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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 8/24/2019
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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

The hole      8/24/19
Here is a beer picture of the how it's getting bigger
<Yes, this female guppy is giving birth... parturition. BobF>

Question about African Clawed Frog      8/23/19
Hi, I was wondering about my Albino African Clawed Frog. It is turning black like it has dirt on it, but we just cleaned the tank that it is in.
<Hard to say without a photo. Couple of obvious things to ask. First, did you use a water conditioner? If not, ammonia or chlorine could be irritating the skin and/or causing damage. Secondly, was there a lot of
silt in the water? This can stick the mucous on the frog, but will wash away in time. Will direct you to some reading for now:
While popular critters and quite hardy, Xenopus are not without a few basic needs. These include relatively cool water (20 C/68 F) and adequate space (60 litres/15 US gallons). They rarely cohabit well with fish or other animals, and while a filter of some sort is essential, very turbulent water flow rates will stress them. Cheers, Neale.>

Mbu puffer tank      8/23/19
For the last 2 months I have been cycling a 2000 litre aquarium for a mbu puffer (7ft x 4ft).
<A good starting point, but be aware of how big these fish can become. Some would argue even 2000 litres is less than ideal.>
I am finally collecting the mbu next week and just tested my water :
Ammonia <0.05
Nitrite 0.025
<These two really need to be zero.>
Nitrate 5
I know sometimes the test kits aren’t exact but I’m worried about the nitrite of .025 but should that be fine?
<Hard to say without knowing the brand of test kit or even how good you are judging the colours. Dip strip test kits for example are generally regarded as imprecise, and while this margin of error would be adequate for bog standard community fish, it might be risky with sensitive species such as a Mbu Puffer. I would be tempted to try the nitrite kit at least against one or more alternative test kits. Your local retailer may well offer this service, especially if they deal with expensive fish such as marines. I'd also check your values against your tap water. For example if you have neutralised (via water conditioner) any chloramine in the tap water, a test kit can register that as ammonia, even though it is harmless.>
I do 30% water change 3 times a week
<Sounds good. If the Mbu Puffer is relatively small now, say, 10 cm long, and kept in a 2000 litre tank with regular water changes, any slight backlog in ammonia and nitrite processing by your biological filter should fix itself over the next couple of weeks. "Fish-less" cycling methods are a bit unreliable, so while the filter may be more or less mature, it might be a week or two before it really beds down properly. Given the size of the tank, and the frequency of water changes, you should be fine with a small fish, much as you can finish off the cycling process of a community tank with a few Danios and not expect any major problems. Still, keep an open mind, and regularly test the water for at least the first month, and thereafter, at least weekly until you're 100% sure everything is working as it should.>
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Mbu puffer tank      8/23/19

