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FAQs on Catfish Disease/Health

Related Articles: CatfishesSucker mouth Cats/Loricariids, Otocinclus, Callichthyids, Ictalurid CatfishesMochokids/Synodontis, Candirus (Trichomycterids, Cetopsids), Marine Catfishes: Plotosids, Ariids

Related Catfish FAQs: General, Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, FeedingReproduction

catfish deformed and swimming upside down-Help! Emo, no data   10/18/10
Hello,
<Tara>
I have a 20gal fish tank with tropical fish and I am having issues with one of my catfish. I'm not sure his exact type; he is brown in color. I know it's a male, I have 2 other female catfish who lay eggs quite frequently and he doesn't ever! He is kind of old I guess, I've had him for 5 years. It's been more than 2 weeks and he has been swimming upside down and can't seem to be in balance. His tail and body has curved over the last 2 weeks so he's almost in a horseshoe shape swimming upside down and in circles. I'm surprised he hasn't died yet, I thought he was on his last legs (so to speak). I separated him once and he seemed like he was getting better after a couple days so I released him back into the tank. A few days later, I found him tangled in the plants and thought he was dead but he was moving around, swimming again all over the place. I put him back in the separate tank and he's been in there for a few days not looking good. His body seems to be failing him but his mind is still with it...I don't want to kill him, I don't know how and I'm too scared but I don't want him to suffer either. I can't tell if he's in pain or not. Is it too late or can I help him?
<Perhaps>
I tried putting fish medication
<?>
in the tank each day and I thought it was helping but I guess not. I don't think it's dropsy but I don't know for sure. It's been at least 10 days where he has been swimming wonky; he mainly lies on his side like in a rainbow shape...he hasn't eaten for like 10 days either....WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP HIM??
<Depends on cause, the actual issue... You've not proffered anything useful in the way of description, nor water quality test results, nor the make up  of the system, nor it's history... A photo or two would be nice...>
Please help with any ideas, I can't find anything on the net, Thank you so much!
It also looks like a neon is starting to swim weird...I put fresh water in bi-weekly (like a gallon) and change filter when it's dirty. I've had fish for over 20 years but haven't seen this before...anything I will appreciate huge! Thanks
--
*Tara
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/catfshdisfaqs.htm
for background, and to give you an idea of the sorts of information we
need. Write back when you're calm, have your thoughts together. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium catfish's death  3/14/08 Hello, A couple of weeks ago my pink, freshwater, aquarium catfish passed away. The night before he passed away he acted normally, swam, ate, etc. I noticed nothing abnormal at all and I had watched all of the fish for a few minutes while they were eating to see if there were any problems. I did not notice any. The next morning my catfish was floating behind the filter where food etc. is sometimes floats, he did not appear to be stuck. he was dead and ha what looked like internal bleeding. I could kind of see through him like always and it was completely bloody on the inside particularly on one side. Nothing else appeared abnormal except for the fact that he was dead. Why would this have happened? And none of my fish following his death have died. Thank You, Megan <Megan, I can't possibly answer this without more information. What sort of Catfish was this? I'm guessing an albino Corydoras but there are other albino catfish out there. What are the aquarium conditions? Specifically: How big is the tank? How often do you do water changes and how much? What is the nitrite level? What is the pH? Almost always mysterious deaths are caused by bad water quality, so your job is to review that first and foremost. Cheers, Neale.>

Iridescent Shark Eye Problems  12/23/07 I'm glad to have found your website, but unfortunately I have not found any cases similar to that of my Iridescent shark. I live in Florida, and during the winter the temperatures of the aquarium do not drop below 20 degrees Celsius, currently the aquarium has that temperature. <Well, this is a little cool for Pangasius hypophthalmus, which is presumably what we're talking about here. Something closer to 24-25 C would be better, and would keep the immune system operating properly, reducing problems with secondary infections.> The first day that a cold front came through my area the temperatures lowered to the temperature it has now (20 degrees Celsius), this first day, though, the iridescent two sharks that I have, their skin ( I guess I could say since they seem to not have scales) seemed crack as if it were frozen, but they weren't frozen. <Not 100% sure what this is, though skin damage is entirely possible, and certainly some types of secondary infection can cause thread-like wounds on the skin, essentially blistering.> Anyways, the next day one of the sharks had one cloudy eye and the other had both of its eyes cloudy. <Extremely common with this species. Pangasius hypophthalmus is a hyperactive and nervous fish, and when alarmed thrashes about the tank. Following this, the delicate eye surfaces get damaged and infections set in. If not precisely what happened here, the result is the same: an opportunistic secondary infection that needs to be treated using an appropriate anti-Finrot/anti-Fungus treatment of your choice (though I'd counsel against "mild" treatments such as Melafix).> The shark with both cloudy eyes also had red streaks under at the base of the pelvic fins. All the fins of both fish (dorsal, caudal, pectoral, pelvic, etc.) also became torn, and are all stringy. <Definitely Finrot. Treat as above.> The worst part, I consider, is that the shark with both eyes cloudy seems to be blind and can't really find its food (flakes). <Eyesight won't cause starvation, since these catfish, like other catfish, hunt for food primarily by taste/smell. So if healthy, they will find suitable food easily enough. But given they are sick, not treating the infection will lead to more serious problems, and ultimately death.> As for the aquarium, I maintain it very clean and the treatments I use are Aqua Safe (neutralizer), algae destroyer weekly, and Easy Balance weekly (chemical balancer). I clean the aquarium yearly, with 25 to 50 % water changes every two or 1 and a half months and monthly filter clean/change as well. <Hmm... for these fish I suspect your water maintenance regime is inadequate. 50% water changes WEEKLY would be the minimum. These are riverine fish that grow to over 1.3 meters in length (over 4 feet) and produce enormous amounts of waste. In fact, I'd consider them utterly inappropriate for home aquaria. That said, lots of people keep them and enjoy them, and maximum size in aquaria tends to be around the 30 cm/12" mark, which isn't too bad. But it is an inescapable fact that most Pangasius hypophthalmus end up deformed, scarred, or dead from secondary infections due to maintenance in too-small an aquarium. They do need big tanks with minimum decoration (danger or scratches) but plenty of floating plants to give a sense of security.> The Aquarium is well-oxygenated and I feed them daily. Currently, the heater is on and it maintains a stable temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. I also vacuum the gravel monthly with the siphon. <Warmer water will be essential to proper immune response; but you will also have to add some sort of antibacterial (e.g., eSHa 2000) or antibiotic (e.g., Maracyn II).> I really hope you can help me in determining the disease of my iridescent shark, and informing me of any possible way to treat it. If you need any further explanation, pictures, videos, or description e-mail as soon as you can, this is very urgent and I've had these fish over seven years and I would greatly appreciate your help. Thank you for your time. <Hope this has helped, Neale.>

Mysterious Catfish Deaths (and brown algae) 07/03/07 Hi crew, <Hello.> This is my first time writing to you. I have been an avid reader of your pages for almost a year, and I have gathered much information. I have also kept fish for quite a long time, and I have never encountered these problems. <OK.> Firstly, aquarium stats: 29 G glass bowfront, about 6 months old. Inhabitants include 3 green cories, 3 Oto, 1 medium angelfish, 4 various platies, 2 neon rainbowfish. Moderately planted (a couple of swords, sparse java moss, a couple java ferns, some floating elodea), 24 W T-5 lighting, no CO2 or air pump, filter for 60 G (300GPH). Ammonium, Nitrites = 0, Nitrates = 10 ppm. Substrate = Eco Complete. 1 piece of driftwood. pH = 8.x? (it is really high, and the tests have not been very accurate). Water changes are 25 - 30% once a week (very regular), siphoning the unplanted areas and under the driftwood and replacing with treated tap. <The high pH is alarming. It may be an issue with your test kit. Test kits designed for the "low end" around pH 5.5-7.5 tend to be inaccurate at the "high end" around pH 7.5-9.0, and vice versa. So, check that. Second, what's the pH of the water straight out the tap? Your selection of fish wants a pH around 7.2-7.5, but what matters more than pH is hardness, so you want to check that as well. If you live in an area supplied with exceptionally hard water (such as water from a limestone aquifer) you can easily have a pH slightly above 8.0. Not ideal for things like tetras and angels, though they can adapt.> Issues: Cories with degenerating barbels/fins. The cories (had 6 at first) were fine for the first few months. They grew from baby size into adult size and were super active. They also had nice fins and barbels. Then, java moss began growing everywhere, and their barbels started deteriorating. Then a couple died. I thought it might be the Java Moss collecting debris and making high local nitrates. But I cleared out almost all of it and the cories still seem to be suffering from fin rot/barbel degeneration. I put in a new Cory from QT a few weeks ago and it's barbels seemed to be deteriorating! Then it died. Why is this? All the mid to top dwelling fish (including the angel) are active and eating very well, and have nice fins. Also, the cories seem lethargic and hide under the driftwood all day, only coming out to get food. <Almost certainly the water quality at the bottom of the tank and especially in the substrate is suboptimal. The reason the new Corydoras died was it couldn't adapt to these conditions, whereas the old Corydoras have (to a degree) adapted. Anyway, check the water circulation. Many filters do a good job of moving water around the top of the aquarium but the water flow at the bottom can be relatively poor. If the Java Moss is accumulating silt, then that's a good clue that this might be the problem. Adjust the filter, or add an airstone or two at the bottom of the tank to improve water circulation.> Additionally, the otos like to hang out near the top of the tank. If I recall, they used to like hanging out on the plants. But there seems to be something bothering them because they hang near the surface and don't eat much algae. This lead me to think there was something near the bottom that bothers them, but I can't identify it. I do siphon the unplanted areas of the bottom every time I do a water change. <Sounds as if there's a lack of oxygen at the lower levels, again suggesting poor water flow. Otocinclus are fishes of fast-flowing streams, and are exceptionally sensitive to static water.> Is the Eco Complete doing something strange to the fish? What could the culprit be? Usually fin rot is associated with nitrates but I tested the water at the bottom of the aquarium, and the nitrates were at 10 ppm! (same as the surface). <I can't imagine the Eco Complete is the immediate problem. Are you using under tank heating of any kind? When using deep, rich substrates, under tank heating is recommended. Basically you thread a heater cable through the substrate, and when this is warm, it sets up convection currents that slowly circulates the water. Works very well and the plants thrive, but it's a little more expensive to do than a regular heater.> Finally, a there is a large amount of brown algae infestation in my tank. It is covering all of my plants and the java moss too, making it a furry brown carpet. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn't seem like there should be a lot of algae. Is the lighting causing this? I don't have a CO2 system, and it is not convenient for me to install one, so I was wondering if there was any other way to combat this problem. I don't mind the algae on the glass, because I can scrape it off, but the algae on the plants is what's bothering me. <Brown algae -- diatoms -- are almost always a problem in [a] new aquaria and [b] tanks with insufficient light. If your tank is more than a few months old, then the problem is probably lack of light. Fish and snails have modest impact on brown algae though they do eat some. Much better to boost the lighting levels. For various reasons plants prevent algae from growing when they are doing well. So make sure you have at least 2 Watts per gallon of water, and that you are using the right type of light (i.e., a plant-friendly one rather than a generic aquarium light).> Thanks for your advice, Alex <Good luck, Neale>

