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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 8/18/2018
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

caught a crayfish wilth a      8/16/18
he's got a filiment of some kind sticking out of his head. this isn't like that worm that drives crickets to drown themselves is it?
<Might be a parasite... or just some gunk attached. Can you send a well-resolved pic?>
it looks like a teeny weeny worm but its so small i can't see it right. Google image search shows up bupkis.
<Mmm; do READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/CrayParasitDisF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: caught a crayfish with a      8/17/18

i don't see linked files above yours
<Ahh; the linked files are above the link I sent you last>
but I do see the article and am poking around.
<Ah good>
Any way to narrow this down to just crayfish and parasites in north America?
<Not w/o more information, a photo of use>
I don't see it in the pictures here but there are only a few. I'm really only worried for my health as the watercress I'm growing beside the crayfish is for eating. I've seen too many episodes of "Monsters inside me" not to be cautious. I didn't expect him (I'm assuming gender) to live this long. I really only wanted to see if he'd get big enough to be a decent meal (another reason to be worried about parasites!) I'll check later today and get back to you. Unfortunately my only camera is my phone and if the local cooperative extension can't identify a fly using pictures taken from it I'm not sure you can get much from it either.
<Perhaps not>
Also I see a note on an article on your website about giving them iodine?
<Yes; useful... Read on!>
Anyone ever try just feeding them rinsed (to remove salt and preservatives) dried seaweed?
<Likely so; though most folks apply iodide (not elemental iodine) as a supplement>
Kelp is well known as an iodine supplement in humans. I bet I can whip something up.
<Worth trying, though a bit messy. Bob Fenner>
Re: caught a crayfish with a      8/18/18

its gone!
Re: caught a crayfish with a      8/18/18

damn thing was there for a couple weeks
<Ah yes>

Reg. Angelfish Breeding       8/8/18
<Hey Shriram>
This morning I was surprised to see that one of my angel fish pairs had laid eggs over the driftwood.
The pair has been guarding the eggs from other fish.
<Ah yes>
But I do see that the number of eggs turning white was gradually increasing over the day.
<Mmm; yes. A "first batch" is often "weak"; and... there is some chance that the eggs were not fertilized, even... that there may be two females at work here!>
This the first time I have seen angel fish lay eggs.
<Enlivening eh?>
Is it advisable to move the driftwood with the eggs to a nursery tank or do I need to move along with the pair.
<As this is already ongoing... I'd leave all as is. IF you're interested in breeding, rearing young... DO consider moving the pair to their own system, employ a slanted (placed) piece of slate for them to place the spawn on... and READ on WWM, the Net, books... re the option of moving the spawn (adding Methylene Blue, an airstone), OR leaving the spawn w/ the parents, moving them when the young are free-swimming>
Since the eggs are turning white is there still a chance that I may have angel fish fry.
<Yes; the white/fungused ones are gone; but the clearish ones may still be viable. >
Please suggest what should be my next course of action.
<Again, I would leave all as is here currently; move the parents to another system (20 gal. tall or larger)....>
Thanks and regards,
Shriram Natarajan
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Reg. Angelfish Breeding      8/9/18

Hi Bob,
Thanks for getting back.
As of now I have decided to leave the eggs wit the parents.
Today morning I could see that they were trying to move the eggs which had not turned white to another bark of the driftwood.
<Ah, good>
That looked promising to me..
Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping to see at least a small number of the eggs turn up to beautiful angelfish fry.
<They will breed again... every few weeks... shorter when eggs, young removed>
Will keep you posted...
<I thank you>
And yes really excited with the first batch of eggs\hatching..:)
<Oh yes>
Thanks and regards,
Shriram Natarajan
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Brackish to Freshwater; lost Violet Goby; Fire Eel sys.       8/8/18
Hello Crew.
I lost my Violet Goby today. He was in the tank when I did his water change last night, but when I went to feed him this morning, I couldn't find him. When I did find him, he had gotten out of the tank and wiggled into my closet. He was very dried out, but I tried floating him in the tank in a net all day - but he was gone.
<How cow! That's bad news indeed. Sounded a great fish.>
I've decided I'm not going to get another one, at least for now, and to convert that tank back to freshwater. I sent you a post a few days ago about compatibility between my BGK and a Fire Eel I will be getting from my friend this Saturday, and instead of putting it in with the BGK, I'm going to put the Fire Eel in the goby's old tank. My question is, how sensitive are Fire Eels to salt?
<Not especially, but they don't want brackish. On the other hand, a trivial amount is actually quite therapeutic, and a safer treatment for Whitespot and Velvet than the alternatives. Certainly, the addition of 1-2 gram salt per litre of water has been standard operating practise in Europe when keeping Spiny Eels of all kinds, including these.>
This tank is low end brackish, SG 1.005. Do I have to completely rinse out the tank, sand, filters, everything and start over, or can I replace the water, or a portion of the water, to drop the salinity as low as it can go without destroying the biological filter that currently exists in the tank.
<A succession of water changes will be fine, which I'd do across a couple of days to allow the filter to adapt. Keep adding a little flake or something to keep the filter bacteria ticking over. Once the salinity is
1.001 or less, you can add a Spiny Eel without problems. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Brackish to Freshwater      8/8/18

Thank you!
<Most welcome! Neale.>
Re: Brackish to Freshwater      8/8/18

Thank you!
<PS. If a Violet Goby jumped out of your tank, a Spiny Eel will definitely do so. They are notorious escape artists. Double check every hole is sealed off with plastic mesh, filter wool, or something else that lets air through but nothing else! Cheers, Neale.>

Sick fish; Helostoma         8/7/18
Hi. My friend has this fish that has weird things in it mouth. She said all she did was add a couple live plants and the next day woke up to this (please see attached pictures). I have seen the tank and they keep it clean and have other fish along with a couple frogs and an algae eater. Can you help? The fish is unable to open it's mouth.
Thanks, Tamara
<It's not entirely clear from your photos what we're looking at here. But the 'thing' appears to be flesh, and what I think has happened is that this Kissing Gourami has somehow damaged its mouth. Perhaps by fighting, perhaps by getting the mouth stuck on something rough or even a filter inlet.
Regardless, there's not a huge amount you can do. I would treat with antibiotics first (removing carbon from the filter, if used) and I'd also carefully observe the fish to see if it can feed itself. If it cannot feed,
because the jaws have become dislocated for example, the fish isn't going to recover and should be euthanised.
Cheers, Neale.>

Severum sick        8/7/18
<Hello Joseph,>
We have a yellow/orange (golden?) Severum and she is about 8 years old.
She stopped eating about 3 weeks ago. At first she stayed at the bottom in a certain spot so we thought it was a behaviour issue. I then noticed red streaks on her fin lines (tail and top fin) and purple/reddish around her nose and gill area.
<Does look like an opportunistic bacterial infection. The reddish areas develop when bacteria block peripheral blood vessels. Eventually the flow of blood stops, and the surrounding tissue dies. Now, if you're lucky it's something along the lines of Finrot, but cichlids are also prone to something called Septicaemia, which is essentially untreatable without help from a vet, and even then, likely fatal.>
I checked the PH (6.5) and the nitrates (which were about 40). So, did a water change and now the water tests are all good. I reduced the amount of food (3 Silver Dollars in the tank with her - who are still eating).
She has eaten (attempted to) only about 2-3 times in about 3 weeks. Once she ate frozen blood worms and the other times she spit it out. Her normal diet is about 3 Cichlid pellets and some dried blood worms.
<Like all cichlids, she'll eat when she's healthy. While she's sick, the fact she isn't eating is no surprise at all.>
Now she moves around the tank but at feeding is at top of tank and then sinks to the bottom when I come by the tank. Still not eating. Her water temp is now 77 (was 74).
<Severums appreciate a bit more warmth than 23 C/74 F, so I'd have been more consistently keeping her around the 25 C/77 F make, and upping the temperature to 28 C/82 F while she's sick.>
Attaching some pictures and I can answer any questions you may have.
I really appreciate the help.
<Severums are fairly hardy, and she should respond well to suitable antibiotics. At the same time, do review general care. Soft, slightly acidic water is certainly helpful. But also remember these fish are
omnivores, and do need some fresh greens in their diet to do well. Cooked peas and Spirulina-based flake foods are good, as are Spirulina-loaded frozen brine shrimp. Given your Silver Dollars are almost entirely
herbivores, your Severum should do well on whatever sort of food you were giving them! By contrast, avoid too much meaty food for both species. I mention diet because these opportunistic bacterial infections occur because the fish's immune system has become weakened, often water quality being the
factor, but longer term, diet can be a factor too. Cheers, Neale.>


