Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Platy Diseases/Health 5

FAQs on Platy Disease: Platy Disease 1, Platy Disease 2, Platy Disease 3, Platy Disease 4,Platy Health 6, Platy Health 7, Platy Health 8, Platy Health 9, Platy Health 10, Platy Health 11, Platy Health ,
FAQs on Platy Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

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

Related FAQs: Platies 1, Platies 2, Platy Identification, Platy Behavior, Platy Compatibility, Platy Selection, Platy Systems, Platy Feeding, Platy Reproduction, Livebearers, Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies,

Platy Swollen Anus Region/Lethargic (Resending with Smaller Pic)
I'm so sorry about the previous message with huge photos. I'm trying again.
<Err... from one extreme to the other... This photo is tiny! Can't speak for Windows, but on a Mac running OS X 10.5, simply open your image in Preview, start by outlining the important part of the image using the
Select tool from the menu bar. Command-K will crop the image down. Then choose Adjust Size under the Tools menu, and then select something sensible in terms of image size, e.g., 72 dpi, around 400-600 pixels up and across.
I presume Windows and other operating systems have similar tools and programs.>
Hi. I have a Platy that has a red swollen anus with what appears to be something stuck in the opening that seems to be keeping the region open.
<Could be a variety of things, but Camallanus worms are most likely. These look like red threads that poke out of the anus. Unlike most other worm infections that cannot become established under aquarium conditions, Camallanus can, by using the ubiquitous near-microscopic crustacean hosts present in the gravel.>
She is not swimming (staying at top or bottom of tank) for the past couple of days. I'm trying to figure out if this is constipation or some type of bacterial infection and how to treat.
<If Camallanus, that's a nematode worm infection, and you'll need a specific medication, Levamisole hydrochloride. Ask your retailer specifically for this, and use as indicated on the packaging. The common
worm medication Praziquantel, e.g., PraziPro, DOES NOT work on Camallanus worms, so don't buy this; you specifically need Levamisole.>
I've made some changes to my feeding the tank recently. I realized I had been feeding the Platies improperly (no greens, regular flake food). I had noticed they had whitish color faeces, some normal brown and some that are brown and white. So five days ago, I switched them to Spirulina flake as a staple. About four days ago I gave the tank 1/2 cube of frozen brine shrimp and three days ago I made the mistake of dropping in two algae wafers for the catfish and did not remove till I got home from work.
<Nothing here sounds dangerous.>
By that time, all my Platies had gorged themselves on the wafers. So I stopped feeding the tank, except for a few peas a couple of days ago.
Yesterday I did try feeding the lethargic Platy a mushed pea from tweezers.
She took a bite, spit it out and swam off. One of my other Platies gobbled what I dropped and that Platy seems to have bloated right back up.
<If the worms are the problem here, the food is not really a factor, though as ever, a sensible diet and good water quality improve the chances of recovery.>
40 Gallon
12 Corydoras (added 6 of these in past week with no quarantine)
6 Platies (1 is two months old) (added 2 of these in past week with no quarantine)
pH 7.4
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 20
Temp 78 degrees (recently adjusted this from 75, but I may have just been confused that this can help if they are constipated)
<Slightly on the warm side for Platies and indeed Corydoras; both species prefer slightly cool conditions, around 24 C/75 F being ideal.>
The particular Platy that is swollen in her anus region is the one Platy that my one male Platy obsesses over. I put him in a breeder net yesterday for a few hours to give her a break as she obviously is not feeling well and he has since backed off. My concern is my Platies have some type of infection or parasite and she, being weakened by the constant male attention, is getting sicker at a faster rate and my others will soon follow. She is not passing any faeces that I can discern. This morning she started to shake back and forth from time to time.
The other Platies are active but their faeces is still off and on whitish.
<Wouldn't worry overmuch about this, but mucous-rich faeces are whitish in colour and can indicate parasitic infections causing irritation to the intestines.>
Can you advise from the information I've given and the pictures of her what you think is going on and how I should proceed?
Thank you,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Platy Swollen Anus Region (for Neale, bigger pics) 4/8/09

I'm so sorry Neale, I know this is annoying. I'm annoyed with myself. I recently uploaded Picasa and don't know what I'm doing with it, I can't look at any photos except through it. Anywho, here is a bigger pics at 480 pixels.
<Pictures are a fine size... but the Platy itself is a bit small within those photos to see much. I'd recommend you Google "Camallanus" and have a look at what you find. Compare with the Platy swimming about. Camallanus worms are quite common among livebearers for one reason or another.
Presumably the way they're raised on farms?>
If they don't give you a different idea than the worms, I'm off to find the specific meds.
<If Camallanus seems likely, do medicate as mentioned last time around.>
Thank you so much.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy Has Swollen Anus Region/Lethargic 4/8/09

Hi Neale. Third time is a charm. I learned how to crop. I included one picture with several Platies so you have the pleasure of seeing their poo.
<I see...>
Looking on the internet, I don't think she looks like the pictures of "Camallanus" I found. I don't see any red stringy worms at all. It almost seems to me to be an injury? I feed the tank some flakes and she tried to eat some.
<Now, this is helpful. This looks like a prolapsed anus. Does occasionally occur in fish. Essentially a reaction caused by some type of bacterial or protozoan infection of the gut. Metronidazole (for Protozoans) and Nitrofurazone (for bacteria) seem to be the drugs of choice here, used together. This direct treatment of the pathogens in the gut should clear up the problem, allowing the anus to recover. Epsom salts at 1 to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons is a useful supplement, acting as am muscle relaxant.>
The LFS I went to did not have Levamisole and I was given some Paracide D (from their reserves, they didn't charge me). I looked it up though and it says it is toxic to fry (I have several 2 day old fry right now) and more of a last resort. I did find a Jungle medicated food that has Metronidazole and Levamisole but it was empty when I opened at home. Maybe a good thing since I really don't know what is going on.
Trying to remain calm,
<Hope this helps. For what it's worth, this syndrome tends to heal quite
well, at least among large fish such as cichlids. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Platy Has Swollen Anus Region/Lethargic 4/9/09
Hi Neale, Thank you so much.
<Most welcome.>
Should I treat all the fish for the bacteria and Protozoans or just her?
<Treat the whole tank. Won't cost any more, and will save you having to set up a hospital tank.>
If one fish has these things, do all the fish?
<Certainly possible, though the degree of "catchiness" I'm sure varies between different bacteria and protozoan parasites.>
All the other fish are still having funky poo, in my not expert opinion.
<Ah, may well be the beginnings of what's happened to this particular Platy fish.>
And if I treat the main tank, will the Epsom salts be okay for the Corydoras temporarily?
<Won't cause any problems at all. Epsom salt is widely used as a therapy, and in the short term at least, seems to be tolerated very well by most fish. Corydoras are hardy fish anyway, and provided they're not too warm, they seem to put up with almost anything.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Urgent - pls help...I have a male platy, who has been listless, no data of use, reading -- 04/07/09
lying at the bottom of the tank, and has clamped fins. when he moves, it's in strange little movements, not swimming. I moved him into a smaller container (tiny 1 gallon) as an emergency solution,
with aeration and a heater, and medicated his water
<With what?>
for parasites, and he improved slightly, but after about 24 hours, he went back to being listless. he is eating, but is getting very weak. I decided to put him back into the larger tank (25 gallons)
and see if he improves. I have dosed a second time with parasitic medication. I have no other fish that are listless, but have lost a few fish over the last month. is this parasites, or could it be Ich.
<... Ich is a parasite>
I do change the water regularly, and have several live plants, and a good quality heater and filter system. the tank is well established.
any help would be greatly appreciated.
<As would useful data... Need info. re the make-up of this system, tankmates, history of operation, water quality tests, foods, feeding...
Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Identify illness... FW 4/1/09
Hi, I'm afraid I don't have time to go thru all the research to find what I'm looking for, sorry.
<Oh? Let me cut to the chase here: On the page where you got our e-mail, there's a link to an article on common problems, here:
Item Number 4 on that list of problems is likely relevant here. There's also a quick guide to diagnosing disease, here:
The reason I'm explaining this is that everyone thinks their time is valuable and their needs are important (I really should press on and make my breakfast) so if you're anxious for a quick solution rather than a fun chat with a fish expert, 5 or 10 minutes spent on the site could well have led to the answers you needed. We have a Search tool, and simply looking up Platy and Finrot would have come up with lots of useful information as well.>
A platy that I've had for 1 1/2 years, has become sick. A couple of white spots, some grey spots, top fin is frayed (rot).
<Treat for Finrot/Fungus, using something like eSHa 2000 or Seachem ParaGuard but not Melafix, Pimafix, or salt.>

eating, spending time on bottom, breathing hard.
No sudden changes in water values, stress caused in Dec/Jan when new tank set up, transferred from 10 gal to 29 gal. Gradually added pearl Gourami and silver tipped tetras (5 of them, 4 gouramis). 2 other adult platys, a few juveniles. Ammonia at 0. other values within normal limits, except pH and hardness on low sides. Live plants.
<Not sure what "normal limits" are. Ammonia is zero, which is good, but also nitrite should be zero as well. Just as critical is the pH/hardness; livebearers invariably need hard, alkaline water. The addition of "tonic
salt" or "aquarium salt" won't do anything to raise either pH or hardness, so while some people recommend this, it's actually pointless. You should have a pH around 7.5-8, and the hardness should be above 10 degrees dH, and ideally 15+ degrees dH. Often it's easiest to add a certain amount of Malawi cichlid salt mix. Luckily for you, I did have the time to go through all the research and dig up a recipe. Since you have other fish in the tank, I'd probably use one-quarter to one-third the dosages recommended for Malawi cichlids, though the Platies themselves would positively thrive at the full dosage. So per 5 gallons/20 litres add:
1/4th to 1/3rd teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1/4th to 1/3rd tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
1/4th to 1/3rd teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Alternatively, you could go buy some Malawi salt mix, and add it at 1/4th to 1/3rd the recommended dose quoted on the packaging. Test the water with your water chemistry test kits to see how things look. Note the use of marine salt mix isn't the same thing as cooking salt or tonic salt; marine salt mix contains other things besides sodium chloride.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: identify illness (Platypoecilia; health) 4/1/2009

Thank you for getting back to me- FYI, I had spent about 45 minutes trying to research info on fish diseases the night before, including your site, but after awhile, it got confusing, especially since it is so hard to
identify what is actually wrong with my the platy.
<Ah, good to see you did some research. Wasn't clear from your message, and before my first cup of tea, I'm a little cranky and sometimes go off on tangents...>
(My days have been exceptionally long this week so not much extra time).
<Sorry to hear that.>
I thought he might have fin rot, and some spots, but none of the descriptions I've read really seem to match.
<The thing with Finrot is that it's a catch-all description, a bit like what we'd call a "fever" or a "virus". Essentially Finrot happens when otherwise harmless, even beneficial, bacterial in the environment are able
to overwhelm the fish's immune system. Just like us, fish have an immune system that constantly kills off bacteria that come into contact with their body. In the case of fish, the first symptoms are usually bloody patches on the fins where veins have become blocked by dead blood cells and dead bacteria; signs of the "war" of sorts that's going on.>
Maybe I need a magnifying glass. I printed your email and took it to the fish store, which is PetSmart. They didn't have any of the meds you suggested.
<Too bad; do try shopping online, or reviewing a phone directory for other aquarium stores in the neighbourhood. Actually, the brands don't matter, provided the medication is appropriate.>
I had originally bought Lifeguard all in one, but read it's not that effective.
<Indeed not; one of those "jack of all trades, master of none" medications.>
So today bought API brand Fungus cure (Victoria Green and Acriflavine) and Mardel brand Maracyn(erythromycin)
<Both should work here, and indeed should be safe to use together. Excellent choices.>
I also bought Oceanic brand Natural Sea Salt Mix. Not sure if that's going to work.
<This is a salt mix for use in marine aquaria. It is also superb for use with livebearers, which will thrive in the raised pH and hardness levels, and for whatever reason also seem to benefit from a slight salinity. But do
note that other types of fish may be less tolerant. Guppies, Mollies and Swordtails will all be fine with a little salt, but soft water fish, such as Neons and South American catfish, may be (will be) less happy. Do get
back to be if you have questions about the other fish in the system, if there are other species.>
My guess is I won't save this platy, but do want to get the pH and hardness right.
<Precisely. But I hope your Platy will recover.>
All the other values were WNL.
<Be careful here; some test kits suggest 0.5 mg/l nitrite or ammonia are "safe"; they're not.>
thanks again
<My pleasure, and good luck. Neale.>
Re: identify illness (Platypoecilia; health) 04/03/09

