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FAQs on Brackish Disease

Related Articles: Brackish Disease, Brackish Maintenance

Related FAQs: Brackish Environmental Disease, Brackish Ich, Brackish Feeding


Acclimating from Fresh to Brackish  10/2/06 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I purchased a black finned shark yesterday.  I've done my research and learned that they are a brackish water fish.  The LFS was selling it as a freshwater fish, so I slowly added my water to the bag he was in throughout the night.  The specific gravity of my water is at 1.006 and the temperature is at 80 degrees.  The other fish in my tank are mono's and puffers.  It is a 90 gallon tank and I've never had problems with the water condition before.  He seemed to eat fine at feeding time, but liked to stay at the top of the tank.  Today when I got home I noticed he's been swimming upside down at the top of the tank.  His belly also seems quite bloated.  Other than that I can't see anything else that looks physically wrong with him.  I was hoping you might know what the problem might be.  Thanks. <What, no quarantine?  That fish could have wiped out your whole tank!  You acclimated the fish in a bag all night?  My 1st guess would be that the ammonia in that bag became toxic.  Whenever I change a fish over from FW-BW, BW-SW or visa-versa, I use a drip system. I put the fish in a bucket below the tank I will be moving it into, covered by water from the tank the puffers were living in, about 1" over its head. I tie a knot in an air hose until it drips enough water into the bucket to raise or lower the SG in the bucket .001-1.002/hour.  ~PP> <<RMF advises weeks...>>

Treating an Open Wound on a BW Fish  7/12/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Thanks for such a wonderful website. <You're welcome!> I have an 11 inch Colombian cat shark in a 55 gallon tank. <Hmmm... sounds a little tight.> He's been doing pretty well but apparently he bumped his side against a rock and now has a deep wound where his fin connects with his body. <Not enough swimming room for him in there.> He usually heals quite quickly but it has been a few days now and there is no sign of improvement. I thought the Scat might have been picking at the wound so I put the scat in a breeding trap to give the shark a chance to heal. <Awww, poor scat!> This was two days ago and nothing yet. I have been doing water changes regularly and have put Epsom salt (1Tbs/10gal) to aid the healing process to no avail. Is there anything else I can do to help the wound heal promptly? Thanks again for your assistance. <I would add Melafix to the tank.  Be sure to keep the water pristine (lots of large water changes).  At that size, your cat should be in saltwater by now.  If not already in high-end brackish water, his immune system is compromised, causing slow healing.  He is also a schooling fish & requires a much larger tank.  ~PP>

Re: Wounded Fish in BW Tank  7/14/06 Hi there! <Hi, Pufferpunk again> I just made a 3/4 water change and I'll watch him closely before medicating. <I'd add Melafix now.> I understand this is a small tank for the cat shark but at this point I can't afford the bigger tank. <Did you do any research on this species before buying/? I have a very low fish population in the hope that this would help. Also, I have 2 Aquaclear 70 filters, which I have a question about. I am using both the carbon and ammonia control inserts. The Aquaclear package reads that the inserts are only for fresh water aquariums, is this true? If so, then what sort of filtration system should I be using for this brackish tank? <Forget about using the carbon or ammonia removers.  Water changes are the best ammonia removers.  Carbon isn't necessary on FW tanks, unless removing meds with it.  Those 2 filters should suffice, as long as the sponges are rinsed weekly, with tank water.  I usually add an Eheim canister filter to tanks over 50g.  I like to stack my AC filters thus: sponge on bottom (mechanical filtration), 1" filter floss in middle (to "polish" water crystal clear) & BioMax on top (for biological filtration--rinsed about 1x/month). AC got wind of this method & started selling BioMax with their filters.  If you can get the SG up to around 1.018 or higher, add a protein skimmer.  You won't believe the gunk it pulls out!  ~PP> Thanks again for your assistance

Treating Puffers with Ich  1/26/06 I recently bought 2 Green spotted and 2 Fig 8 puffers.  The 4 of them share a 2ft brackish water aquarium (salinity's around 0.008).   <Wow, sounds way too small for all 4 of these fish.  What is that around 15-20 gallons? I'd either return 1 F8 & the GSPs, or get 2 larger tanks.  Even if that tank is 20 gal, you should keep 1 F8 in 15g & 10g for every one added.  GSPs are going to grow up to be too large & aggressive to keep with F8s.  They also require much higher salinities--even marine conditions as adults.  F8s are best kept at a SG of around 1.005, for life.> They're all eating and all seems to be fine but one Fig 8 has developed a few tiny white spots on its tail & fins (looks almost like tiny air-bubbles). <Sounds like it should a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifilius (ich for short).  Here is a safe, non-medicinal treatment for it: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9   I am actually surprised they would have it though, if the SG is as high as 1.008.  Do you think it could just be bubbles?> I don't want to fiddle with them unnecessarily but they're an important part of our lives now and I'd hate anything to happen to them, especially as a result of ignorance (and a reliable source of information of puffers in South Africa is limited - to be polite). <Here's a huge source of information on puffers for you: www.thepufferforum.com  Excellent articles on your puffers in The Library at that site.> Do you reckon it's a disease and if so, what's the best way to treat the little guy? Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated. <Check out the info I've given you & see ya at TPF!  ~PP> Thanks, Adrian

