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FAQs on Freshwater Infectious (bacterial, fungal) Diseases 5

Related Articles: Freshwater Fish Diseases, Freshwater DiseasesFW Disease Troubleshooting, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, Understanding Bacterial Disease in Aquarium Fish; With a gallery of bacterial infections, a discussion of 'Fish TB', and a listing of major antimicrobial medications with examples available to fishkeepers By Myron Roth, Ph.D.,

Related FAQs: Infectious FW Diseases 1, Infectious FW Diseases 2, Infectious FW Disease 3, Infectious FW Disease 4, & Finrot, Dropsy/Dropsical Conditions, Aquarium Maintenance, FW Parasitic DiseasesAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid DiseaseBetta Disease 1

Congo tetra swollen.    3/30/18
Hello crew. Hope you are doing alright.
Today one of my Congo tetras, the biggest and dominant male appeared with a big swollen and open mouth. His head looks very red and swollen. He is still responding to stimulus but very weakly. His condition is worsening by the hour, so this is a very aggressive ailment. He was not like this yesterday. Other notable symptoms are an under jaw with marked veins, a small blood blotch near the pectoral fins.
This looks horrible and I've never seen anything like this. He does fight a lot with a certain other male to the point of pursuing each other across the whole 150 gallon aquarium they are in.
I've had my group of Congos for two years now. When i first got them they came with a type of mouth fungus, something that looked like they are white gums and no teeth (its the closest i can to describe it). It never got bad and it went away once happy in my tank. Now all of a sudden this. I checked the other Congos and there is one with the same white gum thing that i saw two years ago, but it is not hindering in normal feeding or behavior. I conducted a large water change (50%).
I have quarantined the sick fish into a 5 gal bucket with 1/2 Methylene blue and will be waiting on response. Its 8 pm and i don't think i can go get anything difficult right now and i don't think he will make the night if i don't do something right now.
I have malachite green, Metronidazole, and Levamisole in my med box. Any opinions crew?
<This does look like the infamous 'Mouth Fungus' to me, which despite its name, is a bacterial infection nowadays more often called Columnaris after the bacterium species responsible, Flavobacterium columnare. It can be extremely aggressive, and while it can be treatable, you need to work promptly. A strong, reliable antibiotic is necessary -- Kanaplex of example is known to be reasonably effective. Outside the US, access to antibiotics can be limited, but I have found eSHa 2000 to be quite effective as well, especially if the problem is caught early on (it's less effective once the fish is really weak). Neither Methylene Blue, Malachite green, Metronidazole, or Levamisole are useful here. Do bear in mind Columnaris is opportunistic and to some degree caused by things like fighting and less than perfect water quality, so reviewing the tank is important as well. Cheers, Neale.>

Ich and Fin Rot?
Hi crew, hope all is well on your end! I'm writing about a black skirt tetra in my 29 gallon community tank. About a week ago I noticed some white spots on her tail which caught my attention.
<I see these.... sand, air bubbles? Ich?>
When comparing her to the other tetras I realized her tail is not as full. I was suspecting ich and fin rot, but I was able to find a photo of her that was taken a month prior. I realized that she has looked this way for at least a month, possibly since I got her. I guess I just never noticed it. In the tank are five other tetras, 4 danios, a small school of kuhli loaches
<These don't like most ich med.s>
and a school of cories. All are free from spots, fin rot, etc. All are thriving, including the fish in question. Ammonia and nitrites are 0. Nitrates are 40 ppm(have been experimenting with matrix and Nitrazorb during the slow process of reducing this number with moderate results).
<Water changes in the meanwhile>
Please review the attached photos as your thoughts would be very much appreciated. Thank you. Danielle
<IF anything (and after reading on WWM), simply raising water temp. to the mid 80's F.
The reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwich.htm
and some of the first files linked above.
Bob Fenner>

My Texas cichlid has a Lump     3/15/13
I have a juvenile Texas cichlid who has been with me for around 6 months now ... Goes along with all the other fish.. Since yesterday I have noticed a small lump on both his sides where the fin starts.. The lump on one side is bigger than the other and looks like it's an open sore.. I am worried..could you pls let me know what this is..
I am attaching a pic for a clearer understanding..
Thank you
<Mmm, well; likely this is a viral (or virally mediated) growth. At any length, not generally deadly, and not treat-able. With your good care (nutrition, water quality...) this growth may well disappear on its own (ala warts in humans). Bob Fenner>

Re: My Texas cichlid has a Lump     3/18/13
Thank you !!!
<Ah, welcome. BobF>

possible prolapse?      8/14/12
The black skirt tetra in question developed the condition sometime earlier today. After a little research, it appears to be a prolapse. She (he?) is acting perfectly normal and is still eating. I tested the water and it appears to be fine: 0 ammonia, 10ppm nitrate, 0 nitrite, GH 75ppm, KH 80ppm, pH 7.5. Is it a prolapse or something else? What should I do? A
quick response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
<Yes, you do seem to have a Black Widow Tetra with some sort of intestinal infection. As the pathogens (often Protozoans rather than bacteria) multiply, they cause the large intestine to become inflame and emerge from the anus. Metronidazole ("Flagyl") is the medication of choice here, and the only one that works reliably. The use of Epsom salt can be helpful too, at 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres, alongside the Metronidazole.
Cheers, Neale.>

Great pix. B

Possible Mouth Rot Photo Attached      7/26/12
I need guidance for my angelfish. They have been lip locking and fighting and now his mouth looks like possible mouth rot,
<At least damaged>
 but I'm not sure if he's injured or if it's more then that. In the photo, you can see where his mouth looks like its separating and is almost see through as you can see some red like its the inside of his mouth. I do water changes every 4 to 5 days about 50%   With his mouth I've moved to 3 days.
Temp is 78-80, he still eats
<Even better>
 and they have a varied diet.  Almost all silk plants in aquarium (20 gal tall)  No ammonia or nitrites and nitrates never register to 20ppm, tank established for a year and my injured fish is almost a year old (he's huge which I think gives testament to how well i take care of them).  They are the only two fish in the tank.  The other angel doesn't look like his mouth is bad, but I'll put a photo of him too as it seems like his lips are puffy.
I'm not sure if he's just hurt or if it's something more then that. What do you recommend I do?
<Mmm, likely nothing more than you already are doing>
  I have been reading up on E.M. Erythromycin
<This or Sulfa... but again, I'd leave all as is for now>
 and if this is something I should get and treat with as I've read Melafix and Pimafix are worthless.
<They are worse than worthless>
What do you think I should do?
Thank you,
<Keep up the good water quality maintenance and mixed diet. Bob Fenner>

Re: Possible Mouth Rot Photo Attached – 07/26/12
Thank you for your response. However I don't think the right photo was attached. The silver marble has a "puffy" mouth, but it's my black marble that I'm questioning with the injury/possible mouth rot. Photo below & thanks again so much.
<Ahh, thank you for this correction... where did I/we get the other pic...?
Would still not medicate.>
<Cheers, BobF> 

Re: Possible Mouth Rot Photo Attached – 07/26/12
I had attached both of them in the original email but I guess my system (or I) did not attach properly.
 I wanted to show the black marble as he was the one with the injury and show my silver marble as his lips seemed swollen. Since I will keep doing what I'm doing with water changes, feeding varied foods etc, and not medicate, what should I watch for in case I have to medicate? 
<Signs of decomposition... Hyphae...>
I know a symptom is "cotton" like stuff by the mouth. I noticed he had a string of one which is what made me think he had a bacteria infection.
<May be>
I just wanted to say thank you and I am very grateful for your website and assistance. I have become somewhat of a geek with my fish as its my #1 hobby
Thanks again
<Glad to share. B> 

Sick Black Ghost Fish too much salt?    11/22/11
Hi! I have a sick Black Ghost Knife Fish and I have been doing research and speaking with a few Aquarium shops for the past few days with no help.
We have and angel fish who developed some fungus on it's tail. After a few water changes there was no improvement so we did a salt bath on the tank. I was not aware that Knife fish were so sensitive to the salt though now since he is sick I know he is. The major problem that I can identify is that not knowing I did a salt bath my boyfriend also did one. That next morning the ghost was laying on the bottom of the tank hardly breathing. We have a 55 gallon tank with an assortment of angels, clown loaches, tetra's, catfish, a Danio...everyone else seems OK though we have quarantined our angel in another tank and are doing treatments on him. We changed about half of the water in the tank to reduce salt levels but 2 days later the
Ghost is not eating and has been laying in the bottom of the log that he usually hides in. No spots or ragged fins he looks of other than that he is laying where he typically swims all day. Our water levels are all pretty much perfect and I'm not sure what else to do to help him???
I would love some ideas he is by far our favorite fish and I would hate to see him go!
<You shouldn't use salt at a higher concentration than 2 grammes/litre.
Contrary to popular misconception, salt isn't a cure-all. It's good for Whitespot and Velvet at the concentration stated above, but hopeless for Finrot and Fungus, and certainly not something to add to your aquarium without a very good reason. If you do think salt is the issue here, do a 50% water change now, and another 50% tomorrow. This should flush out most of the salt.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Black Ghost Fish too much salt?    11/22/11

Thanks Neale! I will try that and see how he does.
<Good luck! Do also consider the presence of copper and low oxygen concentration -- both critical issues when keeping Apteronotus. Cheers, Neale.>

Danio with fish TB or merely bad water quality or old age?   9/16/11
first of all, I'd like to thank you guys for running this website -- it's helped me out many times and it's always my first stop when there is something wrong with my fish and I need an answer.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a tropical fish tank with a mix of loaches, Platies, a Cory, and four (or, as of yesterday, three) zebra Danios. I feed them mainly with fish flakes and some additional sinking food for the loaches. I can't recall how big the tank is, but from previous calculations I know that it isn't overstocked (since I had a few deaths recently it's rather a bit under-stocked, but more of that later). As for food -- occasionally they get bloodworms or daphnia but they haven't had much variety recently because we were on hold for a few weeks and it's easier for the fish feeder to just give the flakes.
<Sounds fine. Good quality flakes can make an adequate staple, though offering occasional live or wet-frozen foods really can help with constipation problems.>
Now, to give you the back-story. I have to admit that in recent months I've been a very bad fish keeper indeed. I am pregnant and the constant exhaustion and nausea has thrown me for a bit of a loop, meaning that I've been less than diligent with cleaning out the tank. Add to that that every time I clean it I seem to have to flush a fish or two afterwards (is it the shock of all that clean water?) and tank maintenance hasn't looked too appealing recently and the tank has on occasion looked pretty bad.
<I see.>
Through this neglect I have lost a few fish recently, but there was nothing in particular about those deaths that alerted me to anything like an illness -- fish would stop eating, keep themselves separate, and eventually die. There were no sores, discolouration or anything else odd. Losses were varied -- an aquatic frog, a couple of guppies, a Cory, and some Platies, but with many weeks in between). It's bad, I know, and I feel rather guilty, but I attributed it to the bad water quality and tank hygiene rather than any disease.
Now the Danio -- A while back (at least a month or so ago) he developed a curved spine. Looked really odd, like he had a hunchback or something like that. Initially this didn't seem to bother him much at all, but during the past week or so he got slower and stopped swimming around much. Eventually I found him at the bottom of the tank, kind of crumpled up -- he looked almost paralysed, his spinal deformity looked that bad. He wasn't moving and I thought he was dead, but when touched he roused himself and swam off. The next morning I found him floating at the top of the tank, dead, but get this -- by the time I got round to fishing him out (had to get kids off to school, etc, so it was a couple of hours later), he was gone! This was two days ago and I've done two water changes since and I haven't found him. Perhaps he was eaten?! Granted, I have a lot of plants in there, but I did check through them and nothing!
<Could be a combination of things. Crooked spines typically appear either at birth if genetic or in older fish as a result of environmental stress and/or poor diet. Simply being old shouldn't cause this problem, but it might I suppose.>
Since he died in such an odd way, today I sat down to Google the hunchback syndrome and after reading about Fish TB for a couple of hours I am more than a little freaked-out, in particular as it can be passed to humans. As I said, I cleaned the tank twice in the past two days and I did discover a little wound (cuticle) on my hand, so that wound was definitely in contact with the water! In particular as I am pregnant I'm rather worried that I may have contracted something... Do you think it is likely the Danio died of Fish TB? He didn't appear to have any sores, etc. that I could detect, but then, that appears to be optional. He was quite big and I think I must have had him for at least 1.5 years so perhaps it was just old age? Or it was the dismal conditions that the tank was in for a while? I have today discovered that another of the remaining Danios has a slightly curved spine, although not nearly as bad as the one that died. He is also a rather large (so I'm guessing one of the older) Danios. So far he seems fine otherwise.
What is your opinion? Fish TB? Old age? Bad water and nutrition? Or some other weird and not so wonderful fish problem? And should I go to the doc to get this TB thing checked out?!
<If the aquarium is otherwise fine, and the fish all seem healthy now, I wouldn't worry. The Mycobacteria infection aquarists call Fish TB (probably erroneously) is likely latent in most tanks anyway, but provided the fish are healthy and well cared for, there's no particular reason to worry about it. Nonetheless, I would wait a good 6 weeks before adding any more fish. And if finding the time to maintain the tank is likely to be hard, then understocking the tank will really be a good idea.>
Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!!
Best regards,
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Skinny Disease and Loaches   9/11/11
Hi Neale,
How are you doing today? I will soon post my pictures of my new 125 gallon on the forum for all to enjoy. Question, please! I have purchased new fish, which are in quarantine. I have four new clown loaches (to keep the one I have company), and three Angelicas loaches (I plan on getting a couple more later). While I was continuing my research on these fish, just to always learn more about them, I came across many articles that say loaches are very susceptible to "Skinny or Wasting Disease". Great, problem is these specimen are so small, the clowns are about 1.5 inches, and the Angelicas are about an inch. How on earth can I tell if they have this disease when they are babies. They seem to have good muscle tone, and they move so quickly I can't get a good view.
<Wasting Disease is difficult to pin down but likely some sort of Mycobacteria infection. Fish with Wasting Disease simply fail to thrive: over the weeks they get thinner and thinner, and eventually die. Treatment is difficult, likely impossible, though the right cocktail of antibiotics, administered by a vet for the weight of the fish in question, could well work.>
I don't want to catch them individually and stress them out to get a better look, I just got them in from mail yesterday. So, should I assume they have parasites and treat them with PraziPro, or buy Levamisole?
<Many loach-keepers do "worm" their loaches upon purchase. By all means do so, but keep an eye out for abnormal reactions. Follow instructions carefully, and remove carbon while medicating. Providing extra oxygen is often helpful.>
I also have Jungle Bacteria Food, that says it treats wasting as well as other bacteria, etc. Sites suggest using Maracyn I and II. However, I don't want to mess up my good bacteria. What would you suggest? Sometimes the more I read the more anxiety I get, and look at my fish constantly trying to figure out if they are healthy. Thanks and have a pleasant day. Lu
<You're welcome, Neale.>

Flower Horn Skin Condition    9/6/11
Hi Crew
Eric King here and I have a question about my Flower Horn. Yesterday I was feeding him and I noticed that he is starting to develop some sort of skin condition (pics included).
<... 8 megs... What do we state we'll accept? Hundreds of Kbytes. Back to go w/ you>
He has some patches on his skin that are milky in appearance and starting to slough off. This started 2 days ago and the patches look to be spreading across the length of his body. I am thinking it is some sort of Fungal infection. My water parameters are all good, Ammonia is 0ppm, Nitrites are 0ppm, Nitrates are 0ppm,
<... no... How?>
PH is 8.0-8.5
<Too high>
and the water temp is 78F, water volume is 100 gallons and I am doing a 25 gallon change every week treated with API Stress Coat fish and tap water conditioner, and adding API Aquarium Salt
<Why? Not needed or suggested>
at rate of one tablespoon per 5 gallons and adding API Stress Zyme biological filtration booster.
Tank has two Magnum 350Pro Canister filters and Bio wheels filtering 700 gallons per hour total, filters are filled with Marineland Activated Carbon and Zeolite.
P.S. I have been having a problem with him eating, He hasn't eaten on a consistent basis in probably two months. I feed him Hikari Cichlid Gold and Hikari Cichlid Staple twice a day but he really doesn't eat all the time.
<... Likely environmental... the pH is too high; however you're rendering the water NO3 is likely toxic... See WWM re FH systems, chemical filtrants for nitrate poisoning. Bob Fenner>

