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FAQs on Freshwater Environmental Disease 2

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater DiseasesChoose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: Environmental Disease 1, Environmental Disease 3, Environmental Disease 4, Environmental Disease 5, Environmental Disease 6, Environmental Disease 7, Environmental Disease 8, & Cycling Trouble-Fixing, & Toxic Situations, Popeye/Exophthalmia, Nutritional Disease, Aquarium Maintenance, Establishing Nutrient CyclingAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

New aquarium-losing lots of fish HELP! I set up a 35 gallon aquarium about 3 weeks ago. I let the water run without fish and a heater (around 75 degrees) for 3 days before I put the fish in. I put 2 little frogs, and about 15 other fish (different varieties). The water had Stresscoat and Stress-Zyme added to it when I put the fish in it. I lost the 2 frogs right away and a couple of fish. The water started smelling and I changed some out and added something for the smell and cloudiness. <What was added?> By the next weekend I had lost all the small fish. I changed the water and put the fish back in.  My water got smelly and cloudy again and I lost another new frog and couple of quarter-sized fish. I changed the water completely, scrubbed the tank and added another filter. I ran 2 filters (one for a 30 gallon and one for a 20 gallon tank.) I noticed a couple of days later my fish had ick. I treated them for 3 days straight with partial water changes and thought I was doing better until I came home last night and several fish had gotten covered in ick over the night and day and were dead. I immediately took all the fish out (I was panicking) and put them in a small Betta tank, bought a new aquarium (since the first was used and I was worried some type of problem existed with the tank and filters) and then filled a new 10 gallon tank with bottled water and put the fish back in. during the hour and a half it took for me to set up the new tank, 5 more fish died. I now have 1 Plecostomus (spelled wrong), 1 small frog, 2 Gouramis (also spelled wrong), and 3 other small fish left and in the new tank. The water temp is about 75 and I added some ick medicine (since I still saw some spots) and some medicine I can't remember the name of in a blue bottle that is really popular at Wal-Mart and PetSmart with their staff for sick fish. I know I am really a novice at this but hate the fact I am doing something to kill these fish. I need your help. What should I do for the ick and am I doing something wrong with the aquarium? <Ahh, yes... you're missing a critical "step" in establishing biological filtration. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  and the linked files above> I read that you should only change the water once every 6 months or so and I have had to do it at least 3 times in 3 weeks. Your advice would really help! <Understand that, like our own health, the environment is a direct and indirect determiner of health... in this case, with the systems being so new, a lack of needed "conversion" filtration... your livestock is weakened, and at a disadvantage for actual treatment... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm  and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the related (linked) files... As you'll see, there is a needed "break in" period with new aquariums... things that can be done to prevent parasitic disease... You need to "go back several steps" and allow your system to age... Please don't buy any more livestock, nor "medicines" whose name you don't know... read for now. Bob Fenner>

Big Fish's Pop-eye Hi! I have an older Jack Dempsey cichlid, namely Big Fish, who has pop eye. I've read through the FAQs but didn't find quite what I was looking for. Big Fish is in a 55 gallon tank along with a female Jack Dempsey and a Plecostomus. How can I treat his condition without harming the others? He has had this eye for almost a year and it seems to be growing again. I've also attached a photo. Is he in pain, and is there anything I can do? Thank you, Maddie < Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Vacuum the gravel too while you are doing the water change. Then treat the tank with Metronidazole. This medication is very effective against anaerobic bacteria that are growing behind the back of your fish's eye. Big fish are very messy so it is important to keep the water clean and the nitrates down below 25 ppm.-Chuck> 


BIG induced troubles in a new FW system Hello thank you for helping other people with there fish problems. I'm not really new at fish but I just started a few months ago. I have a 20 gallon with the following fish. 1.red devil 3.convicts(black) 2.red tiger Oscars 3.pacus 2.plecos <Yeeikes! This system is WAAAAY overcrowded... psychologically, and soon physiologically> But really they are all still small. Soon all the other fish started to breath very fast!! Soon one of the Oscars started to go to the top and stay in that very spot!! But still I don't get it! They all still eat and they flare at each other but it just does not seem normal. I used to keep two big Firemouths in there they had babies then that going to the top thingy started then the Firemouths died and it went back to normal! Then it started all over again and that's when I turned to you for some advice or answers to my problem. thanks- Mike <Mike the system may not be cycled: please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and it has definite issues with the types/species of fishes present... My real advice is to return all your fish livestock but the Convicts and Plecos... NOW... and if you want the other livestock... wait till you have a MUCH larger system (hundreds of gallons) to accommodate them. Bob Fenner>

Terrestrial plants poisonous to fish Dear Bob,     I own a 55 gallon aquarium with tetras, danios, Corydoras, a Pleco, a Raphael catfish, rosy red minnows, and kuhlii loaches. My mom has a few different kinds of vine house plants. I have identified two as Arrowhead Vine and Devil's Ivy. I was thinking of using the plants in my aquarium. I was going to cut off a vine, put the end in the water, and let the rest of the vine hang over the side. Then when the plant made roots, they would be in the aquarium for the fish to hide in. The vine and leaves would hang over the side, making a external background for the sides of the aquarium. The problem is, I can't find any information if the plants or the roots are poisonous to the fish in any way. Are these two plants poisonous to fish? <Mmm, depends on what you really have... the Devil's Ivy worries me. Please see here: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-27,GGLD:en&q=devil%27s+ivy+toxicity The Arrowhead Vine I would also not use: http://www.umm.edu/outdoor/common_plant_toxicity.htm> What if they nibble on the roots? I have had my aquarium for about a year now and haven't tried any terrestrial plants in it yet. Could you name a list of some vine house plants that you know are not poisonous to fish and could survive with their roots submerged? Thank You! <I would go with the tried and true Spathyphyllums, Pothos... but there are others: http://www.azgardens.com/newterra2.php Bob Fenner>

I am having problems BIG problems... self-induced... algicide, FW livestock In my bedroom tank which we call the "Love Shack" as opposed to the tank in my living room which is called "Death Row"... <Heee! Leave me in the bedroom!> ...any way LS is having problems, first of all DR had an algae problem because my husband kept opening the patio blinds in the mornings. Then I got some algae fix... <Yikes, dangerous... toxic> ...and we did a 50% water change, but I used some of the water to start the LS before the algae problem became apparent. So now the LS is cloudy as all get out and I do not know what else to do. I have done a 50 % water change, I have tried algae fix as well as tank cleaner where it gets all the organic stuff to clump together. <Counterproductive... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the related files above...> So far no go. In the tank I have 2 blue Haps 2 Yellow cichlids, 4 barbs, 1 Betta, 2 Balas, 2 snails, and my pride and joy Freshwater white cheeked Moray. His name is Hang Loose. <Quite a mix... you realize the Moray is not really freshwater? Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmorayeels.htm and the...> I love him to death. I am somewhat of an invalid and when I wake up in the morning he is right there by my side. He eats ghost shrimp, brine shrimp, and a little mussel as I can see it. Can I make the water brackish? <Now with the other animals you list... the world is vast, animals of environmental condition ranges that do not overlap...> If so how? Will it hurt the other fish? How can I get the water unclouded???? Thank you for your advice.  <Time for you to read, contemplate your options. Bob Fenner>

Marcellino, He Still Worries about Albert the Goldfish >Thank you I will let it be about the brown algae. >>Hello my friend. >But now Albert is growing back that gray film just on a little spot on the dorsal area like before. The temp of my tank is 75, and there is salt in it, what could it be? After I quarantined him for 5 days, that grey film was vanished, now is back, I really think that he wounded or scratched him self and he didn't recover yet but what can I do or apply to that spot to speed that up? Thank you again! I hope I am not being a pain in the ass, my wife tells me that I am obsessive compulsive. Ciao >>Now you have me laughing, I like your wife already. I don't recollect your quarantine procedures, I thought we'd only discussed what to do with the animal in situ. But I'm going to try taking another angle, see if this helps. Now, fancy goldfish, convoluted though they may be, are essentially like any other fish. That is to say that given the proper conditions, a healthy tank (to our eye somewhat dirty) they can fight off just about anything. So, I'm going to suggest you try plants. Not the aquatic plants folks normally use, but houseplants rooted in the tank. Without photos or other information that demonstrates to me that the fish is really in need of further intervention, it is my opinion that you need to ensure that you have the best, most natural environment set up for them. Now, you cannot have the usual houseplants rooted in salty water, so I would like for you to either take cuttings from your own Pothos or other plants that will root easily in water and get them started in a jar or something similar. In the meantime, over the next month or two, perform water changes without vacuuming the gravel, but also without adding salt. I think that the fish will be quite happy with this, as they'll find the roots interesting to nibble around, the plants will take up ammonia and other nitrogenous wastes, as well as being pretty around the tank. If you really don't feel comfortable with that, then I must reiterate Bob's admonition - give it time, keep hands off, and let nature take its course. I've learned that we can do the most damage by constantly messing about in the tanks, and I learned it the hard way. Maybe your wife is right.. I am positive that any children you have or might have could not ask for a more attentive father, the fish, on the other hand, do better when left alone a bit. Don't worry, even if you were being a pain, I still love you. Marina 

Marcellino's Going to Try Not to Worry - Albert the Goldfish Has a Good Father >I will let it be like you said. >>I have a feeling your wife had a lot to do with this, eh? Give her knuffels from me (Dutch-style hugs & kisses). >Thank you for all your help, you are really great Marina! >>You're welcome, but I don't know about great. Maybe we should ask my fiancé about that tonight. >I bet you are a real wonderful person not just an amazing fish keeper. >>Oh, stop! I try to help is all, and I know people do worry. But believe me, I've irritated more than my fair share of people, too. >Ciao Marina e grazie! >>Vaya con Dios, Marcellino, es de nada. Marina

Albert's Accursed Castle was the Culprit! >The worry is actually completely over because my wife solved it! I took off that castle out of the tank and magically in two days Albert doesn't have that grey film and redness anymore. >>You're joking. I want to kiss your wife, Marcellino. How about *you* do it for me? >It's all vanished by magic. At the same time the nitrite now are very low hopefully in a few more days they will be 0 like it was before. It is probable that sleeping in that castle, he was resting his back against a part of the ceiling and getting irritated. >>Absolutely, and I don't believe I *ever* would have thought of the castle as the culprit. I'm giggling right now. >But strangely the nitrite got down, and the brown algae never really grew, they stalled. A damned castle! THANKS, Marcellino >>Indeed! You are very welcome, but the real thanks goes to your wife (who has probably been hearing more about the fish than I, yes?). Marina

Saving poisoned Oscars Hello WWM Crew, I have a good sized pond in my garden where I have 4 good sized Oscars. I should say I HAD 4 Oscars.  3 were Tiger and 1 was Albino.  Last Sunday during the dressing of our garden, we moved our Christmas tree close to the pond. As the pot in which the Christmas tree was very heavy, my family folks kept it on the pond sill. As it was a transplant from a smaller pot, we put anti weed in the pot and watered it. <Oh oh...> The next day, I was shocked to see that all my Oscars lying on their side on the pond floor. After quick investigation I realized that the anti-weed which is poisonous has flowed in the pond from the pot overflow.  I immediately started adding fresh water to the pond. I was able to save 2 Oscars but 2 died even before I realized the accident.  One tiger and one albino are alive but still quite sick. The tiger was lying on his side for a few hours but then started swimming. However at the end of the day, it sort of struggled and again went on its side as if it died. This continued for a few days but now he is back to swimming. The albino was on his side for almost 4-5 days and just breathing. He started swimming just a couple of days ago. however today he parked himself near one side of the pond and then slipped on his side. I thought he died too. But he is alive as he is slowly breathing.  Both of them refuse to eat and so I guess they have become too weak from the poisoning. I do not know how to recover them. Please help. I may lose these two too if I continue in the present way. <Don't worry re: feeding them... they won't starve... and will hopefully recover. There is nothing else that I'd suggest to "withdraw" the poison (now likely metabolized)> I have been adding fresh water regularly everyday in an effort to dilute the poison which might have got into the pond from the Christmas tree pot.  We have also shifted the Christmas tree away from the pond.  Your expert advice ASAP would be highly appreciated.  Ranjit.  <Am hesitant to suggest adding salt at this point... as your fish may be so weakened that this will only harm them further. Bob Fenner>