Catfish ich  4/8/07 Hello! <<Hi, Victor. Tom here.>> I have a somewhat urgent question, since I just added fish to a tank that already had a Pleco in it, but one of them had ich. <<Oops>> Unfortunately one of the additions is an angel catfish (Synodontis angelicus) and Im not sure what treatment to use so I do not harm him. Thank you for your time and best regards. <<Look into Kordons Pond Rid-Ich+, Victor. Its a re-formulation of the original (excellent) product and can be both safe and effective when used to treat scaleless fish like your Synodontis. Obviously, youll want to pay special note to any/all precautions and/or recommendations that the manufacturer makes in regard to treatment. As an aside, unless your tank is already heavily aerated, I would also look into providing for this in conjunction with the treatment. Best of luck.>> Victor Teran <<Tom>>

Death of Bottom-Feeders - 04/04/2007 Recently I added 4 sm. Cichlids (Malawi) and 2 lg. Synodontis multipunctatus to a 55 gallon tank that had been semi-vacant for about 3 months.  The story on the tank:  In December I experienced a power outage that lasted 4 days (cold, cold weather) which killed everything in the tank except the Pleco. (after a 7 year run and 1 tank born & raised cichlid)  Since the Pleco. was still going strong, I left the tank running (e.g. heater, filter still running). Three weeks ago I decided to put some fish back in the tank.  So I serviced the bio-wheel filter and did a 15% water change; checked pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels.  Everything looked fine. <So far, so good.> So I added the livestock mentioned above.  All was well for the first 2.5 weeks.  The fish all appeared happy, healthy, and active (eating well too).  Then, I came home to a dead Synodontis.  The other Synodontis looked to be struggling (i.e. acting sluggish, non active, etc.).  The next day I came home, the other Synodontis was dead as well.  I also noticed at this time that the Pleco. (whom had been in this tank for 7 years and survived the power outage) was acting out of character.  Pleco. pronounced dead about 6 hours later. <Very odd. If it is only bottom feeders that died, there are two obvious possibilities. One is something toxic only they were eating. Not likely, but possible. Perhaps a batch of catfish food past the sell-by date, or some bad seafood put in for them it. The more likely possibility is lack of oxygen through poor water circulation, perhaps coupled with anoxic decay somewhere in the substrate. Hydrogen sulphide can develop in pockets where anoxic decay occurs, and the gas produced is lethal to fish. But because it oxidizes very quickly to something harmless, it is most dangerous at the bottom of the tank where it hasn't had a chance to oxidize. Having said this, while I've seen lots of anoxia in garden ponds and to some extent aquaria, I've yet to see it cause fish deaths. I'm sure it happens, it just isn't all that common. A third possibility is that it isn't swimming position that matters, but taxonomy. Catfish are (supposedly) more sensitive to copper than many other fish groups. Is it possible that too much copper got into the water somehow? Medications are one source, but usually the dosages are too low to cause harm. But my thing here is that if this was the case, it would have to be something you did around the time the Synodontis were introduced, given the plec was fine before that. The fact the cichlids are fine is decidedly odd; the one time I've seen a sudden dying-off of fish because chemicals were accidentally spilled into an aquarium, the cichlids were the first to go, and the catfish mostly survived. So to be honest, I'm stumped.> Meanwhile all 4 cichlids appear completely normal.  Again all relevant parameters were measured and all is normal.  I did a water change and got down in the gravel with the siphon but am very confused as to the death of the bottom-feeding livestock in tank. <That's certainly what I would have done, thoroughly cleaned the entire tank. In fact, my temptation would be to chuck away all the old substrate and install something new, in case the coral sand or whatever you has is polluted somehow. I can't think how exactly, but since coral sand is cheap, it's a bit of no-brainer really.> I hope you can help and thanks in advance for your time. <Sorry couldn't be of more help. But so long as the tank is cleaned and the water is changes 100%, you should be safe to have another go.> Lon Hoover <Cheers, Neale>

Re:.... Help with fish question  10/24/06 Thanks for your response. <Welcome> The cats have made a few changes over the last week. First I have noticed one of the other fish has a smaller set of the "fins." I am waiting to see if they are going to get larger or not. The first cat, the one that developed the extra equipment, well the "fins" shrank some. Now they are quite a bit smaller. Also same fish has a swollen stomach. Even when I have not fed them. <Good observation, bad sign> The fish are less active now, than when I wrote to you. They are all still eating well. I have not noticed any changes in coloration that was not there when we bought them. One cat, the one that has the biggest set of extra equipment is and always has been several degrees darker on his whole body than the other two cats, and with a slightly taller dorsal fin. I doubt I will get babies out of them but its an interesting thought. Cindy <Please do include previous correspondence when you refer to it... Bob Fenner>

Catfish with excessive body slime... query with deficient info.   1/14/06 Hello I have a Brachyramdia marthae that has a lot of excessive body slime I have treated the tank for body slime and no effect. <Mmm... are slimy in good health... though, as you state, can be overly so... What did you "treat" with?> the tank has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 10 ppm nitrate. Please help me figure out what's wrong with him. I don't want to lose him. Thank you, CJ <...? What re your system, water quality, foods/feeding... Bob Fenner>

Re: catfish with excessive body slime I have a soft water system. <An ion-exchange type? Could be simply the excess sodium here> I already gave you my water quality but I do have a pH of 7. I have been feeding TetraMin basic food flakes and shrimp pellets. <Need more variety, nutrition... some fresh, meaty foods> As of right now his tankmates are 5 Glowlight tetras, 5 five Columbian tetra (Hyphessobrycon sp.), a bumble bee catfish (Microglanis sp.), 12 ghost shrimp, a flying fox, 2 clown loaches, and 5 gold tetras (?). Unfortunately my catfish died, but I would like to know what to treat for if other fish start showing symptoms. Thanks, CJ <I would not "treat" this tank per se... but add at least half "non-softened" water with changes if you have a salt-recharged unit, and broaden the foods selection. Bob Fenner>

RTC with bloat or dropsy? HELP!!! Phractocephalus  12/20/2005 I have a 2 ft long RTC in a 400gallon aquarium. Recently his stomach has swollen many times its original size and I do not know if this means that he is suffering from dropsy or bloat. <Could be n/either... but... from what cause? Most such symptoms are from mis- and over-feeding in this large pimelodid> He is still very hungry and the distended stomach appeared just one morning, subsided the next, and reappeared at night, all while I did not put any food in the tank! <Are all tankmates accounted for?> He appears distressed and has turned rather dark in colour, and there is some bleeding at his stomach. How do I treat him or tell if he has been infected by bacteria? Help please!!! <This fish can/could be injected with antibiotics... in a timely manner... but need to know much more re the system, water make-up, maintenance, foods/feeding to proffer an opinion. Bob Fenner>

Catfish Dying Off  12/10/05 I have a dilemma which no one in the local resources seems to be able to answer. I have had Pictus catfish within the last year and within a month all three suddenly died. They were swimming around fairly active and eating well and one morning they died within 10 minutes of each other. The other fish (red tiger cichlids, 2 Palo shark and 1 common Plecos) did fine and have displayed no strange behaviours. Then I tried two silver tip (Columbian) catfish. They were fine for about three weeks then started to die. One this morning. The other fish are fine. The catfish was fine last night swimming around between the cave and the open tank (30 gallon). I changed the water last night and checked the levels based on the testing system purchased and all levels indicate either "ideal" or "safe" conditions.  Any advice or guidance would be appreciated. I have not had fish for some time (about 15 years) and maybe I am not doing something correctly.  I hate to bring any other catfish into the tank until I know what I am doing incorrectly. Thank you, Shauna < The fish you are having problems with are sensitive to copper. New copper pipes in the water system may be a cause. Sometimes rocks have copper in them that can leach out into the water. Check the pH too. Wide changes in pH are tough on catfish.-Chuck>

Rid-Ich Affecting Catfish  11/7/05 The guy at the pet store told me it was ok to put Rid-Ich in the tank with my Raphael catfish. He started staying up at the top of the tank gasping for air. I took him out and put him in another tank. He is on the bottom breathing very hard. Looking swollen. I checked the water and others. Ok. I have a horrible feeling my baby is going to die before you get this. I wanted to know if it was to late for him or is there something I can buy to make him better.  Peetsi <Rid-Ich is a very good medication. Rid-Ich is an older form of a malachite green and formalin combination that was found to be very toxic to scaleless fish such as catfish and loaches. It is to be used at half the recommended dosage and says so on the bottle. A new formulation came out a couple of years ago called Rid-Ich+.  This is suppose to be a safer medication than its earlier formula. The clerk may have confused between the two different bottles, especially if both were on the shelf. They still look almost identical. You did the right thing by removing him from the tank. Place him in a net in a quiet corner of the tank with plenty of aeration and hope for the best. There is no antidote for you fish and it will try and purge the copper from its system over time.-Chuck> 

Pinkish Pictus - 10/20/2005 Dear Wet Web Media <Good morning, Charlotte.> I am hoping you can help me, we have two pictus catfish which we have had for just over a year.  They seem to be fine, but the larger one of the two has developed a pink hue to the tail and fins.  Is this normal <Unlikely.> or could it have joint problems as these are the jointed parts of the body? <Mm, actually, likelier that this is some sort of irritation....  likely due to environmental conditions.  With no information on your system, this really can't be diagnosed.> They live in a community planted aquarium and get on very well with our four yoyo loaches.  They are fed frozen blood worm and cat pellets in the main as have never shown an interest in other varieties of live and frozen food we have tried.  I did search your site for a similar question but couldn't see anything there.  Thank you so much for your time and consideration. <Test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm with water changes....  and go on from there.> Charlotte <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Redtail catfish in distress  10/4/05 I have a redtail catfish who all of a sudden wound up with shriveled up antennae and shredding of fins and tail.. <Due to?> Jimmy as we call him had an unbelievable appetite and now hardly wants to eat  ...   Help, we  have had him since he was 2 inches long and he is now a bit over 12  inches.. <Something is likely off with your water quality (loss of alkaline reserve, dropping pH, high organics...) and/or disease from an outside source (live food/s)... Which is it? How will you correct? Bob Fenner> If you could answer me at 0@aol.com I would GREATLY  appreciate it.  Thank you in advance for your help .....   Nancy PS there is nothing else in the tank with him, he ate all the fish a very long time ago!!!!