Neale, now that I have a little more time, thank you very much for your help.
<Most welcome.>
Having been on many other fish websites, I have found this one to have the most useful information.
<Nice of you to say this.>
And really appreciate the time everyone takes to respond to individual emails...how do you all do it?
<It's a team effort, and Bob's created something here that we all believe in.><<Siaynoq! We share! RMF>>
But since you are offering, 2 more questions. How does one gently euthanize a fish?
<Do see here:
Also, I do have 3 pearl Gourami, 5 tetra and 1 Siamese algae eater. Will they be affected by the increased pH etc? (I know you mentioned the tetra's wont' but I don't like them either (too darty around the tank... silver tipped tetra). The Gourami I would like to keep.
<Provided the pH stays at or below 8.0, you should be fine with most any community fish. There are one or two exceptions, such as Cardinal tetras and Ram cichlids, but for the most part, fish are more fussed about a stable pH than its precise value. On the other hand, if you raise pH and salinity at the same time, e.g., by using marine salt mix, that will stress freshwater fish in the long term, and isn't advised. Do contrast Malawi
"cichlid" salt mixes (which raise pH and carbonate hardness) with marine salt mixes (which raise pH, carbonate hardness, and salinity). With Platies, you want to raise pH and carbonate hardness; it's carbonate
hardness that steadies the pH and makes livebearers across the board feel happy. Raising the salinity won't harm livebearers, but it will stress other types of freshwater fish (with a few exceptions) so I'd always
recommend using a Malawi salt mix rather than marine salt mix for general community tanks. Usually a 1/4th to 1/3rd dosage of Malawi salt mix is ample: you're not trying to create full Lake Malawi conditions, just
something a little harder and more alkaline than normal.>
Thanks, have a great weekend.
<Likewise, enjoy yours. Neale.>

White spots on Platy, 3/24/09
I have 6 Platies and I have noticed little white spots on 3 of them. the spots are really small but are on the fishes tail, and on one of the fish it is nearly all over. What is this? And what can I do?
<Sounds like freshwater Ich, Ichthyophthirius multifilius.>
Is this white spot problem and do I need to treat it with medication?
<Most likely some treatment is needed, see here for options
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .>
The fish do not seem to be acting any different?
Re: White spots on Platy, 3/24/09

Chris thank you for your reply. The article was useful.
I have anti white spot plus treatment and have added this to the aquarium. Is this potentially damaging to the fish that might not be infected?
<Not familiar with this product and can not determine what is in it from their website, does the packaging list its active ingredients? All fish in the tank are infected, some are just not symptomatic. If this is potentially dangerous treatment or not I could not tell you, however treating the main tank is generally a bad idea, especially if invertebrates are involved.>
In terms of the disease spreading, is this likely and can it be prevented?
<No, an aquarium is about the perfect environment for Ichthyophthirius multifilius, once it is introduced it quickly infects all fish in the tank.>
I mean by isolating the fish, by say putting them in a breeder net would this prevent the others from getting it?
<Would not stop this microscopic parasite.>
Or do you need to isolate in a different tank?
<Ideally all fish would be removed from the main tank to a hospital tank for treatment while the main runs fallow, denying the parasite its host and breaking its lifecycle.>
Also how quickly should it take before I notice the white spots to disappear?
<Usually cycles off in a few days, but will reappear again without proper treatment, often more virulent than before.>

Sick Platy 3/20/09
One of my orange platy fish is sick and I was wondering if you could help me diagnose the problem. He is about one and a half years old and he was one of my older platy's babies. I began to notice that he was not acting as he usually does early last week; he was hiding a lot.
<Do, as always, review environmental conditions. The vast majority of fish problems come down to environment rather than disease. Specifically, check the tank isn't too warm (Platies prefer 23-25 degrees C), that the water is hard and alkaline (10+ degrees dH, 5+ degrees KH), and that the water has a basic pH (7.5-8). Also check water quality; ammonia and nitrite should both be zero. Consider whether there are any possible toxins that could be poisoning the fish; paint fumes for example. Diet is another factor; Platies are herbivores and need a diet rich in greens. Herbivore flake is a good start. Don't use standard fish food more than a couple of times per week, or constipation is a likely result. Finally, consider social
behaviour; male Platies are aggressive towards one another, and in tanks 20 gallons or smaller in size, they won't tolerate one another. Bullying will occur, and eventually the weaker male will become stressed, and from there, it's a short step to disease and death.>

After a couple of days of he seemed to get better; he began swimming around more and hiding less. Yesterday, however he became much worse. He began lying on the bottom of the tank on his side and gasping for breath.
But when I fed them that night he got off the floor and began to eat. He seemed to struggle while he was swimming, sort of like he couldn't keep his balance or was tired, but it was at the normal speed.
<All very nebulous. Could be anything. Review what I have stated above, and then get back to me.>
Today I fed them and again he got off of the bottom of the floor and tried to eat but he didn't seem to get any food. It was like he was trying to find food but couldn't or when he did find food he would try to eat it and not be able to get it into his mouth. After a couple minutes he gave up and went back to lying on the floor of the tank.
Today, just recently, I put him into a breeding net so I could get a closer look and to make sure the other fish didn't bother him...
<Breeding traps tend to increase stress, and I've rarely seen a sick adult fish come out of one better than it went in!>
I tried to find as many observations that could help I could and I'll try to describe him as much as I can.
-He seems very thin, but he has always been pretty thin to begin with.
-When he lies on his side his head is elevated and the rest of him is lying flat on the ground, crooked looking.
-He seems to have trouble breathing.
-His dorsal fin is no longer up but instead it is flopped over when he lying down/ down when he is swimming. All other fins are normal.
-He has a pine-coned appearance where his scales are lifted on the top of his body but not on the sides/bottom. I know this is a sign of Dropsy but he is not bloated which I read caused the lifting of the scales...
-All of the other fish seem to be acting normally.
Thank you so much for your time.
<Nothing much I can suggest without you first giving me data on the environmental issues discussed above: tank size, water quality/chemistry, social behaviour, temperature. Tell me these things, and I can try and help some more. Cheers, Neale.>

2 of my male Platies died 3/14/09
hello my name is mark. I wanted to ask for your opinions as I woke this morning to find 2 of my Platies had died. I am worried as another 2 seem to be acting strange also, they seemed to float at the top of the tank and seemed to hardly swim around. the tank now (after the deaths) consists of 4 Platies, 5 zebra Danios and 3 fancy goldfish and a black moor. there is no aggression in the tank and everyone seems to get on. I did recently move the fish to a new larger tank and wondered whether the new gravel or something could be a problem? please could you help as I want to save any more deaths. regards mark
<Hello Mark. Platies are livebearers, and that means they need hard, alkaline water. In soft/acidic water they are delicate and disease-prone.
So that's the first thing to check. Water quality needs to be good, zero ammonia and nitrite in particular, and water temperature should be moderate; about 24 degrees C (75 F) is about right. Danios and Goldfish will enjoy similar conditions, so you're lucky here that your mix of animals should all get along. You don't mention the size of the tank though. Unless this tank is above 30 gallons in size, you're unlikely to have adequate conditions to maintain these fish properly. Let me have some details on the size of the aquarium, temperature, water quality and water chemistry and we can discuss in depth. In the meantime, review livebearer care generally, here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 2 of my male Platies died 3/14/09

Neale, thank you for your fast reply. my tank is roughly 100litres - its 32" long I think and 16" high and 12" deep.
<On the small side for Goldfish plural, and certainly in combination with other fish. Once Goldfish get above about 10 cm/4 inches, they become seriously messy fish that play havoc with water quality.>
I have not checked the water as I'm not sure entirely how I should do this.
<Test kits. At minimum, have a pH test kit and a nitrite test kit. A carbonate hardness ("KH") test kit is useful but not essential.>
although do have tap water conditioner and flora boost aquarium treatment which I have used to try and settle the water.
<OK. The flora boost is a waste of time though, given Goldfish eat plants.>
and likewise I have added aqua tonic salt.
I have only had the Platies in this tank for 4 days but before they all were fine in a smaller tank of 63 litres.
<Borderline useful for Platies.>
of the remaining 4 Platies 3 are female and 1 left is male, and I fear that this male (again male) is acting strange and seems to float at the top of the tank, it doesn't seem to go down often though is quite keen to fight for food, though it floats and allows the filter to just force it backwards.
<Hmm... could be constipation I suppose, since these are herbivores that should receive lots of greens. Cooked peas and spinach are the old favourites, but algae-based flake food is good too. But I'd suspect water quality issues because of the Goldfish.>
any more suggestions? kind regards mark
<Do read the WWM page sent last time, and in particular have a look over the pages about Platy health, diet and maintenance. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 2 of my male Platies died 3/14/09

