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FAQs on Freshwater Angelfish Genetic 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, Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), 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 with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables. Genetic, soc. dis. f's 6/4/14
Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Hello from Houston, Texas. I love your site by the way. I must say your advice is much better than what I generally find online and from aquarium shops and very useful. I have been keeping fish since I was three and I
have yet to see a resource so comprehensive.
<Thank you for this valuable input; kind, encouraging words>
I currently am having severe problems with my female freshwater angelfish Gabriella (I believe she is of the koi variety). Around the start of May I noticed she was listing on her side occasionally but since she generally
did it when the lights were off and where plants overhung her I thought it was just her maneuvering. But unfortunately it turned out to be real swim bladder issues. I suspect constipation because I haven't seen her poop
anything other than 1 or 2 mucus strings the whole month. I feed my fish vegetables to prevent this problem but unfortunately she refuses to eat any of them.
<Other laxative foods might help... brine shrimp (frozen/defrosted or live), Daphnia...>

The tank I normally keep her in is a 105 gallon aquarium with a canister filter and an undergravel filter,
<I do hope this gets vacuumed regularly>
and I acquired 8 years ago as part of a deal with Aquarium Environments Inc., which comes to service the tank with ~90% water changes once a month.
<Mmm; a poor routine... MUCH better to vacuum once a week... just 20-25% at a time>

It originally was given to me with a set of fish that came with it (I didn't realize this was part of the deal
initially), including tiger barbs, silver dollars, Mbuna, parrot cichlids, and Leporinus.
<Wow! WW III, IV and V!>

Needless to say this didn't work out. All I have all of the original set of fish are three silver dollars (2 were killed by the Mbuna) and since then I have been struggling to build a tank around these three.
Right now I have five Blackskirts tetras, five Corydoras, one dwarf neon rainbow, the angelfish, and four weather loaches. I know I should have more of the dollars, Blackskirts, rainbows, and cories, but I have reasons for this. The rainbowfish introduced a weird disease into my tank that caused bloody, bubbly feces, ulcers, gill hypertrophy with white stripes, bloating, and skeletal deformity, and it wiped out most of my 12 cories
and 20 Blackskirts , all but one of the ten rainbowfish.
<... quarantine of new stocks>
The silver dollars remained unaffected throughout, but they are so huge that I can't find any of a similar size in stores and I worry the small ones I do find will be bullied by them rather than be recognized as part of a school.
Enough about the 105-gallon tank, though (that's for another day...it's a long story involving terrifying diseases and nigh-invulnerable silver dollars for some reason). Now that the Blackskirts were few in number, and
Gabriella was having trouble swimming, they fin-nipped her like crazy, breaking bones and drawing blood. I set up a 12-gallon hospital tank with a BioWheel for her. I seeded the biofilter with gravel from my undergravel filter and put salt and epson <Epsom; not the printer> salt in the tank for her fins and constipation respectively. I set the temperature to 82 degrees.
When I caught her she had bloody streaks on her fins and inflammation on the fin base, so I gave her a full course of API Tetracycline, which cleared it up. Since then I've been doing water changes every two days to
clear the color stain in the water (I don't want to use carbon to do it in case I need to medicate again)
The problem is that while she is cured of infection her swim bladder issues remain and I'm not sure what to do if I can't get her to eat anything that will unblock her system. Everyone recommends peas, but she won't eat them.
I tried hand-feeding her, but she still refuses. I then tried feeding her seaweed, since I know from past experience she will occasionally eat that, but she still wouldn't eat. She swims so poorly she has trouble eating
anything, and she is too afraid of my hands to accept anything. She will be excited to see me when I walk by and try to swim upright for a while, but it exhausts her and she is forced to sink to the bottom of the tank again.
If you could please give me some advice that would be great.
<The laxative crustaceans mentioned above>
She breaks my heart, even though she has been a bully to the silver dollars (my sister's favorites) before she got ill. She has bred before, and I wanted to give her to someone else now that the Blackskirts are aggressive to her, but with her such a condition I cannot do that.
Please help.
Thank you.
<Well; the troubles are very likely related to this being a "Koi" variety (given to genetic issues); the maintenance routine and the long-standing social disease... getting beat on. This fish may recover in time; but can't live as it had been. Bob Fenner>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables. Use of frozen/defrosted foods     6/7/14
Dear Wet Web Media crew,
I followed your advice and began feeding Gabriella (the angelfish) frozen brine shrimp. She loves them and I think she may have produced a bit of feces (I'm not 100% sure it is that, though--it could be an uneaten brine shrimp with the gills fallen off). Do you have any idea how long it should take for her to get unblocked if I feed her brine shrimp regularly?
<A few days>

