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FAQs on Freshwater Environmental Disease 3

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 2, 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

Unilateral: One-sided opacity of eyes is most often due to a mechanical injury.

Broken Thermometer and Dying Cichlids   03/9/06 Hello, I was trying to help my boyfriend clean his African Cichlid tank and I accidentally broke his Penn-Plax Therma-Temp thermometer. We took out the glass and he hooked up his Diatom Filter with attachable vacuum and sucked up what he could. He then put in the plants and rocks that had been cleaned with bleach and rinsed thoroughly. Shortly after that the tank became cloudy. He added Accu-Clear and the cloudiness remained. The next day the tank seemed to be getting clearer but most of the cichlids were at the top. We then noticed that they were laying on the floor and had labored breathing. He ran the diatom filter again and did a large water change. I am writing to you now and the fish are getting worse. I had to flush his biggest Cichlid and he is not taking it well.  Please tell me that I didn't kill them. I appreciate your help. Vanessa and (her upset boyfriend) Steve. <The thermometer is filled with alcohol which is poisonous to the fish. Carbon or Chemi-pure would have removed it. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the regular filter. Water temp. should be in the mid 70's. The alcohol and cleaning probably wiped out the biological filtration and you are experiencing an ammonia spike. A simple test kit can check this out. Use a resin or chemical for now to get rid of the ammonia. Then add Bio-Spira to get the bacteria going that will break down both the ammonia and nitrites down to less harmful nitrates. At high pH's ammonia is very deadly.-Chuck> Re: Broken Thermometer  - 03/09/2006 Chuck, Thank you for your quick response, I probably should have told you that only the little silver pellets got into the water. The red dye stayed intact in the thermometer. The accident happened very fast and once I realized that it was broken I quickly removed it. Isn't there any way this was his fault not mine?? Vanessa < If he had bought a floating thermometer you might not have broke it.-Chuck>

Crisis :) Hot FW system, env. diseased fishes - 2/28/2006 Hi there, <Hello> I love this site and check it religiously. I'm having a crisis. I have lost quite a few fish since the warm weather (in Australia), which in our house is hard to control, after the heat wave in January my gourami's got attacked by a bacterial infection, developed ulcers and the cotton wool over them, i did frequent water changes, i had my water tested by my local aquarium, which came back normal, normal PH, no ammonia, water hardness 150, and i treated them with myhexal (i think? bad spelling) <Mmm, don't recognize this> but ultimately they died. My last remaining rainbow gourami has stopped eating, he's gone dark in colour, almost grey and very lethargic, again the water levels are normal, and his scales look raised. I don't know how to treat it, or whether to put him out of his misery. My marble molly female has also stopped eating and sits on the bottom of the tank, fins moving, and breathing quite quickly. the water temp is stable now, and the neon tetra's and baby mollies and guppy are all content. Not sure where to go from here. If the two larger fish die, should i remove all fish from that tank, give it a thorough cleaning? <Yes... "if", I would> and start over again? <Yes, the best course... "if"> because I'm worried to introduce any new species in case the same thing will happen? also, they eat dried flakes.... and i give them the occasional blood worm, what else can i give them to eat? <Depends on "what" they might be. Most groups of fishes have "Foods/Feeding/Nutrition" subFAQs files on WWM...> look forward to your response. cheers. Adam <For now, I would administer a level teaspoon of salt per five gallons of system water here... During hot-spells I'd leave your lights off, perhaps take the tops of the tank off, and if available have a fan blow air across the top. These steps can lower the temp a few degrees C. Bob Fenner> Re: Crisis :) Hot FW system, env. diseased fishes  - 3/1/2006 Hi there, <Adam> thank you for your reply :) i <I> tried the salt :) but as i was doing that i looked closely into the tank, and i seen what appeared to be a clear stringy object, at first i thought that it was faeces, then i looked closer and it appeared to be moving, then it curled up and sprung away through the water, is this possible??! <... Yes> could it be a parasite or worm that is causing the issues?? <Doubtful. The root cause of your problem/s here are almost assuredly environmental. Bob Fenner> please help freaky, Adam

Fin Rot In a FW Set Up  - 02/27/06 I recently treated my 55 gallon tank for fin rot and was wondering how long it would take for my poor fish to regrow almost completely missing (about 1/8th of and inch of fin is left in some cases). I do 20% water changes once a week or two. My ph is 6.5, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 20 constantly. Thank you CJ <If the infection made it down to the caudal peduncle then it will not grow back. High nitrates will impede any regrow of the fins. You should see some growth in a couple of weeks. They will not grow back as big as they were before.-Chuck> Koi sickness... env., lack of biol. filtr.   2/24/06 This is my first time posting but I read your site all the time and is very helpful, great site!  I'm having a problem with my Koi which is getting weak. The Koi is 2.5 years old and about 10 inches long in a 75 gallon tank. Last week he started to act funny by jumping out of the water, darting aimlessly at times. But I didn't see any signs of disease, bacteria, fungus, or parasites on him. I checked the water conditions and the ammonia was a little high .75 and so was the nitrate .50. <Likely nitrIte... both these measures are very toxic!> I do 25% water changes, clean filters, and add new carbon weekly. Second time toxins went above .25 after I got a biological filter. <You obviously need more biological filtration. Koi of this size, in warm/er water are copious producers of ammonia waste... needs ready processing> I never use salt but added 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons this time to help him (mixed in water bucket first). That night he looked a lot better and thought he was just being a weird fish. But now he is acting listless at the bottom of the tank, hiding, won't eat out of my fingers, looks scared, clamped fins, eyes looks bulged, and nothing on his body to indicate infection when I looked closely at him. Also I don't see heavy mucus build, he not losing color yet, but his scales are a little beat-up possibility from banging himself up. I have one 4" shark, one small tiger barb, and 2 algae eaters in the tank and leave the Koi alone (unless the Koi steals the algae disc.. lol). The Koi still eats, but there is something wrong. My cold blooded friend needs your help. Can you help me?                                                  Thanks,                     Wayne <Only you can help here... you need more bio. filtration. Add an outside power filter, quit feeding, don't gravel vacuum... till there is not detectable ammonia or nitrite. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Oxygen starvation cure... ?  - 02/20/06 Hi- I came upon your website and I'm hoping you can help me help a fish of mine: Long story short, I have a 120 gallon fish tank, and only one of the fish is suffering from oxygen starvation due to a malfunction of mine of attempting to quarantine him, therefore, I know the tank has enough oxygen because the rest of the fish are dandy, but how do I "fix" this ONE guy that needs oxygen??? <...?> I have another tank, 55 gallon and it does have an air pump and big filters, therefore even more oxygen, however it's at a cooler temperature (the sufferer is an angel fish), b/c the other one has gold fish in it.... How do I fix this one fish? Help would be greatly appreciated, Diana <Don't know what you're referring to here... but would keep the one fish separate... until whatever symptoms you consider here (breathing, resting...) are "cured"... before replacing with its tankmates. Bob Fenner>

Strange Fish Deaths   2/14/06 Hello, I am having weird deaths in my tank. Before the dying fish dies it has a sudden problem swimming, appears to be gasping for breath, and dies with in minutes. I am currently treating my tank with MelaFix for fin rot in a 55 gallon tank. My fish are as follow:5 serpae tetra,2 flame tetra,2 gold tetra,6 Columbian tetra,1 flying fox (which may be moved to another tank),5 glow light tetra,3 neon tetra,1 cardinal tetra, 1 betta, 1 apistogramma,1 pleco,1 whip tail pleco,2 Corydoras barbatus,2 Corydoras aneus,2 Corydoras plateaus. I had .5 ammonia but did a water change 2 days ago, 0 nitrites, 10 nitrate. My tank also is heavily planted with live plants. Please Help! CJ < The MelaFix has probably affected the bacteria that break down the fish waste and caused the ammonia spike. Many of the small tetras you have are very sensitive to ammonia. The Colombian tetras can be fin nippers and got the fin rot going, especially on the betta. Take those fish out and see if the rot goes away. Add carbon to remove the MelaFix, add Bio-Spira from Marineland to get the bacteria going again.-Chuck> My aquarium looks like it has tiny air bubbles in it! Good intentions, poor information  - 2/11/2006 Hello , I have set up a freshwater aquarium (5 gallon tank) that is heated to 75 deg f.  I had a problem with high ammonia levels which I am sorry to say consumed a few fish.  I have since rectified the problem with 10% water changes.  I have since added an ammonia bag and air stone.  At the time of the highest concentration which was off the scale I am sorry to say the only fish that survived was my albino catfish.  He is known for his constant swimming in front of the tank so when I put the air stone in shortly after regaining control of the ammonia level it place it in the front.  I was not happy with the control as it is very cheap and the stone would sometimes put out less air after a while.  I therefore removed the control valve and pumped full volume air in.  At night I would pinch the hose to lessen the flow and allow the fish to calm.  He loves swimming through the bubbles.   After getting another fish (calico) which was not very good at the store I bought him from (Wal-Mart) I didn't notice much change in water till shortly before he died.  He seemed to be doing better everyday, swimming stronger and such until I added a red cap and black moor the following week.  In between the calico and the other two I noticed the water to be getting hazy. <Common... a "break in" phase... bacterial>   I expected this as I treated the water with Melafix <... not a good idea> as is suggested when adding new fish.  1/2 teaspoon every day for 3 days.  removed the carbon filter as instructed the first time but left it in the second time when I added the red cap and moor.   changed it after the second time and rinsed out the bio filter.  changed my ammonia bag as well but the hazy look is still there .  Got some clearing drops and put them in but no good still hazy.   last Saturday the 4th of February a friend said I got to much air going in. It looks just like tiny bubbles so they turned it down to what they set their stone to.  Though now a week later its still hazy and looks like crap.   The fish appear to be ok so my wife said to turn off the air stone which I did tonight the 9th of February.  What am I supposed to do.  I have a sample of water to take to another fish store in town .  if it is air how do I get it out, as I've heard and read that to much air in the water and a fish can get an air bubble in his body.  Please help me anyway you can. Thank you, Ryan <... the haziness is likely mostly due to the system being uncycled... and adding "fix", "drops" is just forestalling this cycling... Do you have a filter? Just waiting, being careful to not overfeed will see this tiny system (ultimately too small for two fancy goldfish)... Please see WWM re FW Cycling, Goldfish Systems... Bob Fenner> Aquarium with bubbles  - 2/11/2006 I woke this morning to find my pleco had died overnight.  I took my sample of water in and I have a high nitrite level. <How high?> Lady at the store told me to do 25% water changes every two days via vacuuming the rocks and bring in another sample 1 hr after the third change on Tuesday. <Samples change with time/travel... you should have your own kits> She believes the air is actually from overfeeding the fish and its not air at all. <?> Guess the rest of the fish are going on a diet.  See my first email which was forwarded to you from Robert Fenner.  Let me know if this is what you expect as well. Thanks for your input Ryan <... is this that five gallon system? It's not cycled... See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner> Old mail (Nitrite poisoning) - 7/2/06 Hi guys. <Elise. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delayed reply to this. My mistake.> I'm a newbie here, and I've been spending the last few days researching your site for my problem.  I have learned a lot, and I appreciate all this information being available!  I understand now about the nitrogen cycle, but I'm still uncertain how to rescue my current situation.  I have a long-established 20 gallon with three Dalmatian mollies and two neon tetras.  Two Dalmatian fry were born in October and nine more in November.  I began seriously overfeeding, which I now understand was a terrible mistake. <Yes... an easy mistake to make.>   I lost two of the fry to the filter, two didn't grow much and died, one didn't grow at all and I never found the body.  I have searched the filter, ornaments, and vacuumed aggressively, but couldn't find it. Of course my overfeeding led to ammonia, a case of ick, at which point I learned from the pet store how overfeeding had poisoned my tank. To try to rescue the situation, I have done the following: I gave one dose of Coppersafe for the ick (a week ago, fish is cured). <The life cycle of ick is longer than this.. for much of the life cycle the white spots are not visible. Do continue the treatment as directed on the bottle.> I increased the temperature to the mid-eighties, and added aquarium salt. <Great... this alone is actually what I have found to be useful and often recommend for treating ick.>   I have also been using Cycle. <I would not add this product to a tank with fish in.>   I added a little sponge filter to the bottom to increase aeration.  My ammonia went down, then the nitrites spiked off the charts.  I tried several large water changes, but the nitrite level would still test to an "off the chart" level, even right after the change.  The fish are behaving fine, so far.  I have read what I perceive to be conflicting advice regarding whether or not to change the water.  I felt that the nitrite level was extremely toxic, and I believed my fish would surely die if I did nothing, so I performed several water changes adding salt, Aqua Safe, and Cycle to the new water before adding each time)  After a few days of this, this evening the nitrite finally went down to .5ppm after a 75% water change.  However, my ammonia is back up to .25ppm.  Fish still seem fine. <The salt is countering nitrite toxicity.> Should I continue these water changes? <Yes, but ditch the Cycle. You will find it is adding to ammonia / nitrites.>   Tonight I added a Bio Wheel filter, and I left the Aqua Clear filter operating as well.  I am setting up a ten gallon tank. My plan is to cycle it first and then put the four youngest fry there, in order to decrease stock.  I am wondering if I should consider using this tank as temporary housing for all the fish until things calm down in the 20 gallon tank? <I would keep them int he present tank, and put one of the filters on the other tank after 2 - 3 weeks.>   Is there anything else I should do/shouldn't be doing?  Thanks in advance, Elise <Best regards, John.> http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  - 2/4/2006 Hello Sir, I am a beginner fish owner with my questions. I recently purchased 1 X 2 Feet (12" X 24") aquarium with heater, filter, thermometer chemicals (including Malachite Green, Methylene Blue and Zine Chloride supplied by Shop Owner for germs free). I have 35watt heater, 20 Watt light Bulb and the plants .  I set up the tank properly, washing it, gravelling it , for one day before i add a couple of Goldfish fishes, <Needs to run for a few weeks w/o fishes before you add them... to cycle the system> It was going well. After two more days my aquarium  slowly started to become cloudy and yellow in colour and now the water is turning yellow and cloudy slowly, so that i can't see fishes clearly. Why is this happening? <Establishment of micro-biota> I did not use any chemicals to wash the tank and supplies. I keep the tank temp at 70 degrees F and the Light, Filter (pump) and heater turned on all day. But I can't see any improve in my water. Please help me and my fishes. Hoping your mail soon sir. <This is symptomatic of the principal cause of loss of captive aquatic life... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner> Mis-mixed FW and cycling   2/1/06 Hello, I have a newly cycled tank. It is a 20 gallon with one small angelfish and one albino catfish. It also has some live plants. 6 new black Mollies were being delivered by mail when I had to go out of town for an emergency and leave the tank with my husband and children. <Mmm, mollies "like" very different water than your present fishes... harder, more alkaline, cooler... and with salt... they're brackish fishes> Since it was such a newly cycled tank as a precaution for when the new fish arrived, I added some AmmoLock. I was afraid that the new fish would cause an ammonia spike and I wouldn't be around for water changes, as well as the fear of children and hubby over feeding in my absence. As it turned out I only needed to be away overnight. When I got home and tested the tank the ammonia level was off the chart. <Actually... could be the "Ammo-Lock" product itself... it (and others) can/do yield a false-positive (you can test this by making up a solution of new water and this product)> I have been doing 50 percent water changes every other day and the levels just stay the same. I am testing with a Freshwater Master test Kit from API. At first I thought it was the test kit...but all the other tanks are testing fine. Just the one that I put the ammo lock in is the one that is reading high. <How "high" is high...?> All the fish seem just fine and this tank has had these high readings for over a week now. I just don't know what to do and would appreciate any suggestions. Wouldn't you think that the water changes would bring the readings down. The funniest part is, I test...then do a 50 percent water change...wait a half hour and test again and nothing has changed.   I only usually use AquaSafe by Tetra in my water when making water changes and have continued to use this.  I have not added any more ammo lock...used it just that once. HELP!! <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Dying FW   2/1/06 HELP!!!      its Renee AGAIN... this time its not about my bettas....      we have/had about 20 rare angel fish in a 300 gal tank downstairs... last night, they were fine... this morning...there are 6 all the rest were dead.... and they are all looking really really sick.      we went and tested the water with both our own kits and at the pet store.... and both show that everything in the water is PERFECT....      WHAT IN THE WORLD IS KILLING OUR BELOVED FISH!?!?      PLEASE REPLY ASAP!!! <... something toxic, lacking... change some of the water or move the remaining livestock... Now! See WWM re FW Environmental Disease... Bob Fenner> Mis-mixed FW, ich, mis-treated, salt   1/26/06   I have a 27 gallon tank kept at 78 degrees with 1 Angel, 1 Red Gourami, 2 Harlequin Rasboras, 1 Glowlight Tetra, 2 Bumble bee Gobies, <These gobies are actually brackish water animals... and need live food to survive> 2 Guppies, and 1 Yo yo Loach. Our tank has been set up for approximately 2 and a half weeks (we had a 10 gallon that cracked and we had to quickly move everything to a new tank).  We had problems with ich before and lost everything.  We were starting over when our aquarium cracked.   <"When it rains...">   I noticed last week that the Yo yo Loach had white spots all over him and was scratching on the rocks.  We figured it was ich, although none of the other fish are showing any signs of the disease <Loaches, cobitids are especially susceptible...> We began treating with Quick Cure at a lower dosage because of the Tetras and have been treating the tank for 5 days. <Too toxic... I would elevate temperature and use Aquarisol... Posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm> The Loach has been looking better, but we have begun to lose fish.  We have lost 2 Tetras and 1 Rasbora (I didn't include these above), and one of our Gobys is starting to look like he is sick (doing spirals and flips).  None of the other fish in the aquarium are showing signs of ich, so I am assuming it is the medication killing the fish.      <That and the weakened condition from the ich, and whatever factors favored the ich in the first place>   I have read about using aquarium salt and asked at the local fish store about how much to use.  I was told because of the Tetras and the Loach not to use more than one teaspoon per ten gallons. <This is so> So tonight we did a water change and removed approximately 30 percent of the water and added the salt.      I am unsure about the amount of salt, and whether there is anything else I could be doing.  The Loach appears to be almost cured of the ich.  If you could give me some advice, I would appreciate it. (How much salt I should be using, or another alternative treatment?) I am tired of losing fish, and it is really upsetting my 4 year old daughter.      Thanks,   Leslie <Do please read the link above, the linked files at turn on top... seek the Aquarisol (or Malachite Green at half strength if not available) and raise temperature. The Aquarium Salt can be used as well if you desire. Bob Fenner>

