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FAQs on Freshwater Environmental Disease 1

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

Related FAQs: Environmental Disease 2, Environmental Disease 3, Environmental Disease 4, Environmental Disease 5, Environmental Disease 6, Environmental Disease 7, Environmental Disease 8, & Cycling Trouble-Fixing, & Toxic Situations, Nutritional Disease, Popeye/Exophthalmia, Aquarium Maintenance, Establishing Nutrient CyclingAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Getting rid of a Chinese Algae Eater We have (what I suspect is) a Chinese Algae Eater.  We got him when he was small (on the recommendation of the employees at PetSmart), but he is now more than 4" long (see attached picture).  I think he is killing our other fish.  A few have died because of mysterious wounds and right now a black skirt tetra that we have had for a year has a nasty wound on his side (see picture).  How do I get rid of the Algae Eater???  I don't want to flush him and end up putting him into the rivers here.  Should I give him back to the pet store?  Please help----I don't anymore of our fish to die because of him. <I would definitely trade in this CAE... it is likely a/the killer here. Bob Fenner>

This is NOT a Cave Tetra! Blind as a Bat  >Hi,  >>Hi Rachel, my apologies for the late response, I found your message in a folder that has been neglected.  >I'm Rachael, and I'm a bit concerned about a new neon I bought.  >>Ok.  >I didn't realize till I got him home from the shop that he is undersized and has no eyes.  >>Oh my, poor culling practices it seems.  >He doesn't seem particularly ill otherwise, but the other fish I bought with him have started biting him and have already damaged his fins.  >>Yes, sometimes fish can tell when another fish isn't well and will kill it.  >I was wondering if getting a breeding trap for him would be a good idea?  >>Yes, to keep him safe from harm, it would be.  >That way he would be in a small space he could learn the size and shape of, I could put food in that the others wouldn't be able to steal and it would protect him from them.  >>It's his best hope for anything resembling a normal life. And quite kind of you.  >Also, have you any ideas how this might have happened? Is it likely to be a disease that the others could catch, or a breeding mutation, or just accidental injury?  >>It's a very common breeding deformity in koi, trout, goldfish, and other "over bred" or carelessly bred fish. They're *supposed* to be culled out, but some breeders just need the cash too badly to remove *any* fry that live long enough.  >I'd really appreciate any advice you can offer. Needless to say, I'll be going back to the shop tomorrow!  >>Indeed, though, they may be in a position where they have to take what they can get. However, if they didn't notice this (shame on them for not) then they would want to be made aware, and if they DID notice?? Well, SUPER shame on them! I say put them on super-double-secret-probation!  >Thanks!  >>You're welcome, and again, my apologies. Marina

Tetra! Blind as a Bat -II  >Thanks for such a detailed reply Marina, it's been really helpful.  >>You're very welcome, Rachael.  >You were saying about a breeding trap being his only chance of a normal life. Could it be considered cruel to keep him under these circumstances as it is unnatural for him to be on his own?  >>Some might say so, yes, but what's the alternative?  >He will probably never be able to live with the other fish. Is his brain complex enough for him to realize there's something wrong at all?  >>Ah.. that is very difficult to say. I don't know that we have any way to quantify how a fish like a neon tetra thinks.  >It's really quite grim. He appears to have a hole all the way through his skull, joining his eye sockets. Poor soul.  >>Oh my, yet it lives? I cannot help but be reminded of a foal one of our mares couldn't give birth to, because it was so horrifically hydrocephalic that it couldn't pass through the birth canal. I won't go into detail as to how we had to remove it, but we knew from palpations during labor that she lived up to two hours into foaling. Once she was out, we saw that she had spectacularly little brain matter. This meant that whatever life processes there were would have been limited to nervous system only. I would suspect that it's close to the same for the fish, and the fact that it's a lower order animal might mean that this is how it survived alive all the way to market. Amazing, really.  >If I were to decide that euthanasia is appropriate, what would be the most humane way to do it? I'd like to know from the perspective of all my stock as some have had some really horrible diseases. I recently lost a bronze Corydoras to a horrible case of fin rot that lasted a week or so.  >>My own method is not pleasant for the person who carries it out, but it IS quick and painless. These two aspects are always first and foremost in my mind, as I cannot stand suffering. I net up the fish and whack it hard on a hard surface. This, for me, is tried and true. (Large fish can be problematic) However, we have another crewmember who has used clove oil, a few drops in a dish in which she places the fish. She says that it only takes a few seconds, and that the clove oil, if I recollect, is a mild anesthetic. I NEVER recommend icing a fish, neither painless nor quick in my opinion. All this being said, though, in my opinion, if you're willing to give this tiny spot of fish his or her own little place in the world to let it live out its years, however many those may be, it would be a kind thing to do, as from what you've relayed it suffers not from its deformity, but from being picked on.  >I've a couple of other questions if it's not too much trouble.  >>Not at all.  >The first being do many people have trouble with bronze Corydoras?  >>Some Corys are difficult, yes, although it's been quite some time since I've handled freshwater fishes.  >I have terrible trouble keeping them alive. In fact I've lost every one I've had, yet books and Internet pages say they are a good fish for new starters..?  >>You know, it's going to be difficult to go by any common nomenclature, as I can find with a quick perusal of my mini atlas three different Corys that would qualify as "bronze". So, what I'll do instead is give you the genus and species of my favorites. For availability and overall hardiness, I must go with Corydoras melanistius. Know that if you go for C. paleatus, this is where you'll find the most color morphs, from albinos to very speckled, to bronze-y looking fish. However, my two favorites are C. arcuatus and C. metae. If you find that you can't keep catfishes at all, then we would need to examine the setup as a whole.  >Secondly, in your experience are Danio accident prone?  >>No. But they've become a very popular fish for scientific experiments, and I've found that any animal bred for these purposes is simply bloody CRAZY. Mice, rats, rabbits, they're just "not right".  >My zebras have gotten into the most terrible scrapes, they seem positively kamikaze. They've gotten stuck under slate, jammed into plastic plants (both long and trailing and short and grasslike) and scrape themselves on shells and all sorts. None of my other fish have gotten into quite so much trouble! My most nutty (or just as likely, stupid) fish got stuck under some slate, which despite losing half her tail and getting a big scrape on her head she survived. It threw her back out though - she was permanently curved after that, though got around fine and seemed happy.  >>Ouch. I have a bad back, too, but I got nailed on the head by a large ottoman (not the Turkish type).  >She lasted quite a while like that and I got quite attached to her. Sadly she got stuck in the short grassy plant, I've no idea how, and died there. *sniff*  >>This reminds of the stories from people with rabbits. I think they're rather highly bred, too. What people do to animals, eh?  >Anyway, is this a common story with Danio?  >>As I said, it's been quite some years, but I really wouldn't be surprised if these fish are being bred in huge quantities for scientific research with no culling going on whatsoever. This could lead to animals becoming very inbred and thusly, completely whacked.  >Thanks very much! Rachael  >>You're welcome my friend. Marina

Feeding Barbs on the Wee fins o' Guppies  >>To start, my apologies for this very late response, has been in another crewmember's inbox.  >I have a 29 gallon tank. I am just starting out. I have:  2 red tailed sharks (pair)  >>Uh oh.  >1 tricolor shark  1 pleco  2 zebra Danios  2 sm. Pristella tetra's (pair)  1 med bleeding tail tetra  2 red tailed swordfish (pair)  4 tiger barbs  2 dyed tetras  10 fancy tailed guppies  >>Mm hmm.. I feel the need to tell you a few things, but let's see what else is going on here.  >yesterday I discovered that one of my guppies is missing his fins, and tail, which fish do you think did it.  >>Ah, well, it could be those red-tailed sharks, that become VERY large and aggressive. So much so that they would do better with fishes like Jack Dempsey and Oscar cichlids. Of course, it could *also* be those tiger barbs, they have a real affinity for *anything* with pretty, long fins, and will nip them to death. At this point, I must also tell you that your tank is rather overstocked. Remove the two red-tailed sharks (the rainbow can stay) and ALL those tiger barbs - they're just troublemakers. The numbers of fish you have would be happier in a 55-60 gallon tank, but if you keep up with water changes and let the guppy and swordtail fry be food they might do alright. Also, a note on the "dyed tetras", PLEASE don't buy these fish! They are NOT dyed, they are INJECTED, and a cruel, cruel practice it is. Marina

Accidentally Added Test Solution to Tank !! 3/23/04 Hi,  I am in desperate need of experienced guidance. I have accidentally added a little over 1/4 teaspoon of Ammonia Test Solution to my 10 gal quarantine tank. Within 3 minutes I removed the one fish (a baby platy) to my 30 gal freshwater community tank - he's not looking so good. I am currently performing a 60% water change. Is this sufficient to remove the toxicity? Should I replace the filter media? What about the bio-wheel? Should I remove the substrate and rinse it? Wash down the tank? How will I know when it is safe to add fish? Did the small amount of water transferred to the larger tank on the fish net taint that tank as well? Prior to this the tank chemistry was perfect with the exception of pH (7.3). Ammonia - 0, Nitrite - 0, Nitrate - 15. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.  Thanks so much, Denise DiCesare <Hi Denise.  You did the right thing to move the fish.  Now that it is out, I would discard all of the water and disposable filter media from the Q-tank.  I would also use some water from your display to rinse all of the equipment before setting the Q-tank back up.  After all of that, it should be fine.  You could also call the manufacturer of the test kit.  They can tell you if any of the reagents are dangerous, but I doubt that a small amount of "tainted" water will hurt your main tank.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Popeye with scratching Hello, I have a 10 gal tank that has been set up for about 2 years.  I originally had guppies (given to my son by a well meaning friend), then added 2 African dwarf frogs.  All of the guppies died, probably ich.  I treated the tank with no luck.   <I'm sorry to hear that.> Only one frog survived, and he has been living the lonely life for the last 2 years.   Recently I added tiger barbs, a panda Cory, a rope fish, and a pleco, a few at a time to the tank.  The tank now has: 1 pleco 1 African dwarf frog 1 rope fish 1 panda Cory 2 tiger barbs 4 green tiger barbs <Uhh, yikes.  You said this is a 10 gallon tank, yes?  Oh my.  I daresay you are grossly overstocked - the rope fish (Erpetoichthys calabaricus) alone will get three FEET long, and will possibly eat the barbs, cories, and frog.  The Plec will be alright for a few inches, but please be aware this animal can and will grow to a foot and a half or two feet in length - and they are perhaps the greatest poop machines in the world, contributing grossly to polluting the water - not good news in a 10g tank.  I would strongly recommend you consider omitting these two fish from the 10g.> I had planned on adding a few more tiger barbs so that they would have a nice little group, especially since they are picking on my Cory a little bit.  I know that they need to be in groups.   <Agreed, but even if you omit the above two fish, the tank is at (or possibly beyond) capacity as it is - please do not add more fish, it will only make it difficult to impossible to regulate good water quality, and therefore difficult to impossible to keep the fish healthy.> The problem is that now they are scratching and one tiger barb has Popeye in both eyes.   <What are your readings for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH?  I would hazard a guess that nitrate is sky-high, with the fish load - that would explain the pop-eye (Exophthalmus) in the fish.> I have not noticed any spots or problems with any of the other fish, except scratching.   <The scratching could be attributable to poor water quality, if indeed you have ammonia or nitrite present in the tank - these will irritate the fish.> I have raised the temperature to 84degrees and am going to go get some Epsom salts today (also a new water test kit, as mine has grown legs).   <Ahh, gotcha, wonderful.  Please do so, it'll make it SO much easier to understand what's going on in your tank.  Good deal.> I have been doing 10% water changes.   <How often?  For the meantime, I would do a few very large water changes, perhaps even 50% or more, to dilute the wastes in the tank.> Do you think that the combination of raised temp, salt, and water changes will be enough, or do I need to medicate?   <Mm, I think your problems are most likely due to water quality, I think you're doing the right things.> Also, if I should medicate, since all of the barbs are scratching should I medicate the whole tank?  If not, how do I know that the infection isn't going to come back when I reintroduce the fish after being in the hospital tank?    <At this point, nothing you've told me indicates a need to medicate.  I would keep my eyes open for ich, though, as the scratching may be indicative of this, if it is not poor water quality alone.> I would hate to kill off my beneficial bacteria. <Agreed.  Please revisit your stocking plan, and omit the fishes that can't fit into it (the Plec and Ropefish).  If you are interested in these fish, please consider a much larger tank in the future, for properly housing them.  I must say, the Ropefish are wonderful little beasts - one of my favorites - and well deserving of a big tank.> Thanks!  KJ <You bet.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Help with my cichlids! Hello, I have a 30g tank with 6 cichlids, which were very healthy.  They were all doing great until I decided to do a 15% water change, cleaning of the filter, and vacuuming of the gravel last night.  Now, this morning I find them all hovering near the surface, like they're oxygen deprived. I quickly tested my water and found the nitrite level to be high (looks like 0.5ppm), so I added Amquel (1tsp per 10g).  Ammonia was zero.  Ph was 7.4.  I also noticed that a cloud in my tank has begun!   DISEQUILIBRIUM!  My fish do fine when I don't touch the tank.  It's only when I do the maintenance that I get into trouble! :-( What do I do???  The last time I saw fish gasping for air like this, they ended up dying! Please help. Thanks Joel < Joel this use to happen to me too for awhile and it took some time and some help from Dr. Tim Hovanec from Marineland to figure it out. So here is what is going on. When you do this mega- maintenance procedure you basically are removing the good bacteria from your system. They feed on the ammonia , then the nitrite in the system. The bacteria live on things like the surface of your gravel and in your filter. When you vacuumed the gravel you removed many of the good bacteria and a food source for them. You then cleaned the filter and then there was no food for them to eat so their numbers dropped off. The ammonia that was in the water was converted by the remaining bacteria to nitrite. That's why you were getting such a high nitrite number. Now your fish are generating ammonia and there are no good bacteria to break the ammonia down. In an African cichlid tank with a high pH the ammonia is very toxic and attacking the fishes gills, this is why they are having problems breathing. Basically you have a new tank syndrome all over again every time you do this mega-maintenance procedure. So what do you do? Continue to do water changes with treated water until the cloudiness/ammonia levels are under control and the bacteria have a chance to regain their numbers. Her is what I would do to prevent further problems. I would use a Marineland power filter with a bio wheel attachment. The bacteria live on the wheel so it doesn't matter what you do in the tank. If you don't want to get another filter then vacuum the gravel one week and then change the filter on the other week without vacuuming the gravel. This way the good bacteria always have something to feed on. I have changed over to Marineland filters with BioWheels and have never had the problem again. A good wet/dry filter would work too.-Chuck> Re: Help with my cichlids! I really appreciate the advice.  Now, I have a better idea of what NOT to do (no more mega changes).  I rechecked my levels:  ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0, ph is 7.6 after adding the Amquel.  One of my six fish died!  The other 5 are still hovering at the top surface of the water :(.  Do you think that these fish will make it? <The ammonia spike more than likely has chemically burned their gills. Don't feed for awhile since they probably won't eat anyway. Lower the temperature to the mid 70's. The lower temperature will increase the oxygen caring capacity of the water and reduce the activity level of the fish since they are cold blooded. The Amquel has probably saved your fish for now by trapping the ammonia and nitrite. Do a 5 gallon water change every day and take the water from skimming the surface and not using a siphon hose. This will skim any fats any oils that accumulated on the surface. Increase the aeration if possible with the addition of an airstone. As the fish recover you can reduce the procedures above.>  Is there anything I can do for them? <Try the above and see how it goes for a while try and be patient-Chuck> Thanks again, Joel

