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FAQs on Phony Freshwater Medications... there are... several

Related Articles: Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater Diseases, Nutritional Disease, Ich/White Spot Disease, Methylene Blue, Metronidazole/Flagyl, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Malachite Green, Organophosphate Use,

Related FAQs: Freshwater Medications, Quarantine/Treatment Tanks, Treatments, Salt/Use, FW Antibiotic Use, Aquarium Maintenance, Ich/White Spot Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease,

Should've used a real medicine, gasp!

Dead fish after 25% water change. More Melafix deaths    10/1/14
I just found your site and wondering if you can help me. Yesterday I had MelaFix
<Mmm; am decidedly not a fan of this API product... it's a sham, a scam... of no use medically... and implicated in disrupting nitrification, causing troubles>
in my tank so last night I did a 25% water change. Rinsed my filter, vacuumed my gravel and squirted flourish with a syringe on my plants. I have had aquariums for years with no issues and have followed this same procedure. As I was doing the cleaning I had fresh water in my bucket that I had already added Aqua plus and cycle to. I finished the cleaning added a pillow to the filter and refilled the tank with the new treated water. 30 min later the fish started dying.
<Ahh, another non-"Fix" data point>
They looked like they were at the surface gasping for air. I have since lost 11 fish. Some of the remaining ones now have ragged fins or appear to be still struggling. I am not sure what to do now as the procedure I
followed I have done so many times before. This particular tank has been running for four months with no issues and is 37 gallons Also I test my water regularly and the water appeared to be in line even after the water change. Any suggestions what to do next will be appreciated.
<Write API and ask for replacement of your livestock. Am hoping for removal of this worse than placebo. SHAME on the folks that sell this bunk product.
Bob Fenner>

Injured goldfish    9/12/13
I have two Goldfish, we have had them for 6 years next month.  They are in a 30 gallon tank with 2 filters running.
<Good to have redundancy>
 On Monday morning one of our dining room chairs fell back ( less than a foot) and bumped the tank, not too hard but hard enough.  It scared my orange fish so badly.  She started flailing all over the tank so fast ,swimming as fast as she could, slamming into the walls, rocks from the bottom were flying all over the filter lid flew off... it was awful!  It was only for maybe 5 seconds, but seemed like forever.  Right after she went sideway, and belly up.  Slowly but surely she recovered, but her breathing remained extremely high for hours.  She scraped some of her scales and now both of her eyes have a clear bubble on them. 
<Physical damage>
She isn't moving about the tank much and doesn’t seem to be eating, even the other fish doesn’t seem to be eating  I immediately added Melafix
<Worthless... see WWM re>
to the water for her scales, and I hope this was ok to do.  The tank seems to smell really weird now ??
<Yes; the API "tea"... may interrupt nitrification (do check for ammonia, nitrite), poisoning your fish>

 I am having trouble finding info about this eye condition,
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GFEyeTroubleF.htm
 I keep finding bubble eye goldfish with a condition.  Is there anything I can do to help?
<Yes; patience and good care... optimal, stable water quality (change water a few times now to remove the "tea"), and nutrition>
 Does this mean she is blind?
<Doubtful; no>
 I thought I found something about adding Epson Salt to the tank to draw out the liquid??
<Salts can be of use... see Neale's work on WWM re>
 Is there anything I can do to help???
<As stated... I'd have you review as much of what is posted on WWM re GF as possible... You list nothing re foods, feeding, nor water quality... so could only guess here. Read>
 Any info is greatly appreciated.  Thank you so much~
>Welcome, Bob Fenner>

Is it Columnaris? Likely NO3, Melafix poisoning      4/25/13
Hi all, I need your help/reassurance please. I have a 250 litre planted tank with 11 danios, 7 penguin tetras, 6 platys (+handful of fry), 2 Opaline gouramis, 2 gold gouramis, 2 Bristlenose Plecos (juvenile) and an assortment of hitch hiking snails. Yesterday I saw one of the danios had a huge fluffy white patch on its back. Immediately I removed him into a tub and checked the water. After many weeks of pristine water, I found my nitrates were through the roof (red on the api master test kit so between 40-80). Changed 50% of the water, dosed with prime, and MelaFix
<This product can be much more trouble than anything of value. See WWM re>

which was the only medication I had to hand. Poor Danio didn't make it. Today, one of my platys has the same 'fuzz' growing on one eyeball. It completely covers the eye surface. Another 2 danios are behaving strangely, swimming erratically and have 'floppy' torn fins (one seems to tend to use the pectoral fin only on one side and has trouble remaining upright - tends to roll sideways or tail down if she stops moving). I tested the water today and my ph has dropped some (from 7.6 to 7.2 - from meds?),
<Could be... the tea... leaf extract>

 and my nitrates are much better - 10-20). Did a further 25% water change and redosed the MelaFix.  Is this Columnaris? A fungus? Something else?
<Can't tell from the images alone... but you're right to be worried. I'd change the water out again now and tomorrow and leave off w/ the phony API product>

I include a photo of the Danio who died and the platy with the fuzzy eye.
Any help would be massively appreciated.
Thank you in advance!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Great pix!

Re: Question 10/6/11
Have another question for you guys,
What do you guys think of melafix

<... not a fan. Read here: actually; just put the word in WWM's search tool... on every page... and read. B>
my small female has two sores on belly that are from I am guessing an injury from the male they started off red and sore and now they seem to be getting better but still not healing right she didn't seem to want to eat this am which is not like her so I figured I have used melafix in the passed before and put one dose in tank. I can not do a water change because our water is being treated. I am outta of ideas of what todo or what I can do
RE: Question

<Please run your writing through a spell/grammar checker before sending it to us. B>
is one treatment gonna kill the fish?....they tank got a haze in it and I checked the ph it was 7.6 so I put in a ph buffer adjuster and now the tank is so cloudly I cant see anything what should I do?..I was thinking of doing a 25% water change and then just leav the tank and ad back the charcal filter pads

Using Melafix with Oriental Firebellied Toads 9/29/11
I have an Oriental fire bellied toad that has what appears to be an eye infection. The eye itself is slightly cloudy. The lower rim of its eye appears somewhat gooey for lack of a better descriptive. Yesterday it was keeping its eyes closed but today they are open more often than closed.
The tank got a complete tear down and clean up about 10 days ago - no chemicals, everything just rinsed really well. We used bottle spring water
<Mmm, not really suitable depending on make-up... May have too much mineral content or not enough... What is pH, alkalinity? Is this system cycled?>
and not tap.
We have a submersible sponge filter- no carbon. I have been reading the archived answers on your site for other fire bellies with eye problems and it seems that Melafix is the most often suggested treatment.
<Not by me, no>
I have a bottle but no idea how to actually administer it. It seemed from the previous posts that I am to apply the Melafix directly to the eye and not to the water?
Please advise.
Thank you for your time!!
<I'd place nothing here. Your frog will very likely cure on its own w/ the system maturing. I would add a modicum (like half) of tap water to the bottled. Bob Fenner>

Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11
I bought an Angelfish a week or two ago. It seemed fine when I bought it.
The last few days I have noticed it's eyes both look cloudy. They are not bulging or anything. I had my water tested at my local fish shop and they said everything looked good. I am treating my tank with Melafix as I have a Lyretail Swordtail with tail rot. It got it after a bout with Ich.
All of my other fish look fine. The Angelfish does not swim around much and doesn't really seem to be eating much either. The past couple of days he seems to hide more than anything. I have searched the net and not really found any helpful results. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Ray
<Hello Ray. Cloudy eyes that appear overnight usually imply physical damage (especially if just one eye is cloudy) or poor environmental conditions (the usual explanation if both eyes are cloudy). It's absolutely crucial you review the situation here. While it's possible the fish was damaged in transit, be open minded to the idea your tank isn't perfect. Just to recap, a single Angelfish needs at least 75 litres/20 gallons of water, excellent water quality (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite), middling to high water temperature (24-28 C/75-82 C), and very peaceful tankmates. Things like loaches, Otocinclus catfish, and some of the barbs like Tiger Barbs will frighten and/or damage Angelfish and thus make poor tankmates. Because you've got Swordtails, which need cool, hard water (22-24 C/72-75 F; hardness 10+ degrees dH; pH 7.5) it's unlikely you have good conditions for both Swordtails and Angels, so one or other species will likely be stressed.
Review, and act accordingly. Cloudy eyes in cichlids very quickly turns into Pop-eye, and that's difficult to treat. Melafix is a poor medication for situations like this, and I doubt it'll help with Finrot anyway, so not sure I'd bother. Instead, find an antibacterial or antibiotic medication that's safe and reliable. Here in the UK, I usually recommend eSHa 2000, but in other countries you'll have other options. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11
Hey Neale,
Thanks for the quick response. I wish I had found this site and talked to you all before I bought this some what expensive medication.
<Glad to help.>
The gentlemen at my LFS sold this as some sort of miracle drug that will cure about anything from fin rot to tooth decay.
<Uh'¦ no.>
I spoke with him just this morning about the cloudy eyes and he informed me to keep treating with the Melafix.
<I bet.>
He said it would treat the cloudy eyes and prevent Pop-eye.
<Pop-eye is treatable, but accordingly to Bob just requires simply good conditions'¦ see here:
Must admit, that's never been my experience, and you may prefer to get out the Roto-Rooter grade antibiotics.>
Seems I need to find a more reputable fish shop which is kind of hard to do in the area in which I live.
<May well be the case.>
Aside from a couple of small pet shops, about all we have is Wal-Mart and Meijer. I am new to keeping an aquarium so I am still in my learning curve.
I have a 29 gallon tank. In this tank I have Mollies, Platys, Swordtails, Angelfish, a Gold Mystery Snail, an upside down cat and a Striped Raphael in which my LFS said would all do fine in this tank together. So are these not good tank mates for each other?
<Well, kinda-sort. Apple Snails rarely last long in tropical fish tanks period, so accept that chap's disposable and remove at the first sign of death. Both catfish are social species that would be happier in groups, and I'd be very surprised if you see either of them swimming about during the day. But yeah, they're both pretty good species, even if the Raphael gets pretty big and potentially predatory on Neon-sized fish. Synodontis are not beyond nibbling on Angelfish fins. The three livebearers need hard water, which the Angel and the two catfish don't particularly enjoy, and of these fish, the Platies and Swords do prefer cooler water, 22-24 C/72-75 F. So no, they're not an ideal mix, but in moderately hard, slightly basic (10-15 degrees dH, pH 7.5) water kept at, say, 25 C/77 F, I'd expect them to get along okay.>
They all seem to be doing pretty good aside from the cloudy eyes in my Angelfish that I just noticed over the last couple of days. I bought some of those test strips (which I was recently informed were un-reliable)
<Perhaps, but better than nothing. They're the ones I use, for what it's worth.>
and according to the strips the nitrates and nitrites are 0, the hardness (GH) is around 150 ppm,
<Medium general hardness.>
the alkalinity (KH) is 180 ppm
<Medium carbonate hardness.>
and the ph is about 7.8.
<Moderately basic.>
I keep the water temp around 79 F.
<Bit warm for the Platies and Swords.>
Any suggestions you could offer as to What fish would do good with these water parameters would be greatly appreciated.
<You're pretty well stocked already, my friend! If this were me, I'd prefer to keep 2-3 species really well (in terms of population size and water chemistry/temperature) rather than a mish-mash of six, seven or more species.>
It is nice to know that there are people out there who care enough to take the time to put up a site that is filled with so much valuable information. Thanks for all the help and keep up the good work.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes 4/8/11

