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Astronotus ocellatus (Agassiz 1831), the
Oscar. To seventeen inches (45.7 cm). South America: Rio Amazonas
basin in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Northern Paraguay and French
Guiana. Freshwater: pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5.0 - 19.0,
temp. 22 - 25°C. Wild type at the Shedd Aq. 2015
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Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Note: BobF is off diving in Fiji till 1/27; hence the
dailies may be sporadic in posting.
How to follow up? Re FW Dis; spec.
I was reading an article and exchange between Bob and somebody named
Cindy for a fish health issue on an Oscar in 2014. I would *so* love to
find out what the deal was because my fish seems to have the same
parasite, and nobody knows what it really is. It was just my Blue Rams,
but now it's my Angels and Boesemanni Rainbows> I have some rare fish in
this tank and I'm deathly afraid they'll get this. One Pleco looks like
it has Ich, but I think that's the beginning look of this thing. Bob
suggested this issue was possible HITH, but it looks like white
protuberances from the fish's head.
The other fish look like they have Ich.
<Mmm; near impossible to tell much re such issues w/o sampling and
simple examination under a microscope. More often than not (ninety some
percent of the time) the real issue here is environmental, NOT
pathogenic. The protuberances, perhaps the spots may just be
consolidation of (body) mucus... from something/s amiss water quality
wise... And the "cure",
redress of the cause of the poor environment>
When my blue rams had it, they would get these raised white things
(bigger than Ich). Those would seem to pop, and then the fish would get
Popeye and die. :( It was *awful*. I'm sick about my angels now.
Evidently this is in my tank and when there is stress, it hits some fish
and not others.
<Again... rather than assuming this may be Protozoan, perhaps a "worm"
parasite... need to study a bit, learn the aforementioned sampling and
Is there any way to find the person who posted the issues?
<Ahh, no. We don't retain peoples' email addresses>
It was under the
page called FAQs on Freshwater Angelfish Disease/Health 9, at the end.
Re: Angelfish with white spots that don't appear to be Ick 2/6/14
<If you can furnish cropped, small size image files, this may be of use.
How many T. ocellicauda can live happily in a 41 L tank?
Hello WWM people. I know Dr. Monks in your group keeps peacock
gudgeons/gobies (T. ocellicauda), so if he's around, maybe he could
I have a new nano tank, 10.7 US gallons/41 litres, 45 cm x 30 cm x 30
I used to have a larger tank (30 us gallons) that I had to break down
and sell because I moved. Now I'm setting up this new smaller tank in my
smaller living space. Peacock gudgeons are my favorite fish of all of
the ones I've kept thus far, so I'd like to have just those in my new
nano tank. How many can I reasonably keep in this tank, assuming it's
planted and there are no other inhabitants? Filter is going to be a
power filter rated for 10 gallons.
<Well, a single male and 2-4 females would probably be fine. Since
they're not sexually dimorphic, it's not like you'd be stuck with there
dowdy-looking females. But if you wanted pairs, I think you might be
able to keep two pairs, but you'd need to be extremely careful about
having hollow ornaments of some sort where the males could 'stake their
without being in plain sight of each other. In 10 gallons, if the two
males decide not to tolerate one another, there's not a lot of hiding
space. So you want to pre-empt that as far as practical.>
I'd love to be able to keep a quartet of gudgeons if possible -- two
males, two females, if at all possible. But is that overstocking it?
<Not as such; these gobies aren't particularly active or heavy feeders,
so water quality should be fine.>
Please note there will be driftwood and plants to help break up sight
<Good move. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: How many T. ocellicauda can live happily in a 41 L tank?
Thanks so much!
Yes, I am purchasing two 2.5 cm-in-diameter caves to use for each male
to have his own space.
<Good luck; sounds a very attractive aquarium you're going to have
Help with Goldfish medication (Neale; your input please)
You're simply poisoning your fish, the system>
A week ago one of my beloved Oranda Goldfishes suddenly ballooned up
like a pinecone and passed away a few days later. The day before the
"ballooning" I saw a small amount of swelling directly under her chin,
between her front
fins. Then the next day she was really swollen. I treated her with
Waterlife Myxazin (the only medication I had on hand at the time) + API
Melafix, + API salt 0.3% in a hospital tank, but it was too late to save
She had been having trouble on and off over the last 7 months with
floaty issues and constipation, so she was on a special soft foods diet.
<I take it you've seen/read Sabrina's piece, the many "Related FAQs" on
For the last 3 months she was slightly weaker in her swimming actions,
and sometimes her top fin was droopy. Her appetite was always good
though, and she happily interacted and foraged with the other fishes
I have a 255L main aquarium with 3 remaining 9cm Oranda Goldfish. The
Aquarium is cycled and has a big external canister filter with both
biological and mechanical media. I do weekly 35% water changes, and
their parameters are:
PH 7.4, GH 180, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, Ammonia 0.
<All good thus far>
The Oranda that died had been in the tank for 1 year, and the other
fishes 6 months, 5 months and 2 months.
Since the sudden case of dropsy, I did a 35% water change that
afternoon, a 25% the next day, then 25% again the day after, and now 30%
changes every second day to reduce the risk of a bacterial spike.
