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FAQs on Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives Environmental Disease

FAQs on Gourami Disease: Gourami Disease 1, Gourami Disease 2, Gourami Disease 3, Gourami Disease 4,
FAQs on Gourami Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic Treatments

Related Articles: Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives, Genera Ctenopoma & Microctenopoma, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish,  

Related FAQs:  Gouramis 1, Gouramis 2, Gourami Identification, Gourami Behavior, Gourami Compatibility, Gourami Selection, Gourami Systems, Gourami Feeding, Gourami Reproduction, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish,

Reddish tint on gourami fins = ammonia issue?      2/1/16
Hi team, hope you had a great weekend. I added a nice set of 5 feisty cherry barbs to my year-old aquarium last week--love them so far--and they acclimated themselves very quickly.
<Would plan to get a few more unless the tank is tiny... Cherry Barbs look best in largish groups, 8 or more, ideally half that group being females.
But yes, a great species.>
However, today I noticed my two gourami (one gold and one Opaline) are starting to redden on their caudal fins, radiating from the body. I also noticed the spots where their pectoral fins meet their bodies becoming red.
They are eating well but their fins are folding more than normal, and they are a bit more lethargic than normal, although not laying on the bottom. Also, the gold gourami's colors aren't as bold. No open stores tonight for a testing kit but I read that this could be potential ammonia poisoning, possibly due to a spike from adding so many fish at once and/or overfeeding?
<Could easily be, or fin-nipping, or fighting. So you need to review. Take an ammonia test, though honestly, I prefer to use nitrite test kits because they both reveal filter problems but nitrite is less likely to report a false positive (neutralised chloramine for example can register as ammonia, so check some tap water with water conditioner added, and compare to your aquarium water ammonia test results).>
The gourami are occasionally gasping for air (more than just a typical anabantid gulp) which furthers my thought that it's ammonia.
<Might be, but they do of course breathe air, as you state, and do so more often the warmer the water.>
I skipped their meal tonight, did a 30% water change, and will get a testing kit tomorrow. Is there anything else I can/should do? Is there any hope for my fish? Also, if I should keep doing changes now, where can/should I get healthy water in a pinch? The packaged "aquarium water" from the local big box?
Thanks in advance!
<For now, stick with daily water changes around 25% or so, until such time the fish behave more normally. Medicating as per Finrot isn't a bad idea, but you might find the fish heal under their own steam if conditions improve. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Reddish tint on gourami fins = ammonia issue?        2/3/16

Following up! Both conditioned water (used Prime) and tank water tested 0 for all ammonia--no nitrite kits at LFS--so I guess that's not the problem?
<Looks like that's true, yes.>
Could last night's 25% have changed everything? 1 gourami looks a little better but the other seems worse, jumpy and a bit of shimmy, if those terms are correct.
<Water changes *do* indeed fix a lot of problems. A good rule of thumb is to see what happens if you do a big water change, 25-50%, keeping temperature and water chemistry the same. If the fish perk up, the problem is probably environmental, and medicine might not be needed if you can fix things quickly enough. Perhaps do a series of water changes, once every day or two, for a week, ten days. After that, good chance everything will be fine.>
Cherries and Corys seem fine. Haven't fed in a day and doing another 25% as I write, as you suggested.
<Cool; good luck! Neale.>
Re: Reddish tint on gourami fins = ammonia issue?        2/3/16

Thanks Neale! I'll report back in a week. You're awesome.
<Not sure the Mrs. agrees, but I try! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Reddish tint on gourami fins = ammonia issue?      2/6/15

Reporting back again... You guys and ladies are amazing... I have done alternate day 25% water changes this week like you suggested and have started feeding slowly (once and then twice a day, smaller amounts, one pellet after lights out for Corys instead of 2 at dinner) and everything is looking much better. Redness in fins is almost gone, Opaline is unfolding fins more, is more active, and is chasing the gold 3-spot relentlessly again (I know, only one per tank, I'm a believer now), their normal
dynamic. Gold 3-spot is still a little frantic but has better coloration.
More water changes, test for ammonia, less food, and patience... And never ever buy a vertical tank. I've learned my lessons from great teachers.
<Glad to be able to help you enjoy this hobby! Thanks for the kind words.
Cheers, Neale.>

