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Astronotus ocellatus (Agassiz 1831), the Oscar. To seventeen inches (45.7 cm). South America: Rio Amazonas basin in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Northern Paraguay and French Guiana. Freshwater: pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5.0 - 19.0, temp. 22 - 25°C. Wild type at  the Shedd Aq. 2015 
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Freshwater FAQs, Ask us a question: Crew@WetWebMedia.com

Updated 12/14/2018
Other Specialized Daily FAQs Blogs: General, Planted Tanks, Ponds, Brackish, Last Few Days Accrued FAQs,
Daily Q&A replies/input from the WWM crew: Darrel Barton,
Neale Monks, Marco Lichtenberger, Bob Fenner, are posted here. Moved about, re-organized daily Current Crew Bios., Not so current Crew Bios

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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Re: Extremely high ammonia during cycling; now Holey/Lava Rock use, FW         12/13/18
Thank you again! As it turns out I was looking at some very nice Texas hole-y rock this past weekend and wondering if it would work in this tank.
<Of course it tends to raise pH and hardness, but not particularly rapidly, and in alkaline brackish water, any effect will be minimal, perhaps even desirable.>
I will definitely go back to the store and get some. You may be right about the source for this rock - although the packaging is very deceptive in that case ("natural lava rock"). Dang. I will also see if I can
source some actual real lava rock from a rock shop or some such.
<I'm not 100% sure, but I guess a little time online might help determine where the lava rock sold for barbecues and aquaria comes from. True volcanic rocks should be sold under their geological names -- basalt, granite, pumice, etc.>
I'll let you know how things turn out!
<Cool. Good luck! Neale.>

Goldfish Bubbles-Scales        12/13/18
My goldfish summer in a 100+ gal ornamental pond, and winter in a 55 gal aquarium.
I have 4 fish about 4" long body.
In Oct. I brought them in - one was bloated and had several clear bubbles on each side the size of a small pea. The bubbles could be a puffed out scale - hard to tell.
He did not get better, so I isolated him in a 5 gal bucket and added 1/8 tablespoon of Epsom salt.
Anything else i can do?
Thanks! Scot
<At this juncture, no... best to keep up water quality by frequent partial water changes (a couple times weekly), with pre-stored water. The bubbles?
Perhaps Emphysematosis, gas-bubble disease... environmental. Do use the search tool on WWM to read a bit about. Bob Fenner>

Corydoras Keep Dying      12/12/18
Good Morning!
Long time reader, first time writer. :)
I have a 40 gallon breeder that can't seem to keep cories alive. I've lost small batches of sterbai (5) and bronze (6), and now I'm afraid I'm going down the same road with pandas (started with 12, down to 10). Other fish seem unaffected, and a common symptom appears to be air/gas in intestines.
Am I missing something?
<Likely, so...>
The tank:
40 gallon breeder, 36" x 18" footprint, black blasting sand substrate (well rinsed), temp was at 79-80 for the sterbai/bronze, close to 76-77 for the pandas.
I have a cascade 700 canister filter and 2 sponge filters.
Livestock at this time includes the 10 pandas and 2 Apisto borellii (1-1.5"). Nothing else.
Some hardy plants, a few driftwoods, and some IAL and oak leaves.
<Whence came the pieces of driftwood? If purchased, are you quite sure these are "aquarium safe?" Many sold for reptiles are not safe for aquariums. If acquired from the great outdoors, how did you cure/prep the pieces? At this point in your story, I suspect the driftwood, but I will read on...>
Started the tank in mid Sept, with half a dozen small pentazona barbs.
Cycled tank with media from another filter.
On Halloween, I added 5x 1" sterbai cories. The following Friday (2 days later), in the afternoon, 2 were floating upside down, then 2 more shortly after. Those 4 died within hours, 1 survived.
<Yikes! Something is seriously wrong here. How did you introduce them to the system? Did you acclimate them to the new water conditions? Did you test the water from the pet fish shop?>
I know everyone reaches for sbd in situations like this, but I autopsied 3 of the dead fish,
and the intestines were full of air.
<Well, yeah! There is this thing that happens after an organism dies. The resident bacteria have a blitz and produce gases as they ravenously digest their now deceased host. It will happen to you too some day, and to me.>
Some food (not much), but intestines were full like those long balloons clowns make shapes from. No other symptoms.
<...that you could see or recognize with the "naked eye.">
Granted, they're small fish, and seeing anything can be hard.
<If you intend to continue filleting your deceased pet fish, I highly recommend investing in a good microscope. Much to be seen can't be seen without one.>
The lone survivor (which also had buoyancy issues, but never to the point of floating/dying) was quarantined for 4-5 days (no meds, since no diagnosis),
<A good policy>
and seemed to stabilize. But 3d after being returned to the main tank, it also died,
and again it appeared full of air. I should note that the autopsies were done shortly after death, and all of the sick fish were very buoyant before they died
<This can happen for any number of reasons. It is a very non-specific symptom - a sure indicator of poor fish health, but with a lengthy differential diagnosis.>
(i.e. I don't believe the gas in intestines was a post-mortem symptom).
<Impossible to know for sure either way.>
Through all this, the pentazonas were fine. Ammo/nitrite were 0, nitrates were 5-10.
On Nov 6 I added half doz bronze cories (I admit to getting them as coal mine canaries; clearly this tank can support fish, but can it support cories?). All 6 died one by one over a 2-3 week period. No outward
symptoms (well, except dying). Frustrating. And they had started off so well in my tank, foraging deep in the sand, very active. These did not float when they died.
Through all this the pentazonas were fine. Again, parameters good.
I rehomed the pentazonas to a new office tank, and the tank stayed empty for about a week.
Then on Dec 4 I got a dozen 0.75-1" panda cories, added them, along with a M/F Apisto borellii.
<That is a lot of fish to add all at once.>
They seem to be great tank mates, same pace, feeding rate, temperament etc.
All has been good until last night (Dec 11), when 1 was floating (air in intestines again), and another this am (didn't check). As of Sunday when I did a whack of testing, parameters generally good; ammonia was over zero,
<Yeah mate, I think you added too much too quickly to a "dormant" system.>
but under 0.25 (I've been feeding liberally, though, so that might be it.
<Yes, that too will do it. I would stop feeding for a few days at least.>
I dosed with Prime, haven't re-checked yet), zero nitrites, nitrates under 20.
<Prime is a one-time "band-aid" type fix. It binds the nitrogen cycle products so that these get taken up in the filter. If you don't keep adding it, the problem will return unless corrected some other way.>
Other pertinent:
I feed good quality food, and lots of variety. Thawed bloodworm, mysis shrimplets, bbs. Crushed Spirulina flake, regular community flake, Hikari mini wafers, Fluval bug bites.
<Maybe too much though?>
My tap water is moderately hard, so I have been mixing the water for this tank with RO/DI at about 3:2 (RO: tap). That's giving me dGH of 5-6 (100ppm), and dKH of ~4 (~75ppm). My pH remains around 7.5 (hard to tell, since it always appears to lie right between the high end of the normal pH test, and the low end of the high range pH test).
I'm using a perpetual drip and overflow to keep new water running through tank, rate of about 1.5g new water per day. And I vac as necessary.
<As necessary? How often is that?>
In summary:
Why do mid level fish appear to remain healthy and fine, while bottom dwelling cories are dying?
<Very different species have very different sensitivities, ability to tolerate physical and/or physiological insults. I suspect the problem here to be either trauma from transport/introduction or a toxin coming from
somewhere as of yet unknown. Do see other similar recent queries here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/CoryDisF4.htm >
Are there any diseases/infections/conditions that are known to cause gas in the intestines as a primary symptom, i.e. not post-mortem?
<Again, floating and bloating is just too common a symptom - like headaches and nausea in humans - could be from anything!>
Any suggested interventions? Shelled peas? Epsom salt in tank, or as bath?
<Do read other query answers in the link above. I suggest removing the driftwood, adding carbon, looking for other potential sources of toxins... also be sure to follow good acclimation protocol.>
Many thanks for your time and consideration!
<My pleasure.>
<Cheers Sara L>
Ontario, Canada
Re: Cories keep dying      12/14/18

Good Morning,
<Buenos dias>
So fast with the reply, thank you!!
You've focused in on a few things I did not think are important, and aren't placing much weight on things I've been clinging to. Which is why I have asked the experts!
<Haha, wait, who told you we are experts?>
To put me straight, so to speak. :)
The driftwood: 1 large piece, collected from a local headwater stream (no ag runoff or pollutants).
<Yeah, right... that you know of or that has been reported/documented.>
There are brook trout in this stream (maybe other tiny fish?). The wood was allowed to dry for about 6 weeks, then boiled for 20 min.s. In any event, I'm more than happy to remove all possible problems,
<I do strongly suggest you remove the piece collected locally. It's just too much of an unknown and a likely source of something troublesome. Even if it is not a toxin from runoff/pollutants per se, there could be something else (some tannins maybe) leaching out of it.>
and work from there, so I'll pull it out tonight. There are also a couple of smaller pieces I got from a local aquascaper, vine wood he imported by the crate, and it's used in many tanks by many local keepers.
<If removal of the large local piece doesn't solve the problem, I would remove smaller ones these next.>
Carbon: Great suggestion, I missed that. It will go in tonight.
<Never really hurts and often helps!>
Acclimation: floated sealed bag for 20 min.s, then add small amounts of tank water over 1hr (pour out half of mixed water half way through), then add fish to tank via net
<Nets are terrible (too much risk of injury with them getting stuck/tangled). Personally, I avoid them whenever possible. In my opinion, it's better to scoop them out gently by hand than with a net, or just pour them out with the last little bit of bag water.>
without any store water. But deaths have all occurred after at least 2 days, and now upwards of a week - is that consistent with insufficient acclimation time?
<Based on the technique you described, no, I doubt acclimation was the problem. As for how injury from poor acclimation might manifest in the fish, that can vary greatly.>
I've never found an answer to this.
Store water: not tested, but I believe it has similar pH and hardness to this tank. Regionally, our water is quite similar from one municipality to another (medium hard, well buffered). It's definitely not polar opposites.
Dormant tank: during the week the tank was dormant (before I added the 12 pandas and 2 Apistos), I kept feeding the tank with crushed flake (using the same amount as I had been feeding when it had fish).
Adding too many fish: In my own defence, the tank/filter was still cycled when I added the fish, the cories and Apistos are all very small, and for the bioload, it's a big tank. I haven't been testing daily, but none of the fish (past or current) showed any signs of irritation/stress like gasping, flashing, hiding, pumping gills, and so on.
Vac "as necessary": I keep my tanks pretty clean. Most have sand substrates, which require less maint than gravel. I vac when there is visible detritus in areas with less flow. At any rate, I never go more than
2 weeks between vacs, and "water changes" are constant with the drip through system.
Prime for low ammonia reading: I know this is a 24-48hr band aid, and if the source of ammonia, or lack of processing ability aren't addressed, the problem persists.
Rate of feeding: I'm generally conservative when feeding my tanks, but I have a soft spot (fear spot) for new fish. Cories are such casual feeders, I'm fearful that the 30 second or 2 minute rule won't give enough food.
<Do reduce your feeding. Fish do not need as much food as people tend to think they do. Also, they can go a very long time (we're talking weeks) without any food at all.>
Even with the filter off, some foods don't even settle to the bottom in that time. When I listed all the foods I feed, I should be clear that it's not all at once. One at a time only. For flakes or other dry food, a
smaller-than-medium thumb-and-one-finger pinch is all. For frozen foods, less than half a cube of bloodworm, or maybe a quarter of a portion of mysis. At any rate, I'll fast the tank for 48hrs, dial back the feeding after that, and monitor ammonia carefully.
<I think if you remove the drift wood and add carbon, you will likely see an increase in your Cory survival rate.>
<Good luck! - SaraL>
Re: Cories keep dying      12/14/18