Plus I checked and cleaned the filter. (Usually do the filter every 2-3
I use a vacuum siphon to do the water changes to clean the gravel
substrate. I also regularly use Dr Tim's biological products (First
Defense during water changes, and Waste Away once a fortnight). I treat
any new water with Seachem Prime, and also add 2 teaspoons of API
Aquarium salt per 9 Litre bucket, and adjust the PH in the bucket, and
add Seachem Replenish to correct the water GH. I live in Adelaide (in
South Australia) and Adelaide water is highly chlorinated and is quite
soft with a low GH and has a low PH of 6.8.
<All reads as good practices>
Because I live in South Australia the temperature over summer is quite
My Aquarium is in my dining room, in the part of the house where the
temperature is the most stable. However, the water slowly heated
up during the recent heat wave to 29 degrees Celsius, which may be the
for the fish I lost to Dropsy.
<Might well be a factor... I'd leave the lights off, the top raised on
especially warm days... should reduce the temp. a degree or two C.>
The aquarium temperature has now lowered back to 26.5 degrees Celsius
(which is still quite warm). I have tilted
the spray bar slightly higher to increase surface agitation and added
another bubbler to try and increase oxygen levels whilst the water is so
<Ahh; very good>
I am worried that a hidden internal parasite may be present, or possibly
some sort of bacteria. It makes sense if it is a parasite, which could
have been lurking waiting for the weather to warm up.
The 3 surviving fishes are all looking reasonably healthy, no raised
and have plump bodies with no injury or sores, and their fins are not
clamped. No visible lice or external worms or spots either.
<Then... I would NOT treat the water, fish>
One fish has a small split at the end of his tail fin, and it has been
there for the last 5 days.
<Not likely pathogenic per se>
2 days ago I saw one of the other fish have a brief involuntary twitch
in his front fin, but this only happened once.
The third fish in the last 5 days has changed his sleeping routine. He
now hangs at the top of the tank in the back corner at night. In the
warmer water, the oxygen levels are lower, so if he is weakened by
something, it may be why he is now sleeping at easiest place to sleep. I
have also noticed he is chomping at the surface eating bubbles quite
often now too.
When he knows I am watching, he swims to halfway down the height of the
aquarium, then presses his face up against the glass and chomps at me
pretending he is hungry. But, when he can't see me, and he is not at the
surface, he forages in the gravel and does something that might be of
importance. After he finishes a particular section of gravel "mouthing"
he rotates to his side, swims along the bottom on his side then turns
back upright. I don't know if this is "scratching", because I don't
think that he actually touches the gravel surface. It could be because
he is extremely top heavy with his large Oranda wen and chubby cheeks,
and the water current could just be moving him sideways. I don't know
for certain though.
As soon as I get close enough to check, he sees me, and swims to me.
<All normal behavior>
He is a black Oranda and I also noticed that some days he looks more
matt black with a slight frosted white appearance, and some days he is
more shiny. There is no visible shedding of slime coat, he just
sometimes looks matt black, and sometimes more shiny.
The other 2 fishes are still sleeping normally, halfway down tank
height, occasionally paddling.
During the day all 3 swim normally though.
However, worryingly they have all been producing strange faeces.
Sometimes it is long white faecal casts, and sometimes it is pale
crumbly disintegrating bits. And sometimes it is just crumbly in the
colour of the food. Quite thick and not firm or well formed. Definitely
still not normal, almost like their food hasn't been processed at all.
In the mornings I often notice clear long thin strands draping off of an
ornament. I trust this is some sort of faeces too.
<I would not panic; but would add more greenery to their diet...
Pellets, Anacharis/Egeria/Elodea... blanched zucchini, peas>
They have had occasional white casts for months now, and I didn't think
too much of it, and just added more greens to their diet.
They have a quality varied diet of Hikari mini sinking pellets
(pre-soaked to soften), blood worms,
<I'd delete these>
spinach, Spirulina, softened de-shelled peas, occasional fruit, and
Vitalis sinking pellet. I give them 2 small meals a day.
But, now I have lost a fish to dropsy, their faeces is constantly
irregular, either trailing long and loose, small and crumbly, or in long
white or clear casts. I am worried something is not right
internally - possibly parasite or bacteria.
<I discount this, and caution that treatments themselves are stressful;
It has been 8 days since I lost my fish to dropsy, and I have been
closely monitoring all 3 remaining fishes. Frequent water changes,
smaller amount of foods (some pellets soaked in freshly crushed garlic)
and mostly greens, and a slightly higher salt level was my first plan,
rather than throwing meds in straight away.
But, the black Oranda with sleeping issues might possibly be getting
slightly distended in the chest, directly below his head, almost like
his chest is getting bigger. He doesn't look swollen outwards, just
slightly downwards, and it could just be his body shape changing, but it
seems an unusual place to be growing a hump. Because it is a gradual
change, it is hard to tell, but it could be the presence of an internal
parasite growing inside him causing this, or maybe a fluid build-up from
I don't have good access to aquarium meds due to my location in
Australia, so all that I had readily available in terms of parasite
options was Waterlife Sterazin. I had to order it online, and it only
arrived yesterday. I started the course of Sterazin yesterday and have
added this to the aquarium as a precaution to try and eliminate the
possibility of external parasites.