Thanks for the advise.
<Glad to help.>
I will look into getting some of those books. I wasn't planning on adding anymore fish but rather returning some of the ones that were not suitable for my tank.
<I see.>
I hate that I have to do that because I really like all my fish.
<Well, if their fate is likely to be sold to a poor fishkeeper, then by all means hang onto them. Angels and the Cats should be fine in your water.
It's just not perfect for them.>
Especially my two Marble Veiled Angelfish. I have to do what's best for the fish though. It's a lot like raising kids. LOL! You are right about the two Catfish. I don't see them much during the day. I rarely see my Raphael even at night. He stays hidden inside a log. He found him a hole in there so I can't see him at all.
<Typical of the species, genus, family.>
I have had him for a couple of weeks and I have only seen him once at night. I check on him once in a while to make sure he is still alive. I have done a lot of reading online and it seems a lot of people experience the same with this Catfish.
<Yes, but they're often keeping them singly. But even in groups, virtually all of the Doradidae are very nocturnal. The Synodontis species are rather better aquarium fish. I have three Synodontis nigriventris, the Dwarf Upside-Down Catfish, and they swim about during the day quite a bit. Kept singly, you almost never see this species during the day.>
Really nice looking fish though. Thanks again for the advise.
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes (RMF, can Melafix cause cloudy eyes?)<<In a word, yes. RMF>> 4/8/11
Just one more question. Since I have already started the treatment with the Melafix, should I continue the treatment for the duration it recommended or should I stop it now and return my carbon filter to the tank.
<A good rule for most situations is to finish the course of medications as instructed on the packaging. Bob may have an alternative opinion though.>
I started the treatment two days ago and the water seems to be getting cloudy. It says to treat for seven days. I don't know if it has anything to do with it or not but I just noticed that when I started the Melafix treatment is about the same time I noticed the cloudy eyes in the one Angelfish. I read the cap wrong on the first dose and put more than I was supposed to.
<Ah, I see.>
Could this have anything to do with the cloudy eyes?
<I'd imagine *any* irritant in the water could cause damage to the outside of the eyes.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish with cloudy eyes (RMF, can Melafix cause cloudy eyes?) 4/8/11
Thanks again for the advise. You been a great help. Take care and thanks again for the site.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Miracle Cure or Snake Oil? Mira/Mela-fix... Eye maladies f' as well, FW 8/13/2009
Good day, I am a 2 month fish owner and I have a specific problem but also a more general question.
<Fire away.>
I have a 2 inch black moor and 2 inch fantail in a 20 gallon tank, and the black moor has pop-eye I can't seem to get rid of (good nitrate, nitrite, ammonia levels, Ph 7.5, 65 degree tank), and a day after adding a golden apple snail one of its popped eyes got cloudy (not sure if related to snail intro).
<Unlikely to be related to the snail. Pop-eye is typically associated with either water quality issues or physical damage, e.g., careless handling of the fish, or the use of coarse rather than soft netting. Do see here:
In terms of water quality, if you don't have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, then that's likely the problem right there. Your tank should be big enough for juvenile Goldfish, but I will make the observation that adult Goldfish need 30 gallons upwards.>
Being relatively new to this, I consulted several pet stores and online forums and some recommended salt, and some Mirafix.
<Do you mean Melafix?>
I have tried both, and this has not seemed to do much other than upset the snail who is now doing poorly, but has not helped the eye on the moor. I am wondering if the snail is more of an added stress on the tank than the helper I was led to believe he would be in cleaning the tank.
<Melafix shouldn't harm invertebrates, but then, there's little testing either way. Apple snails do poorly with Goldfish for a variety of reasons, and the most common is that the Goldfish peck at them, thinking their
tentacles are edible. Eventually, the Apple snail is so stressed and unable to feed normally it dies.>
I am concerned I am not doing the right treatment however, because it seems that for so many problems the answer I get is to do a salt bath and or use Mirafix, no matter what the problem is. It is like if I went to my doctor and he gave me the same pill to treat the 10 different things I had wrong with me. Are these really good products (especially for fresh water goldfish), or are these the equivalent of the pet store placebo that earns them a little money but does no harm (or help).
<We get a lot of messages from people who have used Melafix, but without any improvements. It is, at best, a mild antiseptic that may well help prevent secondary infections. But as a cure for established disease, it's so unreliable as to be worthless compared to the other products on the market.>
I am also confused, because some prefer sea salt and some prefer Epsom salt, but can not tell me why or what the difference is, and in any case it seems like a LOT of salt by dosage for a fresh water fish.
<Now, salt (sodium chloride) and Epsom salt (Magnesium sulphate) are different things and used for different diseases. Salt is used to combat certain external parasites, particularly whitespot; at the low doses
recommended for treatment, it is sufficient saline in the aquarium that the free-living stages of the parasite cannot survive. Salt can also be used to treat velvet, flukes and lice. Epsom salt is used sometimes as a laxative, a muscle relaxant, and to reduce swelling. It's usually used when fish are bloated or have pop-eye. So, you pick one or the other depending on the situation.>
Also, I see that the Mirafix is listed by the State of CA as a carcinogen.
Is this just the case if ingested, or if it comes in contact with skin? I am always bare handing it when it comes to the tank after washing my hands first, and my young daughter helps, so I don't want to take chances.
<Do you drive? You're more likely to die in a motor accident than to get cancer from a bottle of Melafix. It's tea-tree oil, and on the scale of things, pretty harmless. I mention the driving thing because humans are
just hopeless at measuring risk. People worry about trivial risks while happily eating meat rather than vegetables, skipping exercise, smoking, drinking liquor, and any number of things that clearly and obviously reduce health. We're a funny species.>
In short, are salt and/or Mirafix helpful for cloudy eye,
<Likely not.>
and in general how do you think they are most beneficial (as opposed to the pet stores who claim the salt will cure my baldness and the Mirafix will help my liver).
<As ever, for medical advice, consult your doctor. The best I can offer here is advice about your fish.>
Thank you, Tessy
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Miracle Cure or Snake Oil? 8/13/2009
Thank-you, this is helpful. A couple follow-ups if I may, because I feel like I am trapped in several catch-22s.
If the popeye is caused by the water quality or stress, I seemed a little darned if do and darned if I don't in several cases. For example, you suggest Epsom salt (not the aquarium salt my pet guy recommended!) could help with pop eye, but the guy also said that the salt in general, and the Melafix could also kill the good bacteria in my filter (which will result in poor water).
<The pet shop guy is clearly ignorant. For a start, bacteria are obviously fine in marine tanks, so salt in itself clearly doesn't kill them. Yes, it's true you shouldn't make dramatic changes, but adding a small amount won't harm the bacteria at all. There's no such thing as "salt in general".
Potassium cyanide is a salt, but clearly deadly poisonous. Sodium chloride is another salt, but one we can safely eat each day. A salt is merely a kind of chemical; what matters is which salt, and how much. Sodium chloride in small amounts is a useful nutrient and enhances the taste of food; sodium chloride in massive amounts will kill you very quickly. Again, as I said, you use different chemicals depending on the situation. There's no reason at all you should be using sodium chloride. But magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt), at a dose of around 1 teaspoon per 5 to 10 gallons, will relieve swelling and bloating, and this may help, in conjunction with antibiotics, the Pop-eye you're dealing with.>
How do I use these products without having to recycle the tank?
<See above.>
How much will they increase my nitrates, or do I just do a lot of water changes at the same time, knowing I am getting rid of product I just paid to put into the tank?
<Why would magnesium sulphate increase nitrate? There's no nitrate in the chemical. Just do your usual water changes, adding the right amount of magnesium sulphate per bucket of water to replace what you've taken out. If you remove a 3 gallon bucket of old water from the aquarium, then make sure each 3 gallon bucket of new water you draw from the tap has about half a teaspoon of Epsom salt in it.>
Another one, the same guy who sold me the big filter said the stress of the popeye may be caused by the current in the tank being too rapid for these little guys (2 inchers at most including tail, 20 gallon tank, mechanical filter is a Stage 3 size Fluval). Even when I have it on the lowest flow setting, and try to dig out a hollow in the gravel to settle in, they seem to find a hard time finding a spot to truly rest.
<Use a spray bar to spread out the water current. If necessary, angle the spray bar at the glass, so water pressure is diffused against the glass.>
My solution was to turn the filter off at night, to give them a true rest, but I was told this will kill all the good bacteria in the filter and send the nitrates through the roof.
<Turning the filter off at night is crazy. Yes, the bacteria will die.
Nitrate would be the least of your problems! Ammonia and nitrite will rapidly rise because the filter bacteria aren't getting a constant flow of water to clean.>
Is this true? I think the constant swimming is probably the most likely cause of stress for the pop eye.
Will putting the filter on the ground and shoot it straight up, as opposed to on the side and across the tank, be helpful?
<Can help, but a spray bar is better.>
Or can I just turn it off at night like I have been?
Based on what you wrote, I think maybe my netting caused one of his pop eyes to 'pop' or get abraded, making it cloudy (for three weeks now). I thought I had bough the best net they had at the store, but I could see how pop eyes are fragile things. Is there a specific super safe most gentle net you can recommend?
<The safest is a plastic carton, like an old ice cream carton. Use the net or your hands to drive the fish into the carton, and lift out. Otherwise, if you want a net, look for the finest ones you can buy, typically white nylon, rather than the coarser ones, often green nylon.>
One last newbie question, I do seem to have a testing quirk no one can answer. I sometimes have a situation with 0 ammonia, some nitrites (very low), but 0 nitrate (I laugh at this, because the strips have color ranges from say 0 to .125 to .25 to .50, etc., and most readings are never at exactly the exact color as pictured), but you have mentioned that ANY nitrite level is bad.
<Correct. My guess would be that the filter "dies back" at night, so you detect high levels of ammonia and nitrite, and then "recovers" somewhat during the day, and you detect lower levels of ammonia and nitrite.>
Well, I have never been able to get to total zero nitrite, it is always above a little light blue, but never gets truly purplish in any way, but my nitrates do appear to be true zero.
<Test kits can be faulty, and to be honest, I wouldn't worry about nitrate anyway. Nitrate is more of an issue with marines and certain freshwater fish like cichlids. Goldfish are largely indifferent to it. But ammonia and nitrite are issues.>
Some have said what I am saying is impossible, as you get nitrates from converting all the nitrites, and that they only convert back to nitrites when the nitrate level gets super high. Even my worst nitrate reading is still mostly yellow. So long story short, how can you still have any nitrite in your tank (long term) when you have no nitrates (long term).
<Nitrate can be consumed by things like plants, and anaerobic bacteria in a deep bed of gravel will also use some of it up. But as I say, I wouldn't worry too much.>
And if that is possible, but any level of nitrite is bad, how do I get rid of that nitrite if the normal cycling process does not seem to want to convert that list little bit?
<If you constantly detect trace levels of nitrite, it either means your filter is overwhelmed by the amount of fish being kept, or the fish are being overfed, or the filter hasn't cycled completely. All three could be issues in your case, so be open-minded. Review filter maintenance. In short, you don't need carbon in your type of tank, but you do need biological filtration. Make sure your filter contains lots of biological media (typically sponges and/or ceramic noodles). Wash the media once every 4-6 weeks in buckets of aquarium water, never under a hot tap. Never switch the filter off. Don't replace more than 50% of the biological media at any one time.>
Oh, and if the cloudy eye can not be helped by salt or Mirafix, what is the next attempt? Patience?
<No, use something like (in the US) Maracyn or (in the UK) eSHa 2000. Some medication designed for Finrot and bacterial infections. Don't expect a rapid recovery.>
Is cloudy eye painful, or does it really blind them?
<Painful? Difficult to say. Does it blind them? Yes, eventually. But the problem is that Pop-eye isn't a disease of the eye, but a sign fluid has built up behind the eyeball. This means there's a systemic bacterial infection. It's a step away from septicaemia, and yes, that kills pretty quickly.>
Or is it more a cosmetic thing that bothers us?
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Miracle Cure or Snake Oil?-- 08/14/09
Wow, amazingly helpful. The only comment for what it is worth is that the pet store guy said the salt would kill the fresh water "good" bacteria, and replace them with salt water "good" bacteria,
<This in only true if you raise the salinity above a certain point.
Freshwater contains 0 grammes/litre marine salt mix, whereas seawater contains 35 g/l marine salt mix. Freshwater bacteria are fine up to about 9 g/l. Since I'm suggesting you add much lower doses than that when treating whitespot (typically less than 3 g/l) and for Dropsy/Pop-eye you aren't using marine salt mix but Epsom salt, none of this matters.>
which helped tropical fish but not fresh water fish as much, particularly when Melafix is getting used at the same time as the salt.
<Melafix may work, but it just isn't reliable. If you have some, and the disease isn't life-threatening, then feel free to use it. But if you're shopping for a medication now, or your fish is clearly in distress (as is the case with Pop-eye) then you want to be using something much more reliable.>
At this point however I am more likely to trust your judgment on all this, this seems to be very good advice from your site overall, very helpful.
Not having to be anal about monitoring nitrate with goldfish saves me a lot of money alone!
Changing only one of the sponges in the filter at one time is also brilliant.
<Likely mentioned this in the instruction booklet that came with the filter, so can't really claim brilliance on this ones!>
Thanks again.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

