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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Uninvited Crab ID  (Movie link)   5/6/20
Hi Bob,
My apologies for contacting you through Messenger. I wasn't aware that I should be reaching out through a different channel and will do so in the future. Thank you for responding anyway.
<No worries>
While I was on vacation, the LFS worker put this Crab in my tank and told me it was an Emerald Crab. I was worried because of the black claws and because it doesn't look like any Emerald Crab I had seen.
<You were/are right to be concerned... this is likely a member of the family Xanthidae... "eat em up" crabs>
It was eating my Torches and I couldn't understand why they weren't doing well. It was a nightmare to catch it but eventually I did and brought it to the LFS. They couldn't identify it and I've asked around and searched all over the forums and Google and no one knows what it is.
This morning I was searching again and I Came Upon Your article about Crab identification. I couldn't tell if there was anything in there that looked like this one so I reached out to you.
<Ahh! I was/am going to refer you to that portion of WWM to scan through... starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/swcrabidfaqs.htm
and continuing in the series (linked, in blue, at top)>
Attached is a video of it after I caught it. The other video I have of it in the tank is of him eating the Torch. If you want to see a savage, take a look at it. It doesn't fit in this email so I will send you another one with it.
<Have just captured a still; which is sufficient>
Thank you very much for taking the time to help me, not just today but whenever I reach out to you. I'm deeply grateful.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Pessy Schuman
<Cheers! Bob Fenner>

May Calendar     5/6/20
Hi Bob, hope all is well. Here is a calendar for the WWM website.
<Fab Mike. BobF>

Re: Goldfish Dropsy, potential parasitic infection     5/6/20
Hi Neale,
I've noticed some occasional fin clamping from one of the other fish (she's the one who I saw bottom sitting quite a lot before, but otherwise she looks and is acting fine and more active than before). Could this be in response to the Prazi?
<Praziquantel acts by chemically forcing parasitic worms and flukes to perform random muscular contractions, which eventually causes them to let go of their host and be washed out of the body. As they twist and twitch they may well irritate the gut wall, and in humans at least abdominal cramps are common as well. So signs of stress in fish during medication might be apparent, but provided the fish is otherwise respiring and feeding normally, I wouldn't be overly concerned.>
I have Stressguard I've used before (when they've had scrapes) do you think that would be useful here?
<No. Stressguard is a medication that helps the slime layer on the outside of the fish. It isn't a general cure-all by any means, and does little more than help fish fend off external infections if they've been roughly handled, exposed to ammonia during transit or tank cycling, or otherwise likely to have lost a bit of slime.>
I've been unable to get better pictures (I apologize for that, he's a fairly small fish). The marks on his body are like a orangey-red and somewhat hard to notice even in person.
<The photos really aren't sharp enough to show anything useful.>
One of his eyes had a sort of dark/redness develop next to it. Likewise, his wen looks separated over his gills on both his cheeks (I've never noticed any inflammation on his cheeks before, so this surprised me). I've seen two different white particles fall off him (both small and like a grain of sand, looked like they were held on by a tiny tiny thread-- one on his back, the other near his cheek). However, I do not see any white spots actually on him or the other fish. I can see two tiny dark red-ish marks on his skin inside the division of his wen.
<Sound pretty much like generic evidence of physical trauma, rather than a specific thing. Such damage to the skin and mucous, plus subsequent irritation, inflammation, and/or infection, might be caused by
environmental stress (by far the most common explanation) but can also follow along from certain parasitic infections such as Velvet, Whitespot or Costia that breach the epidermis.>
I'm not sure what to do for him at this point. I contemplated doing a dip with methylene blue, but I'm not sure that will be particularly helpful.
<If you suspect a fungal infection, e.g., can see cotton wool-like threads, Methylene Blue is useful. Otherwise it's irrelevant.>
I have KanaPlex, MetroPlex, Sulfaplex, triple-sulfa, furan-2, and lifeguard all on hand.
<Not a bad medicine cabinet!>
The fin clamping has also gotten worse throughout the day and he looks noticeably stressed. I can set up a 10 gallon tank to QT him should you recommend it.
<Isolating fish if you plan to medicate them makes sense. Isolating fish if they are either at risk of infecting healthy fish or being damaged by them is also a good idea. But otherwise removing social fish from their peers will only add another level of stress to them.>
I also noticed one of the other fish has white slime/mucus on her wen while she was eating. The white on her wen looks like the spot I saw on the sickest fish's wen (tentatively I'd say they have the same thing). To me it looks like excess mucus (it doesn't look like the "wen pimples" they've had occasionally) or some bacteria. however, I'm thinking Costia or Hexamita could be causing the issues with other fish.
<Indeed. Excess slime production is the way fish respond to external parasitic infections and environmental stress, so if you see extra slime, it's definitely worth investigating. The first step is always to check the environment. Water chemistry, quality, temperature, etc. Think about exposure to airborne toxins and even sabotage by family members (small children dropping in copper coins for example). If you can rule of that out, then yes, go through the checklist of parasites. Whitespot and Velvet are usually obvious, though Velvet sometimes infects the gills more than the body. Costia can only really be confirmed with microscope work because the parasites are invisible, and likewise Hexamita is notoriously difficult to confirm and tends to be arrived at by a process of elimination rather than a positive ID.>
Thanks again for your help, I really do appreciate it!
<Most welcome.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Goldfish Dropsy, potential parasitic infection     5/6/20
It doesn't look fungal to me (but I could be wrong, I don't have much experience seeing fungal infections on goldfish). Whatever it is looks like it's on top of her wen/scales, some of it has already sloughed off.
I don't have aquarium salt on hand, but have ordered some and am planning to add some to their tank. What's the normal concentration used?
<2 gram per litre, but Goldfish can handle substantially more, so maybe up the dose to 3 gram/litre the following week, and such conditions could be maintained almost indefinitely.>
This fish is acting otherwise normal, still with occasional fin clamping, but very active.
I noticed the same fuzz/slime on the other goldfish's wen as well this morning (only along the separation in his wen, unfortunately I couldn't get a picture before t fell off). I also noticed him piping up for air a few times while I cleaned their tank. It's possible when I cleaned their tank yesterday I may have forgotten to add prime to one of the buckets I set out (I age their water 24 hours regardless). If some chlorine or chloramine got in the tank, could that explain the slime? (I made sure I primed the entire
tank today)
<Yes, can do.>
Thanks again for the help! Melissa
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

“Stalled” cycle     5/6/20
Dear crew,
<Hi Jim>
Hope you are all well in these tough times.
<Mostly yes, thanks... hope you are well too.>
I have a new 112G Red Sea Reef XL 425 that I started cycling on 24-April.
The tank has reef saver rock, live sand, and salt water. I used MicroBacterStart XLM, Live Nitrifying Bacteria and their Anomia product according to directions. By 1-May, my ammonia had decreased to zero, nitrites were off the chart (API test kit), and I had somewhere between 5-10 ppm of nitrates. None of these values have changed since. The nitrites continue to test the same angry purple color that isn’t actually on the color chart, and the nitrates are similarly not moving.
<Nitrites spike never occurs before week three and nitrates will rise thereafter, approximately on day 28 of the cycling process.>
I checked my nitrite kit on some RO/DI water, and it reads 0. I then tried half tank water and half RO/DI, and the nitrites still tested outside of the high range of the test kit.
<Patience, there’s nothing wrong with your reagents.>
With nitrates and nitrites not moving (colors on the test kits are identical day-to-day) what, if anything, should I do? Some forums are suggesting that the nitrites are too high, and I should do a partial water change, but this seems counter intuitive to me. Also, should I continue to add ammonia?
<I don’t recommend any water changes until nitrite levels drop to zero and nitrates are high, neither I suggest adding more ammonia, these readings are normal considering the time that the tank has been running and will stabilize in approximately 4 total weeks (counting from April-24).>
Salinity is 35ppt, temp 79-80F,
Ph 7.7-7.83 (trying to solve a C02 problem in my basement),
<You need to address this issue.>
DkH 7. I used Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt, but I will switch to the classic because its dkH is higher, which I hope will better support my Ph.
<I suggest using a buffer here. SeaChem's “Marine Buffer” is a very reliable product that will keep your ph at a constant 8.3.>
Thank you all for the information and expertise that you share every day!
<You’re most welcome. Wil.>
Re: “Stalled” cycle     5/6/20

Thanks for the fast answer.
Quick follow up question: What should I make of the fact that the MicroBacterStart advertises a 7 day cycle and the nitrite spike did happen very fast, consistent with their claims? Is it unusual for the first phase to cycle super fast and the second not, when using these types of products?
<Nitrites raise quite fast even without adding additives, it is their normal course, second phase is much slower and there is no way to accelerate it... please do take a look at the following link and related for more detailed info re. biological cycling. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm >
Thanks, again,
<Cheers. Wil.>

Re: giant gourami help     5/5/20
Hi Neale.
Apologies to bother you again so soon.
<No bother.>
I ordered some floating plastic lily pads, about 30 cm diameter.
I put one in as a ‘tester’ and didn’t yet take out the wood. The lily pad totally stressed them out. They swam to the other side and hid behind the wood when I put it in (normal when doing maintenance). I came back an hour later they were still all hid behind the wood, never seen them do that before. I took the lily pad out and within minutes they were all happy and swimming again. Bizarre behaviour- any idea what may cause this?
<Did you add the giant plastic plant with the lights on? That'd do it.>
They obviously see it as some sort of threat / danger. Should I just take the wood out so they have nothing to hide behind and put a few of the pads in and hope they settle?
<No. Standard operating procedure here is to remove the fish, redecorate the tank, turn the lights off, put the fish back in, and leave them with the lights off for the rest of the day. Now they'll accept the ornaments as just 'stuff', and without overhead lighting, there are no new shadows to freak them out. With luck they'll accept the new arrangement of stuff as a new part of the river, and stake out their territories as if in a new aquarium.>
My nervousness is that if they get too stressed they may become more likely turn on each other?
<Possibly, but more likely they view the overhead shadow that's suddenly appeared as a predator.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: giant gourami help     5/5/20