Thanks again, Sara. Driftwood out. Carbon in. No food. I'll keep an eye on things.
<Great. Do start feeding again in a couple of days though. :-)>
Also of note: Like many fish folk, I rarely test except when something is wrong (that I can see or sense). But with this tank, I've been keeping on top of parameters a bit more diligently, given the problems I've had.
<It's always a good idea to test every once in awhile, problems or no problems.>
I mentioned in a prior email that I am seeing trace ammonia. I've had a chance to check other tanks and tap water, and I'm getting a trace reading across the board. Best match for colors is between <0.25ppm for tap and other tanks, and >0.25ppm for the Cory tank. Even my RO/DI is testing at >0ppm. So I'll look into an ammonia removing media for the filter, and continue to use Prime and monitor.
<Sounds like a reasonable plan.>
<Cheers, Sara L>

Extremely high ammonia during cycling      12/12/18
Hello Crew! Hope you all are doing very well.
<All good.>
Got a brackish nitrogen cycle question for you. I have recently set up a 5 gallon biotope aquarium for some Opae ula shrimp. There is a tall tower of lava rock (held together with aquarium silicone glue) to provide a hypogeal environment. There is also additional lava rock mixed with some reef "dry live rock" pieces in the rest of the tank. Specific gravity is at about 1.010.
First evening after filling the tank, I added a few (very few!) flakes of fish food to begin cycling. After 24 hours I tested for ammonia using an API Ammonia test kit, and the result came back at 8 ppm! Since 8 ppm is as high as the test goes, the ammonia level is anywhere from 8 ppm to who knows what. No way this came from those teeny flakes!
<Possibly not. Hard to say without knowing how much protein was in the flake and how much water (actual, not nominal) is in your 5 gallon tank.>
So, the ammonia could only come from one of three places: my tap water, the salt mix, or the rocks. I tested my tap water after treating with Prime water treatment, and it came back at between 0.25 and 0.50 ppm ammonia, likely from the chloramine. Then I mixed in some of the marine salt mix and retested - came back the same as the tap water.
<Indeed, as should be the case.>
I still had some lava rocks left over so I put a few in some fresh water and let them soak a few hours and then tested. Yep, it was the lava rocks.
<Yikes! I'm not a huge fan of lava rock, which not only affects water quality in this case, but more regularly, affects pH and water colouration too. It's vaguely acidic in many cases, causing pH to drop, and the minerals contained can stain the water reddish brown.>
After 48 hours the ammonia level was still high and beginning to look a little cloudy, so I did a 2 gallon water change.
<Correct action here.>
At this point I'm assuming it will be continue to cycle the tank as usual, am I correct? Or are these levels too high even for cycling? I'm also guessing I will need to do a fairly large water change after the cycle
completes as there will likely be pretty high nitrate levels.
<Yeah, but if there's no livestock in this system, the ammonia spike shouldn't do any lasting harm. If the shrimps are there, and have survived, wow!!!>
At any rate this was a good lesson to learn - don't just throw new rocks into an established aquarium! Even if you have tested for carbonates, you never know what might be lurking in there.
<Sage advice.>
Thanks for your input on this!
<And thank you for sharing. Neale.>
Re: Extremely high ammonia during cycling      12/12/18

No, definitely no livestock in here yet. Just doing the cycling.
The reason for using the lava rocks is because I am trying to recreate a biotope. In the case of Halocaridina rubra (Opae ula) this is definitely lava, with a sprinkling of carbonate rocks. I did a lot of research on scholar.google.com on the Hawaiian anchialine pools - fascinating stuff!
The lava rocks I purchased are not *exactly *the same as the lava where they occur, but it is as close as I can get.
<I am fairly sure the "lava rock" traded is a byproduct of glass making or some other industrial process, rather than actual pumice stone.>
Based on your comments about these rocks changing the pH, I will give this tank an extended cycle period. Once the nitrogen cycle has completed I will continue to monitor the pH and other parameters, while keeping the cycle "fed" with the use of flake foods. If there is a trend toward acidification, I will remove some of the lava rocks and replace them with some limestone and/or dry live rock to help keep things buffered.
<I do think Tufa rock, or Texas hole-y rock, might be better.>
I'll see how things trend before adding any live creatures. Hopefully things will tend to stabilize as whatever soluble materials are in the rock get leached out.
Thanks again!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Betta -- near-complete color loss      12/11/18
Hello, please help with male pet shop Betta, Milo, whom we have had 1 year.
Over about 2-3 weeks he has become lethargic, mostly sitting on bottom and only swimming vigorously a moment or two if disturbed. Not eating for past 5 days. His body color has changed dramatically from purple-blue to very pale, nearly silver or white, with fins still purple-blue as usual.
<Is this fish in a heated, filtered system? This time of year the weather turns colder; and Bettas are tropical fishes. Very common for them to lose color, energy/activity w/ chilling>
There are no visible sores, wounds, external parasites, frayed fins, Ich, Velvet, or any other visible outward marks. We thought it might be old age because although we've had him only a year he was full grown or nearly so when he came home with us. After reading online we treated him empirically with kanamycin and nitrofurazone per package directions for four days. No improvement. Changed water. He's been hanging on quite tenaciously but seems to be breathing fast and/or breathing hard... from desperation we started metronidazole according to package instructions 2 days ago, just in case it might help -- perhaps internal flukes -- no improvement.
He is sole occupant of a 5-gallon heated tank, usually 78-80 degrees F, increased to 80-82 degrees F since he became symptomatic, unfiltered, with plants and gravel. 2/3 tank water change once a week pretty religiously. pH 7.8-8.0, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates about 10 ppm, GH and KH in upper ranges (not zero).
<All these values are good...>
The curious thing is, the previous Betta who died about 4 months before we got Milo, lived with us about 3 years in the sane cycled tank but died after an almost identical course.
<Am wondering now if there is something poisoning this fish... What sort of ornaments are in the tank? Any geodes, odd rocks, driftwood, plastic plants from other than an aquarium-use source?>
We assumed it was old age but with 2 fish in a row, and with how Milo is hanging on stubbornly *and* with labored breathing, can you suggest anything else, please?
<Yes; the use of some activated carbon in the filter you're going to get (likely a small hang on the back or internal power filter); to remove possible toxin/s here>
Time is so critical with these little dudes I'm going to start Praziquantel (Prazi Pond Pro) 5 gm/gallon now in case it's something external we can't see, like gill flukes...
<Mmm; where would the flukes come from? Do you have other fish present?
Feed live foods, use plants you've collected from the wild?>
apparently these can be a bane of Goldfish, which we used to keep. As far as I know there was no contamination with Betta gear but one never knows.
Thank you for anything you can suggest! And thank you for all the great info on WWM.
Kind regards, Milo's family.
<Am so glad for your concern. Please do answer the above questions, have your water tested by your local fish store (to check against your test results, gear). Bob Fenner>
Betta -- near-complete color loss /Neale       12/12/18

<<BobF far more expert here than me, but would wonder if a toxin might be to blame here. Bettas are very sensitive to airborne toxins for obvious reasons, including paint fumes, solvents, etc. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Betta -- near-complete color loss      12/12/18

Dear Bob and WWM Crew,
Thank you for the quick reply and for all the info.
<Certainly welcome Steve>
1. The tank -- actually 7 1/2 gallon capacity -- has always been heated with two 25-watt Eheim/Jaeger heaters. Temp. has been measured with 2 different thermometers (just in case!) and measures 80-82 degrees F depending which thermometer is accurate. Before illness it was 78-80 degrees. Forgot to mention, when we noticed Milo was ailing we started aquarium salt @ 0.10 ppm.
<I see; and would remove the salt through regular water changes>
2. The tank is unfiltered. We were worried that the filter current would be stressful because we found it tough to get a filter with low enough flow to be gentle for the Betta's fins. We will start a small Fluval
hang-on-back filter immediately, that we already have.
3. Should we add activated charcoal now, or continue with the Praziquantel? Believing optimistically that the Prazi or something will help little Milo will pull through. By the way, mis-type earlier, it's Prazi Pond Plus and the dose used is 9.5 mg/gallon.
<I'd start now and skip the Prazi... only effective for worm/vermes complaints; and I greatly discount that these are at play here. Again, where's the vector?>
4. Water tests are API droplet test kits. We will take a sample to a local reef store -- the nearest shop serious about fishkeeping -- today, ask them to test, and report back.
<Thank you>
5. Only decoration is an aquarium-specific silk plant which I'll remove at once. Bottom is aquarium gravel, about 1/2 inch. Live plants are small Anubias and some kind of aquatic ferns, 3-4 total, bought packaged commercially and individually from local pet store, treated with KMnO4,
<Ahh; a fave! Olde timey, but very effective if not a bit harsh oxidation wise>
then rinsed before introduction. Nothing else in tank except heaters, thermometer, and an airstone we put in when Milo became ill.
Thank you very much again. Here's hoping the answers above address everything. Please do re-confirm whether to go ahead and add charcoal now... just want to be sure we understand, as this will remove the
Praziquantel; but if your recommendation is charcoal instead of Prazi, thank you and that's what we'll do!
<Yes to the carbon (not charcoal..., see WWM if you don't know the diff.) and no to the Prazi>
Steve C. (Milo's adoptive dad)
<And you, BobF>
Re: Betta -- near-complete color loss        12/13/18

