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Toxotes jaculatrix (Pallas 1767), the Banded Archerfish. The principal species used in the trade in the west. Asia and Oceania; India to the Philippines, Indonesia, Vanuatu, the Solomons, New Guinea, northern Australia. To one foot in length. An adult in an aquarium.
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Updated 10/23/2019
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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Reggie 10 year old Goldfish; env. dis.        10/22/19
We have had Reggie for a very long time. He has lived in his 10 gallon tank alone for all this time and has been quite healthy.
<Yikes; even a single goldfish needs more room than this... Likely this fish has been "Bonsai'd", its life foreshortened by long-exposure to its own metabolites. SEE, as in READ on WWM re gf care.>
He has eaten only Spectrum pellets for years now and would normally get maybe 6-7 per day.
<Am a huge fan of the Spectrum line; fed it for years to my fancy goldfish, and to tropicals>
Recently he has been having a hard time getting his pellets. He would always come to the top and we would try to get them as close to his mouth as possible. Sometimes he would even come up and take right from you. Other times they would fall and he would end up searching them out. Lately I would drop in the food always one at a time and he would go for it but keeps missing it. Eventually with much patience would keep trying and he would get. In the past week he would go for the food but go right by it. My son came home from college and said he thinks he got a tumor or something because there appears to be a bulge under his skin near his back.
Hard to really even see it. He thought he was dying but he hasn’t. Was still swimming around until a few days ago when he would try to come up to get food and totally miss it and drop back down to the bottom and stay there.
<Perhaps blind?>
He moves a bit and seems to be breathing but gasping a bit. I decided to do a water change since it had been close to a month and did so.
<... should be done weekly. READ: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/goldfish101art.htm
and the linked files above>
I took out maybe a third or less of the water. I read on the internet to make the water a little warmer so that’s what I did.
<Good technique, percentage>
Now he is really on the bottom and not moving around very much. I took the water to the aquarium store yesterday and she said she thinks I cleaned it too much and the ammonia level is too high
<... any (appreciable, measurable) is too high, toxic>

so she said to scoop out some of the water from the top and add room temperature water and a few drops of the water conditioner as I always do. I also always add aquarium salt but she said not necessary now. Is there anything else I can do?
<A bigger world (at least twenty gallons), more (redundant) filtration, frequent partial water changes (25% weekly)...>

We are going away next week and out of the country to visit our daughter at school for over a week and concerned how someone else will be able to care for him. Even concerned for now! Can you offer any suggestions??
<The reading...>
Thanks Olivia
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Reggie 10 year old Goldfish... deflection      10/23/19

So my question about him sitting on the floor of the tank wasn’t addressed. What do you do?
<Umm, as stated...>
From reading what you said to read about goldfish care it says constipation can be an issue? How would you even know that?
<Not constipation w/ the food you're using>
I am not clear about what I can do to help.
<Please re-read the previous message. BobF>
There has always been a filter in the tank. He has lives so many years in the 12 gallon tank don’t really think he has a problem with this.
Please reply.

re: New rainbow fish won't eat... rechatting re FW ich      10/21/19
Hi again thanks Neale. I'm starting to question if it is in fact ich at all.
It looks a bit too large to be but unsure.
<Ick tends to look like salt grains. Velvet more like powdered sugar.
Anything bigger than these is likely dead tissue, whether bacteria-caused or otherwise.>
At the moment the 15 liter is at 32 degrees and has seachem ParaGaurd in it. I also medication soaked the food in metronidazole, Praziquantel and Levamisole.
<That should do the trick! Quite the cocktail.>
The main tank has been treated with Praziquantel because some guppies were doing scratching. 1 guppy has some clear poop. Unsure what to do with that, the food may fix it unsure.
<Good luck, Neale.>
re: New rainbow fish won't eat      10/21/19

