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FAQs on Freshwater Diseases 2

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: Freshwater Disease 1, Freshwater Disease 3, FW Disease 4, FW Disease 5, FW Disease 6,
FAQs on Freshwater Disease by Category:
Environmental, Nutritional,
Social, Trauma, Genetic, Pathogenic (plus see Infectious and Parasitic categories below), Treatments 

Related FAQs: Toxic Situations, Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseWorm Diseases, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Re: Bacterial sickness? 11/2/05 My question that was no answered was, can something be living in the live rock that is killing the fish... <Not likely... something is toxic though...> I thought that if you removed the fish that the disease would be removed also...is this incorrect???? <Yes, depending on the type... please... keep reading... perhaps a good "all in one" marine aquarium reference book... the situation you describe has many, MANY loose possibilities in terms of causes of trouble... By the time we "go back and forth" trying to address these, you will be burned out and broke... Imagine a person trying to "do their taxes" in this sort of mode... Bob Fenner> 
Re:... Not bacterial infection, poor examples... 11/2/05
Bob, Trust me I have done taxes this way, you have to keep your clients happy correct??? <Clients?... We have none> I think ill remove the live rock and start over. Thank you for your help <... keep reading... BobF> 

Please help me! ... Five gallon mis-stocked, sick/mis-treated, feeling, not thinking, acting Hello. I recently bought a five gallon tank, a pink kissing gourami <Gets way too big for this size tank> , and several platies. The platies have died, I returned them, and my new ones are sick. I've separated the gourami and three newborn platies from the sick ones. One platy has cloud eye, one ich, and the other dropsy. <Please read re these diseases (use the search tool) on WWM> I've treated them with what I can get - Ick Away; contains malachite green. The other is some tablet B.S. called Fungus Clear. These fish have been quarantined for a few days, and are getting worse.  Also, will it be safe (after the fish die or get better) to put the gourami and baby plats back in the five gal. tank till the gourami gets bigger? <Not a good idea... not very compatible...> I need someone to help me, before I freak out and have a nervous break down over a group of fish! Thanks. <Study my friend... think... stop emoting. Bob Fenner>

Bloated Angelfish  8/30/05 HELP!!!! My angel fish is so filled with gas, he looks like he's   swallowed a ping-pong ball....what should I do? More antibiotics? < The Metronidazole should have done the trick , but it appears that either the conditions that caused the bloat are still in place or the Metronidazole was ineffective. At this point I would switch to a double dose of a Nitrofurazone medication in a hospital tank or to Clout as a last shot.-Chuck.>
Bloated Angelfish  8/31/05
Thanks for quick response - he's sooooo sick. By the way, another web site suggests: if one is either trained to   handle fish or is a veterinarian, one could try putting a small pin   hole into the bladder to allow the gas to escape.... as a last-ditch effort - he's probably about to die should I try this? Anne < I guess it is worth a try if you have nothing to lose. Most of the time the trauma kills the fish. Try it if you think all hope is lost and write back if it works.-Chuck>

Disease, Lack Of Input - 08/26/2005 I had a molly with rainbow fish, guppies and platies. The molly died, turning from orange to light yellow with his stomach open.  What happened? <No idea....  Nowhere near enough information to even begin to diagnose.  Try here, under "Disease": http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .  -Sabrina>

Dalmatian Molly - Dorsal Fin is green along the top? More troubles... incompatible fish mix in an uncycled system 8/5/05 Hi WWM, great site. I just have a simple question but have never seen someone else with the same problem, if it is a problem. 1st, tank set up.... I am still cycling, but everything seems to be going as planned, ammonia levels are almost zero, nitrates peaked but have since dropped to almost zero, and my nitrates are naturally high from the tap water. <Shouldn't be... a health hazard... for humans... if "high"> I have some Nitrazorb that I'm going to put in my Fluval 304 once I know the bio filter process is up and running properly. I have 3 platy's and a swordtail, 4 Mollies (2 Dalmatian, one Mexican Sail Fin and a 24k or Sunset) that are all juvenile. <Shouldn't be in a cycling system> I just added 5 table spoons full of aquarium salt yesterday and plan to gradually bring the water up to brackish levels to accommodate my two newest inhabitants, a couple of Colombian or Silver Tip Sharks. <... incompatible... and adding salt will forestall establishment of nitrification> My question is this, I just noticed that the very top of one of my Dalmatian's dorsal fins has taken on a green tint. <Natural, not a problem> The fish otherwise seems happy and healthy, as do all the other fish with the exception of one platy who's been hiding and not eating for about a day now. There are no obvious signs of any disease in the tank that I can find and the water is as clear as can be expected for a tank that is still cycling. I've been cycling for about 4 weeks now so I figure it was ok to add the sharks. Any idea about the green tint on the dorsal fin? I suspect the platy is just adjusting to the salt in the water and should be fine soon but thought I'd share any info that may be pertinent to the situation with the molly.   Thanks, Erik in Oceanside, CA <Be careful re feeding, look to getting another system going for your shark/catfish before they grow large enough to consume your livebearers. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dalmatian Molly - Dorsal Fin is green along the top? 8/6/05
Bob, <Erik> Thanks for the response, and that is my intent. I know the sharks will grow quite a bit and fast, I plan to relocate the Platies to a smaller tank soon. So far as having the mollies in a cycling tank, they were recommended by my LFS, something about Platies not generating enough ammonia to kick start the process? <... am not a fan of cycling with fish livestock, but mollies are more tolerant> The final set up I'm going for is 2 or 3 sharks, a puffer, I already have him, a Milk Spotted and some arrow fish and scats. Again, I know they will all outgrow this tank and plan to set up more tanks as I go. I'm watching the puffer and sharks very close for any sigs of stress related to the tank conditions and fin nipping on the other fish. If they show even the slightest signs of stress I'm going to return them to the LFS. They said they'd be happy to hold them for me until the cycle is complete. Again, the LFS recommended the aquarium salt. Apparently aquarium salt reduces the toxicity of nitrites to the fish on a temporary basis? <Mmm, to some degree, yes> The nitrates in my tap water are somewhere between 80 and 160 PPM. <... not safe for your consumption. Please do have your public health officials out... Pronto> That's straight out of the tap with no exposure to fish. I know that's not dangerously high, but it's high enough that I plan to use the Nitrazorb. <Is dangerous... for your fishes and your use> FYI, I did as much reading and research as I could stand before I bought fish. I didn't come across fishless cycling until after I bought the mollies and platies. I plan to use this method on all of my future tanks. The LFS sold me a product called "Stability". It says, and the LFS claims that it rapidly establishes the bio filtration system, reducing cycle time to about a week. Is this bunk? <Most all such products are placebos at best. There are a few that do work. BioSpira is the current best> I'm on day 5 which is the only reason I determined it to be safe to buy the puffer. <I would wait another few weeks> Again, any sign of stress and I'll either buy a 20 gallon tank and do daily water changes for the puffer and the sharks until the main tank is ready or let the LFS keep them in the mean time. It is my intent to be as conscientious as possible in raising my fish. <Good, and it does sound/read like you're dedicated, have been investigating> The blue platy is eating again BTW. Again, Thanks for your help. I've found your site to be one of the most informative. As a newbie to the hobby, I see and hear a lot of conflicting info. There seem to be a lot of "Experts" out there. You folks are among the most educated I've come across so any advice you have to offer that can save my fish and keep them healthy will be taken very seriously. Sincerely, Erik in Oceanside <Do always question folks "reasoning" behind their beliefs... I wish you well, Bob Fenner, in San Diego>

Urgent help needed with Ick problem! <Actually... much larger, wider issues> 7/20/05 Hey guys, I need some help.  I have a 39 gallon tank with two blue whale catfish, two iridescent sharks, one Bala shark and a plucko. <Heee, Pleco>   The problem is that the cycle is not completed, the tank is about a month old. <Ooops... what are these fish doing in a non-cycled system?> Last night I realized that one of the iridescent sharks had what I think is Ick.  He looks all white and slimy and his eyes are even white.  I went to the fish store and I got some stuff called "cycle" that is supposed to accelerate the process. <BioSpira would be better> I also go this medication called "Quick Cure". <Yikes, very toxic...> My questions are, first, the "Quick Cure" for Ick I bought said its wasn't safe for baby whales. Are my blue whale catfish safe then. I didn't use it yet... I'm afraid that the other fish in the tank will; get sick, and I'm afraid to use the medication because of the blue whale catfish.  What do I do now?  Thanks a whole lot! Stephanie <... you have a few profound problems here. First, the mix of fishes you list are not compatible... Please use WWM search tool (on the homepages, indices) to read re their compatibility, system needs... Second, your system is not cycled... Use WWM... next, you've set about actually poisoning them further with a product that is based on a biocide (formalin)... you can read about this on WWM as well.... I do wish we could start "at the beginning" and help you set up your system, wait... At this point I would ask your LFS to take back and have them treat your fishes... dump, bleach your tank and all the gear in it... let it sit a week with nothing in it, and start with means to cycle it w/o fish life... Read my friend. Bob Fenner>