<You would see these>
But I am concerned they may have ingested some bacteria contained within
the faeces from the Dropsy effected fish before I had a chance to
isolate her (they seem to like eating each other's poop!), or they may
have been exposed to bacteria in the water.
<All are continuously. Again; I would not panic>
I have now managed to buy API General Cure from eBay, which will
hopefully arrive in the post in 2 or 3 days time. If the General Cure
arrives quickly, can I continue to treat the water with Sterazin, and at
the same time add the General Cure to the water too?
<I would not... I would NOT use any of this, but continue with efforts
to keep water temperature low, constant, address water quality and
nutrition as you've been doing>
From internet research, I believe the ingredients of both meds are:
Waterlife Sterazin: malachite green 0.08%w/w, formaldehyde
0.2%w/w, Piperazine citrate 0.34%w/w and Acriflavine
hydrochloride 0.055%w/w. API general cure: >80 Sodium Chloride,
1-10 Metronidazole, 1-5 Praziquantel, 1-5 Silica Amorphous,
fumed crystalline free Are these chemicals safe to use together?
<They are... but formaldehyde is a biocide (kills all life) and there's
really no need to use two Anthelminthics. Last time, I would NOT use
these here. Without sampling (slime, feces) examination under a
Or, should I just complete the course of Sterazin, wait 48 hours, do a
large water change and use carbon to remove any remaining meds for a
couple hours, then begin the course of General Cure. Or should I switch
to General Cure as soon as possible?
<None of the above>
I want to eliminate both bacteria and parasite possibilities.
<... You're "shooting in the dark".... A poor idea, practice>
But, adding so many things to the water can affect the biological filter
and stress the fishes, and I won't add anything that isn't necessary.
I appreciate your time and would love some assistance,
<Glad to render my long-experience with goldfishes>
<Welcome. DO write back if something isn't clear, you'd like
Help with Goldfish medication /Neale
<<I would support Bob's comments that "mixing and matching"
medications isn't the solution here. We just can't predict how
they'll interact with each other. I'd be looking at optimising
environmental conditions, for example ensuring the water is
clean, hard, alkaline, and not too warm (22-25 C is about the uppermost
that Goldfish enjoy). Using salt can work well against Whitespot
and Velvet, and can be useful when fish are stressed, but shouldn't be
used indefinitely. That said, Goldfish are tolerant of brackish
conditions, so even fairly saline conditions -- say, 3 gram/litre --
will do them no harm. Such saline conditions will eliminate most types
of external parasite, and tend to be much safer than copper and
formalin. Plus, salt can be used alongside antibiotics without risk of
negative interactions. Even by itself salt can help reduce the risk of
wounds becoming infected, though this assumes the fish's own immune
system is basically sound; salt isn't really an antibacterial at these
sorts of concentrations. The use of Epsom salt is another
completely safe technique, up to a tablespoon per 20 litres
being suitable for raising general hardness (which Goldfish love) while
also having a mild laxative effect that helps against constipation. When
herbivorous fish are off-colour, a good approach is to eliminate all
meat-based foods, and focus entirely on algae, pondweed, canned peas,
etc. Often fish won't show much interest at first, but don't worry --
they'll eat it when they're hungry! The more fibre, the better. It'll
clear out their guts, and it's often constipation that causes Goldfish
to swim oddly. In any case, with a healthier diet herbivorous fish will
get the vitamins and minerals they need, and issues like bloating and
even Dropsy can be reduced/cured. Hope this helps, Neale>>
Re: Help with Goldfish medication 1/15/17
Hi Bob and Neale,
Thank you both for taking the time to read and respond to everything in
I did not know that canned Blood worms are bad. I had frozen
them and cut it into small portions and was giving them a small portion
every second day, but will throw them away now.
<Yes; I would>
Yesterday afternoon I noticed that the black Oranda with sleeping
problems was looking quite shiny, even more then before, except for his
There were 2 small cloudy patches on his top fin. This morning he has a
3mm hole in the middle of the top fin, where one of the cloudy patches
I will do another 35% water change. I trust the Sterazin I put in 48
hours ago has either stressed him, or disrupted the water equilibrium
and caused a bacteria spike.
He also looks slightly more rounded today. No scales sticking out, just
bigger around the rib cage just behind his head, but not at the back
I will not add any more Sterazin. I will swap to a completely greens
based diet for the next 7 days, up the salt, and add Dr Tim's first
defence, and continue with the water changes.
Should I also try Epsom salts which you mentioned to relieve bloating?
It is a 255Litre aquarium, currently with 3 teaspoons of salt per 9
How much Epsom would be a good safe amount considering the current salt
<I would discontinue the aquarium salt use... You can search, see Neale
and I's takes on its regular use. Not warranted. And yes to the
possibility of using Epsom period>
Do you think the top fin hole is bacteria based from stress and will
clear up on its own?
<Can't tell re origin, but yes to the latter>
Thank you again for your time,
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Help with Goldfish medication; hypo.