Re: aquarium problems... iatrogenic   1/27/06 Thank you so much for the information.  We had to continue with the Quick cure, and as a result have lost 1 Rasbora and the last Tetra since the previous email.  The local fish store does not carry Aquarisol (although they have offered to carry it in the future), so I have had to order it on-line and have it shipped overnight mail.        As for the Bumblebee Gobys, I had been told at the local fish store that they would do fine in my tank. <Incorrect> I had done some reading and discovered that they like live food, and bought some frozen brine shrimp (have encapsulated vitamins as well).  I have been feeding my aquarium the brine shrimp for a while, and have seen the Yo yo Loach improve since they became part of his diet. Since all of the fish in my tank seem to love the brine shrimp, I feed them half a cube once a day.      I find your website very informative and helpful.  Thanks for your help!      Leslie <Welcome. Bob Fenner> Frustrating deaths. What you have is an incompatible mix of life, in a not-ready system, that has been poisoned by mis-mixing medicines...   1/21/06 Hello, About 15 years ago my husband & I had a 29 gal. tank that had Bala sharks, black skirt tetras, and a few angels. the Bala sharks and the angels got very big. The water was always clear and it was a very successful tank. Last month we set the tank up again, with Bala sharks, black skirts, angels and Otocinclus.  This time, we used sand for a substrate, that we purchased at the store. I read online that this could be done for freshwater tanks as well as marine. <Mmm, some sands, yes>   The other thing we did different was using live plants instead of artificial. <Live... are better generally> a few weeks later I added 2 black mollies and a male dwarf gourami, which seemed to be thriving. Then we lost an angel, then the other. I then took out all the sand and put in gravel, as I found that the sand was hard to clean. <Was/is this system cycled?> Then I noticed two fry hiding and transferred them to a net box that hangs on the side of the tank.  They are a light brown color with a black stripe on the tails. Then a Bala shark died, then the other, then the gourami stopped eating and stayed in one upper corner for about 4 or 5 days, then he would sink to the bottom, coming up to get air every few minutes then sink again. He died yesterday. We have had ick on one of the black mollies, for about 2 weeks, and now I notice the black skirts have it slightly. The molly with ick, also has clamped tail and bottom fin, <They're brackish water animals... the rest of the fishes are not...> Up to now the black skirts have done very well. But today noticed them with the start of ick. Our second molly has Popeye, which I have been treating with Pimafix, recommended at the pet store. I have tested levels with a test kit and EVERYTHING is in safe limits.  I was told by the fish store folks, that the fish love salt so I have been putting that in there according to directions. I started treating with rid-ick. When that didn't work, I tried Maracide, and Quick Cure. <Toxic...>   Also I saw online that Coppersafe should be used. <... no> My water has been continually green during treatment, not algae (i don't think) but colored from the med. I have a bio-wheel type of filter, and feed flakes and blood worms occasionally. Today I did a 50% water change <Too much at once...> and haven't added any meds yet, or salt. Do you wonderful folks have any advice?  I NEVER had this kind of problem before. Paige Franklin <Times "change"... water quality and fish/livestock quality has diminished. What you have is an incompatible mix of life, in a not-ready system, that has been poisoned by mis-mixing medicines... Please see WWM re Molly Systems, the med.s you mention (use the Google search tool on WWM), FW set-up... Bob Fenner>

HELP!! Ques. on mollies and angelfish    1/19/06 I have 2 Dalmatian mollies, one red Mollie, and an angelfish. <Mmm, the mollies "like" different water than FW angels... harder, more alkaline, with some salt content, cooler...>   My one   Dalmatian Mollie is staying on the bottom and swimming in one place very  fast.  My other red Mollie stays on top and barely moves from there.   My other Mollie occasionally moves about.  My angelfish is on bottom on his  side.  My tank isn't cycled <...?!> although I run my filter from my 8 month old  goldfish tank in the tropical tank.   <Not a good idea generally. Goldfish are great harborers of disease-causing organisms for tropicals> Any idea why this is happening, I  google searched it and looked at the forum but didn't find anything because  there is too much to search through <... the items mentioned above. Tank needs to be cycled, no ammonia, nitrite... Angel needs different conditions/system. Bob Fenner> Floating and dead fish, FW Env. disease   1/17/06 Hi <Salutations> Had a tank for a month, the fish starting floating at the top gasping for air. I took out a plant that was growing fast and they stopped it for a while. I have five fancy goldfish( 1 about 3cm long), 3 danios and 2 mountains. The tank is 57 litres. The fish stated to do it again. i purchased a Hong Kong pleco which died the next day. <Mmm, sounds to me like either insufficient aeration/circulation, or an uncycled system...> I decided to introduce some methylene blue. The day after i introduced it 1 of my zebra danios died but the fancy goldfish were no longer at the top. Not really sure what is going on. what do you think is the problem and what should i do?, methylene blue has only been in four 1 day. <Look to adding water movement, perhaps a "bubbler", test for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, see if there's a "surface scum" accumulating at the top and remove. Perhaps ask your LFS if they have a dissolved oxygen test kit they'll lend you (has to be tested there/then)... Bob Fenner>

Tropical Fish Got Cold  1/16/06 The temperature in my fish tank dropped to about 50 and I was gone, now I'm back and several of my fish are barely alive. (an angel fish 2 yrs old, red eyed tetra, red claw crab, snail, and green tiger barbs) I've put a new heater in, and added a small amount of warm water. Will it be enough? Will they live? Thanks for any info. < When I was importing fish we would sometime gets shipments that were delayed and came in very cold. Some of the fish went into a trance and bounced back after being warmed up. I would slowly heat up the water to 82 F and keep it there for a couple of weeks. Increase the aeration and watch for ich. If the fish were in good shape then I would think they could come back if they were not kept too cold for too long.-Chuck> Catfish with excessive body slime... query with deficient info.   1/14/06 Hello I have a Brachyramdia marthae that has a lot of excessive body slime I have treated the tank for body slime and no effect. <Mmm... are slimy in good health... though, as you state, can be overly so... What did you "treat" with?> the tank has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 10 ppm nitrate. Please help me figure out what's wrong with him. I don't want to lose him. Thank you, CJ <...? What re your system, water quality, foods/feeding... Bob Fenner>

Re: catfish with excessive body slime I have a soft water system. <An ion-exchange type? Could be simply the excess sodium here> I already gave you my water quality but I do have a pH of 7. I have been feeding TetraMin basic food flakes and shrimp pellets. <Need more variety, nutrition... some fresh, meaty foods> As of right now his tankmates are 5 glowlight tetras, 5 five Columbian tetra (Hyphessobrycon sp.), a bumble bee catfish (microglanis sp.), 12 ghost shrimp, a flying fox, 2 clown loaches, and 5 gold tetras (?). Unfortunately my catfish died, but I would like to know what to treat for if other fish start showing symptoms. Thanks, CJ <I would not "treat" this tank per se... but add at least half "non-softened" water with changes if you have a salt-recharged unit, and broaden the foods selection. Bob Fenner>

Losing Fish To Low pH   1/11/06 Hi All, My problem is the pH in my aquarium gets much too low.  I've lost 3 fish with no visible cause, but the pH was lower than 6.2 when I tested.  I've had my tank for about 6 4 months, and the bio-wheel is nicely full of bacteria. I have a 12-gal aquarium with what is still living - 1 female betta, 2 Corys, and an Oto cat.  It's moderately planted, with plant substrate (I forget the name but it's not supposed to effect pH.)  I have fake driftwood. I do 25% water changes weekly.  I have well water.  My out of the tap pH = 6.2, GH 150, kH 40.  I have added coral in a mesh bag - about 1/2 cup, and the coral is the size of peas.  Within a day after a water change, the water shows pH of less than 6.2 and the kH is 0.  I've tried adding baking soda to the water, and I can keep the kH around 40, but I see the pH fluctuate between less that 6.2 and 7.2, and I have to keep adding the baking soda.  I keep reading that chemical buffers (those sold in pet stores) and pH chemicals and stabilizers shouldn't be added.  I had a local fish store tell me to change my water source.  That's not easy - I would have to drive 30 miles to get different water.  Oh, the nitrates are always less than 40, usually less than 20, and the nitrates are 0.Do you have any other suggestions?  I'm ready to give up on fish-keeping. Thank you. Chris Cope < Most fish can handle a pH of 6.2 with no problem. The exception would be rift lake cichlids, brackish water fish and many livebearers. No fish like rapid changes in pH. < Get a 5 gallon bucket and check the water right out of the well. Check it again in 24 hours. If the pH goes up then you had dissolved CO2 gas in the water. In solution it makes carbonic acid. After 24 Hrs the gas is dissolved and this is the true pH of your water. When you add this water to your aquarium the plants are removing nitrates and minerals from the water and they absorb minerals like calcium and magnesium. As the tannic acids leeches out from your driftwood the H+ ions are free in solution and decrease the pH and make the tank more acidic. Many aquarists would love to have your water because it is always easier to add minerals then to take them out. In that same 5 gallon bucket you can add a good quality buffer and bring the pH up to the desired level. Change 20% of the water each week with the buffered water from the bucket. In a couple of weeks you should see a more consistent pH reading. Without any  further details it is difficult to determine if this is what really killed your fish.-Chuck> Gas Bubble Disease/Emphysematosis Prevention when setting up a New Tank, and Tank Cycling   1/7/06 G'day, <Howdy> I have learned a lot from reading through your site - thank you! <Welcome> My questions relate to your interesting story regarding GBD. Incidentally, did any of those fish spring back into life?! <If memory serves... yes> I have set up a 500 litre fresh tropical tank and have just begun cycling it (no fish yet). It will have pleco's, catfish, loaches, various tetras, red tail shark, etc. The tank has loads of aeration using several irrigation fittings (not air stones) which produce fairly large bubbles that agitate the water. As they are coarse bubbles and not exactly forced into the water under high pressures such as those experienced during pump cavitations, I hope they will not cause any problems. Does that sound OK? <Likely so> I have also fitted an Eheim nozzle to the outlet of my 2200L/h filter pump. After reading the GBD article, I am a little concerned. This nozzle is designed to introduce air into the water stream as it exits the filter right at the point of the water re-entering the tank, which in this case is near the base of the tank. The water jet is significant, indicating reasonably high pressure at the nozzle where the air is introduced. The bubbles produced by this nozzle are plentiful and are mostly about 1-2mm in diameter (far smaller than the other air outlets produce). After running this for a few days, I have noticed that reasonably static bubbles smaller than a pin head are present in the water throughout the tank at a spacing of roughly 20mm, indicating thorough aeration of the water. Is this aeration level dangerous or OK? <Maybe... there are a few ways to assess whether you have a potentially dangerous situation. The easiest/simplest is to use a dissolved oxygen test kit... see if there is more than full saturation (likely about 7 ppm) of oxygen present> I understand that GBD is essentially a case of the bends caused by a shock change in air impregnation into the water, but is there such a thing as too much net air impregnation? <Can be, but not common in situations as you describe> Oscars Gone Wild   12/28/05 I have two Tiger Oscars. Both are about 3 inches long and in a 30 gal aquarium. I have two other fish and some snails in the tank with them. They have been swimming frantically across the tank slamming into the sides and everything else in the tank. When they are not doing that they float almost as if they are dead. They have been doing this for two - three days. I called the local fish store and they said change 50% of my water, add salt and double the dechlorinated  drops which I did. The Oscars started swimming some but are still floating on their sides on the top and also swimming into the sides of the tank. They also don't seem to be eating. This all started after I was having problems with my filter, I changed the filter to a new one and done two water changes a couple of days apart. The local fish store told me I was over feeding my Oscars so I cut down on how much I was feeding them. That is when they started the hitting the tank and swimming as if dead. Any help would be appreciated. < Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. When replacing a filter with a new one you may have remove all the good bacteria needed to break down the toxic fish waste. So you may be experiencing higher waste levels like in a new tank. Add carbon to the filter to remove any unwanted organics in the water. Remove any uneaten food after 2 minutes.-Chuck>