Flower Horn Skin Condition   9/7/11
<... this has already been responded to>
Hi Crew
Eric King here and I have a question about my Flower Horn. Yesterday I was feeding him and I noticed that he is starting to develop some sort of skin condition (pics included). He has some patches on his skin that are milky in appearance and starting to slough off. This started 2 days ago and the patches look to be spreading across the length of his body. I am thinking it is some sort of Fungal infection. My water parameters are all good, Ammonia is 0ppm, Nitrites are 0ppm, Nitrates are 5 ppm, PH is 8.2
<Too high>
and the water temp is 78F, water volume is 100 gallons and I am doing a 25 gallon change every week treated with API Stress Coat fish and tap water conditioner, and adding API Aquarium Salt at rate of one tablespoon per 5 gallons and adding API Stress Zyme biological filtration booster.
Tank has two Magnum 350Pro Canister filters and Bio wheels filtering 700 gallons per hour total, filters are filled with Marineland Activated Carbon and Zeolite.
P.S. I have been having a problem with him eating, He hasn't eaten on a consistent basis in probably two months. I feed him Hikari Cichlid Gold and Hikari Cichlid Staple twice a day but he really doesn't eat all the time.
<Environmental. Read here:
and all the linked files above. BobF>

Re: BobF's wonderful customer relation skills.... FH hlth., "good" consumerism    9/7/11
<... Am sending this along to the gentler Neale for his further input.
Cheers, B>
<<Hi Eric. When fish produce patches of slime the usual explanation is that there is some sort of irritant on their skin. Most of the time that irritant is chemical: perhaps ammonia and/or nitrite, but potentially also
things like copper or even (improperly used) medication. Sometimes external parasites are to blame, including "Costia" (properly, Ichthyobodo spp.) and Trichodina spp. Such infections are often called Slime Disease. Now, Slime Disease appears to be latent on many fish, but becomes problematic when
fish become stressed. You often see it on newly imported livestock that don't adapt to the cramped conditions in tropical fish shops, for example loaches and pufferfish. But it can also appear on fish at home if they become stressed, so reviewing water quality, water chemistry, temperature, oxygenation and social behaviour (tankmates) are all critical. There are commercial medications that treat Slime Disease; I find these work best alongside saltwater dips. Cheers, Neale.>>
FH hlth., Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection   9/7/11
HI Crew, this is Eric and I was wondering, do you guys have an article giving detailed instructions on setting up a hospital tank? I have finally narrowed down what my Flowerhorn is suffering from and now I need to get it treated but I have never had to set up a hospital tank and I want to make darn sure I get it perfect. Any info would be greatly appreciated!!!
<Hello Eric. Chilodonella is difficult to treat, and it's also difficult (impossible?) for hobbyists to distinguish between Chilodonella, Ichthyobodo (=Costia) and any of the other so-called Slime Disease parasites. So you need to be open minded here. Normally, a good, reliable Whitespot medication works against them. Usually, salt at 3 g/l to as high as 5 g/l will also eliminate early cases. One of the best things you can ALSO do alongside either of these treatments is to do seawater baths, i.e., dip the fish in water with a salinity of 35 g/l but the same temperature as your aquarium. Dip the fish for at least 2 minutes and preferably as long as possible, 5, 10 or even 20 minutes being possible. Remove the fish before it becomes obviously distressed, e.g., by rolling over. Saltwater dips kill parasites on the skin, and the longer the dip, the more parasites are killed. The saltwater also helps to clear up the irritation and reduce the mucous. Do at least one dip, and I like to do another after 2-3 days.
If your Flowerhorn lives by itself, there is no need to set up a hospital tank. Flowerhorn cichlids are not sociable fish and aren't usually kept with other fish. Details on quarantine tanks are elsewhere on WWM; the rules for marine tanks hold here, except, obviously, you don't use seawater but freshwater!
Cheers, Neale.>
re: Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection   9/7/11

I have a medicine that contains Methylene blue, and formalin.
<Formalin can work. But it is EXTREMELY toxic to your fish, your filter, and you! So use with extreme caution as instructed on the packaging. I would not use it.>
Will that work and if I treat the entire tank what would I need to do after the treatment, i.e. recycling the tank.
<I would use a safer medication, e.g., eSHa 2000 here in the UK, that would not harm the filter. In your own region/country there may be alternative medications available. Cheers, Neale.>
Nitrates too high (RMF?)<<Already wrote this fellow re the root of his issue...>>   9/7/11

Hello Crew, this is Eric
I'm having a problem with Nitrate levels in my Flowerhorn Cichlids tank. I have a 75 Gallon tank and my water parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Ph is 8.2 which I know is high and I am currently trying to lower it with Ph Down, tank temp is 77F. I did a 50% water change today and vacuumed the gravel and my Nitrates are at 40 ppm, ml/G. My question is should I keep doing a large water change every day until that level drops down to minimal?
<Yes, that's the easiest approach. Also cut down feeding, and also make sure the aquarium is reasonable for the size of your fish. An adult Flowerhorn can be 25 cm/10 inches long, and a big, fat fish at that -- so 75 gallons isn't a huge amount of water. What's the nitrate level of your tap water? If your tap water contains 40 mg/l nitrate, then doing water changes will NEVER take the nitrate level in the aquarium below that. For cichlids, 40-50 mg/l is just about the maximum they tolerate without long-term problems. They are, for example, much less tolerant of nitrate than Goldfish. You really want 20 mg/l nitrate or less. If you have 0 mg/l nitrate in your tap water, and 40 mg/l nitrate in the aquarium, then changing 25% will lower the nitrate to 30 mg/l, 50% to 20 mg/l, and so on. Obviously big water changes expose fish to the risk of temperature and water chemistry changes, so there's a balance to strike between adding new water and your ability to keep temperature and water changes nearly constant. Small, daily water changes of 10-20% will be safer than changing 75% once a week, though some advanced aquarists certainly take the second approach knowing that they can keep temperature and water chemistry very steady.>
I have Bio Wheels on my tank with two Magnum 350 Pro Canister Filters that are both filled with Activated Carbon and Zeolite. I understand for reading on the site that Bio Wheels can add a lot of Nitrates to the tank.
<Not sure this is true, but it's often stated. I think it's perhaps better to say that a DIRTY canister filter can cultivate its own "ecology" of microorganisms that may contribute nitrate to the water, and certainly compared to sand filters or live rock filters there's no active removal of nitrate. But a well-maintained canister filter that's rinsed regularly is a PERFECTLY good filter choice for cichlid aquaria.>
I am also adding 1Tblsp per 5 gallons of water of Aquarium salt to the replacement water when I do my water changes, could that be contributing to the high nitrate levels.
<No, but salt isn't a magic bullet either.>
The only reason I am adding the salt is per my Veterinarians recommendation.
<Salt reduces the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate, so in some ways its useful. But it's also a potential stress on freshwater fish, especially soft water fish. I doubt this concentration of salt will have much negative harm on a Central American hybrid cichlid, but do be aware that some hard water cichlids from the Rift Valley of Africa are prone to "Malawi Bloat" when kept in tanks where salt is added carelessly. There isn't any compelling reason to use salt in the long term, so once your fish is better, and once you've got nitrate levels to 20 mg/l or less, I'd slowly phase out salt usage by adding less and less over a few months. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection   9/7/11

Ok one last question, this white spot problem started about a week after I introduced a large Pleco into the Flowerhorns tank, would it be a good idea to just get rid of the Pleco?
<Any new fish has the risk of bringing in Whitespot, so in that sense, the damage is already done. But in a 75-gallon system an adult Pleco and an adult Flowerhorn will be producing a LOT of waste, likely explaining your high nitrate levels. Furthermore, there are lots of reports of Plecs "sucking" onto the sides of big, slow-moving cichlids such as Oscars, so that's another reason not to keep them together. Flowerhorn cichlids are simply much easier kept alone, where you can very precisely maintain the
right water chemistry and water quality. If you must keep them with other livestock, you'd really want a tank bigger than 75 gallons. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection   9/7/11

Also, Neale, I have now way of checking salinity levels so any idea how much aquarium salt I need to add to 16 gallons of water to get 35g/l?
<You can use Google to convert grammes into ounces and litres in gallons.
On my web site there's a program called "Brick Calc" that will do this for you, converting g/l into ounce/US gallon and comparing these to specific gravity and % seawater. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection

ok Neale, I am trying to find something in the USA that is equivalent to the eSHa 2000, any ideas, or maybe what types of chemicals I should be looking for.
<Seachem Paraguard and Mardel Maracide are the sort of thing I'd be looking at.>
I can get products from a company called Mardel that treats skin problems.
I am really at a loss for what to do here cause my Flowerhorn has had this problem for 4 days now and it just keeps regressing as the days go on.
<Do try the salt dip; can clear up the mucous within hours, and that's a good sign Costia or similar is the problem.>
I've spent the last 4 days just trying to figure out what is going on. Also I would need a product that I can treat the hole tank with and after treatment just replace my carbon
<Remove these while medicating.>
and filter pads and do a water change.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection   9/7/11

Oh ok so I would actually add 35grams of aquarium salt per litre of water.
<Yes. Do read:
35 g/l looks A LOT. But it's actually how much there is in seawater. Hold the fish in the water with a net. If it thrashes about, or turns upside-down, then remove and return to the aquarium. Be cautious, but don't
be frightened: this is one of the safest ways to treat fish. Do read the section on salt in the aquarium fish health book of your choice. Signing off for the next 48 hours! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection

Oh ok so I would actually add 35grams of aquarium salt per litre of water.
<Yes. Do read:
35 g/l looks A LOT. But it's actually how much there is in seawater. Hold the fish in the water with a net. If it thrashes about, or turns upside-down, then remove and return to the aquarium. Be cautious, but don't
be frightened: this is one of the safest ways to treat fish. Do read the section on salt in the aquarium fish health book of your choice. Signing off for the next 48 hours! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hospital Tank for a Flowerhorn suffering from Ciliate Chilodonella infection   9/10/11

Before u go I picked up two medicines, Mardel Maroxy, and Mardel biospheres.
Sound ok?
<Not familiar with them. Check with manufacturer (packaging or website) to see if they treat Costia or Slime Disease. Cheers, Neale.>

Salt Dips on my Flowerhorn Cichlid and Maracide treatments   9/11/11
Hi Crew, Neale to be specific.
Neale I was wondering how many times I should do the salt dips on my Flowerhorn Cichlid? I did one today (9/8/11) and I am going to do another one on 9/10/11.
<Sounds fine. Do another a week later if you need to, but it may not be necessary.>
The one I did today he only tolerated it for about 5 minutes before he started showing serious signs of distress. Also with the Maracide treatment the instructions state to do the treatment for day one, day 3, and day five, should I stop after day five or continue to do the treatments until everything clears up?
<Follow the instructions! If the Slime Disease is still there, do a 25% water change, then the following day another 25% water change, and then on that second day, start another treatment (three doses across five days).>
Thanks to all of you at WWM for all the help, and the wealth of knowledge!!
Thanks again
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Saltwater Dips   9/11/11

Hi Crew specifically Neale, Eric King here again and here is a question about Saltwater Dips. I am making a dip for my Flowerhorn Cichlid and am wondering if I can use Aquarium Salt for this or if I need to be using a Marine Salt Mix?
<Either can work, but aquarium salt rather than marine salt mix will be better and cheaper. Non-iodised cooking salt will work, too. Cheers, Neale.>
Flowerhorn Cichlid with Slime Coat Disease and holes in Head and Lateral Line... water quality

High Tank Nitrates and HITH   9/11/11
Hi Crew, This is Eric. I have been talking back and forth with Neale about my problems and I know he is out of the office for the next few days but I have an important question. My Nitrate levels in my tanks are very high, 80 ppm ml/g and I am going to do 50% water changes every day till the levels get back to acceptable, but I need to know should I do these water changes before I start treating the tank with Maracide or after I treat with Maracide?
< Check your tap water for nitrate levels. In agricultural areas the tap water nitrate readings may be very high so changing water may not do too much good. Getting the nitrates down below 20 ppm would be a big help. If you fish is in a severe condition I would still start treatment despite the nitrate levels.>
Also I am going to do Salt Water Dips, should I start these right away or wait till the tanks water parameters are back to acceptable?
< Check the condition of the fish. The disease already has the fish stressed. If the salt bath stresses the fish out even more then I would wait until the fish builds up it strength.>
Thanks a lot to everyone on this site for all the great help and input.
< Thank you for your kind words.-Chuck>

Re: Salt Dips on my Flowerhorn Cichlid and Maracide treatments   9/13/11
Hi Crew, Neale to be specific, I am treating my Flowerhorn Cichlid for Slime Coat Disease and today is the last day of treatment with Maracide. He looks to be getting a lot better, activity has gone back to normal, his colors are coming back and the Slime Coat Disease looks to be almost gone.
My question is, should I continue to do a second round of treatment with the Maracide to be on the safe side, or could that be detrimental to the fish. Thanks for all the help and wealth of info, it is greatly
<Do finish off the course of treatment. That's usually the best approach.
Glad all is working well. Cheers, Neale.>

