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More Recent/Older, Accrued FAQs

Ulcer?      4/27/20
Good evening.
<Hey Hector>
I asked my friend about an ulcerative lesion on my clown’s jaw, and he told me to email you.
Here it goes.
Just noticed it today. It’s not eating because the mouth is constantly open. I plan on quarantining, but don’t know what meds I should try.
<Mmm; unfortunately there is no treatment for such a situation (that I'm aware of); on the plus side, having seen and read re similar circumstances I don't consider that this condition is "catching"... that is, it won't spread to other livestock>
Thank you for your time.
Best regards,
<Were it my fish, I'd keep it as long as it doesn't seem to be suffering. Otherwise, please see Neale's piece here on euthanasia: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: Ulcer?      4/27/20
Thanks for your prompt response.
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Question about a species living in my Xmas tree rock      4/27/20
Hi Bob,
<Hey Frank>
Hope all is well. I was wondering if you can identify this species that lives inside my Christmas tree rock (i love the variety of colorful tube worms). I noticed a black filter feeder animal that when I pull out of the
water retracts into a shell similar to a small clam. Do you know what this can be? Sorry for the bad pictures. I am sending a few pictures that shows it retracting. The last picture you can zoom in and see the clam
like shell (might be even a species of clam in the end).
<Yeah; at first I thought due to this tip that this might be some sort of branched brachiopod. I don't know what this is. If you can get a better resolved pic, please send it on>
Thank you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.    4/27/20
Your replies are always so insightful and they give me confidence with the choices I’ve made.
Regarding the Bannerfish, I read in a WWM thread where you were answering another hobbyist’s emails. In that email, the hobbyist mentions that even the Bannerfish is not a true beginner’s fish. That it’s somewhat hard to
keep and doesn’t beat in a tank that’s been up and running for at least six months. Have you found this to be true? Are they a very hardy species?
<... Andrew; did you get your tank installed, up and running? My opinions re Heniochus BFs are archived on WWM>
Are they the hardiest among butterflies, or even among marine fish in general?
<As stated>
Setting up a quarantine system would be difficult for me to do due to space constraints in an apartment. Are the species I’ve mentioned generally exceptions to the need for a quarantine regime? Just in case you don’t
remember, I will include them in the order I plan to add them:
One-Spot Foxface + x2 Ocellaris Clowns
(Wait 1 month)
Either Marine Betta or x3 Pajama Cardinals (3 juveniles 3-4 cm, add them
(Wait 1 month)
Add the fish I didn’t add last time
(Wait 2 months to let tank stabilize a bit)
Add x3 Stripeys
(Wait another 1-2 months)
add Bannerfish
(Wait 1 month)
Add Flame Hawk pair
(1-year mark- maybe a Centropyge angel)
I will make sure to only buy healthy, alert, and feeding specimens from my LFS. They will be observed in the follow-up period between adding each new fish or group of fish.
My LFS does treat most of their fish using copper.
From the research I have done, a tank around my size would be 2000-2500 pounds after being filled with live rock and water to the appropriate amount. That’s a lot of weight My building is a typical service apartment
that was completed in 2016 or 2017, should it be able to sustain that weight without too much difficulty?
<I would have a certified structural engineer come, assess your situation... need to spread the weight out, place near/against weight bearing wall/s>

Also, I will be putting my tank near the corner of the wall. I heard that’s where structural strength is the greatest.
<Ah yes>
As for pairing my Ocellaris Clowns, I’ve read pairing a smaller clown with a bigger clown is the way to go (is it the same for all clowns? Even captive bred?). This is to ensure the larger one becomes the female and leads the smaller one (which will become male) into submission. Not sure how much aggression there is involved, but I plan to get one in the 4-5cm range (1.5-2 inches) and the other around 2-3cm (or 1 inch to slightly over 1 inch).
I’ll be cycling my tank using clean / cured live rock. I plan to let it cycle for 4-5 weeks, maybe a sixth. I’ll ensure ammonia and nitrites are exactly zero, and nitrates at an acceptable level of about 2-5 ppm (though I heard soft corals like “dirtier” water)?
For me feeding regimen I plan to feed 3-4 times a day, the Marine Betta will be fed 3 times a week. I plan to feed a combination of dry (Ocean Nutrition Formula-1 and Formula-2 flakes and pellets, Hikari A and Hikari S, Omega One Shrimp Pellets, Hikari Seaweed Extreme, Hikari Algae Wafers), frozen (Dr. Basler Caviar, First Bite Fish Eggs / Calanus Liquid, Hikari Frozen brine and Mysis, Hikari plankton / Rotifers / Gammarus, First Bite Copepods). Also frozen bloodworm cubes that I can get locally. Nori strips, Julian Sprung’s Sea Veggies will also be crucial for my herbivore (Foxface) and omnivores (Bannerfish, Stripeys, Clowns).
Live foods unfortunately aren’t an option for me. Marine Betta- I am a bit worried. The closest I can get to live are fresh / frozen seafood and seaweed which I plan to include in my fishes’ diet once a week, every Sunday.
I always write such long emails, must bore you. I apologize, but once again I’d like to tell you how much of a help you’ve been to me now taking steps towards making my childhood dream a reality.
<As much fun as it is to dream, plan for livestock arrangements, you should (again) focus on the system itself at this point. Hoping this is clear. Bob Fenner>

Re: E. Pacific Anemones husbandry     4/26/20
My total water volumes consists of a 35 gallon display aquarium with 1" acrylic on all the sides and bottom.
<Good for insulation>
I have a good 1/10hp chiller and haven't had any issues maintaining 55.5-56 degrees F, which is currently
my target temperature.
<I'd let this up during the summer/warmer months... high 50's, low 60's>
In addition to the anemones I have many macroalgae and so I have strong lighting optimized for plant growth, though I've considered switching to bluer light for aesthetic purposes.
<... the strength of lighting is a relative term... 40-50 PAR, PUR for 8 hours a day is fine>
Plenty of flow between return pump, chiller pump, and two DC Tunze powerheads. Plenty of bio media. I am planning on drilling the aquarium and adding a sump to increase water volume.
<Ah, good>
My ph has stayed fairly low around 7.6-7.8- I think the chert rock and sand (common in my area) contributes to this.
<I'd be adding a commercial supplement here. SeaChem Stability is a fave>
Nitrates and phosphates have stayed high, especially phosphates (0.4mg/l, nitrates around 25mg/l).
<Not a worry>
From my discussions with other keepers of coldwater aquaria, these slightly elevated numbers are not uncommon but I would still like to get them down. When I add the sump I'll have a lot of options there, so I am not too concerned.
<Good... DSB there, RDP... BobF>

Glass aquarium on an acrylic stand?    4/25/20
Hello and thank you in advance!
I have an old, scratched up (I believe* 75 gallon) acrylic tank with a matching acrylic stand (Tenecor). If I bought a glass aquarium do you think it would be safe to use the acrylic stand for it? The acrylic stuff seems
so perfectly paired, with so much even contact. I worry the heavier glass aquarium with its stress points might not match up. Any thoughts? Thank you again.
<It should work; that is, all the commercial acrylic, made for acrylic tank stands I've encountered have been sufficiently strong, level and planar to accommodate the same size (base) glass tank. IF you're concerned re the contact points, do consider first testing to see if (with filling the new tank on the stand), that there are no gaps twixt the face of the stand and tank itself. IF there are small ones (like a credit card width), insert a
piece of foam (Lowe's, Home Depot...) between the two. IF there is/are large/r gaps, put a cut piece of plywood between them. Bob Fenner>
Re: Glass aquarium on an acrylic stand?     4/25/20