Hi Bob and Neale,
I did the 70 Litre water change this morning as planned. I will ease off
the salt level gradually. I will try feeding just greens for a week and
see if the black Oranda's sleeping position changes and if this reduces
his/her slightly enlarged chest.
Tomorrow I will add a low dose of Epsom salts to the aquarium. (it will
be interesting to see if it makes them do any super-pooping!)
I am writing back to you again because I just noticed the blue Oranda
(the largest of the 3) has one small white lump at the tip of his anal
fin, and one small lump in the centre of the same fin. I have gone
through pages and pages of info from your amazing website and have
concluded that the small white lumps are bacterial.
<Not necessarily; no. "Just" bumps at times... similar to humans>
I think that my initial panic of parasites may be a bit silly. Surely if
they had parasites I would have known it months ago, and they would be
lethargic, lacking in appetite, clamping their fins, have some sort of
ulcers or specs, and not be active and social.
<The parasites would have had to come from somewhere... biological>
The only parasite that I could find that might stay hidden could be
internal worms or external Costia. But everything I read says Costia
causes clamped fins and a slimy coating, and that intestinal worms
causes wasting. My fishes are not slimy
and they are quite fat!
I have always had a concern about bacteria though. Goldfish are water
piggies and even with strict cleaning regimes, sometimes things can go
astray, especially in warmer water, and when they are feeling stressed.
I apologise for all my crazy panicking, I don't have too much experience
with sick fishes, prevention is better than cure.
But, I lost a fish to Dropsy,
<Or rather, a "dropsical condition"; numerous etiologies possible>
so I am definitely doing something wrong. If the Dropsy was caused by a
bacterial infection (rather than parasites)
from either impacted eggs, or an impacted intestine from constipation,
would this bacteria multiply in the water and cause the fin issues that
I am seeing now on my remaining fishes?
<Sometimes simply "weak genes". More common as time goes by with
these mass-produced, too-inbred strains>
Now I think about it more, when I removed the Dropsy fish and put her
into a quarantine tank, within hours her fins looked like they had been
shredded. I just assumed her fins went like this because her immune
system had given up because of the intense infection. I know that low
levels of bacteria are always present in the water, and the fishes
immune system usually keeps them at bay. This fin shredding bacteria
would have been present on her in the main tank before I had a chance to
isolate her. I hadn't thought about the bacteria that was on her fins
until now, I was only thinking about the fishes eating her bacteria
Do you think that any (or all) of the following is enough bacterial
evidence for me to worry or warrant any form of treatments for my
i.e.. (1) the sudden case of dropsy (+ her shredded fins) and consequent
loss of this one fish 9 days ago
(2) all fishes displaying the stringy faeces, and crumbly not formed
(3) the smallest Oranda with one small split in his tail (that has not
healed at all in 6 days - strange because any splits caused by damage
from netting etc seem to have healed rapidly in past experiences)
(4) the black Oranda with night time surface sleeping, and some surface
chomping. (and possibly slightly weaker swimming action - tipping
sideways in the water current when mouthing gravel, and getting knocked
out of the way by the other fishes when they are "schooling" or in a
(5) the black Oranda with a slightly enlarged chest, best described as a
slight "hump" under his/her chin, where the front fins join the body.
(6) the black Oranda with slightly dull/greyish patches on his top fin
which turned into a 3mm hole overnight
(7) the blue Oranda with a new small white lump on the tip of his anal
fin, and a lump on the centre of the same fin
I do have Myxazin, Pimafix and Melafix in my cupboard if any of these
are needed, as well as (and I hope I never need to use these
antibiotics: Octozin/dimetridazole, Tetracycline Hydrochloride, and
Triple Sulfa). I will also soon have the API General Cure
(Metronidazole/Praziquantel combo). Plus the Sterazin mentioned earlier.
<Am done responding to this. NONE. B>
The loss of a fish made be go a bit crazy buying a whole lot of "just in
Please let me know your thoughts, and thank you for all your time,
Re: Sick 9 year old Oscar 1/13/17
Soooo, the miracle Oscar lives into 2017. He's all cleared up, but
still seems to be having swim bladder issues.
<Likely damaged permanently>
He spends most of his time vertical in the corner. I don't know what his
vent is supposed to look like, but he definitely seems bloated between
his pelvic fin and vent. Poor buddy. He eats about every other day.
A local fish keeper recommended we feed him Koi food, as it is
higher in fiber.
<A good choice>
We have continued weekly 25-30% water changes and biweekly filter
Temp's remained steady at about 77F. Anything we can do to help reset
his swim bladder or relieve his apparent constipation? Amy
<There is a safe, and often effective "lavage" sort of Epsom Salt
treatment that I'd consider. Read here re:
"Medusa" Bristlenose Plecos
Just wondering if the "Medusa" Pleco is one that will eat algae and will
"clean glass" like the regular Bristlenose Pleco? The person at the LFS
said this Pleco will, but that can be just selling. Thank you
<Yes, Ancistrus ranunculus, the Medusa Plec, is indeed as good
an algae eater as any other Ancistrus. Nice fish, but a bit
fussier than standard farmed Bristlenose. In other words, brisk current,
plenty of oxygen, and good water quality. Nothing difficult; it's just
not quite as bombproof as the farmed Ancistrus. Cheers, Neale.>
What's wrong with my Bettas (RMF, feel free to chip in)
I have two Betta fish I got from Wal-Mart 4 days ago and I think
they are really sick I believe both are males they are in different
<Just as well.>
The first two pictures attached are of the Betta i have the highest concern
about he doesn't eat well and just sits at bottom of tank no changed his
water and one of his fins broke off
<Is this the blue fish?>
he's gasping for air and has a copper velvet look to his face and the other
Betta seems ok but has discolor around his face and beard i have NutraFin
Betta plus should I add to their tanks?