Bloated Gourami    1/13/13
The severe bloating occurred in less than 48 hours. I have a 55 gallon tank that has been established for about three years. The residents are 4 Pearl Gouramis (one male, three female), 1 female Moonlight Gourami, 1 Ctenopoma acutirostre, 1 African Knifefish, and 1 female Betta. The Betta and Ctenopoma were added about a year ago and I've had the others for three years. There are no aggression issues, everyone gets along. The water is 75F, 3GH, 3KH. I do 30% water changes every week. I feed tropical crisps twice daily, and thawed bloodworms three times a week. Two days ago all the fish were fine and normal. Yesterday I fed them, but didn't look closely, so I don't know how she was. Today, one of the female Pearl gouramis is extremely bloated. She looks like she swallowed a golf ball!. Her abdomen is bulged out on both sides so she is almost as wide as she is long. The bloating is bending her back so her nose is pointing upwards. Despite this, she is swimming around like normal, her colour is bright, eyes clear, fins not clamped or ragged. Her scales are not protruding The other fish are not harassing her. What could have caused her to bloat so extremely and suddenly? I have clove oil in case I should euthanize her.
<Provided she is still active and feeding, there's a good chance she can recover. Dropsy occurs when fluid accumulates within the body cavity. Though often considered terminal, it can be cured if caught early. Start by raising the water temperature to 28-30 degrees C/82-86 degrees F, then add 1-3 teaspoons of Epsom salt (not tonic salt) per 20 litres/5 gallons of water. Ideally, add an antibacterial medication. After about a week, the swelling should subside. Since dropsy is usually a sign the fish was stressed by its environment, this would be a good time to review things like filtration and water changes. Because Dropsy is almost always caused by some sort of environmental stress, review the aquarium conditions.
Stocking, water changes, water quality, filtration, etc. Diet can be an issue in herbivorous and omnivorous fish that aren't getting adequate sources of fibre, such as algae, cooked peas, brine shrimp and daphnia.
Cheers, Neale.>

General questions about Gourami  4/19/08 Hello! I came across your website today while I was looking for information about Gouramis. I'm quite new to fish ownership, so please excuse any stupid questions I might pose. I started off with a small tank, only 20L (which I believe is only about a really tiny 5 gallons...) <Way too small for practically any tropical fish. Almost any problems you have will come down to the tank, so your NUMBER-1 priority is replacing this with a system at least 20 gallons in size. Ten gallon and smaller tanks simply aren't easy for inexperienced aquarists to maintain or stock properly.> I have a Silvertip Tetra, 2 Corys and a 'Gold' Three-Spot Gourami. <All completely non-viable in here. While I'm happy to help explain any specific problems, none of these fish will last long (or be happy!) in here for any length of time. So "fixing" the problems is a waste of your time (and likely their lives). The Silvertip tetra MUST be kept in a group of six or more specimens and easily needs a "long" 20 gallon (in metric terms, that's something like a 75 gallon tank not less than 60 cm in length). The Corydoras need something similar, and should certainly be kept in groups of 4-6 specimens, minimum. Three-spot Gouramis are BIG fish when mature, around 10-15 cm, and even a 20 gallon tank is too small for a territorial male. When mature, males of this species are incredibly aggressive and disruptive.> P.H. level is 7.0 and has never gone more than 0.2 up or down. <Still WAY more pH change than happens in an aquarium properly set up; small tanks are intrinsically unstable, and this is one aspect of the problem. Instability = dead fish.> There's only one plant as previous ones were eaten... <No, not eaten. They died, and then decayed. Tanks as small as the one you have almost never come with strong enough lights for plants to grow. Furthermore, inexperienced aquarists are often sold non-aquatic plants, often under such names as "umbrella ferns" and "dragon plants" and the like. As with fish, you need to research plants *before* purchase, otherwise you WILL be sold junk. An informed shopper is a successful shopper.> I have yet to pick up an ammonia kit, and should be getting one tomorrow. Last week one Cory cat died, so I wanted to ask about that as well. It just became quite listless, and would often 'fall over' onto its side. It showed no signs of disease, and I did see it eat, though perhaps not as much as it used to. <Likely chronically bad water quality, insufficient water movement, inadequate oxygenation. Or multiple causes. Anyway, no surprises here.> The other fish seem fine though, which brings me to my actual question. Near its tail, my Gourami seems to have some kind of 'bubble' in its body. Like a clear lump that looks like a bubble...I was just wondering whether it's something to worry about, <Yes... likely an incipient bacterial infection of some kind.> or whether I just haven't noticed that part of its anatomy. It's quite young, I believe, only 6cm long (not even 3 inches), if that's any help. <Still needs treating with a reliable antibacterial/antibiotic (NOT Melafix/Pimafix).> I do water changes every week, and I always remove uneaten food. Thanks, Kit. <Water changes every week don't even begin to come close to solving the problems you have here. If you're one of the people who gets offended by me saying "everything you're doing is wrong" I apologise for hurting your feelings in advance. But yes, you are doing everything wrong, and the chances of success are virtually nil. None of these fish will be happy in this system, even if by some miracle they survive. They MUST HAVE a 20 gallon/75 litre aquarium to be even close to happy and healthy. Your move. Cheers, Neale.>