Thanks again Neale. I will try and get these nitrate and ph test kits tomorrow.
<Nitrite. With an "I". Nitrate is something else.>
With regards to the fish acting strange now, would you advise removing it from the tank, I do actually have a small tank which has 12 platy fry in it, though my worry would be if this fish would eat the babies?
<Hmm... if he's sick, chances of him eating a baby fish are minimal.>
Are males prone to eating fry? and do females also eat them?
<Varies. If well fed and in a tank with plenty of floating plants, most babies are ignored. But no, they have no "parental instinct" at all since in the wild the baby fish move away from where the adults are. So there's no need for them to evolve an instinct that tells them not to eat a baby fish.>
Its just the fish is floating around at the top of the tank and I really worry tomorrow morning it will be next. thank you for your help.
<Not much to be done now. Perhaps move the sick male if he's been harassed by the other fish, or pushed around by the water current. Otherwise leave him as he is, observe, pray to the fish gods. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy fish excreting white stuff 2/14/09 Hi Crew; My platy fish is excreting a lot of white stuff from his/her lower region. They are like strings about and inch and a half long that do not fall off right away. It looks like it could be waste but it is white and there is a lot of it. The fish looks bigger so she could be pregnant. This has been going on for about two weeks and I have no idea what is wrong with the fish. He/she seems active and healthy. Thanks for your help! Joni <I'm assuming that the white stuff you are talking about are faeces. Under certain situations, such as gut irritation, the intestine produces excessive amounts of mucous, and these bulk out the faecal material, producing long, pale stringy faeces that often hang from the anus. My guess is that's what you're seeing here. The commonest problem with Platies is a failure to understand their needs. These are herbivores that should be fed ample green materials. Algae-based flake (Spirulina flake) is a good staple, augmented with things like Sushi Nori, cooked or tinned peas, cooked spinach, and thinly sliced cucumber. Avoid feeding them standard flake foods and do not feed them freeze-dried anything, except maybe once a week, tops. Wet frozen bloodworms and live daphnia are both good supplements to their diet, live daphnia being an especially good laxative. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy help, dis. 1/14/09 Hi- <Hello.> I have a platy that I have had since I started my tanks over two years ago. He was doing well until about two and a half months ago. He developed a white growth over one eye and part of his mouth. <Do check water quality and water chemistry. What you are describing is very common among livebearers, in part because they are acutely sensitive to nitrite/ammonia but also because drops in pH stress them intensely.> I originally moved him to a quarantine tank and treated with two rounds of antibiotics as well as two rounds of Lifeguard made by Jungle labs. <While the infection is likely bacterial, it isn't always easy to know if it is standard Finrot or what we call "Mouth Fungus", a bacterial infection also known as Columnaris. "Lifeguard" is one of those jack-of-all-trade medications that actually isn't all that reliable or effective in many cases. I'd instead focus on (in the US at least) running first with Maracyn and if that doesn't work with Maracyn 2, as between them these will deal with all the likely bacteria. In the UK and Europe I'd go with eSHa 2000, an antibacterial that works well against Finrot and Mouth Fungus. Regardless, it is critical to figure out the likely cause of the infection, because these sorts of things are almost always environmental at root. Platies need cool (around 23-24 C) water that is spotlessly clean, has a high pH (7.5-8.2), and above all else is nice and hard (15+ degrees dH). They tend to get sick in tanks where the pH varies and the hardness is low. High temperatures also stress them; at least once ancestor of the domesticated Platy is a species called Xiphophorus variatus, a subtropical rather than tropical fish. Warm water contains less oxygen, and this stresses fish, reducing their immune system effectiveness.> He did not improve much and was unhappy by himself. I put him back in my twenty gallon tank that he shares with a molly, platy. ghost shrimp and guppies. <Ah, these will all appreciate hard, basic water, so managing that aspect shouldn't be difficult. But I will make the point that Mollies tend to prefer a little more heat than Platies, though this isn't critical. To be honest, I'd be adding a certain amount (3-6 g) of marine salt mix per litre of water in this system. Marine salt mix will raise the carbonate hardness, ensuring stable pH and the right level of hardness. While Platies aren't brackish water fish by any means, they will tolerate small amounts just fine, and the benefits of elevated hardness and pH will be useful. Do note that "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt" has no effect on pH or hardness, so adding these to this aquarium would be a waste of money.> Whatever this is has progressed to the point that I can't even see his eye any longer. It doesn't seem to affect any of the other fish Please help Angie <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Female Platy Problem 1/2/08 Hello; First off, my lovely wag platy gave birth to 9 babies about a week ago (three were stillborn, so six are happily swimming in my fry tank with three other fry from my mm platy). <Stillbirths are typically caused by stress, for example by males chasing pregnant females. Or worse yet, Breeding Traps!> She is in a 20 gallon long with three other Platies: 1 mm female, 1 sunburst male, 1 sunburst dwarf male; and 1 swordtail male. Three small fancy goldfish share the space, as does one small clown Pleco. <No such thing as a "small" Goldfish; only a juvenile. Do understand that by the time these fish grow even by themselves they will massively overstock as 20 gallon system. By that I mean the water will be cloudy, water quality will be poor, and the fish much more prone to disease than otherwise. For Goldfish, there's really no logical argument for keeping them in anything under 30 gallons. Do always remember even fancy Goldfish top 20 cm / 8 inches in length.> Other than the goldfish bullying the Pleco a bit for his algae wafers (I generally put two in; one for them, one for him), all seem fine with each other. We're setting up a 20 gallon tall soon, and will move the swordtail to that one with additional stock. <"Tall" 20 gallon tanks are a waste of money. Remember, stocking depends on the surface area at the top in contact with the air. A tall tank has a smaller surface area than a long tank of identical volume. Moreover, Swordtails are high-speed fish from rivers, and do best in tanks with lots of swimming space. The only advantage to a tall tank is it is easier to decorate with tall plants. Beyond that, they are a total waste of money.> I do 25% water changes every Saturday, have an undergravel filter with two box filters, a small variety of live plants and driftwood. This tank has been set up (minus the swordtail) for about 4 months. I check the water after each change. Our well water has pH of 7.8, moderately alkaline. <Sounds fine for livebearers.> The problem with my wag: she's still plump, and her belly looks 'squared off' by her anal cavity. She is hiding, which is not normal behavior for this particular girl. This was her second birth in my tank (the goldfish ate the fry the first time, I'm guessing). She keeps one anal fin clamped to her body and is swimming quite slowly, and generally keeps low. <May well be stress; remove male livebearers (whether Platies or Swordtails) to another tank. Do also look out for signs of excessive mucous production, for example cloudiness on the face or flanks. Treat with a combination Finrot/Fungus medication such as eSHa 2000. The addition of marine salt mix at ~5-6 grammes per litre will benefit most livebearers by raising carbonate hardness and salinity slightly. Common aquarium or tonic salt is a far inferior treatment and not worth bothering with, frankly. The Clown Plec cannot be kept in the tank while salt is being used, but the Goldfish won't mind.> Otherwise, she appears healthy; her fins/scales appear normal, her eyes are clear. This morning she did not come up to eat. She has proved, in the past, to be an active, personable fish, and I'm trying to figure out what will help. Most I've seen about plump platy females on-line suggest pregnancy; could it be she's still pregnant, despite giving birth a week ago? <Yes; sometimes livebearers release fry over an extended period of days, even weeks.> Or is it a case of dropsy? <Scales will be erect if so, with distinctive "pine cone" appearance to fish when viewed from above.> Also, if this is the problem, would it hurt the fry to move her to that tank. (Fry tank is 3 gallons, with plenty of free-floating Anacharis, Amazon swords, driftwood, filter, 3 ghost shrimp) Thank you for your help and your incredibly informative site; it's usually the first site I go to for answers. This is the first time I was unable to find one in your FAQs! -hly <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Female Platy Problem 1/2/09
Thanks for the quick response Neale; <Most welcome.> I was quite concerned this morning, and did move her to the fry tank. I'm keeping the lights low to reduce her stress; she actually appears slightly relieved (if that expression is possible on a fish). <Yes, shade, even darkness, is what most fish prefer.> I'm keeping an eye on her for the rest of the day, and if there appears to be continued trouble, I'll be trying the method you suggested. Would the salt be hazardous to the fry? <Not harmful in the least. Platies tolerate salinity up to SG 1.005 rather well (that's about 9 grammes per litre) but 3-6 grammes per litre is a good therapeutic dose for fixing all kinds of problems, including Ick and even some fungal infections.> I *think* it could be she's not done giving birth, but was uncertain if Platies could hold for that long! Now that she's in the smaller tank, I see she's still a bit distended when viewed from behind; possibly explains the "squared off" appearance of her belly. <Indeed. Watch, and provide shelter so she's safe from nippy or aggressive tankmates.> Thanks for the goldfish advice as well; I'm already considering future set-ups to happily house them in the near future. As for the 20 gallon tall, I'm in near agreement, but the entire set-up is inherited. <Ah, I see. Well, you work with what you have! But do understand a "tall" tank may contain fewer fish, and preferably smaller species, than a "long" tank. So long as you understand the constraints, you won't go far wrong with either type of tank.> We'll be more mindful when housing it; I've been surfing the WWM site quite frequently for our options! -hly <Cheers, Neale.>

Platy with white mass on head 12/30/08 Hi, One of my orange Platys has a white mass above one of its eyes. It does not seem to be affecting its movement and it is eating normally, but the mass is getting larger. None of the other fish have acquired this, so I am assuming that it is not contagious. Any help on what this may be and possible treatment would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Megan <Most likely an opportunistic bacterial infection of the type often called "slime disease" for want of a better name, or perhaps Mouth Fungus (actually caused by a bacterium, Flexibacter columnaris). In any case, relatively easily fixed using a reliable antibiotic or antibacterial; in the US I'd recommend Maracyn (or Maracyn 2 if that doesn't work) while in Europe and elsewhere antibacterials such as eSHa 2000 will work. Salt and tea-tree oil potions will have minimal/zero impact, though dipping the fish for 2-20 minutes in full strength seawater can be a useful supplement (not an alternative) to the treatments recommended above. As ever, the basic cause is water chemistry or water quality issues. Obviously zero ammonia and nitrite levels are essential, but as with livebearers generally it is also critical for the water to maintain a steady, basic pH (7.5-8.0) thanks to a high level of carbonate hardness. Cheers, Neale.>

Dead platy 12/2/08 Hello again Neale. Hope you and your fishy friends are well. Here I am again..! Last time I contacted you I had treated my new tank for Whitespot, and had moved a harassed male platy to my new tank. A week ago I moved the remaining Platies in to the new tank. Immediately the other male started harassing the male that I had moved into the tank earlier. He once again took to hiding away, and would come out a bit but very wary of the other one - once I actually saw them fighting - fins up, swimming in circles around each other taking nips at each other. I haven't been able to get out and get some more females, but really 5 should be enough for the two of them? That said two are quite small still. Anyhow - today I found one of the males dead. He was kind of trapped between some bits of (plastic) plant. I tested the water and nitrite is at less than 0.3ppm, zero ammonia, and less than 20ppm nitrate. Yesterday he seemed OK, when he came out he was swimming about and eating, fins up (until he saw the other male, when he'd swim as fast as he could and hide) Could he have been harassed to death? There were no signs on the body of anything at all, a bit of a nip out of one fin (which could have happened post death I think) I am very reluctant to put my new additions in the tank (5 zebra Danios) in from the QT until I know there are no problems. Most other fish are fine. Only exception being one female platy who is also subject to harassment and frequently has her fins clamped and hides. She comes out for food and has her fins up then, but clamps them when the male is around. Frankly I think he's a bully! On the plus side we have a lot of fry! Can they be harassed to death? Wondering in a fishy manner... Sarah <Hello Sarah. Male Platies certainly can be aggressive towards one another. Mixed sex livebearer groups are honestly easiest kept either as one male with multiple females, or else in big groups (10+ specimens) of both sexes, albeit more females than males. Only a few species are truly gentle and gregarious, and none of the common species are! If you have 5 adults, with 2 of them boys, you're really not going to have peace and quiet unless the tank is big (30+ gallons) enough for them all to spread out. Can they fight to the death? Not directly, but certainly long term stress through one bullying the other can weaken another fish such that it doesn't get enough to eat, or becomes more sensitive to disease. I do regularly state this, but once again we'll make the point: livebearers are not "easy" fish despite their reputation. They're among the fish aquarists most regularly have problems with! The elevated level of nitrite is worrying, so I would go back and check what the cause might be -- too many fish, too much food, or inadequate filtration are all on the list of possibilities. If you have a lot of fry, do rear them as best you can, and then sell them on but keep at least some of the females. The more females in the group, the better they get along. Wild Platies essentially operate with females forming schools and males fighting over access. When we try to keep them as pairs or families, that's when the wheels come off the wagon! It's just not how they're wired. Wild Platies are smaller and brightly coloured, and consequently die younger than the females -- so everything about their psychology is about fighting rival males and mating with anything female in range! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dead platy 12/2/08
Hello! Just a quick one now as I have a small person in the bath..! I thought the nitrite was low - less than <0.3mg/l is the actual reading (getting muddled with my ppm / mg/l). This is the lowest on the scale on my Tetratest chart... I think I will get two more good sized more female Platies to pacify my male. We have maybe 10+ fry and they seem to get bigger and bolder by the day. Tank size is 180 litres (no idea in gallons) Thanks again for your super fast response. I do like the Platies, they have personalities... :) Thank you... Sarah <Hello again Sarah. I don't really understand your test kit: ordinarily there's either zero (safe) and everything else (not zero, not safe).180 litres (about 44 US gal.) is a good size for Platies, and you could easily keep a dozen or more alongside whatever fish you have in there. Cheers, Neale.>

Xiphophorus maculatus (health, diet) 10/12/08
I am just wondering if stringy feces are always sings of internal parasites. I have a Platy that has string like feces, but the she is acting as normal as she ever has! Thank you very much! You are always so helpful and the first I come to for my fish advice!
<While it possible that your Platy has a parasitic infection (such as Hexamita) that is irritating the gut wall and causing extra mucous to be produced, and so resulting in stringy faeces, that wouldn't be the first thing I'd worry about. No, instead review diet: Platies are herbivores, meaning they eat mostly plant material. In the aquarium this can be either algae (e.g., Sushi Nori) or else algae-based prepared foods (e.g., Spirulina flake). Most tropical fish foods (flakes, pellets, etc.) are formulated for carnivores, and lack the correct balance of fibre and vitamins herbivores need. How herbivorous fish react ranges from constipation (the probable issue here) through to extreme bad health (things like Head and Lateral Line Erosion). So, make sure you are using herbivore flake and not standard tropical fish food. And yes, herbivore foods are perfectly safe for use in mixed community tanks, and things like tetras and Corydoras will come to no harm at all eating them. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Xiphophorus maculatus (health, diet) 10/12/08

Thank you Neal. One last question, does this mean theoretically I could feed my Platy vegetables?
<Yes, though some vegetables are better than others! Cooked spinach, blanched lettuce, thinly sliced cucumber, tinned peas and cooked rice often work well with herbivores. Any "sea vegetable" sold in an Asian food market should be good, too, for example Sushi Nori. Herbivorous fish used to standard foods may turn their noses up at vegetables at first -- leave the veggies to soften up for a couple of days and don't feed the fish for the interim. All this said, standard issue herbivore flake or wet frozen foods may well be more balanced and easier to use.>
I have seen this in forums and such! Thanks! Marion
<Cheers, Neale.>

Platy with ?internal parasite 9/23/08
Hello, I am new to the fish hobby this year, but I have loved all the learning that being an aquarist has and continues to include! I recently bought three female platys to go with my male platy (a white tiger named Michael Phelps). The three "golden girls" went into a 10 gal QT since they are new with a heater, cycled sponge filter that is extra from another (healthy) tank, and bare-bottom with some decor for hiding in. PH is neutral, Amm, Nitrite, are 0, Nitrate 5, temp 78.5'F. They are the only three fish in the QT. Behaviourally, they are normal - active, feeding, one is definitely bossy, but the other two don't seem too stressed by it, no ragged fins, no apparent issues (to my novice eyes).
<All sounds fine, but I'd recommend turning the temperature down a little. Platies come from quite cool environments and thrive best between 22-25 C (72-77F). It's very common among fishkeepers to assume all tropical fish need the same temperature -- they don't.>
My husband and I watched the tank at the LFS for a while before selecting them. Unfortunately, when I got them home, I noticed white feces in the tank the next morning.
<Not necessarily a problem. If fish have been eating a lot of plant material, the faeces are often very pale. Mucous in the faeces caused by irritation can also make them look pale.>

