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FAQs on the Archerfishes, Fresh, Brackish & Marine

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Related FAQs: Brackish Water Fishes in General,

Odd Little Archer   6/3.5/13
Hello! Recently we corresponded about what to add to my red scat's tank.
Well, I now have a beautiful archer fish. He's been doing very well, except today I noticed the strangest thing.
The water is fine. Every day I add one teaspoon of marine salt (and will continue to do so for several weeks to gradually obtain the recommended two tsp per gallon advice for brackish conditions), and my water quality is good. Today I noticed him sitting on the bottom of the tank upside down.

I panicked and gently gave him a nudge, which resulted in him righting himself, returning to the top of the water and acting completely normal until several hours later he was at it again, once again returning to normalcy upon being gently nudged. He's been eating and shows no sign of infections either. Is something off (maybe salinity?) or does this fish rest upside down (as a species or perhaps a quirk of this individual just to scare the daylights out of me)?
<Have never seen, nor heard of a Toxotid acting thus that wasn't in the process of dying>
Aside from his bizarre upside down-ness, he's otherwise seemingly perfectly fine. Have you ever heard of this behavior?
<Am wondering if this specimen was damaged in collection (they're all wild caught), handling, transport... I do hope it resolves the spatial orientation issue. Bob Fenner>
Re: Odd Little Archer   6/3.5/13

Okay...now he's stuck upside down. Help?
<... with what? Do  you have a "fully brackish" system to move this fish to? BobF>
Re: Odd Little Archer      6/4/13

The salinity is at 1.004, and when I moved him to a small bowl with an airstone in it with water from the tank he was in, he was able to right himself, swim around and his colors cleared back to normal. In the tank, he is upside down or swimming erratically near the floor, but in the small bowl, he is fine.
<... what is the difference in the waters here? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate?>
I suspect swim bladder.
<... dismal. What re?... >
 Should the salinity be raised at all, or should I treat this another way? Sorry if I seem jumbled... I adore this fish and am all scrambled about seeing him suffer.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/toxotidfaqs.htm
for review. B>
Re: Odd Little Archer      6/4/13

Its the same water from his tank. His ammonia and nitrites are perfect, but the nitrates and phosphates are high.
<... keep reading>
More on Archers, attn: Bob. Stkg., hlth.       6/14/13

Hello! I ask for Bob because he wrote the archer article (fabulously informative). I wrote about a week and a half ago or so about my sick archer- sadly, he didn't make it. This may be a tad long...please bear with me.
<Take your time>
Now, this cannot be coincidence. I work at the store I got him from.
There, he was healthy in appearance, happy, and eating. Two days after he came home to me he became sick with various ailments (one after another) and unfortunately after a week of fighting he didn't make it. I was crushed.
My water tests revealed zeroes across the board for ammonia and nitrites.
Nitrate was approximately 5. Salinity was at 1.008 (my red scat in said tank is just fine, merrily swimming about and being adorable, no signs of illness). The archer had improved for a day or two after antifungal treatments and promptly crashed again, not recovering that time.
Now, here's the interesting part- he was the sole survivor of the shipment we got of them a month ago.
<Likely all lost from related... handling damage, stress. Happens with a  few groups of fishes... including Toxotids. These just don't handle being captured, held, shipped well>
All of the others didn't survive very long,

despite even the stores near-perfect water. We got another shipment in shortly after I took mine home- several of them came down with the same symptoms mine did (upside down, cloudy eyes, dark grey/black bellies). We lost several. My hypothesis is that these animals are highly sensitive to travel- a healthy fish can stress so tremendously that they fall ill and die often. I've read about them being 'possibly' travel sensitive....just how severe is it?
<Can be extreme... as you relate>
Do you think this was a mere unlucky coincidence? Should I try again with another archer? What is the best way to transport them so they do not panic and get horribly sick?
<Mmm, I'd wait for "a good batch"... leave at the store (and wholesalers) for a week or so>
Thank you so much for all of your assistance. You guys do a lot of good for people and their beloved aquatic friends.
<Ahh, thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>
Re: More on Archers, attn: Bob      6/16/13

The good batch worries me...mine was dandy for the month he was at my work.
However, this time we have six survivors out of the bunch. That's better than last time. Do you have advice for a stress-free way to transport?
<Not a fan of anesthetics w/ this family... but use of close to 100% oxygen and placing in a largish bag, laid on its side (for surface area), in a thermally insulated box/container... in the dark... is best>
Thank you so much....again!
<Glad to share. BobF>
Re: More on Archers   /Neale       6/16/13
<<Bob, Tori, May I chime in here?
<Please do Neale>
Do try to identify the Archers you have. Not all are brackish/marine fish. According to Frank Schaefer, it's a freshwater to low-end brackish species that's traded the most commonly. I'm not so sure, but do routinely see three species traded, all as the Common Archer, Toxotes jaculatrix, so I don't think the trade makes much/any effort to distinguish. Do try and read Gerald Allen's excellent paper on Toxotes kimberleyensis, which includes a decent dichotomous key for telling the various Toxotes species apart; see here:
If all else fails, keep your Archers at a low specific gravity, SG 1.005 at 25 C/77 F, until such time as you can positively identify them otherwise. The "freshwater" species in the trade, Toxotes microlepis, will be perfectly happy at this low salinity, and it'll be sufficiently salty to keep the other two species, T. jaculatrix and T. chatareus, content too. Hmm… what else. Do agree with Bob about shipping; a lot of the brackish species seem to be sensitive to low oxygenation (perhaps reflecting their preference for shallow, even surf-zone habitats; Monos are the classic example here) and I'd ask to have each fish bagged separately and generously, and ideally top the bags with oxygen rather than air. On the plus side, once settled in these fish are extremely hardy and very long-lived. I've found them pretty intolerant of one another under aquarium conditions, so if you keep a group, keep several, not two or three. Cheers, Neale.>>

Re: More on Archers, attn: Bob     6/17/13
I was trying to identify them using that site...they won't flare for me, so I cannot count the dorsal spines. I have attached an image of the healthiest one in the tank, though...perhaps you'd have better luck. We sell them as jaculatrix, but I suspect they could also be microlepis.
<I'd say these are Toxotes jaculator>
I really want to try again, as I adored my little guy and he was gorgeous, but I worry also because the pure oxygen is not something we have at my store.
<Larger-est bags, half filled w/ water. Bob Fenner>

Re: More on Archers, attn: Bob     6/17/13
Groovy. Thank you.
<Wowzah Tori! How olde are we?! Cheers, BobF> 

Re: More on Archers, attn: Bob 6/18/2013
Haha, 24 but seemingly stuck in another time. XD
<Ah yes. Cool baby, B>
archers   /Neale 6/18/2013

Hello Bob,
Judging by the smaller spots between the wedges, and the separation between the two spots on the dorsal and the bars on the body, I'd reckon those archers in the photo are T. microlepis.
<Mmm, I suspect what I sold, mis-sold for years may well have been this species>
Counting the dorsal fin spines will clinch the deal, and may be easiest if one of the fish is netted and examined carefully. Only T. jaculatrix has 5 spines; all the others have 4. Do see G Allen re:.
In any case their growth rate will be indicative; T. microlepis get to 12-15 cm; T. jaculatrix around twice that size.
Would keep these at low-end brackish rather than anything higher.
<Am hoping the querior will see this, write back in so I/you can refer her.
Thank you, BobF>
Cheers, Neale
Re: fw: re: archers, Tori, please see Neale's ID input
Yep! After much excitement, I netted one of them (much to his dismay). He has one small spine attached to his dorsal fin, and four prominent spines after that. The fifth spine confirms him and his friends as Jaculatrix, yes?
<Mmm, well, according to Neale's statement it seems so; though Fishbase lists this species as having four dorsal spines:
and T. microlepis having 4 or 5... Am unable to see Allen's monograph online>
I plan on putting one of them with my red scat, who will eventually be put in full marine conditions...will that be suitable for the archer, too?
Over time, of course. -T
<I have never seen this species kept permanently in full-strength seawater; and would not do this. Bob Fenner>
<<Do agree with Bob that keeping Toxotes jaculatrix or Toxotes chatareus in fully marine conditions is not normally done, although they likely do occur in such at times in the wild, and are thought (on the basis of little evidence I'm aware of) to spawn on reefs. Middling salinity, around SG 1.005 to 1.010, is ideal for these species, and perfectly acceptable for companion species such as Monos, Scats, Ariid catfish, large Sleeper Gobies, etc. Cheers, Neale>>

Re: More on Archers, also BR acclim. f'     6/20/13
One last thing- when acclimating an archer kept in freshwater at work to my brackish water at home, should I just use an airline drip over an hour or so, or I'd there a better method?
<The drip method is overkill; brackish water fish have evolved to tolerate rapid changes in salinity, and don't need such molly-coddling. If you're going from freshwater to low-end brackish (up to SG 1.005) then you can simply net them out of one tank and pop them into the other. Or do the water changes to up the salinity in the tank. Whatever. For bigger changes, then putting them in a bucket part filled with water and doing 2-3 additions of new water to change the salinity (and fill the bucket) will be adequate, perhaps over 30 minutes. Keep a lid on the bucket though -- Archers are incredible jumpers.
Cheers, Neale.>

Toxotes blythii tank questions     11/13/12
Hello WWM!
 I went to a local fish store yesterday, and found Toxotes blythii.  I currently have a 90 gallon that is sitting empty, and was wondering what I should do with it, and I think I found the answer with the T. Blythii, but had some questions.
<Fire away.>
1. In a 90 gallon aquarium, would a shoal be good (5 to be exact)?
<Should be. Maximum length of this species is unknown, but likely around the 12-15 cm mark.>
2. Temperature between 77-82, with hard water, and dim lighting?
<Would keep the tank closer to 25 C/77 F so that oxygenation isn't an issue. Only if they seem listless or off their food would I bump the temperature up, but always keeping a close eye on gill ventilation rates to make sure that the fish are getting enough oxygen. Toxotes spp. are very sensitive to overstocked, under-oxygenated tanks. As for water chemistry, hard water isn't ideal, but shouldn't cause any major problems either.>
3.  Tank mates?  I know Congo tetras would be good, but what about a species of bottom dwellers, such as a Cory cat, or region specific fish?
<Anything with the same requirements but too large to eat (Toxotes are very piscivorous). Some sort of L-number Plec would make the best companion.
Avoid anything aggressive, like cichlids or some of the loaches. Corydoras do require cooler water and are too easily consumed, so I wouldn't choose those.>
4.  Would a planted tank make the T. Blythii feel more comfortable?
I was planning on using lots of driftwood since they originate from forested areas, and I was assuming they would like the "roots" to swim through.
<At least, roots around the edges of the tank, or else tall plants like Amazon Swords or Vallisneria. They do need lots of open space as well though, and aren't really "hiders".>
5. Would a paludarium be a better set-up for these guys? Land area for crickets, and other carnivorous foods?
<Not really necessary, and given you only have 90 gallons, don't waste the space. If you want to see them spit, you can lower the waterline at water change time, stick some bits of prawn to the glass, and they'll eventually spit at it (that's how I trained my brackish water Toxotes). Do see my Brackish FAQ for more on how this is done.
As for diet, a good mix of live insects and frozen foods is helpful, but base the diet around a quality pellet like Hikari Cichlid Gold is what you're after.>
Sorry for the questions, I just can't seem to find any information on their habitat.  I would absolutely love to get some, but will not if I can't provide them an adequate environment.
<These fish are hearty and adaptable, so while expensive, they aren't in themselves difficult to keep. Bullying is the main issue with Toxotes, but you have a group, so should be fine.>
Thanks for your time,
<Welcome, Neale.>

Archerfish (Toxotes microlepis), sys.      7/3/12
Hello all! I'm back again with some questions!
<Fire away.>
As a refresher I currently have a 65g archerfish tank with 5 Toxotes microlepis. All are doing well, if not that, wonderful!  Anyways I'll be moving the little water guns down into the basement and was wondering if bringing the water level down say about 1/3 of the way so I could transform the tank into a paludarium would be viable?
<Sure, so long as volume of the water remains appropriate to the size/number of fish being kept.>
Would lessening the water volume for this to happen be a good idea In your eyes?
<Reducing water volume is always bad because it reduces buffering against pH swings and water quality problems. So it's never an improvement from the point of view of simple fishkeeping. But if it allows you to do other things with the aquarium, that may be a trade-off worth making. For these fish, I'd want at least 45, 50 gallons for them. They are quite big and >
Or would simply finding larger (taller) tank be preferred?
<Certainly a better idea. You may be able to build an "extension" from glass, acrylic or even reptile cage mesh that allows you to build upwards, since this part of the tank doesn't need to hold water.>
If so what size tank/ dimensions would you think be fitting for a half water/ land planted tank?
<You only need another 20 cm/8 inches above the waterline to provide a good starting point for paludarium plants.>
Whatever the tank size I'll be making an overhang ledge for which I'll plant the plants on thus literally leaving the bottom half of the tank open for the fish. Any Ideas or suggestions welcomed!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Archerfish (Toxotes microlepis)     7/4/12

