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FAQs on Freshwater Angelfish Environmental Disease

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: Diagnosis, 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,


Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed!      6/13/18
I am getting so frustrated with my 36 gallon planted aquarium that I used Activ Flora Red in about 3 months ago. The plants are doing great in this, however all the fish I add die within days.
<Which is alarming, for sure.>
I started adding some angel fish and the water parameters are good - nitrates less than 20ppm, nitrites - not detectable, ammonia - not detectable, ph - 7.2, temp is 80, kh & gh 4 -
<This all sounds reasonable.>
the angelfish die within days as if poisoned, I added 4 initially and one by one they died within 1 week, added 4 more from a different supplier and they all died as well. They were healthy and eating when I placed them in the tank and within 72 hours they start acting weird - both batches of them.
<Which strongly suggests an environmental issue rather than a pathogen.>
Within 72 hours of acclimating them into the tank, they will be hanging at the bottom or the top, not eating, then they start swimming strange as if they are drunk, then they pass, I considered an infection or parasites possibly? Or the only other thing I can think of is the substrate which is the Activ Flora red, as I was reading the bag last night it seems high in metals - aluminum, iron etc. I contacted the manufacturer today and they could offer no advice and said they have never heard feedback on the product that fish were dying. There are 3 airstones pumping out nicely, 2 HOB's one is seachem Tidal with poly filter and chemi green along with matrix media from seachem, I also added Algone for good measure. The other is scaper's flow hang on canister with sponges and matrix media. I'm at a loss. I use RO water and add equilibrium by seachem and ph neutral along with fresh trace. Any advice is welcomed. I used to keep angels 20+ years ago and never had issues, I had a spawning pair and I was not even vigilant with water changes like I am now. The RO system is an Aquasana -
<Looks neat, but surprised that removing fluorine is seen as a plus!>
I thought maybe the remineralizer on the system is causing it as well. I really don't know, I am at a loss. Any advice is welcomed.
<I am not a fan of using domestic water softeners for fish tanks. The types of minerals used to soften the water can result in 'unnatural' ratios of ions, such as more sodium ions than would normally be present. So while plain RO water, with Discus Buffer added, would be pretty good for Angels, this unit of yours seems to be concocting something designed to be suitable for drinking, and that's less attractive as an idea.>
<I'd start by skipping the domestic water softener. By all means use RO if you want, and then add Discus Buffer, or more easily (for farmed Angels at least) a 50/50 mix of hard tap water and RO water should produce something more than acceptable, i.e., no more than medium hardness, and around pH 7-7.5. I'd also try setting up a clean quarantine tank. Why? Because I'd want to get the Angels settled and feeding in a system where I can control all the variables. So no soil! Just plain glass (perhaps some washed gravel if you must) and a simple filter, suitable heating of course, but no need for lights. A 20-gallon tank would be fine for a few juvenile Angels. While the aquarium soil should be safe, you might have a contaminated batch. If the Angels thrive in the quarantine tank, then there's perhaps a strong case for stripping down the display tank, then rebuilding with plain gravel and plants. Perhaps use another brand of aquarium soil. Are there other species of fishing thriving in the display tank? If there are tetras and catfish already, and they're doing fine, and it's just the Angels that fail, then the easiest move is to simply avoid Angels. Try something else of similar size and behaviour, perhaps one of the Gourami species. But if the tank has no fish in it, and you really want an Angelfish community, then testing out Angels with a quarantine tank would at least help you rule out the aquarium soil as the problem. Do think about water movement and oxygenation though -- plants consume oxygen 24 hours a day, but during the nighttime they're not producing it through photosynthesis, and in densely planted tanks with sluggish water movement it is possible for oxygen levels to become depleted. Air-breathing fish (like Gouramis and Corydoras) will get by, but those fish unable to breathe air, notably cichlids, will suffer. You might also consider some other, perhaps airborne, pollutant. Paint fumes, insecticides and cleaning products can all cause major problems. Sometimes solid materials fall into aquaria, such as bits of metal, and these can also prove toxic, copper in particular. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed!    6/14/14

Thank you so much Neal!!!
<Most welcome.>
The tank is in a good area with a lid on most of it and I am very careful with cleaning products, fumes etc.
I have been a fish keeper since I was about 7 years old when my older brother purchased piranhas at the LFS and I insisted I have one in a tank in my bedroom - this was back in the 70's in NJ.
I have never seen anything like this - my fish always live for years, in fact I have torn down my salt tank at least 5 times over the past 15 years due to moves and never lost a one in any of the moves.
<Sounds like you're better at this than me!>
I lost my spawning clown pair over a year ago ( I had those fish for close to 10 years)to a power outage from hurricane Matthew (I am now prepared with a generator for the next outage) I did put one bushy nose pleco in the aquarium prior to the angels and I assume he died and he was never seen again within 30 days. The tank was met specifically for angels so this is a flipping mystery!
<I'll say. But as a rule of thumb, if one fish dies, then another a few days or weeks later, then another, and so on -- then a disease is definitely possible. But if a whole bunch of fish die within 24 hours, then
I'd tend to go with an environmental issue. The "trick" is determining what's going on.>
I use the RO water because I did not want algae issues - and so far so good with the algae - almost zero and the plants are thriving..sadly no fish can survive this tank...
<Where's the tank positioned? In terms of direct sunlight, I mean. And are you adding CO2, which if used incorrectly, can easily kill fish. Two ways: Firstly, as dissolved CO2 goes up, pH goes down, and that can stress/kill fish. Also, as CO2 is absorbed into the water, O2 is displaced, which again can kill fish. Air-breathing fish can survive, and bear in mind that 'in a pinch' physostomous fish like characins and barbs can breathe air, whereas physoclistous fish like cichlids simply cannot. Oh, and something from left field. What *sort* of plants are you growing? There's a thing called biogenic decalcification that can happen with some species (such as Vallisneria) if they don't have sufficient CO2 dissolved in the water. They break down carbonate and/or bicarbonate salts in the water, getting the CO2 out of those salts. It's a neat trick that means they do really well in hard water. But if the water doesn't have enough buffering capacity, this removal of carbonate and/or bicarbonate will cause the pH to drop during
photosynthesis, sometimes very rapidly. I've seen aquaria "crash" this way, all the fish gasping at the surface in obvious distress. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed!    6/16/18

Thanks Neale - as far as plants, I did consider they may be a problem. I did not realize that about some plants having that ability to affect the water chemistry and I have reached out to many different people about this and you are the first one to mention this.
<Oh! It is not a well-known fact perhaps, but reasonably widely seen with hard water specialist aquatic plants. Egeria and Elodea are the classic species, precipitating a chalky deposit on their leaves (carbonate salts of some sort) as they absorb bicarbonate ions, take the CO2, and get rid of what they don't need. Vallisneria are not quite so effective, but I have seen them crash a tank once, in the sense the pH changes so much and so rapidly fish were visibly distressed. Not that they're not good plants --
they're great -- but I'd be careful about using them in soft water tanks (with minimal buffering) with high lighting levels. Basically, any plant known to be a hard water specialist probably does this sort of
decalcification, whereas soft water plants probably don't.>
There are Val.s in the tank and I do not use CO2,
<So guess where the Vallisneria are getting the CO2 they need, if lighting is so great they consume the dissolved CO2? Yep, from any bicarbonate salts in the water. Now, this may or may not be an issue, but I'd perhaps monitor pH across the day, comparing, say, before the lights went on to the pH level after 6-8 hours of photosynthesis. If the pH has risen a lot, then the Vallisneria may be part of the problem.>
I was doing a "low tech" tank....I just put a seachem ph monitor on the tank which seems to work well so I am going to start writing the levels down as I check it throughout the day - I have been through vials of test strips testing the water searching for answers. So Val.s should be avoided for me
<Only under intense light AND low buffering capacity. They're otherwise fine.>
- any other plants to avoid?
<See above.>
Sincerely, Lisa
<Hope this helps.>

Angelfish with a mark on its side        2/2/18
Hello ,
Hope you can help.
I have an Angelfish I bought around Christmas week. - I sent this in yesterday evening on the site (attached image)- as I could see the pic on the page below and it looks like the problem my girl has..
I went back to the page just now and scrolled all the way down and found the description of the issue with the image ..
So I'm going to see if I can buy Merbromin, Mercurochrome in Ireland and see if I can rub it on and see how goes..
Might be a help to put some sort of description/link on the pic - as you have to scroll an awful way down to find the related info and the pic shows quite prominently in a Google search but there is no real description.
Many thanks!!
<Hello. It's not exactly clear to me what I'm looking at. It's either pink blobs on the fish (in which case Lymphocystis most likely) or pink wounds (i.e., ulcers or bites, in which case physical damage). Lymphocystis is not really treatable as such, but the virus can be cleared up with consistent good water quality and healthy diet. This may take some months, even years though. It is rarely fatal unless the cysts block something important, like the vent or mouth. Wounds and ulcers can be treated with anti-Finrot medication, eSHa 2000 being my particular favourite if antibiotics aren't available to you over the counter. Rubbing on antiseptic medicine is unlikely to work -- indeed, more likely to cause further damage either by damaging underlying tissue or dissolving into the water and poisoning something else entirely. So not what I'd suggest doing here. However, identifying the causes is important. Angels are very prone to damage from sucking catfish that 'latch' onto the fish to scrape away at their mucous.
The commonest culprits are Otocinclus, but Common Plecs have been reported as doing this too. Hunger on the part of the catfish may be a factor, in which case review their diet. Angels also fight, and can cause damage to each other. While juveniles school together nicely, adults are basically territorial in small home aquaria, males (or matter pairs, for that matter) staking a territory around 30 cm radius around their favoured rock or bogwood root. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side   2/2/18
Hi Neale,
Thank you very much for coming back to me.
I have 4 other better photos but they are all 1.4Mb each and am conscious of sending you those as you advised on the website that your webmail space is limited.
<True, but can you send one sharp photo? Maybe crop away the rest of the fish, so it's just a nice sharp photo of its body?>
It is like a lesion with a little black dot in the centre and makes me think it's bacterial/fungal or some sort of parasite.
<I agree; I'd be going with an antibacterial in the first instance (eSHa 2000 is the best, in my opinion, within the EU) but keeping an open mind about Hexamita, in which case eSHa HEXAMITA is your only choice unless you can get (from a vet) Metronidazole.>
It was on the fish when I bought her but I didn't think too much of it. It was smaller then , less noticeable, seems like just a wayward scale design.
It's getting a bit bigger and the black dot in the middle is becoming more prominent. Thanks for advising not to do the antiseptic. I will do a water change and see what medication the pet shop might recommend.
<Often they recommend what they have, and sometimes recommendations are a bit poor -- things like aquarium salt or tea-tree oil (e.g., Melafix).
Avoid anything that offers a "general cure" because these are rarely effective once fish actually get sick (they have some usage as preventatives after fish have been moved or after they have fought for some reason). You really do want a specific medicine for Finrot and Fungus in the first instance (eSHa 2000 being good because it does both).>
Let me know if you have space , interest/ time for more pics and if I can send how many..If not , no worries, I really appreciate you getting back to me and your response already.
All the best,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side     2/14/18
Hi Neale, Wet Web Crew,
<Hello Linda,>
Thanks for the tip about cropping, please find 2 images attached .
<Nope, nothing attached!>
The one labeled 7th Feb, was before a water change and is what the lesion looked like at the start of Jan. The one labeled 13th Feb is what the lesion looked like towards the end of Dec and again now after a water change. ( I bought the fish just before Christmas)
She has laid eggs twice since I got her. But the Pleco ate them :-( So I've got a piece of Perspex for separation in case it happens again.
<Do be careful sticking solid dividers into aquaria -- they stop water flow, which stops warmth and clean water being evenly distributed. Mesh or grid-like dividers are better, such as egg crate.>
I'm hoping these photos may help for a better diagnosis/prognosis/more advice for course of action.
Thanks again,
<Maybe try again with the photos? In the meantime, your range of options with regard to lesions are limited. Assuming this is not "Head and Lateral Line Disease" or "Hole in the Head", but merely a bacterial infection, then
a good antibiotic or antibacterial is the treatment. The key to success is isolating the injured fish from anything likely to peck at or otherwise damage its wounded area. Other Angels are prone to nipping at weakened
individuals given their territorial nature (as adults they are not really social, and can be quite mean tempered). Plecs are another potential source of damage, latching onto wounds and consuming the mucous as a tasty treat.
Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side   2/15/18
Ahh. Doh!!!
Hopefully now attached, with my apologies.
<I see attached now; definitely an ulcer, treat as Finrot, with a reliable antibiotic or antibacterial (not salt, not tea-tree oil, etc.).>
Wish I had said my plan about the Perspex in advance to you before going to the trouble of getting it. Just one other Angel in the tank and they seem to be mates as they were working together with the eggs twice now.
<Then it's a mystery where the wound came from. Heater burn perhaps? Stuck on the filter inlet? Otherwise, this sort of ulcer is classic "Plec damage" when Angels are kept with Suckermouth catfish. Treated quickly, should heal well. It's a clean flesh wound. Cheers, Neale.>

7 Feb and 13 Feb

Re: Angelfish with a mark on its side- thanks!     2/16/18
Thanks a million Neale !
Will do as you say.
I bought her with it so she had it before entering my tank.
<Ah! The plot thinnens.>
Only thing will be the whole community will be getting the treatment I'd say that won't do any harm though.
When I Googled Finrot/ ulcers in tropical fish. I found this UK product site..seems alright and has a diagnosis tool https://www.ntlabs.co.uk
<Ah yes, a good company; though my preference / experience has always been for eSHa products, which do (usually, and economically) deliver on what they promise. eSHa 2000 is, I believe, the Finrot product. Have not use NT Labs products myself, but they do seem to have a "Anti-Ulcer & Finrot" treatment!>
Just might be a useful reference/resource to give if people from the UK contact you.
<Indeed; and your message will be posted on the WWM website in due course.>
Doesn't stock in Ireland but I think I'm ok as I think I have the stuff already.
All the best, thanks again and kindest regards,
<Glad to help, and good luck! Neale.>

Angelfish with ammonia poisoning       3/14/17
Good morning crew! I hope you can help me. I have several fish tanks. I just love my fishies! I have custom made 82 gallon with 4 angels. They paired up but not breeding. The boss is Triggered and his mate Curly. They are biggest angels in there. Also 2 Bala sharks,
<Yikes; will get much larger!>
4 Bavarian rams, black ghost knife, 2 blood parrots,
<And these>
1 pain in the butt male Betta and 2 Plecos.
Everything is still pretty small except Triggered, Curly and 2 Plecos. As soon as my 150 gallon cycles most will be moved. Not the rams or Betta but everything else will be moved to 150 gallon tank.
<Ah, good>
Well my daughter was having a problem with dominate angelfish in her tank and we have tried this angelfish in about 9 different tanks here with him beating every fish up or terrorizing them. We made arrangements with pet
store to take him but we couldn't take him till morning. I wish I would of thought about putting her angelfish in the bucket with the heater before I put him in my tank for the night as well as 2 small angels because they were beating up on a tiny angelfish in her tank. Well Triggered flipped out and not only went after the big angelfish of my daughters but he went after everything in the tank, shredding everyone in his way.
<Sounds/reads like a rogue>
The newest fish is the Betta, All the other fish grew up together and get along well. The Betta is kind of a bully. I decided to move Triggered and Curly to 55 gallon for the night. Or I might of woke up to dead fish. The 55 has 2 blood parrots and 2 angelfish aggressive green Severums. I moved Severums to 5 gallon bucket with heater. Put angels in tank, In the morning I seen Triggered was dying. I quickly tested water and discover ammonia was
threw <sic> the roof. Higher the 6.0 ppm and nitrites 200 ppm.

