had first
signs of Finrot (again, I vacuum the sand twice a month, so I
thought I was providing them a healthy environment).
<Oh dear. Now, one thing I'd do is stop moving fish about.
All you're doing is stressing the fish and possible infecting
each aquarium with the other aquarium's pathogens.>
I immediately started another Furanol 2 treatment. Shortly after,
one of the Danios had a big sore near his caudal fin- it occurred
over night, so I´m not sure if this was also related to bacterial
infections or if he got accidentally clamped when I moved the decor
in the evening. As I didn´t want to risk any spreading of whatever
my problem here is and as the fish couldn´t use its caudal fin
properly, I euthanized it as well. I monitored the fishes in the
hospital tank for three weeks without further abnormalities. I gave
the Danios to someone else (of course I informed him about the
problems I had and that I don´t want to risk spreading diseases)
who wanted to keep them in their own tank. I hoped reducing
livestock would make the tank more stable.
<Will certainly help.>
A few days before I went on holidays for two weeks, another frog
got sick. He had a red swelling inside his throat. Again, I
separated this one from the others and tried to treat him with
another antibacterial, but he also bloated and died while I was
away (a friend of mine was looking after my tanks).
<Do worry that the use of medications might be part of this. ALL
medicines are poisons, so you have to be careful when using
When I got back, the frogs had spawned, but the next one had two
bumps on his skin. This time I decided to do nothing but watch.
He is in that condition since three weeks now. No behavioral
changes, he´s just his curious, greedy little self.
The Corydoras didn´t seem to be happy on the (rounded) gravel in
the hospital tank, so I put them back to the frogs. One Corydoras
has a rather severe case of Finrot with affected barbels as well
(the barbels didn´t melt, but they have turned gray). He is still
active though and the others look ok. I´m treating the tank with
eSHa 2000 since three days, but it doesn´t seem to help much.
<This is a good medicine for Finrot and Finrot, but not much
else. Do remember to remove carbon, and do ensure the aquarium is
as clean as possible (if you can remove rocks, bogwood, etc as
these reduce circulation of the medicine, allowing "bad"
bacteria to survive in the tank). More importantly, optimise
conditions for the fish: adjust temperature and ensure pH is as
steady as possible.>
This morning, I found one of my Otocinclus with a red, swollen
belly Unfortunately the male Betta died in a filter accident, so I
cannot tell if he would have recovered. To put this long story to
an end, I´m rather confused what´s going on in my tanks and I
would greatly appreciate any suggestions. Am I stressing them too
much? None of the antibacterial medicaments seems to help- again,
I´m not using charcoal.
<Most of these medicines are excellent, but they can't work
if the aquarium is somehow unstable. My gut feeling here is that
the CO2 is messing around with the pH -- do understand that pH will
rise during the day (when CO2 is used up) and fall at night (when
plants stop using up CO2) -- and variations in pH can cause severe
stress to your fish. I'd MUCH SOONER have a high but steady pH,
even 8.0, than a pH that bounces between 6.5 and 7.5 across a
Is the tank under filtered (very little flow at the bottom which I
read yesterday is bad for the Corys)?
<The Aquaball is a small filter for small tanks. Even the big
Eheim Aquaball 180 model is, in my opinion, adequate for tanks up
to about 100 litres in size. It has a maximum turnover of 650
litres/hour, so for a 100 litre aquarium that's a turnover rate
of only 6.5 times. By my reckoning, that's quite a
"weak" filter (albeit a very well designed and durable
one). In any event, flow rate drops dramatically once the blue
sponge gets clogged, so I'd recommend having a second filter of
some sort in this aquarium to provide additional water turnover. If
you think the water at the bottom of the tank isn't moving
around much, a second filter will help. Even an airstone could make
all the difference. Yes, Corydoras are VERY sensitive to poor water
movement, and reddish patches on their belly and missing whiskers
are clues that the substrate isn't as clean as it should
Did I catch something nasty (like Mycobacteria which are known to
cause granuloma in Xenopus)?
<Unlikely. Mycobacteria probably exist in ALL aquaria, but
whether they become a problem DEPENDS on how healthy the aquarium
Thank you so much for reading this long text! Happy Easter to
<My gut feelings here: Add a second filter (or at least an
airstone) to move the water at the bottom more, and switch off the
CO2 for a few weeks and see what happens. I think the problems here
are caused by the environment. Fix that, and things should improve.
Do hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Multiple freshwater
health issues, Neale, your input please 4/7/12
Dear Mr. Fenner,
thank you so much for your quick response!
The tap water in my city is said to be very good for use in
aquaria. I have another tank with Chinese firebelly newts and
they're doing perfectly fine- I never heard of someone having
troubles with the tap water here. Do you think I should still use
<I actually do not use such... Keep my water changes to 30-35%
maximum... Have livestock that likes just straight tap>
Neale already sent me an answer too and he thinks my problems are
environmental (I too often rehoused the fish, unstable pH due to
the CO2 etc.). My vet said that the bumps on my frogs reminded her
of Koi pox, so she also thought of a possible viral disease. I
think adding a second filter with carbon wouldn't hurt. I will
try not to further disturb my system and wait.
Again, thank you for your time,
<Welcome. Again, I don't know the primary reasons for the
health issues... but wish I did. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Multiple freshwater health issues (RMF,
Dear Mr. Monks,
wow, that was fast, thank you!
<Glad to help.>
When I talked to retailers, I was often warned of keeping that
species at pH 8- but I do understand that frequent fluctuations
will harm them more.
<Indeed so. Fish don't "feel" pH. A lot of
aquarists (and retailers) focus on pH because it's easy to
understand. It's a simple number. But it isn't terribly
informative. If you stop by a site like Fishbase that collects
scientific information about fish, you'll see that something
like a Corydoras catfish will be reported coming from streams and
rivers with pH values between 6 and 8. That's a big range! But
in any one locality the catfish will be exposed to a much smaller
range of pH values. In other words, the species can tolerate a wide
range, but a particular specimen will do better given a fixed pH
value within that range. Does that make sense? Once adapted to a
given pH, whether 6 or 8, the catfish will be perfectly happy
there, just so long as the pH value doesn't suddenly bounce to
Do you recommend to completely stop the CO2 after reducing it over
a few days?
<Either should be fine, but ideally, across a couple
As soon as animals are concerned, the plants are secondary to me- I
already have many plants that will do without CO2.
<A wise approach.>
As for the Bettas: I left them in the small tank with a divider
because I know that they like warmer temperatures than the others.
I can imagine that the breeding practices altered their aggressive
behavior. Plus, in Asia they are bred for fighting anyway, so
"good behavior" shouldn't be a desired character trait
<Ah yes, but the fish we keep as pets have been bred for their
fins -- not fighting ability -- for a hundred years if not longer.
Remember, German Shepherds and Chihuahuas are both the same
species, the dog, but bred in different ways, and with different
temperaments. Just because a fighting Betta and a
"pretty" aquarium Betta are both Betta splendens
doesn't mean they have all that much in common.>
My female seems to be much more happy since she is kept alone, so I
won't try to keep several Bettas in the same tank again.
I don´t feed bloodworms because they are suspected to promote
dropsy in ADFs by many owners, but you´re right about the Tubifex.
On the package it´s said that they are farm raised, but I could
easily drop them from their diet.
The Otocinclus did fine until this morning, I never noticed any
labored breathing etc.- but I´m really concerned about the swollen
one, he looks worse than in the morning. I hope he´ll make it.
<Wouldn't bank on it. They're not a species I recommend
at all. At a guess, I think fewer than 50% make it 6 months in
You´re right that my random treatment might have caused more harm
than good. I just didn´t know what to do, resources about frog
diseases are quite scarce and I panicked when I realized that more
animals were affected. It´s absolutely possible that the medicine/
stress during the treatment actually killed them.
The eSHa 2000 is the first medicine I use in the main tank (for the
Finrot), and until now the nitrites are still at 0, but I will
monitor that. I did separate the animals that were treated with
Furanol 2 and Baytril, respectively. Do you think I should continue
the treatment for the Corydoras on the photo or should I just give
the system time to settle down?
<Finish the treatment you're on, then don't add anything
new for a week or two.>
I know I have stressed my fish by frequently moving them, but
although I spent much time on reading, this obviously didn´t
prevent me from freaking out. I don´t have much experience after
all, but I´ve learned my lesson and won´t keep disturbing them
that much anymore. Yes, the Aquaball needs a frequent cleaning; I
have to rinse the sponges about every two weeks when the flow is
reduced (I just rinse them in old water from the aquarium, so the
beneficial bacteria don´t die off). I could add a second small
Eheim filter until I can afford something better- do you think that
will do for now?
Bob recommended me to use carbon to remove possible pollutants.
<Wise, but don't expect miracles. Carbon is good for some
organic compounds, but most medicines will break down in a few days
anyway, and inorganic compounds like copper salts won't be
removed by carbon at all.>
I think I could try this as soon as I stop medicating. Also, he
suspects some viral involvement weakening the animals.
<Possible. Hard to say. But because you've had such a random
collection of problems, my gut feeling is the fish are stressed by
their environment.><<Could well be. RMF>>
Either way, I think improving their world by stabilizing the
environment is the only thing I can do to help them.
I thank you so much for your help!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Mrs. misinformed... reactionary rambling re
leaping before looking FW mistakes 1/8/12
Hello, I'm having issues with my main tank and because I'm new
to certain types of fish I've gotten myself into a bit of trouble.
I have 2 tanks... one is a 20 gallon and housed <houses?> just
tetra and guppies. They lived a long time and had <'nt?>
trouble until just recently. I also have a 40 gallon tall. I don't
know all the technical names but I have the filtration system that
filters through your gravel. in this tank I have 2 peacocks which I was
told are OB Peacocks. After reading countless questions on your site I
figure these are the fish you said are a hybrid and don't naturally
occur. Since I'm not sure of the name perhaps a description will
One... which is definitely the male has grown leaps and bounds in a
short time period is orange and blue. He's a beauty... also he has
black spots through his orange fins.. maybe dark blue spots now that I
think of it. The female hasn't hardly grown a bit. She's pale
peach with a small bit or orange coloring. Her tail and fins are still
softly shaped with no long points or anything yet. I know this is the
female because she's carried 3 sets of fry. Which leads me to
problem number one. She has spit her eggs or eaten them the first two
This last time I put her in the tank upstairs in a breeding net with a
live plant *per owner of the fish stores instructions*
<Mmm, really should be "stripped"... at time of
development, release... not continued to be kept or moved with the
this tank upstairs now has two angels that I moved in with the guppies
to protect them from the horrible beatings they were taking in the big
tanks by the peacocks.
So I moved her into her breeding net with 2 neon tetra 2 guppies and 2
different types of angels... oh and a small Plecos. She didn't much
care for her small quarters and spit her eggs. I removed her and let
her stay in that tank to eat and get her strength back before returning
her to the hostile tank. I asked the fish store if I should tumble the
eggs and was told not to tumble cichlid eggs and since they were dark
peach and already cone shaped they were getting tails and would hatch
by themselves.. that I should just lift the container they were in so
the water didn't become stagnant several times a day. Not sure what
happened as it happened while no one was around but the eggs were gone
the next day as were my 2 beautiful blue guppies and one neon tetra was
dead... never found the guppies. Can they die eating the eggs?
<Not likely, no. But pollution from their decomposition...>
I assumed that was all that happened but I knew too the peacock was
probably capable of eating them. I moved her back to her tank *40
gallon tall* and the rest of the fish in the 20 are fine.. leaving 2
angels one tetra and the Plecos. Will my angels eat the neon?
<In time, yes>
Should I restock it with the tetra and guppies to keep the last lone
<What other type of "Tetra" are you talking about. Neons
Moving on to the more serious trouble of tank 2... the 40 gallon tall.
I have a few fake plants and one live.. well what's left of it. The
peacocks ate all live plants
<There are varieties that Aulonocaras can be kept with...>
I've put in. In this tank I currently have a Plecos that's
approx. 8 inches in length.
<Needs more room.>
I have a tin foil that's about 10 inches
in length and the 2 peacocks.
It used to be barbs and the tinfoil... some mollies and guppies... and
an angel. Little did I know as the tinfoil grew it would eat everything
that it could fit into its mouth. Gone were the guppies and mollies so
fast I hadn't time to set up a new tank! Left with the barbs and
angels life in the tank settled. As the tin foil grew so did its
appetite and the barbs became large dinner entrees. I asked the fish
store what to put in there that could hold its own... a few iridescent
came and went *will never buy those again they swim so crazy and knock
themselves out I almost threw them away about 6 times before they
actually really died* btw I had my water checked thousands of times
while this was going on and all was great. Back to the topic. I was
advised to purchase OB peacocks. So I bought a male and a female
brought them home and again life in the tank was alright.... until the
male grew. As he grew so did his attitude. The angel got beat up so bad
she was laying in the rocks *or he.. I haven't a clue*. I put it up
in the mild mannered tank with the tiny fish and the other angel who
got beat up. Its since healed and thrived. So left with the Plecos..
the female peacock and the tinfoil I figured everything would be ok.
Wrong.... the male peacock has attacked and practically descaled my
tinfoil who trumps him in size easily 3 times over. The Plecos rarely
has full sets of fins and recently has had a missing piece of flesh on
<... being killed by being kept in too small a world...>
The tin foil besides being descaled has some meaty bites that all heal
but are happening more frequently. I've already decided the next
time the female is carrying I will make a tank divider and keep her
settled and calm in her own tank... yet away from danger.. but I am
worried about the balance of the remaining fish. I'd like to calm
them all down before she carries and I cut they're tank size down
to even less. I can't imagine what the peacock will do to the tin
foil and Plecos then! Can you please offer advice to fix this tank
<Yes... reading. Borrow, buy some standard works on FW aquarium
keeping, learn to keep good notes and read on the Net re what
you're doing, keeping here. The mistakes you list are all
iatrogenic, borne of your lack of knowledge. If/when you have a more
specific question, feel free to write us again. Bob
Sick fish or still recovering? Both
Greetings from Texas, WWM Crew!