<A good rule is not to add medication unless you've diagnosed the problem.
Imagine if your doctor just picked out some random medications and gave them
to you without asking what the problem was! Obviously not a good idea.
So, first things first, need to review the tank. Almost always, sick Bettas
are sick because of their environment. I'm sure there are exceptions but
I've never seen one. So, in other words, let's review the tank. At minimum,
check the biological filter is working, and check the heater is working.
Let me be clear here: lack of filter and lack of heat are excellent ways to
kill Bettas. Grab an ammonia or nitrite test kit, and test the water. Of the
two kits, I prefer nitrite (with an "i", not nitrate with an "a").
Anyway, anything that is not zero is why your fish might be sick. Non-zero
ammonia and nitrite kill fish, quickly or slowly depending on how much over
zero they are. Secondly, look at the thermometer. Your tank should be about
25 C/77 F. Some unscrupulous fish shops will tell you a Betta can be kept in
an unheated tank. Maybe spouting some baloney about central heating or
placing a lamp over the tank. This is rubbish. Unless you keep the heater in
your house set at 25 C/77 F (which is insanely hot!) your room is too cold,
and Bettas are very sensitive to both cold water and, crucially, cold air
(because they breathe air). So check the thermostat, and if necessary, turn
the heater up. Cold Bettas become lethargic, their fins become clamped, they
stop eating, and before long infections get hold of them, including Finrot.>
I also have Marcel CopperSafe medication should i treat both tanks?
<See above. Neither fish seems to have any obvious disease beyond stress, so
my diagnosis would be environmental. Review; correct; wait for nature to
take its course. Adding medications for Finrot or Fungus without fixing the
environmental cause is pointless.>
Can i use these two treatments together? If so how much of each? I have
attached photos of my Bettas and the treatments i have I'm urgently seeking
a response in fear my fish will die soon thank u so much for reading this.
<Let me direct you to some reading:
Aside from that summary, Bob's electronic book is probably the best $6
you'll spend if you're serious about keeping Bettas long term. Hope this
Substrate for my fresh Water refugium
<The? Is there previous correspondence?>
substrate is made of organic potting mix (no fertilizers, at
least as written on a bag)
<I'd be testing... by soaking, perhaps boiling a teaspoon or two in some
water... testing the liquid>
- about 2 inch thick,
<?! This is a BUNCH of material; too likely to "float out"... a mess.
I'd be mixing the soil with fine gravel...>
.5 inch of fine gravel op top of soil and 1-1.5 inch of smooth white
sand (not aragonite) Do you have a tip,
<A tip? I'd be doing more searching here... on WWM, the Krib... Diana
Walstad's works; maybe Takashi Amano. What you have done here so far?...
I set up a fresh water refugium for plants and fry. I bought a bag of
organic potting mix from Menards and put it in the middle chamber and it
<Oh yes; assuredly>
Above is from a blog I got from your site and read the same from others.
<Can't tell what is lifted without quotation marks, notes... Maybe have
someone else read what you send out ahead of time to assure it makes
Assisted Living Community Tank 1/9/17
Hope this e-mail finds y'all well. I am setting up a 220g
(72"x24"x30") tank at a senior assisted living community that I
work at in one of our memory care/activity centers as studies have shown
the benefits of aquarium stimulation in seniors with dementia.
<Sure helps me>
The aquarium will house African Cichlids. Equipment on
the aquarium will be: two 36" LED lights, two Fluval FX6 canister
filters, two 500w titanium heaters with thermostats. First question with
equipment, would a Hydor or
two be beneficial or not?
<Hydor is a manufacturer... they make quite a few products. I'll guess
you're referring to their in-tank pumps... The answer here is yes; I'd
Second the Lifegard external heater chambers, would they work, any
experience with them and are they worth it?
<Mmm; can work... Am not a fan of most Lifegard products... not well
engineered or manufactured (my opinion, history); IF you don't need to
use external heater holders, I wouldn't. Instead, I'd place two two
hundred plus wattage submersibles down near the bottom in the back
corners. Folks won't see the cords, and the likelihood of air exposure
(w/o turning off) and breaking is minimal>
Moving on. The aquarium will have approximately 200lbs of cichlid sand
(white), 100-150lbs of lace rock, stacked in two separate piles one
larger than the other (in theory anyways, we all know how much rock work
gets moved) set on egg crate and possibly glued, and Black painted
The goal is to have as much color and movement as the aquarium would
allow with all stated above equipment. Number of fish and direction is
where I tap out.
Thank you guys and girls in advance for your response. I am really
striving to get this aquarium as right as I can for the benefit of our
residents and their families.
