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FAQs on Freshwater Angelfish Disease Diagnosis  

FAQs on Angelfish Disease: Angelfish Disease 1, Freshwater Angel Disease 2, FW Angel Disease 3, FW Angel Health 4, FW Angel Health 5, FW Angel Health 6, FW Angel Health 7, FW Angel Health 8, FW Angel Health 9,

FAQs on Angelfish Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: Freshwater Angels, Discus, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Angels 1, Angels 2, Angelfish Identification, Angelfish Behavior, Angelfish Compatibility, Angelfish Selection, Angelfish Systems, Angelfish Feeding, Angelfish Reproduction, & FAQs on: Wild Angels (P. altum), Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Sick angelfish. Old age?     1/30/20
Hi Crew.
<Hello Rhiannon,>
Back again seeking advice for the first time in many years. This afternoon my freshwater angel has started looking real bad. I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do but wanted to reach out.
He’s a zebra angel, I think at least 9 years old.
<That is a very fair age of Angels. For sure the odd specimens makes it to maybe 10 or even 12 years, but the vast majority do not, even under good circumstances. Bear in mind that specimens on sale in pet shops will be a good six months old, so add that to however many years you've kept your fish.>
He lived through a lot of my beginner mistakes (which you guys helped me through!) so internally I’m sure not the healthiest fish. But for the last 6 or so years has lived happily in a stable, healthy tank. A few hours ago he started gulping at the top of the tank and seems to be going downhill. He’s swimming very slowly, seems to be struggling. Normally when I go to the tank he swims over for food, always the first one over, but he’s not even acknowledging my presence. I did feed them already today, but a full tummy has never stopped him from begging for more before.
The tank background: 200L tank cycled many many years ago. I did a water change yesterday but tested the water just now anyway: ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates <5.0ppm, pH 6.4 (unchanged). Temp 29C. It’s a medium density planted tank with CO2 injection and ferts.
<All sounds fine. Is this what he's usually been kept in? Temperature is towards the higher end of the range for farmed Angelfish, but nothing outside their tolerance. Water changes to freshen things up are always worth doing, sometimes with slightly cooler water, to see what happens.>
The only major changes to the tank recently were the addition of 4 juvenile discus 3-4 months ago, and 2 months ago I started injecting CO2. Tank was transitioned to planted 1-2 years ago and I was doing liquid carbon until now. Before CO2 injection the tank pH was around 6.7, its gradually shifted to 6.4 over the two months as I increased the CO2 from 1 bubble every 2 seconds to 2 bubbles a second now.
<A low pH should not, in itself, cause problems for Angels, which are well adapted to soft, slightly acidic water conditions. Provided the change has been gradual, I can't see this being a problem to your fish.>
Other tankmates are 4 Kuhli loaches, 9 rummynose tetras and 1 Bristlenose Pleco. I’ve not seen any signs of stress or sickness in the angel before today.
So my question is am I missing something? And if it’s old age, how do you know?
<I do think old age. There are some pathogens that Discus and Angels can share, but usually it's the Discus that suffer, not the Angels, which seem to be the carriers. This is one reason why mixing Discus and farmed Angels is widely frowned upon. Again, while Angels will often bully Discus, that's not what we're seeing here.>
My reason for extra concern (aside from my emotional attachment) is that over the last 6 or so months I’ve lost 5 rummys. I had 5 rummys who were about 5 years old, and around a year ago I bought 9 more to give them a bigger school again. Over that time the school has slowly shrunk to 9. It seems to be mostly the larger ones who have died so I think it’s the older ones, but it’s hard to tell.
<When you say 'lost' did they sicken and die, or just vanish? Angels can and will consume bite-size tetras. Adults are perfectly capable of eating things up to the size of adult Neons. On the other hand, if you're losing the odd fish every couple of weeks, then a deeper problem may be involved. Dosing with CO2 should be safe, but there are a couple of risks. One is displacing oxygen from the water, which is a pernicious problem because we often tone down water movement to stop the CO2 from escaping. In an overstocked tank, or one with too little water/air mixing, the CO2 can displace so much oxygen that the fish suffer. Cichlids are unable to breathe air, for the most part, so are often the first fish to show signs of distress compared with those fish that can use their swim bladders or whatever to breathe air when they must (such as catfish).>
So perhaps I’m losing fish to the march of time, but I’m worried now that it’s something I’m missing.
Thank you for your time.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Sick angelfish. Old age? (RMF -- any other ideas?)<<Nada mas>>     1/30/20

Hi Neale.
Thank you kindly for your response. As perhaps expected he deteriorated quickly and passed away overnight.
<Oh dear.>
Very sad about it. Though your response about it being pretty old for an angel gives me comfort.
<Glad to hear that.>
As to the temperature of the tank, I used to have it at 26C, but brought it up slowly over time in preparation for adding the discus. There’s been no aggression from the angel towards the discus, which was a relief. This is my first time keeping discus and I was worried the angel might bring an end to that. Instead he seemed to enjoy their company, would often hang out wherever the discus were, almost seemed to be schooling with them.
<Indeed, theoretically they're pretty similar (and closely related) fish with many of the same preferences. In practice though it is hit-and-miss, and most Discus experts recommend against mixing them. To some extent it likely depends on the size of the group.>
There was, however, a lot of conspecific aggression amongst the discus at first. Not what I expected after hearing how shy and peaceful they are!
<Only up to a point. Both Angels and Discus are pair-forming fish that become territorial when spawning, which under aquarium conditions tends to be 'all the time'. On top of that, juveniles and non-breeding adults form loose groups with a distinct hierarchy, and you really do need at least 6 specimens to avoid bullying.>
But it calmed down after the first few weeks as they sorted out who was boss and all has been calm since then. I should mention that when I first got the discus I did lose one. I bought 3 and then 2 more 2 weeks later cause I was worried about an ammonia spike from adding too many too quickly. But in that first 3, one of them got bullied by another and was quite stressed. Often hiding and not eating. When I added the next two and the aggression was dispersed he started to come good.
<Precisely so.>
But a week or so later after a water change I forgot to plug the heater back in, and overnight the temp dropped to 24C. The other discus were fine, but he looked bad. I did water changes throughout the day to bring the temp back up, but he soon died. I figured that was because he wasn’t a healthy enough fish to survive the drop in temp, but it’s worth mentioning now as part of the bigger picture in case I’m wrong.
<I would agree; Discus aren't going to be killed by a few hours at 24C, but if a given specimen is weakened already, sure, it could well have made things a lot worse.>
This was before I started injecting CO2, for context.
I was worried about the oxygen content of the water when the angel was gulping, because of the reasons you mentioned. I’ve attached a pic from just now to give you an idea of the amount of plants in the tank.
<The plants look nice, but not enough to be producing useful amounts of oxygen for the fish. After a few more months I bet this tank would look great, mind you! Very stylish use of wood and moss.>
When the angel got sick I turned off the CO2 and moved the spray bar up to create surface agitation in case that made a difference. The tank has been running at this amount of CO2 for about 3 -4 weeks, so I figured I would have seen signs of stress before now if it were a problem?
<Possibly, but bear in mind that the 'crunch point' will be at night when the plants are net oxygen absorbers (during the day they'll be releasing more O2 than they use up for respiration). So unless you're watching the tank at midnight, you could easily miss out on the problem.>
The lights and CO2 are on a timer, CO2 goes off an hour before the lights do. The drop checker is usually that mid-green colour, which the table suggests for soft water is normal-insufficient. I’ve seen aquascapers say they push the CO2 till the drop checker is in the yellow and back it off when they see signs of stress in the fish. I’m not at all interested in pushing limits like that, keeping my fish healthy is more important to me than the state of the plants.
<A lot of hardcore aquarium plant growers tend to choose small fish like tetras and barbs with very small oxygen demands. Cichlids are substantially more sensitive, so this 'push things to the limit' approach doesn't appeal to me. I'd tend to go with using CO2 at the lowest setting at first, leave for a few weeks, and if all is going well, nudge it up a bit. Light intensity is usually the main factor in plant growth rate, with CO2 being an extra bonus. If your plants are looking 'leggy' or whatever, it's more likely lighting is what's holding them back.>
But that said is the drop checker enough of a guide to know there’s also enough oxygen in the tank? Can I be confident that that amount of plants (which I intend to keep adding to) is producing enough oxygen for my fish? I feel like I’m doing the right things, but would love to know if I’m missing something in ignorance.
<See above.>
As to the rummys, the first one that died I did see. The Kuhli loaches were making a quick snack of it in the bottom of the tank. The others I haven’t seen. I don’t think they’re being eaten only because they’ve lived with that angel the whole time and it never tried to eat them that I saw, and if it was that I figured I would expect the smaller new ones to go first?
<I suppose, or else the stupidest?>
Because of all the stem plants on the left near the filter intake it would be easy to miss it if one died and was being eaten but the Kuhlis. But it’s also enough stock losses over the months to have me nervous that there’s something bigger here. I don’t see signs of disease but I’ve also never really dealt with disease in my tanks so I’d be pretty ignorant about the signs.
<Oftentimes we can't be 100% sure about fish deaths. For sure Whitespot is obvious, or Finrot on a fish that's been fighting. But more often we're trying to puzzle out what's happened, which means ruling out complicating factors, such as CO2, wherever possible.>
As an aside, I doubt you’d remember (and I don’t remember if it was you or Bob who responded at the time), but some 7ish years ago I wrote to you guys about this angel. He jumped out of my tank and I found him in the mouth of my dog, alive and hurt. You guys talked me through treating his wounds. He not only survived being bitten by my dog, but lived this long. We always thought of him as our little miracle fish, and I often thought of the help I received here. Thanks for doing what you do. Your advice is forever invaluable.
<Thanks for the kind words! Quite the story...>
- Rhiannon
<Best wishes, Neale.>

Re: Sick angelfish. Old age? (RMF -- any other ideas?)<<None>>    2/12/20
Hi Neale. New problem here but figured it would be worth adding to the old thread since all my tank history is here.
<Sure thing.>
I took your advice on board and lowered the CO2 in the tank as a precaution. It’s been on a little less than 1 bubble per second since then. All has seemed well until today. My smallest discus is having buoyancy issues, floating towards the surface and is expending a lot of energy trying to swim downwards.
<Seems unlikely that this would have anything to do with the CO2. Buoyancy issues in cichlids can have multiple causes, but usually either constipation (best bet if the fish is otherwise normal and hungry); exposure to sudden temperature changes, especially temperature drops (usually easy enough to determine); or bacterial infections of various sorts (for which Dropsy, bleeding sores, loss of appetite, changes in colouration, etc., would all likely follow on).>
It’s a pale yellow colour usually but seems lighter in colour, its freckles on its face are definitely very pale. It was fine yesterday. My first thought was a swim bladder issue.
<See above; there really isn't any such thing as "Swim Bladder Disease" any more than "nausea" in humans -- it's more a symptom of some other situation or disease.>
Wanted to get your thoughts here, especially given past losses. I did a water change yesterday.
<Always wise, provided the fish aren't exposed to sudden changes in pH, hardness or temperature.>
Aside from that the only difference is that I have been trying a new pellet food my LFS recommended. But that said as far as I know I have had no success getting the discus to eat them (the Kuhli loaches have been gobbling it up as the discus just let it sink). The other discus in the tank all seem fine.
<Which is promising.>
If it is swim bladder, what’s my best course of action?
<See above re: diagnosis. If bacterial, then the usual antibiotics would be the best bet. Oftentimes, people go with a combination of Metronidazole alongside an antibiotic, typically a Nitrofuran, as a useful combo with cichlids that rarely causes stress.>
I’m not going to feed them today. I don’t know that I’ll have any luck with shelled peas as they wont eat anything that isn’t meat, but I will try. They’ll gobble up blood worms, beef heart and all but 1 will eat brine shrimp, but they won’t eat anything else. Have been browsing discus forums and so far the feedback is that people have had no luck treating swim bladder in discus. I’m reading through the discus WWW FAQ meantime but wanted to reach out in case I’m totally wrong here.
<Discus are funny fish. Hexamita parasites are probably ubiquitous among farmed Discus, and while they're undeniably more adaptable than wild Discus, farmed Discus are still sensitive beasts. They require more heat than most other fish, any below 28 C (82 F) their immune system eventually becomes compromised. Hence parasites like Hexamita, not to mention the usual Aeromonas and Pseudomonas, can all become problems.>
Thanks for your time,
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick angelfish. Old age?      2/13/20
Hi Neale,
<Hello Rhiannon,.
Thank you again for your time and wealth of info.
A few hours after writing to you, the discus came good. Was hiding, but no longer fighting buoyancy and it was pooping.
<So, constipation it is!>
This morning it is swimming eagerly with all the other discus looking like nothing was ever wrong. I’m inclined to think that a bacterial infection couldn’t have cleared up on its own so quickly and that it was just a case of constipation?
<Yes. Very common. Probably more common than we think. Green foods are the ideal, such as cooked peas, but Discus might turn their snouts up at that. So offer things like live or frozen brine shrimp and/or daphnia, which seem to have a pretty decent laxative effect.>
Please correct me if I’m wrong. Keeping a close eye on everyone but all seems back to normal.
I also wanted to visit what you said about immune system compromise under 28°C. I have my tank at 29°C, my LFS suggested to drop it to 28 because the plants don’t cope as well above 28.
<Correct. Or rather, most aquarium plants are swamp plants that spend some time out of the water, often dying back then. At high temperatures and submerged all year long, they do become 'exhausted'. There likely are workarounds, and some plants are less fussed than others. It's one of those situations where some time researching plants known to be good with Discus might be worthwhile. I've seen things like Giant Vallis and some Amazon Swords used with great success.>
I’m interested in your thoughts regarding toeing that line. Is 28 too close for comfort regarding long-term health?
<28 C/82 F should be fine, but I'd not risk lower temperatures with Discus.>
Would you typically try to keep the tank warmer for discus, or is all fine as long as it’s within their range?
<See above.>
I’m more interested in healthy discus than maximising plant growth and colour.
Many thanks,
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Dying FW Angel        6/29/19
Hello, I am Yazu Nakarmi a fish keeper from Nepal.
<Good evening from Neale in England!>
I've been on your website and I've found it extremely helpful. Being a fish keeper, I'm facing a disastrous problem right now. My angel fish are dying one by one.
<Oh dear!>
I've lost over six of them now. I just can't figure out the problem. Many white worm like dots appear on the head of the angelfish and the condition worsens everyday. I just don't know what to do.
<To be honest, nor do I. The photo doesn't really help. If this is something developing over several weeks, I'd be looking at either a simple Hexamita infection or something known as Hole-in-the-Head disease, which is connected with Hexamita but possibly not identical. Either way, you'd treat this with Metronidazole together with an antibiotic. Metronidazole is about the only thing that works against Hexamita parasites. The antibiotic helps clean up wounds and prevent secondary infections. Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head infections have complicated causes, and some argue that the pathogens involved are latent in most farmed cichlids. So what triggers these diseases? Seems to be environment: overstocking, leading to low oxygen and high nitrate is probably the biggest issue. Frequent water changes and lower density stocking will help. There may be a dietary factor involved as well; in particular, the lack of fresh greens in those cichlids that need them. Cooked peas will be eaten by hungry Angels, but failing that, frozen Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp if you can get them.>
Your kind response and help would be much appreciated. Thank you!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re:       6/29/19
Thank you Neale. What's the dosage for the metronidazole?
<Will direct you to some relevant reading:
Quote: "Metronidazole can be administered orally at a dosage of 50 mg/kg body weight (or 10 mg/gm. food) for 5 consecutive days.">
Also I've found thick white poop in the aquarium and all the dead angelfish have red coloured heads.
<White, stringy faeces is a CLASSIC symptom of Hexamita infection.>
I think it is internal bleeding.
<I don't. Cheers, Neale.>