New Tank With Bad Advice  12/10/05 Hello Everybody, What a great site, I have seen that you have given advice over time on ammonia and cycling and stuff, I seem to have a big problem! I'm almost at the stage of emptying the tank and starting from scratch. This is how the story goes. In August My husband and I bought a 55 gallon tank, a whisper filter and a bubbler, we filled it with water and left it for a couple of weeks. We then bought 2 Dwarf Gouramis, 1 Sucker and 2 Angels.  The next week we bought another couple of community fish (can't remember what now). The Angels died and a Gourami, so we replaced them, then they died along with some other stuff. We got to having about 10 smallish fish when we bought 3 Balloon Mollies and nothing was dying. One of the Mollies decided to have babies, it was really exciting!  The staff at Petsmart suggested a live plant for the fry to hide in, so we got one.  That is where the problems started.  The fry lasted for about 3 days - the Gourami ate them all, one by one and the water went cloudy - milky white. We removed the plant as soon as all the fry were eaten. We have followed the advice from Petsmart from the start, now we need some proper advice. The ammonia went off the chart when the water went cloudy, that was nearly 3 months ago now.  We started trying to solve the problem by doing a water change every couple of days for a week, we then tried ammonia removing stones in the filter, we have removed half the water and replaced it with new, we have made complete pests of ourselves at Petsmart!  Their last piece of advice was to add Prime to the water, we were told everything would be fine in a couple of weeks. We added Prime and prayed we would be able to start restocking the tank in a couple of weeks - that was three weeks ago. I took a water test to the store 2 weeks ago and the ammonia was off the chart again - we only had one Gourami left, everything else had popped their clogs (can't say I blame them).  The people in Petsmart said we wouldn't get a true ammonia reading as we had used Prime and we could restock in a week or so. Yesterday we bought 2 Tiger Oscars and a Albino Oscar (I want to get a bigger tank next year). The Albino has already joined fish heaven. I have tested the water today and the readings are as follows: Nitrate (no+3) = 0 Nitrate (no-2) = 0 Hardness = 150 - 300 Alkalinity = 120 - 180 pH = 7.8 Ammonia = 7.3 On seeing the Ammonia levels, I panicked and added another dose of Prime, I don't want to murder the other two Oscars and am at a loss of what to do - any advice will be a help. Many thanks Loraine < Do a 50% water change, treat the new water with Amquel+. Vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Add Bio-Spira from Marineland. Feed only once each day and only enough food so that all of it is gone after two minutes. After that, siphon out all the uneaten food. Do a 25% water change every week. Vacuum the gravel once every two weeks. On the weeks you do not vacuum the gravel you can clean the filter. Keep checking the WWM website for adding new fish after your tank settles down.-Chuck>

Don't Drink and Feed Fish (See, We Had This Party..)  12/10/05 It is probably too late for me, but hopefully you might have some advice for some poor soul who is as stupid as I have been. Two nights ago we had some friends over for a party. <Cool> I usually feed the fish with some frozen bloodworms, which I usually thaw out in a small glass first. To make a long story short, the next day I made the mistake of thawing them out in the wrong glass.  Instead of thawing them out in the glass with filtered water, I thawed them out in a glass with Sprite and Smirnoff in it. I didn't notice my mistake until I poured it into the tank and noticed the solution was not as clear as it should have been. A quick smell confirmed my worse fears. Right away I poured some Amquel+ into the tank and put in a big bag of carbon, and hoped for the best. Sadly, when I got home after work today, the tank was all cloudy, so I can only assume that all of my bacteria have died. I pulled one of the filters and filled it with more carbon and every type of xxx-zorb I could get my hands on. I'll be monitoring the chem levels daily, hoping for the best and cursing my own stupidity. Aside from adding more bacteria to the tank, is there anything else you can think of that might help? Thanks,-dev <Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and change the filter. Use a good carbon to remove the booze. When you are sure it is all gone then you can add Bio-Spira from Marineland. Your tank should be up and going in no time at all.-Chuck>

Sickness or poisoning? 11/6/05 Hi Bob! I am so relieved to find such a helpful site! I have a 20 gal. tank (my first) which I set up originally 8 months ago with a 30 gal. Whisper , a heater at 78 degrees and a aerator using well water. All went well while doing weekly water changes of 20% and adding the recommended amount of aquarium salt <Mmm, usually not a good idea to add, use continuously> and Stress Coat. My nitrate and nitrite levels have stayed in an optimal range, as well as the ammonia. I originally tried to lower the pH using a ph decreaser and it actually crystallized in the aquarium leaving it looking more like a snow globe than anything. <Much better to do such adjustments with/through new water (when doing changes/vacuuming) rather than in the tank with livestock> I was told by the local pet store keeper not to use the decreaser because they don't use it in the stores so I stopped. <Good> I had no problems doing only these things for 6 months with a Bala Shark, <Gets too big for a twenty> a pleco, 2 Juli Cory cats and 4 sparkling gouramis. Two months ago, I moved to the city and I started adding AquaSafe treatment at the water changes in addition to my normal routine. Within a month of moving I finally bought my dwarf gourami, which concluded my stocking the tank. I had been told and also read that the dwarf gourami would be fine with my other fish, the only concern being that he would establish a corner of the tank as his territory and would therefore, run others off who came near. Unfortunately, he thrived on darting at any fish who tried to eat..... <Unusual for the species... Colisa lalia> the Bala shark, being his favorite prey, stayed hovering at the bottom twitching and very seldom got food. He bothered the sparkling gouramis less and they seemed less afraid of him. The Cory cats were even brushed over a few times in his bullying scavenges. I sent the dwarf gourami to a friend after about 2 weeks when I found my Bala shark lying upside down on the bottom of the tank gasping for air.  He was unable to swim upright despite occasional fatigued efforts. I netted him in a large net and suspended the net in the water at the top of the tank and fed the shark. He laid in the bottom of the net upside down for awhile and eventually started to eat and ate quite a bit! After about 3 hours, he was able to swim upright and act almost normal.  The next day, his top and bottom fins began to deteriorate and I noticed dull looking spots on the sides of his body, mostly near the top and bottom fins. I have also noticed, that the whole top portion of his body has been getting darker and darker and I'm concerned that that is a sign of disease. Then the next day, I noticed that one of my Cory cats (one that I have been concerned about previously because his black spots on the front portion of his body seem faded, almost like he has a grey film on him) seldom moves at all and has the same deterioration of the fins as the Bala shark. I began treating the tank with Melafix and Quick Cure. <The first worthless, the second toxic... the formalin in it will kill off your biological filter.> I removed the carbon, treated with both for three days and have continued with the Melafix an additional 2 days. The bottle says to do this for 7 days and replace the carbon and do a water change. After finding your site, I am concerned that my fish are poisoned from the chlorine in the water. <Perhaps originally, yes... more likely chloramine...> I am also having a brown algae problem that started right before I moved. I have been just scrubbing it off with a clean toothbrush (new) but it builds up within the week. I feed tropical crisps and brine shrimp twice a day and occasionally feed blood worms and Tubifex worms instead of the shrimp. I found out on your website tonight that I shouldn't have cleaned my outside glass with Windex. <Yikes... is deadly toxic if it gets in the water> I have done that twice, both times being after the move....perhaps that is part of it. There seem to be so many possibilities and I just don't know what to do. Please help! Lost in love and I don't know much..... Mel <Mmm, well... I do encourage you to "keep reading"... as you can see from my comments above, there are a few things amiss here. For water changes, I strongly encourage pre-treatment and storage of new water (for a week or more)... and this, along with vacillating water quality, stress in general are likely the root causes of your troubles here. Bob Fenner> 

Mystery Response - Querior Did Not Forward Previous Message! Thanks, but I already found out what it is. I asked a pet shop worker, and it said it was eye cloud. Like a type of eye fungus. But I forgot to ask how long it can live with it, so how long can it?  <As I said in my last email, eye disease/fungus is often associated with poor water quality. Your fish is probably stressed by his/her environment and needs environmental improvement. Please read the links I sent. You need to do large (50%) water changes daily. Also, consider adding 1 tablespoon of either Epsom or marine salt to your tank. Catherine> New Tank, overcrowded FW 9/22/05 Hi, <And Hi to you too, Adam J with you.> I made kind of a mistake by buying 3 blue gourami, a pair of black convicts, a green terror, and a pleco. I made the mistake by stuffing them in a tiny ten-gallon tank. <Uh-Oh.> In about a day, I will be getting a tank around 46-55 gallons. <Good move.> Can you tell me which fish to put in the new aquarium first? And then which ones to put in after that? <Well unfortunately even with the tank upgrade you wont be able to keep all of the fish you have purchased.  The cichlids are in a completely different class of aggression in comparison to your gouramis. Eventually they would become lunch or be harassed into eventual death.  The pleco may be able to avoid the aggression; it really depends on his size in comparison to your cichlids.  In short you are going to have to choose either the gouramis or the cichlids for this set-up to work long term. Also even with the new tank size it is likely the pleco will still outgrow it, the fish sold as 'common pleco.' (Hypostomus punctatus, and a few others) all get to about 12' in length, some even bigger.> Also if you don't mind, I have another question for you. I recently got 2 convict cichlids, after close examination I found that one of them was much smaller and had an orange spot on its belly. The other was bigger and had much more color. I researched it and found out one was a female and one was a male. Sometimes they follow each other in the tank, and when the female gets picked on the male darts to her rescue. Also sometimes the male chases the female's tail and the female chases the male's tail, forming a circle. But in times, they seem to ignore each other. What's happening? <This sounds like 'pre-mating', Convict Cichlids will breed in captive systems.  However while this is amazing and fun to watch I see it as a future problem for you. When the Convicts do decide to breed they will become very aggressive in the protection of their young (even the father and mother may fight). They will harass any other fish in the aquarium with them. If you want to breed them without putting any of your other livestock at risk you'll either have to remove the other fish or move the convicts to another aquarium.> Thanks <Anytime, Adam J>

FW fish... environmental induced incompatibility 9/21/05 <Adam J here with you this evening.> Hi, I have a one gallon aquarium and got two lyretail mollies for it. <Far too many fish for this sized set-up.> I do not know how to determine the sex but one is silvery/white and the other is black. <Males have a more prominent dorsal fin in comparison to females as well as a gonopodium. (modified anal fin on the underside of the belly)> also have three florescent zebra fish. <Not more fish'¦> I am unsure of their real name   <They sound like genetically modified Zebra Danios a.k.a. Glofish, many hobbyists reject them as impure, see here for detail  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/glofish/Glofish.htm> but they are very small. The silvery lyretail keeps attacks the black one and I  do not know why. <Likely that the crowded conditions are responsible for the aggression.> Can you help? <I would immediately do one of the following a.) return the fish to the LFS or b.) immediately upgrade tank size (10-15 gallons)> <Adam J> Many dead fish and yet not a fish-monger!  8/26/05 Dear Crew, <Martin, or should I say, "Agent X?"> You have my sincere thanks and appreciation (though not my employer's) for such an absorbing and informative website. <Watch out for Websense...> I finally have a question after 2yrs silent (and secret) observation/research and I apologize in advance for the verbosity... <No worries> I have a 40 US gallon (150 litres), heavily planted, fresh water, display tank (set up 2yrs) and a bare 20g QT. Display levels constant. NH3: Nil, NO2: Nil, NO3: <5ppm. PH: 7.2. Temp: 85'. Additional info: 2x internal filters, 25% weekly or 12.5% bi-weekly (tap) water changes, DIY CO2, filter peat, bog wood, 1 1/2" sand substrate over root tabs. I stocked the following for over one year with no losses: 2 Cockatoo cichlids (Apistogramma cacatuoides), 6 Rummy Nose tetra, 8 Cardinal tetra, 4 Otocinclus, 2 Caridina japonica. Foods: Flake, Tetra prima, algae wafers, frozen blood worm, frozen daphnia, the odd pea. Then I suppose I got greedy! I acquired an additional ten Cardinals and placed in QT. One immediate loss, remainder healthy after three weeks, subsequently acclimatized and added to the display. Overnight five Cardinal deaths, remainder healthy in appearance - <Thank goodness for quarantine...> Nitrogenous waste/PH levels checked, but as above. I raised one internal filter to surface to increase water-air interface/oxygenation. Overnight losses 4 Cardinals, 3 Otos, 4 RN, 1 Cockatoo (sigh). By evening remaining: 1 Cockatoo, 1 Oto, 2 Cardinal, 1 RN, and the two shrimp. <Yeeikes!> The fact the (most delicate) shrimp survived ruled out contaminate poisoning (I believe?). <Most types, agreed...> Only evidence - a graying of the casualties post mortem, which I assumed to be normal. So, being unsure for what to treat, I waited one month, with no further losses, then purchased five guinea pigs (the cheap Neon variety). QT'd and three weeks later added to the display - Two days for comprehensive mortality of the new additions! Observed some rapid breathing, but no other symptomatic changes in behaviour/appearance. The five originals live on in seeming perfect health. Eventually, months later, moved survivors to the QT in preparation for... <For?> And so, (finally I hear you say), to the questions. My survivors have been in the QT for a full 16 weeks now with display fallow. Actually, the two shrimp remain in display, but diseases that cross taxonomic phyla are rare, though extant ( < http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ICTVdb/ICTVdB/00.036.htm> viruses?). <Yes> Assuming my survivors to be carriers of...something nasty I must treat before returning them to the display/acquiring/exposing new specimens. <Actually... please see below> Can you diagnose/hypothesize a causative agent for such a swift demise of most of, but not all, my livestock and hopefully suggest appropriate treatment/s for those remaining? Any thoughts why the transfer of the Cardinals from QT triggered the disease in the display when three weeks of quarantine showed nothing? <I think the two tanks, losses may well have been unrelated...> Stress maybe, but LFS to QT move should have triggered surely? Or was the disease already present yet dormant? Difficult to determine remotely I suppose, but any advice will be very well received. Oh and please pass my thanks to Bob for the excellent CMA. After a year's reading I suppose now could be a prime opportunity to "go marine" (microdesmids are amazing...if you like that sort of thing, ahem), but did not wish to leave the FW side on a low. <Ahh, and know that Sabrina and I are co-penning a tome on Freshwater, akin to CMA> Cheers all, Martin (UK) <I strongly suspect that there was something amiss with the Cardinals in QT, their loss likely biological... pathogenic... And the losses in your main system environmental... happens at times... that systems "get old"... something... nutrient-wise, perhaps minor-... becomes rate-limiting... especially in "driven" (CO2 use, high intensity lighting...) situations... Don't know this (of course) to be the situation in your case, and the set-up, maintenance you list is close to "perfect"... but it is a good practice to periodically (after a system has been up several months) to do "something" periodically to "re-set" the chemical, physical dynamic... switch our substrate, bogwood... plant-life... in an attempt to sustain, increase the "dynamics" of the system en toto, so as to prevent one life form (most often algae, but sometimes protozoans) from becoming "too dominant" and their mal-influencing the environment for their ends... Sorry if this sounds/is too vague or smacks of "aquatic voodoo"... But I have found this punctuated equilibrium approach to be of use... Oh, hence, I would "re" set-up your main tank... maybe with new gravel... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