Thanks Neale! Always enjoy your responses!
<Glad to help, Neale.>

Toxotes microlepis and figure eight puffers, comp.?     1/11/12
Hey guys! Still trying to get a hold of a group of Toxotes microlepis at one time rather than increasing them one by one to my 65Gallon tank. Was thinking about tank mates and was wondering that if i kept the salinity in the low-end region, say 1.003sg would figure eight puffers be an appropriate tank mate? I was thinking "no" at first for a few reasons
-puffers being fin nippers, and possibly trying to nibble/take chinks of the archers
<Yes. A lot depends on the size of the tank and the relative sizes of the fish. Big Archers will view small Puffers as food. Archers are EXTREMELY efficient piscivores, far more predatory than many assume. On the other hand, in a really big aquarium a single adult Puffer may do little harm when kept alongside a school of adult Archers. Figure-8s aren't especially nasty fish, more experimental diners than dedicated fin-eaters.>
-Puffers being somewhat "mean" although I don't have experience with the figure eight puffer I know some of the freshwater species can be little boogers.
<Oh yes, but that holds true for most Puffers generally. Puffers view other fish as at least potential meals, and in the confines of the aquarium, that potential becomes more real. Sure, Puffers aren't built for speed, and in the wild, they mostly fail when attacking other fish and instead go for slow moving or sessile prey like clams, crabs, etc. But in an aquarium, especially a small one, it's hard for the other fish to "get away" so the Puffers have more opportunity to cause harm.>
-The archers eventually getting to about 6" and possibly seeing the 2-2 1/2 in puffers as food even thought the puffers seem to be more so rounded out.
however i thought it was worth asking for these reasons:
-Both can tolerate the salt, in this case the puffers requiring the salt, and the Toxotes microlepis being tolerant and not bothered by anything over 1.005sg i believe it was so it seems like a happy medium.
<Yes; SG 1.003 would be ideal, and allow potential for plants, which would break up lines of sight and provide distractions for the Puffer. In the wild Puffers swim across solid objects, scanning for prey. The more surfaces in the aquarium, the busier they'll be, and the less they'll be attracted to other fish. Plants provide lots of complex surfaces, and if you feed regularly, the Puffers will be nicely distracted.>
-I can still have most of my hardy lowlight plants and jungle Val (one strand is 4ft long haha its crazy how fast its growing in the harder water!) in this salinity.
<Quite so; Vallisneria loves hard water and thrives in low end brackish, SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F.>
-If the two species do work out together its sure to be an awesome show tank as i am quite the oddball lover and friends keep telling me they want to see me get a puffer....lol of course not without proper research!
-Also it will give me some experience with keeping salinity levels stable for when i wish to travel into saltwater...eventually.
<Quite so. On the other hand, Green Spotted Puffers do well in marine aquaria and get along well with Damsels, so for "trying out", GSPs might make more sense. If you can get them, Chelonodon patoca might be a very beautiful alternative, another Puffer that enjoys brackish to marine conditions.>
So lend me some info in terms of compatibility of these two very different species, i have a hunch it wont work but it cant hurt to ask either!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Toxotes microlepis and figure eight puffers   1/11/12

Thanks once again Neale! Your comments and info really helped!
<Glad to help.>
My tank is a 65 gallon tank 48"long 18 or 16" wide and about 20 "tall, although it seems the width is greater than the height.
<I see.>
I ordered some wood that branches off of a single branch and am going to flip it upside down to create a root likes structure for shelter from my relatively bright lighting and for a place to seek shelter.
As for the archers, my Lfs is trying to specifically get in the Toxotes microlepis for me as i helped describe the particular species markings with back up support from you when i sent in the "ID this archerfish" email, and have to say because of this, i really love my Lfs. They said the archers will get in at about 2" or so sometimes 3-4" as well.
<Yes. The really small ones can be delicate, but the size you're talking about here should be fine. Get them settled in and eating before you add the Puffers.>
As for the puffers i was getting a bit mixed up in your reply as to whether its just a problem with the archers viewing the puffers as food when young, or even when both species are at full size.
<Archers will view any fish small enough to swallow (about third their size) as food. That mouth of theirs is HUGE. But an adult Figure-8 should be safe enough with Toxotes microlepis, these archers only getting to about 12 cm/5 inches. So when it comes to the adults, the risk is whether the Puffs will nip the Archers. At a pinch, I'd risk this, but ONLY if I had a Plan B for rehousing one or other species if needs be.>
The sizes along with the temperament of the puffers (although seems like it could be curved by keeping their environment full of line of sight breaking decor and a full belly of food ) makes it seem as though it boils down to a no when it comes to housing these 2 species in a tank like mine being the 65 gallons.
<Yes, 65 US gallons would be a bit small for comfort. Possible, yes, but risky without a Plan B. Now, 100 gallons would be more sensible gamble.>
Or is it more of a case of keeping up with the needs of both fish to keep them happy? Will the archers be guaranteed to try and go after the puffers when at full size even if both are introduced to the system at a relatively same size and or time?
<Adult Archers will view a baby Puffer as food, no question. But provided the sizes of each species are similar, then predation by the Archer on the Puff shouldn't be a problem.>
Sorry for all the questions, i just really enjoy researching fish hahaha...sold my Xbox for aquarium plants, now tell me that's not dedication!
<I agree!>
<Best, Neale.>
Re: Toxotes microlepis <stkg. now> and figure eight puffers   1/11/12

So in terms of the archers, I've talked to you before on how many in a 65 gallon tank. Are groups of 5-6 necessarily better? <Yes.>
Is there a better sense of security between them when they are in groups, as i recall you informing me that a single archer alone will be fine alone.
<Singletons are easy to keep, but a bit shy and nervous. In groups they behave more confidentially and naturally, but they can be aggressive towards one another if you don't keep enough. From experience, 2 or 3 isn't a number I'd recommend, and the more, the better. Five should be fine.>
I assume the space issue is due to the 5-6 5 inch archers versus the smaller puffers even though the puffers are quite the messy eaters and producers of ammonia as well.
<Yes. Do also peruse today's FAQs; we had one message from someone who had a Figure-8 that dismembered her Mollies! These fish are NOT predictable.
Few are as nasty as that, but do understand the risks and have a Plan B if you see anything untoward happening.>
I also remember that if you keep them in groups of 3, more than likely one of the archers will get picked on. Anything you can enlighten me on in terms of the subject? Thanks again haha
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Toxotes microlepis and figure eight puffers   1/14/12

Ruling the puffer fish out. Was just curious about them more so. Can you recommend any other fish? Or are 5 Toxotes microlepis in a 65 gallon tank pretty full already?
i really like the African brown knife fish, and their smaller size compared to other  knife fish seems to make them a good choice for my size tank.
<Quite so. Excellent fish, and potentially viable with T. microlepis.>
So how about this
5x Toxotes microlepis
1x Brown African knifefish
and if its not too crowded and does not out compete for food with the Knifefish, possibly an active bottom dweller during daytime hours might be appropriate? Sorry for re stating old questions Neale, I'm just not so used to having a large tank...lol
<Cheers, Neale.>

Archers with Asian community tank  3/4/12

Hey everyone! Well my 65 gallon tank with my 5 Toxotes microlepis are dong great however i was wanting to change around the stocking a bit and was wondering if some of these ideas might work with the archers,,,
1. Was really hoping for possibly a school of full grown tiger barbs, as the archers are still young lings (not for long) but it gives the tigers a bit of time to grow as large as they can. Since i know the archers will attempt to eat most anything in their mouth i thought the tigers would be all right since their body shape isn't as narrow and are a bit chunky..
<And fast and quite smart. Should get along>
2. Possibly along with the tiger barbs, a singe rainbow shark (actually not a shark I'm aware) or a red tailed black shark (more aggressive I've read)
<And this>
Let me know what you think! thanks!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: archers with Asian community tank     4/4/12

Thank you very much Mr. Fenner! Would you recommend one over the other in regards to the rainbow shark and or red tailed black shark?
<Both/either can be territorially aggressive, but I like the Red Tail better for looks. BobF>
Re: archers with Asian community tank      4/4/12

Sounds like a plan! Im sure the tiger barbs could hold their own, and I definitely know the archers are more than tough enough to bite back if threatened. Thanks again Mr. Fenner!
oh ok one last question, would you say that's about it in terms of keeping in a tank of this size? Being the 5 archers a school of tiger barbs and a red tailed black shark? If there's still a bit more room I guess ill u the tiger barb count... how many might you recommend? Somewhere around 15?
Possibly 20?
<Mmm, I'd stick w/ seven or nine... the Archers really need/appreciate more free room... much better for your enjoyment of their behavior. BobF>

Archerfish id! 1/20/12
Hey everyone! I finally got a nice group of archers for my 65 gallon tank!
I used some of Neale's info to help id them at the store but after being home for about a week their even more brilliantly colored/ patterned and wanted to make sure they are Toxotes microlepis like i have planned to keep.
<Yes, these do look like Toxotes microlepis to me. It's hard to be 100% sure, but that's what I'd call these ones. They have two discrete spots on the second dorsal fin, and irregular spots between the vertical wedges on the flanks.>
Right now i only have a group of 4 but will be getting a 5 archer very very soon, that way bullying (which i haven't seen) will be kept to a minimum.
There is one thing that concerns me however and it is the coloration of the last archer, it will be the last photo attached to the email, because compared to the others he has a relatively more so luster appearance.
However when i was trying to ID them at the lfs i was looking for the bars with the dot in between but the 2 major characteristics being the somewhat faded appearance of the vertical bars as you get lower on the fish, and also the dual spots on the dorsal fin that ARE NOT connected to the bars (if they were i think that would mean it might have been Toxotes jaculatrix),
<Agreed; I think this is still Toxotes microlepis. All Archers can/do vary in colouration dramatically. Toxotes jaculatrix has 4 spines in its first dorsal fin; all the other Toxotes species including Toxotes microlepis have 5. That's the best way to be sure.>
were still evident on the last archer, even though he had a bit more silvery body. He is slightly smaller than the rest (not really drastic at all in size difference), so I'm wondering if its just because he's a bit younger, or possibly its a difference in the sexes? I wouldn't think so being i don't believe their adults yet...and most fish species don't show sexual differences
until adults. Or possibly its just because they differ in patterns slightly and he just happens to be more of a silver tinge. I really doubt that he's not Toxotes microlepis, as all the rest of his markings are almost the exact same as the others...
Any insight would be welcomed!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Archerfish feeding (was Re: Archerfish id!) 1/21/12
Awesome thanks Neale! These guys are THE BEST! Their so cool! I even built an extension of my tank and screened it so it basically acts as an archer fish shooting range!
Their not shy, are always roaming around, and best yet, when it comes to feeding time i can say that i own 5 power washers!
Was also wondering about one more thing. Can you help me come up with a good feeding schedule/variety of foods? So far live crickets are their favorites (go figure) and 2nd best are freeze dried whole baby shrimps....possibly because they look like crickets? Other wise they reluctantly take flake and don't care for the high protein cichlid pellets....Any recommendations? Also how much should i feed them? Their like little garbage disposals, they eat so much...
<My Archers happily took Hikari Cichlid Gold as a staple, with crickets, frozen seafood and tilapia fillet used as periodic treats; once, twice per day, enough to keep their bellies gently convex but not swollen. Since Archers are essentially marine fish, you'd do well perusing what's written on marine fish nutrition; start here, about five-sixths of the way down, section "Foods/Feeding/Nutrition":
In particular, the FAQs on Amounts and Frequency. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Archerfish feeding (was Re: Archerfish id!) 1/21/12

Hikari gold it is! When you say archers are basically marine fish, what exactly do you mean? In terms of feeding, like in sw where its recommended to feed small but several times a day, or literally saying archers are really close to actual marine fish, due to the whereabouts of their habitat?
<Any and all these observations. Archers evolved from marine fish, often live in habitats close to the sea, and at least some species still breed in the sea. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Archerfish feeding (was Re: Archerfish id!)