Thanks Neale,
<Most welcome.>
It is the JBL full master test kit.
<Should be decent.>
The ammonia of <0.05 is the lowest that is on the results pad.
<So can you assume it's zero?>
The nitrite is the second lowest, but it is very hard to tell the difference in colours.
<Indeed. I'd still compare and contrast with a second kit, even if just the once at your retailer.>
The tank itself has a large in built filter (it runs the whole way down the side of the tank, so 4 ft by 2ft by about 10 inches of bio media). It was not fishless cycling, it has had 3 baby giant gourami (about 3 inches) since week 2, though they are now about 5-6 inches. I plan to rehome them into my 1000 litre tank.
<Understood. Filter really should be mature then. Only things you might check are whether water current sufficient (remember, you want a filter turnover rate of something like 8 times the volume of the tank per hour) and whether the selection of media chosen are appropriate (i.e., more biological media, less chemical, especially carbon, which would probably be pointless here).>
The initial plan was to keep the gourami in the big tank until I found a mbu of a decent size, I didn't want to put a small mbu in as I hear they can be very unstable until a decent size.
<Possibly, but I think this is more to do with people tending to try and keeping juveniles in very small tanks, and keeping them in such small tanks for far too long, postponing the necessary upgrade. So net result is a juvenile in increasingly poor environmental conditions. In and of themselves, Puffers aren't delicate fish by any means, and it's notable that in marine fishkeeping, they're often regarded as among the toughest fish around. I certainly had far more trouble with Neon Tetras than any pufferfish species!>
I know it is hard to find MBU's of a decent size so wanted to make sure the tank was up and running, just happens that the opportunity to buy this one has come up.
<Correct. But even so, I'd tend to recommend the 40 cm Tetraodon species, such as Tetraodon lineatus, for people who want bigger puffers simply because their size demands are so much less. There are also some lovely marine species of similar size, like Arothron hispidus, that are lively, easy to keep, and quite peaceful. But if you're dead-set on Tetraodon mbu, you seem to be going around it in the right way, and have realistic expectations of what's needed. I'll direct you to an old article on this website from an experienced Tetraodon mbu owner, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mbupuffer.htm
While lovely fish, they aren't for the faint-hearted (or the financially challenged).>
The mbu is about 9-10 inches.
<And should get to well over twice that, aquarium specimens tending to level off around the 50-60 cm mark. Much bigger specimens have been reported in the wild, but I've never seen aquarium specimens bigger than 60 cm.>
Please can you advice whether you think it should be ok or best to avoid?
<See above. They are interesting pets, and if you have the space, time and money to set them up with the right tank from the get-go, they aren't difficult to keep. Your biggest challenge is keeping nitrate relatively low, especially if your tap water has high nitrate levels to start with.
Ideally, nitrate should be less than 20 mg/l, but certainly below 40 mg/l.
Other than running out of space, owners often run into the problem of over-long teeth. In the UK there's some debate about the legality of performing "tooth cutting" procedures on pufferfish. But certainly make yourself aware of how to try to keep your Puffer's teeth worn down as best you can, and if you can't find a vet capable of cutting the teeth, find out how to do it yourself. Obviously as the fish becomes so much larger than the average pufferfish, sedating and handling the fish becomes that much more complicated. I've used cuticle clippers on small pufferfish species, and clove oil to sedate them, but for the bigger species, power tools may be needed:
This sort of procedure is probably well outside what the British veterinary community would consider acceptable for untrained people, given the distress it will cause the fish. So realistically, while I'm happy to recommend cuticle clippers for the literally 10-second job of nipping off the ends of South American Pufferfish teeth, adult Tetraodon mbu will probably need a trip to the vet at some point if their teeth aren't kept worn down naturally.>
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Better, difficult water parameters (Betta splendens)      8/22/19
I have a male betta in 5 gallons, filtered, WC every other day.
<Mmm; I'd do water changes just once a week>
My tap water has a PH of 8.5 and KH of 4. GH is 8-9.
<Got you>
I can drop the PH by mixing with water from another tank that has organics, or mix with RO (current strategy) as aerating overnight does nothing to drop the ph.
<Ah no; boiling might, but... I would not do this>
Regardless of the method, when the PH drops to 7.8 or 8, the KH has dropped to 2.5. I’ve tried the SeaChem products to buffer by bracketing and if the KH is at 4 or 5, the Ph is once again at least 8.5.
Can my Betts live comfortably in an 7.8-8 range PH with a KH of 2.5. ?
Is the PH or the KH the bigger problem?
<A bit of both at extremes... put more clearly (hopefully), you have to have/want "some" KH (or GH), and a pH that is neither too high, nor low... The values you mention are fine for "modern" Betta splendens (cultured; let's say versus some species that might be closer generations-wise to wild-collected)>
These tanks are not cycled, I just do water changes every day with a drop of Prime. I have sponge filters cycling in a bucket, but not finished yet.
<Ahh; I would cycle them, move the media when it is ready, go to the weekly partial (half) water changes. All will be well otherwise (given the water quality parameters mentioned here)>
Thank you so much,
Amy Larson
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Better, difficult water parameters /Neale      8/23/19

I have a male betta in 5 gallons, filtered, WC every other day. My tap water has a pH of 8.5 and KH of 4. GH is 8-9.
<As you probably realise, pH is a bit high for this species. But that would seem to be a result of your water chemistry, though your carbonate hardness doesn't seem especially high.>
I can drop the pH by mixing with water from another tank that has organics, or mix with RO (current strategy) as aerating overnight does nothing to drop the pH.
<Indeed not. If there's a source of alkalinity in the aquarium, such as seashells or lime-containing gravel, or the water itself has some buffering capacity, any direct pH changes will be temporary.>
Regardless of the method, when the pH drops to 7.8 or 8, the KH has dropped to 2.5.
<Correct. Do you remember at school the old "acid plus alkali equals salt plus water" idea? This is more or less applicable here. When you add acid to a hard water aquarium, that acid is neutralised by the alkalinity in the water. Normally, this alkalinity is, in part or in whole, the carbonate hardness. So the acid reacts with the carbonate, and both are combined to form a soluble salt of some kind. The acid has therefore lowered the carbonate hardness. The carbonate hardness will continue to react with acid so long as acid is present, which is why carbonate hardness is a good indicator of buffering capacity -- it inhibits pH changes.>
I’ve tried the SeaChem products to buffer by bracketing and if the KH is at 4 or 5, the pH is once again at least 8.5.
<The basic rule is don't EVER try and change pH directly. It's pointless. At best it's a hit-and-miss approach; at worst you just fill your tank up with competing chemicals that produce unstable water chemistry that stresses your fish.>
Can my Bettas live comfortably in an 7.8-8 range pH with a KH of 2.5. ?
<It is not ideal, but tolerable if all else is positive.>
Is the pH or the KH the bigger problem?
<A-ha! You're on the right track now. When you decide to change water chemistry, you adjust hardness, whether KH, GH, or both. If you want soft, acidic conditions, your aim is to lower the hardness, because it's hardness (not pH) that matters to fish. If you have hard water, the question you ask yourself is where do you get demineralised water from? RO water or rainwater are the two standard options -- not domestic water softeners though! If you have "liquid rock" hard water with a high pH, a 50/50 mix with RO or rainwater will produce something that'll be fine for most community fish, including Bettas. The pH, while interesting, will be unimportant, so long as it's stable.>
These tanks are not cycled, I just do water changes every day with a drop of Prime. I have sponge filters cycling in a bucket, but not finished yet.
Thank you so much,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

