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FAQs on Pimelodid Cats 1

Related Articles: Pimelodid Catfishes

Related FAQs: Pimelodid Cats 2, & FAQs on: Pimelodid Identification, Pimelodid Behavior, Pimelodid Compatibility, Pimelodid Selection, Pimelodid Systems, Pimelodid Feeding, Pimelodid Disease, Pimelodid Reproduction, & Red Tail Cats (Phractocephalus), Pictus Cats, Shovelnose Catfishes (Pseudoplatystoma, Sorubim, Sorubimichthys...), & Catfish FAQs: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Merodontus tigrinus

911 Redtail Catfish losing flesh!  7/20/08 I have 3 red tail catfish. One started floating upside down so I moved him to another tank. The other two are still healthy. The sick one is now losing his flesh. It is attached but it is floating in a big chunk. His eye is cloudy and it look at first as if he had ick. I treated him with parasite medication. At first he seemed to get better but then got worse. Now he is losing his flesh but he is still alive. I'm assuming it is hopeless for this one but what could cause this? Rochelle <Rochelle, there are two obvious problems here. Firstly, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus is a territorial species that will attack and kill any fish it views as a rival -- especially its own species. To keep more than one specimen would require a tank something bigger than a swimming pool! So your fish may simply be attacking one another. Secondly, these fish are hugely sensitive to poor water quality, and parasitic infections are highly likely related to these fish being kept in inadequate conditions (as is almost certainly the case). These fish grow to well over 1 m in length and require massive tanks with prodigious filtration, as well as extremely careful control of how much food they receive. Please let me have more information on the size of these fish and more important the aquarium. In the short term though you will need to isolate all three specimens in their own tanks containing not less than 200 gallons of water each, provided with filters rated at not less than 2000 gallons per hour, and perform not less than 50% water changes weekly. Stop feeding. Treat all fish with an appropriate antibacterial or antibiotic such as eSHa 2000 or Maracyn. The fish with a chunk bitten off from it may need veterinarian attention depending on the damage; you will certainly need to clean the wound and determine whether it is better to painlessly destroy the fish or treat it. Let me be crystal clear about this: Phractocephalus hemioliopterus is not a viable choice for the home aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Colour change, Pimelodelids  1/27/08 Hello Neale, <Neervana,> My pictus catfishes have changed colour. <They do this periodically, and as they age. Provided the fins and skin otherwise look good, don't worry too much.> I feed them a variety of food everyday, slowly I can see that they are starting to turn a metallic green - it does not look like an infection or poisoning, but I was wondering why they are changing colour. <Most fish can adjust their colours to blend in better with their environment, or at least not look so obvious to predators.> Both of them seem healthy, nothing wrong - but why the colour change? <Because they can.> Also I did a water change today and it got a little cloudy. Is it because this is a new tank? <Yes; likely silt left in the gravel. Harmless to the fish, especially if you notice it settles down after a day or so. New tanks can also get bacterial blooms. These look similar (milky/cloudy) but don't go away, however much you wait/change water. Generally settle down after a few weeks.> I did let it cycle...but maybe it hasn't fully cycled yet? <Possibly, but the only way to check is the old nitrite test kit. Everything else is guesswork.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Colour change 1/27/08 Hello Neale, <Hello,> I have only put an extremely thin lining of gravel in my tank, which I took from my old tank (200 gallon) does this matter? <If you don't have an undergravel filter, then the only substrate you *need* is just enough to cover the glass to stop reflections freaking out the fish. Whether the gravel is used or new shouldn't make a huge difference, but obviously gravel from an old tank can carry snails and potentially parasites like Whitespot into the new tank. Before you get too worried about the parasites thing: most parasites don't last for long outside the fish. So if you had Whitespot a year ago, treated it, and then everything was fine, then no, there aren't any hidden Whitespot parasites lurking in the gravel waiting to jump out.> The lady in the petshop said it didn't matter whether I put gravel in or not, the bacteria can grow in the water itself. <Virtually no bacteria either in the water itself or plain gravel. Bacteria in the filter media outnumber the bacteria everywhere else in the aquarium by literally a billion to one. They need [a] flowing water and [b] lots of oxygen. For this reason, gravel that just sits there (as opposed to gravel in an undergravel filter) isn't a place filter bacteria likes to be.> If there is only a little gravel in there, does this mean not much bacteria will grow? <Correct; but assuming you have external canister filters, this couldn't matter less.> The cloudiness is still here, even after a few hours of cleaning, does this mean it is a bacteria bloom? <Maybe. Don't worry about it. Normally settles down in a few days. If the fish are otherwise healthy, just do your water changes to dilute the problem and check the nitrite level every day or two to make sure the filter is happy.> Although, I have to admit I did forget to rinse out the sponge thing in the filter - maybe this was the cause for cloudiness? <Certainly possible. When I get cloudy water, I find changing the filter wool (the "pre-filter") in the filter helps a lot. Water changes are good, too.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>  

helphelphelp... Pimelodelid hlth.   1/28/08 Hi Neale, I don't know why, but today when I was looking at one of my pictus catfish, I noticed that she was struggling to swim up and that she kept on going back down to the surface. <Hmm... usually a sign of acute distress: check temperature, ammonia/nitrite, potential sources of poisons.> The other catfish seems fine and is swimming around everywhere. The sick one does not seem to show any other symptoms - I mean she is breathing normally and is not gasping. Also, she keeps rubbing herself against the glass or gravel. What is wrong with her. I noticed this just now, and she seemed fine when I fed her, she was racing around everywhere. Now she can't swim as well as the other and seems to be rubbing herself on the glass thing. <The rubbing is usually a precursor to Whitespot or Velvet. Look for small white dots on the fins especially. In the UK, I have found eSHa 2000 to be safe with catfish and other sensitive species, so I'd recommend that one. Otherwise you can use the salt/heat method described in detail in the Clown Loach Disease FAQs elsewhere on this site.> I'm scared to treat with anything, as I read on the net that they do not have scales. <This is a factoid that does the rounds but for the life of me I can't understand what relevance it has to anything.> What do I do, I don't want to lose her. Thanking you, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: helphelphelp 1/28/08 Hi Neale, I went to see the lady in the petshop who sold me my pictus catfish and I explained what I told you in the e-mail, and she gave me Protozin White Spot and Fungus to use. So I have made a water change - but when I read the back of the bottle before I used it, it said not to use the medicine on elephant noses - African Mormyrids. So I was a bit worried about using it. <Pictus catfish aren't Mormyrids, so that in itself should be a concern. In general, catfish will tolerate the use of copper/formalin medications provided they are otherwise healthy. It is also important to increase aeration in the aquarium, because to some degree the harmful aspect of medications is the irritation they cause to the gills. Simply raising the outlet of the filter -- to increase splashing -- will help. Also make sure the filter is operating at full power -- the more circulation, the better.> Instead, I put two drops of it in the tank instead of the required dose per gallon (not sure if that helped) <I'd use the full dose as quote on the packaging. If the fish appear to be distressed, then do a 50% water change, and when you do the next dose, only use half the amount. But for these things to work, there does need to be a certain amount of copper/formalin in the water.> and I raised the temperature to 30 degrees as it was 26 before - is that ok or too much? <Temperature increase is fine, especially if you increase circulation and aeration.> I found two really tiny white spots on the sick pictus and when I explained it to the lady she said it could probably be white spot and that I should raise the temperature so I have. <Fine.> How long should I keep on doing water changes? I did one last Sunday, and now I just did one. Will this harm any bacteria I have in the tank? <Water changes don't do any harm, ever, provided the new water is similar temperature/chemistry and you use dechlorinator. Normally you do not do water changes during the period you are adding medication. So if you need to add 20 drops on Day 1, 20 drops on Day 3, and 20 drops on Day 5, you wouldn't do a water change until at least Day 6.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: I did a water test...  1/28/08 Hey Neale I did a water test and it is showing 0 nitrite. So why is the pictus acting this way? The other is fine, swimming around perfectly. The sick one is still rubbing against glass and not swimming properly. She has not lost any colour at all, seems fine apart from not swimming and the rubbing. <Assume Whitespot/Velvet, and act accordingly.> I don't know what to do. She does not have any scales does she? <None of the catfishes have scales. That is indeed true.> So now what? What medication to use? <See previous e-mail.> She wasn't like this this morning, first time I have seen her do this. Sorry to keep on pestering, don't know what to do. Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage... Neervana... Neale...  1/29/08 Hi Neale, I didn't add anymore medicine to the tank as it says not to add more Protozin once you've put it in, only after 48 hours. Because I only put in two drops, should I put in the rest of the normal dosage the bottle says for my tank tomorrow? Or should I wait until Thursday and do it then? When should I change the water if I put the Protozin in tomorrow? On Saturday? And should I also be thinking about feeding them less in the meantime as well? If bits of uneaten food fall on the gravel and does not get cleaned up quickly, will this pollute the water, and perhaps encourage the white spot to grow? Thanks, Neervana. <Did you add *just* two drops, or two drops per litre/gallon? If the former, that will achieve nothing at all and you may as well forget about it. Just start again from scratch, following PRECISELY what it says on the packaging. Don't make this stuff up as you go along! Protozin isn't a medication I use, but it's been around for decades so I assume it is safe and reliable. Feed fish normally while treating them. Dirty gravel doesn't encourage Whitespot to grow, but of course a dirty tank with poor water quality won't help your fish stay healthy. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage 1/29/08 Hi Neale, Yes, I very stupidly only put in two drops of the Protozin...I was just worried I would be poisoning them. So just to be clear about this: 1st treatment, I add the required dosage, then 2nd treatment again (after how many days if I add first treatment tomorrow?) and then third treatment (after how many days?) and then after the third treatment when do I do a water change, as I already did one today? Thanks Neale, Neervana. <Protozin is added on days 1, 2, 3, and 6. Do NOT DO ANY water changes between day 1 or day 6, and in fact don't do any water changes until at least day 8. Let the medicine do its thing. If you keep diluting the concentration, it won't work! Make sure there's no carbon in the filter. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage  -01/30/08 Hi Neale, So I've added my first dosage today. How do I know whether there is any carbon in my filter? It came with my tank as a complete set up - what I mean is its built into the tank so I can't take it out. <Carbon is usually a bag of black chippings. Charcoal by another name. Some filters have black carbon covered sponges or modules. The instructions should reveal this, if you really don't know.> When I looked in it, all I saw were two compartments with this foamy woolly thing and another third one with these round cylinders, that looked cream in colour. <The wool is filter floss, or if its spongy, it's sponge. Used for mechanical and biological filtration. The ceramic cylinders are called "noodles" among hobbyists and are for biological filtration.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dosage... Pim. hlth.  1/31/08 Hi Neale, After the first treatment, the sick pictus that was lying at the bottom is looking a lot better, she is already back and up, swimming about crazily. So I should proceed with the dose as the bottle mentions? <Yes!!!! This is how TB Epidemics get started... people don't finish the course of drugs because they feel fine halfway through. You MUST finish the course precisely as instructed.> I am now on day 2. it also says half dosage for new aquariums, so I have been halving it. <If that's what it says... then that's what it says!> I checked the filter, there is no carbon as you have described it. So far is everything as it should be? <Yep.> Thank you for your advice! Neervana <Cheers, Neale.>

