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We ask that, before submitting a query, you refer to Neale Monk's: Before You Write; A Checklist of Common Problems with Freshwater Aquaria, Bettas, Goldfish, and Freshwater Turtles (Terrapins), Tips on Asking Questions, Ask the WWM Crew a Question, FAQs on FAQs. EDFP, TBPFWFAQs, Last Few Days Accrued FAQs, Subscribe to the Daily Pics

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 6/17/2018
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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New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Question about the Fire Eel      6/17/18
I have a young friend who had to re-home his Pacu because the fish was overwhelming his 75 gallon tank (it was the only fish in the tank, but had grown to about 18 inches over several years and kept launching itself against the tank lid).
<Indeed. Adult Pacu are massive, and not to be trifled with. They can become very aggressive (towards other fish) when confined, and probably have no business at all in the aquarium hobby. Strictly a species for public aquaria.>
He was looking for another fish for the tank and decided to buy a Fire Eel (he bought a juvenile, currently about 4 inches).
<A lovely fish. A bit delicate, but certainly possible for the experienced fishkeeper.>
I understand this species also gets very large, but my friend assures me he did his research and that this species is not very active, so even full grown his 75 gallon tank will work just fine (he has a canister filter - I'm not sure what size tank its rated for, but it handled the Pacu just fine).
<Your friend is a bit optimistic, I fear. Fire Eels reach something approaching a metre (3 feet) in length under aquarium conditions, possibly even bigger in the wild. Assuming you're speaking of US gallons, then 100 gallons would be absolutely minimum. For sure the 75-gallon system would do for 2-3 years, but if your friend was keeping the Fire Eel right, it's going to eat A LOT of food and grow VERY QUICKLY. A 'tiddler' a few inches long will double in size after the first year, and while growth rate may slow down somewhat by the time the fish is, say, about 12 inches in length, after then it'll still be putting on 3-4 inches a year. Bear in mind that these fish are deep bodied, so length doesn't by itself take into account the sheer bulk of the adult fish.>
I've known this young man since he was 12, watched him grow up, wrote to him during his military service in Afghanistan, and I firmly believe he will take the best possible care of the Fire Eel.
<I'm sure; he sounds a great guy -- certainly has good taste in fish!>
He understands the nitrogen cycle and what is necessary to properly maintain it, and I'm equally sure he will do an excellent job in that regard. But I'm not sure a 75 gallon tank will be big enough when this animal is full grown.
<The problem is that Fire Eels, like all Spiny Eels, are very prone to bacterial infections, and once sick, are almost impossible to medicate.
Prevention is 100% the name of the game when it comes to Spiny Eel healthcare. Soft substrates (to avoid scratches); a little salt in the water (1-2 gram/litre) does seem to help but probably isn't essential; a
varied and safe diet (so no feeder fish, EVER, and a range of invertebrates and fish meats that lack thiaminase); and above all excellent water quality (no ammonia and nitrite; nitrate as low as practical). Water chemistry isn't a big issue, luckily, so a big tank and ample water changes should help keep water quality good. One other thing: make sure the Fire Eel can't escape. If it can, it will.>
He knows I ask you a lot of questions and how much help you've been to me, but he doesn't have a home computer, so I'm asking for him. Is a 75 gallon tank sufficient for a full grown Fire Eel as the solitary fish in the tank?
<As above; will do for the first few years, but once the fish is above, say, 18 inches, I think something around the 100 gallon mark is surely necessary.>
Renee
<Hope this helps, and if your fine fishkeeping friend wants to discuss further, feel free to have him write in. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question about the Fire Eel      6/17/18