Hello Neale, Bob, and everyone,
<Hello Steve,>
Thank you so much again for your kind assistance.
Sadly, little Milo died while we were away getting the water tested professionally. The aquarium shop's only comments were that they found trace ammonia and that "everything else looks good."
<Good to hear. I'm old school about ammonia, and treat any non-zero level as potentially dangerous. Yes, the toxicity of ammonia varies with pH, so at acidic pH levels it's supposedly less dangerous. But still, if there's any ammonia detected above whatever levels in your tap water (neutralised by commercial water conditioners) then there's evidently a lag between the ammonia produced by your fish and the filter's removal of that ammonia via nitrification.>
Toxins worry me, too, and with further online searching I'm thinking I caused Milo's illness and death, and that of the Betta before him, by making the water much, much too hard. In trying to prevent a pH crash it seems I kept KH and GH extremely high over a long time, although pH remained about 7.8-8.0... water so hard that it must have been toxic to the poor little Bettas?
<Possibly. No real problems up to about 15-20 degrees dH, but above that, probably not a good idea.>
If this makes sense and seems reasonable as a cause, I'll feel confident to replace everything in the tank and start again after cycling, perhaps now able to give another Betta a happy and this time *safe* home.
<Definitely worth a shot, yes.>
Again, many thanks,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)  SW/BR/FW   12/9/18
Hi Neale,
How are you?
<All good.>
I have come across and interesting and seemingly rare puffer for sale. Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca).
<Does turn up very occasionally in the UK trade, mostly at the stores specialising in oddballs; I've seen them at Wildwoods for example. A second variety, known as the Golden Milk Spotted Puffer, is also traded, which may or may not be a regional or colour morph of the same fish.>
I have a tank available in my fish room. I can't find much at all by way of information about this fish?
<Very few people have kept it. I haven't, for a start!>
I saw you made brief reference to this fish in a PFK article.
Do you know much in terms of care requirements?
<Very similar to the standard issue GSP, though potentially much larger, up to 30 cm. Much more peaceful towards its own kind though, but still a fin-biter, so tankmates should be chosen with care. Might work okay in a jumbo reef or FOWLR system alongside suitably punch, fast, and robust fish such as Sergeant Majors and Damselfish that would hide among rocks when resting. Otherwise very undemanding; hardy, euryhaline, eats all the usual meaty foods. Wild fish probably consume a lot of algae, too, so stuffing some Spirulina flake into, say, mussels would be a good way to keep their vitamin levels topped up.>
Also is £140 an OK price?
<About right. It's never cheap, but is very beautiful.>
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
Re: Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)      12/10/18

Thanks Neale that’s really helpful. He’s in freshwater at the moment - what sort of salinity is required and how is best to ease him in to it?
<Oh, they're nominally marine fish, but completely euryhaline coastal fish, meaning move in and out of freshwater and saltwater habitats all the time. Juveniles are common in estuaries, and adults seem to be all over the place, from the freshwater part of estuaries all the way to offshore reefs. Good water quality and an alkaline pH are probably more important than the precise salinity. I'd probably keep a youngster around 1.003-1.005, aiming for 1.010 upwards by the time it's above, say, 8-10 cm.>
Could I keep him with. GSPs or figure 8s whilst he is small?
<Definitely worth a shot, and similarly, adults might be tried with the less aggressive Arothron spp. All the limited accounts of this species in captivity seem to agree with the general idea it's non-aggressive, just nippy. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)      12/10/18

Thank you .
<Most welcome.>
If they are constantly moving between freshwater - could I have a go at keeping it in freshwater- or is that not worth the risk?
<Short term, probably fine. I mean, I've kept Arothron hispidus juveniles in hard freshwater -- but that's another story! Regardless, if you're forking out £100+ for a fish, you'd not be wanting to take too much of a gamble! I'd certainly keep the pH and hardness high, and ensure good water quality. Probably better to add even a little salt, to start with. 1.003 would be ample for juveniles, and easily tolerated by brackish water tolerant plants. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Milk-spotted puffer (Chelonodon patoca)      12/10/18

Thanks - sorry last question - how best can I introduce salt without killing my filter bacteria?
<In stages! From freshwater to 1.003 there'll be no noticeable effect.

There on upwards, do small changes, wait a couple of weeks, do the odd nitrite or ammonia test, and act accordingly. Since these puffers are euryhaline, you may choose to grow the fish onto subadult size in low-end brackish, then simply convert the tank to marine -- complete with skimmer and live rock -- on a Sunday afternoon, the puffer sitting in a large, securely covered bucket until you're reading to acclimate it to full marine conditions. The live rock will bring in the entirely new batch of bacteria required for filtration, as per setting up a reef or FOWLR system. Klaus Ebert of Aqualog fame says you can chuck euryhaline brackish fish into marine conditions instantly, but I'm a little kinder, and suggest plain vanilla drip acclimation across, say, an hour. Either way, these fish can, do experience such things in the wild when the tide turns. Cheers, Neale.> 

Musk turtle      12/8/18
Hi, I wonder if you can help me please? We have a musk turtle hatchling and we have got to go away for a day and a half.
I have no one to turn the UVB light and the heat light on would it be better for me to leave them both on?
<Leaving them both off would fine for a few days, assuming the house doesn't get freezing cold. Alternatively, an inexpensive timer at the mains socket end of the lamp's power cable can be used to switch such things on and off without problems.>
Thank you
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Thanks, Neale! 10 gal. FW set up     12/6/18
This missive is for Neale, especially.
I have a 29g FW aquarium but wound up setting up a previously retired 10g as a nursery when my Albino BNP pair became prolific. More than 100 surviving fry later (!!!!) Laddie and Lassie were separated and their progeny re-homed. Since it was already up and running, I decided to do something with the smaller aquarium, and your article about 10g tank stocking caught my eye
The 10g already had an Eheim Liberty 200 and prefilter, so I added 6 pounds of sand, moved a couple large Java fern over from the 29g, added floating plants, and then 11 Galaxy Danios and 5 Salt & Pepper corys purchased from a not-very-local LFS (6 hour round trip drive!). As per your information I did reduce the water flow of the Liberty to a trickle and all the fish seem to be relaxed, yet active. What fun they are to watch!
<Nice to know. It's well worth toning down the flow rate of some filters when using them in smaller tanks. Many of the fish we keep actually come from ponds, ditches, creeks, and other places with minimal water flow. So long as water quality is maintained, a gentle water flow can be just the right thing for these fish.>
WWM is a place I return to frequently, not just to research problems, but to educate myself about all aspects of aquarium and pond husbandry. Thanks to you, Neale, and the Crew for all you do!
<And thank you for these very kind words.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pea Puffer Weight    12/4/18
Hola, Crew! Thanks in advance for your help and advice - y'all are awesome!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Hope you can give me some advice re: my pea puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus).
First a little background. I have a three gallon Walstad-type tank, heavily planted with Mayaca fluviatilis, with Pellia covering about 1/3 of the substrate. Floating plants are Salvinia, duckweed, and giant duckweed.
Also lots of ramshorn snails. I originally set up the tank to grow out the Mayaca for pea my other tanks. Once that was accomplished, here was this well-cycled, heavily planted tank with no fish, kinda boring.
<So some might say!>
I love pea puffers, so after doing my research I concluded it would be ok to keep one in this tank. Of course once I decided this, no one had them in stock, despite the fact that they had been plentiful a few months ago.
Finally I found one at my LFS. It was extremely skinny (emaciated really) but looked otherwise healthy so I brought her home. I *think* it's a female, although it may just still be immature.
<Agreed, the blue squiggles around the face of the males can work, but isn't always reliable.>
So, into the tank she went, along with a pea-puffer-sized portion of live blackworms. This was about six weeks ago. In spite of the fact that I have never seen this fish eat, she quickly became quite plump.
She has obviously been doing quite well chowing down on the blackworms and snails. In fact I am wondering if she may be too plump, which would be bad for her health.
<Not really. I mean, gross overfeeding puts a strain on the filter, and if the food is protein-rich or fat-rich, then there's a risk of the same sort of problems you'd get overfeed a cat or dog. But fish don't need daily feeds, so skipping feeds is an easy way to slim down a plum little fish.>
She has definitely put a dent in the snail population, and it seems that the blackworms have established a small yet thriving colony so she can graze on them whenever she likes.
My question is, do I need to intervene here?
<Interesting question. On the one hand, if you stop adding food, and let her graze naturally, she should be fine in terms of health. But on the other hand, there's a definite problem with the tank if snail and worm
populations are burgeoning.>
Should I remove some of the snails, etc?
<Some periodic reduction of the population size might be healthy, yes.>
Or would it be ok to wait until she has decimated the snail and blackworm population on her own, and then commence feeding her appropriate portions?
<This, too, could work.>
And is this blackworm/snail combination a balanced diet for her?
<Pretty much.>
I should mention that I have tried supplying other foods (soaked freeze dried krill, etc) but it just winds up feeding the snails and blackworms.
<Inevitable, really.>
I do make sure to feed algae tablets to the snails to make sure they are "gut loaded".
I want to do my best for this little gal, so your advice will be much appreciated!
<See above.>
Oh, forgot to mention - I do an 80% water change every 5 - 7 days. Thanks again!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Flowerhorn not eating and kok is deflating         12/3/18
Hello crew and thank for any help you can offer me.(
Yesterday my Flowerhorn stopped eating and I noticed his kok was becoming soft and deflated.
I had changed 75% of his water on 11/25 and when I noticed the problem yesterday I changed 75% again.
<A good start.>
I also noticed that the area around his anus is reddish and it seems like he has been rubbing it against decorations (I can see a little tissue damage to the area).
<Red tends to indicate at the least inflammation, and at worst, bacterial infection. Medicate as per Finrot, using a reliable antibiotic rather than salt or tea-tree oil.>