why?... Ongoing re ich, Pim...  2/1/08 Hello Neale, I am now on day three of the treatment for my pictus catfish. Both white spots I saw on one of the pictus are gone - today as I was looking at her I noticed that both of the pictus' tails are slightly frayed. I know they weren't like this before. What is causing this? They hardly ever fight, and they seem to always be swimming together. Is this another infection? Thanks, Neervana. <Frayed fins are normally a sign of Finrot and/or Fungus. Whitespot/Ick can trigger these problems -- when the cysts burst and the whitespot parasite swims out (to reproduce and then infect more fish) it leaves behind a hole, and bacteria can get into the hole and cause an infection. Alternatively, you may have some problems with water quality, because Finrot and Fungus are both related to water quality nine times out of ten. In any case: check the nitrite, to make sure the aquarium is healthy. When the Whitespot medication is done, do a 50% water change, and then start a treatment for Finrot and Fungus. I recommend eSHa 2000 because it treats both equally well, but you can find alternative brands if you want to. Damaged fins are -- up to a point -- low priority complaints, so don't fret too much. Yes, you must treat them, but they will heal nicely once you have added the medication. In the wild fish damage their fins all the time. It is really only in the bacteria-laden water in a fish tank that fin damage becomes potentially lethal. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: why? Doesn't Neale suggest a good FW tome?  2/1/08 Hi Neale, So now I'm on day 4 - which is the one where I don't add any medication (Protozin). My tank is starting to smell, and I really don't like it. Also, the water is getting a bit dirty - when is the earliest day I can change the water, day 6 or 7 perhaps? Also, I don't know where to get eSHa 2000 from, my LFS don't have it. Thanks, Neervana. <In four days after a water change, your aquarium SHOULD NOT smell! If it smells, then you are doing one (or more) of the following: - Feeding the fish too much, so that leftover food is rotting. - Not removing uneaten food (see above). - Keeping too many fish in too small a tank. - Not providing adequate filtration for the sorts of fish being kept. Aquaria in good condition DO NOT SMELL!!! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: why? 2/1/08 Hi Neale, Yes, I have not vacuumed my gravel since the start of last week. Now what should I do? When I went to the LFS the lady said that since my tank came with an in-built filtration/oxygen system I don't need any other equipment added to it. I only have two pictus catfish in my tank, so I think it's ok for the meantime for them. So should I vacuum the gravel then? But I thought this could dilute the medicine? Thanks, Neervana. <Vacuuming the gravel is really neither here nor there when it comes to water quality, unless you are keeping very large, messy fish that produces lots of faeces. For Pimelodus pictus, you should be able to go for several weeks without needing to clean the gravel. The only way the gravel would become filthy enough to smell would be if your were putting in masses too much food. Which you're not, I hope. For two Pimelodus pictus, half a cube of wet frozen bloodworms should be adequate. If you're using dried food, then a pinch about the size of your little finger's nail. I'm past remembering what sort of tank we're talking about. How big is the aquarium? On the filter, look at the pump, and less if it has a gallons-per-hour (gph) or litres-per-hour (lph) rating -- it should do. Also what temperature is the aquarium? Cheers, Neale.>

Re: why? Pim., ich...    2/3/08 Hi Neale, The tank is 10 gallons (which I know is too small for these fish, but I am currently saving for a bigger one to move them into, which would be around two months' time) then I would use the tank I already have as a quarantine tank. <Hmm... a 10 gallon tank isn't really suitable for these fish, even for a while. Do check the nitrite level, and I'm guessing you'll find it isn't zero. This is a bad thing.> I put the temperature up to 30 degrees - it used to be 26 before, but I raised the temperature to 30, because the lady in the LFS told me to do that. <This is indeed correct *while* treating for whitespot/ick. But once the whitespot is dealt with, reduce the temperature to around 25. These are not fish that live in very warm water. More heat = less oxygen, and that'll make the fish less happy and the bacteria less efficient.> I also noticed that it's only when I first added the Protozin that there was a weird smell coming out from the tank and that it went after a couple of hours. Every time I add the medicine the tank smells. I also wanted to mention that when I raised the temperature, I did it in one go - when I was reading some of the messages people had put online they all advised each other on raising it one degree a day - I didn't do that, I only did it all at once because I didn't know. Could this be why it smells? <No.> I have not done the water change yet, so do you think I should wait until day 6? <If you can, wait. But if the fish clearly look ill, then you have to do a water change of 50%.> My two pictuses are starting to look a bit sick as in their fins are turning opaque a bit and do look a bit ragged. <That's likely Finrot.> Also, when I feed them I feed them about a little less then half a cube of blood worms, a pellet each (tetra ones) and about half a pack of jellied daphnia. I feed them a different thing each day like you said, but perhaps it is too much for them. <Too much. Stop feeding them completely while they are sick. Once they are healthy, switch to feeding once every two days, and even then only a small quantity of food. As I said earlier, about the same amount as would fit on the fingernail on your little finger.> What do you think I should do? Thanking you, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.> Hi Neale, I have a 200 gallon tank I could move them into once they are healthy - but I have two bala sharks already in this tank who are perfectly healthy... <Don't mix sick fish with healthy fish.> so I don't know if it's wise to move them in now, as the bala sharks might catch the white spot? <Perfectly possible.> Anyway, should I do a water change now? Thing is, I did a water change every week since I got them, the did two water changes before I put the medicine in. They really don't look well at all, so I should do the water change now and then continue with the Protozin and feed them a little every two days until they look healthy again? <Do the water change, and don't feed the fish for the next few days and see if the water clears up.> Thanks , Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.> Hi Neale, I was wondering about something, thought I would just ask you quickly. This tank was new and the pictuses are the first two fish to live in it - so how did they catch white spot? <Likely had it at the store. This is why we quarantine fish, to keep diseases from getting into our home aquaria.> I did read online that apparently it's bad to mix the water that your fish comes in with the water in the tank, as it may contain white spot, because some of the fish in a few tanks in that fish shop are dead on the gravel. <Indeed, you should put the new fish into a bucket with the water from the bag. Then add a few cups of water from the fish tank over the next 30 minutes. Then lift the fish out and put it into the tank. Ideally, you're putting it into a quarantine tank. This doesn't stop whitespot if the fish are already infected, but it does reduce do something to help keep out the motile whitespot parasites (which swim in the water looking for hosts). But the tank these two fish were in did not seem like it had any unhealthy fish. <Most aquarium stores have water that flows between multiple tanks and one big filter. So even if one tank seems devoid of sick fish, that doesn't guarantee anything. The better stores will use UV to reduce the chances of diseases moving about, but this isn't an 100% fix.> Do you know how it could have happened? <Not exactly, but I can guess. The fish had whitespot when you bought them. After a few days the cysts matured and you saw the spots. In the meanwhile, a combination of the whitespot itself damaging the skin together with poor water quality/overcrowding has led to Finrot.> Also, I did not vacuum the gravel today I just took a small bucket and took water straight out of the tank, that does not matter does it? <That's fine for a water change. Under normal circumstances, the gravel doesn't need to be cleaned every week. Once a month is fine, perhaps less if the tank has lots of plants and is otherwise well maintained.> I mean I have just ordered a gravel vacuum and waiting for it to come, that's why I can't clean the gravel. <I don't use a gravel cleaner anyway. Just a stick and a siphon. Stir gravel with the stick, and use the siphon to suck away any dirt.> But I assume that it's not important to vacuum the gravel if it hardly shows any dirt on it? <Visible dirt doesn't directly harm fish. Dirty tanks tend to be poorly maintained tanks, but in itself silt is harmless. Check out the "wild" and you'll see a lot of silt! Fish get harmed by the invisible things -- nitrite, ammonia.> I mean mine does not look like there is any mess on it. I am expecting to vacuum the gravel next week. Should I continue with the Protozin just the same because I did the water change, does that mean the concentration has been diluted now? I am on the fourth day now, and you said I should put the next dosage on day 6. Then water change on day 8. Proceed with this? <Precisely; carry on as if you had NOT done a water change.> Thanks and sorry for pestering you so much, but I just want to be sure. Neervana <I suspect, my friend, that the time has come to invest in a good aquarium book. <<Hallelujah! RMF>> A lot of these questions are fundamental to the hobby, and having a nice book with the facts laid out fair and square will be very helpful. Visit your local public library and test drive a few tropical fish books. When you've found one you like, BUY IT! Trust me, compared to anything else you will get in the hobby, a good aquarium book is BY FAR the best use of your cash. Cheers, Neale.>

It's not going away... Pim., ich...    2-4-08 Hi Neale, I've added my last dose of Protozin to my aquarium now, and today I noticed that one of the pictuses (who was infected first) is completely covered in white spot. It's not going away! and I'm on day 4!!!Now what do I do? This Protozin is not working, they just seem to be getting worse. There whiskers have gone curly and they look like they are getting fin rot. <This isn't good.> Should I finish off the Protozin, and start on another med? I can't find eSHa 2000 anywhere. <Try online. It really is the best I've used. In any event, trying an alternate brand will do no harm. Make double sure you are using correctly, especially when calculating the dosages, removing carbon, etc.> What other medicine do you have in mind (that I could get from my LFS)? <Without visiting your aquarium store, I can't possibly know what products they have. I would use salt + temperature at this stage. Tonic salt ideally. 2-3 teaspoons per gallon, 28-30 C. Raise the salinity/heat gradually across a couple of days. Leave running for at least a week. Then do water changes across a couple more days to reduce the salinity again. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > And, if there is another alternative to medicating the catfish again, because it doesn't seem to be doing them any good. Thanks, Neervana. <Do read Bob's article as linked above. Cheers, Neale.> <<Raise that dang temperature!!! Thank goodness. B>>