I started researching right away, and it seems that usually this is caused by internal parasites. I had some Jungle parasite clear, which I dropped in the tank after watching to confirm that they were pooping white after being feed color-rich foods (algae wafers, bloodworms). After 5 days of Jungle Clear every other day, they were still behaving normally, but I had seen each of the three poop white, the bossy one the most. Also with her, her anus appears bright white on her sunset body (no other white spots/Ich). I don't know if this is nature or a symptom. My next step was to find a LFS with Prazi Pro after doing further research on the web. I have dosed with Prazi and even soaked some blood worms in 1-2 drops, which they ate, as many sources say that foods are the best way to clear internal parasites.
<You do need to be a bit more specific. "Internal Parasites" covers a lot of ground: you and I doubtless carry a few! Prazi Pro is specifically a treatment for "worms" (or more accurately, helminths). If the parasites involved are not helminths, then Prazi Pro will have no effect. Camallanus is the parasitic helminth that most commonly causes problems with domesticated livebearers. If you don't observe the tell-tale red worms emerging from the anus, and aren't witnessing dramatic weight loss despite a huge appetite, I'd tend to assume the problem isn't caused by worms.>
I am only in day 2 of the Prazi bath, but I noticed that the bossy lady continues to have bright white poop this morning. Also, I would like to mention that the poop is not always white, it is normal coloring (green, brown, tan) at times, but they excrete white feces at least 1x/day. What I haven't been able to find online is the life expectancy of the platy if they are infected, if they continue to eat and behave normally (active, no weight loss or other symptoms), is the white poop definitely a symptom of illness or just natural?
<Depends on the diet. Platies are herbivores, so their diet should be primarily algae-based flake, algae wafers, and sliced soft green vegetables such as cucumbers. Regular flake food and things like bloodworms should be used sparingly. Under such a regimen, their diet should be, frankly, mostly green-brown.>
When would I be able to determine that it is just natural and that it is safe to move them from QT to their permanent home (a spacious 29 gal that, with them, will have 5 platy and 1 LARGE beloved apple snail named Mr. Bubbles)? What about the issue of the white anus?
<I'd actually be wondering about Hexamita, a protozoan that is quite common among ornamental fish. It is best treated with a specific medication called Metronidazole:
Outside of the US you will need to get this with a prescription, though some over the counter medications exist, such as eSHa Hexamita in Europe. Hexamita parasites irritate the gut lining, causing excessive mucous production, producing characteristic white, stringy faeces. It's a common problem with cichlids, and may in fact be ubiquitous among ornamental fish, only becoming a problem when conditions get bad. Among cichlids it commonly appears when they are exposed to high levels of nitrate.>
It is a prominent white dot on the bossy one and mild on the other two. According to what I have read it would be red if it were inflamed, is that true? Finally, what about salt?
<Platies do not need, or want, salt.>
Can I use Prazi and salt at the same time?
<Both are irrelevant here in my opinion. Salt is certainly not required, and Prazi Pro only if you have some reason to confirm a helminth infection, which I do not believe is the case.>
All the info on Prazi says not to use with other meds, is salt considered at medicine?
<Salt is not considered a medicine in this context.>
Would a salt dip help an internal problem?
I can still return the golden girls to the LFS, as they have a prolonged return policy, but I am already attached. I appreciate your time and attention and any tips you can give me to help make sure the platy are healthy and that nothing bad is introduced to my 29g tank. Thanks in advance, Sara
<Do review Hexamita, Metronidazole, and act accordingly.
Do also review the needs of Xiphophorus maculatus and ensure you are providing the correct conditions and diet. Besides water conditions, Hexamita problems are triggered or exacerbated by poor diet, particularly when herbivores aren't given their greens.
Hope this helps.>
Further details about the feces: they at times hang on for 1-3 inches, at times break off very short (I think I have been overfeeding them a little bit in my exuberance to make sure they are healthy and my obsession with seeing what color they are excreting). I have not noticed any movement in the feces, occasionally there is almost a single fine thread to be seen at the end of the feces. I have looked at them when they are sleeping (not moving) and do not see any worms hanging from the anus (I read that Camallanus worms hang out at rest, so I don' t think they have that). The diameter of the feces changes each time they excrete, sometimes it is thin/stringy, other times thicker, there don't seem to be a lot of air bubbles or other issues (feces fairly uniform in color/texture). Hope this helps!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Platies (health; environment?) 9/21/08
I had two Platy's, one male, one female. The female just dies yesterday, and I believe it dies in labor by its behaviors the previous day, but am not sure.
<Very unlikely; fish don't go into "labour" in anything like the same way as humans. The baby fish just come flying out the hole there, with little stress on the mother. On the other hand, the females are easily stressed when pregnant by bullying males and poor water quality. So those are the things to check.>
My male Platy has been acting strangely. It has been darting around the bowl and when I put any food in the bowl at all, the fish darts for the food and practically inhales it. He has been acting this way for about a week, so both before and after the death of the female.
<I'm a bit concerned by the word "bowl" which is anathema to sensible fishkeeping. Platies CANNOT be kept in bowls. They need filtered, heated (around 22-25 C) tropical aquaria at least 20 gallons in size. The water must be hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH 7.5-8.0). Platies cannot be kept in "Nano" tanks 10 gallons or smaller, and they cannot be kept in unheated tanks. So, review the environment: that is by far the most likely reason this fish died. Almost always, mystery fish deaths come down to environment. Darting about looking nervous is a classic symptom of a fish that feels stressed by its environment. If you're confused about the habitat you've created for your fish, get back in touch, describing the system, and we'll comment on whether or not it's suitable.>
I am just wondering if this seems typical of any diseases or illness. I appreciate your help so much. Your team is very knowledgeable, rapid in response, and overly helpful!
<We're glad to help!>
Have a wonderful day! Marion
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sunburst Platy no longer has a bulging belly 9/8/08
Hi, I have a 30 gallon tank with 2 sunburst platys. I used to have 3, but one recently died. I noticed that over time, the one that died developed a "flat" belly. It used to be plump and happy. The other two during the time were plump and happy as well. But now, a second platy has developed the "flat" belly and is starting to wrinkle up. Any idea what this is and how to resolve it? Thanks!
<Hello. Nine times out of ten, when a succession of fish sicken and die, especially where the symptoms are as generic as this, the issue is water chemistry and/or water quality. Your 30 gallon tank should be perfect for Platies, so overcrowding isn't an issue (assuming that's all that's in there). But Platies are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so we have to make sure that this tank has a fully cycled filter. Cycling _isn't_ leaving the tank empty for a week before adding fish, but providing the filter bacteria with a source of ammonia. If this is a brand new tank and you've added Platies as your first fish, then you have to be extremely careful what you do. Don't feed more than one very small meal per day. Change 25-50% of the water every day or two. Use a nitrite test kit to ensure the nitrite level stays as close to zero as possible, and certainly no more than 0.5 mg/l (sometimes written 0.5 ppt). Cycling a brand new tank takes about 4-6 weeks, after which you will see the nitrite stays at zero, and you can switch to changing 25-50% of the water weekly. Next up, water chemistry. Platies need hard, basic water; aim for pH 7.5, 10-20 degrees dH. In soft water areas, adding a small amount of marine salt mix (not "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt") will make your Platies much healthier and less disease-prone. Finally, temperature is an issue. Platies need warm but not hot water; around 22-2F degrees C is fine. Do read here:
If you're still unable to figure out what's wrong, get back to us with data about your system (in particular nitrite and pH) and we'll talk further.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sunburst Platy no longer has a bulging belly 9/10/08

Thanks for the reply. I did a test with a 5-1 test strip by Tetra and the following are the results:
Nitrate - 50ppm

Nitrite - 0ppm
Hardness - 180 to 280ppm
Alkalinity - 50 to 100ppm
pH - 6.4

Temp - 80F
<Ah, here's at least part of the problem: the water is acidic. Platies need basic water. You need to find a way to raise the carbonate hardness or stabilise the pH ay around 7.5. Various commercial water additives will "buffer" the pH at 7.5 for you, and if you prefer not to get involved with water chemistry manipulation, that might be the way forward. If the only fish in the system are livebearers, you could also add a small amount of MARINE salt mix (not tonic salt or aquarium salt). Marine salt mix contains lots of carbonate, and this raises the carbonate hardness and the pH. At a dose of up to 6 grammes per litre you should fine the pH shifting upwards and staying there.>
I also did nitrite and ammonia level tests with the API freshwater test kits.
Nitrite - 0ppm
Ammonia - 0ppm
<All fine.>
The tank is not new. I've had it running successfully for over a year with these Platies. These Platies have been with the tank since I got it last Aug 2007.
<The problem with water chemistry is that it is a problem that can get worse over time. All aquaria have background acidification, and this is causes by a variety of biological processes including the production of nitrate and phosphate in the filter, decaying plant material, and the CO2 given off by the plants and animals in the tank. It's very unpredictable in some ways, which is why regular pH testing is important. Moreover, the impact the "wrong" pH has on fish doesn't always manifest itself instantly, although it can. If exposed to slightly acidic water over months, Livebearers may not show immediately signs of sickness, but their overall healthiness declines, until something else forces itself past their immune system, causing problems. In any event, acidic water isn't appropriate for these fish, and without fixing that, it's impossible to guarantee their health.>
I perform a 40% (12gallons) water change every month. I use API Stress Zyme and Stress Coat with each water change. It uses a Filstar XP1 filtration system with the BioChem Zorb every 3 months and BioStars which I do not disturb during the filter cleanings (done once a month). Of the items that you mention, my pH is on the low side.
My water temp is on the high side (how do I cool the tank?),
<Difficult without a chiller, but opening the hood and placing a fan nearby increases evaporation, reducing temperature. Making sure there is no direct sunlight on the tank, and increasing ventilation in the hood are also important. If all else fails, you can freeze a plastic container filled with water, and then place the (closed) container in the tank like an iceberg. Works quite well.>
and I've been using "aquarium" salt (1tablespoon each 12 gallon change).
<Aquarium salt is plain sodium chloride. This has zero effect on hardness and pH for reasons you doubtless recall from inorganic chemistry at school. The functions of NaCl by itself on freshwater fish is obscure and much debated in the hobby. It certainly has no function at all as a regular additive, but it can be used to treat certain diseases and to detoxify certain poisons (specifically, nitrite and nitrate).>
But do I need marine salt given that the water hardness is on the high side?
<Remember, hardness and alkalinity are different things. General hardness (GH) has very little to do with pH. It's all about osmoregulation; the balance of water and minerals inside and outside the fish. Alkalinity (almost identical to carbonate hardness, KH, for practical purposes) is the ability of *certain* mineral ions in the water to mop up acidification. It is perfectly possible to have lots of minerals in the water (high hardness) but not much of the specific minerals like carbonate and bicarbonate (alkalinity/carbonate hardness) that neutralise acid.
Adding marine salt mix is a cheap-and-cheerful way to up the alkalinity. It isn't very efficient (most of the mineral content is sodium chloride, not carbonate hardness salts like calcium carbonate) but because livebearers have a high tolerance for salt, this isn't really a problem. If you want to raise the carbonate hardness efficiently, you need to use something like Malawi cichlid salt, albeit at a low dosage. A standard Malawi salt mix per 5 gallons is something like this:
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
* 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
* 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Because you're not keeping Malawi cichlids, you'd need to use only a fraction this dose, perhaps 1/4th the amount. Basically play around until you get the pH/alkalinity you're after. You won't do any harm because these minerals are non-toxic at these dosages and much loved by livebearers anyway. It goes without saying these three ingredients are very cheap, and using them thus will cost literally pennies per water change.>
Are the Platies just getting old?
<Quite possibly.>
I want to replenish the tank with a few more Platies, but if there is something wrong with my setup, I want to fix it before I do that.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Sick platy 9/1/08
I just bought some fish yesterday, and came home to find out one was sick. I should've noticed it before, but it's too late now. The fish has no appetite, it swims around aimlessly, sometimes staying at the bottom and other times at the top. Scales on one side of the fish look like they are about to come off; they are angled in a funny way. It seems to be breathing rather heavily, and bumps into things. Could you please help me out on what this is and what to do about it? Thank you so much!
<Hello Savannah. The fish is clearly very ill, and the symptom you describe where the scales pop up from the body is known as Dropsy (or more technically, oedema). It isn't a disease but a symptom, and implies organ failure. When small fish get to this point, a cure is very difficult to recommend. Use of an antibiotic such as Maracyn may help if there's a secondary infection, and Epsom Salt (dissolved in a jug warm water, and then added to the tank, at a concentration of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water in the aquarium) reduces the osmotic gradient between the fish and the water around it, and this can reduce the swelling.
But fundamentally you need to figure out why the fish got sick. Organ failure is obviously serious, and tends to be caused by chronic environmental issues rather than a sudden outbreak of disease. So review water chemistry and water quality. Platies need a biggish tank (certainly not less than 20 gallons) and there must be zero ammonia and zero nitrite at all times. They must have hard, basic water: pH 7.5-8.2, hardness 10-20 degrees dH. In soft water areas the addition of a certain amount of marine salt mix (as opposed to that silly "aquarium salt" and "tonic salt" people sell) will both raise the hardness and the salinity, usually sufficiently to keep livebearers happy; in this case, about 3-6 grammes per litre will do the trick (5-8 oz per gal). Dropsy isn't catchy as such, but the causes can obviously affect more than one fish, so you need to find out what's going on quickly. A photo, plus information re: tank size, water chemistry, water quality would help us confirm/explore the underlying problem(s). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick platy 9/1/08
Thank you, Neale. I just bought the fish yesterday from the store, and I won't be back.
<Ah, I see. Visiting all the pet stores in your area is always worth doing before spending any money. While standard "bread and butter" tropicals likely all come from the same wholesalers, there are differences in how these fish are maintained.>
After returning yesterday to talk to the sellers, I saw several dead fish in the tanks. I will not be buying there again.
<Do see here for my thoughts on how to spot good retailers:
Unfortunately, the fish died. I still have some other fish, but they seem to be doing fine. Thank you again for the help!
<Good luck with them!>
<Happy to help, Neale.>