Hemorrhagic septicemia and ulcer issues      5/6/19
Dear WWM team,
Some history-
I have had an established freshwater, 45 gallon tank for 4 months now. When I upsized from my 30gal, I poured about 15 gallons of established water from the smaller tank into the larger one and added another seven fish.
<Ah, do remember the nitrifying bacteria are not in the water, but attached to solid surfaces in well oxygenated areas. Transplanting filter media is the ideal, but floating plants with established root systems, or plants with feathery leaves, are almost as good. Even moving the topmost layer of
sand and gravel will help. But alas, 'old' water contains few bacteria, and while it'll surely contain some, the number will be so few that the cycling process will barely be abbreviated at all.>
In all, I have 2 dwarf gouramis, 2 cardinal tetras, 4 skirttail tetras (2 white and 2 black),
<If these are Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, they can be nippy. I mention this because aggression and physical damage can, will lead to Finrot and other opportunistic bacterial infections.>
2 mollies, a Redtail shark,
<Another potentially aggressive species.>
a common Pleco ( 4 inches) and 2 angelfish.
<Should also remind you that while sociable enough when young, adults are territorial. Mated pairs can work, but in groups fewer than 6, you can end up with bullying.>
I had another angelfish, though it died a couple of days ago from what appeared to be hemorrhagic septicemia.
<Angels are prone to this, or so it sometimes seems. In truth they are probably no more sensitive than any other cichlid, but unlike most other cichlids, they're popular choices among beginners and those stocking smaller community tanks, so commonly exposed to what are, to cichlids, stressful levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.>
After closer analysis of the other two angelfish, I think there may be the very beginning of the red discolorations to their fins as well.
<I would treat as per Finrot to start with.>
The 30gal tank now has my older 'establisher' goldfish, one molly and a common Pleco and that tank has been established for almost 9 months. The only new additions to the tanks were the angelfish and 4 new tetras, as well as some more Nerite snails, and that was several months ago. The tanks are planted, again with no recent additions, and the temperatures sit at a steady 78-80 degrees F. Mechanically, I upgraded the bigger tank to a canister filter with a UV light several weeks ago. The old filter for that tank then shifted down to the smaller tank which needed an oversized filter with the mess that 3 medium goldfish make. I also got the 30 gallon an independent UV light to help with some of the recent algae outbreaks from too much sunlight this time of year.
These are only 2 of my 6 tanks and they usually have the most cross contamination out of all of them due to location and the amount of work they need done to maintain them.
Admittedly, a decent amount of material from the bigger tank makes its way into the goldfish tank since the goldies like chowing down on some of the more delicate leaves I keep in the other tank until they no longer look nice. So, it comes to no surprise to me that the goldfish seem to have a slight discoloration (a pink hue) in their tails and pectoral fin articulations. I am currently treating both tanks with Furan 2.
<Don't believe the Angels are 'catching' something from the Goldfish, but if all else fails, isolate the two tanks as perfectly as possible. This would include separate nets, buckets, etc., or at least, the use of
sterilising agents in between uses, as done in tropical fish shops.>
The goldies had some flashing/ flitting fin and scraping issues a few months ago with no visible issues and so they have been through the gauntlet of parasitic treatments- Artemis, ParaGaurd, Anchorworm/Lice, salt baths. None seemed to work individually until I tried a concentrated salt bath for 45 min.s and then a week of ParaGaurd. They have been fine for several weeks until this new issue.
At least 30% of the water is changed either weekly, or biweekly depending on the water parameters and how clear the water is. I like my tanks to be crystal clear. The gravel is vacuumed thoroughly.
Nitrates are usually 0-10ppm (for sure less than 25 for the goldies even on a 3wk wait)
Nitrite 0
Carbonate 40-80ppm
Total Alk 80ppm
pH 6.5-7.5
CaCO3 50-120ppm
Ammonia 0
The issues-
The biggest angelfish has what seems to be an ulcer on the top of his head right on a dark part of his marbling. I found it one day after changing the tank water and rearranging the plants and decorations and I assumed that I must have dropped something and it hit him. But, he has had it for several weeks now and it seems to be growing as he grows. There is no inflammation or 'cotton' like fluff coming out of it, but there is a slight depression like something just took off a layer of skin. The subdermal area is dark in color like the black dermal area that used to cover that area. There appears to be a whitish periphery along the edge of the ulcer and it looks slightly lose and water logged compared to the taunt skin surrounding the area (a low-profile fungus?). Both angelfish appear to have slight pink markings that I don't remember being present even last week. On the stripped angelfish, it is easier to see a narrow, red vein that spans the distance on his dorsal region. Due to the demise of the other angel and the red hues he had all over, I assumed that all of my fish in the two tanks have been exposed and have hemorrhagic septicemia. All fish are acting healthy and happy with normal poop, appetites, fins, and begging behaviors.
My questions-
What is the 'ulcer' on the marbled angel's head and how should I proceed given that it has been allowed to advance for a few weeks?
Should I be assuming that every pink/ red mark on any of my fish is hemorrhagic septicemia?
<Red patches on the skin indicate inflammation and/or congestion of the underlying blood vessels, and just as with humans, such symptoms don't necessarily imply just one disease. Finrot is far more likely in the situation, and use of a reliable antibacterial or antibiotic would be my first move here. Septicaemia simply means a bacterial infection of the blood, but tends to be systemic (i.e., across the whole body) rather than small, discrete patches (which tends to imply local infection of skin tissue).>
Thank you so much for your time! I am a fish person and I have a decent amount of experience dealing with the common fungus/ fin/ ich/ parasite issues. But, this one is a bit above me and I want to make sure that I'm handling it correctly since septicemia is nothing to fool around with and I love my fishies! Plus, the marbled angel ulcer has really stumped me and I'm wondering if it could at all be related to anything.
Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated! Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can answer any more questions for you!
Most Sincerely,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

full-size pix

Re: Hemorrhagic septicemia and ulcer issues       5/7/19
Thank you, Neale!
<Mot welcome.>
I will treat the tanks for fin rot! Do you have any ideas as to what might be the cause of the ulcer at the base of the marbled angel's dorsal fin or are you thinking that this is fin rot as well?
<Could easily be. Finrot is a generic term of Aeromonas and Pseudomonas spp. infections, and doesn't specifically mean infections are centred on the fins. You can have Finrot anywhere the skin is damaged sufficiently to allow these opportunistic bacteria to get in.>
The ulcer is at the base of the fin, but it doesn't appear to touch any part of the fin/ all the fin tissue looks healthy. When I first saw it, I did treat the tank with Microbe-Lift Artemis for a few days, but stopped due to no improvements. Should I just continue the treatment for longer this time or try giving him a salt bath?
<Salt baths do little/nothing against bacterial infections.>
The potential fin nippers don't bother the angelfish at all as they keep to different layers of the water column for the most part.
<I'd still watch them, carefully.>
All the fish have their own preferred spots in the tank (there's lots of vegetation to hide in throughout the water column since I have shelves and cups for plants/ décor on the tank walls) and they only get aggressive when someone invades their favorite spot 'without permission'. It is strange to me that the ulcer is in the place it is, especially since all fins are in perfect condition with no nips or tears. Besides stress, which he doesn't appear to be under, what could it be from?
<Hard to say. Different varieties of Angelfish are somewhat more prone to disease than others, so there may be a genetic predisposition (e.g., a weakened immune system due to inbreeding) in some cases. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred these bacterial infections are caused by the environment. The tricky bit is determining what the underlying issue was. Optimising diet, water chemistry, water quality, oxygenation, and tankmates will tick off the most likely factors. You might also try to the old Metronidazole/Nitrofuran combo as a useful treatment against indistinct cichlid maladies.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hemorrhagic septicemia and ulcer issues      5/9/19
Thank you for your insights! Fingers crossed that everything works out well. Due to your help, I’m much more confident in handling the situation.
Thanks again,
<And here's hoping your fish gets better! Good luck, Neale.>

Angelfish.... trouble      5/6/17
Hi! I've searched, read, treated, observed, been patient but I'm stumped. I bought some angelfish online that all died within about 3 weeks. A couple were dead on arrival and they just kept dying. I threw everything away from
the tank. In the process of this, I spread something to all my other tanks.
The fish now have small white dots on filaments of pectoral and ventral fins, fins are frayed and separating between the filaments, most have lost their scales, "pinkish fuzz" from (see picture), along with fin rot. I've
treated with Furan 2 for 2 weeks, then Levamisole one treatment, then CopperSafe for one month. Treatment hasn't cured. The fish are eager to eat, act healthy but very hypersensitive at times. What should I treat with?
<Metronidazole... Flagyl... and hope>
See pictures
Thank you
<Bob Fenner>

Re: Angelfish       5/7/17
Thank you so much!!!!!
<Glad to share Jill. BobF>
Fwd: Angelfish       5/7/17

When do you think I'll see a different if it's going to work?
<Days to a few weeks. B>

Angelfish with white spots that don't appear to be Ick     3/1/17
I searched your site for a problem that I am having with my angelfish that has a few white spots on it's head that are not Ick.
<Agreed, not Ich; but mucus... perhaps Hexamita/Octomita involvement>
On your site I found this thread... Angelfish with white spots that don't appear to be Ick 2/6/14 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWAngParasitDisF.htm I believe my fish may be having the same problem. After reading the tread and replies, I could not find any evidence of what
the final outcome was? I have a 120 gallon, planted community tank, that is well established (over 1 year) and is stocked, with tetras, barbs, loaches, Cory cats and 2 angelfish. I use Flora Max for my substrate and have crypts, Anubias , Amazon swords, and java fern for my live plants. I have a couple of photos that I will include and hopefully you can help me out with a diagnosis and some treatment options. Thank you, Robert
<I do concur and re-suggest what I'd stated per the citation above: "Could it be hole-in-the-head?
<Doubtful, but may be some sort of external protozoan. I would try a one shot lacing of their foods w/ Metronidazole; and as this may be a Fluke/Trematode, with Praziquantel as well>"
Bob Fenner>

Distressed Angel; FW     3/13/16
I have a 29 gallon tank with 4 angels and 6 zebra,

a few plants - it has been set up and running great for a year, the angels were added 5 months ago at half-grown size. Since then the angels have exploded with growth - they are already 4 inches and they are breeding right
there in the community tank (I let them eat the eggs because I don't have the facilities to raise young angels). The zebra have also bred and I am growing some of them in another tank. I have a freshwater drip system that
refreshes the whole tank daily - 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0-10 nitrate, ph 7.6. They are fed flakes, frozen bloodworms, and frozen brine shrimp.
<All sounds good.>
Yesterday "Blackhawk" (angel) began swimming strangely, "panting", stays near surface, this morning his fins are folded closer to his body. Last night when I fed him he ate a little, although not as voraciously as usual.
All the other fish are still healthy. The only "change" I can think of is I scraped some algae off the glass two days ago - but I do this regularly to no ill effect. What should I do to help Blackhawk?
<There's nothing in what you've told me that's obviously wrong. So you're going to have to go back to basics and tick off a checklist of potential Angelfish issues. First up, check nitrite and/or ammonia to make sure the filter is okay. It's never a bad idea to do a substantial water change when fish are off-colour, just be sure to keep temperature and water chemistry reasonably steady as you do so. Change maybe 25-50% and see what happens.
If the fish perks up, then environment is likely an issue. Of course check the heater is on, and check any extra gizmos like air stones are working too. Next up, check social behaviour. One issue with Angels is they're social when young, territorial when sexually mature. This is why they're best kept singly, in mated pairs, or in groups of six or more. If you keep three or four, any pairs that form are likely to bully the remainder. In groups of six or more this is less of an issue because a single pair can't harass four or more Angels too seriously, and to some degree large numbers can actually form fairly stable social groups (outside of spawning) that doesn't seem to happen when fewer Angels are kept. Finally, look at social behaviour with other fish. While Zebra Danios are reliable community fish
alongside other active species of similar size, they can be quite feisty, both towards each other and anything too slow to get out of their way. Look for evidence of nipping, for example. While the Danio/Angel combination is
usually pretty good, in small groups Danios are less predictable than they are in decent sized schools; say, 10-12 specimens.>
Thanks, John
<Hope this helps, Neale.> 
Distressed Angel Blackhawk - more info    3/14/16

I just sent the question about my angel "Blackhawk". I neglected to also mention that as he hovers near the surface he is also doing a sort of rapid body shimmy. This shimmy, along with his gill panting looks exhausting! See my previous email for full info.
<Again, nothing very specific. Rapid breathing can mean thermal stress, bullying to the point of exhaustion, poisoning (including chemicals in the air), rapid pH changes... you need to review aquarium conditions and the room in its in and come to your own conclusions. Shimmying is somewhat more specific, being typical of fish exposed to the wrong environmental conditions, the classic case being Mollies in inadequately hard freshwater conditions. But again, nothing obvious. I'd refer you back to my original email about what Angels need and why they don't always get along in small groups, and of course remind you that isolating an Angelfish in a "hospital tank" that's too small or poorly filtered will simply make things worse. By and large Angels are hardy fish, but they are classic cichlids in being among the first to become stressed if environmental conditions aren't right. In planted tanks that can include over/mis-use of CO2, so one step is to switch off CO2 for a week and see what happens. Plants'll be fine.
Another problem can be lack of oxygen if there's a lot of organic matter in the tank, including dead plants, and of course the plants themselves use up oxygen by night, so if the Angel looks more stressed in the morning before
the lights go on, that's something to consider. I'd also remind you about biogenic decalcification, which in brightly lit tanks can be massively influential. In short: plants absorb carbonate hardness as a source of carbon for photosynthesis, resulting in much less buffering capacity, and that in turn makes pH crashes likely. Not all plants can do this, but those that can, such as Vallisneria, can be hugely influential on water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.>

Help with Angelfish issue? /RMF       4/18/15
Good Afternoon, Been trying to figure out what is happening with my FW angelfish.. I bought 10 or so Blue gene fish back in July of 2014.. At about 1 a month they have become sick and died.. Many with weird sores at the base of the dorsal fin and others with them through out their bodies..
Some have just gotten bloating and died. I have treated with general cure, Prazi, metro, metro flake for possible hex. I have 1 of those fish left and a few of my other angels in there are acting weird now, staying in the corner breathing heavy.. The Tetras, Corys, Bristlenoses are fine.
<Mmm; will send this on to Neale for his independent response; but want to ask for myself: Have you contacted the vendor re these losses? What re the system, water quality tests? Bob Fenner>
Re: Help with Angelfish issue?       4/18/15

I have talked to the vendor. They had me try the metro but that was about it. Its a heavily planted 55 gallon. The parameters are good.. 0 ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 5 Nitrate.. Wc 40-50% at least once a week.
<All good>
I attached a few pictures
<Mmm; the marks, apparent bloating, eyes bulging in some specimens... Do you save up the new water... Am wondering if emphysematosis (the "bends") might be at play here. BobF>


Help with Angelfish issue? /Neale's go        4/18/15
Good Afternoon, Been trying to figure out what is happening with my FW angelfish.. I bought 10 or so Blue gene fish back in July of 2014.. At about 1 a month they have become sick and died.. Many with weird sores at the base of the dorsal fin and others with them through out their bodies..
Some have just gotten bloating and died. I have treated with general cure, Prazi, metro, metro flake for possible hex. I have 1 of those fish left and a few of my other angels in there are acting weird now, staying in the corner breathing heavy.. The Tetras, Corys, Bristlenoses are fine.
<Jonathan, while I'd like to help, there's nothing here that's of use to me. How big's the tank? What are the water chemistry parameters? What's the water quality in terms of nitrite or ammonia? How frequently do you do
water changes?
Basically, I need some info here (and I don't mean words like "fine" to describe water quality). Assuming you got a bunch of sibling fish from one breeder, there's a good chance they're inbred already, lowering their robustness (something we see in virtually all these "fad" Angelfish varieties such as Koi Angels) but in itself this doesn't mean they're doomed to die. So something is definitely wrong with your system that triggered what would appear to be a bacterial infection, perhaps Mycobacteria. It's time to be objective, and review your set-up. Ten inbred young Angels would need careful nurturing, probably in a clean hospital tank until they were at least half adult size. Zero ammonia, zero
nitrite, and nitrate below 20 mg/l. Beyond that, a lot depends upon all the usual factors required when caring for Angels, but more so, since these fish aren't as robust as, say, old school Silver Angels. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Help with Angelfish issue?

