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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
Columbian tetra with fin rot from nipping
Hi Neale and Bob,
You helped me save a zebra Danio who was badly injured from a bullying
situation. He has healed beautifully and your suggestions on rearranging the
tank and reintroducing the Danios solved the bullying problem.
<Well, that's a good outcome!>
One of my Columbian tetras appears to be the victim of fin nipping with
accompanying fin rot now setting in. There are two spots visible (see photo).
This school usually gets along great although they do chase one another on
<This species is prone to that. Bigger groups usually help fix the problem. In
any event, medicate as per Finrot.>
I do weekly water changes of 20%. Water parameters are as follows: Zero for
ammonia and nitrite. Nitrates around 20 ppm, gH at 7-8°, temp around 76°F, pH
6.8. I run a canister filter with biomedia that includes matrix and chemical
filtration is Chemipure green. I also run a sponge filter rated for 20 gallons
which is connected to a battery backup air pump (we have frequent power outages
where I live).
Other tank inhabitants are a school of orange laser Corydoras and MTS (substrate
is sand) and Nerite snails. Tank is a 20 gallon planted. I have upped my water
changes to 10% every 3 days since I discovered the fin rot. It does not appear
to be getting worse and the tetra is active and eating but I don't want it to
progress further. I can't use aquarium salt because of the Corys.
<Who told you that? Low salt doses, i.e., 2 g per litre, for treating Whitespot
for example, will do them less harm/cause less stress than traditional
medications using copper or formalin. To be clear, catfish aren't "allergic" to
salt. That's a myth. A lot of salt in the water will cause osmoregulatory
stress, but trivial salt doses are perfectly safe, even with soft water
specialists like Cardinals, let alone Corydoras.>
I do have SeaChem Paraguard on hand that I used to treat my Betta who had fin
rot when I purchased him. Do you think its advisable to treat the tetra in the
tank with Paraguard?
I can relocate the Nerites and the larger MTS who are active at night and
visible on the substrate. MTS are expensive here and only available online so I
would prefer not to kill them off.
<Understood. While Melanoides snails usually handle medications just fine, you
could dump a few in a loosely covered food container with a bit of water and
leave them out of the tank while medicating. They need little care and will go
dormant when cool. The Nerites perhaps a bit more a gamble, being more sensitive
I can also transfer the tetra to a small hospital tank.
<Perhaps put the snails here?>
I had ordered Kanaplex with the intention of adding it to food with their binder
Focus, but I was sent the wrong product so it will be about 5 days until the
Kanaplex arrives. The Kanaplex was my backup plan if the water changes didn't
help. What is the safest course of action in your expert opinion?
<Any medication for Finrot should be fine here. This fish looks in robust
health, and really all you want to do is help knock back the bacteria a bit so
it's own immune system can kick in.>
Thanks for your help (again).
I'm moving everyone to a 50 gallon planted tank that has just finished cycling
once it was settled in and aged a bit. Hopefully that will solve the territorial
<Understood. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Columbian tetra with fin rot from nipping
I am happy to learn that corys can tolerate salt if I ever have to use it in my
<To be clear, as a short-term treatment for Whitespot and Velvet at low doses (2
g/l, for a few days or a couple of weeks). Perfectly safe used that way. But I
would not be adding salt as a regular addition to any community tank containing
relatively soft water fish, whether Corydoras, tetras or anything else from the
Another myth busted.
<It would seem so!>
I went ahead and removed my snails and I'm treating with Paraguard. I will
definitely follow your advice and increase my school of tetras once I've
relocated them to the 50 gallon.
Thanks again for your help.
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Sick discus need help 5/19/18
Hey ! My discus fish is not eating since 3days after the death of his
tank mate and today he has clamped its fin.....and is in stress
<Yes, probably is stressed. May well be suffering from whatever killed
the other Discus in your tank. Review the conditions in the aquarium. To
recap, Discus need a large tank (for a pair, probably over 150 litres/40
US gallons) and certainly need good quality water with the right water
chemistry. In other words, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and a nitrate level
below 20 mg/l. Water chemistry should be relatively soft for farmed
Discus: 1-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5. Wild-caught Discus are more fussy,
and must have very
soft water, more like 1-5 degrees dH, pH 6-6.5. Water temperature should
be relatively high, 28-30 degrees C. Discus are omnivorous in the wild,
and need a varied diet in captivity. They are prone to Hexamita and
Hole-in-the-Head diseases though, both of which are more likely if they
are given monotonous, low-vitamin diets lacking fresh greens; cooked
peas, for example, are usually eaten by hungry Discus without too much
fuss. Cheers, Neale.>
Puffer Fish/Tank Question
Hello WetWebMedia People,
I've emailed you in the past and have always been pleased with the
knowledge you have, so you're my last stop. I've asked some different
puffer groups and no one seems to be able to help, or want to help (I'm
Anyway, here's my issue. I kept a Suvattii puffer in a
30-gallon tank for 3 years. Then in late March I found that he'd
developed some fungus on his body and near his mouth (but I don't think
it was exclusively mouth fungus, which I know can be different). Anyway,
when I've had issues with fungus
in the past, I've used Melafix and/or Pimafix and always had good
<Unreliable medications, at best. I fear they were a poor choice of
I'm wary of using chemicals on my puffers, especially as that particular
tank is planted with live plants. Anyway, after a few days, my Suvattii
puffer died, the fungus had penetrated too far, and I'd caught it too
late I'm guessing.
