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FAQs About Loach Disease/Health

Related Articles: Loaches, Dojos/WeatherfishA New Look At Loaches By Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:  Loaches 1, Loaches 2, Clownloaches, Kuhli Loaches, Loach Identification, Loach Behavior, Loach Compatibility, Loach Selection, Loach Systems, Loach Feeding, Loach Reproduction,

Loach has a tumor...      2/11/15
I was curious if you can help? I've had my tank set up for about a year, and I've had the loach for about 4 years, within the last 3-4 months the loach has been growing a large tumor on its "chin", it is about the size of maybe a pea now. The loach is 6 inches, eats wonderfully and otherwise seems quite healthy and active. I guess my question is, is there anything I can do get rid of this tumor like bulge??
<Simple question: sand or gravel? If gravel or sharp sand, my money would be on physical trauma that may have led to the development of this lump.
Why? Because the chin is the bit of the fish most likely to be abraded. If it's whiskers (barbels) are shorter than they should be, that'd be consistent. Loaches do best/require tanks with a fine substrate, either extremely fine pea gravel or (ideally) smooth silica sand, sometimes called pool filter sand. Review, and act accordingly. Tumours can't be treated (though vets can sometimes remove them) while viral growths tend to go away in time. Simple physical damage may or may not undo itself depending on ambient conditions, water quality, etc. The fact this lump has been growing for months largely refutes the possibility of a bacterial infection that would typically develop within days, and be obviously associated with redness and dead skin tissue.>
I try to keep the param.s as close to perfect as possible, occasional nitrate spike, I only treat with Melafix and PimaFix for any problems but haven't for quite some time.
<Both these medications are worthless.
Cheers, Neale.>Loach has a tumor...      2/11/15
I was curious if you can help? I've had my tank set up for about a year, and I've had the loach for about 4 years, within the last 3-4 months the loach has been growing a large tumor on its "chin", it is about the size of maybe a pea now. The loach is 6 inches, eats wonderfully and otherwise seems quite healthy and active. I guess my question is, is there anything I can do get rid of this tumor like bulge??
<Simple question: sand or gravel? If gravel or sharp sand, my money would be on physical trauma that may have led to the development of this lump.
Why? Because the chin is the bit of the fish most likely to be abraded. If it's whiskers (barbels) are shorter than they should be, that'd be consistent. Loaches do best/require tanks with a fine substrate, either extremely fine pea gravel or (ideally) smooth silica sand, sometimes called pool filter sand. Review, and act accordingly. Tumours can't be treated (though vets can sometimes remove them) while viral growths tend to go away in time. Simple physical damage may or may not undo itself depending on ambient conditions, water quality, etc. The fact this lump has been growing for months largely refutes the possibility of a bacterial infection that would typically develop within days, and be obviously associated with redness and dead skin tissue.>
I try to keep the param.s as close to perfect as possible, occasional nitrate spike, I only treat with Melafix and PimaFix for any problems but haven't for quite some time.
<Both these medications are worthless.
Cheers, Neale.>

Botia system; Ich     11/8/14
Hi there! I have a 60g with an array of tropical fish. (Green Severum, 2 Bolivian Rams, 6 emerald green cities, 2 red tailed Botias, 3 African dwarf frogs, mollies, Neons and long finned red minors and a dwarf Gourami).
<Blimey! Quite the collection of not immediately obviously compatible fish/frogs. But if it works...>
Water is usually at 75 degrees. We have Ich. I have copper, and I am thinking it might be too harsh for the Botias, am I correct?
<Does vary, but yes, Botias are often intolerant of copper and formalin.>
Or can I use it on them? I have an idea of the salinity and heat approach, but worry about the tetras in high salinity and higher temps... Any suggestions are so appreciated!
<Using salt at 2 gram/litre, plus raising the temperature to 28 C, will do the tetras/your livestock no real harm for the 7-10 days required. Certainly less toxic than copper. Do understand brackish water is from
about 5 gram/litre, and seawater 35 gram/litre, so the 2-3 gram/litre used to medicate against Whitespot is almost trivially low. Cheers, Neale.>

Clown Loach, hlth. 4/5/12
Dear Team, I have a Clown Loach which I have had for about 10 years, And he is acting very strangely. We did a water change about 4 weeks ago and came home today to find him lying on his side twitching and breathing very fast, I have checked him over and he has no visible signs of disease or injury and he was fine yesterday. He has been eating well although he has always been a bit on the small size compared to his companion but he has always seemed happy. I have checked the water and all seems fine, our tank is well established and we have had no problems with any of our other fish. Could this be just a swim bladder problem or could he be dying? our other Clown Loach are fine showing none of these symptoms.
we have separated him from the others just in case. Hope you can help us as we really don't want to loose him as he is a part of the family now but we don't want him to suffer if something is wrong and can't be cured. Many Thanks Heather
<Might have gotten "poked" by another loach... or perhaps something it ate (maybe a "bug" that fell in). Do read here:
and the linked files above for background/insight. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Loach 4/6/12

Dear Bob, thank you for your very prompt reply,
Have read all the information you suggested and double checked the water conditions and all is fine, I even took a sample of water to our local fish suppliers and they checked it for me and they also said the water conditions are fine.
<Data please>
But sadly this morning we lost him. On taking out said Loach I checked him over for any damage in-case he as you suggested he had been poked by the other Clown Loach but no signs of any damage what so ever. I am completely perplexed as to why the Loach has passed away. Perhaps it was just his time, we have only ever lost one other Loach and that was when the tank was first established and it died due to the stress of bringing him home. Now the other Loach who is fine is looking sadly forlorn and is hunting the tank for her companion, would you suggest that I leave it for a few weeks to see how things pan out just in-case we have missed something before getting her another companion? many thanks again Heather.
<This is a very social species... I encourage all to have/keep as large an (odd) number as practical... hiding spaces, foods et al. as you were referred to. I'd get at least two more individuals. BobF>

Re: Sickly Dwarf Gelius Barb, now kinky loaches, algae on (nee) Echinodorus 10/2/10
Wow...that's what I call service, thanks!!
<Not bad for free'¦>
Okay, will decrease temperature a little, and look into anti-Hexamita medication (mysteriously and collectively referred to online as a treatment for discus, it seems??)
<Indeed. Hexamita is one of the so-called Discus Diseases, and in fact is most often encountered among cichlids generally. Whilst I doubt this Barb is suffering from Hexamita itself, it may be something similar, and an anti-Hexamita medication might help.>
Will keep you posted.
While I've got you, am I permitted to ask a couple of unrelated questions? Will try to be brief (not easy for me, as you know). I have 5 loaches, 2 striata and 3 yo-yo.....both my striatas were "cast-offs" from different aquatics stores, I spotted them swimming in random stock tanks with other fish, totally unnoticed by the shop. One is very small (partly why I bought him), but I've noticed that he has a strange kink in his body (just behind the dorsal fin). Could this be the deformity of the spine that I read about in loaches? How will it effect him long term?
<Kinked spines are either congenital, caused by malnutrition, or much more rarely, caused by some sort of trauma. There's nothing you can do to fix them, but they don't seem to cause the fish undue harm, at least not under aquarium conditions.>
I also have an issue with algae on my live plant leaves. I have some tall Amazon swords, and a few of the leaves have very lovely brown smears on them, plus what looks like black spots (like felt tip) on one or two.
<Yes, very common with Amazon Swords, typically in situations where light intensity is not that high, and the aquarium isn't densely planted with fast-growing plants. Certain fish help, particularly those sorts that eat Red Algae, but improving overall conditions for the plants will be the main issue. Do read:
Despite my reading, I can't seem to find an accurate description of it online - I thought it was brown algae/diatoms but it doesn't completely fit that description....???
<Brown Algae and Diatoms are different things. Brown Algae are the kelps and bladder wracks, and they're essentially absent from freshwater environments. Diatoms -- sometimes called Golden Brown Algae -- are unicellular things that form thin, greasy films on the glass walls of the tank. Occasionally they bloom in the water. They're basically harmless and tend to go away by themselves once the aquarium settles down. Snails eat diatoms readily, so control of the few remaining diatoms is easy. Red Algae form the bushes, threads, and small but hard spots seen on glass, solid objects, and of course plants. These are among the most difficult algae to eliminate.>
The shrimp, panda Corys and zebra snail have all had a go at eating it, but it won't shift - and I can't seem to scrub it off manually. Some of the leaves are perfectly clean.....so will this be a case of simply removing the algae stained leaves altogether, is there nothing I can do?
<To some extent, plants combat algae themselves under good conditions. A decent clump of floating Indian Fern will go along way to removing nutrients from the water and suppressing the growth of algae. Otherwise use fast-growing plants such as Hygrophila and Vallisneria under intense lighting -- ironically, one of the best ways to fix algae problems is to add more light so your plants can grow more rapidly. If you aren't pruning weekly, then your fast-growing plants probably aren't growing as quickly as they should be.>
Thanks very much!
<Cheers, Neale.>

My clown loaches still have severe ick! -- 09/08/09
I have read many articles on your website about ick and have followed them, however my clown loaches still have severe ick!
<This species is an "Ick magnet"!>
I have done the salt and raised the temp to 84. I lost one catfish and my two loaches have lost their color and still look very ill.
<Hmm... Ick usually doesn't kill fish, at least not quickly, so do review other possible problems. Fish die because the Ick parasite damages the skin, allowing secondary infections to set in. It's these secondary
infections, coupled with stress and quite possibly problems breathing (Ick parasites attack the gills as well as the skin) that lead to death. But since Ick usually turns up when new fish have been added to the tank,
review things like quarantining procedures and whether the water quality is still as good as you think within the aquarium.>
What do I do now? I have groumis and leaf fish in my tank too. It is day three of treatment.
<Do understand the salt/heat method (and indeed ALL Ick medications) kill ONLY the free-living parasites, not the ones on the fish. What happens is this: You cannot do anything about the Ick spots on your fish. By heating up the water, you speed up their life cycle, so they burst more quickly. At that point, those spots die. But they throw out "baby" parasites, the free-living stage, that swim about for 24-48 hours to find a host. If they can't find a host, they die. For that period of time, and ONLY for that period of time, medications and salt are able to kill the parasites. Copper kills the parasites, while salt stresses the parasite and essentially draws all the water out from its cell, killing it. You MUST use the right amount of salt for this, otherwise it won't work. Too little, and the free-living cell will survive, and settle onto a fish, to start the next generation of white spots. You need to use 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per gallon of water.
That sounds a lot, but it's actually a trivial amount in terms of what freshwater fish can tolerate. It's like chemotherapy: the idea is it kills the disease before it kills the fish. Leave the water "salty" for about 2
weeks at this temperature, and you should find the Ick vanishes. After that time, just do regular water changes to slowly flush out the salt. Your Loaches and catfish will tolerate this much better than copper/formalin.>
Can the other fish tolerate the high temps!
<Yes, but add additional aeration if they are breathing heavily, and certainly ensure filtration (water circulation) is good.>
I am very frustrated! Please help-I don't think one will make it thru the night. Thanks Jill
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ick
Thank you for all your help!
<You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ick 9/11/09
I have other questions for you.
<Fire away.>
It has been a week since I did the salt and temp change for the ick. I lost one catfish and one clown loach.
<Not because of the salt, if you did things right. But Ick does make fish vulnerable to secondary infections, and other Ick medications (with copper or formalin) are especially toxic to Loaches and some catfish.>
The other loach had a fungus so I put fungus clear and stress coat in also.
It has been 5 days and the clown loach is still holding on, not eating and laying around. His fungus has cleared. All the other fish are doing fine, no Ick seen. Do you think the high water temp (82) is making him
<Not directly; Clown Loaches can do well in very warm water. But lack of oxygen will stress any fish. When you raise the temperature, you decrease the amount of oxygen in the water. Furthermore, fish at the bottom of the tank (like loaches) will be getting less oxygen anyway than fish at the top of the tank. So you do need to be very careful that [a] there's good water circulation from top to bottom; and [b] your tank isn't overstocked. Adding another filter, an airstone, or a powerhead could all be useful additions to your system if you're concerned oxygen might be an issue.>
How long do I have to keep the temp up?
<About two weeks. You need to mature ALL the Ick parasites on the fish, and this can take about a week under tropical conditions. You warm the water to speed things up, and in theory, at 82 F they should mature within about 3-4 days. If you honestly can't spot a single Ick anywhere, then you can lower the temperature. It won't stop the salt working. With luck, all the Ick parasites have matured already, and there's nothing to lose.>
Thank you so much! You have been a great help.
<Good luck! Neale.>

Ich, plants & surviving fish  7/16/09
Hey there,
I have a 65 gallon freshwater planted tank currently with 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 20 nitrate as well as my first case of ich. I'm a little heartbroken because it's already claimed 5 loaches (2 chain, 3 yo-yo) and I'd had the 3 yo-yos since I started the hobby 3.5 years ago.
<I see. The thing with Ick medications is that they're more immediately dangerous to certain fish, including loaches, than the Ick itself! This is why for Loaches we recommend the older heat plus salt technique rather than Ick medication. Aquarisol contains copper sulphate, and that's certainly one of the things believed to be more toxic to loaches than we'd like. Next time, raise the temperature to 82 degrees, and add 2 to 3 teaspoons of plain aquarium salt per gallon of water in the tank. I like to mix the salt with some warm water in a jug first, and then dribble the brine into the tank in front of the filter outlet; this helps it mix quickly around the aquarium. Run thus for a week or two, and you should be Ick free. The salt concentration is too low to harm fish or plants, but usually kills the free-living Ick parasite stages very quickly.>
I'd treated tank by increasing water temp to 84 degrees and added Aquarisol. I removed carbon, added an air filter and did 25% water changes every other day for 6 days. The loaches went fast, but one had managed to survive and seemed fine until I lowered the water temp back to 78. Within 24 hours the final loach passed with spots and a thick slime coat covering it. The other inhabitants of the tank: 8 Congo tetras, 1 blue emperor tetra and 2 Siamese Algae Easters have all appeared normal (no spots, no flashing, no change in eating habits) throughout this process. After I lost the 5th loach I've kept the water tamp @ 84. After reviewing the articles here I decided the next course of action is to add salt, a step I'd been reluctant to do with loaches in the tank.
<Ironically, I think it was the copper that killed the Loaches, not the Ick, and salt/heat would have been a better option.>
My questions are should I put the carbon back in the filter to remove the Aquarisol, is the Aquarisol the reason why my jungle Val and java fern have died and should I remove the wood and moss decorations while I'm treating the tank?
<Curious; actually, plants usually tolerate medications quite well, so I'm surprised by this. But it's possible I guess. In any even, both Java Fern and Vallisneria are tolerant of salt, so again, salt/heat would have worked well.>
It seems like no matter how often I siphon the tank the moss holds in a lot of particulates.
<Yep! One reason Java Moss is suited to clean tanks with small fish, rather than tanks with robust or burrowing fish.>
Thanks, Christine
<Cheers, Neale.>