Re: Severum sick      8/8/18
Thank you. Could you recommend an anti-biotic that I can treat her with?
<If you're in the US, then something like the old Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 combo is well regarded, or else something like Kanaplex. But avoid anything that's either a general tonic or cure-all, and definitely avoid the tea-tree oil medications like Melafix. Salt won't help, either. Outside the US you can't always easily obtain antibiotics without a prescription, so your range of options is different. Here in the UK, I've found eSHa 2000 works well. Again, avoid cure-alls, and concentrate on established anti-Finrot medications. Cheers, Neale.>

Few questions; Java Moss use        8/7/18
Gday Neale
Hope you’re well mate
<Can't complain, me old cobber.>
Just got a few questions for you hopefully you might help me out.
<Sure thing.>
I’ve started to build a wall in my tank with plastic mesh and java moss it grows crazy in my tank....
<Yes. Often does, once it takes. Odd stuff, Java Moss. Sometimes thrives; sometimes miserably hangs in there.>
My concern is that behind the walls will it become “dead spots”. The fish do go behind which I’m hopefully going to stop soon and give the shrimps that are in there a place to live “behind the scenes” once all the walls are complete.
<Understood. There is some argument for giving the moss a hair cut periodically if the dead spots are substantial. This is akin to the theory of algae scrubbers, where a 'turf' of green algae on mesh panels helps to filter the water, but if the turf becomes too thick, the efficiency of this diminishes as water movement reduces. But that said, tiny shrimp babies and fish fry thrive inside dense thickets of moss.>
Do you think this will be an issue with dead spots?
<It can be if you find the moss deep inside the thickets turning brown and/or trapping a lot of silt. Not dangerous bad, but unsightly, and not doing anything useful. But if the moss is green all the way through, it's probably fine, and doesn't need any particular help from you.>
please see photos below
<The tank looks awesome, to be honest, and there's nothing wrong with encouraging the moss to cover as much of the back pane as you'd like. Everything looks perfectly healthy to me. Cheers, Neale.>


Re: Few questions; FW Stocking       8/8/18
FW Stocking
Hey Neale
Thanks for your reply
<Most welcome.>
Next question my filter I’m currently running a Eheim 2217 do you think this unit is enough for my tank?
<An excellent filter.>
My tank is 5 foot x 2 foot x 1.2 feet w roughly about 540 litres of water. I get really good flow is that how people judge if the filter is the right size for the tank?
<So long as you have zero ammonia and zero nitrite, your filter is doing fine, so far as filtering goes. If your fish are 'gasping' or otherwise showing signs of oxygen stress, you may need additional water movement, which could come from a second filter, airstone, or powerhead.>
Last question ha ha what would be the capacity for this tank?
I have currently
30 cardinal tetras
20 Rummynose tetras
18 Otocinclus catfish
6 red rainbows
4 dwarfs cichlids
3 Kuhli loaches
2 flying foxes
2 breeding Bristlenose catfish (normally a good sign)
And more than a few shrimps
Am I reaching the limit for this system? Or can I add more
<The old rule of "an inch per gallon" isn't bad. So this tank is about 140 US gallons, so about 140 "inches" of small fish (anything up to the size of Guppies, say). Cardinals get to what, maybe 1.5 inches, so that'd be over 90 Cardinal tetras! Plus or minus a bit for the fact some of your fish quite a bit bigger than Guppies, your tank probably isn't>
What I would still like to add is
10 torpedo barbs
<If you mean Sahyadria denisonii, the Red Lined Torpedo Barb, these are quite particular fish. They need clean, clear water with lots of oxygen and -- crucially for long term success -- not too much heat. They're probably more subtropical than tropical fish. But in any case, anything above 25 C isn't to their liking, making them a poor choice for life with Cardinal tetras, for example, which are true hothouse flowers. They also prefer a bit more current than Cardinals, though on the other hand, the habitat favoured by Otocinclus, Ancistrus, and Flying Foxes would be pretty similar. Do note that Sahyadria denisonii can get pretty large (maybe 10 cm in good conditions) and while a 540 litre tank would suit them well, they are boisterous, even aggressive at times, and can terrorise small, gentle species -- and may simply view shrimps as food. On the other hand, they're perfectly fine with L-number catfish, robust characins like Anostomus and Silver Dollars, and those sorts of fishes able to handle themselves without actually causing trouble for no reason.>
10 Rummynose
10 cardinal tetras
<These two species mix very well, and almost interchangeably in terms of requirements.>
Appreciate you help and thoughts on these man.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Yellow weather loach w red areas on body      8/6/18
Very concerned. Loach has red areas, first near tail, now half of body after severe stress w tap water high in ammonia (4 ppm) w me not finding right away.
<Aye; deadly toxic; likely the principal source of trouble here; particularly in more alkaline water ammonia is very dangerous>
Several days of frequent water changes, some lost fish, other parameters normal to tank, but very hard to get ammonia down....added prime often, know this detoxes but doesn't remove. Thus not sure exactly how bad in actual tank. Purchased spring water for changes.
Now loach has red areas, very inactive, sure he doesn't feel good.
Don't know how to help him or if euthanasia is best. Really like this guy, hate to see him suffer.
<Am a laggard in terms of euthanizing livestock that has a chance to recover. This loach species is very tough>
Had an ammonia spike a few months ago, managed to save everyone. This time more severe.
Please help. Larry is a friend. About 1 yr old, 7 in long.
<Do take a read over our archives on Dojos:
and the linked files above. DO what you can to get rid of the ammonia. SEE as in read on WWM re; chemical filtrants are the route I would go NOW. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow weather loach w red areas on body
So far reading nothing like my guy.
No bumps
No blisters
No holes
No black spots
<These symptoms may well be forthcoming w/ exposure to ammonia>
Yes to red area beginning whole diameter of body first in front of tail but now after 3 days extended to middle of body.
Weak, falls to side of tries to swim, stays next to objects as if to maintain position
Not sure if eating but does move somewhat but not when I'm near...then struggles
Was breathing rapidly 4 days ago, gradually now more normal Nitrate <30, nitrite 0, ammonia now 0,25 ppm
<Better; but do shoot for less than 20 ppm of NO3, zero, zip, nada ammonia 0.0>
Tap water now 1ppm
Spring water ammonia 0
<See Neale is taking on. Cheers, B>
Re: Yellow weather loach w red areas on body
Thank you
Will read
Do have ammonia filter on tank
Water is more acidic than alkaline, 6.2 to 6.4
<I would slowly raise this to about neutral; seven-ish. See WWM re easy means to do this... likely baking soda, sodium bicarbonate... added, mixed into your weekly water change out water>
Yes, I hate to end him if I don't have to.
<I would not do so. BobF>
Yellow weather loach w red areas on body /Neale
Very concerned. Loach has red areas, first near tail, now half of body after severe stress w tap water high in ammonia (4 ppm) w me not finding right away.
<If red areas are on underside of the body, around the mouth and belly especially, I'd be looking at the substrate. Loaches are extremely sensitive to abrasive substrates, as well as 'dirty' substrates that are
not cleaned or exposed to robust water currents.>
Several days of frequent water changes, some lost fish, other parameters normal to tank, but very hard to get ammonia down....added prime often, know this detoxes but doesn't remove.
<Water condition will neutralise ammonia in tap water. Once this is done, it is harmless. So you can ignore it. But if your aquarium ammonia level is higher than your tap water ammonia level, that is a problem. It means there's ammonia being produced by the fish that isn't being removed by the filter. Review stocking and filtration rates, and act accordingly.>
Thus not sure exactly how bad in actual tank. Purchased spring water for changes.
<What is the water chemistry of the tap water? Do bear in mind spring water isn't necessarily idea for all fish! Weather Loaches appreciate water that isn't too hard or too soft, with an around neutral pH; maybe 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5, and not too warm either, 18-22 C being ideal.>
Now loach has red areas, very inactive, sure he doesn't feel good. Don't know how to help him or if euthanasia is best. Really like this guy, hate to see him suffer.
<I bet.>
Had an ammonia spike a few months ago, managed to save everyone. This time more severe.
<Sounds like it. Do see above, and reply if necessary.>
Please help. Larry is a friend. About 1 yr old, 7 in long.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Yellow weather loach w red areas on body        8/7/18

