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FAQs on Discus Disease, Pests 1

FAQs on Discus Disease: Discus Disease 2, Discus Disease 3,

FAQs on Discus Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious, Parasitic, Trauma, Treatments  


Related Articles: Plants + Discus = Wow! by Alesia Benedict, Planted Aquariums: Plants and Discus: What They Need To Thrive  By Alesia Benedict, Discus Divas, Glitz, Glam and Lots of Demands by Alesia Benedict, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Discus 1, Discus 2, Discus Identification, Discus Selection, Discus Compatibility, Discus Behavior, Discus Systems, Discus Feeding, Discus Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,


Treating discus with other fish... BGKs and med.s...   2/10/06 Hi to the WWM crew from the Philippines!!!!!!!!!!! <Hello to you my friend>    i am glad i saw your site!!!!    i currently have a 35gallon tank with 5 discus(2-3.5in), 2 algae eaters, <Keep your eyes on these... may "ride" your discus, sucking on their sides...> 3 neon tetras and 4 black ghost knives. <Yikes... crowded>    my concern is that i have been using a medication called "Rid All" which i used to use in my Arowana to treat my discus if they're showing any form of infection or sickness. <Contains Malachite Green if memory serves....> the thing now is that i added the 4 BGK's last week, and i just added my medication to the tank 2 hours ago!!! some sites said that BGK's are sensitive to medication, <Most types yes> do you think what i just did will kill my BGK? <Didn't help them> do you think i should just remove my BGK's from the tank every time i have to treat the other fish (especially the discus)? <I would treat the discus elsewhere... Bob Fenner> Arvin Jasper A. Cristi

Discus Question   2/10/06 Good Afternoon, <Morning here/now> I am starting up a 65 gallon planted discus tank and was wondering if I can have other fish in with them (specifically angels, an elephant nose, cardinal tetras and maybe dwarf gouramis). <The cardinals would be fine (if large enough, the discus small enough), the other fish species are not recommended for various reasons>   Also, could you please tell me how many fish I can house in a 65 gallon aquarium. <Could start with five discus of smallish size (less than three inches in diameter), likely having to remove all but two, three in time> Another question is with regards to sand/gravel.  I have been reading up on silica sand, black beauty and other sandblasting sand.  Could you please tell me which is the best to use in my tank (currently running bare bottomed). <Mmm, none of these would I choose. Look to Fluorite, lateritic material... for function...> What medication (if any) should I always have on hand.  Thanking you in advance for any advise you can offer. Lori <None. Like military hardware, lack of knowledge/intelligence re same, you're too likely to use it. Bob Fenner>


Troubles With New Discus  1/1/06 Hello again, Crew, How have the Holidays been? < So far, so good.> Ours have been stressful. We've had a group of 6 discus (3--1" fish, 2--2", and 1--2.5") in quarantine since the Thursday before Christmas. The QT was setup 1.5 wks earlier with water from the display and bio-media that we keep in our main 150gal tank for just such a purpose. It is a 20gal w/2" gravel and UG filter and a "reverse wet dry" (4"PVC filled with bioballs, capped and drilled, with an airstone inside allowing bubbles to rise through the bioballs). Wednesday I was checking my water and noticed that the ammonia was getting up to 1ppm, so I did a 50% wc and added some GAC. I checked my water on Thursday and the NH3 was up to 2 ppm so I did a 60% wc, took out the plant bulbs that I'd put in on Monday, JIC, and went about my way. Later that day I noticed that the discus just didn't seem happy, so I checked again and my NH3 had jumped to about 3ppm. I couldn't figure out what had happened, but the trend was troubling. I checked the main system and everything was zero, including nitrates, so I decided it was better to put them in the display than to kill them with ammonia. We moved them in the afternoon and noticed that the lonely discus in the main tank was being quite stingy with food. We decided a change of scenery might do him good, so did a 40%wc, put him in an internal refugium (clear 'critter cage' faced on it's side to allow flow and view, w/o aggression) and rearranged the decorations. In the process my UGJ came out from under the sand so I just pulled it from the system...wasn't good for the discus anyway, too much current. This all lasted until about 11:30pm. The fish looked like crud this morning, but livened up for feeding, except the largest of the bunch. His feeding reflex seemed very weak and he seemed to miss everything he went for...he hit just below every piece of food, only getting like one out of 10 attempts. This afternoon everyone still looked unhappy so I turned off the MH and they are only lit by a 27w 6500K CFL in the middle of the tank. Just now I noticed that the largest was still looking unhappy and has quite a few "holes" around his head and jaw, probably about 8-12 that I can count. After seeing that I looked at everyone and they all seem to have very pronounced lateral lines, though no-one else shows holes in their head and he is the only one with a reduced feeding response. I feed a variety of flake, mostly Tetra and OSI, and frozen bloodworms and supplement every other day with vitamins. My first thought is Hexamita, but I've only seen very advanced cases at pet stores and am unsure. The main tank is still at 0 on everything and the QT's ammonia is down to about .5ppm NH3. What should I do? Branon. < The stress from all the movement and new fish is taking its toll. Continue to check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm for discus. The lower the better. I would vacuum the gravel and clean the filter while doing a 50% water change. Discus actually like some current in their tank. Once the tank conditions are straightened out you should see some improvement. Things like Blackwater Extract and pieces of wood in the tank help calm the fish down by adding tannins to the water and slightly darkening it.-Chuck>


Discus Still Recovering  1/1/06 Chuck, good to hear from you again. I let the [once] lonely discus out of his makeshift 'refugium' and he was much more content to play nicely. The largest of the new fish is also improving--I'm going to call him "biggy" since he's the biggest of the new group. He wasn't attempting to eat yesterday or this morning, but as soon as the resident discus came out he was much improved. The holes in his head haven't changed. I'm treating one feeding per day with Metronidazole, JIK. Everyone has perked up a bit. I noticed quite a bit of "pestering" from the Yo-Yo loaches. Have you ever heard of them being a problem? < Yes , many of the larger loaches can be very aggressive.> Ours are about 3" long and are excellent scavengers. However, I did notice that they will chase and pester the discus about once every 5 minutes on average...sometimes worse than others. I'm wondering if this is why everyone's still darker than they should be? < Stress is a big factor when it come to disease. Being chased every 5 minutes is stressful.> I'm going to lure them into the 'refugium' and see if this helps the discus some. I'm also thinking of getting some Corydoras or clown loaches to give them something else to pester? < Go with the Corydoras.> 'Biggy' is actively pursuing food but still misses almost everything he aims for...can you think of any reason why? < Deformity, disease could have affected the skull and muscle tissue around the eyes and he is having trouble focusing.> He's almost three inches so he's been eating well for a while now. He's also been doing this since he was shipped to us, so I don't think it's anything that could have happened here. Do you think this is something that'll fade out? < If the eyes are clear then probably nothing you can do.> Is there anything that could contribute/help this condition/situation? < Keep the water clean and hopefully things will improve.-Chuck> I'm planning on putting him into the QT tank once the NH3 has improved. Any help would be appreciated. Branon.


Discus Problems  12/9/05     Hello. I have a couple of questions regarding my discus. First of all my water tests at 0 for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, and my pH is 6.6, dGH and dKH is 3 degrees. My tank is 165 G and I run three Fluval 404's, and one Emperor 400. I change 75% the water, and vacuum the gravel on a weekly basis as well as clean the filters 2-3 times monthly. The problem is that my discus are showing a variety of suspicious behavior and symptoms, and without the use of a microscope I am left wondering what to do.      My discus are very itchy, and they are continuously scratching and flashing against the plants, but this behavior does not extend to my tetras or Corys, it only affects the discus. This is not only disturbing them, but it is disturbing me to see them so irritated. Along with the itching they were showing symptoms of gill flukes "coughing", scratching, etc, so I watched them for a couple of days while I researched on the net, and consulted my many books on disease, one of these books being specifically on discus (Discus Health Selection, Care, Diet, Diseases, and Treatments by Dieter Untergasser).  <<Excellent addition to most anyone's library.  MH>>     I then did a water change and dosed the tank with Prazi Pro. This stopped the rapid pumping of their gills in their "coughing" fits, but did not stop the scratching. The only thing I have noticed are small worms in the gravel that look like small white pieces of plant debris, and from the many articles on your website everything points to these being harmless and caused by a lack of circulation and over feeding. But after a close examination of my discus, and looking repeatedly for days on end for something visible to explain the scratching, I found one of these worms on my discus. Yikes! Needless to say he started twitching his dorsal fin where the worm landed and flicked him off, and the worm just sunk back to the bottom of the tank.      Could this be the problem? If so how do I fix it, as I keep my aquarium clean and don't overfeed my fish. The fish get fed 3-4 times daily, but only in very small portions, and as for the Corys they are fed (due to nothing ever reaching the bottom for them to eat) once each day; shrimp pellets and algae tabs which the discus love to eat. I also have a bubble wand running continuously, and aerating the water because my discus are kept at about 84-86 degrees F. Would you recommend another filter, perhaps a diatom, or even a UV Sterilizer? <The Prazi Pro should have taken care of any invertebrate in the tank. The appearance of these worms indicate that it hasn't worked. Treat again or try Fluke-Tabs.>     Thus cleaning up the water even more. I would happily perform more water changes, but due to my extremely hard alkaline water, and the fact that it takes approximately 10-12 hours to make 60 gallons of RO water, turns this into quite a chore, but if you think it will help I can and will do it. I hate treating my fish with various medicines especially when I can't pinpoint the problem, but in my experience it happens more often than not due to the conditions they are kept in at the one and only LFS in the area (Nitrate at least 500ppm, Total Hardness at least 425 ppm, Alkalinity 0, pH 5), so I do pre-treat my incoming discus in a separate quarantine tank, so I guess you can say I rescue my discus before the LFS can toast them (they did this in less than one day with their last batch of 5, 1 1/2 inch discus).      Of course their excuse was that they came in cold, and they didn't have time to properly acclimate the fish, so they just dumped them in. Jerks!  <<Not uncommon, unusual in aquarium shops.  Marina>>     Thank God for my quarantine tank! I feel bad for all these little fish, so I just bring them home and fix them. I usually pre-treat for flukes and Hexamita, give them food that's high in vitamins, and then just keep a close eye on them for a couple of months; treating further if necessary. Most of the time just improving the conditions they're kept in solves the problem.      My display tank houses five large discus, twenty cardinal tetras, and a colony of 15 panda Corys, so yes it is fully stocked, but no new fish were added other than two recently sexually mature discus from another one of my other tanks (I didn't want them to stunt a 3" discus). I have had one of these discus for 4 months, and the other for 6 months with no problems, so again could this be the problem? None of the equipment like nets, water changers, etc come into contact with the other tanks, so I don't believe all of these problems were from a sick fish or cross contamination.      Up until I put the Prazi Pro in my tank my discus would breed on a weekly basis. Sadly none of their eggs have ever hatched, as to why I do not know. Could you possibly think of any reason as to what may be causing this problem as well? The eggs that are laid are fertilized, and you can tell by the nice amber color, but up until the day of hatching some of them start turning white, not fungused just white. Some of the eggs even make it to the stage of developing "eyes", and then die off, so the parents always end up scrapping them.      Something's not right, but what is it? Are these problems connected in anyway, or are they just a lot of different ones with a totally different underlying cause? Any information and advice you can give me would be appreciated. Thank you! < Young fish or inexperienced breeders usually take awhile to figure out how to spawn successfully. Next time pull the eggs and try to hatch them artificially. Raising the fry artificially is a painfully time consuming but may be worth the effort. Next time they spawn do not do any water changes but make sure the parents are well fed. If you have a discus that has a habit of eating eggs or fry, then I would try and replace that discus with another. Egg eating can be a habit that is hard to break.-Chuck>