Everyone's dying! 7/19/05 Hi everyone, I could use some help. I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank with 0 ammonia/0 nitrites/0 nitrates. The inhabitants are 3 tiger barbs and a blue crayfish. <Yikes... with a big blue appetite> 5 days ago I purchased a new tiger barb, the third. Yesterday I noticed white spots (ich I presume) all over all 3 fish. I thought today I would go buy a treatment before they (the parasites) entered the next phase of their life. My tank is warm-76'F. When I woke up this morning one fish was already dead and about an hour ago I lost another. One to go, the new one. I am concerned about my crayfish, she has no spots. <Uhh, not "catching" to non-fish> If the third fish dies before the day is done, do I need to treat the tank with only a crayfish in it? Or will they (the ich) die off? How long must I wait to get a new fish? What do I do? Please help, I appreciate it. thanks for your great site, Jill <Please read it then: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Mysterious freshwater fish losses 28 Jun 2005 Hello again, you have been so helpful to me in the past, I'm hoping you can advise me once again.  In 2 days I have lost a total of 3 fish suddenly and don't have a clue what's going on.  I have a 64 gal community tank. 1 dojo 3 Kuhlis 1 clown Pleco 1 common Pleco 1 black ghost knife 1 Burmese Botia 2 Botia striata In the 2 days I have lost a Red Pleco, a black kuhli and a reg kuhli.  They were all swimming happily 2 days ago, the next morning I found the kuhli stiff on the bottom of the tank.  This morning I found my red Pleco (who was feeding eagerly last night) stuck to the strainer of filter, white as a ghost   Came home from work a and found the black kuhli, pale and stiff (it was dancing back and forth along the glass this morning).   I do regular water changes, 5-8 gals every other day. <I would curtail these too-frequent changes... go with once a week...> And I add about a half teaspoon of Hawaiian rock salt with every water change. <Hmm, the Plecos don't like salt, but this isn't much>   I haven't done anything different in the past days and I've had the tank for at over 3 months now.   Can you tell me what may be happening? Thank you for your time Shell <Don't know from what is offered here. Have you tested for nitrogenous wastes? Bob Fenner>

Unexplained Death Hi sir/madam, Our female Luohan was about 3 years old. She was very healthy, laying her eggs routinely, good colouration, and eating normally. When BAM! We found her lying dead and white on the aquarium floor this evening. We don't know what happened. Why did she die suddenly and apparently without any external cause? She did not have any sores/ pop-eye/ infection. She was just normal and healthy as always. Hope you can help us find the answer to her sudden death. Thanks, Amina and Naseer. <There is no way for anyone to tell you what happened without any clues. But I would check for ammonia and nitrite in the water. I would do a large water change just in case. Don>

Mysterious FW Deaths Hello. I have a 55 gallon freshwater aquarium that's been set up for about a year now. We have a canister filter and a penguin bio-wheel filter. About a month ago we had our blue "lobster" die and then 3 of our fish. We were doing regular water changes, changing the filter media, vacuuming the gravel, and everything else that needs done. We tested the water quite frequently and all read fine. Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 20, and PH 6.8. We never did find out what happened to our fish, it was a sudden and very fast fate for the poor things. Now, one of my red Irian rainbows is going around in slow steady circles, is not interested in food, and it's color has deepened to a very dark maroon color. This has happened over night. Yesterday, it was swimming around just fine and would eat. Do you have any suggestions of what I could do to keep it from also passing away? It doesn't appear to have any markings of any sort that would help with determining what's going on. Any recommendations for medicines that could help an invisible problem? Just a few moments ago I did put him in a q-tank so that I could hopefully help the poor thing! Please, any suggestions to save him would be appreciated! Thanks! <With the lobster dying first this would make me think that there might be a copper problem. If you recently had any plumbing work done with any new piping being replaced then this might be a cause. Internal bacterial infection may be another. Try treating with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Mystery White Stuff on Fish Hello, this is a really great site, I am so glad you all are here! I tried to search and tried several wordings, so I hope I am not repeating a common question. First off, tank facts: The tank is maintained 78*. Has a sump filtration. Several fish coexist quite happily: 1 Oscar 2 Plecos 3 (true) parrots 1 blue Severum (?) 1 kissing Gourami (sp?) 1 African blue (?) A few days ago I began to notice white spots on the top of one Pleco and the blue Severum, (none on fins). I treated the tank for ich for a couple days to no result. I noticed the same white spots floating at the top of the tank, so definitely not ich. This all seemed to occur after a power outage, so I thought somehow something had stirred, dried up, re-entered the tank. The fish do not seem upset, have appetite, normal activity. One more reason I thought it was sediment, these are my two laziest fish, so maybe "dust" hasn't fallen off because of inactivity. Now, tonight one of the parrots has the white "dust all over his body. Of course I am very worried and do not know what to do. Sorry if I sound ignorant, please help anyway. Thanks so much. Tracy < These white spots are not a disease. I think that some filter media may accumulate some minerals that around the impeller. The impeller grinds them up and you get a dusting all over the tank and sticks to the protective slime on the fish.-Chuck>

I Hope This Is A Joke Hello I've been in fish keeping for 7 years now and I need help. In a 500 gallon I lost many of my favorite fish here's the list before they died. <Edited for length. 18 large fish, all big cichlids, Plecos and loaches. Don> I even lost my Flowerhorn!!! So I'm asking if you know any websites so I can get new fish like the ones that died from a sickness I don't know and all I saw was white spots and rubbing them selves on the rocks so any websites you know???? thanks Sean <OK, I'll treat this email like it's for real. But I have my doubts. You lost a couple hundred dollars worth of fish to the most common parasite in our tanks and your question is where can you buy more?! Sorry, but first I'd like to make sure they have a chance of living. How can you have been keeping fish for seven years and have invested in a 500 gallon tank but know nothing about Ick? OO KAY!! Get all fish out of the tank and into QT. Crank up the temp to 86. Leave it fishless for four to six weeks. That will starve out the Ick. While that's happening treat any fish that you have not yet killed with salt. Continue treatment for at least two weeks after the last spot drops. Read here on Ick and the many ways to cure your system. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 I would not want to treat such a large tank. The price of the meds and amount of water changes needed would be staggering. Go fallow and treat in QT. Then QT every new addition for at least 30 healthy days before adding to the main. Don>

Ill Tropical Aquarium I recently upgraded my aquarium from a twenty gallon to a fifty-five gallon.  I was having problems with the twenty gallon; A battle with Ich, mollies standing on their heads, and seemingly healthy fish dying without any signs of illness. I would test my water every month, between cleanings. My water was always in the "safe" zones. But even with the sanitation and addition of the new aquarium, these, and new problems, are again arising.  <Is it your water? Some aspect of the maintenance?> In my fifty-five gallon aquarium I have: 5 African dwarf frogs, 3 lyre tail mollies, 2 potbelly mollies, 2 Mickey mouse platys, 1 red wag platys, 1 high-fined painted platy, and 1 dwarf gold dust platy. The aquarium is cycled. I use AquaSafe Water Conditioner, and a little over a tablespoon of Doc Wellfish's Aquarium Salt per five gallons of water. <I'd cut this back to one per ten gallons> I feed my fish Tetra Tropical Flakes, with the occasional algae wafer, and the frogs Wardley's Shrimp Pellets. I clean the gravel about twice a month, removing only five gallons of water at a time.  <Better to do with (with the 55) every week> The frogs do not eat all of their food, and the fish are messy. My water changes are efficient, but not traumatic. <Good, well-stated> When I first set up the fifty-five gallon tank, I had two calico platies - The best of friends. One died, and a few days later, so did his friend.   Recently, for over a week, my red wag platy has been in hiding, only coming out to eat. She has a large white spot on her side. It looks concave, rather then fuzzy or protruding. She is very thin. And now, one of my pregnant lyre tail mollies is having difficulty swimming, and sometimes stands on her head.   I have had pregnant mollies before, and have never seen them do this. I have had fish die, however, shortly after showing their symptoms. All other fish seem to be fine.  I am worried about my fish. I hope I have provided enough information for you, and hope to hear from you soon. I would hate to lose another fish. Mandi Brooke. <I too am concerned... re root cause/s here. Am wondering if you have a source of poisoning in/outside the system... a toxic ornament, rock... Perhaps an errant window cleaner at work here... Bob Fenner> 