Thanks Neale, I really appreciate all your help! Just got a small package of Hikari gold to try! Hopefully they like it! Oh and just wondering, which archer fish species have you kept?
<Ah, back in my day they were all sold as Toxotes jaculatrix, and honestly, that was 20+ years ago and I can't remember if they really were that species. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Archerfish feeding (was Re: Archerfish id!) 1/21/12

Sounds like it has still been staying the same then...haha...too bad non of the other freshwater species are commonly traded. Well thanks for your help!
<Here in the UK it is certainly possible to get Toxotes blythii from specialist stores like Wildwoods. They're not cheap, well over $100 a piece! But they're beautiful fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Archerfish. Gen. 10/6/11
Hey there again folks! Was looking on Craigslist and found a very nice 55 gallon tank with canister filter, stand, lights, and all for only 60$ .. no cracks leaks or anything (or nothing I have seen yet O.o)... anyways this past week I have really been reading up on my archer fish info, as I'm curious as to housing a couple in this possibly soon to be acquired 55 gallon tank. However I ran into some confusion and questions as I've been reading (more so species related). So here we go!
1. I've read 55 gallons is the minimum tank size... but for which species? From what I've been reading, fish stores generally get in 3 types of archer fish. Two of which being true brackish and the third being somewhat lighter on the salt...?
<55 gallons is about right for a small group of Toxotes microlepis. These rarely get bigger than 10-12 cm and like all Archers are best kept either singly or in groups of at least 5 specimens because they tend to be aggressive in smaller groups. Toxotes jaculatrix and Toxotes chatareus have the potential to get very much bigger, in the wild occasionally to 40 cm, but really, under aquarium conditions between 15-20 cm is more typical. Still, they're bigger fish and while a singleton might be kept in 55 gallons, it wouldn't really be happy. I'd recommend these for 100+ gallon systems, in all honesty.>
2. Which species am I looking at considering the tank size? I will most likely be lowering the water a tad so I may have some UN-submerged wood or plants for cricket target practice or high jump Olympics (wire top most likely to prevent overboard casualties). I've also read that some of these commonly found species can get up to a foot (1') in length, which common sense can tell anyone that a 1' fish wont be happy in a 18" wide tank with barely any room... so which species is the smaller 5-6" I've read about?
<Toxotes microlepis is the smallest of the three widely traded species. Toxotes blythii may also stay the same size, but it's rare and expensive, though exceptionally beautiful.>
3. Do all archerfish species display their unique food/feeding technique? Does one, say, jump more so than utilizing their super soakers?
<They all seem much of a muchness.>
4. We go on quite frequent vacations at times and am wondering if a 1 week (sometimes 2 at max {long for any fish species to go without food, yes I know}) famine would cause harm in there carnivorous beauties? Since they mainly eat live/ frozen food, I wouldn't think that an automatic feeder would be appropriate or practical. PS: no one is allowed to come into the house during our vacations...parents rules not mine (their house, their rules!)'¦
<Absolutely not a problem. As with most carnivores, two weeks without food will cause no problems at all. Feed well beforehand insofar as they're plump rather than fat, and then lower the temperature to the minimum for the species to reduce metabolism. And that's it! Newly imported specimens may be underweight, so these you may need to feed properly for a few weeks before leaving alone.>
Look forward to any info you can rub off! Hopefully going to get at least the tank going soon... still need to buy it haha... thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Archerfish. More ID... 10/6.5/11

Alright thanks for helping me clarify the correct species, luckily I'm pretty sure my LFS can order some in as I've seen them have MULTIPLE types of archers before (different splotch patterns and scale size)... but just to make sure when I get the Toxotes microlepis once the tank is set up im looking for individual circles in between the larger stripes correct?
<Not really. Spots can occur between vertical bars on other species. T. chatareus is usually easy to tell because it's "smokier" than the other species, tending to have a more grey colour all over than the bright silver of the other two, though the other two can go grey when stressed! It does tend to have a regular pattern of 6-7 bars with spots in between all of them though, whereas the spots on T. microlepis are irregular and may not be between all the bars, and on T. jaculatrix there *usually* aren't any spots between the bars at all. T. jaculatrix normally has 4-5 vertical bars and a thick black edge to the dorsal fin that merges with the last vertical bar. On T. microlepis the pattern is similar, though as noted often with one or more spots in between the wedges, and the dorsal fin doesn't have a thick black edge but instead two black spots of varying size. There are idealised drawings on my Brackish FAQ, here:
Do also spend some time looking at images on reliable sources such as Fishbase. Toxotes microlepis is widely traded, but almost never under its true name, though one or two good shops in the UK do import it under the Toxotes microlepis name and call it the Freshwater Archerfish. This name is accurate, this is a freshwater species, but sadly most other shops will happily sell T. jaculatrix or T. chatareus as "freshwater" Archerfish.>
Along with about 5 rays in the dorsal fin correct?
<Toxotes jaculatrix has 4 spines at the front of the dorsal fin; all other species have 5. This trait is very difficult to see on live specimens though. Do see online the paper "Toxotes kimberleyensis, a New Species of Archerfish (Pisces: Toxotidae) from Fresh Waters of Western Australia" for a full dichotomous key allowing you to identify all Archerfish species.>
And for a 55 gallon (will be doing heavy filtration, ideally will have 2 canister filters)
<Well worth doing; these riverine fish appreciate current.>
you and I've read of others who recommend at least a group of 5. Of course this will be a species only tank and also curious, how low should I drop the water to observe their unusual feeding behaviors?
<I got them spitting at water change time at the weekend. Lower the water level at least 15 cm, stick bits of food on the glass, and they should get the hint, especially if it's a food item, like chunks of fish or seafood, they've eaten before. They're quite smart. Obviously leave the filter running. After you've had your fun, add the new water. Makes a tedious job much more entertaining! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Archerfish. 10/6.5/11
Well I might as well write a "book of thank you's" because of how much help you are Neale!
<Do see the "tip jar" on the front of the WWM site!>
Exciting news by the way! my parents are allowing me to get a 75 gallon with tank and stand I found on Craigslist for even less money than that of the 55 gallon! So this brings up another quick question. In a 75 gallon tank could I keep the Archer fish #'s still at 5-6 (would more be even more beneficial {lol these are going to cost a fortune for all of them..}) and are there any other fish that you can recommend to keep as tank mates?
<Lots! For Toxotes microlepis, you'd be keeping them in either hard freshwater or low-end brackish. So pretty much any South American catfish, say, or Spiny Eel would work in the freshwater species, while in low-end brackish something like Sailfin Mollies or Knight Gobies would be about right in terms of size and requirements. T. jaculatrix and T. chatareus are bigger and need more saline conditions -- they won't do well in freshwater -- so tankmates would include things like Monos, Scats, Green Chromides, Black-chin Tilapia, Violet Gobies, etc.>
Or would keeping it still as a species tank be best? If there are any possibilities, I'd think some sort of bottom dweller catfish, goby, or crustacean/shrimp would be neat...but then again its only if there are suitable tank mates... (ps: I did research this topic, but couldn't find much especially as the freshwater species being targeted to keep)...But even if I were to say put other fish in, if they are small enough wouldn't the archers just eat them up? Or are archers not that eager when food is being dropped from the heavens into the tank (I'd think natural behavior would still be there since these aren't captive bred, but wild specimens).
<Archers are excellent community fish, but they will swallow any live prey they can, including surprisingly large fish. They do take pellets though, including Cichlid Gold, an excellent staple. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Archerfish. -- 10/07/11

Wow sounds like these Toxotes microlepis archers can be quite the catch (pun not intended) if you get the right species and not one of the others!
<Yes. Wildwoods in London, England, gets them most years, but they're priced at a premium compared to the "lucky dip" brackish water Archers on sale elsewhere. As you say, well worth spending a bit more money on if you want true freshwater Archers.>
I was reading your last reply and my eyes perked up when you said Spiny eels as a possible as far as tank mates go! I used to have what was called by the common name of a Starry Night Eel, unfortunately it was at the beginning of my fish keeping hobby so I didn't know the exact care requirements...but am familiar now with general care with all spiny eels.
<Good. They're far from easy fish, and most starve to death or jump out.>
There for was wondering which species would be best with the 5 or 6-ish archers, obviously I don't want to overstock but I need help since I'm so used to stocking small 20g and under tanks that I have had before and well... just seems strange keeping so many fish that are 8x the size of a tiger barb hahaha! I've always admired the larger and thicker bodied spiny eels such as the commonly found fire eel, and my favorite the tire track eel aka: Mastacembelus armatus!
<Some debate over whether this species is the Tyre-Track or whether it's Mastacembelus favus. In any case, have indeed kept Tyre-Track Eels in slightly brackish water with young Archers. Works well.>
From what I've read it seems these are probably the most common of the larger spiny eels, but size wise, the fire eel being larger and lengthier with the tire track eel not far behind (or so I've read).
<Fire Eels do tend to get much bigger and are more overtly predatory.
Toxotes microlepis might be a bit too small to be kept safely with Fire Eels, but they should be fine with Tyre-Tracks. Do also look at the excellent species Macrognathus aral, a beautiful, sociable species that gets to about 50-60 cm long and lives in both freshwater and low-end brackish (SG 1.003).>
Basically what I'm asking is, would a single tire track eel work in a 75 gallon with the archers?
I'm curious as the tire track eel is/can be kept or tolerate light brackish or some salt vs. some of the other spiny eel species. So if for whatever reason I needed to I could add the right dosage of salt so that neither the archers or the eel would mind (I'd still keep it mainly semi hard fw though). Look forward to your reply, oh and I have a date set to meet the man who is selling the 75 gallon! Exciting stuff!
<Spiny Eels are good tankmates for Archers because they feed mostly from the bottom, while the Archers feed from the top. Also, Archers sleep by night, whereas Spiny Eels are primarily nighttime fish. So it's fairly easy to ensure each gets the right food. I would get the Eel first, get it settled in and feeding, ideally from long forceps (the ones used by aquarium gardeners are ideal!) and once that happens, you can get the archers. In a freshwater tank or low-end brackish one you could easily keep something like Mollies for midwater denizens, and the both the Archers and the Eel would eat any surplus fry, so you could use the Sailfin Mollies to turn algae and leftovers into live food treats! Cheers, Neale.>

ID Archer fish 10/11/11
Hey there everyone! (I'm hoping this one gets sent to Neale, as it pertains to a conversation we had about archer fish for a 75 gallon with tire track eel and so on)
Anyways, I'm still trying to get in contact with the man who's selling the 75 gallon tank but that's besides the point. I think my LFS has some of the Toxotes microlepis I've been looking for just so I know I would be able to find them once I got a tank set up and dedicated for them. Anyways I'm not exactly sure if they are Toxotes microlepis so I took some pictures of the two they pulled out of the pond (I was only able to see them from above at first) and put them in a little bowl for me to snap some pictures (got to love having an awesome lfs that will help ya out!). So I've attached the picture files in this email for a more professional ID.
<These do look like T. microlepis to me. Do try and count the dorsal fin spines; 4 for Toxotes jaculatrix, 5 for the others; and then double check the colouration, as per the key given Allen here:
"Toxotes kimberleyensis, a New Species of Archerfish (Pisces: Toxotidae) from Fresh Waters of Western Australia"
But yes, I agree, these do look like T. microlepis. For what it's worth, Frank Schafer in the Aqualog Brackish Water Fishes book argues that this is the most commonly imported species. I've attached a photo that Bob might want to add to the Daily FAQ page <will certainly do. B> as well, or the Archerfish page <and here>. It's a Toxotes microlepis imported under this name by Wildwoods, Enfield, in London. Note the two spots on the back half of the dorsal fin, and the way those spots are clearly separate from the final two bands on the flank. On Toxotes jaculatrix the spots and the bands typically join, and on Toxotes chatareus there are usually a much clearer set of six or seven vertical bands with spots in between them, as well as much darker overall colouration. But note that it's very difficult to be 100% sure, and secure identification depends upon things like fin ray and scale counts.>
I know the pictures aren't the best but I hope they help... The archers that are in the pictures (2 of them) were juveniles about 3ish more like 4 inches long (im terrible with guessing measurements) Both of which showed faint continuation of the bands going further down the body as well as no bands connecting or splurging onto the dorsal fin.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ID Archer fish -- 10/12/11
Well Neale I'm definitely having fun with this little project! Love getting into this with experienced Aquarists such as your self! (really hope to be doing something in this realm as a job... but that needs more research on my part...). Any who, its interesting that both the archers they had both had the double EXTREMELY distinct black spots on the Dorsal fin. Also relieved as one of them had a more so tainted darker appearance or at least had some marbling at the end of its tail or at least splotches actually
going on the chair as seen in the pictures... Just so pumped that they actually have the right species! will try and look at their dorsal spines.
A little off topic, how would Rainbow fish do in a tank with these mini sized archers (need to research the rainbows of course, but saw some extremely vibrant reds, neon dwarf blues, and boeseman's rainbowfish while at my lfs) As you said in a 75 gallon with 5 or so of the archers and a tire track eel, I could keep some mollies as well, but could I kind of switch the mollies for some rainbows? just wondering!
<Rainbowfish too large to be swallowed can, do work well with Archerfish.
Have done this combination using Melanotaenia splendida and Melanotaenia boesemani. Melanotaenia praecox might be a bit small. Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Archer 9/7/11
We purchased a Toxotes blythii yesterday.
<Nice fish!>
It has white stripe on tip of its tail (caudal) fin. I am concerned that this may be a fungus of some type, but I am having trouble finding pictures of this fish at this age. All of the high quality images online seem to be of younger fish, that have somewhat different coloring than my fish. I have attached a picture of the fish, but could not get a picture on any setting to accurately show his white stripe. This picture does show it, but it just appears the same blue as the background. I don't know if you will be able to determine anything from this picture. I am trying to determine if this is just the coloration of this species of fish, or if there is a problem.
<Very hard to tell from this photo. Need a close up of the tail. But for now, here's some tips for telling Fungus and Finrot: Fungus will look like obvious white or grey fluffy threads. It used to be called "Cotton Wool Disease" and that's a good descriptive name. Finrot tends to start with cloudy patches or pinkish blobs on the fins. It often, but not always, is associated with fin damage. As the disease progresses, the fin erodes from the trailing edge inwards towards the body, with the fin membrane dissolving a bit faster than the fin bones, so you see a characteristic ragged edge to the fin.>
The fish is currently in a 55 gallon tank that has been set up for about 2 years with 0 ammonia or nitrites. He did have a fairly long drive home, so he presumably was quite stressed while in his bag and was exposed to some ammonia. Since he was a fairly expensive (and NEAT!) fish, I am somewhat paranoid about potential problems with him. He was eating frozen food while at the store (he had been there for about a month), but he has not eaten tonight. (I am not totally surprised by this because he has only been here for 24 hours.) Thank-you very much for your time.
<Archerfish are sensitive to travel and new aquaria, but they do settle in quickly. My specimens always enjoyed Hikari Cichlid Gold but live crickets are an especial treat. Don't worry about feeding too much in the first few days. Watch water quality, and don't do anything to spook your fish.
Archers are notorious jumpers, and when stressed, may jump about, damaging their snouts. Cheers, Neale.>