My filter was not working, not sure how long it was off. Ugh. I took water from 82 gallon and put into bucket, netted the 2 angels and 2 parrots putting them in the bucket. Tank temps are the same. I took them to 82 gallon and released them. Curly and 2 blood parrots were struggling but you wouldn't know it now. They are fine! Triggered was down, gasping for air, breathing hard. I took daughter's larger angel out and put in bucket, moved the other mated pair of angels to daughters tank so the wouldn't stress Triggered anymore then he already was. I seen Pleco's going near him and decided he would be safer in a container. His fins are a wreck, his eyes were fogged. He had about every symptom of ammonia poisoning. I put triggered into 2 gallon clear container floating on surface of tank, so his water could stay warm. I didn't want to cook him with my 5 gallon heater and didn't want the cat to fish him out of the bucket. I put air stone in, prime, aquarium salt, and Mela fix, I has been 4 days, His breathing is almost normal, I clean 40% of his water daily and been dosing with Mela fix. He is showing improvement. His eyes are clear, fins are no worse. On day 3 he tried to get up and swim, I think he is still weak. Today he is staying up little longer than yesterday but still can't stay upright. He gets up but can not stay up right for more than few seconds. He is trying so hard to survive and he is my favorite angelfish so I'm not giving up on him. I read fish can survive this, He doesn't have the red streaks or red blotches which would mean internal bleeding. My question is am I doing the right thing?
<Yes; just needs clean, stable water conditions>

I seem to be spinning my wheels. When using Mela fix <Am not a fan of this plant extract. You can scan/search WWM re>
I'm not suppose to do water changes but he seems to be more active and really tries to get up and moving afterwards. His water in bucket has registered .5 ammonia. This is reason I'm doing water changes. I'm not sure
how, I have not tried to feed him. The 82 gallon has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate. Could ammonia be leaching out of his scales?
<Mmm; no; but out of gills and wastes/vent; yes>
How soon can I let him outta the container once he can stay a float?
<Whenever you want; elect to do so>
Should I continue using Mela fix?
<I wouldn't. Of no use; and may be worsening the issue/s here>

I was worried about secondary infection and fin rot. Last question, The other mated pair of angels (Sponge Bob and Sandy) Should I put them back into tank before I release Triggered?
<Yes I would>
Not sure he will let them back in once he is out of the container and back in his tank. They been raised together and they squabble once in a while but the tank is peaceful except for the Betta who is somewhat of a trouble maker. lol He defends his spot in tank and will flare and follow whoever entered his territory. He and Triggered squabble a lot but no damage is done. Their territories are next to each other.
<... Bob Fenner>
Re: Angelfish with ammonia poisoning     3/15/17

Hi Bob and crew!
I did typo
and wanted to clarify. The 55 gallon tank that I placed Triggered into the night he went crazy over the other angelfish that was put into his tank.
The 55 gallons filter was not working and I did not realize it when I put Triggered and Curly in there. The ammonia when I tested water that morning when I found Triggered struggling, was higher than the highest reading of
6.0 ppm. The color was darker then the 6.0 on the chart and nitrite was 200 ppm.
<Nitrate likely>
I don't remember the nitrite reading.
I was wondering what you meant Bob when you said, <Sounds/reads like a rogue>
<A rogue individual. Some particular freshwater Angelfish are REALLY MEAN! Have to be kept solo; lest they attack other life.>
after reading "I decided to move Triggered and Curly to 55 gallon for the night. Or I might of woke up to dead fish. The 55 has 2 blood parrots and 2 angelfish aggressive green Severums. I moved Severums to 5 gallon bucket with heater. Put angels in tank, In the morning
I seen Triggered was dying. I quickly tested water and discover ammonia was threw <sic> the roof. Higher the 6.0 ppm and nitrites 200 ppm.
<?!!!> <Sounds/reads like a rogue>
I had to move Severums out of the 55 gallon for the night before I put Triggered and Curly in there. Those Severums are angelfish aggressive and have torn the angels fins up before. Someone gave me the Severums and the only tank mates they don't terrorize is 2 blood parrots who live in the 55 gallon. I think because the two blood parrots are kind of bullies so they don't let the Severums push them around. Those blood parrots have never bothered the angelfish or any other fish that leaves them alone. The blood parrots however don't like other blood parrots. So I moved the Severums into the bucket because I was worried my cat would catch my angels in the bucket. The Severums are much faster and tend to stay towards bottom so I figured the cat wouldn't even really see them and certainly would not try to fish them out of bottom of 5 gallon bucket.
I wanted to say thank you for the help and taking the time to read this.
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Sick Angel    3/24/16
I've scoured your website to try and help me get a fix for my angel fish.
I have a 50gal tank with 7 mixed Corys, 1 Farlowella twig, 1 clown loach (eating snails),
<Happier in a group>

a Mickey mouse swordtail, and a smokey angelfish. I also have a planted sword and some hornwort. Ammonia, nitrite are zero. Nitrate between 20 and 40ppm.
<I'd work on getting and keeping NO3 under 20 ppm. Please read here:

PH around 8.3. I've always felt my ph was high, but the fish have been in there for 5+ months with no issues.
<I would not seek to modify this pH>
I do weekly 25% water changes with RO water.
<I'd use a mix of tap; at least 50%....>
The other day I noticed that my angel was not eating, sometimes hovering under some decorations, gulping water, and looks like it has kind of a bloody nose.
No red/blood on fins or body. No other body issues, and the other fish are fine. Sometimes it like shakes it head (like having a spasm), I was afraid it was having some sort of aneurism.
It hasn't done that since (that I noticed.) I immediately did a 25% water change, and am going to do another water change today (2 days later).
I can't figure out what its problem is, and I'm scared for it.
Any ideas on a bloody nose and gulping? The blood doesn't come out. It just looks like it's under the skin right above the mouth. I'm worried about adding medicine as I don't have a hospital tank.
Any advice?
<I fully suspect water quality is an issue here... Whatever is leading the Nitrate concentration to be so high. Please read where you've been referred above; and formulate a plan for nitrate reduction. Bob Fenner>
Sick Angel /Neale        3/25/16

I've scoured your website to try and help me get a fix for my angel fish. I have a 50gal tank with 7 mixed Corys, 1 Farlowella twig, 1 clown loach (eating snails), a Mickey mouse swordtail, and a smokey angelfish.
<I would review this collection. The Farlowella is hard to keep long term unless you have relatively cool, clear water and plenty of green algae and oxygen. Eminently suitable for life with Corydoras and in fact the Swordtail, but the Clown will want warmer water (25-28 C vs. 22-24 C for the Farlowella and the Corydoras) and on top of that they're massive polluters, just what you don't want in a tank this size. 50 gallons isn't a lot of space for Clowns, even though it's a big tank for Farlowella and Corydoras.
Furthermore, Clowns are social, and their behaviour is (often) aberrant when kept in insufficient numbers, ranging from nervous/shy through to overtly aggressive bullies. If you can, replace the Clown. Do take a look at a dinner plate sometime -- that's the size of an adult Clown. They're huge! For sure they take years getting there, but still...>
I also have a planted sword and some hornwort. Ammonia, nitrite are zero.
Nitrate between 20 and 40ppm. PH around 8.3. I've always felt my ph was high, but the fish have been in there for 5+ months with no issues.
<Understood. Water quality mostly sounds fine. But if you're using pure RO (which should be zero nitrate) but your nitrate levels are 20-40 mg/l, that is an extremely big increase in nitrate within the space of a weekly water
change. So assuming you're measuring correctly, that big jump in nitrate level could be explained three ways: overstocking, overfeeding, or not doing nearly enough water changes. Next up, pH 8.3 is high for soft water
species like Clowns, Farlowella, Corydoras and Angels. All of these will thrive between pH 6 and 8, that's true. But your pH is significantly above that, and you should plan accordingly. Numerous Central American, Rift Valley, East Asian, North American and Eurasian species that will all do well in hard, alkaline conditions.>
I do weekly 25% water changes with RO water.
<This alarms me. RO water by itself is effectively toxic to fish
. No fish lives naturally in water with zero dissolved minerals. Mixing RO with tap water, say 75% RO with 25% hard tap water, is much healthier if you're
keeping generic community fish; tetras, barbs, Angels, etc.. Hard water fish (like Swordtails and Platies) are happier in harder water, even "liquid rock" well water and the like.>
The other day I noticed that my angel was not eating, sometimes hovering under some decorations, gulping water, and looks like it has kind of a bloody nose. No red/blood on fins or body. No other body issues, and the other fish are fine. Sometimes it like shakes it head (like having a spasm), I was afraid it was having some sort of aneurism. It hasn't done that since (that I noticed.) I immediately did a 25% water change, and am going to do another water change today (2 days later). I can't figure out what its problem is, and I'm scared for it. Any ideas on a bloody nose and gulping?
<Hard to say but environmental stress is most likely
, though you can't rule out inter-species aggression; Clowns for example have the potential to be quite aggressive at feeding time and at night, and during the night
especially Angels are very vulnerable to disturbance. Even if the Angel isn't attacked overtly, it can get scared, and being effectively blind in the dark (most cichlids are day-animals, like us) they can end up slamming into rocks or glass.>
The blood doesn't come out. It just looks like it's under the skin right above the mouth.
<Physical trauma is one possibility, i.e., a bruise. But environmental stress is another possibility. Some bacterial infections start by blocking blood vessels close to the skin, causing the characteristic bloody spots and flecks seen on skin and fins. Eventually the tissue around the blockage dies from lack of blood supply. Fixing the environment and treating as per Finrot should do the trick if this is the issue here.>
I'm worried about adding medicine as I don't have a hospital tank. Any advice?
Thanks, Alexandra
<Hope this helps. Neale.>

Injured angelfish      2/2/16
Hi crew!
I had a bit of an incident last night when my angelfish jumped out of the tank.

I've had this fish for 7 years (he was the first fish i bought) and nothing like this has ever happened. Sadly, I only discovered it had happened when I heard my Siberian husky running around the lounge and came out to investigate to find my beloved angel in his mouth. I don't know how long the angel was out of the water before my dog found him. I was sure he was a goner, so was shocked to find he was still alive after making my dog drop the fish. I immediately put it back in the tank and he started swimming, albeit slowly.
<Ah good>
He looked in quite a lot of shock and was breathing rapidly. I left him in quiet not expecting him to last the night, but 24 hours later he's swimming, eating and behaving as normal.
The reason I am writing is because he sustained a number of injuries in the ordeal. His fins are a bit torn up, he's missing scales and, most concerning, he has a large puncture wound at the base of his tail (pics attached).
<I see these>
The wound was bleeding last night but looks relatively clean now. There's probably some internal injuries as well as my dog was pretty rough with him. Is there anything I can/should do to help his healing process (that won't harm the other fish in the tank)?
<Mmm; yes. I'd treat as if this fish had an infection... as it very likely will develop such. Please read here Re:
I'm worried the wound
will become infected. Or is it best to watch and wait?
<Will become infected; best not to wait, but be pre-emptive>
Thanks for your time,
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Injured angelfish        2/3/16
Thank you Bob for your sage advice. I've been reading through the angel FAQs you linked as well as some of the articles on treating diseases and am, admittedly, a little overwhelmed.
<Let's review a bit at a time then>
I guess because a lot if this advice pertains to treating advanced infection and I'm not at (and hopefully my poor angel will never get to) that point. I wanted to run it by you before I dose my tank as I don't want to make a rookie error and cause a larger problem.
<Let's hope so>
I see a lot of FAQs recommending against things like Melafix, for example, but the Choose Your Weapon article indicated it can be useful as a preventative.
<Some folks believe so; I do not. These "fixes" can be trouble in terms of modifying water quality, stalling nitrification. At best they're placebos>
That said, it sounds like I'm better off looking for an antibacterial/antibiotic?
<Yes; a real one>
I'm doing a preliminary online shop at my local LFSs and can't find much of those listed in your FAQs (I guess cause I
live in Australia), will any antibiotic do?
<Mmm; no; some are better, more likely applicable... better to use none than just any>
I see it also says many medications are not good with sensitive fish like clown loaches (of which I have a few small ones and i don't have a cycled quarantine tank to put the angel in) so I'm worried about harming them.
<You should be; again, I'd skip adding any real or faux med. here>
Also worried about causing a recycling event in my tank by killing the 'good' bacteria so is there any specific medications to avoid for that?
<All to an extent can pose this issue>
Another article suggested that administering the medication via food was better than immersion, but that getting accurate dosages can be tricky.
<Yes; tis so>
My angel is still very enthusiastically eating (during their feed tonight he raced all the other fish to it and ate first as usual) so food is an option if its safer for everyone involved?
<Better to buy a pre-made medicated (dried) food. Can you obtain those made by Tetra there?>
If it's worth mentioning I've done a 25% water change (don't gravel vac any more since the tank is now planted but if i should to prevent infection please do tell) and am monitoring water conditions closely. Should I do daily water changes or is this only important in cases where a dirty tank has caused the infection?
<I'd stick w/ your routine... Likely weekly, no more than 25% change-outs>
Do you also have any advice of specific symptoms I should be on the look out for, or should I simply be watching out for anything and everything?
<Growths on the wounds; more importantly a cessation of feeding; other aberrant behavior>
Sorry for the barrage of questions from this panicked fish mum!
Thanks as ever for your patience and advice,
<Thank you for your careful reading, questions. BobF>

Re: Injured angelfish       2/4/16
Hi Bob,
Thanks so much for clarifying! I went on a hunt at my all my LFSs and not a lot of luck. All most of them had was MelaFix/pimafix/bettafix. One did have a very small range of medications by Blue Planet, none of them being medicated food (some Googling suggested there is no medicated fish food sold in Australia at all, Tetra brand or otherwise).
<Is possible they are restricted there; or of such small commercial demand that they're not carried>
The only antibiotic medication they had was called Aquari Cycline. It calls itself a broad spectrum antibiotic with tetracycline hydrochloride as its active ingredient. Should I try this?
<Yes; I would. NOTE that it/this (Tet. HCl) WILL change the color of your water... at least slightly orangish... This color will not permanently stain, and will decline with subsequent water changes and the addition of activated carbon>

The guy at my LFS suggested it was fine to use with clown loaches (he also told me MelaFix or a salt bath was better so i don't know).
As for my angel he looks well still. He's eating and behaving like nothing happened. His wound looks much the same, if not a little more closed over (hard to get a good look at it as he always looks at me front on when I go near the tank). His torn fins have almost completely healed. Over what time period should I expect/be checking for infection to occur?
<A few days to a week>
Thanks once more,
<Bob Fenner>

Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables   6/17/14
Please re-send w/ a maximum size of a few hundred Kbytes.
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables   6/17/14

Ok. Here they are. Max size is 400 kB.
<Ah good>
Also if you can get a look at the gravel, does it seem too rough to keep bottom-feeding fish on (it's from the main tank).
<It does appear too sharp/angular... look for more round product. A fave of mine Fluorite and CaribSea's pebble gravel lines>
<The Angel... appears to be in some sort of environmental stress. BobF>

Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables       6/19/14
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Water in the hospital tank was this evening 0.25 ppm ammonia, 2 ppm nitrite,
<Both of these are deadly toxic>

5 ppm nitrate. I did a 40% water change and added replacement salt.
I thought seeding the tank with gravel from my main tank would make the bio filter cycle faster.
<Can help>
It has been maybe 3-4 weeks, but the first week was tetracycline. Do the results I got make sense?
<...? They are what they are; yes>
I also removed most of the gravel. I pushed the remainder into a corner and blocked it off with plastic plants so the angelfish can't get her tail in it.
I left the carbon/filter floss cartridge in the box filter since I really don't want to reduce the biofilter levels any further. Do you think removing the gravel will cause the biofilter to crash?
<Likely a contributing cause>
I found uneaten brine shrimps had gotten trapped in the grill over the filter intake and were being consumed by water mold. I've been feeding her two pinches with tongs (since she can't swim well) each day and giving the rest to my other fish...is this too much?
Thank you,
<SEE WWM re Ammonia, Nitrite... You're killing this fish.

Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables. Impt. sci. facts re FW/Cycling       6/22/14
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I didn't mean to do this to her! It wasn't until this week the water color had been cleared enough by the carbon for me to accurately test the water, and the gravel was catching on her tail so much I couldn't leave it in. I totally thought the tank would have been cycled by now thanks to the gravel seeding...and that the bacteria therein would've migrated to my bio wheel.
In any case, I'm doing daily water tests and daily 30% water changes until ammonia and nitrate are zero, and added a whole bottle of Tetra Safe-Start.
No more food either.
Prior to yesterday's change, I found nitrite had dropped to 0.25ppm and nitrate had risen to 10 ppm (this seemed encouraging). Ammonia remained at 0.25 ppm and I wasn't sure why, but I found some pieces of really old seaweed from many weeks ago stuck under the plants and removed them. I'm worried the AmQuel I use to get rid of chloramine might be removing too much ammonia for the first set of bacteria to grow well
<Can happen>

it's hard to measure out <2mm of it...and I have read that you don't want the ammonia to climb much b/c the ammonia -> nitrite reaction requires a stoichiometric ratio such that if ammonia is high it competes with dissolved oxygen and hurts the bacteria. (Is this true?)
<It is>

Today both ammonia and nitrite are zero. Nitrate is 5-10 ppm.
Gabriella's inflammation at the base of her fin has died down and her tail is regaining its colored stripe. So all that "fin rot infection" was nitrite/ammonia.
<Likely the largest part>

I'll watch the tank for several more days to see if ammonia and nitrite build up. How long must I wait to know if the tank is cycled or not?
<Days to weeks... Do you have another cycled tank to draw water from?>
I won't let her die on my watch!
Thank you for giving me the harsh truth. Fish get so little love someone needs to defend them...
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables      6/22/14
Dear Wet Web Media,
The only established tank I have is the main (105) gallon tank. But what good would drawing water from it do? Nitrifying bacteria aren't free swimming.
<Quite so. Moving water from an established tank to a new tank is an old approach to jump-starting the biological filter. At best it "inoculates" the new tank, but as you say, water isn't a major repository of biological filter bacteria. I'm a much bigger fan of moving mature media from one tank to another. A mature filter can stand to lose a whopping 50% of its biological media without causing any serious problems (indeed, the manufacturers recommend changing this much media periodically, perhaps to increase sales, but justifiably because clogged biological media will hold a fraction of the bacteria of nice fresh media with lots of clean pores through which oxygenated water can flow).>
Speaking of that tank, I added 3 more silver dollars to it. They unfortunately were mislabeled and turned out to be spotted ones rather than the striped ones I have had for years, but they school together anyway. The new maintenance schedule (weekly 20-25% changes + gravel vacuuming) has helped the weather loaches and Cory cats a lot.
What I was wondering is this...you recommended I get a rounder gravel, but I have an undergravel filter and so I fear that removing all of it will just crash this tank. Is there a way to replace the gravel without doing something really horrible to the water?
<Yes. Replace the top 25-50% of the sharp gravel with rounded gravel.
Repeat after a couple of months, and again if needs be a couple months later, until you've as good as completely replaced the old gravel with new.>
I am thinking of giving back the weather loaches for some store credit, as well as the Blackskirts and the one dwarf neon rainbow (I could get more, but I think they are too tiny to swim alongside silver dollars in mid-water). I might remove the cories but actually their barbels are ok.
It's the loaches who get some damage from the gravel since they pass it through their gills.
<Indeed. But in a tank with sand, you'd be surprised how merrily Corydoras pump gravel through their gills.>
The FAQs unfortunately didn't really answer my question much about what sorts of fish I could put with the silver dollars, mostly just what I should NOT do (mollies, cram them into 30 gallons...but I already knew that). Do you have any recommendations as far as gouramis, cichlids, rainbowfish, i.e. something to add color that won't be stressed by the dollars' presence.
<You really want species that are bold, too big to be viewed as food (Silver Dollars are predatory) but not in themselves overly aggressive.
South American cichlids like Severums and Blue Acaras are the classic companions, but pretty much any medium to large barb or characin would do.
Have a look at the oddball characins in particular, such as Anostomus anostomus (one of my favourite fish, and very hardy) and Abramites hypselonotus (the Marbled Headstander, a poor choice for communities, but groups look great in rough-and-tumble systems). Loaches are another obvious choice, many species being a trifle too boisterous for life in communities, but eminent choices for use alongside fast-moving characins like Silver Dollars. Skunk Loaches, Clown Loaches, and Yo-Yo Loaches are all widely sold and suitable.>
I will warn you that while I have kept gouramis and cichlids I have never kept rainbowfish successfully, and they almost always seem to be sick when I see them in stores (or incubating some strange disease). Are rainbowfish unusually disease prone/sensitive to water quality?
<No, but quality varies wildly, and not all species are equally robust.
They are also more picky about water chemistry and temperature than retailers let on.>
Thank you,
<Welcome, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables    6/28/14
Dear Wet Web Media,
Ammonia and nitrite continue to hold steady at zero in Gabriella's hospital tank. However there has been a depressing development. Gabriella (the angelfish) always lies on her right side, so I never get to see it.
Well, today after taking an online practice test I found her stuck in a corner, her right side facing me. Her right pectoral fin was partly torn off...there were blood vessels lopped off and broken bones. The base was very bloodied. She was barely breathing, and I fear she might have lost a lot of blood.
<Does sound like she's got a bacterial infection there. The good news is that fins can grow back astonishingly well, provide the absolute base (the "shoulder" if you like) isn't damaged; the rays and the membrane are capable of being regenerated from almost nothing. However, bacterial infections (basically what we call Finrot) are common (hence the Finrot name) so you need to treat against opportunistic bacteria. Most antibiotics sold for Finrot should do the trick. Infected "shoulders" often turn pink or orangey-pink, sometimes red if severely infected.>
I did a 40% water change (nitrates were around 20 ppm-I thought maybe reducing this would help) and she swam off out of the corner. She seems to be breathing more but it's shallow and I fear she might be dying.
I was wondering if there is anything I can do to save her or whether this is the end...I could add salt but I don't think it will help much.
<See above. In addition, check the filter isn't too strong. An air-powered sponge filter would be ideal. Lying on her side isn't intrinsically bad for the Angelfish, but lack of mobility could cause problems with regard to feeding and avoiding filter suction, so act accordingly.>
To be honest I feared this would come...she has been lying on the bottom for more than a month now and I know that is not how she is supposed to live. I hoped I could get her swimming again before she got pressure sores or something like that, but maybe I am too late?
<Unlikely to be pressure sores since your Angelfish is effectively weightless underwater (that's the job of her swim bladder, and even without it, water provides a lot of buoyancy). But bacterial infections can easily replicate pressure sores as we'd see them on humans.>
And to top it all off the online test crashed and gave me tons of zeros where it shouldn't have.
It has not been a good day.
Please let me know if you have any ideas for what I can do to save
<I'd go with a round of antibiotics or some equivalent anti-Finrot medication (here in the UK I'm a fan of eSHa 2000) and some attempt to get her feeding. Specifically, if she's eating, there's definite hope.
Force-feeding is an option with Angels because they're fairly big. In short, cut a small piece of shrimp or white fish fillet, 2 mm or so across, and try to get her to eat it, perhaps by impaling on a cocktail stick and
waving it in front of her. If she refuses and is losing weight, you can use wet hands to handle her (never hold fish with dry or merely damp hands), carefully pull down her lower jaw to open the mouth, then use a cocktail stick to just push a 2 mm morsel of food into her mouth. Don't push it too far, just enough to get it inside. If you're lucky she'll have no choice but to swallow, and that one meal will give her a day's worth of energy.
It's too stressful to her to do too often, but within reason you can bulk up an ailing fish this way if you're careful.>
Thank you,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables
. Hlth.       6/28/14
She's still alive after the night (thank goodness) so I think yes it is Finrot rather than some horrible blood-letting injury.
What concerns me is that I left the carbon in there, and I fear that removing it, plus putting antibiotics in the water, would crash the biofilter.
<Do remove carbon while medicating. It removes (most) medications. Do also do reasonable water changes between courses of medication. So when you finish the two or three days/doses of Medicine A, do a 25-50% water change before switching to Medicine B. It's best not to mix medications, through antibiotics are generally safe used in combinations, and often work better that way.>
I do have another bottle of Tetra Safe Start though, and it worked very well, so I could start it back up once I'm done. I previously used API Tetracycline, and I have another box. But I have
heard Tetracycline doesn't work well in hard water, so do I need to use a higher dose?
<Do refer to the packaging. Tetracycline is generally not recommended for hard water or marine aquaria, primarily because of how it reacts with calcium compounds. Do also note that Minocycline belongs to same family of antibiotics and likewise shouldn't be used in hard/marine aquaria. So in hard water conditions, Nitrofurazone and Kanamycin are generally seen as much safer and more effective alternatives (and interestingly, work rather well together). Of the two, Kanamycin is one of the all-around best "catch-all" antibiotics for skin/fin infections.>
Or should I just use something else since it apparently did not work the first time?
<See above.>
With regards to feeding, I have had success earlier holding brine shrimp in front of her mouth with tongs. I have no full size shrimp with me now, but I could get some. Would frozen krill work?
(I think I want to try this before I force-feed her)
<For sure. Force-feeding is 100% the last, worst option in any situation.
It's what you do when a fish is dangerously underweight (for example, hasn't eaten for 3 or 4 weeks) but your choice of medication has a good chance of working -- if you can keep the fish alive for another few days or weeks. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables    7/5/14

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I purchased both Kanamycin and Nitrofurazone (the LFS staff didn't even know they had them...this makes me sad that fish stores don't even know their own inventory!). The Nitrofurazone was the standard
powder-in-the-water, but the Kanamycin required me to mix it with frozen food and feed it to Gabriella (the angelfish). So I mixed it with mashed up, water-drained frozen brine shrimp and krill and tried to feed it to her...unfortunately she did not even make an effort to eat and I was forced to just throw the medicated food away after she refused to touch it for two days.
<Kanamycin is one of the best antibiotics for adding to the water, but most/all antibiotics are best if consumed with food.>
I did a full course of Nitrofurazone treatment and the final 25% water change, but I cannot see the infected fin as she always lies down on it, and I'm a tad nervous about flipping her over by force, so I don't know how I'm progressing.
One thing that is very problematic: she has developed mucus strands attached to where her fin bones are exposed. Bits of gravel, algae, and dust in the water catch onto them, staining them a gross grey color. I can remove some of them with a gravel vacuum, but they just come back. She did this a couple of weeks ago, then stopped doing it, but now it's returned. I've heard sometimes this happens to Bettas kept in poor water, but if I want to test the water, I'd probably need to put carbon in the tank again to remove the stain in the water (now it's yellow instead of orange).
<No need to worry about the colour of aquarium water, but clarity, i.e., cloudiness, can be an indicator of deeper problems.>
This would preclude a second course of antibiotics. Unless you think I could test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate with the water yellow as it is?
<Yes, you can.>
Do you have any idea what could be causing this? I don't think it's one of the skin-slime parasites because whenever I've seen it it's all over the body, and there is no evidence of cloudiness on her body.
I think a big problem is since she cannot swim normally, she gathers debris on her. I removed one of the big plastic plants to improve water flow and took out more of the leftover bits of gravel (there's so little left I can't really remove all of them without draining the whole tank) . Do you think I should move onto force-feeding her?
<Possibly, but only if you're comfortable you can do this without harming her. If she's still reasonably bulky, rather than "all skin and bone", there's no immediate rush.>
Because she doesn't look underweight or bloated. I think she barely burns any calories just sitting there.
I certainly can't force feed her the 'one tablespoon' of frozen food recommended by the Kanamycin dose.
<Then add to the water, as indicated on the packaging.>
This is sad because when she was healthy, she'd eat so much of the other fishes food that her vent would prolapse (this might be how she ended up like this)...
Thank you,
<You're definitely doing your best and a fine job to boot. For now, medicate and observe. If she still doesn't recover, then you may need to consider euthanasia. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
I waited two days after the 25% water change to see if she improves. She seemed to for the first day, but then today her condition went south. She now has a whole bunch of the gray, fuzzy mucus strands on both her fins and body. A couple of them are bloody and the fin rot infection has now spread to her anal fin. Ammonia and nitrite are zero. I did another 25% water change and then added the Kanamycin to the water.
<Not sounding good. Does sound like Septicaemia to be honest, which doesn't often get better, however well you medicate the fish.>
Do you think I should do another course of Nitrofurazone at the same time? Does this sound like skin slime disease, requiring antiparasitic medicine? To me it sounds like the "mouth fungus" columnaris bacteria (which if I recall can also be involved with fin rot occasionally).
<Indeed. Some medications treat Finrot, Fungus and Columnaris at the same time, and are worth using. In the UK, I'd use eSHa 2000 for such situations. Kanaplex is an alternative more available in the US.>
I must confess when I did the first 25% change, I unplugged the heater since the water level drops below the minimum water level for the heater, and forgot to plug it back in. This morning the temperature had declined from the set 82 ° Fahrenheit to 78°, and I freaked out and plugged the heater back in. Do you think this had hurt her, or does it seem unlikely considering it still is a tropical temperature?
<Unlikely to have been a major problem.>
I am afraid I made this mistake a couple times before, but it only dropped to 80° and I didn't notice anything wrong with her. I have a busy summer and sometimes life gets the best of me. Thank you,
<I understand, sympathise. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, hlth. More gen.       7/13/14
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Following your advice for silver dollar tankmates I purchased two "Geophagus winemilleri," (LFS label), five giant danios and a clown loach. I think one of the Geophagus is not G. winemilleri but a very similar species (altifrons? suraminensis?) They get along very well with the other fish, and after rearranging the decor a bit, each other. I added a bunch of bio filter media to the canister filter to compensate any effect their gravel shifting has on the under gravel filter. The giant danios add a bit of action to the surface, and the clown loach is adorable, but he is lonely.
<Indeed; will need a couple companions, at least.>
I removed the black skirts and dwarf neon rainbow. The only other clown loaches my LFS had for sale were one huge one with head injuries and a
bunch of tiny newly wild-caught ones they warned are prone to parasite.
<Can be; deworming loaches is fairly routine among some; do see Loaches.com  re:.>
Returning to the store the huge one has healed, but unfortunately the one clown I did buy brought Ich in anyway. 1/2 doses of malachite seemed to eradicate it w/o issues on the clown and weather loaches but I need to make sure before the other clown loach can be added.
I plan on adding Boesemanni rainbows to the tank based on this one amazing tank I saw in a clinic w/ clown loaches, Boesemanni, Severums, and giant danios. Since from my experience silver dollars and Geophagus are a lot less aggressive than Severums I think they'll be OK. Until the angelfish is out of my quarantine tank I can't really buy any though due to them always having parasites when I first get them.
Fortunately the Nitrofurazone/Kanamycin combo seems to be working. The angelfish's mucus strands and grey fuzz are receding and the inflammation in her fins is dying down. She is starting to get skinny though so I hope I can get her to eat soon.
<So do I.>
Extra: I have a 5-gallon tank I have been using to raise Gulf Coast Toad tadpoles I rescued from a dried up, construction-dirtied puddle on my street. They're all grown into toads and I released them into moist areas in people's lawns. I'm converting this into a set up with Java moss, Java fern, and the aquatic grasses mentioned in your Betta article, a female Betta, and (hopefully) cherry shrimps. Is it possible to keep cherry shrimps w/Bettas, or will they get eaten?
<It seems to vary; worth trying, but there are occasional reports of predation.>
Thank you guys so much! Thanks to you I am curing an angelfish I thought was a goner, my 105 tank is beautiful and all the fish are happy, and I know how to stock my 5 gallon!
I will say in addition to taking care of fish in my house my family also has a Chihuahua and I hope next summer to add some finches (I have volunteered rehabbing songbirds, but I have always wanted some of my own).
Meanwhile I am working on an astrophysics bachelor's of science. Nature is amazing and I wish more people who kept pets were willing to appreciate how important understanding basic biology, physics and chemistry can be to keeping things healthy.
<I agree.>