Some help! Pim., ich, Neale...   2-05-08 Hi Neale, <Hello again.> So tomorrow I have to do my 50% water change as the Protozin treatment ends. I went into my LFS today and the lady there told me to just start the Protozin treatment all over again. What do you think? <Do the salt/high temperature plan mentioned last time. Stop with the Protozin; obviously isn't working. Salt/temperature will *definitely* do the trick.> Other then making the Pictuses' whiskers get a bit short, it doesn't seem to have triggered any bad reactions in them. <Good.> I ordered eSHa 2000 but the lady said it will take 1-2 weeks for it to get here, as she only has one person who can get it for her. <Oh.> So what do you think, should I start the treatment again, because the catfish do look bad and they are covered in whitespot. <No.> Also, can I feed them on dried shrimp? <If they eat it, sure. But I wouldn't be putting too much food in this aquarium just yet. Enough to keep them healthy, but no more. The big problem with Whitespot is it allows secondary infections to get in, and poor water quality makes that more likely.> I saw them in the LFS today. If I'm going to do my water change tomorrow, I do 50% in the morning, 50% in the evening right? <Fine.> Then on Thursday I re-start treatment? <No. Do the salt/temperature protocol instead.> What fish book do you think I should get, the LFS don't have any. <Oh, there's any number. My first book was "Guide to Community Fishes" by Dick Mills. He's an old school writer, but very good and easy to read. TFH's "The Simple Guide to Fresh Water Aquariums" is pretty good in terms of the basics, as is "A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" by Gina Sandford. I get most of my aquarium books second hand in old book stores, and I'm sure half an hour spend browsing a used book shop where you live would turn up some gems. The basics of fishkeeping are really very simple and have been known for years, and doubtless any fairly modern book would set you right.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Some help!    2-05-08 Hi Neale, <Hello,> Thank you for the quick replies. So how exactly should I do the salt treatment? <I spelled it out a couple questions back, and it's described in detail on that web page about Whitespot (or Ick, as the Americans call it). So go check your e-mails.> And I need aquarium salt? <Ideally, yes, plain old tonic salt will do. Don't use marine salt mix, because that raises the hardness and pH, which you don't really want to do.> I don't have any of those except for table salt (which I read is bad on the Internet because it has anti caking stuff in it but some other people are saying its harmless concerning treatments). <Yeah, I've heard this to. Personally, I'd go with what I know, which is plain tonic salt for treatment. I *have* used cooking salt for dips, where the fish goes in for a few minutes, but I've never added it to an aquarium. So I can't confirm whether or not cooking salt is safe this way. If you MUST use cooking salt, at least get the "gourmet" rock salt that doesn't have any additives. I believe Kosher salt also lacks additives, and is widely sold in gourmet food stores as well as ethnic food markets.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help, fishy help web ppl. Pim., ich...       2/8/08 Hi Neale, The Pictus Catfish are getting worse and worse. The treatment for whitespot is not working, and they both look like their fins are being eaten. Most of the fins have nearly gone. I don't want to do this, but I want to get rid of them I can't stand looking at them trying to swim around in this way. They look like they are in pain, but most of their fins are gone, I don't think they will be able to survive. What should I do? I know the LFS won't take them. Thanks, Neervana. <Neervana, tell me what "treatment" you're doing first. Are you doing the salt + temperature treatment PRECISELY as described in the article you were directed to? Or are we still messing about with the Protozin? Have you done water quality tests? Get back to me on these before you ask any more questions, because without knowing which treatment you're doing, or what the environment is like, I can't offer any constructive help. Whitespot is normally VERY easy to cure; if it isn't going away, then you are clearly not doing something right. When it doesn't get cured *despite* using a copper-based medication, it's usually because the user has put the wrong amount in, or else left carbon in the filter. If you are doing the salt + temperature thing, that WILL work, but it doesn't kill the cysts on the fish, just the free-living parasites. So you add the salt, raise the temperature, and then wait a couple days until the cysts burst. The salty water kills the free living parasites that emerge, and your fish get better. Whitespot doesn't make the fins go away; if the fins are decaying, that's something else entirely, likely Finrot. Finrot is often (almost always) associated with poor water quality, hence my NEED to know the nitrite concentration in the tank. If you have any nitrite in the water, that's too much, especially for fish as sensitive as these. If this was me, I'd do a 50% water change. I'd make sure the new water had the salt added, at a dose of about 2-3 teaspoons per gallon. I'd raise the temperature to 82F/28C. Then tomorrow I'd do another 50% water change, also adding salty water. I'd then repeat this, doing at least 25% water changes every day from now on until things look better. My assumption is -- and it's only a guess -- that your tank is inadequately filtered and overstocked, and between messing about with the medication, you've not put the right dose into the tank. Between these two things, the fish are fighting Whitespot and Finrot at the same time. You MUST do PRECISELY what I say here to stand any chance of saving these fish! Don't be creative or clever or try to experiment. Follow my instructions. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help, fishy help web ppl. Pim., ich...  Hi Neale, <Neervana> I did a 50% water change in the morning as you said and then a 50% water change in the morning. I was going to buy aquarium salt tomorrow morning from the LFS but yesterday night I noticed that the fish had nearly all of their fins missing and that there was only a few strands left. since doing two 50% water changes yesterday I have not added any medication to the tank at all because it says not to add any anything else to the tank, to wait for 48 hours before adding any more treatment. <Perhaps true, but this doesn't refer to salt, merely other MEDICINES. Please, add the salted water ASAP.> The fish look bad in health. I think there is algae in my tank because when I did that water change I could see some kind of white cloud (jelly like) floating around in the tank and took it out with a net. <Forget about the algae. The white gunk is probably bacteria or fungus, which tend to accumulate in small, dirty tanks. It might also be slime from the fish, but I don't think your fish are big enough for that.> But it's cleared up now with the water change. I just tested the water with those Tetra 5 in 1 sticks and for the nitrite its showing up as colourless to very very light pink (indicating there is a bit in the water?) on the test. <Any Nitrite -- repeat: ANY NITRITE!!! -- is B-A-D bad. Can't make this any more plain. Nitrite damages fish. It's like carbon monoxide to humans. Whether it's a little or a lot doesn't matter a whole bunch, the fact it's there at all is a bad sign.> The pH is showing up as 7.6 and KH and GH is showing up as 10. <Basically fine for this species.> I can get the salt and do the treatment tomorrow but I don't know if there is any hope, they look so wretched. <I bet.> Thanking you, Neervana. <Good luck (to you all!) Neale.>

Re: Help, fishy help web ppl. Pim., ich... Hi Neale, <Hail.> when I woke up today I was watching the pictus fish and then one of them died. He was floating at the surface upside down. I don't know why, but the other seems to be improving - swimming crazily up and down, but the fins have turned dark grey - is this fin rot? <Possibly. Finrot is usually where the fin membrane looks "dead" (grey, white, often with a pinkish tone especially at the margins). But one thing at a time. Let's deal with the whitespot, and then we can address the Finrot (which will require some sort of medication, e.g. my preferred medication for this, eSHa 2000).> I have started doing the salt treatment like you say. Shall I raise the temp to 30 degrees? <Hmm... you're at 28C now, right? I'd go up one degree C per day just to make sure the fish adapt. As you add heat, you lose oxygen.> Fom Neervana <Cheers, Neale.>

Hi Neale, <Hello again!> I'm adding the salt a bit at a time just to make sure the fish can adapt to it - there's only one pictus in the tank now, do you think it can take the salt and not die from it? <This level of salinity is very low (about 5-10% that of seawater) and well within the tolerances of freshwater fish.> it's just that since I have added the salt it seems to have stopped swimming so fast and is now at the bottom breathing really hard. <Press on anyway. It's going to die if you don't [a] fix the whitespot and [b] deal with the Finrot and [c] improve water quality. So all you can do is attend to those things, and then hope for the best. In any case, make sure the water is as clean as possible, doing regular water changes. Improve the aeration if possible, if only by ensuring the filter is working properly and circulating the water in the tank evenly.> I did add it very slowly. I mixed the salt with aquarium water and added a bit in each hour slowly. But the fish seems to be getting really affected by it. What if it dies? <It won't have died because you're adding a small amount of salt to the aquarium. Look to other issues.> Should I stop on continue? <Continue.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ... Pictus Fish 2/9/08 Hi Neale, <Hello,> So tomorrow I'm going to do a water change again (is this too soon or ok?), and just keep on adding bit of the salt solution every hour that I prepared. <Good.> I made it today - just added the required dosage in a bucket of aquarium water and kept it there. I really want to buy another tank. Even though I just got this 10 gallon I want it as a quarantine aquarium. I already have a 200 gallon with 2 big bala sharks but I don't want to risk them getting infected, so I want to buy a 150-200 gallon again. <Pimelodus pictus and Bala Sharks will mix extremely well, so I'd keep them together. As you say, you need to fix the whitespot first. That said, if the water quality on the 10-gallon tank is bad (i.e., there is nitrite there) I'd personally move the remaining Pictus to the Bala Shark 200 gallon tank, where water quality will be perfect. I'd immediately raise the salinity/temperature in that tank though, so that the whitespot parasite can't spread to the Bala Sharks. It's important to understand how Whitespot works. It isn't a "germ" that fish catch, but a parasite that lives in one fish for a while, then swims into the water, where it turns into hundreds of infective parasites. These look for a host. If the water is salty, these infective parasites die before they find a host, and THAT is how you use salt to stop whitespot. If you do this properly, there's ZERO risk to the Bala Sharks. If you mess up and don't do what you're meant to, then yes, the Bala Sharks could get sick.> Problem is I don't know where to buy one from, and I don't know which one is best. Would you mind telling me which one I ought to get, my pet shop does not help at all, they never know anything. <There's no "best" tank, though for a school of Pictus catfish I'd be looking at something around the 180 litre/40 gallon size. But to be honest, I'd think your catfish would be fine with the Bala Sharks.> I even had an argument with the owner once because she thought it was perfectly fine to keep SIX black ghost knife fish in a FIVE gallon aquarium together. <Hmm...> So I don't think I can trust her judgment anymore. Unfortunately that is the only petshop close to me. <Try online. Join a Tropical Fish Forum of some sort, so you can chat with other fishkeepers. This is fun, and you'll learn a lot. They'll also recommend shops. Magazines are always a good idea too. PFK has a regular "shop tour" feature where they go around the country looking at tropical fish shops.> So if you would tell me which brand or tank I could get online and where to get it I would be extremely grateful. Thanking you, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Help Hi Neale, I'm not sure whether the whitespot has gone on the pictus or is still here, she seems better than last time (very active, has stopped breathing hard, no longer stays on the bottom but swims everywhere, fins are no longer clamped to her side) - thanks to you and the salt. <All sounds promising.> But the thing is the fin rot seems to be getting worse. Her fins have turned a dark grey now, and seems to be getting a bit pink-red. Her whiskers seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Do you think it's a good idea for me to keep on doing the salt treatment until next Wednesday and then switch to some other medication for fin rot? <You can safely use Finrot medication PLUS salt. Won't do any harm using them together. As ever, make sure you have removed carbon from the filter.> I will have to order in the eSHa 2000 then if that's the only one you think will be safe to use on her, but I will have to know now because it will take a week for me to get it. <For Finrot, I've found eSHa 2000 works well.> I've already medicated her so much with that Protozin that I would feel better if I knew I was using something mild. <In my experience, it is safe with catfish and other delicate species.> As per your instructions, the temp is now up to 30 degrees c. (did raise it slowly, one degree a day) Another thing, I have this Aquael heater in the tank, and it's got some white powder stuff at the bottom of it. When I took it out to clean it, I saw that some of the powder has gone dark brown inside the glass. Why is that? Does this means I need to buy another heater because this one won't work anymore all that powder stuff's used up? <The white stuff is likely either salt or lime, precipitating out of solution. It's quite normal, and you can wipe it away under a tap. Remember, never place a warm heater in cold water: it is liable to crack. So unplug, let it cool down, and then clean. Your fish will be fine for half an hour without the heater.> Also, tell me when to start medicating for Finrot and when to stop. <I'd start at once.> Thanks, don't know what I would do without you. Neervana. <Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help... Pim...   2/10/08 Hi Neale, I'm worried that the fish may die before I get the fin rot medicine. Do you think it will die before Monday? <I have no idea.> Its fins are nearly black, and is lined in dark pink now. If I do a water change tomorrow as well do you think it will survive until Monday evening? I'm worried because its Finrot condition seems to have become worse in a day or two. What should I do? Will the salt and water changes I have been doing help the Finrot too? <May help to some degree, but won't cure, and you *do* need to treat, and soon. You could try doing a short saltwater dip. 30 grammes salt in 1 litre of water (taken from the fish tank). Dip the fish for a couple of minutes, once or twice per day. In theory fish can be dipped for up to 20 minutes, but let's be cautious for now. The saltwater will help kill the bacteria on the fins and cleans up the wounds. Do be careful: remove the catfish if it shows signs of losing balance while being dipped. Maybe do a 1 minute dip first, and then 2 minutes a few hours later. Repeat this until you get the proper medication, at which point stop.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help... Pim... Interpet? Hi Neale, When I rang the LFS the lady who I spoke to said that it was not possible for them to get esha2000 for another two weeks and that the only medication they have for Finrot is Interpet Finrot and Fungus. I asked her if it was ok for pictus catfish and she said yes. Should I buy it? Advantage is that I can get it today and start treatment today. What do you think? Should I wait or get it? <Interpet products are usually very good. Go for it! You need to treat the catfish soon, and questions over which brand the local pet shop has are really secondary.> update: Catfish seems to be improving, does not look so stressed and is used to me cleaning the tank now. Hardly notices. <Good. Sounds as if things are improving.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Interpet? Hi Neale, Well I got the medication and added it to the tank. It doesn't say when I should keep adding it to the tank or for how long, like with the Protozin. Do you know how long I should be doing it? Should I do a water change tomorrow then add it again or leave it like that? Thanks, Neervana <Neervana -- Of course it tells you how often to add it! Read the instructions! Interpet products have both [a] instructions printed on the bottle; and [b] a little booklet in the box that tells you how to use all of their products. In most cases you have to mix the "potion" with some warm water and then evenly distribute it across the surface of the tank. The instructions will explicitly state how many doses are required. I am not familiar with this particular potion so can't tell you off the top of my head. But a few minutes spent READING THE INSTRUCTIONS is always time well spent. I would avoid doing water changes until the course of medication is finished. But obviously if the ammonia/nitrite levels are critical, do water changes. And please, don't try and get creative. Do exactly the dosing the package tells you. Have someone else read the instructions if you find them confusing. Making mistakes with medications can either have the medicine do nothing or else kill the fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pim. Help   2/11/08 Hi Neale, It's day two since I put that InterPet med in the tank. I can't see any changes in the pictus. Do you think it's working? <If used properly, yes.> Also, If my nitrite levels go high, should I do a 30% change and then add the medicine again? <Do the water change, but don't add any more medicine until the next dose in the treatment described on the leaflet.> I looked up the fungus and fin rot medicine and some people say that it can stay in the tank for as long as a week and that I should wait for a week before doing a water change. I don't think I will feed the pictus for another two days. <Fine.> But if the water does become toxic how much should I take out? <50%> When will I see changes, if any? <Assuming the bacteria are killed, fin tissue should grow back over the next few weeks.> Also, I am definitely getting another 200 gallon tank and this time housing a Black Ghost Knife fish in there, but I heard that they do not like new tank set ups. <Indeed. They are very delicate.> So how long do you think I should cycle the new one before its safe enough to put a black ghost knife in there? <Six months.> Should I be adding in anything to cycle it? <Time.> Obviously I would want a fishless cycle, as that means less heartbreak for me and a better life for the fish LOL so how long do you think I would need to let the water stay in there for? <If you're cycling with a product (e.g., Bio Spira) follow the instructions, and then stock with suitable fish to keep providing ammonia for the filter bacteria. If you cycle the tank, and then don't add any fish or feed the bacteria ammonia some other way, the bacteria obviously die. I'd cycle the tank, and then add a Plec or something.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: White Spot coming back... Pim...  2/13/08 Hi Neale, I think that the white spot has come back. I saw the catfish rubbing itself against the gravel again. I'm worried, because I can't see any spots, but it can see it flicking against the gravel. On the other hand, the fin rot seems to be going away, its fins are healing nicely. I'm just worried that the white spot is coming back, if so, what should I do? I have to do a water change tomorrow. Should I treat the pictus for white spot with the Protozin and salt? I don't want it to get white spot like last time again, but it might not have white spot. I'm not sure. I also don't want it to get to a stage when it has spots on it, then gets fin rot again. What do you think I should do? Thanks, Neervana. <Keep treating with the Finrot remedy (if required) and the Salt/Temperature protocol. Do a nice big (50%) water change when the first treatment for the Finrot finishes. You probably don't need to use the Finrot medication *unless* you think the fins are still infected. If they're clean and growing back, leave things be. The Salt/Temperature should take care of the Whitespot, and after a couple weeks you should then move it to the Bala Shark tank where water quality is better. I'm worried the TANK is making this fish sick because it is small/polluted. Cheers, Neale.>

