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FAQs on the Livebearing Toothed Carps, Poeciliid Fishes Disease

Related Articles: Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Diseases of Livebearer FAQs: Platies, Platy Disease 2, Platy Disease 3, Mollies, Molly Disease 2, Guppies, Guppy Disease 2, Swordtails, & Poeciliids 1, Poeciliids 2, Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, MolliesLivebearer Identification, Livebearer Behavior, Livebearer Compatibility, Livebearer Selection, Livebearer Systems, Livebearer Feeding, Livebearer Reproduction,

Juvenile Male Guppy Endler's Hybrid    3/1/18
Before I begin with my query I'd like to thank WWM for providing useful, fact-based information.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I wasn't even aware of the vastness of information until I began looking for an answer and spent a couple hours reading pages that dated back more than a decade! After all that time, my head is spinning with newly acquired knowledge, but I have yet to find an answer. I have a juvenile male guppy Endler's hybrid that appears to have his insides outside. All I could find online was about prolapse and tumors.
<Sounds horrible. Cut a long story short, a prolapse will usually look like a certain length of digestive tract emerging from the vent (the combined reproductive and excretory opening in front of the anal fin). Expect to see an off-white tube, perhaps long and thing, but often rounded, even bun-like in shape. But centered on the vent, in any case. Anything thin and reddish-brown or pink emerging from the vent is likely to be Camallanus worms, which may even wriggle obviously. Anything more serious emerging from the vent is likely to be untreatable and probably fatal.>
I know it can't be the former and I doubt it's the latter. It is not a parasite either. The fish is 0.5"-0.75" and the growth or gut is smack dab in the middle of his pectoral fins and pelvic fins.
<Is it not emerging from the vent then?>
It is flesh toned and about 0.375" long. He seems in good health otherwise.
<If it is merely some type of growth, there's nothing you can do anyway, and it's unlikely to be contagious. May as well allow the fish to live its life, and only intervene if there's evidence that it is struggling.>
I prefer to not euthanize my pets, and have 2 small tanks, 1 for each gender, for fish that would normally be culled.
However, if this is a herniated organ, I can only assume it is painful and terminal, and I am willing to make an exception and euthanize.
<If the fish is in pain -- which is difficult to define in fish, given their lack of pain receptors as we understand them -- the fish will likely be skittish and nervous. Rather like when cats are in pain they go hide under beds or wherever, unable to separate the concept of an internal source of pain from the pain caused by a predator, so they hide. But if the fish is otherwise normal, chasing about the other fish, eating normally, and so on -- take that for what it is, the best way we have to judge the stress level of the fish in question. We mustn't anthropomorphise, of course, because that can lead to animal cruelty; but at the same time, being humans, we are able to use critical thinking to try and judge if the animal is not behaving normally. Such would indicate, at the least, stress, and perhaps, whatever the fish equivalent of pain might be.>
If you would like to see a photo, just request it and I'll do my best lol!
I'd take it now, but after hours perusing your site, my mammalian pets are demanding attention. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work.
<A sharp photo of the fish would be useful, but perhaps the above notes help as they are!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Live-bearers "wasting away"      10/6/14
Hi there! Question for ya. Over the last few years, I end up w a live bearer (I have Mollies and platys) who's spine starts to droop. Kind of in a "c" shape over time...
<If they're like this from the day you buy them, likely genetic. If you have livebearers that start out normal but months or years later become crooked, then there are a range of explanations. The most common is bacterial infection such as Mycobacteria, which is essentially untreatable.
Remove and humanely euthanise affected fish, e.g., using Clove Oil as described elsewhere on this site. Review aquarium conditions. Mycobacteria are probably latent in most aquaria, and are certainly very common among certain farmed fish in particular livebearers and Dwarf Gouramis. However, environmental conditions tip the Mycobacteria from merely being in the tank to actively harming your fish. Water chemistry is the big one to check with most livebearers as they need hard/alkaline conditions to do well, but obviously water quality is critical too, as with any fish. The use of marine aquarium salt mix at 3-5 gram/litre is very useful if you're uncertain about water chemistry and are keeping just livebearers (soft water fish such as tetras won't be happy with the salt). One big issue with fancy livebearers is chronic inbreeding, with Lordosis and scoliosis being extremely common, and frequently perpetuated where hobbyists don't remove deformed fish from their breeding colonies.>
Their belly also starts to suck in... They just kind of waste away and die :( I have read that it could be parasites, I've treated individual fish that show the signs, but have never saved them, and I have treated the entire tank. (All With clout) I have asked everyone I know if they've ever heard of this, answer is always no.
<Seems bizarre, as Mycobacteria infection-related deformities among livebearers are very well known and described by serious hobbyists.
Sometimes called "Wasting Disease" among Guppy breeders. Do review this excellent summary by noted fish vet Dr. Peter Burgess, here: http://www.fancyguppies.co.uk/page42.htm
As Peter makes clear, it's a chronic problem, it's transmitted in a variety of ways including the ingestion of corpses or even faeces by other fish in the tank, and it's very difficult to treat. On the other hand, strict
quarantining of new livestock can go a long way towards keeping it out of established aquaria. Alternatively, avoid fancy Guppies in favour of hardier varieties, such as wild-caught or even crossbred "feeder" Guppies, ideally maintained in brackish rather than fresh water. Under-stocking is another useful tool, since Mycobacteria infections are so clearly related to environmental stress; put another way, the better maintained the aquarium, the less of a problem Mycobacteria infections tend to be.>
I asked my LFS and try sent me here. My water quality is pretty good almost always... Every now and then, the nitrates get a little high...
Thanks or your thoughts!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Hi Neale - Heterandria formosa, hlth..      8/10/13
Hi Neale,
How are you?
<Well, thank you.>
One of my Heterandria formosa has... whitening at the end of her tail and it looks like the top part of her caudal fin is gone.  The white spot is a large area of lack of color starting on the base of the body (I believe it is called the caudal peduncle or keel) and extends into the caudal fin. 
It does not look like icky. 
<It's not... it looks like fungus.>
Pictures are attached.  I have noticed a second smaller fish that looks like it is developing the same white spot.  I'm wondering if the tank should be treated with medicine, and if so with which?
<A reliable anti-fungus medication; at this point I'd skip Melafix and find something a bit stronger and more reliable. I'd also be tempted to add salt to the water if the rest of the tank won't mind. 2-3 gram/litre would be a good start, and above 5 g/l (about a tablespoon per US gal.) the salt alone will usually clear up the fungus. Do bear in mind Heterandria formosa has very good tolerance of salt, so there's little risk involved using salt.>
Water Parameters (this right before their weekly water change):
pH 8.0
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate 20 ppm
Kh 7 dkH (125.3 ppm/KH)
GH 17 dkH (conversion chart doesn't go that high, but 17 drops to go from orange to green)
Temperature is in the mid 70Fs, there is no heater in the tank.
This is the same tank and colony we chatted about a few years back (and I still have the Gambusia affinis in another tank).  No new plants, fish or shrimp have been added to the tank since 2010.  (I tried Cherry shrimp but none survived, probably from the Prazi Pro in the tank a few months before for deworming).
I'm also wondering if I should deworm the colony again, I have noticed a few females that get really thin.
Thanks for your insights and advice!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Hi Neale - Heterandria formosa    8/12/13
Hi Neale,
Thanks for your reply, I'll get some anti-fungus medication today.
<Real good.>
There is java moss in the aquarium, will it be okay with a tablespoon of salt per gallon?
<Yes, but if in doubt, take a clump of moss out, stick in a jam jar or similar, fill with water, and place somewhere bright but not in direct sunlight, and it should grow fine for a couple weeks, enough to "re-seed" the tank if needed. You will probably need to change the water every few days, especially if it goes green. If it goes brown, likely the Java Moss is getting too hot, hence avoid direct light. This trick for preserving aquarium plants can be handy if you have plants that you aren't sure will
survive some course of medication.>
If so, is marine salt (like Instant Ocean) okay to use?
<It's okay, though it will raise hardness and pH (which is fine for both Java Moss and Dwarf Mosquitofish). Normally aquarists treating freshwater fish will rely on plain aquarium salt (essentially non-iodised cooking "sea salt", often called Kosher Salt in the US). But in this case, the marine aquarium salt will be fine because your species don't mind the slight pH
and hardness rise.>
<Quick tip: measure out the salt as required, put into a jug or container, add warm water to dissolve (tap water will be fine) to make a brine. Now add, in stages across, say, half an hour, the salt to the aquarium. This gives the fish, plants and filter bacteria a little time to adjust. Adding salt crystals directly to the aquarium is a bad idea, but I'm sure you know that! Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Hi Neale - Heterandria formosa     8/13/13

Hi Neale,
Thanks for your help.  I bought Ampicillin and started treating yesterday.
Will the fish that in the photographs be okay to leave in the tank, or will leaving her in increase the chance of fungus returning?
<The fungi that attack your fish are the same fungi that do a good job helping to keep your aquarium clean. They're purely opportunistic, and if your fish are healthy and unstressed, they simply break down fish faeces and uneaten food into molecules the biological filter can process -- which is obviously important and beneficial. So, there's no point isolating fish
with fungal infections because all aquaria have these fungi anyway. In other words, treat the affected fish in the main aquarium. The exception would be where the infected fish had other problems that meant it couldn't swim or feed normally, and needed time away from the other fish in the main aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hi Neale - Heterandria formosa     8/14/15
Thanks Neale!
<Welcome, Neale.>

Retail fish store questions, treatment/s for livebearer losses     – 11/19/12
I recently found your site and it has been very helpful, so thanks!  I run a retail full line pet store and have had some years hobbyist experience (though we know how different that is!).  However, I have had some struggles with disease.
 <Most all of us do; in fact, there are no exceptions I'm aware of>
  We currently follow your acclimation procedures, but do not have the facilities to quarantine.  We have been feeding frozen food with Metronidazole and Sea Chem's focus as well as a few drops of liquid garlic every other day for the first week upon arrival.  This has done away with the Ich issue and helped with overall health.

  However, we still get issues with our live bearers and some bacterial problems.  I prefer not to add too much to the system for obvious reasons, would rather have things fed to them orally when possible.  Any suggestions are much appreciated!
<Mmm, well, you do what you can water-quality wise I take it... provide a good staple food (am a huge fan of the Spectrum line)... Do you have a system in-place for tracking losses, including the sources... where you buy from? This can really help in the long/er haul. Please see here Re:
Thank you!
<There are some pro-biotic items of worth... I really don't want to encourage you, the practice of continuously feeding Metronidazole (too toxic in constant use) or antibiotics (trouble to no use), even Anthelminthics... Bob Fenner>

help again please!  11/08/11
hi guys I have wrote to you before, please help again
I have a 95 litre tank in it I have: 1 Dalmatian molly,
1 fancy tailed male guppy,
1 fancy tailed
female guppy,
2 coral red platy,
2 dwarf Gourami,
5 neon tetras
1 catfish,
and a Suckermouth.
my problem is in the last 2 days I have lost 2 female guppies, a male guppy, and a male molly. my cat fish has became slow and just sits at the bottom of the tank, my remaining molly sometimes floats about the tank as though she is a piece of paper and my Gourami are just sitting at the bottom of the tank. my ph levels are down to 6.0
<This is at least part of the problem>
and I am finding it difficult to fix that. is this why my fish are dying?
please help me I love having my tank but I cannot seem to get it right to enjoy it and it is really stressing me out. thank you
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm
and the linked files above. I would be adding/mixing a commercial buffer (or at least Baking Soda) in with some system water... Stat! Bob Fenner>

Re: thank you and help... molly, platy... hlth f'?    9/13/2011
Ok, my fish are all looking really healthy now, thank you! My problem is my ammonia has started to creep up a little, though I have been doing weekly 10% water changes
and trying to feed less, though I swear my fish are starving! Today ph is 5.5,
<Doink! Much too low...>
Alk 180, nitrite 0, nitrate 40 and ammonia .05.
<... ? Heeeeeeee!>
I did a 1.5 gal water change(time issue) and noticed a couple fry in the tank. Confusing though because my black molly is still pregnant (can she have just a few and then have more later?)
<Oh, yes>
or could my Sailfin molly been pregnant without even appearing so?
I wanted to put the babies in my old 5 gal tank which has been running for about a month empty and I have added some natural bio stuff to it. I was wondering if any previous disease has since died off with no host for such a long period and if so is it safe to add the fry to, or do I need to empty it and start it with new water?
I have added lots of plants and hiding spots in the 10 gallon tank since the last batch of babies I just don't know the chances of survival if I am already struggling with the ammonia?
Thanks again, I love this site!
<... Have you read on it re NH3/NH4OH? B>