full size pic

Re: Freshwater Archer 9/8/11
Hello Again-
As of yesterday, (2 days after bringing this fish home), he appeared to be doing better.
The line at the end of his tail was mostly gone, I think it was a little bit of Finrot. But this morning, he has apparently taken a turn for the worse. He does have Finrot very slightly on one pectoral fin. He also has a fungus on one eye.
<Fungus, or merely damage to the cornea? The latter is quite common with Archers because they tend to jump into the hood of the tank.>
I did a water change, and tested the water. There is 0 ammonia or nitrites. However, the nitrates are quite high, (around 40?).
<High, but not dangerous for these fish.>
We are in the process of switching to pure RO water with Replenish added.
Our tap water has VERY high nitrates, and is very hard and alkaline.
<Which the Archer shouldn't mind. These fish really aren't that fussed about water chemistry.>
We were using 80% RO water, and 20% tap water to deal with those issues, which left the pH of the water at 7.0 and the water was somewhere between moderately soft and hard. (I can only get test strips, as opposed to the kits, for gH and kH locally.) This mixture also still left the nitrates at about 20. I also tested the pH of the water, and it showed about 6.4 or less.
<If you use too much RO water, you will have a pH that drops quite quickly because there isn't enough carbonate hardness. By default, a 50/50 mix of tap water and RO water should provide excellent conditions. I keep most of my fish that way, and my water is also very hard and very high in nitrate.>
(Maybe I am colorblind, but I have a hard time determining which color the water in the test tube compares to on the chart for some of those test kits.) After the water change, the Archer began swimming upside down.
There was a small temperature change due to my rush to do a water change, about 2 degrees F. (A mistake, I know.) He is obviously weak, but he can still swim, and seems to stay upright when he is swimming forward, but drifts upside down when he rests.
<Not good.>
I used some of the tank water and put him in a separate container, where I have a heater. I am slowly changing out all of his water to clean RO water with the Replenish. (A cup out, and a cup of clean water in about every 20 minutes or so.) He did not eat last night either, so I don't think I can medicate him that way. Am I correct that I should use a furan compound to medicate the water in this instance?
<Possibly, but I'd be loathe to medicate simply because a fish was failing to thrive. I do wonder the low pH is part of the problem. The freshwater Archers are riverine rather than blackwater fish, and so far as I can tell, don't really want soft water. Toxotes blythii is sold periodically in England, and seems to thrive in "Liquid Rock". In fact hard water is far less problematic than many assume, and soft water with a pH that bounces about will cause far more trouble.>
Unfortunately, the types of medication I can get locally is VERY limited.
I have on hand medicated food (furan), expired furan medication for the water, and Praziquantel. I had a couple of other medications that apparently grew legs and walked off, as I haven't had to use them. I think I have covered everything, I apologize for the scatter-brained nature of this query. I am a bit stressed about losing such an expensive fish. The cheap fish all settled in just fine.... Thank-you for your time.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

fish are sick/sad but water quality seems fine 5/27/2011
luckily I stumbled across your website while trying to find help for my sad / sick fish online.
I have had a 10g tank for a few months now (aqua one with filtration and heater and aquasoil=liveplants) in which there used to be 3 Bettas, 3 swordtails, 6 cardinal tetras and one algae eater.
<Hmm'¦ one problem here is that 10 gallons/37 litres isn't much water. It would be okay for a school of 6-10 Cardinal tetras, perhaps with a Betta, but the Swordtails need much more space, and the Algae Eater probably does too, assuming that it's something like Ancistrus sp. The cheap and cheerful Algae Eaters such as Gyrinocheilus and Pterygoplichthys have NO PLACE at all in an aquarium this small. Another problem is that Cardinal tetras need warm, soft water. Swordtails, by contrast, need cool, hard water. Yet another problem: Bettas need still water, whereas Swordtails need fast-flowing water. In short, a mishmash of species that won't work in the long term. There are some excellent aquarium books in German (and arguably the best freshwater aquarium books are written in German) so getting the information you need should not be difficult. Otherwise, just peruse this website!>
It took a very long time to cycle in the beginning but then after weeks of waiting I added the swordtails and suddenly it was good. It has been going fine ever since. In the beginning there wasn't too much algae so I bought special pellets for the algae eater.
I only added one once and he didn't eat all of it, but all the other fish had some as well and their excrements turned white.
<You shouldn't see much/any faeces in the tank. The filter should remove most of it, and water changes the rest.>
After a couple of days everything was normal again. I never added any more algae pellets after this, since there was always plenty of natural algae for the fish. Other than that I feed daily 3 bio gold pellets per Betta (I have to crush some up for the smallest one, she cant fit a whole piece in her mouth) and some crushed flakes for the other ones. I have a piece of wood in my tank that is showing a lot of algae-like growth that I washed off before but it comes back within 2 days (the local fish shop guy said this was normal and will stop eventually).
<Hair Algae (actually, red algae, despite the colour) is common in overstocked tanks with medium to bright lighting and not enough fast-growing plants. Few, if any, fish will eat it, and NO, it doesn't go away by itself!>
I do weekly partial water changes. PH tends to be a bit on the lower side,
<Below 7.5 will stress Swordtails. They need hard water, 15+ degrees dH. Cardinals will NOT do well in such conditions though; Cardinals need 2-10 degrees dH, pH 6-7.>
but I have a test and treatment to keep it up. Now the other day the algae eater was suddenly going crazy and swimming around very abruptly (usually he is calm) so I thought, well maybe he is hungry and I fed 1/2 an algae pellet. He didn't pay attention to it at all and went back to behave normally after a few hours, only some of the fish were nibbling at it.
<As it happens, fish rarely behave "hungrily". If you see fish hyperactive compared to normal, there's much more chance the fish are stressed. At most, hungry fish swim to the top of the tank when they see you, begging for food. But random swimming backwards and forwards does not mean they're hungry.>
Suddenly the next morning I found two swordtails dead and one cardinal was missing.
<Oh dear.>
The other fish seemed fine, I did another water change, tested the water, all good.
<Yet they can't be good. You can't be providing "good" conditions for both Swordtails and Cardinals in one aquarium!>
So I had two theories: Either they ate the cardinal and got sick or it was the pellet.
<Neither of these is likely.>
The next day one of my Bettas became lethargic, it used to patrol the tank all the time, suddenly it would just hang out near the heater or at the bottom of the tank, the other fish were fine. A day later it was only sitting under the wood and then suddenly sitting vertically in the tank. I panicked but couldn't find a good solution on the internet so I tested my water again (fine) and took some tank water to the fish shop so they could test it in case my tests were not accurate, and help me. He said the ph was to low, so I got that up higher and added some powder to stabilize it.
<What powder?>
Nothing changed. Yesterday the other two Bettas started looking sad too so I went to the pet shop again and he said maybe its the temperature.
<Two male Bettas in one tank? Or females? Males Bettas will not share one aquarium. Females may do.>
Even though my heater is on 26°C the thermometer only shows 24°C.
<22-24 C is fine for Swordtails, but Cardinals and Bettas need 26-28 C.>
Now I turned up the heater to 30°C and the tank is currently sitting at 26°C.
<Far too warm for Swordtails.>
When I came home from work tonight even the cardinals were sitting at the bottom. I don't know what to do, my fish are eating normally except the Betta that looked sad first of all, it hasn't eaten in about 3-4 days.
<Stop feed; start reading!>
When its feeding time it comes up and has a look, but either swims straight past the food or has some and spits it back out. None of my fish are bloated or showing white spots, no pop-eye, no scales sticking out. They are just really sad and don't move.
<Don't feed at all until you UNDERSTAND the problems here.>
Maybe its the aqua soil causing water problems that don't deal with ammonia or nitrate? (my carbon cartridges are always dirty as soon as I put new ones in).
<There are unlikely the problems. A new aquarium, overstocked with too many of the wrong types of fish are causing problems here, together with a mix of species that need fundamentally different environmental conditions.>
Or it was the algae-eater food?
I was going to get some aqua salt but the fish shop guy said to look at the temperature first.
<No need for salt. But yes, temperature is an issue here; see above.>
Now that all the fish are at the bottom it looks like time is running out to try this or that or that since nothing is working.
<Return all the fish save the Cardinals. If you have soft, acidic water, they should do well. Keep them on their own in a group for the next 4-6 weeks, and then bump up their numbers to 8 or 10. Do water changes of 25% at least ONCE, and ideally TWICE per week for the first 3-4 weeks; afterwards once a week. Feed every SECOND day, a very small amount. Keep the temperature at 26-28 C. Once you're happy the tank is stable and healthy, write back, and we can discuss additions to the tank.>
I cant find any good tips since everyone sais its the water quality but mine is fine.
<It can't be. You're keeping animals that need different conditions, like trying to keep Polar Bears and Lions in the same habitat!>
Thank you very much for your help. Yours Susanna
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Red ear slider with irritated mouth 5/27/2011
<Hi, Sue here with you.>
I have had my red ear slider for several years now. It is housed in a 125 gallon aquarium with a couple of growing goldfish that survived getting eaten (I'm thinking their pals now).
<Unfortunately, when you try to feed fish to turtles, you often instead only land up with more pets to take care of!>
I introduced several ghost shrimp day before yesterday on advice from pet store I frequent.
<I wouldn't feed him ghost shrimp. Though they're less likely than other "feeder fish" to carry diseases, we recommend against feeding any kind of feeder type fish because of the diseases they so commonly carry.>
Yesterday I gave the turtle a meal worm.
<Feed him earthworms instead; they're healthier for him -- but only as an occasional treat. I give mine only 1 or 2 each, just once every few weeks.>
He took a bite, let go, took another nip at it, let it go and left it. I thought that was strange, but figured maybe he wasn't really hungry at the time. Today tried the meal worm again. Same thing happened, but he swiped at his mouth a few times with his foot.
<Have you fed him worms before to see how he normally eats them? Do you think it was his mouth he was swiping, or was he just using his claws near his mouth to try to break apart the worm (they often do that)? Aside from the mealworms, how has his the rest of his appetite/eating in been? What else do you feed him? Is he eating pellets or other food OK? When was the last time he ate ANY food?>
I wanted to try and open his mouth and inspect, but not sure how to go about that safely. He's a friendly turtle and can touch him, not sure when pain involved. Rubbed the side of his mouth with my finger, he swiped again with his foot. I don't see anything externally. Do you think he may have a piece of shrimp shell stuck or just a coincidence?
<I'd be surprised if he had a shell stuck in his mouth, and even if he did, I would expect you would have seen him going after his mouth right after he ate the shrimp, not 2 days later when eating the worms. If you feel he really was swiping at his mouth and not at the worm, it's possible he might have some sort of irritation or even an infection in his mouth that bothers him when he tries to eat.>
He has been basking a lot more than usual also.
<How much more? Have you noticed any other sudden/significant changes in his behavior or activity level? Has his activity level also changed when he's in the water? Does he seem a lot more lethargic than normal?>
The question I really want to know is how do I handle him to get his mouth open without too much distress on his part?
<You might try using a (blunt) foreign object such as a tongue blade or small medicine dropper (something that's less familiar to him than your finger). Try to either annoy him into biting it by gently poking it around his mouth area; and/or slowly work it into his mouth until you can gently pry his mouth open. Often once a turtle bites down on an object, they usually continue to hold their grip on it long enough to allow you some time to get a better view!>
<I'd also suggest trying to find someone to shine a flashlight into his mouth for you, while you try and look inside, if/when you do get his mouth open!>
It's got to be possible right?
<Getting any animal to open their mouth can be one of the more challenging tasks for sure, especially if they're experiencing some discomfort there. If gentle poking and prodding don't work, you may have to invest more time into it, and continue to gently poke or prod him enough times until he reaches the point where he becomes SO annoyed at you that he does finally try to take a bite!>
The vet would be doing it I would assume. Any advice you can give would be much appreciated, even if it's "Go to the vet now".
< If he's suddenly stopped eating altogether and you suspect it's something involving his mouth, and/or you start to see obvious other sudden changes in his behavior, then you might want to consider taking him to an (experienced) vet and getting him checked out.>
Thank you.
<Good luck with him, and let us know how you make out with everything. If you write back with some more info, we'll be better able to advise you re: next steps.>

Minimally disruptive way to introduce new CA/SA cichlids to established tank 5/26/11
Hello Crew
<Hello Tim,>
Currently, I have an Oscar, Jack Dempsey and Texas Cichlid in my established 6x2x2 tank.
<Not a very sensible mix for all sorts of reasons, not least of all the differences in water chemistry requirements. Plus, Oscars are fairly gentle fish outside of spawning, whereas JDs and the Texans can be unpredictably violent. Yes, the Oscar is much bigger than the JD, but that would stop it getting harassed.>
I would like to add a few more SA/CA cichlids (undecided which ones yet).
<Would not do this. Concentrate on one region, and provide either soft water for the South Americans or hard water for the Central Americans. Then choose compatible species.>
My tank is heavily decorated, including a very large piece of driftwood, which would be very difficult to remove and/or re-arrange.
I would like to avoid doing any major rearrangement of the tank. What would be the minimally disruptive way to introduce the new cichlids?
<Adults? There isn't any. All three of these species, if sexually mature, meaning about half-grown in terms of size, is territorial. Any new fish added is likely to be viewed as a threat of some sort, and the resident cichlid(s) will act accordingly.>
Would taking out the existing cichlids and holding them in buckets for a short period of time help? If so, for how long would they need to be held?
<This can work with small cichlids, but for adults, the practicality of holding adults safely and then keeping them out of the tank long enough for them to "forget" their territory will be questionable. Do read Paul Loiselle on this topic in particular, e.g., in his excellent "Cichlid Aquarium" book.>
How about total darkness in the tank for a certain period of time after adding the new inhabitants?
Many thanks for helping avoid casualties.
<Do, please, think carefully about what you're trying to do. In terms of water chemistry this aquarium can't possibly be housing both Central and South American cichlid species well; at best, either the Central Americans or the South Americans are happy while the others are stressed. Throw in social behaviour issues and you're priming yourself for a disaster. An Oscar, a Severum, perhaps one of the more docile Pike Cichlids would work fine as a South American community, while the options for Central Americans are varied and could include the species you have alongside an Amphilophus and a Parachromis of some sort. But your mixing both CAs and SAs? Nope, not a good idea.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