<See above. The pufferfish sensitivity thing is a bit overstated. While
formalin and copper may well be toxic to them (indeed, they're pretty
hard on most fish) antibiotics and many organic dyes work just fine.>
Well, I bought a couple of crabs and since I didn't want to move them
into a planted tank, knowing that most crabs will shred plants. So I
moved my Abei puffer into the tank the Suvattii had been in, and moved
the crabs where the Abei had been.
The Abei was in that tank from about the 28th of March until yesterday.
I'd seen on Tuesday that the Abei had developed very small dots of
fungus (I'm sure it wasn't Whitespot) and so I started the
Pimafix/Melafix treatment. But yesterday I went to dose the tank and the
Abei had passed away. Now, I did find some uneaten food mixed in with
the plants, I know that isn't good, but what I don't get is that I have
a tank or two that, if it were down to not keeping up with water changes
and having issues, I would think it would be these other tanks, not this
particular tank that has problems. However, something is obviously up
with this tank since I've now had two of my puffer fish get fungus and
both die on me. I cannot figure out what the exact problem is. I've been
keeping puffer fish for at
least 11 years, and have about 9 different species at the moment with no
problems with any of the others. It's something with this tank.
<Possibly. There's certainly an argument for giving the tank a big
Flushing out the tank (i.e., do several 90% water changes) would be
helpful. You should also refresh the filter. Save biological media, but
chuck out any carbon, and if you can, use a high-end chemical adsorbent
like CupriSorb (to remove any traces of copper) as well as fresh carbon
(to remove any unwanted organic chemicals) should ensure good conditions
in the tank. The plants won't appreciate the substrate being dug-up, but
certainly rake over the top a bit, removing any organic muck. Basically,
keep the filter running, but give the tank a really deep clean. The
filter bacteria will need something to 'eat' of course, so a pinch of
flake every day should take care of that.>
So, here I am with a nice big planted tank ... that clearly has some
I don't want to put any other living thing in there until I know what's
going on OR how to sanitize the tank so that it won't hurt any other
fish or aquatic living thing.
<You can't sterilise an aquarium with plants and a filter.>
I am hoping you can help me out here. I'd really like to stay away from
anything that may kill the live plants in the tank because I started out
with just a couple plants to now having quite a few plants and it
looking very nice.
Just to say, when the first puffer got fungus I did check the
temperature of the tank, which was a bit high, so I adjusted the
thermometer and now it's where it should be. I clean the tank at regular
intervals and it's got a good powerful filter in there. The only thing
of course was finding uneaten food among the plants (each time with both
puffers). Also, and I'm not sure this matters, but that tank gets a fair
amount of light from a window, though not enough to produce algae, so
not sure if that matters or not.
<It can do. Direct sunlight will elevate temperature dramatically
(lowering oxygen concentration) so that needs to be considered. Algal
blooms are a common problem with direct sunlight as well, but this is
less of an issue provided the algae is healthy and removed periodically.
What you don't want is pea-soup water or clumps of blue-green algae.>
I'm really hoping you can help me with this. That tank is a nice size
and while I have 13 other tanks, they are all happily occupied and I'd
like to keep this tank and be able to use it. But I don't want to put
anything in there until I can figure out what the issue is, because I
don't want to kill any more fish, especially my puffer fish.
Hoping you can help.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Puffer Fish/Tank Question 5/19/18
Thank you so kindly Neale for taking the time to reply to my query. I do
have a couple of additional questions now.
How many 90% water changes should I do?
<Diminishing returns after a while. But 3-4 should be ample. Only a tiny
fraction of 'old' water will be left by then.>
And I'm guessing that after I'm done those, then I should do the
<Actually, the CupriSorb is more about copper being leached out of
objects (such as rocks) in the tank. Plain vanilla water changes will
dilute the copper in the water, but anything chemically bound with, for
example, calcareous rocks will slowly leach out when the concentration
drops in the water. What you want is the CupriSorb to soak up that
copper before it has a chance to harm your fish.>
And how long after all of that should I wait before adding aquatic life?
<Certainly after your water changes, but alongside the CupriSorb should
be fine. If you leave the tank empty for longer, that runs the risk of
the biological filter dying back in the absence of ammonia for the
bacteria to use up. Besides the CupriSorb, be sure to use a water
conditioner that neutralises copper (and heavy metals generally).>
Also, for future references, what is a good "medicine" for puffers with
<I've used eSHa 2000 with my puffers several times, seemingly without
problems. Methylene Blue is the classic anti-Fungus, and considered safe
enough it's widely used with fish eggs and fry. It's debatable whether
it's safe with Puffers (some aquarists have reported problems, but by no
means all) so if you opted to go the Meth Blue route, you'd want to keep
a very close eye on your fish, perhaps even half-dosing, and certainly
upping aeration during the process.>
I haven't had any for years until the Suvattii got it, and while I've
always had good results with the Pima and Melafix .... I respect and
trust your experience, so would definitely try anything you think would
<I'm open minded to both having some utility as preventatives, helping
damaged fish resist infections via their own immune systems. They might
also help against minor infections; certainly tea-tree oil has fairly
well-established antimicrobial properties. But I personally doubt
whether either is a reliable heavy-duty treatment comparable to the
classic medications once a fish is really sick and weak.>
Again, thank you ever so much for taking the time to help me here.