Thank you for your prior answer! I have one more related to tanks. Is it abnormal for a glass aquarium to bow out, or should it be perfectly straight?
<Glass does bow... not often perceptibly... but yes>
I have a common 55 gallon (48”x12.5”x21”)
<Okay... I recall the width as 12.75">
that is half an inch wider in the middle (13”, measured on top) than it is on the ends. And the middle plastic support brace is almost disconnected now on one side.
<Mmm; well; you DO want that plastic bracing (or a retrofit, like a Euro-brace) in place. Manufacturers do offer, sell replacements>
I am kind of freaking out, now that I know this. That’s what prompted my prior question, and am frantically looking to replace this tank out of fear that it is about to go. It’s an old tank, with a 17-year-old Ocellaris clown as one occupant. And she’s my baby and I want no harm to come to her.
<If practical I would drain the water down 5... 6 inches at least for now. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mature Tanks - Diatom Bloom    4/25/20
Thank you for the response, Wil.
Not sure if you got my attached photos?
<I did,... are already posted on the daily FAQs. The only way to be absolutely sure of the type of “Algae”, is to take a sample and see it under a microscope, many look pretty much alike, that’s why we have to rely on the antecedents of the particular system.>
A little more info on the timeline...
I had a perfectly beautiful tank and went to Europe for 4 weeks on vacation while a friend monitored the tank with water top-offs and feeding. I returned to chaos and a mess of a tank. Algae everywhere. Some water changes, etc... I had it looking good again and my chaeto that I had at the time had turned black so I tossed it. I ran without chaeto for awhile, and my nitrates then increased from 0 to as much as 30 or so ppm, and it seemed my corals were suffering. I then purchased some chaeto from the hobbyist and had the bryopsis outbreak very soon after. I fairly quickly resolved the bryopsis outbreak with fluconazole, but then started to experience the diatom algae and had some nitrates in the 20ppm range. I just recently added the good batch of chaeto and it has resolved my nitrate issue, and finally my corals are looking good... but the diatoms are still there.
Thus, I hear what you're saying... but the Dino was present even when my nitrates were in the 20ppm range.
To answer your questions:
It first looks like a rusty dusting over sandbed and then rocks. There might be the smallest of bubbles that form followed by green hair algae. It is not present in shaded areas, no.
<Those are indicators of Dino infestation.>
Ph is consistent at 8.2 since I started the tank
The tank is an Innovative Marine, thus the sump is actually the back portion of the tank. If I add anything back there, it'll be a bitch to ever get it out...
<Understood, it’s impractical to add a DSB there.>
but I hear what you're saying. On my old 90g reef, I had a deep sandbed in my refugium and my setup was pretty slick and trouble free - never even had to clean the glass of algae.
<That’s why I suggested that.>
If I alter my lighting to 6hrs a day with more blue (on these Kessils there's only a percentage setting, so I am assume I just keep my color around 20% or less?), do you think I should keep my intensity as is?
<The bluest spectrum your Kessils provide is okay, just don’t use the light spectrum on the lower Kelvins range.>
Do you perceive any coral impact to a color adjustment?
<Not too much as this is going to be temporary.>
As far as equipment, on a scale of 1-10 I'd rank my Innovative Marine skimmer around a 6.
<Yes, the biggest drawback is that it is very difficult, almost impossible to fine tune.>
I do get wet skim and bubbles constantly, but then again I wonder if it's because the tank is fairly clean?
<Could be>
Investing in presumably a better skimmer vs adding a uv sterilizer. Go with the UV Sterilizer?
<For now, I’d go for the UV to kill any floating micro-organisms that are causing this issue. Wil.>

Keeping E. Pacific (coldwater) anemones; system     4/25/20
Hi Mr. Fenner,
I have listened to a couple of your talks and used your website. I have found all the information you put out extremely interesting.
I am attempting a cold water pacific-coast setup with anemones.
I was wondering if you have any advice as to the care requirements of Anthopleura sola, A. elegantissima, or anemones the Urticina genus.
<I know a little; have kept the local anemones, studied the elegant clone in college... histologically; have friends who are coldwater keepers, and volunteered years back at the local public aquarium where we kept
Metridium, Tealia... species>
I don't have a separate system to exchange water with to allow new additions to slowly get to know one another as you have suggested.
<Mmm; not necessary. Do need a chiller>
I'm trying to run a lot of carbon and to match their environment in terms of temperature and flow.
Are there any specific things that you would recommend I try?
<Well, need to know a bit more re your set up... size, gear make up... Do tell>
Thanks very much,
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Blue Angel (RMF?)<<Nothing more>>      4/24/20
Hi, a friend of mine told me about your site.
<Well, that's nice.>
I was wondering if you could help me out with 1 of my Angels. I thought she may have been carrying eggs but that was about 2 months ago and she's still bloated. Others I have asked said it appears to be a tumor.
<Indeed. Much less good news here. Does appear to be a tumour, but whether benign or cancerous impossible to say. You could lift the fish out gentle with a net, and using wet hands, just feel the lump very, very gently. If it 'gives' easily, it could be a fluid build-up, what is properly called oedema, but widely known as Dropsy. Normally this happens around the abdomen, but can happen elsewhere. The use of Epsom Salt in the water (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) can help, along with a suitable
antibiotic. But if the lump feels more or less solid, then it's a cyst for sure. Be sure not to apply any pressure anywhere other than on muscles -- pushing down on the abdomen (bottom half of the fish between the head and the vent) can damage the internal organs and kill the fish.>
If you believe it is, is there anything I can do?
<No. Benign cysts are not lethal unless they obstruct an important organ or blood vessel. Since this cyst appears to be on the muscles between the abdomen and the tail fin, this is unlikely to be a dangerously located cyst. In some situations these benign cysts clear up by themselves, perhaps triggered by a bacterial or viral infection, but more often they're permanent, and perhaps genetic more than anything else. The more inbred fish are certainly more prone to them than wild-type fish, so you do tend see them in things like Goldfish, Koi, Bettas and fancy Angels and Guppies.
If the tumour is malignant, there's no real treatment nor much hope.
Thankfully, such tumours are rare in tropical fish. But if you did see the fish obviously suffering, then humanely destroying it would be best (the Clove Oil method is safe, cheap and easy to use). Incidentally, vets can remove cysts and tumours from tropical fish, but it's usually only practical and cost-effective for things like Koi>
Any Meds? I started changing the water every 3 days at 65% instead of every Saturday at 75% (some suggested more water changes )
<Up to a point, optimising water conditions will certainly help generally, and a healthy fish is one more able to use its immune system to deal with problems. But benign cysts tend to be very persistent, though they do, sometimes, subside themselves (indicating, perhaps, a viral or bacterial component). It's really more about ensuring the Angelfish is able to swim about and behave normally. If it can, then I wouldn't be overly concerned.>
Any help will really be appreciated. Thanks so much
<Sorry can't offer much more help than this. Cheers, Neale.>

Mature Tanks - Diatom Bloom      4/24/20
Good afternoon!
<Hello Dave!>
I'm frustrated to the point of wanting to take a hammer to my tank (ok not quite yet)
<Ahh!, been there several times in the past 30 years, this hobby demands patience>
Going on 18yrs in the hobby, and I had a previous 90g reef tank and 200g predator tank running beautifully without issues after a 3yr trial and error period. With a move, I gave up the other tanks and now have a 60g reef. I very quickly seemed to have that tank under control within the first year, but at the start of year three I used some chaeto from a local fellow hobbyist that seemed to be plagued with bryopsis. Within two weeks of using his chaeto, there was nasty green algae everywhere...
took a while to figure out it was bryopsis, and I soon had that under control with fluconazole. Since then, I've been getting what appears to be diatom algae.
It's not cyano. I <It> starts on my sand bed at the front of the tank, and then shows up on some of the surfaces of my rock where I don't have corals.
<Is it present even on the shaded areas?... have you seen any small air bubbles on the top of the sand or rocks where it has grown?>
I use RODI, have changed filters on schedule, and my source water readings are Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, Phosphate all 0 readings.
<What about Ph?>
I was suspicious of the Phosphate test and bought a Hanna, and confirmed it was in fact a zero reading. I'm confident my source water is good.
Feeding... two Clowns, a Foxface, Royal Gramma, Peppermint Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimp, Sebae Anemone, Banded Serpent Star, maybe 20 blue legged hermits, 5 Nassarius Snails, and four other assorted snails. Frogspawn, Colt, assorted Zoas, and a Toadstool. I figure I have a relatively light load for a 60g tank.
I feed half a cube of frozen 4 times a week, and pellet 3 times a week - just enough that it's all consumed. I think if anything I am feeding light, my Foxface could use some additional weight.
Other nutrient control: skimmer that produces some pretty wet skim and it's hard to adjust properly.
<A good, reliable protein skimmer is very helpful in maintaining top water quality.>
It definitely could be better, but then again I have a very light load I think.
I have chaeto in a refugium that grows like crazy I rinse and garbage a 1/3 of this every week during water changes that are 10%/week. My tank water parameters are ammonia, nitrite, and phosphate 0. My nitrate will sometimes give me a small reading of 0ppm to 10ppm, which I think is fairly normal and healthy? I also have one filter sock that I change weekly.
<Well, since your tank seems to have a very low nutrient source, I am thinking these could be Dinos (dinoflagellates), which prosper in the absence of nutrients.>
Lighting... I have two Kessil 360's 8" off the water that run from noon to 10pm.
They start and stop with about a 90min blue and 0% intensity schedule, and the 2hr ramp up/down period hits a peak of 45% intensity and sits there for 3hrs before dropping (7hrs all together), I'm adding 55% color on the same schedule. I do get about 40mins of direct sunlight on the side of my tank from a huge window, but I figure in conjunction with a 7hr light schedule where I apply my color/intensity that this shouldn't result in my diatom algae? Again, I ran the tank for a year algae free on a similar light schedule (I wish I had kept the specs on that schedule – it was since adjusted for various coral placement, etc.)
I remove all noticeable diatoms (that eventually start growing green hair) with my water changes. I have conducted two full 3 day blackout periods in the past two months, and still this all comes back.
<Worth trying a 5- day, to a whole week blackout, covering the tank with cardboard and allowing no light at all, natural or artificial.>
I can't seem to figure this tank out. I was watching 52 weeks of reefing on YouTube and the clean-up crew video where they indicated too many snails/crabs can lead to algae because there isn't enough food for them all, they die, and leads to excessive nutrients. What peaked my interest is that I have thousands of those tiny little pebble snails (what are they called?).
Could the birth and die-off of these little guys be causing a problem? Seems unlikely
<Only if they die massively>
The algae starts only in certain spots, and then will slowly spread... always starting in the same spots. My two return pumps each have a splitter for two directional flows (4 total) and they circulate my tank volume maybe 15 - 20x/hour. Additionally, I have one MP40 on a random setting. I know water flow will help with cyano, but it seems odd this diatom algae starts growing right along the front of my tank in the path of my MP40.
Does anything stand out to you as a probable cause of this algae issue?
<Yes, from your description, and the way things happened, I am almost sure these are dinoflagellates, which were introduced to your system via the Chaetomorpha.>
With the algae starting on the bare rock and in the front of the tank where
it receives the most light, I keep going back to my lights. Thoughts?
<I suggest the following:
1- Trim your chaeto to about half and see if Dinos start to disappear over the course of a week or two in the presence of some nitrates and phosphates.
2- Siphon out regularly the top layer of the sand, where the majority of the algae is located .
3- A high ph around 8.4 seems to inhibit Dinos proliferation, I don’t know your current reading, but it will help if you aim for the mentioned number, go slow with any changes.
4- Leave only the blue lights on for 6 hrs./day, for one week (Dinos like the white spectrum).
5- Consider adding a DSB to your refugium
6- If possible add a UV sterilizer.