List of Shame: "Fixes" that aren't: Melafix, Pimafix... leaf extracts... that if anything have minimal antimicrobial activity (so does bleach, vinegar, water...)... and worse, work to kill off your bio-filter, and worst, give people some sense of false hope that they're doing something worthwhile instead of actually doing something worthwhile.

GF Qs 08/02/09
> Bob, Neale- As I'm going through the GF disease FAQs ("summarizing" and sorting), I have few questions... 1) a lot of the early crew members frequently recommend Melafix. Does this work for goldfish?
<Marginally in some types of circumstances (my best attempt at a fair assessment)... Really, more a hindrance, obstacle to folks further investigating, seeking real cures in many more percentage cases>
> 2) There seems to be some disagreement over the use of "freshwater" salt to ease water quality issues and stress on the fish. What is the > logic behind the use of this salt? ...and do you two recommend it?
<The change in osmotic pressure is more easily tolerated than some ext. complaints... and the placebo effect, granted... getting folks to not do more harm>
3) Is it not a "myth" that goldfish will only grow as large as their home will provide?
<Sigh... absolutely>
...do they just grow very slowly in small containers?
<They stunt, suffer and die prematurely... Thank you for asking. BobF, who would include this corr... so he's going to.>
> Thanks,
> Sara M.

Re: GF Qs 08/02/09
> Hi Sara,
> I tend to agree with Bob the Melafix is of little to no value. It's an antiseptic at best, and consequently best considered a preventative, to keep minor wounds from becoming infected. I'd never recommend it as something to use once fish have obvious signs of Finrot or fungus.
> Sodium chloride is known to reduce the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate. As such, it can be used at low doses (1-3 grammes/litre) to help fish tolerate periods of poor water quality. Sodium chloride can also be used to treat a variety of external parasites including whitespot (ick) and leeches. On the other hand, what sodium chloride won't do is raise pH or increase hardness. It's therefore of no value in aquaria where the main problems are to do with water chemistry.
> Goldfish have a very high tolerance for brackish water, so the use of salt at low doses on a continual basis won't do any harm, but on the flip side, it won't do any good either, if other issues, particularly water chemistry, aren't fixed first.
> Carp, including goldfish, are known to stunt in the wild as well as in captivity. I disagree with Bob with regard to the potential for harm; there's no clear evidence that stunting causes any problems at all.
> However, having said that, keeping fish in tanks that are too small for them -- and thereby causing stunting -- also tends to imply the fish is being exposed to poor water quality, unstable water chemistry, and low levels of dissolved oxygen. All of these things are liable to reduce overall health and disease resistance. So while stunting _per se_ probably doesn't cause problems, the conditions that promote stunting almost certainly do.
> It's worth mentioning fish grow their entire lives, as you probably know, and once a stunted fish is removed to bigger quarters, it will begin growing again. Of course, the rate of growth decreases with age, so a fish that was stunted when young will not get dramatically larger if moved into a big tank as an adult.
> Cheers, Neale