Problem, Pim., more chatting   2-16-08 Hi Neale, I put my pictus in the bala shark tank and I was observing her...She seems to be acting weirdly. She darts about really crazily and then sits on the gravel for a few minutes then swims in circles and then sits down again breathing rather fast. <Did you acclimate her to the new tank properly? Did you check that both tanks had the same temperature, pH, and hardness?> I don't know if there is anything wrong with her, she seems very healthy now, but can't be sure. <Assuming water chemistry/quality issues are okay, I'd not be too worried. Turn out the lights, and don't bother feeding her. Give her the night to settle in.> Why is she acting like this? <Who knows.> do Pictus catfish need rest? <Sure.> Also, I tried to feed her a pea but she just ignored it. How do I get her to eat it? <She won't be interested in food for at least 12 hours after moving tanks. Do please read some general fishkeeping books. This is a basic aspect of fish care (or indeed animal care generally). Animals HATE changes and LOATHE surprises. What they want is routine. When you take them from 'home' and dump them somewhere completely different, it takes a while for them to adjust.> Just trying to keep some veg in the diet. <Very good.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Problem  2-16-08 Hi Neale, The nitrates and nitrites are both zero in the tank, (showing up as white on the test strip) and the pH is 7.6 the pictus is just sitting down, been doing that for ages now, just breathing a bit fast and lying on the gravel. <Do check the water isn't too warm and that their is sufficient circulation to keep the bottom water mixing with the top.> Don't know what to do really.. she has been having these spasms every time she moves and swims really fast, and then stops and has that spasm thing again. What do you think this could be? <No idea.> should I move her back to the other tank? <Long past remembering the differences between all these tanks. All I can say is that my advice is to keep this fish in a mature, large aquarium with good water current and appropriate water chemistry. Also make an effort to read and learn about Pimelodidae catfish.> Thanks, Neervana <Cheers, Neale.>

Lima Shovelnose not feeding and other questions - 7/20/07 Dear WWM crew - <Hello!> I recently bought a 6 - 7" Lima shovelnose (about 5 days ago) from a LFS and put it into a 125 gallon (long) tank with a 7 - 8" clown knife. While at first the clown knife would nip at it (only the first day), it has stopped and I have not observed it biting the shovelnose at all in the last few days. <Ah yes, Clowns are famous for being intolerant of tankmates. Let's hope they've settled down now. Sometimes they do... sometimes they don't. So watch carefully. That poor Lima will be simply taken apart by an angry Clown Knife!> In any case, as can be inferred from my subject line of this email, the shovelnose has not eaten anything yet. <Not unusual with predatory catfish immediately after import and transport to a new aquarium. The lack of dither fish (e.g., large characins) will be making the catfish feel very exposed and consequently unsettled. They're also somewhat sociable, and on their own are definitely more nervous than otherwise.> I have been offering it live earthworms dug from my yard (no pesticides, no herbicides, nothing artificial in my lawn). <Sounds ideal. An "organic" garden is a wonderful source of live foods!> Even when I drop the earthworm right on top of it, the catfish doesn't eat it. <Give it time.> Instead, it seems startled and darts away to the other side of the tank, or just ignores the earthworm as it falls by it, even when it brushes its whiskers. <Sorubim lima is one of the more nervous of the Pimelodidae, and it isn't going to eat until it feels settled. Don't worry -- adult predatory cats can go many days, if not weeks, without food.> I've tried feeding both with and without the lights on in my tank with the same result (when the lights are off, there is an external light on in the room). However, when I fed my clown knife a monster earthworm a couple days ago (literally around 5" long) and it was having a little difficulty getting it all down, the shovelnose did try to take the bit of earthworm dangling out the clown knife's mouth away from it. All subsequent attempts at feeding it have failed. <Well, it sounds as if he is getting peckish. Try some alternative foods. Frozen bloodworms are always good value with catfish. Bits of prawn and white fish are also good. Mealworms are worth a shot. When I've kept predatory cats one food that always goes down well is a small bit of raw salmon or mackerel. The oils in these fishes sends them wild! The downside is they heavily pollute the tank, so schedule a water change right afterwards. Basically, try all sorts of different things.> In regards to tank conditions, pH is 7.0, ammonia, nitrate and nitrites are all 0 though the water is a bit hard (well water from New England). I was wondering if there was anything that I could do to try and get this the shovelnose to eat. <Add another shovelnose and some dither fish might be one good idea. But failing that, just be patient and persistent.> The shovelnose also just sits there in the tank, hovering slightly above the gravel, though at times it will go up and down the side of the tank that it is on, which is a bad thing - I think. <Completely normal. These fish are famous for resting at odd angles, even head downwards, with their bodies pressed against some solid surface. It's apparently what they do.> Is this normal behavior for a lima shovelnose or am I just being a bit paranoid? <A little from column A, a little from column B...> Also, when I toss in the worms, if the clown knife or the catfish don't eat them, I usually remove them by hand. However, I am worried that this is stressful for the fish and so I was wondering if maybe you have a suggestion as to how to feed them the earthworms instead of just dropping them in or dangling them at the top of the water. <Well, you should certainly try not to add too much food at once. But I agree, sticking your hand in a few minutes later may well upset a catfish in two minds about whether to feed or not. But if you add only small earthworms to begin with, then either the cat or the knife will eat them, so there's no real risk of pollution.> I also have another question. I know that clown knives can get up to around 3' in an aquarium and I was wondering how compatible the shovelnose would be with the clown knife once they are fully grown. <Clown Knives are notoriously unreliable as community fish. Some specimens are fine, others less so. The males (if I recall correctly( guard a nest in the wild, so possibly its the males that are more territorial. Really, all you can do is wait and see. Aquarium specimens of Chitala chitala typically reach about 60cm/2' in aquaria.> I do plan to buy a 300 gallon long tank, for the clown knife at least, and if need be I always figure that I could just keep the shovelnose in the 125 gallon tank. <Sounds like a plan. You can easily keep two or three Sorubim lima in the 125 gallon tank, plus a few midwater dither fish like spanner barbs to make everyone feel comfortable. Add some big plastic plants and a few bits of wood, and it'd be a really attractive aquarium as well.> Also, in a 300 gallon tank, and before that the 125 gallon tank, would it be alright to introduce 1 silver / black arowana and 1 fire eel? <Fire eel yes, though they are *far* from easy to keep. Arowana also possible, but although widely traded they are rather more demanding animals than people expect, and can be extremely territorial.> I realize that an arowana by itself should have 300 gallons, but I figure that it's a primarily top swimming fish while the shovelnose and fire eel are bottom inhabitants and the clown knife is a mid to bottom level inhabitant. <That's the theory, anyway. Certainly such combinations have been done. But there are no guarantees. Silver arowana are the least aggressive arowanas, so that's one thing in your favour. Fire eels generally keep out of everyone's way, but they do demand a cave to call home, so you'll need to find a way to create territories for the eel and the Knife.> In any case, the shovelnose could be kept in the 125 gallon while the other fish are in the 300 if that would be too much fish. <Indeed. I'd actually keep the Sorubim lima as a group in their own tank. They're relatively small animals and very gentle. Fire eels would work well with them. Arowanas, possibly. The Clown, I'm less confident about.> Finally (I know, it's a lot of reading. Thanks for bearing with me), I was wondering if it would be alright if I took an uprooted tree trunk, probably pine or oak, from my backyard and put it into the tank (first the 125 and then transferring it to the 300). <This is really, REALLY difficult to answer. In theory, you can put wood into aquaria without too much harm. Done it myself, primarily as a source of food for my Panaque catfish. But, wood that hasn't been "cured" rots, and the rotting messes up water quality and also reduces the pH significantly (both through normal decay and the release of tannic acids). So while I've certainly added small bits of wood lifted from streams and not had problems, I wouldn't expect a whole tree stump to be safe. This is one of those times where being cautious probably makes sense. A big bit of bogwood may be expensive, but at least its safe. For what it's worth, you can get some bargains on eBay and the like when it comes to bogwood. Artificial tree stumps are also worthwhile, and can look very realistic once a bit of algae has covered them up.> Obviously I would soak it in water for a day or two first to get rid of all the insects living inside. The only problem that I could see is it slowly rotting in the tank, but I don't know for sure what this would do. <Curing wood for use in aquaria takes more than a day or two! Even sticks an inch in diameter are leaching acids months after I've collected them. So a tree stump would probably need curing for a couple of years!> Thanks in advance (and for reading this very long email), - Raymond <Hope this helps, and good luck. Neale>