My snails seem to be filtering the top of the water     8/19/19
Hi, a few days ago i noticed my apple snails taking their foot and what  could only be described as siphoning the top of the water while doing an eating motion whilst at the top of the water level. Mind you the tank is a 10 gallon tank that i have sitting out on my porch. So algae levels are great because of sun. I check the temp of the water every day to make sure its not too hot. Could it just be they are eating the algae film at the top of the water?
<Possibly, but there are other possibilities (see below)>
If you guys could help out by answering my question that would be great.
<This behavior is troublesome in that it may be resultant from a lack of oxygen... OR elevated pH due to the overgrowth of the algae you mention. I would execute a series of large/r water changes (25-30% per day) for a few days, removing a good deal of the algae, gravel vacuuming... and shading the tank to reduce further algal proliferation. Bob Fenner>
Re: My snails seem to be filtering the top of the water       8/20/19

Thank you for your email, i will make sure to do that.
<Ah, and please make it known how your actions unfold. Cheers, BobF>

Worm ID       8/14/19
Hi WetWeb!
<Hey Orlando!>
I have cultured daphnia for years and have currently run into a worm I have never seen before.
After water changes, I usually see the normal thin, white detritus worm wiggling around the containers.
But a month ago, I started noticing these clumps of red/pink worms at the bottom of my containers. The info I found online was that Tubifex worm is a type of detritus worm, but I failed to ID the worms I have.
If they are Tubifex, how would they manage to get indoors and in my containers?
<Mmm; well, from the looks/clumping and color... these do appear to be Tubificids, at least Oligochaete worms. Could be something like a bug blew in with the beginnings of the culture... most anything wet could. Do you have a microscope there, maybe one w/ a USB connection? I'd like to see these up-close. Bob Fenner>
Thank you Wetweb!


Re: Worm ID      8/23/19
Hi there!
<Hey Orlando>
Thank you for your quick response!
I finally received the microscope I ordered, but I am not too knowledgeable on how it functions quite yet. I managed to get some pictures and video but getting things in focus is proving difficult.
The other thing I noticed recently is that there are clumps of worms right at the very top of the waterline of my containers, which I imagine is due to oxygen levels (half the mass of worms sits outside the waterline).
I hope these pictures help you ID them. Since they are in my daphnia cultures, I imagine they are fine to feed to my fish?
<Very likely fine to feed. Do appear segmented... and by the motion, are Oligochaetes... the general (family) term Tubificids is still my guess>
Thank you so much for your help!
<Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Snail ID      8/13/19
Wondered if you might be able to ID this snail I just found after introducing a plant to a new tank (not cycled yet).
I don't mind snails, just wanted to get one Nerite once the tank has food for it.
<Ahh, do see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnailidfaqs.htm re Physa.>
Thanks, Tina
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pike cichlid ID/question        8/9/19
Greetings, WWM fishy folks …
<Hello Linda,>
I have a bonded pair of pike cichlids I got as juveniles (about the size of an average index finger when purchased) from a local big box store — they were unhelpfully labeled ‘pike cichlids’ and of course the staff had no idea what species they were or proper care instructions for them.
<My first introduction to Pike Cichlids was much the same.>
I raised them among other SA cichlids at around neutral pH, and they are now between 20-25 cm long (the one I believe is the male is larger) with the approximate girth of a hefty banana. Internet resources have had a lot of conflicting information, and I haven’t been able to determine whether I have C. strigata or C. sp. “Venezuela.”
<I do not think these are the true Crenicichla strigata, which probably aren't imported much, if at all. But do agree we're looking at the Crenicichla lugubris group of species, which includes both C. strigata and C sp. 'Venezuela'. I suspect that given the hazy understanding that scientists have of this species group, and the hopelessly muddled (and misidentified) photos in the aquarium press, pinning down the precise species would be difficult. Indeed, if these were tank-bred species we might even be dealing with hybrids.>
The male in the photo has his ‘threat dress’ on, which he adopts whenever he’s trying to warn me away from taking photos; the lateral stripe is usually absent similar to the female.
<Yes, and the rosy belly on the female is indicative, too.>
Have you any idea from the photos what they might be?
<See above; Crenicichla lugubris group, but precise species hard to say. But if I was pushed, I'd probably go with the C sp. 'Venezuela' sold as Crenicichla strigata over the years, but probably not that species as such. Crenicichla lugubris itself is another option, but the lack of red would seem to indicate against that.>
The pair currently reside in a 180 gallon tank with a silver Arowana and a young giant gourami who, as you might observe, is an avid photobomber. There used to be an adult short-bodied marbled bichir in there as well, but the pikes began harassing her as they seemed to want to claim the entire tank bottom as their own — at least the parts with hides — so I moved the bichir.
<The smaller Bichirs are rather too gentle to keep with potentially aggressive cichlids; indeed, have seen such Bichirs stripped of their fins when kept with "peaceful for Mbuna" Yellow Lab cichlids.>
Recently, however, the pikes have shown what I believe is nesting behavior.
<Oh dear!>
They’ve been digging out hollows under logs and spending much of their time there, and over the past few days the larger of the pair has been harassing the gourami and even the 18” Arowana when they comes near their burrow. So far there hasn’t been any damage inflicted (except when the Aro got startled and jumped into the center brace, knocking off a few scales), but I worry that if they do start spawning they might cause major havoc in the tank, particularly with the Arowana being naturally prone to jumping.
<A correct analysis. Breeding Pikes is not something to be undertaken lightly. They produce large broods of eggs, potentially thousands of them, and the market for juvenile Pike Cichlids is tiny, at best. So it's arguably not even worth doing. But yes, once defending their eggs, the Pikes will attempt to destroy anything that gets too close. Your problem with moving the Pikes to a smaller tank is if they're stressed enough to de-pair, there's a risk of them becoming aggressive towards each other.>
Would a 75 gallon aquarium be large enough to isolate them long enough to finish spawning provided they get frequent water changes?
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer!
Linda A
<Good luck with these fabulous and evidently very healthy fish! Neale.>