The incurable itch  8/26/05 Hi Crew, <Jennifer> This is going to be a very detailed message as to give you all the information possible so that you will be able to help me. You guys are my last hope to figure out what is going on in my tank. I have an 18 gallon tank with around 30 platies and probably around the same amount of little brown snails in it. All but three are fry ranging in age from 3 months - a few weeks old. There are two pieces of bog wood in it that have been for about as long as the tank has been up and were boiled for about 5 hrs total before going in the tank, a few type of live plants, 2 Terra cotta pots and gravel.  I was using a penguin bio-wheel filter for a ten gallon tank because at the moment that was all I had but I have since bought a penguin bio wheel filter for a thirty gallon tank and the old bio wheel is in there also. I feed tetra tropical flakes, blood worms, Tubifex, Spirulina flakes and peas. (No live food) The tank water chemistry is; Ammonia 0 - Nitrite 0 - Nitrates 10-20 - pH 7.5 - KH 150 - GH 80, and it is usually pretty stable, with slight fluctuations in the pH and GH but changes are gradual and then stabilize themselves back out. <Okay, understood> Here is the problem, since the end of July my fish have been scratching.  It started with just one fish and progressed until intermediately all of the fish were scratching.  I tried treating with copper for a few days and when I seen no improvement I thought it would be better to use a more wide range treatment so I got some jungle labs Parasite Clear fizz tabs.  I treated the tank then three days later treated again. No improvement so I did an 80% water change treated the tank and then again treated the tank in three days. Today I did a 50% water change and took out a lot of the horn wart that was in there so they could have more space to swim. I regularly do a 50% water change every week. <Ahh, the Ceratophyllum might have contributed to the scratching...> There are NO signs at all of any illness the fish are all brightly colored, eating well but in the past week two of my adult females have been lethargic and hiding a lot but still coming out to eat and acting normally while eating. I was thinking that I may have brought over some sort of parasite when I got the horn wart (also when the snails hitched a ride to my tank).  I don't know.  I am basically out of ideas as to what could be causing this. There have been NO deaths. <Mmm, platies and most other fishes do "scratch" a bit naturally...> Also a bit more info, my water has a lot of floaters in it not sure if that matters but no matter how much I change the water I still see the floaters but the water is clear, the tank could probably use a good vacuuming but I am afraid of hurting fry and snails so I have held off on that since water conditions are healthy. Please help!  Any ideas at all? I am trying my best to stay optimistic but it gets harder with each scratch I see. Thanks, Jennifer P.S. Just so you know I do not plan on keeping all of the fish but until I figure out what is wrong with them I of course will not give them away, don't want to pass on this whatever it is to anyone elses tank. I started the tank with 4 females and a male. Lost 1 female, removed the male into his own tank with two 3 month old female fry. And well the rest is what happens when you have platies I guess! <I suspect you actually don't have a problem here... I would keep the Hornwort trimmed back (maybe replace it with other types of floating plants (Anacharis/Egeria, Myriophyllum...) that are less noxious... But otherwise, not worry. Bob Fenner> Re: the incurable itch 8/29/05 I had no idea that Hornwort could be bothering my fish! <Could... all plants, most life has chemical mechanisms to limit "encroachment" on space, nutrients...> Wow!  I never would have guessed. I will take most, if not all of it out.  I might keep a little bit in there since it collects tid-bits that are easy food for the fry. Not to mention a good hiding place if you can keep the plant anchored down.  But what if I take it out and they still itch? <We'll try something else again> You can tell that it is not just a incidental scratch, they will scratch over and over again on the terra cotta pots and they just looked bugged while doing it. I have read a ton about parasites but can't really find any species specifics. <Need microscopic examination to discern definitively> It seems like they are always grouped together.  Do any of you know of anything that could live through treatments?  Something that has no other sign besides scratching? <Many environmental possibilities, not likely pathogenic> Thanks a lot for your help!  You guys are honestly life savers! Jenny <Glad to be of service. Bob Fenner>  

Re: the incurable itch  8/31/05 I took out just about all of the Hornwort and the fish are still itching. <Takes time... weeks> Since the tank is all natural (plants, decorations, etc..) there are so many possibilities of what it could be that I really do not know where to start. Some people are telling me not do water changes for a few weeks, others tell me change the water often. <I'd stick with 10-20 percent a week> I have noticed that when I feed my fish they start scratching even more for a few minutes then stop.  I am not sure if it is just this certain food or all foods so I will have to pay attention to that, but my fish in the other tank eat the same food and are fine. <Mmm, something in that one tank...>   It seems like all of a sudden (and I mean really like in an instant) many fish start scratching and then they just stop all together again, it is very strange. I added a picture of the tank so that you could see how much hornwort is now in there, does that seem okay? <Yes... but, what is that... a rock? Where did it originate?> There was like 5x that much before. There is light shining on it so it is hard to see the big piece at the top, but I would guess it is around 1 and a half to 2 cups. So if this is probably environmental, what do you suggest I do?   Thanks again, Jenny <Perhaps a bit of activated carbon ("charcoal") added to your filter flow path... would absorb much of the cause here. Bob Fenner>


Re: the incurable itch, now unid'ed FW crustacean  9/2/05 Okay, I just seen something.  I was feeding my fish and crawling on one of the apple snails was a bug, it looked like a common flea that you would find on a dog or cat.  It was brown and big for an aquarium bug. I thought it was a bug that fell in my tank and was going to drowned but it just crawled around on the snail and it was carrying a little sac.  It carried the sac some where near the snail's eye and then I lost track of it because the snail retracted into its shell, now comes the weirdest part.  I think the bug crawled into my snails butt and is just sitting there because I can see a brown thing through the skin and I don't think it is poop because it isn't falling out. I am not 100% sure though. I just put the apple snails in the tank a few days ago and I KNOW they are healthy because they were born here in a 20g tank down stairs where they have lived without fish for several months. My step dad also has some of the snails including the mother in his 60g tank and I have never before seen anything like this bug in my tank.  It is way too big for me to have missed crawling on one of my fish.  Any ideas? <Is very likely one of many freshwater crustaceans. Very likely not harmful>   It didn't look like fish lice, or fish fleas, it was way too big, it was like at least the size of the apostrophe on the keyboard.   Oh yeah, also that is not a rock on the bottom it is bog wood.   <I see, thank you> Again thanks for your help. I need it!  I have to admit that I am sort of freaked out about this and I am feeling pretty down. I had high hopes about getting back into the hobby and was planning on adding either a few Kuhlis or some dwarf frogs to the tank but it seems like my tank will never be healthy. <Mmm, give it time... could be chemical/s leaching from the bog wood... try removing this for a few weeks, the carbon...> I have had problems right from the start despite all my efforts.  I hope I can get through this with all my fish and my tank intact. <There is something likely very simple at play here... to be found, fixed in time. Bob Fenner>

Overstocked Aquarium? - IV - 08/24/2005 Hello again, <Hello.> My sick Gourami died, it had white stringy feces and I now know that is BAD. <Usually an internal parasite....  Praziquantel or Metronidazole administered orally (in food) is usually the best bet for treatment.> Now in my original 29 gal tank that is very close to done cycling (nitrite and nitrate about 0.1 ppm and ammonia 0.1 to zero, pH about 7.8/ my city water is moderately hard and pH is about 7.8 too). In this tank my sword tail (he is young / < 2 inches) is slightly sluggish (swims in one spot) and has white stringy poop, he still eats well with no other visible signs.....same signs my gourami had before death..... <Could be entirely due to the cycle.  PLEASE consider fishless cycling henceforth.  This process is harming your fish.> I now bought another tank 21g (my plan was to get a 10g for isolation, now I have an excuse for a  3rd tank...hehe). <Any excuse for another tank is a good one, in my book!  Though, I doubt my husband would agree....  <grin>> I have 3 red eye tetras and one small minnow in the tank. This 21g is cycling and not at its nitrite peak yet, but nitrite is quite high 2.0 ppm / mg/L ; ammonia very low ~0.1 ppm / mg/L. <Toxic....  these fish are suffering.  Please do water changes immediately, and get those levels to zero....  It may prolong the cycle slightly, but better that than killing/burning your fish with toxins.> The minnow is fine as usual, two of the three tetras have larger "scale sized" white patches on them. <Quite possibly a result of toxins in the water, or disease brought about by stress from the poor water quality.> One tetra (the most aggressive one lately) has one small scale sized white patch on one side of it (about 2mm) and one larger 3 scale size white patch behind one of his gills. [I tried to take pics they seemed useless] The other tetra has one small scale sized white patch. They look like missing scales but I don't know, I have no experience in this.... They could be fuzzy, but I am not sure. <Firstly, get those ammonia/nitrite levels to zero....  If the illness does not improve after that, I would consider offering food laced with antibiotics (there are now a couple such products on the market which are widely available at chain-type pet stores).  I would avoid medicating the water at this time, as that will prolong the cycle even more.> the fish are not listless they are very active and besides their white spots they them healthy.  They eat very very aggressively. <Likely, then, that they will recover, given good care!> Thanks so much for your help,   <Always glad to be of service!  Thank you for taking the time to learn and enjoy the animals in your care. Sincerely,  Kev <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Overstocked Aquarium? - V - 08/24/2005 Sorry, I always think of more info. after I send, and yes I DO spend time editing.... <Which, incidentally, we appreciate!  It is such a bummer to have to correct spelling/grammar for folks....  Yours is quite nice.> I now have two filters in my 29g to help with filtration , one for 20g and one for 50 g....  I'm my 21g I have filtration for max 40g.....  Also, some observations I have made see to suggest the nitrogen reducing bacteria live in the tank (gravel etc.) and  not in the filter.... I took the filter from my 29g and used it in my new 21g and the new tank is still "cycling" like a new tank...???!!! any comments? <The nitrifying bacteria do, in fact, live in the tank in addition to the filter.  The bulk of one's biological filtration takes place in the substrate of the tank, where there is a veritable breeding ground for the little buggers.  The filter will acquire them as well, but not in such magnitude as the substrate.> Regards - thanks a million <You're quite welcome!> Kev <Still wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Unresolved Fish Death 8/14/05 WWM, <Yo!> Recently one of my Scissor Tail Rasbora's died; it had a red sore/wound on the right side of the fish and was missing the right eye. <Yikes!...> This happened very suddenly, a day prior it appeared fine with its 3 other tank mates. Tank is a 75 gal fresh w/ African drift wood (10 pc.s), natural rock, and live plants.  Water quality is 0 ppm ammonia & nitrite, 20-40 ppm nitrate & 7.2 to 7.4 ph with a constant temp of 82.  Filter is Penguin 400 Bio Wheel w/ power head and air stones. Tank mates include Scissor Tail Rasbora's - 3(was 4), Gourami's - 4, Serpae Tetra's - 6, Pictus Cat's - 2, Dollar Fish - 2, YoYo Loach, Dojo Loach, Red Tail Shark, Iridescent Shark's - 2, and med Pleco. Please advise, I did not find anything close on the web other than maybe Tuberculosis? Thank you Jim A. <Not at all likely an infectious... or parasitic problem here... but first guess: some overt aggression by a tankmate or, second close runner-up: a physical trauma... the fish running into something sharp (losing the eye, consequently bumping into...? for the beginning of the sore on the side)... Unfortunately, "it" could be a few of the above fishes... with the exception of the Serpaes, loaches, Pleco. You will have to keep your eye on the sharks, Gouramis, Dollars... to assess who the culprit (likely) is... I would not add chemical treatments here... Bob Fenner> Bala bailed... cramming in new FW livestock in a newly set-up system... ich, consequences 8/11/05 HELP!!!! My beloved Bala has bit the dust!  It all started when I transferred my 4 fish, 1 5" Bala, 1 Gourami, 1 Cory Cat and 1 guppy, that I had in the 10 gallon. <Yikes... too small...> The Gourami suffered from stress (I think) and died a few days after I introduced 3 new fish, 2 rainbows and a Goby.  He had white fuzzy stuff around his mouth and on his side and looked terrible. <...?>   I noticed later that day that the new rainbow had a white spot on his fin, so I immediately removed him from the tank.  I waited a week and everyone seemed to look fine so I added 2 Brazilian Rams, 2 German rams and a new Rainbow fish.  Everyone was getting along "swimmingly" and I thought my troubles were over.  The water is crystal clear, the test strips say conditions are good and then out of the blue my Bala died. Then the next morning the guppy died and now my 2 German Rams and the small Rainbow have little white spots on their fins. <Ich...> One of the Germans also has a fin that looks a little strange and a raised white spot on the side of his body.  I purchased some Fungus fizzy tablets from Jungle and I am planning on treating the entire 45 gallon tank when I get home. However, the box says take the Carbon out of the filter while using.  Is that while the fizzy tablets are fizzing or for several days? <While using any medication, carbon should not be present... it removes same> Like I said, the water quality has been consistently good, so, I don't want to fix one thing and create more problems by doing so.  What a blessing it is to have such knowledgeable, dedicated fish lovers to come to for advice!  Thank you in advance for your help! <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above, particularly re ich... and quickly. Bob Fenner>

Dead Clown Loach and Infecting Other Fish? 8/9/05 Hi Guys <Daniel> First of all - great site for info! First posting for me, so hopefully you can help. <Will try> I recently inherited a tank from some family who have moved abroad. It's octagonal, approx. 32 US Gallons and stands tall (140cm high and 40 cm across). We set the tank up and let the cycle begin again - just putting the fish that they already had in the tank back in (1x Plec, 1x Angel Fish, 1x Siamese Fighting Fish, 2x Gourami, 1x Medium Clown Loach, 3x Red Nose Tetras). Unfortunately we learnt the hard way by adding too many fish too soon and - you guessed it - we lost a load of fish - both new and old. <Was, is and will likely be the number one cause of captive aquatic mortality... uncycled, crowded systems> So, not wanting to make the same mistake again, I took a sample of water to my local aquarium shop and let them test it. They suggested leave the tank to settle down for a couple of weeks, before adding any more fish, so we left it about 3 weeks just to be on the safe side. We didn't lose any more fish in this time. Last week, I decided to add a few more fish but wanted to make sure the water quality was good enough to do so before adding the fish. The same shop tested it and said it was fine and that we should start to add fish slowly to avoid a quick build up of Nitrites (or is it Nitrates?). <Either, both...> On their advice, I bought 2 Dwarf Gourami, 4 small Clown Loaches (approx. 2 in' long) and 10 tetras (5 Neon and 5 Harlequin). We already had the following; 1x Plec, 4x Platy, 4x Molly, 3x Neon Tetra, 1x Siamese Fighting Fish, 3x Red Nose Tetra, 1x Gourami, That was Friday afternoon and this morning (Monday) I've found that 1 of the new Clown Loaches has died, as well as 1 of my Platy, 1 Neon Tetra and 2 of the Harlequin tetras. I half expected to see the Clown Loach die, as I saw a couple of white spots around his dorsal fin yesterday (Sunday) afternoon and his tail had started to fade. He was also very lethargic, lying on the bottom (when the others were active). This morning nearly the whole of his body had faded in colour. To (hopefully) prevent an outbreak of white spot, I added some Protozin to the water last night and have turned the temperature up to 82 from 79. I haven't added any more Protozin yet, thought I'd ask for some advice from you guys. <Might... have trouble, simply from treatment...> What alarms me now is that my Siamese Fighter looks like he'll die today! He's developed a cloudy eye and white around his mouth, so it looks like he probably has mouth fungus. I can't believe how quickly this has taken over him, because he was fine yesterday evening! I really don't want any more fish to die, but don't want to give them the wrong treatment. What do you recommend to sort this out? Should I try Salt instead of Protozin, at least I'll protect the bacteria. <... the root of your problems is environmental... even w/o discussing your filtration... this size tank, its shape (not much surface area) makes keeping much life difficult... and you've got way too much, too soon> Also, one final piece of information. As my tank is so tall, it's difficult to fish the dead ones out when they're on the bottom. Can I leave them there to decompose naturally, or am I best fishing them out? <Remove them immediately> Thanks for all your help and keep up the good work. Dan <You should get your own test kits as well... most folks are unaware how transient, changeable such test water is... by the time you get to a shop for their testing for instance, ammonia can be gone... If you're given to learning from the written word, I suggest perusing our FW Set-up area: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Read through the articles and FAQs files there... there are a few basic mistakes in your arrangement... that will become obvious to you. Bob Fenner> Chlorine Problems 8/5/05 Hello, First time participating in a web based FYI session. I thought I would send along my experience with the Bala swimming inverted (simulating an infected swim bladder) and listless with heavy breathing and sometimes they dart in all directions. I have lost about 2 dozen fish in my experience and would like to share what I found.  I came across your page searching for albino Labeo chrysophekadion since I have a 16-18 year old fish and thought I would start searching for companions.  Anyhow,  I had 8 Bala's all around the 7-9 inch size in a tank which was fueled by well water.  I moved to city water and within the first two water changes lost all of them to toxic poisoning.  I change my water once every 2 - 4 weeks and about 1/3 to 1/2 the water at a time.  They were in a 70 gallon tank. This occurred 7 seven years ago and with experimentation and scientific methods I noticed it was mostly related to the chlorine levels in the supply water.  My pattern was that I restocked the Bala's in spring and every winter they would expire to poisoning.  Throughout the past seven years a water softener was added to minimize some of the incoming toxins, and to a point it did make a difference.  I found out that the cities water department was increasing their chlorine levels in the water supply for a failing pump and well.  Last summer the pump was replaced and I have had no casualties since when executing a water change.  I found out that silver scaled fish are more susceptible to toxic poisoning so I suppose that Arowana's and Silver Dollars are in this category also. I do take precautions when preparing to change my water especially in the winter. The city engineer reminded me that the chlorine levels will stay higher in colder temperatures since it doesn't have a chance to "burn off".  So when changing water in late November to the end of March I never change more than a 1/3 of water unless my chlorine test strip (made by Jungle) assures me that the level is safe.  I noticed that a lot of Bala Shark discussion occurs on the page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwshkfaqs.htm and I think that Chlorine Levels (especially from government water supplies instead of private wells) could be the culprit.  Hope my experiences help and maybe provides longer lives for the sharks in the hobbyist tanks. Robert < We will pass this along so others may learn from your experiences.-Chuck>