Thanks Neale,
The tank lights were on but the room lights were and its only go glass sliders so I guess that would have the same effect.
Practically speaking I can't really take the fish out given their size/weight, however I will take the wood out, leave it for a few hours to settle with the lights off, and then, with the lights still off, I'll add the plants and leave the lights off for the rest of the day ? If you think that may work?
Thanks again
<Sounds like the best you can do. Your goal is to make the fish feel like they're moved into a different part of the river, or at the very least, to accept new ornaments as inanimate objects and not as threats. Give the fish time to accept something is harmless before turning the lights on. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Scotts Fairy Wrasse 2nd try Update 2 (MOVIE link)     5/5/20
Bob, just as I was going to give you update 2, I saw your email and wanted to say, he’s acting like a proper Fairy Wrasse!
Lights are on and he’s out and eating. He’s slowly getting his confidence, he’s chasing the smaller fairies which is great!
Attached a video. Sorry to the back and forth Bob, just want to document this with you and your wonderful site in case someone else goes through these trials with fairy wrasses.
Appreciate your help and advice every time!
<Welcome. BobF>

20 gal Nano... ID     5/5/20
Hello, its been quite a long time since I've emailed for help.
I have a 20 gallon long nano reef tank that has been setup for about year. Currently
all I have in it is some green star polyps, 2 Juvenile Snowflake clowns and a sharknose goby.
Everything was fine until about a month and half ago, I seen this little white, hard, almost calcified
branching (sponge?...Please see photos)
<Maybe; or... polychaete worms, algae, or...?>
in my overflow box. Within in a week I started seeing it on the rocks and the walls of my tank and in my sump. Over the past few weeks, its multiplying like crazy.
It was all over my pumps, reactor, heater, and the walls of my sump too. I tore my sump apart and scraped it off the walls and the equipment, and did a 10 gallon water change.
Also cleaned my overflow box as best as I could. Its still on 2 of the largest rocks in my tank. In my 18
years keeping reef tanks, I've never seen this stuff before. Is it a sponge?
<It might be. Need a closer, better resolved pic>
and how do I get rid of it. Its extremely invasive.
<Either keep removing physically (no fun), try to introduce a competitor, predator...>
Thanks in advance for your help.. and I hope you are staying safe during this pandemic.
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Formalin question     5/5/20
Hi Bob
<Hey Jas>
I hope you are doing well during this crazy time, your in the West Coast hot spot and I’m up here in the East Coast hot spot. Anyway I have a question about Formalin. It’s hard to keep track of what is still legal.
<Been long since abandoned for injecting dead folks here in CA>
It’s been a while since I have used meds on fish. From my understanding formalin and some of the medications that were formulated with it, such as quick cure, are no longer on the market because they have been ban by the FDA.
<Mmm; not entirely as far as I'm aware>
I know Kordon still sells a medication Rid Ich Plus with malachite green and formalin, but from what I understand the concentration of the formalin is considered to be not that effective.
<I do think it is still effective... but dangerous... to aquatic life and humans. Do see/read what we have on record for its use on WetWebMedia.com>
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: velvet in planted tanks with scaleless fish, shrimp, and snails     5/5/20
Thank you, Neale, for your response!
<Most welcome.>
I may have discovered why the velvet never went away!! I spent today netting all the fish out of the 29 gallon. I had to remove most of the plants in order to catch all the fish and as I was removing a large clump of java moss I discovered a Celestial Pearl Danio inside the moss--I haven't had any CPDs in the tank for 10 months at least! (Or so I thought; they were the first species to die off from velvet. I added the Rummy-nose after I had treated the tank, a month after all the CPDs had died.) Turns out, that tank was never truly fish-free, which would explain the velvet persisting.
<It would indeed. Sounds like you have found 'Patient X'.>
Unfortunately, that last CPD was in really bad shape (which probably explains why it was hiding in the moss and I never saw it swimming around.)
It had several large open wounds that were red, with protruding scales around those wounds, and possibly a curved spine--it was difficult to tell if the fish just looked crooked due to the raised swelling of the open wounds. I decided the humane thing to do was to euthanize it. I have read that in the latter stages of velvet, the skin can peel off.
<Potentially. Recall in my last message that I stated how the parasites emerge from the skin, leaving behind tiny lesions? Enough of those is enough to allow secondary infections by opportunistic bacteria (the sort that cause Finrot) and you can indeed end up with fish in a very bad state.>
I'm not sure if the CPD was only in the advanced stages of velvet, or was also suffering from something else. I attached some photos so you can give me your best guess.
<Hard to say. Could be Columnaris, a secondary infection, or something else entirely.>
Now, I'm wondering, should I treat for other diseases in addition to velvet?
<Other than a general antibiotic as per Finrot, I would not treat for anything else. Antibiotics are helpful in situations where the skin is damaged, as with Velvet and Whitespot, especially where fish aren't
recovering quickly. If the fish get over Velvet and Whitespot without signs of damage to the skin, then the antibiotic isn't needed, and to be fair, that's the usual situation. Hence we normally just treat these two diseases on their own. But if you're dealing with multiple deaths, sick-looking fish, or anything else that suggests things are a bit out of hand, an antibiotic may help.>
None of my other fish have the open sores. A few look like they're wasting, a few look possibly bloated (or full of eggs--they are female ember tetras). The few that look emaciated have frayed fins (but no white growth on the fins). Initially I thought velvet would explain all these symptoms, but now I'm not sure. I think I need to treat for bacterial infections now, too.
<I agree, and would use an anti-Finrot medication of some sort, whether an antibiotic or otherwise (eSHa 2000, etc).>
Lastly, could I try the salt method of treating velvet with my plants?
I have mostly java moss, java fern, Anubias, amazon sword, Marimo moss balls, Loma fern, hornwort, and duckweed. (I would be happy for the duckweed to die--it arrived on another plant and has reproduced like crazy!)
<Apart from the Loma Fern, about which I know nothing, none of these plants is sensitive to salt. Indeed, Java fern and Java Moss positively thrive in brackish water. So I'd be perfectly confident about using salt. What I would do, just as a precaution, is take a few cuttings or daughter plants of each, stick them in a suitable container, in case things don't work out.
But I'd not be concerned about most of those plants. Many are widely used in low-end brackish tanks.>
Now that the 29 gal tank is truly free of fish, the velvet will die off over time; however, if there is a secondary bacterial disease, should I assume that disease would not die off?
<Opportunistic bacteria are exactly that -- opportunistic. In healthy tanks they do no harm. Some species are actually part of the ammonification process that breaks down waste organic materials into ammonia that the filter can use. They constantly try to decompose living tissue, but healthy animals and plants can fight this off, whether through a physical barrier (like the mucous layer on the fish's skin) or some sort of immune response (fish have white blood cells and antibodies much like we do). These bacteria are literally ubiquitous. They are everywhere, and you simply cannot exclude them from fish tanks. In other words: don't try and "remove Finrot" from an aquarium because you can't. So long as your fish are
healthy, they will block bacterial infections just as your body does every day without a second thought on your part.>
Do you recommend treating the "plants only" tank with antibiotics?
<Nope. See above. Pointless. All the pathogenic bacteria aquarists deal with (Aeromonas, Pseudomonas, Mycobacteria, etc.) will quickly find their way back into the tank probably within hours of any antibiotic course ending.>
Thank you again for time and expertise! I really appreciate your help!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Betta with Columnaris?     5/5/20
Dear Neale,
Thank you very much for your swift and insightful answer.
<Most welcome.>
I am grateful for your thoughts on Health Canada’s ban on over the counter antibiotics and animal medication. It makes sense, and I feel more at ease with it.
<Glad to help. In hindsight, countries should never have made antibiotics 'over the counter' medications, and while useful to aquarists, this has create a huge headache for modern medicine. The problem is usually the lawmakers tend to wield blunt instruments where science is concerned. Banning non-antibiotic antimicrobials alongside antibiotics is very unhelpful to aquarists and does nothing to help medicine. But it's easier to write a law that "bans fish medicines" than wade through lists of what is or isn't an antibiotic.>
From what I can tell, potassium permanganate, copper sulphate, dyes, and formalin can still be found, but not in pet stores, and cannot be marketed as animal medication.
<Right. Well, there are fish health books that will indicate the concentrations to use, and in the distant past, this is what aquarists did. It's a pain, but do-able.>
I have been trying in vain to get my hand on some eSHa 2000. I have ordered some online from the US, but it will probably not arrive before a few weeks from now. (again, coronavirus lockdowns.. I have ordered stickers for my three year old daughter from a local store over two weeks ago, and they are still « in transit »)
Since I wrote to you, I have been doing sea salt water and methylene blue baths. -I understand it’s not gonna kill the bacteria, but I figured it couldn’t harm, and perhaps prevent fungus to join the party?-.
<Possibly. Seawater-strength dips is an old school solution to problems, and can sometimes help. It's a chemotherapy approach though -- lethal to both parasite and freshwater fish, but we hope the larger fish will survive longer than the smaller parasite.>
It actually seems to be positively calming the Betta. I am also doing frequent 10% water changes, which doesn’t seem to bother him. Thank you for that suggestion.
<Glad it's helping.>
Would you possibly have other suggestions of things to try? I couldn’t find Phenoxyethanol either. From what I understood from a pharmacist, it’s only available online now. If ever I can find some, how would you suggest I use it? one swab daily until improvement?
<According to Andrews et al: bath; 100 mg/litre -- i.e., 50 ml of a 2% solution in 10 litres of water. Phenoxyethanol reacts badly with filter carbon, so make sure you remove carbon from the tank, if used.>
Once again, thank you so much for your time and knowledge.
Sincerely, Jean-Christophe
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Goldfish Dropsy, potential parasitic infection     5/5/20
Another update on the tank, I've continued to do daily water changes (40~50% daily) and replaced the Prazi removed at each change.
<Understood. Normally water changes shouldn't be done during medicating, but if you top them up appropriate for the water removed, this should work out.>
One of the two least affected fish (my bottom sitter with the excess slime) has stopped bottom sitting and has been very active.
Unfortunately, the sickest fish has declined. He spent all of last night bottom sitting with clamped fins. On his back, he's developed these pinprick sized red marks.
<Those sound like infected parasite wounds of some sort, e.g., a secondary infection following Whitespot or Velvet. The photos aren't nearly sharp enough to be able to confirm.>
I've attached a photo of the dropsied fish's back to show the marks (please let me know if you receive it), but they don't show up very well on camera.
Is there anything I should do for him further?
<I would not medicate randomly, but if there is evidence of bacterial infection, the use of a suitable antibiotic (or some other antibacterial medication) may be warranted. The use of salt can help, at 2-3
I will continue using Prazi for at least two more days, then I believe I should start a second round. However, do you recommend doing anything additional for him?
<See above.>
His lethargy and fin clamping worries me a great deal (likewise, I'm very concerned that he's developed tiny wounds on his back) I was honestly surprised when I fed him last night and this morning that he still has quite an appetite.
<Positive, for sure.>
Thanks for any advice! Melissa
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hi there from a fan, setting up my first saltwater reef aquarium.     5/5/20
Hi Bob. I hope everything’s well. I’m still unable to return home due to the mainland having shut its borders (though restrictions are loosening up in some places), so it’s not been great for me.
<Sorry to realize>
Some more good news for me. After calculating how much space I’ve got, I’m actually able to do, guess what, a six-foot tank. It will be 155 gallons, 10 gallons less than my plan for a 5-foot tank but more swimming space is always good for the fish. :)
<As stated previously, "bigger is better"... for 'scaping, livstocking....>
I feel as if these constant delays to me getting my tank up and running are subtly benefiting me. More time for the live rock at my LFS to mature with algae. My LFS told me they’ve got a special tank dedicated to cultivating live rock, and that once their live rock is in my tank my tank will be ready for some organisms within 2 days. Are they being truthful?
<Could be... IF the rock is very/well-cured, transported/moved well into new setting>
I had another look at WWM at marine angelfish, and I have decided I’d really like to get a single Lamarck’s or a pair of the smaller species (Bellus, Watanabei, Spotbreast) once my tank’s been running for around six months. If I cannot find a male from these species, I’d mix two females of different species or one male one female of two species but I’m not sure if that’s safe.
Heard they’re the only completely reef-safe genus of angels as they’re planktivores. How would you rate the hardiness and disease resistance of each Genicanthus species out of 10 (when it comes to angels and when it comes to marine fish in general). I know they’re pretty peaceful as far as marine fish go.
I’m also looking at the Xanthurus Cream Angelfish, from what I know it’s the hardiest of its genus. How would you rate its overall hardiness and disease resistance? What about aggression?
<.... not interested in chatting this over>
Would you say some among the Genicanthus angels and the Xanthurus Cream / Indian Yellowtail make good beginner fish as far as angels go?
Other than that, my other plans remain the same. I’ve given up on a Heniochus butterfly as I thought they’d probably do better in a 7’ tank, which is impossible for me and will be impossible for me for many years to
come. Also thought I’m not confident enough to try any Butterflyfish.
The Stripeys I thought I’d rather collect my own. The dealer who sells them uses natural seawater, which I heard can introduce harmful pathogens. As a beginner I’d rather buy only from my LFS, collect fish on my own, or at
most order online with a wholesaler from the same city.
I plan to feed my fish a mix of frozen, dry, and fresh foods. Live foods aren’t an option and I read from WWM they’re often more harm than good, so I won’t go down that route.
Also, for lighting, I plan to have my lights on 12 hours a day. 11AM-11PM.
Feeding I plan to feed 3-4 times a day, and I will vary the foods I feed.
What is your opinion of refugiums?
<Am a huge fan>
Sorry to bother you with so many questions again. I just want to gather as much knowledge as possible before I can take the plunge.
<As gone over before, first things first... fun to speculate re biota, better to just work on the system at this point. B>