Not quite pop-eye in a Crytocara moorii? Hi WWM Crew, We have a 500 litre (132 gal US) tank with many African (mostly Malawi) cichlids. We do regular fortnightly 40% water changes, though lately this has slipped a little to every three weeks. I will confess to no longer monitoring water chemistry as we never observed any significant shifts in the levels when we were monitoring, despite the fact we like to keep our fish VERY well fed. <I too have African cichlid tanks... change water weekly, only fifteen percent or so... and never measure for water quality... our source water is very hard and alkaline...> We believe our water quality is not a problem, as many of our fish are breeding and we do not suffer any disease outbreaks. Our oldest (~5 years) and largest (both about 18cm or 7 inches) fish are a pair of male Crytocara moorii that have fought with each other as long as we have had them. They have only ever done minor damage to each other, despite some fairly aggressive mouth-hold-wrestling. <Typical, to be expected> We have never seen either of them go for the eyes, as they are fighting for domination, not to kill/hunt.  One of them has developed are rather awful looking condition on his eyes - a swollen red lump has appeared on the top of its socket, pushing the eye out so that he's pretty much looking straight down. Both eyes are affected, but one is much worse than the other. I've attached a picture of the worst side (sorry about the quality - taken in a hurry). We have read through many websites and pop-eye is the closest match we can find to what we are seeing, but I am not convinced that is the condition. If it is pop-eye, I apologize for the re-post but maybe the picture we help others diagnose their fish ... Thanks, Damien <Is a condition, exophthalmia... but what to the cause, effecting a cure? Likely directly the result of a physical trauma... a bump... from running into something in the tank, or tussling with its cohort... perhaps linked to a degree with the effects of delayed water change... But how to cure this? Perhaps the use of antibiotic, added to food or directly to the water... I would look into Mardel Lab's twin punch of Maracyn I and II first here... they are relatively safe and effective... AND I would add some sea salt... if you have a hydrometer... an increase of 2-3 ppt... or approximately a level teaspoon per gallon... over several days... with some Epsom (about a fifth) being the salt. This may take some time "to bring down the swelling", but the sooner you start the better. I want to be clear that such predicaments, if ignored, can become permanent, even lead to eye loss and death. Bob Fenner>

Fish deaths--urgent... order of organisms lost, environmental disease We have just lost a female Betta three days ago, a pregnant black molly 2 days ago, a pregnant guppy yesterday, an adult male guppy today, and today both of our 4 inch clown loaches and our four inch Plecostomus appear to be dying as well. <Good clue/s in terms of what died first, later...> All of these fish were swimming well the night before but were dead the following morning. The deaths have affected two different tanks, one 55 gallon, one 29 gallon. We test water quality regularly: pH 7.5 both tanks, nitrates and ammonia negative [in] both tanks, temp 76F, recent (last week) water changes. <Far enough back that this shouldn't be much of a factor> Only things we can think of are that we ran a menthol vaporizer in our bedroom (a separate room from either tank) when we were both ill with colds, and that we had a second female Betta who appeared scared in the 55 gallon so we moved her to the 29 gallon. She then rubbed up against the now-deceased other female but when she still appeared skittish and with poor color and poor fin movement we moved her to our 3 gallon sick tank and have kept her in quarantine. <Doubtful that the cause here is biological disease... too different species involved, no symptoms described that lead to this assessment> She is still living (this was a week ago) and swimming well but still with poor coloration (pale). We treated the 3 gallon tank with aquarium salt and Maracide. We have 18 small fish (Neons, angels, Cory cats, guppies, male Betta, balloon mollies, and a butterfly Pleco) in the 29 gallon. The 55 gallon has mostly larger fish (4 angels, a black ghost, a male Betta, the 2 clown loaches, the dying Pleco, 2 large Chinese algae eaters, 3 remaining mollies, plus 4 Scissortails and 3 hatchets.) These are both well-established community tanks with sudden fish deaths. Please help if you can. Thank you so much.--Beth <Something environmental is at play here... could be an aerosol problem... a coating of oil perhaps (happens in modern homes often) from cooking maybe... or the Menthol humidifier... changing some water (25%) and the use of a chemical filtrant (e.g. activated carbon) in your filter flow path is warranted here. Bob Fenner> 

Re: fish deaths--urgent...order of organisms lost, environmental disease Hello Bob. Thank you so much for your prompt response! No further fish deaths but the 2 4" clown loaches now have Ich. We QT'd them yesterday morning in our 3 gallon and treated with Maracide but by this evening had ammonia level of 1.5, nitrites 0.8, pH still 7.5.  <Yikes... do change a bunch of water... keep the ammonia, nitrite below 1.0 ppm> We had increased the temp. in the sick tank to 80F, but based on reading other articles on your site wonder if we should increase the temp higher? <Yes, I would... to the mid eighties F... with lots of aeration (gas solubility is greatly reduced in warmer water, and reciprocally metabolic rates are elevated)... AND add something in the way of a biological filter... likely a sponge or box type...> We are doing a 30% water change now and will re-check levels daily. Second and third questions: with levels so high but stressed fish should we feed? <VERY sparingly> And is this tank too small to be our sick tank? <Likely the barest minimum... a ten is about always the best size> (We've never actually had such large fish be sick before, and never more than 1 at a time.) Thank you again, and what a wonderful site you folks run!--Beth <Thank you Beth. Bob Fenner>

Re: MORE fish deaths--URGENT...order of organisms lost, environmental disease Hi Bob, Thanks again and sorry to bother you yet again.  Given the deaths of both clown loaches today and another fish in our 55 gallon looking as if she will die soon, would you please help me re-think this whole thing? This will be very lengthy and does not have to posted on the site if too long.  We have a 55 gallon with under-gravel filtration, aeration, and a Hot Magnum Pro-30 Bio Wheel. It is stocked with 2 4" angels, 2 3" angels, 1 4" Plecostomus, 2 3" Pictus cats (one of whom appears lethargic but no obvious Ich), 2 Chinese algae eaters (1 is 5" and lethargic, 1 is 3" and doing well), 4 Scissortails, 2 female and 1 male black mollies, 2 female balloon mollies, 1 male Betta, 3 hatchets, 1 5" black ghost, 1 2" tiger barb, who used to think he was a clown loach  Water quality: pH 7.5, nitrates and ammonia negative, temp 80F. This morning one of the balloon mollies was at the bottom of the tank. When I disturbed her she began to swim but was then chased all day by the largest of the female black mollies. She has not eaten or produced any waste despite being famous for her appetite and hanging waste. Her tail fin is clamped and my husband thinks it has 3 small clear discolorations which I do not see.  We treated this tank with Maracide 2 days ago when we removed the clown loaches but left the charcoal filter in. <Mmm, the charcoal/carbon will remove the medication> Today we did a 25% water change and treated with 5 teaspoons of sea salt but left same charcoal filter in.  Questions: 1. Would you treat the whole tank for Ich or quarantine the suspect species (balloon Mollie, Pictus cat, Chinese algae eater) and treat only them? <The whole system, all fishes need to be treated... all have been exposed. The best thing you could do now though is to elevate temperature... to the mid-eighties F. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > 2. Given stock I have described, how high would you raise temperature if treating whole tank? <Oh> 3. Should we remove carbon filter? (Remember we still suspect possible environmental poisoning here.) <You have to make the decision here... either to keep the carbon OR to treat> 4. Do you recommend Maracide or Ick Guard 2 or neither? <The Mardel product> 5. My LFS guy yelled at me today and basically told me I had killed the clown loaches by quarantining them. After an 80% water change ammonia was still at 1.5 and nitrites had *increased* to 1.6. <Very toxic> (Three gallon tank, not new tank syndrome, Bio-Wheel filtration, took out carbon filter.) I went to the LFS to purchase ammonia sponges. The guy there said I should never have QT'd the fish but should just have treated the whole 55 gallon tank with copper. <Do need to treat all... the system itself is infested... but be careful with copper compounds... many fishes... your lost loaches, your current knife are quite intolerant of this> He said all I did was stress them out further and "why did they have Ich in the first place?" I was trying not to kill all the other fish. Please understand that all of my fish have NAMES, just like my dog and 2 cats, and when they die I grieve. I do not understand what I have done wrong. Thanks for any help, Bob.  --Beth <Keep reading, studying re others experiences... archived in WWM FAQs files... Bob Fenner> 

Dying Catfish, new tank syndrome, high pH Hi sorry to bother.  I have a fairly new setup 20 Gal it ran for 2-3 weeks( to date is 2 months running) before introducing fish purchased 3 guppies, 2 catfish, 2 fancy tetras, ... <... "before introducing fish"... you purchased some?> The following is what has happened since purchase.  Female guppy gave birth, babies are separated, mother's tail begins to curve and turn white and was humanely put down, second guppy found lifeless on bottom no apparent symptoms, now one of the catfish is floating upside down and cannot keep itself on the bottom. Brown spots are appearing on gravel and glass (algae I believe) as well as small white strings attached to glass, only about 1-2mm long maybe smaller. <Good descriptions> I only have a test kit for a pool and it probably isn't appropriate for an aquarium but it showed a pH of 8.2. <Is useful on all waters... and a good reading... of a too-high pH...> I'm on my way out now to purchase the proper kits now and possibly algae eater... I'm looking for some advice and assurance that I should try and fix problems.  P.S. baby guppies are eating and swimming well. <I fully suspect that your losses and catfish swimming upside down are mainly the result of your aquarium being "too new"... and your water quality being "off"... Please read through our archived FAQs re set-up, water quality... the index here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm  Bob Fenner> 