Cory Catfish With Fuzzy Fin  9/29/05 Hi, there.  I've recently made some new additions to my ten-gallon heated tank to replace some of the PetCo casualties (does anyone else have issues with being sold unhealthy fish from them?).  Anyways, right now the tank has 1 yellow platy, 1 white molly, 1 apple snail, and 2 Cory cats.  Things have been going fine over the past two weeks, but I recently noticed that one of the Cory cats has a fuzzy white growth on one of his pectoral fins.  It almost looks like a dandelion seed spore, the ones that little kids like to blow on and scatter.  It doesn't seem to affect his swimming, but it's just weird looking. This is probably a fungus, from what I've read about in the other FAQ's.  Do I need to buy him some medicine, and will it be safe to have in the tank with the other fish?  Will he get better on his own?  Can the snail help clean up the fungus in the tank in any way? Thanks a bunch! < When your catfish was caught at the store his pectoral fin got caught in the net and got damaged. This damaged area has now become fungused. Take a wet cotton ball and rub off the fungus. Then treat the hospital tank with Nitrofurazone for a few days and the fin will grow back.-Chuck>.

Strange problem with new Cory cat  9/11/05 Hello! <Hi there> First, I would like to thank everyone at WWM for the awesome collection of information.  The articles are particularly good.  I've searched the archived FAQ's and cannot find anything that matches the problem I'm experiencing with a new Corydoras sterbai.  I bought three of these little guys almost two weeks ago.  They are all approximately 1" in length, and have been adjusting happily in my 10 Gallon quarantine tank.  On the ninth day, I noticed one of the new catfish had a white colored blotch between his eyes, approximately 2 mm in diameter.  It does not appear to be fungus, as there is nothing fuzzy protruding from the blotch.  Nor is it deep, it doesn't appear to make an indentation at all.  What really concerns me with this fish are the little nasal "flaps" normally associated with Corydoras catfish.  They are now absent from this fish, and the nasal passages appear reddish and inflamed.  I inspected these fish prior to purchase, and I am confident all three were intact prior to bringing them home.  What can this be? <Common... from rubbing... on the bag in transit, on the glass... in captivity. Happily, most always repairs, grows back> The other two Corydoras are perfectly healthy.   There is nothing sharp or abrasive in the QT tank to have inflicted injury, nor could it have been caused by other fish as these three have been in there alone.  The QT tank housing them has been cycled for several months, ammonia/nitrite read 0.0, nitrate reads very low, somewhere between 1-3 ppm.  To be safe, I moved the two healthy Corydoras to another cycled QT tank today, a smaller 5 gallon rendition.  The only thing I have added to help the sick Cory is 4 mg of aquarium salt.  I'm afraid to go much over that as Corydoras are not very salt tolerant. <Yes, correct> Wouldn't you know the fish store I purchased these from have a 7 day guarantee?  As I said, this problem showed up on the ninth day, so now it's on me to try and help the little guy.  The fish is swimming normally.  He's always on the move, digging around for food.  He ate several thawed bloodworms last night, with a good deal of enthusiasm I might add.  And even though his nasal passages seem reddish, he is breathing normally.  Any help you could lend on this matter would be much obliged. Many thanks, Brook     <Good observations, carefully related. I would not be overly concerned here... the red coloring should abate, and the fish appear more "normal" in time. Bob Fenner> Dead Ghost Catfish 8/19/05 Mr. Fenner- <Sean> Just over a week ago I added a Ghost Cat to my tank (also just after I did a full water replacement and tank clean) <Mmm, better to never entirely clean a going system out...> and just this morning the Ghost Cat was resting peacefully  on the bottom.  The night before he was happy and eating, nothing appeared wrong with him at all. I found him cloudy white (barely transparent), but other than that he looked fine no damage as far as I could tell and there was a black AND red stripe down the middle of him.  <Ah, yes> Me not knowing what a dead Ghost cat looks like I'm not sure if that's a bad sign or not. If you can shed some light on this, thanks. -Sean B-R <Is a bad sign... know that catfishes actually are "scale-less"... some are naked, like your cat, and others are armored... the close exposure to their liquid environment can spell trouble if this is toxic, variable... the water change here is very likely what is at fault... take care to make only frequent, partial water changes. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid and Catfish Questions  08/08/2005 Hi.  I hope you can help me. I wanted to post this question on your bulletin board, but am not sure how to get back there.  Also, if it's not a 911 question, I'm not sure where to type the question.  It seemed like the 911 questions were responded to, in live time.  Anyway, please advise me. < Questions are usually answered in 24 hours. Sometimes the best, most qualified person on the crew to answer a specific question is unavailable, vacations, work, etc... So other members may wait a few days until that person returns or another crew member is able to research the answer. Someone usually gets to a question after 3 days.> 1) About disinfecting the containers, nets, and aquarium divider, etc. I read a couple of different things, but I don't feel comfortable using bleach, b/c of it's strong properties.  Is it alright to use the following, as noted somewhere on your site:  37% standard stock concentration of formaldehyde w/ Methylene Blue added?  What measurement of each and How much?  Then what about the rinse?  Is it just plain tap water?  How long to soak in the first bucket?  Second?  Please let me know if this is enough to kill any bacteria or whatever might be lurking on these plastic ornaments and containers, and nets, etc.  I am not talking about bleaching white items white. I'm talking about killing germs and fungus so it will not affect new or other fish if these containers had fish in them with a disease at one time in the past. < All of these procedures are dependent on what you want to accomplish. Sterilizing a tank is usually a waste of time. I would recommend that you wash everything in hot water with dish soap and a soft brush. Just like you would wash dishes. I figure if it is clean enough to eat off of then it should be clean enough for new fish.> 2) I have a 29 gallon African Cichlid Tank with One zebra (1.5 inches long) , two yellow labs ( 1 fem 3 inches long & 1male 3.5 inches long),) 1 upside down catfish SIX INCHES LONG (***which I have observed 'TWISTING WHILE SWIMMING' at times,) and I believe a Peacock (3 1/2 -four inches) .  There used to be a two year old Pleco, but after growing up w/ these others, they poked his eyes out and ultimately killed him.  I was shocked! He began at the size of 1 inch and grew to about 5 inches w/in two years.  I was surprised that they others would harm a Pleco that grew up with them.  I believe either they were threatened by his size, or it was b/c the Pleco began eating whatever food I was dropping inside the tank when I fed the others at night.  I now realize that he should've been eating veggie disks.  Perhaps if he wasn't on the top, along w/ the rest of them eating food I just dropped in, that wouldn't have  happened.   3) But since he's been gone (about two months time frame) the algae seemed to turn into fungus on the plastic plants in my tank--like stringy whitish fuzzy things.)  Which is why I needed to know about sterilizing them.  Actually, I trimmed the leaves of the plastic plants earlier today, but need to know what to do w/ the rest of the stuff as noted above.  Now I realize that I NEED A PLECO in there, to keep  it clean BUT NEED TO KNOW  WHAT SIZE to get!  WHAT DO YOU ADVISE? <African cichlids are actually pretty good algae eaters. In the wild they scrape algae off of rocks and plants. They are also opportunistic feeders and have found about the pleco's week spot. The eyes will always be picked on by the cichlids.> I DON'T WANT THEM TO GO AFTER THIS NEW ONE, TOO!  I will be getting this tomorrow.  I wanted to add another one or two yellow female labs, but can't seem to locate ones large enough.  I'm afraid of the fungus growing back on the plastic plants, so I figured I should just add he Pleco tomorrow, although my goal was to add the two or three fish at the same time.  Generally, approx. how much does it cost to purchase a Fem. Yellow Lab that's around 33-4 inches?  do you have any ideas? < Algae is usually caused by excessive nutrients in the water with strong light. I would recommend that you feed your fish once each day. Make sure all the food is gone after two minutes. Check the nitrates. They should be under 25 ppm. If not then clean the filter and do a 30% water change while vacuuming the gravel. Keep the lights on only when you are watching you fish. Feed flake food high in Spirulina algae. There are many web sites that sell yellow Labidochromis. Do a google search and hopefully you can find a vendor in your area with adults for sale. Wild fish are very expensive and can cost up to $50 each. Tank raised fish are usually much less expensive.> 4) Is a TWISTING MOTION normal for an Upside Down Catfish to exhibit sometimes?  (swimming fast and twisting?)  Or is this just aggressive behavior. < Synodontis catfish are often switching positions. It is pretty normal.>   5) Lastly, my male yellow lab seems to have scraped the surface off his skin on top of his head right before the fin begins going across the top of him.  IT looked like a pointy object could've broken the yellow skin, and appears to be white.  It's NOT like a crystal white.  Is this perhaps something he could've gotten from the plastic plants when they had fungus on them?  Do you have any ideas? < It is probably a scrape from hitting a rock. If it is fuzzy then it has been attacked by a fungus and should be treated with Nitrofurazone.> It seems like he hasn't been eating all the food I drop in there. He seems to be swimming around while I feed the rest of them, but afterwards does take in and spit out one of the foods I feed them.  Besides that, he seems to tread water about three inches below the rotating BioWheel and hangs out there some of the time.  Is this reason for concern? < May be an internal bacterial infection. Isolate and treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package to be sure.> Thank you in advance, for your speedy response!  I need to take care of this stuff TOMORROW :-) Please respond as soon as you can. You're the Best!  From, "Kinda New with Fish. < Thanks for the kind words and good luck.-Chuck>   