I feed him twice a day with cz help in the morning and xo ocean free starry at night( he is a Thai silk). The water parameters are ph 7.8, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 20, hard water 200ppm. I have well water and I treat it with prime when I do water changes. The only thing different lately was that he ate a guppy I fed him last week.
<Well, that was a mistake. Never feed live fish! Too risky. But that said, to suddenly cause sickness this rapidly is unusual.>
Right now he is 6” and he is in a 20gal tank but I am setting up a 75gal tank for him and I’m just waiting for the canister filter to be delivered.
<Move him to the bigger tank as soon as practical; better water quality will help, and 20 gallons is much too small for an adult Flowerhorn.>
I almost forgot, I added 1 tablespoon per each 10gal of Epsom salts and I did the first general cure treatment yesterday as it seems that it can be intestinal related. Any help you can offer is much greatly appreciated.
<An antibiotic, alongside Metronidazole, would be the best move here. Ensure optimal living conditions -- including more space and hard, alkaline water. Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>

Hi Bob. Below link to my question. any guidance welcome.
Applying a chemical prep. to aquarium insides to avoid pest algae growth         12/3/18

Thanks for your time
<Got me; but I don't think this will work. Better by far to focus on setting the system up correctly, doing regular/needed maintenance, and strive to keep (pest algae) nutrients low by not over-feeding, adding fertilizers, using competitors and algal predators. See WetWebMedia.com re algae control for your type of set up. BobF?
Re: Hi Bob. Below link to my question. any guidance welcome.         12/3/18

Thanks. I'll let you know how it goes.
Okay. Please send all such petfish matters to me/us at Crew@WetWebMedia.com
Re: Hi Bob. Below link to my question. any guidance welcome. Algae resistant coating    12/6/18

I found an article claiming siloxane is toxic but I don't yet have full article. I'll send you what I can get.
Siloxanes are in the glue that holds aquaria together, so I am a little skeptical.
Newer technology involving "nanoparticles" may be more plausibly toxic.
More, later. Please let me know if you learn something ASAP because I plan to set up my tank this week.
<I'd not use this product. BobF>

Goldfish Urgent Help Needed         12/3/18
Hi - I have a gold fish that has had swim bladder issues. I have a 40 gallon tank with 2 goldish who are about 7 inches each.
We went away for Thanksgiving and when I came back my ornamental goldfish Superfish was super bloated and hanging on the bottom of the tank.
<... Fed what?>
I went to the store and they said my ammonia is too high.
<What sort of filtration do you employ on your 40 gal.?>
I had changed the water and the filters when I got home and apparently took out all of the good bacteria.
<Happens. Do see WWM re goldfish et al. system maintenance, water changes.
Best to not change out more than abut 25% per week, WITH pre-stored treated or not new water>
They gave me some bacteria to put in the tank - and I have also put Epsom salt in the tank. I tried feeding them peas but he has not eaten anything for days.
<Better to not feed when/if ammonia is present>
He is now on his side barely breathing and my heart is breaking. Is there anything I can do?
<Do you have ammonia, nitrite, nitrate test kits? I would get and use simple colorimetric ones. NOT feed flake foods...>
Thank you for your kindness,
<Very glad to try, help you and your ailing fish. Please read here:
and search on WWM (tool on every page) for "goldfish ammonia burn". Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish Urgent Help Needed    12/4/18

He died last night
What can I do to save his friend? He is ok now but I guess the water is bad.
<The same as previous sent, test kits, water changes... no flake food>
Should I take him out?
<The dead fish, yes; the live one, no; unless you have another established system of size to place it in alternatively. BobF>

Constipated turtle      12/1/18
Hey folks! I was hoping I could get your opinion on something.
<Sure thing!>
My red eared slider has/had a bit of shell rot, which I treated with iodine and an anti-fungal creme.
I took her to a vet, even though there are no herp vets here, I just took her in because they have a lab, and I wanted her poop tested. Which they did, and they told me she apparently has too much fiber and starch in her poop. They told me nothing else useful, didn't give any kind of diagnoses, just told me that's bad and that I should only feed her animal matter, no plants.
<This is, well, wrong. Red-Ear Sliders are omnivores in the wild, with adults predominantly feeding on aquatic plants. They should indeed be producing lots of faeces, which would indeed look quite fibrous. Of course starchy foods, such as cereals, probably shouldn't be given too often, as these aren't a natural part of their diet. Better to focus on cheap aquarium plants (such as Elodea) as sold for Goldfish system, alongside pellets and small bits of seafood. ReptoMin isn't bad at all, especially for hatchlings, though it is a bit protein rich, so as the turtle gets older, it should be given less often. Koi pellets are a good, cheap staple.
They're plant-based and readily taken by hungry turtles.>
I tried doing that, and now she's constipated.
Probably this just layered over the fact that I was dry-docking her because of the fungus and only put her in water for about an hour every day.
She hasn't pooped in over a week, and now she WON'T eat any plant matter.
I'm not sure what to do now.
<Turtles often can't defecate unless placed in room temperature to slightly warm (i.e., not cold!) water, so that might be one factor. A protein-rich, fibre-poor diet will cause problems too.>
Even if taking her to the vet again was in any way useful, which it probably wouldn't be, it is now very cold, so taking her anywhere is very risky, especially since I don't have a car.
Anything I can do?
<Placing the turtle in slightly warm (18-22 C) water should raise its metabolic rate a bit, and with everything ticking over nicely, its gut muscles can push the faeces out better. In cold conditions this doesn't happen because the muscles become inactive. I would check the tank has no gravel in it -- very occasionally turtles swallow gravel, and once inside them, it can cause serious blockages. An x-ray is the only way to check for this, but "prevention is better than cure", so don't combine turtles with gravel. Beyond these, simply increasing the fibre content of the food, and scaling back anything likely to cause constipation, such as dried shrimps, should be avoided.>
I've been keeping her in water mostly warmer than her usual temperature in hopes that it'll relax her insides and she'll rehydrate, and I tried putting a bit of olive oil on her food, though I'm not sure if she actually ingested any.
<Worth a shot, though!>
So far, no poop. Would human laxatives make a difference?
<Possibly, if you stuffed something like bran fibre into some small piece of seafood the turtle would swallow whole.>
Though I'd be scared of trying to force-feed anything because of the risk of it going in her lungs instead.
<Quite so. Force feeding animals is extremely risky, and shouldn't be attempted unless you've been shown what to do by an expert. With cold blooded animals, which have much lower food requirements than mammals, starvation will take many weeks, even months, to become a life-threatening danger.>
Any help would be appreciated.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Overcrowding J. marlieri juveniles to minimize aggression    11/28/18
<Hi Rina>
I wrote very recently regarding keeping panther crabs together with J. marlieri. Thanks again Bob for your help there.
I've decided to separate the two for the safety of the crabs, but now what to do with the Julies? One of them is a real bully and keeps the other two hanging near the top of the tank so the 10 gallon is clearly too small for them.
<Yes; best to move it... if no room, float it in a "breeding trap/net" or plastic colander...>
I have a 30 gallon tank but I can't quite justify giving three tiny fish so much real estate! I do however have three other J. marlieri, about 1-2 cm bigger than this group and I'm wondering if I could put all six in the 30 gallon tank until a breeding pair forms.
<With decor (rock, plants, wood...) I think this is your best plan>
I know the larger fish will pick on the smaller ones until the latter get a bit bigger at least, but if I add a fake rock wall with caves and three or four distinct rock piles, plants to break up lines of sight, plus five
Danios (which I also happen to have already) to give the larger Julies an extra outlet for their aggressive behaviour,
<Yes; good dither fish>
would that keep the aggression at a manageable level?
<I do think this will work. Have seen Julidochromis cultured, kept in such settings several times successfully.>
Thanks again!
<Welcome! BobF>
Re: Overcrowding J. marlieri juveniles to minimize aggression    11/28/18

Hi Bob,
Thanks for such a swift response.
I'll go ahead and do that then. Which brings me to my next two questions.
If a breeding pair forms, I know I'll have to promptly remove all the other fish from the tank.
<Mmm; maybe not so promptly>
But again, it seems like a lot of tank space for just two fish.
<Wouldn't be two for long eh? Is there a local market (fish stores, clubs...) for your African Cichlids?>
I just recalled reading somewhere that a Julidochromis mating pair can be kept in a 20 gallon.
<Yes; a long vs. a tall format better>
But a 20 gallon would be too small for growing out six juveniles with Danios, right?
<Mmm; no; it might well work>
And secondly, could I keep the Danios in the breeding pair's tank or no?
<If they're smart, yes... such that they'll keep out of the way. May be an issue with eating young>
Thanks again,
Rina Khan
<Welcome as well. Bob Fenner>
Re: Overcrowding J. marlieri juveniles to minimize aggression     11/28/18