<Glad to help.>
I really didn't know who to turn to, as I don't trust internet
information much these days.
<When it comes to puffers, ThePufferForum is a good place to visit.
Those guys are very serious and have lots of experience. There's at
least a couple of folks there who're WetWebMedia 'alumni', so there's
Oh, and how do you feel about using Koi clay in puffer tanks? Yeah or
<Probably not that big of a deal either way. Koi, like Goldfish,
appreciate hard water with an alkaline pH. So definitely, there's
mileage in adding minerals to soft water conditions. We don't really
understand how fish absorb 'nutrient' minerals from the water they're
swimming in, but that may be just as important as the way minerals
affect pH and hardness. But (freshwater) pufferfish from Southeast Asia
aren't typically coming from heavily mineralised environments, so I
can't see Koi Clay doing anything special.>
It was something suggested to me, but I really know nothing about using
such a thing.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Puffer Fish/Tank Question (RMF, anything to add re: fungus on
puffers AND Koi clay?)<<Ah, no. B>>
A big "Thank you" to WetWebMedia and Neale Monks for helping me.
Excellent advice and very much appreciated.
<You're most welcome! Neale.>
11 year old Female Red Eared Slider Turtle
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have an 11 year old female red eared slider turtle and I let her roam
around my house sometimes for an hour or so.
Well I just noticed that
1. She will literally climb out of her tank.
2. She will sit down on my floor and push her butt in the air and lay
her head down and act like
she's swimming with her front paws.
Can someone explain to me what's going on?
<Yep - She's being a dork>
<She really shouldn't be able to climb out of her tank. Too many dangers
there. Make sure she can't do that>
<I see that behavior once in a great while. On a textured floor like
carpet, I always assumed it was an attempt to dig -- since that's
exactly the position a female takes when starting to dig a nest. On a
surface, something they don't encounter in the wild, I think they may be
trying to swim through it.>
<Either way, it's not an illness>
I need to understand Biofilm
I think I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I was turning my 55
gallon tank into an "Eel Tank." That's done and the eels (Macrognathus
pancalus according to the supplier) are doing well. I don't know if its
because they are the only fish in the tank or if this is consistent with
this species, but they are rarely under the sand (only when I do "scary"
things like water changes - and sometimes not even then).
<Indeed; and floating plants even encourage them to hang out at the
surface. Spiny Eels do vary in temperament of course, but when care for
properly, they're not especially shy.>
They are constantly swimming around the tank and are a lot of fun. And I
don't want that to change, but I need something in that tank to eat
<I would stick with invertebrates, perhaps Nerites. Something that won't
compete for food, at least.>
The tank is older and has some scratches which seems to accumulate algae
that spreads out from there. But I don't want to put in an algae eater
for fear of it frightening the eels and driving them permanently under
<Agreed, and again, Nerites are great at keeping glass and things like
rocks clean. They're less good for clearing plants.>
So I've been doing some research and came across a fish called a
"Rainbow Goby" aka "White Cheek Goby" (my aquarium store has one and
they're "holding" it for me until I make my decision).
<This is Rhinogobius duospilus, a temperate to subtropical species from
China. Not really suitable for tropical tanks. More a mountain stream
I read that this fish feeds on "biofilm" and my research on biofilm
defines it as "...a thin film on the surface of aquarium water, caused
by the build up of protein from organic waste material. It is the
structure bacteria build to support themselves growing on the surface
where they get access to oxygen and the material...". Is this the type
of biofilm this fish feeds on?
<Possibly. They're easily fed with bloodworms and the like, and aren't
at all fussy. Most failures will come from overheating them.>
Does this fish feed at the surface?
Because the filter on this tank produces a moderate current and I don't
see how the fish will be able to eat in that current when it only gets 2
<Oh, gobies are fantastically well adapted to living in strong water
Will the tank ornaments and/or the sides off the tank accumulate enough
off this biofilm for this fish to feed on? The Internet says this fish
will "sometimes" accept bloodworms and such, but if I need to provide it
with biofilm that's what I want to do. I don't want to get this fish and
watch it starve to death so any information you can provide will be, as
always, greatly appreciated.
<In this instance, biofilm probably means the same thing as 'aufwuchs',
the combination of green algae and tiny invertebrates that develops on
rocks in fast-flowing habitats such as mountain streams and rocky reefs.
A combination of algae wafers, brine shrimps, bloodworms, and so on will
satisfy Rhinogobius spp., and my specimens were really rather greedy!
Re: I need to understand Biofilm 5/19/18
I'm sorry, I should have been specific - the supplier lists this
fish as Stiphodon ornatus. Or is that a subspecies o
Rhinogobius spp (the Internet doesn't reference beyond Stiphodon)?
<Not heard of Stiphodon ornatus as "White Cheek Goby", but it is sold as
the "Rainbow Goby". All Stiphodon are Hillstream specialists native to
coastal streams and offshore islands around the Indo Pacific region,
used to cool, clean water with plenty of oxygen. While freshwater fish
as adults, they have a marine stage as juveniles, which means they're
difficult to breed in captivity. Most, if not all, are wild-caught.
Together these facts mean they're relatively demanding fish. They do
poorly in the average community tank, but will thrive in a steam setting
alongside midwater fish (such as Danios or White Cloud Mountain Minnows)
that aren't competing for food. Avoid mixing with benthic fish such as
loaches that tend to cause problems either by stealing food or else
becoming territorial and harming the gobies. Diet isn't a major issue
provided the tank is sufficiently brightly lit there's a decent amount
of green algae growing.