Yo-Yo loaches all dead within two days 5/17/09
Dear WWM Crew:
I am really hoping you can help me out, as I have done several web searches and cannot find anything to answer my questions. I read your forums regularly and have received some of the best advice from you. Here goes:
I have a 40 gallon tank with 2 kuhli loaches, 3 red tailed zebra loaches and I used to have 5 yo-yo loaches. Also a few rummy-nosed tetras and one small angel fish. Tank has been established for about 2 years. I fed them 2 days ago and they were fine. Went out of town for a day and today I checked the tank and all the yo-yo's were dead and bloated with large patches of skin that flaked off and were floating around nearby. One of the red-tailed zebra loaches was almost dead on its side and breathing very heavily so I euthanized it with clove oil. The Kuhlis survived and the 2 remaining red tailed loaches are alive. One, however, has what looks like burns on top of its body...small white patches. I set up my 10 gallon quarantine tank and put the surviving fish in there, with a dose of Maracyn.
<Difficult to say without a photo, but my instinct would be to review water quality and water chemistry first. Loaches are "sensitive" animals and in particular we often keep them much warmer than they like, and this makes them more likely to become stressed more quickly. They are also (said to be) sensitive to copper and formalin, so many medications used to treat other fishes cause major problems for loaches.>
The only thing I can guess may have happened is that I added some plants and flourish substrate to the tank three weeks ago. I also used some fertilizer tablets that I buried about 2 inches into the substrate. Is it possible that the fertilizer tablets burned the yo-yo's and killed them?
<Not likely at all, assuming they were used as instructed.>
Can't tell you water parameters because I wouldn't have been able to get an accurate read with 5 dead loaches in the tank.
<Well, just to recap, for loaches, you should have the following: 0, ammonia, 0 nitrite, low nitrate, pH 6-7.5, hardness 5-10 degrees dH.  Loaches do not like hard water, high temperatures (with a few exceptions, 25 C/77 F is the tops), and they do not like salt. Copper-based medications should never be used in loach tanks. Water flow must be vigorous, upwards of 8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Since Loaches swim about at the bottom, circulation has to be extremely good otherwise they will be starved of oxygen; I'd recommend against pokey hang-on-the-back filters, and in favour of either decent canister filters or even properly maintained undergravel filters. Both of these options will take water from the bottom of the tank and push it up to the surface, something filters with the inlet and outlet close together (like hang-on-the-back filters)
often fail to do.>
I can say that I've never had any problems before and the tetras, Kuhlis and zebras (one of them, anyways) are fine. Any thoughts?
Many thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Yo-Yo loaches all dead within two days 5/18/09
Hi Neale,
<Hello Sunny,>
Thank you for your response. I keep the loach tank at 74 degrees F.
<Ideal for wintertime temperatures, but turn it up a degree or two for summer; reading up in Baensch, it turns out Botia almorhae likes water around 77 F.>
Water tests all fall within the ranges you state, except I don't have a dH test. We live in Seattle, the water is not hard here. I've not used any medications in the tank since it had been a healthy tank for so long.
<All fine.>
I did have two HOT filters running on it for a few months since the magnum 350 canister filter broke down--I did not replace it since I have been shopping for a larger tank with a wet/dry sump setup. I had an air bubbler line in there too. The water flow issue makes sense, but they had not been exhibiting any stress or difficulty breathing before this.
Any idea why the zebras and Kuhlis would be fine? The one zebra with white patches is looking much better since I moved the survivors to the quarantine tank, you can't really see them any more. After doing some research, I think all the white stuff on the dead loaches was slime coat.
<Ah... fish will produce excess slime if "irritated", but the factor causing irritation can vary from things like parasites through to pH changes. Should be obviously different to dead skin, so do examine carefully.>
I've read that it can be toxic--is this true?
<Never heard this; doesn't seem likely. There are some fish that produce toxic slime when molested, e.g., Boxfish, but I've not heard this reported from loaches.>
I'm wondering if one died and caused the others to die as I'm sure it spiked ammonia levels.
<Yes, this can happen, and the clue is really how well the remaining fish do -- if everyone else seems happy and doing well in terms of feeding and behaviour, all you can really do is put it down to "one of those things".>
They were all located in the same place in the tank, near their log cave.  I just can't believe they all got wiped out so fast, and only the yo-yo's.
<Well, each species has its own level of hardiness, and if Species A is killed by environment change X but Species B is merely stressed by it, then you can see something like what you reported.>
I do know that loaches are sensitive to salt and copper.
<They're not "sensitive" to salt; rather, it isn't useful for them in the long term. For treating Ick though, salt plus heat works very well. It's merely my recommendation that fishkeepers don't routinely add salt to tanks with loaches. Some folks are still a bit too causal with "tonic salt".
Copper and formalin, on the other hand, have been reported to kill loaches very quickly.>
Out of curiosity I looked at the plan food tablets. They are 10-12-8 and analysis breakdown is as follows:
Nitrogen: 10%
- Ammoniacal Nitrogen: 4.86%
- Nitrate Nitrogen: 2.48%
- Urea Nitrogen: .32%
- Other water soluble nitrogen: .48%
- Water insoluble nitrogen: 1.86%
Available Phosphate: 12%
Soluble Potash: 8%
Boron: .02%
Water Soluble Copper: .05%
Water Soluble Iron: .13%
Water Soluble Manganese: .12%
Zinc: .07%
<None of this should cause any harm. If sold for aquaria, they should be safe with most any fish.>
I will definitely wait until I buy the larger tank and wet/dry setup before I get more loaches. I am wondering if there are any precautions I need to take as I am planning on doing a freshwater planted tank with a saltwater light setup.
<Should work very well. The only real issues are heat (in which case avoid fish that need relatively cool conditions, like Danios or Hillstream Loaches until you've figured out if the tank will get too hot) and the intensity of the light (which can cause algae problems if you don't have fast-growing plants like floating plants picking up some of that surplus energy). Do also look at the "colour temperature" of the lights in the system you have; corals are usually sustained with relatively "high temperature" lights (10,000K) whereas plants prefer "cooler" lights (around 6500K).>
I'll keep the water temperature in mind, and they will have plenty of water flow with the sump. Also--is there any benefit of using a protein skimmer for freshwater fish?
<Not really; marine aquarium skimmers won't work once the salinity drops below about 50% normal marine, so while you can use such a skimmer in a brackish water tank, it won't do anything in a freshwater tank. There are freshwater skimmers, but they're usually used in ponds and are very big!>
Thanks so much,
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Botia Striata... from?  - 6/21/08 Can you help us with our sick loach? We have it in a 10 gallon isolation tank with gravel and a log to hide in. We were told that our loach has a parasitic infection and to treat with quinine hydrochloride and Metronidazole for 7 days. After 7 days we determined that treatment was ineffective and that its eyes had turned cloudy as well. We then purchased Rid-Ich+ (malachite green/ formalin) <Mmm... not good to use on loaches/cobitids> which we have administered at 1/2 strength for 3 days. Still our loach looks no better. The fish is swimming normally and does not appear overly stressed. Thank you for any advise you can give us. We really like this little guy. Melissa <I see a fish that looks well-fleshed, but has too much body slime... from the medicine exposure? What led you to believe this fish was parasitized? What conditions is it kept under (chemically, physically)... Did you try just raising the temperature? Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Botia Striata   6/22/08 Thank you so much for our quick response. <You're certainly welcome Melissa> The medications were recommended by a local aquarium/fish store. They really were not sure what it was but nobody else did and they appeared to be the most knowledgeable about fish and were recommend by other aquarium/fish stores. <Mmm, okay> We ran the Rid-Ich at 1/2 rate per recommendations on the web as well as on the package for this type of fish. <Understood> I increased the temperature from a normal of 78 to 84 during all of the treatments thus far (Total of about 10 days now). <Ah, good...> Not really sure what to do at this point. Thanks for any help you can provide. <I would slowly (a degree F. per day or so) return the temperature to lower... I don't think/consider that this fish is parasitized. BobF>

Sick Dojo Loach and Swordtail with Tumor -- 03/10/08 Dear WWM Crew, <Angela> I currently have a 10 gallon tropical aquarium, with a dojo loach and a swordtail. The tank has been running for several years now and the water quality has always been good, but nitrate levels have gone up in the past two weeks after my dojo loach got sick. <Interesting... is this all that changed?> I've been changing the water weekly to try to keep things clean. <Mmmm, hopefully not too much at a time> The dojo loach is usually very lively and eats a lot, but about two weeks ago I noticed that she wasn't eating as much as usual. The problem has gotten worse, and I haven't seen her eat anything in the last week. Within the last week, her anus has become abnormally large with a swollen protrusion (I've attached a photo for your convenience). <I see this> She also continually goes up to the surface for air and floats there, only coming down again after farting. In addition, I noticed that around the same time she first started showing signs of illness, she developed two shallow holes in her head. There is one under her eye, and one closer to her nostril. They are only on one side of her head. I'm not sure if these are related to the rest of her symptoms. <I do think all is inter-related> I've tried treating her with Maracyn and Maracyn II, but they don't seem to have had any effect. I'm planning on giving her a treatment of Epsom salt - do you think this will help? <Mmmm, maybe...> Also, I've noticed that my swordtail has been growing a white, fleshy protrusion on his side. I'm thinking it is probably a tumor, but I'm not quite sure. He's about 4 years old, and the area the tumor is growing from has been missing a few scales for around a year. It doesn't seem to bother him, but is there anything I can do about it? <This, and the pits on the Loach's head and possibly the other anal complaint of the loach are possibly pathogenic, infectious... bacterial... but what triggered, brought in this complaint? Live food, some newly purchased livestock? That the fine two gram positive and negative Mardel products didn't cure this is not too surprising... No mix or single antibiotic/anti-microbial can do... But perhaps the use of a Furan compound will help here... and not further disturb your biofiltration. I would try this with the Epsom... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwantibiofaqs.htm Bob Fenner> Thank you very much for your time! Angela

Re: Sick Dojo Loach and Swordtail with Tumor   3/17/08 Dear WWM Crew, <Angela> I'm not sure what triggered the illness. The tank has been running as usual, no new kinds of food or new livestock. I feed them a combination of shrimp pellets and flake food. <I see> We have been trying the Furan treatment as prescribed, but it seems like it hasn't helped. The loach has become much worse - in the past week, she's developed ulcers all over her body, mostly on her belly. She's gotten very skinny and spends most of her time floating on her side now. I don't know how long she has left, but is there anything I could try to save her? <Sometimes Epsom Salt addition seems to have a cathartic effect here... Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm> Thanks for your help, Angela <Welcome. BobF>

Sick geriatric dojo loach, reading    2/26/08 Hi there, <Ho there> I am very concerned about my Dojo Loach. She is around eight years old <Neat!> and I'm guessing that she is dealing with old age. She has had a large bump on one side of her lower body for several months now. Perhaps a tumor? <Perhaps> She had only the tumor for awhile and then I noticed red around her fins and tail rot. I treated her with medicine for tail rot <Mmmm, see WWM re> and it never really went away completely. Now this morning, I see that she has a large grayish patch in her lower body as well. It looks like a fungus. So now, if I¹m correct, she has a tumor, a bacterial infection and a fungus. Is this what happens when they begin to die of old age? I am very attached to her, and part of me wants to treat again, but I also don¹t want her to suffer, if she¹s in pain or uncomfortable. Is there anything I can do? Thank you, Rozalynd <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dojofaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick geriatric dojo loach   2/27/08 Hi Bob, <Roz> Thank you for your speedy response. From reading the link you sent, it seems like I may be able to keep her a few more years, if I figure out what to treat her with. <I do hope so> I apologize for having not found the WWM info prior ... I only managed to find the page with all illnesses lumped together (no pun intended!). I see that you recommended treating an internal bacterial infection with Metronidazole and tail rot with Nitrofuranace and then BioSpira. <Okay> I'm not sure where to begin though. Any further advice would be greatly appreciated. I'd love to keep her around a bit longer if possible. Thanks again, Rozalynd <I would try the Furan cpd. first... 250 mg./10 gal.s of water... as proscribed. BobF> Re: Sick geriatric dojo loach   2/27/08 Thanks so much. Hopefully I can round up this medicine and get her back up to snuff. I'm in the US and went out on a futile run today to find the other medicines I thought I would need from reading your website. So fingers crossed finding Furan cpd. I really appreciate your help and fabulous informative website. I really learned a lot. <Ahhh! A pleasure to serve. Life to you my friend. BobF>

Sick Kuhli Loach   1/28/08 Hi. I have a cycled 10 gallon planted with 4 wisteria, 2 Amazon swords, a micro sword, dwarf baby tears and duck weed which houses 2 Kuhlis and 4 narrow wedge rasboras. This tank has been operating for about 5 months. The loaches have been doing fine until Thursday last week. One loach is very dark and small- slender and in length. The other is large and perfect, just like you see in all the aquarium photos. There are hidey pots in the tank, but they don't use them much, prefer to be in the plant fronds or around the base or snuggled up together, so I get to see them quite a bit. Before leaving for the day I always do a check and look in on the fish. This day I noticed that the small loach looked sick....and I actually thought it was dead. It was ashen looking, and looks somewhat emaciated. I went to scoop it out but it swam all over the tank. I was behind by a few days (4) days on my regular 25% a week water change (last one was the prior Saturday), so I quickly did a water change with same temp Primed water hoping that was the only problem. At the end of the day, the ashen color on the body looked somewhat diminished. I just observed it over the weekend and noticed that a small part of the tail fin is missing, it is hiding more than usual, still looks emaciated and the ashen color seems to be coming back. I feed a pinch of flake food every morning, along with a few HBH frog and tadpole bites, maybe once a week I will throw in a few frozen but thawed blood worms. I try to supplement feeding of the pellets a second time at night, but not always. I was worried when I first got these fish that they weren't getting enough to eat, but they have been alive for about 4 months in my tank, so Im not worried about that anymore, and usually do a fast on Sundays. I have no idea what is happening to the loach, but its condition changed over a 24 hour time frame. One day it was hanging out with its buddy looking great, the next day it looked almost dead. Any idea? Kristen <Difficult to say without a photo. Male kuhli loaches are much more slender than the females. Where males look like worms, the females look quite robust, almost as if they'd swallowed a male! The body is often twice as deep as a male of similar length. On the other hand, if the thinner fish is losing condition, i.e., it's fins are ragged and it doesn't have great colours, then there may be something else at work. Diet is certainly one thing to consider. Are you feeding them enough? Do these fish have to compete with other fish? Kuhli loaches tend to lose out in busy community tanks. They are best kept as the only nocturnal bottom feeders -- i.e., they shouldn't be mixed with other catfish or loaches. Anyway, if you can send a photo, that would be great. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Kuhli Loach 1/29/08 Thank you for your reply Neale. I will try to get a photo but as I am sure you are aware, this can be quite hard. <I bet. Sometimes the best approach is to net the fish, and photograph it at the surface.> I don't want to move it until I decide it has to go into a hospital tank, just to ease any more stress on it. <Agree; with social fish, you do need to balance quarantining something for medical purposes and the fact the fish won't settle down if its on its own.> These two loaches are the only bottom feeders in the tank. It could be that they haven't eaten much, but Im pretty sure that with the food going into the tank, they are at least getting something. <Sometimes easy to get this wrong. I'd try switching to a solid pellet thing, like Plecostomus algae wafers. Half one of these discs (each about the size of a penny) should be adequate. Because these things break apart slowly, they don't get sucked into the filter, and catfish and loaches have ample time to feed.> The other loach (from your description, most likely the female) has not shown any signs such as this loachie is expressing. It might be in his best interest to simply move to a hospital tank... but then treat for what? <I'd stick with upping/varying the food a bit.> Internal parasites? <Possible. You could try something like PraziPro to see if it helps.> I don't think its Ich, none of the other fish are showing any white dots... except this loach, has white on its body. <OK.> It doesn't look like wet or dry cotton, it pretty much looks like lack of pigmentation. The skin seems to be sagging a little bit too, which is why Im calling it emaciated looking. I will put it in a hospital tank tonight and try to get you a pic. Thanks. <Look forward to seeing the pictures. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Kuhli Loach 1/29/08 Here are some photos of the sick loach. The ashen color between the stripes: this fish has always been a deep, dark brown color with white or creamish colored stripes. The photo looks washed out, but this is what this fish looks like now. <This fish is emaciated but not otherwise (obviously) sick. It may well have a "Wasting Disease" including internal worms, so treating with PraziPro is definitely a good idea. But I'd also step up the food. This fish is in the sort of state where force-feeding might be required, but if its foraging normally, I'd simply use a solid pellet of food that lasts all night, and let it graze freely. Force-feeding small fish is very difficult to do safely, and does take a lot of care. I'm a bit worried about the gravel: Loaches are never at their best in tanks with coarse gravel, not least of all because if food sinks between the "stones", they can't easily get it out. Sand is the best for these fish.> The head appearing larger than the body: emaciated. This fish has not always appeared to have a large head. The body in relation to the head is larger and this makes it appear emaciated. I have been caring for this fish for 4 months or more and was shocked by how skinny it looked, over night. <Agreed.> Its hard to see in great detail and I cant get any better photos at this time, but the tail piece missing. It looks as if a corner of it was just torn off. <The tail damage could indicate it is being harassed by something in the tank, like nippy tetras or barbs or catfish. But given your stocking, that doesn't seem to be likely. Finrot is definitely on the cards though, so treating pro-actively, or at least being prepared to treat Finrot, would be sensible.> The only inhabitants of this tank are the 2 loaches and 4 rasboras, and a couple of errant snails. No sharp edges in the tank. I added the sword plants about a month ago. <The gravel looks plenty sharp.> I feed them sinking frog and tadpole pellets every day, along with flake food and once a week throw in some blood worms, but I will try to get them something more substantial and see if that helps, too. Thanks again for the response. <Yeah, I think you need to beef up the diet. Algae pellets, catfish pellets, or about a half-cube of wet frozen bloodworms would be a good idea. Try putting the food on something like an up-turned peanut butter jar lid, so the food doesn't fall straight into the gravel. This is a trick seahorse keepers use, and once the fish figure out where the food is, it works pretty well.> -Kristen <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Kuhli Loach 1/29/08 Neale, thank you so much, again for all your wonderful suggestions. I am currently trying to locate some medication, so in the meantime, I will get some algae wafers and a "dinner table" for them to see if I can entice the loach to eat more. I really have become taken with these little creatures and now knowing that they were wild caught, I am inspired to do what ever I possibly can to keep them healthy. Even, I guess, if it means getting a new tank with sand and getting them some more friends! :) <Cool. All sounds like a good plan, and I'm glad you're enjoying the hobby. Sandy substrates are a great investment of time. They're cheap to do, and though a little work is involved, they can look amazing. There's an article somewhere at Wet Web Media called "Nice Bottoms" by my good self, and that's all about this topic. Cheers, Neale.>