Novice needs help Hi guys. I am a novice and have just started keeping fish. I bought a bio-orb to start and intend to move upwards in terms of tank. I have recently had a bit of a scare. I have 2 Honey Gourami (did have 3 but one passed away) 5 zebra danio, 2 leopard danio and a Siamese fighter. I recently looked into my tank and noticed what looked to be some sort of insect larvae. One of my Danios (please excuse the graphic nature of this) was floundering and had no fins or eyes left. I removed him from the tank and he went on his merry way to his maker. I did a thorough water change (if in doubt get the old water out) and this seemed to get rid of the larvae. However, i think that someone or something is nipping my Danios fins. My fighter and Gourami are unaffected. All fish seem healthy and my water is fine. Anyone have any ideas??? Thanks Smidge Hello Smidge, yes you do need help :P First, I need to ask you some questions, what is the size, in gallons, of this Bio-Orb? I am unfamiliar with this. I looked it up on Google, and found a goldfish bowl. Is this it? It looks like it holds around 2-3 gallons of water. From what you mention, you have overstocked this bowl. I would not be worried about larvae, I would instead be worried about two more important things: one, you have too many fish in a new tank/bowl, and your ammonia readings will be high enough to kill them all pretty soon, if you do not remove some fish and take them back to the store, and do daily partial water changes to keep the rest alive.. You should buy yourself some test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, or have the store test these for you. It's better to buy your own, as test kits are easy to use and will save many fish lives. You have 12 fish in there! You SHOULD start with two or three, and eventually you could keep 5-6 small Danios in there. OR one Betta and two Danios, it depends on the size of the bowl and what your test kits tell you. The second problem you have is aggression. You are keeping fish together that should NOT be kept together at all. The Danios will shred your bettas fins, your Betta will fight with your gouramis, and they will all succumb to ammonia poisoning soon, so please do a water change, and decide which fish you want to part with. You should also tell the store you bought all these at, that they have sold you too many fish for a new tank, and they have sold you incompatible fish, in short, they have given you some pretty bad advice! -Gwen<< Urgent- Reagent spill in tank Hi to whoever is covering, I had a major accident. I think. I accidentally spilled reagent from my LaMotte Nitrate testing  kit into my 75 gallon plant tank. It is called Mixed Acid Reagent. I spilled approximately 30 ml. The ingredients say: 2% acetic acid, 1% copper sulfate, 17% ammonium chloride, 10% sodium chloride, 4% citric acid, 2% sodium phosphate, and water to make 100%. Do you think I damaged, fish, plants, filter? I did a 25% water change as that is all the water I had made up at the moment. <Hopefully not much of this material actually got into your system... whatever damage was done, is done... The rapid water change was a good idea. I would add some activated carbon or the product "Polyfilter" to your filter flow path. Do conduct further assays "in the sink". Bob Fenner> Thanks for you help. Ken

Re: Urgent- Reagent spill in tank Hi Bob, <Ken> Thanks for the reply. It is 12 hours now and I had one fish death. Even the baby lemon tetras survived so far. I did add Hydro Carbon 2 from Two Little Fishes as well as Seachem Purigen last night to my canister filter. Do you think I am out of the woods yet? <Yes, likely so. The mention of the Tetras is indeed useful, telling.> Also do you think that the readings that I get when testing the water will be thrown off since that reagent was added to the tank? <No, the material involved is not only rapidly diluted, but reactant and gone almost immediately> Thanks again for your help. Regards, Ken <Good luck, life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Urgent- Reagent spill in tank- Last Question- PROMISE Bob, I just tested my water for ammonia using Aquarium Pharm test kit and I got 4.0 ppm ammonia. <Yikes!> I don't know if this is where it will stabilize or not. Is there anything I can/should do? <Yes... cut out feeding entirely, keep monitoring the ammonia, and pre-prepare water (of the same or lower pH) to make a massive (25-50%) water change if your livestock show signs of poisoning> Also I see that Purigen says that it removes ammonia from the water. I don't know how accurate that is si I don't know if my readings should be higher. <The chemical filtrant product may be "exhausted"> I have about 40 fish in my tank of the barb, tetra, rasboras, SAE types. I also have a very heavily planted 75 gallon tank. I probably have at least 200 plants. Do you think the fish can make it through this ammonia period and how long should it take for things to cycle through. <The plants definitely... I would keep monitoring the ammonia... hope for the best. Bob Fenner> Thanks again. Regards, Ken

Clownfish problems I've been researching the web for over an hour and cant seem to find what wrong with my pair of freshwater clownfish.  They can only swim up, not side to side anymore.  This behavior has been going on for weeks, but never so bad.  They had ick about a week ago and doesn't seem to be there anymore, I treated it.  In addition, there may or may not have the white cotton around mouth.  I cant tell what's normal.  Please help. Also, my newt wont eat, has no arms. but has been alive for weeks, should I perform euthanasia. thanks so much, diana Boyer Hello Diana; I need to ask a few questions...how many gallons is your tank? Is the newt in the same tank as the clownfish? What species are your clownfish and the newt? Are they clown knives, or clown loaches? How long has this tank been set up and running with fish in it? How often do you do regular partial water changes? You will need to get your water tested. If you have your own test kits, test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. If you don't, take a sample of your tank water to your Local Fish Store and have them do the tests for you. Please let me know the results. I'd say that 90% of fish illnesses are directly related to water quality. If your fish have mouth rot, you will need a different medication than you used for the ich. What did you treat the fish with when they had ich? Did you raise the temperature of the tank? Ask your LFS what they sell to fight mouth fungus, and make sure they explain how to use it. Please get back to me, as this sounds like a water quality problem. -Gwen<<

New ten gallon tank My husband just got a new tank and his babies are dying. :) It is a 10 gallon tank, it has that filter without the wheel (charcoal filled scrub thingy in a waterfall like box), he has a heater and the standard light that comes with new kits (15W) We went to a good fish store and the owner said our levels were all good (the only specific I know is that pH is 7.1. The temp in the tank is a constant 80. We got some kind of shark fish (looks more like catfish) and both of them died. Our two Neons died. our red eye and our red barb died. Our first Dragon Fish died (that broke my husband's heart). The little fish lasted about a day and a half. the sharks lasted almost 4 days. Our new dragon fish is seemingly happy but he seems to sleep on his side. ??? Is that normal? We have a silver molly who is happy, a red and black fish who is kinda crazy but happy. My husband bought a bubble want thing and the fish REALLY like that. ( I know they have plenty of O2 could that be to much?) We also have two small crabs and one is molting. My husband added that aquarium salt once. Any ideas on why they seem to die so suddenly? (Most of the ones that died are either very small or from PetSmart. We also have 4 live plants. >>>>Hello :D Can you please elaborate on the filtration? How long has this tank been set-up and running with fish in it? It sounds like you are adding too many fish far too quickly. Your ammonia and nitrite levels are probably too high, this is what is killing your fish. It would be great if you could buy your own test kits, and email us the results. If you don't want to buy the test kits, please make sure whoever tests your water at the LFS writes down the results for you, and that they test for the following: Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, and also pH. Then email me the results, please. In the meantime, you will need to do some partial water changes. Remove 50% of the water and replace it with water that is the same temperature, and dechlorinated. Use a thermometer to ensure the water is the same temp. -Gwen<<

Follow-Up of FW Problems (2/2/04)  Hi Steve, <Howdy. back with you again tonight.>  Thanks for your help. Just wanted to give you status about my little fishy situation. I haven't moved my chocolate pleco to a quarantined tank yet. Instead I performed a 50% water change over the weekend, vacuuming a little bit of gravel, cleaned out the water filter in tank water (glad I did it, it was pretty dirty) added Amquel (which is the only conditioner I have right now) <And is fine for chlorine/chloramine neutralization and as an emergency stopgap measure for an ammonia crisis. Overall a good series of actions on your part.> I was using the stress coat to help some of the fish restore their fins from being nipped at. Is this bad? <That's fine. That's what it's for. As with anything, be careful not to overdo it.>  So far the fish haven't been scratching as much, they seem better for now. <Good.> When I cleaned the filter out, I noticed that the water I took out of the tank was green, so it was an algae bloom? <Algae and bacteria in the filter.> Would this have anything to do with my cichlids scratching?? <Not really likely, but any irritation could cause this.> As for my pleco, he has no more white spot after the water change and seem to be more active. <My fingers are crossed for you.> I'll keep an eye out in case anything else happens.  As for having too many cichlids, I am not planning to buy anymore fish. <wise> This is it for me. I asked once before if it was okay to have one of each species/genus and they had told me that its a good way to cut down on aggression between the cichlids as long as I don't' encourage them to crossbreed...(which is not in my interest anyway.) They do get along fine and occasionally school together. <Good to hear. As you well know fish are unpredictable individuals. With luck, and having grown up together, your fish will be fine. It may be a rather heavy bioload as they grow. Good water maintenance will help with this.> The only seem to display aggression during feeding time which is not a surprise to me. <Yes, to be expected.>  As for my baby molly, I had inherited it's mom (and some other mollies & Platies) from my boyfriend's parents because they're fish all died from bad water quality (all the others died later due to secondary infections) She had given birth to about 15 fry, all dead <the way of nature> except for this little black thing swimming around. <cute> I had to save him. I'm planning to give him to a friend when he's bigger or possibly take him to the LFS. Don't worry, he's not going anywhere near the cichlids....he won't last a second. =o) <if that long>  I do plan to get a bigger tank later on down the road, <always nice> that is if ich doesn't decide to wipe out half my stock again. It's so discouraging when this happens...=o) <indeed> Other than that, thanks for your help, if anything else happens out of the ordinary, your website is the first place I'll be  checking out. <Happy to be of help. You are obviously a "Conscientious Freshwater Aquarist." Keep this up and you will succeed.> 

Oscar and environmental disease my Oscar is fairly good size, he has been swimming frantically across the tank slamming into the sides and everything else in the tank. When he is not doing that he floats almost as if he is dead. I have him in a 55 gal tank. he has a yellow coloring along his belly and gills. There is also marks on his face from slamming into the rocks on the bottom and turning in circles. He acts as if he is going crazy.. >>Hello. Sorry to hear about your fish. We need to ask you some questions to help us help you. How many inches long is your Oscar? Are there any other fish in with him? Can you please give us some water test results. what are your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? Please be precise. This is important. Also, how often to you do partial water changes? What exactly do you feed him, and how often do you vacuum the gravel?  -Gwen he is approx. 10-11 inches long, 6-8 inches tall, there are other fish in the tank and they all seem to be doing fine. I had my water tested at the nitrate level was off the chart within a few seconds. So will the changing of say 50% of the water for the next 4 days be sufficient? < Change enough of the water to bring the nitrates down to 25 ppm> Will he beat this problem, or is he to far gone already? < Cichlids , like Oscars are pretty tough customers. Get the nitrates down, service your filter and add some salt to the water to increase the slime coat on the fish. If he is still having problems then he may be suffering from a bacterial attack on his skin and gills. Look at a Furanace type of medication for treatment but watch out. It will probably kill the good bacteria in your filter too.> I usually change 25% of the water once a month, and the same goes with gravel vacuuming. <Obviously this is not enough because your nitrate readings are off the chart. Get a good nitrate test kit and change enough water to keep the nitrates around 25 ppm. Don't let them get any higher than 50 ppm.This will help you determine how much water to change and how often. Don't forget to service your filter or your nitrates will come right back. -Chuck>

Oscar doing Headstand. >I have two Oscars in a 55 gallon tank.  Spooky is about 8 inches and Sleepy Jean is about 12. I changed the about 1/3 of the water two days ago, and Spooky has been pretty much standing on his head ever since.   >>Hi Terri. How often do you normally do water changes? What are your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings? >He is very bloated.  I'm not an expert in regards to PH balance and all that, unfortunately.  I did put ammonia clear tank buddies tablets in there, and added Nutrafin waste control to the tank after the change.  I know I need a bigger tank.   >>You should really concentrate on water changes and proper filter maintenance, instead of adding chemicals. A nitrate test kit will help you determine how often to change your water, and without testing it for you, I can probably safely say you should be doing at least 50% of the volume TWICE a week. Yes, your tank is far too small for these fish. They are being poisoned by their own waste. >He may have eaten too much.  I don't feed them feeders, just frozen bloodworms and Wardley Cichlid floating pellets. Yesterday morning I dropped in 10 Maracyn-Two tablets. >>Again, test your water to be sure. If you are adding medications, you will also need to test for ammonia and nitrite readings as well, since antibiotics will kill your biofiltration. >I'm sure that I've overfed them recently, because there is food at the bottom.   >>By the way, how often do you vacuum the gravel? >Last night I added 5 tablespoons of Epsom Salt after reading over your e-mails.   My questions are - do I continue with the Maracyn-two? How often on the Epsom Salt, what would be best to feed them at this time, what is the best temperature for the tank, should I separate Sleepy Jean, although I don't know where I would put her.  She is really concerned and hovering but not biting him. She seems to be well. He's not eating anything.  (I have a 30 gallon tank with a 5 inch goldfish and some Plecos and striped Rafael's which she would definitely kill.)     Any suggestions and prayers would be greatly appreciated. >>Do not move them. Do they show any signs of HITH? Please respond with your test readings :) >Thank you for being there... Terri >>You are welcome. -Gwen  

Bala Shark Spazzing Out I currently own 1 Bala Shark in a 55 gallon with about 20 or so other community fish ranging from Dwarf Gouramis to a School of 8 Neons.  I bought the Bala about 8 months ago.  He's been real active, zips across the tank, sometimes chases other fish etc..  (I have a full hood, so no jumping)  I have had no problems with him whatsoever.  I bought him at about 3", he's now about 5 1/2" the last week, It was feeding time and I turned on the light.  He was spazzing.  He was zipping across the tank (sometimes upside down) crashing into the walls etc.  He then shot straight up, tried to jump out, hit the hood, dove straight down and buried himself in the 2" gravel at amazing speeds and smashed into the bottom of the tank . I thought he was dead and was real scared.  I grabbed my net, scooped him up and started moving him through the water (His gills were still moving) after about 2 minutes, he sort of woke up and went swimming off.  so It's almost as if he knocked himself out.  So anyways, next couple of days he's fine, swimming fast and active, but not crazy or anything. this morning, I turn on the light for feeding and he's spazzing again, it's very violent and a bit scary and my girlfriend won't even go near the tank when he does it.  He has no discolorations, no white spots, no "hole in the head" no slime on the skin, nothing unusual at all about him (or any other fish in the tank).  My PH is currently 7.0, heat is running about 81 degrees, I'm running a Penguin 330 dual bio wheel (which is rated for a 70 gallon tank) I do about a 15-20% water change every weekend (and use some water conditioner and ammonia/ammonium conditioner).  As well as vacuum the tank and clean the filter cartridges.  (Feeding them TetraMin flakes and sometimes bloodworms) (the Bala is not skinny and he is eating)  I'm wondering if this is normal? Is he spazzing because he's stressed out for some reason?  Any help or insight would be appreciated.  thanks Rob Gillespie  >>Rob, what are your ammonia, nitrite, and NITRATE readings? There are a few things that could be bothering your fish. One, aggression from another fish. Two, a parasite. Three, high ammonia/nitrite or nitrate readings. Four, stray current from a broken heater. Is your pH always at 7.0? What is your tapwater pH? If your tank pH is a lot lower, there could be a problem in the tank with DOC's. Once you have established that your NH3/4, NO2 and NO3 and pH readings are within normal parameters, we can think about other causes, like a parasite. If you think this is the problem, then you will need to treat with a good quality anti-parasitic medication, like Super Ich Cure or Quick Cure. Read the labels, since some fish need to be treated at half dosage. -Gwen