Fresh Water Problems WWM FAQ Crew wrote: Stop shouting! Please re-key and re-send your message NOT IN ALL CAPS!  I was not shouting. Do sharks, angelfish, swordtails and mollies or platys go in a tank together? < Depending on the type of sharks you have, the rest should go together ok. Check out your sharks at fishbase.org and see what they say.> Also, how long do you treat ich.? < Depending on the directions on the medication and the temperature I would treat ich for at least three days and maybe up to seven depending on the dosage.> If my sharks have Popeye will the rest get it? < Pop eye is an internal bacterial condition that is usually brought on by stress and waste pollution. I would recommend a 30% water change, vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter, prior to medicating with Metronidazole. It is usually not associated with being contagious but if the tank conditions are similar then you can assume others will get sick too.> I have a 55 gallon do you have to put salt in the aquarium? < Absolutely not. This is an old time medication that provides and additional slime coat on the fish but healthy fish don't need it.> I am having a lot of problems please help. < That is what we are here for.> I have a algae eater and am using ick medications now. Thanks <Cleaning the tank will help. After the ich is cured I would add Bio-Spira by Marineland to re-establish the good bacteria to break down the fish waste. I would generally recommend that you feed your fish only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Do a 30% water change once a week and either clean the filter of vacuum the gravel during the water change. By just doing these things will greatly improve your success rate with your aquarium. You are not alone and there are already numerous answers to questions like yours that already exist on the web site. Take a little time and search through the site for lots of helpful info.-Chuck> 

Euthanizing Large Fish Hi my parrot fish has grown to about 20cm in length, it's huge! Recently it has been showing signs of swim bladder disease and I have tried treating it but to no avail. I am looking for a way to help my fish on his way but since he is very large I don't know whether the other suggestions on your website would take longer on a large fish. Any info would be helpful. Rebecca <Sorry to hear about your pet. Parrot Cichlids are hybrid fish that do end up this way sometimes. Please do not buy them. It only encourages the production of more problem fish. But your question is about putting down a larger fish is a good one. I would use Clove Oil. You can get this at health food stores or online. I bought mine on eBay. Fill a container, just big enough to fit the fish, with tank water. Add a few drops of the oil and the fish. This will knock him out in a few minutes. At this point you can take a few courses of action. You can increase the oil and leave him in there for a few hours. You could also put him in the freezer. The fastest way is also the most brutal. A sharp knife down through the head, destroying the brain. Please do not do this without using the clove oil first. A hard thing to do to a pet fish. But sometimes our pets need us to be strong for a few seconds to end their suffering quickly. I'm not saying your parrot is there yet, that is for you to decide. If you make this decision based purely on the welfare of your pet, then you are doing the right thing in my book. Don>

Absolute beginner
Hi there <Hello> I have a 98-litre tank at 23 degrees C, currently with 3 platies (1 male, 2 females), 12 neon tetras, a catfish and 5 adolescent platies that have been born in the four months since I started the aquarium. <Okay> I test the water quality regularly, and do a 30% wc every two weeks. Despite this, I have lost 3 of the platies that I started the tank with. The symptoms are always the same: hanging at the surface, scratching against the decor, keeping fins closed and swimming semi-vertically with head uppermost. <Mmm, very likely this is due to the initial health, other issues than what you are doing... You will find the platies that do survive become very sturdy> Now my remaining three mature platies seem to be presenting the same symptoms. None of the other fish in the tank seem to be affected. <I do hope they rally... no need to add anything to their water, though a slightly elevated temperature would suit all species you list (25-26 C)> I have seen no signs of external parasites, but have treated the tank after being advised that the fish might be suffering from gill fluke.  Any advice would be very welcome Ben <If you had another system, I might remove the platies and add salt to their water... but, not with the Neons present. Bob Fenner>

Quarantine and disinfecting Q's
Crew, <Michael> I'm a long time reader, first time writer. I learn something new literally everyday from your site. I have a few quick questions that I was not able to find clear answers to on the site: <Okay> 1). Regarding quarantine tanks: Do they need to cycle in the same manner as other tanks and run continuously (artificially feeding the tank ammonia when not housing fish), or are they set up shortly before the purchase of any new fish and broken down/ disinfected after those fish are introduced into the main tank? <Either way... and do either have to "cycle" then and there or previously, OR provisions made to test, switch out large volumes of water> If it's the latter, I assume water changes need to be made every few days to prevent the inevitable ammonia and nitrite spikes from an uncycled tank. <Oh, yes> 2). Regarding disinfection: Can driftwood, from a tank which had parasites, be disinfected with the same water/bleach mixture used to disinfect other ornaments, or is there a danger of the bleach permeating into the pores of the driftwood and leaching out later. <Yes and yes> I'd like to disinfect the wood, rinse thoroughly, dechlorinate for a day, and then reintroduce into another tank (fully cycled with fish) shortly after, before it has the chance to dry out. <Would be better to let it "dry out" for just a day... to liberate the chlorine... residue> I'm just not sure if the dechlorination step can fully remove the bleach from the pores of the wood as effectively as it can from non-permeable aquarium decor. <Me neither. But have done this... many times. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Reappearing black patches/smudges Hi Bob, <Angela> Thanks for your reply to my last question about pop-eye--I really appreciate it! I also followed your advice and treated my sick fish with just aquarium salt. They are doing much better! Thank you! <Ahh, good to hear/read> The sad news is that they're still sick. One of their symptoms have stumped me and I cannot find an answer anywhere, so I'm hoping you can help me. My fish have mysterious "black patches" on their bodies that will appear and disappear right before my eyes. They don't naturally have black patches. It does not look like internal bleeding because it's not red and will appear and disappear in a minute or so. I first looked into ammonia burns, but didn't find anything that seems to match. I know it's not black spot disease, because they are black smudges rather than spots. The patches occur in the same area on both fish--in the stomach area. Just a big splotch or two. <Strange... please do send along an image if you can> Here are the specs to my aquarium: ammonia - 0 ppm nitrite - 0.25 ppm <Mmm, should be zero as you know> nitrate - 5 ppm pH - 7.8 29 gallon tank New and still cycling - around 12 days now (and thanks for the page you sent me about nitrogen cycling!)  Please help me save my fish--are the black patches ammonia burns? Stress? Bacterial infections? Parasites? Stress? I am stumped. Your last answer made a miraculous turnaround in my fish, and I hope your knowledge can help them recover fully! Thank you so much, Angela <Very likely, my best guess is "stress"... will, should abate with the system cycling... you can speed up (read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/estcycfaq2.htm), but do be careful in the meanwhile to feed sparingly, NOT add any more livestock... All should work out in a few weeks. Bob Fenner>

May I Ring You Up?  No, but we can still help - F/W troubles I would like to know if I can call you and get some advice on my complex water problem/colorless Pleco situation. I am beginning aquarist and I have been battling one fish disease after another in 3 last weeks. I've lost 12 fish, and my favorite, the Pleco has finally lost his color. <Strange> I think he is about to go. I want to know if I can save him at this point and I want to figure what the proper care and treatment is for a freshwater tank, if my Pleco goes, I will have to start a new tank. I just don't wanna kill more fish again. Can you call me or can I call you? Dawn Biro <We don't "take or make" calls... there just is not time... but are willing to do what we can via the Net... Please detail the circumstances of your set-up, history (especially of water quality tests), the types of fish, the order in which they were lost (valuable information), and any other observations. Bob Fenner>

Parasites, Bacteria, Plants, Shrimp Hi guys, <Kevin> When I suspect that multiple freshwater fish have contracted both a parasite AND a bacteria, and they are in a live, well-planted aquarium that also contains delicate invertebrates (shrimp), what the heck do I do? <If there is some notion that you actually want to "treat" them with toxic medicines or engage in some sort of environmental manipulation (e.g. high temperature, salt use...) and the plants, invertebrates, fishes won't tolerate these conditions... separate them into treatment tanks> The standard approaches are blocked at every turn. The fish are too wily and too numerous to be caught and placed in a hospital tank. Most medications damage either plants or shrimp. And some medical approaches block each other. <... you may well have to drain the tank down... use two nets, have someone help you with capturing all... but we're getting ahead of ourselves here... what is the actual concern/complaint with your livestock's' health> I have hooked up a portable UV sterilizer to the tank and I have the temperature at around 86 degrees. That should help with the parasites. However, I don't know how to cure the bacteria without using a medication that the UV sterilizer will neutralize. <They (UVs) don't neutralize antibiotics, antimicrobials...> Of course, I don't HAVE to use the UV -- that's just a nice way to not harm the plants or the shrimp. Help! Kevmo <I would NOT add material for a perceived bacterial problem here... likely not needed, nor effectual... Look to improved water quality, time going by to effect a cure. Bob Fenner>  