Concerning possible wasting disease or other microbacterial agent   3/12/11
I've had 2 Aquariums with crystal clear water and happy fish for a couple of months now, a 20 gallon and 10 gallon (the latter as quarantine now).
<I see.>
My setup includes airstones and plenty of hiding places with plastic props and plants in both tanks, standard and 150 watt adjustable heater, Aqua-Tech standard carbon-filter media for the 10 - Fluval 20 (3 tier media) for the 20 Gallon [They are both unexceptional]
I've been using Nutrafin cycle and conditioner as well as aquarium salt, seldom more than 1/4 tablespoon per 10 gal on water changes.
<The addition of salt on a regular basis does no good and may do some harm to soft water fish. Do, please, understand that freshwater fish come from habitats without salt. The addition of salt was something done during the 50s and 60s because it seemed to help keep hardy fish alive in the poor conditions often provided. Salt does indeed reduce nitrite and nitrate toxicity. But we don't keep the same hardy fish any longer -- Acaras, for example, and large barbs -- and instead you're keeping far more delicate species for which the use of salt is merely one more stress factor. Note that no, and I mean NO, modern aquarium book recommends the routine addition of salt to freshwater aquaria except under specific situations, e.g., for treating Whitespot.>
My water parameters have roughly always been 7.7PH , 0.03 or less Ammonia/Nitrite.
<So not zero, and non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite are bad. Despite what beginners think, there aren't "good", "okay", and "bad" levels of ammonia and nitrite. If you have zero levels, that's good, and if you don't have zero levels, that's bad. Yes, higher levels of ammonia and nitrite will kill your fish more quickly than lower levels, but that's sort of like comparing a slow-acting poison against a fast-acting poison -- neither is actually safe!>
Been meaning to check water hardness.
<Hardness is crucial, and if anything, much more important than pH.>
Substrate vacuum during water change every 5-7 Days. Food: freeze dried blood worms as well as brine shrimp, I have cichlid pellets, Pleco logs, and color enhancing and normal flakes.
Casualties of my ineptitude: 6 Neon Tetras,
<Need cool, soft water to do well.>
1 Female Cherry Barb, 2 Rubber-Nose Pleco,
<Chaetostoma sp., requires a very specific cool, oxygen-rich environment.>
1 Zebra Danio
<Oh dear.>
Currently Alive: 20 Gallon - 3 Blood Fin Tetras, 2 Corys, 2 Chinese Algae Eaters,
<These are aggressive and very large fish that need at least 55 gallons per specimen, and have NO place in this community tank.>
2 Zebra Danios,, Male Cherry Barb, Red Finned Shark, Bala Shark,
<A big, very active, schooling fish that needs a couple hundred gallons for a healthy sized group of 5+ specimens; even a singleton, which would be a cruel way to keep them, needs well over 55 gallons.>
Yoyo loach, Male and female Swordtail,
<Swordtails need cool, oxygen-rich water much different to, say, Gouramis or Bettas.>
2 Male Gouramis - (Red dwarf and Healthy Paradise) and 2 Male Betas
<Bettas don't belong in community tanks, and certainly not with Gouramis.>
10 Gallon - 2 Male Gourami's (Blue powder and sick paradise fish)
<Paradisefish are not Gouramis and need a subtropical aquarium; maintain at 18-22 C/64-72 F.>
I know these breeds are probably not optimal community members and thus introduce stressor risk.
<"Probably not optimal" is an understatement!>
They have rarely ever been seen fighting or exhibiting stressed out behavior.
<Too busy getting sick, perhaps?>
Keep in mind the pet-store I got a bunch of these from has a lot of issues, you guys would be appalled, the lady that works there even speculated the Gourami tank had wasting disease I wish I would have known so prior to this nightmare.
<While I sympathise to a degree, none of what I've said above should be a surprise. A good aquarium book would cost you $10, or nothing at all if you visited the public library. Most aquarium web sites are variable in terms of information, there are some excellent ones written by genuine experts, like this one, PlanetCatfish, Loaches.com, SeriouslyFish.com, among others.>
It all started about 3 weeks ago when I noticed Ich had developed on 3 of my Neons tetras. I feel pretty terrible since I thought I could just go ahead and use a product to solve this without doing any research. I used Ich Guard which was pretty rough, since I lost all my neon tetras within a couple days. This also probably weakened all the fish by stressing them out with the daily water changes, messing with the nitrogen cycle, etc. I did that for 7 days; At which point the first signs of what appears microbacterial started to manifest on my brown paradise Gourami.
<Hmm'¦ would say more stress-related than anything else.>
I thought he had started getting picked on by some of the other fish because his tailfin looked nipped and he started staying at the bottom, had a loss of appetite. I moved some of the fish I thought were aggressive to the 20. It kept getting worse and I kept moving fish till he was all alone. His fins have degenerated to an almost ridiculous point, he looks like he's been attacked along the body but there wasn't any other fish to have done so.
<I see.>
Then I made the mistake of using Melafix for 5 days, again without research (consequently my two Plecos died shortly on the first day, as well as the female cherry barb despite healthy looking conditions during the Ich treatment). I recently read Melafix is bad for labyrinth fish lungs.
<Read this where? Melafix is at worst useless, but I doubt it's actually poisonous. Has been used widely to treat Bettas, which are labyrinth fish. Since the labyrinth organ (in the head, not the lungs) accepts air, not water, a labyrinth fish is more likely to be damaged by fumes such as paint, cigarette smoke, bug spray, etc.>
Furthermore kinda grasped from some of your organizations faq's that it isn't strong enough as an anti-bacterial agent for defeating most microbacteria.
<Is indeed more of an antiseptic ointment than a genuine cure for systemic infections. At best, it weakens certain bacteria making it easier for the fish's own immune system to work quickly. Would have no problems using Melafix to treat a fish that was damaged by transport or fighting, but would not use Melafix once a fish had a visible infection.>
Basically he's been getting worse, he eats but lightly compared to how he used to. One of the zebra Danios died yesterday with signs of emaciation. I saw what appeared to be a fuzz ball in the middle of one of my blue powder's feelers as well. It looks a little frayed where the ball was and past that the feeler is now missing, he had a lesion like the brown paradise but that's healed up nicely, hopefully it doesn't progress. All of the fish still alive came into contact at one point with the brown paradise. I'm clueless as to how to proceed, furthermore my 20 gallon has just had a confirmed Ich sighting 3 days ago, at which point I bought an adjustable heater which I've had at 86, 89 and now back at 86 for the past three days..
<Do bear in mind Paradisefish need cool conditions, as do some of your other fish, so turning the heater up can, will stress those species.>
Do you guys have any idea how I should proceed in getting this under control?
<You need a much bigger aquarium for many of these fish, and perhaps more than one aquarium, one for the cool water species and one for the warm water species.>
I've read heat and salt could treat Ich, 10 days of 86, how much salt is safe to use?
<Normally 2g/l is used.>
Should I adjust my PH to 7.0?
<If you're asking me about adjusting pH, you clearly don't know enough to do this safely.>
Is water hardness important?
<Here's the thing: hardness is EXTREMELY important; pH hardly at all. Beginners look at pH because it seems easy to understand and you can buy cheap potions that claim the change pH. But beginners end up killing their fish by following this line of reasoning. The first thing is ALWAYS to lower hardness using RO or rainwater, and then once you have the optimal hardness for your collection of fish, you MAY use a pH potion to STABILISE the pH at the chosen value.>
What sort of medicinal remedies should I try to make my tanks safe.
<Least of your problems.>
How badly will said medicines affect beneficial bacteria in the tank?
<Not if used properly.>
If you could provide any answers or input on these questions or anything you've read so far I would forever be in your debt, thank you for taking the time to read this.
<Happy to help.>
Yours truly, Guy
<The bottom line here, Guy, is that your tanks are overstocked and badly stocked. What tends to happen when you do this is that your fish popular "dies back" to the level the tank will support. Yes, bacterial infections may be involved, and yes, isolating sick fish in a well-maintained hospital tank and treating accordingly could help them. But without fixing the underlying problems with this aquarium you're unlikely to turn things around. Nature ALWAYS wins. If you dump a whole bunch of randomly selected fish into an aquarium, the ones worst adapted to that tank and its water conditions will die, and you'll be left with just a few species. Often these are the ones you SHOULD have bought to start with. Do have a read here:
If you tell me what your water chemistry is, I can suggest some sensible species for 10 and 20 gallon tanks. For now though, your main task is rehoming these fish and/or moving them to new, better aquaria of your own. Cheers, Neale.>

Mycobacterium (RMF, my final paragraph, a second opinion?)<<>>  1/27/11
I am having some trouble with a few of my fish tanks. I am well versed in the hobby but everyone needs help at times. I am pretty sure I am dealing with a Mycobacterium infection.
<Oh dear'¦>
Of which type I am unsure of .
<And realistically, we can't tell you either.>
No means at this time to do or get a pathology report. My tanks are 20 gallon high, 30 gallon standard, 10 gallon standard. 5 gallon hex, one gallon I use as a quarantine tank with air driven filtration, one gallon beta tank with air driven filtration . All my main tanks run with at least two bio filters 30 gallon 2 power filters, lots of circulation and air wands, stones. water changes of 25%to 50% every second week. ph runs 7. 4-7. 6, high ph 7. 4-7. 8, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, KH 71. 6 ppm GH at 27. pH runs a little high but all with in range of fish being able to adapt.
<Hmm'¦ actually, the fact you have quite a lot carbonate hardness while also having quite a high pH is unusual and bears further investigation. Remember, pH doesn't matter -- hardness does. Fish "feel" hardness because it affects osmoregulation. By contrast, provided pH is somewhere within the range 6-8, it hardly matters at all, at least to fish. With that said, pH does affect biological filtration, so the "ideal" pH for most aquaria is around 7.5 because below 7, and certainly below 6, biological filtration slows down.>
Since I do water changes often and watch my parameters, I do not worry to much about nitrates. Also live plants in most of my tanks. So here's the problem. I have lost fish in the 20 gallon tetra tank, 3 Sepia Tetras, 2 Blood fin Tetras, 1 x-ray Tetra recently. Just so you know at one time I had 22 small neon tetras in this tank. I lost all but 2 .
<Neons dying for no apparently reason is not that uncommon'¦>
Those two still reside in the tank and school with my 5 glow-light tetras. My guess is they had either problems from inbreeding (bad gene's) or neon tetra disease, now I'm not so sure.
In my 30 gallon I have lost one (hybrid)rainbow fish recently. The symptoms:( this is all from my 20 gallon tank. ) Blood fin tetra #1: body turned a cloudy white. For about 2-3 weeks was still eating normally. Then started going to the back of the tank, 1 inch below water surface and would not eat. Soon after lost all color in the fins and at this time the fish started to twitch and swim erratically, keeping it's body almost diagonal with tail down and head up. At this time I removed him from the tank and quarantined him in a bare tank which I added meth. blue and Metronidazole too. Did water changes and had him at room temp for 4-5 days. He would not eat but showed some improvement. Then the fish died. Bloodfin tetra #2: On the same day after finding the first Bloodfin tetra dead in quarantine. I soon found in the main tank another Bloodfin that was eating and acting fine dead . This fish still had all the color in it's fins and it's body was of a normal color. Both fish were full-bodied not looking skinny at all. The x-ray tetra: Had been showing signs of a problem for about the same amount of time as the blood fin tetra. 2-3 weeks the fish tried to eat but would spit out the food. The fish's body was elongated (meaning not deep bodied as normal) Very thin and the fish swam weakly. This is the same as one of the septra tetras I lost about 2 months prior to this. As with the septra tetra fins were fully erect and no real loss of color in body or on fins (only with the x-ray tetra I could clearly see the back bone, it had a slight kink toward the tail fin). I quarantined him at the same time as the first Bloodfin . In separate tanks with the same treatment meth-blue and Metronidazole.
<As you're discovering, there are no medications for Mycobacterium infections.>
The tanks used to quarantine these fish are 1/2 litter, put in a quit area. After a few days at room temp (68-70 degrees). I decided to do a new tank, not knowing how long treatment would be and after no success with the blood fin at room temperature. So, I made a new tank 1/2 liter with new gravel A small amount of clean peat moss and an air driven filter I made (I make sure all materials used are fish safe). with only filter floss in it's chamber and an incandescent lamp light to keep tank warm at (74-76 degrees) at a constantly level temp. did water changes every day or at least every 30 hours. Fish looked better then developed a black spot on side just above the swim-bladder. Still would not eat, tried everything flake, frozen, and cleaned black worms. It tried but would not keep it down. I was still treating with same meds. But then tried an anti-parasite as well. One of those fizz tablet ones. Their low dose and well at this point what could it hurt. I Used the right amount for the tank size just so you don't think I put a full tablet in. Did only one treatment. No effect, so did a water change and keep going with the other treatments . 2 days later he finally succumbed to the illness and died. Today 01/25/2011: I found my bristle nose Pleco dead. Why I do not know no symptoms and yes he had plenty to eat. I feed my fish well, with many different foods flake, frozen brine/blood worms, live clean black worms, algae wafers and bok-choy or romaine lettuce. I washed them very well for the big apple snail and the Pleco. I also use incandescents for lighting that tank, for algae growth and subdued lighting. The tank temp runs from 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. When I saw the Pleco upside down this morning I removed it form the tank immediately eyes were still clear. The underside was soft with a worm on it. I examined the fish buy cutting it open to see if there were more worms inside. WOW what a smell. I had seen him a day ago cleaning the apple snails shell. He must have died and got behind something. Inside I found nothing but soft liquefied organs my guess the worm is a left over lucky black worm, scavenging. Looked at temp (72 degrees) I did water tests. Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, PH 7. 4, high PH 7. 8. What ever this pathogen is it just killed a very hardy fish. Now I am worried. Also just so you know with every water change I always use a water conditioner. That removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals. On to the 30 gallon Tank: The rainbow fish: He looked a Little bullied buy other rainbows or giant Danios. So I put him in a tank net breeder to get his legs (so to say) back up. He was doing fine, so after a few day, I released him back in main tank. I started to shut down the lights at night to save on energy costs and the next day found him dead. I think it was from the bullying. Rainbow fish #2: (He died because of a dumb mistake by me). A long time ago he got fin rot. I treated it and he recovered, but the fish's fins never grew back to there one time glory. Even after 8 months . At this time he looked a little bullied as well, so I quarantined him and treated him with some meth blue. It went well, after a week I stopped treatment. I kept up water changes for another 4 days. Also at this time my wife was having trouble, she has MS and then the trouble with the fish from the 20 gallon started. I needed his little tank and also felt he was okay to go back in the main tank. Thinking the water temp was close and ph as well. I netted him and placed him in the net breeder, so other fish would not jump on him. I COULD SMACK MYSELF NOW!!!! I assumed wrong and found him dead the next morning. I did this at night not watching him long before going to bed. He most likely died from either temp or PH shock. WHAT WAS I THINKING. Not accumulating correctly. my only defense is I was worried about my wife (at least she's still kicking) and the new sick fish. I have lost many fish being in the hobby and try to learn from all my mistakes, but this problem in my 20 gallon has me stumped. So these are my questions. #1 : if it's a Mycobacterium infection would it be best to treat the fish in a separate bare bones tank with Kanamycin Sulfate for 30 days?
<Must admit, I'd euthanise.>
While doing this, break down the tank treating it with bleach. (this is from Wikipedia).
Chlorine bleach is another accepted liquid sterilizing agent. Household bleach consists of 5. 25% sodium hypochlorite. It is usually diluted to 1/10 immediately before use; however to kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis it should be diluted only 1/5, and 1/2. 5 (1 part bleach and 1. 5 parts water) to inactivate prions. The dilution factor must take into account the volume of any liquid waste that it is being used to sterilize. [23] Bleach will kill many organisms immediately, but for full sterilization it should be allowed to react for 20 minutes. Bleach will kill many, but not all spores. It is also highly corrosive. Bleach decomposes over time when exposed to air, so fresh solutions should be made daily. Will this damage any of my equipment ? How many times should I rinse or how long should I soak after to get out all the bleach? If I use bleach, like it says I should. Should I boil it after to help remove any remaining bacteria or bleach that avoided the rinse or treatment with bleach? What about porous rocks or bog-wood? Would this work on them and would they be safe after to use? #2: would it be safer to clean the equipment and tank inside and out with Hibiclens (Chlorhexdine gluconate). Some sites say it works and others say it dose not against Mycobacterium. But the Hibiclens site says it's effective against Mycobacterium bovis. (here's what they say).
<I would not use bleach myself; I'd use hydrogen peroxide, which kills bacteria well, but breaks down to harmless water and oxygen within a few hours.>
Mycobacterium bovis is a slow-growing (16 to 20 hour generation time), aerobic bacterium and the causative agent of tuberculosis in cattle (known as bovine TB). Related to M. tuberculosis--the bacteria which causes tuberculosis in humans--M. bovis can also jump the species barrier and cause tuberculosis in humans. Also sites say when dealing with this pathogen, to wash after using Hibiclens. So, I would assume it kills this pathogen on hands hence it would be good to clean your fish tank with in this case? . I know, I know SOAP!!! But in this case only harsh methods work. After cleaning it with Hibiclens and rinsing very well and maybe also after, boiling the gravel , rocks and bog-wood . Then setting up the tank and treating the tank and equipment and whatever go's in tank. Gravel, bog-wood, rocks with out fish in it of course, with Gentamycin Sulfate. Running filters and stirring gravel at times, for 10 days. Then breaking down the tank again, rinsing everything and resetting it up, and then recycling the tank for fish with bacteria additive to help quicken cycling time. Then after cycle time is over, adding fish. #3: I know antibacterial soap is very poisonous to fish, due to it's main active ingredient Triclosan. But in this case would it work? If used in A high concentration and rinsed very, very well. I know in low concentrations it has no effect and might even make bacteria resistant to medications.
<I would not do this.>
#4: The apple snail, are they carriers of this type bacteria? If quarantined how long should it last to rid it of this type of bacteria? Can they be reintroduced to the tank afterword and can I be sure they will not reintroduce the pathogen? Can the apple snail be treated with the same meds as fish(I know this is along shot just thought I ask)? Are there any treatments the snail could have if it is a carrier or is infected? Any suggestions would be helpful(please obi wan your my only hope). Thanks Jason
<Jason, if this was me, I'd isolate all fish and snails I currently have to one aquarium. Provide good conditions and see what happens to them. I'd euthanise any that got sick. Realistically, they won't get better. I'd then sterilise everything else, or better yet, throw out stuff like gravel, filter media, plants, etc. that are cheap to replace. I'd rebuild those tanks from as close to scratch as possible so that there's NO cross-contamination from whatever used to be in the old tanks. This includes buckets, hoses and nets, though these can usually be bleached quite safely because they're easily rinses and not in permanent contact with your fish or aquarium water. Once up and running, I'd cycled the remaining tanks using some sort of fish-less method, and then I'd stock them slowly just as if they're new tanks. Yes, this'll take a while, 4+ weeks realistically, but I suspect this'll be less time-consuming and a lot cheaper than messing about with medications. Cheers, Neale.><<I'd take a look/see approach, not so drastic at this point... Mycobacteria are a good deal more common than many folks realize... and unless very potent, present with weakened organisms, in "poor circumstances", not generally a problem. I would however wear gloves, keep all cuts out of the systems involved, not mouth-siphon their water. RMF>>
Re: Mycobacterium (RMF, my final paragraph, a second opinion?)   1/28/11

