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FAQs on Freshwater Diseases 3

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesFW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

FAQs on Freshwater Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional,
Social, Trauma, Genetic, Pathogenic (plus see Infectious and Parasitic categories below), Treatments 

Related FAQs: Freshwater Disease 1, Freshwater Disease 2, FW Disease 4, FW Disease 5, FW Disease 6, & Toxic Situations, Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseWorm Diseases, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Hello, hello, my Tiger Barbs are going oh!    11/27/06 Dear fish experts please help,    <Will try>   I tried to take pics of my poor poor tiger barbs...but none turned out well enough to bother. My tank is a 40 gallon, I have to <two?> very old golden gouramis and 2 old silver dollars and two new ones, a Plecostomus, and I had 6 tiger barbs, I'm down to 4...   I'm new at the whole aquarium thing I didn't know about water changes, I wished I had done more research.. <How about now?> anyhow my tiger barbs were great happy and brought so much life to my tank. after having them for 3 days I wake up to see 2 of them with their mouths and little faces all red and puffy and swollen. No white fuzz or any fin or body problems. but their mouths in very bad shape over night!   so I ran immediately to the pet store and told them my fishes faces looked terrible like they were falling off, they the women told me to put malefix <... Melafix? The Melaleuca "tea" leaf extract product from AP> in the tank and this would fix them up <No> and to do a water change before and after 25%. <Good idea> I did this 3 days go by. None of them die and they are still trying very hard to eat and seem pretty active, but no change and I notice now 4 have this. so I call a couple pet stores ask when this will start to improve tell them the situation, and they say a week or two, and read the same thing on line. (though I still keep hearing that they should have some white fuzz on them, and they must have been fighting - which neither is the case), anyhow I get worried and they look so horrid, that I risk the worst one to stress and take him and some water into the pet store to test it and look at him.   I have one guy look at my poor fave fish and make a disgusted face and get the other guy. He says to add Maracyn 2 <Better "shot in the dark" here> to the tank and keep doing the Melafix (that all the MelaFix was doing is keeping it from spreading to other fish)... <Not even this> he didn't tell me what my fish had and I had to chase him to ask questions...   so disappointed and 25$ later I get my fish home and they didn't do a water test he said there was no point and it happened because I didn't do a water change soon enough...which he was so condescending I wanted to cry I feel bad enough...   well I get home return the very ill fish and add the 8 tabs of Maracyn like the guy said, and an hour later my fish died. I knew the stress may get him... <Yes>   but then within the next 2 hours another one died, and now I have another I'm sure will be dead soon.   I'm sorry, but my question is, what do I do to try and save my poor 4 remaining tiger barbs, and what the heck is this and what can I do to save them, I'm so at a loss! I don't want this to happen ever again to any fish I get (which will be a long time).   please any info, thx so much, I hope you return my email, I need answers. Tammy <Well... let's start somewhere toward a beginning here Tam... You need to know, supply information re your water quality... pH, ammonia and more are really the likely root cause of your problem here. Please take the time to read on WWM re... starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Losing Fish and a Sick Angelfish  11/16/06 Hello, and thank you so much for providing this valuable resource. < Thank you for your kind words.> I've looked through the other queries and haven't seen anything exactly like this.   I bought a 4 inch tall angelfish (used) from a pet store along with a small blood parrot fish about a month ago for my 55 gallon tank that has been established now for nearly a year. The angelfish adapted immediately with a voracious appetite and I thought all was well.  About a week ago my 6 inch long Bala shark kicked the bucket for no apparent reason followed the next morning by (horror) my friend's foot long, 12 year old Pleco.  Both had been acting somewhat lethargic and the Pleco had stopped cleaning algae off the glass, though he would still eat the seaweed paper I put in for him.  I did an emergency 20% water change; nitrates were at around 20 ppm, pH of 7, and no detectable ammonia. So back to the angel, previously the third largest fish in my tank, now sadly the largest, has been swimming listlessly around the tank refusing to eat. (The remaining three lemon tetras, two Longfin rosy barbs and parrotfish appear totally unaffected).  I have moved the angel into a smaller 3 gallon Eclipse hospital tank (cringe I know it's pathetic but it is established) and am prepared to treat him for what my internet research tells me may be an internal parasite.  But what should I use?  He's not bloated in anyway, just refuses anything I offer from flakes, to frozen blood worms and brine shrimp.  He also occasionally appears a bit unbalanced, tilting to one side.  I'm really crazy about this beautiful gold angel and am already distraught at having lost my favorite fish from my now emptyish tank. What should I do? < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat the angelfish with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace or Clout in the hospital tank. Feed only once a day and only enough so that all the food is gone in two minutes.-Chuck> <<A bit more explanation offered... I would treat all; the suggested treatment protocol is intended to address the most likely pathogens... and the water change to further dilute metabolites that are likely mal-influencing your livestock. RMF>>

Mysterious Deaths   10/24/06 <<Hello, Jamie. Tom with you this morning.>> Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail. I have no clue where to start so I'll just try from the beginning.  I'll write in point form. <<This will work>> *My Aunt brought home four small (two inch-ish or less) "gold fish" and a little over a gallon size tank. The fish were not all gold. One had a black spot on it but other than that it was gold. Another was brown on its spine fading to silver towards it's belly. Another was almost all brown and yet another which was all gold. <<Jamie, my first admonition and I promise to be very redundant on this point is that the tank your aunt came home with is 30 times too small for one Goldfish and perhaps 60 times too small for four Goldfish.>> * Within a week or two, 3 of the 4 fish had died. My Aunt suggested that I overfed them which may be true. The water I used came from out tap which is delivered water that does contain chemicals. I added the solution that came with the kit. It is called "Goldfish Bowl Conditioner" which "Instantly Removes Chlorine", "Neutralizes  Toxic Ammonia" and "Detoxifies Heavy Metals". I added a    measured amount to the tank and put the fish into the tank. The water was within the range of room temp. <<No filtration, no cycling and conditioner added directly to the bowl. Your fish never stood a chance of surviving. Overfeeding, almost certainly, sped the process up via ammonia poisoning. (You'll learn about ammonia contamination when you research aquarium cycling and before you buy another fish, I hope.)>> * After a few days "GOLDY" the gold fish injured her eye, I think, and was going downhill fast. She was not swimming properly so I decided to put her into our pond to let her go naturally. <<Her eye wasn't injured. She was suffering from a condition generally referred to as Popeye which occurs when a fish is suffering from an internal infection/disease.>> * In the next week or two, two more fish died leaving me with one fish. * My aunt then bought me five new fish that are gold and white. They resemble Koi but are just inexpensive gold fish. She also bought an almost two-gallon tank for them to live in. On that same day she purchased two beautiful "goldfish" that have really pretty tails. They are slightly fatter and longer than the other "goldfish". <<Once again, I must insist that these containers are far too small for Goldfish to live in. Goldfish are messy in that they produce a great deal of waste. More so than many other fish. In no time whatsoever, the bowl becomes so polluted that the fish may as well be living in a sewer. Additionally, some varieties of Goldfish Commons and Comets, for instance grow, if properly housed and cared for, to 12 inches in length. Yes, they may be small now but they'll remain small in a tiny bowl until they die many years before they should. These fish needs lots of room.>> * Again, I made the water room temp. and added the conditioner. I have slowed down to feeding them once a day and sometimes once every other day. I feed them regular flake food. <<A step in the right direction regarding feeding though you need to research the diet that Goldfish need to thrive. Flake food is okay but their diets need variety, as well.>> * Recently one of the Koi looking fish died. I had noticed that she wasn't doing well. She would just sit at the bottom or float near the top. I put her in a separate container and kept a close eye on her. She didn't eat and would float at the top on her side most of the time. When I poked her (gently to see if she was responsive) she would swim to the bottom the let herself float to the top again. Eventually she died. <<Sadly predictable>> * I awoke to one of my pretty-tailed fish dead one morning. I have no idea at the cause. My aunt said that it looked like it's stomach was a bit bloated so she researched a little and thought that maybe it was constipation. She told me to feed them peas without the skins on them. I didn't. (For lack of responsibility is my guess. I just didn't feel the need or want to do it. I now wish I had.) <<The fishs life was in your hands and you guess you lacked responsibility? Frankly, Im certain of it, Jamie.>> * Today yet another fish of mine died ( the total now is :-(  six) Over the past few days it seemed like he was losing his color but I didn't worry to much about it. I just found him laying at the bottom of the tank. I couldn't see him so I lifted out the artificial rock/bridge thing-y and then he floated to the top. I am not sure if he    was trapped underneath the rock but I doubt it. * I have no idea as to what the cause of these number of deaths are. I am hoping you can help me. <<I/we can if you promise not to purchase another single fish until you've done your research. This means researching the proper cycling of an aquarium before you even consider adding a fish to it. It means doing your homework and learning about the size of a tank and the water conditions that your fish require. It means learning about proper filtration and how to maintain the filter properly so you don't wipe out the beneficial bacteria that live there. All of this information, and much, much more, is available right here on our site.>> And one final question. I tried feeding Romaine lettuce to the fish today. The pretty- tailed fish ate some of it but I also notice him sucking it in and then spitting it out. Do you think that the lettuce wasn't chopped finely enough? <<Probably wasn't to its liking, is all.>> Thank you for any help. Jamie in British Columbia <<If there's something, anything, that isn't clear to you while your reading through the material on the site, please, don't hesitate to ask us. And, for what its worth, Goldfish aren't quite the beginner fish that most folks seem to think they are. Easily cared for when you have the right information, though. Tom>>

Mystery Disease - 10/22/2006 Hello. <<Hello, Gabriel. Tom with you.>> I have had a 10 gallon aquarium for several years, but about 6 months ago, I had to restart it because of a mass die-off. It bounced back and is fine now. At around the same time, I started a 20 gallon tank stocked with 2 platys (male + female), a pair of guppies, a pair of zebra Danios, a male dwarf Gourami, and a Corydoras catfish. Now, (about 2 months later) I noticed-first on the male platy, a little bit on the female, and on a goldfish (separate tank but they share tools and water)- the same symptoms. It started as a ring of skin right behind the platy's head that turned white seemed to peel back. The ring filled in with white and began to shrink (good sign?). At about the same time, the same symptoms have appeared on some of my other fish. I don't know if it spread or they all got it simultaneously from some environmental factor. <<Gabriel, while I haven't heard of a problem of this sort manifesting itself exactly in the way you describe, peeling skin on fish is often associated with a pH drop or crash. In a nutshell, the water goes from being more basic to acidic in a very short period of time, sometimes in less than 24 hours.>> This all happened at a horrible time because my female guppy gave birth and I now have 5 little baby guppies who are probably the most susceptible to it. The ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all normal, but in the goldfish tank, the water is slightly cloudy, and in the 20 g tank, the pH is a lot lower than it should be, but at my local pet store, I was told not to use pH altering chemicals and that it would go away on it's own. <<I agree that using pH altering chemicals would be ill-advised but disagree that it will go away on its own. Increase the regularity of your water changes and consider a little scientific experimentation by monitoring a sample of your tap water closely over a period of days. If you note a sudden drop in pH in your sample, you can rest assured that the same will likely happen in your tanks. Some municipalities provide water that is better buffered against drops such as these than others. Likewise, the pH levels provided are not always uniform from one period of time to another. I recall one fellow whose pH levels, from the tap, ranged from 6.8 to 8.0. Yow!>> This is probably coincidental but the female platy is very fat and I couldn't find a gravid spot, but she acts normal and has no dropsy-like symptoms. I have not been able to find anything that sounds like what my fish have, so any help would be greatly appreciated. <<The new consensus regarding pH is to go with what you have from your tap and avoid toying around with it as long as it remains stable. Acclimating fish to pH levels outside of their norm is considered far less detrimental, in the long run, than possibly setting ones self up for unwanted, potentially fatal, crashes. Best of luck, Gabriel. Tom>>