Re-growth of Fins Do fish's fins grow back after being nipped or broken?  I have a shukinbun's front fins broken when he came home from the bag.   <Yes, most fish regrow their fins, providing that the fin isn't severely damaged.  If it is bent, not torn, the chances are that the fins are going to stay that way. Some fish seem to regrow their fins faster than others.  It take a month or two for it to start to fix itself.  To help it grow a bit faster, make sure that the tank is kept up and the water quality stays good.  Then the fish stays healthy, and it's healing happens much faster.> So far 1mo, no re-growth.   <hopefully it's not permanent damage.  Have some faith, but remember some damage to fins doesn't come back. I have a lionhead that had one of his pectoral fins ripped off, it never fully came back, so it has a tiny stumpy fin.> My guppy also have a wedge from the aggressive Platies. <a small nip out of a fin should heal with no problems. Be careful because fin rot/secondary infections can start on a torn fin, so keep the water clean.  Good luck. -Magnus>

Fisheye Damage, Freshwater Style.. Could you please tell me why my fishes eye looks like it is damaged all around it. Out of the clear blue. It was fine and day or two I noticed it was hurt. I treated the water and now the eye itself is clouded over. <it might be that your fish has the start of pop-eye.  Which is an infection in/around/and behind the eye.  It's usually brought on by poor water conditions.  I would check to see if your ammonia is up.  Test your water parameters and make sure things are all where they are suppose to be.  Also do some water changes to get some freshwater to the fish.  After you have done a water change, I would add some medicines to the water.  Look over some of the medicines that are offered through Mardel Inc., Such as Maracide.> I have a black moor his mouth is hurt looks like his lower lip is tore off any connection ? <unless there is some sort of aggressive fish in the tank the two incidents aren't really connected.  Make sure that you have a good filtration system on this tank, goldfish are very dirty fish.  And what it sounds like is that your fish is getting bacterial and fungal infections.  So, start looking at doing more water changes, and possibly adding some medicines ASAP.> I had trouble with the water being cloudy when I first set up the tank. It is ok now. This is the first fish I have had in years. Lost my touch. Could you help please. Thanks, Beverly <The next time you are in the fish store, look around for books dealing with goldfish, There are a few nice ones out there.  Look for one that covers the care of them, tank requirements, and most importantly medical concerns.  I find having a book on hand is a great thing when raising fish. -Magnus>

Albino channel catfish I bought ms jaws about 2 or 3 years ago when she was about 2 to 3 inches long. now, she is about 25 inches long. on her right side of her nostril, she has a bump protruding, and it's red. I'll try to illustrate what this bump looks like. if you look at the bottom of a ice cream cone, picture something like that about a quarter of an inch protruding from the right nostril. is this some kind of "pimple" or cyst, and how do I take care of this?  thank you.  ed <I had a school of 14 inch iridescent sharks and a couple had that similar condition. Not sure what the exact name of it was, but I ended up adding a mixture of small amounts of CopperSafe (just a two day dose) and then did a large water change. Let him rest for a few days then Maracide for 5 days. The Swelling should go down over time, but with this mixture it seemed to help it go away quicker.  If you don't want to use medicines, the simply bumping up the water changes should allow the fishes immune system to help with the cyst.>

Meltdown Hi Crew! <Hi, Tam!> Ok, I Googled your FAQ's and couldn't find this problem. I've got/had a 30 gallon Oceanic cube tank set up with African root growing java moss, java fern, "aquatic fern", crypts, and 2 small swords. It had 4 small discus, a nice school of featherfin rainbows, 3 Congo tetras,  1 Otocinclus, and 3 small loaches. (I've got a 60 gallon for them to move up to.) <So far, so good> I was having a problem with clump algae and skinny discus. <Hmm.... my first guess on the skinny discus would be internal parasites; feeding with medicated food containing Levamisole or Piperazine may help, if you encounter this again.> I started adding Kent's brand garlic extract to their frozen food and I added some Flourish with carbon to the tank to kill the algae. The fish liked the food and the algae died.  All seemed fine. <Okay> The water was clear, pH was 5.5,  nitrites were 0, ammonia was 0.   <Oh my....  Unless your discus are wild, I see no need for such a low pH; this may be much more hazard than it's worth - might even be a contributing factor to the discus' skinniness.  I would also assume that, to have such a low pH, you have *extremely* low KH and GH, yes?> I do small bi-weekly water changes. On an off week I would change the filter once each month.  About one month after starting the garlic and the flourish I changed the filter (Penn Plax Cascade canister for a 70 gallon). I changed all the carbon media and all the floss pads, but didn't disturb the ceramic biomedia that I had in one tray. Within 20 minutes of replacing the canister the fish were dropping like flies.  I stopped the filter, started changing the water  and added a second air stone (the tank has one already). I managed to save 4 featherfin. Every one else died in the 30 min.s after the filter change. <Oh my goodness - how devastating!> I've not had any major problems with this tank before. I am just sick at the carnage.  I'm afraid to add new fish to the tank or to set up my 60 gallon (same brand of filter) until I know what I did. Do you have any idea what caused this? <My only guess is that your tank experienced a 'pH crash' - at such a low pH already, and with what must've been extremely low alkalinity, this might not be too farfetched.  Perhaps, upon removing a great deal of nitrifying bacteria (cleaning the filter), this halted a great deal of the nitrification cycle in its tracks, and the dissolved organics in the unbuffered water just plummeted the pH.  Hmm... you wouldn't have taken the opportunity to test the pH when you noticed the problem, would you?  I know I'd have been more concerned about fixing the fish, myself.> (As of this morning my pH is back down to 5.5 ---it went up during the massive water changes when I was freaking out after the crash, the ammonia is 1 and the nitrite is 3. <I would strongly consider keeping your pH a bit higher - 6.0-6.5, and start keeping tabs on you KH and GH; I'd probably clean the filter every week or two instead of once a month, as well.> Help would be greatly appreciated. <I'm not entirely certain that this is what happened in your tank, but to be honest, I'm at a loss for any other explanation.  I'm so sorry for your loss, Tam, and hope everything goes well for you.  -Sabrina.> Thanks, Tam <Sabrina asked me to look over your situation here as well Tam... I strongly suspect something akin to "pH shock" with this small volume and the complete change of carbon... I like to suggest to folks to only change a small amount of carbon and other chemical filtrants in such settings as yours (small volumes, not much alkaline reserve, sensitive fishes)... I would "hurry up" on upgrading to the 60 gallon system... as you'll find this much more stable and easier to maintain consistent water quality, livestock health. I would use no more than an ounce of carbon per ten gallons of system water... and only switch out half of this at any given interval. Bob Fenner>

Bream?  I have a freshwater bream that was caught out of a pond and has been raised in my 20 gallon aquarium for 29 months.  <Oh my.... That's, well, rather a small tank for the average game fish, and unfortunately, the common name "bream" covers so many fish it's unbelievable.... Do you have any idea what precisely you've got? Got a picture? Or perhaps a rough location (continent, country) to help narrow down what it is?>  He has been doing fine until recently. He has developed red sores, has vertigo and is losing weight. This condition has existed for approx.5 weeks. I have medicated the tank 3 times with two types of medication. I do not remember the name of the first medication but am now using Jungle Brand Fungus Eliminator. I administered the second treatment of Jungle (after a partial water change) last evening. I just cannot seem to hit the right medium to cure him.  <Sounds like a bacterial infection; I'd try treating with Kanamycin (sold by Aquatronics as "Kanacyn") or perhaps Aquatronics' "Spectrogram" (Kanacyn and Nitrofurazone combo). Either of these may help.>  The only other fish in the aquarium is a Plecostomus that is about 9 inches long. I have had him for about 4 to 5 years and he seems to be doing fine.  <Plecos are potential monsters, too - some reaching even up to two feet in length! A larger tank may well be in order....>  I was feeding regular floating pond fish food but stopped because it was clouding the water. I changed to floating cichlid pellets about a year ago. I also occasionally feed him crickets. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  <Well, other than a great need of a (much) larger tank, some things to consider - have you tested your water (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH)? Very likely, the sheer waste output of these fish is more than your biofiltration can handle, and one, more, or all of these values are significantly off, which would make the fish susceptible to illnesses, as you're experiencing. Some large, regular water changes with dechlorinated water may well be in order - and certainly can't hurt, even if everything checks out fine.>  Silly as it may be, I have become quite attached to Cheerio and would hate to lose him.  <There's nothing in the least silly about loving an animal under your care.>  If I knew he could survive and would be better off, I would gladly return him to "the wild".  <Though it might help him, until he's healed, I *strongly* advise against releasing him. If his illness is something contagious, it's possible that it could pose some problems to other fish. Once he's healed up completely, it might not be a bad idea at all. Another option might be to build him an outdoor pond, and explore another exciting branch of fishkeeping :D Hope all goes well, and that he recovers soon. -Sabrina>  Thank You, Deborah R. Hocutt

Angry Goldfish 10/16/03 Hello, <Hi. Pufferpunk here>    My son recently acquired a 2.5 gallon aquarium with a Whisper brand filter.   He had 3 goldfish...a black moor, a small fantail goldfish and a larger black, white and orange colored goldfish.    <Way too small a tank for even one goldfish!> All cohabitated fine with the larger fish being a little aggressive at feeding.  The black moor has since died from ich but the others have been treated and are doing well.  Suddenly however the small fantail has chased, and nipped constantly at the larger goldfish to the point where my son has had to use a separation screen to protect the larger one.  The small fantail now hangs by the partition following the other ones every move.  What is going on here? <Goldfish are very messy fish, that urinate & defecate much more than other fish.  This requires a lot of water to dilute the toxins of ammonia & nitrites caused by all this waste.  For small goldfish (<2") at least 10g/fish is necessary.  Goldfish can grow quite large & normal lifespan is 20+ years if cared for properly.  larger goldfish require housing of at least 20-30g/fish.  I have found great success in keeping goldfish healthy by changing 80-90% of their water weekly, to remove the ammonia built up in their water.  You also need to clean the gravel at the same time.  There is an excellent article titled, "Are Goldfish Really for Beginners?" in the December 2003 issue of Aquarium Fish magazine.  I highly suggest you & your son read it.  You should be able to pick it up at your local fish store.  I think w/more room the aggression problems will be solved.>      Thanks, Debbie <Your welcome--Pufferpunk>