Preventative net/gear dips, killed Pleco w/ African Cichlids, injury... panic 8/9/05 Hi.  I hope you can help me. I wanted to post this question on your bulletin board, but am not sure how to get back there.  Also, if it's not a 911 question, I'm not sure where to type the question.  IT seemed like the 911 questions were responded to, in live time.  Anyway, please advise me.   1) About disinfecting the containers, nets, and aquarium divider, etc. I read a couple of different things, but I don't feel comfortable using bleach, b/c of it's strong properties.  Is it alright to use the following, as noted somewhere on your site:  37% standard stock concentration of formaldehyde w/ Methylene Blue added? <You can... is this necessary though? Are you a commercial establishment... with lots of livestock coming/going? Most home hobbyists don't need, nor should want to use a prophylactic dip> What measurement of each and How much?   <An ounce per five nominal gallons...> Then what about the rinse?   <Just freshwater, changed out daily> Is it just plain tap water?  How long to soak in the first bucket?  Second?   <A rinse in both... a second or so> Please let me know if this is enough to kill any bacteria or whatever might be lurking on these plastic ornaments and containers, and nets, etc.  I am not talking about bleaching white items white. I'm talking about killing germs and fungus so it will not affect new or other fish if these containers had fish in them with a disease at one time in the past.   2) I have a 29 gallon African Cichlid Tank with One zebra (1.5 inches long) , two yellow labs ( 1 fem 3 inches long & 1male 3.5 inches long),) 1 upside down catfish SIX INCHES LONG (***which I have observed 'TWISTING WHILE SWIMMING' at times,) <Happens, no worries> and I believe a Peacock (3 1/2 -four inches) .  There used to be a two year old Pleco, but after growing up w/ these others, they poked his eyes out and ultimately killed him. <Not uncommon with Mbunas> I was shocked! He began at the size of 1 inch and grew to about 5 inches w/in two years.  I was surprised that they others would harm a Pleco that grew up with them.  I believe either they were threatened by his size, or it was b/c the Pleco began eating whatever food I was dropping inside the tank when I fed the others at night.  I now realize that he should've been eating veggie disks.  Perhaps if he wasn't on the top, along w/ the rest of them eating food I just dropped in, that wouldn't have  happened.   3) But since he's been gone (about two months time frame) the algae seemed to turn into fungus on the plastic plants in my tank--like stringy whitish fuzzy things.)  Which is why I needed to know about sterilizing them.  Actually, I trimmed the leaves of the plastic plants earlier today, but need to know what to do w/ the rest of the stuff as noted above.  Now I realize that I NEED A PLECO in there, to keep  it clean BUT NEED TO KNOW  WHAT SIZE to get!  WHAT DO YOU ADVISE?  I DON'T WANT THEM TO GO AFTER THIS NEW ONE, TOO!   <Will, likely> I will be getting this tomorrow.  I wanted to add another one or two yellow female labs, but can't seem to locate ones large enough.  I'm afraid of the fungus growing back on the plastic plants, so I figured I should just add the Pleco tomorrow, although my goal was to add the two or three fish at the same time.  Generally, approx. how much does it cost to purchase a Fem. Yellow Lab that's around 3, 3-4 inches?  do you have any ideas?   <Nope... and the cichlid folks here didn't respond to you in a day... so I am. You can look up what etailers are selling these for on the Net> 4) Is a TWISTING MOTION normal for an Upside Down Catfish to exhibit sometimes?  (swimming fast and twisting?)  Or is this just aggressive behavior.    <Normal> 5) Lastly, my male yellow lab seems to have scraped the surface off his skin on top of his head right before the fin begins going across the top of him.  IT looked like a pointy object could've broken the yellow skin, and appears to be white.  It's NOT like a crystal white.  Is this perhaps something he could've gotten from the plastic plants when they had fungus on them?  Do you have any ideas?  It seems like he hasn't been eating all the food I drop in there. He seems to be swimming around while I feed the rest of them, but afterwards does take in and spit out one of the foods I feed them.  Besides that, he seems to tread water about three inches below the rotating BioWheel and hangs out there some of the time.  Is this reason for concern?   <Likely a physical injury from tussling about...> Thank you in advance, for your speedy response!  I need to take care of this stuff TOMORROW :-) Please respond as soon as you can. You're the Best!  From, "Kinda New with Fish.     <Take ten, make that twenty deep breaths... and skip the Pleco, add filtration, more maintenance to your regimen... I would not use a net dip here... for sterilization or cleaning your ornaments... too toxic, too much trouble... there are articles and FAQs files posted on WWM re set-up, maintenance of freshwater systems, go, read there. Bob Fenner>

Pink growth/ protrusion on catfish 8/2/05 Hi We have got a small black spiny catfish, with white spots. Had him for  about 10 days. Just noticed a pink, furry protrusion around his/her anal area.   <Mmm, likely a "secondary" bacterial infection... from being moved, perhaps being tangled on a net...> Also his tummy looks smaller, as he has looked like a little ball with head and tail since we got him. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there early this morn, he is swimming around ok  and doesn't seem affected by it behaviour wise. We have been feeding fish flake, bloodworms and brine shrimp since we got him.     Can you advise what it might be and what we can  do? <I would "do" nothing at this point other than provide good care. Chances are this infection will cure of its own accord. Much more dangerous to try "treating" with chemicals. Bob Fenner>

Sick Cory Catfish 7/26/05 Hey gang, I'm back to seek your advice once again. I have three bronze Cory catfish in a 3 gallon quarantine tank. The tank is filtered, unheated (temp 21-23c) and not cycled, but I am doing daily water changes to keep the toxins down. The eventual destination for these fish will be my 10 gallon tank, currently occupied by a male Betta. Anyways, two of these three Corys are doing fine, but the third is ill....fins clamped, listless, and not very interested in food, although he does eat a little. I've had these fish for five days now. I matched pH and temperature when I transferred these fish into the 3 gal. tank; chances of some foreign substance having gotten into the tank or water are minimal. I can't think of anything else I might have done wrong.  I guess I'm not looking for a diagnosis, as this fish's behaviour is a symptom of pretty much every disease out there...but is there anything you recommend that might help this little guy? I'm continuing to do my best to provide ideal conditions for this fish, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Thanks in advance for your help! JM < Get a heater and raise the water temp to around 27C and treat with Nitrofuranace, watch for ich. Keep the water clean and maybe use some softer water until a cure is completed.-Chuck>

Cory problem I have 37 gallon community tank set up that is just getting back to full speed after a store whose name I won't mention, but whose initials are WM. sold me a Pleco with a virulent case of ich that was not obvious when I purchased him. <Happens... all the time> Despite aggressive treatment, I lost all my fish (some of which I had had for years) except for 4 rosy barbs (tough little suckers) most on a horrific night where I lost one an hour.  Anyway, I do have a point.  Over the last 3 months, I have been adding back fish mostly tiger barbs (9 of them now) from a reputable LFS.  I recently added two green Cory cats, but noticed that one of them has what appears to be tumors.  Two on it's side and one on it's tail.  The ones on the side appear to be under the scales or the same color as the scales.  All are rather perfectly round and small about the size of a bb.  Do you have any idea what this could be, how I can treat it and if it is contagious?  Any help would be appreciated.  I don't want a repeat of what happened a few months ago.  Thanks so much.  You guys have always been a great help! <I do have a pretty strong suspicion re the identification of these spots... they're either encysted worms (likely nematodes) or microsporideans... either way not really treatable nor catching. No problem. Glad to see/state that you stayed in the hobby. Bob Fenner>

Cory problem I have 37 gallon community tank set up that is just getting back to full speed after a store whose name I won't mention, but whose initials are WM. sold me a Pleco with a virulent case of ich that was not obvious when I purchased him. <Happens... all the time> Despite aggressive treatment, I lost all my fish (some of which I had had for years) except for 4 rosy barbs (tough little suckers) most on a horrific night where I lost one an hour.  Anyway, I do have a point.  Over the last 3 months, I have been adding back fish mostly tiger barbs (9 of them now) from a reputable LFS.  I recently added two green Cory cats, but noticed that one of them has what appears to be tumors.  Two on it's side and one on it's tail.  The ones on the side appear to be under the scales or the same color as the scales.  All are rather perfectly round and small about the size of a bb.  Do you have any idea what this could be, how I can treat it and if it is contagious?  Any help would be appreciated.  I don't want a repeat of what happened a few months ago.  Thanks so much.  You guys have always been a great help! <I do have a pretty strong suspicion re the identification of these spots... they're either encysted worms (likely nematodes) or microsporideans... either way not really treatable nor catching. No problem. Glad to see/state that you stayed in the hobby. Bob Fenner>

Upside Down cat Hi, I have a fairly new tropical fish tank (less than a year) and a small catfish. I have just noticed it swimming upside down (it is not an upside-down catfish!). It will right itself but every now and then it turns over. Is this normal? It's swimming seems quite erratic. It floats around with the flow and jerks about. Does it have a swim bladder problem? I heard this could be caused by over feeding but seeing as it doesn't eat the food I put on the surface for the other fishes, rather being a catfish it roots around the bottom of the tank.  Thanks, Alex <Many Synodontis catfish swim upside down at times , even though they are not called upside down cats. The floating and jerking sounds a little weird if it happens all the time. If you really think that there is an internal bacterial problem then treat the tank with Metronidazole.-Chuck> 

Catfish and TB I have a 20 gal freshwater tank which has been up and running for 13 months. I have recently had problems with a disease affecting my neon tetras and zebra danios. The symptoms include wasting and bent spine but normal feeding. My LFS recommended EM treatment but now my research indicates a bacterial disease such as TB or Neon disease. Advice seems to be that any bacterial disease is untreatable and that the best thing to do is clean the tank and start again. The majority of the fish are tetras and danios with a couple of guppies. Research again suggests that these species are most susceptible to these diseases. I am hoping to be able to save my Cory cat who has been in the tank for nearly a year but I'm not sure if he will remain a carrier even if he doesn't develop symptoms. Can he be saved, if so how long should I quarantine him, and how best to clean the tank. I am probably just being sentimental and should euthanize the lot but I would like to do the right thing. Hope you can help. Tim <A subject I asked about not too long ago. I also had some bent Danios in with my Corys and Plecos. Most of the people I have asked about this subject say all the fish in the tank should be put down and the tank bleached. But one person pointed out that she could find no reference to TB in catfish. At that time I had four Corys and five Plecs in that tank. No way I could put them all down. So I only removed the dither fish. All the cats are still alive, active and seem healthy. One pair of plecs have bred four times since the outbreak. All the fry seem fine. So, the combined wisdom of our site is to start over, completely. But my one time experience is that the Cory should be fine. My own personal theory, based on nothing at all, is that nature has endowed these mud sucking, bottom dwelling scavengers, that I love so much, with one hell of an immune system. At least that's what I'm betting. But with only the one Cory, you may decide not to gamble as I did. That would be the smart play. Don>