Chorine question 7/26/05 Hey there Wet Web People! <Hi!> I'm an 8th grade Science, and a colleague at a workshop asked this question and I wanted to clarify the answer. <Mentally I think I'm still in 8th grade> We have been working with water quality info at this workshop and the question was raised:  Does chorine absorb like phosphates and nitrates or does it dissipate too quickly to allow for absorption? <Absorption into what?  Living tissue?  Chemical media?  Chlorine GAS at 1ppm can cause pulmonary (heart) problems in humans per http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/54/4/1120.  According to http://www.foxriverwatch.com/dermal_skin_pcb_pcbs_1b.html, aqueous (that means chlorine dissolved in water) chlorine and other PCB's (PCB's are chemicals produced with chlorine and another chemical called biphenyl, that are destructive pollutants, as they are readily absorbed by animal skin and tissues, and accumulate over time.  For example, if you are exposed to a certain amount of them, then later exposed to the same amount, you have doubled the amount in your body, because they are not excreted.  The pesticide DDT is an example of a PCB.  They are very destructive to animal food chains, especially to animals high up on the food chain, like eagles and sharks)  can be a hazard, as the absorption rate through skin is as high as 55%.  As far as dissipating aqueous Chlorine from water, most will dissipate within 48 hours, faster if the water is aerated, and within minutes if the water is boiled.  Chlorine is readily adsorbed by activated carbon, as well as other commercial chemical absorptive/adsorptives, such as Poly-Filter>   If you could possibly reply ASAP, that would be great!  I would like to give this answer in the workshop tomorrow!  Too soon, don't worry, I'll still take the answer! <I hope I wasn't too confusing with my answers.  If you'd like to write me back an email that explains your question better, or if you want me to better explain my answers, I will be glad to help> Thanks for you help! <You're most welcome> "Spunky" Sharon <a sleepy Michael Maddox :)>

No prev. corr. included, but FW disease, env. 7/21/05 Hey again, I wrote you yesterday about my big fish tank problems.  You signaled many problems to me that I am taking into consideration. The problem is... First of all, you mentioned that BioSpira is better then Cycle. The problem is that I live in Quebec, Canada, and I have called 20 stores and nobody carries it. Any other suggestions?   <Mmm, use the Net... many companies, e-tailers in the interest sell this fine Marineland product> The second thing is that you mentioned I should return the fish.  My LFS wont take them back. <... then you'll have to treat them>   And I am attached to them now and I wouldn't want to lose them.  Any other suggestions on how I can make sure my fishies will be ok and safe.  I don't want to harm them. <Read... on WWM re> Thanks for your great website and the personal help! Stephanie <Keep studying, but quickly... formulate a treatment plan... Bob Fenner>

New Tank Problems 7/18/05 Hi, after looking through your FAQ's for a couple of hours I've finally decided to email you. I'm sorry if this question has cropped up before but I couldn't really see anything similar. I have a 60ltr Bi-Orb which I purchased around 10 weeks ago. After having some trouble in our cold water tank (with some fancy goldfish) I thought I would try tropical with this one and so, decided on guppies as these seem to be a bit more tolerable to new and inexperienced owners. I got 2 male and 4 female guppies which were doing fine for around four weeks. I then got two "smallish" angel fish after assurances that these would be fine with the guppies. Within a week one of the angel fish had died and the other looked like it had white spot so I put in some medicine. By the next morning the other angel fish and one of my male guppies were dead.  Medicine perhaps? < Fish weakened by diseases and probably poor water quality.> I did a 50% water change and checked the progress of my remaining 5 guppies, they were fine.  I decided to leave them for a while before making any more purchases. Round about this time I also noticed a snail or two in the tank, after finding some info about them on the internet I decided to leave them and let them clean the 'waste'. I also got rid of the live plants and replaced them with artificial ones.' Three days ago (5 weeks after the angle fish saga) I decided to try again with some more fish and got 5 neon tetras and a beautiful red Siamese fighting fish which were in the same tank in the shop. Got up yesterday morning (two days later) and to my horror the fighting fish was dead.  That night we discovered a couple of guppy fry and were elated once more. I'm not sure which one had given birth, although we decided one of them didn't look quite so fat and therefore assumed it was her.  Today she was dead. Two hours later another female was dead.  Five hours later, the remaining 2 females and the remaining male guppy seem to be fine (although I have noticed extra activity with the male chasing the females) and the 5 tetra also seem fine.  Nitrate, nitrite and ammonia levels are all zero and the only problem I can find is the pH level which is slightly low at 6, could this be the problem or is there something more sinister going on???? Thanks for any help you can give. Linda < A pH of 6 is pretty low for a new tank unless you live in the Northwest where rainwater makes up most of the water supply. If the water has no minerals then the pH could go even lower. Guppies actually like hard alkaline water. The other fish do ok in soft water but not if they have ich. I would recommend that you get a 5 gallon bucket and stabilize the pH at 7 with a buffer you can buy at the store. When the pH has stabilized then use this water to change water in your aquarium. It should help.-Chuck>

Can it be something else but Ich? <definitely> - Please help soon urgent 7/15/05 To the Crew <Yes> I purchased a 20 gallon Tank to house freshwater tropical fish. After letting the tank run for 5 days with no fish, I went to the store to buy some starter fish. <... was this system cycled... in terms of biological filtration?> The store advised me that 3 platys and 2 cherry barbs will be a good start.  He did say I can go with just 5 platys, but the barbs will be a bit active and more fun to watch while I wait for the month of cycling.   <... you didn't "wait"... you added fish livestock> So I went with the suggesting of purchasing the 5 fish, the 2 barbs 1st and then the 3 platys 2 days later.  The tank temp is between 76f-80f, and I did add 1 tablespoon of sea salt per 5 gallons. Now here is my problem, last night when I went home I noticed the female barb had a small white dot (like a grain of salt) on top of her tail and 1 on the top of the dorsal fin.  When I left the house this morning the one on the tail was gone but the dorsal fin one was still there.  After some reading I concluded it was ich, and I know it is important to treat it as soon as possible so I purchased some Ich Cure.  I am reading everywhere to do a 10%, 25% or 50% water change.  This seems like a drastic difference which should I follow? <... I would wait, ascertain whether you actually have an infestation period. You can elevate temperature in the meanwhile... to the low 80's F> With a water change this big will this not cause an ammonia spike since it has only been just over 2 weeks? <You likely already have such going on> As well the bottle says to only use for 3 days, but the life cycle of ich is about 2 weeks should I use ich cure for the recommended 3 days or for a full 14 days? <... at this point, not at all> Once the last treatment is done should I do a major water change or just a regular 15%-20%? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm> I am a bit confused because with some more reading the barb is not displaying any symptoms of ich. <Bingo> She is swimming with the male barb, her appetite is extremely high and she is not staying near the heater, but she is sometime hiding under the coconut shell, and rocks.  I was wondering if this could be anything else besides ich?   <Could be... even just slime reaction to the stress of being moved, placed in an uncycled system... Don't "shoot yourself in the foot" (anymore than you have by stocking an uncycled system), by poisoning it needlessly with toxic "medicines"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your time Chris

Re: Can it be something else but Ich? - Please help soon urgent 7/17/05 Hi Bob Fenner, <Chris> First let me say thank you for the extremely quick reply you gave me last night. <Welcome> My tank was not cycled and it was Ich, by the time I got home the barb had several, and so did the male platy.  I took the advice from the fish store to setup and let the tank run for 2 weeks then add some hardy fish to start the cycle.  I am guessing this was wrong after reading the link you sent me. <Correct> I went back to the fish store and told them off for telling me to add fish in a tank that was not cycled.  They explained that the cycle does not start until fish are added, and the only way to do it without fish is with adding "pure ammonia" not the all purpose ammonia sold at the stores. <... ignorance> They said I will never find "pure ammonia" in Toronto. It is obvious they are not aware of the one method in the link of adding foods with protein or a cocktail shrimp to the tank. The manager heard the yelling I was giving the employee and said they will take the fish back hold them in a spare tank and treat them for ich.  I told him this still does not solve the problem that I will have a tank that is not cycled and now invested with ich. The manager told me when I bring back the fish, to empty my tank, rinse everything well and he will give me some sand/gravel from their tanks to get my system to cycle. Thank for your email reply. Chris <Again, you're welcome... Bob Fenner>

Mystery toxicity in a FW system 7/14/05 Hi! <Hello> I'm having some issues with my 20 Gallon community tank.  My fish keep dying.  Currently I have (living) : 2 dwarf gouramis, 3 silver-tip tetras, 6 White-Spot Tetras, 1 Zebra Danio, and 1 African Clawed Dwarf Frog.  Over the last two weeks I have lost 3 Zebra Danios, 3 White cloud minnows, 1 Silver-tip Tetra, 2 Leopard Danios, 1 African Dwarf Frog, and 1 Dwarf Gourami.  I am frustrated as, when I purchase a school of fish to put in my aquarium, most die out but a couple will survive.   <Ahh!> I'm getting a little choked with the local suppliers as they keep telling me my water is too soft, therefore they will not replace the fish.  Repeated tests on my water show both high dKH and dGH, which suggests to me that my water is in fact TOO HARD. <Yes> I have been maintaining anywhere from 1 to 7 aquariums for the last 20 to 25 years and I have NEVER experienced this kind of death-rate in my fish. The local store staff, although they seem knowledgeable, are suspectedly giving me the wrong information in order to save their profit margins.  I have enough knowledge of water chemistry to know that my tank is too alkaline, and the buffer (dKH) is too high to allow me to effectuate any PH changes.  I have tried reducing the PH on my tank for several weeks now, and have only succeeded in reducing the PH value from 8.4 to 7.6 - this includes doing partial water changes with rain water, and distilled water, as well as trying commercially-available additives. <Something in the tank...>   My readings in my tank as of today, are as follows: NH3 - 2.4 <Yikes! Toxic> (no charcoal in filter as I am treating for a mild ich bloom) <What?> , PH - 7.6, NO2 - 0.2, dKH - 5.6, dGH 4.48 (was 6.0) and the temp is steady and maintained by a heater at 24C (74F).  What's going on?   <A bunch...> I know I have to adjust my PH to around 6.5 - 6.8 for the species of fish that I have, but every I try, it jumps right back to the high 7's within 8 hours or so.  Do I change suppliers?   <For what? Livestock?> Considering most tropical fish are bred by two or three companies in Florida, I doubt this would help.  I have 3 other tanks with bettas and various assortments of amphibians, with which I NEVER experience any problems.  They have the same water sources as my community tank.  I do not wish to literally flush any more money down the toilet.  HELP! Alan Perry. Prince George, BC. <I suspect something in the tank is poisoning your fishes, frog/s... Do you have stones, gravel from somewhere else other than what you use in your other tanks there? A bit of metal contamination? The ammonia is way off the scale of survivability... Is this tank cycled? Adequately filtered? All water needs to be treated BEFORE being added to the tank... Stop adding "water conditioners" until the ammonia is gone. Once the minor "ich bloom" is cured, I would add a unit/pad of PolyFilter here and see what color it turns... indicative of what the root toxicity is that's present.

Ongoing freshwater losses 7/15/05 Thank You for the insight and suggestions! <Welcome> The tank is cycled, <Uh, not from your readings> my normal filtration unit was an Elite submersible with foam, and "Ammo Carb" charcoal, <... this is insufficient> and I had put a small unit of peat moss to try to soften the water and add acidity (the peat actually worked better than any filtration unit I've tried yet - it cleared the malachite green within hours and I had to subsequently remove it again).    After writing the letter yesterday I placed a small unit of poly in the filter, and removed all the other media - within hours it had turned grey-brown (I assume this is suspended particulate matter and could be the reason my fish are croaking).    All my water is aged for a minimum of 48 hours after treatment, and before adding to any tanks.  Usually I have a few 5 gallon jugs sitting around for longer (sometimes a couple of weeks). <Good>    On the bright side... The ich seems to have left as of this morning (although I will keep treating with Malachite Green @ 1 drop/ 2 gallons for another 24 - 48 hours to be sure), and the two fish that were carrying the white-spots have regained their vigour.   I will purchase a metal test kit to see if there is any present in my tank.  As far as the gravel - nope same in all the tanks.  I use silk plants in my community tank and a "Pear Ficus" (which seems to have adapted nicely to being aquatic, as it has nearly taken-over my amphibian tank) in my toad environment as well as my Betta tanks (washed clippings).   Should I maybe add some plant clippings to my community tank? <No... the fig genus is often toxic in freshwater aquariums> Thanks Again!!!! Alan Perry <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Incredible reappearing Gouramis- help! 7/7/05 Hello to the Crew, I set up my 30 gallon freshwater, let it run for a week, then added 2 Blue Dwarf Gourami males. Checked water quality for 5 days and all was progressing nicely, until I came home and my fish were gone on the 6th day. We assumed they either ran away from home or the cat got them, but could find no evidence of escape or midnight snacking. Two weeks have passed during which I've added plants, played with gravel, splashed around, etc., waiting for the tank to finish cycling before getting new fish. Tonight I moved a large rock and out came floating two blue bodies, which then proceeded to twitch. I was shocked! Don't know if they were stuck or what, or how. Surprisingly they are alive with no food for 15 days, but worse, no water changes. Ammonia is about gone, nitrites are sky high. <Toxic, toxified... why did you place fish in an uncycled system?> I did a 50% water change, fed them, turned off the light, lowered filter intake flow (one got pulled alongside), and turned up the bubbler a little. They now have more motor control, but seem very weak. Any other suggestions? Chances for survival? I might have missed something else pertinent on your site. Thank you!! <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm particularly the article and FAQs files on Establishing Biological Cycling. Bob Fenner>