Many Problems, Common Cause Hi, I know you are busy, but you guys seem to know more than anyone I know. So, here goes I have a 55 gallon with 1 marble angel about 4-6 inches, 2 rosy barbs (I think one is male and one is female but I'm not sure, both are 1 inch long), 2 Plecos one is about 4-6 inches long the other is about 8 -9 inches, 3 two inch clown loaches that stay pretty much deep orange and black all of the  time always thought this was unusual, 1 dragon fish or violet goby about 8-9  inches, 1 peacock eel about 4 -5 inches, 1 gold Gourami about 3 inches and a blue Gourami about 3 inches. I have had all these for 1-3 years in the same tank, I raised the angel from a nickel size. I have not ever checked the water  parameters even though I know I should and am definitely going to buy a kit ASAP. I had another angel that pretty much grew up with the other angel, he was  gold and also a veil tail like the one I have now, the two spawned and hatched  the eggs. I noticed some of them appeared to have fungus because they never hatched and were fuzzy, but to my stupidity they all were either eaten or sucked up into my filter or diatom filter, the gold angel was dead about a week after  the babies were dead and he didn't appear sick. Anyways, now my other angel, this is 3 months later has one of its eyes severely popped out with white stringy stuff coming out of it and a film almost completely over the eyeball and a speck of white stuff on its lip, and her mouth is gaping open like she cant close it, she also appears to be slightly leaning and hangs out in one corner of the tank at the top. One of my barbs also appears to have slight Popeye, and turned very  pale and has frayed tail fins, but the other barb chases it all the time and vice versa. My gold Gourami had a area behind his gill and eye that was  bleeding, I think the angels got him when they were spawning, and then it looked  like mold and his scales were missing and now its pink and shrinking, I treated with MelaFix and PimaFix 2 months ago. I am now treating the angel and barb with MarOxy and maracide2 because I am guessing they have Popeye and possibly a true  fungus. Do you think this will work? I have heard that this could be constipation but I don't know if my clown loaches, eel and Dragonish can have Epsom salts, can they? How much can I dose? Also if I can, can I give the Epsom  salt with the medicines? Please help I do not want to lose my angel or my barb or any of my fish! The angel is beautiful and so are the others, you would really have to see to believe! Also I should mention they all have been fed a diet of frozen blood worms, frozen brine shrimp, and the frozen green cubes that have lettuce, Spirulina or whatever its called and algae, and algae wafers for the Plecos and rich mix sinking tablets every now and then. I am so sorry for the long letter. I would greatly appreciate any comments and information. Thank You so very much, Shannon <Hi Shannon, Don here. All the problems you are having can be caused by poor water quality. You have a pretty heavy stocking in your 55. You should find new homes for the plecs right now. They produce tons of waste and will get even bigger. The loaches are OK for now, but also grow very large. Please do get that test kit. In the meantime I suggest you do a few large daily water changes with only Epsom and aquarium salts. A tbls of each per 5 gallons of water. Discontinue the meds for now. They will kill off the good bacteria in your system causing quality to drop even faster. We may have to go back to them, but for now I would just watch for any improvement with the water changes and salts. This may have started when the bad eggs started to decay. When choosing a test kit make sure you can test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Do as many water changes as needed to keep the first two at zero, nitrates below 20ppm. If you do not see improvement in a week, email us back with the test results. BTW, your Violet Goby really should be kept in brackish water and can hit two feet. You may want to consider moving him also>      

Mysterious Adult Oscar Deaths I had two adult Oscars: 1 red tiger and  an  albino.   Both were about 12 inches.  I have had the  red tiger for about three years; I adopted the albino shortly after  Christmas. He was a very healthy fish; no battle scars, no evidence of ever even  having hole in the head, very active, friendly, and a good   eater.   They were in a 55 gallon tank with a Filstar xp3  BioChem Zorb with Biochemstars and ceramic rings.   <Okay> We went away for two days and a friend with experience fed them with  no problems. Last night, (the night we came home) I noticed the tiger  swimming funny; he was dead a few hours later.   However, the  albino seemed fine.  Today, I did a partial water change because the  tiger died.  I treated the water with CopperSafe.  The albino  seemed sluggish, so I cleaned the filter and three hours later he was  dead. They both appeared to die from the same thing; they had problems  breathing, they had large holes near their fins and gills that appeared to come  form the inside, and then they started swimming upside down. <Not good... evidence of likely poisoning of some sort> My wife thinks that the hose I used (  ) caused the trouble.    <A good guess> Since, I added water to the tank with it last night and the first dies.  I  used it again today for the water change, and the second one died.   Could it be the hose?    <Yes... take a "whiff" of the plastic... especially when new, some hoses are quite toxic to fishes> Also, she worries because she has a scent stories plugged in nearby and,   even though it never seemed to have an effect before, she thinks that it was on   both times when the fish died.  Could scented candles or Scentstories cause   this?   <Not as far as I'm aware... and would likely have killed both at the same time if so> I am using new food, too.  Could the food be contaminated? <A long-shot, but yes> Do you have any other thoughts about why this happened?    Thanks, Dave <Are there any metals in the tank? Seashells? Geodes or other odd decor? If you're curious, there is a filter that can be placed in your tank (PolyFilter) that may give an indication (changes color) of the cause here. Bob Fenner> Fish staying near top of the tank Good morning, I have been reviewing your site and I am trying to find an answer to why my fish have decided to stay near the top of the tank.  I have a 30 gal tank with 2 Mickey mouse platys, 2 neon and 2 gold tetras, a 6 inch Pleco, 1 2 1/2 inch clown loach and recent addition of 3 high fin black tetras (2 days ago).  I recently had some problems with nitrites spiking, about 2 weeks ago, (my theory is the person who looked after my tank for a weekend overfed them as she also majorly overfed the cat and rabbit we also have!).  I resolved the nitrite problem with frequent small water changes and the levels are back to 0 (as are the levels for ammonia and the ph is also good, these were never an issue).  The platys (they are moving around a little more everyday) and the black fin tetras are all hanging near the top sort of hiding in the floating plants and are relatively inactive despite the levels being okay.  The tetras which were hanging near the bottom while the nitrites were out of whack seem to be fine and are swimming around at their usual level of activity. Is there something else I should be checking or is it that perhaps these fish just like the top of the tank.   < High nitrogenous wastes may damage the gills and affect the fish's ability to absorb oxygen. Day by day they are probably slowly recovering. Keep the tank well oxygenated, keep the tank as clean as possible and feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes each day.-Chuck> Thank you for your help.

Lymphocystis? I have a sick Wild Severum, or Green Severum as I've heard them called.  I read one of your E-mails about Lymphocystis.  The fish has lesions that appear cotton-like and come and go frequently.  It doesn't seem to affect the fish in any way, should I be concerned? <Mmm, only in so much that the appearance bothers you if indeed it is this viral complaint>   If so, how should I treat the tank, because I've already tried a diatom filter and ich treatments.  I have several other fish in the tank, which have not contracted this yet, and it's many months.  Should I be concerned for their health, also?                                                                                                                          Thanks,                                                                                                                              Kelly <This condition is much more common in marines, brackish fishes. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lymphfaqs.htm there are no efficacious remedies... sometimes biological cleaners, or physical removal... seems to trigger the host's immune response. Keeping your water "clean", properly nutrifying your livestock are definite factors as well. Bob Fenner>

Sick Harlequin rasbora? Hi, <Hello there> I just bought 3 Harlequin Rasboras today, and right after I added them to my tank I noticed that one of them is swimming erratically. Every few minutes, he'll roll over and drift upside down for a second or two, then he'll right himself and swim normally again. Sometimes he'll sort of spaz out for a second or two after he rights himself.  These little episodes last a few seconds, then he swims fine for another few minutes. <Sounds like the one was somehow physically damaged> When I was adding the Rasboras, I accidentally let go of the bag (Doh!) and one of them spilled out onto the counter.  He was in a pool of water. I nudged at him gently and managed to get him to flip itself into my hand within a few seconds.  I'm wondering if he might have gotten hurt though. Not sure if this is the same one that's having the swimming problem. <Likely so.> Here's the specs on my tank: 3 gal, new (3-4 weeks), just finished cycling. I have had only one Betta and a few plants in there until I added the Rasboras today.  Temp = 77.5. Ammonia = 0, nitrites = 0, haven't been testing nitrates but my last water change was about a week ago (I was doing frequent changes last week b/c my nitrites were spiking, but they are down and stable now).  I did a small (10%) change when I added the Rasboras tonight.  Floated the bag in the tank before I added them to equalize the temp.  So everything seems cool there. <Sounds like you've been studying, been diligent... Hard to maintain small systems compared to larger> pH has been about 7.4, I've been having a lot of trouble keeping it down lower.  I figured out that this is definitely due to my gravel, and have just decided to live with it and see if it clears up eventually.  However I did add some acid buffer before I put the Rasboras in, and brought the pH down to 7.0 to match the water they came in. <Good all the way around> It takes about 24 hrs for the pH to climb back up, and he started displaying these problems immediately, so I don't think pH is the problem here either. <Me neither> Does this sound like swim bladder problem (bacterial/parasitic)? <Not biological, or all would be similarly affected> Possible that this is the one that got spilled, and he got injured in the process? <Probably so> Should I remove him from the tank immediately to avoid infecting the others, or give him a little time and see if he recuperates? TIA... Best, -Dave <I would leave all be for now. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Harlequin rasbora? Hi again, <Dave> It's been about 24 hrs now, and the condition of the Rasbora I described below has not changed much-- he's still swimming fine in general, and then having these brief "fainting spells" maybe every couple of minutes. But I've also noticed that he's being a little aggressive towards the other Rasboras-- as with the "fainting spells" the aggressiveness is intermittent. My Betta is chasing them around a bit, so I'm not sure if this is further evidence of illness or just stress.  He sure seems to swim fine when he's being chased. ;) <Likely all just "normal" behavior... aquatic worlds are indeed vivacious> Just another data point I guess... from what I've read (my actual experience is limited) this sounds like what people describe as reaction to toxic water conditions, but my water tests good and there's nothing potentially toxic in the tank (no metals, plastics, or sealants-- just plants and gravel). So any guidance you can offer would be muchly appreciated! Thanks, -Dave <Mmm, I sense there is nothing wrong here. Naught to worry about or do other than what you're doing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Harlequin rasbora? Thanks Bob.  The little one did indeed pass on to that great river in the sky.  Now I have another that is exhibiting similar symptoms (fainting, rolling over), but I believe that you are correct about the injury being the cause-- the one that is having problems now got his fins nipped by the Betta.  I think this happened because when the first one died, I was down to two, and they were quite listless without a school, and thus easy prey for my persnickety Betta. <Ahh, good speculation> I isolated the injured one, and he seems to be doing ok.  I also got 3 more rasboras, and they all seem happy, and the Betta has calmed down a bit-- probably realized he's outnumbered. <Heee! I feel the same way when I visit the donut shop!> Anyway, thanks for the help, and thanks to you and your crew for keeping this all going.  It's really a fantastic resource for the aspiring aquarist. Best, -Dave <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

More sick Harlequin rasboras... induced swing in pH troubles Hi again, Well, I have now lost 4 rasboras total, and am down to 2. At first I attributed this to injury (I fumbled one transferring to the tank and another got his fins nipped by my Betta) but now I am not sure. The third just showed up dead this morning-- it had been pretty badly chowed by the Betta, but given that the Betta has stopped chasing them, I suspect the chowing was post-mortem. The fourth died tonight. Only symptoms were seeming a bit listless for the past couple of days, and fading color. Now the colors seem to be fading on one of the remaining 2. Sigh. My pH is stuck around 7.4 these days. I've been adding acid buffer in small doses daily. I bring it down to 7.0, it drifts back to 7.4, etc, every 24 hours or so. I was thinking that fluctuating between 7.0 and 7.4 might be less stressful than a constantly high 7.4. Could the changing pH really cause them to die off that fast-- we're talking 1-2 days here?  Everything else is good, ammonia, etc. Maybe I should just wait until the pH comes down on its own before I try more fish? Thanks, Dave <There is nothing wrong with a pH of 7.4. I would not attempt any changes. It is not an "incorrect" pH that causes problems. Most of our freshwater fish can handle a wide range. It is the change in pH that kills, as you are learning. The very best pH is a steady pH. A daily swing of .4 is a massive change in pH. IIRC, one tenth is a tenfold increase or decrease in acidity. And it takes a few days for pH shock to kill. So I think you found the problem. The real value in pH testing is to compare the tank to your tap water when setting a water change schedule. If they are the same you can do larger water changes more often. If the 2 pH's differ, you need to do smaller water changes to prevent shocking the fish. For right now I would suggest you do small water changes of about 10 to 20% every two or three days until your tap and tank converge again. As long as it holds steady, do nothing. When stocking, check the pH of the bag water against your tank. If they are the same, just float for 20 minutes or so to match temp and release. If they are off by more than a tenth or two add about 10% tank water every 20 minutes or so until they match. If they are off by more than a full point, you should set up a drip system. Place the fish and his original water in a bucket below the tank. Start a siphon using a standard airline tube with a loose knot tied in it. Adjust the tightness of the knot to allow a slow drip of the tank water into the bucket. Then bag him with the adjusted water and float to match temp and release. Don>