Fry question   3/27/11
Hi Crew,
I just set up a 10-gallon tank to rear my P. wingei fry. I moved several in last night, proper acclimation, proper temperature, clean water. I found all the fry on the bottom of the tank this morning. Very strange.
The only thing I can think of is that the HOB filter is creating too much current in the tank and the fish die from fatigue after swimming in the current.
<Can be; air-powered filters are best in breeding tanks. Whatever filter you use, keep current gentle, less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and ideally 2 times.>
These fry have been pretty hardy in the past. I dropped one into a brackish tank as a feeder without acclamation and it survived easily, so the current is the only explanation I can think of. Is that a reasonable
<Yep, plus the general issue that sodium chloride reduces nitrite and nitrate toxicity, both of which are problems in fry-rearing tanks, as well as the plain fact Guppies generally enjoy very slightly brackish
I'll be changing it out for a sponge filter before I try again, but I wanted to bounce it off you guys, too.
<I use a plain vanilla box/corner filter in my fry tanks, so I can stuff ceramic hoops from mature filters into them as/when required. Sponge filters do need to be kept "live" all the time, otherwise the bacteria will
die (or at least go dormant) between uses. Cheers, Neale.>
More dead fry, Re livebearers   3/28/11

With small corner filter (same air-driven physics as a sponge filter) now installed with low airflow, I moved 5 fry in on Saturday. they survived the night and I moved another 20 fry in yesterday. I woke up today to a bunch of dead fry again. Only 4 or 5 very young fry are still swimming about.
The entire setup is new, not enough time to generate any nitrogen compounds. I dechlorinated. Temperature is the same as the tank I'm pulling them from. I have no absolutely idea what could be killing them. Any thoughts?
<These were the Endler's, right? My guess here would be they were prematurely born. This is not uncommon among livebearers. Such fry rarely last for long. Moving them from one tank to another might have been the final stress that killed them. You'll have a bunch more 4-6 weeks from now -- see what happens that time around. Move the pregnant female into the fry-rearing tank as far before she's likely to release the fry as possible, and carry using a plastic cup rather than a net, so she's not brought out the water. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: More dead fry (ah, for the love of Ceratopteris!)  3/29/11

Catching the females is much easier said than done. They are all wary now and hide at the bottom under the plants. Even when lured with food. (In that way a bit smarter than mollies.) I may need to drain the tank 80% to have a chance at segregating these fish.
<Ah, this is where floating Indian Fern comes into play. This turns your aquarium into a nice safe nursery! The males can't harass the females too much (if all else fails, remove the males to a breeding net or another
tank). Fry can hide among the plants safely for at least a few hours, if not indefinitely, giving you time to find them and remove them (again, to a breeding net or another tank). You'll find many, if not most, livebearer breeders use floating plants extensively. Indian Fern is perhaps the most useful plant in the hobby, and I'd argue only slightly less useful than filtration, and certainly more useful than test kits!
Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish water and Guppies?   9/1/10
Yesterday, my favorite very unique Platy showed the very beginning signs of sickness that leads to rapid death.
<I see. One problem with farmed livebearers is a certain tendency towards Mycobacteria infections, typically associated with red sores on the bodies, wasting, and then death. Not much you can do about that. But otherwise livebearers tend to be quite tough, if given the right conditions. In the case of Platies, cool, moderately hard, basic water is what you want; 22-24 C, 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8.>
I have had many fish that have died and know the signs. But loosing this platy would of sent me over the edge so I took a bold step and added 2 gallons of Spring water that I put 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt in each.
<Okay. Now, do understand that while salt can help, it's not a miracle.
Among other misconceptions, recall that salt doesn't do anything to raise hardness. So if you have soft water, salt isn't what you want, at least, not on its own. Marine aquarium salt mix is somewhat different because it includes other minerals that do raise hardness and pH, and 5-6 grammes/litre would be easily tolerated by Platies and indeed all other livebearers too.>
Unfortunately this was my first time using salt so I was unaware to make sure it was completely dissolved and melted.
<It's not a big deal, so don't panic about this. A few grains of undissolved salt won't kill your fish.>
I than added an air stone to help circulate more oxygen into the tank.
<Good. In summer especially Platies can easily be overheated 25 C/77 F is really at the top end of their comfort zone, and they're far healthier kept cooler than that.>
This is a 10 gal tank that has been cycled along time ago.
<A bit on the small side for Platies, to be honest. Stress between fighting males, or males harassing pregnant females, can lead to "unexplained" deaths.>
All I have in the tank are 2 platy's and 1 guppy. Let me back up and say that I lost an additional platy that was in this tank, only a few days ago.
I did not have any nitrate/ammonia test strips at home so I had to make a quick guess.
<You should have these two test kits: pH and nitrite (nitrite with an "i", not nitrate with an "a"). If you give me these two pieces of information, I can be A LOT more helpful.>
Well the moment I added the salt & air stone the platy I love came out of hiding and looking sick, and started to soar all over the tank, and is doing just fine. I was so excited as this is the first time I have been able to reverse a death. However the guppy after only one night in the brackish tank, has taken fatally ill. The last time I saw him this morning he was shaking under a rock, and now I have come home 6 hours later and he is nowhere to be found.
<The amount of salt you added, 1 tablespoon/3 teaspoons per US gallon is not that much. I actually prefer weights because not everyone's spoons are the same sizes! One level teaspoon of salt should be about 6 grammes, which is very easy to remember. A tablespoon will be three times that, i.e., 18 grammes. Normal seawater contains about 35 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, or about 6 teaspoons. One US gallon is 3.8 litres, so that's 133 grammes per US gallon. The reason I'm telling you all this is to point out that your roughly 18 grammes of salt per gallon, or 4.7 grammes per litre, is about one-seventh (14%) the salinity of normal seawater. That's well within the tolerances of Guppies and Platies. So there's no reason at all to imagine the salt killed either fish.>
I have not removed everything yet to find him. As the tank was just cleaned and set back up and the air stone is just perfect.
<Okay. But you really do need to test the pH (to see if the water chemistry is right for livebearers) and the nitrite (to make sure water quality is good). You want a pH around 7.5, and a nitrite level of zero.>
Questions: Is the salt compatible with guppies (brackish water)?
<Yes. In fact Guppies are arguably happier and healthier in slightly brackish water. Certainly they do better in such conditions than they will do in soft water.>
And how long can I leave the guppy "lost" or dead before I have to find him?
<If he's alive, you should see him within the next day or two. Check he hasn't jumped out, swum into the filter, got stuck behind objects inside the tank, etc.>
Will disease travel throughout the tank if not removed promptly?
<Depends on the disease. Many are opportunistic, and they exists in most aquaria all the time. They only cause problems when we, the aquarists, stress our fish and weaken their immune systems.>
If I find him, alive but sick, is there anything I can do for the poor guy.
<Depends on what's wrong with him. You haven't really supplied me with any useful information on water chemistry or water quality. Without lists of symptoms, or a photo (no bigger than about 500 KB!) I can't say anything at all about disease.>
If I take him out of the brackish water the tank I put him in will not have cycled water in it?
<And that would be bad.>
I appreciate your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update: Brackish water and Guppies?
In response to some of your questions below; first let me state none of my fish are female livebearers.
All 3 fish are MALE 2 small Platies and 1 guppy, so I thought a 10 gal was more than adequate.
<Not the case, unfortunately. Males will squabble in tanks this small.>
I was able to test the water today and it appears the Nitrate is in caution (20ppm) the nitrite is perfect! (0) The hardness is ideal (300ppm). The alkalinity is high (300ppm) and the PH is between 8-8.5 Please tell me what I should do to correct any of this?
<Nothing. That's all fine for livebearers.>
The guppy (which I found) is real lethargic sitting behind the filter canister, the platy that seemed to come back from the dead yesterday has been hiding under a rock ledge, and my other platy who has not showed any sign of distress is now inside the tunnel hole.
<Could be stress from fighting. But my gut feeling is Mycobacteriosis, sometimes called Wasting Disease. This is very common among livebearers.
For some reason juveniles don't often show the symptoms, but as the fish mature they start to waste away, getting thinner and often exhibiting poor colouration and sores on their flanks. It's essentially incurable and very contagious, so it's important to euthanise infected fish and isolate the affected tank from any others in your house, e.g., by not sharing nets or buckets.
Water quality seems fine, and water chemistry shouldn't be a problem either.>
Help! What do I need to do? Can I save them??
<Sorry I can't offer any better advice. A photo of the ailing fish would really help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update and photos 9/3/10
I appreciate all your advice, but still you keep making reference to livebearers, which I thought were only females?
<Nope. "Livebearers" is the word given to species that produce fully-formed young rather than eggs. Both male and female Guppies and Platies are livebearers. Just the same way both men and women are placental mammals, even though it's only women who get pregnant.>
and my fish are male. They never fight. Because their is nothing to fight over.
<If you say so.>
No females ever in the house/tank. I have attached some pics however I am afraid they are not clear enough very hard to do.
<Indeed. With respect, blurry photos don't help me at all. I can't really tell anything about the fish from that photo. Do use the "macro" setting on your camera, and you'll find close-up shots easier to take.>
The yellow one is the guppy that is very sick, sits by back of filter, but will come out and swim all around and eat. The orange platy appears to be fine. The white spotted Platies (very rare gorgeous fish) is the one I love the most.
His color is very brilliant white not faded at all. but his gills are red and look a little swollen but seem to have always been like that. These 3 fish have been in this tank for at least 6 months if not longer. Other fish have passed on but it never affected them.
<Do understand that Guppies and Platies should live 3-4 years. If they only live for a year, then something may be amiss with the aquarium or the way you are keeping them. Review the needs of livebearing fish:
Also review the basics of fishkeeping:
Be under no illusion about this: 99% of premature deaths in aquaria are caused by the fishkeeper doing something wrong. In the right conditions, fish are much less likely to get sick than most other pet animals.>
This gut feeling you have about Mycobacteriosis does it affect males?
and will they still be so eager to eat, as mine are?
<Generally no. So that's a good sign. If Mycobacteriosis isn't the issue, review Finrot, which affects the fins and skin and looks like red or white patches. Finrot is almost always caused by either physical damage or poor environmental conditions. It's easy enough to cure if caught early, but you do need to provide the right living conditions for them to recover.
They come running out of hiding and scarf the food down. Very strange. I also thought maybe the airstone bubbles/noise could be spooking them or is stressful, hence making them hide.
<Possibly; Guppies dislike strong water currents, but at the same time, one small airstone shouldn't be a big deal.>
Won't more salt be helpful to stop the infection from spreading so quickly?
<No, salt doesn't have any effect on Finrot or bacterial infections. Marine fish can get Finrot, and they're kept in seawater! Anyone who tells you salt helps cure bacterial diseases is an idiot.>
Or other bacteria kill stuff?
<If by "bacteria kill stuff" you mean an antibiotic medication like Maracyn, or an antimicrobial product like eSHa 2000, then yes, that can help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pix too poor to be of use 

Re: macro pics   9/4/10
I am going to try one more time. I have attached 3 pix of Butter Cup the yellow guppy. I know it still may be hard to see the coat of his body.
<Still impossible to see anything. If the image isn't sharp, it's useless. Try, try, and try again, I'm afraid! Don't point the camera directly at the glass because then it acts like a mirror; angle the camera so you're pointing slightly below or above the fish. The flash won't bounce off the glass so badly.>
His fins look good to me no rot, however his gills are severely deformed and I think you can notice that a bit in the photo's, can you see it?
<Not really. But anyway, if the deformity to the gill covers have always been there, then the chances are they're not the cause of sickness. If the gills have suddenly become deformed, then that's another issue, and most likely an issue connected to water quality.>
Other than a slight bent posture which he always had that I thought was odd, the gills are the only thing looking really wrong. In the first pix as luck has it, there is a pretty good shot of Paprika the spotted platy with the orange tail. She looks okay to me, except as you can see the pix her gills are very red. Is this normal?
<Not normal. You shouldn't normally see the red gill filaments at all. In some cases inbreeding means that the gill covers are deformed and the gill filaments are more obvious. While such fish might be marginally more delicate, there's no particular reason deformed gill covers should cause sickness. But as stated before, if the gills have suddenly become deformed or more obviously red, then that's a problem.>
One more issue I do have a lot of direct sunlight from a sky light just above the tank, sometimes during peak time I will shade the tank with a towel. However I do have a lot of algae. I try and clean it off often. However I am wondering if algae can cause sickness?
<No, but overheating if temperature goes up dramatically can stress fish.>
What is the best way to control Algae?
<Read here:
Usually the addition of fast-growing plants under bright lighting is required. The addition of algae-eating Nerite snails may help, but every time you add an animal to an aquarium you make water conditions worse. Shops will sell you algae-eating fish, but mostly these are more trouble than they're worth, especially the cheap "Chinese Algae Eaters" and common Plecs.>
Lastly, if your advice is still euthanasia. Which is the most humane way? I heard to drop the fish in ice cold water, I also heard let it freeze slowly to death in the freezer.
<Not quite.>
the Internet says to smash its head with a hammer. I am afraid I could not do that one. If we are sure. I don't want to see the little guy suffer, so please let me know your preferred method.
<Do read here:
Once again Thank you very much, I appreciate all the advice you are giving me.
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.> 