<Salutations from Lautoka, Fiji Lisa!>
I can't tell you how valuable your website has been for me these
past few weeks. I only wish I'd discovered it earlier so I could be
more PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE :-(.
Here are my aquarium stats:
65 gallon tank = newly cycled (5 and a half weeks old today)
ammonia = zero
nitrates = 10 ppm
nitrites = zero (FINALLY!!)
hard water = 300 ppm (that's how it comes out of the tap)
<San Diego's is more than twice this... liquid rock!>
chlorine = zero
alkalinity = 100 ppm
pH = 7.2 most of the time
temp = 81*- 82*
decorations = mostly plastic/resin, except for one piece (5" x
3" x 3") that I think is driftwood. Gravel substrate with
smooth river rocks added in.
I'm new to this aquarium business and, I'm sad to say, got off
to a rough start due to my lack of research prior to establishing my
tank. We started off with 12 fish (which I now know was way too much),
but now we're down to 3. The spiked nitrite part of our cycle
seemed to last FOREVER (2+ weeks at 8.0-10.0!), but as of this morning
they're down to zero. We've also dealt with a round of Ick,
ulcers and no doubt countless other unidentified issues related to fish
stress and way-out-of-whack water quality.
<And the stress of cycling exposure>
After all was said and done, we're left with one tiger barb, one
kissing Gourami and one rainbow shark.
The rainbow shark seems to be doing fine, although now he's a great
deal more aggressive than he used to be. I don't know if it's
because he's no longer sharing his tree trunk with any other fish,
but he won't let either of the other fish near his hidey hole.
<Actually... see WWM... these minnows ARE quite aggressive>
I'm debating about taking him back to my LFS because of it.
He's turning into quite the bully!
The Gourami took a beating and, to be perfectly honest, I'm amazed
that she survived the ordeal. She was covered with Ick and, I'm not
sure, but I think should also had a bout of Velvet. She looked like
she'd been dunked in powdered cheese! She also had eye cloud and
some fin rot (I just woke up one morning to discover that most of her
fins were missing!). On the advice of a relatively knowledgeable
aquarist at my LFS, I did an 8-day round of Melafix with the carbon
filters removed. I've also done 25% water changes every other day
for several weeks and raised the temp of my tank to 81*-82*. She's
finally eating again and most of the "powdered cheese" is
gone, but she just floats at the surface of the tank letting the
current from the filter take her where ever. Her nubby little fins seem
relatively useless against the water and she's having to use her
body to swim anywhere since her fins are nearly gone. I'm wondering
if she's still sick or if this is just a part her recovery
Will her fins grow back?
<Possibly; if not rotted too far back>
The tiger barb is causing me the most worry. She's lost all of her
friends, so I don't know if her behavior is related to loneliness
and stress or what. She pretty much just sits in the corner of the tank
facing the wall.
<Likely interacting w/ its own reflection>
Every once in a while she'll dart madly around the tank, gulping
and "gasping" and twitching. By far the most alarming thing
she does happens during feeding time. I only feed the fish a small
pinch of flakes that I've rubbed between my fingers to make them as
small as possible - I do this once a day in the evenings. She'll
start eating the food as it drops (she doesn't really feed at the
surface the way the Gourami does). Then, a few minutes into the
feeding, she'll flip upside-down and go still.
<Do look into other food (types). Dried foods are problematical as a
standard diet with these fishes>
As she starts floating down her dorsal fin will flare and she'll
"snap out of it" and right herself, only to do it all over
again a few seconds later. Her behavior reminds of someone who's
falling asleep at the wheel, shaking their head to make themselves
alert again. She'll literally shake her head and start swimming
frantically as if to remind herself that she's supposed to be
moving. This goes on for an hour or more, then she seems to recover and
the upside-down thing stops and she goes back to just darting, gulping,
gasping and twitching. It's bizarre! I've also noticed that her
fins seem affected by some sort of fin rot. They're still there,
but they're not stiff. The ends and edges look too willowy (I hope
that makes sense). I've looked at images of tiger barbs on your
site and their fins are stiff. Hers look almost ruffled at the
I guess what I'm really wondering is: are my fish STILL sick?
Or are they still suffering the effects of a rough nitrite cycle and a
bout with fungal infections?
<This in addition>
Is there anything else I need to do to improve their quality of life or
is this the way it's going to be?
<Patience; just time going by at this junction>
And finally, is my water quality safe enough to add more fish now?
<Don't do this! Wait a few weeks at least for the system to
fully cycle, your present fishes to recover>
Or is there likely to still be fungus, parasites, etc. in my water that
would attack any new additions?
I'd really appreciate any guidance you can give me
I've already learned SO MUCH from your website - there are lots of
things that I know now I shouldn't do (like add fish more than a
few at a time) and things that I should do (like add the occasional
cooked/blanched veggies - which I've done. Who knew my rainbow
shark loved peas so much??). I really want to succeed at being a fish
pet lover! I'm eagerly looking for any advice you can give me to
set me on my way. Thanks so much!
Have a Great Day!!
<And you. Bob Fenner>
Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy
Guppy Bloated; Flame tetra Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here?
Your informative excellences~
<Never been called that before!>
Im afraid I may have caused a snail/copepods die off with
(or killed my cycle with TC)
<Shouldn't do, if used correctly, but always a risk with
that caused an ammonia spike and foul water or stressed my fish out
with too many water changes or maybe because I switched from Stress
Coat to Start Right for a couple water changes or did this happen
because my filter overflowed all over the floor into the middle of the
night and left the filter exposed and killed my cycle,
<Yes, drying out the sponges will kill the bacteria. But if the
sponges are damp, the bacteria should survive.>
is it because my water is hard and my PH is high?
So much has happened I just want to move everyone into my new 55 Gallon
but now Im afraid it will be too stressful on them or Ill just transfer
whatever is wrong with my 20 Gallon to my new tank. Please help..I will
welcome all insight..even though I have been scouring your sight for
the "answer" in the hopes that I would not have to make my
ordeal public and suffer the public flogging....I know I have made
mistakes, I now know Tetras thrive in softer water opposed to Guppies,
Mollies, and Platies.
<Yes, and it's quite difficult to keep both together without
problems. There *are* tetras that can live in hard water, but none
appreciate the salty water Mollies do best in, so on the whole, if you
want Mollies, set up a hard water tank for them and other hard water
I know my tank is overstocked with the fry and juveniles which is why I
received the 55 Gallon, but am now hesitant to move everyone or
Ill start at the beginning of my nightmare. Female bi-color(Gray and
Black) guppy birthed a batch of fry on June 26 th , 2011. She developed
a "gouge" on her back ( I imagine from being so pregnant and
not being able to maneuver herself very stealthily and being harassed
by the male Molly and Male Fancy Guppy) prior to birthing,
but it healed with water changes and a little extra Stress Coat. I
think this may have been the entry point for the bacteria that
ultimately caused her demise. On July 11 th (Monday) she began acting
lethargic, hanging at the top and with a slight bend in her body, like
her tail was too heavy, almost like every movement was a chore. Her
appetite had not diminished, but since I've raised this fish I knew
there was something wrong.
<Guppies are not hardy, at least not the fancy Guppies most folks
keep. It's as well to remember that, and treat them carefully.
Indeed, they're often best kept ion a Guppy-only tank, or else with
a few very peaceful tankmates.>
Observing her from beneath and from the side I noticed that the scales
near her anal vent seemed raised, almost as if there was a bulge or
they were "ruffled" like feathers. I realized too late she
was beginning to bloat. She began to show signs of hemorrhagic
septicemia(lethargic, red streaking along lateral line and in fins) as
well as my Kissing Gourami, Albino Corydoras, and Black Skirt/Hi-Fin
Tetra (ripped, bloody tail and visible red lateral line).
<Now, if a bunch of fish show "red" on their fins and
body, Finrot is much more likely the problem, and Finrot almost always
follows water quality problems. So there's a two-step fix here:
undo the water quality problem, and then treat for Finrot. Treating
without fixing the water quality won't work, and when treating, you
need to remove carbon, if used, because that'll remove the
It was harder to see the red streaks on Bi-Color because of her black
coloring. Bi-Colors scales began to raise on her back and tail and
began to be obvious when viewing from above. She was still eating but
had taken to resting on the bottom and breathing heavy(panting).
DROPSY!! I put her in a breeder net and in a panic added Pimafix and
Melafix until I could get better medications. I know it isn't
advised, but she looked so miserable.
<I understand. But really, stepping back and acting slowly is often
I did a 50% water change and she seemed happier and the Albino and
Gourami's streaking went away. I began treatment with Maracyn TC
and as I also noticed that one of my Flame Tetras had developed a dark
spot on his breast. I even administered a few Epsom salt baths to Ms
Bi-Color to try to help with the bloat(there is very conflicting
information on your site as to doses, whether it be for a dip or a bath
or to add to the tank). The fuse blew on the outlet that the power
strip for the filter and lights and heater are plugged in, but as soon
as I noticed(only a few hours at the most) I grabbed an extension cord
and got them plugged into a working outlet. The electrician came out on
Thursday. She was dead on Friday. I did a 25% water change and put new
carbon in the filter to try to get things back to normal and less
stress the healthy fish. On Tuesday(July 19 th ) before I turned the
lights on I observed the Flame Tetra swimming at an angle and in
circles as if he was trying to right himself and then the Fancy Male
two-dot began hiding and losing color near where his tail meets his
body and the bottom 1/4 of his tail and breathing heavy. I did a 25%
water change. On July 21 st (Thursday) the Male Fancy was still hiding
in back but was still eating and would come out and swim around from
time to time. On July 22 nd (Friday) he was still acting lethargic so I
did another 25% water change. He was still acting strange so on Sunday
I did a 50% water change but he was dead on Monday night. On July
28th(Thursday) one of the Molly/Guppy juveniles appeared to have Popeye
and a damaged gill on the same side..almost as if his skin was peeling.
I did a 25% water change and moved my Female Fancy Guppy to my
boyfriends tank to give her a rest from harassment. On July 29 th
(Friday) I found a Molly/Guppy juvenile dead for no apparent reason and
a different Flame Tetra had a mild case of Popeye in one eye but worse
in the other and Female Guppy had suffered quite the tail nip by my
boyfriends Serpae Tetras so I put her back in my tank and did a 25%
water change and added Epsom Salt for the Popeye. The next time I
looked at the tank Female Fancy Guppy was head down in the gravel
resting on a plant...I thought it may have been because of the loss of
the section of her tail fin because she was otherwise fine and when she
saw me resumed swimming normally. The next day(30th, Saturday), the
Tetras eyes were much improved as were the Guppy/Molly, but he had
taken to sitting on the gravel and had developed a white ring around
his eye and his bottom lip was quivering and moving up and down
continuously with white "spots" on them(Columnaris?).
<Yes, certainly possible.>
seemed to have trouble grazing or closing his mouth and wasn't
eating. It seemed to be painful to him. Which I felt warranted a 25%
water change while replacing the Epsom salt I removed and cleaned my
filter. On July 31 st (Sunday) I noticed the other Flame Tetra was
having trouble swimming again before lights on and appeared to have
developed lumps on either side of his head in the same location on both
sides. Where his "ears" would be behind the gills but up on
the lateral line. I did a 25% water change replacing the Epsom Salt I
removed with water change and the Molly/Guppy came out and ate with
everyone else..seemed promising. On Monday(August 1 st ) I awoke to my
tank being 30% empty because the filter overflowed onto the floor and
the Guppy/Molly with the Popeye was dead. I removed the deceased fish
and it was early morning so I refilled the tank with conditioned water
and removed the carbon form the filter so it would fit back in canister
and went back to sleep. When I awoke I realized that my Kissing Gourami
had stopped kissing and was just laying in one corner and the Giant
Danio had stopped swimming..he just hovered in mid-tank and stared and
the Black Kuhlii Loaches(2) were out during the day. Since my filter
had already done the unscheduled water change and I hadn't added
anymore Epsom Salt(Is it harmful to Kuhlii Loaches?) I thought I would
wait to see how everyone was doing in the morning. I was trying so hard
to avoid medications. I was so hoping good water conditions and water
changes would heal all. On August 2 nd (Tuesday), My Chinese Algae
Eater was dead!! Plus the one of the Flame Tetras bumps had become
almost pimple like as if something was protruding out of it. If I
didn't know better I would have thought it was bone, but could have
been fungus. I removed the corpse of the SAE, whom I have had forever
and never shown any signs of illness, and did a 50% water change. Kissy
still wasn't kissing and Hi-Fin Tetra had lost color that night. My
water became cloudy and a white cloudy film had started to develop on
the inside of the glass. I didn't know if it was a bacterial bloom
or if it was algae beginning to form since Kissy and the SAE
weren't doing their job anymore. On August 3 rd (Wednesday) nothing
had changed except another Molly/Guppy juvenile had developed the
"damaged" eye(all black with a white ring around it and
swollen) and gill and I felt with all the illnesses and unexplained
deaths and cloudy water and Female Fancy Guppy looking bloated and
having trouble staying level, with rapidly raising scales, and the
possible Columnaris on the juvenile and sore on the Tetra and Popeye on
the other Flame Tetra, that I had a bacterial problem. At my wits end,
and panicked, I did a 50% water change and added the first dose of
Mardel Maracyn 2(Minocycline) and Jungle's Parasite Clear
Tablets(Metronidazole, Praziquantel, Diflubenzuron, Acriflavine).