Gill Flukes, Nitrite, and an Alternative to Formalin 1/25/2006 Dear crew, <<Luis>> I have a spotted bracket <<Brackish>> water puffer fish. <<Do you know the species?>> His name is Fatso and he is about 7 inches. <<How old is he? My guess he is a Tetraodon fluviatilis, or Ceylon puffer.>> He has been healthy for the most part. I recently had a problem with Nitrite. I resolved the problem thru water changes. <<Please keep an eye on water changes and feeding to avoid this.>> However, two days ago I noticed the puffer was a bit lethargic and yesterday it did not wanted to eat his frozen shrimp. <<Defrosted, I trust.  Your puffer is probably quite stressed from ammonia and nitrIte exposure.  What SG is the water?  NitrAte and pH readings? Tank size?>> I had to give him a treat (live crab) to have him eat something. He was also trying to "scratch" using the ornaments and the filtration tube.  Today he was still been lethargic at times and I noticed that one of his gills was closed. This concerned me and let me to search his condition online. Reading about this in your website has led me to believe that "Fatso" is having problems with gill flukes. <<Possible.>> The recommended treatment seams to be formalin bath and/or dips. Unfortunately, someone else in your website noticed that Formalin is banned in California.  So here are my questions: 1)What alternatives do I have to the formalin treatment here in California? <<I would not jump to treating with Formalin anyway.  Is his gill closed all of the time?  I think a freshwater dip/bath matched for pH and temperature will help here.>> 2)How exactly does a medication bath work with a puffer? (since its not wise to take them out of water) <<Remove from the tank with a bucket or scoop of some kind, never a net as they may puff with air that they cannot expel.>> Thank you in advance for your help, Luis <<Please do get back to me with the questions asked above so I can help you more thoroughly.  Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

Treating Puffers with Ich  1/15/06 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have three green spotted puffers. We have had them for about two weeks. We noticed about a week ago that they had salt-like spots on their fins. So we have been treating them with ick clear made by jungle. Well one of our puffers turned white or gray with black spots. He don't eat as much. He always lays on the bottom of the tank   We called the hotline on the back of the ick box and they said to treat them also with the fungus clear to prevent secondary infections. I have read other books, internet, and also talked to a pet store they have all told me to do certain things. For e.g. I have changed the whole aquarium twice, we have given them a fresh water dip for 15 min.  I have also put a bubble stone in the aquarium.  So now its been about 4 days and nothing has happened they other two still have ick and our other is still discolored. Do you have any idea what is going on and how can I help? <Although very cute fish, they are not the easiest to keep.  Most meds will do more harm than good.  I suggest reading: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9 http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/fishless.html ~PP>

Set Up and Stocking in One Day - 12/07/2005 I set up a brackish water tank and all day the tank was clear the fish were active and eating, nothing unusual. I had 2 Green Scats and a Green Puffer. When I went to feed them this morning the water was extremely cloudy and the fish were dead. <Surprise, surprise.> Could this have been a filter problem. <Well yes in a manner of speaking. Not physical however, but biological. This is what happens when fish are thrown into an uncycled tank.> I had them on a Whisper filter overnight and was going to get a biowheel but I didn't get a chance to. Any ideas? <Study. - Josh> 

Dosing Levamisole hydrochloride for internal Parasites  11/10/05 Hi PP, Thanks for your prompt and informative response, <You're welcome!> I checked out the recommended link and came across Levamisole hydrochloride as an alternative solution to Discomed.  The only problem is that the required PH level for a GS puffer is way out of range for this solution to work effectively.   <Since the puffer needs to be fed it's food soaked in the med, pH, salinity, etc, will have no effect on the med.> I recently came across a medicine at a local fish store by a company called Jungle.  The name of the medicine is Parasite Clear.  Its suggested to treat tropical fish for both internal and external parasites.  I was wondering if you have any experience or knowledge of this solution and its affects on a GS puffer? <I am not familiar with Jungle products.  ~PP> Thanks again for all your help