Thank you.
Redness not trauma related. Began near tail, whole circumference, then spread forward toward head. Internal, not external.
<Could be anything, really. Sounds bacterial, so an antibiotic would be the best call.>
BETTER today, more close to normal color. This a yellow guy, did I say that? Perhaps moving a little better, as well. I do add Prime to all water plus Stability, including spring. All tank parameters had been so fine for several months. Frustrating. The city gives no warning of ammonia spike.
<Indeed, but should be within certain limits. Double-dosing your water conditioner isn't the worst idea, but in any event, use an ammonia test kit on your tap water before doing a water change, and then add extra conditioner if required.>
I understand many cities routinely add but alert residents. Not Philadelphia. I will have to check for each day of collecting I am learning, and take precautions. I hate harming the fish. Fingers crossed that Larry is improving. Thank you again.
<Well, does sound frustrating. But good luck with Larry. Cheers, Neale.>

Black Ghost Knifefish Compatibility Question, w/ Fire Eel     8/5/18
Hello Crew!
I have a 125 gallon tank that currently houses my 7 inch Black Ghost Knife Fish and 2 Bristlenose Plecos. I recently upgraded the filter on this tank to a Eheim Professional 3 (rated for a 300 gallon tank),
it has sand substrate and lots of big caves (4 inch PVC pipes) for hiding. I also have a friend who purchased what he was told was a Spiny Eel from one of the big chain pet stores only to find out it is
actually a Fire Eel
<Mmm; Fire Eels are Spiny Eels; that is, Mastacembelus erythrotaenia are part of the family Mastacembelidae>
that has attained a length of 7 inches in just 3 months.
<Ahh; and can grow to a few feet in length; most mastacembelid species stay under a foot>
He only has a 40 gallon tank so he wants to rehome the Fire Eel and asked me if I wanted it. I did some research and got conflicting opinions as to whether these two species would be compatible (the naysayers believe the Fire Eel would eventually eat the BGK). However, the individuals who believed they were compatible also posted some beautiful pictures of these two species interacting well with each other. I had planned on upgrading my BGK's tank in the next couple of years and have already purchased a stand for a 180 gallon tank (but I don't have the tank yet). So, I would really like to hear your opinion of keeping these two species together.
<I do think the two can, will live together for a good long while. Fire Eels do get large (enough) to consume fishes, but by being careful not to "feed for growth", yours can live for a good long while with the Knife. Bob Fenner>
Re: Black Ghost Knifefish Compatibility Question
Thank you!
Yellow weather loach w red areas on body
Very concerned. Loach has red areas, first near tail, now half of body after severe stress w tap water high in ammonia (4 ppm) w me not finding right away.
<Aye; deadly toxic; likely the principal source of trouble here; particularly in more alkaline water ammonia is very dangerous>
Several days of frequent water changes, some lost fish, other parameters normal to tank, but very hard to get ammonia down....added prime often, know this detoxes but doesn't remove. Thus not sure exactly how bad in actual tank. Purchased spring water for changes.
Now loach has red areas, very inactive, sure he doesn't feel good.
Don't know how to help him or if euthanasia is best. Really like this guy, hate to see him suffer.
<Am a laggard in terms of euthanizing livestock that has a chance to recover. This loach species is very tough>
Had an ammonia spike a few months ago, managed to save everyone. This time more severe.
Please help. Larry is a friend. About 1 yr old, 7 in long.
<Do take a read over our archives on Dojos:
and the linked files above. DO what you can to get rid of the ammonia. SEE as in read on WWM re; chemical filtrants are the route I would go NOW. Bob Fenner>

Sick Betta      8/4/18
<Hello Danielle,>
I can't seem to diagnose my Betta with what I have read/seen.
<Indeed. But can you please also tell us about its environment. Just to be clear, a Betta needs a decent size tank (I'd say at least 5 gallons, and certainly not less than 3 gallons) together with a heater and a filter. If you aren't supplying those, then that's why the Betta is sick. Water quality must be excellent, with zero ammonia and nitrite, and again, if these aren't the case, then that's why your Betta is sick. Unfortunately there's still this myth that Bettas can live in cups of water, without heaters and filters, and you'd be depressed by the number of "sick Betta" messages we get from aquarists who've tried to keep their Betta that way.>
Can you please take a look at these pictures?
<We do ask people keep emailed images down to less than 1 MB; yours was 7 MB, and attachments that size do fill up our email allowance pretty quickly, causing other people's messages do be returned. Furthermore, if you're going to send an image, please make sure the important bit is in focus! I can see something is terribly wrong with the head of your Betta, but beyond that, it's hard to say. It's too blurry. Could be a bacterial infection, something called Columnaris or 'Mouth Fungus' (not a fungus though) is perhaps a good bet. A reliable antibiotic (as opposed to Bettafix, Melafix, tonic salts, and other -- largely useless -- cure-alls) would be your best option here. Might be viral, in which case there's no treatment, and it could even be cancerous, such being quite common among farmed Bettas for one reason or another.>
Thank you,
<Welcome. Neale.>

Re: Sick Betta     8/5/18
Unfortunately he passed.
<Too bad.>
He was at least 3 years old.