<Glad you're enjoying this hobby. Good luck! Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, disease; induced; ongoing overtrtmt.       7/15/14

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
The angelfish (Gabriella) has endured two courses of Nitrofurazone and one course of Kanamycin. She looks better but still is secreting enough mucus on her fins for it to pile on the bottom when it breaks off. The mucus is clearer (not as much greyish fuzz inside) and there is less of it attached to her fins but I have no idea how to get her to stop making it. It turns into a white foam when it detaches which collects on the bottom. The foam resembles bits of filter sponge, but I have none in my filter so I have still little idea what it is.
Could a bacterial infection really cause a fish to secrete mucus like that?
I have never seen anything like it and it's starting to creep me out.
Apparently the Kanamycin is very toxic to nitrifying bacteria because ammonia climbed to 1 ppm last night. I did a 40% water change and added Amquel but I am not sure what to do at this point. I could give Gabriella another course of Kanamycin and Nitrofurazone, but this would mean I can't set up the biofilter again. I used Tetra Safe Start last time and worked within a couple of days. Should I continue treatment?
I have heard of zeolite but I have never used it...should I try putting that into the filter while I treat her? How long does it usually last? (I am unsure if I have any basins large enough to dissolve enough saltwater
in to "recharge" it as you say.)
<Oh reviewing the many msg.s re this fish, my impression is that it has been overly subjected to environmental insult and medication. I would not treat it further>
<... please send other email topics separately. Bob Fenner>

Meanwhile in my 105 most of the fish are better from the Ich but the
Corydoras seems to still have it. He is also looking quite emaciated, and
his belly is now transparent enough for me to see dark brown spots inside
(feces?) I haven't seen the other one since the Fish Gallery's service
last Friday and I worry they might have killed him somehow (many years ago
I had a particularly incompetent person bury a fish under a rock but I haven't since).
Do you think Corydoras are simply not fast enough to deal with silver
dollars? The loaches can swim up to grab food quickly but cories seem
bogged down by their armor. I thought I was giving them plenty of sinking
food but I suppose they still can't keep up. Should I forget about
Corydoras as bottom feeders for my tank and take out the poor guy?
Also I did not remove the weather loaches because they appeared to be ok
(one of them is positively huge around 6 in. long) but should I? My tank
is usually 75 degrees Fahrenheit but I raised it to 78 now that I am treating
for Ich (I know typically 80s are better for this but I don't think the
weather loaches will take it).
Thank you,

Re: Angelfish hlth., env.      7/19/14
Dear Wet Web Media,
I've never had to take care of a fish in a hospital tank before for more than a day or two (they've either died overnight or recovered from what ailed them in a few days) so this is uncharted territory for me. If I'm doing anything wrong it's my own fault and I am sorry for burdening you.
I'm really wishing I used zeolite this whole time because not only was it difficult to cycle the tank without Tetra Safe Start, the Kanamycin totally wiped my biofilter after I worked for several weeks to make it (oddly enough when I used Nitrofurazone alone nothing happened...I guess nitrifying bacteria don't mind it). Should I use zeolite in my hospital/quarantine tank from now on?
<See WWM re its use>
I put in two whole bottles of Tetra Safe start since it worked earlier very quickly. The first bottle was a month old (still not expired) but apparently that was too long ago as nothing happened. I bought a new bottle and two days after the only thing that happened is ammonia dropped from 1.0 ppm to 0.5 ppm then went back to 1.0 ppm (nitrite has stayed zero so no evidence of recycling.) I recall the last time it worked, within two or three days, the whole tank was cycled. I guess it's not as good a product as I thought.
I put in carbon to remove the Nitrofurazone and Kanamycin still in the water, then removed it once the water cleared. Most of the mucus on the angelfish is gone (I guess she was irritated by the medicine) but is it possible some Kanamycin was still there and preventing the bacteria from growing?
<Yes; but cycling takes time.
Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above>
I really want to feed her (she hasn't eaten in a month and is quite skinny)
but until I get the ammonia to zero looks too hazardous to do...
So...what should I do (besides water changes, which aren't keeping it zero)? I can get BioSpira and zeolite easily.
<Keep reading>

From now on I'll send questions about my 105 gallon semi-aggressive tank in a separate thread. But will you be able to recall what I asked earlier about it in this thread?
<... see WWM... all correspondence is accumulated>
Thank you,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Angelfish; env. dis.

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Waited a week. No change in ammonia no matter how many Tetra Safe Start products I added (I really have no clue why Tetra Safe Start worked the first time...other people have had success with it. I guess all the ones since have been sitting on store shelves too long?)
To be honest, she's so poorly I cannot wait for the tank to cycle. I bought zeolite and started using it. Ammonia now is zero.
Should I try feeding her now that I have gotten ammonia to zero? She is
very skinny and I'm worried about this.
I think from now on I need to get just filter floss and zeolite for the quarantine/hospital tank. Carbon is just too interfering with medicine, and cycling takes too long for a tank which will have antibiotics or fish that
are only in there a month.
One thing: I bought two brands of zeolite a Petco one and an API one. The former says to change it every 2-5 weeks and the latter every 5 days.
Which instruction should I follow?
<Either... only gets used/exhausted w/ NH3 exposure>
(I put in the former brand since every 5 days seems excessive, but I have no idea if I can trust them since Petco sells distilled water for fish and other stupid stuff). I was thinking of checking ammonia levels to see how long I can wait and just use that as my change time.
Thank you...sorry for all this...
<Welcome. B>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables     7/26/`14

Dear Wet Web Media,
Gabriella finally passed on overnight last night...sorry to say.
<Sorry to hear this.>
This is the last email on this subject then...
From now on, however, I will be using that tank as a quarantine tank so I won't have issues with some of my fish becoming too aggressive after a disease wipes out most of them.
<A worthy, worthwhile approach.>
Hopefully with my new maintenance schedule and the quarantine tank I can prevent any illnesses from getting this far.
<For sure. Would recommend avoiding cichlids for a while. Of all the common community fish, Angels (which are cichlids) and Dwarf Cichlids are particularly prone to environment-related stresses, such as high nitrate and low oxygen, and these in turn make things like Hexamita more likely. At least some (e.g., Common Rams) are likely parasite-loaded right out of the box. Broadly speaking, catfish, cyprinids and characins tend to be more forgiving -- which is one reason these groups were among the first to be
successfully kept in community tanks back when proper understanding of aquarium management was in its infancy. Would also -- as ever -- recommend not adding any new fish for at least a month after the death of another fish.>
Thank you for all the help. I was not able to save Gabriella, but the illness problems in my main tank are gone thanks to your maintenance suggestions. I will always have great respect for your expertise and
willingness to help those animals most people don't have second thoughts about.
<Thanks for the kind words. Neale.>

ANGELFISH EMERGENCY...was told bob might be able to help????     6/7/13
I have a 29 gallon Marineland night/day aquarium with a penguin bio-wheel filter, a bubble curtain, and fake plants/decorations. I have 4 baby angelfish that I LOVE in this tank. (Am upgrading to 55 gallon in a month. 
I used stability and prime to successfully cycle the tank 3 months ago. My tap water ph is 8,
<High for Angels>
 and so was my tank. i started using RO water (mixed 50/50 with tap water) and lowered it to 7.9. My current readings are: ammonia (under .25....but there),

 nitrites (0), nitrates (5). the ammonia is due to a mini-cycle caused by medicating. Unfortunately, one angel either got Columnaris or Hexamita. He jerked, shimmied, clamped dorsal and tail fins,  and looked like someone drew a red line outlining his body underneath the dorsal fin. He hung at the top for 2 days (while i tried heat and salt, because i hate throwing more chemicals in the tank). I didn't know what was wrong, he was getting worse, so i mistakenly used Maracyn and Maracyn 2 to try to heal him, which messed up my cycle. My bf (trying to help) decided the whole problem stemmed from me messing with the ph, and did a 50% water change with tap water and prime only...which threw the ph up to 8.4.
<Yikes... very toxic w/ any ammonia present>
We keep trying to be good "parents", but seem to keep making things worse!
the fish then developed a white patch on his head, in the middle of his yellow stripe (which is what made me think Columnaris. but i later read that it may have been caused by Hexamita...hole-in-the-head...and actually be lack of slime). so, i next treated the fish with parasite guard and triple sulpha.
<... please; no more medications. They're doing more harm than good>

 I've also put stability in the BioWheel every other day to try to keep ammonia and nitrites out. He seems almost cured (except the red line remains). Unfortunately, I leave for a 7 day vacation tomorrow, and the tank is showing .25 ammonia.
<Hide all food and med.s and enjoy your trip. Yes; don't feed, nor treat this system further>

A second angel is slightly clamping his dorsal fin, which i think is irritated by ammonia (using prime....they've never been exposed to any). i won't be there to change the water if it spikes, and prime only protects for 48 hours. I am desperate to find a product to keep my babies safe for the week. I bought an aqua clear ammonia remover filter insert, and also AmQuel plus and NovAqua plus because i was told it would keep them safe for 7 days. i put fungus guard

 in the tank yesterday (per the instructions the tetra rep i called today gave me), to hopefully clear the red line and white spot (or lack of yellow spot) on his head, which she claimed was a secondary fungal or bacterial problem. i am putting the carbon back in tomorrow, but am scared about the mini-cycle while I'm gone! Could someone PLEASE advise me how to proceed?
<See the above>
 I leave tomorrow. I am a new forum member under kelly5978. I created an album with pictures, to help show you what's going on. I know it's short notice, but I'm begging for help! Also, if the pictures help you know what's really wrong with him, please tell. I plan to work on the ph with regulator or peat when I return!
Thank you, Kelly
<Bon voyage. Bob Fenner>
Re: ANGELFISH EMERGENCY...was told bob might be able to help????     6/10/13

Thanks for responding! I knew all the meds were bad!
<Mmm, they do have their place... but are way too often mis-used>
They've had nothing for 3 days, and everyone seems okay.
<Ah good>

Sparkle has nothing besides a little cloudiness on his tail where he was nipped while sick. I took everything out (meds i mean) with a water change, prime, carbon filter and leaving them alone.
<Very good>

The ph is 7.9. I SLOWLY (.1 every 24 hours) brought it back down with 25% RO AND 75% tap and prime. Has been for 5 days every time I check. Since I put the carbon in, ammonia and nitrites are zero. Nitrates 5. I understand they may still go through mini-cycle. My 3 questions:
1. I set up an automatic feeder (set to lowest setting). Did you say DON'T feed them?
<Yes; or just barely>

I will take it down if that's what's best. I know I'm doing too much and harming them with good Intentions.
2. Do I stop using the RO WATER? I've got such mixed feelings. 8.4 is just sooo high for angels, but I've heard horror stories about RO water crashes.
<I would do as you've been; mixing the RO w/ just "some" tapwater; the latter for a bit of mineral content (necessary)>
I promise of they're alive when I return...no more medicine. I really was trying to help. Just listened to too many people!
<Ah, my friend. In the final synthesis, each of us must decide for ourselves. Listen to others for input; but do require that they have the ability, present the rationale, science backing their opinions>
I do have an er tank now that I will use in the future if needed.
3. Do you advocate aquarium salt on a regular basis in an angelfish tank, or only when sick, or not at all?
<Not at all in the majority of systems, circumstances. Do search, read Neale's article on WWM re>
Thanks so much!
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Bob f....what to do now?    6/15/13