Thanks again Bob. Will try to find a cheap 20 gallon then.
Rina Khan
<Real good>

help... Injured FW puffer    11/28/18
So i have a 40 liter freshwater tank with penguin bio filter (charcoal), powerhead with small bio balls in plastic container, heater and java moss balls along with snails, cherry shrimp, tetras, Bristlenose Pleco and a blue fish that i cannot identify.
Anyway, i also have a cute leopard dwarf puffer.
<For browsers, also known as Pygmy puffers and Malabar puffers, Carinotetraodon travancoricus>
They've cohabited in the same tank for the past 12 months just fine, all of them. no issues.
But i noticed a few days ago that my puffer has a lesion growing on his right back side. please see photo along with blow up photo and outline of lesion.
<I see this in your excellent pix>
It is fleshy looking with a reddish tint along with white. I cannot figure out what it is, it almost looks like a bite but the other fish are not carnivores, they just eat tetra fish flakes and mind their business.
<Might be a bite... some sort of infection... started by a physical trauma>

it seems to be getting bigger, right now it is about 3mm. he's not that big, maybe 1.5" length....i believe a female, and the only puffer in the entire tank.
<I agree... don't see the typical "crinkling" about the eyes; designating a male>
She acts fine, moves around the tank looking and observing, not showing any signs of being in pain or in discomfort.
if you have an idea, i would be willing to try any steps necessary to make that lesion go away.
thank you in advance.
regards, Bob
<Am asking Neale to chime in as he knows much more re puffers than I. Bob Fenner>
help /Neale     11/28/18

So i have a 40 liter freshwater tank with penguin bio filter (charcoal), powerhead with small bio balls in plastic container, heater and java moss balls along with snails, cherry shrimp, tetras, Bristlenose Pleco and a blue fish that i cannot identify.
<This is 10.5 US gallons, so rather a small tank for the fish you already have, let alone any additional species.>
Anyway, i also have a cute leopard dwarf puffer.
<I cannot find the name "leopard dwarf puffer" anywhere online. The Dwarf Puffer is Carinotetraodon travancoricus, a very small freshwater species.
The Leopard Puffer of the aquarium hobby is Tetraodon nigroviridis, a large (15 cm/6 inches) brackish to marine species. It is definitely not compatible with any of the fish you have, and of course needs a much bigger tank.>
They've cohabited in the same tank for the past 12 months just fine, all of them. no issues.
<There's not been a shot fired for years on the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, doesn't make it a safe place to live. Tetraodon nigroviridis is a large, aggressive, potentially territorial species that readily bites tankmates. While sometimes works okay alongside other punchy fish, such as the larger marine Damsels, it's otherwise a shockingly poor community fish that tends, at the very least, to be nippy.>
But i noticed a few days ago that my puffer has a lesion growing on his right back side.
<My money would be on a pufferfish bite if there's two puffers in this tank. Could otherwise be a physical wound from being thrown against something sharp, like a rock. You sometimes see this sort of wound when skittish fish throw themselves out of the tank, hit something sharp in the hood (like a reflector behind a lamp) and then fall back into the water.
But if the bite is circular, and there's another puffer, then puffer-on-puffer aggression is the story here. When you keep similarly sized puffers of like disposition, circular bite marks on the skin are quite common. These usually heal with little/no need for medication. If the puffers are very different in size, then the smaller one can be damaged much more severely, the skin being broken, and as you can see here, the underlying flesh becoming exposed. Isolation, and medication as per Finrot, is the order of the day. Fish can recover from such wounds, but fungal and bacterial infections are very probable without the use of a reliable medication, such as an antibiotic, to keep the wound clean.>
please see photo along with blow up photo and outline of lesion. It is fleshy looking with a reddish tint along with white. I cannot figure out what it is, it almost looks like a bite but the other fish are not
carnivores, they just eat tetra fish flakes and mind their business.
<Yeah, it's not the tetras or the catfish. The read is muscle, the white is decaying flesh and skin.>
it seems to be getting bigger, right now it is about 3mm. he's not that big, maybe 1.5" length....i believe a female, and the only puffer in the entire tank. She acts fine, moves around the tank looking and observing, not showing any signs of being in pain or in discomfort.
if you have an idea, i would be willing to try any steps necessary to make that lesion go away.
<See above.>
thank you in advance.
regards, Bob
<Hope this helps. Neale.>

Re: help    11/29/18
thank you all for your reply and assistance.
I believe my puffer was somehow in the wrong place at the wrong time and got nicked by activities from the catfish which is a fairly large (4-5" long) and pretty lively in the tank.
<Possibly, but Ancistrus are very placid, and it's extremely unlikely they'd "suck onto" the flanks of a healthy pufferfish. Otocinclus sometimes do this, and occasionally common Plec varieties, particularly
Pterygoplichthys spp., will latch onto large slab sided fishes. But I've never seen or heard of Ancistrus engaging in this behaviour. Their ecological niche is quite different to either the Otocinclus or the
Pterygoplichthys. I'd keep a very open mind about this explanation.>
He likes to go under a log and move it around and makes the glass gravel smack against the tank. So i believe Neale was right to say he was accidentally a victim.
So you listed using some kind of antibiotic to help with the wound and the puffer's healing properly.....do you recommend a brand and type? how is it administered? Or do you think it will heal on its own?
<Something like KanaPlex is a good first choice, or the old Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 combo. Outside of the US, a reliable antibacterial, such as eSHa 2000, could be used instead. Avoid bogus cures such as salt, tea tree oil, or anything else that sounds like it cures everything. Follow the instructions on the packaging, most being dosed per gallon, and used across several days. Remove carbon from the filter. It's also a good idea to up the aeration a bit.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: help     12/5/18
my poor dwarf puffer died yesterday....I'm so sad. it is still a mystery how he got injured.
<Indeed. Time to reflect, think about stocking options, compatibility between species, etc. Use this as a learning experience.>
but he just couldn't heal
<Sad to hear.>
oh well, thought i would let you know.
<Thank you for sharing. Good luck with the remaining fish! Neale.>

Fahaka teeth problem      11/27/18
Hi Neale!
How are you?
<Hello Nathaniel. All good here.>
Great news - my Fahaka is getting big - like 8 inches!!.
<They do grow fast.>
I've had him for a number of months now and he's been happily feeding on frozen cockles (NOT in the shells). He usually eats 10-15 a day with 1 day off a week. (plenty of heavy filtration and a decent sized tank - so no worries there!)
The only problem is, I can see his teeth getting bigger. At the moment he has no problems eating but I can imagine in the future it will be a problem.
<Indeed. Without lots of crunchy food, this is probably inevitable.>
I have only fed soft foods as he wasn't big enough for shell-on foods at first and showed on interest in small snails.
<Snails will be eaten if the puffer is hungry enough. Besides molluscs, do also try unshelled shrimp and crayfish, or even the legs from cooked crabs and lobsters.>
I have now tried to introduce him to shell-on foods and he looks at me as if to say "what do you expect me to do with that? Give me some proper food!"
<"Hunger makes the best sauce.">
I have tried, mussels, clams and snails and not one of them was touched. I have even tried smashing them before putting into the tank to help him out but still no interest.
<One possibility is to smear foods into something like a pumice stone or artificial lava rock, such the puffer will have to work at the rock to extract the food.>
I have ordered some half-shell clams and plan to starve him for maybe 2 days and try those.
<Should help, but if partially shelled, the puffer may simply suck the meat off the shell.>
Do you have any other suggestions?
<Hope the above helps. Otherwise dentistry may be in your future. It's not difficult, but easier avoided. Cheers, Neale.
Fahaka teeth problem      11/27/18

<Nate; I'd like to add this article on WWM for your perusal/review:
Re: Fahaka teeth problem    11/29/18

Thanks Neale!!
<Most welcome.>

Unidentifiable Squirming Object     11/26/18
<Greetings Saquib>
Guys I am from a under-developed country, though it's not peculiar to find bugs and such in the tap water but I have kids and just wanted to be sure what I have on hands here. I have spotted this fella a couple of times in the tap water and one time on the clothing too (since we wash clothes with the same water). Can someone please let me know what this is and if it's harmful. If yes, please advise what to do.
Saquib Haider
<Can't quite make this out... is it segmented? Don't see any "mouth parts"; my best (though general) guess is that this is some sort of insect larvae or segmented worm (Oligochaete). In both cases it is highly unlikely that either are deleterious/harmful to humans. Do please send along a better resolved image if you can.
Bob Fenner>

Parathelphusa pantherina, FW crabs and Juli's tog. in a 10 gal.     11/24/18
I recently acquired two very small Parathelphusa pantherina (shells just over 1.5cm across) and three juvenile Julidochromis marlieri (about 3cm long). They're currently in a lightly planted 10 gallon grow-out tank with plenty of rocks for the fish and some wood for the crabs to hide in. I know the tank will be too small for them in the long-term and that it's not recommended to keep crabs together with fish, but my crabs are so small and shy I can't imagine them being able to do any damage to the Julies for a while yet.
<Mmm; yes; hard to imagine... but at night when the fish are settled down, near the bottom, easily pinched>
And from what I understand they have similar pH and hardness requirements.
So I'm hoping to keep them in this tank for a few months until they all get a little bigger. (Assuming I see no aggression of course.)
Which brings me to my three questions:
1.I haven't treated the tank with PraziPro yet. Is it truly safe for freshwater crabs?
<It should be; yes>
2. How will the Julies tolerate the extra iodine the crabs need?
<This too should not be problematic>
I do 50% water changes once to twice a week and add 1 drop of Kent Marine Iodide to the change water every other time.
<No worries here>
3. At what size can I expect the Julies to start pairing up and become territorially aggressive?
<Another couple cm. With close observation you'll find this happening more in a few months time>
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Parathelphusa pantherina      11/25/18

Thanks for such a quick response Bob! Will definitely keep a sharp eye out for any aggression.
<Real good Rina. This is not a very "mean", territorial genus of Cichlids; and less so w/ successive captive-produced generations. You'll see trouble coming. BobF> 

Unknown Betta Issue      11/21/18
My Betta fish has become increasingly sick throughout the past couple of months. I have tried a new filter, bottled spring water,
<Mmm; need to know about this... pH, hardness especially. You may be missing useful mineral content here>

stress coat, salt treatments, frequent water changes, Kanaplex and fungus clear, cleaning the entire tank and turning the heat up. Nothing I have tried seems to help, he continues to get worse. He still eats,
<What? Have you read on WWM re Betta health? Care?>
swims around and flares. He does not seem to be impacted by this much.
I have attached photos below from when it began until now.
Thank you in advance for any suggestions you have as to how to treat this or what it might be.
<... Please respond to my concerns above. Bob Fenner>