Re: More sick Harlequin rasboras... Gentlemen, <Okay> I do understand the basics of pH/acidity/alkalinity, but there is plenty more for me to learn.  The biggest mystery is why, when I mixed a small amount of tank water (pH 7.4 stable) with bag water from the store (pH 7.0) I got a massive drop to pH 6.4!  Logic says that this was because I had a lot of acids in my tank which was being buffered by the alkalines, and that once removed from that alkaline environment the acids predominated. <What?> But, logic would also say that the water I took from the tank would have had equal amounts of acid and alkaline buffer, which would continue to "balance".  So clearly there are subtleties of chemistry that I do not understand here. <This makes no sense... At one time I taught High School Chemistry and have almost (one course short) of a minor in the subject from college... there is no way to mix a solution of pH 7.4 and 7.0 and get a resulting pH of 6.4> Interestingly, I did some more testing along these lines, and found that if I added a ~lot~ of tank water to store water then I did not get this effect-- i.e. if I mixed 50% tank with 50% store then I'd get pH exactly in between.  The mysterious pH drop ~only~ happens when I add a ~small~ amount of tank water to store water.  Interesting, eh?  I guess this would be a good time to go for that PhD in chemistry... <Bizarre> So I've killed 7 rasboras so far, 2 left.  Even the ones that I acclimatized properly aren't doing well.  I think it's partly the stress of being constantly chased around by the Betta.  Oddly, he seems to calm down when there are ~more~ rasboras, but I can't keep enough of them alive!  I think I'm going to give up on this and just keep the Betta alone, and get a new, larger community tank. <Good idea> Unfortunately, my Betta isn't doing well either, and I am somewhat at a loss to explain.  He is clearly losing finnage (pelvic and caudal), but there are no visible signs of fin rot-- no spots, tears, ragged edges, just getting a bit shorter every day.  His pelvic fin is also slightly clamped.  I thought maybe the rasboras were nipping at him, but I spend a ~lot~ of time watching them (they are right on my desk where I work all day) and I have never seen them chase him.  He is also scratching at his gills every once in a while (rubbing against a plant leaf) but again I see no evidence of any swelling, discoloration, parasites, ich, velvet, etc etc.   <Something is definitely wrong/awry with your water chemistry period... Do you have metal objects in your tank? Shells from the seashore... a geode from a trip out to Arizona?> The fin loss concerns me greatly but I am not sure what to do.  Should I assume bacterial fin rot?  If so, what do you recommend as a treatment? <See WWM re Betta Disease> Thank you both so much for your time.  I feel like I've lurched onto your site and immediately become a pest.  Hopefully one day down the line I'll be able to give something back. Best, -Dave <Dave, there is a chemical filtrant called "PolyFilter" that I'd get, place in your tank... it will turn color likely... and what color/s this turns out to be will provide valuable information. Bob Fenner>

Re: Accurate Test Kits ? I did check the dates and they are fine the kit I was using for nitrates expires 2007. I have never heard of LaMotte kits. I had to go to 4 stores to find Tetra Test kits. It was either that or the strip kind of tests. Thanks for the info anyway I will try and find LaMotte kits. About the fish though I was checking back in my records and it appears I have not checked PH since the beginning of December in the 90 but looking at the records for the 75 it seems the PH has changed from 7.4 to 7.8 since the end of December. Could this have caused the problems for my fish ? < No, this pH range is well within the normal range for Lake Malawi Cichlids.> All the other fish in both tanks seem fine although the barbs seem to be scratching in the 75. I thought that a gradual change in PH is ok but a sudden change would harm all the fish ? < Gradual is ok but sudden shifts in pH especially below pH 7 usually mean that the buffering capacity of the tank is gone and it may be ready to crash.> I have tried to include a couple of photos to see if you can see the difference in colour between the two fish . Image 471 shows the sick fish and 473 shows a healthy fish. < Sorry, the photos did not make it.> Any ideas ? < If the tank is in good shape with no excessive nitrogen problems then I would start looking at possible protozoa infections. It is similar to ich but does not develop any white spots. Try treating the tank by heating up the water to 82 degrees and see if that makes any difference. Then I would think about treating the tank with clout.-Chuck.>

Juwel Aquarium Hello.  My son bought a Juwel RIO 125 Multilux aquarium, complete with lights, heating system and pump for fresh water fish. <A very nice rig>   He set it up with gravel (washed thoroughly)  plants, and granules for the plants placed under the gravel with some rocks as hide outs. <... the rocks from where?> The bacteria took one month to reach a good level and the water sample taken to the pet shop has given the go ahead to stock the tank with some fish. <Sounds good thus far> He has 8 guppies, (4 males & 4 females) 4 minnows, 1 Siamese fighting male and 3 Siamese females, <Mmm, the Betta/Siamese Fighter may go after the male guppies' tails, the females...> a sucker cleaning fish and 5 little pink fish that I can't remember the name of.   <Maybe a small "aquarium notebook" could be of use in recording activity, water tests, history... and purchases> Things seem fine but he has lost three little fish due to them being stuck onto the pump grate and hence drowning.  The male Siamese fighter seems to like this place and spends most of his time there "resting " on the pump.  Even when we turn the pump off to feed, he returns to this place.  Should we try to put up some form of netting barrier placed a little distance from the pump inlets and drawn tight to avoid the fish being trapped in it? <Worth trying... though most fishes know or learn better in short order> Has anyone else had this problem?   <Not uncommon> I would be grateful for any advice. One last question - is the tank now fully stocked? <Far from it... rules of thumb abound for how much life per gallon... but you are no where near full capacity, considering the ultimate maximum size of the fishes you list, their temperaments> they all seem so small and lost in all that space and although I know they will grow, could me son add any others? <Yes> Really look forward to hearing from you. Lesley & Aaron <Take your time here... reading books, magazines, on the Net, taking notes, chatting with your stockists re what might go in your system. Best to add new livestock slowly, over time... and through quarantine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Juwel Aquarium Dear Bob, Thanks for replying, good of you since it's over the xmas New/year period. Happy New Year by the way! <Thank you. To you and yours as well> Well since my last mail, we have lost all but 3 female guppies, the 3 Bettas females and the male!  It's all very distressing.  They seem to get weak and pass their time at the surface, could they lack oxygen? <Not likely... not only is your system quite large, but the Bettas are aerial respirators! Very likely your system is not cycled... they are dying from ammonia, nitrite poisoning... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the Related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top)>   The lights are on for 8 - 10 hours a day. You ask where the rocks came from, could it be this? <Yes>   One is an ornament bought in the shop but the others are from the large gravel and one which has quartz crystals in it.  Could this be the cause? <Could be> Should we take them out at once? <I would... and put in another large container with water, test with an inexpensive aquatic animal for toxicity>   we'll get to the pet shop A.S.A.P to do another water test and get some testing equipment for ammonia etc. <Ah, good> My son  now has a book.  The pet shop said that the fish could get off the pump if they were well so they are suffering from something, lose their strength and cannot free themselves, sounds feasible. Look forward to hearing your advice on the rocks Lesley & Aaron <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rkwduseaq.htm and the Related FAQs Bob Fenner>

Scale Loss I have a one hundred gallon tank with a Lifeguard filtration system and an undergravel biological filter powered by two 550 powerheads, both of which aerate the tank. My tank has been established eight months. I recently lost a jack Dempsey and Texas cichlid to some sort of disease. It appears as though my Australian Arowana is starting to show signs of flaking scales on his nose. The only other fish currently in the tank is a Plecostomus. Both deceased fish lost chunks of scales before dying then appeared to loose their fins either right before death or at death. I quarantined the Texas and tried an ich med but it failed. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks John <Lost scales is usually a sign of Bacterial Hemorrhagic Septicemia. A big name for dirty tank disease. I strongly suggest the removal of the UGF. Reduce the gravel to a half inch and use a gravel vac to remove, not hide, the waste and uneaten food. Increase your filtration with a good power filter. Have it in place for a month before removing the UGF. In the meantime do daily water changes to get the water as clean as possible. If he continues to decline you can treat the fish with Oxytetracycline.>

Fish aggression and injuries This is truly scary. My fish actually look like something from a horror movie. I have a number of African Cichlids. The only one I am truly sure of is a Green Scat. This fish currently looks like someone took a carving knife to one side of his body. Another fish ( I am not sure of the exact type) has a 1" x 1/8" chunk of skin removed, down to the muscle. Another fish is in much the same condition but on both sides. I have 8 fish, including a catfish, in a 30 gal. tank. There are lots of rocky hiding spots and live plants. No new fish have been added in over 8 months. All this started happening out of the blue about 1 week ago, things have gotten worse since then with the missing flesh showing up today. I have started  treating the tank with Maracyn. This is really painful to see and not know how to help. Thanks in advance. < Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace for bacterial infections. Follow the directions completely on the package. Watch for ammonia spikes. This medication may affect the good bacteria needed to break down fish waste.-Chuck.> Popeye fish I have a king Kong parrot fish is has one Popeye I used Maracyn-two  for  5 days change water 50% percent then put 2 tablespoon Epson salts in  is not as big it is red on top is their anything else I can do  I don't want  to lose him   < Internal bacterial infections behind the eye are difficult to treat. Keep the water clean and treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck> thank john