Spotted Raphael blistered Hi- I have a Spotted Raphael Catfish that has blisters. I had it for a few month before the blisters started to appear. I read several things on it, but nothing that tells me what is good to get rid of the blisters. The catfish seems healthy, he eats and swims around just find. He still getting more blisters. I can see if there are worms on the blisters - this was something I read in one of the cases. I would like to know if anyone with this problem has had any success getting read of the blisters. < The blisters are really bacterial infections eating away the flesh of the fish. Treat with Nitrofuranace after you do a 30% water change and serviced the filter.-Chuck> Thanks Jose

Big Cat Stays Small Hello me again. Thank you for the info. on my Sorubim lima but I have one more question. Why at seven years old is he only 5-6 inches long? Thank you CJ <The three most likely reason are poor water quality, poor diet, and a small tank. Could be any or all. Don>   

Three Pleco Deaths I have a 26Gal community tank. Over the years I've only had a few Plecos. My common Pleco, which I had for 2 years and was 6-8" long, just died. He used to have a great appetite, but I hadn't seen him eat in at least a month. I gave him things like zucchini and Spirulina discs, which he loved. Over the last couple of months I had added 2 other Plecos at different times. A chocolate Pleco and an albino -- both were very young and small. The first lasted a few weeks, the albino lasted about a month. I hardly, if ever, saw either of them eat, despite the availability of food. I do have some Corys and my other fish graze food at the bottom of the tank, but they posed little competition for the Plecos who had ample opportunity to eat. My tank is also abundantly planted. The chemistry is fine. I always fed them after the light went out, which is on a timer. The water is very clear except recently I noticed what looks like suds that accumulate around the surface edges of the water. Water changes don't get rid of them for very long. The suds appeared long after the Plecos stopped eating. I've never used any cleaners or soaps on the tank. The rest of the fish are fine. Any ideas as to why they weren't eating and where those suds are coming from. Sara <Hi Sara, Don here. Sounds like you are feeding them correctly, so my second thought is water conditions. You say it's fine, but what are you testing for and what are the readings? Three is a lot of Pleco for a 26 gallon tank. It may be high nitrates. I also see more bubbles on the surface when my nitrates start to climb. Try to keep them below 20ppm. If confirmed you need to increase your water change schedule. Also check ammonia and nitrite. Both must be at zero. Plecos use a lot of O2 and nitrites effect the gills. If ammonia or nitrite are present, do water changes to correct and add more bio filtration or reduce the number of fish.>    

Eye Problems in QT Hi, this is Alvin here. I have a question regarding the Limas shovel nose catfish. I bought it a week ago and it has been in my quarantine tank since. However I noticed that one of its eye is enlarged. It does not seem like pop eye as the eye is just enlarged, not swollen. I am rather puzzled, have never seen anything like this before. Hope you can give me some advice. Thank you. Alvin <Hi Alvin, Don here. Cool fish, hope you have a big tank. Have you been testing the QT? Changing the water? Most eye problems start with poor water conditions, which are common in a QT. I'm not sure what you mean by "enlarged, but not swollen" but I would do a large water change and add some Epsom salt>

Big Cat, Poor Water Hello its Me Again. <Hi Mr. Again, Don here> I would like to know what I should do since my 7 year old Sorubim lima has a red spot on the tip of it's head. What should I do? I have removed what I think caused it. Also every so often it's upper barbels turn white and frays. For that I normally a water change and it fixes that problem. Should I do the same thing? Or what? Help!!!!! Thanks for your help CJ <Well CJ, you should be doing water changes before conditions cause his barbels to fray. I suggest you test the tank for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. In a well established tank ammonia and nitrite will remain at zero. Do water changes to correct any spikes. Nitrates should be below 20ppm. As long as ammonia and nitrite are at zero, set up a water change schedule that keeps nitrates below 20ppm. If the red spot on his head was caused by a bump, the fresh water is all he will need to heal. Nice fish BTW, good luck with him. Don>

Sick Pleco Hi guys and gals. I've had a Pleco for about 2 months, rarely see him, but know he's in there doing his thing. Over the last week or so, I have seen him a fair bit and noticed that he has developed a white spot on his side/back that is surrounded in a milky colored haze (mucus?) I have been looking around the web to determine the cause, but not too successfully. The fish seems fine, i.e. not rubbing against things, energy seems good but like I said, I never really saw him before, now I do, so that's different. Any thoughts here on what it might be and what I should do?  By the way, the other fish seem fine. 35 gal tank. 12 fish, mainly tetras, platies, etc... Would appreciate any help. Thanks tons, Dave <Hi Dave, Don here. This could be a Protozoan infestation called Chilodonella. Treat the fish with Metronidazole for about 10 days. Should clear it right up. Move him to a QT if possible. Test the water whenever treating and correct any spikes in ammonia or nitrite with water changes. Replace med in new water. Good luck. Don> Eye Problems I have an iridescent catfish. <Wow! Do you know the adult size of this monster?> Inside the eye casing is pinkish-orangish fungus looking growth. It is pushing his eye out slightly in the corner where the disease is. Might this be pop eye, or something else? I have no idea what to do, but I want to help my fish. <Most eye disorders start due to poor water conditions. If you're testing the water, and you should, look for any ammonia or nitrite, or high nitrate. Do water changes to correct. Adding some Epsom salt may reduce the swelling and save the eye. If it gets any worse try Erythromycin. But it will do little good if the water conditions are not pristine before treating. Don> -Erin

Ill catfish Robert- My iridescent catfish is only 2.5 inches long. He is mostly brown with iridescent green on his operculum. I got him for Wal-Mart, so perhaps it really has a different name? How much Epsom salt in a 10 gallon tank would you recommend for the eye? < For cloudy eyes I would recommend Nitrofuranace or Myacin. Keep the water clean and change the filter before you medicate. The medication sometimes affects the good bacteria that break down the fish waste so watch for ammonia spikes.-Chuck> PS. thanks for helping me out! I love my fish! -Erin

A Sick Pleco Hello, I just recently emptied my 29 gallon tank and cleaned it while I was redecorating my bedroom. Two days after I had the tank up and running again, my parent's cleaning lady found my 7+ inch Plecostomus, that I have had for 3 years, laying on the carpet. She put it in a bowl of water, changed the water twice then when I got home about 4 hours later I put the fish back in the tank. Today I noticed what looks like blood dripping off the fins and sore spots on the stomach area. I have read on the internet about Septicemia and Red Pest. I don't know what to do with him (or her). Can you help? < Any time fish are handled the hand or net needs to be wet. Anything dry removes the fishes protective slime that prevents them from bacterial infections. The bouncing around on the carpet sounds like it removed quite a bit of the fish's protective slime. Make sure the water is clean by servicing the filter and do a 30% water change. Treat with Nitrofuranace and use a water conditioner with a protective coating in it to help replace the fishes slime.-Chuck> Jill Oof - Spots on Cat my catfish I believe has ick, he has spots around his gills and fins, I've treated the water twice, do you think he will be ok ,do I need to keep treating him. < White spots are definitely a sign of ich. Catfish can be sensitive to ich medication so read the directions carefully. It takes at least 3 days to cure it. Maybe longer if the medication is cut in half as some recommend. Make sure you do a water change in between treatments. Raise the water temp. to 82 degrees will help too. When the spots are gone the parasite may still be in the water in an almost invisible larva stage so follow the directions on the package.-Chuck> (WWM Crew's usual admonition - please use proper punctuation & capitalization!)

FW catfish, ich follow-up yes my fish is better, but his gills look awful raw and red around them, is there anything I can do or will it heal up. thank you so much. and when can he eat minnows again < It may be awhile for the gills to heal completely. Keep the water well oxygenated and you can drop the water temp down to 78-80 degrees. If you must feed minnows it is best to quarantine them before adding them to your main tank. Feeder fish are a major source of introducing diseases to aquariums so should be used cautiously.-Chuck>

Treating Ich in Freshwater Catfish Hi, I have a 29 gallon freshwater tank with the following fish in it and has been established for 3 months.  1 spotted puffer, 1 sailfin Pleco, 1 redtail shark, 1 ruby barb, 3 tiger barbs, 2 Bala sharks, 1 semi aggressive non S.A. cichlid forgot the name, 1 dwarf frog, 1 Dalmatian platy, and used to have a rare blue whale catfish from brazil just a baby. The blue whale catfish all of a sudden started swimming slower and slower he swims against the current of the filter at most of the time, he looks like a blue great white shark, but miniature. Then he started laying on the bottom and then upside down on the bottom, he was still breathing.  I noticed that his gills are a little pinkish, and then he starts having spasms and eventually died.  I got him out of there and put him in a bucket to try to have fresh water help him.  Earlier in the day like 6 hours earlier I introduced 3 of the tiger barbs to the tank, with some bio-coat stress defense stuff.  I acclimated the fish correctly, and had my water tested prior to purchasing my fish at my LFS. around two and half weeks ago my tank had ich. it killed one puffer fish and one Bala shark, I treated my tank for 14 days with quick cure, and one partial 20% water change, with no carbon in the filter.  I noticed that one of my fish recently had what looked like ich salt crystals on his back so began treating for ich again. removed the carbon again and know after my blue whale catfish died did another partial water change.  what is going on with my tank and what should I do to fix all of this nonsense, my tank is so rewarding and I do not want to lose anymore fish.. <Your blue whale catfish is actually a parasitic catfish from South America and really is not suited for the home aquarium. They make a living by taking chunks of flesh out of larger fish in distress. Check on line at Planetcatfish.com to confirm we are talking about the same fish. They are sensitive to ich medication. To prevent introducing diseases to your tank you need to get a small quarantine tank. Put all new fish in a small 5 gallon tank with a piece of PVC pipe and an air stone and a heater. for at least 2 weeks. Treat for diseases in this tank and not in the main tank. Every time you medicate the large tank you damage the good bacteria that regulate turning ammonia into nitrites and then nitrates.-Chuck> thanks for you time, Brian