Last Hope for my Betta     11/21/18
I have a 2 year old Male Betta living in a 5 gallon planted, heated tank with a sponge filter. I am guilty of falling behind on cleaning the substrate and I think that might be to blame for his current condition.
<Oh? Do you use nitrate concentration as a guideline here?>
About 2 weeks ago I noticed he was unable to "catch" his food(pellets). He would keep trying and missing. I foolishly ignored this.
For the last 3-4 days he has been laying on his side at the bottom of the tank. Yesterday I moved him into a shallow "hospital" tank. I thought it was just his time to go at first, but his condition has lingered too long for it to be a natural death (I believe). He has no signs or symptoms other than previously mentioned.
Is there anything I can do for him?
<Yes! Check your water quality; switch out a good deal (like half) of the system water for new (best from another established aquarium); and add in a bit of frozen/defrosted food to the fish's diet>
If not what is the best way to euthanize him?
<Mmm; I am hesitant to suggest this at this juncture. I'd hold off. This fish may well rally... return to robust health. IF you feel otherwise, please read Neale's piece on the topic:
I can't let him suffer like this much longer. Thank you for your time and consideration.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Fwd: Last Hope for my Betta     11/21/18
<Little Dani>
Thank you for the fast reply! I gave up my tanks and all of my water testing supplies a while back. I adopted this Betta from a poor situation after the fact. Yes, I feel confident that nitrates are to blame for the issue. I am keeping the water in the hospital tank "safe" by using Seachem's Prime. I did acclimate him very slowly when switching over. I've rehabilitated fish in the past this way successfully.
<I see>
If he pulls through, I will absolutely make the diet changes you suggested.
As for right now, he is showing no interest in food whatsoever.
<Too likely there are "cycling issues" w/ the current situation. Just adding Prime won't do... I'd place this fish back in its water changed system w/ the filter, substrate...>
Is it safe to assume that the best course of action is to keep him in the shallow tank, continue daily water changes and hope for the best?
<No; see above>
He has been without food for at least 4 days, but probably longer since he was having trouble catching his food before turning lethargic. My fear however is that he is slowly and painfully starving to death :'(
Thank you again,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Last Hope for my Betta     11/21/18

Will get on that right away. I just got home and noticed that he is looking a little "bloated" now. Is this a clue to a different issue?
<Likely all related to environmental stress. IF biological, secondary in origin. Bob Fenner>

LAST Hope for my Betta     /Neale's go       11/23/18
<Danielle, apologies for delay responding.>
I have a 2 year old Male Betta living in a 5 gallon planted, heated tank with a sponge filter. I am guilty of falling behind on cleaning the substrate and I think that might be to blame for his current condition.
About 2 weeks ago I noticed he was unable to "catch" his food(pellets). He would keep trying and missing. I foolishly ignored this. For the last 3-4 days he has been laying on his side at the bottom of the tank. Yesterday I moved him into a shallow "hospital" tank. I thought it was just his time to go at first, but his condition has lingered too long for it to be a natural death(I believe). He has no signs or symptoms other than previously mentioned.
Is there anything I can do for him?
<Likely not. Two years isn't a bad innings for a Betta. Anything between 2-3 years is far better than most experience in captivity. So don't be too hard on yourself.>
If not what is the best way to euthanize him?
<Personally, I prefer the "30 drops clove oil in 1 litre of aquarium water" approach. Evidently painless; fish relaxes in seconds, stops breathing within a couple minutes, and certainly dead within half an hour. Do read here:
Do note that some traditional methods (like ice) are not considered humane by vets.>
I can't let him suffer like this much longer. Thank you for your time and consideration.
<Hope this helps. Neale.>

Crayfish turn green after moulting     11/20/18
Hey WWM,
<Howsit Darren?>
My female crayfish (Cherax quadricatinatus/red claw crayfish) moulted today and her head turned from her usual brownish blue colouration to a moss-like/grass-like green colouration. I tried searching for answers online but nobody seems to have indicated that their crayfish have turned green (only turn blue/brown). Do you know what might have caused this?
<Mmm; yes... "know" as in high enough confidence in my interpretation of facts/evidence>
My water parameters are good and she is living quite comfortably in her 10 gallon. The tank is very sufficiently aerated (you can even see bubbles in the water) and she is given algae wafers and traditional crayfish pellets.
Could it be the algae wafers (which was the only food she would eat prior to her moulting) or could it be something else?
<Such color changing, difficulties in moults are most-often due to nutritional and environmental (water quality) issues. These crayfish need some protein from animal sources, iron and iodide/ate... and a setting with sufficiently hard, basic water.
These requirements are gone over and over on WWM.
Provided all, your crayfish may well change shell color in time, with successive moults. Bob Fenner>

Re: Crayfish turn green after moulting     11/21/18
My water's pH is 7.8 and her crayfish pellets should be giving her sufficient protein.
<I'd still be supplementing w/ a bit of animal source; AND iodide/ate added directly to the water weekly>
I think she's fine but I'm just shocked to see a bright, almost grass-green colour on this species because usually they don't turn green.
<Mmm, I worked quite a bit w/ Procambarus clarkii in college, and on my own...
Crayfish can/do occur, change in shell color quite a bit... genetically, via env. and nutritional influences. Bob Fenner>

Amazing Website!     11/18/18
Wow, I am learning so much from your website.
Mostly, I am learning that I've been doing everything wrong!
<Oh dear. Well, I guess this is what they call a learning curve...>
I have a Betta who has been behaving very sluggishly. He's actually been "holing up" at the bottom of the tank, in a little "cave" made by the stones on the bottom.
For the past 2 days he didn't come out and I was sure he'd died. But no, today he's been swimming around and I was able to feed him. But this can't be normal behavior?
<Not really, no. Fish will often be reclusive for a few hours to a couple days after being introduced to a new tank. But if they're persistently shy, beyond what they should normally be like, then there may be something frightening them. Sometimes, it's bright light or unnaturally coloured substrates (such as white gravel) that alarms them. But other times it's the water chemistry. Fish will respond to non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels by behaving as if they're scared. It's kind of like when cats are sick and they hide. They don't "know" they're sick, they just feel pain,
and their instinct when scared is to hide. Fish do the same thing.>
I've been speaking with Petco, who recommended bringing the water in for testing, and they said it was just fine.
<I would suggest letting us have the numbers. Get a water test kit, at minimum, a nitrite test kit. Non-zero nitrite (or ammonia) levels are dangerous, potentially lethal after a few days.>
But now I'm reading on your blog that "just fine" isn't good enough, you need me to tell you the actual numbers.
So I need to get my own test kit. What do you recommend?
<They're all much the same chemicals, so doesn't really matter.>
I've also been told to do a 50% water change once/week, but what about what has settled in the stones at the bottom? Doesn't that need to be cleaned?
<Not beyond stirring gently before a water change, and then using that water change to siphon out any muck.>
I don't have a filter. Should I have one?
If so, what brand to you recommend?
<Again, doesn't really matter. Small internal canister filters from the likes of Eheim, Fluval and other well-known brands all do the job well. The Eheim ones are probably the best in terms of long-term reliability, easily running 20+ years if cared for, while the generic Chinese ones will do the job, but seem to fail after a few years. So it's really down to personal preference and budget.>
I do have a small pump which creates air flow, and of course a heater.
<A simple box filter or sponge filter can be connected to the air pump.
These would be perfectly adequate for a Betta, which actually prefers little water current, so an internal canister might not be the perfect choice if you can't tone down the water flow rate.>
Two heaters, actually, since my house is quite cold. It sits at about 74 degrees in the fish tank (which is 2.5 gallons). Is that warm enough?
<Long term, no; Bettas really need a consistent 25 C/77 F, and more to the point, cold air kills them -- they're air breathers. So make sure the tank has some sort of hood to trap warm air. I can't imagine why you need two filters unless they're really poor quality. Assuming this is a 5 gallon tank -- the absolute minimum for "easy" Betta keeping -- then something like a 50 W heater should be more than adequate.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Amazing Website!     11/19/18

Wow, thanks for the lightning-quick response Neale!
<Most welcome.>
For me, it all started with this:
https://backtotheroots.com/collections/top-sellers/products/watergarden So I guess my first problem is that the tank is only 3 gallons. So this is really not sufficient?
<It's tight. Here's the deal. While Bettas *can* certainly live in tanks this size, the margin for error is much less. The water cools down faster if the heater fails, the water quality worsens faster between water changes
(let alone if the filter dies) and there's less volume to dilute overfeeding if you have someone look after this fish in your absence (something almost never worth bothering with -- fish can go weeks without food). Given that a 5 gallon tank is still tiny, and won't take up much shelf space, but offers up nearly twice as much water as you've got now, it's still a worthy upgrade for the future. I'd also observe that 'hiding' a heater and a filter in a 5 gallon tank is much easier too, because you'll have more space for plants, rocks, etc.>
I quit trying to grow the seeds because they leaked into the tank and made a huge mess, so now I am just enjoying my Betta fish!
<Seeds? What seeds? For what it's worth, it's not worth bothering growing aquarium plants from seed.>
He's been in that tank for about two years, so there is nothing new that could be scaring him.
So it's back to water quality. I will get a test kit today. In the meantime, I just did a 50% water change.
I keep a lid on the tank to retain the heat, but the temp is never 77 degrees as you suggest below. It's more like 74. I live in Colorado and my house is pretty darn cold! So I will get a new heater today too.
<Assuming you've got central heating in this room, the air temperature in the room shouldn't really be much colder than, say, 20 C/68 F. If you look on the back of many brands of aquarium heater, there are tables describing
what wattage you'll need to elevate the water temperature 5 or 10 degrees above ambient room temperature. You can find these tables on line, too.
Anyway, something around 50 W should be ample for a 5 gallon tank, even if you need to raise the temperature a full 10 degrees above ambient room temperature. Don't go overboard though, and get a really high wattage, as
these may heat the water immediately around them much too quickly.>
I read about gravel siphoning devices somewhere on your website. Do you like those, or just a regular filter? Or both?
<I'd skip the gravel siphon. It's a device to facilitate water changes, sluicing the gravel through the water being sucked out. While quite useful, they'd be much too big for a tank the size of yours. A simple turkey baster
(new, or at least well cleaned!) can do much the same thing if jetted into the gravel at a few places, and any muck that emerges can then be sucked out with your standard issue hose pipe of the sort (I assume) you use for
water changes. Note that water changes complement filtration. They're not an either/or. Yes, Betta breeders keep their fish in jars without heaters or filters. But those jars are emptied each day, and the fish room is heated to keep the water at upwards of 25 C/77 F all day long. Much too expensive and labour intensive for a hobbyist!>
Thanks for the info about Betta's not liking a strong water flow. Thanks
for all the info!