I have talked to the vendor. They had me try the metro but that was about it. Its a heavily planted 55 gallon. The parameters are good.. 0 ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 5 Nitrate.. Wc 40-50% at least once a week. I attached a few pictures
<Water quality sounds okay. But how different was your water chemistry to that of the breeders? Your heavily planted tank... does it use CO2? Not always a good combo with delicate fish because of the risk of less than stable oxygenation and pH levels... would settle in new livestock of this type, delicacy in their own, clean aquarium until at least half size so
you're sure they've put on weight and acquired some degree of health.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Help with Angelfish issue?       4/18/15
her water is 7.8 and rock hard Im told.
Mine is water is 6.8 and 1 degree total hardness

<Well, how did you acclimate your new livestock to the change in pH and, just as importantly, hardness? While I doubt this was the reason for their death, it's possible it exacerbated any underlying problems.>
no C02
<Fair enough. Well, my money would be on some sort of environmental stress alongside a microbial (perhaps Mycobacteria) infection. Next time, don't expose the fish to sudden/dramatic changes in pH and hardness; do quarantine sensitive livestock for 6 weeks, minimum, and in the case of young Angels, the longer the better. Angels ship poorly at the "coin size" or smaller stages, but become a lot more rugged above 3 inches/8 cm.>
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: Help with Angelfish issue?       4/18/15

Thank you for the help
I just drip acclimated.
Any suggestions to help the fish that are left? Thanks
<So far the remaining fish go, since you've made the change in terms of water chemistry, there's no point trying to undo that. So instead focus on optimising water quality, and if possible, and it wouldn't stress them too much, perhaps move them to a quarantine tank you can keep spotlessly clean.
I'd be thinking something around 20 gallons, minimal (easy clean!) decor, no substrate, limited/no lighting, some floating Indian Fern if you do have lighting (Angels love this stuff, and it sucks up nitrate!), same water chemistry as main tank, and equipped with mature air-powered sponge filter.
No Angel likes fighting against a water current, and youngsters can be exhausted by it. So air-power is always the best choice where practical. In short, keep the remaining youngsters somewhere clean, shady, and with a gentle current. Offer them numerous small meals (4-6 meals is the ideal for Angels below, say, an inch in length, and even under two inches, I'd be offering 3-4 small meals rather than just one big dinner). If you leave them in the main tank, check they're getting enough to eat, not struggling against the water current, have plenty of shade and shelter, and aren't being harassed by tetras, danios and other hyperactive species. Cheers, Neale.>  

Angelfish gone downhill any ideas?    2/21/14
On Thursday I noticed the angel spending lots of time by the heater not eating and acting listless. he has sense sunk to the bottom of the tank and has heavy breathing and is not moving normally. I did a water change a day after adding Tetracycline. and he seems about the same. He is more bloated and has one slightly cloudy eye.   Due to the roads being bad( it snowed a ton last night)  I have to wait to go out and get more meds for him. I did turn up the heater and added aquarium salt.
<Alex, the usual advice here is this: Test the water quality (nitrite is a good start) and the water chemistry (pH will do). Compare to what they should be. Do a water change of 25-50%. Check the heater (no need to increase/decrease, just make sure it's where it should be). Don't feed the fish just yet. Wait to see if the fish perks up after the water change; if it does, it's a good clue there's something amiss with the environment. Assess, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish gone downhill any ideas?    2/21/14

looked up swim bladder issues/ angel distress, I think that's what he has,
<Except that fish that have "swim bladder problems" are almost certainly stressed or sick in some other way, and what you're seeing is a symptom, not a disease ("Swim Bladder Disease" as imagined by many fish keepers basically doesn't exist). So you need to review all possible aspects. When fish get sick, they find it difficult to swim. It's rather like how a high temperature can mean all sorts of things in humans, from the flu to malaria.>
as he still lies on the bottom and struggles to swim properly The L204 has been leaving him alone and the rams are too.. I took out the carbon and plan on getting meds for him once the snowy roads are cleared. tomorrow- any meds I can get for swim bladder trouble.
<A sensible approach would be to treat as per an internal bacterial infection, but if there's some other cause of stress, such as bullying,
obviously that won't help. Do review your aquarium carefully: there's something going on that's made your Angel stressed or sick, and there's no information at all that you've supplied me that would be used to identify the reason(s). Cheers, Neale.>

Angelfish may be dying    /Neale    2/3/13
I have a black angelfish in a 46 bowfront. I have another in there, but he is in the ten gallon for now. I can't tell if the black one has Ich or not. There are white spots, that do look like salt crystals. Other times when I look the spots look flat. There are about four or five spots spread across the body and on the fins, but some more spots are concentrated near the gills and the fish has small white ribbon like stuff protruding from the anus. Could this be a fungus?? The fish will come up for food, but usually won't take it. I am putting the heat up to the late eighties, which may kill the Nerite snails. I do have Maracyn, but that is just for fungus. I once read that it was ok to put a fish in a smaller tank like the 10 gallon and saturate with marine salt for 3-5 minutes then place back in large tank, but I will not do this without talking to you guys. Thank you for any info
<Whitespot and Velvet can seem similar, but Velvet often gets inside the gill cavities before the rest of the body, and in that way causes serious stress to the fish. Treatment is similar to Whitespot, but Velvet can be more stubborn, and may need a second round of medication. In either case, both diseases can allow fungus and Finrot-type infections to set in.
However, pale (often transparent) stringy faeces are normally a sign of gut parasites, particularly Hexamita. The best approach here would be to trade the Whitespot or Velvet using the combination heat and salt treatment, whilst also medicating as per Hexamita, using Flagyl (Metronidazole). Do remember to remove carbon whilst medicating, if carbon is used. Cheers, Neale.>
Angelfish may be dying     /RMF   2/3/13

I have a black angelfish in a 46 bowfront. I have another in there, but he is in the ten gallon for now. I can't tell if the black one has Ich or not. There are white spots, that do look like salt crystals. Other times when I look the spots look flat. There are about four or five spots spread across the body and on the fins, but some more spots are concentrated near the gills and the fish has small white ribbon like stuff protruding from the anus. Could this be a fungus??
<Doubtful, but possibly>
 The fish will come up for food, but usually won't take it. I am putting the heat up to the late eighties,
<Good, this is what I would do.>
 which may kill the Nerite snails.
<Just to 85, 86 F. then will do>
I do have Maracyn, but that is just for fungus.
<Mmm, no; for more than this>
 I once read that it was ok to put a fish in a smaller tank like the 10 gallon and saturate with marine salt for 3-5 minutes then place back in large tank, but I will not do this without talking to you guys. Thank you for any info
<I would not use a salt bath here... Please review the FW Angelfish Disease FAQs... Starting here:
and the rest (linked above). Bob Fenner>

Angelfish problem    2/24/12
I saw your site had a large variety of information for sick fish but when I thought I found the answer the situation only got worse... My angelfish that’s been in the tank for only 3 months now has been getting some fungal like growth on the base of its left fin, which then turned into lumps, then back to fungal.
 I used the Kordon Rid Ich Plus
<See WWM re this product... formaldehyde and Malachite... not often efficacious in hobbyist settings>

 treatment for the past 3-4 weeks now but I haven’t been getting any results and the two lumps on its dorsal fin (went from white to red) has also been getting worse. I have a 30 gallon tank with another angelfish in it but he’s not aggressive towards our other problem fish,
<Am not so sure>

the weird thing about it is my black one is in perfect condition and they have been in the same tank from the shop we got them from (the tank they were in was about 10 gallons with 2 other angelfish).
<Too small a volume>
 I tried taking some pictures of it as well in case I wasn’t descriptive enough.
<Something is wrong here... the one fish beating the other likely. I'd be separating them. Bob Fenner>


Re: Angelfish problem   2/24/12
Thank you for replying so fast and I'll try use that product you suggested.
<? Welcome. BobF>

Question - Angelfish -- 10/07/11
I've searched Google and angelfish forums for several days now and cannot find out the information I am looking for, so I thought I'd ask and see if you knew what was going on with my fish. I'll try to be as detailed as possible, sorry if its a long mail.
About two months ago I had a 10 gallon aquarium, with 2 Cory cats, 2 Rasboras, and 1 glass-painted fish. (The small ones) I decided to get an Angelfish, and the store said that 2 angelfish would be fine in that aquarium.
<Uh, no.>

I know, I should have done more research ahead of time, but I assumed they were being fine. One of them died, and I figured it was just that fish, and when I was at PetSmart the next day, I bought another one. (They, also told me that it was fine in a 10 gallon) That one was quite smaller, and it ended up dying, but my first one was fine. Then after that one died, I did some research and joined an angelfish forum, and they told me that I needed a bigger aquarium.
<Correct. We all make mistakes starting out in any hobby, and I'm pleased you're learning from the ones you've made so far. Well done.>
So I bought a 30 gallon aquarium, and after I got it up and running for several days (using the stones, aerator, and castle from my old aquarium)
first I let my Cory cats stay in there before switching over my other small fish. Then I bought 2 more Angelfish, another Cory cat, and a Gourami. I have a heater for up to 50 gallons, a 50-60 gallon filter, two live plants, and an aerator also. The filter/heater were new as of a month ago.
Everything was going fine as far as we could see, until about 2 weeks afterwards, and we started noticing the angelfish were staying towards the bottom of the aquarium and not coming up as much as they use to (they were always very friendly) I then noticed that their top fins were smaller and looked like they "fell down" and the part in between the fins looked like it was filmy and deteriorating. I did water changes and checked the levels.
The Nitrates were a bit high before I did the water change (like 30? I don't remember its been a couple weeks ago) but they both ended up dying.
<Now, the odd thing with nitrates (with an "a", rather than nitrites with an "I") is that they're fairly harmless to most fish, but cichlids are among those fish for which this isn't true. You want nitrate levels below 20 mg/l if at all possible. All cichlids, including Angels, need ammonia and nitrite levels of 0 mg/l.>
I took the dead fish to the store to see if he knew what was going on, and he said that it was "definitely" something in the aquarium eating on them.
So I told him what all I had, (including the Gourami in which I bought from him) and he said that Gourami's can be kind of nippy and so that was the source of my problem. This was about a week ago. He said that he would take the Gourami back and switch it for another Angelfish. So I did that and bought another angel to go along with it.
<Fin damage can be caused by Finrot, and it can be caused by physical damage (like fin-nipping). It's very difficult to tell the two things apart if you don't know what you're looking for. And worse, physical damage to the fins can let Finrot start, so you might even be dealing with both at once!>
So that was Last Friday, and yesterday morning one was dead. It had no signs at all it was just suddenly dead. The other one's top fin fell down and looked a bit filmy also. It started hanging at the bottom of the aquarium, opening and closing its mouth also. We got my 10 gallon up and running again and put her in there, but she ended up dying too. None of the other fish are acting differently at all. The Cory's like to flit to the top every now and then and go back down, but generally they stay on the bottom. No one is gulping or lethargic or anything, they are all acting fine. My levels this morning are 0 nitrites, 15 nitrates, 0 ammonia, and 8.2 for the pH. I do have a lot of algae, its brownish-green with some darker spots here and there. I took a picture of it but its just normal algae.
<Algae isn't a problem here. In fact your water quality seems quite good, though the pH is a bit high. I assume you have very hard water? Farmed Angels should cope with this, but do be aware it's less than ideal for them. Angels naturally come from soft, acidic water where the pH tends to be low. I'm not telling you to change the water chemistry -- that would be risky if you don't understand how to soften water and how to slowly change conditions in the tank. But you do need to be aware that Angels aren't necessarily at their easiest to keep when maintained in hard, alkaline water.>
I use the API water tester with the vials and droplets, and I use (well I use to use AquaSafe to do my water changes but the past two water changes I've used API water conditioner because it is suppose to help with damaged fish. I feed the fish every night regular tropical fish flakes, about two pinches as to avoid overfeeding. My temperature is always between 72-76.
<A bit too cold for these fish. Turn the heater up a notch today, and another notch tomorrow. Aiming for 25-28 C/77-82 F is about right for Angelfish. They're very much hothouse flowers! When kept too cold their immune system doesn't work reliably. Most Corydoras will be stressed above 25 C/77 F, so that may limit how high you can go, but Corydoras sterbai is the exception and thrives in water as warm as 28 C/82 F.>
I'm really at a loss as to what's going on. I love my angelfish but don't want to keep getting something if its going to die. what can I do?
<Angels are normally quite easy to keep. But they are vulnerable to fin-nippers, so choose companion barbs and tetras with care. Avoid, for example, Serpae Tetras, Black Widow/Petticoat Tetras, Tiger Barbs and Ruby Barbs. Likewise, they're so slow that they're easily bullied by aggressive tankmates including Three-Spot Gouramis (which includes things like Blue, Gold, and Opaline Gouramis). Angels prefer tanks with a gentle current, warm water, soft to moderately hard water chemistry, and suitably peaceful tankmates. They dislike bright light and they like plants.>
Thank you for your time.
<I do wonder if there's a combination of factors here: bad luck, cool water, bullying tankmates, and perhaps some fin-nipping from the Rasboras or Glassfish (the Rasboras especially need to be kept in groups of 6+ specimens). Cheers, Neale.>