Kuhlii Loach  1/16/08 Hello, <Hi Jessi> I recently purchased three small (about an inch and a half each) kuhlii loaches. <Wow, tiny> They seem healthy as far as feeding and activity levels, but I noticed last night as one did rested half of it's body vertically against the tank wall that it's gills seemed a little pink. <Mmm, these little loaches do/should appear so...> I'm wondering if that means they have some sort of gill irritation or if maybe it was just that the loaches are so tiny maybe they're a bit transparent and showed up pink. <Yes, the latter> I can only see this pink color when I view the loaches from below or can get a glimpse at their bellies. Otherwise their coloration seems normal. If this is something to be worried about, how should I treat it? Thanks, Jessi <No need to treat. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Misgurnis... lumpy   01/14/2008 Hey guys, I'm hoping you can answer my question ASAP. I looked on your FAQs and the only things about lumps I saw were about lumps on the body, but my weather loach recently developed a lump on the top of his whiskers. He won't eat and if the water is disturbed [I was putting baby plants in the tank] He started swimming sideways and spiraling. I had to quickly close the lid to my 33 gallon tank as he tried to jump out. This swimming continues for about 30 seconds, then he goes to the bottom of the tank and just sits. I've had him [or her] about 2 months and this is not normal behavior. He used to eat all day, or pick through the rocks but now all he does is sit. The lump isn't very big, but it looks like something white in his mouth and even when I caught him, I couldn't see anything in it. I'm worried because he hasn't eaten for 2 days and his swimming seems to be tiring him out even more!! PLEASE help? <Greetings. It's difficult to be 100% sure of what's going on here. If the "lumps" look like warts, that is, off-white, textured structures clearly distinct from the skin or body, then the chances are your Loach has either Fish Pox or Lymphocystis. These are viral complaints apparently brought on by poor water quality or things like heavy metal poisoning. Neither are really curable as such, but if a fish is kept healthy, they do eventually go away over a period of time (often many months). HOWEVER, from the position of these lumps, I'd SERIOUSLY consider Mouth Fungus (= Columnaris), a bacterial infection similar to Fin Rot. Like Fin Rot, it's caused by chronically poor water quality. Various off-the-shelf treatments will fix it such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000. I'd personally steer clear from Melafix or Pimafix, at least as the sole treatment. Obviously you also need to make sure the water (and perhaps also the substrate) are clean for any cure to work. Also do remember to remove carbon from the filter (if used) while treating. Cheers, Neale.>

Please Help... Cobitid... bacterial... bloat? I have had a loach ( peach in color like the one pictured on the loach page) Sorry I am not sure what kind he is. I am very attached to him. He has been with us for a few years and has survived a 3 day power outage in the dead of winter last year. We lost all the fish in the tank but him. There was nothing we could do we tried desperately to heat the house with a kerosene heater but just couldn't get it warm enough around the tank. But on to the problem, 2 weeks ago I noticed that he had a scrape one his side I thought that it was from something in the tank that he may have knocked into Then there was a black mark next to the scrape and I thought that it was just healing now all of a sudden he has blown up like a balloon and his eyes are cloudy. We changed the water by 25% checked the water quality and added salt. Then started treating him with over the counter antibiotics <What types?> but nothing seems to help. We have been doing this for 9 days now and to no avail any help would be great. I just don't know what else to do. Please help Melanie <I would try administering Epsom Salt here... if this is the only livestock present, or if there is other, that they tolerate salts well. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Sick kuhli loach 8/29/07 Dear Crew, I purchased a Kuhli loach about a week ago. He didn't look terribly healthy to begin with, but I had him ordered and felt sorry for him. So now he's in a 10 gallon tank by himself. The water parameters are fine and the tank is 3 months old. He was sick to begin with, I had hoped to cure him but failed thus far. His symptoms are rapid breathing and whitish sickly looking patches on his skin, which don't appear to be fungus but more like a there's a gap between some surface layer and a subsurface layer, almost like a blister. I finished a 5-day course with both Maracyn and Maracyn II and he's about the same. I'm actually surprised he's still alive. Any suggestions? Regards, Michelle <Hello Michelle. OK, the first rule is don't buy sick-looking fish. Now, given you have the fish, let's see what's going on. My guess is you have a fish with some sort of "slime disease". This a catch-all name for a variety of things. Basically you need to treat for an external bacterial infection and hope for the best. There are some medications designed specifically for slime disease, and those are the ones you want; things like API Erythromycin and eSHa 2000 should do the trick. If things still don't improve, saltwater dips can be very useful for clearing up slime disease. But loaches aren't terribly salt tolerant, so if you opt to supplement the slime disease medication with saltwater dips, be careful. Adding salt directly to the aquarium isn't recommend, either. Cheers, Neale>

Sick loach - need more info., remove rock salt from tank  -- 5/14/07 Hello, <Hi there - Jorie here.> I have two loaches, one is doing fine and the other one is having seizures or something. <That's not good.  What type of loaches are these? How large is the tank, how long has it been setup, what are the current ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH and temperature readings?> Both have been healthy and happy for the past 8 months. I am wondering if this has ever been heard of and if so, is there anything I can do to help him? <This can be many things. First thing to check is water parameters, build- of toxins (i.e., high nitrites can often lead to "shimmying". If only the one fish is affected, I would definitely suggest isolating it into a hospital/quarantine tank ASAP. While this could be environmental, it could also be a bacterial infection, which you don't want to spread to the other tank inhabitants...> Took my water in and had it fully tested. Results were fine. <This doesn't help. You really should have your own test kit at home at your disposal; a comprehensive "master" test kit runs around $20-25.  You should know the exact readings of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, along with pH and temperature, at the least. When someone tells you the water parameters are "fine", that is so subjective that it is barely useful.  I recommend investing in your own liquid test kit and re-measuring the water parameters yourself.> Put some rock salt in the tank but has not helped. <I'm not sure why you did this. Loaches can be very sensitive to salt (i.e., they don't like it); rock salt, or sodium chloride, is not at all the same thing as Epsom salt, which can be used to treat a sick loach. I recommend doing some water changes and getting the rock salt out of the tank ASAP. Have you seen any adverse effects from the rock salt?> I haven't seen anything like this.  The only time he moves now is like he's been shocked or something and then he ends up on his back very rigid but breathing. Other loach is stressing re: his bud. <Perhaps he doesn't appreciate the rock salt in the tank - that's what I'm thinking.> I'm worried that he may be in pain.........Please advise. <Definitely isolate this sick loach. Do you see any evidence of rapid gill movement/breathing? Excessive redness of the gills? If so, this could be parasitic. First off, I'd suggest doing a few water changes to rid the main tank of the rock salt; the loaches likely do not want the salt in their environment.  Are there any other fish in there, or just the loaches?   Then, I would suggest testing the water again and getting exact parameters. While the fact that just one fish is affected leads me to believe that the causes aren't environmental, the possibility is there - if this one fish has a weaker immune system than the others, he may be the first to show signs of distress. For now, after isolating the sick loach, I would suggest using Epsom salt in the QT tank- 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water.  I hesitate to advise you on medications without knowing what type of loach you have - loaches, in general, are scaleless fish and are quite sensitive to many types of medication. For now, I'd suggest the water changes and Epsom salt...please advise as to species, as well as additional information about your tank setup and other inhabitants.  You may be able to treat your loach with a half-dose of certain medications, but again, I hesitate to advise without more information. This could be bacterial, or even parasitic, but without more info., I just can't tell...> Thanks, Patti <Good luck. Jorie>

Re: sick loach - need more info., remove rock salt from tank PART 2  5/15/07 Hi Jorie, <Hi again, Patti>   Thank you so much for the quick response. <You're welcome.> I am setting up a QT tank as we "speak" and purchasing a test kit today.  I'm also changing water in main tank to get the salt rock out. <Wonderful - all sounds good.> Put the rock salt in because the guy at the pet store advised me to do so in regard to helping my loach. <That's what I figured...> He gave me a small amount to put in, tablespoon. <I'm glad it wasn't a lot of salt he advised you to add.  Likely no harm done, but in all reality, loaches really don't appreciate salt in their water.  You have to be very careful when accepting/soliciting advise from fish stores - sometimes you will get lucky and run across a knowledgeable, non-biased employee, but more times than not, in my experience (and in listening to other peoples' stories), these folks don't know how best to keep fish, let alone treat sick ones...> I have a 30 gallon tank.  There are two calico fan tails, two reg goldfish I have had for 8 years, two snails and my golden dojo loach. The sick guy is a dojo loach but not golden, he's brownish.  I have not noticed any red around the gills, no spots of any kind on him but he is experiencing labored breathing on and off and sensitive to sound. I called another pet store and they told me he may have brain damage? <It could be, but I wouldn't jump to that conclusion.  Is the fish eating at all? Swimming at all, or just lying on the bottom?> One store told me he wasn't in pain and the other store told me he was. My feeling is that he is but I'm not sure....Do you know if he is or not? <I really cannot say for sure. But, if the fish is swimming and/or eating, those are very good signs.  Honestly, the best thing for you to do is to isolate him, as you are doing, and try treating with the Epsom salts - this will draw out any excess fluids that have accumulated, thus (hopefully) regulating this fish's ability to swim. Is the fish bloated at all?> Anyway, I'm off to make the changes and thank you very much. <Based on the sensitivity of the dojo loach, I would try the Epsom salt treatment first - hopefully you'll get lucky and this will solve the problem.  If it doesn't (do give it a week or two to work), perhaps the problem is  parasitic, and a half-dose of copper sulfate could be in order. If you are absolutely convinced the fish is suffering, the best way to "put it down" it by using pure clove oil - it will basically put the fish to "sleep". Hopefully it doesn't  come to that... Good luck! Jorie>      Patti

Dojo not healing  2/19/07 Hi.  Thank you for offering expert advice.  I have a well established 55 gallon tank with tetras, otos, and two dojo loaches. <I see the one excellent specimen> about three months ago, I notices that my female dojo had a white patch near her tail, and that she was starting to get another one on her other side, also near her tail. <Yes... likely started from mechanical injury...>   She didn't seem particularly bothered by it, but I treated with Maracyn anyway and it went away.  Her scales in the affected areas, turned dark, and I assumed that this was just part of the healing process, like kind of a scab (similar to the post at www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfshdisfaq8.htm ).      <Yes, also likely>   However, the spots are persisting, and maybe even getting worse, as now the area between the scales is also dark.  Is there something I can do to help her heal?  Water quality is good, I dechlorinate with stress coat, and I added a small amount of salt to the water this morning, after she was not excited to see a piece of zucchini and seaweed (a clear warning sign that she may be going downhill).  I've attached a couple of pictures of one of the spots if that helps.      <Mmm... yes... I see you have some rather sharp and calcareous objects in this system... these really should be removed....>   By the way, you helped to save this very same loach in 'Please help my sick dojo  9/29/05', from what I guess was a stroke or the like.  She had to relearn how to turn right, left, stay upright, etc.  You encouragement was very helpful.  Thanks for your time and expertise.      Emily <Ahh! Please take a read here: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=3016&genusname=Misgurnus&speciesname=anguillicaudatus This species really needs rather softer, more acidic settings... and a dearth of sharp material... If you had another system that had more this sort of setting, I would move them. Bob Fenner>
Re: dojo not healing   2/20/07 Hi.  actually, the objects in the picture are polypropylene replicas of coral, made specifically for aquarium use. <Ahh, thank you for this>   I removed the sharp rock after this dojo appeared with a gash on her head about four years ago. <Good>   I felt like a criminal, and am now very careful.  Their eyesight is poor, and they tend to flail around, often crashing into things. <Yes>   Good advice though.  So do you think there is anything I can do for her persisting damaged spots? <Well... there is a trade-off with "treatment/s" and manipulation period here... almost everywhere ("Life is a series of compromises" or such)... I would try the "internal" approach here, with supplementing (vitamins, HUFAs...) this animals foods... soaking them in a commercial prep.. Such are available for pet-fish... Bob Fenner>

Growths on Weather Loach  11/22/06 <Hi Angie, Pufferpunk here> I just stumbled onto your site while looking for information on my weather loach, Gollum. We have had him for a year now, he eats well and is active with the weather changes and in the evening. About a month ago we noticed little round growths on the end of his "whiskers" (sorry I'm not sure what they are really called) and tonight I was watching him and noticed a lump under his skin (again round) and then on the other side of his body a larger roundish worm looking thing under his skin. The one on his left side looks different from the other growths in the way that it doesn't really bump out like the others do. He is in a tank with 2 Zebra danios, 2 rummy nose, an aquatic frog, a snail and a tire eel. Our tank size is (sorry not specific) around 50 Gallons. The temp. stays at 25 degrees C. and has for the past year with no complaints/odd behavior from the fish. We are stumped as to what is going on with him. We do partial water changes and have an excellent filtration system... No new fish/plants have entered the tank in the past 6 months. There are no other signs of sickness, he doesn't really have a tail fin anymore as it was gone when we got him, he is about 5 inches long and about the size of a hot dog around. He eats fish flakes, frozen blood worms and some times eats algae pellets. I have to admit my knowledge is very limited with my fish and now that a problem has arrived I'm not sure what to do. I've read most of the FAQ's on your site (wonderful site btw) but not sure anything on there is the same thing he has. Any information would be greatly appreciated. <From his size & those tumors, it sounds to me like he's a lot older than you thought.  This is a sign of old age.  I had mine for about 8 years, by the time this happened.  I always try to buy my fish small/young so they will have the best care throughout their lives & I have them longer.  Just make sure no one starts picking on the old fella.  ~PP> Thank you, Angie