Gourami cannot swim... new-tank syndrome?  03/04/2008 I have a 20 gallon tank with 3 hatchet fish, 3 ghost catfish, 3 neon tetras, and 1 Gourami. The tank is only about 2 weeks old. <Yikes! I hope it is cycled... Do you know what this means?> Two days ago I noticed that the Gourami was lying on the bottom of the tank, but then he returned to acting normal. The next morning he could not swim right, his head always seems to be above his body, like its lighter than the rest of him. Later that day he could not eat and he was doing spastic back flips and spiraling with no coordination. He looks completely healthy. He seems to be going downhill. Any suggestions that you have will be well appreciated. <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. You don't offer sufficient info. for a useful response... I suspect this environment is not ready for fish life period. Bob Fenner>

Blue Gourami with black head -- is he sick?  -02/20/08 I have a blue Gourami that is at least 3 or 4 years old -- he's (I call him a he but have no idea if he is a he or she) <Males have long, pointed dorsal fins.> in a 10 gallon tank along with 2 goldfish, 2 neon tetras, and 1 sucker fish. Has been in the same tank with these fish for about 2-1/2 to 3 years. No problems so far. <All this in a 10 gallon tank? Madness. The sucker fish is either a Pterygoplichthys catfish (average size 30-45 cm at maturity) or Gyrinocheilus aymonieri (only slightly smaller but infamous for its aggression). The Goldfish need a tank at least three times this size all by themselves. Oh, and Neons are schooling fish, and are only happy when kept in schools of six or more. While you might not have had problems yet, that's rather akin to a guy not killing himself at the first round of Russian Roulette and so declaring the game "safe".> We were away on vacation for the past 3 days and when we returned home last night, we noticed his head has turned black or maybe a really dark blue. It covers his entire head back to his first set of fins on either side. He is swimming around just fine and he is eating just fine -- not acting like there is a problem. The only thing that we did differently when we were away was that we: 1) fed them all using a 3-day tablet feed; <No need to feed fish for a 3-day vacation; in fact it is safer not to.> and 2) turned the heater on in the tank since we'd be away and the house would be slightly colder so the tank temperature was about 2 degrees F higher than normal. <How warm is this aquarium otherwise? How do you keep tropical fish in an aquarium without a heater? Unless your home is constantly at around 25C/77F day in, day out then these fish are not at all being kept correctly. Seriously: are you winding me up? Big fish in a tiny, unheated tank!! This sounds like someone trying to wind me up... everything is wronger than the wrongest thing that anyone has ever gotten wrong.> All the other fish are fine and he seems fine, I just do not know what this color is. Should I be concerned? <Very, very, concerned, though not specifically for the Gourami. Without a photo, can't say what's going on. Could be viral or even nerve damage (which affects the chromatophores) but this fish sometimes change colours thanks to genetic abnormalities.> If so, what should I be doing? <Buying a bigger tank and leaving the heater on all year around would be a start.> Thanks ahead of time for your help, Pam <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Blue Gourami with black head -- is he sick?  2/21/08 Thanks for your comments -- I get the suggestion about the size of the tank and about not feeding them when only away for 3 days. Will do. <Very good.> I need to explain about the heater being off/on. The tank is located near a heated radiator (yes, I live in a home that is 80 plus years old and is heated with radiators, not vents or baseboard heating) and it is located near a window that has sunlight coming in most of the daytime. So, the heater is not always on because the temperature spikes so severely in the winter daytime when it is sunny. I've tried different heater types so that I do not have this problem and it's the same. Moving the tank is not an option -- no other location for it. When we go away, however, the heater is always on. This was the case this past weekend when we were away. <OK. So long as the tank doesn't go above 30C at its hottest or below 20C at its coolest, you're fine. But I would try placing aluminum foil (for example) behind the tank to reflect away some of the sunlight. If pasted behind the aquarium backdrop you won't see the foil. Placing a fan above the tank in summer, to increase evaporation, will also help cool things down. Regardless, putting tanks on windowsills above radiators isn't considered best practise!> Back to the Gourami-- here are a few shots that I took just now. I have inserted them into this email and am attaching them as well. I hope you can get an idea of what I mean by his head being black or dark blue with these. They are the best I could get with a not so great camera -- sorry if they are not so great. <Odd, but I don't think dangerous.><<Is not... just neurological impairment. RMF>>999 Any ideas on what this is? <No idea.> Thanks for your help. Pam <The fish is a male, by the way. Cheers, Neale.>