The rest of my fish also like them and I think it will be useful for the Corydoras since they also are somewhat more carnivorous than the other fish. I've never fed my fish frozen food specifically for fish before; only dried, freeze-dried, and people foods (like vegetables and seafood).
<Ahh; both can be good... some FD can cause constipation>
I think I'll use it instead of freeze-dried from now on; it should allow me to navigate situations like where the store tells me their freshwater gobies are eating pellets but actually they only want frozen worms.
<Ah yes>

As for the routine, it makes sense then that is the case, because sometimes one or two of the fish die when the service comes. I always assumed it was because they move decor around and scrub algae off the sides (making a lot of stressful movement) but I think it's more likely the fish are getting shocked by sudden changes in water quality. I can do 20-25% changes weekly from now on, but I don't think I can turn the gravel over completely that often because...I'm short.
<We both reach all the way to the ground! Look for a longer siphon...
Python products makes a wide array of lengths>

The tank combined with the stand is so tall I need to stand on a chair just so I can feed the fish.
<Perhaps a nice two or three level step stool:

The cover is very heavy
<Have someone handy take a look... and possibly arrange a lift that can be pulled up to raise and lower this... See here:
and the linked files above>
and so is the decor (there is a whole cypress log and several large mountain rocks in there).
<Have someone help you... to scoot these about periodically>

I can vacuum the gravel parts that are exposed, but I think I'll need the service to still completely go through everything. If I do weekly water changes and tell the service to reduce the amount of water they change (so it's not so traumatic) is that okay?
(Also the service uses a carbon bottle when changing the tank water...they claim if I do water changes of my own I could traumatize my fish by not using this. I was just going to use a chloramine detoxifier like Amquel ...is that adequate?)

With regard to quarantine since my tank is large and the maintenance schedule monthly I typically have added one or two large fish or 10-20 small schooling fish within a limited time window right after the service comes. The problem is this makes it hard to quarantine as it requires a large isolation tank and I don't have space for one. I think changing the water more often will solve this as it will make the tank clean enough to let me add fish gradually at any time of the month.
One last thing: when I test the main 105 gallon tank with my API master liquid test kit right before the service comes, I get three 0's for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
<Unusual to have no NO3 accumulating, registering. See WWM re>
I don't buy the latter one much,
<Ah, me neither>

but none of my reagents are expired, so what is the problem?
<Read on!>
The service people claim it may not register because my tank is actually one of the cleanest they've seen (there's barely any organic waste in the gravel and such so they say...this is probably only b/c the current stocking density is low and I feed my fish as much as I know they can eat)
<Is possible>
but I take their advice skeptically. I bought a new nitrate test reagent a few days ago, and I'm going to see what it says.
Also, one thing the service did claim is that my water is incompatible with my fish. A water test right after their water change revealed a pH of 7.9, GH of 11 degrees, and KH of 5 degrees. Is this reasonable chemistry for community fish to adapt to if I keep the water maintained?
<Many species; yes>
Thank you for your patience,
<And you for yours. Bob Fenner>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables      6/10/14