Hi again Neale,
Thanks for your reply.
I wasn't sure if it was ich or a small fungal infection since it didn't change in days (maybe a week) and ich should of so I turned temp in QT tank down to 26.
<Fungal infections typically look like cotton wool. They are very distinctive. 'Mouth Fungus', which is a bacterial infection also known as Columnaris, is different. It forms dead white patches, often on the face,
but also on the gills, and the sick fish will quickly become lethargic and lose weight. Since it isn't a fungus but a bacterial infection, it requires medication as per Finrot.>
I also added blue planet fungus cure in the dose recommended for tetras.
<Fungal infections usually clear up quickly, but do remember that carbon removes medications from the water. Sometimes when medications don't seem to work, it's because the carbon neutralised them.>
I think the bubbles may of been from a supplement I added possibly. Maybe the Hoffa by continuum (fats) or from something else I added. Unsure. Will water change of 30% improve it?
<Water changes rarely a bad idea! But wait 24 hours after dosing the tank with any medicine, otherwise you'll just dilute the medicine.>
Or should I be using something like Purigen or Polyfilter (removes organics)?
<See above re: carbon; any chemical medium is likely to interfere with medication.>
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

re: New rainbow fish won't eat; dis.       10/22/19
Hi again Neale thanks for your reply. Oh yeah the main tank is not where the QT tetra is. The infection is like a dot but slightly fussy I think I dont know if its ich. Kinda doubt it. Could it be neon tetra disease.
<Possibly, though I think some sort of bruise or scratch looks more likely from the photo. If you've medicated as per Finrot and Fungus, and he's not getting any worse, I'd stop treating and simply observe for now.>
I think he's hating it in the QT tank. Could I put him back in main tank?
<Yes, I agree that this would be kinder.>
Should I swab treat with Methylene blue?
<No real point unless it's a fungal infection. Best to just avoid stressing the fish and see what happens. If he's swimming and feeding normally, I'd not do too much beyond that. Cheers, Neale.>

re: New rainbow fish won't eat... chatting re bubbles      10/21/19
Hi again Neale, Recently I've noticed bubbles on the surface of the water of my aquarium. Like bubbles are forming from the normal agitation but not popping that fast.
Do you know what could be causing the bubbles? Thanks
<Persistent bubbles on the surface are usually down to organic material, the "protein" removed by protein skimmers in marine aquaria, or the froth you sometimes see at the seaside. Increasing water flow while ensuring the stock isn't overstocked or under-cleaned should do the trick. In the short
term, paper towel laid on the surface can wick away the oil. Switching the filter off while doing this, so the water is flat, can help, but don't leave the filter off for more than a few minutes at a time. Cheers, Neale.>

re: New rainbow fish won't eat; bubbles       10/22/19
Hi again Neale, I just got a photo of the bubbles what do you think could be causing it? Is it possible its from Seachem Nourish or Continuum Hufa or continuum C? Or from a plant fertiliser?
<Any/all of these are possibilities. It looks like plain vanilla 'protein' froth, as you see on any well-aerated tank with substantial amounts of organic material in the water column. Doesn't do any harm, and improved filtration, alongside frequent water changes, generally helps. Something to adsorb dissolved organic matter can help, such as carbon, but these can produce problems of their own, not least of which is the fact they're replacing useful biological filtration and will need frequent replacement if they're to remain useful.>
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

Neolamprologus multifasciatus stopped breeding     10/20/19
Hi crew,
I have 20 gallon hexagon tank with multies colony for about 7-8 years. In the past I bought 6 juveniles and since then they multiplied in my tank. I did not do anything to protect fry but I was able to keep steady population at about 9-10 fish at a time. But for last year they stopped breeding. My guess it’s due to inbreeding. Currently only 5 fish left. They look happy to me but does not look they will ever breed again. Do you think adding few new juvenile will help to resolve the problem?
<Hi Mark. While fish probably don't have a "menopause" as such, it's certainly true that fertility declines with age, especially with fish (like these small cichlids) that have lived much longer in captivity than in the wild. Inbreeding can also cause problems, so if your colony is mostly descended from a single batch of locally bred fish, chances are they were all siblings. Even if farmed, there's still a good chance the original six were related. Either way, after a few generations you can end up with a situation where most offspring came from a single dominant pair within the colony, and all the younger fish are closely related to some degree. So yes, freshening up the gene pool with some newly imported offspring may help, ideally wild-caught specimens. Needless to say, a quick review of the environment is always worth doing. Older tanks suffer from pH and hardness declines than can stress Malawian and Tanganyikan cichlids, even if not actually killing them. High nitrate levels also have a strong negative effect on cichlid fertility, so clearing out organic muck while freshening up the filter media in a canister filter, if used, will do something to offset this. Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking shoaling fish, FW        10/19/19
A quick question while my 100 litre tank cycles. I am planning to stock with groups of 8-10 of sterbai corydoras, rummy nose tetras, and silver hatchetfish. My question is when stocking a shoaling species, how many can I add to the tank at once?
<Mmm; depends on such factors as what you have placed already, the size of the system, filtration, species being added... >
for instance, can I bring home 8 corries, and introduce four at once, keeping the other four temporarily in a QT, or is it better to buy them at separate times? I know you shouldn’t introduce too many fish at once, but don’t want to stress them by being alone. Also don’t
want to establish pecking orders by having different size/age of fish.
As always, thanks for your help.
<Ahh, for these Corydoras and your 100 liter, I'd add all at once, after the system is cycled. Bob Fenner>
Re: Stocking shoaling fish     10/20/19