Dying mollies & guppies, 5/11/10
Hi team,
Really need your help my once beautiful 20 ltr tank has now become the tank of death.
<Small tanks often do.>
I have 5 guppies ( was 9), 1 red wag tail & 1 white balloon Mollie (1 light orange/white molly dead) oh plus 4 well developing orange fry ( were 20 but gave some away and the rest went back to the pet shop).
<Way too much for a 20 ltr tank.>
As you can see the drop in numbers my tank has disappearing fish both guppies and Mollies.
<Both are sensitive to water quality and need a larger, more stable tank.>
This is where it gets scary, but I started with my 9 guppies and suddenly one day 3 were gone and 1was missing almost all of it's tail so I needed some New friends for them and my partner liked the mollies.
<More fish equals worse conditions which equals more dead fish.>
Little did either of us know that they were males and females and so one of them gave birth to roughly 20 fry which I read was normal only just figured out with the help of another article my red wagtail is a male and my white balloon must be the female.
Woke up about 2 Weekends ago to find my gorgeous light orange/ white mollies carcass cleaned out tails fins most of body floating at the top of my tank behind my filter. I just cleaned tank tonight again and
found the poor dragon guppy that lost his tail from the last disappearances dead also floating carcass.
I don't understand their well fed fish mornings and afternoon after work.
<You have not only too many fish in a tiny tank, but also inappropriate fish for that sized tank.>
Please give me some suggestion or idea of what's happening with my fish are they carnivorous now or is there something in my water killing them some how one day their all there and the next the guppies
disappear in full or the Mollie leaves a carcass
Help me I'm not an accessory to murder am I eeeekk
<Start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestk.htm, and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm for a start. The tank is just too small for the fish you have.>

At a loss, please help... FW livebearers...    5/4/10
Hello. My name is Laurie and I have read many questions and your spirited answers and have learned and enjoyed them.
<Good oh.>
Having said that, I seem to have myself in a fish predicament that I am not sure how to deal with (or maybe I just don¹t enjoy the thought of what I seem to think the answer is). Either way, here goes. This is not my first picnic (with fish), and so this will not be a question of how many per gallon of tank or how to equalize PH or any of that.
<Hmm, well, we'll see.>
Please note that I am no fish-whisperer, yet rather that I understand the basic necessities of water temp and condition conducive to fish.
Now, to my issue. Situation: 55 Gallon tank Water Condition: Excellent from the test of nitros to the temp (controlled by heater ­ checked daily)
<I really do need numbers here. Water chemistry preferred by Mollies is too hard and saline for Bettas; temperature required by Mollies and Bettas is too high for Platies. So what you think is "excellent" may not be what I, or Mother Nature, think acceptable.>
Weekly add in or 25% change when sucker looks overwhelmed we let the water test be our guide. Inhabitants: One beautiful male Beta,
<Betta, not Beta. The name rhymes with "better", even in American English.>
Our sucker (left to his own devices and with enough room will grow to about a foot and a half ­ thanks, PetSmart),
<If Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, this is a waste of tank space and a potential hazard. For this tank, Ancistrus spp. would be infinitely better than Gyrinocheilus or Pterygoplichthys.>
Two black Mollies (both male), Two White Mollies (both male) and God Help Us, Now 8 Platys (well, adult anyway).
<Mollies don't usually do well when kept as cool as Platies prefer, or vice versa.>
This wasn¹t always the case.... We did our homework, so we thought and decided that we would keep out tank fry free. With the typical result being that the male species was prettier to look at, we decided on an all male enclosure. UNTIL (sorry for the caps) my husband decided that Platys were a replacement for the two orange fish we lost (Ghories, just starting up) He thought to make me happy, until I noticed that two were female and two were male...uh oh. I went online and quickly learned that with existing fish our size along with the attrition rate of parental, uh diet, we should not worry. Until I noticed that our female Platy were literally swimming for their lives.
<No real surprise. Keep at least twice as many females as males. Add Indian Fern or similar floating vegetation as well.>
But it wasn¹t just that.
<For some reason, there are superscript ones appearing where apostrophes should be. Weird.>
As fat as they were, the two males were relentlessly poking them in the belly. (Please note that I am a mother of four and would not be okay at any point, let alone when I was with child(ren having someone poke me in the belly).
<Yes, hence the need for many more females than males.>
Again, wonder of ages, I consulted the web along and found the ratio to be wrong ­ Have I mentioned no experience with live-bearing fish?
Immediately, I sent my husband to the store for ­ and sorry if this is against the rules, ³hookers² for the male fish.
<Now superscripts twos and threes!>
The information made it seem it would be a godsend. A two to one or three to one ratio, said the Platy site I had consulted. Yikes! Hubby came home with 5 new ladies. Well, at least the males stopped bothering the two as much and as a woman, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Until, my daughter noticed the other day we have ³guests². They are so tiny and so cute (we have seven confirmed ­ not fry, baby fish) that at first I was elated. Here comes the uh-oh. What to do now?
My husband says we will have to take matters into our own hands to "Control" the situation.
<You can, or you can stock some sort of small predator such as Aplocheilus lineatus, African Butterflyfish or even Angelfish that will view baby fish as food.>
By this he means Œocean-treatment¹ for the boys.
<Do not flush fish! It's cruel. Euthanising fish isn't difficult, and if you have kids, you probably have the required Clove Oil hanging around the house anyway.
20-30 drops/litre does the trick nicely.>
As much as it pains me, I know that fish need their space and we cannot have a platy breeding farm.
<Indeed, but with a few predators in the system this will be less of a problem than you think.>
I could find the boys homes but will they live without their female companions, and vice versa, will all the ladies (all the babies seem to be female based on the fins) be okay without males with them?
<You can't sex the fry until they're 2-3 months old, at which point the anal fins acquire their distinctive shapes. All newborn fry "look" female.>
Please help, gods and goddesses of the fish world. I had hoped to avoid this and maybe I feed my fish too much, but they are all still with me. They have names (yes, even the littl¹ ones) and I don¹t want anyone to be hurt. Thank you for your forum. Laurie
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: At a loss, please help...   5/4/10
Thank you for your advice, Neale! Sorry about the superscripts, looks fine on my end so it must be a Mac/PC compatibility issue.
<I have a Mac, too.>
Thank you for your ideas, that seems a much better idea than Hubby's. He will be going to the store today for one of the predator fish you mentioned.
<Do "hunt" around for the so-called Golden Wonder Killi, and artificial form of Aplocheilus lineatus. These fish are stunningly beautiful, and at up to 10 cm long when mature, more than capable of eating Platy fry. Mildly territorial though, so if you keep more than one, provide some floating plants for shelter.>
As always, your site and advice are fantastic!
<Kind of you to say so. Cheers, Neale.>

Livebearers and Salt   5/2/10
I have a 40 gallon freshwater tank and in it is Gouramis, swordtails, neon tetras and a Pleco.
<Most Plecs will quickly outgrow 40 gallons, assuming we're talking about Hypostomus/Pterygoplichthys type things.>
I have tested the water and had it tested by two different pet stores and both stores said the water quality is fine and it was fine when I tested
<"Fine" doesn't mean much; give me the numbers. Why? Because what's "fine" for Neons can be lethal for Swordtails. Neons come from soft, acidic streams and are happiest maintained between pH 6.5 and 7.5, hardness 5-10 degrees dH. Swordtails come from limestone streams, and they need much more alkaline water: pH 7.5-8, hardness 10+ degrees dH. You can't actually create conditions ideal for both species, so whatever you do, one will always be stressed to some degree.>
and there is no signs of any parasites or anything on any of the fish they look fine but for some reason some of the swordtails have been sluggish, lethargic and sit at the bottom of the tank and I have lost a couple of
<Swordtails need a bunch of things to be happy. Firstly, the water shouldn't be too warm: 22-25 C/72-75 F. Secondly, the water should be hard and alkaline, as explained above. Finally, the water needs a strong water current. Just look at their streamlined shape! Gouramis are fish for swampy habitats, so they have deep bodies. Swordtails have streamlined shapes, and need strong water currents. Gouramis would hate the sort of tanks Swordtails prefer, and vice versa. As we state repeatedly here at WWM, it's critical to choose fish that share the same requirements: water chemistry, temperature, and water current.>
however the Gouramis, tetras and Pleco all seem perfectly fine and there has been no new fish added to the tank so I am at a loss as to what's wrong with them.
<See above.>
I went to a well known pet store and "knowledgeable" after telling her everything I just told you and testing my water witch again came out fine told me that anytime they are sluggish or clamped fins and no signs of
disease witch there isn't to add salt to the water and she even demonstrated for me she grabbed a handful of salt and threw it into the tank and said that's what you do so I bought a box
<Hmm... not really what you're meant to do. In some instances salt is
therapeutic, but you have to measure the amount of salt you use, at least
I however have not used it yet because after some reading around on the internet I have seen a lot of back and forth some saying no way !! Do not use salt !!!
<The addition of 2-3 grammes of salt per litre can be therapeutic when livebearers aren't behaving properly, especially in soft water conditions. But that amount of salt will stress soft water fish like Neons in the long
And I checked with a smaller locally owned very good pet store that has been around for 40 yrs. and I trust there knowledge and have had very good luck with any fish I have bought there...asked them about adding salt after explaining the situation and they also said no you don't need to add salt just put in a good water treatment/conditioner as that has worked very well for them over the years.
<It is certainly true that you do not need to use salt for Swordtails, Platies or Guppies if the aquarium has clean, hard, basic water. Mollies is more of a tricky one, since they really do seem to need at least slightly
brackish conditions to be "easy" to keep.>
So I am rather confused do I add salt or no as there is sooooo much back and forth about it or add a some water conditioner and just let things be for a bit ?
<See above. Without knowing real details about your tank, I can't say anything sensible. In the meantime do read:
Any help or advice would be great. Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Livebearers and Salt   5/3/10
It sounds like the best way to go is ether with Gouramis or Swordtails and that they are not the best to mix together
Heh as far as keeping them both happy and comfortable ..can Gouramis and tetras survive and be comfortable in the same tank ?
<Yes, so long as the Tetras you choose [a] need the same temperature water; and [b] they aren't a nippy species like Serpae, Black Widow, Colombian and a few other tetras species.>
And thanks a lot for the info you gave me it was very helpful.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Livebearers and Salt
Do you know of any good sites that give you some guidelines as to what are suitable tank mates for Gouramis (gold Gouramis) ?
<Do read here, and linked articles:
Female Three-spot Gouramis are basically peaceful and can be mixed with most community fish that require similar water chemistry, temperature.
Males are aggressive towards one another and other Gouramis, and sometimes also similar-looking fish, for example Angelfish.>
Just so I know in future what fish to avoid mixing with them chances are for awhile at least I am not going to introduce any new fish for awhile but its still good to have something to refer to.
<Good choices would be Diamond Tetras, X-ray Tetras, Lemon Tetras, Penguin Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Scissortail Rasboras, Corydoras sterbai,
Ancistrus spp. catfish, Horseface Loaches, Kuhli Loaches, Cherry Barbs, 5-banded Barbs, among others.>
Thanks again for your help :)
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fearful to lose her :) FW... livebearer hlth., sys.     12/13/09
Hello! I've Googled and read up but I can't decide what is hurting my fish and I don't want to dose her with unnecessary things if she has something else entirely, so I'm writing you wonderful folks again.
I wrote before a few years ago concerning my tiger barbs and you helped so much, this time I have more fish (no worries the older ones were given a new home since I moved...didn't want to drag the poor things across eight
Fiancé© and I have a 30 gallon tank with filter and heater set to 76 degrees, three platys, two red dwarf mollies I believe, a Pleco and a small platy fry (we were excited to find the baby, totally unexpected) Also two Danio fry I believe (fish store recommended them as new additions but the other fish tried to eat them immediately so we moved them into the birthing tank with the baby till they all get a bit bigger.
We have substrate and several living plants, onion plants and java moss,
and a rock hut for the fish to hide in.
<Platies and Mollies are surface dwellers, and won't use rocky caves unless they're sick or severely stressed. Floating plants, such as Indian Fern, will be infinitely more useful.>
I'm sorry, I don't have any levels of ammonia or anything to help this question along, we've simply been testing it with strips to ensure it stays in the "safe" color.
<Define "safe". The problem is that most people haven't a clue what "safe" means, and these test kits are totally misleading in some cases. Safe is ZERO ammonia and ZERO nitrite. Anything else is, "Houston, we have a problem" time. Can't stress this too strongly. Sure, exposure to 0.5 mg/l nitrite won't kill a Platy overnight, so in that sense it isn't deadly poisonous. But over a few days or a couple of weeks, it WILL make a Platy very sick.>
The strip says right now the water is slightly stressing the fish, so we've moved from 10% water changes like the store said, to 25% ones, also adding a small amount of the aquarium salt,
<Don't use "aquarium salt". It's rubbish. For Mollies and Platies, you'd be better off using a Rift Valley Salt Mix. Read here:
About a half-dose should be ample. This will raise pH and hardness (which salt doesn't do) and make for much healthier livebearers.>
and some drops that are supposed to help lower ammonia levels.
<Time to do some reading rather than listening to a pet store that's in business selling you stuff. No "drops" of anything remove ammonia from an aquarium. Nothing. Zip. Nada. These products remove ONE TIME ONLY small amounts of ammonia in TAP WATER. They do not constantly remove the ammonia produces ALL THE TIME by your fish. This is your filter's job. If you have non-zero ammonia and non-zero nitrite levels, then you are [a] overstocked; [b] under-filtered; [c] overfeeding; [d] some combination of the three. It takes 4-6 weeks for an aquarium filter to become mature, and assuming you have one of adequate size for a 30 gallon tank (i.e., one rated at 120-180 gallons per hour) such a filter should handle half a dozen Platies and half a dozen Mollies without any problems at all. A Plec is not an option in a tank this small, so remove it. Anyone who told you a Plec -- which grows to 45 cm/18 inches in length within two years -- would be okay in a 30 gallon tank was an idiot. So disregard any advice from this person forthwith.
There is NO WAY this fish will be okay in this system. Before you say to me, "What about algae", read here:
If you have a healthy aquarium with lots of fast-growing floating plants, and maybe a few Nerite snails, you won't have any algae problems. Quite the reverse in fact: an overstocked tank with a catfish far too large for it is VERY likely to have problems with algae.>
Okay. My problem is that the white platy fish has suddenly begun trying to scratch his/her belly on things, and her fins are close together, also she swims it seems with just her head and tail.
<Chronic irritation caused by the ammonia and nitrite. Improve water quality, NOW.>
A black one has started doing the same thing but all the other fish seem fine. I tried getting a picture, but she hates the paparazzi. I can't seem to identify if she has any white spots, but none of the other fish have any either. We've had the tank for a month or more, and the plants grow wonderfully, but this is the first time a fish has behaved differently, so we want to be on top of this and fix whatever we aren't doing correctly.
<What isn't correct is water quality.>
An additional question-can the fins grow back to a fish that other fish were nibbling on?
<Fish will attack weakened fish, and Finrot will set in when you have non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. Fix water quality, and yes, the fins usually grow back.>
We removed a red dwarf from the tank because his back fin got nibbled to about 1/3rd gone. We bought him his own three gallon, filled it with water from the tank and gave him a java ball and a small house to hide in.
<Three gallon tanks = death traps.>
He seems really happy in there, and the edges of his tail went from being white to a normal red again. We love this guy. Will he get lonely, or is he okay to stay by himself? I don't want to crowd him in his three gallon. :)
<Take him out. Use floating plants to create a complex habitat AT THE SURFACE that Platies will use to hide and rest.>
Thank you for any insight and advice you can pass on to me, we really love these fish and we don't want any to suffer!
<Read first, panic later.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