Together with green algae, they'll happily take the sorts of frozen
foods offered to marine grazers (such as tangs and angelfish) that
include Spirulina algae alongside, for example, brine shrimp. They may
take algae wafers and Spirulina flake as well. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: I need to understand Biofilm 5/20/18
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Undiagnosed disease. 5/17/18
Hello crew, i hope you are doing well, as always.
With the coming of winter, and slightly colder temperatures, i started using
heaters in my tanks. (it was getting below 22 C).
One day i woke up to a Columbian tetra caught between the heater and the glass.
I dislodged him and he went onto normal, except that he had an horrible vertical
searing wound. It looked pretty horrible. I observed the fish for the following
days and he looked to be healing pretty well. When everything looked good, he
developed white, round growths on his wounds. It started slow, and i tried to
net him many times out, but netting him out of a 150 gallon heavily planted tank
is... hard. I decided to just keep on water changes daily and keep clean
The growths disappeared, and he seemed to heal completely. a week after the
growths came back more aggressively, but still advancing slowly. Maybe a new
growth every 2 days or so. I finally netted him out and put him on quarantine. I
am concerned between three different ailments which are listed on your website:
Lymphocystis, fungus or Columnaris.
<It doesn't look like Lymphocystis from the photographs of the Mollies and the
Siamese Algae Eater. Conceivably Whitespot, but more likely Fungus, Columnaris,
or perhaps Costia.>
i treated him with tetracycline and Methylene blue (correct me if im wrong, this
has formalin right?).
<Formalin may be an ingredient in commercial medications, but these two
chemicals are specific things, and in themselves, not formalin.>
Not sure if the treatment worked, as it jumped out overnight...
Fast forwarding a couple days, both fish pictures, a black molly and a SAE,
developed the same growths. They don't have any wounds, they just started
developing the growths. It seemed as first that single scales were popping out,
then in the place of the pooped out scale appeared the growths. Some growths
have disappeared, but they have left red open wounds.
I have the molly in a 5 gal and treated with tetracycline, Methylene blue.
<Methylene Blue is effective against fungal infections, but will have little/no
impact on Costia or Columnaris (also known as Mouth Fungus). Fungal infections
often set in alongside other types of disease, which can be why Methylene Blue
seems to help a bit, even where the actual problem is a protozoan or bacterium
It seems to be working, albeit slowly. I am keeping on water changes on both the
main tank and the quarantine, but what do you think is a correct diagnose?
<See above. Costia is typically associated with off-white to grey smears (hence
'Slime Disease') and can develop extremely rapidly. It usually respond best to
anti-Whitespot medications, albeit slowly enough 2-3 rounds of treatment may be
required. Columnaris (or Mouth Fungus) is bacterial in nature, so antibiotics
are ideal, but failing that, some type of antibacterial medication used for
external infections such as Finrot. I'd perhaps be looking at something like
eSHa 2000 in the first instance, as it's fairly broad acting, dealing with a
range of external bacteria and fungal infections. It also works well (and
safely) alongside eSHa EXIT, which is a very good against external Protozoans.
Since both these medications are cheap and widely sold, they're my favoured
combination for use against difficult to identify, though obviously external,
I went out and bought an API medicine that is supposedly for fungus. It is
Victoria green (malachite green?) and Acriflavine. I can get Acriflavine
separately for cheaper. Should i add, this sickness doesn't seem to be stressing
them, they are eating normally, even the Columbian was doing so, even when
heavily infested, it is developing, albeit very slowly.
I will be waiting input, so far no other fish have developed the growths, but it
has shown it doesn't need an open wound to do so.
As always, thanks, WWM.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Mysterious s/nail 5/16/18
I was searching the web trying to identify some mysterious nails in my
freshwater nano tank. And I came across a photo of the snail I’m trying to
identify and it was tagged with your website on it. Could you guys take a look
at this and maybe tell me what kind of snail I have in
my tank and whether or not it’s beneficial or not?
<Physa... your reading on WWM, elsewhere>
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Re: Mysterious s/nail 5/16/18
Thank you very much.
<Certainly welcome Martin. BobF>
Betta Breathing Hard; dis., sys. f' 5/15/18
Good morning All!
Glad you're still here! It's been a couple of years since I had a fish.
I've had my Betta "Pety" since the end of March. I got him from Petco. He was
beautiful except for a little tattering on his tail. I figured clean water would
take care of that, but it's still there in additional to a
little more splitting from excessive flaring and playing in the filter I
believe. It took him a couple weeks to calm down. He was fighting his evil twin
quite a bit!
My set up is a lone Betta in a 10 gallon tank with filter and heater set to 80
degrees. Plastic plants that are all Betta friendly and a few Marino balls. I
had all Anubias but they got that disease so I pulled them out. My tank is fully
cycled. It cycles in two days always with Tetra Safe Start which I love. My
param.s are always 0/0/5-10. My ph is always high at 8 and I live in Southern
Cali and my water is very hard.
<Ah yes; I'm in San Diego; we call the tap "liquid rock"...>
I always wonder if I should do a 50/50 tap and distilled water.
<Mmm; I'd just use the tap for what you have here. Likely the hard, alkaline
water was a factor with your Anubias>
I read so many different opinions. Do you think it will make a difference? If so
I'd like to give him the best home.