Thanks, Bob. Tap water pH 6.4,
<Oh; may want to raise this up a bit... perhaps 6.8 or so... with simple sodium bicarbonate or commercial product... for the catfish>
temp. 27, KH & GH near 0. Only purchased
driftwood and Amazon Frogbit in tank, Eheim external canister 250.
<Nice! A fave plant and my most favorite brand/make of filters>
So I’ll
add entire shoal of each species one at a time after cycling complete.
<Ah, good. B>

re: New rainbow fish won't eat... more fish sickness     10/18/19
Hi again Neale!
<Hello again,>
Thanks for your reply.
Good news. So the fish weren't improving and the pet store offered a refund and allowed me to return the 5 sick fish. They also replaced the 4 Otos.
Recently my friend gave my Rummynose back only his rams had bad ich and now the Rummynose has 2 ich spots and mild what looks like fin rot.
<Sounds like his/her tank has some underlying problems, with both Ick and Finrot being opportunistic. But in any case, caught early, both should be easily treated.>
So I caught it and QT it in a 15 liter container with a heater and filter thing. Working on putting temp up to 32 to cure the ich. Is that a good idea?
<It can work, but it isn't my favourite approach. I prefer to include salt (non-iodised cooking salt is fine) at 2 gram per litre. At 28-30 C, this should work nicely. The heat is about speeding up the life cycle, such that the mobile form (which the salt kills) emerge from the fish within a day or two. Additional aeration is usually essential, since warmer water holds less oxygen.>
What should I use to treat the mild fin rot?
<A good antibacterial medication is the default. Antibiotics are ideal, else reputable Finrot medications such as eSHa 2000 or Waterlife Myxazin.
Avoid anything marketed as "mild" or "natural" as these usually include tea-tree oil or some other vaguely antibacterial product that have proven to be unreliable in aquaria.>
Oh also this is a vid of the tank now. You can't rly notice the ich on the 1 fish in this tho. I put Praziquantel in main tank due to some fish scratching. I think they may have gill flukes possibly.
<Looks a lovely tank. Nice to see the Anubias flowering! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Golden Puffer behaving oddly    10/17/19
Hi there,
<Hi William>
It’s a 100gal saltwater DT with 20gal sump. Since adding the Golden Puffer 3 weeks ago, nitrite remained at zero, nitrate went from 10 ppm to 25 ppm, and ammonia stayed at <0.15 ppm. I’m running an oversized protein skimmer and biopellet reactor in the sump, along with live rock plus various other bio media. I’m also dosing Red Sea NoPox daily.
Its diet consists mainly of Hikari frozen krill (fed 3x per week) plus whatever its tank mates are eating. Within the last week, I’ve also fed it half a silverside (so it’s eaten 1 whole silverside so far).
<Did you quarantine the puffer ahead of placing it in the DT?>
Speaking of tank mates, it’s sharing space with blue tang, juvenile harlequin tusk wrasse, Niger trigger, juvenile queen angel, juvenile Goldflake angel, and juvenile mappa puffer.
<Mmm...a bit overcrowded for a 100 gal and will be more as they get larger.>
The Golden Puffer (GP) is the big boy of the tank and the only fishes that bother it sometimes are the two angels. The angels’ harassment stopped about a week ago because the GP started fighting back against them but ever since the GP became lethargic, the angels resumed their bad behavior against the GP.
<Perhaps your GP is constipated and that, may be the cause of its swollen belly and lethargy, give it a couple of days to see if it digests whatever that may be blocking its intestinal tract, it should resume feeding once it gets hungry again. Do also keep an eye on the two angels to see if aggression diminishes, otherwise you will have to separate them. >
I hope this helps.
All the best,
William Lei
<Please do keep us posted. Wil.>