CAN YOU HELP? (Poeciliidae; health)   6/7/09
We have a 125 litre tank with various live-bearing fish and recently have lost fish through a "wasting" disease.
<Ah, this does sometimes happen. Can be a bacterial infection, about which little/nothing can be done. But may also sometimes be a water chemistry/quality issue, so you should be open minded.>
The fish seem to lose their shape and colour and eventually die.
<Fairly unhelpful symptoms, to be honest. But if the water chemistry and quality are good, and it's a single species of livebearer you're losing, one specimen at a time, then there's nothing much you can do save
quarantine new additions and certainly don't buy them from the same store again. Many UK retailers have commented to me about the relatively poor quality of things like Fancy Guppies. While they aren't as colourful, there's much to be said about non-fancy varieties, in particular species such as Limia nigrofasciata, which are out there if you want them, and are much, much hardier than anything sold in bright colours or with fancy fins.>
We have been putting in aquarium salt and doing water changes at least once a week.
<Right, I'm glad you mention salt. Livebearers do not, on the whole, need salt. Adding salt, though often recommended by retailers who also happen to be selling salt, isn't actually the cure-all it is supposed to be.
Specifically, livebearers need what we call hard and alkaline water; this translates as water with a high general hardness (say, 10+ degrees dH); a high carbonate hardness (5+ degrees KH), and a high pH (7.5-8.2). Aquarium salt, sometimes called tonic salt, effects precisely none of these, and you can add all the sodium chloride you want and the general hardness, carbonate hardness and pH won't change! Now, if you have Guppies and/or Mollies, then marine salt mix (i.e., what you add to a marine aquarium) can be used, because these two species tolerate brackish water extremely well, in fact Mollies far prefer it to freshwater, within which they rarely do well. Adding 6-9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water makes Guppy
and Molly keeping much, much easier. You don't need to worry about pH or hardness because the marine salt mix contains chemicals that adjust those automatically. If you have Platies and Swordtails though things are more complicated. For a start, both Platies and Swordtails need quite cool water, around 23-25 C, whereas Guppies and Mollies need water that is warmer, around 26-28 C. Obviously, you can't mix cool water species with warm water species and expect them all to do well. There's no middle ground. If you have Platies and Swordtails, they need water that is cool, hard, and alkaline. I'd recommend using a cichlid salt mix, of the sort outlined in this article:
Go to the section called "A Simple But Effective Rift Valley Cichlid Salt Mix" and use the mix outlined there. It costs pennies to use per month, and will make your livebearers much, much happier. You could use a full dose, but a half-dose should be fine if your water isn't too soft. Note that aquarium salt isn't part of the recipe; you specifically need baking powder, Epsom salt, and marine salt mix.>
We are relatively new to this....our tank being set up around 6 months ago.
<Do also read here:
Looking forward to hearing from you
Teresa & Steve Bailey
<Cheers, Neale.>

FW fish hlth. help  1/26/09 Greetings: I have already screwed up in my first fish adventure of a ten gallon tank by putting two guppies and two platies together, which I have been told is a nono. <Mmm, not necessarily... These fish species are generally compatible... They "enjoy" about the same water conditions, foods...> Now, I have had one guppy die, and I think it had tail rot, and now the other has it. I also have a platy with one big white spec on its tale, it is bigger than Ich. I just changed my tank water <Mmm, all of it?> and took the fish out because I was took out quite a bit of water, and I don't know if I should put them back in or not. are they all going to die? Thanks again, Marion <I do hope your aquatic pets won't perish... Can you relate what water quality (tests) you've done? What sorts of filtration you employ? Foods, feeding? Bob Fenner>

Re: FW fish hlth. help. Guppies, platies... hlth.  1/27/2009 I feed them flake food and blood worms. I have one filter in which I just have activated filter carbon. When I test the water, I use a six in one, and my test results have been the same as below almost every time. Nitrate safe Nitrite safe Hardness soft Chlorine safe Alkalinity ideal pH neutral Thank you for your help! I really appreciate it.. Marion <Well... If these readings are accurate... all should be fine. I am not a fan of test strip methods/gear though... these have proven to not often be accurate nor precise. Please do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwenvdisfaqs.htm and the linked files in this series (above)... in the hope that others relating will serve as a springboard for your understanding. BobF>

Article on thiaminase  9/18/09
Great work! It seems to me this topic is well known in reptile-keeping circles but hardly mentioned in the fishkeeping press. I'm certainly keen to see this in the next CA (and soon at that!). One query: my understanding is that Poeciliidae lack thiaminase, hence my advocacy of home-bred, gut-loaded herbivorous Poeciliids such as mollies as the preferred safe feeder fish for obligate piscivores. But they're not on your list. Am I right or wrong?

Re: Article on thiaminase  9/18/09
Is there any chance you could roll these comments into the article? I think that would make it more useful on a practical level.
Some Goodeidae (e.g. Ameca) and Cyprinidontidae (e.g. Cyprinodon) certainly do consume blue-green algae; whether any of these are likely to be used as feeders, I cannot say.
Cheers, Neale

Can you help me?  Platy hlth.    7/22/08 WetWebMedia, I'm new to your site and I understand that you don't want questions that have already been answered. I took the time to look at Neale Monks' chart and I'm still unsure as to what plagues my platy. <Oh?> I have a 10 gallon tank with 6 platys. <To be honest, a bit small for this species... likely to be prone to poor water quality and pH instability.> All the fish are looking healthy and fine, except one. He is a large male platy- a twin sidebar- and the biggest fish in the tank. When I got him from the store he was perfectly healthy. I've had him for about a week and half and he was fine right up until the drastic Ph drop. <Ah, and there it is: small tanks experience pH crashes more easily than big tanks. Either you aren't doing enough water changes (I'd recommend 25-50% weekly) or else you have water lacking in carbonate hardness. If the latter, I'd recommend grabbing some marine salt mix -- not "aquarium salt" -- and adding 3-5 grammes per litre. The carbonate salts in marine salt mix will provide extra carbonate hardness, inhibiting pH drops. Platies will tolerate the slightly brackish conditions very well.> Most of the fish showed signs of Ph sickness, but I brought the Ph back up slowly and now all my fish are seemingly fine, except the big fish. I think he has some kind of internal parasite, because when he swims he seems to be using his head instead of his tail to move. He looks as if he's literally shaking his head at everything- I know this cant be normal. <It's not a mystery parasite; this is standard issue "Shimmies" or similar. A generic reaction to stressful conditions in livebearers. Most often seen with Mollies. No real cure as such, but if conditions improve, it should get better by itself.> He didn't do this when I first bought him. I would consider maybe water quality, temperature issues, but the other fish are fine. <Not everyone succumbs to stress at the same rate: not humans, not fish.> They're happy and normal. No one else seems to be getting what the big fish has- it doesn't appear contagious. On top of the constant wagging motion of his body, he also cant seem to recover from the Ph spike. First he was floating at the bottom, tail clamped, now he's floating at the top, tail clamped. Other fish will swim past him and bump him and he won=E 2t move or react sometimes- something is definitely wrong. Maybe I read over the list of symptoms and simply didn't know what to look for? I'm sorry for troubling you. Can you please help me? <Do first check the pH. It should be 7.5-8, and it should stay there week in, week out. Use marine salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.) as an additive as described above. Will help considerably. Also keep up with your water changes. Your Platy will recover if conditions are good. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Can you help me?  7/23/08 Neale, Thank you for your advice. <Most welcome.> I'm going to try the marine salt out. I already have dissolved aquarium salt in the tank, so does this mean I should change all the water before I put the new salt in? I don't want to over-saturate the water with salt. <No need. Add the marine salt mix to each bucket of water (at the dosage stated, taking care it dissolves before use). So when you take out a bucket or two of water this weekend, replace with a bucket or two of water with 3-5 grammes/litre marine salt mix. Always be careful not to overdose. If you're not good with sensible measurements of mass and volume, I have a software tool (for Mac and Windows) that helps you calculate salinity and convert between Metric and US units. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Programs/brackcalc.html > Can I ask you one more question? <Fire away.> Around the same time I bought the large male platy in question, I also bought a smaller male who is yellow and slightly see-through. When I first bought him I noticed he had some red around his gills, but I chalked this up to his natural coloration. <Likely just the blood in the gill filaments being visible through the gill covers. Quite a common "thing" on fancy versions of all sorts of different fishes.> While researching the symptoms of my fish in question, I came across information that stated red gills could be an indication of ammonia poisoning. I had never heard of ammonia poisoning before and didn't even know that fish secreted ammonia through the gills. Is it normal to buy a yellow twin side bar platy and see red coloration around the gills? <Don't worry about this. If the fish had Ammonia Poisoning, it would be obviously very sick -- e.g., skittish, gasping at the surface, clamped fins, etc.> I don't mean to be paranoid, but the coloration around the gills seems to have darkened. I'm worried my ammonia levels could be out of whack because I don't have equipment to monitor ammonia. <I'd highly recommend buying those little dip-strip test kits. Over here you get 25 strips for about £10, but you can slice each strip down the middle to make twice as many. These have ammonia, nitrite, pH, hardness, and sometimes other useful tests -- all on the one strip. While expert fishkeepers will make the point they're less accurate than the tests with liquids and plastic bottles, I think these dip-strips are indispensable, especially for beginners. In general, if you don't have nitrite in the water, you likely don't have ammonia, so I'd not be worried anyway.> This should be my last question- I don't mean to bother you. <No bother.> Again, thank you for your help. I really appreciate it. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Can you help me?  7/23/08 Neal, Thank you so much. You need not reply back and your questions have been very helpful. I will do all you suggested! Thank you! <Glad we could help. Cheers, Neale.>