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
Hello again.
I would like to report that Gabriella (the angelfish) is eating more and more and is swimming more, floating backwards less when she does so. She still spends a lot of time on the bottom, though, and hasn't had much...excrement, but I think the fact she is eating more is a good sign.
I reluctantly added carbon to the hospital tank filter since apparently water changes weren't getting the tetracycline red stain/yellow foam out, and I want to see more clearly if her fins are improving. I had in where carbon would be the gravel from the main tank's undergravel filter, and I had to remove it, but I didn't want to take out too much biofilter (not sure how much bacteria spread to the BioWheel yet) so I just put in the bottom parts of the tank where Gabriella hasn't liked to sit.
Unfortunately she's changed her mind and decided to sit there anyway. Do you think I should take the gravel out, because I don't want to scrape her skin.
<Leave the gravel there>
One development that has concerned me is that her left pectoral fin base (where the joint next to the body is) has gotten really red, with two pinpoint dark red spots. Nowhere else on her pectoral fin is there any sign of fin rot or any bite marks left from when Blackskirts nipped her and I think a reason for the redness may be she lies on her right side and waves constantly her left fin to push herself around along the bottom. Is it possible a fish could injure a fin from overuse and what should I do about this? Should I add salt back to the water to prevent infection?
(There are red lines running parallel to the fin rays at the far forward fleshy part of her anal fin and in her pelvic fin but I think these are blood vessels?)
With regards to the main tank, I did the nitrate test with the new test reagent and found 20-40 ppm (my sister thought it looked like 80 but she was placing it down on the paper and this shadowed it...I think you have to hold it above of the paper). Regardless this looked too high for my tastes and so I did a 20% water change...
nitrates went down to 10-20 ppm. Two days later the service came and did a 50% water change. From now on I am doing weekly 20-25% changes and I think this should help with the one or two fish
slowly dying of mystery diseases I have had over the years since. These sick fish typically have been small schoolers so it possible they are stressed by the silver dollars?
<Some; yes>
They don't chase or bite them, and I've never seen any wounds on the small fish, but perhaps the dollars are just too big. When I had more schooling fish than I do now the service people said they'd never seen them school so tightly and claimed it was cause they were scared of the dollars.
Case in point: while changing the water I found the defleshed bony plate of one of my large Corydoras. It was emaciated when it died. I have been trying to feed them sinking wafers at night but the silver dollars
literally snatch the wafers right out of their mouths. I literally have to throw in five handfuls of wafers before they leave them alone. Should I hide the wafers in a nook the dollars can't reach?
<Best to feed both groups (in different areas) simultaneously>
Thank you,
<W. B>
Re: Angelfish with Swim Bladder Problems, Won't Eat Peas, Seaweed or Vegetables     6/11/14

Dear Wet Web Media Crew,
This might seem like a little too many replies but to be honest I have only known about this site for a few months so if you could point me to where the correct information is stored that would be great. Let me know when you think I'm taking too much of your time.
<Try the search tool (on every page) and indices? BobF>

I tried the feeding in both midwater fish and bottom feeders in different areas at the same time, but while this happened I was able to take a good look at my main tank fish, and I have been so focused on my angelfish lately I hadn't realized how bad things had gotten.
One of my weather loaches has fin rot on the tail, and two have sore gills from passing gravel into their mouths and out their gills (my gravel is the rough-hewn angular kind, and they burrow in it anyway). Only two cories are left, and one has redness on his bottom (probably also from the gravel).
Several of the blackskirt tetras look like they have bacterial infections of some sort.
The silver dollars are the only ones who don't have any problems. I think even though the nitrate levels are down and I'll do weekly water changes from now on, my fish just aren't compatible with each other or the tank decor I have now.
To be honest when I got many of them years ago I didn't know their requirements; I went with what Aquarium Environments staff at their store (the Fish Gallery) had recommended as silver dollar tankmates. I didn't realize (as I know now) that my gravel is actually pretty sharp, that weather loaches are coldwater fish, blackskirts are fin-nippers, etc. I thought since their advice sounded more plausible than the obvious perils of the original set-up it was okay.
What I ask is...where can I find reliable information about compatibility of fish with silver dollars? Looking at the compatibility FAQs for dollars, it mostly seems to be people putting them into tiny 30 gallon tanks, which I'd never do given mine are the size of 3x5 in index cards and still growing.
I checked my tap water's parameters (to avoid effects of decor and fish waste) and found it has a pH 7.6, general hardness 10 dH, carbonate hardness 6 dH...so it seems my water is moderately hard but has lower-middle buffering capacity. Who could I keep with the silver dollars (other than more of them) that also can stand rough gravel and these water parameters? NOTE: I forgot to mention the tank has Malaysian burrowing snails. Should I just forget about fish that sift through gravel and leave these as bottom feeders?...worried they'd get out of control w/o the loaches to eat them.
Aquarium Environments Inc. advertises its paid monthly service as "All you do is feed the fish," but it seems this isn't really true...
I think you should warn people about services like this...there are many different brands, and they all advertise with perfect-looking tanks in hospitals, shopping malls, etc, often full of incompatible fish. I've since found out those tanks are maintained daily. People need to know the misleadingness of these advertisements, and you'll always need to maintain your tanks.
Thank you,