Thank you!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Betta has Bubble (Bob, please do review/expand as needed)<<Will do>>    6/16/18
Hello!
<Hello Shannon,>
I am writing about my Crown tail Betta "Mr. Spock" He has a reoccurring bubble that keeps appearing on his left side. He doesn't seem affected by it. It just appears. Then it pops. Then it usually takes a month or so for it to reappear. However this last time the bubble popped 3 days ago and now its already starting back up.
<Curious. Given that the abdomen is obviously stretched, and the skin and scales consequently distorted, I think we can rule out gas embolism. If you recall, gas embolism tends to occur in tanks with very high aeration levels, resulting in supersaturation of the water with oxygen. The gas eventually bubbles out of solution, potentially inside the fish, where it forms more or less transparent bubbles just below the skin. Such bubbles are very unlikely to form in a tank with minimal aeration and/or filtration, as is usually the case with Bettas. So this means that some type of bacterial disease is much more probable, causing the accumulation of fluids inside the tissues.>
I live in phoenix Arizona so I have very hard water.
<Not ideal for Bettas; do aim for soft to medium hardness water, 2-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5 is about right. Do try mixing the tap water with a certain amount of RO or rainwater; even replacing 25% of each bucket of water with RO/rainwater will make a huge difference.>
Mr. Spock lives in a 1 gallon (I tried having him in a 5 gallon and he almost died from stress)
<Honestly think your interpretation of events here makes no scientific sense at all. One gallon of water is much too small for 'easy' Betta maintenance. Do remember that breeders keeping them in jam jars are changing the water completely every day, and in the wild Bettas are living in sluggish streams, ponds, paddy fields, and so on. Contrary to myth, they aren't living hoof-prints of rainwater! Fish aren't afraid of being 'out of their depth' and even a 50 gallon tank is minuscule compared to what a wild Betta would be living in. So if your Betta looked stressed, the problem wasn't really the volume of water, but the other aspects of the environment. Bettas need to be able to access the surface easily, and strong water currents will prevent that, so ensure filtration is gentle.
Air-powered filters are the ideal. They also appreciate shelter and cover, floating vegetation being the ideal, because they don't really want to make use of caves or plants at the bottom of the tank.>
with a heater (80 degrees) and a filter.
<Do review water quality. As always with fish, nine times out of ten problems come down to water quality and chemistry problems, particularly the former. 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite are essential, even for Bettas, again, despite the myth that they live in fetid swaps and can therefore survive without filters.>
He has black aquarium sand, a live plant, and a log. I do half tank water changes every other day.
<Understood.>
Since this last bubble that popped I have given him an Epsom salt bath each day.
<Epsom salt will help with swelling, but I do think the underlying cause needs to be address. Environment the most likely cause; bacteria the most likely mechanism.>
Thank you so much for you valuable time!
Shannon
<Glad to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed!      6/13/18
I am getting so frustrated with my 36 gallon planted aquarium that I used Activ Flora Red in about 3 months ago. The plants are doing great in this, however all the fish I add die within days.
<Which is alarming, for sure.>
I started adding some angel fish and the water parameters are good - nitrates less than 20ppm, nitrites - not detectable, ammonia - not detectable, ph - 7.2, temp is 80, kh & gh 4 -
<This all sounds reasonable.>
the angelfish die within days as if poisoned, I added 4 initially and one by one they died within 1 week, added 4 more from a different supplier and they all died as well. They were healthy and eating when I placed them in the tank and within 72 hours they start acting weird - both batches of them.
<Which strongly suggests an environmental issue rather than a pathogen.>
Within 72 hours of acclimating them into the tank, they will be hanging at the bottom or the top, not eating, then they start swimming strange as if they are drunk, then they pass, I considered an infection or parasites possibly? Or the only other thing I can think of is the substrate which is the Activ Flora red, as I was reading the bag last night it seems high in metals - aluminum, iron etc. I contacted the manufacturer today and they could offer no advice and said they have never heard feedback on the product that fish were dying. There are 3 airstones pumping out nicely, 2 HOB's one is seachem Tidal with poly filter and chemi green along with matrix media from seachem, I also added Algone for good measure. The other is scaper's flow hang on canister with sponges and matrix media. I'm at a loss. I use RO water and add equilibrium by seachem and ph neutral along with fresh trace. Any advice is welcomed. I used to keep angels 20+ years ago and never had issues, I had a spawning pair and I was not even vigilant with water changes like I am now. The RO system is an Aquasana -
https://www.aquasana.com/drinking-water-filter-systems/reverse-osmosis-claryum.
<Looks neat, but surprised that removing fluorine is seen as a plus!>
I thought maybe the remineralizer on the system is causing it as well. I really don't know, I am at a loss. Any advice is welcomed.
<I am not a fan of using domestic water softeners for fish tanks. The types of minerals used to soften the water can result in 'unnatural' ratios of ions, such as more sodium ions than would normally be present. So while plain RO water, with Discus Buffer added, would be pretty good for Angels, this unit of yours seems to be concocting something designed to be suitable for drinking, and that's less attractive as an idea.>
Sincerely,
Lisa
<I'd start by skipping the domestic water softener. By all means use RO if you want, and then add Discus Buffer, or more easily (for farmed Angels at least) a 50/50 mix of hard tap water and RO water should produce something more than acceptable, i.e., no more than medium hardness, and around pH 7-7.5. I'd also try setting up a clean quarantine tank. Why? Because I'd want to get the Angels settled and feeding in a system where I can control all the variables. So no soil! Just plain glass (perhaps some washed gravel if you must) and a simple filter, suitable heating of course, but no need for lights. A 20-gallon tank would be fine for a few juvenile Angels. While the aquarium soil should be safe, you might have a contaminated batch. If the Angels thrive in the quarantine tank, then there's perhaps a strong case for stripping down the display tank, then rebuilding with plain gravel and plants. Perhaps use another brand of aquarium soil. Are there other species of fishing thriving in the display tank? If there are tetras and catfish already, and they're doing fine, and it's just the Angels that fail, then the easiest move is to simply avoid Angels. Try something else of similar size and behaviour, perhaps one of the Gourami species. But if the tank has no fish in it, and you really want an Angelfish community, then testing out Angels with a quarantine tank would at least help you rule out the aquarium soil as the problem. Do think about water movement and oxygenation though -- plants consume oxygen 24 hours a day, but during the nighttime they're not producing it through photosynthesis, and in densely planted tanks with sluggish water movement it is possible for oxygen levels to become depleted. Air-breathing fish (like Gouramis and Corydoras) will get by, but those fish unable to breathe air, notably cichlids, will suffer. You might also consider some other, perhaps airborne, pollutant. Paint fumes, insecticides and cleaning products can all cause major problems. Sometimes solid materials fall into aquaria, such as bits of metal, and these can also prove toxic, copper in particular. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed!    6/14/14

Thank you so much Neal!!!
<Most welcome.>
The tank is in a good area with a lid on most of it and I am very careful with cleaning products, fumes etc.
<Cool.>
I have been a fish keeper since I was about 7 years old when my older brother purchased piranhas at the LFS and I insisted I have one in a tank in my bedroom - this was back in the 70's in NJ.
<Understood.>
I have never seen anything like this - my fish always live for years, in fact I have torn down my salt tank at least 5 times over the past 15 years due to moves and never lost a one in any of the moves.
<Sounds like you're better at this than me!>
I lost my spawning clown pair over a year ago ( I had those fish for close to 10 years)to a power outage from hurricane Matthew (I am now prepared with a generator for the next outage) I did put one bushy nose pleco in the aquarium prior to the angels and I assume he died and he was never seen again within 30 days. The tank was met specifically for angels so this is a flipping mystery!
<I'll say. But as a rule of thumb, if one fish dies, then another a few days or weeks later, then another, and so on -- then a disease is definitely possible. But if a whole bunch of fish die within 24 hours, then
I'd tend to go with an environmental issue. The "trick" is determining what's going on.>
I use the RO water because I did not want algae issues - and so far so good with the algae - almost zero and the plants are thriving..sadly no fish can survive this tank...
<Where's the tank positioned? In terms of direct sunlight, I mean. And are you adding CO2, which if used incorrectly, can easily kill fish. Two ways: Firstly, as dissolved CO2 goes up, pH goes down, and that can stress/kill fish. Also, as CO2 is absorbed into the water, O2 is displaced, which again can kill fish. Air-breathing fish can survive, and bear in mind that 'in a pinch' physostomous fish like characins and barbs can breathe air, whereas physoclistous fish like cichlids simply cannot. Oh, and something from left field. What *sort* of plants are you growing? There's a thing called biogenic decalcification that can happen with some species (such as Vallisneria) if they don't have sufficient CO2 dissolved in the water. They break down carbonate and/or bicarbonate salts in the water, getting the CO2 out of those salts. It's a neat trick that means they do really well in hard water. But if the water doesn't have enough buffering capacity, this removal of carbonate and/or bicarbonate will cause the pH to drop during
photosynthesis, sometimes very rapidly. I've seen aquaria "crash" this way, all the fish gasping at the surface in obvious distress. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish dying - any advice is welcomed!    6/16/18