Re: Eviota Gobies    10/17/19
Thanks!!! That helps a lot!!
<Great, Kathy!>
My group includes one that is showing that longer dorsal fin you speak of, and some darker shading on the ventral fin area. The others three all look the same.
They are super pretty little fish, really surprised more people don’t keep them.
<I am surprised too...these are really neat fish!>
They are much better colored in person than many of the photos I’ve seen of them online.
I’m including some pics I’ve captured of mine in my aquarium.
This last photo isn’t mine but this is similar to the color and dorsal fin length of the one I suspect is the male in my group.
<Thanks for sharing. Wil.>

Help Identifying this macroalgae    10/17/19
<Hi Holly>
I have this macroalgae taking over a couple of rocks in my tank. It's starting to spread to a third rock now as well. It's pretty, but I'm getting concerned it's going to be a nuisance and damage corals.
So far, nothing in the tank eats it (I thought perhaps my emerald crab or Halloween urchin would, but no). The tank is a 32g biocube, so I can't put a Rabbitfish or tang in it. Can you help me identify it and give me ideas on controlling it? It may be Fauchea laciniata, but I'm not sure.
<It appears to be some type of red macro algae, probably Halymeda floridiana; not harmful but needs nitrates to survive, you might want to test for NO3.>
It's very short and individual little leaves are attached by a single point to the rock. I'm including some pictures from when it started and current, First picture is from 9/12 and second picture is from one month later, 10/12.
Interesting observation, so far, it's only growing on the man made Real Reef rock, and not on the natural live rock in the tank (so far anyway).
<It looks it prefers the smooth surface of your "man made rock." If you notice it starts to spread beyond control, you can manually trim it.>
Holly LaClair-Bogedain
<Cheers. Wil>

Bottom-sitting Bolivian       10/15/19
I believe my fish is recovering now, but from what I'm not sure.
<Good to hear!>
In many years of fishkeeping I haven't dealt with something like this and couldn't find it in any book.
Tankmates in my 30 gallon are one Bolivian Ram, seven well behaved Pristella tetras and three African dwarf frogs.
<Pristella tetras are great, and good companions for the Rams. The frogs are a bit of a gamble, being tricky to feed at the best of times.>
Sandy bottom, lots of plants and caves. Tank has been cycled for years and water parameters are 0, 0 , 10 with 7.8 pH and 80* F. Weekly water changes of 25%.
<Sounds fine.>
About six weeks ago my two-year old Bolivian Ram suddenly began bottom-sitting and spending more time in the back of tank instead of front and center as usual. No change in color, no clamped fins, remains alert and his appetite good, but gets around with some difficulty. I target feed him, and tried sneaking in some kanamycin but he wouldn't touch that. He heartily eats a variety of Spirulina flakes, cichlid pellets, and occasional frozen-thawed treats however. No freeze-dried food. The only medicating I've done is Epsom salt for a few days which neither helped nor hurt. He continued bottom-sitting but got no worse. I was getting ready to write you when yesterday for the first time in weeks he was hovering
*above* the bottom and swimming about more. Still not 100% but hopefully he's on the mend from whatever ailed him.
Could his swim bladder have been out of order temporarily? Is that a thing?
<Not really, no. While I'm sure swim bladder infections are possible, mostly it's a symptom, like a runny nose in humans, and not a specific disease. Mostly when people say "swim bladder disease" what they actually mean is that the fish isn't swimming properly. That can have all kinds of causes. Constipation at the mild end of the range, all the way through to genetic disorders and lethal bacterial infections.>
Usually bottom sitting this long doesn't end well, so it's curious. If he relapses should I try the antibiotic in a qt bath? Thanks so much for being here. Your work is much needed and appreciated. Jannika
<If the fish is recovering, I'd be tempted to leave things be. Epsom Salt can be used safely for as long as you want, and antibiotics, if used correctly, should be safe. Treating with Metronidazole is another good idea with sick cichlids, handling the common Hexamita and similar infections better than anything else. But beyond that, observing and waiting is probably the best bet. Cheers, Neale.>