Molly and Platy "issues"   6/22/08 Hello again And once again I must extend my gratitude for all the support you lend to us "novice" fish-keepers and our finned-friends. <We're happy to help.> To start I am attaching a picture of my mama speckled molly....As I hope you can see, she has developed this "wart-like" growth above her eye. It has gotten a little bigger over the last few days but her personality hasn't really changed much. She is still eating like a champ but she might not be swimming around as much as usual, its hard to tell now that I have taken the male molly that used to chase her daily out of the tank (for different reasons). My water parameters all check out (0,0,10) and this started before I added my most recent additions. I did lose my 2 German rams over the last 3 weeks for unknown reason (I suspect its because my husband accidentally unplugged one of the heaters twice overnight when he turned off the light and since they are so sensitive the 5 degree dip in temp (usually hovers around 80 but went down to 75 both times) because they each passed around the times that this happened. At any rate, back to the molly...What on earth do you think this is? Should I QT her? How do I treat it (if I can)? Do I need to worry about my other fish in the tank? <I'm not 100% sure, but this looks a lot like Lymphocystis. This a non-contagious (or at least only weakly contagious) viral disease caused (almost certainly) by environmental issues. The bad news is that it can't be treated. The good news is that it doesn't kill fish and usually goes away by itself (though this may take months). No need to quarantine her. Strong need to review the environment, for example is the carbonate hardness nice and high, are you using enough marine salt mix, does she get enough algae to eat, and so on. All the usual Molly stuff. In any case, the "growth" is certainly some sort of cyst, and as such not likely to be either treatable or dangerous.> My second issue is housed in my QT tank (my main reason for not putting my molly girl in there just yet) I emailed you guys about this problem a few weeks back and didn't really get an answer (I think it was Neale and he sounded just as baffled as I was) I have had this female platy in there for many many months now (I'll attach a photo of her too just in case you can see something that I can't) and she has lived though numerous treatments of every medication known to tropical fish (mainly because my QT tank is the only QT tank for both mine and my dad's tanks and every sick fish is treated in there) Her spinning/flipping/darting has never improved nor gotten worse. I am still stumped on what to do with her and I am really tempted to just put her back in my main tank so I don 't have to continue keeping this tank running for her. (not that I mind all that much but I am sure she is bored in a bare tank all by herself.) <She looks fine.> To repeat the story, It started at least 4-5 months ago about a week after I got her home from the fish store (okay, wasn't really a fish store...I'll admit my momentarily lapse of judgment and admit I bought her at W**-Mart...Not the smartest thing, I know) ..I noticed she was having trouble staying upright and upon closer inspection I noticed that one of her gills not only looked a little torn but it looked like it had a severe internal hemorrhage. She would swim erratically, dart, spin, hide, and for the first few weeks wouldn't eat. I thought she was a goner for sure. Well, after a while her gill healed, she began eating and swimming around but, she would still have frequent episodes of spinning, flipping, swimming on her side and basically freaking out. They don't last forever but do happen often...she can still swim normally but for the most part just hangs out in the corner. Her color has gotten lighter but I don't know if that just because I keep the tanks lights off the majority of the time or what. I am hoping that someone has some idea what this is, if I could return her to one of my main tanks, and/or how to treat it. I used to think it was "whirling" disease but considering she isn't a trout and she has lived so long I don't think that this is the case. <Quite so.> I have also considered parasites but like I said, she has undergone every treatment (including every parasite treatment) and still spins/flips/darts. She has had some noted improvement and that I think occurred around the time I was treating one of my dads molly's for parasites but I can't say for sure. Any advice on these matter would be greatly appreciated. <Absolutely no idea what this is!> Respectfully, Grace <Don't think anything too serious, so provided all else is perfect, would leave this fish figure out their own problems. Could be genetic issues for example, or exposure to heavy metals at some point in their life. Variety of things. Good luck, Neale.>

Guppy issue 10/14/07 Hi, I noticed a problem with one of my female guppies today (I have 6 guppies in a 10 gallon tank, 2 males and 4 females). I had checked the pH, nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, hardness, and alkalinity yesterday before buying the fish and it was all at healthy levels. The tank has been set up for a while because I wanted it to get through a cycle before putting any fish in (although my roommates thought I was nuts for having a tank with no fish!). Each of the fish I picked seemed in good condition and they spent the day getting used to the tank and then I fed them a little before I went to sleep. This morning they had all seemed fine although I noticed the eyes on one female (the one with a problem now) were a little dark, but I thought nothing of it since that can happen from the stress of being transported yesterday. When I got back again about 5 or 6 hours later though, I noticed that her right fin was sticking straight out and seemed a little swollen and pinkish white at the base. She hasn't been using it and just swimming around in circles to the left, but she still has a good appetite and will swim to the right if she sees some food she really wants, she just won't use the right fin. I checked and noticed that the ammonia level is a little higher than I'd like it to be (probably from the fact that the tank is adjusting to the fish). I added some salt to the water and used some stress coat to help them adjust, but I was wondering what else I need to do or if its a much more serious problem. Thanks, Yana <Hello Yana. There's no "acceptable" level of ammonia -- anything above Zero is dangerous, potentially lethal. With Guppies, while wild fish are hardy, the fancy varieties most people buy are extremely delicate. So it is entirely likely (= probable) that you have a case of Finrot or fungus to deal with. A combination medication (such as eSHa 2000) should fix that right away. Do follow the instructions carefully. Do remove carbon from the filter (carbon neutralises medications). Don't waste your time with salt/Melafix/Pimafix. Do make sure the water chemistry is appropriate for what Guppies want: high hardness, high carbonate hardness, and a pH around 7.5-8.0. Do reduce food while ammonia is a problem. While I applaud your patience setting the tank up before putting fish into it, unless you were adding a source of ammonia as well, the filter DIDN'T mature. The usual method is to add inorganic ammonia (from a chemist or hardware store) during the "fishless cycling" phase, but adding a pinch of flake each day and letting it rot works just as well. Anyway, assuming you didn't do this, your tank is cycling now, and it'll take about 6 weeks to complete. During this phase, check the ammonia and nitrite levels every couple of days. Do regular, big water changes: I'd suggest 25% daily. That will keep the fish healthy during this critical phase. Once it's mature, you can leave the tank a week between water changes of 25-50%. Good luck, Neale>

Tail/fin rot, guppies    8/26/07 Hello. I just stumbled upon your website and noticed it is very helpful. I have had a fish tank for a while but just got a new one with new fish. It is only a ten gallon. I have a guppy who developed tail/fin rot, and it seems to be spreading to my favorite guppy. I don't know if it is though. I'm just trying to confirm my observations when i ask: is it contagious to my other fish besides the guppies? Thanks a lot. -Adam <Hello Adam. Thanks for the kind words. There's two ways of looking at your question. If you're asking will Finrot jump from one fish to another the way a cold jumps between people, no, not really. The bacteria that cause Finrot are (probably) present in all aquaria at all times, and only under certain circumstances do they actually become a problem. However, if your question is "one of my fish is sick, will the others get sick too?" then the answer to that is yes, most likely. Finrot bacteria become problematic when the immune systems of your various fish become compromised in some way. Two factors are usually at work, poor water quality and physical damage. They can work independently or together. With guppies for example Finrot can start when they're kept with nippy fishes such as Serpae tetras or black widow tetras, both of which view guppy tails as food. Or alternatively (and more usually) water conditions in the aquarium have dropped below a certain threshold, and the guppies no longer have the strength to stave off infection. In the case of guppies, ammonia and nitrite are dangerous, but so too is a low pH (anything below 7.0) and a low hardness (basically you want "moderately hard" to "very hard" water chemistry). So, if you have multiple fish showing signs of Finrot, and can rule out fin-nipping, then study the conditions in the aquarium. Do water tests for ammonia, nitrite, pH, and hardness (ideally KH but GH will do). Oh, and if the water conditions are so bad the guppies are getting sick, the other species are likely be stressed to some degree, too. Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: tail/fin rot 08/26/07
It turns out that my water is too soft. Thanks for the advice. -Adam <Cool. Bump up the carbonate hardness especially. That's the bit livebearers appreciate. Adding "tonic salt" -- whatever the retailer might say -- won't help. Cheers, Neale>

Curious behavior? FW... dis.    8/22/07 Hi, I have a small 6 gallon tank- new, about 4wks old. I had 3 small fish- 2 male Endler's and one Otocinclus, live plants and a piece of driftwood. At the start, I was doing small water changes every 2-3 to control ammonia and so forth, everything was fine. Last week however, I was gone for 4 days; I did a water change before I left and dropped some slow-release food. When I returned, the water was very cloudy white, one Endler's died, and the other two fish were very stressed of course. I did a 40-50% water change and removed the driftwood (it was decaying), and the two calmed down a little. My LFS told me to check the ph, it went down to almost ph6- was ph7 before. They gave me some type of buffer powder and the ph is back to normal, and water is clear again. The Oto seems to be acting fine, although it seems he has some white spots, and maybe even some goldish flecks on the body. But since I've only had these for a short time, I don't know if the gold color is it's normal coloration, the white spots maybe ick? Also, the Endler's stays swimming up and down in one corner, by the filter current. It can swim normally, horizontally, but mainly doesn't want to swim anywhere else in the tank. Sometimes he moves to other parts, but mostly just swims up and down now. He didn't do this before. Should I treat them with any medication? I raised the temp to 80-82, and have added salt. Anything else I should do? It's been a few days since everything's gone back to normal, should I just wait? Thanks!- vanrey <Greetings. The Otocinclus sp. likely have Whitespot (or, less likely, velvet) and should be treated immediately. Use a proper Whitespot medication, not salt or Melafix. It does sound as if the bogwood you purchased was not fully cured. Cured bogwood shouldn't rot, at least not noticeably. Bogwood does lower the pH though in tanks with low levels of carbonate hardness. In this case, I'd recommend sticking with fake bogwood instead. Endler's guppies -- like all guppies -- want fairly hard and alkaline water. Given your mix of fish, aim for pH 7.5, and "moderately hard" water on whatever scale you're using. Guppies become very sickly at anything softer or more acidic than this. This is what you're seeing. Cheers, Neale>

Mollies, Platies, and Fungus 7/21/07 WWM Crew, <Hello again!> Hi, I wanted to thank you for all the great advice you have given me so far. It has been a tremendous help. Following Neale suggestions I went off to my LFS to buy a Hydrometer and Marine Salt to convert my tank to brackish water. I also wanted to make arrangements for my Molly fry as I thought it would be bad to go from freshwater to brackish and back to fresh when they go to the LFS for sale. To my extreme horror they did not know what a hydrometer was and had to call the owner. Then the sales girl told me they did not carry marine salt and just to put 1/2 cup "aquarium" salt per 10 gallons in my tank. Gasp, needless to say my babies are not going there and I am looking for a new store. <If you don't have a hydrometer, you can just about get away with weighing the salt. Since seawater has 35 grammes of salt per litre, for 10% seawater, which is a good baseline for mollies, 3.5 grammes of salt per litre should be fine. Since mollies are euryhaline, exact salinity doesn't matter. The only problem here is that once a box of salt is opened, it tends to absorb moisture from the air, so you want to wrap it up tightly and store in an airtight container (like a Tupperware or biscuit tin). Measuring salt by volume, i.e., spoons or cups simply doesn't work because salt will be more or less packed down depending on how it has been transported.> When feeding my fish the next morning I noticed that my Creamcicle Lyre-tail Molly had white fuzzy stuff on her tail and top fin. Previously I noticed a fuzzy white spot on my Red Wag Platies mouth but it went away on its own. After spending quite sometime searching your site I decided a fungal treatment was in order and bought Jungle Fungus Treatment. I also added more "tonic salt" to the aquarium and slowly set the temp to 82 degrees. Water levels still testing good with weekly water changes. After putting the treatment in the tank, The Molly's fuzzy spots are almost gone. But now the white spot is back on the Platies mouth. I'm not quite sure what to do. I have attached pictures of both fish. The picture of the Platy is of bad quality but does show the spot. All fish are eating well and active. <Spots on the mouth are usually a bacterial infection called Mouth Fungus. Combination Finrot/fungus medications usually kill these. As a supplement to treating the tank, dipping the infected fish into seawater for 1-10 minutes at a time (depending on how the fish reacts) will also help by dehydrating the bacteria. Finrot, fungus, and mouth fungus (all caused by different pathogens) tend to follow on from poor water quality, so reflect on the conditions in the tank. Do you have the right pH and hardness? What are the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? Is the filter big enough and the tank big enough? Do you overfeed? How much water do you change per week. Read through the Livebearer articles here at WWM for some background info.> <Good luck! Neale>

Just a quick question, missing livebearers post holiday  7/14/07 Hi, I currently own a ten gallon tank with a few platies and a guppy inside it, along with a few platies that are small. I went on vacation and notice that a few are missing. <Sorry to hear that. Be sure and figure out *why* before adding anything new. Check water chemistry and quality, for example, and double check you're using the right food, i.e., something vegetable/algae based rather than generic flake food.> I think they might be dead, and I just want to know your suggestions on what might have happened... <No idea without more details. Water chemistry, water quality, number of each species, how long you were gone, what foods used, etc....> ...and what kind of crabs and shrimps are compatible with them. <None. Crabs are [a] amphibious so need somewhere to walk on land and [b] predatory. Shrimps can work with small fish but they are generally delicate and if you can't keep guppies alive then you're probably not at the stage in your hobby where buying shrimps would be worthwhile. That is, unless you don't mind the shrimps being dead in 4 weeks. Seriously, they need excellent water quality, the correct diet, and safe places for moulting where they can't be molested.> I usually leave fry in the tank instead of separating them and I want a few to live, are these good to add to the tank? <Don't understand this. Do you mean the crabs and shrimps are good to add to the tank? If so, no.> Or are they bad like Albino Aquatic Frogs? (I had bad experiences with them) <Not "bad" but just wrong for you and your aquarium. Crabs need their own vivarium a bit like something used for newts or frogs, with some water for bathing but also some dry land for social behaviour and feeding. Shrimps are really something for the semi-advanced hobbyist. Most of the ones sold end up dying within a few weeks when thrown into generic community tanks. Cheers, Neale>

Livebearer Losses, Lack of Info - 1/24/07 Hello, <Hey Nicole, JustinN with you tonight.> I bought 2 guppies for my daughter and a few Platies (4). 3 of the Platies have died, (soon after I bought them) and the female guppy died three days ago. <I'm very sorry for you and your daughter's losses.> I removed the dead guppy from the tank as soon as I found her, and now the male fancy guppy is just sitting on the bottom of the tank.  He's not dead (yet) and I don't know what to do.  He hides in a car decoration and isn't moving, I even touched him yesterday, to try to get him to move.   <First off, Nicole, you don't mention anything about the aquarium arrangement these specimen are being kept in. How many gallons/liters, and how long has it been set up? Have you properly cycled the aquarium? Furthermore, did you execute a water change after the deaths?> The Platy is a female and she is starting to get fat, I don't know if the male guppy would have impregnated her, or if maybe this is a sign that she may be sick as well.   <The guppy can in fact impregnate the platy, but too likely the environment is at play here..> I just got a water thermostat yesterday, and the water temp was at 30, and now just a little lower then that.  I really need some help <Too hot, for sure. Needs to be closer to 25, 26 degrees. > Thanks, Nicole Preece <Some reading is in your future, Nicole. Start with our article on freshwater tank cycling, and move on from there. There are literal tomes of information relating to your situation available through our site, preexisting. Start out here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and continue on from there... Good luck! -JustinN>