Best Antibiotic for Fin Rot in Hard Water?     8/3/19
Dear Crew at WetWebMedia,
A few days ago one of my silver dollars got a chunk of his dorsal fin bitten or torn off, and shortly after the fin tissue started turning grey and eroding, leaving behind the bony rays, and the scales at the fin base might have peeled off as well. As such I suspect it might be fin rot.
<Sounds likely.>
I’m not sure why it got infected as ammonia and nitrite are zero and I am doing 50% water changes weekly, and the other silver dollars are completely normal.
<Sometimes just back luck or bad genes.>
But it clearly seems to be, so what would be the best antibiotic to use?
<My medication of choice for clean Finrot is eSHa 2000, which works fine in hard water.>
I don’t want to use nitrofurazone because in the past it made my fish refuse to eat and I have heard tetracycline does not work well in hard water.
<If you must use an antibiotic, then choose one advertised as safe in both freshwater and marine aquaria, such as KanaPlex. If something works in saltwater, it'll be fine in hard freshwater.>
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cory Catfish with stubborn fin rot.     8/2/19
Hi Neale,
A lot has happened since I received your answer, which is why you have not heard from me in so long. I very much appreciate your reply!
<Most welcome.>
I am afraid that "Stubby" is slightly worse.
I have moved my albino aeneus (+ 5 fry) and trilineatus to a new 40 gallon (total 9 adults). I then moved the sterbai (and 3 harlequin rasboras, fry I found when rehoming the adults a few months ago) out of the hospital tank and into the old albino tank, where the former occupants prospered and spawned. Temp is 78-80F. I broke down the old sterbai tank. At one point I was planning to put all the catfish in the 40 (albino, trilineatus, and the sterbai) but because of temperature differences I guess I should keep
them separate? The sterbai don't seem very active although they do eat fine, and I believe I have 2 ladies because they are getting chubby. They are not too lively though, and I feel they must be bored with only the 5 of them. I'm afraid to get more because I don't want this problem, whatever it is, to spread to any new fish. If I put the sterbai in the 40, would they benefit from having a bunch of buddies, despite the temperature difference?
I keep the 40 gallon at 76F. During the summer though, it can get up to 78F.
<Do add an airstone, and be sure the water level is low enough they can easily swim to the surface to gulp air; generally, Corydoras shouldn't be kept in depths greater than 30 cm/12 inches, and ideally less.>
I am still keeping them partially covered but have stopped changing water every day thinking that maybe it's stressing them out more.
<Possibly, but weekly water changes should be maintained.>
I did 2 days of Furan-2, but had to stop treatment because one of the fish stopped eating and was hiding. I did water changes, ran carbon, and he's fine now. I guess the medication was too strong.
<Possibly, but antibiotics shouldn't really affect fish in any harmful way.>
I now change the water every 5 days, although they've only been in their new tank about 10 days. Plus, we had a 4 day power outage last week, so they ran on a single sponge and water changes every other day. I can't win with these fish! I have sent two new photos, the best I could get...Stubby is slightly worse. I think Chuck must be better because I can't figure out which one he is now.
Their new tank has a Tidal 35 hob and 1 large sponge filter. The hob is pretty gentle, and the albinos and 3lines never had a problem with it. I have the 3 rasboras, but they love to peck at each other and never bother the catfish. They've been moved around a few times and have lived with the albinos before the sterbai and were never a problem, not even the 9 adults I used to have. I know the rasboras need buddies or rehoming. I think I'll probably try to find them a new home.
It is very weird :/ I always make sure everybody has their barbels and that they're long and pointy.
There is no whisker damage on any of the sterbai. I can't think of anything else I can do except to put them in the 40 with more friends, or get more sterbai and put them in the 20.
I thank you very much for your help and patience! I'm so in love with these catfish, I want them to have the best lives I can give them. I have included 2 new photos of Stubby. I apologize for the bad quality of the latest pic, I am keeping them with low lighting for now.
<Hard to tell the colours of the fish because of the low light, but do see the fin damage. I'm wondering about Red Blotch disease, a bacterial disease that can plague Corydoras, particularly newly imported (i.e., stressed) ones. Tetracycline or Minocycline are usually used to treat this, with varying degrees of success. Nonetheless, provided the fin damage on 'Stubby' is clear, without evidence of decomposing tissue (off-white) or congested blood vessels (orange or pink) then I'd not worry too much about his fins. Clean fin damage should heal, given time. Cheers, Neale.>