Discus Recovery  12/5/05 Chuck, the discus that was returned to the main system is doing quite well. His appetite is unbelievable! His fins are staying open and he's cruising around the system. The loaches still play 'tag' with him a couple times a day, but today we saw him chase them away from some food twice. The substrate is 1.5" sand on top of 1.5" gravel on top of 2" peat. The other discus aren't showing much improvement at all. Branon < The fact that one has recovered means that the medications and treatment are working. Now it is just a matter of if the rest of them are strong enough to fight back.-Chuck> 
Discus Again  12/5/05
I did a water change for the zombie trio and they're just looking worse and worse. I then remembered something that I did differently for the one thriver from all the rest. I did a dip for him in QuICK Cure and Melafix...so I thought I'd give it a shot, since they're just going further and further down hill. The fins on all three are shredded almost down to the body. Two could hardly right themselves and were very slow to do so. They hover at the water surface like they're trying to gasp for breath (a problem with gill function?). < Just stress.> They're extremely thin. They look similar to the others I've noticed before dying, though they aren't laying on the floor as the others did...yet. The other is also painfully thin, though he swims better than the other two. His fins aren't quite as eroded as the others, but not much behind them. I'm seriously considering just stopping the Metronidazole as they don't seem to be showing any outward signs of fungal/parasitic infections and just letting the higher temps work or fail. Today I also treated their tank with a vitamin drop at half strength...hoping it might at least help them in case they'll start eating? Any other suggestions? < Discontinue the treatment and lower the water temps to 78 F. Your fish are in no shape for any further treatment. Add carbon to the water to remove any medication. Do a 30% water change with clean treated tap water and clean the filter. I really don't like the peat decomposing under the gravel. Without oxygen it is probably rotting and contributing to the problem. I would remove it with a gravel vacuum. This will remove the organics while leaving the gravel behind.> None are feeding, even when food is placed almost literally in their mouth...I haven't been able to find the blackworms you suggested...someone suggested adult brine shrimp? < Adult brine shrimp are not very nutritious, worms are better.> ...is there a way of force feeding a fish? < No not really.> I've had them on high temps (87-90) for over a week now, so should I consider dropping the temps to around 84-85 to slow the metabolism? < Yes.> Should I try a little salt to help the slime coat? Stress Coat? Anything else? Thanks. <Just treat the water with a quality water conditioner.> Oh, the breeder I got them from is going to send another batch (I just pay shipping) and we're going to start them in a QT w/ sponge filter and make sure they're adapted to the water and then slowly adapt them to the main system when we're sure they're doing well. (He also recommended just freezing those not doing well since they've been doing so poorly for so long, though I'm of the opinion that the maker and nature should be given the chance to take care of life and death). My wife was somewhat reconciled by this, though she wasn't too happy about the possibility of going through this again...it's been a bit tough on me to watch animals wasting away. Anyway, thanks again. Branon. < Tell the breeder about the conditions of your tank and get his recommendations.-Chuck> 
Discus Dying Still 
Chuck, et. al., we lost another of the non-thrivers this morning, so we're down to the thriver in the system and two remaining zombies in the QT. The temps in the QT are slowly being reduced (84.8 F and dropping) and I'm still on the look-out for black worms. I don't think I'm going to attempt to remove the peat anytime this year...maybe after New Years :-) It is buried under the sand and gravel, so will most likely mean removing all the animals, the whole substrate (about 100 lbs of sand, 100 lbs of gravel, and a muck-load of peat), rinsing the gravel and then putting it all back together again, sans peat moss...not a fun thought. I have a question about my setup also.  I have a 1.5" drain from my surface skimmer down into my W/D sump. Do you think this will be enough to increase my pump return to 600gph? 1000gph? I have another surface skimmer that has two 1.5" drains, but it is currently on my 55gal reef and I'd rather not have to clean and trade them, along with the system down time it would create. If that's what it takes, though, so be it. That would then be another task for next year. Why is it we start piling it on before the New Year even gets here? ....sigh.... Branon. <You an increase it to the flow and see if will take it. Don't do it unless you are going to be around for awhile to watch it.-Chuck>