<Well; would be better w/ a middling 7's pH... But, the troubles folks have with
such adjustments.... IF you're going the modification of pH route, DO such
changes with new water OUTSIDE the tank, SAVE it ahead of time for use (like a
This is the first time I've had sand substrate and I had a hard time learning to
get it clean. I watched so many YouTube videos, but for a while I had this
debris floating on top of the water with a little cloudiness. In addition there
was also debris in the water column that looked like clear straight lines about
1/4th inch. I'd do 50% water changes 2-3 times a week trying to clear it up to
no avail. I know it was not good for Pety to breath that in plus he had the
tattering on his fins.
Also I think he lost a fin ray before I got him too. See it dangling on the
<Mmm; not really. This fish looks good/great. Very healthy>
I finished treating him with Kanaplex in his food a couple weeks ago.
Nothing changed. Before that I tried salt for 10 days nothing changed.
Maybe my water quality wasn't good enough.
For about the last 1 1/2 weeks he's been breathing harder. I thought it was due
to all the floaties in the water. On Saturday, I finally kicked up the flow on
the filters. I have two mini internals with spray bars.
Pointed at the walls they make basically no current. I turned one up to the
water line. Said to myself Pety is going to have to get use to it.
It's still pretty tame though and he's doing ok. I finally tried a sand
vacuuming technique that worked for me.
I hold the vacuum at an angle and let the back end touch the sand and glide
across. It doesn't pick up any sand! And I got out the most poo ever.
Finally! I did a 75% water change. Right after, I tried this DIY technique from
the DIY King on YouTube. I cut out a 16oz plastic bottle and attached it to a
power head. Packed the plastic bottle with filter floss and ran it for 15
minutes. Finally my tank is clear!
However, I stressed out Pety. I cupped him and let him float in the tank to keep
him warm while I ran the power head. However he was freaking out and moving side
to side. So I took him out the tank and sat him on the counter and put a towel
over him to calm him down. The whole process was 15 min. Then I released him
back in the water. A little later I noticed he was breathing harder. This was on
Saturday. On Sunday he was still breathing hard. Still swimming around as usual
and eating, begging for
food etc. I then added 5 teaspoons of aquarium salt along with an air stone to
help with his gills. I wonder if the breathing problems started because of the
debris in the tank and escalated because of the stressful water change.
<What are your measures of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? Temperature?>
This morning (Monday). He's still breathing hard. Looks like his gills are
sticking out a tad. Could he have Gill Flukes?
But he never flashes. I have PraziPro at home. I didn't want to just drop meds
in his tank, but I'm very concerned over his breathing. And I'm concerned about
his fins not healing, they are a little worse then the above pic now, but the
splitting is not progressing it's pretty much staying the same. Maybe it doesn't
heal because of the water quality.
<This IS the mostly likely cause>
Also I forgot to mention I keep Indian almond tannins in his tank and I've been
using Seachem Stress Guard for his fins, but again no improvement.
<These are fine to use>
Thanks for your help!
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta Breathing Hard 5/17/18
Hi again, I tested his water and couldn't believe it had .25ppm of
That's the second time in 2.5 months that I lost my cycle. I did a 75% water
change and added the Tetra Safe Start and 24 hours later, no more ammonia. Last
week I did four water changes on my 10gal tank.
<So much change can disrupt nitrification. Hence my urging folks to pre-mix,
store change out water ahead (a week) of use>
He's still breathing harder since Saturday, but swimming and eating normally. In
addition, the bottom of his beard is always sticking out.
There is salt in his tank. Not sure if I can do anything else?
I had been changing the water so much due to the debris as I hadn't gotten the
sand cleaning down pat.
<I encourage you to consider switching this sand out for larger grade... gravel>
Also he has some splitting on his fins. This morning I noticed another small
missing piece. I turned the filter back down. I read to do many water
changes to improve this, but I can't if I keep losing my cycle.
<Changing the water out is not a viable solution.... You need a steady bacterial
population... in filter media, gravel....>
I'm not even sure if it's rotting or just splitting. It doesn't look red, black,
melting or infected but it's not healing. There's more and more splitting and
tears here and there.
<.... the issue here is too much water change, ammonia>
I thought about putting him in a small tank and doing daily water changes. I did
that with another Betta in the past and It worked. But that seems drastic and I
know he won't like it, but at what point do I make
<Perhaps reading a few hundred responses on WWM re Betta splendens;
Plus I did that with 1tsp of salt per gallon. I'm not sure how often that is
safe to do. I've had salt in his tank since Sunday.
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Goodeids, gen. 5/12/18
I was wondering if there was anything else that you could tell me about
Goodeids, besides what is already on your site.
<What do you need to know? Which species are you interested in? There are a fair
number of species, and while the group is pretty consistent in some ways, there
is some variation among species. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goodeids 5/16/18
hi, I'm very sorry about the late reply. I'm doing a project on the conservation
of endangered Goodeids and i was wondering what you might know about how to
conserve a species (specifically freshwater live bearers).
<What have you found out so far? For sure I'd be happy to add some comments,
though from the perspective of the aquarist. Yes, there are species that exist
only (or at least mainly) in captivity such as Ameca splendens. But there are
issues about simply releasing these tank-bred specimens into the wild that we
can talk about in detail later. Conversely, livebearers introduced outside of
their natural range can cause headaches for those trying to conserve other
species of fish. Mosquitofish are well known (and well studied) in this regard.