Re: Oscar/cichlid disease Here are the photos you requested. Thanks for taking a look at her. I hope you know what the problem is and that it's not too late for me to treat her. She is so beautiful. Melinda Buck <Sorry to say that this looks like a tumorous growth... is not easily treated, or excised... but not to give up hope, there are instances/records of "spontaneous remission"... What the animal shows is "not catching", and it may cure of its own... I do hope so. Bob Fenner> <Also... this is not an Oscar but another species of new world cichlid. RMF>

Spare Sponge Dear WWM-ites, My wife came up with an interesting question this morning. In a spare sponge filter, kept active in case it's needed for a quarantine tank, how critical is the water flow for the bacterial colony? We have moved all our Swordtails and Endler's into a 20 gal tank dedicated to livebearing fishes. We have it set up fairly simply, with fake plants in the substrate and live Watersprite floaties for the babies to hide in (those that make it that far!) We've also moved the QT sponge filter to that tank, to get it out of the big community tank. My wife wants to cut down on the water movement in the potential-baby tank, and the sponge filter's big blurps of bubbles really stir things up. Since we don't need it for actual filtration (there's an Emperor 280 on the tank as well), can we unhook it from the air pump and still have it maintain a viable nitrate factory? As always, thanks for your help!  Glen <Yes, it will still retain enough bacteria to jump start a QT, but the bacterial colony will be smaller with less ammonia and O2 being pulled in. You would have a stronger bio filter ready to go if it was left running. Great plan to keep a spare sponge active. I wish fish stores gave out an established sponge with every new tank they sold. Don>

White Stringy Feces, disease? Hi, My aquarium is a very unhappy place right now, and I need some advice. I started up a 25 gal. tank in December with 3 platies and 6 cardinal tetras (& a lot of plants and some driftwood).  During the cycling process, one of the platies had 5 fry, but died a week or so later. I assumed she died from the stress of the new tank and giving birth, but now realize I was wrong. After the cycling was complete, and all the other fish seemed healthy, I added 2 Otos to combat a really pronounced algae problem. Two weeks later, one OTO died. I'd noticed no signs of illness -- just found him at the bottom one afternoon. Then the platies started acting sick with the same symptoms that affected the first poor platy, listlessness, and white stringy feces. They spend their time either resting on the bottom in a covered area or floating at the surface. They eat only a miniscule amount. There are no other visible signs of illness (i.e. no spots or red streaks, fins & eyes look fine). I started a course of Maracyn 2. I'm on day four, but it doesn't seem to be helping. In the past 4 days, I've lost the other OTO and 3 fry, and the remaining platies seem quite ill. (Fortunately, the cardinals seem perfectly happy). Is there a different medication I should try? Should I do another round of Maracyn 2? Did I medicate too late? Is it likely the cardinals will eventually be affected too? Also, due to the loss of the Otos, the algae is out of control. I'm afraid I'll lose all the plants too (its not quite as heartbreaking, but it is expensive!). Once I either a) get everyone healthy again or b) lose the rest of the platies, what should I do to make it a safe environment for a new algae eater? Is a big water change enough, or do I have to do some sterilizing? How long must I wait before adding a new critter? In case its relevant, my water quality has always been pretty good.  Currently, pH=6.8, ammonia=0, nitrites=0, and nitrates <10. Even during cycling, the ammonia & nitrites never got much above 0.5. Thanks in advance for your help! Amanda <The white stringy feces points towards an internal infection. It could be bacterial or a protozoa. Best treated with medicated flake food. Since the Maracyn 2 did not help it is most likely a protozoa. Treat with Metronidazole. You can get the medicated food here http://flguppiesplus.safeshopper.com/26/cat26.htm?122. You will only need a small package. Do not add any more fish until your current charges stay healthy without medicine for a month. I would stop the Meds after completing the first round and start doing several large water changes until you get the Metronidazole. Continue to test and watch for spikes. The Maracyn can kill your bio filter. I would not worry too much about the algae right now. You can wipe off the glass and such for now. Otos are great for algae control, but very hard to introduce into a new set up. And very sensitive to meds. His dying may be unrelated to the platy problem. Look for a Bristlenose Pleco. They only get about 4 inches and are much easier to keep. Stay away from the Common Pleco, gets too large at 12+ inches. One last thing. Unless you were doing daily water changes during the cycling period you should have had higher spikes than .5. You may want to take a sample to your LFS and have them confirm your readings. Don>

Effects of surviving Fish TB Hi there, A few months ago my husband fed our fish some goldfish, against my advice based on what I've heard about goldfish having a lot of diseases. Anyways, our Frontosa, Bay Snook, and clown knives ate them and were fine, but our 12 inch Gar got really sick. He got a filmy coat to him and his eyes popped out. He swelled up really bad and just sat at the bottom of the tank. Then his spine got really crooked. We medicated the tank with anti-fungal and bacterial meds and also Melafix. He was sick for about a month but now he seems to be OK, he eats and swims around fine, except he is still crooked and his back end seems almost like it's paralyzed and just drags behind. Is he still sick or can there be lasting effects from fish illnesses? We were told he had Fish TB but I thought it was always fatal. My husband gets very upset when his fish die! He was depressed for a week when his water cow jumped out the day after we bought it.  Any help is appreciated! <Could be internal parasites from the gold fish have affected the gar. I would try to separate the gar and treat him with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. It may help but at this point it is just a guess. The Metronidazole is effective against anaerobic bacteria.-Chuck.>

Ich and medicine-sensitive FW fishes, PYBT and Pleco search I have a ich break out in my tank containing a black Ghost knife, pictus cat, and a blue gourami. I have raised the temperature to mid 80's as said by your site is there anything else I can do? <Yes. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the Related FAQs, and the article and FAQs on Knifefishes on WWM... these areas have your answers> I have seen Blue hippo tangs in a sky blue coloration and a navy blue coloration, why is that? <Geographic variation, physical condition, mood> I am looking to purchase one of sky blue color, where may I find one? also I am looking to find an Emperor L-204 Pleco, where may I find one? Thanks, Jahner <Try Dr.s Foster and Smith (.com). Bob Fenner>

Fish cart before the apple snail Recently we bought a new aquarium and new fishes for our family.  We got two iridescent sharks, two Bala sharks, an Oscar, and a Plecostomus.  They were all getting along fine.  We got them on December 22nd and had them in a ten gallon aquarium.  On Christmas, we put them all in a 30 gallon tank. <Still too small... eventually, even for just the Oscar!>   On December 27th, one of the Bala sharks died.  At first, we thought the Oscar attacked it but the body didn't have a mark on it. <Could have died "from fright" just the same>   Then, the smaller of the bala's disappeared.  There is no way that it jumped out of the tank because we have a full lid. <Minnow sharks do get out of pretty small openings...> I think the Oscar ate it, but his stomach never grew like it does when he eats live food.  Now, the Iridescents are hiding a lot in the fake rocks that we have in the tank. <I don't blame them!> I can never tell if they are alive or not.  A friend of ours that used to work in a pet store says that the Oscar has ick.  We got some "Ick Away"  and put in the first dose.  it says the dose can be repeated every 24 hours until symptoms disappear.  I have no idea how to tell if the symptoms are gone or not. <Umm, what were the symptoms that led you to believe the fish had ich in the first place?> What should I be looking for that? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm>   Also, should I be getting anything special for the Iridescents to make them happier? <Please read on WetWebMedia.com re minnow sharks> I know they get scared easily.  Should I get them any anti-stress stuff?  All of our water levels are within normal range.  We have soft water and I heard that the Iridescents like harder water. <Yes, good> Is there anything that I should do about that?  thank you for your help. <I wish we could go back to "square one" here... you've gotten involved activity wise way ahead of necessary workable knowledge... Take your time and read over WWM re the animals you have, stocking, ich... disease, water quality... better to raise temperature, get rid of the ich, trade in the Oscar... wait a month or longer, and consider your stocking options. Bob Fenner>