Discus Help!!  (Disaster)  11/19/05 I'm such a moron! Ok, I always QT new animals before I put them in the 150 gal show tank. I leave them in QT for at least 2 wks... normally 4+. I add animals carefully and slowly... until this week. I ordered 8 discus that weren't supposed to be shipped until after Thanksgiving... but there was a mix-up and they got here Tues. My QT is a 20 gal and I just moved some loaches, an angel, and a Farlowella into the main tank. I didn't put the discus into the QT because a week ago I lost an angel in it to fin rot and the dealer who sold me the discus said that it would be better to just put them into the main tank instead of risk picking something up from the QT. <Possibly the better route> My wife noticed a little fungus on one of the dorsal fin rays of one of the larger discus (about 2.5" sv) Wednesday and from what we'd read in the FAQs we left it alone. Thursday evening we noticed that the condition had worsened on the fin and moved to the sides as well...a white, cottony patch about the size of a lima bean on the side and another the size of a pinto on the dorsal fin. I have always had success treating fungus with Melafix, <...> so I dosed the tank per the directions (5ml/10 gal) as a preventative and did a separate dip for the affected fish of 1 drop QuickCure <Too toxic... malachite and formalin...> and .5 ml Melafix in 1 gal system water for 5 min. The fish was returned to the system and seamed much improved that night. This morning all of the discus are cowering in the corners and black as pitch. <Bad...> The treated fish doesn't show signs of the fungus, but instead has two streaks along his lateral line that looks kind of like hard water stains on glass. Another of the larger discus also has the same condition. Other discus are laying on their sides and generally acting miserable. I haven't tried to feed them yet, but they were taking flake and frozen bloodworm just fine since Tuesday. My water parameters are 0 nitrates (yes, I check everything I possibly can), 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, 0 ammonium, pH 7.6, <Better below 7.0> 3dKH, .5dGH (yes, that's 1/2dGH) 82 degrees F, though when I went to raise the temps to assist their immunity, I accidentally dropped it to 79. (turned the knob the wrong way!) <Arggghhh!> I've fixed the heater (300w Theo Hydor) so the temps are slowly on the rise, I also have a 250w MH lamp that will do the same... slowly. Conspecifics are 1 - 1" angel, <I would not mix angels and Symphysodon... reasons posted on WWM> 3 -2.5" reticulated loaches, 1 - 2.5" clown loach, 1 - 6" Farlowella sp., and 2 - Otocinclus. None of the other fish are showing any problems at all. I had to take back a 2.5" angel, 6 - lg. giant danios, 1 - 3" Severum, and 2 - 5" Plecos because of stress/aggression concerns. All but the lg. angel were removed from the system Monday. The lg angel was removed Tues. night due to bullying. I've got 40gal of water aerating to do a water change this afternoon... but I'm leaving town tomorrow morning for a week! That's one of the reasons I didn't want the fish shipped until then! What do I do!?!? Thank you. Branon. <I would not have bright light on these fish (turn off the MH), I would lower the pH (slowly), raise temperature as you're doing... and hope. The fish are stressed... from being transported, handled, dosed... no more of these "med.s", please. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Discus Help!! addendum (Disaster, II)  11/19/05
I forgot to tell you about the rest of the system... JIK. I have a 250 GPH return from a 200 gal rated wet dry filter. I have a Whisper 60 gal OTB power filter at the same end as the return. I have a 600gph closed loop to Under Gravel Jets for flow and to keep detritus off the substrate. I also have a Maxi-Jet 900 by the surface skimmer box to increase gas exchange and about a 12" wall of bubbles in the middle of the back for oxygenation/gas exchange/circulation...is there too much flow for them? <Should be fine> Is it too bright?...I have 250w 10000k MH on left side, 1 - 25w. 6500k CFL in middle, and 2 40w 6500k standard t-12 bulbs on the right. I have a good amount of plastic plants and 3 pieces of med. bogwood and some rock-work as well. For a 72x18x28" tall tank, that shouldn't be too much light, should it...I mean to add live plants soon...mostly under the MH....I think I'll kill the lights to give them a break....any other suggestions/questions to help with this? I really appreciate all the help you give. Branon Rochelle. <I would turn off the MH for now. Bob Fenner> 
Discus Disaster Follow-up (Disaster, III)  11/29/05
Hello, Sir,  Thanks for the advise. I am starting to doubt the efficacy of Melafix, though my LFS swears by it! I had gotten a hold of the breeder and he told me pretty much the same thing -- I could still shoot him for not waiting to ship these poor discus until after Thanksgiving as I had asked. He also told me not to worry about feeding for the week I'd be gone as the fish could easily go two weeks without eating... I'm starting to question my sanity for listening to that one.  Well, I raised the temps up to 86 (from the accidental plummet of 79) and treated the tank with 15 tsps of Canning Salt (I was told to use it instead of the normal 'aquarium salt' because it is the same pure NaCl, just more soluble.) mixed into the make up water of a 40gal water change for my 150gal discus tank. The fish seemed to be improving by the evening and I had to leave for the holidays praying that they would be alright...I don't know anyone in my area who could have looked out for them while we were gone for Thanksgiving week.  I spent the week in the joy of family and the fear of returning to find all my fish floating.  Well, we got back last night and found one 1" discus dead and have yet to find my 1.5" angel. However, all things considered I was grateful to have the other seven still alive. The disappointment is that ALL of them look like the living dead! They're black, gaunt, and many spending time on their sides on the bottom. Most have a white, fungus-like dusting over their entire body (included the eyes on some) and one or the larger fish (about 2") has about 8-10 ich-looking spots. We fed them some bloodworms last night, as well as this morning, and I think I saw everyone eat at least a little.  I had set up a drip system to take care of top-off while we were gone and apparently I didn't set it to drip enough as my sump half dried up. I'm not sure how long the water wasn't in contact with the bio-balls, but the pump was still OK and the bio-balls only looked a bit dry. I was afraid they might be reacting to an ammonia spike or some such, since the dead discus was plastered to the intake for my closed loop. I checked my water parameters and found that ammonia and nitrites were still zero, though my nitrates had jumped to about 25mg/l. I did a 25gal water change today and treated again with 7 tsps of salt. I must admit that I'm somewhat concerned as the fish seemed to be doing better before I left, but now seem like they're wasting away. Am I treating with enough salt/water? < Don't add any more salt.> Should I use copper for the ich-like spots? < The higher water temps should take care of the ich.> Should I do dips? <I would not do a dip until the water parameters are corrected.> Should I get another heater so I can raise my temps to 90F (currently running 1-- 250w and 1--300w)? < The heaters you have should be sufficient.> Should I just scrap it and let my wife say "I told you so!"? < No , not too late.> Lighting is reduced to about 60w 6500K for 10hr. There's plenty of hiding places. The pH is a bit high @ 7.6, but it matches the breeder's pH and is what they've been in all their lives (though I could drop it with some buffer). Hardness is .5 dGH and 5dKH. Temps are @ 85-86F.  I have a 650gph Under Gravel Jet closed loop, 260gph return from a 150gal rated wet/dry, and a 60gal rated Whisper 3 power filter.  I have GAC in the Whisper and in the sump that I changed out right before the trip.  My substrate is 1.5" peat, 1.5" gravel, 1.5-2" play sand (for NNR).  Top off (about 1gal/day) and water changes are done with treated tap water that's allowed to stand for 24hrs.  The remaining discus are 3-- 2-2.5" German Brilliant Turks, 2-- 1.5" Blue snakeskins, 1-- 1.5" Red snakeskin, and 1-- 1" 'Ceruleus' (sp?).  Conspecifics are 3-- 2" Reticulated loaches, 1-- 2" clown loach, 1-- 6" Farlowella sp., and 2 Otocinclus. Feedings are twice daily with frozen bloodworms and var. flake foods.  Oh, the craziest part is that the one fish I treated with the 5 min. dip with Quick-Cure and Melafix (yes, you told me later that Malachite Green is too toxic) is actually the one doing the best...not that that is saying much, but at least he's showing some color and spreading his fins much more than anyone else...go figure! Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Branon. < Get rid of the blood worms. Treat the tank with a combination of Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole. Do a 30% water change while vacuuming the gravel. The peat is suppose to acidify the water but it is not happening. These organics will interfere with the medications. Softer water will help with the medications. Try changing 1/3 of the water with distilled or R/O water. After the fish are better you can add carbon to remove the rest of the medications and then add BioSpira by Marineland to get the bacteria up and going again.-Chuck>
Discus Disaster IV  11/29/05
Well, for better or for worse none of the remaining 7 discus died during the night, though at least one looks like he may not survive the day. From doing a bit more research...and from being at my wit's end, I've decided that I must have over-medicated these poor discus and that my best option is to do a 60gal. water change, try and raise the temps, and just pray some more...I hope this is what's best. Oh, and the Nitrates are actually somewhere between 12.5 and 25 mg/l...I just chose the higher value because I didn't want to err on the low side. I wish I'd had a large enough QT and that the breeder had waited to ship...but if wishes were fishes....Branon. < The fish have been sick for awhile and may respond to a little TLC with time. Write down all that you have done so that you can refer back to it next time you have a problem and will know what to do.-Chuck>
Discus Disaster V 11/29/05
Chuck, Thanks for the help! I have a few questions about the response. First, you recommended Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole. I understand that Nitrofurazone can be found in Furacyn by Aquatronics, but everything I can find with Metronidazole has a bunch of other meds in it, like Paragon II has Metronidazole, Furazolidone, neomycin sulfate, Naladixic acid, sodium chloride as the active ingredients...is this OK? < Go to http://www.drsfostersmith.com to get the pure stuff.> Is there something else out there you'd recommend? < No, these two are best.> Also, if the temps should take care of the Ich...what am I medicating for? < The Metronidazole will take care of any interior bacterial infections and the Nitrofurazone will take care of any exterior bacterial and fungal infections. The heat should take care of the ich. Now you have everything covered.> I'm doing that water change (60gal) and am thinking about trying to raise the temps up to the 87-90 level and transferring the non-discus critters to a holding tank. What do you recommend? Branon. < Leave the temp alone. Remove any fish that are becoming too stressed from the treatment.-Chuck>
Discus Disaster VI - 11/30/05
Chuck, this is getting out of hand... I just did a head count and I'm down to 5 discus. After much searching I found the cadaver of one little fellow, but the other is MIA. Is it possible that, even with the plentiful supply of food the discus don't eat and algae, the Farlowella, loaches, or even Otocinclus could be a factor? I never did find the carcass of the angel I lost while out of town for Thanksgiving. I think I'm just not meant to keep these poor fish...though I don't understand why I would have such a hard time now when I've kept them before without problems...I just don't get it. Branon. <Your discus are dropping off one by one. Make the suggested changes and medicate. The algae eaters will eat the bodies but normally don't attack healthy fish.-Chuck> 
Discus Disaster VII  11/30/05
Chuck, I got a hold of some SeaChem Metronidazole. I haven't been able to find the Nitrofurazone, and am kind of leery about dosing both at the same time. The store I got it from recommended garlic (to make the meds more palatable) and vitamins, so I started dosing last night with 1 drop of vitamin, about 10 drops garlic, and 1 scoop (bottle says about 100mg) per feeding (2x daily). I also dosed the tank per the instructions (the directions said 1-2 scoops per 10 gal, so I used 1 rounded scoop per 10 gal). < These things are helpful but do not cure things.> The feeding has been slowly declining and that has me worried. They don't even look at the flake, I've seen a few of them eat the bloodworms, and I don't know what else to try. < If you refer to an earlier reply I think I recommended that you do NOT feed bloodworms.> The loaches are getting pretty darn fat from all the stuff the discus aren't eating, though. My temps are at 87-88, Ammonia and Nitrite at 0 and Nitrates at closer to 12.5 mg/l (even after a 60+gal water change...though my NO3 kit is kind of old). They aren't on the floor as much anymore, though they still look like death warmed over. If I understand correctly, I should do a 25% water change every 2 days and re-dose the tank afterwards <Treat the tank with Metronidazole on day one, three and five. Do a 50% water change on the 2nd,4th and 6th day.> The only thing I can think of is dropping my pH with a buffer, say to 7.0. Do you think that would help? Is there any reason not to do this? Any other suggestions? Thanks. Branon. < When you do the water change I would drop the pH of the new water with the buffer to 7 or slightly below before putting it in the new tank.-Chuck> 
Discus Making A Comeback, Yay!  (Disaster, Part VIII) - 12/04/05
Chuck, Bob, and other fishy friends. I have to say that this has been an experience. I am down to 4 out the 8 fish. I have moved them to a 20gal bare bottom QT with all sides covered, doing 60% daily water changes, treating every other day with Metronidazole and feeding flake treated with metro-, garlic, and vitamins. One of the fish, the largest of the group, has come around wonderfully, fins extended and has been eating with gusto for the last 2 days.  However, he's also been terribly mean to the other 3, actually picking our last mortality to death and fiercely pestering the most weak of the remaining zombies. He's been so much improved, and bothersome to his tankmates, that I moved him back to the display tank (I don't have a 2nd QT) last night. This morning he was begging for food but then retreated when I came to feed him and did not touch any of the food...as far as I could tell. He has also darkened up a bit. All of the water parameters are identical. I did a 50% water change on the system 4 days ago and another yesterday. Temps are 87-88. I have included a picture of the display system in case I need more cover or...? Any suggestions? Branon < It sounds like you are on the right track if one of the fish recovered. Discus are usually found in schools, when the others recover and they are all together then the new pecking order will be straightened out.-Chuck> 
Discus Being Chased  (Disaster, Part IX) 12/04/05
I noticed today that the reticulated loaches seemed to chase and pester the lone discus in the 150gal system. Is it possible that they are the complication? < Aggression ads to the stress your discus are going through. It would be best for the discus if they were not being chased around.> I noticed the discus feeding on some flake that had fallen from the water's surface. While eating and about, his fins are open and he seems well, but when not he is dark and acts like he's hiding. Any suggestions? Branon. < Hopefully his fins will stay open more and more as he gets re-accustomed to the tank.-Chuck> 
Discus Recovery  (Disaster, Part X) 12/5/05
Chuck, the discus that was returned to the main system is doing quite well. His appetite is unbelievable! His fins are staying open and he's cruising around the system. The loaches still play 'tag' with him a couple times a day, but today we saw him chase them away from some food twice. The substrate is 1.5" sand on top of 1.5" gravel on top of 2" peat. The other discus aren't showing much improvement at all. Branon < The fact that one has recovered means that the medications and treatment are working. Now it is just a matter of if the rest of them are strong enough to fight back.-Chuck> 
Discus Again  (Disaster, Part XI) 12/5/05
I did a water change for the zombie trio and they're just looking worse and worse. I then remembered something that I did differently for the one thriver from all the rest. I did a dip for him in QuICK Cure and Melafix...so I thought I'd give it a shot, since they're just going further and further down hill. The fins on all three are shredded almost down to the body. Two could hardly right themselves and were very slow to do so. They hover at the water surface like they're trying to gasp for breath (a problem with gill function?). < Just stress.> They're extremely thin. They look similar to the others I've noticed before dying, though they aren't laying on the floor as the others did...yet. The other is also painfully thin, though he swims better than the other two. His fins aren't quite as eroded as the others, but not much behind them. I'm seriously considering just stopping the Metronidazole as they don't seem to be showing any outward signs of fungal/parasitic infections and just letting the higher temps work or fail. Today I also treated their tank with a vitamin drop at half strength...hoping it might at least help them in case they'll start eating? Any other suggestions? < Discontinue the treatment and lower the water temps to 78 F. Your fish are in no shape for any further treatment. Add carbon to the water to remove any medication. Do a 30% water change with clean treated tap water and clean the filter. I really don't like the peat decomposing under the gravel. Without oxygen it is probably rotting and contributing to the problem. I would remove it with a gravel vacuum. This will remove the organics while leaving the gravel behind.> None are feeding, even when food is placed almost literally in their mouth...I haven't been able to find the blackworms you suggested...someone suggested adult brine shrimp? < Adult brine shrimp are not very nutritious, worms are better.> ...is there a way of force feeding a fish? < No not really.> I've had them on high temps (87-90) for over a week now, so should I consider dropping the temps to around 84-85 to slow the metabolism? < Yes.> Should I try a little salt to help the slime coat? Stress Coat? Anything else? Thanks. <Just treat the water with a quality water conditioner.> Oh, the breeder I got them from is going to send another batch (I just pay shipping) and we're going to start them in a QT w/ sponge filter and make sure they're adapted to the water and then slowly adapt them to the main system when we're sure they're doing well. (He also recommended just freezing those not doing well since they've been doing so poorly for so long, though I'm of the opinion that the maker and nature should be given the chance to take care of life and death). My wife was somewhat reconciled by this, though she wasn't too happy about the possibility of going through this again...it's been a bit tough on me to watch animals wasting away. Anyway, thanks again. Branon. < Tell the breeder about the conditions of your tank and get his recommendations.-Chuck> 
Change the Substrate for Peat Sake (Disaster, Part XII) 12/5/05
I'm inclined to agree. I was a bit concerned about what you asked about the "white 'stuff' on the bottom of the tank" being the "peat fungused...(is that a word?)...up and decomposing." I double checked the substrate and the only white thing I can see is the white sand on top of the gravel on top of the peat...but is there a large risk in the peat? The peat was purchased at a garden center and I checked with the company that no chemicals/fertilizers are used in the peat--just straight peat.   I've noticed quite a few air pockets (QUITE a few) in the peat and was somewhat worried that these might pose a problem down the road, as I don't know of any kind of "sand sifter" like the worms in my reef tank. Could these become unhealthy? Are they trapped O or something noxious or are they just converted Nitrogen?  I've noticed the same in my sand as well. The tank doesn't have an unpleasant odor or any other indicator of "unhealthy" gasses or water conditions that I can't test for with my test kits. I don't know if I will ever do the peat in the substrate, though it was wizard for my plants...and I think I'll get some in there soon, too.  What would grow well in a 28" deep tank w/ 250w 10000K MH lighting and (2) 40w 6500K fluorescents...and a sand/gravel/peat substrate? I'm going to replace the 10000K with a 6500K, but that won't be for another 10 months or so. I want a bright side of the tank and a darker side so that nervous fish have a refuge and the bright for plants and for viewing pleasure. The discus has even started venturing into the brighter part of the tank which has been a real treat. I'm also planning on doing a cloud of cardinals (20+) and that should look nice. Anyway, Thanks again for all the help. Branon. < I would recommend laterite or fluorite as a substrate for an aquarium with both plants and fish and skip the peat moss.-Chuck> 
Discus Dying Still  (Disaster, Part XIII)
Chuck, et. al., we lost another of the non-thrivers this morning, so we're down to the thriver in the system and two remaining zombies in the QT. The temps in the QT are slowly being reduced (84.8 F and dropping) and I'm still on the look-out for black worms. I don't think I'm going to attempt to remove the peat anytime this year...maybe after New Years :-) It is buried under the sand and gravel, so will most likely mean removing all the animals, the whole substrate (about 100 lbs of sand, 100 lbs of gravel, and a muck-load of peat), rinsing the gravel and then putting it all back together again, sans peat moss...not a fun thought. I have a question about my setup also.  I have a 1.5" drain from my surface skimmer down into my W/D sump. Do you think this will be enough to increase my pump return to 600gph? 1000gph? I have another surface skimmer that has two 1.5" drains, but it is currently on my 55gal reef and I'd rather not have to clean and trade them, along with the system down time it would create. If that's what it takes, though, so be it. That would then be another task for next year. Why is it we start piling it on before the New Year even gets here? ....sigh.... Branon. <You an increase it to the flow and see if will take it. Don't do it unless you are going to be around for awhile to watch it.-Chuck>