Thanks Neale - as far as plants, I did consider they may be a problem. I did not realize that about some plants having that ability to affect the water chemistry and I have reached out to many different people about this and you are the first one to mention this.
<Oh! It is not a well-known fact perhaps, but reasonably widely seen with hard water specialist aquatic plants. Egeria and Elodea are the classic species, precipitating a chalky deposit on their leaves (carbonate salts of some sort) as they absorb bicarbonate ions, take the CO2, and get rid of what they don't need. Vallisneria are not quite so effective, but I have seen them crash a tank once, in the sense the pH changes so much and so rapidly fish were visibly distressed. Not that they're not good plants --
they're great -- but I'd be careful about using them in soft water tanks (with minimal buffering) with high lighting levels. Basically, any plant known to be a hard water specialist probably does this sort of
decalcification, whereas soft water plants probably don't.>
There are Val.s in the tank and I do not use CO2,
<So guess where the Vallisneria are getting the CO2 they need, if lighting is so great they consume the dissolved CO2? Yep, from any bicarbonate salts in the water. Now, this may or may not be an issue, but I'd perhaps monitor pH across the day, comparing, say, before the lights went on to the pH level after 6-8 hours of photosynthesis. If the pH has risen a lot, then the Vallisneria may be part of the problem.>
I was doing a "low tech" tank....I just put a seachem ph monitor on the tank which seems to work well so I am going to start writing the levels down as I check it throughout the day - I have been through vials of test strips testing the water searching for answers. So Val.s should be avoided for me
<Only under intense light AND low buffering capacity. They're otherwise fine.>
- any other plants to avoid?
<See above.>
Sincerely, Lisa
<Hope this helps.>

Help identifying my fish      6/13/18
Hi,
Could you please help me identify this fish? I’m thinking cichlid but what kind?
Any help is much appreciated!!
Veronika
<Hello Veronika. I thought it had a vaguely Neotropical, even Geophagine aspect to it, but when I showed your photo to cichlid expert Mary Bailey, she wasn't convinced! I think it's too young and generic-looking to be easily identifiable. Many cichlids have this sort of shape and colouration when small, and there's a lot of convergence, with cichlids from one part of the world looking a lot like cichlids from someplace else. On top of that, there are so many hybrids in the trade, some fish are truly un-identifiable -- at least, not without a DNA analysis. So yes, it's a cichlid, but beyond that, who knows? Sorry can't be more useful than that. Cheers, Neale.>

Lice - Solve      6/13/18
I used Lice – Solve last night on my happy active fish and this morning 16 of my fish are dead leaving only 5 left alive. I am heartbroken that despite using the correct amount and following instructions to the letter that I have inadvertently killed my beautiful fish with this product.
Jay
<Hello Jay. Lice-Solve is a product for killing off Argulus, Anchor Worms, and other (external) crustacean parasites. It's basically an insecticide, and should have low toxicity to vertebrates such as fish. Consequently the chemical inside Lice-Solve, Emamectin, has been used on fish farms where the food produced ends up on our dinner plates. With that said, insecticides can cause problems for fish if used at the wrong dosage (so double-check that) and can also cause problems to 'sensitive' fish species. If we're talking about pond fish, that's going to mean things like Orfe and Sturgeons, and possibly other species as well. Goldfish and Koi should be fine though. One problem with using any sort of poison is that if other things in the pond die as well, such as insects in the pond, and there's enough 'dying' going on to reduce water quality, then the fish may suffer as oxygen levels drop. It's often recommended that aeration be increased when medicating, which in a pond situation might include using a fountain or air bubbler. In a pond without filtration or aeration, it's entirely possible that even irritation to the gill membranes caused by the medication can be sufficient to stress, or even kill, your fish. I'd certainly reach out to the manufacturers to see if they can offer some insight, but I agree with you that this is a very unfortunate outcome. Hope this helps, Neale.>

African butterfly fish; fdg., gen.       6/12/18
I have a young African butterfly fish 1 inch long
<Tiny! Might be tricky to feed. These fish need quite a lot of food. Wingless fruit flies ideal; sometimes they take flake, but don't bank on it.>
seems to be ok mostly active when feeding or someone is at the tank.
<Cool.>
At the fish store I was told by 2 of the employees that an African butterfly fish would be ok in 70L so I got it. I feel though the tank maybe in the future will get to small so is there any way of improving the fish’s life in the tank or should 70L be ok?
<You're right. These fish can grow quite big, 10 cm/4 inches in length under aquarium conditions. While the water depth is immaterial, the tank needs plenty of surface area. I'd be thinking about a tank with, say, 3 square feet of space at the top. A traditional 30-gallon breeder tank would be about right (i.e., 36" x 18" x 12") but a standard 29-gallon tank (30" x 12" x 18") would be fine too. Nothing very much smaller makes sense in the long term, particularly if you're keeping them alongside other types of fish.>
Thank you
From Josh
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: African butterfly fish      6/13/18