Trying to save lives.... Hi there.   <Hello.  Let me first say that reading this without having the opportunity to strangle the prior owners of these fish was exceedingly difficult.  My heart goes out to you - and I hope I can help you through this, though it's going to be difficult (uh, obviously more so for you than me).> My boyfriend and I have a painting & renovation company.  This job we're on now is in an empty high class condo, gutting it and fixing it up for the new tenant.  One part is removing the 2 fish tanks.  They just wanted us to dump the whole lot and basically be murderers.   <An all-too-common occurrence....  So many people view fish as nothing more than pretty furniture.> We are not ethically ok with killing so we decided to keep the fish ourselves and try to keep them happy, we both wanted to get ourselves an aquarium eventually, but hadn't done any homework yet. <A very noble act....  But as the rest of your email shows, not a simple task to take on, especially without prior knowledge....> So here is the chain of events... the 2 tanks were both approx 50-60 gal.  Both tanks had approx 25-30 fish of different shapes sizes and species...  The biggest were 2 goldfish (I think) that were 5-6 inches long and 1 silver shark-like looking thing that was 6-7 inches long. Gorgeous. (they died *sob*). When we got there (approx 2 weeks after last tenants left) various different people had been feeding them, with a paper of dates written of when (approx 2-3 days in between feedings). The filter system had been turned off - I don't know when and didn't know how to turn it back on. <Well, I know it's not much consolation, but it sounds like the cards were really stacked against you to begin with.  Overstocked tanks, no filtration....> The supplies that were present are: Hagen freshwater ph low range test kit (6.0-7.6) tetra color bits tropical granules food for large fish Wardley total goldfish gourmet flake blend Tetra fin staple food for all goldfish Nutrafin max complete micro granules for small tropical fish a thermometer with the "ok" range highlighted between 21-26 Celsius <Not a whole lot to start out with....  better than nothing, though.> At the end of our work day when the fish absolutely had to be moved we bought 2 large plastic Rubbermaid containers, rinsed thoroughly with tap water (no chemical cleaners - common sense tells me fish don't like being poisoned) <Excellent.> and netted each fish and put them in the containers. Each is holding approx 10 gal. (I know! It's horrible! and I feel awful! But with such short notice, no funds and working 15 hour days it's the best we could do.) We kept the 2 tanks of fish separate and with who they were already with. We used the water that they were already in, but the filter was this huge exterior thing, hooked into the condo's pluming and also attached to this massive hydroponics set-up for really expensive tropical plants (which we also salvaged) and the like... and the tanks were built in to this huge structure. <Hmm....> The whole thing was liquid-nailed together so we couldn't keep the tanks or the filter - it would be impossible to get everything apart undamaged.  By this time it was 1am and no store would be open so we just brought them home.  We knew we needed filters, proper bigger tanks etc. so we crossed our fingers and went to sleep hoping the poor things haven't been put through so much trauma that they would all just drop dead before we could repair the damage of neglect.  So the next morning we got up early and went straight to the fish store and got 2 Hagen jr. bottom filters for up to 10 gal. & 2 elite 799 air pumps, and cotton and charcoal for the filters that the guy said is what is used in them. <This will help, but is certainly nowhere near enough filtration to handle 25-30 fish packed into a 10g Rubbermaid....  I know you probably understand that, though....> He assembled them for us, we brought them home, open the tanks and SOB! dead fish everywhere!  I almost cried.   <Let me explain a little bit what's going on, and why they died.  Probably what took out this round of fish was lack of oxygenation - so many fish in such a tiny space without circulation in the water won't have enough oxygen to go around.  Now, it probably also happened due to ammonia....  The fish naturally produce waste, like any other living thing.  The fish that die create even more ammonia as they decompose....  The ammonia from the fish will build up in an unestablished tank (even a make-shift Rubbermaid) and burn the gills and skin of the living fish.  In an established tank, there are bacteria that develop to help us with this - they take the ammonia and turn it into nitrite (both of which are very toxic to fish), and the nitrite feeds another batch of bacteria, which turns the nitrite into virtually harmless nitrate.  Until all this bacteria has developed, the ammonia will continue building up and burning the fish.  In a barren Rubbermaid, the bacteria can't really grow.  The only way to reduce it is through water changes every day, or even more often - new water must be made safe with a dechlorinator and match the temperature in the fishtank.  Then every day, test the water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH (more on this, later).  There are chemical concoctions (like AmmoLock and Amquel) that you can add that will neutralize ammonia, but these should only be used if water changes can't keep up with the ammonia, or if for some reason water changes can't be done (ex., when medicating); these concoctions will cause misleading readings on ammonia tests.> We removed the dead fish, put in the filters, turned the pumps on, fed them a little of everything and watched how much they ate in 4 min.s.... used the ph tester to see the results very blue. 7.6 or else off the chart.... didn't add anything though.... nothing here to add. <Well, depending on the fish, 7.6 isn't that bad - but if it's significantly higher, it might be an issue.  Probably the pH has gone up (gotten more alkaline, or 'basic') due to ammonia buildup.> And then knowing that all of this was completely inadequate for these poor creatures, hoping they could survive temporarily in these horrible torture-chamber like conditions for the time being - we guiltily abandoned them and headed off to work 3 hours late. <I am amazed by your dedication and perseverance.> On our lunch hour we bought Nutrafin aqua plus tap water conditioner, Nutrafin cycle, and Hagen ph adjust down. We read all the instructions and the entire booklet the fish store guy gave us "Hagen's basic aquarium guide". Then went back to work late again (and hungry). We got home around 11pm, removed a couple more dead fish, < :(  > changed the already disgustingly-filthy filters, <I know it sounds gross - but leave the filter cotton in; as it gets gunked up, it'll develop that bacteria as above.  Water changes are still urgent, though.> added a capful of cycle to each bin, and 10 drops of ph adjust down (1 drop per gal as instructions read) to each bin, <And what does the pH read at now?> fed them again and went to bed. *sigh* <Quite a day.> Which brings us to now.  2 fish have jumped out and died (suicide - I don't blame them). they're 3rd day in these bins. They've been fed twice a day. <I'd cut down on feeding, as feeding increases waste output, which increases ammonia....> We kept a couple of small plants in each bin so the little guys can hide. I've been removing the dead leaves. <Since the plants are dying, I'd remove them entirely and give the fish some (new, clean) terra cotta flowerpots and/or (new, clean) PVC pieces and joints to hide in.  The decaying plants will add to the ammonia problem.> The filters will need to be changed again before the week is out. <As above - let 'em build up some gunk.> I think all we'll be able to afford is 1 30 gal. tank (hopefully 40 gal.) <40g 'breeder' tanks are great.  My favorite for small-ish tanks, great size, shape....> with a lighted canopy, <And a stand?  Or are you building one?  Tanks weigh a lot....> and the tests kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, KH etc.... <Yes, immediately.  The absolutely necessary ones are ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.  You might want a high-range pH test kit, if your water's pretty high, or just have the fish store test a sample, then go from there with the one you've got.> We'll also get the proper sized pump & filter for whatever size tank we get. but everyone is gonna have to be together in one tank. <I'd recommend a Penguin 330 or an Emperor 400 - both by Marineland, both are excellent pieces of equipment.> I know they aren't gonna be happy with that or the small size of the tank - <Well....  You should really find out what the fishes are, a good book with lots of pictures will help, perhaps fish store folks will help - and then find out who's really compatible with whom - already, I know you have some incompatible fish from the comment about goldfish - goldfish should not be kept in tanks with tropical fish.  Then, once you've figured that out, try to realistically figure out what you can keep in that 30-40g tank - anything too overboard will result in dead fish, no escaping that.  This part, you won't like....  After you've figured out what you can realistically keep, find a good, *reliable* fish store (non-chain store, probably; one that's dedicated to fish), and trade in the remaining fish that you won't be able to house for equipment, or discounts on equipment.  A good store should be willing to help out at least this far.> We aren't going to replace any of the deaths or add any new plants. <Once the tank's set up, Plants Are Good - perhaps plastic plants will be your best bet, at this point; and the aforementioned flowerpots and/or PVC will be a boon, too.  The fish need to be able to hide to feel safe.> After a month or 2 in the new tank we might add a small plant or 2, but no changes to anything else. <Well, they'll need some kind of cover in there; it'll seriously reduce stress.> We'll keep buying the same kind of food that was already there when it runs out. <This might also be good to change, depending on the fish.  Again, a good fish store may help you learn on this.> I'm keeping an eye on the temperature. <Good.  Without knowing what exactly you've got, somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit will be good.  But....  are there heaters in the Rubbermaid tubs?  If not, just try to keep your room temperature warm enough to keep 'em going.> my questions: What specific test kits should I buy? <As above, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate.> What levels should everything be at? <Ammonia: Zero.  Nitrite: Zero.  Nitrate: Preferably close to Zero - up to 30ppm isn't awful, though.  pH is *very* dependant upon what fish you have.  It is imperative you find out what you've got.> What specific solutions should I buy to keep those tests at the right level? <Water changes are your greatest tool, right now.  If ammonia or nitrite read at above zero, do water changes.  I believe you already mentioned a water conditioner - check to see that it treats for chlorine and chloramine.  Another good thing would be Marineland's Bio-Spira; if you can't find it, keep using the Cycle.> We know not to keep the tank by a window, heater or high traffic area.  And until we get the tank, should I keep the lids on the bins so they don't jump out while we're at work and sleeping? if I do they will be in complete darkness. <Complete darkness is okay, even helpful, during this time of stress for the fish.  Just keep the lids cracked open for air.> They have no gravel in the bins. Is gravel necessary in the tanks? <Mm, no, not while they're in the Rubbermaid.  Just water changes....> What about those flat marble looking clear glass stones instead? <No.  Gravel (pea-sized or smaller) is rather important.> Is there anything else I should know that I haven't mentioned? <Mostly, please, I know it's tough, but you really must reduce the number of fish in those bins....  A good fish store should take some off your hands.> p.s. I'm reading all the material that I can get my hands on. <I'd like to recommend the book "Setting Up a Freshwater Aquarium:  An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet" by Gregory Skomal.  It's pretty basic, but should really give you an understanding of what's going on and what needs to be done.  Also, please, please, come join us at the WetWebMedia's forum, http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ ; we'd be glad to help you in this learning process, and in identifying what fish you've got, and how to care for them.  Also, do make use of the WetWebMedia freshwater articles and FAQs - there's SO much information here....  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm > This is how much I know after 3 days of being thrown into this. are we doing ok?   <I think you'll be okay after you reduce the amount of fish, and do some serious water changes; I think you can get through this.  Ordinarily, my answer would be to get rid of all the fish at the local fish store and let them find homes for them, but it seems to me you have the drive and desire to get through this.  The only way to do it, though, is to get the fish load down, and do lots of water changes.  If all of this is too overwhelming, please do consider taking the fish in, though; it would not be bad of you, and it would be helping the fish, and keeping you sane.  If you feel like this is too much right now, it would be in your best interest, and good for the fish, to let a fish store take them.> I feel awful. like we haven't done anything right.  I feel like I've done little less than throw drain-o into their water. Horrible and sadistic conditions. <Well, hopefully, a little more knowledge will make them feel better, and you too - as I said, I think you're capable of getting through this.> I want to cry for them. <Me, too.  One other crewmember commented that she wished she could be there and help you, and another said it sounded like a Greek tragedy.> Please help.  How could someone just abandon all these lives?! <That I can't answer, I'm afraid.  It really hurts, doesn't it?> Feel free to post this on your faq site (minus the email address of course),   <Will be on the daily FAQ page tomorrow, then filed into appropriate category.> if you do please send me the link. < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs.htm > Best regards,  Sonya   

Eye damage I looked through most of the questions about swollen eyes and couldn't find one that described this. I am sorry if this is a repeat. I haven't been able to find anything. <Well, we'll sure try to help out....  Sabrina here on this one> We recently "saved" a 6" Red Devil from a pet store.  This fish was obviously returned to the pet store and is very timid and beat up.   <Hopefully he'll recover so he can live up to his name....> Currently we have him in a 20 gal quarantine. <Excellent!> The problem is, he had a white spot on the outer membrane of his eye. It looked very much like ich. The eye and eye socket do not appear swollen. Just the membrane. I'm sure I'm not explaining this correctly, but I am not sure of the actual names. <I *think* I get what you're saying.> The swelling receded for a couple of days, but tonight it came back with a vengeance. It looks like it could burst.  Any ideas? <Well Lisa, my best guess is that the eye was injured, somehow; perhaps the white spot was a parasite like ich or something (so keep a watch for more!) and caused damage, or perhaps it was just damaged tissue from the injury.  Make sure there are no sharp things in the QT for him to scratch against (this includes plastic plants); plain terra cotta flowerpots or PVC pipes will provide cover for him without giving him something to cause further damage to his undoubtedly uncomfortable eye (which he probably wants to scratch).  I'd recommend treating with a medicated food (perhaps with tetracycline) to prevent bacterial infection as the eye (hopefully) heals; I recommend using medicated food mostly because it will be easy to discontinue use if you end up having to treat for ich....  I'm not entirely certain that the antibiotic will help to fix his eye problem, but hopefully, it will help.  Wishing your little devil a swift recovery,  -Sabrina> Thanks Lisa

Eye Damage Two Thanks Sabrina <Sure thing.> I should of let you know that we had already tried treating him for ich as he showed the signs. He had discoloration from it and I thought that was what the spot might be. I will try some medicated food and some smoother tank items to keep him from scratching. Thanks sooooo much. <You bet.  Hope everything goes well.  -Sabrina> Lisa

- Skinny Disease? - I just lost one of my clown loaches... had 2, he got real skinny within 2-3 days... he just stayed on the bottom... would come up and try to eat but looked like he did not get much. Someone said it might be "skinny disease" what is this... <Caused by bacteria.> how do you treat it... <Antibiotics - erythromycin in the food.> And how do you prevent it. <Keep on top of water quality issues - most often, disease susceptibility is directly related to water quality.> Had added a dwarf Gourami recently but had been QT'ed for 3 weeks... and looked fine. Please help... don't want to loose anymore clowns. <Please tell more about your husbandry - water change regimen, what you feed, water parameters, etc.> Thanks in advance, Monica <Cheers, J -- >

Freshwater Fish are Lethargic <Hi! Ananda here today...> I've recently put a 55 Watt pink/white light onto my 29 gallon tank to start putting plants it. I gradually put the light on for a few hours a day for the first week, and then after that, kept it on 12 hours a day. <I think you may have increased the lighting period too quickly, and/or with too much of a jump from the initial lighting period.> They problem, is that all of my fish are hanging out on the bottom of the tank. They'll swim up to the top for food, and up to me when I approach the tank, but otherwise, they're all being lazy. No one appears to be sick, so I was wondering if the lights may be a bother to them since they were used to a 15 watt PowerGlo. <Yowsa, that's a big change in lighting... have you checked for other changes in your tank? Ammonia/nitrites/nitrates/pH?> If not, so, what should I do? If not, why might they all be like that? (It's close to a water change, but they've never done this before and I've had them for about 1 1/2 years. Thank you! <Check the water quality, do the water change, and cut back on the lighting a bit. See if that helps, and write back if it doesn't... --Ananda>

Help!!! I have a 37 gal tall tank w/ 4 tiger barbs, 4 rosy barbs and two clown loaches. Up until Monday I also had a Gold Nugget Pleco and a Clown Pleco. I have a 330 BioWheel filter and do 30 % water changes once a month (I was doing them every two weeks, but the fish store told me to cut down to once a month). <Water changes every two weeks is just fine, but I'd cut down to, say, 15-20% each time.  More frequent smaller water changes are far better than less frequent, large ones.> My water quality is excellent.. no ammonia. Minimal nitrate no nitrite. The only problem is high ph which I am trying to bring down with Tetra Easy Balance. <How high?  What's the pH of your tap water?  Instead of using chemical means to lower your pH (if it truly is necessary), please consider filtering with peat and/or adding bogwood to your tank; this will stain the water a rich yellowy brown (like weak tea, kinda), but I've heard that the stain can be removed by filtering with carbon.  I don't know that from experience, though, as I *want* that tea color.  You can add peat (I use Sunshine brand from the garden store) to the baskets in the back of your Penguin 330 if you choose to.> It has been high since I got the tank so when I add a new fish, I do acclimate them to the ph conditions. This tank has been set up for about a year and a half. I recently had a Dwarf Severum Cichlid that got a little too territorial (lost about 6 tiger barbs to her!!) and I gave her to a friend. <Mm, good.  I don't think there really is a such thing as a 'dwarf' Severum....  Probably just a young one sold as a 'dwarf'.  I've seen such immoral practices with angelfish, even Oscars.> I went out of town for a week and left my husband in charge of both my aquariums. When I left, I did a thorough check of all fish. All were happy, active and eating w/ no sign of disease. I come back Monday and to my dismay, my Gold Nugget and Clown Pleco are dead (and they just happen to be my 2 most expensive fish)!! Also had one very tiny tiger barb that died later that night I'm assuming from the 2 fish being dead in my aquarium for God knows how long as my husband had not noticed them. Both of the Pleco's had their intestines missing (probably from being tasty snacks once they died). Do you have any idea what could have killed them? I noticed no territory disputes, just everyone doing their thing eating and swimming. <Well, please understand that these two Plecos require a lot of meaty foods in their diet; they really aren't algae eaters.> I usually feed every other day. I feed a variety depending on the day, BioGold, frozen bloodworms, pro formula one, algae wafers, etc. <Specifically, what got to the Plecos?  If only algae wafers, it may be that they were malnourished.  Other possibilities are that the decreased amount of water changes may have resulted in water quality fluctuations, or perhaps changing pH was the culprit (it's much better to have a stable pH, even if a bit too high, than to have it constantly in flux.)  Also, it could be that these nocturnal animals were duking it out behind your back; Plecos can sometimes be territorial.  If one won, and the other died, that'd make an ammonia spike, which may have killed the other Plec.  Undoubtedly water quality issues from the two dead Plecos were what killed the barb.> My husband claims to have done the same thing. To be on the safe side, I have been treating the tank w/ Melafix and Maracyn (I think that's the name, it's the all encompassing medicine w/malachite green in it) <I'd stop with the treatment right away, especially considering how extremely sensitive clown loaches are.  Major risk there with irritating these scaleless fish.> I recently put some new plant bulbs in their as well. I am trying to do a planted tank, but my fish tend to eat them. <Medicating a plant tank will probably do in the plants, too.  I'd get some carbon in there to pull out the meds, and do a water change.  If the other fish aren't showing any signs of anything, it's probably best not to medicate at this point.> Do you think there may have been too much change in the tank at once and they just stressed out on me? <Could be.  I'd especially wonder if the less frequent water changes were playing a part.> I use stress coat liberally any time I do anything to the tank. Anyway, sorry for the long note, but that's the only way I know how to write them!! <Please, no apologies here.  The more detailed, the better we can help you.> I know the tank is a little crowded, <I disagree.  Sounds good.  I'd think you could repopulate your barbs quite safely without overdoing it.> but I do compensate for that by over-filtering, which the gold nugget loved as he would hang out on the filter to catch all the goodies going in. I had both of them for about 2 months. The gold nugget was a special order from my pet store. <I'm quite sorry you lost him/her.  Beautiful fish, they are.  If you choose to try one again, try just one Plec; two very different Plecos like you had should've gotten along, but there's always the chance that they'll be aggressive to one another.  Good luck to you, -Sabrina>

Help! Thank you very much. <Any time.> I checked my tank last night when I got home and sure enough,, Major ammonia spike. (between stress and unsafe level according to my testing kit).   <Sounds like one of those 'ammonia indicator' thingies?  I've heard that those can be inaccurate, but haven't used them myself.  I'd recommend to get liquid reagent test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.> I hadn't tested the water levels before I left and I had found another dead barb that had been a victim of Chiclet the Severum that I was not aware was whacked (found it pretty much after I got home from taking her to her new tank). So I have a feeling the ammonia may have been high when I left. Did about a 30 % water change and put fresh ammo carb in the media basket.   <Plan on some more water changes, if necessary.> Found I had run out of filters, so I'll replace that this weekend.  I was definitely worried about bothering the clown loaches w/ all the medicine and one of my plants didn't look so great.  My ph is typically 8.0-8.2.   <Yeah, that's worth bringing down.  If you don't mind the stain, get some peat.> I think I will get a common Pleco for about the next 3-4 months to make sure everything is stable as I am considering using distilled water to make my water changes from now on. (do you think that is a good idea?) <Not really, to tell you the truth;  the Plecos sold as 'common' Plecos get, well, monstrous, given the opportunity.  Some reach a good two feet; all 'common' Plecos are destined to be well over a foot, in any case.  Best to just keep testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, and when all is stable and healthy, just get the Plec you want.> Tested my tap water last night and the ph is 8.4! Also, it had some trace nitrates as well. <Blah.  Might want to start preparing your water in a large container (Rubbermaid trash can works great) with a bunch of peat in it to bring the pH down (again, if you don't mind the stain).> Once I know all is well, I will be ordering another gold nugget.  I have a huge driftwood centerpiece (is that the same as bogwood?)   <Yup.> It discolors the water, but only very slightly. Most of the time my water is pretty crystal clear.  Oh and I was wrong on the filter. It's 240 (or is it 260?) w/ one filter and basket and bio wheel.  The 330 is on the 20 gal tank. (there's a whole other story as to why that one is so over-filtered, but once again thanks to my husband and bad advice from a LFS I don't go to anymore) <heh, okay> That tank is being upgraded to a 55 gal at the end of October.  I will eventually be putting a 330 on the 37 gal as well. <Wonderful.  Sounds like you've got a good plan going, glad to hear it.  -Sabrina>

Kribensis with swim Bladder Disorder I have a female Kribensis that appears to have developed swim bladder disorder.  She is staying on the bottom of the tank and she has all of the symptoms of swim bladder Disorder. <What symptoms is she exhibiting.> I had a very busy schedule that I did not take care of my fish like I regularly do.  Unfortunately my ph level dropped to 6. instead of 7. <A slow change is not as bad as a rapid swing in PH.> I did a 1/2 of a water change and noticed that the female Kribensis was gasping at the bottom of the tank.  I have not seen anything like this in my tank before and all of the other fish are fine.  I have a 56 gallon tank with a variety of fish.  What is the best way to treat this?  I have read the pea method is useful with Bettas.  Would this also maybe work with the Kribensis?  How do I know that I am not too late.  (has had for 4 days) <I am not convinced that it is a swim bladder problem, the lethargy and labored breeding sound like a problem with the water quality.  Have you tested your water for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate?  Water changes will fix water quality issues and hopefully turn the fish around.  Let us know what symptoms she is exhibiting, maybe we can come up with a more specific fix.  Also, try searching on WetWebMedia.com for swim bladder, I am sure you will find a ton of information.  Best Regards, Gage>

Lots of fish, lots of fish waste, and lots of algae - continued Ok, so how many fish should I remove to lighten the bioload and which ones? Thank you! <Well, Thomas, this is really the part that I don't like to be too instructing on.  I know very well how dear our fish can be to us, and suggesting to remove something is never a comfortable issue.  First off, do please double check your nitrate test against another, see if yours is off; I'd really expect it to be more than zero.  So let's recap, here; you have: 8 Leopard Danios, 2 German Rams, 2 Bolivian Rams, 3 Dwarf Gouramis, 2 Angelfish, 2 American Flag fish, 4 Lyre tail Swords, 4 Platies, 4 White Clouds, 6 Neon Tetras, 2 Albino Plecos, and 6 algae eating shrimp in a  58 gallon tank.  My first qualm is with the angelfish in with Neons and white clouds, which will eventually be lunch for the angels, as may the Danios, eventually.  Also, a pair of angels will be likely to try to breed eventually, and will kick the butts of your other fish when they do.  Another point is that Platies and swordtails will breed and make tons of little ones for you to deal with (or allow the other fish to eat).  It's really for you to decide what stays and what goes, and depending on what you choose to let go, the number of fish will be different.  Whatever route you take, I'd recommend keeping the Plecos, the shrimp, and the Flagfish, who will hopefully help with the algae.  Again, let me reiterate that I hate telling you to remove some of your fish - I know how attached we can get.  Cutting down on feeding and using canister filtration instead of UGF will also help (this last bit with nitrates and plants in mind).  Wishing you and your tank well,  -Sabrina>

Really Bad Fish = Frayed Fins For Ardy >My fish Ardy seems to have been getting his tail eaten by the other fish for the last 2 days.  His tail looks like a fan now.  He had white stuff on his tail yesterday but today his tail is mostly splitting.  Please help I love him and would be sad if I lost him!  He also doesn't seem to be eating.  He's really skinny.  Please help ASAP.  We're putting him in a different tank a soon as we can get water.  HELP!  Ashley    >>Definitely do that, but I'm afraid the other fish are picking on Ardy because they know he's not well.  Not knowing anything at all about Ardy or his tankmates, I can only encourage you to do this ASAP.  If he's got a fungus (cottony looking white stuff) then you'll need some fungus medication.  You may also need an antibiotic, I would recommend Spectrogram.  Sorry I can't help more!  Marina

FW Lymphocystis? Sabrina - I will try sending these one at a time, Firemouth first, right now. If this doesn't work, I will put them in a pdf file and send that to you. <Bill, they got to me just fine, thanks - and it does indeed look like Lymphocystis.  As said earlier, not much to be done except maintain excellent water quality and possibly manually removing the lumps.  Do be right on top of water changes, keep pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate where it should be.  -Sabrina> Thanks,  Bill

Lymphocystis again Thank you, Sabrina - As it happens, the lumps on the Severum have shrunk dramatically and if one did not know they had been there, one would probably not notice them at all. <Excellent!> As for the affliction surrounding the dorsal fin of the Firemouth, the crud might be looking a little better but the fin itself looks awful - I think a couple of spines may even be gone from it. <Darn....  Do keep on top of water quality.  It may be a good idea to treat with something to prevent secondary bacterial infection.> But there has been no change in the behavior of the Firemouth - it is as feisty and voracious as ever. I went back to the fish store today and a different expert was there and she recommended Spectrogram, so I purchased enough to treat the 55. <A good med - Kanamycin sulfate and Nitrofurazone combination.  Will definitely kick a lot of nasties that might set in (like fin rot) after/while the Lympho clears up.> However, on Saturday I leave for a five day trip and my fish will once again be under the care of my wife, so, based on what you say, perhaps I will just do another good water change before I go and hold off on the Spectrogram until I get back.  Bill <Most important is that water quality.  I cannot stress how important it is.  Do the water change, by all means, and depending on the Firemouth's condition and whether your wife can handle it, you may want for her to go ahead and treat while you're gone.  -Sabrina>

Lymphocystis again, again Good advice! I don't know what I'd do without you and the other members of your crew who have helped me out. By the way, I have NPR's All Things Considered on the radio and they just had a story stating that fish are smart, and what a surprise that is. They mentioned cichlids in  particular. That, of course, has been obvious to me since not long after I set up these tanks. <Ah.  This reminds me of the British study of whether fish feel pain.  Their conclusion (which was yes, fish do feel pain), most certainly didn't surprise any aquarists I know.  Though, smart is most certainly a relative term - but I do think mine give me a run for my money from time to time ;)  -Sabrina> Bill

Motoro ray with cloudy eyes Hello, I am first time user of your service and fairly confident in my abilities as an aquarist, but happened to be reading your section on stingrays and thought maybe you could help me in determining whether a film (very light) over my Motoro rays eyes could be dangerous.... this condition just appeared today and to most people would not even be noticeable... <Anything that deviates from the norm is cause for concern, or at least research.> I pay very close attention to my fish and as he is one the more expensive fish I am always concerned about his safety... <Understood!  And what an incredible animal - one of my favorites.> He is housed in a 100gal tank with a wet dry and a magnum 330 canister he has been in there for about two years and was treated twice for ich due to bad feeder stock that didn't seem to have it when they were introduced into the tank... <Ugh....  Do try to find suitable foods aside from 'feeder' fish - all too often illnesses do move from feeders to the fed - as you have experienced.  This is often the death of large predatory fish.  Either breed your feeders yourself so you know they're safe, or find suitable alternatives (of which there are many).> Tankmates are an albino Oscar that was introduced very small and has never picked on him a fire eel and a small (new) Bala shark that exhibits no signs of illness <This really is a bit much bioload IMO - and not quite the greatest mix of species, at least for the ray, which does best in a pH of lower than 6.0, to even as low as 5.0, really, too low for the other species you have.  Rays really do best in species-only tanks, or at least with fish that tolerate or thrive in such low pH as well.> the water quality is good and the second treatment for ich will be finished in 2 days... neither time he was treated for ich did he actually show signs but it was preventive.... <May I asked what med you used?  Rays are scaleless, sensitive fish, and many/most meds are pretty harsh on them.  If you never saw ich in the tank, I don't believe it should have been necessary to treat for it.  Cloudy/filmy eyes are usually the result of some water parameter being out of whack - specifically, what are your pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate readings?  Extremely sensitive animals such as these rays will show effects of environmental factors being out of whack at even extremely low levels.  A water change is probably the very best remedy available for you.> as far as Popeye I honestly don't know of that ever affecting a ray but I suppose its possible... I will be paying very close attention to him for the next few days and if there is any information you may have for me it would be greatly appreciated... as I'm sure you well know many common fish medications can harmful to rays and if he does have Popeye do you think a broad spectrum like maracyn2 would be safe for him <I seriously doubt that you're dealing with Popeye.  Truly, cloudy eyes usually clear up after a good water change or two.  I'm guessing it might be related to a nitrate problem, in this case, as you already mentioned feeder fish and have large predators in the tank.  Check your water, fix if necessary.  -Sabrina> Thank you.

- Oscar Problems - Sorry, I may have sent this e-mail already, but I wasn't sure if my mailbox was set up correctly... I have an Oscar that has been sick for about 2 weeks now. I think that I have the same problem as Lisa's e-mail that was posted, "Bloated Oscar cichlid - Epsom salt 7/13/03" The conversation goes... "The roundness is huge and has dropped even lower and now there is a clear bubble looking (about 1 1/2") protruding around the anal area.   <hmmm... prolapsed rectum?> It appears to be from outer tissue, not internal.  I am clueless!!!   <I cannot explain it if external... although I wonder if it isn't internal after all>" By looking at the attached photos, do you think that my fish has the same disease? (All other symptoms are similar to what she had posted) I cannot find anything else on the internet. <Well, it's not really a disease but a condition brought on by the foods you have been feeding, and yes it does appear to be the same thing. Do try the Epsom salts and if possible isolate the fish so no one else can pick at it.> Thanks! -Mia <Cheers, J -- >

Freshwater Environmental Disease?? Hi guys. <Hi, Lindy, Sabrina here today> I've asked advice before from your fabulous crew and am always thankful for your input. <Glad to hear it!> Problem #1: I have a 25 gallon tank that has a reoccurring problem. Everything I put in it dies. This has been going on for months.  I put in healthy fish (angels and cribs), they become listless, sluggish, heavy breathing, not eating, occasionally get the "shimmies", then eventually go up to the top where they soon die. There are no marks, spots, mucus, or irregularities on the fish of any kind. It's almost as though they are suffocating, but I have an air stone in then tank to help oxygenate, plus lots of live plants. <Sounds possibly like gill flukes?> I test my water regularly and it is always perfect: pH neutral, nitrite zero, ammonia zero. I even took the water in to LFS to verify this. I also took in one of the dead angels for a scraping under the microscope--no parasites showed up. <Did they (or you) happen to take a good look at the gills of the fish?  Were they gray or pink?> At this point, LFS can offer me no advice whatsoever (they assume I must be under a curse or that I'm a total moron). The only survivor is a clown pleco. I've had this tank up and running for about ten months and its neighbor ten gallon tank (which I treat with the same water, same EVERYTHING) is doing great. I was at a loss for a while on what to do, so I let it sit there unstocked (except for the pleco) for a couple months during which time I did small, regular water changes and stocked it full with plants, kept up with Cycle applications, hoping the system would just balance itself out(?) I didn't know what else to do! So, I tried some new angels and they came down with all the same symptoms. I don't even know how to begin treating with some type on antibiotic because I have no idea what the problem is, or if it even is a disease. Could it be lead poisoning? Some other type of poisoning? As far as I know (and I've been into fish tanks for the past ten years!) I'm doing everything right. Why can't I keep anything alive? I'll just cry if you tell me to break it all down and disinfect. Any alternative suggestions would be greatly appreciated! <Oh, don't cry!  Hopefully you can avoid having to break it down.  First off, I'd suggest checking out a new source for your fish - it could be the fish store or wholesaler that's the problem, and the fish are sick to begin with, just not showing it right away.  Let the tank run without new fish for a month before trying again - and keep an eye on that Plec, I almost wonder if he's harboring something that the other fish are catching from him?  Check to see if his breathing is rapid, or if anything else is amiss.> Problem #2: Much less severe problem. In the healthy neighboring tank, I seem to have an aphid infestation on the floating Salvinia on the top. The fish won't eat them. Is there any way to get rid of them?  Thanks!  Lindy <Well, if you've got room for dwarf or pygmy Gourami, they should relish the bugs.  Otherwise, you may end up having to spray 'em into the water and scooping 'em out with a brine shrimp net.  Also, if there's any way you could get the Salvinia to stay completely submerged for a day or so (perhaps with a weighted-down net?) you should be able to wipe any remaining aphids from the glass.  This would all prevent having to use anything harmful chemical-wise in your tank.>

Sick Goldfish with Odd Behavior >I hope I am addressing my question to the correct place. >>We hope so, too. ;)  Marina today. >I think my goldfish has some sort of disease, but the symptoms don't exactly match anything that I've found in my many hours of searching the web.  Ok,  the fish is young--about 1 year old.  It was a fairly pale orange and seemingly healthy and active.   Then I noticed that only his head was turning a milky white color.  The white color is becoming whiter by the day.  It spends most of it's time down on the bottom corner of the tank pushing itself between the side and the air tube like it's trying to swim right through the glass.   >>This is very odd... >It has done this so much, it is wearing the scales off of that side that it is rubbing.  Its respiration is also faster than the other two goldfish that are in the tank with it.  The other two fish are perfectly healthy, active, and hungry.  The sick fish is not eating and it kinda looks like it cannot open its mouth.  About 1 week ago,  I tried separating the sick fish and treating it with salt.  This did not help---I put it back in the main tank. The sick fish is beginning to look emaciated in the head area.   The rest of it's body and fins look fine. >>Decidedly strange. >Do you have any ideas?    Thank you very much for any help you may be able to give me.     Jody Louis >>This is SO odd that I'm putting my money on a parasitic infection.  I would suggest putting it in a separate system and treating with Hexamit, see if that garners any results.  This sounds like NOTHING I have ever encountered, though, so I am sort of shooting in the dark.  I think we can easily rule out the more common diseases; ich, furunculosis/ulcers, or the usual internal parasites that tend to lodge in the gut.  This is why I'm suggesting the Hexamit first.  If anyone else on the crew has any ideas and reads this, PLEASE chime in!  Sorry to hear of this, Jody, and let's hope this treatment works.  Marina

Sick Goldfish, Part Deux -- it Didn't Make it >Thanks for getting back to me! My fish already died before I got your email, but I appreciate your response.   >>Very sorry to hear it.  It did seem as though it was in pretty bad shape. >Just in case you want to know what happened to the fish, right after I emailed you, I put the sick fish in a different bowl (I don't have another tank for my fish).  All the pet stores in my town close at 5:00, and the people at Wal-Mart are so stupid it would've been a waste of my time. >><nod> >So the next day I came home on my lunch break, and the white spot turned red, so I figured it was probably an infection, but I'd take to a pet store as soon as I got off of work.   >>You are correct in your figuring. >It was still swimming fine so I figured it'd be okay to wait until then.  Well when I came home from work the fish was laying on the side that wasn't bloated.  It would still swim, but completely on its side. It was very strange to see. So I took him in the pet store, and the guy there was getting ready to leave, but he looked at it as he was walking out the door and said he had swimmer's bladder then left. He was very rude. I still don't know if that's right because he barely even looked at the fish and I didn't get to tell him everything that was wrong with it.   >>Sounds like he couldn't be bothered (the English have a term I like better "couldn't be arsed"), and probably COULDN'T have helped you had he even had the time.  Talk about service, eh? >He died about 6 last night, but at least the other fish aren't sick. They're still doing fine.   So if you have time, email me with your thoughts, cuz I'm curious if you think it was swimmer's bladder or not.  Thanks again! >>Well, there's certainly a possibility that the swim bladder was affected, this is NOT at all uncommon with goldies, especially the breeds with those shortened, fat little bodies.  However, it by no means has to be a fatal disorder, and it is also not *always* an infection.  So, yes, the fish had an infection, this much we can be fairly certain of.  Chances are his swim bladder was indeed affected, as well as many of his internal organs (as evidenced by the bloated side).  So, while the other animals appear fine, if it were my tank, I would take some precautions and (unless you have live plants) make use of non-iodized salt (ratio of 1tsp/gallon) for a few weeks.  I would also have some Spectrogram on hand (I happen to like this broad spectrum antibiotic), as well as any Nitrofurazone product.  Goldfish are prone to a disorder called "furunculosis", and can end up with awful ulcers on their bodies.  Watch, feed peas squeezed out of their skins, try to get a slow-sinking pellet (these things will help ensure no more swim bladder troubles and keep them unconstipated), and keep up with regular water changes.  Again, sorry you lost the poor little guy, and I hope the others will remain healthy.  Marina