I hope this helps. Wil.>

Does this look like Cyano to you?

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.      4/24/20
Thanks Bob. You are always so helpful and willingness to provide guidance.
Well it looks like I’ve got good news. I might be able to fit a 5-foot system into my apartment, more swimming room is always better than less. :)
<Yes, like a bank account balance, hard drive space, bigger IS better>
I’ve decided not to mix Hawkfish species after my own research, I’d rather not risk it.
Now with a 5-foot system (about 160 gallons) I’d be more confident putting in a Zebrasoma Tang, but I’ve opted for a One Spot Foxface instead because as a beginner I read on WWM that they’re a lot “cleaner” in terms of diseases and parasites when compared to their cousins, the Tangs. It’s also the only Foxface I feel comfortable putting in because I would only opt for the Foxface Lo or other species in a tank 6 foot and above.
<All right>
With the addition of the One Spot Foxface (I know a One Spot Foxface or even a Yellow / Scopas Tang / Bristletooth Tang could work in a 4 foot system but it’s always better for the fish to give them more room), I thought I would probably not make too many changes to many original stocking plan. I know they’re a skittish fish at first, so I thought I’d probably put them and my two Ocellaris Clowns as my first fish.
Following that, I’ll put in my Marine Betta.
Then after that, my trio of Pajama Cardinals.
Then after that, the trio of Stripeys.
And finally, the two Flame Hawkfish.
Now, I know 12 fish really isn’t a lot for a tank of this size (it’s really the maximum I can do), but I’d rather start off with fewer fish of hardy species that make things easier to manage. I might opt to add some other fish like wrasses, Basslets once my tank’s more established and I feel more confident. And once my tank stabilizes, a dwarf angel or maybe even a medium sized angel like a Xanthurus Cream. Maybe a Tang, but I’m afraid that would be too much bioload. I’d rather somewhat understock for
the first 6 months or so than have to deal with too many fish at once. We all want the livestock under our care to be at the best health they could possibly be, don’t we? :) That’s why I want to take things slowly.
<A wise approach>

I’ve also selected my first six coral fragments, I’m trying to go for a low maintenance, Mushroom and Leather Coral only tank. I’ve considered Green Star Polyps and Xenia but they’re invasive, and Zoanthids / Palythoas secrete toxins. I am aware that soft corals use chemicals to fight each other for space and food, and that a tank some point carbon may be required in my sump, but for now perhaps regular water changes will do (10% every week).
The frags I have selected are:
An Orange Actinodiscus
A Blue Actinodiscus
A Yellow Devil’s Hand
A Green Toadstool
A Red Rhodactis
A Purple or deep blue Cabbage Leather
I’m not sure about the availability of these exact colors, but do you see what I’m trying to do here? :)
<I think I do>
These frags I will try to get on average around 2” across, they’ll be going in with my One Spot Foxface and Ocellaris pair. It seems that medium flow and medium lighting throughout the tank may be fine for them, from my research.
I apologize for another long reply, but as always I would appreciate you taking the time and patience to let me know your thoughts. You’ve been immensely helpful and I really appreciate the fact that you’re taking time to correspond with me out of your schedule.
I am truly excited to be starting this journey.
With gratitude,
<Beginnings are delicate times; first things first... DO get the space ready (make sure it can support the weight evenly), start thinking about live rock and not... BobF>
Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.      4/24/20

Hi Bob, I was thinking today, do you think a Black and White Bannerfish / Schooling Bannerfish / Red Sea Bannerfish (a single specimen) would work in a system of my size?
<Better the former; but could>
I’m thinking of getting one instead of 3 PJ Cardinals but only if they’re a hardier, more disease resistant and trouble-free community fish compared to the PJ Cardinal.
<... hold off on all for now... Really, I'd just focus on getting the tank up, going, putting in some initial organisms>
Which Heniochus species do you feel is the hardiest? Are they suitable for the new system of a beginner?
Finally, as for a QT system, I’m afraid I may not have the room for a QT in my current place. I’ve read your articles on several species and it seems you feel that Captive Bred Clowns, Foxfaces, Stripeys, Marine Betta and Roundheads in general, maybe Hawks and Cardinals (what about the Bannerfish?) are exceptions when it comes to a full QT regime.
I’ll definitely set one up as soon as I’ve got space for one, but my LFS for now has said I can take my sick fish to them and help me treat my fish.
I do, however, already have many medications such as Metroplex, Focus, General Cure etc. ready.
Which species would you say most certainly need a full QT regime? Just so I know when I try them in the future.
As always, I’d love your advice.

Need help with a fish problem    4/23/20
Hi there,
I’ve got a problem with one of my wagtail platy’s. Well, I say problem, it’s dead and I’m not that up to speed with bringing things back from the dead.
i woke up on Monday morning too see it was dead, but there was this huge parasite looking thing coming out of it. I’ve called 5 different places and they don’t really have an answers. Made an account on Fishlore.com to see if they have any answers. They had none. But someone said I should email you and see if you have any answers I’ve attached a picture to help.
I've been keeping fish all my life and I’ve never had this before.. all parameters are fine and well within range.
it’s belly was bulging so I thought it was pregnant, I’ve had lots of fry in this tank.
This thing wasn’t coming out of its gills or through its butt, it was come out the side of the fish just behind the gills. It’s the black dot on side of the fish just behind the gills.
I hope one of you lot can help me diagnose/identify what on Earth actually happened, because I’m seriously stuck here. PS, I apologise for the fact the picture was taken on an Easter egg box.. it was the first thing I had on hand. Didn’t particularly want to handle it too much because a lot of parasites can jump species
Cheers for reading, I hope you can help
<Evidently some sort of 'worm'. The problem is that it's hard to say whether we're talking about an external parasite (which may not in fact be a true worm, but a crustacean of some sort) or was this a worm inside the fish that somehow got out through the wound. Very difficult to be sure without actually having the fish in front of me, together with a decent dissecting lens. In any event: certainly a good idea to treat your fish with Praziquantel (such as PraziPro) or some other reliable anthelmintic. Internal worms are quite common in livebearers, though rarely anything like this. It's worth repeating the course after finishing the first course because worms are difficult to shift. External parasites, particularly crustaceans, are rare in aquaria and difficult to treat. Mostly, they can't complete their life-cycle in aquaria, but some, notably Lernaea ("Anchor Worm") can. Anchor Worms are distinctive because they have a dark, often fork-shaped attachment head that digs into the flesh, as well as a semi-transparent worm-like body that is visible outside the fish, often with two egg-containing structures dangling even further. My gut feeling is that we're dealing with something along those lines; if not actually Lernaea, then some sort of crustacean external parasite. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Need help with a fish problem    4/23/20
Hi there
That’s absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much for your help, I’ll start the treatment right away!
<Glad to be offer some tentative help at least.>
Goodness you guys are good.
<That's very kind. But do check your photos against pictures of Anchor Worms and suchlike, and see if it is a plausible explanation.>
Well you’re definitely better than the 7 fish shops I’ve emailed and the 4 different forums I’ve posted on.
Can’t thank you enough for that!
Thanks again!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>


Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.    4/23/20
Would it be OK to mix Cardinalfish species? I’m thinking of mixing my Pajama Cardinal trio with a trio of these red Cardinalfish (Apogon fleurieu?).
<... if there's room, decor/habitat... I wouldn't mix Banggais w/ other apogonids in a four foot long system>
Furthermore, for my Stripeys, would a simple float acclimation of 1 hour be enough for the ones I’ll get directly from the sea?
<Should, though quarantining them for a few weeks would be ideal. B>
Thanks Bob!