Sick or Gravid? - 10/21/2006 First of all, love your website, lots of info and great questions and feedback. <Thanks!> I have a 20 gallon fish tank.  Use r/o water, been setup for just over two months, everyone (zebra Danio, neon tetra, black neon, couple guppies) has done very well and thought I had no problems. I do have a concern now, however, with the Oto. I have only one and was worried that maybe I hadn't enough algae growth for it, so I add a slice of blanched zucchini, leave it for a day and have given it at the closest every 2nd or 3rd day, as I still want to get the tank cleaned. Don't know if it's a male or female, but 'she' was very diligent and was doing a great job. However, as of late she has gotten a large belly, when she's been on the glass, it looks like her belly kind of has rings like a bull's-eye on it, like maybe rings from stretching or something...and sometimes, just balances on things, don't notice her cleaning like she was.  I only have the one, can they have eggs without a male around?  Also, how long is gestation? This has been for quite a while now.  I had noticed she was attached to an underwater diver bubbler I have and I could notice something swaying in the current... like a piece of waste from her without the brown color, just clear or white, like an empty poop.  It was about an inch long,   Another day couldn't see it on her anywhere...then saw it again but quite a bit longer .... 5" or so.  Haven't seen it since and she is still large. Any advice? Tamara <Although many female fish can become gravid without a male, the clear poop is a sign on an internal infection. This is a delicate fish when it comes to meds. I would pull her to a algae free tank and feed only medicated flake food. I don't think medicating the water will help. And please, never medicate the main tank. Don>

Betta question / can fish get cancer?  10/7/06 <<Good morning. Tom with you.>> Can fish get cancer? <<Short answer? Yes.>> I've had my Betta since May 2002. <<A long time in Betta-terms...>> He's had a normal appetite and behaviors, but overnight, between his front side fin.. in front of the fin and face (the part they can flare out) there's a huge lump on the one side.   <<I would venture that this is not cancerous in nature but more likely the result of an infection/abscess. Consider that cancer, in overly simple terms, is an irregular/abnormal growth of cells. The host's body develops (ironically) additional blood vessels to feed, and remove waste, from these new cells. (When the "waste" removed from the growth contains cells capable of duplicating similar growths elsewhere in the body, the cancer is categorized as malignant. If not, it's considered benign.) The point here is that such a development is unlikely to occur "overnight" while a pathogenic infection very well might produce the lump you've observed.>> He's swimming upright, and eating, but appetite not as good as yesterday/normal. He's swimming less (but if I didn't feel good, I probably wouldn't either) he moves okay and his color is still vibrant. With a sudden huge lump this got me wondering if a fish can get cancer, or if he has another disorder in light of his age. <<I would recommend treatment with a product such as Maracyn-Two, which is effective against internal infections. Treatment is best-performed in a hospital tank but I would guess that your Betta is kept alone so this isn't as critical as it would be in a community environment. Follow the directions very closely and pay attention to any collateral effects such as cloudy water that might accompany its use. Might answer some questions for you in advance.>> Thanks <<You're welcome and good luck with your pet. Tom>>

Wild Fish Introduces Wild Diseases  9/9/06 Hello! I've read many questions from others on your site in the past, but never have had to write my own before. Though you have vaguely similar cases this time, I believe mine is too different to go by the advice of others'. In the past 2 months, I had introduced a 'lake fish' (very small, less than the length of a penny) into my community tank. Just in the past 2 weeks, he died. I realized then the horrible mistake that I might have made, by introducing a parasite-ridden lake fish into my tank. After the lake fish's death, I started noticing my fish 'flashing' that is scratching against my tank decor and plants. I consulted my local go-to fish expert, and she gave me QuICK Cure, but told me to add half as much as recommended on the bottle. I did so for about 4 days, and the itching, I believe, ceased. I lent the QuICK Cure to my boyfriend for use on his tank, and that same day the itching reappeared. So I started treatment again. My 55 gallon tank currently consists of 4 angelfish (a marble, blushing, pearl, and silver veil-tail), a traumatized parrot (he was in a tank with Oscars, and is very timid), and a black balloon molly. I know it's a strange mix, but I started out with balloon mollies in my 10 gallon, and while the others passed away, I guess it wasn't her time yet. So she made the switch to my 55 gallon. Then, last night, I realized that my fish were noticeably much less interested in food (bloodworms, cichlid pellets, and flakes) than they normally were. I thought maybe it was because I fed them a couple hours later in the day, and for sure by the next morning they would return to their norm. I also realized my balloon molly was swimming a little funny, not very noticeably, but I watch my fish a lot. I made the prediction that she would die last night or today. I woke up this morning and she was dead in one of my plants (Amazon sword). Also, my fish were still very unenthusiastic about eating. Then, I noticed that my blushing and marble angelfish have red lines where their side fins attach. And the fish have all been uncharacteristically crowding on the right side of the tank where the filter and heater are. It's baffling, please help! My pH is 7.2, and I do 20% water changes weekly. Now I am very nervous that half a dose of QuICK Cure isn't enough... and I'm terrified that my other fish are in danger. I do not know, however, if it might have been my molly's time to go? Please help I am very nervous and very attached to my fish! < You have bacterial infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace or Kanamycin as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Fish Dying No Clues  - 09/02/06 Dear Chuck! Good Evening!  I am sorry to bother you yet again, something is terribly wrong, I have spent the last few hours searching your site, and I am not sure what is happening.  I found the missing fish this morning, dead, and it appeared to be covered with white fuzzy stuff, when I got home early this evening, Benjamin was also dead, as were two other Platies, the last three did not have the same white stuff on them, I did a little less than 50% water change, and added two teaspoons of salt, with the conditioner and cycle, do you think it is Velvet? or Ick? < The new fish probably introduced a new parasite to the tank. This is why we recommend quarantining all new fish. The white fuzzy stuff is a fungus that only attacks dead or dying tissue and not a problem for healthy fish.> It is happening so quickly, the other fish seem fine, but so did the ones that are dead now?  I realize it is a disease, or fungal infection, what would you suggest I be doing to treat the tank, if anything right now?  Thank you for your time and your thoughts, Charlie <Before blindly treating the tank we need to identify the problem. Look at the rest of the living fish very closely for signs of disease. Clamped fins, white spots, sunken bellies are all signs that something is going on. Digital photos so sick fish also help with the diagnoses. If photos are not possible than a detailed description of what you are seeing will help.-Chuck>

Mysterious Fish Deaths   8/31/06 Hi Crew. I'm really hoping you might help me solve a problem. I have a 500 ltr system which appears to running smoothly. All centralized. Filtration seems to be fine. The nitrites and ammonia levels read 0 ppm and nitrates are low at maybe 10-20ppm. However I seem to be losing the odd fish for no apparent reason. There seem to be no tell tale signs.. One min. they are fine.. then one is dead. The only thing I can think of short of some weird disease is that in the top tanks there seems to be microbubbles. Not in all of them only the ones where the tap does not agitate the water, i.e. where the water flows smoothly out of the tap. This changes each day, might be one tap one day and another the next. I just wondered whether these microbubbles could be the cause of death? I.e. them getting stuck in the gills of the fish or something. One that died did have a few bubbles on his face that came off when he was alive after I moved him with a net, he didn't seem ill at that point.. was happy as any of the others. Some of the fish are opening and closing their mouths a fair amount.. but not what I could really call gasping at all and certainly not at the surface etc. Any suggestions or advice? I seem to be losing one fish a day/ two days and that's not good I think. Although this may be because of stress after they came in. I had a shipment of a lot of fish but the water has checked out fine so I don't think it is an overload problem. Is it common place to lose a certain percentage of fish whenever you have a bath in? Thanks Rob < New fish that have been transported a great distance usually are exposed to high ammonia levels. This ammonia fries the gills and fins of the fish. The damaged gills are no longer able to absorb the same amount of oxygen as normal gills and the fish always struggle to get their breath. Another problem could be gill flukes. Isolate a tank with the problem and treat with Fluke-Tabs, then see if they get better. Ich or ich type of parasites could also be involved. Sometimes you can't see them but they attack the gills and cause problems. Clout would take care of both the flukes and the ich. It is worth a try. In the future I would recommend that you quarantine any new fish and correct any disease problems before you place them in an established system.-Chuck>

Fish Flashing and Stringy Feces in Some Tanks at LFS - Is this Common for LFS's or Should I Buy Elsewhere?   8/2/06 Hi Crew, <Cindy> I have been fish keeping African Cichlids a little over 3 years now.  I've grown from one 50 g. tank to a total of 6 tanks.  I get my livestock from a local high end independent retailer.  As my hobby has grown, I find myself spending more and more time at my LFS buying supplies.  I'm there once or twice a week.  I enjoy looking at the fish and visiting with the fish guys while I'm there.  Every time I've been there, over the past 6 months, I've noticed problems in a few of their fish tanks.  I'll see several tanks that have fish flashing, maybe a tank with fish rocking, and I always see a few fish here and there with stringy feces more than triple their size that won't seem to detach.  Is this common of all fish stores? <Way too common, yes... There are myriad, continuous health issues in retail and wholesale settings in the aquatic livestock business... too much "mixed" life that goes un-rested, un-quarantine, untreated and mis-treated...> Am I just becoming more aware, or should I be looking for another store for future livestock? <I strongly encourage you to "shop around", to take on all aspects of providing preventative measures wherever you purchase new livestock> I see this store occasionally take back large fish that have outgrown someone's tank and immediately after temperature acclimation, release them into tanks with breeder livestock.  I realize they only have a limited number of backroom quarantine tanks, but I would expect fish coming from someone's unknown tank conditions to be quarantined before introduction to other livestock purchased from distributors. <This source of trouble pales in comparison with the weekly coming and going of shipped wild and distant-cultured stocks... there are seasonal and permanent pandemics that one can identify in our interest...> I heard it can even be dangerous for a LFS to mix livestock from multiple distributors. <Yes>   The fish from one distributor have been exposed to and built immunity to certain bacteria while the fish from the other distributor have been exposed to different bacteria. <One way of viewing, stating this... it's more "their" systems that have expressed immunity if you will... akin to "A boy in a bubble"... Realize that almost to a one, more than 100% of all the stock goes through any given wholesaler/jobber/distributor's systems weekly...>   When you combine the fish, and the bacteria they carry, you risk illness as they cross contaminate each other with bacteria they have no built in resistance to. <Nor much chance/opportunity to develop/acquire such> What should someone look for when selecting a good LFS to purchase their livestock? Cindy <The bazillion dollar question. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above... Much to state here, and thank you for this prompting. Bob Fenner>

Several diseases??? I'm clueless!!   7/26/06 Hi, my name is Kathryn and I live in Texas. I recently began keeping fish and thought I had done pretty well on researching species and diseases and water treatments and so forth, but apparently not!   This may be hard for me  to explain but I will try to keep it short. I have a 72 gallon bowfront aquarium that has been in use since May 20ish.   Livestock is: 5 gold Gouramis 4 blue Gouramis 5 zebra Danios 3 Kribensis cichlids 3 Dalmatian mollies 4 sunburst? mollies 6 gold barbs 6 cherry barbs 1 pictus catfish 2 albino Corys 1 dojo loach 1 flying fox 1 spotted catfish 6 small guppies 1 male Betta     I know this is a lot of fish, but they are all  young and still fairly small, the largest being a gold Gourami at 3 1/2 in., as  they grow I will move some to another tank accordingly.     I have an undergravel filter set on low and a  Emperor bio-wheel for filtration, and have always kept the water treated with  stress coat and aquarium salt (1 tbs. per 5 gal.) About a month ago I  successfully treated a severe ich outbreak by slowly raising the salt levels over a period of three days and maintaining that for a little over a  week. Since then I have continued to keep a bit more salt than recommended in  the tank. (about an extra 1/2 cup for the entire tank). Well now it seems I have a few problems.... <Mmm, yes... the salt... will not "treat" indefinitely... has its own drawbacks> I noticed that both the loach and fox began glancing rather severely a couple weeks ago. a few other fish have glanced slightly, but not much. Now several of my other fish, the Dalmatians and the pictus <This catfish is quite sensitive to most dye and metal medications> and a couple  Gourami have bulging eyes. Then the loach <Ditto> and fox pretty much slowed down  on the glancing after a filter change, but my fox has what appear to be nicks or  tiny wounds on his back, about 3 or 4 of them. (possibly bites????, <Possibly> maybe  bacteria?) <Doubtful, but possible> and when he rests his dorsal fin stays clamped. And just a few days  ago I noticed the loach has what appears to be a brown mole on his underside,  about an inch past his mouth on his stomach. also little brown spots on his  body, but I don't know if those were already there or not. Could any of this be  salt burn?   <Of a sort, yes... osmotic stress...> I bought some tetracycline but am hesitating to use it since I  don't know for sure what is best for my fish!!!!     <Is not> All fish are eating and breathing normally. PLEASE HELP I'M SO LOST!!!! I appreciate your time and patience so much!!! Kathryn G. <"When, where in doubt; water changes"... Please read here re FW Ich: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm the linked files above, and elsewhere on WWM re salt use... You have a mix of organisms that are not entirely "very" compatible in terms of temperament and water quality type... Much to relate re... You would do well to read up re each of the listed (and future purchases) requirements, compatibility. Bob Fenner>
Re: Several diseases??? I'm clueless!!   7/27/06
I just wanted to thank you for the quick response! I am very relieved that it does not appear to be any illness I was unaware of. I will lower the salt levels <Good> and bump up my water change from 10% weekly to 20% and see what happens. <Even better> I'm very glad I checked with you before ignorantly dumping medications into my  aquarium. <I as well> This web site has been a great help to me as a beginner in fish keeping (occasionally it is a bit hard to navigate, the archives can be daunting) <And will become more so with time... I'm a feared... Perhaps the intuitive software that's a-coming will make all this less so... Do wish I could do something akin to a/the "Vulcan mind-meld" with folks... in time...> but  the most informative I have found so far. <Ahhh!> Thank you again for your time and for providing a link to make my search much easier. Kathryn G. <We become one my friend. Thank you. BobF>