Brackish Fish Deaths Hi Bob, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I read your columns and notes on TFH with great enthusiasm, and look forward to them.  Thanks! I've had a F8 puffer in a 55 gallon tank with 6 Monodactylus argenteus, 4 archerfish, 3 Lamprologus brichardi, 1 green scat, 5 "regular" scats, 2 Colombian sharks and 1 Pleco.  Don't tell me: I KNOW IT IS CROWDED!!!!     <That's way more than crowded...  Those Monos grow to 1" each & need at least a 300+g tank.  The scats are extremely messy fish (like Oscars & goldfish), will grow as large as your outstretched hand & need similar tank space as the Monos.  Colombian sharks are schooling fish & grow to 18".  All 3 of those species will need marine conditions as adults.  Archerfish also grow to 1'. Other than the puffer, the rest of your fish are not BW fish at all & won't appreciate any salt.> Sorry, sorry!  I just like lots of fish swimming around! <Well, it is your responsibility to keep these fish happy & healthy & I don't see that as being possible at all in that tank, never mind the fact you have a system crash just waiting to happen!> Therefore, the tank has 3 cascade filters (300 gallon) and I do weekly 25-50% water changes to compensate my overcrowding.   <Not nearly enough.  I do 50% weekly water changes on my uncrowded tanks.> I also add 4 tablespoons of rock salt (I can get it yearlong from a nearby salt extraction pond) after every water change.  I don't keep track of any other water parameters (shame on me; but I have 10 additional aquaria and a pond to deal with, so something's got to give...!).   <Yes, shame on you--probably your fish's lives...  This does not at all make brackish conditions.  You need marine salt & a hydrometer to measure it with.  It takes roughly around a cup of salt/5gal to raise the specific gravity to low-end BW & most of the BW fish species you have need high-end BW (except the puffer, which prefers low-end).> All tanks have automatic battery pumps, in case of power outages (all too common!).  The fish had been there for over 2 years (the puffer for about one year) and they were all doing fine and dandy until last week when we had a power shortage that lasted 10 hours. LIKE ALWAYS, it had to happen when I wasn't home; so I came back to find the archerfish, brichardi, green scat, puffer and 3 Monos dead (all other fish were OK).  They ate normally and were all fine before I left home that day.  No other fish in any other tank died (including some hefty dudes like large Tinfoils, a 2-feet Arowana, and some very large cichlids) which makes me suspicious of the F8 puffer.  Could it had released some kind of toxin when the power was gone?    <Puffer's toxins are in their skin & organs.  They do not release toxins into the water.  Your fish were overcrowded & the system crashed (just like I predicted...).  Survival of the fittest.> The remaining fish in the puffer tank were acting OK (no signs of lack of air), except one mono that was at the bottom trying to stay up.  The F8 was really cool, so I'd like to get another one (and replace the other species, of course!!).  Is there something to prevent a toxicity episode, if that's what happened, short of having a tank of its own for F8?  Would green puffers react the same? <PLEASE DON'T BUY ANY MORE FISH!  It sounds like you have too many to take care of as it is.> By the way, I read on one e-mail from Ananda (BR Puffer Disease 2, I think) wondering about who would eat puffer.  Well, they are VERY, VERY TASTY (at least the saltwater species).  However, you have to know how to skin them and remove that "toxin sac"; only exposing the tail end.  Put some seasoning and breading, fry them and they have a delicate flavor!  The risk of intoxication adds a tingle to the experience...hey, so does ciguatera!!!  Just kidding... <In my opinion, it would be extremely risky to eat Fugu.  There is a 5% death rate for folks that do!> Gracias!!!  JORGE <I was extremely surprised to see that you work in an endangered species program, as you seem to be willing to put your fish's lives at such risk & don't appear to be doing enough research on the necessary conditions for good health & longevity.  ~PP> Jorge E.  Saliva, Ph.D. Endangered Species Program U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Caribbean Field Office Alternatives to Discomed for Internal Parasites 5/16/05 <Pufferpunk again> Thank You for a quick response and the useful links. My Puffer is a GSP (Tetraodon nigroviridis) so it looks like I'm going to have a new brackish water aquarium. I'll get out to the LFS and get a new 20gal tank, a hydrometer & marine mix this weekend. I've never seen or used Bio-Spira but I will look for it also, instant tank cycling....sounds great, all this time I've been doing it the old fashioned way, (I thought I was ahead of the curve running extra filters on my tanks so I could drop mature filters into new tanks).  <Not a bad way of cycling either... much better than cycling w/fish.> Do you have any suggestions for a second choice parasite medication if I can't find the Discomed?  <Look here: http://puffer2.proboards37.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1116217071 > Once again thanks for the help, I just recently came across WWM but it has already become my favorite "web" fish resource. Please keep up the great work, we less than expert aquarists appreciate it greatly. <Good luck with your new puppy... er puffer! ~PP> 

Figure 8 Puffer w/Ich 5/13/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> To start things out, I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank with 3 fish in it (a Figure 8 Puffer, a Von Rio Flame Tetra, and a Bristlenose Catfish). I originally had two tetras, but one tetra died a couple of weeks ago from Ich. At the time I did not know what Ich was (this is my first aquarium) and I tried to fix things a little too late. But I continued to medicate my tank with Quick Cure, doing 25% water changes every day (for 14 days), I also used Maracyn and Maracyn II for freshwater fish (for the first 6 days), and I vacuumed the gravel in my tank.  Everything seemed to have cleared up, until today. I noticed the Figure 8 puffer has little white spots on his right pectoral fin and on his anal fin. It looks exactly like the spots that were on the tetra that died. The other two fish are fine and have no visual signs of Ich. I do not understand what else I need to do or what I am doing wrong. Today was day 14 for the Quick Cure so I am still medicating my tank and doing the water changes, what else do I need to do? How do I get rid of this problem before it progresses into something that I can not fix? I really would hate to lose this puffer fish, I have become quite attached to him and his personality. I would appreciate your quick response and advise to this matter. <Puffers don't respond well to meds & they can be harmful. Ich is fairly easy to cure, using high temps (86-87 degrees), salt & large water changes (80% every other day) while cleaning the gravel. In the case of your puffer, since it is a brackish water fish, marine salt is used. By keeping your BW puffer in FW, you will be compromising it's immune system, causing it to be more susceptible to disease & a shorter lifespan. See this article here.  You're going to need marine salt & a hydrometer. You can raise the SG (specific gravity, a measurement of salt by a hydrometer) to 1.002 the 1st day & then to 1.004 in 3 days. It will take roughly, a little under 3/4 cups of salt to raise the SG to 1.002. The rest will take some math, since you will be removing some salt for the water changes. Make sure to premix the salt in a bucket before adding to the tank. F8 puffers prefer a SG of 1.005. Your other fish will not appreciate any salt at all, so you need to decide if you want FW or BW fish.  I hope this helps. ~PP> 

Adding Fish Without Quarantine  12/13/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hello, I have a question about my green spotted puffers.  I have four small (inch long) puffers and just introduced a two inch silver tipped shark, and a "knight goby".  They are all residing in my brackish 29 gallon tank.  Within days, two of my puffers developed little gray indented spots on their backs.  They did not seem to be affected by them until now.  They are hiding in corners and look gross.  Do you have any ideas?  I am cleaning the tank thoroughly now, and am full aware that the shark will grow very big.  Thank you.. me. <What do you mean you are "cleaning the tank thoroughly now"?  You weren't before?  How much water are you changing now & how often (I do 50%/week)?  Cleaning the gravel now, but not before?  What are the water parameters?  How much marine salt is in there?  Tank size--GSPs need at least 10g/fish when <2" & 20-30g/fish as adults.  I assume you didn't quarantine the new addition?  Bad idea--the new fish can infect the whole tank & wipe it out.  The grey spots you describe could be some kind of fungus, or if they are round circles, they are puffer bites.  You can try Melafix & Pimafix, but if it gets any worse, you will need to put them in a hospital tank & treat with stronger antibiotics.  A picture of the spots might help.  ~PP>