Re: Incredible reappearing Gouramis- help! 7/7/05 <Toxic, toxified... why did you place fish in an uncycled system?> Hi Bob, Because placing a couple fish into a new tank at the beginning helps the cycling process. <... dismal...> At least that's what I've always been told/read. <Well... now you're being "told" differently... there are better ways to establish nutrient cycling...>   I've read the cycling FAQs and have cycled several tanks over the years.  I watch my pH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels religiously and do regular water changes along the way to keep the ammonia, then nitrite levels down. I've never lost a fish. In this case, the two fish "disappeared" at the beginning of the cycle (still low ammonia levels), not to be seen for 2 weeks, and assumed to have been gotten by the cat. Thus, I did not do any water changes, and was waiting for the tank to finish cycling before adding new fish. My question was what can I do, other than what I've listed, to help the poor critters. Thank you for pointing out my tank is toxic and suggesting the FAQ on tank cycling. <Glad to find you've been reading... but you stated that the nitrites were/are high... I would keep these under 1.0 ppm through water changes... look for a bacterial prep. like BioSpira, other conditioned media... to facilitate cycling. BobF>

URGENT * high nitrates, need immediate assistance... much more trouble than this  07/02/05 Hi there, novice here,     I've been reading up a lot on your website and I am very pleased with the quality and quantity of information, thank you. So, here's the scoop: EQUIPMENT: 1 55 gal. tank (fresh water), 1 75 gal, limit bio wheel penguin filter, 1, in tank, tube heater (approx. 12in. long and 3/4in. diameter but plenty large for the tank), and 1 double hose air pump (air rocks located on both ends of the tank). LIVESTOCK: 1 spotted eye Oscar 6'', 1 silver Arowana 9'', 1 fire eel 15'', 2 blood parrots 3-4'' (one developing black spots within the last two weeks, the other's scales seem to be blemished [best described as one's hair when he wakes in the morning, but only in one spot as opposed to all over, approx. 1/8'' diameter on one side] and not discolored, 1 Large South American Cichlid (heard he's named after a famous boxer??) <Maybe a Jack Dempsey> 10'', 2 blue face discus 4'', <... mixed in with these other cichlids?> 2 peacock bass 5-6'', and 1 pleco 6''. SUMMARY: I acquired this tank approx. the first week in June, I immediately outfitted the tank with 1/4'' round gravel substrate and about 50lbs. of it, i filled the tank with tap water and added the appropriate dosages of "Stress Zyme" and "Stress Coat" both by "Aquarium Pharmaceuticals," and i hooked up and plugged in all of the equipment and let it run for about 5 days. I then added the Oscar, the Arowana, the Parrots, the South American Cichlid, and the Pleco. After two weeks, I added the rest of the fish but at roughly the same time I noticed there was some ich developing on a few fish so I treated the whole tank with "Rid Ich" for a total of 7 days. on about the fifth day of treatment the Oscar developed a "Hole In Head" about the size of a cubic millimeter, accompanied by two greyish lesions on one side of his body, he was also "gasping for air." To remedy this, I did a 40-50% water change, accompanied by the appropriate replacement doses of "Stress Zyme" and "Stress Coat" and of "Rid Ich" I also decided to treat the entire tank with "Metrazol" [for the hole in head] because I was afraid that the other fish would also soon exhibit the internal parasite. <... not really due to a parasite per se, but poor water quality... poisoning from the Rid Ich to boot> Within one day, the Oscar was still gasping for air but his lesions were clearing up and he was becoming his usual active self. On the beginning of the eighth day [of ich treatment, added every day as directed, and the third for Metrazol, yet, only one dosage of treatment (the directions say only one dose but two if necessary) was put in the tank and deemed necessary because there was (visibly) only one fish to treat] I found the Oscar dead, lesions almost healed, but with brown gills. For a side note, the other fish seemed to be absolutely fine. I immediately took out the Oscar and went to the LFS to get a "TetraTest Laborett." RESULTS: Ph= BTW 7.5 &8, NO2-= BTW 1.6 and 33mg/l <!> (It was RED and I'm sure you guys know how broad these things are), Ammonia= 0, GH= 8-9dh, and KH= 2dh. fed the rest of the fish [like I do every morning and every night, careful not to overfeed, followed by a 50% water change of equal temperature (and proper dosages of "Stress Zyme" and "Stress Coat"). <... you don't want to keep adding these...> I noticed though that this time (doing a 50% water change) the fish did not take as well. the Arowana has been quite temperamental and the less aggressives are significantly less aggressive, particularly the South American Cichlid who is generally quite aggressive, has become quite docile by comparison to his usual self. I really need to know what the best plan of action is for lowering nitrates?? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files at top> can you give me a realistic idea of how much water i should be changing and when? <This is posted on WWM as well, but you have many larger issues... Principally a lack of sufficient filtration and incompatibility> can you tell me if the Ich medicine conflicted with the Metrazol so i don't do it again (it was LFS OK'ed?)? Or anything at all I'm not considering... I have noticed throughout the forums "Bob Fenner" suggested multiple times to stop feeding the fish until Nitrate levels subsided to 0 and I will do so immediately once I get the OK from him for my tank. I know that 50% changes are not healthy especially when the tank is first cycling but it seems that there are always extenuating circumstances. I'm just concerned about starvin' the Ol' fishies. Sorry i don't have a Nitrate reading yet, will be getting a test kit for it tonight. Thanks ahead of time, George Kordopatis <I do wish we could start back at your planning stages here... the BioWheel is insufficient... the Arowana will get too large, the discus doesn't live in the same water... Time for you to stop buying livestock, medicines, water conditioners... and STUDY. Read on our FW subweb re set-up, the fishes you list, their care, husbandry, water conditions, nutrition. Basically, start over. Bob Fenner> White Fungus Problems Hi all, Got a problem with fungus. I have a 10gal Jebo 338, my fish are 2 comets, 3 leopard danios and 4 white clouds. I used to have 3 comets but lost one recently and it appears another is on the way. <Goldfish and tropicals should not be mixed together... and your system is too small for their inclusion at any length> My recently lost comet got reddish fins and whitish slime on his body and fins. His tail eventually rot off and it didn't look like stopping so I took him out put him in a 3 gal bucket to settle down a few days. This fish was basically hanging head first in the water due to lost tail. It was clear to me he was not going to recover so I euthanized him to end the misery for both of us. I change my water 1-3 weekly. But even when its 3 weeks I've tested and ammonia and nitrites are nil and nitrates are 10-20ppm. ph is very constant around 7.5. my tap water is 7 and very soft. I use a conditioner as per specs for the new water. I also put in a drop of AmmoLock for each water change. I've tried AquaMaster multi cure and PimaFix to try to fix the problem but there seems to be no improvement. <These are worthless here and in general> I don't think I overfeed because I check the amount I give and how quickly they eat it. If there is an overfeed I skip next days feed. I change the filter medium also about every 3 months. I've used the same ceramic noodles though. The comet is eating well but I notice he darts around the tank a bit more frenetically now. I'd noticed at one stage prior to a clean some of this whitish fungus accumulating on one of the plastic plants also. Any advice u can give appreciated. Mark, Melbourne, Australia. <Your care is apparent... but your main trouble here is basic incompatibility... Goldfish are coldwater animals, too "dirty" to keep in a small system with tropicals. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and separate the Goldfish into their own, larger system if you'd like to keep them. Bob Fenner>

Hot Water Hello, I'm hoping that you can answer a question for me... I have just purchased a 20-gallon aquarium and have just finished setting everything up (filter, heater, thermometer, etc.). My question is, the book that came with the aquarium said to keep the water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, however, we have had a massive heat wave and the temperatures outside are hitting 38 degrees Celsius with the humidex.  I don't have air conditioning in my house as it's brand new, so I unplugged the heater to try and bring the temperature down a bit.  Once the temperature dropped a bit, I plugged the heater back in but set it at approx. 68 degrees...  I didn't want the temperature to drop too low, but I also don't want it to get super hot.  The current temperature of the tank is ranging from 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Will temperatures of 80-85 degrees be okay for tropical fish?  Are they okay to survive in a warmer temperatures?  Or is this too hot? Thank you, Laurie < Many people in the country have the same problem as you. Excessive summer temps. Most fish can handle slow changes in water temp without too much trouble. Increase the aeration to cool the water down a bit and to increase the oxygen concentration.-Chuck>

Red and Black Fin Streaks Dear Crew, <Hello, Mike G with you this evening.> We have 2 goldfish which we have had for about 2.5 years and acquired them both when they were roughly 1 inch in length.  We went from a 3 gallon Eclipse system to a 6 gallon, then a 12 gallon and most recently to a 29 gallon Eclipse system which required a lot of "new" dechlorinated water.  The 2 goldfish are now between 5 & 7 inches in length.  There was some expected stress the first day or so after the introduction to the new tank and we saw one of the fish lose part of its fin.   <You didn't cycle?> They eventually settled in and have been feeding very well. After a few days to week, we noticed the water appearing a little cloudy (we had introduced new plastic tank "rocks" etc and didn't know if the cloudiness was some sort of residue).   <Probably a bacterial bloom, as the tank was uncycled when the fish were introduced.> It has been approximately 3 - 4 weeks in their new aquarium and the 2 goldfish seem happy with normal activity and eating habits but one has in the last day or so developed RED streaks in its fins (almost like red ink) and the OTHER fish has developed a few BLACK spots on its scales and BLACK streaks in its fins (especially near the edges).   <Hmm... Red sounds like a bacterial infection, black streaks in those places can also indicate "ammonia burns." Both are caused by poor water quality, which happens when a tank is not cycled. test your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.> There food has not changed and consists of a mixture of Nutrafin Goldfish flakes and goldfish floating pellets (I thought that using some pellet food would lessen the amount of uneaten flake food particles that would sink to the bottom and add to the protein/nitrate levels of the tank). Tomorrow, I plan to test the water and do an exchange.  Do you have any ideas as to the cause of these newly developed RED fin-streaks on one fish and the BLACK fin-streaks and small spots on the other?   <Bacteria/poor water quality/not cycling. Try a nice big water change and dose some MelaFix for the bacterial infection. Good luck. Mike G> Thanks very much! David

Red and Black Fin Streaks Dear Mike, <That's me> Thanks so much for the response. <No problem. Glad I helped.> I tested the water today and the Ammonia level was high  (8) <Woah! 8 parts per million? That is absolutely deadly. 1ppm is considered high. 2 is considered massively high. But 8? Well, that is in a class of its own! And your fish only have red and black streaks! A testament to the hardiness of goldfish!> the nitrites were in a normal range as was the pH and hardness.  I did a 25 - 30 % water change and treated the  tank with AmmoLock 2. <A good call. Keep up with those water changes!> The fish are still doing relatively well;  one still has the red streaks in fins and the other still has the black near the fin tips. <It will take a while to fully disappear once conditions are corrected.> The one with black is now showing more black "spots" on scales and some black discoloration on one of the gills. <Ammonia is still burning it. Test again, change more water... > I will obtain some MelaFix.  Do you think I need to think about salt, copper or formalin at all? <No, right now I think you only need to worry about that ammonia level.> Can you please tell me what would have been the proper way to cycle the water in this case going from a 12 to 29 gallon tank?  I'm still very much a novice but learning quickly from my mistakes. <We were all once there! I am glad to see you taking the initiative to help your fish/learn form your mistakes. Okay, now for "Cycling 101" Ammonia is a compound toxic to aquatic life, and is also produced by all aquatic life through everyday bodily functions, such as respiration and the passing of feces. Decaying organic matter also produces Ammonia. Certain beneficial bacteria consume Ammonia and convert it to Nitrites in the process. When a tank is first set up, there are no substantial colonies of the said bacteria, so the Ammonia level quickly rises. As time goes by, these bacteria will build their populations up to colonies large enough to effectively convert all Ammonia to Nitrite on an as-produced basis. Nitrite, though much less toxic than Ammonia, is quite a deadly compound itself, and approximately 1ppm of Ammonia would convert to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5ppm Nitrite, so you could imagine it builds up rather quickly. The Nitrite is converted to Nitrate in much the same way as Ammonia into Nitrite, except a different species of bacteria is responsible for the said conversion. Nitrate is nowhere near as toxic as Ammonia, and pales in comparison to Nitrite. However, around 2.5ppm of Nitrite will convert to approximately 6ppm of Nitrate. So, you can see, as the cycle is going on, a lot of Nitrate is produced. Nitrate is the "end product" of the conversions, and there is no aerobic species of bacteria that consumes it. However, things like plant life and water changes will all help absorb Nitrates, emphasis being placed upon water changes. Best of luck, and keep me in the loop. Mike G.> Thanks a bunch! David

Change Water Problem and the Effect of Aerosols on Fish (6/5/05) Happy weekend everyone! <Thanks, same to you. Steve Allen answering today.) I just have a simple yet strange question that I cannot find an answer to. I make my change water a week ahead of time in a 20 gallon plastic garbage can which I purchased just for that use brand new. I add the salt then water then water conditioner. Then I put in a heater and a large bubble stone and let it sit with a loose fitting cover. The last two times I decided to check the change water for no particular reason and there was a significant amount of ammonia in the water. <yikes!> I rinse the can out with hot water before and after every use. <I'd use room temp water rather than hot> I'd be a little concerned that the hot might cause the release of some chemicals form the plastic. I've noticed plastic odors when I use hot water in plastic containers.> Any suggestions as to why this is happening, because it really is frustrating to dump the water out and start over again... and costly too. Maybe a week is too long to let the water sit? Thank you, Heather. <Two possibilities come to mind. The first is that there is ammonia in your tap water. Test it. The second is ammonia in the salt. This happened to me once. Another possibility is that there's something wrong with your test kit. You may want to verify the results with your LFS. If there is no ammonia in you tap water (you should aerate for 24 hours before adding the salt), and there is after you add the salt, then the salt is the culprit.> P.S. A reader (Christene) asked a question regarding the deaths of multiple bettas in her mothers bathroom. I had the same problem and found that when I quit spraying my hair and stopped using spray deodorant the fish lived. The spray particles where contaminating the water. Just a suggestion worth trying. ...And also for the lady in Loves Park Illinois with the ich problem.... I live in Brookfield Illinois if you want me to try to help. I've gotten through ich successfully before. <Thanks. Excellent observation on the aerosols. Using any aerosol chemical product in the same room (especially a small one like a bathroom) can be dangerous to fish in the room. If you'd like to be helpful to others in this hobby, you should consider joining our chat forum--lots of folks seeking input there.>

Rookie Mistake Hello, My name is Chris and recently I decided to join the many others in this world of owning a aquarium in my home. I purchased a 25 gallon tank and made the mistake of using a regular household counter cleaning product inside the tank before set up. Needless to say my first little fish buddies didn't make it a week before scrambling in circles and then drowning from the cleaning product (I think it was something like 409 or Fantastic). Well I then emptied the tank and cleaned it out with vinegar and re-setup everything but forgot about the gravel and water pump and had the same problem again. So with talking to some other people who have had aquariums suggested getting rid of everything inside the tank, cleaning the tank with vinegar again and then taking my water pump and anything that touched water (undergravel filter, tubes, any mechanical devices) and put them in a heat water cycle in the dish washer without any soap. Well after everything seemed to be clean and new again and sterilized, I bought new gravel and rinsed it in cold water only and set everything back up. I didn't want to lose any more tropical fish so I tried a heartier fish and went with a couple of goldfish (feeder fish since they are inexpensive). Well they didn't make it either so I don't know what to do anymore. I've read on your site a lot about soaking bleach in the tank and letting set in the sun after rinsing it out. Do you think this would help? What would I do about all the new stuff I bought and put in the tank? New gravel again? New decorations again? This hobby sure is expensive for one major rookie mistake. I'm just trying to find the best way to go about this without purchasing a new tank again. Any help you could give would be helpful. Thanks again, The misfortunate fish killer Chris <After a few total rinses everything should be fine. I would just give everything one last good rinse with plain tap water and set it back up. If your filter has a basket for extra charcoal, fill it up and replace daily for a few days. Then, before you stock again, do a fishless cycle. Start by thawing in a raw shrimp and reading here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  You will need a test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. I do not think your fish died do to the cleaner. That would have happened in the first day or so. More likely an ammonia spike from an uncycled system. Don>