Help with black mollies     11/11/18
I have 2 black mollies I think one male one female one of them the skinnier one will sit at the bottom take a little bit and then held swim up and swim next to the other one and he let himself float down to the bottom of chain sit there for a little while and the other one is way bigger than the other ones skinny ones having the problem or if it is a problem I don't know but I'm just wondering if it's normal behavior or if it's something I should be concerned about
<Hello Mike. Let me have you do some reading first:
The thing about Mollies is that they're a bit disease prone when kept in plain freshwater. Certainly, hard water is better, and ideally, a reasonable amount of salt, maybe 2-3 teaspoons per US gallon, can make all the difference. On top of that, they're often maintained poorly by retailers and wholesalers, and the quality of farmed Mollies is very variable. So it's a bit hit-and-miss whether you get healthy ones or not.
Understanding their specific needs will help a lot. So yes, I'd be worried about a skinny Molly that wasn't swimming properly, but before medicating, I'd be checking water chemistry first. Simply maintaining them in saline conditions can make all the difference! Cheers, Neale.>

Baby Oscar      11/10/18
I have two 6” Oscars in a 125 gallon I just hard reset to give them each a territory with lava rock and driftwood, caves with plastic flower pot liners inserted into siliconed rock surrounds, etc.
<Indeed; if these are two males, there's a good chance they WILL NOT cohabit in a tank this small once mature. I know 125 gallons sounds massive, but bear in mind that an adult male Oscar will be guarding a territory with a radius of some 6 feet around its spawning pit. For sure they'll sometimes ignore dissimilar tankmates, but a rival male Oscar has almost no chance of being tolerated. Observe both fish carefully, and be aware that fights can easily result in injuries that are very difficult to treat. The classic ones are eye injuries (which lead to pop-eye or blindness) or most distressingly, dislocated jaw bones. Once the jaws are damaged, usually through wrestling, the jaws never heal, and the fish starves to death.>
I have 2 HUGE canister filters and a HOB and will be building a fluidized bed sump when the rest of the parts arrive next week.
They are doing well, growing around 1.5” a month, love people (and haven’t even eaten the sacrificial plants I threw in there for entertainment). They get 25% water changes every other day and are water tested everyday. So, in short, I am a little familiar with the species. Today, while out grabbing some supplies for the house the hubby and I saw an inch and a half Oscar in a tank full of 3-4 inchers. It was in a store we all go to, but preferably NOT for fish because their tanks have a super-high mortality rate.
I knew what would happen if we left him there.
Sadly, I think we all do.
<Yes; but the flip side is plenty of animals much smarter than Oscars are bred and die on an industrial scale for human uses, such as pigs. Once you buy a pitiable fish, yes, you're saving that fish, but the retailer simply sees this as a successful sale and orders another. So while the humane act would seem to be rescuing such fish, in reality what you're doing is encouraging the overproduction of large, difficult to house 'tankbuster' fish. The logical thing to do is ignore the fish, and yes, it'll die, but the retailer won't order it again given money was lost on it. Make sense?>
So, I brought him home, knowing full well the mess of filters, water changes and probably the creepy crawlies he was bringing home. My friend owns a pet shop, so we popped by and threw together a 10 gallon hospital tank. We filled the tank with pre-heated, oxygenated R/O,
<Do be careful about making "good" water chemistry changes all of a sudden. If this beast was in hard water, slapping him in moderately or very soft water could do more harm than good. Best thing with water chemistry changes is to do them across several days.>
slapped in a filter with cycled media, air and lights (kept low to keep him calm). I set the temp to 84F and am giving him the first round of Paraguard. I know its probably stress, but he’s not eating. Is there anything I can try to tempt him with that isn’t crushed pellet, homemade frozen or pieces of prawn? Anything you think I should know about caring for a guy this young?
<Earthworms and small river shrimps are crack cocaine for Oscars, so these'd be my go-to foods. Earthworms are usually safe because they're unlikely to be exposed to water parasites. With shrimps, ideally gut-load them with flake food first. Frozen shrimp is okay, but remember it contains thiaminase, as do mussels, so long term causes serious health problems if it isn't used alongside thiaminase-free foods such as cod fillet, cockles and squid.>
(Oh, and please set your mind at ease about his future, I’ve already got a mailbox with his name on it outside the new 55 gallon tank sitting on my living room floor for this guy. �� )
Thank you so much for this site, when I first decided on Oscars, I read everything I could get my hands on, and I spent a ton of time here. I promise never to ask about the sex of an Oscar, lol.
<Indeed! Virtually unsexable.>
Thanks for all you do,
<And thank you for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Baby Oscar     11/11/18

Thank you, Neale for all of your help.
<Most welcome.>
Yes, the 125 could turn into an issue. I bought the two larger as a shoaling pair. As juveniles, they have proved inseparable. Of course, that can change any day as they get older.
<Precisely. Juveniles are social, even, as you say, to some degree schooling fish. Presumably this is some sort of defence against predators. As they mature, this will change, and pairs of sexually mature fish will claim territories and drive away other Oscars. Very similar to most other monogamous pairing cichlids, e.g., Angels.>
There have been some displays of dominance like lip locking, but it hasn’t happened often.
<Good. Every Oscar is different, and they're intelligent animals with behaviours that can, to some extent, adapt to their environment. So I'm quite sure that sometimes two 'brothers' end up living together more or less amicably. Just don't bank on it!>
There have been mating type behaviors, though, too… (tail slapping, rubbing up against one another and cleaning a corner of the tank floor). They still actively shoal at 6”. So, at this point, young as they are, it’s a tough call. I have a cycled empty 55 on standby (hospital tank) so if things go south, I at least can separate them.
And you’re right about the baby. I shouldn’t have bought him. I don’t want to encourage the poor husbandry. I can’t go to those places.
<Totally understand your feelings and actions. Not saying I wouldn't have done the same -- but logically, as hobbyists, we would do the fish (overall!) a service by not patronising the scummy stores, and not buying the fish that shouldn't have been imported.>
He’s still not eating, but I will keep trying.
<Oscars (like virtually all cichlids) will eat when they're ready, and not a moment before. Assuming he's not in terrible shape, I'd simply focus on giving him quiet, darkness, and good water conditions. If live river shrimp are available, by all means stick a few in the tank since they're stay alive until such time as he eats them, so won't adversely affect water quality. Otherwise, feel secure about waiting a few days, even week or two before offering meals and seeing them eaten.>
Its hard to say, Oscars are wonderful sad sacks and have a tendency to “mope” when things change in their tank.
<Precisely. It's the flip side of their high level of intelligence. Just as with any other smart animal (dog, parrot, pig) that's been abused, they're not going to suddenly eat food just because it's there. It's Guppies and other mindless fish that do that! No, with these big, cuddly cichlids you need to get them on side first. Calm them down, get them feeling secure, and train them to recognise you're not a threat but a friend. Takes time, and repetition. For example, walk past the tank, say "hello", then walk on, without causing a disturbance by turning the lights on or opening the hood. He'll probably stay hiding, but so long as he doesn't dart away in panic, then it's steps in the right direction. Soon enough he'll figure out you're harmless, and since Oscars, like Goldfish and Koi, genuinely enjoy human company, he'll start seeing you as a friend and come to the front to see what's going on. Once that happens, offer a small, tasty meal. Bit of white fish fillet, an earthworm, whatever. Only a tiny bit, because it might not be eaten, and whipping out a net to remove multiple or large chunks of uneaten food will terrify a nervous fish. I find a turkey baster a great tool for removing small bits of food in a discrete manner.>
Or they don’t get the food they want. Or they haven’t seen you in a day. Or if its Tuesday. He was swimming around this morning, but has gone back into hiding during the day. My guess is he is trying to be sure there is nothing in his tank that would eat him. I tested his water, offered him food and left him alone for the most part. I will continue to offer food.
Thanks again!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Tetraodon miurus availability     11/8/18
Hi Neale!
<Hello Nathaniel,>
How are you?
<Just fine, thanks.>
I have been looking for a few months for a Miurus (Congo/potato puffer) to add to my collection.
<Nice fish. Doesn't do much, but not difficult to keep.>
I have a tank that has been ready and cycled for a while now, but the Congo puffer season is nearly over and nobody has had them in!! I'm worried that the season is nearly over and I'll have to wait another year!!
<Quite possibly.>
I've even tried Keith at wildwoods and he's due some but as always with shipments from Congo it's proving tricky.
<I believe the civil war might have something to do with that.>
Do you happen to have come across any shops/individuals who are selling these currently??
<Well, the TropicalFishFinder.co.uk database suggests Wildwoods has them in stock. But that might not have been updated in a while. In which case, I'd have a quick peruse of the PFK readers' favourites from 2017, here:
The top scoring stores there are probably the ones to get in touch with first of all, Wharf Aquatics for example being regarded as the best store for oddballs (and indeed a very highly regarded store within the UK hobby).>
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Tetraodon miurus availability     11/8/18