Sick Oscar (Astronotus; another sick fish "treated" with Melafix) 2/15/09 Hello~ Your website is very informative and great except I cannot find any emails that match all my Oscars symptoms. Hopefully you can help me. I have called a couple of local fish stores and even went to a Oscar website in which I was criticized for letting my Oscar get this way. My Oscar's name is Dorothy (not really sure of the sex but that is what my boys named her.) I have owned Dorothy for 5 years she is 10 inches. I had her and a Sunfish, (that I saved from the frying pan)who was about half the size of Dorothy, in a 55 gallon aquarium. No decorations other than some large rocks. No gravel or sand. Made it easier to clean. Last year we had to move into my parents house because we bought a farmhouse that needed to be remodeled from top to bottom. I had to move Dorothy and the Sunfish into a 30 gallon aquarium. I have a 55 plus gallon Whisper pump hooked up and a suction cup bubble wand to help the air flow. I rinse the filters every week and after 2 weeks I change them completely. I keep the temperature of the tank at about 80 degrees. About 2 months ago, the Sunfish died suddenly. The night before he was eating and the next morning I found him dead. Instantly I was concerned as to what happened. I pulled the pump out cleaned it from top to bottom. Changed about 25% of the water. I did not want to do more because Dorothy became melancholy/depressed. She stayed in the corner and would not eat or swim around. For a couple of days I thought that she was being moody because she no longer had a tank mate. After about the third day of not eating I really examined her. I noticed that she had what looked like fungus. I treated her with fungus medication followed the instructions with that. She bounced back for about a week. Then she started hanging in the corner again. This time she had her nose pointed down and her tail pointed to that top of the tank. I tried to get her to swim around by seeing if she would follow my finger along the front of the glass, a game we played when she was a baby, but she would not move. I also noted that her stomach looked bloated. This is when I emailed into a Oscar website after trying to find some reason why this happened and how I should treat it. After feeling like a very bad parent I was told that she had a Urinary Tract infection? and was told that there is no real cure for this try some aquarium salt. I bought the aquarium salt gave the correct dosage and hoped for some type of reaction from Dorothy. Nothing. Next I called a local Aquarium shop and talked to the owner who told me that it sounded like she may have Dropsy. I have never heard of this before and he told me to treat her with Melafix for 7 days then do a 25 % water change. I started treating her and by the end of the week she was now laying on the bottom of the tank and her stomach looked less swollen. I did the 25% water changed and started week 2. Now when I go in to sit by her tank she comes over to the front of the tank close to me. I noticed that she has a mark on the bottom of her chin/jaw. What is this called? Someone mentioned it in a prior email on your website and said it was chin sink? I couldn't find any more information on this and how to treat this? I have sent a picture. She did not have this during the prior treatment. I have now treated her for 2 1/2 weeks with the Melafix and the aquarium salt. The water has turned really cloudy, the medicine bottle said that was normal. I tried to entice her with worm pieces and she tried to eat but it looked like she was having a hard time swimming normally, it is almost like she is having spasms when she swims, and then when she did get positioned in front of the worm she couldn't scoop it up in her mouth. After a few attempts she went back to the corner of her tank. I took a spoon and pushed it towards her and she kind of sucked it in. It was a short lived victory for me because that was the first thing she has eaten in a month. It has been 4 days since then and things have not changed. I don't know what else to do. If you can help me out by maybe coming up with whatever is actually wrong with her or maybe a different treatment? Thank you for your time. ~Shannon <Shannon I can't tell from the image anything useful, it's just too blurry! But please, let me say this: both salt and Melafix are useless. Assuming that this a bacterial infection, use an antibiotic such as Maracyn (or, if that doesn't work, Maracyn 2). Make sure to run the full dose, for all the require days, removing carbon from the filter during the process. Bacterial infections typically look like sores, ulcers and so on, while Fungal infections are very obviously bundles of fluffy white threads. They often occur together, and mostly in tanks with poor water quality. So review conditions in the tank. Cichlids are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, but also nitrate causes problems about 20 mg/l. Alternatively, external bacterial infections can be caused by violent tankmates or rough handling on the part of the keeper. Cichlids typically fight by wrestling "mouth to mouth" and in the process can damage themselves. Oscars are actually peaceful fish, and shouldn't be combined with species notably more aggressive. Since this fish is an Oscar, I'll also mention the use of feeder fish as one of the best ways to make a healthy fish sick. You should never, ever feed an Oscar feeder fish. They need a varied diet based on good quality cichlid pellets such as Hikari brand pellets, augmented with various invertebrates (they love earthworms!) and green foods such as tinned peas. Cheers, Neale.>

I think we need a crusade against Melafix. It seems that every sick fish we get photos of has already been treated with stuff, and remained sick. How did it ever get onto the market? Who endorsed it? Neale <... and I've just seen in a Brit mar. mag.... there's now a saltwater version! Gahhhh! BobF I think we need a big banner or something on the "Before You Write" page that says: "If you've treated your fish with Melafix, Bettafix or Pimafix, and it's still sick, then try using a PROPER antibiotic, antibacterial or anti-fungal." <I agree... and have tried to intimate this...> Or words to that effect, anyway! Did you hear that Australian fish magazine Sara and I had written for appears to be closing down? Shame. <Had heard> Cheers, Neale <Sign of the times... BobF>
HELP! beloved fish sick!! 7/24/08 Neale, <Cassie,> I have a huge, beautiful, white female pond fish (not koi) that belonged to my husband's great-grandfather (he bred them). He was VERY fond of her and talked about how she was his favorite. He loved her silvery-white coloring and her blue eyes. When he had to go away to a retirement home 4-5 years ago, he asked me to take care of his fish. I took most of the pond fish he had, found other homes for most of them (I know a couple of wonderful pond-keepers), and I kept my favorites. He passed away last fall, so (I know it seems silly) this fish is extremely special to my husband and me'¦ She reminds us of him. <I can see that this fish would be of great worth to you. I am curious as to what he might be though; most of the white pond fish I've seen are Koi, though very pale, practically albino Goldfish do exist. Given the age of this fish, and the fact it's been bred in captivity, I'm pretty sure it's one or other of these species. It's quite easy to tell Koi and Goldfish apart: Koi have short whiskers around the mouth, but Goldfish do not.> My husband's great-grandfather gave this big female fish to me at least 4 or 5 years ago. There's no telling how old she is, though. She was already about 10 inches long back then, and she doesn't seem to have grown much. She and my other pond fish were kept in a small 75 gallon pond until last summer. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, and in June 2007 we moved them to a large aquarium in our living room because we didn't think an open body of water was a good thing to have around with our baby'¦ I should add that the tank is a 90 gal. Eclipse (though they don't call it eclipse anymore... it's Marineland, I suppose). GREAT tank... moves 600-gallons-per-hour. We LOVE it. They also have a 14 inch long air-stone run by a 100-gal air pump. <Sounds nice. But I will make the point that Koi simply never do that well indoors, in my opinion (of course lots of people will now write in and say their Koi are perfectly happy indoors!).> The June 2007 move went fine, and all the fish survived. They have all been doing WONDERFULLY for the past year. '¦all swimming happily, eating well, dorsal fins up and perky'¦ All was well. The tank has been up and running for over a year now, though I've had the pond fish for many, many years before that. I got my first small batch of them around 10-12 years ago, and 3 of those are still going strong, so I guess I must be doing SOMETHING right. All of my pond fish are AT LEAST 5 years old and I have had them their whole lives'¦ There is a 5-yr-old Pleco, too, who gets along great with the pond fish. They have all been very happy and very healthy their whole lives'¦ until very recently. <OK...?> June 13th (last month), she developed a bad case of pop-eye in her right eye. It was very grotesque-looking, but it didn't seem to bother her much. I immediately did a partial water change and treated with Melafix. The swelling in her eye went down immediately, and her eye was completely normal just a couple of days later. She seemed completely normal for the past month. <Pop-eye is almost always caused either by water quality problems or physical damage; if just one eye becomes inflamed, then chances are it was physical damage. I'd check the tank for any rough ornaments, as well as review things like netting procedures or even whether one or other fish might be aggressive. Plecs for example have been known to suck onto big fish, seemingly to feed on mucous. It's rare, but it does happen. In any event, as you've seen Pop-eye will get better by itself under good conditions, and is rarely life-threatening in itself.> This morning, when I woke up and checked on the fish as normal, I noticed her sitting on the bottom of the tank. This is very unusual for her. However, as soon as she saw me, she quickly began swimming and looking for food as normal. I didn't think much of it. As the day progressed, she spent less and less time swimming, and more and more time 'resting' on the bottom. Her breathing became very labored. <This is quite alarming with most fish. My instinct when I see this is two-fold: do water tests, and then do a 50% (or bigger) water change. If the fish immediately peps up after a big water change, I can narrow down the range of problems to environmental issues. Sometimes even things like water temperature can stress coldwater fish sufficiently that they behave erratically.> I tested the water. I have a color-coded test kit which tests nitrate, nitrite, hardness, alkalinity, and pH. All levels tested 'acceptable' or 'ideal' except for the nitrite level. The color turned up very strange -- a color that is not on the chart. I took this as a bad sign, so I did about a 30%-40% water change at around lunchtime. I treated the water with Melafix. She perked up a bit. <The perkiness is almost certainly the water change, not the Melafix (which I'm not a big fan of). In any case, if you have nitrite, then either your tank is overstocked or you're under-filtered or you're overfeeding. If you haven't added any fish, and they haven't grown much, and you aren't adding much different food, then concentrate on filtration. Biological filters need cleaning, but not too much cleaning. Check the filter is working properly. They don't last forever. Even at a simple level, things like the impeller (to spinning thing) can get clogged. So dismantle the filter, give all the hardware a good clean (including the hoses!) and rinse the biological media in a bucket of aquarium water, squeezing the sponges or sluicing the ceramic noodles. Clean or replace mechanical media. I'm not a fan of chemical media in standard freshwater tanks, and I'd heartily recommend replacing carbon and/or Zeolite with more good quality biological media.> However, she took a turn for the worst last night. HELP!! She is sitting on the bottom full-time now. Her mouth is running a mile-a-minute'¦ she's GASPING! The other fish are totally fine. They seem to be happy and perky in their cleaner, fresher, newly treated water. I am very upset and concerned for my poor white fish! <She may be more sensitive because of her age or species. If the other fish are Goldfish, but she's a Koi (as I suspect) she will be MUCH more sensitive to nitrite than the other fish. Short term, stop feeding the fish altogether, and do 50% water changes daily. Keep using the nitrite test kit every day or two to see that the nitrite level is going downwards.> I don't want to lose her! '¦does ANYONE know of anything else I can do for her as an emergency rescue? '¦anything I can do now, at home? I have read about feeding them peas to help their swim-bladder to get them up off the bottom'¦ does anyone know anything about this? I am afraid she may not make it through the night. I am so worried! I know this seems silly'¦ I know it's 'just a fish,' but like I said, she is very special to my family and me'¦ <I honestly don't think she's ill; I think these symptoms are environmental. Both Koi and Goldfish can live a long time. Goldfish easily last 20 years if cared for properly, and the record is over 30 years. Koi should easily live many decades, with at least one Koi, Hanako, known to have lived for 215 years! In other words, I'd not to be too worried she's on her way out just yet.> Thank you for your time... <Hope this helps, Neale.>