Thank you
Luckily I have managed to get mine on flake, dry blood worms and small Cichlid pellets.
<Nice!>
When u mean wingless fruit flies is that catching them wild or bought from pet stores.
<Either. But sure, you can buy wingless fruit flies and (sparingly) very small crickets from pet stores that cater to owners of reptiles and frogs.
On the other hand, if you happen to have a lot of house flies or fruit flies in your home, there's probably no harm in catching these and feeding them to your African Butterflyfish now and again. House Flies are pretty mucky beasts for sure, but the chances of them carrying something likely to infect a tropical fish has to be close to zero. Fruit flies should be entirely safe, since they're not eating carrion but mostly nectar, decaying fruit, and other plant foods.>
Thank you
From Josh
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Turtle Compatibility. RES, Snappers      6/10/18
Hello Staff!
<Hiya – Darrel here>
I have a red eared slider approximately 10 years old. We acquired (him) CRUSH about 8 years ago crossing over a tennis court at a high school going away from the pond in 110 degree weather
<Thanks for saving him. He probably would have been road kill>
So, we happened to be driving down a highway and saw a truck advertising turtles so we stopped. He had yellow bellies, soft shell, mud and snappers! One snapper left.
<Uh-oh>
<Folks –as a general rule for a happy and healthy life, don’ buy turtles from a guy in a truck on the side of the road or sushi from a gas station/Mini-mart.>
She picked him up and he stretched out his neck and she rubbed his head and then under his neck he loved it! Looked like a little dinosaur. So, he came home with us! We set him up in a 30 gallon tank with basking ramp and heat lamps. I read where the young need to bask the adults not so much they prefer the muddy murky waters hiding waiting for their prey to swim past. Well, SNAPPER (ironically) did great with her holding him daily and of course he grew rather quickly from the 2" little swimmer to a 4" handful. He would still let her reach in the tank and pick him up and she would sit on the couch watching shows rubbing his head/neck. THEN, she decided to give him a small goldfish that Crush had in his pond. That did it! The hunting instinct was now awakened and from that point on no one could pick up Snapper without being snapped at. Snapper is now 11' long and NOT at all willing to let a hand go inside his tank, not even for cleaning! Daughter has since moved on and left Snapper to be taken care of by "grandma" (me)! I have him in a 75 gallon tank with no more heater or basking lights. I have a great set up for him with bricks and paver creating at cave for him to hide in. Gravel on the bottom (actually small river rocks from Lowe's not aquarium gravel). I have two regular fish filters one at each of the 4' ends and two long air tubs hidden under the bricks so he can't move or chew on them. He loves it. I love it too as I keep the tank water (well the filters do) very clean I do let the algae build up sometimes just enough that I have to squint a little to find him then I'll drop in my sump pump and exchange that water for fresh. That happens only like twice a year. I mainly feed him strawberry tops, romaine lettuce hearts, floating pellets, dehydrated crickets, meal worms and occasionally goldfish.
<To be honest, I never feed my turtles live food. Both the Slider and the Snapping Turtle can grow from hatchlings to full-sized adults and even breed – with a diet of high quality Koi pellets and an occasional (once a month) Earth worm. Some of the things you’re feeding Snapper are the nutritional equivalent of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.>
He is NOT an alligator I have 90% confirmed this. He is not a common though either, I forget what species I found with a science teacher that came to see him.
<For the pictures you have there, you have a Chelydra serpentine .. the common snapping turtle>
I on occasion will carefully catch Snapper (although not for about three months as he bit through the largest net I have, I'm afraid to catch him with my hands, I know what pain feels like!)
<But you don’t know what losing a finger feels like. The proper place and method for picking up a common snapper is to grab the tail, right at the base and lift him up from there, allowing him to hang downwards. The tail is VERY strong and this causes him no discomfort at all – except that we can assume he doesn’t care for being hung face down from his tail any more than we would.>
<He can bite and latch on to anything touching anywhere on the front half of his shell!>
Anyhow, now that you have a detailed history of the two shelled kids I have.
<Yes – some details are edited for space>
My dream is to dig a 10'x8'x3' pond with caves and surround it with tropical plants and a small fence to keep BOTH turtles inside away from our Jack Russell dog, Marley and our 2 years old grand-daughter, Byron. I would think and hope that a 10'x8' would be large enough pond and the total surface area would be a triangle (I'm angling this INSIDE our fencing from the back fence to the right hand side) the triangle to the back will keep the above ground filter and possible waterfall to help with circulation. I have a 100 gallon tank that is currently the housing for feeder goldfish. I have some that Crush never caught and when Irma came through we scoped all those fish from his pond and put into this tank. I found some in that as large as my hand!!! They look like baby koi! But those will eventually go into this dream pond too. I know Crush will never catch them but Snapper may. LOL
<Also know that Snapper will have no mental or ethical reservation of catching and eating Crush, either.>
My question is do you think with a pond of that size and a yard for Crush to cruise do you think the turtles could cohabitate?
<no>
I don't care that they are "friends" but as long as they don't attack or hurt one another. I don't think Crush could do so well against Snapper but then the day that Irma hit (she got us late at night) us my husband was out and on his way home saw a small turtle crossing the road and was far from a pond he stopped and brought it home. It was a small snapper about 3". I kept him inside for about two weeks but I didn't have a filter for that tank and I didn't want to spend the money for one so I put him then in the kiddie pool we had Crush in (didn't trust him to be roaming yet so he was kept inside a kiddie pool with bricks in the middle for basking. Well, that lasted for about a month then one day I couldn't find IRMA (we named him/her) I carefully moved the bricks so I didn't get bit and found her facing the back of a brick but she looked strange. When I tapped her she floated up and I picked her up to see that she had no back legs and no belly. Just shell and head!!!! My only answer was Crush had trapped her/him and eaten his body and legs!!!! Cannibal-turtle!
<Almost all water turtles are opportunistic omnivores. I only house turtles of similar size AND temperament together. For example, soft shells or snappers are ONLY housed with their own kind and ONLY of similar size. Sliders and Cooters of course can intermix but still I never house smaller ones with larger ones>
So, I'm not sure about housing them together I don't want to lose either but I feel Snapper is getting too big for his tank. He can twist and turn very easily right now even with his long tail but I just think he would be much happier (not that he knows different either) in a larger area. Selfishly though part of me knows I then losing the enjoyment of actually having a snapper because I will never seen him again. Unless I build a glass front above tank for them, which I am also considering. Much like a decorative koi pond where I can have the tank near the front and use glass/acrylic with dirt etc in the back for Crush to cruise around. Then we could enjoy the fish and Snapper if he comes out of any caves.
I've attached some photos hope they aren't too large. You can figure out what is what I'm sure.
Thanks! For your opinions, suggestions and advice!!!
Connie in Florida
<Connie – when raising a snapping turtle you should know from day one that there will be a day when you will be saying goodbye. Worse, you can’t (or shouldn’t) release him into the wild for a myriad of reasons I won’t go into here. There are several people in Arkansas and Missouri than have huge private ponds that will accept snapping turtles, but in Florida I imagine you could also find a private collector that has the room and the patience and discipline to keep him.>
<Just like Alligators, they don’t make good pets.>


Painted turtle spending time on dry land      6/10/18
We have an outdoor turtle sanctuary with painted water turtles and ornate box turtles. In this area we have a good sized pond with goldfish and aquatic plants along with basking rocks and marginal areas. The other part of the sanctuary is dry land with natural and safe turtle plants. There are digging areas as well as a couple of hibernation dens. The box turtles seem to be happy and thriving as well as one of our paints.
<Sounds perfect>
We have a male painted turtle that has been in this environment for well over a year and he's great. He seems happy and even begs for treats and rides on the goldfish tails. About 2 weeks ago we rescued a female painted turtle. The first few days seemed okay with minimal issues between the two. Now the male picks on her often, chasing her and nipping at her hind legs and face.
<He’s a man in love>
Now she's been spending more time on the dry side. We often find her hanging out with the box turtles. She has now resorted to taking over one of the hang out areas from the box turtles. I suspect she's even spent the night out of the water as I've found her in this same hang out spot in the morning (5 am morning).
<She can go weeks and even months out of water>