White Worms in Tank - Total Die-off I need Help!!!  All my fish have died. There is a little very thin white tubular worm all over my tank. <How big are these worms?> I have had my fresh water tank for 20 years and never had a problem before. I have changed the gravel, washed the rocks, changed the water, put sea salt in the tank and they came back. It started with all of my catfish and algae eaters dying and then went to the other fish. The only thing I can think of, was I bought some new fish and they brought in something. I don't know what else to try.  Anyone who has any ideas, I would appreciate it. My local pet store hasn't a clue.  Thanks, Dotty <Well, let's start from the beginning.  How big is your tank?  What are your water parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate)?  How often do you/did you do water changes?  Do you vacuum the gravel when you do them?  What kind/how many fish did you have before the worms showed up?  A lot of questions, I know, but it may help us get to the bottom of this problem.  It could very well be possible that the worms are actually harmless in and of themselves, and only showed up in such abundance after the first fish death, which would have given them a lot of nutrients to feed off of.  For the moment, I'd suggest to leave your tank set up and running - with no fish whatsoever.  Do a hefty water change (maybe 50% or so) and vacuum the gravel, to get as many of the little buggers out as you can.  Leave the tank running for a month or so without fish, and see if the worms start to die out.  Adding fish at this point will give the worms nutrients to feed off (from the fish waste), so they'd multiply all over again, so just stay fishless and observe, see if the worms go away of their own accord.  Otherwise, you may be able to try some sort of anti-helmenthic medication to rid the tank of them.  I was able to wipe out hydra in my plant tank with a minute amount of Fenbendazole (under the proprietary name Panacur), and I'd seen a few planarians in the tank before treatment, but never have seen them since, so that might be a possibility.  Glad to be of service.  -Sabrina>

Fresh water die off Thanks for the help. <Any time, Joe!> We have well water which is in good shape. There was no ammonia spike, but I did add them all at once. The only strange thing I saw was the last two breathing at the top of the tank, so I did a quick water change but it was too late. Hence my question about the air stone. <Well, could be an oxygen problem, yeah.  Could also have been a parasite of the gills, or stress at a pH change (from the store to your tank), or many other things. Go ahead and add the airstone if you can, it certainly wouldn't hurt.> I think I'll break it down and re-start it. <Okay.  Ask the store where you get the fish next time what pH the fish are in, and be sure to acclimate them to your tank slowly.> I'll also take your advice on the nano tank. Thanks:) <Oh, good.  I'm having real trouble keeping my 10g nano stable, I can't even imagine trying a 5g....> While I'm bothering you with questions have you heard anything about the Prizm skimmer from red sea?   Do you think it would be sufficient for a 75 gal. SW reef tank I'm about to set up? <There've been several discussions on the wetwebfotos.com chat forum regarding this particular skimmer - and its serious lack of efficiency.  Frankly, if you can go with an Aqua-C Remora, you'll be in MUCH better shape.  It's a lot more expensive, but it's a really, really good skimmer - and that is important.> Thanks a bunch. Joe <Glad to help! -Sabrina>

Re: fresh water die off Hello Crew, <Hello, Sabrina here to help> Thanks for the advice on my Clownfishes awhile back they are still doing well. <Good to hear!> My problem is with my  daughters small (5gal.) fw tank.  Everything I put in it dies. Most recently 6 "white clouds" and two golden apple snails (still ok). Four of the fish died with two hours of each other. Could the snails be killing them? Water parameters were all good, fish had been in tank a week. <I assume you use a tapwater conditioner to remove chlorine/chloramine?  Was it directly after you added the snails that the fish died?  Had you noticed anything abnormal about them?> Previous to that I had let the tank rest for a month after another die-off (barbs). The tank is a mini bow system. <Did you add all the white clouds at once?  That may have just been too much for the biological bacteria to handle all at one time; did you experience an ammonia spike?  Since the tank had been fishless for so long, it may need to cycle again.> Would an air-stone help? <It wouldn't hurt, in any case> We do water and filter changes and the water is crystal clear. <Unfortunately, it's impossible to see if the water is good; just make sure you're testing for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate> Do you think I should break the tank down and start it over? <Possibly, if you've been testing for the above values, and not getting anything odd; ammonia and nitrite should not be anything above zero in a cycled tank.  If the water parameters check out, there may be some pathogen at play here that's been hanging around since the barbs, it's a long shot, but possible> You would think that I could keep a fresh water tank going but it's driving be crazy. <Well, a small tank is much harder to deal with than a larger one> I'm seriously thinking of making it a nano-reef tank. Or getting her a lizard. <Don't give up yet!  A 5g nano-reef would be so difficult to keep stable I can't even think about it without sweating!  There's probably just something you're missing; try to remember if there was anything amiss with the fishes before they died; often white clouds are sold as 'feeder' fish and may be diseased, so this may be completely unrelated to the trouble you had with the barbs.  Granted, it's very difficult to lose fish, but once you're on track, this is an extremely rewarding hobby.> Thanks for your insight and keep up the great advice. <And thank you - good luck with your tank, hope we can get this figured out!> Joe

Quick Cure- Faster Kill! Alright guys.  I could use a little help here.  Thanks in advance for the response.  You guys have a huge selection of FAQ's , and I find it very useful. <Glad you enjoy 'em! Scott F. with you today!> I have a 55 gal. freshwater, with tank top carbon filter, 2 40W lights low on the blue spectrum.  It is a very natural tank design, so none of the extra filters or special equipment.  It's been set up now for about8 months. My fish stock is: 1 M/1 F P. Pulcher  (Krib) 3 Aust. Rainbow 2 Gouramis 1 Black molly 1 Chinese Catfish (not the type that suck on other fish) 1 neon tetra 5 white cloud tetra 1 zebra Danio several Amano shrimp a few remaining small Kribs <Sounds like a neat mix of fishes!> It's very well stocked with live plants, as I have modeled this specific tank after one of Takashi Amano's tank in his Nature Aquarium World book. <Must have books for all serious planted tank enthusiasts...And for reef hobbyists, for that matter, as the design and composition elements can translate over to saltwater quite well> Here is my situation: I got home this evening, and found that a few of my fish (rainbows, white clouds, and 1 krib) had pop-eye.  I looked at the rest of the fish, and they seemed to be stressed out, each in their own way. Something's wrong. <I should say> I check water quality, and nothing has changed. Temp is about 82, ph is it's normal 6.6 (I can never seem to raise it any, but the fish don't seem to mind it) no ammonia/nitrate levels, hardness, etc.. you get the drill.  I decided to turn out the lights to lower stress, and add a little extra salt (as I didn't add any at my last water change Saturday) and put a single dose of "quick cure" in the tank "just in case".  Well, as I grab the bottle of quick cure, it was empty.  After asking my 4 year old daughter, she had put the ENTIRE bottle of quick cure in the tank on Saturday. <Yikes!> My zebra Danio was on the bottom. gone.  As well, my Kribs had paired off a few months ago, and I wasn't able to remove all of the lil' ones.  1 is already gone, and another is not able to be removed from the tank (he hides in a cave I can't access.  I have since removed all the remaining tetra from the tank to a "safe" tank, and they seem to be recovering already. <Glad to hear that> I am worried about my remaining fish, and how much water change can I do to remove any extra quick cure that is still present in the water. <I'd execute daily 10% water changes for about a week...I've done that in emergency situations in FW tanks, and it did the trick...Better than massive changes, IME> Will a water change at this point, several days later, even help any? <I think so> I've already done another 10% change this eve.  I know the carbon removes some of it, but I can't see it removing an almost full 3/4 ounce bottle of quick cure in 2 days. I ran out of Maracyn-II and will have to retrieve some in the morning to treat the pop-eye, but I'm quite concerned about the quick cure.  Please tell me there's hope for the remaining fish, as I believe my Kribs have already laid eggs again, and are defending their cave. <That's definitely cause for hope! I'm sure that they will be okay! I'd keep up the 10% changes> Thanks again everyone for all the help. <Any time! Hang in there- keep doing what you're doing, and all should work out! Regards, Scott F> Jeremy Tanner

Goldfish Swollen behind its Gills What a truly amazing site you have!  I'm overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge here, but in all my efforts, I was unable to find anything describing the problem with one of my goldfish, so I thought I'd write and see what you have to say. <Okay> I have eight fancy goldfish in a 55 gallon tank.  One is about five inches in length, one about four inches, and the other six range from two to three inches.  I maintain a clean environment for the fish, and feed them pellet food, according to the recommendations at the pet store. <Not to exclusion I trust. Dried foods are problematical with fancy goldfish... and I hope you do sizable weekly water changes...> First, some of my fish tend to float after they eat.  It doesn't happen right away, but a couple hours after they eat, they float.  They're still upright, not sideways, or upside down, as I've read in many other cases.  They don't have a problem swimming, or eating, and they do return to their normal buoyancy after a few hours.  I've seen this come and go with several of them.  Is there a swim bladder problem here, or is this something different? <Something different. The food> Finally, one of my fish, a blue fantail about 2 1/2 inches long is not well.  Immediately behind the gills on both sides, is a small oval shaped swollen area, the length of the gill, and about 1/4 inch wide. The fish seems to be breathing okay, however, I would imagine it's a bit labored.  He's still just as friendly, active, and hungry as the others. Whatever is swollen is under the scales, though they don't seem to stand out much.  I do believe one of the scales was lost on one side as that side appears bruised.  Is this related to gill disease? <Maybe, maybe not. I would not be concerned with this being a problem, but I would "do something" in the way of adding fresh and frozen foods in place of the all-dry regimen> I don't believe dropsy is involved, because the rest of the fish seems to be normal. <Not dropsy, but the current feeding practice will lead to other maladies> Any ideas, and suggestions for treatment would be greatly appreciated. I have a hospital tank I use to treat sick fish, so that's not an issue. I just need to know how to treat it.  Better to know, than to use a random medication hoping it works. Thank you for your assistance. David C. Ware Professional Computer Nerd <Ha! No worries. The "floating" and likely the swollen area issue will be "solved" soon by feeding frozen/defrosted foods, par-boiled vegetables, cooked rice, frozen/defrosted peas... Feed the dried-food at most every third day or so. Bob Fenner>

FW environmental disease >Hi my names Cora I've been doing tanks for years and until recently I've never had any trouble.   >>Hello Cora, Marina here. >A lady contacted me because I take in unwanted fish.  Due to her moving from Ohio to Maryland she needed a home for her fish (black mollies).  She told me to come get tank and all so I did.  Needless to say when I got there the water was black! >>Ack!  (And uh oh.) >I felt bad for the fish caught them drained the tank and loaded it all up into my car and brought it home.  I gave that tank a good cleaning no chemicals used of course and used water from my 55 gallon tank that had just had a partial water change the night before. >>Personal experience: mistake #1.  (Groaning, because I learned my mistake with a customer's fish.) >I let the fish float for 15 minutes and then released them.  Needless to say a little while later I notice the fish were starting to act really funny.  I checked the temperature it was a little high so I lowered it the water then started to get a milky white. >>Free floating bacteria found plenty of nutrients--new tank syndrome. >And the fish were still acting funny and 2 died.  I pulled the fish from that tank and floated them in my 55 gallon released them and they did fine. >>I wouldn't have done that, but you saved the rest.  My concern is the very real risk to your well-established tank by introducing the new fishes with no quarantine whatsoever, coming out of a foul-looking (but apparently healthy) tank. >I left them in the 55 over night and by morning the other tank had turned clear (no chemicals were used at any point of my set up ) so I put in 2 clown loaches and a few mollies needless to say they started to fly through the tank and act as though they were going to die I immediately put them back into my 55 and now they are fine but the other tank is milky white again.  Can you give me any ideas as to what might be going on?  I've worked in pet shops and have had tanks for years and never experienced anything to this effect.  Any information would be greatly appreciated!   Totally Confused,    Cora                                                                 >>Again, this sounds like new tank syndrome, though it usually takes a few hours for the bacteria to get a good foothold.  You never mentioned the size of this new tank, and I cannot recommend adding so many fish so quickly unless we're talking about a 75 gallon or larger set up.  At this point you MUST remove everything from the tank and fill it with water, then add bleach at a ratio of 1Cup/5 gallons.  Let it sit like this a few hours, then drain and allow to dry.  I would do this with everything that was associated with that tank as well.  If you're very worried about the tank, do this procedure twice, and then when ready to set it up again start with feeder gups first.  Beyond that it's difficult to say what to do, I'm assuming you know to match temperature and pH when transferring fishes, and to never introduce water from one system into another.  I hope this has helped answer your questions.  Best of luck with your new wards, Marina                                                                           

- Freshwater Problems - I have a problem. my tank has suddenly took a turn for the worse, all my cardinals are dying. I've lose about 15 in the last four days.  the pH, nitrate and ammonia are all good but I don't know what is happening to my fish. <I'd be looking for other clues - perhaps something in your house has become a contaminant. Perhaps someone threw something in your tank without your knowledge? Many, many possibilities... time to put on the Sherlock Holmes hat and do some investigation. Do tell us more about your system... it would help us help you.> I don't want my Discus to die with it:( please help me if you can. Thank you Chris <Cheers, J -- >

Over Stocked Aquarium - and Fish with Bacterial Infections My fish in my 25 g. tank 3 cats (spotted, channel, albino channel) and 1 Oscar all are getting reddish color on fins looks like a rash what is this and is there anything I can do about it.<yes, it sounds like a bacterial infection. You have too many large fish in this small aquarium. I would check the water quality in your aquarium-make sure your ammonia and nitrite is 0 and the nitrates are under 40ppm-DO NOT TREAT UNTIL THE WATER PARAMETERS ARE WITHIN THOSE RANGES> The Oscar's fins are very frayed looking also.<yes probably fin rot> do you think its from the red or something else.<bacterial infection also> I'm running the tank with emperor 280 and bubble wall I don't think Its a ware quality issue.<I would check it- With all these large fish in this tiny aquarium I am betting water quality is the source of the problem... First I would stabilize the water (quality) and then I would treat the fish, Do check out this page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm> THANKS <IanB> RON

Fish injury with the filter Hi, I have a 10 gallon tank with a Bio-Wheel filter. A few hours ago, one of my Platies swam by the intake and got its pectoral fin caught in it for a second. When he pulled free, he was no longer using that fin at all and I noticed the scales looked a little whitish around it. He still isn't swimming with that fin and is moving really slowly around the top of the tank. Is there anything I can do to fix him, or is it a lost cause?<just keep a close eye on him, make sure the water quality is near perfect and that no other of his tankmates are picking on him, also watch for an infection, red marks, bloody wound, etc> Thanks in advance for your help, Corrine <your welcome, IanB>

Kirby-the pleco Here is a Picture of Kirby, his red spot has now turned white in the middle and it does look like a scar. <from the picture you sent it looks like a bacterial infection, would look at the information on this link http://www.fishdoc.co.uk/disease/bacterial.htm I would aim more towards doing Short-term baths for a few hours each day using anti-bacterial products such as chloramine-T, potassium permanganate or antibiotics, Good Luck, IanB>