Researching for a new tank; FW sys. H2O trtmt., Mbu puffer...     10/12/19
First a little background. When I lived in NY I had both freshwater and saltwater aquariums for over 10 years. I used regular tap water for the freshwater tank and I had a e-spring filter for my saltwater.
<Ahh, the water/source filter>
That setup worked perfectly. I recently moved to Dallas Texas and was thinking about doing a very large freshwater tank but while doing research, I keep running into more questions.
Everyone here says the water here is hard. And it is. It also tastes bad.
<Ah yes... do know re; even so, better than the liquid rock we put up w/ in S. Cal>
I purchased a new house and was recommended to install a water softener system for the house which uses salt. I have not installed it yet. How would I make sure my appliances and bath water are clean without this? And how would I maintain a tank if I do install this?
<I would definitely skip using such ion-exchange, salt charged water for potable and aquarium uses. Too much sodium... You could have a dual set of plumbing, or at least one line that skips such a water conditioner (outside of the house outlets do so). Oh, and there are other means of whole or partial house water filtration. I use some R.O. mixed with tap myself...>
I am trying to keep a tank for a Mbu puffer, silver arowana and maybe a stingray.
<DO study up re the Mbu... get really big and MEAN! Likely to bite the other fishes. Bob Fenner>
Researching for a new tank /Neale       10/12/19

First a little background. When I lived in NY I had both freshwater and saltwater aquariums for over 10 years. I used regular tap water for the freshwater tank and I had a e-spring filter for my saltwater. That setup worked perfectly. I recently moved to Dallas Texas and was thinking about doing a very large freshwater tank but while doing research, I keep running into more questions.
Everyone here says the water here is hard. And it is. It also tastes bad. I purchased a new house and was recommended to install a water softener system for the house which uses salt. I have not installed it yet. How would I make sure my appliances and bath water are clean without this? And how would I maintain a tank if I do install this?
I am trying to keep a tank for a Mbu puffer, silver arowana and maybe a stingray.
<The main thing to recognise here is that a domestic water softener is not what you want for fishkeeping. Since you're an experienced fishkeeper, I'll cut to the chase: domestic water softeners don't de-mineralise water, they remove temporary hardness (i.e., carbonate salts) using an ion exchange system, typically using sodium chloride. The result is water that will lather nicely, reducing laundry costs, and won't create limescale around pipes and heating elements. The downside is that the water has increased levels of sodium chloride, and the permanent hardness (typically sulphate
and chloride salts) isn't removed at all. So what you're creating isn't deionised water, but simply mineral-rich water with a different composition to the tap water you started with. It's debatable whether the amount of sodium is actually high enough to be harmful to drink, though most water softener companies install a bypass tap in the kitchen so that people have the option to drink the un-softened water (which is what most doctors recommend, simply on the basis of 'better safe than sorry' rather than any actual science). It should also go without saying that typical water softeners do nothing about nitrate and phosphate levels, nor ammonia and chlorine. Cut a long story short, if you do need to soften your tap water, you'll need an RO system operating separately from the domestic water softener. The eSpring system is simply a carbon block with or without a UV filter that does a bit of polishing to tap water, and doesn't meaningfully change water chemistry. It might well improve the taste of the water as far as you're concerned, but isn't making any difference to your fish. It's the old truth about any cheap solution like this -- if it really did work, we'd all be using it! RO filters are much more expensive, but widely used by marine aquarists simply because they actually work. They remove minerals as well as nitrate, phosphate, etc. What you get is essentially pure water, to which you can add whatever mineral mix you need, whether marine salt mix or something like Discus or Rift Valley salt mix. In any case, Stingrays are astonishingly expensive to keep successfully because they need essentially nitrate-free living conditions, which usually means RO water unless you happen to have tap water with well below 20 mg/l nitrate. Stingrays (and indeed Arowanas) don't care much about water chemistry, and will thrive in medium hardness water (up to about 12 degrees dH) provided water quality is excellent. There's plenty of info on RO filters elsewhere on the WWM website, but if you need any further advice, please do ask. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Researching for a new tank       10/12/19

Thank you for responding. I checked the house and there’s a garden house outlet right outside the window where the tank will go so I can fill with garden hose and run the filter for a few hours. And for top offs I’ll just collect water in a brute and let settle. This was I can still have the water softener for the house and pipe water for the tank. Does that seem like a better option?
<Yes it does; if you don't mind the inconvenience of heating the water up, I'd store a week in advance of use (for regular vacuuming weekly and water changes). Bob Fenner>

Ick Cure     10/12/19
Good Moring,
Can I use ick cure in my tank that has a Columbian catfish in it.
<The API product? I would NOT use Malachite Green on scaleless catfishes...
Instead, a real cure can be effected here by raising temperature, and possibly adding sea salt. Please READ here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Ick Cure /Neale       10/12/19