Pterophyllum leopoldi hangs at surface 8/2/11
Hi guys!
<Hello Aslak!>
I have a 240 litre SA community tank with some (five) young Leopoldi angels.
<Nice fish.>
I've had the fish for about six months. I've noticed that they from time to time "hang" at the water surface. I know fish tend to do when there's too little oxygen in the water, however none of the other fish in the tank does this, and I've read a couple of places that this behaviour is considered normal for Leopoldi (or angelfish in general perhaps?) because they like to skim the surface for algae.
<Perhaps. My understanding of Angels in the wild is that they feed primarily on insect larvae at the surface. I would be open minded about the oxygen issue, and check circulation is adequate, especially in summer.>
I have tried to find more info but it's a difficult issue to search for as the search terms give me mostly irrelevant hits.
<I bet. In older books this species was known as Pterophyllum dumerilii, even though this name is (apparently) a synonym of Pt. scalare.>
They do seem to stop this behaviour if I direct the flow from the canister filter along the tank, but I figure that might just as well be because the increased flow removes the surface algae film or makes it hard to "hang out".
<Sounds more like the oxygen issue. Do provide a good turnover, 6x the volume of the tank per hour, but disperse the current by directing jets at the sides of the tank, tall rocks, etc. Spray bars can work nicely.
Alternatively, add an airstone or two.>
I'm also curious about plants. As far as I know Angelfish in general lives in areas with little or no aquatic plants.
Is this different for the Leopoldi?
<Not so far as I know.>
Right now the tank is scaped with mostly driftwood and roots, but I do have some Vallisneria in there as well.
<Which will be welcomed.>
I am considering removing the Vallisneria and introduce some Amazon Frogbit as the only plant life in the tank. Any thoughts on this?
<Floating plants would be excellent additions to this system, but do ensure they don't block the oxygen exchange between the water and the air above.>
Thanks for any enlightenment you can provide ;)
Cheers, Aslak
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pterophyllum leopoldi hangs at surface 8/3/11

Evening Neale!
Thank you for your reply. I'll be sure to keep an eye on the Leopoldis and increase the flow if needed. The last few days I've had the spray bar turned downwards and "backwards" towards the wall of the aquarium.
<Can work well.>
I'll once again turn it back out towards the open water if needed.
- Aslak
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Unexplained angelfish death (Bob, any better explanations?)<<>> 2/11/11
Hi Crew, Our 37 gal tall tank was set up in July 2007. The original 5 Corys and 1 cherry barb are still alive and well. Water parameters are:
Ammonia 0 mg/L, Nitrite 0 mg/L, Nitrate 5- 10 mg/L, KH 53.7 ppm, GH 143.2 ppm, pH 7.0, Temperature 80 F, partial water change of 10 gal/week. In March 2008, introduced three small angelfish. After a few months, two of them died within a week of each other with no apparent signs of illness.
The remaining one died one year later from a large lip fibroma. In August 2009, introduced three medium-sized angelfish. They were thriving until August 2010, when one developed a few small white bumps on the rays of its tailfin only. The bumps didn't resolve, but didn't spread either. About two months later it started to mouth and spit out all foods (their diet was flakes, frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp and live fruitflies). It was eager to eat, but didn't seem able to swallow the food. It had no bloating or other signs of illness. It died one month later, thin, but no lesions, redness, patches, or fin damage. Also, inside the mouth and gills looked fine. Then, one of the other two angelfish started to lay on its side at the surface. If touched, it would right itself and could swim, with difficulty and still attempted to eat. After two weeks, it could only float, and died, with no other signs of illness. The remaining angelfish then started to mouth and spit out food. After three weeks, it was found dead with all of its fins missing but no signs of fungus or infection. My husband's theory is the angelfish were bullied by the barb and the resulting stress caused the illness, but there were never nipped or damaged fins. I'm reluctant to introduce new fish if the tank could be harboring an infectious agent. Both sets of angelfish were purchased from a store whose owner raises them himself and quarantines before selling. The fish were healthy for a year, nothing else was introduced to the tank, and only one fish developed white spots which didn't look like Ich. The only changes were 1) replaced BioWheel (due to splashing noise) with Fluval U4 during summer 2010, but ran them concurrently for 3 months and never had detectable ammonia or nitrite. 2) just before the fish started to spit out food, ran out of flakes from AngelsPlus and fed with O.S.I flakes.
Thank you for your consideration, Patricia
<Hello Patricia. If all the other fish are healthy, then I'd be tempted to put this down to the (very) poor quality of Angelfish in the stores these days.
Yes, nippy and/or boisterous Barbs and Angelfish shouldn't be kept together. Tiger Barbs (including Moss and Albino Barbs), Rosy Barbs, and Ruby Barbs would top the list here, though the shy, docile species like Five-Banded Barbs and Dwarf Gelius Barbs can make excellent companions for Angels. But even if the Barbs were being nippy or aggressive, you'd expect to see signs of fin-nipping, including fin damage, Finrot, and fungal infections. Unfortunately the general quality of Angels in the trade is incredibly low, made worse because the majority of casual aquarists seem to go for the inbred varieties like Koi Angels and Veiltail Angels rather than the usually quite robust standard Silver Angel (3-4 black bars plus red eyes) and, on the whole, pretty good Marble Angel. Furthermore, many stores sell Angels at the coin-sized size perhaps 3-4 cm/1.5-inches across. These tiny Angels simply do not travel well, and because they're shipped out in vast numbers from bulk producers, there is a high risk of cross-contamination of diseases. I'd strongly encourage people not to buy Angels with bodies smaller than 5 cm/2 inches across, and if at all possible, buy them from a local breeder. Trust me, Angels are among the easiest fish to procure from members of city fish clubs, often at better quality and lower costs than your retailer. Failing that, have your retailer get you some good quality stock at a larger size, and be prepared to pay a premium. Good quality Angels are plump, sturdy, with fins that don't have kinks or curls, and well-bred, wild-type Silver Angels especially have red eyes that positively shine with vigour (for some reason the red-eye gene is lost in most man-made varieties). Sure, a pair of prime Angels might cost $50 or more, but they'll live for 12 years, and they'll give your lots of pleasure in that time! Cheers, Neale.><<Along w/ your guess, I'd postulate that there is "something" in this set up... a geode, seashell... that is "more poisonous" to angels than the Corys or barb... Please tell us what sort of gravel, decor... you employ here. RMF>>
Re: More re: Unexplained angelfish death (Bob, any better explanations?) 2/12/11

Thank you both for getting back to me. The substrate is a small-sized gravel designated for freshwater aquariums, not colored or cultured, and not supposed to affect the pH. The decorations are a large piece of African Mopani driftwood and SeaGarden "silk" plants on weighted resin bases. Patricia
<Mmm... IF you have interest, I'd place a pad of the product "PolyFilter" in this system, best in the filter flow path... to detect colour... indicative of a few types of (metal) poisoning... To see if there's an easily detected source/type here. BobF>
Re: More re: Unexplained angelfish death (Bob, any better explanations?) -- 3/8/11

Hi, Bob,
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I was finally able to locate the poly-filter. After 2 days in the tank, it's turned the color of very dark tannin-stained water. There is a large piece of driftwood in there,
but the water itself doesn't look tannin-stained. Thank you for your suggestion, I didn't know about this product. Patricia M
<Mmm, do look about for a local fish shop that does water testing... ask them to check for free Iron in your water. BobF>
Re: More re: Unexplained angelfish death (Bob, any better explanations?) 5/2/11

Hi, Bob
I found a fish store that tests for free iron. He was out of the reagent, but told me the test is usually performed just for nutrient level for planted tanks. He said it really wasn't necessary in my case because unexplained angelfish death is always due to parasitic infection.
<Mmm, not in my experience, no. Most I've encountered have been largely due to water quality issues; secondarily psycho-social>
He then suggested I try dwarf gouramis
<!? Colisa lalia have dismal survival histories these last decades.>
and I bought 3 after being assured that they have never had a problem with Iridovirus.
<...? How could such an assertion be made?>
That was 4 weeks ago and one of the fish already has signs of the disease (hanging at the top, not eating, slight bulges on both sides of body). I should have known better because I was aware of this problem. Thanks for all of your help, Patricia
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm
and the three other Dwarf Gourami Disease FAQs files linked above. See any pattern here? Bob Fenner>
Re: More re: Unexplained angelfish death (Bob, any better explanations?) 5/2/2011

<<As Bob suggests, Angelfish mortality is primarily driven by poor environmental conditions and the wrong tankmates. They aren't especially prone to disease, though Finrot, Fungus and Hexamita do all occur if the environment is inadequate. Very small Angels (with bodies about US quarter size) ship poorly, and it's best to pass them over in favour of fairly well grown specimens around the 2-3 inch mark. Some varieties of Angelfish are more delicate than others. If you can, stick with wild-type Angels, Marble
Angels, or Golden Angels; avoid Koi Angels, Albino and Black Angels in particular. As for Dwarf Gouramis, I wouldn't bother with 'em unless locally bred (i.e., you know the breeder, e.g., through a fish club).
Colisa fasciata and Colisa labiosa are widely traded and infinitely more robust. They're a trifle bigger and more pushy, and their colours aren't quite so sharply defined, but at least they're decent, reliable fish.
Cheers, Neale.>><Thank you Neale. B>
Re: More re: Unexplained angelfish death (Bob, any better explanations?) 5/6/11

I had read that article on dwarf Gourami disease, but let my desire to stock this "problem tank" get in the way of better judgment. If the two remaining gouramis don't make it, I'm not sure what to do with this tank.
<Many possibilities...>
The water quality is good, the Corys are happy as clams, but the tank looks empty, has limited surface area and lacks horizontal swimming space for even small schooling fish.
<A 37 gal. tall? There's still a bunch of choices! Look at the larger sized Gouramis, the small to mid-sized barbs, Rasboras, Danios... smaller Rainbows... BobF>

Angel fish problem - 10/21/10
I have a large solid black angel fish that I have raised for years. About 6 months ago he got a small cloudy translucent whitish patch on his side that you could only see at certain angles. The edges of it would get a little stringy and shed, and it would look somewhat better, until it enlarged and happened again. There are no bloody edges or eroded blood streaked areas like I have read about with cotton wool disease or fungus. I tried an antibiotic, and an antifungal that managed to ruin the levels in my tank and kill several other fish. It was so long ago I don't remember what I tried, but I got my tank straightened out and vowed not to medicate again. This skin problem does not appear in any way to bother him, which is why I have been trying to ignore it. No scratching or flashing, no hiding, he is eating very well and acting very normal. No other fish in the tank have become infected either, but the patch keeps getting larger, and is now on both sides. His fins are fine and not frayed, gills are fine, mouth is fine and no cotton tufts anywhere. All the tank levels are great, and the tank is really clean. This is a 75 gallon tank with another large angel, 8 mixed tetras, 2 large clown loaches, a few cats, and 2 gouramis. I have a Fluval 404 filter.
Please help if you can. I have spent hours and hours on the web and still can't figure it out, but he's lived with this for at least 6 months now.
Thanks so much
<Hello Anne. There are two possible things going on here, maybe three. The first is simple genetic variation. All-black Angelfish have historically been among the most difficult to produce and the most difficult to breed consistently. It's very likely yours simply has variation in the amount of melanin deposited in those scales on its flanks, and consequently you're seeing a lighter patch. The second possibility is physical damage.
Sometimes physical damage can cause replacement skin or scales to look different to how they looked before, in just the same way as scar tissue on humans isn't always the same colour or texture as the rest of our skin.
Sometimes nerve damage can cause a similar phenomenon, since fish "think" themselves certain colours and so things like mini-strokes or simple trauma can cause odd patches of lightness or darkness. In either case there's nothing to worry about and nothing you can do. If the fish has remained in good health for months, and the discoloured patch is neither expanding nor infected, I wouldn't be too concerned. The third, outside possibility is mucus-grazing by one of the fish. Angelfish and indeed other slow-moving, flat-sided fish are sometimes attacked by Suckermouth catfish, most commonly Otocinclus, but occasionally common Plecs (Pterygoplichthys spp.).
They latch onto the fish, eat some mucous, and then swim away. The resulting damage ranges from mere irritation through to open wounds, and there certainly is a very real risk of infection should the scales
themselves get damaged. I've never heard of Ancistrus or Panaque species doing this, which is why I prefer these species in community tanks. You don't say what catfish you've got, but if you have a common Plec or some Otocinclus, they're definitely not fish I'd keep with Angels. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

my angel fish is not swimming properly, please help - 10/09/10
Hi there I have got 2 angel fish and have had them for couple of days now.
They were both happy and now one of them is not swimming right its like it has no balance and is sitting at the bottom of my tank the only thing that I can see that may be wrong is the tail fins have been nipped at, it is still moving its side fins but not moving around the tank, as I said its just at the bottom. Is there anything I can do to save it I don't want it to die and my 2 guppies have taken an interest in it.
Please reply soon as I don't know what to do.
many thanks
<Hello Naomi. I need a good deal more information than this to explain what might be going wrong! So let's review. Angels are sensitive fish, and if given the wrong conditions will quickly become sick. Angelfish need at least 20 gallons of aquarium space. Angels tend to be social when young, but aggressive when older. Remember, pairs defend territories, and two males in a small tank will fight, and the bigger one will bully the weaker.
I wouldn't keep two males in anything less than 40 gallons. Unfortunately, sexing Angels is virtually impossible, so luck comes into it. Water quality must be excellent: 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, and that means the tank must have a good filter and that filter has to be mature, at least 6 weeks old.
Nitrate levels should be low, under 50 mg/l, and preferably below 20 mg/l.
Now, while Angels prefer acidic conditions, that isn't crucial with farmed Angels. But what does matter is that pH is stable. Water hardness should be soft to moderate, 5-20 degrees dH is fine for farmed Angels. Don't be adding random pH potions though! Just test the pH of your tap water, and make sure the pH doesn't change too much between water changes. Most problems with Angels either come down to unstable/wrong environmental conditions or aggression. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: angel fish w/possible dropsy symptoms 5/12/10
What exactly does high alkalinity cause?
<... Please see WWM re>
The strips I have don't give me a number, just colors. My water is reading at the farthest/darkest one on the strip.
I need to do a water change, but I'm afraid that will stress her out. What do you think?
Thank you so much for your quick replies...
<Your message does not make sense to me... sorry. B>
Re angel fish w/possible dropsy symptoms 5/13/10

My water testing strips read "very alkaline"...literally. You asked me in my first email "how alkaline?"
<Please see WWM re test strips... neither accurate nor precise... "Very" is not "very" useful>
Will a water change not be good for my sick angel fish at this time (it's been 3 weeks)?
<... and see WWM re water changes... likely IS a good idea... IF this system is cycled, stable>
I am not a pro at this. I just was wondering if changing the water/vacuuming the rocks will stress her? I don't know how else to ask this...
<You need to read, to have a fuller understanding... your consciousness is not full enough to ask such hit/miss questions. B>
Re: angel fish w/possible dropsy symptoms 5/11/10

Thanks...so you think I should probably put her to rest? Or get the medicine?
<I don't like to "give up" easily... I would try the possibilities gone over on WWM. BobF>
Re: angel fish w/possible dropsy symptoms 5/13/10