A couple of questions, pimelodid... sys.,  comp.   7/13/07 Hello! <<Good morning, Meghan. Tom here.>> First I'd like to say that I love your site. I find it extremely useful and most of my questions have been answered. <<Very happy to hear this, Meghan, and thank you.>> That aside, I can't seem to find much on pictus catfish. I got him about 2 months ago from a pet store that assured me he would be fine in a 7 gallon tank. <<Not hardly! These guys need lots of swimming room. Far, far more than a 7-gallon tank could possibly afford.>> He was about an inch or two long, and I had no idea just how big these guys can get. He's now maybe 3 or 4 inches, and I noticed about 2 weeks ago that he's started swimming in circles following his reflection. <<Going stir-crazy, no doubt.>> I went to the store (a different one from the one I got him in) to ask why he might be doing this and the fish person was horrified that he was in the small tank he was in. She said he needed to be in at least a 30 gallon or it could kill him. <<I'd go even higher than this but the lady was absolutely correct.>> I don't want to kill him so I talked to my fiancé and we decided to get a bigger tank, which we set up yesterday and are in the process of cycling. It is a 75 gallon with live plants and we were advised to use stress zyme so that it will cycle faster. <<Wonderful decision on the tank, Meghan! (Your fiancé gets credit, too!) As for the Stress Zyme, there are a number of factors that determine how quickly a tank will cycle. Depending on how heavily planted the tank is, this alone may be just as effective at speeding things up as adding the Stress Zyme. No harm either way, however.>> I plan on transferring my pictus along with my Chinese algae eater in about a week to this new tank. <<I'll reserve my comments on the CAE but I'll confess that I'm not a fan of these fish.>> I have been researching tankmates since I finished setting up my system and I can't find anything anywhere that answers what will safely live with these two. <<Maybe I won't reserve my comments after all. Your Pictus is a 'natural' predator, insects primarily but not entirely. Larger South American Cichlids do quite well with these fish as they'll grow too large for the Pictus to bother with. Smaller fish like Neons would be on the menu, however. (Just about anything that will fit in its mouth should be avoided.) Your CAE is another story. Angelfish, for example, would get along well with your catfish but would likely become a target for the CAE, which is well-known to attach itself to the bodies of slower moving fish and feed on the slime coating/flesh of its 'victims'. Not a pleasant creature and one I heartily recommend against keeping, by and large. This isn't to say that some folks don't keep these fish without a problem but I don't consider it a worthwhile risk, personally.>> I currently have them with some danios and mollies, which will be moved to a 30 gallon as soon as my fiancé's parents bring it over. <<Good. The Mollies aren't compatible with the Pictus where water conditions are concerned preferring alkaline water over the softer, more acidic water that the Pictus enjoys. The Danios, of course, are less picky about their conditions but, depending on their sizes, might be viewed as a challenging "treat" down the line.>> I really like cichlids and I was wondering how well that combination will work out. <<As I mentioned, Meghan, Cichlids would do well with your Pictus but choose appropriately. Not all Cichlids are 'created equal' and the African varieties need far different water (hard, alkaline) parameters than do their South American cousins.>> I also have wanted to get an Oscar for awhile but I don't know how well these will work with my pictus since they tend to be aggressive fish. <<The huge benefit you have working for you here is the size of your tank. Oscars can, indeed, be aggressive animals but I don't think they would find your Pictus to be an inviting target. In fact, a group of Pictus would do very nicely with an Oscar since Pictus prefer to shoal.>> I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions as to what would work best with these two. I was also wondering if I should consider getting a second pictus once my tank is up and running or if he will be better as the only one there. <<Rather than getting too specific, Meghan, I've given you a broader grouping of fish, i.e. the South American Cichlids, to look at. (Everyone has his/her own tastes, after all.) My only admonition here would be to select fish that grow suitably large. As for a second, third or fourth Pictus, be my guest. As stated, these are shoaling fish and do fine in groups. Better than alone, frankly.>> Thanks a bunch for your time! Meghan <<Hope this helps a bit, Meghan. Congrats on the new tank and best of luck in the future to you and your fiancé. Tom>> Re: A couple of questions, pimelodid... sys.,  comp.   7/13/07 <<Hello again, Meghan.>> After thinking and talking it over, we have decided to get 2 more pictus and an Oscar. <<Sounds good, Meghan.>><RMF would NOT do this... too likely the Pictus will be damaged, end up stuck in the Oscars mouth.> I was wondering if you had any recommendations as far as what type of Oscar and where to get them. <<Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus) come in a variety of coloration schemes due to selective breeding, Meghan. Once again, this is really a subjective choice on the parts of you and your fiancé. The so-called Pink (Albino?) Oscar is rumored to be about the least aggressive of them but I'm afraid I have no first-hand knowledge of this. I'm a little biased toward Red Oscars just for their coloration but that's me.>> Should we go through the local PetSmart or order them online? <<Skip PetSmart, Meghan. If you don't have a local LFS that you trust, a reputable e-tailer is the much better choice. I have a local LFS that I do business with exclusively so I'm not the best one to ask regarding online ordering but a little research should put you on the right track. I know from other WWM members that there are a good number of very reputable e-tailers available but I've not, personally, done business with any of these.>> I doubt it, but I was curious also if I could fit a few other cichlids in the tank or just leave it at these fish. <<I would resist the temptation, Meghan. A full-size Oscar is going to command even your 75-gallon tank, the Pictus notwithstanding. Better to leave your stocking levels as you see them now.>> And finally, should I add the 2 pictus and Oscar at the same time, or stagger it? <<The rule-of-thumb here is to add the more aggressive fish later. What you want to avoid, of course, is allowing your Oscar to 'claim' the tank and, then, add new fish afterward. That said, I would be terribly remiss if I didn't highly recommend quarantining your fish before adding them to your display tank. We, too frequently, kind of gloss over this procedure but it's absolutely the best way to ensure that the main tank is getting "healthy" additions. I would go with the Pictus first, in this case, and then the Oscar. If quarantining isn't feasible, you shouldn't have a problem adding the three together.>> Thank you again, Meghan <<You're very welcome. Good luck! Tom>>

General advice, FW mix of Bettas, Angels, Pictus Cats...    5/12/07 Hi to all the crew at web media, <Hello.> I have a 47.5 gallon tank and currently have 8 platies (all pairs), One  male Betta splendens, four Angel fish Genders unknown and 3 pictus catfish (Genders also unknown) could you tell me whether or not in your opinion  there could be trouble with the community I have described. <Angelfish have been reported as "fin nippers" with fancy (as opposed to wild-type) Bettas. Angels aren't otherwise "nippy" but when kept with fish as unable to swim as fancy Bettas, they're certainly happy enough to have a nibble. Angels and Pimelodus pictus, on the other hand, are an old, established combo that generally works well.> I did research and seek advice from veteran fishkeepers but would still  appreciate feedback from your site and will be very grateful. <Very good. I'd not keep the Betta in there, and would instead swap it for something like lace gouramis or some type of medium-sized schooling fish, like Australian rainbowfish or bleeding heart tetras. But if the Betta is there now, you may as well persevere and just be prepared to remove it if it looks nibbled. Your other problem with Bettas of course is they aren't able to compete for food all that well. Hand-feeding the Betta (easy enough to do) is one option here.> Thanks in advance Victor   <Hope this helps.>

Pimelodid Cat and Neotrop. Cichlid comp.  2/22/07 Hello, I have a 30 gallon with a pictus catfish, that is about 3 inches, I would like to have a pair of convicts or a pair of fire mouths. Do you think these two species will be ok together? Thank you for your time. Miriam <Mmm... likely either cichlid species would mix, get along here. If it were up to me, I'd likely choose the Firemouths... as the Convicts are much more likely to spawn... get feisty with the Catfish if so. Bob Fenner>

P. orbignyi compatibility with Redtail Catfish? fdg., comp.... A large S. Am. Ray and VERY large Catfish... in a 29?!  Need to read...  02/17/07 Hi, <Kev... we'll skip the epaulettes> I currently have a 29 gallon tank with a  6 inch Redtail Catfish and a few small fish that are there just to take up a little space. <?...> I can assure you that I have no plan on putting any size ray in a tank that small.  I will be buying a all-glass 210 gallon tank(72Lx24Wx29H) within 2 months. <Oh. This will still be too small in time> I will be running 2 Fluval FX5's and sand for substrate.   <I'd use other... posted...> I read that the P. orbignyi and the Redtail Cats are both native to the Orinoco river Basin. <With spelling improvement, yes>   That leads me to believe that they are compatible. <In terms of water quality at least> Here's my question. Would it be advisable to house these animals together? <Mmm, not really> From what I read, my tank will be large enough and I don't think that the filtration will be a problem. <Will be inadequate> I already feed my Redtail Cat bloodworms, feeders and ghost shrimp (at least 10 in the tank at all times).   <The feeders are an exceedingly poor idea... see WWM re> Lastly, where can I find the stingray.  Price doesn't really matter.  I'm just looking for a baby.  I've tried to find them online and I haven't seen them in any local pet stores. Thanx, Kevin from Az <Go to the Internet, Go to the Internet... Bob Fenner>