<Please send along pix when you're about done Jacob. Bob Fenner>
Re: Assisted Living Community Tank 1/9/17
Wow that was a quick response. Yes the Hydor I am referring to would be
the in tank Koralia.
I will most definitely send pictures upon completion.
Tank was just ordered so another 2-4 weeks for glass and stand/canopy to
come in. I've looked at some of the cookie cutter guides and well they
just don't go to 220, unless I'm not looking right.
And I don't want to start just doubling, tripling, etc. because I know
it doesn't always work that way.
So I guess that's where I'm needing a little more assistance/guidance.
<With what? B>
Re: Assisted Living Community Tank(RMF, you're the Goldfish expert
<<Two caputs are better than solo! B>> 1/10/17
Well yeah the cookie cutter thing was a different site. Sorry I get
quite in depth in research sometimes and get completely lost on where it
came from occasionally. Stocking. What African cichlid fish to put in
this massive piece of glass to get the most bang for the buck...most
color and most movement.
<<Hello Jacob. I will throw some general advice out here. When it comes
to situations like retirement homes, hospitals and community centres,
some thought has to be given with regard to maintenance. Some weeks the
fish "carer" will be away for vacations, or move to another job, or be
too busy to check the tank. It's a good idea to plan around the
"worst case scenario" so that the fish don't suffer and the tank doesn't
look unsightly. So while fish tanks can/do work great in this
situation, I'd tend to recommend the tougher species that will tolerate
things like high nitrate levels (inevitable in water changes are
missed). I'd also choose adaptable species that don't require any
particular water chemistry to do well (another thing difficult to
manage, especially for beginners). Why mention all of this? Because
Mbuna are quite demanding fish, and if the tank is somewhat less than
perfectly monitored, what you tend to end up with is the hardier
species, often hybridising, and resulting in a rather dull tank of
indifferent looking fish. Mbuna need low nitrate and high hardness, so
one question is how often will water changes be done? Another is what's
your water chemistry, and do you need to add buffering salts to raise
hardness? Not saying Mbuna aren't an option, but will stress they're not
anything like a zero-maintenance option. So, with all this in
mind, what might work nicely? A couple of definite options are cyprinids
and characins, both of which tend to be more tolerant of
nitrate (and "old" water generally) than Mbuna and other cichlids. On
the cyprinid front, don't neglect Goldfish! Big, hardy, colourful, and
out-of-the-box interested in human beings, these are true pet fish that
provide countless hours of engagement to those sitting in front of the
tank. A 200-gallon tank is an amazing volume of water, and would allow,
say, 6-8 specimens of top-quality Goldfish to reach a very healthy adult
size. The varieties on offer are amazing, personal favourites of mine
including the Yellow Goldfish (which looks more like a giant golden barb
than anything else) and the classic Black Moor (probably the toughest
fancy variety in the trade, easily able to coexist with indoor strains).
With 200 gallons Shubunkins really come into their own, their mishmash
of colours working really well if kept as a big school on their own.
Turning to characins, quite a few of the old favourites are tough as
nails. A school of Anostomus anostomus for example is unlike anything
else in the hobby, and with 200 gallons you could keep a big group
without squabbling, and get to enjoy them differently to those of us who
have to keep just one (which is what I have to do!). They get along
great with robust catfish as well as active schooling fish like
Columbian Tetras or Buenos Aires Tetra that have plenty of colour and
movement. Again, a big tank provides space enough for big groups. Both
Goldfish and the hardy tetras are adaptable with regard to water
chemistry, making them especially easy fish to keep. Just some thoughts,
anyway! Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Assisted Living Community Tank
When it comes to maintenance it pretty much falls on me.
I have kept haps and peacocks before and ha e done fairly well.
<Cool. While Haplochromines are much less aggressive than Mbuna, they're
socially a bit more tricky. Females a bit plain, so while a harem would
appeal to an expert fishkeeper intent on breeding, casual hobbyists
either get just males (which speaking as a male myself sounds rather
or else pairs, and the females have such a hard time they often die
prematurely. Tanganyikans are less sexually dimorphic; Tropheus for
example would be an outstanding choice in a really big tank because
they're extremely beautiful but also less prone to aggression in large
groups. One thing about Tropheus is you basically can't mix them with
anything. Partly it's because of the need for large groups. If there's
space for another fish... add another Tropheus! But partly it's their
diet. They must have virtually only algae-based foods. Easy enough with
the right flake food.
But if you add anything else for other types of fish, such as bloodworms
or standard pellets, they're prone to bloating. Anyway, Google
"Tropheus" to get some idea of the range of colours. Some, like Tropheus
Moorii 'Ilangi' are as colourful as any marine fish.>
Have been out of the cichlids since 2005 when hurricane Katrina whipped
out my tanks. Water changes will be 35-50% every two weeks. Myself and
another employee will be responsible for day to day maintenance of the
tank and we
will have a company come in once a month for major maintenance. Two
filters will be cleaned alternately with water changes. All the
buffering chemicals will be on hand. Everything has built in double
redundancy in the tank. Two
filters, two heaters on separate thermostats, two battery backups and
the circuit the tank is on is also on a 500kw generator that will run
for 5 day as I have kept fish for 15 years and I know about water
chemistry and all that fun stuff. I tend to plan for worse case
situations and also discuss all the options. I've discussed South
Americans and goldfish and Africans is the way the company is wanting to
go. I appreciate the very detailed response and I will surely try again.