Within an hour Kissy had begun kissing again!! Female Guppy ate a some
medicated food(small bits of table shrimp(unthawed) in dissolved
Parasite Clear tablets and water) but was still very bloated and having
trouble keeping herself level and the Flame Tetras pimple had become an
open sore that white was visible in. Later on Wednesday night, I did an
Ammonia test which tested high(Danger 6.0) so I did a 50% water change
being careful to replace the same amount of medications that I had
removed and have ceased feeding. Again, Kissy began kissing again but
Female Fancy Guppy just seemed to get more bloated. Her scales were now
more visibly raised. On Thursday(August 4 th ) I awoke to find her
stuck to the intake of my filter...assuming she had passed away, I used
the net to pull her out but she waddled away and resumed her position
at the top of the tank. I administered the second dose of Maracyn 2 a
few hours later and the Molly/Guppy juvenile with the "eye
injury" seems to be doing better. The white on his bottom lip
seems to have "shrunk". No one else is showing any negative
signs. Later that night Female Fancy excreted a thick, solid, white,
puss like "log" from her anus and it seems to be coming out
of her birth canal as well. Her nipped tail heals more everyday,
however. Her scales are raising more every time I look it seems, so I
gave her a Epsom Salt bath, but I don't think my fish have time for
me to guess anymore..time to swallow my pride and ask for help from the
experts. While in the Epsom bath some of the white substance/feces came
loose and I was able to tweeze it out, and it was quite solid but not
alive. She still has some trailing from her, it is very thick. Could it
be puss from internal bacterial infection or dead rotting fry in her
uterus? Her poop looked normal yesterday and then connected to a white
string, but before it all came loose from her it was attached to an
orange jelly-like substance(like underdeveloped fry or eggs). Kissy is
more active but still not kissing like normal(perhaps bacterial
infection of her mouth?) and the Tetras bump/pimple/sore has lost the
white stuff(which seemed to be drawn out) and is somewhat of a pit. The
bump on the other side of his head is still just a bump(blood filled
perhaps). Today, August 5 th (Friday) everyone seems more active. Even
the Female Fancy Guppy. She seems oblivious to her now even more raised
scales(she is now developing a Mohawk and bubbles are resting in the
spaces in between her scales and her skin the spaces have become so
pronounced). She is still having trouble staying level, but isn't
just hanging at the top. Seems to be easier for her to maneuver her
bloated body, she isn't just floating around aimlessly. I gave her
an Epsom Salt bath(1tsp/Gallon of tank water for 30 minutes) this
morning and added the next dose of Maracyn 2 to the tank. Her tail
continues to heal. Even the injured Guppy/Molly juvenile seems less
"sore". The white stuff in his mouth isn't as swollen.
His lip is still quivering. The Flame Tetras sore seems to be shrinking
and healing. It is simply pink now and both bumps are subsiding. I had
thought about Lateral Line Erosion being a possibility, but are Tetras
afflicted by that?
<Not really, no.>
Is it possible that the physical damage to the Molly/Guppy juveniles
eyes are happening from the siphon tube I use to change water? At least
one of them always ends up in the bucket...I have since banded a guard
on the end so it won't happen anymore. Are they just prone to
illness/weaker because of the inter-breeding of the species?
<So long as the fish isn't physically damaged, being slurped up
a siphon doesn't seem to do any harm. Done this many times
Can I use human Metronidazole?
<In theory, yes.>
I have 500mg tablets I could crush. Is it absolutely horrible that I
used two medications at the same time. I'm not sure which is
helping the most or at all or if the rejuvenation is in direct
correlation to the water changes.
<I would not do this though.>
I just want to be a good mother to the animals in my care. I had really
hoped I could save everyone through better water quality, but I seem to
need more help than that. I feel like an absolute failure and am so
<Don't be. This is fixable.>
Is it ok to move the healthy fish to the new 55 Gallon or will it be to
stressful or will the illnesses just continue in there? Where do I go
from here? I will be implementing a fishless cycle, of course, using
filter media from an established healthy tank to seed the new filter
and the same substrate(after a thorough gravel vac) and plants from the
20 Gallon, unless you advise against it. Im afraid my 20 Gallon will be
a hospital tank for awhile before everyone can enjoy the new digs in
the 55 G. I had planned to run both filters on the 55 Gallon to help
seed new filter but, now the beneficial bacteria in the 20 Gallon
filter will be nuked by the medications, I imagine. So, I'll have
to do some juggling with filter media from my boyfriends tank because
he has two filters running at all times.
<A good approach. Yes, you can transfer live media from one tank to
another. But the risk, of course, is you can transfer diseases too, so
don't put your media in his filter.>
Tank of Death is a 20 Gallon community tank that I also used as a sorts
of snail "holding" tank for my GS Puffer to eat.
<These are brackish water puffers and won't live for long in
As the poor dears won't last five minutes in the Puffer tank. I
haven't added any new snails since March 1 st , 2011. It has been
up since January 4 th , 2011. I did a fishless cycle with a piece of
table shrimp and filter media from existing tank. The last new fish I
added was a Mellini Corydoras on April 15 th , 2011. The residents are
a bunch of rejects of sorts that became too big for my boyfriends tank
or didn't get along with a resident in his tank. It was not a
planned community. He is not the researcher I am. There are some live
plants and some fake plants. I add Stress Coat to tap water at water
changes. I used Start Right for a few in there when I had run out of
Stress Coat and had to use my boyfriends Start Right. I was adding
1drop/10 Gallons of Kent Iodide for Calcium for the snails to thrive
but have not added it since July 17 th . I came across an FAQ where the
poster was advised to remove a decorative shell from the aquarium as it
leeched minerals into the water, and I have a few decorative shells
that should sufficiently provide Calcium for the snails. I also have a
few "caves" constructed out of what I assume to be limestone
tiles, broken up and assembled. It's a pebble substrate with an
18" bubble wand and a bubbler tube that use to have an air stone
on it but, it crumbled away, for aeration and movement. I am still
using the filter that came with the kit(Im sure its inadequate for the
bioload, but it will help in the 55 Gallon). I feed TetraMin Tropical
Flakes, TetraColor Tropical Flakes, Tetra Baby Shrimp(sun dried), Tetra
Bloodworms(freeze dried),and drop in Hikari Algae Wafers for the
Corydoras and Gourami..not all at the same time, but just so you get an
idea of what goes in my tank. Only enough so that it is all gone almost
immediately. I am even careful to watch that what food does sink the
Tetras and Corydoras catch it. I do 25%-50% water changes weekly and
rinse the filter cartridge in old tank water. New water is always
conditioned and as close to temperature of remaining water as possible.
I only have Jungle Quick Dip Test strips for Ammonia and "5 tests
in 1". I have ordered a liquid test kit online. Should I be using
a high range test kit to get more accurate readings?
<These two why your fish are dying.>
<Quite hard. Tetras and Corydoras probably won't be happy here,
no matter what, so I'd return these to the pet store. But Mollies,
Guppies, and other hard water fish should be fine.>
Tap water reads:
<Note this! The ammonia and nitrite are coming from the fish. The
tank is overstocked, overfed, and/or under-filtered.>
<The higher General Hardness in the aquarium water compared to tap
water presumable reflects the Epsom salt usage. Stop with this! Just do
a series of 20% water changes for the next five days, each day, until
the aquarium GH value is approximately that of your tap water. Epsom
salt won't be doing much helpful here.>
I think that is everything...I know you will not be shy about letting
me know about my short comings and where I've made mistakes and
things that need to change so my 55 Gallon will be the heaven I
envision for my li'l buddies. I eagerly await your evaluation and
subsequent advice that will follow.
Thank you in advance~
<Well, Candy, the fixes are these: Remove fish you can't keep
(the ones that need soft water). Return aquarium water chemistry to
normal by stopping with the Epsom salt and additions of any other types
of salt (aquarium salt for example). Remove carbon, if used, so you can
use medications reliably. You're dealing with bacteria infections
caused by stress, likely Finrot and/or Columnaris, so medicate
accordingly. Stop feeding the fish until ammonia and nitrite are ZERO.
Check the filter is set up properly, and adequate for the task at hand.
Sit back and DON'T add any more fish for AT LEAST six weeks after
the last fatality. Buy or borrow a good aquarium book, and read it.
Feel free to write us back if you need more help. Cheers,
Re: Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy Guppy Bloated; Flame
tetra Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here? 8/5/11
I knew you guys were fast, but that's ridiculous...45 minutes is an
amazing response time!! Freaky Fast!!
<Glad to help.>
Thank you so much for the guidance. I just wanted to clarify a few
Am I to stop medicating for the five days I perform the water changes
(Get the water quality back to optimal and then medicate)?
<You can add each day's portion of medication immediately after
each water change. In practise, medicines "fade out" within
24 hours, so provided you wait that long between water changes, the
medicine should do its job.>
Or continue medicating and just add the new dose of medication with the
new water? What type of medication will be most effective here? Should
I finish the Mardel Maracyn 2(Minocycline) course of treatment with the
Parasite Clear or is there something better suited for my situation? I
am 3 days through the five day course for Maracyn 2. Furan 2, perhaps?
<Finish the medication you're on, certainly. Now, Maracyn 1 and
Maracyn 2 treat different sets of bacteria, and sometimes bacteria that
aren't killed by one of these medication gets killed by the other.
So one strategy is to use the two of them, one after the other, as
I removed the carbon from my filter cartridge before I began
administering the Maracyn 2 on August 3rd. Today I pulled the filter
out and rinsed the impeller (I wanted to make sure it wasn't
clogged or had hair wrapped around it or any other obstruction that
would cause diminished performance. Disgusting!
<A good sign that the filter is overwhelmed by the weight/number of
fish in the tank.>
So I hope that helps a little with the Ammonia and Nitrates(lot of
white, hair-like, smelly stuff).
<This slime is bacteria. Not disease bacteria, but decay bacteria,
like you'd find in sewage pipes.>
I have not fed since Wednesday(August 3rd) and have done 2-50% water
changes and a 25% today. So, in theory, any salt ,Epsom or otherwise,
should be just about gone. Should I do more water changes/day, beyond
the 20% prescribed, if I notice the fish are distressed, well, more
than they are now? Like darting or gasping at surface? Or will the 20%
<Yes, if the fish are distressed, you can change up to 50% of the
water at once. Alternatively, and perhaps more safely, you could do
two, three or four 20% water changes per day, each an hour or two
Puffer has his own Brackish tank. He is very vibrant, responsive and
active. All tanks have heaters on them set at around 76 degrees F..I
have removed the Corydoras from the tank as suggested.
<Cool. As it happens, the hardy species, like Corydoras paleatus and
Corydoras aeneus, can do well in "liquid rock" hard water.
But most are pretty unhappy in such conditions.>
I was making things way more complicated. Thanks for simplifying the
solution and not being too harsh!
<You're welcome. And you got me on a good day. Sometimes we do
get a little snappy, I admit!>
IYO, could I have saved myself a lot of misery and fishy lives if I had
completed the Mardel Maracyn TC(Tetracycline) course of treatment in
the first place?
<Impossible to say. I certainly wouldn't worry about this
question. The disease is/was caused by environmental stress,
specifically water quality, likely aggravated by the very hard water
chemistry. Fix this side of the equation, and disease shouldn't be
a major problem again.>
Just for future reference. Hope to hear back from you soon so I can
move forward with any additional suggestions.
Confident things will improve~
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy Guppy Bloated; Flame tetra
Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here? 8/7/11
Hope you are doing well today~
<Not bad, not bad at all.>
Female Fancy Guppy passed away last night(11:27pm CST; RIP Big Mama).
She was on of my first fish when I started with my 5G well over a year
ago now. She lost all ability to level herself and was head down in the
gravel. I imagine that with her bloated abdomen it became too much of a
struggle to balance it out with her tail. It was truly a troubling
site. Her scales were protruding so much that she had to be
uncomfortable and the other fish had started picking off her scales.
Miserable to watch. I secluded her in a breeder box so she could have
some peace, and soon after, she was gone:-(
<Do review euthanasia; 30 drops of clove oil in a litre of aquarium
water, stir well, then dunk the fish in for 10-15 minutes. Will die
I have Erythromycin, which is essentially Maracyn(?), so it's good
to know that if the Maracyn 2 does not clear everything up I am safe to
use the Erythromycin for the Columnaris/Bacterial infection/Fin
rot(Ugh..that sounds horrible!). Can I just start administering the
Erythromycin (Maracyn) or do I have to get the Minocycline (Maracyn 2)
<Erythromycin isn't as useful as it once was'¦ much
bacteria resistance. If you have Minocycline, I'd go with that
If more than one 20% water change/day is necessary should I be
concerned about keeping the level of medication constant, by adding
more, or should I be more concerned with water quality?
<Don't worry about either. As I tried to explain, if you add the
medication at, say, 8 AM, then if you do a water change at 7:55 AM the
next day, the medication will have been "used up" anyway, so
you can go ahead and add another dose for Day 2 after that water
change. Of course, the ideal is to do no water changes while
medicating, but if you have non-zero nitrite and ammonia levels, you
may not have that option.>
My instinct, and perhaps common sense, is telling me to worry more
about water quality since that was the catalyst for this dilemma in the
first place, but I also don't want to render the medication
pointless. Now that Female Fancy Guppy has passed the medication
isn't as urgent of a part of the equation with the other afflicted
members are on the mend.
<Indeed. If all the other fish lack symptoms, so you can assume are
basically healthy, then no, you don't need to medicate, and yes,
you can do water changes and concentrate on fixing water quality
So did I make another fatal mistake by removing the "sewage"
slime from my impeller and motor? Ugh.. Please tell me I did not get
rid of MORE essential, good bacteria!!