ADF query: 5/26/11
I'm not sure how to ask this or search, so far Nada. (so far)
I have an 2 yr old African dwarf frog who's starting to look like a shark :D he's got a pointed back.. two spikes (one each side on top) and one near the back.. very shark like fin to describe it.
his color is good.. weight is good, diet is varied and seems particularly healthy. now I know I'm not the only one who's seen this occur with an ADF but so far I must be inquiring inaccurately.. for I've not found
anything (so far) on this phenomena.
<Without a photo, it's hard to be sure. But this sounds like some sort of metabolic bone or growth disorder. The problem with these small frogs is that often they're given just a very small variety of foods, perhaps even just the one type of pellet. The lack of vitamins and minerals (such as iodine) can cause all sorts of growth problems including bone deformities, and my assumption is that is what's going on here. If the animal is basically healthy then you shouldn't worry too much because you can't really do anything to "fix" things. At best you can review the size of the aquarium (deformities do seem more common in cramped quarters), water quality (including the use of water conditioner to neutralise copper in the
tap water), and of course diet. Sorry I can't offer anything more concrete, Neale.>
Re: ADF query --- thanks :D 5/26/11
ok, so bone issues are a norm for these frogs?
<No, not at all. Very rare.>
if so.. well, the tank is a 20gallon.. with 5 other mates.. two reasonably sized caves for them to hide in... sleep.. away their time.. some bamboo and gravel.
<Sounds okay so far!>
their water is bottled.. (deer park and/or Poland spring) sorry, the tap water is so nasty in the wash. d.c. area.. would KILL an atomic bomb it's that bad. (filtration of any sort is a failure, even with the aquarium professional series.. you should see what it does to those poor devices) I cycle the water accordingly and have a marineland c-160 for all my tanks.
<You do need filtration in the aquarium, regardless of what you might think about your tap water. Please understand that tap water is fine for fish and frogs if treated with water conditioner, but this is a whole different thing to how the animals in the aquarium pollute that water over time. You must filter the aquarium to remove ammonia (and then nitrite) on a constant, minute-by-minute basis. In a small aquarium like this, a plain vanilla sponge filter powered by an air pump will work just fine. Now, drinking water may be usable if it isn't too soft, but do understand that some drinking water is so free of minerals it isn't healthy for fish or frogs. Let's accept your comment about the tap water is hyperbole for the most part. Provided the tap water is medically safe to drink (as opposed to subjective issues like flavour and colour) then it will likely be safe enough for your frogs. In chemical terms, you're aiming for about 10-15 degrees dH, and a pH around 7.5. If your bottled drinking water matches these sorts of values, then that's fine. But if the water is much softer or more acidic than that, you're going to cause problems. Deionised water would be extremely dangerous.>
I should have more 'natural foliage' in the tank but I'm afraid of them getting stuck and drowning... (the bamboo roots are challenge enough)'¦
<They won't drown. They naturally cling onto floating plants and actually enjoy being able to bask at the surface among floating plants. Indian Floating Fern would be ideal.>
he just looks like he's wearing a shark fin with the same formation on his sides.
he doesn't seem unhappy...
I was thinking of putting algae tabs in the tank every once a blue moon?
would that not be a good idea?
<Randomly adding tablets to tanks without any understand of *why* will cause problems.>
and someone told me powdered egg yolk?
<Again, why?>
their diet does range.. sometimes even to bits of meat I salvage from here and there from the grocer, sandwiches, other things.. chop them up finely and even pasteurized tuna/salmon/oysters.
<Yikes! No, you need to be feeding them stuff closer to their natural diet. Wet-frozen bloodworms and fortified brine shrimps can be kept in the freezer for months and make good supplements to standard frog pellets used as a staple diet.>
that's about it... I do have some pics but I think you've covered the possibility. (I know these poor guys are prone to many issues, this was one I didn't find much of anything about.)
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ADF query (RMF?) --- thanks :D 5/26/2011

i do have filtration for my tanks.. i just ain't going to use the tap water'¦
<Well, I do understand that not everyone understands the science behind making water safe to drink. So if you have some phobia about using tap water, then that's fine, don't use it. But do make sure your alternate water supply provides water chemistry within the parameters outlined in my previous e-mail. Skipping the tap water because you don't like the taste and then using bottled water with the wrong water chemistry would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ADF query (RMF?) --- thanks :D
Please run your English through spelling and grammar checkers and resend.
Your messages have been deleted. B

Quick question re: dipping 5/25/11
A few weeks ago, I lost a batch of cardinal tetras to ich. Thankfully, they were new arrivals and in a quarantine tank, so they were the only fish I lost. This is not my first brush with ich, and most likely not my last.
Though it may have been unnecessary, I bleached the whole tank (easy to do with a bare-bottom tank) and then cycled it. I am about to order some rummy nose tetras. I've read a lot about dipping new arrivals before placing them in the quarantine tank, mostly related to marine fish. I have Rid-Ich+ (which I used a year or so ago on a case of ich before I was instructed on the salt/temperature treatment), and was wondering whether this would be valid for a dip when I receive the rummy nose tetras. I browsed your site re: dipping, and the closest I could find was instructions for dipping with malachite green and formalin separately. In this article (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/malachitegreen.htm) Bob suggest a dip of a stock solution of malachite green at 16 ml/l for 10-15 seconds. And in this (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/formalinart.htm) he suggests 2.70 ml of 37% formalin solution for an hour for marine fish. But what about the doses for freshwater fish dips? I can do the math to figure out the dosages based on the percent of malachite green and formalin in rid-ich + and the instructions that give the mg/L for each after correct dosage in a 10 gallon tank. But I'm not sure if the marine dip dosages carry over to the freshwater dosages. Am I being too paranoid? Should I not worry about dipping my new arrivals and just treat if it happens in the quarantine tank? (The cardinal tetra outbreak happened 2 weeks into quarantine when I left for 4 days and didn't notice the ich until they were completely covered.) I love this hobby, but I get frustrated when something like losing an entire purchase of cardinal tetras happens. I am still reading and learning, though, most especially thanks to your website. This is my first outbreak to happen since I started quarantining all new arrivals, and dealing with an outbreak in a quarantine tank is much easier then dealing with an outbreak in my main tank and moving it to a hospital tank, I can testify to that.
Thanks very much in advance,
<Celeste, with Cardinals I would use either a plain vanilla heat/salt treatment, or else a reliable Ick medication quoted to work well in soft water. One medication I've personally used in soft water is eSHa EXIT, widely sold in the UK and Europe. As you presumably realise, Cardinals won't do well in hard water (anything above 10 degrees dH) and Rummynose Tetras are much the same. Assuming you have water chemistry 2-10 degrees dH, pH 6-6.5, you should find raising the water temperature to 30 C/86 F works as a good preventative during quarantining; should Ick make an appearance, then you can use salt as described elsewhere in this site. Done properly, at the right dosage, around 2 g/l, this *will* work. Dipping freshwater fish is not nearly as useful as dipping marine fish, so I wouldn't plan on using that approach for anything. Cheers, Neale.>

Thanks!! 5/25/11
Hey Crew!
Darrel answered some of my concerns the other day about my turtles and I want to thank him so much.
<I'll pass it on>
When I stressed my concern about one of my turtles not eating or basking, he suggested that something might be wrong with the terrain. Well boy was he right.
<He's often savant-like that way.>
I went through everything in the tank, trying to figure out what it was and finally decided to take out the pebbles I put in the bottom of their aquarium (I wasn't sure to get them in the first place, but the pet store,
which I will no longer go to anymore, suggested that I needed plastic plants and pebbles in the bottom.) Like I was saying, I took the pebbles out and voila! They were fine, they are now basking together and eating happily and I'm very excited.
<Glad we were able to help solve the mystery>
I any more questions come up I'll be sure to consult here before even thinking of going to a pet store that doesn't know what they're doing.
<Thank you - and be sure to tell your friends about us!>
Thanks again!!
Anja <<I swear Darrel wrote this whole thing! B>>

Re: My Red Ear Slider Turtles 5/25/11
I won't be able to provide a nice, dry warm basking area without moving them to another plastic bin and wouldn't moving them always put them at risk?
<Turtles are extremely hardy as far as handling and moving as long as you don't drop them>
<As far as stress is concerned, the real stress they'll be feeling is not having the right water, temperature and foods '¦ so again, please read the care link and make sure they're getting what they need>

Holiday Care. 5/25/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have looked on this website and others for the answer but I have not found it.
<Well, lets see if I have the answer hidden away somewhere>
Firstly, a bit of information, I have two Yellow Bellied Sliders around 3 months old, one is an inch and ½ diameter the other is an inch diameter. I feed them King British Turtle and Terrapin complete food every other day (after reading this site I will be changing to pellets when the food runs out).<Thank you>
I also give them greens, though not a lot as they seem to not like it much at the moment and the occasional frozen Blood Worm block (about once a week, slightly less).
<Earthworms, if you can obtain them, are better>
I do a 50% water change every week and a full water change every month (not sure if this is the right thing to be done).
<It's perfect!>
The water temperature is about 24C (about 75F) and the basking temperature is about 30C (about 86F).
<The water is a BIT warm '¦ should be room temperature. In other words, no heaters for Sliders and other terrapins (that's for you, Neale!!)>
They have a separate UV and heat lamps.
<Again, excellent!>
They are currently in an 8 Gallon (UK) (9 1/5 US) tank, with the water is 4 inches deep. This will be changed for a larger one when I move in a few months. Is this care plan okay?
<So far, it's just wonderful!!>
My main question is, I am going away on holiday for a week and I was just wondering what my sitter could do as minimalist care. I want them to be looked after properly, but the person caring for them has never cared for turtles before and I don't want it to be too daunting and too much work for them. Can I get away with leaving the basking lamp on all week, but having the UV turned off (or will this have to stay on also, I heard it can be bad to have too much UV).
<What I'd do is go to your local hardware and buy an inexpensive timer with settable on-off tabs. Set the ON tab for 7:30am and the OFF tab for 6pm and you can leave that permanently>
What about feeding, how often should they be fed?
<If they've been eating regularly and eating well, have your sitter feed them just once. They'll be just fine, trust me>
I read in a different post that putting plants (Elodea, Myriophyllum or Cabomba, though I have no idea what types these are) in the tank would be enough, though I'm not sure if that applies to this type of turtle and for the length of time that I will be gone.
<Live turtles + live plants usually equals a messy tank, so I wouldn't do that>
I have a powerful enough filter that the water will not need changing between the times that I am away so the water cleanliness will be fine. I'm mainly just worried about the feeding. Is how I'm currently feeding them okay for their age and will it need to continue for while I'm away or can it be less?
<They can go two or three weeks with nothing to eat '¦ and merely be hungry>
Please help me.
<I hope I did!>
Thanks and sorry for the long letter, I just want to be sure.
<We appreciate the opportunity to help>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Turtle at the bottom of the tank 5/25/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently bought two RES from Chinatown, there about an inch and a half long. I've had them since this past Friday and I woke up this morning to find one swimming fine and the other on the bottom with his eyes and mouth open without any movement.
<That's very bad>
I even picked him up and he didn't react. I placed him on the rock under the light to see if the heat will help him out, but nothing. I even placed him in a smaller tank away from the other one with warmer water and still nothing. I am guessing he is dead, Can you confirm it for me?
<I'm sorry to agree with you Jenn, but it does appear that's passed on. It's unlikely that you did anything to cause that, since you only had them a few days, but please read here - and learn everything you need to know to keep the other one happy and healthy. Turtles don't need MUCH care '¦ but they absolutely MUST have what they need.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<On behalf of Bob, Sue, Neale and the rest of the crew, we're sorry for your loss>

Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 5/24/11
I am going to be out of town for a long weekend and I am concerned about how long my Platies can go without eating.
<Couple weeks.>
I usually feed them once a day or sometimes twice a day. I plan on leaving on Friday morning (I will feed them at 9am) and will not be back until Tuesday around 4pm. Do you think I need to arrange for somebody to feed them for me?
How long can they go without eating and still be ok?
<Two weeks in the case of small fish; a month or more in the case of large carnivores.>
I should mention that I have one tank with females and one with males. And I believe two of the females are pregnant.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Cloudy water in 20G freshwater tank 5/24/11
Hello, I set up a 20G freshwater tank using 50% gravel from established tank over two months ago. No live plants. It has a 150 Penguin Biowheel filter. I also added some floss from established tank behind the charcoal cartridge that came with the filter to help in the cycling of the tank. After 3 weeks ammonia was zero, nitrite was zero and nitrate was 5 ppm.(added fish food to cycle) We live in an area where our water is soft and neutral to acidic. I added five Cory cats and kept eye on numbers. After another 10 days I added five zebra Danios.
Kept my eye on numbers again and just a few days ago added five neon tetras. Then the water got cloudy.
Here are the numbers today ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate 5 ppm, pH 6.8, temp 76 F, hardness 25 ppm, alkalinity 40 ppm. The floss and Biowheel have not been touched. I have lightly cleaned the gravel during the previous water change, a week ago about 15%. The charcoal has not been changed since set up about 9 weeks ago. Feed daily flake so far, pretty sure not too much.
Every few days sinking pellets for the cats.
So here is my question, the fish seem happy and not acting at all strange but I wonder if adding the final five fish might have caused a bacterial bloom even though the tank was cycled?
< Even thought the numbers look ok it is a possibility.>
I will watch the ammonia twice daily just to be sure nothing scary happening but I wanted your opinion. I do not think this tank is over loaded so thinking its just a bloom due to added load?
< The additional fish may have temporarily overloaded the biological filtration.>
I have had other tanks in the past but never noticed a bloom like this unless there was new cycling due to problem with filter. Thanks for your help.
Oh, I also have an airstone going full time right now in the opposite corner from the intake of the Penguin filter. With this size take, would a bigger filter be a good idea?
< Your filter should be fine.>
or maybe add a second 150 Penguin?
< Not needed.>
there is room to do so.
Thanks again, Carla
< Cloudy water can be caused by many things. You used 50% old gravel, but you did not say what the new gravel was. Did you thoroughly was the new gravel to remove any dust? It is a possibility that the new gravel may not be suitable for the aquarium and is breaking down as it soaks. Clods of soil or lightly cemented sedimentary rock could be dissolving in your acidic tank and releasing minerals into the water. These minerals would not show up on any test kits. Take a sample of the new gravel from the source and place in a jar of water and see if it changes the water chemistry or clouds the water. If it does then the new gravel is the source of the problem. If it doesn't change then maybe check any new rocks you may have added to the tank. Smell the top of the tank. If there is no odor then dissolving minerals may be the problem. If there is a fishy smell then it may be a biological filtration problem. Check the numbers again with a test kit that uses dry reagents. These can be more accurate because the test chemicals are least likely to break down as a dry reagent rather than a wet one. Do a water change to see if this improves the clarity of the water.
Give it a little time. It may be something a s simple as the binder in the pellets you are using to feed the catfish. The fish are the true indicators of what is going on. As long as they are healthy and it is just a aesthetic issue I would check out the gravel and the rocks first.-Chuck>

Cobalt Blue Lobster, sick? 5/24/11
Dear WWM representative,
I have a Blue Cobalt Lobster (Crayfish) for about 4 months. She has undergone 4 moults. I feed Tropical fish flakes twice a day and frozen bloodworms every other day (3 days of 7 days/week). I do simple tank maintenance every 2 days (clean glass, stir up gravel; gently, and rinse the filter). Every 10 days I change 10% or so of the water in a 30 Gallon tank.
<Sounds good so far, but do lean towards plant and shelly foods rather than soft or meaty foods. For example, algae wafers are a good staple, together with unshelled crustaceans such as krill. These animals are scavengers but a significant part of their diet is decaying vegetation, so green foods are important. Unshelled animals will provide useful calcium, as will small pieces of lancefish, bones included!>
I have black lyretail molly, red wag swordtail, and algae eater (3 inches) in the same tank as the Blue Cobalt Lobster.
<Hmm'¦ the usual warning here that fish and crayfish don't mix.>
For the past 3 weeks, I noticed that my Lobster has somewhat red streaks in his tail (they appear as arteries). The tip of his tail is what I would described as "clear: due to lack of coloration. Today, a small white "cylindrical" spot appeared on his side near his "neck". The red streaks are what concern me for she is suppose to be Blue. The majority of its tail is somewhat blue, but the red streaks are indistinguishable. Do you guys know what this may be due to and what I must do?
<Do start reading here:
The most common diseases with Crayfish include various bacterial and parasitic infections of the shell (indicated by erosion of the shell, starting with small spots) and various fungal infections (similar, but with tufts apparent in advanced cases). Neither is particularly easy to treat, but both can be prevented by providing good care. There is also the infamous "Crayfish Plague" that has nearly wiped out some wild crayfish species, but it isn't particularly common in aquaria.>
<Treatment of Crayfish is virtually impossible. The best approach is to optimise living conditions, provide a balanced diet, use marine aquarium iodine supplement (at 50% the dose on the bottom) and hope for the best. While it is normally best to let Crayfish consume old moults, in this situation you may want to remove infected moults as soon as you can, and instead provide an alternative source of calcium, e.g., an unshelled shrimp (with the meat removed, so it eats the skeleton) that is about half the size of the Crayfish. Cheers, Neale.>

re: Redtail Shovelnose Cross... still not reading 5/24/11
Hi, I read one of your previous threads about possibly using a laxative if there is a blockage but I was hoping to ask what you thought first. I live in CT and have a new outdoor tropical pond. It is 250 gallons about, so 8 feet long, 5 feet wide at the widest point, and 20 inches wide at the narrowest point.
<I recall>
Right now I have a 5 inch bullseye catfish
<Horabagrus brachysoma, or other species in the genus? Not really compatible...>
and a 10.5 inch red-tail shovel-nose hybrid in there. The pond is new, about a week and a half. I have 1800gph of water flow in there and 1050 watts of heaters in there and the heaters are keeping the temperature fine.
At night I keep a plastic top on the tank to keep the heat in
<And fishes>
like a greenhouse but it has enough openings to allow air in. The ammonia is between 0.25 and 0.
<Has to be 0.0>
The Nitrates are about 5 and the nitrites are 0. I used a product called Cycle
<Sometimes works...>
to hasten the cycle of the tank and I have plenty of filtration on the tank. I also have 3 water hyacinths in the pond. I am treating the pond with Melafix and Pimafix
<Please don't write us (again) w/o searching first... these products are worthless>
because I am having a fungus problem. The Redtail shovel nose cross who doesn't have fungus and the bullseye catfish who does have fungus are not eating. Neither of them have really eaten significantly in the week and a half they have been in there. Do you guys have any suggestions?
<Yes. See WWM re Ammonia... DON'T feed while there is any ammonia present.
USE a real bacteria cycling product (see WWM re...)>
I'm really worried. The hybrid was eating beef heart and feeders
<Last time I cautioned you against these... Sigh. Read. BobF>>
before he went in there every other day. I tried to feed him a silver-side while he was in the house and he took it and that was his last meal. Now I have tried frozen silversides, live blackworms, frozen blood worms, chunky frozen squid, shrimp pellets, feeder fish, and earthworms and he is turning them all down. He has a slight laceration on his nose, I do not know what it is from and he has a broken whisker. Do you have any suggestions to try and get either of them to eat? I also just put about 50 tablespoons of aquarium salt into the pond to help with the infection. The liner of the pond is a black
PVC liner. Thanks

Ick question... reading 5/24/11
Hi. I've read through the postings on your wonderful website regarding "Ick"/White Spot Disease, but there's one question I still need answered. I introduced a new Balloon Molly to my fish tank without quarantining it first (my bad!). I also poured a little of the store's aquarium water in when I added this new fish (my bad again). Well apparently the new Molly brought Ick disease with it, as soon thereafter, all of my fish were covered in white spots. Despite my increasing the water temperature to 84 degrees and adding salt, I sadly lost my Black Molly, my Platy and my two Tetras within 3 days. So here's my question - the new Balloon Molly never showed any signs of Ick and it is still alive and well in the tank (one week after losing all other fish).
<It ha/d/s "acquired immunity">
The water temp is still at 84 degrees. I've actually purchased a brand new tank and plan on putting in all new gravel and plants (I don't want to risk bringing the Ick into the new tank!). Is it possible that the Balloon Molly is a carrier of Ick and will pass it on to any new fish once I get my new tank up and running?
I'm concerned because it never had any signs of Ick, but it clearly is the only variable that could have brought the disease into my tank? Unless the Ick came from the store's aquarium water?
<Not likely the latter, but a small possibility>
In that case, could the Balloon Molly just be immune to Ick?
<This particular "strain", yes>
I want to make sure that my new tank and new fish are safe, and that the Molly won't continue to spread the disease. ?
Oh, - I also have a snail that seems completely fine. Are snails immune to Ick?
It couldn't "harbor" Ick inside its shell, could it??
<On the outside, yes>
Thank you!!
<... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ick question 5/25/11
Ok - thank you!
<Do write back after reading... should you have further concerns, questions. BobF>

Dwarf Gourami, lack of hlth. 5/24/11
After reading through all the FAQs, I'm afraid this question (or at least your answer) may be redundant, but I'm compelled to ask anyway as I couldn't find an exact match to my situation.
One male Dwarf Gourami ("flame" color morph, to be specific)
<Largely a junk species not worth buying.>
was added to my established (8 months) 20 gallon aquarium five weeks ago. It took him about a week to settle in, things were fine for a couple of weeks, and then he developed ulcers around the mouth. Initially, they were raised and red and over the last couple of weeks have vacillated between "angry red" and "not so angry red" with a little white around the edges. The closest I've come to a representative photo is actually in one of your FAQs and is located here:
<Really? Do review both Columnaris, sometimes called Mouth Fungus, and the two Dwarf Gourami plague diseases, Mycobacteria infections and Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. The two latter are not treatable, but Columnaris is treatable if caught early.>
On the advise of the local LFS, I bumped the temp from 78F to 80F and increased feedings to 3x daily a week ago in an attempt to jump start (their words) his immune system.
<Hmm'¦ not terribly helpful advice.>
Initially things seemed to improve, but he's taken a turn for the worse over the last couple of days. Feces had appeared normal, but are now transparent and "stringy".
<A bad sign, though even healthy fish can do this from time to time.>
His appetite and color are still good, but his activity level has dropped considerably and he's now spending a significant amount of time facing into the rear corners of the tank near the surface and not moving much. I feed TetraMin flake and substitute frozen blood worms and/or brine shrimp every third day.
Water parameters:
GH: 6 (dGH)
KH: 8 (dKH)
NH3/4: 0 ppm
NO2: 0 ppm
NO3: 30 ppm
PO4: 0 ppm
pH: 7.8
Tankmates: 3 adult female Platies, 5 Pristella Tetras, and 1 Bolivian Ram. All appear unaffected by whatever is ailing the Dwarf Gourami.
<No surprises there, the other three species being generally good all-around fish species.>
I change 25% of the water weekly.
After 8 months in the hobby, this is my first experience with a sick fish. Attempting to diagnose one via the web is an exercise in futility, for me at least. It doesn't look like a fungus to me (but what do I know), so I'm guessing it's bacterial in nature. Whether it's gram-negative or gram-positive is outside my scope of expertise. It definitely doesn't match the symptoms for Iridovirus.
<I see.>
So, with all the background out of the way, on to my questions. Assuming it's bacterial, and knowing everything I now know about Colisa Lalia, is it even worth treating?
<If Columnaris, yes; otherwise no. Do read WWM re: Euthanasia.>
If so, am I likely to see recurrence given the hard, basic water I'm providing?
<Certainly won't help; Dwarf Gouramis need much warmer water than your other species (indeed, hot enough to stress Platies) as well as softer, more acidic water than your other fish need or tolerate.>
Finally, if treatment is viable, any thoughts on an appropriate medication?
<Columnaris is usually treated with antibiotic or antibacterial medications.>
Thanks in advance for your help. You have a great site, and you can be sure I'll be back before I make another livestock decision.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Perry Chong reports from Aquarama Trade Show, Sing. 5/28/11
> As promised some pics from the show. This one I found strange. Would anyone want to keep Archerfish?
<Are really neat, mostly brackish species.... great behaviorally>
They won 1st Prize in New Varieties in Trade Category
> Will send you some more As I organise the pics
<Appreciated. BobF>

Re: Perry Chong reports from Aquarama Trade Show, Sing. 5/28/11
> Hello Bob,
> These are Toxotes blythii, a *freshwater* species from far inland Burma. Compiled some details at the link below, but essentially require maintenance much like the other freshwater archers. It's often overlooked that of the seven species of Toxotidae, four are strictly freshwater fish, and a fifth primarily freshwater with only sporadic occurrence in slightly brackish environments.
<Ah yes>
> http://www.tropicalfishfinder.co.uk/news_article.asp?id=2224
<Thank you>
> In any case, a lovely fish, but very rare in the trade: I've never seen in the aquarium trade in any sort of numbers until this last year or so.
<Hence the inclusion here at Aquarama>
> Cheers, Neale
<And you my friend, BobF>