She seems healthy; I'm wondering if the two just aren't going to get along, maybe the male is a bully or wanting to mate? Maybe she was previously impregnated and looking to nest? Maybe she's stressed?
<Stressed would be my guess>
Any suggestions on how to make sure she stays healthy and to rectify the situation between the two paints?
<Yep. Take Milford (assuming the male painted is named Milford) out of the pond area and put him in another container … maybe just put him in the house in the bathtub for a period of two weeks. During that time, put Griselda (assuming her name is Griselda) back into the pond ONCE every day when you find her resting on land. In other words don’t BUG her or CONFINE her to water… if she’s on land doing something leave her alone. The idea is to get her to rediscover the water without Milford bothering her. If by the end of two weeks she’s taken to the pond like the other water turtles then she was stressed and needed a break from Milford. After she is acclimated and happy you can re-introduce Milford and see if they reach an understanding. If Griselda shows an affinity for being a land turtle, then she’s just odd and as long as she’s active alert and eating … let it go>
Keep Smiling, Regina

Soft Spot on Eden's Head and Shell      6/10/18
Dear Crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
Last year, I was given Eden, a painted turtle, that someone could keep anymore; she had a leech on the back of her head and one on the back of her shell, after cleaning and putting her in clean water the leeches came off and then raw spots healed over slightly. Now, a year after that I was out cleaning to pond and turtles and I noticed the soft spots were still "Soft Spots" they look fine; she is acting normal not sickly - Should I be concerned ?
<In one word: no>
<In this case, Mary think AABE -- is Eden Active, Alert, Basking and Eating? If she passes those four tests then don't worry. Just examine her periodically and make sure nothing gets worse.>
Mary in MD

Spiny Eel Identification and Possible Problem    6/7/18
A few weeks back, I bought some Spiny Eels from my aquarium supply store whose supplier identified them as Macrognathus pancalus. They now live in my 55 gallon tank and are the only fish in the tank (I will not be adding any more fish). As they've gotten a bit bigger, I've noticed some differences in their coloring and markings so I've been trying to get a picture of them to send you in the hopes you could help me identify the different subspecies. I finally accomplished that this morning. The pictures aren't that great, but they're the best my camera can do, and when I looked at the picture of the lighter colored eel with the yellow tinge in its tail I noticed what looks like redness around his/her gills.
<These photos are too blurry. One of them, with the oblique dark bands, might be Macrognathus circumcinctus. The other one is much too vague to see anything at all. But I would direct your attention to two additional species, Macrognathus pancalus and Macrognathus siamensis. Macrognathus pancalus has a speckled upper half of its body, plain lower half, and in between a distinctive row of 'dashes'. Macrognathus siamensis is the Peacock Eel, so-named for the series of large eyespots on the dorsal fin
near the tail.>
As soon as I got the picture, the eel dashed off to hide, so I can't get a better look at him/her. The reason I'm concerned is because last Saturday I was watching my neighbor's kids for a while so she could run to the store and while I was outside trying to stop the 4 year old from setting my horses free, the 7 year old dumped an entire almost new 1.2 ounce package of flake food into the eel tank (eels don't like flake food).
<Yikes!>
It took some work, but I've got most of it cleaned up. I've been testing and the biological filter is handling it well as no ammonia or nitrite has shown up, but the nitrate has climbed up around 30 ppm (very dark orange, but no red), so I've still got some work to do. As a precaution, I put the appropriate amount of Prime in, so even the higher-than-normal nitrate shouldn't be bothering them and all the other eels look and act normal. Is this something to be concerned about and can you shed any light on the differences between these two subspecies?
Renee
<Spiny Eels aren't especially sensitive, and a series of water changes should handle the water quality damage here. Assuming you've netted out and/or siphoned out most of the flake food, I'd still change 50% today, and perhaps another similar amount tomorrow. You want to keep nitrate below 40 mg/l with most tropical fish, so that's your danger zone. The addition of a little salt may be helpful with Macrognathus species, particularly if they're stressed or off-colour, but isn't essential by any means. Salt
does, however, reduces the toxicity of nitrate a bit, which makes it helpful at times. I'd not go beyond 2-3 gram/litre, though some species can handle considerably more. I will direct you to some useful reading, here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/v4i3/Spiny_Eels/Spiny%20Eels.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Spiny Eel Identification and Possible Problem    6/7/18
Thank you.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

A little help please: Sick Oscar      6/5/18
I think my Oscar is sick.
<Oh dear!>
I haven't seen him eat in weeks.

<Not a good sign.>
Originally ( a few weeks ago ) he was laying on the bottom with shallow breathing and raggedy fins... Over the past few weeks I have done more frequent water changes and have also treated for ich, protozoan parasites, and bacteria infection. (One treatment at a time).
<What did you suspect was the issue? And what medications were used?>
I used Melafix as well.
<Unreliable at best, and harmful at worst.>
His outward appearance has improved.
<That's good.>
However he is still not himself. He doesn't eat and floats vertically upright or face down most of the time which is unusual for him. He can swim if he wants to but he seems to like to just relax vertically these days?
I'm not sure if he's really sick or if I'm just not used to this new behavior... Please help!
<There's a bunch of things here. The first is the inevitable "have you given him feeder fish to eat" question. If the answer is "yes", then all bets are off. Feeder fish individually pose a serious risk by introducing parasites and pathogens, and used frequently cause serious problems through excess fat and thiaminase, both found in cyprinids (such as goldfish and minnows). The second question is whether your Oscar receives fibre-rich foods, such as peas, in its diet. Oscars are prone to constipation, and while they're not wild about veggies, they will eat them if sufficiently motivated (i.e., starved) and would do so naturally in the wild. Anyway, my default assumption here would be something along the lines of Hexamita if you weren't using feeder fish, and could rule out constipation because you were offering a balanced diet including a source of fibre. Hexamita is treated with Metronidazole, ideally alongside an antibiotic. Remember to remove carbon from the filter, if used. If you have been using feeder fish,
it's simply impossible to guess for sure what the problem is. Hexamita plus a Nitrofuran antibiotic would be a good starting point, but you might find you need to follow up with a dewormer in due course. But who knows? Feeders are called 'parasite bombs' with good reason, and it's hard to know what horrible pathogens they're bringing into an aquarium. Hope this helps,
Neale.>
Re: A little help please: Sick Oscar      6/5/18