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.    4/23/20
Would two trios of PJ Cardinals work in my tank?
<I would stick w/ a single trio here>
Two trips for six fish.
Thanks. My other fish will be 2 Clowns, a Marine Betta, 3 Stripeys, and 2 Flame Hawks.
Just curious. Is mixing Hawkfish species okay?
<Can be done; again given.... space, habitat. B>
Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.    4/23/20

Dear Bob,
After some deliberation, I feel it could possibly be a good idea to stick to only a trio of PJ Cardinals after all. They’ll either be the first group or the second group of fish to go into my system. If a Marine Betta’s
available at my LFS, the Betta and my Ocellaris pair will be my first fish in the tank.
If they don’t have a Marine Betta, the three Pajama Cardinals will be the first fish in my tank followed by the Betta and the Clownfish pair (or the Betta before the Clowns). My rationale behind this change is that I want my slow-swimming, slow feeding fish to have time to adjust and settle into some kind of feeding regimen before I add the fast Stripeys.
The Flame Hawkfish (or Flame Hawk pair) will go in last because they’re the most aggressive fish, or if I opt for 3 Chrysiptera damsels (in which case they’ll be the second most aggressive / territorial) the Flame Hawk/s will be my second last fish to go in after the Stripeys.
What do you think of the Pinecone Fish?
<... an "advanced" choice; best for a "species tank". NOT for you here>
WWM does not have much info about it. I found a seller who occasionally dives and collects these fish,
I think it’s the Monocentris japonica. Are they suitable for a beginner at all? Thanks. It’s another interesting looking fish to me.
I would appreciate your patience as always.
On a side note, I’ve opted to go very easy in terms of corals. My tank will be softies only, with only Mushroom and Leather corals. I find the Green Star Polyps and Xenia too much of a threat because of their rate of growth.
<Ah good. B>

ADF Tadpoles     4/22/20
Hi Neale,
I am the worrywart who wrote to you about the lack of amplexus in my ADF couple, which was clearly unwarranted concern, as a week or two ago, they began doing exactly that.
The male sings every night (and sometimes during the day too), and they are seen engaging in amplexus almost every single day.
<Do bear in mind this is exhausting for the female. If you have one, isolating the male for a few days in a breeding trap to allow her to recover and feed leisurely would be welcome.>
There have been many clutches of eggs, the majority of which unfertile, but two days ago, I found two tadpoles in their tank.
<Double yay!>
I had just previously completed a 50% water change, so I am guessing much of the tadpoles were lost as a result of this, but I wanted to save the two that I discovered left. They are currently in a floating container in the tank with their parents, and are two days (at my best guess) old. I know there is a huge ADF tadpole mortality rate (around 80%), but I would still like to try to keep these little guys alive!
<Understandable. Rearing baby amphibians (i.e., tadpoles) is mostly about feeding them and/or preventing cannibalisation, which is quite common in some species. In the case of ADFs, feeding is the main challenge.>
I do not have liquifry, will I need to purchase this?
<No. What you need are small live foods. Microworms, brine shrimps, Cyclops and Daphnia are the classic options. So long as you can get to a clean pond somewhere, collecting a starter culture of these shouldn't be too hard. Indeed, if you have a garden pond, you may well have enough to keep you
going! Brine shrimps and microworms can easily be reared at home, though you do need a few days to get them up and running.>
They are fairly active for being so fresh, and I put the tiniest pinch of fish food into their container in the hopes that perhaps they would be able to digest this is they were older than I suspected.
<They will almost certainly not eat flake or powder foods, since they really only snap at moving things.>
Would you be able to give me any advice, or direct me to a page on tadpole rearing for ADFs?
<Oh, definitely visit https://www.caudata.org and sign up to their forum.
You will get good advice from those folks!>
Thank you so much, and hope you are staying safe! Best, Hanna
<And likewise to you, too. Neale.>
Re: ADF Tadpoles
Hi Neale,As always thank you so much for the incredibly prompt response!
As luck would have it, I have a creek in my backyard, and on my back porch I actually have a few tanks full of spring peeper tadpoles. Per your instructions, I used an eyedropper and selected about 6-10 tiny micro-organisms that were swimming enthusiastically from these tanks (of creek water), but small enough for the ADF tadpoles to eat.
<Can't imagine why this wouldn't work, but oftentimes best to pretty much fill the tank with swimming plankton, since the tadpoles don't really forage so much as wait for food to swim into range. Some experimentation may be necessary, perhaps using a plastic dropper (like a disposable pipette) to place food items close to the tadpoles. I rear Axolotl fry periodically, and they need daphnia for the first few days at least, and after a week or two, seem to graduate onto frozen bloodworms without much
fuss. They are much bigger though, so I'd expect ADF tadpoles to need the plankton for much longer.>
I hope this is alright, as I have not yet had the chance to peruse the link you kindly sent me. If i continue this process every day for the tadpoles until they are big enough to consume other things, will this work?
<Should do. As with rearing any small newborns, the key is "small but often" meals. Fish breeders often feed 6-8 times a day, replacing a bit of the water each day as well, just to keep the conditions sweet..>
Thank you! Best,Hanna
<Most welcome.>

Black Sea Cucumber, fdg.      4/22/20
Hey Crew,
<Hey Joe>
I have enjoyed the info on your site and I have a question about my Black Sea cucumber. I’ve had it for a couple of months. At first he was hidden in the back of tank in between rocks and we barely could find him. After a couple of weeks he became very active all moving around tank ,constantly eating sand & pooping it out in big piles.
<These animals are mainly detritivores, but they also feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton, requiring a well populated, mature sand bed to get enough food. Could you please tell us more about your system; water parameters, tankmates and maintenance routines?>
The last week or so it has taken to climbing up onto the glass.
<Perhaps it was looking for a more suitable spot.>
I’m worried that it’s not getting enough nutrients in the sand bed of my 50 gallon tank & is doing this because it’s hungry.
<Probably it has consumed the available food source on the limited sand area of your tank.>
I don’t want it to get stressed & nuke the tank.
<And they stress very easily... are you aware of the toxins they release when stressed? I have witnessed one of these echinoderms wiping out an entire, well stocked 1000-gallon tank in just a few hours!>
Is this normal or should I be concerned. Please let my know what you think and if I should try bury some food in sand. If so what type of food.
<Do you have a sump/refugium?... if so, there you can grow small organisms like copepods and amphipods to provide a constant food supply for your cucumber, you may also try some frozen or dry foods like Cyclop-Eeze.>
Thanks for any advice/info you can give me.
Best Regards,
Joe Matranga
<You’re welcome.Wil.>
Re: Black Sea Cucumber     4/22/20

Thanks for the quick response
<You're welcome>
I’ve been running an innovative marine AIO 50 gallon tank since the beginning of September. No refugium or sump.
<Ahh yes, filtration is located on the back... am familiar with these tanks.>
The fish in tank : Yellow Chromis Damsel 09/19 Pajama Cardinal10/19, 12 line Wrasse (11/19) Coral banded Shrimp (11/19) Snowflake Clown 11/19 Blue Hippotang 12/19
<Your P. hepatus is going to need more room than this.>
3-Emerald crabs, CUC assorted red& Blue legged hermit crabs, Trochus snails, Pyramid Snails
I have a bubble anemone, SPS Corals Bubble, Toadstool, hammer, Zoanthoid, mushroom colony
I added copods 12/30/19 & 01/15/20 Added Tigger pods 03/25/20
Salinity is 1.025. Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 PH 8.0 Nitrates .10.
I do 10-12 gallon water change every two weeks
I bought the Sea Cucumber 02/01/19. It was an impulse buy
<It certainly was!>
I should have researched it before buying it.
Let me know if you think I should get it out of the tank.
<If possible, return it to the fish store or trade it for something else.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers. Wil.>