<No, the good bacteria are in the filter media (sponges, ceramic
noodles, etc.). Provided these are rinsed carefully you won't
remove the bacteria (squeeze them out in buckets of aquarium water
until they're basically clean, and enough bacteria will remain to
do the job perfectly).>
Today after the water change my Ammonia is still dangerously high(dark
<Not good. Do check your tap water as well, some tap water contains
ammonia. If you have ammonia in your tap water, you'll want to use
a water conditioner that neutralises it (choose a brand that fixes
chlorine, Chloramine, ammonia and copper). Next up, if your tap water
has no ammonia but your aquarium does, then the problem is the number
of fish and/or the amount of feeding and/or lack of adequate
but my Nitrates
<Nitrite or nitrate? They're different.>
are negligible (barely turned the pad color at all). I'll do
another 20% after I send this.
My new 55G is set up and the filters are running. Ammonia is showing up
and a tinge of Nitrates. At this point, with my 20G being so toxic
I'm tempted to put a fish in for some relief and clean water..but
would that be out of the fire and into the frying pan?
<Hmm'¦ I'd be tempted to move all the fish to the 55
gallon, and bolt both filters onto that aquarium if possible. If
nothing else, the same number of fish in an aquarium 2.25 times larger
will mean you will cut your ammonia levels by more than half. A
I am seeding the filters with filter media from a healthy tank, but
understand this can take awhile. I'm also dropping pinches of fish
food in to feed the bacteria in the filter media. Any other suggestion
to speed cycling? I don't want to use anything from my
"sick" tank for fear of spreading the bad bacteria. Anything
from my Brackish tank would be useless because it is different
<Depends on the salinity; from SG 1.000-1.005, you basically have
freshwater filter bacteria, so you could move some media from the
brackish tank if necessary. But may not be necessary.>
What is your experience with the bottled bacteria?
Dr Tim's One and Only or Hagen's/Nutrafin's Cycle or
Bio-Spira? I assume not to rely on these alone, despite what the claims
are, but could they be of some help here to speed things up?
<Yes, they can speed things up, and if your medications have hit the
bacteria badly, then these might help undo some damage.>
Thank you so much for not getting snappy with me. I've seen some
responses from you with ALL CAPS and your blood pressure rising and had
prepared myself for such a reply. I've read so many of your
articles and answers to FAQ's I almost feel like I'm
"speaking" to a celebrity..I'm a bit star-struck to be
Thank you, again, for your time. I bet you are getting sick of me~
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Kissing Gourami stopped kissing; Fancy Guppy Bloated; Flame
tetra Popeye and pimple; Where to go from here? 8/7/11
Good day to you~
Thank you so much for your time!
I was in the process of getting water icy to euthanize, but she was
gone before I was satisfied it was cold enough to do the job quick and
painlessly. Wonderful article on euthanasia. I can't find a
pharmacy that carries clove oil.
<Hmm'¦ do ask for Eugenol instead, it's
"scientific" name. It's widely used for toothache, and
may be sold through health food shops as well as drugstores. If all
else fails, a quick look at Amazon saw it being sold for the princely
sum of $5.00.>
I will finish the Minocycline course.
I meant Nitrates were negligible..My Nitr"i"tes have been 0
through this entire ordeal...its the Nitrites with the "I"
that are deadly, correct?
Even in a small amount. I think my problem is with ammonia. I tested my
tap and it is in the dangerous area... 6.0.
<Yikes! This is most commonly the case in places near agriculture.
Run-off from intensive farming pollutes the water table. But note also
that Chloramine can register as ammonia, a "false positive"
of sorts. As Chloramine it is toxic to the fish in itself, but once you
use dechlorinator not designed for Chloramine, you end up with ammonia
that poisons the fish like "regular" ammonia. As you can see,
there's much value in just ignoring all of this and buying a water
conditioner that tackles everything right out of the bottom, i.e.,
chlorine, Chloramine, ammonia, and copper.>
I regularly use Doc Wellfish Stress Coat and Jungle's Start Right,
both say they remove harmful chemicals, but nothing of ammonia or
copper..just chlorine and Chloramine..actually Stress Coat just says it
removes harmful chemicals and not which ones...I've always used
them without incident. I did order Prime when this problem became
seriously out of hand, however. I have heard good things. Could you
<In the US, a popular brand for this is Ammo-Lock.>
My Brackish tanks salinity is at 1.010 so it's of little use in
helping cycle my freshwater tropical tank, correct?
<Correct. You have more or less saltwater bacteria in there now,
which is neat if you ever decide to set up a reef tank...>
I raised the salinity over weeks and weeks to ensure the correct
bacteria would be present.
Have moved some fish to the 55G(Juveniles that were born in the 20G and
are strong and active and very healthy), but have left "sick"
fish(lethargic, white "mustache", sores, PopEye, etc..) in
the 20G and done water changes as needed. I can't bolt the filter
from the 20G on the 55G quite yet because I still need the bio filter
from that filter on the 20G for the sick fish. I expect a quick
recovery without all of the extra waste products from the extra
bio-load. Could I maybe cut the bio sponge in half and use half in the
20G and half in the 55G to seed the filters on the 55G? Just trying to
get creative and make sure everyone is happy. Any suggestions are
<Sounds like you're doing the right things. Go slow, move
healthy fish to the bigger tank as soon as practical, use water changes
to offset any problems with water quality across the next couple weeks,
and everything should work out. Yes, you can cut sponges in half. A
good thing to remember is that you can remove up to 50% of the mature
media from a working filter without compromising its ability to clean
aquarium water. Any new media you put back in that filter will very
quickly, within days really, be fully colonised, and you shouldn't
see any water quality problems. The live media you removed can seed a
new filter or aquarium, and if you transfer enough live media this way,
i.e., enough to half-fill the recipient filter on the new tank,
you're basically instantly maturing it and can (should!) add some
small, hardy fish to keep the filter bacteria well fed with ammonia.
Anyway, off on my holiday tomorrow for the next week, but hope to hear
good things when I return. Good luck, Neale.>
Treating my Aquarium 6/7/11
First off, Thank-you greatly for such a great website.
<Nice of you to say so!>
Now to the issue: I have a 3-4 inch Black Ghost Knife
(had him for 4+ months now),
<This species needs excellent quality water with plenty of oxygen,
and the water chemistry shouldn't be too hard.>
4 Mollies (all sorts), 4 feeder Guppies,
<Guppies and even more so Mollies need hard, alkaline water.
It's rare for Mollies to do reliably well in community tanks
because their needs are so demanding. On the whole they're best
kept in systems where the addition of a small amount of marine aquarium
salt mix is an option (2-3 grammes per litre is good). Guppies will do
well in such water, as will other livebearers, most Rainbowfish, and a
few other fish species.>
2 baby Angel Fish (black veil-fin & white),
<Let's hope you don't have two males, or you'll likely
have a fight on your hands!>
2 Rainbow Shark
<These may fight in a tank this size.>
and an Algae Eater (not a Pleco).
<I assume Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, an extremely aggressive fish once
sexually mature, and vastly overrated as an algae eater.>
All these fish reside in my 75 Gallon Aquarium (for
now) filtered with a wet dry filter (can't exactly remember exactly
how many gallons of water is cycled per minute/hour but I know when I
had bought the pump it was for a 90 gallon fish aquarium). Today the
Mollies, Guppies and Algae eater are going back into the 10 Gallon (and
some to the pet store). I just realized this morning my Black
Angel Fish has 4 white fuzzy spots on just his fins (Note:
Angelfish and Rainbow Sharks are fairly new, 3 weeks at the most), and
one of the Rainbow sharks "rubbing" on the gravel. I know
what to treat these two fish with, but with the BGK in the tank I
don't want to treat the tank as a whole knowing that some medicines
will harm him/her. I do realize at the moment the tank is a little
crowded with smaller fish, and the BGK is acting fine. Also from what I
can see there isn't anything wrong with him, but what should I do
about these other fish? How should I treat them, put them in the ten
gallon instead to treat or take the BGK out and put him in the ten
gallon for about a week, or until things clear up.
*The tank does have an air pump so lots of oxygen, and I know I
shouldn't have 2 Rainbow Sharks in the same aquarium so the one
that isn't sick goes to my friend with a 35 Gallon*
Please help me any way you can
<If the white patches are merely damage to the fin, so appear like
opaque regions on the clear fin membrane, they may get better by
Antibiotics can also be used safely, so if you suspect Finrot, then
that's the way to go. With Black Ghost Knifefish, and indeed most
other "delicate" fish including loaches, puffers, some
catfish, etc., you don't need to avoid using medicine completely,
but you do need to stay away from Copper and Formalin in particular.
Organic dyes (Methylene blue, malachite green, etc.) are also best
avoided. Plain vanilla salt is, on the other hand, perfectly safe. Do
Outbreak Please Help! :( (Sick Bala Sharks and others;
RMF, anything else?)<<No>>
Hi, I currently have two tanks. One 55 gallon with two platys 4 silver
dollars and 3 Bala sharks (two now),
<This tank is overstocked; at least, it will be once the Silver
Dollars and Bala Sharks are anything above, say, 10 cm/4 inches in
length. Bala Sharks in particular are sensitive fish that don't do
well in small tanks.
Realistically, you need a tank above 100 gallons for these
I also had an albino rainbow in the same tank but have moved him to a
separate 20 gallon due to aggression.
<Not uncommon; while Rainbow Sharks are considerably less aggressive
than Red-Tail Black Sharks, they're still territorial, and can be
very aggressive towards fish that have a similar shape, including Bala
The other tank is a 30 gallon tall with platys, guppies and tetras in
it, it is a bit overcrowded but I am doing weekly partial changes to
keep it operational. All water parameters appear to be ok.
<I do need the actual values rather than your interpretations of
The 55 gallon rose suspicion three days ago when my Bala (he passed
today) developed a white patch from the center of his body to his tail,
his scales seemed to be falling off and there was redness near his tail
and top fin.
<Sounds very much like Finrot. With Bala Sharks this can be caused
by poor environmental quality generally, but physical damage through
jumping into the hood or striking against objects in the tank is a very
I started treating with Maracyn one and two day before yesterday and
now there is one to two white spots on a couple of the fish appears to
Can I treat for Ick while continuing treatment for columnaris or fungus
at the same time?
<In theory, yes; but it does depend on the medication being used. As
a broad piece of advice, using the Salt/Heat method for Whitespot is
the safest approach, and works 100% reliably with Finrot medications.
Once you start using Formalin and Copper-based medications, things
become less predictable.>
The 30 gallon tank was ok (both have been set up for over a year) until
I adopted a neighbors 4 platy's because I felt sorry for their
living conditions. Now one of my mother guppies has white spots on her
mouth tail and has mucusy feces, she appears to be red under the
<Again, a fairly common reaction to poor environmental conditions.
Since Platies require hard water while Bala Sharks need soft water,
it's also impossible to discount water chemistry issues. When
Platies are kept in soft water they are very prone to systemic
bacterial infections of the sort likely causing problems here.>
My tetras seem fine as well as some of the guppies and platy's
while others seem to be wasting.
I only noticed this today and have treated with 2 drops of quick cure
per gallon of water because the tetras are in there I had it sitting
around, I bought more Maracyn one and two today and a new bottle of Ick
cure (Maracide) and am unsure what to do from here as I do not want to
<Over-medicating my well be an issue, but medicating without
determining precisely what the problems are will also lead to
If you can help at all I would greatly appreciate it I love my fishies
a lot and do not want to lose them. I can send pictures if you wish to
see more. I am also going to check parameters again. Please Help
<Do review the needs of ALL your fish species, be objective about
how well your tanks match these requirements, and act accordingly.
Mysterious Deaths (RMF, anything else?)<<Zip>>
I was somehow hoping to report good news - instead, my two neon tetras
that had been showing signs of a little mouth fungus were dead this
morning having moved them to the hospital tank with some
Worst still, in the large tank I took them from, I just found one of
the male guppies lifeless on the bottom, just about alive but his tail
(normally a beautiful orange and yellow) is now showing little colour
almost as if it has been stripped, with lots of shredding in it as if
it was torn.
<Unfortunately, both Neons and Fancy Guppies are low down on the
durability scale. Their wild ancestors were actually pretty tough,
Guppies notoriously so. But inbreeding and free use of antibiotics at
farms means that the quality of what's shipped out to retailers
isn't very high. Bottom line, you will see that I consistently
advise against buying these two species, along with Dwarf Gouramis and,
to a lesser degree, Mollies.>
I have put him into a spare tank with fresh water but I somehow think
he will not survive. Oddly. there is a slight rise in my nitrites (to
about 0.1ppm) so I performed a good 25% water change.
<The nitrite could simply be because of the dead fish decaying, but
keep an open mind.>
The only thing I can think of that I might have done differently is to
feed them on a little bit of blanched cucumber yesterday and used a net
in the tank which had previously been disinfected to get the tetras out
(although I am sure it was absolutely washed over and over along with a
de-chlorinator to eliminate all traces of chemicals as I usually
Could this be something that you recognise?
<Not really. Mycobacteria is one possibility, and Guppies also have
to deal with Tetrahymena, the so-called Guppy Disease. Neons of course
have Pleistophora infections as well as Finrot, Columnaris, etc. I will
make the point that Neons and Guppies require completely different
water chemistry and temperature conditions, so they're unlikely to
do well in the same tank. Neons have a minimal lifespan in hard water,
while Guppies won't last long in soft water or (in the case of
fancy Guppies at least) the coolish temperatures Neons need. When you
don't keep fish in the climates they require, they're far more
likely to succumb to random infections.>
I've never experienced three sudden incidents like this within 12
hours - something must be going on. Ammonia levels 0ppm. You
help/advice is always much appreciated.