I apologize for not having the knowledge you hold. I have been reading, but unfortunately I do not have the time to devote my life to my aquarium.
<You don't have to devote anything like as much time. You're missing the point Bob was making. The important thing is to buy one good book up front, read it, understand it, and apply what you've learned. Basic freshwater fishkeeping is actually very easy if you "go by the numbers" and do things step by step.>
Too many different opinions about everything in the aq. world.
<Really, there isn't. Again, the problem is reliance on the Internet rather than books. The Internet is filled with good information, but hidden under mountains of garbage. A good book will be written and edited by experts who've kept fish for decades. Maintenance of Angelfish is really very straightforward. A 30 gallon tank; 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite; temperature around 25-28 C; moderate water current; soft to slightly hard, acidic to slightly basic water, i.e., 5-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5. If you don't understand these things, then learn; if you don't have the tools to measure them, buy them. Problems come when people keep them with nippy fish, in tanks that are too small, and in new tanks that haven't been properly cycled. Like all cichlids, they're sensitive to nitrate and oxygen-poor water; keep nitrate levels below 20 mg/l and ensure water circulation is around 4-6 times the volume of the tank per hour, and that the tank isn't overstocked.>
Thanks for your "help"...I will not bother you again...
<Dropsy is almost always inflicted on fish by careless fishkeeping. End of discussion. Every time I've seen a fish with dropsy, it's been maintained in a tank that was overstocked, or water changes weren't frequent, or nitrate levels were high, or diet was monotonous. Bob and I have different opinions on treating dropsy, my experience being that it's almost impossible to cure once small fish like Angels exhibit the problem. So I tend to recommend painless destruction of the afflicted fish.
It's important not to "write off" the experience though, and make sure you have identified why the fish got sick. Be under no illusions here: you did, somehow, cause the dropsy. We all do, whenever we have a fish with this syndrome. It isn't a "disease" but a symptom, and doesn't sneak in at night to get your fish! It's a sign of organ failure caused by some chronic stress on the fish, perhaps mediated through a bacterial infection of some sort. So something YOU did caused this. Before you buy another fish, try to figure out why. From there, you'll learn, grow, and become a better fishkeeper. Cheers, Neale.>

Angelfish with gill issue in QT (Bob, any other ideas?)<Zip> 5/8/10
I have an angelfish that's been in quarantine for some weeks now.
When I picked him out at the store, I thought I was very thorough in inspection until a day or so after I got him home. But, he has one gill that sticks out way farther than the other. Not sure how I missed that, but you really see it when looking at him dead on to compare his two sides.
Closer look, a thin white translucent membrane over the opening.
<Have seen this with cichlids from time to time. Have assumed its usually necrotic tissue following Ick, Velvet or similar infection -- these parasites to serious damage to gill lamellae. But may also be Dactylogyrus or some other macro gill parasite.>My thoughts were, he has a gill issue, the white membrane is mucus. I had half the mind to take him back, but the receipt is MIA. And well, I do like him, as I had picked him in the first place.
I thought, this could be
-Gill parasites (flukes, mites)
<Not sure fish get "mites", but various worm-type things, yes.>
-Gill infection (bacterial)
<Following some type of tissue damage, e.g., from Velvet, always a risk.>
-Gill disease (I'm unsure about fungus and gill ailments).
<As with bacteria, secondary to physical damage, then yes, possible.>
This poor guy, has been treated with salt dips to no end, jungle parasite guard couple times, Maracyn 2 powder, salt bath, antibiotic flakes (Which he wont really eat anyway unless he's desperate) with absolutely NO change whatsoever.
<I see.>
I chose the jungle PG for its reviews on various forums and posts of positive experiences from others, and Maracyn (fungus/bacteria) for its reputation and previous experiences of my own. Salt dips/bath to combat parasites.
<Broadly, I'd treat as per Dactylogyrus/Gyrodactylus initially, since that's the most infectious. After that, the other problems are more likely secondary to something else, and not contagious as such. So if you can eliminate the possibility of Dactylogyrus, Gyrodactylus "gill flukes" and similar, you will be freer to return this fish to a community setting.>
Oddly, he doesn't seem to care much about his gill condition. Outside of spitting all his food of various kinds except bloodworms, he generally acts... normal.
<Bloodworms aren't especially nutritious, so I would try to broaden this.
Angels are carnivores, and enjoy small pieces of white fish fillet and seafood, and a good quality cichlid pellet like Hikari Micro pellets should be taken readily.
Yes contradictory statement, but he sure doesn't seem a 'sickly' fish.
Quarantine tank is also a 10g (he is not an adult angel, call it medium, few inches) so treatments are pretty potent. TBH he seems more miserable about what I'm doing than the darn ailment itself.
<Likely so, but (domesticated) Angels are very resilient, so I wouldn't worry overly much.>
At this point I'm starting to feel like I'm just torturing this fish. Not just because of all I put him through, but he's in a 10g for weeks which is really unfair all around. But I don't want to release him from quarantine if he's unsafe for the others.
<As I say, gill flukes are the most contagious parasites, and the ones to eliminate. Bacterial/fungal infections will be secondary, and no more contagious than Finrot, i.e., not at all if the other fish are healthy.>
I also wonder if there's even something wrong or if his gill is just 'that way'. Would seem unlikely to me, but could it be the case?
<I'm sure it can happen.>
I've read about gill parasites being unusually difficult to get rid of, because they are somewhat protected within the gill and shielded by mucus, but even knowing that its starting to seem like 'unreasonable levels' of difficulty.
<There are particular medications for these gill flukes, which in some cases will need to be accessed via a vet.>
I'm going to speculate, that either
1. There's nothing wrong with him (unlikely)
2. My diagnosis is wrong (damn it Jim, I'm a scientist not a doctor!)
3. My choice of medicine sucks
<Do check it's appropriate, and being used correctly, e.g., with regard to water temperature, carbon.>
4. He's had it long enough, at this point its really badly established For his sake and mine I'm a little desperate for resolve. Any advice or comments?
<Under good conditions gill flukes are more an irritant than a source of mortality, though they can carry viruses between fish, and in poor conditions blood loss may be a significant stress, cause of mortality. So while Gyrodactylus and Dactylogyrus are alarming and need to be dealt with, there's no need to panic. Commercial and veterinarian treatments exist.>
Thanks again, you are great peoples.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with gill issue in QT 5/23/10

Good morning Neale.
<Hello again,>
Another update.
The angel in QT is doing better. Raised the salinity for the past two weeks, raised the temperature a little and added.... copper. Big improvements.
He's eating like a champ and he's very active now. Gets very excited when I come into the kitchen. The way he reacts to feeding time, you would think I never feed him at all. This last week, he ate any type of food I gave
him. This is a good thing.
Now I observe something very strange.
Most all my angels, and many other of my fish, burp up an air bubble after gulping food off the surface. However, THIS fish blows the air bubbles out his puffed up protruding gill. The side that has the issue we previously discussed. If this is 'natural' I've never seen it. But he does it every time he eats, he'll blow a few bubbles through it after each gulp.
<Might just be a result of physical damage from the infection. I wouldn't be too concerned.>
I'm not really alarmed about it, though this is very odd. And perhaps an indication of just what's wrong with that gill.
<Indeed. So long as he's eating, fattening up and growing, I wouldn't worry. Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery Angelfish death 4/21/10
My one blushing angelfish's forehead tuned the color of an off avocado a while back but he never seemed sick, no clamped fin or discoloration of the gills, he had a very good appetite, even last night. When I fed them this morning, I realized that he wasn't there. I found him at the back of the plants, hiding with almost no life in him and his forehead was almost black. He wasn't stuck in the plants. What caused this?
<My best guess, given no other information (water quality, system, tankmates...) is mechanical injury>
I've been doing regular water changes and giving them a healthy, varied diet. The other fish are fine, including another angel, neon tetras, swordtails, sunset platys, corries and a Pleco. Water temp is at 27C
Kind Regards
Ruan Smit
<When in doubt, refer... Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

FW angelfish in distress -- 01/17/10
My breeding male golden angel suddenly started gasping for air at the of the tank. This went on for about 4 days and I dropped in 2 extra bubblers to produce more oxygen. I found him finally at the bottom of the tank between a piece of slate and the tank wall. (it is a 55 gallon tank with just his female mate and a couple of lemon tetras, one large clown loach and an African butterfly fish). All the other fish seem healthy. This fish stayed behind the slate for a couple of days when I decided to isolate him in a smaller tank, bump up the heat a little and give him lots of aeration.
<Good moves>
He is still lying on the bottom of this tank, not looking too happy. Hasn't eaten in days. I know it's probably something to do with his swim bladder
but I just don't know what to do for him next. He's a pretty hardy guy and survived a very bad injury about a year and half ago, but he has bred many times since and has healed and been in perfect health until now. Any suggestions, it's hard to watch him suffer.
<It is odd that the other angel is not mal-affected by "whatever" the root cause is here; if it were some sort of biological disease... I would just continue as you have, with the improved conditions, and hope for the best.
Bob Fenner>

Sick angel fish -- 06/10/09
Hi there, I have a beautiful female Koi angel that I have had for a couple of years. There is also another female in the tank. They lay eggs quite frequently but have taken to caring for them together and are not that antagonistic as you would expect. About a week ago I noticed a small hole above one eye, I thought immediately hole in head or perhaps it cut itself on one of the rocks I have in the tank. I treated the water with EM for a few days and the hole seemed to close up, leaving a white area that looked like healing skin.
<"EM" being Erythromycin? This doesn't really help Hole-in-the-head any; you specifically need Metronidazole at 250 mg per 10 US gallons, once per day for at least three days. Erythromycin may well inhibit secondary infections, which can lessen the symptoms to some degree, but it won't fix the problem.>
Over the weekend, things must have gone south as I discovered on Monday that that area was now full of hair-like fibers, like an eruption of some sort. I did some checking and calling around and was told that the fish may have developed a fungus and that I could treat it with Pimafix.
<Pimafix, Melafix, and other so-called "cures" based on tea-tree oil are notoriously unreliable. For Fungal infections organic dyes, such as malachite green, work very well. Combinations of formalin and malachite
green are especially useful because they work against Finrot and Columnaris ("mouth fungus") as well, eliminating the problem of telling these apart from Fungus, which can be difficult. Other medications such as Seachem Paraguard are formulated specifically to handle both bacterial and fungal infections, and these can be well worth using, too.>
Well, four days into the mission, the fish looks worse, the fungus hasn't gotten any better (it looks worse actually), and I have noticed several additional areas where that fungus is beginning to grow...I want to help
the fish if I can, or if not, put it out of it's misery.
<Do read here:
It hasn't eaten in a week or more and is at the top seemingly gasping for air. It does swim around however..but this seems to be going nowhere. Am I doing something wrong or is this just what happens sometimes? Thanks,
<Quite possibly you're using the wrong medications. Do switch to the right ones, and see what happens. I personally would also do a dip into seawater once, maybe the next day too, until the Fungus clears up. This is just 35 grammes of non-iodised salt added to a litre of aquarium water; dip the fish for at least 30 seconds and potentially several minutes, though removing the fish as soon as it shows signs of distress, such as rolling
over. The seawater dehydrates the fungal cells, speeding up their death.
It's much the same as gargling salt water when you have a mouth ulcer.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick angel fish -- 06/10/09

thanks, I just ordered the Paraguard, will have it by 4:oo tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully it isn't too late.
<Finger's crossed!>
I'll also try the saltwater dip first, then add the Paraguard to the tank.
It is a 29 high with other fish and invertebrates in there, the Paraguard won't hurt them or the tank will it? the tank has some live plants too, I don't have an air stone, just a charcoal and floss filter (I took the charcoal out during treatment).
The plants have always seemed to provide all of the O2 that the fish needed, and none of the other fish are struggling to breathe, just the one with the fungus. I do a 30% change about every 3-4 weeks, I know that I
overfeed a little but so far that has not been a big issue with frequent cleaning and vacuuming. I do have a lot of green hair type algae on many of the plant leaves....haven't been able to deal with this, but it is more
of a visual issue than anything else.
<It is actually green algae (i.e., bright green, like a salad) or red algae (which, despite the name, is usually blue-black to dark moss green in freshwater species)? I ask because the bushy, hairy algae you often get
around the edges of plant leaves, for example, is red algae, and it is notoriously difficult to deal with. Green algae only prospers in tanks with very strong light levels, and if you have very strong light (at least 2 watts per gallon), the algae is best, and frankly only reliably, dealt with by using fast-growing plants and a few, carefully chosen algae-eating organisms, shrimps and Nerite snails being the ideal. Red algae is difficult to deal with. The Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus siamensis, is one of the few common fish that feeds on this algae, though again, fast-growing plants will dramatically improve things if you have very strong lighting. Red algae is usually a nuisance in tanks with poor lighting, insufficient water circulation, and high nitrate levels (typically because of overstocking and/or overfeeding). So review conditions, and act accordingly.>
I just mention it in case it is indicative of another water condition that might be contributory to the fish fungus. Thanks again! Mike.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick angel fish 6/11/09

On the Algae, I have had the Red Algae for some time now. I have tried keeping the tank extra clean with vacuuming and water changes, but the light is weak (I just haven't coughed up the $ for a better hood), I have only the filter that sucks up the tank water and filters it through the carbon and floss cartridge for circulation the circulation seems to be ok, but perhaps it isn't.
<While it seems paradoxical, low light levels are invariably behind serious algae problems. Tanks with bright lights generally don't have algae problems because plants grow too quickly, and somehow (the science is hazy) this stops algae from developing. While I can't really explain why this works, I can confirm that it does. Upping the light, and then adding appropriate fast-growing plant species, will usually do away with algae once and for all, particularly in conjunction with Nerite snails and algae-eating shrimps.>
I bought a Siamese algae eater but he got lazy and waits for the frozen brine shrimp that I feed the other fish. He goes vertical and eats them as fast as he can....
I did get what looked like a bright green slime growth about a month ago and that is when I treated the tank with EM, that knocked it out pretty quickly.
<Again, blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) is associated with specific things, usually poor water circulation and high levels of nitrate and/or phosphate. You'll often see blue-green algae growing first where the water flow is weakest: around the leaves or roots of plants for example, or on the substrate. Increasing water flow and reducing the amount of nitrate (via water changes) usually turns prevents blue-green algae from becoming established. Erythromycin will certainly kill many types of blue-green algae (which are of course bacteria, not algae) but there's nothing to stop them coming back again, should conditions suit. And they WILL come back.>
I would love to eradicate the red hairy stuff though (it is very dark, almost black as you say), it seems to choke out the plants that are there and grows on everything.
<Hair algae is a great nuisance, but nothing really slows it down once it's established under conditions it likes. Lighting, plants, and the right snails/shrimps are what you need.>
I feed the fish Mon-Fri with frozen brine and also frozen blood worms. I have a 29 high and there are far less than 29" of total fish in there.
Two angels
Two Cory cats
8 Neons
2 barbs
1 Siamese
1 African frog
1 ghost shrimp
2 Otocinclus (sp?)
2 other small tetras
Should I consider a better hood with more light?
<If you wish to deal with the red algae, yes, since this is the only way the right plants will get established.>
Should I add an air stone for circulation?
<Blue-green algae likes slow water movement, so anything that speeds up the flow of water around the tank will help. Airstones generally have minimal impact, so are a bit of a waste of money, but they're better than nothing I suppose. Usually an additional filter, coupled with more water changes and less feeding, is the way forward.>
I will be getting the Paraguard at 4:00 today. I'll probably treat with that for a few days then try the salt water bath.
Thanks again, Mike.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick angel fish 6/11/09