Corydoras slowly dying off one by one, no one has answers.     4/22/20
Hello. I am reaching out to you with a very strange problem that no one else seems to have any idea on what it could be.
This involves my Bronze Corydoras, who all came from a clutch I hatched in June of 2018.
<Well done on the breeding, by the way!>
Before I go into the details of the problem, I'll do the important housekeeping of tank parameters. It's a planted 75 gallon, set up since February 2019, with plenty of caves and nooks for hiding. Substrate is a
fine gravel that they have no problem with, all have full bellies and long barbels.
<Still, as you seem to recognise, not ideal.>
Tankmates are 2 adult Bronze Cories, 4 Peppered Cories (I need to get more) and 15 Cherry Barbs.The problem has gone on for a long time though, so it is unrelated to tankmates.
<And Cherry Barbs are lovely fish that shouldn't cause any problems.>
Ammonia: 0ppm Nitrite: 0ppm Nitrate: 20ppm pH: 7.8-8.0 (I added driftwood yesterday, so this might change in the future.) Temp: 74-76F
<A little on the warm side for this/these catfish. Peppered Corydoras especially are low-end tropicals, even subtropicals, and thrive if given a cooler winter period. Around 18-22 C/64-68 F is ideal. Supposedly, wild fish can be found swimming under the ice on rare occasions! Bronze Corydoras are not quite so fond of cold, but still, I'd be keeping things towards the cool end of the range, maybe 22 C/72 F, and providing plenty of oxygen. Yes, the species is very adaptable, but if you're struggling with a
certain species, sometimes going back to basics, and seeing what "ideal conditions" would be can help, at the very least, in the dismissal of factors that aren't to blame.>
GH: 8-12 KH: 4-6
<Wouldn't expect much of a pH change with this much carbonate hardness, assuming regular water changes.>
Water changes: Weekly, 20%-40% depending on what is needed. Filtration: Marineland Penguin 200, Cascade 1000 Canister filter, a sponge filter
<All sounds fine, but how much water movement is at the bottom of the tank.
Put some flake down. Does it sit there? Or flap about weakly? Or is it quickly whooshed away in the current? Remember, slow water movement at the bottom of the tank means low oxygen levels. Not an issue for midwater barbs and tetras, which swim into strong water currents instinctively, and so get
more oxygen. But benthic fish, such as catfish and loaches, may struggle.
Sure, they can swim to the surface to gulp air, but that's not something most species are meant to do all the time, and indicates they're under a degree of stress.>
Treatments: Seachem Prime, Aquarium Co-op EasyGreen Food: Once a day feeding of any combination of Hikari Sinking Wafers, Omega One Catfish Sticks, Omega One Sinking Pellets, and Hikari Micropellets. Once a week I feed thawed frozen Brine Shrimp and Bloodworms, Omega One brand. Occasional treat of blanched veggies for them and the Cherry Barbs.
<All sounds fine.>
None of the other Cories have developed this, just these siblings. The symptoms are always similar. The Cory becomes lethargic, looses its appetite, and breathes rapidly. They often become dark in color and
sometimes, but not always, their eyes cloud over and they loose vision.
They never live for more than a few days after the symptoms first present.
It only ever effects one Cory at a time, and there's always a period of time between one showing symptoms. I don't believe it's related to water quality or diet, their foods have plenty of Vitamin A and I'm diligent about keeping things clean.
<But do see above re: water movement and oxygenation. If midwater fish are healthy, but you're losing benthic fish, that's a good clue there's something amiss "down deep" and your attention should be directed there.>
I've speculated that this is some sort of genetic problem. Their parents were chain pet store fish, and though their mom has always been very healthy, their dad was not the most robust, and he passed away without any cause or symptoms not too long ago.
<That can certainly be an issue, but if genetic, you'd expect to see deformities from the fry-stage onwards. While poor genes can indeed mean a weaker immune system, again, you'd expect to see this from the get-go, not months or years later. So while certainly a possibility, it would not be my first choice for an explanation.>
The fry did not have a good survival rate, and there were genetic abnormalities noticed in some of them as they got older. (Mainly, some of them developed very long fins, and all of those died from this condition.)
<Long-fin Corydoras are "a thing" in the trade, and yes, the inbreeding does make them a bit more delicate. Usually they're more prone to Finrot and other such afflictions of fish easily damaged or nipped.>
They also are slow growers, at nearly 2 years old they are nowhere near adult size.
I'm down to 11 from over 30 juveniles that grew big enough to put in with the adults, most of them dying from this issue. I have yet another one who started showing symptoms last night. This Cory was absolutely fine the day before.
<Not good.>
At different times for different fish I've used Furan-2 and Amoxicillin in a 10 gallon quarantine tank. The fish always died overnight or the day after treatment. I have tried quarantining some of them and treating them with antibiotics, because the symptoms show some similarities to a bacterial infection, but they always die within a day or two of starting treatment. It seems like whatever this is, by the time symptoms show they're too far gone to treat.
I'm at a complete loss here, I've asked other places and no one has any idea other than complete shots in the dark. This has been very hard to deal with, and I feel completely helpless. If anyone has any idea what this could be, or knows someone who might, please let me know.Below are images I've taken over the course of many months, in chronological order. Each one is of a different Cory who had this condition, the last one is currently suffering from this. The first one is one of the long fins I mentioned
earlier. I'm linking them because the images are very large.
https://i.imgur.com/Zxs24th.jpg I appreciate any help you can give me. If you need any more information, I'm happy to supply it to the best of my abilities. - Adam
<Adam, my instinctive feeling is there's something environmental going on here. Get back to me when you've done the flake test on the substrate. If the water is rather still, I'd go with long-term oxygen stress, which combined with the higher than ideal temperature, could make the fish more
prone to opportunistic bacterial infections. I mean by that your fish are almost certainly dying from something like a Pseudomonas, Aeromonas, or Mycobacteria infection, but all of these are latent in even the best aquarium, and only cause problems when the fish's own immune system is compromised. Mycobacteria infections are notoriously difficult (i.e., impossible) to treat, but then again, even the more easily dealt with Aeromonas infections aren't going to go away if too far gone or the environment keeps the fish under stress. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Corydoras slowly dying off one by one, no one has answers.    /RMF     4/22/20

<<Hi Bob! When you paste this up, can you add any thoughts of your own? I'm very open to ideas here! Neale.>>
<Sure; have read over, incl. your reps. First I would ask Adam to "check the checkers", to make sure the test kits (particularly ammonia and nitrite) are accurate. When the aquarist stirs, disturbs the substrate, do gas bubbles erupt? Is there a soil substrate mixed, in place? Are they using a liquid plant supplement?
Foodwise, I'd skip the bloodworms entirely and the blanched vegetables for now.
I too suspect the cause of these losses as environmental, perhaps with a genetic component.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtle     4/22/20
Me and my fiance noticed a spot on the top of the head of our yellow-bellied slider and were unsure what it may be. We need to know if it's something that can be handled naturally or if we may need to see a vet. I've attached a picture of what it looks like.
<Hello Ethan. This looks to be an ulcer of some sort. Somehow the skin was damaged, and a bacterial infection has set in. 'Dry Docking' the turtle will help (see elsewhere on this website) and you can carefully use medical iodine solutions (such as Betadine) to clean these wounds once the skin has dried off a bit. After the wound has healed, which may take some days or weeks, he can be returned to his normal environment.
That said, if you're taking this chap to the vet -- which is an excellent idea -- your vet will give you a suitable treatment to follow. In the meantime, do try and review the turtle's world to see why he got damaged.
Aggression between turtles is one possibility, sharp objects in the tank might be another. Check also that family members are handling him right, and that you don't have any pets (like dogs) that can somehow get into his... (? the end. RMF)

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.     4/22/20
Thanks Bob. No Soapfish for this setup then. Even though you said the risk is small, I’d rather not have to deal with their toxin (not for this setup) and I’d rather give it more room. If I ever think about getting a Barred Soapfish again it’ll be for a tank at least 5 or 6 foot long (or maybe even that’s too small?).
I’ll stick to a trio of Pajama Cardinals, get them small, and otherwise sick to my original plan with the Marine Betta, Clowns, Cardinals, a trio of Stripeys, and some damsels for my 4 foot system.
I appreciate all the help you’ve given me.
<Welcome. B>

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.       4/21/20
> You’re great as always Bob! By the way, I watched your lecture on YouTube
> about Butterflyfish, and yes I thought it would be a good idea to hold off
> getting one until I have at least a year or two of experience and a system
> that’s 130+ gallons and at least 5 foot long (I’ll be getting one of the
> smaller species up to 6”, 200 gallons might not be possible for me for a
> long time to come). I was indeed eyeing an Atlantic Longsnout (if only I
> can find one here) but it looks like I’ll be sticking to one of the Roaps,
> Merten’s, Dot-Dash, or a Double Saddle instead should I choose to get a
> butterfly for a future setup. Thanks regardless. For now I’ll stick to the
> “1” category in general when it comes to marine fish.
I did learn something useful though, which is to transport fish by putting the bag horizontally rather than vertically. I’ll definitely keep that in mind!
Is there anything to keep in mind when collecting the Stripeys from the coast near me? I’ll be going for the smaller ones that are 4-5 cm. What kind of net and bag should I use to capture them, and how do I acclimate
fish that I caught on my own to my tank?
<You'll likely find a fence/barrier/mist net useful... can build or buy one... with a float and lead lines. See WWM re>
Would these fish be at particular risk to any diseases or parasites? I don’t want them (the diseases or parasites) entering my system.
<Not likely>
Also, would my Marine Betta and Hawkfish have trouble competing with them for food?
<Could be in time>
How do I make sure the slower fish are well-fed in the presence of the Stripeys?
<Search, read re on WWM>
Thank you Bob and once again I’d appreciate your time and patience.
Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.       4/21/20