HELP! beloved fish sick!! Large comets in too small, damaged a world... "Fix" again RMF 7/24/08 I need your help!!! I just posted this on Yahoo Answers, but I don't always trust that. We'll see how that goes. MUCH-loved POND FISH appears to be dying'¦ HELP!!? I have a huge, beautiful, white female pond fish (not koi) <Likely a large comet goldfish...> in a large 90 gallon aquarium with a fantastic top-of-tank 600-gal.-per-hour filtering system with a few other pond fish. The rest are all AT LEAST 5 years old (some pushing 10). I've had them their whole lives '¦all very healthy until recently. <Mmm, water quality tests? Very common to have cycling, waste accumulation issues with such fishes in small volumes... 90 gallons is small> June 13th (last month), she developed a case of pop-eye in her right eye. I immediately did a partial water change and treated with Melafix. <Worthless... worse than... likely killed your bio-filter...> The swelling in her eye went right down - she seemed normal for past month. This morning, she was sitting on the bottom (unusual), but as soon as she saw me, she began swimming around as normal. Later, she spent less time swimming, and more time 'resting' on the bottom. I tested water with a color-coded test kit (nitrate, nitrite, hardness, alkalinity, pH). All came up 'acceptable' except for the nitrite level. That turned up an odd color, so I did about a 30%-40% water change at around noon. I treated with Melafix. She perked up, but... <Uhh... diluting the nitrite won't work... the "Fix" will kill the beneficial microbes...> 15 minutes ago - 3 days left to answer. Additional Details 14 minutes ago <?> after the water change and the Melafix treatment, she perked up a bit, but she taken a turn for the worst in the last couple of hours. HELP!! She is sitting on the bottom GASPING now! Other fish are totally fine'¦ seem to be happy in their clean water. I am very worried for my poor white fish! I don't want to lose her! Does ANYONE know of anything else I can do now at home for her as an emergency rescue? <Do you have a system that is cycled you can move all to?> I have read about feeding them peas to help their swim-bladder to get them up off the bottom'¦ <Not a/the cause... which you need to treat... Which is the environment... now poisoned with the API product... Need to get these fish into a cycled system of size> does anyone know anything about this? I am afraid she may not make it through the night. I am so worried! '¦please, serious responses only'¦ I know it's 'just a fish,' but like I said, she is very special to my family and me'¦ I should add that the tank is 90 gal. eclipse (though they don't call it eclipse anymore... it's Marineland, I suppose). GREAT tank... 600-gallons-per-hour. LOVE it. It's been up and running for over a year now, though I've had the pond fish for many, many years before that. I got my first small batch of them around 10-12 years ago, and 3 of those are still going strong, so I guess I must be doing SOMETHING right. There is a 5-yr-old Pleco, too, who gets along great with the pond fish. Please help! I don't want to lose her! -Cassie- <Please use the search tool and/or indices on WWM re Melafix... Goldfish systems... Read, and soon, starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above. Move these fish, don't feed anything if there is any detectable ammonia or nitrite... Bob Fenner>

Goldfish-Resistant Fin Rot? Mela-not-fix... getting to... identifying an treating root cause/s, not symptoms 7/13/08 Hi Crew, <Jennifer> Thank you in advance for your help! I have a beautiful 4-inch (body + tail) Shubunkin goldfish living in a 27-gal tank with a 40-gal Power filter and a large air stone. He is the only fish in the tank and it has been established for over 6 months. About 6 weeks ago, I noticed the beginning stages of what I think is fin rot on both caudal tail tips. I hate to admit it, but I'm afraid we neglected his tank cleaning a bit and I suspect the slight ammonia increase (0.25ppm when I first tested it after noticing the frayed fins) made his susceptible to infection. <Mmm, maybe... there should not be any ammonia present. Perhaps some other/redundant biological filtration> First, I tried vacuuming gravel along with 50% water change and adding Amquel+ in the recommended dose to detoxify any remaining ammonia. After about a week, the rot continued to get worse, so I tried what I thought would be a "gentle" approach and added Melafix <...> for the recommended 7-day treatment. This did absolutely nothing <What it does> and the rot only got worse because it became red along the frayed edges. I performed a 25% water change and replaced the activated carbon to get rid of the medication. <Not really a medication> I did nothing except monitor water quality for a few days. Ammonia fluctuated between 0 and 0.25ppm, Nitrite was always 0, and Nitrates stayed around 10-15ppm. As I said, this was a well-established tank, but the fact that I could not get the ammonia to stabilize at 0 made me think the Melafix destroyed by biological filtration. <Does this as well> It is important to mention that I was having to add a standard dose of Amquel+ every evening to keep the water quality at the levels I just mentioned. At this point, a fish-hobbyist friend told me to try Maracyn since the redness had not gone away and the rot was progressing. I followed the 5-day treatment and the redness was reduced, but not eliminated and the fins did not start growing back. <The environment...> Again, I did a 25% water change, replaced the carbon for a day, then started a treatment of Maracyn-Two. I thought maybe the bacterial infection was gram- rather than gram+. <Rather rare actually> After this 5-day treatment, there was no improvement at all, and all the while I'm having to still add Amquel+ every other day to keep the aforementioned levels. (I added a dose of Cycle <This Hagen product rarely works...> at the start of the Maracyn-Two treatment, which is I think why I was able to get away with less frequent doses of Amquel+.) At this point, I was really alarmed at the fin rot progression and resistance, so I went back to the only treatment that showed any signs of improvement, which was the Maracyn. On the advice of my friend, I treated with Maracyn concurrently with Maroxy, as he started to wonder if this was a fungal fin rot. <Not per accidens... not the immediate cause... the environment> I am currently on my third day of treatment with these medications, but I haven't seen much, if any, improvement. I will say it doesn't seem to be getting any worse at the moment. Today was the first day that the Nitrite level went above 0 to 0.25ppm, and the ammonia was zero. Perhaps this is my tank starting to re-cycle? <Seems so> I am just so upset that I've tried everything I can think of to help my fish, but nothing is really working. The only comfort I have is that he is behaving 100% normally and eating with a very healthy appetite. I am also purposely trying to feed less and vacuum his tank every other day. I test water quality 2 times per day. Whew! That was an earful, I know, but I wanted to make sure you had all the info. Do you think there is anything else going on with my poor fish instead of/in addition to the bacterial fin rot? <I don't think this is the actual problem here... "It" is the env.> The frays are now about 1/2 an inch long on his tail. What should I do once the Maracyn/Maroxy combo treatment is over in two more days? I have a bad feeling the infection will still be active. Is this at all normal? I'm desperate to stop the rot from reaching his body, because I've read that will at the very least mean his fin won't grow back and at the worst will kill him! Thank you, again, for you patience with a worried Mom. Sincerely, Jennifer <Again; some simple additional filtration that incorporates a mechanical media... that will act along with the hang on power filter... Perhaps a sponge filter, an inside power filter, some live plant material... even a simple small undergravel filter plate... The nitrogenous trouble was the real root cause here... All the treatments were attempts at treating symptoms, not the cause. Fix the environment, fix this fish. Bob Fenner>