Sorubim lima 1/11/07... Leporinus aggression   1/12/06 Can you give me an idea of what to do? I Just purchased 1/10/07 a Sorubim lima 6" at my local ps. I have him housed in a 100 gal tank with a 7" Leporinus. As soon as I put in the catfish the Leporinus has been all over him. <Yes... some large Pencilfish species, individuals can be pure territorial terrors> I have had the tank covered with a blanket all day to try to give the cat time to adjust to the his new surroundings. <I'd remove, at least physically separate the Pencil> I notice a couple of small bite marks from the Leporinus near the cat's tail and the cat has a cloudy eye. Should I treat for ick now? <I would not...> I see no other signs of ick but I don't want to wait until it is too late! Should I remove this catfish now? Is there anyway to get the Leporinus to leave him alone? Please help- Mike <I'd remove the Leporinus... try re-acquainting them in a few weeks when the Pimelodid cat is better situated. Bob Fenner> Treatment for a laceration injury; crayfish compatibility?   11/8/06 Hi-- <Hello Erica - Jorie here> Our pictus cat has suffered a ~5mm gash on one side of its abdomen, probably thanks to Pinchy, our resident speckled crayfish. <Probably so.  Pinchy will likely continue to damage your catfish, as well as other tank inhabitants, depending on what you've got in there...he will likely need to live in his own tank if you don't want to hurt your fish...)   I'm wondering whether and how to treat the wound.  The cat has been pacing a bit (swimming back and forth) and its abdomen is slightly swollen.  Otherwise, its color and appetite appear to be ok. <I would suggest isolating the injured fish, keeping water conditions clean and clear, and adding MelaFix to promote speedy tissue regrowth.  Keep a very close eye to ensure no secondary infection develops at the wound site - if it does, a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Spectrogram will help.  So long as the fish is swimming, eating, and otherwise behaving OK, I don't suggest anything but quarantine, clean water and MelaFix.> Thanks in advance, -Erica <Jorie. Do try to find an alternative home for Pinchy.> Re: Treatment for a laceration injury; crayfish compatibility?  11/12/06 Dear Jorie: Thanks so much for the information!  The cat's doing much better now and seems to be on the way to a full recovery. <I'm glad to hear that.> Yes, we're looking into alternate arrangements for Pinchy. <Love the name!! You must be a Simpsons fan, also...>   She's been rather crabby and aggressive since having her first set of unsterilized eggs.  Perhaps a new, dedicated home and a boyfriend will help.  :-) <Unfortunately, I know nothing about keeping crayfish, so I can't advise you here...do read up on proper conditions, incl. whether or not a mate would be suitable prior to purchasing...> Thanks again, -Erica <You're welcome. Jorie>

Large FW Catfish fed feeders... I just found out you guys existed! Boy I could have used your help a long time ago. I didn't really have a question for ya, but wanted to tell you a story. I know you hear this a lot but I was also the victim of poor pet store knowledge (more than once) and ended up with a Pseudoplatystoma  corruscans (shovelnose catfish). <Cool cat, but very large with a larger mouth> The guy told me at the store that at about 6 inches the little guy was pretty much full grown. <LOL> I know now that that was completely false. Anyway we kept the little fella in our 33 gallon and he is was one of my favorites in the tank. Loved to eat and has really unique patterns. We were planning on keeping him till he got closer to a foot long. Unfortunately he never made it that far, he inherited what I think was a bacterial disease from some feeder comets, <Please, Please, PLEASE! No feeders unless you're willing to QT them. Garden worms and human seafood (shrimp, mussels, etc.) is far safer for these large cats.> even though we wouldn't have had him for very long I was really mad that he died so quickly (3 months). He quit moving around and had his feelers pulled back to his side. A usually quite knowledgeable fish keeper told us to just let it ride for a couple of days, thinking he might just be shedding, <Shedding??? Catfish don't shed there skin>> since he was the only one in the tank that was sick. He died the next morning. The other fish I was misinformed about is our fire eel. He lives in the same 33 gallon tank (don't worry I've treated the tank with Pimafix because whatever the catfish had it affected our leopard leaf fish, he got some body slime and cloudy eye but everyone is healthy now) and looking at your website I found out that he may get 2-4 feet long. The pet store told me he would be max a foot and a half. Right now he is just about a foot long and happily resides under a large piece of driftwood, coming out at night and to eat out of my hand, he loves frozen shrimp!<Great, safe food. But vary it somewhat.> I was wondering how long it will take for him to get too big for the tank and have to be given away. <Not really sure.> I'll miss him but it's not fair to cage him in such a small tank. <True> Will he really get 4 feet in captivity <possible, over 3 for sure.> or could we maybe get away with keeping him in a 100 gallon or more? <Would surely allow you to keep him far longer. Min. recommended size is around 80 gallons. Upgrade your plan to a 125 or 150 and you could have him for life.> Sorry to write you a novel. Pet stores should be forced to have accurately knowledgeable staff, the losers are the poor fish and pissed off purchasers. Don't rush to write me back, Amber <Don> Compatible Aggressive Fish   7/24/06 I have a 100 gallon tank with 2 red devils, red tail catfish, <Phractocephalus.... this cat by itself needs or will need more room> 5 flower horns, <? small I hope/trust> 2 algae eaters and 2 jewel cichlids. What are other compatible fish mates? <Umm... nothing. You're already more than "topped off" stock-wise here> I also have a 55 gallon that I want to start as saltwater. I have been getting mixed responses on how to start it. Please give me your input! <Take a read on WWM, fishbase.org re the ultimate likely size of these fishes... the cat will get large enough to inhale all... Bob Fenner>

Question about goldfish with catfish    4/8/06 Hiya! <Jason N. here.> I love your site - so much info! <Thank you!> I'm a new goldfish keeper - I've been keeping tropical fish (mostly tetras and danios, as well as barbs recently) for quite sometime but just got a pair of common goldfish. They're currently in a very small tank (the aunt who gave it to me used to keep goldfish in there, so I figured it was okay to get a couple for it) - once I learned it was WAY too small I set about getting a bigger tank. I have a ten gallon I will be setting up to cycle this weekend for them, and when they're too big for that I will probably give them to my parents, who have a large pond with a happy colony of goldfish. Anyway, on to my question!  I saw some pictus catfish at the pet store yesterday and am smitten. They're beautiful! My friend who works at the pet store said that catfish and goldfish go well together, but after reading a few horror stories with algae eaters and catfish attacking the goldfish I am now not so sure.  Can you tell me whether it would be okay to have a pair of young common goldfish (they're about 1.5" each) in with a pictus catfish(1.5-2" long)? I know both species can grow quite large - would they be all right in a 10 gallon tank for a year or two or will they outgrow that too quickly? My thought was to have them in the 10 gallon tank here at my office for a year or two, then move them to a bigger tank either here (if the office is ok with a bigger tank) or at home when they get bigger. I've been a pretty laid-back fishkeeper to date - no water testing, once-or-twice-a-month partial water changes, etc, but I would like to get serious about it. I have ordered a test kit and am doing a lot of reading. <That's good.  Reading and research really is a aquarist's best friend.> Many thanks for your very helpful and interesting site, and thanks in advance for any info you can give me. <I would recommend against keeping a Pictus w/Goldfish.  I have found that keeping lower stratum fish w/Goldfish is a recipe for disaster.  Goldfish take every opportunity to eat, and getting a finicky catfish to eat before the Goldfish come around will prove to be a nightmare for you.  Further, 2 Goldies and a Pictus will be a fantastic squeeze -- in fact, you may want to make the extra investment for a tank that is 20 gallons or more; your Goldies will outgrow that 10 gallon in less than a year, and you are left with MUCH less room for error with so little water.  You may find yourself spending more money as you buy equipment for a 10 gallon, and then equipment for a 20+ gallon in not too long a timeframe. Some folks have reported great success keeping Dojo loaches with Goldfish, although in my experience there are still feeding problems as I mentioned above.  The tank you are suggesting is much too small to keep Dojos, anyway. Best of luck!> Cheers, Ealasaid <Jason N.> But what does it taste like? Big Catfish.  12/24/05 Hello, <Hi.> I was just wandering if you could tell me roughly how big a Pseudomonas niger catfish grows? <It's a biggun, roughly at 3 feet (36").> Thanks. <Welcome.> Miss K. Towler <Adam J.>

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>

Firemouth Cichlid With Pictus Cat  12/15/05 I just revisited the post below, from last summer, and saw the additional note by RMF. So my follow-up question is, if not an Oscar, is there another SA cichlid you'd recommend? What about a Firemouth? Thanks MJ < The problem with adding any cichlid to this system is the fact that they will assume that the whiskers of the catfish are worms and have them bitten off in no time at all. A keyhole cichlid or festivum might work, but it would depend on the personality of the actual fish. I agree with RMF that an Oscar would be a bad idea.-Chuck> Oscar Mix 7.24.05 I'm setting up a new 135, and plan to stock it with 7 Metynnis hypsauchen and three Pimelodus pictus. Do you think a single Oscar would be a reasonable addition? If so, I'm assuming that I would want to add it 1) small and 2) last; is that right? If it spends 4 weeks in the Q-tank, is it still going to be small enough to add without undue problems? How big should the other guys be before I undertake this (if at all)? <I'd feel ok about an Oscar in this mix, 135gallons should be enough room.  Just make sure no one is small enough to fit in anyone else's mouth, mainly the Oscar's.  After 4 weeks of quarantine he will still be small enough to add to the mix.  Gage> <<RMF would not place a pictus catfish and Oscar in the same system>>

Catfish Stocking  12/12/05 Hi there, I've been lurking around your FAQ section to see if I could find any information about the actual appropriate tank size for the Sorubim lima (Shovelnose) catfish. The reason why I ask is because I am very interested as having three or two of these very cool cats, as tankmates for my Senegal Bichir. As of now I have a 48''x14''x14'' tank that my friend gave me to get me started in the aquarium hobby. In fact, he has kept four S. limas in this very tank, and stated that they lived long healthy lives before he moved into his now smaller home and had to get rid of them. The S. limas he had were all between 10'' - 13'' and were about full 'aquarium size', though they can get about two feet in the wild. I figured I would be fine for at least two years before I wanted to upgrade to the 120 - 180 gallon tank of my dreams. Please confirm that I have nothing to worry about. I would hate knowing that I was subjecting an animal to poor conditions, when everyone I know that is aquarium wise keep telling me that I'll be fine with those stock levels (x1 P. senegalus 12in., x3 S. limas 12 in.). I think I might be just paranoid. Thanks a lot for any information you give me. - Red <This should work just fine as long as you stay on top of your water changes. Try to get the Limas small and let them grow together. And be aware they will eat any fish that will fit in their mouths. Don> 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>