Interesting comment on Gourami... Darkening beh.    2/26/08 Hi there! <Kerstin> I wanted to respond to an email sent in the other day, where Pam had a Gourami that turned partially black. Your comments were: Neale - Odd, but I don't think dangerous; Bob - Is not... just neurological impairment. <Please do> I wanted to write to you because I have seen this as well. Two years ago I purchased a Blue Gourami and several Guppies for my son's class aquarium. About one month after this purchase, another mom also donated some fish. We never figured out the exact type of fish, but we know that one of them was extremely aggressive, to the point that every other fish in the tank lived in a 2x2xtank-height column of the tank. By the time I saw this, the front half of the Gourami had turned black, so I asked another teacher (who had several guppy tanks) if she would take the fish, which she happily did. When I saw Pam's query, I asked the teacher if she still had the Gourami, and if he ever turned all blue again. Her response was: "Yes, all the time! I put him in my turtle tank because he tended to be aggressive with any other fish. Any time that I add water, clean or feed, the fish darkens. His whole body turns black -- not just his head. Once I get away from the tank, he starts to lighten up. He pretty much goes back to gray/white in about 30 minutes... No response is necessary - I just thought it was interesting that someone else wrote about this situation as well. Thanks for your great website that lets us learn about cool things like this, Kerstin <Thank you for sharing. Such darkening can be temporary or not... depending on cause... Bob Fenner>