Kissing fish with a missing eye Please help! My husband recently brought home a kissing fish to join our Betta and one other fish (not sure what it is) in our new aquarium. We noticed after we got the kissing fish home that one of his eyes seemed to be bulging out a bit. Sometime last night, his eye fell out! This is quite distressing as I have not ever seen this before. He seems to be fine and has actually become a bit more active (strangely enough). The other eye appears fine and so does the fish's body. What could have caused this? Are the other two fish in jeopardy? Should we separate the kissing fish? I have had the Betta about 6 months and have become very attached to him. I would be upset if he caught something communicable. Please help! < More than likely the new kissing fish had a case of pop eye. This is where the eye socket has bacteria behind the eye and as the bacteria multiply and metabolize the eye protrudes from the socket. I am sure that the Betta or the other fish plucked it out and ate it. Watch for fungus but the fish should now be fine with its one eye. It is caused by stress and dirty water.-Chuck> Erin Messy Fish Convention Hello. I had an eel recently and was having trouble feeding it and then he started eating a little bit. But recently I noticed he was breathing really hard and he turned white and died. I noticed that closer to the tail there was a hole in  him. How did this hole appear and how did he die? By the way I have 3 Oscars and  a Pleco and a red parrot in there with him in a 55 gallon tank with a emperor 280 BioWheel filtration. Everything showed good except the ph level said it was  alkalinity. <First guess is poor water quality. You are over stocked and under filtered. Depends on the size of the fish of course, but there is no way to keep all these fish healthy and growing in a 55. All produce vast amounts of ammonia, the Pleco most of all. If you are testing, please give us the numbers in the future. I would suggest another 280 or even a 400 to deal with ammonia and nitrite. Then the problem becomes nitrate. You need to do as many water changes a week as it takes to keep it below 20ppm. If these are adult or near adult fish, that may be two or three 50% water changes a week! Better to upgrade the tank size or pick your favorite two and find new homes for the others. Don>

pH Swings Dear Don:  I am at my wits' end with my tank and you were such a huge help to me before I thought I'd try one last time to see what on earth I'm doing wrong.  To refresh, I have a 10-gallon freshwater tank with 1 Oranda, 1 calico goldie and 1 Pleco.  Major new tank syndrome which you advised me to do daily water changes until tank was established.  Things improved until Oranda got white body slime on her so I contacted WWM again - advised to continue water changes, wean from ammonia pillow and medicate in qt tank if necessary, which was not necessary as Oranda improved.  However, she seemed to "shrink" - she was somehow smaller and skinnier overnight.  My whole family noticed it.  But she was eating well and had lots of energy and very friendly.  Ammonia pillow was removed and levels did not change for the worse. Then my filter motor went kaput  Nov. 30.  Had not changed filter yet as I'm still trying to establish tank and was advised not to until levels were better.  Old filter was gunked out with slime and was disposed of; new filter was installed - have done almost daily water tests but started again with daily/every other day water changes as seemed necessary due to increased levels of nitrate and ph.  I have not changed more than 50% at a time and last 2 changes only 25%.  Nitrite level remains at 0.  Have added up to 1 heaping tablespoon of salt each water change depending on amount of new water. My Pleco up and died 12/5.  No signs of problems before, just dead in the tank that morning.  Water test that day: nitrite 0; nitrate 20; alk 120; ph 7.8; ammo .25. Ammonia level has remained at .25 forever - my water is well water - even RO water is .25.  Aging water does not lower level.  Did 50% water change. 12/6 got new Pleco; rocks and plants (plastic) are slimy; water is clear; new Pleco is sucking on everything and his digestive system works QUITE well if you know what I mean.  He's just a tad smaller than my original.  Have not noticed any waste from either Oranda or goldie but goldie is growing like mad and noticeably healthy so I know it's happening even though I don't see it, so really not sure about Oranda either. 12/7 Oranda not eating and not moving right front flipper fin.  I'm thinking she rubbed up against a rock maybe? and hurt herself so she's not hungry?  Is it possible for a fish NOT to be hungry?  No visible signs of problems on fin.  Tested water: nitrate 20-40; nitrite 0; alk 120; ph 7.2; ammo .25.  Did small vacuuming/25% water change. 12/8 Oranda eating flakes and peas; hangs out at top of water in corner of tank and barely swims so not sure of condition of fin; water test nitrate 20-40; nitrite 0; alk 120; ph 7.2; ammo .25.  Did small vacuuming/25% w/c. 12/9 Oranda not eating; refusing peas which she loves; still hanging at top corner of tank, no swimming; water test nitrate 20; nitrite 0; alk 120; ph 7.8; ammo .25.  ph has climbed again but nitrate has lowered. At this point I just don't know what to do.  I'm afraid I'm doing too many water changes but still have not established tank.  Don't know how to get the ammonia out of the water but have been advised not to use bottled water.  How do you establish if you keep changing the water?  How long should all this take?  How do you keep your tank established when you replace filters?  Should there be a bunch of green slime where the water empties out of the filter into the tank?  I don't have that but I've seen it elsewhere.  Any idea why my Oranda is getting smaller instead of bigger even when she eats?  or why she's at the top of the water only? or why she has no energy?  Even when I vacuum the tank there's still a bunch of gunk and debris in the gravel afterwards but unless I do a huge water change I can't get all of it.  How do you do that, or should you?  Am I supposed to be washing this stuff off?  Because if so how do you get established? I am unemployed and can't afford the more expensive aquarium or test equipment.   I feel like everything I'm doing is prohibiting development of fish and tank but when I don't, fish either get sick or die.  After 3 months, shouldn't I be farther along than this?  I'm trying not to get too discouraged, but... Any advice you can give is certainly appreciated.  Thanks very much for your time and your help.   Robin <Hi Robin, Don again. I see two problems. Your pH is jumping all over the place. Not good. One of the signs of pH shock is excess body slime and white patches on skin. Check the pH of your tap water and the tank. If they are off by more than 2 or 3 tenths do smaller water changes more often. If they are very close together increase to 50% to control water quality until your filter is established. For help with that please read here.   http://www.marineland.com/articles/1firstthirty.asp Doing water changes will slow, but not stop, the process. but you need to do them to save the fish in there now. The other problem is replacing the filter. I forget what type you have, but the idea here is to establish that bacteria. Replacing the filter starts the process all over again. If your filter has some sort of "Bio Media" that is what you should NOT clean. The charcoal and floss can be replaced. If this is a sponge filter, either leave it alone or rinse it out slightly with old tank water. Never tap. It usually takes about four to six weeks to cycle. And if you are getting a reading of .25 on every thing you test, the problem is the test. R/O water will read zero. Why your fish seemed to get smaller is a puzzle. Thinner I can understand, but not shorter. Did he loose some tail?>    

Overstocked Tank Started a 10 gal aquarium 8 weeks ago...started out with a tiger barb, catfish, an African frog and a couple other that I can't remember the name of. Everything seemed fine the pH was a little high but started treating right away. Then one morning my catfish seemed to lose his equilibrium...that is he, I don't know it was a he, just assumed I guess, started floating upside down in the tank but was still alive. Would make attempts to swim, but failed, the water from the filter would blast him to the bottom and then the other fish would nudge him around. I remove him from the tank and quarantined him and about 5 hours later he died. Everything has been fine since then, that was about 1 month ago, 10 days ago I added two new fish.  I can't find where I wrote the name of the fish down at but I know it was described as a good fish for a beginner, very hard to kill, but now it is doing the same thing my catfish did. I test the water regularly for nitrate, nitrite, pH, salinity and hardness. Please tell me what is wrong with my fish? Kimberly <Hi Kimberly, Don here. Are you testing for ammonia? It sounds like you put all these fish and the frog in all at once when the tank was new. Ammonia will build up to toxic levels very quickly in these conditions. I'm not sure how many or what types of fish you have, but it looks like you have far too many in a 10 gallon. Start doing 20% water changes daily and read up on "cycling". Do not clean the filter. Make sure the pH's and temps match. Which brings me to your changing the pH. Why? What was it? Unless it is very high or low, it is far better to get fish that like the conditions of your source water without tinkering with it. Most fish will adapt and do fine even if the pH is not ideal for that species. It's a sudden swing in pH that causes problems> Insecticides and Fish... ...don't mix well. Okay, before I ask my question, I first want to say thanks!!!!! for all of the information that you have posted on this site. It has helped me cope with a vast number of problems if not calmly, then at least with something resembling competence. Many of our fish owe their lives to you guys.        Okay, we are operating 3 different FW tanks in our restaurant. Once the restaurant is open, we will have to have the place fogged for insects periodically or else the health department will frown mightily upon us. Since I am now personally attached to all 47 of our fish (we have a lot of Neons) and would be devastated should any (or all!) of them become ill (or worse!), I would like to ask how would you recommend protecting our tanks during the extermination procedure?  I mean, for food stuff and open bottles of liquor we just place plastic wrap over them, but would that work for the tanks? Especially since surface agitation provides most of the aeration for our tanks. I will also ask our exterminator, but I hope to hear from you all as well, since you're probably a little more fish friendly than the pest control people. < We use to run into this situation all the time at a pet shop I worked at with flea bombs during the summer. Cover the surface of your aquariums tightly with plastic wrap. Canister filters, undergravel filters and box filters are OK. Lose the outside box filters or wet dry's during the treatment. Run an air pump from the outside of the restaurant to each one of the tanks. This will create a positive air pressure in the covered aquarium. Even if the tank does leak at the plastic seal the positive pressure will force the air out of the tank and into the restaurant and prevent the gas from getting into the tank. Run lots of carbon through the filters to remove any pesticides that may leak in. Have you exterminator check the label of the pesticide for any special constructions around fish or ponds. Show him the response to see if he has any additional suggestions.-Chuck> THANK YOU! Sarah Orris Flying Fish Restaurant PS I wrote about a year ago about guppies with a mysterious breathing illness. I still have no real idea what it was, but Jungle Small Fish Saver did the trick when nothing else would. It seemed to clear things up nicely for some Neons and white clouds with similar breathing issues. SO

Re: Insecticides and Fish... Thanks, Chuck!        I only have one follow up question- When you say run an air pump outside the restaurant, I'm not sure what exactly you mean. Do you mean like a basic little pump for making nice little bubbles? I'm also curious about how you used to run the pumps outside without compromising the security of your place (leaving a door open). Could you give me a better picture? Anyhow, all of the tanks have canister filters, so that's all nice and easy.  Thanks again, Chuck, and all of the little fish (and the big ones too) say thank you too. < You need a source of fresh air to pump into the fish tanks. Set an air pump on the roof or out back in an area where it can be secured and you can safely run power to it. Once you have a working air pump sheltered from the elements then you can run an airline inside and tee it off into the three tanks. This will take a pretty hefty air pump since you are probably going to be a good distance away. The good news is that you just need the end of the airline just below the surface of the water in each tank to check that it is pumping air. You don't need to rely on it for circulation so you don't need an air stone or anything like that. As the air is pumped in then the canister filters will do the circulation. The fresh air will leak out at the surface where you have plastic wrap over the surface. Check with the exterminator about leaving the lights on or off during the process. I have heard stories about the gas blowing up after being set off by an electrical charge.-Chuck> Sarah Orris "Run an air pump from the outside of the restaurant to each one of the tanks. This will create a positive air pressure in the covered aquarium. Even if the tank does leak at the plastic seal the positive pressure will force the air out of the tank and into the restaurant and prevent the gas from getting into the tank. "

Uncycled Tank Hi, I am a moderately new aquarium owner with some experience with mollies and guppies in the past, but I have a new 20-gallon tank (charcoal filter, two air stones, heater, and live and plastic plants) and am having issues that I have not run into before. I hope you guys can help. I currently have three guppies, and two female mollies. The tank is about 2 months old now and I have had continual issues with water quality, including ph, nitrates and nitrites. I test the water quality every other day, but I can't get the nitrate and nitrite levels to stabilize. I have added aquarium salt, de-chlorinator, Stress-zyme, and Ammonia-out and keep the temperature around 80 degrees. We recently had a fungus issue and have just finished the treatment for that. Beginning last month, I lost a male guppy, then a female molly, then my male molly to a disease I have not seen before. The fish exhibited a slimming of body and then difficulty swimming smoothly, and then their bodies visibly curved and seemed to tighten till the fish could not straighten and had created a painful "C" form. It seems to take several days for them to die, and it is very difficult to watch and feel helpless. I have not found any reference to these or similar symptoms on the Internet anywhere, nor could my aquarium store give me any information on what could be wrong with my fish/aquarium. I have found something called "shimmy" that mollies are apparently prone to. Is that what my fish are falling victim to? If not, have you seen this disease before? Thank you for your help and time, Worried Owner Amy <Hi Amy, Don here. You need to read up on cycling, but here are some basics. Ammonia and nitrite must be at zero. Nitrate will never "stabilize". It will always climb as two different bacteria convert ammonia (fish waste) into nitrite and finally nitrate. When you use ammonia locking products you can disrupt this "cycle" by starving or poisoning one or both of the bacteria. Not sure what you used for the fungus, salt will deal with most cases, but that may have also killed off the beneficial bacteria you need to keep the water in good shape. If by "charcoal filter" you mean those bubbling box filers, I would suggest an upgrade to a power filter. I like the Marineland line with a "bio wheel". Look for one rated to pump between 200 and 250 gallon per hour. Whatever type you get NEVER clean the bio media. Do not even rinse it with tap water. In the meantime you need to do large (50%) water changes until ammonia and nitrite are at zero. Daily, or more, if needed. Continue until nitrate starts to rise. Then adjust your schedule to keep nitrates below 20ppm. Expect this to take around a month. As to the Molly problem. Lack of salt seems to be one reason. Mollies are really brackish fish. Some say the lack of salt alone will cause the shimmy. Others say it causes the fish to weaken and other infections set in. It may also be a reaction to ammonia or nitrite. Best course of action is to upgrade the filter, use a gravel vac to do frequent water changes, and use nothing but salt in the water. And test often. React to spikes with larger water changes, not chemicals. Good luck>    