Good Moring,
Can I use ick cure in my tank that has a Columbian catfish in it.
<I can think of absolutely no reason why you would have to. None at all.
Columbian Shark Catfish are brackish to marine catfish, any above SG 1.002, Whitespot/Ick parasites simply won't survive. The free-living stages will be killed immediately, which means, at tropical temperatures, infected Catfish moved into brackish or marine conditions should be completely free of Whitespot/Ick within a week or so. Conversely, if you're keeping the Columbian Sharks in a saltwater system, moving them temporarily into low-end brackish or even hard freshwater should kill off the marine Ick, Cryptocaryon, within a few days as well. Oh, and if you're keeping Columbian Sharks in a plain freshwater tank, then don't. Just don't. Add the salt, and the Whitespot will go! Cheers, Neale.>

ID catfish      10/9/19
So back in Feb we got given a little Catfish, maybe 2.5-3 inches long nose to tail tip. We all assumed this was a Syno eupterus.
He/she is very timid and after 7 months not often seen other than whisker tips poking out of the cave only to disappear if you look at it.
Anyway from the occasional disturbance during vacuuming the little guy is probably only 4 inches big now, or double platy length. Everything I read says they grow 1 inch per month? I believe it is getting enough food because if we forget to give it wafers overnight it decimates my 7 year old crypts as punishment, but otherwise leaves all plants alone.
As it is so shy I don't have any photos other than when it was in the bag in Feb, but it is still a pale cream colour with dark spots.
Do we have a hybrid, a dwarf, or can you think of anything else that might look like a Featherfin but remain smaller (in which case I would consider more...)?
We are at the point now of moving everything from the 180 l into our 6 foot tank, and if this guy is going to undergo a growth spurt and threaten our Endler's and celestial pearls now is the time for rehoming, cos I don't think I'll ever be able to catch it in the big tank!
Thanks for any insight,
<<It may be a hybrid, resembling Synodontis nigriventris in some ways. But I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest Synodontis polystigma. It's a Congo species, so might creep into batches of wild-caught fish -- something that quite often happens with wild-caught fish, with collectors chucking in some "make weight" fish into their haul. I'd also suggest you spend some time over on PlanetCatfish, at the Synodontis page, here:
It's a good place to try and identify mystery specimens. Cheers, Neale.>

Cardinal tetra with balloon like scales       10/8/19
Dear WWM,
My cardinal developed a single, large, solid white, ball-like spot on its flank about 2 weeks ago. It seemed completely active and normal otherwise and the single spot was unlike anything I could find pictures or descriptions of. After speaking to the fish store who didn't think it looked fungal, I decided to watch and wait. The "spot" disappeared after 7 or 8 days. At this point the fish developed some fluffy cotton wool like patches which seemed more classically fungal, and another in the shoal of 8 cardinals also seemed to show a small patch of something similar. I put the two fish in a hospital tank and started to treat with a treatment called Dessamoor, which contains copper sulphate, ethacridine lactate, Methylene blue, and Acriflavine chloride. I followed the dosing instructions accurately but when I checked in on the fish after about 4 or 5 hours (who had seemed pretty normal behaviourally despite the cotton wool), they had lost most of their colour. I guessed that if I left them there they would die. So I put them back in my community aquarium and just watched. Over the next week, the fish with the more obvious problems seemed to get more of the growth. The other one's possible cotton wool tuft seemed to clear up. Then I realised about two days ago that the scales of cardinal with the greater problems seemed to have swollen up hideously - see picture attached. I'm not sure when this started - it's possible that the 'cotton wool' appearance was an early stage of the process. It was a bit difficult to see well in a well planted 120 L tank.
I have now put this poor fish in a separate container (my "hospital" tank is currently occupied by an aggressive dwarf gourami). I will buy a new hospital tank for the cardinal tomorrow. I wanted to try salt but I've read that cardinals tolerate it poorly. I have just bought Melafix and Pimafix and was going to try these empirically - but having read other advice on your website it seems these don't do anything. So I am at a loss. I have no idea what to do or what the disease is. Oddly, the fish is active and until I separated it was behaving as normal and eating well. Now it's stressed, buzzing intermittently about its container, and won't eat, but I am pretty sure the latter is stress-related rather than due to the illness. The 7 other cardinals all look fine, as do 3 corys and an Ancistrus. I've a couple of dwarf gouramis as well. They occasionally seem to get agitated and brush against plants as if they are itching these past 3 or 4 days. But they have no external stigmata thus far, and most of the time look and behave normally and seem happy enough.
Finally, the problems seemed to start when over a 2-month period I cleaned the tank about 2 times only given holidays etc. Usually I do a partial water change (approx 30%) weekly. After separating the cardinal a couple of days back, in the absence of knowing what if anything to treat the main tank with I did a 70% water change and rinsed all the plants, driftwood, gravel. My water parameters are nitrite 0, nitrate 25 mg/L, general hardness >16°, carbonate hardness 20°, pH 6.8, Cl2 0.
Please help...!
<I am not optimistic here. The bubbles are epidermal tissue that has swollen up with tissue fluid, and now protrudes past the scales. It's the sort of thing we'd call Dropsy if the swelling was internal. There's no obvious solution here. A good antibiotic might be worth a shot. The use of salt, at 2 gram/litre, is perfectly safe with Amazonian fish such as Cardinals for short periods (a few days or weeks) and is actually much less stressful than traditional medicines such as formalin and organic dyes. It's a tough one. If this fish is stressed, then humanely destroying it will be the best move. But if it's feeding and otherwise behaving normally, you might elect to medicate. Good luck, Neale.>