eye “thread”     8/2/19
<Hello William,>
I have a male blue gularis killifish. He was in quarantine for a month with no problems. I moved him to the display tank about a week ago. I now notice what seems to be a single, small, white mucus-like filament coming from the exact center of each eyeball.
The filaments are less than the thickness of a human hair and about 1-2 mm long. I tried to take pictures, but none captured it. My first thought was Anchorworm, but nothing of what i have read says they can embed in the eye.
<Indeed, but there are other crustacean parasites that certainly can. Diplostomum (a fluke/worm rather than crustacean) is another eye parasite, though internal, so results in a cloudy eye.>
I also thought of a Columnaris thread, but it does not look like any Columnaris i have ever seen. The killie is otherwise happy and healthy, feeding and playing (even though his female companion was predated by a 7” blue sheatfish in the first hour she was in the tank!!)
<Why is there are large, predatory catfish in the aquarium with these small Killies?>
Two days ago i euthanized a praecox rainbow who has been sick for a couple of weeks, hiding, labored breathing, and had unilateral PopEye that was dark and cloudy.
<Pop-eye to a single eye usually indicates physical damage. If there's a predatory catfish in there, or at least one trying to be predatory, that could easily have alarmed the Rainbowfish, who then swam into a rock or something else and so damaged its eye.>
Tank has been running for about 7 years, with several inhabitants still alive from the beginning. 400gal total volume (inc sumps), stable ph 7.7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate ~30. 70 gal water change each week.
If you have any thoughts, let me know. Thanks for the great information.
<The threads on the eye sound most like an Anchor Worm-type parasite, i.e., an external crustacean, and my immediate suggestion would be to treat as per Anchor Worm. Diplostomum (or "Eye fluke") is unlikely to cause a thread to emerge from the lens, but is worth considering. Similarly, fungal (as opposed to bacterial) infections can produce threads, but you'd expect to see them across the fish rather than just one specific place on each eye. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: eye “thread”     8/3/19

Thanks for getting back to me. So I should attempt to remove the thread from the eye, like is normally done per anchor worm?
<I would not.>
That freaks me out a little, tweezing something from the eye.
Can you direct me to any reading on technique? .......
<I would use medications as per Anchor Worm; removal creates wounds that need sterilising (e.g., with iodine) which isn't practical here.>
Also, the sheatfish do not bother anyone who is too big to eat--they have been in there for two years. The euthanized praecox was sizable at about 5 years old.
<Perhaps. But even if the catfish didn't kill the Rainbow, it's activity at night could have been enough to startle said Rainbowfish into a startled escape response -- and from this the damage to the eye. As a I say, pop-eye on one side tends to be physical damage (both eyes tends to be environment) so assess and act accordingly.>
My error was indeed putting the female killie in the tank, thinking she was large enough. She was about 2". The male is over 3" and I chose this species because of its larger size, with the male reaching 4-5 inches. And interestingly, I have albino Ancistrus that have spawned, and I returned 10 one-inch fry to the display tank (after selling 128 to my LFS), and none were predated, now all over two inches. The sheatfish eat exclusively off the substrate, which I found odd, so I was concerned for the small Ancistrus. But there was no problem. These observations led to my error in assuming the 2" killie would be safe. I was wrong.
PS. While the sheatfish were sold to me as Kryptopterus cryptopterus, they most certainly are not that species; they have a pronounced nuchal concavity. My best estimate is that they are K. parvanalis. Many thanks for this public service that you provide.
<Interesting. Ompok app are quite commonly seen in the trade, so do look at these too. Indeed, so many Kryptopterus and Ompok species out there, and the two genera being difficult to separate, that I'd tend to be very open minded about any name offered by retailers. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: eye “thread”

Got it. Many thanks.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Sexes guppies      7/31/19
I have a female guppy who looks like it for be a male chafing my one male I know is make almost to rough all the time how can make sure of what sex the bigger guppy is can to help me? The big ones is what I don't know.
Tracy Nilson
<The shape of the anal fin is definitive in Guppies... Males have tubular gonopodia (for gamete transmission), while females have fan shaped anal fins. Your pix show two males and one female (the one w/ fecal material attached). Bob Fenner>

Re: Sexes guppies        8/9/19
I wood like to send a few more pics if that's ok to help me with there sexes
<Kosha; howsit? What shape is the anal fin here? Fan or tube? BobF>