Betta PopEye question 1/8/17
I have a juvenile Crowntail Betta in a 10 gallon aquarium, whom I
"rescued" about a month ago from Wal-Mart where he sat in very dirty
water for who knows how long. He's about 1.5 inches long and lives on
his own. The aquarium has a heater, a filter stacked with a foam sponge
and ceramic media, an air stone, and some silk plants. I change some of
the water once a week. The water temperature is 80 F, the pH is 7, and
the nitrite level is 0. I feed him small pellets and occasionally a
shrimp log. (He was not interested in live ghost shrimp, which I tried
to give him for a protein boost.)
<Mmm; Ghost Shrimp? Likely much too large...>
He already had bilateral PopEye when I rescued him, though one side was
(and still is) noticeably more swollen than the other, and for the past
month I've tried various treatments to fix it.
<Just good conditions and nutrition... Your good care, will likely solve
these issues in time>
At first I was hopeful clean water would suffice and that he would heal
on his own, but after his first two weeks and there was no change, I
then tried aquarium salt (following the advice of Dr Martin Brammah,
author of The Betta Bible), which seemed to soften the edges of his
swollen eyes a little but didn't do much else, and then put him in QT
with a full course of tetracycline.
Nothing has solved his problem yet, and now his worse eye appears
cloudy, so the condition seems to be worsening instead of improving.
<Mmm; I might try Epsom...>
After searching through your site's articles and FAQs, I am prepared to
try a double-strength dose of Jungle's "Fungus Clear" and 2 TBSP Epsom
salt three times in 5 days with small daily water changes. My questions
are: (1) Do I need to replace the aquarium salt water with plain water
before starting Epsom salts or can they be combined?
<I'd dilute the present salt content by half or so first... Through a
water change or two>
(2) Should I do the double-strength dose of Fungus Clear three times in
5 days as well, or does the "three times in 5 days" only apply to the
<IF you use the Fungus Clear, only dose three times, do NOT triple dose.
If it were me/mine, I'd just the Epsom>
(3) Do I need to QT him for this combined treatment or can I keep him in
his display tank?
<Best to leave, treat in the display tank>
and (4) When should I expect to see improvement, to know
if I then need to move on to something like Chloramphenicol or
<I'd shy away from using these antibiotics. They rarely do much/any good
in these circumstances, and can do real harm. >
Thank you so much!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Injured/damaged Ghost Glass Cats
To whom this may concern
We have a 55g tank. In this tank we have 2 bigger Angel fish, with one
smaller/ younger one. Including 3 ghost glass catfish. One of the
catfish appears to be missing the lower lip now. With a cotton white
puffy area in place. We think the bigger Angel fish might have attacked
<It's possible... or the fish may have "bumped" into something hard>
Not sure what we can do. Any suggestions would help. Don't want to loose
<Ghost Glass Catfish are generally very tough, capable of recovery on
their own given time, good circumstances (propitious water quality and
nutrition). Unless you see the Angels harassing them, I'd leave all as
is in this setting. Bob Fenner>
re: To whom this may concern 1/8/17
We lost the fish shortly after sending the email. Thank you for your
<Thank you for this update. This IS Kryptopterus correct? There are
other species of Siluriform fishes with this common name. Again; I've
handled thousands of these over the years, had friends who used the
research (they can detect the planet's dipole moment)... Best to keep in
a small school; if few specimens, an odd number... 3, 5, 7.
I would not be discouraged by the anomalous loss of one specimen. Bob
Re Identifying Knifefish 1/7/17
Hi guys, so awhile back I had sent you guys some pics of my knife fish but
unfortunately they were too blurry but finally I got some good shots and
uploaded them to Imgur. I'm really hoping you can tell me what he(she) is since
I have spent countless hours on the internet and talking to others in the hobby.
Hope to hear from you soon.
<Not 100% sure, but think that this is Apteronotus leptorhynchus, also known as
the Brown Ghost Knifefish. Basic care identical to the Black Ghost Knifefish,
but looks a bit different and only gets to about 30 cm in length. But does have
a similar beaky-sort of face to the Black Ghost. Does the fish have a pale band
running along its back? If so, definitely
Apteronotus leptorhynchus. Has the 'flag like' tail fin of Apteronotus species
though, and looks to be a fairly big fish, which again accords with Apteronotus.
By contrast Gymnotus species have tails that taper to an almost needle-like
point. Let me direct you again to Fishbase, the Apteronotidae species list,
which has photos at top and also a list of
species with standard lengths at the bottom. Should help you.
Re: Identifying Knifefish
Thanks for getting back to me Neal,
I really appreciate it! I looked at the brown ghost knife and he does look
similar however the stripe that runs down the body starting at the mouth is not
the same on him. He has a very light line but it doesn't start until the back of
his head and it doesn't run down his entire body to the tail.