Help from The Los Angeles Zoo board member  11/17/05 Hi Bob, <Richard> As you can see I am seeking guidance on the topic mentioned here below.  I tried sending the message to Dionigi based on an article I read in The Krib, but Erik replied he does not know his where about. I then thought that maybe you know someone to refer me to entertain consulting regarding these matters. Awaiting your guidance, truly yours, Dr. Richard Sneider <My comments below. RMF>
Huge community tank Dear Dionigi, I am on the board of The Los Angeles Zoo. We are contemplating doing a very large freshwater tropical fish exhibit containing many conspecific and community tanks, many of which will be planted, and ranging from a couple hundred gallons, to several thousands. I have extensive knowledge in various fresh water species, including many predatory fish, but limited community tank experience. As a preamble to such exhibit I am personally building a 1,500 gallon planted tank under the consulting of staff from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. While the tank is being built I started housing a 200 gallon community tank containing several species: discus, Altums, other angels, <I would not keep Symphysodon and Pterophyllum species together... some evidence of parasitic host reservoir action twixt and behaviorally incompatible> rummys, harlequins, Corys, cardinal tetras, and so forth. This tank is bare bottom, with 5 large canister filter and UV sterilizer. The tank has been running in great condition, with all the fish thriving in great activity, color and health, until recently, when my largest discus started folding fins, and thrusting itself against the equipment in an effort to scratch itself. In addition my large Altums starting folding fins and get reclusive. I resorted to the use of Quick Cure (Formalin=Malachite), but on no early sign of recovery, moved after two days to Clout (broad spectrum shot gun bomb). It has been two days since the use of Clout, and still no visible signs of improvement.  <Mmm, likely an internal protozoan. The vast majority of "standard cures" here have involved Metronidazole/Flagyl (see Noga re). Many folks speculate Octomita/Hexamita... as causative agent here.> I have now become very concern on setting a large community planted tank, and fear that an epidemic like this cannot be controlled and eliminated, and as such, embark not only on a devastating personal 1,500 gallon experiment, but embark the Zoo on a collection of them!  <Mmm, I would definitely quarantine, treat all incoming fishes per the above, a month or more in advance of introduction. Your system is now infested (much more expensive, difficult to treat), and you don't want to keep re-exposing your livestock to the Flagyl> Are you familiar with Clout as a remedy? Is there anything that can be done to assuage my newly acquired fears and hope of successfully keep large community planted tanks? <Am familiar, and would just use the Metronidazole> Upon reading your great article on fish health diagnosis and remedies I also became concern with the high maintenance lengthy periods needed for successful quarantine, but now, more than ever, realize that these are necessary to prevent disasters.  <An emphatic YES!> <<I thought a quarantine period of 30 days disease-free was standard protocol for ALL public zoos/aquaria, is standard for all but the most delicate specimens acquired for the LBAOP.  Might want to contact them re: their quarantine procedures, best I've witnessed.  Marina>> If we have a few quarantine containment established tanks, are daily water changes necessary? <Checking of water quality, regular (weekly) changes likely sufficient> I would imagine, since some of the suggested prophylactic treatments would likely destroy the bio systems for the nitrifying bacteria...  <Possibly> I would sincerely appreciate your guidance in the issues above mentioned. Awaiting your response, truly yours, Dr. Richard Sneider <Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Help from The Los Angeles Zoo board member  11/18/05
Hi Bob, <Rich> Sincere thanks for your guidance. With all the distress signs in the tank, such as loss of coloration and motor skill complications, along with some blood lines in the angel's fins, I think I have a combination of a toxicity and a  parasitical/bacterial infestation that is still lingering. <No fun...> After two days of Quick Cure (Formalin=Malachite), and three days of Clout, I don't seem to see much improvement, but know that some of the potential improvement may be masked by toxicity manifestations. <These are (as you well no doubt know) quite toxic medicants...> My thinking is:  A) do a 50% water change, and filter with carbon, and replace by metro...as suggested, or <... Would... but limit the water changes to 25% daily...> B) do the water change and raise the temp to 88 dgf and commence a salt treatment... <Sounds good... but what re plants?> C) In addition I can inject my largest discus (worse sufferer) with Flagyl and Levaquin (have done this in the past with black Serrasalmus and discus and has worked well). <Thank you for this information> D) add another day of Clout and then water change Please note that as of yesterday, since I run 5 large canister filters with lots of media, my ammo was still 0, and had not raised the nitrate/nitrite much.. <Good> Which of the above choices would you do? <A, with no more than quarter water change outs in a 24 h period, B, with as much salt is tolerable, C, with care on the larger, more valuable fishes, not D> Thank you again for tour time and guidance! Sincerely, Dr. Richard Sneider <Glad to offer my input/ideas. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Help from The Los Angeles Zoo board member  11/18/05
Thanks, Clarification: Either A or B right, <Mmmm, A and B... but no more than 25% of water volume changed out in a day, elevated temperature is fine (just reduce slowly later), you'll want to leave the activated carbon out while medicating... the salt... oh, I see this below> and if so, which? Or both? How much salt? No plants in this tank, bare bottom... Thanks! <I would add a level teaspoon of "aquarium" or synthetic marine salt per twenty gallons of system water a day, for three consecutive days... Cutting back if the fishes appear mal-affected. Bob Fenner> 


Dying Discus 10/31/05 Please help me, I have a: * 125 Gallon tank- glass  * 1 -Rena XP3 Canister Filter  * 1 -48" Coralife Double Bulb Compact Fluorescent Light  * 1- 24" All-Glass Double Bulb fluorescent Light  * 100-150 Assorted Live Plants  * 2- Large Pieces of Driftwood  * 3-4" of a Mix of Fluorite and Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate  * 2- 300 Watt Via Aqua Steel Thermometers  * 4- Small/Medium Discus- about 3-4"  * 3- Lemon Tetras  * 13- Cardinal Tetras  * 6- "Golden Wonder" Killies- about 2"  * 20- Grass Shrimp  * 50 Small Snails- I tried to keep them out of the tank!  * 2-Large Common Plecos- 6"  <Yikes! Marauders!> * 1- Small Common Pleco  * 2-Clown Plecos  * 6- Assorted Small Corydoras Cats (Julii, Emerald, Panda)  * 6- Dwarf African Frogs  * 12- "Oto" Cats  * pH- 7  * Nitrate- 20ppm  * Nitrite- 0ppm  * Ammonia- 0ppm  * 30% Water Change every Saturday I originally had 6 discus, 20 cardinal tetras, and 6 lemon tetras. Last week I bought 20 tetras, some Oto cats, and some brine shrimp to feed to the  fish. (I know, I should have quarantined, but I didn't have another tank...) <You'll learn... are learning> So a few days later, I discovered to my horror a discus was dead, as well as 4 cardinal tetras. Then the day after that, another discus and 3 more tetras died, so I began feeding them tetra medicated food. Then today I discovered the cardinals all had ich. <Bonus!> The temperature of the tank is 82 degrees. Should I raise this? <I would, along with increasing/adding aeration, circulation... and filtration> What can I do to save my discus? <See the previous sentence> I really don't want to lose anymore fish. Please help! Anthony <Get/use a separate quarantine system... and add redundant aeration/circulation/filtration... very likely your root problems here are introduced disease and insufficient A/C/F... Bob Fenner> 


My Discus ... in trouble 10/2/05 Hi, I have a Juwel vision 180 tank with 5 discus in. I have a proven breeding pair of discus and 1 proved other female. The discus I have are 1 turquoise discus, 2 royal red discus, 1 Asian yellow discus and 1 orange discus (I don't know the name). what I wanted to ask you was my 2 royal red discus and my turquoise discus are black all of the time just lately but my other two discus are fine. What should I do?? <The dark coloration is a bad (warning) sign... that something is not right... water quality or social wise most especially... I'd be reading re these issues, correcting (making water soft, acidic, warm, low organics... providing plenty of space)... soon. Bob Fenner> Yours Sincerely Chris Griffiths


Discus Caught in a Web  9/23/05 Hi. I have recently acquired a pair of red Marlboro Discus. One of them is having a spiders' web like thing attached to its skin at the upper side of one of its gills. It is also distinct that it is facing difficulty in breathing. Please help me urgently. I would appreciate if you can email me. Thanks & regards M. Misbah < Difficult to figure out. If it is a worm like extension then it could be treated with Fluke-tabs or Clout. These would also treat the fish for gill flukes that would account for the fish's rapid breathing. If it is a mucus secreted by the discus to fight off a bacterial infection then it could be real trouble. First do a 30% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. These hybrid discus come down with all kinds of strange diseases that continue to baffle some of the worlds greatest discus experts. If possible slowly lower the pH while changing the water. Use distilled water in a 5 gallon bucket and use a buffer to bring the pH down to 6.5. Acidic water tends to inhibit bacterial growth. Make sure the water temp is at least 80 to 82 F. Increase the aeration because water has a low oxygen carrying capacity at higher temps. Now that the tanks conditions have been optimized we can try and treat the problem. Hopefully in a hospital tank I would recommend a heavy duty antibiotic like Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>


Ich and Popeye in Discus  9/19.5/05 Hello, You have a very informative website. I bought a pair of 2 inch discus last Saturday. Since I bought them they show signs of stress. Their bodies are very dark. They have tiny whites specks on them. Their eyes are bulging out.  Their bodies look dry. They just stay in one corner. My current setup is a 60 gallon aquarium. Tankmates are Pleco, rosy barb, 2 clown loaches, Mystus catfish, and dwarf gourami. Tank is fully cycled with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites and 20 ppm nitrates. Current temp is 78 degrees. Under LFS advise, I raised the temp to 80, added salt and added Melafix to the tank. I was wondering if I'm on the right track in trying to save my discus and if you have any other suggestions. Thanks, Ed <Don here, back from a few months hiatus while job seeking. The "tiny white spots" and "bulging eyes" are a problem. The spots sound like Ich, the bulging eyes is Popeye. Discus require warm, (82 to 86) clean, fresh water to thrive. That means lots of water changes. Many Discus keepers will change 50% of the water every two or three days. Although your water conditions seem good, (0, 0, 20) you may want to check the pH and hardness. Popeye is almost always a sign that something is amiss with your water. You want soft water with a pH below 7.0. If your source water is hard with a high pH I see a RO unit in your future. Adding one tablespoon of Epsom salt per five gallons of water will help reduce the swelling. The Ich is a tiny parasite and is best cured with regular aquarium salt, IMO. But that may be a problem for the Loaches. I suggest you read the link I'll provide below. Please take note of the life cycle of Ich and continue any treatment for at least three weeks after the last spot drops. Treatment is best done in a plain QT tank while the you let the main tank run fishless for a few weeks. Without a fish host the parasite will starve out. Raising the temp in the main even higher, say to 88 to 90, will speed up the life cycle and ensure the Ich dies. The only equipment you will need for the QT is an airstone. Control your water quality with daily water changes, replacing the meds or salt with each. Then QT EVERYTHING before adding to the main to stop any reintroduction. The Melafix is useless in this (and most, IMO) situation.   http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32


Discus In Distress - 09/01/2005 Hi Kindly help 40 gallon tank with 4 tiger barbs 4 angles and 2 discus. <Too many large cichlids for this tank; also, tiger barbs are notoriously aggressive fin-nippers, I would fear for the fins of the angels and discus.> PH test normal .temp 28°C <Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate?  Be testing for these as well, maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, and nitrate below 20ppm.> When a new cobalt blue discus was added it has changed its colour to black, fins clamped, body has sunk in size, eating very low, and breathing very heavy.   <Quite possibly Hexamita, treatable with Metronidazole in food.  Please note that this can easily spread to your other discus and your angels.  Consider using a quarantine tank for new fish in the future.> Regards,  Saji <Wishing you and your discus well,  -Sabrina>


Sick Discus 8/18/05 Hey Guys... <Hi Courtney> I need help:(  <I'll certainly try...> I have had a turquoise for about 3 weeks now and just got 2 more a week and a half ago.  I have 3 plants in my aquarium and keep my water temp. around 82 degrees.  <I would raise this for discus to 85-90, slowly over a period of several days.> Last night my discus began swimming frantically around the tank, running into EVERYTHING!!!  <Extreme stress response I'll bet.> It seemed as though he was blind.  <Are your lights extremely bright?> Today he his very lethargic and just lets the current in the tank take him around and he is often on his side, still running into things.  He is also very dark.  <Very dark = very stressed.> One of my new discus just started also running into things, acts as if it is blind as well, but is very still active and good color.  <Discus have a tendency to bolt wildly when stressed, especially when they are young.> My Nitrate level is 0-10, Nitrite level is 0, KH is180, and pH is between 7.8 and 8.2.  I bought some pH down and put the recommended dose in to bring the level down.  <pH down is not an effective solution in the long run.  Your pH will never stay down with your kH that high (kH is a measure of the water's capacity to buffer, or keep pH stable).  Best solution IME is to use a chunk of peat (the kind meant for aquariums) in your filter and remove your activated carbon.  This will soften the water, plus release tannins which will make the discus feel more at home by staining the water a light tea colour.  If you don't like the darkened water (it's really not unpleasant), just put a new activated carbon in your filter to remove the tannins.> These are such beautiful (and might I say expensive) fish and do not want to lose them.  <Understandably...they are beautiful creatures.> I have 3 zebra danios, 3 angel fish, a red flame gourami, Plecostomus, and about 5 apple snails in the tank with them.  <Your plants will be snail food, probably sooner rather than later.> I have a 30 gal. tank.  <Will need to upgrade to 50 gallon + within a year or two.> My other discus is a blue diamond.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!! <Try peat in the filter.  I have found it to be the key to happy and bold discus.  Also, you should consider mixing in some RO/DI water when you do your water changes (about 3-5 gallons 2-3 times per week should do it though some like to change a little daily for discus).  This will help drop your pH slowly without shocking the fish.  Good luck!> Thanks so much, <No problem, thank you.> Courtney <--Glenn>


Discus in a New Tank Greetings.. I have a 75 gallon Freshwater tank with 4 Discus and a one 4 inch Sliver Arowana. The tank has been running 3 months. 1st Issue - 3 of my Discus have recently developed white film over eyes. What is this and how do I fix? < Erythromycin. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean all your filters. Treat for the problem as per the directions on the package. After treatment then run carbon to remove any excess medication. When the medication is clear then add Bio-Spira from Marineland to reestablish the good bacteria needed to break down the fish waste.> 2nd Issue - I purchased a H.O.T magnum filter and placed Eheim Subtrat for biological filtration but particles from the media quickly filled the tank making it cloudy. I washed the media thoroughly (Well I thought I did). Was this a good idea, and how do I fix for best efficiency? <Eheim has lots of different media and usually run at a much slower flow rate than the magnum. When I was filter media or gravel I usually get a sieve from a local dollar store and run my media through it until it runs clear. As long as you have the foam sleeve on the outside almost anything will work on the inside.> #3rd Issue - I am currently running a Emperor 400 Power filter & Fluval Canister 304. Is this sufficient & how often should I clean the Fluval (I have not cleaned as yet - 3 Months). Thank you for your assistance with these matters. From 3 Month Old Fish Owner =). < I would still clean them every other week. On the even numbered weeks, like the second and forth, I would clean the Emperor. On the odd numbered weeks I would clean the Fluval. By leaving a dirty filter you will be building up nitrates which may have contributed to your discus problem. With discus the lower the better.-Chuck> 