Fungus in brackish tank (01/15/04) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here again...> I have a 55 gallon brackish tank with 1 figure 8, 2 green spotted, 1 scat, 1 knight goby, and 3 bumblebee gobies.   <Hope your puffers are still enjoying playing in the powerhead outflow!> The scat has had a small white fungus on his upper lip, just below his nostril, for at least a month and a half. <Sounds like Columnaris.> All the other fish seem unaffected, except for 2 bumblebees, which have died off, and the knight goby, who just recently started a small spot on his upper lip. I have treated the water with Jungle Fungus Clear for a week, it did nothing, waited a week and used Melafix for 2 weeks, which also did nothing. <I am not surprised that neither of those worked.> Now I am treating with Aquarisol which is copper, not supposed to be good for puffers I think, but they seem fine. <Oh, crud. Did you remove the bio-wheels from your filter before you added the Aquarisol? If not, your tank is going to go through a cycle again, as the Aquarisol has killed off the nitrifying bacteria.>   I don't think a quarantine is necessary, because it is in the main tank, right?   <Well, if you could put the affected fish in the hospital tank, the other fish aren't likely to get it. It would also cut down on the cost of the medications. With a 55 gallon tank, you'd need only 1/5 as much medication for a 10 gallon tank -- and you'd recoup the cost of the hospital tank very quickly.> The Aquarisol does not appear to be working either, what else should I try?   Thanks,  Dave <A wide-spectrum antibiotic, like Kanamycin, should help with the Columnaris. And, if your BioWheels were in the filter when you added the Aquarisol, you'll need to do frequent water changes as your tank re-cycles. I don't know what your s.g. is, but if it's low (say, 1.004-1.006 or so), you might consider taking the tank down to 1.002 or less and adding Marineland's Bio-Spira (the refrigerated stuff). It's got live nitrifying bacteria and will cycle the tank in a day or so. Then you can slowly work the s.g. back up to its usual level. Another option, and probably better, if you can swing it, is to swap in a bio-wheel from a cycled tank. Take care of those puffers! :-)  --Ananda>

Figure 8 puffer, scat, and ich Hi <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I recently started a fish tank and went to the local pet store and got a green scat and a figure 8 puffer.  They were in the same tank at the store.  After doing more reading I have found out that the puffer is fresh water and the scat is brackish but can adjust to fresh. <Hmmm. More like the scat prefers brackish, and can "adjust to"/tolerate freshwater for short periods of time (potentially at the expense of its long-term health) and can adjust to saltwater, preferring that later in life... Meanwhile, the figure-8 puffer can easily tolerate low-level brackish water (specific gravity 1.005 or so). An interesting article here: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml > My question is that it looks like my scat has ich, but nothing on my puffer.  I've been trying "Jungle Ich Clear"- a half tablet a day because it says to only do a half a tablet because of scaleless fish (which I assumed a puffer is).   <Yup.> The problem is that the ich on the scat is not going away. Having said that, what should I do? <Increase the tank salinity to at least 1.004 over the course of a few days. Also, raise the tank temp -- slowly! -- to 82* F. If your scat's case of ich is still fairly mild, this should be sufficient. If the scat has a severe case of ich, you might try a saltwater dip. For this, use *freshwater* aquarium salt, which does not affect the pH of the water. (If you use marine salt, it changes the pH to around 8.3 -- if your tank water has a pH of 8.2 or less, the shock from the pH change would be harmful.) I would use about 1/2 cup of freshwater salt per gallon. (Don't forget the dechlorinator!) That probably won't be full-strength saltwater, but is a guesstimate based on the regular amount of Instant Ocean (marine salt) required to get a gallon up to s.g. 1.020. The reason for the salt dip is that the ich cannot tolerate the salt water, and any ich parasites on the fish should fall off. This saltwater dip should last three to five minutes. Then he can go back into the main tank for the longer-term ich treatment, which is raising the tank's specific gravity with marine salt.  > Thank you for your time. <You're welcome, and please write back if something I've written isn't clear! --Ananda>