Bob responded to my desperate plea about how to handle my sick angelfish on vacation. I cannot find the email, and really need follow up help. My profile is under kelly5978. Bob advised me (very wisely) to put my medications and food away and go on vacation! I did as advised, and all my fish are alive and well...except sparkle. If you read my previous questions, my angelfish was clamping and twisting his fins, shimmying, had a red line under his dorsal fin, etc. Parasite guard and triple sulpha seemed to cure him. Upon my return from vacation, however, he was hiding in the tree stump. I finally coaxed him out and he ate. He has a definite indent or hole on his head (in-between and above his eyes) that is a darker yellow than the rest of his head. I hate to medicate them again, but I can't just watch him die! His tail is also jagged and he stayed the same size, while the others grew while i was gone. The rest of the fish have NO symptoms. I can only think Hexamita (was incorrectly treating for Columnaris). My Lfs does not carry metro or hex. If bob (or anyone on staff) could please advise me one more time, I would be so grateful! Do I just hope water changes help?
<Yes; this is all I'd do>
 Or start parasite guard (which has Prazi and metro as ingredients) again?
<Not a good idea to expose fishes more than once to Metronidazole. Hard on their kidneys>
Or order metro online? I just want to do whatever I can to help him, but know that I go overboard when left to my own devices. I'm sorry to bother you again, but truly hope for help!
Ammonia -.25 before water change. 0 now
<I would lower this over time to the "mid 7's"... with mixing in more RO, perhaps using a commercial (Phosphoric acid-based) pH adjuster... ahead of using change out water. Bob Fenner>
Thank you,
Re Water change confusion, angelfish troubles.    6/21/13

Hello, and thank you in advance for helping me again. I wrote a few weeks ago, asking what to do about a sick angelfish while I was on vacation. The advise I received was good, so I'm hoping for a little more advise. I have a 30 gallon Marineland tank with a bio-wheel 150 filter, 5 juvenile angelfish, a Pleco baby, fake plants, a little driftwood (recently added to hopefully lower ph), a sponge filter, and bubble curtain. I cycled the tank months ago, but recently used Maracyn (above mentioned sick fish), and other meds, and now get ammonia readings. I have been told Water changes are the answer, but the angels act funny every time i do so! They clamp fins (especially tail fins), don't swim around as much, and seem more than just a little stressed.
<Are you saving the change (new) water up between use? I'd store it/this for a week...>
 I make sure the temp is the same, and use prime. However, i am worried maybe I'm trying too hard to create a perfect tank, and ending up hurting the fish I'm trying to make happy! I'm hoping if you hear my story, you might be able to point out where I am going wrong....and help me get my tank back on track. I love these fish, and feel like all my problems stem from some little thing Im overlooking, or doing incorrectly! Here are the things I am currently doing, that may be to my own detriment.....
1. My ph out of tap is 8-8.2 (way higher than the 7.0 /straight RO water at the lfs). I began mixing 75% tap/25% drinking water (store bought, label states RO, ozonation). It brought my ph to approx 7.8 and I use neutral regulator to keep it there. I recently added driftwood also. I understand a stable ph is more important than a low one, but everything I read about angels indicates they are more affected by ph than other breeds.
<Not so much the cultured (vs. wild-collected ones). You have the former>
 I also bought peat moss, but haven't used it because it doesn't say "aquarium" on the bag, so I am afraid it's not the correct kind, and I don't know if my messing around with the ph isn't worse than just leaving them at a high one! My kH/gH are very high, so i have to use RO water to make any changes. My questions: what is the safest way to lower (and maintain) ph?
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/pHAlkAdjF.htm
Also, is it really that important to angels, or should I just leave it high?
<... I'd keep under 8.0>

 Final ph question: if you advise me to just leave it alone, how do I stop doing the RO water mix without creating a swing?
<... measure the new water to make sure it's about the right pH>
2. As stated above, I treated a sick fish with many different medicines (so stupid!!!!) and Am now going through a mini-cycle, which is even more dangerous because of my high ph. I tested the water just now: ammonia-.25, nitrites-0, nitrates-5, ph-7.8. My questions are: should I keep changing the water daily to get rid of the ammonia, or is it just going to keep coming back until I let it work itself through?
<Stop feeding or feed very sparingly... and hold off on the water changes unless the free ammonia exceeds 0.5 ppm>
I'm just confused as to how "spikes work" (i was once told I leave the ammonia until it reaches 2 ppm, then change water, but got conflicting advise from someone else). My bf gets really upset that I spend so much time changing out water, and believes that if I just leave it alone, the fish will be better off. I just need a professional opinion, which I will follow. I have tried to figure this out through research, but everyone seems to disagree on what works! So, do I keep changing water? Or leave them alone? Again, they seem more stressed by the water changes, and/or the new water, then the ammonia!
3. I believe my sick fish had Hexamita or hole-in-the head. I tried many different medicines (which I know know was very bad), and parasite clear/triple sulpha seemed to finally work. However, a couple of the angelfish still have white poop. Should I worry?
<Not at this point no... the feces could be due to the ammonia presence... THIS needs to be addressed first and foremost. All else is secondary>

4. Final question, specific to angelfish....is there any point to a bubble curtain?
<Not really, no. Mostly for looks>

 I always though it was making the water better (aeration), but I forgot to turn it back on a few days ago, and noticed the angelfish seem much calmer!
I've never seen them so still, just kind of floating around (....and now I will worry that they're too calm...geez I'm a worry wart)! I have battled tank problems and diseases since I started this tank, so I guess I'm not sure what happy fish look like! If they're not gasping, the temp is the same, they are all upright, and they all eat....I'm going to assume they are happy without the bubbles. Please correct me if I'm wrong!
<I'd leave out/off>
Sorry for the long email. I didn't want to bother you folks with 5 different emails about specific subjects, and hope it was ok to just ask them all here. Thank you for your help! I just want the best for my fish!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Water change confusion, angelfish troubles.    6/21/13

You are so wonderful for responding so quickly. The link was invaluable information, but I want to ensure I have this right. First, the white poop could be ammonia related, and i shouldn't worry.
 as for the ammonia, the fish are ok in it under .5ppm, so don't change water until then.
<Not "Ok", but better than suffering the stress of too much, too often water changes>

 Do i need to redose prime every 48 hours?
<No; not a solution and can/does forestall establishment of nitrification>
Or is that low level not lethal?
<... please search, read on WWM rather than writing what is gone over and over... ANY NH3, NH4OH present is debilitating>
 I'd never heard of holding the new replacement water a week before using.
<.... read on WWM>

I'd be afraid of bacteria, but will choose your knowledge over my intuition any day! When do I add the prime? Right before adding to tank? Here's my understanding and questions based on what I read about ph... the RO water is only lowering the  kH/gH, NOT the ph? And the lower ph is actually just unstable ph, that fluctuates, unless I add the buffer? If I am correct on that point, then am I using the correct product -neutral regulator- in my effort to lower ph and soften water?  One of your comments on a different post made me think the "buffer" is to keep a ph from falling, which is the opposite of my problem.  I know the cichlid salts raise ph, and discus buffer lowers. All i want is neutral and stable. So, should i stop using the neutral regulator until i lower the kH and ph to the correct level, and then add it to keep it steady? And, what's the best way to accomplish lowering kH?
<See WWM...>

I know the ph up and down products are no good, but isn't there just an easy way? All these calculations leave way too much room for an error on my part! Are pillows any good? I use an API master kit for the reg readings (Ammon, nitrites, ph), but I use the strips for kH/gH. My results are darker than the darkest level. I probably have no hope at lowering this ph (or kH) but  My fish ARE nervous and shimmy sometimes as if uncomfortable.
And after reading your links regarding how ph works in the wild, and how hard it is to try to manipulate a little aquarium, I'm just wondering if I'm fighting a losing battle.
 I love angelfish, and don't want a different type of fish, but I sure don't want to keep my fish in water they hate! The link helped me, but led to more questions. I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm truly trying to understand and do this right. Im sure my confusion is apparent and irritating. sorry. Are there any links that walk you through safely lowering stable ph? With which products to use? Also, would live plants help lower kH/ ph, or give me even more problems?
<Will definitely help>
After reading more, I see that I could possibly just use ALL RO water, and a buffer to create a neutral kH/gH (and ph won't matter). How slowly would I have to do this? And if I achieved it, would it remain stable? If so, would I add buffer only for the amount of replacement water? Or the equivalent of the entire tank again?
I think I understand now that kH is what really matters, and softens the water. Then, a buffer is added to keep ph stable. Is this right? What's the best way to accomplish this?
Again, sorry if I made your head spin with all my questions. My angels are gorgeous, and I truly appreciate your help!
<Take your time... read. B>
Re: Water change confusion, angelfish troubles.    6/21/13

Sorry, forgot a question....does the API master drop kit measure free ammonia? Or all ammonia? How do you know the difference?
<... use your search tool w/ the string: "API ammonia test kits, total ammonia?"... Read re Salicylate tests... IF you're using Prime, you'll want to get/use SeaChem's test for both free and total... >

Sickly Angels; FW stocking; mysterious damage to plants      6/4/13
Hi Crew.
First off, let me thank you for all the information on your site, which has been an extremely useful base in order to set up my new aquarium.
<Glad it's been useful to you.>
Here are my aquarium specs: 420L (96 gallons or thereabout), freshwater, with a large filter and a long airstone (about 30 cm). The aquarium is quite densely planted, was well cycled before introducing any fish and has been populated over the last three months with quite a bit of small fish. As it stands now, I have:
- 11 small guppies, who were born in a smaller aquarium and brought into the large one about a month and a half ago.
- 6 golden barbs
- 4 swordtails
- 12 zebra danios
- 16 neon tetras
<Potentially Angelfish food…>
- 2 small Plecos
- 1 smallish angelfish
<Mostly sounds good, though I'd swap the Plecs for Bristlenose Plecs (Ancistrus spp.) because common Plecs will [a] get territorial towards one another and [b] as adults will simply ruin this tank, pulling up plants and making the water go cloudy with their waste.>
My idea is to keep the population more or less as it is, letting whatever fry survive (one of the baby guppies is already pregnant) find its place without adding any more. I haven't witnessed any particular problems between species (although yes, I am aware that when the angelfish grows big I am likely to see some of my smaller fish disappear),
<Quite so.>
at most a couple of my zebra danios chasing after each other.
<May be females… it's the males that tend to be semi-aggressive in small groups.>
No sign of fin-nipping on the angelfish, as far as I can tell.
All of that said, here's my question. The angelfish used to be two, but one used to spend most of its time right below the filter, without eating much or moving around a whole lot. About a week ago I found him (or her) swimming very weakly and having trouble staying vertical, in addition to drifting away in the filter's current when he/she came close to it.
<How small is a "small" Angelfish? A lot of the very small specimens sold in pet shops -- the ones with coin-sized bodies -- react badly to transportation, and in my experience have quite a high probability of dying for some undeterminable reason. Do also bear in mind that Angels come from still to sluggish flowing water habitats, rather than the faster flowing streams favoured by Danios and even more so Swordtails (just look at how streamlined Swordtails are, and you get a sense of how much they want moving water and swimming space). Anyway, if the water current is more than gentle, Angels won't be happy, especially baby Angels.>
I immediately removed the fish from the aquarium and tried to quarantine it but it died during the night. Since then, my remaining angelfish, who used to be more lively, is spending most of his time hanging out by the filter, without moving that much. He still eats fine, but his change of behavior and the fact that he is starting to do what the other one used to do worries me. At this point, I'd love some advice about what to do. I've read that groups of six or more are best for angelfish, but I'm not sure whether my aquarium is overcrowded already.
<Remove the Plecs, and there'll be ample space for more Angels.>
I change about 15% of the water every weekend, but will be away for four weeks in about two months, during which the fish will be fed but the water won't be changed.
<Not a problem, so long as the tank isn't densely stocked, the fish are fed sparingly, and you don't add any new fish in the two or three weeks before you go away.>
Any thoughts ? Am I doing something wrong, or do I simply need to get my angelfish some company ?
<Unless you want a large group of Angels, I would not. Two or three Angels doesn't always work, and sometimes bullying happens. You find they're best kept singly, in mated pairs, or groups of 6+ specimens.>
The other fish I have in the aquarium are also quite active, so maybe that's disturbing the angelfish ?
<Likely so.>
Thanks for any help, and here are the water details to clear any doubts: nitrites at 0, nitrates perhaps just above 0 (unfortunately I am using the strip tests which aren't all that precise), pH around 6.8 (that's the pH of the water here and I've read it's better to stick with what I  have rather than try to tamper with pH up or similar, KH around 15-20, GH I'd say between 0 and 10.
<Sounds fine for the majority, but the pH is a little low for livebearers, even though the hardness seems quite high. Keep an eye on them.>
Also, while I'm at it - some of my plants tend to get eaten at night.
<Plecs. Even if they don't eat them, they damage them while rasping off the algae, or else snap off/uproot plants while digging.>
Still manageable, and I've been putting some small pieces of papaya in the aquarium in the evening, which seems to have worked, as they are nowhere to be seen in the morning (except an occasional chunk which I remove in the morning) and the plants seem less affected by the fish. Is this something I can keep doing or could that cause some problems ? Any other suggestions on alternatives ?
Thanks !
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Question about ph and angelfish      8/14/12
I have a tank with two light colored angelfish, 46 gallon. The ph in the tank reads 7.8. In the past I tried to keep black angelfish.
<Darkish angels are notoriously delicate;
something about the inbreeding required to "fix" the black colour. Oddly enough, they also have a reputation for being overly aggressive! At least, they did back in the 70s/80s when they were at the height of their popularity.>
I had six, but not all at once, and everyone of them died within a few days.
<A lesson there… First question though: How big were they? Angelfish with body lengths less than, say, 5 cm/2 inches are markedly more delicate than bigger specimens. The coin-sized specimens widely sold can be worth buying, but are often much more difficult to acclimatise to your aquarium than expected. So, with delicate strains, there's much to be said for buying half-grown specimens.>
Any other type of fish I had lived and thrived even a black lace which is not completely black. The LFS guy that ordered in these black fish tested our water and said that our ph was too high for any angelfish.
<Some truth to this, but not much. Wild Angelfish certainly come from somewhat soft, acidic waters, though not necessarily the same very soft, mineral-free, blackwater favoured by Discus (at least, this is true for Pterophyllum scalare, the majority ancestor of the Pterophyllum hybrid sold in pet stores). Anyway, the hybrid sort we see in pet stores doesn't come from anywhere because it's a man-made fish, and like many hybrids, it's much hardier than any of its ancestors. Provided the water isn't crazy-hard, it can do well; here in England, Angels are often kept successfully in "liquid rock" around the 20 degrees dH mark, pH 8-8.2.>
I did read that the people at angelfish plus in Florida who have a huge hatchery breed angelfish at a ph of 8.5.
<Quite possibly. It is important to realise (and many people don't) that pH isn't the critical issue; hardness is. Fish don't like sudden changes in pH to be sure, but most of the Amazonian fish we keep in community tanks are just fine between pH 6 and pH 8. For the most part, if you moderate the hardness you can ignore the pH -- I have rock-hard water in my tanks, so mix it 50/50 with rainwater, and don't really worry what the pH is.>
They said that it is all about what the fish has evolved in. I do know that the wild caught live in 6.8-7ph.
<And the rest… for some of the species like Pt. altum, we're talking pH 5-6!>
My thoughts are that the black angelfish are just too delicate and need the low ph to survive.
<Unlikely the pH is an issue, but do check your hardness and act accordingly. If you do something like change the pH directly (with commercial pH-down products) you will make things even worse because an unstable pH is even worse than the wrong pH.>
Is this true?? Thank you
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Question about ph and angelfish (RMF, anything to add?)<<Nope>>     8/14/12