Betta with Columnaris?     5/4/20
Dear WWD experts,
<Possibly over generous...>
I hope this message finds you well.
<It does, thank you.>
I need help with the course of action I should take with my Betta fish. I believe he might have a slow strain of Columnaris:
The first symptoms appeared 3 weeks ago: erratic episodes of swimming and jumping at the surface, gasping for air, then sinking at the bottom breathing heavily, sometimes slowly falling to the side. A couple of days after the episodes began I noticed small discolored streaks next to his left gill. I started daily 30-50% water changes (this seemed to stress him a lot, so I do it now every 2-3 days). (Before I was doing it weekly)
<Good call. Water changes will usually help most situations, but dramatic changes in pH, hardness, and temperature can cause problems. "A little, but often" can work well, if you take 10% off the top of the tank daily, as you'd do if you were rearing baby fish.>
The episodes have become less frequent, but the lesion has been expanding.
<I see this.>
I have been testing the water daily. It has always been very stable (0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, almost 0 nitrates (maybe a tinge of orange on the API freshwater master kit), ph 7.4-7.6, GH 143ppm. Temperature is at 78. The tank is the Fluval Flex 9, with the sponge filter (to which I attached sponges to reduce to flow). Sharing the tank with the Betta are a Nerite zebra snail, an Anubias, an elodea and java fern. The snail was introduced about one week before the episodes began - could it be related? the fish didn’t seem to mind at all..
<Snails, especially Nerites, are unlikely to cause problems to healthy fish. While in theory any 'wet' object moved between tanks can carry external parasites like Whitespot, beyond that snails aren't much of a threat. Nerites in particular are very safe animals.>
I live in Canada where all fish medication and antibiotics are strictly reserved to veterinarians.
<What little I know, the law seems an overreaction. Banning antibiotics except through vets is good science. People absolutely were using antibiotics intended for animals (mostly farm animals) and using them 'under the counter' to treat people. Non-medics and non-vets are not equipped to correctly dose them, and few seem to think about antibiotic resistance, which is an existential threat to modern society (go back to a time before antibiotics and things like C-sections and appendectomies become really, really dangerous). So shutting down the trade in fish antibiotics is unfortunate but ultimately the right move for society at large. But pulling medications based on organic dyes and antimicrobials, such as formalin, copper sulphate, potassium permanganate, etc is just daft because these are in now ways linked to antibiotic resistance. Are these impossible to buy too? In the UK, we don't have access to antibiotics either, but antimicrobials like methylene blue, acriflavine, and so forth are cheap and easily obtained. They are fairly reliable, if less effective than antibiotics when dealing with severe cases.>
(fish stores aren’t even allowed to sell Melafix).
I would have to drive for over an hour to see one, and only emergency appointments can be taken (which cost many hundreds of dollars) as we are in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak..
<Understood. Asking aquarists to visit vets may be scientifically the correct thing, but financially it's never going to happen for 99.9% of the situations where it's relevant. Most people aren't going to spend $100+ on treating a fish that cost $5.>
What would give me the best chance to help the fish?
<Can you obtain non-antibiotics? I'd be trying something like eSHa 2000, which is pretty good for Columnaris.>
I was suggested to swab the lesion with hydrogen peroxide. I’m hesitant doing that. I fear that it would burn his gill.
<H2O2 is a powerful antiseptic, but a fish's skin is very delicate, and slapping on an oxidising agent like H2O2 will, at minimum, be extremely painful and likely to damage the underlying tissues.>
Would salt water baths be a good idea? should I add other agents (methylene blue, malachite green, disinfectants)?
<Salt doesn't reliably cure anything outside of Whitespot and maybe velvet, though 2 g/litre can sometimes help fish out generally and has a mild antibacterial effect according to some sources. Methylene blue is the classic treatment for fungus, but since Columnaris is a bacterium, it's not the best choice. Neither is Malachite green a good antibacterial. Outside of antibiotics and commercial antibacterials (like eSHa 2000) the standard treatment is Phenoxyethanol.>
I want to avoid unnecessary stresses as much as possible. I am not sure if it is indeed Columnaris, since his behavior is still good (no episodes for a few days now), and from the literature I’ve consumed he would probably be very much dead by now..
<Does vary widely. I've seen mild strains that don't really do much for weeks. To be fair, how can we be sure what species is involved? Could be Flexibacter, but could equally easily be something else. It's not like we're doing swabs.>
Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you in advance for your time and expertise.
<Most welcome.>
Cordially, Jean-Christophe
<And likewise to you, au revoir! Neale>

Re: Female Betta behavior     5/4/20
I have Purigen and some cheap carbon that came with the filters themselves, some filter floss, and various sponges and filter floss type things that idk what they even are. What does poly fiber look like compared to filter floss?
<Pretty similar! Poly Filter is simply filter wool that's been impregnated with chemical adsorbents.>
She’s had a round of PraziPro and Levamisole already. She didn’t pass anything.
<So not intestinal worms, then.>
She has the stressed gray chin now but hopefully in her home tank she can just chill. I don’t see her swimming around but she comes when I do. She’s doing a lot of resting on things.
<Curious. Cheers, Neale.>

Scotts Fairy Wrasse 2nd try (MOVIE Link)     5/4/20
Hi Bob and Team;
Hope you are well and safe especially through this pandemic. I recently bought another Scotts Fairy Wrasse. I put it in my observation tank which has a Regal Blue Tang and couple other fish in there for observation before going into the Display.
<Like the tea cups as decor>
Anyway, when I put him in, the regal went straight at him, and bullied him a bit. I immediately put a divider in the tank and separated them.
The next morning, the Wrasse is out now, saw him eating when I fed also. But he looks “off” in terms of swimming. I’m worried he may have injured his spine but it’s not the typical spiraling that usually occurs, so I’m not sure. He could also just be acclimating to his new surroundings.
<Yeah; but I don't like the fish just hanging about in the upper corner>
Please see the video attached and let me know what you think, I know it’s hard to see but when the lights are on he seems to freak out a little so have keep the lights off for the time being.
Thanks Bob and Team.
<I'd expedite this fish through a pH adjusted freshwater bath into your main/display system. Like move it now. Bob Fenner>
Re: Scotts Fairy Wrasse 2nd try     5/4/20

Lol the teacups! They make good hiding places and “class” the place up a little.
<Heee! Hey; it's going on tea time here>
Bob I’m worried about moving him again so fast. I know it’s probably best to do so but my display has some boisterous fish that would probably leave him worse for wear. Especially my tusk, he is pretty gentle but I’ve seen him force his way through a few fish.
<Do you have any place else?>
I decided to do a water change and feed the tank some chopped wild salmon with Selcon and some omega 3 oil.
He ate it like crazy and was all over the tank again.
<A very good sign. DO make sure the top is completely covered. Cirrhilabrus are fabulous jumpers>
Then returned to his spot. This is less than 24hours in the tank. If things don’t turn around soon he’ll be moved.
<Ah good>
I spoke to the LFS that I bought him from, they had him since early Feb and said that when he first got into his tank, he did that same thing...hanging at the top corner.
<Okay; an unnatural behavior though. Would be (quickly) eaten in the wild>
Thanks Bob
<Welcome Anik. BobF>
Re: Scotts Fairy Wrasse 2nd try Update     5/4/20

So he made it through the night fine Bob! Was out and about like normal fairy wrasses this morning with the ambient sunlight for a close by window. He was in an out through the rocks and the teacups (lol).
I turned the lights on and he darted for a hiding spot and hasn’t come out yet. Which I see as proper behaviour for a nervous new fairy wrasse but I’ll defer to your better judgment and experience.
<Should be usually hiding by night, out most of the day>
I remain vigilant, he's not hanging at the top corner anymore! That’s gotta count for something.
Thanks Bob
<Cheers Anik. B>

Velvet in planted tanks with scaleless fish, shrimp, and snails     5/4/20
Hello WetWebMedia Crew,
<Hello Sarah,>
Can you give me some advice on treating freshwater velvet under specific circumstances?
<Can certainly try.>
I currently have two tanks with freshwater velvet. (I diagnosed velvet by turning off the room lights, shining a flashlight on the fish, and observing a gold sheen on most of the fish).
<Understood; and certainly indicative of Velvet.>
The first tank is a 29 gallon, planted tank, with rummy-nose tetras, ember tetras, Kuhli loaches, Nerite snails, and Amano shrimp. The fish in this tank have been slowly dying off over the course of 6 months. Water parameters are all good. I have tried various treatments, including Paraguard and API General Cure (these two were plant/snail/shrimp safe, but apparently not effective, as the velvet came back each time.)
<Velvet is more persistent than Whitespot, but commercial medications should work, even if you do requite a second or third course of treatment.
Do also remember to remove carbon from the filter, if used. Many filters automatically comes with carbon (a cheap way for manufacturers to seemingly add value to otherwise ordinary filters) but carbon removes medications very effectively. Ditto, any other chemical medium, including peat, nitrate remover, zeolite, etc. They're all a bit dodgy when it comes to adding medications.>
Most recently I removed all fish and treated them with Ich-x in a quarantine tank (without carbon filtration) that was 86 degrees and covered that tank with towels to block out all light. I removed the snails to a separate tank with only dwarf shrimp. I raised the temperature in the 29 gallon to 86 for three weeks, removed carbon filtration and added SeaChem's Paraguard (The tank was just plants and shrimp at this point).
<This should have done the trick.>
At the end of the three weeks (and after numerous water changes) the fish in the quarantine tank did not have a gold sheen. I put the fish back in the 29 gallon tank with the plants and shrimp (which also had multiple water changes) and added the snails.
I also bleached all my aquatic equipment: nets, syphons, etc. before, during, and after all treatments.
I thought I had eradicated the velvet, but it came back in the 29 gallon.
It also spread to a 40 gallon tank that contains gold barbs, snakeskin barbs, cherry barbs, zebra loaches, a bristle nose Pleco, and live plants.
<And nothing new was added?>
I would like to save my fish without killing my plants, snails, and shrimp.
Do you have any suggestions?
<Yes; see below.>
I assumed that any velvet that might have been transferred to the dwarf shrimp tank with the Nerite snails wouldn't live for three weeks without any host fish. Was that an accurate assumption?
<Yes; the free-living stage of Velvet (like Whitespot) needs to find a host within a certain amount of time, typically a couple of days to a few hours depending on temperature. Should it fail to do so, the free-living stage dies. So, any snails, shrimps or plants moved to a fish-less aquarium should be parasite-free within X days, with most fish health experts recommending two to three weeks of isolation being ideal. Similarly, and often more easily, if you remove all the fish to a hospital tank, and then leave the main aquarium 'fallow' for 2-3 weeks (adding the odd pinch of food for the filter to work on) by the time you return the fish, the aquarium will be parasite-free. This is the best approach if your tank is nicely planted and has a thriving population of snails and shrimps, neither of which are suitable hosts for the parasite.>
Can shrimp or snails carry velvet?
<No. Any wet object can, of course, carry the free-living stage, so moving a snail or shrimp from an infected tank to a healthy tank can indeed carry the free-living stages. But the shrimp or snail cannot do any more than that, so is no more a risk factor than your hands, a net, a bucket, or any other wet object that might pick up the free-living stages by accident. The actual parasite cannot live in or on the snails or shrimps, so after a few days in a tank without fish, snails and shrimps are effectively parasite-free.>
At what point would you suggest culling everything, bleaching all equipment, and starting over from scratch?
<Not yet! Certainly, removing all the fish from your established tank for two weeks will completely re-set it to its parasite-free condition, and that's surely a heck of a lot easier than stripping it down! The question is what you do with your fish. If you have a 10-20 gallon hospital tank, that would be ideal. But do bear in mind that short term, you can keep fish perfectly well in any watertight container within which you can install a heater and filter. Even large food-safe plastic containers (such as Rubbermaid-branded buckets and crates) will do the trick nicely.>
I'd hate to do that since I have invested hundreds of dollars in these plants, fish etc., but I also don't want to keep buying medicines and doing multiple water changes every day for weeks, only to find the velvet is still there...
<Indeed. Treating Velvet is a chore, but it shouldn't be a nightmare. eSHa EXIT is my medication of choice and usually very reliable. It's tolerated well by most fish, even things like pufferfish, so your collection should be fine. It will be toxic to shrimps and perhaps snails, so one way or another keep them separated. Alternatively, if separating the fish and snails and shrimps isn't viable, you can use salt. The whole "scale-less fish" being allergic to salt is nonsensical (sharks, morays, and pufferfish are all scale-less, but happily live in the sea) but for sure you need to use salt carefully and observe for any signs of stress. The concentration required is at least 2 g/litre, alongside elevating the temperature to maybe 28 C to speed up the life cycle. 2 grams of salt isn't going to stress any kind of tropical fish, even soft water species, so don't panic about using it! Have done this with Neons and Cardinals and it works well.
Remember, the salt doesn't treat the infected fish (there's really nothing you can do about them) but kills the free-living stages. Increasing the temperature speeds up the life cycle, so the parasites infecting the fish mature faster, leave their host, and boo hoo, get killed by the salt. The flip side is that the infected fish now have all sorts of little lesions in their skin. Usually these heal fine (and again, the salt helps a bit here) but do keep your eyes open for things like Finrot. It's very rare in this situation, but can happen. Furthermore, once a fish has been infected, it becomes resistant -- there's some evidence fish have an immune response to Velvet, which is why, like Whitespot, it seems to be related to stress more than anything else.>
I appreciate any advice you can give me.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Female Betta behavior       5/3/20
Yep she has the ovipositor. And it’s her being big and bad when she makes that movement lol. It stopped when I covered her.
<Interesting. So when the tank is dark, she behaves more normally? Neale.>
Re: Female Betta behavior       5/3/20

Well yes and no. She just doesn’t shake around at her reflection. *i think*. Of course i have to try and sneak a peak under the towel and that distracts her too and allows a little light to get in to see herself again. She seems to do it mostly in full light. I guess she is used to it in her tank but it’s new in the QT.
When the tank is dark and/or when I watch her from a distance, she still lets her back end swing around her. She doesn’t act distressed about it. She acts likes she chilling out floating at the pool. But it is getting worse so... my gut told me she has some parasite (I don’t know why - just a feeling) but different parasite treatments showed no change.
<If a worm or fluke, then Praziquantel should help, but if it doesn't, try Flubendazole instead.>
I was going to put her back in the main tank since she seemed no better in the small one and because I have no idea how I would treat her since I have no idea what’s happening. And I am not sure how long the tank will be cycled without her. I’d imagine the nitrifying bacteria it takes for one fish in a 10 gallon wouldn’t be abundant.
Then I realized I hadn’t seen any poop from her since this is bare bottom. So I gave her some boiled shelled pea and now I’ll wait and see. I really wonder if something is going on with my water company. They say no changes but I have guppies in a different tank who have started the shimmies. I do know the parameters haven’t changed and I’m careful to not cross contaminate.
<It's not easy during Lockdown times to go visit pet shops. Ideally, you'd ask to have your water tested for things like copper (which marine aquarium shops can do) because you probably don't have such tests lying around. But what you could do is mail order some chemical media such as Polyfilter that can remove toxins from water. These are widely used in marine aquaria. Carbon is the cheap and cheerful option, and will remove most poisons, including some forms of copper, but there are better (if more expensive) alternatives out there. Either way, carbon or some other chemical media would be stuffed into the filter in the tank or, ideally, put into a separate filter placed in a bucket of freshly drawn tap water and left overnight, so the water is now much safer to use.>
So far my Corys are ok and my outdoor pond fish are doing great. I’ve had all of them for about six years with no losses. Who knows.
<Not I. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Goldfish Dropsy, potential parasitic infection       5/3/20
Hi Neale,
Thanks for the help!
I do a lot of water changes on this tank-- I clean their tank at least five days a week (there was a period where I cleaned them everyday).
I decided to treat with Prazi today to try and rule out flukes (so far all the fish seem fine and are scavenging at the moment). The one with the collapsed mouth is piping up at the top of the water a bit more. All the fish ate happily before I added Prazi to their tank. I noticed the dropsied fish (he's not as swollen or bloated like he was in early March, but again, his scales are still spikey) pooping and it looked like tiny pelleted chunks with stringy bits connecting them. It was white and stringy at the end and there was what looked like a bubble in it. I do have hex shield, which I've never used before, but is a medicated food for internal parasites.
<A treatment for Hexamita; worth a shot, though I don't think this is the issue here. Do read up on the symptoms of this disease (in Goldfish especially) and see if they match your fish.>
I'm going to order lifeguard or formalin later today to have on hand as well.
<Yes; these may well be more useful.>
Regardless, I plan to finish up the Prazi treatment for the next 5~7 days and then reassess.
Thanks again for your time and I appreciate any recommendations!
<Most welcome, and good luck. Neale.>

Re: Female Betta behavior      5/2/20
This morning she is kinda flopping when she swims. I’ve kinda accepted that I’m gonna lose her but I won’t euthanize just yet.
<Sorry to hear this. If necessary, let me suggest some reading, here:
Bettas cause problems because they are air-breathers, so suffocation using CO2 isn't ideal. Clove Oil should work fine, if you hold them down. Regards, Neale.>
Re: Female Betta behavior      5/2/20

I put her in a smaller tank so I could have it bare bottom and she is basically flipping her back half around like she was paralyzed. So weird.
<Cannot explain this. Poisoning is possible, and if involving heavy metals, unlikely to improve. Bettas are more or less annual fish in the wild, so if you've had this girl more than six months or so (they're about six months when big enough to sell) she may just be a short-lived specimen. For sure they can live 3-5 years in captivity, but there's a lot of variation, and anything over 18 months after purchase is venerable compared to wild specimens. So please don't beat yourself up over this. I think you're doing your best, the tank looks great, the heating and filtering are spot-on, so there's really little beyond bad luck or bad genes you can blame here. I don't see any obvious pathogens or parasites. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Female Betta behavior      5/2/20

Yes I have clove oil in my fish medicine cabinet. Thank you again. You’re very patient and kind.
<And that's kind of you to say so. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Female Betta behavior      5/2/20

I know I keep bothering you. I’m sorry. Please tell me when I’m overstepping I just don’t want to give up so easily. She looks perfect so maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time. I have lots of fish, but I’m extra attached to her. She now seems like she’s trying to shake something off? This is new just in the past hour or so. I changed the water but no change. And opens her mouth more than I ever noticed almost like an animal trying to catch flies. Is the shaking how female Bettas flare? Maybe she’s seeing her reflection in a new way in the QT. Grasping at straws.
<Understood. Yes, that shaking could be an aggressive reaction to her own reflection. Try grabbing a small mirror and hold it up to her. Does she do the same thing? Does she settle down if you cover the tank with a blanket to darken it? Are you sure she's a female and not a short-finned male Betta? Females usually have a small white speck (the ovipositor) visible in front of the anal fin, but otherwise the two sexes can look very similar. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish Dropsy, potential parasitic infection      5/2/20
First, I'd like to apologize for the length, a lot has happened in my tank the last few months and I don't want to leave any potentially pertinent details out.
<Got you.>
Some background:
I have three 4~4.5" goldfish in a 55 gallon tank.
I'm currently using a Fluval FX4 canister and a sponge filter in the aquarium
<A good filter.>
I've had all the fish for about 10 months (they had a fourth tank mate who died from dropsy back in September two months after I got him) I got them all at the same time and haven't added new fish to the tank. (I do have a Betta tank and although I try to avoid using the same equipment, accidental cross contamination could've happened)
I do 35~45% water changes five to six days a week (I set the water out 24 hours before).
They have a heater so their water stays at 72 degrees.
Ammonia is 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate less than 5 ppm.
<All sounds fine, though I am by nature skeptical of very low nitrate levels -- these are virtually impossible in moderately stocked aquaria with messy fish in them, unless you're doing a ton of water changes and/or have very fast growing plants.>
The most affected fish developed dropsy about two months ago (underwent treatment with MetroPlex, KanaPlex, and Epsom salt baths). I assumed the dropsy was tied to a bacterial infection brought on by a cycle crash (I got a positive ammonia test, he developed ammonia burns on his chin which have now healed). The bloating decreased notably after treatment although his scales still have a spikey appearance. I've been contemplating doing another round of treatment, but hesitated for risk of damaging him further.
<Does indeed sound like Dropsy, but Dropsy is a symptom, not a disease.
It's like a fever or runny nose in a human. Can mean all kinds of things.>
He started developing issues with his swim bladder after eating (I fed new life spectrum pellets), I switched him over to eating gel food which has helped. I've been soaking their food/peas/spinach in garlic prior to feeding.
<Ah, good.>
Unfortunately, about five days ago the fish developed a collapsed mouth seemingly over night. (His right top lip folds under his lower lip) I know this can't be cured, but he can still eat fine. I'm mostly concerned about what caused it to develop. Likewise, I know the prognosis for dropsy is bad, but I'd still like to give him as much of a fighting chance as possible (especially considering he's hung in this long already).
<Dropsy isn't so much a death sentence as a symptom of some serious problem. If the problem can be turned around, then fish can and do recover.
Seen it myself. But if the Dropsy is caused by irreversible damage to the internal organs, then yes indeed, the fish usually winds up dead.>
I'm not sure which of these details about his tankmates are relevant, but I'm including them in case: I noticed a white-ish, slimy coating on him and one of the other fish on April 6th (it went away after I did a water change and it hasn't happened again, I thought it could be excess slime coat being produced). I'll attach a picture of it on the other fish should you think it'd be helpful to see.
<White slime is, again, not specific but a general reaction to irritation of the skin. It can mean water chemistry or water quality problems, it can mean certain ciliate protozoans (Costia being perhaps the best known), or certain sorts of external worm type parasites often called 'flukes'. So it has to checked against other symptoms. If the fish are stressed and 'flashing' against solid objects, then ciliate protozoans are very likely the problem. Flukes may be present at non-dangerous levels on many fish,
only to flare up when the fish become stressed, and diagnosing such outbreaks is hard because they're a lot like Costia in terms of slime and flashing, but you're also likely to see some redness and damage to the skin or fins. Ultimately only sampling the mucous and examining under a microscope is going to nail the problem for certain.>
Right before the fish developed dropsy, the tank light had been off for a few weeks (I was waiting for a replacement) in that time the third fish, who was orange and white, slowly started turning white. She's now completely changed color. I noticed redness on the base of her caudal fin that concerned me, however her vent is not inflamed. I haven't been able to get a great picture, but today it's looking more pink as opposed to red.
<Redness on the skin tends to imply either inflammation or damage to the blood vessels in the skin. Either way, bacterial infections are often the cause, as with incipient Finrot, but not always.>
I'm wondering if these symptoms could be caused by flukes or another parasite (the white coating, redness at a tail joint, and the collapsed mouth) and if I should be medicating their tank?
<Flukes can certainly cause irritation of the skin, and if you're seeing redness and mucous, they're a reasonable bet.>
None of the fish are clamping their fins or flashing like I'd expect; however the second fish does sit on the bottom of the tank sometimes.
Likewise, the most sickly of the fish (the one with dropsy and the collapsed mouth) sat on the bottom last night once the light went off. I've noticed him hanging close to the bottom even if he's not sitting and
floating mid-level instead of scavenging this afternoon. This behavior concerns me a great deal as he's normally a very active fish.
<Indeed, but of course this sort of lethargy isn't unusual for all sorts of diseases, so doesn't really pin anything down.>
On occasion the fish will shoot up to the surface to gasp, but this normally occurs after I've added prime to their tank.
I'm looking for another opinion about what might be going on and what I should do. I don't know if I should treat the entire tank for flukes/parasites or if I should put him back on antibiotics.
<I would not assume a bacterial infection as such, and in any event: if the antibiotic used didn't work, you should try some other antibiotic anyways. Remember: each antibiotic is best against a certain category of bacteria (the old Gram Positive and Gram Negative divisions being the best known)
and the reason medical doctors don't all rely on penicillin for everything is that you really do need a specific antibiotic for a particular bacterium species. Repeating the same antibiotic is simply re-doing something you already know doesn't work. Some aquarists use combinations, such as Maracyn 2 and Maracyn Plus, simultaneously because these cover a wide range of bacteria without the danger of running one medicine, seeing the fish not get better, and then not having time enough to run another medicine.>
I have some PraziPro on hand (however it's been opened and is a few months old... I don't know when it expires) I also have unopened new life spectrum hex shield medicated food.
<Praziquantel can be good against flukes, but does sometimes need to be run a second time to shift persistent cases. It's one of the less effective anthelminthic drugs. Of course if we're dealing with Costia, or what is properly called Ichthyobodo, then a specific anti-Slime Disease medicine is what you need, such as Formalin or Tetra Lifeguard.>
I've attached a picture of the white sheen from April 6th (again, this went away same day after I cleaned their tank)
<I see this.>
Please let me know if you'd like any other pictures or videos. Thanks for your time and for any help!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: E. Pac. Nems, now pH boosting       4/30/20
Thanks for the pointers. I have dosed a lot of Dr. Tim’s one and only and a lot of Microbacter7. I'll certainly add in some Seachem Stability as well.
<Do add this last when you do your regular water changes, pre-mixed>
Do you think that will have an effect on ph?
<Oh, yes; should boost over time. A little higher each water change, then dropping some... then up.>
What do you think of dosing sodium carbonate?
<The SeaChem product should be fine alone. You could add both though. Bob Fenner>

Female Betta behavior (Movie Link)      4/30/20
Hi. I have a female Betta in a cycled 10 gallon. I’ve had her since November 2019. She has been doing great - beautiful bright coloration, no fin rot and full of energy.
Lately, she has been doing this strange curling movement when she swims. She will stop midswim and then she will bend her body into a shape that resembles the letter j.
<Let's discount all the obvious things. Is the tank filtered and heated? Both of these are essential with Bettas, but alas, some retailers tell people they aren't needed. You mention the tank is cycled, so I'm guessing it's filtered, but let's just be clear. Likewise, heat. Bettas are sensitive to cold. Next up, Bettas are labyrinth fish, and more sensitive to airborne pollutants than those types of fish that don't breathe air. Cleaning products, paint fumes, and other types of solvents can be easily absorbed by Bettas and just as with humans, there's the risk of stress, discomfort, even nerve damage and death, depending on the type of solvent. Next up, diet. Bettas can live long and happy lives on good quality flake and pellets, but in truth they're a little prone to constipation when kept on such foods. Fish do require roughage and exercise to properly empty their digestive tracts (much like humans!) and while 10 gallons should be enough space for swimming, the addition of fibre-containing foods will help with constipation. Symptoms vary, but can include unnatural swimming, bloating, lethargy, etc. Cooked peas are the ideal fibre-rich foods, but Bettas don't always go for them. Live or frozen Daphnia and Brine shrimp also work well. Epsom salt is frequently used as a laxative alongside these foods, but probably isn't necessary except where obvious swelling is present.>
Her top part stays straight, but her tail will curve around her, or rather she brings it around deliberately (it seems). She doesn’t leave it that way. She will straighten it back out and continuing swimming. Sometimes she uses the curve shape to propel herself into darting.
She is behaving pretty much normally and eating happily. She seems to be a little less active possibly and hiding a little more but she is still curious and comes to see me when I come to the tank.
The frequency of this movement is increasing and I’ve never seen anything like this in my years the hobby.
Any ideas?
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Female Betta behavior      4/30/20