Is it velvet? stress? or something else?  7/14/06 Hello, <Hi there>         I will make this brief as I know you are all busy. I apologize if this is covered somewhere but I have read all morning and I'm still not sure what to do! <Oooh, I can't wait, literally, for the vocal interface twixt these devices... To heck with keyboards... and much more intuitive "search tools"... can you?>         Set up is       29g freshwater                             whisper 30 power filter                             temp usually 78 to 80F (82F now)                             salted minimally (about 2 tablespoons) <? For what reason, purpose?>                             running with fish for 8 weeks                             ammonia    0                             nitrite    0                             nitrate barely 20                             GH  150                             KH   120                             pH    7.8                             1 female rainbow platy, 2 (1M 1F) pot bellied mollies, 2 Cory cats, 3 white skirt tetras <These last don't "like" salts>                             3 weeks ago we lost a female platy to dropsy. <Symptom... what cause?> That was when I added the salt and started presoaking the food. <Ahh, I see> I have never added anything except that salt and Cycle <Not a big fan of this Hagen product... almost never functional> to my tank. The tank has been cleaned and had 40% <Mmm, too much/%... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm "and the linked files above".> water changes weekly since the cycle completed...last time was yesterday.                             Finally to my problem. My platy is glancing on the substrate and plants and this morning I noticed her rubbing against the mollies as well. I can't see anything on her but she does have a slight gold cast. I noticed that weeks ago and thought it was just her coloring. She is mostly white with black fins and tail and a small amount of red orange on her tail. The white part of her body shows blue green iridescence in the light and has a yellow cast otherwise. My point being that I can't tell if she has this "dusting of gold" that indicates velvet. She defiantly <And definitely?> has no white spots and she is eating and acting normally other than the glancing and I've noticed that she has spent a little more time than usual very near the top of the tank just hanging out, not gasping or anything. The tetras are fairly new and frisky and I thought she may have just been a little stressed by them... though it seems they were trying to school with her more than harm her. They really only nip each other. Also she dropped some fry about 2 weeks ago. I found 9 so far,  8 are in a small plastic breeder that floats in the tank and the other I found yesterday when cleaning and couldn't catch the little bugger! There could be more I seem to find some every time I vac. I'm not sure how many she had we were away when she had them. Interestingly, the 2 I found yesterday that have been in the tank are almost twice the size of the ones in the breeder tank...which brings me to the second part of my problem. I set up a tank yesterday for the fry. A 6g Eclipse carbon pad, bio wheel, etc. I figured I'd put the fry in it when it was finished cycling and later use it for a QT / hospital tank. I added Cycle, <Sub BioSpira for this... trust me> a silk plant, a small cave, and a few handfuls of substrate from my main tank to get it started. <Oooh, good move> When I noticed the platy glancing last night I raised the temp in the small tank to 84F and figured I'd watch her for more symptoms thinking, I could always put her in the new tank if things got bad for her. It is not ideal I know, but at least I could protect the other fish and the fry. I'm sorry I'm not keeping to my promise of being brief. I will conclude. <Let's wrap this sucker up!>                     This morning, when I noticed her rubbing against the mollies I got nervous and salted the small tank excessively ( 2 tablespoons) and put her in it. I am monitoring her closely as well as the water chemistry( right now it is the same as the large tank). She seems very relaxed now, swimming regularly and checking everything out. Also she has not glanced once since she was put into this tank!!! So, what is the problem? <Mmm... very likely "environmental stress"... too much change... too often...> With no other symptoms I don't want to medicate and wouldn't anyway until I know for sure what the deal is. Could it be velvet? <Could, but highly unlikely... This protozoan really "whacks 'em" if present... all would be dead within a few hours to days> Is the goldfish yellow cast normal for her coloring or is that velvet? <Much more likely the former> Could she just be recovering from the stress of birthing or the tetras? <Yep> Does glancing always mean a problem? <Nope. Some is "natural"... to be expected... akin to our scratching...> She has been in the small tank for about 6 hours and has eaten and is acting normally now... no clamped fins, no rapid breathing. I first noticed the glancing right after the water change could that be what caused it? <Oh yes!> My inclination is to keep her in the small tank and watch her to see if anything develops but I am very concerned that it is not cycled. <Mmm, the moved gravel should "do it"... along with careful, low feeding> I don't want the stress of bad water chemistry to make her sicker, but I also don't want to risk losing all of my fish. She is a beautiful fish and one of my first, losing her would be awful but to lose her and all her fry much worse.                 The only other thing is that I noticed some small white buggy things swimming near the bottom of the small tank. <Don't worry re these either> They are the size of a pin head. I noticed them because this tank is mostly bare and I was looking so hard at my platy they caught my eye. They could be in the large tank too but would be much harder to see on the substrate. I read somewhere that they are copepods (sorry not sure of that spelling) and actually good for the tank as they eat brown algae and fish like to eat them. They sure make good fry food anyway. So, maybe they are not what I think they are and worthy of note. <Are worthwhile to mention, and no problem> My longwinded brief problem may be nothing more than me being paranoid, but I just would rather be safe than sorry. Thank you in advance for any help/ info you can give, Heidi <Bob Fenner>

Re: High Mortality Rate, FW, poss. Hexamita/Octomita  - 07/03/04 Thank you for responding so quickly.  The treatment we used contained was Parasite Clear Tank Buddies which includes the following ingredients: Praziquantel; N-[[(N-Chlorophenyl) amino] carbon 1]-2,6-difluorobenzamide; Metronidazole; Acriflavine. <Correct> Is Metronidazole different from Metronidazole/Flagyl? <Mmm, no. This is the same compound... two different names> Could part of our high death rate being caused by not changing the carbon filter enough? <Not really likely... perhaps a small contributing factor> We change it about every 2-3 months.  However, our water quality always seems to be good. - Molly <How to state this... There are many such qualities for which there are no tests, little practically known... re their effects alone, in synergism with other factors... Bob Fenner>

Bending fish  6/29/06 Dear Crew What causes spinal bending in fish (lordosis)? I have rainbow trout in a large outdoor pond and they can have bends like boomerangs. Thanks Jon <Such bending can be a result of poor nutrition, infectious disease (e.g. Myxosoma... "Whirling"...), even stray electricity in the water... Other lesser "causes" include aspects of water quality, genetic anomalies. If you intend to consume these fishes, or enter into this body of water, I would have this investigated. Bob Fenner>

Exploding fish.... News at Eleven! 6/26/06 <<Tom here.>> I'm fairly new to fishkeeping and sadly not doing well. So far, two of my fish have died of, well, they exploded. Just without warning. I have no idea what's going on or whether it's my fault... <<Hmmm... (Not going to touch this one! Oh, I would but, then I'd get fired...) Tom> :)>>

Anchorworm? Reading? Incompatible FW mix, poor advice   6/24/06 Please help!   I recently purchased 3 young red balloon platys from the local pet shop (I also bought 3 black mollies and 3 cardinal tetras and have them all together in the same 10g tank). <... these three types/species of fishes "like" very different water quality... they're therefore not (very) compatible> When I put them into my quarantine tank I noticed that two seemed healthy and one had a whitish worm-like growth protruding from the underside of its fin. All 3 ate well and appeared happy but then 1 died 2 days later.   The fish with the protrusion is still alive but today seems sluggish.   I asked the petstore about it and they told me that it was common and to pull it out with tweezers. <?! common?> This is a small fish and I am unsure how to proceed. <This will/would likely kill the fish>   Do you recommend the same thing? Should I separate this fish from the others? Will my tank need any special treatment?   Thank-you   Renay <... Please go to our homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ See the Google search tool/tray at the top left? Put in the term "Anchorworm", and read... And put in the common name of these fishes and read. Bob Fenner>

Dead Three-spot Gourami (Bob Fenner) Hey, I'm still alive!    5/28/06 Thank you for the quick response, Mr. Fenner! <Welcome> From what I understand then, instead of trying to 'treat' my fish that look sick, I should first make sure I know what's wrong with them? Because that's excellent advice and I feel like an idiot! <Not an idiotic statement at all... Au contraire! Yes to the very important steps of careful observation and patience> I do have another question though: If I had left him alone to adjust, would it have been likely he would have survived? <Not able to state/guess... many such problems do resolve themselves on their own. It is my estimation that much more livestock is "bumped off" than dies, by "mis-medication", treatments by well-meaning aquarists, than by "natural causes". Bob Fenner>