Brackish anchor worm Hello WWM Staff, <Hello! Ananda here tonight...> I have a 15 gallon brackish aquarium with one spotted puffer and one silver scat. Last week, I treated the tank with quinine because one puffer (now deceased) appeared to have velvet. The water quality is quite good at present, and the 2 remaining fish look healthy, but the scat appears to have 2 anchor worms. <That is quite unusual in a brackish tank...what is your specific gravity at?> I am fairly certain these are in fact anchor worms, as I have seen them on goldfish before. There are no sores at the attachment points yet, and the puffer does not appear to be affected. What treatment can I safely use with scaleless fish? <More salt. Depending on what your s.g. is currently, I would bring it up to at least 1.010. If that does not get rid of the anchor worm, you might try a formalin dip for the scat only. Do be careful with that and avoid getting the stuff into the main tank.> Thank you for your time,  Michelle <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Silver Scat Emergency >Hi, it's me again regarding the Silver Scats. >>Hi, it's my first time regarding the silver scats.  Marina today. >I'm hoping you get this in time. I have three Silver Scats mixed/w African Cichlids. >>Not exactly a compatible mix.  Scats are a brackish fish, that, while appreciative of the hard water Africans like, greatly benefit from a swing of salinity that Africans won't appreciate. >I had one that had a pimple on it's mouth which turned into something that's actually eating away at the flesh. Nobody seems to know what this is & I have yet to find any articles on line or in any book. However that particular fish seems fine otherwise. >>Such a vast myriad of bacterial infections that, even with a microscope and the ability to culture the pathogen to identify, it's far easier to begin a treatment at times. >I've tried to get a picture, but nothing has come out clear enough to show the detail on the mouth. >>No worries.  I would begin first by moving the fish (both would be best) to a watertight container and begin slowly acclimating them to a saltier environment.  Purchase some sea salt mix for this, and a hydrometer (not the swing-arm type, the glass float), and mix the sea salt to a salinity of 1.025.  Then, add it by the cupful to the container.  It does NOT need to be an aquarium, Rubbermaid containers work great for this.  You will only need a sponge filter and a heater of suitable capacity.  Be prepared to do several water changes over the next few days, a large trash can lined with black plastic trash bag works great to hold freshly mixed water. You can add the salt water by the cupful or so until you reach a salinity of approximately 1.015-1.018.  This will do two things--first, it will give them what they need as brackish fish, relieving the osmotic difference between their body and the water, and salt has been shown to actually BOOST the beneficial effects of antibiotics.  My own preferred antibiotic is Spectrogram, and I recommend you use it as well. >I'm still trying. The problem I'm having now is regarding another Scat. He had a little eye cloud that seemed to get better but last night started acting strange & his tail fin looks a little more gold than normal and is a little ragged looking. I'm thinking bacteria? I started Melafix last night but don't think I made it in time.  He was hiding most of the day behind a cave today.  I moved it to see what was going on & he has no control over his swimming. Completely upside down & getting stuck everywhere. Unfortunately I don't have a hospital tank nor do I think if I purchased one it would be ready in time. Right now I have this guy in a net breeder so he's not just floating about, but it's awful. Is there ANYTHING you can suggest? I called the pet store but they just said he's probably on his way out to either let it happen or dispose of him. >>No, get the container (hit Target), the heater, the sponge filter.  Set them up as described before, and use Spectrogram along with the salt.  If you begin at a ratio of 1tsp/gallon of freshwater, then add the mixed saltwater as outlined above they'll be fine.  Do a water change (30% or so) before adding more medication and replace with saltwater.  The fish doesn't have to die.  Now, we also use Epsom salts for exophthalmia, but that disease almost ALWAYS affects both eyes, not just one.  My guess on him is he's being picked on.  In any event, they both need OUT, ASAP.   >I'm having a very hard time just watching him suffer, but don't know if I could do the alternative. He's about six inches which is quite large. Any suggestions? He's been fighting so hard since last night it's very sad. I'm also worried about the other fish since I don't know what this is. Do I continue the melafix? Do a H2O change? It's almost a week since my last H2O change. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Danielle >>Do as above.  If the fish is really beyond help, net him up and whack him on a very hard surface (concrete flooring lends itself nicely and is easily cleaned up).  You MUST do it very hard the first time to achieve an instant kill.  This method is BY FAR the most humane for pet fish, do not freeze him.  But only do this if you've determined there is no saving the fish.  Do a water change for the benefit of the Africans, it seems you've been treating the whole display which is *not* a good way to go about it.  Chances are you've killed off a good portion of your nitrifying bacteria and may be having ammonia or nitrite spikes, further stressing the fishes.  Do a 50% change, but not until after you remove the scats.  Yes, a Rubbermaid container or even a large trashcan are FINE to keep the fish in.  Not pretty, but elegant as far as solutions go.  Good luck!  Marina >P.S.  On a happier note I had also wrote you about a maingano I had that I believed was holding eggs & 20 days later more than 20 beautiful little ones. I've been quite busy. >>Glad to hear it.

Brackish pH for Scats - 8/17/03 Hi again, I knew there would be something important I would forget. What is the proper pH for Scats? <7.6-8.3 is a fair/wide range for brackish fishes. Most appreciate you straying towards the higher and saltier end as they get older. Best regards, Anthony>

Silver Scat Emergency >Thank you so much for getting back to me!! >>Most welcome. >Unfortunately despite my efforts I lost one of my not so little guys. >>Sorry to hear that. >But in the process of trying to save him I picked up an Eclipse 12gallon (all they had at the nearest pet store which is very fancy & pretty expensive, but it was an emergency). Part of my problem is I live in an apartment. I'm actually running out of outlets, even w/powerstrips. My main tank is 55 gallons so I put the 12 gallon below.  I was going to use that for a future hospital tank, but will set it up as you specified ASAP. It's not so roomy, but my main concern is to get my Scats healthy & then I can worry about what to do next. >>I'm afraid that they'll bang themselves about.  A 12 gallon is sorely small, and something in the way of a plastic container in a warm area would do better if it were more on the order of 20-30 gallons. >Unfortunately a year ago when I purchased these fish I had inquired as to which fish could be housed together re: H2O parameters & tank size, etc. Once I started doing research I found out that they would have to be moved. I'm just so happy that I found this site. I still have not been able to sign on the forum, but there are so many knowledgeable people here! >>Yes, we're aware that there are problems signing up.  I hear Lorenzo is working on it POST HASTE. >Ok this may seem silly but since I'm setting up this tank today should I put a little gravel in also since these guys might be there for a little while? >>No.  A hospital tank is best left bare.  If they're in need of cover (not much room for them in such a small tank) you could use some pieces of PVC. >t's been a little hard to find info on Silver Scats. I always see the green or ruby. Just want them to be happy.  One last question for now. What are your thoughts on Cupramine? I'm going to pick up the Spectrogram as well, but every time I go to the store they try to talk you into something else. I have to say that this store I go to has by far some of the most beautiful healthy aquariums I've seen. I always check out all the tanks. They also have a lot of very knowledgeable people working there, but sometimes I find it's better to go to Petland Discount where they don't know too much and buy what I want. I only ask because they talked me into the Cupramine for my 1st ailing Scat. I tried it, but I kind of knew he wouldn't even make it through the night. After reading the directions though I found out that you need to test the water 48 hrs later before you add another dose because it's very toxic!!! >>And this knowledgeable shop didn't tell you that, did they?  I see NO reason whatsoever to copper the fish--there are no outward signs of the types of parasites that are going to be affected by copper treatments (if they try to tell you that copper kills all parasites, KNOW that they are sadly mistaken).  Also, for the parasites that we most commonly treat with copper, hyper/hyposalinity is also an excellent means of eradication.  Since they've been in freshwater, you would use salt as I described previously.  Scats are called brackish, but that doesn't mean permanently slightly salty water, it means that they can swing both ways, from purely fresh to true seawater (there's a large display at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific of scats and Monodactylus, and they are GORGEOUS in their most natural setting!), so you would go with hypersalinity--seawater conditions. >hey didn't sell me a copper test kit. Anyway I'm going to empty that tank & start from scratch.  Sorry this is so very long. I'm sure I'll have other questions re: the salt H2O. Bye for now. And thank you so much again, Danielle >>Most welcome again.  I am glad that we have provided some help for you.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Scatart.htm  http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Scatophagus&speciesname=argus >>Marina