Just did the salt bath (I took a 33 oz plastic coffee container, rinsed it, filled it with tank water and added about 3 plastic coffee spoons of tank salt. Put the angel in the container, counted to 125 and put him back in
the tank) and added the Paraguard to the tank. We shall see....
<Indeed. For reference, a level teaspoon is roughly 6 grammes of salt, so a shade under 6 level teaspoons should give you 35 grammes of salt, and added to 1 litre of water, that's normal seawater salinity. It's easier for me to do in metric I'm afraid, since that's how you learn these things at marine biology school. But I think it's also pretty convenient. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick angel fish 6/11/09

How often should I do the salt water dips? Once a day?
<Once a day is fine, but often just one dip is enough, and so I'd hold off doing additional dips for the time being. See how the medication does. Only occasionally do I find a second dip a few days later is required, and usually only to help shift some of the dead skin and mucous. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick angel fish 6/12/09
Hi again, I did another salt dip this morning as I realized that the initial dip salt concentration was not high enough. This one clearly did something as the fish clearly reached a point of stress (yesterday he just swam around for two minutes, today he rolled onto his side).
<A good time to remove the fish!>
Much of the fungus came away from netting him twice and what is left seems to be hanging on by a thread. Hopefully it comes off over the weekend.
<Should do; what you describe is very typical of how fungus reacts to saltwater dipping.>
Now that I can see the damage underneath the fungus growth, there is a wound there that looks kind of nasty and he eye is bugged out pretty good too, it actually looks like she might lose that eye it is so bad.
<Yes, I see. I'm actually hopeful the eye won't be too badly affected.>
I will treat the water in the tank Saturday and Sunday with the Paraguard (this tank is at my work office so I have to come in to take care of it) and see how he is coming along Monday. (I keep saying he, but I am pretty sure that it is a she).
<They're actually impossible to sex except when spawning. If it's any consolation, Angelfish aren't very good at sexing each other either, and "homosexual" pairs are quite common, evidenced most often by two females each laying eggs together on the same leaf!>
At what point to I call it and put her under? She still hasn't eaten in days, over a week now actually, but is still feisty enough to evade my attempts to net her. Thanks again, you've been a fantastic help.
<I suspect he'll be fine, so lay off thoughts of euthanasia just yet. Your fish actually doesn't look all that bad; I've seen much worse!>
Ps, I took a few pix. They aren't great but perhaps you can see what I am taking about. You can also see my red algae...
<Yes, classic sign of inadequate lighting, and the plants chosen being species that need strong light, so end up doing nothing much other than cultivating a nice fluffy algae coat!>
the wound looks black in the middle, quite a hole in her head really...I feel terrible about it, I hope that she isn't in too much pain.
<Do be aware of something called Hole-in-the-Head, which is not uncommon among cichlids. This requires a drug called Metronidazole.
Again, I think you'll be okay, if you can shift this fungus (which should be gone in a few weeks) and if she looks more perky by then, have a look to see if the wound is a single wound, or one of a number of small pits, which is usually how Hole-in-the-Head appears. Often, Hole-in-the-Head goes along
with long strings of pale (mucous-rich) faeces, since the Protozoans (Hexamita) responsible start off in the gut and then move around the body.
Almost always, the trigger is a water quality problem, and in the case of cichlids, nitrate is one factor often overlooked. If you skip water changes for too many weeks, Hexamita goes from being harmless to very dangerous very rapidly. Some have suggests Hexamita is present in all farmed cichlids, and certainly my experience has been that a great many cichlid species do succumb to Hexamita/Hole-in-the-Head infections when exposed to high levels of nitrate, poor diet, and/or inadequate oxygenation. Cheers, Neale.>

FW Angelfish Fast Erratic Swimming Then Falling to Bottom -- 2/21/09 Hi Wet Webber, You guys/gals are a very dedicated bunch and I appreciate your help. <Happy to help.> I read through the 3 links and saw an article that was somewhat similar but not exactly, and I've seen a few postings online with similar symptoms but no real solution, internal parasite, bacterial infection, bad water, lead poisoning (I'm from Brooklyn NY and the house was built 1920 so it is possible but I think unlikely, tap water is 30-40ppm TDS) etc. so hopefully you can help. No offense, but I hope there comes a day where I no longer have to visit your site to figure out what is wrong. <Heh!> The tank is a 55 gallon, PH = 6.4, Ammonia = 0, Nitrate = 0, Temp = 83/84 I have 4 Discus about 3", 6 Neons, 1 Julli Cory, 2 green Cory and 1 angel about 4" body <All sound nice. But the water is on the warm side for Corydoras and Neons, and mixing Angelfish with Discus isn't recommended, so you may be storing up problems here for the future. Also, Angelfish view Neons as live food.> The Angel is a silver and black I bought it when it was about 1.5" in Feb. of 2007. I got it with a black angel that was smaller. They were in a 30 gallon and they paired up and three months later there was a sale on tanks so I said why not and upgraded to a 55 gallon. Then a month later I started seeing mating habits so I separated them into a 10 gallon and they bred and none of the fry survived beyond a few months. Very sad. <Farmed Angelfish are appallingly bad parents, and almost always you have to pull the eggs and rear them yourself.> So I put them back into the 55 gallon. A couple of months later I noticed the black angelfish out of nowhere would act startled and swim erratically into things and then sink to the bottom and then wake-up and start acting normal. This went on for about once or twice a day for a month until it didn't swim back up, very sad again. So I figured it was a water problem so I stepped up the water changes. I bought a 20 gallon Rubbermaid to age the water and instead of changing 7 gallons a week I upped to 15 a week. I was using an automatic feeder that dumped too much food so at one point I had a Planaria problem and still see some but not a whole bunch like before. I went to LFS to get a new angelfish and he said this current batch wasn't so great but there was 1 that looked decent so I bought another angelfish and had put in quarantine, it didn't last a week where it did the swimming erratic and twirled around fell to the bottom and then swam back up. But it only did that a few time until it stopped. I chalked that up to the bad batch. <Don't recommend automatic feeders for precisely this reason. Fish tolerate starvation much, much better than they do the ruinous water quality caused by overfeeding.> But now I'm seeing that with the black and silver angelfish. I have an emperor filter on the left side of the tank and the discus and angel hang out on the right side because they don't like the current, the tetras and Corys hang out on the left side. I have heaters on both ends. I added 2 Neons that were in quarantine for a month that way they got big enough so the angelfish wouldn't eat them. But then I started noticing the angelfish hanging around the left side of the tank. When there were 4 Neons he stood on the right side and only swam to the left side occasionally. I don't see the discus messing with the angel, the 4 discus are always chasing each other around. I figured the angelfish was just stalking the 2 new Neons. But for a week I did a head count and there would always be 6 Neons (4 out in the open, 2 hid) so I figured alls well. <Hmm... matter of time...> But the other day I noticed the angelfish was hiding near the bottom the tank almost under a rock, but I figured it was stalking because I spend a lot of time near the tank and I didn't hear the water splashing which is the sound the angelfish makes when they start swimming erratically, its always a fast thrashing like they got startled and suddenly out of the blue or when they get excited about something like feeding time. <Cichlids will go "loopy" when exposed to sudden changes, so when you see this sort of behaviour, it's always well to check for possible temperature, water quality, or poisoning issues.> Today I noticed the angelfish on the left side of the tank and it came over to the right side to eat and noticed scratches all over and I figured either it was swimming behind the intake tube of the emperor because it doesn't really fit or it's doing that fast swimming crash and dive of death. I sat in a chair about 5 feet away usually when I sit in that chair the discus and angel follow me to that side. So I just watched and saw it happen. I also see the angel hiding behind this small piece of driftwood, which it never did before and I see it hide behind the plants on the left side of the tank but he never hides for long only few minutes but I see him hanging out near the bottom and the angel never went to the bottom just to eat but always swims up near the surface. <Not normal.> Since the summer the tank has had a green water problem so I've been changing water about twice a week whenever I can sometimes 3 but always at least once a week and I always put water conditioner. The water finally cleared up this week when I put a 50 micron filter pad but the water parameters were always in line. I kept the lights off most of the time, blinds drawn and lights were on only 1 to 2 hours at most. I didn't over feed because I try to keep the Planaria in check. <Hmm...> I'm sorry for writing this novel but this is my oldest fish and I really don't want to see it go. And from the history of this tank and my foray into this hobby I see the writing on the wall. I'm hoping to give you all the pertinent details so that you may have a solution for me .but I'm pretty much bracing myself for the bad news and I am hoping that it is not something contagious because if the discus dies that would crush me, those guys are too expensive to replace and times are tough. <Can't say that it's obvious to me what's wrong with this fish. Angels should live for around 8-10 years. But the quality of much farmed stock is variable, and you may be dealing with a specific genetic issue about which you can't do anything. But other things you might consider include constipation and aggression. Constipation is common in Angelfish because they tend to be fed flake and pellet foods only. Make sure a significant part of their diet includes things like cooked peas, live brine shrimp and live daphnia. These have a laxative effect and can help fix so-called "swim bladder disease".> Thanks for taking the time to help me. Steve <Cheers, Neale.>

Stripey angel fish with a white pussy looking spot on it's head 9/11/08
Hi, I need some help if you can please! Im not very up on my fish - I have 4 angels, all about 2 years old, an upside-down catfish, a red tail shark fish, an arched cat fish, 2 cardinals and a fairly aggressive bright yellow Pleco. Over the last few days we saw 3 small white pimple looking spots along the stripey angels back, but 2 cleared up leaving on which went pussy - oozing white gunk. Now it looks like its a spot as it's fairly raised - covered in scales but still oozing. I don't know if it's a boy or girl, but I think it's a boy. IT's still eating like normal, follows me up and down the tank, no change at all in his personality. What should we do? None of the others have got any spots or anything.
Thanks Josie
<Hello Josie. Your description is a bit unclear (from my perspective) and a photo would help enormously. White pimples are usually Whitespot (also known as Ick) and can be likened in appearance to salt shaken over the fish. But these are not normally associated with pus or damage to the scales. When fish -- particularly cichlids (which is what Angels are) -- get pits that are dug into the body, exposing flesh and pus, that's something else. With cichlids the culprit is usually the protozoan parasite Hexamita. This parasite is almost always triggered into causing harm by two things: poor diet and poor environmental conditions. I think we can discount diet because Angels are easily maintained on flake and pellets. Diet is usually a problem with herbivorous fish that aren't given enough green foods. But water quality remains a possibility. Cichlids are notoriously sensitive to Nitrate, so even if the water quality seems good in terms of Ammonia and Nitrite, if the Nitrate is consistently above 50 mg/l, cichlids will get sick. Often the Hexamita manifests itself in two distinct ways: pits on the face and body, and copious white or transparent faeces. Treating Hexamita requires the drug Metronidazole (Flagyl); see here:
Because Hexamita is a pain to treat, it's best avoided by doing lots of water changes and not overstocking aquaria. These two things keep nitrate levels low.
Cheers, Neale.>

Angelfish listless, stares and won't eat 5/29/08 Hi folks. I recently bought 4 medium sized angelfish from a highly reputable LFS. Put them in a 125 gallon tank. One of them disappeared within 2 days and showed up dead about a week later. Two of them are fine and doing great. The final one stays in the back of the tank near the filter and just stares at the glass all day. He will not eat, even if the food comes right near him. Every now and them he'll venture away from the filter, but not go far, and then come back. Otherwise, he looks in generally good health...no spots, slime, etc... No idea what to do with him, but please see the following for an interesting side note... <Angelfish, and indeed cichlids generally, are sensitive to water conditions, and one of the first things that happens when they become sick is their appetite drops. Nitrate for example is relatively harmless to most community fish, but cichlids become distinctly stressed by levels as "low" as 50 mg/l, and in most cases 20 mg/l should be considered the maximum safe concentration. Nitrate provokes a variety of sicknesses, but Hexamita infections are particularly common. Alongside loss of appetite, Hexamita infections often cause changes in colouration, listlessness, stringy faeces, and eventually death. Odd blisters ("holes in the head") are also commonly associated with this disease and/or high nitrate concentrations.> About three months ago, I bought another three angels from the same store. Two are fine. The third also started staring off into space, and eventually got what "looked like" ich and some slime on his body. I quarantined him and tried various medications (fungus, parasite, ich out, etc), but nothing worked. After a couple of weeks, he eventually died. <This could easily be Hexamita or some other bacterial/protozoan infection.> I have been reading something about a new angel disease called "Siamese Angelfish Disease" with symptoms similar to what I am seeing. <Never heard of this, I'm afraid.> Can you tell me what's going on here, and what I might do for this new Angel before he progresses to the point of the dead one? <Do review water conditions, particularly nitrite and nitrate. Also try the obvious thing: change the food. Not all fish like flake, and most of mine ignore it. Live foods are risky, but wet frozen foods should be safe. Frozen bloodworms for example are loved by Angelfish. Live brine shrimp are safe of course, but their nutritional value is nil.> Thanks! Larry <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick angel fish -- 03/10/08 Hi. We have a 20 gallon tank, which we set up at the end of November 2007. We have one angel fish, one Botia, one algae eater (not sure of type), two Serpae (sp?) tetras, three painted skirt tetras, five neon tetras, and three Danios. <Serpae Tetras (Hyphessobrycon callistus) and Painted Skirt Tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) are both incompatible with Angelfish -- they are notorious fin nippers. In addition, please do not buy painted fish -- this an incredibly cruel practise where paint is injected into the muscle blocks without anaesthetic. Many fish die in the process, and their immune system is measurably compromised. All vets and animal welfare groups are against it, but the Asian fish farms will keep performing this sadistic process as long as people keep buying them.> The tank is lightly planted, with gravel. We feed the fish in the morning with flakes, some/most evenings with pellets. Once per week we give them bloodworms. We keep the temperature of the tank at 76F-78F. We do monthly water changes (approximately 25 percent). We check pH, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia monthly. <Fine.> About four or five nights ago, we noticed that for the first time ever, the tank was crystal clear - it had usually been a little cloudy. <Sometimes happens. Do a 50% water change, and check the mechanical filter media isn't due for replacement.> We tested the water last night. pH was 6.0, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5. Historically, the pH was at 7.2, and the nitrate was between 5 and 10. We also did the 25 percent water change last night. Water out of the tap is 7.2; we usually let the water sit for at least 24 hours, if not three or four days, before adding it to the tank. <Letting water sit isn't usually necessary. A good dechlorinator does the job in minutes. Also remember NEVER use water from a domestic water softener. It is not acceptable for use in fish tanks (too much sodium).> We are not sure what caused the pH to drop from 7.2 to 6.0. We plan on checking the pH again tonight. <OK.> As for the angel fish... we have had the angel fish for about two months. Two nights ago I noticed that the angel fish was having trouble defecating (long string that would not come out all the way). The next morning (yesterday), I found it on its side near the bottom of the tank. I turned on the light, and it started swimming again. However, I also noticed that its body was slightly bent/curved. <Not good.> All yesterday and today, the angel fish is swimming/floating at a slight angle (maybe 5 to 10 degrees from vertical), sometimes starts swimming in circles (always in the direction it is bent/curved) and is bumping into the glass a lot. Will also go to the top of the tank on occasion, something I never saw before. I have not seen it on its side, or at the bottom, since yesterday morning. The condition of the angel fish does not seem to have gotten worse over the last 24 hours. <Hmm... could be a variety of things. Difficult to say. Toxins like paint fumes and insect sprays can cause things like this, but so can ammonia in the water or sudden changes in pH.> Physically, I do not see anything else wrong with the fish. Stomach does not appear bloated. No change in coloration. Eyes appear normal. Any ideas what might be wrong with the fish? Any ideas what we can do for him? Thanks for any ideas!!! David H. <No firm ideas... not enough data. My main fear will be that the Serpae tetras especially will turn on this fish in its weakened state -- Serpae tetras have a "feeding frenzy" behaviour. I'm also concerned by your mystery "algae eater" -- if this is Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, this is a fish notorious for its bad temper and bad habits. It will, for example, suck on the side of Angelfish and eat their skin! In the meantime, I'd check water chemistry, paying particular attention to whether or not it varies through the day (e.g., do a pH test in the morning and another in the evening). If you can send a photo some time, that would helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Angelfish Die Off, FW comm.    9/27/07 Hello <Hi there> I own a live tropical fish store in Michigan and within the past six months, I have not been able to keep freshwater angelfish alive. Is there a problem that you know of that is causing these poor creatures to perish after 72 to 96 hours of arrival? <Yes... a couple in particular... One, an older plaque of Octomita that was the causative organism of "Angelfish Disease" years back... can/should be treated with treatment of existing systems (with Metronidazole/Flagyl), and strict quarantine and treatment with same for all questionable/Far East imported angels or angels that may have come in contact with... The second syndrome is "just exhaustion/stress" from import... Both situations can/are best remedied by buying your Angels from local, or as local as you can find, breeder/s> My suppliers out west will not ship to anyone via plane because they have had other customers complaining of the same problem. Six months prior, angels were great, healthy, and eating. Now they come in looking healthy but within a couple of days, perish. Could it be the same as with the piranha deal? <Mmm, yes> Thank you! Sincerely, W.L. <Try the Metronidazole... get folks about you to breed/supply you... Bob Fenner>