Gourami laying on the bottom - 6/7/07
Hi, <Hello to you!> Your website is wonderful; <Thank you:-)> I have been reading the Gourami Disease section in search of ideas for my situation, but didn't quite find what I might do next, so here goes: <OK- ready> My urgent concern is our dwarf red honey Gourami: last night he was at the top of the tank in the corner near the heater, barely moving and not interested in food; now, he is laying on the bottom, breathing heavily. I cannot see any obvious symptoms (no white spots, no injuries, scales look OK...) <First thing to check is environmental conditions.> I have had him (?) one week. <Did you quarantine this fish prior to adding him to your aquarium? You should always, always, ALWAYS QT new livestock for 2-4 weeks, to observe for signs of illness and to prevent bringing any diseases or parasites into your main tank. With regard to whether you've got a boy or girl, usually the coloration is the best way to tell- the males are much more vibrantly colored, whereas the girls are paler...I suggest doing an image search on Google to see the difference for yourself.> Aquarium details: it is an Eclipse 12 (12 gallon), with 2 live plants (Amazon sword, pennywort), 2 rock features, and currently has 3 zebra Danios, 4 platies, 1 small sucker fish, the one Gourami. Current readings are PH 7.6, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 40, temperature 78. <A 12 gallon tank isn't much room to play with stocking schemes. Although the dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) doesn't reach much over 2", it does require very good water conditions to stay healthy, and this is harder to achieve in small systems. I'm glad both the ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero, but nitrates should be no more than 20 ppm. You should do a water change ASAP to lower the nitrates. Question: did you cycle this tank prior to adding fish? How long has the tank been established? If you don't know what I'm referring to, please read here for a helpful introduction: http://www.tropicalfishcentre.co.uk/Cycle.htm With regard to the "sucker fish", do you have any idea of the fish's scientific name? Is it a common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus)? If so, be aware this fish should reach over 12", possibly up to 18" in its adulthood...a 12 gal. tank is way too small to accommodate it. I can't say for certain this is what you have, but many times when folks say "sucker fish", this is what they mean. The zebra Danios (Danio rerio) also cannot tolerate poor water conditions at all, and will succumb to bleeding or ulceration of the gills if they are exposed to ammonia even in the slightest. These fish prefer being kept in schools, but you obviously must have the space for this. Also, the zebra Danios can be nippy...keep an eye out for unduly aggressive behavior, which can be exacerbated by small living quarters.> I'll give a bit of history, as there has been a lot going on in this last week. A week ago, we had the 3 zebra Danios, 2 platies, 4 serpae tetras. One of the tetras died. A water test showed our nitrates too high (80) so we did a 25% water change (we usually do this every 3 weeks, we've had the tank since January). <OK- let's pause here. In a fully stocked 12 gallon, I would suggest doing a 50% water change weekly. You must ensure that ammonia and nitrites do not ever exceed zero, and again, nitrates can only safely be as high as 20 ppm (but lower is obviously preferable). I imagine that there's been a good deal of toxic buildup during the 3-weeks before your water change is due. I highly recommend you step up the amount and frequency of water changes ASAP. Also, how often do you change the carbon filters? These should be swapped out at least every month.> We add 2T of aquarium salt, <OK- can promote fish slime coat production, helping keep everyone healthy> and got 2 new fish, <Why would you do this when your water conditions weren't pristine? Not a smart idea...> the Gourami and the sucker fish (and the pennywort). About 5 days later, one of the platies was dead (we think she had been pregnant as she was quite tubby for about a month, then a day or so before she died, she wasn't so tubby). <She could well have been pregnant, and I would imagine the Gourami would have consumed the fry. Pregnancy and giving birth will cause some level of stress in fish (just like humans!), making the fish more likely to succumb to disease caused by poor environmental conditions.> The 3 remaining tetras were not getting along -- one was being a bully chasing after the others to where fins were getting frayed (in fact, the fins of the platies were too so maybe the tetra was after them). <Yes- not a good mix, especially in such a small tank. Did you research the compatibility prior to purchasing the fish? In the future, I do suggest doing so. In fact, when stocking a tank, it's best to pick one fish you "must" have, then plan tankmates around what the best companions will be. Obviously, you must consider environmental as well as temperament compatibility. I like to suggest David E. Boruchowitz's The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums for a helpful section on stocking (not to mention cycling, disease, etc. I must say, however, that I don't agree with that author's use of fish for cycling purposes...)> We returned all the tetras to our fish store; <Good.> they checked our water and found our PH at 8 (all other readings OK). <You truly should have your own quality liquid test kit, so that you can check ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH every week both prior to and after your water changes. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals puts out a good one which I personally use: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=4454&N=2004+114130 When you bring a water sample to your fish store, chances are the water parameters have changed by the time you get to the store, so you aren't getting an accurate reading. Not to mention many fish shop employees don't perform tests properly, or don't use quality test kits, thus giving false results. Also, "the water was OK" is so highly subjective that it is of virtually no use.