WHAT IS IN MY TANK??? Hi There! I am writing to you regarding my 58 gallon tank. I recently (September) moved my fish from my 20 gallon to my new 58 gallon freshwater aquarium. I had a large Pleco, large Bala shark, 2medium angel fish, 2 small angel fish, 1 iridescent shark, 2 black skirt tetras, and 2 silver dollars. I originally setup the 58 gallon in may and waited until the levels were matched up to move them. All of the fish adjusted fine except for the Bala shark. He broke through the net and seemed to develop some sort of cut on the bottom of his mouth. It seemed to start to heal and didn't really cause him any problems. Well, as of November we started having major fish deaths. We lost 4 dwarf gouramis, 3 penguin tetras, and 1 angelfish over a three week period. They all seemed to get weird white fungus like growths before they died and no matter what meds I used it didn't work. Just yesterday I lost one of my silver dollars who had a white spot on his eye that ended up turning kind of bloody and the eye was lost. He stopped eating and ended up dying. Now, the bala's mouth has the same type of look to it. Also my angelfish are getting a weird white spots and it looks like the flesh has been "ripped" off of one of them on a few spots. I have checked the levels and the ammonia is very high...no matter what I do I can't get it lower. Also the ph is very low and can't seem to get it raised. I have tried water changes, ph regulators, and ammo locks. Now I am worried about my Pleco too...he has a couple of weird white discolorations on his tummy. I know this is a long story, but I have no idea what to do. I have also tried pima-fix, Mela-fix, and ich/parasite removers. WHAT IS IN MY TANK??? I have no idea what to do and don't want to loose my babies-I have had the Pleco and Bala for several years. I have never had anything like this happen in 15 years of freshwater aquarium keeping.  Please help!!! <What's in your tank? Five different chemicals if you count the ammonia. Not good. But start with pH. Check the tank pH against your treated tap's. If they are within 2 or 3 tenths, do a 50% water change right away. Do another in a few hours. Don't add anything except dechlorinator. Repeat this until there is no ammonia or nitrite in the water. If the two pHs are off by more than .3, do smaller water changes more often. Continue until ammonia and nitrite are at zero. Keep watching for spikes and do even more water changes to correct. You lost your beneficial bacteria when you medicated. That's why the ammonia spiked and the need for all the water changes. If will take about 6 weeks to re-establish. Until then your in for a lot of work. The underlying problem is the amount of fish in the tank. The sharks and silver dollars should go away. Six angles and a Pleco are pushing it in a 58 gallon tank. You are in for repeated problems with this many large fish in a 58. I believe that all the water changes alone will allow the fish to heal and recover without medication if you reduce the bio load. If they continue to decline email me back. But for now it's very important to "clean the slate" with water changes. Don>       

And the Crystal Ball Says... I have a 29 Gallon freshwater tank and I think my Black ghost Knifefish has either ich or velvet. I'm not really sure if it is sick, but I bought medicine anyway. I don't have a Quarantine and I can't afford one? What should I do? I know I shouldn't but should I add the medicine In the tank he is in, because one or two of my other fish don't look good either? I wanna save my fish especially my Black Ghost Knifefish, can you help me? Jahner <Will try, but we need more info. For now do large daily water changes. Use a gravel vac. Do not add the meds until we find out what's wrong. Why do you think he is sick? Is he showing spots? Do you test the water? If so, what are the readings? How often do you change water? What % do you change? Type of filter? How long has it been set up? Add any new fish lately. How about feeder fish? The more you tell us the better we can help. We know nothing at this point except you think he has Ick or Velvet. Sorry, we need more. Don>  

Failure to QT/Mixing Meds Hello, The last few days I've been experiencing trouble with  my tank.  While I was researching I stumbled across your site. I would appreciate any help you can possibly give me. First some background on my tank:  I have a ten gallon tank with three male guppies, six females guppies, and a ghost shrimp.  All of the fish except two females and one male are relatively  new and were given to me by people in my dorm building so I could care for them over winter break.  I have both a carbon based filter and a air stone.  I do 20-25% water changes a week with bottled spring water and keep the tank at a temperature of roughly 78F. Now the problem. I noticed the other day that several of the "new" fish were flicking against the gravel, air piping, and several of the decor I have in the tank.  I wasn't sure what this was and it led me to further research on guppy illnesses and behavior.  Two days ago one of the fish suddenly developed what I took for a physical injury possibly from flicking against the filter intake or a sharp piece of gravel.  His tail seemed split.  I dismissed tail rot because I had not heard of tail rot doing this sort of damage to a tail.  Instead of being uneven or "eaten" a small strip of the tail was missing all the way to the base.  The fish died within 24 hours of this. The next day one of the females started showing similar signs,  only her tail was more typical of tail rot since it was uneven.  I quickly went out and got an "anti-fungus" (active ingredients: malachite green and Acriflavine hydrochloride). I started that treatment yesterday after removing the carbon cartridge from the filter. While I was at the pet store I noticed a medicine called "Anti-Fluke" that treats Gill Flukes which seemed to fit the fishes behavior. I picked up a bottle of that thinking after the treatment for the tail rot I would treat them for gill flukes.  However, today the fish (naturally a very light fish with dark almost black fins) with what I had assumed was Tail Rot is now covered in a dark substance.  Several of the other fish have white specks covering them.  The more I looked at the fish the more I noticed that almost every fish in the tank has these white spots. I'm afraid I panicked, pulled the ghost shrimp out of the tank, and treated the tank with the "Anti-Fluke" (active ingredients: dimethyl, hydroxy, and trichloromethyl phosphate). Is this tank plagued with several different problems or have I mis-diagnosed something?  Is there anything I can do to aid in the recovery of the fish?  And, also since the Anti-Fluke is toxic to the ghost shrimp is there anything I can do to the tank after treatment that will allow me to return him?  I have a small 2 gallon tank containing several guppy fry.  I haven't put the shrimp in it yet for fear that he might be carrying whatever is causing the problems in the other tank.  Is there anything I can do as "de-con" for him? Thanks for your time and help, Rachel <Hi Rachel, Don here. You need to do a bunch of water changes. 50% at a time. One right away, another in a few hours. Repeat tomorrow. Then put fresh carbon back in the filter and replace it the next day. Do a few more water changes. This should remove most of the brew in your tank. Never mix medicines! Drain the water with a siphoning gravel vac. This will remove the Ick parasites reproducing in your gravel. Read here for the proper use of salt for curing Ick. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 Take note of the life cycle and continue treatment for at least two weeks after the last spot drops. The shrimp can not host Ick, but there may be some on him or in the water within his shell. Best to keep him alone for a month. This will starve the Ick. As to adding him back to the treated tank, maybe. But some meds, copper based for example, will kill an invert years after use. Best to but him with the fry (after that 30 days in QT). Don't worry about the fin rot for now. The water changes and salt will help, maybe cure. I would also strongly suggest a test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The mix of med will have killed off your bio filtration. Continue with water changes to correct any spikes in ammonia or nitrite. Read here.   http://www.marineland.com/articles/1firstthirty.asp . In the future always QT any new additions for 30 days before adding them to your tank>  

Spotless Flashing Fish Hi there!!  Have read a lot of your advice over that last few months and find it extremely helpful.  I do have a problem that I haven't seen discussed per se.  There is sooo much info!  I have a 20 gallon and a 10 gallon freshwater tanks.  In the 20 gal I have Blackskirt tetras (3), black neon tetras (4) 2 Rasbora swordtails, a Pleco and an albino catfish.  I have temporarily placed three mollies (2 female, 1 very aggressive male) so the platys in my 10 gallon could have fry. In my ten gallon I have a male and female red wag platy, two fry that are about 6 weeks old and about 10 week -old fry. The problem is that some of the fish are scratching against rocks, plants etc with no visible signs of ick or anything fungal.  (Both tanks) I have tested the water weekly and the quality is fine. pH ~7.2, ammonia 0, nitrites <0.3. Both tanks are about the same water quality. Both tanks were new in September. Is there a medicine that I could use to treat them orally? Or should I treat the water Quick Cure into some flakes and letting it dry, then feeding them, but after about a week, they are still scratching. I only feed them this mixture once a day. It is hard to tell whether or not all of them are eating it! Even my 6 wk old fry are scratching!!! I really don't want to lose any of my fish!  Thanks in advance for your advice! <Hi, Don here. Nine out of ten times the flashing is a sign of Ick, but anything that irritates the skin can cause them to scratch. I don't see a reading for nitrate or mention of water changes. High nitrates could be a cause. Check the pH of your tap. If it's within 2 or 3 tenths of the tank do a 50% water change. Match temp and use dechlorinator only. If the pH's differ by more than .3 do a smaller change. If you are testing keep nitrates below 20ppm. Watch that .3 nitrite also. Should be zero. The water change will improve that also. If you know your nitrates are low, then I'd say you have Ick. Watch the 20 also. Moving the mollies may have moved the Ick also. To treat for Ick read here  http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 Salt is cheap, easier on the fish than most meds, and 100% effective. Understand the life cycle of this parasite and continue to treat for at least two weeks after the last spot drops, or they stop flashing. Good luck>
Spotless Flashing Fish pt 2
Hi! Just me again! Checked the nitrates and they were sky high, 80 in the 20 gallon and about 40 in the 10 gallon so I did partial water changes - about 25 % in the 20 gallon and about 10-15 % in the 10 gallon.  I bought a nitrate test kit so I can check it more often now.  I added salt to the 10 gallon.  The nitrates after the water change were 40 ppm in the 20 gallon and 20 ppm  in the 10 gallon. I plan to do another water change in a couple of days. Should I do it sooner (i.e. daily?) until the levels come down? Thanks Susan <If the two pH's are within 2 or 3 tenths do 50% daily until they get down to around 10ppm. If the pH's match, do a huge (80-90%) water change and be done with it. If they differ, go smaller, but more often. After they hit 10ppm come up with a water change schedule that keeps them below 20ppm. This will differ between the two tanks as they have different bio loads>