<<I'd take a look/see approach, not so drastic at this point...
Mycobacteria are a good deal more common than many folks realize... and unless very potent, present with weakened organisms, in "poor circumstances", not generally a problem. I would however wear gloves, keep all cuts out of the systems involved, not mouth-siphon their water. RMF>>
<<<Don't disagree Bob, but where there have been such massive losses of livestock, I'd tend to confine all existing to one tank, if possible, and assume they're all infected. Do think starting again from a clean tank would be useful here. Cheers, Neale.>>>
>Am of (obviously) a different mind. There is/was no definitive testing for "whatever" the real cause of losses were here. B<

Angel Fish   10/6/10
I looked around your website for information on angel fish diseases and such, but nothing I found seemed exactly what I was looking for. My brother has an angel fish that he had staying at our tank at home. It started swimming sideways and developed a white fuzz over his eye.
<Probably Finrot or Fungus, possibly a result of physical damage to the eye, either through fighting or clumsy handling when the fish was netted out.>
My brother thinks the eye was eaten by another fish (it used to mingle with other angel fish), and that it's just a fuzz growing over the wound.
<"Just" fuzz isn't the way I'd put; damage to the eye is serious, and you can easily end up with a one-eyed fish.>
He tried medicating it with something (I know, you probably need more info than that), and the fuzz went down for a little while, but it still swam sideways.
<Indeed. Fish use the direction of light to determine up and down. Normally both eyes receive equal amounts of light from above. But if one eye is damaged or blocked with "fuzz", the fish might get the wrong signals, and compensate by swimming off to one side.>
Now my brother is on vacation and I am house sitting. His angel fish was moved back to his apartment into a tank by itself. When I went to feed his fish this evening, the fuzz had developed into a full on bubble of fuzz covering his eye.
<This is much, much more serious.>
I tried texting my brother to see if he knew of this change, but he didn't respond. I don't want to kill his fish, but I feel bad for the thing, it has to be suffering, right?
<"Suffering" is a difficult word to use here. There's a tendency among some people to use "suffering" as an excuse to kill a fish that's sick so they can simply go buy another one. Such people have no particular interest in the welfare of the fish and won't spend money on medications; if a fish gets sick, it's like a scratched CD or a leaky teapot -- you throw it out and buy another one. Other people will medicate fish, but understand that at some point euthanasia becomes the more humane option because the fish can no longer be treated or even if it is treated, it's quality of life will be very low. I can't make this decision for you, but I will state this. Your fish could probably be treated with an antibiotic; a good combination is using Maracyn and Maracyn 2 at the same time, the two different drugs generally treating a wide range of diseases. Epsom salt helps to reduce swelling when used at a dose of 1 to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons, but it is NOT a cure by itself, and shouldn't be used as such. All it does is help the antibiotics work faster. Since this infection is clearly a bacterial one, and the swelling followed on from the initial fuzzy infection, the use of antibiotics is doubly important here.>
Any ideas? I could send pictures if that would help.
<Yes. But do note we ask for pictures up to about 500 KB in size, so don't send multi-megabyte files fresh from your camera!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Angel Fish  10/8/10

Thank you so much for your timely reply, I can't reach my brother about his fish at all and I'm getting pretty worried.
<As you should be. This fish is suffering from a fungal infection. Treat as per fungus. Be sure to remove carbon from the filter if you use it. Carbon removes medication.>
I checked on them after work again tonight and I noticed white "fuzz" (as I've been calling it), starting to grow on the rocks and such inside the tank.
<Fungus consumes organic matter. It doesn't matter if that is damaged muscle and skin, uneaten fish food, or faeces. If you're seeing fungus in the aquarium, it's very badly looked after. I mean, filthy. Too many fish, or too much food, or not properly cleaned. My guess is the tank is poorly filtered and your brother doesn't make an effort to keep the tank clean.>
I'm going to go back over and take some pictures to send to you, then go and see if there is any place open selling the medication you suggested.
Here are some photos of the eye that I took. I noted that the temperature of the tank was about 78 degrees Fahrenheit, if that matters.
<That's fine for Angelfish.>
I saw a bottle of QuickCure for Ick/Parasites near the old tank that the fish was being treated in. I think my brother may have been using that. My mom thinks that my brother was using Fungus Guard, which claims to clear fungus and bacteria.
<Should certainly treat against Fungus, preferably with an antibiotic as well.>
Whatever he used, it worked a little bit and I remember the white "fuzz" on the eye went down, but now it's far worse than before. I'm going to go out to look for the medication you suggested, hopefully it will be a solution.
Thank you so much for all your help!
<I fear the eye is lost, but there's no reason the fish should die.>
Thanks again!
<Treat quickly, clean the tank, improve living conditions, and you should be home free. Oh, and whack your brother with a rolled-up copy of Tropical Fish Hobbyist when he gets back. He's a very bad boy. Cheers, Neale.>

Fungus won't go away and is spreading. (RMF, do you think tea-tree oil is to blame here?) <<I do>> 1/27/10
Hi again, folks,
Please help me with a disease issue I am having! I have done tons of research, talked to my lfs, and spoken to the makers of Mardel products trying to figure out how to treat my fish. Other than water problems being the consistent thread, no one treats the same problem the same way, with the same med, and I am floundering, and my fish are getting sicker.
<Indeed. Almost all fish disease comes down to water quality issues. So that's a pretty safe approach to take when diagnosing and solving problems.
But it doesn't explain all problems.>
I tested all of my water parameters today and everything is good. 4 month old, 75 gal, well planted tank with 2 hang on back filters, pumping 750 gallons an hour. PH 8.0, 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, GH 18-20, KH 4-6, CO2 at
about 20, (I am using a yeast conductor) Iron at 0. I have used Flourish once, 2-3 weeks ago and again this week, to fertilize, (per instructions)and Flora24, a daily mineral supplement. I do a 30-40% water change every week and vacuum the top layer of gravel. Of the 4 carbon filters, only one was older than a month. It is stocked with 60 inches of fish, Praecox and Boesemanni Rainbows, 5 Congo Tetras, 2 Golden Wonder Killifish, 1 SAE, 2 Bronze Corys, and 3 Blue Rams. I feed a well mixed diet of high color flakes, Cichlid pellets, frozen Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, Spirulina and Bloodworms, and the occasional algae wafers, alternating daily. It's possible I overfeed.
<Not an ideal mix of fish, but unlikely the critical issue here. Why not ideal? Because, for example, Bronze Corydoras want much cooler water than Blue Rams, and again, Blue Rams need much softer and more acidic water than most every other community fish on the market. Picking fish suited to one set of environmental conditions is key to avoiding problems.>
The tank was doing great, fish color was good, my Blue Rams had laid 3 batches of eggs in the tank and 1 batch had already hatched. They have since been moved to my smaller tank to avoid medicating them, and 8 are still alive and thriving. All fish were healthy. Then I went to my lfs to get another pair of Corys, some snails and a Red Marble Pleco because I still have some minor algae growth. This is a well trusted source for fish, mostly raised in-store, or locally raised, and all quarantined for two weeks before they will sell them. I have bought a number of my fish from
them and never had a problem. They are not so good at sick fish, though.
They say they rarely have sick fish.
Within a day of adding the new fish and snails, 2 of my Congo Tetras showed up with what appeared to be a whitehead on their sides. And one of them had what looked like a white fat lip on the inside. That same day one of the Corys died. The other Cory remains completely hidden and I have to keep digging in the tank to chase it out to make sure it's still alive. Also the Pleco looked like a chunk had been taken out of his top fin. Research indicated either true fungus or Columnaris. Since I couldn't accurately diagnose at that point, I didn't do anything immediately, and watched them.
By the next day one of them was showing signs of white cottony growth down his side. There had not been a visible injury prior to this so it didn't fit the true fungus, but since Columnaris will decimate a tank within days,
and all the other fish seemed fine, and it didn't fit those symptoms either, I started treating with API Pimafix for fungus. I continued treating the entire tank for 5 days and saw no signs of improvement , but no signs of additional illness either.
<Pimafix and Melafix are only somewhat useful. Let's be clear here.
Tea-tree oil has a mild antibacterial effect. There are no studies that tell us which bacteria tea-tree oil kills, and which ones it doesn't. So the manufacturers of these products can't give cast-iron guarantees on the efficacy of their products or precisely which diseases they treat.
Moreover, the antibacterial effect is mild, akin to an antiseptic you'd use yourself to clean a wound you gave yourself while gardening. They aren't antibiotics like you'd use to treat gangrene or pneumonia! Tea-tree oil isn't systemic, so won't treat internal infections. In short, it's a VERY limited medication, and some would argue, so limited and unpredictable as to be essentially useless.>
On the fifth day I started adding API Melafix to the treatment, and treated for two more days. There was still no improvement so I knew it was time to remove them from the population and moved the Congos to a 5 gal bucket as the Ram babies were in what would have been the hospital tank. I put in an air bubbler and heater and thermometer, and started treating with a stronger fungus med; Mardel's Maracyn-Oxy(brand new on the market). I
continued treating for 3 more days but the fungus continued to worsen. The folks at Mardel suggested an anti- bacterial addition to the treatment so I have added API EM Erythromycin, a broad range antibacterial med that treats both gram positive and some negative bacterial infections, made for cotton mouth and fungus.
<The problem with Erythromycin is that many bacteria are resistant to it.
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics has caused this. It's a classic example of evolution in action! Anyway, it wouldn't be my first choice. For early stage external bacterial infections formalin and organic dye antibacterials are pretty reliable, if a bit harsh on the fish. One brand I like is eSHa 2000, which works well against Finrot, Columnaris, and true Fungus, all at the same time. For more serious external infections and systemic infections, you often need to use a combination of antibiotics (Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 for example).>
It has been another two days and I still see no improvement in the fungus
on one Congo, however the other never got as bad and he appears to be fungus free. It's hard to tell in a bucket. Bad situation.
Unfortunately, I am now seeing fin rot on several of the fish in the big tank, the Pleco being the worse, and I am at a loss as to how to proceed.
Please, do you know what this might be or have any suggestions as to how to proceed? It has been almost 2 weeks since the first sign of illness. I can't believe the 2 Congos are even still alive, but I don't want to lose my whole tank to this.
I so appreciate your knowledge. It is hard to find truly knowledgeable, experienced folks to talk to about fish. And I still have many problems as I am a new hobbyist. Thank you so much!
I neglected some of the other fish observations that you would need in order to help me. (duh) All fish in the big tank are eating well and active. There is increased flashing and darting and some of them have stringy, white feces. I'm concerned about adding penicillin to the big tank for obvious reasons, so if that is necessary, any suggestions to help protect from a recycle would also be welcome.
<Do read here:
I fear you've wasted time with the tea-tree oil treatment, and that's the reason things are getting worse. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fungus won't go away and is spreading  -- 1/28/10
Hello Neale,
It seems like I always get you answering my questions. Thank you for your patience.
<Happy to help.>
I read your link and it was very informative, although heavy reading for a novice like myself.
<Unfortunately, microbiology is a difficult topic to simplify!>
I do still have a few questions, if you don't mind. While I was waiting, I began feeding the tank with Gel Tek tetracycline, (the only bottle of Gel Tek I could find anywhere) and most of the fish are eating it. No results yet as it has only been a day. The problem with this is that my bottom feeders, the Pleco and Corys, aren't getting it, nor can I accurately gauge who is getting how much.
<This is the value of hospital tanks.>
The Pleco, actually, doesn't eat anything I feed. Any suggestions for him?
<Move him to his own tank.>
Should I also treat the water simultaneously? I thought I could soak some cichlid pellets in the Gel Tek but usually my top feeders devour those as well. I tried this method with the Congos in the bucket and the pellets are being eaten when I'm not watching, so I don't know if both fish are getting meds, or how much. Also, I am concerned about overdosing as they are bathing in Maracyn-Oxy and Maracyn II. Perhaps I should stop the Oxy, since it didn't seem to help, and use Maracyn I and II only.
<This combination is quite widely used, with some success. But treating internal bacterial infections is hit-and-miss, simply because hobbyists can't diagnose the problem, and only if you know the bacterium involved can you decide on the right medication to use and the necessary concentration.
Here in the UK antibiotics aren't sold over the counter, and it isn't obvious to me that this causes any great loss of fish. The diseases like Finrot that can be treated reliably with most antibiotics can be treated just as well with antibacterials, formalin, and organic dyes. Conversely, the stuff you really do need antibiotics for, most of the internal infections, are difficult for hobbyists to dose, so the success rate isn't terribly high, especially with small fish.>
At this point I am throwing a "hail Mary" pass with these two. What your link didn't address is the issue of water changes while medicating. If one med doesn't seem to be working, should the water be changed between meds?
<In theory, yes. But in practice, organic chemicals like medications will be metabolised by bacteria within 24 hours, so it's usually not an issue either way.>
How much is sufficient. I don't want to waste time trying to draw the meds out with carbon filters.
<Agreed, but waiting 24 hours, and then doing a 50% water change should be sufficient.>
It's very difficult to figure out which meds can be used together, when to switch, etc. I hate putting anything in my tank, let alone adding what seem to me to be massive amounts of meds.
<Yes; mis- and over-use of medications can end up poisoning fish. But that's more of an issue with organic dyes, formalin and copper. Antibiotics shouldn't pose too much of a threat if used as instructed.>
Finally, is it possible for a fish to carry a disease without showing any signs until a stressor happens, and then infect a whole tank? Can snails carry disease that won't affect them, but will affect fish?
<A difficult question to answer. Aeromonas and Pseudomonas are ubiquitous in all aquaria, and only cause problems when a fish's immune system is weakened. They're the equivalent of E coli; mostly harmless to us, but under some circumstances can cause major health problems. On the other hand, Mycobacteria are "primary" rather than "opportunistic" bacteria, and likely to jump from one infected life form to the next. At least some Mycobacteria can infect humans, albeit rarely, so it wouldn't surprise me if a sick snail couldn't carry them too. But that said, most Mycobacteria infections probably do jump from a sick fish to a healthy fish.>
I ask because I need to figure out what is basically wrong, not who to blame. If my water conditions can suddenly turn sour and sicken my fish, I need to know what to fix.
<The problem with Mycobacteria infections is that there's no obvious reason why they cause problems except that connection between stress and a suppressed immune system. "Wasting disease" and "Fish TB" do seem to be a problem with certain species more than others -- Dwarf Gouramis and Fancy Guppies, for example. So while I would reflect on how the tank was maintained, what the fish was fed, and so on, I'd also be open minded about sheer bad luck. Did the sick fish come into the tank infected?>
Can the lead weights that are used to hold plants down cause a problem if not removed?
<Generally no; water changes will keep the lead concentration very low. At extremes of pH this may not be true, but ordinarily lead is harmless because a coating of lead oxide around the lead gets between the water and the lead.>
Can disease come in on frozen food?
<Now this is a VERY good question. Some retailers I have spoken to believe so, having seen Discus, for example succumb to mystery diseases after being fed wet-frozen bloodworms. So they no longer allow wet-frozen foods into their Discus tanks. In theory frozen foods should be relatively safe; while freezing doesn't kill bacteria, it does prevent food going off, and slows down the loss of vitamins. At least some wet-frozen foods are gamma irradiated, and these should be near-100% safe. In short, I use wet-frozen foods all the time, and their benefits likely outweigh the risks, but there may be a small risk attached, especially with foods collected from less than sanitary environments.>
I think that's all the questions I have for now. I can't thank you enough.
Just the peace of mind of having someone who will point out obvious problems that I may not recognize, helps.
<Always happy to chat.>
By the way...love your greeting...Cheers!
<It's very English, I think. But recently I've noticed a lot of Americans using it too. Not sure what the opposite of an Americanism is, a Britishism? Anyway, cheers! Neale.>
one of today's FAQs -- 1/28/10
> Hi Bob,
> There's a question today about (if I recall) wasting disease. Some discussion re: antibiotics, Mycobacteria, and disease transfer through frozen foods. I'd appreciate any comments you have on this, as I'm speculating wildly I fear. Particularly the frozen foods issue: is this something of concern, or merely me repeating illogical speculations made by retailers I've chatted with.
> Cheers, Neale
<I saw this... and have re-read. I too believe that biological disease (mainly infectious, not parasitic) can be/is at times conveyed through foods, including frozen. I also am leery re too-generalized statements re possible bacterial involvements, their treatments in home/hobby systems. W/o culture, sensitivity testing (more time, expertise, gear and livestock, facilities than most anyone has), there is little good to be expected from random administration of antibiotics, as you well know. BobF>