Boatloads of problems, trying to cope! Guppy disease/s, Neon Bloating, Imported fishes and Flagyl  - 05/22/2006 Hello, <Hi there> Wonderful site you have here.  Thank you for the resource.  I have combed it thoroughly over the last little while and have had some successful results with other problems, but now I am facing a few fish troubles I can't resolve and desperately need some help. Unfortunately, this may be a big one as  I have two tanks; one 96 Litre and one 54 Litre tank.  Both are planted.  The relevant parameters for both tanks are: 96L: pH 7.5 NitrItes: 0 ppm NitrAtes: 12 ppm KH: 6 dH GH: 9 dH Temp: 24 C 54L: pH 7.5 NitrItes: 0.3 ppm NitrAtes: 12 ppm KH: 6 dH GH 10 dH temperature: 26 C <No ammonia in either/both I take it> I'll discuss the large tank first.   In the 96L tank I keep guppies, platys, Corys and apple snails (Pomacea bridgesii).  I have noticed that the guppies have started flashing.  It is more than the "once per second" rule.  This has continued for about a week now.  I have not treated with malachite green (snails in the tank) nor have I added aquarium salt.  I have been observing the behaviour, as I mentioned, for about a week.  As of yet, I have seen no sign of ich, velvet or any visible "hangers-on" parasites.   <Might be environmental...> First question: I am wondering what the flashing could be about?  I think the water parameters are quite alright and I have no visible evidence of parasites. <For what you list test wise and can see, yes>   Consequently I am baffled.  Also, if needed, could I add aquarium salt to the tank even though it contains snails and Corys?  If so, at what concentration? <Mmm, not much salt... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm> Second issue: I purchased 3 brilliant yellow guppies to attempt to "rescue" them as they were a little under the weather at the fish shop. Guppy #1 swims in one position at the top of the tank and exhibits white stringy faeces.  Fins are not really clamped per-se, but maybe a little.  He will swim for hours in the same position at the top of the water, other than that, there is no visible sign of problems with him.  Abdomen does not look particularly bloated.  He will not take food.  Wondering if this is simple constipation or something more sinister in the works? <Is possible there is a problem here... perhaps protozoal... that might call for a one-time treatment with Flagyl/Metronidazole...> Guppy #2 has improved over the last day.  He has what looks like a tiny red blood blister on his tail.  There is also a split in his tailfin.  He is now swimming with the other guppies in the tank and eating a little bit.  He also had what looked like an abrasion on his head.  I treated him with Sera Baktopur for this (30 minute dip upon arrival and a couple of successive 30 min dips).  Should I be doing something further for this guy? <Not at this juncture. More such exposure may be more harm than beneficial> Guppy #3 I am the most concerned about.  He has what looks like blood under his scales near his head.  He hangs out on the bottom of the tank quite a lot - he actually "rests" on the bottom.  Occasionally he will swim up near the top of the surface and stay there for 20 min.s or so.  Will not take food.  In all cases, he looks like he is gasping, not super-heavy gasping, but I can tell this is what he is doing through comparison with other fish.  I think over the last 24 hours the red spot has decreased in size (hard to tell exactly), but he still maintains the laying on the bottom posture.  Wondering if this is hemorrhagic septicemia?  If so, what do you advise treatment with?  I am in Switzerland, so if you can suggest a Sera brand product that would be great (seems to be all they have here), otherwise I will need a chemical name. <How to make this known... Poecilia raised in the orient (where the majority originate now-a-years, are often plagued with such complaints... Quarantine, some prophylactic measures are absolutely required... and should be S.O.P. by the trade/wholesaler-importers... but are rarely done... There are seasonal huge guppy die-offs on import, distribution... in the Spring, Fall...> On to the 54 litre tank.   In this tank, I keep a Betta, 11 neon tetras (the Betta does not bother or interact with them), 2 cherry barbs, two albino Corys, a small Pleco (was labeled "silure bleu" in the store) <Unfamiliar with this> and two freshwater shrimps.  The problem in this tank is with the tetras.  When I feed them flake (Tetra brand) their abdomen bloats up considerably.  Three tetras in particular develop swimming troubles.  They angle downwards about 50 degrees and swim towards the bottom. <Do switch to non-dried food for a few weeks...> They seem to "float up" and repeat this type of bobbing behaviour.  It is clear that the fish have buoyancy problems. <A bit more than this...> After about 4-5 hours the bloating goes down and they return to normal.  This has been going on for about 5 days now.  Feedings are done more than once per day and in very tiny quantities.  They may get some excess bloodworms that the Betta does not consume, but I am careful about over-feeding.  NitrItes are elevated in this tank because initially I thought the tetras may have had an internal infection and treated the tank with Baktopur. <See below> I suspect it impacted the biological filter resulting in the nitrIte rise.   <You are correct here> I am doing water changes to keep these down and have added a product called "Nitrivec".  The best I can seem to do at this point (70-75% water change) is to get them to 0.3 ppm. My question would thus be: what is going on with the tetras?   Could this be a food issue or is it an internal anatomy problem? <Both> They were having this problem before the elevated nitrIte levels, so it is seemingly unrelated to that. A whole host of problems, I know.  If you can shed some light on even a few of them I would be most grateful! Regards to the entire WWM crew and thanks in advance for any help! <Am wanting to relate sufficient information to assist you here in aiding your livestock. Both systems do likely have a protozoal complaint. I would read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm and utilize this powerful compound in these fishes foods... and be very careful re quarantining all new livestock to avoid re-infestation. Bob Fenner>
Re: Boatloads of problems continue... FW dis.   5/28/06
Hi Bob, <John> I have the 96L and 54L tanks with the guppy and tetra problems. I treated the tetras with Flagyl for two doses and I believe there has been some improvement.  I have not witnessed the severe bloating accompanied by swimming difficulty.  Perhaps I have a handle on this problem now. <I hope so> Unfortunately, I have a nitrIte problem in this tank now.  I have been doing consistent (twice daily) 50% water changes and I can't seem to get them down. <The very large changes are highly likely forestalling the establishment of cycling... I'd reduce feeding extremely, use BioSpira, other means of urging this along> Tank temperature is 78F and I vacuum the substrate and add some concoction of "helpful bacteria" daily, but the nitrItes won't seem to disappear. <Most such concoctions are farces... ineffectual>   This has been going on for a little over a week now.  I guess patience is all I can resort to at this point? <Mmm, not just this> I am getting a little concerned because there is a Betta in the tank and his fins are starting to get a little ragged. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above> The 96L guppy tank is still having troubles.  I have just lost a guppy today and there is another one with a very swollen abdomen.  I will give you a description about the guppy I lost as I believe that there is a common disease that is killing my stock, but I cannot seem to identify it.  Water parameters are: Temperature: 24 C pH: 7.5 KH: 6 GH: 9 NitrIte: 0 ppm NitrAte: 12 ppm Tank is planted and well aerated. (Can't test for ammonia, presumed 0 given other parameters) It starts out that the abdomen of the fish gets gradually swollen.  Either preceding or accompanying this are stringy, white faeces (I did try Flagyl on this group of guppies, but either the sick fish were too advanced in their condition for it to be helpful or it is not working).  Following the initial bloating, somewhere up to 5-7 days elapse before the condition gets even worse.  The scales on the belly start to raise (dropsy, I presume). <Mmm, yes... but from what cause?> Then the fish will hang out at the surface a lot, sometimes surface breathing.  Following this period they move away from the surface and begin to hide in plants.  They will not take food.  Soon after - maybe 1 to 2 days later - I observe them having swimming difficulties.  For example, they move about with their head pointed to the top of the tank and their tail to the bottom of the tank.  Movement is carried out using the front fins more than the tail at this point.  Not long after, it becomes clear that the fish is very sick.  Death usually results with much hemorrhaging, "raw spots" on the skin/scales and tail rot; evidenced by red/disintegrating areas on the tail fin.  I have tried treating with Acriflavine, but to no avail.  At this point I think treatment is a futile exercise because the condition is too advanced and/or secondary to what is really going on with the fish. <You are wise here. Do read a bit re the use of Neomycin (sulfate)... or, if you can secure this there, Chloromycetin/Chloramphenicol....> This tank also has the flashing problem I talked about before.  Is there any possibility that the flashing and the subsequent conditions are related? <Yes, though not necessarily... sigh...> Still no sign of Ick, anchor worms, velvet, or any visible type of parasite. I am getting concerned that this may pass to all the fish in the tank and it will be a total massacre.  I am also noticing that some of my otherwise normal fish are starting to display "odd behaviour".  Nothing concrete, just small things that give pause for concern...swimming patterns, subtle behaviours, increased hiding, etc... <Could be resultant from "medicine/treatment" exposure alone...> Anything, even the smallest suggestion for preventative treatment/some course of action, would be most welcome at this point. Thanks. <Do read re the antibiotics mentioned above... this last livebearer trouble smacks of "Columnaris"... we can chat this up, or it is likely more advantageous/timely for you to search WWM, the Net re. Bob Fenner>
Re: Boatloads of problems continue...
 5/29/06 Hi Bob, <<Tom with you this time, John. I'll try to give the Boss a well-deserved break. :)>> Thanks for the reply.  My thinking was along the same lines.  I don't want to bother you with unnecessary questions, but I had suspected columnaris myself.  However, doesn't columnaris present with either "cottony-like" growths and/or pale areas on the fish?   <<This is typical and, usually, the "easy" way to identify the disease.>> I had inspected the guppies that I lost quite carefully for signs of this and did not notice any symptoms of this sort.  Nothing around the mouth, no white lesions or pale areas on the dorsal area. <<Okay.>> That being said - the rest of the symptoms seem to be consistent with columnaris - many fish affected, difficulty with successful treatment, fin damage, etc... <<Also consistent with Neon Tetra Disease (Pleistophora hyphessobryconis). In fact, Columnaris is often suspected when NTD is the actual culprit. Might explain much here.>> Can columnaris present like this (i.e.: the absence of the white lesions)? <<John, each fish can display a little differently. For example, a strong, healthy fish contracting this may display all of the "classic" signs while fighting the disease while a weaker one may succumb before all signs develop.>> I will look into your suggestions regarding medications and more information.  Thanks. <<Please defer to Bob's advice here, John. I'm only throwing my "two-cents worth" in to offer a possible alternative for the problems you're experiencing.>> Currently the remaining fish in the tank look healthy.  I will continue to observe over the next few days and see what happens. <<Sadly, there's no known cure for NTD and, just as sadly, it's not restricted to its 'namesake' fish. Don't like to bet against myself but, in this case, I hope I'm very wrong. ;) Best of luck. Tom>> <Tom's answers and follow-ups are so good I'm thinking of changing my name! RMF>

Re: Boatloads of problems continue...
 5/31/06 Hi Tom - <<Hello, John.>> Thanks for the follow up.   <<Glad to help.>> Tonight I have another problem starting with a guppy from the same tank.  I am beginning to fear the onset of an epidemic and/or total massacre of my stock.  Water parameters are unchanged since last time: pH: 7.5 NitrItes: 0 ppm NitrAtes: 12 ppm Ammonia: 0 ppm (cannot test, chemicals are prohibited here, but presumed 0) <<I "presume" you're right but let's leave this one on the "back burner".>> Temp 24 C KH: 6 GH: 9 No big fluctuations in temp. or pH.  Nothing new added to the tank. <<Sounds good.>> I have had one guppy that has had an enlarged abdomen for about a week now. It has neither gotten larger nor smaller so I had presumed it natural.  He has had stringy white stool so I have treated with Flagyl twice (to make sure the food was eaten) and fed skinless peas.   <<The order of this should be reversed, John. Clear the tract first and, then, treat with the medication. Let's continue...>> No change in abdomen size, but possible normal stool (hard to tell sometimes).   <<Indeed...from personal experience. :)>> He is active and taking food.  Looks healthy, swims normally and with the group.  However, just tonight I noticed his tail fin has red edges and is no longer a straight line.  That is in small localized areas some of the fin edge has been destroyed.  This has occurred in the last 24 hours.  I have now quarantined him and am treating with Acriflavine (all I have at the moment to combat fin rot).   <<May be secondary, John. Can also be associated with Ammonia burning; that "back burner" issue. Can't discount too much here. Not likely, however.>> I am concerned, however, because these signs are consistent with what I observed in the fatal conditions of the three previous guppies I have lost.  This fish does seem somewhat "robust" but in the past that was irrelevant.   <<Okay.>> Out of the (now five total) fish affected by this, three have died, one small yellow fish has seemingly survived (fins healing, more active, eating...) and now this fish is the latest to develop this insidious condition.  I am working on the assumption that he has contracted (or incubated) what the other fish had. <<A fair assumption...>> Understand your concern re: NTD, but I think this is quite rare so I will discount this at the moment.  I hope we are both wrong on this count! <<Ditto. Don Quixote and windmills. Unfortunately, a hopeless effort with NTD.>> Will continue to observe this fish and see how he progresses.  I am sure you will be hearing from me! <<Look forward to it with, hopefully, good news.>> Thanks for all the advice along the way here.  The going has been a bit rough... <<Indeed. One thought and, admittedly, overly simplistic but, have you considered adding aquarium salt as a therapeutic/preventive measure? Not the usual "Guppy treatment" for what you describe but I'd rather not over-think the problem, either. Good luck. Tom>>