Ich and Fry, FW livebearers     1/14/07 Hi there.  I'm completely new to this site (within a week, at best) and it seems to be an amazing site for answering questions. <We do try...> Here's my question... I'm a fairly seasoned "fisher", though this is one problem I've never encountered before.  I recently purchased some Red Wag Platies (sp?), about two weeks ago.  They are in their own tank (separate from my non-livebearers).  I just noticed their BRAND NEW babies this evening upon returning home from work.  I was just now over checking the progress on my new babies, noticed one more (rather exciting for someone who usually keeps tetras...lol).  I then started really watching the adults trying to figure out which one was slowly giving birth...... and that's when I noticed it..... ICH!  On at least two of the adults, it's visible. <Oops> My question(s):  How do I treat a tank with fry that are still so new? <Mmm, better to separate... take out the adults, treat them elsewhere> I've seen a lot of posts about aquarium salt, and Ich meds and the likes.  I currently have on hand (just in case) what's called "QuICK Cure", the active ingredients being Malachite Green and Formalin. <Yes... quite harsh> Should I medicate the tank with the new babies in it?  If so... should I be removing the carbon from my AquaClear Filter for better medication?  Basically, I'm not sure what to do because of the fry... I'd really hate to lose my first hatch (however... being a reasonable and educated person, I do realize this a good possibility.  Just want to prevent it, if I can). Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated! Steph <I'd move the adults and treat them elsewhere. BobF>

Another livebearer question  12/30/06 Hi Tom, <<Hello, Linda.>> Another question if I may?   <<Certainly.>> What do you recommend for preventing gill flukes?  I haven't had this problem for some time but since I plan to get guppies I want to be prepared.  I had quite a problem at one time after purchasing guppies.  I have tried CopperSafe before but I wonder if there is something better to ward off a potential problem.  I understand if the fish are in good shape and remain un-stressed they can keep many parasites at bay themselves.  What about salt on a regular basis?  I don't keep snails but I may get a stray or two since I plan to have living plants in my new 55gal tank.  Is that a potential source of gill fluke infestation? <<As you're likely aware, Linda, maintaining top-notch water and tank conditions is the best preventative. As to water conditions, these speak to themselves in terms of regular changes, substrate/filter cleaning, etc. As for the tank conditions, be wary of over-crowding and provide hiding places particularly for the expectant females. You're quite correct that stress-free, healthy fish are virtually immune to parasitic infestation. I've mentioned this in other posts but it bears repeating: in cases of disease, medications merely control the spread. The immune systems of the fish are what ultimately eradicate the problem. In short, there's nothing better that you can do for your pets than provide the best conditions possible. The Guppies, more so than the Swordtails and Platys, will actually appreciate the addition of aquarium salt to the water. Even fish that don't have a high tolerance for salt will do fine with a modest amount in the tank. Pests, on the other hand, have little tolerance for any. The one admonition I would have for you here is that plants may not do well with salt in the water. Typically, however, this would be at what might be described as treatment levels which would be several times greater than you would normally maintain in your aquarium. In your case, I would cut the common ratio of one tablespoon per five gallons in half and see how both the plants and fish fare at this level. (Sometimes some good, old experimentation is needed to find a happy compromise.) Finally, since gill flukes don't require an intermediate host, I don't think a stray snail or two will pose a problem. Look into treating your plants in a solution of potassium permanganate if you want to avoid introducing even a stray snail. In fact, its really not a bad practice to quarantine plants as well as fish before adding them to the display tank. Goes a long way in avoiding undesirables that may be trying to hitchhike their way into a new home.>> Thanks, Linda Ritchie <<Happy again to be of service, Linda. Tom>>

White patches on Red Lyretail Swords  - 12/12/06 I have a question. I am somewhat of a newbie.. <Geez... I guess I'm coming to consider myself somewhat of an "oldbie"> We have a 48 gal community tank. (our first) We have 2 Red Lyretail Swords, (1 large, 1 small, so am thinking 1 each sex) 1 Gourami (had another, but it died...) 2 Tiger Barbs, 2 algae eaters, 2 Corys, 2 Danios, 2 'scissors', and 4 platies. We recently lost 1 gourami.  After reading up, it seemed that we lost it to an Internal Bacterial Infection. <Very common> It lost all of its color on the dorsal side, then finally bloated up and died. Now, I've noticed on the larger Lyretail that its starting the same thing. Its dorsal fin is clamped, and I've noticed a whitish patch forming a little on the dorsal fin, and underneath it.  (It doesn't seem to be Ich, its seems more like a slimy look than actual dots that Ich would look like) I'm getting worried. <Me too...> This fish used to be a little aggressive, but now its lost the aggression... it seems to be darting a little more than normal... but that could just be me not realizing what the fish has done before. Also, I've started so see this same 'slimy white discoloration patch' now starting on the side of the other sword. <Oh....> We checked with the local shop - to no avail. They mentioned to try some MelaFix <... no> along with some aquarium salt. <The Corydoras don't like much salt...> Also, We raised the temp up to 80 Tested the water, and everything seems to be fine. They're all eating just fine. (Tetra flakes along with minikrill as a treat every so often) I've also heard of scraping out the inside of a pea - and use this as a laxative every so often - i plan on trying this soon. What could this sword have? (The wife is getting stressed out - from the sick fish!) Thanks Jason <I strongly suspect you have a case of "Columnaris" disease... brought in with the Gourami/s... Please see WWM, the Net... Quick! And prepare to treat the system aggressively with an antibiotic and/or copper compound... Bob Fenner>

Molly... disease? No useful info.  6/29/06 My black molly has two white raised spots on and above its eye. What is this and what can I do to treat it?   Thanks!   Laura <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Platy & Guppy Questions... and Neons in the mix   2/22/06 I'm new to the hobby, but your site has been quite helpful.  I have a couple of questions about the health of my fish and I hope you can help.  I have a 10 gallon tank this is well filtered, heated to about 79 F, and planted as my main tank and a 2.5 gallon hospital tank.  I have 7 guppies, 2 male and 5 females; 3 platies and 13 platy fry that are 2 days old and doing very well; 3 neon tetras, a Chinese algae eater and 2 bamboo shrimp.  I know I have a bit too many, but water quality seems to be pretty good and I test it at least every other day and I have another 10 gallon being shipped.  When I first brought the platies home, one had a white rectangular wound on her back so she went straight to the hospital tank where she is now, and gave birth 2 days ago, and the white stuff has spread around her a little, but its not spotted like ick is and appears to have some trouble swimming in the main tank.  Also in the hospital tank is one of the Neons who has some gill trouble - loss of gills or the cover, <Happens> but it appears to be slowly returning to a more pink color and one female guppy who has gotten progressively worse, she has some raised scales, large white growths.  One of the guppies in the main tank also has a few scales that appear almost like a shed skin coming off, but they don't appear to be getting any worse.  None of the other fish seem to have any trouble, but I'm not sure what to do about the fish in the hospital tank or the one guppy with the "shedding" in the main tank.  Any help or advice you can offer me would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks. Arlie Hubbard <I would separate (when you get the new ten gallon) the Neons, read re their water quality (softer, acidic, warmer) and the livebearers... and keep their environments to their liking... This is all that is needed here. Oh... and keep an eye on this Algae Eater... often trouble with other fishes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Platy & Guppy Questions... and Neons in the mix   2/23/06 Thank you very much for replying so quickly.  I went to Petco today and they recommended Mardel Maracyn.  I'm now treating exclusively with that.  I will definitely take your advice and I'm glad you didn't notice any major issues with my setup.  Thanks again for all of your help. Arlie Hubbard <Welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: fish fry stuck in mother Thank you very much. <Happy to be of some help.> So if they don't come out does she die and the fry live? <If the egg material isn't reabsorbed into the female's system, which is typically what we'd expect, yes, it can be fatal to her. Once born, the fry are going to be reliant on you, not "Mom". You might try adding a small amount of aquarium salt to the tank, on the order of one tablespoon per 10 gallons. I've no first-hand experience with using salt for this purpose but have run across this suggestion during other research. Good luck. Tom> Everett

Livebearer problems    4/10/06 Firstly hello to you all, the site is great, I have spent 2 nights now looking at the numerous posts and replies trying to find the answers to my questions. I also read the tips on asking questions page which was very informative and also a good laugh (I probably shouldn't have said that, but some of the posts listed here as examples are hilarious. <Heee! Agreed> A great suggestion would be to have a monthly list of bad/funny emails, that would make people a little more considerate.). <Were there but time...> Okay, my tank has been set up for 2 years now and been a brilliant source of interest and wonder for my 2 kids (now 5 and 8). I have 2 adult Albino Corydoras (been with me from the start), 4 young Bronze Corydoras (added early Jan), 8 adult Loricate Catfish (Otocinclus, now been with me for 1 year), 6 female Platys, 2 male Platys, 3 male guppies, 5 female guppies. Also due to breeding in this tank I have 1 guppy fry and 12 platy fry all in a breeding net. <Okay> Tank temp is 79 degrees and cleaned by 2 box filters in the rear corners also 2 air stones 1 in the breeding net and the other running at the rear, substrate is smooth pebble and fine sand the cats/Corys seem to love it. <Wow, time warp!> The problem started 18 days ago I swapped 16 young platys and guppies with my local shop for flake as I seem to do quite often (my kids love the livebearers having babies, and as you know they oblige every 4/6 weeks). The owner had some swordtail platys which looked fantastic so I took 1 male and 1 female. All seemed ok and after 3 days they went from my 12x12x12 quarantine/fry tank into the one above. Its then that disaster happened the following day the female sword died, we had the funeral (dead fish go to a big river in the sky you know, kids fault) and I hoped that was it. 2 days later the first male guppy died (another funeral) and I had a really good look at my fish to see if I could see any more problems. A couple of the female guppies and 1 female platy had tiny white spots on their tails, I had a look at your site and spoke to my fish shop owner who said that half of the swords that he got in were dead or suffering from white spot (a bad batch he said), he gave me (he felt guilty) anti white spot plus (Interpet) and I treated my tank. <Probably not Ich... but... likely another protozoan> I then during the next 7 days lost 2 male and 3 female guppies, 3 female and 1 male platy (guppies also looked like their tails had been shredded) I took a selection of the deceased back to my local shop (my kids understood, I think even they had gotten fed up with a funeral per day) and was told to also treat for fin rot (Interpet fin rot) and add some aquarium salt to the tank. This I have done and haven't lost any more fish for 4 days now. I cant see anymore white spots and the remaining live bearers look ok except, they all seem to have clamped fins my last female guppy seems to wobble and shimmy through the water rather than swim (don't think she'll last much longer), also my Corys and cats have now taken to occasionally rubbing themselves on the substrate what should I do about this? <Is likely resultant from exposure to the "med."... if so, this will solve itself within a few weeks> , I'm keeping up the water changes approx. 10-20% every other day. Is their anything else that I should be doing? My fry seem to be holding their own they haven't been affected or so it seems. <Mmm, maybe...> I blame myself for not keeping the swords in quarantine for a week as I had planned. <Two weeks...> With my tank being well established and all seeming ok I am so disappointed that I have now only a few livebearers left. I know my tank was a good habitat due to its breeding successes and my albino Corys had on 2 occasions recently laid eggs all over the glass (none rescued due to fry tank being full and with this many Corys and cats the eggs don't last long). I had wanted to try and breed the Corys on the next spawn but how do I know if the eggs have been fertilized as both albinos look the same sex (female obviously, just adding that so you don't). <I see> Please help and please don't hammer me too badly re the quarantine my 5 year old has already given me the guilt trip by saying I killed her guppies by adding the swords (kids got to love em, if you ring their necks you get arrested). <The promise of tomorrow... if they make it that far!> By the way the male sword is still here and doing fine (cant say he's my favourite don't know why). Regards, Dave Wilkinson Hull, Yorkshire, England (the home of correct spelling) <Oh! Our friend, roommate of 14 years is from Yorkshire as well... I would likely just leave all go at this juncture. Should you experience another of these "wipe out" syndromes, I would utilize a one-dose treatment with Flagyl/Metronidazole... otherwise... the requisite isolation/quarantine of all new livestock for two weeks. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