FW Angelfish With Black Spot  - 3/7/07 Hello, I just found your site and am very impressed.  Thanks so much for providing the service.  I am writing because I am thinking of buying some freshwater angels at an LFS but they have what I think may be black spot disease (it is a commentary on the quality of available freshwater angel stock that I am even considering it...).  The fish appear otherwise extremely healthy.  They eat and are very responsive, but they have black spots that appear to stick out a bit from the skin.  The spots are black/dark brown and maybe half again as big as Ich spots would be.  I have read so many different opinions on your FAQ and in other sources that I wanted to ask you specifically.  There seems to be little agreement on what causes this disease - I have seen suggestions of Paravortex, Turbellaria, the same disease that causes pop-eye, bacterial and viral infections, etc.  The treatments vary widely, as well (Black Spot Control, Jungle Parasite Guard, formalin, etc.).  I just wanted to know what the current thinking on treating this disease is.  The LFS owner is willing to try any treatment and my options for getting good angel stock are extremely limited.  Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide. Mark < If they are wild angelfish then they may have a parasite that cannot be treated. The typical South American Black Spot disease involves a very complex life cycle. The parasites attack the fish and are actually buried into the flesh and go dormant. In this stage they cannot be treated. In nature a bird would eat the fish and the parasites would awake from their dormancy and infect the intestines of the bird. While in the bird, the parasites would lay eggs that would be dispersed by the bird droppings. The eggs would hatch and infect snails or eventually fish to start the cycle all over again. While dormant, they really don't affect the fish. They just look really bad. If your fish are domestic then I would try Clout for parasites and Nitrofurazone for bacterial infections. The Nitrofurazone affects some fungus types too.-Chuck>

911 emergency Please Help!!!! Lots of sick FW Angelfish!! I have been breeding Angelfish for a couple years now, I have 37 aquariums,   <And long and strong arms from water changes... no doubt!> and 2 of them that are full of breeder angels and they are SICK, this is  the first time I have had sick fish in the hatchery. Here are the symptoms, The fish are not as excited to eat, they do not have full control of how they are   swimming. And they are beginning to form a gray/white film on them, they hold   there fins close to there body, and have lost a lot of color. I have only lost  2-3 so far and I really want to get control of this stuff before it kills my  fish. There is about $350 worth of angels in these 2 tanks and they are sick  PLEASE HELP!!! I have been treating them with Life Guard with little success, <Mmm, one of the ingredients here...> so  I am doing a 50% water change right now to get them some fresh water, it is  really weird though because only the angels get it, not the Plecos or Loaches or  anything. What should I do? I really need some help as SOON as possible. THANK YOU SOOO MUCH Clint <I do wish that you (and most all young people on the planet actually) had ready-access to a cheap microscope... to do a simple look/see at the slime, possibly some of the insides (of the dead specimens) here... I suspect either "our old friend/nemesis" Octomita/Hexamita (the causative organism of FW Angel "plague" some years back, and/or flukes... Skipping ahead... I would still look into Ed Noga's "Fish Disease; Diagnosis & Treatment", a QX5 or lower series microscope, some simple staining gear... (a couple hundred dollar investment in all... very worthwhile for what all you have invested here...) and treat (and soon) for both of these... With Metronidazole/Flagyl AND an Anthelminthic... See WWM, Noga... re dosages, methods... NOW. Bob Fenner>

Angelfish With Prolapsed Rectum   12/8/06 Hello--My kids noticed something weird on our angelfish. They said it looks like its "guts are coming out its butt" and they're right. First we thought it was just fish poop, but it looks round (like 'guts') and it's sort of red and white. We have a 'community' tank, 30gal, and have assorted fish in there. We have a weather loach, wide mouth Pleco (its a small one--won't get big), a twig catfish, an albino rainbow shark and a big Pleco. It's probably over crowded, but they all do fine. We've had some of them for years. The large Pleco we acquired recently. When we got it, I was careful not to let any of the water from the pet store into the tank. I'm wondering could we have gotten something bad (disease) in the tank from him? I am not able to separate him because I don't have another tank. I am unable to send a pic of the fish. I have tried but my camera isn't agreeing with me. Do you have any ideas about what it could be? Thanks--Ellen < Two things could be going on. The first is the angelfish eats too much at once. Big meal in, big problem on the other end. Feed your fish once a day and only enough so that all of it is gone in a couple minutes. Keep the water clean and watch for fungus or bacterial infection on the extended intestines. If you fish is not eating then it could be an internal bacterial infection. This should be treated in a separate tank with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace or Clout.-Chuck>

Angelfish dying   7/18/06 Hi Crew, <<Hi, Aaron. Tom>> Recently I have set up a tropical tank. The tank is 23L big and has already be filtered for over 1 week. Just yesterday I have placed 4 angelfishes inside, they are all very small. <<Angelfish won't stay "small", Aaron. Perhaps you already had future plans to upgrade. These fish would need approximately ten times the size aquarium that you placed them in. Size alone isn't the reason for this, though. Angelfish are very sensitive to their water conditions. Only a sufficiently large tank can afford them the "stability" that they require to survive and thrive. Also, these fish need a fully cycled aquarium. One week is not nearly long enough to completely cycle even a 23L aquarium.>> I do not have a clue why they died the next day like in the afternoon, but I'll tell you what happened. <<Okay.>> I tested everything like pH and everything was all good. <<"Good" is too subjective a term when we're trying to help someone, Aaron. If you would, in the future, please provide us with specific readings particularly on ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH levels. These are the "Big Four", so to speak. Anything else you can share will undoubtedly help us even more.>> The 1 problem I think was my filter. My filter is really, really loud. Something is wrong with it, but it works perfectly fine. <<Not being sarcastic but, it doesn't sound like it, Aaron.>> It sounds like this loud vibration sound within the motor or something. But I placed them into the tank in the afternoon. At night, when I was going to sleep, I turned off the filter because it was too noisy. <<I understand but this probably wasn't the best thing to do.>> The next day when I woke up they were all very lively and swimming happily. So I turned on the filter and went to school. When I got back from school, which is around 7 hours later, 2 of them were already nearly dead, getting sucked by the filter. After around 3 more hours the other 2 just started to die as well, falling onto their sides. So, what do you guys think they died from? Was it because of the really loud filter machine? Btw, the filter machine was a Jebo brand. <<Quite a few possibilities here, Aaron...unfortunately. First, the combination of an uncycled tank coupled with the filter being shut down overnight may have led to a dramatic ammonia "spike". (Frankly, the filter being turned off wouldn't have prevented a spike in ammonia but it may have reduced the effect somewhat.) Second, your fish may have been sick when you purchased them though I might have thought this would take a little longer to manifest itself. Third, the vibration in your filter motor may have caused it to overheat excessively, raising the water temperature beyond what your fish could tolerate. In conjunction with this, the constant vibration may have proved too much for them to tolerate, as well. In short, they may have been stressed to death. (Of the three I've noted, I believe the third is the most likely.) I'm also going to surmise that your filter is one of Jebo's "internal" types based on the size of your tank so the fourth possibility I might envision would be an electrical wiring problem at the motor causing both the "vibration" and an excessive amperage draw. This "may" have led to an electric current being introduced into your tank. Could be imperceptible to you and me but deadly to your fish. My recommendations? Throw the filter into the trash or get your money back. Don't purchase any more fish until you research them thoroughly to see what type of environment they - at adult size! - require. Research cycling an aquarium and don't add any fish to one that hasn't been completely cycled. (We all make mistakes. The trick is to avoid duplicating them.) ;)>> Thanks guys <<You're welcome, Aaron. Tom>>

Freshwater Angelfish Finrot    4/9/06 I have 2 angels along with one huge goldfish which should be moving away in a few days (my moms co-worker wants him), <Good... mis-mixed here> 1 Gourami, 4 platys and 2 Corys in a 37 gallon tank. One angelfish's' tail, about 2 weeks after I got him from PetSmart, started to disintegrate. <Likely stress and poor environment in combo. working here> I asked around and someone told me it was Finrot. <A description, like your having a "fever" or "cold" that tells little to nothing re root cause/s> At that point I had him in a quarantine tank because I didn't know what it was. That was about 2 months ago. I did a water change and everything was fine except for nitrate which is still extremely high! His tail did stop disintegrating and it had gotten so bad that you could see part of his back, very close to his tail because everything was gone! It started to grow back and it still is really really slowly! Seriously, I have been waiting for it to get better for 2 months and it has only grown back about maybe 1/2 a centimeter! I know nothing is disturbing him that I can see because my other angelfish was getting it too on his tail, but it stopped soo much faster, But even with him the recovery has been slow, He still has much of a tail and it seems nothing is wrong with him but if you look real close you can see that at the top and the bottom of his tail, he has 2 strings showing how long his tail was. Nothing seems to be happening to either of their tails and I hope they will get better because the one definitely looks terrible without his tail! Is there anything I can do? Marc <Read... on WWM re FW Angel Disease, Systems... Bob Fenner>

Mysterious Death In A Long-Established System - 11/05/2005 Hello to all - I have a question about my freshwater aquarium, but before that, I would like to thank all of you for sharing your knowledge and advice.  <Your kind words are so very appreciated.... Thank you.> I have WWM dailies as my homepage and every morning, before I do anything else (except turn on my aquarium lights and say hello to my buddies, of course) I read through your questions. I have used your search tool many times, rather than asking directly, and I find all the answers I need, and more!  <Ahh, delightful! Would love to know how to make this easier/more obvious to other folks....> I can't seem to find the answer to this mystery though, so please forgive me if I have overlooked.  <No worries.> I am not new to fishkeeping, but everyday there is something more to learn, I know.  <As with everything in life. May I always be ignorant, that I have something to look forward to learning!> I also know, learned from my 30+ years of aquarium keeping experience and confirmed through your advice on WWM, that regular water changes, patience and quarantine will practically guarantee success. I haven't lost a fish in 8 1/2 years until today and I am devastated because I loved my baby. <Oh dear. So sorry to hear this....> Here goes: 125 fully planted tank, magnum canister filter w/ carbon changes every 2 wks, output powering 2 BioWheels, set up for 4 years. 10 gallon water change on Mondays, 5 gallon on Thursdays, just a siphon water change-not a gravel vacuum because the tank is so heavily planted.  <All sounds great so far.> This tank has been running for 5 yrs, set up because my angelfish in the 55 gallon was really tall and I wanted him to have more room. His tankmates were 3 lemon tetras and 1 upside down catfish in the 55g. I regularly change light bulbs for the plants, prune them weekly, feed very sparingly, if at all. I have the 55 still set up with spare plants, thinned from the big tank, and I sell them to pets shops and give them to others. <Excellent!> Only fish in the 55 until recently was small school of zebra Danios to keep it interesting. For some reason, I thought my 5 fish in the 125 g needed friends after 5 years <I admit, your stocking scheme is actually more conservative than my own. Surprising.> and so went to the LFS and bought 6 neon tetras, 5 Cory cats, 3 guppies and 4 Otocinclus cats. These new fish were placed in quarantine in the 55 for almost 7 weeks (patience).  <Patience, indeed!> After the quarantine, and everybody still was in great shape, I transferred the newbies in with the old timers. The big community was all happy for 2 wks, then, horror, my 8 1/2 year old Andy angelfish died. <Devastating.... I am so sorry....> He had just been hovering in the corner for the last 2 days and hadn't been coming up and eating the little pinch of frozen bloodworms from my fingers like he did every morning for the last 8 yrs. Andy was very big-much bigger than the palm of my husband's hand and kind of old, I guess, for a fish.  <Yes.> I don't know what the lifespan of an angelfish is.  <'Bout Andy's age. They can live for a long time, but Andy was a ripe oldster.> I took him out, did an emergency 25% water change, started my search on WWM, and looked over to see my 3 lemon tetras (5 yrs old) hovering in the same corner.  <Hmm.... perhaps coincidence.... and, on the other hand, perhaps not.> They didn't come up to eat even, and they are piglets.  <Disconcerting, to be sure.> Everyone else is having a ball-even the upside down catfish (also 8 1/2 yrs). So, my questions: Was Andy just so stressed out because his world had changed?  <Mm, I do suspect disease.... perhaps viral.... or pathogenic.... My thoughts here: Your five fish had not had anything "new" in some years. No introduction of "normal" pathogens that are ever-present on nearly all fish to some minor degree. This long-established, healthy system may have just been too "healthy".... perhaps the new livestock had something that they brought with them, not in virulent amounts, that transferred to your angel, who was perhaps free of whatever it was for several years. As old as the fellow was, it took him out. This is all just speculation.... but is my first best guess.> Could I have done anything differently?  <No, hon. You could not have foreseen something like this. You did everything perfectly.> Are my lemon tetras traumatized too? What is their lifespan?  <Mm, tetras for the most part are MUCH shorter-lived than fish like angels.... if these guys are 8.5 years old, not only will I be surprised, but I'll be moving into your fish tank in short order, in the hopes of extending my own lifespan.> Should I try to remove them or will that just cause everybody to go nuts?  <If they are exhibiting obvious signs of illness, I would strongly consider removing them to a quarantine system to observe them apart from the other, healthy livestock.> Sorry for the novel, but I am just stumped (and very upset).  <Completely understandable.> Thanks so much. You guys are great.  <As are you.> I need a poster of Bob and Anthony and the whole crew to put up in my fish room. <Hey, now that's not a bad idea! Maybe we should have a "centerfold" Crewmember in the CA online mag, eh? (grin)> Patty <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Mysterious Death In A Long-Established System - II - 11/07/2005 Sabrina- thanks so much for your insight about my fish traumas. Sadly to say, my lemon tetras have passed on. Andy and Flipper (the upside down catfish were and are 8 1/2 years old. The lemon tetras were barely 5 yrs old, their records going back to October, 2000. (I consider the day I bought my fish as their birthday!) <Wow. Some geriatric characins, I think. I'm not so knowledgeable about characins, but I do think that's pretty aged for most smaller tetras....> I had not really considered that these old timers had lived in a "bubble" and thus were not able to fight off normal fish pathogens.  <Again, just a theory.> As I said, I will always be learning.  <As will I/we.> You all have convinced me that saltwater isn't as hard as I had always heard it to be, and I have had a healthy tank going now for over a year. Water changes and even more patience required than freshwater, huh?  <Mm, yeah, pretty much.> I also have a very low stocking scheme in the saltwater half of my fish room, as you advise, and I have never had a problem.  <Ahh, very good!> I don't believe I will be adding any new fish though. I'll just set up another tank! (good excuse) Thanks again for your time and generosity in sharing your knowledge, Patty <And thank you again for your kind words.... All the best, -Sabrina>  