So anyway, if you tell me what you've found out about so far, I can throw in
some extra details. In the meantime, Wikipedia is a good starting point, but the
IUCN website is
probably a better resource. Fishbase another good starting point. All of these
will provide online/print media links that you will find useful.>
also if you know anything about their taxonomy that would be helpful as well.
<Again, yes, I know a fair bit about their taxonomy. But I'm hesitant to simply
write it all down for you without establishing what you've already learned thus
far. Wouldn't want to waste each other's time. So where are you at in this
regard? To what extent have you pinned down the families, genera or species you
wish to review? Do bear in mind freshwater livebearers range from Poeciliidae
and Goodeidae through to things like Halfbeaks and Stingrays, so there's a lot
of diversity within this grouping. Furthermore, sub-species level taxonomy can
be complex, with numerous subspecies, geographical races, even simple
polymorphism evident (see Micropoecilia parae as a good example). Conserving a
species often ends up more difficult that simply conserving the species
generally, but ensuring each distinct population is conserved, and gene flow
between them minimised. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Goodeids 5/19/18
<Hello again Lance,>
I'm sorry i wasn't more specific. I have already spoke to Greg Sage and he
explained to me the tank conditions needed to maintain and breed the species and
he told me that the GWG (Goodeid Working Group) is mainly a database for
Goodeids and really doesn't do much in regards to actual conservation work.
On top of what Greg told me I learned about Species like Zoogoneticus tequila,
Ameca splendens, and Characodon laterais. what i need to know is the higher
taxonomy of split fins up to order and family.
<These three species all belong to the family Goodeidae, which is in turn part
of the order Cyprinodontiformes, alongside a number of other families including
the Poeciliidae (i.e., Guppies, Mollies, etc.) Aplocheilidae (i.e., the southern
hemisphere killifish), and the Cyprinodontidae (i.e., the north American
Pupfish). Most of these fish are small, freshwater species adapted for life in
shallow streams, ponds, and so on. Broadly, these are the fish we call
livebearers and killifish, so obviously some families lay eggs while others give
birth to baby fish. Nonetheless, there are some half dozen killifish families,
and at least three livebearer families, so it's a complicated picture. Do look
at the Wikipedia page on
Cyprinodontiformes for more.>
I also have not seen anything about Goodeid conservation so anything you can
tell me about it would help, like what are the specific trouble of introducing a
species to the wild or if there are groups working on the problem and how they
are going about it.
<If you do some research on Ameca splendens, for example on ResearchGate.net,
you'll come across papers such as "Captive breeding promotes aggression in an
endangered Mexican fish" and "Aggression in captivity and the implication for
interspecific aggression between once sympatric species of Mexican Goodeid". In
short, the idea is that in captivity fish get better quality food, so can get
away with spending less time foraging and more time fighting. Over the
generations, aggressive males are favoured because there's no cost to being
aggressive, but a positive benefit with regard to passing on your genes more
often. In the wild this wouldn't happen -- overly aggressive males would likely
starve because they don't forage for long enough to stay alive. Anyway, over
30-40 years, this seems to have happened with Ameca splendens, which is much
more aggressive than it was in the wild when first collected. So if we just
dumped captive fish in Mexican rivers, they'd either end up starving to death,
or more likely, they would be so aggressive they'd harm other wild fish that
they're living alongside. We've also got the problem of reduced genetic
diversity. Aquarists tend to favour certain genes, whether deliberately (e.g.,
nicer colours) or subconsciously (e.g., fish that mature and breed younger
produce more fry over their lifetimes, which often means the adult size of the
species ends up smaller after several generations). Reduced genetic diversity
makes a species less adaptable to changing environments, reducing the chances of
long-term survival. Make sense? Cheers, Neale.>
cloudy 2 year established goldfish 30 gallon aquarium
I've had fancy goldfish and Orandas in a my aquarium for two years, all of a
sudden the water is staying cloudy and I lost one of my goldfish. The goldfish
had been swimming off and on upside down for 2 months or so and then one evening
I notice he was staying upside down more than upright and that his fins were
very ragged. I flushed him because he wasn't breathing very well either. Soooo I
checked the ammonia levels a couple of weeks ago and it was perfect, now its out
of the scale of high....its blue...... I've used Prime and did 1/3 water change,
changed the filter and put in ammonia chips with filter and still cloudy. today
I put ammo lock in.....WHAT DO I DO???Thanks, Donna
<Donna, let me have you do some reading first:
Cloudy water usually indicates either filtration problems or water chemistry
problems. If ammonia is high, that suggests the former.
Substantial, daily water changes will certainly help; and don't feed until the
tank has settled down. Zeolite (ammonia removing chips) can help in the short
term, but longer term, you need to figure out how the existing filter failed.
Often simply adding a second filter can help, especially if the tank was fine
when the fish were small, but now they're bigger, the tank has become more
difficult to maintain. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: cloudy 2 year established goldfish 30 gallon aquarium
thanks!!!! they are getting much bigger! second filter and water
changes......here I go!
<Ah, right, seems like you have a plan. Cheers, Neale.>
Carassius pop eye 5/12/18
Hello, I’m Maite, and I have a fish with a strange bubble in the eye, I search
everywhere to know what It is, but I didn't find anything. So I write to You, if
You know something about this. It is acting weird this days, it stays hidden
behind the filter, and the skin is getting whiter.