Cory melanistius Problems Hello WWM crew!  Thanks again for having such an informative web  site. Over the past few weeks I've lost a total of 4 Corys.  Three of  the 4 that died lost all their black spots and black coloring on their  dorsal fin, making them completely white...very strange.  I'm guessing this  happened once they already died because every day I observe all my fishes  behavior and nothing seemed odd about any of their color.  I've  noticed on three of them that their gills looked a bit red, not swollen or  anything just red or reddish.  I was wondering if you could help me  diagnose the problem. Here are my stats: 30G tank with a Penguin 280 filter 1 male Betta 5 cherry barbs 7 neon tetras 2 Cory cats :( I have all live plants w/approx 1 watt of light per gallon and 1 drop of Dupla plant 24 (fertilizer) every day: Green Cabomba (which was doing unbelievably well in the beginning, but has recently started to "break" at their stem segments leaving me half a stem floating in my tank, can this be a sign of changing water conditions?) Wisteria (doing very well, except I've noticed black algae with broad stringy arms on some of the leaves) Hairgrass Mayaca Echinodorus tenellus pH 7 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate ?? (I know I should be testing for it, but the LFS told me that my live plants would keep nitrates low to nil) GH 5 KH 1 Temp 29 C (I turned off my heater 2 weeks ago because I don't keep the AC  on in the lounge room regularly, so this is just "room/water temp").  Maybe it's too warm for the cats? All my other fish are doing well.  I figured if anything was really  that bad my Neons would have been the first to react to it due to their  sensitivity.   I do a 20% water change every week.  I feed my  fish tetra flake food 1-2 times a day or I may substitute some frozen  bloodworms for 1 of the feedings.   Once or twice a week I would feed the  cats Hikari sinking wafers to supplement.  I'm not sure what I'm doing  wrong, so please help.  Thanks, Chris <<Hello Chris. A couple of things to consider. First, the LFS is wrong, plants will NOT leave your nitrates LOW TO NIL. What a load of horse hockey. The fact that your bio-load is low is the ONLY thing keeping your nitrates low. That is, IF they are indeed low. Chances are, they are not quite as low as you think they are. Buy yourself a NITRATE TEST KIT! The trick is in the balance between tank size and stocking rates. A large tank, say 75g, fully planted, with a dozen Neons, for example, may not have any trouble with nitrates. Yours will, if you don't already. Test your water! Another thing is, just how long has this tank been set-up? How often are you vacuuming the gravel? Try to do it at least twice a month, more often if possible, and be as thorough as you can. This is never easy in planted tanks. You might want to do a web search and read up on "anoxic substrate" problems. Cory cats can be quite sensitive to build-ups in planted tank anoxic substrates, normally they develop barbel disintegration problems, but worse things CAN happen... In which case, no, your Neons will not be the first to show a problem, the Corys will. I suspect your Corys are going to need a bit of intervention if you hope to keep any new additions alive. Always make sure you are buying healthy fish (I begin to doubt the quality of the LFS you are using...) Perhaps a quarantine tank will help. You can add a bit of salt which may cure any gill fluke problems. Yes, Corys CAN tolerate salt for short term medicinal purposes. Second, acclimate them properly: you don't mention your pH, is it vastly different from your LFS pH? And thirdly, if your tank is older than a few months, you may want to reconsider keeping Corys in this tank unless you can verify that the substrate isn't the problem. -Gwen>>

Cory melanistius Question Gwen, thank you for your response.   I bought my nitrate test kit as you asked and my readings are between 0 and   12.5mg/l according to the TetraTest kit.  Based on the coloration, my  wife and I agree that it is probably about halfway or between 5-7mg/l.   According to the instructions this measurement is acceptable, what do you  think?  To answer your follow-up questions: 1-The tank has been set-up for about 1.5 months 2-Along with my weekly 20% water changes, I also vacuum the gravel. 3-My pH is 7.0. I really hope I can keep Cory cats, they're so comical! Thanks again for your help. Chris <<Dear Chris; The nitrate level does sound acceptable. As I recall, the Corys you had were turning white and dying? Perhaps then, the fish were from rather poor stock, or being kept in poor conditions before you bought them. I am sure I mentioned a quarantine tank, I usually do :P It might be a good idea to set up a little 5 gallon q-tank for all new additions, that way you can treat them without worry, and if they are sick, you don't risk your entire display tank. Plus, it's WAY cheaper to medicate a five gallon than a larger tank. When buying new stock, always ask the store folks how long the Corys have been there, were they medicated for any reason, are they eating well, general health, etc. Yes, some stores are not honest, but many are. Again, the q-tank is your best insurance :) Check store Corys for barbel erosion, they should have long, healthy barbels. Stumpy snouts should be completely avoided. The fish should be energetic with full finnage, good color, and normal respiration. Avoid fish that continuously cruise up and down the glass, from the bottom of the tank to the surface, over and over. Corys DO swim to the surface from time to time for air, but fish that repeat the maneuver in a frenzied fashion are usually ill. Also avoid Corys who hide from the rest of the group, or seem in any way not overly strong. The clerk catching them for you should have a pretty good time trying to net them, a healthy Cory is a fast one :) Hope this helps. -Gwen>>

My catfish have Ick! Help! Hello,     My name is Debbie. I am new with fish and just purchased some really neat 6 inch long catfish. I can not remember what they are called. But they are white with black spots all over the place. I also have 2 two inch water crabs in the same 10 gallon tank.          When I woke up one morning, my catfish were all laying on the rocks not really moving. I noticed white spots all over their bodies. One of their bodies starting loosing all of it's spots. I called someone I knew, she said that my fish developed Ick (Ichthyophthirius).     I quickly purchased Wardley WaterCare Ick Away medicine. What am I supposed to do besides adding a teaspoon of the medicine every 24 hours and turn off my filter? Am I supposed to wait and keep using the Ick Away every 24 hours? Plus how am I supposed to give them baths? Is it too late to save them? Please contact me on my email at DebbieXXXX.net as soon as possible. Thank You. <<Your TEN gallon tank is way too small for a pair of SIX INCH catfish. Are they even still alive?? Why did you turn your filter off, please turn it back on. When medicating fish, you need to remove the carbon, do NOT turn the filter off! Your best bet is to take these SIX INCH fish back to the store you bought them at, and exchange them for a couple of small, hardy tetras. And tell the store you have a TEN GALLON tank, that has not been cycled yet. If you tell the store people your tank size, they will surely know better than to sell you such large fish. By the way, depending on the medication you are using, it may kill your crabs. Please ask the store some questions and make sure you understand the answers before buying anymore large fish OR medications. -Gwen>>

Can Plecostomus be effected by skin flukes I have a 29 (long) aquarium, I have had problems keeping any fish alive in there except 2 large, super veil angels and a (Hypostomus) Plecostomus. (Every Cory Cat fish I put in there, came down with a "pop eye" disease). So the 2 angels and the Pleco have been the only residents for 2 years. The angels were a breeding pair, until the female came down with a bad case of huge growths on her upper lip, (they looked like 2 large peas, but white or gray in color). After that she got really grumpy, I talked to an expert on angels, he said it was "kind of a wart" or a better lack of words, and that surgically removing them, and not accidentally removing her lip was the only was to get rid of them, or these growths would eventually get so big, that she will no longer be able to eat, and she'd starve. Monday the male Angel died. I couldn't see anything wrong, I have had good water conditions, certainly no over crowding. The next day I noticed white spikes coming out of my female angel, up close that is exactly what they looked like. >From the other fish experts I've talked to, it sounds as though she had body flukes. All I can think of is they must have came in on a live plant I purchased. Can Body flukes at some stage in their life be transmitted on plants?  < Anything is possible but pretty unlikely>  Nothing else was new in the aquarium. She had 12 or more of these "spikes". The next morning I had her "put down", so to speak. I have the Plecostomus out of that aquarium now, in quarantine. As far as I can tell I have done everything right with him. He has never shown any signs of problems. He still doesn't, he went into quarantine yesterday.  I have a 2000 gallon outdoor decorative pond, I have Koi and a very large Plecostomus who will be going into very soon, ( I am waiting for the pond to do it's bacteria build up thing.) The Koi are various sizes, but I three which are 17 or 18 inches long, there are 9 Koi all together, and the Plecostomus in the pond is 18 inches.  How long should I keep this other poor Plecostomus in quarantine?  < If you are really worried I would keep him in quarantine between two and six weeks.>  Also, do you have a good suggestion on how to really sterilize that 29 gallon aquarium?  < I am not a really big fan of sterilization. My suggestion would be to heat your tank up to 80 degrees plus for a week or two. Any pathogens will starve without any hosts in that time period. At the end of that time I would do a 50% water change. Pick out some new fish to add to your tank and put them in the quarantine tank. In two to four weeks they could be added to your main tank. Make sure your filter is cleaned often. The BioWheel is a great invention and gives you many options. Make sure that you gravel vac the sludge from the gravel.>  It has gravel, plants (one live one, which I plan on pitching), a nice large back flow filter, with a bacteria wheel, also a good powerful pump with an under gravel bacteria filter. What should I do.  < Check you water conditions. You left out some important information. Keep the water temp at 80 degrees. I would clean the filter at least once but no later than twice a week despite what it looks like. Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. You should have no ammonia , no nitrites and the nitrate levels should be no higher than 25 ppm. Elevated levels of these compounds lead to long term chronic problems that you have described.>  I also have another 29 long ~ aquarium, with fish, and the 150 gallon decorative pond in my living room, which is the Koi's winter residence. But water changes every three days and running 3 pumps in there (and all the fish are healthy) this is driving me nuts. I am fished out. And I still have to decide what to do the Pleco in quarantine, and the tank with a problem. Suggestions please ~ Deb  < Unfortunately big fish generate lots of waste. There is no magic potion to make this problem go away, but I do have some suggestions. With all those koi you need a pump that moves at least 450 gallons an hour. This could easily be done with one pump instead of three. You need a filter that is easy to maintain. Look at the Marineland Tidepool line of filters. The trays are easily removed for cleaning and nothing needs to be turned off. Look at the food and make sure the fish are eating it all in a couple minutes. Excess food is usually a big problem. Check the water chemistry. If your nitrates are fairly low as described above then maybe the water changes are only needed weekly.-Chuck>