<Well, there's not much I can offer here. I'd remove,
euthanise sickly fish pronto, and do my best to remove any other fish
that show signs of sickness. I'd be waiting for things to pan out
under their own steam. Then take stock of what fish have thrived, and
what haven't, and gradually restock accordingly. Among tetras, the
excellent X-Ray Tetra (Pristella maxillaris) is a reliable, hardy
species that thrives in hard water (it even occurs in slightly brackish
waters in the wild!) and makes an outstanding choice for aquarists in
the Southeast of England where the liquid rock is much too hard for
most other South American tetras.>
Re: Mysterious Deaths (RMF, anything else?)
Thank you so much, I shall indeed try restocking with fish more suited
to our hard water.
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwhardness.htm
There are many, many options of good community species for hard water
aquaria, from cichlids like Julidochromis ornatus through to Ender
guppies, Limia, dwarf Rainbowfish, Celebes rainbowfish and more.
Re: Mysterious Deaths (RMF, anything else?)
Funny - I was just reading that article actually. Really interesting
and very happy to see glassfish on the list.
Enjoy your weekend
<Glassfish are indeed neat! Wildwoods in Enfield often gets these
very neat Ambassis agrammus as well as Parambassis spp. Cheers,
Re: Mysterious Deaths (RMF,
anything else?) 3/6/11
Thanks Neale - I will take a visit once the tank has had a few days to
settle but your suggestions look great - I'd love to get more
Platies - they are so lovely - is that wise?
<Platies can be a good choice for community tanks. Like other
Central American livebearers, they prefer hard water, and London tap
suits them very well. Wildwoods regularly carries other oddball
Poeciliids including Limia nigrofasciata -- one of my favourite fishes
-- a fish that combines the size of the Platy with the Sailfin of the
Molly. Nice colours, too.
Other Poeciliids I've seen there in the last few weeks include
Phalloceros caudimaculatus, Limia vittatus, Alfaro cultratus,
Phallichthys amates and others. The nice thing about these rarer
livebearers is that they *still* have the hardiness that made the
livebearer group so popular during the early years of the
I'm guessing all will be fine with my current three flame red
Colisa lalia (cherry dwarf Gourami) who, although being quite
aggressive with each other over territory, appear fine with other fish
albeit the odd chase.
The guppy did die. It looks like he was attacked and his tail badly
nipped poor thing. The other four male guppies are quite lively with
each other and often gang up on just one (currently in 100 litre tank).
I guess there is nothing I can do apart from distract them with females
(I have five, three are heavily pregnant) in another 100 litre tank) -
which I'd rather not whilst they are dealing with their
Fish Flashing 3/2/11
I am back again with another question. A few of my fish are flashing in
a couple different tanks.
<Some such behavior is "natural", to be expected...
sometimes just the difference in water quality in a partial change out
can increase this>
I did recently add new fish to them. At first I thought it was ich, so
I raised the temp, added salt and treated with rid-ich plus for about a
week. I never seen anything on the fish, so I am guessing it wasn't
ich. I hate treating the fish with meds, but I didn't want a
At this time the fish are doing well. They are all eating, but a few
are still flashing. There is no sign of anything on the fish. My tanks
are all 0. ammonia, 0 nitrites and nitrates under 20. Do you have any
idea what it could be, I was thinking maybe fluke, but I would like
your advice on this before I treat with any other meds.
Thank you Crystal
<Unless you can clearly identify a pathogen, I'd leave off w/
medicating. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish Flashing 3/4/11
Last night one of my heaters died. The temp went down to 78%
<Do you mean degrees F.?>
and the fish that was flashing in that tank (4" Clown loach) has
stopped flashing. He is still his normal silly self, but he has not
been flashing today. Could of it been the temp too high for him?
<Mmm, not at 78 up to at least the mid 80's, no>
Should I stop replacing the salt now when I do my water changes? Or
should I continue using it for the next couple weeks or so?
<I would stop the salt>
Thank you for your help, Crystal
<Welcome dear. BobF>
Re: My fish are dying 1/9/11
Nitrite=0, nitrate=10, Ph=8.0, Alkaline=200, Hardness=25-75. Does this
Ph seem too high?
<For some fishes yes... see the Net re the species you keep... their
Changed out about 15% of the water, replaced with water from outside
faucet (not connected to water softener).
I thought I was doing better, but then there were some more fishy
Molly and two more cardinals. Saw more clues, though. Molly developed a
deformed spine, twisted into shape of an "S". Cardinals were
both covered with white hairy fuzz.
<Environmental... the decomposers are secondary>
I didn't see this on them when they were alive, so it could have
formed after their death. The Silver Molly's tail has been rotting
off...I assumed it was "fin rot", but today noticed that the
fuzz is also covering the end of her body where tail was.
Fish store sold me Tetra Lifeguard All in One treatment. Looks like it
cures just about everything.
I am a little concerned though about treating what may not be there. If
it is a fungus, should I use something that is specific to fungus? From
what I can tell, it doesn't look bacterial. Of course, I'm not
much of an expert. if I were, I would have a lot more live fish right
<... Let me try again to be more clear. Your root problem is a poor
mix of species of different needs AND poor water quality>
I put in some aquarium salt
<... dismal. Read here:
they sold me, and put some stuff in to lower the Ph. Will these things
<Not likely; esp. w/o reading, understanding on your part...
I feel like I'm just shotgunning this
<Oh, you are. Assuredly. >
with to many things without being sure any of it is the right thing to
Please help... :-(
<Only you can help yourself. Read where you've been referred to.
Learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM, perhaps better still,
invest in an overall general freshwater aquarium book. You NEED an
overall understanding of this field... not to listen to any
one/all's input and live your aquatic life in a reactionary sense.
Af. Cichlid system, uncycled, env. dis., Ich, lack of common
Hi there. I had just set up a tank with all African cichlids. it is a
29 gallon tank, and I let the water sit for about a week before adding
<... This won't cycle it... Read here:
and the linked files above>
I also treated the tap water and had all the levels tested. it has been
a good week or so since I set it up and my fish are starting to rub
against the rocks and everything in the tank. as of today (4-5-10) they
have the salty looking white spots on them.
<Likely Ich... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm
and the linked files above...>
there are two yellow and black striped fish in there that are eating it
off. or at least I think that's what they're doing.. is this
I just turned the temp up in the water. what else should I do???
<Read, run your grammar and spell-checker, learn proper English. Bob
Fish... sp.? Hlth.... 3/1/10
I have a 16in white tetra
<I don't know what kind of fish this is! I tried a Google
search, thinking this might be the common name for some type of fish,
but couldn't find anything. There are some Characins that grow
quite large, but I couldn't find any information on a fish called
"White Tetra" which grows to this size. Do you know of any
other names for this fish?>
and he is very swollen with his scales falling off and bloody. Do you
have any recommendations on how to save him? He seems pretty strong
still but he does kind of float up to the top of the tank. The tank we
have him in is a 90 gal and we are currently treating the tank with
<No matter what type of fish he is, he still requires clean water,
and I can't imagine trying to keep a fish this large in a 90 gallon
The bioload of such a large fish is just too great. So, first, I'd
say test your water, and ensure that Ammonia, Nitrite are zero, and
Nitrate is under 20. This sounds like some sort of bacterial infection,
almost like dropsy. Please research "dropsy:"
also a photo there). Is this what your fish has? This can sometimes be
helped by Epsom Salt, used at 2 tablespoons per gallon, with half of
the treatment added one day, and half the next, along with an
antibiotic like Maracyn.
However, often when these symptoms show themselves, it's too late.
If you do agree with my diagnosis (which I made without much to go on,
really, so it may not even be correct), it means that you've kept
the fish in unclean conditions for so long that it just can't fight
anymore, and has succumbed to illness. So, you'll need to take that
and learn from it. You can try to save your fish, but it may be too
late. Begin by testing, and seeing where water quality is. Then, do
huge water changes until you've gotten those parameters mentioned
above to where they need to be. Then, you can try the Epsom
Salt/antibiotic combination. Good luck to your fish. Please write back
if you have further questions after reading.
My fish are sick with something I don't know.
My brother bought four mollies and a mini catfish at a store, but the
store's fish are always sick and now I need to treat them. I think
they could have Ick and other sicknesses.
<What are their symptoms? Descriptions of symptoms, along with
photos, are useful tools in diagnosis. Treating fish without cause can
stress them, and if you're treating for one problem, and they have
another, then they're not going to get better.>
I heard of putting salt in the water or raising the temp. to 85 degrees
or higher, but I'm afraid that it might kill them.
<Salt and elevated temperature are used to treat ich, but I have
never raised temperature higher than 84 when treating ich, and
wouldn't risk going higher than 85. This treatment does not help
many other illnesses, though, so what ever these other illnesses are,
they will persist unless diagnosed and treated.>
I also want to treat my black moor, 2 common goldfish, and fantail
goldfish just in case.
<Why do you believe these fish are ill, if they are in a different
system? Again, what are their symptoms? Just as with humans, one must
first diagnose the illness before treating.>
I don't want to kill any of them so if you know what I should do to
treat them without killing them please tell me soon. The new ones are
in a small tank and the fantail, common goldfish, and the black moor
are in a 55 gallon tank. If I do add salt would table salt work.
<If you are treating for ich, then yes, table salt will work.
However, when I have treated for ich in the past, I've gone ahead
and bought the aquarium salt sold in pet stores, because I figure that
if I use all the salt out of my kitchen, I'll still end up buying
salt! Please read here on ich and its treatment, prevention:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and those linked
files above the title of the article. I've found proper use of salt
and heat to cure ich 100% of the time, and rather quickly, too.
However, these "other illnesses" are what have me worried,
because, as I stated earlier, the heat and salt will likely not take
care of these. First, let's review water quality. Most often, when
fish appear "ill," the problem is not with the fish itself,
but with its environment. An example in humans would be a cough due to
cold (illness in the human body) and cough due to smoke inhalation (a
problem in the environment manifesting itself as a physical symptom).
Obviously, fish don't cough (at least, I've never observed this
behavior!) but hopefully that's a good enough analogy. Test
regularly, and ensure that Ammonia and Nitrite are zero, and Nitrite is
under 20 ppm. Even if poor water quality is not the cause of illness
(if these fish came from the store with an infection), you still want
to ensure water quality is such that the fish's immune system can
function normally in order to aid its recovery. If you find any of
these levels above what I stated, then there's a good chance water
quality is a factor in the fishes' illness, even if indirect. Also,
please review what is archived on WWM re: Mollies:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm and those linked
files above the title of the article. Mollies actually do best in
brackish water, and probably don't mix well with your mini catfish
(a Corydoras catfish? If so, a schooling fish, and will be miserable
alone), and you'll need to review their needs in order to help
improve their quality of life. In addition, you do not specify how
"small" this tank is, but please note that Mollies need at
least 20 gallons, as well as the brackish water mentioned above, to
thrive in home aquaria. Again, I don't think the catfish is a good
tankmate for these fish, so please find out what type of fish he is and
enter that into the search bar on the WWM homepage so that you can
research his needs. Unfortunately, you've really given me very
little information on either system or any of these fish! Please take
the time to read where I've linked you, and if you'd like to
write back, feel free. Please include more information on the
fishes' symptoms and these systems. I'd like to help, but
you've given me very little to go on. I understand your anxiety,
but we need to start with some information to go in the right
re: my fish (still sick, but not much more information!)
I accidentally sent you another message, <??>
but my fantail swims really weird sometimes he acts
like he cant stop floating.
<Please read here re: diet and other general care for goldfish:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm and the
At first I thought it was just to fat but now I'm not sure. I got
the moor, the fantail, and the new ones from a store that usually has
sick fish because that is the only fish store we have in our town.
<I would not shop there, even I had to go the next town
I don't see any ich on the fantails, black moor, and goldfish or on the
new ones but my dad says the new ones have it so I don't know.
<Please give descriptions of symptoms. Are these fish flashing
(rubbing on rocks and decor) or breathing heavily?>
Sometimes you cant see ich, but can you see bacteria sicknesses.
<You can see ich. I'm not sure what you're saying here. Are
you saying there's evidence of bacterial infection? What are the
I cant send pictures for a while, sorry.
<Then your careful observation and reporting of same is absolutely
imperative here, and you're not giving details.>
I looked lots of things up about ich and that's where I learned
about the salt and heat.
<Please review where I referred you on WWM if you'd like to
Again, I do not recommend raising the temperature as high as you
indicated that you planned. But we're not even sure if this is ich,
are we? So, again I say, let's start from the beginning: with
symptoms, and diagnosis.>
The older ones haven't died so far so I don't know if they have ich
because sometimes you can't see it and it can last a long time.
<I'm not sure where you're getting this information. You can
That is how it is diagnosed. Otherwise, no one would know if the fish
had it, and wouldn't know to treat for it.>
I don't know how to check the stuff in the water.
<The "stuff in the water" is of utmost importance, and the
fact that you don't know what I'm talking about sort of makes
me worry. It could be that you test, and everything is absolutely
perfect with water quality. But, the reverse could also be true: that
you're failing to address issues with water quality and your fish
are ill as a result. The test kits are sold at fish stores, and
directions for testing are included in the package.
Please read here on what Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are, and where
they come from:
But I know how to treat ich, kind of, but I don't know how to treat any
<I do, but you're giving me no information as to symptoms, so I
can't help you.>
Would I see the ich when it started coming out of the fish that might
help me deciding whether they are sick.
<Yes. The spots look like grains of table salt. Did you read where
you were referred?>
Should I just wait to see if they die or if I can see something.
<Well, what do you think? I've already asked you to provide
information as to external symptoms of illness, and you ignored my
request. If you ignore it again, then you're essentially
"waiting to see if they die.">
I've just read to many things that scare me about ich and bacteria
<If you're so scared, then why are you failing to read where I
referred you last time, and why do you still not tell me why you think
your fish are sick? What do they look like? How do they act?>
The new ones kind of swim slowly which that might not matter but I
think there are 2 mollies, a little fish, and the mini catfish.