Life or death situation, Platy hlth. mostly, reading 08/23/08 Hi Neale, <Is marked "out till Tuesday", so I'm responding in his stead> I'm sorry I keep emailing you, and in my defence I've cruised your site and also Googled and Googled for hours. I know my fish are sick- there's no question about that. But I can't figure out what they're sick with. They seem to have only one symptom and that symptom has various diseases it could go with and also different sites have different symptoms, different cures, meds. To make matters worse, only three of my fish are really sick- which made me consider water quality a factor/ stress, yet the pet store tested my water and nothing was abnormal or wrong- <Note... for what there are tests for... Not much> the water was soft though. I know I should keep the water slightly harder for live bearers- could this have cause my problem? <Could be a factor, yes> I Googled this as well and have become confused. What would you recommend I use to bring up dissolved mineral content? <Likely a commercial product... see your LFS re> The three fish that are desperately sick display different symptoms, or possibly stages, of the same disease- or so I believe. My one largest fish is a girl platy that is high-finned and gray; her weight and body cavity appear to be normal; she is extremely stressed after being moved to my hospital tank and I cannot decide if she is really displaying a loss of appetite or just stressed. I removed her from my main tank because, although her gills are not red, she breaths rapidly and circles the surface/ hides for long periods of time. The last one that did this died- so this is a serious disease of some sort. The other girl that is sick is gold platy and she has red gills and looks extremely emaciated. This emaciated girl looks to be on the brink of death and I've had one platy display very similar symptoms and die. Previously I chalked up this death to unusually high ammonia levels from poor maintenance on my part. But this past problem has been long since rectified and my ammonia is all but non existent. <Mmmm... have you read...?> The third sick platy is a gold twin side bar boy who was recovering from a loss of body cavity fluid. Almost all my fish began to display some loss of body cavity fluid after the high ammonia levels. This problem, as I've said, has been rectified and my fish are all somewhat normal again- except three. I considered that they may be just taking a while to recover, but they seem to be deteriorating further- which makes no sense. The third sickly platy is oddly shaped because he's lost the front half of his body fluid, but not the back. He also appears to have red gills, but he is slightly translucent and I asked you before about him and you said that he was biologically engineered to be as such. <Something very amiss here> On top of my platy troubles are my beta troubles, for they have an extreme case of velvet/ Ich (I can't decide which). I had a recent outbreak of fleas <?!> with my betas and then the Ick sprang up. The reason I mention my betas is because I had a sorority of four and after two died, I had to split the last two up due to one being well and the other extremely sick and because it's a common rule not to keep only two girls together. So I put the well one into my platy tank, but the well one also is displaying similar signs to my three sick Platies. To be honest, at certain times all my fish appear to be breathing- not rapidly, not when surfacing for air, but just randomly using their gills for minutes, hours on end, when I know they shouldn't have to. My beta especially shouldn't be breathing as hard as she is. This makes me think it's the water making my fish sick, but besides the harness level, everything is fine! I had the full test done: nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, chlorine, harness, alkalinity...! <Very doubtful> My only other conclusion is that one of the new Platies I added had some kind of spreadable disease. <Quite likely> My sickly beta is in the hospital tank, due to no other viable room at the moment. She appears still sick and floating at the top of the water. I hope my other fish I put in there don't get velvet, but at this point anything is better than having contagious fish mixed in with my healthy ones; plus I don't want the ammonia levels to skyrocket if all three of them decided to die. I know that prevention is the key. Had I known that you are supposed to quarantine fish before you put them in your tank, I would have. I also would have kept my heater in the beta tank- someone told me it was unnecessary so I took it out. <Put this back in... and stop stressing... Re-direct your energies into reading... on WWM re these issues> I'm losing my mind and I don't know what to do anymore. I've considered gill flukes, gill bacteria infection, certain types of dropsy, and even stomach worms. I can't treat for them all...is there a sure fire way to dismiss one or more of the disease mentioned? <Mmm, strictly speaking, not w/o sacrificing some of the animals, using a microscope, culture...> Do you happen to know what my fish have? <No> Is there something in the water I didn't test for? <Likely so> Is it truly the hardness making my fish sick? <Not of, by itself, no> there are no visible parasites so far as I can see, but not all gill flukes are visible are they? <Not to the naked eye, no> I had been treating my betas for about a week and then two died and the one got well and the other became extremely sick...what am I doing wrong? <Can't discern from the data presented> Please, please help me! I fear all 10 of my Platies may die and the last two betas I have left may follow them. I need help. And I'm sorry to have bothered you. I really am. Thank you for your time. <Start reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisf5.htm  and the linked files above... We need the types/categories of data presented in this correspondence to help you... Do read the same re Betta splendens... Bob Fenner>

Swim bladder didn't inflate; Xiphophorus, repro., hlth. 8/14//08 Hi, I bought some sunset fire wag Platies (a male and a couple of females). They mated and now I have some fry. Most of the fry have developed normally although they seem to grow at different rates, but one baby's swim bladder never inflated. His growth rate has been very slow, but he's such a little trouper. I don't see him "fading" at all; his condition seems quite stable, but I'm wondering what the future holds for him. He's become my sentimental favorite, so it would kill me to lose him; still, I want to do what's best for him. Any suggestions? Betty <Hello Betty. It is quite common for fancy livebearer fry to be deformed in various ways. They are extremely inbred, and demonstrably less robust than their wild ancestors; for example wild and "feeder" guppies (mongrel guppies, essentially) can be adapted to seawater without problems, but fancy guppies will die if you try this. The situation your Platy is exhibiting is known as "belly sliding" and is incurable. Whether or not you destroy him is up to you, but he isn't going to get better and he isn't going to be able to do Platy-like things. Mixing him with other Platies would probably be a bit unfair, but I suppose he'd be happy enough in a quiet tank with a soft (e.g., smooth silica sand) substrate that didn't scratch his belly. (Remember, he's not evolved to live a life on the bottom, so he could be damaged by sharp sand or gravel.) Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

Another sick platy question 6/16/08 Hello all, <Hi> I'm very nervous that this question has been asked and answered, but I've been reading and reading and can't seem to find this combination of circumstances. Please accept my apologies in advance if I've just missed something. <No problem, promise this won't hurt much.> I'm new to aquariums and realize that I've already made some mistakes. That being said, I have a 29 gallon aquarium that had been set up for about 3 weeks. I now realize that it is not cycled and I maybe shouldn't have added the fish yet. Ammonia, nitrates and nitrite all test at zero. I can't seem to get my PH below 7.6, although it isn't fluctuating. it's 7.6 consistently. <Is fine for Platies.> In residence are 3 fancy guppies, 5 ghost shrimp, 1 Cory cat, 2 Mickey mouse Platies, 3 banana plants and 4 small sword plants. The substrate is glass beads and store bought river rock, like the kind used in table-top fountains. I also have a rock structure that has hidey places and is aerated. All were washed thoroughly before they were added. <Ok> My problem...one of my Platies is definitely sick. I think it's a female. She isn't eating, even when I dropped food (flakes) right on her, she stays at the bottom of the tank, her mouth moves constantly like she's gasping, her vent is very red (she's a gold MM), her fins aren't clamped. Today, I noticed what appeared to be thin, white lines (about 3 of them) running through the MM pattern on her body and it looks like someone took a bite or two out of her tail. <May be stress marks, and weak fish are often picked on by tankmates, I would try to move her to a hospital tank.> So I have two questions... I think I need a hospital tank. <Yes> What is the minimum size I can have (not much space) and does this tank need a heater and filter (I'm thinking yes)? <I would go with a 10g, and yes to heat and filtration.> And can I treat her for something now, in the tank with the others, or should I euthanize her? <I would get the hospital tank going and go from there, and would not treat the main tank in any way.> I'm afraid the gasping means that she's suffering. <It is definitely a sign something is wrong, perhaps just environmental, try some water changes.> Thank you in advance for any help. Cindy <Welcome> <Chris>

Sick platy for 4 months - 06/08/2007 This fish is driving me crazy! She is a Mickey platy and I have had her in my hospital tank for at least 4 months now because she has yet to get "better" and I still haven't got any idea exactly what the problem is. I was thinking "whirling disease" because the one symptom that has remained constant the whole time is "spinning". she doesn't spin all the time but every few minutes at least....and usually when it begins she starts spasmodically darting all over the tank hitting off all the walls like a pinball machine. It all started at least 4 months ago when I noticed she was acting ill and one of her gills appeared to be "hemorrhaging" internally. That since has recovered and she has had different symptoms throughout the months ranging from not eating, to hiding, to wading at an angle, to swimming on side, light body colors, erratic swimming, hanging at the top, gasping at the top, weakness (the filter throws her across the tank even still and the gravel siphon sucks her up and she can't even fight it)...BUT, for the last few weeks she has been eating again and her spinning doesn't last as long and she is swimming around more normally. However, she does have fits of darting and pinging like a pinball on speed and she almost seems blind because when I fed her this morning she swam quickly along the top rippling across the surface missing the food the majority of the time. Since she has been in my QT tank and I have had to treat not only my sick fish but also my dads (he doesn't have a qt tank) she has been "treated" with every med under the sun at least twice (because I was treating whatever fish was in there with her for what I knew they had) I know that she has to have an extremely weak immune system by now and I wouldn't be surprised if some of her current symptoms are not stemming from the "overdose" of medications but I still haven't figured out what this "spinning" and erratic swimming is from. I thought for sure she would've been dead by now but she's hanging on strong and I am currently trying to determine is I should just go a head and put her back in one of my main tanks?? Does anyone have any clue what is wrong with this fish and/or how I can treat it? Thanks again for this invaluable resource to us novice fish-keepers- you guys are the BEST :) Respectfully, Grace <Hi Grace. I'm not really very sure what's going on here. Whirling Disease is a name applied to the disease caused by Myxosporea parasites. These parasites are not common among indoor ornamental fish because to complete its life cycle the parasite needs to pass through both a fish and an aquatic worm. You're most likely to infect fish by feeding them live Tubifex worms, a common host for the Myxosporea parasite in question. If you haven't used Tubifex worms, then the chances of Whirling Disease being the cause of the symptoms you're observing is practically nil. Another problem that can cause unstable, erratic swimming is the disease we call the Shimmies, essentially a neurological complaint and most widely reported from Mollies. The Shimmies is triggered by improper maintenance, though aquarists argue whether water quality (including nitrate) is the key thing or water chemistry (specifically carbonate hardness and salinity). In any case, this isn't something typically associated with Platies, though I dare say that if they were maintained in soft, acidic water or exposed to high concentrations of nitrogenous wastes, you might well get analogous symptoms. Given the difficulty in establishing either the disease or the responsible triggering factor, the best I can suggest is you start by reviewing environmental conditions and then expand outwards to check things like diet and tankmates are appropriate. Platies need water with a high carbonate hardness and a basic pH. Salt isn't required, though some people consider it to be helpful; certainly they don't need more than 1-2 grammes per litre. Water temperature should be moderate, between 24-28 C, though Variatus Platies are subtropical fish and prefer slightly cooler conditions, 18-25 C. Platies need a primarily greens-based diet, and meaty foods (including standard flake food) should be used sparingly. Instead concentrate on "livebearer" flake (algae-based food) and simply augment with small meaty items like bloodworms and daphnia from time to time. As with other herbivores, they're prone to constipation when given too much meat and not enough vegetables, and this can cause problems with the swim bladder. Sorry I can't offer much more specific advice. Cheers, Neale.>