The black angelfish were almost adults and I need to check water hardness.
Thank you!!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question about ph and angelfish (Bob, would you check my theory here re: alkalinity?)<<Yes, comments added>> - 8/17/12

<Hello again Judy,>
I am the one with the two angelfish in the 46 gallon with the high ph. I can't find a kH/gH kit around here, so I took a water sample to the guy that sold me the black angelfish that died. He tested the water hardness with a test strip, one of those 6 in 1 deals.
<Okay. These are trustworthy enough for "ball-park" figures like whether there's detectable nitrite or if the pH is above or below 7, but you should be aware they're somewhat difficult to read accurately and consequently not good tools for accurate measurements.>
He said that our water is very soft, (we do have a water softener),
<You are using water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium?! You really shouldn't be, for the same reason you shouldn't drink that softened water either -- domestic water softeners don't really soften water, they replace temporary hardness (= carbonate hardness in aquarium terms) with sodium salts. That's fine for washing, but not good for fish. Use the non-softened tap, usually the one over the kitchen sink, that your installation engineer probably set aside specifically for drinking water.>
alkalinity is high and ph is 8.4.
<Well, this doesn't make sense at all. Alkalinity is temporary hardness (I believe) and precisely what your water softener is meant to be removing!><<Unless the alkalinity is coming from elsewhere? Very soluble natural gravel? Shells, coral skeletons as decor in this tank?>>
He told me that my only choice was to lower ph with ph Down or ph correct,
<You shouldn't actually change pH directly, EVER, but instead ensure you have the right hardness for your fish, and only if the carbonate hardness is low, then use an acidic pH buffer to steady the water chemistry at 6.5 or 7. Normally hard water (at least, water with high carbonate hardness) maintains its own pH at around 8 without much effort from the aquarist, assuming regular water changes. Let's remind ourselves that (freshwater) fish aren't overly fussed about the precise pH, but they do need a steady pH; your Angels are fine between pH 6 and 8, so long as its steady. That your pH is 8.4 suggests a very high level of carbonate hardness, so my guess is you ARE using the "un-softened" tap/faucet without realising it.
Mail order a (liquid/drops) carbonate hardness test kit -- it's probably the most useful single water chemistry test kit for the freshwater aquarist. What you're after for Angels is a carbonate hardness between 2-10 degrees KH. As I've stated already, the precise value doesn't matter much.
Now, once you have a carbonate hardness reading, you can decide what to do.
If it's high, say, 12 degrees KH, then a 50/50 mix with rainwater or RO (not domestic water softener) water will give you a carbonate hardness of 6, and likely a pH around 7.5. That's PERFECT for farmed Angels, and will be nice a steady between water changes, so there's no need to add any potions. Easy! Collecting rainwater obviously costs nothing once you have the water butt and have cleaned up your guttering (this is how I get zero hardness water, England being a great place for rain if nothing else!) but RO water doesn't cost much if you buy it from a good aquarium shop in bulk.
Under-stocking tanks and avoiding overfeeding ensures best value from each water change (i.e., you keep nitrate below ~20 mg/l and pH doesn't drop too much). Unless I was keeping a lot of tanks or doing a lot of water changes, I wouldn't buy my own RO filter -- they're expensive to buy and expensive to run.><<Not compared w/ other technologies here in the U.S.>>
but that is not a great idea due to the fact that you have to do water changes. I have Malaysian wood in the tank and it turns out that the tannins make little dent in ph. I think that the only thing to do is accept the high ph. My question is are those test strips any good?? Is high alkalinity bad for angelfish or is it like the ph issue??
<<Both can be an issue; particularly w/ black angels, small, challenged specimens. As Neale states, best to have neutral to slightly acidic pH, moderate GH/KH>>
Thank you
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Koi Angel Fish, hlth, little data 1/19/12
These are some symptoms that our Koi Angel Fish has, it looks like it's gasping for air, lips are enlarged, not eating as much as it use to eat and it has three white spots on its gill. Thank you for your help.
<Hello Deborah. Do need some information here. How big's the tank? How long has it been running? How long have these Angels been installed? What's the water quality and water chemistry? (For these latter, you should have, at minimum, a nitrite [not nitrate] test kit and a pH test kit, and we need the numbers, not your opinions of them.) Meantime, do read:
Most problems with fish are environmental; poor water quality, wrong water chemistry, too small an aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Koi Angel Fish 1/19/12

Wow thanks for your quick,
<Most welcome.>
so here's a quick review on our tank. We have a thirty gallon tank,
<Should be fine for one Angel or a matched pair of Angels. Larger groups are risky unless you have six or more, in which case you want 55+ gallons.>
changed the thirty percent of the water two weeks ago, removed the gravel (using the net and washed it off) and put it back in. We were having a fuzzy growth on the gravel, but since we did this it disappeared.
<Wonder what that was? Blue-green algae? Nasty, slimy, smelly stuff, often strongly coloured green, black or some other shade. Often implies infrequent water changes, poor filtration, and/or poor water movement.
White to off-white fluffy threads may be plain vanilla bacteria and/or fungi, and these imply a lot of organic matter (faeces, etc.) in the gravel and poor water movement.>
Here are the levels, Nitrate 160,
<Yikes! Cichlids really must have less than 20 mg/l if at all possible, and certainly no more than 40-50 mg/l in the case of hardy species like Angels (and even then, don't be surprised if they sicken). Without low nitrate levels cichlids are VERY prone to disease, especially the dreaded Hole-in-the-Head disease and Hexamita infections. These latter can only be treated with Metronidazole (Flagyl) which may be available over the counter (in the US) but in most countries from vets.>
Nitrite 0, Hardness 150-300, Chlorine 0 Alkalinity 40-50, PH 6.2 -6.8 and we have been using 15mm of Easy Balance once a week for two weeks now.
<I'm not a fan of these "weekly additive" products. Do little of use compared to water changes.>
Our tank has been set up for over a year and the Angel has been in it almost that amount of time. The Angel was given to me so I don't know it's actual age.
<I see.>
Thank you,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Koi Angel Fish 1/21/12
So with the Nitrate levels being so high (160), do you have any suggestions on how to lower this level? Also, in reference to the filtrations that we currently have an under the gravel system as well as a whisper filtration system. Any suggestions on these? Let me know. Thanks again.
<The key thing is to establish the nitrate level of your tap water. If it's, say, 20 mg/l, and your aquarium has 160 mg/l, then the difference, 140 mg/l, came from the aquarium -- biological filtration and decay of
organic materials like faeces and plant leaves. So, you can lower the nitrate level by [a] doing more water changes to dilute the nitrate; and [b] by minimising the amount of nitrate the aquarium creates (e.g., by feeding less, by stocking fewer/smaller fish, by removing organic material before it rots). Simple as that, and contrary to much of what's said/sold in aquarium shops, there are no magic products or cures that make high levels of nitrate go away. Nitrate-removing media do exist, but they are only cost effective when dealing with relatively low levels of nitrate to begin with, e.g., in marine aquaria where lowering levels from 5 mg/l to 1 mg/l is worth doing in terms of livestock health. You'd run out of money long before these would be worth using lowering 40, 50 mg/l levels down to the 10, 20 mg/l we want. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

New Angelfish, hlth./env. -- 10/12/11
Hello Crew,
<Hello Rose and Peter, Sugam with you today>
I started a 45g tall tank in Feb, and have used your site as a reference whenever I needed help.
Normally I can find the answer I need no problem, however today I am in search of some help and have been unable to find a similar situation amongst your archives to help.
<Happy to assist as best I can>
We have a 45 gallon tall tank (24" H x 12" W x36" L), a steady 78 degree, planted, with a Rena XP2 Canister filter (carbon changed monthly), Flora Sun Light, Whisper 60 air pump, with a 24" wand and action air decoration.
My pH is 7.0, Ammonia is 0 ppm, Nitrite is .25 ppm
<this is toxic! Since your tank has been up and running since Feb, the Nitrites should be down to zero. How did you cycle this tank and what are you using to test your water>,
and Nitrate is 10 ppm. We do a single 10 gallon water change a week.
<what water are you using for your water changes? Do check it for nitrites>
Our school up until yesterday consisted of 1 panda Cory, 3 skunk Cory, and 2 bandit Corys (all about 6 months old and no bigger then 1.5") and probably about half a dozen snails that must have been eggs that hitch hiked on my last addition of plants.
They have been a great yet unexpected addition, as I do have some algae growth<.> <How long have you had the snails and have you identified the species?> Yesterday my boyfriend added 4 small (quarter size) veil angelfish ( 2 each of marble and gold, they came from same tank in store), 3 upside down cat fish (about 1" in length each) and 8 neon tetras about .5" in length each, as a surprise for me Everyone ate dinner when they were fed earlier, a mixture of crisps, pellets and brine here and there.
<That is a lot of life to add in a single day. Please be vigilant of you water parameters and rectify your nitrites at the earliest. Any amount is toxic and the new additions are only going to accentuate the problem. The angels alone, at adult size are going to be a handful in this tank and as such, I do believe you are quite heavily stocked. Do keep in mind that they are cichlids. While not as aggressive as some other cichlids, I wouldn't place them with small fish such as neon tetras. Too much of a risk in my opinion.>
The angels are swimming around at the surface, with their lips kissing the surface ever since I took them from their bag and released in the tank. I have had 2 angels in the past one <so>I know it normally takes a day or two to come out from hiding in a corner. The tetras, also seem to be coming up and gulping air here and there, but nothing like the angels who are staying at the surface. The upside down cats are hanging out behind the filter output tube/wand.
Are they acting this way because there is not enough O2 in the water, <could well be the case but oxygen levels are easily tested. I would imagine the nitrites are a major contributor here> cause I introduced too many new fish at once <also likely to add to the problem as stated above>,
or is there something possibly wrong with my water.<as mentioned above>
Thank you for taking the time to read my question, any advice is greatly appreciated.
<Please do read here regarding caring for the angelfish.
Please also use the search feature to research the other species you have in your tank. Do work towards rectifying the nitrites at the earliest and manage the levels through dilution. As for your query on oxygen levels, do secure a test kit or take a water sample to your store for testing. A rather simple guide for oxygen levels is surface agitation. Typically, if there is sufficient movement on the surface of the water, oxygen levels tend to be higher. This, however, is just a basic indicator and I do recommend testing.>
Rose & Peter
<Good luck! Sugam>
Re: New Angelfish, hlth./env. - remedial action 14/10/11

<Hello again, Rose>
The Nitrites have been 0 from Feb-until this week- we test weekly and that was the first time they ever registered.
<Aha good! Likely because of the bioload added>We use a API Master kit to test all the levels. We use our tap water, we fill 2 water jugs, let them sit for 5-7 days before adding to tank. <Good practice, letting it sit. I assume you continue to use some water conditioner to neutralize other pollutants as well?>I called the location I got my plants from... and the snails are offspring from whatever they have in their tank... all they could tell me was they were "plant safe" <Okay, just watch keep an eye on them. The reason I asked is I have had hitchhiker snails multiply like crazy in my tanks in the past. You can read about freshwater snails here - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwsnailfaqs.htm>I just measured the tap(city) water tonight to see if there is nitrite in it, and it reads as 0ppm, we did a 15 gallon water change (what we had already set out for this weekends water change, and we filled the jugs back up so they are ready to go if we need to do it sooner) <Sounds good, how did the nitrites read after?> When we started the tank in February (weekend of Valentines Day), we filled it with 40 gallons of tap water that had sat, plus 5 gallons straight from the faucet. We added half the amount of salt that the API carton called for (4.5 tablespoons instead of 9), and 45ml of API Stress Coat+, we then let the tank run/cycle for 3 weeks, at 1 week I added a 12" x 6" x 3" wood that I had soaked for a week, changing the water out everyday to get rid of some of the tannins. I choose to add the wood not only for aesthetics, and a hiding place for the fish but because or<our> pH was high, for the first 2 months or so, despite treatments, & using reverse osmosis water for the water changes it wouldn't come down. <That's interesting, likely the source water has high pH.> At three weeks we added 3 Corys and some tetras, the pH was too much for the tetras and they didn't last more then a month but we still have the Cory's and the pH has also leveled out to a 7. Since doing the water a couple of hours ago, all the fish have stopped bobbing at the surface, except for one who periodically goes up for a minute then goes back down to mid tank. The nitrite reads less then .25 ppm. <Excellent! They should read 0 so keep testing over the next few days and ensure they get back down. Glad your problem seems to be sorting itself out. Do keep in mind that the water change has likely helped in two ways - for starters, it has diluted the nitrites which, I suspect, were the cause for the behavior you observed. The process of pouring in new water has also likely improved the oxygen levels in the tank. I would be checking both the parameters over the next few days as the water starts to stabilize and age. You do sound like you are on the right track and I am certain your fish appreciate the efforts you are making to keep them health and happy!>
Thank you <Anytime!>
Have a wonderful evening! <And you>
Rose & Peter <Sugam>
Re: New Angelfish, hlth./env. - remedial action 14/10/11

<Hi Rose>This morning I woke to the fish back at the surface with a .25ppm reading on the nitrates. <Did you mean nitrates of nitrites? I assume the latter. As I mentioned in my previous email, this isn't entirely unexpected. Since a significant bioload has been added to the tank recently, a mini-cycle may well have been triggered. Are you reading any ammonia? While there are commercial products in the market that will help you bring nitrites under control and you may well consider them, I prefer to strike the balance through dilution. Have had a decent experience with some of the Sera bacteria starter products if you are inclined to go that route.> Peter was getting ready to do another water change as I left. <Try not to change too much water at once. I find it is better to do smaller quantities more often.> Besides the water changes is there anything we can do to help remedy the situation? <As mentioned above, I would suggest staying on top of the testing and water changes until this mini-cycle runs its course. Please also look at cutting down and even stopping feeding completely for a few days until you have things back under control. Don't worry, fish can typically go a few days without feeding. Whether the food is consumed or wasted, it is still adding to the problem.>Thanks Sugam!
<You are welcome! You do seem to be vigilant about the conditions and I hope things come back under control shortly. Please consider how you are going to address the potential issue of the angels getting to a size to harm the tetras.>
Re: New Angelfish, hlth./env. - remedial action 14/10/11

Everyone seems to be doing better, we did have one loss.<Sorry for the loss Rose but keep at it and as conditions improve, the fish will get better. As long as the exposure is not long term, the chances of them making it through are pretty decent.> Nitrites, and all other levels are holding. <Glad to hear it. Please stay on top of it till things stabilize.> Thank you for all your help and support. <Glad to have been able to help!>

Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11
I bought an Angelfish a week or two ago. It seemed fine when I bought it.
The last few days I have noticed it's eyes both look cloudy. They are not bulging or anything. I had my water tested at my local fish shop and they said everything looked good. I am treating my tank with Melafix as I have a Lyretail Swordtail with tail rot. It got it after a bout with Ich.
All of my other fish look fine. The Angelfish does not swim around much and doesn't really seem to be eating much either. The past couple of days he seems to hide more than anything. I have searched the net and not really found any helpful results. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Ray
<Hello Ray. Cloudy eyes that appear overnight usually imply physical damage (especially if just one eye is cloudy) or poor environmental conditions (the usual explanation if both eyes are cloudy). It's absolutely crucial you review the situation here. While it's possible the fish was damaged in transit, be open minded to the idea your tank isn't perfect. Just to recap, a single Angelfish needs at least 75 litres/20 gallons of water, excellent water quality (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite), middling to high water temperature (24-28 C/75-82 C), and very peaceful tankmates. Things like loaches, Otocinclus catfish, and some of the barbs like Tiger Barbs will frighten and/or damage Angelfish and thus make poor tankmates. Because you've got Swordtails, which need cool, hard water (22-24 C/72-75 F; hardness 10+ degrees dH; pH 7.5) it's unlikely you have good conditions for both Swordtails and Angels, so one or other species will likely be stressed.
Review, and act accordingly. Cloudy eyes in cichlids very quickly turns into Pop-eye, and that's difficult to treat. Melafix is a poor medication
for situations like this, and I doubt it'll help with Finrot anyway, so not sure I'd bother. Instead, find an antibacterial or antibiotic medication that's safe and reliable. Here in the UK, I usually recommend eSHa 2000, but in other countries you'll have other options. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11
Hey Neale,
Thanks for the quick response. I wish I had found this site and talked to you all before I bought this some what expensive medication.
<Glad to help.>
The gentlemen at my LFS sold this as some sort of miracle drug that will cure about anything from fin rot to tooth decay.
<Uh'¦ no.>
I spoke with him just this morning about the cloudy eyes and he informed me to keep treating with the Melafix.
<I bet.>
He said it would treat the cloudy eyes and prevent Pop-eye.
<Pop-eye is treatable, but accordingly to Bob just requires simply good conditions'¦ see here:
Must admit, that's never been my experience, and you may prefer to get out the Roto-Rooter grade antibiotics.>
Seems I need to find a more reputable fish shop which is kind of hard to do in the area in which I live.
<May well be the case.>
Aside from a couple of small pet shops, about all we have is Wal-Mart and Meijer. I am new to keeping an aquarium so I am still in my learning curve.
I have a 29 gallon tank. In this tank I have Mollies, Platys, Swordtails, Angelfish, a Gold Mystery Snail, an upside down cat and a Striped Raphael in which my LFS said would all do fine in this tank together. So are these not good tank mates for each other?
<Well, kinda-sort. Apple Snails rarely last long in tropical fish tanks period, so accept that chap's disposable and remove at the first sign of death. Both catfish are social species that would be happier in groups, and I'd be very surprised if you see either of them swimming about during the day. But yeah, they're both pretty good species, even if the Raphael gets pretty big and potentially predatory on Neon-sized fish. Synodontis are not beyond nibbling on Angelfish fins. The three livebearers need hard water, which the Angel and the two catfish don't particularly enjoy, and of these fish, the Platies and Swords do prefer cooler water, 22-24 C/72-75 F. So no, they're not an ideal mix, but in moderately hard, slightly basic (10-15 degrees dH, pH 7.5) water kept at, say, 25 C/77 F, I'd expect them to get along okay.>
They all seem to be doing pretty good aside from the cloudy eyes in my Angelfish that I just noticed over the last couple of days. I bought some of those test strips (which I was recently informed were un-reliable)
<Perhaps, but better than nothing. They're the ones I use, for what it's worth.>
and according to the strips the nitrates and nitrites are 0, the hardness (GH) is around 150 ppm,
<Medium general hardness.>
the alkalinity (KH) is 180 ppm
<Medium carbonate hardness.>
and the ph is about 7.8.
<Moderately basic.>
I keep the water temp around 79 F.
<Bit warm for the Platies and Swords.>
Any suggestions you could offer as to What fish would do good with these water parameters would be greatly appreciated.
<You're pretty well stocked already, my friend! If this were me, I'd prefer to keep 2-3 species really well (in terms of population size and water chemistry/temperature) rather than a mish-mash of six, seven or more species.>
It is nice to know that there are people out there who care enough to take the time to put up a site that is filled with so much valuable information. Thanks for all the help and keep up the good work.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11

Thanks for the advise.
<Glad to help.>
I will look into getting some of those books. I wasn't planning on adding anymore fish but rather returning some of the ones that were not suitable for my tank.
<I see.>
I hate that I have to do that because I really like all my fish.
<Well, if their fate is likely to be sold to a poor fishkeeper, then by all means hang onto them. Angels and the Cats should be fine in your water.
It's just not perfect for them.>
Especially my two Marble Veiled Angelfish. I have to do what's best for the fish though. It's a lot like raising kids. LOL! You are right about the two Catfish. I don't see them much during the day. I rarely see my Raphael even at night. He stays hidden inside a log. He found him a hole in there so I can't see him at all.
<Typical of the species, genus, family.>
I have had him for a couple of weeks and I have only seen him once at night. I check on him once in a while to make sure he is still alive. I have done a lot of reading online and it seems a lot of people experience the same with this Catfish.
<Yes, but they're often keeping them singly. But even in groups, virtually all of the Doradidae are very nocturnal. The Synodontis species are rather better aquarium fish. I have three Synodontis nigriventris, the Dwarf Upside-Down Catfish, and they swim about during the day quite a bit. Kept singly, you almost never see this species during the day.>
Really nice looking fish though. Thanks again for the advise.
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes (RMF, can Melafix cause cloudy eyes?)<<In a word, yes. RMF>> 4/8/11
Just one more question. Since I have already started the treatment with the Melafix, should I continue the treatment for the duration it recommended or should I stop it now and return my carbon filter to the tank.
<A good rule for most situations is to finish the course of medications as instructed on the packaging. Bob may have an alternative opinion though.>
I started the treatment two days ago and the water seems to be getting cloudy. It says to treat for seven days. I don't know if it has anything to do with it or not but I just noticed that when I started the Melafix treatment is about the same time I noticed the cloudy eyes in the one Angelfish. I read the cap wrong on the first dose and put more than I was supposed to.
<Ah, I see.>
Could this have anything to do with the cloudy eyes?
<I'd imagine *any* irritant in the water could cause damage to the outside of the eyes.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes (RMF, can Melafix cause cloudy eyes?) 4/8/11
Thanks again for the advise. You been a great help. Take care and thanks again for the site.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: hello (Pterophyllum; water quality) 12/30/08 Ammonia and nitrite are usually at 0 or very low, they were low when the angels got sick. <Do understand that "zero" and "very low" are not the same thing. A safe freshwater aquarium registers zero ammonia and nitrite levels all the time. An unsafe aquarium will reveal levels above zero. It doesn't really matter how much above zero the levels are, though obviously higher levels are increasingly dangerous, meaning they do more damage within shorter periods of time. Most tanks with non-zero nitrite or ammonia levels are some combination of the following: overstocked, overfed, or under-filtered. Looking over your stocking list, seven adult Goldfish and two adult Plec catfish easily overstock a 45 gallon system all by themselves. You can mitigate problems by upping the filtration and performing big (50%+) water changes more than once a week, but still, the sooner you fix this problem, the better. In the meantime, varying water quality will mean that these fish will be prone to opportunistic infections such as Finrot (evidenced by the red streaks on the fins of your fish). Now, when it comes to Angels in their own tank, your issues are more specific. Yes, Angels are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, just like any other fish. But being cichlids -- members of the family Cichlidae, despite their exotic appearance -- Angels are also extremely sensitive to nitrate. True, this varies from specimen to specimen, fancy varieties like Veil-tails, Koi and Blacks being more delicate than the hardier wild-type or old school varieties like standard Marble Angels. But regardless, you're aiming to keep nitrate below 20 mg/l where possible. Or put another way, the lower the stocking density, and the more water changes you do, the better your Angels will thrive. Like most other cichlids, they likely come with certain parasites "out of the box", at least where mass-produced fish are concerned; things like Hexamita. As latent, and quite possibly normal, symbionts within the gut these do no harm, but if you don't provide good conditions in terms of water quality, temperature and diet, such parasites can become serious threats to life. Note that I don't mention water chemistry here: provided your water chemistry is stable and within the range 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8, Angelfish really aren't fussed. You're more likely to cause problems by inexpertly manipulating water chemistry than by exposing Angels to what you might thing is water that is too hard and basic compared with the wild. There's no real "magic" to keeping domesticated Angels, but you do need to accept that they aren't as tolerant of lapses in water quality management as many other popular fish.> The male that I was talking about died a little while ago. Help with what I can do to fix the situation, why all three tanks got the similar problem etc thanks <Hope this helps. Much about Pterophyllum care here at WWM; have a read, and if you have some specific questions, get back in touch. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwangelfishes.htm Cheers, Neale.> re: hello (Pterophyllum; water quality) thank you <Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Angel fish, FW, dis., reading 11/26/08
I've had my angle fish for years now, she's been doing ok, but lately i noticed that she has white bumps on her especially around the mouth area, what could those be?
<Mmm, "nothing good"... tumours perhaps, maybe evidence of "hole in the head"/Neuromast destruction... from a myriad of causes...>
Also i think she might be laying eggs soon because her lower area is huge, it has been for a couple of days, this hasn't happened before she's laid eggs before and i never noticed a bulge like that.
<This could also be pathogenic in origin>
However, a few weeks ago I did put in an air pump into the tank and it is near the plant where she usually laid the eggs, do you think this would prevent her from laying the eggs, if that's even the reason she's so huge?
<Not likely, no. She can/will find elsewhere, or resorb the material...>
Another thing, when I came home today, I noticed that she has white circles around her eyes, but it's not on her eyes, and they aren't cloudy, what could this be?
<Mmm, perhaps more evidence of something going on here that shouldn't be... water quality, other stressor-wise>
And lastly, I have a 10 gallon tank,
<... much too small.
The root "problem" here is induced, environmental... too little space for dilution, stability, behavior...>
with 3 fish: the angel (and she's about the size of a large palm and I want to say I've had her for around 5 years) and 2 Bolivian tiger angels (they are about 2-3 inches long and I've had them for 2 years). Should I have a larger tank and if the 10 gallon tank is ok, what type of filter should I have, because right now I have a Whisper 5-15 filter.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwangelfishes.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner

Fixing Up My Grandparents Tank... FW Angel sys., hlth.  12/25/07 Hello WWM, <Joe> Recently, on Christmas day, I visited my Grandparents and it was sad to find out that the Angelfish I had bought them 6 years ago passed away. I set the tank up for them when I was in 7th grade, about the time when I was getting into the hobby. I didn't know a lot, and I set up a 6 gallon eclipse tank with some tetras, the angelfish, and an anubis (sp?) <Anubias> plant. The tetras never made it, but the plant and angelfish did. <Needs more room...> The anubis plant is still around, and has grown well and green. The angel grew very large in the small tank, reaching about 4 inches in length, not having a lot of room to swim. It was until a year or two ago I realized the tank was too small, and was surprised how he was still alive and well. <Might have lived much longer, better in a bigger volume> Getting them a larger tank would be hard, since they don't know a lot on how to keep the tank. <What other possibilities are there Joe? Patterns... consequences> I considered taking him and placing him in my larger freshwater tank, but it would have caused problems in my tank, and yet the angel provided my grandparents with company. They loved the fish, <... not by my def.. If/when something is "loved" the folks involved do their best to provide what is "positive to the nature" of the other/s...>  and were pretty sad to see him go. I couldn't tell what was wrong with him, couldn't see any markings, but I did notice his eye was a little red in one spot for a while, and when he died that his mouth was a little chopped up looking. My cousin said it was fungus, but I am not sure. It looked like he had "chin hairs' or something. Now we need to decide what to do with the tank. Its been established for 6 years, and I don't know if it is a good idea to dump it, do some serious cleaning, take out the rocks, etc. I figured I would clean half the tank water out and wait a few weeks in case there were diseases. <Environmental only likely> Here are the parameters. Temp 79, Ph. 6.8, Nitrate 35. I need your advice on what to do. Should I get a new tank, do some cleaning, dump it. Also, a suggestion on what fish would do well in the tank and some plants that can also cope with the low lighting the tank has. Thank you Joe <All posted on our site, "waiting" for your perusal... Including FW Angelfish Systems if you'll look. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater angel fish... sys., hlth.    9/25/07 hello crew, <Hello.> greetings and thank you in advance, I will describe the problems I have been having with freshwater angels. I have only been trying plain Jane pet store angels, not wild types etc. I have had success with convict cichlids, breeding and rearing the young no problem, and my nano reef tank is doing just fine, right now still just "easy" animals, Zoanthids and parazos and a three stripe damsel, and "utility" species, so I have a decent amount of experience keeping fish, my Malawian tank is doing fine, not breeding yet but giving it time, so enough back-story. <OK.> I have recently purchased a few angel fish, one whose body was roughly the size of a half dollar, and 5 the size of a nickle, I watched the tank as best I could. The large fish is still alive and swimming, but the small guys have all perished. <Very small angels do not travel well. Also, angels are bullies, and big ones pick on small ones. Contrary to popular myth, they aren't really schooling fish. Juveniles congregate in groups, it is true, but adults form territorial pairs. So, the classic way to start with angels is buy a group of 6 identically sized angels, rear them together, and then remove the excess fish once a stable pair has formed.> There are not detectable levels of ammonia or nitrite, the nitrates are a bit higher than i realized, the tank had previously been the home of my breeding pair of convicts, as well as some tiger barbs and a guppy, the guppy being the only one still in there. <Angels, like all cichlids, are intolerant of nitrate. The goal is less than 50 mg/l, and ideally less than 20 mg.l.> I had tried angles before, prior to the convicts, and failed then, i then tried the convicts and right away, in the same tank they did just fine. <Convicts and angels are very different fish in terms of hardiness. This is especially true with "fancy" angels, which are the ones most commonly sold. These have been selected for looks, not hardiness or behaviour, with the net result that many fancy angels are very unpredictable in terms of maximum size, disease resistance, hardiness, and aggression.> ok on to the questions, I apologize for the long story before the question. Just how sensitive to hardness, nitrates, and PH are domesticated angels? <Varies, but as a baseline, tank-bred angels are indifferent to pH and hardness within a range of around 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8. Nitrates as mentioned can be more of an issue.> Am I likely to have better luck starting with slightly larger angels? <Quite possibly. But the main thing is to ensure your water chemistry is similar to that of the breeder. As with any fish, changes in water chemistry are more of a deal than what precisely the water chemistry values are. Also, try and avoid the very fancy varieties, things like veil-tails and koi angles. Ideally, pick wild-type angels, as these have been messed about with the least. They will have three or four vertical bands on the flanks and red eyes. Marble angels seem to be reasonably robust, too. Gold angels are less so, and black angels significantly less so.> oh sorry, the tank is a 55. <Should be fine for 6 angels while they're young, but a breeding pair could easily dominate it.> I did massive water changes, using a API tap water filter prior to angel fish introduction, like 13 gallons changed out, current filtration is the H.O.B. filter I had in with the convicts, as well as new Zeolite, (fear of overwhelming the system) and a recently added Fluval 303 which I had not been using, but has carbon in it as well. <OK. Here's some comments on your filtration system. For angelfish (and cichlids in general) you need a filtration system that provides at least 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. The Fluval 303 has a turnover of about 220 gallons per hour, to which you should add the turnover of your second filter. You're looking for a total of at least 6 x 55, i.e., 330 gallons per hour. But this also depends on how well the filter is maintained, and also on what media you use. Zeolite and carbon are both redundant in a well maintained aquarium. Zeolite isn't very useful. It needs frequent replacing (weekly, really) and isn't as effective or economical as a biological filter. Zeolite is really only for hospital tanks and very acidic tanks where filter bacteria will not grow. Carbon is even less useful. It serves no useful purpose at all in a properly maintained freshwater aquarium. Doing 50% weekly water changes will dilute dissolved organics in the water much more effectively than adsorption by the carbon. Moreover, carbon removes medication from the water, making it impossible to treat your fish. So remove both the carbon and the zeolite. Instead, invest in biological filtration. Pack both filters with a bit of mechanical filter media (perhaps 1/3rd) and the rest biological filter media (the remaining (2/3rd). the water I have is very hard, i don't have to add anything for the Malawis. <Shouldn't be a problem. People routinely keep and breed angels here in England where the water is harder than Lake Malawi.> I am at a loss, and i need to know what I am doing wrong. please help, I desperately wan to have success with angels, and eventually Discus. <Whoa... get the angels right, and then move to discus. If you can't keep angels, you have no chance at all with discus.> I am at the point of all but giving up on any soft water species and sticking to the African rift lakes, central America and salt water creatures. <That's certainly a viable approach to take. Fishkeeping is a whole lot easier when you choose fish that like your local water conditions. But in this instance, I'm not sure water chemistry is the critical factor.> Also at some point, after moving to my own house rather than apt. I wish to try native fish, so albeit yes I have "Great Expectations" I am trying to progress in a logical sort of manner. again Thank you for your help, Forrest P.S. have tried to eliminate any typos, spelling errors or grammatical errors. <Well, I hope this helps! Neale>
Re: freshwater angel fish -- 09/25/07
thanks again. will add up on the biological filtration more, and get the nitrates down ASAP, and yeah the Discus are quite a ways off, figure it's always good to have a goal though, I am not thinking of discus in less than 3 years. Thanks again, Forrest <Very good. I'm not sure it takes 3 years to get up to speed for keeping discus, but definitely keeping and breeding angels for a year or so will teach you all the basics. Modern discus are really not all that difficult to keep, especially compared to wild discus. But they ARE less forgiving of mistakes than angels. Once you're happy you can handle angels and get them to breed successfully, there's no reason to feel nervous about discus. As ever read, learn, and be patient while your skills improve. Cheers, Neale>