Thanks Neale, I already tried all top 40 from PFK but no look :-(
Wharf are looking out but also struggling.
If you happen to come across one then please can you let me know :-)
Thanks again
<Your best bet might be social media. The Puffer Forum is a good place to start, but somewhat US-centric. If you use Facebook there might be groups of interest (I'm afraid I don't know any). One thing with social media is you can offer to rehouse an adult fish, which may be welcome if someone wants to change their focus or have to downsize their collection.
Maidenhead Aquatics is one chain of stores that routinely takes adult fish in and rehouses them, but I don't know if they have a central network that'd allow you to get in touch with all the branch managers
simultaneously. Worth asking, though. In any event, if Keith at Wildwoods can't get something -- it's probably not in the wholesale trade at the moment. He's really very, very good at this. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Jack Dempsey     11/7/18
I hope you can help diagnose this problem for me. I left my fish in the care of a friend while I was away for 3 weeks, and upon returning, the poor guy was almost dead :(
He is alone in a 75 gal. tank at 78 F. He has developed a very large white growth on his underbelly, lost most of his blue colouring, and won't eat.
There was a lot of uneaten, rotten food at the bottom of the tank. I immediately changed out half of the water, removed the rotten food, and put some Nox Ich in the water in case it was a fungus.
<Nox Ich has no impact on fungus. It's a Whitespot medication.>
Is there anything else you would suggest? He's an elderly fish of 12 or so, so I hope I don't lose him yet!
<A fair age of a JD, so well done!>
Thank you,
<Tonja, hard to say what the problem would be. But I'd be using Metronidazole alongside an antibiotic (Nitrofuran works well in this situation). Alongside these two, I'd be doing regular water changes,
increasing aeration without adding too much turbulence, and laying off feeding the fish for at least a week. Good luck, Neale.>

I.D. Corydoras catfish       11/4/18
Hi, I hope you could help with an id on a Corydoras I picked up recently.
<Will try.>
The closest I could find was C. copei.
<Corydoras copei is rare in the hobby. Though I agree, it certainly looks similar in terms of markings. With that said, many species in this genus are notoriously difficult to positively identify. Books have been written on the subject (such as Fullers & Evers 'Identifying Corydoradinae Catfish') and several names in the trade are almost certainly used for the wrong fish (most if not all "Corydoras julii" are probably Corydoras trilineatus, for example). By the same token, Corydoras copei is quite similar to a number of other species, including Corydoras punctatus.>
Apart from the black in the dorsal the most distinctive feature is the black line which runs down from the eye but there is also an electric blue line that runs along side it. Also there is a black spot that appears on
the body just before the caudal peduncle, it comes and goes depending on mood.
<This latter feature is characteristic of Corydoras punctatus, but also appears on Corydoras copei, Corydoras acutus, and a few others.>
<I do think your guess is a good one, but would suggest positing somewhere like the PlanetCatfish forum where an expert on the genus might be able to help. In the meantime, rest assured that this species has all the same requirements as the vast majority of Corydoras; to wit, low-end tropical temperature (22-25 C/72-77 F) water that isn't too hard (1-15 degrees dH, pH 6.0-7.5) and not too deep (ideally 30 cm/12 inches at most). Keep in groups, on a soft, ideally sandy substrate, and provide brisk but not turbulent water current. Avoid nippy tankmates, but otherwise mixes well with community fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hello!     11/2/18
I can't believe I didn't attach those pics! I was really sleepy when I emailed lol. Sending now and looking into Microsporidian and see what I can find! Thank you.
<Oh! Another possibility is that these spots are resultant from reproductive, hormonal cause... "Nuptial tubercles"... These too shall pass if so. BobF>

Re: Hello!     11/2/18
Wow! Never heard of that! I will look into that as well thank you! I'm just glad that it will pass if so. I am rather attached to my fish and was really worried.
<I sense/d this; and am glad for it. These organisms are dependent on our care entirely.>
Especially considering that they are genetically altered. This has been my first time owning fish that have been altered in such a way.
<Aye; a bit of "jellyfish DNA" clipped on eh?>
They have been much healthier than I originally thought they would be with no losses as of yet. Quite hardy and comical little guys. Thank you very much for the insight!
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Hello! /Neale     11/2/18
First I would like to say that this website has been a complete obsession almost for any little thing that I ever seem to have questions about. I haven't had to actually write more than once before now. You all are lifesavers! Literally. With this particular situation though I am completely stumped. I have gone through everything I can on here and have not found a match yet that I can see. I will start with a bit of history, not too much though and water parameters. This is a 30gal long, planted tank. Everything from stem plants to floating hornwort. Home to a shoal of 6 albino Cory's ranging from 1-3 1/2 years of age. A school of 6 Glofish (skirt) tetras also ranging the same age. A small school of 6 Glolight tetras. A pair of juvenile peacock gudgeons and a male Betta that is a little over 2 years old. Water parameters are in ppm... 0 amm, 0 nitrite, less than 10 nitrate, GH around 80ppm, KH around 50-60ppm and PH ranges between 7-7.2. I do use peat moss and air stones in my 20gal water tank that I keep cycled and full for water changes as my water here comes out a hard 280-300 GH, about 120-150 KH and a PH of 8.4-8.6. I top off with a mixture of distilled and spring water. My question is about one of my older tetras. She has developed 2 odd pimple-like spots on her but they have come up from under her scales and pushed them out. Its hard to get a good pic of as her scales reflect back the light and the 2 "whitehead" looking bumps are under. She is about 3 1/2years old and roughly the size of a 50¢ piece. She acts completely normal and is eating normally and such. I first noticed these 2 bumps about a week ago and they don't seem to have gotten bigger or gone down any. I thought maybe some kind of parasite but nothing I have read about sounds like this. The only new fish to the tank within the past year are the gudgeons and they have been added in the past month. They have settled in nicely and seem healthy. Idk if they could have brought something with them or if its unrelated. I am attaching the best pic I could get but getting her holding still enough for any length of time to take a pic is not an easy task. Any thoughts or help/advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks, Allie.
<<Bob's covered the basics, but will add an observation re: Hemigrammus rodwayi, the Gold Tetra. This species is actually silver in colour, but the ones in the trade are infected with a non-lethal trematode parasite. I believe this happens naturally, in the wild, rather than a manmade thing. Anyway, the parasite causes the skin to secrete extra guanine, and that forms metallic gold patches, hence the common name of the fish. Praziquantel and other antihelminthic medications have been used successfully against trematodes, though in the case of the Gold Tetra the fish itself appears to be unharmed so such treatment is rarely, if ever, done by home aquarists. Still, it's an option. Of course first of all I'd be treating as per Whitespot and Velvet, just in case either of those (or some similar ciliate parasite) are to blame. The old salt/heat method can work very well, and has minimal toxicity if done correctly. Otherwise, if the tankmates aren't sensitive to standard anti-Whitespot medications, you could try a couple runs of those (Velvet in particular seems to need two courses to be thoroughly dispensed with). Good luck, Neale.>>
Re: Hello!     11/2/18

OK, I don't have any salinity in the tank at all as the Cory's don't seem to like it.
<Soft water fish, including Corydoras, are just fine at the 2g/litre used to treat Whitespot. Just as a reminder, other medications often include copper sulphate and formalin, which are FAR more toxic than salt, particularly to catfish and loaches. Hence the old salt/heat method remains a very useful approach for handling Whitespot and Velvet in situations where other medications aren't an option. Do also note than 2g/litre IS NOT brackish water, and furthermore, the salt/heat method operates over a week or two. A lot of people get confused by the salt dosage, and assume it'll turn the tank brackish. It really won't.>
I do have both the API Aquarium Salt ( just incase ) and Instant Ocean ( I have a low end brackish set up on another tank ).
<The API tonic salt is the one you want. While the Instant Ocean salt would work, it'd also raise pH and hardness. Plain non-iodised cooking salt, or some aquarium specific alternative, only affects salinity, and has no impact at all on pH and hardness.>
I can treat with if necessary. The temp stays between 76-78°.
<Traditionally the temperature is knocked up a few degrees to speed up the life cycle of the Whitespot or Velvet parasite. Once mature, the motile stages burst out of the fish, allowing them to swim about looking for a new host, but crucially, this is THE ONLY stage at which they can be killed. They have little tolerance for salt, much less than fish, so the salt added to the water kills them. Anyway, 28-30 C/82-86 F is considered optimal for the heat/salt technique. Since warm water has less oxygen than cold, you need to up the aeration during the process, or the fish may become stressed.>
I have looked into the velvet and it doesn't seem like that but it could be I reckon and I'm pretty sure its not the Whitespot/ick.
<Velvet tends to be like powdered sugar, often resulting in a golden sheen. Attacks the gills first, so affected fish often gasp, breathe heavily, or look nervous and distressed. Velvet usually progresses extremely rapidly. Whitespot more like table salt, with visible pimples. Often develops more slowly.>
I have had a bit of experience with that over the years but I will definitely be watching close and will treat the tank if other fish start developing whatever this is. I haven't moved her to the hospital tank yet as I'm not sure if that would help or hinder the situation.
I think she would be really stressed by herself but I will do it if its necessary. I did notice today that she has 2 identical spots on the other side in the exact same places. Just not as noticeable. No other spots anywhere else and they are right in a horizontal line almost like its part of her spine or something. I thought the spine was higher up though. I don't have much in the way of meds on hand aside from Melafix.
<Melafix largely useless.>
The ones I had expired unused months ago and I just haven't replaced them yet but I will. I really appreciate you guys taking the time to respond! If you think of anything else please let me know. Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>


Freshwater Aquarium  Articles & FAQs

  • Set-Up: Gear/Components:, Set-Up, Tanks, Stands, Covers:, Water, Filtration of All Sorts, Sumps, Refugiums:, Circulation, Pumps, Powerheads, Aeration, Electricity, Heating/Chilling,  Light/Lighting:; Types of Systems:, Substrates, Aquascaping:
  • Livestock 1: Stocking/Selection, Biotopes, Quarantine, Acclimation. Fishes: Stingrays, Inadvanced Bony Fishes, Eels, Tetras & Their Relatives, Killifishes, Livebearers, Catfishes, Goldfish, Barbs, Danios, Rasboras, Minnow Sharks, Loaches, Misc. Fish Groups

    New Print and eBook on Amazon

    Goldfish Success
    What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term

    by Robert (Bob) Fenner

    Livestock 2: Gouramis, Bettas, Cichlids, Fresh to Brackish Water Fishes, Invertebrates (Hydra, Worms, Snails, Insects, Crustaceans...),

    New Print and eBook on Amazon

    Betta Success
    Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

    by Robert (Bob) Fenner

  • Herps: Amphibians, Turtles,
  • Maintenance/Operation: General Maintenance, Algae, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health,
  • Freshwater Aquarium Science:  Behavior, Topics, Reference and Aquatics Writing Business, Reviews, 

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