3 dead yoyo loaches?   8/19/06 <<Hi, Melinda. Tom with you.>> I have a 75g fresh water tank with 1 Convict Cichlid(4 months), 2 African Butterflies(4 years), 1 Albino Cory(9 years), and 3 feeder guppies (too quick for the butterflies).  All has been fine until tonight.  I came home to all 3 of my Yoyo Loaches(4 months) dead tonight.   <<Very sorry to hear this, Melinda.>> No signs of illness, eating and very active yesterday.  All 3 are very pale in color and covered in a thick slime? Velvet??   <<Velvet typically exhibits a "dusty" look - sort of rusty looking. Columnaris, at its worst, makes the fish appear like it's wrapped in a cocoon. I suppose either may appear to be a heavy "slime" coating, depending on the fish.>> All of my other fish are fine, so far.  I tested my water pH 7.5, Ammonia 0, Nitrates 0, Nitrites 0.  Temp. is always set at 80.  I did a 25% water change last week, I use Prime from Seachem with all my water changes.  I have had this tank set up and running for over 6 years. I have never had any disease or parasites before and I don't know what to think. <<If I were going to pick a "culprit", I'd look to the Guppies. You don't mention how long they've been "dodging" the Butterflies but I assume these were the most recent additions to the tank. I recently became aware of another uncommon situation - through Bob - where a brand of water conditioner had been found to become tainted with live bacteria. Not your brand but another reputable product. I'd remove the Guppies to another container, if possible, and observe your other fish closely. I'd also consider spending the money on a fresh bottle of Prime to be on the safe side. Seems unlikely to me that the Prime is responsible due to the rapid demise of your Loaches but absent any other solid evidence of what might have happened, I wouldn't risk pets that I've had this long for a few dollars.>> Thank you for any and all help. <<If anything else comes to mind, Melinda, please post back to us. Best of luck with this. Tom>> Spotted Dojo Loach Issues   8/18/06 Well, I bought a spotted dojo loach yesterday, <"Oh boy. About a lucky man who made the grade..."> and so far he rarely moves. <Mmm, not atypical> He so far resides in a 20 gal. tank along with 2 albino Corydoras, a male platy, a crab, and up until maybe an hour ago an atrocious male blue gourami. The man I talked to when I bought the crab and loach said they'd all do fine together. <Ah, negative> When I released him into the tank, he just kind of shivered and shook around a little every time another fish touched him. This morning, I was almost certain he was dead. He was upside down, appeared not to be breathing, and when I poked him and flipped him over he didn't move and his body was rigid. I left and came back a few minutes later and he was breathing. <Can be comical> My blue gourami then decided to eat his fins, which I put a stop to and removed him (he nearly killed a female blue gourami from constantly chasing her around and biting at her and eating almost all of her fins). A little bit later the crab decided to pick him over, so I poked at the crab to get him to leave   the loach alone. <Needs to be removed... the crab... now> The crab finally decided plant bulbs were a better meal. Again, I left for a little while, and when I came back, he wasn't breathing again. I stayed and watched a little while again, then left yet again. This time, I returned, and now his head is poked in-between a shell and an un-grown plant bulb, so apparently he's still alive, if not only by a thread. I'm going to get my water checked tomorrow, but I'm pretty certain I don't have a problem with nitrate (4 healthy live plants and water treatment to take care of it). The only issue I can think of is that my tank is too hot for it (around 78 F). <Maybe... if this animal was being kept in much cooler water... however this species can live in tropical conditions...> Well, after just checking the temp, I'm pretty sure it's dead. It seems to have blood around its tailfin and he's not breathing or moving at all. I really like these fish and would like to know if my current condition has the ability to support a loach. <Oh yes> I can't really control the temp, <Mmm, yes you can in an important way> my heater has been off for quite a long time (few weeks), so right now my tank is   just at room temperature. <... I'd set it at the 78 F. mark... it won't "turn on" if the water is warmer...> I'm still fairly new to maintaining an aquarium, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your time and sorry for the longwinded email, I just wanted to give the whole story. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Dojo On His Way Out   8/19/06 Every time I firmly come to the conclusion that the fish is dead, he starts breathing. He has a little blood around his fins still, and often goes extensive periods of time without breathing. Is he dead and just having muscle spasms, or is he under an immense amount of stress? Every time I get ready to fish his lifeless body out of the tank, his gills start moving up and down. He hasn't really moved (that I've seen) ever since he'd wiggle around whenever something touched him (yesterday). Currently he's sitting upside down in the corner of the tank and only really breathes every couple of minutes. His gills move for maybe 20 or 30 seconds, then it slows to nothing. Is there no hope for my fish, or is doing the best job of playing dead known to man? < Although your little dojo is quit resilient he is probably going through his last stages of life. Dojos like cool clean water with a smooth substrate. Coarse sands and gravels are very abrasive and can cause numerous abrasions that can become infected. the bloody areas around the fins indicate a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics like Nitrofurazone or Kanamycin. These work best when the water is clean and the are no heavy minerals in the water.-Chuck>

Dojo On His Way Out II   8/19/06 Just thought I'd tell you he died. He had stuff growing off of his side (did a little search and am guessing it had columnaris, probably wrong), and a little bit of blood on his tailfin (guessing from the gourami). < The white stuff is probably a fungus that feeds on dead tissue. The bloody areas are still probably bacterial.> The crab only picked at him that one time that I saw, and the rest of the time just kind of walked past him and ignored him. Also, I have my heater set as low as possible and haven't seen the indicator light on in a long, long time. I live on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, so room temperature is around 75 or 76 most of the time. On a completely different topic, can fish grow back a majority of their fins if most of it is gone? My female gourami seems to be growing a little bit of fin back. Again, thanks for your time, and thanks for the response to the first email! < As long as the damage is not down to the body of the fish then the fins should grow back. Fins that have fungus damage should be clipped back down to healthy fin tissue so they will grow back.-Chuck>

Troubles with Ich   7/7/06 Hi,  Larry here.   My son started a FW 20g planted tank with Cardinals, Blue Rams, Thread fins and a Clown and Kuhli loach.  Unfortunately the clown loach had ich. < Common problem with this fish.> We treated with Maracide which is basically Malachite green as directed on the bottle and the ich disappeared for a few days only to come back.  So we retreated 2 more times and the ich has returned.  We raised the temp to 82F and switched to Quick cure which is M.Green and formalin and have had no luck in effecting a cure.  The tank uses a Fluorite gravel.  Do you think the Fluorite is absorbing the malachite? < No but any organics would absorb this medication.> <<Could easily be. RMF>> The water does not stay blue green very long.  Our plants by the way have done very well through all this. We have now moved all the fish to a 29g QT tank that I normally use for my Marine fish.  We are now treating with Cupramine copper.  Now how long do we have to leave the 20g fallow before we can put our fish back into the tank? < At 82 F the ich parasites need a host. They will die in 7 days without a host fish.> I was also thinking about treating the 20g tank with Epsom salts as I have read in WWM FAQ's that this can be effective, what's your opinion on this? < Salt increases the slime coat on the fish and make it more difficult for the parasite to get established on the fish. You don't want to add too much because this will also increase the slime coat over the gills and prevent the fish from breathing properly.> We also have an African frog and some Japonica shrimp which have survived the Malachite and formalin much to my surprise.  It is my understanding that they do not act as hosts or reservoirs for ich.  Will they be ok if we treat the tank with Epsom salts and what dose do I use? < I think your problem is that you don't let the medication stay in the water long enough. If I had ich in my tank I would do the following. Raise the temp to 82 F. This makes it more difficult for the parasite to survive because at higher temps, water has less holding capacity for oxygen. Secondly I would do a 50% water change. This automatically removes 50% of the free swimming parasites. Third I would clean the filter and remove any carbon. Fourth I would vacuum the gravel to remove any organics and make any medication more effective. Then I would treat with Rid-Ich by Kordon. It is a combination of malachite green and formalin. Follow the directions on the package. I would add a teaspoon of rock salt per 5 gallons of aquarium water. The ich should be gone for good in a week. Now to prevent any further outbreaks I would get a quarantine tank. No fish goes into the main tank without a minimum two week quarantine period. Much easier and cheaper to medicate in the QT tank.-Chuck> What a frustrating mess,  I have a 120g FOWLR marine tank that I tore down because of battling ich for over a year thanks to a blue tang that I FW dipped and QT for 2 weeks.  Thanks for the advice and all the wealth of knowledge that the WWM crew supply. Larry, basking in the sun in Minnesota! <<... need to remove the shrimp, frog... and I'd raise the temp. to the mid to upper 80's F. RMF>>

Sick weather loach  - 06/22/2006 <<Hello, Andrea. Tom with you.>> I purchased a weather loach 4 weeks ago. For the past week he has just laid on his back, hardly moving. His body looks twisted and he eats very little. Nitrite and nitrate levels are ok, and the other fish and weather loach are ok. Can you help? <<Andrea, you haven't given us a lot to go on here. Bless you for being concerned about your pet but telling us that certain parameters are "ok" isn't specific enough. This isn't aimed at just you but for all of our readers. At the minimum, we need to know what the "exact" readings for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH levels are. In short, you can't give us too much information since one tiny thing, to you, may tell us everything we need to know.  All I can do here is guess and that guess would be that your fish was sick when you purchased it or, is not, genetically, "up to par". Sad as this sounds, it does happen.>> Regards, Andrea. <<My best, Andrea. Tom>>

Yoyo Loach Diagnosis Help    6/14/06 I have a 30 gallon Amazon planted tank setup in my office. <Sounds nice!> It had cycled for quite some time and successfully sustained a healthy skunk Cory cat, so last week I added fish. Because the setup is in my office and the fish were ordered, I decided not to quarantine. <We've all made that decision at one time or another, and sometimes you get lucky.  Many of us have also learned the value of quarantining new livestock the hard way...> The new fish are yoyo loaches (to handle the snails), blue rams, and Apisto cichlids. Everyone seemed healthy and when I left work on Friday, nothing unusual was detected. Monday I got to work and immediately noticed the yoyos breathing heavily. That was the only symptom I saw most of the day. By the end of the day, I caught one of them flashing, but not frequently. The other fish in the tank seem to be breathing a bit quickly, but it isn't labored. Other than the breathing and occasional flash there are no symptoms, and everyone is active and eating. <Have you recently tested the water parameters? You added a substantial amount of livestock at one time, and perhaps the biological setup wasn't quite ready for all of those fish at once.  I'd take an ammonia, nitrite and nitrate reading ASAP and do a substantial water change.  The flashing and labored breathing can all be symptoms of toxins in the water...> From experience with my reef tank, I have learned it is best not to panic and over medicate... <This is true!> ...so I am not quite sure what to do here.  My water parameters are good- no ammonia or nitrite, and 20 ppm nitrate; ph at 6.5, temp was 78, but I am raising it as a precaution. <OK - that's good.  When you added the fish, did you slowly acclimate them to their new water, or just plop them in? If it was the latter, the fish could be exhibiting symptoms of shock from the drastic change...> I did a 30-40% water change last night <Great!> and have added "ich attack" this morning... <Not great...> ...as it is a safe, all purpose herbal treatment. <Or so the manufacturer says...> I do not want to use salt in this tank because of the plants and loaches... <Understandable and wise.> ...and I have not seen any white spots yet, so I don't know if ich is even the right diagnosis. <It doesn't sound like ich based on your description, rather like something toxic in the water.  Additionally, it's a very bad idea to medicate your main tank, as you will likely destroy the beneficial bacteria colonies you worked so hard to establish by cycling the tank (even if the medication claims the opposite).  Based on what you've said, I can see no reason to use any sort of ich medication, so if it were me, I'd stop using that medicine and do enough water changes to remove the medication ASAP.  Loaches, being a scaleless fish, are extremely sensitive to certain medicines, and it is possible they won't react well to it.> On hand I have both the antibacterial and antiparasitic jungle labs medicated foods, but no other medication. <Based on what you are telling me, I don't see a reason to use either at the moment...> One confession I must make for full disclosure - the initial snail outbreak was unbelievable. Deciding that I would prefer to die by poison rather than being eaten, I used the golden rule on the snails and used the "had a snail" copper treatment (no fish at that time). The snails were totally unaffected. After running carbon for several weeks and a major water change, the fish were added. My husband thinks the loaches could have gotten sick from eating the snails if they were holding some level of copper in them- is this possible? <It's entirely possible, and it's also possible there is residual anti-snail medication still in the water.  Loaches are very sensitive, and I think the best thing you can do is to do regular (e.g., daily) water changes for the time being - 50% would not be excessive.  This is in line with my initial diagnosis of a toxin in the water.  See if the loaches behavior improves with the significant water changes, and if not, then your husband's theory is likely correct.  I know how difficult it is to battle FW snails, and ultimately, you may have to break down the entire tank, bleach it, and start from scratch.  I think, though, based on the fact that some of your other fish were showing signs of toxicity, that the increased water changes will help, if not solve, your problem.  You may also want to change your carbon filter again, and look into a supplemental filter media called a "PolyFilter" - I like to call that the "wonder-sponge" for absorbing all sorts of "nasties" from the water.> I welcome any suggestions you have- this website has been incredibly helpful with our other tanks, but I just couldn't find what I was looking for with this situation. <I certainly hope I've helped.  Do browse through www.WetWebMedia.com's chat forum, and search "snail" and "loaches" - there's some interesting info. on that topic out there, if I remember correctly...> Thank you, Laura <Good luck - I hope everything turns out OK. Jorie>