<That's an incredible age for a Betta, so well done there.>
They are selling a three tiered tank with each compartment less than 1 gallon specifically for Betta fish at PetSmart. That sucks that they are misleading people and hurting fish.
<Agreed, that sucks. Breeders certainly do keep the males in jam jars, but they're replacing the water daily, and keeping them in a heated fish room.
If you're a breeder, it's really the only viable way to keep hundreds of Bettas alive at once. But aquarists aren't going to heat a room or change all the water daily, so yes, we really do need an aquarium. Anything less than 3 gallons is a bucket, and honestly, does anyone think a fish would be happy spending its life in less than a bucket of water? Pet stores really should make an effort to tell shoppers what's required before selling the fish. A 4-5 gallon tank doesn't cost a lot, and heaters and filters are very inexpensive nowadays. Compared with a pet dog or cat, a small fish tank is a trivial expense once you factor in the cost of food, vet bills, and so on that you'd be forking out for a cat or dog. And yes, there's
still an impression out there that Bettas and Goldfish can live in bowls and cups!>
Thanks for the advice.
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Schoutedeni puffer advice; fw puffer stkg f'      8/3/18
Hi Neale,
How are you?
<Hanging in there!>
I hope all is well, I recently purchased a 5-foot 500 litre aquarium that I have just set up to begin cycling.
I would like to keep a group of reasonably sized freshwater puffer fish in this.
<A group of pufferfish... setting yourself a challenge there!>
From my research it seems the schoutedeni are the only ones that get to a decent size (6 inches) and can be kept in a group.
<Possibly true, but this species is so infrequently kept that really solid evidence either way is lacking. >
Firstly - how many do you think I can keep in this size tank, would I get away with 8?
<Theoretically, yes. With a maximum length of maybe 10 cm, these fish aren't especially demanding in terms of space. That said, even allowing for their reputation for being peaceful, I don't know anyone who has kept a group of adults, so who knows for sure how well sexually mature specimens get along?>
I appreciate they are very expensive, but also very hard to come by.
<Indeed; their home territory is basically a war zone in the Congo region, so exports are extremely infrequent, to say the least.>
In fact I cant find a single shop in the UK that has them!! (except one fully grown one in a shop in London for £450!!). Do you happen to know where I can get these from?
<The wholesaler Aquarium Glaser, among others, have exported them occasionally. So they're on the 'lists' of fish retailers can get. In the UK at least, you'd want to contact one of the stores known to be able to get rare fish, and take it from there. Keith Lambert at Wildwoods is my "go to" person for oddball freshwater stuff. If he can't source something, it's probably not available. Even better, he ships fish mail order if you don't happen to be anywhere near Enfield, London. I also just had a quick look on the TropicalFishFinder.co.uk site, and they list Tetraodon schoutedeni as being in stock at Maidenhead Aquatics @ St Albans, so that might be worth a call too. So far as I know, the MA chain doesn't do mail order, but on the plus side, if you have an MA nearby, they should have access to the same wholesalers.>
Do you have any alternative suggestions for what puffers I can keep? I'd like a group of at least 6 reasonably sized.
<Some aquarists with really big tanks have kept the 'lurker' puffers such as Tetraodon suvattii in groups, because they don't move about much. Indeed, when not eating they don't really do anything. So they're not a lot of fun, to be fair. There's also the South American Pufferfish (Colomesus asellus) that gets along with its own kind very well, to the degree it's more nervous kept singly. Of course it's hyperactivity and nervousness diminishes it's character a bit compared with other species, and its tendency towards overgrown teeth may make it more challenging to keep. But still, it's a cheap, hardy species worth considering. Maximum size is around 8-10 cm, and it's also fairly compatible with other active fish (e.g., tetras) as well as catfish (such as L-numbers), so works well in carefully planned biotope tanks. It'd also be remiss of me not to mention Carinotetraodon irrubesco, a charming species that's small (5-6 cm long, at most) but very peaceful by puffer standards. You could keep 3-4 pairs in a tank your size without trouble. They're reasonably tolerant of other fish too, though odd specimens do behave like little bitey psycho fish -- though personally I do wonder if these reports mostly refer to similar species such as Carinotetraodon boreensis and Carinotetraodon lorteti that may look the same but behave very differently. My experiences with both Carinotetraodon irrubesco and Colomesus asellus were entirely positive, and I regard them as the closest things to 'community' puffers.>
On the topic, is there any other particularly interesting non-puffer fish you can suggest that get to a reasonable size and can be kept in a large school?
<Do see above. Even where you keep placid puffers, you want fast-moving midwater fish that avoid trouble if they need to (e.g., Danios and tetras), and retiring catfish that stay out of trouble by hiding (such as L-numbers or Synodontis). Loaches tick both boxes, so they're often good choices too.>
Or smaller fish that are interesting that can be kept in a massive school?
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: schoutedeni puffer advice      8/8/18
Thanks again for your advice
I have found somebody that has 5 that are about 4-5 inches.
<Holy cow!>
He is a private individual and is moving house and can’t take them with. He has asked for £500. Based on your experience do you have any idea what a fair price would be for these?
<That's not a bad price at all for five more or less full grown specimens! Juveniles could easily go for anywhere between £50-100; they're really that rare in the trade. You could haggle I suppose, but if these genuinely are Tetraodon schoutedeni, if you turn him down, it's unlikely you're going to see them anywhere else for a while. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: schoutedeni puffer advice      8/8/18

Thanks Neale, the owner has sent a video of the fish, the video was too large to send so I have screenshotted some pics of the fish into a word document and attached- do these look like real schoutedeni? They do to me but would like a second opinion.
<Tetraodon schoutedeni is most likely to be confused with Tetraodon nigroviridis, both of them having circular spots on their bodies. The most immediately obvious difference is that Tetraodon schoutedeni has reddish eyes, whereas those on Tetraodon nigroviridis tend to be golden.
Furthermore, whereas the spots on Tetraodon nigroviridis tend to be discrete black circles, the spots on Tetraodon schoutedeni are more closely packed, almost like 'crazy paving', especially on the dorsal surface. The back surface of Tetraodon nigroviridis is also more iridescent golden on most specimens, unlike the dull, often mottled colours on Tetraodon schoutedeni. While both species tend to swim with the tail fins closed, the tail of Tetraodon schoutedeni is often reddish-brown but without speckles or spots, whereas the tail fin of Tetraodon nigroviridis tends to be clear, but with some spots or speckles apparent, especially towards the base. Do also look at the 'tentacles' by the nostrils. On Tetraodon schoutedeni these are very long and narrow, whereas those on Tetraodon nigroviridis are much shorter and broader, like spoons. This difference is very obvious and very reliable, but do look at photos on Google to know what you're looking for! Supposedly, Tetraodon schoutedeni has more obvious spines, including particularly long spines on the belly, whereas the skin of Tetraodon nigroviridis is much smoother, though a few bristles or pimples may be apparent here and there. The pictures you sent me are a bit small to be definite, but it certainly looks like they have reddish eyes, which is promising! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: schoutedeni puffer advice      8/8/18
Thank you :-)
Kind regards,
<Most welcome and hope you're able to positively identify the puffers to your satisfaction. Neale.>

Re: schoutedeni puffer advice       8/10/18
Hi Neale,
Quick question further to your email below. Is it possible to mix Carino tetradon irrubesco with Amazon puffers in the same tank?
<Yes; kept two pairs of Carinotetraodon irrubesco alongside three Amazon Puffers in a single 180 litre tank without any problems at all. The two species barely notice each other. I did have lots of plants, especially floating plants though, and Amazon Puffers will spend most of their time at the surface if they can, hunting for food! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: schoutedeni puffer advice       8/10/18

Thanks! Could I put some dwarfs in there too? Or no because they are a bit more aggressive even if smaller?
<Dwarfs as in Dwarf Puffers? Carinotetraodon travancoricus? Nope. They'd either be two nippy, or too easily bullied. Either way, best kept on their own. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: schoutedeni puffer advice     8/14/18
Hi Neale,
I followed your advice and have a very similar setup (2 pairs irrubescos in a 200L) and bought 4 Amazon puffers yesterday.
The amazons are going a bit mad, swimming along the back glass side to side endlessly.
<This is what they do.>
I know they can be a bit erratic like that.
<Yes. These are open water, migratory, river-dwelling Puffers that don't lurk. They're more like Danios or Silver Dollars than regular Pufferfish.
Open water, strong water currents, and floating plants are what they like.
At night they do hide among the plants though.>
Will that settle?
<Eventually they become less hyperactive, but they're always swimming.>
They have been doing it for 24 hrs!! The water is fine and the tank is well planted.
Would adding another 2 (so a school of 6) help?
<Whether they're really schooling fish is unknown to me, but they certainly appreciate being with their own kind, and show few, if any signs of aggression.>
Or will they calm down after a few days?
I'm worried that they are very stressed/nervous.
<Yes and no. Yes, they're spooked now, but once settled in, they remain a bit frenetic. Cheers, Neale.>
Now: South American Puffers; was RE: schoutedeni puffer advice     8/14/18