Re: Sexes guppies      8/22/19
Thank you
<Welcome Kosha/Tracy. BobF>

Anchor worms in a freshwater aquarium      7/29/19
Hello Crew,
I want to start by saying what a great resource your website is for everything you need to know about keeping fish and more. I have spent hours reading through articles and FAQs about parasites and swordtails.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Although I did learn a bunch, I couldn't find an exact match to the odd situation I am experiencing. I have been keeping planted aquariums for about 7 years. I have had this 25 gallon setup for a while...only 1 male guppy and 2 shrimp have been in here for quite some time. I sold my 120 gallon tank, so I revamped my 25 gallon with some plants and driftwood from the big tank (and a Fluval 405), and set out to buy a few fish from a local fish place that sells its livestock out of outside concrete block *ponds*.
<Understood, and the outdoor maintenance does indeed explain the Anchor Worm situation.>

I bought fancy guppies, crystal shrimp, long fin Bristlenose Pleco, and 3 Kohaku swordtails (1 male, 2 females). Everyone is happy. A couple weeks later I am staring down the male swordtail as he's munching on some Repashy, and I notice this whitish/greenish thing dangling...so well camouflaged next to his white anal fins ...after some research it turns out to be an anchor worm...which is common in *ponds* and in koi...and my fish came from a pond but aren't koi...so after a round of treating with API general cure and nothing happening (better or worse), I realize whatever chemical would kill the crustacean parasite will also kill my beautiful shrimp (and/or plants)...
<Correct. Anchor Worms are very difficult to treat without specific medications, and these are, as you understand, toxic to other types of crustaceans as well, including shrimps and crabs.>
So I caught the fish and pulled the worm, it came out easy, so I think the worm was dead. I have been doing 50% water changes every day since (3 days) I pulled the worm in hopes to remove any eggs/larva swimming in my system...I also started treatment with Maracyn for 2 reasons.
<Won't do much for Anchor Worms, but yes, can be useful if infected wounds are a risk. Antibiotics have a low level of toxicity towards fish and invertebrates, so your main risk is making sure the filter bacteria aren't bothered. Always worth doing a nitrite test every few days following use of antibiotics. Mostly you'll be fine, because these antibiotics are formulated for use in aquaria, but it's worth checking even so, especially if you see evidence of filter problems, such as fish gasping at the surface.>
1. Because of the tiny wound the parasite left on my fish from being removed and because 2. ever since I bought the swordtails, their gills have the slightest red coloring...not sure if it's their normal coloring or an irritation from the anchor worm larvae or another annoying bacteria/fungus/parasite. I also have 5 guppy fry that are getting pretty big and starting to swim among the adults. The male swordtail is recovering nicely and his wound is barely noticeable anymore. So after that long winded story, I guess my question really is, can or would this parasite keep living in a tank vs. a pond?
<Anchor Worms switch between a free-living juvenile stage and a parasitic adult stage. Provided the juveniles are not removed by the filter, they can swim about and either infect the same fish or some other fish in the tank. This is different to the case with many other pond parasites that have a second host, such as a snail or fish-eating bird, that the parasite needs to go through to infect another generation of fish. So short answer, yes, Anchor Worms can and do reinfect fish under aquarium conditions.>
Most of the information I find online is about anchor worm in koi ponds, not fish tanks. I am starting to hope they just won't complete their life cycle in the aquarium setting as this seems to be quite a nasty bugger to deal with.
<Among the nastiest, and a major problem to fish farmers, let alone aquarists. There are some highly effective medications, but you will need to remove the shrimps while they're being used. After the full course of the treatment is done, a series of water changes, plus the use of carbon in the filter, should return the tank to being "shrimp friendly" but I'd suggest only putting a few shrimp in first to see how they do.>
I am so worried I am going to come look at my tank one morning to see everyone covered in anchor worms. What else can I do besides water changes?
<See above. The old school approach of using potassium permanganate is deprecated nowadays because this stuff is rather toxic and difficult to use safely. Likewise, physical removal of the adult Anchor Worms is difficult without stressing the fish or exposing the wounds to secondary infections.
If all you had were livebearers, then making the tank brackish for a while (5-10 gram/litre; 4-6 weeks) would probably kill off all the Anchor Worms, and this sort of approach is similar to what fish farmers do when moving trout in and out of sea lochs to kill off skin parasites of various kinds.
But your catfish won't appreciate salty water. Generally, the safest approach is to use specific Anchor Worm medications, but as we both understand, these are toxic to shrimps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Anchor worms in a freshwater aquarium        7/30/19
Wow! Thank you so much for the prompt response Neale, that was amazing to wake up to and so reassuring when going through stressful situations like this...
<Most amazing.>
What wasn't so amazing was finding another adult on one of my male guppies (I hope I am not going crazy and seeing things). I caught the fish and tried to pull it off, but all I got was the tip...much harder to pull off, so I think this anchor worm must had still been alive.
<Agreed, and when they're alive, if you pull at them, they're more likely to "dig in" and thereby cause wounds. So approach with caution. Guppies can handle seawater for long periods (wild ones, indefinitely) so a seawater bath for 5-10 minutes would stress, if not kill, the Anchor Worms, and
maybe make things easier to do. 35 gram/litre non-iodised salt will replicate seawater adequately well.>
I am going to bring that guppy back to the place and not accept a new fish in return, they can't give me enough store credits to make up for this incident, that they will more than likely smugly brush off as my problem and not a problem with their livestock (that are sold out of ponds). I have been buying fish here for a long time and I have never experienced this before. I included a pic of what I pulled off today.
<Indeed, does look like part of an Anchor Worm.>
I am hoping that daily 50% water changes and prompt removal of adults will fix this problem without having to break down the whole tank and start over.
<May do, but I'd be medicating. Cheers, Neale.>