Re: Yoyo Loach Diagnosis Help PART 2  06/14/2006 Thank you for your answer. <You're welcome.> I knew the bioload was going to have some dramatic changes, but watching the parameters, I haven't noticed anything typical have a major spike. What is your experience with the Seachem ammonia alerts? In our reef tank we found it very accurate, but I haven't before tried one in freshwater, and the one I have on this tank has stayed yellow/safe all along. <Is this the type you "stick" onto the side of the tank? They are about as unreliable as the dip-stick type tests, in my experience/opinion.  I personally use the Tetra Master Test Kit for my FW system, which includes ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.  The "liquid"-type tests are the most reliable.> I have a real ammonia test that I'll use today. <Excellent.> One casualty on my arrival this morning, and it wasn't a loach. One of the rams was floating. Its gills were pale, but not brown, and it had lost all color, but I didn't notice anything physically wrong except that it was dead. Oh, it's eyes were red- that was odd. I'm trying to get a head count of the rest, but so far only see the loaches, which still look fine but for very fast breathing. <Hopefully you've done a large water change since finding this casualty. Sorry you lost one.> I've done a copper test and it doesn't show any copper still present in the water. This morning I replaced the carbon and added a new bag of Purigen. I'll do a water change ASAP, but the "p" in that acronym is tough because of my office. Worth it, certainly, but still tough. <Yes, I noticed you are a lawyer - what type of law do you practice? In any event, I am sure you are busy! I myself am currently in law school...have to go finish reading for Conflict of Laws class tonight!> I don't know that I have any more questions at this point, since this is a game of wait and see. I just wanted to respond and say thanks. <You are welcome.  Do look into the PolyFilter (available on www.drsfosterandsmith.com - not a miracle worker, but very good at absorbing toxins in the H20.  And do keep up with the H20 changes - this is truly your best bet.  Good luck, Jorie.> Re: Yoyo Loach Diagnosis Help PART 3  06/14/2006 Jorie- I have some PolyFilter on the way (thanks for the suggestion), and a water change scheduled for tomorrow, thanks to my husband. <Excellent!> I am in real estate and environmental law- good luck in law school and feel free to email me if you get stressed or have questions. I am a very new lawyer, so I still feel your pain. <Thanks for the offer, Laura - that's very kind of you! Law school truly is a painful experience, isn't it?  I'm planning on looking into working for the IL State's Attorney's office, or something similar.  I just started an externship at the 4th Municipal Dist. of Cook County, IL for the Presiding Judge, and am excited to work with so many ADAs, not to mention the judges.  Thanks again, and good luck to you also with your work and fish!  Jorie> Laura Bauman Loach with lumps  - 03/12/2006 Dear Crew, <Chris> I have a weather-loach in a 3-foot indoor tank, with two other goldfish. The loach is quite young (I think), about 4 to 5 inches long and I bought him/her last year. <Neat animals> Over the past six months or so, the loach has developed "bulges" in the abdominal area. There are two; one towards the front "third" of the body, and the other to the rear, just in front of the anal cavity. The bulges are visible on both sides of the fish. The loach appears healthy, however, and is active. I cannot find any information about swollen abdomens in loaches; <Really? http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loachdisfaqs.htm on WWM> one thought I had was, is this a female with eggs? <Possibly> but having never been sure whether my loach is Lawrence or Laura, I can't decide. Up until last Christmas, there was a second loach in the tank; very old (22 years+) <Wowzah!> and again no idea whether it was a Larry or Lucy. Ideas welcomed, please. I tried to take photos but no luck at present. Chris (UK). <Don't know the precise cause/effect here, but have seen similar conditions in Misgurnis... as you state, doesn't seem to affect their health. Bob Fenner> Freshwater Clowns?  Uhh, Clown Loaches? - 11/25/2005 I do hope you can give me some insight as to what may be going on with my clowns.... <Clowns....  Freshwater....  I'm going to have to assume you mean clown *loaches* here, yes?> I have a 35gal tank and I have 4 clowns aging from 6 yrs to 12 yrs old <These are slow growing animals, but by 12 years of age, under proper care, they should be nearing a foot in length.  These animals should be in a much, much larger system, if this is the case.> and I have never had any problems with them. Last night at feeding no one came out they all are staying in there hiding spot inside an urn. Now tonight I have lost one of my guys and I notice on him that the tips of his tail are white and a few spots. <Not quite enough description, here....  If these are white spots like grains of salt, please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the files linked at the top of that page.> I still have 3 that don't seem to have the spots but once again no one came out to eat. <A bad sign.> Also in the tank is an angel that does not seem to have any problems, so it is confined to my clowns. <Mm, if it is ich, it is the entire tank that is infected.  But again, there's just not enough information to go off, here.> Where do I start and what can I do??? <Start by testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite must be maintained at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.  If these are not so, fix them with water changes.  Beyond that, please read about health and disease here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .> Any help in this will be great.  Thank you,  -Dawn Tweedy <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Loaches, Ich, Salt, and Copper - 11/08/2005 Hi Crew, <Hi Brian; Sabrina with you, today.> First let me give my thanks, Bob Fenner replied back in late June concerning our highly alkaline well and the use of SeaChem's "Acid Buffer" on incoming water to bring our FW tanks down from a pH around 8.2-8.4 to a much more reasonable 7.0-7.2. After a lot of experimentation, it seems about 1/4 tsp Acid Buffer added to water mixed at 2:1 - 3:1, RO/DI: well does the trick, when combined with occasional small water changes at 6:1 RO/DI: well with no Acid Buffer to give back some alkalinity and thin out the GH.  <Great.> Now on to my questions. I've got a 29 gallon tank setup with 7 red swordtails, 2 honey gourami, and 8 checkerboard barbs. Water parameters consistently check fine - no ammonia, no nitrite, ~15mg/L nitrate. Two medium sized Amazon Sword plants, one medium tiger lotus grown from a bulb, and a small chunk of Java Fern reproduced from another tank. Water temperature is at 77 deg F, pH = 7.0.  One of the swordtails, male, has been steadily looking worse and worse over the last month and a half or so, with no other symptoms apparent on any of the other fish. Best description I can give of the swordtail is that he's lost a lot of his color on the bottom half of his body. His lateral line is very evident as a greenish line down the length of his body, and most of the damage seems to be at or below his lateral line. The lower area near his tail has also really washed out. With the lights out, the bottom half of the fish looks almost grey, with lights on it is more a faded red with some silverish looking parts. I'm fairly certain it is not ick or any other transmissible disease as none of the other fish look at all affected.  <Is possibly nerve damage.... from an injury, or developmental/genetic disease....> My only theory is that he has been spending way too much time hanging out by the tank's heater, which is placed horizontally instead of vertically to try to provide more efficient heat dispersion. I've added an airstone near the heater to try to discourage him from resting from near/on the heater.  <Even better, get a plastic guard to go around the heater, or wrap the heater in airline tubing with "gaps" between the coils of tubing if you are unable to find a guard for it - and couple this with the airstone.> For about 2 days in a row, about a week ago, he was doing a little flashing on the Amazon Sword leaves and the bottom, but that seems to have subsided. I have not added any treatments to the tank, other than my usual water change schedule which includes a trace (less than 1/2tsp for 3 gal) of salt, along with 0.1mL/gal of SeaChem's "Prime", and Acid Buffer for pH. New water is aerated and temperature matched for about four hours pre-each water change, haven't set up a system for longer term aging of water yet but can certainly do so.  <Your current maintenance sounds plenty adequate.> He still eats readily (flake food and dried Tubifex worms, which he devours), does not appear to be struggling for air or otherwise moving erratically. Even before he showed any of these symptoms, back when he was much smaller and being reared only with the three other fry from his batch, he looked a little different -- he has always had a tinge of green and a much more readily visible lateral line compared to the other swordtails from the batch. All the other swordtails that made it beyond fry stage have survived, with the exception of one female that died a few weeks ago, pregnant, that we deemed to be physically incapable of giving birth. Back when he was a small small fry (looking back over my notes) there was one point where I was afraid he was going to die, acting very lethargic and darty and not swimming straight at all. I added a large amount of "LiquiFry" food and after eating that he seemed to perk back up and seemed okay for several months.  <Quite possibly this is just genetic/developmental, then.> His feces I must admit have appeared nothing but white and stringy for the past month or so, haven't seen anything that looks comparable to that of the other fish in the tank receiving the same food.  <This is disconcerting.... I have to ask, are these Tubifex live? Please do be aware that live Tubifex (and even freeze-dried) can transfer parasites to your fish. If you must use live worms, please instead use Blackworms, which are much less hazardous (though there is still some degree of risk involved with them). Better still are bloodworms or other insect larvae.> This fish (along with the other swordtails in the tank) is the offspring of a pair of swordtails we had months ago -- the father was a fish I was always worried about once we bought him, as he had a very obvious green coloration to him (along with the very visible lateral line) that I at first attributed to illness, then to just genetic makeup giving more of a wild type coloration. <The green could indeed be just coloration - there are plenty of swordtails with prominent lateral striping and green coloration.> Is this a nutritional deficiency? Genetic problem? Velvet?  <I highly doubt velvet.> Is he just sleeping on the heater and baking the color out of him? Any thoughts would be appreciated. We've already mourned his loss a week or two ago when he just looked a little worse than before (that's when I started feeding the Tubifex worms again), but he keeps fighting back and does not look ready to give up the ghost just yet. My apologies for the length of the question, I've just been battering around so many different possible theories for so long and don't want to just leave the guy to waste away. I'm going to try to get some pictures of him, but it's tough to get one where the degradation is clearly visible. It may be what I need to do is add more hiding places (tank has only plants and a large rock), in case the fish are just feeling that the heater is a safe, hidden spot, and burning themselves thusly. Our blood parrot cichlid (in yet another tank) managed to burn herself pretty well a couple years by leaning on the heater, ended up covered in black spots before the problem was fixed with a higher tank temp.  <Please, please consider using guards or wrapping those heaters! They do present a danger to your fish.> Second question, hopefully easier. We bought two clown loaches (2") at the LFS on 5 Nov. After getting them home and placing in the 10g QT tank, it was fairly obvious that one of them had ich. After a lot of reading I decided the thing to do was to get the temperature up (was at 77 deg F, now at 82 deg F, aiming for 85 deg F) and start adding salt to the tank. The QT tank is planted (good sized Java Fern, Amazon Sword almost too big for the tank, plus some floating Wisteria), so I know the salt may not be good for the plants but I can handle plants dying much better than fish doing so. The next day (6 Nov), figuring that the QT tank was already exposed to ich and that the clowns would be happier with more than just two around, we went ahead and got three more that the LFS had from the same tank, also obviously exposed to ich. Maybe that was a stupid move, bringing more ich to the QT tank, but I wanted to try to reduce stress on the clowns by increasing their numbers.  <I must point out that it is almost invariably a bad idea to purchase fish with obvious symptoms of disease....> Also bought some Aquari-Sol (copper sulfate salts) at the same time, but have not dosed any into the tank yet.  <I wouldn't.> By this point, I figure I have added a little over 2 tbsp of salt to a tank with estimated 9 gallons of water, over a couple days.  <You'll need a LOT more than that. Please read this article: .> The loaches are eating well, they've nearly de-snailed the entire tank already. I know I need to find some longer term foods for them, and that they sure won't be living in the 10g any longer than they have to beat the ich. So, my treatment plan is this: Increase tank temperature to 85 deg F and keep it there. Increase salt levels in the tank to some number of teaspoons per gallon (wish I had a way to measure salinity down in the 1.00X ranges).  <A refractometer is really your best bet, here, followed by a hydrometer that measures low levels.... there are at least two brands readily available, of box- swing-arm type hydrometers that do read quite low levels. Just be aware that there is some significant degree of inaccuracy.> Removed carbon from the filter (Whisper 10), added an airstone on a pump for more oxygenation of the warmer water. Replaced the Purigen in the filter with fresh Purigen (~15mL), in hopes that the synthetic beads may be capable of removing some of the encysted or free swimming ich, <Mm, I wouldn't hold my breath on that.> I'm prepared to replace the Purigen every 48hrs or so if that's a valid theory, or just leave as is if not. If there is no obvious improvement in about three days from now, my plan would be to begin dosing the Aquari-Sol at about 50% of the label directions (12 drops per 10 gallons per label, I would add about 5 drops to the tank) and test copper levels frequently, combined with daily water changes to combat ammonia/nitrite buildup from loss of nitrifying bacteria.  <Try to avoid the copper if at all possible.... Salt and heat alone should affect a cure.> My hope is the plants may help with some of the excreted ammonia if the salt/copper/heat do not completely hose their metabolism. I've used SeaChem's "Flourish Excel" in the past in the tank to provide more available carbon to the plants, have stopped for now to deal with ich but can continue if increased plant respiration would be indicated. I'm even considering eyedroppering in a little bit of 22ppm colloidal silver.  <I wouldn't.> Is this a reasonable treatment plan? I've seen people say copper salts work great with loaches at low doses for ich, but I've seen just as many say not to ever use copper with loaches.  <I am more of the latter batch of folks - though have used copper in the past with success. I am much more a proponent of salt in this case.... Less harmful to the animals.> Are my salt levels within an order of magnitude of what could be expected to help?  <Not yet.> Is it pointless to try to treat with simply heat + salt, and instead I should be getting the minimal dose Aquari-Sol in there ASAP?  <Mm, as above, heat and salt WILL work, at the proper levels.... you'll get there, no worries!> I've purchased a copper test kit and verified no free copper in the tank at this time, so I should be capable of maintaining an appropriate level of copper if it comes to that. I really appreciate the time taken to read and consider these issues. -Brian Pardy <And thank you for your kind words. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Loaches, Ich, Salt, and Copper - II - 11/11/2005 Hi Sabrina, thanks for your reply concerning our swordtail and loaches. To answer some of your specific questions: "<This is disconcerting.... I have to ask, are these Tubifex live? Please do be aware that live Tubifex (and even freeze-dried) can transfer parasites to your fish.  If you must use live worms, please instead use Blackworms, which are much less hazardous (though there is still some degree of risk involved with them). Better still are bloodworms or other insect larvae.>" They are freeze-dried Tubifex, and honestly they're probably pretty old and lacking in nutrition. I just started feeding the Tubifex to him/that tank a week or so ago, long after he was already displaying those symptoms when I was thinking he could have a nutritional deficiency from relying too much on flake food. We do have bloodworms in huge quantities for the cichlid, I've been hesitant to give them to the swordtails as I recall their father (sire?) seemed to get constipated from them before, and I usually ended up feeding peas afterwards. <<I would perhaps in this case try to find "glassworms".... also an insect larvae, it is my opinion that these are safer than Tubifex.>> I will absolutely be looking into a heater guard, I hadn't heard such devices existed before.  <<Umm, let's see.... Ah! Here: http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/category.xml?pcid1=3231;category_id=2913  .>> Let me also correct what I said in my original mail, our cichlid managed to burn herself a couple years AGO, not FOR a couple years...  <<Heh! I gotcha.>> I'll add that in the past two days, since adding the bubbler near the heater, this swordtail's feces have appeared significantly more normal, to where he's actually passing something that looks the right color. Hooray, green poop! <<Too much Kool-Aid. Why is it that, no matter WHAT color Kool-Aid I drink, it always makes my poo green? Another of the world's great mysteries....>> "<I must point out that it is almost invariably a bad idea to purchase fish with obvious symptoms of disease....>" I know.  We didn't know enough about them at first, purchased two, and then had pretty much already decided they would be more comfortable with more clowns before realizing they had ich. Understanding that I had to treat the tank anyway, I figured adding more would reduce stress on the two already in the tank. I know I'm not going to get anybody on WWM to tell me that was a good idea, it probably wasn't.  Unfortunately the LFS is moving from one building to another, and we let ourselves get sucked into buying fish on sale at a time when they probably weren't paying enough attention to their health. But then, these loaches were in a 40g long tank at the shop that we've already paid for and will pick up once the other fish in it have moved, could take forever with ich-laden fish in the tank. If nothing else I know that tank needs to dry out and get scrubbed down real well once it comes home.  <<Can use diluted bleach, or vinegar.... Also, be certain to discard any substrate or decor that was in the tank at the store.>> At least I got a nice Emperor 400 @ 50% off for future tanks. <<Sweet!>> "By this point, I figure I have added a little over 2 tbsp of salt to a tank with estimated 9 gallons of water, over a couple days." <You'll need a LOT more than that. Please read this article: .> Thanks for that pointer. There are so many different takes on the issue online, it's nice to be directed to a particular one. I'm going to continue to slowly increase my salt concentrations and continue frequent water changes. I found an "Instant Ocean" hydrometer that I should be able to use to monitor my salinity levels, and the propane heater in the room helps me to maintain elevated temperature.  <<If of the "swing arm" type, it will likely not be very accurate, and is not the best way to go when trying to measure very low levels of specific gravity.  A lab-grade float hydrometer would be MUCH better, not much more expensive.  MH>> <<Excellent.>> I'd really like to avoid using copper.  <<Agreed. Think very long and very hard before you resort to copper, and know that ANY porous material (substrate, decor, etc.) will be rendered useless to you if ever you wish to keep invertebrates, including shrimp.>> <<Mmm.. not quite, please see "Live Rock and Copper Help" just below.  MH>> <<<Article mentioned above was on the dailies....  to find it now, enter those words in our Google search bar.  -SCF>>> I appreciate your response, Sabrina, and those of all the other WWM Crew, to my and others' questions. What you're doing here really does help keep fish alive and happy. <<Your kind words are of great value to us.... Thank you very, very much.>> -Brian <<Wishing you well, -Sabrina>>

Dojo Loach Lump   2/7/06 I have two dojo loaches, i bought them both at the same  time but one of them developed a lump on his side. <Have seen this/these more and more...> He has a hard time swimming  and he won't eat unless i put the food right in front of his mouth, he mostly  lays on his other side with his head in the air. The other one seems fine. He  has been like this for a while and it hasn't killed him but he doesn't seem very  happy. Do you have any suggestions of what this may be and how i can get rid of  it? <You might try the inexpensive use of Epsom Salt here (covered on WWM), but am not of a positive notion here... I suspect the origin/s of these lumps are developmental... exposure to poor water quality of some sort... tumorous in nature... and the fish either have and perish or not. Bob Fenner> Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/9/06 Hi- <Hello there> I bought six clown loaches this past fall (lost one right away but still have 5).  For the first few months they were very visible in the tank and quite active; even clicking excitedly over their algae chips. <Ah, yes> But for the past few months, they spend almost all of their time hiding behind a few pieces of slate that I have in the tank.  Nothing has changed in the tank  - not inhabitants or decor or plants (or outside the tank for that matter). Except that I did have 4 Rosy Barbs when I brought them home.  I'm down to one now so I'm wondering if a lack of dither fish could be the problem? <Yes, could be... or perhaps whatever led to their loss> The one Rosy doesn't seem to be as active as he was either.  The Corys and Gouramis behave the same and in fact the Gouramis may be more active than they were.  The loaches don't have visible signs of Ich but could a behavior change be a symptom? <Yes, but you would see the spots... and quickly> I'm especially wondering about the dither fish because I don't really want any more fish in the tank but I would get small active fish if you think that could be the problem. Thanks for all your help solving puzzling fish problems! Holli <I would be changing more water, more frequently, checking your temperature, water quality... to suit these fishes. Bob Fenner> Re: Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/10/06 Thanks for the speedy reply.  Actually after I lost the Rosies, I increased my water changes to at least 90% once a week.   <This is too much at one time...> Sometimes twice.  My water is too hard but it was hard for the first few months too. I'll try the dither fish and see how they like that. Holli <Real good. 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, ( kinda 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>

Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Just wanted to update you on the Clown Loach situation. Unfortunately he passed away sometime last night. I found him on his side, not breathing, and the color in his stripes slowly fading. Checked the chemistry of the tank and all seems fine...,(within required levels). Not sure as to what or why he ended up this way, but as soon as I can find some more I will try again.... (of course after doing a little more research/reading). Thank you once again for the help. <Ahh, sorry to hear of your loss... this does happen with Clown Loaches at times... unfortunately. Less when they're in a group... and ones kept for months tend to live for years... sometimes many. My thoughts are with you. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, John R. Aulgur

Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Jeff I concur. The Clown loaches do rest at odd angles, sometimes on their backs or upside down! This is perfectly normal. So is the appearance of heavy breathing. I've had three loaches for quite some time and they have always exhibited this behavior. Bob's right about getting more, the loaches love to school and chase each other around all day long. We started with one and he was pretty sedentary until we added another. Our single loach would hide in a small flower pot almost constantly until we got another. He's now grown from 1.5 inches to over six inches, so its impossible for him/her to fit through the opening now. <Ah, as good a response as I had hoped for> As far as the platys, we have platys with our loaches as well and they seem to fall ill after 6 months to a year and gradually darken, start breathing hard and then die. No other fish in this tank seem affected. Various attempts at treatments including salt and antibiotics in quarantine tanks have failed to help. I have noticed that the pH can hasten this. A pH drop to below 6.8 for more than a couple of weeks will generally result in a fatality or two. Since you are keeping plants, your pH is probably near neutral or slightly acidic. This might be something to look into. <Thank you Jeff. See you soon. Bob Fenner/Dogfish>

Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Jeff Thank you for you quick response. Really helped to have someone who is more knowledgeable put my mind at easy quickly. Once again, thank you for your help and quick response. Sincerely, John R. Aulgur <A pleasure. And you did receive the response from Jeff? I cut/pasted it below. Bob Fenner>

Sick clown loach Hi I have two clown loaches in my aquarium for the last 2 weeks. Today I found him lying on the bottom of the tank and the colour in his stripes are slowly fading. I know clown loaches are prone to lying on the bottom of the tank looking dead but it is the fading colour that is worrying me. Do you have any idea what may be wrong with my loach?? <Very very likely nothing is wrong at all... Clown Loaches are notorious/well-known for both their brilliant, delightful coloring, markings AND clown-like behavior... Do check your water quality, perhaps offer some favorite food (like blood worms, tubificids...) and don't worry. If the other loach looks fine, and neither have symptoms of outright disease, they're likely fine. Am sending your note to our resident loach-man, Jeff, for his input. Bob Fenner> Thanks Lisa

Re: sick clown loach Hi Robert My clown loach died today however the other one is still healthy and swimming around normally so hopefully it will stay healthy. The one that died seemed to be smaller and had lost weight since we bought it. Lisa <Sorry to read of your loss. Have witnessed these mortalities in newly acquired Clown Loaches... consider that "something", likely parasitic or infectious, is wrong internally... not catching in most all cases. Bob Fenner>

Clown Loach Question About two months ago I purchased a large (4-5") Clown Loach to add to my 72 gal bowfront aquarium. About 2-3 weeks ago he developed black spots over his body?  <Don't know, does it?> None of the other fish (5 Gouramis/5 Corys/1 pictus cat/2 balas) developed black spots. All the fish, including the loach continue to eat fine (dry flakes/fresh worms).  <I see> The water is clear, the ammonia and nitrate are basically nil. The water is 6.7ph. I do about 15% water changes every two weeks and vacuum the bottom. The live plants are not only doing well, I have a great crop of baby plants coming up.  <Sounds good> But I have a black spotted clown loach? The spots do not look like any type of parasite. Once in a while the loach will rub against some sandstone rocks, but its very infrequent (almost only for a couple of days after I change the water)?  <Nothing to worry about in my estimation. This fish species does "scratch" quite a bit... and I've seen these "melanin" markings in them as well> So are the black spots dangerous to the other fish? Is there anything I should do?  <Enjoy your fish/es... Perhaps get it a pal... they are social animals... maybe a nice "castle" or other dark hiding, fun place for it to hang... Bob Fenner> I appreciate any information you can provide me. Thanks - Mark Corrinet.

Re: Clown Loach Question Thanks for the assistance. Your prior advise on the lighting for the tank worked very well also. My 5 year old son loves the tank.  <Ah, good> I am relieved that the clown is ok. I want to purchase him some friends, but large clown loaches are rare on the coast were I live and I have had a standing order for two more. So hopefully he will have more friends soon. There are lots of hiding places for him so that's not a problem.  <Small companions would be fine here as well... and do grow quite quickly> One other question. I want to add more fish to the tank, but anything small dies a rather sad death due to the pictus cat (4-5") (as I found out to late with ten neon tetras) and anything gentle like mollies or similar get stomped on by the Gouramis. They beat my beta almost to death before I saved him and moved him to another tank (bad reason, but I did get another aquarium out of it).  I don't particularly like cichlids. Is there anything else I could add that you might suggest? <Many things. Please consider the many Barbs, larger Danios... maybe even a freshwater "Shark". Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm> Also could I add one of those green puffer fish? Can they live in non-brackish water?  I know the puffers can nip fins (probably serve the Gouramis right), I would say it would be even money if the puffer can hold his own. (the Gouramis are one of the big blues, a white/gold color and three small grey blues.  <I don't recommend a freshwater or more brackish water Puffer for your system... too much trouble, possible aggression. Stick with more easygoing, hardier species here> Thanks for your continued kindness and information. Take care - Mark. <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Ich & Loaches I have one clown loach, two platys, and one African butterfly in my 10 gallon hex tank. I am new at this and just learning the ropes. I now have ick in the tank and am trying to find out what to do about it. I have used ick guard but am concerned as i continue reading that this may not be good for the loach. Please help on what to do?? I have a friend with the quick cure and she is recommending that for treatment. Any advice would be wonderful. N <You should be able to treat with the Ick Guard but only use ½ of the recommended dosage. Ronni>

Clown Loach with Distended Stomach (05/29/03) <Hi! Ananda here this morning...> One of my clown loaches, "he's" only about 2.5" so still young, suddenly developed a heavily distended belly.  The fish is otherwise healthy and has been, swimming around, eating voraciously.  I did drop a pea in the tank earlier in the day. <One of my clown loaches got rather bloated-looking once. I tried peas, but they weren't interested. I did some reading and found that it might have been their diet of mostly dry (and freeze-dried) foods. I took my bloated clown loach and put him in a hospital tank with one teaspoon of Epsom salts per five gallons of tank water. The next two days, I added another teaspoon each day, so I had a tablespoon of the Epsom salts per five gallons of tank water. I then fed the clown loach treats like frozen/thawed bloodworms, live blackworms, and even a few Mysis shrimp. In about a week, my clown loach looked like his more slender self. I did do a daily 5%-10% water change, adding back enough Epsom salt to keep the level up.> But I also removed another clown loach from the tank that hadn't eaten in at least a week or two, and was "wasting away". <What are you feeding them?> All other parameters in the 30G tank are fine: ammo, nitrite, nitrate all at 0.  UV sterilizer running fine.  Other mates are 3 male rainbows not quite full grown, 6 cardinal tetras, 3 albino pristellas, a Rubbernose pleco and two baby dwarf Bristlenose (both under 2"). <Hmmmm. Depending on what kind of rainbows you have, I think you are either pushing the limits  or passing them on stocking this tank.> Any idea what is with my clown loach's tummy and if I should be worried? <If it isn't just bloat, it may be parasites. If that's the case, I'd suggest Metronidazole, at half dosage for double the duration.> Or did he just swallow half of the pea (it broke in half upon entering the tank) and it is showing (seems unlikely to me)? <If the swelling is visible for more than a few hours, it's not just an undigested pea... --Ananda >

Re: Clown Loach with Distended Stomach (05/30/03) <Ananda here again> Thanks.  I think it was something "he" ate!  Looks fine now (and did yesterday too).  Probably, he can't believe he ate the WHOLE THING! <In other words, "Clown loach go >burp!<" ...  Thanks for following up with the good news... --Ananda>

Black Spots <Hello! Ryan here> I was researching your site but I couldn't find much on Black Spot on clown loaches. I had just transfer my clown loaches to a new 55 gallon, that was set up for 8 months. Few days later so far what I can see 2 of them developed black spots on their bodies and fins. Please help, I heard that loaches are very sensitive to medications because they don't have scales. Any recommendations? This is already 3 days later, hope I don't loose them. Thank you, hope to hear from you soon. Iveta . <1 drop per 2 gallons of Maracide should be fine.  This can be increased to 1 drop per gallon if needed.  Please do this in a quarantine to be safe.  Clown loaches can be on the sensitive side- so add the Maracide gradually.  It's the sudden change in aquarium conditions that are deadly.  Best of luck! Ryan>

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

Skunk loaches (10/10/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank, established.  I have to dwarf gouramis, two zebra Danios, one common Plec, one red tail black shark (just added) and (now) one 1" skunk loach.   <The skunk loach, Botia morleti, gets to be 4" long; the shark, Epalzeorhynchos bicolor, gets to almost 5". Hopefully you will have larger quarters for them in the future.> I had two skunk loaches (same size), however, the shark had an ick spot. I treated the tank with 1/2 strength Quik Cure. About 12 hours after the initial treatment, one of my skunk loaches was hanging on top of my heater (I have a submersible). He looked injured on one side right in the gill area, from about his eye back across the gill. I want to know if this is a result of the treatment or did the shark injure him. <My bets are on the shark -- or perhaps the other skunk loach! This is one of the more aggressive loaches, and with only 10 gallons, that's not a lot of room for them to stake out their territories. Half-strength Quick Cure *should* be okay for loaches, and would not have caused a visible exterior injury.> The other loach is fine. I put him in a brood net in the tank as I don't have a hospital tank. But, he died within 12 hours. <Presumably, you mean the injured loach was in the brood net...without a photo of the injury, it's difficult for me to say what caused it.> I will be upgrading to a bigger tank, 30 gal, in about a week.  I also have a 30 gal already established and fully stocked.  I would appreciate any advice for these loaches.   Thanks, Donna <Well, they definitely need the space of the 30g tank. Depending on what fish you have in the other 30g, you might consider moving the loach or the shark. Unlike many loaches, which prefer to be in groups, as an adult this loach prefers to be by itself. More on these guys here: http://loaches.com/species_pages/botia_morleti.html ... By the way...you do plan on keeping the 10 gallon for a hospital tank, right? :-)  --Ananda>

Treating clown loaches for Ich (10/14/03) <Hi! Ananda the clown loach nut here tonight...> After a 35% water change, my 5 clown loaches developed ick.   <Uh-oh.> No fish had been added to my tank in months so I'm pretty sure it was caused by the water change. I use Reverse Osmosis water and there is no control of temperature.   <Yep, that'll do it. You need to get a container big enough to hold all your water-change water and get a heater for it.> I introduce it a gallon every  30 to 45 min.s or so so the tank has a chance to heat keep up.   <The initial temperature shock is enough to trigger the ich.> ANYWAY, after the loaches developed ick, I tried Ick Away for several days (with charcoal filters removed and temperature up to 82) which did nothing to help. <Argh. I have yet to hear anything good about "Ick Away".> I then went to CopperSafe before leaving for the weekend.   <Never use copper with loaches! They're just too susceptible to it.> When I returned, 3 of the 5 were dead and the other 2 were covered in Ick.  Within a couple hours, they died too.   <Sorry to hear that... hopefully you've done another water change to take care of the probable ammonia and nitrate spike?> None of my other fish have ick.   <Clown loaches are ich magnets, so I'm not surprised to hear they got it bad but nothing else did...> My tank is a 30 gallon with an Emperor 400.   <That's what I use on my 30 gallon tank. But...with copper added to the tank, the bio-wheels have been sterilized and are going to be ineffective until the tank re-cycles. You're going to have to do more frequent water changes for a while. Your other option is to get some Bio-Spira, which must be refrigerated until you use it, as it contains live nitrifying bacteria.> Fish are 3 Rummy Nose Tetras, 2 Corys, 2 Rosey Reds, 3 Red Platy's, 3 Black Molly's, and  3 Otocinclus. <You're almost at the maximum fish capacity this tank can hold. With the loaches, I would characterize that tank as overcrowded. I keep my loaches in a 55 gallon tank -- they're still fairly small, about 3" long -- with the knowledge that they're going to need at least a 90 gallon tank in a couple of years.>   What is the BEST way to cure Clown Loaches of ICK.   <Many people use their ich medication of choice at half-strength, for twice as long as is generally recommended. That, and they crank the tank temp up. Personally, I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to my clown loaches. I've used "FW Ecolibrium" when they had ich -- it's more expensive than most ich meds, but it's completely safe for scaleless fish. I have a couple of bottles around, though I've been able to avoid ich since the first time they got it by carefully matching new water to tank water for water changes and by quarantining any new fish that get added to their tank. I got the Ecolibrium through Drs. Foster & Smith (they're a WetWebMedia sponsor, so you can get to their web site from the banner at the top of the Daily FAQ page).> And while I'm at it, what's the best way to cure most fish of ICK?   <Increased temperature: 86 degrees or higher for 10 days. And salt -- "freshwater" salt, not marine salt, since you don't want to change the pH. Your mollies and platies won't mind salt at all (mollies actually prefer some salt in the water). The rest of your fish should be able to tolerate a bit of it for a while. The level you need is 2 ppt salinity, which generally works out to a specific gravity of 1.002-1.003. Get the Aquarium Systems SeaTest hydrometer to check the specific gravity (it's the only one that measures low levels, except for the glass thermometer/hydrometers -- which are pretty easy to break). You'll need to find a temp. vs. s.g. chart to convert the actual s.g., since the SeaTest is calibrated for 76 degrees and your tank will probably have a higher temperature than that.> I've been searching the web high and low and I've seen nothing definite on the cure for ICK that seems to work. <One person's experiences with ich and her clown loaches: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=3&thread=11808 > Thanks for a great website. <You're welcome -- check out our forums, too!> -Mike P.s.  GO CUBS!!!!! <Ah, they lost tonight. :-( Maybe tomorrow night... --Ananda>

Re: Ich on clown loaches (10/16/03) Ananda, thanks for the great info.   <You're welcome!> I'll check out Drs. Foster & Smith for proper medication (by the way, their catalog is almost a quick guide to proper fish and tank care.  It's indispensable.)   <I use it a lot, too, but more for finding out which things are supposed to do what! But do compare their information to others' -- you may find that a phrase can be misinterpreted, or someone else's version may make more sense, etc.> My LFS told me that CopperSafe was the *BEST* way to cure ick for Loaches.   <Ack! Sounds like someone was seriously mis-informed....> I prefer the method of Sea Salt and raised temperatures to any medication.  Not because of the cost, but because I hate adding any chemicals.  Is there a salt level/temp setting I can use all the time that would be preventative against ick?   <Hmmm. Any increased temperature for long periods is going to speed the metabolism of the fish as well as any parasites -- and speeding the fishes' metabolism will shorten their lifespan.> Just curious.  Or after the 10 days at 86 degrees should I just bring it back down to 78? <That would be my recommendation.> Thanks again for the help and a big thank you to the team for such an informative website.   -Mike <Thanks for the kind words. --Ananda> P.s.  Go CUBS - Game 7!  :) <*grumble* There were no fireworks in Chi-town last night....>

Dead clown loach - 'skinny disease', or worms? me again.... <Sabrina, here> answers to your questions....I do a 20%-30% water change once a month...ph 6.6, no ammonia, no nitrites, <Excellent.> I feed them a variety of things...zooplankton, Tubifex worms, <Tubifex - live, frozen, or freeze-dried?  Live Tubifex are pretty well known for their tendency to transmit disease; probably not the best option....> shrimp pellets, tropical flake food, gammarus...frozen shrimp....a good mix of things I thought. <Yes.> Like I said in my previous email...everyone seems to think it was skinny disease....a parasite that they say can be in the loach already and 6 months to a year or more kill them.... <I've found some conflicting information on this - some sources say 'skinny disease' is a bacteria, as Jason said previously, and some say it's a Microsporidean - a protozoan parasite - and is difficult to treat.  However....  As I read this, I'm rather certain that, whichever way it is, you're not looking at this 'skinny disease', but at an internal large-type parasite (rather than a protozoa or a bacteria), like nematodes.  This is common in wild fish.> because they come from the wild....I had read that you can treat  prophylactically with Levamisole hydrochloride to keep this from happening...but did not find out where to get it or how much..... is this true? <I would agree with this advice - Levamisole or Piperazine are the route to take for internal wormies.  Look into "Discomed" or, if you can find it, "Dewormer", both by Aquatronics.  The former is administered via food, and contains Levamisole.  The former is already *in* food, and contains Piperazine.  Either route should do the trick.> You had mentioned medicated pellets with erythromycin....I have medicated pellets but it is tetracycline...for bacteria...would that be sufficient if this happens again? <I'm rather convinced that you're dealing with a parasite, not a bacteria.  I'd suggest, if you're considering getting in more wild-caught fish, first and foremost set up a quarantine tank so you can nail illnesses before they get into the main system.  Secondly, keep good antibacterial meds on hand, as well as anthelminthic (worm killin') meds on hand.  Medicated food is probably the best route.> In regards to that, I read that loaches with skinny disease do not always eat and by feeding with the pellets it might do more harm than good by damaging bacteria in filter and gravel... throwing ammonia and nitrites up therefore hurting other fish........ <Unlikely.  If the loaches don't eat the food, the other fish will, most likely.  I don't see much likelihood at all of causing harm to the tank going this route.> Sorry so many questions... <Don't apologies - it's totally understandable.> I always find conflicting info on the net....& never know what to believe.... <Conflicting info - yes, indeed.  And there are many ways to skin a cat - and everyone you talk to will give you a different way.  -Sabrina> any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance,  Monica     