Mickey platy disease, need data -- 06/02/08 Hi, we have followed all of the instructions we could find on trying to cure our fish and so far we have not been successful. in the past month he has developed these white stripes/dots and nothing we used has been able to get rid of them. We tried fungus and parasite clear from jungle and repeated the process as instructed. since our beta died he has been the only fish in our ten gallon aquarium. we want to give him a girlfriend but we think it would be good to wait until he is better. <Agreed> Attached is the best photo we were able to take of the fish. the curious thing is that he does not have any signs of fin rot, clamped fins, or decreased activity. Also he has been eating normally... please help us with this little dude... thanks Carlos <These markings... could be due to some "difference" this fish has with water quality conditions... Do you use tapwater, treated in some fashion? Is this system thoroughly cycled? What re ammonia, nitrite, nitrate readings? The whitish areas could be due to a protozoan infestation as well... Bob Fenner>

Platy question 05/21/08 I have an established 46 gallon freshwater tank. One of my platy's had babies about two weeks ago... much to our surprise and delight, and everyone is doing great. <Congratulations.> For the past few days, Momma fish has been hanging around the top of the tank, and it looks like she's looking for food. I sprinkled some right in her direction, and she did not eat; she calmly swam away to one of her regular hang outs and came back after everyone else was done eating. <Before doing anything else -- try something else! Wet frozen bloodworms are real favourites with livebearers, so try those. Flake foods go stale after 2-3 months, and you'll notice fish show less and less interest. Old flake food also loses its nutrient content, so the fish aren't really benefiting from it either. Platies are herbivores in the wild, so make sure there's some green algae in the tank. Algae can be offered as algae flakes or strips of Sushi Nori too. The algae provides both the right nutrients and lots of fibre. Constipation is a real problem with herbivorous fish, and a lack of fiber can cause all sorts of problems.> She is not typically very social and usually spends a lot of quiet time on her own. She looks healthy, color and gills are good. <Then don't worry too much.> The water is perfect, chemically speaking. <Meaning the water is around 25 C/77 F; nitrite and ammonia are zero hardness is high; and pH around 7.5-8.> She does not have a new gravid spot, and she looks fine as far as anything obvious. I'm just concerned about her hanging around the top... sort of a new location for her. She's not "gasping"... just hanging out. Any thoughts? <I'd offer different diet first, and only if she ignores those start worrying.> Thanks in advance for your help! I have emailed you in the past, and took your advice on leaving my beloved 4-year old African Dwarf frog in his own tank. I got him a new buddy and they seem to be a match! You are appreciated! <You are most welcome, Neale.>
Re: platy question 05/21/2008
She has been nibbling at the algae on the glass, driftwood and plants. She usually is a bottom feeder, and the other two platy's are more surface feeders, so it's hard to know what she usually eats. She's just suddenly gained my attention (because I'm a paranoid new fish owner). I will try some blood worms for sure and see how that goes. <Very good. Being observant is a good thing, but there is a fine line between being cautious and being paranoid!> As for my water, the temperature is 78, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all zero, but my pH is about 7.2, and that is where it has stayed all along. Is that okay? <The pH is fine, provided your water is hard as well. Platies like hard water.> I have 4 male guppies, 5 harlequin Rasboras, 5 golden tetras, 8 neon tetras and 3 platy's (plus the babies I can't really get a head count on yet). Everyone is growing, active and healthy. I run two Marineland Penguin 200's, and I change the blue filters every four weeks. <All sounds fine. Whilst I'm not a fan of mixing soft water fish with hard water fish, you can 'strike a happy medium', and if everyone is happy, that's the main thing.> Also, I wonder why my schoolers don't always stay in their group. <Too few; schooling behaviour only reliably engages in groups of at least six specimens, and typically you need at least 10 specimens for the full effect. Buying four of these and three of those sounds like a good idea, but if you want a "pretty" aquarium, buying a dozen or twenty of just one species at a time works so much better. The fish will school, so that the Neons for example move about in one big, glittery group rather than randomly hiding around the tank. Lots of aquarists make this mistake (myself included!) because at heart some of us are stamp collectors rather than artists. If you want to "collect" fish, you get lots of species; if you want to create "aquatic art", you keep lots of specimens of just one or two species.> The Neons and goldens do at times, but often, they seem to swim around and hang out with some of the other fish. Everyone seems calm and happy...just curious about that behavior. <Normal, and not in itself too bad, though I have to say you should try and have six of any schooling species just so the fish feel comfortable.> Thanks again. <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: platy question 05/22/08
Thanks again. I have never had any of the people in my aquarium shop talk about water hardness. <A common problem. My guess is that people (retailers and hobbyists alike) focus on pH because it's easy to understand. A simple number between 6 and 8 for the most part. But hardness comes in two flavours, regular and carbonate, and there are a whole bunch of ways to measure it. Unfortunately for the aquarist, hardness is *far* more important than pH when it comes to freshwater fish.> I feel bad that I was not educated. I see from some websites that Neons and Golden Tetras like 1-10 hardness whereas Platy and Guppies like 10-25? Is there anything I can do about this? Or should I leave well enough alone? <Leave well enough alone. Most fish are fine at a steady pH and hardness; what they don't like is changes. Soft water fish tend to do better in hard water than hard water fish do in soft. So yes, Neons will acclimate to harder water than they'd experience in the wild. They won't breed in it, but that's perhaps no big deal.> After the tank finished it's cycle, we added back to our population. I had lost almost all of my Neons to Ick, but that crisis has been over for about 6 weeks. So, we added 6 Neons on Saturday and one has died. One of my oldest guppies died the day before, but he had been looking a little weak for a few days; his tail looked a little shorn and he was a lot smaller than the other four guppies. I would LOVE to add 5 more Neon's to total up to a dozen, but I'm afraid of overpopulation. <I personally find mass-produced Neons a bit of a gamble, and always recommend people go with Cardinals, which are primarily wild-caught. Cardinals are a little bigger and need warmer water to do well, but they're hardier and less prone to Neon Tetra Disease. Alternatively, give up on Neon-type things altogether, and opt for something like the Celebes Rainbowfish (Marosatherina ladigesi), a yellow-and-neon blue fish that thrives in hard water and will even tolerate a bit of salt. I mention this because Platies tolerate salt well, so you can use a small amount of salt to completely wipe out Ick/Whitespot.> I have a very good water test kit now, and my water is still stable after adding a total of 13 new fish over the weekend to my original 10. <Great!> Is there ever a time when you add fish and all of them actually survive? <Yes. Here's some tips. First, buy fish suitable to your water chemistry, water temperature, and experience level. Secondly, buy fish with a mind to their hardiness. Avoid "cheap" fish for example, and look for "wild type" rather than fancy versions of things like Angelfish and livebearers. Very young fish are often more delicate than more mature fish, so avoid those too. Finally, take care to acclimate new fish to your system. A good idea is to put the new fish into a bucket with the water they came in. Over the next hour, add a cup of water from the tank every 5-10 minutes. This allows the fish to adjust to differences in water conditions. Once you're done, remove the fish with a net and put them in the aquarium -- don't put the "old" water from the shop in your tank because it's likely to contain a lot of ammonia and quite possibly parasites too.> I am afraid to add more! As stated before, I am running two Marineland Penguin 200's in my 46 gallon bowfront. Lots and lots of artificial plants to give adequate cover. What's the best/safest way to add to my Neons to encourage schooling? <Assuming the new fish are healthy, my tips above should help, and once settled in, they will school automatically.> And finally, will the golden and neon's school together, or do I need to keep each population up individually? <Fish usually only school with their own species.> Much appreciated! <Cheers, Neale.>

Question about Sunburst MM Platy 5/16/08 I have searched and searched the FAQ and I have not found what my platy is going through. I have no idea if he has dropsy or Ick or anything of that matter. I noticed he has not been eating and he sits at the bottom of the tank. <Usually a bad sign. Check the water quality (i.e., nitrite) and water chemistry (hardness/pH) is appropriate before doing anything else. Almost all fish sickness ultimately stems from water issues. Platies are also very prone to constipation, so make sure you are providing them with enough "greens". Plain vanilla flake/pellet food isn't acceptable in the long term.> His body is not pinecone shape, but the gills where he breaths from are protruding out something nasty. <Heavy breathing can mean a variety of things, from acidosis and nitrite poisoning through to velvet and bacterial infections. So in itself, whilst very alarming and serious, not an immediate clue to the specific problem.> On one side he has a very very dark colored spot where I am assuming his stomach is. <Not sure, but possibly a wound or cyst; in any case, treat with a reliable antibacterial or antibiotic suitable for use with Finrot, for example eSHa 2000 or Maracyn.> I contacted 2 pet stores and they both say he must have swallowed a rock. <Daft.> No other fish in the tank are sick or showing signs of the same thing he is doing. <Quite possibly "yet"... so treat the situation as a wake-up call and review environmental and diet issues before doing anything else.> Plus I have about 50-60 Platy fry in a breeder Tank I am worried about. <Indeed.> What do you think is wrong with him???? <Without a photo, difficult to say.> Adrienne <Cheers, Neale.>

Platy's that seem swollen... hlth. 4/29/08 I have 4 platy's in my fish tank and have noticed that two of them are very swollen in the front part that is darker normally. It is still dark but just very swollen. At first I thought maybe they were pregnant but I do not see any dot's inside like I have been reading is the tell tale sign that they are pregnant. <May just not be "that" pregnant as yet> Is there any disease that this could be or is it most likely that they are pregnant? They are very larger and almost look goofy swimming around. Please give me any advice that you can. Thanks, Dan <Could be a few other possibilities. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs.htm  and the linked files above... to see the sorts of data we're looking for, learn through others experiences. Bob Fenner>

Platy with a swollen gill Hi crew, I set up my first aquarium approximately 5 weeks ago. <How was it cycled?> It is a 28 gal tank. We started with 3 sunburst Platies (2 females, 1 male) and two days later had 6 babies swimming around. The water circulated really well and everyone was doing fine, so we decided to get 3 red eye tetras. <Mmm, can be nippy> They seemed really stressed and two were bullying one and wouldn't let him out of the corner of the tank. After more research, I realized we needed more tetras. So this weekend we purchased 3 more red eyes. They have all since settled down, although we now only have 3 baby Platies. We also bought some new live plants and put them in the tank on Sat. <Good> The water has been great, until this morning when the ammonia level went to 0.25 and the nitrates climbed to 20 ppm. The nitrite level was at 0, pH was 7.6, alkalinity 120, and our water is hard. The temperature has been stable at 78-80. All the fish seemed healthy and active and eating well, except one of the female Platies. She was hovering about 1-2 inches from the surface of the water and her left gill was bulging out. She was breathing through this gill heavily and seemed to be mouth breathing. Not knowing what else to do, I did a 30% water change. <Good move> Approximately 5 hours later she seemed much better. Her gill is still bulging, but only slightly, she is no longer mouth breathing, and is swimming around the tank normally. Was this a case of ammonia poisoning or something else? <Possibly just the ammonia> Is there anything else I should do for her? Thank you so much for you help. Katy <Not much else I would do here at the present set of circumstances. Very important to note that many "fish medicines" are quite toxic, none have zero negative effects... and your system is not stable... not thoroughly cycled. I would just hold off, be observant. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platy with a swollen gill 4/16/08
Hi Bob, Yes I did receive your response, and thank you so much. I will continue to watch and monitor. The water this morning was better: pH 7.6, nitrates 10 ppm, nitrites 0 ppm and ammonia 0.25. <Ah, good. But the ammonia must need be zero as well> The platy is still doing well despite the swollen gill. She is no longer mouth breathing and she is acting like her old self. It has been so hard to obtain reliable information on fish and how to properly take care of them. You and the crew provide an invaluable service, thank you. Katy <Welcome our friend. BobF>