Cory Catfish Question Hello, I have an Albino Cory catfish in a 42 gallon tank.  It has been with the other fish for months, but this week I noticed that it was not down at the bottom like usual.  Instead it is swimming at the top and floating around.  It seems a bit sluggish in its swimming, but otherwise looks alright. My husband and I did a 30% water change last weekend which is consistent with what we have always done with this tank.   Do you have any ideas what might be up with my little fishy?  I don't know if it is related or not, but we have had it for 4 or 5 months and it hasn't really gotten any bigger. He is about an inch long. Thank you for your time and consideration. Anne <<Dear Anne; In order to answer, I need to ask for your water test results. Do you test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? I would need to know these levels. If you do not own your own test kits, please take a sample of your tank water to your LFS and have them test your water for the above. Please let me know the results. This is always the first thing to do when you develop a health problem in your tank. It  does not matter which fish is affected, it has to start somewhere. So, I always ask for water test results first. IF all is well, it could be age, aggression, or some internal problem the fish has developed over time due to diet deficiencies, etc. Please let me know your test results first. Thank you, Gwen>>

Catfish with missing fin Hello all, it's Sandy again. Before I start, just wanted to thank you all for all your help in the past....much appreciated.  I've found myself seeking for help once again.  I'm not sure if this happens often but here goes. I currently have a 90 gallon freshwater aquarium.  Inhabitants are 2 Synodontis catfish, 2 Plecos, 2 blood parrots, 3 fairy cichlids, 1 electric yellow and 1 bumble bee cichlid.  The cichlids are about 2 inches so far, a common Pleco about 5 inches and a chocolate Pleco about 3 inches.  The catfish are about 3-4 inches.  I HAD a red zebra and an auratus cichlid but had to trade them in because they are waaaaay too aggressive. ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 20 pH 7.6 - 7.8 water temp 75-78 I'm performing a 30% water change every 2 weeks adding water conditioner.  Last week, I had noticed that one of my catfish had his left fin missing.  At first I wasn't sure, just thought he had them tucked in, but today, he ended up coming out during feeding and I got a closer look.  It is totally gone.  I'm pretty sure it's either bitten off by the red zebra or auratus because none of the other fish are as aggressive as these 2.  I'm not sure if he's able to swim either since he's been hanging out at the same place these last few days.  Should I remove him and put him in a separate tank (which I do have) until he recovers?  Will he survive with just 1 fin?  Will it grow back and if so, how long? I'm really worried if he'll survive or not.  I sure hope so.  Please help. Thanks, Sandy <<Dear Sandy; Normally a Synodontis cat is more than capable of handling itself in a tank full of cichlids. However, accidents can happen! As long as you keep your nitrates low to help ensure the fin doesn't become fungused, you shouldn't have to worry. It may grow completely back, depending on the extent of the damage. Even if it doesn't, the wound will heal, and the catfish should (!) be able to swim normally with his stump. By the way, I would blame the other Synodontis before the cichlids. They are notoriously territorial towards each other starting at that size.. you might want to watch the two signs for aggression towards each other. Telltale scrape-marks on their sides are a dead give-away. -Gwen>>

Glass cat aliment Ok, I've tried to figure this one out on my own, but I'm just not too sure. A few days ago I noticed one of my glass (ghost, etc.) cats had an odd white spot on its head. This was no ordinary white spot it is about the size of his eye, located towards the front-left side of his head. He was acting sort of sluggish till I started giving him attention and then he joined the rest of his group and acted like nothing was wrong. <Sounds like it is effecting him.  A large white spot quite possibly is a large infection in/under the skin.  My guess would be Columnaris. If there were smaller white spots around the area I would think it was ich.  But, that large of a spot seems like a bacterial fungal infection of some kind.> I separated him to my QT to continue my inspection of his little translucent body. <Glad to see you already have a QT going.  one of the best things a hobbyist can do to ensure a fish's health as well as the other tank inhabitants is to separate it from the others.> Well, his clear 'tail' is still pretty clear, but his innards (from what I can see behind his head) are cloudy and have a whitish-milky hue to them. <yes, I would think that it's a bacterial infection.  It would be best to use Maracyn (a product brought out by Mardel) it had worked the best on my iridescent sharks (which like your fish are catfish).  I had also used Jungle "Fungus eliminator" which did work, but I found that the fish's illness returned down the road.> He shows no obvious signs of stress- only separation anxiety- he eats, swims and follows me like usual. But it looks like something took the scales off the top of his head, I don't know what though, he's housed in a 29gal with 10 others like him (each with their own personality) and 7 ghost shrimp. <Most likely the infection started from the damage to the head.  Keep him separated until he gets better, no use exposing the other fish.  You will need to offer these fish larger accommodations down the road.  They can grow to be quite big.> At first I thought fungus, but the large white area appears to be contoured with his noggin, not fuzzy. <Not all fungus is fuzzy, True fungus if fuzzy, but bacterial fungal infections can give a whitish blue coloration to the fishes body.> Too big for Ich; perhaps the hole is hole in the head - diet is varied and water is changed 25%/ 2 wk. I haven't a clue why his 'guts' would be cloudy. <an internal infection.  It's not every fish that gives you the capability to see it's internal organs.  I imagine many fish when sick would have inflamed or infected organs, but unless  you have an autopsy on the fish you would never know.> I gave him salt baths yesterday and now I'm waiting- but like I said- he doesn't act like anything is wrong (other than he's been separated from his friends). <Try adding some of the medicine and see if it does have an effect on the fish.  You might also want to look into medicated food, which is sold in most pet stores.  That would ensure that it gets medicines into it's systems to help the internal problems.> Thanks, Dave O <Good luck with the fish, hope it gets better.-Magnus>

Re: Glass cat aliment (update) Magnus, thanks for your great help with my glass cat. <Glad I could help.> He had been separated for a little over three weeks and the Maracyn seemed to be doing the trick- the whitish 'thing' on his head was about gone but his innards still seemed cloudy. <internal infections are hard to heal up... cause the fishes immune system really has to do the fight.  External problems can be helped along with the medicine in the water.> That is, until this morning and now I'm even more perplexed by his ailment. You see, I found him dead on the bottom... with no internal organs. Yes, gone. There was an empty cavity from the anus to the skull- he was only flesh, bones, and skin (scale)- everything else was gone... just not there (it was a very disturbing and peculiar sight). <Wow... All I can think of is something from "Alien".  I've only seen that happen in tanks with other tankmates.  When the other fish/critters started snacking when the fish died.> Confused, I searched the tank for them (the guts)- but I guess they were sucked into the filter- there is nothing else in the QT (only the filter, heater & airstone). <I once had a goldfish that had similar problems...  had internal infections (swelling of the body) and I found him with his organs missing and stuck to the intake of the filter.  What I think happened to him (which might be the case here) is that the internal swelling and infection had became bad, the fish lost it's ability to swim well and became stuck on the intake filter.  When it died, the bacteria already present in the body started feeding and I think with the help of the suction it actually tore the stretched body open.  The internal organs were sucked in, and the fish was just sort of dangling at the intake.  Perhaps this happened to your fish, and it somehow became dislodged from the intake and drifted away from it.  This is just a theory, but it's about all I can think of that could have effected your fish like this.  Unless you have Jack the Ripper hiding in you fish tank.> Yeah, I don't know what else was wrong with him, I'm guessing some sort of internal parasite, but I'll be keeping a watchful eye on the rest of them for any sign of trouble. <could have been an internal parasite that was growing inside... but I'm sure it would have been something you would have seen in the body of the clear Glass cat.> What should I do with my QT? Should I just dump the water and re-cycle it hoping that the ammonia spike will kill off anything that survived the 100% H2O change? Soak everything in a bleach solution? Or I am just paranoid, and the QT will be fine with normal maintenance (and no new fish/ hosts for a while)? <I would dump the water and re-cycle it.  If you are worried, you can rinse the inside of the tank using extremely hot water to kill the parasites.  I wouldn't use a bleach solution, most parasites can't live without a host.  So if you leave the tank fallow (fishless) for 4-6 weeks than any parasite will have lived out it's life cycle and not been able to procreate.> Again, many thanks for your help with the initial diagnosis & treatment. <Wish I could have helped more.  Sorry for the loss of your fish. -Magnus>

Comments on Gold nuggets and such.... >Hi Marina >>Hello Wayne. >Just some notes re: the lady who lost her gold nugget and clown Plec...  First of all you're right to ask how much food made it to these plecs - I believe that the majority of these fish (like many numbers) die of starvation due to both inadequate and incorrect diet.  Notice how so many people complain they grow so slowly, well there's a good reason.   I have a few baby Bristlenoses I kept in a tank and hammered with food, they're about 5 months old now and the largest is nearly 3 inches.  I remember keeping a bristle in with some Mbuna, and that [fish] just stopped growing when it went in there, in contrast to its brother who is now a good, fat, fully grown 4 inches.  Also, as you point out the fish, esp. the gold nugget do not feed on algae, except in utter desperation, rather they pick up worms, bugs, critters and chew on the biofilm I believe.  These fish are fussy on water quality and also water movement and dissolved oxygen content.  Notice how this lady's and so many hung on the filter outlet.  In the only good breeding report I've seen  a powerhead was pointing at the spawning cave!  30% a month is thoroughly inadequate, and that LFS was pretty stupid to say so.  My fish respond well to 10, 15 percent 3 times a week.  I only gravel Hoover every 2 or 3 weeks though to maintain a biofilm of mulm for continual chewing.  I don't think these fish are too fussy about pH within reasonable limits, but I'm pretty sure nuggets at least are from acidic blackwater rivers (Lower xingu, but I need to check that).  There is a theory that these low pH rivers are not terribly bacteria friendly, so fish from these areas are all prone to bacterial infection as they simply don' have a 'bacteria unfriendly' immune system - (examples wild caught Apistos, discus, L nos).  Again, another reason for those frequent water changes.  So my bet here is a slight slip in water quality, plus a minimal diet caused a bacterial infection and pop.  You might not even need the bacterial bit to kill a slowly weakening fish.  So I would say if you're going to keep these fish be prepared to overfeed the tank and counter it with frequent small water changes.   >>Agreed. >I truly wish I could help with the questions but I simply don't have an hour a day (small children = zero time at home) Regards,  Wayne Oxborough >>Much to my chagrin (and others on the crew who know how much we truly need knowledgeable help), I do understand.  Thank you for your input, though.  Marina