> They gave us Neutral Regulator which we used (and now are PH is at 7.6, they recommended we wait a week until we try to lower it more). <Don't muck about with the pH! Stability is much better than precision, when you are dealing with relatively small changes. If your tap water is so off-the-charts, then I suggest switching to de-ionized or reverse osmosis/de-ionized water, which produces water of a neutral pH that must then be adjusted; otherwise, adding all sorts of chemicals can only cause pollution and instability, in my opinion. My best advice here is to throw the stuff out, and start doing independent research via books, periodicals, the 'net, instead of the fish store...> About the time we adjusted the PH is when the Gourami began to act odd (in fact, as we added the regulator powder, the Gourami was trying to eat it). <Obviously not a good sign. Truly, you don't need this product the store likely "pushed" on you. So long as the fish have been properly acclimated, they can accept a range of pH conditions. Better to concentrate on the toxins your tank's water is accumulating, as this is the likely cause of the fish's woes.> This was also the same day we added the 3 new platies. <You *must* stop adding new fish until you've achieved stability in a fish tank! You are only looking for problems by adding new livestock to an instable tank.> Maybe we did too much at one time? <Yes. Simplify what you are doing. See above for suggestions re: weekly water changes, stocking, etc. And please stop purchasing new fish - your tank is fully stocked!> I called our fish store today; without seeing the fish they wondered if there might be a gill disease. They recommended a small water change, so I've just changed out 1.5 gallons (adding salt to the new water). Gourami is still laying on the bottom...we couldn't decide whether to take him to the fish store so they could look at him or if that might do him in...Anything you can suggest is welcome. <Get a test kit. Test the water. Make sure ammonia and nitrite are at zero and nitrates no more than 20 ppm. If you don't have a test kit readily on hand, I'd suggest doing a 50% water change. I'd be willing to bet this fish is suffering from poor environmental conditions, that's all. Once you've ensured the water parameters are good, re-assess the fish's condition. If he's still not better, I'd suggest isolating him into his own hospital/QT tank; bringing him to the fish store will likely just cause undue stress. In the meantime, while you are waiting for him to recover, the best thing you can do is educate yourself as to basic fish requirements. The book I recommend above is a good place to start, but there are many others. Also, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm > Jana <Jana, start from the beginning. Re-assess what you are doing, since it isn't normal to lose so many fish in such a short period of time. Once you get the water parameters under control, I believe you'll have much more success in the hobby, and in turn, more enjoyment. Best of luck, Jorie>
Re: Another case of poor environmental conditions doing the FW livestock in... f' Gourami laying on the bottom  6/10/07 Thanks so much for your reply. <You are welcome, Jana.> You've given us tons of useful information and links <Hope I've helped> (my 9-yr-old daughter is the "official" owner of the tank, but I am closely involved...). <Sounds good. Definitely great that your daughter is interested and wants to learn, but good that you are involved as well!> Our Gourami has since died -- we took him to our LFS and they examined him and researched on the web/in books and concluded it was a combo of parasites and a bacterial infection. <Did they give you specific reasons for their conclusion? Forgive me, but based on what you've told me of this store so far, I have less than great faith in their diagnosis. A truly good book to invest in is The Tropical Fishlopedia (authors Burgess and Bailey) - it is not as easy of a "read" as the previous book I suggested (Boruchowitz's Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums), but is very useful in helping to diagnose and treat illnesses. At this point, I would advise you to obtain as much information from independent sources as possible. This isn't to say the LFS (local fish store) is always wrong, but I've just found so many times it's safer to do your own research and be a non-reliant upon a store as possible.> They suggested we treat our entire tank <You don't ever want to medicate your entire tank - you will destroy your nitrogen cycle, and likely many of the fish in the process. This is another reason I suggest you try do educate yourself without the help of this LFS...this was truly bad advice on their part.> and gave us BettaMax blended antibiotic capsules (to be used for 3 total treatments, one every other day) and loaned us a oxygen pump to add more oxygen while we do this and told us to take our carbon filter out. <They are right that medication can rob the water of its oxygen content, and also right that the carbon will remove the medication. However, I do not believe they were correct to suggest you medicate the whole tank. Having said that, what's done is done and you may as well finish the treatment (same concept as human antibiotics; best not to stop mid-course). Be aware that you will have to re-cycle the tank, so you should be keeping a very close eye on water parameters via your own test kit.> We have given the tank one treatment; so far all remaining fish look happy. <Keep a close eye.> Readings: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20 (guess that 1.5 gal water change yesterday helped). <Time to do another water change is the nitrates are at 20. I'd suggest a few gallons at least...> I think your conclusion that we let the nitrates get too high (and need to do water changes more often replacing more water) is indeed what got us into trouble. But shall we stop the medication treatment at this point? <I wouldn't - see above. But I would suggest continuing to do water changes during treatment; the directions may say something contrary, but you don't want to re-create the problem nitrate situation again. If you are treating every other day, I'd suggest doing water changes on the "off" days (caveat: you must test your water frequently and do more water changes if necessary - with livestock in the uncycled tank, it's a bit of a catch-22, but ultimately you must remember that fish cannot take buildups of toxins.) We do not QT our new fish; after this experience it shows that that is definitely a good idea. <Yes - so many of us have learned the "hard" way. I once purchased a couple dwarf rainbows that destroyed almost an entire tank worth of livestock by not using a QT...it truly is a must in this hobby. You don't need anything fancy, just a tank, some sort of filtration, plus a heater and thermometer.