Skinny-wormy-loach follow-up I feed freeze dried Tubifex. <Great.> Thanks for all of the info. <You betcha.  -Sabrina> Monica

Clown loaches 'n' columnaris Hi - I purchased 3 clown loaches about 3 or 4 weeks ago. They've seemed fine until about 3 days ago.  1 of them has white around his mouth. Could it be cotton mouth?  How would I treat this?   <This sounds like columnaris (mouth fungus, mouth rot, other names).  I would treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic like Oxytetracycline, preferably in a medicated food, if possible.> I had something similar about a year ago that started with a Dojo and 14 of my 19 fish perished.  I treated it with Penicillin upon advice from a local fish store.  I have a 29 gal tank. Testing yesterday showed everything was fine. <What were your test results?  Usually this bacterial illness is brought on by high nitrates, perhaps a pH other than what the fish prefer, low oxygen concentrations, etc.> Thanks SG <Wishing your fish a swift recovery,  -Sabrina>

Sick Kuhli Loaches  Thank you for considering my question. I actually have two which are related.  1) My local pet store used to be able to get healthy Kuhli Loaches all the time. In recent years (no matter the source) they arrive sick and the whole lot of them die. The symptoms are reddish gill area, then swirling, then they die. Any recommendations. We would love to be able to get some "new stock" in our area.  2) This is my main question, the first is background for what knowledge I do have. This morning I discovered one of my Kuhli Loaches is pinkish around the gill area. I have had my Kuhlis for quite a long time and have not introduced any new fish for - 6 weeks. What is my best bet for treatment? I don't want him to follow the same fate as those at our pet store.  <<Hello. Kuhli loaches are a problem lately in most stores. The stock is just not healthy anymore, and they seem particularly prone to bacterial infections and gill flukes. Stores can treat them with antibiotics, and if lucky, some may survive. Strong antibiotics will kill your nitrifying bacteria, though, so be careful! For you, I would recommend Melafix and salt (a teaspoon per gallon). Or you can try to find yourself some Maracyn Two, which is a safer antibiotic to use since it's relatively gentle, and not as much of a threat to your nitrifying bacteria when used as directed.  To prevent further Kuhli problems in your tank, maintain good water quality and do regular gravel cleaning. This will help keep the nasty bacteria levels in your substrate under control, which promote infections, and prevent anoxic areas from developing underneath your decorations and rocks. It's hard to vacuum using a regular siphon, since cutting your Kuhlis in half with the tube is always a possibility, so what I recommend is that move the decorations around, and you "sift" the gravel with your hands regularly to release the debris, and let your filter remove it. Make sure you have good water circulation, so the suspended debris is removed by your filter. If need be, you can add a powerhead to your tank for circulating the dirty water during this cleaning process. Then clean your filter floss and do a water change about an hour later.  Also, if you happen to see the solid black Kuhli loaches for sale, buy them instead. They are (thus far) much hardier, easier to keep, and just as entertaining. -Gwen>>

YoYo Loach Question Hi there, I have a yo yo loach that I've had for about 6 months and he/she seems to be getting extremely thin and very sluggish.  It still eats and swims around, but more often now I see it hiding with my Kuhli loaches.  Any idea what illness my poor loach might have? Thanks, Jackie <<Dear Jackie; First you need to test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. The first two should be zero, and the nitrate level should be kept between 20-60ppm. Higher readings will require multiple back-to-back water changes to lower it. Once you have determined the state of your water, you can add medication. Meds are not going to be too effective if the reason the fish got sick was due to water quality, which, left unremedied, will simply hinder the cure. At any rate, the most logical culprit is an internal parasite. Your LFS should carry a medication with Metronidazole as an ingredient, ask them for it. Follow the instructions to the letter, and hopefully things will improve. And keep testing your water :) -Gwen>> Sick Botia angelicus Hi Bob - <Hi Sherri, MacL here with you this morning> I purchased 2 Botia Angelicus from my LFS on 8/7/04.  I put them in my 40 gal tank that also has a few clown loaches, a dojo, a yoyo, swordtail and a couple of angelfish.  One of the Botia's has done just great.  The other, however, seems to be wasting away.  He doesn't seem to be interested in food, he just sort of swims around during feeding time and ignores it.  I moved him to a 2 gal hosp tank about 3 days ago, but am not sure what to do with him.  He has no outward signs of any diseases, but I'm afraid he'll die soon if he doesn't eat. I can now see the outline of his bones.  Any suggestions? <Is he being out competed for food with the clown loaches?  Are you feeding him some type of pellet that drops to the ground. The problem with medicating him is that we aren't seeing anything in particular to medicate. We don't know if he's got parasites or if he has some type of bacterial infection going on. My best guess might be to try Melafix in your hospital tank and see if that help. Good luck Sherri and keep me posted. Look for signs of anything on him. MacL > Thx, Sherri Re: Sick Botia angelicus I don't believe it was a food competition. I feed plenty of bottom dweller type pellets and the tank is big enough that there is always an empty corner at feeding time.  I do have some Pimafix...would that suffice?  Or should I buy the Melafix?  I'm not sure what the difference is offhand. Even in isolation, he doesn't appear to be interested in food.  I've even got a piece of zucchini in there and he really hasn't touched it. < Go to loaches.com and make sure that we are talking about the same fish. There are some slight differences in maintenance for each species so a good identification is a good place to start. Your fish may have collected in the wild. Either way I would offer some live Tubifex( California black worms)  as an enticement to eat. If he doesn't eat then we have to assume that there are internal problems. Metronidazole will kill internal anaerobic bacteria so I would start there first. There are foods that will take care of internal worms but they must first be consumed by the fish to be effective. Treat with the Metronidazole then after your fish has regained his strength treat with Pepso medicated food.-Chuck> I really appreciate your assistance! Sherri

HLLE on Clown Loach Greetings, all. I have a 180 gal FW tank. <!> I keep it at about 80F. I have two 13 year old clown loaches <!!>(8+ inches) and two smaller ones (3-4 inches). I also have 9 ghost catfish, 1 black skirt tetra, three hatchetfish and two large-ish Plecos. <!!!> I wrote awhile back about one of the smaller loaches having nibbled fins. Now, I notice that one of the larger clowns (the largest, in fact) has three, almost regularly-spaced craters or lesions (bites?) on his dorsum, just behind the "head". They do not look infected, and he still eats voraciously. The tank is very clean, with bio-ball sump-based filtration and a 40W UV light. 40 gallon water changes weekly.  Could this be hole in head? No white/slimy fecal matter and he acts healthy. The marks are in a row, all inside one of his dark stripes. <It does not sound like the few fish I have seen with hole in the head (HLLE) but it sure is possible. The fact that the holes are "clean" and in a row makes me think it is not HLLE. Although not directly fatal, it can lead to secondary infections that are. Watch for redness or a white pus. I found a good link for you to read up on. See:  http://www.masla.com/fish/hlle.html. BTW Great job on keeping your fish! 180 gallons and a rather light bio load! Big fish in there though. Make sure you check the nitrates and try to keep them below 20ppm. Don> Thanks! <No, Thank YOU!> Tom <Don>

Lumpy weather loach Hi, Wonder if you can help, no one else seems to be able. I have a weather loach who is about 3  yrs old. he developed a lump near his rear end months   ago which split the skin, the lump seemed to go down after treating him for bacteria (as the skin had come inflamed). Since then the lump seems to go bigger   then shrink. Over the last weeks he has developed lots of lumps and has started  to raise his rear as though it is full of air. I know this might be daft but I  had an Oranda that did similar and she had constipation, could it be this. I  have tried peas and spinach with the loach just in case, but he doesn't like it  much. Is it safe to use Epsom salts on weather loaches as I am a bit worried  about medicating as they are quite sensitive because they lack scales. He (I  think actually he may be a she) is swimming and eating as though nothing is  wrong and shows no illness besides a very swollen stomach/anal area and lots of  stretch marks. Any help would be much appreciated. The loach is in a 180litre  cold water tank with several goldfish comets Orandas and best friend another  larger weather loach. water testing showed tank as it should be and no other  sign of disease in fish. < Sounds like an internal bacterial infection caused by stress and the wrong kind of food. Isolate the fish and treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck> Thanks in anticipation of any help. Kind Regards Tricia

Sleeping Loaches Hi there, and thank you in advance for sharing your time.  I'm sure you are very busy, and there are others that will need your help more desperately than me at the moment, but if you get time to answer my questions, it would be greatly appreciated. I have searched your website, and have found tons of information, but I'm still a bit in the fog about this. I recently purchased three Botia kubotai loaches, and I have to admit they are the most beautiful, and most fun to watch fish that I own. And I'm trying to educate myself as much as possible on this. I have read and heard of this "skinny disease", and was wondering what exactly should I be looking for? What are the early signs of this disease, and do you, or someone else have pictures of it so I would know exactly what to look for? <The loss of energy and the fish stops feeding. Hence they get skinny> All three of my Kubotai's are very active, and seem to be eating well. One usually stays off to himself, and has a very defined, dark pattern of markings.  The other two will hang out with each other, swimming, playing, and fighting, but both seem to have somewhat of a lighter tint to their markings. Also, when one of them, (can't tell if it's just one or more), is trying to lay down, it will kind of flip over, right side up. Could this be glancing, or is it just not able to get comfortable?  Could this be the beginning of the skinny disease? Or am I just another proud, but paranoid owner? Thank you for your time, Richard <A loach sleeping on it side is a sure sign it will die, within about 20 years! Sorry, but yes, you are a bit paranoid. But that's a good thing when concerning our pets, IMO. It is very common for loaches to sleep this way. Sometimes in a big pile. Scary to see, but normal. As long as they are all active and eating, relax and enjoy them. Great fish! Don>  

Lumpy Loach -- Mycobacterium Infection? -- 01/11/2005 Hi, <Hello!> I have a 75-gallon tank with three 14 year-old clown loaches and two large green kissing fish.   <Must be some pretty large loaches, at that age!  It wouldn't be a terrible idea to try for a larger tank, if possible.> One of the loaches has large lumps all over his body under the skin, appears to be very swollen -- even his eyes appear to be bulging.  He is hiding in the back of the tank and will not come out to eat; he just stays in the same place breathing very rapidly, in an upright position, leaning on tubing.  He has been like this for about a month and I really didn't expect him to be alive this long since I just noticed his illness right before I went out of town.  I assumed that he had an age related problem since a couple of his tank mates have passed on over the past couple of years.  I haven't been able to find out anything about this particular illness.   <To be quite honest, this sounds to me like a very good indication of mycobacteriosis.  The swelling, pop-eye, and lumps/tumors/granulomas are very strong symptoms of this myxosporidian bacterial infection.  It's really quite a good thing that the critter did not die while you were gone -- a dead fish can release literally millions of 'spores' that can infect other fish in the tank!> The nitrates in this tank stay fairly high even with frequent water changes and Poly-filters in the filters.   <Yes....  These are very large fish in a (comparatively) small tank; increased water volume would really be a good idea.> There are no indications (redness, etc) on his outward appearance that would suggest a bacterial or fungal condition.  I would try to treat him in a separate tank if I knew what to try, or at this point would it be better to euthanize him?   <Sadly, mycobacteriosis is essentially incurable.  There is some indication that Kanamycin sulfate may have some effect, but recovery is unlikely, I'm so sorry to say.  Either way, should you choose to medicate or not, definitely remove the fish as soon as possible from the healthy animals -- I can assure you, you do not want this to spread, if that is, in fact, what it is.  Also, PLEASE read the following link, so you can understand what risk this illness might pose to you:  http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-07/sp/feature/index.htm .  Do please understand that without seeing the fish for myself, I cannot guarantee that this is an accurate diagnosis -- but based on the symptoms you describe, it is my best guess.  Gah, I hate being the bearer of bad news.> I appreciate your consideration. Thank you, Karen Chaney <Wishing you and your loach the best,  -Sabrina>

Clown loach FAQ, actually petfish hypochondria Hi, I have a 75 gallon tank with 5 clown loaches (approx. 5 inches long), 2 catfishes, and 2 discus.  After cleaning the filter in my Fluval 304, I noticed 1 of my clownloaches developed partial eye cloudiness in one eye and another clown loach developed what started looking like a small 1mm x 5mm whitish bump turned into a round pimple-like bump. <Good observations> They have a great appetite.   What can I use to treat them? <Mmm, I prescribe nothing... just time going by... the markings are/were due to abrupt chemical changes in your system... not a pathogen... and besides, even mild medications will harm your other fishes> Do they need to be separated in a "sick" tank? <No> You have mentioned for other internal bacteria diseases or infections to use Flagyl, but how much ? <None> Let say I have Flagyl 500 mg tablet form.   <... this material, Metronidazole is quite toxic... kills the kidneys of fishes easily... Do NOT use it in this instance> Would I go by the approximate weight of the fish ?  What is the weight of a 6 inch 15 year old clown loach ?  Can I crush up the Flagyl tablet and dilute it with tank water then soak it in Tubifex worms ?  Will it further harm the rest of the healthy fish or will the antibiotic make the other fishes bigger and healthier ?  I've heard of using Methylene blue approximately 6 drops per gallon on the entire tank.  What is your feelings on this and where would I buy Methylene blue ?  15 years ago, when I bought the tiny little babies, one of them would not eat and was wasting away.  At that time I didn't have my heart and soul invested in them because I just bought them.   So I figured I would experiment.  I had left over amoxicillin (from my sick cat).  If memories serves me correctly, I crushed up a tablet, separated it to approximately 1 mg, dilute it with water, soaked it with Tubifex (the worms died instantly), then fed it to the sick fish, which was in a breeder tank inside the 75 gallon tank.  So the sick wasting fish would accidentally have to suck and antibiotic soaked worm.  A week later, he was swimming with the rest of the fishes.  The rest of the other fishes ate whatever antibiotic soaked worms floated out of the breeder tank.  And they all lived !! 15 years later they are XXL and were healthy until now.  But now I don't want to experiment.  Please advise.  Thank you for your time.   Tammy <Tam... don't fall prey to the "pill" mentality... these are not "safe" to just add... and there is no need to generally add any of them to otherwise well-maintained systems. I would add nothing here. Bob Fenner> Clown Loaches with white spots laying on the bottom of the tank I have a new 90L tank (just over a month old). I have slowly introduced 8 Neon Tetras, 1 Siamese Fighting Fish, 2 Plecostomus, 2 Clown Loaches and a growing snail infestation. <Suspect these last two are related> I am a complete beginner here as this is my first ever tank, I have read some books and many web pages but none seem to answer specifically my question. Please let me explain a little first before asking yourselves. After introducing the Clowns they seemed to hide behind plants and rocks for the most part of the day, I hardly ever saw them. <This is normal behavior... they're new.> This did not worry me as they appeared to be doing their job (the snail population dropped dramatically). The Fighting Fish never seemed to display his colours as he did in the shop, this was solved by adding a mirror to the side of the tank. One day after adding the mirror I noticed a little white spot on one of the loaches on the rare occasions I saw them, by the evening it was covered and the other fish started developing it. By the second day I had added Interpret White Spot Plus No6. Over the next few days the spots diminished on all the fish except the loaches, after the second dose the other fish seemed clear and the loaches if not clear at least diminished. The loaches however are no longer hiding in the back of the tank where I can't see them, they are laying one on top of the other huddled up next to they mirror and barely moving. Every now and then they will dart into the middle of the tank for a few minutes then return and lay still for ages. My question is are they still suffering from the White Spot, are they suffering from something else or is this normal behavior? <Likely just the white spot/ich> Please excuse any ignorance here but I really am beginning to worry about them as it says on many pages white spot can be lethal, while on just as many it says it can be easily cured. Tony Robertson <Ignorance is acceptable... we're here to diminish this... Your fish, indeed your tank "has ich"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm  Re: the medication, did you remove all chemical filtration (e.g. carbon) from your filters? This will remove the med. Did you raise the tank temperature? I would... all the livestock you list can easily tolerate the mid 80's F... but not the ich. Know that the loaches are "ich magnets" (i.e. very susceptible to this parasite), AND sensitive to ich medications... you will want to check the label, what you can re the med... and likely use half doses... Don't add any more livestock for a few weeks till after this problem is solved. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Clown Loaches with white spots laying on the bottom of the tank. Dear Mr. Fenner <Tony> May I say thank you very much for you advice, it has helped to belay my fears quite a bit. <Glad we have helped you> You asked if I had removed the carbon filters, I had as that was an instruction with the white spot medication although I must admit I was unsure as to why I had to do it but my guess matched your reason. You also suggested raising the temperature, this I had not done as the instruction suggested raising it to 26c while I have had my tank at a constant 27c since the second day after installation.  <I might raise it as much as 29C... the rationale: the causative organism (Ichthyophthirius multifilius) cannot tolerate heat as well as its fish hosts> It is now two days since I first wrote and things have improved a great deal with the Clown Loaches. All signs of ich appear to have left all the fish, the loaches (the ones I was worried about the most) seem a tad paler than I recall but they do seem a bit more active. They are not laying on top of one another anymore but rather moving around on the bottom of the tank. I definitely believe they are going to live, which was not my belief a couple of days ago. <Do understand the general life cycle of the protozoan...> I had planned on adding a few more fish later this week but I think now I will wait a week longer. <Yes! At least a few weeks... you may well simply be in "mid cycle"> I'm hoping to add some Angelfish, Red-tailed sharks and some small striped ones I saw in the shop last time I was there but unfortunately don't recall what they were called. I will seek advice from the shop before making any purchases as they did seem very knowledgeable last time. I had been blaming them for the ich in my tank but I now realize and understand that it is extremely common so I'll forgive them, but it won't stop me asking for a discount.  Again let me repeat my thanks as your advice and web pages were deeply appreciated. Tony Robertson <You are welcome. Bob Fenner> 