Sciades seemanni and Mono Questions. Acclim. to BR from FW -- 3/3/10
I currently have a 125 gal marine tank with 2 lionfish, a snowflake eel, and one Sciades seemanni Columbian Cat.
<Mmm, this last is a social animal. Much happier w/ some of its own kind>
I almost bought a trigger until I read that the triggers hate the cats clicking noises. I am contemplating selling all bought <but?> the cat and converting to a brackish environment. I read that the cats do better in groups.
<Many species do>
My current cat is 7 to 8 inches. I want to get 1 or 2 more but cannot find them large enough. If I buy a 2 or 3 inch cat, will the larger one be aggressive toward it?
<Not likely, no>
My second question is about acclimation. I wish to add Mono argenteus and Sebae but these are almost always sold in freshwater. I was told that you can almost take them directly from fresh and put them into a marine environment. Is this true?
Can I do the same with archers and the cat?
<To a lesser extent, weeks instead of days, yes>
Or am I safer to set up another tank to slowly convert them to marine or brackish? Thanks for the help!
<This last is a much safer, better approach. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sciades seemanni and Mono Questions, more re acclim. to SW, impt. notes re Toxotids, ID and sys.
Hi Bob,
I just saw your reply to one brackish one about monos and catfish.
<Yes... responded as it was over a "day" back/old>
Would just add this: You are quite right that (subadult to adult) Sciades catfish and (any age) Monodactylus can be converted to marine conditions quickly. I'd use the drip method across an hour, as if they were swimming through an estuary, but yes, you could in theory dump them straight in.
<Ahh, please do send your input to the querior as well>
But Archers are a whole other kettle of fish. There are three species in the trade, each equally widely sold, and one of them is a freshwater to low-end brackish species, Toxotes microlepis.
<Rare in the U.S.>
It will die kept in marine conditions for any length of time. Frankly, it's unhappy above about SG 1.005. The other two species, T. chatareus and T. jaculatrix, will tolerate marine conditions though they're best kept around SG 1.010.
<Definitely send this along as well>
Diagnosing the three Archer species is tricky, but there are some drawings that should help on my web site, here:
Cheers, Neale
<Thank you. BobF>
Sciades seemanni and Mono Questions
<<By way of a follow-up to Bob's reply. I would just add this: Bob is quite right that (subadult to adult) Sciades catfish and (any age) Monodactylus can be converted to marine conditions quickly. I'd use the drip method across an hour, as if they were swimming through an estuary, but yes, you could in theory dump them straight in. But Archers are a whole other kettle of fish. There are three species in the trade, each equally widely sold, and one of them is a freshwater to low-end brackish species, Toxotes microlepis. It will die kept in marine conditions for any length of time.
Frankly, it's unhappy above about SG 1.005. The other two species, T. chatareus and T. jaculatrix, will tolerate marine conditions though they're best kept around SG 1.010. Diagnosing the three Archer species is tricky,
but there are some drawings that should help on my web site, here:
Bob believes that Toxotes microlepis rare in the US market, but German author Frank Schaefer argues it is the most widely traded. My own experience is that all three species occur roughly as often as each other,
and I've seen specimens of all three species on both sides of the Atlantic.
So do check which Archerfish you have before acclimating them to saltwater conditions. Cheers, Neale>>

Re: Sciades seemanni and Mono Questions 3/3/10
You both gave me great info. Thank you.
<You're welcome.>
The next step is convincing my wife to let me get rid of the lions and eel and replace them with monos...she likes the salt water fish more than I do lol!
<Why not keep the Lionfish and the Eel, add the Catfish and the Monos, and rehome the Archerfish? Cheers, Neale.>

Archer fish won't eat -- 12/15/09
Hi, This is a great site. I'm so happy to have discovered it. It's been very helpful to me.
I inherited a 75 gallon cichlid tank a couple of weeks ago. The person who gave it to me was a stranger and moved out of the country so I couldn't follow up with him on certain questions regarding the tank.
He transported the tank and 50% of the original water along with the filters, etc. to the new set-up in my home. I've had a freshwater (soft water/acidic) for over 3 years now. The cichlid tank is new to me.
<I see.>
There were a number of fish in the cichlid tank that I found questionable:
2 fiddler crabs (I've made space for them to crawl out of the water onto bog wood), algae-eating goby, Australian desert goby, kuhli loach, 2 clown loaches, red-tail shark, zigzag eel, puffer (since died), 2 Bateo (sp?) sharks, and about 10 assorted cichlids (I think mostly from Lake Malawi) and a Brichardi cichlid.
<Quite the mix! Not textbook by any standards. I'd concentrate on maintaining moderately hard (say, 15 degrees dH) water with a stable pH around 7.5. That should be fine for this mix of fish. That said, if this was me, I'd be rehoming some of these fish and concentrating on providing optimal conditions for a specific selection of species.>
And...an Archer Fish (about 2 in)--the most common kind, not the spotted or the 6-banded.
<Now, this is where we get into hot water. There's no "common" Archerfish.
There are three species, two that must have brackish water, and one that does well in either freshwater or slightly brackish water. The problem is all three are widely traded, and all three are EASILY confused with each other. To tell them apart you need to look for two things: Firstly, whether there are two spots on the back end of the dorsal fin. If there are, the fish is (probably) either Toxotes microlepis or Toxotes jaculatrix. The two dorsal fin spots on Toxotes microlepis are discrete (i.e., they don't connect to anything else) but on Toxotes jaculatrix they merge with the last two vertical black bands on the flanks. Toxotes chatareus tends not to have spots on the end of the dorsal fin, but instead a single large blotch.
The next thing you look for are spots in between the black vertical bands on the flanks. These are usually absent from Toxotes jaculatrix. Toxotes chatareus and Toxotes microlepis both have them, though not necessarily evenly spread out, one spot between each pair of vertical bands. Toxotes chatareus do differ in having a more "sooty" colouration, more gunmetal grey than bright silver, but stressed archerfish of all three species will turn grey, so you have to be careful with this characteristic. There are some drawings of the three species on my web site, here:
I'll make the point once again that all three species are very similar, and that all three are sold as freshwater fish. While all will tolerate freshwater conditions for a long time, only Toxotes microlepis will do well in a freshwater aquarium permanently. Actually, there are some truly freshwater populations of the other two species as well, but they are not traded.>
About a week ago, the eel seemed stressed.
<Do read about Spiny Eels; commonly problems are caused by using gravel instead of sand, or offering them the wrong sorts of food. See here:
He had been swimming around very actively and then one day hid inside a shell and didn't come out for about 3 days. He seemed lethargic. I moved him to a 26-gallon "hospital tank." The LFS hypothesized that the ph of 8.2 was probably creating the stress.
<As I say, for the mix of fish you have, medium hard water around pH 7.5 is what you want. Quick check on how useful your pet shop is. Did they mention hardness at any point along the conversation? As is crucially important to understand, you don't change the pH; you change the hardness. There's a lot of ignorance about this, with people buying things like "pH down" and "pH up" potions and think these make their fish happier. More often than not, they end up stressing their fish. Do read here:
Malawian and Tanganyikan cichlids don't need especially hard water, contrary to popular belief, but what they don't want are soft/acidic conditions. Provided you have moderately hard water with a basic pH (7.5 is fine) that stays put day-in, day-out, they'll be fine. This will be well
within the tolerances of most community fish species.>
Since he's been in his new digs he seems much happier. I don't plan to move him (at least, not until he outgrows the tank). However, my problem now is with the Archer. He ate frozen bloodworms the first couple of days, then stopped eating altogether. I have tried everything: I even caught two big juicy flies in December in a Manhattan high-rise (quite an accomplishment) and put them in the tank. The flies disappeared, but I don't think the Archer got them. I tried dried bloodworms, dried Tubifex--anything that floated--and he still wouldn't go for it.
<My Archerfish enjoyed Hikari Cichlid Gold.>
I put 10 live crickets in the tank yesterday and all the other fish loved them, but the Archer wouldn't show any interest (followed them around a bit but wouldn't bite). I got dried grasshoppers. I stuck some of the fresh frozen bloodworms on the side of the aquarium just above the water line because I read this worked for someone (I think on your site). I've tried brine shrimp and beef heart. I'm so frustrated and the Archer looks skinny.
His underbelly is turning dark and I'm pretty sure that's a sign that he's very stressed. I thought maybe he had too many aggressive tank mates who intimidated him (they don't go after him, but they do go after the food with a lot of gusto). I tried to distract the other fish with algae wafers on the bottom of the tank so that he would have the entire top (and the food on top of the water) to himself. I don't know what to do at this point.
<My gut feeling is this Archerfish is a brackish water species and has had enough of being trapped in freshwater. In the wild they move between fresh and saltwater habitats, and the brackish water species never do well cooped up in freshwater tanks. A good salinity level would be SG 1.005, about 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre (1.18 oz per US gal.). That would be within the tolerances of all three Archerfish species, making identifying the species less crucial.>
I've been changing the water once a week (maybe a little more than that)--about 30-50%. Ph has been pretty steady at 8.2 and the nitrates and nitrites within safe range.
<What's the "safe" range of nitrite in your opinion? The correct answer is zero. If you have a non-zero amount of nitrite, you have a problem.>
I added aquarium salt for freshwater tanks according to the instructions on the package.
<Useless. Let's be crystal clear on this: aquarium salt is sold to people 99% of the time without any practical purpose. Indeed, most people who buy aquarium salt have no idea what it's actually for. So a quick pop quiz.
What do you think aquarium salt is for? The correct answer is this: as a medication to treat Ick in freshwater aquaria, for making dips for shifting flukes on pond fish, or else to detoxify nitrite and nitrate across the short term. Among the wrong answers are: to raise the pH, to create hard water, and to make the aquarium safe for brackish water fish. Aquarium salt does none of these things. Indeed, it's worse that doing nothing because it creates an illusion you're doing the right thing. So let's get down to brass tacks here. Archerfish need MARINE SALT MIX, and they need more of it per litre/gallon of water than your freshwater fish will tolerate. In the off-chance you have Toxotes microlepis, then this isn't absolutely essential, though it helps; but if you have one or other of the two other species, then you must move the fish to a brackish water aquarium.>
I don't know for how long the person I inherited the tank from had all of his fish. Most of the fish seem young, though one of the zebra cichlids is about 5 inches long (the biggest fish in the tank).
Thanks in advance for your help.
Best, Laura
<I hope this clarifies a few things. Bottom line, try moving the Archer to a brackish water aquarium. If it peps right up, problem solved. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Archer fish won't eat 12/23/09
Hi, Neale,
<Hello Laura,>
I just wanted to give you a follow-up to my last email. The archer turned out to be Toxotes jaculatrix.
<Ah, the plot thinnens.>
I moved it to another tank (brackish, with one tank mate). He started eating within a couple of days--frozen brine shrimp, frozen blood worms and freeze-dried bloodworms.
I've even seen him spit twice to get food off the aquarium glass!
<Yes, this is great fun. I would do this during water changes. Half empty the tank, leave the filter running, stick some prawn on the glass, let the fish spit for their dinner, and then fill the tank bank up again. Made water changes something to look forward to instead of a chore. Could even make them events to share with visiting friends! Not many people can say that about water changes!>
I've named him "Mark Spitz."
Thanks for your help, and Happy Holidays!
<And likewise, to you, happy Christmas too.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Archerfish, and marine tanks... sys. 1/6/2008 Crew. <Bob,> I was having discussion on whether archerfish could tolerate full marine salinity. Not being any kind of expert with any knowledge of archerfish I found this link: http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/verts/archer_fish.htm <A nice page, but do note this page is talking specifically about Toxotes jaculatrix. There are something like half a dozen or so species in the archerfish family Toxotidae, and the majority of species are strictly or mostly FRESHWATER fish. Only two are euryhaline brackish water fish, Toxotes chatareus and Toxotes jaculatrix.> Which stated: "Breeding: It is believed that only the juveniles are found in brackish water while the adults are more solitary and swim out to the coral reefs to breed. 20,000-150,000 eggs are laid. Only a few reach maturity in 1-2 years. Young fish have iridescent yellow patches on their upper body between the dark bands, which perhaps helps them to school together in the muddy waters. As they get older, patches disappear and the black bands get shorter and eventually only seen on the uppermost part of the body" <Hmm... the breeding behaviour of all members of the Toxotidae is very obscure. The story that they breed on coral reefs, or at least in the sea, has been around for a while and may well apply to Toxotes chatareus and Toxotes jaculatrix. But field observations are lacking, and it certainly isn't true for the freshwater species such as T. blythi that live far inland.> So I guess so. Another person posted this from WetWebMedia page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsystems.htm_ <This would be me.> "Low salinity brackish water can be defined as water with a specific gravity (or SG) between 1.002 to 1.005. Two sorts of fish can be kept in low salinity water: true brackish water species that need slightly brackish water, and species that are really freshwater fish but happen to be tolerant of slightly brackish water. Among the true, low salinity brackish water fish are orange and green Chromides, figure-8 pufferfish, pike livebearers, and knight gobies. Freshwater fish that happen to tolerate brackish water include spiny eels, Kribensis, glassfish, the archerfish Toxotes microlepis, and Florida flagfish. Bumblebee gobies and mollies are difficult to place in either group, because in the wild both occur primarily in fresh water. However, in aquaria, they seem to do better when kept in slightly brackish water." <My article there refers to Toxotes microlepis, a species that enters slightly brackish water in parts of its range but is otherwise a true freshwater fish. It tolerates low salinities, but as salinity goes up, becomes distinctly nervous and stressed.> There would seem to be some inconsistencies between these two articles. <Nope, not at all. They're talking about two different species. Simply because they're in the same genus, Toxotes, doesn't mean they have identical requirements. Indeed, what these archerfish effectively do is "divide up" ecological space between them. One species (T. jaculatrix) inhabits mangroves and river mouths, and the other (T. microlepis) lives in the river proper.> Perhaps because the WWM article was aimed at people keeping brackish tanks. I know from experience that mollies do better with brackish water but the article is silent on full marine tanks. <On the whole, Archers do not like to be kept in marine tanks. Toxotes chatareus and Toxotes jaculatrix can be kept best at SG 1.010 or thereabouts, and all the other species at less than SG 1.005, in some cases preferably in straightforward hard, neutral to alkaline freshwater.> Mollies in my experience thrive and breed at marine salinities. Some aquarium shops even use then to keep the bioload up while awaiting shipments. <Indeed. But this is different, because Mollies are hybrids, while Archerfish are rather a selection of species that come from different habitats. Toxotes chatareus, Toxotes jaculatrix, and T. microlepis are all widely traded but rarely identified correctly by retailers. Telling them apart is important if you want to optimise living conditions, though SG 1.005 will suit them all just fine if you can't separate them.> I just wondered what your thoughts are and whether archerfish can be kept at marine salinities. <There's no real advantage to doing this, and unless you can securely identify the specimens in your tank, I wouldn't risk it. Stick a freshwater archer in a marine tank and you'll probably kill it. At the very least, it won't be very happy.> Bob <Cheers, Neale.>