Help with platy, hlth. -- 4/12/08 I am contacting you as I just cannot work out what is wrong with my platy mom and you certainly appear to be the best experts on the Web. Any help would be greatly appreciated as she is my favourite pet together with her mate. I estimate she is around 9 months old. I have sent a photo as there are whitish spots on her tail that I cannot identify as Fungus or Ich. I have searched the web for photos of both but not found anything that really compares. They are individual spots that started appearing several weeks ago and have continued to multiply slowly, and join up in spite of treatment. Other than the spots on her tail she is happy, eating well and continues to have healthy fry. <The photo is too small to reveal much of anything. But the description of the disease suggests either Finrot or 'Mouth Fungus' (which, despite its name, is a bacteria than can affect other parts of the body than the mouth!). So unless you can send a detailed picture of the tail, let's run with this idea. You'll need to treat with a Finrot medication. I happen to like eSHa 2000, but Maracyn also works well, I'm told. Melafix and Pimafix, on the other hand, are useless for this sort of thing. You will also need to check water quality: almost always, these bacterial infections follow on from water quality problems. Check ammonia and/or nitrite. If you have either in the water, then that's your immediate problem. There is no "safe" level of either, other than zero.> I had one juvenile platy that had a small fungus like spot a few weeks back. I put him into a more highly salted tank with my mollies but when the fungus reappeared I put him in a hospital tank with fungus eliminator and he has responded very quickly to treatment. The only other issue was with one Gourami that died from what appeared to be a fungal infection a couple of months back but he was a new addition to the tank. All other fish in the tank, including small fry seem happy and healthy. <Ah, the plot thinnens. When you get a succession of sick/dead fish, almost always it is water quality to blame. Review stocking level, feeding, and filtration.> Tanks is 30 gallon, cycled for several months using a fishless cycle and eventually Bio-Spira. <Bio-Spira is redundant if you've truly done a Fishless Cycle.> The normal parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0 and Nitrate normally around 20. <Sounds okay, but do check the ammonia and nitrite levels within 10-20 minutes of feeding, and then again an hour or so later.> I usually keep the temperature close to 80 degrees. <A little on the warm side. By default, aim for 25 C/77 F.> The water is moderately hard and alkaline. <Good.> I use the kit with the test tubes and drops to monitor regularly. <Good.> As I have been medicating there is now trace ammonia - < .25 so I have been doing additional water changes. Prior to the problem I was changing around 25% weekly. <If you are using (most) medications as directed, the filter should be unaffected, so this connection of statements is faulty. If you're detecting ammonia, it *isn't* because you're adding medication. It's because something else is amiss: changes in water chemistry, overstocking, insufficient turnover, etc.> Tank contains a pair of adult Platies plus around 10 3/4" to 1" young Platies and mollies, home grown, and less than 10 smaller platy and molly fry , newborn through 1/2". <Do always remember baby fish add to the loading of the tank. More fish = more ammonia = more filtration required. People often overlook this, and wonder why their initially healthy livebearer tank experiences a steady increase in pollution levels. So if you have lots of new baby fish, you almost certainly need to be adding a second filter.> I initially thought my platy may have Ich. I spotted a couple of fish flashing occasionally so I increased temperature and added extra salt. The tank now has 1 tbs per 5 gallons similar to my molly tank but this did not help. <It won't. Salt has no real effect on bacterial infections: the bacteria are latent in all freshwater and marine aquaria, and under normal circumstances play a vital role in filtration (effectively), breaking down organic matter into smaller molecules the filter bacteria can work on. It's when fish are weakened somehow (e.g., by ammonia) that the bacteria are able to get into the fish, and then cause disease.> I tried quick cure for about a week. There was no more flashing but there was no improvement of her spots. She never flashes. Finally I tried the Jungle fungus eliminator and my tank eventually crashed but as there are only 2 fully grown fish I have not had severe problems with water. Still the spots remain. I showed a photo to the guy in my LFS who is an experienced fish keeper but he was not sure. <Hmm...> I really do not want to lose her but do not know what else to try. There have been a couple of additional spots this week, still only on her tail. The scales on her sides always look much like the photo. She continually expands and contracts due to being pregnant and giving birth but is always fat and happy. I do not want to isolate her in a hospital tank as she is totally terrified of the net compared to the other fish and I do not want to stress her. <No need to isolate said fish. Treat the tank with anti-Finrot medication, and also upgrade filtration (or remove fish) so that the ammonia level is consistently zero.> If you have any idea of what this may be I would be really grateful. I am thinking of maybe just not trying any more meds as long as she is happy. Sorry the photo is not better but it is possible to make out the spots almost like a band on the tail towards the base. The ends of the tail fin is not spotted or ragged. Also I noticed that there are dark areas on her body towards her tail that did not used to be there. I was hoping that was just a change in coloring. <Again, consistent with secondary bacterial infections.> Many thanks for any help you may be able to offer. Lynda <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Help with platy 04/14/2008 Neale, Thanks for your quick reply. I was away for the weekend and just got back and tested the tank. There was 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite and Nitrate was 20 so whatever caused the ammonia reading last week seems to have gone. <Well that's good news at least.> I do not have a better photo as she refuses to pose for the camera but I am now going to do a partial water change to reduce nitrate a bit and start treatment today with Maracyn. Also I am going to start reducing the temperature down to 77. <Steps in the right direction.> I will try and take some of my larger healthy babies to the LFS this week. They took 15 of my original fry, all the ones that I could catch at the time! They always isolate donated fish for weeks so there should not be a problem with them. <Good.> I will have to work out how I might be able to add another filter to my platy tank as it has one of those eclipse filtration systems with the filter attached to the hood and a bio wheel. <I see.> It is really difficult keeping the number of fish down and I only have 3 adult females in total. <With Platies, one approach is to simply remove the males: since both sexes look the same in terms of colours, you don't lose out.> One of my female mollies had around 25 babies on Sunday and the other had babies this weekend so my molly tank is now overrun with Dalmatian mollies! The tank is only moderately planted as I thought the reason too many babies were surviving in the original tank was because there were too many places to hide. The babies do not even attempt to hide now and the adults still cannot catch them! <Hah!> I do not understand why people have problems raising livebearer fry and need nets etc. I have the opposite problem. I only started fishkeeping last year and I do absolutely nothing other than occasionally add a tiny amount of those Hikari bytes when there are newborns as I would feel bad if they starved. The only way I can reduce the number of babies is to donate them to the LFS. <People who fail to rear broods of common livebearer species like Platies typically have too many predators in the tanks. But the size of the tank, what plants are present, how often the fish are fed, and a variety of other factors are relevant too.> They do not grow as fast as the ones I keep so I have been trying to keep them longer until they get a bit bigger before I donate them. Petco also told me that they have an adoption tank so I may try that. Once again thanks so much for you help. I will start the treatment right away. Lynda <I'm pretty confident in your fishkeeping skills and the timeliness of the treatment for the sick Platy, so the sick fish should recover without further problems. Do remember to remove carbon from the filter before using any medications. Good luck, Neale.>

Mystery Platy Deaths... chemical filtrant involvement? 3/15/08 I have a platy problem. I've lost 3 Platies in three days. First, here's my tank setup: 55 Gal Freshwater Community Tank -- Been up and running for about 18 months now. Population (Before Deaths): 5 Bleeding Heart Tetras 3 Orange Platies 4 Yellow Platies 2 Zebra Danios 2 Glowlight Tetras 2 Peppered Cory Cats 2 Otocinclus No live plants, a few rocks, some driftwood, and some aeration. Water Parameters (as of a few days ago): Temp -- 74F pH -- 7.4 Ammonia/Nitrites -- 0 ppm Nitrates -- 7 ppm KH -- 5 deg Phosphates -- 0.5 ppm <Water quality and compatibility should be fine...> A few weeks ago, I started controlling Phosphate levels, in an attempt to rid brown and black algae. <Mmmm, how?> My water supply has high PO4 levels (about 2 ppm), so I started putting Phos-Zorb in the filter. It brought PO4 levels down to about 0.25 ppm, but since then has started to rise due to regular water changes (~20% water/week). <Mmm, you might want to just filter the incoming/change-out water> A couple days ago, I noticed an orange platy couldn't swim 'he would just sink to the bottom, but remain vertical. He died later that day. Last night, I noticed a yellow platy with similar symptoms, but he would swim up for food. He would also stay at the bottom, and/or hide. His fins were severely nipped, so I figured he probably got beat up and was just injured. This morning, I found that yellow play dead. I also noticed another yellow platy hiding, but did not appear injured 'just hiding. I found him dead later this afternoon. I'm afraid there might be some sort of parasite or something killing off my fish. All other fish appear OK. <Mmmm, what fish/es if any, are new/er to this system... How recent?> I feed the fish tetra flakes every day, with the occasional day of freeze-dried bloodworms. All 7 Platies listed above were purchased about 8 months ago. <Oh! They themselves are not likely a/the source then> Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Aaron <I would remove the Phos-Zorb product, seek other means for algal control... Perhaps just some floating plant... Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Mystery Platy Deaths 3/17/08
Thank you for your help. Here's a follow up: I've had one more platy die since I originally e-mailed you...same symptoms as the others - not eating, staying at the bottom of the tank... always hiding. I did some research on fish disease and couldn't find any definite culprit. Of my remaining fish, none have nipped fins, nor do they have any body sores or cloudy eyes. Their fecal matter appears a normal brown, their fins aren't clamped to their bodies, and their swimming behavior seems normal. I got to thinking and I may have an explanation for the recent deaths. A few weeks ago I placed a piece of (slightly older, slightly microwaved) zucchini into the tank to help feed the Otos. The Otos did occasionally feed off of it, but it was mostly the Platies that would eat it, so I gave up placing zucchini in the tank. I'm thinking that there may have been some bacteria in the zucchini and that is how the 4 Platies that have died may have gotten sick. I've never had to deal with a multi-death issue like this, so I'm trying to think of every possible explanation. It's (obviously?) <Mmm, am never sure of this> not water conditions, and the other fish that did not feed off of the zucchini got sick. Thanks again, Aaron <Maybe... BobF>

Puzzling Platy... hlth? No useful data 03/11/2008 Hello, <Mich> Today, I bought several Platy's from the store for my brother. He called me shortly after he was able to release them from the transport bag. He released them into a 45 gallon prepared tank with other Platy's residing without difficulty. I have Molly's, but he thought maybe I could explain what had happened to his fish. One of the Platy's, less than half an hour after release, suddenly excreted white material from it's vent; and appeared to be dying very quickly. Hours later it has died, but I have never seen this before. Do you have any idea what may have caused this? If so, are the other fish in danger? Should we contact the store to let them know it has happened? <... could be "something" or not... I do encourage you to consider, read (on WWM) re quarantine of all new livestock...> There are several varieties of fish in the tank, plus the Platy's. I don't know if you can help, but any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Michelle <... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisf5.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Platy with damaged tail after being attacked (Guppy, Betta) 3/5/08 Hi there At the weekend I bought a Siamese Fighter Fish which attacked my female platy for a day until I found someone else to give the Fighter a new home. Then my male guppy started attacking the poor platy! (the guppy was also bought at the weekend) so I have sectioned the guppy off in his own special area of the tank to avoid the platy any more damaged or stressed. The platy's tail and fin are very damaged and frayed from the Fighter fish and although she is now swimming about happily, I am concerned about fin rot setting in. There is a white line appearing along the edge of the damaged tail - I wanted to ask if this is this fin rot or the healing process? I have just ordered some Melafix online - is this safe to use even if it's not fin rot (as a prevention) and is it safe to use it with the other fish in the tank? (4 neon tetras and the guppy)? I've attached a couple of photos - you can see the white line on the close up picture - looks like the tail has a white lining but there are no other signs of white spots on her body. Thanks in advance. Christine <Hello Christine. Male livebearers are aggressive, especially when kept with insufficient females and in tanks that are too small (by their standards, if not yours). While lots of people *think* they can keep Guppies and other livebearers in tanks 20 gallons or smaller, the reality is that all too often males behave in a very aggressive manner. In the wild, male Guppies would be creating an "exclusion zone" around themselves, driving away rival males so that they have exclusive access to the females. All fine and dandy in the wild, but in aquaria a recipe for disaster. In any case, there's nothing you can do to stop the Guppy behaving this way. Yes, your Platy has early stages of Finrot, and yes, it needs treatment. I personally consider Melafix an inferior product for this sort of thing: it just isn't that reliable. It's low cost as "New Age" recipe appeals to some people I guess, but given it doesn't always work I'd sooner recommend something reliable. Maracyn, for example, or eSHa 2000. Do remember that whatever treatment you use, you must remove carbon from the filter before use. Cheers, Neale.>