Electric Blue Acara   Hlth.    7/27/19
When he tries to eat seems like he can't swallow his food and puffs of white cloudy stuff (looks like smoke) comes out of his gills and mouth.
<Electric Blue varieties are notoriously disease prone
. Going to direct you to some reading:
As a general rule, avoid them.>
He's sluggish and won't eat most of the time, not even blood worms so I got a live garden worm today that he attempted to eat but again, the clouds of whitish stuff puffing out the gills and his mouth.
Getting worse by the day. In quarantine now with General Cure day 2.
<A good choice re: Hexamita, but do remember to remove carbon from the filter, if used, when medicating. Medicines might work inconsistently in old, mature tanks with a lot of organic material. A hospital tank with few decorations beyond ceramic caves is best.>
Have tried conservative treatment first #1 salt and higher Temps (82),
<Would be careful about higher temperatures, given Acaras tend to prefer cooler conditions than cichlids in general. Certainly provide plenty of aeration.>
#2 bloodworms soaked in PraziPro, #3 PraziPro in the water (all separate treatments over the last 2 weeks) and currently the General Cure.
<Understood, and these will help re: worms, but not much else.>
All water parameters are good. No different at all in the discharge from gills.
<Velvet is the classic infection of fish gills, but white spots on the body would be apparent as well. Hexamita is the ubiquitous threat to farmed cichlids, but again, your symptoms are not typical. Gill parasites are difficult to diagnose without examining pieces of gill tissue under a microscope. Dactylogyrus is one common example, but really, its guesswork.
Tetra Lifeguard is a product that treats a variety of gill infections, and might be worth trying.>
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Electric Blue Acara      7/29/19

Thank you so much for your quick response.
So I continued the General Cure to give it a chance and although the fish hasn’t gotten worse, I would say he’s not getting better. The fish is still not eating, even when I throw an earth worm in the tank. Here are my questions:
<Fire away.>
1. Are you ok with me giving him a Epsom salt bath for 30 min 3xs a day?
<Sure. Won't do much on its own except reduce swelling slightly and provide a slight laxative effect. It is quite useful alongside suitable medications though.>
2. Finished full coarse of General Cure and would like to try Lifeguard as you suggested. I put carbon filter back in, will do a 25% water change in the morning. When can I start Lifeguard?
<New medications can be added immediately after water changes, and all organic medicines (as opposed to salts, etc.) can be assumed to 'used up' after 24 hours. So if you need to add a second course of medicine, doing a water change and waiting 24 hours should be safe.>
3. I have 1 tbsp of aquarium salt in the quarantine tank, is that ok?
<Doesn't do much. As stated elsewhere on this website, doses of 2 gram per litre (about 0.25 US gal) can be used against Whitespot and Velvet. But other than this dosage and usage, 'aquarium salt' doesn't really do much.>
Additional info:
1. He finally pooped after being in quarantine for 4 days which is a good sign to me.
2. When I look in his quarantine tank with a light, I can see little strands floating around about 2-3mm long. They are all identical in diameter (similar to a strand of hair) but some slightly longer than others and they are very pliable. I’m wondering if it is some kind of dead parasite making its way out?
<Might well be; see Nematomorphs and Nematodes, for example. But could be other things too.>
3. Can’t tell if the white puffs of smoke that come out of his gills and mouth have stopped because it only happens when he eats, not when he is breathing.
Thanks again. Is there a way you accept donations to your site? I’d like to support your efforts. I really appreciate your help.
<We do have a tip jar somewhere on the front page (http://www.wetwebmedia.com) that goes towards running costs, so please do feel free, though by no means obliged.>
<Most welcome, and glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Electric Blue Acara      7/29/19

Thanks again. I read everything on the link you sent me, so you are in agreement with me trying Lifeguard?
<Up to a point. It's better than nothing. But any product that's advertised as curing everything (from skin flukes to fungus, no less!) is unlikely to be especially good at any of them. The most effective meds are designed specifically for one particular type of organism. So I'd be skeptical, though as I say, better than nothing.>
Or do you think something else would work better?
<With cichlids, the old Metronidazole + Nitrofuran combination is usually the best approach if you don't know precisely what you're treating.>
I'm slightly concerned about destroying his kidneys but it sounds line you really are knowledgeable so I want to move forward with your recommendation.
<Fish kidneys aren't like ours, and correct use of different medications,
with suitable water changes and time intervals between courses shouldn't
cause problems. Cheers, and thanks for the kind words! Neale.>
RE: Electric Blue Acara        7/30/19