Thank you!
<Most welcome.
They already looks a little bit more settled this morning (though still more erratic than most fish!).
<Indeed. These puffers will become quite tame, in fact mine would feed from food held in needlenose forceps quite happily. But they are always swimming about, like Danios, rather than your traditional pufferfish. Just accept that's how they are, and you'll find them refreshingly peaceful (if occasionally nippy) by comparison with other puffers. I call them "the nice puffers"...
Do note that the adult size stated in some aquarium books, 15 cm/6 inches, is wildly optimistic and probably based on a brackish water species, Colomesus psittacus, that's hardly ever traded; instead, expect SAPs to get to about half that size.>
Have a great day.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Community Tank setup      8/2/18
Hi crew,
I am in the process of setting up a 50g tank, dimensions are 120cm L, 40cm W, 45cm D (this is the water depth, not the total tank depth) and I wanted to check on the compatibility of my stocking list:
1 BN Pleco
3 Pearl Gourami's (1m/2f)
5 Bolivian Ram's
15 Serpae Tetra's - will these be too nippy for the pearls?
<Mmm; likely okay here; in this size grouping, system volume>
15 Espei Rasboras - will these be too fast for the pearls?
<Likely so>
If the pearl's are not a good addition, then instead I will add the Dwarf Gourami to the tank instead and not add Pearl Gourami's.
<A tough one (for me); I really like Trichogaster leeri, and Colisa genus gouramis have been problematical (dying easily) the last decades...>
The water conditions will be approx. (based on a current smaller 10g tank setup I already have):
Ph 7-7.5
KH 5-6
Temp 26 degrees C
<Fine for all>
Filtration: Internal filter (600L/hr) and a second sponge filter (600L/hr)
Tank setup: Sand substrate, lots of hidey holes for the rams, lots of driftwood for the Pleco, floating plants for the gourami's and a couple of large plants in the substrate.
I currently have a the BN Pleco and a Dwarf Gourami in the 10g tank, hence upgrading to a larger size for the BN Pleco who will be transferred to the 50g once it is up and running.
Many thanks for your help, Jo
<Thank you for sharing. Please do send along your further observations, news of your progress. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Community Tank setup      8/3/18

Thanks so much Bob for your feedback, Jo
<Welcome Jo. BobF>
Community Tank setup     /Neale      8/3/18

Hi crew,
<Hello Jo,>
I am in the process of setting up a 50g tank, dimensions are 120cm L, 40cm W, 45cm D (this is the water depth, not the total tank depth) and I wanted to check on the compatibility of my stocking list:
<Sure thing.>
1 BN Pleco
<Gets along with anything.>
3 Pearl Gourami's (1m/2f)
<Usually very well behaved in spacious tanks. Odd specimens can be aggressive though, so keep an eye open.>
5 Bolivian Ram's
<Another good pick, but I'd probably go with a pair or trio (1M, 2F). Two mated pairs might squabble.>
15 Serpae Tetra's - will these be too nippy for the pearls?
<Avoid; yes, they're nippy, and rarely behave themselves in community tanks. Other similar species are better, such as the somewhat larger Bleeding Heart Tetras or the small, rather shy Rosy Tetras. Unfortunately Serpae Tetras (Hyphessobrycon eques) have been regularly misidentified over the years, and do get sold under other names, so do make sure you can positively identify Rosy Tetras and other lookalike species (such as Hyphessobrycon bentosi) before spending your money.>
15 Espei Rasboras - will these be too fast for the pearls?
<Generally very well behaved, so good companions for Gouramis.>
If the pearl's are not a good addition, then instead I will add the Dwarf Gourami to the tank instead and not add Pearl Gourami's.
<Dwarf Gouramis are best avoided. They're not bad fish per se, but the quality of farmed stock is poor, and viral diseases seem ubiquitous. Few specimens last more than six months in captivity. In any case, small Gourami species are poor choices for life alongside dwarf cichlids, the two often fighting, and the gouramis coming off worse.>
The water conditions will be approx. (based on a current smaller 10g tank setup I already have):
Ph 7-7.5
KH 5-6
Temp 26 degrees C
<This should suit a fair variety of community fish, so long as you avoid those that need very soft or very hard water.>
Filtration: Internal filter (600L/hr) and a second sponge filter (600L/hr)
<Fine, but do avoid turbulent water flow if you're keeping gouramis.
Conversely, moderately brisk currents suit tetras and rasboras well.>
Tank setup: Sand substrate, lots of hidey holes for the rams, lots of driftwood for the Pleco, floating plants for the gourami's and a couple of large plants in the substrate.
<Nice, especially the use of floating plants. Indeed, I think you're spot-on to add greenery "from the top down" in the form of things like Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit that have leaves and roots that trail down nicely. With all that shade, your benthic plants will want to be reasonably tolerant of subdued lighting, so things like Cryptocoryne species and Anubias species would be my first picks.>
I currently have a the BN Pleco and a Dwarf Gourami in the 10g tank, hence upgrading to a larger size for the BN Pleco who will be transferred to the 50g once it is up and running.
Many thanks for your help, Jo
<Most welcome, Neale.> 
Re: Community Tank setup      8/4/18

Hi Neale,
Thanks for the great and speedy response,
I just wanted to ask your advice about one more possible community tank setup. I also really like the German Blue Rams, so instead of stocking Bolivian Rams, I was thinking about 5 GBR's instead (1m/4f) or could I stock more than one male GBR?
<All varieties of Common Ram, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, including German Blue Rams, are best avoided. How to explain? For a start, the wild fish lives in very hot, very soft water, and adapts poorly to anything else.
We're talking 28-30C/82-86F, 0-5 degrees dH, pH 6 as the basic conditions required in the aquarium. Next up, the fish has been inbred over generations to produced things like German Blues, and this may be why they're so disease prone. Farms "juice" them with antibiotics to enhance their colours and healthful appearance, but as the drugs wear off, the fish start to sicken. Hexamita infections are extremely common, especially in the wrong water chemistry and if nitrate creeps above, say, 20 mg/l. While the odd specimen presumably makes it past six months in the community tank, most seem not to. Bolivian Rams, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, are infinitely more hardy, and there are also one or two Apistogramma species, notably Apistogramma cacatuoides, that I'd recommend ahead of the Common
Ram. If I'm completely honest, I consider Rams to be junk fish of no value to most hobbyists. They're cheap, they look nice, but they'll be sick within weeks, so why bother?>
Also, would the temperature needed for the GBR's (I would set at 28 Degrees Celsius) be too high for the BN Pleco and tetra's?
<Correct; 28 C is acceptable for Gouramis and some tetras such as Cardinals, but much too warm for standard Bristlenose Plecs -- though suckermouth and L-number catfish species from Rio Xingu would adapt, as would certain hothouse flower Corydoras such as Corydoras sterbai. That said, mixing Corydoras with dwarf cichlids is risky, for the catfish anyway.>
I read that Pearl Gourami's can cope with the higher temperatures, so hopefully there shouldn't be an issue there...
<See above.>
Once again, many thanks for your help, Jo
<Glad to help. Neale.>
Re: Community Tank setup      8/4/18

Wow Neale, thank you for the advice, I have read several forums and this is the first clear response that makes sense!
<Ah, well, glad to have helped.>
I also had a look at the Apistogramma you mentioned, we are able to get Cockatoo cichlids here in NZ,
<Excellent. They're lovely fish. Slightly more delicate than the average community fish, but hardly difficult. The main thing is avoid very hard water and keep nitrate levels relatively low, ideally below 20 mg/l.>
and I think they are an amazing fish so I might do a bit more research and have a think about stocking those instead of the Bolivian Rams.
<Cool. They have an interesting social life, so you might try keeping more than one female alongside the male. Half coconut shells are really useful caves for them if you place them on the ground like a dome, but with a small mouse hole-shaped opening along the edge so the female can get in. The male only goes in to fertilise the eggs, but otherwise guards the territory while the female looks after the offspring. In fact the female can become very defensive, chasing or even attacking the male, so having multiple
females, each with their own coconut shell cave, works best for both sexes.
He'll fuss about over all the females' territories, and if you have some robust target fish in the tank, such as Danios, they'll distract him a bit, giving the females some peace. As a rule, the more different the males and females look, the more distinct their roles in the relationship. So unlike the broadly similar Rams and Bolivian Rams, where males and females can be hard to tell apart, there's no danger confusing male and female 'harem spawners' like Apistogramma!>
Once again thanks for your advice, Jo
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Community Tank setup      
Thanks once again for all the advice Neale. I am now chatting with one of the specialty fish shops in NZ about Rams and Apistos and what their breeders can supply,
<Of course if I lived in NZ, I'd be keeping some of your amazing native species.>
so will hopefully make a decision soon.
<Great! There are some other lovely Apistogramma species out there, some more delicate than others, and assuming very small, gentle tankmates, such as tetras, they can be used in community tanks.>
One last question, would Pearl Gourami's still be compatible in the tank with Apistos and a target fish such as Danio's?
<If the tank is sufficiently big (and deep) that the Apistogramma at the bottom and the Gouramis and Danios at the top don't meet, then sure, they're compatible.>
Cheers, Jo
<Most welcome. Neale.>