55 gallon saltwater setup, & Archer sys... 4/15/07 Hi, I currently purchased a used 55g bowfront aquarium. Also included were 2 powerfilters (1 filters 60 gallons and the other I THINK filters 45), 1 undergravel filter, a DE filter (I have never heard of these filters for aquariums, it looks like my pool filter but on a smaller scale!) <Ah, this is what it is... a Diatomaceous Earth filter... for periodic (non-continuous) use... See Vortex Products site on the Net, WWM re... > several heaters, air pumps, and other accessories. What I would like to do is setup a saltwater aquarium for a Spot-finned lionfish (Pterois antennata) and a green wolf eel starting now and finishing by the end of the summer. Is my tank big enough for the species I have selected? <Mmm, not really indefinitely...> Which filter would you recommend using? <All the power filters, likely the undergravel... but you need much more useful knowledge... http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm> I have been told to use a mix of live sand and crushed coral for the substrate, is this ok? <Can/could be> I really don't want a lot of fish that will overcrowd my tank so I think I will most likely stick with the two I already mentioned, but, to keep my options open, are there any other fish that would suit my setup? <... many> What is a good online retailer to get them from? <Posted...> Also, I have a 30g brackish aquarium with a puffer* and a needle nose gar that has been setup for 1 year. I would like to add a couple of archers and a screen section to the top for feed items like crickets for the archers. the puffer is 4 inches and the gar is 6 inches (neither have grown in several months). Would this be a suitable setup? <Not likely room enough... Toxotids need more "running" room than this arrangement> Thank you for all your time and help. K. Sned * The puffer was given to me by a friend who bought him from a LFS as a "black river puffer". She kept him in a 2.5g freshwater tank (YIKES) with a couple of Monos (DOUBLE YIKES) as she was told this was a "more than suitable" setup by the LFS. When I got the puffer he was very dull and had cloudy eyes. I put him in a 10g hospital tank for several weeks and began to gradually add instant ocean. I had to entice him to eat with ghost shrimp which he started taking after a week when he refused all other foods. He is now a bright brown-almost-gold with spots, a white underbelly, and yellow on his sides. His eyes are clear and they are a bright blue surrounded by a reddish orange. <Read my friend... learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM... MUCH related material is organized, archived there for alls perusal, growth, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Puffers & Archers 10/10/06 <Hi Ben, Pufferpunk here> I am setting up a second tank and I would like to try brackish. I have been looking at figure of 8 puffers and archer fish such as Toxotes microlepis, a small scale archerfish which grows smaller than the rest. I have a 125ltr second tank but could upgrade my second tank up to 190ltr, if I did upgrade what stocking could I expect to keep if compatible. T. microlepis is hard to find, so if I got the common archer which is larger, would this also cause problems in a 190ltr tank? <Yes, since this fish can grow to a foot, it would not be happy in that size tank. I would stick to 3-4 F8 puffers & BW gobies.> Thanks for any help you can advise <Please try proper capitalization in your next letter. Good article on F8s: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html Check out the other articles there & the forum also has more info. ~PP> Best Regards Ben

Archer in Freshwater With Lip Fungus 1/25/2006 Hello, my name is Ruben, <<Hello Ruben.>> I've been trying to get back into brackish aquariums, and started by purchasing a juvenile archer about 12 days ago and placed it in a 29-gallon freshwater (converting to brackish soon) tank. <<Increase SG no more than .002/week to avoid crashing your bio-filtration. Also keep in mind that you will need a bigger tank in the future, preferably sooner than later.>> The tank has been running for well over a year, but it had a trio of salvini cichlids until I removed them when I brought the archer. My pH is 7.8, ammonia is 0 and nitrite is about 0.<<?>> The water quality seems fine to me. However, I noticed the archer had a slight injury on its lower lip, as if it ran into the aquarium side or something like that. But on 1/25 I noticed that there is a piece of skin or something threadlike hanging from the injury and the appearance of the fungus-like fuzziness. The archer is still eating, it's been eating frozen Hikari ocean plankton (krill?) quite vigorously. <<Good.>> I'm still concerned about how to treat this, because I've done my water changes and kept the water healthy, and I assumed the injury would have healed itself, not gotten worse (unless it re-injured it, which I guess isn't that likely?). I've considered raising the salinity, but I'm not sure if that really would cure the infection. <<This is exactly what I would suggest, as per amount stated above. Be sure to keep water as pristine as possible.>> I assumed the freshwater disease couldn't tolerate salty water. Do you guys recommend any specific treatment or medication? I really need assistance on this, thank you! Have a great day. <<You too. Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Brackish beginner - 12/11/05 Hi, I'm an slightly experienced freshwater owner. <Hello... John here this evening> After quitting the hobby for four and a half years, I'm ready for more! I was planning on making a freshwater aquarium with tetras, platies, and all the skittish fish. But I read a really neat article about Archer Fish. It appealed to me, and now I am seriously considering turning a 36x12x21" (40 gal) tank into a brackish aquarium. Is keeping a brackish fish difficult for a person like me? <I don't know you ;)... but, no, it shouldn't be.> Some other fish I'd like are monos, bumblebees, scats, and puffers. <These can't go in together... a 40g is too small for monos or scats. Most puffers are best kept alone.> If they grow too large, then I won't get them, but I'd really like Archer fish. <I would recommend a larger system for archers... 55 gallons minimum... even larger is better, due to their size and need to be kept in groups..> And one thing: I'm an 8th grader with a $10 allowance weekly, so tell me if I could afford it, too. <I suggest you look into smaller fish - a couple of figure-eight puffers or a few bumblebee gobies for this system.> Thanks ahead of time for your valuable response! <You're welcome! Best regards, John.>

New Archer / Brackish or Salt tank? Hello all, thanks for your time. <And you for yours> New to WWM, but have been reading here for some time. I have experience enjoying various African FW species of fish. 10 yrs ago I had a 39gal FW tank with a "BioWheel" and "Magnum canister filter", also under gravel with lots of plants and natural cover. Interested in getting back into it again, but I am ready to move to a brackish / salt setup. I have been diving for 15+ years and now I live in Florida and want to set up an archer tank. I am inspired by the Waikiki aquarium for their reef display, while also reading all I can find about growing mangroves. <Have seen, admired this tank, system many times. Have some pix of the fishes in there on WWM> WWM and elsewhere have been good resources so far regarding research for setup of a new brackish / marine system for our living room. However, now I am stuck, and request your assistance estimating setup. Ideally a 220-450 gallon saltwater tank incorporating mangroves, sea grass, live sand, live rock, driftwood and eventually archers. <Neat!> I have considered a flatter style acrylic tank 60x60x30. The idea is to simulate a "standing in water" perspective for the viewer, looking toward a planted shoreline with the back of the tank open above the sand bank for the mangroves growth. I plan to suspend them for root growth initially and then plant them partially submerged. I have read in various areas on WWM and other websites that 4-6 inches of sand is recommended for live sea grass, and that the mangroves will grow in the same medium. Also, that the archers are primarily brackish water fish, <Mmm, as young... more full marine as adults> but after speaking with the Waikiki aquarium manager he stated that they are now doing fine in full salt at the new setup they are using at the aquarium, hence the idea to go salt instead of brackish. Imitation is the finest form of flattery. I would like a similar setup. Admittedly, I lack the knowledge, on my own at this point, to set it up alone. I would like to use a "recommended" WWM staff step by step method for starting this project ideally. I am not afraid of DIY projects and would like to contribute the findings of successes / failures to your readers. Here are my questions: What is the most ideal, low maintenance, natural filtration that would support this system? <A living sump outside the main display... with the addition of an easy to clean canister filter (Eheim, my choice) for easily adding chemical filtrants, mechanically "polishing" the water> I would love to set up something with live rock, but don't know about size of refugium for water quality, filtration issues? <Live rock (with lighting) is excellent, refugium as large as possible> Other thoughts include necessary lighting, <Lighting can be of a few sorts... Boosted fluorescents, possibly with one, two metal halides, all on an arrangement that can be raised over time...> and how and where to drill/plumb this orientation of tank. <Likely stand pipes (sleeved) through fittings from the bottom will be best here... easiest to modify, service...> How to imitate circulation of water if the tank is only half full for feeding the archers. <Discharges can be fitted over, through the sides, even the bottom if you'd like... circular water movement best> I am waiting for delivery of "Natural Reef Aquariums" and Anthony Calfo's book on "Reef Invertebrates" that I think will address many of these issues. Right now I'm trying to get a jumpstart on where to look for areas that many not be addressed in this book. <Mmm, you have a good set of ideas, beginnings here... the place where you will situate this system... strong enough, perhaps overhead natural lighting? Electrical, water, drain access? Maybe an adjoining room to place mechanicals, controllers?> Please give me your suggestions. Thanks in advance, great resource, keep on keepin' on you guys/gals are great. I also posted some of this question initially in the brackish forum, in hopes others might help. <I do hope they will chime in as well. Jeni/Pufferpunk of our crew likely has many worthwhile suggestions. Bob Fenner>

New Archer / Brackish or Salt tank? Hello all, thanks for your time. <And you for yours> New to WWM, but have been reading here for some time. I have experience enjoying various African FW species of fish. 10 yrs ago I had a 39gal FW tank with a "Biowheel" and "Magnum canister filter", also under gravel with lots of plants and natural cover. Interested in getting back into it again, but I am ready to move to a brackish / salt setup. I have been diving for 15+ years and now I live in Florida and want to set up an archer tank. I am inspired by the Waikiki aquarium for their reef display, while also reading all I can find about growing mangroves. <Have seen, admired this tank, system many times. Have some pix of the fishes in there on WWM> WWM and elsewhere have been good resources so far regarding research for setup of a new brackish / marine system for our living room. However, now I am stuck, and request your assistance estimating setup. Ideally a 220-450 gallon saltwater tank incorporating mangroves, sea grass, live sand, live rock, driftwood and eventually archers. <Neat!> I have considered a flatter style acrylic tank 60x60x30. The idea is to simulate a "standing in water" perspective for the viewer, looking toward a planted shoreline with the back of the tank open above the sand bank for the mangroves growth. I plan to suspend them for root growth initially and then plant them partially submerged. I have read in various areas on WWM and other websites that 4-6 inches of sand is recommended for live sea grass, and that the mangroves will grow in the same medium. Also, that the archers are primarily brackish water fish, <Mmm, as young... more full marine as adults> but after speaking with the Waikiki aquarium manager he stated that they are now doing fine in full salt at the new setup they are using at the aquarium, hence the idea to go salt instead of brackish. Imitation is the finest form of flattery. I would like a similar setup. Admittedly, I lack the knowledge, on my own at this point, to set it up alone. I would like to use a "recommended" WWM staff step by step method for starting this project ideally. I am not afraid of DIY projects and would like to contribute the findings of successes / failures to your readers. Here are my questions: What is the most ideal, low maintenance, natural filtration that would support this system? <A living sump outside the main display... with the addition of an easy to clean canister filter (Eheim, my choice) for easily adding chemical filtrants, mechanically "polishing" the water> I would love to set up something with live rock, but don't know about size of refugium for water quality, filtration issues? <Live rock (with lighting) is excellent, refugium as large as possible> Other thoughts include necessary lighting, <Lighting can be of a few sorts... Boosted fluorescents, possibly with one, two metal halides, all on an arrangement that can be raised over time...> and how and where to drill/plumb this orientation of tank. <Likely stand pipes (sleeved) through fittings from the bottom will be best here... easiest to modify, service...> How to imitate circulation of water if the tank is only half full for feeding the archers. <Discharges can be fitted over, through the sides, even the bottom if you'd like... circular water movement best> I am waiting for delivery of "Natural Reef Aquariums" and Anthony Calfo's book on "Reef Invertebrates" that I think will address many of these issues. Right now I'm trying to get a jumpstart on where to look for areas that many not be addressed in this book. <Mmm, you have a good set of ideas, beginnings here... the place where you will situate this system... strong enough, perhaps overhead natural lighting? Electrical, water, drain access? Maybe an adjoining room to place mechanicals, controllers?> Please give me your suggestions. Thanks in advance, great resource, keep on keepin' on you guys/gals are great. I also posted some of this question initially in the brackish forum, in hopes others might help. <I do hope they will chime in as well. Jeni/Pufferpunk of our crew likely has many worthwhile suggestions. Bob Fenner>

Can archerfish be kept in seawater? I just read your very nice web page on archerfish. I'm wondering whether you know how well they fare in 100% seawater, 100% of the time? I know they can be found in full strength seawater in the wild, but I don't know whether they can live under those conditions continuously (my guess is they can, but I don't know for sure). <I have seen Toxotes joculator kept in all-marine water, but this was not a permanent placement... and as far as I'm aware all archerfish species are either freshwater or tend from fresh to brackish. Not totally marine> I'd love to add a compartment to my large reef system (in my teaching lab) especially for archerfish (an extra tank plumbed into the main system...this would make life much easier since I would not have to worry about maintaining water quality in a separate system, and the extra tank could function to some extent as a refugium for some very small creatures that the archers would likely ignore). Thanks, Bill Capman <Worth trying, but I don't think this will work out long-term. Am going to send your message to Ananda (much more versed at brackish topics than I) for her input. Bob Fenner> Bill Capman

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