Thank you Neale. Before he stopped eating he was eating and probably overfed Hikari pellets.
<An excellent and well-balanced food, but yes, avoid overfeeding because they contain little/no fibre. Do offer some green foods, or at least safe frozen or live foods gut-loaded with plant material; earthworms for example.>
Every time some one passed the tank he begged for food and I let all visitors feed him but didn't feed him any feeder fish prior to him being sick. I put some guppies in a few days ago.
<While Guppies don't contain fat and thiaminase, they are a potential parasite source -- unless you've bred them yourself of course, and know them to be 'clean'.>
He followed them around for a min but then lost interest. I didn't see him eat any. I assume they were sucked up in the filter...
<Yikes!>
Where can I purchase the Metronidazole and Nitrofuran?
<Seachem Metroplex is the standard Metronidazole medication of the hobby; a vet can also prescribe/sell this in countries where Metroplex isn't sold.
When it comes to Nitrofuran drugs, API produce a product called Nitrofurazone, Hikari something called BiFuran+, and Seachem have a product called Focus. I'm sure there are others, and again, outside the US, similar medications will be available from vets. In Europe and the UK, you may be able to get hold of something called eSHa HEXAMITA which isn't Metronidazole, but is available over the counter (rather than from a vet) and has been used with some degree of success against a range of Hexamita-type cichlid problems. Definitely worth a shot if you can't get Metronidazole easily. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A little help please: Sick Oscar      6/5/18

Many Thanks Neale!
<Most welcome.>

Odd spot on Betta, now fin rot?     6/4/18
I sent the message below last night. Later in the evening, I gave his tank a good cleaning (removed him to holding tank to get all algae out of tank, and all waste out of gravel on bottom), and I did a 50% water change. At least now I can see him better and he did not seem stressed by the process. Below is the best picture of him I was able to get. The white spot is raised, but I could not get a decent picture showing that. I have been thinking it was just scar tissue, but now I’m not so sure.. Also, his tail clearly looks ragged compared to the perfect half-moon it was in February. What do you suggest to treat my little guy?
<Maybe a regimen (three doses) of Kanamycin...>
He is still acting healthy and happy, but definitely has a problem. Thank you so much for any help you can give me.
Elaine
<Please use the search tool on WWM (on every page) with the words "Betta, Finrot, Kanamycin". Bob Fenner>


Re: Odd spot on Betta, now fin rot?     6/4/18
Thanks. I’ve successfully treated fin rot on another Betta and I’ll check your web site.
<Good and good>
I was just worried WHY he got it with good water chemistry, weekly tank vacuuming and 20-25% water change I was afraid that white spot is something serious affecting his immune system. I’ll treat the fin rot.
<Mmm; perhaps genetic factors are at work here. Betta splendens are not what they used to be. Bob Fenner>

Corys       6/3/18
Hi there,
Wondered if you could help, one of my corys has developed a large cyst on its eye. It’s completely over the eye.
<Yowsers! That's quite the blister or cyst. Could be either, really. These are hard to treat satisfactorily, and prevention is really the thing to focus on. Corydoras are burrowing fish, and gravel isn't ideal. It tends to abrade their skins, allowing bacterial infections. The commonest symptom of this is the absence of whiskers, which on an adult Corydoras should be several mm long and distinctly narrow and tapering at the ends. Yours very obviously has abraded whiskers, which strongly suggests the wrong environment in terms of substrate. Of course sometimes Corydoras seem to do just fine in tanks with gravel, so there does seem to be a second factor at work, likely a generally unclean substrate that fosters the wrong sort of bacterial growth. Hard to say really, but I'd encourage you to look at your tank, especially the substrate, and draw your own conclusions.>
Other than the obvious, the fish is not acting any differently. Any advice?
<Treating cysts and blisters is difficult. Cysts tend to be solid, whereas blisters are (as their name implies) hollow with a tissue fluid centre, so may flop about a bit when the fish moves. Antibiotics can help with blisters, but cysts do tend to be viral, and there's really nothing you can do beyond waiting for the fish to get better itself. In either case, it's really about fixing the aquarium more than anything else, because there's no one parasite or pathogen involved, and therefore no "easy" solution you can buy from the pet store.>
Thank you in advance!
<You're welcome, Neale.>