Growth on Gourami's mouth 09/15/09
Hi , I have a community tank with 2 Pearl Gourami fish and on the male one he has a white cotton like growth on his mouth.
<Likely one of two things, a fungal infection, or else something called Mouth Fungus that is, despite its name, a bacterial infection. Now, both of these infections look similar, but there are clues that tell them apart. True fungal infections are typically composed of fluffy white threads, often likened to cotton wool. Mouth Fungus (also known as Columnaris) tend to be more off-white to grey, somewhat slimy-looking, and more like a lumpy growth than tufts. Some medications treat both: for example Seachem Paraguard and eSHa 2000, in which case there's no need to differentiate them. Avoid therapies based on either salt or tea-tree oil (e.g., Melafix) as these tend to be unreliable.>
He has been acting weird and not eating properly.
<Both Mouth Fungus and regular fungal infections are typically caused by one of two things, often in combination. Physical damage, such as fighting or careless handling allows secondary infections to set in. Ordinarily the fish's immune system would deal with these, but in tanks with poor water quality, the immune system is weakened, and hence the infection gets out of hand.>
I am not sure what the growth could be or what I should do. I have a 23 gallon tank and all water levels are fine.
<Because this fish is clearly sick and suffering from either fungus or Mouth Fungus, I honestly don't believe the "levels are fine". If they were, your fish wouldn't be sick. To recap, Pearl Gouramis will need water with a stable pH between 6 and 8, hardness between 5-20 degrees dH, zero ammonia, and zero nitrite. Males can be mutually aggressive, and in a 20 gallon tank shouldn't be kept together.>
Thanks ,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Treating Velvet and Mouth Fungus with Lace Synodontis in the tank -- 09/08/09
Hi there,
My son pushed too fast to set up his tank and now has problems with velvet and mouth fungus, and possibly some ich. There are three Danios that definitely show signs of both the velvet and mouth fungus.
<I see.>
The problem is complicated by the fact that he also has a very sweet and lovely large lace Synodontis catfish who we have totally fallen in love with and she seems very sensitive to medication.
<Yes, this species (genus, family) can be. Removing to a quarantine tank would be one solution.>
The tank is 50 gallons and these are all the inhabitants: 5 small green tiger barbs, 3 large Danios, the lace Synodontis, a small bristle nose catfish, a small clown loach, an Ngara, a blue dwarf Gourami, and an algae
eating shark. It is a planted tank, but the plants can be replaced if they don't survive treatment.
<Bit of a mixed collection! Not entirely convinced this selection of fish will work in the long term. Ngara, for example, are Aulonocara cichlids, and semi-aggressive, as well as fussy about water chemistry. Clown Loaches don't stay small for long; adults are some 11 inches/27 cm long. And so on.>
Do you have any suggestions for how we can eliminate the mouth fungus and the velvet? We tried Rid Ich+, but the Synodontis seemed very bothered by it.
<Various catfish are indeed sensitive to copper and formalin, so that limits the range of options. Ordinarily, you'd treat Ick and Velvet using a salt/heat method (raise temperature to around 82-86 F, add 2-3 level
teaspoons of tonic salt per US gallon of water. Run thus for about two weeks. Keeping the tank dark (cover with a blanket) also helps, since the free-living stage needs light.>
We have also used Melafix, which keeps the mouth fungus down, but does not seem strong enough to totally cure it (and doesn't seem to do much, if anything, for the velvet).
<Mouth Fungus is bacterial, and Melafix is a weak bactericide, at best. Use a proper antibiotic such as Maracyn if you can, or else an antibacterial based on an organic dye if antibiotics aren't easily available in your region. I happen to like eSHa 2000, but there are numerous other brands, such as Seachem Paraguard that work well too. Read the instructions, and don't forget to remove carbon (if used) when necessary. Don't mix medications, although you can use *one* medication alongside salt without problems.>
Thanks very much for any help you can provide.
<While Velvet comes in with new fish, Mouth Fungus is triggered by environmental issues, and this is something you must review. You can keep treating the fish as much as you want, but if the underlying causes
(typically poor filtration, overfeeding, and/or overstocking) are present, the problem will keep coming back. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Treating Velvet and Mouth Fungus with Lace Synodontis in the tank   9/9/09
Thank you so very much for your advice and for responding so quickly.
<My pleasure.>
We'll get on it today. This is a fairly new project and my kid was not properly changing the water and filter at first, which is a big part of the problem we are dealing with now. We are on top of the water quality now.
<Good stuff.>
We'll start cycling a sick tank, but in the meantime we'll try the aquarium salt treatment and antibiotic. (And maybe we'll move Ngara into the second tank after it is cycled and when it isn't being used as a hospital because you are right that s/he is aggressive.)
<Indeed; a nice species, a very nice species in fact, but does need a Malawi community setting really, perhaps mixed with the superb Labidochromis caeruleus "Yellow Lab" for a nice contrast.>
I just want to double check that adding this much aquarium salt will likely be tolerated by the lace Synodontis and bristle nose catfish. I have read that some catfish cannot deal with salt.
<It's a misunderstanding about the salt. For a start, at least two families of catfish live in the sea! Several other families have species that enter brackish water. In any case, the amount of salt you are adding is trivially low. Let's say you add 3 level tsp of salt. It's a little under 0.25 oz per tsp, so that's about 0.75 tsp per US gallon. Normal seawater contains about 4.75 ounces of salt per US gallon, so what you're adding to your aquarium is actually about one-twentieth the salinity of normal seawater. There's probably more salt in a can of soda pop than that! It's really a very, very harmless dosage. While you wouldn't want to use this addition of salt on a permanent basis, for a couple of weeks it's a safer way to treat against Ick and Velvet that copper- and formalin-based medications.>
With gratitude,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Treating Velvet and Mouth Fungus with Lace Synodontis in the tank   9/9/09
great! any place I can order the eSHa 2000 in the US? Or should I just settle for Seachem ParaGuard?
<So far as I know, eSHa products are exclusively sold in Europe. Seachem Paraguard is at least as good, and while it doesn't contain copper or formalin, it does contain malachite green, so if you do decide to use it,
watch your catfish carefully. Malachite green isn't copper (despite the name) but an organic dye, and while these should be harmless, you never know.
eSHa 2000 contains a different organic dye, and while my Synodontis (and pufferfish) never complained, as always, your own mileage may vary. You might decide to opt for Maracyn or a similar antibiotic because of this.
Cheers, Neale.>

Bristlenose with fungus? -- 08/04/09
<Hello Kate,>
I have a Bristlenose Pleco who has been sharing a 40-gallon aquarium with a handful of African cichlids for the past 3 years. They normally get along quite well; the cichlids ignore the Pleco (but maybe there's a first time for everything...), and he usually stays out of sight in a cave among the rocks during the day.
<Ancistrus are at risk of being harmed when kept with the more aggressive African cichlids, particularly Mbuna.>
I had noticed that algae had been building up on the glass over the past few days, but I assumed the Pleco was holding out for an algae cookie, as he tends to do - he's a bit spoiled in that respect! This evening, when I moved the rocks around to do my weekly water change & vacuum the gravel, I was horrified to discover that the Pleco's snout was a mottled pale colour, and that his bristles were almost all gone. His snout also has a coating of some fuzzy white stuff that looks like fungus. He usually scuttles out of the way when I clean the tank, but this time he barely moved. He looks awful!
<Assuming it's fungus, which looks like white cotton wool threads, treat accordingly.>
I had some Maracyn (about a year old - is this ok?) on hand, so I dosed the tank with that,
<Unlikely to cure Fungus. The same goes for Melafix (tea-tree oil). You do need a genuine anti-fungal medication.>
and I added a bit of extra aquarium salt as well.
<Don't. Salt won't help, and some African cichlids, such as Mbuna, may develop bloating when exposed to saline conditions.>
All of the water parameters are normal.
<As in...? I need numbers, not judgments! Fungus is caused either by poor water quality or physical damage. So, check firstly you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Secondly, think about the companions. Some African cichlids are harmless enough when kept with Ancistrus, notably Kribs. But Mbuna would be a very bad choice of tankmates, since they'd persistently nip and buffet these poor catfish, causing physical damage.>
I realize that a separate tank would probably be best, but my old 10-gallon tank is in storage and doesn't have a proper cover (and with a new kitten in the house, this just spells disaster). Is it ok to continue dosing the main tank? Is the treatment even worth it?
<Yes. Fungus clears up pretty well.>
The Pleco seems to be in really bad shape and I don't want him to suffer needlessly if it's a lost cause.
<Well, the "suffer needlessly" bit assumes you're going to euthanise a fish in a way that doesn't cause pain. See here:
Thanks for any advice you can provide,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Platies and Gourami poorly   7/31/09
I have a problem with my tank and wonder if you can help.
<Let's see.>
My system is a rio180 with the internal filter as supplied, tank has 14 x pentazona barbs, 3 SAE's, 3 Danios, red tailed black shark (as yet not harassing anyone), one upside down catfish, 3 Columbian tetras, 4 rosy tetras, 2 diamond tetras, about 10 platies, a Moonlight Gourami and a Pearl Gourami.
<All sounds fine, though the Red-tailed Shark is a bit big (and a bit aggressive) for this species. I'd also make the point that some of these fish are fairly gregarious. Upside-down catfish for example should be in groups of three or more, otherwise they'll be very nervous and shy.>
About 6 weeks ago I had new platies, and the moonlight Gourami. In Qt the platies had a bit of fin-rot, which took about 2-3 weeks to clear up fully (treated with eHSA2000 in the end). The Gourami had a little white lump on one feeler, but nothing else occurred, so after 3 weeks in QT I transferred them to the main tank.
Shortly before they transferred I treated a platy in the QT from the main tank which had some signs of fungus on her back (not on the fins, just on her body). She responded well, and all fish went in to the main tank together.
<I see.>
Unfortunately after about 2 weeks in the main tank, the platy I had treated for fungus died. She got progressively thinner, and despite showing an interest in food, wasted until I euthanized her as she was sitting on the bottom for about 3 days straight.
<Does sometimes happen; may be the "wasting disease" that sometimes affects livebearers.>
About 10 days ago I noticed that about 5 platies had varying amounts of tufted white stuff on their bodies, and pale patches on their fins. Rather than treating them for fungus in the QT, I read up and decided that after removing the carbon I was OK to treat in the main tank. All bar one platy is now looking a lot better, I treated them for 3 days, observed, and as there was little improvement, continued for another two days as directed on the instructions for eHSA2000. That was now four days ago.
<Now, if you're finding all of your livebearers are getting patches of fungus, that's something else. Platies are generally hardy, but they do need hard water, and if your water is soft and acidic, they will be persistently sickly.>
Now I have one platy with what looks like pale bits / almost translucent patches, sitting on the bottom, and another with tufts of white on the body coming back.
<Not good.>
To make matters worse my beautiful moonlight Gourami has what looks like an ulcer on her mouth, about 1-2mm across, and is not feeding. The ulcer is pinky-white with a reddish patch, no tufts of white or anything.
<Sounds like incipient Finrot or similar.>
I carried out a 30% water change this morning after testing and finding a nitrite spike of about 1ppm, ammonia 0, nitrate 20. Could the eSHa have caused the spike? What can I do for my Gourami? And why are my platies getting white tufty bits, despite repeated treatment with eSHa (which suggests to me that this is the wrong treatment, or that I have a pathogen I am not getting shot of)
<Given you have a variety of fish that are exhibiting bacterial and fungal infections of an opportunistic type, I'd be thinking about water quality and water chemistry issues, perhaps both. For the selection of fish you have, you're after the following values: pH 7.5, hardness 10+ degrees dH.
This may require hardening the water a bit if you live in a soft water area. Ammonia and nitrite should be 0, all of the time. If they're not, review filtration, stocking density, and whether your filter is adequate for the task (or properly maintained). The Rio 180 has a competent filtration system, but the pump is a little on the weak side, and water flow can easily diminish if the sponges are clogged.>
Any suggestions / treatment for the Gourami would be very much appreciated.
I will test water again tomorrow - when I tested after the water change there was no detectable nitrite or ammonia, and very low nitrate.
Thank you so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platies and Gourami poorly   7/31/09
Thanks for the quick reply. I don't have test kits for PH and hardness at present - we live in south Herts (Chorleywood) and the water here is generally very hard; we use a water softener for the majority of the house (not for the tap where the tank water comes from though, I hasten to add).
<I see. I'm in Berkhamsted, so I imagine my water is much the same as yours. I mix it 50/50 with rainwater, and find it works for most things very well.>
I will see if I can get a kit when out today and test the water. I have a spare hang on the back Fluval U2 filter I was given I think I will plug this in as well, to see if it improves matters, and will give the filter sponges a rinse out in tank water.
<Yes, do this. The Juwel 180 is a good tank -- there's one right here next to me by the computer -- but the filter on these tanks generally is not well suited to messy fish. Eventually, I ripped mine out and instead use a pair of canisters, an Eheim 2217 and a Fluval 104. In any case, do check the sponges, and do look to see if any of the inlet slots on the black filter module are blocked, clogged with gravel, or otherwise restricting water flow.>
Is there anything you can suggest for the Gourami- he's not eating and the ulcer on his lower lip is looking quite sore.
<To be honest, eSHa 2000 is by drug of choice for this sort of thing. You might do a daily saltwater dip (35 grammes non-iodised salt in one litre of aquarium water) for a couple of minutes, as this sometimes helps to keep infections clean, a bit like saltwater gargles for mouth ulcers. Dunk the fish only until it shows signs of severe distress (like rolling over) and then return to the aquarium.>
Water chem. today was ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5 - but I did do a 40% water change yesterday.
<Much better.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Brain damaged Flowerhorn? 7/2/09
Flowerhorn With Columnaris