Small Angel Fish, colour, hlth. 5/10/11
Hi Crew,
I have several questions to ask. I am glad I found your site, it is full of interesting and useful information. I have two tanks of angel fish. I have a 55 gal with 6 quarter to half dollar size angels. I have another tank that has handicapped fish in it. Their fins have been chewed off mostly because the place I got them from had to many in a very small tank. The handicap tank is 35 gal. I had the water tested today and all of the measures are good. Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, ammonia 0, Ph is 6. All Angels are dime to penny size. I keep the tank temp at 82 F. Now for the questions.
1. Is there any knowledge about why some fins grow back with color and some grow back clear?
<Mmm, there likely is, but I am not familiar w/ it/this. Perhaps querying on Cichlid sites, or a visit to a large college library. Do see here re searching for literature: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm
2. I am in question about the dark mark under the fin in the picture that is attached. It looks like a scratch, but on closer inspection in the picture it looks like it may be just a coloration thing. Can you tell me if I should be worried or isolate the fish?
<I would not be worried. This appears to be "natural", not resultant from some pathogenic disease>
I know that if there is a concern then I should isolate, but moving such a small fish would cause stress, so why cause stress if there is no need to do so?
<We are of a like mind>
I have attached two pictures. One of each side of the fish so you can see the difference.
3. How big are angel fish when they start to pair off?
<Sometimes as small as the body size of a quarter>
The 6 in the 56 gal are quarter size to a bit bigger, so I am wondering how soon it will be before they start this process. I keep the tank at 82 degrees.
Thank you
<And you for sharing. My survey article and our collective input re Pterophyllum is archived here:
and the linked Angel files above. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Small Angel Fish 5/11/11
Thank you for your fast reply. I truly appreciate it and the web site that continues to offer insightful information. Thank you for the referral to other resources for my investigation about fin growth color. Could I ask one more question? One of the small angels has bent fins. Should I try to clip the bent part off?
<Mmm, I would not. Though if the "reason" for these deformities is developmental, and "fix-able" through genetic determination, it is "too cruel" in my present value system to justify the pain, likely loss>
I am concerned that this break will be a place for infection, although the fish is not showing any signs of it now. I will attach a picture of "ZigZag" so you can see what I mean.
Thank you so much
<And you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Small Angel Fish 5/12/2011
Mr. Bob,
<Ms. James>
You're awesome! This website is incredible. Thank you for your swift reply as I was worried about ZigZag.
<Welcome dear. B>

Diseased angel fish? 1/31/08 I just purchased this angel fish. When I got home I noticed this reddish spot above his gill. <Hmm... not obvious in the image (despite its size; do note we specifically ask for *small* or *cropped* images, not full size ones 1.5 MB in size).> I recently got my aquarium reset up from a horrible ice storm that killed all my fish, and have been waiting for it to cycle before adding any. <Empty tanks don't cycle; unless you're adding ammonia, the bacteria are dying.> Is this something I should worry about & not introduce into my aquarium? I found something about blood spots on a www search, but no pictures to know exactly what it looks like. <No idea what "blood spots" are. Fancy Angelfish are very inbred and often have things like malformed gill covers, as with the so-called "blushing Angelfish" which lack pigment on the gill covers. You also see gill covers that are twisted or incomplete, exposing the red filaments underneath. So do check this. If the red spot is obviously a wound, i.e., a cut or ulcer, then treat proactively with a Finrot remedy to prevent secondary infection.> What do you think & can you give me any suggestions on what I should do? Thank you. <Cheers, Neale.>

The red area of the operculum is genetic. RMF.

Angelfish Lying on Side?!?    11/27/06 Hello Bob. It's Glenda again. You may remember me from the email I sent about my Honey Gourami whose stomach was rotting away (July 24). <Ah, yes> My new problem is one of my black Angelfish: Why is it lying on its side on the floor of the tank? <Not good> It eats heartily like all the others but doesn't move around much otherwise. No other visible signs of sickness but it has been so for a few days now. It first started by staying at the top of the tank behind the flow of bubbles coming from the filter. Any idea what's wrong with it? <Yes... darker varieties of FW angels have a decidedly higher incidence of "swim bladder" disease... symptomatic by this sort of lack of 3-dimensional control... Not cure-able> I am still using my 25 gallon tank but the fish are a different collection: 2 Black and 1 White Angelfish, 1 Black Ghost, 2 Upside-down Catfish, 2 Silver Gouramis (one whose pectoral fin rotted off in Sept. over the course of about 6 months. Still living happily otherwise though so I just monitored it but didn't really worry about what caused it to happen. <Could be negative interaction between the Knifefish or Mochokid catfish... more likely at night...> They are 3+ years old. Probably a small injury that never healed I guess? <Yes... and/but most likely related to the other species noted> Seems ok now.), 2 Plecos, 1 Yo-yo Loach, 3 Guppies, 2 Rainbow Sharks and 1 Albino Shark. <Oh! Or these minnow-sharks...> Once again, thanks for your help. <The one angel will likely perish... perhaps better to euthanize. Bob Fenner>