Apple Snail      5/30/18
Aloha Neale,
<Guten morgen, Dave!>
I was just looking through your site to find some info about caring for apple snails, and thought I'd write you a little note about mine, Rupert.
<Cool.>
I've had Rupee since November 2015 and he was bought at a local fish shop in Honolulu for about 3.99 or 4.99. It was among the best money I've ever spent. After having a few kinds of fish in there with him over the years, and some who for one reason or another needed rehoming, Rupert now lives alone in a 10 gallon. 7.9 ph, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10-20 nitrates... and until the last year no calcium additives, though for the first couple years there were quite a few sea shells in with him. For the fish's sake, I
removed them to keep the ph under 8, and now that he's alone, he's got a few in there.
<Nice. You're right about these snails doing best on their own, or even in groups. I dare say Nerite snails would work well with them, but I'd tend to avoid shrimps in case they pick at the Apple Snail.>
A year ago he started getting little chunks of cuttlebone in there, which I rub together between fingers each week after a water change to dissolve into his water.
<They do like these!>
Now I am starting Kent's liquid calcium, as well, more so I don't have to put the unneeded additives in the cuttlebone into the tank, and wanted your advice on how much of that you'd dose weekly or at what rate? It seems like a safe, clean way to get him a bit more calcium, and any advice on using it would be appreciated. Also any other specific calcium advice I'd appreciate.
<Oh, hard to say. I'd dose about half what's recommended for a marine tank to start with. Then grab a carbonate hardness test kit, and check the KH value. Something around 10 degrees KH is probably the ideal, but a little lower or higher no big deal. Really, so long as the shell isn't pitted, the calcium level is fine.>
He eats Hikari Crab Cuisine, New Life Spectrum Algae Max, and Hikari mini algae wafers. I've been unsuccessful at getting him eating veggies.
<Even lettuce? Mine loved that!>
Rupert is graceful, gentle, hypnotizing... the definition of peaceful. He is hand fed almost every day; no food is ever left in the tank. When he's sitting at the water line I open the lid, start talking to him in a nice voice, and he usually starts looking up, and walla... into his mouth a little crab stick goes, or a piece of the other stuff. He can eat up to 30 of the crab sticks in one hour long feeding...
<Blimey! No wonder he doesn't want the greens. He's doubling up on the prime steak and skipping the salad.>
It's quite endearing to care for him and the videos of him are stunning. It was also the comment that few of these make it to tennis ball size that made me want to write.
<Yep. Can do. It's rare though because relatively few make it past 12 months in an aquarium, whereas I'm told the big ones are 4-5 years of age.>
Here is a video to see him... recent... and I have a ton more, if you wanted to see them!
<Sure thing.>
He is quite photogenic, as you can see... and I have dozens of videos he is about a tennis ball in size, closing in on three years old, and I love him dearly. Such an active, engaging, absolutely wonderful pet. Hearing others don't have this luck scares me! I didn't do much to specifically accommodate him, not intentionally but through ignorance, and now I'm going to try and do everything I can for him. I adore him. He is the light of my life, and has the most magical eyes.
https://youtu.be/Mb1iXaEDd2Q
<Wow! That's a cool pet for sure.>
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the all the great info, and let you know about this one very special Apple Snail - I think the canaliculata species... but he may as well be my son. I don't have kids and I love him like family.
God bless, Neale.
<And likewise.>
Aloha,
Dave
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Apple Snail      5/31/18
Thanks for the reply, Neale.
<Most welcome.>
Rupert did very well with others-- it was fish outgrowing the tank, or others rehomed when I had a health crisis with one resident in the tank, and wanted to make sure they got to safety.
<Interesting. It's often fish such as barbs and tetras pecking at the 'antennae' of the Apple Snails that causes problems with bacterial infections.>
If that one fish hadn't been stricken down by me adding some ghost shrimp which brought disease and killed him, I'd consider other creatures for Rupert's tank, but after that horrific incident (and I'd had LOTS of ghost shrimp with no incidents for years affecting anyone), nothing goes into Rupee's tank now except his food and careful dosing of calcium. He has everything else he needs and I won't add stuff for my enjoyment.
<Quite a good approach, I dare say.>
I've been frightened away from ever putting anything in there again.
Especially since Rupert doesn't need a single other occupant, so I'm not taking a chance with my baby, as I'm sure you can understand. He's precious and all I've got; nothing is worth chancing his health. Shrimp never bothered him. Other little snails I find in there I pull out ASAP so they don't take his calcium. The only people that ever picked on him were a tiger barb and a baby Corydoras paleatus, inexplicably... Rupert lived with an adult of that species and they were always seemingly best buds, sitting with each other. Otherwise, no one ever nipped at him.
<Good!>
He's never paid any attention to the pieces of cuttlebone, but I hope the calcium helped.
<Will have done. The aragonite in cephalopod shells such as these will slowly dissolve, especially if the pH drops below 7, which in turns causes the dissolved calcium carbonate to buffer against the pH and raises the carbonate hardness.>
I am uneasy about the other ingredients in those - sometimes they come unwrapped or packaged with no details on ingredients, which is why I'm looking at things like the liquid, or even Zoo Med's calcium block for turtles, perhaps using a super small piece of one of those.
<Could be used, yes. But also bear in mind that things like krill and tiny bits of unshelled seafood will contain some calcium salts, and if your Apple Snail eats these, supplementing may be unnecessary.>
A person with technical knowledge of the product on their phone line said it could raise PH and knew nothing about using it for apple snails. Any ideas on that? Has calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride... the cuttlebone usually has a form of calcium and salt... so I don't like the additive part of the salt... the liquid appeals to me, since it's just calcium chloride and water...
<Both calcium sulphate and magnesium chloride should be safe to use, but I wouldn't bother. Providing calcium carbonate in the form of cuttlebone or crushed oyster shell is very much easier. Your Apple Snail only needs tiny amounts, remember; unlike crayfish and crabs, snails don't 'waste' mineral salts each time they moult, so all they need is enough to lay down the next layer of shell as they grow. Provided the shell isn't pitted, the pH and hardness of the water are adequate for maintaining the existing shell, and provided there aren't weird looking growth lines at the aperture (often dark and/or wrinkled) then the snail's diet are adequate for shell growth.
Your snail's shell looks pretty normal for an animal of its size and age.>
On that, I spoke with a technical rep on the 888 # on the Kent's. He was even more cautious and suggested cutting the dose to a quarter of that on the label, and starting with half of that... so it translated to 1 drop per every 2 gallons to start... then after a month if the PH is not affected, bump that to 1 drop per gallon, to be added when doing water changes. He gets about a 50% water change weekly.
I have a KH test kit and will check the water and get back to you...
I can't remember trying lettuce. I could try it.
<Definitely worth it. I largely reared baby Apple Snails on it, back in the day.>
Last night he ate a Hikari mini algae wafer and maybe 10 crab sticks, which have calcium, so I think they make an excellent staple.
<I bet.>
He was about a quarter size when purchased in Nov. 2015, so he's close to 3 years old, and I use the moss balls in there to help keep him from having rough landings, and he grazes off of them, too. I'm very proud of him and when I read your comments on few making it past a year of the folks you've interacted with, I wanted to share his amazing story with you, as he approaches three years. Aren't his blue eyes stunning?
<Definitely. Molluscs can have surprisingly nice eyes -- do look at those of scallops for example, not to mention squids and octopuses!>
Here he is last night... https://youtu.be/PFpx49-FdgI
<Real good! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Apple Snail       6/3/18
Neale I found the earliest two photos of Rupert, both from late November 2015.
It's amazing how much he's grown, the shell colors change, how long his tentacles are now... boy was he a little cutie pie or what?
<That's actually pretty snazzy to see! Whether he's a cutie pie or not probably depends on your personal taste.>
And last night he made history - Rupee had his first cucumber. Washed, then blanched... it was something else.
<Might also try courgette / zucchini, another favourite with aquatic herbivores.>
Usually he's fed at the water line, where food can be easily put in his mouth.
<Quite so.>
Sometimes if he's grazing on a moss ball, I'll pop a crab cuisine stick on the ball, and he'll rotate it into his mouth. But with him having the whole tank now, while he was walking around on the ground, I put a wedge of cucumber, like a small slice of pizza, in front of him. Walla - an hour later and he had eaten almost the whole thing. It was a delight to see him genuinely interested in it.
<Curious behaviour indeed.>
When done I removed the small piece he didn't eat, and he looked bloated, sitting there motionless, his face retracted into the shell and his mass bloating out. I was frightened and moved him a few inches away, and he quickly brought his face out, and began cruising around the tank. It had been a lot more cucumber than I thought he'd eat. Two photos show his starting on the cucumber and shortly before he was done.
<Indeed.>
So I thought you'd like to know that, and your lettuce suggestion made me push forward to see if something green could become a reality for him. I will try spinach soon, but he's got more cucumber for the weekend.
<Apple Snails are herbivorous pests in the wild, so there's really no reason not to try anything green. But there are some of the more strongly flavoured varieties that may have chemicals like mustard oils that put off herbivores, and may even be harmful, so try a little bit first.>
The reason I like the idea of the liquid calcium over the cuttlebone is avoiding the uncertain other stuff that seems to be in the cuttlebone. Now when I went to get it most recently, it was not sealed, no label, and another store had it sealed with no ingredient breakdown... I'm not as comfortable putting that in, not knowing the precise ingredients (often has salt as one), vs. the liquid, which only has water besides the calcium...
<Understood. Anything sold as 'reef safe' should be fine with snails of all sorts, but avoid anything mysterious or not obviously reef safe.>
It's just a bit uncomfy wondering what else could be in the cuttlebone, vs. the Kent's it's only the one ingredient + water, and after talking to their tech guy for a while, it seems very easy and clean to add to his water.
<Indeed. Cuttlebone does also decay in the water, so isn't to everyone's taste as an Apple Snail supplement.>
For a month I'll do 1 drop per 2 gallons, testing KH and PH, and then if no bad effects, bump up to a drop per gallon.
<Seems sensible.>
Here he is last night after his cucumber.... https://youtu.be/TFNyuNnnlmA
Thanks again, Neale. Hope you dig the vintage baby pics! I'm so blessed to  still have him...
<Appreciate the photographs. Good luck with your experiments here, Neale.>