Silver Scat Emergency, Now for the Fun.. >Hi Marina, hope all is well with you. >>Mas o menos, fairly well, thank you. >Not to be dramatic, but I'm having a bit of an emergency again. This time regarding ammonia & nitrite! I did what you said re: adding salt water, etc. but I haven't added the Spectrogram as of yet because these fish were quite freaked out once I moved them from the 55gallon. >>Indeed, plus, as I remember they've gone from the rather small confines of the 55 to the smaller confines of the 12, yes? >But the next day they were still not themselves & I tested the H2O & couldn't believe the results. Ammonia .5 - 1.0 ppm and the nitrite was off the chart. >>To be expected with a new system, and even more so for such a small one.  A water change regimen (probably daily) would be in order for such a situation. >I've never had this problem before. I immediately did a 25% H2O change & added Bacter plus. I tested the water 2hrs. later & no difference. I have a pouch of Nitrazorb in case I ever had an emergency, but it states it's only for fresh water. Now that I've added salt I didn't know if I'd do more harm than good. >>Do a 50% change, try some Zeolite, though it may become saturated very quickly.  Also, tell me you acclimated them to the saltwater, yes? >I'm at work now, but plan on picking up whatever is necessary to rectify this situation ASAP. (These things always come up after all the stores are closed.) In addition I was going to do another H2O change tonight but also read that this will slow down the cycle. What to do??? >>Well, as I outlined previously, they really should be in a much larger system.  Plus, a hospital tank is a new tank, is a tank with no nitrifying bacteria.  Thing is, when you begin treating with antibiotics, they're very indiscriminate, so you MUST count on performing many large w/c's, there's almost no way around it. >These fish were in better shape before I moved them.  Again you guys are always so helpful. Thanks, Danielle >>Do the large water changes, don't worry about cycling because any bacteria that are trying to grow will likely be killed during treatment. Again, I STRONGLY recommend going to Wal-Mart/Target/wherever and getting a simple, LARGE, Rubbermaid tub.  30 gallons is both easy to find and much easier on the fish.  Also, if you get one with opaque sides they'll not have that additional stress.  I do hope this helps a bit.  Marina

Velvet? I am as yet pretty inexperienced at this brackish thing but determined to make it go. I have been learning much from your excellent website but still have some questions.   I have a 33 gallon tank at about 1.004, pH unknown, T -mid 70's -80 deg.  Had silver dollars (2), and green chromides (2), and a Plecostomus.  Chromides doing very well in terms of color/behavior, but silver dollars looked horrible - fins full of holes or generally rag-tag (had actually been this way a long time).   3 weeks ago I added 1 green scat, 2 silver scats, 1 spotted puffer, directly to the main tank (didn't have a quarantine tank).  Also recently 2 bumblebee Gobies. <... you added all this to the fishes you had, 33 gallon system?> All of a sudden I noticed one of my silver dollars had no scales and very quickly developed a sheet of "stuff" on one side and quit eating.  So I transferred both silver dollars to a 10 gallon tank  where sick one expired.   Now green scat in main tank acting funny.  He seems to be "breathing" very rapidly, and generally wriggling all the time.  Also may be developing a different sheen on one side but hard to tell.  Still eating as yet but haven't seen it raise dorsal fin in a while. <Does sound like velvet> Also, I have noticed some white deposit (not salt) stuck to the side of the main tank - looks a bit like what I saw on the dead s. dollar. <Likely unrelated> What to do?  I read in one of your FAQ's that one should never treat the main tank with anything. <Best not to... but may well be necessary in your case... due to time constraints (Velvet can kill within several hours to a few days> I would really appreciate your advice.   Many Thanks   Andreas <Let's see, the Silver Dollars aren't brackish... but totally fresh, live in soft, acidic water... the Plecostomus might "stretch" to your present water conditions... Your tank was and will be too crowded for what you list, you likely are aware of the error of not having quarantined your new fish livestock... and you've got to treat the Velvet quick or will likely lose all your fishes... and if you treat them in your main system, there is a very good possibility that you will kill off your nitrifying filtration organisms in the process. I would buy another system of size and treat the fishes there, raise the temperature to mid-80's F. in the main tank while leaving it w/o fishes for a month, and use a copper solution treatment on the fishes in a treatment system for two weeks (while measuring free copper), while measuring for ammonia, nitrite in the meanwhile, having pre-made water to execute water changes when either of these approaches 1.0 ppm. Bob Fenner>