Fish Illness I breed angelfish and recently a couple of juvies developed redness around the mouth between the eyes. They were in a cichlid tank (they were fish I was culling) with two cichlids and a handful of feeder fish, Rosies. I removed the juvies because of the redness thinking the angels were too big for the cichlids to consume. I put them in with approx. 50 other juvies who are now getting the same symptoms redness, not active, sometimes staying at the top and within two days are dying. At a closer look at the Rosies, a few were "bent" looking. Not having straight bodies. The only thing I've found online that maybe wrong is fish tank granuloma. <careful here... the possibility of mycobacterium too. Contagious to you (bent spine symptoms... Fish TB)> Is it possible this is what's wrong? <does not seem likely to be granuloma at all> Thank you for your time, Stacey <alas... still too difficult to diagnose here without seeing the fish/symptoms. Let me suggest for a good general reference, Untergasser's "Handbook of Fish Diseases" or for something much more involved, the new work by Noga. Plenty of pictures therein both to help with the diagnosis. Best regards, Anthony>

Sick Angels Hello all, I had a breeding pair of freshwater angelfish, they had been in a 80 gal community tank, but the bickering with other angels was becoming a problem for the fins, so I moved them to their own 29 gal (temp 84, ph 8.2ish, no ammonia, cycled sponges for bio-filters, 80% water changes every other day) <Temp should really be no higher than 80, pH is a bit high too, it should be under 8.0 although if the old tank was also kept at 8.2 this shouldn't be a problem. The water changes may also be a bit on the drastic side, even for a new tank. Really, no more than 50% every other day or 25% daily until the tank is fully cycled would be the best. And be sure to make sure the new water is properly conditioned before adding it to the tank. You say no ammonia but what about nitrites?> Very shortly after that, the female developed long, grey strings of slime hanging off of her and her fins got very ragged, 2 days or so after that, her eyes got cloudy and she would not eat. She just drifted around the tank at the top, breathing hard, but not gasping. Then the male started to show the same signs. Day before yesterday (about 1 1/2 weeks from onset of symptoms) the female died. <Possibly a bacterial infection of some sort. Take a look at http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm > Treatments I tried are - Salt bath, 1 tbsp per gal for 20 min -  then simultaneously -parasite clear - super sulfa for 5 days, the 90% water change and then Clout by itself, now I am using only Maracyn, 1 tab per 10 gal every other day, I am on day three, and the male is not getting any worse, but not better either, and has not eaten for over a week now, I am also using a fair amount of slime coat stuff to help him retain at least some slime (water conditioner by Proquatics) but his eyes are not showing any sign of clearing.... Help!!!    <Check the above link and try treating with a medication for bacterial diseases.> Thank you in advance, Aimee <You're welcome! Ronni>
Re: Sick Angels
Ronni - re the sick angels.... <Good morning> If you assume the grey slime is a normal stress/parasite/adverse conditions reaction, it is no wonder they stayed with a combination of high pH, mega water changes with water of undetermined quality and a battery of salt and treatments.  Add to this slime coat - well this doesn't 'retain' slime, it merely 'encourages' its production - these fish must be sweating slime! Your comments - am I talking 'jibe'? Wayne Oxborough <I really do think the slime is being produced in such great quantities because of all of the treatments and such. Recommended course of action for now is to run carbon for a day and then treat only with a single medication as suggested at http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm . This should help slow down the production of slime and hopefully also treat what is ailing them. Ronni>

Angel Losses For years, I had beautiful angelfish in Indiana. But here in Sun City, Az. they have been dying. INFO- 20 gal. tank. Bio filter for up to 30 gals plus air stone. Tank has been up for two and a half months and cycled. Some plastic plants but live plants are doing great. Temp-82.  Test as of tonight: Nitrate-40 Nitrite-0 Hardness-150 Alkalinity-120 PH-7.6 Ammonia-0.  Added fish tank salt as directed. <Okay, so far, so good, but a 20 gallon tank is far too small for angels, unless you're doing a bare-bottom breeding setup for one mated pair of angels, and no other fish.> Have had 6 little angels and 2 Cory cats in the tank for the last month but--I would lose one or two angels one week, replace, etc. <It's not a good idea to replace fish that have died until you know what it was that killed them, or you'll run the risk of the new fish getting sick with the same thing.> For the last week or 10 days, all has been great, then 4 angels dead one morning. I only feed them as much as their "eye", change 15% of the water once every week. Have had the water tested at different pets stores. They say every thing is good but the angels still die. <It's really hard to say what's going on without knowing any symptoms.  Please do let us know what you're seeing happen with them; look for frayed fins, grayish or filmy skin, labored breathing, disorientation, or just absolutely anything amiss, and hopefully we can help you diagnose what's going on.> This is getting very depressing. Hope you can help me as you have others.  Thanks, Lorraine <Will certainly try to!!  -Sabrina>

Angelfish in general Hello, My name is Michael Hoefnagel and my family recently bought me an angelfish for my aquarium as a gift. However I know very little about angle fish thus and your website was very helpful in answering most of my questions. I do however seem to have a problem I have a single angle and it seems to just float at the top of my tank and kind of moves with the current. He has not at this point eaten anything... Is there something wrong with my fish and if so is there anything I can do? < You tank should be at about 80 F. Check for white spots or any other signs of disease. Try offering some brine shrimp to get him to eat. It doesn't sound like normal angelfish behavior. Watch the other fish too. This angelfish could be a carrier of disease to the other fish.-Chuck> Thanks for your help Michael Hoefnagel

Angelfish Problems I've been having trouble keeping Freshwater Angelfish. When I am at my LFS they look healthy, but within a matter of a day or two they die. Why is this? I thought these are hardy fish. pH is acidic (slightly) and no trace of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. The temp is 76-78 and it is a 29-gallon tank. The fish are usually 1/2"-2" long. Can you help me? Jahner < Young angelfish are actually pretty delicate. Especially some color forms like black angels. I would recommend that the next time you get silver or marble colored angels. Place them in a small tank like a quarantine or hospital tank and feed them well. I like to use live California black worms or baby brine shrimp to get a good solid protein meal inside them. This goes a long way to your fish building up their immune system. In a 29 gallon they may have trouble finding food or competing with smaller but much faster fish.-Chuck> 

Angelfish Trouble.. F/W? S/W? Hi.  <Hello, MikeB here.>  I bought an Angelfish almost a week ago and I have kept the conditions excellent in my tank. I have a 50 gallon tank and not too many other fish. I feed my Angelfish as directed from the pet store but suddenly it is having a buoyancy problem and wedging himself behind my filter and I'm not sure how to help it or if I can. I would really like to know if there is anything I can do to help him other then possibly wait a couple days to feed him to see if maybe it was a problem with overfeeding. Thanks, Krissie. <Krissie, it sounds like a swim bladder problem. I would try using one tablespoon of Epsom salt per ten gallons of water and not feed your angelfish for a couple of days. Good Luck. MikeB.> 

Angelfish with Acne There are three pinhead size bumps about 2 MM apart just below the left eye of my fish, He's almost 10 inches from top of fin to bottom (Angel Fish) he doesn't seem to be acting weird but I'm sure they are not supposed to be there. They don't look like Ich more like tiny white teeth coming from the inside of his head if that give you a better image. Please Help John < Your angelfish has probably scraped himself on a rock, piece of wood or a plant stem. This could even be caused by you fish attempting to get some food out of the gravel. It is probably a bacterial infection followed up by a fungal infection. I would isolate the fish in a hospital tank and treat with Nitrofurazone. It will take care of both problems.-Chuck> 

FW, Angelfish woes/Less than pristine water conditions  9/23/05 My angelfish has been hiding in a log lying down.  Sometimes she is up in the corner above bubble bar. <Is she gasping, this is often a sign of poor oxygen concentration in the tank, you may need to increase aeration and water changes.> She got stuck in the lava rock last night due to her being to larger for such a small hole. <Ouch, I would remove the rock to avoid this in the future, the stress alone can lead to demise no to mention the physical damage.> I am not sure how long she was stuck because she was like that when I came home after 8 hours. I managed to get her out but now she is lying down and another fish was nibbling on her fins. <Has this aggression been persistent or is the first time you have observed it?.> She is a year old.  I have put her in a tank alone now but she still lies down but will swim around when you pick up the bowl she is in.  We tested the water the ammonia level is more than 1.0  but less than 2.5 <Sounds like the tank she is in/has not gone through the nitrogen cycle, that ammonia reading is enough to kill any fish, I would start performing LARGE water changes to compensate. And see here for more detail about the nitrogen cycle. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm . Also if your LFS has a product called Bio-Spira I would purchase some. This product contains live bacteria to help out in your cycling process.> The pH is less than 6.2 the water was yellow. <The color is likely form dissolved organic compounds in the water.>  The Nitrite is 0.05. What do I Need to do to my water and what will help my angelfish? <Change a large amount of the tank volume, I would do 50% daily or twice a day for the next week or so, make sure to use a dechlorinator such as Amquel to treat tap water. Running Carbon is not a bad idea either.>   Please help I do not want to lose her or any of my other fish. <Understandable, Adam J.>
In Response to Angelfish Woes
Thanks for replying so quick. <No problem, I know how it is to see one of your specimens suffering. Its not a good feeling.>   We are going to do the water changes. <Awesome!>   We had a Couple months ago did a good cleaning on the tank and had some distress and we did several water changes and seemed fine after that.  The water test was good. <For best results/stability try doing a water change once every 2 weeks, every week if you can, 10-20% of your tanks water volume would be a great start.> As far as the aggression with the fish that was the first time for that.  I think it was just because she is ill. <Im inclined to agree.> I have read your site about the Bio-Spira and I will get some.  I have an hour drive to the nearest store but I will be doing whatever I need to save my fish.   <I admire your dedication.> I have 17 fish.  Again thank you so much for helping me.  You are a great site for help and do not keep people waiting. <We try our best.>   I will recommend you to others I know when they need help or just want to read up on things. <Thank you very much, responses like this one make it all worth it, wishing you and your critters well, Adam J.>

Bloated Angelfish  8/30/05 HELP!!!! My angel fish is so filled with gas, he looks like he's   swallowed a ping-pong ball....what should I do? More antibiotics? < The Metronidazole should have done the trick , but it appears that either the conditions that caused the bloat are still in place or the Metronidazole was ineffective. At this point I would switch to a double dose of a Nitrofurazone medication in a hospital tank or to Clout as a last shot.-Chuck.>

Bloated Angelfish  8/31/05 Thanks for quick response - he's sooooo sick. By the way, another web site suggests: if one is either trained to handle fish or is a veterinarian, one could try putting a small pin hole into the bladder to allow the gas to escape.... as a last-ditch effort - he's probably about to die should I try this? Anne < I guess it is worth a try if you have nothing to lose. Most of the time the trauma kills the fish. Try it if you think all hope is lost and write back if it works.-Chuck>

Angelfish Going to Heaven  8/16/05 I love this web site! you guys are so helpful! I'm so confused right now. I've been doing freshwater aquariums now for about 5 yrs and have never come across what is happening with my fish tank now. I have a 125 gallon aquarium, right now i only have 2 blood parrots, 2 angel fish, 1 rainbow shark, and 1 Kribensis. My problem is with the angel fish. I use to have 4 angel fish. 2 were about silver dollar size, and I had them a while longer, and the other 2 were about quarter size and newer. One of the bigger ones became ill and was floating at the top, not eating. He died. Then the other big one also came down with the same symptoms, except we actually saw her cough up blood and have blood come out of her gills. We knew which were male and female because they had bred shortly before. I had my water tested and everything, and everything was perfect. We did a water change, added copper safe, and treated with an antibiotic. None of my other fish were acting strange. Now about a month later, my smaller angel fish are about silver dollar size, and one has started doing the exact same thing as the other two did before they died. And I'm sure my last one will do it too. They also bred shortly before becoming ill. The only thing I can see causing this is that they were a bad batch from the store. All my other fish were bought from different stores except for my angel fish, they were all bought from one store, and they are the only ones with these symptoms. I'm not sure what I should do. There is no aggression going on in the tank. I have had blood parrots and angel fish together for years and they get along great. It has been about a month or so since my first angel fish died. Do you guys have any ideas? or any suggestions for what i should do? like I said, my water is good, we did a water change just a few days ago, and added the dechlorinator, and we have copper safe in there, and treated it just a few weeks ago with antibiotics. Thank You So Much!! < If the fish died shortly after they bred then they must have been in pretty good shape to breed. The stress of breeding may have lead to an internal bacterial infection. Domestic angelfish don't have too much resistance to disease. I would treat them for internal anaerobic bacterial infection with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

FW Angelfish with Swimming Problems 7/19/05 Hi: I hope I didn't miss the answer on your website, but if I did, apologies ahead of time. I have an angel fish - silver striped, freshwater - who has air bladder disease. At least I think that's what it is. He's lying on his side, trying so hard to swim. He eats when he can upright himself. I have put him in a hospital tank, away from his obnoxious co-specimens - two other angel fish, same species, who were picking on him. (If he lives, I will not return him to the big tank.   He can have the hospital tank and I'll find him new friends.) Anyway, the main tank is 75 gallons with two filters (the 500 size.)   I have about 15 fish in there, mostly small tropicals, half dozen neon tetras, some penguin tetras, and five plain vanilla tetras -  pale in color. I also have a so-called Tri-Color shark and one Pleco.   I had a terrible case of free-floating algae - months and months of green water and finally got rid of it about two weeks ago. A day or two later, just when I thought things were finally OK, my poor angel fish was bobbing around on his side. I am treating him with antibiotics (gram-positive Maracyn) and just began treating him with a gram-negative medication (Maracyn II.) Is there anything else you can suggest I do? This fish is the only one I've ever owned that actually had a personality - he's trying really hard to survive - and I'd like to help him if I can. Anne S. < Keep in the isolation tank and treat with Metronidazole. The key to a successful recovery is quick treatment. Once the fish is eating you should be home free.-Chuck>  

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