FW angels lying on bottom, precious little data   6/20/07 I have three angels. The first started lying on the bottom, breathing heavy and stopped eating. <Very bad signs> Now and then he would start to swim as if nothing was wrong, but eventually would go back to the bottom. About 2 weeks later, the second angel started doing the same. The other fish (third angel, sharks and algae eater) are doing fine. What could be the problem Debbie Ferack <Likely either low dissolved oxygen and/or too much accumulated CO2... No info. offered re the system, maintenance, water quality tests, foods/feeding... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwangeldisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>  

FW Angel with "pop eye"   6/13/07 I have exhausted all resources and cannot find a diagnosis, treatment or answer to my problem, so you are my last hope/resort. I have a 40 gallon tank with 2 Bala Sharks, 3 Angels and 1 plecostomus. I have had the tank and all of the fish for close to 5 years and have never had a problem until about 3 months ago. One of my angels had an eye problem, it was protruding, looked like a big bubble but there was also white strands coming out of the side of the bubble. After research and talking to my LFS, angel was diagnosed with "pop eye" and I was told that it was probably due to poor water conditions. <Mmm... if so, the other fishes would show discernible behavioral changes...> Which I could understand as I had not changed the water in some time. I was advised by my LFS that Maracyn-Two would be the most effective treatment and after medicating, to remove and rinse all the gravel. <No...> I did, and angel was fine. Twelve days ago, its' other eye popped out. Again, it almost looked as though it had a big zit behind the eye because there was a white stand coming out of it. Went back to LFS and bought more Maracyn-Two and after 5 days of treatment angels eye had still not fully "deflated" so did another 2 days of treatment, then another 2 days of treatment. Looked as though almost back to normal and was going to do a water change the next day and wow, angels eye is bigger than I have ever seen it! Angel is still eating okay, just has to lean to one side to see the food and spends most of the time in one corner of the tank. My LFS thinks I'm crazy for the amount of money I have spent on medication but I'm not too sure if I'm even using the right medication. Again, your help is greatly appreciated. Kindest regards, Liz Smigel <There are a few possibilities here in terms of probable collateral "cause"... Perhaps water quality is/was an issue... I would NOT continue adding Minocycline or other antibiotic... Perhaps the one angel is "getting old", has some predisposing genetic/developmental issue... That the other angels are not-affected leads me to consider that they may be somehow playing a role here... as aggressors... If it were me/mine, and I had facilities to do so, I would move this one affected specimen elsewhere. Bob Fenner>
Re: angel with "pop eye" -- 06/16/07
Hi Bob - thanks for your advice - unfortunately I don't have the facilities to move my poor angel elsewhere. But you got me thinking when you mentioned the other angels possibly being aggressors - I think that it might be the Bala sharks. <Could be... Balantiocheilus get very large...> I've been concentrating on my poor sick angel and water conditions but never thought that it might be due to injury. My Bala have grown bigger than I thought they would and they are very active, always have been but now they are a 1/3 the size of the tank and they rule. <Yikes... need more space> I have been watching more closely for the last couple of days and they definitely seem to pick on the injured one. So, I have now finished the last of the medication and am going to clean the tank and see what happens. I might just have to face the fact that "angel" is getting old - I don't know what the lifespan of angelfish is but "angel" is now going on 6 years. <Can live for a few decades...> Anyway, thank you again for your time and reply. <Welcome... Thank you for this update... I do think aggression is the root problem here. BobF>
Re: angel with "pop eye"... Bala shark deaths    6/21/07
Hi Bob - last night while I was at work I got a call from my son at 7:30 saying that one of the sharks was lying upside down in the tank - he was dead by midnight. I did a lot of research on the internet as to "sudden death of Bala sharks" and the common answer was that because they are very active they can injure themselves so assumed that was the cause. <Is a common problem, yes> Today I went to my LFS to see what they had to say and they concluded that it was probably self injury or old age <Mmm, Balantiocheilus live a good long while... get surprisingly large... a foot and a half long... Not likely the source of mortality here> or natural causes - heart attack, stroke, along those lines. When I got home this afternoon, my other shark was lying upside down! His eyes are very cloudy! <Environmental...> I keep turning him over but I don't think he's going to survive much longer. Very sad!! Good news is my angels eye has almost returned to normal. Any suggestions? PH is fine. Thanks again for your help. <A bigger system really. Live, tall plants for psychological comfort... Bob Fenner>

Stress Is Killing Angelfish   3/22/07 I have a black/silver marble angelfish who started to "lean" to the side a couple of days ago.  Boy?  Girl?  I don't know but I've named the fish "Pretty." Pretty is about 3 to 4 inches.  Pretty started to hang by the back filter -- appears like Pretty likes the water running on her body.  She tries to right herself in a vertical position but is unsuccessful.  Pretty is lethargic and not feeding well.  The tank had a recent spike in ammonia and the nitrate level is also high with pH level around 6.4.  I'm treating the tank for the ammonia spike with water changes, Amquel and bacteria.  It's slowly working.  What's wrong with Pretty?  She shares a 29-gallon tank with a handful of mollies, 2 plecostomus (spelling?), a red tail shark and a ghost who is about 12" in length.  They've been a "family" for quite some time with no problems.  I don't see anything on her skin, scales, fins, etc.  Pretty is about 3 years old.  Please help! < The spikes have left your angelfish with internal infections. In a hospital tank treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Treat the main tank with Bio-Spira from Marineland to get the ammonia in check.-Chuck> Debbie Harmon

Losing Fish and a Sick Angelfish  11/16/06 Hello, and thank you so much for providing this valuable resource. < Thank you for your kind words.> I've looked through the other queries and haven't seen anything exactly like this.   I bought a 4 inch tall angelfish (used) from a pet store along with a small blood parrot fish about a month ago for my 55 gallon tank that has been established now for nearly a year. The angelfish adapted immediately with a voracious appetite and I thought all was well.  About a week ago my 6 inch long Bala shark kicked the bucket for no apparent reason followed the next morning by (horror) my friend's foot long, 12 year old Pleco.  Both had been acting somewhat lethargic and the Pleco had stopped cleaning algae off the glass, though he would still eat the seaweed paper I put in for him.  I did an emergency 20% water change; nitrates were at around 20 ppm, pH of 7, and no detectable ammonia. So back to the angel, previously the third largest fish in my tank, now sadly the largest, has been swimming listlessly around the tank refusing to eat. (The remaining three lemon tetras, two Longfin rosy barbs and parrotfish appear totally unaffected).  I have moved the angel into a smaller 3 gallon Eclipse hospital tank (cringe I know it's pathetic but it is established) and am prepared to treat him for what my internet research tells me may be an internal parasite.  But what should I use?  He's not bloated in anyway, just refuses anything I offer from flakes, to frozen blood worms and brine shrimp.  He also occasionally appears a bit unbalanced, tilting to one side.  I'm really crazy about this beautiful gold angel and am already distraught at having lost my favorite fish from my now emptyish tank. What should I do? < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat the angelfish with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace or Clout in the hospital tank. Feed only once a day and only enough so that all the food is gone in two minutes.-Chuck> <<A bit more explanation offered... the suggested treatment protocol is intended to address the most likely pathogens... and the water change to further dilute metabolites that are likely mal-influencing your livestock. RMF>> 

Eye Fungus Angels 10/15/05 Hello,  <Hi, Catherine here> I have a quick question.  < 1 period is sufficient.>  I have a 10 gallon tank with two adult Angelfish in it.  <What! Depending on the species adult angels need 30-50 gallons.>  A few weeks ago I thought I had an ick problem or possibly an external parasite problem.  <What were the symptoms? Could you not tell the difference?>  So I  <it's I>  bought some CopperSafe and began to treat the tank. They seemed to get better but tonight I noticed that the white spot on one of the fish's eye came back and he is beginning to swim sideways again. I did a water change, added some more CopperSafe and cleaned out the filter. I don't know what is causing this white spot to appear on their eyes. Any ideas?  <Yes. Eye fungus (white stuff over the eyes) is typically caused by poor water quality. Please check your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The readings should be 0,0, and less than 20.  Ten gallons is far too small for that much fish. On top of that, the medication probably killed the good bacteria in the tank and now you are recycling and getting ammonia and nitrite spikes. Extremely short term solution: 50% water changes daily. A new tank is necessary -- I'd also buy some BioSpira from Marineland to seed the tank and make it cycle faster.  Please look around WWM for information on angels, freshwater disease, and cycling.> Thanks, Marikate  <Anytime, Catherine. Also, in the future, please use correct capitalization and punctuation, so I don't have to fix it.> 

Angel fish I am in a bind. I have lost 20 angel fish in the past 72 hours. The first symptoms I see are a slight fungus around the eye. Within 12 hours the fish are dead. No other open wounds are seen except for one. All of the fish look like they have lost their eyes. The sockets are wide open and sunken. There is no fighting in the tank. Angelfish are the only breed in the tank. The tank was started 2 years ago with 2 fish that soon after had a lot of babies. Unfortunately for me and the fish, only a few of the fish died. Because there were so many of them I changed the water on a weekly basis to avoid ammonia buildup. Several months ago, I finally got a local store to take about 30 of them, a friend to take another 20. So I was down to about 30 fish. I continued to change the water weekly and the fish looked fine. Then I went on vacation and the water was not changed for 3 weeks. I now come home to this. pH was off the lower end of the scale. <Yikes... I'll bet> I put salt in the water I added ick and tried some fungus eliminator. With each treatment I have done a complete water change. Now i have Melaleuca CAS#8008-98-8 where do I go from here???? <Add aeration, and drip, change out the water continuously dripping new, dechloraminated water in to replace the removed water. Monitor pH, and don't feed the system anything till the pH is back in the 6-7 range. Bob Fenner>
Re: angel fish
Thank you for answering back so quickly. Should I continue with the Melaleuca CAS#8008-98-8 product (which is the only Rx I have in the tank now) along with the aeration and drip?  <Yes... with adequate aeration it should help to some degree> At present, the ph is 6.8. At least I have not had any fish die since I first wrote you. I appreciate your help. There are no fish doctors in this town only the fish supply person (who at times I think is out for a sale). Again thank you, thank you, thank you. Jan <You're welcome my friend. Steady on. Bob Fenner>

Today's dying FW angel question.... In attempting to discover why my angels are dying and no other fish are, I wondered if maybe they are a little more sensitive to nitrites than the other fish, as the nitrites were activated a little around that time when I did a gravel cleaning and water change.  I had to stop once 50% of the water was gone, but there was still detritus left in the tank-although I don't think there was a lot.  Must have been enough to cause some trouble, though, as when I took a nitrite reading shortly after the cleaning) they were about .40. < That might be enough to do it.> I assumed from the fact that there was still detritus that I must be overfeeding-although it's hard to imagine since I feed twice a day with one pinch during each feeding.  I am trying to clean a little per day, so as not to cause too much distress to my fish, and this morning I rinsed the bio-filters and pressed water out of the carbon filters themselves. The carbon filters were about 3/4 greenish and 1/4 blue.  What determines when I should change them?  Should I change one at the time? (There are two-my filter is a 330 Marineland) There was quite a bit of detritus on the filters as well, but I rinsed them pretty thoroughly and put them back.  To my horror, I noticed some detritus (sorry to keep using that word so much) came through the filters-although not much.  Is this normal?  I filtered what I could see through a net, and the water is clear once more.  I should mention that my water has bounced back to crystal clear during both water changes and filter cleanings and the fish seem to be thriving and there haven't been any more deaths.  Your thoughts on all of this? < The Marineland 330 is a great filter. I would rinse out both filter pads under a high pressure water hose until the pads are back to being blue. The bacteria live on the wheels so you can thoroughly clean the pads each time. Only feed you fish enough food so all of it is gone in a couple of minutes once each day. The uneaten food is a major source of nitrogen waste in a tank.-Chuck> Cyndy Monarez/Thomas Nelson

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