Synodontis big belly        10/4/19
Hello crew! Hope to pick your brain a bit... I have two Synodontis nigriventris cats that are fully grown and seem to have been healthy and happy for the past year. I’ve watched them double in size and they eat EVERYTHING; the larger one is so brazen that he “crawls” around the sides and tank in broad daylight when I make my way over! I have a pearl gourami and five cherry barbs, and I vary the diet in my tank daily... any combo of flakes, shrimp pellets, NLS Float pellets, Hikari algae sinking wafers, Hikari micro pellets, freeze-dried blood worms once a week as a treat, and a feeding day off every week. The attached picture shows my smaller Synodontis and a very swollen ”belly”, in my opinion. I know they overeat and their bellies bulge, but is this too drastic? If so, should I take action? I try to be very careful not to overfeed. Thank you in advance for your always helpful expertise! —Matt from NJ
<<Hello Matt. You might simply have a female, and if yours are anything like mine, the female looks a bit like an speckled egg with fins attached! Periodically she thins out, so I'm guessing there's some sort of egg laying cycle going on, but this species is rarely bred in captivity, so hard to know the details. In any case, if the Syno is some years old, I'd perhaps observe for the time being, and certainly avoid overfeeding. My specimens get actual catfish food maybe 2-3 times a week, one Hikari algae wafer per 3 specimens. The rest of the time I'm letting them eat softened green foods (peas, courgette, etc.) as well as algae and whatever snails they find in the tank (both major food component in the wild). They're chunky and something like 15 years old now, so presumably doing okay. I'm glad you're enjoying these cats, which like all Syno species, are naturally very nocturnal, but will become day-active once settled and happy. Floating plants are a great way to get them visible when the lights are on! Cheers, Neale.>>

Re: Synodontis big belly      10/5/19
Hi Neale... Great advice, thank you! I feel much better. And yes, I took your advice a while back about purchasing these guys in the first place, and the bigger one (not pictured) flies “crawls” the tank all day, as you said, because of the surface cover. Thanks again. —Matt
<<Glad to have helped, and good luck. Certainly my female is positively rotund, and it doesn't seem to have done any harm given her considerable age. Cheers, Neale.>>

ADF, hlth. concern      10/3/19
To whom it may concern.
Zen, my african dwarf frog, has a small white spot on his foot, I'm thinking of taking him to see a vet, I'm in Perth Scotland. However I thought I would ask you for advice first.
Yours sincerely
<Mmm, I'd hold off (For what it is worth)... this may be a simple bump/break that will likely heal in time, not something pathogenic, nor directly "treatable". Simple good care... water conditions, nutrition;
should see this ADF to recovery. Please see Neale's piece here re:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
ADF /Neale         10/4/19

To whom it may concern.
<Hello Rosemary,>
Zen, my african dwarf frog, has a small white spot on his foot, I'm thinking of taking him to see a vet, I'm in Perth Scotland. However I thought I would ask you for advice first.
Yours sincerely
<Trip to the vet is never a bad idea! But in this case, if the frog is feeding normally, and otherwise looks healthy, try medicating with a reliable anti-bacterial medication first. My recommendation in the UK is a
product called eSHa 2000 that treats both fungal and bacterial diseases, and tends to be tolerated well by fish and amphibians. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ADF      10/6/19