Sick Discus Hi, I need your help, my discus seem to be sick and I'm not sure what's happening.  They are feeding but they colour seems to be a bit not normal, some of them are dark but not black, the smaller ones are slightly black. I have continually tested the water and my nitrites and nitrates are zero, same with the ammonia, they are in a hospital tank which I set up separately for them it is well mature and has adequate filtration and there are no plants in this tank.  As well as the discus being of colour they seem to hang on the bottom of the tank my temperature is 27C, so not sure if its that? My local pet shop thinks it might be discus plague? These symptoms didn't develop rapidly, and the stuff I've read gives very conflicting ways of handling it? Any assistance would be appreciated as I'm at my wits end. < You said your fish seem sick. Being dark means they are not happy but it may not mean that they are sick. Good thing that they are in a quarantine tank. I would raise the water temp to 30C. Increase the aeration, water doesn't carry much oxygen at that temp. Keep up with the water changes. Some discus guys do as much as 50% per day. Discus do like acidic water. If your water is hard and alkaline then I would cut it with 50% R/O or distilled water. If your discus are wild then this should straighten them out. If your discus are imported from Asia then they should be more resistant to the harder water but may be more prone to come down with other diseases. Jet black coloration on the surface of the fish usually indicates a bacterial infection.  The proper way to diagnose this is to have a culture taken from the fish and propagate the organism in a Petri dish. Then a series of different antibiotics are tested against the organism to see which ones are effective. Not many aquarists are able to do this so we "guess" at the problem and treat it with an antibiotic and hope it works. Sometimes an antibiotic may work one time and not another because the disease organism has mutated. If you think that really is a problem then I would treat the tank with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the packages. You should see some improvement in a couple of days if we "guessed" right.-Chuck> 
Sick Discus II
Hi, Thanks so much for the reply. I have three urgent follow up questions.  First, I wanted to confirm that you believe by my description that my discus has "Dropsy" is that correct? < No. Metronidazole works on anaerobic bacteria. It may have an internal bacterial infection. Not all internal infections result in dropsy. You don't see any external signs of disease so I would assume that there may be an internal problem.> Second, I could not start this treatment due to an International business trip that I had scheduled. My discus is still alive and acting the same. I am concerned that he/she has had this affliction for some 3-4 weeks. Is it too late to begin this treatment? < You can soften the water and raise the water temp as I suggested earlier. This alone may help. Medicating fish requires lots of water changes to be successful. Unless there is someone around to change the water then I would have the medication on hand and put WWM on your favorite list for person you have asked to care for your fish while you are away.> Third, can this treatment be done in a quarantine tank or do you believe the entire tank needs to be treated? Mark <A quarantine tank would be best. These medications sometimes affect the good bacteria that are required to break down the fish waste. After treatment you might have to recycle you tank all over again.-Chuck>


Fish with Worms Hi Chuck! I have been following your advice and treated the tank with Fluke-Tabs. No new sick fish so far but a bit too early to say if it really worked. One thing though: it didn't prevent the fishes that already showed symptoms of infection to die. -Is this normal? <If sick fish are treated too late then a combination of illness and medication will kill them sooner than the parasite alone. Either way they would of died.> They Can this medication save fishes already sick? < The key is early detection. If the disease is treated early enough then it can cure fish without killing them.> -I discovered another (expensive) medication called PIPERAZINE CITRATE. Would it be even more effective than Mebendazole and Trichlorfon (Fluke-Tabs)? <Depending on the parasite one may be more effective than the other.> I think I will treat the tank again in a month even if there is no sign of the parasite. I want to be sure it's gone before I introduce the 5 discus I plan to buy. And at least I will be prepared for the next attack. Dominique <Good luck with those new discus.-Chuck>


Discus with Dropsy Hello, I only recently discovered your website and have been avidly reading many articles on both fresh and saltwater topics. Coincidentally I have a sick  Pigeonblood Discus that I fear I will lose shortly. I have a very mature 45 gallon tank (10 years plus) using RO water. I currently have 4 discus, 2 clown loaches and a Gold Nugget Pleco that have been friends for years. I feed them bloodworms every other day and on alternate days feed flake and Cichlid Stable by Hikari. I noticed a white sting coming from the Pigeonblood about 1" long. It broke off but he/she continued expelling this the next day or so.  I was told this was likely a parasite and to treat with Metro + (although the container says it treats Hole in head and lateral line). I decided to soak the Cichlid staple in water that had dissolved Metro+ in it. All the fish readily ate this each day for three days. White stuff cleared up for about a week when it returned, this time worse. Once the Discus bulged up and later I found a large mass of white mucus on the gravel and the bulge was gone.   The discus stopped eating and became recluse. I set up a hospital tank and applied the Metro+ as a bath according to the instructions for 4 days. I offered bloodworms each day which were ignored. I removed the uneaten worms each  afternoon. I now put him back in the tank with his friends hoping he would begin eating but he has returned to the corner and is looking droopy and listless. Any ideas? < In the wild discus eat very small invertebrates and algae. I think your problem comes from the bloodworms. I would discontinue the use of the bloodworms. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. Treat on day one as prescribed and ad some rid-ich to the tank too. On the second day do a 50% water change. On the third day apply the medication as you did on day one. Repeat this cycle for a total of three treatments. Stay off the blood worms and try to get them on to brine shrimp and then over to spectrum discus pellets.-Chuck> 


Discus Hey, I have several discus and one of them is showing a sort of pimple along the lateral line right before the tail. The fish seems to be eating fine and swims along without a problem but the pimple is there with a white top on it. Should I move the fish to a temp tank? What would you recommend for treatment?  DK < I would do a 30% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Watch the pimple carefully because it may be the first signs of hole in the head disease. If it gets worse I would isolate the fish and treat with Metronidazole. The key with discus is clean water with lots of water changes.-Chuck>


Fish poisoned with algicide/clarifying agent Hi there. I used a product called Accu-clear in my tank, which was going green with an algae bloom. It had 2 of my breeding discus in it. Both discus instantly got sick and one to the point where it was lying on the bottom of the tank and gasping for air. Can you help me and give me some information on what I can do to help this fish? <Change the water IMMEDIATELY... as much as you have good water (about the same chemistry, temperature) on hand. Increase aeration... Bob Fenner>


Strange White Protrusion! Greetings Bob, Anthony et al! One specimen of my shoal of six Cobalt Red Discus has a 1 mm diameter X 3 mm in length smooth white protrusion poking out of his left side right out of the upper lateral line. About mid way down his side. No "eyes" visible on this strange growth. I observe my fish VERY closely. First noticed it three days ago as a small white dot. It looked as though he might have lost a scale. (They do nip at each other when feeding) Now over the past 72 hours it is definitely growing in length; though not in diameter. It is smooth, white to a slightly cream color. No swelling or soreness around the exit where this "thing" emerges. This shoal has been together since birth. Six months old and about 4" in diameter. No new fish have been introduced. His activity and feeding is normal; voraciously eating my beef heart recipe out of my hand as usual. I can touch these fish and this growth seems firm but flexible. Sure seems like some critter to me! Nothing fuzzy about it! Seemingly healthy pot planted 65 gallon, pH 6.7, TDS 85, temp 84 (though I'm starting to go up gradually) Eheim 2128 thermofilter, Emperor 280, Ebo Jager 200w, Aqua 25 watt UV on the Eheim return, Milwaukee controller CO2 injected and very stable, 36" air curtain with Luft pump. What might this thing be and how can I remove/exterminate it? Thanks! Charlie DeLorme <very fine set up and stock. Possible sources of import for a "critter" would be live plants and I've foods, naturally. If the fish can be caught without too much trouble... a simple swab of the area with Merthiolate/iodine should take care of it easily. Cover the fish completely out of water with a towel that has been wet with aquarium water. A fish with its eyes covered with not move much or at all... plenty of time to work... no hurry, they can be out for minutes and you only need a good 10-20 seconds. Drain the tank into a barrel before catching fish safely in shallow water and then use a powerhead to pump water back in easily. A fast sure way to catch fish in a full tank with little harm. Anthony>
HELP! Strange Protuberance Part II
<Anthony Calfo with the follow up... I noticed the title of your query in the mailbox and thought perhaps you saw a picture of Bob in a Speedo> Forgot to mention I do two weekly 25% water changes. Carefully matched in temp and H2O parameters. I thoroughly vacuum the bottom. Water is crystal clear. Not overfeeding. No excessive algae. Plants are growing and healthy. Just small algal growth on driftwood upon which the Discus actually pick. I do have 1/4" maximum of gravel (doesn't totally cover the bottom but makes the smooth rock pots blend in a little better) This critter or whatever it is really makes me nervous! I hand selected these fish from Bing Seto in Alameda, California. Don't want to lose any! They're so friendly and cheerful! Not to mention beautiful! Charlie <can you send a digital picture (downsized and no zip please) for clarification. Kindly, Anthony>


White worms crawling on the glass of my aquarium I have a 90 gal. tank with four discus in it which is also planted. I have noticed what appears to be small white worms crawling on the glass and swimming freely, can you tell me what they are? <Not specifically... as in down to species. But I assure you, these are likely some sort of innocuous earthworm-like animal (oligochaete annelid) and not harmful to your fish or system. These sorts of critters "pop-up" quite often, particularly in aquariums that have excess food, too little circulation/filtration... and very often "disappear" of their own accord. Do keep your eye on water quality and in time you will likely find they have gone. Bob Fenner>


Royal Blue Discus, FW Algae Control, Seastars, Aiptasia Control... I just discovered your web site yesterday and have spent more time on it than I care to admit.  I am truly impressed, great web site. keep up the good work.  I wish tools like this were available in 1965 when I first started (whoops, did I just give away my age?). <It'll be our little secret.> I have two royal blue discus in a 60 gallon setup (about a year old and adult size), PH - 6.4, temp - 85 degrees, with weekly water changes using only distilled water.  Usually no problems and everything is great, but whenever they get stressed (like when the Santa Ana winds start blowing the house down) they get small white patches along their lateral line (larger and thicker than ich) and throughout their body.  If I use Hex-A-Mit they go away within a couple of days and everything is back to normal.  Does this sound parasitic or fungal (I assume it isn't the beginning of hole-in-the-head because they disappear too fast)? <Does not sound like HLLE, most likely stress related.  Using un buffered distilled water can cause unstable water conditions.  if the hardness of this tank is below 40ppm and the pH is below 6.7)... then these discus could easily be suffering from acidosis (too low pH, too fast).> Also, any way to control the algae?  The aquarium is planted  (using two 40 watt Trichromatics on 12 hours a day) and the older leaves on the Echinodorus get algae on them.  I tried mystery snails, but they just keep eating up the leaves on my lotus and Aponogetons. <A bunch of ways, mainly nutrient control. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm > One last question.  Are there any safe sea stars for a reef tank?  Is there any way to kill those little annoying anemones?  I purchased a peppermint shrimp to control them but he's having too much fun eating other things (okay, two last questions. thanks and keep up the good work). <Yes there are "reef safe" stars, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm I would go with the peppermint shrimp approach.  The Copper-band Butterfly is a known Aiptasia eater, but will most likely die once all the Aiptasia is gone.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm >


Bogus Fish Medication/Advice If anyone can help me, then that would be you guys!   <OK... Bonzai!!!!!!!!!!!!!!> I have a question for you guys, I have a 55 gallon planted tank.  135 watts of light, 125 and 170 penguin BioWheels and a hot magnum.  My PH is 6.4, my general hardness is 5 degrees and my nitrites and ammonia are zero.  I bought a couple of discus a week and a half ago, and they both came down with what seems almost immediately upon introduction to the tank with some sort of ailment.   <and you've learned a very hard lesson that too many do... the need to quarantine all new fish in a separate hospital tank first. Never add new fish directly to a display... especially sensitive and disease prone species like discus. Please read through our articles and archives on how to properly run QT. 4 weeks minimum, please> They are a dark dark brown or black, with cloudy eyes and like a powdery covering of white on the body.   <many possibilities here... but they likely need to be treated as if for parasites. Formalin baths and salt in a bare-bottomed QT tank. You cannot medicate the main tank. It will run fallow while fish are in QT for a month. Bare bottomed QT with daily siphoning of tank bottom to reduce parasites and larvae needed> They will not eat, and initially I started treating them with Melafix, but it must have striped the oxygen from the tank and all of the fish were hanging at the top.   <it is a bogus product and at best cannot be used as a primary medicant. We get a tremendous amount of negative feedback on such holistic products... yet I cannot recall hearing one good comment for every 100 bad ones. Makes you wonder if the one percent success rate isn't just coincidence anyway> So the LFS recommended Maracyn (ungodly expensive) for treatment. <grossly ignorant if not irresponsible of your LFS. Maracyn is a gram positive antibiotic... less than 20% of all bacterial infections are gram positive, and of them only a tiny fraction respond to Maracyn ( which is common and outdated Erythromycin). To add insult to injury in your case... there is nothing to suggest that this infection is even remotely bacterial in nature. There is a pretty sweet profit margin on medications though :) > After three days the discus are still very dark in color, <Oh, ya...> inactive and not eating the white powdery film on the their bodies may have somewhat gone away, <sloughing of mucus... natural response> but their eyes are still cloudy.  Is there any way that I can coax them into eating, that would only help them heal faster, you would think.   <higher, stable temperatures with extremely vigorous aeration. Target 84-86F> If this is not the correct treatment for these fish, <no kidding... this wasn't even a treatment at all... you were given very poor advice> what would the proper treatment be?   <as per above... Formalin (Aquarium Products and several others brands available) and isolation in QT> I would really hate to lose these two fish, I have very high expectations of them.   <I suspect that they have high expectations for life too> There is no Plecos to harass them, and only peaceful smaller fish in the tank.  All of the other fish are perfectly normal and healthy.  I appreciate your time.  Thank you Dave McCorkell <Dave... please invest in a good diagnostic book on diseases (low end but very good: Handbook of Fish Diseases by Untergasser... and high end, the Noga reference). Also buy a good discus book. Worthwhile investments before you buy any more fishes. Best regards, Anthony>


pH shock-- curable? I did something very stupid just over a week ago-- I introduced an old piece of mahogany driftwood I had into my discus tank. I had used the driftwood years ago in another discus tank, and it provided a good buffering pillow. I was about to introduce two new discus and also thought they'd like the shelter it provided, as the three discus already present had pretty much staked out their favorite spots around their piece of driftwood. Darned if the new/old driftwood didn't leach scarily-large amounts of nitrate into the water (which I didn't even think to check because everything else-- ammonia, nitrite, PH all tested fine), and drive the carbonate hardness down to near zero-- and, of course, cause an acid fall-- from 7.0 to 6.2 between Friday afternoon and Sunday night. Well, I've pulled out that hunk of driftwood and carefully and slowly corrected the water conditions (PH back to 7.0, carbonate hardness 50 ppm, general hardness 80 ppm or 4.5 dh, no detectable nitrites or ammonia, nitrates still high at 50 ppm but much better than the 110 they were!) and the discus are now looking a lot less stressed, as long as I don't walk up to the tank, since they now connect me with Big Scary water changes instead of yummy food. Their fins are barely clamped and are spread full much of the time, body colour a bit dull but not dark anymore, eyes better-- still a bit dull, but the red colour's back But nobody's eaten a thing for six days. And they're still not at all frisky. They mostly hang about their old pieces of driftwood Obviously, they endured PH shock. Can they recover? Can I help them recover? <More than nitrate was released by the wood... I would make a large (25%) water change (with pre-conditioned water) today, maybe another tomorrow... and place some activated carbon (several ounces) in your filter flow path. Do your discus have favorite food items? I would try these. Bob Fenner> Judy Waytiuk


Am I cycling again? More than that! Hi-- you guys are life-savers. Your site is such a help, I can't tell you. <thanks kindly... sorry for the delay in response. Catching up with e-mail> But I need a bit of specific steerage, I think-- or maybe just a hand-holding to tell me I'm doing okay now... I have a long-established, planted 50 gallon discus tank which had three part-grown fish. I added two and four tiny ones (I know-- when they reach adulthood, I will be overcrowded-- but I'm not expecting them to all  make it. And if they do, I know a fish guy who will gladly adopt). <Yikes... there are two huge flaws in this strategy. Discus (like many FW fishes) give off growth-inhibiting hormones that stunt the growth of smaller/weaker individuals. Unless you are doing daily water changes, these smaller specimens you have added don't have a prayer of growing. Now, as far as you statement that you don't expect all to survive... I am dumbstruck as to why not?! I would like to think you keep all fishes well enough to have every confidence they will survive> My problem: I had an acid crash which I think was precipitated by a huge drop in my carbonate hardness, simultaneous with the addition  of the two new guys. <I hope this was not from using untempered RO/DO or Distilled water. Never to be done... always buffer a bit. Even for Blackwater Amazonian species (which you do not have)> Though I stabilized the Ph as carefully as I could, one of my old discus and one of the new ones died. I did 25% water changes every couple of days over the last week, and bought two more new guys to replace the lamented dead-- who happened to be the two biggest ones in the tank. Everyone now looks fine-- spread fins, bright eyes, good color, active schooling, happy exploration around the tank in group missions. But one of the new darlings, on close inspection at home under good light, turns out to have gray skin-- that fungal infection. <its not a fungal infection. Fungal infections are extremely rare in fishes. Protozoan infections from unquarantined discus are very common and contagious, however. I have to say, my friend... I am torn here between wanting to help you on one hand, and wanting to berate you on the other for your reckless disregard for life. Even on base terms of financial investment... why would anybody take a disease-prone family of fishes (Discus) and add new undersized ones into a tank with an unfair advantage... unquarantined(!)... and only days after kin had died? Even though you explain the deaths as pH related... what of the increased risk of disease with the stressed survivors? I am truly saddened to hear of the whole affair. You need a lot more patience and information to keep discus... perhaps fishes at large.> I treated that this morning with Jungle's Fungus Eliminator. <a good medication, but ineffective here... and what's worse is that you treated the main tank! Not only was this medication a waste of money, but this antibiotic has killed a portion of your biological filter> Everyone still seems happy, though, <relative to...?> with the exception of the ravenous babies, they're picking at food very lightly. I'm removing it with a wide pipette as best I can when it gets left (easy with a piece of Discus delight, not so easy with wandering frozen bloodworms). My nitrates, which had been over 110 (as high as the kit tests) <actually... you have staggering nitrate levels... likely from a lack of water changes (which also mitigates acidosis like the pH crash you've experienced). Nitrate on a test kit needs to be multiplied by 4.4 to get the actual nitrate levels (Nitrate ion versus nitrate as nitrogen). So even if your tank was known to be at only 110ppm on the test kit... your actual nitrate is around 500ppm (possibly much higher). This level is obscene and quite indicative of water quality> when the acid fall happened, are now, with the water changes and the use of Nitra-Sorb in my box filter (Tetratec 300)  somewhere between 20 and 40. <yes... water changes please> But my carbonate hardness still wants to keep switching down, testing daily at 30 or 35 although I am carefully adding KH booster in the recommended amounts. And my Ph, which I am trying to sketch down to 6.5, wants to stay at 7.0 even though I am adding daily Ph Adjust down in the recommended amount. The fish all came from 7.0 or higher, but really, I know they'll be much better off with the lower P, if I can just get it to settle down around 6.5. Nitrites and ammonia both tested at zero until this evening, when I got trace ammonia and light nitrite readings. <that would be the medications used in the display (and not a proper QT) killing nitrifying faculties> I added some Cycle, <a waste of money IMO> assuming my biological filter's been sorely depleted by all the water changes. <Ahhh...no. Water changes have absolutely no impact on nitrifying bacteria unless you are throwing away bio-media. These faculties are benthic and not touched by the dilution of tank water> So. Is the tank in a cycle stage again (if so, fine. I'll just watch it like a hawk and do gentle, frequent water changes. <simple damage from meds> But how do I get the carbonate hardness to behave and the Ph to reduce slowly? <a better test kit and a better buffer would be my advice> And should I put in Ammo Lock 2 if the ammonia sketches up any further by morning? <just a water change please> A major water change is, due to the Fungus Eliminator, out as an option until Friday a.m.-- <I'm not sure why it would be out of the question? This drug (like most) has a life in aquarium water of less than 12 hours (actually about 4-6 hours in this case). Hence the reason for daily and twice daily dosing of most meds. You water change will not phase efficacy after 6 hours of the dose> but then, the aquarium's biological filtration isn't going to much care for yet another big water change, is it? Judy Waytiuk <I'm thinking that you would benefit tremendously from attendance of a good local aquarium society. Some better books at least. The sheer number of misinformed choices and perceptions that you've recited tells me that you may not be getting accurate advice from your local fish store or other counsel. The help you need is far bigger than a single e-mailed reply. Let me apologize for the disappointment and dry wit above, but I am truly saddened to hear the choices you made and the rationale (assumptive) behind them. Please take my advice and spare some lives and your labor: don't by another fish until you've bought some better books and read them. And then still don't buy another fish until you've bought a simple QT tank to put all potential new fishes in first for 4 weeks (no exceptions). Read more in the wetwebmedia.com archives about protocol for quarantine. Best regards, Anthony>


Discus 2/8/03 Anthony, Your website continues to delight and amaze.   <thanks kindly... Bob has started this site with contagious and admirable purpose and vision> I have a discus question - I have, I'm ashamed to admit, a stunted discus - he came free with a bunch of others about a year ago.   <no shame at all... its inevitable with even the best water quality short of daily water changes. In a group of 4, 6 or more even with wc's several times weekly, one will lag or stunt> Is it possible to 'unstunt' this fish - I suspect not.   <some FW fishes can reverse (many livebearers) but others like discus fish are permanently stunted, alas. A good rule of measure for watching discus grow is that the eye ball should be no more than 1/7 the height of the vertical bar that runs though the eye. Superb care and water changes can make that measure more like 1/9> Also his health seems fragile - I've had to virtually hand feed him vitamin enriched foods all this time - if I slack of at all he looks decidedly weak, and takes forever to recover - I assume stunting is bad for the health.   <Indeed, my friend... a bit of a challenge for life with the fish. It is a common rant of mine on WWM with FW and Sw fishes kept in "small" tanks. We get a lot of marine aquarists that take a juvenile fish that gets to 60 or 90 cm in length as an adult and they put it in a 1 or 2 meter tank and feel like it is big enough. Such fish belong in public aquaria and stunt and die prematurely in private tanks too often> What's a reasonable lifespan I can expect. <the natural lifespan is 10+ years... a few on record approaching 15 years as I recall. 5-8 years would be a fine run though> I WILL fax those articles to you - I have them in a faxable form now, however I can assure you the propagation of newborn children is decidedly time consuming <no worries, my friend... you have a much more rewarding endeavor in your children> Many thanks Wayne Oxborough


Apparent Cestodes in Discus I have six beautiful pigeon blood discus in a community 68gal. tank. Two pair are currently spawning, laying and fertilizing their eggs. After each batch I have noticed that all four fish have at one time or another expelled a white, ribbon like, segmented cord from their anus. Once one was breathing it in and out. I didn't see if it had ate it or if it just came out of it's mouth. I am concerned because I just lost a beautiful breeding pair of Snakeskin Red Turquoise. They just went crazy for about three days and died. I left them in the tank for a couple of hours and this cord was coming out of their mouth and gills. It freaked me out. Is this a tapeworm and should I medicate with Praziquantel (Droncit) or should I just leave them alone. <Worth looking into. Do you have availability to a microscope? I would try to take a look at these stringy feces before actually treating. Metronidazole (aka Flagyl) is a possible antiprotozoal to add to the possible materia medica here. Bob Fenner> Please help.