He has been improving greatly, taking pellets, then this am I see this.. I cannot find anything on your site and don't think it is columnaris but I thought I would ask you. What is it and what med should I use?
<In a hospital tank, I would treat with an antibiotic like Nitrofurazone or Erythromycin type of antibiotics. The little white columns are actually a characteristic of columnaris.-Chuck>

Re: Brain damaged Flowerhorn? 7/2/09
Indication of Columnaris

Is it the larger white spot with the surrounding red or the flaking white spiky things that indicate columnaris? (for my forums understanding as I have posted pics) Thank you again so much. Lisa
< The spiky white things are columnaris. The big hole could be hole in the head /trauma/or a bacterial infection. Treat with the antibiotics as recommended. Get the nitrates down to under 20 ppm with water changes and gravel vacuuming.-Chuck>

TB?   6/26/09
I've attached a photo ( sorry about the quality but I believe it shows what I am talking about) of my Rasbora trilineata. I have had him for 1 month and slowly I have noticed his spine in the caudal region has become bent.
Until now I believed it to be a birth defect that merely became more noticeable as he grew.
<Indeed. Well, it's untreatable but unlikely to spread, so would remove/euthanise this fish, but otherwise not worry over-much.
I have "trained" the fish to eat when I signal them so I can observe them eat. For the past 3 days he has stopped eating even though he comes when I signal, he does not eat. I have moved him into a quarantine tank to isolate. He was in my 90 gallon tank with 5 neon tetras and 2 other Rasbora trilineata. All added without quarantine as they were held in the same tank together at the store for me for one month while my tank fully finished off cycling ( I don't add until Nitrates are low and or algae is present).
Cycle was done using a fishless method with a grocery store bought and rinsed shrimp in a rinsed stocking. I did not know fish could carry TB until I came across a FAQ by Don and I am alarmed by the symptoms similarities.
<Fish TB is actually extremely rare, particularly among freshwater fish.
The vast majority of bacterial infections of fish are opportunistic, meaning that they're caused by otherwise-harmless bacteria in the aquarium that are *allowed* to cause disease because the aquarist isn't doing something right in terms of water quality, diet, or whatever.>
While his trunk does not appear to be swollen compared to the others his sudden loss of appetite and elusiveness are setting off alarms. If the most prudent plan of action would be to put down the animals, what is the most humane way to do this and also to dispose of the bodies without contaminating anything else. If this does not seem to be TB what are my next steps. Ammonia and Nitrite are 0 and Nitrate is 10 ppm. Lush bright green algae on sides and back. I do 30 gallon water changes once a week.
Filtered with Aquaclear 110. The substrate is Eco-Complete plant substrate one inch thick across entire bottom. Temp 76F pH 7. Two Maxi-Jet 1200's for water movement. One bubble wand for oxygen. No Co2 injection. For lighting I use Corallife 96 watt 6700k bulbs. Quarantine tank is a 12 gallon nano cube that has been stripped down to have a sponge filter and is cycled.
<The tank sounds fine. In this case, I simply think you were unlucky, and whether this fish has a birth defect, a viral disease, or some type of obscure bacterial infection, I honestly don't think the other fish are at major risk. So I'd certainly euthanise him (if he's not eating, he's not going to get better) and then simply observe the other fish to see what happens.>
Long term plan for this tank is heavily planted without co2 only using common low light plants. Any advice is welcome I work with the public and can not risk carrying/having/spreading TB.
<While Fish TB certainly exists, it's very uncommon. I'm not a medical practitioner, so if you need public health advice, I have to recommend you consult a qualified MD or vet. But in general, fish tanks are not a major health risk, hence their wide use is hospitals, waiting rooms, shops, sushi bars and the like.>
Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: TB?   6/26/09
Thank you so much for your advice. I think I will take the fish to a vet to be euthanized and possibly get them to run some tests on it to make 100% sure.
<Hmm... would sooner you euthanised the fish yourself: I wouldn't trust the average aquarium shop to make an effort to euthanise the fish humanely; most simply feed sick fish to any predatory fish or turtles they have in stock.>
Although I no longer believe TB is an issue I figure it can not hurt to make certain. I feed TetraColor tropical flakes by Tetra and have decided to include frozen bloodworms to mix up the nutrition values.
<Good. While a good quality flake like Tetra Min should be perfect, adding variety is always a good thing. I'd tend to recommend against colour-enhancing foods as a staple; indeed, unless you have red fish, they will have little/no impact on colours at all, and they don't do anything that crustaceans such as daphnia won't do just as well. Carotene is carotene, wherever it comes from...>
While I have your ear I would like to run a short stock list to be added no sooner then a month from now. Hopefully then I will be sure there are no pathogens, odd chemistry or poor nutrition taking place in this tank.
I want to add in this order.
3 Crossocheilus siamensis
3 (possibly more) Corydoras panda
5 Gasteropelecus sternicla
<All fine, though Gasteropelecus are flighty and prone to throwing themselves at the hood if kept with boisterous fish or tanks without floating plants.>
Do you think the TSAE will stress the hatchets out too much?
<Depends how deep the tank is; if the tank is something over 50 cm in depth, I'd expect that the two fish would barely meet, since Crossocheilus tend to stay at the middle to lower levels. But if the tank is very shallow, say 30 cm, then you might have problems. Boosting the number of Hatchets would make a big positive impact: they're a lot more reliable in swarms of ten or more.>
My tank is covered with eggcrate but I still don't want them freaking out.
<Floating plants help.>
I am unsure of what will come after but I believe I am pushing the stocking limit of my tank. They will be added in family groups as to keep the load on my quarantine tank low. Also how long should I allow my quarantine tank to sit fallow before I can quarantine more fish? In closing I have to thank all of you for the knowledge that has accumulated on this site. Neale has helped me with other tanks in the past that have absolutely flourished.
Another invaluable article on tap water preparation, storing and polyvinyl has saved me oodles of money/livestock. I have even earned a free True Siamese Algae eater through helping my LFS separate their Flying Foxes, False Siamese Algae Eaters and their True. Much of my success I owe to this site. I wish I could remember all the authors of the various articles I have read that have made me very skilled at aquatic husbandry.
<Thanks for your kind words!>
Also I would like to urge my fellow aquarist to get out there and shop the local mom and pop fish stores. They do not seem to be doing well with the economy, mega store and online competitors.
<All very true. But ultimately it does depend on the Mom & Pop store being at least reasonably decent; too many of them had dingy tanks, limited selections of fish, and questionable husbandry practises. Competition is a good thing, and those family stores that can meet the demands of modern aquarists can do rather well, particularly if they gear themselves up to providing "value added" services such as setting up tanks in offices and shops (a real money earner!) or visit aquarists at their homes to help with marine and jumbo freshwater tanks that can cause problems to less experienced hobbyists.>
Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Saprolegnia on shark (RMF, second opinion?) <<Nada to add>> 4/26/09
Hi crew! Please help me! I am trying desperately to save my iridescent shark.
<Yes, I can see from the photos he's in a bad way. A very difficult species to maintain, and I fear the problem here is more about his environment than anything else. Iridescent Sharks are food fish, and they simply don't do well in home aquaria. While they can be kept in aquaria if you have lots of space, 55 gallons isn't enough. Moreover, they are difficult fish to mix with other species. Despite their size, they are super-nervous, and perhaps surprisingly, should be kept in schools of 3 or more specimens.>
He is 5 years old. Was staying in an established 5 year old tank, 55 gallon, with two kissing Gourami and a Pleco. Don't exactly know how he got hurt, maybe fight with Pleco that is a foot long.
<Not so much a fight, but I do wonder if [a] the Iridescent Shark bruised himself or otherwise develop a light infection; and then [b] the Plec took advantage of this and started rasping away at the infected tissue. Plecs are notorious for "latching" onto injured, moribund or otherwise slow-moving fish that are exuding blood or mucous into the water. While I'm not 100% sure, this is my guess here.>
My shark is 10 inches.
<Way too big for this aquarium. Even if the Plec exacerbated the situation, the primary cause of the wound or infection was surely some combination of water quality and/or physical damage, e.g., jumping into the hood or bumping into ornaments. Heater burns are another common cause of mortality and injury among catfish.>
The next day noticed the patch of cottony fungus, identified as saprolegnia. I set up a10 gallon hospital tank at 80 degrees.
<Can't possibly keep this fish in 10 gallons. I'm surprised it even FITS into a 10 gallon tank!>
I treated water with 1 tsp water conditioner (Jungle Start Right with Allantoin, a skin protectant), 1 tsp of Wardley Ick Away (malachite green), 1 tsp. of Melafix and 1 tsp of Jungle Fungus Clear Tank Buddies
(Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate).
<Random medicating is usually not a good idea. Remember, while Fungus isn't especially difficult to treat, it's a secondary infection that results from poor water conditions and injury. In a case like this, you need the fish to be in optimal water conditions, and even on his own, 55 gallons would barely provide that, let along 10. You also need to treat with something very specific for severe fungal infections; I'd recommend something along the lines of Seachem KanaPlex. Melafix is useless once fungal infections are established (I'll allow it might have some preventative value) and Ick medication is clearly irrelevant.>
The only other items in the tank are the heater and an air stone. I have been feeding him Jungle Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food, but he does not seem to be eating anything.
<Don't feed him at all until he's in a tank offering optimal water conditions: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, low nitrate, pH stable around 6.5-7.5, and moderate hardness.>
I clean up the food that he does not eat each morning. His eyes are clouded over, maybe he can't find his food.
<Not a good sign; usually implies (if both eyes are cloudy) some type of secondary bacterial infection. Again, KanaPlex should help.>
He has been in this treatment for 5 days, with no improvement, seems worse.
His body is almost completely covered now.. I am sending you pictures.
When will this treatment start to help?
Or am I doing something wrong?
Please help me!
<Done my best. While I've seen fish come back from worse (they really are amazing sometimes) this does depend on optimal environmental conditions, which I fear you're not providing. Seriously, this is a fish that needs a tank twice the size of what you have, if not more, and a whopping filter with massive water turnover and plenty of supplemental aeration. Iridescent Sharks are classic riverine fish with little tolerance for stagnant water. Adults are routinely 60-70 cm long under aquarium conditions, and wild specimens twice that, weighing about the same as a family dog. Big fish.
Cheers, Neale.>

Establishing an optimum bacterial population -- 4/17/09
Dear Crew
I have a question about establishing a bacterial culture in an aquarium.
<Not an issue; the bacterial population will expand and contract to the biomass of fish in the tank. The only limiting factors are oxygen availability and physical space, the two issues that determine whether a filter is adequate for the task. More flow = more oxygen, and more media = more physical space.>
Long, long ago (in the 1970s) I was taught that an aquarium performs best if it goes through a crisis, in the sense that it undergoes a large bioload early in its life.
<Yes and no; the filter bacteria population grows precisely at the rate determined by the oxygen availability, the physical space for them to inhabit, the availability of ammonia/nitrite, the temperature, and the pH. If you have a lot of ammonia early on, yes, the bacterial population can grow rapidly compared to an otherwise identical tank with less ammonia. But unless that high ammonia concentration is maintained, the population will quickly die back to a small population maintained with less ammonia. They don't "hibernate" in any meaningful sense waiting for ammonia spikes weeks or months apart. Hence, you need to cycle a filter with an ammonia source equivalent to the biomass of the fish being added, and when you do add further fish on top of that amount, you add them in small, spaced apart batches so the bacteria population can multiply upwards.>
To achieve this, when setting up a new aquarium I would get the filters running, add some bacteria (usually sand from an established tank), and throw in a few dead shrimps or a piece of fish fillet.
<As good a way as any.>
There would be no inhabitants in the tank except the bacteria. Over the ensuing weeks, the meat would rot, the tank would stink, and when the cycling process was finished, I'd do a large water change.
The thinking behind this was that if you caused a crisis like this, with a massive ammonia spike early in the piece, you would establish colonies of bacteria in the filtering system that were at the maximum potential that could be achieved.
<Sort of; what you're doing is creating a source of ammonia equivalent to however much food you'd add if there was a fish in that tank. It doesn't matter to the bacteria whether the ammonia comes directly from a shrimp rotting on the sand or else a shrimp that passed through the gut of a fish. Ammonia is ammonia is ammonia. But, here's the thing: the art is in waiting for the ammonia to drop to a safe level, and then adding a fish or two to keep "topping up" that ammonia for those bacteria in the filter. Consider an extreme example: say you waited three months. The ammonia produced by the shrimp will have been all used up by then, and the bacteria in the filter would have died back to some minimal value. Likely not zero, because there'd be algae and other micro-organisms in the aquarium, so there'd be some small amount of ammonia, but nothing like as much as if there'd been a school of Guppies.>
The idea was that this optimum population of bacteria would occupy all the available sites in the system, and they would work at nitrification as need arose.
<There's no "optimum" level you can build into a system; the bacteria numbers will be limited by whatever is in least supply. This is called the Law of Limiting Factors and affects numerous biological systems. If ammonia is at a low level because a fish tank is empty, it doesn't matter how big the filter is, or how optimal the pH, or how perfect the temperature -- the bacteria population will be small.>
In other words, if you had a small bioload in the tank, the bacteria numbers would remain constant but they would have to work less.
<No. Allowing for a certain lag for the bacteria to die back, the population would be exactly proportional to whatever is in least supply.>
If you gradually increased the bioload to the maximum appropriate for the size of the tank, the bacteria would adjust their metabolism and work harder to cause nitrification. It was thought that the population of bacteria would remain constant, with fluctuations in activity depending on the bioload.
<Not sure they adjust their metabolism; rather, you have X bacteria, or 10X, or a 100X bacteria, depending on how much of whatever limiting factor is available.>
The concurrent idea was that if you didn't cause a big crisis, but cycled the tank by only placing in it a few hardy fish, the bacterial population would establish only to meet that bioload, and the colonies in the filters would not be as dense as it would have been if you'd gone the 'full crisis' way.
<Yes, when you cycle with, say, 4 Guppies, you get sufficient bacteria in the filter to consume the ammonia produced by 4 Guppies; no more and no less.>
In other words, there would be less bacteria by using the slow method.
<No, you get precisely the same. All depends on the limiting factor.>
It was thought that this would constitute the bacterial population for the life of the aquarium and that the numbers of bacteria would not increase when you increased the bioload -- the bacteria would simply work harder to handle nitrification, and the system would never be as capable of handling a large bioload or a crisis in the way that a 'full crisis' system would..
<No; what limits the bacteria population isn't how you created the tank, but what the conditions are at the moment. Double the amount of ammonia in any aquarium and the bacterial population will (within a certain period of time) double as well (assuming other factors, such as oxygen or physical space, aren't limiting).
Therefore, it was taken for granted that, if you wanted an aquarium to have its full potential for nitrification, the 'full crisis' method was the way to go.
Now, this may be 'old' thinking, and I'd be glad if you would comment on what current thinking is. I'm setting up a large freshwater system that will eventually be heavily stocked, and I'm debating whether to go with the 'slow' method with a few fish or to use the fishless ammonia method to cause an initial spike in the hope that it will give me better long-term results. Is there an advantage of one method over the other?
<Absolutely no advantage to creating a "crisis" if you don't follow it up with an equal amount of ammonia day-in, day-out. If you add some shrimp and the ammonia concentration goes to, let's say, 10 mg/l, but then two weeks later has dropped to 1 mg/l, then the number of filter bacteria in that aquarium will be precisely the same as an aquarium given 1 mg/l every single day. Biological systems are ALWAYS limited by whatever is in least supply at the time, and NEVER expand to the potential of what might have been there in the past or might happen again in the future.>
I'm sorry this is so wordy.
Les (Australia)
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Establishing an optimum bacterial population  4/18/09
Neale, that helps more than you can imagine. Many thanks for this most comprehensive collection of information. That has settled years of wondering for me. At last I can approach what I'm doing in an informed way.
Best regards to you.
<G'day Les. Happy to have helped. Good luck cycling your new tanks, however you choose to do it! Cheers, Neale.>