LOAFING LOACHES Hi Guys, I hope you can shed some light on why my 2 clown loaches have suddenly become very listless with one in particular just lying at the back of the tank. This is a marked change in behaviour as they have been very active for the month since I introduced them to my 200 litre planted tank. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are fine and ph is 7. I do seem to have a bit of an algae problem despite doing weekly water changes and was wondering if the level of dissolved organic compounds may be too high and affecting the loaches adversely. I've since cut the lighting back to 9 hours and am going to reduce the amount of food I've been giving them. Any advice would be appreciated. Regards, Jane < It is not uncommon for loaches to be found occasionally lying on their sides. Many new aquarists become freaked out by their loaches strange behavior but it is normal for them. If they really are sick then look closely for ich. These guys can pick this up in a tank when all the other fish seem unaffected.-Chuck> 

Clown Loach I have 2 loaches, 2 black tipped sharks(?), and have just added 2 Oscars. I only mention all of the above because I do not remember seeing this problem before the Oscars were added. One of my loaches is constantly swimming at the surface with his mouth wide open, never closing it. He is seriously faded and seems to have red cheeks (I know that is silly but really what it looks like). The sharks are very worried about him and so am I. Can you help me? Kim <Sounds like this fish is extremely stressed... by? I would check your water quality... for ammonia and nitrite at least... Has this tank been set-up long? Is it big enough for these fishes? How is it filtered? Is it cycled? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm - scroll down to Environmental Disease and read the Related FAQs files. Bob Fenner>

Dying Weather Loaches Hi, I have a 29 gallon tank and I had a dojo that got sick lost almost all of his tail fin and started to loose scales on the back half of his tail. We thought one of my other fish was eating him so we moved him out of that tank and put him in a 10 gallon. Well the next day we came in and he was dying. He had blood in his front fins and in his whiskers. Not know what was wrong my husband reached it to see if he was already gone, and he gave one final frantic swim and then sank to the bottom of the tank on his back and died. Very upset because JOJO was my favorite fish out of all that I have. I jumped up and went back to the pets store and got 4 more. Now I have 3 left from that 4 and 2 of the 3 look like they have fin rot. Well my husband and I got to looking really close to our tank and found these little worms swimming every where. But they would only come out when the rocks in our tank had been stirred up. We have no clue where they came from, what they are or how to get rid of them. I have read several different articles on your website and I am just not sure which one is right.  Please Help. We have had this tank for about 2 months but all of my fish are at least a 1 year old. (except for the 3 new ones). I don't want to loose any more of my fish. We have moved all of the fish to a 10 gallon and they are quite cramped. I am not sure if the parasite moved with them or not.  We have treated the water with parasite clear and fungus clear. We did that for 2 days and it looks really clear now. So we stirred up the rocks and hear came the worms. What can we do? Thank you for your help. Shannon < To get rid of the worms (which are probably plant leaches) use Fluke-Tabs. To get rid of the tail rot ,which is actually a bacterial infection, you need to do a few things. First change 30% of the water, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If your sand is coarse and abrasive then you may need to change it for a smoother less abrasive material. The rough sand erodes the skin of the fish and then it gets infected. Once the water and the tank are clean you need to treat the tank with Nitrofuranace. This medication may affect the good bacteria that breaks down the fish waste so after treating you may need to add BioSpira from Marineland to get the good bacteria going again.-Chuck> 

Swollen gold dojo I have 2 gold dojo loaches and have a concern about one of them. I have noticed that although they both continue to be active and have no problems eating, one seems to have become thicker than the other and somewhat swollen. Its tail also seems to constantly float upward,  <Not good> it will usually tuck its tail under a plant when resting. I have seen my dojo eliminate waste so I don't think it's constipated. Have any ideas what's going on? Thank you for your time. -Shell <I do hope this is something simple... like an "egg blockage" that will cure itself. If your other livestock can tolerate such, I'd add a level teaspoon of Epsom Salt per ten gallons of actual system water here. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Swollen Golden Dojo a Go Hi, <Hello> I just wanted to say thank you for your advice. I did add the Epsom salt, also gave them some peas. Both Dojo's are doing very well, no more floating tails. Aloha, Shell <Ahh, thank you for this update of your success. A hui ho. Bob Fenner>  

Not so Golden Dojos Hi, <Hello> A week ago, I had 3 golden dojo loaches.  Today, I have 1 left.  I believe they have fin rot as their dorsal fins have progressively disintegrated over the course of the week and then it appears to spread in a lighter colored saddle shape across the back, with swelling and then death.  The first one died, then the second one started with the fin disintegration and when it died, my third one started. <Unusual... and frightening... This sport, species is usually very tough> I am new to aquaria and am not sure how to proceed...do I increase tank temp (currently 80deg), add salt (how much, it's a 150 gallon tank), and/or medicate (with what). <Am (as usual) first curious as to your water quality... and the history of your having these fish...> This is a young community tank, with 6 cichlids, clown loaches, shovelnose cats, peacock eel, clown knife.  Everyone else seems fine and everyone gets along. <Thus far... don't see the species of cichlid posted, but the Clown Knife will get large enough to eat all if the cars are Sorubim lima...>   I have tested pH (7.4-7.8), ammonia (0), nitrite (0), nitrate (40ppm). <The last a bit high... by about twice.> I have done 2 partial water changes of 25% since the onset of the disease, with gravel vacuuming.  My nitrates have not lowered and they are not naturally occurring in the tap water. <Beyond EPA limit for source waters> Any assistance is greatly appreciated, as I really like the Dojos and want to figure out what the management problem is so that I can keep them alive. Thanks, Tara <Mmm, well... from the information you've well-provided, it is not easy to see that the Misgurnis loaches likely had some sort of infectious (though possibly internal parasitic) disease... And they are inappropriate with the Knife and Cats... If you have another tank (with smaller tankmates), you might try some Gold Dojos there... I'd check with your dealer to make sure they had no problem with this "batch", and hold off on others until they've had them on hand for a week or two. Bob Fenner>

Yoyo loaches ok or not? Hi! <Hello there> I stumbled on your website while looking for clues as to why my yoyos are acting the way they are. I bought them about 2 weeks and a half (I got 3), they have always been active, rummaging around, swimming about and everything has been going great. We've even heard them click. <Neat> Today, I'm a little worried, ok a lot worried. They don't look so hot. 2 of them are faded. They all have enlarged stomachs although one especially. It seemed like it happened overnight. I fed them last night and I didn't notice anything strange. I've been feeding my other fish flakes and I have been dropping shrimp pellets and algae wafers depending on the day but I don't think they are eating any of that. I do have snails though. One of them is just laying on the rock, sometimes on his side, sometimes normally and I'll watch him and he'll be on his side and then all of a sudden, he'll just roll over and be "normal" again. <Not uncommon loach behavior> One doesn't look discolored much although he does seem a little plump. He is swimming around doing his thing and the other 2 are just laying there. The 2 that are just laying there also seem to be opening their mouths more than the others. <"When in doubt, do a water change"... Something may be amiss with dissolved oxygen...> I have a 55 gallon community (with angels, tetras, 1 Farlowella) that has been running for about 3 months. My tetras have even spawned twice. The water is fine, ammonia +nitrate levels are good. I'm not sure what's going on but I am freaking out. I read your Q&A and I really don't know about them sleeping? I mean, could that be all there is to it? I sure hope so :( Thank you for reading this and I hope you can help me, Marie <Do keep your eye on them, change ten, twenty percent of the water... Bob Fenner>

Re: yoyo loaches ok or not? I appreciate your reply and I did a 20-30% water change, I do a water change every 7-10 days and check my levels. Still all fine. I do have a bubble wall going so I'm not sure that there is a problem with the oxygen level. <Likely not here> How often to they sleep? For how long? <Sort of like dogs, cats... at different times, night, day... minutes to hours> I love my loaches and I would hate for something to be wrong with them. And again, I really appreciate you emailing me and answering my newbie loach questions :) Marie <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Dojo Loach resuscitation/Heimlich on a fish?? 7/12/05 Hi all at WWM, <Howdy Ter> The strangest thing happened to me yesterday with my Gold Dojo loach, and I just wanted to share it with you guys, and see if you had come across anything like it before! He is my absolute favorite fish, such a character, so yesterday was a total fiasco. <Oh?> I was feeding my small tank (consisting of a female Betta, 2 silvertip tetras, and a Gold Dojo loach, and an Oto) as normal yesterday, when I noticed my Gold Dojo was going after a large broken off chunk of Sinking wafer. He usually nibbles on these things, but today he seems to try to swallow the whole thing. <I get the same way around pizzas> Anyways, as soon as the too big-piece-of-food fit into his mouth, it seemed like trouble. He was chomping wildly at first, and then I noticed his body started convulsing a bit, like I'd never seen him before. I thought he might be choking, but then he swam away fine, like nothing happened. All of a sudden, 2 minutes later, he started darting madly across and up and down the tank, faster and crazier than I had ever seen. He was spiraling out of control, never stopping, unless he hit a rock or the substrate, and then he would land on his back, belly up. He did this a few times, and then went still, belly up on the bottom of the tank, rapidly losing his color. Now I've heard that they go nuts before the weather changes, but this didn't seem like the case, he was doing the same thing as my guppy when he died. So, by now my girlfriend and I are in panic, we reach in to the tank and pull him out by hand, and place him in a cut off Arrowhead jug that I had just filled with tap water and I threw some Bio-Coat in a hurry in hopes of conditioning it. By now he is pretty much unresponsive, limp, but occasionally twitching in my hand. I start doing everything I learned in CPR class, but for a fish!: rubbing his belly back and forth, trying to open up his gills, pinching his throat lightly in hopes I can maybe expel the food. I even tried blowing in to his mouth getting it to open up!!! All this time, he is getting more and more limp, taking maybe one or two breaths. This goes on for maybe about 5 minutes (in my panic I really don't know though) when I had basically given up hope and thought he was dead. He was laying belly up in my hand, totally limp. Then, my girlfriend yells at me to try putting him in the water, so not knowing a better alternative, I put my hand in the jug, and suddenly, I noticed he turned on his side, and he starts breathing!!! Totally to our surprise and unconfirmed relief, he gradually gets upright by himself and keeps on breathing in our quarantine jug. <Yay!> So we keep watch over him for the next hour, and he just lays there still, continually breathing, just resting on the bottom. Little bubbles even occasionally pop out of his gills. We are so ecstatic by now that we cut the bottom out of another jug, poke holes in it and stick it in our main tank as a temporary makeshift sanctuary for him. By the time we put him back in the tank, he has started squirming a bit more. Now, its the next morning, and I see him making his way around the sanctuary jug, swimming up to the surface, and hobbling around. Anyways, I know this is probably just the beginning of the battle, because he must have endured an amazing amount of stress from the whole ordeal and possibly some internal damage from me rubbing his stomach and gills. He seems to be getting more and more energetic, but I put a dose of Melafix into the tank after this happened to stave off any strange infections, and I also had a dose of Bio-Coat and Amquel+ that I put in the day before doing a regular 25% water change. Is there anything else I can do for him during this time?? <Mmm, nothing more I would do> Would aquarium salt be a good addition to help the healing process??? <Actually no... the Tetras and Oto don't "like it"> (and would this be ok for a tank with Tetras, a female Betta, live plants, an Oto, and a couple ghost shrimp??)   This is definitely one of the weirdest things to happen to my fish, so I just wanted to share this experience with you guys and see if you had come across anything like it before! Also if you had any advice as to what else I can do for him, and when I can put him back along with his fellow tankmates. Ill definitely keep a close eye on him for the next couple days. Take care, Terry <I'd return the fish to the main tank... likely better water quality there. Bob Fenner>

Clown Loaches - Diseased, or Clownin' Around? - 08/12/2005 We have had 2 clown loaches in a 240 litre community tank for 8 months. They are in with two small eels (7inch) two angel two gourami and some pleco's. <Some....  How many?> Only two small Plecos have been introduced recently.   <Not much space for several territorial bottom-dwellers....> Over the last 24 - 48 hours one clown loach has stayed at the bottom often falling over on his side, <Can be quite normal....  Try a google search with "clown loach playing dead".> and his colouring have gone very dark (like bruising but all over)?   <Possibly a problem....> The other clown loach is desperately trying to help him but I don't what it is or how to treat him? <First, test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Be certain ammonia and nitrite are always ZERO.  Maintain nitrate at 20ppm or less.  If your water is not within this range, do water changes to correct it.  If all checks out, and you see no other behaviour issues with this fish, all may indeed be quite well.  I would "wait and see" for now, and keep a close eye on the fish.> Please help,  -Karen <Wishing you and your fishes well,  -Sabrina>

Please help my sick dojo  9/29/05 Hi.  I've enjoyed your website for several years.  I have an established 55 gallon freshwater tank with a male and a female dojo loach, 8 Otocinclus, 3 honey Gouramis, 6 black phantom tetras, 4 black neon tetras, and a snail who rode in on one of my plants. <Sounds very nice> My water quality is great, and my fish have been happy and healthy for quite some time, and I have not added anything new to the tank in the last six months.  Unfortunately, something is wrong with my female dojo loach, who I am very attached to.  She has not eaten for three days.  She sits still most of the time, but when she does swim, she lists to one side, sometimes even laying on her right side.  I know other people have reported this as normal behavior, but it is not normal for my fish, and I live in Seattle, where there have been no significant barometric pressure changes. <Ahh!>   After recovering from laying on her side, she writhes around, often pressing her face in the corner of the tank.  There are none of the usual signs of fish disease that I know of.  None of the other fish are affected.  She let me catch her in a net without issue, probably because she is weak from not eating, and maybe she knows I want to help her.  I put her in an established 20 gallon hospital tank with a few grains of aquarium salt, and started her on Maracyn2, because I don't know what else to do.   <This is what I would have done... with the addition of two level teaspoons of Epsom Salt in addition> Could she have swallowed a pebble or something? <Possible, but not likely>   Is something wrong with her swim bladder?   <Most unlikely> I am desperate to help her, and her mate is waiting for her to return to the 55 gallon.  Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your time and efforts. Emily <Do try the Epsom... as a general cathartic this may be your best choice. Dojos do "go into funks" at times, particularly when kept in tropical temperatures... they're cool water animals... I do hope yours rallies. Bob Fenner>

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