Hi again. Yes she has a filter and heater (79 degrees). She is fed 4x a week. Omega one flakes, freeze dried daphnia (nowhere to get fresh or frozen here), bug bites, sometimes those instant brine shrimp eggs.
<I would avoid freeze-dried Daphnia, as freeze-dried critter-type foods do seem to be associated with constipation. At the very least, soak beforehand. Frozen foods infinitely better, though I don't find many fish like frozen Daphnia that much. They do happily take frozen Brine shrimp though! If you have access to the eggs, hatch before use -- feeding them "as is" doesn't make much sense.>
She doesn’t look bloated and does not struggle to swim.
She stays upright but does look a little floaty. She kind of acts a little tired. She rests on her plants more than she used to. My gut just tells me this is not ok but I have no idea where to even start if treatment is needed. I can’t seem to get a pic of her because she hates the camera. I’m sure I can get a video. So when I went to get a video, I noticed she keeps going to the bottom head first, tail up, and not touching but just hovering that way for a while and then straightens herself and goes about her business.
<Constipation is quite common in Bettas and worth considering. Watching your video, your fish looks like she's struggling to swim -- I wonder if the filter is too strong? Try switching it off for 10 minutes and see if she behaves differently. There's nothing obvious to me in your video, and the symptoms are kinda generic, so don't really help much. I'd run through the obvious environment checks (ammonia, nitrite, etc.) and review diet as mentioned. Beyond that, you could start looking for more useful symptoms. Do you see any sign of worms? (Example: red threads from the vent.) Do you see evidence of external parasites? (E.g., unusual amounts of mucous.) Is breathing laboured or does she 'flash' against leaves? That can indicate gill parasites such as Velvet.>
She’s deteriorated just since this morning.
<Sorry can't be more help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: giant gourami help      4/30/20
Hi Neale,
Thanks again - I really appreciate all of your help and advice and the time you take to send thorough replies.
<Most welcome.>
Keep well and I'll keep you updated on how I get on.
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>

Hello! I have an adf with a blister(?) on her back foot.       4/30/20
Any idea what it is and how to treat it?
<Going to direct you to some reading, here: http://www.xenopus.com/disease.htm
I'd be going with 'Red Leg' at the top, and treating with the antibiotics mentioned, Tetracycline, Maracyn II, or Maracyn Plus. These infections deteriorate very quickly, so treat promptly. Do also think about what caused the damage. Cheers, Neale.>

Juv black tang hybrids      4/30/20
Hey guys
<Hey Tom>
sorry to bother you this late at night but seeing if you guys have any information on how juvenile black tangs look vs hybrids
We’re talking 2” in size
<It’s hard to tell the difference at this stage since they look pretty much alike when very young. At an older age, the Z. rostratum will develop its characteristic long snout; color is another way to differentiate them, black tangs have a bluish black hue while hybrids may even show some subtle vertical stripes on its body. Hope this helps. Wil.>

Re: Blue Angel      4/29/20
Hi, thank you so much for this info. I will keep you posted. Stay Safe
<Most welcome, and take care. Neale.>

giant gourami help      4/29/20
Hi Neale, I hope you are safe, well and managing in these current bizarre times.
<All good, thanks.>
I was hoping you could help with some advice...
<Can certainly try.>
I have a 2000 Litre 7ft by 4ft setup which currently house 3 Giant Gourami (fully grown at 18 -24 inches each) and a 20 inch red tail catfish.

<That's a big tank, but....
Please note before reading ahead...
I know most serious aquarists roll their eyes when they hear of people keeping these size fish... however my reason for keeping Giant Gourami was inspired by an article about a year ago in practical fishkeeping.
<Oh, don't get me wrong: they're both fine species, and Giant Gouramis especially can make very intelligent pets. They to tend to become intolerant of their own kind as they age, but if yours are cohabiting, that's great -- but do keep an eye on them.>
As background, I had on order my big custom tank that I had intended to keep a MBU pufferfish however having read the article on PFK I was inspired to keep the giant gourami and based on information in the article and other online information felt that my tank would be adequate sized for a group of 3.
<For the Gouramis, quite possibly. But the RTC really will consume insane amounts of space, and even 2000 litres (530 US gallons) and it's really hard to say any domestic aquarium is really suitable.>
All 3 were rehomed from smaller tanks and I have now had them about 8 months. They are in general doing great, they get along great and eat well and are fairly active (gliding through the water quite gracefully - amazing creatures to watch!)
On the red tail, I am aware that once he reaches over 2 foot I will need to rehome him and I already have somebody local lined up that has an indoor tropical pond that would make an excellent home for him and he is happy to take him when he outgrows my tank. I made contact with him before I bought the red tail so I knew I would have a rehome option.
<Great! Sounds like you do indeed have a good plan in place.>
Other background info on the tank:
<Fire away.>
Has an internal built in filter (more like an internal sump, 50kg of bio media and an 8000 lph pump), I use 3 x 300 watt Visitherm heaters, I have an auto water change system that changes 5% every 6 hours. It has sand substrate and one big piece of wood in the corner. I feed them a mixture of fruit / veg and a mostly veg based koi pellet as a staple. They get fed twice a day. The tank is based in my (insulated) garage, so they often are by themselves but I do spent 2 or 3 times a day a good 10-20 min.s with them and often in the evening I'll be in there for an hour or so.
I have 2 queries that I was hoping you could help with:
1. They recently have seemed a bit 'skittish' on occasion. Not sure what causes it but they will all get a shock and swim to all different sides of the tank, it often seems to start with the biggest one. I don't think it is seeing me that stresses them out as they always swim to me for food. These 'incidents' usually happen at meal times, however I know it happens at other times as there has been 2 occasions in the past month where I have gone in and there is water all over the floor which seems to happen when they are skittish - big fish cause big splashes!! ( Note I always leave the glass sliders slightly open). Is there anything I can do to reduce this? Any idea what causes this?
<Big fish tend to be skittish simply by being confined. In the wild their main defence is going to be getting out of range, and given their size and the predators chasing them, that means swimming a fair old distance in a hurry! Now, if we're talking tetras in a community tank, a few body lengths will take them into the plastic plants. But for a Giant Gourami, a few body lengths is several metres, and the fish knows it can't do that once it's established the size of the tank (which they can judge to some degree with their lateral line system). So they're like soldiers out in the open, without any cover. There are some things you can do. The obvious is provide cover! Floating plants, or at least, plants with leaves at the surface, will help a lot. Large hollow logs and other such ornaments that catfish can physically get inside are another useful addition. You also need to think about light and sound. Do the lights come on suddenly or gradually? Are there sources of loud sounds (or vibrations) nearby, like when doors open or close? Finally, if the fish feel cramped, they will be skittish. Not much you can do about that short of thinning out the herd and/or moving the Red Tail Cat on.>
Linked to this is that a couple of times when this has happened they have hurt themselves on the wood (only small little cuts, but I am afraid it could be worse if it was their eye next time!) - should I take the piece of wood out?
<See above. I'd not have anything in the tank the fish could hide in or under. Maximum water volume is the goal here, but with ornamentation used to provide shade and shelter.>
1. Whilst the garage is insulated, without going into too much detail, I did not research the insulation side of things enough before preparing for my big tank and the insulation is inadequate. Although last summer when the tank first arrived I only needed 2 x 300 watt heaters, the winter was obviously a different story. Even with 3 x 300 watt Visitherm heaters, there have been times in the winter I needed to use an oil radiator 24/7 to keep the temp at only 23 degrees leading to electricity bills north of £400 a month!
<Yowsers! Do have a look at silvered bubble wrap. This stuff is amazing, and can be used to cover all but the front pane of glass. It'll do a great job of insulation. I use it to keep a tank cool, and the tank is on a windowsill, and I'm amazed how effective it can be.>
I didn't expect it would be cheap to maintain these fish and I am fully committed, however I am looking to see if I can plan things better for next winter. I am going to try and add further insulation but for one reason or another there is limited options on that.
<Sure. See above. Do also think about how heat escapes: primarily conduction (i.e., through the floor of the tank, if the floor is uninsulated and cold); secondly convection (through the sides and top as heat escapes into the air); and lastly radiation (infrared light into the surroundings). Styrofoam is a great insulator, and has been used to 'pack' the sides and tops of tanks, and alongside the silver bubble wrap (used for things like mail ordered frozen goods) will do a lot to keep the heat in.>
My question was around, I am thinking of upgrading to a DD titanium heater / thermostat. I understand that I can run 2 heaters off one thermostat. My plan is to buy 2 x 600 watt heaters. One for the summer and 2 in the winter. Whilst technically 600 watts of a DD titanium heater should work the same as 600 watts of a Visitherm heaters, are the better quality/more expensive heaters work better? Or would this be just a waste of money? Is there any other suggestions you can make on how to heat the water more efficiently?
<See above. Ultimately, adding extra heaters will work, but if you're losing heat to the cold air and flooring, those heaters will be burning through the electricity, so insulation is a really good idea.>
If it helps - please note that the 3 heaters have been set at 27 degrees all winter but the water has struggled to get above 23 degrees.
<To some extent, a few weeks at 22 C will do neither species any harm, and indeed, some seasonality is beneficial. Neither will handle much below that for long, but 22-23 C for the wintertime is not a concern.>
Thank you in advance
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: giant gourami help      4/29/20

Hi Neale
Thank you for your detailed and informative reply.
<Most welcome.>
Just to check - they sometimes hide behind the wood - but I am better off removing this in favour of increasing water volume (and avoid injury risk) but ensure I replace with something like floating plants for them?
<Hiding under something is better than hiding behind something. Large ceramic pipes (of the sort you'd use for sewerage, as sold at places like Wickes) or large flower pots (from garden centres) are commonly used for large catfish. If the catfish is wedging itself between some wood and the glass, that will feel less secure to him.>
Please can you suggest any good floating plants?
<Giant Gouramis are somewhat herbivorous, so this might be tricky. I'd try out a variety and see what works. Amazon Frogbit and floating Indian Fern are my two favourites, but even plain old Duckweed can be useful. In really big tanks with strong lighting, a good choice can be pond lilies. These will likely need to be potted in their own container to protect them, but they're robust enough that, once settled, catfish and Gouramis can't do any harm. The big lily-pad leaves provide great cover. True floating pond
plants can work too, including Water Hyacinth, which doesn't need potting and produces lovely flowers.>
Ideally plastic as this will fare better with the fast flow rate?
<So far as plastic plants go, all sorts are good options. I'd tend to avoid anything with fluffy leaves like fake Cabomba because these are harder to clean.>
Thank you again
<Welcome, Neale.>
Re: giant gourami help      4/29/20