Finally, Bob. Sorry to bother you again. What would be the expected lifespan of these Stripeys in captivity? Thanks.
<Don't know... likely years>
Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.       4/21/20

Never mind about collecting my own Stripeys or other fish in the future. :)
I found the article on WWM. Would appreciate you taking the time to answer my other questions though. :)
Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.       4/21/20

Thanks Bob. If I get 3 or 5 Pajama Cardinals, will they likely be aggressive towards each other, resulting in attrition?
<It's a possibility.. hence starting them small/ish and as a trio>
If I keep them with some damsels, would the damsels cause them any trouble?
<Not likely, but depending on the damsel species, they can be the same way w/ each other. >
I came across this fish called the Barred Soapfish on WWM. It looks pretty cool. However, do you feel it would be suitable for my 4 foot system? I’m imagining it’s a big but fairly sedentary fish like the Comet,
though I could be wrong.
Can it be trained to eat flakes, frozen foods and pellets?
Is it very hardy, disease-resistant and long-lived? I’m worried about their poison but, according to WWM they rarely excrete it.
<Am not a fan of Soapfish species in small captive systems. Bob Fenner>
If I can include that Soapfish, my build could possibly be:
x1 Marine Betta
x1 Barred Soapfish
x2 Ocellaris or Black n White Ocellaris Clowns
x1-2 Hawkfish
x3 or 5 Pajama Cardinals
Also worried about the Barred Soapfish eating my smaller fish (does that usually happen?) and having a big bio-load.

Oscars       4/21/20
Sent from my iPhone hello my name is Jeannie my husband has Oscars and he changes the water frequently It looks like the Oscar has a protruding anus as of what I was told my husband feeds them Oscar pellets and they were fine.
<Correct. This is a prolapse, and Oscars are more prone to these than most other fish. Partly it's their size and the difficulty people have ensuring the right water quality, and partly it's their need for a much more varied
diet than some people imagine. Let's pick both of these apart. In terms of care, Oscars need a large (100+ gallon) aquarium with robust filtration (water turnover rates of at least 8 times per hour). Water changes should be weekly. You're aiming for 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and, crucially, nitrate levels below 40 mg/l and ideally below 20 mg/l. All cichlids are sensitive to nitrate, but unfortunately big, messy fish will raise nitrate levels very quickly. Having a big aquarium helps dilute nitrate, which is why the 55-75 gallon tanks often recommended in the past for large cichlids don't really work in the long term -- at least not without much more frequent water changes. As for diet, Oscars are omnivores in the wild, consuming small fish, insects and crustaceans as well as fruits and the usual organic detritus most fish will nibble on when bored. So while something like Hikari Cichlid Gold makes an excellent staple, it should be augmented with, in particular, sources of roughage to keep the digestive tract in good health. Cooked peas are a good choice, with most cichlids eating them when hungry (feel free to starve them for a week or two if needed) but suitably gut-loaded insects and crustaceans work well too. Frozen brine shrimp with added Spirulina are good, as are small crickets. Earthworms are a superb choice if you have access to a clean supply of them. The foods to avoid are anything with fat (chicken and beef, for example, though beef heart, using sparingly, is fine) as well foods known to be unsafe (feeder fish and Tubifex).>
I seen this happen after he changed there food please tell me what I can do to help the Oscar get better.
<Three things to do. The first is to add Epsom Salt to the water. This is NOT the salt we use in the kitchen, but easily bought online or in drugstores. Use 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres. What this does is work as a mild laxative. Secondly, stop feeding for a week. This will do no harm to any of the fish in the tank. This gives the digestive tract some time to recover. And finally, after a week, introduce sources of roughage
into the diet, and only use those foods -- no dried foods or pellets! -- until the fish recovers. Do, of course, check water quality. If you don't see any signs of improvement, medicating with Metronidazole and an
antibiotic may help, as this combination is widely used with cichlids where we're dealing with unknown parasites and pathogens.>
He was feed them cichlids gold for about 2 years and about 1 month or 2 ago he changed it to jumbo minis and that happened
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Fish QT question    4/20/20
Hi Bob and gang,
<Hi Danny>
I learned my lesson (the hard way) a few years ago and set up a dedicated 29 gallon quarantine tank in the basement. It’s made a huge difference.
<It certainly does!>
My question is this. After a few days, when the fish have settled in and are eating, would you advise beginning a prophylactic copper (Cupramine) treatment even if the new fish don’t show any signs of Crypt or Velvet? Or would you treat with copper only if they show signs of disease?
<I would not treat unless there are visible signs of disease, I suggest watching your fish for a couple of weeks and if everything is fine, just move them to the DT, perhaps just giving a 5-min FW dip/bath (temp/ph adjusted). Cheers. Wil.>
Re: Fish QT question    4/20/20

Makes sense. Thanks a bunch!
<You're most welcome. Wil.>

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.    4/20/20
Thanks Bob! I don’t think I’ll get it for my tank as I already have a Marine Betta as the large fish. I’ve decided to go with the 4 foot tank and I found out that I can collect these Stripeys really easily from the coast
near where I live (southeastern China).
My new stocking list will be:
x1 Marine Betta + x2 Ocellaris / Black and White Ocellaris Clowns (First
group of fish to go in)
(Wait a couple weeks)
x2-3 Stripeys
(Wait a couple weeks)
x3 Pajama Cardinals
<These may have a hard time competing for food w/ the Stripeys>
(Wait a couple weeks)
x1-2 Flame Hawkfish
Will this work? Will it massively overstock my tank and impact the bioload?
<Should be fine. B>

Re: Acrylic Repair    4/20/20
Thank you very much, I will try my best! Tilting this tank is a whole project in itself.
<Mmm; thought about this; yeah. Tilting up a ten foot high tank... Maybe just on the edge will do; be better than just vertical>
Would you recommend Weldon 16 with a high gauge needle for this? Thanks again, Anthony
<Yes to the #16 and small gauge needle. It REALLY flows into small gaps. Bob Fenner>

Bolivian Ram bottom sitting and not eating after being shipped to me. Pix     4/20/20
Good afternoon, I write to ask for help! Bolivian Ram that I recived 2 days ago in shipment is not dooing good.
<I would immediately claim this against whatever insurance policy the online retailer provides. While this fish may recover with appropriate treatment (i.e., Metronidazole along an antibiotic) and good conditions, it
is in a very bad way. Cichlids do become stressed when exposed to cold, and can recover if kept properly afterwards. But this fish looks very thin and dark, so there may be something else going on.>
Fish is sitting on the bottom, not reacting to food and struggles to swim from time to time with its tail down. Shipping took almost 2 days. My tank is established for 11 weeks now. I house In it 7 Honey Gouramies, 2
Bolivian Rams, 5 Panda Cory's. It is 29 gallon planted aquarium with Canister and HOB filtration. I use heater, air stone and LED lighting.
Bolivian Ram that I did recive looks mature, fish is big but I don't know how old it is?
<Likely 6-12 months old if this is a farmed fish sent out to you not long after being received by the retailer from the wholesaler.>
Please help me to bring it back to life. Should I use aquarium salt for few days?
Will it help?
<No. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Bolivian Ram bottom sitting and not eating after being shipped to me.    4/20/20
Thank you for your response Neale,
I've just ordered Metronidazole for fish.
<A good call, and the best general purpose cure for cichlids because they are so prone to things like Hexamita that only Metronidazole will treat.>
I hope that my Bolivian Ram will make it. There is no chance to get any response from the farm I did order my fish. I tried already...
<Oh dear.>
I just have one more question about it's gender. I did order boy but this fish looks like female to me. Can you confirm it?
<Not from your photos, no. This species is quite difficult to sex. Males and females are almost identical, with only a few differences: males are slightly bigger, tend to be slightly more colourful, and have slightly
longer fins (especially the tips of the dorsal, anal and tail fins). Beyond that, younger specimens of both sexes can be easily confused. Cheers, Neale.>

Need help to identify a worm    4/20/20
I found a worm outside of my house, just near to my dog, when I accidentally step on it. After looking it I found this so weird because it is first time i have ever see worm with glowing blood. I have attached pic
of it, with flashlight and without flashlight. Is it baby millipedes? So confused.
<Hello. That's quite the find! It appears to be a polychaete rather than a centipede or millipede. I say that because the body appears to be soft, with no obvious exoskeleton, unlike those two arthropod groups. A
polychaete ('bristleworm') seems more probable than an oligochaete ('earthworm') because of the fleshy appendages on each segment. However, terrestrial polychaete are very rare, unlike oligochaetes, which include numerous terrestrial species. So my guess in the absence of any other information would be that this is a marine polychaete, perhaps dropped by a bird onto dry land somewhere near your home. Of course if you live near the sea, this makes sense -- but if you're more than a few miles inland, that would be an unlikely explanation. There are freshwater polychaetes, but they're mostly quite small and unobtrusive, and not at all common.
Fluoresce in polychaetes is quite well documented, though again, to the best of my knowledge only among marine species. Better photos of the head end of the animal would help -- polychaetes usually have obvious jaws complete with sharp pincers in many cases, as well as eyes and tentacles, all of which are absent from most oligochaetes. It would also help to know where you live. In the Southern Hemisphere, velvet worms might also be considered, but you wouldn't find these in Europe or North America, and again, they only live in specific habitats such as rain forests. Cheers, Neale.>