> I will research what we need to set up a QT tank. Do you suggest that we just basically always keep a QT tank at the ready to accept new (or sick) fish? <I do not keep my QT tank running at all times. Usually I will QT new arrivals for several weeks, making sure that all is well. I then transfer the new specimens into their "homes" and leave the QT up for a week or so just to make sure the transition goes well. Then, I'll break down the tank and clean it well (using bleach, and rinsing very very well, even adding a bit of chlorine remover for good measure!) to ensure that any parasites are eradicated. That's not to say I haven't had to "urgently" setup a hospital tank in emergency situations, but I don't really see how that can be avoided...> We did cycle the tank when we got it. This was in January -- we did the Fishless method of cycling (based on articles by Chris Cow and Rebecca Townsend; it took a bit over a month and worked exactly as they described and we really liked the idea of not using fish to do the cycling). <Wonderful - I am so happy to hear this!!> So we do have a Master Test Kit (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals) and are pretty good at testing our water; but didn't test often enough these last couple months I'm afraid which led to our high nitrates. <Okay - sounds good. Don't beat yourself up, just learn from your mistakes. Somehow I got the impression your fish store was testing water for you (perhaps that was just a one-time thing, when you asked them for help?) In any case, I'm so glad that you have your own kit. So many folks don't, and that really isn't a good idea...> We had been changing out our carbon filter every time we did a water change; with your recommendation that we change water more frequently we will modify this to change the filter monthly. When doing a 50% change every week, do we vacuum the gravel each time also? <You want to get any leftover food and obvious waste products out, but I don't think you need to do a thorough gravel vacuuming each week. In all honesty, my freshwater tank is heavily planted, so I really don't "vacuum" per se; I use a piece of flexible tubing to remove debris resting on the surface of the substrate, and that's about it. Maybe try doing your gravel vacuuming once a month or so, and adjust as dictated by test kit results?> We usually take the rocks out but leave the fish & plants in -- will this still work? <Unless you're seeing a huge algae buildup, I don't think you need to remove all the rocks on a weekly basis- this can be quite stressful on the fish. I'd say just use your best judgment...of course if the rocks need scrubbing, you'll have to remove them, but again, I don't think that'll be necessary each week. Most importantly, just keep the water clean - simply siphoning out the water into a 5 gal. bucket seems to work well for me/us> And I'll leave the pH alone now as you suggest. <I do think stability is key here...the fish you currently have are not so very sensitive that they can't live in the 7.8 (or even 8.0) pH you mention. You just want to avoid big ups and downs...> Our sucker fish is not a common Pleco -- they suggested this tiny guy who will not get very big but I can't read their writing as to what he is (looks like Ptoemclis? Ptounchs? -- maybe I'd better call them to find out!). <Hmmm...am looking in my freshwater encyclopedia, but cannot find what you are referring to. I would suggest calling (or perhaps Bob Fenner can offer an opinion when he posts this? In any case, I'm glad to hear this isn't a common Pleco. At least you weren't duped into buying one of the latter by your LFS...one point in their favor!> We had some brown algae growing on our rocks and acrylic walls and they suggested he would help clean it up. <Aha - a clue! I'm thinking Otocinclus affinis - does this look like your little aquatic friend? http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=11332&genusname=Otocinclus&speciesname=affinis (be patient, www.fishbase.org takes *forever* to load, but it's a great resource/internet site) If so, *when* your tank is re-cycled and all your problems solved, I would recommend getting a couple more of these, as they do best in trios or more. And, I think that'll keep you within an acceptable stocking range, based on your previous information...> (The brown algae appeared about a month ago; we scraped it off at first, some grew back though not as much, and the sucker fish is so far keeping it pretty clean). <The Otos will help with the algae, but a few additional pointers regarding algae control: don't overfeed, don't over light (and keep the tank away from direct sunlight), and regular water changes. If algae becomes a big problem, check the phosphate levels, as these will usually be off-the-charts. The above-mentioned remedies will usually control the situation, but there are also filter media available to help (I personally use and recommend the PolyFilter for assistance with phosphate control). So, we're left with our 3 zebra Danios, 4 platies, and the sucker fish. I'll read your suggested reference about stocking; my daughter is keen to get another fish or two but it sounds like your recommendation is that our tank is full (and in the future we will go slow on getting new additions -- I am disappointed that our LFS didn't slow us down on that). <Again, I do think a few more Otos (if that's indeed what you have) would work, but only after everything is stable and well. Also, re-assure your daughter that your platys, being livebearers, will likely reproduce again, and again, and again...in fact, a bit of "population control" may be needed. Once you get everything stabilized, a single dwarf Gourami may be OK, but again, these beautiful creatures do require very good water conditions. Just take it slow and you'll likely have much more success this second time around!> Thank you SO much for all your comments. Jana <Best of luck, Jorie>