- Problems with Bloat - Hi Crew, <Hi, Ananda, JasonC here...> Apologies in advance for the length and ramblingness of this...but I'm tired and worried and the board's down. <It wasn't as far as we could tell... perhaps a problem local to you.> I have three or four fish that seem to be showing signs of bloat: one butterfly goby (Vespicula depressifrons), two knight gobies, and one Sailfin molly. The bf goby is having difficulty swimming and has wedged itself under a spare sponge filter. The molly can't stay upright. One knight goby looks like she's carrying about double the normal number of eggs (she's looked that way for three days, and there's no male knight goby in the tank, so I don't think it's eggs). The other one isn't quite that far yet. Both knight gobies can swim pretty much normally. These fish are from two different tanks: the gobies were in one tank, and the molly was in another tank. One of my husband's Bettas died just a couple of days ago, and I think she had this, too -- she was in a third tank, though had been with the gobies for a while. And a couple of weeks ago I lost a butterfly goby with the same symptoms. (Furan-2 did not help that bf goby, which is why I'm not using it in the hospital tank this time.) There's a bit of ich in the all-molly tank that the sick molly was in. He got very sick very suddenly -- from normal-looking at noon to upside-down at 9pm. I'm not sure he has the same problem as the others, whatever it is. The bloated fish are all in a hospital tank, with triple-sulfa, a power filter (no media) and a mature sponge filter. I've increased the specific gravity from nothing to 1.002 and will gradually raise it to 1.006 or so. I moved the all-molly tank upstairs recently, and they promptly broke out in ich, (Probably due to too fast a temp change?) I'd been treating the all-molly tank with Quick-cure, for three days. Four fish still show signs of ich, but the rest look fine. I'm going to edge the s.g. up in this tank, too. My upside-down molly doesn't show signs of ich. When I realized he was in really bad shape, I moved him to a small fish bowl, gave him fresh water (slowly) and a drop of m. blue with an airstone. In a chat room, someone suggested it might be bloat, which is when I took a good long look at the fish in the next tank and realized that they *did* have bloat. Thus the migration of gobies to the hospital tank. The only thing that's been in all three tanks affected by this is me with the water changer and water from the same sink. I'm  thinking something got into the Python and went from tank A to tank B and possibly thence to tank C. I'm going to disinfect the thing later today. <I've talked with Bob about this at length, mostly because my freshwater/brackish experience is pretty much nil, and also because he can go on and on... but it is his observation that these types of bacterial infections [bloat/dropsy] are rarely if ever infectious. Would be very hard to pass this from tank to tank on the Python.> Could it be something from my source water? <Probably not. Most municipal water supplies are very clean when it comes to the presence of bacteria. Hence the need to deal with the chloramines.> The pH here is 7.8, GH is 12 and KH is 7. Phosphates are 0.8 out of the tap (yikes!). <Indeed.> Meanwhile in the tank downstairs, the gudgeons are all dark and less active than usual, but that's *hopefully* not related... though the gobies upstairs were also much less active than usual. Any suggestions for treating the potential bloat victims? <It sounds like you've done pretty much anything we would suggest. As you probably know, freshwater/brackish fish don't drink their water like saltwater fish which means it's really hard to get any curative 'into' the fish. The same compounds will likely improve the water quality though.> Any ideas what's causing this? <Not really.> Is it going to affect all my tanks? (I have eight FW & BW tanks running right now, plus the nano, the snail tank, and the hospital tank.) <It shouldn't.> I am seriously considering getting a 9-watt UV sterilizer, probably either the Double Helix or the Turbo Twist 3x. Would this help in this case? <Again... you've been diligent with the anti-bacterial which means a sterilizer would be of only marginal benefit.> Which of these would you recommend, or would you suggest a different one? <Neither of those. Perhaps a Vectron. Just keep in mind that the trick to UV Sterilizers is contact time - the rate of flow though the unit.> My largest tank is a 55g, and I won't be getting a bigger one anytime soon. Thanks.... Ananda <Cheers, J -- >

Re: bloat...? Hi Jason, <Hello...> In the interim, I've been treating with Maracyn and Maracyn-Two, after trying Triple Sulfa with no apparent effect. For the first two days, I was using those with aggressive aeration and hydrogen peroxide to pull the molly back from the brink. I started the H2O2 at 1ml/4g every couple of hours, building up to 1ml/g every two to four hours, as the H2O2 seemed to help more than anything else.  The molly has made an amazing but partial recovery, and seems to be at about 60% of normal. <Glad to hear things have improved somewhat.> I did lose the butterfly goby, and the fat knight goby is showing little improvement, if any. <Sorry to hear about that.> The other knight goby, not nearly as sick as the others, seems mostly okay, aside from a possible fungus on her lower lip. What else should I try using to treat these guys? <Hmm... you might consider dumping each of these systems and giving them a serious cleaning with bleach or similar biocide, just to be certain.> I need to get the molly eating again, and it looks like I'm going to have to resort to live brine shrimp to do so. <Just rinse them thoroughly.> Can live blackworms carry the bacteria that cause this sort of infection? <In fact they can, although that is less common these days with cultured blackworms, but certainly a possibility.> Thanks, Ananda <Cheers, J -- >

Sick Arius seemanni Hi Bob We have 3 Arius seemanni in a 46 gal. hexagonal tank with 10 African cichlids, 3 tiger barbs, 3 golden barbs, 4 cherry barbs, and 2 common places. <wow... what a truly bizarre mix <G> of fishes from Africa, Asia and South America. Really, you have fishes needing three different water qualities here: African for hard, alkaline and mildly brackish... neutral Asia water quality preferences... and soft acidic south American demons (Pleco). It is difficult if at all possible to maintain all such fishes in good health in the long run under such compromised water quality> The water is brackish. ph 7.8, ammonia-norm, nitrate-norm temp -80. we have two fake plants and lots of brook rocks, and crushed coral on the bottom,  <all conducive to the African cichlids> a magnum 350 filter, and two 6" air stones.  <is the magnum the only biological filter?!?! If so... it is very poorly suited and undersized for the job. Really just a good mechanical and chemical filter instead. Do add much better biological filtration (like an Eheim with ceramic noodles and course foam or a wet/dry filter> The catfish have developed white spotty lumps all over their bodies and are not active as when we bought them a week ago they also have not eaten for about a day. Do you know what this is and if so what can we do about it? <hmmm.... likely a bacterial infection, but do review the archives on disease to see if a photo or description can help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm> Thank You, Jenessa <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