Copper Banded Butterfly changing appearance...     4/20/20
Hi gang,
<Hey Chuck>
I have kept a copper banded butterfly for 3+ years in my macroalgae display tank (connected via common sump with my reef tank)
<Chelmon rostratus is not one of the easiest BF species to keep; it requires top water quality and a varied diet.>
... it's a low intensity tank, with just a juvenile scopas tang for company.
<What are your water parameters?>
He feeds almost exclusively on frozen mysis, and whatever else he gleans from the seaweed.
<This diet is not varied enough.>
Recently, the gold vertical stripe underneath the 'false eye' near the tail has started going dark... almost black. It's symmetrical on both sides of the fish. No signs of trauma... appears to be a pigmentation issue. Is this a sign of stress... or advancing age... or anything else you can think of?
<Not because of advanced age, no... these fish can live up to 20 years. I think this is more environmentally stress related.>
Thanks in advance for any help on this...
<Cheers. Wil.>

Re: Help Bob Fenner; PBT       4/19/20
Hi Bob, sorry to bother you again. This has gotten me nuts. She looks twice as worse since putting her back in my main tank. Although the water that was in my qt came from my display....its not the water irritating her..I’m assuming. I give up. She’s now %85 covered in those lesions.
<Do send along another pic. Do you have, use purposeful cleaner/s? Cleaning organisms...?>
Hiding and swimming erratically. I’m having a hard time just watching her get slowly worse. Should I remove some fish?
<Maybe... do you have another established system to place this fish? IF NOT, DO change all the water out of the quarantine and refill it, do daily water changes (20-25%) with the main/display system water>
I’m pretty sure the three Anthias I last added are the contributing cause for her stress. I’m at a loss.
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Help Bob Fenner; PBT        4/19/20
Here's a great pic. Are you saying put my PBT back into qt?
Using my main tank water? And doing daily waterchanges?.
<Yes and yes>
If I'm using my display water for qt water changes...isn't the water in qt staying the same? I was going to pull the 3 Anthias and take them back to my LFS. Something in my main display is Stressing her out.
<Can you tell what it is... the fancy bass?>
She was fine before adding the three Anthias. I do have a decent CUC...if that's what your referring to. She looked so much better in Qt.

Re: Help Bob Fenner       4/19/20
<Please change the title of your emails... they're all going to our "Junk" folder... Just Re: PBT will do>
3 Anthias square backs. One male and two females. Should I treat with anything once she’s back in? Or just water changes?
<Just the water changes, though I'd drop the spg a few hundredths... will make it easier for the fish to breath, shed mucus>
I went through a 5 day treatment of Maracyn already...and was going to do that again, until you told me to put her back in.
<I'd skip any antibiotic administration. BobF>


Acrylic Repair       4/19/20
Good morning,
I wanted to reach out and thank your whole crew for helping organize a lot of great information on this site!
<Ahh! Thank you for your kind, encouraging words>
I recently purchased a used 1200 gallon 10x4x4 with 1.25” acrylic walls.
<Mmm; I'd rather 1.5" material...>
It was on a horribly uneven and rusty stand,
but still holding water, and I’m worried about this one seam on the tank along the top center wall.
<I see this "white out" area in your pic>
All the other seams hardly have a single bubble, and it’s on a new level stand. Can I just use Weldon to strengthen this top seam if all the other seams are near perfect?
<This is what I would try... tilting the tank so the open slit of the seam is facing upright, putting some sturdy tape along the panels to disallow the wandering of the low viscosity Weldon, saturating the gap, allowing the solvent to fill this area... waiting a day to see if this has helped sufficiently>
Thanks in advance,
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.       4/19/20
Thanks Bob, as always. You always give great advice and info. Would you mind helping me ID this fish? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Once again, I’d really appreciate it.
<Oh! Appears to be a Nemipterid; likely Scolopsis vosmeri (Bloch 1792), the Whitecheek Monocle Bream.>

Re: Hatchling Eye       4/18/20
Thank you so much for your help ,
<Most welcome.>
I think I will see the nearest vet.
<Good call.>
Would you recommend eye drops until I can get him there?
<If sterile, possibly. But if a vet is taking a look, perhaps best to wait.
There are specific eye drops for turtles available, and these should be safe. For example, Zoo Med Repti Turtle Eye Drops which retail for around $5-10. I would not use human eye drops without checking with a reptile expert or vet first. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Guppy colony issues       4/18/20
Thanks so much Neale,
I medicated them again with Prazi per the instructions.
I notice his tail is whitish on the ends does that make fit rot or nipping more likely?
<Finrot. But the two are often linked. When the tissue is damaged, any dead tissue goes white. If blood vessels become congested, they may turn pink or red, and this is often a good sign you're dealing with Finrot. Because repeated nipping makes fish vulnerable to bacterial infections, there's a link with Finrot (which is a purely opportunistic, and not a disease that you can stop from getting into a tank).>
Its 70L I was supposed to sell or give away half of them but couldn't due to corona virus.
<Understood. Do keep on top of water changes, do ensure aeration is good, and do avoid overfeeding.>
I could remove all or most of the rams snails to help as there is a lot. I add rift lake cichlid salt to the tank
<Snails won't make much difference so wouldn't be too bothered about them.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help Bob Fenner, PBT        4/18/20
Hey Bob, I forgot to ask this before. These lesions that did not come off in a dip are still very much attached to her. She’s not looking much better than when I first took her out. Obviously this thing is not life threatening right now. I’m continuing to soak her foods and monitor. In your experience with this, will she heal from this? And how long can I expect her to be like this?
<Likely will heal in time, weeks to a few months. BobF>