Angel fish with cystic like growth on the upper lip  3/13/07 Hello - <Hi there Kristina> I have a year and a half old angel fish in a 20g. tank with one other angel fish, which I bought them both at the same time. They have been living together with no problems for the past year. Six months ago the smaller angel fish developed a clear lump (looks swollen) on it's upper lip practically overnight. I thought this may have been cause by hitting the glass or the top of the tank at night. <Would be my guess as well> The lump has stayed the same size until this past weekend. Last night I noticed the lump has doubled in size and his mouth is almost completely closed shut. It looks like excess skin has grown in the opening of his mouth. He cannot even eat small broken up flakes or dried worms. I know he will starve to death if I do not do anything.  Also, the second fish has no physical problems and is eating and acting normally.  I still have not taken a picture but I can do it tonight and upload it if need be. In the meantime what should I do? thank you. <Mmm... I would go the route of "semi-experimental" surgery here... Using a drop of Clove Oil (outside the tank)... I would place the angel in a shallow pan with some of the system water, add a couple of drops to the water and one to the cystic area, and gingerly cleave off the growth with a new single edge razor blade... then daub the area (with a "Q tip") with a drop of Merthiolate/Mercurochrome/Merbromin (whichever you can find/have)... and return it to the tank. Bob Fenner> Kristina Marzec
Re: Angel fish with cystic like growth on the upper lip  3-13-07
Thank you for the information. Another thought: Could this be a tumor that has grown and is a result of inbreeding? <Mmm, well... all starts (and ends) with our genes... perhaps there is some greater/lesser influence here> He is a golden marble angel fish and supposedly they are frequently inbred? <Mmm... not as "much" as the jet black varieties... but... yes> If i did cut off the cyst or tumor: 1) Will it grow back? <A possibility, yes> 2) Will it become infected when I put him back in the tank? <Hopefully not... part of the reason for the application of the Mercury based antiseptic (along with stemming blood loss)> Thanks again! KRISTINA MARZEC <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Some fat lips on angelfish <HI, MikeD here>         I have looked in a lot of places but haven't seen anything on fat lips on angels. This poor fish looks like he's been overdosed with collagen injections!  He seems to be healthy, otherwise.  No trouble eating and no trouble being bossy at times.  There are 3 other angels in the 55 gal tank and they, too, are healthy. We bought the 4 fish as babies and have had them for about 8 months.  Any ideas as to the cause and treatment of fat lips?<Without seeing the fish in person or at least a good photograph, all I can do is ask a couple of questions in return and give you an option.  In your narrative you don't mention whether this is a sudden development or a characteristic of the fish that has been there as it grew, and from the tone in general I'm inclined to suspect that the latter is the case, which would indicate that you may have an aberrant gene that's shown up, resulting in a fish that's otherwise normal....this is how most of the "strains" of decorative aquarium fish originated, veil tails, blushing angels, marbles, etc., and if you so desire here's your chance to add another. Breed this fish with two or three members of the opposite sex and watch the fry to see how many show the trait, then breed these together until you end up with parents that now produce all progeny with the same characteristic and go from there..."Kissing angels", "Jagger angels" (or any other name that suitably describes their appearance, and voila!  While an infection could result in enlarged lips due to swelling, there are usually other signs that accompany it, such as difficulty eating, cottony growth on the lips, etc., which is why I suspect that you simply have a deviant gene, also sometimes referred to as "evolution in progress" and unless you see a definite sign for alarm I'd simply sit back, watch and enjoy your fish....different is not always bad>   My angels and I thank you for your help!

Curve on dorsal of freshwater angelfish I have some dark black juvenile approx 7-8wks old angelfish. There are a combination veil and standard fin. Some of the dorsals on the veils are starting to have a curve .the standard fins are fine. Is this a genetic trait (the parents do not show it) or overcrowding, water condition or lack of some nutrient? < Black angelfish have traditionally been one of the weaker strains of angelfish. They are very inbred. If the adults don't show it then it probably a number of factors. My guess is it is a combination of genetics with poor water quality during their early stages in development.> They were raised on brine shrimp and have been eating TetraMin flake and Spirulina the last 10 days. Also there is this reddish brown slime algae looking substance on the glass and sponge filters, What is it and could this possibly cause the problem?  Help < Algae is a sign of too much light and excessive nutrients in the water. It could be nitrates or some other mineral. My guess is when the water quality is good enough not to encourage algae then the fish will have better finnage  on your fish as they develop. Try  checking the ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be as low as possible for you developing fish. You remove these factors when you do regular water changes and service the filter often.-Chuck> Thanks Heidi

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