F8 puffer Hey Bob/Anthony/whomever answers; Another question from the new guy, my figure eight puffer has little white specks all over his body. They are not noticeable unless you look closely. Do you have any idea what these are or if they are normal? He is a juvenile, and he hasn't been eating very well from what I have seen. It almost seems like he doesn't even notice the food. I normally put in flake food and sinking food to distract the other fish, then I put in freeze dried krill (which I have noticed him take some nibbles at, but only nibbles, and another problem is that they don't sink), I also put in frozen brine shrimp (yes, I know, like water, but he ate it at first, but lately I haven't seen him eating it). I am not sure if he is eating the residuals at the bottom or what when I am not around. He is still exploring a lot and seems to be acting normal, maybe a little weird at times, but that in itself doesn't have me worried, its the other things. Please help me out if you can, thanks. Dave <a tremendous amount of information to help you on the following page and links on that page. Best regards, my friend: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpufffaqs.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpufffaqs2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm> Sick Puffer The fish that is sick is a green spotted puffer and I am pretty sure it has Ich. I have noticed white spots gathering around it's anal and dorsal fins with a white patch just above the dorsal fin.  <unrelated pathogens> I have read and re- read how to treat Ich so I am taking the appropriate measures "salt dips" and " ich quick- cure" my questions to you are as follows: 1. The right gill of my Puffer appears to be closed while the left one is open. Which is normal for a Puffer to have closed gills or wide open ones? <both opercula should pulse similarly> 2. Which one is infected and is there anything I can do to restore the function of a gill that is infected? <both are infected no doubt> 3. What possible disease or parasite could be causing this reaction from my fish? - Gill Flukes? <the spots and patch are unrelated pathogens> 4. I have been feeding my Puffers live Bloodworms and the rest of them appear to be OK but I recently had one die. Same sort of symptoms with the other one as well. Is this infection coming from the Bloodworms? <could indeed come from the bloodworms... a problem with live prey> Any advice or answers you could give me would be greatly appreciated. <treat the fish with Formalin in a hospital tank. The patch could be Brooklynella or Costia and will require the Formalin. Gill flukes as well. Do not buy Formalin mixed with an organic dye (malachite green or Methylene blue... the puffer is sensitive to this. Anthony>

HELP! Puffer diagnosis We have a 55 gallon tank with 1 figure 8 puffer, 4 green spotteds, 2 silver scats, and 2 orange chromides. As with everything going on for us these days my question is about the puffers. :} Our water conditions are perfect, I test weekly. We're diligent with maintenance and making sure the little guys are happy and healthy. They get a wide variety of food for their diet. Frozen bloodworms, fresh bloodworms (for a treat) freeze dried bloodworms, freeze dried shrimp, and the odd snail (also a treat), anyway over the past few days I've noticed one of the spotteds has become very quiet. He lays on the gravel, and hides, hasn't been swimming around much (this is our tank clown, so it's been even more upsetting.) He often is found above the air stone, in the stream of bubbles, and he also infrequently will flick himself against hard aquarium objects. He hasn't really been very interested in food. Lethargic and as of late, I've noticed labored breathing. The other puffers seemed fine, so I read up and he had all of the symptoms of what seemed like gill flukes.  <agreed...the live food could easily bring it in> He had all of the symptoms, I read about doing a salt dip, and proceeded to do so. He responded well to it and went back to the tank. Then I noticed some white dots on the fin of one of the other spotteds, the original puffer it now seemed also had a few white spots...ICH.  <have you had temperature fluctuations to aggravate it... a sure catalyst> We removed the carbon and began treatment of the ich. I'm now confused, is it ICH or is it Gill Flukes? would the same behaviour, lethargy. flicking, hanging around the airstone, and difficulty breathing, loss of appetite be prevalent with Ich? Is it both?  <could be either or both... although the spots are at least Ich> I don't want to loose them. A few of them are now looking quiet, which I am partly attributing to the medication. How long should I be treating the tank? I've read anything from 2 days to 7. How will I know if they're better. I would imagine after the medication is out of the tank that they make take a few days to get back to normal. Any help would be great! Have we even made the right diagnosis? what is the best ich preventative measure.  <no colored dyes... use Formalin for scale-less fishes> Sorry for all of the questions, sometimes I just feel like I'm totally unequipped to be a fish doctor :}Thank you! Amy Miranda <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Brackish Aquarium Hi Bob, I've tried to find an article on brackish ick on your site, but no results...  <there is no such thing, my friend. No difference in the parasite> I have a brackish aquarium with 2 silver dollars, 2 chandas, 2 mollies, a Plecos and 2 bumble bees.  <the silver dollars and Plecos are far from being brackish... arguably they suffer long term in it. They are so hardy that most folks do not notice... they prefer soft, neutral to slightly acidic water with no salt whatsoever> Today, I noticed my molly (which I bought last week) had a white spot on her mouth. I would like to know if it's possible to have ick in a brackish aquarium, or if it might be another disease.  <hmmm... Ich on the mouth is uncommon to begin with. Starts with gills and fins most often. You could have something entirely different like the beginning of mouth fungus> Please answer me as soon as possible, since if it's ick, I have to be quick to prevent a major disaster... Thanks, Sofia Taborda (Portugal) <please review the FAQs and articles archived on the site to see if the symptoms and behaviors described for general Ich or mouth fungus seem similar and treat accordingly (Formalin or antibiotics... and remember to never use medicated dyes (green or blue) or copper since you have sensitive fishes (The sliver dollars and the Pleco). Anthony>


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