Possible swim bladder issue      5/29/18
Hi crew!
I have a question about possible swim bladder problem with one of my long fin zebra Danios (female). Recently she has been subjected to non-stop bullying from a dominant female in the school of six. The affected Danio, who was discovered Sunday having issues swimming, has been removed to a hospital tank. She is exhibiting negative buoyancy. She will occasionally swim to the top with great effort but will return to the bottom where she will wobble to one side. She is alert and responds to movement outside of the tank (she will scuttle to opposite side of tank when I approach). She is healthy in all outward appearance with good color and clear eyes, but is slightly swollen in the belly with one side being slightly more pronounced. She may be slightly egg bound. Her respiration is normal. She has not accepted food while she has been in the hospital tank (since Sunday). Presently she is in a cycled 2.8 gallon tank to which I've added about 1/4 tsp of Epsom salt (one dose). The water temp is about 75-76°F.
<Good moves, conditions>
I thought that she may have some sort of intestinal blockage as my Danios like frozen bloodworms and the larger Fluval bug bites I feed my larger fish.
<Am not a fan of Bloodworms, though frozen are better than other formats. I'd sub Daphnia, Brine Shrimp for now; for their mild laxative effects>
I know that the stress from the recent bullying could have predisposed her to some sort of GI infection/parasite. I know the prognosis is not great, but do you think that a course of antibiotics may be helpful? I have both Kanaplex and Metroplex on hand. Or should I continue with the Epsom salts?
<For me, just the MgSO4>
I was planning on a 50% water change tomorrow and replacing just the quantity of salts removed by the water change. I'm quite perplexed as to how to proceed with treating her.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Susan
<Really just time going by and favorable setting will/should see this situation resolve. Bob Fenner>
Re: Possible swim bladder issue /RMF     5/30/18

Thanks Dr. Bob!
She is making an attempt to swim around a bit today but still spending most of her time on her side on bottom of tank (bare bottom). She mouthed some brine shrimp I held up to her mouth but not eating yet.
One development this morning, long stringy white poo. Does this sound like inflammation/infection of GI tract or parasites?
<Could be or not>
No other passage of normal looking feces.
<Mmm; do you have a 'scope of a few hundred power... ability to hook up to USB for sharing pix of a sample?>
Otherwise, Color good and still responsive to movement outside and inside of hospital tank. Ammonia and nitrite are zero.
Is the white stringy poo cause for concern or should I just give her more time with water changes and Epsom salt?
<For me, the latter. BobF>
Susan
Possible swim bladder issue /Neale      5/30/18

Hi crew!
I have a question about possible swim bladder problem with one of my long fin zebra Danios (female). Recently she has been subjected to non-stop bullying from a dominant female in the school of six. The affected Danio, who was discovered Sunday having issues swimming, has been removed to a hospital tank. She is exhibiting negative buoyancy. She will occasionally swim to the top with great effort but will return to the bottom where she will wobble to one side. She is alert and responds to movement outside of the tank (she will scuttle to opposite side of tank when I approach). She is healthy in all outward appearance with good color and clear eyes, but is slightly swollen in the belly with one side being slightly more pronounced. She may be slightly egg bound. Her respiration is normal. She has not accepted food while she has been in the hospital tank (since Sunday). Presently she is in a cycled 2.8 gallon tank to which I've added about 1/4 tsp of Epsom salt (one dose). The water temp is about 75-76°F.
I thought that she may have some sort of intestinal blockage as my Danios like frozen bloodworms and the larger Fluval bug bites I feed my larger fish. I know that the stress from the recent bullying could have predisposed her to some sort of GI infection/parasite. I know the prognosis is not great, but do you think that a course of antibiotics may be helpful? I have both Kanaplex and Metroplex on hand. Or should I continue with the Epsom salts? I was planning on a 50% water change tomorrow and replacing just the quantity of salts removed by the water change. I'm quite perplexed as to how to proceed with treating her.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Susan
<Hi Susan. Danios are social animals, and in small groups can sometimes bully one another. It's usually a male, but no doubt sometimes big females throw their weight around too. The best solution to this sort of bullying is, inevitably, adding more of the same species and hoping for the best. I've been in a similar situation with Danio choprae, and eventually ended up with just one male! But in the meantime, yes, Epsom salt may help with bloating and egg-binding, if these are the issue, and an antibiotic used against Dropsy can be useful. I'd not go crazy with randomly medicating where small fish are concerned; partly not worth the expense, and partly tends to harm the fish more than help them. So at some point, euthanasia tends to be the better option, as described elsewhere on this site, and after a week or two to confirm the remaining fish are healthy, the addition of sufficient replacement livestock to mitigate any social behaviour problems. Cheers, Neale.>

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