Discus help please Hi, I hope that you can help.  I have 4 Wattley Discus. Two of them are about 5 inches and the other two are about 2 1/2 inches.  I got them  7 months ago and all would eat fine till now. Now one of the 2 1/2 ones is not eating and is getting rather skinny and losing its color and breathing heavy.  The other 3 are looking great and seem to be doing and eating fine, begging and all. The thing is, nothing that I have done has changed.  I have not added any fish or have I done anything differently than I have for the past 7 months. I have a 60 gal with an Eheim 2226 and a UV light on it. I still do my water changes once a week (about 15-20 gal) with r/o water and just a hint of tap water.  The temp is at 86.  I also have some Rummy nose in with them and they all look great too.  He used to be the only one eating all-the-time.  From the top, middle or bottom.  And very aggressive at feeding time.  When they all would be eating, he was the boss, which was kind of funny because he was much smaller than two of them, but was getting some nice size to him. He has been like this now for about 2 weeks and he looks worse every day.  I would like to see what you have to say about what could be the cause and what I could be doing to help it.  It is the one that my 6 year old daughter picked out and if it goes.....well you know.  Please help and advise.  Thanks. <I would suggest isolating this fish and seeing if he'll eat while on his own. If so, keep him isolated and well fed until he is healthy again before returning him to your main tank. Ronni>
Response to "Discus help please" posted on 4-6
<This was sent to me by another one of our crew members so I wanted to pass it on to you. He's got more experience in Discus keeping than I do.> They didn't mention what foods were being offered, I feed mine a variety of meaty foods such as beef heart, Wattley's Discus formula by ocean nutrition, live brine shrimp (when hunger strikes set in), red worms, etc.... Make sure something didn't cause a drastic change in PH, I've had Discus turn really dark and act like they're dying just by sneezing in front of the tank! Discus can be a tricky fish to keep!
Re: response to "Discus help please" posted on 4-6
Hi again.  There was/is no problem with the ph, I do check that all the time, at-least every other day.  I feed them mostly Omega One (red bottle) flakes and also give them Wattley frozen Discus formula, Hikari frozen blood worms and frozen krill, San Francisco's frozen brine shrimp and frozen mosquito larvae and live brine shrimp about once a month.  The other three are doing great like I said.  He was once the (king) of the tank at feeding time, even being the smallest by more than double his size.  He would also be the only one to be seen eating all day long.  Going through every nook and cranny he could find while the others would just be swimming around.  At first I thought that he might have eaten some old food that I might have missed cleaning up.  If that is the case, will it just pass? <Likely so> Or is that even probable to happen?  I clean the tank at least once a week and try to do at least a 20% water change mid week also. <Hopefully with water of high quality. You might try twice weekly changes of ten percent to see if this improves their behavior>   Thanks for your fast reply and I'll be waiting to hear what you have to say.  He is not looking very good at all now and is very, very pail in color.  He is a Wattley's Marlboro Red and was a VERY good looking fish as they all are.  But he just had something about him, very, very thick and such a great round shape.  I don't know who will take the loss of him worse, my daughter or me.  He never showed any symptoms other than not eating.  I mean his poop was always fine and his color was excellent as was his eyes and fins.  The first couple of days he wasn't eating, I just thought he wasn't feeling good and I continued to do my tank cleaning and water changes thinking that he would soon come around.  But he is not coming around and looking bad.  The others are still looking and acting great.   Please advise.  Thank you much for your time. <Do try elevating your water temperature... if you haven't already. To the mid to upper eighties F. if the rest of your livestock can handle this raise. Bob Fenner>


Ich in planted Discus tank :-( >Me again... >>I'm sorry, I don't remember you.. ;)  Marina here. >I've noticed that almost all of my Discuses (15 adult in 180gal tank) developed Ich (overnight).  There was no temp drop and I've never had ich...  so a few questions...- I guess CopperSafe is out of the question - will it harm clown loaches or plants, or be hard on few fry Discuses I have in that tank? >>If I recollect correctly, anything with malachite green will harm scaleless fishes, but if you have fry that's another concern entirely.   > - I increased the temp to 32C and added aquarium salt at rate of 1tablespoon/5 gal (I hope the plants and loaches can take this temp and salt for a few days?) will that kill Ich? >>It will stress the ich, and it will definitely harm the plants. > - On the side note, when treating with antibiotics, is there a temperature (upper range) where the antibiotics become ineffective? e.g. will erythromycin still work if temp is 32C? >>Not that I am aware of. >Any other pointers? Taking the Discuses out of the tank and treating them in a separate tank is out of the question... >>That being the case, ensuring excellent water quality, boosting their immune system via feeding (though, I would think that if you're anything like other Discus owners I've known, there are few people who feed their fishes BETTER than you), and avoiding malachite containing products is the best you *can* do.  I'll link you to a fish medication site, maybe this will give some ideas on other treatments.  OH MY GOODNESS!  I can't link you, there's a sheriff's sale of Pets Warehouse, and the site containing this information has been taken over.  Very, VERY sorry, please do a search on our site on freshwater fish diseases.  Best of luck to you!  Marina


Gill Flukes Part Two - 8/19/03 wrote last night about gill flukes in a discus checked him out today and breathing normally so I suppose all is well. Guess I just panicked.  thanks again <don't relax too soon. The symptoms for gill flukes can and do wax and wane. Watch closely and treat if needed. Anthony>


Discus Disease Questions, and Waterlife Products Hello, I would like to ask a question about Discus diseases. I have just imported some Discus from Thailand and one of them seems to be sick.  It stays on the top of the water in a corner, it does not feed and it has some white markings on its body (something like a FUNGUS).  Its fin-tail has also started to rod. It seems to me that it suffers from HEXAMITA.  First I would like to ask if this might be the sickness.   <It is quite possible.  Of course, without seeing the fish, please understand that we can't tell you anything definitive - but your description of its symptoms does very much sound consistent with Hexamita.  If you have access to a decent microscope, you might try to get a skin scrape to look at so you can find out for sure.  If that's not possible, I'd probably go ahead and treat for Hexamita.  You can also do a Google search for "Hexamita" or "Discus Plague" and compare the pictures with your fish.> Second: if this is the sickness, then how do I treat it with WATERLIFE ( http://www.waterlife.co.uk ) products (I need a medication that has METRONIDAZOLE in it, and Waterlife is the only products I can get now). <I agree very much that you should treat with Metronidazole....  Unfortunately, I cannot find any listings for ingredients of any of the Waterlife products.  Nor have any internet searches yielded ingredients for these products.  I would very strongly suggest contacting the Waterlife company and asking what, if any, of their products are or contain Metronidazole.  I have done this as well, and I hope to get a reply.  They have a product called "Octozin" which they claim works for hole-in-the-head disease (another name for Hexamita).  Since I can't find the ingredients, I really don't know further what to recommend; the best method of treatment for Hexamita is to treat with Metronidazole in food (about 1% Metronidazole by weight).  If you ask them and they don't get back to you in enough time, I suppose I'd go ahead with the Octozin as directed on the package and hope for the best - I really don't know what more to try.  Furthermore, I believe I would treat all the discus that are in contact with the sick one, as Hexamita does seem to spread quickly.> Thank you very much.  Antonis <You bet.  Wishing you well for the holidays,  -Sabrina>


Discus Questions I have 6 discus fish in a fairly new aquarium.   <Discus are very delicate fish and it's best to keep them in aquariums that have had about 6 month to mature.> They developed ich, and I've been treating them with Rid-Ich for @ 4 1/2 days.  The ich is almost gone, but now their eyes are cloudy and the look like they're covered in whitish slimy stuff. <This white slime is not a true fungus but a bacterial infection known as Columnaris or Body Fungus.  It can be treated with Mardel's Maracyn.  Make sure the read the package and treat accordingly.> Their fins don't look clear and they're looking pretty bad.  The small one has stopped eating.   <Discus are fish that many people aspire to raise, they are not easy fish and require very specific water parameters.  I suggest that you go to you local library or bookstore and rent/buy a book on how to care for discus.  Knowledge about how to care for these fish will make them infinitely more enjoyable and you will know what to expect and how to handle it without having to wait for emails. PLEASE HELP!!  Anna <Wishing you and your fish all the best. -Magnus>


".... like I need a hole in my head." Hi!    <Hello!> I appreciate your time and any help or expertise you can offer.  I have a 4.5 inch discus that we treated for hole in the head last month, it had white pussy matter coming out of holes above the lateral line.   <Sounds classically like hole-in-the-head indeed.> We treated with Paragon II and it cleared up after 2 rounds of medication.  Now a month later it has started again.  Will this keep coming back do I need to retreat?   <I would re-treat, but with Metronidazole in food rather than in the water.> Is there a better medication that you can purchase at a pet store that you would recommend?   <Metronidazole can be found under the name "Hex-a-Mit" (Aquatronics).  It would be best to administer this via food, *not* just in the water, as the package directs.  Perhaps try mixing it into a frozen food (er, thaw the food to mix it in, then re-freeze).  Aim for about 1% medicine by weight.> We are currently feeding quite the variety of foods so I would find it hard to believe it is from a vitamin deficiency.   <Might be worthwhile to look into vitamin supplements anyway.> Lastly what is the minimum size you would recommend for a hospital tank, we just put our 75 gallon tank away and aren't too excited about setting it back up.           <For a single, 4.5" discus?  You could manage with something even as small as a 10-gallon tank (or even Rubbermaid container), if necessary.  A 20g might be a little more suited to a good sized fish like that.  Be sure to provide something for the fish to hide around and feel safe.  PVC pipe elbows are good for this, and cheaper than plastic plants.  Wishing you and your discus well,  -Sabrina>


Discus Deaths Hello, <Hi, Kurt, Sabrina here today!> I have a 90 gal. planted Discus tank that has been running for several months with no real problems.  The 5 Discus in my display tank all died overnight.   <Yikes!> I had noticed them swimming up next to the plants and twitching occasionally over the last few days and yesterday they did not eat as aggressively as normal.   <Do you recall any other symptoms at all, specifically appearance of the skin?> I searched the internet yesterday and thought maybe Flukes?   <Unlikely, unless you had any recent additions.... ?> or Maybe Discus Plaque?   <A very important concern.  There are folks that think that the "plague" is simply Hexamita, to be treated with Metronidazole in food, and there are folks that think this "plague" is something entirely different, and far more difficult to deal with.> My water parameters are good and I do a 25% water change with 75% RO water about every 4 days.  Until the last couple of days they looked good??  What do you think killed them?   <Very difficult to say without more detail, on symptoms, tank in general - especially any very recent changes/additions to the system.> What can I do to my tank to ensure that whatever did kill them won't kill any other new ones.   <Again, without knowing for sure what did 'em in, that's a tough one to answer.> The display tank is a 90 gal fairly heavily planted tank.  It has 11 Siamese algae eaters, 3 Corydoras paleatus catfish, 18 cardinal tetras, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco, and 2 Botia striata to eat the snails.  They all seam to be O.K.   <With delicate fish like cardinal tetras remaining unaffected, that does make me think this was a relatively discus-specific illness, rather than a toxin in the water or water quality issues, as I imagine the other delicate inhabitants would've been effected.  Might even still be worthwhile to wonder about pH fluctuation, were you sure to match pH and temperature when you did the water change?  And again, have you introduced anything to the tank without sufficient quarantine?  New fish, new plants, anything?  Even so much as borrowed a used airstone?  And as for re-stocking....  most of what I've read/discussed regarding this "plague" seems to indicate it is safe to introduce healthy fish to the system again in a month after removing infected fish.  Certainly, if this is simply Hexamita, one could do so much sooner, but, "better safe than sorry", if you will.> Help? <I wish I could be more of a help than giving ambiguous possibilities, in this case!> Thanks,  Kurt Will <Wishing you and future discus well,  -Sabrina>
Discus Deaths II - 02/02/2004 
Thanks for your reply,  <Sure thing, Kurt.>  Since I wrote you I think I have determined that my problem was a lack of oxygen and or co2 poisoning. Because of the twitching symptoms I had raised the temp. to 88deg. the night that they died.  <Ahhh.>  My CO2 injection is all automated by ph controller so I don't think that was it. However apparently in a heavily planted tank 88deg. could have robbed too much Oxygen from the water.  <Yes, quite likely indeed.>  Also, when I woke up that morning the cardinals were all at the surface of the water which would also indicate not enough Oxygen.  <Agreed.>  What do you think?  <I definitely think this is a strong possibility.>  I have since put my co2 control on the light timer just to be safe (it won't run at night). And I installed an air stone on a timer to run only at night.  <A very good idea - but do please test your pH *carefully* while you are fine-tuning this.>  I am now shopping for Discus again. Kurt  <It might be a good idea to wait a month or so before putting any new discus into your tank, just to be on the safe side - if it is an illness that targets the discus more than the other fish (Hexamita, for one), that should be sufficient time to be sure the system is safe for them. I suppose that would give you time to quarantine your new charges! May you find some beauties. -Sabrina>


Discus with Hexamita? - 02/02/2004 Please help...I don't want to lose me discus fish. I have been treating with rid-ich for 5 days now. The ich is almost gone, but the fish have developed cloudy eyes, a whitish clear coating on their bodies and ragged fins.  <This sounds perhaps like "skin slime disease" - caused by protozoan parasites, likely Hexamita, or possibly Ichthyobodo (Costia), Chilodonella, Trichodina.... All should respond favorably to Metronidazole administered in food. Metronidazole can be found made by Aquatronics (Hex-a-Mit, green or blue box) and by Seachem (simply Metronidazole).> I have a 55 gallon aquarium. Temp is at 86 degrees. Nitrates, nitrites and ammonia are ok. Ph is at 7. I've been doing a 20 - 25% water change daily, and I added 8 tablespoons of aquarium salt to the water. Please let me know what else I should do.... <A good start - and may in and of itself effect improvement or cure. I would still treat with Metronidazole in food.> Thank you sooooo much, Anna <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>