Bad Start First of all, great website. I have read many of the sections, but have not seen a section on what to do when it's too late. <Yeah, we need to add that one> Me and my wife started a 29G tank 4 weeks ago. We set it up with an undergravel filter with approx 2" of gravel. <UGFs are a poor second to a power filter with a bio wheel or pad. I would suggest replacing this ASAP. They collect a ton of waste under them and are next to impossible to clean.> We filled it with tap water and added Kordon Amquel+ to dechlorinate, and added Nutrafin Cycle, both per the bottle directions. <OK, now were going to do a fishless cycle, right? 'Cause 'Cycle' simply doesn't> After testing <Good>and all was zero <What was at zero?> with a PH of 7.6 <OK> on day 3, we followed by adding 3 Tetras, 3 Penguins, 1 Clown Loach, 2 clawed frogs, and a Bala Shark (needless to say we jumped the gun). <That was not a gun. It was a cannon! Not only is it far too many fish, it is a very bad mix, IMO. The loach will grow slow, but reach a foot! The shark will hit 14 inches. The frogs are great escape artists. If any are missing in the morning, look on the floor. And if any of the tetras are missing, look in the frog. They'll eat anything they can catch and fit in their mouth.>  All went well, we added the Cycle per bottle directions and after a week of having the fish, we added 3 more Tetras, 2 more Penguins, 2 more Clown loaches, 2 glass catfish, and a rainbow shark. <That Rainbow shark will become very aggressive. Far too many fish> Now we have had the fish for about 4 weeks and the water is cloudy, <To be expected in an uncycled tank> but the fish seem to be fine. <They are not> Ammonia has worked it's way up to 3, <Deadly, you do have a major problem brewing> but dropped and re-rose after adding a touch of the Amquel as I knew it would. Nitrite is still 0 (went to .25 on week 3 before Amquel). Nitrate has been around 5 since a week after putting in fish. <Nitrite and nitrate will not start to rise until the first stage of the cycle kicks in.> I just did a 10% water change. <Good practice. Now do a 50% water change. Do them daily, or more, until the ammonia is at zero.> So we have 6 tetras, 5 Penguins, 3 clown loaches, 2 frogs, 2 glass catfish, 1 Bala shark and 1 rainbow shark in a 4 week old 29G tank.  One of the glass catfish is kinda not so glassy anymore with little white splotches in them. Other than that, all the fish seem good, but the water is still cloudy (white specs floating around). From what I've read, I'm lucky to have a single living fish, much less to have them all, but after reading so many horror stories, I am worried and was wondering what I could do to save my tank <I'm warming up for this> if there is an inevitable fish kill coming. <If you do not act, yes> Would an extra 10-20G Hanging filter help out? <Even bigger> Would a bigger water change help? <Yes, much larger> Am I in for a bunch of the fish dying? Thank you for any help you can give me. <First of all there is no way you can keep all these fish in one 29 gallon tank. You are going to have to return some. No way around it. In fact I think you really need to return them all and start over. I would remove the UGF. They collect tons of waste and are impossible to clean. They do a poor job of bio filtration compared to a modern power filter. Get one rated for a tank larger than the 29. Look for one that pumps around 200 gallons per hour. I like the Marineland line with a "Bio Wheel". Then do a fishless cycle by adding a raw shrimp. After ammonia and nitrite have both spiked and crashed, and nitrate starts to rise, you are cycled and can start to slowly add fish. Plan on 3 to 6 weeks for this to happen. Please research the adult size of any fish before bringing it home. No Clown Loaches or Sharks. Bio Spira is the only product that will instantly cycle your tank. It's hard to find and expensive. It is the two actual living bacteria cultures needed to convert the ammonia first to nitrite, then nitrate. It must be kept cool, so most LFS do not carry it. But even if you find it, it will not allow this many, or this mix of fish to live a full life in a 29, especially with a UGF. Upgrade the filter, find the Bio Spira and you could keep the Penguins and Tetras and add some Corys. Don> Guppy and Cat Deaths Hi, love the site.  <Thanks, me too> I found many helpful insights and tips. I have a 10 gal tank that is currently populated with 1 female guppy, 3 turban snails (I had one, then one day there were magically 3) and a catfish.  When I first set up the tank 3 or 4 months ago, I purchased 2 male and 4 female guppies <Good mix. Always more females than males, like a good nightclub> and the catfish. Within weeks of introduction, a few weeks after tank set up, all but the most pregnant guppy (which was pregnant for a few months before not having babies) and the cat were dead. A few weeks later, I purchased some mollies (1 male, 2 female) and a small sucker fish (ode-something).  These also died within days. The common factor with all this fish was the tail fins looked like there were getting chewed. I talked with the folks at the only pet store in town and brought in some water for testing, they could find nothing wrong with the water. The folks at the pet store said that I should wait a week or so after dying stops before introducing more fish. <Not a good plan. Going totally fishless for a month or so works for parasites like Ick. Not your problem here, IMO> For a long while I thought that the reason I couldn't keep fish was because of this incredibly aggressive guppy, and was going to wait till she died <Return her?> before getting any more (I don't want to introduce any fish if I think there are going to die, it makes me feel like a murderer).<Agreed in spirit, but no life in prison or anything!> I am wondering if waiting is the best thing, or do you think that I could try some more fish. <See below. Get a test kit first> I like live bearers, which was why I got guppies in the first place, but I also like a tank with fish in it.  What do you suggest? Pax Christi <Hi Pat, Don here. First and foremost you need to test your own water. Only trust others to back up your own results. And never accept "Everything's fine" from anybody. You want numbers. You should be testing for ammonia, nitrite (both must be zero!), nitrate (should be below 20ppm), and pH. Any good fish store should carry them. If yours does not, it's not a good store. Find another. The first three will tell you if your tank is "cycled". See here for a link to our forum where cycling is discussed.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/estcycfaqs.htm . pH is less important in most cases. Most domestically bred fish are able to adjust to a wide range. But a sudden swing could be fatal. Test your tank against the water in the bag. If they are off by more than 2 or 3 tenths you need to slowly add tank water to the bag to allow the fish to adjust. About 10% every 30 minutes or so until at least 50% of the water has been replaced. As to the ragged fins, this could be the water conditions (very high or low pH, ammonia burns, high nitrate over time, etc.. Many causes) or a bacterial infection. Even if it is bacterial in nature, pristine water conditions will allow the fish to heal itself in most cases. A Tbls or two of aquarium salt in your 10 gallon will help with this. I would not medicate yet, as this is a sure way to mess up your water conditions.>

A Siamese fighter- stress I've recently bought a Siamese fighter (male).. about 2 weeks ago I think. Up until now he has been perfect, no signs of stress, eating as much as I give him (about 2-3 blood worms per day, recommended by the pet shop people).. <A good treat food. Your Betta would be better off with a more varied diet. A lot of good Betta food on the market> I have done the mirror trick about 3 times in total to see what kind of temperament the little guy had, and also to show him to friends, etc. I realize that putting a mirror where he can see his reflection would cause stress, but am sure that this is not the cause of the problem, as this problem has started at least a week after the last time I did the mirror thing. The problem is that he seems to get really scared every time I put my hand or anything else near the bowl.. I'm pretty sure this started when I put a camera close to him to take his picture.. it is the first time I've observed this type of reaction. Note that it was not after I took the picture (with flash) that he got scared.. simply showing him the camera did this. I find this *extremely* odd..<I think it pretty normal for a fish to fear an object much larger than themselves suddenly shoved up to the tank> I'm pretty sure he's displaying fear because he begins thrashing about in the water when I put objects close to him. I have changed his water and used the correct amount of water conditioner <Only once in two weeks on a blood worm diet?>.. he's in a small tank on his own, not sure of the temperature, <Warm water fish. You need a small heater to keep the tank in the mid to upper 70's.> He's not in direct sunlight.. not sitting next to any loud speakers or anything.. I've got no idea what's going on. <First you need to start doing more water changes. Next improve his diet and add a heater. A very low flow filter would help a lot. But you want very little current in a small Betta tank. I think all those rich blood worms are fouling the water in a day or so. His thrashing could be the result.>   If you could get back to me with some questions or suggestions that would be great. Thanks a lot. Regards, Sam <Don> Real trouble with a new FW set-up Hi, I have a fish tank 2 1/2 feet long a feet wide and a feet high I have 19 fishes in it. I change ½ of the water every 4 days. (I should tell you that I have recently acquired the fish tank and put in a lot of fishes in a short span of 3 weeks.) The problem is that one of the red cap Oranda has lost its scale on one side of his body. And 2 Bala sharks are also showing similar symptoms. (all the fishes are not more than 4 inches long) .Please advise as soon as possible. I contacted the shop from where I had purchased them they told me to add 2 tea spoons of salt and 16 drops a medicine called RID ALL, but I do not think it has helped. < You should be checking the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. The ammonia and nitrite levels should be zero and the nitrates should be under 25 ppm although some fish have a hard time with any nitrates at all. In a new tank with lots of fish you may not be changing the water often enough or not changing enough water. Checking the levels will give you a better idea. Adding any medication to a new tank may affect the good bacteria that you are trying to culture to break down the fish waste so the cycling may take longer than anticipated. New fish missing a couple of scales here and there is no problem because they will grow back. I would not medicate unless I started to see any real signs of a treatable disease. Instead I would check the water quality and use a chemical to condition the water as well as coat the surface of the fish to prevent infection.-Chuck> Regards, Pavitra can't understand any thing pls help. < Go to Marineland.com and look at Dr. Tim's library. In there you will find articles on what is going on with your  new tank and how these terms affects your fish. Once you look at his articles then my answer should make sense.-Chuck>