<Did you read where I referred you re: Mollies? You're still not
answering the questions I asked: I distinctly remember asking you what
size tank this was, and telling that your catfish is likely not
brackish, and therefore cannot exist in the same tank as the
The store called the catfish thing by the wrong name so I don't
know what it is.
The little fish is always lying on the bottom. I will try to figure out
more about the catfish and the other fish. I'm not helping much,
maybe when I can send pictures it might help.
<I find this situation completely frustrating. You've offered no
more information at all, really, and failed to answer any questions
that I asked, read where I referred you, or help yourself in any way.
If you choose to continue in this manner, then you are, essentially,
"waiting to see if they die." I want to help your fish, but
you also have to help them. Please write back if you have questions
after reading where I referred you last time and this time.
e: my fish (still sick, but not much more information!)
<Please refrain from typing your answers within the e-mail. It has
turned into a real mess, and though I added extra carats (carrots?) I
still think it's going to be really confusing for anyone who reads
it. (Bob, what would you like me to do with this if it occurs in the
future?) I will attempt to answer your questions here, rather than the
<<You've done an excellent job of syncretizing the essentials
here Melinda. RMF>>
First of all, when I ask you to read about goldfish, I am hoping that
you'll find out what they need in terms of water quality, feeding,
etc., and see that either you're doing things right, or that you
need to change or augment your methods. Is this the case? The
"Floaty, Bloaty Goldfish" article stresses the need for
vegetable matter in goldfish diet, and this isn't often provided.
Are you feeding according to the article, or does this need to change?
Maybe this is where the disconnect is occurring, because when I'm
asking you to read, you say you are doing it, but it doesn't seem
when you write back that you've gleaned any information from the
pages where I linked you. As a result, I assumed you weren't
reading, and so I'm sorry if that was a mistake.
As for your catfish, if you don't know what he is, how do you know
what to feed him? Corys, a common "mini" catfish, do not eat
algae at all.
Otocinclus, another common "mini catfish" eat only a specific
type of algae, and often perish very early in home aquaria due to their
nutritional needs not being met. Some catfish are sold very, very
small, but don't stay that way, and no warning is given that this
is the case at time of purchase. I have one. I bought him when he was
two inches long. Now, a year and a half later, he is twenty-seven
inches long, and still growing.
So, you see why it's important to know what you buy. The
catfish's behavior, of whirling around the tank, does worry me.
However, again, this behavior is usually a symptom of poor water
I can't stress how important it is that you please do determine
water quality. The "ragged fins" on both the catfish and the
Molly indicate that there's something wrong with the water. Also,
it could indicate something like Finrot, but that's caused by poor
water quality. The same goes for your goldfish, who, in general,
commonly suffer from problems due to under-filtration and lack of
maintenance, which cause water quality to deteriorate. The thing with
the possible ich on the Mollies is that if you didn't have
incompatible tankmates with them, you could begin adding salt to the
tank and eventually have brackish water, which the Mollies would enjoy
and would kill the ich at the same time. Due to the fact that these
other fish are in there, it creates a problem with that scenario. In
any case, Dalmatian Mollies are exactly what they sound like -- black
Mollies with white spots, or vice versa -- so the fact that they have
spots doesn't mean that they have ich. I'm guessing you mean
that these are not those Mollies, and that these spots are new. The
smaller spots could be ich, the larger ones could be a fungus. What
I'm trying to say is there is a lot going on in that small tank,
the size of which you have still not yet divulged. Much of it likely
stems from poor water quality, and I wouldn't begin treating for
ich without first determining if that's the problem, and without
first testing the water.
Your fish store will likely test the water for you at little to no
When they do, press them to give you numbers on each test, and do not
allow them to just say "it's fine" or "everything is
within safe limits." I think water quality is really where a lot
of your problems are stemming from. Ask them to test the goldfish tank,
as well. As for whether the two "small fish" and the
"mini catfish" will work well in the goldfish tank, without
knowing what these are, it's hard to tell. Most of the small fish
(I'm thinking Tetras, Rasboras, Guppies, Platies) sold in fish
stores need heated water, which your goldfish do not appreciate. So I
don't think this is going to work, unless these fish are Danios,
but after you find out what they are, do enter their name into the
search bar and determine their needs.
> I accidentally sent you another message, <??>
> but my fantail swims
> really weird sometimes he acts like he cant stop floating.
> <Please read here re: diet and other general care for
> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm and the
linked files above.>
> At first I thought it was just to fat but now I'm not sure. I
got the moor,
> the fantail, and the new ones from a
> store that usually has sick fish because that is the only fish
> have in our town.
> <I would not shop there, even I had to go the next town
> I don't see any ich on the fantails, black moor, and goldfish or on
> ones but my dad says
> the new ones have it so I don't know.
> <Please give descriptions of symptoms. Are these fish flashing
> rocks and decor) or breathing heavily?>
<<The new ones are swimming around a lot now and the really
,which I think is a baby mini catfish, swims in loops in a
direction and when he goes up on the loop he sucks on the wall. Then
some loops he swims around the tank really fast and sucks on the
wall, heater, and air pump. When he stops he is breathing hard but
bit it slows down. I think he's just looking for algae but I don't
he does the loops. Maybe he is a different type of algae eater. One
goldfish's eye is haft red, orange in the middle, and white on the
They are not flashing. I don't think they are breathing hard but the
ones gills move fast. The catfish's tail looks like it has been
same with the mostly black molly. I don't think the older ones are
because they don't have any problems. >>
> Sometimes you cant see ich, but can you see bacteria
> <You can see ich. I'm not sure what you're saying here.
Are you saying
> there's evidence of bacterial infection? What are the
> I cant send pictures for a while, sorry.
> <Then your careful observation and reporting of same is
> imperative here, and you're not giving details.>
<<I'm trying too.>>
> I looked lots of things up about ich and that's where I
learned about the
> salt and heat.
> <Please review where I referred you on WWM if you'd like to
> Again, I do not recommend raising the temperature as high as
> that you planned. But we're not even sure if this is ich, are
> again I say, let's start from the beginning: with symptoms,
>>Ok, I wasn't going to raise the heat until I am sure they
> The older ones haven't died so far so I don't know if they have
> sometimes you can't see it and it can last a long time.
> <I'm not sure where you're getting this information.
You can see ich.
> That is how it is diagnosed. Otherwise, no one would know if the
> it, and wouldn't know to treat for it.>
<<OK, I just searched ich on the internet and found a bunch of
> I don't know how to check the stuff in the water.
> <The "stuff in the water" is of utmost importance,
and the fact that you
> don't know what I'm talking about sort of makes me worry.
It could be that
> you test, and everything is absolutely perfect with water quality.
> the reverse could also be true: that you're failing to address
> water quality and your fish are ill as a result. The test kits are
> fish stores, and directions for testing are included in the
> Please read here on what Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are, and
> come from:
<<Ok, I will find them because I've been wanting to test the
water any way.>>
> But I know how to treat ich, kind of, but I don't know how to treat
any other sicknesses.
> <I do, but you're giving me no information as to symptoms,
so I can't help you.>
> Would I see the ich when it started coming out of the fish that
> me deciding whether they are sick.
> <Yes. The spots look like grains of table salt. Did you read
> were referred?>
<<Yes, one molly is mostly white with black spots, but the other
mostly black with small white specks that look like salt, but it has
white spots too.>>
> Should I just wait to see if they die or if I can see
> <Well, what do you think? I've already asked you to provide
> to external symptoms of illness, and you ignored my request. If
> it again, then you're essentially "waiting to see if they
die."> I have been reading everything you wanted.
> I've just read to many things that scare me about ich and
bacteria on fish.
> <If you're so scared, then why are you failing to read
where I referred you
> last time, and why do you still not tell me why you think your
> sick? What do they look like? How do they act?>
> The new ones kind of swim slowly which that might not matter but I
> there are 2 mollies, a little fish, and the mini catfish.
> <Did you read where I referred you re: Mollies? You're
still not answering
> the questions I asked: I distinctly remember asking you what size
> this was, and telling that your catfish is likely not brackish,
> therefore cannot exist in the same tank as the Mollies.>
<<Yes I read it but I can't do any thing until I get another
tank so I can
put the catfish in it. The new ones are in a small tank but the one I
to put them in is a 55 gallon tank with the goldfish, but first I have
look up the goldfish, fantail, and the black moor again to see if they
the same things. I wasn't the one that bought them with out
> The store called the catfish thing by the wrong name so I
don't know what it is.
> <<The little fish is always lying on the bottom. I will try
to figure out
> more about the catfish and the other fish.>>
I'm not helping much, maybe when
> I can send pictures it might help.
> <I find this situation completely frustrating. You've
offered no more
> information at all, really, and failed to answer any questions
> asked, read where I referred you, or help yourself in any way. If
> choose to continue in this manner, then you are, essentially,
> see if they die." I want to help your fish, but you also have
> them. Please write back if you have questions after reading where
> referred you last time and this time.>
<< I read everything you wanted me to read. I am trying to help
a novice tank of errors...and 3 dropsied fish... Reading
<And gals Maria>
Maria is here wondering if you can set her on a straight path.
<A good practice to be self/introspective at intervals>
I started a 15 gallon tank about two months ago. The tank itself was
new but all of the hardware came from an established tank, including
The tank is moderately planted. The t fluctuates around 26-29C.
<This is a too-large fluctuation... You do have a heater? I'd
set it close to the high mark here>
I do 50% water changes
<Mmm, unless your new water is "very good"... I'd keep
these changes to about 1/3 of the tank volume>
with vacuuming and rinsing of the filter pad every week, and do weekly
ammonia testing (the liquid kind...been at 0 from the very
The diet consists of guppy flakes, the .5mm growth pellets from New
Life, algae wafers and occasional frozen bloodworms.
The inhabitants included a few guppies, 2 mollies, 3 Platies, 2 neon
tetras, a small angelfish,
<... will get too large, likely "mean" here>
a powder blue dwarf Gourami, an unidentified baby algae eater,
<Mmm, do see WWM, the Net with the name "Gyrinocheilus"...
and trade this fish in if it is this>
and a small crayfish.
<! Most species are fish eaters>
The fish come from at least 3 different stores.
The guppies never thrived. Most of the original stock died soon after I
got them without any obvious warnings...I replaced them.
The Gourami did not do well either.
<... see WWM re Colisa lalia... this fish is often not hardy>
He was skittish from the beginning but soon afterwards became very
'skinny', to the point where his skull bones
were visibly protruding. His sides became sunken in so the body looked
kind of 'banded'. And all he did was hanging out in the corner.
I was away on vacation last week when I learned from my daughter that
the Gourami died.
She did not, however, remove the body from the tank. When I came back a
couple of days ago, I found 3 of my fish in a pitiful state. One of the
guppies (already died) blew up like a balloon with her scales sticking
out all over her body (disturbing to see on a fish), eyes popping out,
and red streaks everywhere. The female molly is in a similar
state...she is huge, with protruding scales, and she developed a
greenish color (white when healthy). Another female guppy is blown up
as well and her scales are just starting to stick up. I changed about
70% of their water immediately and vacuumed everywhere but could not
find the Gourami's body, so I assumed it got eaten.
The rest of the fish appear healthy.
I added two packs of Maracyn 2 to the tank as well as some salt
thinking that it might if not cure the fish then at least control the
What else can/should I do?
<... read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dropsyfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
If I keep the obviously sick fish in a concentrated Maracyn 2 bath,
would that help at all?
<Mmm, not much... FW fishes don't "drink" their
environment, and antibiotics/Erythromycin is not absorbed through their
I have read that dropsy has very poor prognosis so perhaps extreme
measures would help?..
That reminds me. I've read on a Russian aquarium hobby site about a
guy who had an Oscar with dropsy so the guy punctured the fish's
abdominal cavity (carefully, of course) with a small needle and drained
the fluid with a
syringe while treating the fish with antibiotics. The follow up after a
month was that the fish was doing ok.
<I would not do this>
Not that I'm going to do that...
<See WWM re each of the species you list... Bob Fenner>
Re: a novice tank of errors...and 3 dropsied fish
Wow, thank you for the quick reply!
The molly passed away, unfortunately. As curious as I am, I performed
an autopsy and saw a lot of greenish liquid inside her belly. The third
sick fish - a guppy - is still alive and I think is doing better. Her
stomach is pretty big and the scales at the bottom of her stomach are
slightly raised but she is otherwise ok and accepts food. So we'll
see. Could it be that she's just very pregnant?
The reason why I thought of the Maracyn bath was because the
manufacturer claims that it absorbs through the fish's skin. I
suppose small amounts do, but I have no idea how to take this claim to
be honest. Maybe I could try mixing the antibiotic with food but I
don't know what medium works best for that purpose.
<Foods that have some lipid/fat content... Please read here re:
Yes, it is a Gyrinocheilus, a golden variety. The guy at the pet store
told me that they stay small and that they are sweethearts...Sigh.
<Uh, definitely not. See WWM re... plan to move it... out>
Ah, one more thing please. I know now that guppies and mollies prefer
<Mmm, at least hard and alkaline>
The tap water I have here in Toronto is hard and alkaline.
I'm confused as to what type of salt to add - aquarium salt,
African cichlid mix, or marine salt mix?
<Marine is best. Please see...>
Re: a novice tank of errors...and 3 dropsied fish
Ah what the deuce... another female guppy is hanging out near the
surface not looking so good. Not really swollen but the scales are
Oh, and she had that thin thread-like, long, whitish string coming out
of her anus.