hello young honey Gourami sex      8/1/18
hello I was just wondering on an opinion of the sex of my newer honey Gourami
<This is not a Honey Gourami (Colisa chuna) but a Three-Spot Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus).>
I have one adult gold male and one adult blue female my breeding pair from the past great fish my Gourami s are very calm surprised by what people usually say I own a 55 gallon tank with mixed tropical fish but I love Gourami s so much I always have 3 or 4 females with one male but 2 of my
females recently passed of from old age r.i.p.. amazing smart fish so I have acquired 3 more young 2 gold and one blue and they look all females but I know it is hard to tell so young but my one honey seems to start looking leaner and longer and the past 2 days of healthy diet always his or hers pectoral grew very long like an adults and they are still a smaller fish so juts would like an opinion because I'm thinking they might be male now.
pictures attached it's hard to tell lmk and I'll take more pictures .
<Looks like a female to me. Males have longer dorsal fins than females, to the degree that the male's dorsal fin may almost touch the tail fin!
Females have shorter dorsal fins, and also tend to be more rounded about the belly. Cheers, Neale.>

Aquarium Driftwood     7/31/18
Hello Crew! Is cedar safe to use in an aquarium?
<Likely not, Renee; as a rule of thumb, best to avoid conifers (softwoods) because of the resinous nature of their wood. Certain hardwoods are toxic too, so unless you know explicitly that a certain wood is safe (beech and oak for example) then avoid using wood collected from the wild or otherwise. Indeed, there's a strong argument for only using cured wood bought from aquarium shops just to be on the safe side. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Aquarium Driftwood      8/1/18

Thank you!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Weird Event... cedar-like wild-collected driftwood      
Back on July 27, a friend and I had been down to the river collecting driftwood. I set the stuff I collected outside after I had cut one of my pieces to make it small enough to boil. But when I cut it, it smelled like
cedar. I did an internet search which indicated cedar is not safe for aquariums and sent the post to Neale on July 31st for confirmation.
<Indeed. Evergreen woods are best avoided.>
But my friend boiled hers and put it in her tank. Neale's response was to caution me about cedar and any other wood I found by the river, so I threw the stuff I collected out and called my friend who pulled hers out of the tanks and threw it out.
The wood had been in her tank for 4 days when I called her so she watched her fish (a BGK and 4 Rope Fish, and some Cory catfish (and, of course, the obligatory Bristlenose Plecos) and they were eating and behaving normally, so she didn't think there was a need for extra water changes. But she
called me last night and said that 3 of her Rope Fish, who had been fine that morning when she fed them, were dead when she got home from work.
<Not good news at all!>
I got another call from her this morning and she told me that the 4th Rope Fish, who had appeared normal when she found the dead ones last night, was dead this morning. But what is really strange is that her BGK and her catfish (Corys) are fine, look perfect, eating and acting normally. She tested her water and found no ammonia or nitrite and the nitrate was less than 30.
<Which sounds fine.>
She did a 30 percent water change after she found the first dead fish and that brought the nitrate down below 20. She has not made any other changes to her tank, her pH is 7, her kH is 5, the tank has been cycled and established longer than mine has (I think she said 3 years), and we're just trying to figure out what happened. Could the driftwood she put in have caused this?
<Yes. I speak from experience, having put some wood in an aquarium only to find all the cichlids dead within a few minutes. By contrast other species, including a catfish, survived, and that catfish is still with me, some 20 years on. With all that said, 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' isn't always true, so it's as well to be minded of other possibilities. Ropefish, being obligate air breathers, are very much more sensitive to airborne toxins (such as paint fumes, solvents, and industrial cleaners) that might be used in their surroundings.>
The stuff she had was completely dried out and she boiled it for an hour after she got it home.
<Contrary to popular belief, boiling doesn't make things safe. While it will kill bacteria and fungi, it can't be assumed to break down pesticides or natural resins present in the wood.>
She didn't cut hers so I don't know if she had gotten a piece of cedar or something else. She said there were no anomalies on the dead fish that she could see and they were alive and well when she left for work in the morning. If it was the driftwood, how could it seem not to bother the fish at all and then suddenly kill them. The driftwood was in her tank for only 3 or 4 days without a problem, and the wood had been removed from the tank for 3 or 4 days before the Rope Fish died. She's afraid for the rest of
her fish and I feel like dirt because I was the one who suggested we get the driftwood from the river in the first place.
<A lesson learned, I fear. Can I assume that all is well with the tank now?
If it is, I'd still suggest buying some fresh carbon and sticking that in the aquarium for a week or two, and then throwing that carbon out. It should absorb any residual chemicals in the water. She may want to carry on using new, fresh carbon for the next couple water changes too. Regardless, the damage seems to be done now, and the carbon (plus water changes) should have returned things back to normal. I'd wait a couple months at least before adding replacement Ropefish or any other sensitive fish species (loaches, rays, etc) so that the carbon and/or water changes can do their magic. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Weird Event        8/7/18

As you said, lesson well learned. We have both vowed never to put anything in our tanks that did not come from an aquarium supply store.
<Prudent. Also garden centre stuff rated as safe for ponds can be used, too. Often a lot cheaper.>
Thank you!
<Welcome. Neale.>

Re: Yellow-belly aqua terrapin     7/31/18
Thank you so much for your previous prompt reply. I greatly appreciate it.
I am writing again because I am so worried about my terrapin.
<Glad to help, and understand your worries.>
Although I am giving her the antibiotics for 2 weeks now as the vet specialist suggested, she doesn't seem to get better. The vet told me that after checking her blood results he definitely sees a kind of inflammation in her body but he cannot tell why she doesn't want to swim any more.
<Is she perhaps egg-bound? Have you asked the vet about that? It is quite common with female turtles. In short, whether or not the turtle mates, a female turtle will sometimes produce unfertilised eggs, a bit like a chicken does. It will be desperate to lay them. If they don't come out, they will rot, causing serious infection and eventually death. Getting the turtle to lay the eggs isn't too difficult though. All you need is a container with a mixture of earth and sand in it. Now, this might get complicated to set up, but the basic idea is this: change the aquarium you have so that you have a bit of water, the rocks, and then by the rock, a plastic food tub (or similar) containing the sand/earth mixture. The idea is that this sand/earth mixture is dry, warm, and easy to get to. Make sense? Don't worry that she won't have much swimming room. Not a problem for a few days or a couple weeks!>
It's not a respiratory problem, it is just an infection, could that make it impossible for her to swim? He told me to continue with the antibiotics but it's been 2 weeks now and they don't help with the swimming problem. She still has a great appetite and enjoys walking around the house and hiding behind dark safe places but when I put her in the aquarium (even without water at all !) she is panicking, she is acting like crazy.
<See, when females want to lay eggs, being in the water frightens them.
They want to be on land, because the eggs will "drown" underwater. Does that make sense?>
She eats every day in my bath tub (with a shallow water) and she is acting normal while she is eating. When she stops eating she is starting to panic! What else can I do? How long can she live outside the water?
<Indefinitely, so long as she drinks.>
It's been 2 months now that she cannot swim at all (and she doesn't bask either).
Please help me if you can.
can you see the video i have sent you?
<Yes, it helps a lot. The behaviour of this turtle is very similar to a female who wants to lay her eggs.>
please ask me if you need to know anything else...
thank you so much....
<Here's some further reading:
Your vet will understand what "egg binding" or "dystocia" mean, and this might help him/her pinpoint the problem. But see if the sand/earth mixture works first, and this will be a quick, inexpensive fix! Let us known what happens. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Yellow-belly aqua terrapin (Darrel, Mick, can you look at this video and check my reply)     7/31/18