I won a fish at a fair....now what? (9/4/04) I won a fish at a fair, <Congratulations ....I would assume either a Goldfish or a Betta > and it seems like it's breathing more rapidly that it should be. I have it in a container 6 inches wide and 10 inches across, and 8 inches high. There is gravel at the bottom of the container and a plastic palm tree and a little house. <Fish breath rapidly for a couple of reasons....one is lack of oxygen and another is disease. I would start by adding a small power filter to that tank or at least something to ripple the surface of the water for some gas exchange until you can get a filter . You need a thermometer to get some idea of what the temperature of the water is.> Is there enough for another fish or 2 more??? < Probably not it depends on what type of fish it is .... before you think about additional fish you should do some research, get this one comfortable and make sure it is not ill......start here..... Your New Aquarium: Tips for Beginners http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm Your First Aquarium http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm FAQs on Freshwater Maintenance/Operation 1 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintfaqs.htm HTH, Leslie> Bettas and Bass (sound) Hi, I would like to know how well Bettas can hear.  Are they bothered by loud noise or base?  Mine doesn't seem to be annoyed by the two, but I want to make sure I am not hurting him as I am enjoying my music! Thank you, Tadeja <<Hello. Fish can be adversely affected by the vibrations of loud music, too much bass can most likely damage the sensitive, tiny, ocular bones in small fishes. Loaches and tetras, for example, are quite sensitive to sound, their ocular bones are attached via nerves to their swim bladder. Fish that tend to swim in schools do so by vibration and can actually "hear" the fish swimming near them, and hence the direction they are going. Sight is secondary in many, many species of fish. They navigate by lateral line and sensitivity to the water pressure around them. If you have ever spent any time diving underwater, you will understand how well sound carries, and even the slightest noise is heard by all, heard by us, too, and our hearing is only half, if that, of what fish can hear. You should be careful with your sound system, I know it's not easy, and the sad part is, no one pays attention to stuff like this. People will play their TV's loud, their sound systems louder, and they think that because their fish are still swimming around like normal that it doesn't affect them. Tell me, can YOU tell a deaf person with hearing damage just by looking at them across the room? No, indeed. -Gwen>>

Fleas not the water kind) and aquariums Good morning to all I hope every one is doing well.  I have a problem and was hoping you could help me?  Recently me cat got out and didn't come home for a week and when she returned she had fleas.  I currently have 4 fresh water (2 African cichlid, 2 brackish puffer) all 30 gal. or bigger,  1 90 gal. reef with a 30 gal refugium .  all the tanks are in the basement. Is there any way to get rid of the fleas with out having to take apart all the aquariums?  I'm sure you understand what's involved in taking all the tanks outside.  Thank you for any help you can give me. < They sell these flea bombs in pet shops that create a fog in the house and lay down a film over the house to kill flea. It takes a couple of hours before you can go back in the house. What we used to do is cover the tank with plastic wrap and try a make sure it was tightly sealed. Then take than air pump to the tank out side and reconnect it to the filter through a long piece of airline. This way you had a positive airflow coming from the tank through the plastic openings to the room and then there was no way for the poison to get it. You could always check with a pest control specialist and make him aware that you have fish. Pesticides change all the time and almost all of them are deadly to fish so it might be wise to at least talk to a professional exterminator to be on the safe side.-Chuck>       Environment: 12 gallon Eclipse, moderately planted.  Temp 81.  Via Mardel 5 in 1 Test Strips:  pH 6.4, currently; I try to keep it at 6.8; Alkalinity 40ppm; Hardness 120ppm; Nitrite 0; Nitrate 20.  Via Mardel Ammonia Test Strip:   Ammonia 0.25ppm; non zero as I haven't changed the filter while medicating, as below. Fish: 1 3" Red Tail Shark (developed into a bully over the last couple of months), 1 2" (unknown) Cory (The store said Talking Catfish, but I've looked at some pictures since then, and that's a Cory!), 3 Cardinal Tetras, 1 2" Pleco (very shy), 1 2" Chinese Algae Eater (heavily picked on by the RTS), 1 copper colored Platy (Fry of one of the original fish), 2 Algae Eating Shrimp, N (conical (thin, sharp point cone) shelled) Snails, and the 2 aforementioned 1" Albino Cory Cats. The tank is 8 months old and is my first tank.  Original inhabitants were 3 Sunset Platies, 2 female.  Others added over time, with the Unknown Cory being the latest.  I've lost 2 of the Platys, a large shrimp, and a Cardinal Tetra to unknown causes, and a Platy fry and Momma Platy to Dropsy, Momma a couple of months ago, Junior recently. I feed them Omega One Freshwater Flakes supplemented with Hikari Algae Wafers, about 1/8th wafer a day. I have recently treated the tank 8 or 9 days for Dropsy with Mardel Maracyn-Two on the advice of the LFS (a good, locally owned store).  No apparent effect. I am going to discontinue the Maracyn, do a 25% water change, replace the filter. I also intend to start supplementing their diet with a bit of freeze dried brine shrimp and Hikari Sinking Wafers (on the theory that the other fish will love the additional protein and that it can't hurt and might help the sickly ones). Any idea what might be wrong with my fish?  Those dark blotches worry me... - Ron < Internal infections are sometimes tough to treat. But it sounds like the fish are picking up some bacteria from the gravel that doesn't agree with them. Next time you do a water change I would vacuum the gravel to get the build up of junk that has probably been sitting there awhile. I find that if the fish are still eating then there is a good chance they could be saved. I would do a 30% water change, make sure that the fish eat all the food in a couple of minutes each day and treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck> Bettas and Bass (sound) Hi, I would like to know how well Bettas can hear.  Are they bothered by loud noise or base?  Mine doesn't seem to be annoyed by the two, but I want to make sure I am not hurting him as I am enjoying my music! Thank you, Tadeja <<Hello. Fish can be adversely affected by the vibrations of loud music, too much bass can most likely damage the sensitive, tiny, ocular bones in small fishes. Loaches and tetras, for example, are quite sensitive to sound, their ocular bones are attached via nerves to their swim bladder. Fish that tend to swim in schools do so by vibration and can actually "hear" the fish swimming near them, and hence the direction they are going. Sight is secondary in many, many species of fish. They navigate by lateral line and sensitivity to the water pressure around them. If you have ever spent any time diving underwater, you will understand how well sound carries, and even the slightest noise is heard by all, heard by us, too, and our hearing is only half, if that, of what fish can hear. You should be careful with your sound system, I know it's not easy, and the sad part is, no one pays attention to stuff like this. People will play their TV's loud, their sound systems louder, and they think that because their fish are still swimming around like normal that it doesn't affect them. Tell me, can YOU tell a deaf person with hearing damage just by looking at them across the room? No, indeed. -Gwen>>

Toxic environment freshwater loss Chuck: There seems to be no end to the drama of fishkeeping!  I had two angels die last night-presumably to exposure to fumes of less than 2 tsp. of Pine-sol on my wooden floor.  I diluted it with LOTS of water, but had to use some type of deodorizer, as my daughter is potty training, and actually had an accident on the floor.  Obviously water wouldn't be sufficient to deodorize, and we obviously can't bring back the two angels that passed, but hopefully, you can give me some advice on cleaners that can be used around tanks.  Are there any?  I know angels are labyrinth breathers, so it makes sense that they were the two to go, due to the most exposure, but I thought that small amount wouldn't be toxic-obviously I was wrong.  I know this hobby is a "live and learn" kind of thing, but these deaths are really hard on me.  As always, your advice and expertise are appreciated. < Sorry but angels are not labyrinth breathers. Gouramis and Bettas are. Either way I don't think that this killed your angels but I could be wrong. You need to look for some other reason for your angels untimely demise. If you run good carbon in your filters it should remove most toxic substances from the water. Ammonia from window cleaners is an obvious choice that is toxic to fish but not removed by carbon. generally read the label and it is toxic to you it will be toxic to fish.-Chuck> Sincerely, Cyndy Monarez

A Major Tank Crash Thank you for your advice, I will be patient and follow it, I guess. What do you think about the product Algone?<Honestly, I don't use any "miracle products, as most are only really good at removing money from your wallet> Had the little Algone sack in the 10g and since I didn't see a difference after 1 week I took it out yesterday, since it stunk.<That would be a reason I'd take it out too!**grin**> Today the water is hazy grey, pretty cloudy, can't see fish. I am not sure if Algone has anything to do with it, do you?<Hard to tell, but I wouldn't be at all surprised> I always wash filter media in dechlorinated water and never wash the BioWheel.<That's by the book, the best that you can do> What do the nitrifying bacteria look like, are they visible with human eye?<Yes, ma'am. They complete cover LR, decorations and BioWheels and are way too small to be seen> I keep getting these globs of snot looking stuff in the (10g)filter which has no BioWheel, came with tank set up, I think it's a Tetra. So when I see that snot stuff I rinse it real good (1 x week maybe 2x), but don't touch the black sponge<Sounds good again>, and if I change the filter media I put the new one touching the old for a few days so bacteria transfer before I remove it.<That's even BETTER than I do it!> I was going to do a little water change this pm, but now after I read your response I won't. The 55g has nothing in it anymore I just left the filter running, I had only 1 white cloud left in it so transferred her to the 10g, I felt sorry for it all alone. Not being able to take care for the fish, seeing them die is getting pretty old and still hurts like it's the first time (I cried): )<Sorry. I truly know that feeling, but being male, of course, only "get things in my eye"> Anyway if I cont with a fishless cycle in the 55g do I have to add ammonia<??? No>, or will the previous supply from fish in the water suffice?<Ammonia is something you NEVER want in the water, deadly poisonous in even tiny amounts!> If I do have to apply manually, where can I get the product? I checked in dept store and garden supply but cannot find it.<Good. There's a real misunderstanding here> Gwen I was just going to reply to say thanks for the response and look I nearly wrote a book of questions. I appreciate your patience, I am sure you came across the same problem as mine over and over, but to me no matter how many posts and articles I read about cycling and cloudy water. It feels like mine is different.  I don't know it's just sad and very frustrating when I try to figure out what's wrong, why the fish keep dying; when I believe I am doing everything by the book, and I been reading a lot of info. Overfeeding? I only feed once a day, a pinch of flake food and 1/4 algae tab for Corys and Otos. Have been skipping days feeding and leaving lights on only a few hrs a day, sometimes less just when feeding, for nearly 1 week now after I read that algae needs light to thrive. Still clarity is not getting better.   The Vortex filter although only 1 week old, my boyfriend wants to keep it and he wants to modify it. Said it's a poor design, however motor is good, and would work better if motor was at the bottom not top of jar. Who knows maybe he'll come up with something good and help this addictive hobby. I am embarrassed to say that I got so mad yesterday trying to start the Vortex XL I broke the jar, I think it keeps sucking air from somewhere and won't prime.<That can be a problem. Often just turning it upside down will break the air lock a time or two. Check your fittings to be sure they are air tight as well, and are you charging the filter with diatomaceous earth?> Anyway we'll see, my boyfriend is pretty mechanical but not into fish, it's not like we can afford to throw money away. It's sad I though it would be the answer to all this mess. I reviewed feedback on several filters and was hard to decide what to buy. Was debating between an Eheim or the Vortex. The latter seemed to be the one for the job in question, and can use on multiple tanks. This filter can clean the water pretty fast if it primes. Anyway thanks again for your response, you have the best website, I spend hours reading. Thanks for the encouragement, take care, Teresa.<Don't give up. It sounds like you DO have an unusual problem (it's rare, but it happens) and I'm sure we can find a way to lick it soon>

FW Who done it Thanks.  That's a much better method.   Also, looks like one of my blue tetras has gone missing, and I don't see him anywhere.  I'm guessing one of the larger fish picked him off.  Of the fish listed, who do you see as the culprit? < The angelfish, depending on the size.-Chuck> Cyndy Monarez/Thomas Nelson