<So I think we can agree he's related to Apteronotus leptorhynchus, if not quite
Also his coloring is definitely different than the brown ghost knife. He is
black/grey with white splotches down the bottom half of his body. As you said he
is pretty large and his width is 4 inches and he's about 11 inches.
I have him in a community tank right now because I started a new tank for him
but I'm in the middle of cycling it right now and I don't want to put them in it
until it's done cycling so he's in with smaller fish and he's very peaceful with
them except sometimes they won't leave him alone going in his cave so sometimes
he uses his head to ram them out.
<Standard operating procedure for most electric fish, to be honest!>
I also saw him open his mouth once and it's huge!
<Do please check Gymnotus as well as Apteronotus; the two are fairly similar in
body shape, though their tails are different. Gymnotus has a big, big mouth --
as befits a confirmed fish-eater. Gymnotus also tend to be territorial and
aggressive, which doesn't sound much like your chap, but on the other hand, a
variety of Gymnotus species are commonly traded, most of which lack common
I was wondering if it's at all possible that he's a hybrid?
Would different species of knife fish spawn in the wild?
<Yes, but it's uncommon for all sorts of reasons. Still, it does happen.
What is more likely is a related but different species of Apteronotus, or a
subspecies of Apteronotus leptorhynchus even.>
I know most don't care for the company of each other but he looks so different
than any I've seen. His head kind of looks like a dinosaur.
Thanks again for helping me out with this!
Re: Identifying Knifefish; now fdg. 1/8/17
Neal, thanks for such a quick reply. So I have one more question. I feed him
live black worms which he happily slurps up. Is there any other foods I can give
<Definitely needs more variety than this! I'd be looking at earthworms and
gut-loaded river shrimp as staples, and if he takes frozen foods as well, such
as krill or Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp, that'd be great.>
Sometimes I have given him blood worms but I know they shouldn't be a everyday
food. I won't do feeder fish as they carry parasites but what if I breed guppy's
or something similar for him to eat or is this unnecessary?
<In theory home-bred Guppies are safe, but in fact not necessary, if for no
other reason they're more likely to encourage him to view fish as food, which
could cause problems for tankmates. In the wild Apteronotus are more
micro-predators than anything else, and benthic invertebrates such as insect
larvae are probably their main food. They do have substantial appetites though,
so do keep an eye on how rounded his belly looks.
Slightly convex is what you're after, rather than bloated, but shouldn't be
I just want to give him what he needs and deserves.
<Understood and he looks a great fish! Big adult Apteronotus are impressive, and
intelligent, animals that make rewarding pets. They can become quite tame, and
electric fish often become rather quirky as they settle in, with distinct
personalities. At least some species have brain to body weight ratios similar to
mammals, suggesting a high level of intelligence, by fish standards, anyway.
Re: Have treated for Camallanus but still have signs
Hello again, So I finished my last treatment of Levamisole on about the
19th, I had treated my fry tank at the same time I have 7 that are 4
months old and 1 that is 5 months. The adults are doing well, but I am
concerned about the fry. They were fine before the treatment, no
symptoms, happy, swimming, eating etc. they were born in the infected
tank so I wanted to be safe. Now they have clear poop, they are still
eating normally and not all of them have it. What happened, did I upset
their intestines or are they actually infested?
<I'd guess more likely the former. I would cease treatments with
P.S. My platy that had the ich passed away Christmas morning. Luckily
none of my other fish ever got sick.
Potamotrygon, bacterial involvement?
I am trying to find out if Potamotrygon species of stingrays can be infected
<Mmm; yes... I think so. Try the string, "Potamotrygon and Flavobacterium
columnare" and you'll find a few "scholarly articles" linking the two>
A friend recently had new pups appx 7 days ago and now these white
spots/patches have randomly started to appear on them. I have treated
Columnaris on Scats and cichlids for other bacterial and fungal issues
topically with Methylene Blue with great success, but not sure if this would
be OK with Stingrays.
<Methylene Blue should be safe; though I don't know how effective>
I also breed them but have never had this issue. Any help would be
appreciated, I do have a couple pics he sent.
<I'd do your best to produce and maintain "high quality" water; of low total
bacteria count... I.e., massive water changes with soft, acidic new water
frequently; over-filtered, uber-aerated... And optimized nutrition.
Freshwater Aquarium Articles & FAQs
- Set-Up: Gear/Components:, Set-Up, Tanks, Stands, Covers:, Water,
Filtration of All Sorts, Sumps, Refugiums:, Circulation, Pumps,
Powerheads, Aeration, Electricity, Heating/Chilling,
Light/Lighting:; Types of Systems:, Substrates,
- Livestock 1: Stocking/Selection, Biotopes, Quarantine,
Acclimation. Fishes: Stingrays, Inadvanced Bony Fishes, Eels, Tetras
& Their Relatives, Killifishes, Livebearers, Catfishes, Goldfish,
Barbs, Danios, Rasboras, Minnow Sharks, Loaches, Misc. Fish
eBook on Amazon
What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Gouramis, Bettas, Cichlids, Fresh to Brackish
Water Fishes, Invertebrates (Hydra, Worms, Snails, Insects,
eBook on Amazon
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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