Help, my fish are bloated! hi crew, I hope you can help me in time. I have a 20 gallon wide freshwater fish tank that's been set up for about six months. I have been sticking to the recommended weekly 15% water changes and the water quality has been perfect. Nitrates may be a little high but still within the safe range on my test kit. Nitrites and ammonia are both 0. In my tank I have two angels. one dwarf gourami, one livebearer, and 7 cardinal tetras. About 2 weeks ago I added two German rams and a algae eater with a piece of driftwood. I had to   do a couple of water changes since then because the driftwood discolored my tank. I have continued to check the water quality daily and it has not changed. This morning I noticed white spots on some of my tetras which I believe to be ich. I did a 25% water change and treated the tank with Rid Ich+. When I came home from work this evening I noticed that both of my German rams, both angels and my Gourami are bloated. Their stomach area looks like they're going to pop! I fed them some anti-parasite medicated fish food and tested the water quality. Everything is normal. The livebearer also has a little spot of discoloration on his head. Please help, there seems to be a lot going on but I cannot locate the problem. I have not had a single problem until now.. I've become very attached to my fish and I do not want to lose any. I hope you can help. Thanks for your time. Sincerely, < Use Metronidazole to treat the sick fish and follow the directions on the package. The German rams probably were stressed in the move and brought the problem into the tank. Treat every other day and change 50% of the water on the days you do not medicate. When the fish begin to eat then they are on their way to recovering. Feed only enough food so that all of it is consumed in a couple of minutes.-Chuck> Tiffany

Bloody tumor Hey Chuck,        I don't know if you remember me emailing you a little while back but It was about my fish and its "tumor" well now the tumor looks bloody, white and peeling, it hasn't died yet, and still looks ok except for the big lump ha-ha. I gave it some food called antibacterial medicated fish food. It said it was for internal and external bacterial infections. I've been giving it that food for about 2 weeks now and no improvement. I looked for the other stuff you told me to try um...Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. but I couldn't find it. Do you know where to look? < If it is still growing then it may indeed be a true tumor and is probably untreatable using any over the counter medications. The professional help of a veterinarian that can treat this problem is probably cost prohibitive. The medications I recommended can be found at DrsFosterSmith.com. I would still try them as a last resort.-Chuck>                        Thank you                                Jenny

Blackened Fish Hey there I have a problem and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. My son got a fish tank for his birthday and there were 3 fish. 1 started to turn black then it died then another and so on. I have no idea about fish are what to do. I bought 4 new fish there are no old ones left and I am down to 1 his fin is now turning black. It would start like a small patch around the gill then before you now it its everywhere. What do you think? Help Thanks Donna Venable Jeremy, Donna & Jeremy Jr <Hi, Don here. I'm going to need a lot more info to help. What kind of fish? Tank size? Is it heated and filtered? How long has it been running? How long did it run before adding the fish? Do you test the water? If so, post results. In the meantime start doing large partial water changes. Around 50% right away and again in a few hours. Repeat daily for a week or so. Then around twice a week. Please search this site for "Cycling". Will explain all. Don>

FW Lymph Hi, I have read most of your article about Lymphocystis.  I have a 29G freshwater tank, w/ 2 BR Parrot (boss of the tank), 2 tinfoil barbs, 2 albino tinfoil barbs, 2 algae eaters and 2 fairly good condition live plants.  I have a Emperor 400 for my filtration, 150W heater and a bubble wand in the back of the tank.  One of my Albino Tinfoil Barb seems to have a bump (Lymphocystis???) on his/her upper fin.  The only difference is, its red in color not white like most of those described in your forum.  My water parameters are all fine, except for the Nitrate which is 40PPM which I will do a partial water change within 2 day.  Here is a picture.  Your help is greatly appreciated.  Thanks. <Hello there...Jorie here.  I'm not really able to see the bump you describe in the picture you attach but can see a red spot that looks more like a lesion to me. I would suggest you do a water change sooner rather than later.  Nitrate in any amount is toxic to fish and you definitely need to get that under control.  Consider doing a 25% ASAP and retaking the measurements...if there is still detectable nitrate present, do another 25%.  I would suggest you quarantine (QT) the fish in question so as not to risk the health of any of his tankmates.  Upon clearing up the environmental problems (i.e., presence of nitrate), keep up good water conditions and monitor the fish for a few days to see if there's any change. If the fish's condition doesn't improve or worsens, consider treating with a broad-spectrum antibiotic such as Amoxicillin or Ampicillin (only do this in the QT tank, however).  Keep a close eye on this guy, keep his water especially clean, isolate him in a QT tank and go from there - I hope he recovers quickly.  Keep a lookout for signs of altered behavior, such as difficulties swimming or not eating - that could be something entirely different. Please let me know if you have more questions! -Jorie>

Help from overseas Hello to all of you guys; First I would like to commend you on an excellent effort being put to all, especially the beginners just like me :-), Five weeks ago my daughter won some fish from school in a competition, after some research I found out that they where tiger tetra, anyway to make the long story short, I began to like the issue of keeping more, I went and invested in an aquarium (20 ltr) and some equipment (air pump filtration system, sponge type, yellow gravel and some plastic landscapes) after being able to keep them alive for one week. The fish started out great in the new environment (new tank), until I introduced another type of tetra (colored ) They all got infected with white fuzzy stuff (I guess what you call white spots) I changed the water for them every day (ignorance) and they where dropping one after the other, I got separate jars and secluded all of them, changed the water again all drinkable water, and introduced 2 mollies and 4 green neon, they also dropped dead, I was told to use water conditioner (anti chlorine) which I did and again introduce new tetra's, but again white spots,,,,,, in the mean time the older tetra's died but one stayed alive but lost all its fins ( I think she is crippled :-( I asked my LFS guy and he gave me Methylene blue to use, which I did with some more colored tetra, but guess what,,,,,,,,, they all came back with white spots again. I again changed the water into drinkable water, put anti-chlorine and  a tetra with two black lines across ( sorry I don't know the name) white spots again grew, I added Methylene blue but nothing happened, my LFS guy told me to add white spot medication (which is also blue) to the main tank and gave me a couple of mollies free of charge, so as of today all I have is an aquarium full of blue water and two tetras full of white stuff ( in a small container) one striped tetra and two healthy mollies in the main tank. I cant seem to find any testing kits here in the emirates, so I don't know what else to do, am I just wasting my time and money for nothing??? If these in the tank survive all of this, should I keep the blue water as it is or should I change it, is it okay to add all of this blue stuff and have them mixed like that?? believe me I have spent a lot of money on this and I really don't want to give up, any suggestion is very much appreciated. Best regards M.Malhas <<Dear Mr. Malhas; Wow, you have been thru a lot lately. First thing: you are cycling your tank. You need to keep all the fish in one tank in order to grow the "good" bacteria in your filter. And moving sick fish is never a great idea. Good bacteria break down fish waste (ammonia, etc) so that the fish don't die.. The good bacteria break down ammonia and convert it to nitrite, and then again to nitrate. After four to six weeks, you should only have nitrate left, this is what you test to see how often to do your normal water changes. It is important to keep this bacteria alive, do not over clean your filter! Always be sure that you change/clean half the filter media only. Not all! You are throwing away bacteria if you clean your entire filter and replace the sponge, so keep the sponge, just rinse it weekly in de-chlorinated water, and put it back in the filter. Cycling a tank takes time, about a month or so, depending on the fish and the size of the tank. In a 20 litre tank, you should have started with TWO small fish, and left it at that for a few weeks. Testing the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates regularly will help you see how your fast your tank is cycling. Too many fish at the beginning means too high an ammonia level, resulting in dead or sick fish. Unfortunately, you either did not understand your pet store employee, or he/she did not explain things to you properly. So, what happened is the high level of ammonia made your fish sick. It is pointless to treat sick fish when they are swimming in high levels of ammonia, they just get sick again because the water quality is still bad. And it will be bad for a month! So, your best bet from this point on is NOT to add anymore fish, and to buy yourself some test kits for the following: ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. IF you have no access to test kits, then do the following: make sure you have two fish in your tank at all times (if one dies, replace that one), do regular, partial water changes (25-50%) weekly, and use your de-chlorinator to remove chlorine when doing so. Do NOT add any medications, the ammonia is not going away yet, so the problems will continue if the fish-load is too high, and meds will actually kill whatever good bacteria you have, slowing down the process even more. Yes, people will tell you that those meds are safe for bacteria, but you are cycling, and it is not wise to use them at this point. Many meds will not affect really well-established bacteria, but weak colonies can be badly affected, and you cannot afford to lose ANY good bacteria at this point. Also, do NOT add anymore fish until your cycle is complete, and then you may add two or three more SMALL fish ONLY. You should have 5 small fish in there, maximum, after 4-6 weeks, and all traces of ammonia and nitrite should be gone, leaving only nitrates. Mollies get too big for your tank! Keep small fish. You must continue to do weekly water changes, and test your water for results. Best of luck, Gwen>>