High nitrate levels in pond and aquarium       4/18/20
Hi Bob and Friends,
<Hello Annette.>
Recently my platys have been dying. All my other fish seem ok. I did a water test kit from API and the pH was 7.6, but the nitrates were at 160 ppm, which was the highest level.
<Yikes! That'd be the reason. Fish vary in response to nitrate. Cichlids and Mollies are very sensitive, and long-term, anything above 20 mg/l can cause health problems. Most community fish will be fine up to 40-50 mg/l, and characins and catfish seem to be, on the average, among the least sensitive fish (which probably explains why they were old favourites for community tanks up to the 1970s, when people avoided water changes).
Platies are likely to be more like Mollies, so your high nitrates could easily be the problem.>
Is there anything I can do?
<First up, a water change. Do a series of changes across the next few days, such that you change 30-50% of the water each time. Try and keep water chemistry and temperature steady. After a few days, nitrate should be close to whatever your tap water level happens to be. Secondly, review stocking, tank size, and feeding. The old rule that says "an inch of fish per gallon" is pretty good, so if you had, say, 10 platies, these are about 1.5-2 inches long, so you'd need 15-20 gallons to keep them. Any additional fish would be added to that, so if you had, say, six Corydoras catfish, each about the same size, they'd be another 9-12 gallons, so together your tank would need to be at least 24-32 gallons in size. This rule is conservative, but works really well for small fish in the 1-3 inch size range. Feeding should be moderate, and as a rule of thumb, small community fish need a 'portion' of flake about the size of their eyeball each meal. Feeding once or twice a day is fine, and for fish like Platies especially, just letting them graze on algae (or softened vegetables, such as spinach, peas or
cucumber) is a fine way to round out their diet. Overfeeding fish doesn't kill them by poisoning them or blocking their stomachs or something, but too much food does mean the filter is working harder, and as you can see, the end product of filtration, nitrate, isn't non-toxic. That's why we do water changes every week or two: to dilute that nitrate. Fast-growing plants (such as floating plants if you have indifferent lighting) can be
really helpful too, since plants absorb nitrate.>
The pond was the same. I saw a De-nitrate water additive.
<Don't waste your time with additives. Water changes do a massively better job, for much less cost. Honestly, while there may be niche applications where denitrification is relevant to freshwater fishkeeping, there's
otherwise no reason to get bogged down in this side of things. Instead limit stocking, ensure the tank is nice and big, don't overfeed, and do regular water changes. That's all you need to do, and it not only works well, but doesn't cost anything!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Golden Apple snails (and goldfish)       4/18/20
I have been enjoying the section about the Apple snails, and it has been helpful especially in regards to calcium levels and possibly supplements.
<Glad you've enjoyed!>
Over 7 years ago (I am not sure of the time span so it may have been longer) I acquired a Golden Apple for my 50 gallon goldfish tank on my patio. I named it Grover and it was the first Snail I ever liked. (I live in California USA where the escaped escargot has not only adapted well but is a bit of a pest for rabid gardeners like myself, so I wasn’t able to Ohh and Aahhh over them and call them cute).
<Well, they're native here in England, or at least the very similar and equally edible Helix aspersa is, and my cottage garden is infested with them! They're interesting animals though. And Escargot snails are very delicious! Or perhaps it's just the garlic butter?>
Grover, however, was not only very attractive in color, but fascinating to watch. “He” and the 2 standard goldfish lived well together, neither bothering the other in any way. I knew about how to care for the goldfish but never even thought about finding out about Apple snails. I guess I just figured that he was a snail and would be as adaptable as all the other water snails I ended up with no matter how I tried to clean new living plants before adding to the tank.
<Alas, Apple Snails can be problematic. There's a range of species and hybrids out there, which means some people find them easy, and some people not so much. The average specimen lasts maybe a year or so, but I've seen some specimens that were many years old and almost the size of tennis balls.>
I had a plethora of “pond snails “ (small almost rounded brown snails), the larger rounded snails and lastly the darn trumpet snails which polished off all the other snails and took over.
<Now hold on a cotton picking moment! Melanoides snails need some decent PR, and I'm the guy. Yes, they multiply rapidly if there's lots for them to eat. But they are detritivores, and will not ever kill live snails or healthy plants. Indeed, if you can see them at all (at least during the daytime) there's something amiss because naturally they hide in the sand during the daylight hours. If you see them on the glass, especially near the top of the tank, during the daytime that means they're coming up for air, and that in turn means there's something wrong with the substrate and/or water column. They're the miner's canary in that regard, being the first sign of trouble.>
Took me years to get rid of them.
<Indeed; Melanoides are best controlled rather than eliminated. Individually, they're short lived, and in tanks with minimal algae and organic muck, their numbers should stay low.>
I had 5 indoor tanks of various sizes indoors and 2 tanks outside. The weather allowed me to do that. The only problem was the expletive deleted raccoon that raided my smaller 10 gallon and ate my bristled nose Pleco early Thanksgiving morning.
Grover lived to become almost as big as a baseball and died at approximately 5 years of age.
<That's actually not bad at all! Five years is a good age for an Apple Snail. They rarely get that old without a cooler/warmer cycle through the year, so a patio or conservatory tank at ambient temperature is likely better than the usual indoor tropical tank that's kept constantly warm.>
The goldfish lived 7 years and would have lived longer if we hadn’t gone on vacation and left my cousin in charge.
<My advice with fish is, unless you're gone more than 2-3 weeks, just leave them unfed. Fish can go weeks if not months (in the case of big fish) without food. But overfeeding and the resulting water quality crash has killed many, many pet fish over the years.>
Grover and the fish (I kept on changing their names but nothing settled) always knew when feeding time was, and I still remember watching him come up to the water line and put his foot thingy up to catch flakes with. I used to also feed him algae wafers and zucchini.
<Sounds good.>
That all being said, tank care is a lot of work so I am now down to one 70 gallon tank and my Corydoras finally all died off, so I bought 5 Golden Apples. I bought 5 in order to attempt to insure a good population level and in hopes that they would clean up the algae.
<They can do, but they're more plant-eaters than algae-grazers. Certainly when compared to, say, Nerite snails, which eat nothing but green algae and diatoms.>
They have been very busy. I have 6 or 7 egg clutches that I can see on the glass, and I have seen them in the midst of their snail orgies for days. Who knew snails would get that horny.
<They will certainly breed readily given the right conditions. Eggs need to be above the waterline to be viable though. Often laid on the aquarium hood or, if you're going for the _au naturel_ approach, vertical plant stalks and leaves that stick out above the waterline.>
I seem, however, to be missing 2 of them.
<Broody Apple Snails will leave the tank if they can to find a suitable egg-laying spot. In the wild they ascend plants anything up to about a metre above the waterline, and once the eggs hatch, the baby snails drop into the water below. Unlike your dratted Helix pomatia, which have a strong homing instinct, Apple Snails easily get lost. Look around the back of the tank, anywhere dark and hopefully damp. Apple Snails can survive out of water for some days, provided they don't dry out.>
I had added some little calcium ball things to the tank, but I haven’t checked the parameters of the water yet. Couldn’t find the test kits. I expect the new test kit to arrive tomorrow! I also noticed the 2nd clutch is gone and I have a lot of little snails in the tank. I am really not sure what type of snails they are. The shape of most of the shells look like the Apples, but some are brown, some gold, and others are white. So I am worried about that, too?
<No, quite normal. I fed my baby snails on floating lettuce leaves, which they enjoyed.>
Snails can remain dormant for some time. In addition, many of the small snails accumulate on the filter intake tubes. I think I resolved that problem by placing cleaned window screening over the ends and securing those with a rubber band.
While doing that in the midst of cleaning the intake tubes, I removed a long stream of what appeared to have been a snail head and feelers. Argh. Yesterday I noticed a Golden Apple with no apparent head that I could see, and it was covered with the little snails who looked like they were eating it. I picked it up and shook 98% of the snails off, but it appears to have closed its door way, so I put it back in the water in a different place. Today I saw a portion, about an inch, of it slid out from the shell and covered with many of the smaller snails. I am afraid that they are eating it.
<Apple Snails, like most snails, are opportunistic, and if a snail is dying, may try to feed on it. It is wise to remove ailing snails at first sight, and either humanely destroy them (sticking them in a bag and in the freezer will do this) or quarantine them for a few hours or days in something like a large plastic tub so that you can see if they're dead, alive, or somewhere in between. Our understanding of snail healthcare is rudimentary, to say the least, but sometimes isolating sick snails for a few days allows them to get better under their own steam.>
They don’t have the striped coloring of the assassin snails shown, so I am really not sure what they really are. I thought that they were either golden Apple snails just not golden yet or possibly a form of previously dormant pond snails. The week before last there were at least 4 Golden Apple snails.
Questions as follows:
1. What are the best KH, PH and Nitrate ranges for Apple snails ?
<They are not fussy, but I'd tend towards moderate hardness and a slightly alkaline pH; say, 10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5 simply to avoid pitting in the shell. Nitrate, as per fishkeeping, should be below 50 mg/l, and ideally below 20 mg/l.>
2. What would you recommend to use to supplement the calcium level in the water?
<No real need in hard water unless you have a lot of snails. Look for signs of pitting on the shells. If present, then yes, extra calcium would be a plus.>
3. Is it normal for snails to eat each other IF one is dead, or do I have a problem here?
<Yes, normal; whether problematic depends on the causes, but as I say, remove ailing snails regardless.>
4. I need to do another tank cleaning water change anyway, so I can just vacuum up most of the little snails if I have to. Do I need to do that?
<Yes, as with any breeding project, the more small water changes you do, the greater the numbers of offspring you will rear.>
5. Do you need photos?
<Not especially but feel free to send some along if you'd like to share. But do try and keep them to below 1 MB in size.>
Thank you
Amy O.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.     4/16/20
Hi Bob, once again. Thanks for all the great info. I’ll try my best to get the 4’ tank then. Would having a 3’ tank somewhat reduce the lifespan of my fish?
<Likely not much>
Also, I read that if I keep fish in trios (which I plan to do for my Pajama Cardinals and my Chrysiptera Damsels), would it be very likely for either or both species that one will be singled out and killed off?
<Might happen, better to have small odd numbers>
I’m also very curious as to what this fish could be. I’m pretty sure it’s a Chrysiptera
<No; another genus>
damsel but I cannot identify the species. I’d be glad if you could identify it for me and tell me what you know about it.
<A Pomacentrid of some sort. Perhaps review all genera, species listed on WWM>

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium. Centropyge beh.    4/16/20
Also, I read somewhere the pygmy (“dwarf” dwarf) angels have shorter lifespans than the medium and larger (4”+) Centropyge angels. Have you found that to be true?
<Mmm; yes. >
Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.    4/17/20

Guess I’ll just stick to 3 Cardinalfish and 3 Damsels then.
Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.    4/17/20

Hi, Bob. Would an Australian Stripey in place of the angel or the Cardinalfish or the damsels work in a 4 foot tank?
Do you know anything about the longevity, hardiness, and feeding requirements of these fish?
<Are usually quite hardy, eat most anything. To me, sort of like Scats/scatophagids>
Also, if I really want to try keeping a pair of Marine Bettas in a 4 foot tank, can that be done?
<... Please don't keep asking the same questions>
In that case I plan to get a smaller one and a larger one that’s about 50% larger, I’ll observe them at the LFS for two weeks. I’ll also provide a cave for each in my tank. Can it be safely done, having 2 Marine Bettas in my tank?

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