Mollies with Columnaris and Ich -- 03/22/09
Hello Crew,
<Hello Carla,>
I'm in a bit of a quandary. I purchased three mollies the day before yesterday, and placed them in my cycled 10 gallon quarantine tank (pH: 8.1, ammonia: 0, nitrites: 0, nitrates: 0 -- I had a bunch of extra cuttings so
the tank is stuffed with live plants).
<Mollies don't do well in small tanks. They're very sensitive to nitrate as well as ammonia/nitrite, and in small tanks it is very difficult to keep them healthy for long. Minimum tank size for small Mollies (Shortfin
mollies, black mollies, balloon mollies) is 20+ gallons, while large Mollies (Sailfin mollies, liberty mollies) is over 30 gallons.>
Unfortunately yesterday I observed that one of the mollies had what we used to call cotton mouth or mouth fungus.
<Very common with Mollies, especially when kept in freshwater conditions.>
I understand, from researching your site, that this is likely Columnaris (bacterial).
<Indeed. You will need a suitable antibiotic or antibacterial (as opposed to a make-believe solution such as tea-tree oil or salt.>
Today I also observed two Ich spots (sure glad I quarantined). I was going to go the salt + heat route, but I learned (also from researching your site), that Columnaris grows faster with higher heat.
<Your options are limited here, but in this case, I'd raise the salinity to deal with the Ick, and treat with an antibiotic/antibacterial at the same time. Since Mollies are best kept at SG 1.003, I'd recommend 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water. There's not much point trying to keep Mollies in a freshwater aquarium because they rarely (seemingly, less than 50% of the time) do well. You're also fighting with one hand behind your back because the tank is so small, so a difficult job is being made twice as hard.>
My questions are: Should I raise the heat, and how I can treat both the Columnaris and Ich concurrently? Also, should I remove my plants?
<Plants will not be affected by antibiotics or antibacterials used correctly, and a salinity of SG 1.003 is fine for hardy, salt-tolerant plants.>
Thanks very much for your help and your wonderful website.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mollies with Columnaris and Ich   3/23/09
Thanks very much for your help. The Mollies are currently in a ten gallon tank because they are in quarantine (their permanent home will be a 40-gallon heavily-planted breeder tank).
<Ah, that makes sense. A 40-gallon system will be perfect.>
The water parameters of that tank are:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 8.2
Carbonate hardness: approximately 200 mg/L CaCO3
<That's 200/17.8 = 11.2 degrees KH. That's extremely high, and while perfect for Mbuna or Central American livebearers, a lot of other fish will find that a bit on the hard side for their tastes. Do be aware when choosing fish and plants.>
Their tankmates will be Wrestling Halfbeaks, Scarlet Badis, White Clouds, and Threadfin Rainbows.
<Halfbeaks will thrive, the others should tolerate, but may not show optimal colours or longevity.>
I was hoping the Mollies would do well without salt because of the high pH and hardness, and I wasn't sure (aside from the Halfbeaks) whether the plants and other residents would appreciate the salt.
<Plants that tolerate hard water generally do well in slightly brackish water too; species such as Vallisneria, Hygrophila, Java ferns, hardy Crypts, etc. If you have plants that need soft water, chances are they
aren't going to thrive a this level of carbonate hardness either, so it's a moot point. As for the fish: Halfbeaks tolerate salt well, but the others are truly freshwater fish.>
But I will add salt and remove some of the other residents and non-salt tolerant plants if necessary.
<Would be my recommendation. Mollies deserve a tank of their own: they're spectacular fish, and wonderful pets. But they are finicky in freshwater systems. They need perfect water quality. You might decide to medicate them in the quarantine tank, and when they're healthy again, try them out in a plain freshwater tank. With luck, you'll be okay. But if you find you're constantly having to deal with Fungus and Finrot, remove the Minnows, Rainbows and Badis, add a little salt, and maintain the system at SG 1.002-1.003.>
I've started to slowly raise the salinity of the quarantine tank, and I'm off to the LFS to pick up the antibiotic and a hydrometer. I believe we have Maracyn and Maracyn II available here (Canada), so I will purchase
A couple more questions, if you'll bear with me:
<Of course.>
Which Maracyn product would be most effective against Columnaris?
<Maracyn rather than Maracyn 2 is usually used first. It contains Erythromycin, which should work on Flexibacter columnaris.>
If the Mollies recover, when would it be safe to place them into my main tank (so that Columnaris does not contaminate that tank).
<Columnaris, like Finrot, is a disease latent in all tanks, and the bacteria involved is presumably harmless most of the time. It appears not because a fish "caught" the disease, but because the fish was somehow
weakened, and its immune system overwhelmed. So provided the other fish are healthy, you shouldn't worry about cross-contamination.>
Thanks again...
<No probs.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mollies with Columnaris and Ich - Update 04/03/09
Thanks very much, Neale, for your advice. Just thought I would give you an update on the Mollies. I used the salt + heat treatment for the ick, and the ick has disappeared.
For the mouth rot, I couldn't find Maracyn at my LFS, so I used TC capsules (tetracycline). The mouth rot hung around during the course of the treatment (5 days), and then I had an ammonia spike (the packaging on the TC capsules claims that they will not affect the biological filter, but I suspect otherwise).
<Oh dear.>
Unfortunately one of the Mollies died (oddly, it was the healthiest, dominant female).
<Sorry to hear that; I wonder why?>
I subsequently performed 75% water changes for the next several days to control the ammonia, used activated carbon to remove the tetracycline, then added some nice filthy filter media from my other tank to repopulate the nitrifying bacteria. Over the next several days, the mouth rot on the remaining Mollies disappeared, but I'm not sure if I can attribute it to the tetracycline or the water changes.
<It's a combination: the antibiotic kills off the bacteria, but improved water quality allows the fish's immune system to repair the damage and prevent re-infection>
Anyway, the remaining Mollies have recovered, and in a week or so, I will remove them from quarantine and place them in my 40-gallon tank.
Also, you were right, the salt did not seem to affect my plants (Hygrophila polysperma, Hygrophila corymbosa, Rotala rotundifolia, Java Moss, and Bacopa monnieri).
<Not sure about Rotala, but certainly the others are happy in brackish water, let alone slightly salty/warm water of the sort used to treat Ick.>
Thanks again for your help,
<Thanks for the update, Neale.>

Treating illness with central filtration 3/28/09
I work at a retail store with fresh water tanks, where all the tanks share a large single sump filter.
I would like to know what the best way to treat ich and fungus in this situation are, because quarantining is a not an option for me unfortunately.
<Since the free-living Ick parasite moves for 24 hours or more through the water column, you can reliably assume all the other fish have been exposed to the parasite.>
Currently I turn the filter off
and treat each tank with ich medication
<If you want, assuming all the livestock are copper/formalin-tolerant; invertebrates and snails won't be, and some fish, particularly loaches, puffers and some catfish are also sensitive.>
aquarium salt
<Salt + heat can work.>
and Melafix for a while before turning the filter back on.
<You must leave the filter running. A dead filter will kill more fish more quickly than Ick! The only precaution here is to remove carbon prior to using medication.>
Would it be better to leave the filter on and add medication directly to the sump?
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale>

Fungus 1/24/09 Hello Neale, I'm back with a new issue this time. I have 1 Cory with fungus and 1 rosy tetra with a small white fungus on its mouth. Other fish in the tank don't show any evident sign of fungus. A couple of weeks ago I treated the entire tank with Melafix and it seems to have improved things a lot. However the fungus is not gone and today I noticed a lot of cotton like fungus on one of the Cory's fins. I'd appreciate if you could give me some advice on the following points: - Would you suggest isolating the affected fish in a hospital tank or treat the entire tank where the fish are now living with their friends? On one side I'm afraid that treating the big tank would affect the nitrifying bacteria, on the other side I think that if I don't treat a fish that seems to be fine but is instead hosting the fungus would re-start things from square 1 in a matter of time. - Is there any medication you would recommend? Anything that you tried or heard works well and possibly does not affect bacteria? Thank you, Giuseppe <Salutations! Hmm... Melafix... what you're observing is precisely why most of us here don't recommend this product. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Anyway, when treating Fungus, there's no point isolating fish because it isn't "contagious" as such. Fungal spores are in all aquaria, and mostly the fungi do good work breaking down organic material. Only when fish are damaged or stressed does the fungus attack the fish. The issue is this: a healthy fish has an immune system that kills fungal spores 100% of the time. When a fish is damaged or stressed by its environment, its immune system stops working properly, and the fungal infection becomes established. This is why when you see Fungus on a fish, you NOT ONLY treat the fish, but you ALSO think about why the Fungal infection happened at all. In terms of treating, I'd recommend eSHa 2000; this is a Dutch product widely sold in the EU. It's the product I use for Fungus and Finrot, and it's worked every single time, even on delicate species such as Puffers. Elsewhere in the world you'll need to find some other anti-Fungus medication based on copper and/or formalin. These tea-tree oil medications are too unreliable. Cheers, Neale.>

Tuberculosis in a Well-Maintained Tank 11-5-08 Hi Bob :-) This is Anna. <Hi Anna, this isn't Bob, but Merritt today.> Before I start I wanted to let you know that I've learned a lot from the WetWebMedia site, especially regarding fish tank maintenance.  I am a big fan of partial water changes (up to 1/3 of a tank) which I perform every single week. <That is quite a lot of water changes; you should cut back on them due to the stress they are causing on your fish.> My tank is freshwater, 35 gallon, with a score of live plants and just 15 fish - mostly tetras, 1 Pleco, and 3 albino Cory fish. There are no real problems although this morning I noted that one tetra had a few red wounds (?) along its nape region and dorsal fin. The wounds are approx. of a size of a head of a needle. There are approx. 10 of them.  I studied Dr. Dieter Untergasser's "Handbook of fish diseases" and concluded, based on content and pictures, that my tetra may have tuberculosis or be affected by a type of Sporozoan. Attached are some pictures of the fish under the mentioned conditions. <The wounds do not look like tuberculosis, watch them to see if they show more signs of tuberculosis, like the bending of the spin, fish wasting, skeletal deformities or loss of scales and coloration .> The description of either illness suggests that bad water condition be a culprit. The ammonia level in my tank is 0.00, the pH is 7.2-7.4. I run 2 Marineland filters and take a good care of my tank. This is why I am a little confused... <Like I said, your tank may have great conditions but constant water changes stress fish out which lessens their immune system allowing for disease.> Anyway, I transferred the infected tetra to a 5-gallon hospital tank. <Great move!> Will you be able to shed little light as for the cause of my fish's condition? Am I able to help that fish? What should I do? I would not like to sacrifice it. I hope there is a cure... Besides, do you think that my display tank is in danger? I just changed 50% of the water and replaced all filter pads. Is there anything else I should and could do?  I will appreciate any insights. Your experience is extremely valuable and needed :-). <It would be best to treat your sick tetra for a protozoan infection due to the wounds resembling protozoan infections other than tuberculosis. I would watch the other fish for any signs of sickness and cut down on the water changes. If the symptoms persist after you medicate for the protozoan, then tuberculosis could be the culprit. Tuberculosis is of bacterial origin and you will have to switch the medication. Watch yourself if the symptoms for tuberculosis do develop because you can catch it from your fish. Mainly persons of low immune systems are susceptible but, just be careful. Here are some links about disease and medication that should help you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwfishmed http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwdistrbshtart.htms.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/woundbactf.htm> Thanks in advance for your help. ANNA <You are welcome and please email updates! Merritt A.>