What's going on? Why females only? Is there some kind of sex-linked
communicable fish disease?..or are females more susceptible?
<Mmm... could be a "few things"... Perhaps a combo. of
Chondrococcus (Columnaris) and Nematodes (Camallanus)... See WWM
I dip tested the water. Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 20, chlorine 0,
water hard to very hard, alkaline. The temperature has been stable at
27C for two days.
I quarantined the two sick fishes...they are swimming in the antibiotic
bath now. I tried lacing food with a/b but it doesn't seem to be
sticking very well to the pellets and dissipates as soon as the pellets
hit the water.
So out of frustration I mixed a packet of a/b together with crushed
anti-parasitic pellets and algae wafers with some water, ran it through
the food processor and mixed it into warm gelatin. Once it's set,
I'll try feeding them.
<Sounds very good>
Is there anything else I could do? I hate losing these pretty fishes
one after another...
<W/o microscopic work, a good deal of reading/investigating,
unfortunately not much. In a field (in this case/circumstance
ornamental aquatics) of such huge breadth, possible "depth",
there is so much that even though "known", the "learning
curve" is so large and steep, that by the time (even w/ clear
focus, plenty of time) it is very hard to "come up to speed",
relative to the time frames of livestock loss>
Many thanks and sorry for heavy emailing,
<Not a worry. I do wish you "lived next door", or that the
state of these devices (the Net basically) and human affairs was such
that I could refer you to human help nearby. BobF>
Texas has tumors 10/29/09
My Texas cichlid has not been well for about a month. At a guess
he is about 8 years old. He started getting sores on his side
which I treated with Melafix and they cleared up.
<Likely unconnected... Melafix isn't much of a medication,
and at best helps the natural immune system repair damage and
Then a few weeks later he started to getting sores again. I
removed him from the tank (950 litre tank) and treated him again
with Melafix. It didn't clear up the sores and he started to
develop pink lumps (tumors???)
<These look somewhat like Lymphocystis, a not uncommon viral
complaint seen among "advanced" (Perciform) fish
including cichlids. The precise causes of this disease are not
completely understood, but it seems to be triggered by stress,
likely environmental stress if occurrences in the wild are
anything to go by. So do check the aquarium, paying attention in
particular to water chemistry and water quality. Herichthys spp.
need hard (10+ degrees dH) water with a basic pH (7.5) and the
water should be medium temperature (around 25 C) and clean (0
ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrate less than 20 mg/l). Because
cichlids are messy feeders, and because this species is so big,
keeping water quality where it should be can be
I changed his medication to aquari-cycline and he developed more
lumps between his bottom fins. I then tried treating him with
para-cide and after 2 weeks he still has sores and tumors which
are appearing at the base of his fins, his body is bloated. He is
still eating, his energy levels are a little lacking and is
<Again, I'd tend to be looking at water quality/chemistry
issues. Make sure the tank isn't overstocked, and that the
filter is adequate to the needs of the fish. For cichlids this
size, I'd be going with filter turnover rates 8 times the
volume of the tank per hour. Make sure the carbonate hardness is
sufficiently high that pH isn't fluctuating between water
changes. With a few exceptions, cichlids are hypersensitive to
low oxygen levels, and low water turnover and excessively high
temperatures can cause an "oxygen crisis" for these
fish that tend to stay near the bottom of the tank, where oxygen
levels are invariably lowest.>
I am about to start treating him for fluke and tapeworms.
<Obviously, make sure you haven't fed anything like live
feeder fish. This isn't a thing in the UK since feeder fish
aren't sold here, but in some parts of the world they are
still available, and that causes major problems. To produce a
fish you can sell for pennies, healthcare will not be a priority.
A feeder fish is really just a way of getting parasites into
healthy fish. So if you have used feeder fish, then yes,
there's quite a good chance your Herichthys has picked up
something nasty. Certain fish species used as feeders, notably
goldfish and minnows, have high levels of thiaminase and fat, and
over the long term, both can cause serious problems. Thiaminase
breaks down Vitamin B1, leading to deficiencies, and among other
things, this causes the immune system to work less well. Fat
causes problems by building up around the internal organs, and
again, over time, that's going to lead to all sorts of
I really need some advice as I would hate to loose him. In the
pics you will see that his lumps are around the base of his fins
and the sore on his side
<Indeed. Lymphocystis is essentially untreatable, and comes
and goes depending on the health of the fish. Given optimal
conditions and a balanced (i.e., varied, vitamin-rich, including
plants) diet most fish do recover. Provided the tumours
aren't obstructing an orifice, they are not substantially
more dangerous than warts. But it does take months for fish to
recover. While Lymphocystis won't be causing laboured
breathing or sluggishness, the environmental problems that cause
Lymphocystis could well be causing other problems as
I have a 55 gal freshwater which is into its 4th week with fish.
Nitrite levels are extremely low and I have been keeping up with my
water changes and testing quality every 2 days. I know the tank is
still cycling because it isn't showing any appreciable level of
nitrate just yet- I have no live plants. For stock, I have 5 albino
Corys and 5 golden bar Platies. I wanted to make sure the tank cycle
was stable before introducing more fish. I noticed several of the
Platies flashing about two weeks ago. Other than this, they have no
signs of disease whatsoever. All fish are swimming, eating, and
behaving appropriately, other than the flashing.
<Flashing is a common behaviour when the water isn't "quite
right" -- be alert for ammonia and nitrite. Both of these will
cause fish to dart about or scratch against rocks. All the fish feel is
irritation (burning, perhaps?) on their most sensitive parts, their
gills. They can't know the difference between a parasite (which
they try to brush away, hence the flashing behaviour) or a chemical
Research led me to think gill flukes, since there are no signs of
<Pretty unlikely, to be honest. Never come across flukes in 25+
years of fishkeeping. They're more common among wild caught fish,
and particularly common among pond fish kept outdoors, but not really a
problem for most farmed tropical community fish.>
I would normally treat with salt, but I read that Corys are sensitive
<Actually, copper/formalin as used in most Ick medications is *far
more* toxic to Corydoras than the low levels of salt needed to treat
Ick. Do remember that the whole issue with salt is osmotic stress. Some
hobbyists might say things like catfish are "allergic to
salt" but that's utter garbage. Indeed, there are various
catfish that live in the sea! So salt, in and of itself, isn't
toxic to them. If you routinely added too much salt, week in, week out,
that certainly will stress Corydoras and indeed any other fish from the
soft waters of the Amazon. But across the short term, and in small
amounts, it's harmless.>
so I have used Quick Cure for three days as directed on the packaging
(one drop per gallon- I only added 50 drops), doing a 25% water change
today. I know that treatment might take longer than this.
<Likely won't do anything either way. I somehow don't feel
this is a gill fluke problem. The fact your tank is just 4 weeks only
strongly implies variable/poor water quality, and I'd expect fish
kept in such a tank to "flash" from time to time. I'll
also mention here that carbon removes medications from the water. Some
inexperienced aquarists use carbon in their filters (usually without
understanding why, but rather because the retailer sold the stuff).
Always remove carbon when medicating the fish, or precisely nothing
I am concerned the Quick Cure may have totally destroyed my bacteria
base and the tank will need to cycle all over again.
<Non sequitur. QuickCure doesn't harm filter bacteria if used as
I have an established tank with a goldfish in it, and the levels there
are great. He's been in the tank for over a year. Perhaps I could
add some of his water to jump start the cycle once treatment is
<There are little/no filter bacteria in the water. By all means add
a cup or two of the gravel, or even better, some filter media. But
Also, should I discontinue the Quick Cure or treat for a little longer,
doing water changes every third day? I have not seen any flashing
<Don't automatically assume "ergo propter
Sorry if this question has been asked before. I searched and searched
for info on nitrifying bacteria and quick cure, but I couldn't find
much definitive info.
<The correct explanation here is likely the simplest one. Do read,
understand cycling and be aware of the likely problems when you cycle
with fish. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Flashing 10/13/09
Thanks a lot Neale!
<You are welcome.>
I feel much better about it now-the idea of gill flukes had me in a bit
of a panic. I checked the ammonia in the tank and the levels were under
<Not sure what you mean by "recommended parameters".
It's a common misconception that "low levels" are
acceptable. They are not. Any ammonia above zero is potentially
dangerous. A healthy aquarium has zero levels of ammonia and nitrite.
Anything above zero means your tank is overstocked, under-filtered,
overfed, or not yet fully cycled.>
I will do as you suggested and add some of the filter media from the
established tank, as well as continuing to monitor water quality in the
new tank and keep up with water changes.
I did remove the filter pads, which have activated carbon in them, when
I started treating with the Quick Cure. I will discontinue the
treatment and just focus on the water from now on. Thanks again for
your advice- I very much appreciate it.
Concerned and Confused... mis-mix FW, induced troubles, lots
of reading... 7/9/09
I have a 30 gallon tank. It is about 7 months old.
Community Tank with the following fish:
2 Dwarf Gouramis
<Do see WWM re: Colisa lalia; a problematic species in many ways,
and not recommended.>
1 Silver Mollie
2 Sailfin Mollies
<Mollies usually do best in warm, hard, slightly brackish water;
this makes them incompatible with most community fish.>
<Will need a tank twice your size within 18 months or so; maximum
length is about 40-50 cm, depending on the species.>
3 Cory Cats
<Groups of 5 or more, please.>
1 Red Tailed Black Shark
<Highly aggressive, and will terrorise your fish once mature in a
tank this small.>
2 Mystery Snails
<Needs subtropical conditions as well as a cooler dormant period of
a few months in damp soil every year; most specimens kept in tropical
tanks die within a year.>
<Again, schooling fish, so must be kept in groups of 6 or more
specimens, and ideally 10+ if you want them to be happy and to look
1 African Dwarf Frog
<Difficult to feed, and must have wet frozen bloodworms and other
wet/live foods periodically; frogs fed dried foods and pellets very
prone to constipation.>
<If these are males they will fight, and if they pair off, they
could become unholy terrors, so be careful.>
My Silver Mollie and Sailfin Mollie both gave birth about 3 wks ago. I
have the fry in a breeders net (I hate these things!) The fry seem to
be happy and healthy, but I find about 2 dead each day. My Silver
Mollie died about 1 week ago. From the symptoms she displayed, I
believe it was from "Dropsy".
<Mystery deaths of Mollies usually come down to people keeping them
in the wrong conditions. Be under no illusions about this: Mollies are
not "easy" fish, and they are ONLY hardy when kept in
The week before, my male guppy died, I'm not sure why, he seemed to
be doing fine one minute and the next minute he was sitting on the
bottom of the tank. My local "Fish Expert" said it looked
like aggression to him?!@#
<Sounds a pretty vague analysis to me.>
Anyway, now my Dwarf Gourami was hiding in a plant, acting strange, not
eating (normally one of the first grabbing for food), top fin not
standing up, and a hairy cloudy white patch on both sides.
<Sounds like a fungal infection; treat accordingly using something
reliable (not Melafix, Pimafix or any other tea-tree oil medication).
Do be aware of the numerous problems with this species:
Best avoided really, and I don't recommend them. I have an article
coming out in TFH Magazine shortly all about commonly sold fish that
should be avoided, and this is one of the species mentioned. Colisa
fasciata and Colisa labiosus are infinitely better fish.>
In the 7 mths that I've had the tank, I haven't had any
problems. Is this just a freak thing...is my tank diseased, or what do
you think is happening?
<Your choice of fish is a bit random and, frankly, poorly thought
Without statistics on water quality, temperature, water chemistry
it's also impossible to say whether you were unlucky or have been
keeping this fish badly. I can say that sudden deaths of livebearers
for example are most common when the water isn't sufficiently warm
or hard or brackish, and both Mollies and Guppies will thrive best at
about 26-28 C, hardness 15+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8, and ideally slightly
salty conditions, around 3-5 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of
What steps should I take to correct the problem(s)?
<Read, understand, anticipate, pre-empt. Cheers, Neale.>
Dying Fish 4/10/09
I have been using your website for years now and I really appreciate
what you guys do. I have been trying to build a successful tank for
four years now, but am still having trouble making it work.
The equipment I am using is:
1 - 48'x22'x18' tank
1 - 350 magnum pro canister filter
2 penguin power heads (300gph) for my under gravel filter
The conditions of the tank are checked weekly and are:
The alkalinity is 120 ppm
The hardness is 200 ppm
The temperature is 78°F
The pH is 7.5 (I would like to lower the pH and hardness of the water
and have been doing twenty percent water changes with distilled water
twice a month for several years now, but that doesn't seem to make
<I wouldn't bother; little to be gained, much to be risked. The
water chemistry here is fine for most community species.>
The stock I have in the tank is
One Black ghost knife fish - approx 6.5'
One marble angelfish - approx 3.5' in diameter (this is the body
only, not including fins. I am assuming this is how they are normally
measured although I believe it is full-grown)
Two Bala sharks - approx 5'
One Pleco - approx 4'
<All of these are fine in basic, moderately hard water.>
The first thing I am worried about is the pH and hardness. I have read
about RO/DI systems on your website, but it seems like they are doing
the same thing distilled water would do, so I don't know if getting
one would really help.
<Don't bother; it's not like you're breeding these fish
and need particularly soft water.>
I looked but can't figure out any other methods to lower pH and
<By definition, if you have 50% water at 20 degrees dH hardness, and
50% at 0 degrees dH, you'll end up with water at 10 degrees dH. The
pH will drop somewhat, but unless there's something to acidify the
water as well, you'll still have a slightly basic pH. What tends to
happen though is that as hardness (specifically, carbonate hardness)
declines, so the propensity for acidification between water changes
increases. This is a bad thing. Adding stable, buffered water at pH 6.5
is fine if the tank stays at 6.5 between water changes; but if the pH
drops from 7.2 to 6.5 between water changes all by itself (because of
nitrate going up, organic acids, etc) you are likely to stress your
fish. Ergo, it's much better to give fish moderately hard but
stable pH water.>
In the last three years I have lost 4 gouramis, 3 hatchet fish, a Kuhli
loach, a rainbow shark, and two angelfish. The gouramis, rainbow shark,
and angelfish all bloated and then died several weeks after they had
initially bloated. All of their deaths were spread out over a three
year period, the last death being the angel fish which had been in the
tank for two and a half years before it got sick.