Re: Boatloads of problems continue...
  6/1/06 Hi Tom - <<How goes it, John?>> The time difference makes this convenient!  Just as you answer I am home to respond... <<Timing is everything!>> The update on the 96L (25 gallon) tank: Tank parameters identical to yesterday.  I am pretty sure there is no ammonia in this tank.  It has been established for quite some time. Water is crystal clear (some yellowing from driftwood), and water parameters have not deviated from those I quoted in over a month now.  There have been no temperature shocks or pH changes.  I did add some plants, but rinsed thoroughly with tap water.  The plants were from a local fish shop that keeps plants in a separate system from their fish stock, so I think cross-contamination may not be an issue here.  I had sick fish before the plant addition. <<Wise decision on the plants.>> Anyways, the latest on the fish: The guppy with the bacterial infection of the fin is worsening.  Medication (Acriflavine/Methylene blue combination) has seemed to slow this up a little but has failed to stop it completely.  Curiously, the fish is acting quite normally, active and taking food.   <<I find this "curious" as well.>> Have observed normal stool, but his abdomen is still swollen.  Has been treated with Flagyl (twice) and boiled peas.  The tail is in not so good shape, however.   I must admit I am getting a little discouraged with all this - seems like a bit of a mystery disease.  Not to mention it's not so pleasant to lose fish every few days or to wake up to a new tragedy in progress in the tank! <<Wish I could say I haven't been there, John. We all have, though.>> The yellow guppy that I had assumed survived successfully is starting to look a little bit rough.  It almost appears like he is "wasting" slowly. Scales are protruding slightly and not just localized to the abdomen - I can observe this all the way to the tail fin.  I would not say this is dropsy - if anything, he looks a little too thin and there is certainly no abdominal swelling.  It's a little hard to tell if it's occurring on his head because there is constant movement, but I don't think it is.  He is quite active and eating, but like I said - looks less than healthy.  It could be that he is also exhibiting the small startings of some tail fin rot.  (Sigh...) <<Research 'Camallanus', John. Not a "given" certainly but...>> On a positive note, all the other fish still seem quite fine.  I have four platys, a few other guppies, three Corys, two freshwater shrimp and 3 apple snails (Pomacea bridgesii).  I have put about 1 teaspoon aquarium salt per 5 gallons (25 gallon tank) as I have the shrimp, snails and Corys in there and they are sensitive to it but at this level they seem to tolerate it. <<Haven't met a fish yet that won't tolerate this level.>> Should I be restricting food?   <<Under different circumstances, I'd recommend this but I don't see the need here.>> Should I raise the temp (currently 24C)?   <<Wouldn't be a bad idea to raise to 26C. A higher metabolic rate wouldn't do any harm and could prove beneficial for the fish.>> Not sure what else to do at the moment. <<The "upshot" here is that you may be dealing with pets that are 'susceptible'. You've other Guppies that are, seemingly, unaffected nor are the other fish that share the tank. There's a "pattern" but not one that can be nailed down. One's bloated, one's 'wasting' and neither behaves in a "stressed" manner, i.e. not feeding, not schooling, not hiding. <<Conventional medications aren't completely effective. We're missing something here.>> I'm hoping to (somehow) get a handle on this soon so my tank isn't wiped out.   <<I don't think this will happen, for what it's worth. Seems isolated.>> I have had some of these fish for quite some time and am fond of them and their individual personalities.   <<We all understand...>> My only consolation is my 54 L tank that seems to be doing well! <<For this, I'm glad, John.>> Thanks again! <<You're welcome and, please, keep us posted. Tom>>

Starting over... Spring time imported troubles... again. FW  - 05/22/2006 Hi crew, <Dave> Over the past few months I've been losing fish, one by one, to some mysterious ailment.  This is a small 12g freshwater tank with immaculate water conditions.  Based on the symptoms -- general distress (fast respiration, eventual loss of appetite) with no visible symptoms other than intermittent stringy white poops, and a few secondary bacterial infections like mouth fungus that appear after the fish has already been sick for a while -- I am suspecting some sort of internal parasite. <You are very likely correct here... "Tis the season"... We're receiving more and more "related" complaints... Parasitic... imported from the Far East... principally infesting Gouramis, guppies, angels (if folks are foolish enough to still import them from there), and small Characoids fishes that are bred/originate from there>   I've treated repeatedly with Metronidazole and Praziquantel, to no avail.  I'm going to try Levamisole next. <Worth a try... Are you sure the above were administered properly?> If the Levamisole doesn't work, I'm thinking of just euthanizing my remaining livestock and nuking the tank.  This is a small tank, I've already lost half the tank to attrition, and the remaining livestock are inexpensive and easy to find.  Unfortunately, the same isn't true of my plants. <Am almost inclined to agree...> Is there a way I can completely and positively sterilize the tank-- including all parasites and any potential hosts, i.e. snails-- while not harming the plants? <... no, or at least not as far as I'm aware>   Perhaps some concentration of bleach, potassium permanganate, etc that won't harm the plants overly much but will kill everything else? Thanks, -Dave <Again, worth trying these, perhaps alum (Aluminum sulfate) as well... Sorry to realize your worries... I share them. Bob Fenner>
Re: Starting over... Spring time imported troubles... again.  - 05/22/2006
Hi Bob, <Dave> I Googled for aluminum sulfate but couldn't find any info on what the correct dosage should be... were you suggesting this for treating livestock or as a "flora-safe" method for "sterilizing" the tank? <Is an old-timey remedy for helping avoid transmission of snail eggs on/with plants>   Any idea what the dosage would be for either? <Think/recall this is rather safe... maybe a level teaspoon per gallon of soak water... immersion for ten/fifteen minutes. Am out, away from reference materials. I suspect "the krib.com" will have more re> Re/ the nuclear option, after I wrote the email below I realized simply leaving the tank fish-less for a few weeks should eliminate pretty much all parasitic worms-- snails being only an intermediate host-- am I right? <Most likely so, yes> And would the same be true for protozoan parasites? <Again, there is a diminishing risk with time going by...> One of my LFS's recommended quinine, which I'm trying now while my vet tries to procure some Levamisole.  Levamisole is apparently not easy to find in the US, esp. in injectable form (which I'm figuring will be a lot easier to meter than powder, for a small tank). <Yes> I'll let you know what works, if anything... Thanks, -Dave <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Scratching Fish   4/30/06 Hello, I have a problem. I have noticed that my fish have been scratching against the rocks. Now, I know what your thinking Ick or velvet or a parasite right? Wrong their is no way that could be right because I have treated for every thing and this scratching has been going on for a month and a half so they would probably be dead by now. Any ways I have tested my water and every thing is perfect. The only thing that is funny is that I have a very light, white film covering my tank, but the only way I can see it is if  I look at it at a angle. Do you know why my fish are scratching and could it be from this weird film? Pls help because this makes me very angry. < The term "perfect" really means nothing to me. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm. The pH should be around 7 depending on the fish that you have. The water temp should be around 78 F depending on the species. The white film may be a mineral leaching from on of the rocks and also irritating the slime coat on the fish. The rocks should be very hard. No sedimentary rocks like sandstone, siltstone, mudstone or conglomerate should be used. Check out the rocks, this could be the problem.-Chuck>

SW, FW? wasting syndrome    4/25/06 Hi,  I keep getting fishes with a sort of "wasting syndrome" that is seemingly incurable.  What is it and is there any remedy for it?   <Depends on cause/s> I know it is hard to say what that means, but I guess I'd characterize it as the following:  No appetite, closed fins, lying on the bottom, etc.  It seems to be one fish at a time in the colony gets it, slowly wastes away and dies, then another one gets it awhile later and repeats the same cycle.  Is it possibly related to stress?   <Yes, probably at least a large factor> The reason I ask is that sometimes there is a bully fish in the aquarium colony that sort of "beats up on" certain ones.  The latest one is one of the beat-up females.   Also, is it related to the Mycoplasma marinara <With what type noodles/pasta? Oh marina...> disease I've heard about that is associated with scoliosis?  Thanks!   Leslie Wilson <...? What? More info. please... like, what species you're dealing with, water quality, history of your set-ups... Try putting the terms "Wasting" in the WWM Google search tool, reading the cached versions (to show the term). Bob Fenner>

Fish With A Scab, No Details - 04/23/2006 Hey Sabrina, <That's me!> One of our fish: Goushie has what looks like a black scab on his side.  But it looks like it is protruding from the skin outward leaving a bump around it.  Kinda like when you scratch open a big mosquito bite and then it scabs over. <Nice description, but what kind of fish is Goushie?  How big's the tank?  What else lives with him?  How long have you had him?  What are your water parameters (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate - your local fish store can test your water for these if you don't have test kits)?> Any suggestions? <I'd be glad to try to give you some suggestions if I knew more about the animal and the system....  Forgive me if we've corresponded before and I've forgotten; I fear my memory is poor to begin with....> Hope you had a nice weekend. <I did, actually, thanks!  I hope you did too.> Thanks,  -Shawn <Wishing you well,  Sabrina>

Preventive measures for new freshwater fish?  - 04/22/2006 Hi, <<Hi, Jon. Tom>> I've seen articles that suggest preventive measures that can be used with newly acquired saltwater fish to prevent transferring disease and parasites to the main tank (such as freshwater/chemical dips) but I haven't seen any suggestions for freshwater fish except to quarantine the fish in a separate tank and waiting to see if they become ill. Are there any preventive treatments that I should be using for my freshwater fish? <<Good question, Jon. Understand that many (most) SW varieties are captured in the wild while many FW fish are farm-bred, depending, of course, on the type of fish that we're talking about. (Not trying to "waffle" on you but it's the nature of the hobby. :)) Farm-bred fish (from reputable breeders) are less likely to carry the types of parasitic/bacterial infections that might be introduced into your aquarium from a 'natural' habitat. Additionally, breeders who routinely ship "sick" fish don't stay in business for long so it's incumbent upon them to maintain healthy stock. The best preventive treatment, in my opinion, is to quarantine all fish - SW and FW, alike - in the same conditions that you will have in the display tank. Now, this will require research on the part of the aquarist. You've done yours so I don't have to tell you that introducing Goldfish, for example, into a QT set up with Cichlid-type water parameters will lead to problems. Nothing, however, that I've ever come across regarding FW fish has conclusively shown a "preventive measure" that completely ensures a disease-free animal. The "upshot" here, Jon, is that quarantine for a good, two-week period for your FW fish, with close observation, is the best route to take. (Note that even the preventive measures you noted with SW fish don't relieve us of the responsibility to quarantine.)>> Thanks, Jon <<Any time. Tom>>

Ill Tidings, Irritation or Ich? - 04/16/2006 Hi, Thanks for all your help in the past.   <Glad we could be of service.> Now I have a new problem.  My fish seem to be scratching against the rocks, and the only problem is they have no visible signs of being ill.   <Scratching is a sign of being ill.  Just gotta find out why.> They still eat and everything, they just swim funny and scrape against rocks. I have normal aquarium gravel, but I did get a big rock from outside, could that be a problem? <It could indeed.  I would remove it to be on the safe side, for now, and do a large water change.> I also have some plants. What do you think the problem is? I don't know if this helps but the fish are neon tetras and 3 Dwarf Platys. <It is possible that there is a toxin of some sort in the water irritating the fish, or it could be a simple water quality problem.  Do a large water change and test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite must be ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm - if any of these are out of whack, do water changes to fix it.  Another possibility is ich.  Please watch closely, VERY closely, for small white dots on the fish, and read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Question / Tropical Fish / Barbs ... comp., and FW dis. - 04/05/2006 Hi there I have recently started a Tropical tank, it has been running for approx. 8 weeks now, and have a problem with my fish, and the local guys are not able to assist me with information.  I have 5 Tiger Barbs, 5 Rosy Barbs, had 2 catfish <What kind?  Some are large and carnivorous, others, like Corydoras cats, are quite small and great with tetras.> and had 7 Cardinals (only 3 remain) in a 2ft tank.  I have narrowed the problem to either the Tiger or Rosy Barbs killing off and eating the cardinals and the catfish, but I do not know who the culprit is.   <Actually, cardinals are very, very delicate.  Nearly all or all are still wild caught (though many Neons, closely related, are bred en masse).  It's entirely possible that the cardinals are dying prior to their consumption....> They would have been in the tank for 2 weeks this coming Sat, 8 April.  The cardinals have reduced one at a time.  Only on one occasion have we been able to net out a carcass, all other times, there has been no sign of a dead Cardinal.  With your knowledge, please advise what I should do.  I will isolate the Cardinals tonight and the fish shop have said they will take the fish back, either the Tiger or the Rosy Barbs depending on what I decide.   <Though tiger barbs can get a little boisterous and aggressive, I really tend to think that there's something else amiss, here - even just the act of removing a cardinal or neon from the water can cause extreme stress in these delicate fish.  If the water parameters are not utterly ideal (0 ammonia and nitrite, extremely low nitrate, soft, acidic water) they may not work out in this system.> Which of these 2 are the more likely to predate on the Cardinals, <Typically, neither.> and the Catfish, <"Catfish" is a little too general.  You're talking half inch dwarf cories on up to 200lb Pangasiids - MAJOR variation among species, here....> and can I put in a Plecostomus in with these fish - he is about 7cm long.   <Not a common Plec, not in a 2' tank.  You might get by with a Bushynose Ancistrus.> If I keep the Tigers and the Rosies, what would be a good companion for them?   <Other similar sized, similar attitude tetras, barbs or Danios would do great.> I look forward to your response.  Thank you,  -Penny Ludgrove <Wishing you well,  - Sabrina>