Fallow tank (and more!), FW infectious disease...    8/6/08 Hi Crew! I have a few different things to write in about, but if I remember correctly, you prefer them all in one email. Sorry in advance for the length, but more info is good, right? <Up to a point...> There's a previous reply from Neale below this email, since unfortunately I'm writing in about the same thing again. After the Betta and African dwarf frog died, my tank was empty of fish (and frogs) for probably six weeks total. I didn't end up adding any medication to the empty tank, on the idea that, like Neale said, there will always be "harmful" bacteria floating around at "non-harmful" levels until a fish is injured or stressed enough to become susceptible to infection. <Correct; Finrot (or Red-leg in the case of amphibians) is a response to environmental problems rather than a disease that creeps into the tank unseen.> I didn't want to wreck the good-bacteria system, so instead I did large water changes and added three male guppies. <Do remember fancy Guppies are NOT HARDY. They are very delicate fish and should only be kept in clean, mature aquaria. Small tanks aren't suitable because you can't keep water chemistry/quality stable easily in them.> One of them died after a run-in with the tank vacuum--my fault. I'd had the other two for about six months when one of them started looking a little large in the belly. He was more aggressive and usually got more of the food, so I thought maybe he was just getting a little plump. After about a week the swelling had only grown, and the other fish looked perfectly healthy, so I separated the swollen one and put Epsom salt in his water for a week, thinking maybe he was constipated. That didn't help, so I treated him with two rounds of Jungle Fungus Clear (Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate). That didn't help either, and like the Betta he soon got the pinecone look and died. By then the remaining guppy was looking swollen too. <That a succession of fish are dying from fairly generic symptoms means just one thing: environmental problems. This tank is, for whatever reason, not conducive to the long term health of fish. Tanks 10 gallons in size are not recommended for beginners, and anything smaller than, say, 8 gallons is not suitable for fish at all, except perhaps a single Betta. These 2 and 5 gallon tanks you see on the market are essentially worthless, being accountable for the deaths of VAST numbers of fish.> I changed the filter and removed the carbon, and added the medication and the Epsom salt right to the tank, hoping that if the medication is capable of nuking whatever this is, I might as well add it to the whole tank, as I probably should have in the first place, as Neale suggested. I added the Epsom three days ago (1 tsp/5 gal), and the medication two days ago. There's been no improvement. Today I added more Epsom (1.5 tsp/5 gal) and a little more medication as the water was looking lighter (the medication turns it blue). I figured the fine gravel substrate might be absorbing some of it. <You really can't "nuke" a tank hoping to get rid of all the problems except by sterilizing it, and that will of course kill the biological filter. This is why healthcare is a two-step process: first you ensure ideal conditions, and second you identify and disease and only then treat with an appropriate medication. Randomly adding stuff like salt, Epsom salt, Methylene blue or whatever in the hope of killing whatever is in the tank just doesn't work. Never has done, never will. It's the same reason your doctor asks for your symptoms before prescribing a treatment -- only the right medication will help, and the wrong ones could cause more harm than good.> It's a 2.5 gallon tank, 79 degrees, with aquarium salt at 1 TBSP/5 gal. 25-30% water changes weekly, live plants, one painted acrylic tank decoration (the paint is not wearing off), compact fluorescent lighting, in-tank Mini Whisper filter. The guppies ate whatever algae they could find in the tank, and flake food, as they rarely seemed to recognize anything else (bloodworms, Tubifex worms, algae wafers) as food. <This tank is just no good for fish. End of discussion, and no further treatment will help. A tank this size simply isn't viable for fish. By all means add some Cherry Shrimps and novelty snails that don't breed, such as Nerites. But nothing else. The Cherry Shrimps will have babies and provide lots of entertainment value as well as being brightly coloured. Please, please trust me on this.> My best guess is that the same thing happened to all three fish, and I'm assuming it's an internal bacterial infection. <No; "internal bacterial infection" is (in my book at least) the term most commonly used by fishkeepers who don't want to face facts. It's really very simple: in a tank this small the filter can't process waste fast enough to keep the fish healthy. The water isn't sufficient to dilute the ammonia and nitrite adequately that these don't poison the fish. There isn't enough water to dilute the organic acids that accumulate between water changes. The volume of water is too small to keep temperature stable. The surface area is too small for oxygen to diffuse in quickly enough to satisfy fish. There is really, HONESTLY no way this tank will keep fish for anything more than a "death row" sort of existence.> The medication that I have does not seem to be making a difference. Do I need to try a different treatment? <Nope; different tank.> Is it too late for treatment by the time the swelling has gotten bad? <Likely, yes; with small fish by the time abdominal swelling occurs the internal organs are damaged beyond repair.> I certainly could've stepped in earlier with the medication, but was hoping it was just constipation or too much food until it was obviously a different problem. <"Hope" is adequate for football games, but where animal welfare is at stake you have to be a bit more proactive. Any book on Guppies would have told you that they need a reasonably big tank (at least 10 gallons, and I'd recommend at least 20 gallons because of their delicacy and aggression). So your first mistake was not reviewing their needs and then putting them into a tank woefully small.> Do I need to put the little guy out of his misery at this point, or do you think he has a chance? <I don't think any fish has a chance in this tank. I honestly can't in good conscience recommend you add/buy any more fish until you've bought at least a 10 gallon system and ideally a 20 gallon system.> He's behaving as though he's perfectly fine--he's always been very active--but the swelling is very noticeable and has not gone down at all. I skipped feeding him last night because I was worried over putting anything else in his stomach with all that swelling. He has a healthy appetite and there's no pineconing. <OK.> In other news--my brother has a Betta in a similar setup, with no salt. He's around three years old now and I know that's quite old for a Betta. He's developed a lump under his scales, about a third of the way down his body, on the left side only, and the scales over it are protruding. His right side is perfectly smooth. I added Epsom on the off chance it was a blockage or that it was swelling that could be alleviated, but it hasn't improved much if at all. My educated guess says it's a tumor, since he's old and the lump is only on one side. I'm assuming there's nothing to do for him, but I figured that while I was writing in, I'd ask if there was. <Would tend to agree; 3 years is about the going rate for a well cared for Betta. I notice (with appreciation!) the lack of salt. As I have said MANY times, salt has no place in freshwater fishkeeping except for specifically treating certain diseases in the short term.> And, lastly, I'm babysitting a roommate's goldfish for the summer. He came to me in a quart-sized bowl. I don't have the resources to gift my roommate with the 10+ gallon filtered tank the goldfish should be living in, but we did get him an acrylic bucket-shaped (more surface area) container of about 1.5 gallons. <Goldfish need more than 10 gallons, at least 30, and 1.5 gallons is simply cruel. This poor fish will be dead well before its time. Make sure your friend understands that what she's doing is animal abuse; if you can't have bigger tanks in your apartments, then don't keep fish. If you want to own and care for an animal, then meet its needs. There's no "in between" situation that lets you rationalise away slowly poisoning a Goldfish with its own filth, which is what's happening here. I find it strange that people in the UK and US will be horrified at reports of people in Korea eating dogs or the Spanish fighting bulls, and yet have absolutely no qualms at all about exposing the poor Goldfish to years and years of torture and poisoning. Quite bizarre.> I think he's a comet--upper third is orange, the rest silver/light gold, just shy of 2" nose to caudal peduncle. <Ah, the Comet... one of the varieties best kept outdoors. It's a fast, active variety, apparently developed in the US of A. Deserves better treatment than this.> She had the fish for about four months before I got him. I'm hoping his growth hasn't been completely stunted and that he'll get the benefit of a little more breathing room. <Hmm... a marginal improvement at best, like getting to choose between the arsenic or cyanide really.> In the meantime--his "bucket" has the same fine gravel that I used for the guppy and Betta tanks. It's definitely small enough to fit in his mouth, and he likes to pick the pieces up and spit them back out, which as I understand it is typical goldfish behavior. I've never seen him swallow one, but I'm worried that if he did, it's large enough that he wouldn't be able to pass it. Is he a gravel-swallowing case in the making, or should I leave well enough alone? <Goldfish sometimes do choke on coarse gravel, but pea gravel and better yet sand is absolutely ideal for them. They sift the substrate with their teeth (in their throats) and gills, and then spit the sand out. Any sand that carries on into the gut comes out the other end just fine. It's what they evolved to do.> Thanks, for the umpteenth time, for everything you all do--I've been visiting, searching, and reading the site for two and a half years now, and I don't know what I'd do without such a great resource. It's like having a good textbook that you can query! <I'm glad we're able to help.> Look forward to hearing from you, Rachel <Hmm... not sure you'll be too pleased with my analysis, but it's accurate and honest. The best I can do in this situation. Your move. Cheers, Neale.>

eSHa product info., link  7/23/08 Hi Bob & WWM crew, Just wondering if any of you have the composition for Isha2000; I cannot find it anywhere on the net. If you don't have the info do you think it would it be safe to use with Nerite snails? <Mmm, please see here: http://www.eshalabs.eu/pages_engels/faqs_engels.html> It would be used for columnaris & I am hoping my diagnosis is right: White lips, cottony growth from the mouth, fin rot. I introduced 5 Tanichthys linni into a quarantine tank 54L with 4 existing Tanichthys albonubes which had been there for 2 wks already - big mistake!. One linni mysteriously died & was found half eaten, another with a long stringy cotton substance hanging from it's swollen mouth was euthanized with clove oil & the remaining I took back to the shop annoyed after 8 weeks of waiting. One of them had Finrot - another mistake - triple check before purchase! The albonubes were hospitalized with Nifurpirinol for 4 days (repeating treatment on the 7th day) today they are back in the very clean quarantine tank which I dosed with Pimafix (Pimenta 1.0%) 4 days ago. I stopped with this product after 2 days only because my Nerite snails seemed to be robbed of oxygen & I couldn't stand the smell; changed the water at least 4 times. I feel that something nasty is lurking about as I have just caught one of the albonubes banging into the driftwood. I don't know if it was a good idea to put them back before doing the second half of Nifurpirinol. I have just added 1 flat teaspoon of rock salt. Two of the albonubes have very pale white lips & one as I can make out red lips with white spots, very difficult to judge as they move so quickly. They are not eating very much either maybe because of the treatment. I don't think the Nifurpirinol as worked very much & over here ?France? they do not have medicated food. Not allowed apparently! Water parameters: fine Another thing I am worried about is that I may have contaminated the main tank 200L by using the same equipment for cleaning purposes. If you could advise me on the next steps to take and diagnosis that would be great. I'm already attached to these cute little guys! So sorry for this long letter. Cheers Jeanette <Bob Fenner, sending to Neale for further input>

Re: Tanichthys spp.; Columnaris   7/23/08 Hi Bob & WWM crew, Just wondering if any of you have the composition for Isha2000; I cannot find it anywhere on the net. If you don't have the info do you think it would it be safe to use with Nerite snails? <It's eSHa 2000, made by the Dutch company eSHa Labs: http://www.eshalabs.com/esha2000.htm > It would be used for columnaris & I am hoping my diagnosis is right: White lips, cottony growth from the mouth, fin rot. <Certainly sounds like it.> I introduced 5 Tanichthys linni into a quarantine tank 54L with 4 existing Tanichthys albonubes which had been there for 2 wks already - big mistake!. One linni mysteriously died & was found half eaten, another with a long stringy cotton substance hanging from it's swollen mouth was euthanized with clove oil & the remaining I took back to the shop annoyed after 8 weeks of waiting. One of them had Finrot - another mistake - triple check before purchase! <Oh dear!> The albonubes were hospitalized with Nifurpirinol for 4 days (repeating treatment on the 7th day) today they are back in the very clean quarantine tank which I dosed with Pimafix (Pimenta 1.0%) 4 days ago. I stopped with this product after 2 days only because my Nerite snails seemed to be robbed of oxygen & I couldn't stand the smell; changed the water at least 4 times. <I'd probably remove Nerite snails while treating the tank. Put the snails in a large plastic carton or bucket, and put the lid on loosely to stop the snails escaping. If you change 50% the water daily, they should be fine during summer for a week like that.> I feel that something nasty is lurking about as I have just caught one of the albonubes banging into the driftwood. I don't know if it was a good idea to put them back before doing the second half of Nifurpirinol. <Diseases like Columnaris and Finrot don't "lurk" as such -- the bacteria are latent in all aquaria. Normally they do no harm provided the fish is healthy. Think of them as being like E. coli on humans. It is when the environment deteriorates for some reason they become trouble. So if you (or the pet shop) have problems with them, you (they) need to review issues such as nitrite, ammonia, and pH stability.> I have just added 1 flat teaspoon of rock salt. <Won't help at all, and could potentially stress these freshwater fish.> Two of the albonubes have very pale white lips & one as I can make out red lips with white spots, very difficult to judge as they move so quickly. They are not eating very much either maybe because of the treatment. I don't think the Nifurpirinol as worked very much & over here ?France? they do not have medicated food. Not allowed apparently! <Antibiotics for treating fish aren't available over-the-counter, i.e., from aquarium shops. But vets can supply them.> Water parameters: fine <Define "fine". It is really VERY rare for Columnaris to "come out of the blue" for no reason at all. So review conditions. It sounds like these fish were sick in the aquarium store though.> Another thing I am worried about is that I may have contaminated the main tank 200L by using the same equipment for cleaning purposes. <Possible, but as I say provided the 200 Litre tank contains healthy fish in a healthy environment, I'd be very surprised if they got sick.> If you could advise me on the next steps to take and diagnosis that would be great. I'm already attached to these cute little guys! So sorry for this long letter. Cheers Jeanette <Hope this helps! Bon chance, Neale.>

Re: Tanichthys spp.; Columnaris  7/24/08 Selon Dear Neale, Thank-you for your advice & indeed the grammar lessons!! <What grammar lesson? Nothing to do with me...> I have already looked at WWW.eshalabs.com. They state nowhere the composition for this product. I will contact them. <Likely a "trade secret" so I wouldn't be too hopeful!> Concerning the issue of antibiotics, sorry I did not make myself clear, I was referring to the antibiotic compounds readily available through the net and in the States e.g. Minocycline (Maracyn 2), tetracycline (Mardel) & Nitrofurazone (jungle labs) & maybe many many more. <These are ONLY readily available in the US; in the UK and France, and likely the European Union generally, they are not available (to the best of my knowledge anyway). The US has relatively lax rules on antibiotics compared with Europe, Canada and Australia. There are pros and cons to both sets of laws, outside the scope of this query!> These are prohibited in France for over-the-counter sales and through the net. Of course I can go to a vet to get these but I would be charged 50 Euros for the prescription. <Not different here in England, though much less expensive than 50 Euro. So I'd ring around your local vets. This is beside the point. The point is you can buy antibiotics over-the-counter! <No, I really can't!> Water parameters as follows: ph 8 GH 12°d KH 10°d No2 0 No3 13 Nh3 0 °C 26 <All sounds fine.> By the way "don't" is the correct informal spelling for "do not". <Indeed it is. This is apropos to what?> Thanks Jeanette <Cheers, Neale.>

Bala shark and silver dollar fish, hlth., eyes are more than mirrors of the soul...   7/3/08 Hi, I recently adopted 6 tropical fish. It was a long process. so the fish were without a filter and pump for about 3-4 hrs, but before we got to them they were in a large bucket with an air pump for about 2-3hrs. Anyways we got them setup in a 55 gal tank. The following morning we notice the Bala shark and silver dollar fish had cloudy eyes. All the other fish are fine. I would like to know are the fishes just stressed or does it sound like a parasite. We were told by the previous owners that they are all healthy. please write me back. Thank you Annie <Cloudy eyes can be caused by a variety of things, but by far the most probable are physical damage and/or water quality issues. If multiple fish have cloudy eyes, then I'd suggest water quality is the thing. So review in particular the nitrite and/or ammonia levels, and also check that the pH is stable (doesn't matter much what it is, just that it doesn't change). Repair water quality, starting at the least with a 50% water change using a good water conditioner. I'd also treat proactively with an anti-Finrot medication such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000. These medications will roll back any opportunistic bacterial infections that left untreated will blind your fish. Melafix and salt are largely worthless for this type of thing, so don't be conned into those! Cheers, Neale.>

Fish parasites 05/14/08 Hilo, <Hiya, Darrel here tonight -- the REALLY cool kids are off exploring the Red Sea and the inside of a number of sleazy dock-side bars and cantinas around the world. Those of us THAT DIDN'T GET INVITED are here filling in.  Bitter? Me? No way!> Situation: About 2 months ago I got 8 Cory cats into my new (3 months established at that time) planted tank, didn't quarantine and learned my lesson! <LIFE: LESSONS NOT INCLUDED!> 3 of the cories came down with ick and fungus, first I treated the planted tank with ick medicine and fungus medicine for 3 days and that didn't work, so I moved them to a 5 gallon treatment tank and only treated with increased temp to 82 C and salt for 1 week. They seemed ok after one week, so put the 3 cories back and a few days later several of the other cories got sick..so moved those ones to the medicine tank for same treatment but for 3 weeks. Moved them back into main tank, seemed ok for a few days and again one of the other cories now seems sick...they (3 different cories) are flashing very severely and one of them has reddened gills, but I cannot see ick spots. They are all eating fine and very active otherwise. I'm very frustrated at this musical chairs of some cories getting sick and some not and this constant re-infection... <Stop ........ I'm getting dizzy just reading about it> So today I moved all 8 cories (even though some of them seemed fine) into the quarantine tank and pretty sure I am just going to treat all of them for parasites tomorrow. How long should I now quarantine I was thinking 2 weeks? <think 6 weeks> The only other inhabitants of the main tank are 7 tetras. My question is: if I treat all my cories with Jungle parasite clear, should I move the tetras into the medicine tank and treat them too? The tetras have seemed fine from the beginning and have not come down with ick, fungus nor are they flashing. Are they harboring anything that they might then cross transfer to my cories when I return the cories? Is it possible for parasites to just infect certain species (i.e. Cory specific parasites)? <Fish can harbor parasites, for which they are not yet symptomatic, parasites for which they are essentially immune yet are carriers ... the list goes on. Ick treatments are noted to be toxic to Tetras. read here www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/ichfaqs.htm > Does my main tank have the parasites in it? <Absolutely! Ick needs a fish host in order to complete a life cycle. By leaving the planted tank nice, planted and empty of fish during the time the Corys are being treated and the Tetras isolated in yet another quarantine tank (MORE LESSONS!) the ick will not find a fish host and it's life cycle will be interrupted.> How do I treat the thank then because I have a planted tank? (The first time I tried treating the cories I put ick medicine and fungus medicine right in the tank and it was a disaster..my plants practically died..) Tank: 33gallon planted peat filtered Nitrates 5pmm nitrites 0 ammonia 0 ph 6.8 soft T 27 weekly water changes 20% thanks very much for any advice, you guys are great.. <Well, yes and no, maybe we're not. There is information on this one web site alone with more data, specifications, stories, anecdotes, warnings, tales, cautions, articles, sidebars, FAQ's and FGA's JUST ABOUT QUARANTINE ALONE ...... that there is no reason whatsoever that we shouldn't have reached you and convinced you ....but we didn't, did we? No matter how hard we try, we can't teach "experience"> cheers Terri <On the bottom of this page, Google Search Bar click WetWebMedia and type "Cory cat ick" and "tetra ick" and read, read, read! Oh ... one last thing ... patience>

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