Hydra, discus Hello, I really need to know something bad I have had from time to time in my discus tank which is a 125 gallon with a 350 magnum and two double bio wheels on back, tank has been up for 2and 1 half years do water changes ones a week on it 35 gallons at a time. my fish have darted around and had to dip one in salt before I noticed today one was darting again, last week I saw some things on glass quite a few look like hydra (octopuses) trying to buy Flubendazole? do you have some or no ? do you think this is my problem? have had a lot of my fish for as long as the tank but have lost some too,, HEXAMITA?????? you have a great site this is my first time on looked for information on this could not see sorry to bother but looks like your the man????? thanks Kathy < First of all I would do some water quality tests to start. Check the ammonia, should read zero. Second check the nitrites, should also read zero. Then the nitrates, should be less than 25 ppm. With the BioWheels the ammonia and nitrite should not be a problem. If the nitrates are a problem then they need to reduced with either larger or more frequent water changes. Service the filters. I know that servicing these canister filters can be a hassle but a filter only collects waste so it can removed by you and taken out of the system. I would vacuum the gravel too. This gets rid of all kinds of waste that can contribute to a nitrate problem. Now that we know the water is clean the fish should be looking better and have more resistance to disease. Watch your feeding so all the food is getting eaten in a couple minutes each time. If the problem persists then I would start looking at the pH. A high pH can be irritating to a fish use to soft acidic water from the Amazon. An RO unit may be needed to soften and acidify the water. The water temp should be around 80 degrees. Clean ,warm, soft acidic water should have your discus looking and acting like true champs. But if there is still a problem and they are not getting better then I would isolate the fish in a quarantine tank and treat with Kanamycin. The hydra by themselves are no danger to your discus unless you have small babies in the tank. Once you take care of all the environmental factors then I think your hydra will go away with the other problems.-Chuck> 


Tiny worm in my discus tank Hi there, I wonder if you can help me. I have a planted discus tank and I noticed a very tiny worm on the glass just above the gravel today. It is extremely small, approximately 1/4" long and 1/64" to 1/32" diameter, and was a light color close to white or light tan. It sort of looked like a very fine piece of plant root, but I noticed it move and then it crawled down the glass into the gravel and disappeared. I have introduced new discus and plants into the tank recently.  Any idea what it might be and if it is harmful? What can I do to kill any in the tank without harming the discus and plants? I have heard that adding salt to the tank would work but I'm not sure. I read that Formalin could work but not with plants. Thanks, Mark. < I am guessing that you may have some plant leeches that came in with them. The probably will not harm the fish and may harm the plants. If there is no apparent problems then I would leave things alone for awhile and see if they get worse. If it really is a worm then there is a good chance that your fish would eat it if they found it.-Chuck> 


Not sure what's wrong (Discus health) Good Morning,  My discus are in a 165 set up and I have one fish that is swimming by the top of the surface with his nose pointed up in the air other than that he looks fine.  I treated him last week in a hospital tank in which he never did the same thing in that tank so I thought it had been cured but now he's at it again.   I don't see any other fish in the tank doing this.  Do you know of any diseases that this is a typical symptom?   If it was an oxygen problem for some reason wouldn't all of the fish be doing this?  I thought possibly gill flukes as it says the nose up in the air can be a symptom but not sure.....   I would appreciate any advice.  Thanks! < If your discus is not wild then it is probably a line bred fish that is many generations from the real fish. It is possible that it has deformed gills that aren't functioning properly at the higher temp's that discus are usually kept at. If you put him in a cooler tank then the water has a higher oxygen carrying capacity and it becomes easier for the fish to breathe. If could be caused by parasites attacking the gills. Flukes are only one of many parasites that can cause this. I would isolate the fish again and treat for Protozoans with rid-ich by Kordon. Follow the directions on the bottle. Once the fish is better then you can put him back in the main tank. If he gets sick again or other fish get sick then the parasite is in the main tank and this particular fish seems to be more prone to get sick that the others. If you still want to keep him in the main tank then you will need to treat the big tank. What a pain!!! To prevent this you should quarantine all new fish for a few weeks to make sure that no new diseases become introduced to the big tank and you have to spend all this money and time to get things back on track. If the rid-ich doesn't work then I would try Furanace in the quarantine tank. All medications affect the good nitrifying bacteria in some way so watch for ammonia spikes.-Chuck>   
Re: Not sure what's wrong
Thanks so much for your advice!! Could it be any protozoan medication? They don't carry that particular brand where we shop. < Any medication in which the primary ingredients are malachite green and formalin. For gill flukes I would use clout or fluke tabs.-Chuck>


Help!! I have a terribly egg laden turquoise discus Help!! I have a terribly egg laden turquoise discus that refuses to drop her eggs. She looks so bloated and uncomfortable. I am not able to remove her to a separate tank at this time. Is there anything that I can do to help her. I don't expect to have any babies until I can afford a separate 75 gallon just for my discus. Right now they are in with clowns (Botias) and panda Cory cats, which by the way produced a baby. Go figure. Any help would be much appreciated. Sheryl < If you are sure that you have a pair of discus and she is indeed egg laden then their really isn't too much you can do. On the other had if she is not eating and not paired off with a male then I would suspect that she is suffering from an internal bacterial infection and is very sick. I would recommend that she be placed in a hospital tank and treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck>
My discus - Follow-up
Thanks for your answer on my discus. But in the same tank with the discus I have clown loaches and panda Cory cats. I know I can put Epsom salt in with both discus and clown loaches, but would it harm panda Cory cats??? < They really don't like it, but can tolerate it to some degree.> My discus has probably overeaten - I'm sure she doesn't have an infection because of the way she is acting - fantastic color, fins in perfect position, she is still eating and being bossy in the tank. Thanks again - Sheryl < Overfeeding discus can be very detrimental to their long term health. I always recommend feeding fish no more food then they can eat in a couple of minutes each day. With discus though I do feed them twice a day.-Chuck>


Discus pH shock/Columnaris Bob, I have a 75-gallon tank, containing nine 2" to 5" discus, several pairs of various Amazonian dwarf cichlids, a few Cory cats, a 7" diameter Guyana stingray (humerosa), and several other small dither fishes. All were doing well together, besides the stingray occasionally eating one of the smaller fishes, until I recently ordered online four (of the nine) young 2" to 3" discus, which quickly developed Columnaris.  I do at least a 25% water change twice a week. I use a Fluval 304 and an AquaClear 500 for filtration. I have about 15 plants (mostly swords and Anubias), which I supplement with a small CO2 system. I must have taken my previously good, stable water conditions for granted, for a day after adding the new discus I tested my pH: it was about 5 (the test didn't go any lower). The ammonia and nitrites remained at zero, while the nitrates hovered around .12 mg/L. The first night using 7.4 pH tap water, conditioned of course for chlorine and whatnot, I managed to raise the pH up to 6. The next day the older, larger discus also developed Columnaris; I've heard it can be quite contagious to other tankmates, or perhaps they developed it on their own as a result of pH shock. I believe that my original mistake was not correctly measuring the proper amount of discus buffer (to lower pH), which sent my normal 6.5 pH plummeting. For the first five days I treated the tank with tetracycline/hydrochloride, but the fish showed little recovery and one of the new ones died (a red spot green). I don't think they liked sitting in the dark all day and night long, due to tetracycline being photo sensitive, so after three treatments-I believe it was 200 mg (1 pill) for every 5 gallons (I added about 13-15 pills every 1.5 to 2 days) I switched to using erythromycin, particularly Maracyn. They are all eating frozen bloodworms, which I provide them a feast twice a day (the stingray is a bottomless pit that I refer to as a vacuum cleaner).  After two days of treatment using erythromycin three of the discus seem much better, and I know they appreciate the light. The rest still look pretty ragged. My pH is back at a stable 6.5, and I've added more Epsom salt than I normally use and also aeration to aid in their respiration.  I'm wondering how long Columnaris typically lasts, and when I can expect my discus to fully recover. I also am curious about the 5-day treatment Maracyn recommends, particularly whether I should do partial water changes between daily treatments. Surprisingly the stingray could care less about the medicated water and is his same mischievous self. The other fish also appear unaffected. . . . I'd like to know your opinion of my set-up and my predicament. I hope I provided enough information.  < You first mistake was in not quarantining your new discus. If they had been placed in a small clean aquarium the medicating would have cheaper and more effective. The erythromycin is a good choice for this disease, but the water changes help your fish recover. In about a week you fish should be better. Watch out for ammonia spikes because the medication may affect the good bacteria that breaks down the fish waste into less toxic nitrites and nitrates.-Chuck>
Re: Discus pH shock/Columnaris
Thanks, Chuck. One more thing: After treating my tank with tetracycline for 5 days and erythromycin for another 8 days two of my eight remaining discus that had already seemed on the road to full recovery are now resting at the bottom of the tank. Their colors have darkened only slightly, and they don't appear to have anything new wrong with them.  Are there complications for extended use of erythromycin? I've removed the medication, but they've now stopped eating (they were eating during the medication). Also I've been adding salt at a rate of about 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons, maybe even a little more, which I heard may aid in their recovery. This has gone on for a couple months. Could the salt be the reason why the discus are behaving strangely? Something's up, my pH is 6.8, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate .6 mg/L. I don't know what the hardness is. I have some plants in the tank as well, which seem fine. Do the fish simply need to rest for a couple days? I've had discus refuse food for weeks and then act normal like nothing ever happened. Any ideas? (Tank specs: 8 discus, 1 stingray, 6 Irian Jaya red rainbowfish, several bottom feeders, 100 lbs. of sand, 2 96-watt power compacts, 15 plants, CO2 yeast thingy [not cylinder], no aeration, except current from AquaClear 500 and Fluval 304).  Adam Michels < Nothing brings discus back faster than water changes. I would do water changes as often as I could with soft acidic water. Offer a variety of foods and clean the filter often. They should be back at it in no time.-Chuck>


Discus problem Hey crew, I am here today with somewhat of a serious problem on my hands with my discus tank.  Before I go into it, let me tell you about the tank setup. 46 gallon bowfront; planted. with outside filter and sponge filter. Houses 3 clown loaches, 14 inch dragon fish, 5 medium brown discus and 1 larger blue discus. Correct readings are: temp 84, NO3 20, NO2 0, hardness about 200, alkalinity about 50, pH of 6.6-ish. Here is my problem. About a week ago, I brought home a small diamond discus and did not quarantine him. After placing him into this tank I noticed that he was generally malaised and was either a. sitting on his side on the gravel, or b floating on his side. He had slime coat issues as well and did not look good at all. I removed him and placed him into a 10 gallon hosp tank.  Now for my main tank. All of the discus are sickly. The larger discus became dark and started hiding behind some slate rocks I propped up against the back wall. He developed whitish streaks on his body (slime probably) and fins are clamped. The smaller discuses were all very lethargic and would rest on their sides a lot (just lay there on the gravel) or float sideways inside a big piece of driftwood I have in the tank (its hollow on the bottom so its like a little cave thing). Their coats became less healthy (less shiny) than usual and they do not move around much at all. Here is what I proceeded to do after taking the new comer out (that bastard!). I dropped the water level to 1/2 or so. the only filter currently working there is the sponge. I installed an R/O water unit and am using that water to do 5 gallon daily changes (so about 20 percent or so daily, adding half a teaspoon of R/O vital by Mark Weiss). My local pet store owner told me to add Metronidazole to the water at a rate of 500mg / 10 gal daily which I am doing. I am also adding "rid Ich +" by Kordon which is a formalin/mal green mix to the tank.  This is the 3rd day of treatment. The fish has shown improvement (somewhat) and have even come out to eat at times during feedings. They no longer lay on their sides, but they still hide inside the driftwood for most of the day. The larger fish is still facing the back (black) of the tank. This does not seem to affect any other fish in there including the clown loaches or the Dragonfish.  As for the newcomer, he is getting the same treatment in the hosp tank (I don't know, I felt better taking him out even though the whole tank was already infected.) He has livened up some and doesn't lay on his side for the most part anymore, but he developed white, cloudy appearance towards the back of his body and his tail has become yellow instead of clear. I am really sorry about the length of this question. Prior to this issue, I have not had much problems with discus and this teaches me a valuable lesson!! QUARANTINE. For now however, please advice on my correct situation.  Eternally grateful, DK < You are getting excellent advice from your local pet store. I think once your fish are eating they will get better over time. I would start watching for ammonia and nitrite spikes in the water. The medication may or may not have an affect on the nitrifying bacteria so I would continue to keep the water as clean as possible. Continue with the water changes even after the fish have recovered to make sure that the good bacteria are also back and active.-Chuck>

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