This is an image of my fish
<The eyes of fishes are highly vascularized... lots of blood vessels, flow
there. This fact is capitalized on in the "breeds" of goldfish with bulbous
eyes. Yours here may have suffered an injury, but I suspect it is just of poor
genetic stock. There is no sure cure for this condition... You might want to try
Epsom Salt (see WWM re).
If the fish doesn't cure... it will likely perish.
Adding Julidochromis to existing tank 5/12/18
I have an established tank (about 5 years old) with Neolamprologus
multifasciatus colony (total 9 fish). Do you think I can safely add pair or
maybe even single Julidochromis transcriptus or other similar Julies
species. Photo of my 20 hexagon tank is below.
<It is going to be dicey, to be honest Mark, but not impossible. Julies operate
strictly in terms of surface area, not depth. So they'll be expecting a certain
amount of real estate somewhere among the rocks. Your 20 gallon tank (assuming
that's what it is) will be taller rather than wide, which puts a premium on the
types of habitat the Julies will be after. Your little Neolamprologus work much
the same way, albeit favouring shells or burrows. If you can rearrange the tank
in such a way there are a nice mix of shells towards the bottom, and a raised
mountain of rocks up the back, say, where the Julies can make their territories,
you might be okay. You'd want one of the smaller Julie species of course, simply
of the size of the tank, and bear in mind all Tanganyikans are sensitive to
water quality issues, so you can't compromise in this regard. Of course both
kinds of fish are zooplankton feeders, so in that sense at least you shouldn't
have too many problems. Cheers, Neale.>
Black ghost knife fish, glass catfish, and neon tetras
Thank you for your website. It’s very informative.
<Hello Vicki, and thanks for the kind words. However, sending 20 MB of
attachments completely messed up our email box, which causes some people's
messages to be sent back to them as undeliverable. We do politely ask people
keep attachments down to a minimum size, around 500 kB for images, by resizing
them in a graphics application of their choice.>
I have queries about 3 fish species.
I have a BGK (see photos attached). Out of its anus this pink growth has
suddenly appeared (happened 4 days ago). At times what appears to be
faeces still is coming out so don’t think it’s a blockage. It’s behaviour
remains unchanged. It’s still appears happy and is swimming around and eating.
I’ve read on your website not to feed it blood worms (unsure why?). What else
can we feed it other than bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia? I have been
feeding it bloodworms and brine shrimp and it has also been eating vegetarian
food I put out for my bottom feeders (such as spinach, broccoli, carrot, shelled
peas, couchette, cucumber, and pellets) and flakes. I apologise for the grainy
photos but it is very difficult to get clear images from a fish tank.
<I'm not sure this is the anus of the fish. Looks a bit far forward. The anus
should be well past the gill covers, and close to the front of the anal fin. But
if it is what you say it is -- and you can see the fish better than me! --
then a prolapse may be the issue here. Various reasons for this, but
often internal protozoan parasites or worms at the cause. Medicating with
Metronidazole alongside a good antibiotic such as Nitrofuran would be my first
move. Deworming is worth a shot, for example with PraziPro. Sometimes prolapses
are triggered by dietary shortcomings, so review this aspect alongside
One of my glass catfish appears to have white spot? I’ve been
treating it with Melafix and Pimafix for 6 days and it remains unchanged.
Same with the neon tetras who have had continuous growths and damage to
their fins since we got them (8 weeks or so). We’ve been treating them with
Melafix and Pimafix in a hospital tank but they don’t seem to be getting better.
<These are both somewhere on a sale from unreliable to useless.>
We’ve even tried “tonic” a mixture of Methylene blue mixed with malachite green.
It didn’t work.
<Indeed not; neither of these is considered first-rate anti-Whitespot
medications. The old salt/heat method works well if this truly is Whitespot (2
gram salt/litre water, plus water temperature raised to 28 C) but many aquarists
simply prefer to use a commercial anti-Whitespot medication, such as eSHa EXIT.>
We have even tried feeding them with their flakes soaked in Seachem garlic
guard. We don’t want to keep treating our fish and would like these issues
<Again, nothing about garlic treats Whitespot.>
Other fish that live with the BKF and glass catfish are Plecos, Kuhli loaches,
black neons, clown loaches, chain loaches, striata loaches, varies Gourami,
female Betta, golden tetras, albino shark, bristle nose catfish, and Colchis
blue (I think they are called).
<No idea what that last fish might be! But in any case, Black Ghost Knifefish,
most catfish, and most loaches are very intolerant of copper and formalin, so
choose medications very carefully. The salt/heat treatment is safe with them, as
are Metronidazole and true antibiotics.>
We use RO DI water and all our parameters are perfect.
<I'd prefer the actual parameters over your interpretations, to be honest. But
providing you have fairly soft to middling water chemistry (1-12 degrees dH, pH
6.5-7.5) this mix of fish should be fine. I trust you are not using pure RO
water, but are adding something to it, whether hard tap water or commercial
Discus buffer? Straight RO water is not helpful.>
Tanks are well oxygenated as well.
Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Re: Black ghost knife fish, glass catfish, and neon tetras
Thank you for your prompt reply. I apologise for sending through large
photos. Will know for next time.
I appreciate your help.
<You are most welcome! Good luck, Neale.>
Blobs/Bubbles/White; Crayfish hlth.