Thanks Neale,
I will work on finding the right plants and also insulation options. Thank you again for your help.
<Not a problem.>
In terms of insulation, if I plan to cover the entire top of the tank with a layer of silver bubble wrap and Styrofoam - do I need to be concerned with a gap for air with the gourami being surface breathers?
<Realistically, no. Unless you seal it up tight as a drum, plenty enough air will get in. Just make sure you leave an inch or so gap around the edges so *some* air can move in and out. You're not trying to stop air flow, just cut down the convection currents.>
The current lid is glass sliders and the water level is usually a few inches below to give them a gap. I would add a big air pump and air lines into the tank, but I guess oxygenate water would not help the gourami?
<You do want a few inches gap between the glass lid and the waterline, yes.
Adding an airstone would, of course, help aerate the water -- but it'd also be pulling cold air into the warm water, and unless your tank is overstocked, an airstone isn't really necessary. Normal water circulation via the filter should provide sufficient aeration as water moves across the surface of the tank.>
I am thinking of fitting some elastic to silver bubble wrap as a way of securing that as a lid and include a layer of Styrofoam between that and the tank..
<Yep. Take a look at what people do to insulate greenhouses and you'll get the general idea. So long as you're covering the sides and back, got the tank on an insulated floor of some sort, and cover 90% of the hood (leaving 10% for air to get in/out) you should find you will dramatically reduce energy costs.>
Thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tumor Cichlid      4/29/20
Thank-you so much for the information!
I checked his water and the PH was 8.2 - Ammonia 0 - Nitrite 0 - Nitrate was 40.
<A significant risk factor, nitrate, when it comes to cichlids. So should be kept lower.>
I'll do a water change tonight.
He had a small bm yesterday. If he's had more I didn't see. I'm sending another pic - he's the bottom fish - it shows how big the lump has gotten- a lot bigger than just 2 days ago! (darker brown too). I'm going to catch him and feel his lump when I do the water change after a bit. I'll try the
Epsom salts too. He acts 'normal' like he feels good and all!
<If he's feeding normally, and swimming about, you might be lucky for a while. But looking at the size of the swelling, I'm not optimistic in the long term. See if the Epsom salts help, though. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: advice on sick Oscar       4/28/20
Hi Neale,
Apologies on the nitrate i checked with the guy who came to do my water test (i don't have my own kit usually take water to LFS but we're on lockdown so I'm stuck) and he didn't test any nitrates as he didn't have the kit.
He confirmed pH 7 and nitrite 0. In typing this email to you, my fish sadly passed away this morning ��
<I am sad to hear this.>
I think all the treatments and 3 weeks of no food and just the stress of being sick took it's toll.
<Certainly sounds like it. In the meantime, stay safe and be well, Neale.>

Blue Face Trigger Fish       4/28/20
Good Day,
<Hi Adrian>
I recently came across your website seeking answers.
<I hope you find them>
I have a part of my question answered by the community blogs, however I would like specific answer for my issues. I have a 50 gallon tank from Waterbox.
The tank contains, 3 tangs,
<Which species/size?>
2 clown fish, a cleaning crew which consists of snails, blood shrimp, peppermint shrimp and cleaner shrimp, hammer coral, torches and a few hard coral.
The water parameters are 78 degrees, Alkalinity is between 8 and 8.5, Calcium is between 480-465,<A bit high> nitrites are zero, nitrates are at .10 ppm based on my over feeding and I have a bio-pellet reactor to help. The ammonia was at .25 ppm but I did a 50% water change to help this and the salinity is at a consistent 33 ppm but got up to 36 recently.
<Could you tell more about your filtration and water circulation?>
The issue I'm having with a male blue face trigger. He's been a member of the tank for about a month and he is the only trigger in the tank. He started off with a great appetite but now he has stop eating and hides in the rocks. He has some dis-coloration in his face but reading the message board, he possibly got stung by something.
<Could be the case...¿have you noticed the presence of Polychaetes worms in your tank?>
What are my options for this trigger?
<If it got stung, it should heal on its own.>
I have also read it's possibly a digestive parasite or his teeth are over-grown?
<I don’t think this is a parasite issue, neither the overgrown teeth possibility, I suspect more of your water quality, try to keep ammonia levels at zero and watch the trigger for the next days to see if it resumes feeding.>
<You’re welcome. Wil.>
Re: Blue Face Trigger Fish       4/28/20

Thanks for returning my email quickly.
I have a yellow, sail and Scopus tang. My return pump is a Hydor universal pump and I have ice cap 3k flow pump. I checked the parameters of my water and they are good.
The trigger most likely will not make it as he can't swim upright, arms paralyzed, and is just riding the flow pump.
<Oh, sorry to hear that, it was likely poisoned by whatever that has stung it, nothing much to be done at this point. Wil.>
I do water changes weekly and change filter socks. My skimmer is also an ice cap nano. I have not seen any worms.
<<WAY overcrowded... RMF>>

Polyps? ID, control       4/28/20
These pesky bluish polyp-y things are taking over the rocks in my tank, and killing off some of my SPS. Any idea what this is and how to rid my tank of it?
<These appear to be Clove polyps, a very invasive species and very hard to eradicate once it has overgrown your tank, sometimes requiring tearing down the whole system. There are several suggested methods to deal with these
Clavulariids, such as: vinegar, Aiptasia X, Kalkwasser, tuxedo urchins, and Fenbendazole (canine dewormer), this last has proven to be the most effective of the above, the main drawback is that it is too risky to treat the entire tank with this anti parasitic as it may kill other desirable corals; the best approach is to remove the invaded rocks and treat them separately, do bear in mind that none of the mentioned options guarantees 100% effectiveness, but are worth trying since clove polyps may end up killing other desirable corals. Hope this helps. Wil.>