New tank, dying fish Dear Crew, <Andrea... from a few languages meaning "Woman of the sea"> I was hoping to get a second opinion on my new tank issues. I have a new 30G extra high with an eclipse filter. The tank has your usual aquarium gravel, a piece of driftwood, and one plant (Amazon sword). Saturday, I went to the local fish store and after much discussion regarding hardy fish that could withstand the cycling of my new tank I came home with four small (perhaps 1.25") purple passion danios.  <Mmmm, better to not have fishes present during cycling...> After floating the fish for 15 minutes, I added some of my water to their bag and floated them another 15 minutes, then netted them and released them into the tank. They seemed happy enough. The next morning, one fish was dead. I removed it and then tested the water: pH 7.0, nitrites 0, ammonia 0.1ppm. The thermometer shows the temperature is 80 degrees. <Okay> I returned the dead fish to the store (this is a store that specializes in tropical fish) and took a water sample for them to test. They declared my water was "OK," but didn't give me any numbers. I had noticed that of the three remaining fish, one was chasing the other two relentlessly and nipping at them. The guy I talked to at the fish store suggested I add a few more of these little fish to divide the attention of the aggressive one. <Mmm, no... three is/would have been a fine number... environmental stress at play here> I picked up three more (for a total of 6 little fish in a 30G tank). By nightfall one more had died. This morning I found two more. Sadly, I don't hold out much hope for the remaining three fish. I fear when I get home from work they will all be dead. I tested the water this morning after removing the two dead fish and got pH 7.2, nitrites 0, ammonia 0.2ppm. <Yes...> I went back to the fish store at lunch time. I took them my water. They said it was fine and suggested there could be a problem with these particular fish. We went back to look at the tank they came from. The guy said he had pulled a few dead ones out that morning. There was one half dead one in there and one hanging at the surface. I just got a credit and didn't pick up any more fish. <Good> The fish guy suggested I try white clouds next as they are even hardier. He kept saying he truly felt I hadn't done anything that killed them. <...> My question is this, assuming that they truly are sickly fish and they all die on me: do I need to change the water before I add new fish?  <Depends on the actual cause of death... the time twixt your next livestock placing... the condition of the new fishes...> If I change out the water won't this prevent my tank from cycling?  <Yes> I know I could put in some Bio-Spira, but if ammonia isn't my problem then that won't help right now, correct? <Is a problem... be very careful re foods, feeding... no more fish livestock... keep monitoring, recording your water quality tests> Also, the pH out of the tap is 7.6 (or since that's only as high as my kit measures I guess it could be higher). I lowered it to 7.0 using calcium biphosphate since I was so advised by the first fish store employee I asked. Ultimately I want to put angels in the tank, and they need a lower pH, right? <Mmm, no... anywhere near neutral is fine for them... This variety has been produced for many successive generations in captivity... quite adaptable> However, the guy I talked to today told me that they don't lower the pH of the water in the tanks, they just use the city water as is with it's high pH, so don't lower it. Which of these is the better advice? <The latter... what the store does> Surely I need to lower it for the (eventual) angels? <Mmm, no. There are some types of aquatic life that need, or appreciate more acidic water... but not the domesticated Angels> Also, they advised me when setting up the tank to add freshwater salt. After seeing here that salt is not necessarily needed I added it at half the strength recommended on the package. I used 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons of water. The fish guy today insisted this salt would not harm the fish, although it's not so good for the plant. <... I would not add salt here... don't replace this when you start doing water changes> This turned out way longer than I intended. Sorry about that. I just don't want to kill more fish. This isn't my first tank, so I thought I had this all down pat.  ~Andrea <Do keep studying, keeping good notes for now... Endeavor to understand the underlying logic, science behind alls' opinions. You'll do fine. Bob Fenner> 

FW sick fish help I have a 90 gal tank. I am new at this (1 month) I had 3 swordtails. 1 died after owning it for three days. <Was this tank cycled?> Before it died the color of the 3 swordtails went pale and they were hanging out at the bottom of the tank. The 2 that are still alive are still pale not eating a whole lot (only food that falls to the bottom) and they seem to have a lot of small black spots. <What is your water chemistry?> My white molly has large white spot on her tail fin but seems to be eating and swimming around fine. In my tank I have 4 grown rainbow fish, 1 molly, 2 swordtail, 2 kissing gouramis,1 red flame gouramis and an albino pleco. What is the problem and what do I do? I read on your site to use salt but will it harm my other fish? Am I adding to many fish in the tank too fast? Hopefully you can help me before I lose more fish. Thanks Shawna <Mmm, hopefully you can help yourself. Please go to our site (URL above) and read re FW set-up, cycling, water quality, disease, these animals care. Bob Fenner> 

Re: sick fish help Hello again! <Shawna> No my tank was not cycled. I did not realize I had to do that. I got a tank from a relative who had to get rid of 16 tanks and lots of fish. Most of the fish given were sick. I received my 4 rainbow fish from him. It was something that just fell into my lap. I had no prep time. Unfortunately I bought some fish not knowing any better and have successfully killed most of them off. I now have... 4 rainbow fish 1 kissing gouramis 1 swordtail 1 albino pleco My water chemistry is all good except for my nitrite level is very high. I have been doing water changes everyday but it doesn't want to come down.  <It will, in time> I was told that would do the trick. I use Stresscoat with every water change. I also have ich I have been treating with ich guard and aquarium salt for a week or more, changing water every day. <These will forestall the establishment of cycling...> The temperature is at 82 degrees and I leave my light off. I think my gouramis has swim bladder his stomach is sunken and he has very little interest in food. My swordtail has black spots all over him but is swimming actively. So my questions are... 1. How long should I be using medication for ich when it doesn't seem to go away? <... I would dispense with using the medication, and simply elevate your water temperature. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > The spots are on the same place for the last week or more. 2. How do I get my nitrite levels down? I bought a vacuum for the rocks last night. I have used it once so far. Lots of crud in the rocks. I haven't been feeding them very much since the nitrite level was high. <... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the Related links above...> 3. If you can't mix medications how do I help the Gouramis with swim bladder? and also the swordtail with black spot? <One thing at a time...> 4. How often do I vacuum the rocks? Everyone tells me something different. <There is an article posted on WWM re...> I know you have probably answered all these questions before and I have been reading a lot on your website. I have 3 little kids and not a lot of time to be on the computer researching. I am way over my head and wondering what I got myself into. Please help! Shawna <There is no help for you unless you read... Stop writing and read. Bob Fenner> 

Lid on Too Tight Hi, I have a 10g freshwater tank w/8 guppies, 2 catfish & a pleco.  Until recently the only cover I had on the tank was a screen. A few weeks ago I decided to buy a hood for the tank & put in place. Shortly after 4 of my guppies died. The hood I placed on top of the tank almost completely seals the top of the tank with the exception of where the filter & air tubing run through and that's a tight fit. I was wondering could a tight fitting hood with very little openings cause problems in the fish tank such as dissolved gases not being able to escape? Could it cause other unforeseen problems? Please enlighten me. Thank you. < As the water moves in the aquarium the surface comes in contact with the air where CO2 and other gases are given off and oxygen is absorbed by the water and utilized by the fish and the bacteria that break down the toxic fish waste. I have seen instances where a tight lid, especially in an acrylic tank, can suffocate an aquarium full of fish.-Chuck> 

What's going on with my tank? And your English? I have a 55 gallon tank with 5, 3 inch discus 2 3inch angels, 5 clown loaches, a school of pea puffers, a sultan Pleco and 3 royal pleco's my tank is filtered by the Eheim 2128, <You need more than this canister for filtering here> my tank was running fine till I bought and installed the turbo twist 18 watt UV, I also hooked it up to a Fluval 403 so it didn't interfere with the Eheim and figured to two canister filters are better then one, both filters have 2 bags of Chemi pure. <Ah good> I hooked the UV up in the evening the next morning I found 1 dead discus. when I got home from work all bottom fish were either dead or almost there, and all discus were trying to jump out of water, and doing nothing but trying to stick there nose/lips out to breath air I panic'd so I did a 50 % water change turned to UV off and added bio Spira. I now have one discus swimming in circles. can I UV or too much Chemi pure do that ?????? all my test levels were fine and the fish were lively and never stressed till the day after I started the UV and 2nd canister. what can I be doing wrong?? <Possibly the UV killed too much of the free-floating microbial population too quickly, and/or changed the dissolved oxygen/Redox and pH... Maybe something else has gone on here w/o your notice. I would monitor pH, ammonia, nitrite... leave the UV off for now. Bob Fenner>

Help my Bleedin' Fish..? I HAD 5 fish who I've had for about 9 months. Recently I noticed one of them looked like it was bleeding. The next day however it was fine, I noticed this bleeding happened a few times more and it became quite regular so I decided to separate my fish in case it was being attacked. But unfortunately before I was able to buy another tank I found my fish dead in the tank. My roommates told me I don't feed the fish enough but, they are actually quite fat considering I feed them 3 or 4 times day for about 5 minutes each time. Another of my fish has recently lost almost half his tail! And I am starting to wonder is one of my fish attacking the other fish and will my fish's tail grow back?? <First about the bleeding. If by this you mean the fish had red streaks then I would say you have a water quality issue going on. Possibly from overfeeding without increasing water changes. This would also explain the tail rot. I would start with a few partial water changes. About 30 to 50% daily for a few days. Limit feeding to one small pinch per day. If the fish had a bloody wound it could be anything from aggression to a TB infection. Not sure what type of fish you have, but Algae Eaters have been known to eat the slime layer of other fish. This can leave a red mark on the fish. A tbls of aquarium salt for every two or three gallons may help, but again I'm not sure if you have salt tolerant fish. Don> New Freshwater Tank Hello, Last week we bought 4 guppies, 3 male and 1 female, and also a dwarf frog to start out our new 29 gallon aquarium. The very next day the female had about 10 babies. We didn't even know she was pregnant. The pet store told us to just put in Baby hide-out grass. That night the (what we thought was the female) was acting very weird and swimming in place right next to the under gravel filter near the bottom for over 1 hour before we went to bed. The next morning the fish was dead. About 2 days later another fish had tail rot and also died.  We have been treating the tank with some medicine and removed the 3 carbon filters in our tank (2 under gravel and Whisper-aire). It has now been 6 days since the fish died with tail rot and we will be doing a water change tomorrow per instructions on the medicine.  Well right now another fish is acting very strange, the fish is hanging out near the top of the tank in the corner swimming, he has eaten very little, and does not want anything to do with the other fish (normally they have been very playful with each other). So another guess I had is that this is the female and she is having more babies- is this possible? Would the behavior be normal? We had a hard time telling then apart in the first place- the female and one of the males looked very similar. An update on the babies, we now only have 2 left and they are a week old. There was actually a few without tails so we even thought they might be tadpoles, but that also seemed highly unlikely. Since we only have 2 left should we separate them once we buy new fish? We don't know exactly which ones we will buy, but they would be community fish. We hope to figure this out because we really would like to add more fish to our aquarium. What tests do we need to do to make sure the water is safe? This is our first tank and we are very new beginners. As for advice it always seems to depend on the person at the pet store and their experience. Thank you, Misty, Ernie and Abby <The single most important thing every fish keeper needs to understand is "cycling". Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  You will need tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. For right now do a 50% water change for your fish. Match temp and dechlorinate. Then read, read, read. BTW, better to have one male guppy for every two or three females. Your three males will hassle her to death. Don> 

Rocks Turning Blue  <Hello> In my ten gallon tank my rocks are brown but they are turning blue. What do I need to do? Please help. Every fish that I put in this tank other than rosey reds died. I first had low pH and I bought pH7.0 and so far it has worked. Ammonia is still high even with 2 a week water changes <First please do spell check your emails, we get a lot and have to post them on FAQ's for others. As for your tank it sounds like you haven't let the tank cycle. The cycling process puts good bacteria in the tank to handle the wastes of the fish. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  read that to help you understand what is happening. Once that process is over you can add fish.> <Justin (Jager)> 

HIGH SUDDEN pH Hi, I have a 29 gal. tank with the eclipse filtration system and it has been stable for at least 6 months. It is a planted tank with driftwood, 3 young angel fish, two aquatic frogs, 2 kuhlii loaches, a long nose whip tail catfish, and two thread fins. We do 25-30% water changes every two weeks. Found two dead angel fish today, they had not shown any signs of sickness that I picked up on, feed well the day before. I tested the water and the pH and alkalinity were off the dipstix chart... very alkaline! I did a water change of 30% and the water reads much better now but I am wondering what triggered this big change. Do you have any ideas why this would occur, I have not done anything different and my other tanks are all fine. I do not have any limestone or shells in the tank. We do have a lot of Malaysian trumpet snails and a porcelain decoration. Thanks for you help. Sandy < Check the pH of you tap water. In some areas of the country the water source changes or the water company adds lime to stabilize the water. In San Francisco for example the water used to be very soft, but recently the water dept has added lime to the water and the aquarists there are really having problems right now. If the tap water checks out all right then I would check the water conditioner. Some really kick up the pH. Topping of the tank with tap water may bring the pH up by adding minerals while pure water evaporates making it harder. Minerals in food may accumulate in the water band bring up the pH.-Chuck>

FW Red Fungus I have had a fish tank for about six months now, and got a light to put in the tank at Christmas. Since then a layer of red fungus has formed on the stones. I clean the tank every 4 - 6 weeks, and change only 20 - 30% of the water as I was advised by my local pet shop, AQUARIUS. Since Christmas I have had seven dead fish, five Neon Tetras which I got in October and were fine until Christmas, and two Corydoras, which, as with the Neons had been fine. Both breeds I have kept successfully before now. Does the red fungus have and part in the death of my fish??? <You are correct here... this is no doubt a "Blue Green Algae"... and is at least indirectly linked to your fish losses... That is to say, whatever the conditions are that have allowed/favored the BGA have also contributed to their demise. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the Related FAQs (linked above). Bob Fenner> 