Question re: anti-parasitic medicated fish food for Platys 2/24/08 Hello Crew, I have spent hours reading the FAQ's and your responses (my favourite being the one with the lady and her boyfriend having issues with breeding and Don spitting out his coffee) and have found them entertaining and informative. Now I have a question, which I hope you will answer. I have a 35 gallon tank, which has been in operation for about 3 years, so is well-cycled. I do regular water changes and periodically test the levels of nitrates, ph, and ammonia. All seem to be consistently within acceptable ranges. This tank is planted with a large number of artificial (plastic) plants, as well as live plants. There is 1 to 2" of gravel, 3 ornamental logs for hiding places, an undergravel filter, an outside 3 stage power filter, and a bubble bar. 6 weeks ago, my son helped me by bringing over his gravel vacuum and vacuuming the gravel in this tank. This resulted in a 50% water change. The livestock in this tank includes one elderly Pleco, whom I inherited with the tank, about 7 inches in length, 2 pearl Danios, 3 blacklight tetras, one of which is very large (platy sized), 2 Glowlight tetras, and my favourites, 2 adult male platys, and currently only 1 adult female platy. There have been no new introductions of fish for the past year, although there are about 15 juvenile platys of ages varying from 2 to 5 months. I feed twice a day, with premium flake food and supplement with blanched romaine lettuce which seems to go over very well with the platys, old and young. This past week, I lost an adult female Mickey Mouse Platy. She was one of the original introductions, so I was sorry to lose her. Her history includes being placed in a nursery net within the main tank, when I was quite sure she was about to give birth. She had the gravid spot, and I could see the dark eyes of the babies. She was very unhappy in the nursery net, so after 4 days with no results, I released her into the main tank. That was probably a year ago, and while she never lost the gravid spot, the dark eyes disappeared and there never were any babies. The one male platy who is always 'on the make' seemed to know she was of no use to him, and would chase her away. For several weeks before her demise, she did have what I have seen described on your site as 'whitish stringy poop'. Up until 2 days before she went, she was still eating, and swimming normally. During those last 2 days, she was hiding, and not coming out to eat. Today I noticed this 'whitish stringy poop' from the second, less aggressive adult male Sunset Platy. My question is, should I be concerned about a parasitic infection, and should I start feeding the anti-parasitic medicated fish food? Is it safe for the juvenile platys and the rest of the fish? Should I abstain from feeding the blanched romaine lettuce while feeding the medicated food? I do realize my current ratio of 2 adult male platys to 1 adult female is not ideal, but the 2nd male is not particularly amorous, although by their colouring, I do believe some of the juveniles are his descendants. I also have a 2nd tank, populated with a school of Cardinal Tetras, and one small, skittish Pleco. My intention is to move some of the juvenile platys to this tank as they mature. Thank you, for having such an informative site, and for your anticipated response to my long-winded email. Aprilwine <Anti-parasite food is usually safe for juvenile fish. In this instance I wouldn't bother unless I saw any other fish producing abnormal faeces. Do also switch to high-fibre foods for a while -- algae, daphnia, brine shrimps, tinned peas, etc. Won't do the other fish any harm. Anyway, this'll help clear out the insides. But if you do see other fish with odd faeces and/or signs of emaciation, then by all means switch to something anti-parasitic. While constipation is rather more common in livebearers, parasitic infections do happen, and are worth bearing in mind when fish start looking off-colour. Camallanus worms are probably the most commonly found intestinal parasites in livebearing fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question re: anti-parasitic medicated fish food for Platys 03/04/2008 Thanks Neale, I have been feeding supplementary peas (frozen, slightly cooked, skinned) and they seem to go over very well. The adult Sunset Platy seems to be back to normal, and all seem to be doing fine. I appreciate your advice. <Greetings. It's good to hear everything is working fine! Platies certainly benefit from a "green" diet, and I think you'll find that over the long term you'll have Platies that are more active and have brighter colours than would be otherwise. Thanks for letting me know the good news; it's rare we hear that our little "patients" have got better! Cheers, Neale.>

Dying, sick platys and others 2/11/08 Dear Crew, <Julie> First of all, THANK you for the fantastic site and the great work you do. I have come to your site so many times to find answers to some of my more straightforward problems. It is the best on the web! <Thank you for your kind words> Alas, I am having some serious problems now, and I'm not sure why. Please forgive the length of this email, but I know that you like to have as much information as possible. <Yes> I have two freshwater tanks: - 55 gallon tank -- has 5 black skirt tetras, 4 harlequin Rasboras, 5 white clouds, 2 dwarf Gourami, 1 Pleco, 4 albino Corys, 6 platys (3 female, 3 male), 4 glass cats, 4 cherry barbs (brand new), some live plants, a lava rock, a driftwood (bought at high end aquarium store) and a sand/gravel substrate, Fluval filter, heater and power head. Current readings: pH=7.8; Ammonia = .25; <Mmm, should be zero> Ni <Something missing here?> - 10 gallon tank -- 3 dwarf African water frogs, 5 algae eating shrimp (very small), 4 male fancy-tailed guppies. The problem all began with one of my female platys (let's call her "Greenie"). She was in the 50 gallon tank, hanging with her mate, "Hi Fin," Hi Fin was getting exhausted and mean chasing all the other males away, so I moved them both into the 10 gallon. After a water change of about 20%, and decent water conditions (Amm and Nitrites at 0, nitrates a bit high, around 40), <Too high by about twice...> she looked stressed and listless. This did not improve, so after a few days, I moved them both back into the 55 gallon, hoping that she was just reacting poorly to something in the 10 gallon. Meanwhile, I moved an aggressive male platy ("Bubba") who kept bugging Greenie. Put Bubba in the 10 gallon tank. Bought Bubba a mate ("Li'l Red") and put her in the 10 gallon with him. Greenie did not improve. Rather, she was flashing a lot, getting weak, having trouble staying level, hanging out on the bottom or at the surface, hardly moving much, not eating. All bad. Hi Fin stayed close by her side. Things continued to deteriorate and, not knowing what else to do, I moved her back to the 10 gallon (stupid, I know). She continued to do poorly. At that point, she had developed a sore on her head -- scales gone, looked like the white flesh beneath. To be honest, I was very surprised she had lasted this long since she has been sick for well over a week (flashing, doing desperate flip circles at the surface, etc.). I finally moved her to my small QT (about 2 gallons), and treated it with some Myacin. <Maracyn, Erythromycin...> Meanwhile, back in the 55 gallon tank, Hi Fin was looking morose -- hiding under the drift wood. This was unusual for him since he is a pretty dominant platy and usually survives just about everything. I did a cleaning of my 55 gallon tank. Vacuumed up some good yuck from the sand, took out about 5 gallons, replenished with 7.5 gallons of tap water that I treated with Amquel+. The next day, I went to my LFS. From the description I gave them of the platy, they thought it was a parasite. I bought some Copper medication, <NO!> and treated the QT appropriately for its size. Since Hi Fin was still morose, I put him in the QT too. On that same day, two of my albino Corys bit the dust. <Yikes> This morning, I noticed that pretty much **all** the platys were listless, in both tanks. Also, my Pleco was now dead, as was another albino Cory. I realized I would have to move all of the platys, and probably the cherry barbs (who were looking a bit listless themselves), to the QT. Only problem is it is too small. So I removed the frogs and shrimp from my 10 gallon, leaving in the 4 fancy tail male guppies. I did a 50% water change on my 10 gallon. I removed all of the platys and cherry barbs from all of the tanks, and put them in the 10 gallon (with the 4 guppies). Treated the 10 gallon with copper, and treated the new water with Amquel+. I got rid of the copper-treated water from the QT, cleaned it well, refilled with Amquel+-treated water, and put the frogs and shrimp in that. <Good> By the way -- before I did the 50% water change on the 10G, it had a 7.2 pH, Amm=0, Nitrite=0, but high Nitrates -- around 80 (!!! -- due to Tubifex for frogs, Grrrr). GH was at 9 drops. Immediately after the water change, pH was 7.5, Nitrates had gone down to 40, GH was up at 11-12, but the Ammonia went up to .5!!! <Yeeikes> I waited about 45 minutes, retested the ammonia -- it had dropped a tad, but still above .25. <The ammonia may be anomalous... there are types of test kits that produce false positives with Amquel and other such products...> So here are all my questions: 1. What the heck is wrong with the platys? I do not notice any white spots, other than the big sore on top of Greenie's head. So I don't think it's Ich. I haven't noticed any white poop, so don't think it's internal parasites. Could it be external parasites? Some bacterial infection? <Could be these... Tetrahymena, Costia, Epistylis... maybe a bacterial involvement... Only way to tell definitively is through microscopic analysis> 2. What's with the bottom feeders -- Corys and Pleco -- dying? Associated with the very modest water change? <Possibly... there was something anomalous in the tap/source water that day. Hence my/our proviso/encouragement for folks to store/save water a week or so ahead of use> Or with gunk being pulled up from under the sand/gravel, and possibly eaten by them? <Maybe> Or are they more sensitive to whatever is ailing the platys? Parasites? <Possibly> 3. How come the ammonia levels in my water went from 0 to .5 just by adding tap water treated pretty thoroughly with Amquel+. <See above> If anything, shouldn't there be no ammonia? (By the way, a LFS said ammonia may have increased because my cleaning might have stirred up stuff on the bottom. I've never heard this before.) <Can/does happen. Best to do so only while siphoning...> Thank you to the whole crew for your kind assistance. You guys rock!!! Cheers, Julie <I do hope whatever the root cause here has abated. I do encourage you to read on WWM re Nitrate control, keep this under 20 ppm. and to store your make-up water... and quarantine all incoming livestock... Perhaps reading of other instances of Freshwater Disease Troubleshooting will lead to revelation: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmystdisfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>
Re: Dying, sick platys and others - UPDATE 2/11/08
It is now a few hours later, and the fish in the 10G are distressed, probably from the ammonia that hasn't gone down. I took out about 35% of the water and replaced it with the water from the 55G tank, which has only a tad of ammonia. The levels remain high -- hovering around .5. <Yikes... Do NOT feed anything> Could the Mardel CopperSafe be causing anomalous readings? <Yes... the copper could have poisoned your nitrifying bacteria period... See WWM re the use of copper...> Or could the ammonia have spiked literally instantly on an Amquel+-treated water change? <Yes... BobF>

Re: Dying, sick platys and others - UPDATE 2-12-08 Wow -- thank you all for the amazing feedback. It's now the next day. Ammonia levels in the 10G tank have dropped to slightly over 0 (maybe 0.1?). Definitely less than 0.25, which is the next increment from my test kit. Nitrates are down too -- around 20'ish. <All good news> I'm pleased about that. The fish are looking a bit better. I fed them a bit of flake food (sorry -- hadn't seen your email about no feeding yet) and was very happy to see that all but one was eating quite heartily. The cherry barbs are looking great, as are the guppies (who were never sick in the first place). The platys are still a bit low-energy. One platy looked to be nearing the end. I put him back in the 55G tank in the hopes that he would improve. Alas, he's not looking too good. And this morning, one of the black skirt tetras in the 55G tank is in distress. There **may** be white spots on him (Ich) though it is hard to tell. None of the other fish in the 55G are showing distress or white spots. Should I remove him and put him in the 10G (that has the copper)? <Mmm... I'd be reading... on WWM re Ich... and waiting at this point, starting to raise the system temperature... All fishes will have to be treated if...> Warmly and gratefully, Julie <BobF>

Platy Fry Dying 2/8/07 Fish Guru's, <Hello> Please help, we are losing our beloved babies... <Uh-oh> We have had a well-established 30 gallon freshwater tank with several livebearer fish (Platy/ Swordtails) for over 6 months now. In this time the platy's have had two brood, the first producing over twenty fry, and the 2nd producing 16. Each time we have moved the fry to a well-established separate 3-gallon tank (with a undergravel heater and undergravel filter with a carbon head - no filter media). <Cycled?> And much to our disappointment the fry have slowly died off, with only two or three remaining from each brood. <Not unheard of, especially with some Platies that are bred for specific traits like color or body type. Weak fry are often produced.> We perform frequent water changes (30% approx. every 10 days) and the water quality is good (PH 7.6, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0). <Good> The water stays at a constant 79 degrees (we have an acrylic tank, so we have to use an undergravel heater which has no temperature settings). What could be killing them? <Genetics, improper food, low O2 are some guesses.> They never look ill, we just notice there are a few dead every week or so? <Have experienced this with some fry batches, some are just weak and don't survive.> Is the PH too high? <Should be fine.> The local shop has said ignore the ph (for the most part). <As long as it is stable is fine at its current level.> Is there something else I should be testing for? <Not really.> I thought that the under gravel filter was enough air flow for them, but maybe I need an air stone? <Would not hurt for sure.> Thank you in advance for your help oh wise ones. Mike <Unfortunately animals that breed as often as livebearer fish often do not produce the strongest offspring, and I think that may be what is going on here. Add some circulation and see if the situation improves. Higher water temp means less O2 so that may help.> <Chris>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: