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FAQs on Platy Diseases/Health 6

FAQs on Platy Disease: Platy Disease 1, Platy Disease 2, Platy Disease 3, Platy Disease 4, Platy Disease 5, Platy Health 7, Platy Health 8, Platy Health 9, Platy Health 10, Platy Health 11, Platy Health ,
FAQs on Platy Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: Platies, Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Platies 1, Platies 2, Platy Identification, Platy Behavior, Platy Compatibility, Platy Selection, Platy Systems, Platy Feeding, Platy Reproduction, Livebearers, Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/10/10
One last point of potential interest. I have been leaving the tank dark for most of the day. I was told that the medications and supplemental bacteria are more effective in a dark tank.
<Nope. Again, your retailer exhibiting skill at marketing to the uninformed rather than offering useful advice. Antibiotics will work regardless of light intensity. Carbon, on the other hand, will remove many medications from the water, so if you use carbon, you have to remove it from the filter. Did your retailer mention that?>
I have had the light on for about one hour in the morning while feeding, then off to add life bearer and bacteria, then on for a couple of hours late afternoon/early evening then off to add antibiotic.
<Couldn't make the least difference.>
Again, thanks for your help.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Fwd: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/10/10
Hi Neale,
My original message is below. Thanks again and cheers.
<Diana, you sent 32 (!!!) images and I really don't have the time to go through them all. Please, send one or two that are germane to the issue at hand, and I'd be happy to examine it. Nonetheless, my basic argument
stands. This tank of yours is far too small for the livestock being kept, and in the case of the Platy, some combination of Finrot, Fungus and/or Columnaris is to blame. These three diseases are caused by chronically poor water quality, so I'd urge you to review the needs of Platies, and act accordingly. If euthanasia is appropriate, do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/10/10
Thank you Neale, your responses are very helpful. I have a feeling, though, that you may not have received my original email regarding my poor sick fish and the attached pictures. I've got your thoughts on my supplemental
emails but not yet on the real problem-namely my platy with no mouth and his chance for survival. I have resent it.
Thanks again,
<It's the tank! The tank! It's too small! The fact the fish has mouth fungus (Columnaris, actually a bacterial infection) is incidental to the fact a tank this small cannot provide the right water quality (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite) and stable water chemistry (for Platies, pH 7.5, 10+ degrees dH) that the fish needs. If the fish has no mouth and can't eat, then yes, euthanasia is appropriate. But killing fish that don't survive in this tank won't fix the fundamental problems. Anything else in there will, eventually, go the same way as this Platy. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. - 2/10/10
Dear Neale,
<Hello Diana,>
I have read through your website extensively looking for help with my situation. While I didn't find exactly what I was looking for I did notice that most readers asked questions while giving you little or no practical information (i.e. water reading, photos, etc.). So, as not to waste your time I tried to be thorough and give you what I had hoped was helpful data so that you could assess my situation accurately. In trying to do this it appears that I have done just the opposite as evidenced by your response below. I am sorry.
<It's okay. But we do have limited e-mail space, and if folks send 32 images, as you did last time, or 3 MB of images, as you did this time, cause problems for other people. If the e-mail space is used up by one message with lots of photos, then other peoples' messages get bounced back. So it's not about me being crotchety, but more about making this a level playing field for everyone. We do ask for people to send around 500 KB
images, right on the page where our address is listed.>
I have attached two images, one of my frog and one of my platy.
Water readings today: 7.0ph, 0ppm nitrite, 0ppm ammonia, temp 80 deg.
<A little warm for Platies, and the low pH suggests a low hardness, and that's crucial for Platies. Check what the hardness is, and if necessary, harden the water.>
No carbon filter.
I just do not see how the sick platy can possibly survive and after reading the article you sent I may decide to put him down today. That leaves me with just the two seemingly healthy fish.
<For now.>
I understand now that the tank is too small for what is living in it.
I was obviously misinformed by the place that sold me the creatures.
<The "misinformed" bit is the key. As I've stated, and as I'm sure you know deep down, you don't buy pet animals without at least reading one book beforehand. Any aquarium book would tell you what Platies need in terms of
aquarium size, water chemistry, and temperature.>
But, this is what I have and I would like to try to give them the best care possible in a tank that is healthy.
<Hmm... unfortunately, life doesn't work this way.>
Until this tragedy they had all coexisted nicely for over a year.
<Indeed. While the fish are small, the loading on the filter and water buffering capacity isn't too great. But a threshold point comes where the fish have grown so big the filter and aquarium capacity aren't enough.
Conditions start to go bad, the fish become more and more stressed, and then various diseases get established.>
So, in that spirit, can you advise me as to what to do next?
<I'd be lying if I told you there was a solution. With the best will in the world, a 5 gallon tank isn't adequate for Platies. Sure, more frequent water changes will help, and check the water hardness (especially carbonate hardness) will go towards keeping pH stable. But still... it's little boy's finger in the leaking dyke.>
Should I give the two Platies back to the store
that sold them to me and keep only the frogs?
<If you really want to keep this 5 gallon tank, then perhaps.>
Thanking you again,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/11/10
Dear Neal,
Thank you again for your help. My sick platy has died and I have a few questions about how to proceed.
<I'm sorry he died.>
1. I am inclined to return the two other Platies to the store and keep just the frogs and snails in my tank.
I am assuming I should continue to treat the tank with the full 12 day supply of antibiotics (tonight will be treatment #6) before doing so.
<I'd stop treating if none of the other fish have symptoms of disease. Overuse of medications can cause problems of their own, and since Finrot-type infections are opportunistic and latent in all aquaria, it's not like you can "kill off" the disease in any meaningful way. In other words, prophylactic treatment is pointless.>
2. Should I continue treating with the Life Bearer medication? If so for how long? (none of the surviving creatures are exhibiting signs of fungus or protozoa but the platy with the mouth infection who died did)
<Only medicate if fish show symptoms of disease. If they don't, don't medicate.>
3. When should I start water changes? Immediately or after treatments stop? Should I change the filter material and reintroduce charcoal?
<Water changes should be regular and as frequent as possible. It's wise to do a 25% water change when you stop medicating, primarily because during treatment you're not usually allowed to do water changes. But medications
typically get broken down within a day, so the idea you need to flush them out is a bit misleading. In any case, yes, do a water change tonight, and then get back to the normal 25-50% water changes per week. Do review how
filters work. Changing biological media (e.g., sponges) is hazardous because you throw out the filter bacteria, so normally you should simply rinse them off in a bucket of aquarium water, and then put back in the filter. Only mechanical media (e.g., pads of filter floss) and chemical media (e.g., charcoal) need to be replaced. In most freshwater tanks, charcoal is redundant. So unless you have a problem with yellowing water or rapid pH drops, I'd forget about carbon, and focus on biological media.>
4. When can I give the tank a light cleaning? (plant pruning, algae scrubbing, substrate vacuum etc.) I haven't wanted to disturb my fish while they were healing and the tank looks a little worse for wear.
<Clean whenever you want. It's a good idea to stir the gravel with a pencil or chopstick just before you siphon out some of the water, so you can slurp away some of the detritus.>
Thank you for your guidance,
<Happy to help.>
PS Per the question I had asked about my frog who looked like he was turning white - he shed his skin. Found a perfect empty little frog shaped skin floating in the tank this morning. Looked a bit like a frog wet suit.
<This isn't at all normal. While they do shed small sheets of skin all the time, shedding a lot of skin tends to suggest irritation. It's like comparing the little bits of skin we lose every day to an all-over sunburn!
Or more accurately, it's a way aquatic frogs deal with toxins and parasites in the water. Not fatal or even dangerous in itself, but if a frog is forced to react this way repeatedly, it's stressful. So while I wouldn't lose any sleep just yet, if the frog keeps shedding skin, review water quality and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Thank you.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  2/11/10
Dear Neale,
One last set of questions and I think I will be all set:
<By all means.>
I did a 50% water change today, replaced the filter pad, trimmed up the plants, scrubbed the algae, "vacuumed" the sand and added some beneficial bacteria.
<Why? Why? There's really no such thing as a potion that adds beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are there already; they're either happy or they're not. It's really up to you to create the favourable conditions. Please please please save your pennies for a bigger tank, rather than wasting it on stuff you don't need.>
Everyone seems to be doing well.
I had added 3 teaspoons of salt to the tank last week during the first 3 days of medication. I added 1 teaspoon today when I changed the water. So I have about 2.5 teaspoons of salt in the 5 gallon tank presently.
<Again, why? Salt brings nothing useful to this system. Have a read here:
Salt is one of those things shops will happily sell, but hardly any beginners have a clue about what it can do.>
I have read WWM that Platies love salt in their water but frogs not so much.
<Platies tolerate salt; they don't love it. There's a big difference. I tolerate girlfriends who smoke, but I don't smoke myself. So it is with your Platies; they'll put up with salt at low doses rather better than most other fish, but they don't come from brackish water habitats. At this trivially low salinity, the salt won't inhibit Finrot or Fungus; to do
that, you'd need enough salt to kill the frogs (or at least severely stress them). So you're doing something here with no benefits and plenty of risks.>
Should I add more salt or am I good?
<"Good" isn't the word I'd use. Diana, please take this in the spirit of helpfulness in which it is meant: you're reacting, but you're not understanding. It's time to sit back, read a book on frog or fishkeeping, read through some of the articles I've sent you to, and try to understand what's going on. Once you understand the situation, you'll be able to care for these animals rather better.>
Also, I am slowly reducing the temp of the tank. What would the ideal temp be for the Platies and frogs while they are sharing the tank?
<25 C.>
Once I am sure the Platies are indeed healthy I will be returning them to the store. Once they are gone and I have only frogs in the tank what is the proper temp and should I discontinue any use of salt?
<Yes, stop with the salt already.>
Thanks again for your help. You have been very patient with me and I am grateful for your advice.
<I am always pleased to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. 2/23/2010
Dear Neale,
Diana here again. My second Platy has passed away.
<Oh dear.>
I am now down to one platy who has started to show signs of the same mouth condition that killed my first and I am not sure how to treat it this time around. Last time I treated the tank with a combo of Life Bearer and Metronidazole on a daily basis for 8 days.
<Do water changes when medications are done. Remember not to use carbon while medicating, but you can use carbon when "cleaning up" after medicating to mop up any remainder.>
Tank now has one platy and two ADFs.
PH 7.2, Nitrate 0ppm, ammonia 0ppm,
<Good. pH a bit low for Platies, but depends rather more on the hardness than anything else. Platies hate soft water.>
temp 77 degrees
<Bit warm for Platies, to be honest, but shouldn't kill them.>
After initial 50% water change I have performed two 20% water changes and added no salt.
In addition I have purchased a gravel vacuum and have been cleaning small patches of the sand on the bottom during these changes.
<All good.>
I have also added a BioMax filter insert.
<Not really sure what BioMax might be... some type of biological filter media? That's good.>
Thanks again,
<Happy to help.>
PS So far my frogs appear to be holding up although they are hiding more and eating less than in the past. Understandable considering everything this tank has been through in the last month.
<Yes, indeed.>
I am feeding them every other day at this point to reduce the waste.
<Is ample of Hymenochirus spp. Stick a thin slice of cucumber in the tank for the Platy to peck at; this'll provide some energy, but without much protein, so water quality won't be harmed. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 2/23/10
Thank you Neale.
<My pleasure.>
Yes, you are correct, BioMax is a biological filter material. Figure this will allow me to change the flossy pad (and all the fish poop that it collects) without throwing out my bacteria colony at the same time.
<Yes; ceramic media lasts ten years or more, especially if rinses regularly to keep the pores from becoming irredeemably clogged.>
Are you recommending that I repeat the same round of medications for this fish that I did for the others that died (Life Bearer and Metronidazole)?
<No, wouldn't do any more medicating. Would suggest sitting back, leaving things to stabilise for now.>
Or, is there another course that you feel would be more beneficial? And, if you are recommending the same course, should the two meds be administered at the same time or one in the morning and one at night?
<Shouldn't make any difference when in the day you dose. But do follow the instructions on the packet.>
Will slowly drop the water temp a bit to 75 degrees and am off to purchase a water hardness kit today.
<Cool. If you have hard water, you probably know, because the kettle furs up and the washing machine needs water softener, like Calgon, added to each load. If you have a domestic water softener, don't use that water in the
tank, but rather the unsoftened water from the drinking water tap (it's usually recommended you don't drink softened water).>
So grateful for your advice!!
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Thank you. I do not have high hopes after seeing what happened to platy #1 with the cotton mouth, it looked like a very painful ailment.
<Certainly stressful.>
And, platy #3 is already having a hard time eating, if he is even eating at all.
<Wouldn't push it. Fish can go a couple of weeks without food, no problems.
Much better to focus on water quality.>
I will add the cucumber and will wait and see with my fingers crossed.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
This is silly but...
1. Should I peel the cucumber (I am thinking yes) or do they like the peel?
<Makes no odds.>
2. should I anchor it to something or let it float?
<I use lead weights to hold it down. But Platies will peck at floating cucumber, too.>
3. how often do ADFs need to eat? Should I be feeding them daily or a couple of times per week?
<"A little, but often" is a good approach. Daily if you want, but not too much, and their bellies should be gently convex, never swollen.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
BioMax is the ceramic rings layer in Hagan's AquaClear Power Filter (top layer) and also Fluval.
<Would seem to be the case. Thank you.>
I'm glad I got a chance to write because I wanted to offer you what our NASCAR drivers often take in times of stress:
<Yikes! Sometimes I need the industrial strength alternative though... there are only so many sick Bettas a guy can read about without needing a (very) stiff drink.>
It'll make you an honorary Southerner.
<My mom, Chicago girl that she was, would be horrified at the thought. But the sentiment is much appreciated!>
Charlotte, NC
<Take care, and thanks for writing! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Once again thank you. You are a wonderful source of information, as is WWM!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 02/25/10
Dear Neale,
<Hello again Diana,>
Well, just when I thought I had gotten everything squared away...here I am asking for your help once again.
As promised I purchased a water hardness kit today, and I am glad I did!
And, after reading the results I am beginning to see where things started to go terribly wrong (above and beyond having too many fish in my tank which I now know was the heart of my problem).
My temp is 75 degrees, ph is 7.2, ammonia and nitrite still 0, GH is 196.9 and the KH is off the chart!
<In itself, hard water isn't bad. Hard water fish -- such as livebearers, Rainbowfish and shell-dwelling cichlids -- will love this "liquid rock". On the other hand, there are soft water fish -- like Neons and Rasboras -- that wouldn't like it at all. Here in Southern England liquid rock just like this is very common, and not an impediment to successful fishkeeping.
But you do need to be careful about what fish you choose.>
And when I say off the chart I mean it - the highest the chart measures is 12 drops of solution to change the water from green to yellow. It took 28 drops for me to accomplish the color change with my sample of tank water.
I tested my tap water and it turned in 3 drops - 53.7.
<Okay, so while your tap water is fairly soft, your aquarium water has been much hardened. This would mean you've added something to the water in the tank. On the whole I recommend against that unless you know precisely what you're doing and why. If your tap water is soft, it's best to choose fish that like soft water, and simply do regular water changes (25% weekly is fine) and largely ignore water chemistry. It really depends on what sort of fishkeeping you want to do. If you just want a tank of pretty fish for minimal effort, then test your tap water, determine whether it's hard or soft water, and then choose either hard or soft water species. If you want to keep specific types of fish, perhaps because you want to breed them, then you may need to adjust the water chemistry to match the requirements of that species. That's usually harder work, so something most hobbyists are better off avoiding.>
So I started thinking about what could be in that tank to cause such a situation when I remembered that a while back I asked my fish guy why all of my snails had thin shells with holes in them - he suggested low calcium in the water and gave me some crushed coral to put in the tank. It was not long after that I started losing my snails, then my algae eater, then my 2 Platies.
<If you mess about with water chemistry, and don't fully understand what you're doing, it is possible to stress or kill your livestock.>
I have picked out as much of the coral that I can find and will continue to remove any pieces that pop up during future cleanings.
Additionally, I have been using Neutral Regulator to condition my water (again as instructed by my fish guy - rather my ex fish guy), which has been keeping my ph in the 7.0 range - not knowing then as I do now that my fish prefer a higher ph.
<Now, this is where the wheels come off the wagon. It's actually quite difficult to create an aquarium that's all things to all fish. Much better is to choose fish that match the water chemistry of your tap water, and therefore avoid having to add anything to the tap water other than water conditioner (I will remind you and other readers to avoid using water from a domestic water softener because of its rather odd water chemistry).>
My question is this, what do I do now to get my water hardness squared away in my tank.
<I'd do two things. Well, three really. First is establish your local tap water chemistry. If I read your message right, your tap water has fairly low General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness; see the charts on the linked page to compare your readings against these descriptions:
If you have water that isn't too hard, anything from "soft" to "moderately/slightly hard" then you can keep a wide range of species including tetras, barbs, loaches, South American cichlids, gouramis and catfish. If the water is "hard" or "very hard", then you're better off with livebearers, goldfish, Rainbowfish, Malawian cichlids, Central American cichlids, Tanganyikan cichlids, and "critters" such as frogs, shrimps, and snails.>
I have found a lovely new aquarium supply store who has sent me home with the following:
Water conditioner with no ph corrector ("Superbac")
African Cichlid Conditioner ("Nutrafin")
<The first product is useful, though no more or less so than any other water conditioner. All you want from water conditioner is that it removes chlorine, chloramine, copper, and ideally ammonia (from agricultural run-off rather than your fish). Not really sure why you need African cichlid conditioner since you're not keeping any African cichlids, are you?>
How do I proceed with increasing water hardness and ph without shocking the %#$@ out of my tank. And, do I need to increase both KH and GH?
<Go slowly. Do 25% water changes once a week, and let the water chemistry change that way. After a month, the tank should essentially have the same water chemistry as your tap water. Since this is fairly soft, that's ideal for soft water fish. I'd rehome the Platy and the frog if at all possible, since neither is likely to do well in soft water. Both prefer hard water.
If you explain to the nice man at the new pet store what the situation is, it may well be that you'd be able to swap these chaps for something appropriate to a soft water aquarium, like half a dozen Neons.>
Also since my tank holds 1 platy and 2 ADFs what should my water hardness and ph be to make both kinds of creatures happy.
<Now this is the tricky bit. To keep Platies happy, you need moderately hard water, let's say about 10 degrees dH (178 mg/l calcium carbonate) with a pH around 7.5. If your tap water is substantially below that, Platies simply won't thrive.>
Last but not least I have purchased flaked Spirulina to feed my platy and some moss to attach to a piece of bog wood that I going to add to the tank (have boiled it for hours and have been soaking it for weeks to try to get rid of the tannin). I saw on WWM that my platy might enjoy snacking on the moss and I know my frogs will love having the hiding place.
<Certainly the frog will enjoy the hidey-hole. As for the Platy, the Spirulina will certainly be appreciated, and they do like eating the algae and detritus that accumulates in moss.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
PS I explained to my new fish guy the tank struggles I have had recently.
You should have seen his face when I told him that I am going about rectifying this latest round of illness by stabilizing the tank and improving my water quality rather than medicating the tank to death. It was as if someone finally got it - then he gave me two thumbs up and a high five. Thank you for your support!!
<Sounds like you've made a new friend there! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
Good morning Neale,
<Good evening Diana,>
I wish I were writing with better news but I am not.
<Oh dear.>
My lone male platy is showing no signs of improvement and is in fact slowly getting worse.
<I see.>
Like the first platy to die this one's mouth is becoming increasingly infected and is virtually disintegrating day by day.
<This is likely Columnaris, what is sometimes called Mouth Fungus. It's notoriously difficult to shift once severe, but should respond to Finrot treatments early on. Is the Platy by itself or with other Platies? I can't remember. If it is, or with other livebearers, salt can significantly slow down the progress of this infection, allowing medications to work in time.
Up to 10 ppt (10 grammes per litre) is recommended and widely used on fish farms where tilapia are being reared, but I'd go with half that for now.
Anyway, you do need non-iodised salt, but apart from that restriction, even cooking salt will do. Raise the salinity slowly, across a few hours. How much to add? Work out the capacity of your tank in litres. Let's say it's a 100 litre aquarium. Make up a jug of warm water with 6 grammes per litres, i.e., 100 x 6 g = 600 g for the 100 litre aquarium. Over the course of the day, dribble in some of this brine a bit at a time, maybe 10-15% at a time, with about an hour in between. By the time you're done, you'll have added all the salt you needed. This will be pretty gentle on both fish and filter.>
He has not eaten since we started this conversation (week or so). He constantly trolls the surface of the water as if he is looking for food. I have offered cucumber, lettuce and Spirulina but I just don't think he is able to nibble or swallow anything. In fact, I am not sure he can even move his mouth any longer.
<May well be the case. After treatment should improve, if the bacterial infection goes away.>
Is it kind at this point to continue to wait and see?
Sadly I am feeling that he is too far gone to recover.
<Hard to say from the photo you've sent me... too small. But if you can see the bones of the mouthparts, yes, it's probably fair to say this isn't likely to heal.>
Water parameters are stable, temp 74 degrees, Ph is 7.4, ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, GH 5, KH 23, performing 25% water changes bi-weekly, no salt.
<Carbonate hardness is really 23 degrees KH? Or 23 mg/l? If the latter, that's VERY low, if the former, that VERY high.>
My frogs are loving the bog wood but it is growing slime, which I know from your website is not dangerous just unsightly.
<Yes, and largely inevitable if the wood hasn't been cured properly. Fungi break down the remaining organic matter. Eventually clears up. Fungus is off-white to grey threads, very different to the blue-green algae that form coloured (green, blue, red, black) slimes.>
I am trying my best to vacuum the slime off when I change the water but it isn't very effective. I am frustrated about this condition as I boiled the wood for over 6 hours and soaked it for over a week.
<Seriously, it takes at least 6 months to cure wood, so sticking freshly cut wood into an aquarium always produces slime. Wood sold in aquarium shops should be fully cured: if it isn't, I'd take it back.>
However, within days of wrapping it with the moss and placing it in the tank - slime. Will this slime eventually stop
or should I remove it, cure it some more (perhaps in the tank of my toilet), reattach the moss then replace it in the tank?
<Could do this too. But until the organic matter is consumed, fungus will keep coming back. If blue-green algae, that's something else entirely, and caused by other things, typically slow water movement and direct sunlight, coupled with high nitrate levels.>
I hope you are enjoying your weekend.
<So far, so good!>
We are having a glorious day and a nice break from the rain here in San Francisco.
<Making me jealous. It's freezing cold, grey, and wet here in England.>
<Cheers indeed, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
I have a 10 gallon tank. My platy is the sole surviving fish but shares the tank with a number of plants and 2 ADFs.
<The frogs WILL NOT tolerate the salt. So this isn't an option without moving them someplace else.>
I will do conversion for salt. Should I leave the frogs in the tank?
The plants?
<They will be fine.>
Or, should I set up a hospital tank (it would be un cycled)
<Good money after bad, to be honest. Better to save your pennies for a 20 gallon tank, which is the minimum I recommend for casual (i.e., easy) fishkeeping, and reserve the 10 gallon tank for hospital/quarantine purposes.>
Should I increase temp a bit or leave it at 74 degrees?
<Leave as is.>
KH is 23 degrees due to coral that was in the tank. Has since been removed and I am hoping it will Decrease over time with water changes. Tap KH is 8 degrees.
<The latter is much better, healthier.>
Thanks again. Have a nice evening.
<You too.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
I don't have anywhere to move my frogs other than a 5 gallon tank that I already own which would have to be set up from scratch for them to live in for the time being (I suppose I could fill it 1/2 way with water from their existing tank which would leave each tank with about 2.5 gal).
<A 5-gallon tank would, for the short term, do for a couple of Dwarf Frogs.
Mature the tank "instantly" by using some of the biological media from the existing aquarium in the filter you place in the 5-gallon tank.>
As an alternative can I treat the platy with the fin rot meds and no salt without removing the frogs?
<Absolutely. All the salt does is slow the bacteria down, making treatment easier. It isn't by any means essential. But do choose a medication that treats Columnaris, and ideally one that treats Fungus and Finrot too, to avoid problems with misdiagnosis (the three diseases often looking very similar). Among US aquarists, Seachem KanaPlex has a good reputation in this regard. Don't get mislead into buying tea-tree oil medications that purport to treat all these diseases, as such products are too unreliable.
Do remember to remove carbon, if used, from the filter while medicating.
Almost bedtime here in England, so signing off for now Diana. So good luck!
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
Thank you Neal. One last quickie. If I move the frogs do you suggest I use some of the current tank water plus filter from tank or new water treated for chlorine and biological material from the tank filter.
<The bacteria are in the filter media. Moving mature media from an old tank to a new tank is a good idea. Water itself carries little in the way of bacteria, so is neither here nor there. It's a fine idea to put some old water in the new tank simply to moderate any water chemistry changes (if you think such things probable) but in terms of water quality (i.e., ammonia and nitrite levels) "old" water has little impact.>
Sent from my iPhone
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   2/28/10
Thanks Neale. Good night.
<It was indeed! Thanks, Neale.>
Re: African clawed frogs...   2/28/10
Neale, Just wanted to thank you for helping me get through my cycling drama.
<You are most welcome.>
My clawed frogs are happily swimming in a cycled 20 gallon low. They are spoiled with a diet of earthworms, frozen bloodworms, ghost shrimp, feeder guppies,
<Would avoid these "parasite bombs".>
super worms and crickets. I usually take one or two days off a week from feeding if I see their bellies bulging.
<Are these Xenopus frogs? These are VERY easy to overfeed, and it's often recommended they are fed just 2-3 times per week.>
Just added a nice little clump of hornwort last week for them also.
Anyway, my question is about my new 20 gallon low which is currently fishless cycling. I have read your article and many FAQ about African dwarf frogs and was wondering about a few more options as to tankmates. I am adding 2 dwarf frogs, 5-6 Danios, and 5-6 small Corys (Green or Bronze?).
<Xenopus frogs are (VERY) predatory and prefer cool water, so are best kept alone. Hymenochirus are tiny little things and can be kept with small, gentle fish like Kuhli loaches and Hatchetfish that wouldn't steal food or nip them as the frogs swum to the surface. But generally with amphibians, the best advice is keep them ALONE.>
Do you think I have room for a few more colorful hardy midwater fish? I was going to keep the water temperature around 78 degrees.
<Much too warm for Xenopus laevis. In most cases, these frogs do best at room temperature. Xenopus tropicalis needs tropical temperatures, but it's not sold in the pet trade so far as I know, so unless you bought your frogs from a lab supplier, you can safely assume they're Xenopus laevis.>
Appreciate all suggestions. Thanks again, Alex
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   3/1/10
Good morning Neale,
<So far, at least!>
While you were sleeping here is the plan of action I have put into effect:
Moved my frogs into their vacation home along with the filter material, bog wood and ferns that were planted on rock rather than in the sand
<Very good.>
Added 18 teaspoons of salt over several hours to the platy tank (according to WWM 6 gm.s = 1 teaspoon, 5 gallons = 18.95 liters - god I hope I calculated that right, because it seems like an awful lot!)
<It's the right amount. Do look at my Brack Calc application if you're concerned or want to convert into US units.
Normal seawater has 35 grammes per litre, or, 4.75 ounces per US gallon. So yes, seawater contains a lot of salt, about 22 teaspoons if I've done the maths right.>
Started phase 1 of a 4 phase dosing schedule with EM Erythromycin which states is for treatment of fin & tail rot, open red sores, mouth fungus (cotton mouth), bacterial gill disease and hemorrhagic septicemia. Dose is 100mg per 5 gallons.
<Sounds about right.>
Frogs look happy and dare I say platy looks happy...swimming, not hiding.
<Although Platies aren't normally found in brackish water in the wild, their tolerance for brackish water is considerable, and it does have a "tonic" effect on them. Old school fishkeeping often recommended keeping livebearers in slightly brackish water for precisely this reason, and while not essential, if you're having problems with them, adding a little salt can pep them up just enough to get through the bad times. Brackish water effectively stops Velvet and Ick too, and reduces problems like Fungus and Slime Disease, so within reason, it's quite a good way to keep fish, if they'll tolerate the salinity. Unfortunately, most freshwater fish won't, at least not indefinitely.>
I will let you know how everyone is doing. Hope you had sweet dreams.
<Weird dreams, actually. For some reason I was leading an army of ghouls fighting some sort of dragon thing. That'll teach me to read H P Lovecraft at bedtime, I suppose!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. -- 3/3/10
Good morning Neale,
<Hello again, Diana,>
I just wanted to update you on my platy and frogs who are all doing remarkably well. The frogs seem MUCH happier in their temporary home.
Their color has returned to a darker brown, they are hanging about rather than hiding and the male has been acting very, shall we say, romantic towards his lady friend - which I have not seen for quite some time. While I started their tank out from straight treated tap water and a bit of transferred biological media they seem to be thriving once again.
My platy, also, is making vast improvements. He is swimming and attempting to eat. I have been watching him closely and have witnessed a few tiny bits of food make it through his swollen little gullet. I am on dose 2 of a 4 dose treatment so I am halfway through, but feeling very optimistic.
<I'm glad to hear all of this.>
Which leads me to my next question. Now that I have removed most of the plants and bog wood into the temporary frog tank I see that my platy tank is a dirty mess! Once my platy has recovered is there a "healthy way" to give his tank a serious spring cleaning before moving the frogs back to their permanent home?
<Sure. The best approach is to separate cleaning the tank from cleaning filter. Leave at least a week between the two. In other words, do your best to keep the filter running while cleaning the tank. If you have a filter that can be removed to a bucket of water and then restarted there, with the bucket filled with water from the aquarium, then that's a great way to do things. Internal canister filters for example are breeze to manage like this. External canisters can be handled like this too, simply by switching them off, moving the inlet and outlet pipes into the bucket of aquarium water, and then switching them on. Hang-on-the-back and undergravel filters can't be moved about like this though. So if you have these filters, leave the tank more or less filled with water, but remove the rocks, gravel, etc to a sink or bucket where you can clean them. When you're happy, move all this stuff back to the tank. The water will likely get a bit murky, so a water change afterwards will likely be necessary, but don't get too paranoid about this, and it's fine to change 25-50% of the water if you need to.>
I was thinking I could temporarily move the platy to the smaller tank that currently has the frogs, bio filter media and plants for a day or two while I remove the medicated and salty water (which the frogs won't tolerate), give the sand a good vacuum, scrub all the algae off the sides, clean the filter housing and heater which are both caked from minerals and yuck and fill it back up with clean treated water.
<Actually, this would all be overkill and a bit of waste of time. The problem is that there's nothing you can "kill" this way in any meaningful sense. An aquarium is like a garden, so while you can certainly tidy it up, you can't sterilise it. Stirring sand is not only pointless but a bit counterproductive, since settled sand actually becomes a quite efficient biological filter (in marine fishkeeping, called a Deep Sand Bed). So, concentrate on tidying rocks and stuff, and if the water is murky, do some water changes. Boosting mechanical filtration by adding mechanical filter media (like filter wool) will help water become clearer than ever.>
After letting the tank run a bit with a carbon filter to mop up whatever medication is left in the tank I would move the filter media, plants, platy and frogs back. Would this be too much or a much needed change?
<I think overkill. Think of what "the wild" looks like, and that's your aim. Tidying up is fine, but a deep clean doesn't make much sense, especially if that would entail switching off a filter for more than 20 minutes, after which point the bacteria start dying. Always better to clean the tank in little increments every couple of weeks with everything running normally. Trying to have a massive blitz isn't a good idea.>
Thanks and have a lovely day,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white. 3/3/10
Thanks Neale. I am guessing that the best way to reduce the salinity of the tank water is slowly through 25% water changes.
Certainly need to remove the salt before returning the frogs.
How long post treatment should I wait before doing this?
<I'd expose fish infected with Ick, Velvet or Costia (Slime Disease) to saline water for at least a week, and preferably two weeks. After then, you should be fine.>
Your friend,
<Who needs Facebook!>
<You are most welcome. Always glad to help! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.  3/7/2010
Good morning Neale and happy Sunday.
<Sunday's almost finished, but thanks!>
Everyone is still doing well in their tanks. Frogs are happy in their temporary tank, platy is recovering in his tank. In fact, I gave him frozen brine shrimp yesterday and he went nuts!! He is once again able to eat and was zipping around the tank chasing the shrimp through the water gulping them down.
The Spirulina flakes are still hard for him to get down.
<With time...>
I have now completed one full course (4 days) of the antibiotic, and while the platy has made huge strides his mouth is still not fully healed and continues to be a bit rough around edges and his lips a tad swollen making it hard for him to nibble. The instructions on the box of medicine instruct that that the treatment can be repeated. Do you think that this would be beneficial?
<I'd wait maybe 5 days, and see if the fish was showing signs of recovery.
If he was, I'd leave things be. If the situation is no better, or worse, then I'd do the second treatment.>
Current water readings are:
Platy tank (5 gal)
Temp 74
KH 11
GH 6
Ph 7.8
Nit 0
Ammo 0
<All good.>
Frog tank (2.5 gal)
Temp 74-78 depending on time of day
KH 9
GH 6
Ph 7.8
Nit 0
Ammo 0.25 (water change scheduled for today)
<Good; the ammonia level there might cause problems. Cut back on the feeding in the meanwhile.>
Have a lovely day,
<Thank you! I'm actually looking forward to tonight: unusually for England, we have clear skies, and that makes I can set up the telescope and check out Mars. Last night it was amazing! Cheers, Neale>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Thanks again. Funny question, but do you ever use unmedicated, unsalted water from your water changes to water plants?
<All the time. Saves a fortune on Baby Bio! And my garden looks lovely.
Also good for pot plants (by which I mean houseplants in pots, rather than, well, pot pot).>
Seems like such a waste to dump it down the drain on a weekly basis if I could be using it on my back porch garden instead.
<Absolutely! The water you remove from the aquarium is rich in nitrate and phosphate.>
Enjoy the night sky.
<I will!>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.
Wonderful news!!
<Well, that's good. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   3/17/10
Dear Neale,
<Hello again Diana,>
I came home from a long weekend away and my last platy has died.
<Too bad.>
He seemed fine when I left Saturday morning - swimming, eating, clear mouth and body - but dead upon my return today (and has been dead for a while as he was basically jelly as I removed him from the tank).
So, that leaves me with my two ADFs who continue to thrive in their little temporary 2.5 gal tank. When I originally moved the frogs to this temp tank I brought with them the biological filter media and all but one java fern from the 5 gal tank. All that remains, really, in the original (and now lifeless) 5 gal set up is the sand and the one java.
<Not quite lifeless. Keep adding little pinches of flake food every day or two until you decide what to do with it. Why? Because you want to keep the filter bacteria happy. By all means give the gravel/sand a bit of a clean, and do a general tidy up if you want, but there's no need to sterilise the tank or anything like that. Instead just let the tank tick over on this maintenance dose of flake food (as an ammonia source) while you think about what you want to use it for.>
My question is this...how do I go about transferring the frogs back to the 5 gal tank that has had a dead fish in it for a number of days as well as salty water from his treatment?
<For now, just gradually empty the 5 gallon tank, replacing it with plain vanilla dechlorinated tap water. Do 20-20% water changes every day for a week, and by the end of that you should be done to a trivially low quantity of salt. At the same time, you'll be lowering the salinity gently enough the bacteria can adjust. So by the end of that week, you should be free to move the frogs over to the new tank. Just as if you were bringing the frogs back from the aquarium, "acclimate" them carefully using something like the drip method. One approach is to put the frogs in a bucket or large carton and covered with a couple of inches of water from their aquarium. Over the next hour, add a cup or so of water from the new aquarium every 10 minutes. This will adjust the frogs to any differences in temperature and water chemistry, so all you need do then is net them out and pop them in the new tank.>
Also, did the antibiotics I used to treat the platy kill all of the beneficial bacteria in the sand or just some of it?
<Antibiotics can stress filter bacteria, but rarely kill them completely. If you have a nitrite test kit, test some water after a couple of days of water changes and see what you get. You should fine a 0 level of nitrite because the filter bacteria are processing the flake food.>
Would it be beneficial to wash the sand or better to leave it alone?
<Err on the side of doing less rather than more. Tidying up is fine, but deep cleaning is pointless. The bacteria that killed the Platy are otherwise harmless, even beneficial, and part of the ecosystem. Like much in nature, it isn't so much the bacteria that cause disease, but rather when we as humans do something unwise, the bacteria take advantage of the destabilized situation and *then* cause problems. Classic Finrot bacteria are Aeromonas, and in "the wild" these bacteria break down dead organic matter into the chemicals like ammonia that the filter bacteria process. Of course these bacteria try to eat living organic matter too, but ordinarily a healthy fish's immune system fends them off, just like our immune system does with regard to the bacteria all over our bodies. But when a fish is stressed that no longer works, and the bacteria overwhelm the immune system, enter the skin, eat the cells, and cause the Finrot.>
This unfortunate turn of events has taught me a valuable lesson - it is impossible fool Mother Nature.
<Correct. Or rather, Nature is going to do X, Y and Z anyway, so you might as well use that to your advantage rather than try and fight against it.>
When I fist told you of my plight you predicted exactly what has happened. As hard as I fought to save my fish the damage had been done.
<A hard lesson.>
While I did not intend to overcrowd my tank and tax its little ecosystem (and had been told by my fish provider that this would not be the case) that is exactly what I did.
<Likely so.>
And as hard as I tried to make up for my naiveté© Mother Nature ultimately won. Thanks to you, and WWM, I now know better and will never put any fish in the same predicament. Sadly, I have learned this lesson the hard way. May my three little Platies rest in peace.
<Poor little chaps. But you can turn things around. I've seen some great 5 gallon tanks stocked with frogs, cherry and bumblebee shrimps, and tiny, non-breeding snails like Clithon corona and Clithon diadema. Java moss is a wonderful plant for encrusting rocks, and you can create just the most fascinating little ecosystems using species like these. Cherry shrimps are great because they breed reasonably easily, and watching tiny shrimps appear and grow is just wonderful.>
Cheers and enjoy the day.
<Likewise to you, too.>
<Hope version 2.0 of this aquarium works out better. Good luck! Neale.>  

Re: Male platy with what looks like cotton mouth plus 2 ADFs who are turning white.   3/17/10
Thanks again Neale. Tidying of the tank underway. With regards to the flake food, does it matter whether it is Spirulina or regular?
<Either is fine. Add about as much food as you'd give the two frogs, so that the bacteria are "prepared" for the workload the frogs will exert.>
And, do you give any credence to the "starter bacteria" that is sold in the fish stores?
<None whatsoever. You have a healthy, vibrant culture of bacteria already. In real estate terms, the tank is a nice fixer-upper, rather than an empty lot upon which you'd build something new from scratch.>
Enjoy your evening,
<Have enjoyed it already. Finished teaching my adult education astronomy class, was given a nice bottle of wine by the students, and found a £10 note on the sidewalk whilst walking home. Enjoy your evening too! Neale.>

Platy hlth., no data, reading  2/2/2010
Hi guys,
Really need help here. My 10-month-old platy (Stella) had developed some kind of weird disease - I've been all over the Internet and can't find anything!
A week ago, some tiny white spots appeared just next to her lips, like cold sores on humans.
<Likely not a Herpes virus. Sounds much more like Columnaris, sometimes called "Mouth Fungus" despite being a bacterial infection. Very common among livebearers when not kept in sufficiently hard and basic water conditions. Platies are also sensitive to continually high water temperatures. In short, you're aiming for pH 7.5-8, hardness 10+ degrees dH, carbonate hardness at least 4 degrees KH, and a temperature no higher than 25 C, and preferably between 22-24 C.>
She seemed listless and off her food. A few days later, she just lay at the bottom of the tank, but would sometimes struggle up and swim around a bit.
Yesterday, she was lying almost on her side, and this morning she was much worse - she could hardly swim, because whenever she tried she span around slowly, though she obviously was trying to regain her balance. Eventually, she just lay down on her side and though sometimes fluttered around a little, she didn't move around any more.
<Again, review environment.>
She died earlier today, at around 11.00am.
<Too bad.>
The problem arises in that I have another two platys of the same age, and although they seem healthy, so did she until recently. Obviously, I have no desire for them to die or be in pain so please, if you have any ideas, reply soon.
<Without any useful data, I really can't offer any help here. But I'd urge you to check aquarium size, water quality, and water chemistry.>
The closest thing I can find is Ich/Ick and it says it can move from fish to fish?
<Ick is distinctive; it looks like salt grains all over the fins of the fish first, usually, and later on the body. Yes, it is contagious, which is why it normally comes into a tank when you buy new fish. Columnaris is latent in all tanks, and is triggered when the aquarist allows the fish's immune system to weaken somehow.>
Please...any help is greatly appreciated and wished for.
THANK YOU!!!! Josie x
<Cheers, Neale.>

?... Columnaris... Platies...  -- 2/3/10
Hey Neale,
I got your email about Stella and thanks for replying so soon, but I looked up Columnaris on Google and it doesn't look like what she had?
<Oh? Columnaris is variable, but typically looks like threads or mould around the mouth. Finrot is similar, but as its name suggests, tends to appear on the fins first. Fungus looks more like cotton wool. All three appear on fish that have been physically damaged and/or exposed to chronically poor environmental conditions. Really do need a photo to diagnose diseases.>
I have checked the chemistry, which was pH 7.6, and the temperature 24 C.
<Fine and fine.>
I don't have a tester kit for hardness dH or KH - do I need one?
<I'd have a general hardness kit to hand, yes. In the meantime, ask yourself whether kettles fur up quickly in your house. If they do, then you probably have hard water. Hard water is what Platies need. If your kettle doesn't fur up, then you probably have soft water. Soft water is lethal to livebearers including Platies. Remember, never use water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium!>
My tank is 28 litres; the shop said this would be fine?
<28 litres (less than 7.5 gallons) is much too small. Half the minimum size for this species. Your shop mislead you. Water quality could very easily be an issue here.>
Also, I'm thinking about getting some Neon Tetras - would it be OK to introduce them this early, and would my two types of fish get on?
<Yes, they get along; no, not in this tank. Do read here:
You said Columnaris occurred when the immune system weakened - I clean the tank every Saturday properly, so how does that work?
<When fish are stressed, they become subject to infections. Just like humans who are exposed to extremes of cold or not getting enough food.>
Thank you so much for your help (no sarcasm intended, honest.)
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Is my platy sick? Env.   1/20/10
Hi, I have a small tank, 2 gal, that I keep 2 fish in.
<Two gallons is too small for any fish. Except possibly a Betta, but that's more about cramming a poor Betta into a jar than actually treating an animal well. So let's be clear here, you can't keep any fish properly in a tank less than 5 gallons in size, and the only fish that will do well in a heated, filtered 5 gallon tank is a single Betta. For all other tropical fish you need about 10 gallons or more. Please read here:
Shops sell 2 gallon bowls because there are lots of people out there who don't read books before they buy animals. Perhaps they were beaten up by a book on the school playground when they were little or something. I don't really know. But the point is that NO BOOK EVER WRITTEN would recommend a person keep fish in a 2 gallon tank. Indeed, most will explicitly tell the reader not to. It's a shame shops sell these 2 gallon tanks, but they do.>
A couple days ago one of my fish died.
<Not so much "died" as "killed". Let's be crystal clear here, the fact you kept this fish badly ended up killing the animal. Does it give me pleasure saying this? No, not really. I'd just as soon your pets lived happy lives.
I don't actually enjoy scolding people who killed their pets. Actually, it makes me rather depressed doing this day after day, seemingly without an end in sight. So please take this advice for what it is, honesty rather than about being nice to you.>
It may have been old age as it didn't have any superficial symptoms, but I didn't have any testing strips left so I don't know what the water was like.
<Wasn't old age.>
I did a 50% water change and got strips to test the water. It reads fine for everything except maybe slightly high on nitrites.
<No such thing as "slightly high" nitrites. There's zero (safe) and then there's non-zero (dangerous). It's like being pregnant; you're either pregnant or you're not, you can't be a "little bit pregnant".>
My issue is that the remaining fish is now hanging on the top of the water.
<Dying... gasping...>
Previously he was up and down all over the tank. He is still very active and tries to swim down occasionally, but as soon as he stops making a strong effort he seems to float back up to the top.
<You are killing him.>
He'll swim around at the top, but his top fin stays resting against the edge of the water. He is still eating fine and shows now bodily symptoms. Is there something wrong with him or am I needlessly concerned?
<Needlessly concerned! Oh, boy, no, you should be VERY CONCERNED. You're killing this poor fish. Despite what Fox News and MTV might suggest, ignorance is actually a bad thing. In the case of keeping pet animals,
ignorance of their needs ends up stressing them, poisoning them, and then killing them. I wish I could say something nice to you, to make you feel better, but I fear unless I write this message in crystal clear language, you'll miss the point. Firstly, a 2-gallon "tank" isn't home for anything except perhaps an amoeba. It's worthless. The shop saw you hadn't a clue about keeping fish, and sold you a piece of junk. Secondly, these fish are being poisoned by their environment. At absolute minimum, Platies need about 15 gallons of space. They need a heater (water warmed to about 22-24 Celsius) and they need a filter (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite). Water chemistry is important, and needs to be hard and basic (10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5).
Unless you provide all these things, yes, you will kill your fish. I won't say your fish will die, because that makes it sound like Mother Nature's fault. Instead, I'm going to say you're killing your fish, because you are.
It would be more humane to have bought the fish and then smashed its head in with a mallet, because at least that would be painless. What you've done is passed a death sentence on a couple of poor Platies who are dying by
slow poisoning. Now, I really don't want you to run away from the computer crying because I'm a horrible person. Actually, I'm a very nice person. I'm spending my time answering your query precisely because I like fish and
like chatting with people who keep fish. I genuinely want to help. But it is crucially important you understand the situation here. Nothing, no tablets, no medicines, no nothing, will save the remaining fish without a better aquarium. Your move. Feel free to write back, blow off a little steam, even yell at me. I won't mind. But do also rush to the pet store and buy another aquarium. It's your pet fish I care about. Hope this helps, Neale.> 
Re: Is my platy sick? 1/20/10

Neale, I appreciate your feed back.
<Happy to help.>
When I got the tank several years ago, I did do some reading prior to purchase. I did try to understand what I was doing first. I read that I needed one gallon per fish, so that's what I have.
<You mis-read something there. Think about it for a second. One gallon per fish. Fine... a Whale Shark is 30 feet long, and a fish. Think that would be happy in one gallon of water? Obviously not. Of course, that's an extreme example. But the old (fairly crummy) rule is that for SMALL FISH such as Neons and Guppies, you can allow an INCH OF BODY LENGTH per gallon for water. So a 10 gallon tank would hold 10 inches of fish nose-to-tail, or about 10 inch-long fish such as Neons. All well and good. But the bigger a fish, the more space it needs. Something like an Oscar is about 12 inches in length, but it's the bulk of a housecat. Obviously going to need more space than 12 one-inch fish. Bottom line, even if you used that rule the way it was meant to be used, you'd have to modify it somewhat depending on what you were keeping. Finally, no book ever told you that you could keep one 1-inch fish in a 1-gallon aquarium, two such fish in a 2-gallon aquarium, and so on. All books would have said there's a minimum size at which aquaria work. For all practical purposes, that's about 10 gallons.>
While I'm sure you're right that I killed my fish,
<I am.>
I'd had her for a year and a half, so I'd say I kept her from poisoning for a good while.
<Well, sure, someone with lung cancer can live quite a while too. Doesn't mean it's healthy. Platies should live around 4-5 years, and in that time reach a body length of about 2 inches.>
I'd had a Betta in the tank previous to getting the platys and he lived for several years until my dad knocked the tank over.
So for lack of space, as I live in the city in a small apartment, I will take my platy to the fish store where he can be better taken care of and get a Betta.
<Honestly, if you don't have the space, why keep a fish? It's never really going to be happy in 2 gallons, except in the sense it lives. It's a marginal sort of life, at best. There are some "Nano" pets that are fun in small tanks, such as Cherry Shrimps and Crystal Red Shrimps, and with a clump of Java moss and a couple other plants you can create quite a cool habitat. Over the years, I've managed to talk other folks into carnivorous plants, which are fun without needing much space. I know the need to have a pet animal is often very strong, but really, where's the pleasure if the animal isn't happy?>
Still not ideal, as you said, but I'm diligent with the water changes, so hopefully I'll keep him happy.
<Good luck with whatever you do. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Fish, hlth. reading, no data  1/9/10
I have several platy fish in my tank with several mollies. I noticed on one of the platy fish some icky stuff on her eye. There are a couple more spots on her body. It covers the one eye. Any ideas what it is?
<Mmm, a few guesses... Perhaps most likely what folks label as "Body Fungus"... which is almost always bacterial, and invariably linked to poor or too-variable environment. Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner<

Platy Question, hlth., troubleshooting    1/1/10
Hi, I'm sure you can answer this question.
<Have you looked to see if it has been already?>
I had a Platy in a 55 gallon tank with a kissing fish,
<Better to have in pairs>
2 female guppies, 2 male guppies and a sucker fish.
<What species? Please see WWM re Gyrinocheilus>
Today I got up to feed my fish and everything was fine. But I looked into the tank a couple of hours later, I realized that my platy had died. Not only that but his intestines seemed to be coming out from his gills or a hole just below them. It seemed as if his gills had been sliced open and his guts came out. (By guts I mean a clear string with red staining) Just a few hours earlier he seemed to be just fine, eating, no problems.
I called a fish store out of town and he said that it sounds like Gill Fluke.
I went and bought the treatment for this, but now two of my guppies have died, but with out any signs or spots that I can see. I did all the tests and the water chemistry is all with in range, the tank is warmed to 80-82f and consistent. We do a 20% change every Sunday, and check the water chemistry every other day, just to make sure.
The water we use is stored in a 10 gallon tank, which is treated with water conditioner and ran through a filter for two days with no fish in the this tank,
<Better to store for a week ahead, but okay>
water chemistry is also checked before replacing the tank water. Both filters in the tanks get changed weekly and the 'floss' filter is washed in the old tank water.
When I treated the fish tank, I took out the finer filter for several hours because it had activated charcoal and I read that it may filter out the medication.
<I see, good>
Please tell me what I'm doing wrong and why my fish seem to be dropping like flies?
<Can't discern from the data presented. Need to know water chemistry, history of introduction of the fishes, perhaps images of same...>
I also had a team of neon tetra just disappear. One was caught in the filter, but the other four just disappeared. I don't want to go get other fish until this problem is fixed. Could it be a problem at the pet shop where I bought the fish?
Also, how long can a fish survive in the bag from a pet shop to home?
<Depends... using oxygen instead of ambient air, several hours. Should be able to "make it" w/o for at least an hour or two>
I would rather go to another city to buy my fish, but it's nearly an hour and forty five minuet drive until we would get home. Can fish survive this trip and the time needed to adjust the fish to the tank, or is there another way to transport them beyond the plastic baggy we are given?
<Best to leave in the bags... in an insulated cooler if it's cold outside... Ask for pure oxygen if you're going to be out more than a couple of hours... And do read here:
and the linked files above for input, ideas on the types of information we need, possibilities of trouble here. Bob Fenner>

Ick Problem/ Dilemma 12/23/09
I got home from work today to discover one of my platys has Ick. I'm going to visit my parents for Christmas and I leave tomorrow afternoon. I don't have another tank to put the platy in. Should I treat the tank for Ich ASAP
and perform a water change right before I leave? (20 hours from now). My room mate was going to feed the fish while I was gone, but I don't think he's going to want/ be able to perform a water change. I will be gone for 10 days.
Thanks again WetWebMedia for the invaluable help.
<Just treat using the salt/heat method.
This will cause no problems for your Platies, and the Ick parasite life cycle will be broken. If you're keeping Platies on their own or with other livebearers, then you can raise the specific gravity up to 1.003 (5-6 grammes/litre). Otherwise, aim for about half that dose. Raise the temperature to 25 degrees C, maybe slightly higher (Platies as you know should be kept cooler most of the time, 22-24 C being the ideal, much above that being stressful over the long term). Cheers, Neale.>
re: Ick Problem/ Dilemma

So performing a 50% water change with a good gravel vacuum before I go, treat with aquarium salt, and raise the temperature should be sufficient.
And hope for the best over the next 10 days?
<Well, they will need some food. Feeding blocks are useless, but a couple of blanched lettuce leaves and a wedge of courgette should keep them going, Platies being herbivores. Weight these down with that lead strip used to
hold aquarium plants in place.>
I have 3 gouramis and a Pleco in the tank, will this change anything?
<Not really.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Ick Problem/ Dilemma

With a 25 gallon aquarium with fish other than live bearers (gouramis), am I right in assuming I should add 25-30g of salt?
Thanks again,
<In US gallons, you're aiming for 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per gallon. One level teaspoon is about 6 grammes, or 0.22 oz. Cheers, Neale.>

My poor Minnie (Mickey mouse platy)   12/3/09
I have done some research on your page and on Google and failed to find some answers.
We have 3 Danios (Sam, Mary, and Melody),
<Keep in groups of six to avoid bullying and nipping, and to make them happy. Do need lots of swimming space; the tank should be 60 cm/2 feet long.>
1 silver molly (Phineas),
<Difficult to keep; generally does best in slightly brackish water, and certainly needs much water (around 28 C) than either Danios or Platies (which are happiest around 22-24 C). So, when you say "some research", let me suggest you start by researching the needs of each fish species before you buy them.>
a rainbow blue platy (Ferb), and my little Minnie (Mickey mouse platy).
Last week, everyone was acting normal, no problems. Eating and all.
Monday, we noticed Minnie was acting strange. Hanging out at the bottom of the tank in the corner, not really eating, and Ferb is guarding her.
<They don't "guard". Be very careful about applying human emotions to animals. Platies work in a completely different way to us! Male Platies will harass female Platies, since all they're interested in is mating.
Often. Females are somewhat gregarious, so if both are females, they will spend time together.>
We went to Petco and they said she is probably pregnant.
<Practically the default conditions with Platies. However, a pregnant Platy should be swimming about much like any other Platy. The only thing that changes is that they become notably more plump as the embryos develop.>
So ok, we did what we were told to do. Got a zucchini, which we were told they love and is great for them, gave it to her and she hasn't touched it.
<Offer a thin, blanched slice. They can't eat the skin, and instead peck at the soft part inside. Strips of sushi Nori are good, too. Certainly you should be feeding them Spirulina flake, not generic tropical fish food. All of this will be in an aquarium book of fish species, along with preferred temperature.>
We were also told to buy a plant that sits on the top of the water (as I like to call it, the maternity ward) so the babies can hide in it so they won't be eaten by the other fish, the more natural approach to this whole thing.
Minnie still isn't eating, has burrowed a spot in the gravel and chills in there.
<No, she hasn't burrowed and certainly isn't chilling. She's sick, stressed, or harassed. Healthy Platies stay at the top of the tank. Look at their mouths. See how they point upwards? That's the clue. Fish with upwards-pointing mouths feed from the surface; ergo, they're fish from upper levels of the water column.>
I am thinking this is "nesting"?
Ferb is still guarding her and she isn't active like she has always been.
I did notice a small white spot near the start of her rear fin, but it's not very big at all. She looks like she is getting bigger but I'm a little nervous about it. What could be going on? Could she be pregnant?
<Can't answer your question without actual data. Let's recap. Platies need cool (around 22-24 C) water and an aquarium at least 15 gallons upwards in size. The water should be briskly filtered to keep it clean; I'd recommend
a filter rated at not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. There should be 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Water chemistry is critical: these are hard water fish and need pH 7.5-8, 10+ degrees dH.
Deviations from these requirements will lead to problems. Most fish sickness is caused by aquarists rather than pathogens, though pathogens will happily take advantage of any opportunities you make available.
Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Problems   12/2/09
Hi There, I have a female sunset platy that has had several broods of fry.
She looks pregnant again but the spot (vent?) where she would deliver the fry, there is something protruding from her. It's orange in color.
<Does it wriggle? Camallanus worms are quite common with farmed livebearers. These look like red threads (often more than one) poking out of the anus. Camallanus needs to be treated with an appropriate anti-helminth.>
She is eliminating ok and eating ok. At first I thought that she was going to pop out a fry but on closer inspection it isn't a fry. Can females get fry stuck or worse yet can the sac where the fry develop come out.
<I'm sure it can happen, but it's not something I've come across before.>
I had another female platy have the same thing happen only what was sticking out was larger. She didn't survive. I thought it was a fluke or something but now it seems to be happening again. Also while I have this email going are swordtails more aggressive than platys?
<Male Swordtails are much more aggressive.>
I had lots of babies in my tank and when I got a swordtail that all stopped.
<Likely the Swordtails simply ate the Platy fry. The two species are not really compatible. While both want hard, alkaline, not too warm water (around 22-25 C) Swordtails come from streams and need strong water currents, whereas Platies come from ditches and ponds, and prefer slow moving water. So you wouldn't keep them in the same tank; at least you could, but one or other species would not be receiving good care.>
I have had only the ones that I rescued from my filter. I have one of those BiOrb tanks with the round filter in the bottom and sometimes the babies will get sucked in.
<These "designer" tanks are almost always overpriced garbage. Bearing in mind Platies need upwards of 15 gallons, and Swordtails upwards of 30 gallons, these tanks likely won't be big enough. Even if they had the right
volume, they have this stupid tall rather than long shape that is COMPLETELY useless for fishkeeping. Swordtails for example need a tank some 60 cm/24 inches long, at least, to have enough swimming space. Just look at how streamlined they are! Do they look like fish that want to be cooped up in a glorified jam jar?>
Most all that I have rescued and put in a separate baby tank have grown up.
The female pineapple sword that I have did have a few of her own babies that survived but now that they are bigger I swear that they go on the hunt for baby fry to eat!
<Yes indeed. In the wild the fry hide among plants or in very shallow water. There is no evolutionary pressure for adults to "know" what their babies look like, since they wouldn't ever see them. To an adult Platy or Swordtail, anything small and wriggly at the surface is food.>
Hopefully you will have an answer for me or have at least heard of this condition that my platy has. Thank You Michelle
<Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Platy Problems   12/3/09

Hi there, No the mass bump or what ever it is doesn't move at all.
It's just there. All I had before were platys and I really like them the best. I am going to give the swords to the guy at the pet store that I give my babies to. They are OK but I like the platys better. I have two other tanks that are larger and rectangular than the one Biube, which was a gift from my husband.
<I suspect many of these designer tanks are bought as well-meaning, if impractical, gifts.>
They all have platys in them too. The 3 tetras and couple of platys that I had in the Biube were fine before the swords. I didn't realize that I had bought a sword. One of the local fish stores that I went to told me that it was a platy. I know now they just wanted to make the sale. Not going back there again.
<Oh dear!>
So the difference between the platys and the swords are the body shape.
<Yes; adaptation to the environment. One streamlined, the other more compact.>
I can see that with the pineapple that I have, she is much longer and slender than my sunset. When I got her she was small and I couldn't really tell although now I can see the difference in her babies and my platy babies. Do mollies do ok with platys?
<They can do. Mollies tend to prefer slightly brackish water -- around 3-5 grammes marine salt mix per litre, and Platies will tolerate such conditions perfectly well. However, Mollies do need quite warm water, around 28 C, and this will shorten the lives of Platies. How about looking out for Limia nigrofasciata?
This species is golden with purple vertical stripes, and the males have a wonderfully marked Sailfin just the male Mollies. This species is very peaceful, and like Platies, is essentially vegetarian, so the same mix of Spirulina flake and Sushi Nori suits them very well.>
I did have one balloon belly but she was so freaked out and scared that she didn't last long, I think she died of fright. I decided that I wouldn't take any more chances with mollies.
<As mentioned, Mollies are sensitive, and they're much easier to keep in slightly brackish water. Your best bet is to set up a slightly brackish water aquarium just for the Mollies, and then choose suitable salt-tolerant tankmates as needs be: Knight Gobies, Glassfish, Wrestling Halfbeaks, Orange Chromides, and so on.>
I have had the best success with the platys. They come is so many colors and mostly they are easy.
<While I like my Limia nigrofasciata even more, I do agree that Platies are excellent fish, and perhaps the best of the "common" species traded. They tend to be less aggressive than Swordtails, and easier to keep than Guppies
or Mollies. Do think about buying a book about livebearers -- there are lots more species than you can imagine. I have some Ameca splendens, a species extinct in the wild, but as its name suggests, splendidly coloured and while too nippy to mix with other fish, they're so full of life you can happily keep a "swarm" of them in a planted tank and never regret it.
Upstairs I have a tank for breeding Celebes Halfbeaks.
Once you get into livebearers, and make an effort to find the oddball species, you'll soon become addicted!>
Thanks for your input. Michelle
<Cheers, Neale.>

Impossible platy, impossible situation   12/2/09
I hate to barrage you with one more question, You have been so fantastic about answering other people's questions you'd think I'd find what I'm looking for. It's an amazing site! I love your approach to problems, and your mater <Ahh!>-of-factitude.
<Me too... is actually the only "way" I know of being>
There's a lo-o-ong story leading up to this point, but I'm going to cut it short and start with now:
NO3 = 0
<Likely you mean NH3, NH4OH, ammonia>
Nitrates = 0
<And Nitrites>
Nitrates = 10-20
GH = 150-ish (hard to tell on the test kits exactly)
KH = 70-90 (the API kit varies from 4 drops to 5 day to day)
pH = 7.8 (again, hard to tell with the API kit)
For both tanks. They're both Marineland Bow front, handy "habitat-in-a-kit" tanks.
2 Platies, 1 female in the six-gallon tank, 1 male in the two-gallon tank.
(I was originally advised to keep 3 Platies in the two gallon; six was/is as big as I could/can fit into the human environment.) Two tiny (8mm), cherished snails in the six gallon.
I wanted the female to get squatters'
rights, which is why I moved the boy out.
<I do wish you had larger systems. Much more suitable and easier to care for>
As little history as possible: I trusted some dip strips for testing and wasn't changing the water as much as I needed to. This month I've treated the female in a clean, borrowed hospital tank (nearly a fishbowl) for dropsy/bacterial with Maracyn and Maracyn2, Ich/parasites with 86 degrees, 2x Aquarium salt and CopperSafe. When she seemed good, really good, for three days I moved her into the six gal. She went south again, clamping/hiding, I immediately moved the boy into the two-gallon, and gave away the other, more aggressive male, to give her a break (I also gave away a pile of snails, we bought only one, that were contributing to the overstock problem).
She's got a white cottony fluff at the base of her tail on one side.
Today she's darting around, I'm guessing she's flashing but doesn't seem itchy (she reminds me of when I was delivering a child w/o epidural and I wanted out of my own body), sometimes hovering, often hiding. She's been listing for about two hours. Her inner gut, in a crescent-shape behind her ribs, looks dark to me (she might just be losing color), but that's been since she started getting sick a month ago. Her poops look like an ordeal and are
wide. I give her peas (I mince them into fish bites with a tiny knife, totally AR) and it doesn't seem to make a difference, and I've already got plenty of Epsom salt in the water. She eats really well, and has always been a good eater through all of it. She looks thin, to me, though, and muscle-y, like a 70-year-old yoga instructor.
<Good descriptive term choices>
Do I stress her out, switch the fish and treat her with meds in the two-gallon tank?
<Very likely so, yes>
Do I just put the snails in the two-gallon with the boy and treat the six-gallon (it's the perfect hospital tank size, if you ask me now that I know something about fish keeping)? Do I just leave them and wait and see, keeping the water good now that I know how to do that?
<This latter is what I would do, and...>
(Yeah, you got to just change enough of it no matter what you think the parameters are..) If I do treat her, do I treat her for the fungus (I'm pretty sure, but if you have better ideas.) *and* what I now think might be an internal
parasite? Other ideas?
<Just the environment. All that is concomitant w/ it being too small>
The boy, who's about 5 months old and used to be one of our fry, is OK.
He's occasionally mad, and I wonder if putting the female (his mom, of all things) out of his sight might be easier on him, or if he's just feeling too confined. I worry about getting him too stressed out, though, too.
In retrospect, fish are the worst pets for the 4-year-old child of a single, formerly fishless mom.
<You may be correct here. Unlike mammals and birds, they don't/can't vocalize when in duress, in need of help... And when they die... is very hard on children>
I learned an invaluable life lesson about trust with these fish (not to mention the near-online-PhD I got in water chemistry). I owe them one. Technically they belong to my daughter, and she really does need some kind of pet. These are the ones we've got for now.
Thanks so much for your time,
<I do consider that the doctorate investigation is of great worth of and by itself, and do wish I had more to state per your present situation. If it were me/mine, I would trade in the Platies and use these small volumes for more suitable aquatic life. Do take a look either into keeping a single male Betta, or perhaps a pair of Paradisefish (Macropodus sp.) or other possibilities you'll be led to by reading here:
Bob Fenner>

A few platy questions! Hlth. f' 12/1/09
Hi WWM Crew!
<Hello Suzanne,>
I hope you can help and promise to be to the point. I bought 4 Platies 2 weeks ago (3 female, 1 male so keeping the ratio correct).
a) One female keeps blowing bubbles on top of the aquarium which I thought might be a bubble nest but isn't that usually males and also if they are live bearers why would they build a nest?
<Indeed. Neither sex should be making a bubble nest. So I think this is "gasping" behaviour.>
b) Another of my females is black and I can see very clearly a problem with her skin, it's as though she is covered in bubbles? She's very agitated and swimming in a full body manner quite unlike the others.
<Likely a secondary infection such as Finrot caused by opportunistic bacteria; like the gasping, probably associated with water conditions.>
c) Another of my females keeps laying on the bottom of the aquarium until feeding time when she comes alive - all other times she just stays put.
<Again, unnatural behaviour, and probably associated with water quality problems.>

The only happy fish in the group of four seems to be the male - but then he has 3 females to keep him company!!
Would be grateful for any help and advice you can give.
Thanks and keep up the good work - this site is excellent!!
<Thank you.>
<Unfortunately, while I'm sure your fish are sick, I can't say anything about why. I need more information. So, to pre-empt anything else, let's clarify what Platies need. Firstly, good water quality. Zero ammonia, zero nitrite. Next, adequate space and filtration. A 15 gallon tank is the absolute minimum, and realistically, you want 20 gallons or more. There needs to be a filter rated at not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. In other words, for a 20 gallon tank, an 80 gallon/hour filter would be required. Temperature should be moderate, around 22-24 C; none of the Xiphophorus species will do well if kept too warm. Finally, water chemistry should be hard and alkaline. Aim for 10+ degrees dH and a pH around 7.5 to 8. Note that "pH up" products aren't what you need here; the water should be hardened if you live in a soft water area. Use Rift Valley salt mix, not tonic salt or marine aquarium salt.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A few platy questions!   12/2/09

Thank you so much Neale
<You're welcome.>
I'm going to carry out water tests today and make sure everything is as it should be. I would be a little surprised if it isn't as I've had the aquarium for 6 years and all my other fish are okay but this could just be because they have got used to it.
In the meantime do you think the condition of the female with bubbles might be Ich?
<Ick/Whitespot is very distinctive: it looks like salt has been scattered on the fish. Bubbles on the skin can be caused by a variety of other things, ranging from simply too much aeration of the water through to bacterial infections.>
I have started to bring the temperature of the tank up bit by bit so that it gets to 28 deg.s as I believe this helps the chemical to work and also kills off the bacteria.
<What? This doesn't make any sense to me. Upping the water temperature will stress those fish that don't like warm water. Platies for example are cool water fish, and prefer something between 22-25 C. Unless you're using a salt/heat method to treat Ick/Whitespot, there's no advantage to warming them up. As for killing bacteria, remember, most bacteria are either helpful or harmless. You may be dealing with Finrot, but that's something specific, and not the same as, for example, the bacteria that cause internal infections. Treat against Finrot bacteria; in the UK, I like a product called eSHa 2000 that I have found effective and safe (and very economical!). I have to confess to never finding the Interpet anti-Finrot or anti-Internal Bacteria products any good at all, as well as expensive to use per litre/gallon.>
Basically I am willing to try anything in an attempt to keep my little family happy and healthy.
<The "anything" aspect is questionable. Remember, diagnose the problem, and then treat against it. Better not to treat, and have one fish die (or be humanely destroyed) than to treat wrongly and poison the aquarium. Almost all medications are poisons at some level.>
Just one more question before I close, the platys are 2 white (male and female) and 2 black. The poor white female is being pestered by the male constantly (24 hours a day from what I see!), should I separate her off for a short while to give her a rest or is that normal behaviour?
<Isolate the male, instead. She's already stressed, so being cooped up won't make her any happier. As/when the tank is stable, add more females of whatever Platy breed you like. Add some floating plants, such as Indian Fern. Heck, if you're anywhere near Berkhamsted you can come grab a clump of Indian Fern because I'm always throwing out surplus stuff onto the compost heap! Indian Fern makes a great place for female fish to rest, and also provides cover for the baby fish.>
Thanks again Neale, very much appreciated.
<Always happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A few platy questions!   12/2/09

Thanks Neale!
I'll drop in next time I'm passing!! I'm down in Nettlestead, Kent so it would probably be easier to buy some locally...:O)
<Indeed! Do also try various fish forums. Many have buy/sell/swap threads, and people like me who have these fast-growing plants are usually only to happy to give away surplus plants. I have done this myself, and likewise,
received plants this way for nothing other than the cost of postage.>
I'll keep you posted on my aquarium events if you are interested?
<Please do. I will make the point though that the WWM forum is a good place to chat with other fishkeepers, especially if you want some feedback on decor, etc.>
Kind regards
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A few platy questions! 12/4/09

Hi Neale
<Hello Suzanne,>
A very quick update....I did a partial water change (about 10%) as thought it may be a cycling problem (new filter put in about 2 weeks ago) and all appears to be well.
<Good news.>
The gasping/bubble blowing appears to have stopped, no further lying on the bottom of the tank that I can see and additionally....the female with the bubbles over her body gave birth to about 30 fry overnight! I managed to save 6 of them from being eaten so they are in the nursery right now and are fighting fit.
<These should keep you busy for a while! Raising baby fish is a hoot.>
The strange thing is that the bubbles or white spots that she had all over her have now gone too. I cannot believe that it was something as simple as a partial water change so I have to believe that whatever it was managed
somehow to sort itself out naturally.
<Most of the times we get ill, our body fixes the problem given time. The tricky bit is making sure the environment and diet is favourable.>
So for the time being, all is right with the world.
I just wanted to say, thank you for metaphorically "holding my hand" through the last week as it was a bit stressful to see my extended family so unwell. Just having someone around that I could panic to was worth more than gold! Forums and websites which are generic are also brilliant but nothing quite like having tailored advice.
<I'm glad you see the value to what we're trying to do.>
So thank you very much and keep up the good work for all the other aquarists in the world - you and your team ROCK!!! (to use an Americanism).
<We use that phrase here, too -- though it does sound a bit weird if used in Buckingham Palace while addressing the Queen.>
Kind regards
<Good luck! Neale.>

Sick Mickey mouse platy 11/24/09
I have a female platy who has slowly become really skinny & stays at the bottom of the tank when she's not eating. She seems to be struggling to breath also. I have read thru a lot of the pages in your website and am
extremely worried. This has happened with a previous platy of mine. She was sick for about a month before dying. I have 4 other Platies, and it doesn't seem that they are having any problems. I would love and appreciate any help with this subject
Thank you, Tim
<Hello Tim. I really need more data than you're offering here. Fish will "gasp" and go off their food if the environment is wrong. In the case of Platies, this means the water should be clean (0 ammonia and nitrite) and the water chemistry hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH 7.5-8). Temperature should not be too high (22-24 C is ideal). Platies cannot be kept in tanks smaller than 60 litres/15 gallons. There is a thing called Wasting Disease (a Mycobacterium infection) that can cause problems with livebearers, but it is comparatively rare, and most Platies get sick and die because they're kept wrong. It's also worth mentioning that Wasting Disease is more of a problem when fish are kept badly than when they're kept well. So review conditions in your aquarium, and if you need to, write back telling me some information about you aquarium and we can discuss further. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy's mouth has turned white  10/22/09
I have had several Platies whose mouth have turned white, their bodies arch downward, have difficulty breathing then die shortly after.
<Almost certainly an environmental issue given these unrelated symptoms.>
We have a 55 gal. tank with about 25 Platies and 15 babies (range from 3months to a few days old), we have 2 female mollies and 1 calico veil tail goldfish, 3 guppies and a Plec.
<I see. Do bear in mind these animals are not exactly compatible. Goldfish and Platies need relatively cool conditions, 25 C tops, and ideally 23-24 C. Mollies and Guppies by contrast want much warmer water, around 26-28 C.
Mollies furthermore do best when kept in slightly brackish water -- yes, they sometimes do fine in freshwater, but not always. Guppies and Platies will tolerate slightly brackish water well, but Goldfish and Plecs only up to a certain point, so you'd need be careful how much marine salt mix you added to the water (I recommend marine salt mix as being much more useful than plain vanilla "tonic" or "aquarium" salt that do nothing about pH and hardness.>
Until recently, we haven't had too many problems, but in the past 4 days we have lost 4 Platies and looks like we will be losing a couple more. I change 30-50% of the water about every week. These fish started dying after my last change about 5 days ago. I went ahead and did a 50% change today. I tested the water before and the Ph was very high 7.5 and so was the nitrate (high) , The nitrite and ammonia were perfect. I don't know how the Ph got so high.
<What do you mean "high"? The ideal pH for Platies is between 7.5 and 8. The hardness should be high, 10 degrees dH. Keeping them in soft, acidic to neutral water is very bad for them. So what precisely are the normal water chemistry parameters here?>
Two other questions: The Platies have started picking ( appear to be eating the tail fins) at the goldfish - who has been with them for 2 years Why would they start this and what are they doing?
<They've discovered Fancy Goldfish are an easy meal. This is why I (and most books) say not to mix Fancy Goldfish with anything other than other Fancy Goldfish.>
The guppies are mating and getting pregnant but I never see any fries.
Are they being eaten, because we always have a lot of platy fries that survive?
<Quite possibly; Guppy fry are very small, and without things like floating plants for cover, are easily eaten by surface-swimming predators.>
I appreciate any info and help you can give me.
Thank you
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Platy's mouth has turned white 10/23/09

You have enlighten me on grouping fish. The store we got these fish from said the mollies, Platies, and guppies could go together. The Goldfish was my own stupid idea. He was the only one I had left from a pond.
<I see. Well, standard Goldfish (ones with a single tail, as opposed to double-tail fancy Goldfish) are reasonably tolerant of brackish water, and maintenance at SG 1.002-1.003 (5-6 grammes/litre) won't do them any harm.>
I have only used Aquarium salt. Should I go to the marine salt mix?
<If your water is already hard and basic, then as/when the aquarium salt box runs out, then yes, switch to marine salt mix. If your water is soft or acidic, then I'd switch to marine salt mix immediately. The thing with marine salt mix is that it hardens the water, raises the carbonate hardness, and stabilises the pH in the basic range. These are all things livebearers (and indeed Goldfish) appreciate. Of course, it also raises salinity, but so does aquarium salt.>
[My parameters are] Ammonia -0; Nitrite- 0; Freshwater pH was 7.4; Nitrate - I had a hard time telling the color seem to between 40-80. I'm not sure what the hardness level is but I think it is on the high side.
<The nitrate is a bit high, and indicative of overstocking, overfeeding, or not enough water changes. Aim for consistently less than 50 mg/l.>
I have some fake low type grass and a couple of tall plants [for baby Guppies to hide in].
<Baby Guppies stay close to the surface, so plants that grow along the bottom of the tank or just have a few leaves stretching upwards aren't of much use at all. It's floating plants that serve them best in terms of hiding places. I'd consider things like Indian Fern *essential* additions to livebearer breeding tanks.>
Thank You Neale.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>  
Re: Platy's mouth has turned white
Thank You so much. You have been a great help. I moved the goldfish; he seems happy already.
<Cool. Glad to have helped, and good luck! Cheers, Neale.>

One thin platy... Chatting, no reading... CAEs...  10/4/09
My 10 gallon tank has currently 3 patties and 1 Chinese algae eater.
<Oooh, do read on WWM, the Net re this fish... CAE's, Gyrinocheilus are "wolves in sheep's clothing"... Not to be trusted with easygoing tropicals>
In one group I bought a Mickey mouse, a red(?) and one that was large & gold.
Not orange-ish but yellow, shimmery gold & beautiful. We have had him(?)
<? Easy to sex...>
for 3 weeks. The Mickey died because the previous bottom feeder got injured & plummeted the ph before I noticed.
<? How?>
Everything stabilized for a while after I added a new Chinese. The gold is having problems, it is ravenous, very active, has gotten skinny, and I don't know what to do for it.
<Feed it... wafers, pelleted foods of largely greenery base... that sink>
I do ph testing & Petco tested water for ammonia & we are fine. The 2 reds and the bottom feeder are great. I try to feed him more but I worry about a dirty tank, I see accumulated food in the bottom & siphon out but I don't want to exchange water too much. any ideas or suggestions?
<Yes... Read re set up, filtration and maintenance of FW systems on WWM>
He is definitely bigger that the other 2, does he need more food?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/algaeeaterfaqs.htm>
How do I do that without polluting the water. He seems like a fighter so I don't want to give up on the poor
guy but I can't imagine what is wrong.
<I can't imagine you not following instructions before writing us and searching our site. This is a reference system, not a chatroom. Bob Fenner>
Re: one thin platy 10/4/09

Wow, did not know that about CAE, it was recommended over a Pleco because Plecos get too big.
<This is why you need to read *before* you go shopping. Would you trust a car salesman to sell you the right car for you without doing some research first? A real estate agent? The guy in the clothes store? Of course not.
While there are plenty of informed and helpful sales clerks in many pet shops, there are also plenty of them who haven't the first clue.>
I definitely understand your warnings about listening to fish sales people.
Boy, my first foray into aquarium keeping is not so successful. So far the CAE shows no aggression, he is very reclusive.
<Often are when small. But up above around 10 cm/4 inches, they can become real menaces.>
His predecessor was injured when he panicked trying to get out of a rock/cave he liked to hang out in while I was cleaning the tank. It had doubled in size and it was a tight fit for the fish, I have since removed
the small rock. About the gold Platy, he eats at the top of the tank and you recommended sinking foods. Or was that for the CAE?
<Gyrinocheilus aymonieri will do well on mostly algae wafers (such as those sold for Plecs) plus a few catfish pellets now and again. Platies are herbivores, and a good staple is vegetarian flake food (sometimes called livebearer flake food) plus occasionally offerings of something a little more meaty, such as live brine shrimp, live daphnia, or wet frozen bloodworms (kept in the freezer). Don't waste your time with dried (freeze dried) bloodworms, shrimps, etc. Beyond simply being insanely expensive, such foods seem to be associated with digestive problems, particularly constipation, and especially so in herbivorous fish.>
Sorry, the algae eater is doing great health wise it is the gold Platy that has gotten skinny & is ravenous.
<Farmed livebearers are somewhat troubled by "Wasting Disease", likely a Mycobacterium infection and essentially incurable. It's mostly an issue with farmed livebearers because these are farmed to a price rather than a quality. So it's the "fancy" specimens you buy from chain pet stores that tend to have the problem, rather than more expensive wild-caught livebearers or livebearers sold at auctions by home breeders. In any case, the symptoms tend to be gradual emaciation, regardless of the amount of food the fish is given. Now, before assuming this to be the case, Mycobacterium infections probably account for a hundredth, if that, of the sick livebearers in the world! It's easy to blame any ailing livebearer on Wasting Disease when actually other issues are responsible. Often, less experienced hobbyists use these fairly obscure diseases as excuses. So, before assuming it's Wasting Disease, focus on the other, much more probable, explanations: Platies need hard, basic water for a start, and will never do well in soft water; you're aiming for pH 7.0 to 8.0, 10-25 degrees dH. They don't like to be too warm either, and above 25 degrees C (77 F) they get stressed and sickly. Like all livebearers, they do best given constant access to fresh green foods. Clumps of Indian Fern work great, and they'll peck at these all day, but otherwise strips of Sushi Nori or thinly sliced cucumber can work well, too. Like all herbivores, they can't do well given one high-protein meal each day: their digestive tracts are adapted to process lots of small meals across the day. Finally, physical and behavioural stress will both cause problems. Bullying within groups is the classic, Platies, like all livebearers, doing best in groups of one male to two or more females, and in small tanks, below 90 litres/20 gallons, a single male is recommended, with 2-3 females. Oh, and do check for Camallanus worms. These are not uncommon among farmed livebearers. The red thread-like worms emerging from the anus are distinctive, and like other worms, big populations of them in the gut will reduce the amount of food the host (i.e., the fish) can absorb. Anti-helminth medications should do the trick here.>
When I searched I only saw info about pregnant & fat Platies.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: one thin platy 10/4/09

Thank you Neale, it is the worms, I have seen them!
I didn't know what they were & will try the medicine.
<Levamisole, Piperazine and Praziquantel are often recommended, but don't always work, and Fenbendazole and Flubendazole are much better, if you can get them.>
Thanks again, you are a wonderful resource of information and will regularly check this site before a problem arises.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Orange platy with white substance on her side... no reading    8/19/09
I have a 10 gallon tank with orange platys and black mollies.
<Such small volumes are difficult to keep stable, and don't provide sufficient space for these fishes... behaviorally or metabolically>
One female orange platy, in particular, is looking and behaving rather strangely. Several days go, I noticed a white coating on one of her sides.
It doesn¹t appear to be fibrous or crystalline ­ slimy, almost ­ not like any Ick I¹ve seen, but I have treated the tank with an Ick Clear tank buddy to be safe.
<... a poor idea. Toxic>
Her scales don¹t appear to be protruding, and she¹s no larger than normal (dropsy?),
<Read re on WWM>
but there are small areas of her that look like they are ³shedding² this white substance. I¹ve inspected her as closely as I can, and it definitely does not look like she¹s shedding scales.
This white substance does not appear to be anywhere else on her body in such a concentration as on her side, but her scales have noticeably lost sheen, as if she¹s completely coated in this stuff. She appears to be swimming normally, though she is putting forth just a little more effort to keep herself righted sometimes, and I¹ve caught her occasionally resting on the bottom of the tank, which I¹ve seen the other females do when they are pregnant. She¹s also been keeping her top fin down and is avoiding the male at all costs when she is usually very friendly with him. She is, however, schooling normally with the other females when the male isn¹t chasing after her.
I changed the water earlier today ­ the water was treated normally, and I added a new Bio Bag. Approximately 2 weeks ago, the black mollies spawned, and there are 12 fry still living in this tank. I am not actively breeding any of these fish, so I did not remove the pregnant female ­ now I have 12 baby survivors who I am looking to relocate before they get big enough to crowd the rest of my fish out. The addition of these new mollies has been the only change to the tank.
Any ideas
<... what re water quality tests, foods, feeding?>
as to what this may be would be greatly appreciated.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm
scroll down to the sections on Platies and Mollies... re their systems, feeding... Bob Fenner>
Re: Orange platy with white substance on her side... please read...   8/20/09

Hi Bob,
<Howdy Brynn>
Thank you for your quick response, I appreciate it.
Strange happenings - I arrived home not long ago to find my male molly upside down and unable to right himself. I placed him into a small, separate tank - his gills are going very quickly, and he seems to be able to move his pectoral fins, but not much else.
<Water quality?>
The orange platy is the same as she was yesterday, though I have noticed that one of the other orange platys is showing stringy white feces (internal parasites I'm guessing). Should I buy some medicated food and Melafix?
<I wouldn't... see our input re this product on WWM>
Should I remove her from the tank?
Tested the water:
Nitrites - 0.10 ppm
<Need to be zip, zilch, nada>
Ammonia - 0.0 ppm
pH - 7.6
Nitrates - 0.10 ppm
I feed these guys Tetra Algae: Vegetable Enhanced Crisps, crushed, twice daily. Occasionally (about once a week) I will feed them TetraColor flakes.
<You/they might do well with the addition of something other than dried, prepared foods>
Again, many thanks with your attention to my fish. It's greatly appreciated.
<Do you add salt to this system's water? How long have you had these animals? What is your maintenance routine? Please review where you were referred previously... to give an idea of the sorts of information we're looking for. BobF>
Re: Orange platy with white substance on her side  8/21/09

Hi Bob,
Thanks again for your response.
RE the tank and my routine: I've had the tank for 3 years now - the mollies for the entirety of those 3 years and the platys for 2. When I first got my tank, I did attempt to acclimate the mollies to SW very slowly with help from the people at my local pet store. Unfortunately, we had several die in the process. I've kept the remainder in FW ever since.
<I see... I take it the water there is hard and alkaline from its source?>
I do 10% water changes every week,
<Good interval... I'd increase the percentage... to maybe 30>
thorough gravel cleanings, and once a month, I remove a few of the plants to clean them thoroughly as well. The filter is changed regularly.
A note about my platy - I did confirm today that she is shedding scales.
I've attached two pictures of her (best I could get, I apologize for the quality).
<I see... this fish is literally "falling apart"! Finrot... bacterial... but from what sort of in/direct cause/s?>
I'm looking to upgrade to a 27 gallon tank from this 10 gallon
<Too small a volume to keep stable>
once everyone is happy and healthy again. I read in an FAQ about Platies (
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/platysysfaqs.htm) that the Rift Valley Cichlid Salt Mix is great for both Platies and mollies - do you think I should give that a shot in the new tank?
<I do>
Many thanks.
<Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner>

Re: Orange platy with white substance on her side
Hi Bob,
Not surprisingly, the platy has passed on. She completely stopped eating but behaviorally was still fairly normal up until the last.
I have no guesses as to what the source of this may have been, unless it was something on me that got transferred during a water change or one of my cats tried to get in there for a snack or a swim.
I will do as you've suggested and increase the percentage of my water changes. Would you recommend beginning to add the salt mixture with each water change or begin the drip system (as outlined in one of the FAQs) method now?
<Yes I would do the former>
Would that help or hurt at this point? Or should I just wait until the 27 gallon tank fully cycles to begin acclimating them?
<I would begin this in the present system>
Additionally, should I begin treatment with Maracyn (or Maracyn 2 or both)?
<I would not do this. W/o knowing the causative mechanism, the addition of Gram positive and negative antibiotics will likely do no good, and may indeed cause harm>
None of my other fish are looking/behaving oddly, but I definitely want to head it off at the pass if I can.
Once again, most appreciative of your time.
<Do keep perusing the disease areas of the freshwater Subweb of WWM when you have time, energy/interest. B>

Re: Platies and Gourami poorly   8/5/09
Hi there again!
A quick update.. I am not having much luck sadly.. Last week I lost another Danio, and a rosy barb, both had a dropsical appearance for a few days before they died.
I still have several Platies with white tufty bits, one is bottom sitting a lot, and another appears to be 'wasting' as previous Platies that died did.
The moonlight Gourami still is not eating (that I have observed) and still has an ulcer on the lower lip. There also appear to be slight white 'tufts' appearing on the sides of the Gourami, although the fins are unaffected on any of the fish.
<Very odd. I fear that you do have one of these "primary" rather than "opportunistic" bacterial infections. These are very difficult to treat, even with antibiotics (which in the UK you can only get from your vet).>
I have been testing the water every day and have not seen any detectable nitrite or ammonia, nitrate is very low at between 5 and 10. I have got the U2 filter going (no detectable U2 in my tank no, that Bono is
banished..)(sorry..) without the carbon in it.
<If ammonia and nitrite aren't issues, then consider other factors. Could anything poisonous have got into the tank? Insecticides? Paint fumes?>
Yesterday I completed a 3 day course of eSHa, but this seems to have had little beneficial effect. Now we are going on holiday late Friday, and I am very concerned - a neighbour is going to be feeding the fish for me (they have done it before for us),
<Wouldn't feed the fish at all for a week, if that's how long you're gone.
The risks outweigh the benefits. Fish can go two weeks without food if they must, often longer.>
but I am really concerned to make sure that I leave the correct instructions, and of course I can't observe or treat the fish whilst I am away for a week.
<Indeed. Hence, not feeding the fish at least means nitrogen cycle problems aren't something you'll have to worry about.>
Any thoughts? I thought the fungus type stuff I am seeing would be affected by the eSHa but it does not appear to be. It is on the body of the fish - in one case near the eye, another near the tail, on another it is little patches over most of the fish. I am all out of eSHa now, should I get some more and keep on dosing in case this helps? Bearing in mind that I treated the tank only just over a week ago, in an attempt to get rid of this fungus or whatever it is.
<Any chance of a photo?>
Your help is very much appreciated.
<Did you try daily saltwater dips of the infected fish? This is quite good for removing a variety of symptoms, even if it doesn't cure the underlying problem. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platies and Gourami poorly 08/05/09
Thanks for the reply. I am so worried about leaving them all.... Think I need a webcam!
I have sent a couple of pics of the Platies. The Gourami was having none of it, and since he's not coming out for food, taking his picture was not very easy.
<Often the case...>
It has been some 5 or 6 weeks since I did some painting - as per the last two times, one small Gourami died a few days after painting, despite my best efforts with fresh carbon and airing the rooms / keeping relevant doors shut (I was painting the staircase). This issue started around 2 weeks ago I think.
<I have painted around fish tanks, and by using carbon and switching off air pumps you can minimise the risk. Opening all the windows should help.
But air-breathing fish may well be at particular risk.>
I will not bother with the fish feeding, as we are only gone for a week - just make sure they have a water change before we go.. I may ask the neighbour to check for dead ones though.
<Good plan.>
I do hope I don't lose the Gourami, he's our favourite. I have had him two months, he arrived with the Platies which appeared to have fin rot as soon as placed in QT, the fin-rot that took two treatments of eSHa to clear. I wonder if they have brought an infection with them?
<It's worth understanding that Finrot is an opportunistic infection caused by bacteria latent in all aquaria. Fish don't "catch" Finrot from each other; they simply become vulnerable to these ubiquitous, opportunistic bacteria because of environmental issues or physical damage.>
They were in QT for three weeks in all, which I figured should be OK.
Anyhow, pictures attached - hope they are not too large. The most obliging fish has patches around her eye and on top of her head. The Gourami has a few similar bits on his side, which are harder to see.
<The Moonlight Gourami simply looks as if its been fighting, and with appropriate Finrot medication plus good diet and water quality, this should heal nicely. The Platies also look to have an opportunistic infection. With Platies, hardness and pH are important, and it also helps not to keep them too warm. A greens-based diet will be of benefit. All in all, these look like fish that should heal properly, assuming external factors permit that.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tumorous growths on a few in platy group 7/26/2009
Dear Crew: Easy question, not life or death.
<Fire away.>
I wish to know whether Platies are particularly susceptible to tumors.
<Depends how inbred they are; fancy Platies are, as with any inbred fish, more likely to lack the hardiness of their ancestors. Moreover, careless breeding means that deformities are very common.>
Of the various species, only Platies have had slow-growing bumpy growths, and it has been just a few over past two years or more. Fish look fine, no deterioration, except for the huge growths that develop on a very few of the mature individuals, maybe one in 20. This question is more curiosity than worry because generally fish appear to thrive.
<If these are all descendants of a single pair of Platies you bought way back when, it's entirely likely there's a genetic explanation to the deformities or tumours you're seeing here. If you've repeatedly added Platies to your tank from multiple batches of fish, and you repeatedly see otherwise healthy fish develop these abnormalities, there may be something odd going on.>
Conditions: Near the beach in Orange County, Southern California. Fish are in a deep 700 gallon pond in an atrium with partial sun. Summer temps get up to high 70s Fahrenheit. Only heating in winter is modest: I try to keep temp above 63 degrees Fahrenheit by heating a small boxy corner of pond and letting them huddle there. There always is some winter die-off, yet most survive.
<Platies were, ancestrally at least, fairly cool water fish by tropical standards, and the fish we call the Variatus Platy is certainly as much a subtropical fish as anything else. So somewhat cool conditions is not, in itself, a disaster. That said, fancy Platies will lack this hardiness and inbreeding is likely to mean the Xiphophorus hybrids sold as fancy Platies and Swordtails are best kept in fairly warm conditions 365 days a year.>
Platies began with three pairs five years ago. I estimate they number maybe 30-40, just guessing. There is heavy planting, papyrus (roots in pond) and other unknown aquatic plants, rocks, structure, and large 3' tall plastic plants. Pond is heavily filtered with skimmer filter and waterfall filter + large UV fountain. No other aeration. Water does not circulate too strongly, but flows mostly along one wall--fish aren't jostled or fighting currents. Don't know pH or anything technical about water conditions.
<This is important, and Platies are hardwater fish, and under acidic conditions will not do well.>
Water usually is clear. Twice in past few years it was slightly cloudy so I added commercial pond bacteria mixes. I added sea salt (cannot recall recommended proportion I added), but it is not brackish.
<So why add salt at all? Let me make this point crystal clear: tonic salt (as opposed to the salt used in marine aquaria) does nothing at all positive when used in freshwater ponds or aquaria. It doesn't raise pH and it doesn't raise hardness. Waste of money. By all means add a Rift Valley cichlid salt mix if you want, even a DIY mix using Epsom salt, baking soda, and marine aquarium salt mix; such a mix will raise hardness and steady pH very well.
Haven't added new fish in over a year. Population includes maybe 15-20 pineapple swords (growing segment!), 3-4 rosy barbs (haven't bred),
<Like Platies, both of these are low-end tropicals, and Rosy Barbs especially prefer cooler water than most tropicals, and in my opinion would be ideal inmates for an indoor pond.>
couple of gold mollies, maybe a Pleco or two (they hide, and seem not to live more than one and a half to two years),
<These are tropical fish, and the fact they die after a year or so, when they should live 10-20 years, easily, is sad, and you really shouldn't be using them in this set-up.>
1-2 white dojo loaches.
<Also subtropical fish, and ideally suited to an indoor pond.>
Also numerous Gambusia (mosquito fish, a mistake left over from original setup).
<Subtropical fish as well.>
Plus lots of little red shrimp less than one inch long (don't know where they came from).
<Neocaridina shrimps thoroughly enjoy subtropical conditions.>
Oh, and one huge old white and red fantail goldfish. I've not had diseases I can identify, such as Ich or fin or tail rot or anything. Fish look good. One or two fish have died that looked bad, deteriorated fins, but not the tumorous Platies that seem to carry one despite large growths. So any thoughts about Platies and these growths?
<Probably a combination of bad genes and inappropriate environmental conditions; would be tempted to remove them, and concentrate on known subtropical species, like Gambusia, Xiphophorus variatus, Heterandria formosa, wild-caught Poecilia latipinna from the US coastal states, or even more fun, the Goodeid livebearers, many of which, like Ameca splendens, Xenotoca eiseni and Characodon lateralis, thoroughly enjoy subtropical conditions. Sure, some of these are tricky to get via your chain pet stores, but with a bit of work they can be obtained easily enough from fish clubs, fish forum members, regional livebearer associations, or as special orders from better pet stores. If you're a serious fishkeeper with a big pond, why not keep something a bit more interesting that Platies?>
Thanks for your kind help, Miles
<Cheers, Neale.>

stressed Platies; added neon tetras  6/20/09
Dear WetWebMedia:
I have a 20 gal heated freshwater aquarium which has been set up for 2 ½ years. It is well planted and has an Aquaclear 20-50 gal filter. Six days ago, after doing my weekly/biweekly tank cleaning and water change, I bought a school of 8 juvenile neon tetras (10 originally, but 2 ended up in the filter) to add to my current stock of 3 white cloud minnows (2+ years old) 1 Danio, and 6 Platies, (3 adult, 3 juvenile, all born and raised from fry in the tank. The tetras seem very happy, after a day of schooling they dispersed and are now exploring the tank. The minnows and Danio are fine, but after 3 days ago the Platies started to clamp their fins and sit at the top or rest on the bottom of the tank.
I have tested the water daily and there has been no trace of ammonia, but the nitrates are slightly up, probably around 5 ppm. The rest of the water readings remain the same: moderate alkalinity, and the hardness is about 80 ppm (perhaps a bit soft for the Platies?).
<Mmm, should be fine>
Because I live in San Diego with very hard, treated water,
<Ah yes... as do I... in Mira Mesa>
I buy reverse osmosis water for the tank and mix it with a couple of gallons of tap for minerals, and use a dechlorinator. Yesterday I took apart the filter in case that was the problem, and noticed that the sponge was dirty and had plant matter trapped in it, and so I rinsed it in a separate container of tank water and replaced the carbon insert and topped up the tank (roughly 10%), adding a little Seachem stability along with the dechlorinator .
After the filter cleanout and small water change the Platies unclamped their fins, but still stuck to the tank perimeters. This morning one of the Platies was dead. The rest seem very stressed; they have good color but their gills seem to be moving very quickly.
I didn't think that I was overloading the tank by adding the juvenile Neons, and the resident fish didn't chase them, but do you think that I upset the Platies' social environment so much that they are all going to die?
<An interesting speculation... and my first guess in terms of the change in their behavior... but death? Not likely a/the cause itself. I fear a pathogen may have been introduced with the Neons>
They have been happy and hardy fish so far; breeding, eating well etc.
<Good signs of health>
I will do my weekly 25% water change tomorrow and keep an eye on the nitrates, but apart from that can't think of what else to do. Is it the presence of the new fish, or the bioload which is causing the problems?
<Can't say from the data presented>
If the former, will the Platies eventually adjust to their pretty new friends?
<I do hope so>
Thanks for any advice,
<At this juncture, given what you state, have, I would continue sans medicating, changing anything... just stay observant. Bob Fenner>
Re: stressed Platies; added neon tetras   6/21/09

Dear Bob:
You must be right about the pathogen; after writing yesterday, all the other Platies died one by one.
The last was alive and looking very happy in the late evening, but had white spots on his tail. I have never encountered it before, but from reading the site, it sounds like Ich.
<Perhaps this or another Protozoan... could even be a multi-species infestation... No fun>
He was dead by this morning. Does Ich kill so quickly?
<Can, yes>
I also did my weekly 30% water change and discovered one dead neon in the gravel. None of the remaining fish so far have white spots (as far as I can tell with small fish) and are behaving normally.
This is completely my fault for not following the cardinal rule of fishkeeping and quarantining the neon tetras. I have a quarantine tank, but I "quarantined" a dwarf honey Gourami and some zebra Danios in it a few months ago, and my youngest daughter so loves this tank in her bedroom that I didn't have the heart to transfer the fish into the 20 gal tank. I suppose that even the most conscientious fish stores unwittingly sell diseased fish,
<Yes, this is so>
and I must get (yet another) tank. Can fish be successfully quarantined in a plastic bucket with a filter attached?
<Mmm, can... but need a heater... and some sort of cover mainly to prevent "jumping" out>
How long should I wait before replaced the Platies; a month or so?
I obviously need to solve the pathogen problem first.
Thanks for being so helpful to those of us with "basic" aquariums, and so patient with stupid fish-keeper mistakes. As a university professor, I also appreciate your insistence on good grammar.
P.S You were very helpful last year when my angelfish died of Camallanus worms, and recommended a great local fish store. I am practically your neighbour here on Lynx Road, and walk my dog past your house quite often. At the risk of sounding like crazy internet fans, we would like to thank you personally sometime.
<Welcome my/our friend. BobF>

Platy with clamped fins and tail 5/5/09
I have 2 platys in a 10 gallon tank
<Too small for this species... maintaining good health will be difficult. Haven't we discussed this before?>
and one of them seems to be clamping its fins and tails.
<Sounds like "the Shimmies", usually an issue with water quality and/or chemistry.>
It can still swim around though, by swooshing its tail side to side. It does not have other disease symptoms like weird poo or abnormal appetite. I tested the tank water last week and everything was fine except that the pH was high (7.8).
<Bit worried you don't actually understand what "fine" is. The optimal pH for Platies is between 7.5 and 8, so 7.8 is perfect. But that assumes the water is also hard (10-25 degrees dH) and there are zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. In a tank as small as 10 gallons, ensuring pH and water chemistry remain stable will be difficult.>
Is there anything I can do to help the fish?
<Buy a bigger tank...?>
<Much written about maintaining livebearers here at WWM; do please read.
Cheers, Neale.>

Platy problem   5/7/09
Hi, I have a platy that always has rips in its tail.
<Finrot, either from fighting or, more likely, poor water quality.>
I tried treating with antibiotics for several weeks and it only got better to a certain point and I decided to stop because I was stressing my other fish and killing the good bacteria on my BioWheel.
<Used correctly, antibiotics such as Maracyn should have little/no impact on filtration; if you have water quality problems, I'd be looking at other possible problems.>
A few days ago one black molly died of what seemed like ammonia poisoning so for 4 days I did 1/4 water changes and all of the fish have looked ok since. This morning I woke up and the platy that had the fin rips had a swelling between it's anal fins that grew all day and then began shrinking towards the end of the day and now has white stringy poo. I did some research and it says that it may be a parasitic infection.
<Platies do tend to produce a lot of faeces when fed on an algae-rich diet, but if the faeces are white and stringy rather than short and brown, then you may be looking at a problem of some sort. Constipation is always a risk with herbivorous fish, because some people insist on feeding them a carnivorous fish's diet, i.e., regular flake foods. Platies need algae-based flake as well as things like cooked spinach, Sushi Nori, cooked peas and sliced cucumber. Daphnia and brine shrimp have a laxative effect and are useful treats. Chronically poor water quality can cause a variety of problems, including copious production of faeces, via the latent bacteria and Protozoans in the gut that multiply excessively when the fish are stressed.>
However, nothing new has been introduced to my tank in 3 months so I don't think that a parasite could have gotten in. I have a 3 gallon tank,
<Dismal; 3 gallons is a bucket, not an aquarium; why did you think you could keep fish in this death trap? Please read first, spend money second; every aquarium book ever written would tell you this is too small.>
carbon filter, BioWheel. 1 molly, 2 Platies, 1 albino Cory.
<Not nearly big enough for these fish. Platies need to be kept in 15-20 gallons, Mollies around 30 gallons, and Corydoras need to be kept in SCHOOLS of 5 or more specimens, in tanks upwards of 15-20 gallons.
Was treating with Melafix antibiotic.
<Not an antibiotic; largely useless, at best an antiseptic, and certainly won't cure Finrot.>
Platy laying at bottom of tank right now, first time he did that all day though.
<Need a bigger tank, proper use of medications. No data here about water quality and water chemistry; just to review, Platies need 0 ammonia and nitrite, pH 7.5-8, and a hardness 10 degrees dH or higher. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy Has Swollen Anus Region/Lethargic - Detail Correction  4/8/09

I had stated my Platies faeces turned white two days ago. Actually, I noticed the white faeces several days ago, which is what lead me to discover I was not feeding them properly.
<Mmm, not necessarily so... the faeces of fishes, like our own, are principally formed of bacteria... these do change with foods, states of health et al. of the animals. Bob Fenner> 

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