Re: Goldfish-Resistant Fin Rot? - 07/13/08 Thank you for your advice, Bob. Honestly, I searched your site for many hours looking for specific info on resistant fin rot, <Mmm, likely because... there really isn't such a thing... Really> and although I didn't find much (perhaps I wasn't looking in the right spots), I did read a lot of info on goldfish systems and environment, which was very helpful. Tonight is the last dose of the Maracyn/Maroxy combo. I was thinking of vacuuming gravel and doing a 50% water change while replacing the carbon filter to clean the water. <Don't vacuum the bottom... too likely to impair the biological filter> Also, I have a spare hang-on filter I could add to the tank, as well. <Ah, great!> I was wondering what you thought about continuing with another round of Maracyn/Maroxy (the box says a second round of treatment is okay to use). <Not worthwhile. Good products, but don't address the real issue here> I understand completely that fixing the environment is a must, but until the tank is finished re-cycling, all I know to do is control the water chemistry with water changes, vacuuming and Amquel+. <I would stop using the Amquel as well... this fine Novalek product contains other chemicals you'd do best avoiding...> In the meantime, should I continue to treat my fish's symptoms with medication? <No> I'm afraid if I stop medication and the infection is still present with redness and everything, that the bacteria will become resistant and render further medication useless. My friend suggested, as a last resort, to dab some iodine solution directly on the fin damage without letting it get in the water or the fish's eyes. <Not worthwhile either> Have you heard of this being successful, or is it more of a gamble? My gut tells me just to keep doing water changes until the tank stabilizes, but I'm by no means any kind of expert and I would hate to think that my inaction will make my fish worse. I know you are very busy, and I really do appreciate your help. And I know my poor fish does, too! Sincerely, Jennifer <Best to just monitor ammonia, nitrite, not feed period if these are detectable... RMF> Re: Goldfish-Resistant Fin Rot? - 07/14/08 Once, again, thank you for your help. I actually just have one last question, not specifically related to the fin rot issue, but important none-the-less. Maybe other relatively new fish hobbyists like myself will also find it helpful. In all my fish tanks, I have always used a specific brand of natural spring water that I've found through chemical testing to have ideal water chemistry for my goldfish. <Interesting... most tap waters are fine for goldfish... provided they don't have too much sanitizer. I simply vac, drain about a quarter of my goldfish systems every week and replace with straight outdoor hose tap (nothing else)... perhaps with a pickle bucket (four or so gallons) of heated indoor water about the same time every week> It is also very convenient not to have to pre-treat the water other than letting the temperature equalize with that of the tank water. However, after this round of trouble with my Shubunkin, this method is becoming very expensive to keep up water changes! <Is there some aspect of your source/house water that you think/consider problematical?> I tested my tap water, and all water chemistry is very similar to the spring water (pH especially), but it contains 1.0 ppm of ammonia <!? Surprising> (and chlorine which I would obviously let evaporate). <This last "takes" about a week nowadays... chloramine, not chlorine> Is the only way to "condition" the water for use in my tank a product like Amquel+? <Mmm, no... the simplest is to let the water set for the duration interval twixt change-outs... or "take a/the risk" as I do, and only change part...> In the previous email, you mentioned I should discontinue use of this product, <Correct. I would NOT use daily... for the purpose of arresting ammonia presence... see WWM, elsewhere re... will forestall the establishment of nitrification (does this make sense?) among other things it is best to avoid while the fish is weakened> so I'm worried I shouldn't use it to condition the tap water. I should mention I also have API's Stress Coat on hand. <A very similar product. I also would not use daily> Would this be a better alternative, or would I encounter the same problem of extra unwanted chemicals? <Yes...> Hopefully this will be the last time I have to bug you so you can do your wonderful work with others in need. Thank you! Sincerely, Jennifer <I do hope I am being clear, complete-enough here Jennifer. You are an exemplary aquarist... conscientious beyond fault. I realize there is much conflicting information to be had via the Net, stores, even in-print books... Best to read good sources, like Goldfish Connection, WWM, and determine what is factual, useful for your situation yourself. Bob Fenner>

Re: swim bladder disease... Melafix 4/16/08 I am shocked by this response. I asked for a recommendation of a general antibiotic. Was not giving one. Chose one on my own. It appeared to work quite well, the fish is cured. And then I am told that I made a bad choice. Confused. <Hello Richard. The problem with Melafix is that it *isn't* an antibiotic and it certainly won't cure internal problems such as any of the various things called "Swim Bladder Disorder". While some people have found Melafix useful, many of us here at WWM consider it to be at best unreliable, and at worst useless. What Melafix can (perhaps) do is help prevent, and possibly cure, certain external infections. But not all of them, and certainly not consistently enough to be the "drug of choice". In any event, there are inexpensive, safe, much more consistently useful antibacterial and antibiotic drugs out there, so the advantages of Melafix are difficult for some of us to fathom. Anyway, that your fish got better likely has little or nothing to do with the Melafix. Most swim bladder problems come down to either dietary issues such as constipation or simply opportunistic bacterial infections. Improving diet and water conditions can help the fish recover under its own steam. Likely your fish is healthy once more because of your fishkeeping skills rather than the Melafix. Cheers, Neale.> <<Thank you Neale... my "principal gripe" with such so-called remedies is that they are totally untested... and for the most part, at best, worthless placebos... at worse, as the case here, detrimental often in mal-influencing water quality, damaging nitrification... and what passes for "non-critical thinking" results in folks believing they're doing some good... Instead of more thoroughly investigating... discerning that what passes for "advice" often at stores, the Net is homespun nonsense. BobF>>

High Nitrates after use of Melafix -- 03/20/08 Hello, <Hi there> First, let me say thank you for your wonderful site, which I return to every chance I get. You have been kind enough in the past to help me; and I am hoping for your assistance again. <Will try...> I have a 36 gallon freshwater tank, lightly stocked with 10 fish. When my tank was new (15 months ago) it always had an alkaline PH of about 7.2. <... Mmm, not "that" alkaline... In fact, some good reasons to have a slightly elevated pH... NealeM has a nice article re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwhardness.htm and the linked files above> As my tank matured, I was told that it would probably become more acidic, which it did. It has been around 6.6 for the past few months now. However, 2 weeks ago, my Boesemani rainbowfish got injured in a castle ornament (which I have since removed) incurring significant scale damage. I added Melafix <...> to the tank because I had heard great things about it speeding up healing. Well, it worked. He was completely healed within a week. <Might've taken seven days (or less) w/o...> I was performing modest 10% water changes every other day for the length of the 7-day treatment in an attempt to keep the water pristine. During the course of the treatment I only tested for ammonia and nitrite to ensure that my bio filter was not being affected. Ammonia and Nitrite always tested at zero and continue to do so to date. After treatment ended, I put carbon in the filter (Eheim canister) and performed a 25% water change. I tested my water parameters a few hours later and was very surprised to find high nitrate levels of at least 40ppm, but could possibly have been higher. It is very hard to differentiate on my test kit at any level higher than 20ppm since the shades of red are almost identical. <Mmm, often diluting samples by half (by adding "clean" water of the same approximate volume...) can/will bring readings back "on scale"> My nitrates never exceeded 20ppm before this, as I religiously perform 25% water changes every two weeks with a complete gravel vacuuming. I theorized that the Melafix must have been responsible since it is a plant derivative and probably contributed to the dissolved organics in the water. Could this be the reason? Also, as I feared, my PH level has dropped to the lowest range on my test kit (6.0-6.3). <All are possible interactions, yes> I have been doing daily 15% water changes since this occurred and the nitrates seem to be dropping (hard to tell once in the "red" range on the test kit) and my PH did go up temporarily last evening to 6.4, but had dropped again by this morning. I don't wish to stress my fish, who all appear fine at the moment, so I hesitate to do large water changes for fear of the PH rising too quickly. <You are wise here> Should I proceed with the daily 15% water changes, or do you feel that this is insufficient to correct this issue in a more timely manner. <I would continue as you are> Is there anything I could have missed (besides the obvious of not using Melafix in my display tank anymore). I thank you in advance for your assistance. Michele <Mmm, I think you're doing fine. I am NOT a fan of the "fix" products by API, but there are folks here (WWM) who are a bit more charitable. Am a bigger promoter of the use of real medicines. Bob Fenner>

Follow-up on High Nitrates/low PH after Melafix use Hello again, <Michele> I wrote to WWM earlier in the week regarding experiencing high nitrates and subsequent low PH in my tank after using Melafix to treat a injured fish. <I recall> For your reference, I have included my original correspondence which Bob Fenner answered and was kind enough to assist me with. I have been doing daily modest water changes to bring down the nitrate levels, which has vastly improved (currently reading in the 20ppm range) but of course I'm still working on getting it even lower. However, in tandem with the high nitrates, my PH level dropped from 6.6 to the lowest range on my test kit (6.0-6.3). Water changes have resulted in the PH rising to 6.4, but this effect has been temporary, usually dropping back down within 24 hours. <I would bolster the alkalinity here with at least a few teaspoons of baking soda... or a commercial prep.... Covered on WWM> I realize that larger water changes would yield quicker nitrate reduction, but I don't want to stress the fish in case the PH does increase too rapidly so I'm proceeding cautiously. <You are wise here> But despite the nitrates being reduced, the PH is not climbing back up as of yet and stabilizing as I had hoped. I was somewhat puzzled about this, so I went to your site and researched some possibilities as to why. In doing so, I realized that I did not know what the KH or GH of my source water was, so I purchased a KH/GH test kit to find out. <Ahh!> I live in New York, and we have very soft water, which has almost no KH/GH, which I confirmed with the test (only 1 drop yielded a slight tinge of color). I know now that this is not ideal, and that PH drops can occur without enough buffering; <Yes> however I am very leery of adding any chemicals to the tank for fear of rapid and/or wide PH fluctuations which can be much worse than a stable but low PH. <Best to make all such changes gradually, through/by way of the change out water... modify it and add it to the system> My father has been using the same source water for 30 years, and has successfully kept tropical fish without the use of any chemicals to alter PH or hardness. His philosophy is to keep fish that will adapt to your conditions and thinks I am overly concerned about this. <A valid concern; particularly if only keeping livestock that "enjoys" softer/acidic water...> I tend to agree with his philosophy but my real concern is the low PH hindering the nitrifying bacteria. <Also a valid concern> I have read that at lower PH levels, the bio filter does not work as efficiently. <This is so> Is this true, or does PH have to much more acidic for this to occur? <Slightly alkaline is better... the forward reactions/nitrification are reductive in nature... drive pH down... so having some biomineral in place...> If I continue with the daily water changes and get the nitrates down to about 5-10ppm and keep them there with a more frequent maintenance regimen (perhaps a weekly water change instead of bi-weekly), will the PH increase to where it was a few weeks ago, or without sufficient KH will it remain low no matter how many water changes I do? <If there is no addition of alkaline material (esp. carbonate, bicarbonate) from somewhere, the GH, KH will not change... If reductive processes continue, the pH will drop...> Forgive me if this has been explained somewhere on your site. <An, no worries> Be assured that I have been reading, but I find this issue of hardness somewhat confusing and wanted to check with someone from the crew before deciding on a course of action. Also, please note that prior to adding the Melafix a few weeks ago, I did not have excess nitrates nor any problems with a sudden PH drop so I am hoping that just keeping the nitrate level extremely low will get my tank back to where it was a few weeks ago. I had also read Neale's suggestions to some people about using crushed coral in the filter to raise KH, but I don't want my PH to rise by very much. <Depending on how much, how soluble, this addition is very safe... will not raise pH much, very quickly at all> Since my source water is on the acidic side (6.6-6.8), my goal is to get the tank PH as close as possible to my source water. Is it possible to use the coral and only increase the KH and PH slightly rather than to the basic side of the PH scale? <Yes... could be placed in a filter, bag... in a container with your make-up water... allowed to "soak" for a few days...> I'm somewhat confused because I have been hearing/reading conflicting information about their use. How do you suggest I achieve my goal of increasing my PH to about 6.6 - 6.8 and stabilizing it? <Mmm, the water changes you're doing... with the addition of a bit of sodium bicarbonate (very safe) or a modicum of commercial aquarium pH buffering product> Once again, your advice is greatly appreciated and invaluable. Michele <Let's keep chatting this over till you feel comfortable with your understanding of the underlying principle/s here... This aspect of water quality (pH, alkalinity/acidity... "hardness") is too wordy in English unfortunately... But once you grasp it... Cheers, BobF>

Re: Follow-up on Discovery of Low KH after High Nitrates/low PH w/Melafix use 3/26/08 Hello Mr. Fenner, <Just Bob please Michele> Thank you so much for all of your assistance in explaining how KH factors into maintaining PH. I have been doing some more reading and if I am understanding correctly, the baking soda method needs to be replenished with each water change (outside of the system in the new water) . <Yes, this is best> Since I'm not great at chemistry, and thus would be experimenting with the amount to use to reach my goal, I fear that this leaves a lot of room for human error. <Actually, not much error possible. This practice, with Baking Soda is quite safe> So I think I feel more comfortable with a slow soluble carbonate substance such as crushed coral or even crushed oyster shells and will experiment with a small amount in the filter as a first corrective step to increase KH. The only crushed coral I have been able to find however has aragonite mixed in as well. If I understand correctly, this makes it more soluble, so is this still acceptable for my purposes or would this make the tank too alkaline? <No, not likely> If not recommended for my purposes, I have also been able to locate crushed oyster shells packaged as a "bird feed". <Ahh! This material... usually some type of Dolomite ("Tapa Shell)... a compound of calcium and magnesium carbonates CAN be very soluble... and a mess to handle/deal with... too "cloudy" in preparation/use> In the meanwhile I will continue with my water changes to further decrease the nitrates and proceed from there. Thanks for the offer/opportunity to continue chatting until I get a better grasp of the subject matter. I'm honored that you would take additional time from your busy schedule to assist me. Michele <Am out in Malaysia currently... where am dreading the Net slow-down. Cheers! BobF>

Re: Follow-up on Discovery of Low KH after High Nitrates/low PH w/Melafix use 3/30/08 Good evening Bob, <Mich> I hope your trip to Malaysia is going well. <Yes... but the Net is slow... and intermittent> I did purchase the crushed coral and added a very small amount to the filter on Tuesday. I figured I could always add more if needed. Since my nitrates are now in 10ppm range, I've stopped the daily water changes and will continue as necessary to keep them low. The PH was holding steady at 6.4 for a couple of days without dropping. Today it has increased to 6.6, so it seems that the coral is working. My KH test kit still is reading very low (1 degree), but I'll give it some more time since I seem to be making some progress. And speaking of progress, I actually managed to talk my father into adding some coral to his filter as well. <Ahh!> I referred him to your site and our discussions; and I guess he realized that no matter how long you've been in this hobby, there's always something to learn. <Is so for me... and I am indeed an old timer in the trade, science and hobby> Thanks again for your help. I have been enjoying chatting with you. I will keep you posted on the progress of my tank, but I'm confident that the coral will serve the purpose. Michele <Bob Fenner>

About my goldfish, dis. & homeopathics... avoiding non "fixes" 10/23/07 My two new goldfish have recently been developing small white spots on their back fins and I was wondering if that might be Ich and if there is a homeopathy remedy that can cure that? If not what else would you suggest? Thanks for your help! Concerned Fish owner <Sounds like whitespot/Ick. No homeopathic remedy that I know of. Various tea-tree derivatives (Melafix, Pimafix, etc.) are on the market but they don't really work reliably. Avoid them. Don't mess about with this, because Ick is a killer. Go straight for medications that work. Your local retailer will have a variety based on copper and/or formalin. Do also review aquarium conditions -- fish get sick because of the aquarium, nine times out of ten. Review our articles on goldfish care. Cheers, Neale>

Melafix 9/27/07 Greetings all! <Neale> I answered a message today that included a comment along the lines of "Wet Web Media recommends Melafix for treating finrot". I'm very skeptical about Melafix. My experience of the stuff is that while it's a fine antiseptic for use preventatively, it isn't very reliable for treating infections once they've set in. Do others agree or disagree? What's the balance of opinion here? <Mmm, well... it seems that only Jeni is very gung-ho re this Melaleuca tea... Others here will give some mention to this products weak antimicrobial/germicidal effects... I am decidedly NOT a fan... Sensing that westerners are too quick to seize on simple solutions... too often deem such "remedies" as being (sure) cures... and too often losing livestock consequently... Really... if you or your loved ones were sick... would you serve them tea and be done w/ real medicine?> I'm not trying to push for a resolution one way or the other. I'm just curious to know if my opinion is in the minority, in which case I'll sit down and shut up! Yours etc., Neale <I look forward to a time when products in our interest will have to face real scrutiny... This and Pima- will surely be banned. Bob Fenner>

Methylene Blue 7/2/07 Dear WWM Crew, My Betta has been lethargic for a couple weeks with no outward signs of disease. I started treating him with daily doses of Pimafix and Melafix. I have also now noticed a couple of white specs on the side of his head. I am planning to give him a dip bath in Methylene Blue. Is it safe to do this while I am treating him with Pimafix and Melafix? Jean <Hello Jean. I'm a bit Old School about Pimafix and Melafix. I think they're massively overrated, and have heard far too many stories of people using them *instead* of traditional medications and their fish still getting sick. While they may well be excellent general purpose antiseptics that help keep external wounds clean, I can't see how they can treat internal problems. Whitespot, for example, lives under the skin and is isolated from any medications, which is why most treatments kill the free-living "baby" whitespot parasites rather than the adults you see on the fish. So my recommendation would be to go ahead and add some standard Methylene Blue to the Betta aquarium to fix the whitespot (as this sounds like what you have). Stop with the Pimafix and Melafix while treating the aquarium (mixing medications is somewhat unpredictable). Once the whitespot is fixed, you can go back to doing your Pimafix and Melafix routine, though to be honest you should need either if the aquarium has a proper filter, good water quality, etc. Using Pimafix and Melafix as a standard addition to an aquarium is essentially admitting the water quality in the tank is so bad its filled with pathogenic bacteria. Think of it this way: it would be as if you let your house fill with garbage and filth, but sprayed it with antiseptic so it'd be safe to live in. If you just cleaned the house and installed plumbing, you wouldn't need the antiseptic! This is one reason I abhor those horrid "betta bowls" you see sometimes, with 1 gallon of water and no space for a filter. These force people to keep Bettas on what's basically a live-support level maintenance regime of constant water changes and additions of antiseptics and other supplements like salt. If people just treated Bettas properly and gave them a nice 5 gallon tank with an air-powered sponge filter, problem solved: nice, robust, easy to keep fish. The irony is any money saved on a betta bowl compared to a sensible aquarium is more than frittered away over the long term on all those silly additives! Cheers, Neale.>

Blue Ahli - Sad Story. Electric Blue Treated With Melafix -- 06/15/07 I had the pleasure of stumbling onto your site after trying to do some research for something that was affecting my Blue Ahli. (Like that past-tense...?) Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any medication that could help the little guy out, and after 4 days of care the little guy passed on. But, I wanted to pass this information on in case you guys might have a solution and someone finds their fish are affected by a similar problem. I apologize for the large pictures, but I wanted some detail for myself, and didn't have Photoshop installed to reduce the quality/size for you. Nonetheless, here's my story: I put my 80 gallon tank back together (it's been dry for 2 years) about 2 weeks ago and purchased a couple of small Jack Dempseys, two small Green Terrors, and two small Firemouths to start the tank. I also purchased a ProClear 120 Wet/Dry filter to replace my old Emperor filter that I had on there. To start the tank of with some bacteria my local aquatics store offers what they call GO-Juice... it's essentially just the crud they squeeze out of a used fish filter sponge. Works quite well and I've used it before to start this tank off several years ago. Well, the six fish were doing fine, but after about 1 week, I went back to the store and noticed several Africans which caught my eye. Since the store owner and I have known each other for quite some time, I asked if I could trade in my juvenile South American Cichlids and get 4 Africans. "No problem, just get the pH up, and you should be fine." Well, this last Saturday, I traded in my Amazonians and bought two Venustus, one Bleekeri, and a Blue Ahli. In order to get them used to the difference in pH, I performed a drip over a 5 hour period into a 5 gallon bucket that they were in. The pH in Florida is kind of high anyways, from the tap it sits at around 7.8 and the tank was probably at 7.4, so I performed a 15% water change to the tank to increase the pH a bit more during the drip. When I was finished with the drip, (that included taking out 50% of the water after it filled the bucket, and running the drip some more) I put them into the tank and they appeared to do well and seemed to get accustomed to the tank quite well. To aid in waste removal, and since the filter at this point still really hadn't built up the ability to remove ammonia or nitrites, I decided to also add 4 plants; two Amazonian Swords, and two other freshwater plants that have an onion like bulb at the bottom and are long and leafy. It seems on Sunday all seemed to be doing well, and I was quite sure everything was going to be alright. On Monday, I got up in the morning to look at the fish, and I noticed that the Blue Ahli had a white "mark" near the top of his right gill (see attached pic 1) and he didn't eat any of the Cichlid pellets. I didn't think much of it and I went back to the store and asked the folks there what they thought I should do since the fish weren't so happy about the hard Cichlid pellets, so I picked up some Super Soft Frozen Food Alternative by HBH and I also picked up some Brine Shrimp. When I got back to the house, I noticed the Ahli just wasn't going after the new soft tasty looking pellets. Heck... he was not even interested in the Brine shrimp... not one bit! I immediately took one of my 5-gallon buckets and prepared it with a double dose of salt and dechlorinator. I put an airstone in there and then put the poor sap in the bucket. Well, I went back to work for a couple of hours, and then decided to go back to the aquatics store and get their opinion the situation and one of the clerks hands me some Maracyn. Thinking, wow that's pretty stringent, I decided to stop at a PetSmart on my way back home, and listened what the aquatics folks there had to say. They recommended a bottle of Melafix made by API Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Apparently this stuff is all natural and the aquatics clerk told me, it's what they use when they have problems with their fish. So, I decided to give this Melaleuca based (extracted from Tea Trees) stuff a try first. (Boy... it sure makes the water smell better... let's hope it works as well on the fish) After I put the Blue Ahli in the bucket, he seemed to pep up a bit and swim quite a bit more, so I thought this stuff should work quite nicely then. Tuesday... The Blue seems to be a lot more active, but no improvement in the physical condition. The white area now appears to have some redness in it, it's getting a bit fuzzy, and a patch of it seems to have developed near the poor guy's mouth. Well, I did a 10% water change to the water (since there wasn't a filter attached to the bucket), and re-dosed it with the Melafix and Lake Salt early in the morning. I figured that since he hadn't eaten in 2 days that the level of waste shouldn't be too bad, and I tested the water at 7.8, zilch on ammonia and nitrites... good to go I thought. Maybe this is just a part of the disease's stages... At lunch that Tuesday, I checked the Ahli... nope... seems to be little worse. Still active, but the infection seems to be spreading. I put in a 1/2 dose of the Melafix and a full dose of the Maracyn. I immediately busted out that old Emperor filter, cleaned it thoroughly and was looking around for something to put it on since I don't have an extra tank laying around. So, I found a 69 quart Rubbermaid plastic filing bin. I cleaned it thoroughly and set it up with some bagged aquarium sand I had sitting around (which I washed until the water came up clear) all in a two and half hour lunch period (I'm on Salary ok?!! :-) ). I also decided to stop by at the Aquatics store that evening and get the owners opinion about the Rubbermaid container vs. the Bucket. Well, he wasn't too happy about the fish's condition and he said that I was to use a half dose of this green and yellow capsule. He said the water will turn yellow which is a normal process. Keep the fish in the bucket, keep aerating it as I've been doing, don't change the water, salt it every morning with a normal dose, and bring him water samples. Well, that evening kept a close eye on the water. The temp was staying at around 80 - 81F and the chemicals hadn't changed either... 7.8, 0, 0. Lets see what the poor guy looks like Wednesday morning... Wednesday morning came around... not looking good for the poor guy... quite active, not darting aimlessly, just more active than when he was in the 80 gallon tank. But, the whole right side of his head was now affected! So, I changed 10% water, dechlorinated the added water, added a little salt... not much, and put in another dose of Maracyn. Lunch-time... no change, he seemed to be breathing in and out some skin from his lips now and along with his eye getting a little cloudy from the infection... looked quite sad really. Didn't make me feel good either. Even the water's edge on the bucket had a reddish tinged buildup on it... like his flesh was just liquefying and floating to the top. That evening... not much better. Checked water temp, chemicals... normal. I then had enough and popped in 1/2 of that green/yellow capsule, no more Melafix! Let's see if there's improvement the next morning. Today... Thursday. Woke up... checked the fish. Yellow water, reddish residue/buildup near the water level. Man... I'm not feeling good about today. I called the aquatics store and asked if the owner was around because I wanted to get his opinion about putting the fish down and out of his misery... well he wasn't there and the clerk advised me that he didn't think that the owner would want me to put him down just yet. "Call back in an hour or so... he should be back from lunch." So, I went home for lunch myself... as I was sitting at the computer, I hear splashing from the bucket every now and then. Didn't think much of it... maybe he's just getting restless in that bucket. A half hour later... more splashing. I got up and checked the bucket... he was darting about upside down before I got close to the bucket, and when I stood over it, he stopped. Lifeless. I got a net, pulled him out of the bucket, took my last few pictures (also attached) and was quite amazed with the speed of which this "disease" hit... and the fact that his anal region looked ulcerated...? I'm thinking Mouth Rot that progressed to the insides? I'm not quite sure... The other fish in the 80 gallon... watching them like hawks and they seem to be doing just fine. I make sure not to overfeed them, just trying to prevent The Bloat and excess waste. I feed them once a day now, ever since the Blue got affected by the disease... I was feeding once in the morning, once at lunch, and then at night... small doses. Now, just enough for each fish, like 1 - 2 pellets each. The Venustus are about two inches each, the Bleekeri is about 3 inches long and they are a joy to watch and feed. Just too bad the Ahli didn't have the same success these guys did... Anyways, there's my book and I'm sticking to it. Maybe this story will help some other individuals with a similar issue and hopefully this'll provide a better outcome for them. Do you guys have any insight on this situation? < Your Sciaenochromis ahli is an open water fish predator from Lake Malawi. I suspect that during a fight or being chased he injured himself on something in the tank. The wound got infected and a secondary fungus infection set in. These fish are actually quite delicate as far as these cichlids go. The stress from his injury and the high water temps caused him to probably bloat up. So now you had two problems. An internal and external infection. Although some people swear by it, I have heard that Melafix works better as a general tonic then as an actual cure for most diseases. I would of recommended placing the fish in a hospital tank with clean water at 75-77 F. Treat with both Metronidazole for the internal infection and treat the external infection with a full dose of Nitrofuranace.-Chuck> Other than that... you guys provide a great resource and you've helped me be more aware of treatment methods and medications. Regards, Mark

No tea please.

Melafix, and Re: ongoing Af. cichlid prob. -- 06/19/07 Hello WetWebMedia, <Mmm, well just one person...> I recently had a question that was answered by Chuck and I thank you for the input. I have a question about Melafix by API Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Mainly, what have you heard about Melafix, do you recommend the use of it, and how would you use it, if at all? <There are some of us here who endorse this Melaleuca extract for various purposes, in some situations... I am NOT one of them though> The reason being that recently I had a Blue Ahli in my 80 gallon display tank that unfortunately may have had mouth rot, or as Chuck stated some type of secondary fungal infection. When I first spotted a whitish spot on the fish I immediately separated the fish from the main tank and tried treating him with aquarium salt, 15% regular water changes, 80F water temperature, Melafix, Maracyn and another antibiotic. (I had him in a bucket because that's all I had). Unfortunately the Blue Ahli did not make it. Here's my concern: The remaining fish in my 80 gallon tank, a Bleekeri and two Venustus, seemed to be doing fine during this whole Ahli ordeal. But, I was monitoring one of the Venustus for frequent scratching on some flat rocks that I had in the tank. Over a period of 3 days, the scratching became quite frequent. I watched the chemicals in the main tank and the bucket religiously to monitor for 8 pH, zero NO2 and Ammonia. I did have a little bit of a spike in ammonia in the big tank, but I resolved this with a 15% water change. )I believe that there weren't enough nitrifying bacteria in the tank) Well, the one Venustus continued to scratch himself, and I've finally resolved myself to separating him from the group also. This time he's in a 69 quart Rubbermaid container with some sand and rocks, a filter, and a heater. I have resolved myself to start treating him with a light dose Maracyn over then next week. As far as the main tank is concerned, should I use Melafix just to keep the tank in good condition or prevent possible infection? I have perform 10% water changes on the tank every night so far. The tank looks clear, the chemicals appear fine. Do you have any suggestions for the separated Venustus and/or the Bleekeri and Venustus in the main tank? (They appear healthy and quite happy). Thanks again for all your input, I would just hate to lose the Bleekeri since he/she is such a charming fish. Mark Wolf <I really only have two comments to make. If you were ill yourself, would you first or even treat yourself with a leaf extract (of no known therapeutic value)? And secondly, have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisfaqs.htm

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