Quarantining 1-2 Danios/tetras in a 3 gallon tank? Also, restocking question 3/30/06 Hi! <Hello> First of all, thank you for your wonderful site. < And thank you for the kind words> I'm only a novice at this hobby (just over a year now), and your extensive FAQs have been enormously helpful. <Always great to hear> I'd like to ask your advice about restocking after some recent fish deaths in my 15 gallon heated, planted FW tank (tank is about ten months old, with ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 20 ppm, pH 7.5, temperature 26 C <All good>- quite heavily planted with low-light plants in sand and on bogwood; no added CO2). It's currently stoked with four Danios (two zebra, two leopard), three black neon tetras and one Otocinclus. I've read that schooling fish are happier with at least six of each species - I've been trying to maintain a school of six Danios, but have been having problems with sequential fish deaths (I'll describe the full history of the tank after posing my question!). From what I've read, I should really keep six black neon tetras and six Danios (and Oto would probably like a friend too), but I'm worried about over-stocking the tank. Should I leave the stocking levels as is? I do a 25% - 30% water changes once a week, which keeps ammonia and nitrites to 0 and nitrates at around 20ppm. If I do get some more Danios, do you think it would be better to stick to the same subtype (two more leopards or zebras, rather than pearls or white)? <First, given your disciplined water changes and attention to detail, I wouldn't be concerned that what you've described would pose an undue load on the tank. You've plenty of experience now to notice when things aren't "right". What I would suggest, however, is that you wait until you're comfortable that the tank is stable, health-wise. Even quarantine - which you address below - isn't foolproof though it is absolutely necessary> I'm also worried, given the sequential Danio deaths, that I may have some sort of infection in the tank which is knocking them out one by one. Should I treat the tank with Interpet No 9 (only antibiotic I can get here in the UK), even if none of the current fish are looking unwell? I don't want to crash the filter! <Don't treat for anything that you can't positively ID> I've come to the conclusion that a large proportion of my problems could have been avoided by using a quarantine tank, <Oh, yes> so I've been reading up about them. However, the tanks described seem to be 15 gallons - the size of my main tank! <Doesn't really matter here, Helen. The intent of using a 15-gallon tank as an example is really twofold. One, a smaller tank is easier to keep an eye on and, cheaper to treat, if necessary. Two, it's used to illustrate to folks with larger aquariums (50+ gallon range) that they don't need an equally large tank just for quarantine> I have an old 3 gallon tank which I could outfit with a small pump and 25W heater (too powerful?) <Shouldn't be>, but I don't have the space to keep it running empty all the time. <Quarantine tanks are almost always broken down when not in use> If I fill the quarantine tank with water from the main tank <Actually about 80% from the main and 20% fresh, dechlorinated water is good>, and add some gravel and half the filter media from the main tank, would this be sufficient to "insta-cycle" it? <A couple of days should do it> (could I also do this to press it into service as a hospital tank in an emergency?) <Certainly> I'm worried about crashing the main tank by replacing half its filter media, though. <Don't be. It's the prescribed method when a filter replacement is warranted> Is a tank this small ok for keeping a couple of Danios or black neon tetras in for a few weeks? <Yes, just not at the same time. If something goes awry you'd have no way of knowing who did what to whom> Since they are active schooling fish, and I'm only adding one or two at a time, I'm concerned that the 1-2 fish in the tiny quarantine tank are going to become stressed and unwell. <There will be some stress, naturally. However, schooling fish "school" for security from predators. Yours will likely discover rather quickly that there aren't any. In fact, interestingly, many folks are disappointed to find that their "schooling" fish fall out of the habit once they become acclimated to their new, secure homes. I mention this for your benefit as well as for those who may run across this on the site. Folks at the LFS may not be pleased with me but these fish don't need to be kept in "herds" unless you just happen to want lots of them> Here's the history of the main tank - as you'll see, problems mainly seem to have arisen after introducing new fish, unsurprisingly: Initially: Six Danios (one pearl, one white, two zebra, two leopard). Pearl Danio is "top fish". Two months: Pearl Danio dies (scales appear dry and cracked, loses all colouration). Replaced with new white Danio. Older white Danio becomes "top fish". Four months: Added two black neon tetras, three cardinal tetras. Five months: Massive ich outbreak among the tetras (Danios appear unaffected, still showing active normal behaviour). Treat tank for ich. Ammonia spike (up to 1.2) <Wow>, battled by 30% water changes every other day. Cardinal tetras die off one by one (lose colouration, plus skin so red and raw they look as though someone has pinched the skin off their tails). After research, decide pH doesn't suit cardinals, don't replace. Water parameters back to normal (0 nitrites and ammonia, nitrates 20ppm). Seven months: Dominant white Danio abruptly stops eating. Over the course of a week, wastes away to nearly a skeleton; "pinecone" scales in the last few days. Water parameters still normal. Two weeks after this Danio dies, one of the black neon tetras develops pop-eye, and over the course of a week loses swim control and has to be euthanized. Remaining white Danio becomes "top fish". Danios and remaining black neon show active normal behaviour. Nine months: Black neon tetra appears withdrawn and shy. Decide he isn't happy on his own, get two more black neon tetras plus two Otocinclus (now that enough algae has developed to support them). One Oto dies within six hours of purchase (appeared deformed - bent tail - and weak, which I didn't notice in the Sunday crowds at LFS) <Not uncommon with Otos. Many (most?) of these animals are harvested in the wild using cyanide. (No, I'm not making that up.) Interesting topic of research if you're so inclined>. Ammonia spike (to 0.6) and very minor ich outbreak (tetras only), treated with daily 25% water changes + medication for one week until water parameters are back to normal. All fish appear active and content - black Neons now schooling together in open water, Oto hoovering up algae, Danios flaring and circling each other (believe this is pre-mating behaviour?) <Sounds like it> Ten months: Dominant white Danio appears to suffer massive internal bacterial infection, going from normal to a bloated pinecone in the space of two days. <'Dropsy' undoubtedly> Buy Interpet No. 9 (only antibacterial treatment available locally, here in the UK) on the third day, but upon getting home discover Danio is so far gone (no swim control, belly very red and threatening to rupture through the skin) that decide to euthanize (clove oil/alcohol method) <Excellent option>. Remaining Danios go through a couple of days of very aggressive behaviour towards each other (flaring fins, chasing, etc.); now school fairly closely with each other with minimum of chasing/nipping, no one fish appearing dominant. Black neon tetras tend to hang out with Danios, following the school. <My regards on a very well-documented "history". Hope others take note of your example> Thank you for any advice! Helen <I hope I've been of some help. Tom>

The Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health    3/24/06 Mr. Fenner, You e-mailed me back the other day about my 75 gal tank.  I am sure you don't remember since you have probably thousands of e-mails.   However,  you told me to wait, change water, and add some more live  rock.  I am a woman and patients isn't always in our vocabulary <Perhaps if you were a nurse?>   LOL  So it is killing me.  Nonetheless, I have one last question, what  makes the fish sink to the bottom of the tank and hang out there until there  death?  Thank you Shelly <Mmm, can be a few things... none of them good. But an overall weakened state due to unsuitable water quality, simple exhaustion due to harassment, chasing... fatigue brought on by parasitism, infectious agents/pathogens, low/no oxygen and/or too much CO2... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm Bob Fenner>

Office Tank Keeps Dying Off   3/14/06 I set up an Eclipse Explorer II at work, initially stocking with two small fantail goldies.  I was feeding twice daily every day with Wardley Essentials Goldfish Premium Flakes plus a couple TetraFin Goldfish Crisps. I was completely cleaning the aquarium once a month (changing 100% water, rinsing pebbles, wiping down glass - I now do a 25% water change once a month).  They did so well over the next several months that I introduced a small Black Moor and a mystery snail.  My smallest fantail died within two weeks.  A water check at the pet store found high ammonia, and they instructed me to NOT tear down so frequently, to do a 25% water change and go back to NovAqua Water Conditioner, and to feed only once every other day. Once my water tested OK, I added another small goldie.  Again, that fish died within two weeks.  Another water check found high nitrate so I did another 25% water change and decided I was overloading my small aquarium. Two weeks later, my beautiful calico fantail died, followed shortly by my Black Moor.  A water test showed the water was OK.  I bought a cheap feeder goldie to add with the snail and both were dead within 6 days, and my last attempt with another cheap feeder is looking dim.  All I have in my tank is blue TopFin Premium Quality Aquarium Gravel, a small plastic plant, and one live plant (sorry, don't know what kind), and a lava rock.  I had two sea shells but recently removed them as instructed by the pet store folks.  I absolutely ADORE my aquarium but can't take much more death at my desk, and it bums out the whole office.  Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated as I don't want to give up!  Should I completely tear down and start from scratch?  If so, how do I do it to avoid having this happen again? Thanks, Cate < This is a little 2 gallon system with a pretty good filtration system. Feeders are really poor choices for first time aquarists. Since they are very cheap almost no money is spent on them to cure them of any diseases or parasites. So they usually come in with everything under the sun and soon die. You are getting some pretty good advice form your local store. Plan on doing 25% to 50% water changes weekly. Vacuum the gravel with a small gravel vac to remove any waste accumulating in the gravel. Feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. A goldfish is really a poor long term choice, look at getting three or four white cloud minnows instead.-Chuck>

Tank Massacre   3/10/06 First, the preliminaries:   Tank: 10g, glass, heated   Fish: 1 male black molly, two red wag platys, three platy fry, 1 CAE <Keep your eye on this last>   ph: consistently 7.2, everything else was normal except for Nitrites, which seem to be constantly present.   <Not good>   After watching the CAE chase another fish around and finding the fish  dead the next morning, have since given up on the CAE and, feeling a  bit vengeful over the murder, gave it to the neighbor's cat who was my  new best friend for all of five minutes.   <Mmmm, the Western ethic shines through>   So after buying a new platy from PetSmart to replace one that had died,  within two weeks everything in the tank was dead.  The new platy  was a sunset fire and never took to the new tank.  Always hiding  in the back, never eating, and being chased a little by the  molly.  He died quickly.  After that, I couldn't keep  anything alive.  The adult platys were the first to go.  Then  two of the platy fry (the smaller, runty ones).  Then the Molly  developed all sorts of horrible balance & fungal issues before he  died and finally, my last platy fry passed away.  It was kind of  horrific.  His insides seemed to have been suddenly pushed to his  outsides and they were white.  Like his gut just exploded.   Kind of gross.  :P       Anyways, after all that drama, I have decided to get a new tank (30g,  heated, acrylic) and try again.  Worrying about all kinds of  disease I won't be carrying anything over from the old tank (gravel and  plastic plants have me worried).  Am I being paranoid???     <No... not>   I enjoyed my platys while they lasted and will probably get a few of  them.  Have lost to many mollies due to overly-amorous males but I  like the looks of "upside-down catfish".  Do they get along well  with platys?  Also - would a Plecostomus work well in this  situation? I was thinking five platys, five catfish, and a Pleco.    <Yes... this small Synodontis is compatible here, though appreciates more room>     One final question (sorry to ask so many but you're all so darned  helpful!)  - should I bleach out the old tank, throw in new  gravel/filter/etc and make it the new isolation tank?  And can you  recommend a feeding schedule for the platy/catfish/Pleco fish????   <If it were me, mine, I do think I would "nuke", bleach all out, but you can keep the original gravel... just needs to run for several weeks before adding livestock. You might consider quarantining new life... to avoid such wipe-outs. Bob Fenner>   Jill, Aquarium enthusiast