Oh Neale thank you so much again for replying!
I am sorry but I forgot to tell you that she is not egg-bound... We are now in month July 2018, she was egg-bound (for the second time in her life) in April 2018 and she laid 12 eggs till end of June 2018. She was extremely stressed out (you cannot imagine how much !), I did create this container you mention but she didn't like it, I tried to get her out in the garden, she tried to dig a lot in the sand but eventually she didn't like it either so she laid all her eggs (not in a row: 4-5 different times) in the water, in her aquarium (like she had done the previous year because back then we didn't even know that she could be gravid!).
She couldn't lay her last 3 eggs (out of 12) so we took her to the vet and he made her a calcium injection so she did lay them so we thought that everything would be OK. After some days when we saw that she wasn't getting any better, in fact she got worse) and she couldn't swim at all we took her back to the vet and he made an X-Ray just to be sure she doesn't have more eggs.
The X-Ray showed that she didn't have more eggs, that's why we started the antibiotics to see if she will feel better (but she doesn't).
<Did the vet think a vitamin A or vitamin D injection might help?>
Do you believe that it is just STRESS because she had such a difficult period of time trying to lay her eggs and now she doesn't want to swim or even be near the water again? (only when she is eating she seems OK).
<There's certainly no need to force a turtle to swim if she doesn't want to.>
I am going crazy. Can I let her live like that for the rest of her life?
Feeding her only for 5 minutes in the bath-tab, drinking water and then letting her around the house, sleeping and hiding underneath the carpet and safe places in the house? For how long can she live like that?
<Some weeks, anyway. It's not a fun life for the turtle though. They should have at least the option of swimming, even if it's nothing more than a few inches of water that cools them down.>
If you tell me indefinitely, I will do that! but I don't believe she can because she is not even basking now. I've put the heating lamp on the floor but she doesn't prefer to go there under the heat. She likes to hide
under the carpet or other dark places in the house (but she seems to be OK when she does that..).
<She may be too hot. Is the water at room temperature or heated? In the "olden days" when I kept turtles as a child, it was common to put a heater in the water. We now understand this isn't ideal. It is much better the turtle can warm up on land, and cool down in the water. All reptiles need to have warm and cool areas that they can move between. This is how they regulate body temperature.>
I promise I will not bother you again. Can you please guess what it might be ?
<Honestly, running out of ideas. If a vet can't see anything obviously wrong, and antibiotics have been administered, then your turtle may simply be stressed or just plain nuts. Observation is probably the best move here.
Offer your turtle a range of foods, and a variety of places to sit, hide or swim. See what she does.>
Thank you so much.
<Good luck! Neale.>
Re: Yellow-belly aqua terrapin (Darrel, Mick, can you look at this video and check my reply)     7/31/18

Thank you very much Neale. I will follow your instructions and I hope she will not die from being out of the water for so long because it has been months since she is doing it...
<So long as she can drink and bathe, and doesn't overheat, she'll be fine.
In short: give her a tank with a low, shallow basin of water to cool down in, clean water to drink, and the heat lamp kept away from the cool water.
Terrapins and turtles will dry out quickly, which is why they need easy access to drinking and bathing water, even if they don't want to swim. Look up "dry docking" turtles in Google to see pictures of this sort of set-up.>
I will also tell the vet about the vitamin a and d injection....
<Good luck, Neale.>

Young blue 3 spot Gourami     7/30/18
hello I own a 55 gallon tank with 3 zebra Danios 1 goldfish comet and one gold male Gourami adult and one blue female Gourami adult and had recently bought 3 young gouramis female about 2.5 inches big. no problems in the water ph 7.1 no ammonia problems etc. two filters one sponge and one regular. water stays around 78 degrees.
<All sounds fine.>
I added my 3 new gouramis in slowly the way your supposed to and I've had them 2 weeks and one of the baby blues started swimming funny like backing up every few seconds while it's standing still if you get what I am saying
<Do you mean he is swimming normally, but uses his fins to swim backwards?
That's normal. If you mean he's staying on one place, but rocking side to side, sometimes with his pectoral fins clamped closely onto his sides, then that isn't normal. It's sometimes called "shimmying" or "the shimmies" and is a strong sign a fish is stressed.>
and then over the next few days a bulge appeared on its right side she didn't eat for a 2 days then started eating again only a little but I'm assuming because very hungry and today the bulge popped and poop was coming out brown from the bulge on her side
<You mean the 'poop' is something coming out of a wound on the side of the fish? This is extremely serious, and honestly, the fish is unlikely to recover. If the 'poop' is simply faeces coming out of the vent, that's normal, and fish do get constipated at times.>
and I quickly QTed her I can't find the condition online I've been searching for a remedy hoping maybe I can save her or if there might be a problem now for my other fish. help. please.
<If we're dealing with constipation here, then read here:
If the burst wound was in the muscle on the side of the fish, then I'm less optimistic. Quarantining certainly; excellent water quality; and above all effective antibiotics will be needed to have any chance of a wound this deep recovering. I have seen fish recover from muscle injuries like this, but it takes a lot of careful looking after.>
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: young blue 3 spot Gourami     7/30/18

thank you for the quick reply.
and as for the swimming it's weird she stays in one spot but slightly backing up not going anywhere her fins are no clamped on the sides or pectoral strings ate not clamped but her dorsal stays down but yes the bulge is on the side in between the fin and tail area
and it burst and the stuff coming out looks exactly like the color of food they eat
<This is very bad.>
a tanish red color it actually looks just like a long feces string but your right it's coming out of the muscle
<If you're lucky, it's just a pus or bacterial discharge of some sort.
As/when the wound heals, this should stop. But if the digestive tract has been punctured, and there's a steady flow of partially digested food out of the wound, this fish isn't going to heal. Not without help from a vet, anyway. If that's the case, I would honestly perform euthanasia here. Let me have you do some reading, here:
The clove oil method is cheap, effective, and much more humane than other methods used by aquarists.>
I assume on her side and she's is only swollen on the one side the bulge actually went down some but occasionally stuff still is coming out of the hole but not as much as yesterday. she is trying too eat but only getting a small flake or 2 down and spits the rest out and today is sitting at the bottom of the qt tank but not gasping for air.
<Do not overfeed. Indeed, it might be worth not feeding for a few days to see if that stops "stuff" coming out of the wound. If it is food coming out of the wound, as I say, euthanasia is the best choice.>
I had read online something that this might be that could be dangerous for humans if infected and contagious for my other fish
<Unlikely to infect you. This sort of wound honestly sounds opportunistic.
In other words, it was caused by either the environment or physical damage, and as such, isn't contagious. But if conditions in the tank are harmful somehow, other fish could indeed get sick.>
so I did a water change last night for my main tank and added marine salt hoping to kill any bacteria if that's the case.
<Salt will not kill bacteria.>
thanks so much for you insight I ha e been collecting Gourami s and other small tropical fish for 2 years now so I'm still quite new at the illnesses with different fish
<Glad you're enjoying the hobby. Fish diseases are usually caused by some problem with the tank, so it's always a good idea to review the aquarium in terms of size, filtration, tankmates, diet, etc. Bad luck sometimes comes into play, but a wise fishkeeper looks at their tank critically. Good luck!