Dying Algae Eaters Hi, <Don here> I was wondering if you could help, as it seems no one else can. I have a 30 gallon fresh water fish tank, which is hexagonal about 2.5 foot tall, with lighting, filtration system, aeration and heater. The tank has been established for approx. 3 months and is inhabited by 5 tetra neon's, a Gourami, 3 guppies, a sword tail, a red barb, and about 4 other tetras. I have 3 living different plants, one is red. My problem is with algae eaters, I have tried on numerous occasions with differing species but none survive. The Bristlenose catfish lasts for 2 days, <Wow, pretty hardy fish> a golden algae eater lasts for 1 day and a snail lasts for only 1 hour. I have done ph, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate testing and all seems in order. <What are the actual test result numbers? Ammonia and nitrite must be at zero. Nitrate should be kept below 20ppm. I think this may be a pH problem. To be sure we would need to test your tank and the water the fish was living in. A sharp swing could cause death in this time window. The snail dying within an hour is also a sign that something is very wrong. Do you add salt? If so, how much. Ever treat for Ick? If so, was it a copper based med? Deadly to snails. And very harsh on cats.> The funny thing is that I don't have any other fish problems. There is plenty of green algae available to these fish, some on the walls some on the pebbles. <Will not be enough to support a fish for the long run. Please target feed.> I would be very grateful if you could help me with this dilemma. <Well if pH shock is the culprit, then floating the bag until temps match, then slowly adding tank water over a few hours will help. If the pHs are way off, then a drip system is called for. If you do not use a gravel vac to get waste from the tank, please start. Rotting food and waste could be changing your pH. Good luck.>  

New freshwater hobbyist fish health concerns Hello, Firstly, let me just say that your website was tremendously interesting to read through. I learned a great deal about fish care. Unfortunately, not enough to alleviate my worry. Yesterday I bought my first fish and I now feel that I'm in way over my head. I went in to the pet store to buy a goldfish. Nice and simple to care for, I figured that this was the best place to start. However, on the way to the goldfish section, I passed by the puffer fish and fell for a figure eight puffer. I explained to the store clerk that I had no knowledge of fish care and therefore only wanted the responsibility of caring for a low-maintenance fish (at least to begin with). The store clerk explained that F8 puffers required about the same amount of care as a goldfish, so I decided to take the plunge. She put my fish in a bag and then explained that I would need to buy live worms to feed my new fish. I thought this was gross, so I said 'maybe I shouldn't have a puffer fish...maybe I should have a fish that will eat flake.' She said that it would be perfectly acceptable to only feed my puffer freeze-dried blood worms. So I bought the freeze dried stuff. As well, on her suggestion, I bought some water conditioning cubes that take the chlorine out of the water. Also, before buying the fish, I asked the clerk whether I had the proper living space for a puffer. I am rather poor and the only reason I decided to buy a fish is that I inherited a two gallon fish bowl from a friend of mine (who had two very happy, healthy goldfish in it for three years before she moved them to a massive aquarium). The clerk said that this would be perfect for a solo F8 puffer. So I and my new fish traveled home to set up his new house. The fish bowl has gravel, a rock-plant thing for him to hide behind and a few other (fake) fishbowl plants. I treated the water and then added the cube, as the clerk instructed me to do, and then put the fish in carefully. The fish, Luci, almost immediately became lethargic and wouldn't leave the side of the fish bowl. I left it alone, assuming that he was just acclimatizing. However, this morning, I put some of the FD worms in his bowl and he showed absolutely no interest in them. Luci just remained at the side of the bowl, moving slowing up and down. So today, I've spent the morning reading up on puffer fish and I've learned lots of scary things. I am left with many questions, and the fear that I am now in the care of a fish who will require more than I can provide. 1. Is my fishbowl absolutely too small? For one thing, I cannot afford to buy an aquarium. For another, I really, REALLY don't have room for anything larger in my very tiny apartment. < Pufferfish are actually pretty low maintenance. They prefer meat like worms , snails and small fish. They are not big swimmers and small ones take awhile to grow. It may take awhile for your puffer to acclimate to the tank so be patient.> 2. Am I treating the water properly? I understand how to get rid of chlorine, but I am not clear as to whether this is enough. Do I need to buy marine salt? Do I need to worry about Ph (if so, why?)? Will it be enough to do 50% water changes once a week? <These puffers actually like the water to be somewhat brackish. I would add a teaspoon of rock salt to the tank every time you do a water change. They like a high pH too because the pH of the ocean is high.> 3. From your website, it seems that FD food is insufficient. If I offer him shrimp tails like you suggest (are these pre-cooked shrimp, such as the type in a shrimp ring?), will this be an acceptable diet for him? < Raw shrimp is fine. A good friend of mine suggests that when you have a shrimp cocktail  bring a little piece home for your puffer. They don't eat everyday. A couple times a week is fine. They don't move too much and have a very slow metabolism so it is easy to overfeed them.> To make things difficult, I have no freezer and thus can only choose between fresh or FD. But I am incredibly grossed out by the thought of feeding fresh meat to a fish. I don't eat it myself and don't want to watch a fish eating it. However, my husband agreed to feeding it shrimp tails or other shellfish from the grocery store. Is there anything else, akin to pre-cooked shrimp that I can add to Luci's diet? < Worms like blackworms or small earthworms. Even brine shrimp would be eaten occasionally.> 4. Luci is tiny (1cm). If shrimp tail are the answer, do I offer him the whole thing? It will be larger than him. Is this a problem? Will remaining food need to be removed from the bowl? < Puffers have four large teeth and can take chunks out of a deshelled shrimp tail with no problem. Set it in for about a half hour and watch it Luci eats it. If not take it out.> 5. I know for a fact that I will not be able to clip Luci's tiny little teeth (which I was not aware that he had until this morning). Will shrimp tails keep his teeth a good length? You could put in some small pond snails and pieces of shrimp or small fish to do the trick.> I think that's it. I'm sorry for the length of this, but I'm terrified of my new little friend and rather convinced that he would be better off in the care of another person- one who knows at least the basics of fish care. Oh, and if you feel I shouldn't be Luci's caregiver, where do I find him a proper home? < Eventually your puffer will need to be in a saltwater tank when Luci gets up to four inches in length. See if you can trade her in when she gets bigger.-Chuck> Thanks, Katherine.

Not So Mysterious Mystery Disease <Hi, Mike D here> We have a 20 gallon tropical freshwater tank which we set up around 3 weeks ago.<At only 3 weeks, the tank hasn't completely cycled, thus ammonia and nitrites in the water will adversely affect ALL your fish, with new additions being particularly hard hit>  Once we got the water stabilized we put in 3 Zebra Danios and 2 Rosy Barbs.  All of the fish seemed to be healthy and active.  3 days ago we put in a Red Wag Platy and a Red Platy.  They both looked fine the first 2 days.  Today we noticed the Red Platy had a white pimple on its chin area and another less noticeable white dot on its left pectoral fin.  It also had a half-inch long white threadlike thing which seemed to be trailing off of its anal fin.<it's possible that this is early ick, although that's referring to the spots only. Since A) it's a new tank that hasn't completely cycled yet (normal time is 4-6 weeks), all fish are being severely stressed, and B) since your fish aren't being quarantined before being added, it may well be something it came in with>  We were worried that it was infected with something, we have no hospital tank, so we removed the Red Platy and euthanized it.  However, as we were removing the Platy, the white thread fell off and disappeared into the tank.  Do you have any ideas on what it was and could it still be harmful to the rest of the tank?<It's possible it was a fungus thread, but more likely was just fish droppings from a diarrhea like condition due to stress. Are you using aquarium salt at the rate of 1 tspn/gal? This is a great way to cut down on fungus infections and is tolerated by almost all normal aquarium fish>  Thank you...

Dropsy (Singapore) Eh, vinegar? My vinegar are all black in color... Or the rice vinegar? The white ones? At this moment only 3 fishes are left in the tank. 1 w full blown dropsy, the other partial, 1 more seems to be so It seems to have been controlled after I added aquatic plants to it. Does that help? Do look forward to Ur reply. < Fish that get dropsy or bloat have been stressed by either dirty water, poor food or the wrong water temp. It is an internal anaerobic bacteria infection. The only cure I know is Metronidazole. The treatment works better if it is done early. The plants may absorb some of the waste that is stressing your fish. This may be a sign that your tank has an ammonia, nitrite or nitrate problem. Service the filter, change 30% of the water and treat as recommended. The medication may have an effect on the good bacteria needed to break down the fishes waste so watch for ammonia spikes.-Chuck> Thanks once again.