Ich after quick drop in temperature? Hi, <Good evening> After a quick drop in temperature (80 to 68 over about 30 minutes) and then slowly raising the temp. back over the course of the day, should I put dose ich meds now or wait to see if anything develops? Your quick response is greatly appreciated. Thanks for the help. <Mmm, of course, you don't want to subject your livestock to this sort of chilling in the first place... You don't mention if this is freshwater, marine... what sorts of livestock... but I would not add ich medicine prophylactically. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ich after quick drop in temperature Sorry Bob for the lack of info. I was not thinking. <Happens to me... all the time> It is a freshwater cichlid tank. The drop in the tank temp was not intentional. Thanks for the help and great service you all provide. <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Tetra Easy Balance Overdose! Please help! Hello! I have a small feeder goldfish, (named "Dude") about 2 inches long. I keep him at my work, in a 1 gallon fish tank with bubbler. <A small world...> I've had him about a year, and he's been a perfect companion, energetic and happy. I know this because he's on my desk at work, I can observe him often to see any changes. I use "Tetra Easy Balance" once a week to keep his tank in good shape, and still do regular partial water changes, even though the "Tetra Easy Balance" says I only have to do it every 6 months. (I still do it bi-weekly) <Good> Anyway, 1 week ago, I went to add the 1 drop of "Tetra Easy Balance" to his tank, but the "dropper" part of the bottle had come off and I didn't notice. The next thing I knew, I had dumped practically half the bottle (several tablespoons) of this stuff into his tank! The water was immediately yellow, and I panicked! I did a water change right away, putting him in a cup with some of the water and changing all the remaining water... <Good move> ..expect [except?] maybe an inch at the bottom (I didn't like the idea of doing a full water change, even with so much of the stuff in there!) He didn't seem to have any problems the first 2 days after the incident, but ever since, he has been getting very lethargic, and won't eat his food. 2 days ago, I prepared a gallon of new water with some "Tetra Aqua Safe" and used it to change his water today. The first hour after his water change, he seemed back to normal, but since then, he has been at the bottom of his tank all day, fins against his sides, not eating, and "gasping" for breath. I'm guessing it has something to do with the overdose of Tetra Easy Balance... <Or even just the large water change> ...but I don't know what it did to the water, or what to do. If he gets better, can I start using it again?  <Yes> It keeps his tank nice, and he seemed so happy before. He has fresh water now, should I wait and see how he does the next few days? <Yes... if "Dude" has made it thus far, s/he should fully recover. I do want to suggest you look into larger quarters for this fish... as it's being "bonsaied" by being kept in one gallon of water will severely shorten its lifespan... Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm > Please help, he's my "little pal" at work, and I would feel really bad if he died because of my clumsiness! Thank you. Nancy Lucas <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Bye Bye Bio Filtration I want to thank you for your wonderful site.  Questions: I was reading yesterday about tanks infected with disease, and about not using pet store water when adding new fish. Okay, I have a tank that was diseased, and had pet store water in it. There were numerous diseases in there - all needing different treatments. I used Kanamycin and Super Velvet in there, and then took the whole tank apart and rinsed everything off. However, my water is well water and there is no chlorine in it. I put Bio-Spira in the water and figured everything was fine. Two fish got a fungus, and I set up a hospital tank the same day to treat them with Rid-Ick Plus, which specifically says it can't be used with any other medication.  Next thing I know, the fish in the "clean" tank started showing signs of disease. I had to treat them in the "clean" tank because of the Rid-Ick in the hospital tank. Since I had already tried Kanamycin, I started running Spectrogram in the "clean" tank. Next thing I know, two of the fish in the "clean" tank started developing Popeye. I cleaned the hospital tank again, put the Popeye fish in there and started treating them with Kanamycin. So here is the end result: I have a "clean" tank that apparently has some kind of disease in it that causes Popeye (one fish had already died from it before I started doing all these changes and treatments - right after I brought it home from the store.) One of your articles said that diseases can live in the rocks and silicone. Does that mean this Popeye disease can still be living in my tank? How do I clean the "clean" tank (there is only one fish in there, and I don't think she's going to make it) after I am done with all the treatments? Should I use bleach in the water I use to clean it, since there's no chlorine in my water? (I did this before in the city when my water WAS chlorinated, and just rinsed really well afterwards.) If I do, how do I get the bleach OUT of the rocks, silicone, decor, etc. after cleaning? De-Chlor? Regarding the Popeye, how do I know when the treatment has been successful? Will their eyes go back like they're supposed to be? Or do I just see that the eyes are not getting worse and figure I've killed the disease? Is Kanamycin the best treatment? When will it be safe (assuming they don't die in the hospital tank) to put them back in the "clean" tank? (I know a guy that has been giving antibiotics to a Betta for a year now because she had Popeye and one eye was still clouded over, and I told him that if the bacteria that caused it wasn't dead yet, it probably never would be.) Kasey DeVita <Hi Kasey. Have you been testing during all these treatments? The only diseases you mention are a fungus and Popeye. Both can be caused by bad water conditions. And the meds you used will kill the beneficial bacteria needed in bio filtration. Readings for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate would tell the tale. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm.  For right now I would suggest you stop medicating. Do a 50% water change daily for the next few days. Add 2 tbls of aquarium salt and one tbls of Epsom salt for each 5 gallons of replacement water. Mix it into the new water before adding it to the tank. The Epsom salt will help with the pressure build up in the eye. How much it goes back to normal would depend on the amount of damage done. The eye could be lost. When cleaning you can use bleach in the water. Rinse well, fill and add a double dose of dechlorinator. Then drain and refill. Small objects that can handle heat, even gravel, can be boiled. Please do a fishless cycle or use Bio Spira before adding any fish back to the system. Don>

Several questions: 75 gallon FW Hey guys, bear with me, there's a couple points I want to touch.  Here's my situation. I recently set up a 75 gallon FW tank. It has a sand substrate, is planted, has 7.4 PH, 1d GH, 6d KH, and is maintained at 77d Fahrenheit. To cycle the tank I used Bio-Spira and added the following fish  <You waited... or no time between adding the Marineland product and livestock?> 6 juvenile angelfish, 6 Corys, 7 neon tetras, 7 guppies, and 1 2- spot gourami. It has been ten days and the tank shows 0 on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. I have fed a pretty varied diet, from live bloodworms, dried bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, flakes with Tubifex worms, shrimp pellets, and algae wafers (except for the pellets, the diet I use for my ten gallon tank).  The problem is that I've killed quite a few fish.  The first night after adding the fish, I had 2 Neons and 6 guppies die from unexplained causes.  <Likely other ill-effects of "new water" (other than nitrogenous wastes), along with cumulative stress of moving about> Over the next couple days, I lost 3 Neons to what looked like a swim bladder disease... <Also largely environmental... good notes... makes sense re what you have, what is dying in order> each one would first separate from the group, then start "floating" in the current and twitching. I have no prior experience with swim bladder disease, <Mmm, not a "disease" but a symptom... like a headache in humans... many possible causes, cures> just a guess from reading on here. Two days ago when looking in the tank I saw an Angel stuck to the filter intake... after I got him off he just floated. Yesterday, a second angelfish seemed to lose his ability to swim and was just floating in the current. When I was home for lunch my fish all looked all right... but so did the other fish that have succumbed to this problem. <Just "too much too soon"... very likely your fishes' problems are due to being put in the tank w/o waiting a week, two...> So my question is, what action would you take right now to try and save the rest of my fish. <Feed sparingly, leave the lights off... perhaps raise the temperature, add a teaspoon of salt...> What is the most likely cause of these problems, <"New tank syndrome"> and what can I do in the future to not kill my fish. <Patience... don't we wish we could sell this in a bottle?> How would I go about setting up a quarantine tank for next time I want to add fish (since I know I will need to at least round out the school of neon's).   <Much the same as this one...> Sorry if this is an annoying or hard to read e-mail, and I know I have a lot of questions. <No problem. Glad to help... Not really able to give "high confidence" input here... as there are too many "chemical", "physical" possibilities... but almost all will be "solved" (avoided) by waiting out a week or more...> I've only been doing this for about 3 months, and hate to think that my incompetence is causing my pets to suffer. Any reply is appreciated, Paul Becotte <When, where in doubt, wait... Don't add any more livestock for a month or so here... all should be well otherwise. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia level and floating goldfish I have 1 Red Cap Goldfish. I used to have 2 and I got them in the beginning of November, but I got them from a very bad place (Petland Discounts - will never do it again, I know I should not have) and they had a disease when I got them. I gave them an antibiotic (Myacin - you guys had recommended it for them) during the last week of November. Harry pulled through and got better and is the goldfish I have now, but unfortunately, Sally did not make it. It has now been 3 months since I gave them the antibiotic. I know that at the time it killed whatever bacteria was developing on the filter. <It's long since come back> I have a 5 gallon tank and I have a wet-dry filter. I change the water twice a week and change from 30% - 50% each water change. I only change it so often because the ammonia levels are fairly high. I do not overfeed my fish - I give him one flake and wait until he finishes it before I give him another one, so none falls to the bottom. (By the way, exactly how many flakes should I feed him a day?  Assuming one flake is about 1 centimeter in diameter? I give him, maybe like 7 a day spread out throughout the day...should it be more? Less?) <Sounds about right... could be more... if you want the fish to grow... and I would mix in some other foods... even a few grains of cooked rice and a pea or two... when you're having them... and look into pelleted formats of foods...> The ammonia levels are around 1 - 2 ppm and doesn't decrease.  <Mmm, you need a better filter... look into an inexpensive "sponge media" type... like an inside airlift or submersible... or even a hang-on... you shouldn't have detectable ammonia> There are still no traces of nitrate, maybe a tiny bit, but the level is not increasing, so I don't think the water has cycled yet. <I agree with you> I am wondering why it has not. <Me too... mainly the filter, or should I state, the lack of filtration> I also use Cycle with each water change to help speed up the process. <Sometimes this product works, sometimes not. I'd look into Marineland's BioSpira... it almost always works> I have changed the water so many times since the antibiotic, I am sure there are no traces, so why do I still have ammonia and no nitrate? And what should I do about this? <The bacteria you want have just not "settled in"... in part due to the water changes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > Another problem - Harry seems to be in great health, but sometimes he floats up to the surface. He tries to swim down, but has a hard time, and just pops back up to the surface. However, this isn't all the time, because sometimes I come home to find him sleeping at the bottom of the tank when it is dark. I read that if he eats food floating at the top, he may be getting too much air into his body which makes him float?  <Much more likely this is from the all-flake diet... as stated, I would give up the flakes> I don't think he has swim-bladder disorder because he doesn't seem to be spiraling or floating on his side. But he has such a hard time swimming because something is causing him to bounce back up to the surface. Should I switch foods to one that does not float? <Do switch foods> I don't think he is very good at eating from the bottom of the tank, so I'm worried that he will not get any of the food. Or does he have a disease? Please help! I am concerned about the floating and the presence of ammonia in the tank. Thank you! -Jessica <Your fish's problems are due to diet and environment... having a real filter that's established and better food will solve its current problems. Going forward, when the opportunity can be made, I would move this fish into larger quarters... this will solve many problems by itself. Bob Fenner>

Cramming a Whole lot of Livebearers into an Uncycled system Knowing Better Ok, so I got this 10 gallon tank and have 4 swordtails and 5 platies in it. I am in no way a newbie to this. So I set up my tank after going 3 years without one. I only set it up because on a whim at the LFS I worked at got a customer that brought in this gorgeous wagtail male swordtail. I brought him along with a female and I didn't have a tank to put them in, so I put them in a breeder trap in my feeder guppy tank. (I know bad, bad of me) A couple days later I set up my ten gallon tank and put them in there. Didn't even let it cycle (I'm so bad lol). Didn't have gravel just put some live plants to float in there. So I noticed that they weren't doing too well (clamped fins and all), but I went anyway to my semi-local specialty fish store.  Of course I couldn't go there without bringing any fish home so I bought 2 lyretail female swords, 1 brush tail male platy, 2 female wags, and a wild variety. Oh yeah and I almost forgot 3 days before that I bought a hi-fin milk- and- ink female platy. So before I had even go to the specialty store I noticed I had ick in the tank, no big deal I'll treat with Methylene blue. It's working great. I also thought I have no quarantine tank set up so I'll put the new fish in there since they almost allows get ick from the stress.  So here's question number 1, I have done no, absolutely positively no water testing (I know I should know better than this) no fish have died and/or seem stressed. Will the Methylene blue affect all of the tests or just certain ones? <None... just your capacity to see colorimetric assay results> I have ammonia, ph, nitrite, nitrate and both hardness test kits. Second, since I only have live plants and the Methylene blue will kill them and I have no plastic plants there is no where for the fry to hide. I bought one female accidentally who has an extremely large gravid spot on accident, I know better than to buy a pregnant female from a pet store. But anyway I would like to try and save the fry if at all possible. I have problems with the female eating her babies in the breeder traps, even the traps with slotted bottoms an a V. I found this one by Penn Plax that siphons the babies from the mother (Penn Plax aqua nursery) I was wondering if you or anyone had any experience with that. <I do... this technology works... old-timey> My third question is a secondary fungal infection has broken out and only malachite green will treat it. I was wondering if Methylene blue and malachite green can work together,  <Yes> if not how long do I have to wait in between treatments if I use my carbon filter to deactivate the Methylene blue. I know have been horrible at setting up this new tank and should be slapped for my stupidity. Luckily no fish are dead or have died and I've had the tank set up for two and a half weeks now. Thanks again Logan <Logan... take your own advice... you know better than how you've acted. Bob Fenner>

Fish poisoned with algicide/clarifying agent Hi there. I used a product called Accu-clear in my tank, which was going green with an algae bloom. It had 2 of my breeding discus in it. Both discus instantly got sick and one to the point where it was lying on the bottom of the tank and gasping for air. Can you help me and give me some information on what I can do to help this fish? <Change the water IMMEDIATELY... as much as you have good water (about the same chemistry, temperature) on hand. Increase aeration... Bob Fenner>

Popeye--differentiating injury from bacteria Hi Bob, <Hello Angela> You've given people lots of great advice and I think it's fantastic stuff. I've read through your FAQ's but am having a problem identifying the cause of my fish's pop-eye. <Ahh!> I have two fish (unidentified... my dad bought it) in a new 29 gallon tank. It has only been cycling for 8 days now. Ammonia is at 0, Nitrite at 0.25 ppm, and Nitrate at 5 ppm. pH is at 7.8 - 8.0 and temperature at 79 Fahrenheit. <Okay... would have been better to not have the fish in a cycling system...> One of the fish developed pop-eye slowly. The pop-eye is only on one eye, not both. I read in the FAQs that it's most likely injury related then.  <Yes> However, the fish is not eating. Furthermore, it's developed cottonmouth. My sister says a black spot developed in her abdomen. I am worrying it is bacteria related, although it is only one eye that developed pop-eye. Furthermore, her buddy is doing well. He eats all the time and loves to swim around...so I am hoping it's an isolated injury. <Me too> I am not medicating right now, but have added some bio-support to boost the filter's bacteria to improve water quality. I also added some Aquarium Pharmaceutical's Melafix to the tank as well. The next day, she was doing much better. But by nightfall, she resorted to hiding behind a rock again. <I would discontinue, not use the "Fix"... it may forestall or eliminate your nitrifying bacteria... perhaps the root cause, but definitely a contributing factor here (the lack of biological filtration)... and perhaps add a bit of salt...> Can you please help me identify if the pop-eye is injury or bacteria related? And what steps should I take to curing it? <Can't tell the cause here... very likely environmental primarily, bacterial perhaps secondarily... to cure? A bit of Epsom is all I would try> I've read that pop-eye is not contagious, <Depending on its cause/s> but if it is caused by bacteria infection, then what can I do to improve the water quality to prevent other fish from becoming sick? Please help as she hasn't eaten for days! Thanks so much, Angela <You can do what you can to "speed up" the establishment of nitrification. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  and NOT do things that will cause more trouble... like adding "medicines", "herbal remedies"... DO feed sparingly, and NOT add more livestock... Do please learn what types of fish/es you have... as they have different needs, tolerances... Bob Fenner>

Uncycled African Cichlid Tank I was wondering if you could help me out. I have a 46 gallon bow front aquarium, with 9 African cichlids in it 1 long fake plant, with some rocks and a few pieces of coral in it. I also have about 1" of black sand. The water temp. is around 80 degrees and the pH is around 7.6-7.8. I've had the fish in there about a week and the water is cloudy. <... Sounds like a very nice set-up... but did you somehow "cycle" this tank before putting in the fishes? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > The pet store told me to change some of the water and put carbon in the tank. The water change did work for a night then it went right back to being cloudy again. What would be the best way to clear up the water. -Mike  <Your system... needs to establish populations of beneficial microbes... as you'll read... in the meanwhile, be careful to not poison your fishes by overfeeding... do look into test kits for ammonia, nitrite... and perhaps a product (e.g. BioSpira) for speeding up the process... Beware of "water clarifiers" as they will not solve the real problem here... and may kill your livestock. Bob Fenner>

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