Possible dropsy >At first I thought that my fish had dropsy. I have had him for four years and last week he started laying on the bottom of the tank a lot, then one night I noticed a bump behind his left gill.  The next morning when I woke up it was now swollen, with the scales popping out (one side only) and a red spot in the center.  It got larger and appeared bloody by the end of the first day, on the second day I went to the store and bought antibiotic drops for him thinking that he might have a ulcer of bacterial infection but this evening he started pooping more than he had in the past week and it was dark in color.  From far it looks black but up close it is green.  His scales are also falling of in the swollen area and he his eating and swimming fine. Can you please help? Thanks for your time, Kelli. >>Wow, Kelli.  Um, what kind of fish is this?  It sounds like a disease goldfish sometimes get, ulcerations.  Take a look at this article and tell me if this is anything like what you're experiencing.  Marina

Re: Sick Zebra Danios My second zebra Danio is showing signs of distress. I euthanized the first last week. Same symptoms: red in gills, mouth constantly moving, belly (under gills) somewhat emaciated although he seems to be eating. Spends his time in the plants. I thought I had seen something re red gills on your site but can't find it now. <Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm and I think you'll find what you were looking for.> LFS tells me I only need to test ammonia which is always in "safe" range. <What are they calling 'safe'? Anything above 0ppm is not safe. The same goes for nitrites.> I have a newly established 20 gal tank with total 10 zebra Danios and two Corys, 1 panda and 1 albino.   <How newly established?> I've been cleaning gravel once a week/water changes 30-40%. <If your tank is old enough that it's gone thru its cycle period then these water changes are too drastic. Cut them back to 10% weekly or about 15% bi-weekly.> Any suggestions. You guys are great. I love your website. Marty <It's probably a parasite infection. The link above should help. Thanks for the compliments! Ronni>

Re: Sick Zebra Danios Thanks for the reply Ronni-I'll do some reading. The LFS told me I only needed to check ammonia levels and the kit they sold me indicates only a category ("safe, dangerous") no numbers. He said I didn't need to check for nitrites. <Unfortunately, many LFS do this and it results in the needless loss of fish. Nitrites can be as much a killer as ammonia and it's best to have a test kit (for each) that gives numerical readings. That way you know if there's even a slight shift and that can alert you to possible problems so you can take care of them before they become disasters.> The tank has been set up about a month. What is a "go through a cycle?" I read about it on your site but don't know exactly what it means. <The cycle is the initial phase an aquarium goes thru to establish the good bacteria that helps keep ammonia and nitrites at 0. When you set up a new aquarium there are no beneficial bacteria in it. For these to develop, the tank will 'cycle' and go thru several stages. The first will be a spike in the ammonia. The ammonia will then turn to nitrites. After that, the nitrites will turn to nitrates which are not harmful in a fish only aquarium unless it's in huge amounts (although they can cause a bit more algae than most people like). Once the tank has gone thru these stages it's considered cycled and the beneficial bacteria are established. Small, frequent water changes are necessary during the cycling process to keep the ammonia and nitrites from becoming too high and killing your fish (and even the good bacteria). Since your tank has been set up about a month it should be finished or nearly finished with the cycle but I would still recommend testing the water and also continue doing at least weekly testing. Water changes should be done no less than once a month or as I mentioned in the last message, small ones every week or two are better. If your fish lived thru a high ammonia and nitrite spike (assuming your water now tests normal) they may have an internal infection. Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm for some info on problems and treatments. Also check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm for some good info on cycling. That page discusses marine cycling but it applies to freshwater also.> Please help. Thank you. Marty <Hope this helps! Feel free to write if you have any other questions. Ronni>

Can something poisonous have grown inside the gravel during the 4 years of "no fish"? Hi, <Hello> My aquarist asked that I inquire here about my dying algae eaters that has even him stumped. <Well, I'll certainly try to help!> Problem: My Plecos and Chinese Algae Eaters (herein ae's) die after 5 days, but all other fish including Cory cats are fine. <Hmm'¦> Question: Is there some strange algae or gravel bacteria that could be killing these Plecos and ae's? Symptoms: 1. Both the Plecos and ae's happily suck on  everything for about 4 days. Then they start swimming lethargically and bump into things as if blind. The ae's will dart full speed into the glass bleeding from the impact. On day 5, both species float around the tank half dead with their gills barely moving. Day 6 there dead. 2. I've gone through 13 ae's since last December and 3 Plecos since March. 3. They consistently die the same way. <Strange. Are you following a strict QT with these fish when you bring them home? If not, try QTing them in a different tank to see if the same thing happens. This will at least allow you to narrow it down to something either with the fish themselves or something within your main tank.> Possibilities: 1. Poisonous algae? From 1996 to 2000, I kept the tank with no fish. I kept the filtration running, but never changed out the water. When I added my discus and neon's in late 2000, I put in new water and cleaned the rocks and gravel, but didn't take them out of the aquarium. Discus and neon's have been fine since then, but is there a chance something grew inside the gravel during the 4 years of "no fish"? I have taken about 80% of the gravel out and bleach-cleaned it, but this cleaning didn't seem to affect anything. <This shouldn't be a factor.> 2. Lack of food? I keep my tank clean, but always drop a Spirulina disc in the tank when I put in the new fish. However, neither the ae's nor the Plecos will eat these discs. <If they're hungry enough, they'll eat the disks so this shouldn't be it.> 3. Old food? I use Wardley Spirulina Discs. The can is about 7 years old. <This is possible. Try getting some new food and see if it helps.> Not Possibilities: 1. Shock. The last batch (3 ae's and 1 pleco) I transitioned to my tank over 6 hours, slowly adding my tank water and monitoring the chemicals. The store water was at about 6.5 ph and had moderate nitrates. <Very good.> SPECS Fish spec: 3 Discus, 40 neon tetras, 2 Cory cats - all about 3 years old and healthy. Tank specs: Type - Tropical freshwater Size - 75 GAL. Age - 11 years Filtration - Magnum 350 + dual bio wheel Landscape - white gravel, plastic plants, driftwood, petrified wood. Temp - 78F Ph - 6.8 constant Chemicals - All consistently appropriate for Discus and Neons. <This all sounds good.> Any help is much appreciated! <Do check the food and try a QT period. If these fail then you may have to tear your tank apart and start from scratch with new gravel. Ronni> -Chris

Re: customer's f/w troubles >I now have a brain wracking question for you.  I've been wracking my brain for almost two weeks on this one and I have no ideas left.   >>Ok, let's wrack away. >I work as an aquatic specialist at a pet store and I've had a customer have a few problems with 2 of her 10 tanks.  it was early last week when she started bringing in dead fish and samples of water to be tested.  the first time I tested her water the ammonia levels were really high, nitrites were pretty high, and the nitrates were somewhere around 40.  I told her to do a partial water change and to add some BioZyme and not to add any fish till the levels were down. >>While I may not have offered the BioZyme, this is what I would have advised as well. >so she did what I told her.  a few days later she came back with more dead fish and another water sample.  the ammonia was at 0, the nitrites were lowered by about half and the nitrates were at 80.  so I told her not to add any fish at all and put the BioZyme in everyday.   >>The nitrogen cycle in action. >she did what I told her to do.  so she came back into the store 3 days ago with more dead fish and another water sample.  everything was still the same.   >>Ok, now I'm wondering a few things.  2 of 10 tanks, how long has she been at this?  What is so different about these two tanks from the other eight?  Is it safe to assume that she's having good success with these other tanks? >so I told her to just dump out all of the water, scrub the tank out, the gravel, the decorations and reset it back up again using spring water instead of tap water, and to gradually add the fish back into the tank.    >>Not too familiar with "spring water", but if it's well-water then I would assume that it has to meet the same potability standards as municipal (tap) water.  Since she's keeping freshwater fish, I wouldn't worry about anything beyond nitrates, chloramine, and phosphates--none of which *except* the chloramine would necessarily outright kill the fish.  Sodium thiosulfate would break the bond between chlorine and ammonia (by which we arrive at chloramine--much more stable than chlorine alone) and a product such as Amquel or Novaqua would straighten things out.  Also, I probably wouldn't have had her strip the tanks down, but this is coming from someone completely unfamiliar with this customer's setups. >so she did, and she came into the store today with another water sample and the ammonia is at 0, nitrite was at 40 and the nitrates were at 80.   >>These readings would seem to indicate (assuming she's basically starting out with a completely new setup) that her troubles may start with her municipal water.  However, this doesn't explain the lack of trouble with eight other tanks, nor does it really adequately explain her previous losses.  So much of this hinges on her own history and abilities. >I asked her if she had put any fish into the tank and she said no.  the tank is completely empty, she scrubbed the gravel, deco, the tank, the filter and added a new cartridge to the filter. >>So she got these readings from a bare tank, yes?  Odd, very odd. >she only has a few live plants in the tank and that's it.  oh by the way this is a 5 gallon and a 10 gallon tank.  the 5 gallon had 3 guppies in it and the 10 gallon had 2 female Bettas and 2 angelfish in them.  well so now I'm completely out of  ideas as to what could be causing this problem.  so if you have any suggestions as to what should be done I would so very much appreciate anything that you have to say about this.  thanks so much.   >>I would like to see what's up with the other eight tanks, and how the water she's using to set up these other two tanks tests out.  Other than that, I'd set them up fairly bare with feeder gups, then add, one by one, the decorations and furnishings she had when things went bad.  Start with the feeders in a bare tank for a week, see how it goes, then add the gravel, wait a week, so on and so forth.  Process of elimination, yeah?  Good luck, these problems are hard!  Marina

Blue dwarf Hi guys-     I've been operating a 10 gallon tank for about 3 months now.  I'm new at fishkeeping, so I've had some stumbles along the way, but things seem to be evening out now.  Anyway, I'm running a 30 gallon whisper filter, thermometer is fine, have an air stone. Here's the fish I have- 4 neon tetra 3 tiger barbs 1 dwarf Gourami 1 angel fish 1 pictus cat a brown/black spotted algae eater (about 2 in) 1 orange unidentified fish, with 2 blacks spots on each side, on near head and one near tail (he seems a little aggressive, sometimes schools with barbs, but mostly just chases them around the tank) <Ok, for starters, this is almost 4 times the fish load that should be in this size tank. And the mix isn't the best, the Tiger Barbs are going to pick on the others incessantly, especially on the Gourami and the Angel. The unidentified one sounds like it might be a Rosy Barb, look them up at http://www.fishbase.org to see a picture. Like the Tigers, they can be fairly testy too, although not always.> Anyways, about a week ago I noticed what I thought was a bite under the right gill of my Gourami.  I thought I'd give it some time, see if it started healing.  It didn't.  I seems to be getting bigger, and is now an open red sore.  Also, the fish today I noticed has severe Popeye on the same (right) side.  Left side is fine.  He hasn't been eating much. <Sounds like an environmental problem.> I took some water to the store and they told me my nitrate and ph was all out of whack, so I bought a gravel vacuum, and have done 2 20% water changes in the last week (which is what the store told me to do), with a 7.0 ph balance (1 scoop each change) in order to correct the problem.  I'm just wondering if this sounds like a disease, or just poor water conditions.  He (the Gourami), seems to move around more when the light is off.  I can send a picture if you think that would help.  Thanks in advance for any help you can give me! <The water changes will help with the water quality problems but you're going to have to either get rid of some fish or get a larger tank (minimum 30 gallon, 40 or larger would be better) to prevent the same problems from happening in the future. Also, don't mess with the pH too much. If it was under about 7.8 the fish will all adapt to it. It's better for them to be in a slightly high pH than to be in a lower fluctuating pH. You do need to isolate the Gourami immediately and treat him with a medication for the pop-eye and his wound. Melafix would probably work for the wound and I believe it treats pop-eye as well. If not, one of the Maracyns will work for the pop-eye. Ronni>

Puzzling Water WWM, Let me begin by saying that I did look around the website for a clue to my question before I gave up. <No worries, the FAQs sure are plentiful.> I have a 30gal freshwater tank with 2 Gouramis, 2 silver dollars and until recently 1 Bala shark. My favorite shark died mysteriously a few days ago. I cannot put a finger on it. But that is not my question. My inquiry is on the status of my water. <My money says that the two are related.> I used to have a very clear aquarium similar to those at the local pet store. For the past three weeks my water has been murky (not cloudy) It sort of has  a greenish tint to the water <could be an algae bloom.>  but, I would say it is just more dirty in appearance. I just changed the water, vacuumed, and changed the filer. My pH is almost 7 but not there yet. I have no live plants. I have one artificial plant and a few rocks. I am using the Marineland Bio Wheel 330 (double wheel) filter. My ultimate result is a clear tank and proper pH just like the aquariums I visit. I am always amazed how they are able to keep everyone of their 50+plus tanks crystal clear. <large filtration systems give them an advantage.  With a Marineland 330 on a 30gal tank you should be able to achieve the water quality you desire.  Plenty of flow, biological filtration, mechanical filtration, chemical filtration, with frequent water changes you should be in good shape.  How often do you do water changes and how much water?  You should get you water tested for Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, and PH.  Let us know what the results are.  It is hard to say what has caused the murky water, but I bet small frequent water changes will fix it.> Please offer some guidance. Shaf p.s. I don't want to lose my other shark :( <If you want to keep your shark you are going to need a much larger tank.  These fellas grow to be over 1ft long.  The silver dollars get rather large as well. Best Regards, Gage>

Maintenance I spoke with my local aquarium and I also got the tests kits that need. My ammonia is very high and so is my nitrate level. I also purchased the Python vacuum like you recommended and it was a great choice. <Much better than carrying buckets.> I just started cleaning my tank on Saturday and I could see how clean the rocks got compared to the ones I did not vacuum. I am 100% sure that I just need to keep cleaning this tank until all the gravel and other dirt particles are all cleaned out. That must be the reason why my Bala Shark died (too much ammonia). <most likely> It is going to take me about 3 weeks to gravel vacuum the entire tank. About 1/3 of the water is gone after I vacuum. Is there a specific technique I should follow? <Sounds like you are on the right track, insert gravel vac, start siphon, suck out muck, that's about all there is to it.  With weekly maintenance your tank will be crystal clear in no time. -Gage> Shaf

Just a love bite? (04/15/03) Hi all, <Hi! Ananda here today while taking a tax break...> Firstly - thank-you!  I recently had two Bala sharks with some kind of infection and velvet.  Following your advice they have been treated and are now looking very healthy back in the main aquarium.   <Yay!> But - I have a new problem! <There's always something happening... just keep taking care of things as they come up and hopefully things will settle down eventually!> I have two dwarf Gouramis in my tank (a cobalt blue male and a female). The male has a chunk missing from one side of his mouth.  I'm not sure whether this is a bacterial infection or if he was nipped by the female (they do chase each other on occasions).   <Sounds like he got nipped... perhaps he annoyed the female and she got back at him?> He's still eating O.K and all other water conditions are fine.   <Hopefully that means zero ammonia, zero nitrites, and nitrates at 10 or less...!> I can't see anything that might look like fungus - there's just a piece missing. What should I do?? <Keep the water quality absolutely pristine. I'd do more water changes than usual until it heals. Do *not* vacuum the gravel during these water changes; you don't want to stir up any nasty bacteria that might be hiding in the gravel. *If* you have Melafix already, you could add that to the tank; if not, don't worry about it. I'm not familiar with what kind of tank decor you have, but you might also consider adding some more stuff for the fish to hide in/around -- visual barriers might be good, too. Soaking his food in a vitamin supplement wouldn't hurt, either.> Amanda Hutchinson <Keep an eye on him...if the wound starts looking worse, put him in a quarantine tank, email with what's happening, and we'll go from there.  --Ananda>