Apologies for emailing I was attempting to put up a post of desperation but
could not work it out, my daughters crayfish "Mr. Sausage" who's she adores, was
flailing around last night in his tank and lying on his side in what looked like
an attempt to shed, he is around a year old and he has shed successfully many
times. He just sits in his House not moving much, but these white/cream things
have appeared to be oozing from underneath his shell, which the only way to
describe is his under fleshy bits coming
though his shell. They have grown as the day has gone on.
The water is good had it tested this morning,
<Please send data, actual measurements>
could this be a failed shed or something else.
<Yes; easily. Most celebratedly a deficit of iodide/ate can/does lead to such
He is moving but not too much and not often....worried he will be dead by end of
day when she gets home.
Any ideas of what it is or how to fix it.
<The I2 supplement. Something like SeaChem's (reef) Iodide:
Don't be thrown by its marine use labeling; safe to use on Crayfish>
thank you for your help in advance. Couple of pictures attached
<I would have you read here re Cray health:
and the linked files in this series (at top). Bob Fenner>
Ropefish collecting in the wild questions
I have been scouring the net for months collecting as much info on
Ropefish as I can find. I’m attempting a breeding project with them and
I’m trying to write a very detailed paper. My question is about how they
are collected in the wild. I’ve been trying to find someone to
correspond with that has seen them collected or knows how they are
collected and I really want to find pictures or better yet video of the
habitat they are being pulled from. Also it would be nice to speak to
someone about what the locals know about the fish and what they know
about them breeding. I saw a post on here where Neale mentioned speaking
to someone at Interzoo who was associated with their export from Nigeria
and I would love more info on that.
<Actually, am pretty sure that was me relating the anecdote. If memory
serves, the gentleman told me that a group places a fence of woven reeds
about a shallow, emersed planted area where Ropefish congregate, and
sometimes using a local/organic poison, narcotize the fish, pulling the
plants out and gathering them for export>
I really appreciate any help you can give or anyone else you might know
that I can contact. Thank you so much.
<Don't know re reproduction; but pretty sure they and some of the
related bichirs have been captive-produced. Will ask Neale Monks re. Bob
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions /Neale
I know they have been bred a few times with the offspring making it
about 18 weeks at the longest before dying of unknown causes.
<Indeed, these have been less often bred than Bichirs.>
So I’m trying to figure out if simulating wet and dry season will help
keep the offspring alive.
I’m also trying to find any info I can on how they are collected because
I feel like something that is happening when they are collected might be
hurting our chances of tank breeding them.
<Ah, a good way of thinking. I would also have you look into their
actual ecology. Erpetoichthys is increasingly recognised as an
amphibious fish rather than a fully aquatic one. Waterlogged vegetation,
swamps, and other complex habitats are where they live, and their
familiar sidewinding locomotion is precisely how they move across wet
land. They are well adapted to breathing air, can spend hours on land so
long as they are wet, and may well actively avoid clear water where
competition (or predation) from other fish is too strong. In other
words, we're looking at something more like a Mudskipper than a typical
fish. I'd use Google Scholar to learn more. There's plenty of
information out there.>
And I’m wondering if they have different techniques in different areas
where they are caught. Similar to how some fish are sedated for shipping
and thing like that having an impact. I appreciate your fast response
and am excited to see if anyone else has any more info or a connection
to someone with more info I can talk too.
<One thing I'd be thinking about is their clearly obligate need for air
rather than water. Newly hatched fish may well be adapted to very
shallow water, well away from predators, but in turn, reliant on being
able to locomotor to the surface to gulp air. It may well be you'd want
to hatch the fish in very shallow water, maybe a couple cm, maybe even
less, to replicate this ecological niche more accurately. Warm and humid
air will be part of the mixture too; if anabantids are any indication to
go by, breathing cold or dry air can have a strongly negative impact on
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions
That actually helped a lot.
I really do think that the dry season in particular must have the most
to do with fry survival.
<May well be.>
I have added a “turtle” dock to my set up and covered it with moss.
<Ah, yes, sounds about right to me.>
I have observed them leaving the water onto the dock and eating
terrestrial insects offered on the dock such as wingless fruit flies.
<Indeed, does seem a substantial part of their diet in the wild includes
terrestrial insects collected during such excursions.>
I also have “jungle” style plants that allow the ropes to rest at the
surface by sitting on the plants trying my hardest to simulate the reedy
swamp like condition of their natural environment.
I really am having a hard time finding video or pictures of them in the
wild and also finding the “poison” used to catch them and exploring if
that is discouraging tank breeding.
<Can't help here, I'm afraid. I'm not aware of 'poisons' being used to
catch this species.>
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the ecology of the fish and find
that some of the studies on locomotion and oxygen intake done in the
80’s have been the most helpful. I had not however thought about the
humid air they breath as fry might have something to do with the success
<Good luck! Neale.>
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions
The only reason I say “poison” is because I don’t know what they are
using. The only info I’ve gotten says they are collected by people using
a fence like structure to fence off a reedy area and the “use a chemical
to sedate or knock out” the fish so they can be easily collected. Any
ideas on the exact way they collect this species.
<None, I'm afraid.>
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions
I finally found where they were taking about the wild catching on here
and it was bob Fenner can you forward this convo onto him?
<I don't have any further useful input. BobF>
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:,
- 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 Groups
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, Crustaceans...),
eBook on Amazon
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
- Maintenance/Operation: General Maintenance,
Algae, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health,
- Freshwater Aquarium Science:
Behavior, Topics, Reference and Aquatics Writing Business, Reviews,