Tiger Oscar Hey, my Oscar has this white little indent right above his gill, theirs only one. I think I spotted it about half a week ago as just a white spot, but know I think I notice a little indent. I think it may be Hole In The Head Disease. I did my gravel vacuuming and also a 30% water change with water conditioner in the 30% new water and I also put in a new filter in the filtration system ( Do you think that will fix the indent?). < The improved water conditions can only help. It may slow the disease down.>   I don't have an Ammonia and Nitrate kit but I think I will go out and buy one tomorrow ( Can you give me a rough price ). < Each kit should be under $10.> Do you think you can send me some pictures of some fish with the Hole in the head disease just appearing if that is possible. Also can you, if you think it is HITH disease give me some information on treating it to get it to go away? < I just had this discussion a couple of nights ago with a few friends of mine at the local cichlid club. Unfortunately there has been no real science done on hole-in the head. Many people have done some lab work and found many things but no real "smoking gun" has been found yet. Keep the water clean and try to vary the diet to include some live food like earthworms and brine shrimp. If the holes look like they are getting bigger then you could try some Metronidazole at 250 mg per 10 gallons and follow the directions on the package. Prevention is much easier than treatment. Good Luck. Do a Google search on Hole-in-the-head disease and you will find numerous tips and theories on how this disease works and how to treat it. Some saltwater  fish get it too.-Chuck> Thank you.
Re: Tiger Oscar
Thanks for the information so quick. Right before I got to bed, quick question? Its possible to cure right? Like make the hole go away and stop it from spreading with that medication? Or is he going to die?!.... Also when you said the improvements I did can "help" ( new water, new filter ), does this mean that it may cure it or does it mean it will only slow the death down? < If you don't know the specific cause of the stress then you don't know what needs to be changed. In some fish it may be high nitrates. But I have seen the disease in fully planted aquariums with no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate measured in the water. So then you have to start looking at other things like pH and diet. Vitamin deficiencies may be a cause too. No two aquarists keep two tanks totally alike. So the same two aquarists may have the disuse but the causes may be different depending on all the variables such as food source, initial water chemistry and other fish. There are no stone cold locks when it comes to treating Hole-in-the-head as of yet. I gave you some generalities to increase your fishes chances of survival. You may have to try some of these things and see if they are effective. But be aware no matter what you do you may never be able to cure your fish.-Chuck> Bye
Re: Tiger Oscar
Also I read up that in most cases if it is caused by stress or poor water quality it isn't contagious meaning that it isn't bacteria and it wont spread and that one particular dent will clear up on its own if you clean the tank and such. I was just curious on your statement for that if it is true or totally made up. Thanks bye. < You need three things for a disease to occur. A parasite, a host ,and an environment that at the same time weakens the fishes immunity while at the same time enhances the reproductive behavior of the parasite. If you have poor water quality in your tank then other cichlids are likely to show the same symptoms because the conditions are the same throughout the entire tank. Stress can lead to all kinds of diseases not just hole in the head. I don't just make things up. My answers are based on years of experience with cichlids as well as attending seminars all over the country on cichlids too. Of coarse I am always willing to listen to something new on treatment for the problem, unfortunately I have been lead up the golden path many times over the years by "new " treatments that have never really been panned out.-Chuck>

Ich, treatments and post behavior of cichlids See I just got rid of ick I had it for 3 weeks it sucks, but after I got rid of it I waited a week to make sure every thing was all right and it was. Well anyways I have one cichlid that starting to scratch himself on the rocks and its always him doing that. None of the other fish do that. So I was wondering is that he normally does or what?? < Check you water parameters. Other things may be irritating the skin of your fish besides Protozoans, like bacteria. Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be below 25 ppm. A little rock salt added to the water will help increase the slime along the outside of the fishes body. Do you have a soft water fish in hard water? When a fish is stressed from poor water quality or the wrong chemistry then they may not die from the water itself but from secondary infections from protozoa, bacteria and fungus. To be on the safe side I would service the filter and do a 30% water change for now and see if he scratches less.-Chuck>

Need Help II Gwen and Crew, Thanks for the quick reply. In response to your question, yes the tanks are all fully cycled; we test the tanks daily, and have no traceable readings of ammonia, nitrate or nitrite. I simply cannot figure out what is killing these knives. Any other insights or ideas you guys might have would be greatly appreciated. L. Barker <<If your water is being tested and there are NO ammonia or nitrite problems, then the problem lies with the condition of the fish themselves. You may want to re-think ordering them from that particular supplier. You also might try to treat them immediately upon entry with a decent antibiotic like Kanacyn or Ampicillin. I really can't recommend anything without seeing them for myself. The only other thing I can think of is your method of acclimation. Are they being left to float in open bags while tank water is slowly added? Instead, test the pH in the shipping bags as soon as you open them, match the tanks with an acid buffer, then transfer the fish RIGHT AWAY to prevent further ammonia damage. I assume you know all this, but hey, I'm out of ideas. -Gwen>>

Advice needed - Military Fallout Sorry for the long email but I don't know how to explain in short, and none of my web searches have come up with satisfactory answers.   I think all my fish are ill with different diseases, what shall I do? I have 8 neons, 7 red eye tetra, 2 silver hatchets, 2 golden loaches and some kind of catfish that may be a Pleco I just don't know. He looks a bit like a sting ray in shape. And 2 red wag platys. Tank size I think about 102 litres. PH, nitrite, nitrate and ammonia all perfect.  (the tank literally landed on us 16 weeks ago from someone sent to Iraq and we are trying to learn how to look after them fast) All was going well for about 2 months then So far 6 neons died within 5 days of each other but after treating the tank with I think a number 11 for internal bacteria the remaining four didn't  get sick so we got them 4 more to play with. A while later we got 5 red wags but one died within hours of joining the tank (he didn't look so lively to start with) and another 2 died in the next couple of days. They were just lying on the bottom of the tank before they died. Of the remaining 2 red wags one would not open its tail or fins out. In the mean time one of the neons we have developed a little black lump in his tail, then all the colour faded out of his tail. Then his belly got swollen. He has been like that for about four weeks now with no change in behaviour. He LOOKS sick but doesn't act it. so we treated the tank again with internal bacteria treatment.  Then one of the red-eyes started bending on his side and lying there, he couldn't swim just juddered then he died too, so the pet shop gave us some general tonic for parasitic infections and we treated the tank with that.  All was fine for 2 weeks although still no change in the neon with the big belly, but the red wag started opening all his fins for the first time since we bought them.  Then 3 days ago another red eye died just like that, he was fine when we went out and dead when we came back. And in the last few days 3 other of the neons have this swollen belly as well.  So are the red eyes just getting old do you think, and what might be wrong with the tetras who look sick but don't act it.  I read maybe it was dropsy, if so should I be euthanizing all sufferers immediately (supposedly very difficult to treat) and how shall I treat the tank? I read somewhere that neon disease maybe would make them lose colour, so many diseases I just don't know what to do.  By the way the only fish that have been cool the whole time are the 2 loaches and the catfish. Thank you for your help with such a long query and I'll try not to bother you again, I just need to sort my poor soldiers out :_( <With all the things going on I am surprised that your water quality tests don't show any abnormal readings. If the tests are reading true then next is the temperature. Make sure it is between 78 and 80 degrees. Once the water temp is up and ok you need to stop adding fish!. Every time you add a fish you are potentially introducing a disease to your tank. These fish may have initially come from Asia, South America and Central America and your mixing them all up in one tank. A fish that might look fine may be a carrier for a disease that it already has an immunity built up. The other fish may not and so your fish are picking up diseases from each other. I would service the filter and do a water change. Check the waters again. The ammonia , nitrite readings should be zero. The nitrate should be down around 25 ppm. If the water tests out ok then we can start looking at treating the fish. I try not to treat sick fish in the main tank because the medications same to affect the good bacteria that break down the fish waste and throw the nitrification process for a loop. I would recommend a smaller second tank. In this tank provide a heater and an airstone and a small flowerpot, cave or plastic plant for shelter so the fish will not be as stressed. Take some of the aquarium water from the main tank and place it in the isolation tank with some new water. Place the sick fish in the tank and treat accordingly until the fish is cured or has died. Once the tank has settled down and you have no more diseases then use the smaller tank as a quarantine tank for new fish. New fish should be in there no less than three weeks. This would have been very helpful when you introduced those sick platies to your main tank. -Chuck>

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