Tumor Cichlid      4/27/20
Hello- My yellow lab has a very swollen belly over the past week or so with a darkening patch behind it towards his tail. At first I thought it was Malawi bloat, but he acts normal and hasn’t lost his appetite. The swelling and darkness is more pronounced on his right hand side, which unfortunately my pic does not show. I’m terrible when it comes to pics. I can try to take another. He’s 10 years old and the tank water (65 gal.), checks out fine. My guess is he has a tumor and the dark patch is blood. Could this be what’s wrong? I’ll take another pi and send it because it’s worse today. Thank-you-Lisa
<Hi Lisa. Forgive me simply restating what I said yesterday about an Angelfish in the similar situation. "Does appear to be a tumour, but whether benign or cancerous impossible to say. You could lift the fish out gentle with a net, and using wet hands, just feel the lump very, very gently. If it 'gives' easily, it could be a fluid build-up, what is properly called oedema, but widely known as Dropsy. Normally this happens around the abdomen, but can happen elsewhere. The use of Epsom Salt in the water (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) can help, along with a suitable antibiotic. But if the lump feels more or less solid, then it's a cyst for sure. Be sure not to apply any pressure anywhere other than on muscles -- pushing down on the abdomen (bottom half of the fish between the head and the vent) can damage the internal organs and kill the fish. Benign cysts are not lethal unless they obstruct an important organ or blood vessel." Elsewhere, I said, "In some situations these benign cysts clear up by themselves, perhaps triggered by a bacterial or viral infection, but more often they're permanent, and perhaps genetic more than anything else. The more inbred fish are certainly more prone to them than wild-type fish, so you do tend see them in things like Goldfish, Koi, Bettas and fancy Angels and Guppies. If the tumour is malignant, there's no real treatment nor much hope. Thankfully, such tumours are rare in tropical fish. But if you did see the fish obviously suffering, then humanely destroying it would be best (the Clove Oil method is safe, cheap and easy to use). Incidentally, vets can remove cysts and tumours from tropical fish, but it's usually only practical and cost-effective for things like Koi. Up to a point, optimising water conditions will certainly help generally, and a healthy fish is one more able to use its immune system to deal with problems. But benign cysts tend to be very persistent, though they do, sometimes, subside themselves (indicating, perhaps, a viral or bacterial component). It's really more about ensuring the Angelfish is able to swim about and behave normally. If it can, then I wouldn't be overly concerned." Unlike yesterday's question, where the swelling was obviously behind the vent, your fish seems to have the swelling in the abdomen in front of the vent, which is MUCH more alarming. If the swelling blocks important passageways, like the digestive tract, your fish will quickly begin to suffer. So do keep an eye on it, and in particular, check that it's feeding and defecating normally. Hope that's useful, and I'd also keep your mind open about water chemistry (I'm a cynic when anyone says the aquarium is 'fine' but doesn't give me any parameters). For Yellow Labs, and Mbuna generally, you're after high oxygen levels (these are almost surf zone fish) and water that is hard and alkaline (15+ degrees dH, pH 8). Crucially, they're very sensitive to nitrate, and that should certainly be below 40 mg/l and ideally lower than 20 mg/l. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Corydoras slowly dying off one by one, no one has answers.      4/27/20
Hello! I apologize for not responding sooner, I did not see that you had posted a response until today.
<Curious; you should have received a copy of my response in your email box.
Maybe check the spam folder?>
First I'll answer the questions and concerns that were brought up.
To begin, the water movement. There's a good amount of flow all throughout the tank. All of the plants in the tank sway gently from the water current, including the low laying plants and their roots. Sinking foods roll around across the substrate during feeding times.
Sometimes I feel like it's too much flow! But I decided to do the flake test anyway as you suggested. I tried it out in several spots, and the results were about the same. Most of it was immediately whisked up by the
current, and the pieces that did stay on the bottom flapped and rolled around. That is, until the Cories ate them.
<All sounds fine.>
I also have both a sponge filter and an airstone going at a strong pace, so there's plenty of oxygen. They do surface for air on occasion, but I wouldn't consider it excessive at all. I'd say maybe 1-3 of them out of the
16 total will surface in the period of an hour.
And they don't stay at the surface either, they dart up for a quick gulp and then right back down.
For the substrate, it's CaribSea Peace River gravel. I actually have Black Diamond Blasting Sand purchased because I want to switch it out, I find the gravel ugly and my Cories will appreciate sand.
<Blasting sounds like sharp sand. I'd be leery of using that with any bottom-dwelling fish.>
But I've been worried about the stress it would cause them. If you think it would be beneficial to do it now, I will go ahead and switch it next weekend. There isn't any dirt, root tabs, or anything else in the
substrate. I never see gas bubbles, and the substrate is pretty thin. (I didn't buy enough originally, part of why I want to change it.) I do use Aquarium Co-op Easygreen liquid Fertilizer, but my Cories were having
issues even during periods when I didn't use it. I've also never heard of anyone having a problem with fish related to this fertilizer, it's a pretty mild fertilizer. No copper in it or anything. I might stop using it
temporarily though just as a hail Mary.
<Understood, and a wise approach. Plants will go months without fertiliser, and even switching off CO2 fertilisation, if used, can be useful if you're trying to figure out an underlying fish health problem.>
My test kit is the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. 2 years off from expiring. I've previously checked it using my tap water and test strips to compare, and it seems to be accurate.
I was surprised to hear that my water is too warm for the Peppered Cories.
Most resources seem to point to 78 degrees as the maximum temperature they can be at.
<Maximum, sure; but bear in mind that's a range, and in the wild they're be experiencing much cooler winters. They're a subtropical, not tropical, fish, from a more southerly part of South America than the usual Corydoras species we keep as pets. While they're extremely tough, if you're having health problems, it makes sense to ask yourself: Am I doing anything to them that isn't within their normal tolerances? Might be temperature, water chemistry, even diet.>
But the Peppered Cories haven't had any problems at all. I also should have clarified, it only reaches 76 during the hottest months of the year, when the ambient temperature in the house goes up. It's at 74 degrees for the majority of the year.
One weird new thing, I've noticed all of my fish (not just the Bronze Cories) have been flashing on occasion. Not exclusively, but I usually never see that behavior, so it's odd. Only change to the tank is that I
added a piece of Mopani driftwood in last week. It was boiled, allowed to dry, soaked for several weeks, and allowed to dry again before being added.
Hasn't leached much tannins at all and hasn't really changed the pH. All tests came out normal, in the range I described in my first post. I've never seen it in the previously sick Cories either.
<If the Mopani is from a reputable source, i.e., an aquarium shop, it should be fine. Bogwood bought off eBay tends to be a bit hit-and-miss, though. Collecting your own wood, while do-able (I certainly do use locally
collected wood at times) always carries a risk. If in doubt, remove.>
I'll increase the oxygen and do a large water change today, just in case.
This is so frustrating. It feels like the more I care about this tank, the more time and attention I give it, the worse things get. I do so much research, I love helping others who have problems or questions. But when it comes to my own tank I feel like a complete failure.
<Sometimes, I suggest to people they just accept certain fish species don't work for them. It might be their tank size, their local water, the way they maintain the tank. Who knows? But whatever. If one Corydoras species does fine for you, but the other doesn't, then don't bother keeping the difficult ones. If midwater fish are happy as Larry, but the catfish are struggling, then maybe don't bother keeping catfish for now. I know that isn't a very satisfying answer, but fishkeeping isn't a competitive sport, and if it isn't fun, what's the point? The alternative is this: Strip the tank down to bare basics. Remove everything but clean washed gravel, the filter, the water, and the fish. Perhaps a few floating plants or plastic ornaments for shade. But basically a bare-bones system. See what happens now. Remove anything messy, stir and clean the gravel, optimise the filter.
Leave it running a few days or weeks. Do the fish look better now? Then start rebuilding the tank you want, but using new rocks, wood, and plants -- or at least being a lot more selective about what you add, to minimise the risk of contamination. Ask yourself each time you put something in the tank: does this look safe? Rocks can have metal seams, bogwood can be decaying. Plants are usually fine, and while they don't like being uprooted to a bucket of water for a few days, they should survive.>
- Adam
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: advice on sick Oscar      4/27/20
Good evening,
<Good evening!>
I came across your site and have been reading through some of the questions regarding sick Oscars and i need some urgent advice.
About 3 weeks ago my Oscar started sitting at the bottom of his tank, not eating and on the odd occasion he came up for food he spat it out. I have a 260lt tank with 2 blood parrots and 2 small clown loaches. My water
parameters have been tested and are all perfect.
<What do you mean by "perfect"? Can you tell me the actual values? To recap: Oscars prefer soft water and appreciate warmth. You are aiming for 2-12 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7. They are messy fish, but are sensitive to
nitrate. So apart from the usual 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, you want nitrate below 40 mg/l and ideally below 20 mg/l.>
I did a water change and added some ParaGuard and a handful of salt as I initially thought he may just be bloated as his poo was stringy and white.
<White, stringy faeces is often associated with Hexamita infections, which are VERY common in large cichlids. The only reliable medication is Metronidazole, usually used alongside an antibiotic.>
nothing change. I then contacted someone who deals with Oscars and he gave me a broad spectrum antibiotic (chloramphenicol to dose the tank) 2 doses 4 days apart. after a few days still nothing changed. he is also breathing heavy.
<Do see above; antibiotics alone aren't going to help. As well as the stringy faeces, Hexamita infections are often associated with "Hole in the Head Disease". Whether these are the same thing is debated. But they often go together. Look for pits on the skin, especially around the head and along the lateral line.>
i also did put my hands in the tank and felt him and he was exceptionally slimy. I only came across Oscar slime disease now and i am thinking that it could be that.
Question - should i take him out and quarantine him and treat with stress coat and a second dose of chloramphenicol?
I am worried that he would be stressed in a quarantine tank. Any advise or questions that you may have please let me know - would appreciate any urgent interventions that you suggest i can take. Kind Regards,
<Hope the above is useful. Metronidazole together with an antibiotic is a good treatment for cichlids and cures a number of problems. Slime Disease, also called Costiasis, is something else though, and difficult to treat.
Your local aquarium shop should have medications for this. It is often known by the parasite that causes it, "Costia", or "Ichthyobodo". Cheers, Neale.>
Re: advice on sick Oscar      4/27/20

Hi Neale, Thank you so much for your response.
pH is 7
Nitrate and nitrites 0
<Nitrite of zero is excellent. Nitrate of zero virtually impossible unless you're keeping your Oscar in Lake Malawi. So clearly your nitrate test kit is broken. Please check it again, or use another one. Nitrate levels of
zero are virtually impossible because it's the end product of biological filtration, and should be increasing steadily between water changes. Given you're keeping a big, messy fish, there's essentially no way nitrate won't be rising significantly. What is the nitrate level of your tap water? It will never be lower than that. I'm stressing nitrate because it's the 'silent killer' of cichlids, and strongly associated with all sorts of
Temperature is 27 degrees Celsius
These were tested twice.
<See above.>
I am based in South Africa so I'm not sure if i can get Metronidazole. If I do, what is the recommended dosage? As I may have to get it from a pharmacy as many of the LFS don't keep these. Even with chloramphenicol it was someone who had specialised in this and is struggling to get more.
<In the UK, Metronidazole is prescription-only, and legally the only way to get it is via a vet or doctor. They'll offer up a dosage. Some American retailers sell antibiotics and drugs like Metronidazole pre-packaged for
aquarium use, again, with a suitable dosage advised. I'm not familiar with the situation in South Africa. Perhaps a regional fish club or online forum might be able to offer some insight? There are medications sold without prescriptions, such as eSHa HEXAMITA and Waterlife Octozin that treat the same sort of pathogens as Metronidazole, though perhaps less reliably. You should be able to obtain these online without too much trouble.>
I haven't seen any signs of pits in the head.
<That's a good sign. Cheers, Neale.>

Can't get enough of that funky WWM stuff?
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Marine Aquarium Articles and FAQs Master Index

  • Set-Up 1: Types of Systems:, Gear/Components:, Set-Up, Tanks, Stands, Covers:, Water, Seawater, Substrates, DSBs, Electricity, Heating/Chilling, Aquascaping, Biotopes, Travelogues.
  • Set-Up 2: Filtration of All Sorts, Skimmers, Sumps, Refugiums, Plumbing, Circulation, Pumps, Powerheads, Aeration & Light/Lighting:.
  • About Livestock: Regional Accounts:, Collection, Selection:, Stocking:, Disease Prevention: Dips/Baths, Acclimation, Quarantine, Behavior:, Territoriality:, Reproduction:
  • Non-Vertebrate Sea Life Identification, & Microbes, Algae, Plants, Live Rock & Sand, Sponges: Hitchhikers, IDs, Marine Microbes, Plankton, Live Rock & Sand, Marine Algae, Marine Plants, Sponges, phylum Porifera,
  • Cnidarians I. Corals to Hobbyists, Stinging-Celled Animals 1: Cnidarians Overall; Hydrozoans: Jellies, Hydroids, Anthozoans; Octocorals: Organ Pipe, Blue Coral, Star Polyps, Sea Fans, Sea Pens and Soft Corals
  • Cnidarians II. Corals to Hobbyists, Stinging-Celled Animals 2: Anthozoans; Hexacorals: Mushrooms, Zoanthids, Anemones, Stony Corals, Tube Anemones, Black Corals
  • Higher Invertebrate Life: Bryozoans, Worms of all kinds, Mollusks (Snails, Nudibranchs, Octopodes), Crustaceans (Crabs, Shrimp, Lobsters...), Echinoderms (Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Seastars, Brittlestars...), Sea Squirts,
  • Fishes, Index 1: Sharks, Rays, Skates; Marine Eels; Marine Catfishes; Squirrelfishes, Soldierfishes, Lionfishes, Stonefishes, Gurnards, Sculpins; Anglerfishes, Seahorses & Pipefishes, Blennioid & Gobioid Fishes, Mandarins, Clingfishes, Wrasses and Parrotfishes,
  • Fishes, Index 2: Butterflyfishes, Cardinalfishes, Grammas, Grunts, Sweetlips, Snappers, Goatfishes, Jawfishes, Big-Eyes, Basses, Anthias, Dottybacks, Roundheads, Soapfishes, Damselfishes, Clownfishes, Monos, Hawkfishes, Croakers, Emperors, Threadfins, Sandperches, Miscellaneous Percoids,
  • Fishes Plus, Index 3: Marine Angelfishes, Tangs/Surgeons/Doctorfishes, Scats, Batfishes, Rabbitfishes; Triggers, Files, Puffers, Flounders, Halibuts, Soles, Really Old Fishes, Marine Reptiles, Marine Mammals,
  • Maintenance/Operation: General Maintenance, Vacations, Moving, Water Quality: Tests/Testing, Aquarium Repairs, Biominerals, Supplementation, Marine Scavengers, Algae ID & Control, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition,
  • Diseases: Identification, Avoidance, Causes, Organisms, Treatments & Pests: Acclimation, Quarantine, Dips/Baths; Disease: Prevention, Identification, Treatment, Pests/Control, Aquariums and Human Health, Chemicals of Use/Dis- and Mis-use, Pest Flatworm/Anemones/Worms... & Their Control,
  • Marine Topics: Media Reviews:, Books:, References, Sources, Writing, Diving, Travel Adventure, Photography, Videography, Sources of Mortality on the Worlds Reefs, Schooling, Public Aquariums,

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