Setting Up A Tank For Shovelnose Cat  12/5/05 Dear WWM, I am in the process of setting up a new tank, and am interested in collecting two specimens of Sorubim lima. My tank is 75 gallons and is 4foot long and has an Eheim pro 2 external and an internal Juwel standard. I read on planet Catfish that they recommend 3 in a 55 gal tank.  I was wondering if this is accurate just to get a second opinion. I am also considering keeping a humbug catfish Platydoras costatus as well. I would like also to add a mid water species in the tank, and would be very grateful if you could advise an appropriate fish. I was looking at either Severums or torpedo barbs or maybe the glass cat. Thank you for any information you can send me as I'm finding it hard to get info for Sorubim lima regarding other fish. Best Regards Ben < Those guys at Planetcatfish.com know their stuff. If there is any misinformation on that site then they hear about it pretty quickly. When you add fish with these guys it is really a two way street. As long as the tank mates can't be eaten and have the same water requirements then the tank mates will do fine. On the other hand you don't want species that will pick at the whiskers of the catfish. I would go with the barbs. You need to make sure that the cats will get enough to eat. barbs are pretty fast eaters.-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> Body slime and eye cloud 10/7/05 I have a 2 Sorubim lima, an Oscar, a Pleco, and a Synodontis nigrita. The 2 Sorubims have a body slime infection (the color of the slime is clear). One of the Sorubims has eye cloud. <What cause/s?> The Oscar I haven't noticed a body slime infection yet but he only moves when there is food (not feeders) in the water. The Pleco and the Syno. seem to be unaffected. Also there was an albino Pictus cat in the tank and a tire track eel in the tank as well but they died (I think from the body slime). <These fishes were/are not compatible> The fish who have been affected by the body slime appear to have a problem keeping buoyancy (the fish almost have to swim upside down), they swim near the top of the tank, and a few days later die. Can you offer any advice/treatments. Thanks CJ <You're joking? What about the system? Its history? Water quality tests? Please read through WWM FW subweb re disease... Bob Fenner> 

Re: body slime and eye cloud 10/9/05 A 55 gallon tank <Too small> ...with some bog- wood and no plants (know it's small but a 110 gallon tank is going to be ordered from a local dealer a Monday). PH. 7.6, <Too high for Sorubim> nitrite 0,ammonia 8.0, <What? Toxic!> and my nitrate is a constant 80ppm. <Way too high... s/b below 20 ppm> The ammonia is high because of the medication I am using. The only disease that has been in this tank was septicemia {septicemia?} which happened 5 years ago. <I do hope you're joking here... fix this environment, quick. Bob Fenner> 

Big Catfish... Platystoma nee... Sorubimichthys Hello, I was wondering if a 4in planiceps catfish would coexist with a 3 and a half inch tiger shovelnose in a 55 gallon until they get big enough to put in a 300 gallon. Thanks! < As long as one does not get much bigger than the other and try to eat the other one they should be fine. They will grow quickly so start shopping for that bigger tank soon.-Chuck> http://fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=12145&genusname=Sorubimichthys&speciesname=planiceps

Redtail Catfish death, is a GSP the Culprit? Our South American Redtail Catfish looked like it went into shock, and eventually died awhile later. We have a green spotted puffer in the tank too, is the puffer poisonous, and could he have killed the catfish? The catfish was a very good size, a lot larger than the puffer. Ricardo & Stephanie <GSP's are not "that" toxic... the cause of death very likely unrelated. Most often Phractocephalus die from mis-feeding (feeder goldfish, or choking on another too-large, spiny fish), or "jump out"... Bob Fenner> 

Pictus cat health, behavior We have 2 Pictus catfish and they both stay hidden in each of their own spots. We have several different kinds of sharks in the 55 gal. tank. I wanted to know if there is anything we can do to make them as lively as we have heard of them to be? Thank you, Chad Crawford  <Mmm, strange they aren't active... This catfish does enjoy warmer water... upper seventies, low eighties F... and your minnow-sharks should be able to tolerate this... so I would raise your temp. if it isn't tropical. What are you feeding the Pictus? They need at least twice daily meaty foods... that get down to them... Not just flakes or pellets. This will make a huge difference in their behavior, health... Lastly and least likely, what's your water chemistry? They like soft, acidic water... but will tolerate mid hardness, neutral pH... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Pictus cat health, behavior... Uhhh, did you read the last response? We keep the temperature at about 75-76 degrees. We feed them shrimp pellets. <Could be warmer... and as stated before, they need more than pelleted food...> I'm not sure what the water chemistry is, I know it's hard water. <And what type of water do these fish prefer?> When we first got them we loved them <<no my friend, you "loved" only what they did for you>> because they swam around everywhere and were really fun to watch, but now all they do is hide in the two caves we have in the tank, guarding their area. We're wondering if maybe we should get a couple more of the Pictus Catfish and maybe they would be more active altogether. The other fish we have in the tank are 3 tiger barbs, 1 black finned shark, 1 silver tipped shark, 1 rainbow shark and 2 red tailed sharks. -Thanks! <Could add more... but your tank is already going to be overcrowded with growth of what you have... You need to alter the diet, perhaps change your water quality here. Bob Fenner> 

Shovelnose catfish Is there a shovelnose catfish that stays under 12 inches in length? <Mmm, Sorubim lima...> Or do they are all get over the 2 feet mark? I worked in a pet store for years and the only shovelnose I have ever encountered back then, were the striped shovelnose that got over 2 feet in length. We used to warn customers ahead of time before they purchased any fish that would get fairly large. Anyway, I have been out of the aquarium circuit for a few years now and I was doing research to keep myself updated. However, each aquarium books seems to have their own set of rules to follow. One book stated that the striped shovelnose catfish only reaches 8 inches in length. <We know this is incorrect...> That is why I am asking this question because I think the book is wrong. And this is also the same book which stated Clown Knife fish would only really a maximum length of 19 inches in captivity, but in the wild they grow to 4 feet. I have seen plenty of 30 inch clown knife fish pass through the pet store!!!! Let me know if there is a shovelnose cat that stays under 12 inches, thanks!!! Shannon <Plug the above name into fishbase.org or search the entire family of Pimelodidae... or see some on our site here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/pimelodids.htm  Bob Fenner> Red-tailed Catfish Hello, I bought a baby redtail catfish about 4 weeks ago and it doesn't seem to be eating much. My catfish is about 3 inches long and it seems to only eat earthworms and hotdogs. I have tried feeding it a number of other pellet form foods and it still will only eat the earthworms. I have tried withholding the earthworms for a couple of days and it still doesn't eat any of the other foods that I feed it. I have tried feeding it Hikari sinking pellets, Algae wafers, and a few other types of sinking pellets but they all seem to not get eaten. Is this a problem? Would there be any other types of food that you would suggest feeding my baby redtail catfish? <Hotdogs? Let's do a few water changes to remove the grease and spice from your water. Then try some frozen fish food like Mysis Shrimp and Bloodworms. You can also try any human saltwater seafood. Small shrimp, scallops, squid and the like, cut bite size of course. No land mammal meats. Try teasing him with a worm held up to the glass. When he gets interested, remove the worm from view and throw in whatever you are tying to feed him. Right now he does not recognize unnatural foods. Soon enough he will eat anything, and anyone, in his tank. Please test your water often. He can make a mess of things very quickly. Do as many water changes as needed to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero, nitrates below 20ppm. That will become a real chore as this fish grows. But there is a bigger problem here. That is the keeping of this fish in captivity in the first place. In my personal opinion no one should keep a redtail. They are awesome fish, striking colors with personality to boot. But there is simply no home aquarium that can house an adult. Your baby will grow to over 5 feet and will need thousands of gallons of water. Unless you have a large pond in a warm weather climate, you can't keep one into adulthood. They should therefore be left in the wild. Don>

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>   

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>

Pictus Catfish Flashing  I just bought 2 pictus catfish wanted to know if it's normal for them to scrape the bottom of tank? Thanks. April  <<Dear April, no, it's not normal. Chances are good they have a parasite called Ich. You can find a medication for it at your local fish store. Tell them it is for a scaleless catfish. The meds will need to be used at half dosage, so read the directions carefully. What size is the tank? How often do you do water changes? You will need to keep your water quality good and your temperature stable if you hope to keep these fish parasite-free. Make sure your temperature is at a stable 78-80F. -Gwen>>

Just bought a 2.5" red tail baby Amazon catfish 3 days ago, <decided to get a tank buster eh?  These grow to be enormous fish in a relatively short amount of time.  I've wanted one myself for a long time, just haven't had a tank that could house them properly. > he was fine the first 2 days, then started 'floating around' the tank, without swimming.. kinda like he's dying...kinda letting the current take him, <these fish are bottom dwelling, and floating of any kind is not good.> this is a small 5 gallon tank, was setup 1 month ago, 3 weeks ago got 3 zebra tetras / 2" Pleco / whole bunch of good established gravel and they are doing great. <They maybe doing great but that tank is way too small for all of those fish.  Pleco's and Catfish are very messy fish!  The water parameters can become bad fast with the amount of waste these fish are producing!> 75-78 degrees, ph 7.0-6.8..he is also kinda breathing harder, if you try and touch him with your finger, he'll try to escape. but he just floats around. when he looks more coherent sometimes he is upside down. Hadn't eaten, but looks like he just ate a shrimp (freeze dried 1 cm long shrimps). <I suggest you get your larger tank up and running very soon! This tank is not going to work for these fish! What you need to purchase is Freshwater Test Kits.  These will tell you the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in your tank.  With high ammonia and nitrite levels it effects the fish's breathing.  Ammonia damages the gills, and nitrite hinders the fish's body from using the oxygen from the water.  The water parameters must be at Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate being as close to zero as possible.> I'm calling the fish store, but was wondering if this is totally bad. the tank should be ok <No, it's not okay.  way to small.  It's like keeping an elephant in spare bed room.  Just because it fits inside doesn't mean it's okay.> (by the way, he's moving in 2 months to a 55 gallon and then a 200 gallon at least to start with, then a pond eventually.) <that is a good plan, but you should have gotten this fish when you had the larger tank ready.  Don't put the cart before the horse.  have the environment ready for the animal, it's easier on you and the fish.> Have wanted one of these for years, please help, only 3 days in !!! --Dave <I've wanted these myself, but realized that they can become monster sized, and need a home to fit their needs.  See if your Local fish store will hold the fish for you as you get your larger tank set up. You will need to do some water changes on this 5 gallon to help bring the water levels back to normal this will help.  during this time you will need to start setting up the larger tank  for him.  good luck and remember to research and have things ready well in advance before purchasing any animal. -Magnus.>