Hi Neal
I brought eSHa 2000 as advised in the previous email, we have a 50 litre aquarium, do you recommend half dose as they are frogs as a face book group suggested for other medications. Okay there's fish too but I'm more concerned for Zen and Rupert. As eSHa recommended 13 drops day 1, 6 day 2 and 3. ( from their dosage calculator for fish).
Just thought I would ask before I did anything.
<Understood. But I think doing half doses often allows the pathogen to multiply to the point where the fish (or frog) ends up dying because the disease is now too far gone. I'd personally go the full dose, and have never had any problems with eSHa 2000, even with sensitive fish like puffers and loaches. But if you want to be careful, add half the dose on day 1, and see what happens. If the frogs are fine, then go the full dose on days 2 and 3. Observe the frogs, especially the first couple of hours from dosing, and if there are any signs of distress, do an immediate 50% water change. Alternatively, do half doses all the way through, but if there's no sign of improvement, you may well need to do a repeat course (after a 50% water change) using the full dose on all three days.>
Yours sincerely
<Cheers, Neale.>

re: New rainbow fish won't eat; How do I measure alkalinity?       10/1/19
Hi Neale thanks for your reply
How do I measure alkalinity? Because I was buffering ph and kh? Yet the product mentions alkalinity a lot
<For freshwater systems, alkalinity and carbonate hardness are essentially interchangeable. Alkalinity is technically the ability of water to resist acidification, but in freshwater tanks, most of this capacity is down to carbonate hardness. Hence, no need to fuss over the difference. Low KH will likely be low alkalinity, and vice versa. Cheers, Neale.>
re: New rainbow fish won't eat; How do I measure alkalinity?       10/1/19
Hi again Neale Thanks for your reply.
I have just been working out keeping the other container with snails clean and doing some water changes on the main tank to remove the meds. Also added seachem Purigen. I was reading those 2 products and it seems the former has a lot more potassium than the later one. So yeah I will get the alkalinity one. The kh in my tank is 2-3 what am I aiming for? It seems pretty close to the tap water.
<Most New Guinean Rainbowfish are happy around 5-10 degrees KH, alongside moderate general hardness (5-15 degrees dH). So long as the pH is steady around 7.5, and the KH is at least 5, the water is probably fine, and won't need any further diddling around with. Cheers, Neale.>

Oiled Chelonian      10/1/19
Theres been a spill in the aquarium......baby oil?.... Yikes, will it harm our turtle?
<Not likely, no. As long as the turtle has not ingest a bunch, it should be fine. Wiping it and the insides of the emptied tank with paper towels should fix the mess. Bob Fenner>

Re: New rainbow fish won't eat... Now shrimp ID       9/28/19
Hi again Neale I was wondering if you could ID this shrimp? I have no idea what it is. I thought it was A long arm Murray river shrimp but then after 2 weeks it went a brilliant blue color
<Most likely a Macrobrachium species, possibly Macrobrachium dayanum var. "blue", but hard to say. Cheers, Neale.>

Arowana Behavior       9/25/19
I recently bought a Green Arowana (small guy) from my LFS.
<Hope you have a big tank!>
I also got a pack of freeze dried shrimps for feeding him. I have had him for a week now.
<Shrimp is fine for a while, but contains thiaminase, so use sparingly.
Better foods are insects (such as mealworms and crickets) together with small bits of white fish fillet (such as tilapia).>
One thing that I have observed from his behavior that he swims up searching for food at particular times. I break a piece of shrimp into two and he then eats the pieces. Once after he has had may be around three to four pieces, he goes back down again and sits at the bottom of the tank as if resting and swims at the bottom.
<Not normal.>
Is this a known behavior?
<How big is the tank? How strong is the filter? Arowanas will misbehave in cramped conditions or still water.>
He looks healthy and doesn't seen to be looking weak or ill. When checked with my lfs, they suggest to give feeder live fish during the weekends and shrimp during the week.
<Terrible advice. Never use live feeder fish, unless you want a sick fish!>
Can you please advise what would be a good feeding pattern (if any) and also on the behaviour of the fish.
<See above. Wild Arowana mostly eat insects when young, so that should be your start point.>
Thanks and regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>


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