Back To Square One - 03/09/2006 Please help me before I lose all my fish. <Ohhhhh dear.> I have a 2.5 gallon tank with a filter that I <"I" is capitalized....  In future correspondences, please use proper capitalization - we have to fix these errors; it takes time we don't have.> use occasionally or not much b/c the current is too strong for my Betta. <Okay.> I had a male guppy, a female guppy, an Indian glassfish and 2 zebra Danios in there. <In a 2.5 gallon tank?!  Please tell me you're pulling my leg....  This tank is too small for anything other than the Betta alone.> The small Danio lost all of his color (like that when I got him at PetSmart, didn't notice until he was in the tank) so I took him back.  Then the glass fish started 'stretching' his mouth wide open, and wasn't eating.  He died. <He was gasping....  having trouble breathing, either due to lack of dissolved oxygen (too many fish, no circulation) or toxic water quality (too many fish). Then I got a snail (he never showed any signs of disease).  Then the female guppy started not swimming, so I quarantined her, she was eating good.  Then the male guppy started the 'stretching' thing the glassfish did, <Desperately trying to breathe> and was nipping at my Betta's tail so I put him in with the female. Then he jumped out of that tank and died. <Possible sign of toxic water conditions.> The next morning my female guppy died.  Now I have my Betta, one Danio, and a snail in the 2.5 gallon mini bow. I started noticing the Danio pursing his mouth sort of like the glassfish and guppy, and he comes up to the surface about once a minute to 'breath' (I know he's not a labyrinth, but that is what it looks like), <He is doing this because there is more oxygen near the surface of the water.  He's having trouble breathing.  The environment in the little tank has become potentially toxic and perhaps seriously lacking in oxygen for the fish.> and am worried I will lose the entire tank. <Me too.> What should I do? <Firstly, immediately have your water tested for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Either get test kits (liquid reagent type, not dipstick-style strips) or have your local fish store test your water for you.  If ammonia and nitrite are not ZERO, do water changes until they are.  Nitrate should be less than 20ppm.  When you do water changes, be sure to use a chlorine/chloramine eliminator and match the temperature of the new water to the aquarium.  Secondly, remove the Danio and keep only the Betta, or remove the Betta and start using the filter, and limit yourself to two or three Danios.  In either case, you can probably keep the snail.> Did the first Danio, or possibly the snail cause this? <No.  The water conditions or lack of oxygenation in the water are much more likely.  A 2.5 gallon tank simply cannot support so much life, especially life that can only breathe underwater.> I do a 25 percent water change every two days until a get a filter with a gentle current, I'm worried about this, and can't find an answer anywhere.  Please help me. :)  Holly <I encourage you to start reading our Freshwater articles; there is a lot of good information for you there:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina

Scratching Fish   1/31/06 I have a 8" silver Arowana, a 4" red tiger Oscar, a 5" clown knife, and a 6" Pleco. All of the fish are in a 55 gallon for now until I get my 150 gallon tank. My problem is that the Oscar suddenly has started lying on the bottom breathing with his mouth always open and he refuses to surface to eat when not more than a week ago he would fly right to the top center of the tank when it was time to eat. I also noticed he has been trying to scratch his head on the bottom and I have occasionally seen my Arowana do the same but he still eats good. I previously had discus in this tank but I traded them because they were just to much work, I have treated the tank before I got the Aro and osc with Prazi pro for gill flukes for the discus. What do you suggest, the Oscar hasn't eaten in days? I was also wondering if maybe another Oscar his size would cheer him up? I once owned a huge pair that got along great. Mark < Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 25 ppm. A 50% water change while vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter should help. If this does not perk him up then their may be a disease problem. The lying on the bottom may indicate an internal bacterial infection. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. The external parasites could be the start of ich/protozoa or a bacterial infection. For the bacterial problems I would recommend Nitrofuranace. For ich, Rid-Ich by Kordon.-Chuck>

Diagnosing fish diseases   1/20/06 Hello     Sir,      This  is Anshul From Delhi (INDIA) I got your mail id on wetwebmedia.com sir I have ish aquarium in my house but the problem is I can't diagnose my fish that from which disease it is suffering from so could u send me the photos of diseased fish with their names and treatments so that I can know well my fishes well   I will be very grateful if send me
     waiting for reply         yours friendly             Anshul <Please peruse/use our site: WetWebMedia.com and send along your pix, descriptions... of the afflicted fish/es, systems. Bob Fenner>

Stress Coat & Improving WWM  1/8/06 Hello once again! I recently was talking with someone who once owned a pet store and I mentioned how expensive and sometimes distressing it has been keeping the "small fish" tank at the restaurant stocked. Usually what happens is that I buy app. 10-14 new small fish to replace ones that have died in the main tank and quarantine them in my 10 gal. q-tank at home. Within a week about half of these fish (although sometimes as much as 90% and (even more rare) as few as 0) die of no visible cause. <... not good> By which I mean that they are swimming, breathing, and eating normally when I check them and then 6-8 hours later when I check them again someone's dead and stuck to the filter intake with no visible parasites, fungi, or bacterial growths or signs of such. In other words, a dead fish that looks just like a healthy live fish except for the stiffness and lack of movement.        Now, this is something that I have always considered to be beyond my control- I have done my part by providing a clean (and yes, I do know my H2O parameters and yes they are all "ideal"), cycled tank with plenty of cover, and regular feedings. I have always believed that these fish were dying from stress due to how they were caught, shipped, unpacked, stored (overcrowded), caught again, and finally released into my tank. <For the most part, yes. Better to look elsewhere for better initially healthy stock> (I unfortunately must buy from Petco or PetSmart because I am unable to reach any fish-only store on a regular basis.) However, the gentleman I spoke with assured me that if I were to start using Stress Coat (or similar product), my fish survival rate would greatly increase. <This is likely so> Now I know that the stores always add a squirt to the bags before performing their magic with the rubberband (why is it so necessary to put those on so tight? <Better too tight than loose> I mean, one twist less and I could get the darn things off without scissors and the fish would still be safe safe safe.), and I have always considered that to be enough. In fact, I seem to recall reading somewhere on this site that some of the slime coat "replacing" agents actually cause the fish to produce slime by irritating them with some toxin or other. <Some do, yes... not ones from the "larger companies" though> (Darned if I can find that info. again, though. I gave up after 20 something pages mentioning Stress Coat, 12 or so of StressCoat, and checking 50 or so topics out of 212 in the Equipment and Dry Goods Forum. I also re-read a number of general articles on set-up, stocking, and health and disease without coming across it. Perhaps I hallucinated it.) <Likely written by myself... in pieces on Acclimation, Shipping> Inducing a slime coat by stressing the fish doesn't seem like a good idea to me, so I have avoided all such products. So, will Stress Coat (or some related product) actually cut back on my fish loss? <Is worth trying. Will likely help here> Or is this just product hype? Is there a consensus among those of you who answer these questions? <Mmm, don't know the others here well enough to state>        Unrelated to my question, but with direct bearing on my search for an answer, it seems to me that your wonderful, magnificent site may be on the verge of containing too much redundant information! I love this site and am deeply, deeply indebted to all the information provided on it. I mention this because it seems that the ever-increasing bulk of information on here may eventually get in the way of your primary goal (which I believe is to help those in the hobby/passion as well as those entering it to better care for their charges through the dissemination of useful information.) Now, I realize I may be stating the obvious to you, and if you are tearing at your hair, muttering 'tell me something I don't know,' I apologize! But here are my ideas to help deal with this problem. a) dump some of the old stuff. Since there is likely nothing new under the sun, even in fish keeping, and despite your best efforts people keep asking the same questions, only a certain amount of redundancy is necessary. I do believe some redundancy IS necessary- for people to learn and really absorb new information correctly, they need to see it given a number of times, preferably in different ways or used in different situations. b) Rather than posting all questions in the FAQs (if that is what you do), try to weigh whether that question has been answered enough times before posting a reply- still reply if you want to, of course! Just don't add the information AGAIN to the site if it's there 20 times or so. c) Take a good look at the FAQs- do they imply that certain information is missing from your general articles? <Good points... mainly this "editing" has not been done for a lack of time available... Am not willing to give up other "things" including pet-fish writing, travel, photography, "the business of life"... and work pretty much to exhaustion daily as my routine already... Would you like to give this some of your time? Will gladly replace parts of WWM you are willing to winnow> Most people are likely to read your articles before asking a question, especially with the gentle prompting the site gives when one clicks "ask the WWM crew a question". I know this is time-consuming, but perhaps one or two people who currently answer questions could instead be dedicated to that task? <A few folks have written "new article content" and this an ongoing goal of our on-line 'zine (Conscientious Aquarist). I have placed several hundred of my articles and book segments, some 14k images... takes time my friend>        Those are just my thoughts. I hope I have not come across as lecturing or something equally horrible. I only wanted to mention this because I think it might help keep the site manageable for those of you who work on it and for those of us who turn to it when in need. Thank you for your time! <Your comments and suggestions are well-regarded... am thankful for such careful, useful input... At the end of the day, my only excuse/explanation is that of the handful of hours I am willing to "put into" our collective effort here, that I endeavor to do the most important (respond to and place FAQs), and spare some ten percent or so of resource for such "strategic" work. What we have currently is a reflection of doing so for years. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Sarah Orris

New Fish Creates New Problems   1/4/06 Hi!  Thanks for sharing your (immense!) knowledge with the rest of us. Your website is, truly, amazing. < Thanks for your kind words.> I have a 46-gallon tank, overstocked thanks to an acquaintance who moved and decided she did not want her fish anymore (the employee at my LFS said they would all be fine together; I have now learned the hard way not to rely solely on such advice).  Taking her 13 fish (1 angel, 3 serpae tetras, 2 black tetras, two (albino) black tetras, 3 giant Danios (!!) and two Rainbowfish, put immense stress on my already tight set-up (1 red tail shark, 2 Corydoras catfish, 2 glass catfish, 3 tiger barbs, 3 green tiger barbs, 3 golden barbs, 2 angel fish, 3 diamond tetras, 3 serpae tetras, 3 black phantom tetras = 25 fish -- also recommended by my LFS).  I ended up buying a 10-gal tank for my kitchen, so that I could divide the fish, and this helped for a few days until I notice that the fish in both tanks were not adjusting well to their new tank mates -- the barbs became very aggressive and picked on everybody, one of the angelfish's fins was very badly torn, and my black phantom tetras seemed to be very afraid of the new, bigger black tetras.  Summing up: by saving the new fish from being flushed down the toilet, I created havoc and ruined the good life my original fish had had so far. Now, to my question.  Suddenly, the tiger barbs and the green barbs had what looked like rotting fins, breathed rapidly and did not eat.  The ammonia level in the water was at 0.25, the nitrates were at 20 (some of my friend's fish ate all the plants I had in the tank).  I did a 30% water change.  Two days later, the tigers developed Popeye.  I moved them to the 10 gallon tank and treated them with Maracyn-Two.  They died the following day.  Now, all the fish in the big tank are doing horribly.  Most of them have protruding scales; they are not hungry; some seem to be desperate for oxygen as they float at the surface; some are hiding; some have Popeye; some have died (the two glass catfish, one of the Rainbowfish, one red serpae tetra) and the angel fish, which had so far done great and were the only ones hungry and perky, are showing sign of stress by hiding and not eating. This is the fourth day since I began treating the tank with Maracyn-Two.  I am at the verge to tears while I send you this e-mail., as I am afraid that I will lose all of these fish and feel very sorry and guilty about making them suffer so much.  Right now, the readings are: nitrites: 0.25 nitrates: 5.0 pH: 6.0 (normally is 7, it has been going down fast) ammonia: 2.0 The water is, obviously, in very poor condition.  I have done partial (25%) water changes for four days in a row until yesterday, when I realized that the Maracyn-Two instructions say that the water should be changed once the treatment is completed (which would be tomorrow, on the fifth day). I hope that you'll get this on time to tell me what to do to save my fish.   Thank you so much for your time. Sincerely, Mercedes Dollard < Wow, what a story! Sound like your tank is crashing. When you added the new fish you added an element of stress. The fish were weakened from the stress and got sick. As a result you treated the tank with an antibiotic. While it didn't cure the parasites (wrong medication), it did manage to kill off the good bacteria that break down the waste and excess food from very toxic ammonia and nitrites to less toxic nitrates. Now that you know what happened we need to look at how to fix it. Start by doing a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Do not feed the fish for a few days. Add Bio-Spira by Marineland to replenish the good bacteria. Check the levels again. Do 50% water changes every day until the tank is stable. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero and nitrates should be under 20 ppm. Pull out bodies quickly as found. Treat with Metronidazole if Popeye and dropsy still exist with any of the remaining fish. Fish that do not eat should be discarded as they are probably too far gone to recover. You may end up with less fish that you originally had in your tank alone.-Chuck>