<Whatever the causes, and I certainly can't determine them from
this message, not providing these fish with soft/acid water wasn't
the key; on the other hand, exposing the fish to constantly varying pH
could be a stress factor.>
All of these fish were introduced into the tank at the same time (three
years ago). The hatchet fish were eaten and the Kuhlii loach is just
missing in action.
<Probably eaten by the Apteronotus.>
I haven't figured out what I am doing that would cause this and am
worried it will continue to affect more fish.
<Would concentrate on choosing a few species of comparable size, and
then taking care to optimise water quality and diet, rather than
fussing over pH and hardness.>
I feed them twice a day, but not very much so I don't think I am
over feeding them. The angel fish that is still alive and active has
never really had much color and its eyes have always been red, which
was not the case in the pet store when I purchased it.
<Commercially bred Angels are not especially beautiful fish, in my
opinion; certainly, the quality varies.>
I also have always really wanted to have discus, but from what I have
read that would be a very bad choice while I have the Bala sharks, plus
my track record isn't doing too well.
<Symphysodon are certainly not appropriate to this aquarium. They
need warmer, stiller water than, for example, Apteronotus. Concentrate
on keeping fish that all share the same environmental conditions above
I am hoping you can tell me what I am doing wrong so that I can add
more fish and retain them. If getting rid of the Bala sharks and
somehow lowering the pH of the tank would allow me to get discus in the
future I would be interested in that, if not would you have any
recommendations as to what fish I could add since I have seemed to lose
all the compatible tank mates that I have found?
<Depends what you're after. Apteronotus albifrons will outgrow
this tank fairly quickly, so your prime issue is finding something
bigger for this potentially very large fish (250 litres upwards). It
comes from shallow but reasonably fast-flowing water habitats with
plenty of oxygen, so fish from similar habitats, such as Whiptail
catfish and Brochis catfish would be appropriate, as would some of the
larger, but non-nippy, characins, e.g., Silver Dollars or Bleeding
Heart tetras. Congo tetras look good with them too, though they're
African rather than Neotropical.>
Thank you so much in advance for your advice and your wonderful
<Thanks for your kind words, Neale.>
Deadly Diseases: Lymphocystis, Glugea, and Henneguya.
02/09/09 Hello All! Just writing this bc I had an important
question and maybe something you don't deal with often ... Before I
start I have a 60 Gallon FW tank that has been running for about a
year. My ammonia/nitrites are always 0 and my nitrates always 40ppm or
less ... Anyways, about 1 month ago or so (maybe a little longer) I
noticed one of my blue rams which I've had almost a year had white
pimple looking bumps on the top of his head ... After researching I
came to the conclusion that he had Lymphocystis so I left him in the
tank. It would spread around his face, reappearing on a different spot
on his head as another healed but never got any worse than when I first
noticed it (he is still alive btw). Now, my question is this ... What
is the chance that this isn't Lymphocystis and is Glugea or
Henneguya? (I never took him out of the tank bc everything I've
read said these diseases are even more rare than Lympho.) The reason
why I ask is bc over the past 3 - 4 days I have lost 4 or 5 fish for
unknown reasons ... And they all exhibit the same signs: Loss of color.
They were all eating and active except for the color and it got to the
point where I could look in the tank in the morning and know which fish
were going to be dead by the time I got home from work based on the
color. Glugea and Henneguya is the only reason I could think of bc I
have not done anything different to my tank in a long time and I
religiously keep my tank clean and maintained. So what is your opinion
bc I truly believe that my whole tank will be dead in a month or less
at this rate. (Which means I convert my tank into a dart frog tank and
forget fish forever lol). Thanks for the insight. -Nick- <Nick, I
think these are unrelated issues. Lympho is by far the most common
viral disease among cichlids; or at least, the most common one
aquarists can recognise. It isn't fatal, and as you've noticed,
it comes and goes. It's a nuisance, but doesn't seem to harm
the fish any, and eventually goes away. If you're losing a bunch of
fish -- of different types -- in a short span of time, it's most
probable there's an issue with water quality or chemistry. Also
consider reviewing diet, temperature, and even the age of the fish. So:
What are the fish? What is the water chemistry? Cheers, Neale.>
Freshwater Aquarium Disease
11/20/2008 Hi there, 1 month old 10 G freshwater aquarium,
Fluorite substrate, 7 medium- sized plants, holding steady at 80
degrees. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, trace nitrates. Was populated with a
single perfectly-healthy and happy male Betta fish. <A single Betta
in a 10-gallon tank is an excellent way to keep fish. Well done.>
After a lot of research, I decided to add some cardinal tetras, so I
bought 8 of them from my local fish store. <Hmm... Cardinals are
sensitive, and wouldn't be my choice for addition to a tank a month
old... Also, small tetras, even the "peaceful" ones, will nip
the fins of Bettas. Unless you absolutely 100% know better, Bettas are
best kept alone or with small invertebrates such as cherry shrimps,
Nerite snails, etc.> Fish looked perfectly healthy and were had the
brightest colors of any cardinal tetras in town. I made the purchase
and acclimated them to the water using the trickle method over a nearly
3 hour period (I'm new and wanted to take every precaution).
<OK.> Fish looked great, were schooling perfectly and my Betta
was chasing them a little when they got in his way, just trying to
assert his authority I guess. I noticed that after a few hours one of
them didn't school with the others very much, and took to hanging
out in a corner. When I saw this behavior I removed him and put him in
a separate container. <Moving fish to small containers is usually
like switching them to Death Row. It's almost always best to find
out what the problem is and fix it. Isolating fish makes sense if
you're moving that fish to another proper aquarium for breeding or
quarantining reasons, but just putting them into a bucket or jar
doesn't, in my experience, ever seem to do much good.> The next
morning his swimming had changed dramatically. He just kind of paddled
backwards very rhythmically, banging into walls and everything, and was
very non-responsive. No symptoms other than this. <Likely just
stressed, too cold, bad water quality, etc.> Also, another loner
tetra in the main tank which I removed. I was a little freaked out. It
reminded me of The Happening. Great movie FYI. <Haven't heard of
this movie, I'm afraid.> Also, that morning I noticed my Betta
had stopped chasing the tetras. I thought he had just gotten used to
them. Both my Betta and the tetra school had very good appetites that
morning. As the day passed, my Betta became more and more reclusive,
hiding near the bottom under leaves. He would not come out to eat
dinner that night. By nighttime, more loner tetras, and both earlier
loners died. Some white spots on the fish as well. Went to the fish
store and the owner gave me some Nox-ich, which I used per the
instructions for tetras. His cardinal tetra tank was crawling with an
ich-like something and he had lost many of them. <Ick/Whitespot is
indeed very common in pet shops, and almost always when aquarists see
it in home aquaria, it is immediately after buying new fish. Multiple
ways to treat the disease, the safest of which is the high
temperature/salt method.> The next morning, white spots all over the
place (I know it sounds like ich, but don't tune me out just yet).
My Betta had a literal white mask over his face, and a large (3-4)
millimeter round white spot on one of his gills. He was also completely
unresponsive, and solely concerned with trying to breathe through his
mask at the waters surface. He would also not leave the corner where
the heater and filter output were, and still wouldn't eat. The
remaining four tetras were schooling normally and were still eating,
but they had ich-looking spots all over their bodies. Over the course
of the day, all of them died except one, which I discovered the next
morning in my filter input. <At least some of the other symptoms may
be related to environmental issues. You haven't mentioned
temperature, nitrite, ammonia, pH or hardness levels, all of which are
relevant here. Almost always, diseases like Finrot and Fungus, both of
which can explain white growths on fish, are related to either
environmental issues or physical damage.> More observations: after
their deaths, tetras became much less colorful, more gray (I assume
that's normal). Before he died, my Betta was having problems
keeping himself righted in the water, kept falling over to one side or
the other. Whether this was a result of a swim bladder problem or lack
of oxygen I don't know, but I am pretty sure that his eventual
death was caused by oxygen deprivation. Also exhibited an odd behavior
where he would stop moving for a few seconds and then half jump out of
the water. Seemed he was trying to get his labyrinth organ thing out of
the water or something. Also, I think my Betta's white mask was a
result of him chasing the tetras and presumably coming into contact
with them, with his face. White mask extended from mouth all the way
over his eyes at the time of his death. <None of this particularly
unusual or indicative of one specific disease.> Went to the fish
store a day after my final fish death and every cardinal tetra was
dead. Over 200. BUT there were other species of fish in that tank that
were still alive! The fish-store owner asked me what my tetra
experience had been, and I told him everything I just told you. He said
that what I described with my Betta sounded like a fungus of some sort.
It was only that day that I remembered having noticed a white fuzziness
on some of my plants. <The fuzziness on plants is usually not
fungus. Fungus grows on decaying organic matter, for example a dead
fish, or dead tissue on healthy fish. Fuzziness on plants is usually
algae, but sometimes bacteria. In the latter case especially, it is a
clear sign of poor environmental conditions: too much food, too many
fish, not enough water changes, and not enough filtration. Bacterial
fuzz is typically off-white or grey in colour, and frequently has a
silky appearance.> Its very small and in very localized patches, and
on only one species, so I didn't think it was any kind of fungus or
mold. Also, for the life of me I can't remember whether the first
time I noticed it was before or after I put the cardinal tetras in.
<Oh.> Now that the tank had no more fish in it, I cranked my
oversized heater up to 89 degrees and left it that way for a week, but
stopped using Nox-Ich. After this week the white fuzziness has not
seemed to have grown or changed at all. <Ick medication obviously
only treats Ick.> What is this crazy ich-fungus?? What monster of a
disease can kill 200 healthy tetras and the most beautiful Betta in the
world, IN FOUR DAYS?? WHAT HATH NATURE WROUGHT?? <If nothing else, a
simple lesson: Quarantine new fish before adding them to a community.
When a bunch of fish die immediately after being added to a small
aquarium, it is overwhelmingly probable that water quality is the
issue. The other common problem is that the aquarist exposes the new
fish to dramatically different water chemistry. Contrary to myth, fish
can't "acclimate" in a couple of hours to changes in
water chemistry. It actually takes some days. Of course, we normally
impose on this, and only give the fish 30-60 minutes to adjust to the
new water chemistry conditions, but that still means that for a few
days they're in a delicate, disturbed phase proportional to how
different the old and new water chemistry conditions are. Now, I
mention this because some people unwittingly keep their fish in water
from domestic water softeners, which you should NEVER EVER do.> is
this just some horrible ich strain? (fish store owner said it was the
worst outbreak of any disease he had seen in all his years of
fish-keeping) <There are "super" Ick strains going about.
But rarely do they kill fish if treated properly. Certain medications
don't work at all on these stronger strains, though some do, for
example eSHa EXIT, a product widely available in Europe and the UK at
least. In addition, the old school salt/heat method will work too.>
finally, how the heck do I sanitize my tank? <You can't. Leave
it with no fish for at least two weeks running the salt/heat treatment.
The salt will kill any free-living parasites in the water, and the lack
of hosts means the mature parasites can't exist at all.> Thanks
so much for all the hard work you put in for the aquarist community and
our fish friends, you guys ARE AMAZING!!! Ryan <Cheers,
Fish shock, FW... hlth. 08/18/2008 I recently
added 3 new fish to my tropical tank, two are the exact same specie and
the third is another variety of the same species. When I attempted to
do my weekly gravel cleaning and water change I was removing
decorations from the tank. The new fish swam quickly from the other
side of the tank towards the decoration I was removing and slammed into
it. Then he floated around the tank for about 20 min.s barely breathing
before he fully recovered. I was wondering what I could do to reduce
his stress, I wasn't moving fast while removing decorations. Should
I get another fish of the same species, I know the pet store has one. I
also noticed my female guppy changes colour when my tank light is out,
she becomes pale but when the light comes back on she regains her
colour. I've tested ammonia and nitrites and there are none. Is
this normal for guppies to do, my other female doesn't seem to do
this though. <No, it's not normal. You should certainly be doing
everything you can to reduce stress on your fish while performing
maintenance. There's no reason to remove all the ornaments and
plants from a tank when cleaning it, assuming you're maintaining
the tank in a sensible way. If you do 25-50% water changes per week
(the correct amount/frequency) all you need to do is stir the gravel a
bit with your fingers and suck up any detritus with the siphon as the
water is taken out. The filter will handle everything else, assuming
it's adequate to the tank (I recommend choosing filters that offer
four times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour). Tanks only
become dirty if they are too small for the fish concerned, massively
overstocked, or completely under-maintained in terms of filtration and
water changes. Take care that any water added to the tank is identical
in chemistry and temperature to any water removed. Guppies do not like
dramatic changes in pH, and the use of marine salt mix (rather than
"tonic salt") at a low dose of around 3-6 grammes per litre
will help here by adding buffering capacity to the water. Generally
livebearers appreciate the addition of marine salt mix, but other types
of tropical fish do not, so review any tankmates carefully before doing
this. Do remember that Guppies need a tank at least 90 litres/20
gallons in size, with a proper filter. Males are aggressive towards one
another and pester females, and in smaller tanks this aggression causes
serious problems. So consider the size of the tank, as well as the
availability of hiding places, particularly floating plants, before
adding any more fish. You should always have twice as many females (at
least) than males if you want to