Spotted Rafael Catfish Blisters <Ananda here, fielding the freshwater fish questions...> Hello Again!  I wrote in a week or two ago about a Spotted Rafael that had blisters and I was directed to your freshwater FAQs which I read through, but what I found was just a massive amount of letters about ich, and some other random things that didn't seem to match at all what I have been seeing on my fish. <Most of the freshwater disease questions we get are about ich.>   <<And a huge gap of "need to be written" areas on all but our marine section on WWM>> I have been watching him very closely and calling a couple local and not-so-local fish stores looking for a definitive answer on what my fish is ill with and what I can do to fix it and all I have gotten is a consensus that this IS some sort of parasite.  What my fish has is something I have never seen before, I have kept aquarium and pond fish for 13 years and never come across this.  I am by no means an expert on fish disease, all I have ever seen really are Popeye, ich and anchor worm, so I am stumped by this one.  He has blisters, they are about half the size of a pencil eraser and after a few days away I came home to check on him and, looking closely at the blisters, saw a tiny tiny worm, like a nematode, in each blister. <Yep, it's a parasite...though of course that's the easy part. I have been reading up on stuff for a couple of days, and am not finding much on skin-based blisters containing worms. It seems most worm infestations are more internal if they are not in the gills.> I don't even know where to start, I bought the medicine that the fish store handed me -- something I have never used and never heard of, it's "General Cure" for parasites by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. <I have no familiarity with that one, either.> Of course, none of the pictures they show on the front match what my fish has <That would make it too easy....> but the particular LFS said that was the answer.  I was also suggested to use Paragon (spelling??) and Maracyn 2, among others I cannot remember...I did not however pick up anything but the general cure because the store nearest to me only carried the general cure (and I didn't recognize any of the names except Maracyn 2 and the particular LFS assured me it was not what I wanted anyway,) <I think I agree with that part of it.> <<This is likely some sort of "worm" parasite (more likely a digenean trematode/fluke but maybe a nematode) that is erupting from your Rafael... not too rare in wild-collected South American catfishes. The Paragon might help... there are other vermicides... Levamisole, Fenbendazole, Piperazine... that might be tried. These are all administered orally... via food if nematodes are involved here. Praziquantel (as a bath/dip, injected or orally) would be my choice of therapeutic, assuming this is (most likely) a fluke infestation>> so away I went to treat my fish and nothing has happened, it's an every-other day medication and it seems (understandably) that my fish has gotten worse instead of better.  Five days later, he developed a blister on his belly -- his blisters disappear and reappear at random, and leave very little evidence of where they used to be, they do not seem to explode or anything of that type. <Very odd.> But since adding the medication he has grown somewhat listless, although he still eats.  I'm so sorry of the incessant rambling!  I'm very fond of this fish and I don't want to lose him!    <Understandable.> I have heard a lot about using saltwater dips and the like, but I don't know if that would be appropriate in his case or if the fish itself would handle it well. <I do not think the fish would tolerate it particularly well, and am not sure it would help, as these seem to be somewhat internal in nature.> <<I concur>> I have been trying to figure this out for two weeks without any clues so ANY advice/help/clues/suggestions would be wonderful.    <I would start on an anti-parasitic food, if you can find such. How do the fish's feces look? This may help diagnose the problem. Additionally, can you get a copy of Dieter Untergasser's "Handbook of Fish Diseases"? There is one treatment method suggested in there that sounds like it should work (method C6) -- if you do not have this book please let me know and I will provide details....> Again, I'm so sorry for this long email! <No problem.> Thank you for your time and great advice! Rachael <You're welcome...this has been somewhat of a stumper for me, too, so I am passing it along to the head "pet-fish boy" for further comment.  --Ananda> <<Bob Fenner, who encourages you to seek out a copy of Edward J. Noga's Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment.>>

Aquari-sol/sluggishness Bob: It has occurred to me that the Otos and Corys are merely becoming more active now as a result of medicating and that their former inactivity was not normal after all. Maybe I just wasn't used to seeing them shoaling out in the open water and going to the surface a lot. They used to just scoot along on the log and plants and rocks. I also notice that the list of ailments treated on the package of Aquari-sol includes "sluggishness". What do you think? <A treatment for sluggishness? I've got to try this (on myself!). Don't know, but it's a possibility. Elevated temperature often elicits more of the "active response" in these fishes, as will water changes... Swimming about, in the open water, dashing to the surface are all normal, healthy behaviors with these fishes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Aquari-sol/light off? One more thing, Bob: Would you advise leaving the light off on the aquarium for a period as is sometimes recommended while treating ich? If so, for how long? <For ich I would stick to your regular lighting regimen (for interest and completeness sake I would leave the light off for Velvet infestations). Bob Fenner>

Sick Fish Hello. My Rosie barbs have been displaying unusual behavior: glancing off of rocks and decorations, one is hiding in the shadows twitching.  There are no detectable spots on them. The fish store said it could be the beginning of some parasite as the PH dropped a week ago. <Maybe, or even just the pH drop itself. Do you have an ammonia test kit? I would measure this, now> They recommended Aquari-sol. Do you know if there is a problem with using Aquari-sol at 12 drops per 10 gallons in a tank with Otocinclus and Cory's?   <Should be fine> The Otos' and Corys' are swimming around frantically when they usually don't move much in the open water. Thank you. <What sort of middle-ground temperature, pH and water hardness are you shooting for here? The minnows come from much cooler, higher pH and harder water than the catfishes listed. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Fish Hi Bob. O.K. the pH dropped as a result of adding RO water to my 7.4 tap water a week or so back to try to make the newly arrived Corys more comfortable. I have since learned that they might be fine in my municipal water as this is what they lived in at the store. I have had the temp at 78 but have raised it a bit at the suggestion of the medication manufacturer. Can this be making the cats uncomfortable? Should I lower it? <Seventy eight should be fine> Should I do a partial water change and stop or cut back on the medication? <I would dose per the manufacturer's instructions (I think a drop per gallon)> Or just wait and see? Also, I live in Chicago where the temps and humidity outside are fluctuating a lot now. Is this a problem? <Not if it's not affecting the temperature in your system. Bob Fenner> Sorry Bob, don't know if you got the last part: the ammonia is testing at or near zero

Catfish with worms under skin hello my name is Kenny Mayer and I live down here in Texas and I have a question I have a pond about 100 ft by 100 ft and I have catfish in it that I have had all kinds of trouble with but I thought I was getting ahead and thought everything was under control till this weekend and went down and trapped some of my fish to have a look at them and I seen something I have never seen before it looked like they are getting worms or something under the skin can you give me some help to figure out what is going on I had some bass in a nother pond that did have actually worms in there fins and I was wondering if there is some kind of chemical that I can try to get ride of the worm problem before they kill my fish I heard some one say that iodine would help but have no idea where to get it so please give me some help thanks <Good observations. Yes, there are "worm under the skin diseases" of fishes that are real trouble. Disfiguring to actual causes of mortality. Most are either nematodes (roundworms) or trematodes (flukes)... I would do two things here. One, have a fisheries extension agent (you pay for them as part of your taxes) come out from the fish and game or college and determine the actual species involved, and Two: engage in a long term plan to eradicate them by interrupting their life cycle. Very likely an intermediate host in the way of a snail, waterfowl is involved and you can best get rid of the fish problem with eliminating a necessary "link" in the chain of life of this parasite by breaking the cycle. We can chat over all this more when you have ascertained what the actual "causative mechanism" (type of worm, cycle) you have. Bob Fenner>

Re: catfish with worms under skin thanks for the info but have you heard of using iodine and where might I get something like that <What? No to using iodine for a parasitic problem... Study my friend. Read through the "Troubleshooting" and other disease sections on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> New aquarium owners (with Cats, with BIG mouths) Bob, Can you help out? Thanks, Susan <Sure> Subject: new aquarium owners  we recently purchased an aquarium 2 blue canal catfish 4 Neons 2 zebras so far, one zebra has turned up missing & now, one neon is gone we are concerned that perhaps the canal fish (about 2 inches in length) may be having our little fish for dinner please tell us the compatibility of these fish & if we should make some other choices for our bottom cleaners thank you for your assistance cj McDonald <You are absolutely correct... the "Canal" is actually "Channel" Catfish... cool water native species that are much more "eater-uppers" than cleaner uppers... that will gladly inhale your other fishes in time. Do quickly trade them back into your fish store... and get some peaceful Corydoras catfishes instead. Want to see what these look like? Please see our website: www.WetWebMedia.com under the "Freshwater Index". Bob Fenner>

Please read!!! Sick FW (actually more like saltwater) Catfishes... I'm sure you get a lot of email, and probably don't have a lot of time.  <Same amount as everyone my friend> I have a freshwater aquarium with two Arius jordani (Jordan's Catfish) <Ah, yes... that minor prophet of democracy, first Prez of Stanford, none other than David Starr J. himself> they both started getting white splotches. I first treated the tank for fungus. It cleared up part way. I figured maybe it was a secondary infection and read up on Ich.  <Good so far...> I have treated them for Ich. One of my catfish has a white spike protruding from his side.  <Yikes... likely an intraneural bone... not good... and possible evidence of a very aggressive bacterial problem... internal> He is not as active as he normally is. I don't know if he will survive. I had an ammonia problem not to long ago but that has been fixed. This all started occurring soon after the ammonia reached a safe level. <Actually, as you know... before, with the ammonia problem... or what actually "caused" the ammonia problem...> I might not be able to save this catfish, but I am really concerned with finding a solution to this. It might get my other catfish too. I have heard great things about your knowledge of fish and I am at a total loss to explain it. The catfish has also lost one of his whiskers, he seems to have an infection around his upper lip also. Like I say I may not be able to save this catfish, but I need to fix the problem so it does not happen again. Any feed back would be greatly appreciated. And thank you for your time. Sincerely, Luke <Thank you for writing. Please do quickly read over the section on "Hole in the Side Disease" under the "Pond Index" on my site: www.WetWebMedia.com and avail yourself of the proposed solutions there... I would make my own antibiotic laden food, keep water quality optimized and stable, slap on an ultraviolet sterilizer in the filter flow path if you have one (otherwise check with your marine aquarist friends to see if they have one "laying around"), add some salt (see the WWM site re) to the water, keep changing the water/gravel vacuuming regularly with pre-made, stored freshwater... Do think you have a gram negative



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