New Freshwater Tank with Livebearers Dear sir we have just purchased a 10 gallon tank have had the store check our water so its ok . we have 2 male guppies and 2 females and 1 molly. we noticed today our male guppy is swimming funny .he swims to the top of the tank and than seems to fall down than struggles back up. thank you for any help you can give us . <Hmm, the swimming behavior you mention is not a good sign. Do you have any live plant material in your aquarium? This is a good idea for several reasons; beneficially modifying water quality and helping with your fishes' diets mainly. Please talk with the fish store about adding a bit of "aquarium salt" as well... this is about all I would do at this point. Do avail yourself of the freshwater parts of our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for more background on this wonderful hobby. Bob Fenner>
New Freshwater Tank with Livebearers dear Mr. Fenner thank you so much for your prompt reply . we went right out and got some aquarium salt.  <Ah, good> we do have plants in our aquarium.  <Put only a teaspoon of salt per gallon in... and half of that per day over today and tomorrow... Some plants don't like salt...> can you tell us what kind of fish you can put in safely with guppies if any .  <Other very peaceful "community fishes" as I sent you information about in our last e-mail> our molly is in the breeding net as she is ready to have her babies but i can set up another tank if she is not compatible with guppies . <Do keep your eyes on this Molly... some species, individuals become quite aggressive. Bob Fenner>

Sick Fish????? Robert (Bob), I have two fish now that seem to have the same problem... From what I can figure out, it seems to be swim bladder disease. <Mmm, but what is the cause/s of the swim bladder anomalies?> Here are the symptoms.... The first fish, (Red Platy) I noticed about two weeks ago. He would seem to rest on the bottom of the tank and occasionally make a swim to the surface of the tank. After closer observation I noticed that he wasn't just resting on the bottom, but seem to be having trouble swimming. By which I mean, that it seem to take great effort to move from any given spot. Seem to move in place. After keeping close eye on the little guy for about a week I decided he wasn't getting any better. If anything it was worse. So at this time I place him in a 5 gal. quarantine tank. I added 1 tsp. of Aquarium salt and 1 tsp. of Fungus Eliminator by Jungle Labs. He's been in the quarantine for approx. 4 days now with no visible improvement, (doesn't seem to be getting worse either). Now I've noticed my second victim to this.... Prob. my favorite little guy in the whole tank. It's a beautifully colored clown loach. I've been watching him for the past two days in which he seem to rest on the bottom with very little movement and what seem to be heavy breathing with his mouth acting like it was gasping for air. He then decided to hide in one of the caves I have setup. He finally came out this evening and just sat there showing the same signs as when I saw him a couple of days earlier. I continued to watch him through the evening and he finally came to a resting point on the bottom against the front of the tank, ( kind of leaning toward one side... almost laying on one side.) At this point I placed him in the quarantine tank as well. Now for my question.... Am I correct in the diagnosis??  <Mmm, you are to be commended for your keen interest, careful observations...> Is there anything I'm doing wrong?? ( by the way, the tank does have a few live plants, and PH and Nitrate/Nitrite levels are all right on target) What can I do to correct this problem?? and get my little buddies feeling well again. <I do believe the Platy is suffering more from "genetic" causes than anything else (not infectious, parasitic disease, nutritional deficiencies... and that it will get better or not... of its own accord (nothing more you can really do for it)... This livebearer does just "have problems" of this sort nowadays... sometimes, large numbers of imported livebearers show this symptomology. And the Clown Loach is really just doing "what Clown Loaches do"... in resting at odd angles, breathing hard at times, hiding in castles... Not to worry here. If you want to see it out more often, do consider adding one or two more. I would place it/him back in his main tank.  Sincerely, John R. Aulgur <I am sending your note to a friend, Jeff, who is also a Clown Loach keeper. For his comments, input. Bob Fenner>

The "spinning top" molly... Hello! Thanks for including all the brackish stuff on your site -- it's easily the *best* brackish site I've found. <! and it's just barely begun... much more to come.> I've got an orange Sailfin molly female that's been acting bizarre the last few days. She goes absolutely berserk and swim/spins like a wobbly top for a moment, and then acts normal for a while. <Not good.> I've noticed a small black spot on her dorsal fin that seems fairly new. She also has a darker area in her body, behind her pectoral fins. The tank she was kept in is a 15-high, with an Eclipse 1 hood filter. Also resident are five other Sailfin mollies -- two males and three other females -- and a pair of candy-stripe gobies. The specific gravity in the tank is currently at about 1.004. (I usually keep the sg at 1.008-1.010; I ran out of Instant Ocean during the last water change.) The tank temperature is kept around 76 degrees with a 50 watt Tronic heater. The pH is about 7.8. Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are low to non-existent, though I keep having trouble with high phosphates and red-brown algae. (I've been using Kent Marine Phosphate Sponge to try to keep the phosphates down: I put the media in two Whisper Jr. filter bags and put them in the filter where the Eclipse filter cartridge goes.) The substrate is white aquarium sand, which the gobies keep sifted and clean. I've got some artificial plants and a piece of fake driftwood in the tank. <Mmm, I would try some live rock, growing plants to greatly reduce the phosphate> I've moved the molly to a 5.5 gallon isolation tank. I bumped the specific gravity up to about 1.014. I don't have a cycled tank I can move her into, but I could move a cycled sponge filter from the fry tank into her tank. She's been pretty placid in the isolation tank, but I'm not sure she's eating, either. Do you know what might be wrong with this molly, and what I can do to help her? <I suspect the "whirling" is due to an internal complaint... and not catching... I would place this molly back in the main tank... and elevate the specific gravity over time> Meanwhile, in another tank, I have a pair of knight gobies that are spawning every two weeks. I've tried raising the fry from three different batches, but I've made a different fatal mistake each time. I haven't been able to find any information on raising goby fry. I'll try to track down the articles you list in the bibliography for gobies; meanwhile, do you have any suggestions? <Do read through what you can find on the internet re culturing foods like Brachionus... You need useful foods of the right size available immediately when the young hatch out. Look to "The Breeders Registry" for much input. Link on our Links Pages> Many thanks, Ananda Stevens <Thank you. Bob Fenner>
Re: the "spinning top" molly...; calendar fish; ghost shrimp
Hi again! Well, she's still not eating, but she does seem to be doing slightly better: she can actually swim around a little without spinning out every two seconds. <Ah, improvement> Quick question: what's that pretty blue fish on the November calendar? Could you include the name of the fish/coral/whatever in the box to the left of the thumbnail, so it's easier to find info on it? <Good idea. Had to go look at Nov. Calendar on WWM, it's a male Sparisoma viride Parrotfish, covered here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parrotfi.htm Will send along your suggestion to Mike, who makes this feature.> I picked up some ghost shrimp from the LFS, planning on using them for goby and puffer treats. Since what I've read over the past week suggests that there's a lot more stuff that's brackish-friendly than most people know about, I put the shrimp into the tanks without gobies or puffers to see how long they'd survive. The shrimp in the 1.014 s.g. tank died, but a goby thought it tasted great anyway. The shrimp in the 1.008 tank lived at least a day, but it was moving so slowly I thought it was dead. <Mmmm, need a few days to adapt... probably came from a holding system at your dealers that was entirely freshwater> I put it in a goby tank, and saw it go and hide under a barnacle. The shrimp in the 1.005 tanks are doing just fine, scurrying about and eating the detritus, not being bothered at all by the mollies. I think I'm going to start keeping ghost shrimp in my fry tanks -- are there any reasons that might be a bad idea? <If the fry are very small they might get eaten. Bob Fenner> Thanks bunches, Ananda

Blue Marron, Brown Algae and dying Guppies Hi Robert, <<Greetings Mark, JasonC here.>> Firstly I will go through what I have and my experience, that may help to answer my questions. I have about 8 months experience with a 3' 126 litre home made tank in which I have 5 Barramundi, 1 Eel Tail Catfish and 1 Bumble Bee Catfish. This tank has an undergravel filter and an Aquaclear 200 filter and is decorated with mangrove root, rocks and various plants. I have found this tank a pleasure to observe and maintain. Luckily there has been no casualties and all 7 fish have grown considerably, so much so I am thinking of building a 4 1/2 foot tank with some glass I have, to accommodate there size. <<good idea.>> Because of the Barra's ferocious appetite and the cost of their food I have built another 3" 126 litre tank which I have 3 Hockey Stick Tetra's, 5 Cardinal Tetra's, 2 Male Guppies and 3 Female Guppies and about 25 Baby Guppies. The Tetra's are in the tank for a bit of colour while the Guppies are being bread as feeder fish to supplement the Barra feeding. This tank also has an undergravel filter and an Aquaclear 200 filter and is decorated with rocks and a variety of plants, some to make it easier for the baby Guppies to hide. This tank is only 2 months old and has been a little challenging as I have had a few problems with Guppies Dying and a brown algae that seems to be growing on everything, including the upward facing leaves of the bigger foliage plants. I am constantly cleaning this algae from the rocks, upward facing leaves and the glass sides. Then vacuuming as much as I can before it settles. I feed these fish flakes and for the babies Liquid Small Fry. Firstly can you help with the brown algae and how do I control/eradicate it? <<You should avail yourself to the materials on WWM, of interest to you would be these two algae-control articles, one on fresh water and one on planted tanks: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwalgaecontrol.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algcontagb.htm >> Secondly, I don't understand why the Guppies are dying. They seem to swell in the stomach and after death bust open through the anus. <<According to Bob, this is unfortunately this is indicative of a bacterial condition [Chondrococcus or Columnaris disease] which can only be cured with the use of Neomycin sulfate. You could also use the Tetra medicated flakes, but you should probably evaluate the cost/benefit of this exercise. I would certainly stop adding new fish to this tank until you have this under control.>> Thirdly, I have inherited a Blue Marron and am keeping it in the breeder tank and was wondering if this is ok with consideration to: How do I feed it with the correct diet? If kept feed properly will it still be a threat to the other fish? Is the neutral PH of the community tank ok? <<read up on these guys: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpfw.htm >> If there is to much in this email the main thing I am concerned about is the Blue Marron issue, followed by the brown algae then the dying Guppies. Any help would be greatly appreciated as at the moment I am running totally blind. <<Definitely go through the WWM site, there is much information there to help you.>> Thank you Mark <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Guppies Be Us shop in SG Someone just started a shop that deals only in Guppies here in Singapore. Very unusual thing to do for a tropical fish dealer. <Yes.> By the way, are guppies prone to bladder problems like goldfish. A few of mine seem to have lost their balance and died suddenly. <There are some "Guppy maladies" that are tough to beat... mainly having to do with triggering from being moved from breeders to "too clean" conditions. Best to "buy local" or breed, raise your own. Bob Fenner> Perry

Livebearing fishes in a faraway land Hi dear Anthony <cheers, my friend!> Thank you for your help, yes it is right, I am testing it now. I have 3 questions: 1- the water in here is hard, how much salt (grams per liter) use for (livebearing fishes) fishes? <the naturally hard water is likely fine or helpful to most livebearing fishes like you mollies. There is no definite rule about salt for these fishes, but maintaining a mildly brackish environment with 7 to 10 grams of salt per liter would be helpful> 2- Methylene blue is ok or bad for fishes? how much? <for scaled fishes like yours, Methylene blue can be a helpful medicine. If you cannot find a commercially prepared mix for aquarium fishes (with a dose on the bottle), then you can, "make your own... Stock solid Methylene blue can be purchased from chemical supply outlets. Check your local [phone directory]. About one gram of dry material can be dissolved in about one hundred milliliters of water and about ten milliliters of this solution are to be used per approximately one gallon of freshwater [for a temporary dip (5 to 15 minutes in a separate bucket of water... water to be discarded afterwards).]" (from the WWM archives> 3-when a fish white stained on it's skin ,what can I do and what drugs do I use? <a short dip in Methylene blue as described above can be very helpful for many skin ailments> thank you very much your sincerely Nader <best regards to you and successful aquarium keeping in Iran, Nader!>

Livebearer troubles Hi dear Anthony thank you for your help, <Cheers, my friend... you are quite welcome!> > <if they are wasting away, have you noticed any stringy white feces coming from the babies or the parents that would indicate an internal parasite problem?> < yes I see it, but I thought it is the form of feces, I have had large mollies die,30 percent in month , what can I do for this problem? <yes... this may be part of our problem. Feces should be firm and usually the color of the fish food that they are being fed. If you are feeding commercially prepared flake or pelleted fish food, then I would expect the fishes' feces to be firm and brown or red colored. On the same diet, if the feces are stringy, long and white... it often indicated an internal parasite. A "de-worming" medication may be necessary to kill the likely internal flagellates. On of the most commonly available medications is called "Flagyl" (active ingredient is Metronidazole). This can often be obtained from a veterinarian in 250 or 500 mg tablets. Crush and dissolve one tablet (250) per ten gallons of aquarium water. Soaking the food in the medication is also helpful. Continue for 5 to 7 days and look for improvements in the color of the feces> and other problem in females:  dying after childbearing ,they will died 2day after childbearing , what can I do for them? <I am not clear what the cause of their death is. Are there any physical symptoms on the body? Is the water quality reasonably good as you can tell or test? Is the temperature stable (not fluctuating between day and night more than 1 or 2 degrees centigrade?> what you write in Pennsylvania? your book? <yes, a book about saltwater corals!> thank you for your kind and help best regards, Nader <best regards, Anthony>