Big Fish, Big Tanks.... Hello <Hi, Richard> I have a rather large Tiger Shovelnose catfish, about 18 inches. <Hate to break it to yah, but that's still a rather small tiger shovelnose....  with an ultimate size of three and a half feet....> He is currently in a 150 gallon tank with a 12 inch Pleco which he doesn't bother. I had 2 large(10 inch) Tinfoil Barbs in with him but had to remove them from the tank because the shovelnose was attacking them when the lights went out.   <They certainly have quite an appetite, but attacking 10-inch Tinfoils is a bit extraordinary!  Wow!> Knowing that the tiger will grow some more I'm in process of getting a 300 gallon tank for him, and I was wondering what would make good tank mates for him and the Pleco? I would like maybe 3 more fish to add to the 300 with the tiger and the Pleco. <A favorite fishy haunt of mine in Wichita, KS held a 2000 gallon (give or take - HUGE) tank in which lived a large (really, a full three feet) tiger shovelnose, an even larger planiceps shovelnose, a couple of two foot Plecos, a couple Pacu, and three (monstrous) Arowana; everyone lived with some semblance of peace - or, rather, I never saw any grave injuries on any of the fish.  Perhaps for a tank of 300 gallons, you might be able to consider a few good sized Pacu?> Any advice would be greatly welcomed.  Thank you,  Richard <Just be aware that your lovely beastie does have the potential to get *really* big!  Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina>

Large Fish Compatibility I have recently bought a striped shovelnose and a black ghost together and the pet store said they were compatible, which they are. they don't bother each other. later on I bought a gold Severum and 2 clown loaches, which the pet store said that the Severum and clown loaches would go good with the black ghost knife fish and the shovelnose. nothing has happened yet because they are all pretty small. but I was telling someone what I had in my tank and they said that I shouldn't have listened to there advice because the black ghost knife fish would be fish food sooner or later. so I was wondering is that true? I do know that the Severum is compatible with all the other fish but I couldn't find any information on the black ghost fish. if you can help I would much appreciate it.         thank you          sincerely, Lindsey <Hi Lindsey, I am scared to ask what size tank you have.  These are all fish that get really large.  The shovelnose can get close to 2ft, and the Ghostknife will not be too far behind.  In a large enough tank you might be ok, I personally do not trust large catfish with smaller tank mates, they have a tendency to eat them.  You can find more on the Ghostknife at the links below.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/knifefishfaqs.htm http://www.mongabay.com/fish/knifefish.htm  >

Pictus Cat Questions... beh., sys., comp. Hello Crew...Thanks for your previous help with setting up my tanks. <Glad we were able to help.> Now I think I may have made a mistake in buying a 3 1/2-inch Pictus Cat. I've had him in quarantine for about a week. I read up on him a little beforehand, but I admit I bought him mostly because I like the way he looks. <They are really neat looking.> Anyway, I have a couple concerns. I wasn't aware that we would behave so frantically, swimming constantly up and down. Is he likely to calm down when I put him in my 75-gallon community (or my 125-gallon Bala tank--haven't decided)? <Yes, he should. They are pretty active fish but in a tank that size he should relax considerably.> My QT has no substrate at all; I've heard the reflection of the bare bottom contributes to this behavior. True? <Very possible.> Also, I know he might eat small fish, but I thought my 2-inch Buenos Aires Tetras would be safe. The other day a woman told me she had a 4-inch Pictus that ate a 3-inch Red-Tail Shark! Is this possible, or is it likely the shark died and then was eaten? Thanks. --Charlie <My guess would be that the shark died first and was then eaten although I can't say for sure. At the size he is now, your Tetras should be safe for a while. He'd probably go the best in your Bala tank eventually but I really can't see him eating the Tetras until he's a bit larger. Ronni>

Red tail catfish Two weeks ago yesterday, I moved a red tail catfish from a 55 gallon tank into a new 125 gallon tank. The fish is approximately 20 inches long and had a great appetite prior to the move. Since the move, it has eaten almost nothing and has made the tank a relatively safe place for the goldfish now swimming with it. Other than the loss of appetite and associated weight loss, the fish seemed perfectly healthy and active until yesterday. While still active, it now has what seems to be a reddish  growth or swollen gland above and to the right of its mouth. The ph is between 7.2 and 7.4. It was higher, but I've been using ph Down to lower it. The water temperature is between 78 and 80 degrees. In addition to the goldfish, I've tried to feed it shrimp, silversides and floating cichlid sticks. I don't know what to do next. Any insight will be greatly appreciated. Thanks Joe Agresti <Joe, this is a large fish (4+ feet), at 20in he has pretty much out grown the 125gal.  This fish may have been/still be suffering from nitrate poisoning, did he ever exhibit any yawning behavior?  Water quality is always going to be an issue with big messy fish in small tanks.  Large weekly water changes and larger tank will be needed.  As far as the feeding issue, he should come around in time, it is not uncommon for large predatory fishes to refuse food after a move.  Best Regards, Gage>

Re: red tail catfish Thank you. What size tank would you recommend? <To live a long happy life it would need over 1000 gallons.  I'd go with a large rubber lined pond in the basement with good filtration.  That way if the neighbors cats get out of line you can make them disappear. -Gage> Thanks Joe Agresti

Stinger is sick :( can you help? (Pimelodid on the skids) <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> we have a catfish and after much research have determined that he is a leiarius marmoratus (by counting his dorsal fin rays and ruling out the Perrunichthys peruno)<<This is an "old name" for the same species. RMF>> his name is stinger. we were treating his tankmates for ick (dread) and the medicine that we used said that it was safe for to use on him... unfortunately he had a BAD reaction to the medicine he lost his long whiskers which turned to a mushy white and fell off, also he has a large "open wound" near his tail where all the skin has come off.he was in an 80 gallon tank but I moved him to a 5 gallon tank so I could treat him better (we are treating him with Melafix) and he seems to be doing better. he is our favorite fish is there anything else that we can do for him? please please help if you can <<I would just make sure you change the water in that 5g tank frequently... keep it clean, and keep up the observation. I would agree that you ich treatment is what started his decline and removing the fish to a separate tank was a wise decision. I'd keep this up until the wound has healed. In the future, rather than treating your entire display system, remove only the sick fish to separate tanks where you can treat them individually and not subject the entire display to the troubles that arise from most ich treatments.>> ~Gina, matt and stinger! <<Cheers, J -- >>

Porky South American Catfishes I have two small angelica catfish and when I feed them their bellies swell. is this usual and if so is there a point at which you stop feeding them. <Not unusual... these Pimelodid catfishes are voracious feeders in the wild (where food is scarce seasonally) and in captivity. Do try to "fill them up" with lower protein foods (sinking pellets of various sorts are a good choice) to allow your other fishes, livestock to get enough to eat.> they are very happy and in good condition. thanks <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Overfeeding (Same Cats, different responder) I have two small angelica catfish and when I feed them their bellies swell. is this usual and if so is there a point at which you stop feeding them. they are very happy and in good condition. thanks <yes... it is possible to overfeed fishes this way. Not all fish will stop eating when too much food is offered. In fact... most don't "know" any better. It is best to offer several (3-5) tiny feedings per day rather than one large feeding that bloats their bellies. Anthony>

"Brown tailed" Red Tailed Catfish Hello, how is everyone. Good I hope.  <much better now that Bob has recovered from that bizarre accident that he had with a safety razor when trying to shave his belly for a finger painted living portrait to be displayed in an act of performance art> Everything's fine here (thanks to your website, you guys really are a godsend. I read over your faq's every night.) <outstanding!> I've written a couple of times with saltwater questions but tonight I've got a freshwater question. In my 120 gal. long tank I have a baby red tailed catfish.---I know, I know, way too small a tank for this guy.  <yep <G>> I'm working on an 8ft by 6ft pond in the "office" in my house.  <that will be wonderful! And not a Chihuahua to be seen for miles once it is up and running. The housecats better get hip to it too> And for now, I do a 75% water change at least twice a week to keep everyone in there happy. <look for excessive yawning by this species to indicate poor water quality and nitrogen poisoning> Mondee (as my two year old calls the sea monster) has grown from about 6 inches to a little over a foot in a month and a half. These fish grow incredibly fast!!! I'm amazed, he makes my Oscar look like a guppy!! <They get huge indeed... perhaps over six feet long> Anyway, I was wondering, when (if ever) can I expect his tail to start to turn red? It's a dirty faded brownish maroon color right now. I feed him floating cichlid pellets, frozen krill, silversides, and bloodworms, and earthworms and waxworms etc. from the bait shop. Is this diet okay?  <overall very good... but you could make your own food for color enhancing with paprika or carotenoid pigments, or feed a lot more crustacean foods with shells on (cocktail shrimp, crayfish)> Do I need to feed him something different to enhance his color or is he just not a very colorful catfish?  <no... should actually be easy to enhance its color. Hikari brand pellet foods also have super color enhancing varieties of pellets ("Bio-Gold")... do consider> The rest of his color is pretty good. Dark sooty almost black on his back and head with black spots and the white areas are well defined and a nice cream color.  <enjoy it while its small... they get muddier in color with age> Even if he never does color up, he's still my favorite fish in the world--- dirty brown tail and all. He really is an awesome fish.  <yes... they have great personalities> I just want to make sure I'm giving him the best possible care. thanks for your help once again. Kristen:) <best regards, Anthony>

Pimelodid Cats One other question and I promise I leave you in peace.. Whats a pimellid catfish?? I have two pictus catfish (dot and spot) that I've had for over a year <that's them... Pimelodus pictus (the scientific name)> and they are about 3-4 in the white fin shark I've had a little longer than the two pictus catfish and he is about 6 in in length.. Just curious.. The pictus I did research and read they would get up to 5-6 in. They love blood worms and strangely enough love the Plecos algae tablets.. <and they will eat small live fish, including goldfish when the cats are big enough!> All of the fish I have now, I've had for 8 mo.s to a year and a half except the barbs and the Severum.. I may end up having to give my Severum to a friend of mine that has a 55 gal cichlid tank if he starts getting too big.. <agreed> <best of luck, Anthony>

Tiger Shovelnose Mr. Fenner, We have a large Tiger Shovelnose whose belly has been swollen for about a week now. We only feed him goldfish, but were afraid that he may have swallowed some rocks in his frenzy.  <Maybe... more likely the goldfish themselves. Please read the following: http://wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm> What could it be and what can we do? Thank you for your help, Christine and Tony <Not much... the trauma of handling this pimelodid catfish at this point is likely worse than just waiting, hoping. If the animal were small (let's say a foot or so in length) it might be advisable to give it a bath in Epsom salts and tank water (not in the main tank) or even administer vegetable oil down its buccal cavity (past the constriction to the rear) with a plastic pipette... Have seen these problems resolve w/o intervention many times before. Let's hope this one does as well. Do look into other foods. Bob Fenner>

A BIG Catfish, sys. 1.. We have a South American Redtail Catfish that is about 20" long and has outgrown our 90 gallon tank. We need any advise that you can give us as he really needs a larger environment than a home tank. We can't get any response from the closest fish aquarium. >> Ahh, Phractocephalus hemioliopterus... don't I remember my pimelodid catfishes... Yes this fish does get at least 80 pounds (have seen them in the wild this big... and at least half that in captivity)... Other than pleading with people to not keep these too-big animals... feed them sparingly (to limit their rapid growth)... And then, at your stage: to call their local BIG fish stores, and public aquariums... to see if they can use (another) Red Tail Cat, Arowana, Pacu... So, I'd either get a humongous tank (with a very sturdy top... most of these cats perish from jumping out), feed the animal sparingly from now on... and/or call those shops, public institutions. Bob Fenner who really likes large fishes... but whose wife won't let him silicone glass over the front door and fill the house up with water...  

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