Frustrated... FW losses, no info.  01/01/2006 Happy new year crew, I have multiple tanks.. since this summer I <I> am having trouble keeping things like fling fox, Chinese algae eaters, some barbs, tricolor sharks....they seem to shock out w/in a day or 2 and die... <Frightening> sometimes right in front of me. Is there some property, or parameter, metal or any thing you can think of that these species would share a common sensitivity to? <Good idea, poor spelling... Could be simple "non-cycled" system effect... Need information re history, make-up of your system/s... What do you do to pre-treat system water? What for biological filtration? Have you read on WWM re? Bob Fenner>

Sudden Death of Fish, Heating Issues I have a 10 gallon tank, heated.  I did a partial water test today and here's the results:   pH - 7.2, Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrates - 40 - 80ppm (too high but since I just did a water change (25%) last week - should I do  another one? <Yes... I would do "serial" water changes (once a week here) of about 25% every week until your nitrate reads below 20 ppm., and look into means to restrict its accumulation. These are gone over on WWM> Will all these changes stress out my fish?) <Possibly... an issue of balance, choice... of which is more stressful>   Tankmates are: 1 male black molly, 1 "rotund" sunset fire platy (she's  figured out to hang out underneath the fry net during their feeding  times and to eat the fry food as it sinks), 3 SF platy fry, and a  GAE.   <Mmm, a CAE?>     This morning I noticed my tank was down to 77º (I always keep it at  80).  I fiddled with the heater some and before long it was up to  79 again (whew - no broken heater).  Anyways - I lost a SF platy  (the "skinny one") today.  It was just lying in the bottom of the  tank.  No injuries or anything that I could see.  I'm  guessing the temperature change is what did it in. <Maybe a minor contributing "cause", but not the sole contributor here> The heater I have is  a fairly cheap one from Wal-Mart.  Could you recommend a more  reliable brand? <Look to Ebo-Jager, the Aquarium Systems products lines...>   I prefer the internal/submersible ones as they  fit inside a decorative "log" that also holds the filter.   <Me too>   Also - my GAE has begun chasing the remaining fish around. <Ahhh... time to remove, trade this animal in>   The  GAE is constantly scouring the tank (day or night) but if the other fish swim too close he'll chase them.  I've read on your site that  he may grow up large enough to do them harm. <Yes> I feed him algae  pellets every now and again but the other fish eat them first so I  don't know how much good that does.  He's not very big (1.5" or  so) and he seems to be keeping the tank fairly clean - how much should  I feed him?   <You can try bits of blanched terrestrial vegetables... which won't foul the water... but, as stated, I would remove this animal>   Finally - last question (sorry to pester but you guys are so darned  helpful!) my littlest platy fry is acting weird.  She sits on the  bottom of the fry tank (mesh) and barely moves.  If I jiggle the  net a bit she'll wriggle around but I'm thinking she may have a  swim-bladder issue as she really can't seem to get off the bottom of  the tank.  Please advise.     Thanks so much for any/all help - you guys rule!!!  :D     ~~ Jill ~~ <Likely environmental and/or genetic influences at play here. I would not act/treat the system overtly. Bob Fenner>

Small Tank, Big Problems  12/15/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My young son has 7 gallon glass tank with 50 watt heater, Whisper filter with carbon and a fancy in the tank aerator. We usually have a centerpiece (ship, castle, coral) and 1-2 larger plastic plants and a couple smaller.  About an inch of gravel in bottom. The occupants are a zebra Danio, black phantom tetra, red phantom tetra, glow eye tetra, a Gourami,  Cory and a tiny algae eater. <That's a lot of fish for such a small tank.  If you are trying to follow the  1"/gallon rule (used only for small fish), then you have to account for their adult size.  In that case you have well over 10" of fish, depending on what species your Gourami is & the "algae eater" (if it's a Pleco, they can grow over 18").  Also, most of your fish are schooling fish (tetras, Danios) & you only have 1 of each species.> We have lost some fish over a period of time (3 platys, a Bloodfin) and had to return an aggressive molly. <They can be pretty mean!.> The fish we presently have seem to get along pretty good although tend to hide most of the time with the exception of the Danio. <Probably because they are uncomfortable not being able to school.> The Cory recently developed some white growth on his side and then a large bubble appeared on his forehead and burst. He started moving around crazily and we find him in strange places such as top of the heater or alongside it. <Sounds like bacterial infection, due to poor water quality.  Cories are usually fairly hardy.> The water temp is about 80. At first I thought it was outgassing from too much aeration, but then I noticed one of his eyes bulging and his sides seemed protruding. The conclusion with the local Petco was dropsy and we have been treating it for a couple days now. He seems to be improving. <That's good.> I removed the aerator from the tank when we thought of the outgassing and I wanted to clean it as it was pretty algae caked. <Probably not necessary to remove, but if your filter has good water flow, the extra bubbles aren't really needed.> I now notice the tank rapidly increasing in algae on all the plants and there are some dark black spots growing on the glass. <Could be from overfeeding & not enough water changes.> I clearly have a sick tank. I know I should be changing 20% of the water weekly but its probably been more like every 2-3 weeks. <Aha! I was right! 50% weekly water changes are what I do to maintain a healthy tank.  Especially one that is overcrowded.  Be sure to clean the gravel too.> I was going to put the aerator back in but then I noticed an article/discussion on your site about sponge filters.  Since it appears that carbon is only effective for a short time, what do you think of my using a correct sized sponge filter for bio and aeration reasons along with the whisper filter for particulate and carbon filtering? <Carbon isn't needed.  I only use it on freshwater tanks to remove medications I may have used in a hospital tank.  I love Aquaclear filters.  They have a sponge (for mechanical filtration) & BioMax ceramic rings (for biological filtration) & I like to put about 1" filter floss in between (for polishing the water crystal clear).> I do not have a test kit (a problem I plan on changing today) but I clearly need to get more in tune with the water issues and change the 20% weekly. <Great! Test for ammonia & nitrItes (should be 0 at all times), nitrAtes (should be <20) & pH (should be around neutral, 7.2 or close to what your tapwater is).> Finally, I bought a Hydor Ekip 250 awhile back liking the all in one idea. But it was a bit noisy for my son¹s bedroom. So I kept using the whisper. What do you think of this filter design? Is the sponge my best bet for the bio reasons? <I am not familiar with this system (although just looked it up on the net).  It looks as effective as most other filters, for a small tank.  Be sure to leave your existing filter on your tank for at least a month after you buy a new one, so the bacteria have time to establish in the new one.> Thanks much for your timely reply. His fish need you! <Good luck & remember--water changes, water changes, water changes!  ~PP> James

Multiple Deaths  12/12/05 Hello, I think I exhausted the articles and have a couple possibilities to address in my tank. But, I don't know where to start. I don't want to shock the system with trying too many things at once, but I need to do something quick, cause fish are dying! Maybe best if I explain the problem. About 9 months ago, my girlfriend and I graduated from a Betta in a 2.5 gallon to more exciting endeavors. Namely, we got a 70 gal tank. It was originally set up for saltwater, but we're using it for freshwater as we're not knowledgeable enough to do saltwater yet (and don't know if we want to either). We started with a red-tailed barb, 3 Bala sharks (med), some snails. Along the way we added an eel, small catfish, large cichlid, 2 small Pleco, a couple clown loaches, and a couple clown knifes. (sounds like a lot I know, but several died and were replaced, so not all at once!) We are using a 3 stage 'AquaClear' filter charcoal/foam/bio pellet), and feed flake, occasionally veggie pellet thing, and occasional frozen brine square. About 3 months ago we had an emergency. The original 3 bala's and 2 Plecostomus' were dead. Not only dead, but were encased in a fungus like sarcophagus about 1/4 inch thick, and I noticed the cichlid (an a couple others) had a cloudy covering on his eyes (all of this occurred in about 16-20 hours). I immediately set up 3 emergency tanks and separated fish out according to their appearance of health. I then spent several hours draining the main tank, and doing a major cleaning job. After a couple days of allowing things to stabilize, I put the healthiest fish back and monitored closely, then followed suit slowly with the other fish. I'm a novice and didn't have maintenance equipment like water test kit, etc. We progressed fine for a few months though, and had no more fatalities. About 3 weeks ago we added the 2 clown loaches and a couple new bala's. Then one week ago we added the 2 clown knifes. Yesterday I noticed the fungus-like cloud developing over a few fish eyes. I knew what happened last time, so I started the emergency again.  Within a couple hours I lost both clown loaches, then today lost another 2 bala's and the kicker, our beloved Unagi (the eel)! I need some help in where to start.  Here's what I think I figured out I need to start with: 1. Monitor pH, nitrate/nitrite, ammonia; and possibly treat to correct 2. Add 6-7 tsp. Epsom salt 3. Treat for Oodinium/Velvet I don't want to do all these at once though. Or should I? Were to start? Thanks in advance!!!! Nathan <Always start any treatment by checking the water quality. Do water changes to correct, no treatments. Use a gravel vac to get out as much organic matter as possible. Ammonia and nitrite should be at zero, nitrate below 20ppm. pH should be kept the same as your tap. Always let the fish adapt to your local water conditions. Second, add the salt. Then see if the fish look better before you try any med. They will only kill off the good bacteria that control water quality. Velvet usually looks like a gold sheen on the fish, I do not think they are infected. If the fungus is happening after death, it's a normal process. If prior, I'd think columnaris, maybe. Oxytetracycline in food is my first choice, but not until you get the tank's water in line. I really think this is a water quality problem. The cloudy eyes seem to confirm this. BTW, you really should return the Clown Knifes. This is a giant fish, over 3 feet at maturity. Unless you plan a tank of a few thousand gallons they really should not be bought. Don>

Bacterial sickness? 11/2/05 Hello I am running a 230 gallon fresh water planted aquarium. the aquarium is medium to heavily stocked with a wide range of species from a few families, tetras, barbs, Rasboras, rainbows, gouramis, catfish, loaches, and well as a couple of shrimp species, red claw and marsh. The tank is also well filtered to go along with the stocking, a wet dry system, a Filstar xp3, a Fluval 403, and Eheim 2222, and an AquaMedic nitrate reactor. The tank is running at 26-28 degrees Celsius, no ammonia or nitrites, nitrates on last check around 20ppm or less, pH 7.6, phosphates are a bit high. water is moderately hard GH~120mg/L, KH~70mg/L.   I have had a few outbreaks of what I believe is a bacterial illness, and currently have isolated a few fish that have symptoms. The problem typically begins with a few dark spots on the fish, see pics of Colombian tetra and Australian rainbow. 

Over time these spots increase in size and color is lost from the area leaving a grayish black discoloration with a decrease in the slime coat. I have taken scrapings and viewed fish under a scope post mortem and noticed a degradation of the scales and what appeared to be inflammation around freshly infected scales.  The problem progresses in different species at different rates. For instance in rainbows from first signs to death it is typically less then 36 hours, while in the case of the Colombian tetra I have had one not show further symptoms for over a week. As the infection proceeds there is a loss in swimming ability and equilibrium control. In some cases I have seen damage to the internal structure of the gills as well. I have tried isolation with a few medications so far, CopperSafe, Maracyn-two, salts, potassium permanganate tank treatment and individual baths. I have looked around a fair bit but have not found something to match the symptoms or progression. I am wondering if there is one thing causing this or if there could be a trigger that is initiating and opportunistic ailments then take over. Is there something that would work better for treatment? <Mmm, possibly the isolation, quarantine of new fish livestock for a month or two before introduction. I suspect the larger part of root cause/s here is ongoing stress, not pathogenic directly> So far survival is near zero, I have had one ID shark recover after appearing to have early stages. Thanks Gerad <Am not a fan of wet-dries in such systems either... but as stated, likely the initial state of health is what is principally at fault here... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the Related FAQs linked above re. Bob Fenner> 


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