Livebearer troubles How are you? <very good, I hope you are the same!> thank you for your kind help, yes I eliminated Methylene blue but in Iran there are not any drugs or medicine about fishes, <<is there enough salt in the parent's tank? 1.004 on a hydrometer?>> please write this salt to gram in liter ,I have not hydrometer, <7 to 10 grams per liter of salt would be very fine for such livebearing fishes> Is there any drugs for infectious for fishes? <many medicines available, but you should not medicate unless you can correctly identify which if any infection that a fish has> I have a tank with enough salt and without any drugs but babies of mollies are sick and dead (they grow thin and then died ). <if they are wasting away, have you noticed any stringy white feces coming from the babies or the parents that would indicate an internal parasite problem?> In other place it is too, mollies are very bad for aquarium ,all of my friend think ,it cannot resist with virus or microbe in water, I want a good antibiotic for them, what is it? <see if you have access to Furazolidone or Nitrofurazone. Else a Sulfa  based medicine might do (although it is a little outdated)> please write me other sites for information about fishes ,? <have you browsed the links on WWM related to this topic? Such as: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm and...  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poecillidfaqs.htm > thank you very much, take care, bye <best regards, Anthony>

Red Wag Platy - and a Whole Slew of Other Stuff Please Help a newbie to the hobby, <Sabrina here, to try to do exactly that> I am VERY new to the fish experience and am learning quickly.  Three weeks ago,  I gave each of my six year old twins a 1 1/2 gallon fish tank for their birthdays.  We followed the pet stores set-up instructions.  Came back a week later had the pH tested and then bought our first fish.  We purchased two red wag platies.  They were small, so we put them in the same tank.  One died within the week.  So we took a water sample to the store and got a swordfish for replacement.  In the other tank we got a red tail shark and a male guppy.  The red tail shark died within two days.  We took a water sample in ( they didn't test it) and got a female guppy.  NOBODY in all of this tested my water or said hey you should test your pH. <Okay....  It's definitely time for a new fish store!  Where to start....  Well, first off, please understand that 1 1/2 gallons is a really, really small space.  Not many fish can squeeze into there comfortably - the only fish I'd recommend for a 1 1/2 gallon tank is a single male (or female, if you like 'em) Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) - please never put two males in a tank together, though, as they will fight to the death.  They don't require filtration or aeration, nor do they need a heater, and they're very tough, beautiful fish.  Next, the red-tailed shark reaches nearly five inches in length, and gets to be an aggressive fish - won't even fit in a 1 1/2 gallon tank, shame on your fish store!  Also, double shame on them for not testing your water!  Definitely get a test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, if you don't have them already.  These are the things your fish store should have sold you, not more fish!  Also, are you using a tap water conditioner, to remove chlorine/chloramine?  This is also quite crucial, as chlorine/chloramine is toxic to fish.> The male guppy aggressively chased my female guppy, so I had to separate them within a few hours.  So, we put the original red wag platy (now about two weeks with us) in with the male guppy (now about 1 week with us).  This combination worked well.  HENCE, my first discovery that male guppies can be very territorial. <Well, it's not so much a territory thing as that the male was trying desperately to breed, and the female probably wasn't very interested.  Best to keep these fish in something larger (even a 10 gallon tank would suffice) where you can keep 2-3 females per male.> The sword fish ( about a week with us) and the female guppy ( one day with us) were paired together in the other tank.  This seemed to work well.  We had harmony for two more days.  Then our female guppy dropped about 15 babies.  She proceeded to die the next day. <I'm sorry you lost her!> So, now we chose to move the swordfish into the male guppy's tank while we set up a third 1 1/2 gallon tank so that he would not eat the babies.  The male guppy tormented the sword fish so bad that we had to put the swordfish into the third tank before the guppy killed / stressed it to death.  HENCE, our second lesson swordfish that have swords are males and won't get along with testosterone driven guppies that are 1/2 their size! <Well, check and see if your swordtail is a female, too; the easiest way to tell is to look at the anal fin (that's the fin on the belly of the fish, near it's tail).  If this is round and fan-like, it's a female.  If it's pointed and thin, it's a male.  Look at your male guppy for reference on what it should look like.  I've seen male guppies try to breed with female platies, and swordtails aren't that far off.> Now the swordfish started swimming funny.  He died 24 hours later.  I didn't think and didn't know to test its pH.  WOW, was it off.  Hence,  third lesson always keep an eye on pH. <Well, unless the pH is changing drastically, or is way out of the fish's tolerance range (most livebearers can take anything from 6.5 on up to 8.0), it shouldn't be the root of the problem.  I'm thinking this (and the other deaths) is more likely related to ammonia or nitrite, as those are very toxic to fish.  Please check out the 'cycling' FAQ's at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/estcycfaqs.htm - this will give you a bit of an idea of what's going on in your tanks.> Within two days the male guppy and the red wag platy developed ICH.  Hence, fourth lesson - It is great to live near a 24 hour super Wal-Mart so that you can get Ich treatment at midnight. <Oh, yikes!  Anything that can go wrong....> We lost the male guppy before I figured out the ammonia is a second important component to healthy fish.  Now we have got the water "de-ammonia-ized" and my red wag looks great.   <Indeed, ammonia is extremely important - the best way to be rid of it is simply with water changes.> We have experienced all of this in less than 3 weeks.  My red wag is still in isolation because it has been only a week since the first signs of Ich and she has only been totally Ich free for about two days.  Plus, I don't want her to eat my 3 week old baby guppies. <Here's an article on freshwater Ich, so you can better understand the lifecycle of this nasty parasite: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .  Hopefully it's been wiped out by the medication - NOT a fun parasite to deal with (not that ANY are....)> Now lesson #5,  Female guppies have a tiny black spot on their bellies and they should be sexed and separated from their male counterparts by week 4 if you don't want more babies! !  Wow, I can't believe I am still hanging in there. <Yup.... this little livebearer is sometimes known as the "Millions Fish" due to its extremely prolific nature.> I now have perfect pH and non-existing ammonia in all my tanks. <Good.  What about nitrite and nitrate?> MY QUESTIONS ARE - 1.)  How do I tell a male from a female in the red wag platies? <Same way as swordtails, guppies, and most other livebearer - look for that pointed anal fin of the male, rounded fan-like anal fin of the female.> 2.)  Will I have the testosterone driven issues with a male red wag plates that I had with my male guppy? <Well, possibly, but again, this is a drive to breed, not aggression.> 3.)  My water has a tendency to get cloudy in my small  1 1/2 gallon tanks.  The tanks don't have any filtration.  They use only a air stone.  Am I doing something wrong or do I just need to get one of those very small filtering systems for small tanks?  In the one tank, I only have the red wag ( that been receiving medication for Ich over the past week).  The other tank had the 15 baby guppies.  I moved the 5 females out of there today.  I think there is another one or two females I can move out, but they need another week for me to make sure they are females. <Well, part of the cloudiness is probably attributable to the tanks cycling.  I would very, very strongly recommend getting a ten gallon aquarium for all your fish (perhaps minus the babies).  This can be gotten quite inexpensively as a kit at a Wal Mart or most any pet store, but please be sure to get one with fluorescent lighting, NOT incandescent lighting, as the incandescents get too hot and can really mess with your tank's temperature.  It may cost a touch more, but it's worth it.  Most kits come with a hang-on power filter, which is far and above what I recommend to new aquarists.  The kit should also come with a tap water conditioner for removing chlorine/chloramine from your tap water.  The reason I am recommending this is that, as I mentioned earlier, 1 1/2 gallons is really a TINY space to try to keep fish in, and it will be nearly impossible to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero; it's also impossible to filter these tiny tanks efficiently.> 4.)  How important is it that I check for Nitrates? <Well, nitrates are only toxic to fish in very high amounts, and livebearers are tough little fish - but in such tiny, tiny spaces, water quality can quickly get out of hand, and the nitrates can easily get to toxic levels.  It's definitely a good idea to have a test kit on hand and check occasionally.  Far more important, though, it nitrite, which is nearly as toxic as ammonia is to the fish, and definitely needs to be checked, as it is the second step in the nitrogen cycle (again, I recommend you to the Cycling FAQ's).  Ammonia and nitrite, anything above zero should be considered toxic, and should be remedied with a water change.> 5.)  I read from your site that guppies and plates like a little salt in their water.  How do I know how much to put in?  What should my pH be if I add salt? <In my tanks, I use one tablespoon of aquarium salt to every ten gallons of water.  Some people prefer to use one tablespoon to every five gallons.  In a 1 1/2 gallon tank, probably one-third to one-half of a teaspoon would be about right.  But do keep in mind that salt does NOT evaporate, and after adding it initially, do not add any more when adding water due to evaporation, ONLY when you do a water change.  Again, tanks this small are going to be so difficult to dose, I really, REALLY recommend upgrading to a 10 gallon tank.  Or even larger, if you like.  As far as the pH goes, again, livebearers are tough little fish, and can tolerate a very wide range of pH - the important issue is to not let the pH fluctuate - a steady pH that's a little low or a little high is far better than a ph that is constantly fluctuating.> Thanks for all the help.  I have two local pet stores and they do not seem very knowledgeable in the fish area!  Lisa Stubbings <Unfortunately, it seems a lot of pet stores don't seem so knowledgeable, at times.  Try to find a small, privately owned store dedicated to aquarium fish only - they often have much more knowledgeable staff and might be better able to help.  But even with their advice, I also urge you to do research on any fish you are interested in before purchasing, to prevent ending up with things like a five-inch mean red-tailed shark.  I wish you much better luck, and keep us updated!>

Trouble keeping swordtails or platies alive Hello, <Sorry for the delay in response to this email, but I had to send it to a few livebearer experts that I know to get their input on this.> I moved from Dallas to New Orleans about a year ago and successfully transported my 30 gal tank with three large angels and four zebra Danios. I have, on several occasions, tried to introduce swordtails or platies to the community with no success. The fish seem to swell and sink to the bottom and then later die. <I have never seen this happen to fish like this.  The only time I have heard of issues of fish swelling and sinking to the bottom is when saltwater fish are added to freshwater and the cells in their body swell.> Water quality is optimum with excellent filtration and periodical changes. My breeding pair of angels mate continually and my Danios are big and happy. What's going on? <I wish I could give an exact reason why this is happening, but sadly I'm at a loss for what could be causing the problem.> Could the problem be dropsy? <Yes, that is what the people I ask seems to think is happening.  But, to have it happen to every swordtail/platies you add to the tank seems odd to say the least.> Can this be treated by feeding the new fish with antibiotic food? And can I make this food with 500 mg tablets of Cipro? <Yes you can,  I have found that mixing medicines in with thawed brine shrimp is a quick way to have the fish eat the food.> Please help, I have so much space and would like some more fish in this tank. <Well the problem is that I really don't think that you have space in this tank.  Your angels will grow quite a bit, and will become quite aggressive to the fish in your tank.  The Danios are quick enough to escape it.  Everyone I asked this question to thought it would be best to not even try to add fish to the mix.  You might want to set up another tank, so if you do purchase more platies you can raise them for a couple weeks in that tank then attempt a transfer to your angel tank.  Also, then if something starts to look bad you can move them back to the tank and treat them easier.  Good luck. -Magnus> Thank you, Jeffrey

Sick Livebearers Hi ya crew, thanks so much for having such a great site.  I have looked all over the web for answers to my questions and I am still so confused.  I just got this 10g  tank about three weeks ago and I am not being a very good fish keeper.  It was already established for two years and nine fish came with it- 3 platies (2 large adults and one small youngster) and 6 guppies (2 large females and one small young female and 3 males).  One of the adult female guppies was very sick when I got her (always floated at the top or did head standing plus she had a bent spine).  I tried to research the best I could and figured she may have had swim or float bladder infection. Plus two of the male guppies started to look ragged in their fins.  I decided to treat the entire tank w/the understanding that it was all very infectious and I was unable to get my hospital tank up and running in a timely manner.  I purchased Maracyn.  The store I purchased it from said that it would not affect the other healthy fish.  Well the two males are looking much better, and the female was euthanized the second day into treatment (she was suffering so much).  So that left me with one large female guppy (who was also very pregnant) and the 3 male guppies were driving her crazy.  The pet store told me to get 3 more females in their to help her out w/the understanding that I would have to do more water changes until I got a larger tank which will hopefully be sooner than later.  I do a partial water change twice a week and ammonia and nitrite are always at 0ppm and nitrates around 30ppm. < Try and get it down to under 25 ppm. When you do a water change try vacuuming the gravel too to get rid of waste accumulating in the sand>   I still continued w/the meds and tomorrow is the last day of recommended treatment but today my large male platy has been swimming erratically, scratching against surfaces, and has white specs on his body. Ich?  < Probably> I moved him to my two gallon hospital tank (readings are all fine now) thinking maybe he was reacting badly to the Maracyn. Plus my original small female guppy sits on the bottom of the tank and looks like she is struggling and has a red streak/spot on her back.  Mom gave birth and since then has been hanging on the bottom of the tank and I saw her scratch herself once.  It seems like I have totally upset these fishes homeostasis. what's going on here?< Sounds like the fish didn't like the move. Keep the tank around 80 degrees and treat with rid-Ich by Kordon for Ich. Treat the bacteria infections with Furanace. Follow the directions on the packages. These medications may affect the good bacteria in your system so you will have to watch for ammonia spikes. Control ammonia and nitrites with water changes.-Chuck> thanks Gina

Can I put Aquarium salt in a tank with mollies and platies? I have a 25 gallon tank and is full of mollies, but also platies. Right now there is no salt in the yank can I add salt? <Yes. Bob Fenner> 

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

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