Neale!!! Was able to catch video footage!!! Here's what we're dealing with.
<The things on the glass? White wiggly things? Could be harmless nematodes, or could be parasitic ones that have been evacuated from the host fish by anti-helminthic drugs. Hard to say. The former is, to be honest, more likely, since these worms do exist in varying numbers in many tanks. Still, a reliable anti-helminthic should kill them off (though sometimes multiple courses are required). Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Electric Blue Acara        7/30/19

Neale!!! Great news. While I was doing a water change, I observed the little white strands I mentioned in the tank and they for sure are worms of some sort. I found one still wiggling. Now that I have been able to identify that, what would you recommend? This is a pretty amazing revelation if you ask me. At least now we know what we’re dealing with.
<Or at least part of the problem. Intestinal worms are very common in farmed fish, and likely harmless in small numbers where the fish's own immune system keeps them in check. Put another way, this could be a secondary problem separate to what actually ails your fish, so keep an open mind. Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Electric Blue Acara        7/30/19
I’m sorry, I didn’t see your reply.
They also have a head on one side of the worm and when I looked it up it looks like flukes. Best med to kill flukes in you mind??? I’m sorry for the bother, but I have the fish in the salt bath container until I know what to add to the quarantine tank.
On hand I have Lifeguard,
<This should treat skin flukes, Platyhelminthes.>
<This for treating intestinal worms, Annelida and Nematoda, if you believe your fish is suffering from a worm infection.>
Kanaplex, EM Erythromycin, Tetracycline
<Antibiotics, for bacterial infections.>
and Ich X.
<Treats Whitespot and Velvet.>
All left over from that one sick fish and that one dose needed that leaves you with 15 more does. Lol.
<Lol, indeed. Be sure to choose the right medication for the pathogen you're dealing with. Over-medication can cause harm, and inappropriate medication wastes time that allows the fish to become sicker. Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Electric Blue Acara        7/30/19

The worm in the background on the black part of the tank is what I was referring to. And yes, the little flea like things hop from the bottom to the sides.
Correction, on gill flukes, I checked the tab I have open and they look identical to anchor worms.
<Anchor Worms require specific anti-Anchor Worm medications, such as Waterlife Parazin. Despite the name, these are crustaceans, not worms, and any medications that kill Anchor Worms will kill shrimps, crabs, etc., too. So be careful when using such medications. Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Electric Blue Acara        7/30/19

There are also little white flea like creatures in the aquarium that I cannot see without the sunlight behind the tank. Since he isn’t eating how can I treat these intestinal worms? I separated them into two different clear vases and tried PraziPro in one vase and lifeguard in the other and neither medication seems to be killing them. Any suggestions?
<If the little white flea things are stuck to the glass, they're likely harmless crustaceans. Commonly seen in many tanks, particular older or somewhat neglected ones. Cheers, Neale.>
RE: Electric Blue Acara        7/30/19

They are free swimming, not on the glass.
<Could be anything, really! If long and thin, with no obvious legs, then would seem to be worms of some kind. Whether harmful or not, hard to say -- so treating with anti-helminth drugs worthwhile. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Electric Blue Acara       8/7/19
Update. He's still alive and active but won't eat. I've had him in fresh clear water since we last talked.
He still isn't eating, even live fry. He popped once and it looked normal. Pooped yesterday and I found a little normal and then a lot of the attached pic (stringy white).
I would say parasites but I've heard constipation and also not eating can cause white stringy poop.
Any suggestions?
<Hello Michelle. The white, stringy spiral faeces is mucous, and indicates that the guts are irritated and expelling (at trying to, anyway) whatever is irritating them. It's quite commonly seen in two situations: Hexamita infections and during treatment for intestinal worms. Constipation, for obvious reasons, has the reverse effect: absence of faeces and general bloating of the fish as the intestine becomes stuffed with waste matter. Constipated fish usually still eat readily, which is why the main treatment is increasing the amount of fibre in their diet, ideally cooked peas, but failing that, small algae-eating crustaceans such as Daphnia and Brine shrimp. Epsom salt is often used alongside the change in diet. Dried foods are not used at all, because they can cause constipation in some fish, and it tends to be that dried foods are fine with small predatory fish (such as tetras) but more of a problem with omnivorous or herbivorous fish that would naturally consume a lot of roughage (generalist cichlids and goldfish are the classic examples). Anyway, I don't think that's the issue here.
Copious faeces is the precise opposite of constipation, and I think you're either dealing with Hexamita (common in farmed cichlids generally) or else intestinal worms. No reason you can't treat for both simultaneously. By the way, don't expect your cichlid to eat much if he's sick: they often don't, and won't get their appetite back until they're getting healthier again.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Electric Blue Acara       8/7/19
What would you recommend? I have general cure in the tank right now.
<I'd be treating as per Hexamita; i.e., Metronidazole plus a suitable antibiotic, Nitrofurans most often recommended in this combination. Outside of the US, or anywhere antibiotics are only accessible through a vet, you may need to use a one bottle Hexamita treatment, such as eSHa HEXAMITA, though these are likely less effective than Metronidazole. Cheers, Neale.>


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