Re: Platies & Bala Shark Hi there, <Hello!> I have a 30 gallon tank with 5 Platies, 4 tetras, 1 molly and a lobster. The lobster doesn't seem to bother the fish, but he has been known to try and catch them from time to time (when he's getting ready to molt). I know that seems mean, but the pet guy said it would be okay. <You may find that he will eventually catch one but for now it's fine.> Two questions: (1) My Platies tend to hang around the bottom of my tank - ignoring the lobster. They hide near the lobsters hideout, and under plants -- very near or even on the bottom. Is this normal? <Platies are generally a middle water column type fish but it's not uncommon for them to hang around near the bottom. As long as their fins aren't clamped and they are showing no signs of disease I wouldn't worry.> (2) I lost my Bala shark today. I haven't had much luck with them. I'm starting to get discouraged. I checked my nitrate and ph levels -- both fine. The rest of the fish are okay. I came home tonight to the horror of my shark floating upside down - still breathing a little. Am I doing something wrong? Any advice? <Unfortunately, your system is way too small for a Bala. They can get over a foot in length. In addition to testing Nitrate and pH you should also test Nitrite and Ammonia. Those are the ones to really worry about (don't discount the others though!) and are common killers of fish in many home aquariums. Another thing I've noticed recently is the poor quality of Bala livestock that is available in stores. This didn't used to be the case but of the three stores (in 2 cities) that I've checked recently, there wasn't a single Bala that I would have even considered bringing home. I have no idea what the cause of this is, it could be poor breeding or handling, or any number of other things. It really makes it tough for the people who are looking to buy healthy livestock. But anyway, for your system I would suggest sticking with what you have and not getting another Bala. If you want something a bit different than what you have, maybe get a few Blackline Penguinfish (often sold as Penguin Tetras). These are a nice active fish with the silver and black coloring but they stay small, under 2', so you could add several of them without overcrowding your system.> Thanks!!! Hayley <You're welcome! Ronni> PS Cool Web Site! <Thank you much!!>

Re: Freshwater Tank - dying fish My new tank has been doing well for 5 months.  30 gallon freshwater. Tank started to look cloudy, so I did a 25% water change after doing routine testing.  All testing was good -this happened after I started using additional food for the catfish and algae eater. After water change water starting to look better, but catfish, clown loach, Silver dollar, 2 tetras died in 24 hours. What is happening? Help!! Ann <Was the new water conditioned before adding it to the tank? If not, there may have been chlorine in it and this would have killed the fish. It's important to make sure to condition new water properly before adding it to your tank. This can be done by placing it in a container with a heater and airstone for a day or two or by using a chemical conditioner. Also make sure the new water is the same temp as the tank water. Ronni>

Reversing Metabolite Poisoning Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> You said that my fish has been dying from metabolite poisoning and my one lion head is loosing his balance and I have put it into tub and I will not feed it for 2 days. Any advise on this bull head? <We're talking about goldfish here- right? I'm assuming that based on your description. I may be coming in at the middle of your dialogue regarding this problem, but if it were me, and metabolic poisoning has been identified as the cause of your problem- I'd remove the fish to a better environment for a while as I correct the display tank parameters> What may be wrong now? Over feeding, over stocking or nitrite that is less than 0.3 but it may be 0 or 0.1 or 0.2 I don't know because that is the last measurement of tetra test kit and its lower limit is <0.3. Give me any suggestion on this. My brother is feeding salt to my bull head. My tank is 37 gallon UK. <You certainly don't want detectable levels of nitrite in your tank!. I'd execute some water changes in the display, and utilize some form of chemical filtration media, such as PolyFilter or activated carbon, on a regular basis, in this aquarium. Aerate and filter based upon the tank's stoking level. Under crowd, underfeed, and execute weekly water changes. This should bring things around in a relatively short time. The "salt trick" with goldfish is an old standby, but I doubt its effectiveness in dealing with a metabolic poisoning event...Just good water and careful observation should speed the recovery. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Question About SYNODONTIS EUPTERUS Hello there, I'm writing from Trinidad in the West Indies. I have a question regarding a condition I observed lately on a couple 12cm Featherfin Catfishes I have. They live quite well in a tank (48"x18"x18") with Koi, Loaches, Botias, Silver Dollars and Tinfoils. Lately I've observed that there skin condition is rather sore looking with a rather scratchy appearance. It does not seem to affect their disposition or behavior yet.  But I can barely notice the nice dark velvet and spotted appearance they once possessed.  Could you suggest whether they are infected and if so what is the recommended course of action? Thanks.... Adrian Ramlochan <This could be due to water quality. Have you tested your PH, Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates lately and have you kept up with your water changes? Change in coloration of more than one fish can often be attributed to water quality and it's always the first suspect. Ronni>

Re: Synodontis eupterus with a cloudy eye Ronni, I had a dilemma come up right after I emailed you.  My Synodontis Eupterus has a problem.  One of his eyes is swollen and kind of cloudy with even a bit of a film on it.  I just read (as I was looking for an answer to this) that at night they scavenge around for food and sometimes have a tendency to bump into the heater.   <Since it's only one eye it does indeed sound like an injury of some sort. Either a burn from the heater or a scratch from a rock or other decoration.> Now I don't know what a heater burn would look like but his eye is rather grotesque looking right now and I really feel bad for him.  Do you think this is what it could be?  How should I treat him not knowing?  I do have 3 medicines on hand, 1) a concoction that my aquarium supplier has made (a kind of cure all she calls it), 2) Melafix by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals which I have used in the past and it has worked miracles and 3) Fungus Guard by Jungle.  What would your advice be?  I really love this cat and don't want him to suffer. <I would recommend isolating him (geez, give me another week and I'm going to have all of your fish in QT tanks! *G*) and using the Melafix. It should help.> Thanks once again, Dave <Thank you! Ronni>

Re: Oscar Eye Injury. Just wondering if you could help me with my Oscar's eye problem. <I will try> I purchased a baby Oscar and once I got it home I noticed one eye was larger than the other. The eye looked perfectly normal colorwise, it was just bigger. I figured it was a mechanical injury since only the one eye was effected. I read up on mechanical eye injuries and salt was recommended. <Yes... most folks use just "regular salt" (ice-cream, table, water-softener...), but Epsom (Magnesium Sulfate) is recommended> So I started treatment with salt and MelaFix for good measure on Nov.28th. I upped the water changes, and fed a varied diet. The Oscar was showing no signs of any illness. Active and eating well. Other than vision loss in the affected eye.   I stopped the salt treatment on Christmas eve. Since I was seeing no improvement at all. Although the eye was no worse it was no better. Upon closer examination, I noticed a 'lump' covering the lower part of the pupil. It's looks similar to a bruise, For lack of a better description. And it's odd shaped. I don't think it's an air bubble since it's dark coloured. But I guess it's possible since I don't really know what that would look like. Due to whatever this is, the Oscar is blind in that eye. But the eye is clear, still puffy. Like there is fluid behind the eye and also in the clear layer. Which the salt didn't help draw out. But the 'lump' was not there at first. I checked the eye on a daily basis. Possibly a growth? <I think you are right here. Not parasitic or infectious in origin... but genetic, developmental. Likely not operable, treatable. But also not too detrimental.> I'm not sure how to treat, or if a treatment is necessary. I'm also curious if you know what this might be? I'll leave you my water parameters just in case you need them.. Ammonia= 0 Nitrite= 0 Nitrate= 10ppm PH= Between 7.0 The Oscar is currently about 3 inches in size.   Any help or ideas would be great! Thanks, Linda <There are many cases of hobbyists keeping fish species with such abnormalities of the eyes. Perhaps this growth will spontaneously remit. Bob Fenner>

Sick Platies, Salt Use Dear Crew, <Howdy> You haven't yet had a chance to respond to the email I sent 10 hours ago about my swollen platy. Since that time I have done some reading and I now believe he has dropsy. <Me too> I have read the information on your site and will follow the advice although I know there is very little success in treating this disorder.  One suggestion (in addition to antibiotics and medicated food) at another website was to add salt to the water.  They suggested 2 teaspoons per gallon. <Yes, but not all at once... over a period of days> My hospital tank is a 10 gallon tank.  I was a little more conservative and added 15 teaspoons of salt. The water in now cloudy and although I put in a powerhead to circulate the water to help dissolve the salt, I still see some on the bottom.  It appears to me that the tank is saturated, if not supersaturated with salt.  Was this the intention?  Is this too much salt?  How could it be too much if I used even less than what was recommended? <Mmm, too much, too soon, yes> Another upsetting observation I made in a different platy in the same 30 gallon tank is that the feces of that fish is a long white stringy thing.  I have a sense that the white color is not a good thing.  Should I put this fish in the hospital tank with the fish with dropsy?  Treat with antibiotics? <Best to move it. Treat with antibiotic laden flake foods. You may be able to find a supply of TetraMin... Please use the search tool on our BB re: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/> What is happening here?  Has my aquarium become a tank of death?  The temperature is a steady 79F, the ammonia and nitrates are 0, nitrates rose from 0 to 10 in the last week. <Not a tank of death... but it does appear you've happened upon, purchased some impugned livebearers. What does your dealer say about these fish? Bob Fenner> I await your response and thanks for the help. Judy

Bilateral Popeye/Color Change in Mollies I have a tank of marble mollies...some are babies of the originals.  A couple of days ago I noticed that one of the younger mollies had both eyes popped out similar to a telescope goldfish.  She seemed alright otherwise, but since has taken to hanging out at the top of the tank and seems to be blind, can't seem to see food too well.  Also looks thin.  I'm wondering if I have a case of mycobacteriosis.  This is scary because I read that humans can contract it from fish.  What should I do for her? <This conditions sounds like it could have been brought on by poor water quality or stress.  Is your water hard, alkaline, and slightly salty, about 1.004 on a hydrometer.  Have your water tested to be sure everything in in line.  If you are not adding salt already, frequent water changes and the addition of salt should help her. I doubt it is mycobacterium marinum... AKA Fish TB (tuberculosis), but be cautious just the same. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Wound.htm  > My other problem is that a black/gold molly I have which was more black than gold has changed color so that now she is almost completely gold.  She is almost one year old.  Do mollies change color or is this some disease? <It is perfectly normal for them to change color.  Best Regards,  Gage> Thank you for you help.

Re: Severe Popeye Thank you, Gage.   It may be too late but I located and bought some JFE today and am giving it a try as it's the one med I haven't yet tried for the severe Popeye.  It is OK to add JFE in water concurrently with Epsom salt?  I've eliminated the aquarium salt I usually add since according to your site they would work at cross purposes.  Thx much, Wanda <Hi Wanda, at this point I would go with water changes and the JFE and hope for the best.  Let us know how it turns out.  Best of Luck, Gage>

Oscar Swim Bladder Hello, My Oscar is about 2 years old and 8" long.  He has recently developed what I believe is something wrong with his swim bladder-he floats upright at the top of the tank with about 1/4' of his back bobbing out of the water. In all respects he appears very healthy and vigorous, but he can't seem to swim down to the bottom of the tank-when he tries he just floats back up to the surface.  Can you give me any advice on what may be the cause of this and how I might be able to cure him?  Thank you very much in advance. <Hello David, sounds like it could be a problem with the swim bladder, or maybe a gut impaction of sorts.  Could have been brought on by diet, what has he been eating?  You could try adding a small concentration of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to its water (about a teaspoon per ten gallons of system water) to facilitate muscle relaxation, possibly passing of material in its gut.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fw3setsdisfaqs.htm >

Persistent Popeye Hi, I was surfing tonight and found your site...thought I'd try you out for some help with a problem I've been having with my Betta.  It's been persistent and perplexes me to no end so maybe someone can give me some advice. My only Betta, Oscar, who I've had since March this year, (adopted from PetSmart) developed Popeye around the first week of November. Despite catching it early, and dosing him religiously with first, Melafix, then Maracyn, followed by Maracyn-Two (at least 3 rounds) followed by Tetracycline (at least 2-3 rounds), his eye has remained grotesquely inflamed, and has worsened, to the point where it has burst in at least 2 or 3 places (exposing whitish flesh) and is, I think, at this point, beyond saving. I'm sure his eye will be lost although I'm not sure what to expect (I've actually dreamt of finding his infected eye floating up at the top of his tank). Despite all this, after almost 2 months, he's been hanging onto life, which frankly surprises me after reading where ill Bettas seem to just deteriorate rapidly and pass overnight). I've been changing his water out religiously every 3-4 days (he's in a 1-gallon bowl), adding aquarium salt, Novaqua and Amquel, and keeping him comfy at around 80 degrees with the help of a seedling heat mat (and praying for him to pull through). He was hovering on death for awhile and I really thought his number was up. He still hovers lifelessly at the top of the tank most of the time, but reacts to me and has regained his appetite in recent weeks and if engaged, will respond with his good eye. I patiently feed him and it seems recently as if his appetite has increased although his activity is still low. He has spasms if he tends to move around too much so he stays mostly still. I'm at my wits end but unwilling to give up. I just started him again on a round of Maracyn-Two but the eye never seems to improve. It's very slowly worsening but I also know from what I've read that Popeye in and of itself isn't fatal. My question is, what can I expect? Has anyone out there ever had a Betta lose an eye to Popeye and still live a good natural life? I'm worried but at this point I'm just glad he's still hanging on and just hoping he's not in any distress. I bought a PH test kit and his water tests a little low in PH (it's usually about 6.4) but there's no problem as far as I know of any high ammonia or other significant water quality issue. I have tried adjusting his PH up a little with the drops but am very leery due to what I've read cautioning manipulation of ph in a small bowl. I don't want to kill my poor guy trying to be a "mad chemist". Thanks so much for any help or advice. <Hello, have you tried using Epsom salts yet?  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salt and repeat in three days. Do water changes as usual.  Also, check out the link below, lots of info on Bettas with Popeye.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettafaqs.htm

Re: cichlids I think my cichlids have Hexamita. their color are darker, they are pooping what looks like worms, they have holes in their head, and fungus but we treated them with MelaFix and it went away then it came back so should we treat them with hex-a-mita. this Tank was just recently  cleaned  very thoroughly the week before. please help. thanks. <Hello, ugh, sounds like there may be multiple problems here.  Start with water quality, have your water tested for ammonia, ph, nitrite, and nitrate.  Depending upon how thorough your tank cleaning was, you may have destroyed your biological filtration.  If you are not adding salt to the tank, you might consider 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons.  Please read over our FAQs on this disease http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm If all is in line and the problem is still persisting, then I would consider medication.  Best Regards, Gage>

- Oscar with Dirty Pores - <Hi, JasonC here...> Hi, I have a 4 year old Oscar who has developed these holes on both sides of his head. He also has a large red blotch on the front of his head, which is indented and looks like a scrap, but it isn't a scrap because it would have healed by now.  He has had both of these symptom for at least two weeks.  I thought he had the hole in the head disease which would explain the holes, but I don't think that would also cause the red spot.  But I treated him for it anyway. I used clout last week for 3 days. Then this week I used this "Parasite clear" by "jungle" for 8 days, but it doesn't seem to be helping and the holes are getting larger and I think more are starting to form on his face.  His behavior is normal. I attached 2 pictures of the marks on him which hopefully will be able to help you. So if you can tell me what you think it is and what I can do, I will appreciate it very much. <Unfortunately, this condition is very common with Oscars, and it comes from the condition of the water they are living in. Essentially, these fish can dirty their water beyond what most people expect, can see, or have placed equipment for. For the most part, this is very hard to reverse. You're best bet is to apply all your energies to keeping the water as pristine as possible. To do this you should at least double your filter cleaning efforts, and probably add a second filter as well.> Thank you <Cheers, J -- >

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