Ammonia, shipping water, freshwater tank, oh oh Chuck: Your expertise, please: I just added a school of 6 blue tetras (various sizes) yesterday in addition to 1 gold Gourami.  This is the 4th group of fish I've added, and my largest number at one time.  My ammonia reading today was 0.15 and my nitrite reading was .25.  I've noticed this slight spike every time I add fish, but it usually tapes off pretty quickly.  Is this normal? < If you added the water from the bag with the fish then this is to be expected. It could have come from the aquarium water that the fish were purchased in.>   Is there anything I should add to the water? < As long as the ammonia levels stay low then I might do a water change or add some Amquel plus or Kent ammonia Detox but I only would use these for sporadic use.> I've kept bubble wands going continuously to keep the oxygen level elevated.  I just need either reassurance or advice-whichever is needed. P.S. Water is still nice and clear and fish look happy and comfortable. < The water chemistry should be fine. Don't over feed. Your Gourami doesn't like too strong a current. -Chuck> Cyndy Monarez/Thomas Nelson

Severe Temperature Drop <Hi, MikeD here> I've just brought a new tank and after setting it up and introducing my fish I thought all was well. The next day It seems the heater had been knocked off and they temperature had been reduced from 26 to 18 degrees<I don't have a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion chart handy, but that looks pretty drastic>. All my fish were looking rather dopey and sick with the guppies all hanging out at the surface. After turning the heater back on and removing buckets of cold water and adding warm water the temperature rose back up. But I was too slow the guppies were pretty much dead.<Actually, just adjusting the heater and letting it warm gradually would have been just a little better> The next day the temp is still 26 but angel fish is upside down, did the temp fluctuation do this?<Yes. Fish are poikilothermic or cold blooded, meaning that their body temperature is the same as the as the surrounding water.> Also I'm missing a long finned leopard Danio cant find him anywhere? Should I be prepared to lose more or will they be ok now?<You may well lose more, plus I'd be prepared for an outbreak of "ick" from the sudden temperature drop. Just enter the word Ick in the google search and you'll receive a wealth of information as it's probably the most common problem in the hobby> I've checked the ph its 6.8 why did the angel die?<The angelfish had an extra difficulty to deal with besides just the rapid temperature drop which is already tough enough , that being that it's a tropical fish that originated in one of the equatorial zones of the S. American rain forest.  Many "jungle" type animals have systems that can't tolerate cooler temperatures, particularly cold blooded ones like fish, reptiles and amphibians, with mere exposure to temperate climes all that's necessary to prove fatal.>

Sources, treatments for FW HLLE disease I came across this article about activated carbon could be linked to hole in head .I just wanted to know what you thought. And if so what should I use instead of activated carbon. << I would use carbon.  I like it in a sump system or overflow maybe a week on, then a week without.  I wouldn't worry about it causing, or affecting hole in the head. >> Condition : HITH (Hexamita) Hole in the Head Symptom : HITH is very common amongst Oscars, Discus and other cichlids. You may observe disfigurement around the Oscars head, an approximately 1/8 inch deep crater that grows in the forehead and along the lateral line and this can sometimes lead to death. The fish does not seem to be in any pain, The fish does not scratch on the rock or anything, ( I have not read any information to confirm this. The Hexamita protozoan  is always found in the hole although the exact cause is not yet known. (Hexamita often exists as a low-level infection in the intestines of a variety of coldwater and tropical fish, most notably cichlids such as discus, angelfish and Oscars) Several factors can contribute to HITH;    Poor Diet - absence of vitamin C.    Activated Carbon - try not to use this unless necessary - could be linked to HITH.    High Nitrate Levels - Always perform regular water changes to minimize the effects.    Stress and Poor Water Quality Oscars are usually fed feeder fish, use of live foods, particularly feeders can bring parasites and pathogenic bacteria or viruses into your tank Treatment : Again there is no known cure however elevating the above problems are a start, HITH almost never occurs under conditions where the fish has been given a varied diet and good water quality. There are some commercial remedies available from vets Flagyl or Metronidazole. << The other important item to remember here is the difference between freshwater and marine systems.  This quoted passage appears to be freshwater driven.  In this case, I don't feel carbon is all the necessary, nor useful.  In the marine setting, it can be very helpful to help "clear up" the water. << <<  Adam B. >>

Fish out of water Today my fish Hawns jumped out of his aquarium. Luckily my husband revived him. He seems to be doing okay (considering he was out of his aquarium for at least 30 minutes).  But he does have a spot of missing scales. I am pretty sure it was from his misadventure.  Is there anything in particular that I should do for him and will his scales grow back? < Do a 30% water change and clean the filter. Watch closely for any bacterial attacks. Use a water conditioner that adds a protective slime to the fish. If the spot turns red from a bacterial attack then I would treat with Furanace. -Chuck>

Thermometer question My question is... are the tiny black pellets found in the thermometer poisonous to the fishes or not? thanks for your time. Mike <Actually, yes, they can be. Most modern thermometers employ small steel balls as ballast for this application, and these can rust, even in freshwater systems, causing trouble. Best to siphon out the gravel in the area, sort through and remove the metal, either by hand or magnet. Bob Fenner>

Barbs, something bunk with their environment hello, wanted to now could you tell me what this is my barbs keep dieing they have there mouths stuck open no function?  then they get some sort of fungus its been going on for about two months started treating with MelaFix  no results then done everything to clean that up waited then did ick meds.  still sick   repeated clean up then waited then hit them hard with paragon by   AquaTropics  for wide spectrum anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial control.. still have new case of  the mouth open stuck??????   I really don't now what else to do but dispose of these two so others wont get sick??? what  could I do.   thanks < Barbs need clean well aerated water. Check your water for ammonia and nitrites, both should be zero. Nitrates should be below 25 ppm. If you are convinced that it is not bacterial or protozoans then you could try and treat for gill flukes with fluke tabs or clout.-chuck> Kat..

Oily Layer on Surface Hi all, <Hello! Ryan with you today> Was wondering if you could help: <Surely> I have noticed a oily layer on the surface of one of my aquariums, I generally try and siphon most of it off when I do my regular water change, but I was wondering if this oily stuff presents a danger to my fish (2x dwarf puffers & 1 Otocinclus). <It's of danger because it's preventing the exchange of oxygen into the water.  Some filters are equipped with a surface skimmer, and maybe better serve your needs.  Tunze?  Good luck, Ryan> Cheers! Liam

New Tank Syndrome and Mouth Rot My husband and I just recently bought our first fish tank - a 72 gallon tank in which we put a dozen or so fish.  These include rosy barbs, tiger barbs, zebra Danios, bubblegum convicts, a Pleco, and a few gold dusted mollies. 1 Tiger barb and 1 rosy barb have developed a redness around there mouths which looks to have become infected.   They no longer have the ability to open and close there mouths.  They are constantly open and they cannot eat because of this.  Is this a common problem among barbs? since as of yet none of my other fish seem to be infected).  And if so is there a cure?  I feel the worst will eventually happen.  Any thoughts? As of the last water check all water levels of ph, hardness, etc. appear to be normal. <<Congrats on the new tank :) and yes, I have a bunch of thoughts to share with you. First, you should be testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. The first month or so means always testing these three things, ammonia and nitrite phases are quite toxic and need to be monitored so you don't lose anymore fish, by way of disease or death. Take a sample of your tank water to your LFS, the good ones will test for you. Ask them the levels, write em down if you need to. Keep track! Buying yourself test kits is an excellent idea, I am happy to say that Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Freshwater Test Kit now comes complete, you can purchase it for a reasonable price and it is worth it's weight in gold. Use it wisely :) As for your sick fish, they seem to have mouth rot, most likely due to the stress of being transferred, a new tank, possible aggression, high ammonia, or any combination of those things. They also could have been sick when you bought them. Check the dealers tanks to see if their fish are ill, also. Mouth rot needs to be treated with an antibiotic, ask your LFS what they sell to treat mouth rot. Always remove your carbon when you add a medication to your tank. Mollies usually get mouth rot first, by the way. Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy to help :) -Gwen>>

Environmental disease, FW Hi. <Hi there.> I have a 20 gallon aquarium and in the past 4 days 7 guppies have died from lack of oxygen.  They were  having laboured breathing and staying at the surface all the time.  Now the shark (not sure what kind, he has orange fins and tail) is doing the same thing.  I have a pump system with the foam and charcoal (both are brand new).  What can I do to keep the shark from dying.   <I suggest you get an airstone (or bubble wall) and an air pump.  hook the stone up to the pump and place it in the water.  This will greatly increase the amount of O2 in the water.  Good luck. -Magnus.>

Stumped ??? Hello, this site is terrific, and I spent most of last night reading on here.. but after searching and searching, I have found no concrete answers. Maybe you can toss some advice my way if you don't mind...  <I'll try>  I have a 15 gallon tank...8 small guppies...5 female, 3 male, 1 Betta, 2 speckled Corys., and a small 2.5 " long <what?>. PH 7.6, temp. 77 F... 0 ppm ammonia. Our tap water is dechlorinated using chlorine/ chloramine/ammonia remover and left to sit for a week in a bucket for at least a week before being used. 25% water change is done once a week using a gravel vacuum.  Our tank is heavily grown with green healthy java fern. We have two different kinds of snails, one small rounded snail which is not a problem in the tank and the other the conical Malaysian snail which is over running the tank. Although there are lots of these snails they don't seem the healthiest. Their shells have turned white and seem to erode away, there shells are transparent-like in areas.  <This is a good clue>  The other snails have no damage to their shells. The Malaysian snails also act different at times seeming to appear dead... their bodies slightly sticking out of their shells, unmoving. I watch them closely because if they were dead I would want to remove them but I see them move slightly and draw back in their shell or crawl into the gravel so I leave them be. How come one species of snail seems affected and the other isn't? What could be causing these problems?  <There are many different species of snails with quite different living requirements. I suspect your water has a lack of biomineral, alkaline reserve or both>  Also our Pleco....the 2.5 inch long thing mentioned above that was unnamed...LOL.. he is a couple years old and has not grown since we got him, we feed him algae wafers which he loves to eat. I thought Plecos grow to be big no matter what size their tank. He is also very aggressive and comes out of his log to chase the other fish around when he is being fed even when they are not bothering him, he especially hates the two Corys.  <Again, another valuable piece of information. Something in your water make-up is rate limiting>  The guppies seem to be doing good. I forgot to mention that the tank has been up and running for 8 years, new fish being bought every few years when old ones passed on or became ill. The filters are primed well with "good" bacteria, as would be the 1 inch of gravel on the bottom. The guppies do act strange now and then also...suddenly darting about or seeming to lose their color or appearing to fade. Their eyes also go black now and then. Could there be something else wrong with my water? The Ph of the water from the tap is slightly acidic, my tank water is around 7.6.  <From the pic you sent, it appears that the substrate/gravel is calcareous... it is likely boosting your tank water pH... perhaps other decor is helping as well>  Would water from a spring where people actually collect the water for drinking be better for my aquarium? The Ph of this is the same as my aquarium and it has no ammonia (nor does my tap water) or could the spring water add parasites?   The spring water is cold water, not tropical.  <Worth experimenting with mixing in some of your spring water... let it set with the treated tapwater>  I also forgot to mention that there is two power filters on the tank each suitable for a 15 gallon tank, plus a small sponge filter in the back corner. There is also two air stones. There are two ornaments that are made to resemble drift wood. Lighting is provided by two fluorescent tubes.  Do you have any advice?? What could be wrong with my water?? Should I use spring water??  Your site is great and I have learned a lot from it. Thanks in advance for any advice you have.  Attached is a picture of my angry Pleco.  <Do have your waters checked for alkalinity and calcium concentration and report back to me please. Bob Fenner>

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