Unwell Otocinclus (Bob, is this another Pima/Melafix failure?)<Seems likely. B>     7/30/18
Hi guys
I have an issue with an Otocinclus.
<I'll say. It looks as if he's lost his skin and flesh right down to the bone.>
It’s seems to be a fungus but I am not sure.
<Not so sure. I'd be thinking a bacterial infection in the absence of fluffy threads, and medicating accordingly.>
I have 5ftx3ftx2ft tank with plenty of algae to keep 18 of these guys busy (they are all fat and were healthy) about 6 weeks ago I purchased 10 to add to the 9 I already had in the tank. After a few days I noticed that one had a medium white spot on the back of its head, (not sure if the sick fish was from the old batch or new) I treated the tank with Pimafix antifungal remedy
<Unreliable at best.>

with slightly less amount then the directions on the bottle.
<Why less?>
Unfortunately after 5 days of treating the tank the little guy didn’t not make it.
<Indeed. Pimafix (and Melafix) suffer, in my opinion, in being unreliable. By the time it's apparent they're not working, the fish is so sick treatment has become much harder, if not futile. I'd also make the observation that the idea a "natural" product is safer than one from a laboratory doesn't really have any scientific basis, and neither product would be by go-to product given the abundance of tried-and-trusted organic dyes, antibiotics, and indeed even copper-based products that are known to work and have low (or at least predictable) levels of toxicity.>
After day 7 I did a 50% water change and everything seemed fine with the remaining 18 Otocinclus until today when I found a large female with the same white patch, at the most the patch has been one day on her.
<See, I don't think this was a good batch of Otocinclus. I feel they're underweight, and while you're probably doing your best for them, they may have been in the retail tank so long that they're already half-starved. Rickettsia-like bacterial infections are a known problem in Loricariids, exacerbating any underlying health issues. Again, antibiotics may help, and certainly offer more hope than Pimafix or Melafix.>
Ph 6.8
Temp is 28
Tank mates are cardinal tetras, rummy nose tetras, red rainbows, Apistogrammas, flying fox and Bristlenose catfish. The tank is medium planted and the other Otocinclus are healthy and belly’s always full.
The large female is fine (eating, swimming, full belly) beside the patch on her head.
I tried to separate her into a quarantine tank to treat but she became very stressed.
I have attached photos below although the photos do not show the “furry” parts of the patch well.
<Indeed, not apparent to me at all.>
Thank you in advance for your help.
<By all means treat for fungus alongside bacteria, but the latter would be my prime focus. I'd also beef up their diet considerable, certainly beyond mere algae, to include things like Hikari Algae Wafers and even very small morsels of fish fillet or shrimp. They're going to need protein and fat to bulk up quickly, and algae alone won't do that on its own. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Unwell Otocinclus      7/30/18
Hi Neale
Thank you for your quick response.
<You're welcome.>
The reason I under dosed mainly cause I thought the Otocinclus might be a little more sensitive, and it was only 10 ml.s under what was required.
<Unless instructed to do so by a vet, I would always use the full dose as described on the packaging. Simple as that.>
Can you recommend where I could get antibiotics to treat this problem?
<If you're in the US, antibiotics can be obtained from many pet stores or online. Products such as Kanaplex and Maracyn Plus are popular choices working well against many types of bacteria. Outside of the US it is normal for antibiotics to be prescription-only, so you either contact a vet, or else choose an antibacterial product sold in pet stores that won't be an actual antibiotic. I live in the UK, and recommend a product called eSHa 2000. It's inexpensive; doesn't seem to stress sensitive fish, even puffers; and best of all is reasonably reliable against both fungi and bacteria. So to some extent the recommendation will depend on where you live.>
Do you think I should continue with the anti fungal or start anti bacterial treatment?
<Yes, you can use anti-fungals (such as Methylene Blue) alongside antibiotics. Some antibacterial treatments will also treat fungi, so they're a good option too. I would avoid the 'generic' treatments such as salt or anything using tea-tree and similar oils, and focus on proper antibiotics (or at least reliable antibacterials) alongside trusted anti-fungals.>
Can I run treatment for all three or best to start with antibiotics then try to work on the others disease?
<See above.>
By underweight wouldn’t there full bellies mean they are eating well?
<Yes, but if they're eating low-protein food, such as algae, their bellies can be full, and they may have sufficient energy to swim about, but the fish don't actually grow much muscle and bone, or for that matter repair any underlying damage or infections. Let me stress that Otocinclus are aufwuchs, not just algae, feeders in the wild. They're consuming the "biofilm" on rocks containing green algae plus various tiny invertebrates (likely micro-crustaceans, rotifers, tiny worms, etc.) found therein. It's a difficult diet to replicate authentically in the aquarium, hence our reliance on a mixture of naturally growing algae plus some sort of protein-rich supplement, such as minced fish, frozen brine shrimp, etc.>
Most the time they belly’s look they are about to burst. I have started to add soft (boiled) zucchini to their diet as well.
<Again, while softened plant foods are an excellent supplement, plants are generally protein-poor, with notable exceptions such as cooked peas; fortunately, peas eaten by most fish if sufficiently hungry. At a pinch, you can also try cooked egg, especially hard boiled yolk, and old school food for baby fish. While very powdery, boiled egg yolk is extremely popular with pretty much all fish, and is protein-rich. So use a tiny bit at a time (feel free to save some in the fridge; it'll be good for a day or two) and watch your little fish go nut! Don't overdo it, not because it's toxic, but because unheated yolk can make the tank very cloudy if you use too much at once.>
Thank you again for you help
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Unwell Otocinclus      7/30/18

Hi Neale
I have added new photos it seems the issues has worsened in a short amount of time
<Does look fungal in these photos, yes. Would treat for bacteria and fungi together though, just to be sure. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Unwell Otocinclus     7/30/18
Hi Neale
<Aussie by any chance?!>
thank you very much for you help
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Unwell Otocinclus      7/31/18
That obvious ha ha
<It's an accent that carries into emails, perhaps?>
Yep Sydney
<Cool. My sister lives in Perth.>
Where in the UK are you?
<Berkhamsted. So nowhere interesting!>
<And to you, Neale.>

Re: Unwell Otocinclus; now Rainbowfish concern       8/3/18
Hey Neale
Have you ever used a product called Paraguard?
<Yes; the Seachem product? It's basically an old school aldehyde product, though not formaldehyde, which was really nasty stuff -- carcinogenic, even. Paraguard is fairly effective, but not tolerated especially well by some fish, so use with caution, in particular, upping aeration and maybe adding half the dose at first, and then the remainder some hours later, if the fish all look happy enough. It's reasonably well regarded as effective, and a viable alternative to antibiotics, though it's more a preventative-type medication, or something you'd use when a fish shows early signs of infection, than something you'd depend upon in a crisis once the fish has become riddled with bacteria or fungus.>
That Otocinclus didn’t make it but now I have one with it same thing on its tail
Do you know what’s on my red rainbow lip?
<Rainbowfish males can squabble, so it might simply be physical damage. But it might also be Columnaris, sometimes called Mouth Fungus, despite being a bacterial infection. Your Paraguard should be a good treatment here.>
Cheers mate
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Unwell Otocinclus       8/3/18
Cheers Neale
<Glad to help.>

Re: Few questions
Hi Neale
Hope all is well
<Can't complain.>
Mate these Otos����‍♂️����‍♂️����‍♂️����‍♂️����‍♂️����‍♂️
So this thing that attacks the back of their heads seems to be coming back..... everyone of them started with this mark on the back of their heads (as seen in the photo) then it turns into the fungus and I lose the fish.
Do you recommend using the API anti fungus and bacteria?
<I'm not aware of this specific product.
If you mean the API Fungus Cure alongside the API Fin & Body Cure, then yes, that'd be worth doing.>
I have the Bristlenose with eggs which I can separate from this tank
<Wise, but the eggs would probably survive. Even if they didn't, another batch of eggs would likely appear very quickly.>
As always I appreciate your help and advice
<Glad to help, but not convinced we've made much progress yet! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Few questions
Thanks Neale for your reply
Cheers mate
<No problem and good luck.>


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