New Gourami in Trouble?   7/22/06 To WWM Crew! I have devoured your site and it has helped tremendously in my understanding and knowledge of my new aquarium and all fish.  Thank you so very much for your time and passion about fish!!!! <Welcome!> I have kept fish for years, but mostly a molly tank for kids or Bettas and am now a first-time "real" aquarium owner, fresh-water, 25 gallon tank.  My tank has been cycling since June 26th and I have several questions, a few out of curiosity, and two in particular because I just added a new Gourami to my tank and am not sure all is well. My water stats this AM are: 25 gallon Eclipse 2 Bio-Wheel System (flow 200GPH) PH 7.2 Temp 80 degrees Lighting Fluorescent  7am-10pm Ammonia between .25 and .50 <Should be zip...> Nitrite .25 <Ditto... these are deadly toxic> Nitrate 5.0 <Evidently cycling, beginning to cycle> new algae present <More evidence> Live and plastic plants (just added live ones this week) 1 partial water change 2 weeks ago (25% water changed) 1st Carbon filter change 2 days ago Live Bacteria added at start-up and when shark added 2 weeks ago <... better by far to wait on adding livestock till after no ammonia, nitrite detectable> 4 Serpae Tetras & 4 Lemon Tetras (started the tank) 1 red-tailed shark (added 2 weeks ago) 1 new Gourami (added yesterday) 1.  My Ammonia and Nitrite climbed the last two days is this from new fish and plant adjustments? <From the fish... and an incomplete cycle> 2.  I was sold shrimp pellets for my red-tailed shark at the LFS, which just  sink to the bottom and stay there.  He does nibble on them but I am concerned he will not be getting good nutrition? <Possibly... and these pellets are likely polluting the system> 3.  My red-tailed shark and the tetras got along really well for 2 weeks and within the last 3 days, the shark has chased them all around the tank into the plants.  Then he decided he wanted them out of the plants, too, but since they are now upward, he is pretty much happy with the bottom of the tank as long as they keep clear.  Is this just his way of establishing his territory? <Generally yes... but some individuals prove too "mean" and should be separated. Not compatible with many community fishes, particularly in small volumes> 4.  I REALLY wanted a Discus, but did not feel confident yet to experiment with one so went with Gourami.  At the LFS I was told it was a Sunset Male Gourami that would end up at about 6 inches.   <Mmm, not by this common name... this is likely a Dwarf... Colisa lalia> But, after research, it looks more like red or honey dwarf Gourami.  I can tell it is a male by the fins (See attached video and still photo taken this morning of Gourami). <Files were too big... and don't see that you re-sent re-sized as requested> My questions are:  what kind is it really?  I have seen conflicting info on keep in groups, only one male, keep several males, etc.  Do I keep this fish by itself, or add a companion female or male?  Which is the best?  Do I have <Take a look on the net, fishbase.org using the scientific name provided... best to keep in mixed sexes> enough space to add another one?   <Yes a twenty five is large enough>   Also, he seems to be exhibiting strange gill behavior (see video) where his mouth is moving rapidly and so are gills is this just stress from new environment or something else? <Likely the former only> Also, this morning I notice a few "bumps" on one side, not sores, not Ich-looking per say, but I do not recall seeing this yesterday.  He is swimming and eating so far, but I am a little nervous. <Fix the environment... see WWM re ammonia, nitrite, cycling...> 5.  My tank size, can it handle any more fish at this point? <No, fishes should not be present currently period> I would like to add a few Rasbora in a few weeks, or some other top-swimmer to complete tank, but am concerned if Gourami is NOT dwarf, I will have over-stocked my tank. <A valid concern> 6.  Finally, what is best diet for this community tank?  I have flakes and shrimp pellets, but want to make sure I have healthy and colorful fish.  I have read yes on brine shrimp and no on brine shrimp and yes to worms and no to worms, but in your experience, what is the best diet, e.g., how often and what variety.  Do I need algae pellets for the shark or Gourami? <A standard "stock" prepared food with bite-sized frozen (to be defrosted) meaty treat should be fine here. See WWM...> Thank you thank you, for your time and expertise.  I want to keep a good tank and healthy fish and appreciate your input! Corianne Durkee <Glad to proffer it. Please send along the re-sized (a few hundred Kbytes) image if you want a further ID... and read where directed. Bob Fenner>

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